You are on page 1of 5

Declaratory Relief

1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, AS AMENDED

RULE 63

Declaratory Relief and Similar Remedies

Section 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested under a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, or
whose rights are affected by a statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental
regulation may, before breach or violation thereof bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to
determine any question of construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties,
thereunder. (Bar Matter No. 803, 17 February 1998)

An action for the reformation of an instrument, to quiet title to real property or remove clouds therefrom, or to
consolidate ownership under Article 1607 of the Civil Code, may be brought under this Rule. (1a, R64)

Section 2. Parties. All persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected by the declaration shall be
made parties; and no declaration shall, except as otherwise provided in these Rules, prejudice the rights of persons
not parties to the action. (2a, R64)

Section 3. Notice on Solicitor General. In any action which involves the validity of a statute, executive order
or regulation, or any other governmental regulation, the Solicitor General shall be notified by the party
assailing the same and shall be entitled to be heard upon such question. (3a, R64)

Section 4. Local government ordinances. In any action involving the validity of a local government ordinance, the
corresponding prosecutor or attorney of the local governmental unit involved shall be similarly notified and entitled to
be heard. If such ordinance is alleged to be unconstitutional, the Solicitor General shall also be notified and entitled to
be heard. (4a, R64)

Section 5. Court action discretionary. Except in actions falling under the second paragraph of section 1 of this
Rule, the court, motu proprio or upon motion, may refuse to exercise the power to declare rights and to construe
instruments in any case where a decision would not terminate the uncertainty or controversy which gave rise to the
action, or in any case where the declaration or construction is not necessary and proper under the circumstances.
(5a, R64)

Section 6. Conversion into ordinary action. If before the final termination of the case, a breach or violation of an
instrument or a statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental regulation should take
place, the action may thereupon be converted into an ordinary action, and the parties shall be allowed to file such
pleadings as may be necessary or proper. (6a, R64)

*Caltex vs. Palomar G.R. No. L-19650

By express mandate of section 1 of Rule 66 of the old Rules of Court, which was the
applicable legal basis for the remedy at the time it was invoked, declaratory relief is available
to any person "whose rights are affected by a statute . . . to determine any question of
construction or validity arising under the . . . statute and for a declaration of his rights
thereunder" (now section 1, Rule 64, Revised Rules of Court). In amplification, this Court,
conformably to established jurisprudence on the matter, laid down certain conditions sine qua
non therefor, to wit: (1) there must be a justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy must be between
persons whose interests are adverse; (3) the party seeking declaratory relief must have a legal
interest in the controversy; and (4) the issue involved must be ripe for judicial determination
(Tolentino vs. The Board of Accountancy, et al., G.R. No. L-3062, September 28, 1951; Delumen, et
al. vs. Republic of the Philippines, 50 O.G., No. 2, pp. 576, 578-579; Edades vs. Edades, et al., G.R.
No. L-8964, July 31, 1956). The gravamen of the appellant's stand being that the petition herein
states no sufficient cause of action for declaratory relief, our duty is to assay the factual bases
thereof upon the foregoing crucible.

As we look in retrospect at the incidents that generated the present controversy, a number of
significant points stand out in bold relief. The appellee (Caltex), as a business enterprise of some
consequence, concededly has the unquestioned right to exploit every legitimate means, and to avail
of all appropriate media to advertise and stimulate increased patronage for its products. In contrast,
the appellant, as the authority charged with the enforcement of the Postal Law, admittedly has the
power and the duty to suppress transgressions thereof particularly thru the issuance of fraud
orders, under Sections 1982 and 1983 of the Revised Administrative Code, against legally non-
mailable schemes. Obviously pursuing its right aforesaid, the appellee laid out plans for the sales
promotion scheme hereinbefore detailed. To forestall possible difficulties in the dissemination of
information thereon thru the mails, amongst other media, it was found expedient to request the
appellant for an advance clearance therefor. However, likewise by virtue of his jurisdiction in the
premises and construing the pertinent provisions of the Postal Law, the appellant saw a violation
thereof in the proposed scheme and accordingly declined the request. A point of difference as to the
correct construction to be given to the applicable statute was thus reached. Communications in
which the parties expounded on their respective theories were exchanged. The confidence with
which the appellee insisted upon its position was matched only by the obstinacy with which the
appellant stood his ground. And this impasse was climaxed by the appellant's open warning to the
appellee that if the proposed contest was "conducted, a fraud order will have to be issued against it
and all its representatives."

Against this backdrop, the stage was indeed set for the remedy prayed for. The appellee's
insistent assertion of its claim to the use of the mails for its proposed contest, and the
challenge thereto and consequent denial by the appellant of the privilege demanded,
undoubtedly spawned a live controversy. The justiciability of the dispute cannot be gainsaid.
There is an active antagonistic assertion of a legal right on one side and a denial thereof on
the other, concerning a real not a mere theoretical question or issue. The contenders are
as real as their interests are substantial. To the appellee, the uncertainty occasioned by the
divergence of views on the issue of construction hampers or disturbs its freedom to enhance its
business. To the appellant, the suppression of the appellee's proposed contest believed to
transgress a law he has sworn to uphold and enforce is an unavoidable duty. With the appellee's
bent to hold the contest and the appellant's threat to issue a fraud order therefor if carried out, the
contenders are confronted by the ominous shadow of an imminent and inevitable litigation unless
their differences are settled and stabilized by a tranquilizing declaration (Pablo y Sen, et al. vs.
Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. L-6868, April 30, 1955). And, contrary to the insinuation of the
appellant, the time is long past when it can rightly be said that merely the appellee's "desires are
thwarted by its own doubts, or by the fears of others" which admittedly does not confer a cause of
action. Doubt, if any there was, has ripened into a justiciable controversy when, as in the case at bar,
it was translated into a positive claim of right which is actually contested (III Moran, Comments on
the Rules of Court, 1963 ed., pp. 132-133, citing: Woodward vs. Fox West Coast Theaters, 36 Ariz.,
251, 284 Pac. 350).

Nor is it accurate to say, as the appellant intimates, that a pronouncement on the matter at hand can
amount to nothing more than an advisory opinion the handing down of which is anathema to a
declaratory relief action. Of course, no breach of the Postal Law has as yet been committed. Yet, the
disagreement over the construction thereof is no longer nebulous or contingent. It has taken a fixed
and final shape, presenting clearly defined legal issues susceptible of immediate resolution. With the
battle lines drawn, in a manner of speaking, the propriety nay, the necessity of setting the
dispute at rest before it accumulates the asperity distemper, animosity, passion and violence of a
full-blown battle which looms ahead (III Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963 ed., p. 132
and cases cited), cannot but be conceded. Paraphrasing the language in Zeitlin vs. Arnebergh 59
Cal., 2d., 901, 31 Cal. Rptr., 800, 383 P. 2d., 152, cited in 22 Am. Jur., 2d., p. 869, to deny
declaratory relief to the appellee in the situation into which it has been cast, would be to force it to
choose between undesirable alternatives. If it cannot obtain a final and definitive pronouncement as
to whether the anti-lottery provisions of the Postal Law apply to its proposed contest, it would be
faced with these choices: If it launches the contest and uses the mails for purposes thereof, it not
only incurs the risk, but is also actually threatened with the certain imposition, of a fraud order with
its concomitant stigma which may attach even if the appellee will eventually be vindicated; if it
abandons the contest, it becomes a self-appointed censor, or permits the appellant to put into effect
a virtual fiat of previous censorship which is constitutionally unwarranted. As we weigh these
considerations in one equation and in the spirit of liberality with which the Rules of Court are to be
interpreted in order to promote their object (section 1, Rule 1, Revised Rules of Court) which, in
the instant case, is to settle, and afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to, rights
and duties under a law we can see in the present case any imposition upon our jurisdiction or any
futility or prematurity in our intervention.
**G.R. NO. 174129 Ferrer and Espera vs. Mayor Roco Jr.

Petitioners, owners of real development corporation filed a declaratory relief


questioning the resolution and ordinance of the Local Government (SB) referring/endorsing
their application to build a private cemetery to Housing and Land Use and Regulatory Board
(HLURB). The RTC found that the prayer of petitioners was premature as the questioned resolutions
and ordinance were merely promulgated to pave the way for the endorsement of the application of
the private respondent to the HLURB. It recognized that the HLURB is the entity which will decide
whether the application of the private respondent will be granted or not.

Declaratory relief is defined as an action by any person interested in a deed, will,


contract or other written instrument, executive order or resolution, to determine any question
of construction or validity arising from the instrument, executive order or regulation, or
statute, and for a declaration of his rights and duties thereunder. The only issue that may be
raised in such a petition is the question of construction or validity of the provisions in an
instrument or statute.

It is settled that the requisites of an action for declaratory relief are: 1] the subject matter of the
controversy must be a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, statute, executive order or
regulation, or ordinance; 2] the terms of said documents and the validity thereof are doubtful and
require judicial construction; 3] there must have been no breach of the documents in question; 4]
there must be an actual justiciable controversy or the "ripening seeds" of one between persons
whose interests are adverse; 5] the issue must be ripe for judicial determination; and 6] adequate
relief is not available through other means or other forms of action or proceeding. (Almeda v.
Bathala Marketing Industries, Inc., G.R. No. 150806, January 28, 2008, 542 SCRA 470.)

In this case, the issue raised by petitioners is clearly not yet ripe for judicial determination. Nowhere
in the assailed resolutions and ordinance does it show that the public respondents acted on private
respondents application with finality. What appears therefrom is that the application of private
respondent for development permit has been endorsed to the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
Board (HLURB) for appropriate action, the latter being the sole regulatory body for housing and land
development.

Under the doctrine of primary administrative jurisdiction, courts cannot or will not determine a
controversy where the issues for resolution demand the exercise of sound administrative discretion
requiring the special knowledge, experience, and services of the administrative tribunal to determine
technical and intricate matters of fact. In other words, if a case is such that its determination requires
the expertise, specialized training and knowledge of an administrative body, relief must first be
obtained in an administrative proceeding before resort to the courts is had even if the matter may
well be within their proper jurisdiction. (Euro-Med Laboratories, Phil., Inc. v. The Province of
Batangas, G.R. No. 148106, July 17, 2006, 495 SCRA 301.)

G.R. No. 204603 , Republic of the Philippines vs. Herminio Harry Roque, et al

Private respondents filed a petition for declaratory relief assailing the constitutionality of the
following sections of RA 9372: (a) Section 3, 7 for being void for vagueness;8 (b) Section 7,9for
violating the right to privacy of communication and due process and the privileged nature of priest-
penitent relationships;10 (c)Section 18,11 for violating due process, the prohibition against ex post
facto laws or bills of attainder, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as for contradicting Article 125 12 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended;13 (d) Section 26,14 for violating the right to travel; 15 and (e) Section 27,16 for
violating the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. 17

Asserting the affirmative, petitioners argue that private respondents failed to satisfy the requirements
for declaratory relief and that the Court had already sustained with finality the constitutionality of RA
9372.

On the contrary, private respondents maintain that the requirements for declaratory relief have been
satisfied and that the Court has yet to resolve the constitutionality of RA 9372, negating any grave
abuse of discretion on the RTCs part.

Ruling:
Case law states that the following are the requisites for an action for declaratory relief:

first , the subject matter of the controversy must be a deed, will, contract or other written instrument,
statute, executive order or regulation, or ordinance; second , the terms of said documents and the
validity thereof are doubtful and require judicial construction; third , there must have been no breach
of the documents in question; fourth , there must be an actual justiciable controversy or the "ripening
seeds" of one between persons whose interests are adverse; fifth , the issue must be ripe for judicial
determination; and sixth , adequate relief is not available through other means or other forms of
action or proceeding.34

Based on a judicious review of the records, the Court observes that while the first, 35 second,36 and
third37requirements appear to exist in this case, the fourth, fifth, and sixth requirements, however,
remain wanting.

As to the fourth requisite, there is serious doubt that an actual justiciable controversy or the "ripening
seeds" of one exists in this case.

Pertinently, a justiciable controversy refers to an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or


ripe for judicial determination, not one that is conjectural or merely anticipatory. 38 Corollary thereto,
by "ripening seeds" it is meant, not that sufficient accrued facts may be dispensed with, but that a
dispute may be tried at its inception before it has accumulated the asperity, distemper, animosity,
passion, and violence of a full blown battle that looms ahead. The concept describes a state of facts
indicating imminent and inevitable litigation provided that the issue is not settled and stabilized by
tranquilizing declaration.39

A perusal of private respondents petition for declaratory relief would show that they have failed to
demonstrate how they are left to sustain or are in immediate danger to sustain some direct injury as
a result of the enforcement of the assailed provisions of RA 9372. Not far removed from the factual
milieu in the Southern Hemisphere cases, private respondents only assert general interests as
citizens, and taxpayers and infractions which the government could prospectively commit if the
enforcement of the said law would remain untrammeled. As their petition would disclose, private
respondents fear of prosecution was solely based on remarks of certain government officials which
were addressed to the general public. 40 They, however, failed to show how these remarks tended
towards any prosecutorial or governmental action geared towards the implementation of RA 9372
against them. In other words, there was no particular, real or imminent threat to any of them. As held
in Southern Hemisphere:

Without any justiciable controversy, the petitions have become pleas for declaratory relief, over
which the Court has no original jurisdiction. Then again, declaratory actions characterized by "double
contingency," where both the activity the petitioners intend to undertake and the anticipated reaction
to it of a public official are merely theorized, lie beyond judicial review for lack of ripeness.
1wphi1

The possibility of abuse in the implementation of RA 9372does not avail to take the present petitions
out of the realm of the surreal and merely imagined. Such possibility is not peculiar to RA 9372 since
the exercise of any power granted by law may be abused. Allegations of abuse must be anchored on
real events before courts may step in to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable.41 (Emphasis supplied; citations omitted)

Thus, in the same light that the Court dismissed the SC petitions in the Southern Hemisphere cases
on the basis of, among others, lack of actual justiciable controversy (or the ripening seeds of one),
the RTC should have dismissed private respondents petition for declaratory relief all the same.

It is well to note that private respondents also lack the required locus standi to mount their
constitutional challenge against the implementation of the above-stated provisions of RA 9372 since
they have not shown any direct and personal interest in the case. 42 While it has been previously held
that transcendental public importance dispenses with the requirement that the petitioner has
experienced or is in actual danger of suffering direct and personal injury, 43 it must be stressed that
cases involving the constitutionality of penal legislation belong to an altogether different genus of
constitutional litigation.44 Towards this end, compelling State and societal interests in the proscription
of harmful conduct necessitate a closer judicial scrutiny of locus standi, 45 as in this case. To rule
otherwise, would be to corrupt the settled doctrine of locus standi, as every worthy cause is an
interest shared by the general public.46
As to the fifth requisite for an action for declaratory relief, neither can it be inferred that the
controversy at hand is ripe for adjudication since the possibility of abuse, based on the above-
discussed allegations in private respondents petition, remain highly-speculative and merely
theorized. It is well-settled that a question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has
1wphi1

had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. 47 This private respondents failed to
demonstrate in the case at bar.

Finally, as regards the sixth requisite, the Court finds it irrelevant to proceed with a discussion on the
availability of adequate reliefs since no impending threat or injury to the private respondents exists in
the first place.

All told, in view of the absence of the fourth and fifth requisites for an action for declaratory relief, as
well as the irrelevance of the sixth requisite, private respondents petition for declaratory relief should
have been dismissed. Thus, by giving due course to the same, it cannot be gainsaid that the RTC
gravely abused its discretion.