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[G. R. No. 128574.

September 18, 2002]


UNIVERSAL ROBINA SUGAR
TEVES, respondents.

MILLING

CORPORATION, petitioner,

vs.

HEIRS

OF

ANGEL

DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Andres Abanto owned two parcels of land situated in Campuyo, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental. One lot, consisting of
55,463 square meters, is registered in his name under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. H-37 of the Registry of
Deeds of said province. The other lot with an area of 193,789 square meters is unregistered. He died on February 16,
1973.[1]
On October 19, 1974, Andres Abanto's heirs executed an Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate of the Deceased
Andres Abanto and Simultaneous Sale. [2] In this document, Abanto's heirs adjudicated unto themselves the two lots and
sold the (a) unregistered lot of 193,789 square meters to the United Planters Sugar Milling Company, Inc. (UPSUMCO),
and (b) theregistered lot covered by TCT No. H-37 to Angel M. Teves, for a total sum of P115,000.00. The sale was not
registered.[3]
Out of respect for his uncle Ignacio Montenegro, who was UPSUMCO's founder and president, Teves verbally
allowed UPSUMCO to use the lot covered by TCT No. H-37 for pier and loading facilities, free of charge, subject to the
condition that UPSUMCO shall shoulder the payment of real property taxes and that its occupation shall be co-terminus
with its corporate existence.[4] UPSUMCO then built a guesthouse and pier facilities on the property.[5]
Years later, UPSUMCOs properties were acquired by the Philippine National Bank (PNB). Later, PNB transferred
the same properties to the Asset Privatization Trust (APT) which, in turn, sold the same to the Universal Robina Sugar
Milling Corporation (URSUMCO). URSUMCO then took possession of UPSUMCOs properties, including Teves' lot
covered by TCT No. H-37.
Upon learning of URSUMCO's acquisition of his lot, Teves formally asked the corporation to turn over to him
possession thereof or the corresponding rentals. He stated in his demand letters that he merely allowed UPSUMCO to
use his property until its corporate dissolution; and that it was not mortgaged by UPSUMCO with the PNB and, therefore,
not included among the foreclosed properties acquired by URSUMCO.[6]
URSUMCO refused to heed Teves' demand, claiming that it acquired the right to occupy the property from
UPSUMCO which purchased it from Andres Abanto; and that it was merely placed in the name of Angel Teves, as shown
by the Deed of Transfer and Waiver of Rights and Possession dated November 26, 1987. [7] Under this document,
UPSUMCO transferred to URSUMCO its application for agricultural and foreshore lease. The same document partly
states that the lands subject of the foreshore and agricultural lease applications are bounded on the north by the "titled
property of Andres Abanto bought by the transferor (UPSUMCO) but placed in the name of Angel Teves". URSUMCO
further claimed that it was UPSUMCO, not Teves, which has been paying the corresponding realty taxes.
Consequently, on June 18, 1992, Teves filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Dumaguete City, Branch 43, a
complaint for recovery of possession of real property with damages against URSUMCO, docketed as Civil Case No.
10235.
On September 4, 1992, Teves died[8] and was substituted by his heirs.[9]
On April 6, 1994, the RTC rendered its Decision [10] finding that URSUMCO has no personality to question the
validity of the sale of the property between the heirs of Andres Abanto and Angel Teves since it is not a party thereto; that
Teves' failure to have the sale registered with the Registry of Deeds would not vitiate his right of ownership, unless a third
party has acquired the land in good faith and for value and has registered the subsequent deed; that the list of properties
acquired by URSUMCO from the PNB does not include the disputed lot and, therefore, was not among those conveyed by
UPSUMCO to URSUMCO. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
"Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Declaring plaintiff (Teves) the owner of the parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. H-37
situated at Campuyo, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental and as such, is entitled to the possession of said land subject
to the provision of Article 448 of the New Civil Code. Accordingly, except where the immediate premises of

the guest house and pier are concerned, defendant (URSUMCO) is directed to vacate the remaining portion of
said property;
2. Declaring defendant as the owner of the guest house and pier and as a builder in good faith of said guest
house and pier;
3. Declaring plaintiff as entitled to the option under Article 448 of the New Civil Code, namely:
(a) To appropriate the guest house and pier as his own upon payment of indemnity under Articles 546 and
548 of the New Civil Code, or
(b) To oblige defendant to buy the land in question unless its value is considerably more than the
improvements (guest house and pier), in which case defendant shall pay reasonable rent.
4. Declaring defendant as entitled to retain possession of the guest house and pier until defendant is indemnified
of the useful and necessary expenses for the preservation of said improvements provided in Article 546 of
the New Civil Code and such other expenses for luxury as may be allowed under Article 548 of the same
Code in case plaintiff takes the option of appropriating for himself the improvements;
5. Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff reasonable attorneys fees in the amount of P15,000.00;
6. Dismissing all other claims for damages by plaintiff and the counterclaim for lack of merit; and
7. Ordering defendant to pay the costs of this suit.
SO ORDERED."
On appeal by URSUMCO, the Court of Appeals[11] affirmed the RTC decision, holding that the transaction between
Angel Teves and Andres Abanto's heirs is a contract of sale, not one to sell, because ownership was immediately conveyed
to the purchaser upon payment of P115,000.00. The Court of Appeals further held that Teves' failure to cause the
registration of the sale is not fatal since a contract of sale is perfected by mere consent of the contracting parties and has
the force of law between them. Besides, his failure to refer the case to the barangaycannot affect the jurisdiction already
acquired by the court over the subject matter and the person of "defendant-appellant" URSUMCO.
On October 29, 1996, URSUMCO filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Appellate Court in a
Resolution dated February 10, 1997.[12]
Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari [13] raising the following legal issues:
1. Whether the respondents have established a cause of action against petitioner;
2. Whether petitioner herein has the legal capacity to question the validity of the sale; and
3. Whether the complaint should have been dismissed for lack of barangay conciliation.
The petition is bereft of merit.
Petitioner URSUMCO contends that respondents have no cause of action because the Extrajudicial Settlement of
the Estate of the Deceased Andres Abanto and Simultaneous Sale is merely a promise to sell and not an absolute deed of
sale, hence, did not transfer ownership of the disputed lot to Angel Teves. Assuming that the document is a contract of
sale, the same is void for lack of consideration because the total price of P115,000.00 does not specifically refer to the lot
covered by TCT No. H-37, making the price uncertain. Furthermore, the transaction, being unregistered, does not bind
third parties.
Petitioner's contentions lack merit. As held by the RTC and the Court of Appeals, the transaction is not merely a
contract to sell but a contract of sale. In a contract of sale, title to the property passes to the vendee upon delivery of the
thing sold; while in a contract to sell, ownership is, by agreement, reserved in the vendor and is not to pass to the vendee
until full payment of the purchase price.[14] In the case at bar, the subject contract, duly notarized, provides: [15]
"EXTRA-JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED ANDRES ABANTO
AND SIMULTANEOUS SALE
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

That VICTORINA C. VDA. DE ABANTO, widow, and GUMERSINDA A. ABANTO-MALDO, married to Porferio
Maldo, both of legal age, Filipinos, and residents of Olimpia, Bais City, hereby freely and spontaneously
DECLARE AND MAKE MANIFEST THAT:
1. That they are the only legitimate heirs of the deceased Andres Abanto, being the surviving spouse and the legally
adopted daughter of the deceased Andres Abanto;
2. That the aforementioned deceased died on February 16, 1973 in the City of Bais, which was his residence at the time of
his death;
3. That said decedent died without leaving any will and without debts and his only surviving heirs are the aforementioned
Victorina C. Vda. de Abanto and Gumersinda A. Maldo;
4. That the deceased left as his estate and only real properties, certain parcels of land which are more particularly
described and founded as follows:
PARCEL ONE TCT NO. H-37
"A parcel of agricultural land, with the improvements thereon, containing an area of FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND FOUR
HUNDRED SIXTY THREE (55,463) SQUARE METERS MORE OR LESS, situated in barrio Campuyo, Manjuyod,
Negros Oriental and bounded on the Northeast by Taon Strait; on the South by the property claimed by Nazario Acabal;
on the west by North Bais Bay, public land and the properties claimed by Fortunato Acabal and Manuel Gonzales as
described in TCT No. H-37."
PARCEL TWO
"A parcel of unregistered land, together with the improvements, accessions and other interests over the said lot, situated at
barrio Campuyo, Municipality of Manjuyod, Province of Negros Oriental, containing an area of ONE HUNDRED
NINETY THREE THOUSAND, SEVEN HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE (193,789) square meters more or less, as described
on plan Psu. 123473 and as amended by PSU 07-01-000 and as declared under Tax Declaration No. 00589 and assessed in
said tax declaration for taxation purposes at P24,860.00"
5. That the parties herein have agreed as they hereby agree to adjudicate said parcels of land unto themselves in
accordance with Sec. 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court and to sell, transfer and convey for a total sum of ONE HUNDRED
FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P115,000.00) Philippine currency the above described properties in the following
manner to wit:
1. TO THE UNITED PLANTERS' SUGAR MILLING CO., INC., a domestic corporation duly organized and existing
under the laws of the Philippines, with residence and office address at Alangilanan, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental - That
parcel which is described as parcel two above;
2. TO ANGEL M. TEVES, of legal age, Filipino, married to Elena Teves, a resident of and with postal address at Bais
City - That parcel described as parcel one above.
In witness whereof, we have hereunto affixed our signatures this 19 th day of October 1974 at the City of Bais, Philippines.
(Sgd.)
VICTORINA C. VDA. DE ABANTO
Heir Vendor
(Sgd.)
GUMERSINDA ABANTO-MALDO
Heir Vendor
UNITED PLANTERS' SUGAR MILLING CO., INC.
Vendee

by:
(Sgd.)
IGNACIO VICENTE
President
(Sgd.)
ANGEL M. TEVES
Vendee
_______(Sgd.)______ witnesses ______(Sgd.)_______"
It is clear from the recitals of the above contract that it is an extrajudicial settlement of the estate of the deceased
Andres Abanto, and simultaneous sale of the properties described therein, including the subject lot. Clearly indicated
therein is that the Abanto heirs sold to Teves the lot covered by TCT No. H-37. There is no showing that the Abanto heirs
merely promised to sell the said lot to Teves.
That absolute ownership over the land (TCT No. H-37) was indeed transferred to Teves is further shown by his acts
subsequent to the execution of the contract. As found by the trial court, it was Teves, not Andres Abanto's heirs, who
allowed UPSUMCO to construct pier facilities and guesthouse on the land. When the property was erroneously included
among UPSUMCO's properties that were transferred to petitioner URSUMCO, it was Teves, not the heirs of Andres
Abanto, who informed petitioner that he owns the same and negotiated for an arrangement regarding its use. Teves even
furnished petitioner documents and letters[16] showing his ownership of the lot, such as a copy of the "Extrajudicial
Settlement of the Estate of the Deceased Andres Abanto and Simultaneous Sale" [17] and a certified true copy of TCT No.
H-37 covering the disputed lot.[18] Indeed, the trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly ruled that Teves purchased the
lot from the Abanto heirs, thus:
"1. That Angel Teves was the purchaser of the land in question covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. H-37 in an
Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate of Andres Abanto and Simultaneous Sale, dated October 19, 1974 (Exhibit "A"), more
particularly described as follows:
"A parcel of agricultural land, with the improvements thereon, containing an area of FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND FOUR
HUNDRED SIXTY THREE (55,463) SQUARE METERS MORE OR LESS, situated in barrio Campuyo, Manjuyod,
Negros Oriental and bounded on the Northeast by Taon Strait; on the South by the property claimed by Nazario Acabal;
on the west by North Bais Bay, Public land and the properties claimed by Fortunato Acabal and Manuel Gonzales as
described in TCT No. H-37."[19]
If we follow petitioner's posture that the transaction was only a contract to sell, ownership of the lot would have
remained with the Abanto heirs, not with UPSUMCO. Consequently, UPSUMCO would not have transferred any right
over the property to petitioner URSUMCO.
We are likewise unconvinced by petitioner's assertion that the price or consideration of the contract is not certain. In
a contract of sale, one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer the ownership of and to deliver a determinate
thing, and the other to pay therefor a price certain in money or its equivalent. [20] The subject of the sale embodied in the
Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate of the Deceased Andres Abanto and Simultaneous Sale consists of two parcels of
land. It is clear from the said instrument that the amount of P115,000.00 refers to the price for the two lots as a
whole. Thus, contrary to petitioner's claim, the price of the subject property is not uncertain.
That the contract of sale was not registered does not affect its validity. Being consensual in nature, it is binding
between the parties, the Abanto heirs and Teves. Article 1358 of the New Civil Code, which requires the embodiment of
certain contracts in a public instrument, is only for convenience, and the registration of the instrument would merely
affect third persons.[21] Formalities intended for greater efficacy or convenience or to bind third persons, if not done,
would not adversely affect the validity or enforceability of the contract between the contracting parties themselves.
[22]
Thus, by virtue of the valid sale, Angel Teves stepped into the shoes of the heirs of Andres Abanto and acquired all
their rights to the property.
Anent the second issue, petitioner contends that being an innocent purchaser for value of the lot and its current
possessor, it has the personality to assail the validity of the sale in question.

An innocent purchaser is one who acquired the property for a valuable consideration, not knowing that the title of the
vendor or grantor is null and void.[23] He is also one who buys the property of another without notice that some other
person has a right to, or interest in, such property and pays a full and fair price for the same, at the time of such purchase,
or before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other persons in the property. [24] The concept underscores two
important factors: (1) the property which is bought for consideration, and (2) the lack of knowledge or notice of adverse
claim or interest prior to the sale. Both factors are not present insofar as petitioner URSUMCO is concerned.
For one, petitioner acquired almost all of UPSUMCOS properties for a consideration but failed to prove that the lot
covered by TCT No. H - 37 was included therein. In fact, the lot was not among the properties acquired by petitioner
from the APT whose holdings were limited only to those UPSUMCO properties foreclosed by the PNB. Also, the Deed
of Transfer and Waiver of Rights and Possession shows that only the following properties and rights of UPSUMCO were
transferred to petitioner URSUMCO:[25]
1. The guest house and pier at Campuyo site in the Municipality of Manjuyod, Negros Oriental;
2. A parcel of land consisting of twenty five (25) hectares, more or less, leading to the Campuyo pier which is the subject
matter of UPSUMCO's agricultural lease application pending with the Bureau of Lands and Land District Officer,
Dumaguete City; and
3. Pending application for an industrial or foreshore lease of that portion of the adjacent government land approximately
270,000 square meters, later amended to be 16,000 square meters.
The foregoing list does not specifically include the subject lot. Admittedly, the same Deed of Transfer and Waiver
of Rights and Possession states that a titled property of Andres Abanto bought by the transferor (UPSUMCO) but placed
in the name of Angel Teves is on the northern boundary of the above-mentioned lands subject of the foreshore and
agricultural lease applications.[26] However, such description is insufficient to establish that the titled property is indeed
owned by UPSUMCO.
Petitioner cannot likewise assert that it has no adequate notice of any adverse claim over the lot in
controversy. Teves informed petitioner of his ownership and demanded that he be placed in possession thereof or, in the
alternative, that he be paid the corresponding rentals. Moreover, petitioner should have been sufficiently forewarned of a
probable anomaly or irregularity in the ownership of the subject lot, considering that it was registered not in the name of
UPSUMCO, but in the name of Andres Abanto. A purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable
man upon his guard, and then claim that he acted in good faith under the belief that there was no defect in the title of the
vendor.[27]
The petition having been stripped of these anchors, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals correctly ruled that
petitioner has no sufficient cause of action against Angel Teves, represented by herein respondents. Not being a party to
the contract of sale between Andres Abanto's heirs and Angel Teves, and not being a subsequent innocent purchaser for
value, petitioner cannot claim any right of possession over the land in question. Surely, petitioner is proscribed from
questioning Teves' ownership.
Regarding the third issue, suffice it to state that being a corporation, petitioner cannot be impleaded as a party to
a barangay conciliation proceeding. Section 1, Rule VI of theKatarungang Pambarangay Rules implementing
the Katarungang Pambarangay Law[28]provides:
"Section 1. Parties. - Only individuals shall be parties to these proceedings either as complainants or respondents. No
complaint by or against corporations, partnerships or other juridical entities shall be filed, received or acted upon."
(emphasis ours)
Incidentally, respondents, in their memorandum, pray that petitioner URSUMCO be declared a recalcitrant possessor
in bad faith and be held liable for damages in the following amounts: (1) P1,060,000.00 as actual damages; (2)
P100,000.00 as moral damages; and (3) P50,000.00 as exemplary damages.
We quote with approval the disquisition of the RTC, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, dismissing respondents' claim
for damages, thus:
"As to the damages claimed by plaintiff (Teves), the Court holds that he is not entitled to any of the damages claimed
considering that Article 448 of the Civil Code does not provide such remedy. Furthermore, there is no evidence showing
that defendant had made use of the land except with respect to the pier and guesthouse which defendant had validly
acquired from the United Planters Sugar Milling Company (Exhibit "3"). However, based on equitable considerations,
considering that plaintiff was compelled to litigate in view of the refusal of defendant despite demand by the plaintiff

(Exhibits "C", "D", "F", "G", "H") to pay rental for the use of the property in question, defendant should pay plaintiff
reasonable attorney's fees in the amount of P15,000.00."[29]
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 30, 1996
in CA-G.R. CV No. 46352 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-60367 September 30, 1982


ATTY. VENUSTIANO T. TAVORA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. ROSARIO R. VELOSO, in her capacity as the Presiding Judge of Branch III of the City Court of Manila,
and JULIETA CAPATI, respondents.

PLANA, J.:
Venustiano T. Tavora, a resident of Marikina, Metro Manila, owns an apartment in Quiapo, Manila which he has leased to
Julieta Capati, a resident of Quiapo. On account of alleged violations of the lease agreement by the lessee (unauthorized
subleasing and failure to pay rent), the lessor filed on January 12, 1981 an ejectment suit (Civil Case No. 060828) in the
City Court of Manila. The defendant filed a motion t/ dismiss on the sole ground of lack of jurisdiction for failure of the
plaintiff to bring the dispute first to the barangay court for possible amicable settlement under PD 1508. Parenthetically,
there is no question that there has been no attempt to amicably settle the dispute between Tavora and Capati at the
barangay level.
After denying the motion to dismiss as well as a subsequent motion for reconsideration, the municipal court reversed itself
and dismissed the ejectment case.

Alleging grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, petitioner Tavora has come to this Court on certiorari
and mandamus praying that the order of dismissal be set aside and that respondent judge be ordered to hear and decide the
case.
The sole issue raised is one of law: Under the given facts, is the respondent judge barred from taking cognizance of the
ejectment case pursuant to Sec-6 of PD 1508 establishing a system of amicably settling disputes at the barangay level?
The section reads:
SECTION 6. Conciliation, precondition to filing of complaint. No complaint, petition, action or
proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the Lupon as provided in Section 2 hereof shall be
filed or instituted in court or any other government office for adjudication unless there has been a
confrontation of the parties before the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat and no conciliation or settlement
has been reached as certified by the Lupon Secretary or the Pangkat Secretary, attested by the Lupon or
Pangkat Chairman, or unless the settlement has been repudiated ... (Emphasis supplied.)
For the above provision to be operative, the controversy must be within the jurisdiction of the Lupong Tagapayapa (Lupon
or Barangay court). On this point, the relevant provisions of PD 1508 are:
SECTION 2. Subject matters for amicable settlement. The Lupon of each barangay shall have
authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable
settlement of all disputes except:
(1) Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
(2) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his
official functions;
(3) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding 30 days, or a fine exceeding P200.00;
(4) Offenses where there is no private offended party;
(5) Such other classes of disputes which the Prime Minister may in the interest of justice determine, upon
recommendation of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Local Government.
SECTION 3. Venue. Disputes between or among persons actually residing in the same barangayshall
be brought for amicable settlement before the Lupon of said barangay. Those involving actual residents
of different barangays within the same city or municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the
respondent or any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of the complainant. However, all
disputes which involve real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the
real property or any part thereof is situated.
The Lupon shall have no authority over disputes:
(1) involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where
such barangays adjoin each other; and
(2) involving real property located in different municipalities. (Emphasis supplied.)
The foregoing provisions are quite clear. Section 2 specifies the conditions under which the Lupon of a barangay "shall
have authority" to bring together the disputants for amicable settlement of their dispute: The parties must be "actually
residing in the same city or municipality." At the same time, Section 3 while reiterating that the disputants must be
"actually residing in the same barangay" or in "different barangays within the same city or municipality unequivocably
declares that the Lupon shall have "no authority" over disputes "involving parties who actually reside in barangays
of different cities or municipalities," except where such barangays adjoin each other.
Thus, by express statutory inclusion and exclusion, the Lupon shall have no jurisdiction over disputes where the parties
are not actual residents of the same city or municipality, except where the barangays in which they actually reside adjoin
each other,
It is true that immediately after specifying the barangay whose Lupon shall take cognizance of a given dispute, Sec. 3 of
PD 1508 adds:

However, all disputes which involve real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay
where the real property or any part thereof is situated.
Actually, however, this added sentence is just an ordinary proviso and should operate as such. The operation of a proviso,
as a rule, should be limited to its normal function, which is to restrict or vary the operation of the principal clause, rather
than expand its scope, in the absence of a clear indication to the contrary.
The natural and appropriate office of a proviso is . . . to except something from the enacting clause; to
limit, restrict, or qualify the statute in whole or in part; or to exclude from the scope of the statute that
which otherwise would be within its terms. (73 Am Jur 2d 467.)
Therefore, the quoted proviso should simply be deemed to restrict or vary the rule on venue prescribed in the principal
clauses of the first paragraph of Section 3, thus: Although venue is generally determined by the residence of the parties,
disputes involving real property shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or any part thereof is situated,
notwithstanding that the parties reside elsewhere within the same city/municipality.
In the instant case, the plaintiff in the ejectment case (petitioner herein) is a resident of Marikina, while the defendant
(private respondent) is a resident of Quiapo. No Lupon therefore is authorized to take cognizance of their dispute.
Finding the petition to be meritorious, the dismissal of Civil Case No. 060828 (ejectment) by the respondent Judge being
predicated upon a misconstruction of PD 1508, the same should be granted. (Co Tiamco vs. Diaz, 75 Phil. 672.)
Accordingly, the assailed order of dismissal dated February 22, 1982 as well as the order dated March 23, 1982 denying
reconsideration thereof, are hereby set aside; and the respondent Judge is directed to hear and decide the aforesaid
ejectment case on its merits. Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 82211-12 March 21, 1989


TERESITA MONTOYA, petitioner,
vs.
TERESITA ESCAYO, JOY ESCAYO, AIDA GANANCIAL, MARY ANN CAPE, CECILIA
CORREJADO, ERLINDA PAYPON and ROSALIE VERDE, AND NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
COMMISSION, respondents.
SARMIENTO, J.:
This petition for certiorari seeks the annullment and setting aside of the resolution 1 9dated August 20, 1987 of the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), Third Division, which reversed and set aside the order dated September
27, 1985 of Labor Arbiter Ethelwoldo R. Ovejera of the NLRC's Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI, Bacolod City,
dismissing the complaint filed by the private respondents against the petitioner. This petition raises a singular issue, i.e.,

the applicability of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1508, more commonly known as the Katarungang Pambarangay Law,
to labor disputes.
The chronology of events leading to the present controversy is as follows:
The private respondents were all formerly employed as salesgirls in the petitioner's store, the "Terry's Dry Goods Store,"
in Bacolod City. On different dates, they separately filed complaints for the collection of sums of money against the
petitioner for alleged unpaid overtime pay, holiday pay, 13th month pay, ECOLA, and service leave pay: for violation of
the minimum wage law, illegal dismissal, and attorney's fees. The complaints, which were originally treated as separate
cases, were subsequently consolidated on account of the similarity in their nature. On August 1, 1984, the petitioneremployer moved (Annex "C" of Petition) for the dismissal of the complaints, claiming that among others, the private
respondents failed to refer the dispute to the Lupong Tagapayapa for possible settlement and to secure the certification
required from the Lupon Chairman prior to the filing of the cases with the Labor Arbiter. These actions were allegedly
violative of the provisions of P.D. No. 1508, which apply to the parties who are all residents of Bacolod City.
Acting favorably on the petitioner's motion, Labor Arbiter Ethelwoldo R. Ovejera, on September 27, 1985, ordered the
dismissal of the complaints. The private respondents sought the reversal of the Labor Arbiter's order before the respondent
NLRC. On August 20, 1987, the public respondent rendered the assailed resolution reversing the order of Ovejera, and
remanded the case to the Labor Arbiter for further proceedings. A motion for reconsideration was filed by the petitioner
but this was denied for lack of merit on October 28, 1987. Hence, this petition.
It is the petitioner's contention that the provisions of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law (P.D. No. 1508) relative to the
prior amicable settlement proceedings before the Lupong Tagapayapa as a jurisdictional requirement at the trial level
apply to labor cases. More particularly, the petitioner insists that the failure of the private respondents to first submit their
complaints for possible conciliation and amicable settlement in the proper barangay court in Bacolod City and to secure a
certification from the Lupon Chairman prior to their filing with the Labor Arbiter, divests the Labor Arbiter, as well as the
respondent Commission itself, of jurisdiction over these labor controversies and renders their judgments thereon null and
void.
On the other hand, the Solicitor General, as counsel for the public respondent NLRC, in his comment, strongly argues and
convincingly against the applicability of P.D. No. 1508 to labor cases.
We dismiss the petition for lack of merit, there being no satisfactory showing of any grave abuse of discretion committed
by the public respondent.
The provisions of P.D. No. 1508 requiring the submission of disputes before the barangay Lupong Tagapayapa prior to
their filing with the court or other government offices are not applicable to labor cases.
For a better understanding of the issue in this case, the provisions of P.D. No. 1508 invoked by the petitioner are quoted:
SEC. 6. Conciliation pre-condition to filing of complaint. No complaint, petition, action or proceeding
involving any matter within the authority of the Lupon as provided in Section 2 hereof shall be filed or
instituted in court or any other government office for adjudication unless there has been a confrontation of
the parties before the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat and no conciliation or settlement has been reached
as certified by the Lupon Secretary or the Pangkat Secretary, attested by the Lupon or Pangkat Chairman,
or unless the settlement has been repudiated. However, the parties may go directly to court in the
following cases:
(1) Where the accused is under detention;
(2) Where a person has otherwise been deprived of per sonal liberty calling for habeas corpus
proceedings;
(3) Actions coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary injunction, attachment, delivery of
personal property and support pendente lite; and
(4) Where the action may otherwise be barred by the Statute of Limitations.
As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General in his comment to the petition, even from the three "WHEREAS"
clauses of P.D. No. 1508 can be gleaned clearly the decree's intended applicability only to courts of justice, and not to
labor relations commissions or labor arbitrators' offices. The express reference to "judicial resources", to "courts of
justice", "court dockets", or simply to "courts" are significant. On the other band, there is no mention at all of labor
relations or controversies and labor arbiters or commissions in the clauses involved.

These "WHEREAS" clauses state:


WHEREAS, the perpetuation and official recognition of the time-honored tradition of amicably settling
disputes among family and barangay members at the barangay level without judicial resources would
promote the speedy administration of justice and implement the constitutional mandate to preserve and
develop Filipino culture and to strengthen the family as a basic social institution;
WHEREAS, the indiscriminate filing of cases in the courts of justice contributes heavily and unjustifiably
to the congestion of court dockets, thus causing a deterioration in the quality of justice;
WHEREAS, in order to help relieve the courts of such docket congestion and thereby enhance the quality
of Justice dispensed by the courts, it is deemed desirable to formally organize and institutionalize a
system of amicably settling disputes at the barangay level; (Emphasis supplied.)
In addition, Letter of Instructions No. 956 and Letter of Implementation No. 105, both issued on November 12, 1979 by
the former President in connection with the implementation of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law, affirm this conclusion.
These Letters were addressed only to the following officials: all judges of the Courts of first Instance, Circuit Criminal
Courts, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, Courts of Agrarian Relations, City Courts and Municipal Courts, and
all Fiscals and other Prosecuting Officers. These presidential issuances make clear that the only official directed to
oversee the implementation of the provisions of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law (P.D. No. 1508) are the then Minister
of Justice, the then Minister of Local Governments and Community Development, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court. If the contention of the petitioner were correct, the then Minister (now Secretary) of Labor and Employment would
have been included in the list, and the two presidential issuances also would have been addressed to the labor relations
officers, labor arbiters, and the members of the National Labor Relations Commission. Expressio unius est exclusio
alterius.
Nor can we accept the petitioner's contention that the "other government office" referred to in Section 6 of P.D. No. 1508
includes the Office of the Labor Arbiter and the Med-Arbiter. The declared concern of the Katarungan Pambarangay Law
is "to help relieve the courts of such docket congestion and thereby enhance the quality of justice dispensed by the courts."
Thus, the" other government office" mentioned in Section 6 of P.D. No. 1508 refers only to such offices as the Fiscal's
Office or, in localities where there is no fiscal, the Municipal Trial Courts, where complaints for crimes (such as those
punishable by imprisonment of not more than 30 days or a, fine of not more than P 200.00) falling under the jurisdiction
of the barangay court but which are not amicably settled, are subsequently filed for proper disposition.
But, the opinion of the Honorable Minister of Justice (Opinion No. 59, s. 1983) to the contrary notwithstanding, all doubts
on this score are dispelled by The Labor Code Of The Philippines (Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended) itself.
Article 226 thereof grants original and exclusive jurisdiction over the conciliation and mediation of disputes, grievances,
or problems in the regional offices of the Department of Labor and Employ- ment. It is the said Bureau and its divisions,
and not the barangay Lupong Tagapayapa, which are vested by law with originaland exclusive authority to conduct
conciliation and mediation proceedings on labor controversies before their endorsement to the appropriate Labor Arbiter
for adjudication. Article 226, previously adverted to is clear on this regard. It provides:
ART. 226. Bureau of Labor Relations.- The Bureau of Labor Relations and the Labor relations divisions
in the regional officer of the Department of Labor shall have original and exclusive authority to act, at
their own initiative or upon request of either or both parties, on all inter-union and intra-union conflicts,
and all disputes, grievances or problems arising from or affecting labor-management relations in all
workplaces whether agricultural or non-agricultural, except those arising from the implementation or
interpretation of collective bargaining agreements which shall be the subject of grievance procedure
and/or voluntary arbitration.
The Bureau shall have fifteen (15) working days to act on all labor cases, subject to extension by
agreement of the parties, after which the Bureau shall certify the cases to the appropriate Labor Arbiters.
The 15-working day deadline, however, shall not apply to cases involving deadlocks in collective
bargaining which the Bureau shall certify to the appropriate Labor Arbiters only after all possibilities of
voluntary settlement shall have been tried.
Requiring conciliation of labor disputes before the barangay courts would defeat the very salutary purposes of the law.
Instead of simplifying labor proceedings designed at expeditious settlement or referral to the proper court or office to
decide it finally, the position taken by the petitioner would only duplicate the conciliation proceedings and unduly delay
the disposition of the labor case. The fallacy of the petitioner's submission can readily be seen by following it to its logical
conclusion. For then, if the procedure suggested is complied with, the private respondent would have to lodge first their
complaint with the barangay court, and then if not settled there, they would have to go to the labor relations division at the
Regional Office of Region VI of the Department of Labor and Employment, in Bacolod City, for another round of

conciliation proceedings. Failing there, their long travail would continue to the Office of the Labor Arbiter, then to the
NLRC, and finally to us. This suggested procedure would destroy the salutary purposes of P.D. 1508 and of The Labor
Code Of The Philippines. And labor would then be given another unnecessary obstacle to hurdle. We reject the petitioner's
submission. It does violence to the constitutionally mandated policy of the State to afford full protection to labor. 2
Finally, it is already well-settled that the ordinary rules on procedure are merely suppletory in character vis-a-vis labor
disputes which are primarily governed by labor laws. 3 And "(A)ll doubts in the implementation and interpretation of this
Code (Labor), including its implementing rules and regulations, shall be resolved in favor of labor. 4
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 162084

June 28, 2005

APRIL MARTINEZ, FRITZ DANIEL MARTINEZ and MARIA OLIVIA MARTINEZ, petitioners,
vs.
RODOLFO G. MARTINEZ, respondent.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
59420 setting aside and reversing the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 30, in Civil
Case No. 00-96962 affirming, on appeal, the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Manila in Civil
Case No. 164761 (CV) for ejectment.
The Antecedents
The spouses Daniel P. Martinez, Sr. and Natividad de Guzman-Martinez were the owners of a parcel of land
identified as Lot 18-B-2 covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 54334, as well as the house
constructed thereon.2 On March 6, 1993, Daniel, Sr. executed a Last Will and Testament3 directing the
subdivision of the property into three lots, namely, Lots 18-B-2-A, 18-B-2-B and 18-B-2-C. He then bequeathed
the three lots to each of his sons, namely, Rodolfo, Manolo and Daniel, Jr.; Manolo was designated as the
administrator of the estate.
In May 1995, Daniel, Sr. suffered a stroke which resulted in the paralysis of the right side of his body. Natividad
died on October 26, 1996.4 Daniel, Sr. passed away on October 6, 1997.5
On September 16, 1998, Rodolfo found a deed of sale purportedly signed by his father on September 15, 1996,
where the latter appears to have sold Lot 18-B-2 to Manolo and his wife Lucila.6 He also discovered that TCT
No. 237936 was issued to the vendees based on the said deed of sale.7
Rodolfo filed a complaint8 for annulment of deed of sale and cancellation of TCT No. 237936 against his
brother Manolo and his sister-in-law Lucila before the RTC. He also filed a criminal complaint
for estafa through falsification of a public document in the Office of the City Prosecutor against Manolo, which
was elevated to the Department of Justice.9
On motion of the defendants, the RTC issued an Order10 on March 29, 1999, dismissing the complaint for
annulment of deed of sale on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the action since there was
no allegation in the complaint that the last will of Daniel Martinez, Sr. had been admitted to probate. Rodolfo
appealed the order to the CA.11
On October 4, 1999, Rodolfo filed a Petition with the RTC of Manila for the probate of the last will of the
deceased Daniel Martinez, Sr.12
In the meantime, the spouses Manolo and Lucila Martinez wrote Rodolfo, demanding that he vacate the
property. Rodolfo ignored the letter and refused to do so. This prompted the said spouses to file a complaint for
unlawful detainer against Rodolfo in the MTC of Manila. They alleged that they were the owners of the
property covered by TCT No. 237936, and that pursuant to Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1508, the matter was
referred to thebarangay for conciliation and settlement, but none was reached. They appended the certification
to file action executed by the barangay chairman to the complaint.
In his Answer13 to the complaint filed on October 11, 1999, Rodolfo alleged, inter alia, that the complaint failed
to state a condition precedent, namely, that earnest efforts for an amicable settlement of the matter between the
parties had been exerted, but that none was reached. He also pointed out that the dispute had not been referred
to the barangay before the complaint was filed.
On October 20, 1999, the spouses Martinez filed an Amended Complaint in which they alleged that earnest
efforts toward a settlement had been made, but that the same proved futile. Rodolfo filed his opposition thereto,
on the ground that there was no motion for the admission of the amended complaint. The trial court failed to act
on the matter.

The spouses Martinez alleged in their position paper that earnest efforts toward a compromise had been made
and/or exerted by them, but that the same proved futile.14 No amicable settlement was, likewise, reached by the
parties during the preliminary conference because of irreconcilable differences. The MTC was, thus, impelled to
terminate the conference.15
On February 21, 2000, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of the spouses Martinez. The fallo of the
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiff. The defendant, including any
person claiming right under him, is ordered:
1) To vacate the subject premises;
2) To pay plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 a month starting July 17, 1999, the date of last demand until he
vacates the same;
3) To pay the sum of P10,000.00 as and for attorneys fees; and
4) Costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.16
The trial court declared that the spouses Martinez had substantially complied with Article 151 of the Family
Code of the Philippines17 based on the allegations of the complaint and the appended certification to file action
issued by the barangay captain.
Rodolfo appealed the decision to the RTC. On May 31, 2000, the RTC rendered judgment affirming the
appealed decision. He then filed a petition for review of the decision with the CA, alleging that:
1. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND WITHOUT MERIT
THE DEFENSE OF PETITIONER THAT THERE IS NO ALLEGATION IN THE COMPLAINT THAT
PETITIONER HAS UNLAWFULLY WITHHELD POSSESSION OF THE PROPERTY FROM
RESPONDENTS A REQUIREMENT IN [AN] UNLAWFUL DETAINER SUIT.
2. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND THAT
PETITIONERS POSSESSION OF THE PROPERTY IS BY MERE TOLERANCE OF RESPONDENTS.
3. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND THAT THE
RESPONDENTS HAVE A CAUSE OF ACTION.
4. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH DID NOT RESOLVE THE
SIXTH ISSUE, TO WIT, "Whether or not this Court has jurisdiction over this case considering that the
allegations in the complaint makes out a case of accion publiciana."
5. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH HAS NO JURISDICTION
OVER THE CASE.
6. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND THAT THE
MANDATORY REQUIREMENT OF CONCILIATION HAS BEEN COMPLIED WITH.
7. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND THAT THERE WAS
SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE KATARUNGANG PAMBARANGAY LAW.
8. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND THAT THE
PENDENCY OF CIVIL CASE NO. 98-91147 AND SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS NO. 99-95281, INVOLVING
THE PETITIONER AND RESPONDENTS AND INVOLVING THE SAME PROPERTY DID NOT DIVEST
THE MTC OF AUTHORITY TO DECIDE THE CASE.

9. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH GRANTED THE RELIEF
PRAYED FOR BY THE RESPONDENTS.
10. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC.18
On November 27, 2003, the CA rendered judgment granting the petition and reversing the decision of the RTC.
The appellate court ruled that the spouses Martinez had failed to comply with Article 151 of the Family code.
The CA also held that the defect in their complaint before the MTC was not cured by the filing of an amended
complaint because the latter pleading was not admitted by the trial court.
Upon the denial of their motion for reconsideration of the said decision, the spouses Martinez filed the present
petition for review on certiorari, in which they raise the following issues:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE CERTIFICATION TO FILE ACTION AND THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE
COMPLAINT THAT THE CASE PASSED [THROUGH] THE BARANGAY BUT NO SETTLEMENT WAS
REACHED, ARE SUFFICIENT COMPLIANCE TO PROVE THAT, INDEED, EARNEST EFFORTS WERE,
IN FACT, MADE BUT THE SAME HAVE FAILED PRIOR TO THE FILING OF THE COMPLAINT.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FINDING
THAT THERE WAS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT PROVIDED FOR UNDER
ARTICLE 151 OF THE FAMILY CODE, CONSIDERING THAT ONE OF THE PARTIES TO A SUIT IN
THIS CASE IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE SAME FAMILY.19
The petitioners alleged that they substantially complied with Article 151 of the Family Code, since they alleged
the following in their original complaint:
2. In compliance with P.D. 1508, otherwise known as the "Katarungang Pambarangay," this case passed
[through] the Barangay and no settlement was forged between plaintiffs and defendant as a result of which
Certification to File Action was issued by Barangay 97, Zone 8, District I, Tondo, Manila. xxx" (Underscoring
supplied)20
Further, the petitioners averred, they alleged in their position paper that they had exerted earnest efforts towards
a compromise which proved futile. They also point out that the MTC resolved to terminate the preliminary
conference due to irreconcilable difference between the parties. Besides, even before they filed their original
complaint, animosity already existed between them and the respondent due to the latters filing of civil and
criminal cases against them; hence, the objective of an amicable settlement could not have been attained.
Moreover, under Article 150 of the Family Code, petitioner Lucila Martinez had no familial relations with the
respondent, being a mere sister-in-law. She was a stranger to the respondent; hence, there was no need for the
petitioners21 to comply with Article 151 of the Family Code.
The petition is meritorious.
Article 151 of the Family Code provides:
Art. 151. No suit between members of the same family shall prosper unless it should appear from the verified
complaint or petition that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that the same have failed. If
it is shown that no such efforts were, in fact, made, the case must be dismissed.
This rule shall not apply to cases which may not be the subject of compromise under the Civil Code.
The phrase "members of the family" must be construed in relation to Article 150 of the Family Code, to wit:
Art. 150. Family relations include those:
(1) Between husband and wife;

(2) Between parents and children;


(3) Among other ascendants and descendants; and
(4) Among brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood.
Article 151 of the Family code must be construed strictly, it being an exception to the general rule. Hence, a
sister-in-law or brother-in-law is not included in the enumeration.22
As pointed out by the Code Commission, it is difficult to imagine a sadder and more tragic spectacle than a
litigation between members of the same family. It is necessary that every effort should be made toward a
compromise before a litigation is allowed to breed hate and passion in the family and it is known that a lawsuit
between close relatives generates deeper bitterness than between strangers.23
Thus, a partys failure to comply with Article 151 of the Family Code before filing a complaint against a family
member would render such complaint premature.
In this case, the decision of the CA that the petitioners were mandated to comply with Article 151 of the Family
code and that they failed to do so is erroneous.
First. Petitioner Lucila Martinez, the respondents sister-in-law, was one of the plaintiffs in the MTC. The
petitioner is not a member of the same family as that of her deceased husband and the respondent:
As regards plaintiffs failure to seek a compromise, as an alleged obstacle to the present case, Art. 222 of our
Civil Code provides:
"No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the same family unless it should appear that earnest
efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that the same have failed, subject to the limitations in Article
2035."
It is noteworthy that the impediment arising from this provision applies to suits "filed or maintained
betweenmembers of the same family." This phrase, "members of the same family," should, however, be
construed in the light of Art. 217 of the same Code, pursuant to which:
"Family relations shall include those:
(1) Between husband and wife;
(2) Between parent and child;
(3) Among other ascendants and their descendants;
(4) Among brothers and sisters."
Mrs. Gayon is plaintiffs sister-in-law, whereas her children are his nephews and/or nieces. Inasmuch as none of
them is included in the enumeration contained in said Art. 217 which should be construed strictly, it being an
exception to the general rule and Silvestre Gayon must necessarily be excluded as party in the case at bar, it
follows that the same does not come within the purview of Art. 222, and plaintiffs failure to seek a compromise
before filing the complaint does not bar the same.24
Second. The petitioners were able to comply with the requirements of Article 151 of the Family Code because
they alleged in their complaint that they had initiated a proceeding against the respondent for unlawful detainer
in the Katarungang Pambarangay, in compliance with P.D. No. 1508; and that, after due proceedings, no
amicable settlement was arrived at, resulting in the barangay chairmans issuance of a certificate to file
action.25 The Court rules that such allegation in the complaint, as well as the certification to file action by
the barangay chairman, is sufficient compliance with article 151 of the Family Code. It bears stressing that
under Section 412(a) of Republic Act No. 7160, no complaint involving any matter within the authority of
the Lupon shall be instituted or filed directly in court for adjudication unless there has been a confrontation
between the parties and no settlement was reached.26

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 59420 is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Manila, as affirmed on appeal by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 30, in Civil Case No. 164761(CV)
is REINSTATED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
ESTELA L. BERBA,

G.R. No. 160032


Petitioner,
Present:

- versus -

PUNO, J., Chairman,


AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,
TINGA, and
CHICO-NAZARIO,* JJ.

JOSEPHINE PABLO and THE


Promulgated:
HEIRS OF CARLOS PALANCA,
Respondents.
November 11, 2005
x------------------------------------ --------------x
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Assailed before the Court on a petition for review on certiorari is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 73531, affirming the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila in Civil
Case No. 170639.
Estela L. Berba, a resident of 978 Maligaya Street, Malate, Manila, was the owner of a parcel of land
located at No. 2338 M. Roxas Street, Sta. Ana, Manila covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
63726. A house was constructed on the lot, which she leased to Josephine Pablo * and the Heirs of Carlos
Palanca sometime in 1976. The lease was covered by a lease contract. Upon its expiration, the lessees continued
leasing the house on a month-to-month basis.
By 1999, the monthly rental on the property was P3,450.00. The lessees failed to pay the rentals due,
and by May 1999, their arrears amounted to P81,818.00. Berba then filed a complaint for eviction and
collection of unpaid rentals only against Pablo in the Office of the Punong Barangay. On June 5, 1999, Berba
and Pablo executed an Agreement approved by the pangkat, as follows:
Ako si Josephine Pablo, naninirahan sa 2338 M. Roxas St., Sta. Ana, Manila, na
nasasakop ng Barangay 873, Zone 96, ay nangangako kay GG Robert Berba na nagmamay-ari
ng aking tinitirahan ay maghuhulog ng halagang Tatlong Libong Piso P3,000.00 kada ikasampu ng buwan bilang hulog sa aking pagkakautang kay GG Berba na umaabot sa
halagangP81,818.00 na ang nasabing halagang ito ay aking huhulugan hanggang aking
mabayaran ng buo ang aking pagkakautang. Ako rin, si Josephine Pablo, ay nangangako na
ang hindi ko pagsunod o pagbayad ng buwanang hulog, ako ay kusang aalis sa aking
tinitirahan. Bukod pa sa hulog sa aking pagkakautang, ako rin ay magbabayad ng
halagang P3,450.00 bilang aking upa sa aking tinitirahan.[3]
By May 2000, Pablo and the lessees still had a balance of P71,716.00. As of May 1, 2001, the total
arrearages of the lessees amounted to P135,115.63.[4] On May 2, 2001, Berba, through counsel, wrote the
lessees, demanding payment of the said amount and to vacate the house within 30 days from notice, otherwise
she will sue them.[5] The lessees ignored the demand. On June 21, 2001, Berba filed a complaint [6] against
Josephine Pablo and the Heirs of Carlos Palanca in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Manila for unlawful
detainer. She prayed that, after due proceedings, judgment be rendered in her favor:

WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed for that judgment be rendered in favor of


plaintiff ordering defendant (sic)
a)

to vacate the premises situated at 2338 M. Roxas Street, Sta. Ana, City of
Manila;
b) to pay plaintiff the sum of One Hundred Thirty-Five Thousand One Hundred
Fifteen and 63/100 Pesos (P135,115.63) representing monthly rentals in
arrears to the present;
c) to pay plaintiff the amount of Four Thousand Five Hundred Sixty-Two and
63/100 Pesos (P4,562.63) per month representing monthly rent on the
premises for the year 2001 until finality of the judgment;
d) to pay plaintiff the sum of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) by way of
attorneys fees;
e) to reimburse plaintiff all expenses for litigation estimated in the amount of
Ten Thousand Pesos;
f) to pay costs of suit.
Other reliefs just and equitable are, likewise, prayed for under the premises.[7]
Berba, however, failed to append to her complaint a certification from the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa that
no conciliation or settlement had been reached.
In their answer to the complaint, the defendants admitted to have stopped paying rentals because of
financial distress. They also alleged that they were not certain if the plaintiff was the owner of the property. By
way of special and affirmative defenses, they averred that the plaintiff had no cause of action against them as
she failed to secure a Certificate to File Action from the Lupon.[8]
During the pre-trial conference, the parties manifested to the court that, despite earnest efforts, no
amicable settlement was reached. They defined the main issue as whether or not the plaintiff had a valid cause
of action for unlawful detainer against the defendants.[9]
In her position paper, Berba appended an Agreement dated June 5, 1999 between her and Pablo, which
appeared to have been approved by Punong Barangay Cayetano L. Gonzales of Barangay 873, as well as other
members of the Lupon,[10] duly approved by the Pangkat. She also appended a Statement of Account indicating
that the defendants back rentals amounted to P135,115.63.[11]
In their position paper, the defendants insisted that the dispute did not go through the Lupon ng
Tagapamayapa prior to the filing of the complaint; hence, Berbas complaint was premature. They also averred
that the increase in the rental rates imposed by the plaintiff was unjustified and illegal.
In her reply, the plaintiff alleged that there was no more need for her to secure a Certificate to File
Action because she was a resident of No. 978 Maligaya Street, Malate, Manila, while the defendants were
residing in Barangay 873, Zone 6 in Sta. Ana, Manila.
On March 14, 2002, the MTC rendered judgment in favor of Berba. The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiff and ordering the defendants
and all persons claiming rights under them to vacate the premises at 2338 M. Roxas St., Sta. Ana,
Manila and restore possession thereof to the plaintiff. Ordering the defendant to pay the amount
of P135,115.63 representing monthly rentals since 1999 until December 2000. Ordering the
defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P4,562.63 per month beginning January 2001 and for
the succeeding months until finally vacated. Ordering the defendant to pay the reduced amount
of P10,000.00 as attorneys fees plus the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.[12]
The defendants appealed the decision to the RTC. On motion of the plaintiff, the RTC issued an order for
the execution of the decision pending appeal.[13] The defendants filed a motion for the recall of the Order,[14] but
before the court could resolve the motion, the Sheriff turned over the physical possession of the property to
Berba on May 20, 2002.[15]

In their Appeal Memorandum, Pablo and the heirs of Palanca insisted that Berbas action in the MTC was
premature because of the absence of Certificate to File Action issued by the Lupon. They also claimed that
Berba unlawfully increased the rentals for the house. [16] Berba, on the other hand, averred that there was no need
of a prior referral to the Lupon before filing her complaint. The petitioner cited Section 408(f) of the Local
Government Code, pointing out that she resided in a Barangay in Malate, 8 kilometers away
from Barangay 873 in Sta. Ana, where Pablo and the Palanca heirs resided.[17]
On August 20, 2002, the RTC rendered judgment granting the appeal and setting aside the appealed
decision. The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court a quo is ordered set aside. The complaint is also
ordered DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Writ of Execution issued by the Court a
quo pending appeal is also set aside.
SO ORDERED.[18]
The RTC ruled that under Section 408 of the Local Government Code, parties who reside in the same
city or municipality although in different barangays are mandated to go through conciliation proceedings in
the Lupon.[19] The court cited the rulings of this Court in Morata v. Go,[20] and Vda. de Borromeo v. Pogoy.[21]
Berba filed a motion for the reconsideration [22] of the decision, which the RTC denied in its Order[23] dated
October 2, 2002. She then elevated the case to the CA viapetition for review, where she averred:
a)

The raising of other affirmative defenses apart from the non-referral to the Barangay Court
by the respondents constitute a waiver of such requirement; and

b)

There was substantial compliance on the part of the petitioner with respect to referring her
complaint before the Barangay Court.[24]

Citing the ruling of this Court in Diu v. Court of Appeals,[25] Berba claimed that Section 408 of the Local
Government Code should be construed liberally together with Section 412. She further averred that she had
complied substantially with the requisites of the law, and recalls that conciliation proceedings before
the Lupon resulted in the execution of an Agreement on June 5, 1999. Upon failure to comply with the
agreement, all chances of amicable settlement were effectively foreclosed. Hence, Pablo and the Heirs of
Palanca were estopped from claiming that she failed to comply with the Local Government Codes requirement
of prior referral of their dispute to the Lupon.
After due proceedings, the CA rendered judgment dismissing the petition and affirming
the RTC decision. Berba moved for a reconsideration of the decision, which proved futile.
In the instant petition for review on certiorari, the petitioner alleges that:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO
CONSIDER THE DECISION OF THIS HONORABLE COURT IN THE CASE OF DIU VS.
COURT OF APPEALS (251 SCRA 478) AND IN DECLARING THAT THERE WAS NO
SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE MANDATE OF PD 1508 (NOW R.A. 7160)
WITH RESPECT TO PRIOR REFERRAL TO THE BARANGAY COURT, THEREBY
DECIDING THE CASE NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THE COURT.[26]
The petitioner avers that she is a sickly widow, in the twilight of her years, and whose only source of
income are the rentals generated from the property, which she also uses to pay her medical expenses. She avers
that the continued denial of her right to the fruits of the subject property is highly unjust and contrary to the
spirit behind the enactment of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1508.[27]
The petitioner also points out that, for her to pay obeisance to the decision of the CA, she would have to
go through the tedious, not to mention horrendous, process of going back to square one; that is, referring the
dispute to the barangay which, in all likelihood, would be rendered useless considering that respondents had
already been validly and effectively ejected from the leased premises. She would then have to go through the
rungs of the judicial ladder a second time to vindicate her trampled rights. She further claims that the CAs
affirmation of the RTC decision is equivalent to sanctioning a legal anomaly. She points out that the very
purpose of barangay conciliation is to abbreviate disputes between members of the same or

adjacent barangays to the end that their disputes will not reach the doors of the courts. Clearly, it does not
contemplate a protracted process as suggested by the RTC ruling and affirmed by the CA.[28]
In their comment on the petition, the respondents aver that the petitioner was estopped from relying on
the June 5, 1999 Agreement between her and respondent Josephine Pablo before the Lupon because the
respondent Heirs of Carlos Palanca were not parties thereto. The respondents maintained that the petitioner
must bear the blame for her failure to comply with the Local Government Code. At first, she insisted that there
was no need for prior referral of the dispute to the Lupon, claiming that she resided in abarangay other than
where the respondents resided. Thereafter, she made a volte face and invoked the June 5, 1999 Agreement
between her and respondent Josephine Pablo. Moreover, the respondents aver, the MTC had no jurisdiction over
the petitioners action for unlawful detainer because it was filed only on June 21, 2001, or more than one year
from June 5, 1999 when the petitioner and respondent Josephine Pablo executed the agreement. As such, the
action should be one for recovery of possession of property (accion publiciana).
On June 2, 2004, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to file
their respective memoranda.[29] The parties complied.
The Court rules that the CA cannot be faulted for affirming the decision of the RTC reversing the
decision of the MTC and ordering the dismissal of the complaint for unlawful detainer without prejudice.
The records show that petitioner and respondent Josephine Pablo executed an Agreement on June 5, 1999,
which was approved by the Lupon. Respondent Josephine Pablo did not repudiate the agreement; hence, such
agreement of the parties settling the case had the force and effect of a final judgment. As the Court declared
in Vidal v. Escueta,[30] the settlement of the parties may be enforced by the Lupon, through the punong
barangay, within six months; and if the settlement is not enforced after the lapse of said period, it may be
enforced by an action in the proper city or municipal court, as provided in Section 417 of the Local Government
Code:
We also agree that the Secretary of the Lupon is mandated to transmit the settlement to
the appropriate city or municipal court within the time frame under Section 418 of the LGC and
to furnish the parties and the Lupon Chairman with copies thereof. The amicable settlement
which is not repudiated within the period therefor may be enforced by execution by
the Luponthrough the Punong Barangay within a time line of six months, and if the settlement is
not so enforced by the Lupon after the lapse of said period, it may be enforced only by an action
in the proper city or municipal court as provided for in Section 417 of the LGC of 1991, as
amended, which reads:
SEC. 417. Execution. The amicable settlement or arbitration award may be
enforced by execution by the Lupon within six (6) months from the date of the
settlement. After the lapse of such time, the settlement may be enforced by action in the
proper city or municipal court. (Italics supplied).
Section 417 of the Local Government Code provides a mechanism for the enforcement of
a settlement of the parties before the Lupon. It provides for a two-tiered mode of enforcement of
an amicable settlement executed by the parties before the Lupon, namely, (a) by execution of
the Punong Barangay which is quasi-judicial and summary in nature on mere motion of the
party/parties entitled thereto; and (b) by an action in regular form, which remedy is judicial.
Under the first remedy, the proceedings are covered by the LGC and the Katarungang
Pambarangay Implementing Rules and Regulations. The Punong Barangay is called upon
during the hearing to determine solely the fact of non-compliance of the terms of the settlement
and to give the defaulting party another chance at voluntarily complying with his obligation
under the settlement. Under the second remedy, the proceedings are governed by the Rules of
Court, as amended. The cause of action is the amicable settlement itself, which, by operation of
law, has the force and effect of a final judgment.
Section 417 of the LGC grants a period of six months to enforce the amicable settlement
by the Lupon through the Punong Barangay before such party may resort to filing an action with
the MTC to enforce the settlement. The raison detre of the law is to afford the parties during
the six-month time line, a simple, speedy and less expensive enforcement of their settlement
before the Lupon.[31]

In the present case, respondent Josephine Pablo failed to comply with her obligation of repaying the back
rentals of P81,818.00 and the current rentals for the house. Hence, the petitioner had the right to enforce the
Agreement against her and move for her eviction from the premises. However, instead of filing a motion before
the Lupon for the enforcement of the agreement, or (after six months), an action in the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MTC) for the enforcement of the settlement, the petitioner filed an action against respondent Josephine Pablo
for unlawful detainer and the collection of unpaid rentals, inclusive of those already due before the June 5, 1999
Agreement was executed. The action of the petitioner against respondent Pablo was barred by the Agreement of
June 5, 1999.
The Court notes that the petitioner even submitted with the MTC a copy of her June 5, 1999 Agreement
with respondent Josephine Pablo. Instead of dismissing the complaint as against such respondent, the MTC
rendered judgment against her and ordered her eviction from the leased premises.
The Court thus rules that the petitioners complaint against respondent Heirs of Carlos Palanca was
premature. It bears stressing that they were not impleaded by the petitioner as parties-respondents before
the Lupon. The petitioner filed her complaint solely against respondent Josephine Pablo. Moreover, the said
respondent heirs were not privy to the said agreement, and, as such, were not bound by it. Section 412 of the
Local Government Code, sets forth the precondition to filing of complaints in court, to wit:
SEC. 412 Conciliation.- (a) Pre-condition to filing of complaint in court. No complaint,
petition, action, or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the lupon shall be
filed or instituted directly in court or any other government office for adjudication, unless there
has been a confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that
no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon secretary
or pangkat secretary as attested to by the lupon chairman or pangkat chairman or unless the
settlement has been repudiated by the parties thereto.
(b) Where parties may go directly to court. The parties may go directly to court in the
following instances:
(1) Where the accused is under detention;
(2) Where a person has otherwise been deprived of personal liberty calling for habeas
corpus proceedings;
(3) Where actions are coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary injunction,
attachment, delivery of personal property, and support pendente lite; and
(4) Where the action may otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.
(c) Conciliation among members of indigenous cultural communities. The customs and
traditions of indigenous cultural communities shall be applied in settling disputes between
members of the cultural communities.
Under Sec. 408 of the same Code, parties actually residing in the same city or municipality are bound to
submit their disputes to the Lupon for conciliation/amicable settlement, unless otherwise provided therein:
SEC. 408. Subject Matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception Thereto. The lupon of
each barangay shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city
or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes except:
(a)

Where one party is the government or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;

(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the
performance of his official functions;
(c) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding
Five Thousand pesos (P5,000.00);
(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;

(e) Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities or municipalities
unless the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an
appropriate lupon;
(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or
municipalities, except where such barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree
to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(g) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of
justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice.
The court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the lupon under
this Code are filed may, at any time before trial, motu proprio refer the case to
the luponconcerned for amicable settlement.
If the complainant/plaintiff fails to comply with the requirements of the Local Government Code, such
complaint filed with the court may be dismissed for failure to exhaust all administrative remedies.[32]
The petitioners reliance on the ruling of this Court in Diu v. Court of Appeals[33] is misplaced. In that
case, there was a confrontation by the parties before the BarangayChairman and no agreement was reached.
Although no pangkat was formed, the Court held in that instance that there was substantial compliance with the
law. In any event, the issue in that case was whether the failure to specifically allege that there was no
compliance with the barangay conciliation procedure constitutes a waiver of that defense. Moreover, no such
confrontation before the Lupon occurred with respect to the unlawful detainer suit against Josephine Pablo
before the MTC.[34]
In this case, the petitioner and the respondent Heirs of Carlos Palanca resided in the City of
Manila, albeit in different barangays. The dispute between the petitioner and the respondent heirs was thus a
matter within the authority of the Lupon. Hence, the petitioners complaint for unlawful detainer and the
collection of back rentals should have been first filed before the Lupon for mandatory conciliation, to afford the
parties an opportunity to settle the case amicably. However, the petitioner filed her complaint against the
respondent Heirs of Carlos Palanca directly with the MTC. Clearly then, her complaint was premature. The
execution of the June 5, 1999 Agreement between petitioner and respondent Josephine Pablo does not amount
to substantial compliance to the requirements of the Local Government Code on
mandatory barangay conciliation proceedings.
Indeed, considering that the MTC had already rendered a decision on the merits of the case, it is not
without reluctance that the Court reaches this conclusion which would require the petitioner to start again from
the beginning. The facts of the present case, however, do not leave us any choice. To grant the petition under
these circumstances would amount to refusal to give effect to the Local Government Code and to wiping it off
the statute books insofar as ejectment and other cases governed by the Rule on Summary Procedure are
concerned. This Court has no authority to do that.[35]
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Petition is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 146195

November 18, 2004

AVELINA ZAMORA, EMERITA ZAMORA-NICOL, SONNY NICOL, TERESA ZAMORA-UMALI,


CLARENCE UMALI, ROBERTO ZAMORA, ROLANDO ZAMORA, MARY ANN ZAMORA,
MICHELLE ZAMORA and RODRIGO ZAMORA, petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS of CARMEN IZQUIERDO, represented by their attorney-in-fact, ANITA F.
PUNZALAN, respondents.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals dated September
12, 2000 and its Resolution dated December 1, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 54541, entitled "Avelina Zamora, et al.,
petitioners, versus Heirs of Carmen Izquierdo, represented by the executrix, Anita F. Punzalan, respondents."
The records show that sometime in 1973, Carmen Izquierdo and Pablo Zamora entered into a verbal stipulation
whereby the former leased to the latter one of her apartment units located at 117-B General Luna Street,
Caloocan City. They agreed on the following: the rental is P3,000.00 per month; the leased premises is only for
residence; and only a single family is allowed to occupy it.
After the death of Carmen (lessor) in 1996 her attorney-in-fact, Anita Punzalan, representing the heirs, herein
respondents, prepared a new contract of lease wherein the rental was increased from P3,000.00 to P3,600.00 per
month.3 However, petitioners refused to sign it.
In January 1997, Pablo (lessee) died. His wife, Avelina Zamora, and their children (two of whom have their own
families), herein petitioners, continued to reside in the apartment unit. However, they refused to pay the
increased rental and persisted in operating a photocopying business in the same apartment.
Meanwhile, petitioner Avelina Zamora applied with the Metropolitan Waterworks & Sewerage System (MWSS)
for a water line installation in the premises. Since a written consent from the owner is required for such
installation, she requested respondents' attorney-in-fact to issue it. However, the latter declined because
petitioners refused to pay the new rental rate and violated the restrictions on the use of the premises by using a
portion thereof for photocopying business and allowing three families to reside therein.
This prompted petitioner Avelina Zamora to file with the Office of the Punong Barangay of Barangay 16, Sona
2, District I, Lungsod ng Caloocan, a complaint against Anita Punzalan (respondents' attorney-in-fact), docketed
as "Usaping Bgy. Blg. 1-27-97, Ukol sa: Hindi Pagbibigay ng Pahintulot sa Pagpapakabit ng Tubig."
On August 24, 1997, during the barangay conciliation proceedings, petitioner Avelina Zamora declared that she
refused to sign the new lease contract because she is not agreeable with the conditions specified therein.
The following day, Anita Punzalan sent Avelina a letter4 informing her that the lease is being terminated and
demanding that petitioners vacate the premises within 30 days from notice.
Despite several barangay conciliation sessions, the parties failed to settle their dispute amicably. Hence, the
Barangay Chairman issued a Certification to File Action dated September 14, 1997.5
Consequently, on October 2, 1997, respondents, represented by Anita Punzalan, filed with the Metropolitan
Trial Court (MTC), Branch 49, Caloocan City, a complaint for unlawful detainer and damages against
petitioners, docketed as Civil Case No. 23702.6 Forthwith, petitioners filed a motion to dismiss7 the complaint
on the ground that the controversy was not referred to the barangay for conciliation. First, they alleged that the

barangay Certification to File Action "is fatally defective" because it pertains to another dispute, i.e., the refusal
by respondents' attorney-in-fact to give her written consent to petitioners' request for installation of water
facilities in the premises. And, second, when the parties failed to reach an amicable settlement before the
Lupong Tagapamayapa, the Punong Barangay (as Lupon Chairman), did not constitute the Pangkat ng
Tagapagkasundo before whom mediation or arbitration proceedings should have been conducted, in violation of
Section 410(b), Chapter 7 (Katarungang Pambarangay), Title One, Book III of Republic Act No.
71608 (otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991), which reads:
"SECTION 410. Procedure for Amicable Settlement.
(a) x x x
(b) Mediation by lupon chairman Upon receipt of the complaint, the lupon chairman9 shall, within the
next working day, summon the respondent(s), with notice to the complainant(s) for them and their
witnesses to appear before him for a mediation of their conflicting interests. If he fails in his mediation
effort within fifteen (15) days from the first meeting of the parties before him, he shall forthwith set a
date for the constitution of the pangkat in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter."
(Underscoring supplied)
Respondents opposed the motion to dismiss,10 the same being prohibited under Section 19 of the 1991 Revised
Rule on Summary Procedure. They prayed that judgment be rendered as may be warranted by the facts alleged
in the complaint, pursuant to Section 611 of the same Rule.
On July 9, 1998, the MTC issued an Order12 denying petitioners' motion to dismiss and considering the case
submitted for decision in view of their failure to file their answer to the complaint.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration,13 contending that a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground
of failure to refer the complaint to the Lupon for conciliation is allowed under Section 19 of the 1991 Revised
Rule on Summary Procedure, which partly provides:
"SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. The following pleadings, motions, or petitions shall not
be allowed in the cases covered by this Rule:
(a) Motion to dismiss the complaint or to quash the complaint or information except on the ground of
lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, or failure to comply with the preceding section [referring to
Section 18 on referral of the complaint to the Lupon for conciliation];
x x x."
On August 26, 1998, the MTC rendered a Judgment14 in favor of respondents and against petitioners, the
dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants,
ordering defendants and all persons claiming right under them:
1) To vacate the leased premises located at No. 117-B General Luna Street, Caloocan City and to
surrender possession thereof to the plaintiff;
2) To pay the amount of three thousand six hundred (P3,600.00) pesos per month starting
January, 1997 until the premises being occupied by them is finally vacated and possession
thereof is restored to the plaintiff;
3) To pay plaintiff the sum of five thousand (P5,000.00) pesos as and for attorney's fees; and
4) To pay the costs of this suit.
SO ORDERED."
On appeal, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 125, Caloocan City, rendered its Decision15 dated February
15, 1999 affirming the MTC Judgment. Subsequently, it denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration.16

Petitioners then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 54541. On
September 12, 2000, it rendered a Decision17 affirming the RTC Decision.
Thereafter, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Appellate Court in its Resolution
dated December 1, 2000.18
Hence, the instant petition.
I
The primordial objective of Presidential Decree No. 1508 (the Katarungang Pambarangay Law), now included
under R.A. No. 7160 (the Local Government Code of 1991), is to reduce the number of court litigations and
prevent the deterioration of the quality of justice which has been brought about by the indiscriminate filing of
cases in the courts.19 To attain this objective, Section 412(a) of R.A. No. 7160 requires the parties to undergo a
conciliation process before the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat as a precondition to filing a complaint in court,
thus:
"SECTION 412. Conciliation. (a) Pre-condition to Filing of Complaint in Court. No complaint,
petition, action, or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the lupon shall be filed or
instituted directly in court or any other government office for adjudication, unless there has been a
confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or
settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon or pangkat secretary and attested to by the lupon or
pangkat chairman x x x." (Underscoring supplied)
In the case at bar, the Punong Barangay, as Chairman of the Lupong Tagapamayapa, conducted conciliation
proceedings to resolve the dispute between the parties herein. Contrary to petitioners' contention, the complaint
does not only allege, as a cause of action, the refusal of respondents' attorney-in-fact to give her consent to the
installation of water facilities in the premises, but also petitioners' violation of the terms of the lease,
specifically their use of a portion therein for their photocopying business and their failure to pay the increased
rental. As correctly found by the RTC:
"The records show that confrontations before the barangay chairman were held on January 26, 1997,
February 9, 1997, February 23, 1997, February 28, 1997, July 27, 1997, August 3, 1997, August 10,
1997, August 17, 1997 and August 24, 1997 wherein not only the issue of water installation was
discussed but also the terms of the lease and the proposed execution of a written contract relative
thereto. It appears, however, that no settlement was reached despite a total of nine meetings at the
barangay level.
It is of no moment that the complaint was initially made by defendant-appellant Avelina Zamora because
herein plaintiff-appellee was given by the Sangguniang Barangay the authority to bring her grievance to
the Court for resolution. While it is true that the Sertifikasyon dated September 14, 1997 is entitled 'Ukol
Sa Hindi Pagbibigay Ng Pahintulot Sa Pagpapakabit Ng Tubig', this title must not prevail over the actual
issues discussed in the proceedings.
Hence, to require another confrontation at the barangay level as a sine qua non for the filing of the
instant case would not serve any useful purpose anymore since no new issues would be raised therein
and the parties have proven so many times in the past that they cannot get to settle their differences
amicably."20
We cannot sustain petitioners' contention that the Lupon conciliation alone, without the proceeding before the
Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo, contravenes the law on Katarungang Pambarangay. Section 412(a) of R.A. No.
7160, quoted earlier, clearly provides that, as a precondition to filing a complaint in court, the parties shall go
through the conciliation process either before the Lupon Chairman (as what happened in the present case), or
the Pangkat.
Moreover, in Diu vs. Court of Appeals,21 we held that "notwithstanding the mandate in Section 410(b) of R.A.
No. 7160 that the Barangay Chairman shall constitute a Pangkat if he fails in his mediation efforts," the same
"Section 410(b) should be construed together with Section 412(a) of the same law (quoted earlier), as well as
the circumstances obtaining in and peculiar to the case." Here, while the Pangkat was not constituted, however,
the parties met nine (9) times at the Office of the Barangay Chairman for conciliation wherein not only the issue
of water installation was discussed but also petitioners' violation of the lease contract. It is thus manifest that
there was substantial compliance with the law which does not require strict adherence thereto.22

II
We hold that petitioners' motion to dismiss the complaint for unlawful detainer is proscribed by Section 19(a) of
the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, quoted earlier. Section 19(a) permits the filing of such pleading
only when the ground for dismissal of the complaint is anchored on lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter,
or failure by the complainant to refer the subject matter of his/her complaint "to the Lupon for conciliation"
prior to its filing with the court. This is clear from the provisions of Section 18 of the same Rule, which reads:
"SEC. 18. Referral to Lupon. Cases requiring referral to the Lupon for conciliation under the
provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1508 where there is no showing of compliance with such
requirement, shall be dismissed without prejudice, and may be revived only after such requirement shall
have been complied with. This provision shall not apply to criminal cases where the accused was
arrested without a warrant." (Underscoring supplied)
As discussed earlier, the case was referred to the Lupon Chairman for conciliation. Obviously, petitioners'
motion to dismiss, even if allowed, is bereft of merit.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 54541 sustaining the Decision of the RTC which upheld the MTC Judgment is AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

DANTE
M.
PASCUAL,
represented by REYMEL R.
SAGARIO,
Petitioner,

-versus-

G.R. No. 157830


Present:
PANGANIBAN, Chairman,
SANDOVAL- GUTIERREZ,*
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES, and
GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated:

MARILOU M. PASCUAL,
Respondent.

November 17, 2005

x-------------------------------------------------- ---------------x
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
On challenge via Petition for Review on Certiorari is the February 10, 2003 Order of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Isabela, Branch 23 at Roxas dismissing, on motion of herein respondent Marilou M. Pascual,
the complaint filed against her by her brother-herein petitioner Dante M. Pascual, represented by his attorneyin-fact Reymel R. Sagario (Sagario), for non-compliance with the conciliation provision-pre condition to filing
of complaint in court under R.A. 7160 (the Local Government Code).
Petitioner, a permanent resident of the United States of America, appointed Sagario as his attorney-in-fact
by a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) dated April 10, 2002:
1. To file a case for the cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-271656 issued
in the name of Marilou M. Pascual as well as the Deed of Sale of Registered Land (Dec. No.
639; Page No. 52; Book No. XXI; Series of 1994) and/or Reconveyance at the appropriate
court;
2. To collect the monthly rentals from the tenant;
3. To enter into amicable settlement with Marilou M. Pascual or any other mode of
payment/and/or dispute resolution;
4. To execute and sign any and all papers, contracts/documents which may be necessary
relative to the above acts.
x x x[1]
Pursuant to the SPA, Sagario filed on October 14, 2002 before the Isabela RTC at Roxas a complaint
entitled Dante M. Pascual, plaintiff v. Marilou M. Pascual and Register of Deeds, Defendants, docketed as
Civil Case No. Br. 23-713-02, for Annulment of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-271657 of Isabela and Deed
of Absolute Sale of Registered Land and/or Reconveyance with Damages.[2]
To the Complaint the defendant-herein respondent Marilou M. Pascual filed a Motion to Dismiss [3] on two
grounds one of which was non-compliance with the requirement under Section 412 of the Local Government
Code,[4] she contending that there is no showing that the dispute was referred to the barangay court before the
case was filed in court.

By the assailed Order of February 10, 2003, [5] Branch 23 of the Isabela RTC at Roxas granted
respondents Motion to Dismiss in this wise:
. . . RA 7160 repealing P.D. 1508 otherwise known as the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay
provides under Section 409 All disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be
brought in the barangay where the real property or the larger portion thereof is situated. Hence,
the reliance of the plaintiff on Section 408 of R.A. 7160 is incorrect. When real property or any
interest therein is involved, the dispute shall be filed before the barangay where the property is
located, regardless of the residence of the parties. Besides, it is incorrect to say that the parties
are not residents of the same place, Vira, Roxas, Isabela. The Attorney-in-fact of the plaintiff
in the person of Reymel R. Sagario is a resident of Vira, Roxas, Isabela, and he
substitute(sic) Dante Pascual by virtue of said Special Power of Attorney. Hence, said
Attorney-in-fact should have brought the dispute before barangay Vira, Roxas, Isabela, where the
property is located. In the case of Royales vs. Intermediate Appellate Court 127 SCRA 470,
Ordinarily, non-compliance with the condition precedent prescribed by P.D. 1508 could affect
the sufficiency of the plaintiffs cause of action and make his complaint vulnerable to dismissal
on ground of lack of cause of action or prematurity.[6] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration [7] of the above-said order was denied by Order of March 24,
2003:[8]
xxx
Consequently, the Court is [of] the opinion that the said Attorney-in-fact shall be
deemed to be the real party in interest, reading from the tenor of the provisions of the Special
Power of Attorney. Being a real party in interest, the Attorney-in-fact is therefore obliged to
bring this case first before the Barangay Court. Sec. 3, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court provides that
Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a representative or someone acting
in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the case and shall be
deemed to be the real party in interest.
xxx
Being the real party in interest, the Attorney-in-fact may therefore bring the necessary
complaint before the Lupon Tagapayapa and appear in person as if he is the owner of the land.
[9]
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Hence, the present petition questioning the palpable legal errors of the RTC.
Petitioner argues that since he, not his attorney-in-fact Sagario, is the real party in interest, and since he
actually resides abroad, the lupon would have no jurisdiction to pass upon the dispute involving real property,
he citing Agbayani v. Belen.[10]
Respondent submits, on the other hand, that Section 408, paragraph (f), of the Local Government Code, is
qualified by paragraph (c) of Section 409 of the same Code the latter of which provides that [a]ll disputes
involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real property is
located, hence, the use of the word shall makes it mandatory for the bringing of the dispute before
the lupon.
That attorney-in-fact Sagario is a resident of the same barangay as that of hers, respondent argues in any
event, brings the matter under the jurisdiction of the lupon, for Sagario, following Section 3 of Rule 3 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which provides:
Sec. 3. Representative as parties. - Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or
defended by a representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be
included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A
representative may be a trustee of an express trust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a
party authorized by law or these Rules. An agent acting in his own name for the benefit of an
undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without joining the principal except when the contract
involves things belonging to the principal,

being a substitute, becomes the real party-in-interest.


Respondents submissions do not lie.
The pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code read:
SEC. 408. Subject Matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception Thereto. The lupon of
each barangay shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city
or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes except:
(a) Where one party is the government or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the
performance of his official functions;
(c) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding
Five Thousand pesos (P5,000.00);
(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;
(e) Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities or municipalities
unless the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an
appropriate lupon;
(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or
municipalities, except where such barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree
to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon; and
(g) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of
justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice.
The court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the lupon under
this Code are filed may, at any time before trial, motu proprio refer the case to the lupon
concerned for amicable settlement. (Emphasis supplied)
SEC. 409. Venue. (a) Disputes between persons actually residing in the same
barangay shall be brought for amicable settlement before the lupon of said barangay .
(b) Those involving actual residents of different barangays within the same city or
municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents
actually resides, at the election of the complainant.
(c) All disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the
barangay where the real property or the larger portion thereof is situated.
(d) Those arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or at the
institution where such parties are enrolled for study shall be brought in the barangay where such
workplace or institution is located.
Objections to venue shall be raised in the mediation proceedings before the punong
barangay; otherwise, the same shall be deemed waived. Any legal question which may confront
the punong barangay in resolving objections to venue herein referred to may be submitted to the
Secretary of Justice or his duly designated representative whose ruling thereon shall be binding.
(Emphasis supplied)
In the 1982 case of Tavora v. Veloso,[11] this Court held that where the parties are not actual residents in
the same city or municipality or adjoining barangays, there is no requirement for them to submit their dispute to
the lupon as provided for in Section 6 vis a vis Sections 2 and 3 of P.D. 1508 (Katarungang
Pambarangay Law).

[B]y express statutory inclusion and exclusion, the Lupon shall have no jurisdiction over disputes
where the parties are not actual residents of the same city or municipality, except where the
barangays in which they actually reside adjoin each other. (Underscoring supplied)
In the 2000 case of Vercide v. Hernandez,[12] this Court, noting that the Tavora ruling, reiterated in other
cases including the 1996 case of Agbayani[13] cited by petitioner, was decided under the provisions of P.D. No.
1508 (Katarungang Pambarangay) Law which were, except for some modifications, echoed in Sections 408409 of the Local Government Code which took effect on January 1, 1992, held that the Tavora ruling remained.
To construe the express statutory requirement of actual residency as applicable to the attorney-in-fact of
the party-plaintiff, as contended by respondent, would abrogate the meaning of a real party in interest as
defined in Section 2 of Rule 3[14] of the 1997 Rules of Court vis a vis Section 3 of the same Rule which was
earlier quoted but misread and misunderstood by respondent.
In fine, since the plaintiff-herein petitioner, the real party in interest, is not an actual resident of the
barangay where the defendant-herein respondent resides, the locallupon has no jurisdiction over their dispute,
hence, prior referral to it for conciliation is not a pre-condition to its filing in court.
The RTC thus erred in dismissing petitioners complaint.
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The assailed February 10, 2003 Order, as well as the March 24,
2003 Order denying reconsideration of the first, of Branch 23 of the Regional Trial Court of Isabela at Roxas
is SET ASIDE. Said court is accordingly directed to reinstate Civil Case No. 23-713-02 to its docket and take
appropriate action thereon with dispatch.
SO ORDERED.

MILAGROS G. LUMBUAN,*
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 155713


Present:

- versus -

ALFREDO A. RONQUILLO,
Respondent.

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:
May 5, 2006

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the Decision[1] dated April 12, 2002, of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52436 and itsResolution[2] dated October 14, 2002, denying the petitioners motion
for reconsideration.
The salient facts, as found by the Court of Appeals,[3] are as follows:
Petitioner Milagros G. Lumbuan is the registered owner of Lot 19-A, Block 2844 with Transfer Certificate of Title
No. 193264, located in Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila. OnFebruary 20, 1995, she leased it to respondent Alfredo A.
Ronquillo for a period of three years with a monthly rental of P5,000. The parties also agreed that there will be a 10%
annual increase in rent for the succeeding two years, i.e., 1996 and 1997,[4] and the leased premises will be used
exclusively for the respondents fastfood business, unless any other use is given, with the petitioners prior written
consent.[5]
While the respondent at the start operated a fastfood business, he later used the premises as residence without the
petitioners prior written consent. He also failed to pay the 10% annual increase in rent of P500/month starting 1996
and P1,000/month in 1997 to the present. Despite repeated verbal and written demands, the respondent refused to pay the
arrears and vacate the leased premises.
On November 15, 1997, the petitioner referred the matter to the Barangay Chairmans office but the parties failed
to arrive at a settlement. The Barangay Chairman then issued a Certificate to File Action.[6]
On December 8, 1997, the petitioner filed against the respondent an action for Unlawful Detainer, docketed as
Civil Case No. 157922-CV. It was raffled to the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Manila, Branch 6. On December
15, 1997, the respondent received the summons and copy of the complaint. On December 24, 1997, he filed his Answer
by mail. Before the MeTC could receive the respondents Answer, the petitioner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment
dated January 7, 1998.[7] Acting upon this motion, the MeTC rendered a decision[8] on January 15, 1998, ordering the
respondent to vacate and surrender possession of the leased premises; to pay the petitioner the amount of P46,000 as
unpaid rentals with legal interest until fully paid; and to pay the petitioner P5,000 as attorneys fees plus cost of the suit.
The respondent then filed a Manifestation calling the attention of the MeTC to the fact that his Answer was filed
on time and praying that the decision be set aside. TheMeTC denied the prayer, ruling that the Manifestation was in the
nature of a motion for reconsideration which is a prohibited pleading under the Rules on Summary Procedure.

Upon appeal, the case was raffled to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 38, and docketed as Civil
Case No. 98-87311. On July 8, 1998, the RTC rendered its decision[9] setting aside the MeTC decision. The RTC directed
the parties to go back to the Lupon Chairman or Punong Barangay for further proceedings and to comply strictly with the
condition that should the parties fail to reach an amicable settlement, the entire records of the case will be remanded
to MeTC of Manila, Branch 6, for it to decide the case anew.
The respondent sought reconsideration but the RTC denied the motion in an Order dated March 15, 1999. Thus,
he sought relief from the Court of Appeals through a petition for review.[10] On April 12, 2002, the appellate court
promulgated a decision, reversing the decision of the RTC and ordering the dismissal of the ejectment case. The appellate
court ruled that when a complaint is prematurely instituted, as when the mandatory mediation and conciliation in
the barangay level had not been complied with, the court should dismiss the case and not just remand the records to the
court of origin so that the parties may go through the prerequisite proceedings.
The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied by the appellate court. Hence, this present
petition.
In the meantime, while this petition was pending before this Court, the parties went through barangay conciliation
proceedings as directed by the RTC of Manila, Branch 38. Again, they failed to arrive at an amicable settlement
prompting the RTC to issue an Order [11] remanding the case to the MeTC of Manila, Branch 6, where the proceedings took
place anew. On April 25, 2000, the MeTC rendered a second decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment on the merits is hereby rendered for the plaintiff
as follows:
1.

Ordering defendant and all persons claiming right of possession under him to voluntarily
vacate the property located at Lot 19-A Block 2844, Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila and
surrender possession thereof to the plaintiff;

2.

Ordering defendant to pay to plaintiff the amount of P387,512.00 as actual damages in the
form of unpaid rentals and its agreed increase up to January 2000 and to pay the amount
of P6,500.00 a month thereafter until the same is actually vacated;

3.

Ordering the defendant to pay to plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 as and for attorneys fees
plus cost of the suit.

SO ORDERED.[12]
The respondent appealed the foregoing decision. The case was raffled to RTC of Manila, Branch 22, and docketed
as Civil Case No. 00-98173. The RTC ruled in favor of the petitioner and dismissed the appeal. The respondent elevated the
case to the Court of Appeals, where it is now pending.
The sole issue for our resolution is:
[WHETHER] THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
FOR THE ALLEGED FAILURE OF THE PARTIES TO COMPLY WITH THE MANDATORY
MEDIATION AND CONCILIATION PROCEEDINGS IN THE BARANGAY LEVEL.[13]

With the parties subsequent meeting with the Lupon Chairman or Punong Barangay for further conciliation
proceedings, the procedural defect was cured. Nevertheless, if only to clear any lingering doubt why the Court of Appeals
erred in dismissing the complaint, we shall delve on the issue.
The petitioner alleges that the parties have gone through barangay conciliation proceedings to settle their dispute
as shown by the Certificate to File Action issued by theLupon/Pangkat Secretary and attested by
the Lupon/Pangkat Chairman. The respondent, on the other hand, contends that whether there was defective compliance
or no compliance at all with the required conciliation, the case should have been dismissed.
The primordial objective of the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules,[14] is to reduce the number of court litigations
and prevent the deterioration of the quality of justice which has been brought about by the indiscriminate filing of cases in
the courts. To attain this objective, Section 412(a) of Republic Act No. 7160 [15] requires the parties to undergo a
conciliation process before the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat as a precondition to filing a complaint in court, [16] thus:
SECTION 412. Conciliation. (a) Pre-condition to Filing of Complaint in Court. No
complaint, petition, action, or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the luponshall be
filed or instituted directly in court or any other government office for adjudication, unless there has been a
confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or

settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon secretary or pangkat secretary as attested to by
the lupon or pangkat chairman.

Here, the Lupon/Pangkat Chairman and Lupon/Pangkat Secretary signed the Certificate to File Action stating that
no settlement was reached by the parties. While admittedly no pangkat was constituted, it was not denied that the parties
met at the office of the Barangay Chairman for possible settlement. The efforts of the BarangayChairman, however,
proved futile as no agreement was reached. Although no pangkat was formed, in our mind, there was substantial
compliance with the law. It is noteworthy that under the aforequoted provision, the confrontation before
the Lupon Chairman or the pangkat is sufficient compliance with the precondition for filing the case in court. [17] This is
true notwithstanding the mandate of Section 410(b) of the same law that the Barangay Chairman shall constitute
a pangkat if he fails in his mediation efforts. Section 410(b) should be construed together with Section 412, as well as the
circumstances obtaining in and peculiar to the case. On this score, it is significant that the BarangayChairman
or Punong Barangay is herself the Chairman of the Lupon under the Local Government Code.[18]
Finally, this Court is aware that the resolution of the substantial issues in this case is pending with the Court of
Appeals. While ordinarily, we would have determined the validity of the parties substantial claims since to await the
appellate courts decision will only frustrate speedy justice and, in any event, would be a futile exercise, as in all
probability the case would end up with this Court, we find that we cannot do so in the instant case.
It must be underscored that supervening events have taken place before the lower courts where the parties have
been adequately heard, and all the issues have been ventilated. Since the records of those proceedings are with the Court
of Appeals, it is in a better position to fully adjudicate the rights of the parties. To rely on the records before this Court
would prevent us from rendering a sound judgment in this case. Thus, we are left with no alternative but to leave the
matter of ruling on the merits to the appellate court.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 52436 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 38, in Civil
Case No. 98-87311 is AFFIRMED.
The Court of Appeals is ordered to proceed with the appeal in CA G.R. No. 73453 and decide the case with
dispatch.
SO ORDERED.

VALENCIDES VERCIDE, complainant, vs. JUDGE PRISCILLA T. HERNANDEZ, Fifth Municipal Circuit Trial
Court, Clarin and Tudela, Misamis Occidental, respondent. francis
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a complaint filed against Judge Priscilla T. Hernandez of the Fifth Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Clarin and
Tudela, Misamis Occidental, charging her with grave abuse of authority and ignorance of the law for her dismissal of a
case which complainant Valencides Vercide and his wife had filed against Daria Lagas Galleros for recovery of possession
of a piece of land. The land is located in Upper Centro, Tudela, Misamis Occidental. Defendant Galleros is a resident of
the same municipality, while complainant and his wife are residents of Dipolog City. Because of this fact, the case was
filed in court without prior referral to the Lupong Tagapamayapa.
However, this matter was raised by defendant in her answer as an affirmative defense, and respondent, in her order of July
15, 1997, ordered the dismissal of the case without prejudice to the prosecution of the counterclaim pleaded by the
defendant in her answer. In support of her order, respondent cited P.D. No. 1508, 3 of which provides:
Venue. - Disputes between or among persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought for
amicable settlement before the Lupon of said barangay. Those involving actual residents of different
barangays within the same city or municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the respondent or
any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of the complainant. However, all disputes which
involve real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or
any part thereof is situated. (Emphasis added)
Complainant and his wife moved for a reconsideration, citing the following provisions of R.A. 7160, "The Local
Government Code of 1991":
SEC. 408. Subject matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception Thereto. The lupon of each barangay
shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for
amicable settlement of all disputes except:
(a) Where one party is the government of any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his
official functions;
(c) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding Five Thousand pesos
(P5,000.00);
(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;
(e) Where the dispute involves real property located in different cities or municipalities unless the parties
thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except
where such barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to
amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;

(g) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of justice or upon
recommendation of the Secretary of Justice. marie
The court in which the non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the lupon under this Code are
filed may, at any time before trial, motu proprio refer the case to the lupon concerned for amicable
settlement.
SEC. 409. Venue. - (a) Disputes between persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought
for amicable settlement before the lupon of said barangay.
(b) Those involving actual residents of different barangays within the same city of municipality shall be
brought in the barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of
the complainant.
(c) All disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the
real property or the larger portion thereof is situated.
(d) Those arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or at the institution where
such parties are enrolled for study shall be brought in the barangay where such workplace or institution is
located.
Objections to venue shall be raised in the mediation proceedings before the punong barangay; otherwise,
the same shall be deemed waived. Any legal question which may confront the punong barangay in
resolving objections to venue herein referred to may be submitted to the Secretary of Justice or his duly
designated representative whose ruling thereon shall be binding.
They argued that under 408(f), in relation to 409(c), where the parties to a dispute involving real property or any
interest therein are not actual residents of the same city or municipality or of adjoining barangays, prior resort to barangay
conciliation is not required.
However, respondent denied the motion. In her order dated September 9, 1997, respondent stated:
The Court after taking into consideration the Motion for Reconsideration and the ground relied upon by
the counsel finds that counsel for the plaintiffs failed to correlate Sections 408 and 409 of Republic Act
No. 7160 and to consider Rule VIII, paragraph (a) of the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules, the rules and
regulations [of] which were promulgated to implement Sections 399 to 422, Chapter 7, Title One Book III
and Section 515, Book IV of R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as the Katarungang Pambarangay Law, to
wit:
"RULE VIII - PRE-CONDITION FOR FORMAL ADJUDICATION
Conciliation, pre-condition for filing of complaint in court or government office. novero
(a) No individual may go directly to court or to any government office for adjudication of
his dispute with another individual upon any matter falling within the authority of the
Punong Barangay or Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo to settle under these Rules, unless, after
personal confrontation of the parties before them earnest efforts to conciliate have failed
to result in a settlement or such settlement has been effectively repudiated."
and also Rule VI, Section 3 paragraph (c) of the same Katarungang Pambarangay Rules which provides:
"Rule VI - Amicable Settlement of Disputes
Section 3. Venue. The place of settlement shall be subject to the following rules:
....
(c) Dispute involving real property shall be brought for settlement in the Barangay where
the real property or larger portion thereof is situated.
From the provisions of the above-cited Rules it was very clear that parties whose disputes involved real
property should first br[ing] the said dispute before the barangay where the property was located, and that

[because of] failure to bring the dispute before the Barangay for conciliation no action may be filed in
court for final adjudication of the said dispute.
That parties should first comply with the provisions of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law before the
Court can acquire jurisdiction over the complaint. That non-compliance of the plaintiff to the requirement
of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law was admitted by her in paragraph 3 of the complaint. Her
allegation of non-compliance with the mandatory requirement of Lupon Conciliation before the filing of
the complaint, in a way divest[s] the Court of its jurisdiction over the case. In the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, Rule 16, Section 1, paragraph (j) provides:
"That a condition precedent for filing the claim has not been complied with"
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby denied.
Complainant alleges that in dismissing Civil Case No. 295, respondent judge committed "(a) Grave abuse of authority by
knowingly rendering an unjust and unlawful order; (b) Ignorance of the law in its highest order, she being a judge; (c)
Grave disobedience to the jurisprudence laid down by the Supreme Court of the Philippines on the matter of exemption of
lupon conciliation of contending parties who are not residen[ts] of the same city or municipality." He states that
respondent "practically threw several decisions of the Supreme Court on the matter out of the window and obviously
followed hook, line and sinker the arguments of the [defendant] Daria Galleros."
In answer, respondent judge claims that she merely followed the law in dismissing the case. She prays that the complaint
against her be dismissed and that complainant be ordered to stop harassing her just because he had not been able to obtain
the relief he wanted in Civil Case No. 295. nigel
In its memorandum dated February 29, 2000, the Office of the Court Administrator recommends the dismissal of this case
on the ground that the "issue [raised] is purely judicial and is best resolved by a court of competent jurisdiction" and that,
even if respondent had erred, she should not be held administratively liable since there is no allegation that she acted in
bad faith or knowingly rendered an unjust judgment.
In Tavora v. Veloso,[1] this Court already ruled that where parties do not reside in the same city or municipality or in
adjoining barangays, there is no requirement for them to submit their dispute involving real property to the Lupong
Tagapamayapa. As explained in that case:
The sole issue raised is one of law: Under the given facts, is the respondent judge barred from taking cognizance of the
ejectment case pursuant to Sec. 6 of PD 1508 establishing a system of amicably settling disputes at the barangay level?
The section reads:
"SECTION. 6. Conciliation, precondition to filing of complaint. - No complaint, petition, action or proceeding involving
any matter within the authority of the Lupon as provided in Section 2 hereof shall be filed or instituted in court or any
other government office for adjudication unless there has been a confrontation of the parties before the Lupon Chairman
or the Pangkat and no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the Lupon Secretary or the Pangkat
Secretary, attested by the Lupon or Pangkat Chairman, or unless the settlement has been repudiated. . . ." (Italics supplied)
For the above provision to be operative, the controversy must be within the jurisdiction of the Lupong Tagapayapa (Lupon
or Barangay court). On this point, the relevant provisions of PD 1508 are:
"SECTION 2. Subject matters for amicable settlement. - The Lupon of each barangay shall have authority to bring
together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes except:
(1) Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
(2) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;
(3) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding 30 days, or a fine exceeding P200.00;
(4) Offenses were there is no private offended party;
(5) Such other classes of disputes which the Prime Minister may in the interest of justice determine, upon
recommendation of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Local Government. ella
"SECTION 3. Venue. Disputes between or among persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought for
amicable settlement before the Lupon of said barangay. Those involving actual residents of different barangays within the
same city or municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents actually
resides, at the election of the complainant. However, all disputes which involve real property or any interest therein shall
be brought in the barangay where the real property or any part thereof is situated.
"The Lupon shall have no authority over disputes:
(1) involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such barangays
adjoin each other; and
(2) involving real property located in different municipalities." (Italics supplied)
The foregoing provisions are quite clear. Section 2 specifies the conditions under which the Lupon of a barangay "shall
have authority" to bring together the disputants for amicable settlement of their dispute: The parties must be "actually
residing in the same city or municipality." At the same time, Section 3 while reiterating that the disputants must be

"actually residing in the same barangay" or in "different barangays within the same city or municipality"
unequivocably declares that the Lupon shall have "no authority" over disputes "involving parties who actually reside in
barangays of different cities or municipalities," except where such barangays adjoin each other.
Thus, by express statutory inclusion and exclusion, the Lupon shall have no jurisdiction over disputes where the parties
are not actual residents of the same city or municipality, except where the barangays in which they actually reside adjoin
each other.
It is true that immediately after specifying the barangay whose Lupon shall take cognizance of a given dispute, Sec. 3 of
PD 1508 adds:
"However, all disputes which involve real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real
property or any part thereof is situated."
Actually, however, this added sentence is just an ordinary proviso and should operate as such. marinella
The operation of a proviso, as a rule, should be limited to its normal function, which is to restrict or vary the operation of
the principal clause, rather than expand its scope, in the absence of a clear indication to the contrary. [2]
To be sure, the Court was interpreting in that case the provisions of P.D. No. 1508 which, except for some modifications,
are applicable to the case before respondent judge because they are now found in 408-409 of R.A. No. 7160 which took
effect on January 1, 1992. The ruling in Tavora v. Veloso, reiterated in other cases,[3] should be familiar to the bench and
the bar. As we have held in Espiritu v. Jovellanos, [4] the phrase "Ignorance of the law excuses no one" has a special
application to judges who, under the injunction of Canon 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, "should be the
embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence." In Bacar v. De Guzman,[5] it was held that when the law
violated is basic, the failure to observe it constitutes gross ignorance. Reiterating this ruling, it was emphasized in
Almeron v. Sardido[6] that the disregard of an established rule of law amounts to gross ignorance of the law and makes the
judge subject to disciplinary action.
In the case at bar, respondent showed patent ignorance if not disregard of this Courts rulings on the jurisdiction of
the Lupong Tagapamayapa by her erroneous quotations of the provisions of the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules
implementing R.A. No. 7160. While a judge may not be held administratively accountable for every erroneous order or
decision he renders, his error may be so gross or patent that he should be administratively disciplined for gross ignorance
of the law and incompetence.
In this case, respondent at first cited P.D. No. 1508, 3 as basis of her action. When her attention was called to the fact that
this had been repealed by 409(c) of R.A. No. 7160, respondent, who obviously was more intent in justifying her previous
order than correcting her error, quoted out of context the provisions of the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules implementing
the Katarungang Pambarangay provisions of R.A. No. 7160. She thus violated Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct
which provides that "In every case, a judge shall endeavor diligently to ascertain the facts and the applicable law
unswayed by partisan interest, public opinion or fear of criticism."
Contrary to respondents interpretation, it is clear even from the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules that recourse to
barangay conciliation proceedings is not necessary where the parties do not reside in the same municipality or city or in
adjoining barangays. Rule VI of the same states in pertinent part:
SECTION 2. Subject matters for settlement. - All disputes may be the subject of proceedings for amicable
settlement under these rules except the following enumerated cases:
(a) Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof; alonzo
(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;
(c) Offenses for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding
Five Thousand pesos (P5,000.00);
(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;
(e) Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities or municipalities unless the parties thereto agree to
submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such
barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto to agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an
appropriate lupon;
(g) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of justice or upon the
recommendation of the Secretary of Justice.
The foregoing exceptions notwithstanding, the court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the
lupon under these Katarungang Pambarangay Law and Rules are filed may, at any time before trial, motu proprio refer the
case to the lupon concerned for amicable settlement.
SECTION 3. Venue. The place of settlement shall be subject to the following rules:
(a) Where the parties reside in the same barangay, the dispute shall be brought for settlement in said barangay;
(b) Where the parties reside in different barangays in the same city or municipality, the dispute shall be settled in the
barangay where the respondent or any one of the respondents actually resides, at the choice of the complainant;
(c) Dispute involving real property shall be brought for settlement in the barangay where the real property or larger
portion thereof is situated;
(d) Disputes arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or at the institution where such parties
are enrolled for study, shall be brought in the barangay where such workplace or institution is located;

(e) Any objection relating to venue shall be raised before the Punong Barangay during the mediation proceedings before
him. Failure to do so shall be deemed a waiver of such objection;
(f) Any legal question which may confront the Punong Barangay in resolving objections to venue herein referred to may
be submitted to the Secretary of Justice, or his duly designated representative, whose ruling thereon shall be
binding. brando
(Emphasis added)
Indeed, these provisions, which are also found in P.D. No. 1508, have already been authoritatively interpreted by this
Court, and the duty of respondent judge was to follow the rulings of this Court. Her insistence on her own interpretation of
the law can only be due either to an ignorance of this Courts ruling or to an utter disregard thereof. We choose to believe
that her failure to apply our rulings to the case before her was simply due to gross ignorance which, nevertheless, is
inexcusable. In accordance with the ruling in Ting v. Atal,[7] in which a judge who was similarly found guilty of gross
ignorance of the law was fined P2,000.00, respondent judge should likewise be fined the same amount.
WHEREFORE, respondent is hereby found guilty of gross ignorance of the law and is hereby ordered to pay a FINE of
TWO THOUSAND (P2,000.00) PESOS with a WARNING that repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with
more severely.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. L-63277. November 29, 1983.]


PETRA VDA. DE BORROMEO, Petitioner, v. HON. JULIAN B. POGOY, Municipality/City Trial Court
of Cebu City, and ATTY. RICARDO REYES, Respondents.
Antonio T. Uy for Petitioner.
Numeriano G. Estenzo for Respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; ACTIONS FOR FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER; PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD; ACTION
NOT BARRED IN THE CASE AT BAR. Under Article 1147 of the Civil Code, the period for filing actions
for forcible entry and detainer is one year, and this period is counted from demand to vacate the premises.
(Desbarat v. Vda. de Laureano, 18 SCRA 116, Calubayan v. Pascual, 21 SCRA 146, Development Bank of the
Philippines v. Canonoy, 35 SCRA 197) In the case at bar, the letter-demand was dated August 28, 1982, while
the complaint for ejectment was filed in court on September 16, 1982. Between these two dates, less than a
month had elapsed, thereby leaving at least eleven (11) full months of the prescriptive period provided for in
Article 1147 of the Civil Code. Under the procedure outlined in Section 4 of PD 1508, the time needed for the
conciliation proceeding before the Barangay Chairman and the Pangkat should take no more than 60 days.
Giving private respondent nine (9) months-ample time indeed- within which to bring his case before the proper
court should conciliation efforts fail. Thus, it cannot be truthfully asserted, as private respondent would want Us
to believe, that his case would be barred by the Statute of Limitations if he had to course his action to the
Barangay Lupon.
2. REMEDIAL LAW; SECTION 4 (A) OF P.D. No. 1508; CONSTRUED. Under Section 4(a) of PD 1508,
referral of a dispute to the Barangay Lupon is required only where the parties thereto are "individuals." An
"individual" means "a single human being as contrasted with a social group or institution." Obviously, the law
applies only to cases involving natural persons, and not where any of the parties is a juridical person such as a
corporation, partnership, corporation sole, testate or intestate, estate, etc.
3. ID.; JURIDICAL PERSON; REAL PARTY IN INTEREST; REFERRAL TO BARANGAY LUPON, NOT
REQUIRED. In Civil Case No. R-239l5, plaintiff Ricardo Reyes is a mere nominal party who is suing in
behalf of the Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo. while it is true that Section 3, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court
allows the administrator of an estate to sue or be sued without joining the party for whose benefit the action is
presented or defended, it is indisputable that the real party in interest in Civil Case No. R-23915 is the intestate
estate under administration. Since the said estate is a juridical person (Limjoco v. Intestate of Fragante, 80 Phil.

776) plaintiff administrator may file the complaint directly in court, without the same being coursed to the
Barangay Lupon for arbitration.
DECISION
ESCOLIN, J.:
Petitioner herein seeks to stop respondent Judge Julian B. Pogoy of the Municipal Trial Court of Cebu City
from taking cognizance of an ejectment suit for failure of the plaintiff to refer the dispute to the Barangay
Lupon for conciliation.
The intestate estate of the late Vito Borromeo is the owner of a building bearing the deceaseds name, located at
F. Ramos St., Cebu City. Said building has been leased and occupied by petitioner Petra Vda. de Borromeo at a
monthly rental of P500.00 payable in advance within the first five days of the month.
On August 28, 1982, private respondent Atty. Ricardo Reyes, administrator of the estate and a resident of Cebu
City, served upon petitioner a letter demanding that she pay the overdue rentals corresponding to the period
from March to September 1982, and thereafter to vacate the premises. As petitioner failed to do so, Atty. Reyes
instituted on September 16, 1982 an ejectment case against the former in the Municipal Trial Court of Cebu
City. The complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. R-23915 and assigned to the sala of respondent judge.
On November 12, 1982, petitioner moved to dismiss the case, advancing, among others, the want of jurisdiction
of the trial court. Pointing out that the parties are residents of the same city, as alleged in the complaint,
petitioner contended that the court could not exercise jurisdiction over the case for failure of respondent Atty.
Reyes to refer the dispute to the Barangay Court, as required by PD No. 1508, otherwise known as Katarungang
Pambarangay Law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Respondent judge denied the motion to dismiss. He justified the order in this wise:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"The Clerk of Court when this case was filed accepted for filing same. That from the acceptance from (sic)
filing, with the plaintiff having paid the docket fee to show that the case was docketed in the civil division of
this court could be considered as meeting the requirement or precondition for were it not so, the Clerk of Court
would not have accepted the filing of the case especially that there is a standing circular from the Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court without even mentioning the Letter of Instruction of the President of the Philippines that
civil cases and criminal cases with certain exceptions must not be filed without passing the barangay court."
(Order dated December 14, 1982, Annex "c", P. 13, Rollo).
Unable to secure a reconsideration of said order, petitioner came to this Court through this petition
for certiorari. In both his comment and memorandum, private respondent admitted not having availed himself
of the barangay conciliation process, but justified such omission by citing paragraph 4, section 6 of PD 1508
which allows the direct filing of an action in court where the same may otherwise be barred by the Statute of
Limitations, as applying to the case at bar.
The excuse advanced by private respondent is unsatisfactory. Under Article 1147 of the Civil Code, the period
for filing actions for forcible entry and detainer is one year, 1 and this period is counted from demand to vacate
the premises. 2
In the case at bar, the letter-demand was dated August 28, 1982, while the complaint for ejectment was filed in
court on September 16, 1982. Between these two dates, less than a month had elapsed, thereby leaving at least
eleven (11) full months of the prescriptive period provided for in Article 1147 of the Civil Code. Under the
procedure outlined in Section 4 of PD 1508, 3 the time needed for the conciliation proceeding before the
Barangay Chairman and the Pangkat should take no more than 60 days. Giving private respondent nine (9)
months ample time indeed within which to bring his case before the proper court should conciliation
efforts fail. Thus, it cannot be truthfully asserted, as private respondent would want Us to believe, that his case
would be barred by the Statute of Limitations if he had to course his action to the Barangay Lupon.
With certain exceptions, PD 1508 makes the conciliation process at the Barangay level a condition precedent for
filing of actions in those instances where said law applies. For this reason, Circular No. 22 addressed to "ALL
JUDGES OF THE COURTS OF FIRST INSTANCE, CIRCUIT CRIMINAL COURTS, JUVENILE AND
DOMESTIC RELATIONS COURT, COURTS OF AGRARIAN RELATIONS, CITY COURTS, MUNICIPAL
COURTS AND THEIR CLERKS OF COURT" was issued by Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando on November

9, 1979. Said Circular reads:chanrobles.com:cralaw:red


"Effective upon your receipt of the certification by the Minister of Local Government and Community
Development that all the barangays within your respective jurisdictions have organized their Lupons provided
for in Presidential Decree No. 1508, otherwise known as the Katarungang Pambarangay Law, in
implementation of the barangay system of settlement of disputes, you are hereby directed to desist from
receiving complaints, petitions, actions or proceedings in cases falling within the authority of said
Lupons."cralaw virtua1aw library
While respondent acknowledged said Circular in his order of December 14, 1982, he nevertheless chose to
overlook the failure of the complaint in Civil Case No. R-23915 to allege compliance with the requirement of
PD 1508. Neither did he cite any circumstance as would place the suit outside the operation of said law. Instead,
he insisted on relying upon the pro tanto presumption of regularity in the performance by the clerk of court of
his official duty, which to Our mind has been sufficiently overcome by the disclosure by the Clerk of Court that
there was no certification to file action from the Lupon or Pangkat secretary attached to the complaint. 4
Be that as it may, the instant petition should be dismissed. Under Section 4(a) of PD No. 1508, referral of a
dispute to the Barangay Lupon is required only where the parties thereto are "individuals." An "individual"
means "a single human being as contrasted with a social group or institution." 5 Obviously, the law applies only
to cases involving natural persons, and not where any of the parties is a juridical person such as a corporation,
partnership, corporation sole, testate or intestate, estate, etc.
In Civil Case No. R-23915, plaintiff Ricardo Reyes is a mere nominal party who is suing in behalf of the
Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo. While it is true that Section 3, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court allows the
administrator of an estate to sue or be sued without joining the party for whose benefit the action is presented or
defended, it is indisputable that the real party in interest in Civil Case No. R-23915 is the intestate estate under
administration. Since the said estate is a juridical person 6 plaintiff administrator may file the complaint directly
in court, without the same being coursed to the Barangay Lupon for arbitration.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby dismissed. Respondent judge is ordered to try and decide Civil Case
No. R-23915 without unnecessary delay. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

ATTY. EVELYN J. MAGNO,


Complainant,

A.C. No. 6296


Present:

- versus -

PANGANIBAN, J., Chairman


SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES and
GARCIA, JJ.

ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA, Promulgated:


Respondent.
November 22, 2005
x----------------------------------------x
RE S O LUTI ON
GARCIA, J.:
In her sworn complaint, as endorsed by the President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Nueva
Ecija Chapter, Atty. Evelyn J. Magno charged Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba, a member of the same IBP provincial
chapter, with willful violation of (a) Section 415 of the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 and (b) Canon
4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

This disciplinary case arose out of a disagreement that complainant had with her uncle, Lorenzo Inos, over
a landscaping contract they had entered into. In a bid to have the stand-off between them settled, complainant
addressed a letter, styled Sumbong,[1] to Bonifacio Alcantara, barangay captain of Brgy. San Pascual,
Talavera, Nueva Ecija. At the barangay conciliation/confrontation proceedings conducted on January 5, 2003,
respondent, on the strength of a Special Power of Attorney signed by Lorenzo Inos, appeared for the latter,
accompanied by his son, Lorenzito. Complainants objection to respondents appearance elicited the response
that Lorenzo Inos is entitled to be represented by a lawyer inasmuch as complainant is herself a lawyer. And as
to complainants retort that her being a lawyer is merely coincidental, respondent countered that she is
appearing as an attorney-in-fact, not as counsel, of Lorenzo Inos.

Complainant enumerated specific instances, with supporting documentation, tending to prove that
respondent had, in the course of the conciliation proceedings before the Punong Barangay, acted as Inos
Lorenzos counsel instead of as his attorney-in-fact. This is what complainant said in her complaint:[2]

5. xxx Atty. Olivia Jacoba asked for an ocular inspection of the subject matter of the
complaint. A heated argument took place because Lorencito Inos said that [complainants
brother] Melencio Magno, Jr. made alterations in the lagoon . Afterwards Atty. Olivia Jacoba .
. . returned to the barangay hall to have the incident recorded in the barangay blotter.... attached
as Annex A

6. That on January 12, 2003, Lorenzo Inos appeared before the hearing also with the
assistance of [respondent]. When the minutes of the proceeding (sic) was read, [respondent]
averred that the minutes is partial in favor of the complainant because only her statements were
recorded for which reason, marginal insertions were made to include what [respondent] wanted
to be put on record. She also signed as saksi in the minutes .

7. xxx In a letter (answer to the "sumbong) sent to the Punong Barangay dated
December 22, 2002, she signed representing herself as Family Legal Counsel of Inos Family, a
copy of the letter is attached as Annex C . . . . (Words in bracket added.)

In an Order dated February 17, 2003, Atty. Victor C. Fernandez, IBP Director for Bar Discipline, directed
the respondent to submit, within fifteen (15) days from notice, her answer to the complaint, otherwise she will
be considered as in default.[3]

The case, docketed as CBD No. 03-1061, was assigned to Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, who
admitted respondents answer notwithstanding her earlier order of July 15, 2003, declaring respondent in
default for failure to file an answer in due time.[4]

In her Answer, respondent alleged that the administrative complaint was filed with the Office of
the Punong Barangay, instead of before the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and heard by Punong Barangay Bonifacio
Alcantara alone, instead of the collegial Lupon or a conciliation panel known as pangkat. Prescinding from this
premise, respondent submits that the prohibition against a lawyer appearing to assist a client in katarungan
pambarangay proceedings does not apply. Further, she argued that her appearance was not as a lawyer, but only
as an attorney-in-fact.

In her report dated October 6, 2003,[5] Commissioner Maala stated that the charge of complainant has
been established by clear preponderance of evidence and, on that basis, recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of her profession for a period of six (6) months. On the other hand, the Board of
Governors, IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, while agreeing with the inculpatory finding of the investigating
commissioner, recommended in its Resolution No. XVI-2003-235,[6] a lighter penalty, to wit:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the


Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case,
herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, with modification,
and considering respondent's actuations was in violation of Section 415 which expressly
prohibits the presence and representation by lawyers in the Katarungan Pambarangay, Atty.
Olivia Velasco-Jacoba is hereby ADMONISHED.

This resolution is now before us for confirmation.

Section 415 of the LGC of 1991[7], on the subject Katarungang Pambarangay, provides:

Section 415. Appearance of Parties in Person. - In all katarungang


pambarangay proceedings, the parties must appear in person without the assistance of the
counsel or representative, except for minors and incompetents who may be assisted by their next
of kin who are not lawyers.

The above-quoted provision clearly requires the personal appearance of the parties in katarungan
pambarangay conciliation proceedings, unassisted by counsel or representative. The rationale behind the
personal appearance requirement is to enable the lupon to secure first hand and direct information about the
facts and issues,[8] the exception being in cases where minors or incompetents are parties. There can be no
quibbling that laymen of goodwill can easily agree to conciliate and settle their disputes between themselves
without what sometimes is the unsettling assistance of lawyers whose presence could sometimes obfuscate and
confuse issues.[9] Worse still, the participation of lawyers with their penchant to use their analytical skills and
legal knowledge tend to prolong instead of expedite settlement of the case.

The prohibition against the presence of a lawyer in a barangay conciliation proceedings was not, to be sure,
lost on respondent. Her defense that the aforequoted Section 415 of the LGC does not apply since complainant
addressed her Sumbong to the barangay captain of Brgy. San Pascual who thereafter proceeded to hear the same
is specious at best. In this regard, suffice it to state that complainant wrote her Sumbong with the end in view of
availing herself of the benefits of barangay justice. That she addressed her Sumbong to the barangay captain is
really of little moment since the latter chairs the Lupong Tagapamayapa.[10]

Lest it be overlooked, the prohibition in question applies to all katarungan barangay proceedings. Section
412(a)[11] the LGC of 1991 clearly provides that, as a precondition to filing a complaint in court, the parties shall
go through the conciliation process either before the lupon chairman or the lupon or pangkat. As what
happened in this case, the punong barangay, as chairman of the Lupon Tagapamayapa, conducted the
conciliation proceedings to resolve the disputes between the two parties.

Given the above perspective, we join the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline in its determination that
respondent transgressed the prohibition prescribed in Section 415 of the LGC. However, its recommended
penalty of mere admonition must have to be modified. Doubtless, respondents conduct tended to undermine
the laudable purpose of the katarungan pambarangay system. What compounded matters was when respondent
repeatedly ignored complainants protestation against her continued appearance in the barangay conciliation
proceedings.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba is hereby FINED in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos
(P5,000.00) for willful violation of Section 415 of the Local Government Code of 1991 with WARNING that
commission of similar acts of impropriety on her part in the future will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.