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G.R. No. L-2352
July 26, 1910
ELADIO ALONSO, plaintiff-appellee, vs. TOMAS VILLAMOR, ET AL., defendants-appellants. Ledesma, Sumulong and Quintos, for appellants. J. C. Knudson, for appellee. MORELAND, J.: This is an action brought to recover of the defendants the value of certain articles taken from a Roman Catholic Church located in the municipality of Placer, and the rental value of the church and its appurtenances, including the church cemetery, from the 11th day of December, 1901, until the month of April, 1904. After hearing the evidence, the court below gave judgment in favor of the plaintiff for the sum of P1,581, with interest at 6 per cent from the date of the judgment. The said sum of P1,581 was made up of two items, one of which, P741, was for the value of the articles taken from the church, and the other, P840, the rental value of the premises during the occupations by defendants. From this judgment the defendants appealed to this court. It appears that the defendants were on the 11th day of December, 1901, members of the municipal board of the municipality of Placer, and that they on that date addressed to the plaintiff in this case, who was the priest in charge of the church, its appurtenances and contents, the following letter: PLACER, 11th December, 1901. R. P. ELADIO ALONSO, Benedicto, Suriago. ESTEEMED PADRE: After saluting you, we take the liberty of writing you that in the municipality of which we have charged we have received an order from the provincial fiscal, dated the 5th instant, which says: "The cemeteries, convents, and the other buildings erected on land belonging to the town at the expense of the town and preserved by it belong to the town, and for this reason the municipality is under the obligation of administering them and of collecting the revenues therefrom, and for this reason we notify you that from this date all of the revenues and products therefrom must be turned into the treasury of the municipality in order that the people may properly preserve them. In the same way we notify you that the image of St. Vicente which is now in the church, as it is an image donated to the people by its owner, by virtue of said order is also the property of said people, and therefore the alms which are given it by the devotees thereof must be also turned into the municipal treasury for the proper preservation of the church and for other necessary purposes. We hope that you will view in the proper light and that you will deliver to the bearer of this letter the key of the alms box of the said image in order that we may comply with our obligation in conformity with the dispositions of said order. We beg to remain as always by your spiritual sons. Q. B. S. M. (Signed) ANDRES OJEDA.
TOMAS VILLAMOR. ANDRES CALINAUAN. BERNARDINO TANDOY. EUSEBIO LIRIO. ELEUTERIO MONDAYA. MAXIMO DELOLA. SEGUNDO BECERRO. ONOFRE ELIMANCE. On the 13th of December, 1901, the defendants took possession of the church and its appurtenances, and also of all of the personal property contained therein. The plaintiff, as priest of the church and the person in charge thereof, protested against the occupation thereof by the defendants, but his protests received no consideration, and he was summarily removed from possession of the church, its appurtenances and contents. The only defense presented by the defendants, except the one that the plaintiff was not the real party in interest, was that the church and other buildings had been erected by funds voluntarily contributed by the people of that municipality, and that the articles within the church had been purchased with funds raised in like manner, and that, therefore, the municipality was the owner thereof. The question as to the ownership of the church and its appurtenances, including the convent and cemetery, was before this court on the 23rd day of September, 1908, in an action entitled "The Roman 1 Catholic Apostolic Church against the municipality of Placer." Substantially the same facts were presented on the part of the defendants in that case as are presented by the defendants in this. The question there litigated was the claim upon the part of the municipality of ownership of said church and its appurtenances on the ground that according to Spanish law the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church was not the owner of such property, having only the use thereof for ordinary ecclesiastical and religious purposes, and that the true owner thereof was the municipality or the State by reason of the contributions by them, or by the people, of the land and of the funds with which the buildings were constructed or repaired. The court decided in that case that the claim of the defendants was not well founded and that the property belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. The same question was discussed and decided in the case of Barlin vs. Ramirez (7 Phil. Rep., 41), and the case of The Municipality of Ponce vs. Roman Catholic Apostolic Church in Porto Rico (28 Sup. Ct. Rep., 737, 6 Off. Gaz., 1213). We have made a careful examination of the record and the evidence in this case and we have no doubt that the property sued for was, at the time it was taken by the defendants, the property of the Roman Catholic Church, and that the seizure of the same and occupation of the church and its appurtenances by the defendants were wrongful and illegal. We are also convinced, from such examination, that the conclusions of the court below as to the value of the articles taken by the defendants and of the rent of the church for the time of its illegal occupation by the defendants were correct and proper. While some objection was made on appeal by counsel for the defendants that the value of the articles taken and of the rent of the church and its appurtenances had not been proved by competent evidence, no objection to the introduction of the evidence of value was made at the trial and we can not consider that question raised for the first time here.
We have carefully examined the assignments of error made by counsel for defendants on this appeal. We find none of them well founded. The only one which deserves especial attention at our hands is the one wherein the defendants assert that the court below erred in permitting the action to be brought and continued in the name of the plaintiff instead of in the name of the bishop of the diocese within which the church was located, or in the name of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, as the real party in interest. It is undoubted the bishop of the diocese or the Roman Catholic Apostic Church itself is the real party in interest. The plaintiff personally has no interest in the cause of action. Section 114 of the Code of Civil Procedure requires that every action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest. The plaintiff is not such party. Section 110 of the Code of Civil Procedure, however, provides: SEC. 110. Amendments in general. — The court shall, in furtherance of justice, and on such terms, if any, as may be proper, allow a party to amend any pleading or proceeding and at any stage of the action, in either the Court of First Instance or the Supreme Court, by adding or striking out the name of any party, either plaintiff or defendant, or by correcting a mistake in the name of a party, or a mistaken or inadequate allegation or description in any other respect so that the actual merits of the controversy may speedily be determined, without regard to technicalities, and in the most expeditious, and inexpensive manner. The court may also, upon like terms, allow an answer or other pleading to be made after the time limited by the rules of the court for filing the same. Orders of the court upon the matters provided in this section shall be made upon motion filed in court, and after notice to the adverse party, and an opportunity to be heard. Section 503 of the same code provides: SEC. 503. Judgment not to be reversed on technical grounds . — No judgment shall be reversed on formal or technical grounds, or for such error as has not prejudiced the real rights of the excepting party. We are confident under these provisions that this court has full power, apart from that power and authority which is inherent, to amend the process, pleadings, proceedings, and decision in this case by substituting, as party plaintiff, the real party in interest. Not only are we confident that we may do so, but we are convinced that weshould do so. Such an amendment does not constitute, really a change in the identity of the parties. The plaintiff asserts in his complaint, and maintains that assertion all through the record, that he is engaged in the prosecution of this case, not for himself, but for the bishop of the diocese —not by his own right, but by right of another. He seeks merely to do for the bishop what the bishop might do for himself. His own personality is not involved. His own rights are not presented. He claims no interest whatever in the litigation. He seeks only the welfare of the great church whose servant he is. Gladly permits his identity to be wholly swallowed up in that of his superior. The substitution, then, of the name of the bishop of the diocese, or the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, for that of Padre Alonso, as party plaintiff, is not in reality the substitution of one identity for another, of one party for another, but is simply to make the form express the substance. The substance is there. It appears all through the proceedings. No one is deceived for an instant as to whose interest are at stake. The form of its expression is alone defective. The substitution, then, is not substantial but formal. Defect in mere form can not possibly so long as the substantial is clearly evident. Form is a method of speech used to express substance and make it clearly appear. It is the means by which the substance reveals itself. If the form be faulty and still the substance shows plainly through no, harm can come by making the form accurately expressive of the substance. No one has been misled by the error in the name of the party plaintiff. If we should by reason of this error send this back for amendment and new trial, there would be on the retrial the same complaint, the same answer, the same defense, the same interests, the same witnesses, and the same evidence. The name
of the plaintiff would constitute the only difference between the old trial and the new. In our judgment there is not enough in a name to justify such action. There is nothing sacred about processes or pleadings, their forms or contents. Their sole purpose is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. They were created, not to hinder and delay, but to facilitate and promote, the administration of justice. They do not constitute the thing itself, which courts are always striving to secure to litigants. They are designed as the means best adapted to obtain that thing. In other words, they are a means to an end. When they lose the character of the one and become the other, the administration of justice is at fault and courts are correspondingly remiss in the performance of their obvious duty. The error in this case is purely technical. To take advantage of it for other purposes than to cure it, does not appeal to a fair sense of justice. Its presentation as fatal to the plaintiff's case smacks of skill rather than right. A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other. It is, rather, a contest in which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the court the facts in issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done upon the merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier's thrust. Technicality, when it desserts its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes its great hindrance and chief enemy, deserves scant consideration from courts. There should be no vested rights in technicalities. No litigant should be permitted to challenge a record of a court of these Islands for defect of form when his substantial rights have not been prejudiced thereby. In ordering this substitution, we are in accord with the best judicial thought. (McKeighan vs. Hopkins, 19 Neb., 33; Dixon vs. Dixon, 19 Ia., 512; Hodges vs. Kimball, 49 Ia., 577; Sanger vs. Newton, 134 Mass., 308; George vs. Reed, 101 Mass., 378; Bowden vs. Burnham, 59 Fed. Rep., 752; Phipps and Co. vs. Hurlburt, 70 Fed. Rep., 202; McDonal vs. State, 101 Fed. Rep., 171; Morford vs. Diffenbocker, 20 N. W., 600; Costelo vs. Costelo vs. Crowell, 134 Mass., 280; Whitaker vs. Pope, 2 Woods, 463, Fed. Cas. no. 17528; Miller vs. Pollock, 99 Pa. St., 202; Wilsonvs. Presbyterian Church, 56 Ga., 554; Wood vs. Circuit Judge, 84 Mich., 521; Insurance Co, vs. Mueller, 77 Ill., 22; Farman vs. Doyle, 128 Mich., 696; Union Bank vs. Mott, 19 How. Pr., 114; R. R. Co. vs. Gibson, 4 Ohio St., 145; Hume vs. Kelly, 28 Oreg., 398.) It is therefore, ordered and decreed that the process, pleadings, proceedings and decision in this action be, and the same are hereby, amended by substituting the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church in the place and stead of Eladio Alonso as party plaintiff, that the complaint be considered as though originally filed by the Catholic Church, the answer thereto made, the decision rendered and all proceedings in this case had, as if the said institution which Father Eladio Alonso undertook to represent were the party plaintiff, and that said decision of the court below, so amended, is affirmed, without special finding as to the costs. G.R. No. 150918 August 17, 2007
NEGROS MERCHANTS ENTERPRISES, INC., Petitioner, vs. CHINA BANKING CORPORATION, Respondent. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: This Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the September 7, 2001 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 65127, which annulled and set aside the September 22, 2000 and March 19, 2001 3 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 41 in Civil Case No. 99-10707, as well as the 4 November 12, 2001 Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration. The facts of the case are as follows:
On August 23, 1993, petitioner Negros Merchants Enterprises, Inc. (NMEI), through its President and General Manager, Jacinto Y. Tan, Jr., applied for an P8 million Credit Accommodation with respondent China Banking Corporation (CBC), with terms "ONE YEAR LOAN LINE, RENEWABLE AND RE5 6 AVAILABLE ANNUALLY THEREAFTER." The loan was secured by a real estate mortgage over its 7 8 properties covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. T-139095 and T-139096. On December 21, 1994, petitioner, through Tan, applied for an additional Case-to-Case Loan 9 worth P1,500,000.00. Both loans were respectively paid on January 31 and March 27, 1996. Meanwhile, beginning March 19, 1996, petitioner allegedly re-availed the P8 million credit line under the 10 original Credit Accommodation through promissory notes executed by Tan. Petitioner failed to settle the 11 obligation, hence respondent sent a demand letter with warning to foreclose on the real estate mortgage. 12 Petitioner, through its counsel Atty. Raphael A. Diaz, sent two letters to respondent requesting a detailed statement of account and to hold in abeyance any legal action. The latter replied that said 13 statement could not be released without proper board resolution or authorization. Subsequently, petitioner’s properties were extrajudicially foreclosed and sold in public auction, with respondent as the highest bidder. On March 6, 1998, the Ex-Officio Provincial Sheriff of Negros Occidental issued the 14 corresponding Certificate of Sale in favor of respondent. On March 16, 1999, petitioner filed a Complaint for Annulment of Foreclosure Sale with Damages and 15 16 Preliminary Injunction. Respondent moved to dismiss the same on the ground that petitioner failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that it is entitled to the relief sought in the complaint. Petitioner 17 later filed an Amended Complaint impleading Tan and his spouse, Corazon V. Tan, as well as 18 respondent’s Bacolod Branch Manager Ainalea Lim -Cortez. Respondent again sought to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state cause of action and for failure to comply with the rules on non19 forum shopping. Meanwhile, title over TCT Nos. T-139095 and T-139096 were consolidated in favor of respondent. On September 15, 1999, the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 46, granted respondent’s Petition 21 for Issuance of a Writ of Possession for the said properties. On September 22, 2000, the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 41, denied respondent’s Motion 22 to Dismiss. Respondent moved for reconsideration but was likewise denied. Thereafter, respondent filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals assailing the Orders of the trial court denying the motion to dismiss and the motion for reconsideration. On September 7, 2001, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision, the dispositive portion of which provides: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present petition is GIVEN DUE COURSE and the writs prayed for, accordingly GRANTED. The Orders dated September 22, 2000 and March 19, 2001 which were both issued by respondent Judge RAY ALAN T. DRILON of Branch 41 of the Regional Trial court of Bacolod City in Civil Case No. 99-10707, entitled "Negros Merchants Enterprises, Inc. v. China Banking Corporation, Spouses Jacinto Y. Tan, Jr. and Corazon V. Tan and Ex-Officio Provincial Sheriff of Negros Occidental" are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Judge, who is hereby permanently ENJOINED from enforcing the said Orders dated September 22, 2000 and March 19, 2001, is hereby ORDERED to dismiss Civil Case No. 99-10707 insofar as petitioner China Banking Corporation is concerned. Costs against private respondent. SO ORDERED.
The Court of Appeals held that the Amended Complaint should have been dismissed because the accompanying certification against forum shopping which was signed by petitioner’s corporate secretary, Amelito Lizares, was defective, for lack of authorization from the board of directors; that the allegations in
the amended complaint were insufficient to establish a cause of action; that petitioner defaulted in paying the loan, thus respondent rightfully foreclosed the mortgaged properties; that petitioner cannot validly claim ignorance of the foreclosure proceedings; that the alleged collusion between Tan and respondent’s Bacolod branch manager lacks basis because petitioner expressly authorized Tan to enter into loan transactions in its behalf with the latter; and that the trial judge acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying respondent’s Motion to Dismiss. The motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner was denied for lack of merit; hence, the present petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner insists that the Court of Appeals departed from jurisprudential and procedural law when it entertained respondent’s petition for certiorari questioning the two interlocutory orders issued by the trial court as the same shall be reviewed only when an appeal is taken from the judgment of the trial court; that since no actual hearing was yet conducted, there is no evidence which the appellate court could use as basis to resolve the case on the merits or to determine whether the trial judge acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction. Petitioner also argues that trial courts have the authority to determine whether the allegations in a complaint are sufficient to support a cause of action and that they have the discretion to resolve a motion to dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of action based only on the complaint or based on other pleadings submitted by the parties. Thus, petitioner concludes that the trial judge acted within his discretion and authority in denying the motion to dismiss. Petitioner likewise claims that the amended complaint cannot be considered an initiatory pleading which requires an accompanying certification against forum shopping. Since respondent’s first motion to dismiss did not raise in issue the alleged defective certification, it is deemed to have waived any objection thereto, 24 in accordance with Section 8, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. However, in the event the certification is found to be defective, petitioner maintains that it substantially complied with the rules and that the substance of the complaint should not be subordinated to procedural lapses. Finally, petitioner asserts that the full payment of the P8 million loan accommodation on January 31, 1996 rendered the mortgage contract and other documents connected thereto without force or effect. Accordingly, the mortgage contract should be deemed cancelled, and the properties subject thereto deemed released, instead of using them as security for the loans fraudulently obtained by Tan, and subsequently foreclosing them when the latter failed to pay. Petitioner, thus, prays for the reinstatement of the complaint against respondent for further proceedings. The petition lacks merit. In Españo, Sr. v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that an order denying a motion to dismiss is merely interlocutory and therefore not appealable, nor can it be the subject of a petition for review on certiorari. Such order may only be reviewed in the ordinary course of law by an appeal from the judgment after trial. The ordinary procedure to be followed in that event is to file an answer, go to trial, and if the decision is 26 adverse, reiterate the issue on appeal from the final judgment. Thus, when the trial court denied respondent’s motion to dismiss, its next course of action would have been to file an answer and proceed with the trial of the case. It therefore erred when it filed instead a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals. Nevertheless, while indeed respondent erred in filing a petition for certiorari before the appellate court, we agree with the Court of Appeals that petitioner’s Amended Complaint should have been dismissed due to its defective verification and certification against forum shopping.
It is settled that the requirement to file a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory and that the failure to comply with this requirement cannot be excused. The certification is a peculiar and personal responsibility of the party, an assurance given to the court or other tribunal that there are no other 27 pending cases involving basically the same parties, issues and causes of action. In a case where the plaintiff is a private corporation, the certification may be signed, for and on behalf of the said corporation, by a specifically authorized person, including its retained counsel, who has personal knowledge of the 28 facts required to be established by the documents. In the present case, the Verification and Certification attached to the original and amended complaints of petitioner Negros Merchants Enterprises, Inc. reads as follows: I, AMELITO LIZARES, after being duly sworn, depose and state: 1. That I am the Corporate Secretary of Negros Merchants Enterprises, Inc. the plaintiff in the above-entitled case; 2. That I have caused the preparation of the foregoing complaint; and that all the allegations contained therein are true of my own personal knowledge; 3. That I hereby certify that I have not commenced any other actions or complaint involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or different Division thereof or any court or tribunal or agency, and to the best of my knowledge, no such action or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or different Division thereof or any court or tribunal or agency; that in the event that a similar action or preceding [sic] has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or different Division thereof, I hereby bind myself to notify the Court, tribunal, or agency within five (5) days from such notice. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 16th day of March, 1999/12th day of October 1999, at Bacolod City, Philippines. (Sgd.) 29 AMELITO LIZARES As can be gleaned from the foregoing, there was no allegation that petitioner Negros Merchants Enterprises, Inc., through a board resolution, authorized Lizares to execute the verification and certification of non-forum shopping. Moreover, no such board resolution was appended to the complaint or amended complaint. In Tamondong v. Court of Appeals, we held that if a complaint is filed for and in behalf of the plaintiff who is not authorized to do so, the complaint is not deemed filed. An unauthorized complaint does not produce any legal effect. Hence, the court should dismiss the complaint on the ground that it has no 31 jurisdiction over the complaint and the plaintiff. In the instant case, Lizares was not authorized to file the complaint for and in behalf of petitioner corporation. Thus, the complaint is not deemed filed by the proper party in interest and should be dismissed. Indeed, there is jurisprudence where the Court allowed substantial compliance with the rule on certification of no-forum shopping; however, the exceptional circumstances and/or social justice considerations present in those cases are wanting in petitioner’s Complaint or Amended Complaint. The words used in petitioner’s verification and certification of no-forum shopping clearly state that Lizares solely caused the preparation of the present case, without even averring that he had done so in behalf of petitioner. There was no belated filing of a proper verification and certification, or even a copy of the
board resolution or a secretary’s certificate attesting that Lizares was authorized to file said complaint or the amendment thereto. Instead, petitioner merely declared without qualification or explanation in its Opposition to Motion to Dismiss that "there was sufficient compliance as could be gleaned from the 32 complaint." lawphi1 There is likewise no merit in petitioner’s assertion th at the amended complaint was not an initiatory pleading. Section 8, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court clearly provides that an amended complaint supersedes the complaint that it amends. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 7, 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. 65127, which annulled and set aside the Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 41 denying the motion to dismiss, and ordering the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 41, to dismiss Civil Case No. 99-10707, as well as the November 12, 2001 Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED.
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