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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 172426

October 17, 2008

AIR TRANSPORTATION OFFICE, petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (EIGHTEENTH DIVISION) and BERNIE G. MIAQUE, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
In this Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus, petitioner assails the Resolutions dated April 21, 2006 1 and May 3, 20062 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. SP No. 01672 and seeks to compel the Court of Appeals to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued.
This case involved certain parcels of land (concession area) identified as Lot No. 3124-B-4 covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
T-16508; Lot No. 3136-B covered by TCT No. 13666; and Lot No. 3264-A declared under Tax Declaration PIN 139-05-019-02-015. 3 The
antecedent facts are as follows:
On July 2, 2001, private respondent Bernie G. Miaque filed an action for enforcement of contract, injunction with prayer for TRO and/or
preliminary injunction and damages against petitioner alleging that petitioner was making improvements in the concession area it had leased
to him. This case was raffled to Branch 33 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City and docketed as Civil Case No. 01-26825.
On August 8, 2001, the RTC nullified the concession permit issued by Air Transportation Office (ATO) Area Manager Edmundo Gerochi to
private respondent, who then sought a reconsideration, but it was denied in the RTCs Order 4 dated April 15, 2002. Accordingly, the Amended
Order5 dated August 8, 2001 had become final and executory.
Sometime in June 2004, however, private respondent resumed business over the concession area despite petitioners protest and even
operated therein a carwash service, which was not included in the concession permit. Consequently, petitioner sent a demand letter 6 to private
respondent to vacate the concession area and to return possession of the same, but said demand proved futile.
On October 25, 2004, petitioner filed an Amended Complaint7 for unlawful detainer against private respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 04344 before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Iloilo City. Both parties admitted that on January 18, 1989, ATO Area Manager
Gerochi issued to private respondent a concession permit to operate a paid parking space and taxicab and limousine service in the Iloilo City
Airport for a period of 15 years. However, petitioner pointed out that by its terms, the concession permit 8 had already expired on January 18,
2004.
In a Decision9 dated January 9, 2006, the MTCC ordered private respondent to immediately vacate and deliver to petitioner the concession
area occupied by private respondent and to remove and demolish all buildings, structures and other improvements introduced
thereon.10 Petitioner moved for the execution of said decision on January 31, 200611 while private respondent filed a notice of appeal on
February 20, 2006.
On February 28, 2006, the MTCC ordered the issuance12 of the writ of execution pending appeal. It also later gave due course to private
respondents notice of appeal and elevated the records to the RTC on March 2, 2006.13
Upon failure of private respondent to file a supersedeas bond and to deposit the accruing rentals pending appeal, a Writ of Execution 14 was
issued on March 14, 2006, followed by a Notice to Vacate15 dated March 21, 2006.
On March 31, 2006, the Sheriff implemented the writ of execution, and delivered complete possession of the premises to petitioner, as per
Delivery of Possession16 and Sheriffs Return of Service17 dated April 3, 2006.
On April 3, 2006, private respondent filed an Urgent Motion to Nullify Writ of Execution and Notice to Vacate 18 in the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch
23. He also filed an Urgent Supplemental Motion19 for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction to restrain the
implementation of the writ of execution. Pending the hearing of the Urgent Motion, the Supplemental Motion was denied by the RTC in its
Order20 dated April 18, 2006.
On April 20, 2006, private respondent filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for Issuance of TRO and/or
Preliminary Injunction,21 arguing that he was deprived of his constitutional right to due process and claiming that there was already a novation
of judgment. This case was docketed as CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 01672.
In its Resolution dated April 21, 2006, the Court of Appeals issued the assailed TRO, 22 restraining the implementation of the writ of execution.
The Court of Appeals also clarified in its Resolution dated May 3, 2006, that the status quo ante to be observed in the TRO is the last
peaceable possession of the premises before the decision was rendered in the unlawful detainer case. On May 5, 2006, private respondent
took possession of the subject premises.
Petitioner now comes before us contending that:
THE RESPONDENT Honorable COURT OF APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR
EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ISSUING A TRO TO RESTRAIN THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT (BRANCH 23) OF ILOILO CITY FROM
"IMPLEMENTING" AND "ENFORCING" THE FEBRUARY 28, 2006 WRIT OF EXECUTION OF THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN CITIES

(BRANCH 3), ILOILO CITY WHEN THE SAME HAD BEEN ALREADY FULLY IMPLEMENTED AND WAS PROPERLY ISSUED PURSUANT
TO SECTION 19, RULE 70 OF THE RULES OF COURT.23
Essentially, the issue to be resolved is the propriety of the issuance by the Court of Appeals of the TRO, restraining the RTC from
implementing the writ of execution issued by the MTCC in the unlawful detainer case.
At the outset, we must stress that a perusal of the TRO issued by the Court of Appeals on April 21, 2006 reveals that it was only for an
unextendible period of 60 days, unless sooner terminated by a court order. Hence, said TRO was automatically lifted upon the expiration of the
60-day period. Accordingly, petitioners prayer before us to lift the TRO issued by the Court of Appeals is now moot and academic.
However, we agree with the petitioners contention that the Court of Appeals imprudently issued the TRO dated April 21, 2006. To begin with,
the writ of execution had already been enforced and private respondent was evicted already from the premises as petitioner was placed in
possession of the premises, as per the Delivery of Possession dated March 31, 2006 and Sheriffs Return of Service dated April 3, 2006. Case
law teaches that a temporary restraining order will not issue if the act sought to be enjoined is a fait accompli.24
What is more, this Court has consistently held that a judgment in favor of plaintiff in an unlawful detainer suit is immediately executory to
prevent further damage to him arising from the loss of possession of his property.25Conformably to Section 19,26 Rule 70 of the Rules of Court,
concurrence of all the following requisites must be present to stay the immediate execution of judgment pending appeal in ejectment cases, to
wit: (a) defendant perfects his appeal, (b) he files a supersedeas bond, and (c) he periodically deposits the rentals falling due during the
pendency of the appeal. Failure of the defendant to comply with any of these requirements is a ground for the outright execution of judgment
despite appeal, the duty of the Court in this respect being mandatory and ministerial.27
It was therefore the ministerial duty of the MTCC to issue in this case the writ of execution upon failure of private respondent to file a
supersedeas bond and to deposit the accruing rentals. By issuing the TRO enjoining the eviction of private respondent, the Court of Appeals
allowed him to extend his stay in the premises despite the mandatory provision of Section 19, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court. 28
From the foregoing, in our view, it is grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals to restrain the implementation of the writ of
execution based on the circumstances obtaining in this case. Indeed, petitioner has shown to this Court that this case falls within the exception
to the rule that a motion for reconsideration is required prior to the filing of the instant petition. The TRO issued by the Court of Appeals is a
patent nullity as it clearly contravenes the express provisions of Section 19, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court.
In its petition, petitioner further prays for the following reliefs: (1) the dismissal of the certiorari case in the Court of Appeals; (2) the issuance of
a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction restraining the Court of Appeals from issuing a writ of preliminary injunction;
(3) the punishment of private respondent and his counsels for contempt of court.
However, we are impelled to deny said reliefs on the following grounds: First, the only legitimate issue for resolution in this instant petition is
the propriety of the Court of Appeals act of issuing the assailed TRO. Second, a favorable grant of petitioners prayers abovecited would be a
prejudgment of the main case in the Court of Appeals. Third, the petitioner is not without a plain, speedy and adequate remedy under the law
that would justify the grant of the writs of certiorari and mandamus. Its remedy allows it to raise all its defenses in the course of the pending
certiorari case in the Court of Appeals, to give the latter a chance to rule first on the matter. Clearly, petitioner has yet to avail of the proper
remedy in the Court of Appeals and thus substantiate its claim to cite private respondent and his counsels for contempt of court.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Resolutions dated April 21, 2006 and May 3, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 01672 are
hereby SET ASIDE. Costs against private respondent.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 125848 September 6, 1999


EDMUNDO BENAVIDEZ, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and ARISTON MELENDRES represented by NARCISO M. MELENDRES Jr.,respondents.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
The Decision of the Court of Appeals 1 in CA-G.R. SP No. 35412 dated 30 April 1996 which reversed that of the Regional Trial Court, Br. 80,
Tanay, Rizal, in its Civil Case No. 388-T, as well as the Resolution of the appellate court dated 6 August 1996 denying herein petitioner's
motion for reconsideration, is assailed in this petition for review.
On 18 July 1990 private respondent Ariston Melendres, through his nephew and administrator Narciso M. Melendres Jr., filed a complaint
before the Municipal Trial Court of Tanay, Rizal, against petitioner Edmundo Benavidez for forcible entry and recovery of damages with prayer
for preliminary mandatory injunction and restraining order. 2 On 19 July 1990 the Municipal Trial Court issued a restraining order.
Private respondent alleged in his complaint that for more than fifty (50) years he was the owner and actual possessor, by himself and through
his predecessors in interest, of a parcel of land with an area of 1,622 square meters located in Brgy. Plaza Aldea, Tanay, Rizal. He claimed
that the subject land was devoted to the planting of palay and worked on and cultivated by agricultural tenants the last of whom was Felino
Mendez. Private respondent further alleged that on 29 November 1989 petitioner Benavidez, using force, intimidation, strategy and stealth,
entered the property and destroyed the barbed-wire fence, filled the property with soil and other filling materials, and constructed permanent,
concrete structures thereon thereby converting its use from agricultural to commercial without the necessary clearance or permit from the
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).1wphi1.nt
In his answer, petitioner alleged (a) that private respondent had no cause of action against him because he was the rightful owner of the land
by virtue of a deed of sale dated 5 February 1990 executed by Alicia Catambay in his favor; (b) that Tax Declaration No. 597 covering the
subject land had been cancelled and a new one already issued to him; and, (c) that the property claimed by private respondent was different
from that occupied by him.
It was established in an ocular inspection on 11 October 1990 that the lot where the Petron gasoline station and some new structures were
currently situated was the same lot being claimed by private respondent. Felino Mendez and the tenants/farmers 3 of adjoining and adjacent
ricelands confirmed this. The inferior court thereafter issued a writ of preliminary injunction.
On 14 January 1994 the Municipal Trial Court declared private respondent Ariston Melendres as the rightful possessor of the land in
controversy and ordering petitioner Edmundo Benavidez to remove the improvements introduced on the property and to vacate and restore
private respondent to its physical possession. For the use of the land, petitioner was ordered to pay private respondent P3,000.00 per month
plus lawful interests from 29 November 1989 until finally vacated. He was further ordered to pay P5,000.00 as attorney's fees and the costs of
the suit. 4
The Municipal Trial Court considered the admission of petitioner that he proceeded in filling the subject lot with soil and other filling materials
and constructed a gasoline station thereon without asking permission from tenant Felino Mendez. The court a quo disregarded the claim of
petitioner that he was the owner of the land as ownership of the property was not material in actions for recovery of possession. Moreover,
such claim of ownership, even if valid, was belied by the Deed of Sale 5 petitioner presented in court as it was only executed on 5 February
1990 or more than two (2) months after the date of his unlawful entry on 29 November 1989. Certainly, even if petitioner was the lawful owner
of the property, he could not resort to force to gain possession thereof as "regardless of the actual condition of the title to the property, the
party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by strong hand, violence or terror." 6 The judgment 7 of the Department of Agrarian
Reform Adjudicatory Board (DARAB) declaring Felino Mendez as the agricultural tenant of the subject lot and ordering petitioner Benavidez to
reinstate Mendez to the possession of the property or in lieu thereof to pay him P61,875.00 as disturbance compensation was considered by
the Municipal Trial Court as persuasive proof of possession by private respondent through his agricultural tenant Felino Mendez.
On appeal, the Regional Trial Court reversed the decision of the Municipal Trial Court. It held that the issue involved in the case was not
merely physical or de facto possession but one of title to or ownership of the subject property; consequently, the Municipal Trial Court did not
acquire jurisdiction over it.
Private respondent appealed the case to the Court of Appeals where the main issue raised was whether the complaint for forcible entry could
be decided without resolving the question of ownership of the property. Private respondent maintained that regardless of the property's
ownership, prior possession was already established in his favor. Petitioner, on the other hand, claimed the contrary. The appellate court
sustained private respondent. It reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court and reinstated that of the Municipal Trial Court.

On 25 May 1996 petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the Court of Appeals for lack of merit. Hence, this petition
for review on certiorari. Petitioner argues that the allegation in the complaint that the land in question was tilled by an agricultural tenant clearly
deprived the Municipal Trial Court of its jurisdiction because under Rule 70, Sec. 1 of the Rules of Court ". . . . the provisions of Rule 70 shall
not apply to cases covered by the Agricultural Tenancy Act."
We do not agree. The allegation that an agricultural tenant titled the land in question does not automatically make the case an agrarian dispute
which calls for the application of the Agricultural Tenancy Act and the assumption of jurisdiction by the Department of Agrarian Reform
Adjudication Board (DARAB). It is necessary to first establish the existence of a tenancy relationship between the party litigants. The following
essential requisites must concur in order to establish a tenancy relationship: (a) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; (b) the subject
matter is agricultural land; (c) there is consent; (d) the purpose is agricultural production; (e) there is personal cultivation by the tenant; and (f)
there is a sharing of harvests between the parties. 8
In the instant case, there is no showing that there exists any tenancy relationship between petitioner and private respondent. Thus, the case
falls outside the coverage of the Agricultural Tenancy Act; consequently, it is the Municipal Trial Court and not the DARAB which has
jurisdiction over the controversy between petitioner and private respondent.
Petitioner also contends that since the issue of ownership is involved and only in resolving it can the issue of possession be finally settled, the
Municipal Trial Court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case. He invokes the principle that "an inferior court loses its jurisdiction where the
question of ownership is so necessarily involved that it would be impossible to decide the question of bare possession without first settling that
of ownership." 9Petitioner's reliance on this rule 10 is erroneous as this was already modified by B.P. Blg. 129. The Municipal Trial Court now
retains jurisdiction over ejectment cases even if the question of possession cannot be resolved without passing upon the issue of ownership
provided that such issue of ownership shall be resolved only for the purpose of determining possession. 11 In other words, the fact that the
issues of ownership and possession de facto are intricately interwoven will not cause the dismissal of the ejectment case on jurisdictional
grounds. 12 Thus, the Municipal Trial Court of Tanay, Rizal, retained its jurisdiction over the case.
Petitioner further maintains that the forcible entry case is barred by the DARAB decision dated 4 March 1992. This contention has no merit.
Felino Mendez, the plaintiff in the DARAB case, is not a party in the forcible entry case filed before the Municipal Trial Court. His status as
private respondent's tenant and his alleged forcible ejectment from the subject property is not an issue raised in the forcible entry case.
Instead, the question is the right of private respondent to be restored to the physical possession of the subject property. Thus, we see no
reason why the DARAB decision should bar the instant case before us.
Finally, petitioner questions the legal personality of the counsel of private respondent for his failure to inform the court of the death of his client
Ariston Melendres on 1 January 1991. He contends that such failure results in the nullity of the decision rendered by the Municipal Trial Court,
invoking Rule 3, Sec. 16 of the Rules of Court which provides that:
Sec. 16. Duty of attorney upon death, incapacity, or incompetency of party. Whenever a party to a pending case dies,
becomes incapacitated or incompetent, it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the court promptly of such death,
incapacity or incompetency, and to give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other legal
representative . . . .
He further argues that substitution of parties must be made according to Rule 3, Sec. 17 of the Rules of Court. Thus
Sec. 17. Death of party. After a party dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper
notice, the legal representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for the deceased, within a period of thirty
(30) days, or within such time as may be granted . . . .
Otherwise, the continuance by the court with the proceedings amounts to lack of jurisdiction.
The Rules invoked by petitioner have been amended by the present Rules. 13 Nevertheless, even applying the old Rules, it is well settled that
the failure of counsel to comply with his duty under Sec. 16 to inform the court of the death of his client and no substitution of such party is
effected, will not invalidate the proceedings and the judgment thereon if the action survives the death of such party. 14 Moreover, the decision
rendered shall bind his successor in interest. 15 The instant action for forcible entry, like any action for recovery of real property, is a real action
and as such survives the death of Ariston Melendres. Thus, the decision rendered by the inferior court is conclusive between the parties and
their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action despite failure of private respondent's counsel to inform the
court of his client's death and the consequent failure of the court to effectuate a substitution of heirs before its rendition of judgment. At any
rate, a contrary rule would nonetheless make petitioner unsuccessful as the records show that the Municipal Trial Court was duly notified of
Ariston Melendres' death. 16
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 30 April 1996 and its Resolution dated 6 August 1996 in
CA G.R. SP No. 35412 are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.1wphi1.nt
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No.147812. April 6, 2005
LEONARDO R. OCAMPO, Petitioners,
vs.
LEONORA TIRONA, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for review1 to annul the Decision2 dated 29 November 2000 of the Court of Appeals ("appellate court") in CA-G.R. SP No.
41686, and its Resolution dated 16 April 2001 denying the motion for reconsideration. The appellate court set aside the Decision 3 dated 27
June 1996 of Branch 110 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City ("RTC") in Civil Case No. 96-0209. The RTC affirmed the Decision 4 dated
29 December 1995 of Branch 47 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasay City ("MTC") in Civil Case No. 754-95 ordering respondent Leonora
Tirona ("Tirona") to vacate and surrender possession of the property under litigation to petitioner Leonardo R. Ocampo ("Ocampo"). The MTC
also ordered Tirona to pay Ocampo rentals in arrears, attorneys fees, and costs of suit.
Antecedent Facts
Ocampo alleged that he is the owner of a parcel of land ("subject land") described in Transfer Certificate of Title ("TCT") No. 134359, with an
approximate area of 500 square meters, located at Alvarez Street, Pasay City. Ocampo bought the subject land from Rosauro Breton, heir of
the subject lands registered owner Alipio Breton Cruz. Possession and administration of the subject land are claimed to be already in
Ocampos management even though the TCT is not yet in his name. Tirona, on the other hand, is a lessee occupying a portion of the subject
land.5 The MTC established the following facts:
According to [Ocampo], upon acquisition of ownership of the subject premises, a formal written notice was given to [Tirona] which was
received by the latter on 9 March 1995, copy of the said formal written agreement marked as Annex "A" and likewise copy of the registry return
receipt showing that [Tirona] received Annex "A" was marked as Annex "A-1". In recognition of [Ocampos] right of ownership over the subject
premises, [Tirona] paid some monthly rentals due, however, on July 5, 1995, [Ocampo] received a letter from Callejo Law Office of Room 513
Borja Bldg., 645 Sta. Cruz, Manila stating among others, that, in view of the fact that the subject premises was declared under area for priority
development, [Tirona] is invoking her right of first refusal and in connection thereto [Tirona] will temporarily stop paying her monthly rentals
until and unless the National Housing Authority have processed the pertinent papers as regards the amount due to [Ocampo] by reason of the
implementation of the above law, a copy of the said letter marked as Annex "B" of the Complaint. In reply to Annex "B", [Ocampo] sent a letter
dated 17 July 1995 addressed to the said Callejo Law Office, copy furnished [Tirona]. A copy of the said reply of [Ocampo] marked as Annex
"C" of the Complaint, a copy of the Registry Return Receipt showing that [Tirona] received said Annex "C" on 20 July 1995 marked as Annex
"C-1" of the Complaint, while as the original copy which was sent to Callejo Law Office was also received by said office. On 7 August 1995,
[Ocampo] wrote a letter to [Tirona] demanding upon [Tirona] to pay the rentals in arrears for the months of April, May, June, July and August at
the rate of P1,200 a month and to vacate the premises, copy of the said letter dated 7 August 1995 marked as Annex "D" of the Complaint and
the signature at the bottom portion of Annex "D" clearly shows that the same was received by [Tirona] on 8 August 1995. Despite receipt of
said letter, [Tirona] failed and refused and still fails and refuses to heed [Ocampos] demands.6
On 11 September 1995, Ocampo filed a complaint docketed as Civil Case No. 754-95 for unlawful detainer and damages against Tirona
before the MTC.
Tirona filed her answer on 27 September 1995. Tirona asserted that Doa Lourdes Rodriguez Yaneza actually owns the subject land. The
allegations in the answer state thus:
1. That the Assignor [one Edison A. Hindap, Sr.] is the General Overseer and Attorney-in-Fact of DOA LOURDES RODRIGUEZ YANEZA,
Heir/Owner of TITULO DE PROPRIEDAD DE TERENOS of 1891, Royal Degree 01-4 Protocol, the real owner of a parcel of land allegedly
claimed by [Ocampo].
2. That the Title of [Ocampo] was overlapped [sic] the Original Land Title of the Assignor.
3. That [Tirona], hereby recognized by the Assignor as co-owner by possession and hereby cede, transfer and assign the said parcel of land in
[Tironas] favor.
4. That [Tirona] hereby denied [sic] and discontinued [sic] all the obligations imposed by [Ocampo], for the simple reason, the property in
question is not owned by [Ocampo], but rather owned by the Assignor, as proof of evidence herein Assignor issued a Certification for

Occupancy and Assignment in favor of [Tirona] herein attached with [sic], and the other evidence shall be presented upon the proper hearing
on the merits of this case.7
Ocampo filed a motion to strike out the answer filed and a motion for judgment on 10 October 1995. Ocampo claimed that the answer was not
verified; therefore, it was as if no answer was filed.
On 12 October 1995, Tirona filed a motion with leave to amend defendants answer.8 She alleged that she filed her answer without the
assistance of a lawyer due to fear that she might be unable to file the required pleading on time. In her amended answer, Tirona maintained
that Ocampo is not the owner of the subject land. She stated that the certificate of title to the subject land is not even registered under
Ocampos name. Tirona also alleged that she has a right of first refusal in case of sale of the land, pursuant to Presidential Decree ("PD") Nos.
1517,9189310 and 1968.11 The area where the subject land is located was certified as an area under priority development. 12 Tirona asked for
attorneys fees and moral and exemplary damages.
In the spirit of substantial justice, the MTC granted Tironas motion to amend her answer on 20 October 1995. On 15 November 1995, the
MTC directed Ocampo and Tirona to submit their respective position papers and other evidence after the termination of the pre-trial
conference.
The issue considered by the MTC for resolution was whether Ocampo may eject Tirona because of non-payment of rent and because of the
termination of Tironas right to possess and occupy the subject land.
The MTCs Ruling
The MTC ruled that Tirona does not have any reason to suspend payment of rents until after PD No. 1517, in relation to PD Nos. 1893 and
1968, is implemented in her favor. Tironas non-payment of rents rendered her occupation of the subject land illegal. As owner of the subject
land, Ocampo is entitled to its use and enjoyment, as well as to recover its possession from any person unlawfully withholding it.
The dispositive part of the MTCs decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of [Ocampo] and against [Tirona]:
1. Ordering [Tirona] and all other persons claiming possession under her to vacate and surrender possession to [Ocampo] the premises
known as, parcel of land located at 2132 Alvarez St., Pasay City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 134359 of the Register of Deeds
of Pasay City;
2. Ordering [Tirona] to pay the rentals in arrears covering the period from April 1995 until such time [Tirona] shall have finally vacated the
subject premises at the rate of P1,200 a month, with interest at a legal rate;
3. Ordering [Tirona] to pay the sum of P5,000 for and as attorneys fees; and
4. Ordering [Tirona] to pay the cost of the suit.
SO ORDERED.13
Ocampo filed a motion for execution pending appeal on 24 January 1996, while Tirona filed a notice of appeal on 25 January 1996. The MTC
directed its clerk of court to transmit the records of the case, as well as the motion for execution pending appeal, through an order issued on
29 January 1996. The RTC issued an order on 26 February 1996 ordering both parties to file their respective memoranda.
On 4 March 1996, Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiola, who claimed to be the owner of the subject land, filed a motion with leave to file
intervention before the RTC.
The RTCs Ruling
In an order dated 11 March 1996, the RTC issued a writ of execution pending appeal for the enforcement of the MTCs decision. The RTC
stated that although Tirona perfected her appeal on time, the record showed that she failed to pay the required supersedeas bond as well as
deposit the current rentals as mandated by Section 8, Rule 70 of the 1964 Rules of Court. In a separate order issued on the same date, the
RTC denied Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiolas motion with leave to file intervention. The RTC stated that granting the motion to intervene
would violate the 1964 Rules of Court and jurisprudence.
Ocampo filed his memorandum on 21 March 1996.14 He emphasized that Tironas assertion of a "preferential right of first refusal" is a
recognition of the sale by Rosauro Breton of the subject land to him. Moreover, Tirona is not qualified to claim this preferential right because
she is no longer a legitimate tenant. The payment of Tironas monthly rent was already in arrears at the time Ocampo filed the complaint
against Tirona.
On 25 March 1996, Tirona filed a manifestation which stated that she paid both the supersedeas bond and rent on the subject land. The RTC
considered Tironas manifestation as a motion for reconsideration of its previous order issuing a writ of execution pending appeal. In its order
dated 15 April 1996, the RTC recalled its 11 March 1996 order and cancelled the writ of execution.
Tirona filed her memorandum also on 25 March 1996. For the first time, Tirona disclosed that Alipio Breton is the registered owner of the
subject land and that he is her landlord since 1962. When Alipio Breton died in 1975, his children, Rosauro Breton and Maria Lourdes BretonMendiola, inherited the subject land. Tirona claims she has never stopped paying her rent to Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiola. Tirona also
stated that Rosauro Breton could not transfer ownership to the subject land to Ocampo. On 14 July 1978, Rosauro Breton executed a deed of
conveyance and waiver in favor of his sister, Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiola. Rosauro Breton executed another deed of conveyance and
waiver in favor of Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiola on 9 March 1995. Thus, Tirona claims, Ocampo cannot legally acquire title from Rosauro
Breton in view of the waivers. Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiola is Tironas lessor, and is the only person who can validly file an ejectment suit
against Tirona.15
After quoting the findings of the MTC, the RTC held thus:

This Court after a careful review of the complete record of this case particularly the evidences, applicable laws and jurisprudence relied upon
by the [MTC] in finding for [Ocampo] and declaring that [Tirona] can be lawfully ejected from the subject premises, concurs with the findings
thereof. There is therefore nothing in the record which would warrant the Court to disturb the findings of fact and law and the conclusions
reached by the [MTC].
This Court finds the decision of the lower court fully justified in granting the reliefs to [Ocampo].
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered AFFIRMING IN TOTO the decision of the [MTC] with costs against [Tirona].
SO ORDERED.16
In its petition before the appellate court, Tirona stated that the RTC erred in the following grounds:
1. ORDERING THE EJECTMENT OF [TIRONA] IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 2 OF PD [NO.] 2016.17
2. NOT RULING THAT [TIRONA] HAS A BETTER RIGHT OF POSSESSION OVER THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION.
3. RULING THAT THE SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST OF AN UNDIVIDED IDEAL ONE-HALF PORTION, [OCAMPO] MAY DEPRIVE THE
OTHER CO-OWNER OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF ONE-HALF PORTION BY EJECTING HER LESSEE, [TIRONA]. 18
The appellate court stated that the principal issue for its resolution is whether Ocampo, being the buyer of the subject land which is not yet
partitioned among the heirs, can validly evict Tirona.19
The Appellate Courts Ruling
The appellate court considered partition of the estate of Alipio Breton as a prerequisite to Ocampos action. The appellate court ruled that
"[u]ntil the partition of the estate is ordered by the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City in the pending partition proceedings and the share of
each co-heir is determined by metes and bounds, [Ocampo] cannot rightfully claim that what he bought is part of the property occupied by
[Tirona]."20 The dispositive part of the appellate courts decision reads thus:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent court is hereby SET ASIDE and judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the complaint of the
private respondent in the court below.
SO ORDERED.21
Hence, the instant petition.
The Issues
Ocampo assigned three errors to the appellate court. Ocampo stated that the appellate court erred in:
1. ENTERTAINING AND NOT DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR REVIEW (with prayer for its issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and
immediate issuance of TRO), THE SAME HAVING BEEN FILED BEYOND THE REGLAMENTARY PERIOD.
2. CONSIDERING AND RESOLVING AN ISSUE RAISED IN THE PETITION FOR REVIEW FOR THE FIRST TIME ON APPEAL.
3. DECLARING THAT LEONARDO R. OCAMPO HAS NO RIGHT TO EJECT LEONORA TIRONA, NOR DEMAND PAYMENT OF RENTALS
FROM HER FOR THE USE AND OCCUPANCY OF THE LOT INVOLVED IN THE PRESENT CASE. 22
The Ruling of the Court
The petition has merit.
We agree with Ocampos observation that Tirona changes her theory of the case each time she appeals. 23 For this reason, we shall limit our
ruling to the propriety of Ocampos unlawful detainer case against Tirona.
Moreover, we have assessed the evidence on record and found that the appellate court did not contradict the findings of facts of the MTC and
RTC. Thus, we see no reason to deviate from their findings of facts.
Unlawful Detainer
Elements to be Proved
Unlawful detainer cases are summary in nature. The elements to be proved and resolved in unlawful detainer cases are the fact of lease and
expiration or violation of its terms.24 To support their conclusion that there was an existing lease, the MTC and RTC found that:
(1) Ocampo informed Tirona through a letter dated 1 March 1995 that he bought the subject land, upon which Tironas house stands, from the
previous owner and lessor Rosauro Breton;25
(2) Tironas continued occupancy of the subject land signifies Tironas acceptance of Ocampos conditions of lease stated in the 1 March 1995
letter;26 and
(3) In asserting her right to possess the subject land, Tirona admitted that Ocampo is her lessor. In the 5 July 1995 letter, Tirona was referred
to as "the hereinmentioned tenant of yours."27

In Mirasol v. Magsuci, et al.,28 we ruled that the sale of a leased property places the vendee into the shoes of the original lessor to whom the
lessee bound himself to pay. The vendee acquires the right to evict the lessee from the premises and to recover the unpaid rentals after the
vendee had notified the lessee that he had bought the leased property and that the rentals on it should be paid to him, and the lessee refused
to comply with the demand.
The following facts support the conclusion that there was a violation of the lease agreement:
(1) Tirona, through Callejo Law Office, sent a letter dated 5 July 1995 which stated that Tirona will temporarily stop paying her monthly
obligation until the National Housing Authority has processed the pertinent papers regarding the amount due to Ocampo in view of PD 1517; 29
(2) As of August 1995, Tirona has not paid her rent to Ocampo corresponding to April to August 1995;30 and
(3) In a letter dated 7 August 1995, Ocampo demanded from Tirona unpaid rent payments.31
In view of these facts, we hold that Tirona is estopped from denying her possession under a lease 32 and that there was a violation of the lease
agreement. Thus, the MTC and RTC correctly ruled against Tirona.
Ownership as an Issue
When Tirona filed her answer before the MTC, she raised the issue of ownership and ascribed ownership of the subject lot to one Doa
Lourdes Rodriguez Yaneza. Tirona later changed her strategy and filed an amended answer that ascribed ownership of the subject lot to Maria
Lourdes Breton-Mendiola. Tirona justified the amendment by stating that she did not ask for the assistance of a lawyer for fear of not being
able to file her answer on time. This excuse is flimsy considering that Tirona first communicated to Ocampo through Callejo Law Office.
However, the MTC still allowed Tirona to amend her answer. Tirona stated that there was no violation of the lease agreement because she
paid her rent to the real owner, Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiola.
Contrary to Tironas position, the issue of ownership is not essential to an action for unlawful detainer. The fact of the lease and the expiration
of its term are the only elements of the action. The defense of ownership does not change the summary nature of the action. The affected
party should raise the issue of ownership in an appropriate action, because a certificate of title cannot be the subject of a collateral
attack.33 Although a wrongful possessor may at times be upheld by the courts, this is merely temporary and solely for the maintenance of
public order. The question of ownership is to be settled in the proper court and in a proper action.34
In actions for forcible entry and [unlawful] detainer, the main issue is possession de facto, independently of any claim of ownership or
possession de jure that either party may set forth in his pleadings, and an appeal does not operate to change the nature of the original action.
On appeal, in an ejectment case, it is within the discretion of the court to look into the evidence supporting the assigned errors relating to the
alleged ownership of appellant insofar as said evidence would indicate or determine the nature of appellants possession of the controverted
premises. Said court should not however resolve the issue raised by such assigned errors. The resolution of said issues would effect an
adjudication on ownership which is not sanctioned in the summary action for unlawful detainer.35
Unlawful detainer being a summary proceeding, it was error for the appellate court to include the issue of ownership. Had the appellate court
limited its ruling to the elements to be proved in a case of unlawful detainer, Ocampo need not even prove his ownership. When the appellate
court ruled that the case of unlawful detainer had to wait for the results of the partition proceedings, it effectively put ownership as the main
issue in the case. The issue of ownership opens a virtual Pandoras Box for Tirona and her supposed intervenor, Maria Lourdes BretonMendiola.36
Interpleader
The good faith of Tirona is put in question in her preference for Maria Lourdes Breton-Mendiola. As a stakeholder, Tirona should have used
reasonable diligence in hailing the contending claimants to court. Tirona need not have awaited actual institution of a suit by Ocampo against
her before filing a bill of interpleader.37 An action for interpleader is proper when the lessee does not know the person to whom to pay rentals
due to conflicting claims on the property.38
The action of interpleader is a remedy whereby a person who has property whether personal or real, in his possession, or an obligation to
render wholly or partially, without claiming any right in both, or claims an interest which in whole or in part is not disputed by the conflicting
claimants, comes to court and asks that the persons who claim the said property or who consider themselves entitled to demand compliance
with the obligation, be required to litigate among themselves, in order to determine finally who is entitled to one or the other thing. The remedy
is afforded not to protect a person against a double liability but to protect him against a double vexation in respect of one liability. When the
court orders that the claimants litigate among themselves, there arises in reality a new action and the former are styled interpleaders, and in
such a case the pleading which initiates the action is called a complaint of interpleader and not a cross-complaint. 39
Ocampo has the right to eject Tirona from the subject land. All the elements required for an unlawful detainer case to prosper are present.
Ocampo notified Tirona that he purchased the subject land from Tironas lessor. Tironas continued occupation of the subject land amounted to
acquiescence to Ocampos terms. However, Tirona eventually refused to pay rent to Ocampo, thus violating the lease.
Finally, legal interest at the annual rate of 6% is due on the unpaid monthly rentals starting from 7 August 1995 when Ocampo made an
extrajudicial demand on Tirona for payment of the monthly rental.40 On finality of our decision, annual interest at 12%, in lieu of 6% annual
interest, is due on the amounts the MTC awarded until full payment. 41
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the instant petition for review. The Decision dated 27 June 1996 of Branch 110 of the RTC in Civil Case No. 960209, which affirmed the Decision dated 29 December 1995 of Branch 47 of the MTC in Civil Case No. 754-95, is REINSTATED. The Decision
dated 29 November 2000 of the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 41686, and its Resolution dated 16 April 2001 denying the motion for
reconsideration, are SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 160384. April 29, 2005
CESAR T. HILARIO, for himself and as Attorney-in-Fact of IBARRA, NESTOR, LINA and PRESCILLA, all surnamed
HILARIO, Petitioners,
vs.
ALLAN T. SALVADOR, Respondents.
HEIRS OF SALUSTIANO SALVADOR, namely, REGIDOR M. SALVADOR and VIRGINIA SALVADOR-LIM,respondents-intervenors.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CV No. 63737 as well as its Resolution2 denying the motion for the reconsideration of the said decision.
The Antecedents
On September 3, 1996, petitioners Cesar, Ibarra, Nestor, Lina and Prescilla, all surnamed Hilario, filed a complaint with the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Romblon, Romblon, Branch 71, against private respondent Allan T. Salvador. They alleged therein, inter alia, as follows:
2. That, the plaintiffs are co-owners by inheritance from Concepcion Mazo Salvador of a parcel of land designated as Cad. Lot No. 3113-part,
located at Sawang, Romblon, Romblon, which property was [adjudged] as the hereditary share of their father, Brigido M. Hilario, Jr. when their
father was still single, and which adjudication was known by the plaintiffs[] fathers co-heirs;
3. That, sometime in 1989, defendant constructed his dwelling unit of mixed materials on the property of the plaintiffs father without the
knowledge of the herein plaintiffs or their predecessors-in-interest;
4. That, demands have been made of the defendant to vacate the premises but the latter manifested that he have (sic) asked the prior consent
of their grandmother, Concepcion Mazo Salvador;
5. That, to reach a possible amicable settlement, the plaintiffs brought the matter to the Lupon of Barangay Sawang, to no avail, evidenced by
the CERTIFICATE TO FILE ACTION hereto attached as ANNEX B;
6. That, the unjustified refusal of the defendant to vacate the property has caused the plaintiffs to suffer shame, humiliation, wounded feelings,
anxiety and sleepless nights;
7. That, to protect their rights and interest, plaintiffs were constrained to engage the services of a lawyer.3
The petitioners prayed that, after due proceedings, judgment be rendered in their favor, thus:
WHEREFORE, it is prayed of this Honorable Court that after due process (sic), an order be issued for the defendant to vacate and peacefully
turn over to the plaintiffs the occupied property and that defendant be made to pay plaintiffs:
a. actual damages, as follows:
a.1. transportation expenses in connection with the projected settlement of the case amounting to P1,500.00 and for the subsequent
attendance to the hearing of this case at P1,500.00 each schedule;
a.2. attorneys fees in the amount of P20,000.00 and P500.00 for every court appearance;
b. moral and exemplary damages in such amount incumbent upon the Honorable Court to determine; and

c. such other relief and remedies just and equitable under the premises.4
The private respondent filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the nature of the action, citing Section
33 of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129, as amended by Section 3(3) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7691.5 He averred that
(1) the complaint failed to state the assessed value of the land in dispute;
(2) the complaint does not sufficiently identify and/or describe the parcel of land referred to as the subject-matter of this action;
both of which are essential requisites for determining the jurisdiction of the Court where the case is filed. In this case, however, the assessed
value of the land in question is totally absent in the allegations of the complaint and there is nothing in the relief prayed for which can be
picked-up for determining the Courts jurisdiction as provided by law.
In the face of this predicament, it can nevertheless be surmised by reading between the lines, that the assessed value of the land in question
cannot exceed P20,000.00 and, as such, it falls within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court of Romblon and should have been filed
before said Court rather than before the RTC. 6
The petitioners opposed the motion.7 They contended that the RTC had jurisdiction over the action since the court can take judicial notice of
the market value of the property in question, which was P200.00 per square meter and considering that the property was 14,797 square
meters, more or less, the total value thereof isP3,500,000.00. Besides, according to the petitioners, the motion to dismiss was premature and
"the proper time to interpose it is when the [petitioners] introduced evidence that the land is of such value."
On November 7, 1996, the RTC issued an Order8 denying the motion to dismiss, holding that the action was incapable of pecuniary
estimation, and therefore, cognizable by the RTC as provided in Section 19(1) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended.
After the denial of the motion to dismiss, the private respondent filed his answer with counterclaim. 9 Traversing the material allegations of the
complaint, he contended that the petitioners had no cause of action against him since the property in dispute was the conjugal property of his
grandparents, the spouses Salustiano Salvador and Concepcion Mazo-Salvador.
On April 8, 1997, Regidor and Virginia Salvador filed their Answer-in-Intervention 10 making common cause with the private respondent. On her
own motion, however, Virginia Salvador was dropped as intervenor.11
During trial, the petitioners adduced in evidence Tax Declaration No. 8590-A showing that in 1991 the property had an assessed value
of P5,950.00.12
On June 3, 1999, the trial court rendered judgment finding in favor of the petitioners. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, as prayed for, judgment is rendered:
Ordering the defendant to vacate and peacefully turn over to the plaintiffs the occupied property; and
Dismissing defendants counterclaim.
SO ORDERED.13
Aggrieved, the private respondent and respondent-intervenor Regidor Salvador appealed the decision to the CA, which rendered judgment on
May 23, 2003 reversing the ruling of the RTC and dismissing the complaint for want of jurisdiction. The fallo of the decision is as follows:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed decision is REVERSED, and the case DISMISSED, without prejudice to its refilling in the
proper court.
SO ORDERED.14
The CA declared that the action of the petitioners was one for the recovery of ownership and possession of real property. Absent any
allegation in the complaint of the assessed value of the property, the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) had exclusive jurisdiction over the action,
conformably to Section 3315 of R.A. No. 7691.
The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the said decision, which the appellate court denied. 16 Hence, they filed the instant petition,
with the following assignment of errors:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN HOLDING THAT THE INSTANT CASE, ACCION
REINVINDICATORIA, FALLS WITHIN THE EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OF THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT OF ROMBLON,
AND NOT WITH THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ROMBLON.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS REVERSIBLE ERROR IN ORDERING THE REFILING OF THE CASE IN
THE [PROPER] COURT, INSTEAD OF DECIDING THE CASE ON THE MERITS BASED ON THE COMPLETE RECORDS ELEVATED
BEFORE SAID APPELLATE COURT AND IN NOT AFFIRMING IN TOTO THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT.17
The Ruling of the Court

The lone issue for our resolution is whether the RTC had jurisdiction over the action of the petitioners, the plaintiffs in the RTC, against the
private respondent, who was the defendant therein.
The petitioners maintain that the RTC has jurisdiction since their action is an accion reinvindicatoria, an action incapable of pecuniary
estimation; thus, regardless of the assessed value of the subject property, exclusive jurisdiction falls within the said court. Besides, according
to the petitioners, in their opposition to respondents motion to dismiss, they made mention of the increase in the assessed value of the land in
question in the amount of P3.5 million. Moreover, the petitioners maintain that their action is also one for damages exceedingP20,000.00, over
which the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction under R.A. No. 7691.
The petition has no merit.
It bears stressing that the nature of the action and which court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the same is determined by the
material allegations of the complaint, the type of relief prayed for by the plaintiff and the law in effect when the action is filed, irrespective of
whether the plaintiffs are entitled to some or all of the claims asserted therein.18 The caption of the complaint is not determinative of the nature
of the action. Nor does the jurisdiction of the court depend upon the answer of the defendant or agreement of the parties or to the waiver or
acquiescence of the parties.
We do not agree with the contention of the petitioners and the ruling of the CA that the action of the petitioners in the RTC was an accion
reinvindicatoria. We find and so rule that the action of the petitioners was an accion publiciana, or one for the recovery of possession of the
real property subject matter thereof. An accion reinvindicatoria is a suit which has for its object the recovery of possession over the real
property as owner. It involves recovery of ownership and possession based on the said ownership. On the other hand, an accion publiciana is
one for the recovery of possession of the right to possess. It is also referred to as an ejectment suit filed after the expiration of one year after
the occurrence of the cause of action or from the unlawful withholding of possession of the realty.19
The action of the petitioners filed on September 3, 1996 does not involve a claim of ownership over the property. They allege that they are coowners thereof, and as such, entitled to its possession, and that the private respondent, who was the defendant, constructed his house
thereon in 1989 without their knowledge and refused to vacate the property despite demands for him to do so. They prayed that the private
respondent vacate the property and restore possession thereof to them.
When the petitioners filed their complaint on September 3, 1996, R.A. No. 7691 was already in effect. Section 33(3) of the law provides:
Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Civil Cases. Metropolitan Trial
Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:

(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the
assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila,
where such assessed value does not exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorneys
fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases of land not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such property shall be
determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots.
Section 19(2) of the law, likewise, provides that:
Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. The Regional Trial Court shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

(2) In all civil actions, which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value of the
property involved exceeds Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or, for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which
is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.
The jurisdiction of the court over an action involving title to or possession of land is now determined by the assessed value of the said property
and not the market value thereof. The assessed value of real property is the fair market value of the real property multiplied by the assessment
level. It is synonymous to taxable value.20 The fair market value is the price at which a property may be sold by a seller, who is not compelled
to sell, and bought by a buyer, who is not compelled to buy.
Even a cursory reading of the complaint will show that it does not contain an allegation stating the assessed value of the property subject of
the complaint.21 The court cannot take judicial notice of the assessed or market value of lands.22 Absent any allegation in the complaint of the
assessed value of the property, it cannot thus be determined whether the RTC or the MTC had original and exclusive jurisdiction over the
petitioners action.
We note that during the trial, the petitioners adduced in evidence Tax Declaration No. 8590-A, showing that the assessed value of the property
in 1991 was P5,950.00. The petitioners, however, did not bother to adduce in evidence the tax declaration containing the assessed value of
the property when they filed their complaint in 1996. Even assuming that the assessed value of the property in 1991 was the same in 1995 or
1996, the MTC, and not the RTC had jurisdiction over the action of the petitioners since the case involved title to or possession of real property
with an assessed value of less than P20,000.00.23
We quote with approval, in this connection, the CAs disquisition:
The determining jurisdictional element for the accion reinvindicatoria is, as RA 7691 discloses, the assessed value of the property in question.
For properties in the provinces, the RTC has jurisdiction if the assessed value exceeds P20,000, and the MTC, if the value is P20,000 or
below. An assessed value can have reference only to the tax rolls in the municipality where the property is located, and is contained in the tax
declaration. In the case at bench, the most recent tax declaration secured and presented by the plaintiffs-appellees is Exhibit B. The loose
remark made by them that the property was worth 3.5 million pesos, not to mention that there is absolutely no evidence for this, is irrelevant in

the light of the fact that there is an assessed value. It is the amount in the tax declaration that should be consulted and no other kind of value,
and as appearing in Exhibit B, this is P5,950. The case, therefore, falls within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court of
Romblon which has jurisdiction over the territory where the property is located, and not the court a quo.24
It is elementary that the tax declaration indicating the assessed value of the property enjoys the presumption of regularity as it has been
issued by the proper government agency.25
Unavailing also is the petitioners argumentation that since the complaint, likewise, seeks the recovery of damages exceeding P20,000.00,
then the RTC had original jurisdiction over their actions. Section 33(3) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, quoted earlier, explicitly excludes from
the determination of the jurisdictional amount the demand for "interest, damages of whatever kind, attorneys fees, litigation expenses, and
costs." This Court issued Administrative Circular No. 09-94 setting the guidelines in the implementation of R.A. No. 7691, and paragraph 2
thereof states that
2. The exclusion of the term "damages of whatever kind" in determining the jurisdictional amount under Section 19(8) and Section 33(1) of
B.P. Blg. 129, as amended by R.A. 7691, applies to cases where the damages are merely incidental to or a consequence of the main cause of
action. However, in cases where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of the causes of action, the amount of such claim
shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of the court.
Neither may the petitioners find comfort and solace in Section 19(8) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, which states:
SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs or
the value of the property in controversy exceeds One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) or, in such other cases in Metro Manila, where
the demand, exclusive of the above-mentioned items exceeds Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00).
The said provision is applicable only to "all other cases" other than an action involving title to, or possession of real property in which the
assessed value is the controlling factor in determining the courts jurisdiction. The said damages are merely incidental to, or a consequence of,
the main cause of action for recovery of possession of real property.26
Since the RTC had no jurisdiction over the action of the petitioners, all the proceedings therein, including the decision of the RTC, are null and
void. The complaint should perforce be dismissed.27
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 63737 are
AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 150107

January 28, 2008

TOKIO MARINE MALAYAN INSURANCE COMPANY INCORPORATED, ALMA PEALOSA, KIMIO HOSAKA, SUMITOMI NISHIDA,
TERESITA H. QUIAMBAO and ANTONIO B. LAPID, petitioners,
vs.
JORGE VALDEZ, respondent.
x ------------------------------------------ x
G.R. No. 150108

January 28, 2008

TOKIO MARINE MALAYAN INSURANCE COMPANY INCORPORATED and TERESITA H. QUIAMBAO,petitioners,


vs.
JORGE VALDEZ, respondent.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
For our resolution are two (2) consolidated petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended,
seeking to reverse the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated September 13, 2001 in the consolidated cases CA-G.R. SP No. 52914 and CAG.R. SP No. 56579.
Tokio Marine Malayan Insurance Company Incorporated (Tokio Marine), petitioner in these cases, is a domestic corporation engaged in the
insurance business. The individual petitioners are its corporate officers, except Antonio B. Lapid, one of Tokio Marine's consultants.
Jorge Valdez, respondent in these cases, was a former unit manager of Tokio Marine pursuant to a Unit Management Contract entered into
between them on August 16, 1977.
On October 15, 1998, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 35, Manila a complaint for damages against petitioners, docketed
as Civil Case No. 98-91356. He alleged therein that petitioners violated the terms of the Unit Management Contract by refusing to pay him,
among others, his "commissions," and bonuses. Respondent prayed for the following reliefs: a) actual damages in the total amount
of P71,866,205.67 and the corresponding interests; b) moral damages of P10,000,000.00; c) exemplary damages amounting
toP10,000,000.00; d) attorney's fees corresponding to 30% of the said amounts; and e) costs of the suit.
Eventually, respondent filed with the trial court an "Urgent Ex Parte Motion For Authority To Litigate As Indigent Plaintiff."
On October 28, 1998, the trial court issued an Order, the pertinent portions of which read:
The Court hereby allows the plaintiff to litigate as pauper there being sufficient showing that he is an indigent. He does not own any
real property in the City of Manila or elsewhere.
The Court therefore directs the Clerk of Court to accept the complaint for filing without payment of filing fees computed as SIX
HUNDRED FIFTEEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVENTY TWO AND EIGHTY-THREE CENTAVOS (P615,672.83) which
amount, however, shall constitute a lien upon any judgment to be rendered in favor of the plaintiff.

On December 11, 1998, petitioners filed their separate motions to dismiss the complaint.
On December 17, 1998, respondent manifested before the trial court that he filed various criminal complaints against petitioners with the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City.
On January 20, 1999, the trial court issued an Order2 denying petitioners' motions to dismiss. They then filed motions for reconsideration, but
they were likewise denied.
On March 12, 1999, petitioners filed their "Answer Ad Cautelam" in Civil Case No. 98-91356.
On May 24, 1999, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with prayer for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction with the Court
of Appeals assailing the Order of the trial court dated January 20, 1999 denying their motions to dismiss, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 52914.
On October 15, 1999, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution directing the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the trial
court from conducting further proceedings in Civil Case No. 98-91356 during the pendency of CA-G.R. SP No. 52914.
Then on December 7, 1999, respondent filed with the Court of Appeals an "Urgent Notice of Taking of Deposition Upon Oral Examination of
Private Respondent Jorge Valdez For Purposes of the Above-Captioned Pending Case And For Such Other Legal Purposes As May Be
Warranted By Existing Law and Jurisprudence." It appears that respondent was already 75 years old and sickly.
On December 13, 1999, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a petition to cite respondent in contempt of court, docketed as CA-G.R. SP
No. 56579. Petitioners alleged therein that in filing with the appellate court an urgent notice of taking his deposition, respondent violated the
preliminary injunction issued by the said court.
Subsequently, CA-G.R. SP No. 56579 was consolidated with CA-G.R. SP No. 52914.
On December 14, 1999, the deposition of respondent was taken by Atty. Alberto A. Aguja, a Notary Public for Manila. On the same date, he
filed with the Court of Appeals respondent's deposition.
On September 13, 2001, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision in the consolidated cases CA-G.R. SP No. 52914 and CA-G.R. SP No.
56579 dismissing the petitions and lifting and dissolving the writ of preliminary injunction previously issued, thus:
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the consolidated petitions filed by the petitioners are hereby DISMISSED. The writ of preliminary
injunction dated October 18, 1999 issued by this Court enjoining further proceedings in Civil Case No. 98-91356, pending before the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 35 is hereby LIFTED and DISSOLVED.
SO ORDERED.
Hence, the instant consolidated petitions.
Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred: (1) in denying their motion to dismiss respondent's complaint in Civil Case No. 98-91356
for nonpayment of docket fees; (2) for not finding that respondent engaged in forum shopping; and (3) in not declaring that he is guilty of
contempt of court.
On the first issue, it is hornbook law that courts acquire jurisdiction over any case only upon payment of the prescribed docket fee.3 As we held
in Magaspi v. Ramolete,4 the correct docket fees must be paid before courts can act on a petition or complaint. The exception to the rule on
payment of docket fees is provided in Section 21, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, thus:
SEC. 21. Indigent party. - A party may be authorized to litigate his action, claim or defense as an indigent if the court, upon an ex
parte application and hearing, is satisfied that the party is one who has no money or property sufficient and available for food,
shelter and basic necessities for himself and his family.
Such authority shall include an exemption from payment of docket and other lawful fees and of transcripts of stenographic notes
which the court may order to be furnished him. The amount of the docket and other lawful fees which the indigent was exempted
from paying shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorable to the indigent, unless the court otherwise provides.
Any adverse party may contest the grant of such authority at any time before judgment is rendered by the trial court. If the court
should determine after hearing that the party declared as an indigent is in fact a person with sufficient income or property, the proper
docket and other lawful fees shall be assessed and collected by the clerk of court. If payment is not made within the time fixed by
the court, execution shall issue or the payment thereof, without prejudice to such other sanctions as the court may impose.
The guidelines for determining whether a party qualifies as an indigent litigant are provided for in Section 19, Rule 141, 5 of the Revised Rules
of Court, which reads:
SEC. 19. Indigent litigants exempt from payment of legal fees. - INDIGENT LITIGANT (A) WHOSE GROSS INCOME AND THAT OF
THEIR IMMEDIATE FAMILY DO NOT EXCEED AN AMOUNT DOUBLE THE MONTHLY MINIMUM WAGE OF AN EMPLOYEE AND
(B) WHO DO NOT OWN REAL PROPERTY WITH A FAIR MARKET VALUE AS STATED IN THE CURRENT TAX DECLARATION
OF MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P300,000.00) SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM THE PAYMENT OF LEGAL
FEES.
The legal fees shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorable to the indigent unless the court otherwise provides.
To be entitled to the exemption herein provided, the litigant shall execute an affidavit that he and his immediate family do not earn a
gross income abovementioned nor they own any real property with the fair value aforementioned, supported by an affidavit of a

disinterested person attesting to the truth of the litigant's affidavit. The current tax declaration, if any, shall be attached to the
litigant's affidavit.
Any falsity in the affidavit of the litigant or disinterested person shall be sufficient cause to dismiss the complaint or action or to strike
out the pleading of that party, without prejudice to whatever criminal liability may have been incurred.
For purposes of a suit in forma pauperis, an indigent litigant is not really a pauper, but is properly a person who is an indigent although not a
public charge, meaning that he has no property or income sufficient for his support aside from his labor, even if he is self-supporting when able
to work and in employment.6 The term "immediate family" includes those members of the same household who are bound together by ties of
relationship but does not include those who are living apart from the particular household of which the individual is a member.7
In the instant cases, petitioners maintain that respondent's ex parte motion to litigate as an indigent is defective since it was not accompanied
or supported by the affidavits of his children, the immediate members of his family. The argument lacks merit. Section 19 clearly states that
it is the litigant alone who shall execute the affidavit. The Rule does not require that all members of the litigant's immediate family must
likewise execute sworn statements in support of the petition. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.
Petitioners next argue that respondent's ex parte motion is not supported by sufficient evidence to show his indigent status.8 Suffice it to state
that this Court is, first and foremost, a court of law. It is not its function to analyze and weigh all over again the evidence or premises
supportive of factual determination.9 Thus, petitioners cannot now ask us to review the evidence anew.
Anent the second issue, petitioners insist that respondent committed forum shopping when he failed to report to the trial court that he filed
criminal cases against petitioners with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City.
Gatmaytan v. Court of Appeals10 describes forum shopping as the act of a litigant who "repetitively availed of several judicial remedies in
different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and
circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely by some other courtto increase
his chances of obtaining a favorable decision if not in one court, then in another." Differently put, it is "the filing of multiple suits involving the
same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment." 11
The rationale against forum shopping is that a party should not be allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in two different courts as it
constitutes abuse of court processes, which tends to degrade the administration of justice, wreaks havoc upon orderly judicial procedure, and
adds to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts.12
Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides:
SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. - The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other
initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that
he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal, or quasi-judicial
agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action
or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that same or similar action or
claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid
complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.
Failure to comply with the foregoing requirement shall not be curable by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory
pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and after
hearing. The submission of a false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect
contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel
clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall
constitute direct contempt, as well as a cause for administrative sanctions.
Respondent's Certificate of Non-Forum Shopping attached to the complaint in Civil Case No. 98-91356 reads:
FURTHER, that he has not heretofore commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in the Supreme Court,
the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency, except the criminal case for SWINDLING (ESTAFA) under Art. 315, paragraph
1 (b) and for FALSIFICATION BY PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS OF PRIVATE DOCUMENTS under Art. 172, paragraph 2 of the Revised
Penal Code to be filed before the Makati Prosecutor's Office, criminal case for violation of the Insurance Code of the Philippines to
be filed before the Makati Prosecutor's Office, and the administrative case for violation of the Insurance Code Commission; that to
the best of his knowledge no such other action is pending in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
We agree with the Court of Appeals that the foregoing certification is a substantial compliance with Section 5 of Rule 7. Moreover, it should be
recalled that respondent manifested before the trial court on December 16, 1998 that he actually filed criminal cases against petitioners with
the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City.
On the final issue, petitioners claim that the deposition of respondent taken on December 14, 1999 violated the injunction issued by the Court
of Appeals on October 15, 1999. Such act, petitioners assert, is tantamount to indirect contempt of court.
Contempt of court is "a defiance of the authority, justice or dignity of the court: such conduct as tends to bring the authority and administration
of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or prejudice parties litigants or their witnesses during litigation." 13 Succinctly, it is the despising
of the authority, justice, or dignity of the court.14 Rule 71 provides for two forms of contumacious acts - direct and indirect.
Indirect contempt refers to contumacious acts perpetrated outside of the sitting of the court and may include misbehavior of an officer of a
court in the performance of his official duties or in his official transactions, disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order,
judgment, or command of a court, or injunction granted by a court or a judge, any abuse or any unlawful interference with the process or
proceedings of a court not constituting direct contempt, or any improper conduct tending directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct or degrade
the administration of justice.15 It is governed by Section 3, Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, which provides:

SEC. 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. - After a charge in writing has been filed and an opportunity
given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or by
counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:
(a) Misbehavior of an officer of court in the performance of his official duties or in his official transactions;
(b) Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, or judgment of a court, including the act of a person who, after
being dispossessed or rejected from any real property by the judgment or process of any court of competent jurisdiction, enters or
attempts or induces another to enter into or upon such real property, for the purpose of executing acts of ownership or possession,
or in any manner disturbs the possession given to the person adjudged to be entitled thereto;
(c) Any abuse of or any unlawful interference with the process or proceeding of a court not constituting direct contempt under
Section 1 of this Rule;
(d) Any improper conduct tending directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice;
(e) Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court and acting as such without authority;
(f) Failure to obey a subpoena duly served;
(g) The rescue, or attempted rescue, of any person or property in the custody of an officer by virtue of an order or process of a court
held by him.
But nothing in this section shall be so construed as to prevent the court from issuing process to bring the respondent into court, or from holding
him in custody pending such proceedings.
Before one may be convicted of indirect contempt, there must be compliance with the following requisites: (a) a charge in writing to be filed; (b)
an opportunity for respondent to comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court; and (c) an opportunity to be heard by
himself or by counsel.16 Records show that these requirements were complied with.
The Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. SP No. 56579, dismissed the charge for indirect contempt, holding that respondent's deposition was done in
good faith, thus:
It should be emphasized that what triggered the holding of private respondent's deposition last December 14, 1999 was the use by
the petitioners of the June 09 and 28, 1999 depositions when at that time no orders were issued by Us enjoining any proceedings
below. The use of the petitioners of June 09 and 28 depositions have been vigorously objected to by the private respondent,
contending that there was a misunderstanding created when the private respondent was cross-examined by the counsel for the
petitioners, and in his honest belief to clarify such misunderstanding in the previous depositions, the December 14, 1999
deposition was taken.
We see no reason to depart from the foregoing findings by the appellate court. Moreover, the taking of respondent's deposition is not a part of
the court proceedings in Civil Case No. 98-91356, hence, not covered by the writ of injunction issued by the Court of Appeals. Let it be
stressed at this point that we have always abided by the dogma that courts must exercise their contempt powers sparingly.
In sum, we rule that the Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing the petitions in CA-G.R. SP No. 52914 and CA-G.R. SP No. 56579.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petitions. The challenged Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52914 and CA-G.R. SP No.
56579 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 150949

June 21, 2007

JUDGE DOLORES L. ESPAOL,* Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Dasmarias, Cavite,petitioner,
vs.
ATTY. BENJAMIN S. FORMOSO and SPOUSES BENITO SEE and MARLY SEE, respondents.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision1 dated September 12, 2001 and Resolution dated November 15, 2001 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 65652.
The facts are:
On April 15, 1994, Sharcons Builders Philippines, Inc. (Sharcons) bought from Evanswinda Morales a piece of land consisting of 33,130
square meters in Paliparan, Dasmarias, Cavite. The property is covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-278479 issued in her
name by the Register of Deeds of Trece Martires City.
Thus, TCT No. T-278479 in Evanswindas name was cancelled and in lieu thereof, TCT No. T-511462 was issued in the name of Sharcons.
However, when the latters workers tried to fence and take possession of the lot, they were prevented by the caretaker of spouses Joseph and
Enriqueta Mapua. The caretaker claimed that spouses Mapua are the owners of the land. Sharcons verified the status of the title and found
that TCT No. T-107163 was indeed registered in the names of spouses Mapua as early as July 13, 1979.
On January 25, 2000, Sharcons filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 90, Dasmarias, Cavite a complaint for quieting of title,
docketed as Civil Case No. 2035-00. Impleaded as defendants were spouses Mapua, Evanswinda Morales, and the Register of Deeds of
Trece Martires City.
In their answer, spouses Mapua alleged, among others, that all the documents relied upon by Sharcons are spurious and falsified.
In the course of the proceedings, or on July 9, 2001, Judge Dolores L. Espaol, petitioner, issued an Order stating that Benito See and Marly
See, president and treasurer, respectively, of Sharcons, and its counsel, Atty. Benjamin Formoso, respondents, have used a spurious
certificate of title and tax declaration when it (Sharcons) filed with the RTC its complaint for quieting of title. Consequently, petitioner declared
respondents guilty of direct contempt of court and ordered their confinement for ten (10) days in the municipal jail of Dasmarias, Cavite.
Petitioners Order is partly reproduced as follows:

From the foregoing circumstances, this Court is of the view and so holds that the instant case is a callous and blatant imposition of
lies, falsehoods, deceptions, and fraudulent manipulations, through the extensive use of falsified documents by the plaintiff
corporation and its former counsel, Atty. Benjamin S. Formoso, defendant Evanswinda C. Morales and even the Geodetic Engineer
who connived with this private group on one hand, and some officials and employees of the government agencies responsible for
the processing and issuance of spurious or falsified titles, on the other. Unless these fraudulent operations are put to a complete and
drastic halt, the Courts are at the mercy of these unscrupulous people for their own personal gain.
Using the presumption that whoever is in possession and user of falsified document is the forger thereof (Gamido v. Court of
Appeals, 25 SCRA 101 [1995]), let the appropriate falsification charges be filed against Benito See and Marly See together with
Evanswinda C. Morales. Thus, let a copy of this Order be forwarded to the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of
Justice for their appropriate action. As regards Atty. Benjamin S. Formoso, let a copy of this Order be forwarded to the Bar
Confidants Office, Supreme Court. Manila.
Further, Benito See and Marly See, President and Treasurer of Sharcons Builders Phils. Inc., respectively, and Atty. Benjamin S.
Formoso, counsel for Sharcons until March 13, 2001, are declared and held in contempt for foisting falsehoods and using falsified
and spurious documents in the pursuit of their nefarious activities pursuant to the instant case filed before this Court. Let the
corresponding Warrants of Arrest be issued against the aforesaid respondents who should serve ten (10) days of detention at the
Dasmarias Municipal Jail, Cavite.
Likewise, the title issued to Sharcons Builders Philippines, Inc., under TCT No. T-511462 allegedly issued on November 11, 1994,
being spurious, is hereby cancelled, it having been derived from another spurious title with TCT No. T-278479 allegedly issued to
Evanswinda C. Morales on December 29, 1989. The Declaration of Real Property No. 4736 is likewise hereby cancelled for being
spurious. Let a copy of this Order be forwarded to the Registry of Deeds for its implementation with respect to the two (2) titles for
cancellation and to the Assessors Office of the Municipality of Dasmarias, Cavite, to stave off the proliferation of these spurious
instruments.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, whereas, the private defendants
counterclaims, which need further substantiation, are likewise dismissed. However, the said private defendants are not precluded
from pursuing their rightful course(s) of action in the interest of justice.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioner stated that in determining the merits of Sharcons' complaint for quieting of title, she "stumbled" upon Civil Case No. 623-92 for
cancellation of title and damages filed with the RTC, Branch 20, Imus, Cavite, presided by then Judge Lucenito N. Tagle. 2 Petitioner then took
judicial notice of the judges Decision declaring that Sharcons' TCT and other supporting documents are falsified and that respondents are
responsible therefor.
On July 12, 2001, petitioner issued warrants of arrest against respondents. They were confined in the municipal jail of Dasmarias, Cavite.
That same day, respondents filed a motion for bail and a motion to lift the order of arrest. But they were denied outright by petitioner.
Respondents then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65652. On July 19, 2001,
the Court of Appeals granted the petition.
On September 12, 2001, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, finding the instant petition to be meritorious, the same is hereby GRANTED. Respondent
judges July 9, 2001 Order, insofar as it declared herein petitioners in direct contempt and ordered their incarceration for ten (10)
days, as well as the Warrant of Arrest, dated July 12, 2001, and the Order of Commitment, dated July 13, 2001, which the
respondent judge issued against the persons of the herein petitioners, are hereby NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.
The Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Espaol erred in taking cognizance of the Decision rendered by then Judge Tagle in Civil Case No.
623-92 since it was not offered in evidence in Civil Case No. 2035-00 for quieting of title. Moreover, as the direct contempt of court is criminal
in nature, petitioner should have conducted a hearing. Thus, she could have determined whether respondents are guilty as charged.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the Court of Appeals denied the same in its Resolution of November 15, 2001.
Hence, this petition.
The basic question before us is whether petitioner erred in ruling that respondents are guilty of direct contempt of court for using falsified
documents when Sharcons filed its complaint for quieting of title.
The early case of In re Jones3 defined contempt of court as "some act or conduct which tends to interfere with the business of the court, by a
refusal to obey some lawful order of the court, or some act of disrespect to the dignity of the court which in some way tends to interfere with or
hamper the orderly proceedings of the court and thus lessens the general efficiency of the same." It has also been described as "a defiance of
the authority, justice or dignity of the court; such conduct as tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or to
interfere with or prejudice parties litigants or their witnesses during litigation." 4 Simply put, it is despising of the authority, justice, or dignity
of the court.5
The offense of contempt traces its origin to that time in England when all courts in the realm were but divisions of the Curia Regia, the
supreme court of the monarch, and to scandalize a court was an affront to the sovereign.6This concept was adopted by the Americans and
brought to our shores with modifications. In this jurisdiction, it is now recognized that courts have the inherent power to punish for
contempt on the ground that respect for the courts guarantees the very stability of the judicial institution. 7 Such stability is essential to
the preservation of order in judicial proceedings, to the enforcement of judgments, orders, and mandates of the courts, and, consequently, to
the very administration of justice.8

Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides:


SEC. 1. Direct contempt punished summarily. A person guilty of misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court as to obstruct or
interrupt the proceedings before the same, including disrespect toward the court, offensive personalities toward others, or refusal to
be sworn or to answer as a witness, or to subscribe an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required to do so, may be summarily
adjudged in contempt by such court and punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding ten
(10) days, or both, if it be a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, or by a fine not exceeding two hundred
pesos or imprisonment, not exceeding one (1) day, or both, if it be a lower court.
In Narcida v. Bowen,9 this Court characterized direct contempt as one done "in the presence of or so near the court or judge as to obstruct the
administration of justice." It is a contumacious act done facie curiae and may be punished summarily without hearing.10 In other words, one
may be summarily adjudged in direct contempt at the very moment or at the very instance of the commission of the act of contumely.
Section 3, Rule 71 of the same Rules states:
SEC. 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. After a charge in writing has been filed and an opportunity
given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or by
counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:
(a) Misbehavior of an officer of court in the performance of his official duties or in his official transactions;
(b) Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, or judgment of a court, including the act of a person who, after
being dispossessed or ejected from any real property by the judgment or process of any court of competent jurisdiction, enters or
attempts or induces another to enter into or upon such real property, for the purpose of executing acts of ownership or possession,
or in any manner disturbs the possession given to the person adjudged to be entitled thereto;
(c) Any abuse of or any unlawful interference with the processes or proceedings of a court not constituting direct contempt under
Section 1 of this Rule;
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice;
(e) Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court and acting as such without authority;
(f) Failure to obey a subpoena duly served;
(g) The rescue, or attempted rescue, of a person or property in the custody of an officer by virtue of an order or process of a court
held by him.
But nothing in this section shall be so construed as to prevent the court from issuing process to bring the respondent into court, or
from holding him in custody pending such proceedings.
Indirect or constructive contempt, in turn, is one perpetrated outside of the sitting of the court and may include misbehavior of an officer of a
court in the performance of his official duties or in his official transactions, disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order,
judgment, or command of a court, or injunction granted by a court or a judge, any abuse or any unlawful interference with the process or
proceedings of a court not constituting direct contempt, or any improper conduct tending directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct or degrade
the administration of justice.11
We agree with petitioner that the use of falsified and forged documents is a contumacious act. However, it constitutes indirect contempt not
direct contempt. Pursuant to the above provision, such act is an improper conduct which degrades the administration of justice. In Santos v.
Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch VI,12we ruled that the imputed use of a falsified document, more so where the falsity of the document
is not apparent on its face, merely constitutes indirect contempt, and as such is subject to such defenses as the accused may raise in the
proper proceedings. Thus, following Section 3, Rule 71, a contemner may be punished only after a charge in writing has been filed, and an
opportunity has been given to the accused to be heard by himself and counsel.13 Moreover, settled is the rule that a contempt proceeding is
not a civil action, but a separate proceeding of a criminal nature in which the court exercises limited jurisdiction. 14 Thus, the modes of
procedure and the rules of evidence in contempt proceedings are assimilated as far as practicable to those adapted to criminal
prosecutions.15 Perforce, petitioner judge erred in declaring summarily that respondents are guilty of direct contempt and ordering their
incarceration. She should have conducted a hearing with notice to respondents.
Petitioner, in convicting respondents for direct contempt of court, took judicial notice of the Decision in Civil Case No. 623-92, assigned to
another RTC branch, presided by then Judge Tagle. Section 1, Rule 129 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 1. Judicial notice, when mandatory. A court shall take judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the existence
and territorial extent of states, their political history, forms of government, and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the
admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political constitution and history of the Philippines, the official acts of
the legislative, executive andjudicial departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the geographical
divisions.
In Gener v. De Leon,16 we held that courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of the contents of records of other cases even when such
cases have been tried or pending in the same court. Hence, we reiterate that petitioner took judicial notice of the Decision rendered by another
RTC branch and on the basis thereof, concluded that respondents used falsified documents (such as land title and tax declaration) when
Sharcons filed its complaint for quieting. Verily, the Court of Appeals did not err in ruling that respondents are not guilty of direct contempt of
court.
Meanwhile, the instant petition challenging the Decision of the Court of Appeals granting the writ of habeas corpusin favor of respondents has
become moot. We recall that respondents were released after posting the required bail as ordered by the Court of Appeals. A writ of habeas

corpus will not lie on behalf of a person who is not actually restrained of his liberty. And a person discharged on bail is not restrained of his
liberty as to be entitled to a writ of habeas corpus.17
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The challenged Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 65652
are AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 117266 March 13, 1997


IN THE MATTER OF CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST VENTURA O. DUCAT and TENG MARIANO AND CRUZ LAW OFFICES,
PAPA SECURITIES CORPORATION, petitioner.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
PAPA SECURITIES CORPORATION filed on 30 September 1983 an action for a sum of money against Ventura O. Ducat before the Regional
Trial Court of Makati 1 in connection with an obligation which arose on 25 August 1983.
On 30 June 1987 the trial court rendered judgment finding respondent Ventura O. Ducat liable to petitioner Papa Securities Corporation in the
principal amount of P3,159,253.37 with interest at 14% per annum from 25 August 1983 until full payment, service fee of 1/2% of the debt
balance computed monthly, attorney's fees and expenses of litigation in an amount equivalent to 25% of the amount due plus costs of suit.
On 12 February 1991 the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. On 20 November 1991 this Court also affirmed the decision
of the Court of Appeals, and on 22 January 1992 denied the motion for its reconsideration.
On 18 June 1992 a writ of execution was issued by the trial court by virtue of which respondent Ducat's shares of stock with petitioner and a
lot located at Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, were sold in an execution sale. The proceeds of the sale being insufficient to satisfy the judgment
debt his residential house and lot located at Wack Wack Subdivision, Mandaluyong, were further sold in a public sale on 7 September 1992. In
that sale petitioner was the highest bidder. On 9 September 1992 a certificate of sale covering the aforementioned property was issued by the
Sheriff and the sale was accordingly annotated on the certificate of title.
Respondent Ducat having failed to redeem the Wack Wack property within the one (1) year redemption period, a final deed of sale was
executed by the Sheriff on 10 September 1993 and a writ of possession with notice to vacate was issued by the trial court.

On 14 September 1993 respondent Ducat filed an Urgent Omnibus Motion seeking to annul the execution sale conducted on 7 September
1992, to set aside the order of 10 September 1993, and to hold in abeyance the implementation of the writ of possession and notice to vacate
on the grounds that: (a) the levy and sale of the Wack Wack property already exceeded the amount of the judgment debt; (b) the Sheriff's
Return dated 15 July 1992 regarding the sale of the shares of stock rendered the writ of execution dated 18 June 1992 functus officiosuch that
no further sale on execution could have been made by authority thereof; and, (c) petitioner failed to observe the procedure laid down by law
for the sale of properties exempt from execution such as the Wack Wack property which has been constituted as his family home.
Resolving the claims of Ducat, the trial court held: (1) the auction sale of 7 September 1992 was conducted in full compliance with the
requirements of the law; besides, as early as 26 October 1992 Ducat already acknowledged the validity of the proceedings in his letter to the
Makati Stock Exchange; (2) there could never as yet be an excessive execution of judgment in the absence of entry of satisfaction of judgment
contemplated by Sec. 46 in relation to Sec. 47 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court; and, (3) the family home of Ducat was not exempt from
execution. Thus on 3 November 1993 the Urgent Omnibus Motion was denied, 2 and on 31 January 1994 the Court of Appeals sustained the
denial of the motion. 3
The decision of the Court of Appeals was elevated to this Court but on 23 May 1994, for non-compliance with Circulars 1-88 and 19-91, the
Motion for Extension of Time to file petition was denied, 4 and the petition itself was likewise denied not only because it was filed out of time but
also for failure to show any reversible error committed by the appellate court. Respondent Ducat moved to file the petition anew but was
similarly denied on 11 July 1994 because no compelling reason was adduced to warrant the relief sought. 5 Thereafter petitioner filed before
the trial court a motion for the issuance of an alias writ of possession.
On 16 August 1994 respondent Ducat moved for reconsideration of the denial of his motion by this Court.
On 18 August 1994 or during the pendency of the motion for reconsideration of the denial of his motion respondent Ducat thru a new and
collaborating counsel, respondent Atty. Elgar Cruz of the Teng Mariano and Cruz Law Offices, filed an urgent motion to declare failure of
auction sale of the Wack Wack property before the trial court. He argued that based on the decision dated 30 June 1987 and the
corresponding writ of execution his obligation to petitioner has amounted to P13,789,964.73. After the sale of his shares of stock and the Ayala
Alabang lot there was left only a balance of P5,429,964.73 whereas the Wack Wack property was sold for P13,294,264.31 thereby leaving an
excess over the judgment in the amount of P7,864,299.58. Atty. Cruz invoked Sec. 23, Rule 39, of the Rules of Court which provides that if the
amount of the bid exceeds the amount stated in the judgment, the judgment creditor who at the same time is the purchaser at the execution
sale must pay the excess.
The records do not show that petitioner paid the excess. He further invoked Art. 1352 of the Civil Code which provides that a contract of
purchase and sale is null and void and produces no effect whatsoever where the purchase price which appears therein as paid was never in
fact paid by the purchaser to the vendor; 6 needless to say, the auction sale of the Wack Wack property did not produce any effect.
On 7 September 1994 this Court denied reconsideration of the 11 July 1994 ruling.
On 14 September 1994 respondent Ducat again thru respondent Atty. Cruz filed before the trial court a position paper in support of the 18
August 1994 motion.
On 26 September 1994 another urgent motion was filed but this time for protective orders: (a) requiring the Sheriff to render a complete and
final report and accounting; (b) requiring petitioner to pay the excess of bid over the judgment debt; (c) declaring void the certificate of sale of
the Wack Wack property based on the same arguments raised in the 18 August 1994 motion; and, (d) holding in abeyance the resolution of
the motion for an alias writ of possession.
The filing of these motions prompted petitioner to file a petition with this Court on 12 October 1994 to cite in contempt of court respondents
Ventura O. Ducat and Teng Mariano and Cruz Law Offices alleging that respondent Ducat and his present counsel have deliberately,
maliciously and in utter and palpable bad faith delayed and continue to delay the satisfaction of a final judgment in its favor, and that
respondent Ducat cannot keep on re-filing motions and attempting to re-open finally settled issues through the expediency of hiring a new
counsel. On the other hand, the present counsel is duty-bound to be aware of the status of the case and cannot take refuge in the claim that
he was newly hired.
Incidentally, on 14 October 1994 the trial court denied the motion to declare the 7 September 1992 auction sale void inasmuch as the Court of
Appeals and this Court had categorically and finally declared the sale valid. The motion for the issuance of a protective order to declare the
certificate of sale void was likewise denied since the issuance of said certificate was an act related to the auction sale that has been declared
valid with finality. On 17 October 1994 the trial court issued an order stating that the alias writ of possession/authority to break open would
issue simultaneously as soon as it was informed by the parties of the action taken by them in the matter of the excess judgment.
Respondents contend that they have not committed any act to delay the proceedings before the trial court. In fact, their acts have been guided
by and premised on the decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 January 1994, as affirmed by this Court in G.R. No. 115585, which held that
the computation of the judgment debt vis-a-vis the amounts obtained under execution was premature. They filed the two (2) urgent motions
before the trial court precisely because it was the opportune time to compute those amounts. They counter the present motion by moving that
petitioner instead be declared in indirect contempt of court based on the following: (a) abuse of the processes of the courts, particularly the
process of execution, and (b) improper conduct directly tending to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration of justice.
We grant the motion of petitioner as we find respondent Ventura O. Ducat and his counsel Atty. Elgar Cruz guilty of indirect contempt of court
pursuant to Sec. 3, Rule 71, of the Rules of Court. By filing the 18 August 1994 motion respondents committed the acts mentioned in letters (c)
and (d) of Sec. 3:
(c) Any abuse of or any unlawful interference with the process or proceedings of a court not constituting direct contempt
under section 1 of this rule; 7
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice . . . .
The power to declare a person in contempt of court and in dealing with him accordingly is a means to protect and preserve the dignity of the
court, the solemnity of the proceedings therein and the administration of justice from callous misbehavior and offensive personalities. 8

A comparison of the Urgent Omnibus Motion filed on 14 September


1993 9 with the urgent motion to declare failure of auction sale of the Wack Wack properly filed on 18 August 1994 10discloses that the latter
motion merely echoed the allegations found in the former motion. Furthermore, both motions prayed for the same relief, namely, the
annulment of the auction sale conducted on 7 September 1992. In effect, respondents asked the trial court in the 18 August 1994 motion to
resolve an issue which has been settled by the same court as early as 3 November 1993, affirmed by the Court of Appeals on 31 January
1994, and by this Court on 11 July 1994. Equally disdainful is the fact that the motion for reconsideration of the 11 July 1994 ruling was still
pending before this Court when respondents filed the 18 August 1994 motion. The foregoing actuation demonstrates defiance of the authority
and dignity of this Court and disrespect of the administration of justice. 11
The explanation proffered by respondents in filing the 18 August 1994 and 26 September 1994 motions, i.e., that it is the opportune time to
determine whether there was an excess over the judgment debt, is an attempt to mask their underlying intention. As distinctly set forth in the
prayer of the 18 August 1994 motion and in the position paper which they filed as proof and in support of the motion, the relief that they were
asking was the annulment of the 7 September 1992 auction sale.
Respondents are therefore guilty of indirect contempt of this Court. Punishment shall be meted on a corrective principle 12 in order to vindicate
the authority and dignity of this Court and the administration of justice. Under Sec. 6, Rule 71, of the Rules of Court, if the contempt was
committed against a superior court or judge, the accused may be fined not exceeding one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) or imprisoned for not
more than six (6) months, or both. Conformably thereto, we impose upon respondent Ventura O. Ducat a fine of Five Hundred Pesos
(P500.00). As regards respondent Atty. Elgar Cruz, being not just a member of the legal profession but an officer of the court as well, 13 we
impose upon him a higher fine of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00).
Respondents' motion to declare petitioner instead guilty of indirect contempt of court deserves no consideration because the bases relied
upon are utterly unfounded.
WHEREFORE, respondents VENTURA O. DUCAT and ATTY. ELGAR CRUZ of Teng Mariano and Cruz Law Offices are declared GUILTY of
INDIRECT CONTEMPT and fined Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) and One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00), respectively, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with more severely. The imposed fines should be paid to this
Court within ten (10) days from notice.
Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and entered in the records of respondent Atty. Elgar Cruz.
SO ORDERED.