BERSAMIN CASES 2009

A. M. No. 09-6-9-SC, August 19, 2009

RE: QUERY OF MR. ROGER C. PRIORESCHI RE EXEMPTION FROM LEGAL AND
FILING FEES OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD FOUNDATION, INC.

RESOLUTION

BERSAMIN, J.:

In his letter dated May 22, 2009 addressed to the Chief Justice, Mr. Roger C. Prioreschi,
administrator of the Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc., wrote:

The Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc. is very grateful for your 1rst. Indorsement to pay a
nominal fee of Php 5,000.00 and the balance upon the collection action of 10 million
pesos, thus giving us access to the Justice System previously denied by an up-front
excessive court fee.

The Hon. Court Administrator Jose Perez pointed out to the need of complying with
OCA Circular No. 42-2005 and Rule 141 that reserves this "privilege" to indigent
persons. While judges are appointed to interpret the law, this type of law seems to be
extremely detailed with requirements that do not leave much room for interpretations.

In addition, this law deals mainly with "individual indigent" and it does not include
Foundations or Associations that work with and for the most Indigent persons. As seen
in our Article of Incorporation, since 1985 the Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc. reached-
out to the poorest among the poor, to the newly born and abandoned babies, to children
who never saw the smile of their mother, to old people who cannot afford a few pesos to
pay for "common prescriptions", to broken families who returned to a normal life. In
other words, we have been working hard for the very Filipino people, that the
Government and the society cannot reach to, or have rejected or abandoned them.

Can the Courts grant to our Foundation who works for indigent and underprivileged
people, the same option granted to indigent people?

The two Executive Judges, that we have approached, fear accusations of favoritism or
other kind of attack if they approve something which is not clearly and specifically stated
in the law or approved by your HONOR.

Can your Honor help us once more?

Grateful for your understanding, God bless you and your undertakings.

We shall be privileged if you find time to visit our orphanage - the Home of Love - and
the Spiritual Retreat Center in Antipolo City.

To answer the query of Mr. Prioreschi, the Courts cannot grant to foundations like the
Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc. the same exemption from payment of legal fees
granted to indigent litigants even if the foundations are working for indigent and
underprivileged people.

The basis for the exemption from legal and filing fees is the free access clause,
embodied in Sec. 11, Art. III of the 1987 Constitution, thus:

Sec. 11. Free access to the courts and quasi judicial bodies and adequate legal
assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.

The importance of the right to free access to the courts and quasi judicial bodies and to
adequate legal assistance cannot be denied. A move to remove the provision on free
access from the Constitution on the ground that it was already covered by the equal
protection clause was defeated by the desire to give constitutional stature to such
specific protection of the poor.[1]

In implementation of the right of free access under the Constitution, the Supreme Court
promulgated rules, specifically, Sec. 21, Rule 3, Rules of Court,[2] and Sec. 19, Rule
141, Rules of Court,[3] which respectively state 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 for the
payment thereof, without prejudice to such other sanctions as the court may impose.
(22a)

Sec. 19. Indigent litigants exempt from payment of legal fees.- Indigent litigants (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 (P300,000.00) pesos shall be exempt from payment of legal fees.

The legal fees shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorable to the
indigent litigant 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, and they
do not 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 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.

The clear intent and precise language of the aforequoted provisions of the Rules of
Court indicate that only a natural party litigant may be regarded as an indigent litigant.
The Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc., being a corporation invested by the State with a
juridical personality separate and distinct from that of its members, [4] is a juridical
person. Among others, it has the power to acquire and possess property of all kinds as
well as incur obligations and bring civil or criminal actions, in conformity with the laws
and regulations of their organization. [5] As a juridical person, therefore, it cannot be
accorded the exemption from legal and filing fees granted to indigent litigants.

That the Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc. is working for indigent and underprivileged
people is of no moment. Clearly, the Constitution has explicitly premised the free access
clause on a person's poverty, a condition that only a natural person can suffer.

There are other reasons that warrant the rejection of the request for exemption in favor
of a juridical person. For one, extending the exemption to a juridical person on the
ground that it works for indigent and underprivileged people may be prone to abuse
(even with the imposition of rigid documentation requirements), particularly by
corporations and entities bent on circumventing the rule on payment of the fees. Also,
the scrutiny of compliance with the documentation requirements may prove too time-
consuming and wasteful for the courts.

In view of the foregoing, the Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc. cannot be extended the
exemption from legal and filing fees despite its working for indigent and underprivileged
people.

SO ORDERED.

G. R. No. 183366, August 19, 2009

RICARDO C. DUCO, PETITIONER, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, FIRST
DIVISION; AND NARCISO B. AVELINO, RESPONDENTS.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

By its April 30, 2008 order issued in EAC (BRGY.) No. 107-2008, the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC), through its First Division, [1] dismissed the petitioner's appeal
from the decision dated January 7, 2008 of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Loay-
Albuquerque-Baclayon (MCTC), Branch 13, stationed in Loay, Bohol, [2] due to his failure
to perfect his appeal and due to the non-payment of the correct amount of appeal fee as
prescribed by the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Likewise, the COMELEC, First
Division, denied his motion for reconsideration on May 22, 2008 [3]because he did not
pay the motion fees prescribed on his motion for reconsideration.

He now assails the dismissal of the appeal and the denial of the motion for
reconsideration, averring that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by strictly applying its Rules of Procedure.

ANTECEDENTS

On October 29, 2007, simultaneous barangay and sangguniang kabataan (SK)
elections were held all over the country. In Barangay Ibabao, Loay, Bohol, the petitioner
was proclaimed as the elected Punong Barangay. His opponent, respondent Narciso
Avelino, initiated an election protest in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), seeking
a recount of the ballots in four precincts upon his allegation that the election results for
the position of Punong Barangay were spurious and fraudulent and did not reflect the
true will of the electorate.

The MCTC ultimately ruled in favor of respondent Avelino, [4] to wit:

WHEREFORE, the Court grants this petition finding petitioner NARCISO B. AVELINO to
be the duly elected Punong Barangay of Barangay Poblacion, Ibabao, Loay, Bohol with
a total of 325 votes against protestee RICARDO C. DUCO with a total of 321 votes, or a
winning margin of four (4) votes.

Protestee is therefore restrained from assuming the post of Punong Barangay of
Barangay Ibabao, Loay, Bohol and from performing the functions of such office.

The counterclaim of protestee RICARDO C. DUCO is hereby ordered DISMISSED in
view of the foregoing findings.

SO ORDERED.

P530. [6] On April 30. 2008.00 under OR No. respectively.00) and One Thousand Pesos (P1. but the COMELEC denied his motion on May 22. and P50.00). 2008[5] and paid as appeal fees the amounts of P820. 3879928. SO ORDERED. contending that: PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN STRICTLY APPLYING THE COMELEC RULES OF PROCEDURE. this Commission (First Division) RESOLVES to DIRECT the Judicial Records Division-ECAD. the Commission (First Division) RESOLVED as it hereby RESOLVES to DISMISS the instant case for Protestee-Appellant's failure to perfect his appeal within five (5) days from receipt of the assailed decision sought to be appealed due to non-payment of the appeal fee as prescribed under the Comelec Rules of Procedure. ACCORDINGLY. 0207223. the petitioner comes to us on certiorari. 2008. SO ORDERED.000. Rule 22 of the same Rules which provides that failure to pay the correct appeal fee is a ground for the dismissal of the appeal.00 under OR No. the COMELEC dismissed Duco's appeal.00 under Official Receipt (OR) No. Rule 40 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure which mandates the payment of appeal fee in the amount of P/3. Rule 40 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure as amended by Comelec Resolution No.000. [7] holding: Pursuant to Section 3. to return to the protestee-appellant the two (2) Postal Money Orders representing belated appeal fees attached to his verified motion for reconsideration in the amounts of Two Thousand Pesos (P2. this Commission.000. PUBLIC RESPONDENT AGAIN COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION TO STRICTLY APPLY .Duco filed his notice of appeal on January 25. 7 (f). however. AS AMENDED.00 and Section 9 (a). 02-0130 and for failure to specify that the evidence is insufficient to justify the assailed Order or that the same is contrary to law. Duco moved for reconsideration.[8] stating: Protestee-Appellant's "Verified Motion for Reconsideration" filed thru mail on 12 May 2008 seeking reconsideration of the Commission's (First Division) Order dated 30 April 2008 is hereby DENIED for failure of the movant to pay the necessary motion fees under Sec. ISSUES Undaunted. 8054003.

5. notify the Presiding Commissioner. 2008 was issued by the First Division when the resolution should have instead been made by the COMELEC en banc due to the matter thereby resolved being the petitioner's motion for reconsideration. resolution. which provides: Sec. Sections 5 and 6. The outlined steps were obviously not followed. and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases. 3. order or ruling of a Division. How Motion for Reconsideration Disposed Of.--Upon the filing of a motion to reconsider a decision. including pre-proclamation controversies. 6. the Clerk of Court concerned shall. within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing thereof. provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc. The latter shall within two (2) days thereafter certify the case to the Commission en banc.-- The Clerk of Court concerned shall calendar the motion for reconsideration for the resolution of the Commission en banc within ten (10) days from the certification thereof. or that the clerk of court of the COMELEC en banc calendared the motion for reconsideration within 10 days from its certification. we cannot but point out that the assailed resolution dated May 22. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions. Article IX-C of the Constitution. The action of the First Division was patently contrary to Sec. Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. outline the correct steps to be taken in the event motions for reconsideration are filed. There is no showing that the clerk of court of the First Division notified the Presiding Commissioner of the motion for reconsideration within 24 hours from its filing. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division. Duty of Clerk of Court of Commission to Calendar Motion for Reconsideration. to wit: Sec. 02-0130 DATED 18 SEPTEMBER 2002 WHEN THERE IS NO SHOWING ON THE PART OF THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT THAT ITEM # 3 OF THE SAME WAS COMPLIED WITH. Lest it be supposed that the Court overlooks the violation of the Constitution. We have to determine whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing Duco's appeal and in denying his motion for reconsideration.COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. or that the Presiding Commissioner certified the case to the COMELEC en banc. 3. RULING OF THE COURT I Before delving on the contentions of the petition. Sec. we set . In this connection.

II Nonetheless. based on Sec. Rule 22 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.800.[9] we are going to resolve herein the propriety of the dismissal of the appeal "considering the urgent need for the resolution of election cases. 4. As we have done in Aguilar v. which pertinently states: Sec.000. his appeal.[12] namely: (1) the amount of P3. COMELEC. that is. within five days after the promulgation of the MCTC decision on January 22. The dismissal of the appeal was in accordance with Sec. and considering that the issue has. short by P1.[13] Accordingly.00 as appeal fee. 4. he paid the appeal fee to the MCTC cashier. rendered the decision of the MCTC final and immutable. the appellant is required to pay the appeal fees imposed by Sec. 3. and deposited with. because the date of the payment of the appeal fee is deemed the actual date of the filing of the notice of appeal. For sure. he paid P1.400. however. the Cash Division of the Commission within the period to file the notice of appeal. 3. On the same day. Rule 40. . contrary to the mandate of Sec. 2008. and (3) the amount of P150.00. the fees "shall be paid to. filed already beyond the five- day reglementary period. His payment was.00 as legal research fee. after all. [11] as amended by COMELEC Resolution No. 2008. (2) the amount of P50.. we do not remand the motion for reconsideration to the COMELEC en banc for its proper resolution. Rule 40." The petitioner timely filed his notice of appeal on January 25. of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. the First Division could not issue the resolution because the Constitution has lodged the authority to do so in the COMELEC en banc. [10] In filing the appeal.00 as appeal fee to the Clerk of Court of the MCTC. Pursuant to Sec. Moreover.00 as bailiff's fee. xxx The payment of the deficiency beyond the five-day reglementary period did not cure the defect. as amended by Resolution No.aside the second assailed resolution (dated May 22. Rule 40 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. 02-0130. 9. been raised in this petition. Grounds for Dismissal of Appeal. The petition for certiorari lacks merit. the notice of appeal must be filed within five days after the promulgation of the decision. 9 (a).The appeal may be dismissed upon motion of either party or at the instance of the Commission on any of the following grounds: (a) Failure of the appellant to pay the correct appeal fee." Under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. 2008) for being contrary to the Constitution and in disregard of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. 02-0130. Rule 40 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure that the payment be made to the Cash Division of the COMELEC.

M. 2007. 2002.000. 9 (d). but did not pay the necessary motion fees required under Sec.[19] the petitioner therein timely filed his notice of appeal on December 2. 2003. or 10 days from his receipt of the decision. He alleges that he paid the appeal fees required under A. The subsequent full payment of the filing fee on 28 January 2003 did not cure the jurisdictional defect.600. per the certification dated May 19. A case is not deemed duly registered and docketed until full payment of the filing fee. which he paid by postal money order on January 28. Rule 40 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.Still. but the COMELEC still rejected the motion for reconsideration due to the finality of the orders earlier issued.00. 2002 but had appealed only on December 9. 2003. COMELEC. remitting the required fees by postal money order. He later on filed another motion for reconsideration on May 16. The date of payment on 28 January 2003 is the actual date of filing the appeal which is almost two (2) months after Zamoras received the MTCC Decision . Rule 22 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure) after it was determined that he had received the decision of the trial court on November 29. Otherwise stated. Commission on Elections. He submits that the COMELEC should have accepted the postal money order for P3. 2003. On January 17. 3 and Sec. He claims that he honestly believed in good faith that his appeal fees were sufficient. 2004 but paid only P600. [18] with the Court repeating the warning that any error or deficit in the payment of filing fees in election cases was no longer excusable. allegedly the date on which he received the notice dated January 17.00 remitted with the motion for reconsideration and given him ample time to come up with any deficiency which he was more than willing to pay. the COMELEC issued an order on March 10.00 as appeal fee. Commission on Elections. When the COMELEC's actions were challenged. In Zamoras v. 2003. the petitioner contends that the COMELEC should have liberally applied its procedural rules in order not to override substantial justice. also by registered mail. We cannot heed the petitioner's plea. [17] and Villota v." [15] Loyola has been reiterated in Miranda v. the date of the payment of the filing fee is deemed the actual date of the filing of the notice of appeal. 07-4-15-SC. 2003 dismissing his appeal for failure to perfect it within the 5-day reglementary period (under Sec. Court of Appeals. the Court held: xxx The subsequent payment of the filing fee on 28 January 2003 did not relieve Zamoras of his mistake. 2003. 2008 of the Clerk of Court II of the MCTC.[14] we emphatically announced that we would bar "any claim of good faith. No. Castillo. In Loyola v. He filed a motion for reconsideration by registered mail on March 21. the COMELEC's Judicial Records Division directed him to remit the deficiency amount of P2.[16] Soller v. which took effect May 15. 7 (f). excusable negligence or mistake in any failure to pay the full amount of filing fees in election cases which may be filed after the promulgation of this decision. Nonetheless.

as we observed in Lazaro v. have oft been held as absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and to the orderly and speedy discharge of business. The subsequent full payment of the filing fee after the lapse of the reglementary period does not cure the jurisdictional defect. This is way beyond the 5-day reglementary period to file an appeal. [23] Moreover. 02-0130 lacks substance. Procedural rules are not to be belittled or dismissed simply because their non-observance may have resulted in prejudice to a party's substantive rights. Such procedural lapse by Zamoras warrants the outright dismissal of his appeal. the plea for a liberal application of technical rules of procedure to promote the ends of justice is undeserving of any sympathy from us. [21] xxx At any rate. as if no appeal was filed. Time and again. Having determined that the petitioner's appeal was properly dismissed. xxx The petitioner ought to be reminded that appeal is not a right but a mere statutory privilege that must be exercised strictly in accordance with the provisions set by law. The payment of the filing fee is a jurisdictional requirement and non-compliance is a valid basis for the dismissal of the case. but an essential requirement. [22] Such payment is not a mere technicality of law or procedure. The Court reiterates that rules of procedure especially those prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done. the COMELEC did not commit any grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. we have ruled that the payment of the full amount of docket fee within the period to appeal is a sine qua non requirement for the perfection of an appeal. they are required to be followed except only for the most persuasive of reasons when they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure prescribed. Like all rules. 2002. The resolution was not unknown to the MCTC and to his counsel. Court of Appeals: [24] xxx the bare invocation of "interest of substantial justice" is not a magic wand that will automatically compel this Court to suspend procedural rules. [20] xxx Zamoras in not only chargeable with the incomplete payment of the appeal fees but he also failed to remit the required filing fees for his motion for reconsideration. he had the duty to keep himself abreast of legal developments and prevailing or pertinent laws. This left the COMELEC with no choice except to declare the Orders final and executory. the petitioner's claim that the MCTC was not furnished a copy of Resolution No. as a lawyer. rules and legal principles. because it had already been issued on September 18. [25] Lastly. His counsel cannot feign ignorance of the resolution for.on 29 November 2002. . without which the decision or final order appealed from becomes final and executory.

through its own Rules of Procedure.M. Section 9(a) of the COMELEC Rules. as amended. . [28] Alas. the COMELEC may refuse to take action thereon until they are paid and may dismiss the action or the proceeding. 8486] is consistent with A. [31] and by the COMELEC. the appeal may be dismissed. 02-0130. the petitioner carries the burden of proving not merely reversible error. order or resolution in a capricious or despotic manner. as amended. And pursuant to Rule 40. 8486 on A. the COMELEC is merely given the discretion to dismiss the appeal or not. such as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. but grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. for the latter. as amended by Resolution No. the appeal fees are paid to the clerk of court of the COMELEC.200. For the first. before closing.000. 07-4-15-SC by observing: [Resolution No. the tribunal or administrative body must have issued the assailed decision. In such a situation. The non-payment or the insufficient payment of the additional appeal fee of P3. Section 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.In a special civil action for certiorari. does not affect the perfection of the appeal and does not result in outright or ipso facto dismissal of the appeal. 07-4-15-SC and the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. [26] Grave abuse of discretion is present "when there is a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction." [27] In other words. and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law. [29]effective on July 24. the COMELEC promulgated its Resolution No. 8486. while. COMELEC. that on July 15. if the fees are not paid. III We consider it timely to note. No. by the Supreme Court. 07-4-15-SC. 2008. after the second assailed resolution was issued on May 22. the petitioner did not discharge his burden.M. the appeal fees are paid to the clerk of court of the trial court. No.00 to the COMELEC Cash Division. Rule 22. or else his appeal risks dismissal.M. Section 18 of the same rules. No. 2008.[32] the Court has discerned the impact of Resolution No. in Aguilar v. Considering the decisive significance of the perfection of an appeal within the brief span of 5 days from notice of the decision of the trial court. through A.[30] ostensibly to clarify the requirement of two appeal fees being separately imposed by different jurisdictions. that is. The appeal to the COMELEC of the trial court's decision in election contests involving municipal and barangay officials is perfected upon the filing of the notice of appeal and the payment of the P1. Following.00 appeal fee to the court that rendered the decision within the five-day reglementary period. Verily. in accordance with Rule 40. 2008. on the part of the public respondent for his issuance of the impugned order. the party aggrieved by the trial court's decision should be instructed that he needs to pay both appeal fees within such period under the existing rules of the Supreme Court and the COMELEC.

Resolution No. 8486 merely clarified the rules on Comelec appeal fees which have been existing as early as 1993. 8486. similar to the present case. Jr. perfected months before the issuance of Comelec Resolution No. Aguilar has not. the Court has issued the following dictum for the guidance of the Bench and Bar: In Aguilar. Considering that a year has elapsed after the issuance on July 15. and to further affirm the discretion granted to the Comelec which it precisely articulated through the specific guidelines contained in said Resolution. SO ORDERED. To reiterate.[34] The foregoing dictum forecloses the petitioner's plea for judicial understanding. errors in the matter of non-payment or incomplete payment of the two appeal fees in election cases are no longer excusable. recently. The Comelec even went one step backward and extended the period of payment to 15 days from the filing of the notice of appeal. in Divinagracia. COMELEC. The Court stated that it was more in keeping with fairness and prudence to allow the appeal which was. WE dismiss the petition for certiorari for lack of merit. ACCORDINGLY. the amount of which was last fixed in 2002. for the guidance of the Bench and Bar. [33] Thus. v. 2008 of Comelec Resolution No. the Court recognized the Comelec's discretion to allow or dismiss a "perfected" appeal that lacks payment of the Comelec-prescribed appeal fee. . that for notices of appeal filed after the promulgation of this decision. 8486. however. the Court now declares. diluted the force of Comelec Resolution No. 8486 on the matter of compliance with the Comelec-required appeal fees.

17A/18A. 2009 ISMUNLATIP H. . HAYUDINI. Petitioner. Suhuri thus assails on certiorari the January 29. but the COMELEC en banc reversed the Second Division through the assailed resolution of January 29. 13A/14A. 19A/20A. THE HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (En Banc). Precincts 47A/48A. Datu Jun Tarsum. 1 He claims that the COMELEC en banc thereby gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. J. 11A/12A. 2007 within the Sulu State College in Jolo. Sulu during the May 14. He was opposed by Hayudini and a third candidate. Suhuri’s plea for the exclusion of 25 election returns from the canvass of votes cast for the 2007 mayoralty race in Patikul. namely: Precincts 09/10A. SUHURI. Respondents. Sulu. 15A/16A. 49A/50A. and 21A/22A of Barangay Anuling. THE MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF PATIKUL. DECISION BERSAMIN. vs. the Court again determines whether or not the exclusion of certain election returns from the canvass due to allegations of irregularities and statistical improbability made by a candidate are proper grounds for a pre- proclamation controversy by which to annul the proclamation of his rival as duly-elected. Sulu and then proclaimed respondent Kabir E. Second Division. 2007 national and local elections.2 During the canvassing held on May 17. had sustained Suhuri’s appeal and nullified Hayudini’s proclamation.: In this special civil action for certiorari.G.R. Suhuri orally objected to the inclusion of the election returns from the following 25 precincts. THE CASE The Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) of Patikul. ANTECEDENTS Suhuri ran for the position of Municipal Mayor of Patikul. 2008 resolution of the COMELEC en banc that reversed the resolution of the Second Division. SULU AND KABIR E. Suhuri insisted on the invalidity of the proclamation because of the existing pre-proclamation controversy involving the exclusion of the 25 election returns. 2008. Hayudini as the duly-elected Mayor. 181869 October 2. The COMELEC. Sulu had earlier ruled against petitioner Ismunlatip H. Appealing to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). No.

C. for a margin of 775 votes in favor of Hayudini.P.803 votes based on a complete canvass of the election returns. Suhuri likewise filed an election protest ad cautelam dated May 21. No. 93A/94A.13 On July 24. Bongkaung. Sulu to contest the results of the elections for Municipal Mayor of Patikul. the COMELEC. 07-118. and 109A/110A of Barangay Latih. Second Division. Sulu. However. (2) [t]ampered with or falsified. the COMELEC en banc denied the petition for insufficiency of evidence on October 9. 2007. Suhuri brought a so-called petition to declare a failure of election with urgent motion to suspend and/or annul the canvass of the election returns dated May 18. 2007. Suhuri filed a petition-appeal with the COMELEC. and Maligay. 91A/92A.and 51A/52A of Barangay Bongkuang. He filed his notice of appeal shortly thereafter. Latih. the COMELEC. 107A/108A. and Precincts 116A/117A. 103A/104A. 4 He asserted that the 25 election returns were "(1) [o]bviously manufactured. 07-118. 95A/96A. Sulu. Precincts 101A/102A.3 He later filed with the MBC written petitions regarding such exclusion on May 17. excluded the 25 questioned electoral returns from the canvass for the position of Mayor of Patikul. 7 In the same evening. gave due course to Suhuri’s petition-appeal. (3) [p]repared under duress.P. and voided the proclamation of Hayudini as the duly elected Mayor. he manifested his intent to appeal vis-à-vis the ruling. Precincts 87A/88A. In a further move. 2007. 2007. the RTC held the election protest in abeyance upon Suhuri’s own motion due to his pending pre- proclamation controversy in S. On May 25.686 votes. 2007 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Patikul. 2007 by rejecting his objections to the 25 election returns. Sulu.121avvph!1 On June 12. 105A/106A.C. 2007. 97A/98A. and 120A of Barangay Maligay. 8 On May 23. 10 On June 28." 5 The MBC ruled against Suhuri in the evening of May 19. 6Then and there. The petition-appeal was assigned to the Second Division. the MBC proclaimed Hayudini as the duly elected Mayor for having obtained 7.141avvphi1 . 89A/90A. all within Patikul.578 votes as against Suhuri’s 6. 18 and 19. ruling on Suhuri’s petition-appeal. and (4) [characterized by] [s]tatistical improbability. 9 docketed as S. Second Division. 2007. Langhub. The affected precincts carried a total of 4. 2007. 118A/119A. and 99A/100A of Barangay Langhub.11 referring to the results from the 25 precincts in Barangays Anuling. however. 2007.

In due course. the COMELEC en banc conducted a re-hearing on November 22. 18 On January 29. Borra. and the appeal was then deemed submitted for resolution. AND II. Commissioners Florentino A. Hayudini waived the cross-examination. Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure. 17 At the re-hearing. RULING OF THE COURT . 2007 pursuant to Section 6. Commissioner Romeo A. Hayudini moved for the reconsideration of the July 24. THE RESPONDENT HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (EN BANC) COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT HELD TO REVERSE AND SET ASIDE THE 24 JULY 2007 RESOLUTION OF THE HONORABLE COMMISSSION’S SECOND DIVISION BASED ON THE REPORT OF RESPONDENT MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS BELATEDLY FILED AFTER RESPONDENT HAYUDINI’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. the parties were required to submit their memoranda. ISSUES In his petition. 2008. Tuason. premises all considered the Commission (En Banc) resolved as it hereby resolves to GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration. Consequently. Suhuri insists that: I. the proclamation of Kabir Hayudini is hereby declared VALID. Brawner and Commissioner Rene V.19 disposing: WHEREFORE.15 Initially resolving Hayudini’s motion for reconsideration. 2007 ruling of the Second Division. For his part. while Acting Chairman Resurreccion Z. The Resolution of the Second Division is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. the COMELEC en banc promulgated its assailed resolution. THE RESPONDENT HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (EN BANC) COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT HELD THAT THE ISSUE PROFERRED BY PETITIONER DOES NOT INVOLVE A PRE-PROCLAMATION CONTROVERSY. Suhuri presented 20 witnesses. who affirmed and identified their respective affidavits. Jr. and Nicodemo Ferrer voted in favor of the resolution of the Second Division. Sarmiento dissented. FOR THE SECOND TIME. Thereafter.16 Due to the fact that the required majority vote necessary to reverse the resolution of the Second Division was not reached. HAS ALREADY BEEN SUBMITTED FOR DECISION.

the results of which materially affected the standing of the aggrieved candidate or candidates. Not every question bearing on or arising from the elections may constitute a ground for a pre-proclamation controversy. custody and appreciation of the election returns. 234. The enumeration is restrictive and exclusive. (b) The canvassed election returns are incomplete. or any matter raised under Sections 233. 235. 234. the . transmission.20 Resultantly. receipt. supra.We uphold the assailed resolution of the COMELEC en banc. threats. (c) The election returns were prepared under duress. or they are obviously manufactured or not authentic. Section 243. limits a pre-proclamation controversy to the questions enumerated therein. or contain discrepancies in the same returns or in other authentic copies thereof as mentioned in Sections 233. Section 243 of the Omnibus Election Code enumerates the scope of a pre-proclamation controversy. as follows: Sec. I Suhuri’s Grounds Were Not Proper for a Pre-Proclamation Controversy Were Suhuri’s grounds for nullifying Hayudini’s proclamation as the duly elected Mayor proper for a pre-proclamation controversy? A pre-proclamation controversy. 243. contain material defects. and (d) When substitute or fraudulent returns in controverted polling places were canvassed. refers to: xxx any question pertaining to or affecting the proceedings of the board of canvassers which may be raised by any candidate or by any registered political party or coalition of parties before the board or directly with the Commission. and 236 of this Code. Article XX of the Omnibus Election Code. 235 and 236 in relation to the preparation. appear to be tampered with or falsified. or intimidation. according to Section 1. coercion. Clearly. Issue that may be raised in pre-proclamation controversy – The following shall be proper issues that may be raised in a pre-proclamation controversy: (a) Illegal composition or proceedings of the board of canvassers.

or contain discrepancies in the votes credited to any candidate. ii. 21 To be noted.a statistically improbable result. the names of the members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) and the poll watchers appear to have been made by only one person. 23 Suhuri submits that the 25 challenged election returns were defective for being manufactured. For Precinct Nos. 17A/18A. For Precinct Nos. Omnibus Election Code). He lists the following irregularities to buttress his submission. there appears to be two poll watchers who affixed their signatures are the same and appear to have been made by the same and one person. is that in a pre-proclamation controversy. Omnibus Election Code). or appear to have been tampered with. 89A/90A. the Board of Canvassers cannot look beyond or behind the election returns in order to verify allegations of irregularities in the casting or counting of votes. the respective poll clerks in the two precincts did not affix their signatures in the election returns. tampered with or falsified. the printed names of the poll watchers of the petitioner are printed thereon without their signature. respondent Hayudini garnered a perfect 210 and petitioner got one (1) – a statistically improbable result. falsified or prepared under duress (Section 235. 93A/94A and 95A/96A (6 of the 25 contested election returns). 49A/50. iv. For Precinct Nos. For Precinct Nos. 21/A/22A. namely: 24 i.petition for a pre-proclamation controversy must fail in the absence of any clear showing or proof that the election returns canvassed are incomplete or contain material defects (Section 234. More importantly. 22 For as long as the election returns appear to be authentic and duly accomplished on their faces. too. the COMELEC is restricted to an examination of the election returns and is without jurisdiction to go beyond or behind the election returns and to investigate election irregularities. 11A/12A. the difference of which affects the result of the election (Section 236. 13A/14A. Omnibus Election Code). and for statistical improbability. iii. consistent with their . v. The election returns for Precinct Nos. 15A/16A. 9A/10A and 99A/100A have no signatures and thumbmarks of poll watchers. 91A/92A. vi. For Precinct Nos. petitioner got zero (0). of the 210 total registered voters.

the entries for the precinct no. and x. prevented him from entering the polling place where he was supposed to vote. attesting that the supporters of Hayudini and his party-mate. duly appointed poll watchers. The affidavit of Munning Mandun. Mohammad. Jumdail and Gabir S. For Precinct Nos. a duly appointed watcher. The joint-affidavit of Sherilyn Sawadjaan. 51A/52A. ix. Nurmina Usman. there is the lack of signature of the third member of the BEI. Affidavit that they were intimidated into leaving the polling place as early as when they had just presented their appointment papers to the members of the BEI. there is only one poll watcher who affixed his signature. Sanuddin. Nelson Jul. attesting that they were not allowed to vote after being identified as supporters of Suhuri. duress and intimidation attended the preparation of the questioned election returns. violence. 2. Rubin Ambutong and Wahab N. The affidavit of Benhar S. For Precinct Nos. gubernatorial candidate Abdulsakur Tan. 11A/12A. city/municipality and province are completely blank while names. Najir S. that when affiant Bennajar Jul confronted Juhul regarding his unlawful presence in the precinct. For Precinct Nos. and that the bona fide voters listed therein were prevented from casting their votes. attesting. attesting that the persons who cast their votes were not those appearing in the voter’s list. 4. attesting that they were not allowed to enter their assigned precincts by known supporters of Hayudini. Sidin and Muranda A. Saradil. and that they saw other voters being also prevented from voting. barangay. signatures and thumb marks of the BEI are complete. 89A/90A. vii. As proof. that they saw Maligay Barangay Chair Pula Juhul enter the precinct with an identified group of persons.26 to wit: 1. For Precinct Nos. The joint affidavit of Bennajar Jul. 5. Tilah and Injang A. Mubin G. Merhami S. Jumdail. Nur-Asiya J. viii. 93A/94A. . his petition-appeal has included the following affidavits.. among others. Bakil. Nurhia J. Bakil. Bakil.25 Suhuri further submits that threat. there is only one poll watcher who affixed his name and signature and with no thumb mark. The joint-affidavit of Angka J. Ajidin. 3.

Sehon Eli. The affidavit of Police Inspector Francisco K. a member of the BEI on duty in Precinct 17A/18A. Kagayan Sanuddin. city/municipality and province. 51A/52A lacked one of the necessary BEI signatures. Nuramin J. and 10. The affidavit of Ermalyn J. that another six election returns might indicate a statistical improbability of results. Jumdail. Hali Sannudin. Pathar Juli and Abduranil Sanuddin. attesting that he received several complaints to the effect that a number of registered voters in the precincts clustered within the Anuling Elementary School were not allowed to vote. and Abdulhan Bakil. Barrahani and Najar T. Anna A. Jihili. Sarkiya Usman. Usman. Villamor. Elias O. Juljamin Sannudin. 9. The joint affidavit of Munib A. 7. and that some voters were physically prevented from getting into their respective precincts. Tayte Sanuddin. Aldibar Sabiran. Amil Elias. barangay. and that only one election return had no entries in the spaces for the precinct number. The joint affidavit of Muharram Jul. and that they were told to go home by a member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) of the precinct because the voting had supposedly ended as early as 1:30 pm. that six of the contested election returns lacked some or all of the signatures and/or thumbmarks of the poll watchers. attesting to the illegal intervention of Maligay Chair Juhul in the casting of votes by threatening them with bodily harm. The joint-affidavit of Jarah A. duly assigned poll watchers. and that they saw the companions of Mindal accomplish the ballots in said precincts in place of the bona fide registered voters therein. Panisan. Jamasali. Chief of Police of Patikul. Sabiran. attesting that Hayudini’s younger brother Mindal threatened them not to go into their precincts to vote. Almezer H. 6. 27 . Barrahani. Weldizon Awwalon. resulting in their not being able to vote. Juhul boxed him. 8. attesting that they were not allowed to enter their assigned precincts by known supporters of Hayudini. attesting that BEI Chair Rolina Abubakar gave the unused ballots under duress to unidentified men who proceeded to fill them up and handed them to affiant Jamasali to drop in the ballot box. Suhuri’s submissions and supporting affidavits show that the election returns for Precinct Nos. Kahil T. Rashid. that the ballots that they had filled as registered voters were not dropped into the ballot box. In fine. causing his nose to bleed.

the defects cited by Suhuri were mere irregularities or formal defects that did not warrant the exclusion of the affected election returns. the summoned members of the Board of Election Tellers who failed to affix their signatures in the return appeared and gave the explanation in open session that they failed to affix their signature not because there was fraud. True enough. the MBC corrected the defects before the canvass of the election returns upon finding the cause of the defects to be satisfactorily explained by the members of the Board of Election Tellers. 29 In this regard. tired. Commission on Elections. both involving a violation of the rules governing the preparation and delivery of election returns for canvassing – did not necessarily affect the authenticity and genuineness of the subject election returns as to warrant their exclusion from the canvassing. Indeed. The MBC’s report bears this out. hungry and miserably exhausted in the waiting for the delivery of the election returns. they have been in the different polling centers spread throughout the municipality of Patikul early morning on election day for the preparation of the voting and the voting proper. Prior to this.30 and that only when the election returns were palpably irregular might they be rejected. the mere attendance or presence of the formal defects did not establish the commission of palpable irregularities in the election returns. the Court has said that the conclusion that election returns were obviously manufactured or false and should consequently be disregarded from the canvass must be approached with extreme caution and made only upon the most convincing proof. being but defects in form insufficient to support the conclusion that these had been tampered with or spurious.Unfortunately for the petitioner. but such omission was caused solely and unwittingly by the fact that they were heavily sleepy. The Board decided to defer the canvass on those returns and issued written directives to each of the concerned Board of Election Teller to appear before the Board of Canvassers for explanation for such omission.28 the grounds for the exclusion of election returns from the canvassing as raised by the petitioners’ therein –referring to. among others. Minutes of the canvass x x x will show that there were only very few election returns that were not signed by some members of the Board of Election Tellers. violence or other irregularities in the preparation thereof. to wit: 32 3.31 Secondly. As held in Baterina v. . the failure to close the entries with the signatures of the election inspectors. the cited irregularities and omissions could not be the bases for granting his petition for the exclusion of the 25 election returns in a pre- proclamation controversy. Firstly. and the lack of signatures of the petitioners’ watchers.

9A/10A and 99A/100A did not contain the signatures of poll watchers. The re-examination would also show that twenty three (23) of the returns were completely signed and thumbmarked by all the members of the Board of Election Inspectors. Thirdly. We can easily conclude that such trying circumstances often lead to unintended omissions in form similar to those Suhuri pointed out. In Precinct Nos. 89A/90A. and of the fact that the process of elections usually involvesd sleepless nights. and constant dangers to the lives and personal safeties of the many officials who work to see to it that the elections are orderly and peaceful and their results are obtained smoothly and with the least delay. often come under circumstances less than ideal and convenient for the officials administering the elections. Some testified that the counting of ballots and the preparation of election returns in their respective precinct was merely lighted by candles outside the school classrooms since the school classrooms were not enough to accommodate all the precincts for the purpose of counting and preparation of election returns. viz:34 We meticulously re-examined the questioned election returns and they all appear to be regular and authentic. 17A/18A. The actions of the MBC were reasonable and warranted. tiresome work. Only two (2) returns. the COMELEC en banc aptly stated.33 The COMELEC en banc expectedly approved of the MBC’s actions. 93A/94A and 95A/96A (wherein . official watchers and before the Board of Canvassers. the members of the Board of Election Tellers affixed their signature on the previously incomplete election returns. This means that the asseverations of the petitioner-appellant has no leg to lean on. 6. In the presence of lawyers from different political parties and candidates. After such completion and towards the end of the canvass. No showing of alterations and erasures could be seen on their faces.4. all the watchers signed the returns. Precinct Nos. the allegation of a statistical improbability reflected in the election returns for Precinct Nos. Judicial notice is properly taken of the fact that the conduct of elections in many parts of this country. Sulu. 5. 47A/48A and 91A/92A. In the assailed resolution. 11A/12A. but were signed and thumbmarked by the Chairmen and Third Members. 35 We agree with the COMELEC en banc. absent any other plausible explanation for the defects supported by substantial evidence. Even then. 91A/92A. not a single election return appeared to be materially defective x x x. particularly in areas like Patikul. this is not a formal defect which would constitute a proper ground for exclusion. Some were signed by at least two (2) watchers. This had unwittingly contributed to the faultless and innocent omission to affix the signature.

and House) that a large portion of the electors do not fill all the blanks for senators in their ballots. the party in power in these islands. whereas. the total number of votes cast for all the candidates would be that number multiplied by 8. in the ordinary course of things. in previous years.369 (more or less). all of whom were credited with exactly the same number of votes in each precinct.36 in which the Court upheld the power and duty of the COMELEC to reject the returns of about 50 precincts affecting the elections of Senators. whereas. in 1965. For it is not likely. and was. . that all the electors of one precinct would. as one man. Lagumbay expounded on the doctrine of statistical improbability and the doctrine’s effect on the power of the COMELEC to reject the results reflected in the election returns when such returns showed prima facie that they did not reflect the true and valid reports of regular voting. with branches in every province. Such extraordinary coincidence was quite impossible to believe. the party in power. Furthermore. without giving a single vote to one of the eight candidates of the Nacionalista Party. If every voter had written eight names on his ballot." thus: It appearing therein that — contrary to all statistical probabilities — in the first set. and in the second set. ranging from 240 in one precinct to 650 in another precinct. Commission on Elections.Suhuri obtained zero) and for Precinct Nos. all the candidates of the Nacionalista Party got exactly zero. Indeed. knowing that the Nacionalista Party had and has a nationwide organization. in each precinct the number of registered voters equalled the number of ballots and the number of votes reportedly cast and tallied for each and every candidate of the Liberal Party. 2 almost a million votes between the first place and the eight. this observation is confirmed by the big differences in the votes received by the eight winning senators in this as well as in previous national elections. with Suhuri being credited with one vote) lacks substance and merit. The doctrine of statistical improbability was first pronounced in Lagumbay v. We also know from our experience in examining ballots in the three Electoral Tribunals (Presidential. thus:37 We opined that the election result in said precincts as reported was utterly improbable and clearly incredible.833. Senate. because their results were "contrary to all statistical probabilities. 13A/14A (wherein Hayudini garnered 210 out of the 211 total registered voters. — again contrary to all statistical probabilities — all the reported votes were for candidates of the Liberal Party. all the candidates of the Nacionalista Party were given exactly zero in all said precincts. vote for all the eight candidates of the Liberal Party. the total number of electors who cast their votes was 6.

resulting . and the court rejected the returns as obviously "manufactured". 7. "fabricated" return. the Nacionalista inspector betrayed his party.019. Here. as the Mitchell decision concluded. Evidently. Hence.942 only. all the eight candidates of one party garnered all the votes. Hence. supra. But the total number of votes tallied for the candidates for senator amounted to 49.470 only.712. even as it gives exactly zero to the other. the returns were "not true returns . was a sham and a mockery of the national suffrage. This is not a case where some senatorial candidates obtain zero exactly. the returns showed a noticeable excess of votes over the number of registered voters. What happened to the vote of the Nacionalista inspector? There was one in every precinct. while some others receive a few scattered votes.696. but simply manufactured evidences of an attempt to defeat the popular will. A greater number of incomplete ballots. Or maybe because persons other than voters. or because those in charge of the tally sheet falsified their counts.952.812. In Mitchell vs. the election officers wrote the number of votes their fancy dictated.666. Of course. in which case.namely 54. but in breach of faith. each of them receiving exactly the same number. The main point to remember is that there is no blockvoting nowadays.152. . If he signed voluntarily. But the general idea and the statistical premise is there.374. were permitted to take part and vote. and yet the total number tallied for all the senatorial candidates was 45. whereas all the eight candidates of the other party got precisely nothing. Why? The excess could have been due to the fact that. would constitute a practical approach to the Commission's mission to insure free and honest elections. the number of incomplete ballots would be less. disregarding all pertinent data. Stevens. and so the return was literally a "manufactured". or because registered voters cast more than one ballot each. The difference between the two sums represents the number of ballots that did not contain eight names for senators. and. . or was made to sign a false return by force or other illegal means. It must be noted that this is not an instance wherein one return gives to one candidate all the votes in the precinct. The same statistical result is deducible from the 1963 election data: total number of electors who voted. denying prima facie recognition to such returns on the ground that they are manifestly fabricated or falsified. either he became a traitor to his party. In other words. if each of them named eight senators. some 5 million ballots did not carry eight names. any voting or counting of ballots therein. because some ballots may have omitted more names." All these possibilities and/or probabilities were plain fraudulent practices. the total votes tallied should have been 61. this is a rough estimate.

the bare fact that a candidate for public office received no votes in one or two precincts. The contrary may be shown by candidate Climaco — in the corresponding election protest. According to such return all the eight candidates of the Liberal Party got 648 each. there is no reason to accept it and give it prima facie value. At any rate. Let us take for example. he was made to sign an obviously false return. in which case. but where the fraud is so palpable from the return itself (res ipsa loquitur — the thing speaks for itself). and the eight Nacionalista candidates got exactly zero. Verily. most probably. the election therein — if any — was no more than a barefaced fraud and a brazen contempt of the popular polls. but it is not probable that he disliked all of such candidates. 3 of Andong. and it is not likely that he favored all the eight candidates of the Liberal Party. the vote of the Nacionalista inspector. That is the general rule.. or else he betrayed his party. Lanao del Sur. where testimonial or documentary evidence. All we hold now is that the returns show "prima facie" that they do not reflect true and valid reports of regular voting. These returns were obviously false or fabricated — prima facie. There were 648 registered voters.38 The doctrine has no application where there is neither uniformity of tallies nor systematic blanking of the candidates of one party. It is. "Manufactured" was the word used. a zero vote for a particular candidate in the election returns is but one strand in the web of circumstantial evidence that the electoral returns were prepared under duress. Of course we agree that frauds in the holding of the election should be handled — and finally settled — by the corresponding courts or electoral tribunals.e. "possible" that such inspector did not like his party's senatorial line-up. therefore. cannot adequately support a finding that the subject election returns are statistically improbable.in misrepresentation of the election outcome. We hold such return to be evidently fraudulent or false because of the inherent improbability of such a result — against statistical probabilities — specially because at least one vote should have been received by the Nacionalista candidates. fraud or no fraud. "Fabricated" or "false" could as well have been employed. is necessary. Under Lagumbay. the doctrine of statistical improbability is applied only where the unique uniformity of tally of all the votes cast in favor of all the candidates belonging to one party and the systematic blanking of all the candidates of all the opposing parties appear in the election return. i. Therefore.39 Thus. precinct No. of course. the verdict in these fifty precincts may ultimately be ascertained before the Senate Electoral Tribunal. 40 . standing alone and without more. The same ratio decidendi applies to the situation in the precincts herein mentioned. force and intimidation.

was unreliable and had no value for . if called for. However. 44 Fifthly. and intimidation during the preparation or making of the election returns. violence. The COMELEC en banc rightly noted and pointed this out in its assailed resolution. would not justify the exclusion of the returns from the precincts clustered in the Anuling Elementary School. coercion. Police Inspector Panisan’s election report. Chief of Police of Patikul. the exclusion of the election returns from that precinct (i. Even assuming that the fraud she thereby exposed constituted an irregularity in the conduct of the elections. Specifically. Sulu. with the utmost care being taken lest in penalizing fraudulent and corrupt practices – which is truly called for – innocent voters become disenfranchised. BEI member Jamasali narrated in her affidavit her having personally witnessed fraud committed during the elections. Suhuri contends that threat. did not warrant the exclusion of all the 25 election returns. but to the alleged irregularities in the voting which are proper grounds in an election protest. a member of the BEI of one of the precincts. being isolated. 45 considering that said precinct had only 189 registered voters. Concededly. 46 albeit official. would not alter the overall result for the mayoralty contest in Patikul. his petition and the records nowhere show that his party-mates received a similar number of votes (or lack of any) by which to conclude that there were a unique uniformity of tally and a systematic blanking of other candidates belonging to one party. Sulu. We note that Hayudini had a winning margin of 775 votes over Suhuri. a result that hardly commends itself. and the affidavit of Police Inspector Panisan. Lastly.43 Yet. Jamasali. because they referred to incidents that had occurred at the various precincts during the voting.42 the affidavit of one Ermalyn J. 41 Such prudential approach makes us dismiss Suhuri’s urging that some of the electoral results had been infected with the taint of statistical improbability as to warrant their exclusion from the canvass in a pre- proclamation controversy. Fourthly. but only of the return for the precinct where the fraud had occurred. Panisan’s report. to wit: x x x the various affidavits presented by the petitioner do not even relate to the fact of the election returns being manufactured or prepared under duress. being hearsay because he had not himself actually witnessed the incidents described in the report. the affidavits. threats. Precinct 17A/18A). did not substantiate Suhuri’s allegation of duress. the incident.e. duress and intimidation were attendant in the preparation of election returns of the 25 contested precincts.. He has presented the affidavits of voters and poll watchers from the 25 precincts whose election returns he questioned.The Court has thus warned that the doctrine of statistical improbability must be restrictively viewed.

and the pertinent jurisprudence. Before closing. has his proper remedy in a regular election contest. 51 WHEREFORE. 2007 in order to find against him. it did not abuse its discretion. If it did not accept his submissions. we stress that the powers of the COMELEC are essentially executive and administrative in nature. and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law. for the COMELEC cannot not look behind or beyond the 25 contested election returns in a pre- proclamation controversy. 07- 118 by the Commission on Elections en banc. It is clear that the COMELEC en banc took note of the matters and circumstances that Suhuri himself had submitted to its consideration when it rendered its assailed resolution. the tribunal or administrative body must have issued the assailed decision. reversing the resolution dated July 24. order or resolution in a capricious or despotic manner.purposes of Suhuri’s petition-appeal. to satisfactorily show that his grounds were proper for a pre-proclamation controversy. We cannot go to his succor. the COMELEC en banc did not rely mainly on the report submitted by the MBC on December 4. because it based its assailed resolution on the established facts.47 Grave abuse of discretion is present "when there is a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. the petitioner carries the burden of proving not merely reversible error. vote-buying and other irregularities in the elections should be ventilated in regular election protests. No.C. The COMELEC is not the proper forum for deciding such protests. the law. It would not be trite to emphasize that the results of an election should not be annulled based on hearsay evidence. but grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the public respondent for its issuance of the impugned order. a party seeking to raise issues. This is the reason why the question of whether or not there were terrorism.P. . such as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility.50 Accordingly. II COMELEC En Banc Did Not Gravely Abuse Its Discretion In a special civil action for certiorari. contrary to his urging." 48In other words. we affirm the resolution dated January 29. 2008 issued in S.49 Suhuri did not discharge his burden as petitioner. the resolution of which compels or necessitates the COMELEC’s piercing the veil of election returns that appear prima facie to be regular on their face. Moreover.

2007. On December 19. the Third Division modified its decision upon the motion for reconsideration of respondent Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank). Respondents. 2007. Petitioners. G.R. 164195 December 4. vs. The petitioner shall pay the costs of suit. J. SO ORDERED. INC. COURT OF APPEALS and LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. and confirm the proclamation of respondent Kabir E. deleting the award of interest and attorney’s fees. . THE HON. Province of Sulu in the local elections of May 14. (HPI). however. which rendered its decision on February 6. Hayudini as the duly elected Mayor of the Municipality of Patikul. 2009 APO FRUITS CORPORATION and HIJO PLANTATION. RESOLUTION BERSAMIN. Inc. No.: This case originated from the Third Division.2007 of its Second Division. 2007 in favor of petitioners Apo Fruits Corporation (AFC) and Hijo Plantation.

they filed separate complaints for determination of just compensation with the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB). When DARAB did not act on their complaints for determination of just compensation after more than three years.179. the petitioners filed complaints for determination of just compensation with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Tagum City. the RTC rendered its decision on September 25. acting as a special agrarian court (SAC). Antecedents On October 12. reasonable and just compensation of the 1. ONE BILLION THREE HUNDRED EIGHTY-THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-NINE THOUSAND PESOS (P1. 2000. 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. upon the advice of DAR. for HPI.86 (AFC) and P45.178. consistent with all the foregoing premises.00). that is. to open deposit accounts in the names of the petitioners.900. Philippine Currency.481.76 (HPI). which respectively filed their answers on July 26. The RTC conducted a pre-trial. AFC and HPI voluntarily offered to sell the lands subject of this case pursuant to Republic Act No. Land Bank fixed the just compensation at P165. 1995.6027 hectares of lands and its improvements owned by the plaintiffs: APO FRUITS CORPORATION and HIJO PLANTATION. or CARL). for AFC. 1997. and P164.925.549. prompting Land Bank. under the current value of the Philippine Peso. Both petitioners withdrew the amounts in cash from the accounts. however.47/hectare. P86. The valuation was rejected.33 per sq. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) referred their voluntary-offer-to-sell (VOS) applications to Land Bank for initial valuation. Ultimately.14. meter.. INC..484. but afterwards. Branch 2. judgment is hereby rendered by this Special Agrarian Court where it has determined judiciously and now hereby fixed the just compensation for the 1. on February 14.706.6027 hectares of land and standing crops owned by plaintiffs – APO FRUITS CORPORATION and HIJO PLANTATION.88.409. Summonses were served on May 23. 54-2000 and No. 55- 2000. qualified and disinterested as commissioners to determine the proper valuation of the properties. to be paid jointly and severally to the herein PLAINTIFFS by the . 2000 and August 18.000. 2001. INC. and appointed persons it considered competent. disposing thus: WHEREFORE. 2000 to Land Bank and DAR. as follows: First – Hereby ordering after having determined and fixed the fair.388.For consideration and resolution is the second motion for reconsideration (with respect to the denial of the award of legal interest and attorney's fees) filed by AFC and HPI.383.338. based at only P103.478. and to credit in said accounts the sums of P26. docketed as Agrarian Cases No.

thru its Land Valuation Office. thru its Land Valuation Office. Fifth . and Seventh .Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. to pay plaintiffs-APO FRUITS CORPORATION and HIJO PLANTATION. and computed at Two and One-Half (2 ½) percent of the determined and fixed amount as the fair. thru its Land Valuation Office. thru its Land Valuation Office. from the date of the taking in December 9. deducting the amount of the previous payment which plaintiffs received as/and from the initial valuation. until fully paid. and computed at ten (10%) Percent of the determined and fixed amount as the fair. to pay all the aforementioned amounts thru The Clerk of Court of this .Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. interests on the above-fixed amount of fair. thru its Land Valuation Office to deduct from the total amount fixed as fair. plus interest equivalent to the 91-Day Treasury Bills from date of taking until the full amount is fully paid. to pay jointly and severally the attorney’s fees to plaintiffs equivalent to. Second – Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. Sixth . reasonable and just compensation of plaintiffs’ land and standing crops plus interest equivalent to the interest of the 91-Day Treasury Bills from date of taking until full payment. 1996. reasonable and just compensation of plaintiffs’ properties the initial payment paid to the plaintiffs.. thru its Land Valuation Office. Third – Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. to pay jointly and severally the Commissioners’ fees herein taxed as part of the costs pursuant to Section 12. reasonable and just compensation of plaintiffs’ land and standing crops. equivalent to. reasonable and just compensation equivalent to the market interest rates aligned with 91-day Treasury Bills.Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. thru its Land Valuation Office.Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES.Defendants-Department of Agrarian Reform and its financial intermediary and co- defendant Land Bank of the Philippines. Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. INC. Fourth . to pay the costs of the suit.

and computed at Two and One-Half (2 ½) percent of the determined and fixed amount as the fair. reasonable and just compensation of plaintiffs’ land and standing crops and improvements. 2001. holding: WHEREFORE. Upon Land Bank’s motion for reconsideration.Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. After this decision becomes final and executory. . to pay jointly and severally the attorney’s fees to plaintiffs equivalent to.Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. As Modified: Fourth . thru its Land Valuation Office. Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. as modified: Second . INC. interest at the rate of Twelve (12%) Percent per annum on the above-fixed amount of fair. Court.. On the Fourth Paragraph of the Dispositive Portion which Now Reads As follows. the RTC modified the decision by promulgating its decision dated December 5. the rate of TWELVE (12%) PERCENT per annum shall be additionally imposed on the total obligation until payment thereof is satisfied. premises considered. As Modified: Third . from the plaintiffs. reasonable and just compensation of plaintiffs’ land and standing crops and improvements. deducting the amounts of the previous payments by Defendant-LBP received as initial valuation. in order that said Court Officer could collect for payment any docket fee deficiency. to wit: On the Second Paragraph of the Dispositive Portion which now reads as follows. On the Third Paragraph of the Dispositive Portion which Now Reads As Follows. to pay plaintiffs-APO FRUITS CORPORATION and HIJO PLANTATION. to pay jointly and severally the Commissioners’ fees herein taxed as part of the costs pursuant to Section 12. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the following modifications as they are hereby made on the dispositive portion of this Court’s consolidated decision be made and entered in the following manner. and computed at ten (10%) Percent of the determined and fixed amount as the fair. should there be any. thru its Land Valuation Office. thru its Land Valuation Office.Hereby ordering Defendants – DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and/or LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES. equivalent to. reasonable and just compensation computed from the time the complaint was filed until the finality of this decision.

1 which held that the correct mode of appeal from a decision of the RTC acting as SAC was by petition for review (Rule 43). 76222 IS ALREADY BARRED BY RES JUDICATA? IV. AFC and HPI appealed on certiorari. 2004. The CA granted the petition for certiorari on February 12. SP NO.1avvphi1 Land Bank was thus compelled to file in March 2003 a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals (CA) to assail the RTC’s order denying due course to its appeal and denying its motion for reconsideration. Land Bank appealed by notice of appeal. 76222? III. 2004. 74879 AND IS THEREFORE PRECLUDED FROM FILING CA-G. the consolidated decision stands and shall remain in full force and effect in all other respects thereof. however. Following the CA’s denial of their joint motion for reconsideration on June 21. to wit: I. WHETHER OR NOT THE RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE ARLENE DE LEON CASE. The RTC denied Land Bank’s motion for reconsideration. holding that such mode was not proper in view of the ruling in Land Bank of the Philippines v. SP NO. raising the following issues.R. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT LBP IS BOUND BY THE DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS IN CA-G.R. De Leon. The RTC denied due course to the appeal. GIVING ONLY PROSPECTIVE EFFECT TO ITS EARLIER RESOLUTION AS TO THE PROPER MODE OF APPEAL FROM DECISIONS OF SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURTS IS APPLICABLE IN THE INSTANT CASE? . and nullified the assailed orders of the RTC. WHETHER OR NOT THE FILING BY RESPONDENT LBP OF CA-G. SP NO.Except for the above-stated modifications. WHETHER OR NOT THE QUESTIONED DECISION AND RESOLUTION ARE IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT? II.R.

B.R. and that the RTC’s decision dated September 25. the instant Petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. the speedy administration of justice. 164876 THAT SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURTS ARE NOT AT LIBERTY TO DISREGARD THE FORMULA DEVISED TO IMPLEMENT SECTION 17 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. dated 12 February 2004. viz: A. are hereby AFFIRMED. . 76222. 54-2000 and No. this Court. and the peculiar circumstances of the case. NO. THE HONORABLE COURT RULED IN THE FAIRLY RECENT CASE OF LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES v. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT LBP WAS DEPRIVED OF DUE PROCESS AND/OR OF ITS RIGHT TO APPEAL? VI. RESPONDENT LBP SATISFIED OR COMPLIED WITH THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT ON PROMPT AND FULL PAYMENT OF JUST COMPENSATION. and Resolution. dated 25 September 2001. 54-2000 and No. giving due course to LBP’s appeal. SP NO. of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. RESOLVES. as modified by the Decision. in consideration of public interest. G. In its decision dated February 6. Land Bank sought reconsideration upon the following grounds. 6657 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM LAW OF 1988. WHETHER OR NOT THE SUBJECT PETITION (CA-G. 2001 rendered in Agrarian Cases No. 55-2000 be declared final and executory. the Decision. 76222) WAS MERELY INTERPOSED TO DELAY THE EXECUTION OF SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURT’S "DECISION" WHICH IS BASED ON EVIDENCE DULY PRESENTED AND PROVED? AFC and HPI prayed that the decision and resolution of the CA be reversed and set aside. in Agrarian Cases No. dated 5 December 2001. to give DUE COURSE to the present Petition and decide the same on its merits. While the Decision. premises considered. of the Regional Trial Court of Tagum City. dated 21 June 2004. 55-2000 is AFFIRMED. No costs. Thus. CELADA. nonetheless. 2007. Branch 2.R. SO ORDERED.R.V. SP No. the Third Division decreed as follows: WHEREFORE.

OF THE SUPREME COURT RULINGS IN BANAL AND CELADA BY THE QUESTIONED DECISION NECESSITATES A REFERRAL OF THE INSTANT CASE TO THE HONORABLE COURT SITTING EN BANC. the Motion for Reconsideration is partially granted as follows: (1) The award of 12% interest rate per annum in the total amount of just compensation is DELETED. . On December 19. 2007. premises considered. 2008. (4) The Motion for Referral of the case to the Supreme Court sitting En Banc and the request or setting of the Omnibus Motion for Oral Arguments are all DENIED for lack of merit. PETITIONERS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COMMISSIONERS’ FEES. THE IMMINENT MODIFICATION. but the Third Division denied their motions on December 19. 2007. D. the parties filed their respective motions for reconsideration. IF NOT THE REVERSAL. RESPONDENT LBP’S COUNSEL DID NOT UNNECESSARILY DELAY THE PROCEEDINGS. E. (3) The award of attorney’s fees is DELETED. the Third Division partially granted Land Bank’s motion for reconsideration. ruling thus: WHEREFORE. the entry of judgment was issued on May 16. Dissatisfied. C. (2) This case is ordered remanded to the RTC for further hearing on the amount of Commissioners’ Fees. F. our Decision dated 6 February 2007 is MAINTAINED. RESPONDENT LBP ENSURED THAT THE INTERESTS ALREADY EARNED ON THE BOND PORTION OF THE REVALUED AMOUNTS WERE ALIGNED WITH 91-DAY TRASURY BILL (T-BILL) RATES AND ON THE CASH PORTION THE NORMAL BANKING INTEREST RATES. In all other respects. Upon finality of the resolution. SO ORDERED.

5 The equity of a particular case must yield to the overmastering need of certainty and unalterability of judicial pronouncements.Notwithstanding the issuance of the entry of judgment. firstly. (2) second motion for reconsideration (with respect to the denial of the award of legal interest and attorney's fees). even at the risk of occasional errors. on the application of one party. Immutability of Judgment The main role of the courts of justice is to assist in the enforcement of the law and in the maintenance of peace and order by putting an end to judiciable controversies with finality. Ruling The second motion for reconsideration (with respect to the denial of the award of legal interest and attorney's fees) is denied. to make orderly the discharge of judicial business and (2) to put an end to judicial controversies. namely: (1) motion for leave to file and admit second motion for reconsideration. AFC and HPI still filed on May 28. and secondly. 2008 several motions. procedurally.4 The reason for the rule is that if. The rights and obligations of every litigant must not hang in suspense for . because. this resolution. It is never a small matter to maintain that litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere. Controversies cannot drag on indefinitely. it could thereafter. which is precisely why courts exist. The case was thereafter referred by the Third Division to the Court en banc.2 Nothing better serves this role than the long established doctrine of immutability of judgments. on application of the latter. and may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. to award interest and attorney’s fees despite the fact that Land Bank paid the just compensation without undue delay is legally and factually unwarranted. again change the judgment and continue this practice indefinitely. to grant it is to jettison the immutability of a final decision – a matter of public policy and public interest. at the risk of occasional errors. Hence. and (3) motion to refer the second motion for reconsideration to the Honorable Court en banc.6 The doctrine of immutability and inalterability of a final judgment has a two-fold purpose: (1) to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus. 3 A judgment that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable. as well as a time-honored principle of procedural law. the court could change its judgment to the prejudice of the other.

or corrupt purpose. 3019. simply because the matters involved herein are plainly different from those involved in the exceptional cases. In De Guzman v. In Tan Tiac Chiong v. therefore. and (4) whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision rendering its execution unjust and inequitable. in the absence of showing of any bad faith. necessarily sustained the recall of the entry of judgment made by Justice Cosico. in a criminal case appealed to the CA. Although the immutability doctrine admits several exceptions. The Court explained that the recall of entry of judgment might have been an error of judgment. Citing a transcendental reason. (3) void judgments. but a matter of public policy as well as a time-honored principle of procedural law. Sandiganbayan. as ponente. 8 none of the exceptions applies herein. that the accused was then about to lose his liberty simply because his former lawyers had pursued a "carelessly contrived procedural strategy of insisting on what has already become an imprudent remedy" that had forbade him from offering his evidence although all the while available for presentation. (2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries that cause no prejudice to any party. because the CA decision had been sent to the house of the counsel of the accused but had been returned with the notation "Moved Out. the Court used its pervasive and ." The CA was thus prompted to resend the decision to the counsel’s new address. The foregoing considerations show that granting the second motion for reconsideration (with respect to the denial of the award of legal interest and attorney's fees) absolutely risks the trivialization of the doctrine of immutability of a final and executory judgment. 10 the Court had previously denied with finality the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of its decision affirming his conviction by the Sandiganbayan of a violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. malice. Cosico. in dismissing the administrative complaint filed against CA Justice Rodrigo Cosico. for which no judge should be administratively charged.an indefinite period of time. The petitioner nonetheless took a novel recourse by filing a so-called omnibus motion for leave to vacate first motion for reconsideration in the light of the present developments and to consider evidence presented herein and to set aside conviction. A sampling of decided cases that illustrate what the Court has heretofore recognized as exceptional circumstances warranting the reopening of final and immutable judgments is proper to be made. like: (1) the correction of clerical errors. thereby allowing the accused to file a motion for reconsideration. and. It noted that Justice Cosico had recalled the entry of judgment to afford due process to the accused.7 The doctrine is not a mere technicality to be easily brushed aside.9 the Court. the motion should be rejected.

after it became final and immutable on May 16." In contrast. and to direct the Regional Trial Court to proceed with the hearing of the action for specific performance that had been erroneously dismissed on the ground of forum-shopping in view of a previously filed case for ejectment.11 the Court reinstated the petition despite the judgment having become final and executory due to the counsel’s filing in the CA of a motion for extension of time to file motion for reconsideration (which was not allowed under the internal rules of the CA). In Manotok IV v. to allow the evidence of the accused to be received and appreciated. 2007. for no special or compelling circumstance has been present to warrant the relaxation of the doctrine of immutability in favor of the petitioners. Barque. although bound by the mistakes or neglect of his counsel. should not be allowed to suffer serious injustice from such mistakes or neglect of counsel. Aside from observing that the petitioner. No Interest is Due Unless There is Delay In Payment of Just Compensation . but the stability of the Torrens system of registration by ensuring clarity of jurisprudence on the field. holding that: xxx To cling to the general rule in this case is only to condone rather than rectify a serious injustice to petitioner whose only fault was to repose his faith and entrust his innocence to his previous lawyers. Padilla. xxx In Barnes v. Even worse is that the petitioners’ private claim does not qualify either as a substantial or transcendental matter. the Court decided to rescind the assailed decision of the CA. That the Third Division might have erred in deleting the award of interest is neither a special nor a compelling reason to have the Court en banc favor the petitioners with a modification of the resolution dated December 19. 2008. because "the militating concern for the Court en banc in accepting these cases is not so much the particular fate of the parties.12 the Court set aside the entry of judgment to reopen the case on the merits.encompassing power to alter even that which it had already declared final. or as an issue of paramount public interest. Heirs of Homer L. which cannot even be classified as unprecedented. instead of a timely motion for reconsideration. considering that the ejectment action did not bar the action for specific performance. the matter involved herein concerns only the petitioners’ mere private claim for interest and attorney’s fees. and directed the remand of the case to the Sandiganbayan.

St. Thus. A basic limitation on the State’s power of eminent domain is the constitutional directive that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. the Court treated interest as part of just compensation when the payment to the owner was delayed. The defendant. Cooper (58 Penn. and it cannot be said that he has received just compensation for it if he is not allowed interest upon the value of the property during that time. was deprived of the use of his property from the 2d day of February. if property is taken for public use before compensation is deposited with the court having jurisdiction over the case. vs. broadly described to be the price fixed by the seller in open market in the usual and ordinary course of legal action and competition. declared: Our attention has not been called to any Act of the Commission relating to the matter of interest. 408).. 1908. . But that the owner is entitled to interest from the time when the company took possession of the property on the second day of February. the Court. from the time that it was taken. we think is clear. and section 246 above cited requires the court to make such final order and judgment as shall secure to the plaintiff the property essential to the exercise of his rights under the law. who has always been held to have a right to interest on the purchase- money where possession has been delivered to the vendee. until the 19th day of July.14 In Philippine Railway Company v. He lost the use of it for this time. or the fair value of the property as between one who receives and one who desires to sell. the court said at page 409: It can hardly be made a question that the plaintiff below was entitled to recover interest upon the value of his property taken by the company defendants and appropriated for the purposes of their road. 1907. for the sake of argument. relying heavily on American jurisprudence. 15 decided in 1909. The taking of property under CARL is an exercise by the State of the power of eminent domain. to be computed from the time the property is taken up to the time when compensation is actually paid or deposited with the court. until the decision of the court on the 16th day of June.Even assuming. He is in the position of a vendor of land. 1907. The statute requires just compensation to be made to the owner for his property taken. AFC and HPI are still not entitled to recover interest on the just compensation and attorney’s fees. and to the defendant just compensation for the land so taken. It is fixed at the time of the actual taking by the State. In the case of The Pennsylvania Railroad Co. that the Court allows the reopening of a final judgment. 1908. Solon.13 Just compensation refers to the sum equivalent to the market value of the property. the final compensation must include interests on its just value. the owner. There.

after and . when the report of the jury is brought in. if payment be delayed. it is necessary to allow interest from the date of the award to give to the owner just compensation. First Division of the St. and we think our law of eminent domain requires the payment of the compensation. ordering that petitioner enter upon such property. 1870. upon payment of full compensation. But it is said that when the company took possession on the 2d day of February. and if due and payable. therefore. and we think that. (21 Minn. seems to be a condition precedent to the taking of possession. 1592.. said corporation shall have the right to enter immediately upon the possession of the land involved. ought to draw interest from that time. we have no doubt of authority in the court to make it. 1907. in justice. the court said at page 645: The court allowed interest on the amount decreed Mrs. 626). the court said at page 427: If. provides that. the court or judge shall make such order as to right and justice shall pertain. which is as follows: When condemnation proceedings are brought by any railway corporation. The difference is the same as between as between a sale for cash in hand and sale on time. Philipps. the time when the commissioners took possession of the land. the possession of the land is taken. The South Park Commissioners (119 Ill. and this is relied upon as error. or the deposit of the same. 424). if paid at the date taken for the assessment. or a tender. The order made on that date was at the request of the company and in accordance with the provisions of section of Act No. as ascertained as aforesaid. might be just compensation. While the assessed value. it. generally. in substance. In the case of Philipps vs. before possession of the land shall be taken. Lands cannot be taken and appropriated to public use without just compensation is made to the owner. the compensation is due. from the 27th day of August. therefore. it certainly would not be. The payment of the compensation. This seems manifest from section 10 of the Eminent Domain Act. and as did happen in this case.In the case of Warren vs. it deposited with the Insular Treasurer the value of the land and therefore ought not to pay interest on that amount. for the purpose of the expropriation of land for the proper corporate use of such railway corporation. the allowance of interest upon the amount of the assessment shall be necessary to make the compensation just. in any court of competent jurisdiction in the Philippine Islands. or deposit of the same with the county treasurer. till several years after that time. which. Paul & Pacific Railroad Co. and the use of the same. as might happen in many cases. When.

And in case suit has already been commenced on any land and the money deposited with the Insular Treasurer at the date of the passage of this Act.16 In Land Bank of the Philippines v.upon the deposit by ascertained and fixed by the court having jurisdiction of the proceedings. however. which is six per cent per annum. said sum to be held by the Treasurer subject to the orders and final disposition of the court: Provided. and in the absence of stipulation. but it is very evident from the terms of the Act that this deposit was in no sense a payment nor an offer of payment by the company for the land. the indemnity for damages. We therefore hold that the defendant would not secure just compensation for the property taken unless he received interest on its value from the 2d day of February. which fact must be sufficiently established. Significantly. there being no stipulation to the contrary. the legal interest. That the court may authorize the deposit with the Insular Treasurer of a certificate of deposit of any depository of the Government of the Philippine Islands in lieu of cash. be withdrawn from the Treasury by the railway corporation which deposited the same. as above described may be deposited in lieu thereof. Civil Code. to place the railway corporation in possession of the land. and a certificate of deposit. The defendant had no right to withdraw this money on the 3d day of February. Wycoco was moored on Article 2209. 1907. And the court is empowered and directed. The defendant having claimed that his damages would amount to P19. 1908. the company deposited this sum. upon proper order of the court. If the obligation consists in the payment of money and the debtor incurs in delay. (1108) . the Court came to explicitly rule that interest is to be imposed on the just compensation only in case of delay in its payment. 1908. Solon soon became the basis for the award of interest in expropriation cases. 1907. Wycoco. 17 however. The certificate and the moneys represented thereby shall be subject to the orders and final disposition of the court. It simply guaranteed that the plaintiff would pay whatever sum might eventually be awarded to the defendant. which provides: Article 2209. shall be the payment of the interest agreed upon. nor did he acted upon the report of the commissioners and entered its judgment. which it did on the 16th day of June. until the payment of interest became an established part of every case in which the taking and payment were not contemporaneously made. such certificate to be payable to the Insular Treasurer on demand in the amount directed by the court to be deposited. upon the making of the deposit. by appropriate order and writ if necessary.398. until the 16th day of June.42. the said money may.

86. 1995. As earlier mentioned. with a right to appeal decisions in such cases that are unfavorable to it. .478. considering that assailing an erroneous order before a higher court is a remedy afforded by law to every losing party. Land Bank initially fixed the just compensation at P165.`The history of this case proves that Land Bank did not incur delay in the payment of the just compensation. This makes LBP an indispensable party in cases involving just compensation for lands taken under the Agrarian Reform Program.409. however. 2001. However. However. while HPI withdrew P45. after the petitioners voluntarily offered to sell their lands on October 12. P86.481.900. LBP cannot be penalized by making it pay for interest. and to credit in said accounts the amounts equivalent to their valuations. Although AFC withdrew the amount of P26. When DARAB did not act upon their complaints for more than three years. which was just circuitous as it had already determined the just compensation of the subject properties taken with the aid of LBP. The Third Division justified its deletion of the award of interest thuswise: AFC and HPI now blame LBP for allegedly incurring delay in the determination and payment of just compensation.76. and not to file two complaints for determination of just compensation with the DAR. that is. Having only exercised its right to appeal in this case. As stated in Land Bank of the Philippines v. AFC and HPI commenced their respective actions for determination of just compensation in the Tagum City RTC. for HPI.925. Kumassie Plantation:18 The mere fact that LBP appealed the decisions of the RTC and the Court of Appeals does not mean that it deliberately delayed the payment of just compensation to KPCI. and P164. Any intervening delay thereby entailed could not be attributed to Land Bank. both petitioners rejected Land Bank’s initial valuation. It is true that Land Bank sought to appeal the RTC’s decision to the CA. which rendered its decision on September 25. and that Land Bank filed in March 2003 its petition for certiorari in the CA only because the RTC did not give due course to its appeal.178. by filing a notice of appeal.706. for AFC.88.14. the same is without basis as AFC and HPI’s proper recourse after rejecting the initial valuations of respondent LBP was to bring the matter to the RTC acting as a SAC. x x x It may disagree with DAR and the landowner as to the amount of just compensation to be paid to the latter and may also disagree with them and bring the matter to court for judicial determination. DAR referred their VOS applications to Land Bank for initial valuation. who cannot thus be considered to act in bad faith or in an unreasonable manner as to make such party guilty of unjustified delay.549.484.47/hectare. prompting Land Bank to open deposit accounts in the petitioners’ names. they still filed with DARAB separate complaints for determination of just compensation.

Article 1250 of the Civil Code. at 12% per annum should help eliminate the issue of the constant fluctuation and inflation of the value of the currency over time. respectively. On the other hand. Thus: The constitutional limitation of "just compensation" is considered to be the sum equivalent to the market value of the property. Wycoco that interest on the just compensation is imposed only in case of delay in the payment thereof which must be sufficiently established. if property is taken for public use before compensation is deposited with the court having jurisdiction over the case. Wycoco. Thus. Given the foregoing. the value of the currency at the time of the establishment of the obligation shall be the basis for the payment when no agreement to the contrary is stipulated. between the taking of the property and the actual payment.6 and P262 million. and one who desires to sell. representing just compensation for the subject properties. National Housing Authority and Republic v. a contractual agreement is needed for the effects of extraordinary inflation to be taken into account to alter the value of the currency. Clearly. legal interests accrue in order to place the owner in a position as good as (but not better than) the position he was in before the taking occurred. in case of extraordinary inflation or deflation. the final compensation must include interests on its just value to be computed from the time the property is taken to the time when compensation is actually paid or deposited with the court. citing Reyes v. which will in effect make the obligation on the part of the government one of forbearance. interest in the form of damages cannot be applied. where there was prompt and valid payment of just compensation. In fine. It must be emphasized that "pertinent amounts were deposited in favor of AFC and HPI within fourteen months after the filing by the latter of the Complaint for determination of just compensation before the RTC". has strict application only to contractual obligations. providing that.In Land Bank of the Philippines v. this Court held that the interest of 12% per annum on the just compensation is due the landowner in case of delay in payment. there is no unreasonable delay in the payment of just compensation which should warrant the award of 12% interest per annum in AFC and HPI’s favor. we find that the imposition of interest on the award of just compensation is not justified and should therefore be deleted. It is likewise true that AFC and HPI already collected P149. In other words. broadly described to be the price fixed by the seller in open market in the usual and ordinary course of legal action and competition or the fair value of the property as between one who receives. it being fixed at the time of the actual taking by the government. xxx This allowance of interest on the amount found to be the value of the property as of the time of the taking computed. Court of Appeals. It is explicit from LBP v. . being an effective forbearance.

and reiterates the decision dated February 6. SO ORDERED. Lastly. 2007 and the resolution dated December 19. . This Court cannot allow such scenario to happen. To reopen their final judgments will definitely open the floodgates to petitions for the resurrection of litigations long ago settled. approving the second motion for reconsideration will surely produce more harm than good. 2007 of the Third Division. WHEREFORE. In addition to the costly sacrifice of the long-standing doctrine of immutability.The foregoing justification remains correct. the Court denies the petitioners’ second motion for reconsideration (with respect to the denial of the award of legal interest and attorney's fees). but who may believe themselves still entitled also to claim interest based on the supposed difference between the desired valuations of their properties and the amounts of just compensation already paid to them. There are many other landowners already paid their just compensation by virtue of final judgments. we will thereby be sending the wrong impression that a private claim had primacy over public interest. and is reiterated herein.