You are on page 1of 15

REMEDIAL LAW

by

Justice Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles



RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CASES

The Rules, the first of its kind in the world, took effect on April 29, 2010.

Section 2. Scope. These Rules shall govern the procedure in civil, criminal
and special civil actions before the Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial
Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
Circuit Trial Courts involving enforcement or violations of environmental and
other related laws, rules and regulations.

Scope versus jurisdiction. It must be noted that the Rules remain
consistent with prevailing jurisprudence regarding the doctrine of exhaustion of
administrative remedies and primary jurisdiction.

Laws, rules and regulations. These Rules apply to environmental cases
arising from laws that relate to the conservation, development, preservation,
protection and utilization of the environment and natural resources. These
may include environmental laws and those laws that may contain provisions
that relate to the environment but are not environmental laws per se (e.g. C.A.
No. 141, The Public Land Act; R.A. No. 7160, The Local Government Code of
1990, etc). While this section includes a list of such applicable laws,
it is not meant to be exhaustive.

In addition, since this section covers civil, criminal and special civil
actionsinvolving enforcement or violations of environmental and other related
laws (emphasis added), these Rules may apply in other suits not necessarily
based on environmental laws or laws containing environmental provisions.
Specifically, for example, if a defendant in a civil damages or defamation suit
(the case of which is governed by the regular rules of civil/criminal procedure)
invokes a SLAPP defense (see Rule 6 and 19 infra.), then these Rules shall
apply insofar as the SLAPP defense is concerned.

The courts referred to in this section are those designated as special
courts to try hear, try and decide environmental cases under Administrative
Order No. 23-2008 and those that maybe designated as such thereafter.

Highlights of the Rules include provisions on (1) citizen suits,
(2) consent decree, (3)environmental protection order, (4) writ
of kalikasan, (5) writ of continuing mandamus,(6) strategic lawsuits
against public participation (SLAPP), and (7) the precautionary principle.
The provision on citizen suits liberalizes standing for all cases filed
enforcing environmental laws. Citizen suits have proven critical in forcing
government and its agencies to act on its duty to protect and preserve the
environment. The terminology of the text reflects the doctrine first enunciated
in Oposa v. Factoran (GR No. 101083, July 30, 1993). As a procedural device,
citizen suits permit deferred payment of filing fees until after the judgment.
Section 4. Who may file. Any real party in
interest, including the government and juridical entities
authorized by law, may file a civil action involving the
enforcement or violation of any environmental law (Part II
Civil Procedure, Rule 2 Pleadings and Parties)
Section 5. Citizen suit. Any Filipino citizen in
representation of others, including minors or generations
yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or
obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing of a
citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall
contain a brief description of the cause of action and the
reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to
manifest their interest to intervene in the case within fifteen
(15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the
order once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the
Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said
order.
The use of a consent decree is an innovative way to resolve
environmental cases. It allows for a compromise agreement between two
parties in environmental litigation over issues that would normally be litigated
in court, and other matters that may not necessarily be of issue in court.
Section 4(b) Consent decree refers to a judicially-
approved settlement between concerned parties based on
public interest and public policy to protect and preserve the
environment.
An environmental protection order (EPO) refers to an order issued by
the court directing or enjoining any person or government agency to perform or
desist from performing an act in order to protect, preserve, or rehabilitate the
environment (Section 4 (d), Rule 1 General Provisions) It integrates both
prohibitive and mandatory reliefs to appropriately address the factual
circumstances surrounding the case. This remedial measure can also be
prayed for in the writs of kalikasan and continuing mandamus.
Similar to the writs of habeas corpus, amparo, and habeas data, the
issuance of the writ of kalikasan is immediate in nature. It contains a very
specific set of remedies which may be availed of by a natural or juridical
person, entity authorized by law, peoples organization, non-governmental
organization, or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any
government agency, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a
balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened with violation by an
unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee or private individual or
entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the
life, health, or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. The
petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan can be filed with the Supreme
Court or with any of the stations of the Court of Appeals. Likewise, the
summary process leading to the issuance of the writ of kalikasan dispenses
with extensive litigation; this facilitates the prompt disposition of matters
before the court.
Another innovation is the rule on the writ of
continuing mandamus which integrates the ruling in Concerned Residents of
Manila Bay v. MMDA (GR Nos. 171947-48, December 8, 2008) and the existing
rule on the issuance of the writ of mandamus. Procedurally, its filing before the
courts is similar to the filing of an ordinary writ of mandamus. However, the
issuance of a Temporary Environmental Protection Order is made available as
an auxiliary remedy prior to the issuance of the writ itself.
(c) Continuing mandamus is a writ issued by a court
in an environmental case directing any agency or
instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to
perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment
which shall remain effective until judgment is fully
satisfied.
As a special civil action, the writ of continuing mandamus may be availed
of to compel the performance of an act specifically enjoined by law. It permits
the court to retain jurisdiction after judgment in order to ensure the successful
implementation of the reliefs mandated under the courts decision. For this
purpose, the court may compel the submission of compliance reports from the
respondent government agencies as well as avail of other means to monitor
compliance with its decision.
Its availability as a special civil action likewise complements its role as a
final relief in environmental civil cases and in the writ of kalikasan, where
continuing mandamus may likewise be issued should the facts merit such a
relief.
Both petitions for the issuance of the writs
of kalikasan and mandamus are exempt from the payment of docket fees.
Since legal challenges may be mounted against those who seek to enforce
environmental law or to assert environmental rights, the Rules make available
a formidable defense to these by creating a rule on SLAPP.
(g) Strategic lawsuit against public participation
(SLAPP) refers to an action whether civil, criminal or
administrative, brought against any person, institution or
any government agency or local government unit or its
officials and employees, with the intent to harass, vex, exert
undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that such
person, institution or government agency has taken or may
take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection
of the environment or assertion of environmental rights.
SLAPP. The SLAPP provisions under these Rules are innovations of the
doctrine first introduced by Dr. George W. Pring, as well as doctrines and
practices in other jurisdictions. The main purpose of a SLAPP suit is to
harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse on any
person, including the government from enforcing environmental laws or
protecting or asserting environmental rights.
Another significant aspect of the Rules that derives from the
transboundary and temporal nature of ecological injury is the adoption of
the precautionary principle. In this context, the precautionary principle finds
direct application in the evaluation of evidence in cases before the courts. The
precautionary principle bridges the gap in cases where scientific certainty in
factual findings cannot be achieved. By applying the precautionary principle,
the court may construe a set of facts as warranting either judicial action or
inaction, with the goal of preserving and protecting the environment. Bias is
created in favor of the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and
healthful ecology.
(f) Precautionary principle states that when human activities may lead
to threats of serious and irreversible damage to the environment that is
scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or
diminish that threat.
Precautionary principle. The adoption of the precautionary principle as
part of these Rules, specifically relating to evidence, recognizes that exceptional
cases may require its application. The inclusion of a definition of this principle
is an integral part of Part V, Rule on Evidence (infra.) in environmental cases in
order to ease the burden on the part of ordinary plaintiffs to prove their cause
of action.
Some important provisions on criminal procedure can also be found
under the Rules.
The provision on bail makes available to the accused the privilege of bail
from any court within and outside the jurisdiction of the court which had
issued the warrant of arrest. The immediate availability of bail is intended to
obviate long periods of detention.
One important innovation under the provision on bail is the execution of
an undertaking by the accused and counsel, empowering the judge to enter a
plea of not guilty, in the event the accused fails to appear at the arraignment.
This authorization permits the court to try the case in absentia, thereby
addressing a fundamental concern surrounding the prosecution of criminal
cases in general, where the accused jumps bail and the court is unable to
proceed with the disposition of the case in view of the absence of the accused
and the failure to arraign the latter.
Source: sc.judiciary.gov.ph; SC Unveils Landmark Rule of Procedure for
Environmental Cases by Abigail T. Sze



Judgment on the Pleadings vis--vis Summary Judgment

Where a motion for judgment on the pleadings is filed, the essential
question is whether there are issues generated by the pleadings. In a proper
case for judgment on the pleadings, there is no ostensible issue at all because
of the failure of the defending partys answer to raise an issue. The answer
would fail to tender an issue, of course, if it does not deny the material
allegations in the complaint or admits said material allegations of the adverse
partys pleadings by confessing the truthfulness thereof and/or omitting to deal
with them at all. If an answer does in fact specifically deny the material
averments of the complaint and/or asserts affirmative defenses (allegations of
new matter which, while admitting the material allegations of the complaint
expressly or impliedly, would nevertheless prevent or bar recovery by the
plaintiff), a judgment on the pleadings would naturally be improper.
In the case of a summary judgment, issues apparently exist i.e., facts
are asserted in the complaint regarding which there is as yet no admission,
disavowal or qualification; or specific denials or affirmative defenses are in
truth set out in the answer but the issues thus arising from the pleadings
are sham, fictitious or not genuine, as shown by affidavits, depositions, or
admissions.

Summary judgment is a procedural device resorted to in order to avoid
long drawn out litigations and useless delays where the pleadings on file show
that there are no genuine issues of fact to be tried. A genuine issue is such
issue of fact which requires the presentation of evidence as distinguished from
a sham, fictitious, contrived or false claim. There can be no summary judgment
where questions of fact are in issue or where material allegations of the
pleadings are in dispute. A party who moves for summary judgment has the
burden of demonstrating clearly the absence of any genuine issue of fact, or
that the issue posed in the complaint is so patently unsubstantial as not to
constitute a genuine issue for trial, and any doubt as to the existence of such
an issue is resolved against the movant (First Leverage and Services Group,
Inc. v. Solid Builders, Inc., G.R. No. 155680, July 2, 2012).

Verification

Verification of a pleading is only a formal, not a jurisdictional,
requirement. The purpose of requiring a verification is to secure an assurance
that the allegations in the petition are true and correct, not merely speculative.
This requirement is simply a condition affecting the form of pleadings, and
noncompliance therewith does not necessarily render the pleading fatally
defective (Cong. Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez v. Codilla, Jr., G.R. No. 195191,
March 20, 2012).

At the outset, we note that the Petition has a procedural flaw that should
merit its outright dismissal. Through the Verification and Certification attached
to the instant Petition, petitioner states that the contents of the Petition are
true and correct of [his] own personal knowledge and belief and based on
authentic records and/or documents. Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court
provides that a pleading required to be verified which contains a verification
based on information and belief or knowledge, information and belief, shall
be treated as an unsigned pleading. A pleading, therefore, in which the
verification is based merely on the partys knowledge and belief as in the
instant Petition produces no legal effect, subject to the discretion of the court
to allow the deficiency to be remedied (Vicencio v. Villar, G.R. No. 182969,
July 3, 2012).

Certificate of Non-Forum Shopping

The filing of a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory so much so
that non-compliance could only be tolerated by special circumstances and
compelling reasons. This Court has held that when there are several petitioners, all
of them must execute and sign the certification against forum shopping; otherwise,
those who did not sign will be dropped as parties to the case. True, we held that in
some cases, execution by only one of the petitioners on behalf of the other petitioners
constitutes substantial compliance with the rule on the filing of a certificate of non-
forum shopping on the ground of common interest or common cause of action or
defense (Pigcaulan v. Security and Credit Investigation, Inc., G.R. No. 173648,
January 16, 2012).


For the guidance of the bench and bar, the Supreme Court restates in
capsule form the jurisprudential pronouncements respecting non-compliance
with the requirements on, or submission of defective, verification and
certification against forum shopping:

1) A distinction must be made between non-compliance
with the requirement on or submission of defective verification,
and non-compliance with the requirement on or submission of
defective certification against forum shopping.

2) As to verification, non-compliance therewith or a
defect therein does not necessarily render the pleading fatally
defective. The Court may order its submission or correction or act
on the pleading if the attending circumstances are such that strict
compliance with the Rule may be dispensed with in order that the
ends of justice may be served thereby.

3) Verification is deemed substantially complied with
when one who has ample knowledge to swear to the truth of the
allegations in the complaint or petition signs the verification, and
when matters alleged in the petition have been made in good faith
or are true and correct.

4) As to certification against forum shopping, non-
compliance therewith or a defect therein, unlike in verification, is
generally not curable by its subsequent submission or correction
thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of
substantial compliance or presence of special circumstances or
compelling reasons.

5) The certification against forum shopping must be
signed by all the plaintiffs or petitioners in a case; otherwise, those
who did not sign will be dropped as parties to the case. Under
reasonable or justifiable circumstances, however, as when all the
plaintiffs or petitioners share a common interest and invoke a
common cause of action or defense, the signature of only one of
them in the certification against forum shopping substantially
complies with the Rule.

6) Finally, the certification against forum shopping must
be executed by the party-pleader, not by his counsel. If, however,
for reasonable or justifiable reasons, the party-pleader is unable to
sign, he must execute a Special Power of Attorney designating his
counsel of record to sign on his behalf (Nellie Vda. De Formoso v.
Philippine National Bank, G.R. No. 154704, June 1, 2011).

Only Questions of Law in Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45;
Exceptions

In petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45, only questions of law
may be raised by the parties and passed upon by the Supreme Court. An
inquiry into the veracity of the factual findings and conclusions of the CA is not
the function of the Supreme Court, for said Court is not a trier of facts. Neither
is it its function to reexamine and weigh anew the respective evidence of the
parties (Far East Bank and Trust Company v. Tentmakers Group, Inc., G.R.
No. 171050, July 4, 2012).
As a rule, only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. In many instances, however, the Supreme
Court has laid down exceptions to this general rule, as follows:

(1) When the factual findings of the Court of Appeals and the trial
court are contradictory;
(2) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on
speculation, surmises or conjectures;
(3) When the inference made by the Court of Appeals from its
findings of fact is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
(4) When there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of
facts;
(5) When the appellate court, in making its findings, went beyond
the issues of the case, and such findings are contrary to the
admissions of both appellant and appellee;
(6) When the judgment of the Court of Appeals is premised on
misapprehension of facts;
(7) When the Court of Appeals failed to notice certain relevant facts
which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion;
(8) When the findings of fact are themselves conflicting;
(9) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of the
specific evidence on which they are based; and
(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on
the absence of evidence but such findings are contradicted by the
evidence on record (Treas v. People, G.R. No. 195002,
January 25, 2012).
As a general rule, the remedy of appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court contemplates only questions of law and not issues of fact. This
rule, however, is inapplicable in cases x x x where the factual findings
complained of are absolutely devoid of support in the records or the assailed
judgment of the appellate court is based on a misapprehension of facts.
Another well-recognized exception to the general rule is when the factual
findings of the administrative agency and the Court of Appeals are
contradictory (Fontana Resort & Country Club, Inc. v. Spouses Tan, G.R.
No. 154670, January 30, 2012).



Preponderance of Evidence

Preponderance of evidence is [defined as] the weight, credit, and value of
the aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be
synonymous with the term greater weight of the evidence or greater weight of
the credible evidence. It is evidence which is more convincing to the court as
worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto.

Even when a respondent does not present evidence, a complainant in a
civil case is nevertheless burdened to substantiate his or her claims by
preponderance of evidence before a court may rule on the reliefs prayed for by
the latter. Settled is the principle that parties must rely on the strength of
their own evidence, not upon the weakness of the defense offered by their
opponent (Lim v. Mindanao Wines and Liquor Galleria, G.R. No. 175851,
July 4, 2012).

Certiorari under Rule 65

Settled is the rule that the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court is available to an aggrieved party only when there is no
appeal, nor any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of
law. Otherwise, the petition will not prosper even if the alleged ground is grave
abuse of discretion (Bethel Realty and Development Corporation v. HLURB,
G.R. No. 184482, July 4, 2012).

Principle of Immutability of Judgment
This Court has held time and again that a final and executory judgment,
no matter how erroneous, cannot be changed, even by the Supreme Court.
Nothing is more settled in law than that once a judgment attains finality, it
thereby becomes immutable and unalterable. It may no longer be modified in
any respect, even if such modification is meant to correct what is perceived to
be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law, and regardless of whether the
modification is attempted to be made by the court rendering it or by the highest
court of the land (Metropolitan Cebu Water District v. Mactan Rock
Industries, Inc., G.R.No. 172438, July 4, 2012).

Litis Pendentia

Litis pendentia is predicated on the principle that a party should not be allowed
to vex another more than once regarding the same subject matter and for the same
cause of action. It is founded on the public policy that the same subject matter
should not be the subject of controversy in courts more than once, in order that
possible conflicting judgments may be avoided for the sake of the stability of the rights
and status of persons, and also to avoid the costs and expenses incident to numerous
suits.
With the two petitions then pending before the CA, all the elements of litis
pendentia were present, that is, identity of the parties in the two actions, substantial
identity in the causes of action and in the reliefs sought by the parties, and identity
between the two actions such that any judgment that may be rendered in one case,
regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other.
To determine whether there is identity of the rights asserted and reliefs prayed
for, grounded on the same facts and bases, the following tests may be utilized: (1)
whether the same evidence would support and sustain both the first and the second
causes of action, also known as the same evidence test; or (2) whether the defenses
in one case may be used to substantiate the complaint in the other. Also fundamental
is the test of determining whether the cause of action in the second case existed at the
time of the filing of the first case (Metropolitan Cebu Water District v. Mactan
Rock Industries, Inc., G.R.No. 172438, July 4, 2012). `

Void Judgment
A judgment is null and void when the court which rendered it had no
power to grant the relief or no jurisdiction over the subject matter or over the
parties or both. In other words, a court, which does not have the power to
decide a case or that has no jurisdiction over the subject matter or the parties,
will issue a void judgment or a coram non judice (Quiao v. Quiao, G.R. No.
176556, July 4, 2012).
Fresh Period Rule
In Neypes v. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court clarified that
to standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford litigants
fair opportunity to appeal their cases, we held that it would be practical to
allow a fresh period of 15 days within which to file the notice of appeal in the
RTC, counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a new trial or
motion for reconsideration.

In Neypes, the Supreme Court explained that the "fresh period rule" shall
also apply to Rule 40 governing appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the
RTCs; Rule 42 on petitions for review from the RTCs to the Court of Appeals
(CA); Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-judicial agencies to the CA and Rule 45
governing appeals by certiorari to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also
said, The new rule aims to regiment or make the appeal period uniform, to be
counted from receipt of the order denying the motion for new trial, motion for
reconsideration (whether full or partial) or any final order or resolution. In
other words, a party litigant may file his notice of appeal within a fresh 15-day
period from his receipt of the trial court's decision or final order denying his
motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. Failure to avail of the fresh
15-day period from the denial of the motion for reconsideration makes the
decision or final order in question final and executory (Quiao v. Quiao, G.R.
No. 176556, July 4, 2012).

Fresh Period Rule also applies to Appeals in Criminal Cases

In Neypes, the Supreme Court modified the rule in civil cases on the
counting of the 15-day period within which to appeal. The Court categorically
set a fresh period of 15 days from a denial of a motion for reconsideration
within which to appeal, thus:


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

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

Henceforth, this "fresh period rule" shall also apply to Rule 40
governing appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional
Trial Courts; Rule 42 on petitions for review from the Regional Trial
Courts to the Court of Appeals; Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-
judicial agencies to the Court of Appeals and Rule 45 governing
appeals by certiorari to the Supreme Court. The new rule aims to
regiment or make the appeal period uniform, to be counted from receipt
of the order denying the motion for new trial, motion for reconsideration
(whether full or partial) or any final order or resolution.

The Supreme Court also reiterated its ruling that it is the denial of the
motion for reconsideration that constituted the final order which finally
disposed of the issues involved in the case.

The raison dtre for the fresh period rule is to standardize the appeal
period provided in the Rules and do away with the confusion as to when the
15-day appeal period should be counted. Thus, the 15-day period to appeal is
no longer interrupted by the filing of a motion for new trial or motion for
reconsideration; litigants today need not concern themselves with counting the
balance of the 15-day period to appeal since the 15-day period is now counted
from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for new trial or motion for
reconsideration or any final order or resolution.

While Neypes involved the period to appeal in civil cases, the
Courts pronouncement of a fresh period to appeal should equally apply
to the period for appeal in criminal cases under Section 6 of Rule 122 of
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, for the following reasons:

First, BP 129, as amended, the substantive law on which the Rules of
Court is based, makes no distinction between the periods to appeal in a civil
case and in a criminal case. Section 39 of BP 129 categorically states that [t]he
period for appeal from final orders, resolutions, awards, judgments, or decisions
of any court in all cases shall be fifteen (15) days counted from the notice of the
final order, resolution, award, judgment, or decision appealed from. Ubi lex non
distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos.When the law makes no distinction, we
(this Court) also ought not to recognize any distinction.
[17]


Second, the provisions of Section 3 of Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure and Section 6 of Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, though differently worded, mean exactly the same. There is no
substantial difference between the two provisions insofar as legal results are
concerned the appeal period stops running upon the filing of a motion for
new trial or reconsideration and starts to run again upon receipt of the order
denying said motion for new trial or reconsideration. It was this situation
that Neypes addressed in civil cases. No reason exists why this situation in
criminal cases cannot be similarly addressed.

Third, while the Court did not consider in Neypes the ordinary appeal
period in criminal cases under Section 6, Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure since it involved a purely civil case, it did include Rule 42
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure on petitions for review from the RTCs to
the Court of Appeals (CA), and Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
governing appeals by certiorari to this Court, both of which also apply to
appeals in criminal cases, as provided by Section 3 of Rule 122 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure, thus:

SEC. 3. How appeal taken. x x x x

(b) The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by
the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction
shall be by petition for review under Rule 42.

x x x x

Except as provided in the last paragraph of section 13, Rule
124, all other appeals to the Supreme Court shall be by petition for
review on certiorari under Rule 45.

Clearly, if the modes of appeal to the CA (in cases where the RTC
exercised its appellate jurisdiction) and to this Court in civil and criminal cases
are the same, no cogent reason exists why the periods to appeal from the RTC
(in the exercise of its original jurisdiction) to the CA in civil and criminal cases
under Section 3 of Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and Section 6
of Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure should be treated
differently (Yu v. Hon. Rosa Samson-Tatad, G.R. No. 170979, February 9,
2011).
Res Judicata
A decision in an ejectment case is not res judicata in an annulment of
title case and vice-versa given the provisional and inconclusive nature of the
determination of the issue of ownership in the former (Spouses De Mesa v.
Spouses Acero, G.R. No. 185064, January 16, 2012; Malabanan v. Rural
Bank of Cabuyao, Inc., G.R. No. 163495, May 8, 2009).


Appeal
An appeal throws the entire case open to review, and that the Court has
the authority to review matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by
the parties, if their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just resolution of
the case (Carvajal v. Luzon Development Bank, G.R. No. 186169, August 1,
2012).

Interlocutory Order; Remedy
An interlocutory order is one that does not finally dispose of the case,
and does not end the court's task of adjudicating the parties contentions and
determining their rights and liabilities as regards each other, but obviously
indicates that other things remain to be done.

Conformably with the provisions of Section 1, Rule 41 of the Revised
Rules of Court above-quoted, the remedy from such interlocutory order is
Certiorari under Rule 65 (BPI v. Lee, G.R. 190144, August 1, 2012).

Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65

The power of the Court of Appeals to review NLRC decisions via Rule 65
or Petition for Certiorari has been settled as early as in our decision in St.
Martin Funeral Home v. National Labor Relations Commission. This Court held
that the proper vehicle for such review was a Special Civil Action for Certiorari
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and that this action should be filed in the
Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine of the hierarchy of courts.

Moreover, it is already settled that under Section 9 of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7902[10] (An Act Expanding the
Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals, amending for the purpose of Section Nine
of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 as amended, known as the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980), the Court of Appeals pursuant to the exercise of
its original jurisdiction over Petitions for Certiorari is specifically given the
power to pass upon the evidence, if and when necessary, to resolve factual
issues (PhilAsia Shipping Agency Corporation v. Tomacruz, G.R. No.
181180, August 15, 2012).

Jurisdiction over the subject matter

Whether a court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of a particular
action is determined by the plaintiffs allegations in the complaint and the
principal relief he seeks in the light of the law that apportions the jurisdiction
of courts (Heirs of Generoso Sebe, G.R. No. 174497, October 12, 2009).

Jurisdiction is conferred by law

There is no rule in procedural law as basic as the precept that
jurisdiction is conferred by law, and any judgment, order or resolution issued
without it is void and cannot be given any effect. This rule applies even if the
issue on jurisdiction was raised for the first time on appeal or even after final
judgment (Magno v. People, G.R. No. 171542, April 6, 2011).
In administrative cases involving the concurrent jurisdiction of two or
more disciplining authorities, the body in which the complaint is filed first, and
which opts to take cognizance of the case, acquires jurisdiction to the exclusion
of other tribunals exercising concurrent jurisdiction (Office of the
Ombudsman v. Rodriguez, G.R. No. 172700, July 23, 2010).

Jurisdiction over the defendant is acquired either upon a valid service of
summons or the defendants voluntary appearance in court. When the
defendant does not voluntarily submit to the courts jurisdiction or when there
is no valid service of summons, any judgment of the court which has no
jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is null and void. In an action
strictly in personam, personal service on the defendant is the preferred mode of
service, that is, by handing a copy of the summons to the defendant in
person. If defendant, for excusable reasons, cannot be served with the
summons within a reasonable period, then substituted service can be resorted
to. While substituted service of summons is permitted, it is extraordinary in
character and in derogation of the usual method of service. Hence, it must
faithfully and strictly comply with the prescribed requirements and
circumstances authorized by the rules. Indeed, compliance with the rules
regarding the service of summons is as much important as the issue of due
process as of jurisdiction (Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 130974,
August 16, 2006).

The general rule is that the jurisdiction of a court may be
questioned at any stage of the proceedings. Lack of jurisdiction is one of
those excepted grounds where the court may dismiss a claim or a case at any
time when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that any of
those grounds exists, even if they were not raised in the answer or in a motion
to dismiss. 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.

However, estoppel sets in when a party participates in all stages of a
case before challenging the jurisdiction of the lower court. One cannot
belatedly reject or repudiate its decision after voluntarily submitting to its
jurisdiction, just to secure affirmative relief against one's opponent or after
failing to obtain such relief. The Court has, time and again, frowned upon the
undesirable practice of a party submitting a case for decision and then
accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of
jurisdiction when adverse (Bernardo v. Heirs of Eusebio Villegas, G.R. No.
183357, March 15, 2010)
It is hornbook doctrine that jurisdiction to try a criminal action is
determined by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action and
not during the arraignment of the accused (Palana v. People, G.R. No.
149995, September 28, 2007).

Venue
The general rule on the venue of personal actions, as in the instant case
for damages filed by respondent, is embodied in Section 2, Rule 4 of the Rules of
Court. It provides:

Sec. 2. Venue of personal actions. All other actions may be
commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal
plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal
defendants resides, or in the case of a nonresident defendant,
where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.

The aforequoted rule, however, finds no application where the parties,
before the filing of the action, have validly agreed in writing on an exclusive
venue. But the mere stipulation on the venue of an action is not enough to
preclude parties from bringing a case in other venues. It must be shown that
such stipulation is exclusive. In the absence of qualifying or restrictive words,
such as exclusively and waiving for this purpose any other venue, shall
only preceding the designation of venue, to the exclusion of the other
courts, or words of similar import, the stipulation should be deemed as merely
an agreement on an additional forum, not as limiting venue to the specified
place (Auction in Malinta, Inc. v. Luyaben, G.R. No. 173979, February 12,
2007; Polytrade Corporation v. Blanco, 140 Phil. 604 (1969); Unimasters
Conglomeration, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 415 (1997).

A trial court may not motu proprio dismiss a complaint on the ground of
improper venue, thus:

Rule 9, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states
that defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to
dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. The court may only
dismiss an action motu proprio in case of lack of jurisdiction
over the subject matter, litis pendentia, res judicata and
prescription. Therefore, the trial court in this case erred when
it dismissed the petition motu proprio. It should have waited
for a motion to dismiss or a responsive pleading from
respondent, raising the objection or affirmative defense of
improper venue, before dismissing the petition (Universal
Robina Corporation v. Albert Lim, G.R. No. 154338, October 5,
2007)
Venue of Action and Criminal Jurisdiction

Venue is an essential element of jurisdiction in criminal cases. It
determines not only the place where the criminal action is to be instituted, but
also the court that has the jurisdiction to try and hear the case. The reason for
this rule is two-fold. First, the jurisdiction of trial courts is limited to well-
defined territories such that a trial court can only hear and try cases involving
crimes committed within its territorial jurisdiction. Second, laying the venue in
the locus criminis is grounded on the necessity and justice of having an
accused on trial in the municipality of province where witnesses and other
facilities for his defense are available.

Unlike in civil cases, a finding of improper venue in criminal cases
carries jurisdictional consequences. In determining the venue where the
criminal action is to be instituted and the court which has jurisdiction over it,
Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
provides:

(a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be
instituted and tried in the court or municipality or
territory where the offense was committed or where any of
its essential ingredients occurred. [emphasis ours]

The above provision should be read in light of Section 10, Rule 110 of the
2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states:

Place of commission of the offense. The complaint or information
is sufficient if it can be understood from its allegations that the
offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients
occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless
the particular place where it was committed constitutes an
essential element of the offense charged or is necessary for its
identification.

Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over
criminal cases not only in the court where the offense was committed, but also
where any of its essential ingredients took place. In other words, the venue of
action and of jurisdiction are deemed sufficiently alleged where the
Information states that the offense was committed or some of its essential
ingredients occurred at a place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court
(Union Bank of the Philippines v. People, G.R. No. 192565, February 28,
2012)

Venue in Criminal Cases is Jurisdictional

Venue is jurisdictional in criminal cases. It can neither be waived nor
subjected to stipulation. The right venue must exist as a matter of law. Thus,
for territorial jurisdiction to attach, the criminal action must be instituted and
tried in the proper court of the municipality, city, or province where the offense
was committed or where any of its essential ingredients took place (People v.
Tarnate, G.R. No. 192466, September 7, 2011).


The concept of venue of actions in criminal cases, unlike in civil cases, is
jurisdictional. The place where the crime was committed determines not only
the venue of the action but is an essential element of jurisdiction. It is a
fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in
criminal cases, the offense should have been committed or any one of its
essential ingredients should have taken place within the territorial jurisdiction
of the court. Territorial jurisdiction in criminal cases is the territory where the
court has jurisdiction to take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly
committed therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot take jurisdiction over a
person charged with an offense allegedly committed outside of that
limited territory. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal
case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. And
once it is so shown, the court may validly take cognizance of the
case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial shows that the offense
was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of
jurisdiction (Isip v. People, G.R. No. 170298, June 26, 2007)

A final order is appealable, to accord with the final judgment
rule enunciated in Section 1, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court to the effect that
appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely disposes
of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to
be appealable;
[23]
but the remedy from an interlocutory one is not an appeal
but a special civil action forcertiorari.


Payment of docket fees; failure to pay the docket fees within the
reglementary period allows only discretionary, not automatic, dismissal

The rule is that payment in full of the docket fees within the prescribed
period is mandatory. In Manchester v. Court of Appeals, it was held that a court
acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed
docket fee. The strict application of this rule was, however, relaxed two (2)
years after in the case of Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion, wherein the
Court decreed that where the initiatory pleading is not accompanied by the
payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within a
reasonable period of time, but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or
reglementary period. This ruling was made on the premise that the plaintiff had
demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules by paying the additional
docket fees required. Thus, in the more recent case of United Overseas Bank v.
Ros, the Court explained that where the party does not deliberately intend to
defraud the court in payment of docket fees, and manifests its willingness to
abide by the rules by paying additional docket fees when required by the court,
the liberal doctrine enunciated in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., and not the strict
regulations set in Manchester, will apply. It has been on record that the Court,
in several instances, allowed the relaxation of the rule on non-payment of
docket fees in order to afford the parties the opportunity to fully ventilate their
cases on the merits. In the case of La Salette College v. Pilotin, the Court
stated:

Notwithstanding the mandatory nature of the requirement
of payment of appellate docket fees, we also recognize that its
strict application is qualified by the following:first, failure to pay
those fees within the reglementary period allows only
discretionary, not automatic, dismissal; second, such power
should be used by the court in conjunction with its exercise of
sound discretion in accordance with the tenets of justice and fair
play, as well as with a great deal of circumspection in
consideration of all attendant circumstances (The Heirs of the
Late Ruben Reinoso, Sr. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 116121,
July 18, 2011).
Motion for Extension of Time to file a Pleading

It is a basic rule of remedial law that a motion for extension of time to file
a pleading must be filed before the expiration of the period sought to be
extended. The courts discretion to grant a motion for extension is conditioned
upon such motions timeliness, the passing of which renders the court
powerless to entertain or grant it. Since the motion for extension was filed after
the lapse of the prescribed period, there was no more period to extend
(Posiquit v. People, G.R. No. 193943, January 16, 2012).





Amp/2012