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Mercedes Cobb- Perez and Damaso Perez vs Judge Gregorio Lantin 24 SCRA 219 – Legal Ethics
Mercedes Cobb- Perez and Damaso Perez vs Judge Gregorio Lantin
24 SCRA 219 – Legal Ethics – Counsel’s Assertiveness

A civil case was filed by Ricardo Hermoso against Damaso Perez for the latter’s failure to pay a debt of P17k. Hermoso won and a writ of execution was issued in his favor. The sheriff was to conduct a public sale of a property owned by Damaso worth P300k. This was opposed by Damaso as he claimed the amount of said property was more than the amount of the debt. Judge Lantin, issuing judge, found merit on this hence he amended his earlier decision and so he issued a second writ this time directing the sheriff to conduct a public sale on Damaso’s 210 shares of stock approximately worth P17k.

Subsequently, Damaso and his wife filed five more petitions for injunction trying to enjoin the public sale. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court where the SC ruled that the petition of the Perez spouses are without merit; that their numerous petitions for injunction are contemplated for delay. In said decision, the Supreme Court ordered

petitioners to pay the cost of the suit but said cost should be paid by their counsels. The counsels now appeal said decision by the Supreme Court as they claimed that such decision reflected adversely against their professionalism;

that “If there was delay, it was because petitioners’ counsel happened to be more assertive lawyers (which) is not to be condemned.”

. . .

a quality of the

ISSUE: Whether or not the counsels for the Spouses Perez are excused.

HELD: No. A counsel’s assertiveness in espousing with candor and honesty his client’s cause must be encouraged and is to be commended; what is not tolerated is a lawyer’s insistence despite the patent futility of his client’s position, as in the case at bar. It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman to the intricacies and vagaries of the law, on the merit or lack of merit of his case. If he finds that his client’s cause is defenseless, then it is his bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and caprices of his client, and temper his client’s propensity to litigate. A lawyer’s oath to uphold the cause of justice is superior to his duty to his client; its primacy is indisputable.

In Re: Vicente Almacen 31
In Re: Vicente Almacen
31

SCRA 562 – Legal Ethics – A Lawyer’s Right to Criticize the Courts

Atty. Almacen was the counsel of one Virginia Yaptinchay in a civil case. They lost in said civil case but Almacen filed a Motion for Reconsideration. He notified the opposing party of said motion but he failed to indicate the time and place of hearing of said motion. Hence, his motion was denied. He then appealed but the Court of Appeals denied his appeal as it agreed with the trial court with regard to the motion for reconsideration. Eventually, Almacen filed an appeal on certiorari before the Supreme Court which outrightly denied his appeal in a minute resolution.

This earned the ire of Almacen who called such minute resolutions as unconstitutional. He then filed before the Supreme Court a petition to surrender his lawyer’s certificate of title as he claimed that it is useless to continue practicing his profession when members of the high court are men who are calloused to pleas for justice, who ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity. He further alleged that due to the minute resolution, his client was made to pay P120k without knowing the reasons why and that he became “one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy.” He also stated “that justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme Court is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb.”

The Supreme Court did not immediately act on Almacen’s petition as the Court wanted to wait for Almacen to ctually surrender his certificate. Almacen did not surrender his lawyer’s certificate though as he now argues that he chose not to. Almacen then asked that he may be permitted “to give reasons and cause why no disciplinary action should be

taken against him

in an open and public hearing.” He said he preferred this considering that the Supreme Court is

. . . “the complainant, prosecutor and Judge.” Almacen was however unapologetic.

ISSUE: Whether or not Almacen should be disciplined.

HELD: Yes. The Supreme Court first clarified that minute resolutions are needed because the Supreme Court cannot accept every case or write full opinion for every petition they reject otherwise the High Court would be unable to effectively carry out its constitutional duties. The proper role of the Supreme Court is to decide “only those cases which present questions whose resolutions will have immediate importance beyond the particular facts and parties involved.” It should be remembered that a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion; and so there is no need to fully explain the court’s denial. For one thing, the facts and the law are already mentioned in the Court of Appeals’ opinion.

reconsideration which failed to notify the opposing party of the time and place of trial is a mere scrap of paper and will not be entertained by the court. He has only himself to blame and he is the reason why his client lost. Almacen was suspended indefinitely.

Teodoro Chavez vs Atty. Escolastico Viola
Teodoro Chavez vs Atty. Escolastico Viola

196 SCRA 10 – Legal Ethics – A lawyer shall do no falsehood

In 1966, Atty. Viola assisted Felicidad Alvendia et al in filing a petition against Teodoro Chavez where he sought to have the Alvendias be declared as bona fide lessees in a land controversy. Said petition was dismissed because of nonappearance by the Alvendias.

In 1977, Atty. Viola assisted same clients in applying for an original registration of title over the same land in controversy in 1966. In said application, Atty. Viola insisted that his clients were the true owners of said land because they acquired it by sale from Teresita Vistan way back in 1929.

Chavez then filed a disbarment case against Atty. Viola. Chavez said that because of the conflicting claims that Viola prepared in behalf of his clients, he had willingly aided in and consented to the pursuit, promotion and prosecution of a false and unlawful application for land registration, in violation of his oath of office as a member of the Bar.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Viola is in violation of the Lawyer’s Oath.

HELD: Yes. Viola alleged in an earlier pleading that his clients were merely lessees of the property involved. In his later pleading, he stated that the very same clients were owners of the same property. One of these pleadings must have been false; it matters not which one. Worse, he offered no explanation as regards the discrepancy. A lawyer owes honesty and candor to the courts. It cannot be gainsaid that candidness, especially towards the courts, is essential for the expeditious administration of justice. Courts are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and pleading before them. Atty. Viola was suspended for 5 months.

Santa Pangan vs Atty. Dionisio Ramos
Santa Pangan vs Atty. Dionisio Ramos

93 SCRA 87 – Legal Ethics – Lack of Candor by a Lawyer – Proper name to be used by a lawyer

In 1979, a pending administrative case filed by Santa Pangan against Atty. Dionisio Ramos was delayed because Atty. Ramos allegedly appeared before a court in Manila. When the records of the said case was ch ecked (one which Atty. Ramos appeared in), it was found that he used the name “Atty. Pedro D.D. Ramos”. In his defense, Atty. Ramos said he has the right to use such name because in his birth certificate, his name listed was Pedro Dionisio Ramos. “D.D.” stands for Dionisio Dayaw with Dayaw being his mother’s surname. However, in the roll of attorneys, his name listed was Dionisio D. Ramos.

ISSUE: Whether or not what Atty. Ramos did was correct.

HELD: No. The attorney’s roll or register is the official record containing the names and signatures of those who are authorized to practice law. A lawyer is not authorized to use a name other than the one inscribed in the Roll of Attorneys in his practice of law. The official oath obliges the attorney solemnly to swear that he will do no falsehood. As an officer in the temple of justice, an attorney has irrefragable obligations of truthfulness, candor and frankness. In representing himself to the court as “Pedro D.D. Ramos” instead of “Dionisio D. Ramos”, respondent has violated his solemn oath and has resorted to deception. The Supreme Court hence severely reprimanded Atty. Ramos and warned that a similar infraction will warrant suspension or disbarment.

PALUWAGAN NG BAYAN SAVINGS BANK, petitioner, vs. ANGELO KING, KEN SUY WAT JOSE FERRER, JR., QUINTIN CALDERON, FE SARINO and DOMINGO K. LI, respondents.

Cruz, Durian, Agabin, Atienza, Alday and Tuason for petitioner. Simeon C. Sato for respondent Domingo K Li. Syquia Law Offices for respondents King, Ken Suy Wat, Calderon and Ferrer, Jr.

GANCAYCO, J.:

The rule on service of summons in this jurisdiction is too well-known. In civil cases, the service of summons on a defendant is made by handing a copy thereof to the defendant in person, or if he refuses to receive it, by tendering it to him. 1 Such service of summons may be made at the defendant's dwelling house or residence or at his office or regular place of business. The essence of personal service is the handing or tendering of a copy of the summons to the defendant himself.

However, when the defendant cannot be served personally within a reasonable time, substituted service may be effected (a) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant's dwelling house or residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at defendant's office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof. 2

It is only when the defendant cannot be served personally within a reasonable time that substituted service maybe resorted to. The impossibility of prompt service should be shown by stating the efforts made to find the defendant personally and the fact that such efforts failed. This statement should be made in the proof of service. This is necessary because substituted service is in derogation of the usual method of service. It has been held that this method of service is "in derogation of the common law; it is a method extraordinary in character, and hence may be used only as prescribed and in the circumstances authorized by statute." Thus, under the controlling decisions, the statutory requirements of substituted service must be followed strictly, faithfully and fully, and any substituted service other than that authorized by the statute is considered ineffective. 3

The application of the foregoing rules is the issue in this petition for review by certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals in G.R. CV No. 03386 entitled "Paluwagan ng Bayan Savings Bank vs. Mercantile Financing Corporation, et al." dated January 27, 1987, and its resolution dated April 22, 1987. 4

The facts are undisputed. Petitioner sued Mercantile Financing Corporation MFC, and private respondents, as directors and officers of MFC, for the recovery of money market placements through certain promissory notes. They were charged jointly and solidarily in accordance with Section 31 of the Corporation Code 5 which provides as follows:

Section 31. Liability of Directors, Trustees, Officers.-Directors or trustees who willfully and knowingly vote for or assent to patently unlawful acts of the corporation or who are guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in directing the affairs of the corporation shall be liable jointly and severally for all damages resulting therefrom suffered by the corporation, its stockholders or members and other persons.

Summons and copies of the complaints were served upon MFC and private respondents at the 4th Floor, LTA Building, No. 118 Perea Street, Makati, Metro Manila, which is the stated office address of MFC in the complaint, through its Assistant Manager Mr. Nasario S. Najomot Jr. who acknowledged receipt thereof for and in behalf of MFC and the private respondents. This is so recited in the certification of deputy sheriff Bernardo San Juan dated May 11, 1983. On May 24, 1983, the law firm of Guillermo E. Aragones and Associates filed a motion for extension of time to file a responsible pleading and/or motion to dismiss. The said motion was signed by Atty. Guillermo E. Aragones as counsel for the defendants. The motion was granted in an order dated May 26, 1983 giving the defendants an extension of twenty (20) days from the expiration of the reglementary period within which to file the responsive pleading and/or motion to dismiss. On June 13, 1983, said counsel for defendants filed a motion asking for a suspension of the action for a period of sixty (60) days on the ground that there was an on-going negotiation for an amicable settlement of the case between the parties. The motion was denied. On June 27, 1983, counsel for plaintiff filed a motion to declare defendants in default for failure to file an answer. This motion was granted in an order dated June 29, 1983. On July 14, 1983, the parties, assisted by their counsel, submitted a compromise Agreement for the approval of the court. It reads as follows:

1. The defendants propose to pay, jointly and severally, then account with the plaintiff as of June 15, 1983, in the sum of P707,500.01 with 20% interest per annum as follows:

P100,000.00-on or before July 18, 1983 100,000.00-on or before August 30, 1983 100,000.00-on or before September 30, 1983 100,000.00-on or before October 30, 1983

On July 18, 1983, a decision was rendered by the trial court approving the said Compromise Agreement and enjoining the parties to comply with the terms and conditions embodied therein. Partial payments were made under the compromise judgment. Upon failure of private respondent to make the other payments, petitioner filed a motion for the issuance of a writ of execution of judgment. The trial court granted the motion on December 16, 1983. On January 16,1984, counsel for defendants filed a pleading entitled "Clarification" thereby seeking a correction of the compromise judgment on the ground that he erroneously filed the Compromise Agreement in behalf of all the defendants when in fact he was the counsel for MFC only. On January 17, 1984, said counsel filed a "Motion To Correct Compromise Agreement" attaching thereto a copy of the resolution of the Board of Directors of MFC of July 6,1983 showing that he was the attorney-in-fact of MFC only, and praying for the correction of the judgment, accordingly. The motion for clarification was denied on January 20,1984.

On January 24, 1984, the Syquia Law Offices, in behalf of private respondents Angelo King, Keng Suy Wat, Quintin Calderon and Jose J. Ferrer, Jr., filed a motion to set aside the decision dated July 18,1983, the Compromise Agreement and the writ of execution dated December 21, 1983 on the ground that there was no service of summons upon each of them as the corporate address of the corporation was not their address as they were no longer connected therewith; that Atty. Aragones had no authority to represent them in the action and compromise agreement; that they were not served copies of the decision of the court; that they learned about the same only when it was being executed; and that they did not participate as directors or officers of MFC in the subject transaction.

On January 26,1984, private respondent Domingo F. Li filed a petition for relief from judgment with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction alleging therein that there was no service of summons upon him and that Atty. Aragones was not authorized to represent him or to enter into the Compromise Agreement. After an opposition to said motion was filed by the petitioner, the lower court denied the same in its order dated April 6, 1984. Separate motions for reconsideration filed by the private respondents were also denied on May 4,1984.

Thus, private respondents appealed to the respondent Court of Appeals, reiterating that there was no service of summons upon each of them as service of summons was made at the address of the firm with which they had severed connections; that the counsel of record of MFC has no authority to represent them in the case and in the Compromise Agreement; that they have not ratified the same by a partial payment of the compromise judgment; and that they were no longer connected with MFC at the time they were sued. In due time, a decision was rendered by the appellate court on January 27, 1987, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:

In view of the foregoing, the other errors assigned by the appellants need not be resolved: Wherefore:

(1) the decision dated July 18, 1983 approving the compromise agreement rendered by the lower court as well as the writ of execution issued pursuant thereto as against appellants Angelo King, Keng Suy Wat, Quintin Calderon, Jose Ferrer, Jr., and Domingo Li are hereby SET ASIDE; and (2) the case is remanded to the court of origin which is hereby ordered to direct proper service of summons on the aforesaid individual appellants at their respective correct addresses and thereafter to proceed in accordance with law. SO ORDERED. 7

A motion for reconsideration of the said decision filed by petitioner was denied by the appellate court on April 22, 1987. Hence, the instant petition predicated on the following grounds:

(A)

THAT THE CASE AT BAR (a) PERTAINS TO (AN) APPEAL FROM ORDER OF TRIAL COURT DATED APRIL 6,1984,

DENYING (i) PRIVATE RESPONDENT DOMINGO K LI'S 'PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT' FILED JANUARY 25, 1984, AND (ii) MOTION TO SET ASIDE DECISION, COMPROMISE AGREEMENT AND QUASH EXECUTION FILED JANUARY 14,1984 BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ANGELO KING, KING SUY WAT, QUINTIN CALDERON and JOSE FERRER, JR. and (b) DOES NOT INVOLVE ANY APPEAL FROM TRIAL COURT'S DECISION DATED JULY 19,1983 APPROVING THE

COMPROMISE AGREEMENT WHICH HAS LONG BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY.

(B)

THAT RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMPLETELY IGNORED THE BASIC QUESTION OF WHETHER (a) PRIVATE

RESPONDENT DOMINGO K. LI'S 'PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT FILED JANUARY 25,1984, and (b)'THE MOTION TO SET ASIDE DECISION, COMPROMISE AGREEMENT AND QUASH EXECUTION' FILED JANUARY 14,1984 BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ANGELO KING, KENG SUY WAT, QUINTIN CALDERON AND JOSE FERRER, JR., WERE FILED OUT

 

OF TIME.

(C)

THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS WHO WERE SUED AS DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS OF MFC WERE PROPERLY SERVED

WITH SUMMONS.

The petition is devoid of merit.

Although private respondents were sued in their capacity as directors and officers of MFC, they are, nevertheless, being held personally liable for the obligation subject of the litigation under the complaint filed by petitioner. Hence,

longer connected. Such substituted service is not valid. There was no compliance with the requirements of the rule that there must be a previous personal service and a failure to effect the same before substituted service could be resorted to. As the private respondents have not been duly served with summons, the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over their persons.

It is true that Atty. Aragones, who entered his appearance in behalf of MFC and private respondents, sought an extension of time to file an answer or a responsive pleading, and a suspension of the proceedings pending a possible settlement of the case; that thereafter, he signed a Compromise Agreement in behalf of MFC and private respondents which was submitted to the court on the basis of which a compromise judgment was rendered; that said judgment was partially complied with but upon default in the payment of the balance, a writ of execution was sought from and granted by the trial court; and that it was only then that Atty. Aragones informed the court that he committed an oversight in having filed the Compromise Agreement in behalf of private respondents when it was only MFC which hired his services. If Atty. Aragones was duly authorized to appear in behalf of the defendants, his voluntary appearance in their behalf by the filing of the aforementioned pleadings and the Compromise Agreement would constitute a waiver of the defect in the service of summons. However, the lack of authority of Atty. Aragones was revealed when he produced the resolution of the Board of Directors of MFC to the effect that the authority of said counsel was in behalf of said corporation only and not in behalf of the private respondents.

Since the Compromise Agreement was signed by Atty. Aragones in behalf of the private respon dents without their authority, the same is null and void in so far as they are concerned. By the same token, the compromise judgment is also null and void as to private respondents. The ruling of the lower court that the motion to set aside the judgment and the petition for relief from judgment were filed beyond the reglementary period is untenable. An action to declare the nullity of a void judgment does not prescribe. 8

One last word, Atty. Aragones' appears to be remiss in his duties and reckless in the performance of his responsibility as counsel of record in said case. He represented himself to be the counsel for the defendants including the private respondents not only in the motions he filed but also in the Compromise Agreement he submitted. It was only after the writ of execution of the compromise judgment was being enforced that he perked up by saying that he committed an oversight and that he was not authorized by the private respondents to represent them as counsel, much less in the Compromise Agreement. Candor towards the courts is a cardinal requirement of the practicing lawyer. To say one thing today and another tomorrow is a transgression of this imperative. Counsel should be made to account before his peers.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for an appropriate administrative investigation, report and recommendation on Atty. Guillermo E. Aragones who holds office at the 9th Floor of the Finasia Building, 6774 Ayala Avenue, Makati, Metro Manila. No costs. This decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

Berenguer vs. Carranza, 26 SCRA 210

Berenguer vs. Carranza, 26 SCRA 210 FACTS: Atty. Pedro B. Carranza was filed a complaint against

FACTS:

Atty. Pedro B. Carranza was filed a complaint against his acts of deception practiced in the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon. The alleged deception was the introduction of an Affidavit of Adjudication and Transfer of Title subscribed and sworn in Pasay City, which later turned out to be a falsity. Atty. Carranza claimed that he took no part in the said falsified document. It was contested that due to the said falsehood, whether or not a lawyer took part from, must still

be held liable for lack of prudence and meticulous take on the matter, and as it had caused unnecessary delays in the administration of justice.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Atty. Carranza should be held responsible of the said falsehood committed in court.

HELD:

YES. Respondent was reprimanded.

RATIO:

There was a finding that there was nothing willful in the conduct pursued by the respondent in introducing the document that turned out to be false. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court reminded that the lawyer’s oath is one impressed with utmost seriousness and should not be taken lightly. In its decision to issue reprimand, the respondent is warned that a more severe penalty will be imposed if the offense of the same character is repeated again.

MANUEL Y. MACIAS, petitioner-appellant, vs.

UY KIM, ANDRES CO, NEMESIO G. CO, NICASIO G. CO, MANUEL SOSANTONG and RELIABLE REALTY CORPORATION,

defendants-appellees.

Petitioner in his own behalf. J. Natividad & Associates for respondent.

MAKASIAR, J.:p

Petitioner-appellant Manuel Y. Macias filed on December 2, 1969 a petition for review by certiorari against respondents Uy Kim, Andres Co, Nemesio Co, Nicasio Co, Manuel Sosantong, Reliable Realty Corporation, and Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance, alleging that he filed on May 5, 1969 a complaint dated Apri l 30, 1969 for the annulment of a deed of sale, reivindicacion and damages against respondents docketed as Civil Case No. 76412 and assigned to Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance presided over by Honorable Jose L. Moya, wherein he averred:

(1) that he is a beneficiary of the estate of Julian Wolfson pending settlement in Special Proceedings No. 57405 before Branch VI of the Manila Court of First Instance and also a beneficiary of the estate of Rosina Marguerite Wolfson pending settlement in Special Proceedings No. 63866 before Branch VIII of the Manila Court of First Instance. In Special Proceedings No. 63866, he appealed from the order dated December 27, 1967 appointing Ricardo Vito Cruz as ancillary administrator to the Supreme Court, which appeal was docketed as G.R. No. L-29235; (2) that he has been named as special administrator of the estate of Rosina in Special Proceedings No. 67302 originally assigned to Branch VI but later transferred to Branch VIII and consolidated with Special Proceedings No. 63866 but the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII dismissed said Special Proceedings No. 67302 in an order dated February 20, 1967, which he also appealed to the Supreme Court and docketed as G.R. No. L-28054; (3) that to protect his interest as such ben eficiary in the estates of Rosina and Julian, he caused a notice of lis pendens to be annotated on Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 49877/ T-158, 49878/T-158, 49879/T-158, 49880/T-158, 49881/T-158 all issued in the name of Rosina covering five adjacent lots in Tondo, Manila; (4) that in an order dated April 16, 1969 (p. 73, rec. of L -30935), Judge Manuel P. Barcelona presiding in Special Proceedings No. 63866, authorized respondent Ricardo Vito Cruz as ancillary administrator of Rosina's estate, upon the latter's motion, to sell the real properties of the estate for the payment of the estate and inheritance taxes, realty taxes of the estate and expenses of administration; (5) that respondent Ricardo Vito Cruz negotiated for the sale of the aforesaid lots with the Reliable Realty Corporation, which was willing to buy the properties for P400,000.00 provided the notice of lis pendens annotated on the titles covering said lots is cancelled; (6) that upon motion of respondent Vito Cruz, Judge Manuel Barcelona in Special Proceedings No. 63866 ordered the cancellation of the said notice of lis pendens in an order dated April 15, 1969 (Schedule "C" of petition, p. 43, rec.); (7) that respondent Vito Cruz executed a deed of sale over the aforesaid properties in favo r of Reliable Realty Corporation, organized by respondents Uy Kim, Andres Co, Nicasio Co, Nemesio Co, and Manuel Sosantong, and respondent Judge Manuel P. Barcelona issued an order dated April 24 1969 approving the said deed of sale (Annex

(11) that he spent at least P10,000.00 in his efforts to protect and defend his hereditary interests in the estate of Rosina;

and prays for judgment (a) declaring the deed of sale over the aforementioned lots as null and void, (b) directing the cancellation of the transfer certificates of titles issued in the name of Reliable Realty Corporation, (c) declaring that the aforesaid five lots as his distributive share in the estate of Rosina as well as directing the register of deeds of Manila to issue in his name new transfer certificates of title, and (d) sentencing private respondents jointly and severally to pay him P10,000.00 as actual damages, P100,000.00 as moral damages, P20,000.00 as exemplary damages, and P50,000.00 as attorney's fees plus legal interests on all said values.

Private respondents Reliable Realty Corporation, Uy Kim, Nemesio Co, Andres Co, Nicasio Co and Manuel Sosantong filed a motion to dismiss (Appendix "B", pp. 44-50, rec.) appellant Macias' complaint in Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance on the grounds that the court has no jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter of the suit; that the complaint states no cause of action; that there is another action of the same nature pending in court; that plaintiff has no legal capacity to prosecute the present suit; and alleging specifically that:

(1)

Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance has no jurisdiction over the case since the subject matter involved properly belongs exclusively to and is within the competence of Branch VIII and Branch IV before which courts Special Proceedings Nos. 63866 and 57405 are pending and petitioner's alleged claim of beneficiary interest in the estate of Julian and Rosina depends on a recognition thereof by the probate court in said Special Proceedings Nos. 63866 and 57405;

(2)

that upon the face of the complaint, the same does not contain a cause of action; because Branch X, which is coordinate with Branch VIII of the Manila Court of First Instance, under the existing jurisprudence has no authority to annul the questioned orders issued by Branch VIII, aside from the fact that he appealed to the Supreme Court from the order of the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII dismissing Special Proceedings No. 67302 which was then pending before Branch IV and subsequently transferred to Branch VIII (L-28054), from the order denying Macias' claim of beneficiary interest in Rosina's estate and appointing respondent Vito Cruz as ancillary administrator of the est ate of Rosina in the same Special Proceedings No. 63866 (L- 29235; Annex "A", pp. 51-60, rec.) as well as from the order of the Presiding Judge of Branch IV also denying Macias' petition for relief from the order approving the partial distribution of the estate of Julian and denying his motion for the removal of Vito Cruz as administrator and appointment of herein appellant in his place (L-28947; Annex "B", pp. 61-65, rec.);

(3)

that petitioner Manuel Macias is not a real party in interest; because he is not the beneficiary, nor legatee nor creditor, much less an heir, of Rosina. He bases his alleged interest in the estate of Julian who died intestate on June 15, 1964 solely on the latter's memorandum to his sister Rosina wherein he hoped that his sister Rosina will, after his estate is settled, give at her convenience to petitioner Manuel Macias the sum of P500.00; to Faustino A. Reis and Severino Baron the amount of P10 000.00 each; and to Dominador M. Milan and Vicente D. Recto P1,000.00 each. The said memorandum is not a will. Unfortunately, Rosina died on September 14, 1965 without being able to comply with the memorandum of her brother Julian. Since petitioner has not been declared an heir or legatee of Julian in Special Proceedings No. 57405 nor of Rosina in Special Proceedings No. 63866, he has no legal standing to file the present action. The aforesaid motion to dismiss was followed by supplement alleging that since the buyer, the Reliable Corporation, has a distinct personality from those of its incorporators, there is no cause of action against private respondent Uy Kim, Nemesis Co, Andres Co, Nicasio Co and Manuel Sosantong, its incorporators.

Respondent Ricardo Vito Cruz filed a motion for intervention in said Case No. 76412 dated June 4, 1969, reite rating the ground of the motion to dismiss advanced by the other private respondents as aforestated and emphasizing that this petition for relief from judgment seeks the nullified classification by the Presiding Judge of Branch X of the order of the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII in Special Proceedings No. 63866 dated April 15 and April 24, 1969, as admmitted by petitioner's motion in praying that this Case No. 76412 should not be assigned to Branch IV or Branch VIII as his petition seeks to nullify the orders of Presiding Judge Manuel Barcelona of Branch VIII in said Special Proceedings No. 63866 (Annex "B", pp. 96-97, rec.).

Petitioner-appellant filed his opposition dated June 14, 1969 to the motion to dismiss of respondents Reliable Realty Corporation and its incorporators as well as to the motion for intervention filed by respondent Vito Cruz.

In an order dated June 30, 1969, Presiding Judge Jose L. Moya of Branch X sustained the motion to dismiss and forthwith dismissed plaintiff's complaint herein in Civil Case No. 76412 but denied the prayer of the motion to dismiss for cancellation of the notice of adverse claim, which petitioner-appellant caused to be annotated on the titles issued

respondent Reliable Realty Corporation respectively dated April 16 and April 24, 1969 (Annex "A" pp. 94-95, rec.),

which appeal is now pending before this Court in L-30935 (pp. 87-97, rec.; pp. 4, 15, appellant's brief; emphasis supplied).

In a manifestation dated and filed on December 19, 1969, respondent Vito Cruz adopted in toto as his own motion to dismiss and/or answer, the motion to dismiss dated December 12, 1969 filed by the principal respondents (p. 102, rec.).

Petitioner-appellant filed on December 19, 1969 an opposition dated December 18, 1969 to the motion to dismiss (pp. 104-108, rec.). In Our resolution dated January 23, 1970, the motion to dismiss petition for review and certiorari was denied (p. 123, rec.).

In a manifestation dated February 13, 1970, private respondents Reliable Realty Corporation, Uy Kim, Nemesio Co, Andres Co, Nicasio Co and Manuel Sosantong adopted as their answer their motion to dismiss filed on December 12, 1969 (p. 133, rec.).

The appealed order of respondent Judge Jose L. Moya, dated June 30, 1969, reads:

It appearing from the complaint that there is presently pending in Branch VIII of this Court Special Proceeding No. 63866 for the settlement of the inheritance of the deceased Rosina Marguerite Wolfson; that the plaintiff claims to be a beneficiary by hereditary title of her estate; that the sale of the lands forming part thereof which the plaintiff desires to annul was approved by this Court in Special Proceeding No. 63866; that aside from praying for the annulment of the sale, the plaintiff also seeks a declaration that the lands sold constitutes his distributive share of Rosina Marguerite Wolfson's inheritance; and that the plaintiff has appealed to the Supreme Court from the order approving the sale, and it being settled that the jurisdiction to annul a judgment or order of a branch of the Court of First Instance is vested exclusively in the branch which rendered the judgment or issued the order and that any other branch, even if it be in the same judicial district, which attempts to do so, exceeds its jurisdiction (Tuason v. Judge Torres, 21 S.C.R.A. 1169, L-24717, December 4, 1967), and it being unquestionable that the authority to distribute the inheritance of a deceased person and determine the persons entitled thereto belongs exclusively to the court or branch thereof taking cognizance of the proceedings for its settlement (Branch VIII) in this case; and finally the Supreme Court having already acquired jurisdiction by reason of the plaintiff's appeal, no subordinate court should attempt to pass upon the same question submitted to it, the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant is granted and the complaint is dismissed.

The prayer in the motion to dismiss for the cancellation of the notice of adverse claim which the plaintiff caused to be annotated on the titles to the lands on account of the present action is denied as the only question raised by a motion to dismiss is the sufficiency of the complaint filed in the action. (Appendix "F", p. 78, rec.). The pretense of herein petitioner-appellant is without merit and the foregoing order appealed from should be sustained.

Under Section 1 of Rule 73, Rules of Court, "the court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estates of the deceased, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts." Pursuant to this provision, therefore all questions concerning the settlement of the estate of the deceased Rosina Marguerite Wolfson should be filed before Branch VIII of the Manila Court of First Instance, then presided over by former Judge, now Justice of the Court of Appeals, Manuel Barcelona, where Special Proceedings No. 63866 for the settlement of the testate estate of the deceased Rosina Marguerite Wolfson was filed and is still pending.

This Court stated the rationale of said Section 1 of Rule 73, thus:

... The reason for this provision of the law is obvious. The settlement of the estate of a deceased person in court constitutes but one proceeding. For the successful administration of that estate it is necessary that there should be but one responsible entity, one court, which should have exclusive control of every part of such administration. To intrust it to two or more courts, each independent of the other, would result in confusion and delay. xxx xxx xxx

The provision of section 602, giving one court exclusive jurisdiction of the settlement of the estate of a deceased person, was not inserted in the law for the benefit of the parties litigant, but in the public interest for the better administration of justice. For that reason the parties have no control over it. 1 On the other hand, and for such effects as may be proper, it should be stated herein that any challenge to the validity of a will, any objection to the authentication thereof, and every demand or claim which any heir, delegate or party in interest in a testate or intestate succession may make, must be acted upon and decided within the same special proceedings, not in a separate action, and the same judge having jurisdiction in the administration of the estate shall

It is not disputed that the orders sought to be annulled and set aside by herein petitioner-appellant in his complaint against private respondents which was assigned to Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance presided over by Judge Jose L. Moya, were issued by Judge Barcelona presiding over Branch VIII of the same court.

Even in other cases, it is also a general principle that the branch of the court of first instance that first acquired jurisdiction over the case retains such jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other branches of the same court of first instance or judicial district and all other coordinate courts. Thus, in the 1970 case of De Leon vs. Salvador, 4 Mr. Justice Teehankee, speaking for the Court, ruled:

The various branches of a Court of First Instance of a province or city, having as they have the same or equal authority and exercising as they do concurrent and coordinate jurisdiction, should not, cannot, and are not permitted to interfere with the respective cases, much less with their orders or judgments, by means of injunction. 5 In the words of Mr. Justice Fernando, also in behalf of the Court, "any other view would be subversive of a doctrine that has been steadfastly adhered to, the main purpose of which is to assure stability and consistency in judicial actuations and to avoid confusion that may otherwise ensue if courts of coordinate jurisdiction are permitted to

interfere with each other's lawful

orders. ...

This is to preclude an undesirable situation from arising one, which if

permitted, as above pointed out, would be fraught with undesirable consequences, as already indicated, for the bench, no less than for the litigants. To such an eventuality, this Court cannot give its sanction. 6

Appellant claims that his action in Civil Case No. 76412 before Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance, is not for the annulment of any judgment or order of Branch VIII of said Court and that nowhere, either in the prayer or in the body of his complaint, does he seek for the annulment of any order of Branch VIII (p. 8, appellant's brief). This pretension of appellant is belied by paragraph 8 of his complaint in Civil Case No. 76412 alleging that the order dated April 15, 1969 directing the register of deeds of Manila to cancel the notice of lis pendens caused to be annotated by the appellant on the titles covering the five (5) lots and the order dated April 24, 1969 approving the deed of sale were both issued by the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII in Special Proceedings No. 63866, without due notice to and hearing of appellant; and further belied by paragraph 9 of the same complaint alleging that the acts of the buyers of the aforesaid five (5) lots in causing the cancellation of appellant's notice of lis pendens in obtaining the registration of the deed of sale, in procuring the cancellation of the transfer certificates of titles over the five (5) lots in the name of Rosina, and in securing new transfer certificates of title in the name of defendant Reliable Realty Corporation, are all null and void ab initio, because (1) of the pendency of his appeal in G.R. No. L-29235 for said appeal divested the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII of any jurisdiction in Special Proceedings No. 63866 to sell the properties in question notwithstanding the order of April 24, 1969 approving the deed of sale, (2) the orders dated April 15, 1969 and April 24, 1969 directing the cancellation of appellant's notice of lis pendens and approving the deed of sale may not be registered as they have not become final and will not become final by reason of his appe al in G.R. No. L-29235, and (3)

he was not notified of the petition to sell any portion of Rosina's estate (pars. 8 & 9, Appendix "A", pp. 30-34, rec.). It is patent that by the aforesaid paragraphs 8 and 9 of his complaint in Civil Case No. 76412 before Branch X, appellant impugns the validity of the aforementioned orders of the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII in Special Proceedings No.

63866.

Furthermore, in his motion to the Honorable Executive Judge of May 5, 1969, appellant averred that he filed his complaint in Civil Case No. 76412 to nullify and set aside certain orders of Judge Manuel P. Barcelona of Branch VIII in Special Proceedings No. 63866 over the testate estate of Rosina Marguerite Wolfson and prayed that said Case No. 76412 should not be assigned to either Branch VIII or Branch IV (Annex "A", pp. 21-22, appellant's brief). Said motion could not refer to orders of Judge Manuel P. Barcelona other than the aforecited orders of April 15, 16, and 24, 1969 in Special Proceedings No. 63866.

This appellant impliedly admits on pp. 3-4 of his reply brief which is further emphasized by his statement that the only purpose of his motion dated May 5, 1969 was "to keep the action away from possible prejudgment by the abovementioned branches of the court below (referring to Branch IV and Branch VIII of the Manila Court of First Instance)."

But even without considering paragraphs 8 and 9 of appellant's complaint and his motion dated May 5, 1969 in Civil Case No. 76412 before Branch X, his prayer in the same complaint for the nullification or rescission of the deed of sale covering the five lots in question cannot be decreed without passing upon the validity of the orders of the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII in Special Proceedings No. 63866 cancelling his notice o f lis pendens authorizing the sale and approving the sale. And, as heretofore stated, under the rules and controlling jurisprudence, the Presiding Judge of Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance cannot legally interfere with, nor pass upon the vali dity of said orders of the Presiding Judge of Branch VIII, which court, as the probate court, has exclusive jurisdiction over the estate of the decedent, including the validity of the will, the declaration of heirs, the disposition of the estate for the payment of its liabilities, and the distribution among the heirs of the residue thereof.

Special Proceedings No. 63866, amply covers the same subject matter and seeks substantially the same relief as his

complaint in Civil Case No. 76412 and the present petition (see pars. 26, 28, 30-40, and the prayer in this petition, pp.

13-34, rec. of

L-30935).

.

Appellant himself states that the decision in the three cases he filed with this Court namely, G.R. Nos. L -29235, L- 28947 and L-30935 will answer the question whether he has legal interest in the estates of Rosina Marguerite Wolfson and Julian A. Wolfson (pp. 21-22, appellant's brief).

The cases he cited, as correctly contended by appellees (Lajom vs. Viola, et al., 73 Phil. 563; Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil. 855; Rodriguez vs. Dela Cruz, 8 Phil. 665; and Quion vs. Claridad, L-48541, January 30, 1943, 2 O.G., No. 6, June, 1943, p. 572, 74 Phil. 100), are not applicable to and therefore do not govern the instant case, because the actions therein were filed by the preterited heir or legatee or co-owner long after the intestate or testate or partition proceedings had been closed or terminated. In the case at bar, Special Proceedings No. 63866 is still pending in the probate court — Branch VIII of the Manila Court of First Instance — where appellant should present, as he has in fact presented, his alleged claim of legal interest in the estate of Rosina Marguerite Wolfson, which claim, if valid, will certainly entitle him to all notices of all petitions, motions, orders, resolutions, decisions and processes issued and/or promulgated by said probate court. There is no order by the said probate court terminating or closing Special Proceedings No. 63866. However, in the recent case of Guilas vs. Judge of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, et al., 7 WE reiterated the rule:

The better practice, however, for the heir who has not received his share, is to demand his share through a proper motion in the same probate or administration proceedings, or for re-opening of the probate or administrative

...

proceedings if it had already been closed, and not through an independent action, which would be tried by another court or Judge which may thus reverse a decision or order of the probate or intestate court already final and executed and re-shuffle properties long ago distributed and disposed of (Ramos vs. Ortuzar, 89 Phil. 730, 741-742; Timbol vs. Cano, supra; Jingco vs. Daluz, L-5107, April 24, 1953, 92 Phil. 1082; Roman Catholic vs. Agustines, L-14710, March 29, 1960, 107 Phil. 455, 460-61).

Even in the case of Quion, etc. vs. Claridad, et al., supra, invoked by appellant, WE ruled that the intestate proceedings, although closed and terminated, can still be reopened within the prescriptive period upon petition therefor by a preterited heir.

The Court cannot ignore the proclivity or tendency of appellant herein to file several actions covering the same subject matter or seeking substantially identical relief, which is unduly burdening the courts. Coming from a neophyte, who is still unsure of himself in the practice of the law, the same may be regarded with some understanding. But considering appellant's ability and long experience at the bar, his filing identical suits for the same remedy is reprehensible and should merit rebuke.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby dismissed and the appealed order is hereby affirmed, with costs against petitioner-appellant. Let this be entered in his personal record.

Reyes, J.B.L., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Teehankee, Barredo and Antonio, JJ., concur. Castro and Fernando, JJ., took no part. Concepcion, C.J., is on leave.

Garcia v Francisco

TOPIC: Legal Ethics, CPR FACTS:

Garcia, et. al leased a parcel of land to Lee for a period of 25 years beginning May 1, 1964. Despite repeated verbal and written demands, Lee refused to vacate after the expiration of the lease. Lee was represented by Atty. Francisco. On March 29, 1989, Lee, through Francisco, filed a complaint against Garcia and the other lessors for specific performance and reconveyance with damages (docketed as Q-89-2188) but was dismissed by the trial court. On May 29, 1989, Garcia and the other lessors filed a complaint for unlawful detainer against Lee but Lee answered alleging as special and affirmative defense the pendency of case Q-89-2188. This allegation was rejected by Judge Bautista. On October 24, 1989, Atty. Francisco filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction against Judge Bautista and Garcia, et. al (such is violative of the Rule on Summary Procedure prohibiting the filing of petitions for certiorari, mandamus or prohibition against any interlocutory order). On November 13, 1989, Judge Vera issued an order enjoining Judge Bautista from proceeding with the trial of the unlawful detainer case. Upon motion of the complainant, however, the injunction was set aside and Civil Case No. Q-89-3833 was dismissed. Lee did not appeal. On April 6, 1990, Lee through Francisco, filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction with the Court of Appeals against Judge Vera, Judge Singzon, Garcia and the other lessors. Petition was denied. On June 14, 1990, Judge Singzon decided Civil Case no. 1455 in favor of complainant Garcia and the other lessors. Lee did not appeal. Instead, through Francisco again, he filed a petition against Judge Singzon and the other lessors for certiorari and annulment of the decision in the unlawful detainer case and damages with prayer for issuance of preliminary injunction. On July 2, 1990, Garcia’s group filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss Civil Case. On July 13, 1990, Judge Paralejo issued an order enjoining Judge Singzon from enforcing the decision in that case. Garcia attacked this order in a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction docketed as CA Sp. No. 22392. The petition was granted by the Court of Appeals. Garcia then filed a motion for execution in the unlawful detainer case. Then, Lee, through Francisco, filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against the Court of Appeals, Judge Singzon, Garcia and the other lessors but was denied. Finally, Lee, still through Francisco, filed a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction against Judge Singzon, Garcia and the other lessors in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City to set aside and declare the writs of execution in the unlawful detainer case. Such dismissed but again Lee, through Francisco, filed a motion for reconsideration. According to Francisco, he was relieved as counsel w hile this motion was pending.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Atty. Francisco transgressed with the Code of Professional Conduct

HELD:

Yes. The Supreme Court held that Atty. Francisco’s cause was without merit. Atty. Francisco abused his right of recourse to the courts for the purpose of arguing a cause that had been repeatedly rebuffed, he was disdaining the obligation of the lawyer to maintain only such actions or proceedings as appear to him to be just and such defense only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. By violating his oath not to delay any man for money or malice, he has besmirched the name of an honorable profession and has proved himself unworthy of trust reposed in him by law as an officer of the Court. Atty. Crisanto l. Francisco took his oath as a lawyer on March 2, 1956. Considering his age and experience in the practice of the laws, he should have known better than to trifle with it and to use it as an instrument for harassment of the complainant and the misuse of judicial processes. SUSPENDED for 1 year

Enrique Zaldivar vs Raul Gonzalez
Enrique Zaldivar vs Raul Gonzalez

166 SCRA 316 – Legal Ethics – Contemptuous Language – Duty of a Lawyer

Zaldivar was the governor of Antique. He was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Gonzales was the then Tanodbayan who was investigating the case. Zaldivar then filed with the Supreme Court a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus assailing the authority of the Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases under the 1987 Constitution. The Supreme Court, acting on the petition issued a Cease and Desist Order against Gonzalez directing him to temporarily restrain from investigating and filing informations against Zaldivar.

Gonzales however proceeded with the investigation and he filed criminal informations against Zaldivar. Gonzalez even had a newspaper interview where he proudly claims that he scored one on the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court’s issuance of the TRO is a manifestation theta the “rich and influential persons get favorable actions from the S

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HELD: Yes. The statements made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise of the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. His statements necessarily imply that the justices of the Supreme Court betrayed their oath of office. Such statements constitute the grossest kind of disrespect for the Supreme Court. Such statements very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme Court and, through the Court, the entire system of administration of justice in the country.

Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. What Gonzalez seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public interests. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice. Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special Prosecutor who owes duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to the Supreme Court as the embodiment and the repository of the judicial power in the government of the Republic. The responsibility of Gonzalez to uphold the dignity and authority of the Supreme Court and not to promote distrust in the administration of justice is heavier than that of a private practicing lawyer.

Gonzalez is also entitled to criticize the rulings of the court but his criticisms must be bona fide. In the case at bar, his statements, particularly the one where he alleged that members of the Supreme Court approached him, are of no relation to the Zaldivar case.

The Supreme Court suspended Gonzalez indefinitely from the practice of law.

Paragas vs. Cruz

Facts: In asking for reconsideration of the Court’s dismissal of his petition for certiorari in the present case, counsel for the petitioner, Atty. Jeremias Sebastian, used derogatory expressions against the dignity of the Court in the language of his motion for reconsideration.

Issue: Whether or not Atty. Sebastian is administratively liable for his actions/language.

Held: The expressions contained in the motion for reconsideration penned by the counsel of the petitioner are plainly contemptuous and disrespectful and he is hereby guilty of direct contempt of court.

As remarked in People vs. Carillo: “Counsel should conduct himself towards the judges who try his cases with that courtesy all have a right to expect. As an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice.

It is right and plausible that an attorney, in defending the cause and rights of his client, should do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so, for him to exercise said right by resorting to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect which the dignity of the courts require.”

GAVINA MAGLUCOT-AW, CATALINA ORCULLO, RICHARD ESTANO, NIDA MAGLUCOT, MELANIA MAGLUCOT- CATUBIG, EMILIANO CATUBIG, LADISLAO SALMA, petitioners, vs. LEOPOLDO MAGLUCOT, SEVERO MAGLUCOT, WILFREDA MAGLUCOT-ALEJO and CONSTANCIO ALEJO, respondents. D E C I S I O N

KAPUNAN, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision, dated 11 November 1997, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 48816 which reversed and set aside the Decision, dated 13 December 1994, of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 30 of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental in an action for recovery of possession and damages.

The core issue in this case is whether a partition of Lot No. 1639 had been effected in 1952. Petitioners contend that there was already a partition of said lot; hence, they are entitled to exclusive possession and ownership of Lot No. 1639-D, which originally formed part of Lot No. 1639 until its partition. Private respondents, upon the other hand, claim that there was no partition; hence, they are co-owners of Lot No. 1639-D. Notably, this case presents a unique situation where there is an order for partition but there is no showing that the sketch/subdivision plan was submitted to the then Court of First Instance for its approval or that a decree or order was registered in the Register of Deeds. The antecedent facts of the case are as follows: Korte

Petitioners filed with the RTC a complaint for recovery of possession and damages alleging, inter alia, that they are the owners of Lot No. 1639-D. Said lot was originally part of Lot No. 1639 which was covered by Original Certificate Title No. 6775 issued in the names of Hermogenes Olis, Bartolome Maglucot, Pascual Olis, Roberto Maglucot, Anselmo Lara and Tomas Maglucot on 16 August 1927. [if !supportFootnotes][1][endif] On 19 April 1952, Tomas Maglucot, one of the registered owners and respondents’ predecessor-in-interest, filed a petition to subdivide Lot No. 1639. [if !supportFootnotes][2][endif] Consequently, on 13 May 1952, then CFI of Negros Oriental issued an order [if !supportFootnotes][3][endif] directing the parties to subdivide said lot into six portions as follows: Rtcspped

  • a) Hermogenes Olis - lot 1639-A

  • b) Pascual Olis - lot 1639-B

  • c) Bartolome Maglucot - lot 1639-C

  • d) Roberto (Alberto) - lot 1639-D

Maglucot

  • e) Anselmo Lara - lot 1639-E

  • f) Tomas Maglucot - lot 1639-F. [if !supportFootnotes][4][endif]

Sometime in 1963, Guillermo Maglucot rented a portion of Lot No. 1639-D (subject lot). Subsequently, Leopoldo and Severo, both surnamed Maglucot, rented portions of subject lot in 1964 and 1969, respectively, and each paying rentals therefor. Said respondents built houses on their corresponding leased lots. They paid the rental amount of P100.00 per annum to Mrs. Ruperta Salma, who represented the heirs of Roberto Maglucot, petitioners’ predecessor- in-interest. In December 1992, however, said respondents stopped paying rentals claiming ownership over the subject lot. Petitioners thus filed the complaint a quo. Sdaadsc

After trial, the lower court rendered judgment in favor of petitioners. The RTC found the existence of tax declarations in the names of Hermogenes Olis and Pascual Olis (purported owners of Lot Nos. 1639-A and 1639-B, respectively) [if !supportFootnotes][5][endif] as indubitable proof that there was a subdivision of Lot No. 1639. It likewise found that Tomas Maglucot, respondents’ predecessor-in-interest, took active part in the partition as it was he, in fact, who commenced the action for partition. [if !supportFootnotes][6][endif] The court a quo cited Article 1431 of the Civil Code which states that "[t]hrough estoppel an admission or representation is rendered conclusive upon the person making it, and cannot be denied or disproved as against the person relying thereon." Applying said provision of law, it held that while there was no court order showing that Lot No. 1639 was partitioned, its absence could not be used by Tomas Maglucot, or respondents as his successors-in-interest, to deny the existence of an approved partition against the other co-owners who claim that there was one. [if !supportFootnotes][7][endif] Said court, likewise, ruled that the tax declarations [if !supportFootnotes][8][endif] over the houses of respondents, expressly stating that the same are constructed on the lots of Roberto Maglucot, constitute a conclusive admission by them of the ownership of the subject lot by the latter. [if

!supportFootnotes][9][endif]

The dispositive portion of the lower court’s decision reads as follows: Missdaa WHEREFORE, on the basis of the foregoing discussion, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs against the defendants ordering the latter:

1. To demolish their houses inside lot 1639-D, vacate the premises thereof and deliver the possession of the same to Plaintiffs; Slxmis

Petitioners filed this petition for review on certiorari alleging that the CA committed the following reversible errors:

I

IN VIOLATING THE LAW ON ACQUISITIVE PRESCRIPTION PLAINTIFFS HAVING POSSESSED LOT 1639-D SINCE 1946;

II

IN VIOLATING THE LAW ON ESTOPPEL; THE FACT OF PAYMENT OF RENTALS AND OFFER TO BUY BY THE DEFENDANTS IS ADMISSION THAT THE AREA IN LOT 1639-D, HAD LONG BEEN ADJUDICATED TO PLAINTIFFS;

III

IN DECLARING THAT THERE WAS NO PRIOR PARTITION, CONTRARY TO THE FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT, AND

AGAINST THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD, OF WHICH IF PROPERLY CONSIDERED WOULD CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF THE CASE;

IV

IN DECLARING THAT THERE IS NO LAW OR JURISPRUDENCE APPLICABLE UNDER THE PREMISES; THIS WOULD ONLY

SHOW THAT THE RECORD OF THE CASE WAS NOT PROPERLY SCRUTINIZED, AND THE LAW WAS NOT PROPERLY STUDIED; ESPECIALLY IN THE CASE AT BENCH THAT THE ORAL AND MUTUAL PARTITION HAPPENED DURING THE REGIME OF THE OLD RULES OF PROCEDURE; [if

!supportFootnotes][12][endif]

Petitioners maintain that Lot No. 1639 was mutually partitioned and physically subdivided among the co-owners and that majority of them participated in the actual execution of the subdivision. Further, the co-owners accepted their designated shares in 1946 as averred by Tomas Maglucot in his petition for partition. [if !supportFootnotes][13][endif] Petitioners opine that in 1952, Tomas Maglucot himself initiated a court proceeding for a formal subdivision of Lot No. 1639. In said petition, he averred that only Hermogenes Olis and the heirs of Pascual Olis were not agreeable to the partition. [if !supportFootnotes][14][endif] Petitioners further contend that respondents admitted in their tax declarations covering their respective houses that they are "constructed on the land of Roberto Maglucot." [if !supportFootnotes][15][endif] Simply put, petitioners vigorously assert that respondents are estopped from claiming to be co-owners of the subject lot in view of the mutual agreement in 1946, judicial confirmation in 1952, and respondents’ acquiescence because they themselves exclusively exercised ownership over Lot No. 1639-A beginning 1952 up to the present. [if

!supportFootnotes][16][endif]

For their part, respondents posit three points in support of their position. First, they emphasize that petitioners failed to show that the interested parties were apprised or notified of the tentative subdivision contained in the sketch and that the CFI subsequently confirmed the same. [if !supportFootnotes][17][endif] Second, they point to the fact that petitioners were unable to show any court approval of any partition. [if !supportFootnotes][18][endif] Third, they maintain that Lot No. 1639 remain undivided since to date, OCT No. 6275 is still an existing and perfectly valid title, containing no annotation of any encumbrance or partition whatsoever. [if !supportFootnotes][19][endif]

After a careful consideration of the pleadings filed by the parties and the evidence on record, we find that the petition is meritorious. As stated earlier, the core issue in this case is whether there was a valid partition in 1952. Scslx Preliminarily, this Court recognizes that "the jurisdiction of this Court in cases brought before it from the Court of Appeals via Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is limited to reviewing errors of law. Findings of fact of the latter are conclusive, except in the following instances: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; and (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record." [if !supportFootnotes][20][endif] This case falls under exceptions (7), (8) and (10) in that the findings of facts of the CA are in conflict with that of the RTC, are mere conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based and are premised on absence of evidence but are contradicted by the evidence on record. For these reasons, we shall consider the evidence on record to determine whether indeed there was partition. Slx In this jurisdiction, an action for partition is comprised of two phases: first, an order for partition which determines whether a co-ownership in fact exists, and whether partition is proper; and, second, a decision confirming the sketch or subdivision submitted by the parties or the commissioners appointed by the court, as the case may be. [if !supportFootnotes][21][endif] The first phase of a partition and/or accounting suit is taken up with the determination of whether or not a co-ownership in fact exists, (i.e., not otherwise legally proscribed) and may be made by voluntary agreement of all the parties interested in the property. This phase may end with a declaration that plaintiff is not entitled to have a partition either because a co-ownership does not exist, or partition is legally prohibited. It may end, upon the other hand, with an adjudgment that a co-ownership does in truth exist, partition is proper in the premises

estate in question. Such an order is, to be sure, final and appealable. [if !supportFootnotes][22][endif] The present rule on the question of finality and appealability of a decision or order decreeing partition is that it is final and appealable. [if !supportFootnotes][23][endif] The order of partition is a final determination of the co-ownership over Lot No.

  • 1639 by the parties and the propriety of the partition thereof. Hence, if the present rule were applied, the order not

having been appealed or questioned by any of the parties to the case, it has become final and executory and cannot

now be disturbed. Mesm

The true test to ascertain whether or not an order or a judgment is interlocutory or final is: Does it leave something to be done in the trial court with respect to the merits of the case? If it does, it is interlocutory; if it does not, it is final. The key test to what is interlocutory is when there is something more to be done on the merits of the case. [if !supportFootnotes][24][endif] An order for partition is final and not interlocutory and, hence, appealable because it decides the rights of the parties upon the issue submitted. [if !supportFootnotes][25][endif]

However, this Court notes that the order of partition was issued when the ruling in Fuentebella vs. Carrascoso, [if !supportFootnotes][26][endif] which held that the order of partition is interlocutory, was controlling. In addition, the reports of the commissioners not having been confirmed by the trial court are not binding. [if !supportFootnotes][27][endif] In this case, both the order of partition and the unconfirmed sketch plan are, thus, interlocutory. Nevertheless, where parties do not object to the interlocutory decree, but show by their conduct that they have assented thereto, they cannot thereafter question the decree, [if !supportFootnotes][28][endif] especially, where, by reason of their conduct, considerable expense has been incurred in the execution of the commission. [if !supportFootnotes][29][endif] Respondents in this case have occupied their respective lots in accordance with the sketch/subdivision plan. They cannot after acquiescing to the order for more than forty (40) years be allowed to question the binding effect thereof.

This case is to be distinguished from the order in the action for partition in Arcenas vs. Cinco. [if !supportFootnotes][30][endif] In that case, the order was clearly interlocutory since it required the parties " to submit the corresponding deed of partition to the Court for its approval." Here, the order appointed two commissioners and directed them merely to approve the sketch plan already existing and tentatively followed by the parties. Calrky

Under the present rule, the proceedings of the commissioners without being confirmed by the court are not binding upon the parties. [if !supportFootnotes][31][endif] However, this rule does not apply in case where the parties themselves actualized the supposedly unconfirmed sketch/subdivision plan. The purpose of court approval is to give effect to the sketch/subdivision plan. In this case, the parties themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest implemented

the sketch plan made pursuant to a court order for partition by actually occupying specific portions of Lot No. 1639 in

  • 1952 and continue to do so until the present until this case was filed, clearly, the purpose of the court approval has

been met. This statement is not to be taken to mean that confirmation of the commissioners may be dispensed with

but only that the parties herein are estopped from raising this question by their own acts of ratification of the supposedly non-binding sketch/subdivision plan. Kycalr

The records of the case show that sometime in 1946 there was a prior oral agreement to tentatively partition Lot No. 1639. [if !supportFootnotes][32][endif] By virtue of this agreement, the original co-owners occupied specific portions of Lot No. 1639. [if !supportFootnotes][33][endif] It was only in 1952 when the petition to subdivide Lot No. 1639 was filed because two of the co-owners, namely Hermogenes Olis and heirs of Pascual Olis, refused to have said lot subdivided and have separate certificates of title. Significantly, after the 1952 proceedings, the parties in this case by themselves and/or through their predecessors-in-interest occupied specific portions of Lot No. 1639 in accordance with the sketch plan. Such possession remained so until this case arose, or about forty (40) years later.

From its order in 1952, it can be gleaned that the CFI took notice of the tentative subdivision plan by oral partition of the parties therein. Further, it appears that said court was aware that the parties therein actually took possession of the portions in accordance with the sketch/subdivision plan. With this factual backdrop, said court ordered the partition and appointed two (2) commissioners to approve the tentative sketch/subdivision plan. It would not be unreasonable to presume that the parties therein, having occupied specific portions of Lot No. 1639 in accordance with the sketch/subdivision plan, were aware that it was that same sketch/subdivision plan which would be considered by the commissioners for approval. There is no showing that respondents by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest raised any objections. On the contrary, the records show that the parties continued their possession of the specific portions of Lot No. 1639 pursuant to the sketch/subdivision plan. Kyle It has been previously held that a co-owner, who, though not a party to a partition accepts the partition allotted to him, and holds and conveys the same in severalty, will not be subsequently permitted to avoid partition. [if !supportFootnotes][34][endif] It follows that a party to a partition is also barred from avoiding partition when he has received and held a portion of the subdivided land especially in this case where respondents have enjoyed ownership rights over their share for a long time.

Parties to a partition proceeding, who elected to take under partition, and who took possession of the portion

adversary must have placed reliance on the action and acted as he would otherwise not have done. Some authorities, however, hold that what is tantamount to estoppel may arise without this reliance on the part of the adversary, and this is called, ratification or election by acceptance of benefits, which arises when a party, knowing that he is not bound by a defective proceeding, and is free to repudiate it if he will, upon knowledge, and while under no disability, chooses to adopt such defective proceeding as his own. [if !supportFootnotes][39][endif] Ratification means that one under no disability voluntarily adopts and gives sanction to some unauthorized act or defective proceeding, which without his sanction would not be binding on him. It is this voluntary choice, knowingly made, which amounts to a ratification of what was theretofore unauthorized, and becomes the authorized act of the party so making the ratification. [if

!supportFootnotes][40][endif]

The records show that respondents were paying rent for the use of a portion of Lot No. 1639-D. Had they been of the belief that they were co-owners of the entire Lot No. 1639 they would not have paid rent. Respondents attempted to counter this point by presenting an uncorroborated testimony of their sole witness to the effect that the amount so paid to Roberto Maglucot and, subsequently, to Ruperta Salma were for the payment of real property taxes. We are not persuaded. It is quite improbable that the parties would be unaware of the difference in their treatment of their transactions for so long a time. Moreover, no evidence was ever presented to show that a tax declaration for the entire Lot No. 1639 has ever been made. Replete in the records are tax declarations for specific portions of Lot 1639. It is inconceivable that respondents would not be aware of this. With due diligence on their part, they could have easily verified this fact. This they did not do for a period spanning more than four decades.

The payment of rentals by respondents reveal that they are mere lessees. As such, the possession of respondents over Lot No. 1639-D is that of a holder and not in the concept of an owner. One who possesses as a mere holder acknowledges in another a superior right which he believes to be ownership, whether his belief be right or wrong. [if !supportFootnotes][41][endif] Since the possession of respondents were found to be that of lessors of petitioners, it goes without saying that the latter were in possession of Lot No. 1639-D in the concept of an owner from 1952 up to the time the present action was commenced. Msesm

Partition may be inferred from circumstances sufficiently strong to support the presumption. [if !supportFootnotes][42][endif] Thus, after a long possession in severalty, a deed of partition may be presumed. [if !supportFootnotes][43][endif] It has been held that recitals in deeds, possession and occupation of land, improvements made thereon for a long series of years, and acquiescence for 60 years, furnish sufficient evidence that there was an actual partition of land either by deed or by proceedings in the probate court, which had been lost and were not recorded. [if !supportFootnotes][44][endif] And where a tract of land held in common has been subdivided into lots, and one of the lots has long been known and called by the name of one of the tenants in common, and there is no evidence of any subsequent claim of a tenancy in common, it may fairly be inferred that there has been a partition and that such lot was set off to him whose name it bears. [if

!supportFootnotes][45][endif]

Respondents insist that the absence of any annotation in the certificate of title showing any partition of Lot No. 1639 and that OCT No. 6725 has not been canceled clearly indicate that no partition took place. The logic of this argument is that unless partition is shown in the title of the subject property, there can be no valid partition or that the annotation in the title is the sole evidence of partition. Esmso

Again, we are not persuaded. The purpose of registration is to notify and protect the interests of strangers to a given transaction, who may be ignorant thereof, but the non-registration of the deed evidencing such transaction does not relieve the parties thereto of their obligations thereunder. [if !supportFootnotes][46][endif] As originally conceived, registration is merely a species of notice. The act of registering a document is never necessary in order to give it legal effect as between the parties. [if !supportFootnotes][47][endif] Requirements for the recording of the instruments are designed to prevent frauds and to permit and require the public to act with the presumption that recorded instruments exist and

are genuine. [if !supportFootnotes][48][endif]

It must be noted that there was a prior oral partition in 1946. Although the oral agreement was merely tentative, the facts subsequent thereto all point to the confirmation of said oral partition. By virtue of that agreement, the parties took possession of specific portions of the subject lot. The action for partition was instituted because some of the co- owners refused to have separate titles issued in lieu of the original title. In 1952, an order for partition was issued by the cadastral court. There is no evidence that there has been any change in the possession of the parties. The only significant fact subsequent to the issuance of the order of partition in 1952 is that respondents rented portions of Lot No. 1639-D. It would be safe to conclude, therefore, that the oral partition as well as the order of partition in 1952 were the bases for the finding of actual partition among the parties. The legal consequences of the order of partition in 1952 having been discussed separately, we now deal with oral partition in 1946. Given that the oral partition was initially tentative, the actual possession of specific portions of Lot No. 1639 in accordance with the oral partition and the continuation of such possession for a very long period indicate the permanency and ratification of such oral partition. The validity of an oral partition is already well-settled. In Espina vs. Abaya, [if !supportFootnotes][49][endif] we

to each, recognize and enforce such parol partition and the rights of the parties thereunder. Thus, it has been held or stated in a number of cases involving an oral partition under which the parties went into possession, exercised acts of ownership, or otherwise partly performed the partition agreement, that equity will confirm such partition and in a proper case decree title in accordance with the possession in severalty.

In numerous cases it has been held or stated that parol partition may be sustained on the ground of estoppel of the parties to assert the rights of a tenant in common as to parts of land divided by parol partition as to which possession in severalty was taken and acts of individual ownership were exercised. And a court of equity will recognize the agreement and decree it to be valid and effectual for the purpose of concluding the right of the parties as between each other to hold their respective parts in severalty.

A parol partition may also be sustained on the ground that the parties thereto have acquiesced in and ratified the partition by taking possession in severalty, exercising acts of ownership with respect thereto, or otherwise recognizing the existence of the partition.

A number of cases have specifically applied the doctrine of part performance, or have stated that a part performance is necessary, to take a parol partition out of the operation of the statute of frauds. It has been held that where there was a partition in fact between tenants in common, and a part performance, a court of equity would have regard to enforce such partition agreed to by the parties. Esmsc

Two more points have constrained this Court to rule against respondents. First, respondents Wilfreda Maglucot-Alejo and Constancio Alejo offered to buy the share of Roberto Maglucot. Second, the tax declarations contain statements that the houses of respondents were built on the land owned by Roberto Maglucot. Esm

On the first point, petitioners presented Aida Maglucot who testified that after respondents were informed that petitioners were going to use Lot No. 1639-D belonging to Roberto Maglucot, respondents Wilfreda Maglucot-Alejo and Constancio Alejo went to the house of said witness and offered to buy the share of Roberto Maglucot. [if !supportFootnotes][52][endif] Aida Maglucot further testified that they refused the offer because they also intend to use the lot for a residential purpose. [if !supportFootnotes][53][endif] This testimony of Aida Maglucot is unrebutted by respondents, and the CA did not touch upon this finding of fact. Hence, the offer to buy has been established by the unrebutted evidence of the petitioners. Why would they give such offer if they claim to be at least a co -owner of the said lot? In effect, respondents impliedly admit the title of the petitioners and that they are not co -owners, much less the sole owners, of Lot No. 1639-D. Chief

On the second point, the existence of Tax Declaration No. 04 -557 in the names of Constancio Alejo and Godofreda Maglucot, [if !supportFootnotes][54][endif] Tax Declaration No. 04-87-13 in the names of Leopoldo Maglucot and Regina Barot, [if !supportFootnotes][55][endif] Tax Declaration No. 04-593 in the names of Severo Maglucot and Samni Posida [if !supportFootnotes][56][endif] showing that the houses of the above-mentioned persons are constructed on the land of Roberto Maglucot [if !supportFootnotes][57][endif] constitute incontrovertible evidence of admission by the same persons of the ownership of the land by Roberto Maglucot. Tax Declarations are public documents. Unless their veracity is directly attacked, the contents therein are presumed to be true and accurate. [if !supportFootnotes][58][endif] The lone testimony of Severo Maglucot that Roberto Maglucot was only made to appear as owner of the land in their respective declarations because he was the administrator of Lot No. 1639 is uncorroborated and not supported by any other evidence. Jksm

No injustice is dealt upon respondents because they are entitled to occupy a portion of Lot No. 1639, particularly Lot No. 1639-A, in their capacity as heirs of Tomas Maglucot, one of the original co-owners of Lot No. 1639 in accordance with the sketch plan of said lot showing the partition into six portions. [if !supportFootnotes][59][endif]

Finally, this Court takes notice of the language utilized by counsel for petitioners in their petition for review on certiorari. Thrice in the petition, counsel for petitioners made reference to the researcher of the CA. First, he alluded to the lack of scrutiny of the records and lack of study of the law "by the researcher." [if !supportFootnotes][60][endif] Second, he cited the researcher of the CA as having "sweepingly stated without reference to the record" [if !supportFootnotes][61][endif] that "[w]e have scanned the records on hand and found no evidence of any partition." Finally, counsel for petitioners assailed the CA decision, stating that "this will only show that there was no proper study of the case by the

researcher." [if !supportFootnotes][62][endif]

Any court when it renders a decision does so as an arm of the justice system and as an institution apart from the persons that comprise it. Decisions are rendered by the courts and not the persons or personnel that may participate

Villaflor vs. Sarita (308 SCRA 129)

Facts: Complainant filed a case for disbarment against respondent before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. The Commissioner assigned to investigate the case issued an order directing respondent to file his answer or comment to the complaint. The period of time alloted to answer the complaint lapsed without respondent submitting his comment. An order was issued requiring the parties to attend the hearing of the case but the respondent failed to appear. A notice of hearing was sent to respondent but again he failed to attend the proceeding. After giving the respondent enough opportunity to face the charges against him, which th e latter did not avail, the case was submitted for resolution.

Issue: Whether or not failure to obey notices from the IBP investigators constitutes an unethical act.

Held: Yes. As an officer of the court, it is the duty of a lawyer to uphold the dignity and authority of the court to which he owes fidelity, according to the oath he has taken. It is his foremost responsibility to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers. The highest form of respect to the judicial authority is shown by a lawyer’s obedience to court orders and processes.

G.R. No. 80390 March 27, 1998 CITY SHERIFF, ILIGAN CITY and SPOUSES ANGEL L. BAUTISTA and ANGELICA M. BAUTISTA, petitioners, vs. ALFARO FORTUNADO, EDITHA FORTUNADO, & NESTOR FORTUNADO, respondents.

MARTINEZ J.:

This petition for review on certiorari seeks to nullify the Order 1 dated January 24, 1986 of the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Branch V, in Civil Case No. 262, which reversed its earlier Decision 2 dated July 31, 1985 dismissing the complaint filed by respondents.

The facts are not disputed:

Respondents Alfaro, Editha and Nestor, all surnamed Fortunado, are the registered owners of two parcels of land covered by Transfer Certificates of Title No. 7-3041 and T-1929, both registered with the Register of Deeds of Iligan City. Said properties were mortgaged by Arsenio Lopez, Jr. on July 24, 1968 to the Traders Commercial Bank (now Traders Royal Bank) to secure a loan obligation in the amount of P370,000.00.

On January 6, 1971, respondents instituted an action before the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XVIII, against Arsenio Lopez, Jr. and Traders Royal Bank, among others, for annulment of mortgage. In said complaint, Traders Royal Bank interposed a counterclaim for foreclosure of the mortgage.

On August 24, 1973, the trial court rendered a decision 3 , the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment:

  • I. As Regards the Plaintiff's Complaint:

II. 1. Ordering the defendant Mariano Pascual to pay to the plaintiffs the amount of P24,550.00 plus legal interest from the filing of the complaint until fully paid and attorney's fees in the amount of P2,000.00 and to pay the costs. 2. Ordering the deed of real estate mortgage which is attached as Annex "B" of the complaint to be declared null and void and, ordering the Register of Deeds of Iligan City to cancel the said mortgage at the back of TCT No. T-1929, Book I, Page 8 and TCT No. T-3040, Book I, Page 96 of said Register of Deeds.

II. With Respect to the Cross-Claim and the Third-Party Complaint of Defendant Traders Commercial Bank:

  • 1. Ordering the spouses Arsenio Lopez, Jr. and Ofelia Lopez to pay the Traders Commercial Bank jointly and severally the amount of P578,025.23, inclusive of interest and other bank charges as of April 30, 1971, and, thereafter, plus all interest and bank charges until full payment is made and, to pay to the bank the amount of P20,000.00 as attorney's fees and the costs.

The bank 's counterclaim against the plaintiffs is hereby dismissed.

Likewise, the counterclaim of Mariano Pascual against the plaintiffs is also dismissed.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the trial court's decision, in this manner:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby modified by eliminating paragraph 2 of the dispositive portion of the decision of the lower court declaring the real estate mortgage in favor of the Traders Commercial Bank null and void. The decision is affirmed in all other respects. 4

On December 28, 1983, Traders Royal Bank assigned 5 its rights to the mortgage to petitioner Angel L. Bautista. By virtue of the said assignment, petitioner on March 19, 1984 wrote the City Sheriff of Iligan City requesting that the mortgaged properties be foreclosed for non-payment of the loan obligation. To thwart the pending foreclosure, respondents filed with the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Branch V, a complaint for cancellation of lien with preliminary injunction against petitioner, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 262.

After petitioner filed his answer, respondents moved for a summary judgment which was granted by the court. Consequently, on July 31, 1985, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing the complaint. In its decision, the trial court delved on the issue of prescription of a mortgage action.

Respondents moved for reconsideration arguing that since the principal loan has already been paid, the mortgage, which is an accessory contract, should likewise be extinguished.

auction sale of the property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-3041 (a.f.). The Register of Deeds of Iligan City is hereby further ordered to cancel Entry No. 451 on Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-3041 (a.f.) on file with his office. No pronouncement as to damages or attorney's fees. With costs against the defendants. SO ORDERED.

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which rendered a Resolution 6 on August 28,1987, forwarding the case to this Court for resolution reading thus:

Considering that opposing counsel left the resolution of Atty. Ramon Gonzales' motion to the sound discretion of this Court and considering the unrefuted allegation of the said motion that there were no documentary or testimonial evidence which were the basis of the questioned decision but mere admissions of the parties, the questions raised on appeal become mere questions of law, over which the Supreme Court has exclusive original jurisdiction. On December 29, 1987, petitioner filed this present petition for review contending that the trial court erred in modifying its earlier decision; in declaring that he has no right to foreclose the mortgaged property; in declaring the temporary restraining order into a permanent preliminary injunction and in ordering the Register of Deeds of Iligan City to cancel entry No. 451 on TCT No. 3041.

We gave due course to the petition and required the contending parties to submit their respective Memoranda on August 31, 1988.

On January 30, 1995, respondents, through counsel Ramon A. Gonzales, filed a verified Manifestation informing the Court that the subject real estate mortgage has already been released by the Traders Royal Bank on December 23, 1983 as shown in the certified true copy of the Release of Real Estate Mortgage, 7 and that the petitioner was killed in a robbery in his house. 8 Respondents therefore pray for the dismissal of the petition.

On February 20, 1995, this Court required petitioner's counsel Atty. Emilio Abrogena to comment on the said Manifestation. However, the copy of the resolution of the Court addressed to Atty. Abrogena was returned unclaimed after three notices, 9 with the postmaster's remark "moved." In view of this development, the Court considered the resolution as served. 10

Acting on the Manifestation of the respondents, we resolve to dismiss the petition for having been rendered moot and academic.

The resolution of the basic issue of whether or not the petitioner has the right to extra-judicially foreclose the mortgage is no longer necessary in view of the release of the mortgage as shown in the certified true copy thereof. No useful purpose would be served by passing on the merits of the petition. Any ruling in this case could hardly be of any practical or useful purpose in the premises. It is a well-settled rule that courts will not determine a moot question or abstract proposition nor express an opinion in a case in which no practical relief can be granted. 11 However, we take notice of the failure of petitioner's lawyer, Atty. Emilio Abrogena, to inform the trial court of the death of petitioner, a duty mandated by Section 16, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides in part, to wit:

Sec. 16. Death of party; duty of counsel. — Whenever a party to a pending action dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it shall be the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days af ter such death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and address of his legal representative or representatives. Failure of the counsel to comply with this duty shall be a ground for disciplinary action.

xxx xxx xxx

Hence, the proper substitution of the deceased in accordance with the aforequoted provisions of Rule 3 could not be effected.

We likewise note Atty. Abrogena's failure to inform this Court of his change of address which accounts for his failure to comment on the manifestation of respondents relative to the death of petitioner and the release of the subject real estate mortgage.

Atty. Abrogena should bear in mind that a lawyer is, first and foremost, an officer of the court. His duties to the court are more significant than those which he owes to his client. His first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice; to that end, his client's success is wholly subordinate; and his conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of the law and ethics of the profession. 12

VICTORIA AGUINALDO and SIMEONA AGUINALDO, plaintiffs-appellees, vs.

SEGUNDO AGUINALDO (deceased), PRIMO AGUINALDO and RUFINA AGUINALDO, defendants, CECILIO AGUINALDO, ANASTACIA AGUINALDO, SIMPLICIO AGUINALDO, DOMINGO AGUINALDO, and FELICITAS

BAGAWISAN, defendants-appellants.

FERNANDO, J.:

Any effort on the litigant to delay, if not to defeat, the enforcement of a final judgment, executory in character, by raising an objection that at best hardly rises to the level of a technicality is not likely to elicit the sympathy of this Court or any court for that matter. Yet, in effect, that is what the move taken by the defendants in his case amounted to. The lower court as was but proper did not lend its approval. Still undeterred, they would appeal. They ought to have known better. There is no reason to refuse affirmance to the order of the lower court complained of, appointing appellants as legal representatives of the deceased defendant and substituted in his place pursuant to the Rules of Court in order that the execution that ought that have taken place long since could at long last be effected. There is no dispute as to the antecedents. On January 14, 1965, the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch II through its clerk issued a writ of execution reciting that as far back as March 31, 1958, it rendered a decision in favor of plaintiffs, 1 now appellees, requiring one of the defendants therein, Segundo Aguinaldo, to reconvey one-fourth (¼) pro-indiviso of the property in litigation to appellees, and to pay the latter the amount of P300.00 yearly beginning with the year 1955. There was an appeal. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on May 23, 1965. It was further set forth therein that on January 5, 1965, a motion for its execution was granted. Hence the writ of execution. On February 13 of the same year, one Cecilio Aguinaldo filed an urgent ex parte manifestation and motion to quash such writ of execution based primarily on the allegation that defendant Segundo Aguinaldo died on August 7, 1959 during the pendency of such appeal. There was an opposition to such motion on February 25, 1965, inviting attention to Sec. 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court to the effect that in the event of the death of a party to a pending case, it is the duty of his attorney to give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian, or their legal representative and alleging that there was a failure on the part of the counsel to comply with the above provision. The prayer was for the denial of the motion of Cecilio Aguinaldo and for an order requiring counsel for the defendants to furnish the court the names as well as the residences of the heirs or the legal representatives of the deceased in order that they could be substituted in his stead so as not to render nugatory a decision, final and executory in character. On March 4, 1965, the lower court, then presided by the Hon. Ricardo C. Puno gave counsel of record up to March 22, 1965 within which to submit the name and residence of the executor, administrator, guardian or other legal representative of the deceased Segundo Aguinaldo. The aforesaid counsel in turn merely manifested on March 23, 1965 that he had ceased to be such as of May 31, 1956, and that such a pleading be considered sufficient compliance with the aforesaid order. Considering the turn of events, plaintiffs, in order that such a decision in their favor be not rendered nugatory by the above technicality, had no choice but to ask the court in a motion of April 7, 1965 to have the heirs of the deceased Segundo Aguinaldo, defendants Cecilio, Anastasia, Simplicio and Domingo, all bearing the surname of Aguinaldo being the legitimate children, and one Felicitas Bagawisan, a granddaughter, substituted as defendants. On October 5, 1965, the lower court, this time presided by Judge Andres Sta. Maria, granted the aforesaid motion and substituted defendants in place of the deceased Segundo Aguinaldo. Hence this appeal to the Court of Appeals, which in turn by resolution of February 17, 1969 certified the matter to this Court, the question involved being one of law. As noted at the outset, we find for appellees.

1. It would be the height of unreason to impute error to the lower court precisely for embodying in the order complained of what is set forth in the Rules of Court. Thus: "Whenever a party to a pending case dies, becomes incapacitated or incompetent, it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the court promptly of such death, incapacity or incompetency, and to give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other legal representative." 2 Had the defendant, thereafter deceased, seen to it that a new counsel was appointed, then upon his death there could be compliance with the above provision. To cause plaintiffs to suffer for such neglect of duty is to cast an underserved reflection on the law. It is equally vital to remember that the judgment had become final and the stage of execution reached. Defendants cannot be heard to allege that it is much too late now to apply the above rule. That would be to set at naught the principle consistently adhered to by this Court. It was succinctly put in Amor v. Jugo 3 in these words: "And with more compelling reason the respondent court cannot refuse to issue such writ, or quash it or order its stay, when the judgment had been reviewed and affirmed by an appellate court, for it cannot review or interfere with any matter decided on appeal, or give other or further relief, or assume supervisory jurisdiction to interpret or reverse the judgment of the higher court." 4 What was said by us in Li Kim Tho v. Sanchez 5 is worth recalling: "Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as they are to put an end to controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt to prolong them." 6 An excerpt from Villaflor v. Reyes 7 is equally relevant: "There should be a greater awareness on the part of litigants that the time of the judiciary, much more so of this Court, is too valuable to be wasted or frittered away by efforts, far from commendable, to evade the operation of a decision final

WHEREFORE, the order of October 5, 1965 is affirmed. This decision is immediately executory. Treble costs against defendants.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Makalintal, Zaldivar,. Castro, Teekankee, Barredo and Villamor, JJ., concur. Dizon and Makasiar, JJ., are on leave.

G.R. No. L-43757-58 July 30, 1976

REGINO GABRIEL and JAIME TAPEL, petitioners, vs.

THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. In re: Contempt citation against

Atty. Cornelio M. Orteza, respondent. R E S O L U T I O N

TEEHANKEE, J.:

In the Court's Resolution of June 11, 1976, the petition (filed on May 31, 1976) in the cases at bar for review of the Court of Appeals decision of November 28, 1975 which affirmed in toto the Manila court of first instance's judgment of September 27, 1968 convicting, after joint trial, the two petitioners accused of the crime of theft, was denied for lack of merit. The Court further noted therein that a first petition for the same purpose filed through another lawyer on March 6, 1976 had been previously denied and final judgment entered on May 10, 1976, and cited Atty. Cornelio M. Orteza who filed the second petition at bar for contempt and/or for disciplinary action, as follows:

Considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the petition for review on certiorari of the decision of

... the Court of Appeals, the Court Resolved to DENY the petition for lack of merit, a previous petition for review of the

same decision docketed as G.R. Nos. L- 43113-14 having filed by petitioners on March 6, 1976 thru Atty. Rodolfo D. Mapile and denied as per resolution of March 15, 1976 and entry of final judgment having been made on May 10, 1976. Atty. Cornelio M. Orteza is hereby required to SHOW CAUSE why he should not be held in contempt and/or disciplinary dealt with for filing a second petition on behalf of the same petitioners for review of the same decision of the Court of Appeals which was already previously denied with finality within ten (10) days from notice hereof.

Respondent Atty. Orteza still filed without leave of court on July 6, 1976 a motion for reconsideration of the Court's above-quoted resolution denying his petition for review and after having secured for the purpose an extension (on the ground of pressure of work) filed on July 12, 1976 his explanation.

The burden of both pleadings is that the first petition to set aside the Court of Appeals affirmance of petitioners conviction was a special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65, while the second petition was one for review under Rule 45. 1

The explanation is manifestly unsatisfactory. However zealous may be counsel's concern and belief in the alleged innocence of the petitioners, it is elementary that counsel may not split their appeal into one to set aside the appellate court's denial of petitioners appellants' motion for reconsideration of its decision affirming the trial court's judgment of conviction and/or for new trial (the first petition) and into another to set aside the appellate court's decision itself, which affirmed the trial court's conviction of the petitioners-appellants (the second petition).

Such filing of multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Court's processes and improper conduct that tends to impede obstruct and degrade the administration of justice and will be punished as contempt of court. 2 Needless to add, the lawyer who filed such multiple or repetitious petitions (which obviously delays the execution of a final and executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary action for incompetence (for not knowing any better or for willful violation of his duties as an attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts and to maintain only such actions as appear to him to be just and are consistent with truth and honor. 3

Thus in several instances in the past, the Court has admonished that (L)itigants and their counsels are warned under pain of contempt and disciplinary action that a party who has already failed to have a decision of the Court of Appeals set aside through a petition for review by certiorari with the denial of his petition (by the First Division to which such petitions for review are assigned under the Court's standing resolution of November 15, 1973) should not under the guise of a special civil action file a second petition for the same purpose of setting aside the same Court of Appeals' decision to be acted upon by the Second Division (to which special civil actions are assigned under the Court's resolution of November 15, 1973). and vice-versa, for such conduct would tend to trifle with the Court and impede, obstruct and impede the administration of justice". 4

Respondent Atty. Orteza is therefore adjudged guilty of contempt of court and is ordered to pay a fine of Five Hundred (P500.00) pesos with ten (10) days from notice hereof failing which, he shall be imprisoned for a period of (50) days. While further administrative action against him is herewith forborne, he is hereby warned that a future repetition or the same or similar incident will be dealt with more severely.

Petitioners' purported motion for reconsideration of the Court's resolution of June 11, 1976 denying their second petition is ordered expunged from the records as a sham motion, (as is the second petition itself), since the decision sought, to be reviewed has long become final and executory with the entry on May 10, 1976 of final judgment of denial of the first petition. Let copies hereof be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and attached to his