You are on page 1of 17

SAMAR ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE VS SELUDO JR.

Assailed in the present petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are
the Decision[1] and Resolution[2] dated January 26, 2006 and July 12, 2006, respectively, of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB SP No. 01175. The CA Decision dismissed petitioners'
petition for certiorari and affirmed the Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Calbiga,
Samar, Branch 33, dated May 6, 2005 and September 15, 2005, while the CA Resolution denied
petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration.
Herein petitioner Samar II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SAMELCO II) was organized under the
provisions of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 269, otherwise known as the National Electrification
Administration Decree, as amended by P.D. No. 1645. The individual petitioners are members of
SAMELCO II's Board of Directors.Respondent was also a member of the SAMELCO II Board of
Directors having been elected thereto in 2002 and whose term of office expired in May 2005.

The antecedent facts, as summarized by the CA, are as follows:
As members of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the petitioner Samar II
Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SAMELCO II), an electric cooperative providing
electric service to all members-consumers in all municipalities within the Second
Congressional District of the Province of Samar, individual petitioners passed
Resolution No. 5 [Series] of 2005 on January 22, 2005.

The said resolution disallowed the private respondent to attend succeeding meetings
of the BOD effective February 2005 until the end of his term as director. The same
resolution also disqualified him for one (1) term to run as a candidate for director
in the upcoming district elections.

Convinced that his rights as a director of petitioner SAMELCO II had been curtailed
by the subject board resolution, private respondent filed an Urgent Petition for
Prohibition against petitioner SAMELCO II, impleading individual petitioners as
directors thereof, in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Calbiga, Samar. The case
was docketed as Special Civil Case No. C-2005-1085 and was raffled to Branch 33
of the said court x x x.

In his petition, private respondent prayed for the nullification of Resolution No. 5,
[Series] of 2005, contending that it was issued without any legal and factual bases.
He likewise prayed that a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or a writ of
preliminary injunction be issued to enjoin the individual petitioners from enforcing
the assailed board resolution.

Granting private respondent's prayer for a TRO, the public respondent issued one,
effective for seventy-two (72) hours which effectivity was later on extended for
another seventeen (17) days.

Individual petitioners assert that. [the RTC judge] sustained the jurisdiction of the court over the petition for prohibition and barred the petitioners and/or their representatives from enforcing Resolution No. SAMELCO II. the instant petition with the following assigned errors: (1) IN ITS INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF PRIMARY JURISDICTION. x x x[3] Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. 2005. 2006 Resolution. but the same was denied by the RTC in its September 15. imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC in issuing its assailed Orders. In their answer to the petition for prohibition. 5 [Series] of 2005. COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW BY HOLDING THAT A PERUSAL OF THE LAW CREATING THE NEA . the CA rendered its Decision dismissing petitioners' petition for certiorari and affirming the assailed Orders of the RTC. since the matter involved an electric cooperative. In her assailed Order dated May 6. but it was denied by the CA in its July 12. On January 26. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED LEGAL ERRORS IN LIMITING THE DOCTRINE TO CERTAIN MATTERS IN CONTROVERSIES INVOLVING SPECIALIZED DISPUTES AND IN UPHOLDING THE JURISDICTION OF THE TRIAL COURT OVER THE URGENT PETITION FOR PROHIBITION FILED BY RESPONDENT SELUDO ON THE GROUND THAT THE ISSUES RAISED THEREIN DO NOT REQUIRE THE TECHNICAL EXPERTISE OF THE NEA (2) THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS. Hence. Petitioners then elevated the case to the CA via a special civil action for certiorari. 2006. IN SUSTAINING THE JURISDICTION OF THE TRIAL COURT. 2005 Order. primary jurisdiction is vested on the National Electrification Administration (NEA). Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. individual petitioners raised the affirmative defense of lack of jurisdiction of the RTC over the subject matter of the case.

petitioners aver that the NEA is empowered to determine the validity of resolutions passed by electric cooperatives.D.D. 269 and 1645.[4] In their first assigned error. Section 10. Nos. under the applicable laws. petitioners assert that respondent is precluded from filing a petition for prohibition considering that. this Court applied the doctrine of primary jurisdiction even in cases where the issues involved do not require the technical expertise of administrative bodies. DISCLOSES THAT THE NEA WAS NOT GRANTED THE POWER TO HEAR AND DECIDE CASES INVOLVING THE VALIDITY OF BOARD RESOLUTIONS UNSEATING ANY MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND THAT NEITHER WAS IT GRANTED JURISDICTION OVER PETITIONS FOR CERTIORARI. that it is wrong for the CA to rule that there is nothing under the law creating the National Electrification Administration (NEA). PROHIBITION OR MANDAMUS. Enforcement Powers and Remedies. No. In their third assigned error. Section 10. which grants the said administrative body the power to ascertain the validity of board resolutions unseating any member of the Board of Directors of an electric cooperative.D. Petitioners aver that in a number of cases. (3) THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT SUSTAINED THE JURISDICTION OF [THE] TRIAL COURT OVER THE PETITION FOR PROHIBITION DESPITE THE EXISTENCE OF APPEAL OR OTHER PLAIN. No. Petitioners also argue. provides: Section 5. 269. the Court will discuss them jointly. as amended by Section 5 of P. The Court finds the petition meritorious. Chapter II of P. Chapter II of Presidential Decree No. 269 is hereby amended to read as follows: Section 10. Citing the provisions of P. in their second assignment of error. SPEEDY AND ADEQUATE REMEDY AVAILABLE TO THEREIN PETITIONER SELUDO. it has an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. . 1645. petitioners contend that the CA erred in interpreting the doctrine of primary jurisdiction in a very limited sense. − In the exercise of its power of supervision and control over electric cooperatives and other borrower. As the assigned errors are interrelated.

subject to the supervision and control of NEA which shall have the right to be represented and to participate in all Board meetings and deliberations and to approve all policies and resolutions.D.D. rules and regulations and motu proprio or upon petition of third parties. or with any of the terms of the Loan Agreement. Chapter III of Presidential Decree No.) A comparison of the original provisions of Sections 10 and 24 of P. x x x.) In addition. qualifications. . − (a) The Management of a Cooperative shall be vested in its Board. the NEA Board of Administrators may avail of any or all of the following remedies: x x x x.D. to conduct investigations. (Emphasis supplied. (e) Take preventive and/or disciplinary measures including suspension and/or removal and replacement of any or all of the members of the Board of Directors. the NEA is empowered to issue orders. 1645. rules and regulations. No. Board of Directors. or supervised or controlled entities. Chapter III of P. No. other borrower institutions or supervised or controlled entities as the NEA Board of Administrators may deem fit and necessary and to take any other remedial measures as the law or the Loan Agreement may provide. officers or employees of the Cooperative. supervised or controlled entities. Section 24. 1645 would readily show that the intention of the framers of the amendatory law is to broaden the powers of the NEA. the procedures for holding meetings and other similar provisions shall be defined in the by-laws of the Cooperative subject to NEA policies. x x x x (Emphasis supplied. 269 is hereby amended to read as follows: Section 24. 269. Subsection (a). No. Subsection (a). states: Section 7. 269 and the amendatory provisions under Sections 5 and 7 of P. rules and regulations and/or decisions. referenda and other similar actions in all matters affecting said electric cooperatives and other borrower. The composition. as amended by Section 7 of P. the manner of elections and filling of vacancies. If the electric cooperative concerned or other similar entity fails after due notice to comply with NEA orders. Section 24. No.D.

) The Court. finds it erroneous on the part of the CA to rule that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not apply in the present case. No.restrain the commission of acts. the matter as to the validity of the resolution issued by the Board of Directors of SAMELCO II. the basic issue in the present case is not whether the RTC has jurisdiction over the petition for prohibition filed by respondent. is a matter which affects the said electric cooperative and. P. means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter. approve.D. thus. the Court agrees with petitioners' argument that to sustain the petition for prohibition filed by respondent with the RTC would constitute an unnecessary intrusion into the NEA's power of supervision and control over electric cooperatives. review.[6] Control. on the other hand. (Emphasis supplied. thus: Supervision and control shall include the authority to act directly whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to a subordinate. direct the performance of duty. the NEA is granted the authority to conduct investigations and other similar actions as well as to issue orders. comes within the ambit of the powers of the NEA as expressed in Sections 5 and 7 of P.A clear proof of such expanded powers is that. It is true that the RTC has jurisdiction over the petition for prohibition filed by respondent. 1645 clearly show that.D. No. . guidelines. supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. Certainly. the former may take such action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties. 269.[8] However. reverse or modify acts and decisions of subordinate officials or units. pursuant to its power of supervision and control. plans and programs x x x. A careful reading of the above-quoted provisions of P. which practically removed respondent from his position as a member of the Board of Directors and further disqualified him to run as such in the ensuing election. 1645. unlike P. 292. rules and regulations with respect to all matters affecting electric cooperatives. the issue is who between the RTC and the NEA has primary jurisdiction over the question of the validity of the Board Resolution issued by SAMELCO II. Book 4 of Executive Order No.D. In this regard.D. determine priorities in the execution of plans and programs. rather.[5] If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them. No. therefore. No. and prescribe standards. 1645 expressly provides for the authority of the NEA to exercise supervision and control over electric cooperatives. Chapter 7. otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987provides.[7] Section 38 (1). In administrative law.

the doctrines of primary jurisdiction and exhaustion of administrative remedies are subject to certain exceptions.[15] The availment of administrative remedy entails lesser expenses and provides for a speedier disposition of controversies. if the parties would not be unfairly disadvantaged. will shy away from a dispute until the system of administrative redress has been completed and complied with. It may not be amiss to reiterate the prevailing rule that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction applies where a claim is originally cognizable in the courts and comes into play whenever enforcement of the claim requires the resolution of issues which.[9] In such a case.Based on the foregoing discussions. then such remedy must be exhausted first before the courts power of judicial review can be sought. has been placed within the special competence of an administrative agency. absent any finding of waiver or estoppel. amounting to lack of jurisdiction.[11] has held that before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the courts. while the RTC has jurisdiction over the petition for prohibition filed by respondent. has primary jurisdiction to determine the issue of the validity of the subject resolution. it is a pre-condition that he avail himself of all administrative processes afforded him. the case may be dismissed for lack of cause of action. The Court.[10] Corollary to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies. (c) where there is unreasonable delay or official inaction that will irretrievably prejudice the complainant. the courts of justice. (d) where the amount involved is relatively so small as to make the rule impractical and oppressive.[12] The premature resort to the court is fatal to ones cause of action. dismiss the case without prejudice. (b) where the challenged administrative act is patently illegal. Hence.[14] The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is based on practical and legal reasons. if a remedy within the administrative machinery can be resorted to by giving the administrative officer every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction. (e) where the question involved is purely legal and will ultimately .[13]Accordingly. the necessary conclusion that can be arrived at is that. so as to give the administrative agency concerned every opportunity to correct its error and dispose of the case. to wit: (a) where there is estoppel on the part of the party invoking the doctrine. for reasons of comity and convenience. in a long line of cases. the NEA.[17] True.[16] Furthermore. in the exercise of its power of supervision and control. under a regulatory scheme. the court in which the claim is sought to be enforced may suspend the judicial process pending referral of such issues to the administrative body for its view or.

[21] Thus. are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. (k) where strong public interest is involved. (i) where the issue of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies has been rendered moot. as well as the Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Calbiga. 2005. Instead.[19] Moreover. It is settled that one of the requisites for a writ of prohibition to issue is that there is no plain.[18] Respondent. the petitioner must first exhaust all administrative remedies. While respondent alleged in his Urgent Petition for Prohibition that the subject resolution was issued with grave abuse of discretion and in violation of his right to due process. speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. are not purely legal questions. failed to show that the instant case falls under any of the above-enumerated exceptions. they involve a determination of factual matters which fall within the competence of the NEA to ascertain. Finally.have to be decided by the courts of justice. (h) where the controverted acts violate due process. 2006. the instant petition is GRANTED. respondent's failure to file a complaint before the NEA prevents him from filing a petition for prohibition before the RTC. speedy and adequate remedy. . and (l) in quo warranto proceedings. however. Branch 33. 2006 and July 12. (f) where judicial intervention is urgent. A new judgment is entered DISMISSING the Urgent Petition for Prohibition (Special Civil Action No. Samar. the Court agrees with petitioners' contention that the availability of an administrative remedy via a complaint filed before the NEA precludes respondent from filing a petition for prohibition before the court. respectively. mere allegation of arbitrariness will not suffice to vest in the trial court the power that has been specifically granted by law to special government agencies.[20] In order that prohibition will lie. the issues raised in the petition for prohibition. dated May 6. (g) where the application of the doctrine may cause great and irreparable damage. (j) where there is no other plain. WHEREFORE. C-2005-1085) filed by respondent Ananias D. Seludo. particularly the issue of whether or not there are valid grounds to disallow respondent from attending SAMELCO's Board meetings and to disqualify him from running for re-election as a director of the said Board. Jr. SO ORDERED. The questioned Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated January 26. 2005 and September 15.

PEOPLE When is a litigant estopped by laches from assailing the jurisdiction of a tribunal? This is the paramount issue raised in this petition for review of the February 28. the CA affirmed the petitioners conviction but modified the penalty imposed and the damages awarded. Sibonghanoy. Pertinent are the following antecedent facts and proceedings: On July 8. which is initiated and filed not by him but by the public prosecutor. and subsequently ruling that the speed limit thereto is only 20 kilometers per hour. the information filed against the petitioner does not contain an allegation to that effect? . Branch 18. 1998. which was initiated and filed by the public prosecutor before the wrong court.R. constitute laches in relation to the doctrine laid down in Tijam v. the petitioner questioned. more importantly. the trial courts jurisdiction. Does the fact that the petitioner failed to raise the issue of jurisdiction during the trial of this case. the trial court convicted the petitioner as charged.[4] The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. the petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari raising the following issues for our resolution: a. 2235-M-94. Finding no other ground to reverse the trial courts decision. 22697. CR No. an information[3] for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide was filed against the petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan. for the first time. among others. when no evidence whatsoever to that effect was ever presented by the prosecution during the trial of this case? d. however. does the active participation of the petitioner in the trial of his case. thus. in the challenged decision.[6] In his appeal before the CA. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in convicting the petitioner for homicide through reckless imprudence (the legally correct designation is reckless imprudence resulting to homicide) with violation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code when the prosecution did not prove this during the trial and. constitute enough incriminating evidence to warrant his conviction for the crime charged? c. 1994. he was already estopped by laches from asserting the trial courts lack of jurisdiction. Does the admission of the petitioner that it is difficult to immediately stop a bus while it is running at 40 kilometers per hour for the purpose of avoiding a person who unexpectedly crossed the road. notwithstanding the fact that said issue was immediately raised in petitioners appeal to the Honorable Court of Appeals? Conversely. amount to estoppel? b.[5] Trial on the merits ensued and on August 19.[8] Dissatisfied.[7] The appellate court. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in considering the place of accident as falling within Item 4 of Section 35 (b) of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.FIGUEROA y CERVANTES VS. 2001 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G. considered the petitioner to have actively participated in the trial and to have belatedly attacked the jurisdiction of the RTC.

which continuously confounds the bench and the bar. Does the uncontroverted testimony of the defense witness Leonardo Hernal that the victim unexpectedly crossed the road resulting in him getting hit by the bus driven by the petitioner not enough evidence to acquit him of the crime charged?[9] Applied uniformly is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the court to hear and decide a case is conferred by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action. The petitioner.[13] jurisdiction to hear and try the same is conferred on the Municipal Trial Courts (MTCs). Municipal Trial Courts.[10] In this case. for his part. That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal negligence. and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise: xxxx (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine. they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof. As the imposable penalty for the crime charged herein is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods or imprisonment for 2 years. As undue delay is further absent herein. and regardless of other imposable accessory or other penalties. irrespective of kind. at the time the criminal information for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide with violation of the Automobile Law (now Land Transportation and Traffic Code) was filed. nature. including the civil liability arising from such offenses or predicated thereon. .Except in cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and the Sandiganbayan. While both the appellate court and the Solicitor General acknowledge this fact. unless such statute provides for a retroactive application thereof. the Metropolitan Trial Courts.P. 7691. they nevertheless are of the position that the principle of estoppel by laches has already precluded the petitioner from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC the trial went on for 4 years with the petitioner actively participating therein and without him ever raising the jurisdictional infirmity. therefore. counters that the lack of jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter may be raised at any time even for the first time on appeal. the RTC of Bulacan does not have jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. we shall analyze the various Court decisions on the matter. 2235-M-94. 129[11] had already been amended by Republic Act No.) Blg. Clearly. To settle once and for all this problem of jurisdiction vis--vis estoppel by laches.e. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts. value or amount thereof: Provided.[12] The said provision thus reads: Sec. Section 32(2) of Batas Pambansa (B. the principle of laches will not be applicable. 4 months and 1 day to 6 years. 32. Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases. however.

from assailing such jurisdiction. italics ours. 189. as that the court had no jurisdiction. this Court has declared that unless jurisdiction has been conferred by some legislative act..S. 12. on appeal. x x x[16] Later. Chipman vs.)[18] But in Pindagan Agricultural Co. 252. Inc. where.. The rule that jurisdiction is conferred by law. to assume an inconsistent positionthat the lower court had jurisdiction. p.) Jurisdiction over the subject-matter in a judicial proceeding is conferred by the sovereign authority which organizes the court.S. he is estopped. the court may dismiss the proceeding ex mero motu. 861-863). pp. 388-389. v. In such case. in not sustaining the plea of lack of jurisdiction by the plaintiff-appellee therein. Casiano. no court or tribunal can act on a matter submitted to it. and large array of cases there cited). such. to assert that the former indictment was valid. made the following observations: . that such court had jurisdiction. of Pl. on appeal.[14] We went on to state in U. vol. v. and the case was heard and decided upon a given theory.[19] the Court. for the same must exist as a matter of law. Dans. and subject to objection at any stage of the proceedings. either in the court below or on appeal (Ency. and indeed. when subsequently indicted. De La Santa[15] that: It has been frequently held that a lack of jurisdiction over the subject-matter is fatal. the party who induced it to adopt such theory will not be permitted. and may not be conferred by consent of the parties or by estoppel (5 C. (4 Ill. sec. for instance. has no bearing thereon. and does not depend upon the will of the parties.As early as 1901. Here. Similarly. 496.. where the subject-matter is not within the jurisdiction. 79. it is given only by law and in the manner prescribed by law and an objection based on the lack of such jurisdiction can not be waived by the parties. the principle of estoppel applies. the parties are not barred. after the jury was impaneled and sworn.J. The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of jurisdiction seemingly depends upon whether the lower court actually had jurisdiction or not. Corpus Juris Secundum says: Where accused has secured a decision that the indictment is void. p. 378. but the case was tried and decided upon the theory that it had jurisdiction. 133. he is estopped subsequently to assert.J. or has been granted an instruction based on its defective character directing the jury to acquit. & Pr.[17] the Court explained: 4. in People v. 190 Ind. in support of a defense of previous jeopardy. If it had no jurisdiction.. (22 C.. x x x (22 C. if the lower court had jurisdiction. accused cannot successfully plead former jeopardy to a new information. the court on accused's motion quashed the information on the erroneous assumption that the court had no jurisdiction.J. However... Thus.S.S.) Where accused procured a prior conviction to be set aside on the ground that the court was without jurisdiction. 59 Conn. Waterbury. there may be a new prosecution whether the indictment in the former prosecution was good or bad.

unlike the statute of limitations. 1960. a parallel case. 2613 was enacted on August 1. to do that which. 694. In the case just cited.R. the discouragement of stale claims and. 1956. Hyson Tan. such conduct being born out of a conviction that the actual real value of the properties in question actually exceeds the jurisdictional amount of this Court (over P200. This case was argued on January 29. after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief. in a general sense. is not a mere question of time but is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted. thus: x x x that an appellant who files his brief and submits his case to the Court of Appeals for decision. of March 23. for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time.L. but with intent of attacking its jurisdiction should the decision be unfavorable: x x x[20] Then came our ruling in Tijam v. 79). is failure or neglect. No. without questioning the latters jurisdiction until decision is rendered therein. Republic Act No. 1959.. the jurisdiction of this Court was never impugned until the adverse decision of this Court was handed down. for the reason that a contrary rule would encourage the undesirable practice of appellants submitting their cases for decision to the Court of Appeals in expectation of favorable judgment. Our minute resolution in G. by way of explaining the rule. after the decision has been rendered. vs. repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Dean vs. Laches.It is surprising why it is only now. Notwithstanding this fact. could or should have been done earlier. should be considered as having voluntarily waived so much of his claim as would exceed the jurisdiction of said Appellate Court. We expounded. et al. that the plaintiff-appellee presents the question of this Courts jurisdiction over the case. Thus. It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and. we speak of estoppel in pais. The conduct of counsel leads us to believe that they must have always been of the belief that notwithstanding said enactment of Republic Act 2613 this Court has jurisdiction of the case. 136 Or. it was further said that the question whether the court had jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the parties was not important in such cases because the party is barred from such conduct not because the judgment or order of the court is valid and . for the peace of society. Sibonghanoy[21] that a party may be barred by laches from invoking lack of jurisdiction at a late hour for the purpose of annulling everything done in the case with the active participation of said party invoking the plea. warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. is applicable to the conduct of plaintiff-appellee in this case. et al. it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time. of estoppel by deed or by record.000). L-10096. Filipinas Compaa de Seguros. and of estoppel by laches. Dean.R. thus: A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways and for different reasons. The doctrine of laches or of stale demands is based upon grounds of public policy which requires. 86 A. by exercising due diligence.

vs. L-15092. it invoked the jurisdiction of said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for a final adjudication on the merits. Young Men Labor Union etc. Burgess. vs. 127. Feb. Lucas.. 1948 and compel the judgment creditors to go up their Calvary once more. The facts of this case show that from the time the Surety became a quasi-party on July 31. G. Ed. 277. to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape a penalty. We would in effect be declaring as useless all the proceedings had in the present case since it was commenced on July 19. even on appeal. Montelibano et al. and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction. This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. have applied the principle of estoppel by laches. 659). at several stages of the proceedings in the court a quo. Thus. 273. it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the court (Pease vs. vs. when adverseas well as in Pindagan etc. only if favorable. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. It failed to do so. however. 35 L.. according to the law then in force.S..[22] For quite a time since we made this pronouncement in Sibonghanoy.R. The Court of Industrial Relations et al. September 26. 141 U. in Calimlim v. p. 1963 (supra)to the effect that we frown upon the undesirable practice of a party submitting his case for decision and then accepting the judgment. 37 S. It was only after an adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction. in resolving issues that involve the belated invocation of lack of jurisdiction. Furthermore. Rathbun-Jones etc. L-20307. 283. 58. and Mejia vs.S. vs. 16 Wyo. Dans et al. Bacolod-Murcia Milling Co. McBride. instead a blanket doctrine had been . And in Littleton vs. 1962. It is to be regretted.[23] we pointed out that Sibonghanoy was developing into a general rule rather than the exception: A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties.conclusive as an adjudication. L-14591. 715. it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering an adverse decision on the merits. St. G. 1965. 243 U. Inc. 61 L. that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein.R. 100 Phil. courts and tribunals. 1948. 26. Instead. G.R. Louis etc. Ramirez. but for the reason that such a practice cannot be toleratedobviously for reasons of public policy. Ed. The inequity and unfairness of this is not only patent but revolting.Ct. The exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of non- waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and. the Court said that it is not right for a party who has affirmed and invoked the jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an affirmative relief.. Upon this same principle is what We said in the three cases mentioned in the resolution of the Court of Appeals of May 20. it could have raised the question of the lack of jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Cebu to take cognizance of the present action by reason of the sum of money involved which. as well as in the Court of Appeals. was within the original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts. Were we to sanction such conduct on its part..

1993. for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time. became the rule rather than the exception. 224 SCRA 477. It did so only in its motion for reconsideration of the decision of the lower court after it had received an adverse decision. could or should have been done earlier. it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time. as foretold in Calimlim. As this Court held in Pantranco North Express. 1985. Court of Appeals (G. respondent actively participated in all stages of the proceedings before the trial court and invoked its authority by asking for an affirmative relief. respondent is estopped from challenging the trial courts jurisdiction. Petitioner thus foreclosed its right to raise the issue of jurisdiction by its own inaction. In the instant case. Fastforms Philippines. It was ruled that the lack of jurisdiction having been raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed almost fifteen (15) years after the questioned ruling had been rendered. the Sibonghanoy doctrine. we refused to apply the ruling in Sibonghanoy.[25] the Court ruled: While it is true that jurisdiction may be raised at any time. we held: Moreover. the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court that rendered the questioned ruling was held to be barred by estoppel by laches. Inc.. by exercising due diligence. July 5. (italics ours) Similarly. In PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. 1989 when it filed its motion for reconsideration of the lower courts decision that petitioner raised the question of the lower courts lack of jurisdiction. to do that which. No. participation in all stages of the case before the trial court. which by sheer volume are too plentiful to mention. virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. from the time it filed its answer to the second amended complaint on April 16. vs.[24] In Calimlim. such a plea may no longer be raised for being barred by laches. that included invoking its authority in asking for affirmative relief. we ruled: . In Sibonghanoy. effectively barred petitioner by estoppel from challenging the courts jurisdiction. The Court accorded supremacy to the time- honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Court of Appeals. this rule presupposes that estoppel has not supervened. warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert it. in Soliven v. Notably. especially when an adverse judgment has been rendered. laches is failure or neglect.repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception. we note that petitioner did not question at all the jurisdiction of the lower court x x x in its answers to both the amended complaint and the second amended complaint. Inc.R. in subsequent cases decided after Calimlim. Clearly. As defined in said case. in the subsequent case of Sta. despite the fact that the one who benefited from the plea of lack of jurisdiction was the one who invoked the courts jurisdiction. Cabrigas. vs. Lucia Realty and Development. petitioner did not question the lower courts jurisdiction. It was only on December 29. 105180. Yet. As such. and who later obtained an adverse judgment therein. 491). Inc. but rather the general rule.

In fine. that the ruling in Sibonghanoy stands as an exception. rather than the general rule. by exercising due diligence. bars such party from challenging the courts jurisdiction (PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. including the invocation of its authority in asking for affirmative relief. 297 SCRA 402 [1998]). was not estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the labor arbiter before the NLRC on appeal. Metromedia. Inc. a litigants participation in all stages of the case before the trial court. it contends that lack of jurisdiction could no longer be used as a ground for dismissal after trial had ensued and ended. we stated. Province of Bulacan vs. is that. The Court frowns upon the undesirable practice of a party participating in the proceedings and submitting his case for decision and then accepting judgment. it is . However. In effect. only if favorable. it was found by the trial court in its 30 September 1996 decision in LCR Case No. NLRC. however. 241 SCRA 36 [1995]). thus. repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Asset Privatization Trust vs. Sibonghanoy. Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals. in the 2005 case of Metromedia Times Corporation v. and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction.[29] the Court clarified that: Petitioner argues that the CAs affirmation of the trial courts dismissal of its case was erroneous. citing Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative. vs. NLRC.[27] where the issue of lack of jurisdiction was raised only in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on appeal. private respondents actively participated in the reconstitution proceedings by filing pleadings and presenting its evidence. held that a party may be barred from questioning a courts jurisdiction after being invoked to secure affirmative relief against its opponent. 298 SCRA 517 [1998]. 300 SCRA 579 [1998]. which has been used quite successfully in a number of cases to thwart dismissals based on lack of jurisdiction. A party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief. The Court has constantly upheld the doctrine that while jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage. it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case. (italics ours)[26] Noteworthy. could or should have been done earlier.In the case at bar. Private respondents have thus foreclosed their right to raise the issue of jurisdiction by their own actions. to do that which. after examining the doctrines of jurisdiction vis--vis estoppel. Court of Appeals. Sycip. Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time. The above argument is anchored on estoppel by laches. 299 SCRA 442 [1998]). They invoked the trial courts jurisdiction in order to obtain affirmative relief the reconstitution of their titles. Tijam v. when adverse (Producers Bank of the Philippines vs. Q-60161(93) that private respondents (who filed the petition for reconstitution of titles) failed to comply with both sections 12 and 13 of RA 26 and therefore. in which this doctrine was espoused. laches prevents the issue of lack of jurisdiction from being raised for the first time on appeal by a litigant whose purpose is to annul everything done in a trial in which it has actively participated. private respondents never questioned the trial courts jurisdiction over its petition for reconstitution throughout the duration of LCR Case No. Q- 60161(93).[28] Later. considering that a full-blown trial had already been conducted. in Francel Realty Corporation v. On the contrary. Pastorin.

and lack of it affects the very authority of the court to take cognizance of and to render judgment on the action. that is. could or should have been done earlier. The reason is that jurisdiction is conferred by law. best characterized by the peculiar circumstances in Tijam vs.[30] Also. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. Sibonghanoy is an exceptional case because of the presence of laches. Such.negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time. The ruling in Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction is.[31] even if the pleader of lack of jurisdiction actively took part in the trial proceedings by presenting a witness to seek exoneration. Indeed. which we quote: A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it. said: Private respondent argues that the defense of lack of jurisdiction may be waived by estoppel through active participation in the trial. Moreover. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that in the cited case. reiterating the doctrine in Calimlim. In such controversies. it is the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time. the party invoking lack of jurisdiction did so only after fifteen years and at a stage when the proceedings had already been elevated to the CA.[32] . Ramirez. even on appeal. Catubig-Pastoral. Sibonghanoy. but rather the general rule. laches should be clearly present. The exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of non- waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and. virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. the general rule remains: a courts lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. the exception rather than the rule. warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. is not the general rule but an exception. instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception. even on appeal. In Sibonghanoy. however. by exercising due diligence. the Court. This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. in Mangaliag v. that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. That Sibonghanoy applies only to exceptional circumstances is clarified in Calimlim v. jurisdiction is determined by the averments of the complaint. however. which was defined therein as failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which. not by the defenses contained in the answer. warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert it. It is to be regretted. however.

the petitioner is in no way estopped by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC. Clearly. to bar a litigant from asserting the courts absence or lack of jurisdiction. Rather. lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it. Petitioner Atty.And in the more recent Regalado v.[33] the Court again emphasized that laches should be clearly present for the Sibonghanoy doctrine to be applicable. Her compliance with the appellate courts directive to show cause why she should not be cited for contempt and filing a single piece of pleading to that effect could not be considered as an active participation in the judicial proceedings so as to take the case within the milieu of Sibonghanoy. considering that he raised the lack thereof in his appeal . after the receipt of the Court of Appeals resolution finding her guilty of contempt. Indeed. In Sibonghanoy. even on appeal. In such controversies. it is the natural fear to disobey the mandate of the court that could lead to dire consequences that impelled her to comply. only supervenes in exceptional cases similar to the factual milieu of Tijam v. and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable length of time. warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. could or should have been done earlier. be. laches should have been clearly present. the fact that a person attempts to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of a court does not estop him from thereafter challenging its jurisdiction over the subject matter. This is especially true where the person seeking to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of the court does not thereby secure any advantage or the adverse party does not suffer any harm. since such jurisdiction must arise by law and not by mere consent of the parties. At several stages of the proceedings.[35] Applying the said doctrine to the instant case. Sibonghanoy. however. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that in the cited case. Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction by estoppel is the exception rather than the rule. as it has always been. It was only when the adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction. Estoppel by laches. in the court a quo as well as in the Court of Appeals. wavered on when to apply the exceptional circumstance in Sibonghanoy and on when to apply the general rule enunciated as early as in De La Santa and expounded at length in Calimlim. promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration assailing the said courts jurisdiction based on procedural infirmity in initiating the action. Regalado. that is. that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. to do that which. Regalario that was based on the landmark doctrine enunciated in Tijam v. by exercising due diligence. the Surety invoked the jurisdiction of the said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for final adjudication on the merits. Go. thus: Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time. The ruling in People v. The general rule should. the defense of lack of jurisdiction was raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed by the Surety almost 15 years after the questioned ruling had been rendered.[34] The Court. thus. the factual settings attendant in Sibonghanoy are not present in the case at bar.

. irrespective of whether the petitioner or complainant is entitled to any or all such reliefs. 2235-M-94 is hereby DISMISSED without prejudice. Nor can it be acquired through. we find it unnecessary to resolve the other issues raised in the petition.before the appellate court. will not sustain the defense of estoppel by laches unless it further appears that the party. Jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter of an action is conferred by the Constitution and the law. if the rights be then enforced. Jurisdiction should be determined by considering not only the status or the relationship of the parties but also the nature of the issues or questions that is the subject of the controversy. or waived by.[39] Moreover. is not favored by law. True. however. intervention of equities. including its decision. and not by the consent or waiver of the parties where the court otherwise would have no jurisdiction over the nature or subject matter of the action. estoppel does not apply to confer jurisdiction to a tribunal that has none over the cause of action. hence. SO ORDERED. At that time. any act or omission of the parties. Criminal Case No. WHEREFORE. and only in extraordinary circumstances.[36] In applying the principle of estoppel by laches in the exceptional case of Sibonghanoy. Moreover.[41] As we have stated in Heirs of Julian Dela Cruz and Leonora Talaro v. No laches will even attach when the judgment is null and void for want of jurisdiction. does not obtain in the instant case. and other causes. delay alone. Heirs of Alberto Cruz. the Court therein considered the patent and revolting inequity and unfairness of having the judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more after more or less 15 years. change of title.[43] With the above considerations. over the nature and subject matter of a petition or complaint is determined by the material allegations therein and the character of the relief prayed for. the doctrine of estoppel may be a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of injustice. has not sought to enforce them until the condition of the party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that he cannot be restored to his former state. susceptible to direct and collateral attacks. We note at this point that estoppel. x x x Indeed.[42] It is axiomatic that the jurisdiction of a tribunal. The doctrine must be applied with great care and the equity must be strong in its favor. though unreasonable.[38] When misapplied. a judgment rendered without jurisdiction over the subject matter is void. x x x x The proceedings before a court or tribunal without jurisdiction. being in the nature of a forfeiture. due to loss of evidence. no considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to attach. It is to be applied rarelyonly from necessity.[40] Hence. premises considered.[37] The same. are null and void. the jurisdiction of the court or tribunal is not affected by the defenses or theories set up by the defendant or respondent in his answer or motion to dismiss. the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. including a quasi-judicial officer or government agency. the Revised Rules of Court provides for remedies in attacking judgments rendered by courts or tribunals that have no jurisdiction over the concerned cases. knowing his rights.