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Civil Procedure Digests

Judge Wagan
Emmanuel Emigdio D. Dumlao

I. JURISDICTION

Navales v. Abaya

FACTS:
Last July 27, 2003 more than 300 junior officers and enlisted men mostly
from the elite units of the AFP quietly entered the premises of the Ayala Center in
Makati City. They disarmed the security guards and took over the Oakwood Premier
Apartments (Oakwood). The soldiers then made a statement through ABS-CBN
News network that they went to Oakwood to air their grievances against the
administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo such as graft and corruption in
the military, sale of arms and ammunition to the enemies of the State, etc. They
declared the withdrawal of support from the chain of command and demanded the
resignation of key civilian and military leaders of the Arroyo administration.
After a series of negotiations between the soldiers and the Government team
led by Ambassador Cimatu an agreement was forged between the two groups.
Subsequently DOJ charged the 321 soldiers who took part in the Oakwood incident
with violation of Article 134-A coup d etat of the RPC. Thereafter several of the
accused filed in the RTC an Omnibus Motion praying that the RTC assume
jurisdiction over all charges filed before the military tribunal. While such motion
was pending, DOJ issued a Resolution finding probable cause for coup d etat against
only 31 of the original 321 accused and the charges against them were dismissed.
RTC admitted the Amended Information charging only 31 of the original
accused with the crime of coup d etat defined under Article 134-A of the RPC.
However, 1Lt. Navales, et. al who were earlier dropped as accused in the crime of
coup d etat were charged before the General Court Martial with violations of the
Articles of War.
At this point the RTC acted on the Omnibus Motion filed by the 243 of the
original accused declaring the petition for the court assume jurisdiction over all
charges filed before the military court and requiring the prosecution to produce
evidence to establish probable cause as MOOT AND ACADEMIC. Furthermore, it
declared that all the charges before the court-martial against the accused are hereby
declared NOT SERVICE CONNECTED BUT IS ABSORBED AND IN FURTHERANCE TO
THE ALLEGED CRIME OF COUP D ETAT.
The General Court-martial then set the arraignment/trial of those charged
with violations of the Articles of War. Petitions for the issuance of temporary
restraining order were filed and the court directed that parties to observe the status
quo prevail before the filing of the petition. The petitioners then filed for writs of
prohibition and habeas corpus in the RTC as relief.



ISSUE:
Whether or not the petitioners are entitled to the writs of prohibition and habeas
corpus and obtain relief in the RTC.

HELD:
NO. The Order of the RTC declaring that all the charges before the court-
martial against accused were not service-connected but absorbed and in
furtherance of the crime of coup d etat, cannot be given effect.
The RTC resolved the Omnibus Motion to assume jurisdiction over all the
charges filed before the military tribunal as moot and academic when the RTC
accepted the Amended Information under which only 31 of the accused were
charged and dismissing the case as against the other 290. It has become moot
against those charges that were dismissed.
However in said order it further declared that all the charges before the
court-martial against the accused and former accused are not service-connected,
believing that the crimes defined in and penalized by the Articles of War were
committed in furtherance of coup detat and thus absorbed by the said crime.
Thus, insofar as those whose case against them was dismissed, there was
nothing left to be resolved after the Omnibus Motion was considered moot and
academic. This dismissal made the petitioners no longer parties to the case and no
further relief could be granted to them.
1Lt Navales, et al. since they are strangers to the proceedings in the criminal
case are not bound by any judgment rendered by the court, thus they cannot find
solace in the declaration of the RTC that the charges filed against them before the
General Court-Martial were not service connected.
In view of the clear mandate of RA 7055 that military courts have jurisdiction
to try cases involving violations of Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to 92 and Articles 95
to 97 of the Articles of War as these are considered service connected crimes. It
even mandates that it should be tried by the court martial.
The RTC thus has no legal basis to rule that the violation of the following
Articles of War were committed in furtherance of coup d etat and as such absorbed
by the latter crime. In making such a declaration the RTC acted without or in excess
of jurisdiction and is NULL AND VOID.
The writs of prohibition and habeas corpus prayed for by the petitioners
must fail.
As a general rule, the writ of habeas corpus will not issue where the person
alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in custody of an officer under a process
issued by a court with jurisdiction and that the writ should not be allowed after the
party sought to be released had been charged before any court or quasi-judicial
body. Thus, the rules apply to petitioners who were detained under Commitment
Order issued by the Chief of Staff of the AFP.
On the other hand, the office of the writ of prohibition is to prevent inferior
courts, corporations, boards or persons from usurping or exercising a jurisdiction or
power with which they have not been vested by law.
In this case, the General Court Martial has jurisdiction over the charges filed
against 1Lt. Navales, et. al under RA 7055. A writ of prohibition cannot be issued to
prevent it from exercising its jurisdiction.

Ceroffer Realty Corp. vs. CA

FACTS:
Plaintiff (Ceroferr Realty Corporation) filed with the RTC, Quezon City, a
complaint against defendant Santiago, for "damages and injunction, with
preliminary injunction." In the complaint, Ceroferr prayed that Santiago and his
agents be enjoined from - claiming possession and ownership over Lot No. 68 of the
Tala Estate Subdivision, Quezon City, covered by TCT No. RT-90200 (334555); that
Santiago and his agents be prevented from making use of the vacant lot as a jeepney
terminal;
"In his answer, defendant Santiago alleged that the vacant lot referred to in
the complaint was within Lot No. 90 of the Tala Estate Subdivision, covered by his
TCT No. RT-78 110 (3538); that he was not claiming any portion of Lot No. 68
claimed by Ceroferr; that he had the legal right to fence Lot No. 90 since this
belonged to him, and he had a permit for the purpose; that Ceroferr had no color of
right over Lot No. 90 and, hence, was not entitled to an injunction to prevent
Santiago from exercising acts of ownership thereon;
"In the course of the proceedings, an important issue metamorphosed as a
result of the conflicting claims of the parties over the vacant lot actually used as a
jeepney terminal the exact identity and location thereof. There was a verification
survey, followed by a relocation survey, whereby it would appear that the vacant lot
is inside Lot No. 68. The outcome of the survey, however, was vigorously objected to
by defendant who insisted that the area is inside his lot. Defendant, in his
manifestation adverted to the report of a geodetic engineer. Mariano V. Flotildes, to
the effect that the disputed portion is inside the boundaries of Lot No. 90 of the Tala
Estate Subdivision which is separate and distinct from Lot No. 68, and that the two
lots are separated by a concrete fence.
"Because of the competing claims of ownership of the parties over the vacant
lot, it became inevitable that the eye of the storm centered on the correctness of
property boundaries which would necessarily result in an inquiry as to the
regularity and validity of the respective titles of the parties. While both parties have
been brandishing separate certificates of title, defendant asserted a superior claim
as against that of the plaintiff in that, according to defendant, his title has been
confirmed through judicial reconstitution proceedings, whereas plaintiffs title does
not carry any technical description of the property except only as it is designated in
the title as Lot No. 68 of the Tala Estate Subdivision.
"It thus became clear, at least from the viewpoint of defendant, that the case
would no longer merely involve a simple case of collection of damages and
injunction which was the main objective of the complaint - but a review of the title
of defendant vis--vis that of plaintiff. At this point, defendant filed a motion to
dismiss the complaint premised primarily on his contention that the trial court
cannot adjudicate the issue of damages without passing over the conflicting claims
of ownership of the parties over the disputed portion.
"On May 14, 1996, the trial court issued the order now subject of this appeal
which, as earlier pointed out, dismissed the case for lack of cause of action and lack
of jurisdiction. The court held that plaintiff was in effect impugning the title of
defendant which could not be done in the case for damages and injunction before it.
The court cited the hoary rule that a Torrens certificate of title cannot be the subject
of collateral attack but can only be challenged through a direct proceeding. It
concluded that it could not proceed to decide plaintiffs claim for damages and
injunction for lack of jurisdiction because its judgment would depend upon a
determination of the validity of defendants title and the identity of the land covered
by it.
"From this ruling, plaintiff appealed to this court insisting that the trial court
could proceed to try and decide the case before it since, under present law, there is
now no substantial distinction between the general jurisdiction vested in a regional
trial court and its limited jurisdiction when acting as a land registration court.
On March 26, 1999, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision dismissing the
appeal.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the trial court has jurisdiction to determine the identity and location
of the vacant lot involved in the case.

HELD:
On the issue of jurisdiction, we hold that the trial court has jurisdiction to
determine the identity and location of the vacant lot in question.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law and is determined by
the allegations of the complaint irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all
or some of the claims asserted therein. The jurisdiction of a court over the subject
matter is determined by the allegations of the complaint and cannot be made to
depend upon the defenses set up in the answer or pleadings filed by the defendant.
While the lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of an action,
nevertheless, the party raising such question may be estopped if he has actively
taken part in the very proceedings which he questions and he only objects to the
courts jurisdiction because the judgment or the order subsequently rendered is
adverse to him.
In this case, respondent Santiago may be considered estopped to question
the jurisdiction of the trial court for he took an active part in the case. In his answer,
respondent Santiago did not question the jurisdiction of the trial court to grant the
reliefs prayed for in the complaint. His geodetic engineers were present in the first
and second surveys that the LRA conducted. It was only when the second survey
report showed results adverse to his case that he submitted a motion to dismiss.
Both parties in this case claim that the vacant lot is within their property. This is an
issue that can be best resolved by the trial court in the exercise of its general
jurisdiction.
After the land has been originally registered, the Court of Land Registration
ceases to have jurisdiction over contests concerning the location of boundary lines.
In such case, the action in personam has to be instituted before an ordinary court of
general jurisdiction.
The regional trial court has jurisdiction to determine the precise identity and
location of the vacant lot used as a jeepney terminal.

Lee vs. Presiding Judge

FACTS:
On September 2, 1981, herein private respondents Spouses Roy Po Lam and
Josefa Po Lam filed a complaint for ejectment and/or unlawful detainer against
herein petitioner Jose Lee with the then City Court of Legazpi, Branch III, on the
ground that the oral contract of lease entered into between the private respondents
and said petitioner, over a commercial lot and building owned by the private
respondents, had already expired and the said petitioner refused to vacate said
property despite demands from private respondents.
In his answer, herein petitioner Jose Lee, specifically denied the allegation of
private respondents of ownership over the property, on the basis of a final decision
rendered by the then Court of Appeals on March 11, 1981 in CA-G.R. No. 44770,
wherein a certain Felix Lim intervenor therein, was declared as owner of a portion
of the property in question as well as entitled to exercise the right of redemption
over the remaining portion of said property from the subsequent buyer thereof who
is the predecessor-in-interest of the private respondents.
Felix Lim, filed an answer in intervention in Civil Case No. 2687, which was
admitted by the respondent trial court, wherein he, as the declared owner of a
portion of the property in question and redemptioner of the rest thereof by virtue of
the decision of the then Court of Appeals, questioned the right of the private
respondents to receive rentals thereon.
It appears that previous to the filing of the answer in intervention, petitioner
Felix Lim filed a complaint with the then Court of First Instance of Albay against
private respondents spouses Roy Po Lam and Josefa Po Lam, where he questioned
the right of ownership and possession by the private respondents of the property.
It appears further that petitioner Felix Lim filed another complaint with the Court of
First Instance of Albay against the private respondents for the reconveyance and
annulment of the sale and title involving the same property.
Lim reiterated his motion for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground
that jurisdiction over the issue of ownership of the land in question pertains to the
Court of First Instance of Albay, resolution of which was reserved while the case
proceeded to trial.
On December 19, 1983, the respondent trial judge rendered his decision
where he ruled that the Municipal Trial Court of Legazpi City has jurisdiction over
the issue of ownership of the property in question. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: (1) declaring the plaintiffs as lawful
owners of, and rightfully entitled to the immediate possession of the leased
commercial building and lot 1557, covered by TCT No. 8102 (formerly TCT 2580),
as described in paragraph 2 of the complaint; (2) directing the defendant his agent,
or anyone acting in his behalf, to vacate said leased building and lot, and to restore
the actual possession thereof, to the plaintiffs; (3) ordering the defendant to pay
directly the plaintiffs the whole rentals which accrued, from October, 1982 up to the
time he shall have vacated the leased premises, at the rate of P2,500.00 a month,
minus the amounts already deposited with the City Treasurer's Office of Legazpi,
which amounts are hereby retained to be withdrawn by the plaintiffs, their counsel
or representative; (4) directing the defendant to also pay the plaintiffs the amounts
of (a) P2,500.00, and Pl,200.00, as exemplary damages and attorney's fees,
respectively; and (b) the costs of the suit.
The intervenor's claim and prayer are denied for lack of merit.
Thereafter, petitioner Jose Lee filed a notice of appeal of the aforesaid
decision to the Intermediate Appellate Court.
On July 9, 1984, the Intermediate Appellate Court promulgated a resolution in the
case, copy of which was received by petitioner on July 12, 1984, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, this Court RESOLVED to dismiss the present appeal, which should
have been brought to the Regional Trial Court (Sec. BP 129).
Hence, this petition for certiorari and mandamus was filed on October 4, 1984.

ISSUES:
I. Whether or not the respondent trial judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Legazpi
City, Branch 1, acted without or in excess of jurisdiction; or with grave abuse of
discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction when it promulgated its decision dated
December 19, 1983 declaring private respondents as lawful owners of the property
subject of Civil Case No. 2687.

II. Whether or not the respondent Intermediate Appellate Court acted without or in
excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction when it promulgated its resolutions dated July 9, 1984 and September 5,
1984 dismissing the appeal sought by herein petitioners.

HELD:
I.
Petitioners contend that the respondent trial court has no jurisdiction over
the complaint for ejectment in Civil Case because the issue of ownership was raised
in the pleadings, hence, when the court resolved the issue of ownership over the
property in question, it acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
The contention is without merit.
When the complaint for ejectment was filed before the respondent trial court
on September 2, 1981, said court, as City Court of Legazpi City, had concurrent
jurisdiction with the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) in
ejectment cases where the question of ownership is involved. 'This is expressly
provided for in Section 3 of Republic Act No. 5967 which took effect on June 21,
1969, and which reads:
SEC. 3. Besides the civil cases over which the City Courts have jurisdiction under
Section eighty-eight of Republic Act Numbered Two hundred ninety-six, as
amended, it shall likewise have concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of First
Instance over the following:
(a) Petition for change of name of naturalized citizens after the judgment has
become final and executory:
(b) Cancellation or correction of entries in the City Civil Registry where the
corrections refer to typographical errors only; and
(c) In ejection cases where the question of ownership is brought in issue in the
pleadings. The issue of ownership shall therein be resolved in conjunction with the
issue of possession. (Emphasis supplied).
Evidently, when the complaint for ejectment was filed on September 2, 1981,
R.A. 5967 was the governing law; hence, the respondent trial court had jurisdiction
over the case and had validly rendered the December 19, 1983 decision. For, it is
well-settled that jurisdiction is determined by the law in force at the time of the
commencement of the action.
It is true that intervenor Felix Lim, petitioner herein, filed Civil Case No. 6696
on November 3, 1981 with the then Court of First Instance of Albay against spouses
Roy Po Lam and Josefa Po Lam, private respondents herein, questioning the
ownership and possession of the property in question, and on February 9, 1982, he
filed Civil Case No. 6767 also before the Court of First Instance of Albay, for the
recovery and annulment of the sale and title of the property in question.
However, at that time when the aforesaid civil cases were filed before the
Court of First Instance of Albay, the City Court of Legazpi had long acquired
jurisdiction over Civil Case No. 2687 to the exclusion of the Court of First Instance of
Albay.
It has been held that "even in cases of concurrent jurisdiction, it is, also,
axiomatic that the court first acquiring jurisdiction excludes the other courts".
In addition, it is a familiar principle that when a court of competent jurisdiction
acquires jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case, its authority continues,
subject only to the appellate authority, until the matter is finally and completely
disposed of, and that no court of co-ordinate authority is at liberty to interfere with
its action. This doctrine is applicable to civil cases, to criminal prosecutions, and to
courts-martial. The principle is essential to the proper and orderly administration of
the laws; and while its observance might be required on the grounds of judicial
comity and courtesy, it does not rest upon such considerations exclusively, but is
enforced to pre-vent unseemly, expensive, and dangerous conflicts of jurisdiction
and of process.
Furthermore, assuming that the respondent trial court has no jurisdiction
over the ejectment case, petitioners are already estopped to raise the question of
jurisdiction. As found by the City Court (now Municipal Trial Court) the issue of
ownership was formulated and raised not only in the September 2, 1981 complaint
of plaintiffs Roy Po Lam and Josefa Po Lam but also in the answer and rejoinder of
defendant Jose Lee which were filed on September 7, 1981 and September 23, 1981,
respectively, as well as in the answer in intervention of Felix Lim which was filed on
November 12, 1981. Likewise confirmatory is defendant's admission that "the issue
of ownership over the property in question is an integral part of the main issue in
the instant case as well as the intervenor's submission that the question of
possession is intimately linked with that of ownership. (Decision, Civil Case No.
2687; Rollo, pp. 108-109). Surely, petitioners, as defendants in Civil Case No. 2687,
submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court when they filed their answer to the
complaint and sought reliefs therefor; participated in the trial of the aforesaid case;
examined private respondent's witnesses; and adduced testimonial and
documentary evidence. They cannot now be allowed to belatedly adopt an
inconsistent posture by attacking the jurisdiction of the respondent trial court to
which they submitted their cause voluntarily. While generally, jurisdiction is
conferred by law and cannot be conferred by consent of the parties or by their
failure to object to the lack of it, the Supreme Court, however, in Tijam vs.
Sibonghanoy (23 SCRA 20, 35 [1968], has declared that ... a party cannot invoke the
jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and, after
obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same
jurisdiction (Dean vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79)." Therefore, the respondent
trial court has not acted without or in excess of jurisdiction when it rendered the
decision dated December 19, 1983.

II.
Petitioners likewise contend that the respondent Intermediate Appellate
Court has acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction or
without or in excess of jurisdiction when it dismissed the appeal from the decision
of the respondent trial court dated December 19, 1983 in Civil Case 2687 instead of
certifying the case to the proper court.
The contention is impressed with merit.
The appropriate procedure should have been to certify the case to the proper
court, which is the Regional Trial Court, instead of dismissing the appeal. While it is
true that under Section 5 of R.A. 5967, decisions of the City Courts are directly
appealable to the Court of Appeals, the said law, however, can be said to have been
repealed when Batas Pambansa 129, otherwise known as the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980, took effect on August 14, 1981. 1 Under Section 22 of
BP 129 the "Regional Trial Courts shall exercise appellate jurisdiction over all cases
decided by Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal 'Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit
Trial Courts in their respective territorial jurisdictions." Therefore, Civil Case 2687
was erroneously brought on appeal before the respondent Intermediate Appellate
Court. And Section 3 of Rule 50 of the Revised Rules of Court. states that:
Where appealed case erroneously brought. -Where the appealed case has been
erroneously brought to the Court of Appeals, it shall not dismiss the appeal, but shall
certify the case to the proper court, with specific and clear statement, of the grounds
therefor.
Under Sec. 22, B.P. 129 which was already in force and effect when
petitioners appealed from the decision of the City Court, the appeal should have
been brought to the Regional Trial Court. ( See Bello vs. Court of Appeals, March 29,
1974, 56 SCRA 509). Hence, respondent Intermediate Appellate Court erred in
failing to certify the case to the Regional Trial Court.

Ignacio vs. The Honorable Court of First Instance of Bulacan

FACTS:
The landholding in question was owned by Felizardo Lipana and tenanted by
Alipio Marcelo until his death on December 3, 1962. Two cases involving the land
were pending in the Court of Agrarian Relations at the time of death between Alipio
Marcelo and Felizardo Lipana. In both cases the deceased was subsequently
substituted by Maximo Marcelo and Emilia Tabor Vda. de Marcelo, surviving son and
wife, respectively. A third case was filed on December 20, 1962 by Maximo Marcelo
against Felizardo Lipana and Magdalena dela Cruz (the latter having been the
alleged common-law wife of Alipio Marcelo), praying that he, Maximo be declared as
entitled to succeed to the tenancy and status of the deceased. One of the allegations
of Lipana in his answer to the complaint was that he "signified his intention to
recognize as his tenant Magdalena dela Cruz who is the widow of Alipio Marcelo."
This is an admission that as far as Lipana was concerned it was Magdalena who had
the right to succeed the deceased Alipio as tenant.
Thereafter, a compromise agreement in the three CAR cases was entered into
by Maximo Marcelo and Felizardo Lipana, wherein the former surrendered all his
rights over the landholding in favor of the latter. A judgment in accordance with the
terms and conditions of said compromise was thereupon rendered by the trial Judge
on November 5, 1964, declaring that CAR cases were deemed closed and terminated
as between Maximo Marcelo and Felizardo Lipana.
On July 15, 1965 Magdalena dela Cruz filed a complaint against Lipana (Case
No. 1221), asking the CAR to declare her the lawful tenant of the landholding, to fix
the annual, rentals thereof during the past three years and to award damages in her
favor by way of attorney's fees and consequential expenses.
On July 29, 1965 Lipana in turn went to the Municipal Court of Plaridel,
Bulacan on an action for "Ejectment and Forcible Entry", with a prayer for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against Magdalena dela Cruz and her
husband Lorenzo Ignacio, alleging that he, Lipana, had been placed in possession of
the landholding by the provincial sheriff of Bulacan by virtue of the order of the CAR
dated January 27, 1965 in CAR cases.
On May 31, 1966 a decision in Civil Case No. 235 was rendered by the
Municipal Court, ordering defendants to vacate the land and to remove their house
therefrom. This decision was likewise appealed to the Court of First Instance. Again,
defendants were allowed to appeal as paupers.

ISSUE:
WON the CFI erred in dismissing the case

HELD:
YES. While it is true that the jurisdiction of the court in a suit for ejectment or
forcible entry is determined by the allegations in the complaint, yet where tenancy
is averred as a defense and, upon hearing, is shown to be the real issue, the court
should dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction. The decision of the CAR, it should be
remembered, was rendered upon a compromise agreement between Maximo
Marcelo and Felizardo Lipana. The right of Magdalena dela Cruz, who was a co-
defendant in CAR Case No. 895, was not touched upon in said agreement. There the
decision simply stated that CAR Cases Nos. 750, 827 and 895 were "deemed closed
and terminated as between Maximo Marcelo and Felizardo Lipana;" and the writ of
execution was limited to "placing Mr. Felizardo Lipana immediately in possession of
the landholding formerly cultivated by Maximo Marcelo or any person, agent,
and/or representative acting in behalf of Maximo Marcelo."
It was therefore incorrect for respondent court to conclude from the decision
and writ of execution in the CAR cases that Lipana had actual possession, as against
Magdalena dela Cruz, over the landholding prior to the alleged unlawful detainer
and/or forcible entry. While both Maximo and Magdalena asserted the right to
succeed to tenancy of the same landholding after the death of Alipio Marcelo, the
CAR did not adjudicate that right to either of them nor did it resolve the question as
to who had actual possession of the landholding after the death of Alipio. What it
did, in order to prevent further trouble between Maximo and Magdalena was to
place the landing under the administration of the Agricultural Extension Officer,
with instruction that Maximo and Magdalena should be given preference in working
on the land as laborers. The allegations in the complaint in CAR Case No. 1221
reveal that they worked on different portion of the land in accordance with the
CAR's order. This was how things stood when Maximo entered into a compromising
agreement with Lipana surrendering his rights over landholding in favor of the
latter. For all intents purposes, therefore, the decision and writ of execution effected
only the claim of Maximo Marcelo as tenant and actual possession of the portion of
the land on which he was working by virtue of the provisional arrangement ordered
by the CAR. Since the tenancy dispute remained unresolved with respect to
Magdalena dela Cruz and was actually the subject of litigation in CAR Case No. 1221,
the filing of the ejectment case was an intrusion upon the jurisdiction of said court.

Serdoncillo vs. Spouses Fidel

FACTS:
The subject premises was formerly part of the estate of H. V. Ongsiako. The
legal heirs of H.V. Ongsiako organized the United Complex Realty and Trading
Corporation (UCRTC) which subdivided the property into 14 lots, Lots 555-A to
666-N. The subdivided lots were then offered for sale with first priority to each of
the tenants, including the private respondents and petitioner.
Petitioner continued paying rentals to H.V. Ongsiakos wife, Mrs. Rosario de
Jesus. Thereafter, the collection of rentals was stopped prompting petitioner to file
on June 30, 1987, Civil Case No. 5456 before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasay
City for consignation of rentals against UCRTC, Rosario de Jesus and the spouses
Carisima. The consignation was granted by the trial court and was eventually
affirmed on appeal by the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109 on October
25, 1989.
On May 5, 1989, UCRTC executed a deed of absolute sale in favor of private
respondents-spouses Benolirao for Lot 666-H. This sale was annotated at the back
of UCRTCs title on Lot 666-H .
On June 2, 1989, after unsuccessful oral and written demands were made
upon petitioner, UCRTC instituted an action against her for recovery of possession
of the subject premises before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 114
docketed as Civil Case No 6652. On July 15, 1990, the trial court rendered its
decision dismissing the complaint of UCRTC for lack of merit.
UCRTC did not appeal the aforesaid decision of the Regional Trial Court, hence, the
same became final.
On November 20, 1989, Serdoncillo instituted Civil Case No. 7749 for the
Exercise of Preferential Rights of First Refusal against UCRTC and private
respondents-spouses Fidel and Evelyn Benolirao praying for the annulment of sale
of a portion of lot 666-H sold to the Benolirao spouses on the ground that said
transfer or conveyance is illegal. She claimed that she has the preferred right to buy
the said property and that the same was not offered to her under the same terms
and conditions, hence, it is null and void. UCRTC and private respondents
prevailed and this case was dismissed. On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the same
was dismissed on July 9, 1992.
On November 20, 1990, private respondents made their final demand on
petitioner reiterating their previous demands to vacate the property. On December
13, 1990, private respondents filed their complaint for recovery of possession of the
subject premises against petitioner before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City,
Branch 108, docketed as Civil Case No. 7785.
The issues having been joined, trial on the merits ensued. On June 30, 1992,
the trial court rendered its decision in favor of private respondents.
Aggrieved by the trial courts decision, petitioner appealed to the Court of
Appeals alleging that the lower court should have dismissed the complaint of
private respondents considering that based on the letter of demand dated
November 20, 1990, the action filed should have been unlawful detainer and not an
action for recovery of possession. On July 14, 1994, the respondent Court of Appeals
rendered its decision sustaining the findings of the trial court and dismissed the
appeal of petitioner.

ISSUE:
WON the respondent regional trial court and the court of appeals committed grave
abuse of jurisdiction in deciding as an accion publiciana an ejectment or unlawful
detainer case (the jurisdiction of which clearly pertains to the inferior court), a case
basically involving an easement of right of way.

HELD:
NO. It is an elementary rule of procedural law that jurisdiction of the court
over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of the complaint
irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of
the claims asserted therein. As a necessary consequence, the jurisdiction of the
court cannot be made to depend upon the defenses set up in the answer or upon the
motion to dismiss, for otherwise, the question of jurisdiction would almost entirely
depend upon the defendant. What determines the jurisdiction of the court is the
nature of the action pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the complaint. The
averments therein and the character of the relief sought are the ones to be
consulted. Accordingly, the issues in the instant case can only be properly resolved
by an examination and evaluation of the allegations in the complaint in Civil Case
No. 7785.
In this regard, to give the court jurisdiction to effect the ejectment of an
occupant or deforciant on the land, it is necessary that the complaint must
sufficiently show such a statement of facts as to bring the party clearly within the
class of cases for which the statutes provide a remedy, without resort to parol
testimony, as these proceedings are summary in nature. In short, the jurisdictional
facts must appear on the face of the complaint. When the complaint fails to aver
facts constitutive of forcible entry or unlawful detainer, as where it does not state
how entry was effected or how and when dispossession started, the remedy should
either be an accion publiciana or an accion reivindicatoria.
A reading of the averments of the complaint in Civil Case No. 7785
undisputably show that plaintiffs (private respondents herein) clearly set up title to
themselves as being the absolute owner of the disputed premises by virtue of their
transfer certificates of title and pray that petitioner Serdoncillo be ejected
therefrom. There is nothing in the complaint in Civil Case No. 7785 alleging any of
the means of dispossession that would constitute forcible entry under Section (1)
Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, nor is there any assertion of defendants possession
which was originally lawful but ceased to be so upon the expiration of the right to
possess. It does not characterize petitioners alleged entry into the land, that is,
whether the same was legal or illegal nor the manner in which petitioner was able
to construct the house and the pig pens thereon. The complaint merely avers that a
portion of the lot owned by private respondents and its right of way have been
occupied by petitioner and that she should vacate. The action therefore is neither
one of forcible entry nor of unlawful detainer but essentially involves a dispute
relative to the ownership of 4.1 square meters of land allegedly encroached upon by
petitioner and its adjoining right of way.

Tinitigan v. Tinitgian Sr.

FACTS:
Payuran and her 3 children leased to United Elec Corp a factory building with
the land. The consent of Tinitigan Sr. (husband of Payuran) was not secured.
Consequently he filed a complaint for Annulment of Ownership & Contract of Lease
at CFI Rizal. The complaint was later amended to include restrain defendants from
encumbering or disposing property in the name of Molave Development Corp &
those in their name as husband and wife. Te court enjoined Payuran from doing any
act to dispose the property. The case was then set for hearing primarily on the the
issue of preliminary injunction. The contract of lease was settled amicably. However
Tinitigan Sr. sought judicial approval of sale of 2 rented house and lot which are
conjugal which was tenanted by Quintin Lim. The court granted. An MR was filed by
Payuran because allegedly the Loring property is suitable for condo site therefore
command a higher price. Two days thereafter, Payuran filed a legal separation case
at CFI Pasay. The parties agreed to the continuation of the administration of the
conjugal property by Payuran subject to certain conditions, one of which the Loring
property shall be subject to the decision of CFI Rizal. Meanwhile Judge of CFI Rizal
denied petitioners MR for lack of merit. They appealed but was denied on the
ground that the order appealed from is merely interlocutory. Payuran and children
then filed a petition for certiorari at the CA which affirmed the same, hence this
petition.

ISSUE:
WON the court where respondent Judge acquire jurisdiction over the Loring
property hence cannot grant authority to sell.

HELD:
YES. In the amended complaint, respondents prayed among others "to
restrain the defendant-relatives of the plaintiff from encumbering or disposing
properties in the name of the Molave Development Corporation or those in the
name of Severino Tinitigan Sr, and Teofista Payuran." This, in effect, brings the
Loring property by TCT No. 15923 within the jurisdiction of the court which issued
the order. Certainly, a motion in relation thereto is but proper. Furthermore, it is
worth repeating that the said motion to seek judicial approval of sale in lieu of
marital consent amounts to compliance with legal requirement delineated in Article
166, supra. The issuance of the order dated September 29, 1975 was, henceforth,
pursuant to a validly acquired jurisdiction, in keeping with a well-entrenched
principle that "jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law. It is
determined by the allegations of the complaint, irrespective of whether or not the
plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein - a
matter that can be resolved only after and as a result of the trial. Nor may the
jurisdiction of the court be made to depend upon the defenses set up in the answer
or upon the motion to dismiss, for, were we to be governed by such rule, the
question of jurisdiction would depend almost entirely upon the defendant. But it is
necessary that jurisdiction be properly involved or called into activity by the firing
of a petition, complaint or other appropriate pleading. Nothing can change the
jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter. None of the parties to the litigation
can enlarge or diminish it or dictate when it shall be removed. That power is a
matter of legislative enactment which none but the legislature may change".
The well-settled rule that "jurisdiction once acquired continues until the case
is finally terminated" is hereby observed. "The jurisdiction of a court depends upon
the state of facts existing at the time it is invoked, and if the jurisdiction once
attaches to the person and subject matter of the litigation, the subsequent
happening of events, although they are of such a character as would have prevented
jurisdiction from attaching in the first innocence, will not operate to oust
jurisdiction already attached".


Amigo vs CA

FACTS:
Petitioners Lolita Amigo and Estelita vda. de Salinas leased in 1961 from
Mercedes Inigo, a parcel of land, located along Leon Garcia St., Agdao District, Davao
City. Petitioners constructed their houses on the lot. Mercedes Inigo later sold and
transferred her ownership of the land to Juan Bosquit and herein private
respondent Jesus Wee Eng.
Bosquit and Wee entered into a deed of exchange with the City Government
of Davao. Bosquit and Wee exchanged a portion of their lot for also a portion of a lot
in the name of the city.
Bosquit and Wee instituted an action for unlawful detainer against
petitioners before the City Court of Davao. After almost seven years, or on 19 July
1976, the city court finally dismissed the action on the technicality that the plaintiffs
did not observe the required 15-day period from the sending of the letter of demand
before filing the action, the letter having been sent instead on 19 September 1969 or
only twelve days before the filing of the action.
Bosquit sold his rights and interests over the lots to Wee.
22 July 1977, Wee, herein private respondent, filed a complaint against
petitioners in the then Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch III, for recovery of
the real property in question. On 08 September 1978, after the petitioners had filed
their answer, the court appointed Bueno, a duly licensed geodetic engineer to
conduct a relocation survey of the boundaries of the land. In his report:
x x x portions of about two-thirds (2/3) of the houses of Lolita Amigo and that of
Estelita Vda. de Salinas is inside of Lot of Wee; the remaining one-third of it lies on
the road widening and the creek respectively.
Private respondent sought an amendment of his complaint which was
allowed by the lower court, as so amended, the complaint prayed not only for the
recovery of real property and damages but also for an abatement of nuisance.
In their amended answer, petitioners denied the material allegations of the
amended complaint. Petitioners stressed that their houses stood neither on private
respondents land nor on the sidewalk or shoulders of Leon Garcia Street but along
the banks of the Agdao Creek.
TC: in favor of plaintiff/private respondent Wee
CA: dismissed the appeal for the failure of petitioners to file an appeal brief
within reglementary period.
Private respondent moved for execution of the judgment.
Petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals an action for the annulment of the trial
courts decision, as well as all orders and proceedings subsequent thereto, including
the various writs of execution and demolition. Petitioners contended that the
judgment rendered by the lower court was void for want of jurisdiction.
CA dismissed the petition.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the court a quo acquired jurisdiction over the subject matter and
their person in the case at bench.

HELD:
Petition denied.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and
determined by the allegations of the complaint. It should hardly be of any
consequence that the merits of the case are later found to veer away from the claims
asseverated by the plaintiff. The suit below is aimed at recovering real property, an
action clearly well within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court. Jurisdiction
over the person of the defendant in a civil action is acquired either by his voluntary
appearance in court and his submission to its authority or by service of summons. In
this case, by their filing of an answer and later an amended answer, petitioners must
be deemed to have formally and effectively appeared before the lower court. Unlike
the question of jurisdiction over the subject matter which may be invoked at any
stage of the proceedings (even on appeal), the issue of jurisdiction over the person
of the defendant, however, as has been so held lately in La Naval Drug Corporation v.
Court of Appeals, must be seasonably raised, and it can well be pleaded in a motion
to dismiss or by way of an affirmative defense in an answer. The records bear out
the fact that petitioners have allowed the issue of jurisdiction to pass unquestioned
until the rendition of the judgment. It is now too late in the day for petitioners to
assail the jurisdiction of the lower court over their person, a somersault that neither
law nor policy will sanction.

Tijam vs Sibonghanoy

FACTS:
Spouses Serafin Tijam and Felicitas Tagalog commenced a Civil Case in the
Court of First Instance of Cebu against the spouses Magdaleno Sibonghanoy and
Lucia Baguio to recover from them the sum of money. A counter-bond was filed by
defendants and the Manila Surety and Fidelity Co., Inc. hereinafter referred to as the
Surety.
After being duly served with summons the defendants filed their answer in
which, after making some admissions and denials of the material averments of the
complaint, they interposed a counterclaim. This counterclaim was answered by the
plaintiffs.
The trial court rendered a decision in favor of plaintiffs, and issued a writ of
execution after such decision became final. The writ having been returned
unsatisfied, the plaintiffs moved for the issuance of a writ of execution against the
Surety's bond, against which the Surety filed a written opposition upon two
grounds, namely, (1) Failure to prosecute and (2) Absence of a demand upon the
Surety for the payment of the amount due under the judgment. The court denied
the motion. The court granted another writ of execution against Surety.
Surety moved to quash the writ on the ground that the same was issued
without the required summary hearing provided for in Section 17 of Rule 59 of the
Rules of Court. As the Court denied the motion, the Surety appealed to the Court of
Appeals.
Not one of the assignment of errors it is obvious raises the question of
lack of jurisdiction, neither directly nor indirectly.
CA affirmed the orders appealed from.
Surety filed a pleading entitled MOTION TO DISMISS, alleging substantially
that appellees action was filed in the Court of First Instance of Cebu on July 19, 1948
for the recovery of the sum of P1,908.00 only; that a month before that date
Republic Act No. 296, otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948, had already
become effective, Section 88 of which placed within the original exclusive
jurisdiction of inferior courts all civil actions where the value of the subject-matter
or the amount of the demand does not exceed P2,000.00, exclusive of interest and
costs; that the Court of First Instance therefore had no jurisdiction to try and decide
the case. Upon these premises the Surety's motion prayed the Court of Appeals to
set aside its decision and to dismiss the case.
The CA certified the case before the SC.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the Motion to Dismiss must be granted.

HELD:
It is an undisputed fact that the action commenced by appellees in the Court
of First Instance of Cebu against the Sibonghanoy spouses was for the recovery of
the sum of P1,908.00 only an amount within the original exclusive jurisdiction of
inferior courts in accordance with the provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1948 which
had taken effect about a month prior to the date when the action was commenced.
True also is the rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred upon the
courts exclusively by law, and as the lack of it affects the very authority of the court
to take cognizance of the case, the objection may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings. However, considering the facts and circumstances of the present case
which shall forthwith be set forth We are of the opinion that the Surety is now
barred by laches from invoking this plea at this late hour for the purpose of annuling
everything done heretofore in the case with its active participation.
As already stated, the action was commenced in the Court of First Instance of
Cebu on July 19, 1948, that is, almost fifteen years before the Surety filed its motion
to dismiss on January 12, 1963 raising the question of lack of jurisdiction for the
first time.
Laches, in a general sense is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and
unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or
should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a
reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either
has abandoned it or declined to assert it.
Facts of this case show that from the time the Surety became a quasi-party on
July 31, 1948, it could have raised the question of the lack of jurisdiction of the Court
of First Instance of Cebu to take cognizance of the present action by reason of the
sum of money involved which, according to the law then in force, was within the
original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts. It failed to do so. Instead, at several
stages of the proceedings in the court a quo as well as in the Court of Appeals, it
invoked the jurisdiction of said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its
case for a final adjudication on the merits. It was only after an adverse decision was
rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to raise the question of
jurisdiction. Were we to sanction such conduct on its part, We would in effect be
declaring as useless all the proceedings had in the present case since it was
commenced on July 19, 1948 and compel the judgment creditors to go up their
Calvary once more. The inequity and unfairness of this is not only patent but
revolting.

Calimlim vs Ramirez

FACTS:
Sometime in 1961, a judgment for a sum of money was rendered in favor of
Independent Mercantile Corporation against a certain Manuel Magali by the
Municipal Court of Manila in Civil Case No. 85136. After said judgment became final,
a writ of execution was issued on July 31, 1961. The Notice of Levy made on
September 21, 1961 on a parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
9138 registered in the name of "Domingo Magali, married to Modesta Calimlim",
specified that the said levy was only against "all rights, title, action, interest and
participation of the defendant Manuel Magali over the parcel of land described in
this title. " The Certificate of Sale executed by the Provincial Sheriff of Pangasinan on
October 17, 1961 in favor of Independent Mercantile Corporation also stated that
the sale referred only to the rights and interest of Manuel Magali over the land
described in TCT No. 9138. Manuel Magali is one of the several children of Domingo
Magali who had died in 1940 and herein petitioner Modesta Calimlim.
However, when the Sheriff issued the final Deed of Sale on January 25, 1963,
it was erroneously stated therein that the sale was with respect to "the parcel of
land described in this title".
Independent Mercantile Corporation filed a petition in the respondent Court
to compel Manuel Magali to surrender the owner's duplicate of TCT No. 9138 in
order that the same may be cancelled and a new one issued in the name of the said
corporation. Not being the registered owner and the title not being in his
possession, Manuel Magali failed to comply with the order of the Court directing him
to surrender the said title.
Independent Mercantile Corporation filed an ex-parte petition to declare TCT
No. 9138 as cancelled and to issue a new title in its name. The said petition was
granted by the respondent Court and in its Order dated July 13, 1967, it directed the
issuance of a new certificate of title in the name of the Independent Mercantile
Corporation.
Petitioner Modesta Calimlim, surviving spouse of Domingo Magali, upon
learning that her husband's title over the parcel of land had been cancelled, filed a
petition with the respondent Court, for cancellation of the title issued to
Independent Mercantile, but the same was dismissed.
Petitioners did not appeal the dismissal. Instead, on January 11, 1971, they
filed the complaint praying for the cancellation of the conveyances and sales that
had been made with respect to the property. Named as defendant in said civil case
was herein private respondent Francisco Ramos who claimed to have bought the
property from Independent Mercantile Corporation on July 25, 1967. Private
respondent Francisco Ramos, however, failed to obtain a title over the property in
his name in view of the existence of an adverse claim annotated on the title thereof
at the instance of the herein petitioners.
Private respondent Francisco Ramos filed a Motion To Dismiss the case on
the ground that the same is barred by prior judgement or by statute of limitations.
Resolving the said Motion, the respondent Court, in its Order dated April 21, 1971,
dismissed Civil Case on the ground of estoppel by prior judgment. Thus, the petition
before the SC.

ISSUE:
Whether or not Res Judicata applies.

HELD:
It is error to consider the dismissal of the petition filed by the herein
petitioner in LRC Record No. 39492 for the cancellation of TCT No. 68568 as a bar
by prior judgment against the filing of Civil Case No. SCC-180. In order to avail of the
defense of res judicata, it must be shown, among others, that the judgment in the
prior action must have been rendered by a court with the proper jurisdiction to take
cognizance of the proceeding in which the prior judgment or order was rendered. If
there is lack of jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the suit or of the parties, the
judgment or order cannot operate as an adjudication of the controversy. This
essential element of the defense of bar by prior judgment or res judicata does not
exist in the case presently considered.
The petition filed by the herein petitioners in LRC Record No. 39492 was an
apparent invocation of the authority of the respondent Court sitting as a land
registration court, Although the said petition did not so state, that reliance was
apparently placed on Section 112 of the Land Registration Act. It has been settled by
consistent rulings of this Court that a court of first instance, acting as a land
registration court, is a court of limited and special jurisdiction. As such, its
proceedings are not adequate for the litigation of issues pertaining to an ordinary
civil action, such as, questions involving ownership or title to real property.
In the order of the respondent Judge dated September 29, 1971 denying the
second motion for reconsideration, he cited the case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, 23
SCRA 29, to uphold the view that the petitioners are deemed estopped from
questioning the jurisdiction of the respondent Court in having taken cognizance of
the petition for cancellation of TCT No. 68568, they being the ones who invoked the
jurisdiction of the said Court to grant the affirmative relief prayed for therein. We
are of the opinion that the ruling laid down in Sibonghanoy may not be applied
herein. Neither its factual backdrop nor the philosophy of the doctrine therein
expounded fits the case at bar.
A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in
decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-
matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or
agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any
stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent
pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of
Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been
applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The
exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure
from the accepted concept of non-waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been
ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered
the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general
rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of
jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court that rendered
the questioned ruling was held to be barred by estoppel by laches. It was ruled that
the lack of jurisdiction having been raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss
filed almost fifteen (15) years after the questioned ruling had been rendered, such a
plea may no longer be raised for being barred by laches. As defined in said case,
laches is "failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to
do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it
is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a
presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert
it."
The petitioners in the instant case may not be faulted with laches. When they
learned that the title to the property owned by them had erroneously and illegally
been cancelled and registered in the name of another entity or person who had no
right to the same, they filed a petition to cancel the latter's title. It is unfortunate that
in pursuing said remedy, their counsel had to invoke the authority of the respondent
Court as a cadastral court, instead of its capacity as a court of general jurisdiction.
Their petition to cancel the title in the name of Independent Mercantile Corporation
was dismissed upon a finding by the respondent Court that the same was "without
merit." No explanation was given for such dismissal nor why the petition lacked
merit. There was no hearing, and the petition was resolved solely on the basis of
memoranda filed by the parties which do not appear of record. It is even a
possibility that such dismissal was in view of the realization of the respondent Court
that, sitting as a cadastral court, it lacked the authority to entertain the petition
involving as it does a highly controversial issue. Upon such petition being dismissed,
the petitioners instituted Civil Case No. SCC-180 on January 1, 1971, or only two and
one-half years after the dismissal of their petition in LRC Record No. 39492. Hence,
we see no unreasonable delay in the assertion by the petitioners of their right to
claim the property which rightfully belongs to them. They can hardly be presumed
to have abandoned or waived such right by inaction within an unreasonable length
of time or inexcusable negligence. In short, their filing of Civil Case No. SCC-180
which in itself is an implied non-acceptance of the validity of the proceedings had in
LRC Record No. 39492 may not be deemed barred by estoppel by laches.




Francel Realty Corp vs. Sycip

FACTS:
Petitioner Francel Realty and Respondent Fernando Sycip entered into a
contract to sell a house and lot. Respondent was able to pay the downpayment
which value was considered as monthly rentals. However, despite the transfer of the
title in the name of [respondent], the latter refused to pay the balance of
P250,000.00. The downpayment was then applied to defendants monthly rental,
said amount has been reduced to nothing.Despite several demands made by
petitioner, respondent refused to reconvey the subject property to petitioner.
Petitioner then filed an illegal detainer case against respondent before the MTC of
Bacoor, Cavite, which was accordingly dismissed by the MTC on the ground of lack
of jurisdiction. Agreeing with the trial court, the CA held that the case involved not
just reconveyance and damages, but also a determination of the rights and
obligations of the parties to a sale of real estate under PD 957; hence, the case fell
exclusively under the jurisdiction of the HLURB. Hence tis petition for review on
certiorari.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the lower court can dismiss, after full blown trial, Civil Case No. BCV-
94-2 of the RTC, Imus, Cavite, on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

HELD:
YES. "A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in
decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-
matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or
agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any
stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent
pronouncement such as the case of Sibonghanoy (where the court ruled that
estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction). In this
case, petitioner argues that the CAs affirmation of the trial courts dismissal of its
case was erroneous, considering that a full-blown trial had already been conducted.
In effect, it contends that lack of jurisdiction could no longer be used as a ground for
dismissal after trial had ensued and ended.
It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in Sibonghanoy case had been
applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. Indeed, the
general rule remains: a courts lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings, even on appeal. The reason is that jurisdiction is conferred by law, and
lack of it affects the very authority of the court to take cognizance of and to render
judgment on the action. Moreover, jurisdiction is determined by the averments of
the complaint, not by the defenses contained in the answer.
From the very beginning, the present respondent has been challenging the
jurisdiction of the trial court and asserting that the HLURB is the entity that has
proper jurisdiction over the case. Consonant with Section 1 of Rule 16 of the Rules
of Court, he had raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction in his Motion to Dismiss. Even
when the Motion was denied, he continuously invoked lack of jurisdiction in his
Answer with affirmative defenses, his subsequent pleadings, and verbally during the
trial. This consistent and continuing objection to the trial courts jurisdiction defeats
petitioners contention that raising other grounds in a Motion to Dismiss is
considered a submission to the jurisdiction of the court.
Hence, petition is denied.

Venancio Figuerroa v. People

FACTS:
An information for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide was filed
against the petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan. Trial on the
merits ensued and the trial court convicted the petitioner as charged. In his appeal
before the CA, the petitioner questioned, among others, for the first time, the trial
courts jurisdiction.
The appellate court, however, in the challenged decision, considered the
petitioner to have actively participated in the trial and to have belatedly attacked
the jurisdiction of the RTC; thus, he was already estopped by laches from asserting
the trial courts lack of jurisdiction. Finding no other ground to reverse the trial
courts decision, the CA affirmed the petitioners conviction but modified the penalty
imposed and the damages awarded.
Dissatisfied, the petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUE:
Does the fact that the petitioner failed to raise the issue of jurisdiction during the
trial of this case, which was initiated and filed by the public prosecutor before the
wrong court, constitute laches ?

HELD:
NO. Applying the said doctrine to the instant case, the petitioner is in no way
estopped by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, considering that he raised
the lack thereof in his appeal before the appellate court. At that time, no
considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to attach. True, delay alone, though
unreasonable, will not sustain the defense of "estoppel by laches" unless it further
appears that the party, knowing his rights, has not sought to enforce them until the
condition of the party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that he
cannot be restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to loss of
evidence, change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes. In applying the
principle of estoppel by laches in the exceptional case of Sibonghanoy, the Court
therein considered the patent and revolting inequity and unfairness of having the
judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more after more or less 15 years. The
same, however, does not obtain in the instant case.
We note at this point that estoppel, being in the nature of a forfeiture, is not
favored by law. It is to be applied rarelyonly from necessity, and only in
extraordinary circumstances. The doctrine must be applied with great care and the
equity must be strong in its favor. When misapplied, the doctrine of estoppel may be
a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of injustice.

Hence, petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94
is hereby DISMISSED without prejudice.

Manchester Development Corporation v. CA

FACTS:
A complaint for specific performance was filed by Manchester Development
Corporation against City Land Development Corporation to compel the latter to
execute a deed of sale in favor Manchester. Manchester also alleged that City Land
forfeited the formers tender of payment for a certain transaction thereby causing
damages to Manchester amounting to P78,750,000.00. This amount was alleged in
the BODY of their Complaint but it was not reiterated in the PRAYER of same
complaint. Manchester paid a docket fee of P410.00 only. Said docket fee is
premised on the allegation of Manchester that their action is primarily for specific
performance hence it is incapable of pecuniary estimation. The court ruled that
there is an under assessment of docket fees hence it ordered Manchester to amend
its complaint. Manchester complied but what it did was to lower the amount of
claim for damages to P10M. Said amount was however again not stated in the
PRAYER.

ISSUE:
Should the amendment complaint be admitted?

HELD:
No. The docket fee, its computation, should be based on the original
complaint. A case is deemed filed only upon payment of the appropriate docket fee
regardless of the actual date of filing in court. Here, since the proper docket fee was
not paid for the original complaint, its as if there is no complaint to speak of. As a
consequence, there is no original complaint duly filed which can be amended. So the
any subsequent proceeding taken in consideration of the amended complaint is
void.
Manchesters defense that this case is primarily an action for specific
performance is not merited. As maybe gleaned from the allegations of the complaint
as well as the designation thereof, it is both an action for damages and specific
performance. The docket fee paid upon filing of complaint in the amount only of
P410.00 by considering the action to be merely one for specific performance where
the amount involved is not capable of pecuniary estimation is obviously erroneous.
Although the total amount of damages sought is not stated in the prayer of the
complaint yet it is spelled out in the body of the complaint totalling in the amount of
P78,750,000.00 which should be the basis of assessment of the filing fee.The
Supreme Court ruled that based on the allegations and the prayer of the complaint,
this case is an action for damages and for specific performance. Hence, it is capable
of pecuniary estimation.
Further, the amount for damages in the original complaint was already
provided in the body of the complaint. Its omission in the PRAYER clearly
constitutes an attempt to evade the payment of the proper filing fees. To stop the
happenstance of similar irregularities in the future, the Supreme Court ruled that
from this case on, all complaints, petitions, answers and other similar pleadings
should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body of the
pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the
assessment of the filing fees in any case. Any pleading that fails to comply with this
requirement shall not bib accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged
from the record.

Sun Insurance Office Ltd. v. Hon. Asuncion

FACTS:
On February 28, 1984, petitioner Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL for brevity)
filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila for the
consignation of a premium refund on a fire insurance policy with a prayer for the
judicial declaration of its nullity against private respondent Manuel Uy Po Tiong.
Private respondent as declared in default for failure to file the required answer
within the reglementary period.
On the other hand, on March 28, 1984, private respondent filed a complaint
in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for the refund of premiums and the
issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment which was docketed as Civil Case No.
Q-41177, initially against petitioner SIOL, and thereafter including E.B. Philipps and
D.J. Warby as additional defendants. The complaint sought, among others, the
payment of actual, compensatory, moral, exemplary and liquidated damages,
attorney's fees, expenses of litigation and costs of the suit. Although the prayer in
the complaint did not quantify the amount of damages sought said amount may be
inferred from the body of the complaint to be about Fifty Million Pesos
(P50,000,000.00).
Only the amount of P210.00 was paid by private respondent as docket fee
which prompted petitioners' counsel to raise his objection. Said objection was
disregarded by respondent Judge Jose P. Castro who was then presiding over said
case. Upon the order of this Court, the records of said case together with twenty-two
other cases assigned to different branches of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City
which were under investigation for under-assessment of docket fees were
transmitted to this Court. The Court thereafter returned the said records to the trial
court with the directive that they be re-raffled to the other judges in Quezon City, to
the exclusion of Judge Castro. Civil Case No. Q-41177 was re-raffled to Branch 104, a
sala which was then vacant.
On October 15, 1985, the Court en banc issued a Resolution in Administrative
Case No. 85-10-8752-RTC directing the judges in said cases to reassess the docket
fees and that in case of deficiency, to order its payment. The Resolution also
requires all clerks of court to issue certificates of re-assessment of docket fees. All
litigants were likewise required to specify in their pleadings the amount sought to
be recovered in their complaints.
On December 16, 1985, Judge Antonio P. Solano, to whose sala Civil Case No.
Q-41177 was temporarily assigned, issuedan order to the Clerk of Court instructing
him to issue a certificate of assessment of the docket fee paid by private respondent
and, in case of deficiency, to include the same in said certificate.
On January 7, 1984, to forestall a default, a cautionary answer was filed by
petitioners. On August 30,1984, an amended complaint was filed by private
respondent including the two additional defendants aforestated.
Judge Maximiano C. Asuncion, to whom Civil Case No. Q41177 was thereafter
assigned, after his assumption into office on January 16, 1986, issued a
Supplemental Order requiring the parties in the case to comment on the Clerk of
Court's letter-report signifying her difficulty in complying with the Resolution of this
Court of October 15, 1985 since the pleadings filed by private respondent did not
indicate the exact amount sought to be recovered. On January 23, 1986, private
respondent filed a "Compliance" and a "Re-Amended Complaint" stating therein a
claim of "not less than Pl0,000,000. 00 as actual compensatory damages" in the
prayer. In the body of the said second amended complaint however, private
respondent alleges actual and compensatory damages and attorney's fees in the
total amount of about P44,601,623.70.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction for failure of the
petitioner to pay the appropriate docket fees.

HELD:
The Supreme Court dismissed the petition. It stated the ff:
1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory
pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court
with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action. Where the
filing of the initiatory pleading is not accompanied by payment of the docket
fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within a reasonable time but in
no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third party claims
and similar pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing
fee prescribed therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within
a reasonable time but also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or
reglementary period.
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of
the appropriate pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently,
the judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same
has been left for determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall
constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court
or his duly authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the
additional fee.





Tacay v. RTC of Tagum

FACTS:
In the Regional Trial Court at Tagum, Davao del Norte, three actions for
recovery of possession (acciones publicianas 2 ) were separately instituted by
Godofredo Pineda against three (3) defendants, docketed as follows:
1) vs. Antonia Noel Civil Case No. 2209
2) vs. Ponciano Panes Civil Case No. 2210
3) vs. Maximo Tacay Civil Case No. 2211.
The complaints 3 all alleged the same essential facts (1) Pineda was the
owner of a parcel of land measuring 790 square meters, his ownership being
evidenced by TCT No. T-46560; (2) the previous owner had allowed the defendants
to occupy portions of the land by mere tolerance; (3) having himself need to use the
property, Pineda had made demands on the defendants to vacate the property and
pay reasonable rentals therefor, but these demands had been refused; and (4) the
last demand had been made more than a year prior to the commencement of suit.
The complaints prayed for the same reliefs, to wit:
1) that plaintiff be declared owner of the areas occupied by the defendants;
2) that defendants and their "privies and allies" be ordered to vacate and
deliver the portions of the land usurped by them;
3) that each defendant be ordered to pay:
1 ) P 2,000 as monthly rents from February, 1987;
2 ) Actual damages, as proven;
3 ) Moral and nominal damages as the Honorable Court may fix ;
4) P30,000.00, "as attorney's fees, and representation fees of P5,000.00
per day of appearance;"
And
4) that he (Pineda) be granted such "further relief and remedies ... just and
equitable in the premises.
The prayer of each complaint contained a handwritten notation (evidently
made by plaintiff's counsel) reading, "P5,000.00 as and for," immediately above the
typewritten words, "Actual damages, as proven," the intention apparently being to
make the entire phrase read, " P5,000.00 as and for actual damages as proven.
Motions to dismiss were filed in behalf of each of the defendants by common
counsel . Every motion alleged that the Trial Court had not acquired jurisdiction of
the case
. . . for the reason that the ... complaint violates the mandatory and clear provision of
Circular No. 7 of the ... Supreme Court dated March 24,1988, by failing to specify all
the amounts of damages which plaintiff is claiming from defendant;" and
. . . for ... failure (of the complaint) to even allege the basic requirement as to the
assessed value of the subject lot in dispute.

ISSUE:
WON the RTC has jurisdiction.

HELD:
The joint petition should be, as it is hereby, dismissed.
It should be dismissed for failure to comply with this Court's Circular No. 1-
88 (effective January 1, 1989).
It is true that the complaints do not state the amounts being claimed as
actual, moral and nominal damages. It is also true, however, that the actions are not
basically for the recovery of sums of money. They are principally for recovery of
possession of real property, in the nature of an accion publiciana. Determinative of
the court's jurisdiction in this type of actions is the nature thereof, not the amount of
the damages allegedly arising from or connected with the issue of title or
possession, and regardless of the value of the property. Quite obviously, an action
for recovery of possession of real property (such as an accion plenaria de possesion)
or the title thereof, or for partition or condemnation of, or the foreclosure of a
mortgage on, said real property - in other words, a real action-may be commenced
and prosecuted without an accompanying claim for actual, moral, nominal or
exemplary damages; and such an action would fall within the exclusive, original
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court.
Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 provides that Regional Trial Courts shall exercise
exclusive original jurisdiction inter alia over "all civil actions which involve the title
to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, except actions for forcible
entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over
which is conferred upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts." The rule applies regardless of the value of the real
property involved, whether it be worth more than P20,000.00 or not, infra. The rule
also applies even where the complaint involving realty also prays for an award of
damages; the amount of those damages would be immaterial to the question of the
Court's jurisdiction. The rule is unlike that in other cases e.g., actions simply for
recovery of money or of personal property, or actions in admiralty and maritime
jurisdiction 16 in which the amount claimed, or the value of the personal property,
is determinative of jurisdiction; i.e., the value of the personal property or the
amount claimed should exceed twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) in order to be
cognizable by the Regional Trial Court.
Circular No. 7 of this Court, dated March 24, 1988, cannot thus be invoked, as
the petitioner does, as authority for the dismissal of the actions at bar. That circular,
avowedly inspired by the doctrine laid down in Manchester Development
Corporation v. Court of appeals, 149 SCRA 562 (May 7, 1987), has but limited
application to said actions, as shall presently be discussed. Moreover, the rules
therein laid down have since been clarified and amplified by the Court's subsequent
decision in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion, et al., G.R. Nos. 79937-38,
February 13, 1989.
Circular No. 7 was aimed at the practice of certain parties who omit from the
prayer of their complaints "any specification of the amount of damages," the
omission being "clearly intended for no other purposes than to evade the payment
of the correct filing fees if not to mislead the docket clerk, in the assessment of the
filing fee.


Ayala Corp. v. Hon Madayag of RTC of NCR

FACTS:
Private respondents filed against petitioners an action for specific
performance with damages in the Regional Trial Court of Makati. Petitioners filed a
motion to dismiss on the ground that the lower court has not acquired jurisdiction
over the case as private respondents failed to pay the prescribed docket fee and to
specify the amount of exemplary damages both in the body and prayer of the
amended and supplemental complaint. The trial court denied the motion in an order
dated April 5, 1989. A motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners was likewise
denied in an order dated May 18, 1989. Hence this petition.
The main thrust of the petition is that private respondent paid only the total
amount of P l,616.00 as docket fees instead of the amount of P13,061.35 based on
the assessed value of the real properties involved as evidenced by its tax
declaration. Further, petitioners contend that private respondents failed to specify
the amount of exemplary damages sought both in the body and the prayer of the
amended and supplemental complaint.
However, the contention of petitioners is that since the action concerns real
estate, the assessed value thereof should be considered in computing the fees
pursuant to Section 5, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court. Such rule cannot apply to this
case which is an action for specific performance with damages although it is in
relation to a transaction involving real estate. Pursuant to Manchester, the amount
of the docket fees to be paid should be computed on the basis of the amount of
damages stated in the complaint.
Petitioners also allege that because of the failure of the private respondents
to state the amount of exemplary damages being sought, the complaint must
nevertheless be dismissed in accordance to Manchester.
The trial court denied the motion stating that the determination of the
exemplary damages is within the sound discretion of the court and that it would be
unwarrantedly presumptuous on the part of the private respondents to fix the
amount of exemplary damages being prayed for. The trial court cited the
subsequent case of Sun Insurance vs. Judge Asuncion.

ISSUE:
WON the RTC has jurisdiction.

HELD:
Apparently, the trial court misinterpreted paragraph 3 of the above ruling of
this Court wherein it is stated that "where the judgment awards a claim not
specified in the pleading, or if specified, the same has been left for the determination
of the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment"
by considering it to mean that where in the body and prayer of the complaint there
is a prayer, say for exemplary or corrective damages, the amount of which is left to
the discretion of the Court, there is no need to specify the amount being sought, and
that any award thereafter shall constitute a lien on the judgment.
In the latest case Tacay vs. Regional Trial Court of Tagum, 3 this Court had occasion
to make the clarification that the phrase "awards of claims not specified in the
pleading" refers only to "damages arising after the filing of the complaint or similar
pleading . . . as to which the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the
judgment." The amount of any claim for damages, therefore, arising on or before the
filing of the complaint or any pleading, should be specified. While it is true that the
determination of certain damages as exemplary or corrective damages is left to the
sound discretion of the court, it is the duty of the parties claiming such damages to
specify the amount sought on the basis of which the court may make a proper
determination, and for the proper assessment of the appropriate docket fees. The
exception contemplated as to claims not specified or to claims although specified are
left for determination of the court is limited only to any damages that may arise
after the filing of the complaint or similar pleading for then it will not be possible for
the claimant to specify nor speculate as to the amount thereof.
The amended and supplemental complaint in the present case, therefore, suffers
from the material defect in failing to state the amount of exemplary damages prayed
for.
As ruled in Tacay the trial court may either order said claim to be expunged
from the record as it did not acquire jurisdiction over the same or on motion, it may
allow, within a reasonable time, the amendment of the amended and supplemental
complaint so as to state the precise amount of the exemplary damages sought and
require the payment of the requisite fees therefor within the relevant prescriptive
period.

Philippine First Insurance Co., Inc. v. Pyramid Logisitcs and Trucking Corp.

FACTS:
On November 8, 2000, the delivery van of Pyramid bearing license plate
number PHL-545 which was loaded with goods belonging to California
Manufacturing Corporation (CMC) valued at P907,149.07 left the CMC Bicutan
Warehouse but the van, together with the goods, failed to reach its destination and
its driver and helper were nowhere to be found, to its damage and prejudice; that it
filed a criminal complaint against the driver and the helper for qualified theft, and a
claim with herein petitioners as co-insurers of the lost goods but, in violation of
petitioners undertaking under the insurance policies, they refused without just and
valid reasons to compensate it for the loss; and that as a direct consequence of
petitioners failure, despite repeated demands, to comply with their respective
undertakings under the Insurance Policies by compensating for the value of the lost
goods, it suffered damages and was constrained to engage the services of counsel to
enforce and protect its right to recover compensation under said policies, for which
services it obligated itself to pay the sum equivalent to twenty-five (25%) of any
amount recovered as and for attorneys fees and legal expenses. Pyramid was
assessed P610 docket fee, apparently on the basis of the amount of P50,000
specified in the prayer representing attorneys fees, which it duly paid.

Petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of, inter alia, lack of
jurisdiction, Pyramid not having paid the docket fees in full arguing that in the
prayer in the Complaint, plaintiff deliberately omitted to specify what these
damages are in order to evade the payment of the docket fees. To the Motion to
Dismiss Pyramid filed its Opposition, alleging that if there was a mistake in the
assessment of the docket fees, the trial court was not precluded from acquiring
jurisdiction over the complaint as it has the authority to direct the mistaken party
to complete the docket fees in the course of the proceedings.
RTC Makati: dismissed, saying that the case being for specific performance, it
is not dismissible on that ground but unless proper docket fees are paid, the RTC can
only grant what was prayed for in the Complaint
CA: partially granted, ordering Pyramid to pay the correct docket fees on the
basis of the losses alleged in the body of the complaint, plus the attorneys fees
mentioned in the prayer, within a reasonable time which should not go beyond the
applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
Petitioners' Argument: They invoke the doctrine in Manchester Development
Corporation v. Court of Appeals that a pleading which does not specify in the prayer
the amount sought shall not be admitted or shall otherwise be expunged, and that
the court acquires jurisdiction only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fee.
Respondent's Argument: They invoke the application of Sun Insurance Office,
Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion and subsequent rulings relaxing the Manchester ruling by
allowing payment of the docket fee within a reasonable time, in no case beyond the
applicable prescriptive or reglementary period, where the filing of the initiatory
pleading is not accompanied by the payment of the prescribed docket fee.

ISSUE:
whether respondent, Pyramid Logistics and Trucking Corporation (Pyramid), which
filed on November 7, 2001 a complaint, denominated as one for specific
performance and damages, against petitioners Philippine First Insurance Company,
Inc. (Philippine First) and Paramount General Insurance Corporation (Paramount)
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, docketed as Civil Case No. 01-1609,
paid the correct docket fee
if in the negative, whether the complaint should be dismissed or Pyramid can still be
ordered to pay the fee.

HELD:
Yes, Pyramid filed the correct docket fee. **(Di ako sure dito, pasensya na. :()
In the case of Tacay vs. Regional Trial Court of Tagum, Davao del Norte, the
SC clarified the effect of the Sun
Insurance ruling on the Manchester ruling as follows:
The requirement in Circular No. 7 that complaints, petitions, answers, and similar
pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the
body of the pleading but also in the prayer, has not been
altered. What has been revised is the rule that subsequent amendment of the
complaint or similar pleading wil not thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much
less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount sought in the amended
pleading, the trial court now being authorized to allow payment of the fee within a
reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive period or
reglementary period. Moreover, a new rule has been added, governing the awards of
claims not specified in the pleading i.e., damages arising after the filing of the
complaint or similar pleading as to which the additional filing fee therefore shall
constitute a lien on the judgment.
In the case at bar, Pyramid failed to specify in its prayer the amount of
claims/damages it was seeking both in the original and amended complaint. It
reasoned out that it was not aware of the extent of the liability of the insurance
companies under their respective policies. It left the matter of liability to the trial
courts determination.
Even assuming that the amounts are yet to be determined, the rule in
Manchester, as modified by Sun Insurance, still applies. In the case of Ayala
Corporation vs. Madayag, the SC pronounced the following: While it is true that the
determination of certain damages x x x is left to the sound discretion of the court, it
is the duty of the parties claiming such damages to specify the amount sought on the
basis of which the court may make a proper determination, and for the proper
assessment of the appropriate docket fees. The exception contemplated as to claims
not specified or to claims although specified are left for determination of the court is
limited only to any damages that may arise after the filing of the complaint or
similar pleading for then it will not be possible for the claimant to specify nor
speculate as to the amount thereof.

Lapitan v. Scandia

FACTS:
On April 17, 1963 he purchased from Scandia, Inc., through its sub-dealer in
Cebu City, General Engineering Co., one ABC Diesel Engine, of 16 horse power, for
P3,735.00, paid in cash; that he bought the engine for running a rice and corn mill at
Ormoc City, Leyte; that defendants had warranted and assured him that all spare
parts for said engine are kept in stock in their stores, enabling him to avoid loss due
to long periods of waiting, and that defendants would replace any part of the engine
that might break within twelve months after delivery. Plaintiff further charged that
on June 28, 1963, the cam rocker arm of the engine broke due to faulty material and
workmanship and it stopped functioning; that the sellers were unable to send a
replacement until August 29, 1963; that barely six days after replacement the new
part broke again due to faulty casting and poor material, so he (Lapitan) notified the
sellers and demanded rescission of the contract of sale; that he sought return of the
price and damages but defendants did not pay. He, therefore, prayed (1) for
rescission of the contract; (2) reimbursement of the price; (3) recovery of P4,000.00
actual damages plus P1,000.00 attorney's fees; (4) recovery of such moral and
exemplary damages as the court deems just and equitable; and (5) costs and other
proper relief.
After filing answers disclaiming liability, Scandia, Inc., moved to dismiss the
complaint on the ground that the total amount claimed was only P8,735.00, and was
within the exclusive jurisdiction of the municipal court, under Republic Act 3828,
amending the Judiciary Act by increasing the jurisdiction of municipal courts to civil
cases involving P10,000.00 or less.
CFI Cebu: Dismissed for lack of jurisdiction

ISSUE:
WON the subject matter of actions for rescission of contracts are capable of
pecuniary estimation

HELD:
No. In determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is
not capable of pecuniary estimation, this Court has adopted the criterion of first
ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for
the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary
estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts of
first instance would depend on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic
issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of money, or where the
money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought,
like in suits to have the defendant perform his part of the contract (specific
performance) and in actions for support, or for annulment of a judgment or to
foreclose a mortgage, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the
subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable
exclusively by courts of first instance. The rationale of the rule is plainly that the
second class cases, besides the determination of damages, demand an inquiry into
other factors which the law has deemed to be more within the competence of courts
of first instance, which were the lowest courts of record at the time that the first
organic laws of the Judiciary were enacted allocating jurisdiction.
Actions for specific performance of contracts have been expressly
pronounced to be exclusively cognizable by courts of first instance And no
cogent reason appears, and none is here advanced by the parties, why an action for
rescission (or resolution) should be differently treated, a rescission being a
counterpart, so to speak, of "specific performance". In both cases, the court would
certainly have to undertake an investigation into facts that would justify one act or
the other. No award for damages may be had in an action for rescission without first
conducting an inquiry into matters which would justify the setting aside of a
contract, in the same manner that courts of first instance would have to make
findings of fact and law in actions not capable of pecuniary estimation. It is,
therefore, difficult to see why a prayer for damages in an action for rescission
should be taken as the basis for concluding such action as one capable of pecuniary
estimation a prayer which must be included in the main action if plaintiff is to be
compensated for what he may have suffered as a result of the breach committed by
defendant, and not later on precluded from recovering damages by the rule against
splitting a cause of action and discouraging multiplicity of suits.
Of course, where the money claim is prayed for as an alternative relief to
specific performance, an equivalence is implied that permits the jurisdiction to be
allocated by the amount of the money claim (Cruz vs. Tan, 87 Phil. 627). But no such
equivalence can be deduced in the case at bar, where the money award can be
considered only if the rescission is first granted.
The SC therefore, rules that the subject matter of actions for rescission of
contracts are not capable of pecuniary estimation, and that the court below erred in
declining to entertain appellant's action for lack of jurisdiction.

Sps. De Leon v. CA

FACTS:
On August 8, 1991, private respondents filed in the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City a complaint for annulment or rescission of a contract of sale of two (2)
parcels of land against petitioners, praying for the following reliefs:
Ordering the nullification or rescission of the Contract of Conditional Sale
(Supplementary Agreement) for having violated the rights of plaintiffs (private
respondents) guaranteed to them under Article 886 of the Civil Code and/or
violation of the terms and conditions of the said contract.
Declaring void ab initio the Deed of Absolute Sale for being absolutely
simulated; and
Ordering defendants (petitioners) to pay plaintiffs (private respondents) attorneys
fees in the amount of P100,000.00.
Upon the filing of the complaint, the clerk of court required private
respondents to pay docket and legal fees in the total amount of P610.00, broken
down as follows:
P450.00 - Docket fee for the Judicial Development Fund under Official Receipt No.
1877773
150.00 - Docket fee for the General Fund under Official Receipt No. 6834215
10.00 - for the Legal Research Fund under Official Receipt No. 6834450
Petitioners moved for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground that the
trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by reason of private
respondents nonpayment of the correct amount of docket fees. Petitioners
contended that in addition to the fees already paid based on the claim for
P100,000.00 for attorneys fees, private respondents should have paid docket fees in
the amount of P21,640.00, based on the alleged value of the two (2) parcels of land
subject matter of the contract of sale sought to be annulled.
RTC: denied the petitioners' motion to dismiss but required private
respondents to pay the amount of docket fees based on the estimated value of the
parcels of land in litigation as stated in the complaint.
CA: reversed and held that an action for rescission or annulment of contract
is not susceptible of pecuniary estimation and, therefore, the docket fees should not
be based on the value of the real property, subject matter of the contract sought to
be annulled or rescinded.

ISSUE:
Whether in assessing the docket fees to be paid for the filing of an action for
annulment or rescission of a contract of sale, the value of the real property, subject
matter of the contract, should be used as basis, or whether the action should be
considered as one which is not capable of pecuniary estimation and therefore the
fee charged should be a flat rate of P400.00 as provided in Rule 141, 7(b)(1) of the
Rules of Court.

HELD:
In determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not
capable of pecuniary estimation, this Court has adopted the criterion of first
ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. If it is primarily
for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary
estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts of
first instance would depend on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic
issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of money, or where the
money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought,
like in suits to have the defendant perform his part of the contract (specific
performance) and in actions for support, or for annulment of a judgment or to
foreclose a mortgage, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the
subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable
exclusively by courts of first instance. The rationale of the rule is plainly that the
second class cases, besides the determination of damages, demand an inquiry into
other factors which the law has deemed to be more within the competence of courts
of first instance, which were the lowest courts of record at the time that the first
organic laws of the Judiciary were enacted allocating jurisdiction.
Actions for specific performance of contracts have been expressly
pronounced to be exclusively cognizable by courts of first instance And no cogent
reason appears, and none is here advanced by the parties, why an action for
rescission (or resolution) should be differently treated, a rescission being a
counterpart, so to speak, of specific performance. In both cases, the court would
certainly have to undertake an investigation into facts that would justify one act or
the other. No award for damages may be had in an action for rescission without
first conducting an inquiry into matters which would justify the setting aside of a
contract, in the same manner that courts of first instance would have to make
findings of fact and law in actions not capable of pecuniary estimation expressly
held to be so by this Court, Issues of the same nature may be raised by a party
against whom an action for rescission has been brought, or by the plaintiff himself.
It is, therefore, difficult to see why a prayer for damages in an action for rescission
should be taken as the basis for concluding such action as one capable of pecuniary
estimation a prayer which must be included in the main action if plaintiff is to be
compensated for what he may have suffered as a result of the breach committed by
defendant, and not later on precluded from recovering damages by the rule against
splitting a cause of action and discouraging multiplicity of suits.
Conformably with this discussion of actions where the value of the case
cannot be estimated, the Court in Bautista v. Lim, held that an action for rescission
of contract is one which cannot be estimated and therefore the docket fee for its
filing should be the flat amount of P200.00 as then fixed in the former Rule 141,
5(10).
The SC hold that Judge Dalisay (CA) did not err in considering Civil Case No.
V-144 as basically one for rescission or annulment of contract which is not
susceptible of pecuniary estimation
Consequently, the fee for docketing it is P200, an amount already paid by
plaintiff, now respondent Matilda Lim. (She should pay also the two pesos legal
research fund fee, if she has not paid it, as required in Section 4 of Republic Act No.
3870, the charter of the U.P. Law Center).
Thus, although eventually the result may be the recovery of land, it is the
nature of the action as one for rescission of contract which is controlling

II. CAUSE OF ACTION

Pioneer v. Guadiz

FACTS:
Antonio Todaro filed a complaint against petitioner, Pioneer Concrete
Philippines Inc., Pioneer Philippines Holdings Inc., John McDonald, and Philip
Klepzig. They were served copies of the summons through Cecille De Leon, Exec.
Assistant of Klepzig.
The complaint was based on alleged breach of contract by PIL. Todaro and
petitioner allegedly entered into a contract that for Todaros consulting services for
a business venture of PIL to enter the Philippine Market, that Todaro be also given a
permanent employee status of the new local enterprise of PIL (which is PPHI,
managed by Klepzig). However, after the said consulting services, PIL and PPHI did
not place Todaro as its permanent employee. Hence this complaint.
Petitioner now then argues that the complaint does not state a cause of
action since it was not shown properly in the complaint that there was indeed a
breach of contract.

ISSUE:
WON the complaint of Todaro fails to state a cause of action.

HELD:
The complaint states a cause of action.
The general rule is that the allegations in a complaint are sufficient to
constitute a cause of action against the defendants if, admitting the facts alleged, the
court can render a valid judgment upon the same in accordance with the prayer
therein. A cause of action exists if the following elements are present, namely: (1) a
right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or
is created; (2) an obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to
violate such right; and (3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant violative
of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the defendant
to the plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages.
It should be emphasized that the presence of a cause of action rests on the
sufficiency, and not on the veracity, of the allegations in the complaint. The veracity
of the allegations will have to be examined during the trial on the merits. In
resolving a motion to dismiss based on lack of cause of action, the trial court is
limited to the four corners of the complaint and its annexes. It is not yet necessary
for the trial court to examine the truthfulness of the allegations in the complaint.
Such examination is proper during the trial on the merits.
The allegations in the complaint of Todaro are sufficient to fulfill all three
requisites earlier mentioned.
*no cause of action and lack of cause of action are different
*former can be a ground to dismiss the complaint before hearing, upon
motion or courts initiative
*latter can only be upon motion by the defendant and only during trial and
based on evidence

Galicia v. Manliquez
*case is more on parties to a civil action
FACTS:
A complaint was filed in the RTC of Rombon by herein petitioners, as heirs of
Juan Galicia, alleging that they are the true owners of a parcel of land occupied by
Milagros and her tenants.
The case went to trial but the Milagros et al were declared in default.
Petitioners were allowed to present their evidence ex parte. As a result the
judgment rendered was in favor of petitioners.
However, an answer-in-intervention was filed by the compulsory heirs of a
certain Ines. Among the compulsory heirs were herein respondents, who are also
co-heirs of defendant Milagros. The intervenors contended that the subject parcel of
land forms part of the estate of Ines which is yet to be partitioned among them; an
intestate proceeding is presently pending in the RTC of Odiongan, Romblon, Branch
81; the outcome of this case, would adversely affect their interest; their rights would
be better protected in the said civil case; and their intervention would not unduly
delay, or in any way prejudice the rights of the original parties. Motion to intervene
was denied for having been received after judgment.
An appeal was made by Milagros et al to the RTC judgment to the CA but was
denied. A writ of execution was issued.
A petition for annulment of judgment was filed to the CA. The CA annulled
the decision of the RTC.

ISSUE:
WON the motion to intervene should have been granted.
WON the annulment of the decision of the RTC by the CA was valid.

HELD:
The motion to intervene should have been granted.
It is true that the allowance and disallowance of a motion to intervene is
addressed to the sound discretion of the court hearing the case. However,
jurisprudence is replete with cases wherein the Court ruled that a motion to
intervene may be entertained or allowed even if filed after judgment was rendered
by the trial court, especially in cases where the intervenors are indispensable
parties.
Since it is not disputed that herein respondents are compulsory heirs of Ines
who stand to be affected by the judgment of the trial court, the latter should have
granted their Motion to Intervene and should have admitted their Answer-in-
Intervention.
Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, defines indispensable parties as
parties-in-interest without whom there can be no final determination of an action.
As such, they must be joined either as plaintiffs or as defendants. The general rule
with reference to the making of parties in a civil action requires the joinder of all
necessary parties where possible and the joinder of all indispensable parties under
any and all conditions, their presence being a sine qua non for the exercise of
judicial power.
The absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the
court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but
even as to those present.
Parties are reverted back to the stage where all the defendants have filed
their respective Answers.

III. PARTIES TO A CIVIL ACTION

Sps. De La Cruz v. Joaquin

FACTS:
The case originated from a Complaint for the recovery of possession and
ownership, the cancellation of title, and damages, filed by Pedro Joaquin against
petitioners in the Regional Trial Court of Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija.
Respondent alleged that he had obtained a loan from them in the amount of P9,000
on June 29, 1974, payable after five (5) years; that is, on June 29, 1979. To secure
the payment of the obligation, he supposedly executed a Deed of Sale.
Respondent now then alleges the validity of their Kasunduan for it being an
equitable mortgage. Petitioners contend that it was an accommodation for him to
repurchase the property within 5 years, to which Joaquin failed to do.
RTC ruled in favor of Joaquin on April 1990. Joaquin died on December 24,
1988. CA gave an order for substitution of Joaquin. CA affirmed the decision of the
RTC. An order for substitution was given.

ISSUE:
WON the trial court had lost its jurisdiction upon death of Joaquin.

HELD:
NO. When a party to a pending action dies and the claim is not extinguished,
the Rules of Court require a substitution of the deceased. Mere failure to substitute
for a deceased plaintiff is not a sufficient ground to nullify a trial courts
decision. The alleging party must prove that there was an undeniable violation of
due process.
The rule on the substitution of parties was crafted to protect every partys
right to due process. The estate of the deceased party will continue to be properly
represented in the suit through the duly appointed legal representative. Moreover,
no adjudication can be made against the successor of the deceased if the
fundamental right to a day in court is denied.
The Court has nullified not only trial proceedings conducted without the
appearance of the legal representatives of the deceased, but also the resulting
judgments. In those instances, the courts acquired no jurisdiction over the persons
of the legal representatives or the heirs upon whom no judgment was binding.
The records of the present case contain a Motion for Substitution of Party
Plaintiff dated February 15, 2002, filed before the CA. The prayer states as follows:
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Heirs of the deceased plaintiff-
appellee as represented by his daughter Lourdes dela Cruz be substituted as party-
plaintiff for the said Pedro Joaquin.
It is further prayed that henceforth the undersigned counsel for the heirs of Pedro
Joaquin be furnished with copies of notices, orders, resolutions and other pleadings
at its address below.
Evidently, the heirs of Pedro Joaquin voluntary appeared and participated in
the case. We stress that the appellate court had ordered his legal representatives to
appear and substitute for him. The substitution even on appeal had been ordered
correctly. In all proceedings, the legal representatives must appear to protect the
interests of the deceased. After the rendition of judgment, further proceedings may
be held, such as a motion for reconsideration or a new trial, an appeal, or an
execution.
Considering the foregoing circumstances, the Motion for Substitution may be
deemed to have been granted; and the heirs, to have substituted for the deceased,
Pedro Joaquin. There being no violation of due process, the issue of substitution
cannot be upheld as a ground to nullify the trial courts Decision.

Columbia Pictures v. CA

FACTS:
Columbia Pictures is a foreign company engaged in the creation of
copyrighted films. Respondent Sunshine Video Inc. is a local business in Manila. By
virtue of an anti-piracy campaign, together with petitioners counsel and the NBI
while armed with a search warrant proceeded to respondents place of business.
Various media materials were obtained including some TV sets, laser discs and
video tapes alleged to be infringing the copyrights of petitioner.
Respondent then filed with the CA a motion to lift the search warrant
contending that the master tapes of the allegedly infringed copyrighted films were
not submitted together with the application of the search warrant and therefore
said warrant cannot have been based on a true probable cause. It was first denied by
the CA but on MOR was granted.
Hence this petition to the Court.


ISSUES:
1. WON petitioner herein has legal personality to sue. (CIVPRO issue)
2. WON the ruling in 20
th
Century Fox can be retroactively applied in requiring
a submission of master tapes in procuring a search warrant for alleged
copyright infringement of media.

HELD:
1. It has legal personality to sue. The terminology used by respondents is
erroneous. The term lack of capacity to sue should not be confused with the term
lack of personality to sue. While the former refers to a plaintiffs general disability
to sue, such as on account of minority, insanity, incompetence, lack of juridical
personality or any other general disqualifications of a party, the latter refers to the
fact that the plaintiff is not the real party- in-interest. Correspondingly, the first can
be a ground for a motion to dismiss based on the ground of lack of legal capacity to
sue; whereas the second can be used as a ground for a motion to dismiss based on
the fact that the complaint, on the face thereof, evidently states no cause of action.
What respondents actually mean is that petitioner lacks capacity to sue.
On to the merits, Sec. 133 of the Corporation Code cannot apply. What the
section pertains to is the act of doing business without license that prohibits a
foreign corporation from maintaining a suit or action in Philippine courts or
administrative tribunals. The case at bar is merely a lack of license without doing
business in the Philippines. Petitioner is not actually doing business in the
Philippines.
2. The ruling in 20
th
Century Fox requiring such master tape be submitted
cannot be given retroactive effect. It is consequently clear that a judicial
interpretation becomes a part of the law as of the date that law was originally
passed, subject only to the qualification that when a doctrine of this Court is
overruled and a different view is adopted, and more so when there is a reversal
thereof, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively and should not apply to
parties who relied on the old doctrine and acted in good faith. To hold otherwise
would be to deprive the law of its quality of fairness and justice then, if there is no
recognition of what had transpired prior to such adjudication.

IV. VENUE

Westmont v. Samaniego

FACTS: