You are on page 1of 132

ARTICLE 2 EFFECTIVITY OF LAWS ART. 2.

Laws shall take effect after fifteen days


following the completion of their publication in the
a.) Tanada vs Tuvera Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. This
Code shall take effect one year after such publication.
Due process was invoked by the petitioners in
demanding the disclosure of a number of presidential After a careful study of this provision and of the
decrees which they claimed had not been published as arguments of the parties, both on the original petition
required by law. The government argued that while and on the instant motion, we have come to the
publication was necessary as a rule, it was not so conclusion and so hold, that the clause "unless it is
when it was "otherwise provided," as when the decrees otherwise provided" refers to the date of effectivity and
themselves declared that they were to become not to the requirement of publication itself, which
effective immediately upon their approval. In the cannot in any event be omitted. This clause does not
decision of this case on April 24, 1985, the Court mean that the legislature may make the law effective
affirmed the necessity for the publication of some of immediately upon approval, or on any other date,
these decrees, declaring in the dispositive portion as without its previous publication.
follows:
Publication is indispensable in every case, but the
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents legislature may in its discretion provide that the usual
to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished fifteen-day period shall be shortened or extended. An
presidential issuances which are of general application, example, as pointed out by the present Chief Justice in
and unless so published, they shall have no binding his separate concurrence in the original decision, 6 is
force and effect. the Civil Code which did not become effective after
fifteen days from its publication in the Official Gazette
The petitioners are now before us again, this time to but "one year after such publication." The general rule
move for reconsideration/clarification of that decision. 1 did not apply because it was "otherwise provided. "
Specifically, they ask the following questions:
It is not correct to say that under the disputed clause
1. What is meant by "law of public nature" or "general publication may be dispensed with altogether. The
applicability"? reason. is that such omission would offend due
process insofar as it would deny the public knowledge
2. Must a distinction be made between laws of general of the laws that are supposed to govern the legislature
applicability and laws which are not? could validly provide that a law e effective immediately
upon its approval notwithstanding the lack of
3. What is meant by "publication"? publication (or after an unreasonably short period after
publication), it is not unlikely that persons not aware of
4. Where is the publication to be made? it would be prejudiced as a result and they would be so
not because of a failure to comply with but simply
5. When is the publication to be made? because they did not know of its existence,
Significantly, this is not true only of penal laws as is
Resolving their own doubts, the petitioners suggest commonly supposed. One can think of many non-penal
that there should be no distinction between laws of measures, like a law on prescription, which must also
general applicability and those which are not; that be communicated to the persons they may affect
publication means complete publication; and that the before they can begin to operate.
publication must be made forthwith in the Official
Gazette. 2 We note at this point the conclusive presumption that
every person knows the law, which of course
In the Comment 3 required of the then Solicitor presupposes that the law has been published if the
General, he claimed first that the motion was a request presumption is to have any legal justification at all. It is
for an advisory opinion and should therefore be no less important to remember that Section 6 of the Bill
dismissed, and, on the merits, that the clause "unless it of Rights recognizes "the right of the people to
is otherwise provided" in Article 2 of the Civil Code information on matters of public concern," and this
meant that the publication required therein was not certainly applies to, among others, and indeed
always imperative; that publication, when necessary, especially, the legislative enactments of the
did not have to be made in the Official Gazette; and government.
that in any case the subject decision was concurred in
only by three justices and consequently not binding. The term "laws" should refer to all laws and not only to
This elicited a Reply 4 refuting these arguments. Came those of general application, for strictly speaking all
next the February Revolution and the Court required laws relate to the people in general albeit there are
the new Solicitor General to file a Rejoinder in view of some that do not apply to them directly. An example is
the supervening events, under Rule 3, Section 18, of a law granting citizenship to a particular individual, like
the Rules of Court. Responding, he submitted that a relative of President Marcos who was decreed
issuances intended only for the internal administration instant naturalization. It surely cannot be said that such
of a government agency or for particular persons did a law does not affect the public although it
not have to be 'Published; that publication when unquestionably does not apply directly to all the
necessary must be in full and in the Official Gazette; people. The subject of such law is a matter of public
and that, however, the decision under reconsideration interest which any member of the body politic may
was not binding because it was not supported by eight question in the political forums or, if he is a proper
members of this Court. 5 party, even in the courts of justice. In fact, a law
without any bearing on the public would be invalid as
The subject of contention is Article 2 of the Civil Code an intrusion of privacy or as class legislation or as an
providing as follows: ultra vires act of the legislature. To be valid, the law
must invariably affect the public interest even if it might
be directly applicable only to one individual, or some of consensus on this matter and to lay down a binding
the people only, and t to the public as a whole. decision supported by the necessary vote.

We hold therefore that all statutes, including those of There is much to be said of the view that the
local application and private laws, shall be published publication need not be made in the Official Gazette,
as a condition for their effectivity, which shall begin considering its erratic releases and limited readership.
fifteen days after publication unless a different Undoubtedly, newspapers of general circulation could
effectivity date is fixed by the legislature. better perform the function of communicating, the laws
to the people as such periodicals are more easily
Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and available, have a wider readership, and come out
executive orders promulgated by the President in the regularly. The trouble, though, is that this kind of
exercise of legislative powers whenever the same are publication is not the one required or authorized by
validly delegated by the legislature or, at present, existing law. As far as we know, no amendment has
directly conferred by the Constitution. administrative been made of Article 2 of the Civil Code. The Solicitor
rules and regulations must a also be published if their General has not pointed to such a law, and we have no
purpose is to enforce or implement existing law information that it exists. If it does, it obviously has not
pursuant also to a valid delegation. yet been published.

Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in At any rate, this Court is not called upon to rule upon
nature, that is, regulating only the personnel of the the wisdom of a law or to repeal or modify it if we find it
administrative agency and not the public, need not be impractical. That is not our function. That function
published. Neither is publication required of the so- belongs to the legislature. Our task is merely to
called letters of instructions issued by administrative interpret and apply the law as conceived and approved
superiors concerning the rules or guidelines to be by the political departments of the government in
followed by their subordinates in the performance of accordance with the prescribed procedure.
their duties. Consequently, we have no choice but to pronounce
that under Article 2 of the Civil Code, the publication of
Accordingly, even the charter of a city must be laws must be made in the Official Gazett and not
published notwithstanding that it applies to only a elsewhere, as a requirement for their effectivity after
portion of the national territory and directly affects only fifteen days from such publication or after a different
the inhabitants of that place. All presidential decrees period provided by the legislature.
must be published, including even, say, those naming
a public place after a favored individual or exempting We also hold that the publication must be made
him from certain prohibitions or requirements. The forthwith or at least as soon as possible, to give effect
circulars issued by the Monetary Board must be to the law pursuant to the said Article 2. There is that
published if they are meant not merely to interpret but possibility, of course, although not suggested by the
to "fill in the details" of the Central Bank Act which that parties that a law could be rendered unenforceable by
body is supposed to enforce. a mere refusal of the executive, for whatever reason, to
cause its publication as required. This is a matter,
However, no publication is required of the instructions however, that we do not need to examine at this time.
issued by, say, the Minister of Social Welfare on the
case studies to be made in petitions for adoption or the Finally, the claim of the former Solicitor General that
rules laid down by the head of a government agency the instant motion is a request for an advisory opinion
on the assignments or workload of his personnel or the is untenable, to say the least, and deserves no further
wearing of office uniforms. Parenthetically, municipal comment.
ordinances are not covered by this rule but by the
Local Government Code. The days of the secret laws and the unpublished
decrees are over. This is once again an open society,
We agree that publication must be in full or it is no with all the acts of the government subject to public
publication at all since its purpose is to inform the scrutiny and available always to public cognizance.
public of the contents of the laws. As correctly pointed This has to be so if our country is to remain
out by the petitioners, the mere mention of the number democratic, with sovereignty residing in the people and
of the presidential decree, the title of such decree, its all government authority emanating from them.
whereabouts (e.g., "with Secretary Tuvera"), the
supposed date of effectivity, and in a mere supplement Although they have delegated the power of legislation,
of the Official Gazette cannot satisfy the publication they retain the authority to review the work of their
requirement. This is not even substantial compliance. delegates and to ratify or reject it according to their
This was the manner, incidentally, in which the General lights, through their freedom of expression and their
Appropriations Act for FY 1975, a presidential decree right of suffrage. This they cannot do if the acts of the
undeniably of general applicability and interest, was legislature are concealed.
"published" by the Marcos administration. 7 The
evident purpose was to withhold rather than disclose Laws must come out in the open in the clear light of the
information on this vital law. sun instead of skulking in the shadows with their dark,
deep secrets. Mysterious pronouncements and
Coming now to the original decision, it is true that only rumored rules cannot be recognized as binding unless
four justices were categorically for publication in the their existence and contents are confirmed by a valid
Official Gazette 8 and that six others felt that publication intended to make full disclosure and give
publication could be made elsewhere as long as the proper notice to the people. The furtive law is like a
people were sufficiently informed. 9 One reserved his scabbarded saber that cannot feint parry or cut unless
vote 10 and another merely acknowledged the need for the naked blade is drawn.
due publication without indicating where it should be
made. 11 It is therefore necessary for the present WHEREFORE, it is hereby declared that all laws as
membership of this Court to arrive at a clear above defined shall immediately upon their approval,
or as soon thereafter as possible, be published in full in the Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a motion may
the Official Gazette, to become effective only after be filed only in cases pending with the Supreme Court
fifteen days from their publication, or on another date as the court of last resort, which may in its sound
specified by the legislature, in accordance with Article discretion either grant or deny the extension requested.
2 of the Civil Code. SO ORDERED. (at p. 212)

Lacsamana v. Second Special Cases Division of the


b.) De Roy vs Court of Appeals intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 73146-53,
August 26, 1986, 143 SCRA 643], reiterated the rule
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to declare and went further to restate and clarify the modes and
null and void two (2) resolutions of the Special First periods of appeal.
Division of the Court of Appeals in the case of Luis
Bernal, Sr., et al. v. Felisa Perdosa De Roy, et al., CA- Bacaya v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No.
G.R. CV No. 07286. The first resolution promulgated 74824, Sept. 15, 1986,144 SCRA 161],stressed the
on 30 September 1987 denied petitioners' motion for prospective application of said rule, and explained the
extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration operation of the grace period, to wit:
and directed entry of judgment since the decision in
said case had become final; and the second In other words, there is a one-month grace period from
Resolution dated 27 October 1987 denied petitioners' the promulgation on May 30, 1986 of the Court's
motion for reconsideration for having been filed out of Resolution in the clarificatory Habaluyas case, or up to
time. June 30, 1986, within which the rule barring extensions
of time to file motions for new trial or reconsideration is,
At the outset, this Court could have denied the petition as yet, not strictly enforceable.
outright for not being verified as required by Rule 65
section 1 of the Rules of Court. However, even if the Since petitioners herein filed their motion for extension
instant petition did not suffer from this defect, this on February 27, 1986, it is still within the grace period,
Court, on procedural and substantive grounds, would which expired on June 30, 1986, and may still be
still resolve to deny it. allowed.

The facts of the case are undisputed. The firewall of a This grace period was also applied in Mission v.
burned-out building owned by petitioners collapsed and Intermediate Appellate Court [G.R. No. 73669, October
destroyed the tailoring shop occupied by the family of 28, 1986, 145 SCRA 306].]
private respondents, resulting in injuries to private
respondents and the death of Marissa Bernal, a In the instant case, however, petitioners' motion for
daughter. Private respondents had been warned by extension of time was filed on September 9, 1987,
petitioners to vacate their shop in view of its proximity more than a year after the expiration of the grace
to the weakened wall but the former failed to do so. On period on June 30, 1986. Hence, it is no longer within
the basis of the foregoing facts, the Regional Trial the coverage of the grace period. Considering the
Court. First Judicial Region, Branch XXXVIII, presided length of time from the expiration of the grace period to
by the Hon. Antonio M. Belen, rendered judgment the promulgation of the decision of the Court of
finding petitioners guilty of gross negligence and Appeals on August 25, 1987, petitioners cannot seek
awarding damages to private respondents. On appeal, refuge in the ignorance of their counsel regarding said
the decision of the trial court was affirmed in toto by the rule for their failure to file a motion for reconsideration
Court of Appeals in a decision promulgated on August within the reglementary period.
17, 1987, a copy of which was received by petitioners
on August 25, 1987. On September 9, 1987, the last Petitioners contend that the rule enunciated in the
day of the fifteen-day period to file an appeal, Habaluyas case should not be made to apply to the
petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file a case at bar owing to the non-publication of the
motion for reconsideration, which was eventually Habaluyas decision in the Official Gazette as of the
denied by the appellate court in the Resolution of time the subject decision of the Court of Appeals was
September 30, 1987. Petitioners filed their motion for promulgated. Contrary to petitioners' view, there is no
reconsideration on September 24, 1987 but this was law requiring the publication of Supreme Court
denied in the Resolution of October 27, 1987. decisions in the Official Gazette before they can be
binding and as a condition to their becoming effective.
This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not It is the bounden duty of counsel as lawyer in active
commit a grave abuse of discretion when it denied law practice to keep abreast of decisions of the
petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a motion Supreme Court particularly where issues have been
for reconsideration, directed entry of judgment and clarified, consistently reiterated, and published in the
denied their motion for reconsideration. It correctly advance reports of Supreme Court decisions (G. R. s)
applied the rule laid down in Habaluyas Enterprises, and in such publications as the Supreme Court
Inc. v. Japzon, [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985,138 Reports Annotated (SCRA) and law journals.
SCRA 461, that the fifteen-day period for appealing or
for filing a motion for reconsideration cannot be This Court likewise finds that the Court of Appeals
extended. In its Resolution denying the motion for committed no grave abuse of discretion in affirming the
reconsideration, promulgated on July 30, 1986 (142 trial court's decision holding petitioner liable under
SCRA 208), this Court en banc restated and clarified Article 2190 of the Civil Code, which provides that "the
the rule, to wit: proprietor of a building or structure is responsible for
the damage resulting from its total or partial collapse, if
Beginning one month after the promulgation of this it should be due to the lack of necessary repairs.
Resolution, the rule shall be strictly enforced that no
motion for extension of time to file a motion for Nor was there error in rejecting petitioners argument
reconsideration may be filed with the Metropolitan or that private respondents had the "last clear chance" to
Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts, and avoid the accident if only they heeded the. warning to
vacate the tailoring shop and , therefore, petitioners intents and purposes, that he was single because his
prior negligence should be disregarded, since the first marriage was solemnized without a license.
doctrine of "last clear chance," which has been applied
to vehicular accidents, is inapplicable to this case. Under the Family Code, there must be a judicial
declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage before
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court a party thereto can enter into a second marriage.
Resolved to DENY the instant petition for lack of merit. Article 40 of said Code provides:

ARTICLE 4 PROSPECTIVITY OF LAWS The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be


invoked for the purposes of remarriage on the basis
a.) Atienza vs Brillantes solely of a final judgment declaring such previous
marriage void.
This is a complaint by Lupo A. Atienza for Gross
Immorality and Appearance of Impropriety against Respondent argues that the provision of Article 40 of
Judge Francisco Brillantes, Jr., Presiding Judge of the the Family Code does not apply to him considering that
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila. his first marriage took place in 1965 and was governed
by the Civil Code of the Philippines; while the second
Complainant alleges that he has two children with marriage took place in 1991 and governed by the
Yolanda De Castro, who are living together at No. 34 Family Code.
Galaxy Street, Bel-Air Subdivision, Makati, Metro
Manila. He stays in said house, which he purchased in Article 40 is applicable to remarriages entered into
1987, whenever he is in Manila. after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3,
1988 regardless of the date of the first marriage.
In December 1991, upon opening the door to his Besides, under Article 256 of the Family Code, said
bedroom, he saw respondent sleeping on his Article is given "retroactive effect insofar as it does not
(complainant's) bed. Upon inquiry, he was told by the prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
houseboy that respondent had been cohabiting with De accordance with the Civil Code or other laws." This is
Castro. Complainant did not bother to wake up particularly true with Article 40, which is a rule of
respondent and instead left the house after giving procedure. Respondent has not shown any vested
instructions to his houseboy to take care of his right that was impaired by the application of Article 40
children. to his case.

Thereafter, respondent prevented him from visiting his The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect
children and even alienated the affection of his children the litigants' rights may not preclude their retroactive
for him. application to pending actions. The retroactive
application of procedural laws is not violative of any
Complainant claims that respondent is married to one right of a person who may feel that he is adversely
Zenaida Ongkiko with whom he has five children, as affected (Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 26 SCRA 229
appearing in his 1986 and 1991 sworn statements of [1968]). The reason is that as a general rule no vested
assets and liabilities. Furthermore, he alleges that right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws
respondent caused his arrest on January 13, 1992, (Billones v. Court of Industrial Relations, 14 SCRA 674
after he had a heated argument with De Castro inside [1965]).
the latter's office.
Respondent is the last person allowed to invoke good
For his part, respondent alleges that complainant was faith. He made a mockery of the institution of marriage
not married to De Castro and that the filing of the and employed deceit to be able to cohabit with a
administrative action was related to complainant's woman, who beget him five children.
claim on the Bel-Air residence, which was disputed by
De Castro. Respondent passed the Bar examinations in 1962 and
was admitted to the practice of law in 1963. At the time
Respondent denies that he caused complainant's he went through the two marriage ceremonies with
arrest and claims that he was even a witness to the Ongkiko, he was already a lawyer. Yet, he never
withdrawal of the complaint for Grave Slander filed by secured any marriage license. Any law student would
De Castro against complainant. According to him, it know that a marriage license is necessary before one
was the sister of De Castro who called the police to can get married. Respondent was given an opportunity
arrest complainant. to correct the flaw in his first marriage when he and
Ongkiko were married for the second time. His failure
Respondent also denies having been married to to secure a marriage license on these two occasions
Ongkiko, although he admits having five children with betrays his sinister motives and bad faith.
her. He alleges that while he and Ongkiko went
through a marriage ceremony before a Nueva Ecija It is evident that respondent failed to meet the standard
town mayor on April 25, 1965, the same was not a of moral fitness for membership in the legal profession.
valid marriage for lack of a marriage license. Upon the
request of the parents of Ongkiko, respondent went While the deceit employed by respondent existed prior
through another marriage ceremony with her in Manila to his appointment as a Metropolitan Trial Judge, his
on June 5, 1965. Again, neither party applied for a immoral and illegal act of cohabiting with De Castro
marriage license. Ongkiko abandoned respondent 17 began and continued when he was already in the
years ago, leaving their children to his care and judiciary.
custody as a single parent.
The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct
Respondent claims that when he married De Castro in of a judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety, not
civil rites in Los Angeles, California on December 4, only with respect to his performance of his judicial
1991, he believed, in all good faith and for all legal duties but also as to his behavior as a private
individual. There is no duality of morality. A public containing an area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130)
figure is also judged by his private life. A judge, in SQ. METERS, more or less.
order to promote public confidence in the integrity and
impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety PARCEL No. 4
at all times, in the performance of his judicial duties A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. plan Psd-13-
and in his everyday life. These are judicial guideposts 007090, being a portion of Lot 28, Muntinlupa Estate,
too self-evident to be overlooked. No position exacts a L.R.C. Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of Alabang,
greater demand on moral righteousness and Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Bounded on the NE,
uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa Estate; on the
(Imbing v. Tiongzon, 229 SCRA 690 [1994]). East & SE, along lines 2 to 6 by Mangangata River;
and on the West., along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B of the
WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the subd. plan x x x containing an area of ONE THUSAND
service with forfeiture of all leave and retirement AND SEVENTY-SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS.
benefits and with prejudice to reappointment in any
branch, instrumentality, or agency of the government, PARCEL No. 5
including government-owned and controlled PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Manzana No. 18,
corporations. This decision is immediately executory. de la subd. de Solocan. Linda por el NW, con la
SO ORDERED. parcela 49; por el NE, con la parcela 36; por el SE, con
la parcela 51; y por el SW, con la calle Dos Castillas.
Partiendo de un punto marcado 1 en el plano, el cual
b.) Carlos vs Sandoval se halla a S. gds. 01'W, 72.50 mts. Desde el punto 1
de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la
ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman
marital bond for marriages solemnized during the las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo un
effectivity of the Family Code, except cases extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150)
commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The nullity and METROS CUADRADOS.
annulment of a marriage cannot be declared in a
judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or PARCEL No. 6
confession of judgment. PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, Manzana No. 18,
de la subd. De Solocon. Linda por el NW, con la
We pronounce these principles as We review on parcela 50; por el NE, con la parcela 37; por el SE, con
certiorari the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) la parcela 52; por el SW, con la Calle Dos Castillas.
which reversed and set aside the summary Partiendo de un punto Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual
judgment[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in an se halla at S. 43 gds. 01'E, 82.50 mts. Desde el punto
action for declaration of nullity of marriage, status of a 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la
child, recovery of property, reconveyance, sum of Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman
money, and damages. las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo
una extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA
The Facts (150) METROS CUADRADOS.[3]

The events that led to the institution of the instant suit During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed to
are unveiled as follows: transfer his estate to Teofilo. The agreement was
made in order to avoid the payment of inheritance
Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to deliver and turn
intestate. They left six parcels of land to their over the share of the other legal heir, petitioner Juan
compulsory heirs, Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos.
De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly described as
follows: Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land were
transferred and registered in the name of Teofilo.
Parcel No. 1 These three (3) lots are now covered by Transfer
Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824 issued by the
SUBDIVISION, Case No. 6137 of the Court of Land Registry of Deeds of Makati City; TCT No. 139061
Registration. Exemption from the provisions of Article issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; and
567 of the Civil Code is specifically reserved. Area: 1 TCT No. 139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of
hectare, 06 ares, 07 centares. Makati City.

Parcel No. 2 Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner.


A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B), being a portion of Lot The lot is now covered by TCT No. 160401 issued by
159, situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Municipality of the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.
Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal, x x x containing an area
of Thirteen Thousand Four Hundred Forty One On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He was
(13,441) square meters. survived by respondents Felicidad and their son,
Teofilo Carlos II (Teofilo II). Upon Teofilos death,
Parcel No. 3 Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the name of
A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. plan [LRC] respondent Felicidad and co-respondent, Teofilo II.
Psd-325903, approved as a non-subd. project), being a The said two (2) parcels of land are covered by TCT
portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd- Alabang, Mun. of Nos. 219877 and 210878, respectively, issued by the
Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Island of Luzon. Bounded Registry of Deeds of Manila.
on the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot 155, Muntinlupa Estate;
on the SE, point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5; on the S, points In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against respondents
5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on the W, points 1 to 2 by Lot before the RTC in Muntinlupa City, docketed as Civil
159-B-1 (Road widening) all of the subd. plan, Case No. 94-1964. In the said case, the parties
submitted and caused the approval of a partial
compromise agreement. Under the compromise, the to the motion was the affidavit of the justice of the
parties acknowledged their respective shares in the peace who solemnized the marriage. Respondents
proceeds from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of also submitted the Certificate of Live Birth of
land. This includes the remaining 6,691-square-meter respondent Teofilo II. In the certificate, the late Teofilo
portion of said land. Carlos and respondent Felicidad were designated as
parents.
On September 17, 1994, the parties executed a deed
of extrajudicial partition, dividing the remaining land of On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the motion for
the first parcel between them. summary judgment on the ground of irregularity of the
contract evidencing the marriage. In the same breath,
Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo v. petitioner lodged his own motion for summary
Carlos,[4] 2,331 square meters of the second parcel of judgment. Petitioner presented a certification from the
land were adjudicated in favor of plaintiffs Rillo. The Local Civil Registrar of Calumpit, Bulacan, certifying
remaining 10,000-square meter portion was later that there is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II.
divided between petitioner and respondents.
Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for
The division was incorporated in a supplemental summary judgment the testimony of respondent
compromise agreement executed on August 17, 1994, Felicidad in another case. Said testimony was made in
with respect to Civil Case No. 94-1964. The parties Civil Case No. 89-2384, entitled Carlos v. Gorospe,
submitted the supplemental compromise agreement, before the RTC Branch 255, Las Pias. In her
which was approved accordingly. testimony, respondent Felicidad narrated that co-
Petitioner and respondents entered into two more respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo.[5]
contracts in August 1994. Under the contracts, the
parties equally divided between them the third and Subsequently, the Office of the City Prosecutor of
fourth parcels of land. Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court its report and
manifestation, discounting the possibility of collusion
In August 1995, petitioner commenced an action, between the parties.
docketed as Civil Case No. 95-135, against RTC and CA Dispositions
respondents before the court a quo with the following
causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity of marriage; On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment,
(b) status of a child; (c) recovery of property; (d) disposing as follows:
reconveyance; and (e) sum of money and damages.
The complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendants
Muntinlupa. (respondents) Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby
denied. Plaintiffs (petitioners) Counter-Motion for
In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the marriage Summary Judgment is hereby granted and summary
between his late brother Teofilo and respondent judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff as
Felicidad was a nullity in view of the absence of the follows:
required marriage license. He likewise maintained that
his deceased brother was neither the natural nor the
adoptive father of respondent Teofilo Carlos II. 1. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad
Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos solemnized at Silang,
Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the Cavite on May 14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage
contracts he entered into with respondent Felicidad Certificate submitted in this case, null and void ab initio
with respect to the subject real properties. He also for lack of the requisite marriage license;
prayed for the cancellation of the certificates of title
issued in the name of respondents. He argued that the 2. Declaring that the defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos
properties covered by such certificates of title, II, is not the natural, illegitimate, or legally adopted
including the sums received by respondents as child of the late Teofilo E. Carlos;
proceeds, should be reconveyed to him. 3. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to
plaintiff the sum of P18,924,800.00 together with the
Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as and by interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of
way of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, the instant complaint until fully paid;
litigation expenses, and costs of suit.
4. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of
On October 16, 1995, respondents submitted their the parcel of land, less the portion adjudicated to
answer. They denied the material averments of plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11975, covered by TCT No.
petitioners complaint. Respondents contended that the 139061 of the Register of Deeds of Makati City, and
dearth of details regarding the requisite marriage ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said title and
license did not invalidate Felicidads marriage to to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein;
Teofilo. Respondents declared that Teofilo II was the
illegitimate child of the deceased Teofilo Carlos with 5. Declaring the Contract, Annex K of complaint,
another woman. between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and
void, and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City
On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of to cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name of Teofilo
jurisdiction over the subject matter, respondents Carlos, and to issue another title in the sole name of
prayed for the dismissal of the case before the trial plaintiff herein;
court. They also asked that their counterclaims for
moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorneys 6. Declaring the Contract, Annex M of the complaint,
fees, be granted. between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and
void;
But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial,
respondents moved for summary judgment. Attached
7. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210877 in the marriage should always be proved. Section 1, Rule 19
names of defendant Sandoval and defendant minor of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds
of Manila to issue another title in the exclusive name of Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an
plaintiff herein; answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the
material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the
8. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210878 in the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on
name of defendant Sandoval and defendant Minor such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage
Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the
of Manila to issue another title in the sole name of complaint shall always be proved. (Underscoring
plaintiff herein. supplied)

Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of Moreover, even if We were to sustain the applicability
plaintiffs evidence on his claim for moral damages, of the rules on summary judgment to the case at
exemplary damages, attorneys fees, appearance fees, bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding
and litigation expenses on June 7, 1996 at 1:30 o'clock of the court a quo for appellee would still not be
in the afternoon. warranted. While it may be readily conceded that a
valid marriage license is among the formal requisites of
SO ORDERED.[6] marriage, the absence of which renders the marriage
void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation to
Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the CA. In the Article 58 of the Civil Code the failure to reflect the
appeal, respondents argued, inter alia, that the trial serial number of the marriage license on the marriage
court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in contract evidencing the marriage between Teofilo
rendering summary judgment annulling the marriage of Carlos and appellant Felicidad Sandoval, although
Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad and in declaring Teofilo II as irregular, is not as fatal as appellee represents it to be.
not an illegitimate child of Teofilo, Sr. Aside from the dearth of evidence to the contrary,
appellant Felicidad Sandovals affirmation of the
On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and set aside existence of said marriage license is corroborated by
the RTC ruling, disposing as follows: the following statement in the affidavit executed by
Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of the Peace who
WHEREFORE, the summary judgment appealed from officiated the impugned marriage, to wit:
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and in lieu thereof, a
new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court That as far as I could remember, there was a marriage
of origin for further proceedings. SO ORDERED.[7] license issued at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962 as
basis of the said marriage contract executed by Teofilo
The CA opined: Carlos and Felicidad Sandoval, but the number of said
marriage license was inadvertently not placed in the
We find the rendition of the herein appealed summary marriage contract for the reason that it was the Office
judgment by the court a quo contrary to law and public Clerk who filled up the blanks in the Marriage Contract
policy as ensconced in the aforesaid safeguards. The who in turn, may have overlooked the same.
fact that it was appellants who first sought summary
judgment from the trial court, did not justify the grant Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial
thereof in favor of appellee. Not being an action to court, We are of the considered view that the veracity
recover upon a claim or to obtain a declaratory relief, and credibility of the foregoing statement as well as the
the rule on summary judgment apply (sic) to an action motivations underlying the same should be properly
to annul a marriage. The mere fact that no genuine threshed out in a trial of the case on the merits.
issue was presented and the desire to expedite the
disposition of the case cannot justify a If the non-presentation of the marriage contract the
misinterpretation of the rule. The first paragraph of primary evidence of marriage is not proof that a
Article 88 and 101 of the Civil Code expressly prohibit marriage did not take place, neither should appellants
the rendition of decree of annulment of a marriage non-presentation of the subject marriage license be
upon a stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment. taken as proof that the same was not procured. The
Yet, the affidavits annexed to the petition for summary burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage, it
judgment practically amount to these methods explicitly must be emphasized, rests upon the plaintiff and any
proscribed by the law. doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the
marriage.
We are not unmindful of appellees argument that the
foregoing safeguards have traditionally been applied to Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the
prevent collusion of spouses in the matter of party who disputes the legitimacy of a particular party,
dissolution of marriages and that the death of Teofilo the same may be said of the trial courts rejection of the
Carlos on May 13, 1992 had effectively dissolved the relationship between appellant Teofilo Carlos II and his
marriage herein impugned. The fact, however, that putative father on the basis of the inconsistencies in
appellees own brother and appellant Felicidad appellant Felicidad Sandovals statements. Although it
Sandoval lived together as husband and wife for thirty had effectively disavowed appellants prior claims
years and that the annulment of their marriage is the regarding the legitimacy of appellant Teofilo Carlos II,
very means by which the latter is sought to be deprived the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate
of her participation in the estate left by the former call son of appellees brother, to Our mind, did not
for a closer and more thorough inquiry into the altogether foreclose the possibility of the said
circumstances surrounding the case. Rather that the appellants illegitimate filiation, his right to prove the
summary nature by which the court a quo resolved the same or, for that matter, his entitlement to inheritance
issues in the case, the rule is to the effect that the rights as such.
material facts alleged in the complaint for annulment of
Without trial on the merits having been conducted in
the case, We find appellees bare allegation that I. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of
appellant Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from marriage must be proved. Neither judgment on the
an indigent couple by appellant Felicidad Sandoval, on pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is
the whole, insufficient to support what could well be a confession of judgment disallowed.
minors total forfeiture of the rights arising from his
putative filiation. Inconsistent though it may be to her Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, Rule
previous statements, appellant Felicidad Sandovals 19[10] of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides:
declaration regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo
Carlos II is more credible when considered in the light SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an
of the fact that, during the last eight years of his life, answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the
Teofilo Carlos allowed said appellant the use of his material allegations of the adverse partys pleading, the
name and the shelter of his household. The least that court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on
the trial court could have done in the premises was to such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage
conduct a trial on the merits in order to be able to or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the
thoroughly resolve the issues pertaining to the filiation complaint shall always be proved.
of appellant Teofilo Carlos II.[8]
He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of
On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for the Rules of Court governing summary judgment,
reconsideration and for the inhibition of the ponente, instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings.
Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador. The CA denied the
twin motions. Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its finding
solely within the provisions of the Rule on judgment on
Issues the pleadings. In disagreeing with the trial court, the
CA likewise considered the provisions on summary
In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner hoists the judgments, to wit:
following issues:
Moreover, even if We are to sustain the applicability of
1. That, in reversing and setting aside the Summary the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench,
Judgment under the Decision, Annex A hereof, and in Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the
denying petitioners Motion for reconsideration under court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. x
the Resolution, Annex F hereof, with respect to the x x[11]
nullity of the impugned marriage, petitioner respectfully
submits that the Court of Appeals committed a grave But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings
reversible error in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the or summary judgment, the CA was correct in reversing
Civil Code, despite the fact that the circumstances of the summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both
this case are different from that contemplated and the rules on judgment on the pleadings and summary
intended by law, or has otherwise decided a question judgments have no place in cases of declaration of
of substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme absolute nullity of marriage and even in annulment of
Court, or has decided it in a manner probably not in marriage.
accord with law or with the applicable decisions of this
Honorable Court; With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known as
Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
2. That in setting aside and reversing the Summary Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the
Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another question on the application of summary judgments or
remanding the case to the court of origin for further even judgment on the pleadings in cases of nullity or
proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that annulment of marriage has been stamped with clarity.
the Court of Appeals committed a serious reversible The significant principle laid down by the said Rule,
error in applying Section 1, Rule 19 (now Section 1, which took effect on March 15, 2003[12] is found in
Rule 34) of the Rules of Court providing for judgment Section 17, viz.:
on the pleadings, instead of Rule 35 governing
Summary Judgments; SEC. 17. Trial. (1) The presiding judge shall personally
conduct the trial of the case. No delegation of evidence
3. That in reversing and setting aside the Summary to a commissioner shall be allowed except as to
Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another matters involving property relations of the spouses.
remanding the case to the court of origin for further
proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that (2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or
the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of annulment of marriage must be proved. No judgment
discretion, disregarded judicial admissions, made on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of
findings on ground of speculations, surmises, and judgment shall be allowed. (Underscoring supplied)
conjectures, or otherwise committed misapplications of
the laws and misapprehension of the facts.[9] Likewise instructive is the Courts pronouncement in
(Underscoring supplied) Republic v. Sandiganbayan.[13] In that case, We
excluded actions for nullity or annulment of marriage
Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a from the application of summary judgments.
marriage may be declared void ab initio through a
judgment on the pleadings or a summary judgment and
without the benefit of a trial. But there are other Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, save for
procedural issues, including the capacity of one who is annulment of marriage or declaration of its nullity or for
not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of legal separation, summary judgment is applicable to all
marriage. kinds of actions.[14] (Underscoring supplied)

Our Ruling
By issuing said summary judgment, the trial court has settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in
divested the State of its lawful right and duty to the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of
intervene in the case. The participation of the State is the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its
not terminated by the declaration of the public dissolution.[17] (Underscoring supplied)
prosecutor that no collusion exists between the parties.
The State should have been given the opportunity to The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the
present controverting evidence before the judgment wife are the sole architects of a healthy, loving,
was rendered.[15] peaceful marriage. They are the only ones who can
decide when and how to build the foundations of
Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that marriage. The spouses alone are the engineers of their
the court should order the prosecuting attorney to marital life. They are simultaneously the directors and
appear and intervene for the State. It is at this stage actors of their matrimonial true-to-life play. Hence, they
when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is no alone can and should decide when to take a cut, but
suppression of evidence. Concomitantly, even if there only in accordance with the grounds allowed by law.
is no suppression of evidence, the public prosecutor
has to make sure that the evidence to be presented or The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
laid down before the court is not fabricated. sets forth a demarcation line between marriages
covered by the Family Code and those solemnized
To further bolster its role towards the preservation of under the Civil Code. The Rule extends only to
marriage, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of marriages entered into during the effectivity of the
Void Marriages reiterates the duty of the public Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.[18]
prosecutor, viz.:
The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute
SEC. 13. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. (a) x Nullity of Void Marriages marks the beginning of the
xx end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to
bring a nullity of marriage case against the surviving
(b) x x x If there is no collusion, the court shall require spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the
the public prosecutor to intervene for the State during compulsory or intestate heirs of their successional
the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or rights.
fabrication of evidence. (Underscoring supplied)
Truly, only the active participation of the public While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for
prosecutor or the Solicitor General will ensure that the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be filed
interest of the State is represented and protected in solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that
proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriages by the compulsory or intestate heirs are without any
preventing the fabrication or suppression of recourse under the law. They can still protect their
evidence.[16] successional right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the
Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and
II. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages,
marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife. compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the
Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a
before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and (2) proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death
Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the
Code. estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular
courts.[19]
Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of
Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not
the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of apply to cases already commenced before March 15,
marriage may not be filed by any party outside of the 2003 although the marriage involved is within the
marriage. The Rule made it exclusively a right of the coverage of the Family Code. This is so, as the new
spouses by stating: Rule which became effective on March 15, 2003[20] is
prospective in its application. Thus, the Court held in
SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli,[21] viz.:
void marriages.
As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute covers marriages under the Family Code of the
nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the Philippines, and is prospective in its application.[22]
husband or the wife. (Underscoring supplied) (Underscoring supplied)

Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole right of the Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case
husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration of against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in
absolute nullity of void marriage. The rationale of the controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which
Rule is enlightening, viz.: law would govern depends upon when the marriage
took place.[23]
Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition
for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of The marriage having been solemnized prior to the
absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law is the
be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its
or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they celebration.[24] But the Civil Code is silent as to who
do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does
or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the this mean that any person can bring an action for the
death of their predecessor, and, hence, can only declaration of nullity of marriage?
question the validity of the marriage of the spouses
upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the
We respond in the negative. The absence of a death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs are
provision in the Civil Code cannot be construed as a called to succeed by operation of law.[30]
license for any person to institute a nullity of marriage
case. Such person must appear to be the party who Upon Teofilos death in 1992, all his property, rights
stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the and obligations to the extent of the value of the
suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.[25] inheritance are transmitted to his compulsory heirs.
Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the real party-in- These heirs were respondents Felicidad and Teofilo II,
interest. For it is basic in procedural law that every as the surviving spouse and child, respectively.
action must be prosecuted and defended in the name
of the real party-in-interest.[26] Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are
compulsory heirs, to wit:
Interest within the meaning of the rule means material
interest or an interest in issue to be affected by the (1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect
decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from to their legitimate parents and ascendants;
mere curiosity about the question involved or a mere
incidental interest. One having no material interest to (2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and
protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children
plaintiff in an action. When plaintiff is not the real party- and descendants;
in-interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of
lack of cause of action.[27] (3) The widow or widower;

Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Court of (4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children
Appeals,[28] where the Court held: by legal fiction;

True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in (5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287
force at the time the respondents were married, or of the Civil Code.[31]
even in the Family Code, there is no specific provision
as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as
marriage; however, only a party who can demonstrate compulsory heirs. But although a collateral relative,
proper interest can file the same. A petition to declare such as a brother, does not fall within the ambit of a
the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be compulsory heir, he still has a right to succeed to the
prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party- estate. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the New Civil Code
in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. provide:
Thus, in Nial v. Badayog, the Court held that the
children have the personality to file the petition to ART. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their
declare the nullity of marriage of their deceased father children survive with the widow or widower, the latter
to their stepmother as it affects their successional shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the
rights. brothers and sisters or their children to the other half.

xxxx ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants,


illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the
In fine, petitioners personality to file the petition to collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of
declare the nullity of marriage cannot be ascertained the deceased in accordance with the following articles.
because of the absence of the divorce decree and the (Underscoring supplied)
foreign law allowing it. Hence, a remand of the case to
the trial court for reception of additional evidence is Indeed, only the presence of descendants, ascendants
necessary to determine whether respondent Orlando or illegitimate children excludes collateral relatives from
was granted a divorce decree and whether the foreign succeeding to the estate of the decedent. The
law which granted the same allows or restricts presence of legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted child or
remarriage. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree children of the deceased precludes succession by
was obtained and the same did not allow respondent collateral relatives.[32] Conversely, if there are no
Orlandos remarriage, then the trial court should descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a
declare respondents marriage as bigamous and void surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed
ab initio but reduced the amount of moral damages to the entire estate of the decedent.[33]
from P300,000.00 to P50,000.00 and exemplary
damages from P200,000.00 to P25,000.00. On the If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven
contrary, if it is proved that a valid divorce decree was not to be the legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of
obtained which allowed Orlando to remarry, then the Teofilo, petitioner would then have a personality to
trial court must dismiss the instant petition to declare seek the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother
nullity of marriage on the ground that petitioner with respondent Felicidad. This is so, considering that
Felicitas Amor-Catalan lacks legal personality to file collateral relatives, like a brother and sister, acquire
the same.[29] (Underscoring supplied) successional right over the estate if the decedent dies
without issue and without ascendants in the direct line.
III. The case must be remanded to determine whether
or not petitioner is a real-party-in-interest to seek the The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by
declaration of nullity of the marriage in controversy. his parents. He had no other siblings but petitioner.
Thus, if Teofilo II is finally found and proven to be not a
In the case at bench, the records reveal that when legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo,
Teofilo died intestate in 1992, his only surviving petitioner succeeds to the other half of the estate of his
compulsory heirs are respondent Felicidad and their brother, the first half being allotted to the widow
son, Teofilo II. Under the law on succession, pursuant to Article 1001 of the New Civil Code. This
successional rights are transmitted from the moment of makes petitioner a real-party-interest to seek the
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of his
deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. If the affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived within
subject marriage is found to be void ab initio, petitioner a valid marriage.[37]
succeeds to the entire estate.
Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of
It bears stressing, however, that the legal personality of petitioner for causes of action concerning
petitioner to bring the nullity of marriage case is reconveyance, recovery of property, and sum of money
contingent upon the final declaration that Teofilo II is must be vacated. This has to be so, as said disposition
not a legitimate, adopted, or illegitimate son of Teofilo. was made on the basis of its finding that the marriage
in controversy was null and void ab initio.
If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, illegitimate, or WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as
legally adopted son of Teofilo, then petitioner has no follows:
legal personality to ask for the nullity of marriage of his
deceased brother and respondent Felicidad. This is 1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court
based on the ground that he has no successional right in regard to the action on the status and filiation of
to be protected, hence, does not have proper interest. respondent Teofilo Carlos II and the validity or nullity of
For although the marriage in controversy may be found marriage between respondent Felicidad Sandoval and
to be void from the beginning, still, petitioner would not the late Teofilo Carlos;
inherit. This is because the presence of descendant,
illegitimate,[34] or even an adopted child[35] excludes 2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate, or
the collateral relatives from inheriting from the illegitimate, or legally adopted son of the late Teofilo
decedent. Carlos, the RTC is strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS
the action for nullity of marriage for lack of cause of
Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the case for trial action;
on the merits to determine the validity or nullity of the
subject marriage is called for. But the RTC is strictly 3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8 of the fallo
instructed to dismiss the nullity of marriage case for of its decision is VACATED AND SET ASIDE.
lack of cause of action if it is proven by evidence that
Teofilo II is a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial
son of Teofilo Carlos, the deceased brother of on the merits with dispatch and to give this case
petitioner. priority in its calendar.

IV. Remand of the case regarding the question of No costs. SO ORDERED.


filiation of respondent Teofilo II is proper and in order.
There is a need to vacate the disposition of the trial
court as to the other causes of action before it. c.) Cheng vs Sy

Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as issue This is a petition[1] for review on certiorari under Rule
the ruling of the CA on the remand of the case 45 of the Rules of Court of the Order dated January 2,
concerning the filiation of respondent Teofilo II. This 2006[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 18,
notwithstanding, We should not leave the matter Manila in Civil Case No. 05-112452 entitled Anita
hanging in limbo. Cheng v. Spouses William Sy and Tessie Sy.

This Court has the authority to review matters not The antecedents are as follows
specifically raised or assigned as error by the parties, if
their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just Petitioner Anita Cheng filed two (2) estafa cases before
resolution of the case.[36] the RTC, Branch 7, Manila against respondent
spouses William and Tessie Sy (Criminal Case No. 98-
We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits 969952 against Tessie Sy and Criminal Case No. 98-
having been conducted in the case, petitioners bare 969953 against William Sy) for issuing to her Philippine
allegation that respondent Teofilo II was adopted from Bank of Commerce (PBC) Check Nos. 171762 and
an indigent couple is insufficient to support a total 71860 for P300,000.00 each, in payment of their loan,
forfeiture of rights arising from his putative filiation. both of which were dishonored upon presentment for
However, We are not inclined to support its having been drawn against a closed account.
pronouncement that the declaration of respondent
Felicidad as to the illegitimate filiation of respondent Meanwhile, based on the same facts, petitioner, on
Teofilo II is more credible. For the guidance of the January 20, 1999, filed against respondents two (2)
appellate court, such declaration of respondent cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP Blg.)
Felicidad should not be afforded credence. We remind 22 before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch
the CA of the guaranty provided by Article 167 of the 25, Manila (Criminal Case Nos. 341458-59).
Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a
child, to wit: On March 16, 2004, the RTC, Branch 7, Manila
dismissed the estafa cases for failure of the
ARTICLE 167. The child shall be considered legitimate prosecution to prove the elements of the crime. The
although the mother may have declared against its Order dismissing Criminal Case No. 98-969952
legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an contained no declaration as to the civil liability of
adulteress. (Underscoring supplied) Tessie Sy.[3] On the other hand, the Order in Criminal
Case No. 98-969953 contained a statement, Hence, if
It is stressed that Felicidads declaration against the there is any liability of the accused, the same is purely
legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is civil, not criminal in nature.[4]
proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code. The
language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion by Later, the MeTC, Branch 25, Manila, dismissed, on
the mother against the legitimacy of her child cannot demurrer, the BP Blg. 22 cases in its Order[5] dated
February 7, 2005 on account of the failure of petitioner
to identify the accused respondents in open court. The The rule is that upon the filing of the estafa and BP Blg.
Order also did not make any pronouncement as to the 22 cases against respondents, where the petitioner
civil liability of accused respondents. has not made any waiver, express reservation to
litigate separately, or has not instituted the
On April 26, 2005, petitioner lodged against corresponding civil action to collect the amount of
respondents before the RTC, Branch 18, Manila, a P600,000.00 and damages prior to the criminal action,
complaint[6] for collection of a sum of money with the civil action is deemed instituted with the criminal
damages (Civil Case No. 05-112452) based on the cases.[13]
same loaned amount of P600,000.00 covered by the
two PBC checks previously subject of the estafa and This rule applies especially with the advent of the 2000
BP Blg. 22 cases. Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. Thus, during the
pendency of both the estafa and the BP Blg. 22 cases,
In the assailed Order[7] dated January 2, 2006, the the action to recover the civil liability was impliedly
RTC, Branch 18, Manila, dismissed the complaint for instituted and remained pending before the respective
lack of jurisdiction, ratiocinating that the civil action to trial courts. This is consonant with our ruling in
collect the amount of P600,000.00 with damages was Rodriguez v. Ponferrada[14] that the possible single
already impliedly instituted in the BP Blg. 22 cases in civil liability arising from the act of issuing a bouncing
light of Section 1, paragraph (b) of Rule 111 of the check can be the subject of both civil actions deemed
Revised Rules of Court. instituted with the estafa case and the prosecution for
violation of BP Blg. 22, simultaneously available to the
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration[8] which complaining party, without traversing the prohibition
the court denied in its Order[9] dated June 5, 2006. against forum shopping.[15] Prior to the judgment in
Hence, this petition, raising the sole legal issue either the estafa case or the BP Blg. 22 case,
petitioner, as the complainant, cannot be deemed to
Whether or not Section 1 of Rule 111 of the 2000 have elected either of the civil actions both impliedly
Rules of Criminal Procedure and Supreme Court instituted in the said criminal proceedings to the
Circular No. 57-97 on the Rules and Guidelines in the exclusion of the other.[16]
filing and prosecution of criminal cases under BP Blg. The dismissal of the estafa cases for failure of the
22 are applicable to the present case where the nature prosecution to prove the elements of the crime beyond
of the order dismissing the cases for bouncing checks reasonable doubtwhere in Criminal Case No. 98-
against the respondents was [based] on the failure of 969952 there was no pronouncement as regards the
the prosecution to identify both the accused civil liability of the accused and in Criminal Case No.
(respondents herein)?[10] 98-969953 where the trial court declared that the
liability of the accused was only civil in natureproduced
the legal effect of a reservation by the petitioner of her
Essentially, petitioner argues that since the BP Blg. 22 right to litigate separately the civil action impliedly
cases were filed on January 20, 1999, the 2000 instituted with the estafa cases, following Article 29 of
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure promulgated on the Civil Code.[17]
December 1, 2000 should not apply, as it must be
given only prospective application. She further However, although this civil action could have been
contends that that her case falls within the following litigated separately on account of the dismissal of the
exceptions to the rule that the civil action estafa cases on reasonable doubt, the petitioner was
correspondent to the criminal action is deemed deemed to have also elected that such civil action be
instituted with the latter prosecuted together with the BP Blg. 22 cases in light
of the Rodriguez v. Ponferrada ruling.
(1) additional evidence as to the identities of the
accused is necessary for the resolution of the civil With the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22 cases for failure to
aspect of the case; establish the identity of the accused, the question that
arises is whether such dismissal would have the same
(2) a separate complaint would be just as efficacious legal effect as the dismissed estafa cases. Put
as or even more expedient than a timely remand to the differently, may petitioners action to recover
trial court where the criminal action was decided for respondents civil liability be also allowed to prosper
further hearings on the civil aspect of the case; separately after the BP Blg. 22 cases were dismissed?

(3) the trial court failed to make any pronouncement as Section 1 (b), Rule 111 of the 2000 Revised Rules on
to the civil liability of the accused amounting to a Criminal Procedure states
reservation of the right to have the civil liability litigated
in a separate action; Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions.

(4) the trial court did not declare that the facts from xxx
which the civil liability might arise did not exist;
(b) The criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa
(5) the civil complaint is based on an obligation ex- Blg. 22 shall be deemed to include the corresponding
contractu and not ex-delicto pursuant to Article 31[11] civil action. No reservation to file such civil action
of the Civil Code; and separately shall be allowed.

(6) the claim for civil liability for damages may be had Upon filing of the joint criminal and civil actions, the
under Article 29[12] of the Civil Code. offended party shall pay in full the filing fees based on
the amount of the check involved, which shall be
Petitioner also points out that she was not assisted by considered as the actual damages claimed. Where the
any private prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22 proceedings. complaint or information also seeks to recover
liquidated, moral, nominal, temperate or exemplary
damages, the offended party shall pay the filing fees
based on the amounts alleged therein. If the amounts It is in this light that we find petitioners contention that
are not so alleged but any of these damages [is] she was not assisted by a private prosecutor during the
subsequently awarded by the court, the filing fees BP Blg. 22 proceedings critical. Petitioner indirectly
based on the amount awarded shall constitute a first protests that the public prosecutor failed to protect and
lien on the judgment. prosecute her cause when he failed to have her
establish the identities of the accused during the trial
Where the civil action has been filed separately and and when he failed to appeal the civil action deemed
trial thereof has not yet commenced, it may be impliedly instituted with the BP Blg. 22 cases. On this
consolidated with the criminal action upon application ground, we agree with petitioner.
with the court trying the latter case. If the application is
granted, the trial of both actions shall proceed in Faced with the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22 cases,
accordance with section 2 of this Rule governing petitioners recourse pursuant to the prevailing rules of
consolidation of the civil and criminal actions. procedure would have been to appeal the civil action to
recover the amount loaned to respondents
corresponding to the bounced checks. Hence, the said
Petitioner is in error when she insists that the 2000 civil action may proceed requiring only a
Rules on Criminal Procedure should not apply because preponderance of evidence on the part of petitioner.
she filed her BP Blg. 22 complaints in 1999. It is now Her failure to appeal within the reglementary period
settled that rules of procedure apply even to cases was tantamount to a waiver altogether of the remedy to
already pending at the time of their promulgation. The recover the civil liability of respondents. However, due
fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the to the gross mistake of the prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22
litigants rights does not preclude their retroactive cases, we are constrained to digress from this rule.
application to pending actions. It is axiomatic that the
retroactive application of procedural laws does not It is true that clients are bound by the mistakes,
violate any right of a person who may feel that he is negligence and omission of their counsel.[22] But this
adversely affected, nor is it constitutionally rule admits of exceptions (1) where the counsels
objectionable. The reason for this is that, as a general mistake is so great and serious that the client is
rule, no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, prejudiced and denied his day in court, or (2) where the
procedural laws.[18] counsel is guilty of gross negligence resulting in the
clients deprivation of liberty or property without due
Indeed, under the present revised Rules, the criminal process of law.[23] Tested against these guidelines,
action for violation of BP Blg. 22 includes the we hold that petitioners lot falls within the exceptions.
corresponding civil action to recover the amount of the
checks. It should be stressed, this policy is intended to It is an oft-repeated exhortation to counsels to be well-
discourage the separate filing of the civil action. In fact, informed of existing laws and rules and to keep abreast
the Rules even prohibits the reservation of a separate with legal developments, recent enactments and
civil action, i.e., one can no longer file a separate civil jurisprudence. Unless they faithfully comply with such
case after the criminal complaint is filed in court. The duty, they may not be able to discharge competently
only instance when separate proceedings are allowed and diligently their obligations as members of the
is when the civil action is filed ahead of the criminal Bar.[24] Further, lawyers in the government service are
case. Even then, the Rules encourages the expected to be more conscientious in the performance
consolidation of the civil and criminal cases. Thus, of their duties as they are subject to public scrutiny.
where petitioners rights may be fully adjudicated in the They are not only members of the Bar but are also
proceedings before the court trying the BP Blg. 22 public servants who owe utmost fidelity to public
cases, resort to a separate action to recover civil service.[25] Apparently, the public prosecutor
liability is clearly unwarranted on account of res neglected to equip himself with the knowledge of the
judicata, for failure of petitioner to appeal the civil proper procedure for BP Blg. 22 cases under the 2000
aspect of the cases. In view of this special rule Rules on Criminal Procedure such that he failed to
governing actions for violation of BP Blg. 22, Article 31 appeal the civil action impliedly instituted with the BP
of the Civil Code is not applicable.[19] Blg. 22 cases, the only remaining remedy available to
petitioner to be able to recover the money she loaned
Be it remembered that rules governing procedure to respondents, upon the dismissal of the criminal
before the courts, while not cast in stone, are for the cases on demurrer. By this failure, petitioner was
speedy, efficient, and orderly dispensation of justice denied her day in court to prosecute the respondents
and should therefore be adhered to in order to attain for their obligation to pay their loan.
this objective.[20]
Moreover, we take into consideration the trial courts
However, in applying the procedure discussed above, observation when it dismissed the estafa charge in
it appears that petitioner would be left without a Criminal Case No. 98-969953 that if there was any
remedy to recover from respondents the P600,000.00 liability on the part of respondents, it was civil in nature.
allegedly loaned from her. This could prejudice even Hence, if the loan be proven true, the inability of
the petitioners Notice of Claim involving the same petitioner to recover the loaned amount would be
amount filed in Special Proceedings No. 98-88390 tantamount to unjust enrichment of respondents, as
(Petition for Voluntary Insolvency by Kolin Enterprises, they may now conveniently evade payment of their
William Sy and Tessie Sy), which case was reportedly obligation merely on account of a technicality applied
archived for failure to prosecute the petition for an against petitioner.
unreasonable length of time.[21] Expectedly,
respondents would raise the same defense that There is unjust enrichment when (1) a person is
petitioner had already elected to litigate the civil action unjustly benefited, and (2) such benefit is derived at
to recover the amount of the checks along with the BP the expense of or with damages to another. This
Blg. 22 cases. doctrine simply means that a person shall not be
allowed to profit or enrich himself inequitably at
anothers expense. One condition for invoking this
principle of unjust enrichment is that the aggrieved Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired
party has no other recourse based on contract, quasi- list and his retirement benefits terminated upon such
contract, crime, quasi-delict or any other provision of loss. It being in consonance with the policy
law.[26] consideration that all retirement laws inconsistent with
the provisions of PD No. 1638 are repealed and
Court litigations are primarily designed to search for modified accordingly.
the truth, and a liberal interpretation and application of
the rules which will give the parties the fullest On August 24, 2006, Jeremias filed with the Regional
opportunity to adduce proof is the best way to ferret out Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, a Petition for
the truth. The dispensation of justice and vindication of Mandamus9 against Gen. Generoso Senga, as Chief
legitimate grievances should not be barred by of Staff of the AFP, Brig. Gen. Fernando Zabat, as
technicalities.[27] For reasons of substantial justice Chief of the AFP Finance Center, Comm. Reynaldo
and equity, as the complement of the legal jurisdiction Basilio, as Chief of the AFP- GHQ Management and
that seeks to dispense justice where courts of law, Fiscal Office, and Comm. Emilio Marayag, Pension
through the inflexibility of their rules and want of power and Gratuity Management Officer, Pension and
to adapt their judgments to the special circumstances Gratuity Management Center, AFP Finance Center,
of cases, are incompetent to do so,[28] we thus rule, seeking reinstatement of his name in the list of the AFP
pro hac vice, in favor of petitioner. retired officers, resumption of payment of his
retirement benefits under RA No. 340, and the
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Civil Case reimbursement of all his retirement pay and benefits
No. 05-112452 entitled Anita Cheng v. Spouses which accrued from March 5, 2005 up to the time his
William Sy and Tessie Sy is hereby ordered name is reinstated and, thereafter, with claim for
REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO damages and attorney's fees. The case was docketed
ORDERED. as Civil Case No. Q-06-58686, and raffled off to
Branch 220.

d.) Carolino vs Senga On February 26, 2007, the RTC rendered its
Decision10 granting the petition for mandamus, the
Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45 dispositive portion of which reads:
seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated
May 25, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering
SP No. 103502 and the Resolution2 dated September General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., as Chief of Staff of
10, 2009 denying reconsideration thereof. the AFP, Brigadier General Fernando Zabat, as the
Commanding Officer of the AFP Finance Center,
The factual and legal antecedents are as follows: Commodore Reynaldo Basilio, as Chief of the AFP-
GHQ Management and Fiscal Office, and Captain
On December 1, 1976, Jeremias A. Carolino, Theresa M. Nicdao, as Pension and Gratuity Officer of
petitioner's husband, Retired3 from the Armed Forces the Pension and Gratuity Management Center, or any
of the Philippines (AFP) with the rank of Colonel under of their respective successors and those taking
General Order No. 1208 dated November 29, 1976, instructions from them as agents or subordinates, to:
pursuant to the provisions of Sections 1(A) and 10 of
Republic Act (RA) No. 340,4 as amended. He started a. immediately reinstate the name of petitioner in the
receiving his monthly retirement pay in the amount of list of retired AFP Officers, and to resume payment of
P18,315.00 in December 1976 until the same was his retirement benefits under RA 340; and
withheld by respondents in March 2005. On June 3,
2005, Jeremias wrote a letter5 addressed to the AFP b. release to [petitioner] all retirement benefits due him
Chief of Staff asking for the reasons of the withholding under RA 340 which accrued to him from March 2005
of his retirement pay. In a letter reply,6 Myrna F. continuously up to the time his name is reinstated in
Villaruz, LTC (FS) PA, Pension and Gratuity Officer of the list of AFP retired officers.11
the AFP Finance Center, informed Jeremias that his
loss of Filipino citizenship caused the deletion of his The RTC found that the issue for resolution is the
name in the alpha list of the AFP Pensioners Payroll applicability of RA No. 340 and PD No. 1638 upon
effective March 5, 2005; and that he could avail of re- Jeremias' retirement benefits. It found that he retired as
entitlement to his retirement benefits and the a commissioned officer of the AFP in 1976; thus, RA
restoration of his name in the AFP Pensioners' Master No. 340 is the law applicable in determining his
list Payroll by complying with the requirements entitlement to his retirement benefits and not PD No.
prescribed under RA No. 9225, or the Dual Citizenship 1638 which was issued only in 1979. Article 4 of the
Act. Civil Code provides that "laws shall have no retroactive
effect unless the contrary is provided." PD No. 1638
It appeared that the termination of Jeremias' pension does not provide for such retroactive application. Also,
was done pursuant to Disposition Form7 dated it could not have been the intendment of PD No. 1638
October 29, 2004,which was approved by the Chief of to deprive its loyal soldiers of a monthly pension during
Staff and made effective in January 2005. In the said their old age especially where, as here, the right had
Disposition Form, the AFP Judge Advocate General been vested to them through time. RA No. 340 does
opined that under the provisions of Sections 4, 5, and 6 not provide that the loss of Filipino citizenship would
of RA No. 340, retired military personnel are terminate one's retirement benefits; and that PD No.
disqualified from receiving pension benefits once 1638 does not reduce whatever benefits that any
incapable to render military service as a result of his person has already been receiving under existing law.
having sworn allegiance to a foreign country. It was
also mentioned that termination of retirement benefits Respondents sought reconsideration,12 but the RTC
of pensioner of the AFP could be done pursuant to the denied the same in an Order13 dated May 25, 2007,
provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 16388 the decretal portion of which reads:
which provides that the name of a retiree who loses his
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant PD No. 1638 does not expressly provide for its
Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED, retroactive application. Respondents, being officers of
considering that the questioned decision has not yet the AFP tasked to implement the provisions of RA No.
attained its finality. The Motion for Execution in the 340 have neglected their function thereunder by
meantime is hereby DENIED.14 delisting petitioner's husband as a retiree, thus,
mandamus is proper.
Aggrieved, respondents elevated the case to the CA.
After the submission of the parties' respective In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that PD
memoranda, the case was submitted for decision. No. 1638 applies to all military personnel in the service
of the AFP whether active or retired; hence, it applies
Jeremias died on September 30, 200715 and was retroactively to petitioner's husband. Even when a
substituted by his wife, herein petitioner. On May 25, retiree is no longer in the active service, his being a
2009, the CA granted respondents' appeal. The Filipino still makes him a part of the Citizen Armed
dispositive portion of the CA decision reads: Forces; that whether a military personnel retires under
the provisions of RA No. 340 or under PD No. 1638, he
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant is still in the service of the military and/or the State only
appeal is GRANTED. The appealed decision is that he is retired, thus, they should not be treated
REVOKED and SET ASIDE.16 differently upon the loss of Filipino citizenship. He
argues when there is an irreconcilable conflict between
In so ruling, the CA found that while it is true that the two laws of different vintages, i.e., RA No. 340 and
Jeremias retired in 1976 under the provisions of RA PD No. 1638, the latter enactment prevails.
No. 340, as amended, which does not contain any
provision anent cessation or loss of retirement benefits The Solicitor General argues that mandamus will not
upon acquiring another citizenship, PD No. 1638, issue to enforce a right to compel compliance with a
which was signed in 1979, effectively repealed RA No. duty which is questionable or over which a substantial
340, as amended. Section 27 of PD No. 1638, which doubt exists. In this case, petitioner's husband does
provides that the name of a retiree who loses his not have a well-defined, clear and certain legal right to
Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired continuously receive retirement benefits after
list and his retirement benefits terminated upon such becoming an American citizen. Likewise, the AFP does
loss, was correctly made applicable to Jeremias' not have a clear and imperative duty to grant the said
retirement benefits. Logic dictates that since Jeremias benefits considering that Section 27 of PD No. 1638
had already renounced his allegiance to the provides that the name of a retiree who loses his
Philippines, he cannot now be compelled by the State Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired
to render active service and to render compulsory list and his retirement benefits terminated upon such
military service when the need arises. The CA found loss.
that for the writ of mandamus to lie, it is essential that
Jeremias should have a clear legal right to the thing Petitioner filed her reply thereto.
demanded and it must be the imperative duty of
respondents to perform the act required which We find merit in the petition.
petitioner failed to show; thus, mandamus will not lie.
Petitioner's husband retired in1976 under RA No. 340.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a He was already receiving his monthly retirement
Resolution dated September 10, 2009. benefit in the amount of P18,315.00 since December
1976 until it was terminated in March 2005. Section 5,
Hence, this petition raising the following: RA No. 340 provides:

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED Sec. 5. Officers and enlisted men placed in the retired
GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RENDERING THE list shall be subject to the rules and articles of war and
ASSAILED DECISION AND RESOLUTION WHICH to trial by court-martial for any breach thereof. At any
SET ASIDE AND REVERSED THE 26 FEBRUARY time said officers and enlisted men may be called to
2007 DECISION OF THE QC RTC BECAUSE: active service by the President. Refusal on the part of
any officer or enlisted man to perform such services
PD 1638 should not have been applied and cannot be shall terminate his right to further participation in the
used against petitioner as her husband's retirement benefits of this Act provided he resides in the
and pension were granted to him by the AFP under RA Philippines and is physically fit for service. Such fitness
340 which was not superseded by PD 1638, a later for service shall be determined by applicable
statute. regulations.

Petitioner correctly availed of the remedy of mandamus The afore-quoted provision clearly shows how a
to compel the reinstatement of his pension and retiree's retirement benefits may be terminated, i.e.,
benefits from the AFP under RA 340 as PD 1638 was when the retiree refuses to perform active service
not applicable to him. Petitioner contends that her when called to do so provided that (1) the retiree
husband's retirement from the active service in 1976 resides in the Philippines and (2) is physically fit for
was pursuant to the provisions of RA No. No. 340 as service. There is no other requirement found in the law
PD No. 1638 was not yet in existence then, and there which would be the reason for the termination of a
was nothing in RA No. 340 that disqualifies a retired retiree's retirement benefits. Petitioner's husband was
military personnel from receiving retirement benefits never called to perform active service and refused to
after acquiring foreign citizenship. The concept of do so, however, his retirement benefit was terminated.
retirement benefits is such that one is entitled to them The reason for such termination was his loss of Filipino
for services already rendered and not for those to be citizenship based on Section 27 of PD No. 1638, to wit:
made at a future time. Retirement benefits due
petitioner's husband under RA No. 340, is an acquired Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4,
right which cannot be taken away by a subsequent law. 5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be carried in the retired list of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines. The name of a retiree In Ayog v. Cusi,26 we expounded the nature of a
who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be removed vested right, thus:
from the retired list and his retirement benefits
terminated upon such loss. "A right is vested when the right to enjoyment has
become the property of some particular person or
We find that the CA erred in applying PD No. 1638 to persons as a present interest" (16 C.J.S.
the retirement benefits of petitioner's husband. 1173).1wphi1 It is "the privilege to enjoy property
legally vested, to enforce contracts, and enjoy the
Firstly, PD No. 1638 was signed by then President rights of property conferred by the existing law" (12
Ferdinand Marcos on September 10, 1979. Under C.J.S. 955, Note 46, No. 6) or "some right or interest in
Article 4 of the Civil Code, it is provided that laws shall property which has become fixed and established and
have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is is no longer open to doubt or controversy" (Downs vs.
provided. It is said that the law looks to the future only Blount 170 Fed. 15, 20, cited in Balboa vs. Farrales, 51
and has no retroactive effect unless the legislator may Phil. 498, 502).
have formally given that effect to some legal
provisions;17 that all statutes are to be construed as The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of
having only prospective operation, unless the purpose vested rights. "A state may not impair vested rights by
and intention of the legislature to give them a legislative enactment, by the enactment or by the
retrospective effect is expressly declared or is subsequent repeal of a municipal ordinance, or by a
necessarily implied from the language used; and that change in the constitution of the State, except in a
every case of doubt must be resolved against legitimate exercise of the police power" (16 C.J.S.
retrospective effect.18 These principles also apply to 1177-78).
amendments of statutes.
It has been observed that, generally, the term "vested
PD No. 1638 does not contain any provision regarding right" expresses the concept of present fixed interest,
its retroactive application, nor the same may be implied which in right reason and natural justice should be
from its language. In fact, Section 36 of PD No. 1638 protected against arbitrary State action, or an innately
clearly provides that the decree shall take effect upon just and imperative right which an enlightened free
its approval. As held in Parreo v. COA,19 there is no society, sensitive to inherent and irrefragable individual
question that PD No. 1638, as amended, applies rights, cannot deny (16 C.J.S. 1174, Note 71, No. 5,
prospectively. Since PD No. 1638, as amended, is citing Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc. vs.
about the new system of retirement and separation Rosenthal, 192 Atl. 2nd 587). 27
from service of military personnel, it should apply to
those who were in the service at the time of its Petitioner's husband acquired vested right to the
approval.20 Conversely, PD No. 1638 is not applicable payment of his retirement benefits which must be
to those who retired before its effectivity in 1979. The respected and cannot be affected by the subsequent
rule is familiar that after an act is amended, the original enactment of PD No. 1638 which provides that loss of
act continues to be in force with regard to all rights that Filipino citizenship terminates retirement benefits.
had accrued prior to such amendment.21 Vested rights include not only legal or equitable title to
the enforcement of a demand, but also an exemption
Moreover, Section 27 of PD No. 1638 specifically from new obligations after the right has vested.28
provides for the retirees to whom the law shall be
applied, to wit: In fact, Sections 33 and 35 of PD No.1638 recognize
such vested right, to wit:
Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4,
5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be carried in the retired list of the Section 33. Nothing in this Decree shall be construed
Armed Forces of the Philippines. The name of a retiree in any manner to reduce whatever retirement and
who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be removed separation pay or gratuity or other monetary benefits
from the retired list and his retirement benefits which any person is heretofore receiving or is entitled
terminated upon such loss. (emphasis supplied) to receive under the provisions of existing law.

Notably, petitioner's husband did not retire under those xxxx


above-enumerated Sections of PD No. 1638 as he
retired under RA No. 340. Section. 35. Except those necessary to give effect to
the provisions of this Decree and to preserve the rights
Secondly, it has been held that before a right to granted to retired or separated military personnel, all
retirement benefits or pension vests in an employee, laws, rules and regulations inconsistent with the
he must have met the stated conditions of eligibility provisions of this Decree are hereby repealed or
with respect to the nature of employment, age, and modified accordingly.
length of service.22 Undeniably, petitioner's husband
had complied with the conditions of eligibility to Section 33 of PD No. 1638 is clear that the law has no
retirement benefits as he was then receiving his intention to reduce or to revoke whatever retirement
retirement benefits on a monthly basis until it was benefits being enjoyed by a retiree at the time of its
terminated. Where the employee retires and meets the passage. Hence, Section 35 provides for an exception
eligibility requirements, he acquires a vested right to to what the decree repealed or modified, i.e., except
the benefits that is protected by the due process those necessary to preserve the rights granted to
clause.23 It is only upon retirement that military retired or separated military personnel.
personnel acquire a vested right to retirement
benefits.24 Retirees enjoy a protected property interest We also find that the CA erred in finding that
whenever they acquire a right to immediate payment mandamus will not lie.
under pre-existing law.25
Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court lay down ARTICLE 6 WAIVER OF RIGHTS
under what circumstances petition for mandamus may
be filed, to wit: a.) Famanila vs Court of Appeals

SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus. When any tribunal, Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45
corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated
neglects the performance of an act which the law May 25, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, SP No. 103502 and the Resolution2 dated September
trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from 10, 2009 denying reconsideration thereof.
the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such
other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy The factual and legal antecedents are as follows:
and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the
person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in On December 1, 1976, Jeremias A. Carolino,
the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and petitioner's husband, Retired3 from the Armed Forces
praying that judgment be rendered commanding the of the Philippines (AFP) with the rank of Colonel under
respondent, immediately or at some other time to be General Order No. 1208 dated November 29, 1976,
specified by the court, to do the act required to be done pursuant to the provisions of Sections 1(A) and 10 of
to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the Republic Act (RA) No. 340,4 as amended. He started
damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the receiving his monthly retirement pay in the amount of
wrongful acts of the respondent. P18,315.00 in December 1976 until the same was
withheld by respondents in March 2005. On June 3,
A writ of mandamus can be issued only when 2005, Jeremias wrote a letter5 addressed to the AFP
petitioners legal right to the performance of a particular Chief of Staff asking for the reasons of the withholding
act which is sought to be compelled is clear and of his retirement pay. In a letter reply,6 Myrna F.
complete. A clear legal right is a right which is Villaruz, LTC (FS) PA, Pension and Gratuity Officer of
indubitably granted by law or is inferable as a matter of the AFP Finance Center, informed Jeremias that his
law.29 A doctrine well-embedded in our jurisprudence loss of Filipino citizenship caused the deletion of his
is that mandamus will issue only when the petitioner name in the alpha list of the AFP Pensioners Payroll
has a clear legal right to the performance of the act effective March 5, 2005; and that he could avail of re-
sought to be compelled and the respondent has an entitlement to his retirement benefits and the
imperative duty to perform the same.30 The remedy of restoration of his name in the AFP Pensioners' Master
mandamus lies to compel the performance of a list Payroll by complying with the requirements
ministerial duty.31 A purely ministerial act or duty is prescribed under RA No. 9225, or the Dual Citizenship
one that an officer or tribunal performs in a given state Act.
of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the
mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the It appeared that the termination of Jeremias' pension
exercise of its own judgment upon the propriety or was done pursuant to Disposition Form7 dated
impropriety of the act done.32 If the law imposes a October 29, 2004,which was approved by the Chief of
duty upon a public officer, and gives him the right to Staff and made effective in January 2005. In the said
decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such Disposition Form, the AFP Judge Advocate General
duty is discretionary and not ministerial.33 opined that under the provisions of Sections 4, 5, and 6
of RA No. 340, retired military personnel are
The petition for mandamus filed by petitioner's disqualified from receiving pension benefits once
husband with the RTC was for the payment of his incapable to render military service as a result of his
terminated retirement benefits, which has become having sworn allegiance to a foreign country. It was
vested, and being a ministerial duty on the part of the also mentioned that termination of retirement benefits
respondents to pay such claim, mandamus is the of pensioner of the AFP could be done pursuant to the
proper remedy to compel such payment. provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 16388
which provides that the name of a retiree who loses his
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired
calls for resort first to the appropriate administrative list and his retirement benefits terminated upon such
authorities in the resolution of a controversy falling loss. It being in consonance with the policy
under their jurisdiction before the same may be consideration that all retirement laws inconsistent with
elevated to the courts of justice for review.34 However, the provisions of PD No. 1638 are repealed and
the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies modified accordingly.
need not be adhered to when the question is purely
legal.35 This is because issues of law cannot be On August 24, 2006, Jeremias filed with the Regional
resolved with finality by the administrative officer.36 Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, a Petition for
Appeal to the administrative officer would only be an Mandamus9 against Gen. Generoso Senga, as Chief
exercise in futility.37 Here, the question raised is purely of Staff of the AFP, Brig. Gen. Fernando Zabat, as
legal, i.e., what law should be applied in the payment Chief of the AFP Finance Center, Comm. Reynaldo
of retirement benefits of petitioner's husband. Thus, Basilio, as Chief of the AFP- GHQ Management and
there was no need to exhaust all administrative Fiscal Office, and Comm. Emilio Marayag, Pension
remedies before a judicial relief can be sought. and Gratuity Management Officer, Pension and
Gratuity Management Center, AFP Finance Center,
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The seeking reinstatement of his name in the list of the AFP
Decision dated May 25, 2009 and the Resolution dated retired officers, resumption of payment of his
September 10, 2009 of the Court of Appeals are retirement benefits under RA No. 340, and the
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision reimbursement of all his retirement pay and benefits
dated February 26, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court of which accrued from March 5, 2005 up to the time his
Quezon City, Branch 220, is AFFIRMED. SO name is reinstated and, thereafter, with claim for
ORDERED. damages and attorney's fees. The case was docketed
as Civil Case No. Q-06-58686, and raffled off to upon acquiring another citizenship, PD No. 1638,
Branch 220. which was signed in 1979, effectively repealed RA No.
340, as amended. Section 27 of PD No. 1638, which
On February 26, 2007, the RTC rendered its provides that the name of a retiree who loses his
Decision10 granting the petition for mandamus, the Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired
dispositive portion of which reads: list and his retirement benefits terminated upon such
loss, was correctly made applicable to Jeremias'
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering retirement benefits. Logic dictates that since Jeremias
General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., as Chief of Staff of had already renounced his allegiance to the
the AFP, Brigadier General Fernando Zabat, as the Philippines, he cannot now be compelled by the State
Commanding Officer of the AFP Finance Center, to render active service and to render compulsory
Commodore Reynaldo Basilio, as Chief of the AFP- military service when the need arises. The CA found
GHQ Management and Fiscal Office, and Captain that for the writ of mandamus to lie, it is essential that
Theresa M. Nicdao, as Pension and Gratuity Officer of Jeremias should have a clear legal right to the thing
the Pension and Gratuity Management Center, or any demanded and it must be the imperative duty of
of their respective successors and those taking respondents to perform the act required which
instructions from them as agents or subordinates, to: petitioner failed to show; thus, mandamus will not lie.

a. immediately reinstate the name of petitioner in the Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a
list of retired AFP Officers, and to resume payment of Resolution dated September 10, 2009.
his retirement benefits under RA 340; and
Hence, this petition raising the following:
b. release to [petitioner] all retirement benefits due him
under RA 340 which accrued to him from March 2005 RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED
continuously up to the time his name is reinstated in GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RENDERING THE
the list of AFP retired officers.11 ASSAILED DECISION AND RESOLUTION WHICH
SET ASIDE AND REVERSED THE 26 FEBRUARY
The RTC found that the issue for resolution is the 2007 DECISION OF THE QC RTC BECAUSE:
applicability of RA No. 340 and PD No. 1638 upon
Jeremias' retirement benefits. It found that he retired as PD 1638 should not have been applied and cannot be
a commissioned officer of the AFP in 1976; thus, RA used against petitioner as her husband's retirement
No. 340 is the law applicable in determining his and pension were granted to him by the AFP under RA
entitlement to his retirement benefits and not PD No. 340 which was not superseded by PD 1638, a later
1638 which was issued only in 1979. Article 4 of the statute.
Civil Code provides that "laws shall have no retroactive
effect unless the contrary is provided." PD No. 1638 Petitioner correctly availed of the remedy of mandamus
does not provide for such retroactive application. Also, to compel the reinstatement of his pension and
it could not have been the intendment of PD No. 1638 benefits from the AFP under RA 340 as PD 1638 was
to deprive its loyal soldiers of a monthly pension during not applicable to him. Petitioner contends that her
their old age especially where, as here, the right had husband's retirement from the active service in 1976
been vested to them through time. RA No. 340 does was pursuant to the provisions of RA No. No. 340 as
not provide that the loss of Filipino citizenship would PD No. 1638 was not yet in existence then, and there
terminate one's retirement benefits; and that PD No. was nothing in RA No. 340 that disqualifies a retired
1638 does not reduce whatever benefits that any military personnel from receiving retirement benefits
person has already been receiving under existing law. after acquiring foreign citizenship. The concept of
retirement benefits is such that one is entitled to them
Respondents sought reconsideration,12 but the RTC for services already rendered and not for those to be
denied the same in an Order13 dated May 25, 2007, made at a future time. Retirement benefits due
the decretal portion of which reads: petitioner's husband under RA No. 340, is an acquired
right which cannot be taken away by a subsequent law.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant PD No. 1638 does not expressly provide for its
Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED, retroactive application. Respondents, being officers of
considering that the questioned decision has not yet the AFP tasked to implement the provisions of RA No.
attained its finality. The Motion for Execution in the 340 have neglected their function thereunder by
meantime is hereby DENIED.14 delisting petitioner's husband as a retiree, thus,
mandamus is proper.
Aggrieved, respondents elevated the case to the CA.
After the submission of the parties' respective In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that PD
memoranda, the case was submitted for decision. No. 1638 applies to all military personnel in the service
of the AFP whether active or retired; hence, it applies
Jeremias died on September 30, 200715 and was retroactively to petitioner's husband. Even when a
substituted by his wife, herein petitioner. On May 25, retiree is no longer in the active service, his being a
2009, the CA granted respondents' appeal. The Filipino still makes him a part of the Citizen Armed
dispositive portion of the CA decision reads: Forces; that whether a military personnel retires under
the provisions of RA No. 340 or under PD No. 1638, he
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant is still in the service of the military and/or the State only
appeal is GRANTED. The appealed decision is that he is retired, thus, they should not be treated
REVOKED and SET ASIDE.16 differently upon the loss of Filipino citizenship. He
argues when there is an irreconcilable conflict between
In so ruling, the CA found that while it is true that the two laws of different vintages, i.e., RA No. 340 and
Jeremias retired in 1976 under the provisions of RA PD No. 1638, the latter enactment prevails.
No. 340, as amended, which does not contain any
provision anent cessation or loss of retirement benefits
The Solicitor General argues that mandamus will not retrospective effect.18 These principles also apply to
issue to enforce a right to compel compliance with a amendments of statutes.
duty which is questionable or over which a substantial
doubt exists. In this case, petitioner's husband does PD No. 1638 does not contain any provision regarding
not have a well-defined, clear and certain legal right to its retroactive application, nor the same may be implied
continuously receive retirement benefits after from its language. In fact, Section 36 of PD No. 1638
becoming an American citizen. Likewise, the AFP does clearly provides that the decree shall take effect upon
not have a clear and imperative duty to grant the said its approval. As held in Parreo v. COA,19 there is no
benefits considering that Section 27 of PD No. 1638 question that PD No. 1638, as amended, applies
provides that the name of a retiree who loses his prospectively. Since PD No. 1638, as amended, is
Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired about the new system of retirement and separation
list and his retirement benefits terminated upon such from service of military personnel, it should apply to
loss. those who were in the service at the time of its
approval.20 Conversely, PD No. 1638 is not applicable
Petitioner filed her reply thereto. to those who retired before its effectivity in 1979. The
rule is familiar that after an act is amended, the original
We find merit in the petition. act continues to be in force with regard to all rights that
had accrued prior to such amendment.21
Petitioner's husband retired in1976 under RA No. 340.
He was already receiving his monthly retirement Moreover, Section 27 of PD No. 1638 specifically
benefit in the amount of P18,315.00 since December provides for the retirees to whom the law shall be
1976 until it was terminated in March 2005. Section 5, applied, to wit:
RA No. 340 provides:
Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4,
Sec. 5. Officers and enlisted men placed in the retired 5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be carried in the retired list of the
list shall be subject to the rules and articles of war and Armed Forces of the Philippines. The name of a retiree
to trial by court-martial for any breach thereof. At any who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be removed
time said officers and enlisted men may be called to from the retired list and his retirement benefits
active service by the President. Refusal on the part of terminated upon such loss. (emphasis supplied)
any officer or enlisted man to perform such services
shall terminate his right to further participation in the Notably, petitioner's husband did not retire under those
benefits of this Act provided he resides in the above-enumerated Sections of PD No. 1638 as he
Philippines and is physically fit for service. Such fitness retired under RA No. 340.
for service shall be determined by applicable
regulations. Secondly, it has been held that before a right to
retirement benefits or pension vests in an employee,
The afore-quoted provision clearly shows how a he must have met the stated conditions of eligibility
retiree's retirement benefits may be terminated, i.e., with respect to the nature of employment, age, and
when the retiree refuses to perform active service length of service.22 Undeniably, petitioner's husband
when called to do so provided that (1) the retiree had complied with the conditions of eligibility to
resides in the Philippines and (2) is physically fit for retirement benefits as he was then receiving his
service. There is no other requirement found in the law retirement benefits on a monthly basis until it was
which would be the reason for the termination of a terminated. Where the employee retires and meets the
retiree's retirement benefits. Petitioner's husband was eligibility requirements, he acquires a vested right to
never called to perform active service and refused to the benefits that is protected by the due process
do so, however, his retirement benefit was terminated. clause.23 It is only upon retirement that military
The reason for such termination was his loss of Filipino personnel acquire a vested right to retirement
citizenship based on Section 27 of PD No. 1638, to wit: benefits.24 Retirees enjoy a protected property interest
whenever they acquire a right to immediate payment
Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4, under pre-existing law.25
5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be carried in the retired list of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines. The name of a retiree In Ayog v. Cusi,26 we expounded the nature of a
who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be removed vested right, thus:
from the retired list and his retirement benefits
terminated upon such loss. "A right is vested when the right to enjoyment has
become the property of some particular person or
We find that the CA erred in applying PD No. 1638 to persons as a present interest" (16 C.J.S.
the retirement benefits of petitioner's husband. 1173).1wphi1 It is "the privilege to enjoy property
legally vested, to enforce contracts, and enjoy the
Firstly, PD No. 1638 was signed by then President rights of property conferred by the existing law" (12
Ferdinand Marcos on September 10, 1979. Under C.J.S. 955, Note 46, No. 6) or "some right or interest in
Article 4 of the Civil Code, it is provided that laws shall property which has become fixed and established and
have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is is no longer open to doubt or controversy" (Downs vs.
provided. It is said that the law looks to the future only Blount 170 Fed. 15, 20, cited in Balboa vs. Farrales, 51
and has no retroactive effect unless the legislator may Phil. 498, 502).
have formally given that effect to some legal
provisions;17 that all statutes are to be construed as The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of
having only prospective operation, unless the purpose vested rights. "A state may not impair vested rights by
and intention of the legislature to give them a legislative enactment, by the enactment or by the
retrospective effect is expressly declared or is subsequent repeal of a municipal ordinance, or by a
necessarily implied from the language used; and that change in the constitution of the State, except in a
every case of doubt must be resolved against legitimate exercise of the police power" (16 C.J.S.
1177-78).
complete. A clear legal right is a right which is
It has been observed that, generally, the term "vested indubitably granted by law or is inferable as a matter of
right" expresses the concept of present fixed interest, law.29 A doctrine well-embedded in our jurisprudence
which in right reason and natural justice should be is that mandamus will issue only when the petitioner
protected against arbitrary State action, or an innately has a clear legal right to the performance of the act
just and imperative right which an enlightened free sought to be compelled and the respondent has an
society, sensitive to inherent and irrefragable individual imperative duty to perform the same.30 The remedy of
rights, cannot deny (16 C.J.S. 1174, Note 71, No. 5, mandamus lies to compel the performance of a
citing Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc. vs. ministerial duty.31 A purely ministerial act or duty is
Rosenthal, 192 Atl. 2nd 587). 27 one that an officer or tribunal performs in a given state
of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the
Petitioner's husband acquired vested right to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the
payment of his retirement benefits which must be exercise of its own judgment upon the propriety or
respected and cannot be affected by the subsequent impropriety of the act done.32 If the law imposes a
enactment of PD No. 1638 which provides that loss of duty upon a public officer, and gives him the right to
Filipino citizenship terminates retirement benefits. decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such
Vested rights include not only legal or equitable title to duty is discretionary and not ministerial.33
the enforcement of a demand, but also an exemption
from new obligations after the right has vested.28 The petition for mandamus filed by petitioner's
husband with the RTC was for the payment of his
In fact, Sections 33 and 35 of PD No.1638 recognize terminated retirement benefits, which has become
such vested right, to wit: vested, and being a ministerial duty on the part of the
respondents to pay such claim, mandamus is the
Section 33. Nothing in this Decree shall be construed proper remedy to compel such payment.
in any manner to reduce whatever retirement and
separation pay or gratuity or other monetary benefits The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies
which any person is heretofore receiving or is entitled calls for resort first to the appropriate administrative
to receive under the provisions of existing law. authorities in the resolution of a controversy falling
under their jurisdiction before the same may be
xxxx elevated to the courts of justice for review.34 However,
the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies
Section. 35. Except those necessary to give effect to need not be adhered to when the question is purely
the provisions of this Decree and to preserve the rights legal.35 This is because issues of law cannot be
granted to retired or separated military personnel, all resolved with finality by the administrative officer.36
laws, rules and regulations inconsistent with the Appeal to the administrative officer would only be an
provisions of this Decree are hereby repealed or exercise in futility.37 Here, the question raised is purely
modified accordingly. legal, i.e., what law should be applied in the payment
of retirement benefits of petitioner's husband. Thus,
Section 33 of PD No. 1638 is clear that the law has no there was no need to exhaust all administrative
intention to reduce or to revoke whatever retirement remedies before a judicial relief can be sought.
benefits being enjoyed by a retiree at the time of its
passage. Hence, Section 35 provides for an exception WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
to what the decree repealed or modified, i.e., except Decision dated May 25, 2009 and the Resolution dated
those necessary to preserve the rights granted to September 10, 2009 of the Court of Appeals are
retired or separated military personnel. hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision
dated February 26, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court of
We also find that the CA erred in finding that Quezon City, Branch 220, is AFFIRMED. SO
mandamus will not lie. ORDERED.

Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court lay down


under what circumstances petition for mandamus may b.) Guy vs Court of Appeals
be filed, to wit:
This petition for review on certiorari assails the January
SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus. When any tribunal, 22, 2004 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully SP No. 79742, which affirmed the Orders dated July
neglects the performance of an act which the law 21, 20002 and July 17, 20033 of the Regional Trial
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, Court of Makati City, Branch 138 in SP Proc. Case No.
trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from 4549 denying petitioner's motion to dismiss; and its
the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such May 25, 2004 Resolution4 denying petitioner's motion
other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy for reconsideration.
and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the
person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in The facts are as follows:
the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and
praying that judgment be rendered commanding the On June 13, 1997, private respondent-minors Karen
respondent, immediately or at some other time to be Oanes Wei and Kamille Oanes Wei, represented by
specified by the court, to do the act required to be done their mother Remedios Oanes (Remedios), filed a
to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the petition for letters of administration5 before the
damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138. The
wrongful acts of the respondent. case was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 4549 and entitled
Intestate Estate of Sima Wei (a.k.a. Rufino Guy
A writ of mandamus can be issued only when Susim).
petitioners legal right to the performance of a particular
act which is sought to be compelled is clear and
Private respondents alleged that they are the duly
acknowledged illegitimate children of Sima Wei, who The Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for
died intestate in Makati City on October 29, 1992, reconsideration, hence, this petition.
leaving an estate valued at P10,000,000.00 consisting
of real and personal properties. His known heirs are his Petitioner argues that the Court of Appeals disregarded
surviving spouse Shirley Guy and children, Emy, existing rules on certification against forum shopping;
Jeanne, Cristina, George and Michael, all surnamed that the Release and Waiver of Claim executed by
Guy. Private respondents prayed for the appointment Remedios released and discharged the Guy family and
of a regular administrator for the orderly settlement of the estate of Sima Wei from any claims or liabilities;
Sima Wei's estate. They likewise prayed that, in the and that private respondents do not have the legal
meantime, petitioner Michael C. Guy, son of the personality to institute the petition for letters of
decedent, be appointed as Special Administrator of the administration as they failed to prove their filiation
estate. Attached to private respondents' petition was a during the lifetime of Sima Wei in accordance with
Certification Against Forum Shopping6 signed by their Article 175 of the Family Code.
counsel, Atty. Sedfrey A. Ordoez.
Private respondents contend that their counsel's
In his Comment/Opposition,7 petitioner prayed for the certification can be considered substantial compliance
dismissal of the petition. He asserted that his deceased with the rules on certification of non-forum shopping,
father left no debts and that his estate can be settled and that the petition raises no new issues to warrant
without securing letters of administration pursuant to the reversal of the decisions of the Regional Trial Court
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court. He further and the Court of Appeals.
argued that private respondents should have
established their status as illegitimate children during The issues for resolution are: 1) whether private
the lifetime of Sima Wei pursuant to Article 175 of the respondents' petition should be dismissed for failure to
Family Code. comply with the rules on certification of non-forum
shopping; 2) whether the Release and Waiver of Claim
The other heirs of Sima Wei filed a Joint Motion to precludes private respondents from claiming their
Dismiss8 on the ground that the certification against successional rights; and 3) whether private
forum shopping should have been signed by private respondents are barred by prescription from proving
respondents and not their counsel. They contended their filiation.
that Remedios should have executed the certification
on behalf of her minor daughters as mandated by The petition lacks merit.
Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court.
Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court provides that
In a Manifestation/Motion as Supplement to the Joint the certification of non-forum shopping should be
Motion to Dismiss,9 petitioner and his co-heirs alleged executed by the plaintiff or the principal party. Failure
that private respondents' claim had been paid, waived, to comply with the requirement shall be cause for
abandoned or otherwise extinguished by reason of dismissal of the case. However, a liberal application of
Remedios' June 7, 1993 Release and Waiver of Claim the rules is proper where the higher interest of justice
stating that in exchange for the financial and would be served. In Sy Chin v. Court of Appeals,11 we
educational assistance received from petitioner, ruled that while a petition may have been flawed where
Remedios and her minor children discharge the estate the certificate of non-forum shopping was signed only
of Sima Wei from any and all liabilities. by counsel and not by the party, this procedural lapse
may be overlooked in the interest of substantial
The Regional Trial Court denied the Joint Motion to justice.12 So it is in the present controversy where the
Dismiss as well as the Supplemental Motion to merits13 of the case and the absence of an intention to
Dismiss. It ruled that while the Release and Waiver of violate the rules with impunity should be considered as
Claim was signed by Remedios, it had not been compelling reasons to temper the strict application of
established that she was the duly constituted guardian the rules.
of her minor daughters. Thus, no renunciation of right
occurred. Applying a liberal application of the rules, the As regards Remedios' Release and Waiver of Claim,
trial court also rejected petitioner's objections on the the same does not bar private respondents from
certification against forum shopping. claiming successional rights. To be valid and effective,
a waiver must be couched in clear and unequivocal
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but was denied. terms which leave no doubt as to the intention of a
He filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of party to give up a right or benefit which legally pertains
Appeals which affirmed the orders of the Regional Trial to him. A waiver may not be attributed to a person
Court in its assailed Decision dated January 22, 2004, when its terms do not explicitly and clearly evince an
the dispositive portion of which states: intent to abandon a right.14

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present In this case, we find that there was no waiver of
petition is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE and hereditary rights. The Release and Waiver of Claim
accordingly DISMISSED, for lack of merit. does not state with clarity the purpose of its execution.
Consequently, the assailed Orders dated July 21, 2000 It merely states that Remedios received P300,000.00
and July 17, 2003 are hereby both AFFIRMED. and an educational plan for her minor daughters "by
Respondent Judge is hereby DIRECTED to resolve the way of financial assistance and in full settlement of any
controversy over the illegitimate filiation of the private and all claims of whatsoever nature and kind x x x
respondents (sic) minors [-] Karen Oanes Wei and against the estate of the late Rufino Guy Susim."15
Kamille Oanes Wei who are claiming successional Considering that the document did not specifically
rights in the intestate estate of the deceased Sima Wei, mention private respondents' hereditary share in the
a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim. estate of Sima Wei, it cannot be construed as a waiver
of successional rights.
SO ORDERED.10
Moreover, even assuming that Remedios truly waived
the hereditary rights of private respondents, such We ruled in Bernabe v. Alejo18 that illegitimate
waiver will not bar the latter's claim. Article 1044 of the children who were still minors at the time the Family
Civil Code, provides: Code took effect and whose putative parent died
during their minority are given the right to seek
ART. 1044. Any person having the free disposal of his recognition for a period of up to four years from
property may accept or repudiate an inheritance. attaining majority age. This vested right was not
impaired or taken away by the passage of the Family
Any inheritance left to minors or incapacitated persons Code.19
may be accepted by their parents or guardians.
Parents or guardians may repudiate the inheritance left On the other hand, Articles 172, 173 and 175 of the
to their wards only by judicial authorization. Family Code, which superseded Article 285 of the Civil
Code, provide:
The right to accept an inheritance left to the poor shall
belong to the persons designated by the testator to ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is
determine the beneficiaries and distribute the property, established by any of the following:
or in their default, to those mentioned in Article 1030.
(Emphasis supplied) (1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or
a final judgment; or
Parents and guardians may not therefore repudiate the
inheritance of their wards without judicial approval. (2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public
This is because repudiation amounts to an alienation of document or a private handwritten instrument and
property16 which must pass the court's scrutiny in signed by the parent concerned.
order to protect the interest of the ward. Not having
been judicially authorized, the Release and Waiver of In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the
Claim in the instant case is void and will not bar private legitimate filiation shall be proved by:
respondents from asserting their rights as heirs of the
deceased. (1) The open and continuous possession of the status
of a legitimate child; or
Furthermore, it must be emphasized that waiver is the
intentional relinquishment of a known right. Where one (2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and
lacks knowledge of a right, there is no basis upon special laws.
which waiver of it can rest. Ignorance of a material fact
negates waiver, and waiver cannot be established by a ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be
consent given under a mistake or misapprehension of brought by the child during his or her lifetime and shall
fact.17 be transmitted to the heirs should the child die during
minority or in a state of insanity. In these cases, the
In the present case, private respondents could not heirs shall have a period of five years within which to
have possibly waived their successional rights because institute the action.
they are yet to prove their status as acknowledged
illegitimate children of the deceased. Petitioner himself The action already commenced by the child shall
has consistently denied that private respondents are survive notwithstanding the death of either or both of
his co-heirs. It would thus be inconsistent to rule that the parties.
they waived their hereditary rights when petitioner
claims that they do not have such right. Hence, ART. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their
petitioner's invocation of waiver on the part of private illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same,
respondents must fail. evidence as legitimate children.

Anent the issue on private respondents' filiation, we The action must be brought within the same period
agree with the Court of Appeals that a ruling on the specified in Article 173, except when the action is
same would be premature considering that private based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which
respondents have yet to present evidence. Before the case the action may be brought during the lifetime of
Family Code took effect, the governing law on actions the alleged parent.
for recognition of illegitimate children was Article 285 of
the Civil Code, to wit: Under the Family Code, when filiation of an illegitimate
child is established by a record of birth appearing in the
ART. 285. The action for the recognition of natural civil register or a final judgment, or an admission of
children may be brought only during the lifetime of the filiation in a public document or a private handwritten
presumed parents, except in the following cases: instrument signed by the parent concerned, the action
for recognition may be brought by the child during his
(1) If the father or mother died during the minority of or her lifetime. However, if the action is based upon
the child, in which case the latter may file the action open and continuous possession of the status of an
before the expiration of four years from the attainment illegitimate child, or any other means allowed by the
of his majority; rules or special laws, it may only be brought during the
lifetime of the alleged parent.
(2) If after the death of the father or of the mother a
document should appear of which nothing had been It is clear therefore that the resolution of the issue of
heard and in which either or both parents recognize the prescription depends on the type of evidence to be
child. adduced by private respondents in proving their
filiation. However, it would be impossible to determine
In this case, the action must be commenced within four the same in this case as there has been no reception
years from the finding of the document. (Emphasis of evidence yet. This Court is not a trier of facts. Such
supplied)
matters may be resolved only by the Regional Trial Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by
Court after a full-blown trial. Bathala and she heard voices coming from inside the
bamboo. "Oh North Wind! North Wind! Please let us
While the original action filed by private respondents out!," the voices said. She pecked the reed once, then
was a petition for letters of administration, the trial twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit
court is not precluded from receiving evidence on open. Out came two human beings; one was a male
private respondents' filiation. Its jurisdiction extends to and the other was a female. Amihan named the man
matters incidental and collateral to the exercise of its "Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda"
recognized powers in handling the settlement of the (Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and Maganda)
estate, including the determination of the status of
each heir.20 That the two causes of action, one to When is a man a man and when is a woman a
compel recognition and the other to claim inheritance, woman? In particular, does the law recognize the
may be joined in one complaint is not new in our changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs and
jurisprudence.21 As held in Briz v. Briz:22 counseling with regard to a persons sex? May a
person successfully petition for a change of name and
The question whether a person in the position of the sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect the result
present plaintiff can in any event maintain a complex of a sex reassignment surgery?
action to compel recognition as a natural child and at
the same time to obtain ulterior relief in the character of On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto
heir, is one which in the opinion of this court must be Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first
answered in the affirmative, provided always that the name and sex in his birth certificate in the Regional
conditions justifying the joinder of the two distinct Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The petition, docketed
causes of action are present in the particular case. In as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil
other words, there is no absolute necessity requiring registrar of Manila as respondent.
that the action to compel acknowledgment should have
been instituted and prosecuted to a successful Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the
conclusion prior to the action in which that same City of Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines Silverio
plaintiff seeks additional relief in the character of heir. and Anita Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name
Certainly, there is nothing so peculiar to the action to was registered as "Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio" in
compel acknowledgment as to require that a rule his certificate of live birth (birth certificate). His sex was
should be here applied different from that generally registered as "male."
applicable in other cases. x x x
He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is,
The conclusion above stated, though not heretofore "anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a
explicitly formulated by this court, is undoubtedly to female" and that he had always identified himself with
some extent supported by our prior decisions. Thus, girls since childhood.1 Feeling trapped in a mans
we have held in numerous cases, and the doctrine body, he consulted several doctors in the United
must be considered well settled, that a natural child States. He underwent psychological examination,
having a right to compel acknowledgment, but who has hormone treatment and breast augmentation. His
not been in fact acknowledged, may maintain partition attempts to transform himself to a "woman" culminated
proceedings for the division of the inheritance against on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex
his coheirs (Siguiong vs. Siguiong, 8 Phil., 5; Tiamson reassignment surgery2 in Bangkok, Thailand. He was
vs. Tiamson, 32 Phil., 62); and the same person may thereafter examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr.,
intervene in proceedings for the distribution of the a plastic and reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines,
estate of his deceased natural father, or mother who issued a medical certificate attesting that he
(Capistrano vs. Fabella, 8 Phil., 135; Conde vs. Abaya, (petitioner) had in fact undergone the procedure.
13 Phil., 249; Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil., 855). In
neither of these situations has it been thought From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in
necessary for the plaintiff to show a prior decree fact engaged to be married. He then sought to have his
compelling acknowledgment. The obvious reason is name in his birth certificate changed from "Rommel
that in partition suits and distribution proceedings the Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from "male" to "female."
other persons who might take by inheritance are before
the court; and the declaration of heirship is appropriate An order setting the case for initial hearing was
to such proceedings. published in the Peoples Journal Tonight, a
newspaper of general circulation in Metro Manila, for
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The three consecutive weeks.3 Copies of the order were
Decision dated January 22, 2004 of the Court of sent to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742 affirming the denial the civil registrar of Manila.
of petitioner's motion to dismiss; and its Resolution
dated May 25, 2004 denying petitioner's motion for On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional
reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. Let the records be requirements were established. No opposition to the
REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, petition was made.
Branch 138 for further proceedings. SO ORDERED.
During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also
ARTICLE 9 DUTY OF THE COURT TO RENDER presented Dr. Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American
fianc, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses.
a.) Silverio vs Republic
On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision4 in
When God created man, He made him in the likeness favor of petitioner. Its relevant portions read:
of God; He created them male and female. (Genesis
5:1-2) Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any
law or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any
unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of making
his birth records compatible with his present sex. Petitioner believes that after having acquired the
physical features of a female, he became entitled to
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is the civil registry changes sought. We disagree.
entitled to the relief asked for.
The State has an interest in the names borne by
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative. individuals and entities for purposes of identification.11
A change of name is a privilege, not a right.12 Petitions
Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the for change of name are controlled by statutes.13 In this
petition would be more in consonance with the connection, Article 376 of the Civil Code provides:
principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [re-
assignment], petitioner, who has always felt, thought ART. 376. No person can change his name or
and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique surname without judicial authority.
of a female. Petitioners misfortune to be trapped in a
mans body is not his own doing and should not be in This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048
any way taken against him. (Clerical Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA 9048
provides:
Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or]
prejudice will be caused to anybody or the community SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or
in granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the Typographical Error and Change of First Name or
petition would bring the much-awaited happiness on Nickname. No entry in a civil register shall be
the part of the petitioner and her [fianc] and the changed or corrected without a judicial order, except
realization of their dreams. for clerical or typographical errors and change of first
name or nickname which can be corrected or changed
Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause by the concerned city or municipal civil registrar or
or ground to deny the present petition despite due consul general in accordance with the provisions of this
notice and publication thereof. Even the State, through Act and its implementing rules and regulations.
the [OSG] has not seen fit to interpose any
[o]pposition. RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.14 It
vests the power and authority to entertain petitions for
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered change of first name to the city or municipal civil
GRANTING the petition and ordering the Civil registrar or consul general concerned. Under the law,
Registrar of Manila to change the entries appearing in therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of
the Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner, specifically for first name is now primarily lodged with the
petitioners first name from "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY aforementioned administrative officers. The intent and
and petitioners gender from "Male" to FEMALE. 5 effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name
from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and
On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil
(Republic), thru the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an
the Court of Appeals.6 It alleged that there is no law administrative petition for change of name is first filed
allowing the change of entries in the birth certificate by and subsequently denied.15 It likewise lays down the
reason of sex alteration. corresponding venue,16 form17 and procedure. In
sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating
On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered change of first name are primarily administrative in
a decision8 in favor of the Republic. It ruled that the nature, not judicial.
trial courts decision lacked legal basis. There is no law
allowing the change of either name or sex in the RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which
certificate of birth on the ground of sex reassignment change of first name may be allowed:
through surgery. Thus, the Court of Appeals granted
the Republics petition, set aside the decision of the SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or
trial court and ordered the dismissal of SP Case No. Nickname. The petition for change of first name or
02-105207. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it nickname may be allowed in any of the following
was denied.9 Hence, this petition. cases:

Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his (1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to
name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed under be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely
Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and difficult to write or pronounce;
108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048.10
(2) The new first name or nickname has been
The petition lacks merit. habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and
he has been publicly known by that first name or
A Persons First Name Cannot Be Changed On the nickname in the community; or
Ground of Sex Reassignment
(3) The change will avoid confusion.
Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground
for his petition for change of name and sex. As found Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first
by the trial court: name was his sex reassignment. He intended to make
his first name compatible with the sex he thought he
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any transformed himself into through surgery. However, a
law or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or
unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of making civil status.18 RA 9048 does not sanction a change of
his birth records compatible with his present sex. first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather
(emphasis supplied) than avoiding confusion, changing petitioners first
name for his declared purpose may only create grave Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry
complications in the civil registry and the public involving the change of sex is not a mere clerical or
interest. typographical error. It is a substantial change for which
the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of
Before a person can legally change his given name, he Court.
must present proper or reasonable cause or any
compelling reason justifying such change.19 In The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code
addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by and correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court
the use of his true and official name.20 In this case, he are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil
failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice that he Code:24
might suffer as a result of using his true and official
name. ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees
concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded
In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it in the civil register.
prayed for the change of petitioners first name was not
within that courts primary jurisdiction as the petition ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil
should have been filed with the local civil registrar register:
concerned, assuming it could be legally done. It was
an improper remedy because the proper remedy was (1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal
administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6) judgments
was also filed in the wrong venue as the proper venue declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7)
was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of
his birth certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12)
merit since the use of his true and official name does recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14)
not prejudice him at all. For all these reasons, the judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary
Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioners emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name.
petition in so far as the change of his first name was
concerned. The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under
Article 407 of the Civil Code include even those that
No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth occur after birth.25 However, no reasonable
Certificate As To Sex On the Ground of Sex interpretation of the provision can justify the conclusion
Reassignment that it covers the correction on the ground of sex
reassignment.
The determination of a persons sex appearing in his
birth certificate is a legal issue and the court must look To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to
to the statutes.21 In this connection, Article 412 of the remove the faults or error from" while to change means
Civil Code provides: "to replace something with something else of the same
kind or with something that serves as a substitute."26
ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be The birth certificate of petitioner contained no error. All
changed or corrected without a judicial order. entries therein, including those corresponding to his
first name and sex, were all correct. No correction is
Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this necessary.
provision was amended by RA 9048 in so far as
clerical or typographical errors are involved. The Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the
correction or change of such matters can now be made civil registry of certain acts (such as legitimations,
through administrative proceedings and without the acknowledgments of illegitimate children and
need for a judicial order. In effect, RA 9048 removed naturalization), events (such as births, marriages,
from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such
correction of such errors.22 Rule 108 now applies only as legal separations, annulments of marriage,
to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the declarations of nullity of marriages, adoptions,
civil register.23 naturalization, loss or recovery of citizenship, civil
interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and
Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or changes of name). These acts, events and judicial
typographical error" is: decrees produce legal consequences that touch upon
the legal capacity, status and nationality of a person.
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. As used in this Act, Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the laws. In
the following terms shall mean: contrast, sex reassignment is not among those acts or
events mentioned in Article 407. Neither is it
xxx xxx xxx recognized nor even mentioned by any law, expressly
or impliedly.
(3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a mistake
committed in the performance of clerical work in "Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal
writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the situation (that is, the sum total of capacities and
civil register that is harmless and innocuous, such as incapacities) of a person in view of his age, nationality
misspelled name or misspelled place of birth or the and his family membership.27
like, which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the
understanding, and can be corrected or changed only The status of a person in law includes all his personal
by reference to other existing record or records: qualities and relations, more or less permanent in
Provided, however, That no correction must involve the nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such
change of nationality, age, status or sex of the as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being
petitioner. (emphasis supplied) married or not. The comprehensive term status
include such matters as the beginning and end of legal
personality, capacity to have rights in general, family
relations, and its various aspects, such as birth, Since the statutory language of the Civil Register Law
legitimation, adoption, emancipation, marriage, was enacted in the early 1900s and remains
divorce, and sometimes even succession.28 unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term "sex" as
(emphasis supplied) used then is something alterable through surgery or
something that allows a post-operative male-to-female
A persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and transsexual to be included in the category "female."
family relations. It is a part of a persons legal capacity
and civil status. In this connection, Article 413 of the For these reasons, while petitioner may have
Civil Code provides: succeeded in altering his body and appearance
through the intervention of modern surgery, no law
ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil
registration of civil status shall be governed by special registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for
laws. his petition for the correction or change of the entries in
his birth certificate.
But there is no such special law in the Philippines
governing sex reassignment and its effects. This is Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First
fatal to petitioners cause. Name or Sex Be Changed on the Ground of Equity

Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was
Law) provides: in consonance with the principles of justice and equity.
It believed that allowing the petition would cause no
SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. The harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This is wrong.
declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at
the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and
parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the wide-ranging legal and public policy consequences.
registration of a birth in the civil register. Such First, even the trial court itself found that the petition
declaration shall be exempt from documentary stamp was but petitioners first step towards his eventual
tax and shall be sent to the local civil registrar not later marriage to his male fianc. However, marriage, one of
than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or the most sacred social institutions, is a special contract
midwife in attendance at the birth or by either parent of of permanent union between a man and a woman.37
the newborn child. One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of
the contracting parties who must be a male and a
In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall female.38 To grant the changes sought by petitioner
certify to the following facts: (a) date and hour of birth; will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter the laws
(b) sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship on marriage and family relations. It will allow the union
and religion of parents or, in case the father is not of a man with another man who has undergone sex
known, of the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents; reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative
(e) place where the infant was born; and (f) such other transsexual). Second, there are various laws which
data as may be required in the regulations to be apply particularly to women such as the provisions of
issued. the Labor Code on employment of women,39 certain
felonies under the Revised Penal Code40 and the
xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied) presumption of survivorship in case of calamities under
Rule 131 of the Rules of Court,41 among others.
Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a These laws underscore the public policy in relation to
historical record of the facts as they existed at the time women which could be substantially affected if
of birth.29 Thus, the sex of a person is determined at petitioners petition were to be granted.
birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the physician
or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant. It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that
Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex "[n]o judge or court shall decline to render judgment by
reassignment, the determination of a persons sex reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the
made at the time of his or her birth, if not attended by law." However, it is not a license for courts to engage
error,30 is immutable.31 in judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to apply
or interpret the law, not to make or amend it.
When words are not defined in a statute they are to be
given their common and ordinary meaning in the In our system of government, it is for the legislature,
absence of a contrary legislative intent. The words should it choose to do so, to determine what guidelines
"sex," "male" and "female" as used in the Civil Register should govern the recognition of the effects of sex
Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all reassignment. The need for legislative guidelines
other laws) should therefore be understood in their becomes particularly important in this case where the
common and ordinary usage, there being no legislative claims asserted are statute-based.
intent to the contrary. In this connection, sex is defined
as "the sum of peculiarities of structure and function To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions
that distinguish a male from a female"32 or "the for change of first name and for correction or change of
distinction between male and female."33 Female is entries in the civil registry, where they may be filed,
"the sex that produces ova or bears young"34 and what grounds may be invoked, what proof must be
male is "the sex that has organs to produce presented and what procedures shall be observed. If
spermatozoa for fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words the legislature intends to confer on a person who has
"male" and "female" in everyday understanding do not undergone sex reassignment the privilege to change
include persons who have undergone sex his name and sex to conform with his reassigned sex,
reassignment. Furthermore, "words that are employed it has to enact legislation laying down the guidelines in
in a statute which had at the time a well-known turn governing the conferment of that privilege.
meaning are presumed to have been used in that
sense unless the context compels to the contrary."36
It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write Because of the foregoing circumstances, petitioner
a protocol on when a person may be recognized as filed a complaint affidavit with the Provincial Prosecutor
having successfully changed his sex. However, this of Cebu City against respondent for violation of Section
Court has no authority to fashion a law on that matter, 5, paragraph E(2) of R.A. No. 9262 for the latters
or on anything else. The Court cannot enact a law unjust refusal to support his minor child with
where no law exists. It can only apply or interpret the petitioner.13 Respondent submitted his counter-
written word of its co-equal branch of government, affidavit thereto, to which petitioner also submitted her
Congress. reply-affidavit.14 Thereafter, the Provincial Prosecutor
of Cebu City issued a Resolution recommending the
Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also filing of an information for the crime charged against
entitled to a life of happiness, contentment and [the] herein respondent.
realization of their dreams." No argument about that.
The Court recognizes that there are people whose The information, which was filed with the RTC-Cebu
preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the and raffled to Branch 20 thereof, states that:
commonly recognized parameters of social convention
and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal. That sometime in the year 1995 and up to the present,
However, the remedies petitioner seeks involve more or less, in the Municipality of Minglanilla,
questions of public policy to be addressed solely by the Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the
legislature, not by the courts. jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. deliberately deprive, refuse and still continue to deprive
his son RODERIGO NORJO VAN WILSEM, a fourteen
ARTICLE 14 PENAL LAWS (14) year old minor, of financial support legally due
him, resulting in economic abuse to the victim.
a.) Del Socorro vs Wilsem CONTRARY TO LAW.15

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari Upon motion and after notice and hearing, the RTC-
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse Cebu issued a Hold Departure Order against
and set aside the Orders1 dated February 19, 2010 respondent.16 Consequently, respondent was arrested
and September 1, 2010, respectively, of the Regional and, subsequently, posted bail.17 Petitioner also filed a
Trial Court of Cebu City (RTC-Cebu), which dismissed Motion/Application of Permanent Protection Order to
the criminal case entitled People of the Philippines v. which respondent filed his Opposition.18 Pending the
Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem, docketed as resolution thereof, respondent was arraigned.19
Criminal Case No. CBU-85503, for violation of Subsequently, without the RTC-Cebu having resolved
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262, otherwise known as the the application of the protection order, respondent filed
Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of: (1) lack of
of 2004. jurisdiction over the offense charged; and (2)
prescription of the crime charged.20
The following facts are culled from the records:
On February 19, 2010, the RTC-Cebu issued the
Petitioner Norma A. Del Socorro and respondent Ernst herein assailed Order,21 dismissing the instant
Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem contracted marriage in criminal case against respondent on the ground that
Holland on September 25, 1990.2 On January 19, the facts charged in the information do not constitute
1994, they were blessed with a son named Roderigo an offense with respect to the respondent who is
Norjo Van Wilsem, who at the time of the filing of the analien, the dispositive part of which states:
instant petition was sixteen (16) years of age.3
WHEREFORE, the Court finds that the facts charged
Unfortunately, their marriage bond ended on July 19, in the information do not constitute an offense with
1995 by virtue of a Divorce Decree issued by the respect to the accused, he being an alien, and
appropriate Court of Holland.4 At that time, their son accordingly, orders this case DISMISSED.
was only eighteen (18) months old.5 Thereafter,
petitioner and her son came home to the Philippines.6 The bail bond posted by accused Ernst Johan
Brinkman Van Wilsem for his provisional liberty
According to petitioner, respondentmade a promise to ishereby cancelled (sic) and ordered released.
provide monthly support to their son in the amount of
Two Hundred Fifty (250) Guildene (which is equivalent SO ORDERED.
to Php17,500.00 more or less).7 However, since the
arrival of petitioner and her son in the Philippines, Cebu City, Philippines, February 19, 2010.22
respondent never gave support to the son, Roderigo.8
Thereafter, petitioner filed her Motion for
Not long thereafter, respondent cameto the Philippines Reconsideration thereto reiterating respondents
and remarried in Pinamungahan, Cebu, and since obligation to support their child under Article 19523 of
then, have been residing thereat.9 Respondent and his the Family Code, thus, failure todo so makes him liable
new wife established a business known as Paree under R.A. No. 9262 which "equally applies to all
Catering, located at Barangay Tajao, Municipality of persons in the Philippines who are obliged to support
Pinamungahan, Cebu City.10 To date, all the parties, their minor children regardless of the obligors
including their son, Roderigo, are presently living in nationality."24
Cebu City.11
On September 1, 2010, the lower court issued an
On August 28, 2009, petitioner, through her counsel, Order25 denying petitioners Motion for
sent a letter demanding for support from respondent. Reconsideration and reiterating its previous ruling.
However, respondent refused to receive the letter.12 Thus:
x x x The arguments therein presented are basically a what the law provides on the given set of
rehash of those advanced earlier in the memorandum circumstances.29
of the prosecution. Thus, the court hereby reiterates its
ruling that since the accused is a foreign national he is Indeed, the issues submitted to us for resolution
not subject to our national law (The Family Code) in involve questions of law the response thereto
regard to a parents duty and obligation to givesupport concerns the correct application of law and
to his child. Consequently, he cannot be charged of jurisprudence on a given set of facts, i.e.,whether or
violating R.A. 9262 for his alleged failure to support his not a foreign national has an obligation to support his
child. Unless it is conclusively established that R.A. minor child under Philippine law; and whether or not he
9262 applies to a foreigner who fails to give support can be held criminally liable under R.A. No. 9262 for
tohis child, notwithstanding that he is not bound by our his unjustified failure to do so.
domestic law which mandates a parent to give such
support, it is the considered opinion of the court that no It cannot be negated, moreover, that the instant
prima faciecase exists against the accused herein, petition highlights a novel question of law concerning
hence, the case should be dismissed. the liability of a foreign national who allegedly commits
acts and omissions punishable under special criminal
WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is laws, specifically in relation to family rights and duties.
hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The inimitability of the factual milieu of the present
case, therefore, deserves a definitive ruling by this
SO ORDERED. Court, which will eventually serve as a guidepost for
future cases. Furthermore, dismissing the instant
Cebu City, Philippines, September 1, 2010.26 petition and remanding the same to the CA would only
waste the time, effort and resources of the courts.
Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari Thus, in the present case, considerations of efficiency
raising the following issues: and economy in the administration of justice should
prevail over the observance of the hierarchy of courts.
1. Whether or not a foreign national has an obligation
to support his minor child under Philippine law; and Now, on the matter of the substantive issues, We find
the petition meritorious. Nonetheless, we do not fully
2. Whether or not a foreign national can be held agree with petitioners contentions.
criminally liable under R.A. No. 9262 for his unjustified
failure to support his minor child.27 To determine whether or not a person is criminally
liable under R.A. No. 9262, it is imperative that the
At the outset, let it be emphasized that We are taking legal obligation to support exists.
cognizance of the instant petition despite the fact that
the same was directly lodged with the Supreme Court, Petitioner invokes Article 19530 of the Family Code,
consistent with the ruling in Republic v. Sunvar Realty which provides the parents obligation to support his
Development Corporation,28 which lays down the child. Petitioner contends that notwithstanding the
instances when a ruling of the trial court may be existence of a divorce decree issued in relation to
brought on appeal directly to the Supreme Court Article 26 of the Family Code,31 respondent is not
without violating the doctrine of hierarchy of courts, to excused from complying with his obligation to support
wit: his minor child with petitioner.

x x x Nevertheless, the Rules do not prohibit any of the On the other hand, respondent contends that there is
parties from filing a Rule 45 Petition with this Court, in no sufficient and clear basis presented by petitioner
case only questions of law are raised or involved. This that she, as well as her minor son, are entitled to
latter situation was one that petitioners found financial support.32 Respondent also added that by
themselves in when they filed the instant Petition to reason of the Divorce Decree, he is not obligated
raise only questions of law. In Republic v. Malabanan, topetitioner for any financial support.33
the Court clarified the three modes of appeal from
decisions of the RTC, to wit: (1) by ordinary appeal or On this point, we agree with respondent that petitioner
appeal by writ of error under Rule 41, whereby cannot rely on Article 19534 of the New Civil Code in
judgment was rendered in a civil or criminal action by demanding support from respondent, who is a foreign
the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction; (2) by citizen, since Article 1535 of the New Civil Code
a petition for review under Rule 42, whereby judgment stresses the principle of nationality. In other words,
was rendered by the RTC in the exercise of its insofar as Philippine laws are concerned, specifically
appellate jurisdiction; and (3) by a petition for review on the provisions of the Family Code on support, the
certiorari before the Supreme Court under Rule 45. same only applies to Filipino citizens. By analogy, the
"The first mode of appeal is taken to the [Court of same principle applies to foreigners such that they are
Appeals] on questions of fact or mixed questions of governed by their national law with respect to family
fact and law. The second mode of appeal is brought to rights and duties.36
the CA on questions of fact, of law, or mixed questions
of fact and law. The third mode of appealis elevated to The obligation to give support to a child is a matter that
the Supreme Court only on questions of law." falls under family rights and duties. Since the
(Emphasis supplied) respondent is a citizen of Holland or the Netherlands,
we agree with the RTC-Cebu that he is subject to the
There is a question of law when the issue does not call laws of his country, not to Philippinelaw, as to whether
for an examination of the probative value of the he is obliged to give support to his child, as well as the
evidence presented or of the truth or falsehood of the consequences of his failure to do so.37
facts being admitted, and the doubt concerns the
correct application of law and jurisprudence on the In the case of Vivo v. Cloribel,38 the Court held that
matter. The resolution of the issue must rest solely on
Furthermore, being still aliens, they are not in position proved in accordance with Section 24, Rule 132 of the
to invoke the provisions of the Civil Code of the Rules of Court and the jurisprudence laid down in Yao
Philippines, for that Code cleaves to the principle that Kee, et al. vs. Sy-Gonzales, said foreign law would still
family rights and duties are governed by their personal not find applicability.
law, i.e.,the laws of the nation to which they belong
even when staying in a foreign country (cf. Civil Code, Thus, when the foreign law, judgment or contract is
Article 15).39 contrary to a sound and established public policy of the
forum, the said foreign law, judgment or order shall not
It cannot be gainsaid, therefore, that the respondent is be applied.
not obliged to support petitioners son under Article195
of the Family Code as a consequence of the Divorce Additionally, prohibitive laws concerning persons, their
Covenant obtained in Holland. This does not, however, acts or property, and those which have for their object
mean that respondent is not obliged to support public order, public policy and good customs shall not
petitioners son altogether. be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments
promulgated, or by determinations or conventions
In international law, the party who wants to have a agreed upon in a foreign country.
foreign law applied to a dispute or case has the burden
of proving the foreign law.40 In the present case, The public policy sought to be protected in the instant
respondent hastily concludes that being a national of case is the principle imbedded in our jurisdiction
the Netherlands, he is governed by such laws on the proscribing the splitting up of a single cause of action.
matter of provision of and capacity to support.41 While
respondent pleaded the laws of the Netherlands in Section 4, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
advancing his position that he is not obliged to support is pertinent
his son, he never proved the same.

It is incumbent upon respondent to plead and prove
that the national law of the Netherlands does not If two or more suits are instituted on the basis of the
impose upon the parents the obligation to support their same cause of action, the filing of one or a judgment
child (either before, during or after the issuance of a upon the merits in any one is available as a ground for
divorce decree), because Llorente v. Court of the dismissal of the others. Moreover, foreign law
Appeals,42 has already enunciated that: should not be applied when its application would work
undeniable injustice to the citizens or residents of the
True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our forum. To give justice is the most important function of
jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to law; hence, a law, or judgment or contract that is
takejudicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they obviously unjust negates the fundamental principles of
must be alleged and proved.43 Conflict of Laws.48

In view of respondents failure to prove the national law Applying the foregoing, even if the laws of the
of the Netherlands in his favor, the doctrine of Netherlands neither enforce a parents obligation to
processual presumption shall govern. Under this support his child nor penalize the noncompliance
doctrine, if the foreign law involved is not properly therewith, such obligation is still duly enforceable in the
pleaded and proved, our courts will presume that the Philippines because it would be of great injustice to the
foreign law is the same as our local or domestic or child to be denied of financial support when the latter is
internal law.44 Thus, since the law of the Netherlands entitled thereto.
as regards the obligation to support has not been
properly pleaded and proved in the instant case, it is We emphasize, however, that as to petitioner herself,
presumed to be the same with Philippine law, which respondent is no longer liable to support his former
enforces the obligation of parents to support their wife, in consonance with the ruling in San Luis v. San
children and penalizing the non-compliance therewith. Luis,49 to wit:

Moreover, while in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,45 the Court As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the
held that a divorce obtained in a foreign land as well as Court ruled that she should no longerbe considered
its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines in marriedto the alien spouse. Further, she should not be
view of the nationality principle on the matter of status required to perform her marital duties and obligations.
of persons, the Divorce Covenant presented by It held:
respondent does not completely show that he is
notliable to give support to his son after the divorce To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under
decree was issued. Emphasis is placed on petitioners our laws, petitioner has to be considered still married to
allegation that under the second page of the aforesaid private respondent and still subject to a wife's
covenant, respondents obligation to support his child obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code
is specifically stated,46 which was not disputed by cannot be just. Petitioner should not be obliged to live
respondent. together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render
support to private respondent. The latter should not
We likewise agree with petitioner that notwithstanding continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to
that the national law of respondent states that parents conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
have no obligation to support their children or that such against in her own country if the ends of justice are to
obligation is not punishable by law, said law would still be served. (Emphasis added)50
not find applicability,in light of the ruling in Bank of
America, NT and SA v. American Realty Based on the foregoing legal precepts, we find that
Corporation,47 to wit: respondent may be made liable under Section 5(e) and
(i) of R.A. No. 9262 for unjustly refusing or failing to
In the instant case, assuming arguendo that the give support topetitioners son, to wit:
English Law on the matter were properly pleaded and
SECTION 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and
Their Children.- The crime of violence against women Given, however, that the issue on whether respondent
and their children is committed through any of the has provided support to petitioners child calls for an
following acts: examination of the probative value of the evidence
presented, and the truth and falsehood of facts being
xxxx admitted, we hereby remand the determination of this
issue to the RTC-Cebu which has jurisdiction over the
(e) Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or case.
her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her
child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders
which the woman or her child has the right to engage dated February 19, 2010 and September 1, 2010,
in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman's or respectively, of the Regional Trial Court of the City of
her child's freedom of movement or conduct by force or Cebu are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of case is REMANDED to the same court to conduct
physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against further proceedings based on the merits of the case.
the woman or child. This shall include, butnot limited SO ORDERED.
to, the following acts committed with the purpose or
effect of controlling or restricting the woman's or her ARTICLE 15 NATIONALITY THEORY
child's movement or conduct:
a.) Pilapil vs Ibay-Somera
xxxx
An ill-starred marriage of a Filipina and a foreigner
(2) Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or which ended in a foreign absolute divorce, only to be
her children of financial support legally due her or her followed by a criminal infidelity suit of the latter against
family, or deliberately providing the woman's children the former, provides Us the opportunity to lay down a
insufficient financial support; x x x x decisional rule on what hitherto appears to be an
unresolved jurisdictional question.
(i) Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule
or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but On September 7, 1979, petitioner Imelda Manalaysay
not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, Pilapil, a Filipino citizen, and private respondent Erich
and denial of financial support or custody of minor Ekkehard Geiling, a German national, were married
childrenof access to the woman's child/children.51 before the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths at
Friedensweiler in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Under the aforesaid special law, the deprivation or The marriage started auspiciously enough, and the
denial of financial support to the child is considered couple lived together for some time in Malate, Manila
anact of violence against women and children. where their only child, Isabella Pilapil Geiling, was born
on April 20, 1980. 1
In addition, considering that respondent is currently
living in the Philippines, we find strength in petitioners Thereafter, marital discord set in, with mutual
claim that the Territoriality Principle in criminal law, in recriminations between the spouses, followed by a
relation to Article 14 of the New Civil Code, applies to separation de facto between them.
the instant case, which provides that: "[p]enal laws and
those of public security and safety shall be obligatory After about three and a half years of marriage, such
upon all who live and sojourn in Philippine territory, connubial disharmony eventuated in private
subject to the principle of public international law and respondent initiating a divorce proceeding against
to treaty stipulations." On this score, it is indisputable petitioner in Germany before the Schoneberg Local
that the alleged continuing acts of respondent in Court in January, 1983. He claimed that there was
refusing to support his child with petitioner is failure of their marriage and that they had been living
committed here in the Philippines as all of the parties apart since April, 1982. 2
herein are residents of the Province of Cebu City. As
such, our courts have territorial jurisdiction over the Petitioner, on the other hand, filed an action for legal
offense charged against respondent. It is likewise separation, support and separation of property before
irrefutable that jurisdiction over the respondent was the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXXII, on
acquired upon his arrest. January 23, 1983 where the same is still pending as
Civil Case No. 83-15866. 3
Finally, we do not agree with respondents argument
that granting, but not admitting, that there is a legal On January 15, 1986, Division 20 of the Schoneberg
basis for charging violation of R.A. No. 9262 in the Local Court, Federal Republic of Germany,
instant case, the criminal liability has been promulgated a decree of divorce on the ground of
extinguished on the ground of prescription of crime52 failure of marriage of the spouses. The custody of the
under Section 24 of R.A. No. 9262, which provides child was granted to petitioner. The records show that
that: under German law said court was locally and
internationally competent for the divorce proceeding
SECTION 24. Prescriptive Period. Acts falling under and that the dissolution of said marriage was legally
Sections 5(a) to 5(f) shall prescribe in twenty (20) founded on and authorized by the applicable law of
years. Acts falling under Sections 5(g) to 5(I) shall that foreign jurisdiction. 4
prescribe in ten (10) years.
On June 27, 1986, or more than five months after the
The act of denying support to a child under Section issuance of the divorce decree, private respondent
5(e)(2) and (i) of R.A. No. 9262 is a continuing filed two complaints for adultery before the City Fiscal
offense,53 which started in 1995 but is still ongoing at of Manila alleging that, while still married to said
present. Accordingly, the crime charged in the instant respondent, petitioner "had an affair with a certain
case has clearly not prescribed. William Chia as early as 1982 and with yet another
man named Jesus Chua sometime in 1983". Assistant 1987 and from further proceeding with Criminal Case
Fiscal Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr., after the No. 87-52435. Subsequently, on March 23, 1988
corresponding investigation, recommended the Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez acted on the
dismissal of the cases on the ground of insufficiency of aforesaid petitions for review and, upholding
evidence. 5 However, upon review, the respondent city petitioner's ratiocinations, issued a resolution directing
fiscal approved a resolution, dated January 8, 1986, the respondent city fiscal to move for the dismissal of
directing the filing of two complaints for adultery the complaints against the petitioner. 16
against the petitioner. 6 The complaints were
accordingly filed and were eventually raffled to two We find this petition meritorious. The writs prayed for
branches of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. The shall accordingly issue.
case entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Imelda
Pilapil and William Chia", docketed as Criminal Case Under Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, 17 the
No. 87-52435, was assigned to Branch XXVI presided crime of adultery, as well as four other crimes against
by the respondent judge; while the other case, "People chastity, cannot be prosecuted except upon a sworn
of the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and James Chua", written complaint filed by the offended spouse. It has
docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52434 went to the long since been established, with unwavering
sala of Judge Leonardo Cruz, Branch XXV, of the consistency, that compliance with this rule is a
same court. 7 jurisdictional, and not merely a formal, requirement. 18
While in point of strict law the jurisdiction of the court
On March 14, 1987, petitioner filed a petition with the over the offense is vested in it by the Judiciary Law,
Secretary of Justice asking that the aforesaid the requirement for a sworn written complaint is just as
resolution of respondent fiscal be set aside and the jurisdictional a mandate since it is that complaint which
cases against her be dismissed. 8 A similar petition starts the prosecutory proceeding 19 and without which
was filed by James Chua, her co-accused in Criminal the court cannot exercise its jurisdiction to try the case.
Case No. 87-52434. The Secretary of Justice, through
the Chief State Prosecutor, gave due course to both Now, the law specifically provides that in prosecutions
petitions and directed the respondent city fiscal to for adultery and concubinage the person who can
inform the Department of Justice "if the accused have legally file the complaint should be the offended
already been arraigned and if not yet arraigned, to spouse, and nobody else. Unlike the offenses of
move to defer further proceedings" and to elevate the seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness,
entire records of both cases to his office for review. 9 no provision is made for the prosecution of the crimes
of adultery and concubinage by the parents,
Petitioner thereafter filed a motion in both criminal grandparents or guardian of the offended party. The
cases to defer her arraignment and to suspend further so-called exclusive and successive rule in the
proceedings thereon. 10 As a consequence, Judge prosecution of the first four offenses above mentioned
Leonardo Cruz suspended proceedings in Criminal do not apply to adultery and concubinage. It is
Case No. 87-52434. On the other hand, respondent significant that while the State, as parens patriae, was
judge merely reset the date of the arraignment in added and vested by the 1985 Rules of Criminal
Criminal Case No. 87-52435 to April 6, 1987. Before Procedure with the power to initiate the criminal action
such scheduled date, petitioner moved for the for a deceased or incapacitated victim in the aforesaid
cancellation of the arraignment and for the suspension offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of
of proceedings in said Criminal Case No. 87-52435 lasciviousness, in default of her parents, grandparents
until after the resolution of the petition for review then or guardian, such amendment did not include the
pending before the Secretary of Justice. 11 A motion to crimes of adultery and concubinage. In other words,
quash was also filed in the same case on the ground of only the offended spouse, and no other, is authorized
lack of jurisdiction, 12 which motion was denied by the by law to initiate the action therefor.
respondent judge in an order dated September 8,
1987. The same order also directed the arraignment of Corollary to such exclusive grant of power to the
both accused therein, that is, petitioner and William offended spouse to institute the action, it necessarily
Chia. The latter entered a plea of not guilty while the follows that such initiator must have the status,
petitioner refused to be arraigned. Such refusal of the capacity or legal representation to do so at the time of
petitioner being considered by respondent judge as the filing of the criminal action. This is a familiar and
direct contempt, she and her counsel were fined and express rule in civil actions; in fact, lack of legal
the former was ordered detained until she submitted capacity to sue, as a ground for a motion to dismiss in
herself for arraignment. 13 Later, private respondent civil cases, is determined as of the filing of the
entered a plea of not guilty. 14 complaint or petition.

On October 27, 1987, petitioner filed this special civil The absence of an equivalent explicit rule in the
action for certiorari and prohibition, with a prayer for a prosecution of criminal cases does not mean that the
temporary restraining order, seeking the annulment of same requirement and rationale would not apply.
the order of the lower court denying her motion to Understandably, it may not have been found necessary
quash. The petition is anchored on the main ground since criminal actions are generally and fundamentally
that the court is without jurisdiction "to try and decide commenced by the State, through the People of the
the charge of adultery, which is a private offense that Philippines, the offended party being merely the
cannot be prosecuted de officio (sic), since the complaining witness therein. However, in the so-called
purported complainant, a foreigner, does not qualify as "private crimes" or those which cannot be prosecuted
an offended spouse having obtained a final divorce de oficio, and the present prosecution for adultery is of
decree under his national law prior to his filing the such genre, the offended spouse assumes a more
criminal complaint." 15 predominant role since the right to commence the
action, or to refrain therefrom, is a matter exclusively
On October 21, 1987, this Court issued a temporary within his power and option.
restraining order enjoining the respondents from
implementing the aforesaid order of September 8,
This policy was adopted out of consideration for the the status of the complainant vis-a-vis the accused
aggrieved party who might prefer to suffer the outrage must be determined as of the time the complaint was
in silence rather than go through the scandal of a filed. Thus, the person who initiates the adultery case
public trial. 20 Hence, as cogently argued by petitioner, must be an offended spouse, and by this is meant that
Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code thus he is still married to the accused spouse, at the time of
presupposes that the marital relationship is still the filing of the complaint.
subsisting at the time of the institution of the criminal
action for, adultery. This is a logical consequence since In the present case, the fact that private respondent
the raison d'etre of said provision of law would be obtained a valid divorce in his country, the Federal
absent where the supposed offended party had ceased Republic of Germany, is admitted. Said divorce and its
to be the spouse of the alleged offender at the time of legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines
the filing of the criminal case. 21 insofar as private respondent is concerned 23 in view
of the nationality principle in our civil law on the matter
In these cases, therefore, it is indispensable that the of status of persons.
status and capacity of the complainant to commence
the action be definitely established and, as already Thus, in the recent case of Van Dorn vs. Romillo, Jr.,
demonstrated, such status or capacity must indubitably et al., 24 after a divorce was granted by a United
exist as of the time he initiates the action. It would be States court between Alice Van Dornja Filipina, and
absurd if his capacity to bring the action would be her American husband, the latter filed a civil case in a
determined by his status before or subsequent to the trial court here alleging that her business concern was
commencement thereof, where such capacity or status conjugal property and praying that she be ordered to
existed prior to but ceased before, or was acquired render an accounting and that the plaintiff be granted
subsequent to but did not exist at the time of, the the right to manage the business. Rejecting his
institution of the case. We would thereby have the pretensions, this Court perspicuously demonstrated the
anomalous spectacle of a party bringing suit at the very error of such stance, thus:
time when he is without the legal capacity to do so.
There can be no question as to the validity of that
To repeat, there does not appear to be any local Nevada divorce in any of the States of the United
precedential jurisprudence on the specific issue as to States. The decree is binding on private respondent as
when precisely the status of a complainant as an an American citizen. For instance, private respondent
offended spouse must exist where a criminal cannot sue petitioner, as her husband, in any State of
prosecution can be commenced only by one who in the Union. ...
law can be categorized as possessed of such status.
Stated differently and with reference to the present It is true that owing to the nationality principle
case, the inquiry ;would be whether it is necessary in embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only
the commencement of a criminal action for adultery Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against
that the marital bonds between the complainant and absolute divorces the same being considered contrary
the accused be unsevered and existing at the time of to our concept of public policy and morality. However,
the institution of the action by the former against the aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be
latter. recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid
according to their national law. ...
American jurisprudence, on cases involving statutes in
that jurisdiction which are in pari materia with ours, Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent
yields the rule that after a divorce has been decreed, is no longer the husband of petitioner. He would have
the innocent spouse no longer has the right to institute no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner's
proceedings against the offenders where the statute husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal
provides that the innocent spouse shall have the assets. ... 25
exclusive right to institute a prosecution for adultery.
Where, however, proceedings have been properly Under the same considerations and rationale, private
commenced, a divorce subsequently granted can have respondent, being no longer the husband of petitioner,
no legal effect on the prosecution of the criminal had no legal standing to commence the adultery case
proceedings to a conclusion. 22 under the imposture that he was the offended spouse
at the time he filed suit.
In the cited Loftus case, the Supreme Court of Iowa
held that The allegation of private respondent that he could not
have brought this case before the decree of divorce for
'No prosecution for adultery can be commenced except lack of knowledge, even if true, is of no legal
on the complaint of the husband or wife.' Section 4932, significance or consequence in this case. When said
Code. Though Loftus was husband of defendant when respondent initiated the divorce proceeding, he
the offense is said to have been committed, he had obviously knew that there would no longer be a family
ceased to be such when the prosecution was begun; nor marriage vows to protect once a dissolution of the
and appellant insists that his status was not such as to marriage is decreed. Neither would there be a danger
entitle him to make the complaint. We have repeatedly of introducing spurious heirs into the family, which is
said that the offense is against the unoffending spouse, said to be one of the reasons for the particular
as well as the state, in explaining the reason for this formulation of our law on adultery, 26 since there
provision in the statute; and we are of the opinion that would thenceforth be no spousal relationship to speak
the unoffending spouse must be such when the of. The severance of the marital bond had the effect of
prosecution is commenced. (Emphasis supplied.) dissociating the former spouses from each other,
hence the actuations of one would not affect or cast
We see no reason why the same doctrinal rule should obloquy on the other.
not apply in this case and in our jurisdiction,
considering our statutory law and jural policy on the The aforecited case of United States vs. Mata cannot
matter. We are convinced that in cases of such nature, be successfully relied upon by private respondent. In
applying Article 433 of the old Penal Code,
substantially the same as Article 333 of the Revised The assailed Order denied reconsideration of the
Penal Code, which punished adultery "although the above-quoted Decision.
marriage be afterwards declared void", the Court
merely stated that "the lawmakers intended to declare The Facts
adulterous the infidelity of a married woman to her
marital vows, even though it should be made to appear Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino, was married to Editha
that she is entitled to have her marriage contract Samson, an Australian citizen, in Malabon, Rizal, on
declared null and void, until and unless she actually March 1, 1987.[4] They lived together as husband and
secures a formal judicial declaration to that effect". wife in Australia. On May 18, 1989, [5] a decree of
Definitely, it cannot be logically inferred therefrom that divorce, purportedly dissolving the marriage, was
the complaint can still be filed after the declaration of issued by an Australian family court.
nullity because such declaration that the marriage is
void ab initio is equivalent to stating that it never On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian
existed. There being no marriage from the beginning, citizen, as shown by a Certificate of Australian
any complaint for adultery filed after said declaration of Citizenship issued by the Australian government.[6]
nullity would no longer have a leg to stand on. Petitioner -- a Filipina -- and respondent were married
Moreover, what was consequently contemplated and on January 12, 1994 in Our Lady of Perpetual Help
within the purview of the decision in said case is the Church in Cabanatuan City.[7] In their application for a
situation where the criminal action for adultery was marriage license, respondent was declared as single
filed before the termination of the marriage by a judicial and Filipino.[8]
declaration of its nullity ab initio. The same rule and
requisite would necessarily apply where the Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent
termination of the marriage was effected, as in this lived separately without prior judicial dissolution of their
case, by a valid foreign divorce. marriage. While the two were still in Australia, their
conjugal assets were divided on May 16, 1996, in
Private respondent's invocation of Donio-Teves, et al. accordance with their Statutory Declarations secured in
vs. Vamenta, hereinbefore cited, 27 must suffer the Australia.[9]
same fate of inapplicability. A cursory reading of said
case reveals that the offended spouse therein had duly On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint for
and seasonably filed a complaint for adultery, although Declaration of Nullity of Marriage[10] in the court a quo,
an issue was raised as to its sufficiency but which was on the ground of bigamy -- respondent allegedly had a
resolved in favor of the complainant. Said case did not prior subsisting marriage at the time he married her on
involve a factual situation akin to the one at bar or any January 12, 1994. She claimed that she learned of
issue determinative of the controversy herein. respondents marriage to Editha Samson only in
November, 1997.
WHEREFORE, the questioned order denying
petitioner's motion to quash is SET ASIDE and another In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as
one entered DISMISSING the complaint in Criminal 1993, he had revealed to petitioner his prior marriage
Case No. 87-52435 for lack of jurisdiction. The and its subsequent dissolution.[11] He contended that
temporary restraining order issued in this case on his first marriage to an Australian citizen had been
October 21, 1987 is hereby made permanent. SO validly dissolved by a divorce decree obtained in
ORDERED. Australia in 1989;[12] thus, he was legally capacitated
to marry petitioner in 1994.

b.) Garcia-Recio vs Recio On July 7, 1998 -- or about five years after the couples
wedding and while the suit for the declaration of nullity
A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be was pending -- respondent was able to secure a
recognized in our jurisdiction, provided such decree is divorce decree from a family court in Sydney, Australia
valid according to the national law of the foreigner. because the marriage ha[d] irretrievably broken
However, the divorce decree and the governing down.[13]
personal law of the alien spouse who obtained the
divorce must be proven. Our courts do not take judicial Respondent prayed in his Answer that the Complaint
notice of foreign laws and judgments; hence, like any be dismissed on the ground that it stated no cause of
other facts, both the divorce decree and the national action.[14] The Office of the Solicitor General agreed
law of the alien must be alleged and proven according with respondent.[15] The court marked and admitted
to our law on evidence. the documentary evidence of both parties.[16] After
they submitted their respective memoranda, the case
The Case was submitted for resolution.[17]

Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Thereafter, the trial court rendered the assailed
Rules of Court, seeking to nullify the January 7, 1999 Decision and Order.
Decision[1] and the March 24, 1999 Order[2] of the
Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 28, in Ruling of the Trial Court
Civil Case No. 3026AF. The assailed Decision
disposed as follows: The trial court declared the marriage dissolved on the
ground that the divorce issued in Australia was valid
WHEREFORE, this Court declares the marriage and recognized in the Philippines. It deemed the
between Grace J. Garcia and Rederick A. Recio marriage ended, but not on the basis of any defect in
solemnized on January 12, 1994 at Cabanatuan City an essential element of the marriage; that is,
as dissolved and both parties can now remarry under respondents alleged lack of legal capacity to remarry.
existing and applicable laws to any and/or both Rather, it based its Decision on the divorce decree
parties.[3] obtained by respondent. The Australian divorce had
ended the marriage; thus, there was no more marital they were celebrated (the lex loci celebrationis). In
union to nullify or annul. effect, the Code requires the presentation of the
foreign law to show the conformity of the marriage in
Hence, this Petition.[18] question to the legal requirements of the place where
the marriage was performed.
Issues
At the outset, we lay the following basic legal principles
Petitioner submits the following issues for our as the take-off points for our discussion. Philippine law
consideration: does not provide for absolute divorce; hence, our
courts cannot grant it.[21] A marriage between two
1 Filipinos cannot be dissolved even by a divorce
obtained abroad, because of Articles 15[22] and 17[23]
The trial court gravely erred in finding that the divorce of the Civil Code.[24] In mixed marriages involving a
decree obtained in Australia by the respondent ipso Filipino and a foreigner, Article 26[25] of the Family
facto terminated his first marriage to Editha Samson Code allows the former to contract a subsequent
thereby capacitating him to contract a second marriage marriage in case the divorce is validly obtained abroad
with the petitioner. by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
remarry.[26] A divorce obtained abroad by a couple,
2 who are both aliens, may be recognized in the
Philippines, provided it is consistent with their
The failure of the respondent, who is now a naturalized respective national laws.[27]
Australian, to present a certificate of legal capacity to
marry constitutes absence of a substantial requisite A comparison between marriage and divorce, as far as
voiding the petitioners marriage to the respondent pleading and proof are concerned, can be made. Van
Dorn v. Romillo Jr. decrees that aliens may obtain
3 divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the
Philippines, provided they are valid according to their
The trial court seriously erred in the application of Art. national law.[28] Therefore, before a foreign divorce
26 of the Family Code in this case. decree can be recognized by our courts, the party
pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and
4 demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing
it.[29] Presentation solely of the divorce decree is
The trial court patently and grievously erred in insufficient.
disregarding Arts. 11, 13, 21, 35, 40, 52 and 53 of the
Family Code as the applicable provisions in this case. Divorce as a Question of Fact
Petitioner insists that before a divorce decree can be
5 admitted in evidence, it must first comply with the
registration requirements under Articles 11, 13 and 52
The trial court gravely erred in pronouncing that the of the Family Code. These articles read as follows:
divorce decree obtained by the respondent in Australia
ipso facto capacitated the parties to remarry, without ART. 11. Where a marriage license is required, each of
first securing a recognition of the judgment granting the the contracting parties shall file separately a sworn
divorce decree before our courts.[19] application for such license with the proper local civil
registrar which shall specify the following:
The Petition raises five issues, but for purposes of this
Decision, we shall concentrate on two pivotal ones: (1) xxxxxxxxx
whether the divorce between respondent and Editha
Samson was proven, and (2) whether respondent was (5) If previously married, how, when and where the
proven to be legally capacitated to marry petitioner. previous marriage was dissolved or annulled;
Because of our ruling on these two, there is no more
necessity to take up the rest. xxxxxxxxx

The Courts Ruling ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has
been previously married, the applicant shall be
The Petition is partly meritorious. required to

First Issue: ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has
Proving the Divorce Between Respondent and Editha been previously married, the applicant shall be
Samson required to furnish, instead of the birth or baptismal
certificate required in the last preceding article, the
Petitioner assails the trial courts recognition of the death certificate of the deceased spouse or the judicial
divorce between respondent and Editha Samson. decree of the absolute divorce, or the judicial decree of
Citing Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,[20] petitioner annulment or declaration of nullity of his or her
argues that the divorce decree, like any other foreign previous marriage. x x x.
judgment, may be given recognition in this jurisdiction
only upon proof of the existence of (1) the foreign law ART. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute
allowing absolute divorce and (2) the alleged divorce nullity of the marriage, the partition and distribution of
decree itself. She adds that respondent miserably the properties of the spouses, and the delivery of the
failed to establish these elements. childrens presumptive legitimes shall be recorded in
the appropriate civil registry and registries of property;
Petitioner adds that, based on the first paragraph of otherwise, the same shall not affect their persons.
Article 26 of the Family Code, marriages solemnized
abroad are governed by the law of the place where
Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the necessary in the prosecution or defense of an
Australian divorce decree is a public document -- a action.[41] In civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of
written official act of an Australian family court. proving the material allegations of the complaint when
Therefore, it requires no further proof of its authenticity those are denied by the answer; and defendants have
and due execution. the burden of proving the material allegations in their
answer when they introduce new matters.[42] Since
Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a the divorce was a defense raised by respondent, the
foreign judgment is given presumptive evidentiary burden of proving the pertinent Australian law
value, the document must first be presented and validating it falls squarely upon him.
admitted in evidence.[30] A divorce obtained abroad is
proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed the best It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts
evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself.[31] The cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws.[43] Like any
decree purports to be a written act or record of an act other facts, they must be alleged and proved.
of an official body or tribunal of a foreign country.[32] Australian marital laws are not among those matters
that judges are supposed to know by reason of their
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other judicial function.[44] The power of judicial notice must
hand, a writing or document may be proven as a public be exercised with caution, and every reasonable doubt
or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an upon the subject should be resolved in the negative.
official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested[33] by
the officer having legal custody of the document. If the Second Issue: Respondents Legal Capacity to
record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be Remarry
(a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign Petitioner contends that, in view of the insufficient proof
service stationed in the foreign country in which the of the divorce, respondent was legally incapacitated to
record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his marry her in 1994. Hence, she concludes that their
office. [34] marriage was void ab initio.

The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Respondent replies that the Australian divorce decree,
Samson appears to be an authentic one issued by an which was validly admitted in evidence, adequately
Australian family court.[35] However, appearance is established his legal capacity to marry under Australian
not sufficient; compliance with the aforementioned law.
rules on evidence must be demonstrated.
Respondents contention is untenable. In its strict legal
Fortunately for respondents cause, when the divorce sense, divorce means the legal dissolution of a lawful
decree of May 18, 1989 was submitted in evidence, union for a cause arising after marriage. But divorces
counsel for petitioner objected, not to its admissibility, are of different types. The two basic ones are (1)
but only to the fact that it had not been registered in the absolute divorce or a vinculo matrimonii and (2) limited
Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan City.[36] The trial divorce or a mensa et thoro. The first kind terminates
court ruled that it was admissible, subject to petitioners the marriage, while the second suspends it and leaves
qualification.[37] Hence, it was admitted in evidence the bond in full force.[45] There is no showing in the
and accorded weight by the judge. Indeed, petitioners case at bar which type of divorce was procured by
failure to object properly rendered the divorce decree respondent.
admissible as a written act of the Family Court of
Sydney, Australia.[38] Respondent presented a decree nisi or an interlocutory
decree -- a conditional or provisional judgment of
Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of divorce. It is in effect the same as a separation from
the Family Code is not necessary; respondent was no bed and board, although an absolute divorce may
longer bound by Philippine personal laws after he follow after the lapse of the prescribed period during
acquired Australian citizenship in 1992.[39] which no reconciliation is effected.[46]
Naturalization is the legal act of adopting an alien and
clothing him with the political and civil rights belonging Even after the divorce becomes absolute, the court
to a citizen.[40] Naturalized citizens, freed from the may under some foreign statutes and practices, still
protective cloak of their former states, don the attires of restrict remarriage. Under some other jurisdictions,
their adoptive countries. By becoming an Australian, remarriage may be limited by statute; thus, the guilty
respondent severed his allegiance to the Philippines party in a divorce which was granted on the ground of
and the vinculum juris that had tied him to Philippine adultery may be prohibited from marrying again. The
personal laws. court may allow a remarriage only after proof of good
behavior.[47]
Burden of Proving Australian Law
Respondent contends that the burden to prove On its face, the herein Australian divorce decree
Australian divorce law falls upon petitioner, because contains a restriction that reads:
she is the party challenging the validity of a foreign
judgment. He contends that petitioner was satisfied 1. A party to a marriage who marries again before this
with the original of the divorce decree and was decree becomes absolute (unless the other party has
cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because she died) commits the offence of bigamy.[48]
had lived and worked in that country for quite a long
time. Besides, the Australian divorce law is allegedly This quotation bolsters our contention that the divorce
known by Philippine courts; thus, judges may take obtained by respondent may have been restricted. It
judicial notice of foreign laws in the exercise of sound did not absolutely establish his legal capacity to
discretion. remarry according to his national law. Hence, we find
no basis for the ruling of the trial court, which
We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with erroneously assumed that the Australian divorce ipso
the party who alleges the existence of a fact or thing
facto restored respondents capacity to remarry despite petitioners legal capacity to marry petitioner. Failing in
the paucity of evidence on this matter. that, then the court a quo may declare a nullity of the
parties marriage on the ground of bigamy, there being
We also reject the claim of respondent that the divorce already in evidence two existing marriage certificates,
decree raises a disputable presumption or presumptive which were both obtained in the Philippines, one in
evidence as to his civil status based on Section 48, Malabon, Metro Manila dated March 1, 1987 and the
Rule 39[49] of the Rules of Court, for the simple reason other, in Cabanatuan City dated January 12, 1994.
that no proof has been presented on the legal effects
of the divorce decree obtained under Australian laws. WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly procedure and
substantial justice, we REMAND the case to the court
Significance of the Certificate of Legal Capacity a quo for the purpose of receiving evidence which
Petitioner argues that the certificate of legal capacity conclusively show respondents legal capacity to marry
required by Article 21 of the Family Code was not petitioner; and failing in that, of declaring the parties
submitted together with the application for a marriage marriage void on the ground of bigamy, as above
license. According to her, its absence is proof that discussed. No costs. SO ORDERED.
respondent did not have legal capacity to remarry.

We clarify. To repeat, the legal capacity to contract c.) Quita vs CA


marriage is determined by the national law of the party
concerned. The certificate mentioned in Article 21 of FE D. QUITA and Arturo T. Padlan, both Filipinos,
the Family Code would have been sufficient to were married in the Philippines on 18 May 1941. They
establish the legal capacity of respondent, had he duly were not however blessed with children. Somewhere
presented it in court. A duly authenticated and admitted along the way their relationship soured. Eventually Fe
certificate is prima facie evidence of legal capacity to sued Arturo for divorce in San Francisco, California,
marry on the part of the alien applicant for a marriage U.S.A. She submitted in the divorce proceedings a
license.[50] private writing dated 19 July 1950 evidencing their
agreement to live separately from each other and a
As it is, however, there is absolutely no evidence that settlement of their conjugal properties. On 23 July
proves respondents legal capacity to marry petitioner. 1954 she obtained a final judgment of divorce. Three
A review of the records before this Court shows that (3) weeks thereafter she married a certain Felix Tupaz
only the following exhibits were presented before the in the same locality but their relationship also ended in
lower court: (1) for petitioner: (a) Exhibit A a divorce. Still in the U.S.A., she married for the third
Complaint;[51] (b) Exhibit B Certificate of Marriage time, to a certain Wernimont.
Between Rederick A. Recio (Filipino-Australian) and
Grace J. Garcia (Filipino) on January 12, 1994 in On 16 April 1972 Arturo died. He left no will. On 31
Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija;[52] (c) Exhibit C August 1972 Lino Javier Inciong filed a petition with the
Certificate of Marriage Between Rederick A. Recio Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for issuance of
(Filipino) and Editha D. Samson (Australian) on March letters of administration concerning the estate of Arturo
1, 1987 in Malabon, Metro Manila;[53] (d) Exhibit D in favor of the Philippine Trust Company. Respondent
Office of the City Registrar of Cabanatuan City Blandina Dandan (also referred to as Blandina
Certification that no information of annulment between Padlan), claiming to be the surviving spouse of Arturo
Rederick A. Recio and Editha D. Samson was in its Padlan, and Claro, Alexis, Ricardo, Emmanuel,
records;[54] and (e) Exhibit E Certificate of Australian Zenaida and Yolanda, all surnamed Padlan, named in
Citizenship of Rederick A. Recio;[55] (2) for the petition as surviving children of Arturo Padlan,
respondent: (a) Exhibit 1 -- Amended Answer;[56] (b) opposed the petition and prayed for the appointment
Exhibit 2 Family Law Act 1975 Decree Nisi of instead of Atty. Leonardo Cabasal, which was resolved
Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court of in favor of the latter. Upon motion of the oppositors
Australia;[57] (c) Exhibit 3 Certificate of Australian themselves, Atty. Cabasal was later replaced by Higino
Citizenship of Rederick A. Recio;[58] (d) Exhibit 4 Castillon. On 30 April 1973 the oppositors (Blandina
Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family and the Padlan children) submitted certified
Court of Australia Certificate;[59] and Exhibit 5 -- photocopies of the 19 July 1950 private writing and the
Statutory Declaration of the Legal Separation Between final judgment of divorce between petitioner and
Rederick A. Recio and Grace J. Garcia Recio since Arturo. Later Ruperto T. Padlan, claiming to be the sole
October 22, 1995.[60] surviving brother of the deceased Arturo, intervened.

Based on the above records, we cannot conclude that On 7 October 1987 petitioner moved for the immediate
respondent, who was then a naturalized Australian declaration of heirs of the decedent and the distribution
citizen, was legally capacitated to marry petitioner on of his estate. At the scheduled hearing on 23 October
January 12, 1994. We agree with petitioners contention 1987, private respondent as well as the six (6) Padlan
that the court a quo erred in finding that the divorce children and Ruperto failed to appear despite due
decree ipso facto clothed respondent with the legal notice. On the same day, the trial court required the
capacity to remarry without requiring him to adduce submission of the records of birth of the Padlan
sufficient evidence to show the Australian personal law children within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, after
governing his status; or at the very least, to prove his which, with or without the documents, the issue on the
legal capacity to contract the second marriage. declaration of heirs would be considered submitted for
resolution. The prescribed period lapsed without the
Neither can we grant petitioners prayer to declare her required documents being submitted.
marriage to respondent null and void on the ground of
bigamy. After all, it may turn out that under Australian The trial court invoking Tenchavez v. Escao[1] which
law, he was really capacitated to marry petitioner as a held that "a foreign divorce between Filipino citizens
direct result of the divorce decree. Hence, we believe sought and decreed after the effectivity of the present
that the most judicious course is to remand this case to Civil Code (Rep. Act 386) was not entitled to
the trial court to receive evidence, if any, which show recognition as valid in this jurisdiction,"[2] disregarded
the divorce between petitioner and Arturo. from the decedent because there are proofs that they
Consequently, it expressed the view that their marriage have been duly acknowledged by him and petitioner
subsisted until the death of Arturo in 1972. Neither did herself even recognizes them as heirs of Arturo
it consider valid their extrajudicial settlement of Padlan;[10] nor as to their respective hereditary
conjugal properties due to lack of judicial approval.[3] shares. But controversy remains as to who is the
On the other hand, it opined that there was no showing legitimate surviving spouse of Arturo. The trial court,
that marriage existed between private respondent and after the parties other than petitioner failed to appear
Arturo, much less was it shown that the alleged Padlan during the scheduled hearing on 23 October 1987 of
children had been acknowledged by the deceased as the motion for immediate declaration of heirs and
his children with her. As regards Ruperto, it found that distribution of estate, simply issued an order requiring
he was a brother of Arturo. On 27 November 1987[4] the submission of the records of birth of the Padlan
only petitioner and Ruperto were declared the intestate children within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, after
heirs of Arturo. Accordingly, equal adjudication of the which, with or without the documents, the issue on
net hereditary estate was ordered in favor of the two declaration of heirs would be deemed submitted for
intestate heirs.[5] resolution.

On motion for reconsideration, Blandina and the We note that in her comment to petitioner's motion
Padlan children were allowed to present proofs that the private respondent raised, among others, the issue as
recognition of the children by the deceased as his to whether petitioner was still entitled to inherit from the
legitimate children, except Alexis who was recognized decedent considering that she had secured a divorce
as his illegitimate child, had been made in their in the U.S.A. and in fact had twice remarried. She also
respective records of birth. Thus on 15 February invoked the above quoted procedural rule.[11] To this,
1988[6] partial reconsideration was granted declaring petitioner replied that Arturo was a Filipino and as such
the Padlan children, with the exception of Alexis, remained legally married to her in spite of the divorce
entitled to one-half of the estate to the exclusion of they obtained.[12] Reading between the lines, the
Ruperto Padlan, and petitioner to the other half.[7] implication is that petitioner was no longer a Filipino
Private respondent was not declared an heir. Although citizen at the time of her divorce from Arturo. This
it was stated in the aforementioned records of birth that should have prompted the trial court to conduct a
she and Arturo were married on 22 April 1947, their hearing to establish her citizenship. The purpose of a
marriage was clearly void since it was celebrated hearing is to ascertain the truth of the matters in issue
during the existence of his previous marriage to with the aid of documentary and testimonial evidence
petitioner. as well as the arguments of the parties either
supporting or opposing the evidence. Instead, the
In their appeal to the Court of Appeals, Blandina and lower court perfunctorily settled her claim in her favor
her children assigned as one of the errors allegedly by merely applying the ruling in Tenchavez v. Escao.
committed by the trial court the circumstance that the
case was decided without a hearing, in violation of Then in private respondent's motion to set aside and/or
Sec. 1, Rule 90, of the Rules of Court, which provides reconsider the lower court's decision she stressed that
that if there is a controversy before the court as to who the citizenship of petitioner was relevant in the light of
are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the the ruling in Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr.[13] that aliens may
distributive shares to which each person is entitled obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in
under the law, the controversy shall be heard and the Philippines, provided they are valid according to
decided as in ordinary cases. their national law. She prayed therefore that the case
be set for hearing.[14] Petitioner opposed the motion
Respondent appellate court found this ground alone but failed to squarely address the issue on her
sufficient to sustain the appeal; hence, on 11 citizenship.[15] The trial court did not grant private
September 1995 it declared null and void the 27 respondent's prayer for a hearing but proceeded to
November 1987 decision and 15 February 1988 order resolve her motion with the finding that both petitioner
of the trial court, and directed the remand of the case and Arturo were "Filipino citizens and were married in
to the trial court for further proceedings.[8] On 18 April the Philippines."[16] It maintained that their divorce
1996 it denied reconsideration.[9] obtained in 1954 in San Francisco, California, U.S.A.,
was not valid in Philippine jurisdiction. We deduce that
Should this case be remanded to the lower court for the finding on their citizenship pertained solely to the
further proceedings? Petitioner insists that there is no time of their marriage as the trial court was not
need because, first, no legal or factual issue obtains for supplied with a basis to determine petitioner's
resolution either as to the heirship of the Padlan citizenship at the time of their divorce. The doubt
children or as to their respective shares in the intestate persisted as to whether she was still a Filipino citizen
estate of the decedent; and, second, the issue as to when their divorce was decreed. The trial court must
who between petitioner and private respondent is the have overlooked the materiality of this aspect. Once
proper heir of the decedent is one of law which can be proved that she was no longer a Filipino citizen at the
resolved in the present petition based on established time of their divorce, Van Dorn would become
facts and admissions of the parties. applicable and petitioner could very well lose her right
to inherit from Arturo.
We cannot sustain petitioner. The provision relied upon
by respondent court is clear: If there is a controversy Respondent again raised in her appeal the issue on
before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the petitioner's citizenship;[17] it did not merit
deceased person or as to the distributive shares to enlightenment however from petitioner.[18] In the
which each person is entitled under the law, the present proceeding, petitioner's citizenship is brought
controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary anew to the fore by private respondent. She even
cases. furnishes the Court with the transcript of stenographic
notes taken on 5 May 1995 during the hearing for the
We agree with petitioner that no dispute exists either reconstitution of the original of a certain transfer
as to the right of the six (6) Padlan children to inherit certificate title as well as the issuance of new owner's
duplicate copy thereof before another trial court. When 44847; and its January 23, 2004 Resolution4 denying
asked whether she was an American citizen petitioner the motion for reconsideration.
answered that she was since 1954.[19] Significantly,
the decree of divorce of petitioner and Arturo was Private respondent Tristan A. Catindig married Lily
obtained in the same year. Petitioner however did not Gomez Catindig5 twice on May 16, 1968. The first
bother to file a reply memorandum to erase the marriage ceremony was celebrated at the Central
uncertainty about her citizenship at the time of their Methodist Church at T.M. Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila
divorce, a factual issue requiring hearings to be while the second took place at the Lourdes Catholic
conducted by the trial court. Consequently, respondent Church in La Loma, Quezon City. The marriage
appellate court did not err in ordering the case returned produced four children.
to the trial court for further proceedings.
Several years later, the couple encountered marital
We emphasize however that the question to be problems that they decided to separate from each
determined by the trial court should be limited only to other. Upon advice of a mutual friend, they decided to
the right of petitioner to inherit from Arturo as his obtain a divorce from the Dominican Republic. Thus,
surviving spouse. Private respondent's claim to on April 27, 1984, Tristan and Lily executed a Special
heirship was already resolved by the trial court. She Power of Attorney addressed to the Judge of the First
and Arturo were married on 22 April 1947 while the Civil Court of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic,
prior marriage of petitioner and Arturo was subsisting appointing an attorney-in-fact to institute a divorce
thereby resulting in a bigamous marriage considered action under its laws.6
void from the beginning under Arts. 80 and 83 of the
Civil Code. Consequently, she is not a surviving Thereafter, on April 30, 1984, the private respondents
spouse that can inherit from him as this status filed a joint petition for dissolution of conjugal
presupposes a legitimate relationship.[20] partnership with the Regional Trial Court of Makati. On
June 12, 1984, the civil court in the Dominican
As regards the motion of private respondent for Republic ratified the divorce by mutual consent of
petitioner and her counsel to be declared in contempt Tristan and Lily. Subsequently, on June 23, 1984, the
of court and that the present petition be dismissed for Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 133,
forum shopping,[21] the same lacks merit. For forum ordered the complete separation of properties between
shopping to exist the actions must involve the same Tristan and Lily.
transactions and same essential facts and
circumstances. There must also be identical causes of On July 14, 1984, Tristan married petitioner Elmar O.
action, subject matter and issue.[22] The present Perez in the State of Virginia in the United States7 and
petition deals with declaration of heirship while the both lived as husband and wife until October 2001.
subsequent petitions filed before the three (3) trial Their union produced one offspring.8
courts concern the issuance of new owner's duplicate
copies of titles of certain properties belonging to the During their cohabitation, petitioner learned that the
estate of Arturo. Obviously, there is no reason to divorce decree issued by the court in the Dominican
declare the existence of forum shopping. Republic which "dissolved" the marriage between
Tristan and Lily was not recognized in the Philippines
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The decision of and that her marriage to Tristan was deemed void
respondent Court of Appeals ordering the remand of under Philippine law. When she confronted Tristan
the case to the court of origin for further proceedings about this, the latter assured her that he would legalize
and declaring null and void its decision holding their union after he obtains an annulment of his
petitioner Fe D. Quita and Ruperto T. Padlan as marriage with Lily. Tristan further promised the
intestate heirs is AFFIRMED. The order of the petitioner that he would adopt their son so that he
appellate court modifying its previous decision by would be entitled to an equal share in his estate as that
granting one-half (1/2) of the net hereditary estate to of each of his children with Lily.9
the Padlan children, namely, Claro, Ricardo,
Emmanuel, Zenaida and Yolanda, with the exception On August 13, 2001, Tristan filed a petition for the
of Alexis, all surnamed Padlan, instead of Arturo's declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lily with the
brother Ruperto Padlan, is likewise AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, docketed as Case
Court however emphasizes that the reception of No. Q-01-44847.
evidence by the trial court should be limited to the
hereditary rights of petitioner as the surviving spouse Subsequently, petitioner filed a Motion for Leave to File
of Arturo Padlan. Intervention10 claiming that she has a legal interest in
the matter in litigation because she knows certain
The motion to declare petitioner and her counsel in information which might aid the trial court at a truthful,
contempt of court and to dismiss the present petition fair and just adjudication of the annulment case, which
for forum shopping is DENIED. SO ORDERED. the trial court granted on September 30, 2002.
Petitioners complaint-in-intervention was also ordered
admitted.
d.) Elmar Perez vs CA
Tristan filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with
This petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 the Court of Appeals seeking to annul the order dated
of the Rules of Court assails the July 25, 2003 September 30, 2002 of the trial court. The Court of
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. Appeals granted the petition and declared as null and
74456 which set aside and declared as null and void void the September 30, 2002 Order of the trial court
the September 30, 2002 Order2 of the Regional Trial granting the motion for leave to file intervention and
Court of Quezon City, Branch 84, granting petitioners admitting the complaint-in-intervention.
motion for leave to file intervention and admitting the
Complaint-in-Intervention3 in Civil Case No. Q-01- Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied,
hence this petition for certiorari and prohibition filed
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner
contends that the Court of Appeals gravely abused its Legal interest, which entitles a person to intervene,
discretion in disregarding her legal interest in the must be in the matter in litigation and of such direct
annulment case between Tristan and Lily. and immediate character that the intervenor will either
gain or lose by direct legal operation and effect of the
The petition lacks merit. judgment.17 Such interest must be actual, direct and
material, and not simply contingent and expectant.18
Ordinarily, the proper recourse of an aggrieved party
from a decision of the Court of Appeals is a petition for Petitioner claims that her status as the wife and
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of companion of Tristan for 17 years vests her with the
Court. However, if the error subject of the recourse is requisite legal interest required of a would-be
one of jurisdiction, or the act complained of was intervenor under the Rules of Court.
granted by a court with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, as alleged Petitioners claim lacks merit. Under the law, petitioner
in this case, the proper remedy is a petition for was never the legal wife of Tristan, hence her claim of
certiorari under Rule 65 of the said Rules.11 This is legal interest has no basis.
based on the premise that in issuing the assailed
decision and resolution, the Court of Appeals acted When petitioner and Tristan married on July 14, 1984,
with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to excess of Tristan was still lawfully married to Lily. The divorce
lack of jurisdiction and there is no plain, speedy and decree that Tristan and Lily obtained from the
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. A Dominican Republic never dissolved the marriage
remedy is considered plain, speedy, and adequate if it bond between them. It is basic that laws relating to
will promptly relieve the petitioner from the injurious family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and
effect of the judgment and the acts of the lower legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of
court.12 the Philippines, even though living abroad.19
Regardless of where a citizen of the Philippines might
It is therefore incumbent upon the petitioner to be, he or she will be governed by Philippine laws with
establish that the Court of Appeals acted with grave respect to his or her family rights and duties, or to his
abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of or her status, condition and legal capacity. Hence, if a
jurisdiction when it promulgated the assailed decision Filipino regardless of whether he or she was married
and resolution. here or abroad, initiates a petition abroad to obtain an
absolute divorce from spouse and eventually becomes
We have previously ruled that grave abuse of successful in getting an absolute divorce decree, the
discretion may arise when a lower court or tribunal Philippines will not recognize such absolute divorce.20
violates or contravenes the Constitution, the law or
existing jurisprudence. By grave abuse of discretion is When Tristan and Lily married on May 18, 1968, their
meant, such capricious and whimsical exercise of marriage was governed by the provisions of the Civil
judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The Code21 which took effect on August 30, 1950. In the
abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power case of Tenchavez v. Escano22 we held:
is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by
reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so (1) That a foreign divorce between Filipino citizens,
patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of sought and decreed after the effectivity of the present
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty Civil Code (Rep. Act No. 386), is not entitled to
enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law.13 recognition as valid in this jurisdiction; and neither is
The word "capricious," usually used in tandem with the the marriage contracted with another party by the
term "arbitrary," conveys the notion of willful and divorced consort, subsequently to the foreign decree of
unreasoning action. Thus, when seeking the corrective divorce, entitled to validity in the country. (Emphasis
hand of certiorari, a clear showing of caprice and added)
arbitrariness in the exercise of discretion is
imperative.14 Thus, petitioners claim that she is the wife of Tristan
even if their marriage was celebrated abroad lacks
The Rules of Court laid down the parameters before a merit. Thus, petitioner never acquired the legal interest
person, not a party to a case can intervene, thus: as a wife upon which her motion for intervention is
based.
Who may intervene. A person who has a legal
interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of Since petitioners motion for leave to file intervention
either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so was bereft of the indispensable requirement of legal
situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or interest, the issuance by the trial court of the order
other disposition of property in the custody of the court granting the same and admitting the complaint-in-
or of an officer thereof may, with leave of court, be intervention was attended with grave abuse of
allowed to intervene in the action. The court shall discretion. Consequently, the Court of Appeals
consider whether or not the intervention will unduly correctly set aside and declared as null and void the
delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the said order.
original parties, and whether or not the intervenors
rights may be fully protected in a separate WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The
proceeding.15 assailed Decision dated July 25, 2003 and Resolution
dated January 23, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
The requirements for intervention are: [a] legal interest G.R. SP No. 74456 are AFFIRMED. No
in the matter in litigation; and [b] consideration must be pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
given as to whether the adjudication of the original
parties may be delayed or prejudiced, or whether the
intervenors rights may be protected in a separate e.) San Luis vs San Luis
proceeding or not.16
Before us are consolidated petitions for review trial court issued an Order 11 denying the two motions
assailing the February 4, 1998 Decision 1 of the Court to dismiss.
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52647, which reversed
and set aside the September 12, 1995 2 and January Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss,
31, 1996 3 Resolutions of the Regional Trial Court of respondent filed on March 5, 1994 her opposition 12
Makati City, Branch 134 in SP. Proc. No. M-3708; and thereto. She submitted documentary evidence showing
its May 15, 1998 Resolution 4 denying petitioners that while Felicisimo exercised the powers of his public
motion for reconsideration. office in Laguna, he regularly went home to their house
in New Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila which
The instant case involves the settlement of the estate they bought sometime in 1982. Further, she presented
of Felicisimo T. San Luis (Felicisimo), who was the the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family
former governor of the Province of Laguna. During his Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove that
lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three marriages. His first the marriage of Felicisimo to Merry Lee had already
marriage was with Virginia Sulit on March 17, 1942 out been dissolved. Thus, she claimed that Felicisimo had
of which were born six children, namely: Rodolfo, Mila, the legal capacity to marry her by virtue of paragraph
Edgar, Linda, Emilita and Manuel. On August 11, 1963, 2, 13 Article 26 of the Family Code and the doctrine
Virginia predeceased Felicisimo. laid down in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 14

Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner Edgar
Merry Lee Corwin, with whom he had a son, Tobias. San Luis, separately filed motions for reconsideration
However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an from the Order denying their motions to dismiss. 15
American citizen, filed a Complaint for Divorce 5 before They asserted that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the
the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, Family Code cannot be given retroactive effect to
United States of America (U.S.A.), which issued a validate respondents bigamous marriage with
Decree Granting Absolute Divorce and Awarding Child Felicisimo because this would impair vested rights in
Custody on December 14, 1973. 6 derogation of Article 256 16 of the Family Code.

On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of Felicisimo
Felicidad San Luis, then surnamed Sagalongos, before from his first marriage, filed a motion to disqualify
Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of the United Acting Presiding Judge Anthony E. Santos from
Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, hearing the case.
California, U.S.A. 7 He had no children with
respondent but lived with her for 18 years from the time On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 17
of their marriage up to his death on December 18, denying the motions for reconsideration. It ruled that
1992. respondent, as widow of the decedent, possessed the
legal standing to file the petition and that venue was
Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their properly laid. Meanwhile, the motion for disqualification
conjugal partnership assets and the settlement of was deemed moot and academic 18 because then
Felicisimos estate. On December 17, 1993, she filed a Acting Presiding Judge Santos was substituted by
petition for letters of administration 8 before the Judge Salvador S. Tensuan pending the resolution of
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, docketed as SP. said motion.
Proc. No. M-3708 which was raffled to Branch 146
thereof. Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge
Tensuan on November 16, 1994. On even date, Edgar
Respondent alleged that she is the widow of also filed a motion for reconsideration 20 from the
Felicisimo; that, at the time of his death, the decedent Order denying their motion for reconsideration arguing
was residing at 100 San Juanico Street, New Alabang that it does not state the facts and law on which it was
Village, Alabang, Metro Manila; that the decedents based.
surviving heirs are respondent as legal spouse, his six
children by his first marriage, and son by his second On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an
marriage; that the decedent left real properties, both Order 21 granting the motion for inhibition. The case
conjugal and exclusive, valued at P30,304,178.00 was re-raffled to Branch 134 presided by Judge Paul T.
more or less; that the decedent does not have any Arcangel.
unpaid debts. Respondent prayed that the conjugal
partnership assets be liquidated and that letters of On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the parties
administration be issued to her. to submit their respective position papers on the twin
issues of venue and legal capacity of respondent to file
On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis, one the petition. On May 5, 1995, Edgar manifested 23 that
of the children of Felicisimo by his first marriage, filed a he is adopting the arguments and evidence set forth in
motion to dismiss 9 on the grounds of improper venue his previous motion for reconsideration as his position
and failure to state a cause of action. Rodolfo claimed paper. Respondent and Rodolfo filed their position
that the petition for letters of administration should papers on June 14, 24 and June 20, 25 1995,
have been filed in the Province of Laguna because this respectively.
was Felicisimos place of residence prior to his death.
He further claimed that respondent has no legal On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the
personality to file the petition because she was only a petition for letters of administration. It held that, at the
mistress of Felicisimo since the latter, at the time of his time of his death, Felicisimo was the duly elected
death, was still legally married to Merry Lee. governor and a resident of the Province of Laguna.
Hence, the petition should have been filed in Sta. Cruz,
On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same Laguna and not in Makati City. It also ruled that
grounds and joined her brother Rodolfo in seeking the respondent was without legal capacity to file the
dismissal 10 of the petition. On February 28, 1994, the petition for letters of administration because her
marriage with Felicisimo was bigamous, thus, void ab
initio. It found that the decree of absolute divorce Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for
dissolving Felicisimos marriage to Merry Lee was not reconsideration 34 which were denied by the Court of
valid in the Philippines and did not bind Felicisimo who Appeals.
was a Filipino citizen. It also ruled that paragraph 2,
Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be retroactively On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via the
applied because it would impair the vested rights of instant petition for review on certiorari. 35 Rodolfo later
Felicisimos legitimate children. filed a manifestation and motion to adopt the said
petition which was granted. 36
Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for the
disqualification 27 of Judge Arcangel but said motions In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and
were denied. 28 Rodolfo insist that the venue of the subject petition for
letters of administration was improperly laid because at
Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which the time of his death, Felicisimo was a resident of Sta.
reversed and set aside the orders of the trial court in its Cruz, Laguna. They contend that pursuant to our
assailed Decision dated February 4, 1998, the rulings in Nuval v. Guray 37 and Romualdez v. RTC,
dispositive portion of which states: Br. 7, Tacloban City, 38 "residence" is synonymous
with "domicile" which denotes a fixed permanent
WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12, 1995 residence to which when absent, one intends to return.
and January 31, 1996 are hereby REVERSED and They claim that a person can only have one domicile at
SET ASIDE; the Orders dated February 28 and any given time. Since Felicisimo never changed his
October 24, 1994 are REINSTATED; and the records domicile, the petition for letters of administration should
of the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
proceedings. 29
Petitioners also contend that respondents marriage to
Felicisimo was void and bigamous because it was
The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule performed during the subsistence of the latters
73 of the Rules of Court, the term "place of residence" marriage to Merry Lee. They argue that paragraph 2,
of the decedent, for purposes of fixing the venue of the Article 26 cannot be retroactively applied because it
settlement of his estate, refers to the personal, actual would impair vested rights and ratify the void bigamous
or physical habitation, or actual residence or place of marriage. As such, respondent cannot be considered
abode of a person as distinguished from legal the surviving wife of Felicisimo; hence, she has no
residence or domicile. It noted that although Felicisimo legal capacity to file the petition for letters of
discharged his functions as governor in Laguna, he administration.
actually resided in Alabang, Muntinlupa. Thus, the
petition for letters of administration was properly filed in The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was
Makati City. properly laid, and (2) whether respondent has legal
capacity to file the subject petition for letters of
The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had administration.
legal capacity to marry respondent by virtue of
paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code and the The petition lacks merit.
rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 30 and Pilapil v.
Ibay-Somera. 31 It found that the marriage between Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the
Felicisimo and Merry Lee was validly dissolved by petition for letters of administration of the estate of
virtue of the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Felicisimo should be filed in the Regional Trial Court of
Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. As a the province "in which he resides at the time of his
result, under paragraph 2, Article 26, Felicisimo was death." In the case of Garcia Fule v. Court of Appeals,
capacitated to contract a subsequent marriage with 40 we laid down the doctrinal rule for determining the
respondent. Thus residence as contradistinguished from domicile of
the decedent for purposes of fixing the venue of the
With the well-known rule express mandate of settlement of his estate:
paragraph 2, Article 26, of the Family Code of the
Philippines, the doctrines in Van Dorn, Pilapil, and the [T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual
reason and philosophy behind the enactment of E.O. residence" as distinguished from "legal residence or
No. 227, there is no justiciable reason to sustain the domicile." This term "resides," like the terms "residing"
individual view sweeping statement of Judge and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted in
Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of the Family Code, the light of the object or purpose of the statute or rule
contravenes the basic policy of our state against in which it is employed. In the application of venue
divorce in any form whatsoever." Indeed, courts cannot statutes and rules Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised
deny what the law grants. All that the courts should do Rules of Court is of such nature residence rather
is to give force and effect to the express mandate of than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the
the law. The foreign divorce having been obtained by statute uses the word "domicile" still it is construed as
the Foreigner on December 14, 1992, 32 the Filipino meaning residence and not domicile in the technical
divorcee, "shall x x x have capacity to remarry under sense. Some cases make a distinction between the
Philippine laws". For this reason, the marriage between terms "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used
the deceased and petitioner should not be in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous,
denominated as "a bigamous marriage. and convey the same meaning as the term
"inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be viewed
Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the or understood in its popular sense, meaning, the
petitioner as the surviving spouse can institute the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person,
judicial proceeding for the settlement of the estate of actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical
the deceased. x x x 33 presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this
popular sense, the term means merely residence, that
is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile.
Residence simply requires bodily presence as an issue, we need not retroactively apply the provisions of
inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires the Family Code, particularly Art. 26, par. (2)
bodily presence in that place and also an intention to considering that there is sufficient jurisprudential basis
make it ones domicile. No particular length of time of allowing us to rule in the affirmative.
residence is required though; however, the residence
must be more than temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied) The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a
marriage between a foreigner and his Filipino wife,
It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that "residence," which marriage was subsequently dissolved through a
for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of the divorce obtained abroad by the latter. Claiming that the
estate of Felicisimo, is synonymous with "domicile." divorce was not valid under Philippine law, the alien
The rulings in Nuval and Romualdez are inapplicable spouse alleged that his interest in the properties from
to the instant case because they involve election their conjugal partnership should be protected. The
cases. Needless to say, there is a distinction between Court, however, recognized the validity of the divorce
"residence" for purposes of election laws and and held that the alien spouse had no interest in the
"residence" for purposes of fixing the venue of actions. properties acquired by the Filipino wife after the
In election cases, "residence" and "domicile" are divorce. Thus:
treated as synonymous terms, that is, the fixed
permanent residence to which when absent, one has In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private
the intention of returning. 42 However, for purposes of respondent from the marriage from the standards of
fixing venue under the Rules of Court, the "residence" American law, under which divorce dissolves the
of a person is his personal, actual or physical marriage. As stated by the Federal Supreme Court of
habitation, or actual residence or place of abode, which the United States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed.
may not necessarily be his legal residence or domicile 794, 799:
provided he resides therein with continuity and
consistency. 43 Hence, it is possible that a person may "The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the
have his residence in one place and domicile in bond of matrimony by a competent jurisdiction are to
another. change the existing status or domestic relation of
husband and wife, and to free them both from the
In the instant case, while petitioners established that bond. The marriage tie, when thus severed as to one
Felicisimo was domiciled in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, party, ceases to bind either. A husband without a wife,
respondent proved that he also maintained a residence or a wife without a husband, is unknown to the law.
in Alabang, Muntinlupa from 1982 up to the time of his When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty, that
death. Respondent submitted in evidence the Deed of the guilty party shall not marry again, that party, as well
Absolute Sale 44 dated January 5, 1983 showing that as the other, is still absolutely freed from the bond of
the deceased purchased the aforesaid property. She the former marriage."
also presented billing statements 45 from the
Philippine Heart Center and Chinese General Hospital Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent
for the period August to December 1992 indicating the is no longer the husband of petitioner. He would have
address of Felicisimo at "100 San Juanico, Ayala no standing to sue in the case below as petitioners
Alabang, Muntinlupa." Respondent also presented husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal
proof of membership of the deceased in the Ayala assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own
Alabang Village Association 46 and Ayala Country countrys Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction
Club, Inc., 47 letter-envelopes 48 from 1988 to 1990 over him, and whose decision he does not repudiate,
sent by the deceaseds children to him at his Alabang he is estopped by his own representation before said
address, and the deceaseds calling cards 49 stating Court from asserting his right over the alleged conjugal
that his home/city address is at "100 San Juanico, property. 53
Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa" while his
office/provincial address is in "Provincial Capitol, Sta. As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the
Cruz, Laguna." Court ruled that she should no longer be considered
married to the alien spouse. Further, she should not be
From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a required to perform her marital duties and obligations.
resident of Alabang, Muntinlupa for purposes of fixing It held:
the venue of the settlement of his estate.
Consequently, the subject petition for letters of To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under
administration was validly filed in the Regional Trial our laws, petitioner has to be considered still married to
Court 50 which has territorial jurisdiction over Alabang, private respondent and still subject to a wife's
Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed on obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code
December 17, 1993. At that time, Muntinlupa was still a cannot be just. Petitioner should not be obliged to live
municipality and the branches of the Regional Trial together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render
Court of the National Capital Judicial Region which had support to private respondent. The latter should not
territorial jurisdiction over Muntinlupa were then seated continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to
in Makati City as per Supreme Court Administrative conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
Order No. 3. 51 Thus, the subject petition was validly against in her own country if the ends of justice are to
filed before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City. be served. 54 (Emphasis added)

Anent the issue of respondent Felicidads legal This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. Ibay-
personality to file the petition for letters of Somera 55 where the Court recognized the validity of a
administration, we must first resolve the issue of divorce obtained abroad. In the said case, it was held
whether a Filipino who is divorced by his alien spouse that the alien spouse is not a proper party in filing the
abroad may validly remarry under the Civil Code, adultery suit against his Filipino wife. The Court stated
considering that Felicidads marriage to Felicisimo was that "the severance of the marital bond had the effect
solemnized on June 20, 1974, or before the Family of dissociating the former spouses from each other,
Code took effect on August 3, 1988. In resolving this
hence the actuations of one would not affect or cast obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino
obloquy on the other." 56 spouse.

Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin
stated that where a Filipino is divorced by his to the 1985 case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. The Van
naturalized foreign spouse, the ruling in Van Dorn Dorn case involved a marriage between a Filipino
applies. 58 Although decided on December 22, 1998, citizen and a foreigner. The Court held therein that a
the divorce in the said case was obtained in 1954 divorce decree validly obtained by the alien spouse is
when the Civil Code provisions were still in effect. valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino
spouse is capacitated to remarry under Philippine law.
The significance of the Van Dorn case to the 63 (Emphasis added)
development of limited recognition of divorce in the
Philippines cannot be denied. The ruling has long been As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in
interpreted as severing marital ties between parties in resolving a situation where a divorce is validly obtained
a mixed marriage and capacitating the Filipino spouse abroad by the alien spouse. With the enactment of the
to remarry as a necessary consequence of upholding Family Code and paragraph 2, Article 26 thereof, our
the validity of a divorce obtained abroad by the alien lawmakers codified the law already established
spouse. In his treatise, Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino cited through judicial precedent.1awphi1.net
Van Dorn stating that "if the foreigner obtains a valid
foreign divorce, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by
to remarry under Philippine law." 59 In Garcia v. Recio, rendering its continuance intolerable to one of the
60 the Court likewise cited the aforementioned case in parties and productive of no possible good to the
relation to Article 26. 61 community, relief in some way should be obtainable.
64 Marriage, being a mutual and shared commitment
In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the between two parties, cannot possibly be productive of
historical background and legislative intent behind any good to the society where one is considered
paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code were released from the marital bond while the other remains
discussed, to wit: bound to it. Such is the state of affairs where the alien
spouse obtains a valid divorce abroad against the
Brief Historical Background Filipino spouse, as in this case.

On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil
signed into law Executive Order No. 209, otherwise Code in stating that the divorce is void under Philippine
known as the "Family Code," which took effect on law insofar as Filipinos are concerned. However, in
August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states: light of this Courts rulings in the cases discussed
above, the Filipino spouse should not be discriminated
All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in against in his own country if the ends of justice are to
accordance with the laws in force in the country where be served. 67 In Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate
they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall Court, 68 the Court stated:
also be valid in this country, except those prohibited
under Articles 35, 37, and 38. But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by
its results; and likewise, we may add, by its purposes.
On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the
original Family Code, Executive Order No. 227 was law, the first concern of the judge should be to discover
likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36, and in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker.
39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph was added Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted in
to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides: such a way as to cause injustice as this is never within
the legislative intent. An indispensable part of that
intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives of the
ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the legislature, is to render justice.
Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the
country where they were solemnized, and valid there Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently
as such, shall also be valid in this country, except of but in consonance with justice. Law and justice are
those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), inseparable, and we must keep them so. To be sure,
36, 37 and 38. there are some laws that, while generally valid, may
seem arbitrary when applied in a particular case
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a because of its peculiar circumstances. In such a
foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is situation, we are not bound, because only of our nature
thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse and functions, to apply them just the same, in slavish
capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse obedience to their language. What we do instead is
shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. find a balance between the word and the will, that
(Emphasis supplied) justice may be done even as the law is obeyed.

xxxx As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and


Legislative Intent must not unfeelingly apply the law as it is worded,
yielding like robots to the literal command without
Records of the proceedings of the Family Code regard to its cause and consequence. "Courts are apt
deliberations showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 of to err by sticking too closely to the words of a law," so
Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a we are warned, by Justice Holmes again, "where these
member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to words import a policy that goes beyond them."
avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse
remains married to the alien spouse who, after xxxx
More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined
justice "as the constant and perpetual wish to render In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an
every one his due." That wish continues to motivate interested person who has a direct interest in the
this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their cohabitation, the
every case brought to it for decision. Justice is always existence of which was not denied by petitioners. If she
an essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the proves the validity of the divorce and Felicisimos
facts warrants, we interpret the law in a way that will capacity to remarry, but fails to prove that her marriage
render justice, presuming that it was the intention of with him was validly performed under the laws of the
the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be dispensed U.S.A., then she may be considered as a co-owner
with justice. 69 under Article 144 76 of the Civil Code. This provision
governs the property relations between parties who live
Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the together as husband and wife without the benefit of
divorce decree allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which marriage, or their marriage is void from the beginning.
absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry, would have It provides that the property acquired by either or both
vested Felicidad with the legal personality to file the of them through their work or industry or their wages
present petition as Felicisimos surviving spouse. and salaries shall be governed by the rules on co-
However, the records show that there is insufficient ownership. In a co-ownership, it is not necessary that
evidence to prove the validity of the divorce obtained the property be acquired through their joint labor,
by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of respondent efforts and industry. Any property acquired during the
and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia union is prima facie presumed to have been obtained
v. Recio, 70 the Court laid down the specific guidelines through their joint efforts. Hence, the portions
for pleading and proving foreign law and divorce belonging to the co-owners shall be presumed equal,
judgments. It held that presentation solely of the unless the contrary is proven. 77
divorce decree is insufficient and that proof of its
authenticity and due execution must be presented. Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or both the divorce and the marriage, the applicable
document may be proven as a public or official record provision would be Article 148 of the Family Code
of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication which has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil
or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal Code by expressly regulating the property relations of
custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the couples living together as husband and wife but are
Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a incapacitated to marry. 78 In Saguid v. Court of
certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular Appeals, 79 we held that even if the cohabitation or the
officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the acquisition of property occurred before the Family
foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) Code took effect, Article 148 governs. 80 The Court
authenticated by the seal of his office. 71 described the property regime under this provision as
follows:
With regard to respondents marriage to Felicisimo
allegedly solemnized in California, U.S.A., she The regime of limited co-ownership of property
submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate and governing the union of parties who are not legally
the annotated text 72 of the Family Law Act of capacitated to marry each other, but who nonetheless
California which purportedly show that their marriage live together as husband and wife, applies to properties
was done in accordance with the said law. As stated in acquired during said cohabitation in proportion to their
Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice respective contributions. Co-ownership will only be up
of foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved. 73 to the extent of the proven actual contribution of
money, property or industry. Absent proof of the extent
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial thereof, their contributions and corresponding shares
court for further reception of evidence on the divorce shall be presumed to be equal.
decree obtained by Merry Lee and the marriage of
respondent and Felicisimo.
xxxx
Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to
marry respondent in 1974, nevertheless, we find that In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v.
the latter has the legal personality to file the subject Fernandez, which involved the issue of co-ownership
petition for letters of administration, as she may be of properties acquired by the parties to a bigamous
considered the co-owner of Felicisimo as regards the marriage and an adulterous relationship, respectively,
properties that were acquired through their joint efforts we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the
during their cohabitation. acquisition of the property is essential. x x x

Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon
letters of administration may be granted to the the party who, as determined by the pleadings or the
surviving spouse of the decedent. However, Section 2, nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue.
Rule 79 thereof also provides in part: Contentions must be proved by competent evidence
and reliance must be had on the strength of the partys
SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of own evidence and not upon the weakness of the
administration. A petition for letters of administration opponents defense. x x x 81
must be filed by an interested person and must show,
as far as known to the petitioner: x x x. In view of the foregoing, we find that respondents legal
capacity to file the subject petition for letters of
An "interested person" has been defined as one who administration may arise from her status as the
would be benefited by the estate, such as an heir, or surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-owner under
one who has a claim against the estate, such as a Article 144 of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the
creditor. The interest must be material and direct, and Family Code.
not merely indirect or contingent. 75
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision Philippines and lived together as husband and wife
of the Court of Appeals reinstating and affirming the until 1987.
February 28, 1994 Order of the Regional Trial Court
which denied petitioners motion to dismiss and its Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new law
October 24, 1994 Order which dismissed petitioners firm named: Luna, Puruganan, Sison and Ongkiko
motion for reconsideration is AFFIRMED. Let this case (LUPSICON) where ATTY. LUNA was the managing
be REMANDED to the trial court for further partner.
proceedings. SO ORDERED.
On February 14, 1978, LUPSICON through ATTY.
LUNA purchased from Tandang Sora Development
f.) Lavadia vs Heirs of Luna Corporation the 6th Floor of Kalaw-Ledesma
Condominium Project(condominium unit) at Gamboa
Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under St., Makati City, consisting of 517.52 square meters,
the nationality rule adopted by Philippine law. Hence, for P1,449,056.00, to be paid on installment basis for
any settlement of property between the parties of the 36months starting on April 15, 1978. Said
first marriage involving Filipinos submitted as an condominium unit was to be usedas law office of
incident of a divorce obtained in a foreign country lacks LUPSICON. After full payment, the Deed of Absolute
competent judicial approval, and cannot be Sale over the condominium unit was executed on July
enforceable against the assets of the husband who 15, 1983, and CCT No. 4779 was issued on August 10,
contracts a subsequent marriage. 1983, which was registered bearing the following
names:
The Case
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna
The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan (46/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G.
Luces Luna, appeals the adverse decision Ongkiko (25/100); GREGORIO R. PURUGANAN,
promulgated on November 11, 2005,1 whereby the married to Paz A. Puruganan (17/100); and TERESITA
Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with modification the CRUZ SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100)
decision rendered on August 27, 2001 by the Regional x x x" Subsequently, 8/100 share of ATTY. LUNA and
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 138, in Makati City.2 The CA 17/100 share of Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan in the
thereby denied her right in the 25/100 pro indiviso condominium unit was sold to Atty. Mario E. Ongkiko,
share of the husband in a condominium unit, and in the for which a new CCT No. 21761 was issued on
law books of the husband acquired during the second February 7, 1992 in the following names:
marriage.
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna
Antecedents (38/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G.
Ongkiko (50/100); TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married
The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA as to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x"
follows:
Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and the
ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a name condominium unit was partitioned by the partners but
partner in the prestigious law firm Sycip, Salazar, Luna, the same was still registered in common under CCT
Manalo, Hernandez & Feliciano Law Offices at that No. 21716. The parties stipulated that the interest of
time when he was living with his first wife, herein ATTY. LUNA over the condominium unit would be
intervenor-appellant Eugenia Zaballero-Luna 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA thereafter established and
(EUGENIA), whom he initially married ina civil headed another law firm with Atty. Renato G. Dela
ceremony conducted by the Justice of the Peace of Cruzand used a portion of the office condominium unit
Paraaque, Rizal on September 10, 1947 and later as their office. The said law firm lasted until the death
solemnized in a church ceremony at the Pro-Cathedral of ATTY. JUAN on July 12, 1997.
in San Miguel, Bulacan on September 12, 1948. In
ATTY. LUNAs marriage to EUGENIA, they begot After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the
seven (7) children, namely: Regina Maria L. Nadal, condominium unit including the lawbooks, office
Juan Luis Luna, Araceli Victoria L. Arellano, Ana Maria furniture and equipment found therein were taken over
L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna, Carolina Linda L. by Gregorio Z. Luna, ATTY. LUNAs son of the first
Tapia, and Cesar Antonio Luna. After almost two (2) marriage. Gregorio Z. Luna thenleased out the 25/100
decades of marriage, ATTY. LUNA and EUGENIA portion of the condominium unit belonging to his father
eventually agreed to live apart from each other in to Atty. Renato G. De la Cruz who established his own
February 1966 and agreed to separation of property, to law firm named Renato G. De la Cruz & Associates.
which end, they entered into a written agreement
entitled "AGREEMENT FOR SEPARATION AND The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the
PROPERTY SETTLEMENT" dated November 12, condominium unit as well as the law books, office
1975, whereby they agreed to live separately and to furniture and equipment became the subject of the
dissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of complaint filed by SOLEDAD against the heirs of
property. ATTY. JUAN with the RTC of Makati City, Branch 138,
on September 10, 1999, docketed as Civil Case No.
On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce 99-1644. The complaint alleged that the subject
decree of his marriage with EUGENIA from the Civil properties were acquired during the existence of the
and Commercial Chamber of the First Circumscription marriage between ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD
of the Court of First Instance of Sto. Domingo, through their joint efforts that since they had no
Dominican Republic. Also in Sto.Domingo, Dominican children, SOLEDAD became co-owner of the said
Republic, on the same date, ATTY. LUNA contracted properties upon the death of ATTY. LUNA to the extent
another marriage, this time with SOLEDAD. Thereafter, of pro-indiviso share consisting of her share in the
ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD returned to the said properties plus her share in the net estate of
ATTY. LUNA which was bequeathed to her in the
latters last will and testament; and thatthe heirs of TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO THE PLAINTIFF-
ATTY. LUNA through Gregorio Z. Luna excluded APPELLANT;
SOLEDAD from her share in the subject properties.
The complaint prayed that SOLEDAD be declared the IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING
owner of the portion of the subject properties;that SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACT THAT THE
the same be partitioned; that an accounting of the CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LUNA AND
rentals on the condominium unit pertaining to the share INTERVENOR-APPELLANT WAS ALREADY
of SOLEDAD be conducted; that a receiver be DISSOLVED AND LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE
appointed to preserve ad administer the subject UNION OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND LUNA;
properties;and that the heirs of ATTY. LUNA be
ordered to pay attorneys feesand costs of the suit to V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE
SOLEDAD.3 SIGNIFICANCE TO THE ABSENCE OF THE
DISPOSITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT IN THE
Ruling of the RTC HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE PLAINTIFF-
APPELLANT;
On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision
after trial upon the aforementioned facts,4 disposing VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE
thusly: SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACTTHAT THE NAME OF
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT DID NOT APPEAR IN THE
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows: DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED BY
TANDANG SORA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
(a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium OVER THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT;
unit located at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW
LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT
Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting NEITHER ARTICLE 148 OF THE FAMILYCODE NOR
of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) SQUARE ARTICLE 144 OF THE CIVIL CODE OF THE
METERS is adjudged to have been acquired by Juan PHILIPPINES ARE APPLICABLE;
Lucas Luna through his sole industry;
VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING
(b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under any other THAT THE CAUSE OF ACTION OF THE
concept over the condominium unit, hence the entry in INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS BEEN BARRED BY
Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the PESCRIPTION AND LACHES; and
Registry of Deeds of Makati with respect to the civil
status of Juan Luces Luna should be changed from IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT
"JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE INTERVENTION
"JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero FOR FAILURE OF INTERVENOR-APPELLANT TO
Luna"; PAY FILING FEE.7

(c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the books In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following
Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American errors to the trial court, to wit:
Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports
found in the condominium unit and defendants are I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
ordered to deliver them to the plaintiff as soon as CERTAIN FOREIGN LAW BOOKS IN THE LAW
appropriate arrangements have been madefor OFFICE OF ATTY. LUNA WERE BOUGHT WITH THE
transport and storage. USE OF PLAINTIFFS MONEY;

No pronouncement as to costs. II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT


PLAINTIFF PROVED BY PREPONDERANCE OF
SO ORDERED.5 EVIDENCE (HER CLAIM OVER) THE SPECIFIED
FOREIGN LAW BOOKS FOUND IN ATTY. LUNAS
Decision of the CA LAW OFFICE; and

Both parties appealed to the CA.6 III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING
THAT, ASSUMING PLAINTIFF PAID FOR THE SAID
On her part, the petitioner assigned the following errors FOREIGN LAW BOOKS, THE RIGHT TO RECOVER
to the RTC, namely: THEM HAD PRESCRIBED AND BARRED BY
LACHES AND ESTOPPEL.8
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT
THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT WAS ACQUIRED THRU On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its
THE SOLE INDUSTRY OF ATTY. JUAN LUCES assailed modified decision,9 holding and ruling:
LUNA;
EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT ATTY. LUNA until the latters death on July 12, 1997.
PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT DID NOT CONTRIBUTE The absolute divorce decree obtained by ATTY. LUNA
MONEY FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE inthe Dominican Republic did not terminate his prior
CONDOMINIUM UNIT; marriage with EUGENIA because foreign divorce
between Filipino citizens is not recognized in our
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING jurisdiction. x x x10
CREDENCE TO PORTIONS OF THE TESTIMONY
OF GREGORIO LUNA, WHO HAS NO ACTUAL xxxx
KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACQUISITION OF THE UNIT,
BUT IGNORED OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed marriage; and, secondly, whether the second marriage
August 27, 2001 Decision of the RTC of MakatiCity, entered into by the late Atty. Luna and the petitioner
Branch 138, is hereby MODIFIEDas follows: entitled the latter to any rights in property. Ruling of the
Court
(a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium
unit at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA We affirm the modified decision of the CA.
CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by Condominium
Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE 1. Atty. Lunas first marriage with Eugenia
HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) (sic) SQUARE subsisted up to the time of his death
METERS is hereby adjudged to defendants-appellants,
the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero- The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia,
Luna (first marriage), having been acquired from the both Filipinos, was solemnized in the Philippines on
sole funds and sole industry of Juan Luces Luna while September 10, 1947. The law in force at the time of the
marriage of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero- solemnization was the Spanish Civil Code, which
Luna (first marriage) was still subsisting and valid; adopted the nationality rule. The Civil Codecontinued
to follow the nationality rule, to the effect that Philippine
(b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has no right as laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the
owner or under any other concept over the status, condition and legal capacity of persons were
condominium unit, hence the entry in Condominium binding upon citizens of the Philippines, although living
Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds abroad.15 Pursuant to the nationality rule, Philippine
ofMakati with respect to the civil status of Juan Luces laws governed thiscase by virtue of bothAtty. Luna and
Luna should be changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA Eugenio having remained Filipinos until the death of
married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA Atty. Luna on July 12, 1997 terminated their marriage.
married to Eugenia Zaballero Luna";
From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage on
(c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces September 10, 1947 until the present, absolute divorce
Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna(first marriage) are between Filipino spouses has not been recognized in
hereby declared to be the owner of the books Corpus the Philippines. The non-recognition of absolute
Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American divorce between Filipinos has remained even under
Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports the Family Code,16 even if either or both of the
found in the condominium unit. spouses are residing abroad.17 Indeed, the only two
types of defective marital unions under our laws have
No pronouncement as to costs. beenthe void and the voidable marriages. As such, the
remedies against such defective marriages have been
SO ORDERED.11 limited to the declaration of nullity ofthe marriage and
the annulment of the marriage.
On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioners
motion for reconsideration.13 It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First
Instance (CFI) of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican
Issues Republic issued the Divorce Decree dissolving the first
marriage of Atty. Luna and Eugenia.18 Conformably
In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for with the nationality rule, however, the divorce, even if
review on certiorarithat: voluntarily obtained abroad, did not dissolve the
marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, which
A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that subsisted up to the time of his death on July 12, 1997.
the Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement This finding conforms to the Constitution, which
executed by Luna and Respondent Eugenia was characterizes marriage as an inviolable social
unenforceable; hence, their conjugal partnership was institution,19 and regards it as a special contract of
not dissolved and liquidated; permanent union between a man and a woman for the
establishment of a conjugal and family life.20 The non-
B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not recognition of absolute divorce in the Philippines is a
recognizing the Dominican Republic courts approval of manifestation of the respect for the sanctity of the
the Agreement; marital union especially among Filipino citizens. It
affirms that the extinguishment of a valid marriage
C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that must be grounded only upon the death of either
Petitioner failed to adduce sufficient proof of actual spouse, or upon a ground expressly provided bylaw.
contribution to the acquisition of purchase of the For as long as this public policy on marriage between
subjectcondominium unit; and Filipinos exists, no divorce decree dissolving the
marriage between them can ever be given legal or
D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that judicial recognition and enforcement in this jurisdiction.
Petitioner was not entitled to the subject law books.14
2. The Agreement for Separation and Property
The decisive question to be resolved is who among the Settlement
contending parties should be entitled to the 25/100 pro was void for lack of court approval
indivisoshare in the condominium unit; and to the law
books (i.e., Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, The petitioner insists that the Agreement for
American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Separation and Property Settlement (Agreement) that
Reports). the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia had entered into and
executed in connection with the divorce proceedings
The resolution of the decisive question requires the before the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican
Court to ascertain the law that should determine, firstly, Republic to dissolve and liquidate their conjugal
whether the divorce between Atty. Luna and Eugenia partnership was enforceable against Eugenia. Hence,
Zaballero-Luna (Eugenia) had validly dissolved the first
the CA committed reversible error in decreeing
otherwise. The husband and the wife may agree upon the
dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the
The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted. marriage, subject to judicial approval. All the creditors
of the husband and of the wife, as well as of the
Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not conjugal partnership shall be notified of any petition for
entered into any marriage settlement prior to their judicialapproval or the voluntary dissolution of the
marriage on September 10, 1947, the system of conjugal partnership, so that any such creditors may
relative community or conjugal partnership of gains appear atthe hearing to safeguard his interests. Upon
governed their property relations. This is because the approval of the petition for dissolution of the conjugal
Spanish Civil Code, the law then in force at the time of partnership, the court shall take such measures as
their marriage, did not specify the property regime of may protect the creditors and other third persons.
the spouses in the event that they had not entered into
any marriage settlement before or at the time of the After dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the
marriage. Article 119 of the Civil Codeclearly so provisions of articles 214 and 215 shall apply. The
provides, to wit: provisions of this Code concerning the effect of
partition stated in articles 498 to 501 shall be
Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage applicable. (1433a)
settlements agree upon absolute or relative community
of property, or upon complete separation of property, But was not the approval of the Agreement by the CFI
or upon any other regime. In the absence of marriage of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic sufficient in
settlements, or when the same are void, the system of dissolving and liquidating the conjugal partnership of
relative community or conjugal partnership of gains as gains between the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia?
established in this Code, shall govern the property
relations between husband and wife. The query is answered in the negative. There is no
question that the approval took place only as an
Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal incident ofthe action for divorce instituted by Atty. Luna
partnership of gains thusly: and Eugenia, for, indeed, the justifications for their
execution of the Agreement were identical to the
Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of grounds raised in the action for divorce.21 With the
gains the husband and wife place in a common fund divorce not being itself valid and enforceable under
the fruits of their separate property and the income Philippine law for being contrary to Philippine public
from their work or industry, and divide equally, upon policy and public law, the approval of the Agreement
the dissolution of the marriage or of the partnership, was not also legally valid and enforceable under
the net gains or benefits obtained indiscriminately by Philippine law. Consequently, the conjugal partnership
either spouse during the marriage. of gains of Atty. Luna and Eugenia subsisted in the
lifetime of their marriage.
The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until
terminated for any of various causes of termination 3. Atty. Lunas marriage with Soledad, being bigamous,
enumerated in Article 175 of the Civil Code, viz: was void; properties acquired during their marriage
were governed by the rules on co-ownership
Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains
terminates: What law governed the property relations of the
second marriage between Atty. Luna and Soledad?
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
The CA expressly declared that Atty. Lunas
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation; subsequent marriage to Soledad on January 12, 1976
was void for being bigamous,22 on the ground that the
(3) When the marriage is annulled; marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not
been dissolved by the Divorce Decree rendered by the
(4) In case of judicial separation of property under CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic but
Article 191. had subsisted until the death of Atty. Luna on July 12,
1997.
The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna
and Eugenia did not per sedissolve and liquidate their The Court concurs with the CA.
conjugal partnership of gains. The approval of the
Agreement by a competent court was still required In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous,
under Article 190 and Article 191 of the Civil Code, as polygamous, or incestuous are void. Article 71 of the
follows: Civil Codeclearly states:

Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration in Article 71. All marriages performed outside the
the marriage settlements, the separation of property Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the
between spouses during the marriage shall not take country where they were performed, and valid there as
place save in virtue of a judicial order. (1432a) such, shall also be valid in this country, except
bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous marriages as
Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the determined by Philippine law.
separation of property, and it shall be decreed when
the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting
penalty which carries with it civil interdiction, or has a second or subsequent marriage before the first
been declared absent, or when legal separation has marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the
been granted. absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead
by means of a judgment rendered in the proper
xxxx
proceedings.23 A bigamous marriage is considered for solely out of her personal funds, proof of which Atty.
void ab initio.24 Luna had even sent her a "thank you" note;29 that she
had the financial capacity to make the contributions
Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and and purchases; and that Atty. Luna could not acquire
the petitioner being void ab initioby virtue of its being the properties on his own due to the meagerness of the
bigamous, the properties acquired during the bigamous income derived from his law practice.
marriage were governed by the rules on co-ownership,
conformably with Article 144 of the Civil Code, viz: Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on the
co-ownership?
Article 144. When a man and a woman live together as
husband and wife, but they are not married, ortheir In resolving the question, the CA entirely debunked the
marriage is void from the beginning, the property petitioners assertions on her actual contributions
acquired by eitheror both of them through their work or through the following findings and conclusions, namely:
industry or their wages and salaries shall be governed
by the rules on co-ownership.(n) SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance of
evidence that her own independent funds were used to
In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership buy the law office condominium and the law books
carried the burden of proof to confirm such subject matter in contentionin this case proof that
fact.1wphi1 To establish co-ownership, therefore, it was required for Article 144 of the New Civil Code and
became imperative for the petitioner to offer proof of Article 148 of the Family Code to apply as to cases
her actual contributions in the acquisition of property. where properties were acquired by a man and a
Her mere allegation of co-ownership, without sufficient woman living together as husband and wife but not
and competent evidence, would warrant no relief in her married, or under a marriage which was void ab initio.
favor. As the Court explained in Saguid v. Court of Under Article 144 of the New Civil Code, the rules on
Appeals:25 co-ownership would govern. But this was not readily
applicable to many situations and thus it created a void
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. at first because it applied only if the parties were not in
Fernandez, which involved the issue of co-ownership any way incapacitated or were without impediment to
ofproperties acquired by the parties to a bigamous marry each other (for it would be absurd to create a co-
marriage and an adulterous relationship, respectively, ownership where there still exists a prior conjugal
we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the partnership or absolute community between the man
acquisition of the property is essential. The claim of co- and his lawful wife). This void was filled upon adoption
ownership of the petitioners therein who were parties of the Family Code. Article 148 provided that: only the
to the bigamous and adulterousunion is without basis property acquired by both of the parties through their
because they failed to substantiate their allegation that actual joint contribution of money, property or industry
they contributed money in the purchase of the disputed shall be owned in common and in proportion to their
properties. Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals, we respective contributions. Such contributions and
ruled that the fact that the controverted property was corresponding shares were prima faciepresumed to be
titled in the name of the parties to an adulterous equal. However, for this presumption to arise, proof of
relationship is not sufficient proof of coownership actual contribution was required. The same rule and
absent evidence of actual contribution in the presumption was to apply to joint deposits of money
acquisition of the property. and evidence of credit. If one of the parties was validly
married to another, his or her share in the co-
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon ownership accrued to the absolute community or
the party who, as determined by the pleadings or the conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If
nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. the party who acted in bad faith was not validly married
Contentions must be proved by competent evidence to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the
and reliance must be had on the strength of the partys manner provided in the last paragraph of the Article
own evidence and not upon the weakness of the 147. The rules on forfeiture applied even if both parties
opponents defense. This applies with more vigor were in bad faith. Co-ownership was the exception
where, as in the instant case, the plaintiff was allowed while conjugal partnership of gains was the strict rule
to present evidence ex parte.1wphi1 The plaintiff is whereby marriage was an inviolable social institution
not automatically entitled to the relief prayed for. The and divorce decrees are not recognized in the
law gives the defendantsome measure of protection as Philippines, as was held by the Supreme Court in the
the plaintiff must still prove the allegations in the case of Tenchavez vs. Escao, G.R. No. L-19671,
complaint. Favorable relief can be granted only after November 29, 1965, 15 SCRA 355, thus:
the court isconvinced that the facts proven by the
plaintiff warrant such relief. Indeed, the party alleging a xxxx
fact has the burden of proving it and a mereallegation
is not evidence.26 As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in
the condominium unit, SOLEDAD failed to prove that
The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently she made an actual contribution to purchase the said
proved her actual contributions in the purchase of the property. She failed to establish that the four (4)
condominium unit in the aggregate amount of at least checks that she presented were indeed used for the
P306,572.00, consisting in direct contributions of acquisition of the share of ATTY. LUNA in the
P159,072.00, and in repaying the loans Atty. Luna had condominium unit. This was aptly explained in the
obtained from Premex Financing and Banco Filipino Decision of the trial court, viz.:
totaling P146,825.30;27 and that such aggregate
contributions of P306,572.00 corresponded to almost "x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for P55,000.00
the entire share of Atty. Luna in the purchase of the payable to Atty. Teresita Cruz Sison was issued on
condominium unit amounting to P362,264.00 of the January 27, 1977, which was thirteen (13) months
units purchase price of P1,449,056.00.28 The before the Memorandum of Agreement, Exhibit "7" was
petitioner further asserts that the lawbooks were paid signed. Another check issued on April 29, 1978 in the
amount of P97,588.89, Exhibit "P" was payable to WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision
Banco Filipino. According to the plaintiff, thiswas in promulgated on November 11, 2005; and ORDERS the
payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The third check petitioner to pay the costs of suit. SO ORDERED.
which was for P49,236.00 payable to PREMEX was
dated May 19, 1979, also for payment of the loan of
Atty. Luna. The fourth check, Exhibit "M", for P4,072.00 g.) Noveras vs Noveras
was dated December 17, 1980. None of the foregoing
prove that the amounts delivered by plaintiff to the Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 9
payees were for the acquisition of the subject May 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R
condominium unit. The connection was simply not .. CV No. 88686, which affirmed in part the 8
established. x x x" December 2006 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96.
SOLEDADs claim that she made a cash contribution
of P100,000.00 is unsubstantiated. Clearly, there is no The factual antecedents are as follow:
basis for SOLEDADs claim of co-ownership over the
25/100 portion of the condominium unit and the trial David A. Noveras (David) and Leticia T. Noveras
court correctly found that the same was acquired (Leticia) were married on 3 December 1988 in Quezon
through the sole industry of ATTY. LUNA, thus: City, Philippines. They resided in California, United
States of America (USA) where they eventually
"The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the acquired American citizenship. They then begot two
condominium unit was in the name of Atty. Luna, children, namely: Jerome T.
together with his partners in the law firm. The name of
the plaintiff does not appear as vendee or as the Noveras, who was born on 4 November 1990 and
spouse of Atty. Luna. The same was acquired for the JenaT. Noveras, born on 2 May 1993. David was
use of the Law firm of Atty. Luna. The loans from Allied engaged in courier service business while Leticia
Banking Corporation and Far East Bank and Trust worked as a nurse in San Francisco, California.
Company were loans of Atty. Luna and his partners
and plaintiff does not have evidence to show that she During the marriage, they acquired the following
paid for them fully or partially. x x x" properties in the Philippines and in the USA:

The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT


No. 21761 were in the name of "JUAN LUCES LUNA,
married to Soledad L. Luna" was no proof that
SOLEDAD was a co-owner of the condominium unit.
Acquisition of title and registration thereof are two
different acts. It is well settled that registration does not
confer title but merely confirms one already existing.
The phrase "married to" preceding "Soledad L. Luna"
is merely descriptive of the civil status of ATTY. LUNA.

SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer.


So it is but logical that SOLEDAD had no participation
in the law firm or in the purchase of books for the law
firm. SOLEDAD failed to prove that she had anything
to contribute and that she actually purchased or paid
for the law office amortization and for the law books. It
is more logical to presume that it was ATTY. LUNA
who bought the law office space and the law books
from his earnings from his practice of law rather than
embarrassingly beg or ask from SOLEDAD money for
use of the law firm that he headed.30

The Court upholds the foregoing findings and


conclusions by the CA both because they were
substantiated by the records and because we have not
been shown any reason to revisit and undo them.
Indeed, the petitioner, as the party claiming the co-
ownership, did not discharge her burden of proof. Her The Sampaloc property used to beowned by Davids
mere allegations on her contributions, not being parents. The parties herein secured a loan from a bank
evidence,31 did not serve the purpose. In contrast, and mortgaged the property. When said property was
given the subsistence of the first marriage between about to be foreclosed, the couple paid a total of P1.5
Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption that Atty. Million for the redemption of the same.
Luna acquired the properties out of his own personal
funds and effort remained. It should then be justly Due to business reverses, David left the USA and
concluded that the properties in litislegally pertained to returned to the Philippines in 2001. In December
their conjugal partnership of gains as of the time of his 2002,Leticia executed a Special Power of Attorney
death. Consequently, the sole ownership of the 25/100 (SPA) authorizing David to sell the Sampaloc property
pro indivisoshare of Atty. Luna in the condominium for P2.2 Million. According to Leticia, sometime in
unit, and of the lawbooks pertained to the respondents September 2003, David abandoned his family and
as the lawful heirs of Atty. Luna. lived with Estrellita Martinez in Aurora province. Leticia
claimed that David agreed toand executed a Joint
Affidavit with Leticia in the presence of Davids father,
Atty. Isaias Noveras, on 3 December 2003 stating that:
1) the P1.1Million proceeds from the sale of the
Sampaloc property shall be paid to and collected by
Leticia; 2) that David shall return and pay to Leticia Corollary to the aboveis the issue of:
P750,000.00, which is equivalent to half of the amount
of the redemption price of the Sampaloc property; and Whether or not the two common children of the parties
3) that David shall renounce and forfeit all his rights are entitled to support and presumptive legitimes.10
and interest in the conjugal and real properties situated
in the Philippines.5 David was able to collect On 8 December 2006, the RTC rendered judgment as
P1,790,000.00 from the sale of the Sampaloc property, follows:
leaving an unpaid balance of P410,000.00.
1. The absolute community of property of the parties is
Upon learning that David had an extra-marital affair, hereby declared DISSOLVED;
Leticia filed a petition for divorce with the Superior
Court of California, County of San Mateo, USA. The 2. The net assets of the absolute community of
California court granted the divorce on 24 June 2005 property ofthe parties in the Philippines are hereby
and judgment was duly entered on 29 June 2005.6 The ordered to be awarded to respondent David A.
California court granted to Leticia the custody of her Noveras only, with the properties in the United States
two children, as well as all the couples properties in of America remaining in the sole ownership of
the USA.7 petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana
pursuant to the divorce decree issuedby the Superior
On 8 August 2005, Leticia filed a petition for Judicial Court of California, County of San Mateo, United
Separation of Conjugal Property before the RTC of States of America, dissolving the marriage of the
Baler, Aurora. She relied on the 3 December 2003 parties as of June 24, 2005. The titles presently
Joint Affidavit and Davids failure to comply with his covering said properties shall be cancelled and new
obligation under the same. She prayed for: 1) the titles be issued in the name of the party to whom said
power to administer all conjugal properties in the properties are awarded;
Philippines; 2) David and his partner to cease and
desist from selling the subject conjugal properties; 3) 3. One-half of the properties awarded to respondent
the declaration that all conjugal properties be forfeited David A. Noveras in the preceding paragraph are
in favor of her children; 4) David to remit half of the hereby given to Jerome and Jena, his two minor
purchase price as share of Leticia from the sale of the children with petitioner LeticiaNoveras a.k.a. Leticia
Sampaloc property; and 5) the payment ofP50,000.00 Tacbiana as their presumptive legitimes and said
and P100,000.00 litigation expenses.8 legitimes must be annotated on the titles covering the
said properties.Their share in the income from these
In his Answer, David stated that a judgment for the properties shall be remitted to them annually by the
dissolution of their marriage was entered on 29 June respondent within the first half of January of each year,
2005 by the Superior Court of California, County of starting January 2008;
San Mateo. He demanded that the conjugal
partnership properties, which also include the USA 4. One-half of the properties in the United States of
properties, be liquidated and that all expenses of America awarded to petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a.
liquidation, including attorneys fees of both parties be Leticia Tacbiana in paragraph 2 are hereby given to
charged against the conjugal partnership.9 Jerome and Jena, her two minor children with
respondent David A. Noveras as their presumptive
The RTC of Baler, Aurora simplified the issues as legitimes and said legitimes must be annotated on the
follow: titles/documents covering the said properties. Their
share in the income from these properties, if any, shall
1. Whether or not respondent David A. Noveras be remitted to them annually by the petitioner within
committed acts of abandonment and marital infidelity the first half of January of each year, starting January
which can result intothe forfeiture of the parties 2008;
properties in favor of the petitioner and their two (2)
children. 5. For the support of their two (2) minor children,
Jerome and Jena, respondent David A. Noveras shall
2. Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over the give them US$100.00 as monthly allowance in addition
properties in California, U.S.A. and the same can be to their income from their presumptive legitimes, while
included in the judicial separation prayed for. petitioner Leticia Tacbiana shall take care of their food,
clothing, education and other needs while they are in
3. Whether or not the "Joint Affidavit" x x x executed by her custody in the USA. The monthly allowance due
petitioner Leticia T. Noveras and respondent David A. from the respondent shall be increased in the future as
Noveras will amount to a waiver or forfeiture of the the needs of the children require and his financial
latters property rights over their conjugal properties. capacity can afford;

4. Whether or not Leticia T. Noveras isentitled to 6. Of the unpaid amount of P410,000.00 on the
reimbursement of onehalf of the P2.2 [M]illion sales purchase price of the Sampaloc property, the Paringit
proceeds of their property in Sampaloc, Manila and Spouses are hereby ordered to pay P5,000.00 to
one-half of the P1.5 [M]illion used to redeem the respondent David A. Noveras and P405,000.00 to the
property of Atty. Isaias Noveras, including interests and two children. The share of the respondent may be paid
charges. to him directly but the share of the two children shall be
deposited with a local bank in Baler, Aurora, in a joint
5. How the absolute community properties should be account tobe taken out in their names, withdrawal from
distributed. which shall only be made by them or by their
representative duly authorized with a Special Power of
6. Whether or not the attorneys feesand litigation Attorney. Such payment/deposit shall be made
expenses of the parties were chargeable against their withinthe period of thirty (30) days after receipt of a
conjugal properties. copy of this Decision, with the passbook of the joint
account to be submitted to the custody of the Clerk of 4. One-half of the properties awarded to petitioner
Court of this Court within the same period. Said Leticia Tacbiana (sic) in paragraph 2 shall pertain to
passbook can be withdrawn from the Clerk of Court her minor children, Jerome and Jena, as their
only by the children or their attorney-in-fact; and presumptive legitimes which shall be annotated on the
titles/documents covering the said properties. Their
7. The litigation expenses and attorneys fees incurred share in the income therefrom, if any, shall be remitted
by the parties shall be shouldered by them to them by petitioner annually within the first half of
individually.11 January, starting 2008;

The trial court recognized that since the parties are US xxx
citizens, the laws that cover their legal and
personalstatus are those of the USA. With respect to 6. Respondent David A. Noveras and petitioner Leticia
their marriage, the parties are divorced by virtue of the Tacbiana (sic) are each ordered to pay the amount
decree of dissolution of their marriage issued by the ofP520,000.00 to their two children, Jerome and Jena,
Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo on as their presumptive legitimes from the sale of the
24June 2005. Under their law, the parties marriage Sampaloc property inclusive of the receivables
had already been dissolved. Thus, the trial court therefrom, which shall be deposited to a local bank of
considered the petition filed by Leticia as one for Baler, Aurora, under a joint account in the latters
liquidation of the absolute community of property names. The payment/deposit shall be made within a
regime with the determination of the legitimes, support period of thirty (30) days from receipt ofa copy of this
and custody of the children, instead of an action for Decision and the corresponding passbook entrusted to
judicial separation of conjugal property. the custody ofthe Clerk of Court a quowithin the same
period, withdrawable only by the children or their
With respect to their property relations, the trial court attorney-in-fact.
first classified their property regime as absolute
community of property because they did not execute A number 8 is hereby added, which shall read as
any marriage settlement before the solemnization of follows:
their marriage pursuant to Article 75 of the Family
Code. Then, the trial court ruled that in accordance 8. Respondent David A. Noveras is hereby ordered to
with the doctrine of processual presumption, Philippine pay petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) the amount of
law should apply because the court cannot take judicial P1,040,000.00 representing her share in the proceeds
notice of the US law since the parties did not submit from the sale of the Sampaloc property.
any proof of their national law. The trial court held that
as the instant petition does not fall under the provisions The last paragraph shall read as follows:
of the law for the grant of judicial separation of
properties, the absolute community properties cannot Send a copy of this Decision to the local civil registry of
beforfeited in favor of Leticia and her children. Baler, Aurora; the local civil registry of Quezon City;
Moreover, the trial court observed that Leticia failed to the Civil RegistrarGeneral, National Statistics Office,
prove abandonment and infidelity with preponderant Vibal Building, Times Street corner EDSA, Quezon
evidence. City; the Office of the Registry of Deeds for the
Province of Aurora; and to the children, Jerome
The trial court however ruled that Leticia is not entitled Noveras and Jena Noveras.
to the reimbursements she is praying for considering
that she already acquired all of the properties in the The rest of the Decision is AFFIRMED.12
USA. Relying still on the principle of equity, the Court
also adjudicated the Philippine properties to David, In the present petition, David insists that the Court of
subject to the payment of the childrens presumptive Appeals should have recognized the California
legitimes. The trial court held that under Article 89 of Judgment which awarded the Philippine properties to
the Family Code, the waiver or renunciation made by him because said judgment was part of the pleading
David of his property rights in the Joint Affidavit is void. presented and offered in evidence before the trial
court. David argues that allowing Leticia to share in the
On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the trial Philippine properties is tantamount to unjust
courts Decision by directing the equal division of the enrichment in favor of Leticia considering that the latter
Philippine properties between the spouses. Moreover was already granted all US properties by the California
with respect to the common childrens presumptive court.
legitime, the appellate court ordered both spouses to
each pay their children the amount of P520,000.00, In summary and review, the basic facts are: David and
thus: Leticia are US citizens who own properties in the USA
and in the Philippines. Leticia obtained a decree of
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTLY divorce from the Superior Court of California in June
GRANTED. Numbers 2, 4 and 6 of the 2005 wherein the court awarded all the properties in
assailedDecision dated December 8, 2006 of Branch the USA to Leticia. With respect to their properties in
96, RTC of Baler, Aurora Province, in Civil Case No. the Philippines, Leticiafiled a petition for judicial
828 are hereby MODIFIED to read as follows: separation ofconjugal properties.

2. The net assets of the absolute community of At the outset, the trial court erred in recognizing the
property of the parties in the Philippines are hereby divorce decree which severed the bond of marriage
divided equally between petitioner Leticia Noveras between the parties. In Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas,13 we
a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana (sic) and respondent David A. stated that:
Noveras;
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign
xxx divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our
courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments
and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no As a general rule, any modification in the marriage
sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to settlements must be made before the celebration of
a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country." marriage. An exception to this rule is allowed provided
This means that the foreign judgment and its that the modification isjudicially approved and refers
authenticity must beproven as facts under our rules on only to the instances provided in Articles 66,67, 128,
evidence, together with the aliens applicable national 135 and 136 of the Family Code.18
law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien
himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an Leticia anchored the filing of the instant petition for
action instituted specifically for the purpose or in judicial separation of property on paragraphs 4 and 6
another action where a party invokes the foreign of Article 135 of the Family Code, to wit:
decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense.14
Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered
The requirements of presenting the foreign divorce sufficient cause for judicial separation of property:
decree and the national law of the foreigner must
comply with our Rules of Evidence. Specifically, for (1) That the spouse of the petitioner has been
Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil
relating to the status of a marriage, a copy of the interdiction;
foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and
proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, (2) That the spouse of the petitioner has been judicially
in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of declared an absentee;
Court.15
(3) That loss of parental authority ofthe spouse of
Under Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public petitioner has been decreed by the court;
documents of a sovereign authority or tribunal may be
proved by: (1) an official publication thereof or (2) a (4) That the spouse of the petitioner has abandoned
copy attested by the officer having the legal custody the latter or failed to comply with his or her obligations
thereof. Such official publication or copy must to the family as provided for in Article 101;
beaccompanied, if the record is not kept in the
Philippines, with a certificate that the attesting officer (5) That the spouse granted the power of
has the legal custody thereof. The certificate may be administration in the marriage settlements has abused
issued by any of the authorized Philippine embassy or that power; and
consular officials stationed in the foreign country in
which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal (6) That at the time of the petition, the spouses have
of his office. The attestation must state, in substance, been separated in fact for at least one year and
that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a reconciliation is highly improbable.
specific part thereof, asthe case may be, and must be
under the official seal of the attesting officer. In the cases provided for in Numbers (1), (2), and (3),
the presentation of the final judgment against the
Section 25 of the same Rule states that whenever a guiltyor absent spouse shall be enough basis for the
copy of a document or record is attested for the grant of the decree ofjudicial separation of property.
purpose of evidence, the attestation must state, in (Emphasis supplied).
substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the
original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The trial court had categorically ruled that there was no
The attestation must be under the official seal of the abandonment in this case to necessitate judicial
attesting officer, if there be any, or if hebe the clerk of a separation of properties under paragraph 4 of Article
court having a seal, under the seal of such court. 135 of the Family Code. The trial court ratiocinated:

Based on the records, only the divorce decree was Moreover, abandonment, under Article 101 of the
presented in evidence. The required certificates to Family Code quoted above, must be for a valid cause
prove its authenticity, as well as the pertinent California and the spouse is deemed to have abandoned the
law on divorce were not presented. other when he/she has left the conjugal dwelling
without intention of returning. The intention of not
It may be noted that in Bayot v. Court of Appeals,16 we returning is prima facie presumed if the allegedly [sic]
relaxed the requirement on certification where we held abandoning spouse failed to give any information as to
that "[petitioner therein] was clearly an American his or her whereabouts within the period of three
citizenwhen she secured the divorce and that divorce months from such abandonment.
is recognized and allowed in any of the States of the
Union, the presentation of a copy of foreign divorce In the instant case, the petitioner knows that the
decree duly authenticatedby the foreign court issuing respondent has returned to and stayed at his
said decree is, as here, sufficient." In this case hometown in Maria Aurora, Philippines, as she even
however, it appears that there is no seal from the office went several times to visit him there after the alleged
where the divorce decree was obtained. abandonment. Also, the respondent has been going
back to the USA to visit her and their children until the
Even if we apply the doctrine of processual relations between them worsened. The last visit of said
presumption17 as the lower courts did with respect to respondent was in October 2004 when he and the
the property regime of the parties, the recognition of petitioner discussed the filing by the latter of a petition
divorce is entirely a different matter because, to begin for dissolution of marriage with the California court.
with, divorce is not recognized between Filipino Such turn for the worse of their relationship and the
citizens in the Philippines. Absent a valid recognition of filing of the saidpetition can also be considered as valid
the divorce decree, it follows that the parties are still causes for the respondent to stay in the Philippines.19
legally married in the Philippines. The trial court thus
erred in proceeding directly to liquidation. Separation in fact for one year as a ground to grant a
judicial separation of property was not tackled in the
trial courts decision because, the trial court property at the time of the celebration of the marriage
erroneously treated the petition as liquidation of the and the market value at the time of its dissolution.
absolute community of properties.
(5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children
The records of this case are replete with evidence that shall be delivered upon partition, in accordance with
Leticia and David had indeed separated for more than Article 51.
a year and that reconciliation is highly improbable.
First, while actual abandonment had not been proven, (6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the
it is undisputed that the spouses had been living partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and
separately since 2003 when David decided to go back the lot on which it is situated shall be adjudicated tothe
to the Philippines to set up his own business. Second, spouse with whom the majority of the common children
Leticia heard from her friends that David has been choose to remain. Children below the age of seven
cohabiting with Estrellita Martinez, who represented years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless
herself as Estrellita Noveras. Editha Apolonio, who the court has decided otherwise. In case there is no
worked in the hospital where David was once confined, such majority, the court shall decide, taking into
testified that she saw the name of Estrellita listed as consideration the best interests of said children. At the
the wife of David in the Consent for Operation form.20 risk of being repetitious, we will not remand the case to
Third and more significantly, they had filed for divorce the trial court. Instead, we shall adopt the modifications
and it was granted by the California court in June 2005. made by the Court of Appeals on the trial courts
Decision with respect to liquidation.
Having established that Leticia and David had actually
separated for at least one year, the petition for judicial We agree with the appellate court that the Philippine
separation of absolute community of property should courts did not acquire jurisdiction over the California
be granted. properties of David and Leticia. Indeed, Article 16 of
the Civil Code clearly states that real property as well
The grant of the judicial separation of the absolute as personal property is subject to the law of the country
community property automatically dissolves the where it is situated. Thus, liquidation shall only be
absolute community regime, as stated in the 4th limited to the Philippine properties.
paragraph of Article 99 ofthe Family Code, thus:
We affirm the modification madeby the Court of
Art. 99. The absolute community terminates: Appeals with respect to the share of the spouses in the
absolutecommunity properties in the Philippines, as
(1) Upon the death of either spouse; well as the payment of their childrens presumptive
legitimes, which the appellate court explained in this
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation; wise:

(3) When the marriage is annulled or declared void; or Leticia and David shall likewise have an equal share in
the proceeds of the Sampaloc property.1wphi1 While
(4) In case of judicial separation of property during the both claimed to have contributed to the redemption of
marriage under Articles 134 to 138. (Emphasis the Noveras property, absent a clear showing where
supplied). their contributions came from, the same is presumed to
have come from the community property. Thus, Leticia
Under Article 102 of the same Code, liquidation follows is not entitled to reimbursement of half of the
the dissolution of the absolute community regime and redemption money.
the following procedure should apply:
David's allegation that he used part of the proceeds
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community from the sale of the Sampaloc property for the benefit
regime, the following procedure shall apply: of the absolute community cannot be given full
credence. Only the amount of P120,000.00 incurred in
(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all going to and from the U.S.A. may be charged thereto.
the properties of the absolute community and the Election expenses in the amount of P300,000.00 when
exclusive properties of each spouse. he ran as municipal councilor cannot be allowed in the
absence of receipts or at least the Statement of
(2) The debts and obligations of the absolute Contributions and Expenditures required under Section
community shall be paid out of its assets. In case of 14 of Republic Act No. 7166 duly received by the
insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be Commission on Elections. Likewise, expenses incurred
solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their to settle the criminal case of his personal driver is not
separate properties in accordance with the provisions deductible as the same had not benefited the family. In
of the second paragraph of Article 94. sum, Leticia and David shall share equally in the
proceeds of the sale net of the amount of P120,000.00
(3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the or in the respective amounts of P1,040,000.00.
spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of them.
xxxx
(4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute
community shall constitute its net assets, which shall Under the first paragraph of Article 888 of the Civil
be divided equally between husband and wife, unless a Code, "(t)he legitime of legitimate children and
different proportion or division was agreed upon in the descendants consists of one-half or the hereditary
marriage settlements, or unless there has been a estate of the father and of the mother." The children
voluntary waiver of such share provided in this Code. arc therefore entitled to half of the share of each
For purposes of computing the net profits subject to spouse in the net assets of the absolute community,
forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and which shall be annotated on the titles/documents
63, No. (2),the said profits shall be the increase in covering the same, as well as to their respective
value between the market value of the community shares in the net proceeds from the sale of the
Sampaloc property including the receivables from Sps. approval by the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA).
Paringit in the amount of P410,000.00. Consequently, Although CCT No. 18186 contained Entry No.
David and Leticia should each pay them the amount of 66432/C-10186 dated February 2, 1999 representing a
P520,000.00 as their presumptive legitimes mortgage in favor of Orion for a P1,000,000.00 loan,
therefrom.21 that annotation was subsequently cancelled on June
16, 2000 by Entry No. 73232/T. No. 10186. Despite the
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed cancellation of the mortgage to Orion, the titles to the
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. properties remained in possession of Perez.
88686 is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.
To protect his interests, Suzuki thenexecuted an
Affidavit of Adverse Claim12 dated September 8, 2003,
h.) Orion Savings Bank vs Suzuki withthe Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong City,
annotated as Entry No. 3292/C-No. 18186 in CCT No.
Before us is the Petition for Review on Certiorari1 filed 18186. Suzuki then demanded the delivery of the
by petitioner Orion Savings Bank (Orion) under Rule titles.13 Orion, (through Perez), however, refused to
45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the decision2 dated surrender the titles, and cited the need to consult
August 23, 2012 and the resolution3 dated January 25, Orions legal counsel as its reason.
2013 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
94104. On October 14, 2003, Suzuki received a letter from
Orions counsel dated October 9, 2003, stating that
The Factual Antecedents Kang obtained another loan in the amount of
P1,800,000.00. When Kang failed to pay, he executed
In the first week of August 2003, respondent a Dacion en Pagodated February 2, 2003, in favorof
Shigekane Suzuki (Suzuki), a Japanese national, met Orion covering Unit No. 536. Orion, however, did not
with Ms. Helen Soneja (Soneja) to inquire about a register the Dacion en Pago, until October 15, 2003.
condominium unit and a parking slot at Cityland
Pioneer, Mandaluyong City, allegedly owned by Yung On October 28, 2003, Suzuki executed an Affidavit of
Sam Kang (Kang), a Korean national and a Special Adverse Claim over Parking Slot No. 42 (covered by
Resident Retiree's Visa (SRRV) holder. CCT No. 9118) and this was annotated as Entry No.
4712/C-No. 9118 in the parking lots title.
At the meeting, Soneja informed Suzuki that Unit No.
536 [covered by Condominium Certificate of Title On January 27, 2004, Suzuki filed a complaint for
(CCT) No. 18186]4 and Parking Slot No. 42 [covered specific performance and damages against Kang and
by CCT No. 9118]5 were for sale for P3,000,000.00. Orion. At the pre-trial, the parties made the following
Soneja likewise assured Suzuki that the titles to the admissions and stipulations:
unit and the parking slot were clean. After a brief
negotiation, the parties agreed to reduce the price to 1. That as of August 26, 2003, Kang was the registered
P2,800,000.00. On August 5, 2003, Suzuki issued owner of Unit No. 536 and Parking Slot No. 42;
Kang a Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) Check No.
833496 for One Hundred Thousand Pesos 2. That the mortgage in favor ofOrion supposedly
(P100,000.00) as reservation fee.7 On August 21, executed by Kang, with Entry No. 66432/C-10186
2003, Suzuki issued Kang another check, BPI Check dated February 2, 1999, was subsequently cancelled
No. 83350,8 this time for P2,700,000.00 representing by Entry No. 73232/T No. 10186 dated June 16, 2000;
the remaining balance of the purchase price. Suzuki
and Kang then executed a Deed of Absolute Sale 3. That the alleged Dacion en Pagowas never
dated August 26, 20039 covering Unit No. 536 and annotated in CCT Nos. 18186 and 9118;
Parking Slot No. 42. Soon after, Suzuki took
possession of the condominium unit and parking lot, 4. That Orion only paid the appropriate capital gains
and commenced the renovation of the interior of the tax and the documentary stamp tax for the alleged
condominium unit. Dacion en Pago on October 15, 2003;

Kang thereafter made several representations with 5. That Parking Slot No. 42, covered by CCT No. 9118,
Suzuki to deliver the titles to the properties, which were was never mortgaged to Orion; and
then allegedly in possession of Alexander Perez
(Perez, Orions Loans Officer) for safekeeping. Despite 6. That when Suzuki bought the properties, he went to
several verbal demands, Kang failed to deliver the Orion to obtain possession of the titles.
documents. Suzuki later on learned that Kang had left
the country, prompting Suzuki to verify the status of the The RTC Ruling
properties with the Mandaluyong City Registry of
Deeds. In its decision14 dated June 29, 2009, the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 213, Mandaluyong City ruled
Before long, Suzuki learned that CCT No. 9118 infavor of Suzuki and ordered Orion to deliver the CCT
representing the title to the Parking Slot No. 42 Nos. 18186 and 9118 to Suzuki.
contained no annotations although it remained under
the name of Cityland Pioneer. This notwithstanding, The court found that Suzuki was an innocent purchaser
Cityland Pioneer, through Assistant Vice President for value whose rights over the properties prevailed
Rosario D. Perez, certified that Kang had fully paid the over Orions. The RTC further noted that Suzuki
purchase price of Unit. No. 53610 and Parking Slot No. exerted efforts to verify the status of the properties but
42.11 CCT No. 18186 representing the title to the he did not find any existing encumbrance inthe titles.
condominium unit had no existing encumbrance, Although Orion claims to have purchased the property
except for anannotation under Entry No. 73321/C- by way of a Dacion en Pago, Suzuki only learned
10186 which provided that any conveyance or about it two (2) months after he bought the properties
encumbrance of CCT No. 18186 shall be subject to
because Orion never bothered to register or annotate examine certain factual issues in the exercise of our
the Dacion en Pagoin CCT Nos. 18186 and 9116. sound discretion to correct any mistaken inference that
may have been made.19
The RTC further ordered Orion and Kang to jointly and
severally pay Suzuki moral damages, exemplary Philippine Law governs the transfer of real property
damages, attorneys fees, appearance fees, expenses
for litigation and cost ofsuit. Orion timely appealed the Orion believes that the CA erred in not ruling on the
RTC decision with the CA. issue of spousal consent. We cannot uphold this
position, however, because the issue of spousal
The CA Ruling consent was only raised on appeal to the CA. It is a
well-settled principle that points of law, theories,
On August 23, 2012, the CA partially granted Orions issues, and arguments not brought to the attention of
appeal and sustained the RTC insofar as it upheld the trial court cannot be raised for the first time on
Suzukis right over the properties. The CA further noted appeal and considered by a reviewing court.20 To
that Entry No. 73321/C-10186 pertaining to the consider these belated arguments would violate basic
withdrawal of investment of an SRRV only serves as a principles of fairplay, justice, and due process.
warning to an SRRV holder about the implications of a
conveyance of a property investment. It deviated from Having said these, we shall nonetheless discuss the
the RTC ruling, however, by deleting the award for issues Orion belatedly raised, if only to put an end to
moral damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, lingering doubts on the correctness of the denial of the
expenses for litigation and cost of suit. present petition.

It is a universal principle thatreal or immovable


Orion sought a reconsideration of the CA decision but property is exclusively subject to the laws of the
the CA denied the motion in its January 25, 2013 country or state where it is located.21 The reason is
resolution. Orion then filed a petition for review on found in the very nature of immovable property its
certiorariunder Rule 45 with this Court. immobility. Immovables are part of the country and so
closely connected to it that all rights over them have
The Petition and Comment their natural center of gravity there.22

Orions petition is based on the following Thus, all matters concerning the titleand disposition
grounds/arguments:15 ofreal property are determined by what is known as the
lex loci rei sitae, which can alone prescribe the mode
1. The Deed of Sale executed by Kang in favor of by which a title canpass from one person to another, or
Suzuki is null and void. Under Korean law, any by which an interest therein can be gained or lost.23
conveyance of a conjugal property should be made This general principle includes all rules governing the
with the consent of both spouses; descent, alienation and transfer of immovable property
and the validity, effect and construction of wills and
2. Suzuki is not a buyer in good faith for he failed to other conveyances.24
check the owners duplicate copies of the CCTs;
This principle even governs the capacity of the person
3. Knowledge of the PRA restriction under Entry No. making a deed relating to immovable property, no
73321/C-10186, which prohibits any conveyance or matter what its nature may be. Thus, an instrument will
encumbrance of the property investment, defeats the be ineffective to transfer title to land if the person
alleged claim of good faith by Suzuki; and making it is incapacitated by the lex loci rei sitae, even
though under the law of his domicile and by the law of
4. Orion should not be faulted for exercising due the place where the instrument is actually made, his
diligence. capacity is undoubted.25

In his Comment,16 Suzuki asserts that the issue on On the other hand, property relations between spouses
spousal consent was belatedly raised on appeal. are governed principally by the national law of the
Moreover, proof of acquisition during the marital spouses.26 However, the party invoking the application
coverture is a condition sine qua nonfor the operation of a foreign law has the burden of proving the foreign
of the presumption of conjugal ownership.17 Suzuki law. The foreign law is a question of fact to be properly
additionally maintains that he is a purchaser in good pleaded and proved as the judge cannot take judicial
faith, and is thus entitled to the protection of the law. notice of a foreign law.27 He is presumed to know only
domestic or the law of the forum.28
The Courts Ruling
To prove a foreign law, the party invoking it must
We deny the petition for lack of merit. present a copy thereof and comply with Sections 24
and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court
The Court may inquire into conclusions of fact when which reads:
the inference made is manifestly mistaken
SEC. 24. Proof of official record. The record of
In a Rule 45 petition, the latitude of judicial review public documents referred to in paragraph (a) of
generally excludes a factual and evidentiary re- Section 19, when admissible for any purpose, may be
evaluation, and the Court ordinarily abides by the evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a
uniform factual conclusions of the trial court and the copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of
appellate court.18 In the present case, while the courts the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the
below both arrived at the same conclusion, there record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate
appears tobe an incongruence in their factual findings that such officer has the custody. If the office in which
and the legal principle they applied to the attendant the record is kept is in a foreign country, the certificate
factual circumstances. Thus, we are compelled to may be made by a secretary of the embassy or
legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the person
consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service who presents the oldest title, provided there is good
of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country faith.
inwhich the record is kept, and authenticated by the
seal of his office. (Emphasis supplied) The application of Article 1544 of the New Civil Code
presupposes the existence of two or more duly
SEC. 25. What attestation ofcopy must state. executed contracts of sale. In the present case, the
Whenever a copy of a document or record is attested Deed of Sale dated August 26, 200335 between
for the purpose of the evidence, the attestation must Suzuki and Kang was admitted by Orion36 and was
state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of properly identified by Suzukis witness Ms. Mary Jane
the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may Samin (Samin).37
be. The attestation must be under the official seal of
the attesting officer, if there be any, or if he be the clerk It is not disputed, too, that the Deed of Sale dated
of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court. August 26, 2003 was consummated. In a contract of
sale, the seller obligates himself to transfer the
Accordingly, matters concerning the title and ownership of the determinate thing sold, and to deliver
disposition of real property shall be governed by the same to the buyer, who obligates himself to pay a
Philippine law while issues pertaining to the conjugal price certain to the seller.38 The execution of the
natureof the property shall be governed by South notarized deed of saleand the actual transfer of
Korean law, provided it is proven as a fact. possession amounted to delivery that produced the
legal effect of transferring ownership to Suzuki.39
In the present case, Orion, unfortunately failed to prove
the South Korean law on the conjugal ownership On the other hand, although Orion claims priority in
ofproperty. It merely attached a "Certification from the right under the principle of prius tempore, potior jure
Embassy of the Republic of Korea"29 to prove the (i.e.,first in time, stronger in right), it failedto prove the
existence of Korean Law. This certification, does not existence and due execution of the Dacion en Pagoin
qualify as sufficient proof of the conjugal nature of the its favor.
property for there is no showing that it was properly
authenticated bythe seal of his office, as required At the outset, Orion offered the Dacion en Pagoas
under Section 24 of Rule 132.30 Exhibit "5"with submarkings "5-a" to "5-c" to prove the
existence of the February 6, 2003 transaction in its
Accordingly, the International Law doctrine of Formal Offer dated July 20, 2008. Orion likewise
presumed-identity approachor processual presumption offered in evidence the supposed promissory note
comes into play, i.e., where a foreign law is not dated September 4, 2002 as Exhibit "12"to prove the
pleaded or, evenif pleaded, is not proven, the existence of the additional P800,000.00 loan. The
presumption is that foreign law is the same as RTC, however, denied the admission of Exhibits "5"
Philippine Law.31 and "12,"among others, in its order dated August 19,
2008 "since the same [were] not identified in court by
Under Philippine Law, the phrase "Yung Sam Kang any witness."40
married to' Hyun Sook Jung" is merely descriptive of
the civil status of Kang.32 In other words, the import Despite the exclusion of its most critical documentary
from the certificates of title is that Kang is the owner of evidence, Orion failed to make a tender ofexcluded
the properties as they are registered in his name alone, evidence, as provided under Section 40, Rule 132 of
and that he is married to Hyun Sook Jung. the Rules of Court. For this reason alone, we are
prevented from seriously considering Exhibit "5" and its
We are not unmindful that in numerous cases we have submarkings and Exhibit "12" in the present petition.
held that registration of the property in the name of
only one spouse does not negate the possibility of it Moreover, even if we consider Exhibit "5" and its
being conjugal or community property.33 In those submarkings and Exhibit "12" in the present petition,
cases, however, there was proof that the properties, the copious inconsistencies and contradictions in the
though registered in the name of only one spouse, testimonial and documentary evidence of Orion,
were indeed either conjugal or community militate against the conclusion that the Dacion en
properties.34 Accordingly, we see no reason to declare Pagowas duly executed. First, there appears to be no
as invalid Kangs conveyance in favor of Suzuki for the due and demandable obligation when the Dacion en
supposed lack of spousal consent. Pago was executed, contrary to the allegations of
Orion. Orions witness Perez tried to impress upon the
The petitioner failed to adduce sufficient evidence to RTC that Kang was in default in his P1,800,000.00
prove the due execution of the Dacion en Pago loan. During his direct examination, he stated:

Article 1544 of the New Civil Codeof the Philippines ATTY. CRUZAT:
provides that:
Q: Okay, so this loan of P1.8 million, what happened to
ART. 1544. If the same thing should have been sold to this loan, Mr. Witness?
different vendees, the ownership shall be transferred to
the person who may have first taken possession A: Well it became past due, there has been delayed
thereof in good faith, if it should be movable property. interest payment by Mr. Kangand...

Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall Q: So what did you do after there were defaults[?]
belong to the person acquiring it who in good faith first
recorded it in the Registry of Property. A: We have to secure the money or the investment of
the bank through loans and we have executed a
Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall dacion en pagobecause Mr. Kang said he has no
pertain to the person who in good faith was first in the
money. So we just execute[d] the dacion en pago
rather than going through the Foreclosure proceedings. Q: Would you know if there is any other document like
a supplement to that Credit Line Agreement referring to
xxxx this 1.8 million peso loan by Mr. Yung Sam Kang which
says that there was a subsequent collateralization or
Q: Can you tell the court when was this executed? security given by Mr. Yung [Sam]

A: February 6, 2003, your Honor.41 Kang for the loan?

A reading of the supposed promissory note, however, xxxx


shows that there was nodefault to speak of when the
supposed Dacion en Pagowas executed. A: The [dacion en pago], sir.44

Based on the promissory note, Kangs loan obligation Fourth,the Dacion en Pago was first mentioned only
wouldmature only on August 27, 2003. Neither can two (2) months after Suzuki and Samin demanded the
Orion claim that Kang had been in default in his delivery of the titles sometime in August 2003,and after
installment payments because the wordings of the Suzuki caused the annotation of his affidavit of adverse
promissory note provide that "[t]he principal of this claim. Records show that it was only on October 9,
loanand its interest and other charges shall be paid by 2003, when Orion, through its counsel, Cristobal Balbin
me/us in accordance hereunder: SINGLE PAYMENT Mapile & Associates first spoke of the Dacion en
LOANS.42 "There was thus no due and demandable Pago.45 Not even Perez mentioned any Dacion en
loan obligation when the alleged Dacion en Pago was Pago on October 1, 2003, when he personally received
executed. a letter demanding the delivery of the titles.Instead,
Perez refused to accept the letter and opted to first
Second, Perez, the supposed person who prepared consult with his lawyer.46
the Dacion en Pago,appears to only have a vague idea
of the transaction he supposedly prepared. During his Notably, even the October 9, 2003 letter contained
cross-examination, he testified: material inconsistencies in its recital of facts
surrounding the execution of the Dacion en Pago. In
ATTY. DE CASTRO: particular, it mentioned that "on [September 4, 2002],
after paying the original loan, [Kang] applied and was
Q: And were you the one who prepared this [dacion en granted a new Credit Line Facility by [Orion] x x x for
pago] Mr. witness? ONE MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND
PESOS (P1,800,000.00)." Perez, however, testified
A: Yes, sir. I personally prepared this. that there was "no cash movement" in the original
P1,000,000.00 loan. In his testimony, he said:
xxxx
COURT:
Q: So this 1.8 million pesos is already inclusive of all
the penalties, interest and surcharge due from Mr. xxxx
Yung Sam Kang?
Q: Would you remember what was the subject matter
A: Its just the principal, sir. of that real estate mortgage for that first P1,000,000.00
loan?
Q: So you did not state the interest [and] penalties?
A: Its a condominium Unit in Cityland, sir.
A: In the [dacion en pago], we do not include interest,
sir. We may actually includethat but.... xxxx

Q: Can you read the Second Whereas Clause, Mr. Q: Would you recall if there was any payment by Mr.
Witness? Yung Sam Kang of this P1,000,000.00 loan?

A: Whereas the first party failed to pay the said loan to A: None sir.
the second party and as of February 10, 2003, the
outstanding obligation which is due and demandable Q: No payments?
principal and interest and other charges included
amounts to P1,800,000.00 pesos, sir. A: None sir.

xxxx Q: And from 1999 to 2002, there was no payment,


either by way of payment to the principal, by way
Q: You are now changing your answer[.] [I]t now ofpayment of interest, there was no payment by Mr.
includes interest and other charges, based on this Yung Sam Kang of this loan?
document?
A: Literally, there was no actual cash movement, sir.
A: Yes, based on that document, sir.43
Q: There was no actual cash?
Third, the Dacion en Pago,mentioned that the
P1,800,000.00 loan was secured by a real estate A: Yes, sir.
mortgage. However, no document was ever presented
to prove this real estate mortgage aside from it being Q: And yet despite no payment, the bank Orion
mentioned in the Dacion en Pago itself. Savings Bank still extended an P800,000.00 additional
right?
ATTY. DE CASTRO:
A: Yes, sir.47 We reject this suggested approachoutright because, to
our mind, the PRA restriction cannot affect the
Fifth, it is undisputed that notwithstanding the conveyance in favor of Suzuki. On this particular point,
supposed execution of theDacion en Pago on February we concur withthe following findings of the CA:
2, 2003, Kang remained in possession of the
condominium unit. In fact, nothing in the records shows x x x the annotation merely servesas a warning to the
that Orion even bothered to take possession of the owner who holds a Special Resident Retirees
property even six (6) months after the supposed date Visa(SRRV) that he shall lose his visa if he disposes
of execution of the Dacion en Pago. Kang was even his property which serves as his investment in order to
able to transfer possession of the condominium unit to qualify for such status. Section 14 of the Implementing
Suzuki, who then made immediate improvements Investment Guidelines under Rule VIII-A of the Rules
thereon. If Orion really purchased the condominium and Regulations Implementing Executive Order No.
unit on February 2, 2003 and claimed to be its true 1037, Creating the Philippine Retirement Park System
owner, why did it not assert its ownership immediately Providing Funds Therefor and For Other Purpose (
after the alleged sale took place? Why did it have to otherwise known as the Philippine Retirement
assert its ownership only after Suzuki demanded the Authority) states:
delivery of the titles? These gaps have remained
unanswered and unfilled. Section 14. Should the retiree-investor withdraw his
investment from the Philippines, or transfer the same
In Suntay v. CA,48 we held that the most prominent to another domestic enterprise, orsell, convey or
index of simulation is the complete absence of transfer his condominium unit or units to another
anattempt on the part of the vendee to assert his rights person, natural or juridical without the prior approval of
of ownership over the property in question. After the the Authority, the Special Resident Retirees Visa
sale, the vendee should have entered the land and issued to him, and/or unmarried minor child or
occupied the premises. The absence of any attempt on children[,] may be cancelled or revoked by the
the part of Orion to assert its right of dominion over the Philippine Government, through the appropriate
property allegedly soldto it is a clear badge of fraud. government department or agency, upon
That notwithstanding the execution of the Dacion en recommendation of the Authority.54
Pago, Kang remained in possession of the disputed
condominium unit from the time of the execution of Moreover, Orion should not be allowed to successfully
the Dacion en Pagountil the propertys subsequent assail the good faith of Suzuki on the basis of the PRA
transfer to Suzuki unmistakably strengthens the restriction. Orion knew of the PRA restriction when it
fictitious nature of the Dacion en Pago. transacted with Kang. Incidentally, Orion admitted
accommodating Kangs request to cancel the mortgage
These circumstances, aside from the glaring annotation despite the lack of payment to circumvent
inconsistencies in the documents and testimony of the PRA restriction. Orion, thus, is estopped from
Orions witness, indubitably prove the spurious nature impugning the validity of the conveyance in favor of
of the Dacion en Pago. Suzuki on the basis of the PRA restriction that Orion
itself ignored and "attempted" to circumvent.
The fact that the Dacion en Pago
is a notarized document does not With the conclusion that Orion failed to prove the
support the conclusion that the authenticity of the Dacion en Pago, we see no reason
sale it embodies is a true for the application of the rules on double sale under
conveyance Article 1544 of the New Civil Code. Suzuki, moreover,
successfully adduced sufficient evidence to establish
Public instruments are evidence of the facts that gave the validity of conveyance in his favor.
rise to their execution and are to be considered as
containing all the terms of the agreement.49 While a WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the
notarized document enjoys this presumption, "the fact petition for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner Orion
that a deed is notarized is not a guarantee of the Savings Bank. SO ORDERED.
validity of its contents."50 The presumption of
regularity of notarized documents is not absolute and
may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to i.) Del Socorro vs Wilselm (Article 14 Case)
the contrary.51
ARTICLE 16 REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY
In the present case, the presumption cannot apply
because the regularity in the execution of the Dacion a.) Orion Savings vs Suzuki (Article 15 Case)
en Pago and the loan documents was challenged in
the proceedings below where their prima facievalidity ARTICLE 19 PRINCIPLE OF ABUSE OF RIGHTS
was overthrown by the highly questionable
circumstances surrounding their execution.52 a.) Far East Bank vs Pacilan Jr.
Effect of the PRA restriction on Before the Court is the petition for review on certiorari
the validity of Suzukis title to the filed by Far East Bank and Trust Company (now Bank
property of the Philippines Islands) seeking the reversal of the
Decision[1] dated August 30, 2002 of the Court of
Orion argues that the PRA restriction in CCT No. Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 36627 which ordered
18186 affects the conveyance to Suzuki. In particular, it, together with its branch accountant, Roger
Orion assails the status of Suzuki as a purchaser in Villadelgado, to pay respondent Themistocles Pacilan,
good faith in view of the express PRA restriction Jr.[2] the total sum of P100,000.00 as moral and
contained in CCT No. 18186.53 exemplary damages. The assailed decision affirmed
with modification that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Branch 54, in Civil
Case No. 4908. Likewise sought to be reversed and his current account allegedly preempted the deposits
set aside is the Resolution dated January 17, 2003 of that he intended to make to fund those checks.
the appellate court, denying petitioner banks motion for Further, the petitioner banks act exposed him to
reconsideration. criminal prosecution for violation of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 22.
The case stemmed from the following undisputed facts:
According to the respondent, the indecent haste that
Respondent Pacilan opened a current account with attended the closure of his account was patently
petitioner banks Bacolod Branch on May 23, 1980. His malicious and intended to embarrass him. He claimed
account was denominated as Current Account No. that he is a Cashier of Prudential Bank and Trust
53208 (0052-00407-4). The respondent had since then Company, whose branch office is located just across
issued several postdated checks to different payees that of petitioner bank, and a prominent and respected
drawn against the said account. Sometime in March leader both in the civic and banking communities. The
1988, the respondent issued Check No. 2434886 in the alleged malicious acts of petitioner bank besmirched
amount of P680.00 and the same was presented for the respondents reputation and caused him social
payment to petitioner bank on April 4, 1988. humiliation, wounded feelings, insurmountable worries
and sleepless nights entitling him to an award of
Upon its presentment on the said date, Check No. damages.
2434886 was dishonored by petitioner bank. The next
day, or on April 5, 1988, the respondent deposited to In their answer, petitioner bank and Villadelgado
his current account the amount of P800.00. The said maintained that the respondents current account was
amount was accepted by petitioner bank; hence, subject to petitioner banks Rules and Regulations
increasing the balance of the respondents deposit to Governing the Establishment and Operation of Regular
P1,051.43. Demand Deposits which provide that the Bank
reserves the right to close an account if the depositor
Subsequently, when the respondent verified with frequently draws checks against insufficient funds
petitioner bank about the dishonor of Check No. and/or uncollected deposits and that the Bank reserves
2434866, he discovered that his current account was the right at any time to return checks of the depositor
closed on the ground that it was improperly handled. which are drawn against insufficient funds or for any
The records of petitioner bank disclosed that between reason.[3]
the period of March 30, 1988 and April 5, 1988, the
respondent issued four checks, to wit: Check No. They showed that the respondent had improperly and
2480416 for P6,000.00; Check No. 2480419 for irregularly handled his current account. For example, in
P50.00; Check No. 2434880 for P680.00 and; Check 1986, the respondents account was overdrawn 156
No. 2434886 for P680.00, or a total amount of times, in 1987, 117 times and in 1988, 26 times. In all
P7,410.00. At the time, however, the respondents these instances, the account was overdrawn due to the
current account with petitioner bank only had a deposit issuance of checks against insufficient funds. The
of P6,981.43. Thus, the total amount of the checks respondent had also signed several checks with a
presented for payment on April 4, 1988 exceeded the different signature from the specimen on file for
balance of the respondents deposit in his account. For dubious reasons.
this reason, petitioner bank, through its branch
accountant, Villadelgado, closed the respondents When the respondent made the deposit on April 5,
current account effective the evening of April 4, 1988 1988, it was obviously to cover for issuances made the
as it then had an overdraft of P428.57. As a previous day against an insufficiently funded account.
consequence of the overdraft, Check No. 2434886 was When his Check No. 2434886 was presented for
dishonored. payment on April 4, 1988, he had already incurred an
overdraft; hence, petitioner bank rightfully dishonored
On April 18, 1988, the respondent wrote to petitioner the same for insufficiency of funds.
bank complaining that the closure of his account was
unjustified. When he did not receive a reply from After due proceedings, the court a quo rendered
petitioner bank, the respondent filed with the RTC of judgment in favor of the respondent as it ordered the
Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Branch 54, a petitioner bank and Villadelgado, jointly and severally,
complaint for damages against petitioner bank and to pay the respondent the amounts of P100,000.00 as
Villadelgado. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. moral damages and P50,000.00 as exemplary
4908. The respondent, as complainant therein, alleged damages and costs of suit. In so ruling, the court a quo
that the closure of his current account by petitioner also cited petitioner banks rules and regulations which
bank was unjustified because on the first banking hour state that a charge of P10.00 shall be levied against
of April 5, 1988, he already deposited an amount the depositor for any check that is taken up as a
sufficient to fund his checks. The respondent pointed returned item due to insufficiency of funds on the date
out that Check No. 2434886, in particular, was of receipt from the clearing office even if said check is
delivered to petitioner bank at the close of banking honored and/or covered by sufficient deposit the
hours on April 4, 1988 and, following normal banking following banking day. The same rules and regulations
procedure, it also provide that a check returned for insufficiency of
(petitioner bank) had until the last clearing hour of the funds for any reason of similar import may be
following day, or on April 5, 1988, to honor the check or subsequently recleared for one more time only, subject
return it, if not funded. In disregard of this banking to the same charges.
procedure and practice, however, petitioner bank
hastily closed the respondents current account and According to the court a quo, following these rules and
dishonored his Check No. 2434886. regulations, the respondent, as depositor, had the right
to put up sufficient funds for a check that was taken as
The respondent further alleged that prior to the closure a returned item for insufficient funds the day following
of his current account, he had issued several other the receipt of said check from the clearing office. In
postdated checks. The petitioner banks act of closing fact, the said check could still be recleared for one
more time. In previous instances, petitioner bank accepted the deposit that the respondent made on
notified the respondent when he incurred an overdraft April 5, 1988, supposedly to cover his checks.
and he would then deposit sufficient funds the following
day to cover the overdraft. Petitioner bank thus acted Echoing the reasoning of the court a quo, the CA
unjustifiably when it immediately closed the declared that even as it may be conceded that
respondents account on April 4, 1988 and deprived petitioner bank had reserved the right to close an
him of the opportunity to reclear his check or deposit account for repeated overdrafts by the respondent, the
sufficient funds therefor the following day. exercise of that right must never be despotic or
arbitrary. That petitioner bank chose to close the
As a result of the closure of his current account, account outright and return the check, even after
several of the respondents checks were subsequently accepting a deposit sufficient to cover the said check,
dishonored and because of this, the respondent was is contrary to its duty to handle the respondents
humiliated, embarrassed and lost his credit standing in account with utmost fidelity. The exercise of the right is
the business community. The court a quo further not absolute and good faith, at least, is required. The
ratiocinated that even granting arguendo that petitioner manner by which petitioner bank closed the account of
bank had the right to close the respondents account, the respondent runs afoul of Article 19 of the Civil
the manner which attended the closure constituted an Code which enjoins every person, in the exercise of his
abuse of the rights, to give every one his due, and observe honesty
said right. Citing Article 19 of the Civil Code of the and good faith.
Philippines which states that [e]very person must, in
the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his The CA concluded that petitioner banks precipitate and
duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and imprudent closure of the respondents account had
observe honesty and good faith and Article 20 thereof caused him, a respected officer of several civic and
which states that [e]very person who, contrary to law, banking associations, serious anxiety and humiliation.
wilfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall It had, likewise, tainted his credit standing.
indemnify the latter for the same, the court a quo Consequently, the award of damages is warranted.
adjudged petitioner bank of acting in bad faith. It held The CA, however, reduced the amount of damages
that, under the foregoing circumstances, the awarded by the court a quo as it found the same to be
respondent is entitled to an award of moral and excessive:
exemplary damages.
We, however, find excessive the amount of damages
The decretal portion of the court a quos decision reads: awarded by the RTC. In our view the reduced amount
of P75,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment exemplary damages are in order. Awards for damages
is hereby rendered: are not meant to enrich the plaintiff-appellee [the
respondent] at the expense of defendants-appellants
1.Ordering the defendants [petitioner bank and [the petitioners], but to obviate the moral suffering he
Villadelgado], jointly and severally, to pay plaintiff [the has undergone. The award is aimed at the restoration,
respondent] the sum of P100,000.00 as moral within limits possible, of the status quo ante, and
damages; should be proportionate to the suffering inflicted.[5]

2. Ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay The dispositive portion of the assailed CA decision
plaintiff the sum of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages reads:
plus costs and expenses of the suit; and
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby
3. Dismissing [the] defendants counterclaim for lack of AFFIRMED, subject to the MODIFICATION that the
merit. award of moral damages is reduced to P75,000.00 and
the award of exemplary damages reduced to
SO ORDERED.[4] P25,000.00.

SO ORDERED.[6]
On appeal, the CA rendered the Decision dated August
30, 2002, affirming with modification the decision of the Petitioner bank sought the reconsideration of the said
court a quo. decision but in the assailed Resolution dated January
17, 2003, the appellate court denied its motion. Hence,
The appellate court substantially affirmed the factual the recourse to this Court.
findings of the court a quo as it held that petitioner
bank unjustifiably closed the respondents account Petitioner bank maintains that, in closing the account of
notwithstanding that its own rules and regulations the respondent in the evening of April 4, 1988, it acted
in good faith and in accordance with the rules and
allow that a check returned for insufficiency of funds or regulations governing the operation of a
any reason of similar import, may be subsequently
recleared for one more time, subject to standard regular demand deposit which reserves to the bank the
charges. Like the court a quo, the appellate court right to close an account if the depositor frequently
observed that in several instances in previous years, draws checks against insufficient funds and/or
petitioner bank would inform the respondent when he uncollected deposits. The same rules and regulations
incurred an overdraft and allowed him to make a timely also provide that the depositor is not entitled, as a
deposit to fund the checks that were initially matter of right, to overdraw on this deposit and the
dishonored for insufficiency of funds. However, on April bank reserves the right at any time to return checks of
4, 1988, petitioner bank immediately closed the the depositor which are drawn against insufficient
respondents account without even notifying him that he funds or for any reason.
had incurred an overdraft. Even when they had already
closed his account on April 4, 1988, petitioner bank still
It cites the numerous instances that the respondent this right, petitioner bank committed an abuse thereof.
had overdrawn his account and those instances where Specifically, the second and third elements for abuse
he deliberately signed checks using a signature of rights are not attendant in the present case. The
different from the specimen on file. Based on these evidence presented by petitioner bank negates the
facts, petitioner bank was constrained to close the existence of bad faith or malice on its part in closing
respondents account for improper and irregular the respondents account on April 4, 1988 because on
handling and returned his Check No. 2434886 which the said date the same was already overdrawn. The
was presented to the bank for payment on April 4, respondent issued four checks, all due on April 4,
1988. 1988, amounting to P7,410.00 when the balance of his
current account deposit was only P6,981.43. Thus, he
Petitioner bank further posits that there is no law or incurred an overdraft of P428.57 which resulted in the
rule which gives the respondent a legal right to make dishonor of his Check No. 2434886. Further, petitioner
good his check or to deposit the corresponding amount bank showed that in 1986, the current account of the
to cover said check within 24 hours after the same is respondent was overdrawn 156 times due to his
dishonored or returned by the bank for having been issuance of checks against insufficient funds.[13] In
drawn against insufficient funds. It vigorously denies 1987, the said account was overdrawn 117 times for
having violated Article 19 of the Civil Code as it insists the same
that it acted in good faith and in accordance with the reason.[14] Again, in 1988, 26 times.[15] There were
pertinent banking rules and regulations. also several instances when the respondent issued
checks deliberately using a signature different from his
The petition is impressed with merit. specimen signature on file with petitioner bank.[16] All
these circumstances taken together justified the
A perusal of the respective decisions of the court a quo petitioner banks closure of the respondents account on
and the appellate court show that the award of April 4, 1988 for improper handling.
damages in the respondents favor was anchored
mainly on Article 19 of the Civil Code which, quoted It is observed that nowhere under its rules and
anew below, reads: regulations is petitioner bank required to notify the
Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights respondent, or any depositor for that matter, of the
and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, closure of the account for frequently drawing checks
give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good against insufficient funds. No malice or bad faith could
faith. be imputed on petitioner bank for so acting since the
records bear out that the respondent had indeed been
The elements of abuse of rights are the following: (a) improperly and irregularly handling his account not just
the existence of a legal right or duty; (b) which is a few times but hundreds of times. Under the
exercised in bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of circumstances, petitioner bank could not be faulted for
prejudicing or injuring another.[7] Malice or bad faith is exercising its right in accordance with the express rules
at the core of the said provision.[8] The law always and regulations governing the current accounts of its
presumes good faith and any person who seeks to be depositors. Upon the opening of his account, the
awarded damages due to acts of another has the respondent had agreed to be bound by these terms
burden of proving that the latter acted in bad faith or and conditions.
with ill-motive.[9] Good faith refers to the state of the
mind which is manifested by the acts of the individual Neither the fact that petitioner bank accepted the
concerned. It consists of the intention to abstain from deposit made by the respondent the day following the
taking an unconscionable and unscrupulous advantage closure of his account constitutes bad faith or malice
of another.[10] Bad faith does not simply connote bad on the part of petitioner bank. The same could be
judgment or simple negligence, dishonest purpose or characterized as simple negligence by its personnel.
some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong, Said act, by itself, is not constitutive of bad faith.
a breach of known duty due to some motives or The respondent had thus failed to discharge his burden
interest or ill-will that partakes of the nature of of proving bad faith on the part of petitioner bank or
fraud.[11] Malice connotes ill-will or spite and speaks that it was motivated by ill-will or spite in closing his
not in response to duty. It implies an intention to do account on April 4, 1988 and in inadvertently accepting
ulterior and unjustifiable harm. Malice is bad faith or his deposit on April 5, 1988.
bad motive.[12]
Further, it has not been shown that these acts were
Undoubtedly, petitioner bank has the right to close the done by petitioner bank with the sole intention of
account of the respondent based on the following prejudicing and injuring the respondent. It is conceded
provisions of its Rules and Regulations Governing the that the respondent may have suffered damages as a
Establishment and Operation of Regular Demand result of the closure of his current account. However,
Deposits: there is a material distinction between damages and
injury. The Court had the occasion to explain the
10) The Bank reserves the right to close an account if distinction between damages and injury in this wise:
the depositor frequently draws checks against
insufficient funds and/or uncollected deposits. Injury is the illegal invasion of a legal right; damage is
the loss, hurt or harm which results from the injury; and
damages are the recompense or compensation
12) However, it is clearly understood that the depositor awarded for the damage suffered. Thus, there can be
is not entitled, as a matter of right, to overdraw on this damage without injury in those instances in which the
deposit and the bank reserves the right at any time to loss or harm was not the result of a violation of a legal
return checks of the depositor which are drawn against duty. In such cases, the consequences must be borne
insufficient funds or for any other reason. by the injured person alone, the law affords no remedy
for damages resulting from an act which does not
The facts, as found by the court a quo and the amount to a legal injury or wrong. These situations are
appellate court, do not establish that, in the exercise of often called damnum absque injuria.
Avesco-AVNE Enterprises to recover the motorcycle.
In other words, in order that a plaintiff may maintain an The leader of the police team, P/Lt. Arturo Vendiola,
action for the injuries of which he complains, he must talked to the clerk in charge and asked for respondent.
establish that such injuries resulted from a breach of While P/Lt. Vendiola and the clerk were talking,
duty which the defendant owed to the plaintiff a petitioner Uypitching paced back and forth inside the
concurrence of injury to the plaintiff and legal establishment uttering "Quiamco is a thief of a
responsibility by the person causing it. The underlying motorcycle."
basis for the award of tort damages is the premise that
the individual was injured in contemplation of law. On learning that respondent was not in Avesco-AVNE
Thus, there must first be a breach of some duty and Enterprises, the policemen left to look for respondent in
the imposition of liability for that breach before his residence while petitioner Uypitching stayed in the
damages may be awarded; and the breach of such establishment to take photographs of the motorcycle.
duty should be the proximate cause of the injury.[17] Unable to find respondent, the policemen went back to
Avesco-AVNE Enterprises and, on petitioner
Whatever damages the respondent may have suffered Uypitchings instruction and over the clerks objection,
as a consequence, e.g., dishonor of his other took the motorcycle.
insufficiently funded checks, would have to be borne by
him alone. It was the respondents repeated improper On February 18, 1991, petitioner Uypitching filed a
criminal complaint for qualified theft and/or violation of
and irregular handling of his account which constrained the Anti-Fencing Law6 against respondent in the Office
petitioner bank to close the same in accordance with of the City Prosecutor of Dumaguete City.7
the rules and regulations governing its depositors Respondent moved for dismissal because the
current accounts. The respondents case is clearly one complaint did not charge an offense as he had neither
of damnum absque injuria. stolen nor bought the motorcycle. The Office of the City
Prosecutor dismissed the complaint8 and denied
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The petitioner Uypitchings subsequent motion for
Decision dated August 30, 2002 and Resolution dated reconsideration.
January 17, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 36627 are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. SO Respondent filed an action for damages against
ORDERED. petitioners in the RTC of Dumaguete City, Negros
Oriental, Branch 37.9 He sought to hold the petitioners
liable for the following: (1) unlawful taking of the
b.) Uypitching vs Quiamco motorcycle; (2) utterance of a defamatory remark (that
respondent was a thief) and (3) precipitate filing of a
Honeste vivere, non alterum laedere et jus suum baseless and malicious complaint. These acts
cuique tribuere. To live virtuously, not to injure others humiliated and embarrassed the respondent and
and to give everyone his due. These supreme norms of injured his reputation and integrity.
justice are the underlying principles of law and order in
society. We reaffirm them in this petition for review on On July 30, 1994, the trial court rendered a decision10
certiorari assailing the July 26, 2000 decision1 and finding that petitioner Uypitching was motivated with
October 18, 2000 resolution of the Court of Appeals malice and ill will when he called respondent a thief,
(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 47571. took the motorcycle in an abusive manner and filed a
baseless complaint for qualified theft and/or violation of
In 1982, respondent Ernesto C. Quiamco was the Anti-Fencing Law. Petitioners acts were found to
approached by Juan Davalan,2 Josefino Gabutero and be contrary to Articles 1911 and 2012 of the Civil
Raul Generoso to amicably settle the civil aspect of a Code. Hence, the trial court held petitioners liable to
criminal case for robbery3 filed by Quiamco against respondent for P500,000 moral damages, P200,000
them. They surrendered to him a red Honda XL-100 exemplary damages and P50,000 attorneys fees plus
motorcycle and a photocopy of its certificate of costs.
registration. Respondent asked for the original
certificate of registration but the three accused never Petitioners appealed the RTC decision but the CA
came to see him again. Meanwhile, the motorcycle affirmed the trial courts decision with modification,
was parked in an open space inside respondents reducing the award of moral and exemplary damages
business establishment, Avesco-AVNE Enterprises, to P300,000 and P100,000, respectively.13 Petitioners
where it was visible and accessible to the public. sought reconsideration but it was denied. Thus, this
petition.
It turned out that, in October 1981, the motorcycle had
been sold on installment basis to Gabutero by In their petition and memorandum, petitioners submit
petitioner Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc., a family- that the sole (allegedly) issue to be resolved here is
owned corporation managed by petitioner Atty. Ernesto whether the filing of a complaint for qualified theft
Ramas Uypitching. To secure its payment, the and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law in the Office of
motorcycle was mortgaged to petitioner corporation.4 the City Prosecutor warranted the award of moral
damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees and
When Gabutero could no longer pay the installments, costs in favor of respondent.
Davalan assumed the obligation and continued the
payments. In September 1982, however, Davalan Petitioners suggestion is misleading. They were held
stopped paying the remaining installments and told liable for damages not only for instituting a groundless
petitioner corporations collector, Wilfredo Verao, that complaint against respondent but also for making a
the motorcycle had allegedly been "taken by slanderous remark and for taking the motorcycle from
respondents men." respondents establishment in an abusive manner.

Nine years later, on January 26, 1991, petitioner Correctness of the Findings of the RTC and CA
Uypitching, accompanied by policemen,5 went to
As they never questioned the findings of the RTC and foreclosure right thereon. There is, however, a well-
CA that malice and ill will attended not only the public defined procedure for the recovery of possession of
imputation of a crime to respondent14 but also the mortgaged property: if a mortgagee is unable to obtain
taking of the motorcycle, petitioners were deemed to possession of a mortgaged property for its sale on
have accepted the correctness of such findings. This foreclosure, he must bring a civil action either to
alone was sufficient to hold petitioners liable for recover such possession as a preliminary step to the
damages to respondent. sale, or to obtain judicial foreclosure.18

Nevertheless, to address petitioners concern, we also Petitioner corporation failed to bring the proper civil
find that the trial and appellate courts correctly ruled action necessary to acquire legal possession of the
that the filing of the complaint was tainted with malice motorcycle. Instead, petitioner Uypitching descended
and bad faith. Petitioners themselves in fact described on respondents establishment with his policemen and
their action as a "precipitate act."15 Petitioners were ordered the seizure of the motorcycle without a search
bent on portraying respondent as a thief. In this warrant or court order. Worse, in the course of the
connection, we quote with approval the following illegal seizure of the motorcycle, petitioner Uypitching
findings of the RTC, as adopted by the CA: even mouthed a slanderous statement.

x x x There was malice or ill-will [in filing the complaint No doubt, petitioner corporation, acting through its co-
before the City Prosecutors Office] because Atty. petitioner Uypitching, blatantly disregarded the lawful
Ernesto Ramas Uypitching knew or ought to have procedure for the enforcement of its right, to the
known as he is a lawyer, that there was no probable prejudice of respondent. Petitioners acts violated the
cause at all for filing a criminal complaint for qualified law as well as public morals, and transgressed the
theft and fencing activity against [respondent]. Atty. proper norms of human relations.
Uypitching had no personal knowledge that
[respondent] stole the motorcycle in question. He was The basic principle of human relations, embodied in
merely told by his bill collector ([i.e.] the bill collector of Article 19 of the Civil Code, provides:
Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc.)[,] Wilfredo Verao[,] that
Juan Dabalan will [no longer] pay the remaining Art. 19. Every person must in the exercise of his rights
installment(s) for the motorcycle because the and in the performance of his duties, act with justice,
motorcycle was taken by the men of [respondent]. It give every one his due, and observe honesty and good
must be noted that the term used by Wilfredo Verao faith.
in informing Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching of the
refusal of Juan Dabalan to pay for the remaining Article 19, also known as the "principle of abuse of
installment was []taken[], not []unlawfully taken[] or right," prescribes that a person should not use his right
stolen. Yet, despite the double hearsay, Atty. Ernesto unjustly or contrary to honesty and good faith,
Ramas Uypitching not only executed the [complaint- otherwise he opens himself to liability.19 It seeks to
affidavit] wherein he named [respondent] as the preclude the use of, or the tendency to use, a legal
suspect of the stolen motorcycle but also charged right (or duty) as a means to unjust ends.
[respondent] of qualified theft and fencing activity
before the City [Prosecutors] Office of Dumaguete. There is an abuse of right when it is exercised solely to
The absence of probable cause necessarily signifies prejudice or injure another.20 The exercise of a right
the presence of malice. What is deplorable in all these must be in accordance with the purpose for which it
is that Juan Dabalan, the owner of the motorcycle, did was established and must not be excessive or unduly
not accuse [respondent] or the latters men of stealing harsh; there must be no intention to harm another.21
the motorcycle[,] much less bother[ed] to file a case for Otherwise, liability for damages to the injured party will
qualified theft before the authorities. That Atty. attach.
Uypitchings act in charging [respondent] with qualified
theft and fencing activity is tainted with malice is also In this case, the manner by which the motorcycle was
shown by his answer to the question of Cupid taken at petitioners instance was not only attended by
Gonzaga16 [during one of their conversations] - "why bad faith but also contrary to the procedure laid down
should you still file a complaint? You have already by law. Considered in conjunction with the defamatory
recovered the motorcycle"[:] "Aron motagam ang statement, petitioners exercise of the right to recover
kawatan ug motor." ("To teach a lesson to the thief of the mortgaged vehicle was utterly prejudicial and
motorcycle.")17 injurious to respondent. On the other hand, the
precipitate act of filing an unfounded complaint could
Moreover, the existence of malice, ill will or bad faith is not in any way be considered to be in accordance with
a factual matter. As a rule, findings of fact of the trial the purpose for which the right to prosecute a crime
court, when affirmed by the appellate court, are was established. Thus, the totality of petitioners
conclusive on this Court. We see no compelling reason actions showed a calculated design to embarrass,
to reverse the findings of the RTC and the CA. humiliate and publicly ridicule respondent. Petitioners
acted in an excessively harsh fashion to the prejudice
Petitioners Abused Their Right of Recovery as of respondent. Contrary to law, petitioners willfully
Mortgagee(s) caused damage to respondent. Hence, they should
indemnify him.22
Petitioners claim that they should not be held liable for
petitioner corporations exercise of its right as seller- WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The
mortgagee to recover the mortgaged vehicle July 26, 2000 decision and October 18, 2000 resolution
preliminary to the enforcement of its right to foreclose of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 47571 are
on the mortgage in case of default. They are clearly AFFIRMED.
mistaken.
Triple costs against petitioners, considering that
True, a mortgagee may take steps to recover the petitioner Ernesto Ramas Uypitching is a lawyer and
mortgaged property to enable it to enforce or protect its
an officer of the court, for his improper behavior. SO 1. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and severally,
ORDERED. plaintiff the amount of P2,340,000.00 as actual or
compensatory damages.

c.) Cebu Country Club vs Elizagaque 2. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and severally,
plaintiff the amount of P5,000,000.00 as moral
For our resolution is the instant Petition for Review on damages.
Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, as amended, assailing the Decision[1] 3. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and severally,
dated January 31, 2003 and Resolution dated October plaintiff the amount of P1,000,000.00 as exemplary
2, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. damages.
71506.
4. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and severally,
The facts are: plaintiff the amount of P1,000,000.00 as and by way of
attorneys fees and P80,000.00 as litigation expenses.
Cebu Country Club, Inc. (CCCI), petitioner, is a
domestic corporation operating as a non-profit and 5. Costs of suit.
non-stock private membership club, having its principal
place of business in Banilad, Cebu City. Petitioners Counterclaims are hereby DISMISSED for lack of
herein are members of its Board of Directors. merit.

Sometime in 1987, San Miguel Corporation, a special SO ORDERED.[2]


company proprietary member of CCCI, designated
respondent Ricardo F. Elizagaque, its Senior Vice On appeal by petitioners, the Court of Appeals, in its
President and Operations Manager for the Visayas and Decision dated January 31, 2003, affirmed the trial
Mindanao, as a special non-proprietary member. The courts Decision with modification, thus:
designation was thereafter approved by the CCCIs
Board of Directors. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed
Decision dated February 14, 2001 of the Regional Trial
In 1996, respondent filed with CCCI an application for Court, Branch 71, Pasig City in Civil Case No. 67190 is
proprietary membership. The application was indorsed hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as follows:
by CCCIs two (2) proprietary members, namely:
Edmundo T. Misa and Silvano Ludo. 1. Ordering defendants-appellants to pay, jointly and
severally, plaintiff-appellee the amount of
As the price of a proprietary share was around the P5 P2,000,000.00 as moral damages;
million range, Benito Unchuan, then president of CCCI,
offered to sell respondent a share for only P3.5 million. 2. Ordering defendants-appellants to pay, jointly and
Respondent, however, purchased the share of a severally, plaintiff-appellee the amount of
certain Dr. Butalid for only P3 million. Consequently, on P1,000,000.00 as exemplary damages;
September 6, 1996, CCCI issued Proprietary
Ownership Certificate No. 1446 to respondent. 3. Ordering defendants-appellants to pay, jointly and
severally, plaintiff-appellee the mount of P500,000.00
During the meetings dated April 4, 1997 and May 30, as attorneys fees and P50,000.00 as litigation
1997 of the CCCI Board of Directors, action on expenses; and
respondents application for proprietary membership
was deferred. In another Board meeting held on July 4. Costs of the suit.
30, 1997, respondents application was voted upon.
Subsequently, or on August 1, 1997, respondent The counterclaims are DISMISSED for lack of merit.
received a letter from Julius Z. Neri, CCCIs corporate
secretary, informing him that the Board disapproved SO ORDERED.[3]
his application for proprietary membership.
On March 3, 2003, petitioners filed a motion for
On August 6, 1997, Edmundo T. Misa, on behalf of reconsideration and motion for leave to set the motion
respondent, wrote CCCI a letter of reconsideration. As for oral arguments. In its Resolution[4] dated October
CCCI did not answer, respondent, on October 7, 1997, 2, 2003, the appellate court denied the motions for lack
wrote another letter of reconsideration. Still, CCCI kept of merit.
silent. On November 5, 1997, respondent again sent
CCCI a letter inquiring whether any member of the Hence, the present petition.
Board objected to his application. Again, CCCI did not
reply. The issue for our resolution is whether in disapproving
respondents application for proprietary membership
Consequently, on December 23, 1998, respondent with CCCI, petitioners are liable to respondent for
filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 71, damages, and if so, whether their liability is joint and
Pasig City a complaint for damages against petitioners, several.
docketed as Civil Case No. 67190.
Petitioners contend, inter alia, that the Court of
After trial, the RTC rendered its Decision dated Appeals erred in awarding exorbitant damages to
February 14, 2001 in favor of respondent, thus: respondent despite the lack of evidence that they acted
in bad faith in disapproving the latters application; and
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of in disregarding their defense of damnum absque
plaintiff: injuria.
For his part, respondent maintains that the petition Article 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his
lacks merit, hence, should be denied. rights and in the performance of his duties, act with
justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty
CCCIs Articles of Incorporation provide in part: and good faith.

SEVENTH: That this is a non-stock corporation and Article 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or
membership therein as well as the right of participation injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals,
in its assets shall be limited to qualified persons who good customs or public policy shall compensate the
are duly accredited owners of Proprietary Ownership latter for the damage.
Certificates issued by the corporation in accordance
with its By-Laws.
In GF Equity, Inc. v. Valenzona,[5] we expounded
Corollary, Section 3, Article 1 of CCCIs Amended By- Article 19 and correlated it with Article 21, thus:
Laws provides:
This article, known to contain what is commonly
SECTION 3. HOW MEMBERS ARE ELECTED The referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, sets
procedure for the admission of new members of the certain standards which must be observed not only in
Club shall be as follows: the exercise of one's rights but also in the performance
of one's duties. These standards are the following: to
(a) Any proprietary member, seconded by another act with justice; to give everyone his due; and to
voting proprietary member, shall submit to the observe honesty and good faith. The law, therefore,
Secretary a written proposal for the admission of a recognizes a primordial limitation on all rights; that in
candidate to the Eligible-for-Membership List; their exercise, the norms of human conduct set forth in
Article 19 must be observed. A right, though by itself
(b) Such proposal shall be posted by the Secretary for legal because recognized or granted by law as such,
a period of thirty (30) days on the Club bulletin board may nevertheless become the source of some
during which time any member may interpose illegality. When a right is exercised in a manner which
objections to the admission of the applicant by does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article
communicating the same to the Board of Directors; 19 and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is
thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be
(c) After the expiration of the aforesaid thirty (30) days, held responsible. But while Article 19 lays down a rule
if no objections have been filed or if there are, the of conduct for the government of human relations and
Board considers the objections unmeritorious, the for the maintenance of social order, it does not provide
candidate shall be qualified for inclusion in the Eligible- a remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for
for-Membership List; damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 would be
proper. (Emphasis in the original)
(d) Once included in the Eligible-for-Membership List
and after the candidate shall have acquired in his In rejecting respondents application for proprietary
name a valid POC duly recorded in the books of the membership, we find that petitioners violated the rules
corporation as his own, he shall become a Proprietary governing human relations, the basic principles to be
Member, upon a non-refundable admission fee of observed for the rightful relationship between human
P1,000.00, provided that admission fees will only be beings and for the stability of social order. The trial
collected once from any person. court and the Court of Appeals aptly held that
petitioners committed fraud and evident bad faith in
On March 1, 1978, Section 3(c) was amended to read disapproving respondents applications. This is contrary
as follows: to morals, good custom or public policy. Hence,
petitioners are liable for damages pursuant to Article
(c) After the expiration of the aforesaid thirty (30) days, 19 in relation to Article 21 of the same Code.
the Board may, by unanimous vote of all directors
present at a regular or special meeting, approve the It bears stressing that the amendment to Section 3(c)
inclusion of the candidate in the Eligible-for- of CCCIs Amended By-Laws requiring the unanimous
Membership List. vote of the directors present at a special or regular
meeting was not printed on the application form
As shown by the records, the Board adopted a secret respondent filled and submitted to CCCI. What was
balloting known as the black ball system of voting printed thereon was the original provision of Section
wherein each member will drop a ball in the ballot box. 3(c) which was silent on the required number of votes
A white ball represents conformity to the admission of needed for admission of an applicant as a proprietary
an applicant, while a black ball means disapproval. member.
Pursuant to Section 3(c), as amended, cited above, a
unanimous vote of the directors is required. When Petitioners explained that the amendment was not
respondents application for proprietary membership printed on the application form due to economic
was voted upon during the Board meeting on July 30, reasons. We find this excuse flimsy and unconvincing.
1997, the ballot box contained one (1) black ball. Thus, Such amendment, aside from being extremely
for lack of unanimity, his application was disapproved. significant, was introduced way back in 1978 or almost
twenty (20) years before respondent filed his
Obviously, the CCCI Board of Directors, under its application. We cannot fathom why such a prestigious
Articles of Incorporation, has the right to approve or and exclusive golf country club, like the CCCI, whose
disapprove an application for proprietary membership. members are all affluent, did not have enough money
But such right should not be exercised arbitrarily. to cause the printing of an updated application form.
Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code on the Chapter on
Human Relations provide restrictions, thus: It is thus clear that respondent was left groping in the
dark wondering why his application was disapproved.
He was not even informed that a unanimous vote of
the Board members was required. When he sent a
letter for reconsideration and an inquiry whether there Section 31 of the Corporation Code provides:
was an objection to his application, petitioners
apparently ignored him. Certainly, respondent did not SEC. 31. Liability of directors, trustees or officers.
deserve this kind of treatment. Having been designated Directors or trustees who willfully and knowingly vote
by San Miguel Corporation as a special non-proprietary for or assent to patently unlawful acts of the
member of CCCI, he should have been treated by corporation or who are guilty of gross negligence or
petitioners with courtesy and civility. At the very least, bad faith in directing the affairs of the corporation or
they should have informed him why his application was acquire any personal or pecuniary interest in conflict
disapproved. with their duty as such directors, or trustees shall be
liable jointly and severally for all damages resulting
The exercise of a right, though legal by itself, must therefrom suffered by the corporation, its stockholders
nonetheless be in accordance with the proper norm. or members and other persons. (Emphasis ours)
When the right is exercised arbitrarily, unjustly or
excessively and results in damage to another, a legal
wrong is committed for which the wrongdoer must be
held responsible.[6] It bears reiterating that the trial WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The challenged
court and the Court of Appeals held that petitioners Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
disapproval of respondents application is characterized G.R. CV No. 71506 are AFFIRMED with modification in
by bad faith. the sense that (a) the award of moral damages is
reduced from P2,000,000.00 to P50,000.00; (b) the
As to petitioners reliance on the principle of damnum award of exemplary damages is reduced from
absque injuria or damage without injury, suffice it to P1,000,000.00 to P25,000.00; and (c) the award of
state that the same is misplaced. In Amonoy v. attorneys fees and litigation expenses is reduced from
Gutierrez,[7] we held that this principle does not apply P500,000.00 and P50,000.00 to P50,000.00 and
when there is an abuse of a persons right, as in this P25,000.00, respectively. Costs against petitioners. SO
case. ORDERED.

As to the appellate courts award to respondent of


moral damages, we find the same in order. Under d.) Calatagan Golf Club vs Clemente, Jr.
Article 2219 of the New Civil Code, moral damages
may be recovered, among others, in acts and actions Seeking the reversal of the Decision[1] dated 1 June
referred to in Article 21. We believe respondents 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 62331
testimony that he suffered mental anguish, social and the reinstatement of the Decision dated 15
humiliation and wounded feelings as a result of the November 2000 of the Securities and Exchange
arbitrary denial of his application. However, the amount Commission (SEC) in SEC Case No. 04-98-5954,
of P2,000,000.00 is excessive. While there is no hard- petitioner Calatagan Golf Club, Inc. (Calatagan) filed
and-fast rule in determining what would be a fair and this Rule 45 petition against respondent Sixto
reasonable amount of moral damages, the same Clemente, Jr. (Clemente).
should not be palpably and scandalously excessive.
Moral damages are not intended to impose a penalty to The key facts are undisputed.
the wrongdoer, neither to enrich the claimant at the
expense of the defendant.[8] Taking into consideration Clemente applied to purchase one share of stock of
the attending circumstances here, we hold that an Calatagan, indicating in his application for membership
award to respondent of P50,000.00, instead of his mailing address at Phimco Industries, Inc. P.O. Box
P2,000,000.00, as moral damages is reasonable. 240, MCC, complete residential address, office and
residence telephone numbers, as well as the company
Anent the award of exemplary damages, Article 2229 (Phimco) with which he was connected, Calatagan
allows it by way of example or correction for the public issued to him Certificate of Stock No. A-01295 on 2
good. Nonetheless, since exemplary damages are May 1990 after paying P120,000.00 for the share.[2]
imposed not to enrich one party or impoverish another
but to serve as a deterrent against or as a negative Calatagan charges monthly dues on its members to
incentive to curb socially deleterious actions,[9] we meet expenses for general operations, as well as costs
reduce the amount from P1,000,000.00 to P25,000.00 for upkeep and improvement of the grounds and
only. facilities. The provision on monthly dues is
incorporated in Calatagans Articles of Incorporation
On the matter of attorneys fees and litigation and By-Laws. It is also reproduced at the back of each
expenses, Article 2208 of the same Code provides, certificate of stock.[3] As reproduced in the dorsal side
among others, that attorneys fees and expenses of of Certificate of Stock No. A-01295, the provision
litigation may be recovered in cases when exemplary reads:
damages are awarded and where the court deems it
just and equitable that attorneys fees and expenses of 5. The owners of shares of stock shall be subject to the
litigation should be recovered, as in this case. In any payment of monthly dues in an amount as may be
event, however, such award must be reasonable, just prescribed in the by-laws or by the Board of Directors
and equitable. Thus, we reduce the amount of which shall in no case be less that [sic] P50.00 to meet
attorneys fees (P500,000.00) and litigation expenses the expenses for the general operations of the club,
(P50,000.00) to P50,000.00 and P25,000.00, and the maintenance and improvement of its premises
respectively. and facilities, in addition to such fees as may be
charged for the actual use of the facilities x x x
Lastly, petitioners argument that they could not be held
jointly and severally liable for damages because only When Clemente became a member the monthly
one (1) voted for the disapproval of respondents charge stood at P400.00. He paid P3,000.00 for his
application lacks merit. monthly dues on 21 March 1991 and another
P5,400.00 on 9 December 1991. Then he ceased
paying the dues. At that point, his balance amounted to In rejecting the SECs finding that the action had
P400.00.[4] prescribed, the Court of Appeals cited the SECs own
ruling in SEC Case No. 4160, Caram v. Valley Golf
Ten (10) months later, Calatagan made the initial step Country Club, Inc., that Section 69 of the Corporation
to collect Clementes back accounts by sending a Code specifically refers to unpaid subscriptions to
demand letter dated 21 September 1992. It was capital stock, and not to any other debt of stockholders.
followed by a second letter dated 22 October 1992. With the insinuation that Section 69 does not apply to
Both letters were sent to Clementes mailing address as unpaid membership dues in non-stock corporations,
indicated in his membership application but were sent the appellate court employed Article 1140 of the Civil
back to sender with the postal note that the address Code as the proper rule of prescription. The provision
had been closed.[5] sets the prescription period of actions to recover
movables at eight (8) years.
Calatagan declared Clemente delinquent for having
failed to pay his monthly dues for more than sixty (60) The Court of Appeals also pointed out that since that
days, specifically P5,600.00 as of 31 October 1992. Calatagans first two demand letters had been returned
Calatagan also included Clementes name in the list of to it as sender with the notation about the closure of
delinquent members posted on the clubs bulletin the mailing address, it very well knew that its third and
board. On 1 December 1992, Calatagans board of final demand letter also sent to the same mailing
directors adopted a resolution authorizing the address would not be received by Clemente. It noted
foreclosure of shares of delinquent members, including the by-law requirement that within ten (10) days after
Clementes; and the public auction of these shares. the Board has ordered the sale at auction of a
members share of stock for indebtedness, the
On 7 December 1992, Calatagan sent a third and final Corporate Secretary shall notify the owner thereof and
letter to Clemente, this time signed by its Corporate advise the Membership Committee of such fact.
Secretary, Atty. Benjamin Tanedo, Jr. The letter Finally, the Court of Appeals ratiocinated that a person
contains a warning that unless Clemente settles his who is in danger of the imminent loss of his property
outstanding dues, his share would be included among has the right to be notified and be given the chance to
the delinquent shares to be sold at public auction on 15 prevent the loss.[12]
January 1993. Again, this letter was sent to Clementes
mailing address that had already been closed.[6] Hence, the present appeal.

On 5 January 1993, a notice of auction sale was Calatagan maintains that the action of Clemente had
posted on the Clubs bulletin board, as well as on the prescribed pursuant to Section 69 of the Corporation
clubs premises. The auction sale took place as Code, and that the requisite notices under both the law
scheduled on 15 January 1993, and Clementes share and the by-laws had been rendered to Clemente.
sold for P64,000.[7] According to the Certificate of Sale
issued by Calatagan after the sale, Clementes share Section 69 of the Code provides that an action to
was purchased by a Nestor A. Virata.[8] At the time of recover delinquent stock sold must be commenced by
the sale, Clementes accrued monthly dues amounted the filing of a complaint within six (6) months from the
to P5,200.00.[9] A notice of foreclosure of Clementes date of sale. As correctly pointed out by the Court of
share was published in the 26 May 1993 issue of the Appeals, Section 69 is part of Title VIII of the Code
Business World.[10] entitled Stocks and Stockholders and refers specifically
to unpaid subscriptions to capital stock, the sale of
Clemente learned of the sale of his share only in which is governed by the immediately preceding
November of 1997.[11] He filed a claim with the Section 68.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking
the restoration of his shareholding in Calatagan with The Court of Appeals debunked both Calatagans and
damages. the SECs reliance on Section 69 by citing another SEC
ruling in the case of Caram v. Valley Golf. In
On 15 November 2000, the SEC rendered a decision connection with Section 69, Calatagan raises a
dismissing Clementes complaint. Citing Section 69 of peripheral point made in the SECs Caram ruling. In
the Corporation Code which provides that the sale of Caram, the SEC, using as take-off Section 6 of the
shares at an auction sale can only be questioned Corporation Code which refers to such rights,
within six (6) months from the date of sale, the SEC privileges or restrictions as may be stated in the
concluded that Clementes claim, filed four (4) years articles of incorporation, pointed out that the Articles of
after the sale, had already prescribed. The SEC further Incorporation of Valley Golf does not impose any lien,
held that Calatagan had complied with all the liability or restriction on the Golf Share [of Caram], but
requirements for a valid sale of the subject share, only its (Valley Golfs) By-Laws does. Here, Calatagan
Clemente having failed to inform Calatagan that the stresses that its own Articles of Incorporation does
address he had earlier supplied was no longer his provide that the monthly dues assessed on owners of
address. Clemente, the SEC ruled, had acted in bad shares of the corporation, along with all other
faith in assuming as he claimed that his non-payment obligations of the shareholders to the club, shall
of monthly dues would merely render his share constitute a first lien on the shares and in the event of
inactive. delinquency such shares may be ordered sold by the
Board of Directors in the manner provided in the By-
Clemente filed a petition for review with the Court of Laws to satisfy said dues or other obligations of the
Appeals. On 1 June 2004, the Court of Appeals shareholders.[13] With its illative but incomprehensible
promulgated a decision reversing the SEC. The logic, Calatagan concludes that the prescriptive period
appellate court restored Clementes one share with a under Section 69 should also apply to the sale of
directive to Calatagan to issue in his a new share, and Clementes share as the lien that Calatagan perceives
awarded to Clemente a total of P400,000.00 in to be a restriction is stated in the articles of
damages, less the unpaid monthly dues of P5,200.00. incorporation and not only in the by-laws.
the shares of the juridical entities they represent shall
We remain unconvinced. thereafter be ordered sold by the Board at auction to
satisfy the claims of the Club as provided for in Section
There are fundamental differences that defy 32 hereon. A member may pay his overdue account at
equivalence or even analogy between the sale of any time before the auction sale.
delinquent stock under Section 68 and the sale that
occurred in this case. At the root of the sale of Sec. 32. Lien on Shares; Sale of Share at Auction- The
delinquent stock is the non-payment of the subscription club shall have a first lien on every share of stock to
price for the share of stock itself. The stockholder or secure debts of the members to the Club. This lien
subscriber has yet to fully pay for the value of the shall be annotated on the certificates of stock and may
share or shares subscribed. In this case, Clemente had be enforced by the Club in the following manner:
already fully paid for the share in Calatagan and no
longer had any outstanding obligation to deprive him of (a) Within ten (10) days after the Board has ordered
full title to his share. Perhaps the analogy could have the sale at auction of a members share of stock for
been made if Clemente had not yet fully paid for his indebtedness under Section 31(b) hereof, the
share and the non-stock corporation, pursuant to an Secretary shall notify the owner thereof, and shall
article or by-law provision designed to address that advise the Membership Committee of such fact.
situation, decided to sell such share as a
consequence. But that is not the case here, and there (b) The Membership Committee shall then notify all
is no purpose for us to apply Section 69 to the case at applicants on the Waiting List and all registered
bar. stockholders of the availability of a share of stock for
sale at auction at a specified date, time and place, and
Calatagan argues in the alternative that Clementes suit shall post a notice to that effect in the Club bulletin
is barred by Article 1146 of the Civil Code which board for at least ten (10) days prior to the auction
establishes four (4) years as the prescriptive period for sale.
actions based upon injury to the rights of the plaintiff on
the hypothesis that the suit is purely for damages. As a (c) On the date and hour fixed, the Membership
second alternative still, Calatagan posits that Committee shall proceed with the auction by viva voce
Clementes action is governed by Article 1149 of the bidding and award the sale of the share of stock to the
Civil Code which sets five (5) years as the period of highest bidder.
prescription for all other actions whose prescriptive
periods are not fixed in the Civil Code or in any other (d) The purchase price shall be paid by the winning
law. Neither article is applicable but Article 1140 of the bidder to the Club within twenty-four (24) hours after
Civil Code which provides that an action to recover the bidding. The winning bidder or the representative in
movables shall prescribe in eight (8) years. Calatagans the case of a juridical entity shall become a Regular
action is for the recovery of a share of stock, plus Member upon payment of the purchase price and
damages. issuance of a new stock certificate in his name or in the
name of the juridical entity he represents. The
Calatagans advertence to the fact that the constitution proceeds of the sale shall be paid by the Club to the
of a lien on the members share by virtue of the explicit selling stockholder after deducting his obligations to
provisions in its Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws the Club.
is relevant but ultimately of no help to its cause.
Calatagans Articles of Incorporation states that the (e) If no bids be received or if the winning bidder fails
dues, together with all other obligations of members to to pay the amount of this bid within twenty-four (24)
the club, shall constitute a first lien on the shares, hours after the bidding, the auction procedures may be
second only to any lien in favor of the national or local repeated from time to time at the discretion of the
government, and in the event of delinquency such Membership Committee until the share of stock be
shares may be ordered sold by the Board of Directors sold.
in the manner provided in the By-Laws to satisfy said
dues or other obligations of the stockholders.[14] In (f) If the proceeds from the sale of the share of stock
turn, there are several provisions in the By-laws that are not sufficient to pay in full the indebtedness of the
govern the payment of dues, the lapse into member, the member shall continue to be obligated to
delinquency of the member, and the constitution and the Club for the unpaid balance. If the member whose
execution on the lien. We quote these provisions: share of stock is sold fails or refuse to surrender the
stock certificate for cancellation, cancellation shall be
ARTICLE XII MEMBERS ACCOUNT effected in the books of the Club based on a record of
the proceedings. Such cancellation shall render the
SEC. 31. (a) Billing Members, Posting of Delinquent unsurrendered stock certificate null and void and notice
Members The Treasurer shall bill al members monthly. to this effect shall be duly published.
As soon as possible after the end of every month, a
statement showing the account of bill of a member for It is plain that Calatagan had endeavored to install a
said month will be prepared and sent to him. If the bill clear and comprehensive procedure to govern the
of any member remains unpaid by the 20th of the payment of monthly dues, the declaration of a member
month following that in which the bill was incurred, the as delinquent, and the constitution of a lien on the
Treasurer shall notify him that if his bill is not paid in full shares and its eventual public sale to answer for the
by the end of the succeeding month his name will be members debts. Under Section 91 of the Corporation
posted as delinquent the following day at the Code, membership in a non-stock corporation shall be
Clubhouse bulletin board. While posted, a member, the terminated in the manner and for the causes provided
immediate members of his family, and his guests, may in the articles of incorporation or the by-laws. The By-
not avail of the facilities of the Club. law provisions are elaborate in explaining the manner
and the causes for the termination of membership in
(b) Members on the delinquent list for more than 60 Calatagan, through the execution on the lien of the
days shall be reported to the Board and their shares or share. The Court is satisfied that the By-Laws, as
written, affords due protection to the member by do the actual verification of other addressees on
assuring that the member should be notified by the record; a mere clerk can do the very simple task of
Secretary of the looming execution sale that would checking the files as in fact clerks actually undertake
terminate membership in the club. In addition, the By- these tasks. In fact, one telephone call to Clementes
Laws guarantees that after the execution sale, the phone numbers on file would have alerted him of his
proceeds of the sale would be returned to the former impending loss.
member after deducting the outstanding obligations. If
followed to the letter, the termination of membership Ultimately, the petition must fail because Calatagan
under this procedure outlined in the By-Laws would had failed to duly observe both the spirit and letter of
accord with substantial justice. its own by-laws. The by-law provisions was clearly
conceived to afford due notice to the delinquent
Yet, did Calatagan actually comply with the by-law member of the impending sale, and not just to provide
provisions when it sold Clementes share? The an intricate faade that would facilitate Calatagans sale
appellate courts finding on this point warrants our of the share. But then, the bad faith on Calatagans part
approving citation, thus: is palpable. As found by the Court of Appeals,
Calatagan very well knew that Clementes postal box to
In accordance with this provision, Calatagan sent the which it sent its previous letters had already been
third and final demand letter to Clemente on December closed, yet it persisted in sending that final letter to the
7, 1992. The letter states that if the amount of same postal box. What for? Just for the exercise, it
delinquency is not paid, the share will be included appears, as it had known very well that the letter would
among the delinquent shares to be sold at public never actually reach Clemente.
auction. This letter was signed by Atty. Benjamin
Tanedo, Jr., Calatagan Golfs Corporate Secretary. It It is noteworthy that Clemente in his membership
was again sent to Clementes mailing address Phimco application had provided his residential address along
Industries Inc., P.O. Box 240, MCC Makati. As with his residence and office telephone numbers.
expected, it was returned because the post office box Nothing in Section 32 of Calatagans By-Laws requires
had been closed. that the final notice prior to the sale be made solely
through the members mailing address. Clemente cites
Under the By-Laws, the Corporate Secretary is tasked our aphorism-like pronouncement in Rizal Commercial
to give or cause to be given, all notices required by law Banking Corporation v. Court of Appeals[15] that [a]
or by these By-Laws. .. and keep a record of the simple telephone call and an ounce of good faith x x x
addresses of all stockholders. As quoted above, Sec. could have prevented this present controversy. That
32 (a) of the By-Laws further provides that within ten memorable observation is quite apt in this case.
(10) days after the Board has ordered the sale at
auction of a members share of stock for indebtedness Calatagans bad faith and failure to observe its own By-
under Section 31 (b) hereof, the Secretary shall notify Laws had resulted not merely in the loss of Clementes
the owner thereof and shall advise the Membership privilege to play golf at its golf course and avail of its
Committee of such fact., The records do not disclose amenities, but also in significant pecuniary damage to
what report the Corporate Secretary transmitted to the him. For that loss, the only blame that could be thrown
Membership Committee to comply with Section 32(a). Clementes way was his failure to notify Calatagan of
Obviously, the reason for this mandatory requirement the closure of the P.O. Box. That lapse, if we uphold
is to give the Membership Committee the opportunity Calatagan would cost Clemente a lot. But, in the first
to find out, before the share is sold, if proper notice has place, does he deserve answerability for failing to
been made to the shareholder member. notify the club of the closure of the postal box? Indeed,
knowing as he did that Calatagan was in possession of
We presume that the Corporate Secretary, as a lawyer his home address as well as residence and office
is knowledgeable on the law and on the standards of telephone numbers, he had every reason to assume
good faith and fairness that the law requires. As that the club would not be at a loss should it need to
custodian of corporate records, he should also have contact him. In addition, according to Clemente, he
known that the first two letters sent to Clemente were was not even aware of the closure of the postal box,
returned because the P.O. Box had been closed. Thus, the maintenance of which was not his responsibility but
we are surprised given his knowledge of the law and of his employer Phimcos.
corporate records that he would send the third and final
letter Clementes last chance before his share is sold The utter bad faith exhibited by Calatagan brings into
and his membership lost to the same P.O. Box that operation Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code,[16]
had been closed. under the Chapter on Human Relations. These
provisions, which the Court of Appeals did apply,
Calatagan argues that it exercised due diligence before enunciate a general obligation under law for every
the foreclosure sale and sent several notices to person to act fairly and in good faith towards one
Clementes specified mailing address. We do not another. A non-stock corporation like Calatagan is not
agree; we cannot label as due diligence Calatagans exempt from that obligation in its treatment of its
act of sending the December 7, 1992 letter to members. The obligation of a corporation to treat every
Clementes mailing address knowing fully well that the person honestly and in good faith extends even to its
P.O. Box had been closed. Due diligence or good faith shareholders or members, even if the latter find
imposes upon the Corporate Secretary the chief themselves contractually bound to perform certain
repository of all corporate records the obligation to obligations to the corporation. A certificate of stock
check Clementes other address which, under the By- cannot be a charter of dehumanization.
Laws, have to be kept on file and are in fact on file.
One obvious purpose of giving the Corporate Secretary We turn to the matter of damages. The award of actual
the duty to keep the addresses of members on file is damages is of course warranted since Clemente has
specifically for matters of this kind, when the member sustained pecuniary injury by reason of Calatagans
cannot be reached through his or her mailing address. wrongful violation of its own By-Laws. It would not be
Significantly, the Corporate Secretary does not have to feasible to deliver Clementes original Certificate of
Stock because it had already been cancelled and a Theresa Pastorfide) effective June 1, 1994." (Records,
new one issued in its place in the name of the p. 47)
purchases at the auction who was not impleaded in
this case. However, the Court of Appeals instead vis-a-vis Ma. Theresa Pastorfide's assumption of the
directed that Calatagan to issue to Clemente a new payment of the mortgage loan secured by Joyce
certificate of stock. That sufficiently redresses the Ardiente from the National Home Mortgage (Records,
actual damages sustained by Clemente. After all, the Exh. "A", pp. 468-469)
certificate of stock is simply the evidence of the share.
For four (4) years, Ma. Theresa's use of the water
The Court of Appeals also awarded Clemente connection in the name of Joyce Ardiente was never
P200,000.00 as moral damages, P100,000.00 as questioned nor perturbed (T.S.N., October 31, 2000,
exemplary damages, and P100,000.00 as attorneys pp. 7-8) until on March 12, 1999, without notice, the
fees. We agree that the award of such damages is water connection of Ma. Theresa was cut off.
warranted. Proceeding to the office of the Cagayan de Oro Water
District (COWD) to complain, a certain Mrs. Madjos
The Court of Appeals cited Calatagan for violation of told Ma. Theresa that she was delinquent for three (3)
Article 32 of the Civil Code, which allows recovery of months corresponding to the months of December
damages from any private individual who directly or 1998, January 1999, and February 1999. Ma. Theresa
indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner argued that the due date of her payment was March
impedes or impairs the right against deprivation of 18, 1999 yet (T.S.N., October 31, 2000, pp. 11-12).
property without due process of laws. The plain letter Mrs. Madjos later told her that it was at the instance of
of the provision squarely entitles Clemente to damages Joyce Ardiente that the water line was cut off (T.S.N.,
from Calatagan. Even without Article 32 itself, February 5, 2001, p. 31).
Calatagan will still be bound to pay moral and
exemplary damages to Clemente. The latter was able On March 15, 1999, Ma. Theresa paid the delinquent
to duly prove that he had sustained mental anguish, bills (T.S.N., October 31, 2000, p. 12). On the same
serious anxiety and wounded feelings by reason of date, through her lawyer, Ma. Theresa wrote a letter to
Calatagans acts, thereby entitling him to moral the COWD to explain who authorized the cutting of the
damages under Article 2217 of the Civil Code. water line (Records, p. 160).
Moreover, it is evident that Calatagans bad faith as
exhibited in the On March 18, 1999, COWD, through the general
manager, [respondent] Gaspar Gonzalez, Jr.,
course of its corporate actions warrants correction for answered the letter dated March 15, 1999 and
the public good, thereby justifying exemplary damages reiterated that it was at the instance of Joyce Ardiente
under Article 2229 of the Civil Code. that the water line was cut off (Records, p. 161).

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision Aggrieved, on April 14, 1999, Ma. Theresa Pastorfide
of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against [and her husband] filed [a] complaint for damages
petitioner. SO ORDERED. [against petitioner, COWD and its manager Gaspar
Gonzalez] (Records, pp. 2-6).

e.) Ardiente vs Javier In the meantime, Ma. Theresa Pastorfide's water line
was only restored and reconnected when the [trial]
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari court issued a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse on December 14, 1999 (Records, p. 237).4
and set aside the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the
Court of Appeals (CA), dated August 28, 2003 and After trial, the RTC rendered judgment holding as
December 17, 2003, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No. follows:
73000. The CA Decision affirmed with modification the
August 15, 2001 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court xxxx
(RTC) of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 24, while the
CA Resolution denied petitioner's Motion for In the exercise of their rights and performance of their
Reconsideration. duties, defendants did not act with justice, gave
plaintiffs their due and observe honesty and good faith.
The facts, as summarized by the CA, are as follows: Before disconnecting the water supply, defendants
COWD and Engr. Gaspar Gonzales did not even send
[Herein petitioner] Joyce V. Ardiente and her husband a disconnection notice to plaintiffs as testified to by
Dr. Roberto S. Ardiente are owners of a housing unit at Engr. Bienvenido Batar, in-charge of the Commercial
Emily Homes, Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City with a lot Department of defendant COWD. There was one
area of one hundred fifty-three (153) square meters though, but only three (3) days after the actual
and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 69905. disconnection on March 12, 1999. The due date for
payment was yet on March 15. Clearly, they did not act
On June 2, 1994, Joyce Ardiente entered into a with justice. Neither did they observe honesty.
Memorandum of Agreement (Exh. "B", pp. 470-473,
Records) selling, transferring and conveying in favor of They should not have been swayed by the prodding of
[respondent] Ma. Theresa Pastorfide all their rights and Joyce V. Ardiente. They should have investigated first
interests in the housing unit at Emily Homes in as to the present ownership of the house. For doing
consideration of P70,000.00. The Memorandum of the act because Ardiente told them, they were
Agreement carries a stipulation: negligent. Defendant Joyce Ardiente should have
requested before the cutting off of the water supply,
"4. That the water and power bill of the subject property plaintiffs to pay. While she attempted to tell plaintiffs
shall be for the account of the Second Party (Ma. but she did not have the patience of seeing them. She
knew that it was plaintiffs who had been using the
water four (4) years ago and not hers. She should have STILL COMMITTED GRAVE AND SERIOUS ERROR
been very careful. x x x5 WHEN IT UPHELD THE JOINT AND SOLIDARY
LIABILITY OF PETITIONER JOYCE V. ARDIENTE
The dispositive portion of the trial court's Decision WITH CAGAYAN DE ORO WATER DISTRICT
reads, thus: (COWD) AND ENGR. GASPAR D. GONZALES FOR
THE LATTER'S FAILURE TO SERVE NOTICE UPON
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is RESPONDENTS SPOUSES PASTORFIDE PRIOR
hereby rendered ordering defendants [Ardiente, TO THE ACTUAL DISCONNECTION DESPITE
COWD and Gonzalez] to pay jointly and severally EVIDENCE ADDUCED DURING TRIAL THAT EVEN
plaintiffs, the following sums: WITHOUT PETITIONER'S REQUEST, COWD WAS
ALREADY SET TO EFFECT DISCONNECTION OF
(a) P200,000.00 for moral damages; RESPONDENTS' WATER SUPPLY DUE TO NON-
PAYMENT OF ACCOUNT FOR THREE (3) MONTHS.
(b) 200,000.00 for exemplary damages; and
7.2 THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
(c) 50,000.00 for attorney's fee. COMMITTED GRAVE AND SERIOUS ERROR WHEN
IT RULED TOTALLY AGAINST PETITIONER AND
The cross-claim of Cagayan de Oro Water District and FAILED TO FIND THAT RESPONDENTS ARE
Engr. Gaspar Gonzales is hereby dismissed. The GUILTY OF CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE WHEN
Court is not swayed that the cutting off of the water THEY FAILED TO PAY THEIR WATER BILLS FOR
supply of plaintiffs was because they were influenced THREE MONTHS AND TO MOVE FOR THE
by defendant Joyce Ardiente. They were negligent too TRANSFER OF THE COWD ACCOUNT IN THEIR
for which they should be liable. NAME, WHICH WAS A VIOLATION OF THEIR
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT WITH
SO ORDERED.6 PETITIONER JOYCE V. ARDIENTE. RESPONDENTS
LIKEWISE DELIBERATELY FAILED TO EXERCISE
Petitioner, COWD and Gonzalez filed an appeal with DILIGENCE OF A GOOD FATHER OF THE FAMILY
the CA. TO MINIMIZE THE DAMAGE UNDER ART. 2203 OF
THE NEW CIVIL CODE.
On August 28, 2003, the CA promulgated its assailed
Decision disposing as follows: 7.3 THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT DISREGARDED THE
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appealed FACT THAT RESPONDENT SPOUSES
decision is AFFIRMED, with the modification that the PASTORFIDE ARE LIKEWISE BOUND TO OBSERVE
awarded damages is reduced to P100,000.00 each for ARTICLE 19 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE, i.e., IN THE
moral and exemplary damages, while attorney's fees is EXERCISE OF THEIR RIGHTS AND IN THE
lowered to P25,000.00. Costs against appellants. PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES TO ACT WITH
JUSTICE, GIVE EVERYONE HIS DUE AND
SO ORDERED.7 OBSERVE HONESTY AND GOOD FAITH.

The CA ruled, with respect to petitioner, that she has a 7.4 THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
"legal duty to honor the possession and use of water GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT GRANTED AN AWARD
line by Ma. Theresa Pastorfide pursuant to their OF MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND
Memorandum of Agreement" and "that when ATTORNEY'S FEES AS AGAINST PETITIONER
[petitioner] applied for its disconnection, she acted in ARDIENTE.12
bad faith causing prejudice and [injury to] Ma. Theresa
Pastorfide."8 At the outset, the Court noticed that COWD and
Gonzalez, who were petitioner's co-defendants before
As to COWD and Gonzalez, the CA held that they the RTC and her co-appellants in the CA, were
"failed to give a notice of disconnection and derelicted impleaded as respondents in the instant petition. This
in reconnecting the water line despite payment of the cannot be done. Being her co-parties before the RTC
unpaid bills by the [respondent spouses Pastorfide]."9 and the CA, petitioner cannot, in the instant petition for
review on certiorari, make COWD and Gonzalez,
Petitioner, COWD and Gonzalez filed their respective adversary parties. It is a grave mistake on the part of
Motions for Reconsideration, but these were denied by petitioner's counsel to treat COWD and Gonzalez as
the CA in its Resolution dated December 17, 2003. respondents. There is no basis to do so, considering
that, in the first place, there is no showing that
COWD and Gonzalez filed a petition for review on petitioner filed a cross-claim against COWD and
certiorari with this Court, which was docketed as G.R. Gonzalez. Under Section 2, Rule 9 of the Rules of
No. 161802. However, based on technical grounds and Court, a cross-claim which is not set up shall be
on the finding that the CA did not commit any barred. Thus, for failing to set up a cross-claim against
reversible error in its assailed Decision, the petition COWD and Gonzalez before the RTC, petitioner is
was denied via a Resolution10 issued by this Court on already barred from doing so in the present petition.
March 24, 2004. COWD and Gonzalez filed a motion
for reconsideration, but the same was denied with More importantly, as shown above, COWD and
finality through this Court's Resolution11 dated June Gonzalez's petition for review on certiorari filed with
28, 2004. this Court was already denied with finality on June 28,
2004, making the presently assailed CA Decision final
Petitioner, on the other hand, timely filed the instant and executory insofar as COWD and Gonzalez are
petition with the following Assignment of Errors: concerned. Thus, COWD and Gonzalez are already
precluded from participating in the present petition.
7.1 HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (ALTHOUGH They cannot resurrect their lost cause by filing
IT HAS REDUCED THE LIABILITY INTO HALF) HAS pleadings this time as respondents but, nonetheless,
reiterating the same prayer in their previous pleadings In this regard, the Court's ruling in Yuchengco v. The
filed with the RTC and the CA. Manila Chronicle Publishing Corporation17 is
instructive, to wit:
As to the merits of the instant petition, the Court
likewise noticed that the main issues raised by xxxx
petitioner are factual and it is settled that the resolution
of factual issues is the function of lower courts, whose This provision of law sets standards which must be
findings on these matters are received with respect observed in the exercise of ones rights as well as in
and considered binding by the Supreme Court subject the performance of its duties, to wit: to act with justice;
only to certain exceptions, none of which is present in give everyone his due; and observe honesty and good
this instant petition.13 This is especially true when the faith.
findings of the RTC have been affirmed by the CA as in
this case.14 In Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation v.
Court of Appeals, it was elucidated that while Article 19
In any case, a perusal of the records at hand would "lays down a rule of conduct for the government of
readily show that the instant petition lacks merit. human relations and for the maintenance of social
order, it does not provide a remedy for its violation.
Petitioner insists that she should not be held liable for Generally, an action for damages under either Article
the disconnection of respondent spouses' water 20 or Article 21 would be proper." The Court said:
supply, because she had no participation in the actual
disconnection. However, she admitted in the present One of the more notable innovations of the New Civil
petition that it was she who requested COWD to Code is the codification of "some basic principles that
disconnect the Spouses Pastorfide's water supply. This are to be observed for the rightful relationship between
was confirmed by COWD and Gonzalez in their cross- human beings and for the stability of the social order."
claim against petitioner. While it was COWD which [REPORT ON THE CODE COMMISSION ON THE
actually discontinued respondent spouses' water PROPOSED CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, p.
supply, it cannot be denied that it was through the 39]. The framers of the Code, seeking to remedy the
instance of petitioner that the Spouses Pastorfide's defect of the old Code which merely stated the effects
water supply was disconnected in the first place. of the law, but failed to draw out its spirit, incorporated
certain fundamental precepts which were "designed to
It is true that it is within petitioner's right to ask and indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of
even require the Spouses Pastorfide to cause the good conscience" and which were also meant to serve
transfer of the former's account with COWD to the as "guides for human conduct [that] should run as
latter's name pursuant to their Memorandum of golden threads through society, to the end that law
Agreement. However, the remedy to enforce such right may approach its supreme ideal, which is the sway and
is not to cause the disconnection of the respondent dominance of justice." (Id.) Foremost among these
spouses' water supply. The exercise of a right must be principles is that pronounced in Article 19 x x x.
in accordance with the purpose for which it was
established and must not be excessive or unduly xxxx
harsh; there must be no intention to harm another.15
Otherwise, liability for damages to the injured party will This article, known to contain what is commonly
attach.16 In the present case, intention to harm was referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, sets
evident on the part of petitioner when she requested certain standards which must be observed not only in
for the disconnection of respondent spouses water the exercise of one's rights, but also in the
supply without warning or informing the latter of such performance of one's duties. These standards are the
request. Petitioner claims that her request for following: to act with justice; to give everyone his due;
disconnection was based on the advise of COWD and to observe honesty and good faith. The law,
personnel and that her intention was just to compel the therefore, recognizes a primordial limitation on all
Spouses Pastorfide to comply with their agreement rights; that in their exercise, the norms of human
that petitioner's account with COWD be transferred in conduct set forth in Article 19 must be observed. A
respondent spouses' name. If such was petitioner's right, though by itself legal because recognized or
only intention, then she should have advised granted by law as such, may nevertheless become the
respondent spouses before or immediately after source of some illegality. When a right is exercised in a
submitting her request for disconnection, telling them manner which does not conform with the norms
that her request was simply to force them to comply enshrined in Article 19 and results in damage to
with their obligation under their Memorandum of another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which
Agreement. But she did not. What made matters worse the wrongdoer must be held responsible. But while
is the fact that COWD undertook the disconnection Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the
also without prior notice and even failed to reconnect government of human relations and for the
the Spouses Pastorfides water supply despite maintenance of social order, it does not provide a
payment of their arrears. There was clearly an abuse remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for
of right on the part of petitioner, COWD and Gonzalez. damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 would be
They are guilty of bad faith. proper.

The principle of abuse of rights as enshrined in Article Corollarilly, Article 20 provides that "every person who,
19 of the Civil Code provides that every person must, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage
in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of to another shall indemnify the latter for the same." It
his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions
observe honesty and good faith. of law which do not especially provide for its own
sanction. When a right is exercised in a manner which
does not conform to the standards set forth in the said
provision and results in damage to another, a legal
wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer
must be responsible. Thus, if the provision does not 1994 dismissing the claim;1 and the Court of Appeals
provide a remedy for its violation, an action for (CA) affirmed the dismissal on March 10, 2003.2
damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 of the
Civil Code would be proper. Hence, this appeal by Sesbreo.

The question of whether or not the principle of abuse of Antecedents


rights has been violated resulting in damages under
Article 20 or other applicable provision of law, depends At the time material to the petition, VECO was a public
on the circumstances of each case. x x x18 utility corporation organized and existing under the
laws of the Philippines. VECO engaged in the sale and
To recapitulate, petitioner's acts which violated the distribution of electricity within Metropolitan Cebu.
abovementioned provisions of law is her unjustifiable Sesbreo was one of VECOs customers under the
act of having the respondent spouses' water supply metered service contract they had entered into on
disconnected, coupled with her failure to warn or at March 2, 1982.3 Respondent Vicente E. Garcia was
least notify respondent spouses of such intention. On VECOs President, General Manager and Chairman of
the part of COWD and Gonzalez, it is their failure to its Board of Directors. Respondent Jose E. Garcia was
give prior notice of the impending disconnection and VECOs Vice-President, Treasurer and a Member of its
their subsequent neglect to reconnect respondent Board of Directors. Respondent Angelita Lhuillier was
spouses' water supply despite the latter's settlement of another Member of VECOs Board of Directors.
their delinquent account. Respondent Juan Coromina was VECOs Assistant
Treasurer, while respondent Norberto Abellana was
On the basis of the foregoing, the Court finds no the Head of VECOs Billing Section whose main
cogent reason to depart from the ruling of both the function was to compute back billings of customers
RTC and the CA that petitioner, COWD and Gonzalez found to have violated their contracts.
are solidarily liable.
To ensure that its electric meters were properly
The Spouses Pastorfide are entitled to moral damages functioning, and that none of it meters had been
based on the provisions of Article 2219,19 in tampered with, VECO employed respondents Engr.
connection with Articles 2020 and 2121 of the Civil Felipe Constantino and Ronald Arcilla as violation of
Code. contract (VOC) inspectors.4 Respondent Sgt. Demetrio
Balicha, who belonged to the 341st Constabulary
As for exemplary damages, Article 2229 provides that Company, Cebu Metropolitan Command, Camp Sotero
exemplary damages may be imposed by way of Cabahug, Cebu City, accompanied and escorted the
example or correction for the public good. VOC inspectors during their inspection of the
Nonetheless, exemplary damages are imposed not to households of its customers on May 11, 1989 pursuant
enrich one party or impoverish another, but to serve as to a mission order issued to him.5
a deterrent against or as a negative incentive to curb
socially deleterious actions.22 In the instant case, the The CA summarized the antecedent facts as follows:
Court agrees with the CA in sustaining the award of
exemplary damages, although it reduced the amount x x x. Reduced to its essentials, however, the facts of
granted, considering that respondent spouses were this case are actually simple enough, although the
deprived of their water supply for more than nine (9) voluminous records might indicate otherwise. It all has
months, and such deprivation would have continued to do with an incident that occurred at around 4:00
were it not for the relief granted by the RTC. oclock in the afternoon of May 11, 1989. On that day,
the Violation of Contracts (VOC) Team of defendants-
With respect to the award of attorney's fees, Article appellees Constantino and Arcilla and their PC escort,
2208 of the Civil Code provides, among others, that Balicha, conducted a routine inspection of the houses
such fees may be recovered when exemplary at La Paloma Village, Labangon, Cebu City, including
damages are awarded, when the defendant's act or that of plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo, for illegal
omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third connections, meter tampering, seals, conduit pipes,
persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest, jumpers, wiring connections, and meter installations.
and where the defendant acted in gross and evident After Bebe Baledio, plaintiff-appellant Sesbreos maid,
bad faith in refusing to satisfy the plaintiffs plainly unlocked the gate, they inspected the electric meter
valid, just and demandable claim. and found that it had been turned upside down.
Defendant-appellant Arcilla took photographs of the
WHEREFORE, instant petition for review on certiorari upturned electric meter. With Chuchie Garcia, Peter
is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court Sesbreo and one of the maids present, they removed
of Appeals, dated August 28, 2003 and December 17, said meter and replaced it with a new one. At that time,
2003, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No. 73000 are plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo was in his office and no
AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. one called to inform him of the inspection. The VOC
Team then asked for and received Chuchie Garcias
permission to enter the house itself to examine the kind
f.) Sesbreno vs CA and VECO and number of appliances and light fixtures in the
household and determine its electrical load.
This case concerns the claim for damages of petitioner Afterwards, Chuchie Garcia signed the Inspection
Raul H. Sesbreo founded on abuse of rights. Division Report, which showed the condition of the
Sesbreo accused the violation of contract (VOC) electric meter on May 11, 1989 when the VOC Team
inspection team dispatched by the Visayan Electric inspected it, with notice that it would be subjected to a
Company (VECO) to check his electric meter with laboratory test. She also signed a Load Survey Sheet
conducting an unreasonable search in his residential that showed the electrical load of plaintiff-appellant
premises. But the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch Sesbreo.
13, in Cebu City rendered judgment on August 19,
But according to plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo there was subdivision. Yet, none but plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo
nothing routine or proper at all with what the VOC complained of the alleged acts of the VOC Team.
Team did on May 11, 1989 in his house. Their entry to Considering that there is no proof that they also
his house and the surrounding premises was effected perpetrated the same illegal acts on other customers in
without his permission and over the objections of his the guise of conducting a Violation of Contracts
maids. They threatened, forced or coerced their way inspection, plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo likewise failed
into his house. They unscrewed the electric meter, to show why he alone was singled out. It is also difficult
turned it upside down and took photographs thereof. to believe that the VOC Team would be brazen enough
They then replaced it with a new electric meter. They to want to antagonize a person such as plaintiff-
searched the house and its rooms without his appellant Sesbreo. There is no evidence that the
permission or a search warrant. They forced a visitor to VOC Team harbored any evil motive or grudge against
sign two documents, making her appear to be his plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo, who is a total stranger to
representative or agent. Afterwards, he found that them. Until he came along, they did not have any prior
some of his personal effects were missing, apparently criminal records to speak of, or at least, no evidence
stolen by the VOC Team when they searched the thereof was presented. It is equally difficult to believe
house.6 that their superiors would authorize or condone their
alleged illegal acts. Especially so since there is no
Judgment of the RTC indication that prior to the incident on May 11, 1989,
there was already bad blood or animosity between
On August 19, 1994, the RTC rendered judgment plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo and defendant appellees to
dismissing the complaint.7 It did not accord credence warrant such a malevolent response. In fact, since
to the testimonies of Sesbreos witnesses, Bebe availing of defendant-appellee VECOs power services,
Baledio, his housemaid, and Roberto Lopez, a part- the relationship between them appears to have been
time salesman, due to inconsistencies on material uneventful.
points in their respective testimonies. It observed that
Baledio could not make up her mind as to whether It becomes all the more apparent that the charges
Sesbreos children were in the house when the VOC stemming from the May 11, 1989 incident were
inspection team detached and replaced the electric fabricated when taken together with the lower courts
meter. Likewise, it considered unbelievable that Lopez evaluation of the alleged theft of plaintiff-appellant
should hear the exchanges between Constantino, Sesbreos personal effects. It stated that on August 8,
Arcilla and Balicha, on one hand, and Baledio, on the 1989, plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo wrote the barangay
other, considering that Lopez could not even hear the captain of Punta Princesa and accused Chuchie
conversation between two persons six feet away from Garcia and Victoria Villarta alias Victoria Rocamora of
where he was seated during the simulation done in theft of some of his things that earlier he claimed had
court, the same distance he supposedly had from the been stolen by members of the VOC Team. When he
gate of Sesbreos house during the incident. It pointed was confronted with these facts, plaintiff-appellant
out that Lopezs presence at the gate during the Sesbreo further claimed that the items allegedly
incident was even contradicted by his own testimony stolen by Chuchie Garcia were part of the loot taken by
indicating that an elderly woman had opened the gate defendants-appellees Constantino and Arcilla. Yet not
for the VECO personnel, because it was Baledio, a once did plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo or any of his
lady in her 20s, who had repeatedly stated on her witnesses mention that a conspiracy existed between
direct and cross examinations that she had let the these people. Clearly, much like his other allegations, it
VECO personnel in. It concluded that for Lopez to do is nothing more than an afterthought by plaintiff-
nothing at all upon seeing a person being threatened appellant Sesbreo.
by another in the manner he described was simply
contrary to human experience. All in all, the allegations against defendants-appellees
appear to be nothing more than a put-on to save face.
In contrast, the RTC believed the evidence of the For the simple truth is that the inspection exposed
respondents showing that the VOC inspection team plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo as a likely cheat and thief.
had found the electric meter in Sesbreos residence
turned upside down to prevent the accurate registering xxxx
of the electricity consumption of the household,
causing them to detach and replace the meter. It held Neither is this Court swayed by the testimonies of
as unbelievable that the team forcibly entered the Baledio and Lopez.1wphi1 The lower court rightly
house through threats and intimidation; that they described their testimonies as fraught by discrepancies
themselves turned the electric meter upside down in and inconsistencies on material points and even called
order to incriminate him for theft of electricity, because Lopez a perjured witness. On the other hand, it is odd
the fact that the team and Sesbreo had not known that plaintiff-appellant Sesbreo chose not to present
each other before then rendered it unlikely for the team the witness whose testimony was very crucial. But
to fabricate charges against him; and that Sesbreos even though Chuchie Garcia never testified, her
non-presentation of Chuchie Garcia left her allegation absence speaks volumes. Whereas plaintiff-appellant
of her being forced to sign the two documents by the Sesbreo claimed that the VOC Team forced her to
team unsubstantiated. sign two documents that made her appear to be his
authorized agent or representative, the latter claimed
Decision of the CA otherwise and that she also gave them permission to
enter and search the house. The person most qualified
Sesbreo appealed, but the CA affirmed the RTC on to refute the VOC Teams claim is Chuchie Garcia
March 10, 2003,8 holding thusly: herself. It is axiomatic that he who asserts a fact or
claim must prove it. He cannot transfer that burden to
x x x. plaintiff-appellant Sesbreos account is simply the person against whom he asserts such fact or claim.
too implausible or far-fetched to be believed. For one When certain evidence is suppressed, the presumption
thing, the inspection on his household was just one of is that it will adversely affect the cause of the party
many others that the VOC Team had conducted in that suppressing it, should it come to light. x x x9
inspected the meter were duly authorized for the
Upon denial of his motion for reconsideration,10 purpose by VECO.
Sesbreo appealed.
Although Balicha was not himself an employee of
Issue VECO,16 his participation was to render police
assistance to ensure the personal security of
Was Sesbreo entitled to recover damages for abuse Constantino and Arcilla during the inspection,
of rights? rendering him a necessary part of the team as an
authorized representative. Under the circumstances,
Ruling: he was authorized to enter considering that paragraph
9 expressly extended such authority to "properly
The appeal has no merit. authorized employees or representatives" of VECO.

Sesbreos main contention is that the inspection of his It is true, as Sesbreo urges, that paragraph 9 did not
residence by the VOC team was an unreasonable cover the entry into the main premises of the
search for being carried out without a warrant and for residence. Did this necessarily mean that any entry by
being allegedly done with malice or bad faith. the VOS team into the main premises required a
search warrant to be first secured?
Before dealing with the contention, we have to note
that two distinct portions of Sesbreos residence were Sesbreo insists so, citing Section 2, Article III of the
inspected by the VOS team the garage where the 1987 Constitution, the clause guaranteeing the right of
electric meter was installed, and the main premises every individual against unreasonable searches and
where the four bedrooms, living rooms, dining room seizures, viz:
and kitchen were located.
Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their
Anent the inspection of the garage where the meter persons, houses, papers and effects against
was installed, the respondents assert that the VOC unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever
team had the continuing authority from Sesbreo as nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no
the consumer to enter his premises at all reasonable search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except
hours to conduct an inspection of the meter without upon probable cause to be determined personally by
being liable for trespass to dwelling. The authority the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of
emanated from paragraph 9 of the metered service the complainant and the witnesses he may produce,
contract entered into between VECO and each of its and particularly describing the place to be searched
consumers, which provided as follows: and the persons or things to be seized.

9. The CONSUMER agrees to allow properly He states that a violation of this constitutional guaranty
authorized employees or representatives of the rendered VECO and its VOS team liable to him for
COMPANY to enter his premises at all reasonable damages by virtue of Article 32 (9) of the Civil Code,
hours without being liable to trespass to dwelling for which pertinently provides:
the purpose of inspecting, installing, reading, removing,
testing, replacing or otherwise disposing of its property, Article 32. Any public officer or employee, or any
and/or removing the COMPANYS property in the private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs,
event of the termination of the contract for any defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs
cause.11 any of the following rights and liberties of another
person shall be liable to the latter for damages:
Sesbreo contends, however, that paragraph 9 did not
give Constantino, Arcilla and Balicha the blanket xxxx
authority to enter at will because the only property
VECO owned in his premises was the meter; hence, (9) The right to be secured in ones person, house,
Constantino and Arcilla should enter only the garage. papers, and effects against unreasonable searches
He denies that they had the right to enter the main and seizures;
portion of the house and inspect the various rooms and
the appliances therein because those were not the x x x x.
properties of VECO. He posits that Balicha, who was
not an employee of VECO, had no authority Sesbreos insistence has no legal and factual basis.
whatsoever to enter his house and conduct a search. The constitutional guaranty against unlawful searches
He concludes that their search was unreasonable, and and seizures is intended as a restraint against the
entitled him to damages in light of their admission that Government and its agents tasked with law
they had entered and inspected his premises without a enforcement. It is to be invoked only to ensure freedom
search warrant.12 from arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of State
power. The Court has made this clear in its
We do not accept Sesbreos conclusion.1avvphi1 pronouncements, including that made in People v.
Paragraph 9 clothed the entire VOC team with Marti,17 viz:
unquestioned authority to enter the garage to inspect
the meter. The members of the team obviously met the If the search is made upon the request of law
conditions imposed by paragraph 9 for an authorized enforcers, a warrant must generally be first secured if it
entry. Firstly, their entry had the objective of is to pass the test of constitutionality. However, if the
conducting the routine inspection of the meter.13 search is made at the behest or initiative of the
proprietor of a private establishment for its own and
Secondly, the entry and inspection were confined to private purposes, as in the case at bar, and without the
the garage where the meter was installed.14 Thirdly, intervention of police authorities, the right against
the entry was effected at around 4 oclock p.m., a unreasonable search and seizure cannot be invoked
reasonable hour.15 And, fourthly, the persons who for only the act of private individual, not the law
enforcers, is involved. In sum, the protection against whether or not the principle of abuse of rights is to be
unreasonable searches and seizures cannot be invoked. The resolution of the issue depends on the
extended to acts committed by private individuals so as circumstances of each case.
to bring it within the ambit of alleged unlawful intrusion
by the government.18 Sesbreo asserts that he did not authorize Baledio or
Chuchie Garcia to let anyone enter his residence in his
It is worth noting that the VOC inspectors decided to absence; and that Baledio herself confirmed that the
enter the main premises only after finding the meter of members of the VOC team had intimidated her into
Sesbreo turned upside down, hanging and its disc not letting them in.
rotating. Their doing so would enable them to
determine the unbilled electricity consumed by his The assertion of Sesbreo is improper for
household. The circumstances justified their decision, consideration in this appeal.1wphi1 The RTC and the
and their inspection of the main premises was a CA unanimously found the testimonies of Sesbreos
continuation of the authorized entry. There was no witnesses implausible because of inconsistencies on
question then that their ability to determine the unbilled material points; and even declared that the non-
electricity called for them to see for themselves the presentation of Garcia as a witness was odd if not
usage of electricity inside. Not being agents of the suspect. Considering that such findings related to the
State, they did not have to first obtain a search warrant credibility of the witnesses and their testimonies, the
to do so. Court cannot review and undo them now because it is
not a trier of facts, and is not also tasked to analyze or
Balichas presence participation in the entry did not weigh evidence all over again.26 Verily, a review that
make the inspection a search by an agent of the State may tend to supplant the findings of the trial court that
within the ambit of the guaranty. As already mentioned, had the first-hand opportunity to observe the demeanor
Balicha was part of the team by virtue of his mission of the witnesses themselves should be undertaken by
order authorizing him to assist and escort the team the Court with prudent hesitation. Only when Sesbreo
during its routine inspection.19 Consequently, the entry could make a clear showing of abuse in their
into the main premises of the house by the VOC team appreciation of the evidence and records by the trial
did not constitute a violation of the guaranty. and the appellate courts should the Court do the
unusual review of the factual findings of the trial and
Our holding could be different had Sesbreo appellate courts.27 Alas, that showing was not made
persuasively demonstrated the intervention of malice here.
or bad faith on the part of Constantino and Arcilla
during their inspection of the main premises, or any Nor should the Court hold that Sesbreo was denied
excessiveness committed by them in the course of the due process by the refusal of the trial judge to inhibit
inspection. But Sesbreo did not. On the other hand, from the case. Although the trial judge had issued an
the CA correctly observed that the inspection did not order for his voluntary inhibition, he still rendered the
zero in on Sesbreos residence because the other judgment in the end in compliance with the instruction
houses within the area were similarly subjected to the of the Executive Judge, whose exercise of her
routine inspection.20 This, we think, eliminated any administrative authority on the matter of the inhibition
notion of malice or bad faith. should be respected.28 In this connection, we find to
be apt the following observation of the CA, to wit:
Clearly, Sesbreo did not establish his claim for
damages if the respondents were not guilty of abuse of x x x. Both Judge Paredes and Judge Priscila Agana
rights. To stress, the concept of abuse of rights serve the Regional Trial Court and are therefore of co-
prescribes that a person should not use his right equal rank. The latter has no authority to reverse or
unjustly or in bad faith; otherwise, he may be liable to modify the orders of Judge Paredes. But in ordering
another who suffers injury. The rationale for the Judge Paredes to continue hearing the case, Judge
concept is to present some basic principles to be Agana did not violate their co-equal status or
followed for the rightful relationship between human unilaterally increased her jurisdiction. It is merely part
beings and the stability of social order.21 Moreover, of her administrative responsibilities as Executive
according to a commentator,22 "the exercise of right Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, of
ends when the right disappears, and it disappears which Judge Paredes is also a member.29
when it is abused, especially to the prejudice of
others[;] [i]t cannot be said that a person exercises a Lastly, the Court finds nothing wrong if the writer of the
right when he unnecessarily prejudices another." decision in the CA refused to inhibit from participating
Article 19 of the Civil Code23 sets the standards to be in the resolution of the motion for reconsideration filed
observed in the exercise of ones rights and in the by Sesbrefio. The motion for her inhibition was
performance of ones duties, namely: (a) to act with grounded on suspicion of her bias and prejudice,30 but
justice; (b) to give everyone his due; and (c) to observe suspicion of bias and prejudice were not enough
honesty and good faith. The law thereby recognizes grounds for inhibition.31
the primordial limitation on all rights that in the
exercise of the rights, the standards under Article 19 Suffice it to say that the records are bereft of any
must be observed.24 indication that even suggested that the Associate
Justices of the CA who participated in the promulgation
Although the act is not illegal, liability for damages may of the decision were tainted with bias against him.
arise should there be an abuse of rights, like when the
act is performed without prudence or in bad faith. In WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the pet1t1on for
order that liability may attach under the concept of review on certiorari; AFFIRMS the decision
abuse of rights, the following elements must be promulgated on March 10, 2003; and DIRECTS the
present, to wit: (a) the existence of a legal right or duty, petitioner to pay the costs of suit. SO ORDERED.
(b) which is exercised in bad faith, and (c) for the sole
intent of prejudicing or injuring another.25 There is no
hard and fast rule that can be applied to ascertain
g.) Saladaga vs Astorga January 8,1996 was filed before the Municipal Trial
Court (MTC) of Baybay, Leyte, formally charging
Membership in the legal profession is a high personal respondent with the crime of estafa under Article 316,
privilege burdened with conditions,1 including paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Revised Penal Code,11
continuing fidelity to the law and constant possession committed as follows:
of moral fitness. Lawyers, as guardians of the law, play
a vital role in the preservation of society, and a On March 14, 1984, accused representing himself as
consequent obligation of lawyers is to maintain the the owner of a parcel of land known as Lot No. 7661 of
highest standards of ethical conduct.2 Failure to live by the Baybay Cadastre, mortgaged the same to the
the standards of the legal profession and to discharge Rural Bank of Albuera, Albuera, Leyte, within the
the burden of the privilege conferred on one as a jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, knowing fully well
member of the bar warrant the suspension or that the possessor and owner at that time was private
revocation of that privilege. complainant Florencio Saladaga by virtue of a Pacto
de Retro Sale which accused executed in favor of
The Factual Antecedents private complainant on 2nd December, 1981, without
first redeeming/repurchasing the same. [P]rivate
Complainant Florencio A. Saladaga and respondent complainant knowing of accused[s] unlawful act only
Atty. Arturo B. Astorga entered into a "Deed of Sale on or about the last week of February, 1991 when the
with Right to Repurchase" on December 2, 1981 where rural bank dispossessed him of the property, the
respondent sold (with rightof repurchase) to mortgage having been foreclosed, private complainant
complainant a parcel of coconut land located at thereby suffered damages and was prejudiced by
Barangay Bunga, Baybay, Leyte covered by Transfer accused[s] unlawful transaction and
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-662 for P15,000.00. misrepresentation.
Under the said deed, respondent represented that he
has "the perfect right to dispose as owner in fee The aforementioned estafa case against respondent
simple" the subject property and that the said property was docketed as Criminal Case No. 3112-A.
is "free from all liens and encumbrances."3 The deed
also provided that respondent, as vendor a retro, had Complainant likewise instituted the instant
two years within which to repurchase the property, and administrative cases against respondent by filing
if not repurchased within the said period, "the parties before this Court an Affidavit-Complaint12 dated
shall renew [the] instrument/agreement."4 January 28, 1997 and Supplemental Complaint13
dated February 27, 1997, which were docketed as A.C.
Respondent failed to exercise his right of repurchase No. 4697 and A.C. No. 4728, respectively. In both
within the period provided in the deed, and no renewal complaints, complainant sought the disbarment of
of the contract was made even after complainant sent respondent.
respondent a final demand dated May 10, 1984 for the
latter to repurchase the property. Complainant The administrative cases were referred to the
remained in peaceful possession of the property until Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
December 1989 when he received letters from the report and recommendation.14
Rural Bank of Albuera (Leyte), Inc. (RBAI) informing
him that the property was mortgaged by respondent to In his Consolidated Answer15 dated August 16, 2003
RBAI, that the bank had subsequently foreclosed on filed before the IBP, respondent denied that his
the property, and that complainant should therefore agreement with complainant was a pacto de retrosale.
vacate the property.5 He claimed that it was an equitable mortgage and that,
if only complainant rendered an accounting of his
Complainant was alarmed and made aninvestigation. benefits from the produce of the land, the total amount
He learned the following: would have exceeded P15,000.00.

(1) TCT No. T-662 was already cancelled by TCT No. Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
T-3211 in the name of Philippine National Bank (PNB) Commissioner and Resolution of the IBP Board of
as early as November 17, 1972 after foreclosure Governors
proceedings;
In a Report and Recommendation16 dated April 29,
(2) TCT No. T-3211 was cancelled by TCT No. T-7235 2005, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBPs
in the names of respondent and his wife on January 4, Commission on Bar Discipline found that respondent
1982 pursuant to a deed of sale dated March 27,1979 was in bad faith when he dealt with complainant and
between PNB and respondent; executed the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase"
but later on claimed that the agreement was one of
(3) Respondent mortgaged the subject property to equitable mortgage. Respondent was also guilty of
RBAI on March 14, 1984, RBAI foreclosed on the deceit or fraud when he represented in the "Deed of
property, and subsequently obtained TCT No. TP- Sale with Right to Repurchase" dated December 2,
10635 on March 27, 1991.6 Complainant was 1981 that the property was covered by TCT No. T-662,
subsequently dispossessed of the property by RBAI.7 even giving complainant the owners copy of the said
certificate of title, when the said TCT had already been
Aggrieved, complainant instituted a criminal complaint cancelled on November 17, 1972 by TCT No. T-3211
for estafa against respondent with the Office of the in the name of Philippine National Bank (PNB).
Provincial Prosecutor of Leyte, docketed as I.S. No. Respondent made matters even worse, when he had
95-144. The Provincial Prosecutor of Leyte approved TCT No. T-3211 cancelled with the issuance of TCT
the Resolution8 dated April 21, 1995 in I.S. No. 95-144 No. T-7235 under his and his wifes name on January
finding that "[t]he facts of [the] case are sufficient to 4,1982 without informing complainant. This was
engender a well-founded belief that Estafa x x x has compounded by respondents subsequent mortgage of
been committed and that respondent herein is probably the property to RBAI, which led to the acquisition of the
guilty thereof."9 Accordingly, an Information10 dated property by RBAI and the dispossession thereof of
complainant. Thus, the Investigating Commissioner the very least, easily resolved. His imprecise and
recommended that respondent be (1) suspended from misleading wording of the said deed on its face
the practice of law for one year, with warning that a betrayed lack oflegal competence on his part. He
similar misdeed in the future shall be dealt with more thereby fell short of his oath to "conduct [him]self as a
severity, and (2) ordered to return the sum of lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and
P15,000.00, the amount he received as consideration discretion."
for the pacto de retrosale, with interest at the legal rate.
More significantly, respondent transgressed the laws
Considering respondents "commission of unlawful and the fundamental tenet of human relations
acts, especially crimes involving moral turpitude, actsof asembodied in Article 19 of the Civil Code:
dishonesty, grossly immoral conduct and deceit," the
IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights
Investigating Commissioners Report and and in the performance of his duties, act with justice,
Recommendation with modification as follows: give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good
respondent is(1) suspended from the practice of law for faith.
two years, with warning that a similar misdeed in the
future shall be dealt with more severity, and (2) Respondent, as owner of the property, had the right to
ordered to return the sum of P15,000.00 received in mortgage it to complainant but, as a lawyer, he should
consideration of the pacto de retrosale, with legal have seen to it that his agreement with complainant is
interest.17 embodied in an instrument that clearly expresses the
intent of the contracting parties. A lawyer who drafts a
The Courts Ruling contract must see to it that the agreement faithfully and
clearly reflects the intention of the contracting parties.
The Court agrees with the recommendation of the IBP Otherwise, the respective rights and obligations of the
Board of Governors to suspend respondent from the contracting parties will be uncertain, which opens the
practice of law for two years, but it refrains from door to legal disputes between the said parties.
ordering respondent to return the P15,000.00 Indeed, the uncertainty caused by respondents poor
consideration, plus interest. formulation of the "Deed of Sale with Right to
Repurchase" was a significant factor in the legal
Respondent does not deny executing the "Deed of controversy between respondent and complainant.
Sale with Right to Repurchase" dated December 2, Such poor formulation reflects at the very least
1981 in favor of complainant. However, respondent negatively on the legal competence of respondent.
insists that the deed is not one of sale with pacto de
retro, but one of equitable mortgage. Thus, respondent Under Section 63 of the Land Registration Act,19 the
argues that he still had the legal right to mortgage the law in effect at the time the PNB acquired the subject
subject property to other persons. Respondent property and obtained TCT No. T-3211 in its name in
additionally asserts that complainant should render an 1972, where a decree in favor of a purchaser who
accounting of the produce the latter had collected from acquires mortgaged property in foreclosure
the said property, which would already exceed the proceedings becomes final, such purchaser becomes
P15,000.00 consideration stated in the deed. entitled to the issuance of a new certificate of title in his
name and a memorandum thereof shall be "indorsed
There is no merit in respondents defense. upon the mortgagors original certificate."20 TCT No.
T-662, which respondent gave complainant when they
Regardless of whether the written contract between entered into the "Deed of Sale with Right to
respondent and complainant is actually one of sale Repurchase" dated December 2, 1981, does not
with pacto de retroor of equitable mortgage, bearsuch memorandum but only a memorandum on
respondents actuations in his transaction with the mortgage of the property to PNB in 1963 and the
complainant, as well as in the present administrative subsequent amendment of the mortgage.
cases, clearly show a disregard for the highest
standards of legal proficiency, morality, honesty, Respondent dealt with complainant with bad faith,
integrity, and fair dealing required from lawyers, for falsehood, and deceit when he entered into the "Deed
which respondent should be held administratively of Sale with Right to Repurchase" dated December 2,
liable. 1981 with the latter. He made it appear that the
property was covered by TCT No. T-662 under his
When respondent was admitted to the legal profession, name, even giving complainant the owners copy of the
he took an oath where he undertook to "obey the said certificate oftitle, when the truth is that the said
laws," "do no falsehood," and "conduct [him]self as a TCT had already been cancelled some nine years
lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and earlier by TCT No. T-3211 in the name of PNB. He did
discretion."18 He gravely violated his oath. not evencare to correct the wrong statement in the
deed when he was subsequently issued a new copy of
The Investigating Commissioner correctly found, and TCT No. T-7235 on January 4, 1982,21 or barely a
the IBP Board of Governors rightly agreed, that month after the execution of the said deed. All told,
respondent caused the ambiguity or vagueness in the respondent clearly committed an act of gross
"Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" as he was the dishonesty and deceit against complainant.
one who prepared or drafted the said instrument.
Respondent could have simply denominated the Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Codeof Professional
instrument as a deed of mortgage and referred to Responsibility provide:
himself and complainant as "mortgagor" and
"mortgagee," respectively, rather than as "vendor a CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution,
retro" and "vendee a retro." If only respondent had obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
been more circumspect and careful in the drafting and and legal processes.
preparation of the deed, then the controversy between
him and complainant could havebeen avoided or, at
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, submit their respective position papers. Despite having
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Under Canon been given several opportunities to submit the same,
1, a lawyer is not only mandated to personally obey the respondent did not file any position paper.27
laws and the legal processes, he is moreover expected
to inspire respect and obedience thereto. On the other Respondents disregard of the directives of this Court
hand, Rule 1.01 states the norm of conduct that is and of the Investigating Commissioner, which caused
expected of all lawyers.22 undue delay in these administrative cases,
contravenes the following provisions of the Code of
Any act or omission that is contrary to, prohibited or Professional Responsibility:
unauthorized by, in defiance of, disobedient to, or
disregards the law is "unlawful." "Unlawful" conduct CANON 11 A lawyer shall observe and maintain the
does not necessarily imply the element of criminality respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and
although the concept is broad enough to include such should insist on similar conduct by others.
element.23
xxxx
To be "dishonest" means the disposition to lie, cheat,
deceive, defraud or betray; be untrustworthy; lacking CANON 12 A lawyer shall exert every effort and
inintegrity, honesty, probity, integrity in principle, consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient
fairness and straightforwardness. On the other hand, administration of justice.
conduct that is "deceitful" means as follows:
xxxx
[Having] the proclivity for fraudulent and deceptive
misrepresentation, artifice or device that is used upon Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining
another who is ignorant of the true facts, to the extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or
prejudice and damage of the party imposed upon. In briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same
order to be deceitful, the person must either have or offering an explanation for his failure to do so.
knowledge of the falsity or acted in reckless and
conscious ignorance thereof, especially if the parties Rule 12.04 A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case,
are not on equal terms, and was done with the intent impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court
that the aggrieved party act thereon, and the latter processes.
indeed acted in reliance of the false statement or deed
in the manner contemplated to his injury.24 The Respondents infractions are aggravated by the fact
actions of respondent in connection with the execution that he has already been imposed a disciplinary
of the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" clearly sanction before.1wphi1 In Nuez v. Atty. Astorga,28
fall within the concept of unlawful, dishonest, and respondent was held liable for conduct unbecoming an
deceitful conduct. They violate Article 19 of the Civil attorney for which he was fined P2,000.00.
Code. They show a disregard for Section 63 of the
Land Registration Act. They also reflect bad faith, Given the foregoing, the suspension of respondent
dishonesty, and deceit on respondents part. Thus, from the practice of law for two years, as
respondent deserves to be sanctioned. recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, is
proper.
Respondents breach of his oath, violation of the laws,
lack of good faith, and dishonesty are compounded by The Court, however, will not adopt the
his gross disregard of this Courts directives, as well as recommendation of the IBP to order respondent to
the orders of the IBPs Investigating Commissioner return the sum of P15,000.00 he received from
(who was acting as an agent of this Court pursuant to complainant under the "Deed of Sale with Right to
the Courts referral of these cases to the IBP for Repurchase." This is a civil liability best determined
investigation, report and recommendation), which and awarded in a civil case rather than the present
caused delay in the resolution of these administrative administrative cases.
cases.
In Roa v. Moreno,29 the Court pronounced that "[i]n
In particular, the Court required respondent to disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only
comment on complainants Affidavit-Complaint in A.C. issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be
No. 4697 and Supplemental Complaint in A.C. No. allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. Our only
4728 on March 12, 1997 and June 25, 1997, concern is the determination of respondents
respectively.25 While he requested for several administrative liability. Our findings have no material
extensions of time within which to submit his comment, bearing on other judicial action which the parties may
no such comment was submitted prompting the Court choose to file against each other."While the respondent
to require him in a Resolution dated February 4,1998 lawyers wrongful actuations may give rise at the same
to (1) show cause why he should not be disciplinarily time to criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities, each
dealt with or held in contempt for such failure, and (2) must be determined in the appropriate case; and every
submit the consolidated comment.26 Respondent case must be resolved in accordance with the facts
neither showed cause why he should not be and the law applicable and the quantum of proof
disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for such required in each. Section 5,30 in relation to Sections
failure, nor submitted the consolidated comment. 131 and 2,32 Rule 133 of the Rules of Court states that
in administrative cases, such as the ones atbar, only
When these cases were referred to the IBP and during substantial evidence is required, not proof beyond
the proceedings before the IBPs Investigating reasonable doubt as in criminal cases, or
Commissioner, respondent was again required several preponderance of evidence asin civil cases.
times to submit his consolidated answer. He only Substantial evidence is that amount of relevant
complied on August 28, 2003, or more than six years evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as
after this Court originally required him to do so. The adequate to justify a conclusion.33
Investigating Commissioner also directed the parties to
The Court notes that based on the same factual
antecedents as the present administrative cases, 3) Ordering the plaintiff to pay the defendant expenses
complainant instituted a criminal case for estafa of litigation of P50,000.00, plus costs;
against respondent, docketed as Criminal Case No.
3112-A, before the MTC. When a criminal action is 4) Ordering the liquidation of the assets of the conjugal
instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability partnership property[,] particularly the plaintiffs
arising from the offense charged shall be deemed separation/retirement benefits received from the Far
instituted with the criminal action unless the offended East Bank [and] Trust Company[,] by ceding, giving
party waives the civil action, reserves the right to and paying to her fifty percent (50%) of the net amount
institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to of P3,675,335.79 or P1,837,667.89 together with 12%
the criminal action.34 Unless the complainant waived interest per annum from the date of this decision and
the civil action, reserved the right to institute it one-half (1/2) of his outstanding shares of stock with
separately, or instituted the civil action prior to the Manila Memorial Park and Provident Group of
criminal action, then his civil action for the recovery of Companies;
civil liability arising from the estafa committed by
respondent is deemed instituted with Criminal Case 5) Ordering him to give a regular support in favor of his
No. 3112-A. The civil liability that complainant may son Javy Singh Buenaventura in the amount of
recover in Criminal Case No. 3112-A includes P15,000.00 monthly, subject to modification as the
restitution; reparation of the damage caused him; necessity arises;
and/or indemnification for consequential damages,35
which may already cover the P15,000.00 consideration 6) Awarding the care and custody of the minor Javy
complainant had paid for the subject property. Singh Buenaventura to his mother, the herein
defendant; and
WHEREFORE, respondent is hereby found GUILTY of
the following: breach of the Lawyers Oath; unlawful, 7) Hereby authorizing the defendant to revert back to
dishonest, and deceitful conduct; and disrespect for the the use of her maiden family name Singh.
Court and causing undue delay of these cases, for
which he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a Let copies of this decision be furnished the appropriate
period of two (2) years, reckoned from receipt of this civil registry and registries of properties.
Decision, with WARNING that a similar misconduct in
the future shall be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED.[2]

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of Petitioner appealed the above decision to the Court of
the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Appeals. While the case was pending in the appellate
Philippines for their information and guidance. The court, respondent filed a motion to increase the
Court Administrator is directed to circulate this P15,000 monthly support pendente lite of their son
Decision to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED. Javy Singh Buenaventura. Petitioner filed an
opposition thereto, praying that it be denied or that
such incident be set for oral argument.[3]
ARTICLE 21 ACTS CONTRARY TO MORALS
On September 2, 1996, the Court of Appeals issued a
a.) Buenaventura vs CA Resolution increasing the support pendente lite to
P20,000.[4] Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration
These cases involve a petition for the declaration of questioning the said Resolution.[5]
nullity of marriage, which was filed by petitioner Noel
Buenaventura on July 12, 1992, on the ground of the On October 8, 1996, the appellate court promulgated a
alleged psychological incapacity of his wife, Isabel Decision dismissing petitioners appeal for lack of merit
Singh Buenaventura, herein respondent. After and affirming in toto the trial courts decision.[6]
respondent filed her answer, petitioner, with leave of Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was
court, amended his petition by stating that both he and denied. From the abovementioned Decision, petitioner
his wife were psychologically incapacitated to comply filed the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari.
with the essential obligations of marriage. In response,
respondent filed an amended answer denying the On November 13, 1996, through another Resolution,
allegation that she was psychologically the Court of Appeals denied petitioners motion for
incapacitated.[1] reconsideration of the September 2, 1996 Resolution,
which increased the monthly support for the son.[7]
On July 31, 1995, the Regional Trial Court Petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari to question
promulgated a Decision, the dispositive portion of these two Resolutions.
which reads:
On July 9, 1997, the Petition for Review on Certiorari[8]
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as and the Petition for Certiorari[9] were ordered
follows: consolidated by this Court.[10]

1) Declaring and decreeing the marriage entered into In the Petition for Review on Certiorari petitioner claims
between plaintiff Noel A. Buenaventura and defendant that the Court of Appeals decided the case not in
Isabel Lucia Singh Buenaventura on July 4, 1979, null accord with law and jurisprudence, thus:
and void ab initio;
1. WHEN IT AWARDED DEFENDANT-APPELLEE
2) Ordering the plaintiff to pay defendant moral MORAL DAMAGES IN THE AMOUNT OF P2.5
damages in the amount of 2.5 million pesos and MILLION AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES OF P1
exemplary damages of 1 million pesos with 6% interest MILLION, WITH 6% INTEREST FROM THE DATE OF
from the date of this decision plus attorneys fees of ITS DECISION, WITHOUT ANY LEGAL AND MORAL
P100,000.00; BASIS;
professing true love instead of revealing to her that he
2. WHEN IT AWARDED P100,000.00 ATTORNEYS was under heavy parental pressure to marry and that
FEES AND P50,000.00 EXPENSES OF LITIGATION, because of pride he married defendant-appellee; that
PLUS COSTS, TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE, he was not ready to enter into marriage as in fact his
WITHOUT FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS; career was and always would be his first priority; that
he was unable to relate not only to defendant-appellee
3. WHEN IT ORDERED PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT as a husband but also to his son, Javy, as a father; that
NOEL TO PAY DEFENDANT-APPELLEE ONE-HALF he had no inclination to make the marriage work such
OR P1,837,667.89 OUT OF HIS RETIREMENT that in times of trouble, he chose the easiest way out,
BENEFITS RECEIVED FROM THE FAR EAST BANK that of leaving defendantappellee and their son; that he
AND TRUST CO., WITH 12% INTEREST THEREON had no desire to keep defendant-appellee and their
FROM THE DATE OF ITS DECISION, son as proved by his reluctance and later, refusal to
NOTWITHSTANDING THAT SAID RETIREMENT reconcile after their separation; that the
BENEFITS ARE GRATUITOUS AND EXCLUSIVE aforementioned caused defendant-appellee to suffer
PROPERTY OF NOEL, AND ALSO TO DELIVER TO mental anguish, anxiety, besmirched reputation,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE ONE-HALF OF HIS sleepless nights not only in those years the parties
SHARES OF STOCK WITH THE MANILA MEMORIAL were together but also after and throughout their
PARK AND THE PROVIDENT GROUP OF separation.
COMPANIES, ALTHOUGH SAID SHARES OF
STOCK WERE ACQUIRED BY NOEL BEFORE HIS Plaintiff-appellant assails the trial courts decision on
MARRIAGE TO RESPONDENT ISABEL AND ARE, the ground that unlike those arising from a breach in
THEREFORE, AGAIN HIS EXCLUSIVE ordinary contracts, damages arising as a consequence
PROPERTIES; AND of marriage may not be awarded. While it is correct
that there is, as yet, no decided case by the Supreme
4. WHEN IT AWARDED EXCLUSIVE CARE AND Court where damages by reason of the performance or
CUSTODY OVER THE PARTIES MINOR CHILD TO non-performance of marital obligations were awarded,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE WITHOUT ASKING THE it does not follow that no such award for damages may
CHILD (WHO WAS ALREADY 13 YEARS OLD AT be made.
THAT TIME) HIS CHOICE AS TO WHOM, BETWEEN
HIS TWO PARENTS, HE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE Defendant-appellee, in her amended answer,
CUSTODY OVER HIS PERSON.[11] specifically prayed for moral and exemplary damages
in the total amount of 7 million pesos. The lower court,
In the Petition for Certiorari, petitioner advances the in the exercise of its discretion, found full justification of
following contentions: awarding at least half of what was originally prayed for.
We find no reason to disturb the ruling of the trial
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS court.[16]
DISCRETION WHEN IT REFUSED TO SET
RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR INCREASED The award by the trial court of moral damages is based
SUPPORT FOR THE PARTIES SON FOR on Articles 2217 and 21 of the Civil Code, which read
HEARING.[12] as follows:

THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THE COURT OF ART. 2217. Moral damages include physical suffering,
APPEALS TO INCREASE JAVYS MONTHLY mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched
SUPPORT OF P15,000.00 BEING GIVEN BY reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social
PETITIONER EVEN AT PRESENT PRICES.[13] humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of
pecuniary computation, moral damages may be
IN RESOLVING RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR THE recovered if they are the proximate result of the
INCREASE OF JAVYS SUPPORT, THE COURT OF defendants wrongful act or omission.
APPEALS SHOULD HAVE EXAMINED THE LIST OF
EXPENSES SUBMITTED BY RESPONDENT IN THE ART. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury
LIGHT OF PETITIONERS OBJECTIONS THERETO, to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good
INSTEAD OF MERELY ASSUMING THAT JAVY IS customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for
ENTITLED TO A P5,000 INCREASE IN SUPPORT AS the damage.
SAID AMOUNT IS TOO MINIMAL.[14]
The trial court referred to Article 21 because Article
LIKEWISE, THE COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD 2219[17] of the Civil Code enumerates the cases in
HAVE GIVEN PETITIONER AN OPPORTUNITY TO which moral damages may be recovered and it
PROVE HIS PRESENT INCOME TO SHOW THAT HE mentions Article 21 as one of the instances. It must be
CANNOT AFFORD TO INCREASE JAVYS noted that Article 21 states that the individual must
SUPPORT.[15] willfully cause loss or injury to another. There is a need
that the act is willful and hence done in complete
With regard to the first issue in the main case, the freedom. In granting moral damages, therefore, the
Court of Appeals articulated: trial court and the Court of Appeals could not but have
assumed that the acts on which the moral damages
On Assignment of Error C, the trial court, after findings were based were done willfully and freely, otherwise
of fact ascertained from the testimonies not only of the the grant of moral damages would have no leg to stand
parties particularly the defendant-appellee but likewise, on.
those of the two psychologists, awarded damages on
the basis of Articles 21, 2217 and 2229 of the Civil On the other hand, the trial court declared the marriage
Code of the Philippines. of the parties null and void based on Article 36 of the
Family Code, due to psychological incapacity of the
Thus, the lower court found that plaintiff-appellant petitioner, Noel Buenaventura. Article 36 of the Family
deceived the defendant-appellee into marrying him by Code states:
The Court of Appeals reasoned as follows:
A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of
the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to On Assignment of Error D, as the award of moral and
comply with the essential marital obligations of exemplary damages is fully justified, the award of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity attorneys fees and costs of litigation by the trial court is
becomes manifest only after its solemnization. likewise fully justified.[21]

Psychological incapacity has been defined, thus: The acts or omissions of petitioner which led the lower
court to deduce his psychological incapacity, and his
. . . no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that act in filing the complaint for the annulment of his
causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marriage cannot be considered as unduly compelling
marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed the private respondent to litigate, since both are
and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, grounded on petitioners psychological incapacity,
as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, which as explained above is a mental incapacity
include their mutual obligations to live together, causing an utter inability to comply with the obligations
observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and of marriage. Hence, neither can be a ground for
support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment attorneys fees and litigation expenses. Furthermore,
of the law has been to confine the meaning of since the award of moral and exemplary damages is
"psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of no longer justified, the award of attorneys fees and
personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter expenses of litigation is left without basis.
insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
significance to the marriage. . . .[18] Anent the retirement benefits received from the Far
East Bank and Trust Co. and the shares of stock in the
The Court of Appeals and the trial court considered the Manila Memorial Park and the Provident Group of
acts of the petitioner after the marriage as proof of his Companies, the trial court said:
psychological incapacity, and therefore a product of his
incapacity or inability to comply with the essential The third issue that must be resolved by the Court is
obligations of marriage. Nevertheless, said courts what to do with the assets of the conjugal partnership
considered these acts as willful and hence as grounds in the event of declaration of annulment of the
for granting moral damages. It is contradictory to marriage. The Honorable Supreme Court has held that
characterize acts as a product of psychological the declaration of nullity of marriage carries ipso facto
incapacity, and hence beyond the control of the party a judgment for the liquidation of property (Domingo v.
because of an innate inability, while at the same time Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 104818, Sept. 17,
considering the same set of acts as willful. By declaring 1993, 226 SCRA, pp. 572 573, 586). Thus, speaking
the petitioner as psychologically incapacitated, the through Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero, it was ruled in
possibility of awarding moral damages on the same set this case:
of facts was negated. The award of moral damages
should be predicated, not on the mere act of entering When a marriage is declared void ab initio, the law
into the marriage, but on specific evidence that it was states that the final judgment therein shall provide for
done deliberately and with malice by a party who had the liquidation, partition and distribution of the
knowledge of his or her disability and yet willfully properties of the spouses, the custody and support of
concealed the same. No such evidence appears to the common children and the delivery of their
have been adduced in this case. presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had been
adjudicated in the previous proceedings.
For the same reason, since psychological incapacity
means that one is truly incognitive of the basic marital The parties here were legally married on July 4, 1979,
covenants that one must assume and discharge as a and therefore, all property acquired during the
consequence of marriage, it removes the basis for the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to have
contention that the petitioner purposely deceived the been made, contracted or registered in the name of
private respondent. If the private respondent was one or both spouses, is presumed to be conjugal
deceived, it was not due to a willful act on the part of unless the contrary is proved (Art. 116, New Family
the petitioner. Therefore, the award of moral damages Code; Art. 160, Civil Code). Art. 117 of the Family
was without basis in law and in fact. Code enumerates what are conjugal partnership
properties. Among others they are the following:
Since the grant of moral damages was not proper, it
follows that the grant of exemplary damages cannot 1) Those acquired by onerous title during the marriage
stand since the Civil Code provides that exemplary at the expense of the common fund, whether the
damages are imposed in addition to moral, temperate, acquisition be for the partnership, or for only one of the
liquidated or compensatory damages.[19] spouses;

With respect to the grant of attorneys fees and 2) Those obtained from the labor, industry, work or
expenses of litigation the trial court explained, thus: profession of either or both of the spouses;

Regarding Attorneys fees, Art. 2208 of the Civil Code 3) The fruits, natural, industrial, or civil, due or received
authorizes an award of attorneys fees and expenses of during the marriage from the common property, as well
litigation, other than judicial costs, when as in this case as the net fruits from the exclusive property of each
the plaintiffs act or omission has compelled the spouse. . . .
defendant to litigate and to incur expenses of litigation
to protect her interest (par. 2), and where the Court Applying the foregoing legal provisions, and without
deems it just and equitable that attorneys fees and prejudice to requiring an inventory of what are the
expenses of litigation should be recovered. (par. parties conjugal properties and what are the exclusive
11)[20] properties of each spouse, it was disclosed during the
proceedings in this case that the plaintiff who worked
first as Branch Manager and later as Vice-President of
Far East Bank & Trust Co. received Finding that defendant-appellee is entitled to at least
separation/retirement package from the said bank in half of the separation/retirement benefits which
the amount of P3,701,500.00 which after certain plaintiff-appellant received from Far East Bank & Trust
deductions amounting to P26,164.21 gave him a net Company upon his retirement as Vice-President of said
amount of P3,675,335.79 and actually paid to him on company for the reason that the benefits accrued from
January 9, 1995 (Exhs. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Not having plaintiffappellants service for the bank for a number of
shown debts or obligations other than those deducted years, most of which while he was married to
from the said retirement/separation pay, under Art. 129 defendant-appellee, the trial court adjudicated the
of the Family Code The net remainder of the conjugal same. The same is true with the outstanding shares of
partnership properties shall constitute the profits, which plaintiff-appellant in Manila Memorial Park and
shall be divided equally between husband and wife, Provident Group of Companies. As these were
unless a different proportion or division was agreed acquired by the plaintiff-appellant at the time he was
upon in the marriage settlement or unless there has married to defendant-appellee, the latter is entitled to
been a voluntary waiver or forfeiture of such share as one-half thereof as her share in the conjugal
provided in this Code. In this particular case, however, partnership. We find no reason to disturb the ruling of
there had been no marriage settlement between the the trial court.[23]
parties, nor had there been any voluntary waiver or
valid forfeiture of the defendant wifes share in the Since the present case does not involve the annulment
conjugal partnership properties. The previous cession of a bigamous marriage, the provisions of Article 50 in
and transfer by the plaintiff of his one-half (1/2) share relation to Articles 41, 42 and 43 of the Family Code,
in their residential house and lot covered by T.C.T. No. providing for the dissolution of the absolute community
S-35680 of the Registry of Deeds of Paraaque, Metro or conjugal partnership of gains, as the case may be,
Manila, in favor of the defendant as stipulated in their do not apply. Rather, the general rule applies, which is
Compromise Agreement dated July 12, 1993, and that in case a marriage is declared void ab initio, the
approved by the Court in its Partial Decision dated property regime applicable and to be liquidated,
August 6, 1993, was actually intended to be in full partitioned and distributed is that of equal co-
settlement of any and all demands for past support. In ownership.
reality, the defendant wife had allowed some
concession in favor of the plaintiff husband, for were In Valdes v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102, Quezon
the law strictly to be followed, in the process of City,[24] this Court expounded on the consequences of
liquidation of the conjugal assets, the conjugal dwelling a void marriage on the property relations of the
and the lot on which it is situated shall, unless spouses and specified the applicable provisions of law:
otherwise agreed upon by the parties, be adjudicated
to the spouse with whom their only child has chosen to The trial court correctly applied the law. In a void
remain (Art. 129, par. 9). Here, what was done was marriage, regardless of the cause thereof, the property
one-half (1/2) portion of the house was ceded to relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation
defendant so that she will not claim anymore for past is governed by the provisions of Article 147 or Article
unpaid support, while the other half was transferred to 148, such as the case may be, of the Family Code.
their only child as his presumptive legitime. Article 147 is a remake of Article 144 of the Civil Code
as interpreted and so applied in previous cases; it
Consequently, nothing yet has been given to the provides:
defendant wife by way of her share in the conjugal
properties, and it is but just, lawful and fair, that she be ART. 147. When a man and a woman who are
given one-half (1/2) share of the separation/retirement capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with
benefits received by the plaintiff the same being part of each other as husband and wife without the benefit of
their conjugal partnership properties having been marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and
obtained or derived from the labor, industry, work or salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and
profession of said defendant husband in accordance the property acquired by both of them through their
with Art. 117, par. 2 of the Family Code. For the same work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-
reason, she is entitled to one-half (1/2) of the ownership.
outstanding shares of stock of the plaintiff husband
with the Manila Memorial Park and the Provident In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties
Group of Companies.[22] acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to
have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or
The Court of Appeals articulated on this matter as industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares.
follows: For purposes of this Article, a party who did not
participate in the acquisition by the other party of any
On Assignment of Error E, plaintiff-appellant assails property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in
the order of the trial court for him to give one-half of his the acquisition thereof if the former's efforts consisted
separation/retirement benefits from Far East Bank & in the care and maintenance of the family and of the
Trust Company and half of his outstanding shares in household.
Manila Memorial Park and Provident Group of
Companies to the defendant-appellee as the latters Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter
share in the conjugal partnership. vivos of his or her share in the property acquired during
cohabitation and owned in common, without the
On August 6, 1993, the trial court rendered a Partial consent of the other, until after the termination of their
Decision approving the Compromise Agreement cohabitation.
entered into by the parties. In the same Compromise
Agreement, the parties had agreed that henceforth, When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in
their conjugal partnership is dissolved. Thereafter, no good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the co-
steps were taken for the liquidation of the conjugal ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common
partnership. children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of
the common children or their descendants, each exceptionally, to void marriages under Article 40 of the
vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving Code, i.e., the declaration of nullity of a subsequent
descendants. In the absence of descendants, such marriage contracted by a spouse of a prior void
share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, marriage before the latter is judicially declared void.
the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the The latter is a special rule that somehow recognizes
cohabitation. the philosophy and an old doctrine that void marriages
are inexistent from the very beginning and no judicial
This peculiar kind of co-ownership applies when a man decree is necessary to establish their nullity. In now
and a woman, suffering no legal impediment to marry requiring for purposes of remarriage, the declaration of
each other, so exclusively live together as husband nullity by final judgment of the previously contracted
and wife under a void marriage or without the benefit of void marriage, the present law aims to do away with
marriage. The term "capacitated" in the provision (in any continuing uncertainty on the status of the second
the first paragraph of the law) refers to the legal marriage. It is not then illogical for the provisions of
capacity of a party to contract marriage, i.e., any "male Article 43, in relation to Articles 41 and 42, of the
or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not Family Code, on the effects of the termination of a
under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 subsequent marriage contracted during the
and 38" of the Code. subsistence of a previous marriage to be made
applicable pro hac vice. In all other cases, it is not to
Under this property regime, property acquired by both be assumed that the law has also meant to have
spouses through their work and industry shall be coincident property relations, on the one hand,
governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. Any between spouses in valid and voidable marriages
property acquired during the union is prima facie (before annulment) and, on the other, between
presumed to have been obtained through their joint common-law spouses or spouses of void marriages,
efforts. A party who did not participate in the leaving to ordain, in the latter case, the ordinary rules
acquisition of the property shall still be considered as on co-ownership subject to the provision of Article 147
having contributed thereto jointly if said party's "efforts and Article 148 of the Family Code. It must be
consisted in the care and maintenance of the family stressed, nevertheless, even as it may merely state the
household." Unlike the conjugal partnership of gains, obvious, that the provisions of the Family Code on the
the fruits of the couple's separate property are not "family home," i.e., the provisions found in Title V,
included in the co-ownership. Chapter 2, of the Family Code, remain in force and
effect regardless of the property regime of the
Article 147 of the Family Code, in substance and to the spouses.[25]
above extent, has clarified Article 144 of the Civil
Code; in addition, the law now expressly provides that Since the properties ordered to be distributed by the
court a quo were found, both by the trial court and the
(a) Neither party can dispose or encumber by act[s] Court of Appeals, to have been acquired during the
inter vivos [of] his or her share in co-ownership union of the parties, the same would be covered by the
property, without the consent of the other, during the co-ownership. No fruits of a separate property of one of
period of cohabitation; and the parties appear to have been included or involved in
said distribution. The liquidation, partition and
(b) In the case of a void marriage, any party in bad distribution of the properties owned in common by the
faith shall forfeit his or her share in the co-ownership in parties herein as ordered by the court a quo should,
favor of their common children; in default thereof or therefore, be sustained, but on the basis of co-
waiver by any or all of the common children, each ownership and not of the regime of conjugal
vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving partnership of gains.
descendants, or still in default thereof, to the innocent
party. The forfeiture shall take place upon the As to the issue on custody of the parties over their only
termination of the cohabitation or declaration of nullity child, Javy Singh Buenaventura, it is now moot since
of the marriage. he is about to turn twenty-five years of age on May 27,
2005[26] and has, therefore, attained the age of
In deciding to take further cognizance of the issue on majority.
the settlement of the parties' common property, the trial
court acted neither imprudently nor precipitately; a With regard to the issues on support raised in the
court which had jurisdiction to declare the marriage a Petition for Certiorari, these would also now be moot,
nullity must be deemed likewise clothed with authority owing to the fact that the son, Javy Singh
to resolve incidental and consequential matters. Nor Buenaventura, as previously stated, has attained the
did it commit a reversible error in ruling that petitioner age of majority.
and private respondent own the "family home" and all
their common property in equal shares, as well as in WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals
concluding that, in the liquidation and partition of the dated October 8, 1996 and its Resolution dated
property owned in common by them, the provisions on December 10, 1996 which are contested in the Petition
co-ownership under the Civil Code, not Articles 50, 51 for Review (G.R. No. 127449), are hereby MODIFIED,
and 52, in relation to Articles 102 and 129, of the in that the award of moral and exemplary damages,
Family Code, should aptly prevail. The rules set up to attorneys fees, expenses of litigation and costs are
govern the liquidation of either the absolute community deleted. The order giving respondent one-half of the
or the conjugal partnership of gains, the property retirement benefits of petitioner from Far East Bank
regimes recognized for valid and voidable marriages and Trust Co. and one-half of petitioners shares of
(in the latter case until the contract is annulled), are stock in Manila Memorial Park and in the Provident
irrelevant to the liquidation of the co-ownership that Group of Companies is sustained but on the basis of
exists between common-law spouses. The first the liquidation, partition and distribution of the co-
paragraph of Article 50 of the Family Code, applying ownership and not of the regime of conjugal
paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of Article 43, relates partnership of gains. The rest of said Decision and
only, by its explicit terms, to voidable marriages and, Resolution are AFFIRMED.
Secretary of the Department of Environment and
The Petition for Review on Certiorari (G.R. No. Natural Resources (DENR) prompting them to file a
127358) contesting the Court of Appeals Resolutions case for the declaration of nullity of the deeds of
of September 2, 1996 and November 13, 1996 which conditional and absolute sale of the questioned
increased the support pendente lite in favor of the properties and the grant of right of way with the RTC,
parties son, Javy Singh Buenaventura, is now MOOT Las Pias, Branch 253.
and ACADEMIC and is, accordingly, DISMISSED. No
costs. SO ORDERED. On the other hand, petitioner claims that sometime in
1995, the representative of Hadji Ngilay approached
ARTICLE 22 UNJUST ENRICHMENT petitioner to propose the sale of a portion of his
properties. Thereafter, representatives of petitioner
a.) FILINVEST vs Ngilay flew to General Santos City from Manila to conduct an
ocular inspection of the subject properties. Petitioner
For this Court's consideration is the Petition for Review was willing to purchase the properties but seeing that
on Certiorari under Rule 45, dated November 9, 2006, some of the properties were registered as land grants
of petitioner Filinvest Land, Inc., which seeks to set through homestead patents, representatives of
aside the Decision1 dated March 30, 2006 and petitioner informed Ngilay that they would return to
Resolution2 dated September 18, 2006 of the Court of General Santos City in a few months to finalize the
Appeals (CA) partially reversing the Decision3 dated sale as ten (10) certificates of title were issued on
October 1, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court, Las Pias, November 24, 1991.
Branch 253 (RTC).
According to petitioner, Ngilay and his children
The factual antecedents, as found in the records prevailed upon the representatives of petitioner to
follow. make an advance payment. To accommodate the
Ngilays, petitioner acceded to making an advance with
Respondents were grantees of agricultural public lands the understanding that petitioner could demand
located in Tambler, General Santos City through anytime the return of the advance payment should
Homestead and Fee patents sometime in 1986 and Ngilay not be able to comply with the conditions of the
1991 which are covered by and specifically described sale. The Ngilays likewise undertook to secure the
in the following Original Certificates of Title issued by necessary approvals of the DENR before the
the Register of Deeds of General Santos City: consummation of the sale.

The RTC ruled in favor of Filinvest Land, Inc. and


upheld the sale of all the properties in litigation. It found
that the sale of those properties whose original
certificates of title were issued by virtue of the 1986
Patents was valid, considering that the prohibitory
period ended in 1991, or way before the transaction
took place. As to those patents awarded in 1991, the
same court opined that since those properties were the
subject of a deed of conditional sale, compliance with
those conditions is necessary for there to be a
perfected contract between the parties. The RTC also
upheld the grant of right of way as it adjudged that the
right of way agreement showed that the right of way
was granted to provide access from the highway to the
properties to be purchased. The dispositive portion of
the Decision dated October 1, 2003 reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court


upholds the sale of all the properties in litigation. It
likewise upholds the grant of right of way in favor of the
respondent. Consequently, the petition is DISMISSED.

No pronouncement as to damages for failure to prove


the same.
Negotiations were made by petitioner, represented by
Lina de Guzman-Ferrer with the patriarch of the Costs against the petitioners.
Ngilays, Hadji Gulam Ngilay sometime in 1995.
Eventually, a Deed of Conditional Sale of the above- SO ORDERED.4
enumerated properties in favor of petitioner Filinvest
Land, Inc. was executed. Upon its execution, Respondents elevated the case to the CA in which the
respondents were asked to deliver to petitioner the latter modified the judgment of the RTC.1wphi1 While
original owner's duplicate copy of the certificates of title the CA upheld the validity of the sale of the properties
of their respective properties. Respondents received the patents of which were awarded in 1986, including
the downpayment for the properties on October 28, the corresponding grant of right of way for the same
1995. lots, it nullified the disposition of those properties
granted through patents in 1991 and the right of way
A few days after the execution of the aforestated deeds on the same properties. As to the "1991 Patents," the
and the delivery of the corresponding documents to CA ruled that the contract of sale between the parties
petitioner, respondents came to know that the sale of was a perfected contract, hence, the parties entered
their properties was null and void, because it was done into a prohibited conveyance of a homestead within the
within the period that they were not allowed to do so prohibitive period of five years from the issuance of the
and that the sale did not have the approval of the
patent. The CA Decision dated March 30, 2006 certificates of title covering the ten parcels of land are
disposed the case as follows: all dated 1998, which confirms its declaration that the
lands covered by 1991 Homestead Patents were not
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated October 1, conveyed to Filinvest until after the five-year prohibitory
2003 is MODIFIED: period.

a) The Deed of Conditional Sale and Deed of Absolute The petition is unmeritorious.
Sale for the properties covered by the "1991 Patents",
as well as the Right of Way Agreement thereto, are The five-year prohibitory period following the issuance
declared null and void. The Register of Deeds of of the homestead patent is provided under Section 118
General Santos City is consequently directed to cancel of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended by
the certificates of title covered by the "1991 Patents" Commonwealth Act No. 456, otherwise known as the
issued in favor of appellee Filinvest and to issue new Public Land Act.10 It bears stressing that the law was
titles in favor of herein appellants. enacted to give the homesteader or patentee every
chance to preserve for himself and his family the land
b) The sale of the properties covered by the "1986 that the State had gratuitously given to him as a reward
Patents", including the corresponding grant of way for for his labour in cleaning and cultivating it.11 Its basic
said lots, are declared valid. objective, as the Court had occasion to stress, is to
promote public policy that is to provide home and
SO ORDERED.5 decent living for destitute, aimed at providing a class of
independent small landholders which is the bulwark of
Petitioners filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, peace and order.12 Hence, any act which would have
but it was denied by the CA. the effect of removing the property subject of the
patent from the hands of a grantee will be struck down
Hence, the present petition. for being violative of the law.13

The grounds relied upon are: In the present case, the negotiations for the purchase
of the properties covered by the patents issued in 1991
1. A CONDITIONAL SALE INVOLVING THE 1991 were made in 1995 and, eventually, an undated Deed
PATENTS DID NOT VIOLATE THE PROHIBITION of Conditional Sale was executed. On October 28,
AGAINST ALIENATION OF HOMESTEADS UNDER 1995, respondents received the downpayment of
THE PUBLIC LAND ACT SINCE NO ACTUAL P14,000.000.00 for the properties covered by the
TRANSFER OR DISPOSITION WAS PERFECTED patents issued in 1991. Applying the five-year
UNTIL ALL THE CONDITIONS OF THE DEED ARE prohibition, the properties covered by the patent issued
FULFILLED. on November 24, 1991 could only be alienated after
November 24, 1996. Therefore, the sale, having been
2. REGISTRATION IS THE OPERATIVE ACT THAT consummated on October 28, 1995, or within the five-
CONVEYS OR DISPOSES RIGHTS IN REAL year prohibition, is as ruled by the CA, void.
PROPERTY. BEING UNREGISTERED, THE DEED
OF CONDITIONAL SALE DID NOT CONVEY OR Petitioner argues that the correct formulation of the
DISPOSE OF THE 1991 HOMESTEADS OR ANY issue is not whether there was a perfected contract
RIGHTS THEREIN IN VIOLATION OF THE PUBLIC between the parties during the period of prohibition, but
LAND ACT. whether by such deed of conditional sale there was
"alienation or encumbrance" within the contemplation
3.ASSUMING THE NULLITY OF THE SALE OF THE of the law. This is wrong. The prohibition does not
1991 PATENTS, THE HONORABLE COURT OF distinguish between consummated and executory sale.
APPEALS SHOULD HAVE ORDERED The conditional sale entered into by the parties is still a
RESPONDENTS AS A MATTER OF LAW TO conveyance of the homestead patent. As correctly
RETURN TO PETITIONERS WHAT THEY HAVE ruled by the CA, citing Ortega v. Tan:14
RECEIVED.6
And, even assuming that the disputed sale was not yet
In their Comment7 dated March 5, 2007, respondents perfected or consummated, still, the transaction cannot
stated the following counter-arguments: be validated. The prohibition of the law on the sale or
encumbrance of the homestead within five years after
(1) The Honorable Court of Appeals did not err in the grant is MANDATORY. The purpose of the law is to
holding that the Deed of Conditional Sale and Deed of promote a definite policy, i.e., "to preserve and keep in
Absolute Sale for the properties covered by the 1991 the family of the homesteader that portion of the public
Patents, as well as the Right of Way Agreement land which the State has gratuitously given to him."
thereto is null and void for the simplest reason that the Thus, the law does not distinguish between executory
said transactions were volatile of the Public Land Act. and consummated sales. Where the sale of a
homestead was perfected within the prohibitory period
(2) The questions raised by the Petitioner, Filinvest of five years, the fact that the formal deed of sale was
Land Inc. (FLI) are unsubstantial to require executed after the expiration of the staid period DID
consideration.8 NOT and COULD NOT legalize a contract that was
void from its inception. To hold valid such arrangement
In its Reply9 dated July 30, 2007, petitioner insists that would be to throw the door open to all possible
the prohibition against alienation and disposition of fraudulent subterfuges and schemes which persons
land covered by Homestead Patents is a prohibition interested in the land given to a homesteader may
against the actual loss of the homestead within the devise in circumventing and defeating the legal
five-year prohibitory period, not against all contracts provisions prohibiting their alienation within five years
including those that do not result in such an actual loss from the issuance of the patent.15
of ownership or possession. It also points out that
respondents themselves admit that the transfer
To repeat, the conveyance of a homestead before the the contractor, was assigning to Tarnate an amount
expiration of the five-year prohibitory period following equivalent to 10% of the total collection from the
the issuance of the homestead patent is null and void DPWH for the project. This 10% retention fee
and cannot be enforced, for it is not within the (equivalent to P233,526.13) was the rent for Tarnates
competence of any citizen to barter away what public equipment that had been utilized in the project. In the
policy by law seeks to preserve.16 deed of assignment, Gonzalo further authorized
Tarnate to use the official receipt of Gonzalo
Nevertheless, petitioner does not err in seeking the Construction in the processing of the documents
return of the down payment as a consequence of the relative to the collection of the 10% retention fee and in
sale having been declared void. The rule is settled that encashing the check to be issued by the DPWH for
the declaration of nullity of a contract which is void ab that purpose.3 The deed of assignment was submitted
initio operates to restore things to the state and to the DPWH on April 15, 1999. During the processing
condition in which they were found before the of the documents for the retention fee, however,
execution thereof.17 Petitioner is correct in its Tarnate learned that Gonzalo had unilaterally
argument that allowing respondents to keep the rescinded the deed of assignment by means of an
amount received from petitioner is tantamount to affidavit of cancellation of deed of assignment dated
judicial acquiescence to unjust enrichment. Unjust April 19, 1999 filed in the DPWH on April 22, 1999;4
enrichment exists "when a person unjustly retains a and that the disbursement voucher for the 10%
benefit to the loss of another, or when a person retains retention fee had then been issued in the name of
money or property of another against the fundamental Gonzalo, and the retention fee released to him.5
principles of justice, equity and good conscience."18
There is unjust enrichment under Article 22 of the Civil Tarnate demanded the payment of the retention fee
Code when (1) a person is unjustly benefited, and (2) from Gonzalo, but to no avail. Thus, he brought this
such benefit is derived at the expense of or with suit against Gonzalo on September 13, 1999 in the
damages to another.19 Thus, the sale which created Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mountain Province to
the obligation of petitioner to pay the agreed amount recover the retention fee of P233,526.13, moral and
having been declared void, respondents have the duty exemplary damages for breach of contract, and
to return the down payment as they no longer have the attorneys fees.6
right to keep it. The principle of unjust enrichment
essentially contemplates payment when there is no In his answer, Gonzalo admitted the deed of
duty to pay, and the person who receives the payment assignment and the authority given therein to Tarnate,
has no right to receive it.20 As found by the CA and but averred that the project had not been fully
undisputed by the parties, the amount or the down implemented because of its cancellation by the DPWH,
payment made is P14,000,000.00 which shall also be and that he had then revoked the deed of assignment.
the amount to be returned by respondents. He insisted that the assignment could not stand
independently due to its being a mere product of the
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari subcontract that had been based on his contract with
dated November 9, 2006 or petitioner Filinvest Land, the DPWH; and that Tarnate, having been fully aware
Inc. is hereby DENIED. Consequently, the Decision of the illegality and ineffectuality of the deed of
dated March 30, 2006 and Resolution dated assignment from the time of its execution, could not go
September 18, 2006 or the Court of Appeals are to court with unclean hands to invoke any right based
hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that on the invalid deed of assignment or on the product of
respondents return the amount of P14,000,000.00 such deed of assignment.7
given by petitioner as down payment for the sale which
is ruled to be void ab initio. SO ORDERED. Ruling of the RTC

On January 26, 2001, the RTC, opining that the deed


b.) Gonzalo vs Tarnate, Jr. of assignment was a valid and binding contract, and
that Gonzalo must comply with his obligations under
The doctrine of in pari delicto which stipulates that the the deed of assignment, rendered judgment in favor of
guilty parties to an illegal contract are not entitled to Tarnate as follows:
any relief, cannot prevent a recovery if doing so
violates the public policy against unjust enrichment. WHEREFORE, premises considered and as prayed for
by the plaintiff, John Tarnate, Jr. in his Complaint for
Antecedents Sum of Money, Breach of Contract With Damages is
hereby RENDERED in his favor and against the
After the Department of Public Works and Highways above-named defendant Domingo Gonzalo, the Court
(DPWH) had awarded on July 22, 1997 the contract for now hereby orders as follows:
the improvement of the Sadsadan-Maba-ay Section of
the Mountain Province-Benguet Road in the total 1. Defendant Domingo Gonzalo to pay the Plaintiff,
amount of 7 014 963 33 to his company, Gonzalo John Tarnate, Jr., the amount of TWO HUNDRED
Construction,1 petitioner Domingo Gonzalo (Gonzalo) THIRTY THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED
subcontracted to respondent John Tarnate, Jr. TWENTY SIX and 13/100 PESOS (P233,526.13)
(Tarnate) on October 15, 1997, the supply of materials representing the rental of equipment;
and labor for the project under the latter s business
known as JNT Aggregates. Their agreement stipulated, 2. Defendant to pay Plaintiff the sum of THIRTY
among others, that Tarnate would pay to Gonzalo eight THOUSAND (P30,000.00) PESOS by way of
percent and four percent of the contract price, reasonable Attorneys Fees for having
respectively, upon Tarnate s first and second billing in forced/compelled the plaintiff to litigate and engage the
the project.2 services of a lawyer in order to protect his interest and
to enforce his right. The claim of the plaintiff for
In furtherance of their agreement, Gonzalo executed attorneys fees in the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND
on April 6, 1999 a deed of assignment whereby he, as PESOS (P50,000.00) plus THREE THOUSAND
PESOS (P3,000.00) clearly appears to be We deny the petition for review, but we delete the grant
unconscionable and therefore reduced to Thirty of moral damages, attorneys fees and litigation
Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) as aforestated making expenses.
the same to be reasonable;
There is no question that every contractor is prohibited
3. Defendant to pay Plaintiff the sum of FIFTEEN from subcontracting with or assigning to another
THOUSAND PESOS (P15,000.00) by way of litigation person any contract or project that he has with the
expenses; DPWH unless the DPWH Secretary has approved the
subcontracting or assignment. This is pursuant to
4. Defendant to pay Plaintiff the sum of TWENTY Section 6 of Presidential Decree No. 1594, which
THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00) for moral damages provides:
and for the breach of contract; and
Section 6. Assignment and Subcontract. The
5. To pay the cost of this suit. contractor shall not assign, transfer, pledge,
subcontract or make any other disposition of the
Award of exemplary damages in the instant case is not contract or any part or interest therein except with the
warranted for there is no showing that the defendant approval of the Minister of Public Works,
acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or Transportation and Communications, the Minister of
malevolent manner analogous to the case of Xentrex Public Highways, or the Minister of Energy, as the case
Automotive, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 291 SCRA 66.8 may be. Approval of the subcontract shall not relieve
the main contractor from any liability or obligation
Gonzalo appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA). under his contract with the Government nor shall it
create any contractual relation between the
Decision of the CA subcontractor and the Government.

On February 18, 2003, the CA affirmed the RTC.9 Gonzalo, who was the sole contractor of the project in
question, subcontracted the implementation of the
Although holding that the subcontract was an illegal project to Tarnate in violation of the statutory
agreement due to its object being specifically prohibition. Their subcontract was illegal, therefore,
prohibited by Section 6 of Presidential Decree No. because it did not bear the approval of the DPWH
1594; that Gonzalo and Tarnate were guilty of entering Secretary. Necessarily, the deed of assignment was
into the illegal contract in violation of Section 6 of also illegal, because it sprung from the subcontract. As
Presidential Decree No. 1594; and that the deed of aptly observed by the CA:
assignment, being a product of and dependent on the
subcontract, was also illegal and unenforceable, the x x x. The intention of the parties in executing the Deed
CA did not apply the doctrine of in pari delicto, of Assignment was merely to cover up the illegality of
explaining that the doctrine applied only if the fault of the sub-contract agreement. They knew for a fact that
one party was more or less equivalent to the fault of the DPWH will not allow plaintiff-appellee to claim in
the other party. It found Gonzalo to be more guilty than his own name under the Sub-Contract Agreement.
Tarnate, whose guilt had been limited to the execution
of the two illegal contracts while Gonzalo had gone to Obviously, without the Sub-Contract Agreement there
the extent of violating the deed of assignment. It will be no Deed of Assignment to speak of. The
declared that the crediting of the 10% retention fee illegality of the Sub-Contract Agreement necessarily
equivalent to P233,256.13 to his account had unjustly affects the Deed of Assignment because the rule is
enriched Gonzalo; and ruled, accordingly, that Gonzalo that an illegal agreement cannot give birth to a valid
should reimburse Tarnate in that amount because the contract. To rule otherwise is to sanction the act of
latters equipment had been utilized in the project. entering into transaction the object of which is
expressly prohibited by law and thereafter execute an
Upon denial of his motion for reconsideration,10 apparently valid contract to subterfuge the illegality.
Gonzalo has now come to the Court to seek the review The legal proscription in such an instance will be easily
and reversal of the decision of the CA. rendered nugatory and meaningless to the prejudice of
the general public.12
Issues
Under Article 1409 (1) of the Civil Code, a contract
Gonzalo contends that the CA erred in affirming the whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law is a
RTC because: (1) both parties were in pari delicto; (2) void or inexistent contract. As such, a void contract
the deed of assignment was void; and (3) there was no cannot produce a valid one.13 To the same effect is
compliance with the arbitration clause in the Article 1422 of the Civil Code, which declares that "a
subcontract. contract, which is the direct result of a previous illegal
contract, is also void and inexistent."
Gonzalo submits in support of his contentions that the
subcontract and the deed of assignment, being We do not concur with the CAs finding that the guilt of
specifically prohibited by law, had no force and effect; Tarnate for violation of Section 6 of Presidential
that upon finding both him and Tarnate guilty of Decree No. 1594 was lesser than that of Gonzalo, for,
violating the law for executing the subcontract, the as the CA itself observed, Tarnate had voluntarily
RTC and the CA should have applied the rule of in pari entered into the agreements with Gonzalo.14 Tarnate
delicto, to the effect that the law should not aid either also admitted that he did not participate in the bidding
party to enforce the illegal contract but should leave for the project because he knew that he was not
them where it found them; and that it was erroneous to authorized to contract with the DPWH.15 Given that
accord to the parties relief from their predicament.11 Tarnate was a businessman who had represented
himself in the subcontract as "being financially and
Ruling organizationally sound and established, with the
necessary personnel and equipment for the
performance of the project,"16 he justifiably presumed had a debt of P200,000.00 to Congressman Victor
to be aware of the illegality of his agreements with Dominguez; that his payment of the 10% retention fee
Gonzalo. For these reasons, Tarnate was not less to Tarnate was conditioned on Tarnate paying that
guilty than Gonzalo. debt to Congressman Dominguez; and that he refused
to give the 10% retention fee to Tarnate because
According to Article 1412 (1) of the Civil Code, the Tarnate did not pay to Congressman Dominguez.23
guilty parties to an illegal contract cannot recover from His justification was unpersuasive, however, because,
one another and are not entitled to an affirmative relief firstly, Gonzalo presented no proof of the debt to
because they are in pari delicto or in equal fault. The Congressman Dominguez; secondly, he did not
doctrine of in pari delicto is a universal doctrine that competently establish the agreement on the condition
holds that no action arises, in equity or at law, from an that supposedly bound Tarnate to pay to Congressman
illegal contract; no suit can be maintained for its Dominguez;24 and, thirdly, burdening Tarnate with
specific performance, or to recover the property agreed Gonzalos personal debt to Congressman Dominguez
to be sold or delivered, or the money agreed to be to be paid first by Tarnate would constitute another
paid, or damages for its violation; and where the case of unjust enrichment.
parties are in pari delicto, no affirmative relief of any
kind will be given to one against the other.17 The Court regards the grant of moral damages,
attorneys fees and litigation expenses to Tarnate to be
Nonetheless, the application of the doctrine of in pari inappropriate. We have ruled that no damages may be
delicto is not always rigid.1wphi1 An accepted recovered under a void contract, which, being
exception arises when its application contravenes well- nonexistent, produces no juridical tie between the
established public policy.18 In this jurisdiction, public parties involved.25 It is notable, too, that the RTC and
policy has been defined as "that principle of the law the CA did not spell out the sufficient factual and legal
which holds that no subject or citizen can lawfully do justifications for such damages to be granted.
that which has a tendency to be injurious to the public
or against the public good."19 Lastly, the letter and spirit of Article 22 of the Civil
Code command Gonzalo to make a full reparation or
Unjust enrichment exists, according to Hulst v. PR compensation to Tarnate. The illegality of their contract
Builders, Inc.,20 "when a person unjustly retains a should not be allowed to deprive Tarnate from being
benefit at the loss of another, or when a person retains fully compensated through the imposition of legal
money or property of another against the fundamental interest. Towards that end, interest of 6% per annum
principles of justice, equity and good conscience." The reckoned from September 13, 1999, the time of the
prevention of unjust enrichment is a recognized public judicial demand by Tarnate, is imposed on the amount
policy of the State, for Article 22 of the Civil Code of P233,526.13. Not to afford this relief will make a
explicitly provides that "[e]very person who through an travesty of the justice to which Tarnate was entitled for
act of performance by another, or any other means, having suffered too long from Gonzalos unjust
acquires or comes into possession of something at the enrichment.
expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall
return the same to him." It is well to note that Article 22 WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the decision promulgated
"is part of the chapter of the Civil Code on Human on February 18, 2003, but DELETE the awards of
Relations, the provisions of which were formulated as moral damages, attorneys fees and litigation
basic principles to be observed for the rightful expenses; IMPOSE legal interest of 6% per annum on
relationship between human beings and for the stability the principal oLP233,526.13 reckoned from September
of the social order; designed to indicate certain norms 13, 1999; and DIRECT the petitioner to pay the costs
that spring from the fountain of good conscience; of suit. SO ORDERED.
guides for human conduct that should run as golden
threads through society to the end that law may ARTICLE 26 ACTION FOR DAMAGES
approach its supreme ideal which is the sway and
dominance of justice."21 a.) Jerome Castro vs People

There is no question that Tarnate provided the This petition for review on certiorari1 emanated from
equipment, labor and materials for the project in the complaint for grave oral defamation2 filed by Albert
compliance with his obligations under the subcontract P. Tan against petitioner Jerome Castro.
and the deed of assignment; and that it was Gonzalo
as the contractor who received the payment for his The facts follow.
contract with the DPWH as well as the 10% retention
fee that should have been paid to Tarnate pursuant to On November 11, 2002, Reedley International School
the deed of assignment.22 Considering that Gonzalo (RIS) dismissed Tans son, Justin Albert (then a Grade
refused despite demands to deliver to Tarnate the 12 student), for violating the terms of his disciplinary
stipulated 10% retention fee that would have probation.3 Upon Tans request, RIS reconsidered its
compensated the latter for the use of his equipment in decision but imposed "non-appealable" conditions such
the project, Gonzalo would be unjustly enriched at the as excluding Justin Albert from participating in the
expense of Tarnate if the latter was to be barred from graduation ceremonies.
recovering because of the rigid application of the
doctrine of in pari delicto. The prevention of unjust Aggrieved, Tan filed a complaint in the Department of
enrichment called for the exception to apply in Education (Dep-Ed) for violation of the Manual of
Tarnates favor. Consequently, the RTC and the CA Regulation of Private Schools, Education Act of 1982
properly adjudged Gonzalo liable to pay Tarnate the and Article 19 of the Civil Code4 against RIS. He
equivalent amount of the 10% retention fee (i.e., alleged that the dismissal of his son was undertaken
P233,526.13). with malice, bad faith and evident premeditation. After
investigation, the Dep-Ed found that RIS code violation
Gonzalo sought to justify his refusal to turn over the point system allowed the summary imposition of
P233,526.13 to Tarnate by insisting that he (Gonzalo) unreasonable sanctions (which had no basis in fact
and in law). The system therefore violated due never said or insinuated that Tan or talking to Tan was
process. Hence, the Dep-Ed nullified it. 5 dangerous. On cross-examination, however, he did not
categorically deny the veracity of Chings statement.
Meanwhile, on November 20, 2002, the Dep-Ed
ordered RIS to readmit Justin Albert without any The MeTC found that Chings statements in her
condition.6 Thus, he was able to graduate from RIS affidavit and in open court were consistent and that she
and participate in the commencement ceremonies held did not have any motive to fabricate a false statement.
on March 30, 2003. Petitioner, on the other hand, harbored personal
resentment, aversion and ill-will against Tan since the
After the graduation ceremonies, Tan met Bernice C. Dep-Ed compelled RIS to readmit his son. Thus, the
Ching, a fellow parent at RIS. In the course of their MeTC was convinced that petitioner told Ching talking
conversation, Tan intimated that he was contemplating to Tan was dangerous and that he uttered the
a suit against the officers of RIS in their personal statement with the intention to insult Tan and tarnish
capacities, including petitioner who was the assistant his social and professional reputation.
headmaster.
In a decision dated December 27, 2005, the MeTC
Ching telephoned petitioner sometime the first week of found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
April and told him that Tan was planning to sue the grave oral defamation:8
officers of RIS in their personal capacities. Before they
hung up, petitioner told Ching: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding
accused, Jerome Castro GUILTY beyond reasonable
Okay, you too, take care and be careful talking to doubt of the crime of Grave Oral Defamation,
[Tan], thats dangerous. sentencing him therefore, in accordance to Article
358(1) of the Revised Penal Code and applying the
Ching then called Tan and informed him that petitioner Indeterminate Sentence Law to suffer the penalty of
said "talking to him was dangerous." imprisonment of 1 month and 1 day of arresto mayor
as minimum to 4 months and 1 day of arresto mayor as
Insulted, Tan filed a complaint for grave oral maximum.
defamation in the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Mandaluyong City against petitioner on August 21, On appeal, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) affirmed the
2003. factual findings of the MeTC. However, in view of the
animosity between the parties, it found petitioner guilty
On November 3, 2003, petitioner was charged with only of slight oral defamation. But because Tan filed
grave oral defamation in the Metropolitan Trial Court his complaint in the Office of the City Prosecutor of
(MeTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch 607 under the Mandaluyong City only on August 21, 2003 (or almost
following Information: five months from discovery), the RTC ruled that
prescription had already set in; it therefore acquitted
That on or about the 13th day of March, 2003 in the petitioner on that ground. 9
City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named On April 19, 2007, the Office of the Solicitor General
[petitioner], with deliberate intent of bringing ATTY. (OSG) filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of
ALBERT P. TAN, into discredit, dishonor, disrepute Appeals (CA) assailing the decision of the RTC.10 It
and contempt, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully contended that the RTC acted with grave abuse of
and feloniously speak and utter the following words to discretion when it downgraded petitioners offense to
Ms. Bernice C. Ching: slight oral defamation. The RTC allegedly
misappreciated the antecedents which provoked
"OK, YOU TOO, YOU TAKE CARE AND BE petitioner to utter the allegedly defamatory statement
CAREFUL TALKING TO [TAN], THATS against Tan.
DANGEROUS."
The CA found that the RTC committed grave abuse of
and other words of similar import of a serious and discretion when it misapprehended the totality of the
insulting nature. circumstances and found petitioner guilty only of slight
oral defamation. Thus, the CA reinstated the MeTC
CONTRARY TO LAW. decision.11

Petitioner pleaded not guilty during arraignment. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was
denied.12 Hence, this recourse.
The prosecution essentially tried to establish that
petitioner depicted Tan as a "dangerous person." Petitioner basically contends that the CA erred in
Ching testified that petitioner warned her that talking to taking cognizance of the petition for certiorari inasmuch
Tan was dangerous. Tan, on the other hand, testified as the OSG raised errors of judgment (i.e., that the
that petitioners statement shocked him as it portrayed RTC misappreciated the evidence presented by the
him as "someone capable of committing undesirable parties) but failed to prove that the RTC committed
acts." He added that petitioner probably took offense grave abuse of discretion. Thus, double jeopardy
because of the complaint he filed against RIS in the attached when the RTC acquitted him.
Dep-Ed.
We grant the petition.
For his defense, petitioner denied harboring ill-feelings
against Tan despite the latters complaint against RIS No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment
in the Dep-Ed. Although he admitted conversing with for the same offense.13 This constitutional mandate is
Ching (whom he considered as a close acquaintance) echoed in Section 7 of Rule 117 of the Rules of Court
on the telephone a few days after RIS 2003 which provides:
commencement exercises, petitioner asserted that he
Section 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and
jeopardy. When an accused has been convicted or other relief:
acquitted or the case against him dismissed or
otherwise terminated without his express consent by a xxx xxx xxx
court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint
or in information or other formal charge sufficient in (3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his
form and substance to sustain a conviction and after friends;
the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction
or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case xxx xxx xxx
shall be a bar to another prosecution for the offense
charged or for any attempt to commit the same or Petitioner is reminded that, as an educator, he is
frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily supposed to be a role model for the youth. As such, he
includes or is necessarily included in the offense should always act with justice, give everyone his due
charged in the former complaint or information. and observe honesty and good faith.22

xxx xxx xxx WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The


August 29, 2007 decision and December 5, 2007
Under this provision, double jeopardy occurs upon (1) resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
a valid indictment (2) before a competent court (3) after 98649 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
arraignment (4) when a valid plea has been entered November 20, 2006 decision of the Regional Trial
and (5) when the accused was acquitted or convicted Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 212 is
or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated REINSTATED. Petitioner Jerome Castro is
without the express consent of the accused.14 Thus, ACQUITTED of slight oral defamation as defined and
an acquittal, whether ordered by the trial or appellate penalized in Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code. No
court, is final and unappealable on the ground of pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
double jeopardy.15
ARTICLE 27 LIABILTY OF PUBLIC SERVANTS
The only exception is when the trial court acted with
grave abuse of discretion or, as we held in Galman v. a.) Ledesma vs CA and Delmo
Sandiganbayan,16 when there was mistrial. In such
instances, the OSG can assail the said judgment in a This petition seeks to reverse the decision of the
petition for certiorari establishing that the State was respondent Court of Appeals which afirmed the
deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo,
case.17 adjudging the petitioner, who was then the President of
the West Visayas College liable for damages under
The rationale behind this exception is that a judgment Article 27 of the Civil Code of the Philippines for failure
rendered by the trial court with grave abuse of to graduate a student with honors.
discretion was issued without jurisdiction. It is, for this
reason, void. Consequently, there is no double The facts are not disputed.
jeopardy.
An organization named Student Leadership Club was
In this case, the OSG merely assailed the RTCs formed by some students of the West Visayas College.
finding on the nature of petitioners statement, that is, They elected the late Violets Delmo as the treasurer. In
whether it constituted grave or slight oral defamation. that capacity, Delmo extended loans from the funds of
The OSG premised its allegation of grave abuse of the club to some of the students of the school. "the
discretion on the RTCs "erroneous" evaluation and petitioner claims that the said act of extending loans
assessment of the evidence presented by the was against school rules and regulations. Thus, the
parties.1awph!1 petitioner, as President of the School, sent a letter to
Delmo informing her that she was being dropped from
What the OSG therefore questioned were errors of the membership of the club and that she would not be
judgment (or those involving misappreciation of a candidate for any award or citation from the school.
evidence or errors of law). However, a court, in a
petition for certiorari, cannot review the public Delmo asked for a reconsideration of the decision but
respondents evaluation of the evidence and factual the petitioner denied it. Delmo, thus, appealed to the
findings.18 Errors of judgment cannot be raised in a Office of the Director of the Bureau of Public Schools.
Rule 65 petition as a writ of certiorari can only correct
errors of jurisdiction (or those involving the commission The Director after due investigation, rendered a
of grave abuse of discretion).19 decison on April 13, 1966 which provided:

Because the OSG did not raise errors of jurisdiction, Records of the preliminary investigation conducted by
the CA erred in taking cognizance of its petition and, one of the legal officers of this Office disclosed the
worse, in reviewing the factual findings of the RTC.20 following: That Violeta Delmo was the treasurer of the
We therefore reinstate the RTC decision so as not to Student Leadership Club, an exclusive student
offend the constitutional prohibition against double organization; that pursuant to Article IX of the of the
jeopardy. Constitution and By-Laws of the club, it passed
Resolution No. 2, authorizing the treasurer to disburse
At most, petitioner could have been liable for damages funds of the Club to student for financial aid and other
under Article 26 of the Civil Code21 : humanitarian purposes; that in compliance with said
resolution and as treasurer of the Club, Violeta Delmo
Article 26. Every person shall respect the dignity, extended loans to some officers and members of the
personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors Club upon proper application duly approved by the
and other persons. The following and similar acts, majority of the members of the Executive Board; and
though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall that upon receiving the report from Mr. Jesse Dagoon,
adviser of the funds of the Club, that Office conducted award, citation or honor from the school, if they are
an investigation on the matter and having been otherwise entitled thereto. (Rollo, pp. 28-30)
convinced of the guilt of Violets Delmo and the other
officers and members of the Club, that Office rendered On April 27, 1966, the petitioner received by mail the
the order or decision in question. In justifying that decision of the Director and all the records of the case.
Office's order or decision, it is contended that approval On the same day, petitioner received a telegram
by that Office of the Constitution and By-Laws of the stating the following:
Club is necessary for its effectivity and validity and
since it was never submitted to that Office, the Club "AIRMAIL RECORDS DELMO CASE MISSENT THAT
had no valid constitution and By-Laws and that as a OFFICE"
consequence, Resolution No. 2 which was passed
based on the Constitution and By-Laws- is without any The Director asked for the return only of the records
force and effect and the treasurer, Violeta Delmo, who but the petitioner allegedly mistook the telegram as
extended loans to some officers and members of the ordering him to also send the decision back. On the
Club pursuant thereto are illegal (sic), hence, she and same day, he returned by mail all the records plus the
the other students involved are deemed guilty of decision of the Director to the Bureau of Public
misappropriating the funds of the Club. On the other Schools.
hand, Raclito Castaneda, Nestor Golez and Violeta
Delmo, President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Club, The next day, the petitioner received another telegram
respectively, testified that the Club had adopted its from the Director order him to furnish Delmo with a
Constitution and By-Laws in a meeting held last copy of the decision. The petitioner, in turn, sent a
October 3, 1965, and that pursuant to Article I of said night letter to the Director informing the latter that he
Constitution and By-Laws, the majority of the members had sent the decision back and that he had not
of the Executive Board passed Resolution No. 2, which retained a copy thereof..
resolution became the basis for the extension on of
loans to some officers and members of the Club, that On May 3, 1966, the day of the graduation, the
the Club honestly believed that its Constitution and By- petitioner received another telegram from the Director
Laws has been approved by the superintendent ordering him not to deprive Delmo of any honors due
because the adviser of the Club, Mr. Jesse Dagoon, her. As it was impossible by this time to include
assured the President of the Club that he will cause the Delmo's name in the program as one of the honor
approval of the Constitution and By-Laws by the students, the petitioner let her graduate as a plain
Superintendent; the officers of the Club have been student instead of being awarded the Latin honor of
inducted to office on October 9,1965 by the Magna Cum Laude.
Superintendent and that the Club had been likewise
allowed to cosponsor the Education Week Celebration. To delay the matter further, the petitioner on May 5,
1966, wrote the Director for a reconsideration of the
After a careful study of the records, this Office sustains latters" decision because he believed that Delmo
the action taken by the Superintendent in penalizing should not be allowed to graduate with honors. The
the adviser of the Club as well as the officers and Director denied the petitioner's request.
members thereof by dropping them from membership
therein. However, this Office is convinced that Violets On July 12, 1966, the petitioner finally instructed the
M. Delmo had acted in good faith, in her capacity as Registrar of the school to enter into the scholastic
Club Treasurer, in extending loans to the officers and records of Delmo the honor, "Magna Cum Laude."
members of the Student partnership Club. Resolution
No. 2 authorizing the Club treasurer to discharge finds On July 30, 1966, Delmo, then a minor, was joined by
to students in need of financial assistance and other her parents in flag action for damages against the
humanitarian purposes had been approved by the Club petitioner. During the pendency of the action, however,
adviser, Mr. Jesse Dagoon, with the notation that Delmo passed away, and thus, an Amended and
approval was given in his capacity as adviser of the Supplemental Complaint was filed by her parents as
Club and extension of the Superintendent's personality. her sole and only heirs.
Aside from misleading the officers and members of the
Club, Mr. Dagoon, had unsatisfactorily explained why The trial court after hearing rendered judgment against
he failed to give the Constitution and By-Laws of the the petitioner and in favor of the spouses Delmo. The
Club to the Superintendent for approval despite his court said:
assurance to the Club president that he would do so.
With this finding of negligence on the part of the Club Let us go to specific badges of the defendants (now
adviser, not to mention laxity in the performance of his petitioners) bad faith. Per investigation of Violeta
duties as such, this Office considers as too severe and Delmo's appeal to Director Vitaliano Bernardino of the
unwarranted that portion of the questioned order Bureau of Public Schools (Exhibit L it was the
stating that Violeta Delmo "shall not be a candidate for defendant who inducted the officers of the Student
any award or citation from this school or any Leadership Club on October 9, 1965. In fact the Club
organization in this school." Violeta Delmo, it is noted, was allowed to cosponsor the Education Week
has been a consistent full scholar of the school and Celebration. (Exh. "L"). If the defendant he not approve
she alone has maintained her scholarship. The of the constitution and by-laws of the Club, why did he
decision in question would, therefore, set at naught all induct the officers into office and allow the Club to
her sacrifice and frustrate her dreams of graduating sponsor the Education Week Celebration"? It was
with honors in this year's commencement exercises. through his own act that the students were misled to do
as they did. Coupled with the defendants tacit
In view of all the foregoing, this Office believes and so recognition of the Club was the assurance of Mr. Jemm
holds and hereby directs that appellant Violeta. M. Dagoon, Club Adviser, who made the students believe
Delmo, and for that matter all other Club members or that he was acting as an extension of Mr. Ledesma's
officers involved in this case, be not deprived of any personality. (Exhibit "L").
Another badge of the defendan'ts want of good faith is The trial court awarded P20,000.00 to the estate of
the fact that, although, he kaew as early as April Violeta Delmo and P10,000.00 to her parents for moral
27,1966 that per on of r Bernardino, Exhibit "L," he was damages; P5,000.00 for nominal damages to Violeta's
directed to give honors to Miss Delmo, he kept Id estate; exemplary damages of P10,000.00 and
information to . He told the Court that he knew that the P2,000.00 attorney's fees.
letter of Director Bernardino directed him not to deprive
Miss Delmo the honors due her, but she (sic) says that On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.
he has not finished reading the letter-decision, Exhibit Hence, this petition.
"L," of Director Bernardino 0, him to give honors to
Miss Delmo. (Tsn, Feb. 5, 1974, testimony of Mr. The issues raised in this petition can be reduced to the
Ledesma, pp. .33-35). It could not be true that he has sole question of whether or not the respondent Court of
not finished reading the letter-decision, Exh. "L," Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's finding that
because said letter consisted of only three pages, and petitioner is liable for damages under Article 27 of the
the portion which directed that Miss Delmo "be not New Civil Code.
deprived of any award, citation or honor from the
school, if otherwise entitled thereto is found at the last We find no reason why the findings of the trial and
paragraph of the same. How did he know the last appellate courts should be reversed. It cannot be
paragraph if he did not read the letter. disputed that Violeta Delmo went through a painful
ordeal which was brought about by the petitioner's
Defendants actuations regarding Miss Delmo's cam neglect of duty and callousness. Thus, moral damages
had been one of bias and prejudice. When his action are but proper. As we have affirmed in the case of
would favor him, he was deliberate and aspect to the (Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport System, Inc., 148
utter prejudice and detriment of Miss Delmo. Thus, SCRA 440, 448):
although, as early as April 27, 1966, he knew of the
exoneration of Miss Delino by Director Bernardino, he There is no argument that moral damages include
withheld the information from Miss Delmo. This is physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious
eloquently dramatized by Exh. "11" and Exh. "13" On anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,
April 29,1966, Director Bernardino cabled him to moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury.
furnish Violeta Delmo copy of the Decision, Exh. "L," Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral
but instead of informing Miss Delmo about the damages may be recovered if they are the proximate
decision, since he said he mailed back the decision on result of defendant's wrongly act or omission." (People
April 28,1966, he sent a night letter on April 29,1966, to v. Baylon, 129 SCRA 62 (1984).
Director Bernardino, informing the latter that he had
returned the decision (Exh. "l3"), together with the The Solicitor-General tries to cover-up the petitioner's
record. Why a night letter when the matter was of deliberate omission to inform Miss Delmo by stating
utmost urgency to the parties in the case, because that it was not the duty of the petitioner to furnish her a
graduation day was only four days ahead? An copy of the Director's decision. Granting this to be true,
examination of the telegrams sent by the defendant it was nevertheless the petitioner's duty to enforce the
shows that he had been sending ordinary telegram and said decision. He could have done so considering that
not night letters. (Exh. "5", Exhibit "7"). At least, if the he received the decision on April 27, 1966 and even
defendant could not furnish a copy of the decision, though he sent it back with the records of the case, he
(Exh. "L"), to Miss Delmo, he should have told her undoubtedly read the whole of it which consisted of
about it or that Miss Delmo's honors and citation in the only three pages. Moreover, the petitioner should have
commencement be announced or indicated. But Mr. had the decency to meet with Mr. Delmo, the girl's
Ledesma is one who cannot admit a mistake. Very father, and inform the latter, at the very least of the
ungentlemanly this is home out by his own testimony decision. This, the petitioner likewise failed to do, and
despite his knowledge that his decision to deprive Miss not without the attendant bad faith which the appellate
Delmo of honors due to her was overturned by Director court correctly pointed out in its decision, to wit:
Bernardino, he on his wrong belief. To quote the
defendant,1 believed that she did not deserve those Third, assuming that defendant could not furnish Miss
honors(Tsn Feb. 5, 1974, p. 43,Empasized supplied). Delmo of a copy of the decision, he could have used
Despite the telegram of Director Bernardino which the his discretion and plain common sense by informing
defendant received hours before the commencement her about it or he could have directed the inclusion of
executory on May 3-4,1966, he did not obey Director Miss Delmo's honor in the printed commencement
Bernardino because he said in his testimony that he program or announced it during the commencement
would be embarrassment . Tan Feb 5,1974, P. 46). exercises.
Evidently, he knew only his embarrassment and not
that of r Bernardino whose order was being flagrantly Fourth, defendant despite receipt of the telegram of
and wantonly disregarded by bim And certainly, not the Director Benardino hours before the commencement
least of Miss Delmo's embarrassment. His acts speak exercises on May 3-4, 1966, disobeyed his superior by
eloquently of ho bad faith and unjust of mindwarped by refusing to give the honors due Miss Delmo with a
his delicate sensitivity for having been challenged by lame excuse that he would be embarrassed if he did
Miss Delmo, a mere student. so, to the prejudice of and in complete disregard of
Miss Delmo's rights.
xxx xxx xxx
Fifth, defendant did not even extend the courtesy of
Finally the defendant's behaviour relative to Miss s meeting Mr. Pacifico Delmo, father of Miss Delmo, who
case smacks of contemptuous arrogance, oppression tried several times to see defendant in his office thus
and abuse of power. Come to think of it. He refused to Mr. Delmo suffered extreme disappointment and
obey the directive of Be o and instead, chose to feign humiliation.
ignorance of it." (Reward on Appeal, p. 72-76).
xxx xxx xxx
Defendant, being a public officer should have acted under the names of Ramon and Josefina Ricafort;4
with circumspection and due regard to the rights of and that, accordingly, they immediately caused the
Miss Delmo. Inasmuch as he exceeded the scope of annotation of their affidavit of adverse claim on TCT
his authority by defiantly disobeying the lawful directive No. N-290546.
of his superior, Director Bernardino, defendant is liable
for damages in his personal capacity. . . . (Rollo, pp- It appears that the parties entered into an amicable
57-58) settlement during the pendency of Civil Case No. Q-
07-59598 in order to end their dispute,5 whereby the
Based on the undisputed facts, exemplary damages complainants agreed to sell the property and the
are also in order. In the same case of Prudenciado v. proceeds thereof would be equally divided between the
Alliance Transport System, Inc., supra., at p. 450, we parties, and the complaint and counterclaim would be
ruled: withdrawn respectively by the complainants (as the
plaintiffs) and the defendants. Pursuant to the terms of
The rationale behind exemplary or corrective damages the amicable settlement, Atty. Victorio, Jr. filed a
is, as the name implies, to provide an example or Motion to Withdraw Complaint dated February 26,
correction for the public good (Lopez, et al. v. Pan 2008,6 which the RTC granted in its order dated May
American World Airways, 16 SCRA 431). 16, 2008 upon noting the defendants lack of objection
thereto and the defendants willingness to similarly
However, we do not deem it appropriate to award the withdraw their counterclaim.7
spouses Delmo damages in the amount of P10,000.00
in their individual capacity, separately from and in The complainants alleged that from the time of the
addition to what they are already entitled to as sole issuance by the RTC of the order dated May 16, 2008,
heirs of the deceased Violeta Delmo. Thus, the they could no longer locate or contact Atty. Victorio, Jr.
decision is modified insofar as moral damages are despite making several phone calls and visits to his
awarded to the spouses in their own behalf. office; that they found out upon verification at the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City that new annotations
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of were made on TCT No. N-290546, specifically: (1) the
merit. The decision of the Court of Appeals is annotation of the letter-request appearing to be filed by
AFFIRMED with the slight modification as stated in the Atty. Tolentino, Jr.8 seeking the cancellation of the
preceding paragraph. This decision is immediately affidavit of adverse claim and the notice of lis pendens
executory. SO ORDERED. annotated on TCT No. N-290546; and (2) the
annotation of the decision dated May 16, 2008
rendered in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 by the RTC,
b.) Campugan vs Tolentino, Jr. Branch 95, in Quezon City, granting the complainants
Motion to Withdraw Complaint;9 and that a copy of the
In this consolidated administrative case, complainants letter request dated June 30, 2008 addressed to Atty.
Jessie T. Campugan and Robert C. Torres seek the Quilala, Registrar of Deeds of Quezon City, disclosed
disbarment of respondents Atty. Federico S. Tolentino, that it was defendant Ramon Ricafort who had signed
Jr., Atty. Daniel F. Victorio, Jr., Atty. Renato G. the letter.
Cunanan, Atty. Elbert T. Quilala and Atty. Constante P.
Caluya, Jr. for allegedly falsifying a court order that Feeling aggrieved by their discovery, the complainants
became the basis for the cancellation of their filed an appeal en consulta with the Land Registration
annotation of the notice ofadverse claim and the notice Authority (LRA), docketed as Consulta No. 4707,
of lis pendens in the Registry of Deeds in Quezon City. assailing the unlawful cancellation of their notice of
adverse claim and their notice of lis pendens under
Antecedents primary entries PE-2742 and PE-3828-9, respectively.
The LRA set Consulta No. 4707 for hearing on March
Atty. Victorio, Jr. had replaced Atty. Edgardo Abad as 30, 2009, and directed the parties to submit their
counsel of the complainants in a civil action they respective memoranda and/or supporting documents
brought to seek the annulment of Transfer Certificate on or beforesuch scheduled hearing.10 However, the
of Title (TCT) No. N-290546 of the Registry of Deeds records do not disclose whether Consulta No. 4707
of Quezon City in the first week of January 2007 in the was already resolved, or remained pending at the LRA.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City (Civil Case
No. Q-07-59598). They impleaded as defendants Unable to receive any response or assistance from
Ramon and Josefina Ricafort, Juliet Vargas and the Atty. Victorio, Jr. despite their having paid him for his
Register of Deeds of Quezon City. They caused to be professional services, the complainants felt that said
annotated on TCT No. N-290546 their affidavit of counsel had abandoned their case. They submitted
adverse claim, as well as the notice of lis pendens.1 that the cancellation of their notice of adverse claim
Atty. Tolentino, Jr. was the counsel of defendant and their notice of lis pendens without a court order
Ramon and Josefina Ricafort. specifically allowing such cancellation resulted from the
connivance and conspiracy between Atty. Victorio, Jr.
In their sworn complaint for disbarment dated April 23, and Atty. Tolentino, Jr., and from the taking advantage
2009 (later docketed as A.C. No. 8261),2 the of their positions as officials in the Registry of Deeds
complainants narrated that as the surviving children of by respondents Atty. Quilala, the Chief Registrar, and
the late Spouses Antonio and Nemesia Torres, they Atty. Cunanan, the acting Registrar and signatory of
inherited upon the deaths of their parents a residential the new annotations. Thus, they claimed to be thereby
lot located at No. 251 Boni Serrano Street, Murphy, prejudiced.
Cubao, Quezon City registered under Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT-64333(35652) of the On July 6, 2009, the Court required the respondents to
Register of Deeds of Quezon City;3 that on August 24, comment on the verified complaint.11 Atty. Victorio, Jr.
2006, they discovered that TCT No. RT-64333(35652) asserted in his Comment dated August 17, 200912 that
had been unlawfully cancelled and replaced by TCT complainant Robert Torres had been actively involved
No. N-290546 of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City in the proceedings in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598,
which included the mediation process; that the whether his conduct shows him to be wanting in moral
complainants, after having aggressively participated in character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or
the drafting of the amicable settlement, could not now whether his conduct renders him unworthy to continue
claim that they had been deceived into entering the as an officer of the Court.20 Verily, Canon 7 of the
agreement in the same way that they could not feign Code of Professional Responsibility mandates all
ignorance of the conditions contained therein; that he lawyers to uphold at all times the dignity and integrity
did not commit any abandonment as alleged, but had of the Legal Profession. Lawyers are similarly required
performed in good faith his duties as the counsel for under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the same Code not to
the complainants in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598; that he engage in any unlawful, dishonest and immoral or
should not be held responsible for their representation deceitful conduct. Failure to observe these tenets of
in other proceedings, such as that before the LRA, the Code of Professional Responsibility exposes the
which required a separate engagement; and that the lawyer to disciplinary sanctions as provided in Section
only payment he had received from the complainants 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, as amended, viz.:
were those for his appearance fees of P1,000.00 for
every hearing in the RTC. Section 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by
Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the
In his Comment dated August 24, 2009,13 Atty. bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
Tolentino, Jr. refuted the charge of conspiracy, attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
stressing that he was not acquainted with the other malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office,
respondents, except Atty. Victorio, Jr. whom he had grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction
met during the hearings in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598; of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation
that although he had notarized the letter request dated of the oath which he is required to take before the
June 30, 2008 of Ramon Ricafort to the Register of admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience
Deeds, he had no knowledge about how said letter- appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without
request had been disposed of by the Register of authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at
Deeds; and that the present complaint was the second law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
disbarment case filed by the complainants against him through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
with no other motive except to harass and intimidate malpractice.
him.
The complainants allegations of the respondents acts
Atty. Quilala stated in his Comment dated September and omissions are insufficient to establish any
1, 200914 that it was Atty. Caluya, Jr., another Deputy censurable conduct against them.
Register of Deeds, who was the actual signing
authority of the annotations that resulted in the Section 10 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property
cancellation of the affidavit of adverse claim and the Registration Decree) enumerates the general duties of
notice of lis pendens on TCT No. N-290546; that the the Register of Deeds, as follows:
cancellation of the annotations was undertaken in the
regular course of official duty and in the exercise of the Section 10. General functions of Registers of Deeds.
ministerial duty of the Register of Deeds; that no xxx
irregularity occurred or was performed in the
cancellation of the annotations; and that the Register of It shall be the duty of the Register of Deeds to
Deeds was impleaded in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 immediately register an instrument presented for
only as a nominal party, thereby discounting any registration dealing with real or personal property
involvement in the proceedings in the case. which complies with all the requisites for registration.
He shall see to it that said instrument bears the proper
Atty. Cunanan did not file any comment.15 documentary science stamps and that the same are
properly canceled. If the instrument is not registrable,
As the result of Atty. Quilalas allegation in his he shall forthwith deny registration thereof and inform
Comment in A.C. No. 8261 that it had been Atty. the present or of such denial in writing, stating the
Caluya, Jr.s signature that appeared below the ground or reason therefor, and advising him of his right
cancelled entries, the complainants filed another sworn to appeal by consulta in accordance with Section 117
disbarment complaint dated August 26, 2010 alleging of this Decree. (Emphasis supplied)
that Atty. Caluya, Jr. had forged the signature of Atty.
Cunanan.16 This disbarment complaint was docketed The aforementioned duty of the Register of Deeds is
as A.C. No. 8725, and was later on consolidated with ministerial in nature.21 A purely ministerial act or duty
A.C. No. 826117 because the complaints involved the is one that an officer or tribunal performs in a given
same parties and rested on similar allegations against state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to
the respondents. the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or
the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or
Atty. Quilala filed his Comment in A.C. No. 8725 to impropriety of the act done. If the law imposes a duty
belie the allegation of forgery and to reiterate the upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide
arguments he had made in A.C. No. 8261.18 On his how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is
part, Atty. Caluya, Jr. manifested that he adopted Atty. discretionary, not ministerial. The duty is ministerial
Quilalas Comment.19 only when its discharge requires neither the exercise of
official discretion nor the exercise of judgment.22
Ruling
In Gabriel v. Register of Deeds of Rizal,23 the Court
We dismiss the complaints for disbarment for being underscores that registration is a merely ministerial act
bereft of merit. of the Register of Deeds, explaining:

Well entrenched in this jurisdiction is the rule that a x x x [W]hether the document is invalid, frivolous or
lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed intended to harass, is not the duty of a Register of
either in his professional or private capacity. The test is Deeds to decide, but a court of competent jurisdiction,
and that it is his concern to see whether the documents In fine, the presumption of the validity of the amicable
sought to be registered conform with the formal and settlement of the complainants and the defendants in
legal requirements for such documents. Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 subsisted.28

In view of the foregoing, we find no abuse of authority Anent the complainants charge of abandonment
or irregularity committed by Atty. Quilala, Atty. against Atty. Victorio, Jr., Rule 18.03 and Rule 18.04,
Cunanan, and Atty. Caluya, Jr. with respect to the Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
cancellation of the notice of adverse claim and the are applicable, to wit:
notice of lis pendens annotated on TCT No. N-290546.
Whether or not the RTC order dated May 16, 2008 or CANON 18 A lawyer shall serve his client with
the letter-request dated June 30,2008 had been competence and diligence.
falsified, fraudulent or invalid was not for them to
determine inasmuch as their duty to examine Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglecta legal matter
documents presented for registration was limited only entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
to what appears on the face of the documents. If, upon therewith shall render him liable.
their evaluation of the letter-request and the RTC
order, they found the same to be sufficient in law and Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of
to be in conformity with existing requirements, it the status of his case and shall respond within a
became obligatory for them to perform their ministerial reasonable time to the clients request for information.
duty without unnecessary delay.24
There is no issue that the complainants engaged the
Should they be aggrieved by said respondents services of Atty. Victorio, Jr. as their counsel in Civil
performance of duty, the complainants were not bereft Case No. Q-07-59598. Atty. Victorio, Jr. served as
of any remedy because they could challenge the such counsel. With Atty. Victorio, Jr. assistance, the
performance of duty by bringing the matter by way of complainants obtained a fair settlement consisting in
consulta with the LRA, as provided by Section 11725 receiving half of the proceeds of the sale of the
of Presidential Decree No. 1529. But, as enunciated in property in litis, without any portion of the proceeds
Gabriel v. Register of Deeds of Rizal,26 it was accruing to counsel as his legal fees. The
ultimately within the province of a court of competent complainants did not competently and persuasively
jurisdiction to resolve issues concerning the validity or show any unfaithfulness on the part of Atty. Victorio, Jr.
invalidity of a document registered by the Register of as far as their interest in the litigation was concerned.
Deeds. Hence, Atty. Victorio, Jr. was not liable for
abandonment.
The complainants charge Atty. Victorio, Jr. and Atty.
Tolentino, Jr. with having conspired with each other to Atty. Victorio, Jr. could not be faulted for the perceived
guarantee that the parties in Civil Case No. Q-59598 inattention to any other matters subsequent to the
would enter into the amicable settlement, and then to termination of Civil Case No. Q-07-59598. Unless
cause the cancellation of the affidavit of adverse claim otherwise expressly stipulated between them at any
and notice of lis pendens annotated on TCT No. N- time during the engagement, the complainants had no
290546. The complainants further fault Atty. Victorio, right to assume that Atty. Victorio, Jr.s legal
Jr. with having abandoned their cause since the representation was indefinite as to extend to his
issuance of the RTC of its order dated May 16, 2008. representation of them in the LRA. The Law Profession
The complainants charges are devoid of substance. did not burden its members with the responsibility of
indefinite service to the clients; hence, the rendition of
Although it is not necessary to prove a formal professional services depends on the agreement
agreement in order to establish conspiracy because between the attorney and the client. Atty. Victorio, Jr.s
conspiracy may be inferred from the circumstances alleged failure to respond to the complainants calls or
attending the commission of an act, it is nonetheless visits, or to provide them with his whereabouts to
essential that conspiracy be established by clear and enable them to have access to him despite the
convincing evidence.27 The complainants failed in this termination of his engagement in Civil Case No. Q-07-
regard. Outside of their bare assertions that Atty. 59598 did not equate to abandonment without the
Victorio, Jr. and Atty. Tolentino, Jr. had conspired with credible showing that he continued to come under the
each other in order to cause the dismissal of the professional obligation towards them after the
complaint and then discharge of the annotations, they termination of Civil Case No. Q-07-59598.
presented no evidence to support their allegation of
conspiracy. On the contrary, the records indicated their WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the baseless
own active participation in arriving at the amicable disbarment complaints against Atty. Federico S.
settlement with the defendants in Civil Case No. Q-07- Tolentino, Jr., Atty. Renato G. Cunanan, Atty. Daniel F.
59598. Hence, they could not now turn their backs on Victoria, Jr., Atty. Elbert T. Quilala and Atty. Constante
the amicable settlement that they had themselves P. Caluya, Jr. SO ORDERED.
entered into.
ART. 29-35 CIVIL LIABILTY FROM CRIMINAL
Even assuming that Atty. Victorio, Jr. and Atty. OFFENSE
Tolentino, Jr. initiated and participated in the
settlement of the case, there was nothing wrong in a.) People vs Bayotas
their doing so. It was actually their obligation as
lawyers to do so, pursuant to Rule 1.04, Canon 1 of the In Criminal Case No. C-3217 filed before Branch 16,
Code of Professional Responsibility, viz.: RTC Roxas City, Rogelio Bayotas y Cordova was
charged with Rape and eventually convicted thereof on
RULE 1.04 A lawyer shall encourage his clients to June 19, 1991 in a decision penned by Judge Manuel
avoid, end or settle a controversy if it will admit of a fair E. Autajay. Pending appeal of his conviction, Bayotas
settlement.1wphi1 died on February 4, 1992 at
the National Bilibid Hospital due to cardio respiratory 1. Por la muerte del reo en cuanto a las penas
arrest secondary to hepatic encephalopathy secondary personales siempre, y respecto a las pecuniarias, solo
to hipato carcinoma gastric malingering. Consequently, cuando a su fallecimiento no hubiere recaido sentencia
the Supreme Court in its Resolution of May 20, 1992 firme.
dismissed the criminal aspect of the appeal. However,
it required the Solicitor General to file its comment with xxx xxx xxx
regard to Bayotas' civil liability arising from his
commission of the offense charged. The code of 1870 . . . it will be observed employs the
term "sentencia firme." What is "sentencia firme" under
In his comment, the Solicitor General expressed his the old statute?
view that the death of accused-appellant did not
extinguish his civil liability as a result of his commission XXVIII Enciclopedia Juridica Espaola, p. 473,
of the offense charged. The Solicitor General, relying furnishes the ready answer: It says:
on the case of People v. Sendaydiego 1 insists that the
appeal should still be resolved for the purpose of SENTENCIA FIRME. La sentencia que adquiere la
reviewing his conviction by the lower court on which fuerza de las definitivas por no haberse utilizado por
the civil liability is based. las partes litigantes recurso alguno contra ella dentro
de los terminos y plazos legales concedidos al efecto.
Counsel for the accused-appellant, on the other hand,
opposed the view of the Solicitor General arguing that "Sentencia firme" really should be understood as one
the death of the accused while judgment of conviction which is definite. Because, it is only when judgment is
is pending appeal extinguishes both his criminal and such that, as Medina y Maranon puts it, the crime is
civil penalties. In support of his position, said counsel confirmed "en condena determinada;" or, in the
invoked the ruling of the Court of Appeals in People v. words of Groizard, the guilt of the accused becomes
Castillo and Ocfemia 2 which held that the civil "una verdad legal." Prior thereto, should the accused
obligation in a criminal case takes root in the criminal die, according to Viada, "no hay legalmente, en tal
liability and, therefore, civil liability is extinguished if caso, ni reo, ni delito, ni responsabilidad criminal de
accused should die before final judgment is rendered. ninguna clase." And, as Judge Kapunan well
explained, when a defendant dies before judgment
We are thus confronted with a single issue: Does death becomes executory, "there cannot be any
of the accused pending appeal of his conviction determination by final judgment whether or not the
extinguish his civil liability? felony upon which the civil action might arise exists,"
for the simple reason that "there is no party defendant."
In the aforementioned case of People v. Castillo, this (I Kapunan, Revised Penal Code, Annotated, p. 421.
issue was settled in the affirmative. This same issue Senator Francisco holds the same view. Francisco,
posed therein was phrased thus: Does the death of Revised Penal Code, Book One, 2nd ed., pp. 859-860)
Alfredo Castillo affect both his criminal responsibility
and his civil liability as a consequence of the alleged The legal import of the term "final judgment" is similarly
crime? reflected in the Revised Penal Code. Articles 72 and
78 of that legal body mention the term "final judgment"
It resolved this issue thru the following disquisition: in the sense that it is already enforceable. This also
brings to mind Section 7, Rule 116 of the Rules of
Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code is the controlling Court which states that a judgment in a criminal case
statute. It reads, in part: becomes final "after the lapse of the period for
perfecting an appeal or when the sentence has been
Art. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. partially or totally satisfied or served, or the defendant
Criminal liability is totally extinguished: has expressly waived in writing his right to appeal."

1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal By fair intendment, the legal precepts and opinions
penalties; and as to the pecuniary penalties liability here collected funnel down to one positive conclusion:
therefor is extinguished only when the death of the The term final judgment employed in the Revised
offender occurs before final judgment; Penal Code means judgment beyond recall. Really, as
long as a judgment has not become executory, it
With reference to Castillo's criminal liability, there is no cannot be truthfully said that defendant is definitely
question. The law is plain. Statutory construction is guilty of the felony charged against him.
unnecessary. Said liability is extinguished.
Not that the meaning thus given to final judgment is
The civil liability, however, poses a problem. Such without reason. For where, as in this case, the right to
liability is extinguished only when the death of the institute a separate civil action is not reserved, the
offender occurs before final judgment. Saddled upon decision to be rendered must, of necessity, cover "both
us is the task of ascertaining the legal import of the the criminal and the civil aspects of the case." People
term "final judgment." Is it final judgment as vs. Yusico (November 9, 1942), 2 O.G., No. 100, p.
contradistinguished from an interlocutory order? Or, is 964. See also: People vs. Moll, 68 Phil., 626, 634;
it a judgment which is final and executory? Francisco, Criminal Procedure, 1958 ed., Vol. I, pp.
234, 236. Correctly, Judge Kapunan observed that as
We go to the genesis of the law. The legal precept "the civil action is based solely on the felony committed
contained in Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code and of which the offender might be found guilty, the
heretofore transcribed is lifted from Article 132 of the death of the offender extinguishes the civil liability." I
Spanish El Codigo Penal de 1870 which, in part, Kapunan, Revised Penal Code, Annotated, supra.
recites:
Here is the situation obtaining in the present case:
La responsabilidad penal se extingue. Castillo's criminal liability is out. His civil liability is
sought to be enforced by reason of that criminal
liability. But then, if we dismiss, as we must, the
criminal action and let the civil aspect remain, we will It should be stressed that the extinction of civil liability
be faced with the anomalous situation whereby we will follows the extinction of the criminal liability under
be called upon to clamp civil liability in a case where Article 89, only when the civil liability arises from the
the source thereof criminal liability does not exist. criminal act as its only basis. Stated differently, where
And, as was well stated in Bautista, et al. vs. Estrella, the civil liability does not exist independently of the
et al., CA-G.R. criminal responsibility, the extinction of the latter by
No. 19226-R, September 1, 1958, "no party can be death, ipso facto extinguishes the former, provided, of
found and held criminally liable in a civil suit," which course, that death supervenes before final judgment.
solely would remain if we are to divorce it from the The said principle does not apply in instant case
criminal proceeding." wherein the civil liability springs neither solely nor
originally from the crime itself but from a civil contract
This ruling of the Court of Appeals in the Castillo case of purchase and sale. (Emphasis ours)
3 was adopted by the Supreme Court in the cases of
People of the Philippines v. Bonifacio Alison, et al., 4 xxx xxx xxx
People of the Philippines v. Jaime Jose, et al. 5 and
People of the Philippines v. Satorre 6 by dismissing the In the above case, the court was convinced that the
appeal in view of the death of the accused pending civil liability of the accused who was charged with
appeal of said cases. estafa could likewise trace its genesis to Articles 19, 20
and 21 of the Civil Code since said accused had
As held by then Supreme Court Justice Fernando in swindled the first and second vendees of the property
the Alison case: subject matter of the contract of sale. It therefore
concluded: "Consequently, while the death of the
The death of accused-appellant Bonifacio Alison accused herein extinguished his criminal liability
having been established, and considering that there is including fine, his civil liability based on the laws of
as yet no final judgment in view of the pendency of the human relations remains."
appeal, the criminal and civil liability of the said
accused-appellant Alison was extinguished by his Thus it allowed the appeal to proceed with respect to
death (Art. 89, Revised Penal Code; Reyes' Criminal the civil liability of the accused, notwithstanding the
Law, 1971 Rev. Ed., p. 717, citing People v. Castillo extinction of his criminal liability due to his death
and Ofemia C.A., 56 O.G. 4045); consequently, the pending appeal of his conviction.
case against him should be dismissed.
To further justify its decision to allow the civil liability to
On the other hand, this Court in the subsequent cases survive, the court relied on the following ratiocination:
of Buenaventura Belamala v. Marcelino Polinar 7 and Since Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court 9
Lamberto Torrijos v. The Honorable Court of Appeals 8 requires the dismissal of all money claims against the
ruled differently. In the former, the issue decided by defendant whose death occurred prior to the final
this court was: Whether the civil liability of one accused judgment of the Court of First Instance (CFI), then it
of physical injuries who died before final judgment is can be inferred that actions for recovery of money may
extinguished by his demise to the extent of barring any continue to be heard on appeal, when the death of the
claim therefore against his estate. It was the contention defendant supervenes after the CFI had rendered its
of the administrator-appellant therein that the death of judgment. In such case, explained this tribunal, "the
the accused prior to final judgment extinguished all name of the offended party shall be included in the title
criminal and civil liabilities resulting from the offense, in of the case as plaintiff-appellee and the legal
view of Article 89, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal representative or the heirs of the deceased-accused
Code. However, this court ruled therein: should be substituted as defendants-appellants."

We see no merit in the plea that the civil liability has It is, thus, evident that as jurisprudence evolved from
been extinguished, in view of the provisions of the Civil Castillo to Torrijos, the rule established was that the
Code of the Philippines of 1950 (Rep. Act No. 386) that survival of the civil liability depends on whether the
became operative eighteen years after the revised same can be predicated on sources of obligations
Penal Code. As pointed out by the Court below, Article other than delict. Stated differently, the claim for civil
33 of the Civil Code establishes a civil action for liability is also extinguished together with the criminal
damages on account of physical injuries, entirely action if it were solely based thereon, i.e., civil liability
separate and distinct from the criminal action. ex delicto.

Art. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical However, the Supreme Court in People v.
injuries, a civil action for damages, entirely separate Sendaydiego, et al. 10 departed from this long-
and distinct from the criminal action, may be brought established principle of law. In this case, accused
by the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed Sendaydiego was charged with and convicted by the
independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall lower court of malversation thru falsification of public
require only a preponderance of evidence. documents. Sendaydiego's death supervened during
the pendency of the appeal of his conviction.
Assuming that for lack of express reservation,
Belamala's civil action for damages was to be This court in an unprecedented move resolved to
considered instituted together with the criminal action dismiss Sendaydiego's appeal but only to the extent of
still, since both proceedings were terminated without his criminal liability. His civil liability was allowed to
final adjudication, the civil action of the offended party survive although it was clear that such claim thereon
under Article 33 may yet be enforced separately. was exclusively dependent on the criminal action
already extinguished. The legal import of such decision
In Torrijos, the Supreme Court held that: was for the court to continue exercising appellate
jurisdiction over the entire appeal, passing upon the
xxx xxx xxx correctness of Sendaydiego's conviction despite
dismissal of the criminal action, for the purpose of Article 30 of the Civil Code and Section 21, Rule 3 of
determining if he is civilly liable. In doing so, this Court the Revised Rules of Court.
issued a Resolution of July 8, 1977 stating thus:
Article 30 of the Civil Code provides:
The claim of complainant Province of Pangasinan for
the civil liability survived Sendaydiego because his When a separate civil action is brought to demand civil
death occurred after final judgment was rendered by liability arising from a criminal offense, and no criminal
the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, which proceedings are instituted during the pendency of the
convicted him of three complex crimes of malversation civil case, a preponderance of evidence shall likewise
through falsification and ordered him to indemnify the be sufficient to prove the act complained of.
Province in the total sum of P61,048.23 (should be
P57,048.23). Clearly, the text of Article 30 could not possibly lend
support to the ruling in Sendaydiego. Nowhere in its
The civil action for the civil liability is deemed impliedly text is there a grant of authority to continue exercising
instituted with the criminal action in the absence of appellate jurisdiction over the accused's civil liability ex
express waiver or its reservation in a separate action delicto when his death supervenes during appeal.
(Sec. 1, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court). The civil What Article 30 recognizes is an alternative and
action for the civil liability is separate and distinct from separate civil action which may be brought to demand
the criminal action (People and Manuel vs. Coloma, civil liability arising from a criminal offense
105 Phil. 1287; Roa vs. De la Cruz, 107 Phil. 8). independently of any criminal action. In the event that
no criminal proceedings are instituted during the
When the action is for the recovery of money and the pendency of said civil case, the quantum of evidence
defendant dies before final judgment in the Court of needed to prove the criminal act will have to be that
First Instance, it shall be dismissed to be prosecuted in which is compatible with civil liability and that is,
the manner especially provided in Rule 87 of the Rules preponderance of evidence and not proof of guilt
of Court (Sec. 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court). beyond reasonable doubt. Citing or invoking Article 30
to justify the survival of the civil action despite
The implication is that, if the defendant dies after a extinction of the criminal would in effect merely beg the
money judgment had been rendered against him by question of whether civil liability ex delicto survives
the Court of First Instance, the action survives him. It upon extinction of the criminal action due to death of
may be continued on appeal (Torrijos vs. Court of the accused during appeal of his conviction. This is
Appeals, L-40336, October 24, 1975; 67 SCRA 394). because whether asserted in
the criminal action or in a separate civil action, civil
The accountable public officer may still be civilly liable liability ex delicto is extinguished by the death of the
for the funds improperly disbursed although he has no accused while his conviction is on appeal. Article 89 of
criminal liability (U.S. vs. Elvina, 24 Phil. 230; the Revised Penal Code is clear on this matter:
Philippine National Bank vs. Tugab, 66 Phil. 583).
Art. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished.
In view of the foregoing, notwithstanding the dismissal Criminal liability is totally extinguished:
of the appeal of the deceased Sendaydiego insofar as
his criminal liability is concerned, the Court Resolved to 1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal
continue exercising appellate jurisdiction over his penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability
possible civil liability for the money claims of the therefor is extinguished only when the death of the
Province of Pangasinan arising from the alleged offender occurs before final judgment;
criminal acts complained of, as if no criminal case had
been instituted against him, thus making applicable, in xxx xxx xxx
determining his civil liability, Article 30 of the Civil Code
. . . and, for that purpose, his counsel is directed to However, the ruling in Sendaydiego deviated from the
inform this Court within ten (10) days of the names and expressed intent of Article 89. It allowed claims for civil
addresses of the decedent's heirs or whether or not his liability ex delicto to survive by ipso facto treating the
estate is under administration and has a duly civil action impliedly instituted with the criminal, as one
appointed judicial administrator. Said heirs or filed under Article 30, as though no criminal
administrator will be substituted for the deceased proceedings had been filed but merely a separate civil
insofar as the civil action for the civil liability is action. This had the effect of converting such claims
concerned (Secs. 16 and 17, Rule 3, Rules of Court). from one which is dependent on the outcome of the
criminal action to an entirely new and separate one,
Succeeding cases 11 raising the identical issue have the prosecution of which does not even necessitate the
maintained adherence to our ruling in Sendaydiego; in filing of criminal proceedings. 12 One would be hard
other words, they were a reaffirmance of our put to pinpoint the statutory authority for such a
abandonment of the settled rule that a civil liability transformation. It is to be borne in mind that in
solely anchored on the criminal (civil liability ex delicto) recovering civil liability ex delicto, the same has
is extinguished upon dismissal of the entire appeal due perforce to be determined in the criminal action, rooted
to the demise of the accused. as it is in the court's pronouncement of the guilt or
innocence of the accused. This is but to render fealty
But was it judicious to have abandoned this old ruling? to the intendment of Article 100 of the Revised Penal
A re-examination of our decision in Sendaydiego Code which provides that "every person criminally
impels us to revert to the old ruling. liable for a felony is also civilly liable." In such cases,
extinction of the criminal action due to death of the
To restate our resolution of July 8, 1977 in accused pending appeal inevitably signifies the
Sendaydiego: The resolution of the civil action concomitant extinction of the civil liability. Mors Omnia
impliedly instituted in the criminal action can proceed Solvi. Death dissolves all things.
irrespective of the latter's extinction due to death of the
accused pending appeal of his conviction, pursuant to
In sum, in pursuing recovery of civil liability arising from
crime, the final determination of the criminal liability is a Sadly, reliance on this provision of law is misplaced.
condition precedent to the prosecution of the civil From the standpoint of procedural law, this course
action, such that when the criminal action is taken in Sendaydiego cannot be sanctioned. As
extinguished by the demise of accused-appellant correctly observed by Justice Regalado:
pending appeal thereof, said civil action cannot
survive. The claim for civil liability springs out of and is xxx xxx xxx
dependent upon facts which, if true, would constitute a
crime. Such civil liability is an inevitable consequence I do not, however, agree with the justification advanced
of the criminal liability and is to be declared and in both Torrijos and Sendaydiego which, relying on the
enforced in the criminal proceeding. This is to be provisions of Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court,
distinguished from that which is contemplated under drew the strained implication therefrom that where the
Article 30 of the Civil Code which refers to the civil liability instituted together with the criminal
institution of a separate civil action that does not draw liabilities had already passed beyond the judgment of
its life from a criminal proceeding. The Sendaydiego the then Court of First Instance (now the Regional Trial
resolution of July 8, 1977, however, failed to take note Court), the Court of Appeals can continue to exercise
of this fundamental distinction when it allowed the appellate jurisdiction thereover despite the
survival of the civil action for the recovery of civil extinguishment of the component criminal liability of
liability ex delicto by treating the same as a separate the deceased. This pronouncement, which has been
civil action referred to under Article 30. Surely, it will followed in the Court's judgments subsequent and
take more than just a summary judicial pronouncement consonant to Torrijos and Sendaydiego, should be set
to authorize the conversion of said civil action to an aside and abandoned as being clearly erroneous and
independent one such as that contemplated under unjustifiable.
Article 30.
Said Section 21 of Rule 3 is a rule of civil procedure in
Ironically however, the main decision in Sendaydiego ordinary civil actions. There is neither authority nor
did not apply Article 30, the resolution of July 8, 1977 justification for its application in criminal procedure to
notwithstanding. Thus, it was held in the main decision: civil actions instituted together with and as part of
criminal actions. Nor is there any authority in law for
Sendaydiego's appeal will be resolved only for the the summary conversion from the latter category of an
purpose of showing his criminal liability which is the ordinary civil action upon the death of the offender. . . .
basis of the civil liability for which his estate would be
liable. 13 Moreover, the civil action impliedly instituted in a
criminal proceeding for recovery of civil liability ex
In other words, the Court, in resolving the issue of his delicto can hardly be categorized as an ordinary
civil liability, concomitantly made a determination on money claim such as that referred to in Sec. 21, Rule 3
whether Sendaydiego, on the basis of evidenced enforceable before the estate of the deceased
adduced, was indeed guilty beyond reasonable doubt accused.
of committing the offense charged. Thus, it upheld
Sendaydiego's conviction and pronounced the same Ordinary money claims referred to in Section 21, Rule
as the source of his civil liability. Consequently, 3 must be viewed in light of the provisions of Section 5,
although Article 30 was not applied in the final Rule 86 involving claims against the estate, which in
determination of Sendaydiego's civil liability, there was Sendaydiego was held liable for Sendaydiego's civil
a reopening of the criminal action already extinguished liability. "What are contemplated in Section 21 of Rule
which served as basis for Sendaydiego's civil liability. 3, in relation to Section 5 of Rule 86, 14 are contractual
We reiterate: Upon death of the accused pending money claims while the claims involved in civil liability
appeal of his conviction, the criminal action is ex delicto may include even the restitution of personal
extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a or real property." 15 Section 5, Rule 86 provides an
defendant to stand as the accused; the civil action exclusive enumeration of what claims may be filed
instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto against the estate. These are: funeral expenses,
is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the expenses for the last illness, judgments for money and
criminal. claim arising from contracts, expressed or implied. It is
clear that money claims arising from delict do not form
Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court was also part of this exclusive enumeration. Hence, there could
invoked to serve as another basis for the Sendaydiego be no legal basis in (1) treating a civil action ex delicto
resolution of July 8, 1977. In citing Sec. 21, Rule 3 of as an ordinary contractual money claim referred to in
the Rules of Court, the Court made the inference that Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court and (2)
civil actions of the type involved in Sendaydiego allowing it to survive by filing a claim therefor before
consist of money claims, the recovery of which may be the estate of the deceased accused. Rather, it should
continued on appeal if defendant dies pending appeal be extinguished upon extinction of the criminal action
of his conviction by holding his estate liable therefor. engendered by the death of the accused pending
Hence, the Court's conclusion: finality of his conviction.

"When the action is for the recovery of money" "and Accordingly, we rule: if the private offended party, upon
the defendant dies before final judgment in the court of extinction of the civil liability ex delicto desires to
First Instance, it shall be dismissed to be prosecuted in recover damages from the same act or omission
the manner especially provided" in Rule 87 of the complained of, he must subject to Section 1, Rule 111
Rules of Court (Sec. 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court). 16 (1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended)
file a separate civil action, this time predicated not on
The implication is that, if the defendant dies after a the felony previously charged but on other sources of
money judgment had been rendered against him by obligation. The source of obligation upon which the
the Court of First Instance, the action survives him. It separate civil action is premised determines against
may be continued on appeal. whom the same shall be enforced.
executor/administrator or the estate of the accused,
If the same act or omission complained of also arises depending on the source of obligation upon which the
from quasi-delict or may, by provision of law, result in same is based as explained above.
an injury to person or property (real or personal), the
separate civil action must be filed against the executor 4. Finally, the private offended party need not fear a
or administrator 17 of the estate of the accused forfeiture of his right to file this separate civil action by
pursuant to Sec. 1, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court: prescription, in cases where during the prosecution of
the criminal action and prior to its extinction, the
Sec. 1. Actions which may and which may not be private-offended party instituted together therewith the
brought against executor or administrator. No action civil action. In such case, the statute of limitations on
upon a claim for the recovery of money or debt or the civil liability is deemed interrupted during the
interest thereon shall be commenced against the pendency of the criminal case, conformably with
executor or administrator; but actions to recover real or provisions of Article 1155 21 of the Civil Code, that
personal property, or an interest therein, from the should thereby avoid any apprehension on a possible
estate, or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to privation of right by prescription. 22
recover damages for an injury to person or property,
real or personal, may be commenced against him. Applying this set of rules to the case at bench, we hold
that the death of appellant Bayotas extinguished his
This is in consonance with our ruling in Belamala 18 criminal liability and the civil liability based solely on the
where we held that, in recovering damages for injury to act complained of, i.e., rape. Consequently, the appeal
persons thru an independent civil action based on is hereby dismissed without qualification.
Article 33 of the Civil Code, the same must be filed
against the executor or administrator of the estate of WHEREFORE, the appeal of the late Rogelio Bayotas
deceased accused and not against the estate under is DISMISSED with costs de oficio. SO ORDERED.
Sec. 5, Rule 86 because this rule explicitly limits the
claim to those for funeral expenses, expenses for the
last sickness of the decedent, judgment for money and b.) Frias vs San Diego-Sison
claims arising from contract, express or implied.
Contractual money claims, we stressed, refers only to Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by
purely personal obligations other than those which Bobie Rose V. Frias represented by her Attorney-in-
have their source in delict or tort. fact, Marie Regine F. Fujita (petitioner) seeking to
annul the Decision1 dated June 18, 2002 and the
Conversely, if the same act or omission complained of Resolution2 dated September 11, 2002 of the Court of
also arises from contract, the separate civil action must Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 52839.
be filed against the estate of the accused, pursuant to
Sec. 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner is the owner of a house and lot located at
No. 589 Batangas East, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa,
From this lengthy disquisition, we summarize our ruling Metro Manila, which she acquired from Island Masters
herein: Realty and Development Corporation (IMRDC) by
virtue of a Deed of Sale dated Nov. 16, 1990.3 The
1. Death of the accused pending appeal of his property is covered by TCT No. 168173 of the Register
conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as of Deeds of Makati in the name of IMRDC.4
the civil liability based solely thereon. As opined by
Justice Regalado, in this regard, "the death of the On December 7, 1990, petitioner, as the FIRST
accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal PARTY, and Dra. Flora San Diego-Sison (respondent),
liability and only the civil liability directly arising from as the SECOND PARTY, entered into a Memorandum
and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil of Agreement5 over the property with the following
liability ex delicto in senso strictiore." terms:

2. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the
notwithstanding the death of accused, if the same may sum of THREE MILLION PESOS (P3,000,000.00)
also be predicated on a source of obligation other than receipt of which is hereby acknowledged by the FIRST
delict. 19 Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates PARTY from the SECOND PARTY, the parties have
these other sources of obligation from which the civil agreed as follows:
liability may arise as a result of the same act or
omission: 1. That the SECOND PARTY has a period of Six (6)
months from the date of the execution of this contract
a) Law 20 within which to notify the FIRST PARTY of her
intention to purchase the aforementioned parcel of land
b) Contracts together within (sic) the improvements thereon at the
price of SIX MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND
c) Quasi-contracts PESOS (P6,400,000.00). Upon notice to the FIRST
PARTY of the SECOND PARTYs intention to
d) . . . purchase the same, the latter has a period of another
six months within which to pay the remaining balance
e) Quasi-delicts of P3.4 million.

3. Where the civil liability survives, as explained in 2. That prior to the six months period given to the
Number 2 above, an action for recovery therefor may SECOND PARTY within which to decide whether or
be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil not to purchase the above-mentioned property, the
action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 FIRST PARTY may still offer the said property to other
Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended. This persons who may be interested to buy the same
separate civil action may be enforced either against the provided that the amount of P3,000,000.00 given to the
FIRST PARTY BY THE SECOND PARTY shall be paid Petitioner filed an Amended Answer16 alleging that the
to the latter including interest based on prevailing Memorandum of Agreement was conceived and
compounded bank interest plus the amount of the sale arranged by her lawyer, Atty. Carmelita Lozada, who is
in excess of P7,000,000.00 should the property be sold also respondents lawyer; that she was asked to sign
at a price more than P7 million. the agreement without being given the chance to read
the same; that the title to the property and the Deed of
3. That in case the FIRST PARTY has no other buyer Sale between her and the IMRDC were entrusted to
within the first six months from the execution of this Atty. Lozada for safekeeping and were never turned
contract, no interest shall be charged by the SECOND over to respondent as there was no consummated sale
PARTY on the P3 million however, in the event that on yet; that out of the two million pesos cash paid, Atty.
the sixth month the SECOND PARTY would decide not Lozada took the one million pesos which has not been
to purchase the aforementioned property, the FIRST returned, thus petitioner had filed a civil case against
PARTY has a period of another six months within her; that she was never informed of respondents
which to pay the sum of P3 million pesos provided that decision not to purchase the property within the six
the said amount shall earn compounded bank interest month period fixed in the agreement; that when she
for the last six months only. Under this circumstance, demanded the return of TCT No. 168173 and the Deed
the amount of P3 million given by the SECOND of Sale between her and the IMRDC from Atty. Lozada,
PARTY shall be treated as [a] loan and the property the latter gave her these documents in a brown
shall be considered as the security for the mortgage envelope on May 5, 1991 which her secretary placed in
which can be enforced in accordance with law. her attache case; that the envelope together with her
other personal things were lost when her car was
x x x x. forcibly opened the following day; that she sought the
help of Atty. Lozada who advised her to secure a
Petitioner received from respondent two million pesos police report, to execute an affidavit of loss and to get
in cash and one million pesos in a post-dated check the services of another lawyer to file a petition for the
dated February 28, 1990, instead of 1991, which issuance of an owners duplicate copy; that the petition
rendered said check stale.7 Petitioner then gave for the issuance of a new owners duplicate copy was
respondent TCT No. 168173 in the name of IMRDC filed on her behalf without her knowledge and neither
and the Deed of Absolute Sale over the property did she sign the petition nor testify in court as falsely
between petitioner and IMRDC. claimed for she was abroad; that she was a victim of
the manipulations of Atty. Lozada and respondent as
Respondent decided not to purchase the property and shown by the filing of criminal charges for perjury and
notified petitioner through a letter8 dated March 20, false testimony against her; that no interest could be
1991, which petitioner received only on June 11, due as there was no valid mortgage over the property
1991,9 reminding petitioner of their agreement that the as the principal obligation is vitiated with fraud and
amount of two million pesos which petitioner received deception. She prayed for the dismissal of the
from respondent should be considered as a loan complaint, counter-claim for damages and attorneys
payable within six months. Petitioner subsequently fees.
failed to pay respondent the amount of two million
pesos. Trial on the merits ensued. On January 31, 1996, the
RTC issued a decision,17 the dispositive portion of
On April 1, 1993, respondent filed with the Regional which reads:
Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, a complaint10 for sum of
money with preliminary attachment against petitioner. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby RENDERED:
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 93-65367
and raffled to Branch 30. Respondent alleged the 1) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of P2
foregoing facts and in addition thereto averred that Million plus interest thereon at the rate of thirty two
petitioner tried to deprive her of the security for the (32%) per cent per annum beginning December 7,
loan by making a false report11 of the loss of her 1991 until fully paid.
owners copy of TCT No. 168173 to the Tagig Police
Station on June 3, 1991, executing an affidavit of loss 2) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of
and by filing a petition12 for the issuance of a new P70,000.00 representing premiums paid by plaintiff on
owners duplicate copy of said title with the RTC of the attachment bond with legal interest thereon
Makati, Branch 142; that the petition was granted in an counted from the date of this decision until fully paid.
Order13 dated August 31, 1991; that said Order was
subsequently set aside in an Order dated April 10, 3) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of
199214 where the RTC Makati granted respondents P100,000.00 by way of moral, corrective and
petition for relief from judgment due to the fact that exemplary damages.
respondent is in possession of the owners duplicate
copy of TCT No. 168173, and ordered the provincial 4) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff attorneys fees of
public prosecutor to conduct an investigation of P100,000.00 plus cost of litigation.18
petitioner for perjury and false testimony. Respondent
prayed for the ex-parte issuance of a writ of preliminary The RTC found that petitioner was under obligation to
attachment and payment of two million pesos with pay respondent the amount of two million pesos with
interest at 36% per annum from December 7, 1991, compounded interest pursuant to their Memorandum of
P100,000.00 moral, corrective and exemplary Agreement; that the fraudulent scheme employed by
damages and P200,000.00 for attorneys fees. petitioner to deprive respondent of her only security to
her loaned money when petitioner executed an
In an Order dated April 6, 1993, the Executive Judge of affidavit of loss and instituted a petition for the
the RTC of Manila issued a writ of preliminary issuance of an owners duplicate title knowing the
attachment upon the filing of a bond in the amount of same was in respondents possession, entitled
two million pesos.15 respondent to moral damages; and that petitioners
bare denial cannot be accorded credence because her
testimony and that of her witness did not appear to be ATTORNEYS FEES IS PROPER EVEN IF NOT
credible. MENTIONED IN THE TEXT OF THE DECISION.22

The RTC further found that petitioner admitted that she Petitioner contends that the interest, whether at 32%
received from respondent the two million pesos in cash per annum awarded by the trial court or at 25% per
but the fact that petitioner gave the one million pesos annum as modified by the CA which should run from
to Atty. Lozada was without respondents knowledge June 7, 1991 until fully paid, is contrary to the parties
thus it is not binding on respondent; that respondent Memorandum of Agreement; that the agreement
had also proven that in 1993, she initially paid the sum provides that if respondent would decide not to
of P30,000.00 as premium for the issuance of the purchase the property, petitioner has the period of
attachment bond, P20,000.00 for its renewal in 1994, another six months to pay the loan with compounded
and P20,000.00 for the renewal in 1995, thus plaintiff bank interest for the last six months only; that the CAs
should be reimbursed considering that she was ruling that a loan always bears interest otherwise it is
compelled to go to court and ask for a writ of not a loan is contrary to Art. 1956 of the New Civil
preliminary attachment to protect her rights under the Code which provides that no interest shall be due
agreement. unless it has been expressly stipulated in writing.

Petitioner filed her appeal with the CA. In a Decision We are not persuaded.
dated June 18, 2002, the CA affirmed the RTC
decision with modification, the dispositive portion of While the CAs conclusion, that a loan always bears
which reads: interest otherwise it is not a loan, is flawed since a
simple loan may be gratuitous or with a stipulation to
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision pay interest,23 we find no error committed by the CA in
appealed from is MODIFIED in the sense that the rate awarding a 25% interest per annum on the two-million
of interest is reduced from 32% to 25% per annum, peso loan even beyond the second six months
effective June 7, 1991 until fully paid.19 stipulated period.

The CA found that: petitioner gave the one million The Memorandum of Agreement executed between
pesos to Atty. Lozada partly as her commission and the petitioner and respondent on December 7, 1990 is
partly as a loan; respondent did not replace the the law between the parties. In resolving an issue
mistakenly dated check of one million pesos because based upon a contract, we must first examine the
she had decided not to buy the property and petitioner contract itself, especially the provisions thereof which
knew of her decision as early as April 1991; the award are relevant to the controversy.24 The general rule is
of moral damages was warranted since even granting that if the terms of an agreement are clear and leave
petitioner had no hand in the filing of the petition for the no doubt as to the intention of the contracting parties,
issuance of an owners copy, she executed an affidavit the literal meaning of its stipulations shall prevail.25 It
of loss of TCT No. 168173 when she knew all along is further required that the various stipulations of a
that said title was in respondents possession; contract shall be interpreted together, attributing to the
petitioners claim that she thought the title was lost doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of
when the brown envelope given to her by Atty. Lozada them taken jointly.26
was stolen from her car was hollow; that such deceitful
conduct caused respondent serious anxiety and In this case, the phrase "for the last six months only"
emotional distress. should be taken in the context of the entire agreement.
We agree with and adopt the CAs interpretation of the
The CA concluded that there was no basis for phrase in this wise:
petitioner to say that the interest should be charged for
six months only and no more; that a loan always bears Their agreement speaks of two (2) periods of six
interest otherwise it is not a loan; that interest should months each. The first six-month period was given to
commence on June 7, 199120 with compounded bank plaintiff-appellee (respondent) to make up her mind
interest prevailing at the time the two million was whether or not to purchase defendant-appellants
considered as a loan which was in June 1991; that the (petitioner's) property. The second six-month period
bank interest rate for loans secured by a real estate was given to defendant-appellant to pay the P2 million
mortgage in 1991 ranged from 25% to 32% per annum loan in the event that plaintiff-appellee decided not to
as certified to by Prudential Bank,21 that in fairness to buy the subject property in which case interest will be
petitioner, the rate to be charged should be 25% only. charged "for the last six months only", referring to the
second six-month period. This means that no interest
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by will be charged for the first six-month period while
the CA in a Resolution dated September 11, 2002. appellee was making up her mind whether to buy the
property, but only for the second period of six months
Hence the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari filed after appellee had decided not to buy the property.
by petitioner raising the following issues: This is the meaning of the phrase "for the last six
months only". Certainly, there is nothing in their
(A) WHETHER OR NOT THE COMPOUNDED BANK agreement that suggests that interest will be charged
INTEREST SHOULD BE LIMITED TO SIX (6) for six months only even if it takes defendant-appellant
MONTHS AS CONTAINED IN THE MEMORANDUM an eternity to pay the loan.27
OF AGREEMENT.
The agreement that the amount given shall bear
(B) WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT IS compounded bank interest for the last six months only,
ENTITLED TO MORAL DAMAGES. i.e., referring to the second six-month period, does not
mean that interest will no longer be charged after the
(C) WHETHER OR NOT THE GRANT OF second six-month period since such stipulation was
CORRECTIVE AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND made on the logical and reasonable expectation that
such amount would be paid within the date stipulated.
Considering that petitioner failed to pay the amount as the security for the mortgage. It was testified to by
given which under the Memorandum of Agreement respondent that after they executed the agreement on
shall be considered as a loan, the monetary interest for December 7, 1990, petitioner gave her the owners
the last six months continued to accrue until actual copy of the title to the property, the Deed of Sale
payment of the loaned amount. between petitioner and IMRDC, the certificate of
occupancy, and the certificate of the Secretary of the
The payment of regular interest constitutes the price or IMRDC who signed the Deed of Sale.34 However,
cost of the use of money and thus, until the principal notwithstanding that all those documents were in
sum due is returned to the creditor, regular interest respondents possession, petitioner executed an
continues to accrue since the debtor continues to use affidavit of loss that the owners copy of the title and
such principal amount.28 It has been held that for a the Deed of Sale were lost.
debtor to continue in possession of the principal of the
loan and to continue to use the same after maturity of Although petitioner testified that her execution of the
the loan without payment of the monetary interest, affidavit of loss was due to the fact that she was of the
would constitute unjust enrichment on the part of the belief that since she had demanded from Atty. Lozada
debtor at the expense of the creditor.29 the return of the title, she thought that the brown
envelope with markings which Atty. Lozada gave her
Petitioner and respondent stipulated that the loaned on May 5, 1991 already contained the title and the
amount shall earn compounded bank interests, and per Deed of Sale as those documents were in the same
the certification issued by Prudential Bank, the interest brown envelope which she gave to Atty. Lozada prior
rate for loans in 1991 ranged from 25% to 32% per to the transaction with respondent.35 Such statement
annum. The CA reduced the interest rate to 25% remained a bare statement. It was not proven at all
instead of the 32% awarded by the trial court which since Atty. Lozada had not taken the stand to
petitioner no longer assailed.1awphi1.nt corroborate her claim. In fact, even petitioners own
witness, Benilda Ynfante (Ynfante), was not able to
In Bautista v. Pilar Development Corp.,30 we upheld establish petitioner's claim that the title was returned by
the validity of a 21% per annum interest on a Atty. Lozada in view of Ynfante's testimony that after
P142,326.43 loan. In Garcia v. Court of Appeals,31 we the brown envelope was given to petitioner, the latter
sustained the agreement of the parties to a 24% per passed it on to her and she placed it in petitioners
annum interest on an P8,649,250.00 loan. Thus, the attach case36 and did not bother to look at the
interest rate of 25% per annum awarded by the CA to a envelope.37
P2 million loan is fair and reasonable.
It is clear therefrom that petitioners execution of the
Petitioner next claims that moral damages were affidavit of loss became the basis of the filing of the
awarded on the erroneous finding that she used a petition with the RTC for the issuance of new owners
fraudulent scheme to deprive respondent of her duplicate copy of TCT No. 168173. Petitioners
security for the loan; that such finding is baseless since actuation would have deprived respondent of the
petitioner was acquitted in the case for perjury and security for her loan were it not for respondents timely
false testimony filed by respondent against her. filing of a petition for relief whereby the RTC set aside
its previous order granting the issuance of new title.
We are not persuaded. Thus, the award of moral damages is in order.

Article 31 of the Civil Code provides that when the civil The entitlement to moral damages having been
action is based on an obligation not arising from the act established, the award of exemplary damages is
or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action proper.38 Exemplary damages may be imposed upon
may proceed independently of the criminal petitioner by way of example or correction for the
proceedings and regardless of the result of the public good.39 The RTC awarded the amount of
latter.32 P100,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages. While
the award of moral and exemplary damages in an
While petitioner was acquitted in the false testimony aggregate amount may not be the usual way of
and perjury cases filed by respondent against her, awarding said damages,40 no error has been
those actions are entirely distinct from the collection of committed by CA. There is no question that respondent
sum of money with damages filed by respondent is entitled to moral and exemplary damages.
against petitioner.
Petitioner argues that the CA erred in awarding
We agree with the findings of the trial court and the CA attorneys fees because the trial courts decision did
that petitioners act of trying to deprive respondent of not explain the findings of facts and law to justify the
the security of her loan by executing an affidavit of loss award of attorneys fees as the same was mentioned
of the title and instituting a petition for the issuance of a only in the dispositive portion of the RTC decision.
new owners duplicate copy of TCT No. 168173 entitles
respondent to moral damages.1a\^/phi1.net Moral We agree.
damages may be awarded in culpa contractual or
breach of contract cases when the defendant acted Article 220841 of the New Civil Code enumerates the
fraudulently or in bad faith. Bad faith does not simply instances where such may be awarded and, in all
connote bad judgment or negligence; it imports a cases, it must be reasonable, just and equitable if the
dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and same were to be granted.42 Attorney's fees as part of
conscious doing of wrong. It partakes of the nature of damages are not meant to enrich the winning party at
fraud.33 the expense of the losing litigant. They are not
awarded every time a party prevails in a suit because
The Memorandum of Agreement provides that in the of the policy that no premium should be placed on the
event that respondent opts not to buy the property, the right to litigate.43 The award of attorney's fees is the
money given by respondent to petitioner shall be exception rather than the general rule. As such, it is
treated as a loan and the property shall be considered necessary for the trial court to make findings of facts
and law that would bring the case within the exception entitled "People of the Philippines versus Reynaldo
and justify the grant of such award. The matter of Tuanda, et al." charging petitioners thus:
attorney's fees cannot be mentioned only in the
dispositive portion of the decision.44 They must be INFORMATION
clearly explained and justified by the trial court in the
body of its decision. On appeal, the CA is precluded The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer of the
from supplementing the bases for awarding attorneys Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses REYNALDO V.
fees when the trial court failed to discuss in its Decision TUANDA, HERMENEGILDO G. FABURADA,
the reasons for awarding the same. Consequently, the MANUEL LIM, NICANOR P. AGOSTO, ERENIETA K.
award of attorney's fees should be deleted. MENDOZA, MAXIMO VIERNES, HACUBINA V.
SERILLO, and SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA of Violation
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended,
Decision dated June 18, 2002 and the Resolution committed as follows:
dated September 11, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 52839 are AFFIRMED with That during the period from February 1989 to February
MODIFICATION that the award of attorneys fees is 1991 and subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of
DELETED. Jimalalud, Negros Oriental, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, accused, all public officers,
No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. Mayor REYNALDO V. TUANDA, Vice-Mayor
HERMENEGILDO G. FABURADA, Sangguniang
ART 36 PREJUDICIAL QUESTION Members MANUEL LIM, NICANOR P. AGOSTO,
ERENIETA K. MENDOZA, MAXIMO A. VIERNES,
a.) Tuanda vs SANDIGANBAYAN HACUBINA V. SERILLO, ILUMINADO D.
ESTRELLANES and SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA while
Petitioners institute this special civil action for certiorari in the performance of their official functions and taking
and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of advantage of their public positions, with evident bad
Court to set aside the resolution of the Sandiganbayan faith, manifest partiality, and conspiring and
dated 17 February 1992 and its orders dated 19 confederating with each other did, then and there,
August 1992 and 13 May 1993 in Criminal Case No. wilfully and unlawfully cause undue injury to Sectoral
16936 entitled "People of the Philippines versus Members Bartolome M. Binaohan and Delia T.
Reynaldo Tuanda, et al." denying petitioners' motion Estrellanes by refusing to pay despite demand the
for suspension of their arraignment. amount of NINETY FIVE THOUSAND THREE
HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (P95,350.00) and ONE
The present controversy arose from the following HUNDRED EIGHT THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED
antecedents: PESOS (P108,900.00) representing respectively their
per diems, salaries and other privileges and benefits,
On 9 February 1989, private respondents Delia and such undue injury continuing to the present to the
Estrellanes and Bartolome Binaohan were designated prejudice and damage of Bartolome Binaohan and
as industrial labor sectoral representative and Delia Estrellanes.
agricultural labor sectoral representative respectively,
for the Sangguniang Bayan of Jimalalud, Province of CONTRARY TO LAW. 1
Negros Oriental by then Secretary Luis T. Santos of
the Department of Local Government. Private On 9 September 1991, petitioners filed a motion with
respondents Binaohan and Estrellanes took their oath the Sandiganbayan for suspension of the proceedings
of office on 16 February 1989 and 17 February 1989, in Criminal Case No. 16936 on the ground that a
respectively. prejudicial question exists in Civil Case No. 9955
pending before the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete
Subsequently, petitioners filed an undated petition with City. 2
the Office of the President for review and recall of said
designations. The latter, however, in a letter dated 20 On 16 January 1992, the Regional Trial Court rendered
March 1989, denied the petition and enjoined Mayor a decision declaring null and void ab initio the
Reynaldo Tuanda to recognize private respondents as designations issued by the Department of Local
sectoral representatives. Government to the private respondents as sectoral
representatives for having been done in violation of
On 4 May 1990, private respondents filed a petition for Section 146 (2) of B.P. Blg. 337, otherwise known as
mandamus with the Regional Trial Court of Negros the Local Government Code. 3
Oriental, Branch 35, docketed as Special Civil Action
No. 9661, for recognition as members of the The trial court expounded thus:
Sangguniang Bayan. It was dismissed on 23 July
1991. The Supreme Court in the case of Johnny D.
Supangan Jr. v. Luis T. Santos, et al., G.R. No. 84663,
along with 7 companion cases of similar import, (G.R.
Thereafter, on 20 June 1991, petitioners filed an action Nos. 05012, 87601, 87602, 87792, 87935, 88072, and
with the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City to 90205) all promulgated on August 24, 1990, ruled that:
declare null and void the designations of private
respondents as sectoral representatives, docketed as B.P. Blg. 337 explicitly required that before the
Civil Case No. 9955 entitled "Reynaldo Tuanda, et al. President (or the Secretary of the Department of Local
versus Secretary of the Department of Local Government) may appoint members of the local
Government, et al." legislative bodies to represent the Industrial and
Agricultural Labor Sectors, there must be a
On 21 July 1991, an information was filed before the determination to be made by the Sanggunian itself that
Sandiganbayan, docketed as Criminal Case No. 16936 the said sectors are of sufficient number in the city or
municipality to warrant representation after
consultation with associations and persons belonging decide that the said appointments of the private
to the sector concerned. complainants are null and void, still the private
complainants are entitled to their salaries and
The Supreme Court further ruled compensation for service they have actually rendered,
for the reason that before such judicial declaration of
For that matter, the Implementing Rules and nullity, the private complainants are considered at least
Regulations of the Local Government Code even de facto public officers acting as such on the basis of
prescribe the time and manner by which such apparently valid appointments issued by competent
determination is to be conducted by the Sanggunian. authorities. In other words, regardless of the decision
that may be rendered in Civil Case
Consequently, in cases where the Sanggunian No. 9955, the private complainants are entitled to their
concerned has not yet determined that the Industrial withheld salaries for the services they have actually
and Agricultural Labor Sectors in their particular city or rendered as sectoral representatives of the said
municipality are of sufficient number to warrant Sangguniang Bayan. Hence, the decision that may be
representation, there will absolutely be no basis for the rendered by the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No.
designation/appointments. 9955 would not be determinative of the innocence or
guilt of the accused.
In the process of such inquiry as to the sufficiency in
number of the sector concerned to warrant WHEREFORE, the subject Petition for the Suspension
representation, the Sanggunian is enjoined by law of Proceedings in Virtue of Prejudicial Question filed by
(B.P. Blg. 337) to consult with associations and the accused through counsel, is hereby DENIED for
persons belonging to the sector concerned. lack of merit.
Consultation with the sector concerned is made a pre-
requisite. This is so considering that those who belong SO ORDERED. 5
to the said sector are the ones primarily interested in
being represented in the Sanggunian. In the same Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the
aforecited case, the Supreme Court considers such aforementioned resolution in view of the decision
prior determination by the Sanggunian itself (not by promulgated by the trial court nullifying the
any other person or body) as a condition sine qua non appointments of private respondents but it was,
to a valid appointment or designation. likewise, denied in an order issued by respondent
Sandiganbayan on 19 August 1992 on the justification
Since in the present case, there was total absence of that the grounds stated in the said motion were a mere
the required prior determination by the Sangguniang rehash of petitioners' original motion to hold the case in
Bayan of Jimalalud, this Court cannot help but declare abeyance. 6 The dispositive portion of its order reads
the designations of private defendants as sectoral as follows:
representatives null and void.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the
This verdict is not without precedence. In several arraignment of the accused which was scheduled
similar cases, the Supreme Court invariably nullified today is cancelled. Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda,
the designations where the requirements of Sec. 146 Hermenegildo Faburada, Nicanor P. Agosto, Erenieta
(2), B.P. Blg. 337 were not complied with. Just to cite K. Mendoza, Hacubina V. Serillo and Iluminado
one case, the Supreme Court ruled: Estrellanes are, however, hereby ordered to show
cause in writing within ten (10) days from service
There is no certification from the Sangguniang Bayan hereof why they should not be cited for contempt of
of Valenzuela that the sectors concerned are of court for their failure to appear in court today for
sufficient number to warrant representation and there arraignment.
was no consultation whatsoever with the associations
and persons belonging to the Industrial and Agricultural In case of an adverse resolution on the motion to
Labor Sectors. Therefore, the appointment of private quash which is to be filed by the counsel for the
respondents Romeo F. Bularan and Rafael Cortez are defense, set this case for arraignment, pre-trial and
null and void (Romeo Llanado, et al. v. Hon. Luis trial on January 4 & 5, 1993, on all dates the trial to
Santos, et al., G.R. No. 86394, August 24, 1990). 4 start at 8:30 o'clock in the morning.

Private respondents appealed the aforestated decision SO ORDERED. 7


to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No.
36769, where the same is currently pending resolution. On 19 February 1993, respondent Sandiganbayan
issued an order holding consideration of all incidents
Meanwhile, on 17 February 1992, respondent pending the issuance of an extended resolution. 8
Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying the motion
for suspension of proceedings filed by petitioners. Said No such resolution, however, was issued and in its
respondent Sandiganbayan: assailed order dated 13 May 1992, respondent
Sandiganbayan set the arraignment of petitioners on
Despite the pendency of Civil Case No. 9955 of the 30 June 1993. The dispositive portion of the order
Regional Trial Court of Negros Oriental, it appears, reads:
nevertheless, that the private complainants have been
rendering services on the basis of their respective WHEREFORE, considering the absence of the
appointments as sectoral members of the accused from the scheduled hearing today which We
Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Jimalalud, deem to be excusable, reset this case for arraignment
Negros Oriental; and that their said appointments enjoy on June 30, 1993 and for trial on the merits on June 30
the presumption of regularity. Having rendered such and July 1 and 2, 1993, on all dates the trial to start at
services, the private complainants are entitled to the 8:30 o'clock in the morning.
salaries attached to their office. Even assuming
arguendo that the said Regional Trial Court shall later
Give proper notice to the accused and principal The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial
counsel, Atty. Alfonso Briones. Considering that the question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. 14 It has
accused come all the way from Himalalud, Negros two essential elements:
Oriental, no postponement will be allowed.
(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or
SO ORDERED. 9 intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal
action; and
Hence, this special civil action for certiorari and
prohibition where petitioners attribute to respondent (b) the resolution of such issue determines
Sandiganbayan the following errors: whether or not the criminal action may proceed. 15

A. The Respondent Court committed grave abuse of Applying the foregoing principles to the case at bench,
discretion in denying petitioners' motions for the we find that the issue in the civil case, CA-G.R. CV No.
suspension of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 36769, constitutes a valid prejudicial question to
16936 in spite of the pendency of a prejudicial issue warrant suspension of the arraignment and further
before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 36769; proceedings in the criminal case against petitioners.

B. The Respondent Court acted without or in excess of All the elements of a prejudicial question are clearly
jurisdiction in refusing to suspend the proceedings that and unmistakably present in this case. There is no
would entail a retrial and rehearing by it of the basic doubt that the facts and issues involved in the civil
issue involved, i.e., the validity of the appointments of action (No. 36769) and the criminal case (No. 16936)
private respondents and their entitlement to are closely related. The filing of the criminal case was
compensation which is already pending resolution by premised on petitioners' alleged partiality and evident
the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 36769; and bad faith in not paying private respondents' salaries
and per diems as sectoral representatives, while the
C. The Respondent Court committed grave abuse of civil action was instituted precisely to resolve whether
discretion and/or acted without or in excess of or not the designations of private respondents as
jurisdiction in effectively allowing petitioners to be sectoral representatives were made in accordance with
prosecuted under two alternative theories that private law.
respondents are de jure and/or de facto officers in
violation of petitioners' right to due process. 10 More importantly, ,the resolution of the civil case will
certainly determine if there will still be any reason to
In sum, the only issue in the case at bench is whether proceed with the criminal action.
or not the legality or validity of private respondents'
designation as sectoral representatives which is Petitioners were criminally charged under the Anti-
pending resolution in CA-G.R. No. 36769 is a Graft & Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019, sec, 3[e]) due
prejudicial question justifying suspension of the to their refusal, allegedly in bad faith and with manifest
proceedings in the criminal case against petitioners. partiality, to pay private respondents' salaries as
sectoral representatives. This refusal, however, was
A prejudicial question is one that must be decided anchored on petitioners' assertion that said
before any criminal prosecution may be instituted or designations were made in violation of the Local
before it may proceed (see Art. 36, Civil Code) Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337) and thus, were null
because a decision on that point is vital to the eventual and void. Therefore, should the Court of Appeals
judgment in the criminal case. Thus, the resolution of uphold the trial court's decision declaring null and void
the prejudicial question is a logical antecedent of the private respondents' designations as sectoral
issues involved in said criminal case. 11 representatives for failure to comply with the provisions
of the Local Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337, sec.
A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in 146[2]), the charges against petitioners would no
a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of longer, so to speak, have a leg to stand on. Petitioners
the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which cannot be accused of bad faith and partiality there
pertains to another tribunal. The prejudicial question being in the first place no obligation on their part to pay
must be determinative of the case before the court but private respondents' claims. Private respondents do
the jurisdiction to try and resolve the question must be not have any legal right to demand salaries, per diems
lodged in another court or tribunal. 12 It is a question and other benefits. In other words, the Court of
based on a fact distinct and separate from "the crime Appeals' resolution of the issues raised in the civil
but so intimately connected with it that it determines action will ultimately determine whether or not there is
the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to basis to proceed with the criminal case.
suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only
that said case involves facts intimately related to those Private respondents insist that even if their
upon which the criminal prosecution would be based designations are nullified, they are entitled to
but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues compensation for actual services rendered. 16 We
raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the disagree. As found by the trial court and as borne out
accused would necessarily be determined. It comes by the records, from the start, private respondents'
into play generally in a situation where a civil action designations as sectoral representatives have been
and a criminal action are both pending and there exists challenged by petitioners. They began with a petition
in the former an issue which must be preemptively filed with the Office of the President copies of which
resolved before the criminal action may proceed, were received by private respondents on 26 February
because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action 1989, barely eight (8) days after they took their oath of
is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of office. 17 Hence, private respondents' claim that they
the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal have actually rendered services as sectoral
case." 13 representatives has not been established.
Finally, we find unmeritorious respondent dated September 16, 1997, found probable cause and
Sandiganbayan's thesis that even in the event that ordered the filing of an Information[6] against them.
private respondents' designations are finally declared The case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 236176, was
invalid, they may still be considered de facto public filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City,
officers entitled to compensation for services actually Branch 61.
rendered.
On March 20, 1998, petitioner, in order to forestall the
The conditions and elements of de facto officership are issuance of a warrant for his arrest, filed a Motion to
the following: Defer Proceedings Including the Issuance of the
Warrant of Arrest in the criminal case. Petitioner
1) There must be a de jure office; argued that the pendency of the civil case for
declaration of nullity of his marriage posed a prejudicial
2) There must be color of right or general question to the determination of the criminal case.
acquiescence by the public; and Judge Alden Vasquez Cervantes denied the foregoing
motion in the Order[7] dated August 31, 1998.
3) There must be actual physical possession of the Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the said Order
office in good faith. 18 of denial was likewise denied in an Order dated
December 9, 1998.
One can qualify as a de facto officer only if all the
aforestated elements are present. There can be no de In view of the denial of his motion to defer the
facto officer where there is no de jure office, although proceedings in the concubinage case, petitioner went
there may be a de facto officer in a de jure office. 19 to the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 139
on certiorari, questioning the Orders dated August 31,
WHEREFORE, the resolution dated 17 February 1992 1998 and December 9, 1998 issued by Judge
and orders dated 19 August 1992 and 13 May 1993 of Cervantes and praying for the issuance of a writ of
respondent Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. preliminary injunction.[8] In an Order[9] dated January
16936 are hereby SET ASIDE. Respondent 28, 1999, the Regional Trial Court of Makati denied the
Sandiganbayan is enjoined from proceeding with the petition for certiorari. Said Court subsequently issued
arraignment and trial of petitioners in Criminal Case another Order[10] dated February 23, 1999, denying
No. 16936 pending final resolution of CA-G.R. CV No. his motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his
36769. SO ORDERED. petition.

Undaunted, petitioner filed the instant petition for


b.) Beltran vs People review.

This petition for review, filed under Rule 45 of the 1997 Petitioner contends that the pendency of the petition
Rules of Civil Procedure, seeks to review and set aside for declaration of nullity of his marriage based on
the Order dated January 28, 1999 issued by Judge psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family
Florentino A. Tuazon, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of Code is a prejudicial question that should merit the
Makati City, Branch 139 in Special Civil Case No. 98- suspension of the criminal case for concubinage filed
3056, entitled "Meynardo Beltran vs. People of the against him by his wife.
Philippines and Hon. Judge Alden Cervantes of the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati city, Branch 61." The Petitioner also contends that there is a possibility that
said Order denied petitioners prayer for the issuance of two conflicting decisions might result from the civil case
a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Judge for annulment of marriage and the criminal case for
Cervantes from proceeding with the trial of Criminal concubinage. In the civil case, the trial court might
Case No. 236176, a concubinage case against declare the marriage as valid by dismissing petitioner's
petitioner on the ground that the pending petition for complaint but in the criminal case, the trial court might
declaration of nullity of marriage filed by petitioner acquit petitioner because the evidence shows that his
against his wife constitutes a prejudicial question. marriage is void on ground of psychological incapacity.
Petitioner submits that the possible conflict of the
The antecedent facts of the case are undisputed: courts' ruling regarding petitioner's marriage can be
avoided, if the criminal case will be suspended, until
Petitioner Meynardo Beltran and wife Charmaine E. the court rules on the validity of marriage; that if
Felix were married on June 16, 1973 at the Immaculate petitioner's marriage is declared void by reason of
Concepcion Parish Church in Cubao, Quezon City.[1] psychological incapacity then by reason of the
arguments submitted in the subject petition, his
On February 7, 1997, after twenty-four years of marriage has never existed; and that, accordingly,
marriage and four children,[2] petitioner filed a petition petitioner could not be convicted in the criminal case
for nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological because he was never before a married man.
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code before
Branch 87 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. Petitioner's contentions are untenable.
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-97-
30192.[3] The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial
question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. It has two
In her Answer to the said petition, petitioner's wife essential elements: (a) the civil action involves an
Charmaine Felix alleged that it was petitioner who issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in
abandoned the conjugal home and lived with a certain the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue
woman named Milagros Salting.[4] Charmaine determines whether or not the criminal action may
subsequently filed a criminal complaint for proceed.[11]
concubinage[5] under Article 334 of the Revised Penal
Code against petitioner and his paramour before the The pendency of the case for declaration of nullity of
City Prosecutor's Office of Makati who, in a Resolution petitioner's marriage is not a prejudicial question to the
concubinage case. For a civil case to be considered judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be
prejudicial to a criminal action as to cause the submitted to judgment of the competent courts and
suspension of the latter pending the final determination only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can
of the civil case, it must appear not only that the said it be held as void, and so long as there is no such
civil case involves the same facts upon which the declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists
criminal prosecution would be based, but also that in for all intents and purposes. Therefore, he who
the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the cohabits with a woman not his wife before the judicial
aforesaid civil action, the guilt or innocence of the declaration of nullity of the marriage assumes the risk
accused would necessarily be determined. of being prosecuted for concubinage. The lower court
therefore, has not erred in affirming the Orders of the
Article 40 of the Family Code provides: judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court ruling that
pendency of a civil action for nullity of marriage does
"The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be not pose a prejudicial question in a criminal case for
invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely concubinage.
of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage
void." WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the instant petition is
DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.
In Domingo vs. Court of Appeals,[12] this Court ruled
that the import of said provision is that for purposes of
remarriage, the only legally acceptable basis for c.) PASI vs Lichauco
declaring a previous marriage an absolute nullity is a
final judgment declaring such previous marriage void, This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks the
whereas, for purposes of other than remarriage, other reversal of the Decision1 dated 21 February 2000 of
evidence is acceptable. The pertinent portions of said the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. No. SP 49422. The
Decision read: assailed Decision authorized the dismissal of a civil
complaint against respondent Josefina Trinidad-
"xxx Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances Lichauco (Lichauco), former Undersecretary for
where a party might well invoke the absolute nullity of a Communications of the Department of Transportation
previous marriage for purposes other than remarriage, and Communication (DOTC), on the premise that the
such as in case of an action for liquidation, partition, complaint constituted a suit against the State.
distribution and separation of property between the
erstwhile spouses, as well as an action for the custody A brief rundown of the relevant facts is in order.
and support of their common children and the delivery
of the latters' presumptive legitimes. In such cases, Petitioner Philippine Agila Satellite Inc. (PASI) is a duly
evidence needs must be adduced, testimonial or organized corporation, whose President and Chief
documentary, to prove the existence of grounds Executive Officer is co-petitioner Michael C.U. De
rendering such a previous marriage an absolute nullity. Guzman. PASI was established by a consortium of
These needs not be limited solely to an earlier final private telecommunications carriers2 which in 1994
judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding
void." (MOU) with the DOTC, through its then Secretary
Jesus Garcia, concerning the planned launch of a
So that in a case for concubinage, the accused, like Philippine-owned satellite into outer space. Under the
the herein petitioner need not present a final judgment MOU, the launch of the satellite was to be an endeavor
declaring his marriage void for he can adduce of the private sector, and the satellite itself to be owned
evidence in the criminal case of the nullity of his by the Filipino-owned consortium (subsequently
marriage other than proof of a final judgment declaring organized as PASI).3 The consortium was to grant the
his marriage void. Philippine government one (1) transponder free of
charge for the government's exclusive use for non-
With regard to petitioner's argument that he could be commercial purpose, as well as the right of first refusal
acquitted of the charge of concubinage should his to another one (1) transponder in the Philippine
marriage be declared null and void, suffice it to state satellite, if available.4 The Philippine government,
that even a subsequent pronouncement that his through the DOTC, was tasked under the MOU to
marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense. secure from the International Telecommunication
Union the required orbital slot(s) and frequency
Analogous to this case is that of Landicho vs. assignment(s) for the Philippine satellite.
Reloval[13] cited in Donato vs. Luna[14] where this
Court held that: PASI itself was organized by the consortium in 1996.
The government, together with PASI, coordinated
"xxx Assuming that the first marriage was null and void through the International Telecommunication Union
on the ground alleged by petitioner, that fact would not two (2) orbital slots, designated as 161 East Longitude
be material to the outcome of the criminal case. Parties and 153 East Longitude, for Philippine satellites. On
to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for 28 June 1996, PASI wrote then DOTC Secretary
themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted Amado S. Lagdameo, Jr., seeking for official Philippine
to the judgment of the competent courts and only when government confirmation on the assignment of the two
the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held aforementioned Philippine orbital slots to PASI for its
as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the satellites, which PASI had designated as the Agila
presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, he satellites.5 Secretary Lagdameo, Jr. replied in a letter
who contracts a second marriage before the judicial dated 3 July 1996, confirming "the Philippine
declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the Government's assignment of Philippine orbital slots
risk of being prosecuted for bigamy." 161E and 153E to [PASI] for its [Agila] satellites."6

Thus, in the case at bar it must also be held that PASI avers that after having secured the confirmation
parties to the marriage should not be permitted to from the Philippine government, it proceeded with
preparations for the launching, operation and Defendant Lichauco arrogantly said that she had asked
management of its satellites, including the availment of President Fidel V. Ramos to sue plaintiff Michael de
loans, the increase in its capital, negotiation with Guzman. With the same degree of arrogance she
business partners, and an initial payment of US$3.5 threatened plaintiff corporation not to use the name
Million to the French satellite manufacturer. However, "Agila", otherwise she would fight plaintiff corporation
respondent Lichauco, then DOTC Undersecretary for and would make sure that the name of Agila would
Communications, allegedly "embarked on a crusade to never be given back to plaintiff corporation.
malign the name of [Michael de Guzman] and
sabotage the business of PASI." Lichauco's purported (e) To top it all, defendant Lichauco without basis and
efforts against PASI culminated allegedly in her with evident bad faith, said that plaintiff corporation will
offering orbital slot 153 East Longitude never pay its contractors.

for bidding to other parties sometime in December (f) In December 1997, defendant Lichauco delivered
1997, despite the prior assignment to PASI of the said the coup de' grace. Again, acting unilaterally, without
slot.7 It was later claimed by PASI that Lichauco prior notice to plaintiff corporation and in gross violation
subsequently awarded the orbital slot to an entity of DOTC's earlier assignment to plaintiff corporation of
whose indentity was unknown to PASI.8 orbital slot 153 E, defendant Lichauco offered said slot
to interested applicants. A copy of the notice of offer is
Aggrieved by Lichauco's actions, PASI and De attached as Annex F.
Guzman instituted on 23 January 1998 a civil
complaint against Lichauco, by then the Acting 13. Plaintiffs learned of defendant Lichauco's acts after
Secretary of the DOTC, and the "Unknown Awardee" orbital slot 153 E was offered for bidding. To plaintiff
who was to be the recipient of orbital slot 153 East coproration's knowledge, the orbital slot was eventually
Longitude. The complaint, alleging three (3) causes of awarded to defendant Unknown Awardee.
action, was for injunction, declaration of nullity of
award, and damages. The first cause of action, for x x x x10
injunction, sought to establish that the award of orbital
slot 153 East Longitude should be enjoined since the The complaint alleged that since Lichauco's act of
DOTC had previously assigned the same orbital slot to offering and awarding orbital slot 153 East Longitude
PASI. The second cause of action, for declaration of was patently illegal and violative of DOTC's prior
nullity of award, averred that the award to the unknown commitment to PASI, Lichauco should be enjoined
bidder is null and void, as it was rendered by Lichauco from performing any acts and entering into or
beyond her authority.9 executing any agreement or arrangement of whatever
nature in connection with the said orbital slot. The
The third cause of action, for damages, imputed complaint also averred that the purported award of the
several acts to Lichauco as part of her alleged orbital slot to the "Unknown Awardee was illegal, and
"crusade" to malign the name of plaintiff [D]e Guzman thus should be declared null and void. Finally, the
and sabotage the business of [PASI]: complaint alleged a cause of action for damages
against Lichauco, cast in the following manner:
12. xxx
xxxx
(a) On 4 December 1996, in a meeting with the
members of the Board of Directors of plaintiff 21. Defendant Lichauco attacked the good name and
corporation, defendant Lichauco then uttered reputation of plaintiffs.
disparaging and defamatory comments against plaintiff
de Guzman. These defamatory remarks triggered 22. She willfully caused damage to plaintiffs by
efforts from within the plaintiff corporation aimed at orchestrating the above-described acts which are
ousting plaintiff de Guzman from his position. contrary to law; morals and basic norms of good faith.

(b) Defendant Lichauco, then an undersecretary of 23. She interefered with and violated plaintiff
DOTC, wrote Mr. Jesli Lapuz on 5 December 1996 corporation's contract with DOTC by offering and
(barely two days after plaintiff de Guzman wrote him) awarding orbital slot 153 E to defendant Unknown
to deny that the DOTC has assigned the two (2) Awardee.
Philippine orbital slots to plaintiff corporation.
Defendant Lichauco falsely asserted that only orbital 24. Because of defendant Lichauco's reprehensible
slot 161 E was assigned to plaintiff, orbital slot 153 E acts, plaintiffs suffered actual damages of at least P10
was not. million each, for all of which defendant Lichauco should
be held liable to pay.
In the same letter, defendant Lichauco branded as
FALSE plaintiff de Guzman's claim that "Agila" is a 25. By reason of defendant Lichauco's illegal and
registered corporate name of plaintiff corporation. malicious acts, plaintiff corporation's business name
and goodwill was tarnished, for which plaintiff
A copy of the letter is attached as Annex E. corporation should be indemnified by way of moral
damages in the amount of at least P10 million.
(c) Not contented, defendant Lichauco, again for
reasons known only to her, and with malice 26. For the same reasons, plaintiff de Guzman suffered
aforethought, made defamatory remarks against and continue to suffer extreme mental anguish, serious
plaintiffs during a telecommunications forum held in anxiety, wounded feelings, moral shock and
Makati City sometime in October 1997 in the presence besmirched reputation, for all of which plaintiff de
of public officials and business executives. Guzman should be indemnified in the amount of at
least P10 million.
(d) Defendant Lichauco did not spare plaintiff
corporation from her unprovoked defamation.
27. Defendant Lichauco should also be sanctioned, as parameters and prerogatives of the authority exercising
a deterrent for public good, to pay each plaintiff the same."14 The RTC also noted that the allegations
exemplary damages in the amount of at least P5 in the complaint regarding the ultimate facts sufficiently
million. presented an ultra vires act of Lichauco, and that she
was being sued in her personal capacity. As to the
28. In order to protect and enforce their rights, plaintiffs argument pertaining to the non-exhaustion of
were compelled to institute this suit, engage the administrative remedies, the RTC noted that the
services of counsel and incur litigation expenses, for all principle is not an inflexible rule, and may be
of which plaintiffs should be indemnified in the amount dispensed with when its application would cause great
of at least P500 Thousand each.11 and irreparable damage or when it would not constitute
a plain, speedy and adequate remedy.15
xxxx
Lichauco assailed the RTC order through a Petition for
In sum, petitioners sought the following reliefs for the Certiorari under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals,
three (3) causes of action: which subsequently nullified the RTC order in the
Decision now assailed before us. The Court of Appeals
xxxx sustained the contention that the complaint is a suit
against the State with the following ratiocination:
3. After trial of the issues, render judgment as follows:
The suit is to the mind of this court a suit against the
[a] On the first cause of action, making permanent the state.1avvphil.net
writ of preliminary injunction;
The notice of offer signed by herein petitioner allegedly
[b] On the second cause of action, declaring the offer tainted with bad faith was done in the exercise of and
and award of orbital slot 153 E to defendant Unknown in pursuance of an official duty. Her duties are as
Awardee null and void. follows:

[c] On the third cause of action, directing defendant SEC. 10. Powers and Duties of the Undersecretary.
Lichauco to pay the following sums: The Undersecretary shall:

i. P10 million each to plaintiffs as actual damages; (1) Advise and assist the Secretary in the formulation
and implementation of department objectives and
ii. P10 million to plaintiff corporation as moral policies;
damages;
(2) Oversee all the operational activities of the
iii. P10 million to plaintiff de Guzman as moral department for which he shall be responsible to the
damages; Secretary;

iv. P5 million each to plaintiffs as exemplary damages; (3) Coordinate the programs and projects of the
department and be responsible for its economical,
v. P500 Thousand each to plaintiffs as attorney's fees efficient and effective administration:
and litigation expenses.
xxxxxxxxx
x x x x12
It is apparent from the above enumeration that the
The complaint was filed before the Regional Trial Court petitioner is directly under and answerable to the
(RTC) of Mandaluyong City, and subsequently raffled DOTC Secretary. We can therefore conclude that her
to Branch 214. On 2 February 1998, the RTC issued a official acts such as the said "notice of offer" was with
temporary restraining order against Lichauco, who the blessing and prior approval of the DOTC Secretary
received the summons together with the complaint on himself.
28 January 1998. Lichauco failed to file an answer
within the reglementary period, but eight (8) days after Being an official act, it is also protected by the
the lapse thereof, she filed a Manifestation and Motion presumption that the same was performed in good faith
asking for a new five (5)-day period, or until 25 and in the regular performance of official duty.
February 1998, to file a responsive pleading to the
complaint. However, she filed instead a Motion to "Acts in Line of Duty or under Color of Authority. - As a
Admit with attached Motion to Dismiss on 27 February rule, a public officer, whether judicial, quasi-judicial, or
1998. She rooted her prayer for the dismissal of the executive, is not personally liable to one injured in
complaint primarily on the grounds that the suit is a suit consequence of an act performed within the scope of
against the State which may not be sued without its his official authority, and in the line of his official duty.
consent; that the complaint stated no cause of action; In order that acts may be done within the scope of
and that the petitioners had failed to exhaust official authority, it is not necessary that they be
administrative remedies by failing to seek recourse prescribed by statute, or even that they be specifically
with the Office of the President. directed or requested by a superior officer, but it is
sufficient if they are done by an officer in relation to
In an order13 dated 14 August 1998, the RTC denied matters committed by law to his control or supervision,
the motion to dismiss. It characterized the defense of or that they have more or less connection with such
state immunity as "at very least a contentious issue matters, or that they are governed by a lawful
which can not be resolved by mere allegations in the requirement of the department under whose authority
pleadings but which can be best threshed out in a the officer is acting. Under this principle, state building
litig[i]ous forum where parties are accorded enormous commissioners who, in obedience to a stature,
(sic) opportunity to argue for the ascertainment of discharge one who has been employed to construct a
whether the act complained of are indeed within the state building, take possession of the work, and place it
in the hands of another contractor, are not liable to the motion, her motion for reconsideration of the denial of
former contractor in damages, since in so doing they her motion to dismiss, and petitioners' opposition to
are merely acting in the line of their duty. An officer is said motion for reconsideration. She claims that only
not personally responsible for the necessary and these motions and submission were relevant to the
unavoidable destruction of goods stored in buildings, resolution of her petition.18
when such buildings were destroyed by him in the
lawful performance of a public duty imposed on him by In her comment, Lichaucho claims that she did not
a valid and constitutional statute." have to attach the complaint to the copy of the petition
she sent to the petitioners herein, since the latter
xxxxxxxxx obviously retained the original copy of the complaint
they filed.19 However, her petition before the appellate
Error or Mistake in Exercise of Authority. - Where an court does not indicate that the same complaint was
officer is invested with discretion and is empowered to included as an attachment, and indeed, there is a
exercise his judgment in matters brought before him he curious absence of any averment on Lichuaco's part
is sometimes called a quasi-judicial officer, and when that she indeed attached the said complaint to her
so acting he is usually given immunity from liability to petition.20 Certainly, in a petition for certiorari assailing
persons who may be injured as the result of an the denial of a motion to dismiss a complaint, the very
erroneous or mistaken decision, however, erroneous complaint itself is a document relevant and pertinent to
judgment may be, provided the acts complained of are the special civil action. It should be remembered that
done within the scope of the officer's authority, and unlike in an ordinary appeal that is given due course,21
without willfulness, malice, or corruption." (43 Am. Jur., the case record is not automatically elevated to the
pp. 85-86). court exercising jurisdiction over a special civil action
for certiorari; hence there is an even more impelling
In Sanders vs. Veridiano[16], the Supreme Court held: need to attach all pleadings and documents to the
special civil action, as mandated under Section 1, Rule
"Given the official character of the above-described 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. After all, how
letters, we have to conclude that the petitioners were, could the court a quo properly ascertain whether or not
legally speaking, being sued as officers of the United the motion to dismiss itself should have been granted if
States government. As they have acted on behalf of it did not have a copy of the complaint sought to be
that government, and within the scope of their dismissed itself.
authority, it is that government and not the petitioners
personally, that is responsible for their acts. Assuming Nonetheless, the requirement to attach such relevant
that the trial can proceed and it is proved that the pleadings under Section 1, Rule 65 is read in relation
claimants have a right to the payment of damages, to Section 3, Rule 46, which states that the failure of
such award will have to be satisfied not by the the petitioner to comply with any of the documentary
petitioners in their personal capacities but by the requirements, such as the attachment of such relevant
United States government as their principal. This will pleadings, "shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal
require that government, viz.: the appropriation of the of the petition." The procedural rule accords sufficient
necessary amount to cover the damages awarded, discretion to the court hearing the special civil action
thus making the action a suit against that government whether or not to dismiss the petition outright for failure
without its consent. to comply with said requirement. If the court does
dismiss the petition on that ground, the dismissal would
There should be no question by now that such be justifiable under Section 3, Rule 46, and generally
complaint cannot prosper unless the government such action of the court cannot be assailed as
sought to be held ultimately liable has given its consent constituting either grave abuse of discretion or
to be sued. So we have ruled not only in Baer but in reversible error of law. If the court, on the other hand,
many other decisions where we upheld the doctrine of takes cognizance of the petition despite such lapses,
state immunity as applicable not only to our own the phrasing of Section 3, Rule 46 sufficiently justifies
government but also to foreign States sought to be such adjudicative recourse. Indeed, the ultimate logic
subjected to the jurisdiction of our courts. behind rules of procedure being the promotion of the
objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive
xxxxxxxxx disposition of every action and proceeding,22 the
higher interests of justice may at times sufficiently
The Court finds that, even under the law of public warrant the allowance of the petition for certiorari
officers, the acts of the petitioners are protected by the despite such lapses, especially if they are nonetheless
presumption of good faith, which has not been correctible through subsequent submissions.
overturned by the private respondents. Even mistakes
concededly committed by such public officers are not In any event, the Court is willing to overlook Lichauco's
actionable as long as it is not shown that they were failure to attach the complaint in her petition for
motivated by malice or gross negligence amounting to certiorari before the Court of Appeals, an oversight
bad faith. This too is well-settled."17 sadly ignored by the appellate court. There are weighty
issues at hand relating to the doctrine of state immunity
Preliminarily, we discuss the procedural grounds cited from suit and the requisites of a motion to dismiss.
by petitioners which they assert are sufficient to have
caused the dismissal of Lichauco's petition before the There is a connective issue between these two aspects
Court of Appeals. Petitioners claim that contrary to in that if the State is sued without its consent, the
Section 1, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil corresponding suit must be dismissed. At times, it
Procedure, Lichauco failed to attach all pleadings and would be teasingly obvious, even from the moment of
documents relevant to her petition, and that those that the filing of the complaint, that the suit is one against
were attached were merely "duplicate original copies." the State. A cursory examination of the caption of the
Lichauco counters that for the viability of her petition complaint can sometimes betray such proscribed
for certiorari, all that she needed to attach were her intent, as when the suit is directly initiated against the
motion to dismiss, the RTC orders acting on such Republic of the Philippines, any foreign government, or
an unincorporated government agency as the named So obviously, the Decision of the Court of Appeals
respondents. In such cases, obviously there is need for cannot receive the imprimatur of this Court. Still, the
immediate caution, although if it is somehow question of whether Lichauco may validly invoke state
established that those respondents had given their immunity from suit to secure the outright dismissal of
consent to be sued, the suit may nonetheless prosper. petitioners' complaint warrants closer examination.

The present action was denominated against Lichauco As earlier noted, the complaint alleges three (3) causes
and the unknown awardee, Lichauco was identified in of action against Lichauco: one for injunction against
the complaint as "acting Secretary of the [DOTC]."23 her performing any act in relation to orbital slot 153
The hornbook rule is that a suit for acts done in the East Longitude; one for declaration of nullity of award,
performance of official functions against an officer of seeking to nullify the alleged award of orbital slot 153
the government by a private citizen which would result East Longitude; and one for damages against Lichauco
in a charge against or financial liability to the herself. Evidently, the first two causes of action stem
government must be regarded as a suit against the from Lichauco's act of offering orbital slot 153 East
State itself, although it has not been formally Longitude for bidding, through the Notice of Offer
impleaded.24 However, government immunity from suit which was attached to the complaint.
will not shield the public official being sued if the
government no longer has an interest to protect in the In her Motion to Dismiss, Lichauco asserts that she is
outcome of a suit; or if the liability of the officer is being sued for issuing the aforementioned Notice of
personal because it arises from a tortious act in the Offer, which fell within her official functions as DOTC
performance of his/her duties. Undersecretary for Communications. She claims that it
was Secretary Lagdameo who authorized her to offer
Petitioner insists that Lichauco is being sued for her orbital slot 153 East Longitude for bidding, and she
acts committed in excess of her authority, ultra vires in thus acted well within the scope of her authority to
nature, and tortious in character. The Court of Appeals advise and assist the DOTC Secretary in the
responded that such acts fell within Lichauco's official formulation and implementation of department
duties as DOTC Undersecretary, thus enjoying the objectives and policies.
presumption that they were performed in good faith
and in the regular performance of official duty. This The Notice of Offer cites Department Circular 97-01,
rationale is pure sophistry and must be rejected signed by then DOTC Secretary Arturo Enrile, as
outright. authority for it. The Court has examined the
aforementioned Department Circular, issued on 17
We do not doubt the existence of the presumptions of October 1997, which establishes the "Guidelines on
"good faith" or "regular performance of official duty", the Procurement of Orbital Slots and Frequency
yet these presumptions are disputable25 and may be Registration of Philippine Satellites". Therein, the
contradicted and overcome by other evidence.26 Many DOTC is mandated "to conduct a bidding process in
civil actions are oriented towards overcoming any case there are competing applications for any one of
number of these presumptions, and a cause of action the assigned or applied-for-orbital slots"28. Further, the
can certainly be geared towards such effect. The very Department Circular states that "the DOTC shall
purpose of trial is to allow a party to present evidence publish in three newspapers of general circulation a
overcome the disputable presumptions involved. notice of offer for the government assigned, initiated
Otherwise, if trial is deemed irrelevant or unnecessary, and applied for orbital slots."29
owing to the perceived indisputability of the
presumptions, the judicial exercise would be relegated Thus, insofar as the first two causes of action are
to a mere ascertainment of what presumptions apply in concerned, Lichauco may have a point when she
a given case, nothing more. Consequently, the entire asserts that they were based on acts which she
Rules of Court is rendered as excess verbiage, save performed in her capacity as DOTC Undersecretary.
perhaps for the provisions laying down the legal But does this necessarily mean that these two causes
presumptions. of action may thus be dismissed on the basis of state
immunity of suit?
If this reasoning of the Court of Appeals were ever
adopted as a jurisprudential rule, no public officer could As stated earlier, it is when the acts done in the
ever be sued for acts executed beyond their official performance of official functions by an officer of the
functions or authority, or for tortious conduct or government will result in a charge against or financial
behavior, since such acts would "enjoy the liability to the government that the complaint must be
presumption of good faith and in the regular regarded as a suit against the State itself. However,
performance of official duty". Indeed, few civil actions the distinction must also be raised between where the
of any nature would ever reach the trial stage, if a case government official concerned performs an act in
can be adjudicated by a mere determination from the his/her official and jurisdictional capacity and where he
complaint or answer as to which legal presumptions performs an act that constitutes grave abuse of
are applicable. For example, the presumption that a discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. In the latter
person is innocent of a wrong is a disputable case, the Constitution itself assures the availability of
presumption on the same level as that of the regular judicial review, and it is the official concerned who
performance of official duty.27 A civil complaint for should be impleaded as the proper party- defendant or
damages necessarily alleges that the defendant respondent.
committed a wrongful act or omission that would serve
as basis for the award of damages. With the rationale On this point, our ruling in J.M. Tuazon & Co. v. Land
of the Court of Appeals, such complaint can be Tenure Administration30 is material. Petitioners therein
dismissed upon a motion to dismiss solely on the had filed a special civil action for prohibition to nullify
ground that the presumption is that a person is Republic Act No. 2616, or law that directed the
innocent of a wrong. expropriation of the Tatalon Estate in Quezon City.
Impleaded as respondents were the officials and
government agency tasked to undertake such
expropriation. The respondents alleged that the petition
for prohibition was actually a suit against the State Parenthetically, it may be noted that at the time of the
without its consent. The Court, through then Associate filing of the complaint, Lichauco herself was already
Justice (later Chief Justice) Enrique Fernando, the acting head of the DOTC, owing to the sudden
debunked the argument, ruling instead that the petition death of then Secretary Enrile a few days before. At
was within the ambit of judicial review: that stage, any suit seeking to nullify the Notice of Bid
and the alleged award to the "Unknown Bidder" should
[T]he power of judicial review is granted, if not have properly denominated Lichauco as the
expressly, at least by clear implication from the respondent, and not the DOTC.
relevant provisions of the Constitution. This power may
be exercised when the party adversely affected by Nonetheless, as to the first two causes of action, there
either a legislative or executive act, or a municipal was a viable ground to dismiss the complaint: the non-
ordinance for that matter, files the appropriate suit to exhaustion of administrative remedies. Indeed, such
test its validity. The special civil action of prohibition ground was alleged by Lichauco in her Motion to
has been relied upon precisely to restrain the Dismiss. Yet the principle of non-exhaustion of
enforcement of what is alleged to be an administrative remedies admits to several exceptions.
unconstitutional statute. As it is a fundamental In its Order denying the motion to dismiss the
postulate that the Constitution as the supreme law is complaint, the RTC adequately dispensed with the
binding on all governmental agencies, failure to objection, applying the established exceptions to the
observe the limitations found therein furnishes a rule of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies. To
sufficient ground for a declaration of nullity of the wit:
government measure challenged. The argument then
that the government is the adverse party and that, Turning to the matter pertaining to non-exhaustion of
therefore, must consent to its being sued certainly is administrative remedies, it is fundamental that this
far from persuasive. x x x x31 principle is not an inflexible rule. It yields to many
accepted exceptions. (Rocamora vs. RTC - Cebu, G.R.
The Court further noted that it was well-settled for the No. 65307). As in this case, this principle can be
purpose of obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity, "it dispensed with when its application would cause great
is enough if the respondents or defendants named be and irreparable damage and when it does not provide
the government officials who would give operation and a plain, speedy and adequate remedy.
effect to official action allegedly tainted with
unconstitutionality."32 When the subject orbital slot 153 E was bidded out to
other applicants, the damage and injury plaintiffs stand
Unlike in J.M. Tuason, the case at bar does not seek to to suffer was clear, present, and substantiated that this
nullify an unconstitutional law or measure. However, Court was impelled to provide urgent needed measure
the first two causes of action do sufficiently impute such as the issuance of writ of injunction against the
grave abuse of discretion against Lichauco in her public defendant. Indeed, under the circumstances
official capacity. Since judicial review of acts alleged to then obtaining it was impractical for the plaintiffs to first
have been tainted with grave abuse of discretion is proceed to the administrative official concerned before
guaranteed by the Constitution, it necessarily follows in taking court action.33
such instances that it is the official concerned who
should be impleaded as defendant or respondent in the A different set of principles applies to the third cause of
appropriate suit. action, anchored as it is on alleged acts that are
tortious in character or otherwise beyond the scope of
Moreover, if the suit had been directed against Lichauco's official duties. The complaint alleges that
Lichauco alone, and in her personal capacity, yet it Lichauco uttered several disparaging and defamatory
sought, as it now does, the nullification of the Notice of remarks against petitioners and made false assertions
Offer or the awards thereon, such remedy could not against them in her letter to the Land Bank President.
avail even if granted. Lichauco, in her personal
capacity, cannot be directed to set aside the Notice of The veracity of those allegations is of course presented
Offer, the award of the bid, or to issue a new award at the trial to be determined on the basis of the
herself. It is only because Lichauco was sued in her evidence. However, if proven, they would establish
official capacity as the DOTC Undersecretary that she, liability on the part of Lichauco that is not shielded by
or her successors in office, could be judicially the doctrine of state immunity from suit. The doctrine,
compelled to act in such fashion. as summarized in Shauf v. Court of Appeals :34

As to the first two (2) causes of action, the Court rules While the doctrine appears to prohibit only suits
that the defense of state immunity from suit do not against the state without its consent, it is also
apply since said causes of action cannot be properly applicable to complaints filed against officials of the
considered as suits against the State in constitutional state for acts allegedly performed by them in the
contemplation. These causes of action do not seek to discharge of their duties. The rule is that if the
impose a charge or financial liability against the State, judgment against such officials will require the state
but merely the nullification of state action. The prayers itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy the same,
attached to these two causes of action are for the such as the appropriation of the amount needed to pay
revocation of the Notice of Bid and the nullification of the damages awarded against them, the suit must be
the purported award, nothing more. Had it been so that regarded as against the state itself although it has not
petitioner additionally sought damages in relation to been formally impleaded. It must be noted, however,
said causes of action, the suit would have been that the rule is not so all-encompassing as to be
considered as one against the State. Had the petitioner applicable under all circumstances.
impleaded the DOTC itself, an unincorporated
government agency, and not Lichauco herself, the suit It is a different matter where the public official is made
would have been considered as one against the State. to account in his capacity as such for acts contrary to
But neither circumstance obtains in this case. law and injurious to the rights of plaintiff. As was clearly
set forth by Justice Zaldivar in Director of the Bureau of is REINSTATED. The Regional Trial Court is ordered
Telecommunications, et al. vs. Aligaen, etc., et al. to try and decide the case on the merits with deliberate
'Inasmuch as the State authorizes only legal acts by its dispatch. No costs. SO ORDERED.
officers, unauthorized acts of government officials or
officers are not acts of the State, and an action against
the officials or officers by one whose rights have been d.) Yap vs Cabales
invaded or violated by such acts, for the protection of
his rights, is not a suit against the State within the rule This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45
of immunity of the State from suit. In the same tenor, it of the Rules of Court with prayer for the issuance of a
has been said that an action at law or suit in equity writ of preliminary injunction and/or issuance of status
against a State officer or the director of a State quo order seeking to annul and set aside the
department on the ground that, while claiming to act for Resolution1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated July
the State, he violates or invades the personal and 17, 2003 denying petitioner's motion for
property rights or the plaintiff, under an unconstitutional reconsideration of the Decision2 dated April 30, 2003
act or under an assumption of authority which he does in CA-G.R. SP No. 68250.
not have, is not a suit against the State within the
constitutional provision that the State may not be sued The facts of the case are as follows:
without its consent.' The rationale for this ruling is that
the doctrine of state immunity cannot be used as an Petitioner Jesse Y. Yap and his spouse Bessie Yap are
instrument for perpetrating an injustice.35 engaged in the real estate business through their
company Primetown Property Group.

The doctrine poses no controversy if after trial on the Sometime in 1996, petitioner purchased several real
merits, it is established that the public official properties from a certain Evelyn Te (Evelyn). In
concerned had committed illegal or tortious acts consideration of said purchases, petitioner issued
against the plaintiff. How does it apply in relation to a several Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) postdated
motion to dismiss on the ground of state immunity from checks to Evelyn. Thereafter, spouses Orlando and
suit, necessarily lodged before trial on the merits? Mergyl Mirabueno and spouses Charlie and Jovita
Dimalanta, rediscounted the checks from Evelyn.
Our ruling in United States of America v. Reyes36
warrants due consideration. The Court therein, through In the beginning, the first few checks were honored by
then Associate Justice (later Chief Justice) Hilario G. the bank, but in the early part of 1997, when the
Davide, Jr., ruled that a motion to dismiss averring remaining checks were deposited with the drawee
immunity from suit of a State and its functionaries was bank, they were dishonored for the reason that the
actually grounded on the specific ground for dismissal "Account is Closed." Demands were made by Spouses
of the lack of cause of action, for even assuming that Mirabueno and Spouses Dimalanta to the petitioner to
the defendants had committed the injurious acts make good the checks. Despite this, however, the
complained of, "no action may be maintained thereon, latter failed to pay the amounts represented by the said
because of the principle of state immunity."37 checks.
Pertinently, the Court noted that "a motion to dismiss
on the ground of failure to state a cause of action On December 8, 1997, Spouses Mirabueno filed a civil
hypothetically admits the truth of the allegations in the action for collection of sum of money, damages and
complaint." attorney's fee with prayer for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary attachment against petitioner before the
Thus, Lichauco, in alleging in her Motion to Dismiss Regional Trial Court (RTC) of General Santos City,
that she is shielded by the State's immunity from suit, docketed as Civil Case No. 6231.3 On December 15,
to hypothetically admitted the truth of the allegations in 1997, Spouses Dimalanta followed suit and instituted a
the complaint. Such hypothetical admission has to be similar action, which was docketed as Civil Case No.
deemed a concession on her part that she had 6238.4
performed the tortious or damaging acts against the
petitioners, which if true, would hold her liable for Subsequently, on various dates, the Office of the City
damages. Prosecutor of General Santos City filed several
informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang
Of course, Lichauco could very well raise the defense (B.P. Blg.) 22 against the petitioner with the Municipal
of state immunity from suit in regard to the third cause Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), General Santos City. The
of action with the assertion that the acts complained of criminal complaints were docketed as Criminal Case
constituting said cause of action fell within her official Nos. 34873, 34874, 34862 to 34869, and Criminal
functions and were not tortuous in character. Still, to Case No. 35522-I.5
establish such assertions of fact, a full-blown trial on
the merits would be necessary, as would the case be if In the criminal cases, petitioner filed separate motions
Lichauco raised the defense that she did not commit to suspend proceedings on account of the existence of
these acts complained of. Certainly, these defenses a prejudicial question and motion to exclude the private
cannot be accorded merit before trial, factual as they prosecutor from participating in the proceedings.6
are in character. Petitioner prayed that the proceedings in the criminal
cases be suspended until the civil cases pending
All told, contrary to the ruling of the Court of Appeals, before the RTC were finally resolved.
we find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the
RTC in denying Lichauco's Motion to Dismiss. The MTCC, in its Orders7 dated June 21, 2000 and
July 4, 2000, denied the motions for lack of merit.
WHEREFORE, the PETITION is GRANTED. The Petitioner filed a Partial Motion for Reconsideration8
Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 21 February relative to Criminal Case Nos. 34873, 34874, 34862 to
2000 is SET ASIDE and the Order dated 14 August 34869 and a Motion for Reconsideration of the Part of
1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City the Order Denying the Motion to Suspend Proceedings
on Account of the Existence of a Prejudicial Question 2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED
relative to Criminal Case No. 35522-I.9 The IN NOT GRANTING THE PRAYER FOR THE
subsequent motions were denied in the Order10 dated ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF PRELIMINARY
October 18, 2000. INJUNCTION AND/OR STATUS QUO ORDER.20

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari with a The main contention of the petitioner is that a
Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary prejudicial question, as defined by law and
Injunction11 before the RTC, docketed as SPL. Civil jurisprudence, exists in the present case. It is the
Case No. 539, imputing grave abuse of discretion on petitioner's assertion that Civil Case Nos. 6231 and
the part of the MTCC Judge. On July 2, 2001, the RTC 6238 for collection of sum of money and damages
issued an Order12 denying the petition. were filed ahead of the criminal cases for violation of
B.P. Blg. 22. He further alleged that, in the pending
Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration,13 civil cases, the issue as to whether private respondents
which was denied in an Order dated October 18, are entitled to collect from the petitioner despite the
2001.14 lack of consideration, is an issue that is a logical
antecedent to the criminal cases for violation of B.P.
Thereafter, petitioner filed with the CA a Petition for Blg. 22. For if the court rules that there is no valid
Certiorari Prohibition and Mandamus with Urgent consideration for the check's issuance, as petitioner
Prayer for the Issuance of Status Quo Order and Writ contends, then it necessarily follows that he could not
of Preliminary Injunction,15 docketed as CA-G.R. SP also be held liable for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
No. 68250.
Petitioner further avers that B.P. Blg. 22 specifically
On April 30, 2003, the CA rendered a Decision16 requires, among other elements, that the check should
dismissing the petition for lack of merit. The CA opined have been issued for account or for value. There must
that Civil Case Nos. 6231 and 6238 did not pose a be a valid consideration; otherwise, no violation of the
prejudicial question to the prosecution of the petitioner said law could be rightfully pursued. Petitioner said that
for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. the reason for the dishonor of the checks was his order
to the drawee bank to stop payment and to close his
The CA ruled: account in order to avoid necessary penalty from the
bank. He made this order due to the failure of Evelyn to
In the instant case, a careful perusal of Civil Cases deliver to him the titles to the purchased properties to
Nos. 6231 and 6238 reveals that the issue involved him.
therein is not the validity of the sale as incorrectly
pointed out by the petitioner, but it is, whether or not On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General
the complainants therein are entitled to collect from the (OSG) contends that there is no prejudicial question in
petitioner the sum or the value of the checks which Civil Case Nos. 6231 and 6238 which would warrant
they have rediscounted from Evelyn Te. It behooves the suspension of the proceedings in the criminal
this Court to state that the sale and the rediscounting cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 against the
of the checks are two transactions, separate and petitioner. The issue in the civil cases is not the validity
distinct from each other. It so happened that in the of the sale between the petitioner and Evelyn, but
subject civil cases it is not the sale that is in question, whether the complainants therein are entitled to
but rather the rediscounting of the checks. Therefore, damages arising from the checks. These checks were
petitioner's contention that the main issue involved in issued by the petitioner in favor of Evelyn, who,
said civil cases is the validity of the sale stands on thereafter, negotiated the same checks to private
hollow ground. Furthermore, if it is indeed the validity complainants. The checks were subsequently
of the sale that is contested in the subject civil cases, dishonored due to insufficiency of funds. The OSG
then, We cannot fathom why the petitioner never maintains that the resolution of such issue has
contested such sale by filing an action for the absolutely no bearing on the issue of whether
annulment thereof or at least invoked or prayed in his petitioner may be held liable for violation of B.P. Blg.
answer that the sale be declared null and void. 22.21
Accordingly, even if Civil Cases Nos. 6231 and 6238
are tried and the resolution of the issues therein is had, The present case hinges on the determination of
it cannot be deduced therefrom that the petitioner whether there exists a prejudicial question that
cannot be held liable anymore for violation of B.P. Blg. necessitates the suspension of the proceedings in the
22.17 MTCC.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,18 which We find that there is none and, thus, we resolve to
was denied in the Order19 dated July 17, 2003. deny the petition.

Hence, the petition assigning the following errors: A prejudicial question generally exists in a situation
where a civil action and a criminal action are both
1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED pending, and there exists in the former an issue that
IN RULING THAT THERE IS NO PREJUDICIAL must be preemptively resolved before the latter may
QUESTION IN THE CIVIL CASES (FOR proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the
COLLECTION OF SUMS OF MONEY INSTITUTED civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et
BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS OVER CHECKS de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the
ISSUED BY THE PETITIONER, CIVIL CASE NOS. criminal case. The rationale behind the principle of
6238 AND 6231) THAT WOULD WARRANT prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting
SUSPENSION OF THE CRIMINAL CASES (CASE decisions. It has two essential elements: (i) the civil
NO. 35522-1, FOR VIOLATION OF B.P. 22, SUBJECT action involves an issue similar or intimately related to
OF WHICH ARE THE VERY SAME CHECKS). the issue raised in the criminal action; and (ii) the
resolution of such issue determines whether or not the
criminal action may proceed.22
be presented for payment - has the same effect as an
If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues, or ordinary check and would fall within the ambit of B.P.
the issue in one is intimately related to the issues Blg. 22.
raised in the other, then a prejudicial question would
likely exist, provided the other element or characteristic xxxx
is satisfied. It must appear not only that the civil case
involves the same facts upon which the criminal x x x The mere act of issuing a worthless check -
prosecution would be based, but also that the whether as a deposit, as a guarantee or even as
resolution of the issues raised in the civil action would evidence of pre-existing debt - is malum prohibitum.
be necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence
of the accused. If the resolution of the issue in the civil To determine the reason for which checks are issued,
action will not determine the criminal responsibility of or the terms and conditions for their issuance, will
the accused in the criminal action based on the same greatly erode the faith the public reposes in the stability
facts, or if there is no necessity that the civil case be and commercial value of checks as currency
determined first before taking up the criminal case, the substitutes, and bring about havoc in trade and in
civil case does not involve a prejudicial question.23 banking communities. So what the law punishes is the
Neither is there a prejudicial question if the civil and the issuance of a bouncing check and not the purpose for
criminal action can, according to law, proceed which it was issued or the terms and conditions relating
independently of each other.24 to its issuance. The mere act of issuing a worthless
check is malum prohibitum.28
The issue in the criminal cases is whether the
petitioner is guilty of violating B.P. Blg. 22, while in the Moreover, petitioner's reliance on Ras v. Rasul29 is
civil case, it is whether the private respondents are misplaced. The case of Ras involves a complaint for
entitled to collect from the petitioner the sum or the nullification of a deed of sale on the ground of an
value of the checks that they have rediscounted from alleged double sale. While the civil case was pending,
Evelyn.lavvphil an information for estafa was filed against Ras (the
defendant in the civil case) arising from the same
The resolution of the issue raised in the civil action is alleged double sale, subject matter of the civil
not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the complaint. The Court ruled that there was a prejudicial
accused in the criminal cases against him, and there is question considering that the defense in the civil case
no necessity that the civil case be determined first was based on the very same facts that would be
before taking up the criminal cases. determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused
in the estafa case.
In the aforementioned civil actions, even if petitioner is
declared not liable for the payment of the value of the The instant case is different from Ras, inasmuch as the
checks and damages, he cannot be adjudged free from determination of whether the petitioner is liable to pay
criminal liability for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. The mere the private respondents the value of the checks and
issuance of worthless checks with knowledge of the damages, will not affect the guilt or innocence of the
insufficiency of funds to support the checks is in itself petitioner because the material question in the criminal
an offense.25 cases is whether petitioner had issued bad checks,
regardless of the purpose or condition of its issuance.
In Jose v. Suarez,26 the prejudicial question under
determination was whether the daily interest rate of 5% Guided by the following legal precepts, it is clear that
was void, such that the checks issued by respondents the determination of the issues involved in Civil Case
to cover said interest were likewise void for being Nos. 6231 and 6238 for collection of sum of money
contra bonos mores, and thus the cases for B.P. Blg. and damages is irrelevant to the guilt or innocence of
22 will no longer prosper. In resolving the issue, We the petitioner in the criminal cases for violation of B.P.
ruled that "whether or not the interest rate imposed by Blg. 22.
petitioners is eventually declared void for being contra
bonos mores will not affect the outcome of the BP Blg. In addition, petitioner's claim of lack of consideration
22 cases because what will ultimately be penalized is may be raised as a defense during the trial of the
the mere issuance of bouncing checks. In fact, the criminal cases against him. The validity and merits of a
primordial question posed before the court hearing the partys defense and accusation, as well as the
B.P. Blg. 22 cases is whether the law has been admissibility and weight of testimonies and evidence
breached; that is, if a bouncing check has been brought before the court, are better ventilated during
issued." trial proper.

Further, We held in Ricaforte v. Jurado,27 that: Precisely, the reason why a state has courts of law is
to ascertain the respective rights of the parties, to
The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. Blg. 22 examine and to put to test all their respective
is the act of making and issuing a worthless check; that allegations and evidence through a well designed
is, a check that is dishonored upon its presentation for machinery termed "trial." Thus, all the defenses
payment. In Lozano v. Martinez, we have declared that available to the accused should be invoked in the trial
it is not the non-payment of an obligation which the law of the criminal cases. This court is not the proper forum
punishes. The law is not intended or designed to that should ascertain the facts and decide the case for
coerce a debtor to pay his debt. The thrust of the law is violation of B.P. Blg. 22 filed against the petitioner.
to prohibit, under pain of penal sanctions, the making
and circulation of worthless checks. Because of its In fine, the CA committed no reversible error in