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Lee Bun Ting and Ang Chia vs. Hon. Jose Aliagen, Rafael Dinglasan et. al.

Facts: In a previous cases [G. R. No. L-5996, "Rafael Dinglasan, et al. vs. Lee Bun Ting, et al.] decided by the SC with the same set of private parties, it was found that private respondents sold to herein petitioner a parcel of land located in Roxas City, Capiz through a conditional sale. Lee, the buyer, on the other hand avers that it was an absolute sale. Both trial court and CA ruled in favor of buyer Lee. The SC found that Lee is normally not allowed to purchase the property on the count of the constitutional prohibition (Section 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines.- Article 13, 1935 Consitution) But since it was also found out that the buyers (private respondents) are in pari delicto for selling the property in spite of the constitutional prohibition they are proscribed from assailing the sale made between them and herein private respondents. 12 years after the above mentioned case was promulgated, the present case for the recovery of the lot was instituted with the same contention of the respondents Dinglasan that the sale should be null and void on account of the constitutional prohibition. A motion to dismiss was filed by petitioners in this case on the ground of res judicata. An opposition thereto was filed by plaintiffs, with the averment that the decision in the prior case "cannot be pleaded in bar of the instant action because of new or additional facts or grounds of recovery and because of change of law or jurisprudence. The Court of Appeals denied the motion to dismiss. Issue: Whether or not the motion to dismiss should be granted Held: Affirmative. The decision of this Court in G. R. No. L-5996, "Rafael Dinglasan, et al. vs. Lee Bun Ting, et al." constitutes a bar to Civil Case No. V-3064 before the respondent court. Said Civil case, therefore, should have been dismissed because it is a mere relitigation of the same issues previously adjudged with finality, way back in 1956, between the same parties or their privies and concerning the same subject matter. We have consistently held that the doctrine of res judicata applies where, between a pending action and one which has been finally and definitely settled, there is Identity of parties, subject matter and cause of action. We find that in the ultimate analysis, Civil Case No. V-3064 is but an attempt to reopen the issues which were resolved in the previous case. Contrary to the contentions of private respondents, there has been no change in the facts or in the conditions of the parties. Posterior changes in the doctrine of this Court cannot retroactively be applied to nullify a prior final ruling in the same proceeding where the prior adjudication was had, whether the case should be civil or criminal in nature. The determination of the questions of fact and of law by this Court on June 27, 1956 in case No. L-5996 has become the law of the case, and may not now be disputed or relitigated by a reopening of the same questions in a subsequent litigation between the same parties and their privies the same subject matter.