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Republic of the Philippines "WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, it is

SUPREME COURT most respectfully prayed that after due notice and Ouano filed a motion for reconsideration but was
Manila hearing, judgment be rendered ordering defendant likewise denied by the RTC in its Order dated May
(Jovenal Ouano) to vacate the premises and restore 27, 1998. The trial court ruled it has jurisdiction over
THIRD DIVISION the lots to their original condition; pay plaintiff the case because "(i)t is of judicial knowledge that the
(PGTT) P100,000.00 as damages per year, beginning real properties situated in Cebu City command a
G.R. No. 134230 July 17, 2002 October, 1996 until he shall have vacated the higher valuation than those indicated in the tax
premises and restored the lots to their original declaration. The observation of plaintiff’s (PGTT’s)
JOVENAL OUANO, petitioner, condition; pay P100,000.00 as attorney's fees; and counsel as to the issue on damages is likewise
vs. pay P50,000.00 as expenses of litigation. sustained considering that, being a corporation, it
PGTT INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT may have incurred damages in the form of unrealized
CORPORATION and HON. JUDGE RAMON G. "Plaintiff prays for such other reliefs and remedies, profits."7
CODILLA, JR., respondents. just and equitable under the premises."2
Hence the present petition for certiorari filed by
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: On February 5, 1998, Ouano filed a motion to Ouano under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
dismiss the complaint on the ground that it is the Procedure, as amended, assailing the Orders of
PGTT International Investment Corporation (PGTT), Municipal Trial Court (MTC), not the RTC, which respondent judge dated March 6, 1998 and May 27,
respondent, is a corporation duly organized under has jurisdiction over it considering that the assessed 1998 as having been issued with grave abuse of
existing laws, with address at YASCO Bldg., M. J. value of the lots involved is only P2,910, as indicated discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Cuenco Ave., Cebu City. in the latest tax declaration,3 citing Section 19
(paragraph 2) and Section 33 (paragraph 3) of Batas At the outset, it is necessary to stress that a direct
On December 11, 1997, PGTT filed with the Pambansa Bilang 129 (The Judiciary Reorganization recourse to this Court is highly improper, for it
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 20, Cebu City, a Act of 1980), as amended by Republic Act No. violates the established policy of strict observance of
verified complaint against Jovenal Ouano, petitioner, 7691.4 the judicial hierarchy of courts.8 We need to
docketed as Civil Case No. CEB- 21319, entitled reiterate, for the guidance of petitioner, that this
"PGTT INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT In its opposition to Ouano’s motion, PGTT contends Court’s original jurisdiction to issue a writ of
CORPORATION, Plaintiff, vs. JUVENAL OUANO, that the RTC has jurisdiction since the market value certiorari (as well as prohibition, mandamus, quo
Defendant," for "Recovery of Ownership and of the lots is P49,760.00.5 Besides, the complaint is warranto, habeas corpus and injunction) is concurrent
Possession of Real Property and Damages."1 In its not only an action for recovery of ownership and with the Court of Appeals (CA), as in the present
complaint, PGTT alleged that it is the owner of Lot possession of real property, but also for damages case, and with the RTCs in proper cases within their
Nos. 1-10, Block 2 of the Sunnymeade Crescent exceeding P100,000.00, over which claim the RTC respective regions.9 However, this concurrence of
Subdivision located at Pit-os, Talamban, Cebu City. has exclusive original jurisdiction under Section 19 jurisdiction does not grant a party seeking any of the
Sometime in October of 1996, PGTT found that (paragraph 8) of the same law. extraordinary writs the absolute freedom to file his
Ouano uprooted the concrete monuments of the said petition with the court of his choice. This Court is a
lots, plowed them and planted corn thereon. Despite On March 6, 1998, the RTC, presided by Judge court of last resort, and must so remain if it is to
PGTT’s demand that he vacate the lots and restore Ramon G. Codilla, Jr., issued an Order denying the satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to it by
them to their original condition, Ouano refused, motion to dismiss, holding that: the Constitution and immemorial tradition.10 The
claiming he is the owner and lawful possessor of the hierarchy of courts determines the appropriate forum
380 square meters he occupied. Due to Ouano’s "This court believes that this court has jurisdiction to for such petitions. Thus, petitions for the issuance of
wrongful act, PGTT was deprived of the use of its try this case considering that the real properties such extraordinary writs against the first level
property and suffered damages in the amount of consist of ten parcels of land in a subdivision and the ("inferior") courts should be filed with the RTC, and
P100,000.00 a year. Likewise, PGTT was constrained court takes note that there is a discrepancy those against the latter, with the CA.11 A direct
to file the subject action and hired the services of his somewhere by the Office of the City Assessor in the invocation of this Court’s original jurisdiction to
counsel for P100,000.00. PGTT prayed: Assessment of the parcels of land for only less than issue these writs should be allowed only when there
P2,000.00 and that the government is very much at a are special and important reasons therefor, clearly
loss by these unrealistic valuation."6 and specifically set out in the petition. This is the
established policy. It is a policy that is necessary to "SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. – Regional Trial
prevent inordinate demands upon this Court’s time Likewise, Section 19 (paragraph 2) of the same law Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:
and attention which are better devoted to those reads:
matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to xxx
prevent further over-crowding of its docket.12 "Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. - The Regional
Unfortunately, the instant petition does not allege any Trial Court shall exercise exclusive original "(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive
special and compelling reason to justify a direct jurisdiction: of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s
recourse to this Court. However, we deem it more fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the
appropriate and practical to resolve the controversy in x x x. property in controversy exceeds One Hundred
order to avoid further delay, but only in this instance. Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) or, in such other cases
(2) In all civil actions, which involve the title to, or in Metro Manila, where the demand, exclusive of the
The lone issue for our resolution is whether the RTC possession of, real property, or any interest therein, above mentioned items exceeds Two hundred
has jurisdiction over Civil Case No. CEB-21319. where the assessed value of the property involved thousand pesos (P200,000.00)." (Emphasis ours)
exceeds Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or, for
The complaint seeks to recover from private civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value The above provision does not apply to the instant
respondent the ownership and possession of the lots exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) except case. It is applicable only to "all other cases" other
in question and the payment of damages. Since the actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer than an action involving title to, or possession of real
action involves ownership and possession of real of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which property in which the assessed value is the
property, the jurisdiction over the subject matter of is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, controlling factor in determining the court’s
the claim is determined by the assessed value, not the Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial jurisdiction. Besides, the same provision explicitly
market value, thereof, pursuant to Batas Pambansa Courts; excludes from the determination of the jurisdictional
Blg. 129, as amended by R.A. 7691. Section 33 amount the demand for "interest, damages of
(paragraph 3) of the said law provides: x x x." (Emphasis ours) whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses,
and costs". The exclusion of such damages is
"Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, It is undisputed that the assessed value of the reiterated in Section 33, paragraph 3 of the same
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial property involved, as shown by the corresponding tax Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended, quoted
Courts in Civil Cases. – Metropolitan Trial Courts, declaration, is only P2,910.00. As such, the earlier. The said damages are merely incidental to, or
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial complaint is well within the MTC’s P20,000.00 a consequence of, the main cause of action for
Courts shall exercise: jurisdictional limit. recovery of ownership and possession of real
property. In this connection, this Court issued
x x x. The finding of respondent judge that the value of the Administrative Circular No. 09-94 setting the
lots is higher than that indicated in the tax declaration guidelines in the implementation of R.A. 7691.
(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions and that, therefore, the RTC has jurisdiction over the Paragraph 2 states:
which involve title to, or possession of, real property, case is highly speculative. It is elementary that the
or any interest therein where the assessed value of the tax declaration indicating the assessed value of the "2. The exclusion of the term ‘damages of whatever
property or interest therein does not exceed Twenty property enjoys the presumption of regularity as it kind’ in determining the jurisdictional amount under
Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in has been issued by the proper government agency. Section 19 (8) and Section 33 (1) of B.P. Blg. 129, as
Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not amended by R.A. 7691, applies to cases where the
exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive Respondent judge further held that since the damages are merely incidental to or a consequence of
of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s complaint also seeks the recovery of damages the main cause of action. However, in cases where
fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in exceeding P100,000.00, then it is within the the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or
cases of land not declared for taxation purposes, the competence of the RTC pursuant to Section 19 one of the causes of action, the amount of such claim
value of such property shall be determined by the (paragraph 8) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of
assessed value of the adjacent lots. amended by R.A. 7691, which states: the court." (Emphasis ours)

x x x." (Emphasis ours)

We thus find that in issuing the assailed orders
denying petitioner’s motion to dismiss, thus taking
cognizance of the case, the RTC committed grave
abuse of discretion.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED.

The assailed Orders issued by respondent RTC on
March 6, 1998 and May 27, 1998 in Civil Case No.
CEB-21319 are SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the
complaint is ordered DISMISSED.