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1997 Rules on Civil Procedure INTRODUCTION

2001 Edition

The first thing that we will take up in Civil Procedure are basic concepts. We are going to discuss
the legal concept of courts. As you will know, whenever we talk of procedural law, we have no choice
but to involve courts in our discussion.

Lets try to have a mental picture of courts. If I (Dean Iigo) say courts, please tell me the scene
that comes into your mind. What do you see? There is a table, a gavel, there is someone sitting there.
Then below, there are lawyers sitting down. That is how everybody pictures a court. But actually, what
was pictured out was a courtroom and not a court.

Similar example: How can you picture a corporation? A corporation, as you know in Persons, is a
juridical entity. It is a creature of the law. It is a person under the law but it has no physical existence.
But what you see in a corporation is a building and people who are running the office business. Well,
that is the office of the corporation.

A corporation cannot run without people running it. But a corporation can own properties, kaya
you see the building, the office, the equipments there. The president or the vice-president are the
officers of the corporation. But the officers are not the corporation; they run the affairs of the
corporation. Ganoon din ang court. A court has no physical existence, only a legal one.

Q: What is a court?
A: A court is an entity or body vested with a portion of the judicial power. (Lontok vs. Battung, 63
Phil. 1054)

Q: Why portion only?

A: This is because the Constitution provides that the judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme
Court (SC) and in such other lower courts as may be established by law. (Art. VIII, Section 1, 1987

The reason that the law creates different courts is to divide the cases or judicial power among them
so that one court may not be burdened with so many cases. So, judicial power is not exercised only by
one court, but by several courts. It is like a cake. You slice the cake into parts this part is for you, this
part is mine. So, kanya-kanya tayo ng trabaho. You cannot put the burden only in one court.

For example, you want to sue your debtor for not paying a loan. You mean to tell me that you will
go to the SC? All cases in the Philippines will have to filed there? NO. You cannot do it. You have to
start from certain courts in you city or municipality.

Ngayon, pag-sinabi mo kung saan ako mag-file, sa Regional Trial Court (RTC) ba? O sa Municipal
Trial Court (MTC)? Of course, depende yan on how much you are claiming. If you are claiming so
much, dito ka. If you claim is lower, dito ka naman. Why is that? Because each has its own work. Each
one has its own portion what is yours is yours, what is mine is mine.

Thus, each court has its own jurisdiction and may only try cases within its jurisdiction. No court has
all the power of the judiciary but only a portion of it. So there is a division of labor.

Just as corporations cannot act without its officers, a court cannot function without a judge. But do
not say that the court and the judge mean the same thing. The judge is the person or officer who
presides over a court.

Q: Distinguish court from judge.

A: The following are the distinctions:
1.) Court is the entity, body, or tribunal vested with a portion of the judicial power, while judge
is the person or officer who presides over a court. Judges are human beings they die, they
resign, they retire, they maybe removed. The court continues to exist even after the judge
presiding over it ceases to do so.

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2001 Edition

2.) The two concepts may exist independently of each other, for there may be a court without a
judge or a judge without a court. (Pamintuan vs. Llorente, 29 Phil. 342)

EXAMPLE: The present Supreme Court (SC), the justices presiding over it are not the
same justices who presided it in the early part of this century yet the Court in some
decisions states that as early 1905, WE have already ruled such as such Why do they
use WE? They are talking about the court, they are not talking about themselves. The court
is continuous. It does not die alongside with the justices who presided on it.

Q: Classify courts in general.

A: Generally, courts may be classified as:
1.) Superior Courts and First-Level courts (inferior courts);
2.) Courts of Original jurisdiction and Courts of Appellate jurisdiction;
3.) Civil Courts and Criminal Courts;
4.) Courts of law and Courts of equity;
5.) Constitutional Courts and Statutory Courts.


Q: Distinguish superior courts from inferior courts.

A: SUPERIOR COURTS, otherwise known as courts of general jurisdiction, are those which take
cognizance of all kinds cases, whether civil or criminal, and possess supervisory authority over lower
FIRST-LEVEL COURTS (inferior courts), otherwise known as courts of special or limited
jurisdiction, are those which take cognizance of certain specified cases only. (14 Am. Jur. 249)

Q: What courts are superior or inferior?

A: It DEPENDS on what viewpoint you are looking. If you are looking from the viewpoint of the
Constitution, there is only one superior court the Supreme Court.

From the real viewpoint, the Court of Appeals (CA) maybe inferior to the SC but it is a superior
court for it exercises supervision over RTC. In the same manner that the RTC might be inferior to the
SC and the CA but it has also power of supervision over MTC. The jurisdiction of the RTC is varied. It
is practically a jack of all trade. The RTC has also the power of supervision over MTC.

A superior court may therefore handle civil, criminal cases while an inferior court may try specified
cases only. The SC, CA including the RTC are considered as superior courts.

The MTC is a first-level (inferior) court so that its power is limited to specified cases despite of the
law which expanded the jurisdiction of the MTC. It is already at the bottom. Wala ng under pa sa

In 1996 Bar: Explain the hierarchy of courts in the Philippines. Practically, the judicial level is being
asked by the examiner.


Q: Distinguish original court from appellate court.

A: ORIGINAL COURTS are those where a case is commenced, while APPELLATE COURTS are
those where a case is reviewed. (Ballentine's Law Dict., 2nd Ed., p. 91)

So, if you are filing a case for the first time, that case is filed in an original court. But the case does
not necessarily end there. You may bring the case to the appellate court which has the power to change
the decision of the original court.

Q: Is the SC an original or appellate court?

A: The SC is both an original and an appellate court. Some people have the impression that you
cannot file a case there for the first time that you have to file it somewhere else, then doon (SC) mo i-
akyat. But when we study the jurisdiction of the SC, we will be able to know that it is not only an
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appellate court, but also an original court. The SC has original jurisdiction on cases of certiorari,
prohibition, mandamus, etc. There are certain cases where one may file directly to the SC.

Q: Is the CA an original or appellate court?

A: The same is true with the CA. It is both original and appellate court. (Section 9, BP 129) When we
study the jurisdiction of the CA, you will see that it is both an original and an appellate court. There are
cases which are elevated to it from the RTC, but there are also cases which are filed there for the first

Q: How about the RTC? Is the RTC an original or appellate court?

A: The RTC is also both original and appellate court. You can file certain cases there for the first
time, and there are also decisions of the MTC which are appealable to the RTC.

Q: How about the MTC? Is the MTC an original or appellate court?

A: The MTC however, is a 100% original court. It is the lowest court in the hierarchy. There are no
cases appealed to it. There is no such animal as barangay court. The barangay captains do not decide
cases, they only conciliate.


Q: Distinguish civil courts from criminal courts.

A: CIVIL COURTS are those which take cognizance of civil cases only, while CRIMINAL COURTS
are those which take cognizance of criminal cases only. (14 Am. Jur. 249; Ballentine's Law Dict., 2nd
Ed., p. 301)

All the courts in the Philippines are both civil and criminal courts. They can handle both types of
cases. The SC decides civil and criminal cases. The same thing with the CA, RTC and MTC.

So, in the Philippines, there is no such thing as a 100% criminal court or civil court. Unlike before,
during the 70's there are some special courts which were existing but were abolished by BP 129. There
was the old Circuit Criminal Court. As the name implies, it is purely a criminal court.

But with the abolition of those special courts, all their powers were transferred to the present RTC.
Right now, there is no such thing as a 100% civil court or a 100% criminal court. So, all our courts are
both civil and criminal courts at the same time.


Q: Distinguish Courts of Law from Courts of Equity.

A: COURTS OF LAW are tribunals only administering the law of the land, whereas COURTS OF
EQUITY are tribunals which rule according to the precepts of equity or justice, and are sometimes
called courts of conscience. (Ballentines Law Dict., 2nd Ed., p. 303)

Courts Of Law dispose cases according to what the law says I will decide your case by what the
law says. Yan ang court of law! When we say Courts Of Equity, it adjudicates cases based on the
principles of equity. Principle of equity means principles of justice, fairness, fair play.

Q: Are the Philippines courts, courts of law? Or courts of equity? Do they decide cases based on
what the law says? or, do they decide cases based on the principle of justice and fairness?
A: In the Philippines, our courts are both courts of law and of equity. In the case of substantive law,
there is a thin line which divides the principle of law from the principle of equity because principles of
equity are also found in the principles of law. Equity is what is fair and what is just and equitable.
Generally, what is legal is fair.

As a matter of fact under the Civil Code, when the law is silent, you decide it based on what is just
and fair. Kaya nga may kasabihan na EQUITY FOLLOWS THE LAW. In the Philippines you cannot
distinguish sometimes the principle of law and the principle of equity because principles of equity are
also written in the law. Example: The principle of estoppel, laches or solutio indebiti. One cannot say

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that they are purely principles of equity since they are also found in our law. Under the Civil Code,
when there is no applicable law, courts still have to decide according to customs and general principles.

Example: ESTOPPEL. Estoppel is an equitable doctrine that it is not fair that you disown your own
representation after misleading somebody. But if you look at the Civil Code, meron mang chapter
diyan ba! estoppel! So if you apply estoppel, you cannot say that you are applying a principle not
found under the law.

Example: LACHES the half-brother of prescription if you delay a certain right then you must
have no right. That is more of equity, rather than of law.

Example: SOLUTIO INDEBITI. No one should enrich himself at the expense of another. That is a
principle of equity. But if you look at the Civil Code, it's there!

The SC, when deliberating, focuses more on justice and equity where reason can always be found.
The SC once said that equity follows the law. In the case of:


May 28, 1987, J. Cruz

HELD: The question is sometimes asked, in serious inquiry or in curious conjecture,

whether we are a court of law or a court of justice. Do we apply the law even if it is unjust or
do we administer justice even against the law? Thus queried, we do not equivocate. The
answer is that we do neither because we are a court both of law and of justice. We apply the
law with justice for that is our mission and purpose in the scheme of our Republic.

So the SC described itself both as a court of law and court of equity. I have already talked with so
many justices of the SC before. And I asked them on how do they deliberate on cases when somebody
files an appeal or petition. They told me, if you want to convince the SC to hear your case because the
tendency of some lawyers is that they will file their petition and they will cite the law. Meaning,
backed-up by statutory provisions ba. A justice of the SC told me that that is a wrong approach. Do not
tell us what is the law. We know more law than you do! When you file a petition, fairness must be on
your side! Because when we deliberate and we agree that your side seems to be the correct one, to
decide on your favor is more than just to decide on the other side. Then, we will even look for the law
to support our decision. So, you don't have to tell us what is the law, we will look for it. And if there is
no law, we will make it for you, by interpreting because we are a court more of equity than of law.
But when we look on the equity, we will look for the law and chances are, there is the law to follow.


Q: Distinguish Constitutional Courts from Statutory Courts.

A: CONSTITUTIONAL COURTS are created directly by the Constitution itself, while STATUTORY
COURTS are created by law or by the legislature.

In our country, there is only one Constitutional court the Supreme Court. Even the
Sandiganbayan is not considered a Constitutional court because it was not created by the Constitution
directly. The 1973 Constitution ordered Congress to create Sandiganbayan. It was law that created
Sandiganbayan (PD 1486). There is a provision in the 1973 Constitution which says, There should be
created a Sandiganbayan.

The CA, RTC, and the MTC are created by the Congress. Thus, Congress has the power to abolish
the said courts but it can never abolish the Supreme Court.

So there is only one Constitutional court. All the rest, from the CA down and all other special
courts, are only creatures of Congress. In political law, the power to create carries with it the power to
abolish. That is why, BP 129 abolished all existing courts at that time (CFI, CA, Juvenille, etc.) and RTC,
IAC, MTC were created. That was the judicial reorganization of 1980 under BP 129. But there is only
court which the Batasan Pambansa could not touch the Supreme Court.
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They have no power to abolish the SC because it is created by the Constitution. Pareho lang tayong
tabla eh. Congress is also created by the Constitution. So if you want to abolish the SC, you must call
for a constitutional convention to change the Constitution.


Before we leave the concepts of courts, you must know that the courts of justice have what we call
inherent powers. Just like the State have certain inherent powers, whether written or not, these things
are understood to have them Police power, power of taxation, and power of taxation.

Courts have also inherent powers. Their very existence automatically necessitates the existence of
these powers. Now, that was already asked in the Bar before what are the inherent powers of the

Q: What are the inherent powers of the court?

A: Section 5 Rule 135 of the Rules of Court of the provides:

Section 5. Inherent powers of courts. Every court shall have the power:
(a) to preserve and enforce order in its immediate presence;
(b) to enforce order in proceedings before it, or before a person or persons empowered to conduct a
judicial investigation under its authority;
(c) to compel obedience to its judgments orders, and processes, and to the lawful orders of a judge
out of court, in a case therein;
(d) to control, in furtherance of justice, the conduct of its ministerial officers, and of all other persons
in any manner connected with a case before it, in every manner appertaining thereto;
(e) to compel the attendance of persons to testify in a case pending therein;
(f) to administer or cause to be administered oaths in a case pending therein, and in all. other cases
where it may be necessary in the existence of its powers;
(g) to amend and control its process and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice;
(h) to authorize a copy of a lost or destroyed pleading or other paper to be filed and used instead of
the original, and to restore, and supply deficiencies in its records and proceedings.

There are many powers enumerated. Some of them are common sense. Every court has the power
to see to it that everything of his order is enforced; to compel obedience to his order. Common sense
yan. You are inutile if you cannot even enforce your own judgment! So I've been telling some judges
here, eh. Sometimes we talk about this: they say, it seems that I don't have the power under the Rules of
Court. It's beyond my power. I made a decision but I cannot see how was it enforced.

Parang pampalakas-loob ang Rule 135, Section 5 because you can see there the powers that you do
not know you have. These are inherent eh hindi puwedeng alisin sa iyo iyan. Otherwise, maging
inutil ka I have the power to decide but I do not know how to enforce my decision. That is a sign of
impotence (Charles, pinaringgan ka ni Dean!). As a matter of fact, the next section (Section 6, Rule 135)
tells us how to carry out your judgment. If you do not know how to carry out your judgment because
the law is silent, Section 6 says, look for a way. Hanapan mo ng paraan!

SITUATION: Suppose I have the power to decide and I render a decision. I want to enforce the
decision, how do I enforce? Well, usually the law provides for the procedure.

Q: But suppose the law does not provide for any manner to enforce? For example a judge has
rendered a decision, and the law is silent on how to enforce it, do you mean to say that the order is
unenforceable because the law is silent?
A: NO. Section 6 of Rule 135 answers the question.

SEC 6. Means to carry jurisdiction into effect When by law jurisdiction is conferred on a court or a
judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and all other means to carry it into effect maybe employed by
such court or officer; and if the procedure to be followed in the exercise of such jurisdiction is not
specifically pointed out by law or these rules, any suitable process or mode of proceeding may be adopted
which appears conformable to the spirit of said law or rules.

What Section 6 is trying to say is that when you have the power to decide, you have the power to
enforce. And if the law is silent, you have to think how to do it. Be creative. Provided you conform
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with the spirit of the rule. So you do not make the order useless simply because there is no rule. In
other words, try to look for a way on how to enforce your judgment. That is part of your power.


Another provision that I want to emphasize before we leave this subject of court is Section 3 of the
Interim Rules.

Question: The court of Davao will issue a writ or a process. Can that writ or process be enforced in
Cebu or Manila? Or only in Davao? Or only in Region IX? Hanggang saan ba ang enforceability ng
aking writ or processes? You have to distinguish what kind of writ or process you are talking about.

Under Section 3, Interim Rules:

Sec. 3. Writs and Processes. -

a) Writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction issued by
a regional trial court may be enforced in any part of the region.
b) All other processes whether issued by the RTC or MetTC, MTC, and MTC may be served
anywhere in the Philippines, and, the last three cases, without a certification by the judge of the

Q: What is the area of enforceability of writs and processes of the courts?

A: Under Section 3 of the Interim Rules, you have to distinguish what kind of writ or process you
are talking about:
a) If it is a writ of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus, injunction, it
can be enforced anywhere within the region. So at least, RTC can enforce it within the region
and it cannot enforce those writs outside the region.

EXAMPLE: If you are illegally detained, you can ask the court to issue a writ of habeas
corpus. Now, a person is detained in Bansalan and the family is here in Davao City. They filed
a petition for habeas corpus in Makilala, North Cotabato. Makilala is in Region 12 and the
RTC of Bansalan is part of the 11th judicial region. Thus, the judge in Makilala cannot issue
the writ of habeas corpus due to the fact that Bansalan belongs to the 11th judicial region
while Makilala is in the 12th judicial region. The RTC of Tandag, Surigao is Region 12 and
therefore can issue a writ of habeas corpus to be enforced in Makilala which is hundreds of
miles away because they are of the same judicial region. And yet the RTC of Bansalan cannot
issue a writ to be enforced in Makilala, North Cotabato, which is the next town, because that
is not part of their region. The law is very clear: writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus,
quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction issued by a trial court may be enforced in any
part of the region.

b) Section 3 further says, all other writs are enforceable anywhere in the Philippines. Suppose the
MTC issues a warrant for the arrest of the accused in the criminal case, and he fled to Baguio
City, such warrant can be enforced there. This includes summons, writs of execution or search


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