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G.R. No.

L-40945 November 10, 1986

IGMEDIO AZAJAR, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (Second Division) and
CHAM SAMCO & SONS, INC., respondents.
Petitioner seeks reversal of the Resolution of the respondent Court of Appeals (now Intermediate Appellate
Court) dated March 25, 1975 setting aside the judgment by default rendered against private respondent by
the Court of First Instance, and directing that said respondent be allowed to file its answer to the complaint
and after joinder of issues, trial be had and judgment rendered on the merits.
This case originated from a complaint filed by petitioner Igmedio Azajar against respondent Cham Samco
and Sons, Inc. in the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Camarines Sur. 1 Azajar's claim,
briefly, is that he had purchased from defendant (hereafter referred to simply as Cham Samco), thru the
latter's agent, 100 Kegs of nails of various sizes, specified in one of Cham Samco's printed order forms,
and had given to the agent P18,000.00 in fun payment thereof; but in breach of contract, Cham Samco
had offered to deliver only a part of the quantity ordered.
Cham Samco filed a motion to dismiss on two grounds: (1) failure of the complaint to state a cause of
action-the complaint's language indicating not a perfected sale but merely an "offer to buy by plaintiff that
was partly accepted by defendant," and failing to show that as explicitly required by the order form prices
had been confirmed by Cham Samco's "Manila Office," 2 and (2) that venue was improperly laid-Cham
Samco's invariable conditions in transactions of this nature, as Azajar well knew from many such
transactions in the past, being that "any legal action thereon must be instituted in the City of Manila. 3
The motion to dismiss contained a notice addressed to the Clerk of Court reading as follows:
The Clerk of Court
Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur
Naga City
Please submit the foregoing motion to the Court for its consideration and resolution immediately
upon receipt thereof.
Makati, Rizal for Naga City, February 4, 1974
Copy furnished:
Atty. Augusta A. Pardalias
Naga City
NF-927 4
It is this notice that has given rise to the controversy at bar.
Contending that such a notice was fatally defective and rendered the Motion to Dismiss incapable of to the
period to answer, Azajar filed a motion dated February 20, 1974 to declare Cham Samco in default, which
the Court granted. By Order dated February 22, 1974 the Court pronounced Cham Samco in default and
allowed Azajar to present evidence ex parte. The Court justified the order of default in the wise:

On February 4, 1974, defendant thru counsel instead of an answer to the complaint, filed a "Motion
to Dismiss" which, in legal contemplation, is not a motion at an because the ."notice" therein is
directed to the Clerk of Court instead of to the party concerned (as required by Section 5, Rule 15 of
the Rules of Court) and is without the requisite notice of time and place of hearing; that a motion
"with a notice of hearing (a) directed to the Clerk of Court not to the parties; and (b) merely stating
that the same be "submitted for resolution of the Honorable Court upon receipt thereof," copy of
which motion was duly furnished to and received by "the adverse counsel is fatally defective and
did not toll the running of the period to appeal" (Cladera v. Sarmiento, 39 SCRA 552). Consequently,
inasmuch as the "motion to dismiss in this case is a mere scrap of paper because it is without the
requisite notice of time and place of hearing (Manakil v. Hevilla, 42 Phil. 81; Roman Catholic Bishop
v. Unisan, 44 Phil. 866; Director of Lands v. Sanz, 45 Phil. 117; and Manila Surety v. Bath, 14 SCRA
435), the filing thereof did not suspend the running ' of the period to file the required responsive
pleading. That from' February 4, 1974 to February 21, 1974, seventeen (17) days had lapsed and
defendant failed to file any responsive pleading ... 5
Then on March 30, 1974, the Trial Court rendered judgment by default against defendant Cham Samco
ordering it:
... to deliver immediately to the plaintiff the nails mentioned in the Order Form No. 9020 (Exhibit A);
(2) requiring defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of P15,000.00 by way of actual damages, the sum
of P10,000.00 by way of consequential damages, plus interest in both instances, and the additional
sum of P5,000.00, for exemplary damages; (3) ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of
P7,500.00 for attorney's fees and related expenses of litigation; and (4) to pay the costs.
Cham Samco filed a Motion for New Trial on April 9, 1974. It contended that its failure to observe the rules
governing notice of motions was due to excusable negligence, "because the grounds alleged in the Motion
to Dismiss were all in such nature and character that addressed themselves to a motu proprio resolution
by the court and thus rendered a hearing dispensable. 6 It also alleged certain defenses available to it
which if duly alleged and proven, would absolve it from any liability. 7 This motion was denied.
Cham Samco went to the Court of Appeals on certiorari asserting that the trial court acted with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in declaring it in default and then rendering judgment
by default. 8 The petition was dismissed for lack of merit by the Court of Appeals on November 20, 1974. 9
But on motion for reconsideration seasonably presented, the Court of Appeals reversed itself. By Resolution
dated March 25, 1975, 10 it set aside the Trial Court's order of default of February 22, 1974, judgment by
default of March 13, 1974, and Order dated June 4, 1974 denying Cham Samco's motion for new trial, and
directed the lower Court to allow Cham Samco to file its answer to the complaint and upon due joinder of
issues, to try and decide the case on the merits.
The Court held that:
... (t)he notice in the motion which was addressed to the clerk of court asking him to submit the
motion for the consideration of the court is a substantial compliance with the provision of section 3
Rule 16 of the Rules of Court. Verily under the said rule, the Court has the alternative of either
hearing the case or deferring the hearing and determination thereof until the trial on the merits.
Thus upon the filing of said motion the court should have set the motion for hearing or outrightly
deny the motion, or otherwise postpone the hearing until the trial on the ground that the grounds
thereof do not appear to be indubitable. The prompt filing and apparently valid grounds invoked in
the motion are not the acts and declarations of a defaulting party.
... (E)ven assuming that the declaration of default of the petitioner was in order we find that the
trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion when it denied the motion for new trial that was
filed by the petitioner not only on the ground of excusable negligence we have above discussed but
also on the ground that it has a meritorious defense. and

... (E)xcessive damages have been awarded to the private respondent. In addition to ordering the
petitioner to deliver to the private respondent the nails ordered by the latter, the petitioner was
also ordered to pay not only P15,000 actual damages for profits that the private respondent could
have earned but also consequential damages of P10,000 for the unrealized profits that the said
earnings and capital of the plaintiff could have earned, plus interest in both instances, exemplary
damages of P5,000 and P7,500 for attorney's fees and related expenses of litigation. Thus for the
capital of respondent of P18,100.00 in the purchase of the nails, the petitioner was ordered to pay
damages of a total of P37,500.00, which including the interest awarded can amount to over
P40,000, more than double the value of the said investment of respondent. Under Section 1, Rule
37 of the Rules of Court award of excessive damages could be a ground for new trial.
The Court concluded its opinion with the observation that "the ends of justice would be better served in
this case if we brush aside technicality and afford the petitioner its day in court.
It was wrong, of course, for Cham Samco to have failed to set its motion to dismiss for hearing on a
specified date and time. The law explicitly requires that notice of a motion shall be served by the appellant
to all parties concerned at least three (3) days before the hearing thereof, together with a copy of the
motion, and of any affidavits and other papers accompanying it; 11 and that the notice shag be directed to
the parties concerned, stating the time and place for the hearing of the motion. 12 The uniform holding of
this Court has been that a failure to comply with the requirement is a fatal flaw. 13 Such notice is required
to avoid surprises upon the opposite party and give the latter time to study and meet the arguments of the
motion, as well as to determine or make determinable the time of submission of the motion for
resolution. 14
Cham Samco quite frankly admits its error. It pleads however that under the circumstances the error be
not regarded as irremediable or that it be deemed as constituting excusable negligence, warranting relief.
It argues that legal and logical considerations, which it took to be tenable, caused it to theorize that a
hearing on the motion was dispensable. It also adverts to its position of affirmative defenses in addition to
those set out in its motion to dismiss which if ventilated and established at the trial would absolve it from
all liability under the complaint.
Cham Samco's belief that it was not necessary that its motion to dismiss be set for hearing was avowedly
engendered by two factors, namely:
1) the fact that while the Rules of Court "specify the motions which can be heard only with prior service
upon adverse parties, 15 said Rules "do not point out which written motions may be ex parte, preferring, it
appears, to leave to the court, in motions other than those specified, the discretion either to ex
parte resolve ... or to call the parties to a hearing ...; 16 and
2) the further fact that its motion to dismiss was based on two grounds on which a hearing was
superfluous, the first, failure of the complaint to state a cause of action, being determinable exclusively
from the allegations of the complaint and no evidence being allowable thereon; and the second, that
venue is improperly laid, being resolvable exclusively on the basis of documents annexed to the motion.


These considerations, to be sure, did not erase movant's duty to give notice to the adverse party of the
date and time of the hearing on its motion, the purpose of said notice being, as already stressed, not only
to give the latter time to oppose the motion if so minded, but also to determine the time of its submission
for resolution. Without such notice, the occasion would not arise to determine with reasonable certitude
whether and within what time the adverse party would respond to the motion, and when the motion might
already be resolved by the Court. The duty to give that notice is imposed on the movant, not on the Court.
Withal the reasons for Cham Samco's erroneous notion of the dispensability of a hearing on its motion to
dismiss are not utterly without plausibility. This circumstance, taken together with the fact, found by the
Intermediate Appellate Court and not disputed by petitioner Azajar, that Cham Samco has meritorious
defenses which if proven would defeat Azajar's claim against it, and the eminent desirability more than
once stressed by this Court that cases should be determined on the merits after full opportunity to all

parties for ventilation of their causes and defenses, rather than on technicality or some procedural
imperfections, 18 all conduce to concurrence with the Court of Appeals that "the ends of justice would be
better served in this case if we brush aside technicality and afford the petitioner its day in court.
WHEREFORE, the Resolutions of the Court of Appeals appealed from, are affirmed. Costs against petitioner.

A.M. No. RTJ-05-1896

April 29, 2005

ATTY. JULIUS NERI, Complainant, vs. JUDGE JESUS S. DE LA PEA, respondent.

This is a case for grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and/or incompetence filed by Atty. Julius Z.
Neri against Judge Jesus S. de la Pea. It originated from a civil case for damages filed by Emmanuel Aznar
against Citibank (which was represented by complainant as counsel), docketed as Civil Case No. CEB16474 and raffled to the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch XX, presided over by Judge Ferdinand J.
Plaintiff Aznar had filed suit due to the alleged blacklisting of his Citibank Preferred Mastercard which,
according to him, was dishonored in several establishments in Singapore and Malaysia while he was on
holiday, causing him great inconvenience and embarrassment. He presented, as evidence, several
receipts, plane tickets, a computer print-out allegedly showing that his card had been declined for being
"over limit", a statement of account and his lone testimony.2 Defendant Citibank presented several
documentary exhibits to the effect that Aznar's card had not been placed on any "hot list" and could not
possibly have been blacklisted.3 After trial, Judge Marcos dismissed the case for lack of merit. 4
Dissatisfied with the decision, Aznar filed through counsel a motion for reconsideration, with motion to reraffle the case. In an order dated September 11, 1998, Acting Presiding Judge Ramon Codilla (who
succeeded Marcos), citing the fact that he was "occupied with two (2) salas" and the fact that "the
Presiding Judge who originally penned the decision is a credit card holder of CITIBANKwhose membership
could naturally influence the outcome of this case in favor of the defendant bank," directed the re-raffling
of the case to RTC Cebu Branch X, presided over by respondent Judge Jesus de la Pea. 5 Respondent then
ordered Citibank to file its comment on Aznar's motion for reconsideration. 6 Citibank filed its opposition
instead. In an order dated November 25, 1998, respondent granted Aznar's motion for reconsideration:
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The DECISION dated May 29,
1998 is hereby reconsidered, and consequently, the defendant is hereby condemned liable to pay
the following sums of money:
a) P10,000,000.00 as moral damages;
b) P 5,000,000.00 as exemplary damages;
c) P 1,000,000.00 as attorney's fees; and
d) P200,000.00 as litigation expenses.
As a result of the Order, complainant filed this administrative case on July 16, 1999, which was docketed as
Control No. 41-99-P. Charging respondent with dishonesty, he alleged that respondent, contrary to his
pronouncement in his order, had rendered his decision without ever having read the transcripts of the
case.8 To support this contention, complainant presented certifications from the Clerk of Court of Branch
XX9 and the Clerk of Court of the RTC of Cebu City 10 that the transcripts of the case had remained in their
custody and that the respondent never borrowed them all throughout.
Complainant also charged respondent with gross ignorance of the law and/or incompetence. He alleged
that respondent had improperly considered as a business record Aznar's computer print-out which in
reality did not meet the requisites to be rightly considered as such. Aznar never testified as to the date and

time the subject print-out was encoded, or who encoded and printed the same, nor did he establish
personal knowledge of who prepared the print-out, or whether it was prepared by one responsible for it in
his professional capacity or in the performance of his official duty or in the regular course of his business.
Finally, the person who prepared it did not testify in court or on deposition.
Complainant went on to say that respondent's incompetence and dishonesty showed in his failure to
appreciate and evaluate Citibank's extensive documentary evidence which clearly established that it did
not blacklist Aznar's Mastercard.
Finally, complainant pointed out that the damages respondent awarded to plaintiff Aznar were
scandalously exorbitant. He prayed for respondent's dismissal from the service.
On September 3, 1999, respondent filed his comment.11 He principally contended that, having appealed
from his decision to the Court of Appeals, the complainant should not have filed this administrative case.
Respondent decried complainant's case as forum-shopping. In his defense, respondent asserted that he
had in fact read the transcripts, having received copies thereof attached to an ex parte manifestation filed
by plaintiff Aznar.12 He also defended the amount of damages he awarded by comparing them to those
awarded in a 1973 case, with inflation taken into account.
Complainant then filed his reply to the comment,13 assailing the ex parte manifestation which respondent
had supposedly relied upon in deciding the case. He pointed out that respondent should not have even
considered the said manifestation because Citibank had not been served a copy and it was filed after office
hours. He likewise refuted respondent's allegations of forum-shopping and impropriety in filing an
administrative case while an appeal was pending.
In his rejoinder, respondent defended his appreciation of the ex parte manifestation. He likewise reiterated
his claim that the administrative complaint should not have been filed with the appeal. 14
On February 28, 2001, the Second Division of this Court resolved to hold the administrative case in
abeyance until the final resolution of the Court of Appeals of CA-GR CV No. 62554, Aznar v. Citibank. By
this time, the case had been re-docketed as AM No. 01-1131-RTJ. 15
On January 8, 2004, the Court of Appeals decided in favor of Citibank, vacating respondent's decision and
reinstating the dismissal of the case by Judge Marcos.16 On June 8, 2004, complainant filed a manifestation,
with the Court of Appeals' decision attached, pointing out that this administrative complaint was now
ready for resolution.
In a manifestation dated June 14, 2004, respondent prayed for the resolution of the case and once more
asked for its dismissal. He cited the fact that the Court of Appeals decision made no mention of his
administrative lapses and that his decision was an exercise of purely judicial discretion. He also listed the
various posts he had held as a Regional Trial Court judge as well as the commendations he had received
from the Honorable Chief Justice. He also pointed out that this administrative complaint was the only one
ever filed against him in all his years of service.17
In a memorandum dated August 27, 2004, the Office of the Court Administrator reported its findings.
Because respondent based his assailed order mostly on the ex parte manifestation submitted by the
counsel for plaintiff Aznar, the OCA found him liable for violating Section 4, Rule 13, in relation to Section
5, Rule 15 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure:
(Rule 13)
SEC. 4. Papers required to be filed and served. Every judgment, resolution, order, pleading
subsequent to the complaint, written motion, notice, appearance, demand, offer of judgment or
similar papers shall be filed with the court, and served upon the parties affected.

(Rule 15)
SEC. 4. Hearing of motion. Except for motions which the court may act upon without prejudicing
the rights of the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by the applicant.
According to the OCA, the fact that plaintiff Aznar had failed to serve a copy of his ex parte manifestation
upon Citibank should have been reason enough for respondent to disregard the same.
Likewise noting the fact that the ex parte manifestation was filed beyond office hours, the OCA found that
this "created an idea that there was a covert attempt to favor Aznar." However, citing the absence of
substantial evidence, it pointed out that "it should not be presumed that the procedural lapse committed
by respondent (was) attended by corrupt motive of flagrant disregard of the rules." The OCA also
considered in respondent's favor his defense that he was merely trying to help decongest the dockets.
Finally, the OCA found the charges of gross ignorance of law and incompetence to be without basis, and
found him liable instead for simple misconduct. The OCA recommended a fine of P10,000.
We adopt part of the findings of the Court Administrator.
But we disagree with its finding that the respondent violated both Rules 13 and 15 of the 1997 Revised
Rules of Civil Procedure.
Section 4, Rule 13 requires that adverse parties be served copies of all pleadings and similar papers.
Section 4, Rule 15 requires a movant to set his motion for hearing, unless it is one of those which a court
can act upon without prejudicing the rights of the other party. The prevailing doctrine in our jurisdiction is
that a motion without a notice of hearing addressed to the parties is a mere scrap of paper. 18 In Cui v.
Judge Madayag,19 we held that "any motion that does not contain proof of service of notice to the other
party is not entitled to judicial cognizance. (Such) motion is nothing but a (mere) scrap of paper." It is
important, however, to note that these doctrines refer exclusively to motions.
The logic for such a requirement is simple: a motion invariably contains a prayer which the movant makes
to the court, which is usually in the interest of the adverse party to oppose. The notice of hearing to the
adverse party is therefore a form of due process; it gives the other party the opportunity to properly vent
his opposition to the prayer of the movant. In keeping with the principles of due process, therefore, a
motion which does not afford the adverse party the chance to oppose it should simply be disregarded. The
same principle applies to objections to interrogatories which also require a notice of hearing like motions
under Section 3, Rule 25 of the Rules.20
However, the same cannot be said for manifestations which, unless otherwise indicated, are usually made
merely for the information of the court. There is generally nothing to contest or argue; the manifesting
party is just making a statement for the knowledge of the court, such as in this case. There is nothing in
either the Rules or in jurisprudence that requires judges to disregard a manifestation that does not have
proof of service.
This is not to say, however, that respondent is off the hook. While it is true that he was under no obligation
to disregard Aznar's ex parte manifestation, he should have at least called attention to its irregularity, both
by admonishing Aznar and by informing the adverse party of its filing. That he acted on it indeed,
based his decision on it while Citibank was totally unaware of its existence ran seriously afoul of the
precepts of fair play, specially since respondent only mentioned the document after this administrative
case was filed against him. Indeed, there seems to be something gravely amiss in respondent's sense of
fairness and righteousness, the primary requisites of a good judge.
Furthermore, we cannot help but find extreme bias and bad intent in respondent's award to Aznar of a
whoppingP16.2 million in damages considering that, not having tried the case himself, the only records he
actually read came from no one else but Aznar himself. By itself, the unconscionable amount of the award
evinces indubitable malice on respondent's part and the shady circumstances in which he granted it show
that he knowingly rendered a manifestly unjust decision.

As a member of the judiciary, respondent's every action is supposed to be beyond reproach and above
suspicion. The 2004 Code of Judicial Conduct clearly states that "Judges shall avoid impropriety and the
appearance of impropriety in all of their activities."21 By acting on a document which was sorely defective
(for two reasons: failure to serve a copy on the adverse party and failure to file it during office hours), and
by making an egregiously large award of damages in favor of plaintiff Aznar, he inevitably opened himself
up to suspicion of having entered into a dirty, secret deal with Aznar and thereby severely tarnished the
impartiality with which he was at all times supposed to conduct himself.
Given respondent's actions, we disagree with the OCA's findings of simple misconduct. Because of the
highly anomalous manner in which respondent rendered his decision, as well as the questionable content
of the decision itself, which was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeals, we find him guilty of
knowingly rendering an unjust judgment or order as determined by a competent court in an appropriate
The penalty for this offense ranges from a fine of P20,000, to suspension from three to six months, to
dismissal from the service.23 In this case, the penalty of suspension for six months is appropriate, with a
warning that another such infraction of this nature will warrant a more severe penalty.
WHEREFORE, Judge JESUS S. DE LA PEA is hereby found GUILTY of knowingly rendering an unjust
judgment or order as determined by a competent court in an appropriate proceeding and is hereby
SUSPENDED from office for six months. Considering the gravity of this offense, he is hereby warned that
another infraction of this kind will merit a penalty beyond mere suspension from public office.

A.M. No. RTJ-04-1886

May 16, 2005

The instant administrative case arose from the complaint1 of Alfredo G. Boiser filed with the Office of the
Court Administrator (OCA) charging Judge Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr., Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Himamaylan City,
Negros Occidental, Branch 55, with Grave Abuse of Discretion and Gross Ignorance of the Law.
Complainant Alfredo Boiser was the plaintiff in an ejectment case filed before the Municipal Trial Court
(MTC) of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental. On 11 July 2003, the MTC rendered a decision 2 in favor of
complainant, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant as
1) For the defendant to vacate subject land known as Lot No. 2023 situated at Brgy.
Candumarao, Hinigaran, Negros Occiental, consisting of 5.5536 hectares leased by the
plaintiff from Mary Nonasco and Ofelia Donado, heirs of the registered owners, the late
spouses Narciso Gayares and Paz Nava, and to peacefully turn over possession thereof to
the plaintiff;
2) For the defendant to pay plaintiff the amount of P200,000.00 by way of actual damages;
3) For defendant to pay plaintiff attorneys fees in the amount of P10,000.00 plus P1,000.00
as appearance fee and to pay the cost.
The writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Court is hereby ordered dismissed.
The case was appealed to the RTC of Negros Occidental, Branch 55.
On 15 October 2003, defendant-appellant Salvador Julleza filed a motion to release bond on the ground
that the MTC of Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, in its decision dated 11 July 2003, had already resolved the
writ of preliminary injunction without mentioning the applicants liability.
On 16 October 2003, respondent judge granted the motion.3
Complainant alleged that the issuance by respondent judge of the Order dated 16 October 2003 is
indicative of his ignorance of the law considering that the motion did not state that he was furnished a
copy of the motion thereby depriving him of his right to due process. He also averred that the motion was
a mere scrap of paper for failure to state the time and date of hearing. He further alleged that respondent
manifested gross ignorance when he resolved to grant the motion to release the injunction bond
considering that the same was meant to answer for damages that he may suffer due to defendants
continued illegal possession of the land.
On 15 January 2004, the OCA required4 respondent to file his comment.
In his comment5 dated 12 February 2004, respondent judge maintained that the filing of the administrative
complaint against him is hasty and uncalled for. He said there must have been a miscommunication
between the complainant and his counsel because had either of them exerted effort to find out the result

of the appealed case, they would have discovered that he affirmed in toto the decision of the lower court
in favor of the complainant.
On 14 April 2004, complainant filed6 a motion to withdraw complaint.
On 3 August 2004, the OCA submitted its recommendation,7 thus:
Respectfully submitted to the Honorable Court our recommendation that this administrative case be
RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter and that respondent Judge Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr., be
FINED in the amount of P21,000.00 for Gross Ignorance of the Law and be STERNLY WARNED that a
repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
On 17 November 2004, we referred8 the case to Court of Appeals Justice Monina Zenarosa for
investigation, report and investigation. Consequently, the case was scheduled for preliminary conference
on 17 February 2005. On the said date, complainant Alfredo Boiser, with his counsel Atty. Salvador Sabio,
and respondent judge appeared. During the preliminary conference, Atty. Sabio manifested that the
complainant had already filed his motion to withdraw the complaint and was no longer interested in
pursuing the case. On the other hand, respondent judge manifested he had retired from the service as of
01 November 2004 and is now appearing as a private citizen. He further informed the court that he was
submitting the case without further comment as he had already filed his comment to the complaint.
After investigation, Justice Zenarosa submitted her report9 recommending the dismissal of the complaint.
Prefatorily, the Court must reiterate the rule that mere desistance on the part of the complainant does not
warrant the dismissal of an administrative complaint against any member of the bench. The withdrawal of
complaints cannot divest the Court of its jurisdiction nor strip it of its power to determine the veracity of
the charges made and to discipline, such as the results of its investigation may warrant, an erring
respondent. The courts interest in the affairs of the judiciary is a paramount concern that must not know
Anent respondents retirement on 01 November 2004, it has been settled that the Court is not ousted of its
jurisdiction over an administrative case by the mere fact that the respondent public official ceases to hold
office during the pendency of respondents case.11 This was expounded in the case of Perez v.
Abiera,12 cited in the case of Judge Rolando G. How v. Teodora Ruiz, et. al.,13 thus:
[T]he jurisdiction that was Ours at the time of the filing of the administrative complaint was not lost
by the mere fact that the respondent public official had ceased to be in office during the pendency
of his case. The court retains its jurisdiction either to pronounce the respondent official innocent of
the charges or declare him guilty thereof. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustices and
pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications. x x x If only for reasons of public policy, this
Court must assert and maintain its jurisdiction over members of the judiciary and other officials
under its supervision and control for acts performed in office which are inimical to the service and
prejudicial to the interests of litigants and the general public. If innocent, respondent official merits
vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves the government which he served well and
faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and
imposable under the situation.
We shall now discuss respondents liability relative to the lack of notice of hearing and proof of service of
the questioned motion.
The Rules of Court requires that every motion must be set for hearing by the movant, except those
motions which the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of the adverse party. The notice of
hearing must be addressed to all parties and must specify the time and date of the hearing, with proof of
service. Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure provide:

SECTION 4. Hearing of motion.- Except for motions which the court may act upon without
prejudicing the rights of the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by the
Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall be served in
such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days before the date of
hearing, unless the court for good cause sets the hearing on shorter notice.
SEC. 5. Notice of hearing.- The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all parties concerned, and
shall specify the time and date of the hearing which must not be later than ten (10) days after the
filing of the motion.
SEC. 6. Proof of service necessary.- No written motion set for hearing shall be acted upon by the
court without proof of service thereof.
It appears that the Motion to Release Bond was defective as it did not have a proper notice of hearing. The
date and time of the hearing were not specified. Neither complainant nor his counsel was furnished a copy
thereof. These were never controverted by respondent judge.
A motion without notice of hearing is pro forma, a mere scrap of paper. It presents no question which the
court could decide. The court has no reason to consider it and the clerk has no right to receive it. The
rationale behind the rule is plain: unless the movant sets the time and place of hearing, the court will be
unable to determine whether the adverse party agrees or objects to the motion, and if he objects, to hear
him on his objection, since the rules themselves do not fix any period within which he may file his reply or
opposition.14 The objective of the rule is to avoid a capricious change of mind in order to provide due
process to both parties and ensure impartiality in the trial. 15
Also, without proof of service to the adverse party, a motion is nothing but an empty formality deserving
no judicial cognizance.16 The rule mandates that the same shall not be acted upon by the court. Proof of
service is mandatory.17
As can be seen the law involved is simple and elementary, lack of conversance therewith constitutes gross
ignorance of the law. Judges are expected to exhibit more than just cursory acquaintance with statutes and
procedural laws. They must know the laws and apply them properly in all good faith. Judicial competence
requires no less.18
Clearly, respondent judge had ignored a fundamental rule. He acted too precipitately in granting
defendants motion despite the absence of the requirements as above prescribed. As a judge, Judge
Aguirre is expected to keep abreast of laws and prevailing jurisprudence. 19 Unfamiliarity with the rules is a
sign of incompetence. Basic rules must be at the palm of his hand. A judge must be acquainted with legal
norms and precepts as well as with procedural rules.20 When a judge displays utter lack of familiarity with
the rules, he erodes the confidence of the public in the courts. 21 Ignorance of the law by a judge can easily
be the mainspring of injustice.22
Thus, in the following cases a fine of Five Thousand Pesos was imposed:
1. In Mutilan v. Adiong,23 A.M. No. RTJ-00-1581, 2 July 2002, 383 SCRA 513, the Court found
respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law for granting a motion for garnishment without
compliance with the proof of service and notice of hearing requirements, and was sentenced to pay
a fine of Five Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos with a stern warning that repetition of the same or similar
acts in the future will be dealt with more severely.
2. In Espino v. Salubre,24 the court found respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law and
was sentenced to pay a fine of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), when respondent judge continued
with the investigation and subsequent issuance of a warrant of arrest against complainant

notwithstanding that the records of the case had been transmitted to the provincial fiscal and an
information has already been filed in court.
3. In Josefina M. Villanueva v. MTC Judge Benjamin E. Almazan,25 the court found respondent judge
guilty of gross ignorance of the law and was sentenced to pay a fine of Five Thousand Pesos
(P5,000.00), with stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more
severely, when he conducted a preliminary investigation in a case cognizable by the Municipal Trial
4. In Acting Solicitor General Romeo de la Cruz v. Judge Carlito A. Eisma, RTC, Branch 13,
Zamboanga City,26 a fine of P5,000.00 was imposed on the respondent judge for gross ignorance of
the law and abuse of authority, for preventing the execution of the decision of the RTC, Branch 17, a
court of equal rank and jurisdiction.
Ignorance of the law, which everyone is bound to know, excuses no one 27 - much more so judges. It is a
truism that the life chosen by a judge as a dispenser of justice is one which is demanding. By virtue of the
delicate position which he occupies in the society, he is duty bound to be the embodiment of competence
and integrity.28Because of this, a judge who is not knowledgeable of the law which he is obligated to
implement will not be able to live up to the judiciarys exacting standards. 29
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr., of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental,
Branch 55, guilty of gross ignorance of the law, and hereby imposes on him a fine of FIVE THOUSAND
PESOS (P5,000.00) to be deducted from his retirement benefits.

A.M. No. RTJ-05-1921 (Formerly OCA IPI No. 04-1973-RTJ) September 30, 2005

In a complaint[1] dated February 4, 2004 filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), complainant
Maria Teresa H. De Jesus charged respondent Judge Renato J. Dilag of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo
City, Branch 73, with gross ignorance of the law, rendering unjust orders, abuse of authority and misuse of
court processes.
Complainant alleged inter alia that on August 26, 2002, her husband Wolfgang Heinrich Konrad
Harlinghausen (Harlinghausen) filed a petition for declaration of nullity of their marriage with the Regional
Trial Court of Olongapo City, Branch 73, docketed as Civil Case No. 364-0-2002.
On August 27, 2002, Harlinghausen, through counsel, filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve
Properties to be Collated. On the same day, respondent judge issued an Order [2] setting the hearing of the
motion on August 30, 2002.
On August 29, 2002, complainant received summons in Civil Case No. 364-0-2002. Forthwith, she filed a
motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of improper venue. This was denied by respondent judge.
On August 30, 2002, respondent judge considered the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be
Collated submitted for resolution after hearing the testimonies of Harlinghausens attorney-in-fact, Harry E.
Joost, and his counsel of record, Atty. Edmundo S. Carian.
On September 3, 2002, respondent judge issued an Order [3] granting the urgent ex-parte motion and
placing under legal custody the properties enumerated therein. The Register of Deeds of Tarlac, among
others, was directed to annotate the Order on the 62 land titles allegedly purchased by Harlinghausens
wife using his money without his consent.
On October 2, 2002, Harlinghausen, through counsel, filed another Ex-Parte Motion praying for the
issuance of an Order directing the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) to allow him to enter this
country in order to prosecute his petition for declaration of nullity of marriage.
On October 4, 2002, respondent judge issued an Order granting Harlinghausens Ex-Parte Motion.
Eventually, complainant filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari assailing respondent
judges Order dated September 3, 2002 granting Harlinghausens Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve
Properties to be Collated; Order dated October 4, 2002 granting his Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to enter this
country; and Order denying her (complainants) motion to dismiss the complaint for improper venue.
Complainant averred that in issuing the challenged Orders, respondent judge acted with grave abuse of
discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The petition was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 74167.
On February 20, 2003, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision [4] granting complainants petition,
declaring void the assailed Orders dated September 3 and October 4, 2002 and dismissing the complaint
in Civil Case No. 364-0-2002 for declaration of marriage for improper venue.
Harlinghausen filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the Appellate Court. He then
filed with this Court a petition for review on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 158333. In a Resolution of June
23, 2003, we denied the petition for his failure to show that the Court of Appeals committed a reversible
error. Upon finality of our Resolution on August 12, 2003, an Entry of Judgment was made on October 3,
Complainant now contends that respondent judge, in issuing the Order of September 3, 2002
granting Harlinghausens Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be Collated, is ignorant of the
law and abused his authority. The motion lacks the notice of hearing to be served upon the adverse party
three (3) days before the hearing; and proof of service of the motion upon the adverse party.
Complainant further contends that in issuing the Order dated October 4, 2002 directing the BID to
allow Harlinghausen to enter this country, respondent judge abused his authority and misused court
In his comment, respondent judge explained that he did not disregard the basic procedural rules.
Although the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be Collated lacks a notice of hearing,

nevertheless he set the motion for hearing to enable the adverse party, herein complainant, to participate
therein or to file an opposition. Besides, the Rules allow him to act upon an ex-parte motion requiring quick
action, like the motion before him. There was urgency considering that the conjugal funds are being
misappropriated by complainant. Moreover, he conducted clarificatory hearing. At any rate, his questioned
Order is not tainted with bad faith or fraud.
With respect to the Order of October 4, 2002, respondent judge explained that he did not overstep
his jurisdiction. He recognized the authority of the BID. In fact, he stated in his questioned Order that it is
without prejudice to the authority of the BID over Harlinghausen.
In his Report and Recommendation, Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. stated inter
alia that:
A thorough examination of the instant case reveals abuse of authority bordering on
gross ignorance of the law. Records show that, relative to the petition for declaration of
nullity of marriage, respondent Judge issued at least two orders that were bluntly nullified by
the appellate court. The rules and principles ignored were so basic, and haste was
characteristically palpable from the incidents.
Likewise, respondent cannot take shield from the fact that his assailed orders were
already set aside by the appellate court through the proper judicial remedies. Precisely, his
cited jurisprudence itself explicitly states, It is only after the available judicial remedies have
been exhausted or when the appellate tribunal have spoken with finality that the door to an
inquiry to his administrative liability may be said to have opened or closed. A display of
haste and disregard of basic rules is a norm incompatible with the prudent attitude and
sobriety expected of a good judge.
He recommended that:
1. The instant complaint be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter;
2. The respondent Judge, for abuse of authority and gross ignorance of the law, be
accordingly meted a FINE in the amount of twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) with
a WARNING that future similar infractions shall be dealt with more severely.
In our Resolution[6] dated January 24, 2005, we required the parties to manifest whether they are
submitting the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings and records filed.
Subsequently, both parties submitted their respective Manifestations stating their willingness to
submit the case for decision based on the records.
On the challenged Order of September 3, 2002, Sections 4, 5 and 6, Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure, as amended, are pertinent, thus:
SECTION 4. Hearing of motion. Except for motions which the court may act upon
without prejudicing the rights of the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for
hearing by the applicant.
Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall
be served in such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days
before the date of hearing, unless the court for good cause sets the hearing on shorter
SECTION 5. Notice of hearing. The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all parties
concerned, and shall specify the time and date of the hearing which must not be later than
ten (10) days after the filing of the motion.
SECTION 6. Proof of service necessary. No written motion set for hearing shall be
acted upon by the court without proof of service thereof.
Obviously, respondent judge blatantly disregarded the above provisions. Instead of denying the
motion outright for being manifestly defective, he granted the same. While he set the motion for hearing,
still the three-day notice was not observed, thus complainant failed to attend the hearing. Clearly, she was
deprived of her right to due process.

When a judge fails to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law, or a principle in the discharge of
his duties, he is either too incompetent and undeserving of his position, or is too vicious that the oversight
or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority. In both instances,
the judges dismissal is in order.[7]
Likewise, respondents failure to afford complainant the opportunity to be heard as a matter of due
process of law deserves administrative sanction.[8]
Relative to the challenged Order dated October 4, 2002, respondent judge shows his ignorance of
the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended. This law confers upon the Commissioner of the BID,
to the exclusion of the courts of justice, the power and authority to enforce its provisions, specifically the
admission of foreigners to this country.
We sustain the observation of the Court of Appeals [9] that the Order of respondent judge directing
the BID to allow the entry of Harlinghausen to this country would effectively countermand the order of
detention[10] issued by the BID and constitutes an intrusion into its prerogatives as regards the entry,
admission, exclusion, registration, repatriation, monitoring and deportation of foreigners within our
national territory.
In his desperate attempt to evade administrative sanction, respondent judge maintains that since
complainant has already resorted to a proper remedy, i.e., by filing a petition for certiorari with the Court
of Appeals questioning his twin Orders, she is barred from filing the instant administrative complaint
involving the same Orders. He cited our ruling in Hilario vs. Ocampo III, 371 SCRA 260 (2001) that where
some judicial means is available, an administrative complaint is not the appropriate remedy for an act of a
judge deemed aberrant or irregular.
While it is true that the Court of Appeals has set aside the questioned twin Orders, the fact remains
that respondent judge has shown his ignorance of both substantive and procedural laws which warrants an
administrative sanction.
The Court recognizes that not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law and that, if committed in
good faith, does not warrant administrative sanction, but only in cases within the parameters of tolerable
misjudgment. Where, however, the procedure is so simple and the facts so evident as to be beyond
permissible margins of error, as in this case, to still err thereon amounts to ignorance of the law. [11]
In this case, respondent judge displayed a deplorable deficiency in his grasp of the basic principles
governing motions, specifically, the three-day notice rule and the requisite proof of service. Also, he
showed his utter lack of knowledge and understanding of our immigration laws.
As an advocate of justice and a visible representation of the law, a judge is expected to keep
abreast with and be proficient in the application and interpretation of the law. [12] When the law is
sufficiently basic, as what is involved in the present case, a judge owes it to his office to simply apply it;
anything less than that would be gross ignorance of the law.[13]
In Tugot v. Coliflores,[14] we held that judicial competence demands that judges should be proficient
in both procedural and substantive aspects of the law. Anything less than this strict standard would subject
them to administrative sanction.
It is imperative that judges be conversant with basic legal principles. The Code of Judicial Conduct,
in fact, enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. [15]
Under Section 1, Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court on the Discipline of Justices and Judges, gross
ignorance of the law is classified as a serious charge punishable by either dismissal from the service,
suspension from office or a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.
We believe that an imposition of P30,000.00 fine upon respondent judge is in order.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Renato J. Dilag is hereby found GUILTY of gross ignorance of the
law and is ordered to pay a FINE of THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00) upon notice.

G.R. No. 142316

November 22, 2001


CORPORATION,petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and BENJAMIN A. TANGO, respondents.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari praying for the reversal of the Resolution 1 dated June 4, 1999
issued by the former Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 60460, which dismissed
the appeal of herein petitioners on procedural grounds as well as its Resolution of February 23, 2000 which
denied their motion for reconsideration.
The relevant facts are:
On March 30, 1998, the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 227 issued a Decision 2 in Civil Case No.
Q-95-24332,3 the dispositive portion of which is hereunder quoted:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant San Miguel Corporation is hereby ordered
1. To release to the plaintiff the owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. 299551 in the same [sic] of
Benjamin A. Tango;
2. To release to plaintiff the originals of the REM contracts dated December 4, 1990 and February
17, 1992 and to cause the cancellation of the annotation of the same on plaintiffs [sic] TCT No.
3. To pay the plaintiff the following sums:
3.1. P100,000.00 as and by way of moral damages;
3.2. P50,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees;
3.3. costs of suit.
In brief, the case involved the cancellation of two (2) real estate mortgages in favor of petitioner San
Miguel Corporation (SMC) executed by private respondent Benjamin A. Tango over his house and lot in
Quezon City. The mortgages were third party or accommodation mortgages on behalf of the spouses
Bernardino and Carmelita Ibarra who were dealers of SMC products in Aparri, Cagayan. Other defendants
in the case were Francisco A.G. De Liano and Alberto O. Villa-Abrille, Jr., who are senior executives of
petitioner SMC.
SMC, De Liano and Abrille appealed the aforesaid decision to the Court of Appeals. In due time, their
counsel, Atty. Edgar B. Afable, filed an Appellants' Brief4 which failed to comply with Section 13, Rule 44 of
the Rules of Court. The appellee (herein private respondent) was quick to notice these deficiencies, and
accordingly filed a "Motion to Dismiss Appeal"5 dated March 8, 1999. Required to comment,6 the appellants
averred that their brief had substantially complied with the contents as set forth in the rules. They
proffered the excuse that the omissions were only the result of oversight or inadvertence and as such
could be considered "harmless" errors. They prayed for liberality in the application of technical rules,
adding that they have a meritorious defense.
On June 4, 1999, the appellate court issued the first assailed resolution 7 dismissing the appeal. The Court
of Appeals held, as follows:




As pointed out by plaintiff-appellee, the Brief does not contain a Subject Index nor a Table of Cases
and Authorities, with page references. Moreover, the Statement of the Case, Statement of Facts,
and Arguments in the Brief has no page reference to the record. These procedural lapses justify the
dismissal of the appeal, pursuant to Section 1 (f), Rule 50 of 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended, which reads:
"SECTION 1. Grounds for dismissal of appeal. An appeal may be dismissed by the Court of
Appeals, on its own motion, or on that of the appellee, on the following grounds:



(f) Absence of specific assignment of errors in the appellant's brief, or of page references to
the record as required in section 13, paragraphs (a), (c), (d) and (f) of Rule 44;"



Finally, defendants-appellants, despite having been notified of such defects, still failed to amend
their Brief to conform to the Rules, and instead, argues that these are mere "harmless errors." In
the case of Del Rosario v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 113899, February 22, 1996, 241 SCRA
553 [1996], the Supreme Court, in sustaining the dismissal of the petitioner's appeal for noncompliance with the rule on the contents of the Appellant's Brief, ruled that:
"Long ingrained in our jurisprudence is the rule that the right to appeal is a statutory right
and a party who seeks to avail of the right must faithfully comply with the rules. x x x These
rules are designed to facilitate the orderly disposition of appealed cases. In an age where
courts are bedeviled by clogged dockets, these rules need to be followed by appellants with
greater fidelity. Their observance cannot be left to the whims and caprices of appellants. x x
Having ruled as such, the Court need not resolve plaintiff- appellee's contention that the issues
raised in the appeal are mere questions of law.
The appellants (herein petitioners) sought to have the foregoing resolution reconsidered. Simultaneously,
through the same counsel, they filed a "Motion to Admit Amended Defendants-Appellants' Brief." 8 The
appellate court denied the consolidated motions in its Resolution9 of February 23, 2000.
From the denial of their motion for reconsideration, only petitioner SMC interposed the instant petition. 10 As
grounds for allowance, petitioner contends that:
1. There are valid grounds to reverse the RTC's award of damages in favor of Tango. The
award of damages has no basis in fact or in law.

2. The appeal involves a question of substance which should have been resolved by the
Court of Appeals, to wit: whether a third party mortgagor can unilaterally withdraw the
mortgage without the consent of the debtor and creditor.
The petition has no merit.
The premise that underlies all appeals is that they are merely rights which arise from statute; therefore,
they must be exercised in the manner prescribed by law. It is to this end that rules governing pleadings
and practice before appellate courts were imposed. These rules were designed to assist the appellate court
in the accomplishment of its tasks, and overall, to enhance the orderly administration of justice.
In his definition of a brief, Justice Malcolm explained thus:
x x x [L]et it be recalled that the word "brief" is derived from the Latin brevis, and the French briefe,
and literally means a short or condensed statement. The purpose of the brief, as all law students
and lawyers know, is to present to the court in concise form the points and questions in
controversy, and by fair argument on the facts and law of the case to assist the court in arriving at
a just and proper conclusion. The brief should be so prepared as to minimize the labor of the court
in the examination of the record upon which the appeal is heard and determined. 11 [emphasis
Relative thereto, Section 13, Rule 44 of the Revised Rules of Court governs the format to be followed by the
appellant in drafting his brief, as follows:
Contents of appellant's brief. The appellant's brief shall contain, in the order herein indicated, the
(a) A subject index of the matter in the brief with a digest of the arguments and page references,
and a table of cases alphabetically arranged, textbooks and statutes cited with references to the
pages where they are cited;
(b) An assignment of errors intended to be urged, which errors shall be separately, distinctly and
concisely stated without repetition and numbered consecutively;
(c) Under the heading "Statement of the Case," a clear and concise statement of the nature of the
action, a summary of the proceedings, the appealed rulings and orders of the court, the nature of
the judgment and any other matters necessary to an understanding of the nature of the
controversy, with page references to the record;
(d) Under the heading "Statement of Facts," a clear and concise statement in a narrative form of
the facts admitted by both parties and of those in controversy, together with the substance of the
proof resulting thereto in sufficient detail to make it clearly intelligible, with page references to the
(e) A clear and concise statement of the issues of fact or law to be submitted to the court for its
(f) Under the heading "Argument," the appellant's arguments on each assignment of error with
page references to the record. The authorities relied upon shall be cited by the page of the report at
which the case begins and the page of the report on which the citation is found;
(g) Under the heading "Relief," a specification of the order or judgment which the appellant seeks;

(h) In cases not brought up by record on appeal, the appellant's brief shall contain, as an appendix,
a copy of the judgment or final order appealed from.
This particular rule was instituted with reason, and most certainly, it was not intended to become " a
custom more honored in the breach than in the observance." It has its logic, which is to present to the
appellate court in the most helpful light, the factual and legal antecedents of a case on appeal.
The first requirement of an appellant's brief is a subject index. The index is intended to facilitate the review
of appeals by providing ready reference, functioning much like a table of contents. Unlike in other
jurisdiction, there is no limit on the length of appeal briefs or appeal memoranda filed before appellate
courts. The danger of this is the very real possibility that the reviewing tribunal will be swamped with
voluminous documents. This occurs even though the rules consistently urge the parties to be "brief" or
"concise" in the drafting of pleadings, briefs, and other papers to be filed in court. The subject index makes
readily available at one's fingertips the subject of the contents of the brief so that the need to thumb
through the brief page after page to locate a party's arguments, or a particular citation, or whatever else
needs to be found and considered, is obviated.
An assignment of errors follows the subject index. It is defined in this wise:
An assignment of errors in appellate procedure is an enumeration by appellant or plaintiff in error of
the errors alleged to have been committed by the court below in the trial of the case upon which he
seeks to obtain a reversal of the judgment or decree; it is in the nature of a pleading, and performs
in the appellate court the same office as a declaration or complaint in a court of original jurisdiction.
Such an assignment is appellant's complaint, or pleading, in the appellate court, and takes the
place of a declaration or bill; an appeal without an assignment of errors would be similar to a suit
without a complaint, bill, or declaration. The assignment is appellant's declaration or complaint
against the trial judge, charging harmful error, and proof vel non of assignment is within the record
on appeal.



The object of such pleadings is to point out the specific errors claimed to have been committed by
the court below, in order to enable the reviewing court and the opposing party to see on what
points appellant or plaintiff in error intends to ask a reversal of the judgment or decree, and to limit
discussion to those points. The office of an assignment of errors is not to point out legal
contentions, but only to inform the appellate court that appellant assigns as erroneous certain
named rulings; the function of the assignment is to group and bring forward such of the exceptions
previously noted in the case on appeal as appellant desires to preserve and present to the
It has been held that a general assignment of errors is unacceptable under the rules. Thus, a statement of
the following tenor: that "the Court of First Instance of this City incurred error in rendering the judgment
appealed from, for it is contrary to law and the weight of the evidence," was deemed insufficient. 13 The
appellant has to specify in what aspect of the law or the facts that the trial court erred. The conclusion,
therefore, is that the appellant must carefully formulate his assignment of errors. Its importance cannot be
underestimated, as Section 8, Rule 51 of the Rules of Court will attest:
Questions that may be decided. No error which does not affect the jurisdiction over the subject
matter or the validity of the judgment appealed from or the proceedings therein will be considered
unless stated in the assignment of errors, or closely related to or dependent on an assigned error
and properly argued in the brief, save as the court may pass upon plain errors and clerical errors.
The rules then require that an appellant's brief must contain both a "statement of the case" and a
"statement of facts." A statement of the case gives the appellate tribunal an overview of the judicial
antecedents of the case, providing material information regarding the nature of the controversy, the

proceedings before the trial court, the orders and rulings elevated on appeal, and the judgment itself.
These data enable the appellate court to have a better grasp of the matter entrusted to it for its appraisal.
In turn, the statement of facts comprises the very heart of the appellant's brief. The facts constitute the
backbone of a legal argument; they are determinative of the law and jurisprudence applicable to the case,
and consequently, will govern the appropriate relief. Appellants should remember that the Court of Appeals
is empowered to review both questions of law and of facts. Otherwise, where only a pure question of law is
involved, appeal would pertain to this Court. An appellant, therefore, should take care to state the facts
accurately though it is permissible to present them in a manner favorable to one party. The brief must
state the facts admitted by the parties, as well as the facts in controversy. To laymen, the distinction may
appear insubstantial, but the difference is clear to the practitioner and the student of law. Facts which are
admitted require no further proof, whereas facts in dispute must be backed by evidence. Relative thereto,
the rule specifically requires that one's statement of facts should be supported by page references to the
record. Indeed, disobedience therewith has been punished by dismissal of the appeal. 14 Page references to
the record are not an empty requirement. If a statement of fact is unaccompanied by a page reference to
the record, it may be presumed to be without support in the record and may be stricken or disregarded
When the appellant has given an account of the case and of the facts, he is required to state the issues to
be considered by the appellate court. The statement of issues is not to be confused with the assignment of
errors: they are not one and the same, for otherwise, the rules would not require a separate statement for
each. The statement of issues puts forth the questions of fact or law to be resolved by the appellate court.
What constitutes a question of fact or one of law should be clear by now:
At this point, the distinction between a question of fact and a question of law must be clear. As
distinguished from a question of law which exists "when the doubt or difference arises as to what
the law is on certain state of facts""there is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises
as to the truth or the falsehood of alleged facts;" or when the "query necessarily invites calibration
of the whole evidence considering mainly the credibility of witnesses, existence and relevancy of
specific surrounding circumstances, their relation to each other and to the whole and the
probabilities of the situation."16
Thereafter, the appellant is required to present his arguments on each assigned error. An appellant's
arguments go hand in hand with his assignment of errors, for the former provide the justification
supporting his contentions, and in so doing resolves the issues. It will not do to impute error on the part of
the trial court without substantiation. The mere elevation on appeal of a judgment does not create a
presumption that it was rendered in error. The appellant has to show that he is entitled to the reversal of
the judgment appealed, and he cannot do this unless he provides satisfactory reasons for doing so. It is
therefore essential that
x x x [A]s far as possible, the errors and reasons assigned should be supported by a citation of
authorities. The failure to do so has been said to be inexcusable; and, although a point made in the
brief is before the court even though no authorities are cited and may be considered and will be
where a proposition of well established law is stated, the court is not required to search out
authorities, but may presume that counsel has found no case after diligent search or that the point
has been waived or abandoned, and need not consider the unsupported errors assigned, and
ordinarily will not give consideration to such errors and reasons unless it is apparent without further
research that the assignments of errors presented are well taken. 17
In this regard, the rules require that authorities should be cited by the page of the report at which the case
begins,as well as the page of the report where the citation is found. This rule is imposed for the
convenience of the appellate court, for obvious reasons: since authorities relied upon by the parties are
checked for accuracy and aptness, they are located more easily as the appellate court is not bound to
peruse volume upon volume, and page after page, of reports.

Lastly, the appellant is required to state, under the appropriate heading, the reliefs prayed for. In so doing,
the appellate court is left in no doubt as to the result desired by the appellant, and act as the
circumstances may warrant.
Some may argue that adherence to these formal requirements serves but a meaningless purpose, that
these may be ignored with little risk in the smug certainty that liberality in the application of procedural
rules can always be relied upon to remedy the infirmities. This misses the point. We are not martinets; in
appropriate instances, we are prepared to listen to reason, and to give relief as the circumstances may
warrant. However, when the error relates to something so elementary as to be inexcusable, our discretion
becomes nothing more than an exercise in frustration. It comes as an unpleasant shock to us that the
contents of an appellant's brief should still be raised as an issue now. There is nothing arcane or novel
about the provisions of Section 13, Rule 44. The rule governing the contents of appellants' briefs has
existed since the old Rules of Court,18 which took effect on July 1, 1940, as well as the Revised Rules of
Court,19 which took effect on January 1, 1964, until they were superseded by the present 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure. The provisions were substantially preserved, with few revisions.
An additional circumstance impels us to deny the reinstatement of petitioner's appeal. We observed that
petitioner submitted an "Amended Appellant's Brief" to cure the infirmities of the one first filed on its
behalf by its lawyer. All things being equal, we would have been inclined to grant the petition until we
realized that the attempt at compliance was, at most, only a cosmetic procedure. On closer scrutiny, the
amended brief was as defective as the first. Where the first brief lacked an assignment of errors but
included a statement of issues, the amended brief suffered a complete reversal: it had an assignment of
errors but no statement of issues. The "statement of facts" lacked page references to the record, a
deficiency symptomatic of the first. Authorities were cited in an improper manner, that is, the exact page
of the report where the citation was lifted went unspecified. 20 The amended brief did not even follow the
prescribed order: the assignment of errors came after the statement of the case and the statement of
facts. No one could be expected to ignore such glaring errors, as in the case at bar. The half-hearted
attempt at submitting a supposedly amended brief only serves to harden our resolve to demand a strict
observance of the rules.
We remind members of the bar that their first duty is to comply with the rules, not to seek exceptions. As
was expressed more recently in Del Rosario v. Court of Appeals,21 which was rightfully quoted by the
appellate court, we ruled that:
Petitioner's plea for liberality in applying these rules in preparing Appellants' Brief does not deserve
any sympathy. Long ingrained in our jurisprudence is the rule that the right to appeal is a statutory
right and a party who seeks to avail of the right must faithfully comply with the rules. In People v.
Marong, we held that deviations from the rules cannot be tolerated. The rationale for this strict
attitude is not difficult to appreciate. These rules are designed to facilitate the orderly disposition of
appealed cases. In an age where courts are bedeviled by clogged dockets, these rules need to be
followed by appellants with greater fidelity. Their observance cannot be after to the whims and
caprices of appellants. In the case at bar, counselor petitioners had all the opportunity to comply
with the above rules. He remained obstinate in his non-observance even when he sought
reconsideration of the ruling of the respondent court dismissing his clients' appeal. Such obstinacy
is incongruous with his late plea for liberality in construing the rules on appeal. [italics supplied]
Anent the second issue, it may prove useful to elucidate on the processing of appeals in the Court of
Appeals. In so doing, it will help to explain why the former Fourteenth Division of the appellate court could
not look into the merits of the appeal, as petitioner corporation is urging us to do now.
The Rules of Court prescribe two (2) modes of appeal from decisions of the Regional Trial Courts to the
Court of Appeals. When the trial court decides a case in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, the mode of
review is by an ordinary appeal in accordance with Section 2(a) of Rule 41. 22 In contrast, where the
assailed decision was rendered by the trial court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the mode of
appeal is via a petition for review pursuant to Rule 42.23 We are more concerned here about the first mode

since the case at bar involves a decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court exercising its original
Cases elevated to the Court of Appeals are treated differently depending upon their classification into one
of three (3) categories: appealed civil cases, appealed criminal cases, and special cases. 24 Be it noted that
all cases are under the supervision and control of the members of the Court of Appeals in all stages, from
the time of filing until the remand of the cases to the courts or agencies of origin. 25 Ordinary appealed civil
cases undergo two (2) stages. The first stage consists of completion of the records. The second stage is for
study and report, which follows when an appealed case is deemed submitted for decision, thus:
When case deemed submitted for judgment. A case shall be deemed submitted for judgment:
A. In ordinary appeals.
1) Where no hearing on the merits of the main case is held, upon the filing of the last
pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the Rules or by the court itself, or the
expiration of the period for its filing;
2) Where such a hearing is held, upon its termination or upon the filing of the last pleading
or memorandum as may be required or permitted to be filed by the court, or the expiration
of the period for its filing.26



At each stage, a separate raffle is held. Thus, a preliminary raffle is held at which time an appealed
case is assigned to a Justice for completion. After completion, when the case is deemed ripe for
judgment, a second raffle is conducted to determine the Justice to whom the case will be assigned
for study and report.27 Each stage is distinct; it may happen that the Justice to whom the case was
initially raffled for completion may not be the same Justice who will write the decision thereon.
The aforesaid distinction has a bearing on the case at bar. It becomes apparent that the merits of the
appeal can only be looked into during the second stage. The Justice in-charge of completion exceeds his
province should he examine the merits of the case since his function is to oversee completion only. The
prerogative of determining the merits of an appeal pertains properly to the Justice to whom the case is
raffled for study and report. The case at bar did not reach the second stage; it was dismissed during
completion stage pursuant to Section 1 (f) of Rule 50. Consequently, petitioner's contention that the
appellate court should have considered the substance of the appeal prior to dismissing it due to
technicalities does not gain our favor.
Generally, the negligence of counsel binds his client. Actually, Atty. Afable is also an employee of petitioner
San Miguel Corporation.28 Yet even this detail will not operate in petitioner's favor. A corporation, it should
be recalled, is an artificial being whose juridical personality is only a fiction created by law. It can only
exercise its powers and transact its business through the instrumentalities of its board of directors, and
through its officers and agents, when authorized by resolution or its by-laws.
x x x Moreover, " . x x x a corporate officer or agent may represent and bind the corporation in
transactions with third persons to the extent that authority to do so has been conferred upon him,
and this includes powers which have been intentionally conferred, and also such powers as, in the
usual course of the particular business, are incidental to, or may be implied from, the powers
intentionally conferred, powers added by custom and usage, as usually pertaining to the particular
officer or agent, and such apparent powers as the corporation has caused persons dealing with the
officer or agent to believe that it has conferred.29
That Atty. Afable was clothed with sufficient authority to bind petitioner SMC is undisputable. Petitioner
SMC's board resolution of May 5, 1999 attests to that. Coupled with the provision of law that a lawyer has

authority to bind his client in taking appeals and in all matters of ordinary judicial procedure, 30 a
fortiori then, petitioner SMC must be held bound by the actuations of its counsel of record, Atty. Afable.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit, with cost against petitioner San
Miguel Corporation.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing and Buena, JJ., concur.