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EN BANC

DOMINGO NEYPES, LUZ G.R. No. 141524


FAUSTINO, ROGELIO FAUSTINO,
LOLITO VICTORIANO, JACOB
OBANIA AND DOMINGO Present :
CABACUNGAN,
Petitioners, DAVIDE, JR., C.J.
PUNO,
PANGANIBAN,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
- v e r s u s - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CALLEJO, SR.,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO and
GARCIA, JJ.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS
OF BERNARDO DEL MUNDO,
namely: FE, CORAZON, JOSEFA,
SALVADOR and CARMEN, all
surnamed DEL MUNDO, LAND BANK
OF THE PHILIPPINES AND HON.
ANTONIO N. ROSALES, Presiding
Judge, Branch 43, Regional Trial
Court, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro,
Respondents. Promulgated :
September 14, 2005
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

D E C I S I O N

CORONA, J .:

Petitioners Domingo Neypes, Luz Faustino, Rogelio Faustino, Lolito
Victoriano, Jacob Obania and Domingo Cabacungan filed an action for
annulment of judgment and titles of land and/or reconveyance and/or
reversion with preliminary injunction before the Regional Trial Court, Branch
43, of Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, against the Bureau of Forest Development,
Bureau of Lands, Land Bank of the Philippines and the heirs of Bernardo del
Mundo, namely, Fe, Corazon, Josefa, Salvador and Carmen.

In the course of the proceedings, the parties (both petitioners and
respondents) filed various motions with the trial court. Among these were: (1)
the motion filed by petitioners to declare the respondent heirs, the Bureau of
Lands and the Bureau of Forest Development in default and (2) the motions
to dismiss filed by the respondent heirs and the Land Bank of the Philippines,
respectively.

In an order dated May 16, 1997, the trial court, presided by public
respondent Judge Antonio N. Rosales, resolved the foregoing motions as
follows: (1) the petitioners motion to declare respondents Bureau of Lands
and Bureau of Forest Development in default was granted for their failure to
file an answer, but denied as against the respondent heirs of del Mundo
because the substituted service of summons on them was improper; (2) the
Land Banks motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action was denied
because there were hypothetical admissions and matters that could be
determined only after trial, and (3) the motion to dismiss filed by respondent
heirs of del Mundo, based on prescription, was also denied because there
were factual matters that could be determined only after trial.
[1]


The respondent heirs filed a motion for reconsideration of the order
denying their motion to dismiss on the ground that the trial court could very
well resolve the issue of prescription from the bare allegations of the
complaint itself without waiting for the trial proper.

In an order
[2]
dated February 12, 1998, the trial court dismissed
petitioners complaint on the ground that the action had already prescribed.
Petitioners allegedly received a copy of the order of dismissal on March 3,
1998 and, on the 15
th
day thereafter or on March 18, 1998, filed a motion for
reconsideration. On July 1, 1998, the trial court issued another order
dismissing the motion for reconsideration
[3]
which petitioners received on July
22, 1998. Five days later, on July 27, 1998, petitioners filed a notice of
appeal
[4]
and paid the appeal fees on August 3, 1998.

On August 4, 1998, the court a quo denied the notice of appeal,
holding that it was filed eight days late.
[5]
This was received by petitioners on
July 31, 1998. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but this too was
denied in an order dated September 3, 1998.
[6]


Via a petition for certiorari and mandamus under Rule 65 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, petitioners assailed the dismissal of the notice of
appeal before the Court of Appeals.

In the appellate court, petitioners claimed that they had seasonably
filed their notice of appeal. They argued that the 15-day reglementary period
to appeal started to run only on July 22,
1998 since this was the day they received the final order of the trial
court denying their motion for
reconsideration. When they filed their notice of appeal on July 27, 1998,
only five days had elapsed and they were well within the reglementary period
for appeal.
[7]


On September 16, 1999, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the
petition. It ruled that the 15-day period to appeal should have been reckoned
from March 3, 1998 or the day they received the February 12, 1998 order
dismissing their complaint. According to the appellate court, the order was
the final order appealable under the Rules. It held further:

Perforce the petitioners tardy appeal was correctly
dismissed for the (P)erfection of an appeal within the
reglementary period and in the manner prescribed by law is
jurisdictional and non-compliance with such legal
requirement is fatal and effectively renders the judgment
final and executory.
[8]



Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned
decision. This was denied by the Court of Appeals on January 6, 2000.

In this present petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules, petitioners
ascribe the following errors allegedly committed by the appellate court:




I

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
DISMISSING THE PETITIONERS PETITION FOR
CERTIORARI AND MANDAMUS AND IN AFFIRMING THE
ORDER OF THE HON. JUDGE ANTONIO N. ROSALES
WHICH DISMISSED THE PETITIONERS APPEAL IN CIVIL
CASE NO. C-36 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
BRANCH 43, ROXAS, ORIENTAL MINDORO, EVEN
AFTER THE PETITIONERS HAD PAID THE APPEAL
DOCKET FEES.

II

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS LIKEWISE
ERRED IN RULING AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OR
ORDER OF THE RESPONDENT HON. ANTONIO M.
ROSALES THAT PETITIONERS APPEAL WAS FILED
OUT OF TIME WHEN PETITIONERS RECEIVED THE
LAST OR FINAL ORDER OF THE COURT ON JULY 22,
1998 AND FILED THEIR NOTICE OF APPEAL ON JULY
27, 1998 AND PAID THE APPEAL DOCKET FEE ON
AUGUST 3, 1998.

III

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FURTHER
ERRED IN RULING THAT THE WORDS FINAL ORDER
IN SECTION 3, RULE 41, OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL
PROCEDURE WILL REFER TO THE [FIRST] ORDER OF
RESPONDENT JUDGE HON. ANTONIO M. MORALES
DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1998 INSTEAD OF THE LAST
AND FINAL ORDER DATED JULY 1, 1998 COPY OF
WHICH WAS RECEIVED BY PETITIONERS THROUGH
COUNSEL ON JULY 22, 1998.

IV.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FINALLY
ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE DECISION IN THE CASE
OF DENSO, INC. V. IAC, 148 SCRA 280, IS APPLICABLE
IN THE INSTANT CASE THEREBY IGNORING THE
PECULIAR FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS
CASE AND THE FACT THAT THE SAID DECISION WAS
RENDERED PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF THE 1997
RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.
[9]



The foregoing issues essentially revolve around the period within which
petitioners should have filed their notice of appeal.
First and foremost, the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part
of due process. It is merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only in
the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law. Thus, one who
seeks to avail of the right to appeal must comply with the requirements of the
Rules. Failure to do so often leads to the loss of the right to appeal.
[10]
The
period to appeal is fixed by both statute and procedural rules. BP 129,
[11]
as
amended, provides:

Sec. 39. Appeals. The period for appeal from final
orders, resolutions, awards, judgments, or decisions of any
court in all these cases shall be fifteen (15) days counted
from the notice of the final order, resolution, award,
judgment, or decision appealed from. Provided, however,
that in habeas corpus cases, the period for appeal shall be
(48) forty-eight hours from the notice of judgment appealed
from. x x x


Rule 41, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states:

SEC. 3. Period of ordinary appeal. The appeal shall
be taken within fifteen (15) days from the notice of the
judgment or final order appealed from. Where a record on
appeal is required, the appellant shall file a notice of appeal
and a record on appeal within thirty (30) days from the notice
of judgment or final order.

The period to appeal shall be interrupted by a timely
motion for new trial or reconsideration. No motion for
extension of time to file a motion for new trial or
reconsideration shall be allowed. (emphasis supplied)


Based on the foregoing, an appeal should be taken within 15 days
from the notice of judgment or final order appealed from. A final judgment or
order is one that finally disposes of a case, leaving nothing more for the court
to do with respect to it. It is an adjudication on the merits which, considering
the evidence presented at the trial, declares categorically what the rights and
obligations of the parties are; or it may be an order or judgment that
dismisses an action.
[12]


As already mentioned, petitioners argue that the order of July 1, 1998
denying their motion for reconsideration should be construed as the final
order, not the February 12, 1998 order which dismissed their
complaint. Since they received their copy of the denial of their motion for
reconsideration only on July 22, 1998, the 15-day reglementary period to
appeal had not yet lapsed when they filed their notice of appeal on July 27,
1998.

What therefore should be deemed as the final order, receipt of
which triggers the start of the 15-day reglementary period to appeal the
February 12, 1998 order dismissing the complaint or the July 1, 1998 order
dismissing the MR?
In the recent case of Quelnan v. VHF Philippines, Inc.,
[13]
the trial
court declared petitioner Quelnan non-suited and accordingly dismissed his
complaint. Upon receipt of the order of dismissal, he filed an omnibus motion
to set it aside. When the omnibus motion was filed, 12 days of the 15-day
period to appeal the order had lapsed. He later on received another order,
this time dismissing his omnibus motion. He then filed his notice of appeal.
But this was likewise dismissed for having been filed out of time.

The court a quo ruled that petitioner should have appealed within 15
days after the dismissal of his complaint since this was the final order that
was appealable under the Rules. We reversed the trial court and declared
that it was the denial of the motion for reconsideration of an order of
dismissal of a complaint which constituted the final order as it was what
ended the issues raised there.

This pronouncement was reiterated in the more recent case of Apuyan
v. Haldeman et al.
[14]
where we again considered the order denying petitioner
Apuyans motion for reconsideration as the final order which finally disposed
of the issues involved in the case.

Based on the aforementioned cases, we sustain petitioners view
that the order dated July 1, 1998 denying their motion for
reconsideration was the final order contemplated in the Rules.

We now come to the next question: if July 1, 1998 was the start of
the 15-day reglementary period to appeal, did petitioners in fact file their
notice of appeal on time?

Under Rule 41, Section 3, petitioners had 15 days from notice of
judgment or final order to appeal the decision of the trial court. On the
15
th
day of the original appeal period (March 18, 1998), petitioners did not file
a notice of appeal but instead opted to file a motion for reconsideration.
According to the trial court, the MR only interrupted the running of the 15-day
appeal period.
[15]
It ruled that petitioners, having filed their MR on the last day
of the 15-day reglementary period to appeal, had only one (1) day left to file
the notice of appeal upon receipt of the notice of denial of their
MR. Petitioners, however, argue that they were entitled under the Rules to
a fresh period of 15 days from receipt of the final order or the order
dismissing their motion for reconsideration.

In Quelnan and Apuyan, both petitioners filed a motion for
reconsideration of the decision of the trial court. We ruled there that they only
had the remaining time of the 15-day appeal period to file the notice of
appeal. We consistently applied this rule in similar cases,
[16]
premised on the
long-settled doctrine that the perfection of an appeal in the manner and
within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory but also
jurisdictional.
[17]
The rule is also founded on deep-seated considerations of
public policy and sound practice that, at risk of occasional error, the
judgments and awards of courts must become final at some definite time
fixed by law.
[18]


Prior to the passage of BP 129, Rule 41, Section 3 of the 1964
Revised Rules of Court read:

Sec. 3. How appeal is taken. Appeal maybe
taken by serving upon the adverse party and filing with
the trial court within thirty (30) days from notice of order
or judgment, a notice of appeal, an appeal bond, and a
record on appeal. The time during which a motion to set
aside the judgment or order or for new trial has been
pending shall be deducted, unless such motion fails to
satisfy the requirements of Rule 37.

But where such motion has been filed during office
hours of the last day of the period herein provided, the
appeal must be perfected within the day following that in
which the party appealing received notice of the denial of
said motion.
[19]
(emphasis supplied)


According to the foregoing provision, the appeal period previously
consisted of 30 days. BP 129, however, reduced this appeal period to 15
days. In the deliberations of the Committee on Judicial Reorganization
[20]
that
drafted BP 129, the raison d etre behind the amendment was to shorten the
period of appeal
[21]
and enhance the efficiency and dispensation of justice.
We have since required strict observance of this reglementary period of
appeal. Seldom have we condoned late filing of notices of appeal,
[22]
and
only in very exceptional instances to better serve the ends of justice.

In National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority and Authority v.
Municipality of Libmanan,
[23]
however, we declared that appeal is an
essential part of our judicial system and the rules of procedure should not be
applied rigidly. This Court has on occasion advised the lower courts to be
cautious about not depriving a party of the right to appeal and that every
party litigant should be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and
just disposition of his cause, free from the constraint of technicalities.

In de la Rosa v. Court of Appeals,
[24]
we stated that, as a rule,
periods which require litigants to do certain acts must be followed unless,
under exceptional circumstances, a delay in the filing of an appeal may be
excused on grounds of substantial justice. There, we condoned the delay
incurred by the appealing party due to strong considerations of fairness and
justice.

In setting aside technical infirmities and thereby giving due course to
tardy appeals, we have not been oblivious to or unmindful of the
extraordinary situations that merit liberal application of the Rules. In those
situations where technicalities were dispensed with, our decisions were not
meant to undermine the force and effectivity of the periods set by law. But
we hasten to add that in those rare cases where procedural rules were not
stringently applied, there always existed a clear need to prevent the
commission of a grave injustice. Our judicial system and the courts have
always tried to maintain a healthy balance between the strict enforcement of
procedural laws and the guarantee that every litigant be given the full
opportunity for the just and proper disposition of his cause.
[25]


The Supreme Court may promulgate procedural rules in all
courts.
[26]
It has the sole prerogative to amend, repeal or even establish new
rules for a more simplified and inexpensive process, and the speedy
disposition of cases. In the rules governing appeals to it and to the Court of
Appeals, particularly Rules 42,
[27]
43
[28]
and 45,
[29]
the Court allows
extensions of time, based on justifiable and compelling reasons, for parties to
file their appeals. These extensions may consist of 15 days or more.

To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to
afford litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it
practical to allow a fresh period of 15 days within which to file the notice of
appeal in the Regional Trial Court, counted from receipt of the order
dismissing a motion for a new trial or motion for reconsideration.
[30]


Henceforth, this fresh period rule shall also apply to Rule 40
governing appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional Trial
Courts; Rule 42 on petitions for review from the Regional Trial Courts to the
Court of Appeals; Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-judicial agencies
[31]
to the
Court of Appeals and Rule 45 governing appeals by certiorari to the Supreme
Court.
[32]
The new rule aims to regiment or make the appeal period uniform,
to be counted from receipt of the order denying the motion for new trial,
motion for reconsideration (whether full or partial) or any final order or
resolution.
We thus hold that petitioners seasonably filed their notice of appeal
within the fresh period of 15 days, counted from July 22, 1998 (the date of
receipt of notice denying their motion for reconsideration). This
pronouncement is not inconsistent with Rule 41, Section 3 of the Rules which
states that the appeal shall be taken within 15 days from notice of
judgment or final order appealed from. The use of the disjunctive word or
signifies disassociation and independence of one thing from another. It
should, as a rule, be construed in the sense in which it ordinarily
implies.
[33]
Hence, the use of or in the above provision supposes that the
notice of appeal may be filed within 15 days from the notice of judgment or
within 15 days from notice of the final order, which we already determined
to refer to the July 1, 1998 order denying the motion for a new trial or
reconsideration.

Neither does this new rule run counter to the spirit of Section 39 of
BP 129 which shortened the appeal period from 30 days to 15 days to hasten
the disposition of cases. The original period of appeal (in this case March 3-
18, 1998) remains and the requirement for strict compliance still applies. The
fresh period of 15 days becomes significant only when a party opts to file a
motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. In this manner, the trial
court which rendered the assailed decision is given another opportunity to
review the case and, in the process, minimize and/or rectify any error of
judgment. While we aim to resolve cases with dispatch and to have
judgments of courts become final at some definite time, we likewise aspire to
deliver justice fairly.

In this case, the new period of 15 days eradicates the confusion as
to when the 15-day appeal period should be counted from receipt of notice
of judgment (March 3, 1998) or from receipt of notice of final order
appealed from (July 22, 1998).

To recapitulate, a party litigant may either file his notice of appeal
within 15 days from receipt of the Regional Trial Courts decision or file it
within 15 days from receipt of the order (the final order) denying his motion
for new trial or motion for reconsideration. Obviously, the new 15-day period
may be availed of only if either motion is filed; otherwise, the decision
becomes final and executory after the lapse of the original appeal period
provided in Rule 41, Section 3.
Petitioners here filed their notice of appeal on July 27, 1998 or five
days from receipt of the order denying their motion for reconsideration on
July 22, 1998. Hence, the notice of appeal was well within the fresh appeal
period of 15 days, as already discussed.
[34]


We deem it unnecessary to discuss the applicability of Denso
(Philippines), Inc. v. IAC
[35]
since the Court of Appeals never even referred to
it in its assailed decision.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed
decision of the Court of Appeals REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly,
let the records of this case be remanded to the Court of Appeals for further
proceedings.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 145420 September 19, 2006
A. RAFAEL C. DINGLASAN, JR. petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL., respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CHICO-NAZARIO, J .:
Before this Court is a Petition for New Trial and, in the alternative, for the
Reopening of the Case
1
on the ground of newly discovered evidence filed by
A. Rafael C. Dinglasan, Jr. (Dinglasan) who was found guilty
2
of violating
Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, otherwise known as The Bouncing Checks Law, by
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 62, in Criminal Case No.
21238.
On 17 August 1985, Elmyra Trading Corporation (Elmyra), represented by its
President, Dinglasan, and Antrom, Inc. (Antrom), also represented by its
President, Antonio Garcia Jr., entered into a Memorandum of Agreement
whereby the parties agreed that Antrom will extend credit accommodation in
favor of Elmyra to finance its prawn business. The latter, in turn, will issue
checks to guarantee the payment of its obligations.
A few months after a number of financing transactions were made, Elmyra's
indebtedness to Antrom reached the amount of P1,476,000.58. As initial
payment, Dinglasan issued a Commercial Bank (drawee bank) Check No.
HO270451 with Antrom as payee, but postdated on 3 October 1985 in the
amount of P515,000.00. Upon presentment for payment with the drawee
bank, however, the said check was dishonored for insufficiency of funds.
Consequently, on 16 December 1985, an Information
3
charging Dinglasan
with Violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was filed before the RTC of Makati,
Branch 62, docketed as Criminal Case No. 21238, People of the Philippines
v. A. Rafael C. Dinglasan, Jr. The Information reads:
That on or about the 3rd day of October, 1985, in the Municipality of Makati,
Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, well knowing that he has no sufficient funds in or
credit with the bank, did there and then willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
make out and issue Commercial Bank of Manila Check No. H0207451 dated
October 3, 1985 in the amount of P515,000.00 in payment of his obligation to
Antrom Inc., represented by Rosanna E. Velasco, but when said check was
presented to the bank for payment, the same was dishonored and/or refused
payment for reason "Drawn Against Insufficient Funds" and accused, despite
repeated demands and lapse of five (5) banking days from notice thereof,
failed and refused to make good the said check and/or to deposit with the
drawee bank the necessary amount to cover the aforesaid check, to the
damage and prejudice of the herein complainant in the aforementioned
amount of P515,000.00
On 16 December 1991, the trial court convicted Dinglasan for having
committed the crime charged. In a Decision
4
promulgated on the same date,
the court a quo found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22. The dispositive portion reads this wise:
WHEREFORE, finding accused A. Rafael C. Dinglasan, Jr. guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violating B.P. Blg. 22, he is hereby sentenced to suffer
an imprisonment of one year and to pay a fine of Two Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P200,000.00); and, to indemnify ANTROM, INC., the sum of Five
Hundred Fifteen (sic) (P515,000.00) Pesos, at [the] legal rate of interest from
October 3, 1985, until the full amount of P515,000.0 is fully paid.
Dinglasan, thereafter, filed a Motion for Reconsideration
5
which was denied
by the same court for lack of merit in an Order
6
issued on 4 September 1992.
On 25 September 1992, Dinglasan appealed to the Court of Appeals the
adverse RTC Decision dated 16 December 1991, finding him guilty of
violating Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 and the RTC Order dated 4 September
1992, denying his Motion for Reconsideration.
7

On 26 October 1998, the appellate court in CA-G.R. CR No. 14138, People
of the Philippines v. A. Rafael. C. Dinglasan, handed down a
Decision,
8
dismissing the appeal, thereby, affirming in toto the Decision of
the RTC finding Dinglasan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error therefrom, the Decision now on
appeal is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against accused-appellant.
Aggrieved, the accused filed before this Court a Petition for Review on
Certiorari
9
questioning the 26 October 1998 Decision of the Court of Appeals.
The petition was docketed as G.R. No. 137800, A. Rafael C. Dinglasan v.
Court of Appeals, and was raffled to the Third Division of this Court. In a
Resolution
10
dated 28 June 1999, this Court resolved to deny the petition for
failure to show that a reversible error had been committed by the appellate
court.
A Motion for Reconsideration
11
was then filed by Dinglasan on 26 August
1999, but the same was again denied by this Court in a Resolution dated 13
September 1999 for failure to raise substantial arguments that would warrant
reconsideration of the Resolution dated 28 June 1999 with an ad cautelam
that such denial is final.
12

Undaunted, Dinglasan filed a Second Motion for Reconsideration but the
same was merely noted without action by this Court in view of the En Banc
Resolution dated 7 April 1987 that no motion for leave to file a second motion
for reconsideration of a judgment or a final resolution by the same party shall
be entertained. In a Resolution dated 16 December 1999, this Court directed
that no further pleadings shall be entertained in this case.
The Resolution of this Court dated 28 June 1999 denying Dinglasan's
Petition for Review became final and executory on 14 October 1999 as
evidenced by the Entry of Judgment.
13

By virtue of the final and executory judgment rendered by this Court in G.R.
No. 137800, the prosecution, on 19 September 2000, filed a motion
14
with
the RTC for the issuance of the warrant of arrest and writ of execution in
order to satisfy the judgment. The prosecution likewise prayed that a hold-
departure order be issued in order to prevent Dinglasan from leaving the
country until he has fully served his sentence.
In an Order
15
issued on 21 September 2000, the trial court, acting on the said
motion, issued a warrant for the arrest of Dinglasan and a writ of execution
for the enforcement of his civil liability and, at the same time, enjoining him
from leaving the country.
Alarmed, Dinglasan on 30 October 2000, filed the instant Petition for New
Trial and, in the alternative, for the Reopening of the Case
16
based on newly
discovered evidence, which was docketed as G.R. No. 145420, entitled, "A.
Rafael C. Dinglasan Jr. v. Court of Appeals." He urges this Court to uphold
substantial justice, emphasizing that the newly discovered evidence he seeks
to introduce in this case is so material and of such weight that, if, admitted
would probably change the judgment, hence, suspension of procedural rules
is warranted.
The alleged newly discovered evidence claimed by Dinglasan are the
affidavits of Ma. Elena Dinglasan, in her capacity as Executive Vice-
President and Treasurer of Elmyra, and Ma. Encarnacion Vda. De Dinglasan,
the wife of Mariano Dinglasan, who, during his lifetime, was the Cashier and
Liaison Officer of the same company. These affidavits, together with the
transmittal letter dated 8 October 1985 attached to Solidbank Manager's
Check No. 002969 dated 3 October 1985 sent by Ma. Elena Dinglasan to
Antrom, tends to prove that Dinglasan made good of the check within five
banking days from notice of dishonor. He could not, therefore, be validly
convicted of violating Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 for one of the essential
elements of the offense, that is, the drawer failed and refused to make good
the said check within five banking days from the notice of dishonor, is absent.
In her affidavit,
17
Ma. Elena Dinglasan attested that she was the Executive
Vice-President and Treasurer of Elmyra for the period of 1985-1986. As
such, she was in-charge of disbursing and sourcing of corporation funds
including the preparation of checks and approval of vouchers supporting the
disbursements. In the course of its business, the affiant caused the issuance
of Commercial Bank Check No. 270451 on 27 September 1985 in the
amount of P515,000.00, but postdated on 3 October 1985, which was
dishonored by the bank for insufficiency of funds and which eventually
caused Dinglasan's conviction for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. Upon
receiving the notice of dishonor, she caused the preparation of Solidbank
Manager's Check No. 002969 dated 3 October 1985 in the amount
of P150,000.00 intended to cover a part of the amount of the bounced check.
The Solidbank check, together with its transmittal letter dated 8 October
1985, stating the purpose of the said check, was sent to Antrom and was
received by its representative as evidenced by the signature appearing on
the receiving copy thereof.
Explaining why the said transmittal letter dated 8 October 1985 was belatedly
offered as evidence on this case, Ma. Elena Dinglasan reasoned that that
she was not aware that the said letter has any significance on Dinglasan's
liability. She explained further that in 1993 she was diagnosed of breast
cancer and had to undergo surgical operation and chemotherapy.
To corroborate the statements of Ma. Elena Dinglasan, Encarnacion Vda. De
Dinglasan on her part, narrated under oath that her late husband used to
bring some of Elmyra's documents home to work on at night and after her
husband's death in 1994, such documents were kept inside a box and left
somewhere in one corner of their house. It was only when a minor renovation
was made therein several years after her husband passed away that she
was able to chance upon the said documents again. The said documents
were turned over to Dinglasan on 21 October 2000. It was later discovered
that the said documents include the transmittal letter dated 8 October 1985
sent by Ma. Elena Dinglasan to Antrom.
18

In contrast, private respondent Antrom contends that the Petition for New
Trial and/or Reopening of the Case based on newly discovered evidence
should be dismissed on the ground that the same is procedurally and
substantially defective.
19

Elaborating, Antrom claims that under the Revised Rules of Court, the Motion
for New Trial should be filed at any time after the appeal from the lower court
has been perfected and before the judgment of the appellate court convicting
the accused becomes final. The judgment of this Court in G.R. No. 137800
dated 28 June 1999 became final and executory on 14 October 1999 as
evidenced by the Entry of Judgment. The present petition, on the other hand,
was filed only on 30 October 2000 or a year after the finality of the decision in
G.R. No. 137800. The filing of the instant action, therefore, has already
prescribed.
20

Moreover, Antrom continues, considering for the sake of argument that the
instant action was filed within the reglementary period, still, the petition must
fail for the requisites for newly discovered evidence as ground for new trial
were not satisfactorily complied with. Let it be noted that the transmittal letter
dated 8 October 1995 was previously attached as evidence in a Petition for
Review filed by Dinglasan before the Ministry of Justice (now the Department
of Justice) on 15 December 1986, assailing the Resolution of the Fiscal
dated 11 December 1986 recommending the filing of Information against
him. The same letter was also introduced as evidence before the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 14138 when Dinglasan assailed the RTC
decision dated 16 December 1991. Hence, the claim that the alleged
evidence was not available during the trial in the courts below, and is thus,
newly discovered is erroneous, if not misleading.
21

Finally, Antrom stresses that, granting for the sake of argument, that the
petition at bar was filed on time and the alleged evidence is newly discovered
within the purview of the law, such evidence introduced and admitted,
nevertheless, would not exculpate Dinglasan from liability. The gravamen of
the offense is the act of the drawer in making or issuing a check with the full
knowledge that he does not have sufficient funds to cover the amount. Such
awareness was admitted by Dinglasan when he expressly requested Antrom
not to deposit the check without his explicit conformity in anticipation that
such check will be dishonored if presented for payment. The mere act of
issuing a worthless check and not the nonpayment of the obligation is
punished by law because of its deleterious effect on public interest.
The Solicitor General, representing the People of the Philippines, on their
part, submitted that the instant petition should be dismissed because it was
filed out of time and Dinglasan's evidence sought to be admitted is neither
material nor newly discovered so as to warrant new trial or reopening of the
case. The alleged evidence if introduced and admitted, would not in any way
alter the judgment. Upon perusal of the transmittal letter dated 8 October
1985, it was nowhere stated therein that Solidbank Manager's Check No.
002969 dated 3 October 1985 was intended as partial payment of
Commercial Bank Check No. 270451 dated 3 October 1985 that bounced.
The said letter was a mere proposal wherein a payment in kind or dacion en
pago was offered by Elmyra. The Solicitor General likewise noted that the
letter dated 8 October 1986 was already introduced as evidence in the
Petition for Review with the Ministry of Justice filed by Dinglasan.
22

For the resolution of this Court are the following issues:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE INSTANT PETITION WAS FILED ON
TIME.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT A NEW TRIAL OR REOPENING OF THE
CASE BASED ON NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE SHOULD BE
ALLOWED.
The pertinent provision of the Revised Rules of Court reads:
Rule 124 Procedure in the Court of Appeals.
Section 14. Motion for New Trial. At any time after the appeal from
the lower court has been perfected and before the judgment of the
Court of Appeals convicting the accused becomes final, the latter
may move for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered
evidence material to his defense. The motion shall conform to the
provisions of section 4 Rule 121. (Emphasis supplied.)
Explicit from the above stated rule that a Motion for New Trial should be filed
before the judgment of the appellate court convicting the accused becomes
final.
While Dinglasan agrees with the above stated rules that the instant petition
should be filed before the finality of the judgment convicting the appellant, he,
however argues that judgment attains finality only upon the receipt of the
order or resolution denying his second motion for reconsideration.
Dinglasan's argument is without merit.
Let it be recalled that Dinglasan's Motion for Leave to File Second Motion for
Reconsideration was denied by this Court as the subject matter thereof is a
prohibited pleading and that the Motion for Reconsideration was merely
noted without action. This order is issued pursuant to En Banc Resolution
dated 7 April 1999 which prohibits any motion for leave to file a second
motion for reconsideration and was further emphasized by the provision of
the Revised Rules of Court which provides that:
Rule 52. Motion for Reconsideration.
Section 2. Second Motion for Reconsideration. No second motion
for reconsideration of a judgment or a final resolution by the same
party shall be entertained.
This prohibition is justified by public policy which demands that at the
risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts must become final at
some definitive date fixed by law.
23

To rule that finality of judgment shall be reckoned from the receipt of the
resolution or order denying the second motion for reconsideration would
result to an absurd situation whereby courts will be obliged to issue orders or
resolutions denying what is a prohibited motion in the first place, in order that
the period for the finality of judgments shall run, thereby, prolonging the
disposition of cases. Moreover, such a ruling would allow a party to forestall
the running of the period of finality of judgments by virtue of filing a prohibited
pleading; such a situation is not only illogical but also unjust to the winning
party.
It bears stressing further that on 14 October 1999, the Resolution of this
Court in G.R. No. 137800 dated 28 June 1999 became final and executory
as evidenced by the Entry of Judgment according to the pertinent provision
of the Revised Rules of Court, which reads:
Rule 51. - Judgment.
"Sec. 10. Entry of judgments and final resolutions. If no appeal or
motion for new trial or reconsideration is filed within the time
provided in these Rules, the judgment or final resolution shall
forthwith be entered by the clerk in the book of entries of judgments.
The date when the judgment or final resolution becomes executory
shall be deemed as the date of its entry. The record shall contain the
dispositive part of the judgment or final resolution and shall be
signed by the clerk, with a certificate that such judgment or final
resolution has become final and executory.
After the judgment or final resolution is entered in the entries of
judgment, the case shall be laid to rest. A decision that acquired
finality becomes immutable and unalterable and it 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.
24

Very clearly, the filing of the instant Petition for New Trial and/or Reopening
of the Case on 30 October 2000 was made way beyond the prescriptive
period for doing so. The claim of Dinglasan that he honestly believed that this
Court will appreciate his defense of payment as reiterated in his Second
Motion for Reconsideration which was why he deemed it pre-mature to file
the instant petition before receiving the Court's ruling on the said motion,
could not be given credence.
The finality of decision is a jurisdictional event which cannot be made to
depend on the convenience of the party. To rule otherwise would completely
negate the purpose of the rule on completeness of service, which is to place
the date of receipt of pleadings, judgment and processes beyond the power
of the party being served to determine at his pleasure.
25

Dinglasan further asseverates that this petition was belatedly made because
the evidence sought to be admitted were not available at the time the instant
petition should have been filed. Accordingly, he claims that this evidence falls
within the purview of newly discovered evidence as contemplated by law.
The pertinent provision of the Revised Rules of Court reads:
Rule 121 New Trial or Reconsideration.
Sec. 2. Grounds for a new trial. The court shall grant a new trial
on any of the following grounds:
(a) That errors of law or irregularities prejudicial to the substantial
rights of the accused have been committed during the trial;
(b) That new and material evidence has been discovered which the
accused could not with reasonable diligence have discovered and
produced at the trial and which if introduced and admitted would
probably change the judgment.
The requisites for newly discovered evidence under Section 2, Rule
121 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure are: (a) the evidence
was discovered after the trial; (b) such evidence could not have been
discovered and produced at the trial with reasonable diligence; and
(c) that it is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative or
impeaching, and is of such weight that, if admitted, will probably
change the judgment.
26

These standards, also known as the "Berry Rule," trace their origin to the
1851 case of Berry v. State of Georgia
27
where the Supreme Court of Georgia
held:
Applications for new trial on account of newly discovered evidence, are not
favored by the Courts. x x x Upon the following points there seems to be a
pretty general concurrence of authority, viz; that it is incumbent on a party
who asks for a new trial, on the ground of newly discovered evidence, to
satisfy the Court, 1st. That the evidence has come to his knowledge since
the trial. 2d. That it was not owing to the want of due diligence that it did not
come sooner. 3d. That it is so material that it would produce a different
verdict, if the new trial were granted. 4th. That it is not cumulative only - viz;
speaking to facts, in relation to which there was evidence on the trial. 5th.
That the affidavit of the witness himself should be produced, or its absence
accounted for. And 6th, a new trial will not be granted, if the only object of the
testimony is to impeach the character or credit of a witness.
These guidelines have since been followed by our courts in determining the
propriety of motions for new trial based on newly discovered evidence.
It should be emphasized that the applicant for new trial has the burden of
showing that the new evidence he seeks to present has complied with the
requisites to justify the holding of a new trial.
28

The threshold question in resolving a motion for new trial based on newly
discovered evidence is whether the proferred evidence is in fact a "newly
discovered evidence which could not have been discovered by due
diligence." The question of whether evidence is newly discovered has two
aspects: a temporal one, i.e., when was the evidence discovered, and a
predictive one, i.e., when should or could it have been discovered.
29

Applying the foregoing test, Dinglasan insists, and the affidavits of Ma. Elena
Dinglasan and Encarnacion Vda. De Dinglasan attest, that the transmittal
letter dated 8 October 1985 was discovered recently or just before the time
the affidavits were executed on 23 October 2000. The records, however,
show otherwise.
In CA-G.R. CR No. 14138, it appears that the appellate court already
considered that transmittal letter dated 8 October 1985 in rendering its
Decision dated 26 October 1998. The pertinent portion of the Decision reads:
It appears, however, that in accused-appellant's letter dated October 10,
1986, (Exhibit "B") no mention was made of the two (2) manager's checks,
considering that at least one of the two (2), both dated October 8, 1988 (pp.
2-3, Records) was allegedly given to private complainant on the said date
(pp. 69-70, Ibid.). Instead a proposal wherein payment in kind or dacion en
pago was offered by accused-appellant. Also, the trial court correctly noted
that, "x x x accused is a lawyer and a businessman. He will not part of more
than one million pesos, in the form of manager's checks, as replacement of a
check that bounced, without any supporting document." (p. 8, Decision,
Criminal Case No. 21238).
We are in accord with the findings of the lower court that there is no evidence
establishing that accused-appellant asked for the return of the Combank
Check in the same way that the PTB Check had been returned, other than
stating in his letter of October 8, 1985 that said check had been considered
cancelled (p. 69, Records), and after the Combank Check had already
bounced. (p. 10, Brief for Accused-Appellant). Its quite absurd that accused-
appellant would replace the Combank Check with an amount more than
the P515,000.00, if the whole indebtedness was still subject to final
liquidation. As evidenced by the voucher (Exhibit "5") accused-appellant
issued Combank Check in exchange for PTB Check. Hence, it is quite
quizzical why accused-appellant did not ask for the return of the Combank
check after having issued two (2) manager's check.
30
(Emphasis supplied.)
Verily, the claim of Dinglasan that the alleged evidence sought to be
presented in this case was recently discovered is a falsity. It is a desperate
attempt to mislead this Court to give due course to a cause that has long
been lost. Dinglasan appeals for the compassion of this Court but never did
so in good faith. It is contrary to human experience to have overlooked an
evidence which was decisively claimed to have such significance that might
probably change the judgment.
The records are very clear. The transmittal letter dated 8 October 1985 was
already offered as evidence in CA-G.R. CR No. 14138 and was even
annexed to the Petition for Review filed before the Court of Appeals as
Annex "B." Irrefragably, the letter dated 8 October 1985 is not newly
discovered. It is an attempt to raise again a defense which was already
weighed by the appellate court. A contrary ruling may open the floodgates to
an endless review of decisions, where losing litigants, in delaying the
disposition of cases, invoke evidence already presented, whether through a
motion for reconsideration or for a new trial, in guise of newly discovered
evidence.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DISMISSED.
Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.


G.R. No. 80892 September 29, 1989
ISLAMIC DA'WAH COUNCIL OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and THE HEIRS of JESUS
AMADO ARANETA, respondents.
Magtanggol C. Gunigundo for petitioner.
Antonio P. Barredo for respondents.

CORTES, J .:
Petitioner impugns the resolutions of the Court of Appeals dated
November 10 and December 2 and 3, 1987 which, in effect, gave due
course to private respondents' petition for annulment of judgment.
The antecedents of this case are as follows:
On February 15,1984 Freddie and Marconi Da Silva, as mortgagors, and
Islamic Da'Wah Council of the Philippines (Council for brevity), as
mortgagee, executed a real estate mortgage over a 4,754 sq. m. parcel
of land located in Cubao, Quezon City and covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 30461 as security for the payment of a one
million peso promissory note in favor of the mortgagee. The mortgagors
were unable to pay their obligation, hence, the Council instituted
foreclosure proceedings with the Regional Trial Court, docketed as Civil
Case No. Q-43746. On February 5, 1985 the parties submitted a
compromise agreement wherein it was stipulated that because of the Da
Silvas' inability to pay their debt to the Council, and for the additional
consideration of P 500,000.00, they jointly agree to cede, transfer and
convey to the Council the land they mortgaged to the latter. On February
12, 1985, the Regional Trial Court approved the compromise agreement.
Thereafter, TCT No. 328021 was issued in the name of the Council by
the Register of Deeds of Quezon City.
Subsequent thereto, on August 8,1985, Jesus Amado Araneta filed with
the Register of Deeds a notice of lis pendens in connection with Civil
Case No. Q-47989 entitled "Islamic Da'Wah Council of the Philippines v.
Jesus Amado Araneta" for ejectment. The complaint was converted into
an action for collection of rentals with damages but was later on
withdrawn by the Council. On August 13, 1985 Araneta also filed with the
same Register of Deeds an affidavit of adverse claim in connection with
Civil Case No. Q-43469 entitled "Marconi Da Silva, et al. v. Jesus Amado
Araneta, et al." for recovery of possession. The notice of lis pendens and
adverse claim were annotated at the back of TCT No. 328021 by the
Register of Deeds.
On October 9, 1985 the Council filed in the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City a complaint for Quieting of Title, Recovery of Possession
and Damages with Preliminary Mandatory Injunction against Araneta
praying, inter alia, for the cancellation of all the annotations at the back of
TCT No. 328021. The case is docketed as Civil Case No. Q-46196.
While this case was pending, on July 6, 1987, the heirs of Jesus Amado
Araneta, private respondents herein, filed with the Court of Appeals a
petition to annul the judgment in Civil Case No. Q-43746 for foreclosure.
In support of their petition the heirs of Araneta narrated the following
events:
(1) on December 20,1953 Jesus Amado Araneta
purchased the 4,754 sq.m. parcel of land located in
Cubao from the Spouses Garcia and since then he and
his family have always been in possession thereof;
(2) for some reason known only to Araneta and Fred Da
Silva,an employee of the former, title to the property was
placed in the latter's name as evidenced by TCT No.
30461 although from the time of its issuance the owner's
duplicate copy of said TCT has always been in the
possession of Araneta,
(3) on January 31, 1963, the parties decided to terminate
the trust that had been created over the property, thus,
Da Silva executed a deed of sale over the same parcel of
land in favor of Araneta but no consideration was given by
the latter to the former for said sale and any recital of
consideration appearing in the deed is purely fictitious;
(4) the Register of Deeds, however, refused to register
the deed of sale because the title is in the name of "Fred
Da Silva married to Leocadia Da Silva" and is thus
presumed conjugal and the conjugal partnership should
first be liquidated as the wife had already died;
(5) alleging that their copy was lost and/or destroyed, on
February 1, 1984 Freddie and Marconi Da Silva, two of
the three surviving children of Fred Da Silva who died in
1963, filed a petition, docketed as LRC record Case No.
Q-2772, for the issuance of a new copy of the owner's
duplicate copy of TCT No. 30461. The petition was
granted by Judge Vera on March 24,1984:
(6) Araneta learned about this and immediately filed a
motion to re-open the proceedings stating that he has in
his possession the ,- owner's duplicate copy of TCT No.
30461 and explaining the reasons for such possession;
(7) the motion was granted and on December 7,1984 the
land registration court ordered the Da Silvas to (a) return
to the Register of the second owner's duplicate copy of
the title and (b) neither enter into any transaction
concerning said second owner's duplicate copy nor utilize
the title for any purpose other than to return the same to
the Register of Deeds;
(8) on November 11, 1985, the Da Silvas manifested
before the land registration court that the title to the
property was transferred to the Council based on a
compromise agreement in Civil Case No. Q43746 for
foreclosure; and
(9) on motion of the heirs of Araneta, who substituted him
upon his death in 1985, Judge Vera consolidated Civil
Cases Nos. Q- 2772 and Q-43469, both of which were
raffled to his sala, with Civil Case No. Q-46196 but the
judge hearing the latter case would not heed the order of
consolidation.
(10) and then set out their case for annulment of
judgment alleging that the Da Silvas, with the connivance
of the Council, executed a purported promissory note
secured by a real estate mortgage the terms and
conditions of which were made very onerous as to pave
the way for the foreclosure of the property by virtue of a
confession of judgment; and, the Council had always
known of the Araneta's claim of ownership over the land
because the former's executive officer and secretary
general is the lawyer of the Da Silvas in the cases they
filed against the Araneta's. The heirs of Araneta in their
petition prayed, inter alia, that (1) the judgment in Civil
Case No. Q- 43746 be annulled and set aside and (2) a
restraining order be issued to enjoin the proceedings in
Civil Case No. Q-46196 [Petition, Annex "A"].
In a resolution dated November 10, 1987 the Court of Appeals issued a
temporary restraining order enjoining the trial judge from hearing Civil
Case No. Q-46196 until further orders from the court. In the same
resolution the parties were ordered to appear for a pre- trial conference.
The Council filed a motion for reconsideration of this resolution. Later on
the Council filed a Supplement to Motion for Reconsideration with Motion
to Dismiss questioning the Court of Appeals' jurisdiction to hear the
petition for annulment of a judgment that had already been fully
executed. The Council also invoked the additional grounds of lack of
cause of action because the Aranetas are not valid claimants of the
property; lack of legal capacity to sue because the Aranetas were not
parties to the foreclosure case; litis pendentia because of the pendency
of the quieting of title case between the same parties; and, abandonment,
waiver and unenforceability under the Statute of Frauds [Petition, Annex
"H"]. On December 2, 1987 the Court of Appeals denied the Council's
motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. In the hearing conducted on
December 3, 1987 the Council reiterated the grounds it raised in its
Supplemental Motion and Motion to Dismiss but the same were
summarily denied by the Court of Appeals. Hence, this petition
forcertiorari.
Petitioner contends the following: first, that the Court of Appeals should
not continue to hear the petition for annulment of judgment since it is
already fully executed and the purpose for which the case for annulment
was filed will no longer be served, the parties having already complied
with the decision; second, private respondents have no right to question
the validity or legality of the decision rendered foreclosing the mortgage
since they are foreign to the transaction of mortgage between petitioner
and Freddie and Marconi Da Silva; lastly, petitioner claims that private
respondents have another remedy in law and that is in Civil Case No. Q-
46196 for Quieting of Title where the question of ownership may be
passed upon.
At the outset it must be clarified that the instant petition is one
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Thus, the inquiry this
Court should address itself is limited to error of jurisdiction or grave abuse
of discretion committed by the Court, of Appeals, in particular, whether or
not respondent court acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion in giving due course to the petition for annulment of judgment.
This clarification is rendered necessary because the parties themselves,
in their pleadings, have gone beyond this issue and have discussed the
merits of the annulment of judgment case now pending decision with the
Court of Appeals.
In its Petition, the Council contends that a Regional Trial Court has the
authority and jurisdiction to annul a judgment of another Regional Trial
Court, a coordinate or co-equal court Specifically, petitioner alleges that
the filing of a separate action for annulment of judgment is unnecessary
because the Regional Trial Court hearing Civil Case No. Q-43469 for
Quieting of Title can annul the judgment in Civil Case No. Q-43746 for
Foreclosure rendered by another Regional Trial Court [Rollo, pp. 15-16).
In its Memorandum, however, the Council admitted that the Court of
Appeals has the exclusive jurisdiction to annul the decision of the
Regional Trial Court [Rollo, pp. 152-1531.
Annulment of judgment is a remedy in law independent of the case where
the judgment sought to be annulled was rendered. The judgment may be
annulled on the ground of extrinsic or collateral fraud [Canlas v. Hon-
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 77691, August 8,19881. Jurisdiction over
actions for annulment of Regional Trial Court judgment has been clarified
by Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (otherwise known as The Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980). Prior to the enactment of this law, different
views had been entertained regarding the issue of whether or not a
branch of a Regional Trial Court may annul a judgment of another branch
of the same court. * However, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 introduced a new provision conferring
on the Court of Appeals exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for annulment of judgments of
Regional Trial Courts. Sec. 9(2) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 expressly provides that:
Sec. 9. Jurisdiction. -The Court of Appeals shall exercise:
...
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for
annulment of judgments of Regional Trial Courts; Thus, it
is beyond dispute that it is only the Court of Appeals that
can take cognizance of the annulment of judgment in Civil
Case No. Q-43746 rendered by the Regional Trial Court.
The next issue raised in this petition deals with the question of who may
properly institute a petition for annulment of judgment. It is petitioner's
contention that the remedy is available only to one who is a party to the
case where the judgment sought to be annulled is rendered. Private
respondents, on the other hand, allege that "there are sufficient facts and
circumstances sufficient to show prima facie that [they] have a substantial
interest in the ownership of the property which had been foreclosed
without their knowledge and consent" [Rollo, p. 90]. In fine, the question
deals with whether or not the heirs of Araneta have a cause of action
against the Council.
In Militante v. Edrosolano [G.R. No. L-27940, June 10, 1971, 39 SCRA
4731, an action for annulment of judgment in Civil Case No. 6216
between Edrosolano and Belosillo was filed by Militante. The petition
stemmed from a complaint instituted by Militante on September 6, 1965
against Edrosolano for damages arising from a breach of contract of
carriage. On January 18,1966 Militante obtained an order of preliminary
attachment on the property of Edrosolano. Alleging that he purchased all
of Edrosolano's TPU equipment on February 28, 1966, Belosillo filed a
third-party claim. It appears that on February 25, 1963 Belosillo obtained
a judgment by default against Edrosolano in Civil Case No. 6216 for
collection of amount of P45,000.00, the value of the promissory note
executed by the latter on February 1, 1960. After a recital of these
antecedent facts, Militante, in his petition for annulment of judgment
contended, inter alia, that (1) Civil Case No. 6216 "was based on a
fictitious cause of action because [the] promissory note was without
lawful consideration whatsoever" [at 476]; (2) Edrosolano did not file any
answer to Belosillo's complaint and allowed the latter to obtain a
judgment by default which judgment attained finality without the former
appealing therefrom; and, (3) while judgment in Civil Case No. 6216 was
promulgated iii 1963 it was "only on January 19, 1966 when . . . Belosillo
caused the execution thereof after [Militante] had already instituted his
civil case for damages against ... Edrosolano and an order for issuance
of preliminary attachment issued" [at 477]. The trial court however
dismissed Militante's action for annulment on finding that it did not state a
cause of action. Thereafter, Militante filed an appeal to this Tribunal and
in setting aside the trial court's order of dismissal', the Court, speaking
through then Mr. Associate Justice Enrique Fernando, stated that:
xxx xxx xxx
2. More specifically, the view entertained by the lower
court in its order of dismissal that an action for annulment
of judgment can be availed of only by those principally or
secondarily bound is contrary to what had been so clearly
declared by this Court in the leading case of Anuran v.
Aquino t38 Phil. 291, decided in 1918. It was emphatically
announced therein: "There can be no question as to the
right of any persons adversely affected by a judgement to
maintain an action to enjoin its enforcement and to have it
declared a nullity on the ground of fraud and collusion
practiced in the very matter of obtaining the judgment
when such fraud is extrinsic or collateral to the matters
involved in the issues raised at the trial which resulted in
such judgment. x x x." [at 3233.] Such a principle was
further fortified by an observation made by this Court
through Justice Ozaeta in Garchitorena v. Sotelo [74 Phil.
25 (,1942)j'. These are his words: "The collusive conduct
of the parties in the foreclosure suit constituted an
extrinsic or collateral fraud by reason of which the
judgment rendered therein may be annulled in this
separate action [citing also the case of Anuran]. Aside
from the Anuran-Aquino case, innumerable authorities
from other jurisdictions may be cited 'in support of the
annulment. But were there not any precedent to guide us,
reason and justice would compel us to lay down such
doctrine for the first time." [at 481-482-, Italics supplied.]
It is therefore clear from the foregoing that a person need not be a party
to the judgment sought to be annulled. What is essential is that he can
prove his allegation that the judgment was obtained by the use of fraud
and collusion and he would be adversely affected thereby.
In this present case it is true that the heirs of Araneta are not parties to
the foreclosure case. Neither are they principally nor secondarily bound
by the judgment rendered therein. However. their petition filed with the
Court of Appeals they alleged fraud and connivance perpetuated by and
between the Da Silvas and the Council as would adversely affect them.
This allegation, if fully substantiated by preponderance of evidence, could
be the basis for the annulment of Civil Case No. Q-43476.
Finally, the Council asserts that the remedy of annulment of judgment
applies only to final and executory judgment and not to that which had
already been fully executed or implemented.It is the Council's contention
that as the judgment in the foreclosure case had already been executed
evidenced by the fact that title to the property in question had been
transferred in its name the judgment can no longer be annulled. The
Council's contention is devoid of merit. In Garchitorena u. Sotelo, supra,
the Court affirmed the trial court's annulment of the judgment on
foreclosure notwithstanding the fact that ownership of the house and lot
subject of the mortgage had passed from the mortgagee who foreclosed
the mortgage and purchased the property at public auction to a person
who bought the same and finally to another individual in whose name the
Torrens certificate of title stood by the time the case reached this
Tribunal.
In view of the foregoing the Court finds that the Court of Appeals neither
acted without jurisdiction nor committed grave abuse of discretion in
giving due course to the petition for annulment of judgment as would
warrant the issuance of the extraordinary writ of certiorari in this case.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED and the orders of the
Court of Appeals dated November 10 and December 2 and 3,1987 are
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez,Jr., Feliciano and Bidlin,JJ., concur.