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Marcos-Araneta v.

CA
Facts: Ambassador Roberto Benedicto and his business associates (Benedicto
Group) organized Far east Managers and Investors, Inc. (FEMII) and Universal Equity
Corp. (UEC) pursuant to an agreement whereby Benedicto, as trustor, placed in his
name and in the names of his associates, trustees, the shares of stocks of FEMII and
UEC with the obligation to hold the shares in trust for the benefit of Irene to the
extent of 65%.
Then, Irenes husband, Gregorio Araneta III, demanded the reconveyance of the
shares but Benedicto refused.
Irene filed an action before the RTC of Batac, Ilocos Norte for the conveyance of
shares against Benedicto Group.
Francisca Benedicto and Roberto, father and daughter, filed a motion to dismiss on
ground that the venue was improperly laid and that RTC has no jurisdiction because
it was an intra-corporate dispute over which SEC has jurisdiction.
Francisca and Benedicto presented members of household staff at Mansion Mansion
attesting that Irene did not maintain residence in Batac as she only visited twice
and did not vote in Batac elections and that she was staying in Makati.
RTC dismissed the complaints stating that venue was improperly laid because Irene
did not reside in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
Then, Irene filed a motion to admit an amended complaint where the names of
Rubio, Orland and Jose Reslin appeared as additional parties. They all reside in
Batac and were Irenes new trustees.
RTC admitted the amended complaint on ground that improper venue was cured
because of the inclusion of other plaintiffs who reside in Batac. Francisca and Julita,
Robertos wife, filed a petition for certiorari before the CA. CA granted petition and
declared the amended complaint as void.
Issue: 1. WON amended complaint should be admitted
2. WON RTC has no jurisdiction on ground of improper venue
3. WON Francisca and Julita waived improper venue
Held:
1.
Based on Rule 10, sec. 2, plaintiff may amend his complaint once as a matter of
right, without leave of court, before any responsive pleading is filed or served. A
motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading for purposes of this rule. In other
words, the trial courts duty to admit the amended complaint was purely ministerial.
In fact, respondent should not have filed a motion to admit her amended complaint.
RTC did not err in admitting Irenes amended complaint, Julita and Francisca
not having yet answered the original complaints when the amended
complaint was filed. At that precise moment, Irene, by force of said Sec. 2 of
Rule 10, had, as a matter of right, the option of amending her complaints. As
observed by the RTC, Irenes motion to admit amended complaint was not
even necessary.
It may be argued that the original complaints had been dismissed through
the June 29, 2000 RTC order. However, the finality of such dismissal order had
not set in when Irene filed the amended complaint on July 17, 2000, she

having meanwhile seasonably sought reconsideration thereof. Irenes MR was


only resolved on August 25, 2000.

2.
Francisca and Julita claims that venue was improperly laid because the suit is a real
action involving real properties located outside the territorial jurisdiction of Batac
RTC.
The court ruled that the amended complaint is an action in personam, it being a suit
against Francisca and the late Benedicto (now represented by Julita and Francisca),
on the basis of their alleged personal liability to Irene upon an alleged trust.
However, venue is improperly laid based on Rule 3, secs. 2 and 3, and Rule 4, sec,
2.
The real party-in-interest plaintiff is Irene. As self-styled beneficiary of the
disputed trust, she stands to be benefited or entitled to the avails of the
present suit. It is undisputed too that petitioners Daniel Rubio, Orlando G.
Reslin, and Jose G. Reslin, all from Ilocos Norte, were included as co-plaintiffs
in the amended complaint as Irenes new designated trustees. As trustees,
they can only serve as mere representatives of Irene.
Sec. 2 of Rule 4 indicates quite clearly that when there is more than one plaintiff in
a personal action case, the residences of the principal parties should be the basis
for determining proper venue. The word principal has been added in order to
prevent the plaintiff from choosing the residence of a minor plaintiff or defendant as
the venue.
The RTC in Batac declared Irene as not a resident of Batac, Ilocos Norte. Withal, that
court was an improper venue for her conveyance action.
Irenes three co-plaintiffs are all residents of Batac, Ilocos Norte. But it ought
to be stressed in this regard that not one of the three can be considered as
principal party-plaintiffs as they were included only as trustees of Irene, the
principal. As trustees, they may be accorded, by virtue of Sec. 3 of Rule 3, the
right to prosecute a suit, but only on behalf of the beneficiary who must be
included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party-ininterest. Thus, the residences of Irenes co-plaintiffs cannot be made the
basis in determining the venue of the subject suit.
Irene was a resident during the period material of Forbes Park, Makati City.
She was not a resident of Brgy. Lacub, Batac, Ilocos Norte. The fact that Irene
presented a certificate of residence in Batac is immaterial. One can easily
secure a basic residence certificate practically anytime in any Bureau of
Internal Revenue or treasurers office and dictate whatever relevant data one
desires entered.
3.
There is no waiver of improper venue.
The ground of improperly laid venue must be raised seasonably, else it is deemed
waived. Where the defendant failed to either file a motion to dismiss on the ground
of improper venue or include the same as an affirmative defense, he is deemed to
have waived his right to object to improper venue.

In this case, Benedicto and Francisca raised at the earliest time possible,
meaning within the time for but before filing the answer to the complaint
the matter of improper venue. They would thereafter reiterate and pursue
their objection on venue, first, in their answer to the amended complaints
and then in their petition for certiorari before the CA.