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G.R. No.

187587 June 5, 2013

NAGKAKAISANG MARALITA NG SITIO MASIGASIG, INC., Petitioner,


vs.
MILITARY SHRINE SERVICES - PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE, DEPARTMENT OF
NATIONAL DEFENSE, Respondent.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 187654

WESTERN BICUTAN LOT OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., represented by its Board of


Directors, Petitioner,
vs.
MILITARY SHRINE SERVICES - PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE, DEPARTMENT OF
NATIONAL DEFENSE, Respondent.

DECISION

SERENO, CJ.:

Before us are consolidated Petitions for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the
Decision1promulgated on 29 April 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 97925.

THE FACTS

The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows:

On 12 July 1957, by virtue of Proclamation No. 423, President Carlos P. Garcia reserved parcels of land
in the Municipalities of Pasig, Taguig, Parañaque, Province of Rizal and Pasay City for a military
reservation. The military reservation, then known as Fort William McKinley, was later on renamed Fort
Andres Bonifacio (Fort Bonifacio).

On 28 May 1967, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (President Marcos) issued Proclamation No. 208,
amending Proclamation No. 423, which excluded a certain area of Fort Bonifacio and reserved it for a
national shrine. The excluded area is now known as LibinganngmgaBayani, which is under the
administration of herein respondent Military Shrine Services – Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (MSS-
PVAO).

Again, on 7 January 1986, President Marcos issued Proclamation No. 2476, further amending
Proclamation No. 423, which excluded barangaysLowerBicutan, Upper Bicutan and Signal Village from
the operation of Proclamation No. 423 and declared it open for disposition under the provisions of
Republic Act Nos. (R.A.) 274 and 730.

At the bottom of Proclamation No. 2476, President Marcos made a handwritten addendum, which reads:

"P.S. – This includes Western Bicutan

(SGD.) Ferdinand E. Marcos"2

The crux of the controversy started when Proclamation No. 2476 was published in the Official Gazette 3 on
3 February 1986, without the above-quoted addendum.

Years later, on 16 October 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino (President Aquino) issued Proclamation
No. 172 which substantially reiterated Proclamation No. 2476, as published, but this time excluded Lots 1
and 2 of Western Bicutan from the operation of Proclamation No. 423 and declared the said lots open for
disposition under the provisions of R.A. 274 and 730.

Memorandum Order No. 119, implementing Proclamation No. 172, was issued on the same day.

Through the years, informal settlers increased and occupied some areas of Fort Bonifacio including
portions of the LibinganngmgaBayani. Thus, Brigadier General Fredelito Bautista issued General Order
No. 1323 creating Task Force Bantay (TFB), primarily to prevent further unauthorized occupation and to
cause the demolition of illegal structures at Fort Bonifacio.
On 27 August 1999, members of petitioner NagkakaisangMaralitangSitioMasigasig, Inc. (NMSMI) filed a
Petition with the Commission on Settlement of Land Problems (COSLAP), where it was docketed as
COSLAP Case No. 99-434. The Petition prayed for the following: (1) the reclassification of the areas they
occupied, covering Lot 3 of SWO-13-000-298 of Western Bicutan, from public land to alienable and
disposable land pursuant to Proclamation No. 2476; (2) the subdivision of the subject lot by the Director of
Lands; and (3) the Land Management Bureau’s facilitation of the distribution and sale of the subject lot to
its bona fide occupants.4

On 1 September 2000, petitioner Western Bicutan Lot Owners Association, Inc. (WBLOAI) filed a Petition-
in-Intervention substantially praying for the same reliefs as those prayed for by NMSMI with regard to the
area the former then occupied covering Lot 7 of SWO-00-001302 in Western Bicutan.5

Thus, on 1 September 2006, COSLAP issued a Resolution6 granting the Petition and declaring the
portions of land in question alienable and disposable, with Associate Commissioner Lina Aguilar-General
dissenting.7

The COSLAP ruled that the handwritten addendum of President Marcos was an integral part of
Proclamation No. 2476, and was therefore, controlling. The intention of the President could not be
defeated by the negligence or inadvertence of others. Further, considering that Proclamation

No. 2476 was done while the former President was exercising legislative powers, it could not be
amended, repealed or superseded, by a mere executive enactment. Thus, Proclamation No. 172 could
not have superseded much less displaced Proclamation No. 2476, as the latter was issued on October
16, 1987 when President Aquino’s legislative power had ceased.

In her Dissenting Opinion, Associate Commissioner LinaAguilarGeneral stressed that pursuant to Article 2
of the Civil Code, publication is indispensable in every case. Likewise, she held that when the provision of
the law is clear and unambiguous so that there is no occasion for the court to look into legislative intent,
the law must be taken as it is, devoid of judicial addition or subtraction. 8 Finally, she maintained that the
Commission had no authority to supply the addendum originally omitted in the published version of
Proclamation No. 2476, as to do so would be tantamount to encroaching on the field of the legislature.

Herein respondent MSS-PVAO filed a Motion for Reconsideration,9 which was denied by the COSLAP in
a Resolution dated 24 January 2007.10

MSS-PVAO filed a Petition with the Court of Appeals seeking to reverse the COSLAP Resolutions dated
1 September 2006 and 24 January 2007.

Thus, on 29 April 2009, the then Court of Appeals First Division rendered the assailed Decision granting
MSS-PVAO’s Petition, the dispositive portion of which reads:

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The Resolutions dated
September 1, 2006 and January 24, 2007 issued by the Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems
in COSLAP Case No. 99-434 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In lieu thereof, the petitions of
respondents in COSLAP Case No. 99-434 are DISMISSED, for lack of merit, as discussed herein.
Further, pending urgent motions filed by respondents are likewise

DENIED.SO ORDERED.11 (Emphasis in the original)

Both NMSMI12 and WBLOAI13 appealed the said Decision by filing their respective Petitions for Review
with this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

THE ISSUES

Petitioner NMSMI raises the following issues:

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN RULING THAT
PROCLAMATION NO. 2476 DID NOT INCLUDE ANY PORTION OF WESTERN BICUTAN AS THE
HANDWRITTEN NOTATION BY PRESIDENT MARCOS ON THE SAID PROCLAMATION WAS NOT
PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE.

II
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN RULING THAT
PROCLAMATION NO. 172 LIKEWISE EXCLUDED THE PORTION OF LAND OCCUPIED BY MEMBER
OF HEREIN PETITIONER.

III

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THAT
THE HON. COSLAP HAS BROAD POWERS TO RECOMMEND TO THE PRESIDENT >INNOVATIVE
MEASURES TO RESOLVE EXPEDITIOUSLY VARIOUS LAND CASES.14

On the other hand, petitioner WBLOAI raises this sole issue:

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE
SUBJECT PROPERTY WAS NOT DECLARED ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE BY VIRTUE OF
PROCLAMATION NO. 2476 BECAUSE THE HANDWRITTEN ADDENDUM OF PRESIDENT
FERDINAND E. MARCOS INCLUDING WESTERN BICUTAN IN PROCLAMATION NO. 2476 WAS NOT
INCLUDED IN THE PUBLICATION.15

Both Petitions boil down to the principal issue of whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the
subject lots were not alienable and disposable by virtue of Proclamation No. 2476 on the ground that the
handwritten addendum of President Marcos was not included in the publication of the said law.

THE COURT’S RULING

We deny the Petitions for lack of merit.

Considering that petitioners were occupying Lots 3 and 7 of Western Bicutan (subject lots), their claims
were anchored on the handwritten addendum of President Marcos to Proclamation No. 2476. They allege
that the former President intended to include all Western Bicutan in the reclassification of portions of Fort
Bonifacio as disposable public land when he made a notation just below the printed version of
Proclamation No. 2476.

However, it is undisputed that the handwritten addendum was not included when Proclamation No. 2476
was published in the Official Gazette.

The resolution of whether the subject lots were declared as reclassified and disposable lies in the
determination of whether the handwritten addendum of President Marcos has the force and effect of law.
In relation thereto, Article 2 of the Civil Code expressly provides:

ART. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official
Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. This Code shall take effect one year after such publication.

Under the above provision, the requirement of publication is indispensable to give effect to the law, unless
the law itself has otherwise provided. The phrase "unless otherwise provided" refers to a different
effectivity date other than after fifteen days following the completion of the law’s publication in the Official
Gazette, but does not imply that the requirement of publication may be dispensed with. The issue of the
requirement of publication was already settled in the landmark case Tañada v. Hon. Tuvera, 16 in which we
had the occasion to rule thus:

Publication is indispensable in every case, but the legislature may in its discretion provide that the usual
fifteen-day period shall be shortened or extended. An example, as pointed out by the present Chief
Justice in his separate concurrence in the original decision, is the Civil Code which did not become
effective after fifteen days from its publication in the Official Gazette but "one year after such publication."
The general rule did not apply because it was "otherwise provided."

It is not correct to say that under the disputed clause publication may be dispensed with altogether. The
reason is that such omission would offend due process insofar as it would deny the public knowledge of
the laws that are supposed to govern it. Surely, if the legislature could validly provide that a law shall
become effective immediately upon its approval notwithstanding the lack of publication (or after an
unreasonably short period after publication), it is not unlikely that persons not aware of it would be
prejudiced as a result; and they would be so not because of a failure to comply with it but simply because
they did not know of its existence. Significantly, this is not true only of penal laws as is commonly
supposed. One can think of many non-penal measures, like a law on prescription, which must also be
communicated to the persons they may affect before they can begin to operate.
x xxx

The term "laws" should refer to all laws and not only to those of general application, for strictly speaking
all laws relate to the people in general albeit there are some that do not apply to them directly. An
example is a law granting citizenship to a particular individual, like a relative of President Marcos who was
decreed instant naturalization. It surely cannot be said that such a law does not affect the public although
it unquestionably does not apply directly to all the people. The subject of such law is a matter of public
interest which any member of the body politic may question in the political forums or, if he is a proper
party, even in the courts of justice. In fact, a law without any bearing on the public would be invalid as an
intrusion of privacy or as class legislation or as an 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 the people only, and not to the public as a whole.

We hold therefore that all statutes, including those of local application and private laws, shall be published
as a condition for their effectivity, which shall begin fifteen days after publication unless a different
effectivity date is fixed by the legislature.

Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and executive orders promulgated by the President in the
exercise of legislative powers whenever the same are validly delegated by the legislature or, at present,
directly conferred by the Constitution. Administrative rules and regulations must also be published if their
purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to a valid delegation.

x xxx

Accordingly, even the charter of a city must be published notwithstanding that it applies to only a portion
of the national territory and directly affects only the inhabitants of that place. All presidential decrees must
be published, including even, say, those naming a public place after a favored individual or exempting him
from certain prohibitions or requirements. The circulars issued by the Monetary Board must be published
if they are meant not merely to interpret but to "fill in the details" of the Central Bank Act which that body
is supposed to enforce.

x xxx

We agree that the publication must be in full or it is no publication at all since its purpose is to inform the
public of the contents of the laws. As correctly pointed out by the petitioners, the mere mention of the
number of the presidential decree, the title of such decree, its whereabouts (e.g., "with Secretary
Tuvera"), the supposed date of effectivity, and in a mere supplement of the Official Gazette cannot satisfy
the publication requirement.1âwphi1 This is not even substantial compliance. This was the manner,
incidentally, in which the General Appropriations Act for FY 1975, a presidential decree undeniably of
general applicability and interest, was "published" by the Marcos administration. The evident purpose was
to withhold rather than disclose information on this vital law.

x xxx

Laws must come out in the open in the clear light of the sun instead of skulking in the shadows with their
dark, deep secrets. Mysterious pronouncements and rumored rules cannot be recognized as binding
unless their existence and contents are confirmed by a valid publication intended to make full disclosure
and give proper notice to the people. The furtive law is like a scabbarded saber that cannot feint, parry or
cut unless the naked blade is drawn. (Emphases supplied)

Applying the foregoing ruling to the instant case, this Court cannot rely on a handwritten note that was not
part of Proclamation No. 2476 as published. Without publication, the note never had any legal force and
effect.

Furthermore, under Section 24, Chapter 6, Book I of the Administrative Code, "the publication of any law,
resolution or other official documents in the Official Gazette shall be prima facie evidence of its authority."
Thus, whether or not President Marcos intended to include Western Bicutan is not only irrelevant but
speculative. Simply put, the courts may not speculate as to the probable intent of the legislature apart
from the words appearing in the law.17 This Court cannot rule that a word appears in the law when,
evidently, there is none. In Pagpalain Haulers, Inc. v. Hon. Trajano,18 we ruled that "under Article 8 of the
Civil Code, 'judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the
legal system of the Philippines.' This does not mean, however, that courts can create law. The courts
exist for interpreting the law, not for enacting it. To allow otherwise would be violative of the principle of
separation of powers, inasmuch as the sole function of our courts is to apply or interpret the laws,
particularly where gaps or lacunae exist or where ambiguities becloud issues, but it will not arrogate unto
itself the task of legislating." The remedy sought in these Petitions is not judicial interpretation, but
another legislation that would amend the law ‘to include petitioners' lots in the reclassification.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petitions are hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The
assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 97925 dated 29 April 2009 is AFFIRMED in
toto. Accordingly, this Court's status quo order dated 17 June 2009 is hereby LIFTED. Likewise, all
pending motions to cite respondent in contempt is DENIED, having been rendered moot. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-63915 : December 29, 1986LORENZO M. TA;ADA, ABRAHAM F. SARMIENTO, and
MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD, INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC.
(MABINI),

Petitioners
, vs.
HON. JUANC. TUVERA, in his capacity as Executive Assistant to the President, HON. JOAQUIN
VENUS,in his capacity as Deputy Executive Assistant to the President, MELQUIADES P. DE LA
CRUZ,ETC., ET AL.,
Respondents.

RESOLUTION
CRUZ,
J.:
Due process was invoked by the petitioners in demanding the disclosure of a number of
presidentialdecrees which they claimed had not been published as required by law. The
government argued thatwhile publication was necessary as a rule, it was not so when it was
"otherwise provided," as when thedecrees themselves declared that they were to become
effective immediately upon their approval. Inthe decision of this case on April 24, 1985, the
Court affirmed the necessity for the publication of some of these decrees, declaring in the
dispositive portion as follows:WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish
in the Official Gazette all unpublishedpresidential issuances which are of general application,
and unless so published, they shall have nobinding force and effect.The petitioners are now
before us again, this time to move for reconsideration/clarification of thatdecision.
1
Specifically, they ask the following questions:1. What is meant by "law of public nature" or
"general applicability"?2. Must a distinction be made between laws of general applicability
and laws which are not?3. What is meant by "publication"?4. Where is the publication to be
made?5. When is the publication to be made?Resolving their own doubts, the petitioners
suggest that there should be no distinction between lawsof general applicability and those
which are not; that publication means complete publication; and thatthe publication must be
made forthwith in the Official Gazette.
2
In the Comment
3

required of the then Solicitor General, he claimed first that the motion was arequest for an
advisory opinion and should therefore be dismissed, and, on the merits, that
the clause"unless it is otherwise provided" in Article 2 of the Civil Code meant that the
publication requiredtherein was not always imperative; that publication, when necessary,
did not have to be made in theOfficial Gazette; and that in any case the subject decision
was concurred in only by three justices andconsequently not binding. This elicited a Reply
4

refuting these arguments. Came next the FebruaryRevolution and the Court required the
new Solicitor General to file a Rejoinder in view of thesupervening events, under Rule 3,
Section 18, of the Rules of Court. Responding, he submitted thatissuances intended only for
the internal administration of a government agency or for particularpersons did not have to
be 'Published; that publication when necessary must be in full and in theOfficial Gazette;
and that, however, the decision under reconsideration was not binding because it wasnot
supported by eight members of this Court.
5
The subject of contention is Article 2 of the Civil Code providing as follows:ART. 2. Laws
shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication inthe
Official Gazette
, unless it is otherwise provided. This Code shall take effect one year after suchpublication.

After a careful study of this provision and of the arguments of the parties, both on the
original petitionand on the instant motion, we have come to the conclusion and so hold, that
the clause "unless it isotherwise provided" refers to the date of effectivity and not to the
requirement of publication itself,which cannot in any event be omitted. This clause does not
mean that the legislature may make thelaw effective immediately upon approval, or on any
other date, without its previous publication.Publication is indispensable in every case, but
the legislature may in its discretion provide that theusual fifteen-day period shall be
shortened or extended. An example, as pointed out by the presentChief Justice in his
separate concurrence in the original decision,
6

is the Civil Code which did notbecome effective after fifteen days from its publication in the
Official Gazette but "one year after suchpublication." The general rule did not apply because
it was "otherwise provided. "It is not correct to say that under the disputed clause
publication may be dispensed with altogether.The reason. is that such omission would
offend due process insofar as it would deny the publicknowledge of the laws that are
supposed to govern the legislature could validly provide that a law eeffective immediately
upon its approval notwithstanding the lack of publication (or after anunreasonably short
period after publication), it is not unlikely that persons not aware of it would beprejudiced
as a result and they would be so not because of a failure to comply with but simplybecause
they did not know of its existence, Significantly, this is not true only of penal laws as
iscommonly supposed. One can think of many non-penal measures, like a law on
prescription, whichmust also be communicated to the persons they may affect before they
can begin to operate.We note at this point the conclusive presumption that every person
knows the law, which of coursepresupposes that the law has been published if
the presumption is to have any legal justification at all.It is no less important to remember
that Section 6 of the Bill of Rights recognizes "the right of thepeople to information on
matters of public concern," and this certainly applies to, among others, andindeed
especially, the legislative enactments of the government.The term "laws" should refer to all
laws and not only to those of general application, for strictlyspeaking all laws relate to the
people in general albeit there are some that do not apply to themdirectly. An example is a
law granting citizenship to a particular individual, like a relative of PresidentMarcos who was
decreed instant naturalization. It surely cannot be said that such a law does notaffect the
public although it unquestionably does not apply directly to all the people. The subject
of such law is a matter of public interest which any member of the body politic may question
in thepolitical forums or, if he is a proper party, even in the courts of justice. In fact, a law
without anybearing on the public would be invalid as an intrusion of privacy or as class
legislation or as an
ultravires
act of the legislature. To be valid, the law must invariably affect the public interest even if
itmight be directly applicable only to one individual, or some of the people only, and t to the
public as awhole.We hold therefore that
all
statutes, including those of local application and private laws, shall bepublished as a
condition for their effectivity, which shall begin fifteen days after publication unless
adifferenteffectivity date is fixed by the legislature.Covered by this rule are presidential
decrees and executive orders promulgated by the President in theexercise of legislative
powers whenever the same are validly delegated by the legislature or, atpresent, directly
conferred by the Constitution. administrative rules and regulations must a also bepublished
if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to a valid
delegation.Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is, regulating
only the personnel of the administrative agency and not the public, need not be published.
Neither is publication required of the so-called letters of instructions issued
by administrative superiors concerning the rules orguidelines to be followed by their
subordinates in the performance of their duties.Accordingly, even the charter of a city must
be published notwithstanding that it applies to only aportion of the national territory and
directly affects only the inhabitants of that place. All presidentialdecrees must be published,
including even, say, those naming a public place after a favored individualor exempting him
from certain prohibitions or requirements. The circulars issued by the MonetaryBoard must
be published if they are meant not merely to interpret but to "fill in the details" of the

Central Bank Act which that body is supposed to enforce.However, no publication is required
of the instructions issued by, say, the Minister of Social Welfare onthe case studies to be
made in petitions for adoption or the rules laid down by the head of agovernment agency on
the assignments or workload of his personnel or the wearing of officeuniforms.
Parenthetically, municipal ordinances are not covered by this rule but by the
LocalGovernmentCode.We agree that publication must be in full or it is no publication at all
since its purpose is to inform thepublic of the contents of the laws. As correctly pointed out
by the petitioners, the mere mention of thenumber of the presidential decree, the title of
such decree, its whereabouts (e.g., "with SecretaryTuvera"), the supposed date of
effectivity, and in a mere supplement of the Official Gazette cannotsatisfy the publication
requirement. This is not even substantial compliance. This was the manner,incidentally, in
which the General Appropriations Act for FY 1975, a presidential decree undeniably
of general applicability and interest, was "published" by the Marcos administration.
7
The evident purposewas to withhold rather than disclose information on this vital
law.Coming now to the original decision, it is true that only four justices were categorically
for publicationin the Official Gazette
8

and that six others felt that publication could be made elsewhere as long asthe people were
sufficiently informed.
9

One reserved his vote


10

and another merely acknowledgedthe need for due publication without indicating where it
should be made.
11

It is therefore necessaryfor the present membership of this Court to arrive at a clear


consensus on this matter and to lay downa binding decision supported by the necessary
vote.There is much to be said of the view that the publication need not be made in the
Official Gazette,considering its erratic releases and limited readership. Undoubtedly,
newspapers of general circulationcould better perform the function of communicating,
the laws to the people as such periodicals aremore easily available, have a wider readership,
and come out regularly. The trouble, though, is thatthis kind of publication is not the one
required or authorized by existing law. As far as we know, noamendment has been made of
Article 2 of the Civil Code. The Solicitor General has not pointed to sucha law, and we have
no information that it exists. If it does, it obviously has not yet been published.At any rate,
this Court is not called upon to rule upon the wisdom of a law or to repeal or modify it if we
find it impractical. That is not our function. That function belongs to the legislature. Our task
ismerely to interpret and apply the law as conceived and approved by the political
departments of thegovernment in accordance with the prescribed procedure. Consequently,
we have no choice but topronounce that under Article 2 of the Civil Code, the publication of
laws must be made in the OfficialGazett and not elsewhere, as a requirement for their
effectivity after fifteen days from suchpublication or after a different period provided by the
legislature.We also hold that the publication must be made forthwith or at least as soon as
possible, to give effectto the law pursuant to the said Article 2. There is that possibility, of
course, although not suggested bythe parties that a law could be rendered unenforceable by
a mere refusal of the executive, forwhatever reason, to cause its publication as required.
This is a matter, however, that we do not needto examine at this time.Finally, the claim of
the former Solicitor General that the instant motion is a request for an advisoryopinion is
untenable, to say the least, and deserves no further comment.The days of the secret laws
and the unpublished decrees are over. This is once again an open society,with all the acts of
the government subject to public scrutiny and available always to publiccognizance. This
has to be so if our country is to remain democratic, with sovereignty residing in thepeople
and all government authority emanating from them.Although they have delegated the
power of legislation, they retain the authority to review the work of their delegates and to
ratify or reject it according to their lights, through their freedom of expressionand their right
of suffrage. This they cannot do if the acts of the legislature are concealed.Laws must come
out in the open in the clear light of the sun instead of skulking in the shadows withtheir
dark, deep secrets. Mysterious pronouncements and rumored rules cannot be recognized as

binding unless their existence and contents are confirmed by a valid publication intended to
make fulldisclosure and give proper notice to the people. The furtive law is like
a scabbarded saber that cannotfeint parry or cut unless the naked blade is
drawn.WHEREFORE, it is hereby declared that all laws as above defined shall immediately
upon theirapproval, or as soon thereafter as possible, be published in full in the Official
Gazette, to becomeeffective only after fifteen days from their publication, or on another
date specified by the legislature,in accordance with Article 2 of the Civil Code.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 137873 April 20, 2001

D. M. CONSUNJI, INC., petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and MARIA J. JUEGO, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J.:

At around 1:30 p.m., November 2, 1990, Jose Juego, a construction worker of D. M. Consunji, Inc.,
fell 14 floors from the Renaissance Tower, Pasig City to his death.

PO3 Rogelio Villanueva of the Eastern Police District investigated the tragedy and filed a report
dated November 25, 1990, stating that:

x xx. [The] [v]ictim was rushed to [the] Rizal Medical Center in Pasig, Metro Manila where he
was pronounced dead on arrival (DOA) by the attending physician, Dr. Errol de Yzo[,] at
around 2:15 p.m. of the same date.

Investigation disclosed that at the given time, date and place, while victim Jose A. Juego
together with Jessie Jaluag and DelsoDestajo [were] performing their work as carpenter[s] at
the elevator core of the 14th floor of the Tower D, Renaissance Tower Building on board a
[p]latform made of channel beam (steel) measuring 4.8 meters by 2 meters wide with pinulid
plywood flooring and cable wires attached to its four corners and hooked at the 5 ton chain
block, when suddenly, the bolt or pin which was merely inserted to connect the chain block
with the [p]latform, got loose xxx causing the whole [p]latform assembly and the victim to fall
down to the basement of the elevator core, Tower D of the building under construction
thereby crushing the victim of death, save his two (2) companions who luckily jumped out for
safety.

It is thus manifest that Jose A. Juego was crushed to death when the [p]latform he was then
on board and performing work, fell. And the falling of the [p]latform was due to the removal or
getting loose of the pin which was merely inserted to the connecting points of the chain block
and [p]latform but without a safety lock.1

On May 9, 1991, Jose Juego’s widow, Maria, filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig a
complaint for damages against the deceased’s employer, D.M. Consunji, Inc. The employer raised,
among other defenses, the widow’s prior availment of the benefits from the State Insurance Fund.

After trial, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of the widow Maria Juego. The dispositive portion of
the RTC decision reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering defendant to pay plaintiff, as follows:

1. P50,000.00 for the death of Jose A. Juego.

2. P10,000.00 as actual and compensatory damages.

3. P464,000.00 for the loss of Jose A. Juego’s earning capacity.

4. P100,000.00 as moral damages.

5. P20,000.00 as attorney’s fees, plus the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.2

On appeal by D. M. Consunji, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the decision of the RTC in toto.

D. M. Consunji now seeks the reversal of the CA decision on the following grounds:

 THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE POLICE REPORT


WAS ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE OF THE ALLEGED NEGLIGENCE OF
PETITIONER.
 THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE DOCTRINE OF RES
IPSA LOQUITOR[sic] IS APPLICABLE TO PROVE NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART
OF PETITIONER.

 THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER IS


PRESUMED NEGLIGENT UNDER ARTICLE 2180 OF THE CIVIL CODE, AND

 THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT RESPONDENT IS NOT


PRECLUDED FROM RECOVERING DAMAGES UNDER THE CIVIL CODE. 3

Petitioner maintains that the police report reproduced above is hearsay and, therefore, inadmissible.
The CA ruled otherwise. It held that said report, being an entry in official records, is an exception to
the hearsay rule.

The Rules of Court provide that a witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his
personal knowledge, that is, which are derived from his perception.4 A witness, therefore, may not
testify as what he merely learned from others either because he was told or read or heard the same.
Such testimony is considered hearsay and may not be received as proof of the truth of what he has
learned.5 This is known as the hearsay rule.

Hearsay is not limited to oral testimony or statements; the general rule that excludes hearsay as
evidence applies to written, as well as oral statements.6

The theory of the hearsay rule is that the many possible deficiencies, suppressions, sources of error
and untrustworthiness, which lie underneath the bare untested assertion of a witness, may be best
brought to light and exposed by the test of cross-examiantion.7 The hearsay rule, therefore, excludes
evidence that cannot be tested by cross-examination.8

The Rules of Court allow several exceptions to the rule,9 among which are entries in official records.
Section 44, Rule 130 provides:

Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty made in the performance of
his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty
specially enjoined by law are prima facieevidence of the facts therein stated.

In Africa, et al. vs. Caltex (Phil.), Inc., et al.,10 this Court, citing the work of Chief Justice Moran,
enumerated the requisites for admissibility under the above rule:

(a) that the entry was made by a public officer or by another person specially enjoined by law
to do so;

(b) that it was made by the public officer in the performance of his duties, or by such other
person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law; and

(c) that the public officer or other person had sufficient knowledge of the facts by him stated,
which must have been acquired by him personally or through official information.

The CA held that the police report meets all these requisites. Petitioner contends that the last
requisite is not present.

The Court notes that PO3 Villanueva, who signed the report in question, also testified before the trial
court. In Rodriguez vs. Court of Appeals,11 which involved a Fire Investigation Report, the officer who
signed the fire report also testified before the trial court. This Court held that the report was
inadmissible for the purpose of proving the truth of the statements contained in the report but
admissible insofar as it constitutes part of the testimony of the officer who executed the report.

x xx. Since Major Enriquez himself took the witness stand and was available for cross-
examination, the portions of the report which were of his personal knowledge or which
consisted of his perceptions and conclusions were not hearsay. The rest of the report, such
as the summary of the statements of the parties based on their sworn statements (which
were annexed to the Report) as well as the latter, having been included in the first purpose of
the offer [as part of the testimony of Major Enriquez], may then be considered
as independently relevant statements which were gathered in the course of the investigation
and may thus be admitted as such, but not necessarily to prove the truth thereof. It has been
said that:

"Where regardless of the truth or falsity of a statement, the fact that it has been made
is relevant, the hearsay rule does not apply, but the statement may be shown.
Evidence as to the making of such statement is not secondary but primary, for the
statement itself may constitute a fact in issue, or be circumstantially relevant as to
the existence of such a fact."

When Major Enriquez took the witness stand, testified for petitioners on his Report and made
himself available for cross-examination by the adverse party, the Report, insofar as it proved
that certain utterances were made (but not their truth), was effectively removed from the
ambit of the aforementioned Section 44 of Rule 130. Properly understood, this section does
away with the testimony in open court of the officer who made the official record, considers
the matter as an exception to the hearsay rule and makes the entries in said official record
admissible in evidence as prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. The underlying
reasons for this exceptionary rule are necessity and trustworthiness, as explained in Antillon
v. Barcelon.

The litigation is unlimited in which testimony by officials is daily needed; the


occasions in which the officials would be summoned from his ordinary duties to
declare as a witness are numberless. The public officers are few in whose daily work
something is not done in which testimony is not needed from official sources. Were
there no exception for official statements, hosts of officials would be found devoting
the greater part of their time to attending as witnesses in court or delivering
deposition before an officer. The work of administration of government and the
interest of the public having business with officials would alike suffer in consequence.
For these reasons, and for many others, a certain verity is accorded such
documents, which is not extended to private documents. (3 Wigmore on Evidence,
Sec. 1631).

The law reposes a particular confidence in public officers that it presumes they will
discharge their several trusts with accuracy and fidelity; and, therefore, whatever acts
they do in discharge of their duty may be given in evidence and shall be taken to be
true under such a degree of caution as to the nature and circumstances of each case
may appear to require.

It would have been an entirely different matter if Major Enriquez was not presented to testify
on his report. In that case the applicability of Section 44 of Rule 143 would have been ripe for
determination, and this Court would have agreed with the Court of Appeals that said report
was inadmissible since the aforementioned third requisite was not satisfied. The statements
given by the sources of information of Major Enriquez failed to qualify as "official
information," there being no showing that, at the very least, they were under a duty to give
the statements for record.

Similarly, the police report in this case is inadmissible for the purpose of proving the truth of the
statements contained therein but is admissible insofar as it constitutes part of the testimony of PO3
Villanueva.

In any case, the Court holds that portions of PO3 Villanueva’s testimony which were of his personal
knowledge suffice to prove that Jose Juego indeed died as a result of the elevator crash. PO3
Villanueva had seen Juego’s remains at the morgue,12 making the latter’s death beyond dispute. PO3
Villanueva also conducted an ocular inspection of the premises of the building the day after the
incident13 and saw the platform for himself.14 He observed that the platform was crushed15 and that it
was totally damaged.16 PO3 Villanueva also required Garcia and Fabro to bring the chain block to the
police headquarters. Upon inspection, he noticed that the chain was detached from the lifting
machine, without any pin or bolt.17

What petitioner takes particular exception to is PO3 Villanueva’s testimony that the cause of the fall
of the platform was the loosening of the bolt from the chain block. It is claimed that such portion of
the testimony is mere opinion. Subject to certain exceptions,18 the opinion of a witness is generally
not admissible.19
Petitioner’s contention, however, loses relevance in the face of the application of res ipsa loquitur by
the CA. The effect of the doctrine is to warrant a presumption or inference that the mere fall of the
elevator was a result of the person having charge of the instrumentality was negligent. As a rule of
evidence, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is peculiar to the law of negligence which recognizes
that prima facie negligence may be established without direct proof and furnishes a substitute for
specific proof of negligence.20

The concept of res ipsa loquitur has been explained in this wise:

While negligence is not ordinarily inferred or presumed, and while the mere happening of an
accident or injury will not generally give rise to an inference or presumption that it was due to
negligence on defendant’s part, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means, literally,
the thing or transaction speaks for itself, or in one jurisdiction, that the thing or instrumentality
speaks for itself, the facts or circumstances accompanying an injury may be such as to raise
a presumption, or at least permit an inference of negligence on the part of the defendant, or
some other person who is charged with negligence.

x xx where it is shown that the thing or instrumentality which caused the injury complained of
was under the control or management of the defendant, and that the occurrence resulting in
the injury was such as in the ordinary course of things would not happen if those who had its
control or management used proper care, there is sufficient evidence, or, as sometimes
stated, reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the defendant, that the injury
arose from or was caused by the defendant’s want of care.21

One of the theoretical based for the doctrine is its necessity, i.e., that necessary evidence is absent
or not available.22

The res ipsa loquitur doctrine is based in part upon the theory that the defendant in charge of
the instrumentality which causes the injury either knows the cause of the accident or has the
best opportunity of ascertaining it and that the plaintiff has no such knowledge, and therefore
is compelled to allege negligence in general terms and to rely upon the proof of the
happening of the accident in order to establish negligence. The inference which the doctrine
permits is grounded upon the fact that the chief evidence of the true cause, whether culpable
or innocent, is practically accessible to the defendant but inaccessible to the injured person.

It has been said that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur furnishes a bridge by which a plaintiff,
without knowledge of the cause, reaches over to defendant who knows or should know the
cause, for any explanation of care exercised by the defendant in respect of the matter of
which the plaintiff complains. The res ipsa loquitur doctrine, another court has said, is a rule
of necessity, in that it proceeds on the theory that under the peculiar circumstances in which
the doctrine is applicable, it is within the power of the defendant to show that there was no
negligence on his part, and direct proof of defendant’s negligence is beyond plaintiff’s power.
Accordingly, some court add to the three prerequisites for the application of the res ipsa
loquitur doctrine the further requirement that for the res ipsa loquitur doctrine to apply, it must
appear that the injured party had no knowledge or means of knowledge as to the cause of
the accident, or that the party to be charged with negligence has superior knowledge or
opportunity for explanation of the accident.23

The CA held that all the requisites of res ipsa loquitur are present in the case at bar:

There is no dispute that appellee’s husband fell down from the 14th floor of a building to the
basement while he was working with appellant’s construction project, resulting to his death.
The construction site is within the exclusive control and management of appellant. It has a
safety engineer, a project superintendent, a carpenter leadman and others who are in
complete control of the situation therein. The circumstances of any accident that would occur
therein are peculiarly within the knowledge of the appellant or its employees. On the other
hand, the appellee is not in a position to know what caused the accident. Res ipsa loquitur is
a rule of necessity and it applies where evidence is absent or not readily available, provided
the following requisites are present: (1) the accident was of a kind which does not ordinarily
occur unless someone is negligent; (2) the instrumentality or agency which caused the injury
was under the exclusive control of the person charged with negligence; and (3) the injury
suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the
person injured. x xx.
No worker is going to fall from the 14th floor of a building to the basement while performing
work in a construction site unless someone is negligent[;] thus, the first requisite for the
application of the rule of res ipsa loquitur is present. As explained earlier, the construction
site with all its paraphernalia and human resources that likely caused the injury is under the
exclusive control and management of appellant[;] thus[,] the second requisite is also present.
No contributory negligence was attributed to the appellee’s deceased husband[;] thus[,] the
last requisite is also present. All the requisites for the application of the rule of res ipsa
loquitur are present, thus a reasonable presumption or inference of appellant’s negligence
arises. x x x.24

Petitioner does not dispute the existence of the requisites for the application of res ipsa loquitur, but
argues that the presumption or inference that it was negligent did not arise since it "proved that it
exercised due care to avoid the accident which befell respondent’s husband."

Petitioner apparently misapprehends the procedural effect of the doctrine. As stated earlier, the
defendant’s negligence is presumed or inferred25 when the plaintiff establishes the requisites for the
application of res ipsa loquitur. Once the plaintiff makes out a prima facie case of all the elements,
the burden then shifts to defendant to explain.26 The presumption or inference may be rebutted or
overcome by other evidence and, under appropriate circumstances disputable presumption, such as
that of due care or innocence, may outweigh the inference.27 It is not for the defendant to explain or
prove its defense to prevent the presumption or inference from arising. Evidence by the defendant of
say, due care, comes into play only after the circumstances for the application of the doctrine has
been established. 1âwphi1.nêt

In any case, petitioner cites the sworn statement of its leadman Ferdinand Fabro executed before
the police investigator as evidence of its due care. According to Fabro’s sworn statement, the
company enacted rules and regulations for the safety and security of its workers. Moreover, the
leadman and the bodegero inspect the chain block before allowing its use.

It is ironic that petitioner relies on Fabro’s sworn statement as proof of its due care but, in arguing
that private respondent failed to prove negligence on the part of petitioner’s employees, also assails
the same statement for being hearsay.

Petitioner is correct. Fabro’s sworn statement is hearsay and inadmissible. Affidavits are
inadmissible as evidence under the hearsay rule, unless the affiant is placed on the witness stand to
testify thereon.28 The inadmissibility of this sort of evidence is based not only on the lack of
opportunity on the part of the adverse party to cross-examine the affiant, but also on the commonly
known fact that, generally, an affidavit is not prepared by the affiant himself but by another who uses
his own language in writing the affiant’s statements which may either be omitted or misunderstood
by the one writing them.29 Petitioner, therefore, cannot use said statement as proof of its due care any
more than private respondent can use it to prove the cause of her husband’s death. Regrettably,
petitioner does not cite any other evidence to rebut the inference or presumption of negligence
arising from the application of res ipsa loquitur, or to establish any defense relating to the incident.

Next, petitioner argues that private respondent had previously availed of the death benefits provided
under the Labor Code and is, therefore, precluded from claiming from the deceased’s employer
damages under the Civil Code.

Article 173 of the Labor Code states:

Article 173.Extent of liability. – Unless otherwise provided, the liability of the State Insurance
Fund under this Title shall be exclusive and in place of all other liabilities of the employer to
the employee, his dependents or anyone otherwise entitled to receive damages on behalf of
the employee or his dependents. The payment of compensation under this Title shall not bar
the recovery of benefits as provided for in Section 699 of the Revised Administrative Code,
Republic Act Numbered Eleven hundred sixty-one, as amended, Republic Act Numbered Six
hundred ten, as amended, Republic Act Numbered Forty-eight hundred sixty-four as
amended, and other laws whose benefits are administered by the System or by other
agencies of the government.

The precursor of Article 173 of the Labor Code, Section 5 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act,
provided that:
Section 5. Exclusive right to compensation. – The rights and remedies granted by this Act to
an employee by reason of a personal injury entitling him to compensation shall exclude all
other rights and remedies accruing to the employee, his personal representatives,
dependents or nearest of kin against the employer under the Civil Code and other laws
because of said injury x xx.

Whether Section 5 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act allowed recovery under said Act as well as
under the Civil Code used to be the subject of conflicting decisions. The Court finally settled the
matter in Florescavs.Philex Mining Corporation,30 which involved a cave-in resulting in the death of
the employees of the Philex Mining Corporation. Alleging that the mining corporation, in violation of
government rules and regulations, failed to take the required precautions for the protection of the
employees, the heirs of the deceased employees filed a complaint against Philex Mining in the Court
of First Instance (CFI). Upon motion of Philex Mining, the CFI dismissed the complaint for lack of
jurisdiction. The heirs sought relief from this Court.

Addressing the issue of whether the heirs had a choice of remedies, majority of the Court En
Banc,31 following the rule in Pacaña vs. Cebu Autobus Company, held in the affirmative.

WE now come to the query as to whether or not the injured employee or his heirs in case of
death have a right of selection or choice of action between availing themselves of the
worker’s right under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and suing in the regular courts under
the Civil Code for higher damages (actual, moral and exemplary) from the employers by
virtue of the negligence or fault of the employers or whether they may avail themselves
cumulatively of both actions, i.e., collect the limited compensation under the Workmen’s
Compensation Act and sue in addition for damages in the regular courts.

In disposing of a similar issue, this Court in Pacaña vs. Cebu Autobus Company, 32 SCRA
442, ruled that an injured worker has a choice of either to recover from the employer the
fixed amounts set by the Workmen’s Compensation Act or to prosecute an ordinary civil
action against the tortfeasor for higher damages but he cannot pursue both courses of action
simultaneously. [Underscoring supplied.]

Nevertheless, the Court allowed some of the petitioners in said case to proceed with their suit under
the Civil Code despite having availed of the benefits provided under the Workmen’s Compensation
Act. The Court reasoned:

With regard to the other petitioners, it was alleged by Philex in its motion to dismiss dated
May 14, 1968 before the court a quo, that the heirs of the deceased employees, namely
EmeritoObra, Larry Villar, Jr., Aurelio Lanuza, Lorenzo Isla and Saturnino submitted notices
and claims for compensation to the Regional Office No. 1 of the then Department of Labor
and all of them have been paid in full as of August 25, 1967, except Saturnino Martinez
whose heirs decided that they be paid in installments x xx. Such allegation was admitted by
herein petitioners in their opposition to the motion to dismiss dated may 27, 1968 x xx in the
lower court, but they set up the defense that the claims were filed under the Workmen’s
Compensation Act before they learned of the official report of the committee created to
investigate the accident which established the criminal negligence and violation of law by
Philex, and which report was forwarded by the Director of Mines to then Executive Secretary
Rafael Salas in a letter dated October 19, 1967 only x xx.

WE hold that although the other petitioners had received the benefits under the Workmen’s
Compensation Act, such my not preclude them from bringing an action before the regular
court because they became cognizant of the fact that Philex has been remiss in its
contractual obligations with the deceased miners only after receiving compensation under
the Act. Had petitioners been aware of said violation of government rules and regulations by
Philex, and of its negligence, they would not have sought redress under the Workmen’s
Compensation Commission which awarded a lesser amount for compensation. The choice of
the first remedy was based on ignorance or a mistake of fact, which nullifies the choice as it
was not an intelligent choice. The case should therefore be remanded to the lower court for
further proceedings. However, should the petitioners be successful in their bid before the
lower court, the payments made under the Workmen’s Compensation Act should be
deducted from the damages that may be decreed in their favor. [Underscoring supplied.]

The ruling in Floresca providing the claimant a choice of remedies was reiterated in Ysmael Maritime
Corporation vs. Avelino,32 Vda. De Severo vs. Feliciano-Go,33 and Marcopper Mining Corp. vs.
Abeleda.34 In the last case, the Court again recognized that a claimant who had been paid under the
Act could still sue under the Civil Code. The Court said:

In the Robles case, it was held that claims for damages sustained by workers in the course
of their employment could be filed only under the Workmen’s Compensation Law, to the
exclusion of all further claims under other laws. In Floresca, this doctrine was abrogated in
favor of the new rule that the claimants may invoke either the Workmen’s Compensation Act
or the provisions of the Civil Code, subject to the consequence that the choice of one remedy
will exclude the other and that the acceptance of compensation under the remedy chosen
will preclude a claim for additional benefits under the other remedy. The exception is where a
claimant who has already been paid under the Workmen’s Compensation Act may still sue
for damages under the Civil Code on the basis of supervening facts or developments
occurring after he opted for the first remedy. (Underscoring supplied.)

Here, the CA held that private respondent’s case came under the exception because private
respondent was unaware of petitioner’s negligence when she filed her claim for death benefits from
the State Insurance Fund. Private respondent filed the civil complaint for damages after she received
a copy of the police investigation report and the Prosecutor’s Memorandum dismissing the criminal
complaint against petitioner’s personnel. While stating that there was no negligence attributable to
the respondents in the complaint, the prosecutor nevertheless noted in the Memorandum that, "if at
all," the "case is civil in nature." The CA thus applied the exception in Floresca:

x xx We do not agree that appellee has knowledge of the alleged negligence of appellant as
early as November 25, 1990, the date of the police investigator’s report. The appellee merely
executed her sworn statement before the police investigator concerning her personal
circumstances, her relation to the victim, and her knowledge of the accident. She did not file
the complaint for "Simple Negligence Resulting to Homicide" against appellant’s employees.
It was the investigator who recommended the filing of said case and his supervisor referred
the same to the prosecutor’s office. This is a standard operating procedure for police
investigators which appellee may not have even known. This may explain why no
complainant is mentioned in the preliminary statement of the public prosecutor in her
memorandum dated February 6, 1991, to wit: "Respondent Ferdinand Fabro x xx are being
charged by complainant of "Simple Negligence Resulting to Homicide." It is also possible
that the appellee did not have a chance to appear before the public prosecutor as can be
inferred from the following statement in said memorandum: "Respondents who were notified
pursuant to Law waived their rights to present controverting evidence," thus there was no
reason for the public prosecutor to summon the appellee. Hence, notice of appellant’s
negligence cannot be imputed on appellee before she applied for death benefits under ECC
or before she received the first payment therefrom. Her using the police investigation report
to support her complaint filed on May 9, 1991 may just be an afterthought after receiving a
copy of the February 6, 1991 Memorandum of the Prosecutor’s Office dismissing the criminal
complaint for insufficiency of evidence, stating therein that: "The death of the victim is not
attributable to any negligence on the part of the respondents. If at all and as shown by the
records this case is civil in nature." (Underscoring supplied.) Considering the foregoing, We
are more inclined to believe appellee’s allegation that she learned about appellant’s
negligence only after she applied for and received the benefits under ECC. This is a mistake
of fact that will make this case fall under the exception held in the Floresca ruling.35

The CA further held that not only was private respondent ignorant of the facts, but of her rights as
well:

x xx. Appellee [Maria Juego] testified that she has reached only elementary school for her
educational attainment; that she did not know what damages could be recovered from the
death of her husband; and that she did not know that she may also recover more from
the Civil Code than from the ECC. x x x.36

Petitioner impugns the foregoing rulings. It contends that private respondent "failed to allege in her
complaint that her application and receipt of benefits from the ECC were attended by ignorance or
mistake of fact. Not being an issue submitted during the trial, the trial court had no authority to hear
or adjudicate that issue."

Petitioner also claims that private respondent could not have been ignorant of the facts because as
early as November 28, 1990, private respondent was the complainant in a criminal complaint for
"Simple Negligence Resulting to Homicide" against petitioner’s employees. On February 6, 1991,
two months before the filing of the action in the lower court, Prosecutor Lorna Lee issued a
resolution finding that, although there was insufficient evidence against petitioner’s employees, the
case was "civil in nature." These purportedly show that prior to her receipt of death benefits from the
ECC on January 2, 1991 and every month thereafter, private respondent also knew of the two
choices of remedies available to her and yet she chose to claim and receive the benefits from the
ECC.

When a party having knowledge of the facts makes an election between inconsistent remedies, the
election is final and bars any action, suit, or proceeding inconsistent with the elected remedy, in the
absence of fraud by the other party. The first act of election acts as a bar.37 Equitable in nature, the
doctrine of election of remedies is designed to mitigate possible unfairness to both parties. It rests on
the moral premise that it is fair to hold people responsible for their choices. The purpose of the
doctrine is not to prevent any recourse to any remedy, but to prevent a double redress for a single
wrong.38

The choice of a party between inconsistent remedies results in a waiver by election. Hence, the rule
in Floresca that a claimant cannot simultaneously pursue recovery under the Labor Code and
prosecute an ordinary course of action under the Civil Code. The claimant, by his choice of one
remedy, is deemed to have waived the other.

Waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right.39

[It] is an act of understanding that presupposes that a party has knowledge of its rights, but
chooses not to assert them. It must be generally shown by the party claiming a waiver that
the person against whom the waiver is asserted had at the time knowledge, actual or
constructive, of the existence of the party’s rights or of all material facts upon which they
depended. Where one lacks knowledge of a right, there is no basis upon which waiver of it
can rest. Ignorance of a material fact negates waiver, and waiver cannot be established by a
consent given under a mistake or misapprehension of fact.

A person makes a knowing and intelligent waiver when that person knows that a right exists
and has adequate knowledge upon which to make an intelligent decision.

Waiver requires a knowledge of the facts basic to the exercise of the right waived, with an
awareness of its consequences. That a waiver is made knowingly and intelligently must be
illustrated on the record or by the evidence.40

That lack of knowledge of a fact that nullifies the election of a remedy is the basis for the exception
in Floresca.

It is in light of the foregoing principles that we address petitioner’s contentions.

Waiver is a defense, and it was not incumbent upon private respondent, as plaintiff, to allege in her
complaint that she had availed of benefits from the ECC. It is, thus, erroneous for petitioner to
burden private respondent with raising waiver as an issue. On the contrary, it is the defendant who
ought to plead waiver, as petitioner did in pages 2-3 of its Answer;41 otherwise, the defense is waived.
It is, therefore, perplexing for petitioner to now contend that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the
issue when petitioner itself pleaded waiver in the proceedings before the trial court.

Does the evidence show that private respondent knew of the facts that led to her husband’s death
and the rights pertaining to a choice of remedies?

It bears stressing that what negates waiver is lack of knowledge or a mistake of fact. In this case, the
"fact" that served as a basis for nullifying the waiver is the negligence of petitioner’s employees, of
which private respondent purportedly learned only after the prosecutor issued a resolution stating
that there may be civil liability. In Floresca, it was the negligence of the mining corporation and
its violation of government rules and regulations. Negligence, or violation of government rules and
regulations, for that matter, however, is not a fact, but a conclusion of law, over which only the courts
have the final say. Such a conclusion binds no one until the courts have decreed so. It appears,
therefore, that the principle that ignorance or mistake of fact nullifies a waiver has been misapplied
in Floresca and in the case at bar.
In any event, there is no proof that private respondent knew that her husband died in the elevator
crash when on November 15, 1990 she accomplished her application for benefits from the ECC. The
police investigation report is dated November 25, 1990, 10 days after the accomplishment of the
form. Petitioner filed the application in her behalf on November 27, 1990.

There is also no showing that private respondent knew of the remedies available to her when the
claim before the ECC was filed. On the contrary, private respondent testified that she was not aware
of her rights.

Petitioner, though, argues that under Article 3 of the Civil Code, ignorance of the law excuses no one
from compliance therewith. As judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution
form part of the Philippine legal system (Article 8, Civil Code), private respondent cannot claim
ignorance of this Court’s ruling in Floresca allowing a choice of remedies.

The argument has no merit. The application of Article 3 is limited to mandatory and prohibitory
laws.42 This may be deduced from the language of the provision, which, notwithstanding a person’s
ignorance, does not excuse his or her compliance with the laws. The rule in Floresca allowing private
respondent a choice of remedies is neither mandatory nor prohibitory. Accordingly, her ignorance
thereof cannot be held against her.

Finally, the Court modifies the affirmance of the award of damages. The records do not indicate the
total amount private respondent ought to receive from the ECC, although it appears from Exhibit
"K"43 that she received P3,581.85 as initial payment representing the accrued pension from
November 1990 to March 1991. Her initial monthly pension, according to the same Exhibit "K," was
P596.97 and present total monthly pension was P716.40. Whether the total amount she will
eventually receive from the ECC is less than the sum of P644,000.00 in total damages awarded by
the trial court is subject to speculation, and the case is remanded to the trial court for such
determination. Should the trial court find that its award is greater than that of the ECC, payments
already received by private respondent under the Labor Code shall be deducted from the trial court'’
award of damages. Consistent with our ruling in Floresca, this adjudication aims to prevent double
compensation.

WHEREFORE, the case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City to determine
whether the award decreed in its decision is more than that of the ECC. Should the award decreed
by the trial court be greater than that awarded by the ECC, payments already made to private
respondent pursuant to the Labor Code shall be deducted therefrom. In all other respects, the
Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-32743 February 15, 1974

PRIMITIVO ESPIRITU and LEONORA A. DE ESPIRITU, petitioners,


vs.
RICARDO CIPRIANO and THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE, RIZAL, BRANCH XV, respondents.

Concepcion, Victorino, Sanchez and Associates for petitioners.

Jose G. Ricardo for respondent Ricardo Cipriano.

ESGUERRA, J.:p

In this petition for certiorari, petitioners seek the review and nullification of two orders of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XV, the
first, dated August 4, 1970 sustaining private respondent Ricardo Cipriano's motion to dismiss "on the authority of Republic Act 6126", and
the second, dated October 16, 1970, denying the motion for reconsideration of the first order. The question before Us involves the retroactive
application of the provisions of Republic Act 6126, otherwise known as the Rental Law.

The case originated as one for unlawful detainer instituted on May 30, 1969, by plaintiffs, now
petitioners, in the Municipal Court of Pasig, Rizal, against private respondent Ricardo Cipriano for
the latter's alleged failure to pay rentals. An adverse judgment having been rendered against said
respondent, he appealed to the Court of First Instance of Rizal where the case was docketed as Civil
Case No. 338-M. In the said Court private respondent sought to amend his Answer filed in the
Municipal Court on the grounds that (1) for lack of time he was not able to disclose to his former
counsel all the material facts surrounding his case and, therefore, he was not able to fully determine
his defenses; and (2) that prior to the hearing of the case in the lower court he wanted to cause the
filing of an amended answer but was not able to do so for his alleged failure to contact his counsel.
The motion to file amended answer was denied by the Court. The parties eventually submitted a
stipulation of facts, the salient provisions of which read as follows:

1. The plaintiffs are the owners of the property in question, leased to the defendant
since 1954;

2. The house of the defendant was built on the property with the knowledge and
consent of the plaintiff pursuant to an oral contract of lease;

3. Before 1969 the lease of the property was on year-to-year arrangement, rentals
being then payable at or before the end of the year;

4. The following are the rates of rentals:

(a) 1954 to 1957 P12.00 a year

(b) 1968 to 1959 P13.20 a year

(c) 1960 to 1961 P14.00 a year

(d) 1962 P16.00 a year

(e) 1963 to 1965 P24.70 a year

(f) 1967 to 1968 P48.00 a year

5. Effective January 1969 the lease was converted to a month-to-month basis and
rental was increased to P30.00 a month by the plaintiffs;

6. The defendant has remained in possession of the property up to the present;

7. Since January 1969 the defendant has not paid rental at the present monthly rate;

8. A formal notice to vacate, dated March 22, 1969, was sent by registered mail to,
and received by, defendant.
On July 7, 1970, Judge Vivencio Ruiz of the Court of First Instance of Rizal issued an order giving
private respondent herein seven days within which to file his motion to dismiss. Subsequently, on
July 13, 1970, respondent moved to dismiss petitioner's complaint, invoking the prohibitory provision
of Republic Act 6126, entitled "An Act To Regulate Rentals of Dwelling Units or of Land On Which
Another's Dwelling Is Located For One Year And Penalizing Violations Thereof.

Petitioners opposed the motion to dismiss but respondent Judge issued an order on August 4, 1970,
which reads:

On the Authority of Republic Act 6126, this Court hereby sustains the Motion for
Dismissal filed by the defendant through counsel, dated July 13, 1970.

A motion for reconsideration of said order was likewise denied by respondent Judge. Hence this
petition.

Thrust upon Us, therefore, for resolution is the problem of whether Republic Act 6126 may be held
applicable the case at bar. For convenience We reproduce the pertinent provisions of law in
question:

Section 1. No lessor of a dwelling unit or of land on which another's dwelling is


located shall, during the period of one year from March 31, 1970, increase the
monthly rental agreed upon between the lessor and the lessee prior to the approval
of this Act when said rental does not exceed three hundred pesos (P300.00) a
month.

Section 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Approved June 17, 1970.

It is the contention of respondent which was upheld by the trial court that the case at bar is covered
by the aforecited law. We rule otherwise. Established and undisputed is the fact that the increase in
the rental of the lot involved was effected in January, 1969,1 while the law in question took effect on
June 17, 1970, or after a period of one year and a half after the increase in rentals had been
effected. Private respondent, however, puts forward the argument that there was no perfected
contract covering the increased rate of rentals and conversion thereof into monthly payments of
P30.00 effective January 1969, as he did not give his consent thereto. In his brief he alleges:

Defendant (respondent) herein also begs to disagree with the contention of plaintiffs.
We believe and respectfully submit that there would be no impairment of obligation of
contract if Republic Act 6126 were to be applied to the present case. The alleged
new contract of lease and subsequent increase in the amount of rental were not
effected as of January 1969 with respect to the defendant. He did not accept the new
rate of rental. The eloquent testimonies on record to show that defendant never
accepted the new rate of rental imposed upon him by the plaintiffs were the pretrials
on the case wherein defendant offered to accept the increase to the tone of 100%.
Hence, the new contract of lease increasing the rental had never been agreed upon
by both the plaintiffs and the defendant because the defendant never gave his
consent to the new rate of rental. In effect, therefore, the alleged new contract of
lease was not a contract at all since it did not have the consent of the other party, the
defendant.

Private respondent's contention is devoid of merit. There is nothing in the stipulation of facts to show
that his consent to the increase in rentals and change in the manner of payment was essential to its
validity. There was no more subsisting yearly contract of lease at a fixed amount. It had already
expired when the increase and conversion into monthly payments took effect in January, 1969. The
lessor was free to fix a higher amount than that previously paid by the lessee (private respondent
herein) and if the latter did not agree to the increased amount, he could have vacated the premises
and thus rendered himself free from liability. Respondent Cipriano, therefore, cannot invoke lack of
consent on his part as basis for declaring the contract of lease ineffective.

Likewise the claim of private respondent that the act is remedial and may, therefore, be given
retroactive effect is untenable. A close study of the provisions discloses that far from being remedial,
the statute affects substantive rights and hence a strict and prospective construction thereof is in
order. Article 4 of the New Civil Code ordains that laws shall have no retroactive effect unless the
contrary is provided and that where the law is clear, Our duty is equally plain. We must apply it to the
facts as found.2 The law being a "temporary measure designed to meet a temporary situation",3 it had
a limited period of operation as in fact it was so worded in clear and unequivocal language that "No
lessor of a dwelling unit or land ... shall, during the period of one year from March 31, 1970, increase
the monthly rental agreed upon between the lessor and lessee prior to the approval of this Act."
Hence the prohibition against the increase in rentals was effective on March, 1970, up to March,
1971. Outside and beyond that period, the law did not, by the express mandate of the Act itself,
operate. The said law, did not, by its express terms, purport to give a retroactive operation. It is a
well-established rule of statutory construction that "Expressiumfacitcessare tacitum"4 and, therefore,
no reasonable implication that the Legislature ever intended to give the law in question a retroactive
effect may be accorded to the same. A perusal of the deliberations of Congress on House Bill 953
which became Republic Act No. 6126, as recorded its Congressional Records of March 5, 1970
reveals the sponsors of the Rental Law did not entertain for a moment that a retroactive operation
would be given to this enactment. We quote pertinent portions of the discussion:

Remarks of sponsor, Mr. Roces:

Mr. Roces — Mr. Speaker, the President is still observing the effect of the newly
established floating rate. In the meantime we feel that, in line with the policy that
those who have less in life should have more in law, apartment dwellers are entitled
to protection. Therefore this bill proposes that the rentals paid today will not be
increased in the next 18 months.

and on pages 66 and 72 respectively of the same Congressional Record We likewise find the
following:

Mr. Gonzales — Will the gentleman from Manila interpret for us the phrase "during
the period of 6 months preceding the approval of this Act" in Section 2?5

Mr. Roces. — My interpretation is that the rent being paid during that period not
before will be the one considered.

Mr. Montano — ... The term moratorium as utilized by the gentleman from Manila at
the start of his sponsorship was applied not in its legal acceptance but generally. For
purposes of the bill, the term is construed as suspension of increasing rents in the
meantime that we have not yet determined the real value of the currency ... .

Respondent's tenacious insistence On the retroactive operation of Republic Act 6126 represents a
last ditch effort on his part to hold on to the premises while at the same time escaping the obligation
to pay the increased rate. We can not countenance such a situation, for to permit the same to obtain
would be sanctioning a sheer absurdity and causing injustice to the petitioner herein. Well-settled is
the principle that while the Legislature has the power to pass retroactive laws which do not impair the
obligation of contracts, or affect injuriously vested rights, it is equally true that statutes are not to be
construed as intended to have a retroactive effect so as to affect pending proceedings, unless such
intent in expressly declared or clearly and necessarily implied from the language of the
enactment,6Similarly, in the case of La Previsora Filipina, Mutual Building and Loan Association v.
Felix Ledda, 66 Phil. 573, 577, this Court said:

It is a principle generally recognized that civil laws have no retroactive effect unless it
is otherwise provided therein (Manila Trading & Supply Co. v. Santos, G.R. No.
43861). Act No. 4118 does not state that its provisions shall have retroactive effect,
wherefore, it follows, as it is hereby declared, that it is not applicable to the contracts
entered into by the parties, and, hence the trial court erred in granting possession to
the petitioner.

The petitioner contends that said law is applicable because when the property in
question was sold at public auction said law was already in force. This contention is
in our opinion untenable. The date which should be taken into account in order to
determine the applicability of the law is the date when the contracts were entered into
by the parties and not the date of the public sale, ... .
Under the circumstances of this case, We, therefore, rule that Republic Act 6126 is not applicable to
the case at bar. As the language of the law is clear and unambiguous, it must be held to mean what
it plainly says.

WHEREFORE, the assailed orders of August 4 and October 16, 1970, are hereby nullified and set
aside. The court a quo shall proceed with the prompt disposition of Civil Case No. 338-M (12285) on
the merits in accordance with Republic Act 6031 if applicable, otherwise under the prevailing
procedure prescribed by the Rules of Court.

Costs against respondent.


G.R. No. L-28774 February 28, 1980

DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. HERMOGENES CALUAG, Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, and SPOUSES HONESTO G. NICANDRO and ELISA F.
NICANDRO, respondents.

ANTONIO, J.:

Petition for certiorari to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals, 1 dated February 29, 1968,
in Honesto G. Nicandro, et al. v. Development Bank of the Philippines and People's Homesite and
Housing Corporation (CA-G.R. No. 34518-R), affirming the decision of the trial court in Civil Case
No. Q-6091.

The facts are summarized as follows:

On March 18, 1955, the Board of Governors of petitioner-appellant DBP (hereinafter referred to as
petitioner or simply DBP for brevity and convenience), Under its Resolution No. 2004, appropriated
the sum of P1,204,000.00 to purchase land for a housing project for its employees. It was
contemplated that the Bank itself will build houses on the land to be acquired and these will then be
sold to employees who do not yet own homes and who shall pay for them in monthly installments
over a period of twenty (20) years. 2

Pursuant thereto, on October 20, 1955, the DBP bought 91,188.30 square meters of land, consisting
of 159 lots, in the proposed Diliman Estate Subdivision, West Triangle, Quezon City, of the People's
Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC). Of the price of P802,155.56, the DBP paid the amount
of P400,000.00 as down payment. The area sold was then part of a bigger parcel embraced under
TCT No. 1356 and because the subdivision plan for the area (including the 159 lots sold to the DBP)
was still pending approval by the Bureau of Lands, the sales agreement between the DBP and the
PHHC was not presented immediately for registration by the DBP. Lots 2 and 4, which form part of
said 159 lots, are the properties involved in the instant litigation. 3

In a memorandum to the Auditor General dated December 6, 1955, Mr. Isidro Buñag, the DBP
Auditor, expressed his doubts as to whether the DBP could acquire the property in question for the
intended purpose of a housing project in the light of the then Section 13 of Republic Act No. 85
(Exhibit 12A-DBP).

The Auditor General endorsed the matter to the Office of the President, Malacañang, Manila, and on
July 30, 1957 the Executive Secretary, in turn referred the question (re legality of the acquisition of
the lots in question by the DBP) to the Secretary of Justice for opinion (Exhibit 13-DBP).

Meanwhile, on June 24, 1957, without the knowledge of the DBP, a portion of the property covered
by the master title, TCT No. 1356, including the 159 lots sold to the DBP, were segregated therefrom
and a separate certificate of title, TCT No. 36533, was issued for the segregated portion in the name
of PHHC. However, the subdivision plan on which the segregation was based was not annotated on
the master title, TCT No. 1356, nor was the fact that the latter was cancelled pro tanto by TCT No.
36533 as to the 159 lots (Exhibit 15-DBP).

Atty. Roman Cariaga, Chief of the Sales Division of the PHHC, testified that on or before September
29, 1958, he was summoned by Benjamin Gray, Secretary to the Board of Directors of the PHHC,
and, while in the latter's room was introduced to respondent-appellee, Honesto G. Nicandro. Gray
then requested Cariaga to prepare the order of payment for Lots 2 and 4 in favor of Honesto G.
Nicandro. Cariaga informed them (Gray and Nicandro) forthwith that both lots were part of those
already sold to the DBP.

On September 29, 1958, Mr. Sergio Ortiz Luis, a PHHC Director, and, at the time, Acting Manager of
the PHHC, wrote to the Chairman of the DBP that Lots 2 and 4, Block WT-21, had been
inadvertently included among the lots sold to the DBP and for said reason requested that the two
lots be excluded from the sale (Exhibit 1-DBP).
In his reply letter dated October 16, 1958, Chairman Gregorio S. Licaros of the DBP refused to
exclude Lots 2 and 4 as requested, insisting that they form part of the 159 lots sold to the DBP as
shown in the Sales Agreement dated October 20, 1955 and for which DBP has made a partial
payment of P400,000.00 (Exhibit 2-DBP). On October 14, 1958, Acting Manager Sergio Ortiz Luis,
without waiting for the reply of DBP Chairman Licaros, approved the order of payment for Lots 2 and
4, Block WT-21, in favor of appellees Honesto G. Nicandro and Elisa F. Nicandro who paid the sum
of P700.56 and P660.00 as down payment, representing 10% of the price of the lots.

On October 28, 1958, Mr. Angel G. de la Paz, Chairman of the DBP Housing Project Committee,
also wrote to the Board of Directors of the PHHC, as follows:

In connection with your inquiry whether this bank will proceed with the purchase of
the employees housing project site in tile West Triangle Subdivision, Quezon City,
please be advised that this Bank will definitely purchase the area allocated to it by
that Corporation.

During a convocation held yesterday, at which Mr. G.S. Licaros, our new Chairman,
spoke, this question was brought by Chairman Licaros that this housing project will
go through, to be financed either by this Bank or by other financial institutions in case
the Secretary of Justice renders an adverse opinion as to its legality. (Exhibit 3-DBP).

On October 31, 1958, without the knowledge of the DBP, Bernardo Torres, the General Manager of
the PHHC, also approved the Order of Payment for 39 lots (comprised also in the 159 lots already
sold to the DBP) in favor of the so-called Garcia Group. Among these was an Order of Payment for
Lot 2, Block WT-21 (which was already re-awarded to respondent-appellee Honesto G. Nicandro) in
favor of Bernabe G. Garcia, who paid also the 10% down payment of P700.50 (Exhibits 7-DBP and
11-DBP )

On November 3, 1958, the PHHC accepted payment in full of Lots 2 and 4 from respondents
spouses Honesto G. Nicandro and Elisa F. Nicandro (hereinafter referred to simply as respondent
spouses).

On November 6, 1958, Honesto G. Nicandro went to see Atty. Roman Cariaga, Chief of the Sales
Division, PHHC, and demanded that the corresponding deeds of sale for Lots 2 and 4 be executed
in their favor. Atty. Cariaga accompanied him to the General Manager, Bernardo Torres, and in the
presence of Mr. Nicandro, the former asked Mr. Torres whether the deeds of sale for the two (2) lots
requested by Mr. Nicandro should be prepared considering that the DBP has not yet relinquished its
right thereon. However, the General Manager told him to go ahead and prepare the deeds of sale.

On November 7, 1958, a deed of sale over Lot 2 in favor of Honesto G. Nicandro and another deed
of sale over Lot 4 in favor of his wife, Elisa F. Nicandro, were prepared by the Sales Division of the
PHHC under Atty. Cariaga.

On November 13, 1958, Mr. Bienvenido C. OlarteHomesite Management Chief, PHHC, wrote to the
General Manager a memorandum which in part reads as follows:

Respectfully forwarded to the Board of Directors PHHC, Quezon City, for its
information and consideration.

The memorandum was prepared in view of the sale of Lots 2 and 4, Block WT-21 to
Honesto and Elisa Nicandro who have paid in full their purchase prices, and the
acceptance from Gov. Garcia of deposits for 10 lots in Block WT-21, 14 lots in WT-
22, notwithstanding previous sale of all these lots to the DBP under conditional
contract to sell. The DBP made initial payment of P400,000.00 on the 159 lots in the
RFC (DBP) area, leaving an unpaid balance of P402,155.56. The employees of the
DBP will definitely push through the purchase as confirmed in the letters of Messrs.
Licaros, DBP Chairman and Angel de la Paz, DBP Housing Project Committee
Chairman, both dated October 16 and 29, 1958, respectively.

The deposits made for the 39 lots are subject to final arrangement of the purchase of
the 159 lots by the DBP employees. However, as to the sale of Lots 2 and 4, Block
WT-21, it is recommended that the execution of the final deeds of sale be suspended
until after the aforestated arrangement shall have been determined (Exhibit 7- DBP.
Emphasis supplied.)

Despite the aforesaid recommendation of Mr. Olarte, the deeds of sale for Lots 2 and 4 in favor of
respondent spouses were prepared and submitted to the board of Directors of the PHHC on
December 17, 1958.

Thereafter, the General Manager, Mr. Bernardo Torres, signed the deeds of sale over Lots 2 and 4
in favor of respondent spouses. Notwithstanding this fact, however, the originals of said deeds of
sale (Exhibits 10-DBP and 10-A-DBP) were retained at the PHHC and were never released to the
respondent spouses.

On January 15, 1959, the Sales Agreement dated October 20, 1955 between the PHHC and the
DBP (covering the 159 lots including Lots 2 and 4 in question) was presented for registration to the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City. It was entered in the day book and annotated on TCT No. 1356
as a "sale of an unsegregated portion" with the note "new titles to be issued upon presentation of the
corresponding subdivision plan and technical descriptions duly approved by the authorities." (Exhibit
15.)

On January 20, 1959, pursuant to the Executive Secretary's reference of the matter to the Secretary
of Justice for an opinion, as mentioned earlier, the latter issued Opinion No. 16, s. of 1959, holding
that —

Premises considered, it is our opinion that the RFC (DBP) has no express or
incidental power to undertake the housing project under consideration and that the
same is incongruous with, if not a clear violation of, the prohibition contained in
Section 13 of Republic Act No. 85. (Annex "A", Complaint.)

On February 16, 1959, respondent Honesto G. Nicandro attempted to register the sale of Lots 2 and
4 in his favor by presenting copies of the deeds of sale in their favor (as mentioned earlier, the
originals were retained by the PHHC and were never released) before the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City, but registration was denied because: (1) the deeds of sale were only photostatic
copies; (2) the consent of the GSIS (to whom the whole property was mortgaged) to the sale is not
shown therein; and (3) the deeds of sale lacked the necessary documentary stamps. On the
following day, February 17, affidavits of adverse claims on Lots 2 and 4 were filed by the
respondents and these were registered and annotated on TCT No. 36533 (Exhibit 15-DBP).

On February 17, 1959, on the basis of the afore-mentioned Opinion No. 16, s. of 1959, of the
Secretary of Justice, the Office of the President addressed a memorandum to the Board of
Governors of the DBP directing it to revoke Resolution No. 2004 dated March 18, 1955. 4

On March 6, 1959, upon teaming that the required subdivision plan of the 159 lots sold to it were
already submitted and duly recorded on TCT No. 36533, the DBP forthwith requested the annotation
of its sales agreement dated October 20, 1955 covering the lots in question on TCT No. 36533, and
as a consequence, the Register of Deeds transferred the annotation of said sales agreement
appearing on TCT No. 1356 to the new certificate of title, TCT No. 36533. 5

As the DBP's request for issuance of new certificates of title for Lots 2 and 4 was being opposed by
the respondent spouse and unable to decide as to who should be issued certificates of title for the
two lots, the Register of Deeds of Quezon City referred the matter on consulta to the Land
Registration Commission, where it was docketed as In Re Consulta No. 250. In a resolution dated
July 25, 1959, the Land Registration Commission held that respondent spouse Honesto G. Nicandro
and Elisa F. Nicandro were better entitled to the issuance of certificates of title for Lots 2 and 4. After
its motion for reconsideration of the resolution was denied, the DBP promptly appealed the decision
to this Court.

On April 29, 1961, resolving DBP's appeal of In Re Consults No. 250, 6 this Court held that the
annotation made on January 15, 1959 of the sales agreement in favor of the DBP on TCT No. 1356
constituted sufficient registration to bind third parties, thereby reversing the resolution of the Land
Registration Commission of July 25, 1959, to the effect that the annotation on TCT No. 1356 of the
sales agreement between the PHHC and the vendee DBP did not constitute sufficient registration to
bind innocent third parties (referring to the Nicandros), in favor of the appellees.
Meanwhile, prior to the aforesaid decision of this Court, on March 14, 1960, in reply to the query of
the Board of Governors of the DBP whether the Bank can sell the 159 lots on a cash basis to its
employees, the Secretary of Justice issued Opinion No. 40, holding that the deed of sale covering
said lots is not only ultra vires but is also illegal and void and, for that reason, the DBP cannot sell
the same to its employees even for cash.

On June 17, 1961, Republic Act No. 3147 was enacted, amending certain provisions of the DBP
Charter (Republic Act No. 85), among which was Section 13 which, as Section 23 in the amended
law, now reads as follows:

No officer or employee of the bank nor any government official who may exercise
executive or supervisory authority over the said bank either directly, or indirectly, for
himself or as representative or agent of others shall, except when the same shall be
in the form of advances appropriated or set aside by the Bank itself in order to
provide for housing for the benefit of its officials and employees, borrow money from
the Bank, nor shall become a guarantor, indorser or surety for loans from the said
bank to the others, or in any manner be an obligor for moneys borrowed from the
said Bank. Any such officer or employee who violates the provisions of this section
shall be immediately removed by competent authority and said officer or employee
shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one year nor exceeding five
years and by a fine of not less than one thousand nor more than five thousand
pesos. (Emphasis supplied.) 7

On November 10, 1961, respondent spouses then filed the case at bar against the DBP and the
PHHC, to rescind the sale of Lots 2 and 4 by PHHC in favor of DBP, to cancel the transfer certificate
of title that may have been issued covering the two lots to DBP, and to order DBP to pay damages to
the plaintiffs. It was alleged that the acquisition of Lots 2 and 4 by the DBP is not only in excess of its
corporate powers but also a violation of the express prohibition of Section 13 of its Charter, Republic
Act No. 85, as amended. Against the PHHC, respondent spouses alleged that in the alternative
event that the case against the DBP will not prosper, that PHHC be adjudged to pay to the plaintiff
the "value which the said properties may have on the date of decision ...".

It is important to note that the PHHC alleged as defenses the actuations of the plaintiffs (Nicandro
spouses) which have been characterized by bad faith. thus:

(a) that notwithstanding the information given by the defendant to the plaintiffs that the question of
legality of the acquisition by the DBP of lots has not been resolved, plaintiffs insisted in paying on
November 3, 1958, the full purchase price of the lots in question;

(b) that notwithstanding the understanding between the defendant and the plaintiffs that no final
deed of sale over the lots in question will be executed until the question of legality of the acquisition
of lots by the DBP is resolved, the plaintiffs insisted in the execution of the final deed of sale to which
the defendant agreed with the understanding that the latter will be given until about December 12,
1959 to obtain a clearance from the GSIS of the mortgage on the lots in question, and that, in the
meantime, the final deed of sale will not be presented to the Register of Deeds for registration; and

(c) that without a copy of the final deed of sale being officially released, the plaintiffs, one way or
another, succeeded in obtaining a signed copy of the aforesaid deed of sale which they presented to
the Register of Deeds for registration in violation of the understanding mentioned in the immediately
preceeding paragraph (b) above.

In its decision, the respondent Court of First Instance of Rizal held that the sale of Lots 2 and 4,
Block WT-21 of the Diliman Estate Subdivision, to the DBP is null and void, for being in violation of
Section 13 of the DBP Charter, ignoring in toto the other defenses. No provision at all was made for
return of the price that was paid to PHHC for the two lots in question. A motion for reconsideration
having been filed and denied, the DBP appealed said decision to the Court of Appeals.

On February 29, 1968, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court.

In their brief, the DBP maintains:

(1) that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the respondent spouses have legal personality to
question the legality of the sale in question because:
(a) the spouses have no relation to the contracting parties not to the property itself at
the time the transaction took place; 8

(b) the question of whether or not a corporation has acted without authority or has
abused its authority or has acted in contravention of law cannot be raised by one
whose rights accrued subsequent to the transaction in question; 9

(c) rescission of contract requires mutual restitution. Hence, since the respondent
spouses are neither principally nor subsidiarily bound under the sales agreement
between the PHHC and the DBP, they are not in a position to make any restitution on
the questioned contract and, consequently, they have no right to ask for its
annulment; 10 and

(d) the respondent spouses, being second vendees of Lots 2 and 4, merely stepped
into the shoes of the vendor, PHHC, and their right to question the transaction cannot
rise above that of the PHHC. Since the contract between the PHHC and the DBP has
been fully executed and the DBP's right thereto has been perfected by the
registration of the sales agreement in its favor, the PHHC is now in estoppel to
question the transaction. A fortiori the spouses are similarly bound from doing so;
and

(2) that when Congress amended Section 13 of its Charter on June 17, 1961, five (5) years after the
questioned transaction, it in effect ratified the DBP acquisition of said lots from the PHHC, and
dispelled whatever doubts existed as to the power of the DBP to acquire the lots in question, unless
some interest or right which would be adversely affected has accrued in favor of third parties. On the
latter question, the DBP claims that since the Supreme Court itself has recognized the rights of the
DBP over and above those of the respondent spouses over the two lots, the latter have no interest
that will bring it out of the curative effects of the amendment.

The general rule is that the action for the annulment of contracts can only be maintained by those
who are bound either principally or subsidiarily by virtue thereof. 11 There is, however, an exception to
the rule. This Court, in Teves v. People's Homesite and Housing Corporation, 12 held that "a person
who is not obliged principally or subsidiarily in a contract may exercise an action for nullity of the
contract if he is prejudiced in his rights with respect to one of the contracting parties, and can show
the detriment which could positively result to him from the contract in which he had no intervention."
We applied this exception to the rule in Yturralde v. Vagilidad,13 De Santos v. City of
Manila; 14and Bañez v. Court of Appeals. 15 It cannot be denied that respondent spouses stand to be
prejudiced by reason of their payment in full of the purchase price for the same lots which had been
sold to the petitioner by virtue of the transaction in question. We, therefore, hold that respondent
spouses have sufficient standing to institute the action in the case at bar.

Since the case may be resolved on the issue of retroactivity of the amendment of Section 13 of
Republic Act No. 85, by Republic Act No. 3147, this Court does not find it necessary to resolve
whether or not the sale to the DBP was void, pursuant to Section 13 of Republic Act No. 85. Even
assuming that the DBP had no authority initially to acquire the lots in question for the housing project
of the corporation for its employees, the important issue is whether or not the Court of Appeals erred
in not granting retroactive effect to Republic Act No. 3147 amending Republic Act No. 85. which
authorizes the DBP to provide for housing for the benefit of its officials and employees. The Court of
Appeals, in effect, held that the amendment "cannot validate the sale of Lots 2 and 4 in favor of the
DBP because the rights of the plaintiffs have already accrued before its amendment" and section 13
as subsequently amended contains no express provision of retroactive application. It necessarily
follows that such amended section cannot be given retroactive effect.

It may be stated, as a general rule, that curative statutes are forms of "retrospective legislation which
reach back on past events to correct errors or irregularities and to render valid and effective
attempted acts which would be otherwise ineffective for the purpose the parties intended." They are
intended to enable persons to carry into effect that which they have designed and intended, but
which has failed of expected legal consequences by reason of some statutory disability or irregularity
in their action. They thus make valid that which, before enactment of the statute, was invalid. 16 There
cannot be any doubt that one of the purposes of Congress when it enacted Republic Act No. 3147,
by amending Section 13 of Republic Act No. 85, was to erase any doubts regarding the legality of
the acquisition by the DBP of the 159 lots from the PHHC for the housing project which it intended to
establish for its employees who did not yet have houses of their own. This is obvious from the fact
that Republic Act No. 3147 was enacted on July 17, 1961, at a time when the legality of the
acquisition of the lots by the DBP for its housing project was under question. It is, therefore, a
curative statute to render valid the acquisition by the DBP of the 159 lots from the PHHC. Since such
curative statute may not be given retroactive effect if vested rights are impaired thereby, the next
question then is whether or not the respondent spouses have any vested right on the property which
may be impaired by the statutory amendment. It is admitted in the partial stipulation of facts that after
the second sale of Lots 2 and 4 to Honesto and Elisa Nicandro on November 7, 1958 by the PHHC,
the question arose as to who between the DBP, which purchased three (3) years earlier the afore-
mentioned lots on October 20, 1955, and the Nicandro spouses were better entitled to the issuance
of the certificates of title for Lots 2 and 4 on the basis of entries made on the day book and
annotations on the old and new certificates of title covering the lots in question.

In the decision of this Court of April 29, 1961, in Register of Deeds of Quezon City v. Nicandro, et
al., 17 it held that: (a) the deed of sale of October 20, 1955 by the PHHC to the DBP of the 159 lots is
"clearly, a registerable document"; and (b) that the annotation of the deed of sale in favor of the DBP
on TCT No. 1356 on January 15, 1959 constituted sufficient registration to bind third parties and,
consequently, ordered the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to issue the corresponding certificate of
title in favor of appellant DBP. This Court further stated:

Neither can it be claimed that the annotation of the deed of sale in favor of the DBP
on TCT No. 1356, under date of January 15, 1959, does not constitute sufficient
registration to bind third parties. True it may be that when the instrument was
presented to the Register of Deeds for registration, and in fact it was so inscribed in
the day book, the 159 lots subject of the sale were already covered by separate
certificate. of title, TCT No. 36533. It must be remembered, however, that on said
date, January 15, 1959, TCT No. 1356 which originally covered the whole tract of
land, including the 159 lots, was yet uncancelled nor any inscription appeared
thereon to the effect that a new certificate was already issued in respect to the said
159 lots. Evidently, when the DBP presented the deed of sale for registration, there
were two subsisting titles covering the 159 lots subject of the sale. As TCT No. 1356,
being uncancelled, did, for all intents and purposes, still cover the 159 lots, the
annotation thereon of the sale to the DBP is valid and effective. For this reason, the
Register of Deeds acted correctly in transferringthe inscription from TCT No. 1356 to
TCT No. 36533 upon discovery that the subdivision plan had already been approved,
submitted and annotated, and a new certificate of title issued. Even on this score
alone, considering that the adverse claim of the Nicandros was annotated on TCT
No. 35633 only on February 17, 1959, whereas the sale to the DBP was registered
as of January 15, 1959, the certificate of title on the two lots in controversy should be
issued in favor of the first registrant, the DBP.

There is, however, another reason why the Commissioner's ruling must be set aside.

Although admittedly we have here a case of double sale, actually this is not an
instance of double registration. As above stated, only the deed of sale in favor of
appellant was inscribed on the certificate of title covering the lots in question. The
Nicandros were not able to register their deeds of sale; instead, informed of the prior
registration by the DBP, they sought to protect their right by filing adverse claims
based on the said deeds of sale under Section 110 of Act 496, which provides:

SEC. 110. Whoever claims any right or interest in registered land


adverse to the registered owner, arising subsequent to the date of the
original registration, may, if no other provision is made in this Act for
registering the same, make a statement in writing setting forth fully
his alleged right or interest, and how or under whom acquired, and a
reference to the volume and page of the certificate of title of the
registered owner, and a description of the land in which the right or
interest is claimed. ...

It is clear from the above quotation that for this special remedy (adverse claim) to be
availed of, it must be shown that there is no other provision in the law for registration
of the claimant's alleged right or interest in the property. The herein claim of the
Nicandros is based on a perfected contract of sale executed in their favor by the
lawful owner of the land. Considering that the Land Registration Act specifically
prescribes the procedure for registration of a vendee's right on a registered property,
(Section 57, Act 496) the remedy provided in Section 110, which was resorted to and
invoked by appellees, would be ineffective for the purpose of protecting their said
right or interest on the two lots.

WHEREFORE, the Resolution appealed from is hereby set aside, and the Register
of Deeds of Quezon City ordered to issue the corresponding certificate of title in favor
of appellant DBP. Without costs.So ordered.(At pp. 1341-1342. Emphasis supplied.)

There is evidence to the effect that prior to or during the preparation of the corresponding deeds of
sale for lots 2 and 4 in their favor, the private respondents knew of the previous acquisition of said
property by the DBP. Sometime in September 1958, the Chief of the Sales Division of the PHHC
informed Honesto G. Nicandro. that Lots 2 and 4 were part of the 159 lots previously sold by the
PHHC to the DBP, On November 6, 1958, when Nicandro. asked that the corresponding deeds of
sale over Lots 2 and 4 be prepared, the same Chief of the Sales Division expressed his misgivings
by telling the General Manager of the PHHC, in the presence of Nicandro, that the two lots that the
Nicandros wanted to buy had already been sold to the DBP and the latter had not yet relinquished its
right over said property. 18 In any event, the Nicandros were not able to register their deeds of sale
over Lots 2 and 4. Before the registration of a deed or instrument, a registered property is not bound
thereby insofar as third persons are concerned. Registration is the means whereby the property is
made subject to the terms of the instrument. It is the operative act that gives validity to the transfer or
creates a lien upon the land. 19 In Register of Deeds of Quezon City v. Nicandro, supra, this Court
held that the registration of the sales agreement between the PHHC and the DBP and the annotation
thereof on the old TCT No. 1365 constituted a prior valid registration of its rights to the properties
sold.

Under such circumstances, since under the Torrens system, registration is the operative act that
gives validity to the transfer, 20 and it was the sale to the DBP that was registered and transfer
certificate of title issued to the DBP, private respondents could not have, therefore, acquired any
complete, absolute and unconditional right over the property. They had no vested rights on the
property at the time of the enactment of Republic Act No. 3147. A "vested right is one which is
absolute, complete, and unconditional, to the exercise of which no obstacle exists, and which is
immediate and perfect in itself and not dependent upon a contingency," 21 To be vested in its
accurate legal sense, a right must be complete and consummated, and one of which the person to
whom it belongs cannot be divested without his consent. 22

During the pendency of this case, the People's Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC) has
been dissolved and its powers, functions, balance of appropriations, records, assets, rights and
choses in action, subject to certain conditions, were transferred to the National Housing
Authority. 23 Considering that this case has been pending in the courts since 1961, and the
constitutional right of the parties to a speedy disposition of their case, the Court hereby renders
judgment herein, without awaiting the substitution of the PHHC by the National Housing Authority.

WHEREFORE, in view hereof judgment is hereby rendered: (1) reversing the judgment of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 34518-R, dated February 29, 1968, and dismissing the complaint filed by
the respondent spouses for rescision of the sale"; and (2) ordering the Development Bank of the
Philippines to reimburse to the Nicandro spouses the payments which they made to the PHHC in
connection with said lots, with interest at the legal rate from November 6, 1958 until fully paid, which
amount shall be deducted from the balance of the purchase price of the property. No special
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-18566 September 30, 1963

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF ELIZABETH MIRA, GILBERT R. BREHM and ESTER
MIRA BREHM,petitioners-appellees,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, oppositor-appellant.

Pitt Vasquez for petitioners-appellees.


Office of the Solicitor General for oppositor-appellant.

PAREDES, J.:

Finding that only legal issues are involved in the instant case, the Court of Appeals certified the
same to this Court for disposition.

Gilbert R. Brehm is an American citizen, serving the U.S. Navy with temporary assignment at Subic
Bay. On October 9, 1958, he married Ester Mira, a Filipino citizen, who had a daughter Elizabeth, by
another man, also of the American Navy, who left the country in 1952, and never heard from since
then. After the marriage, the couple established residence at Intramuros, Manila, and the minor
Elizabeth had always been under their care and support of Brehm.

On January 28, 1959, the spouses filed a Joint Petition with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations
Court for the adoption of the minor Elizabeth, claiming that they have mutually given their consent to
the adoption, not only to promote her best interest and well-being, but also to give her a legitimate
status. They prayed that after the proper proceedings, judgment be entered, freeing the child
Elizabeth Mira from all legal obligations of obedience and maintenance with respect to her natural
father, and be, for all legal intents and purposes, the child of the petitioners, with all the rights
pertinent thereto.

An opposition to the petition with respect to Gilbert Brehm was registered by the Republic of the
Philippines, it appearing that Brehm testified that his residence in Philippines was merely temporary,
same being effective only for purposes of his tour of duty with the Navy, thus disqualifying him from
making an adoption (Art. 335 [4], New Civil Code; Sec. 2, Rule 100, Rules of Court), and that being a
non-resident alien, the Court has no jurisdiction over him.

A reply to the opposition was presented by petitioners. They claim that Art. 335 does not apply in the
case, reasoning out that it covers only adoptions for the purpose establishing a relationship of
paternity and filiation, where none existed, but not where the adopting parents are not total strangers
to said child; that there is already a relation between the child and Brehm, created by affinity that Art.
338 of the New Civil code, expressly authorizes the adoption of a step-child by a step-father, in
which category petitioner Brehm falls. Petitioners contend that the records show their residence is
Manila, for while Brehm works at Subic, he always goes home to Manila, during week-ends and
manifested that he intends to reside in the Philippines permanently, after his tour of duty with the
U.S. Naval Forces.

The Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court rendered judgment, the Pertinent portions of which read —

... Since residence is principally a matter of intention, the Court is of the opinion that
notwithstanding the nature of Petitioner Gilbert R. Brehm's coming to the Philippines, his
subsequent acts, coupled with his declared intention of permanently residing herein, have
cured the legal defect on the point of residence.

Finally, we must consider the status of the minor Elizabeth Mira whose welfare deserves
paramount consideration. Being a natural child of the petitioning wife, it cannot be in
conscience be expected that when petitioners married, the mother would reduce her
responsibility and her affection toward her child....

WHEREFORE, finding that the principal allegations of the petitioners are true, it is hereby
adjudged that henceforth the minor Elizabeth is freed from all obligations of obedience and
maintenance with respect to her natural father, and is, to all legal intents and purposes, the
child of the petitioners Gilbert R. Brehm and Ester Mira Brehm, said minor's surname being
change from "Mira" to "Mira Brehm". 1awphîl.nèt
The Solicitor General took exception from the judgment, claiming that it was error for the Court in
adjudging the minor Elizabeth Mira the adopted child of petitioner Gilbert R. Brehm. The appeal,
however, did not assail the right of petitioner Ester Mira Brehm, the natural mother of the minor, to
adopt her.

There is no question that petitioner Gilbert R. Brehm is a non-resident alien. By his own testimony,
he supplied the conclusive proof of his status here, and no amount of reasoning will overcome the
same. For this reason, he is not qualified to adopt. On this very point, We have recently declared:

The only issue in this appeal is whether, not being permanent residents in the Philippines,
petitioners are qualified to adopt Baby Rose. Article 335 of the Civil Code of the Philippines,
Provides that —

The following cannot adopt

x xx x xx x xx

(4) Non-resident aliens;

x xx x xx x xx

This legal provision is too clear to require interpretation. No matter how much we may
sympathize with the plight of Baby Rose and with the good intentions of petitioners herein,
the law leaves us no choice but to apply its explicit terms, which unqualifiedly deny to
petitioners the power to adopt anybody in the Philippines (Ellis & Ellis v. Republic, L-16922,
Apr. 30, 1963).

Prior to the above decision, We have also denied petitions to adopt by persons similarly situated as
petitioner Brehm. Thus, in the case of Caraballo v. Republic, G.R. No. L-15080, April 25, 1962,
giving some reason why non-resident aliens are disqualified to adopt, We said —

... Looking after the welfare of a minor to be adopted the law has surrounded him with
safeguards to achieve and insure such welfare. It cannot be gain said that an adopted minor
may be removed from the country by the adopter, who is not a resident of the Philippines,
and placed beyond the reach and protection of the country of his birth. (See also S/Sgt.
Katancik, v. Republic, G.R. No. L-15472, June 20, 1962).

This notwithstanding, petitioners press the argument that Brehm being now the step-father of the
minor, he is qualified to adopt, in view of the provisions of par. 3, Art. 338, Civil Code, which states

The following may be adopted:

(1) The natural child by the natural father

(2) Other legitimate children, by the father or mother

(3) A step-child, by the step-father or step-mother.

We should construe, however, Article 338 in connection with article 335. Art. 335 clearly states that
"The following cannot adopt: ... (4). Non-resident aliens". It is therefore, mandatory, because it
contains words of positive prohibition and is couched in the negative terms importing that the act
required shall not be done otherwise than designated (50 Am. Jur. 51). On the other hand, Art. 338,
Provides "the following may be adopted: (3) a
step-child, by the step-father or step-mother", which is merely directory, and which can only be given
operation if the same does not conflict with the mandatory provisions of Art. 335. Moreover, as
heretofore been shown, it is article 335 that confers jurisdiction to the court over the case, and
before Article; 338 may or can be availed of, such jurisdiction must first be established. We ruled out
the adoption of a step-child by a step-father, when the latter has a legitimate child of his own (Ball v.
Rep., 50 O.G. 145; and McGee v. Rep., L-5387, April 29, 1959).

IN VIEW HEREOF, the decision appealed from, in so far as it affects the petitioner Gilbert R. Brehm,
is hereby reversed, and his Petition to adopt the child EIizabeth Mira, denied. Without costs.
G.R. No. L-27828 February 27, 1970

THE SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION (Formerly San Miguel Brewery, Inc.), petitioner,
vs.
MACARIO CRUZ and the COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, respondents.

Siguion Reyna, Montecillo Belo and Ongsiako for petitioner.

Gonzalo A. Tejada for respondent Macario Cruz.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Petition filed by the San Miguel Corporation (formerly San Miguel Brewery, Inc.) for review of the
decision of the Court of Industrial Relations (in Case No. 2870-ULP), finding it guilty of unfair labor
practices and ordering the reinstatement with back wages of complainant Macario Cruz.

The records of the case show that sometime in October, 1957 the
"PagkakaisaSamahangManggagawasa S.M.B. (Paflu)", a labor organization in the San Miguel
Corporation, staged a strike against the latter. After said strike ended and the strikers resumed their
work, Macario Cruz, a driver-employee and member of the Union, was called by one Mr. Camahort,
a company official, and was shown a newspaper clipping carrying a picture depicting him (Cruz) as
one of the strikers. According to Cruz, he was told by Camahort that he would be dismissed if he
would not desist from union activities. A few months thereafter, or on 17 March 1958, Cruz was
advised of the company's decision to retire him from the service for physical disability, effective 31
March 1958.1 Cruz must have already received information thereof before it could be sent by the
company because under date of 15 March 1958 said employee wrote the company requesting that the
benefits due him on account of his retirement be given in only one installment. 2 Accordingly, on 10 April
1958, Cruz, received from the company HSBC Cheeks Nos. K905357 and K905358 in the total sum of
P3,019.46 as "full and complete payment of all my (his) retirement benefits." 3

On 12 June 1958, Cruz also filed with the Social Security System an application for disability
benefit,4 wherein he affirmed having retired from employment on 31 March 1958. This claim, however,
was denied for the reason that the case properly falls under sickness benefits, to which claimant was not
yet entitled, he having been a member of the System for less than one year. 5

Three years after he was retired, on 27 May 1961, Macario Cruz charged the San Miguel Company
before the Court of Industrial Relations with unfair labor practices for his dismissal in 1958, allegedly
for union activities. The formal complaint against the company was filed by the Acting Prosecutor of
the Court on 12 October 1961 (Case No. 2870-ULP). After hearing, the trial Judge rendered decision
sustaining the charges and ordering therein respondent Company to reinstate the complainant with
back, wages, but deducting there from the amounts already received by him as retirement benefits.
The company sought reconsideration thereof before the court en banc, and when the same was
denied on 5 June 1967 (with two judges dissenting) the present petition for review was filed.

The primary question posed in this proceeding is whether or not a former employee who has
accepted retirement benefits may still contest the regularity and validity of his retirement 3 years
thereafter.

In disposing of the company's defense of estoppel and ruling that the acceptance by complainant of
retirement benefits did not preclude the latter from assailing the validity of the termination of his
employment, the respondent Court cited the case of Cariño vs. Agricultural Credit and Cooperative
Financing Administration,6 wherein we said:

Acceptance of those benefits (separation pay and terminal leave benefits) would not
amount to estoppel. The reason is plain. Employer and employee, obviously, do not
stand on the same footing. The employer drove the employee to the wall. The latter
must have to get hold of money. Because, out of job, he had to face the harsh
necessities of life. He thus found himself in no position to resist money proferred. His,
then, is a case of adherence, not of choice. One thing sure, however, is that
petitioners did not relent on their claim. They pressed it. They are deemed not to
have waived any of their rights.
The above pronouncement relied upon by the Industrial Court is not controlling in the present case.
In the first place, as distinctly stated in the Cariño case, therein petitioners were improperly
dismissed and never relented in their efforts to assert the illegality of their separation 'from
employment and to demand reinstatement. By contrast, the herein complainant not only specified,
and obtained, payment of retirement gratuities due him in a lump sum but even applied
for disability benefits with the Social Security System. Moreover, he never protested his alleged
illegal dismissal nor demanded reinstatement. It took him more than 3 years to question the validity
of his said retirement. The original posture taken by the complainant, indeed, can be nothing but an
agreement, or at least acquiescence, to the decision of the company to have him retired for physical
disability. Thus, even assuming that there was ground to declare his separation from the service
invalid, complainant's receipt of all the benefits arising therefrom, with full knowledge of all the facts
surrounding the same, amounts to waiver of the right to contest the validity of the company's act.7

Secondly, the petitioner company's cause is not only premised on estoppel, but also on
complainant's right having lapsed into a stale demand. For, truly, all the elements for the operation of
the principle of laches are here present: (a) conduct on the part of the employer that gave rise to the
situation on which the complaint is made, which is the retirement of the complainant for physical
disability; (b) delay in the assertion of complainant's right — the lapsing of a period of 3 years which
is neither explained nor justified; (c) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the respondent
employer that the complainant would assert the right on which the present suit is based; and (d)
injury or prejudice to the employer in the event relief is awarded to the complainant.8

Herein private respondent tries to remove this case from the operation of the laches principle by
alleging that the matter of unfair labor practice involves public interest, and that the Industrial Peace
Act (Republic Act 875)did not prescribe any period within which a right provided thereunder may be
enforced. There can be no quarrel on this point; but it must be realized that, unlike prescription, the
defense of laches is not dependent on the existence of a statutory period of limitation. It can be
invoked without reckoning any specific or fixed period; it is sufficient that there be an unreasonable
and unexplained delay in bringing the action that its maintenance would already constitute inequity
or injustice to the party claiming it. As this Court succinctly declared in previous cases:

... Laches is different from the statute of limitations. Prescription is concerned with
the fact of delay, whereas laches is concerned with the effect of delay. Prescription is
a matter of time; laches is principally a question of inequity of permitting a claim to be
enforced, this inequity being founded on some change in the condition of the
property or the relation of the parties. Prescription is statutory; laches is not. Laches
applies in equity, whereas prescription applies at law. Prescription is based on fixed
time; laches is not. (Nielson & Co., Inc. vs. Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., L-
21601, 17 December 1966).9

Laches in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained


length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have
been done earlier, it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable
time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has
abandoned it or declined to assert it.

The doctrine of laches or of "stale demands" is based upon grounds of public policy
which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims, and
unlike the statute of limitations, 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. (Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, L-21456, 15 April 1968). 10

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Industrial Relations under review is hereby reversed, and the
complaint for unfair labor practices against herein petitioner, dismissed. No pronouncement as to costs.
G.R. No. L-14683 May 30, 1961

JOAQUIN QUIMSING, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
CAPT. ALFREDO LACHICA, Officer-in-Charge of the PC Controlled-Police Dept., Iloilo City;
LT. NARCISO ALIÑO, JR., Actg. Chief of Police of the City of Iloilo; and MAJ. CESAR
LUCERO, PC Provincial Commander of the Province of Iloilo, respondents-appellees.

Ramon A. Gonzales for petitioner-appellant.


The City Fiscal of Iloilo City for respondents-appellees.

CONCEPCION, J.:

Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo dismissing the petition in this case, as
well as the counterclaim of respondents herein, without costs.

Petitioner Joaquin Quimsing is the owner and manager of a duly licensed cockpit, located in the
District of Molo, City of Iloilo. On February 13, 1958, the cockpit was raided by members of the city
police force and the Constabulary under the command of Capt. Alfredo Lachica and Lt. NarcisoAliño
Jr., upon the ground that it was being illegally operated on that day, which was Thursday, not a legal
holiday. Quimsing claimed that the cockpit was authorized to operate on Thursday by an ordinance
of the City Council of Iloilo, approved on October 31, 1956. This notwithstanding, Capt. Lachica
allegedly threatened to raid the cockpit should cockfighting be held therein, thereafter, on Thursdays.
Moreover, Quimsing and nine (9) other persons were arrested and then charged in the Municipal
Court of Iloilo with a violation of Article 199 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to sections 2285
and 2286 of the Revised Administrative Code.

Quimsing, in turn, commenced the present action, in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, against
Major Cesar Lucero, as the then provincial commander of the Constabulary, and Capt. Alfredo
Lachica and Lt. NarcisoAliño, Jr., as incumbent PC officer in charge and acting chief of police,
respectively, of the Iloilo City Police. In his petition, Quimsing set up two (2) causes of action: one for
the recovery from respondents, in their private capacity, of compensatory damages, as well as moral
and exemplary damages allegedly sustained in consequence of the raid and arrest effected on
February 13, 1958, upon the ground that the same were made illegally and in bad faith, because
cockfighting on Thursdays was, it is claimed, authorized by Ordinances Nos. 5 and 58 of the City of
Iloilo, in relation to Republic Act No. 938, and because Quimsing was at odds with the city mayor of
Iloilo; and another for a writ of preliminary injunction, and, after trial, a permanent injunction,
restraining respondents, in their official, capacity, and/or their agents, from stopping the operation of
said cockpit on Thursdays and making any arrest in connection therewith.

In their answer, respondents alleged that the raid and arrest aforementioned were made in good
faith, without malice and in the faithful discharge of their official duties as law enforcing agents, and
that, pursuant to the aforementioned provisions of the Revised Penal Code and the Revised
Administrative Code, petitioner cannot legally hold cockfighting on Thursdays, despite said
ordinances of the City of Iloilo. Respondents, likewise, set up a P150,000 counterclaim for moral and
exemplary damages.

After due hearing, the Court of First Instance of Iloilo rendered judgment dismissing the petition, as
well as respondents' counterclaim. Hence this appeal by petitioner herein, who maintains that:

1. The lower court erred in not disqualifying the city fiscal from representing the respondents-
appellees in the first cause of action of the petition where they are sued in their personal
capacity;

2. The lower court erred in not disqualifying the city fiscal from asking the invalidity of an
ordinance of the City of Iloilo;

3. The lower court erred in declaring Ordinance No. 51 series of 1954, as amended by
Ordinance No. 58, series of 1956, of the City of Iloilo as illegal;

4. The lower court erred in not awarding damages to the petitioner.


The first three assignments of error are related to petitioner's second cause of action, whereas the
fourth assignment of error refers to the first cause of action. Hence, we will begin by considering the
last assignment of error.

At the outset, we note that the bad faith imputed to respondents herein has not been duly
established. In fact, there is no evidence that Major Lucero had previous knowledge of the raid and
arrest that his co-respondents intended to make. What is more, petitioner would appear to have
included him as respondent merely upon the theory of command responsibility, as provincial
commander of the constabulary in the province and city of Iloilo. However, there is neither allegation
nor proof that he had been in any way guilty of fault or negligence in connection with said raid and
arrest.

As regards Capt. Lachica and Lt. Aliño Jr., the records indicate that they were unaware of the city
ordinances relieved upon by petitioner herein. Indeed, they appeared to have been surprised when
petitioner invoked said ordinances. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that they were
earnestly of the opinion, as His Honor the Trial judge was, that cockfighting on Thursdays is, despite
the aforementioned ordinances, illegal under Article 199 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to
sections 2285 and 2286 of the Revised Administrative Code. Although petitioner maintains that such
opinion is erroneous, the facts of record sufficiently warrant the conclusion that Capt. Lachica and Lt.
Aliño Jr. had acted in good faith and under the firm conviction that they were faithfully discharging
their duty as law enforcing agents.

In the light of the foregoing and of the other circumstances surrounding the case, and inasmuch as
the assessment of moral and exemplary damages "is left to the discretion of the court, according to
the circumstances of each case" (Art. 2216, Civil Code of the Philippines), it is our considered view
that respondents herein should not be held liable for said damages. Neither should they be
sentenced to pay compensatory damages, the same not having been proven satisfactorily. Hence,
the fourth assignment of error is untenable.

The first assignment of error is based upon section 64 of the Charter of the City of Iloilo
(Commonwealth Act No. 158), pursuant to which the City Fiscal thereof "shall represent the city in all
civil cases wherein the city or any officers thereof in his official capacity is a party." Although this
section imposes upon the city fiscal the duty to appear in the eases specified, it does not prohibit him
from representing city officers sued as private individuals on account of acts performed by them in
their official capacity, specially when, as in the case at bar, they claim to have acted in good faith
and in accordance with a legal provision, which they earnestly believed, as the lower court believed,
should be construed in the manner set forth in their answer. Again, under petitioner's second cause
of action, respondents are sued in their official capacity. This fact and the circumstances under
which respondents performed the acts involved in the first cause of action sufficiently justified the
appearance of the City Fiscal of Iloilo on their behalf.

We need not pass upon the merits of the second assignment of error, the same not being essential
to the determination of this case, for, regardless of whether or not it is proper for the City Fiscal of
Iloilo, as such, to assail the validity of an ordinance thereof, it cannot be denied that respondents
herein may do so in their defense.

Referring now to the third assignment of error, Article 199 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

The penalty of arrestomenor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, or both, in the discretion of
the court, shall be imposed upon:

1. Any person who directly or indirectly participates in cockfights, by betting money or other
valuable things, or who organizes cockfights at which bets are made, on a day other than
those permitted by law.

2. Any person who directly or indirectly participates in cockfights, by betting money or other
valuable things, or organizes such cockfights at a place other than a licensed cockpit.

Respondents maintain that this legal provision should construed be in relation to sections 2285 and
2286 of the Revised Administrative Code, reading:

SEC. 2285.Restriction upon cockfighting. — Cockfighting shall take place only in licensed
cockpits and, except as provided n the next succeeding section hereof, only upon legal
holidays and for a period of not exceeding three days during the celebration of the local
fiesta. No card game or games of chance of any kind shall be permitted on the premises of
the cockpit.

SEC. 2286.Cockfighting at fairs and carnivals. — In provinces where the provincial board
resolves that a fair or exposition of agricultural and industrial products of the province,
carnival, or any other act which may redound to the promotion of the general interests
thereof, shall be held on a suitable date or dates, the council of the municipality in which
such fair, exposition or carnival is held may, by resolution of a majority of the council,
authorize the cockfighting permitted at a local fiesta to take place for not to exceed three
days during said exposition fair, or carnival, if these fall on a date other than that of the local
fiesta. Where this action is taken, cockfighting shall not be permitted during the local fiesta
unless a legal holiday occurs at such period in which case cockfighting may be permitted
upon the holiday.

Petitioner assails, however, the applicability of these two (2) provisions to the case at bar, upon the
ground that said provisions form part of Chapter 57 of the Revised Administrative Code — which
chapter is entitled "Municipal Law" — governing regular municipalities, not chartered cities, like the
City of Iloilo, for, "except as otherwise specially provided", the term "municipality", as used in that
Code and in said section 2286, "does not include chartered city, municipal district or other political
division" (Section 2, Revised Administrative Code). Petitioner's contention is well-taken but it does
not follow therefrom that he was entitled to hold cockfightings on Thursdays.

Pursuant to section 21 of Commonwealth Act No. 158, otherwise known as the Charter of the City of
Iloilo:

Except as otherwise provided by law, the Municipal Board shall have the following legislative
powers . . . to tax, fix the license fee for, and regulate, among others, theatrical performances
. . . and places of amusements (par. j) . . . .

Moreover, under section 1 of Republic Act No. 938, as amended by Republic Act No. 1224:

The municipal or city board or council of each chartered city and the municipal council of
each municipality and municipal district shall have the power to regulate or prohibit by
ordinance the establishment, maintenance and operation of nightclubs, cabarets, dancing
schools, pavilions, cockpits, bars, saloons, bowling alleys, billiard pools, and other similar
places of amusements within its territorial jurisdiction: Provided, however, That no such
places of amusement mentioned herein shall be established, maintained and/or operated
within a radius of two hundred lineal meters in the case of night clubs, cabarets, pavilions, or
other similar places, and fifty lineal meters in the case of dancing schools, bars, saloons,
billiard pools, bowling alleys, or other similar places, except cockpits, the distance of which
shall be left to the discretion of the municipal or city board or council, from any public
building, schools, hospitals and churches: Provided, further, That no municipal or city
ordinance fixing distances at which such places of amusement may be established or
operated shall apply to those already licensed and operating at the time of the enactment of
such municipal or city ordinance, nor will the subsequent opening of any public building or
other premises from which distances shall be measured prejudice any place of amusement
already then licensed and operating, but any such place of amusement established within
fifty lineal meters from any school, hospital or church shall be so constructed that the noise
coming therefrom shall not disturb those in the school, hospital or church, and, if such noise
causes such disturbance then such place of amusement shall not operate during school
hours when near a school, or at night when near a hospital, or when there are religious
services when near a church: Provided, furthermore, That no minor shall be admitted in any
bar, saloon, cabaret, or night club employing hostesses: And provided, finally, That this Act
shall not apply to establishments operating by virtue of Commonwealth Act Numbered Four
hundred eighty-five nor to any establishment already in operation when Republic Act
Numbered Nine hundred seventy-nine took effect.

The question for determination is whether the power of the Municipal Board of Iloilo, under section
21 of its charter to "regulate . . . places of amusement", as broadened by Republic Act No. 938, as
amended, to include "the power to regulate . . . by ordinance the establishment, maintenance, and
operation of . . . cockpits," carries with it the authority to fix the dates on which "cockfighting" may be
held. In this connection, it should be noted that said Republic Act No. 938, as amended, applies, not
only to "the municipal or city board or council of each chartered city", but, also, to "the municipal
council of each municipality or municipal district." Consequently, an affirmative answer to the
question adverted to above would necessarily imply, not merely an amendment of sections 2285 and
2286 of the Revised Administrative Code, but, even, a virtual repeal thereof, for then local boards or
councils could authorize the holding of cockfighting, not only on legal holidays, but on any day and
as often as said boards or councils may deem fit to permit, whether it be during a fair, carnival, or
exposition of agricultural and industrial products of the province, or not. Thus, the issue boils down to
whether Republic Act No. 938, as amended, gives local governments a blanket authority to permit
cockfighting at any time and for as long as said governments may wish it.

Upon mature deliberation, we hold that the answer must be in the negative. To begin with, repeals
and even amendments by implication are not favored, whereas an affirmative answer would entail a
vital amendment, amounting, for all practical purposes, to a repeal, of sections 2285 and 2286 of the
Revised Administrative Code. Secondly, grants of power to local governments are to be construed
strictly, and doubts in the interpretation thereof should be resolved in favor of the national
government and against the political subdivisions concerned. Thirdly, it is a matter of common
knowledge that cockfighting is one of the most widespread vices of our population, and that the
government has always shown a grave concern over the need of effectively curbing its evil effects.
The theory of petitioner herein presupposes that the Republic of the Philippines has completely
reversed its position and chosen, instead, to place the matter entirely at the discretion of local
governments. We should not, and can not adopt, such premise except upon a clear and unequivocal
expression of the will of Congress, which, insofar as said premise is concerned, is not manifest from
the language used in Republic Act No. 938, as amended.

Lastly, "cockpits" and "cockfighting" are regulated separately by our laws. Thus, section 2243 (i) of
the Revised Administrative Code empowers municipal councils "to regulate cockpits". Yet, the
authority of said council over "cockfighting" is found in sections 2285 and 2286 of said Code, not in
said section 2243 (i). Similarly, Article 199 of the Revised Penal Code punishes, not illegal
"cockpits", but "illegal cockfighting". What is more, participation in cockfights "on a day other than
those permitted by law", in dealt with in said article separately from participation in cockfights "at
a place other than a licensed cockpit." .

So, too, the authority of local governments, under Republic Act No. 938, as amended, to "regulate . .
. the establishment, maintenance and operation of . . . cockpits", does not necessarily connote the
power to regulate "cockfighting", except insofar as the same must take place in a duly licensed
"cockpit". Again, the first and second proviso in section 1 of said Act, regulating the distance of
cockpits and places of amusement therein mentioned from "any public building, schools, hospitals
and churches" and the third proviso of the same section, prohibiting the admission of minors to some
of those places of amusement, suggest that the authority conferred in said provision may include the
power to determine the location of cockpits, the type or nature of construction used therefor, the
conditions to persons therein, the number of cockpits that may be established in each municipality
and/or by each operator, the minimum age of the individuals who may be admitted therein, and other
matters of similar nature — as distinguished from the days on which cockfighting shall be held and
the frequency thereof.

In short, we are of the opinion that the city ordinances relied upon by petitioner herein, authorizing
cockfighting on Thursdays, are invalid.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, without special pronouncement as to
costs. It is so ordered.
G.R. No. L-24022 March 3, 1965

ILOILO PALAY AND CORN PLANTERS ASSOCIATION, INC., ET AL., petitioners,


vs.
HON. JOSE, Y. FELICIANO, ET AL., respondents.

Jose C. Zulueta and Ramon A. Gonzales for petitioners.


Office of the Solicitor General for respondents.

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:

On December 26, 1964, Jose Y. Feliciano, Chairman and General Manager of the Rice and Corn
Administration, wrote the President of the Philippines urging the immediate importation of 595,400
metric tons of rice, thru a government agency which the President may designate, pursuant to the
recommendation of the National Economic Council as embodied in its Resolution No. 70, series of
1964.

On December 27, 1964, the President submitted said letter to his cabinet for consideration and on
December 28, 1964, the cabinet approved the needed importation. On January 4, 1965, the
President designated the Rice and Corn Administration as the government agency authorized to
undertake the importation pursuant to which Chairman Jose Y. Feliciano announced an invitation to
bid for said importation and set the bidding for February 1, 1965.

Considering that said importation is contrary to Republic Act 3452 which prohibits the government
from importing rice and that there is no law appropriating funds to finance the same, the Iloilo Palay
and Corn Planters Association, Inc., together with Ramon A. Gonzales, in his capacity as taxpayer,
filed the instant petition before this Court seeking to restrain Jose Y. Feliciano, in his capacity as
Chairman and General Manager of the Rice and Corn Administration, from conducting the bid
scheduled on the date abovementioned, and from doing any other act that may result in the
contemplated importation until further orders of this Court. For reasons that do not clearly appear,
the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Auditor General were made co-respondents.

Pending decision on the merits, petitioners prayed for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction,
which, in due course, this Court granted upon petitioners' filing a bond in the amount of P50,000.00.
This bond having been filed, the writ was issued on February 10, 1965.

Respondents, in their answer do not dispute the essential allegations of the petition though they
adduced reasons which justify the importation sought to be made. They anchor the validity of the
importation on the provisions of Republic Act 2207 which, in their opinion, still stand.

It is petitioners' contention that the importation in question being undertaken by the government even
if there is a certification by the National Economic Council that there is a shortage in the local supply
of rice of such gravity as to constitute a national emergency, is illegal because the same is prohibited
by Republic Act 3452 which, in its Section 10, provides that the importation of rice and corn is only
left to private parties upon payment of the corresponding taxes. They claim that the Rice and Corn
Administration, or any other government agency, is prohibited from doing so.

It is true that the section above adverted to leaves the importation of rice and corn exclusively to
private parties thereby prohibiting from doing so the Rice and Corn Administration or any other
government agency, but from this it does not follow that at present there is no law which permits the
government to undertake the importation of rice into the Philippines. And this we say because, in our
opinion, the provision of Republic Act 2207 on the matter still stands. We refer to Section 2 of said
Act wherein, among other things, it provides that should there be an existing or imminent shortage in
the local supply of rice of such gravity as to constitute a national emergency, and this is certified by
the National Economic Council, the President of the Philippines may authorize such importation thru
any government agency that he may designate. Here there is no dispute that the National Economic
Council has certified that there is such shortage present which, because of its gravity, constitutes a
national emergency, and acting in pursuance thereof the President lost no time in authorizing, after
consulting his cabinet, the General Manager of the Rice and Corn Administration to immediately
undertake the needed importation in order to stave off the impending emergency. We find, therefore,
no plausible reason why the disputed importation should be prevented as petitioners now desire.
The contention that Republic Act 2207 has already been repealed by Republic Act 3452 is untenable
in the light of the divergent provisions obtaining in said two laws. Admittedly, Section 16 of Republic
Act 3452 contains a repealing clause which provides: "All laws or parts thereof inconsistent with the
provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly." The question may now be asked:
what is the nature of this repealing clause ? It is certainly not an express repealing clause because it
fails to identify or designate the Act or Acts that are intended to be repealed [ Sutherland, Statutory
Construction, (1943) Vol. 1, p. 467]. Rather, it is a clause which predicates the intended repeal upon
the condition that a substantial conflict must be found in existing and prior Acts. Such being the
case, the presumption against implied repeals and the rule against strict construction regarding
implied repeals apply ex propriovigore. Indeed, the legislature is presumed to know the existing laws
so that, if a repeal is intended, the proper step is to so express it [Continental Insurance Co. v.
Simpson, 8 F (2d) 439; Weber v. Bailey, 151 Ore. 2188, 51 P (2d) 832; State v. Jackson, 120 W. Va.
521, 199 S.E. 876]. The failure to add a specific repealing clause indicates that the intent was not to
repeal any existing law (Crawford, Construction of Statute, 1940 ed., p. 631), unless an
irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exist in the terms of the new and old laws. Here there is
no such inconsistency.

To begin with, the two laws, although with a common objective, refer to different methods applicable
to different circumstances. Thus, the total banning of importation under normal conditions as
provided for in Republic Act 2207 is one step to achieve the rice and corn sufficiency program of the
Administration. The philosophy behind the banning is that any importation of rice during a period of
sufficiency or even of a minor shortage will unduly compete with the local producers and depress the
local price which may discourage them from raising said crop. On the other hand, a price support
program and a partial ban of rice importation as embodied in Republic Act 3452 is another step
adopted to attend the sufficiency program. While the two laws are geared towards the same ultimate
objective, their methods of approach are different; one is by a total ban of rice importation and the
other by a partial ban, the same being applicable only to the government during normal period.

There is another area where the two laws find a common point of reconciliation: the normalcy of the
time underlying both laws. Thus, with respect to the matter of importation Republic Act 2207 covers
three different situations: (1) when the local produce of rice is sufficient to supply local consumption;
(2) when the local produce falls short of the supply but the shortage is not enough to constitute a
national emergency; and (3) when the shortage, on the local supply of rice is of such gravity as to
constitute a national emergency. Under the first two situations, no importation is allowed whether by
the government or by the private sector. However, in the case of the third situation, the law
authorizes importation, by the government.

Republic Act 3452, on the other hand, deals only with situations 1 and 2, but not with. Nowhere in
said law can we discern that it covers importation where the shortage in the local supply is of such
gravity as to constitute a national emergency. In short, Republic Act 3452 only authorizes importation
during normal times, but when there is a shortage in the local supply of such gravity as to constitute
a national emergency, we have to turn to Republic Act 2207. These two laws therefore, are not
inconsistent and so implied repeal does not ensue.

Our view that Republic Act 3452 merely contemplates importation during normal times is bolstered
by a consideration of the discussion that took place in Congress of House Bill No. 11511 which was
presented in answer to the request of the Chief Executive that he be given a standby power to
import rice in the Philippines. On this matter, we quote the following views of Senators Padilla and
Almendras:

SENATOR PADILLA: But under Republic Act No. 3452 them is a proviso in Sec. 10 thereof
"that the Rice and Corn Administration or any government agency is hereby prohibited from
importing rice and corn."

SENATOR ALMENDRAS: That is under normal conditions.

SENATOR PADILLA: "Provided further", it says, "that the importation of rice, and corn is left
to private parties upon payment of the corresponding tax." So therefore, the position of the
Committee as expressed by the distinguished sponsor, is that Sec. 10 of Republic Act No.
3452 is applicable under normal conditions.

SENATOR ALMENDRAS: "Yes". (Senate Debate, June 16, 1964).


Much stress is laid on the content of Section 12 of Republic Act 3452 which gives to the President
authority to declare a rice and corn emergency any time he deems necessary in the public interest
and, during the emergency, to conduct raids, seizure and confiscation of rice and corn hoarded in
any private warehouse or bodega subject to constitutional limitations, to support the claim that said
Act also bans importation on the part of the government even in case of an emergency. The
contention is predicated on a misinterpretation of the import and meaning of said provision. Note that
the section refers to an emergency where there is an artificial shortage because of the apparent
hoarding undertaken by certain unscrupulous dealers or businessmen, and not to an actual serious
shortage of the commodity because, if the latter exists, there is really nothing to raid, seize or
confiscate, because the situation creates a real national emergency. Congress by no means could
have intended under such a situation to deprive the government of its right to import to stave off
hunger and starvation. Congress knows that such remedy is worthless as there is no rice to be found
in the Philippines. Seizure of rice is only of value in fighting hoarding and profiteering, but such
remedy cannot produce the rice needed to solve the emergency. If there is really insufficient rice
stocked in the private warehouses and bodegas such confiscatory step cannot remedy an actual
emergency, in which case we have to turn to Republic Act 2207.

The two laws can therefore be construed as harmonious parts of the legislative expression of its
policy to promote a rice and corn program. And if this can be done, as we have shown, it is the duty
of this Court to adopt such interpretation that would give effect to both laws. Conversely, in order to
effect a repeal by implication, the litter statute must be irreconcilably inconsistent and repugnant to
the prior existing law [United States v. Greathouse,. 166 U.S. 601, 41 L. Ed., 1130; In re Phoenix
Hotel Co., 13 F. Supp. 229; Hammond v. McDonald, 32 Cal. App. 187, 89 P (2d) 407; Sutherland,
Statutory Construction, supra, p. 462]. The old and the new laws must be absolutely incompatible
(Compañia General de Tabacos v. Collector of Customs, 46 Phil. 8). A mere difference in the terms
and provisions of the statutes is not sufficient to create a repugnancy between them. There must be
such a positive repugnancy between the provisions of the old and the new statutes that they cannot
be made to reconcile and stand together (Crawford, Construction of Statute, supra, p. 631). The
clearest case possible must first be made before the inference of implied repeal may be drawn
[Nagano v. McGrath, 187 F (2d) 759]. Inconsistency is never presumed.

Republic Act 3848 entitled "An Act Providing for the Importation of Rice During the Calendar Year
Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Four in the Event of Shortage in Local Supply" cannot be given any
nullifying value, as it is pretended, simply because Section 6 thereof provides that "except as
provided in this Act, no other agency or instrumentality of the Government shall be allowed to
purchase rice from abroad." The reason is that it is a mere temporary law effective only for a specific
year. As its title reads, it is merely an authority to import rice during the year 1964. The same,
therefore, is now functus officio at least on the matter of importation.

Neither can petitioners successfully pretend that as Section 4 thereof provides that pending
prosecutions for any violation of Republic Acts 2207 and 3452 shall in no way be affected by said
Act 3848 the implication is that the aforesaid Acts have already been repealed. That provision is
merely a safeguard placed therein in order that the prosecutions already undertaken may not be
defeated with the enactment of Republic Act 3848 because the latter provides for penal provisions
which call for lesser penalty. The intention is to except them from the rule that penal statutes can be
given retroactive effect if favorable to the accused.

To further bolster our view that Republic Act 2207 has not been impliedly repealed by Republic Act
3452, we wish to briefly quote hereunder the views expressed by some senators during the
discussion of House Bill 11511 already mentioned above. It should be here repeated that said bill
was presented to accede to the request of the President for a stand-by power to import in case of
emergency in view of the uncertainty of the law, but that during the discussion thereof it was strongly
asserted and apparently upheld that such request for authority was not necessary because Republic
Act 2207 was still in force. It is probably for this reason that said bill, after having been approved by
the Senate, was killed in the conference committee that considered it. These views, while not
binding, are of persuasive authority and throw light on the issue relative to the effectivity of Republic
Act 2207.

SENATOR LIWAG: ... Now Mr. Chairman, is it the sense of the Committee that in the case of
emergency, in case of an impending shortage, we can import rice under the provisions of
R.A. No. 2207?
SENATOR ALMENDRAS: Yes, that is what we mean, your Honor, in this paragraph (c),
Section 2, page 2, that when we say "under the provisions of existing law," we are referring
to R.A. No. 2207.

x xx x xx x xx

SENATOR PADILLA: I notice, Mr. Senator, that Section 2 paragraph (c) of the amendment
by substitution reads:

Importation of rice and/or corn should be resorted to only in cases of extreme and under the
provisions of existing law.

I suppose that the existing laws referred to are Republic Act No. 2207 and Republic Act No.
3452. Does this section in the proposed bill by substitution recognize the continued existence
of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 2207 and Republic Act No. 3452 on rice
importation ?

SENATOR ALMENDRAS: Yes, that is the reason, Your Honor, why we struck out the stand-
by power on the part of the President to import rice.

x xx x xx x xx

SENATOR ALMENDRAS: The position of your Committee, Your Honor, because of the
existing law — that is, Republic Act No. 3452 and Republic Act No. 2207 — that is the
reason your Committee eliminated that stand-by power of the President to import rice.
Because you know, Your Honor, what is the use of that stand-by power, inasmuch as under
Republic Act No. 3452 and Republic Act No. 2207 the President can designate any
government agency to import rice?

SENATOR PADILLA: Well, it is good to make that clear because in the decision of the
Supreme Court, as I said, there was no clear-cut holding as to the possible co-existence or
implied repeal between these two Acts.

SENATOR ALMENDRAS: Yes, Your Honor, but the gentleman from Nueva Ecija, Senator
Liwag, informed me that Republic Act No. 2207 has never been repealed.

SENATOR PADILLA: Well, I also concur with that view, but we want to make that clear ... .

SENATOR PADILLA: "Provided, further," it says, "That the importation of rice and corn is left
to private parties upon payment of the corresponding taxes." So, therefore, the position of
the Committee, as expressed by the distinguished sponsor is that Sec. 10 of Republic Act
No. 3452 is applicable under normal conditions.

SENATOR ALMENDRAS: Yes.

SENATOR PADILLA: So, both provisions of law are in existence.

SENATOR ALMENDRAS: Yes.

SENATOR PADILLA: One is not repealed by the other.

x xx x xx x xx

SENATOR TOLENTINO: Mr. President, there are two views already expressed on whether
Republic Act No. 2207 has been repealed by Republic Act No. 3452. One view sustains the
theory that there has been a repeal of Republic Act No. 2207 by Republic Act No. 3452
insofar as rice importation is concerned. The other view is that there is no repeal. The
Supreme Court does not state clearly which side prevails. I take the view that the two laws
can be reconciled ... .

Now, Mr. President, reading those two provisions together, I maintain that they are not totally
repugnant to each other, that it is possible for them to stand together except on certain
points: First, is importation in case of a national emergency certified by the National
Economic Council permissible? By reading the two provisos together I would say yes
because there is nothing in the proviso contained in Republic Act No. 3452 which would be
inconsistent with importation during a shortage amounting to a national emergency.

Another circumstance that strengthens our view is that when said House Bill No. 11511 was finally
approved by the Senate, it carried a clause which expressly repeals, among others, Republic Act No.
2207 (Section 14), but which bill, as already said, was later killed in the conference committee. This
attitude clearly reveals that Congress preferred to fall back on Republic Act 2207 with regard to
future importations.

Anent the point raised relative to the lack of necessary appropriation to finance the importation in
question, suffice it to state that under Republic Act 663 the National Rice and Corn Corporation is
authorized to borrow, raise and secure the money that may be necessary to carry out its objectives.
We refer to Section 3 (e) of said Act which empowers said corporation to secure money and to
encumber any property it has as a guaranty, and Republic Act No. 3452, which creates the Rice and
Corn Administration, transferred its functions and powers to the latter, including the power to borrow
money under Section 3(e). This provision gives the RCA enough power with which to finance the
importation in question.

WHEREFORE, petition is dismissed. The writ of preliminary injunction issued by this Court is hereby
dissolved. Costs against petitioners.
G.R. No. L-28089 October 25, 1967

BARA LIDASAN, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

Suntay for petitioner.


Barrios and Fule for respondent.

SANCHEZ, J.:

The question initially presented to the Commission on Elections,1 is this: Is Republic Act 4790, which
is entitled "An Act Creating the Municipality of Dianaton in the Province of Lanao del Sur", but which
includes barrios located in another province — Cotabato — to be spared from attack planted upon
the constitutional mandate that "No bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace more than one
subject which shall be expressed in the title of the bill"? Comelec's answer is in the affirmative.
Offshoot is the present original petition for certiorari and prohibition.

On June 18, 1966, the Chief Executive signed into law House Bill 1247, known as Republic Act
4790, now in dispute. The body of the statute, reproduced in haecverba, reads:

Sec. 1. Barrios Togaig, Madalum, Bayanga, Langkong, Sarakan, Kat-bo, Digakapan,


Magabo, Tabangao, Tiongko, Colodan, Kabamakawan, Kapatagan, Bongabong, Aipang,
Dagowan, Bakikis, Bungabung, Losain, Matimos and Magolatung, in the Municipalities of
Butig and Balabagan, Province of Lanao del Sur, are separated from said municipalities and
constituted into a distinct and independent municipality of the same province to be known as
the Municipality of Dianaton, Province of Lanao del Sur. The seat of government of the
municipality shall be in Togaig.

Sec. 2. The first mayor, vice-mayor and councilors of the new municipality shall be elected in
the nineteen hundred sixty-seven general elections for local officials.

Sec. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

It came to light later that barrios Togaig and Madalum just mentioned are within the municipality
of Buldon, Province of Cotabato, and that Bayanga, Langkong, Sarakan, Kat-bo, Digakapan,
Magabo, Tabangao, Tiongko, Colodan and Kabamakawan are parts and parcel of another
municipality, the municipality of Parang, also in the Province of Cotabato and not of Lanao del Sur.

Prompted by the coming elections, Comelec adopted its resolution of August 15, 1967, the pertinent
portions of which are:

For purposes of establishment of precincts, registration of voters and for other election
purposes, the Commission RESOLVED that pursuant to RA 4790, the new municipality of
Dianaton, Lanao del Sur shall comprise the barrios of Kapatagan, Bongabong, Aipang,
Dagowan, Bakikis, Bungabung, Losain, Matimos, and Magolatung situated in the
municipality of Balabagan, Lanao del Sur, the barrios of Togaig and Madalum situated in the
municipality of Buldon, Cotabato, the barrios of Bayanga, Langkong, Sarakan, Kat-bo,
Digakapan, Magabo, Tabangao, Tiongko, Colodan and Kabamakawan situated in the
municipality of Parang, also of Cotabato.

Doubtless, as the statute stands, twelve barrios — in two municipalities in the province of Cotabato
— are transferred to the province of Lanao del Sur. This brought about a change in the boundaries
of the two provinces.

Apprised of this development, on September 7, 1967, the Office of the President, through the
Assistant Executive Secretary, recommended to Comelec that the operation of the statute be
suspended until "clarified by correcting legislation."

Comelec, by resolution of September 20, 1967, stood by its own interpretation, declared that the
statute "should be implemented unless declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court."
This triggered the present original action for certiorari and prohibition by Bara Lidasan, a resident
and taxpayer of the detached portion of Parang, Cotabato, and a qualified voter for the 1967
elections. He prays that Republic Act 4790 be declared unconstitutional; and that Comelec's
resolutions of August 15, 1967 and September 20, 1967 implementing the same for electoral
purposes, be nullified.

1. Petitioner relies upon the constitutional requirement aforestated, that "[n]o bill which may be
enacted into law shall embrace more than one subject which shall be expressed in the title of the
bill."2

It may be well to state, right at the outset, that the constitutional provision contains dual limitations
upon legislative power. First. Congress is to refrain from conglomeration, under one statute, of
heterogeneous subjects. Second. The title of the bill is to be couched in a language sufficient to
notify the legislators and the public and those concerned of the import of the single subject thereof.

Of relevance here is the second directive. The subject of the statute must be "expressed in the title"
of the bill. This constitutional requirement "breathes the spirit of command."3 Compliance is
imperative, given the fact that the Constitution does not exact of Congress the obligation to read
during its deliberations the entire text of the bill. In fact, in the case of House Bill 1247, which
became Republic Act 4790, only its title was read from its introduction to its final approval in the
House of Representatives4 where the bill, being of local application, originated.5

Of course, the Constitution does not require Congress to employ in the title of an enactment,
language of such precision as to mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents and the minute
details therein. It suffices if the title should serve the purpose of the constitutional demand that it
inform the legislators, the persons interested in the subject of the bill, and the public, of the nature,
scope and consequences of the proposed law and its operation. And this, to lead them to inquire into
the body of the bill, study and discuss the same, take appropriate action thereon, and, thus, prevent
surprise or fraud upon the legislators.6

In our task of ascertaining whether or not the title of a statute conforms with the constitutional
requirement, the following, we believe, may be taken as guidelines:

The test of the sufficiency of a title is whether or not it is misleading; and, which technical
accuracy is not essential, and the subject need not be stated in express terms where it is
clearly inferable from the details set forth, a title which is so uncertain that the average
person reading it would not be informed of the purpose of the enactment or put on inquiry as
to its contents, or which is misleading, either in referring to or indicating one subject where
another or different one is really embraced in the act, or in omitting any expression or
indication of the real subject or scope of the act, is bad.

xxx xxx xxx

In determining sufficiency of particular title its substance rather than its form should be
considered, and the purpose of the constitutional requirement, of giving notice to all persons
interested, should be kept in mind by the court.7

With the foregoing principles at hand, we take a hard look at the disputed statute. The title — "An Act
Creating the Municipality of Dianaton, in the Province of Lanao del Sur"8 — projects the impression
that solely the province of Lanao del Sur is affected by the creation of Dianaton. Not the slightest
intimation is there that communities in the adjacent province of Cotabato are incorporated in this new
Lanaodel Sur town. The phrase "in the Province of Lanao del Sur," read without subtlety or
contortion, makes the title misleading, deceptive. For, the known fact is that the legislation has a two-
pronged purpose combined in one statute: (1) it creates the municipality of Dianaton purportedly
from twenty-one barrios in the towns of Butig and Balabagan, both in the province of Lanao del Sur;
and (2) it also dismembers two municipalities in Cotabato, a province different from Lanaodel Sur.

The baneful effect of the defective title here presented is not so difficult to perceive. Such title did not
inform the members of Congress as to the full impact of the law; it did not apprise the people in the
towns of Buldon and Parang in Cotabato and in the province of Cotabato itself that part of their
territory is being taken away from their towns and province and added to the adjacent Province of
Lanao del Sur; it kept the public in the dark as to what towns and provinces were actually affected by
the bill. These are the pressures which heavily weigh against the constitutionality of Republic Act
4790.
Respondent's stance is that the change in boundaries of the two provinces resulting in "the
substantial diminution of territorial limits" of Cotabato province is "merely the incidental legal results
of the definition of the boundary" of the municipality of Dianaton and that, therefore, reference to the
fact that portions in Cotabato are taken away "need not be expressed in the title of the law." This
posture — we must say — but emphasizes the error of constitutional dimensions in writing down the
title of the bill. Transfer of a sizeable portion of territory from one province to another of necessity
involves reduction of area, population and income of the first and the corresponding increase of
those of the other. This is as important as the creation of a municipality. And yet, the title did not
reflect this fact.

Respondent asks us to read Felwa vs. Salas, L-16511, October 29, 1966, as controlling here.
The Felwa case is not in focus. For there, the title of the Act (Republic Act 4695) reads: "An Act
Creating the Provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Kalinga-Apayao." That title was
assailed as unconstitutional upon the averment that the provisions of the law (Section, 8 thereof) in
reference to the elective officials of the provinces thus created, were not set forth in the title of the
bill. We there ruled that this pretense is devoid of merit "for, surely, an Act creating said provinces
must be expected to provide for the officers who shall run the affairs thereof" — which is "manifestly
germane to the subject" of the legislation, as set forth in its title. The statute now before us stands
altogether on a different footing. The lumping together of barrios in adjacent but separate provinces
under one statute is neither a natural nor logical consequence of the creation of the new municipality
of Dianaton. A change of boundaries of the two provinces may be made without necessarily creating
a new municipality and vice versa.

As we canvass the authorities on this point, our attention is drawn to Hume vs. Village of Fruitport,
219 NW 648, 649. There, the statute in controversy bears the title "An Act to Incorporate the Village
of Fruitport, in the County of Muskegon." The statute, however, in its section 1 reads: "The people of
the state of Michigan enact, that the following described territory in the counties of Muskegon and
Ottawa Michigan, to wit: . . . be, and the same is hereby constituted a village corporate, by the name
of the Village of Fruitport." This statute was challenged as void by plaintiff, a resident of Ottawa
county, in an action to restraint the Village from exercising jurisdiction and control, including taxing
his lands. Plaintiff based his claim on Section 20, Article IV of the Michigan State Constitution, which
reads: "No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title." The Circuit
Court decree voided the statute and defendant appealed. The Supreme Court of Michigan voted to
uphold the decree of nullity. The following, said in Hume, may well apply to this case:

It may be that words, "An act to incorporate the village of Fruitport," would have been a
sufficient title, and that the words, "in the county of Muskegon" were unnecessary; but we do
not agree with appellant that the words last quoted may, for that reason, be disregarded as
surplusage.

. . . Under the guise of discarding surplusage, a court cannot reject a part of the title of an act
for the purpose of saving the act. Schmalz vs. Woody, 56 N.J. Eq. 649, 39 A. 539.

A purpose of the provision of the Constitution is to "challenge the attention of those affected
by the act to its provisions." Savings Bank vs. State of Michigan, 228 Mich. 316, 200 NW
262.

The title here is restrictive. It restricts the operation of the act of Muskegon county. The act
goes beyond the restriction. As was said in Schmalz vs. Wooly, supra: "The title is erroneous
in the worst degree, for it is misleading."9

Similar statutes aimed at changing boundaries of political subdivisions, which legislative purpose is
not expressed in the title, were likewise declared unconstitutional."10

We rule that Republic Act 4790 is null and void.

2. Suggestion was made that Republic Act 4790 may still be salvaged with reference to the nine
barrios in the municipalities of Butig and Balabagan in Lanaodel Sur, with the mere nullification of
the portion thereof which took away the twelve barrios in the municipalities of Buldon and Parang in
the other province of Cotabato. The reasoning advocated is that the limited title of the Act still covers
those barrios actually in the province of Lanao del Sur.
We are not unmindful of the rule, buttressed on reason and of long standing, that where a portion of
a statute is rendered unconstitutional and the remainder valid, the parts will be separated, and the
constitutional portion upheld. Black, however, gives the exception to this rule, thus:

. . . But when the parts of the statute are so mutually dependent and connected, as
conditions, considerations, inducements, or compensations for each other, as to warrant a
belief that the legislature intended them as a whole, and that if all could not be carried into
effect, the legislature would not pass the residue independently, then, if some parts are
unconstitutional, all the provisions which are thus dependent, conditional, or connected, must
fall with them,11

In substantially similar language, the same exception is recognized in the jurisprudence of this Court,
thus:

The general rule is that where part of a statute is void, as repugnant to the Organic Law,
while another part is valid, the valid portion if separable from the invalid, may stand and be
enforced. But in order to do this, the valid portion must be so far independent of the invalid
portion that it is fair to presume that the Legislature would have enacted it by itself if they had
supposed that they could not constitutionally enact the other. . . Enough must remain to
make a complete, intelligible, and valid statute, which carries out the legislative intent. . . .
The language used in the invalid part of the statute can have no legal force or efficacy for
any purpose whatever, and what remains must express the legislative will independently of
the void part, since the court has no power to legislate, . . . .12

Could we indulge in the assumption that Congress still intended, by the Act, to create the restricted
area of nine barrios in the towns of Butig and Balabagan in Lanaodel Sur into the town of Dianaton,
if the twelve barrios in the towns of Buldon and Parang, Cotabato were to be excluded therefrom?
The answer must be in the negative.

Municipal corporations perform twin functions. Firstly. They serve as an instrumentality of the State
in carrying out the functions of government. Secondly. They act as an agency of the community in
the administration of local affairs. It is in the latter character that they are a separate entity acting for
their own purposes and not a subdivision of the State.13

Consequently, several factors come to the fore in the consideration of whether a group of barrios is
capable of maintaining itself as an independent municipality. Amongst these are population, territory,
and income. It was apparently these same factors which induced the writing out of House Bill 1247
creating the town of Dianaton. Speaking of the original twenty-one barrios which comprise the new
municipality, the explanatory note to House Bill 1247, now Republic Act 4790, reads:

The territory is now a progressive community; the aggregate population is large; and the
collective income is sufficient to maintain an independent municipality.

This bill, if enacted into law, will enable the inhabitants concerned to govern themselves and
enjoy the blessings of municipal autonomy.

When the foregoing bill was presented in Congress, unquestionably, the totality of the twenty-one
barrios — not nine barrios — was in the mind of the proponent thereof. That this is so, is plainly
evident by the fact that the bill itself, thereafter enacted into law, states that the seat of the
government is in Togaig, which is a barrio in the municipality of Buldon in Cotabato. And then the
reduced area poses a number of questions, thus: Could the observations as to progressive
community, large aggregate population, collective income sufficient to maintain an independent
municipality, still apply to a motley group of only nine barrios out of the twenty-one? Is it fair to
assume that the inhabitants of the said remaining barrios would have agreed that they be formed
into a municipality, what with the consequent duties and liabilities of an independent municipal
corporation? Could they stand on their own feet with the income to be derived in their community?
How about the peace and order, sanitation, and other corporate obligations? This Court may not
supply the answer to any of these disturbing questions. And yet, to remain deaf to these problems,
or to answer them in the negative and still cling to the rule on separability, we are afraid, is to impute
to Congress an undeclared will. With the known premise that Dianaton was created upon the basic
considerations of progressive community, large aggregate population and sufficient income, we may
not now say that Congress intended to create Dianaton with only nine — of the original twenty-one
— barrios, with a seat of government still left to be conjectured. For, this unduly stretches judicial
interpretation of congressional intent beyond credibility point. To do so, indeed, is to pass the line
which circumscribes the judiciary and tread on legislative premises. Paying due respect to the
traditional separation of powers, we may not now melt and recast Republic Act 4790 to read a
Dianaton town of nine instead of the originally intended twenty-one barrios. Really, if these nine
barrios are to constitute a town at all, it is the function of Congress, not of this Court, to spell out that
congressional will.

Republic Act 4790 is thus indivisible, and it is accordingly null and void in its totality.14

3. There remains for consideration the issue raised by respondent, namely, that petitioner has no
substantial legal interest adversely affected by the implementation of Republic Act 4790. Stated
differently, respondent's pose is that petitioner is not the real party in interest.

Here the validity of a statute is challenged on the ground that it violates the constitutional
requirement that the subject of the bill be expressed in its title. Capacity to sue, therefore, hinges on
whether petitioner's substantial rights or interests are impaired by lack of notification in the title that
the barrio in Parang, Cotabato, where he is residing has been transferred to a different provincial
hegemony.

The right of every citizen, taxpayer and voter of a community affected by legislation creating a town
to ascertain that the law so created is not dismembering his place of residence "in accordance with
the Constitution" is recognized in this jurisdiction.15

Petitioner is a qualified voter. He expects to vote in the 1967 elections. His right to vote in his own
barrio before it was annexed to a new town is affected. He may not want, as is the case here, to vote
in a town different from his actual residence. He may not desire to be considered a part of hitherto
different communities which are fanned into the new town; he may prefer to remain in the place
where he is and as it was constituted, and continue to enjoy the rights and benefits he acquired
therein. He may not even know the candidates of the new town; he may express a lack of desire to
vote for anyone of them; he may feel that his vote should be cast for the officials in the town before
dismemberment. Since by constitutional direction the purpose of a bill must be shown in its title for
the benefit, amongst others, of the community affected thereby,16 it stands to reason to say that
when the constitutional right to vote on the part of any citizen of that community is affected, he may
become a suitor to challenge the constitutionality of the Act as passed by Congress.

For the reasons given, we vote to declare Republic Act 4790 null and void, and to prohibit
respondent Commission from implementing the same for electoral purposes.

No costs allowed. So ordered.


G.R. No. L-16704 March 17, 1962

VICTORIAS MILLING COMPANY, INC., petitioner-appellant,


vs.
SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION, respondent-appellee.

Ross, Selph and Carrascoso for petitioner-appellant.


Office of the Solicitor General and Ernesto T. Duran for respondent-appellee.

BARRERA, J.:

On October 15, 1958, the Social Security Commission issued its Circular No. 22 of the following
tenor: .

Effective November 1, 1958, all Employers in computing the premiums due the System, will
take into consideration and include in the Employee's remuneration all bonuses and overtime
pay, as well as the cash value of other media of remuneration. All these will comprise the
Employee's remuneration or earnings, upon which the 3-1/2% and 2-1/2% contributions will
be based, up to a maximum of P500 for any one month.

Upon receipt of a copy thereof, petitioner Victorias Milling Company, Inc., through counsel, wrote the
Social Security Commission in effect protesting against the circular as contradictory to a previous
Circular No. 7, dated October 7, 1957 expressly excluding overtime pay and bonus in the
computation of the employers' and employees' respective monthly premium contributions, and
submitting, "In order to assist your System in arriving at a proper interpretationof the term
'compensation' for the purposes of" such computation, their observations on Republic Act 1161 and
its amendment and on the general interpretation of the words "compensation", "remuneration" and
"wages". Counsel further questioned the validity of the circular for lack of authority on the part of the
Social Security Commission to promulgate it without the approval of the President and for lack of
publication in the Official Gazette.

Overruling these objections, the Social Security Commission ruled that Circular No. 22 is not a rule
or regulation that needed the approval of the President and publication in the Official Gazette to be
effective, but a mere administrative interpretation of the statute, a mere statement of general policy
or opinion as to how the law should be construed.

Not satisfied with this ruling, petitioner comes to this Court on appeal.

The single issue involved in this appeal is whether or not Circular No. 22 is a rule or regulation, as
contemplated in Section 4(a) of Republic Act 1161 empowering the Social Security Commission "to
adopt, amend and repeal subject to the approval of the President such rules and regulations as may
be necessary to carry out the provisions and purposes of this Act."

There can be no doubt that there is a distinction between an administrative rule or regulation and an
administrative interpretation of a law whose enforcement is entrusted to an administrative body.
When an administrative agency promulgates rules and regulations, it "makes" a new law with the
force and effect of a valid law, while when it renders an opinion or gives a statement of policy, it
merely interprets a pre-existing law (Parker, Administrative Law, p. 197; Davis, Administrative Law,
p. 194). Rules and regulations when promulgated in pursuance of the procedure or authority
conferred upon the administrative agency by law, partake of the nature of a statute, and compliance
therewith may be enforced by a penal sanction provided in the law. This is so because statutes are
usually couched in general terms, after expressing the policy, purposes, objectives, remedies and
sanctions intended by the legislature. The details and the manner of carrying out the law are often
times left to the administrative agency entrusted with its enforcement. In this sense, it has been said
that rules and regulations are the product of a delegated power to create new or additional legal
provisions that have the effect of law. (Davis, op. cit., p. 194.) .

A rule is binding on the courts so long as the procedure fixed for its promulgation is followed and its
scope is within the statutory authority granted by the legislature, even if the courts are not in
agreement with the policy stated therein or its innate wisdom (Davis, op. cit., 195-197). On the other
hand, administrative interpretation of the law is at best merely advisory, for it is the courts that finally
determine what the law means.
Circular No. 22 in question was issued by the Social Security Commission, in view of the amendment of
the provisions of the Social Security Law defining the term "compensation" contained in Section 8 (f) of
Republic Act No. 1161 which, before its amendment, reads as follows: .

(f) Compensation — All remuneration for employment include the cash value of any remuneration
paid in any medium other than cash except (1) that part of the remuneration in excess of P500
received during the month; (2) bonuses, allowances or overtime pay; and (3) dismissal and all
other payments which the employer may make, although not legally required to do so.

Republic Act No. 1792 changed the definition of "compensation" to:

(f) Compensation — All remuneration for employment include the cash value of any remuneration
paid in any medium other than cash except that part of the remuneration in excess of P500.00
received during the month.

It will thus be seen that whereas prior to the amendment, bonuses, allowances, and overtime pay given in
addition to the regular or base pay were expressly excluded, or exempted from the definition of the term
"compensation", such exemption or exclusion was deleted by the amendatory law. It thus became
necessary for the Social Security Commission to interpret the effect of such deletion or elimination.
Circular No. 22 was, therefore, issued to apprise those concerned of the interpretation or understanding
of the Commission, of the law as amended, which it was its duty to enforce. It did not add any duty or
detail that was not already in the law as amended. It merely stated and circularized the opinion of the
Commission as to how the law should be construed. 1äwphï1.ñët

The case of People v. Jolliffe (G.R. No. L-9553, promulgated on May 30, 1959) cited by appellant, does
not support its contention that the circular in question is a rule or regulation. What was there said was
merely that a regulation may be incorporated in the form of a circular. Such statement simply meant that
the substance and not the form of a regulation is decisive in determining its nature. It does not lay down a
general proposition of law that any circular, regardless of its substance and even if it is only interpretative,
constitutes a rule or regulation which must be published in the Official Gazette before it could take effect.

The case of People v. Que Po Lay (50 O.G. 2850) also cited by appellant is not applicable to the present
case, because the penalty that may be incurred by employers and employees if they refuse to pay the
corresponding premiums on bonus, overtime pay, etc. which the employer pays to his employees, is not
by reason of non-compliance with Circular No. 22, but for violation of the specific legal provisions
contained in Section 27(c) and (f) of Republic Act No. 1161.

We find, therefore, that Circular No. 22 purports merely to advise employers-members of the System of
what, in the light of the amendment of the law, they should include in determining the monthly
compensation of their employees upon which the social security contributions should be based, and that
such circular did not require presidential approval and publication in the Official Gazette for its effectivity.

It hardly need be said that the Commission's interpretation of the amendment embodied in its Circular No.
22, is correct. The express elimination among the exemptions excluded in the old law, of all bonuses,
allowances and overtime pay in the determination of the "compensation" paid to employees makes it
imperative that such bonuses and overtime pay must now be included in the employee's remuneration in
pursuance of the amendatory law. It is true that in previous cases, this Court has held that bonus is not
demandable because it is not part of the wage, salary, or compensation of the employee. But the question
in the instant case is not whether bonus is demandable or not as part of compensation, but whether, after
the employer does, in fact, give or pay bonus to his employees, such bonuses shall be considered
compensation under the Social Security Act after they have been received by the employees. While it is
true that terms or words are to be interpreted in accordance with their well-accepted meaning in law,
nevertheless, when such term or word is specifically defined in a particular law, such interpretation must
be adopted in enforcing that particular law, for it can not be gainsaid that a particular phrase or term may
have one meaning for one purpose and another meaning for some other purpose. Such is the case that is
now before us. Republic Act 1161 specifically defined what "compensation" should mean "For the
purposes of this Act". Republic Act 1792 amended such definition by deleting same exemptions
authorized in the original Act. By virtue of this express substantial change in the phraseology of the law,
whatever prior executive or judicial construction may have been given to the phrase in question should
give way to the clear mandate of the new law.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Resolution appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against
appellant. So ordered.
G.R. No. L-19650 September 29, 1966

CALTEX (PHILIPPINES), INC., petitioner-appellee,


vs.
ENRICO PALOMAR, in his capacity as THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, respondent-appellant.

Office of the Solicitor General for respondent and appellant.


Ross, Selph and Carrascoso for petitioner and appellee.

CASTRO, J.:

In the year 1960 the Caltex (Philippines) Inc. (hereinafter referred to as Caltex) conceived and laid
the groundwork for a promotional scheme calculated to drum up patronage for its oil products.
Denominated "Caltex Hooded Pump Contest", it calls for participants therein to estimate the actual
number of liters a hooded gas pump at each Caltex station will dispense during a specified period.
Employees of the Caltex (Philippines) Inc., its dealers and its advertising agency, and their
immediate families excepted, participation is to be open indiscriminately to all "motor vehicle owners
and/or licensed drivers". For the privilege to participate, no fee or consideration is required to be
paid, no purchase of Caltex products required to be made. Entry forms are to be made available
upon request at each Caltex station where a sealed can will be provided for the deposit of
accomplished entry stubs.

A three-staged winner selection system is envisioned. At the station level, called "Dealer Contest",
the contestant whose estimate is closest to the actual number of liters dispensed by the hooded
pump thereat is to be awarded the first prize; the next closest, the second; and the next, the third.
Prizes at this level consist of a 3-burner kerosene stove for first; a thermos bottle and a Ray-O-Vac
hunter lantern for second; and an Everready Magnet-lite flashlight with batteries and a screwdriver
set for third. The first-prize winner in each station will then be qualified to join in the "Regional
Contest" in seven different regions. The winning stubs of the qualified contestants in each region will
be deposited in a sealed can from which the first-prize, second-prize and third-prize winners of that
region will be drawn. The regional first-prize winners will be entitled to make a three-day all-
expenses-paid round trip to Manila, accompanied by their respective Caltex dealers, in order to take
part in the "National Contest". The regional second-prize and third-prize winners will receive cash
prizes of P500 and P300, respectively. At the national level, the stubs of the seven regional first-
prize winners will be placed inside a sealed can from which the drawing for the final first-prize,
second-prize and third-prize winners will be made. Cash prizes in store for winners at this final stage
are: P3,000 for first; P2,000 for second; Pl,500 for third; and P650 as consolation prize for each of
the remaining four participants.

Foreseeing the extensive use of the mails not only as amongst the media for publicizing the contest
but also for the transmission of communications relative thereto, representations were made by
Caltex with the postal authorities for the contest to be cleared in advance for mailing, having in view
sections 1954(a), 1982 and 1983 of the Revised Administrative Code, the pertinent provisions of
which read as follows:

SECTION 1954. Absolutely non-mailable matter. — No matter belonging to any of the


following classes, whether sealed as first-class matter or not, shall be imported into the
Philippines through the mails, or to be deposited in or carried by the mails of the Philippines,
or be delivered to its addressee by any officer or employee of the Bureau of Posts:

Written or printed matter in any form advertising, describing, or in any manner pertaining to,
or conveying or purporting to convey any information concerning any lottery, gift enterprise,
or similar scheme depending in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or any scheme, device,
or enterprise for obtaining any money or property of any kind by means of false or fraudulent
pretenses, representations, or promises.

"SECTION 1982. Fraud orders.—Upon satisfactory evidence that any person or company is
engaged in conducting any lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme for the distribution of money, or
of any real or personal property by lot, chance, or drawing of any kind, or that any person or
company is conducting any scheme, device, or enterprise for obtaining money or property of
any kind through the mails by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or
promises, the Director of Posts may instruct any postmaster or other officer or employee of
the Bureau to return to the person, depositing the same in the mails, with the word
"fraudulent" plainly written or stamped upon the outside cover thereof, any mail matter of
whatever class mailed by or addressed to such person or company or the representative or
agent of such person or company.

SECTION 1983. Deprivation of use of money order system and telegraphic transfer
service.—The Director of Posts may, upon evidence satisfactory to him that any person or
company is engaged in conducting any lottery, gift enterprise or scheme for the distribution
of money, or of any real or personal property by lot, chance, or drawing of any kind, or that
any person or company is conducting any scheme, device, or enterprise for obtaining money
or property of any kind through the mails by means of false or fraudulent pretenses,
representations, or promise, forbid the issue or payment by any postmaster of any postal
money order or telegraphic transfer to said person or company or to the agent of any such
person or company, whether such agent is acting as an individual or as a firm, bank,
corporation, or association of any kind, and may provide by regulation for the return to the
remitters of the sums named in money orders or telegraphic transfers drawn in favor of such
person or company or its agent.

The overtures were later formalized in a letter to the Postmaster General, dated October 31, 1960, in
which the Caltex, thru counsel, enclosed a copy of the contest rules and endeavored to justify its
position that the contest does not violate the anti-lottery provisions of the Postal Law. Unimpressed,
the then Acting Postmaster General opined that the scheme falls within the purview of the provisions
aforesaid and declined to grant the requested clearance. In its counsel's letter of December 7, 1960,
Caltex sought a reconsideration of the foregoing stand, stressing that there being involved no
consideration in the part of any contestant, the contest was not, under controlling authorities,
condemnable as a lottery. Relying, however, on an opinion rendered by the Secretary of Justice on
an unrelated case seven years before (Opinion 217, Series of 1953), the Postmaster General
maintained his view that the contest involves consideration, or that, if it does not, it is nevertheless a
"gift enterprise" which is equally banned by the Postal Law, and in his letter of December 10, 1960
not only denied the use of the mails for purposes of the proposed contest but as well threatened that
if the contest was conducted, "a fraud order will have to be issued against it (Caltex) and all its
representatives".

Caltex thereupon invoked judicial intervention by filing the present petition for declaratory relief
against Postmaster General Enrico Palomar, praying "that judgment be rendered declaring its
'Caltex Hooded Pump Contest' not to be violative of the Postal Law, and ordering respondent to
allow petitioner the use of the mails to bring the contest to the attention of the public". After issues
were joined and upon the respective memoranda of the parties, the trial court rendered judgment as
follows:

In view of the foregoing considerations, the Court holds that the proposed 'Caltex Hooded
Pump Contest' announced to be conducted by the petitioner under the rules marked as
Annex B of the petitioner does not violate the Postal Law and the respondent has no right to
bar the public distribution of said rules by the mails.

The respondent appealed.

The parties are now before us, arrayed against each other upon two basic issues: first, whether the
petition states a sufficient cause of action for declaratory relief; and second, whether the proposed
"Caltex Hooded Pump Contest" violates the Postal Law. We shall take these up in seriatim.

1. By express mandate of section 1 of Rule 66 of the old Rules of Court, which was the applicable
legal basis for the remedy at the time it was invoked, declaratory relief is available to any person
"whose rights are affected by a statute . . . to determine any question of construction or validity
arising under the . . . statute and for a declaration of his rights thereunder" (now section 1, Rule 64,
Revised Rules of Court). In amplification, this Court, conformably to established jurisprudence on the
matter, laid down certain conditions sine qua non therefor, to wit: (1) there must be a justiciable
controversy; (2) the controversy must be between persons whose interests are adverse; (3) the party
seeking declaratory relief must have a legal interest in the controversy; and (4) the issue involved
must be ripe for judicial determination (Tolentino vs. The Board of Accountancy, et al., G.R. No. L-
3062, September 28, 1951; Delumen, et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines, 50 O.G., No. 2, pp. 576,
578-579; Edades vs. Edades, et al., G.R. No. L-8964, July 31, 1956). The gravamen of the
appellant's stand being that the petition herein states no sufficient cause of action for declaratory
relief, our duty is to assay the factual bases thereof upon the foregoing crucible.

As we look in retrospect at the incidents that generated the present controversy, a number of
significant points stand out in bold relief. The appellee (Caltex), as a business enterprise of some
consequence, concededly has the unquestioned right to exploit every legitimate means, and to avail
of all appropriate media to advertise and stimulate increased patronage for its products. In contrast,
the appellant, as the authority charged with the enforcement of the Postal Law, admittedly has the
power and the duty to suppress transgressions thereof — particularly thru the issuance of fraud
orders, under Sections 1982 and 1983 of the Revised Administrative Code, against legally non-
mailable schemes. Obviously pursuing its right aforesaid, the appellee laid out plans for the sales
promotion scheme hereinbefore detailed. To forestall possible difficulties in the dissemination of
information thereon thru the mails, amongst other media, it was found expedient to request the
appellant for an advance clearance therefor. However, likewise by virtue of his jurisdiction in the
premises and construing the pertinent provisions of the Postal Law, the appellant saw a violation
thereof in the proposed scheme and accordingly declined the request. A point of difference as to the
correct construction to be given to the applicable statute was thus reached. Communications in
which the parties expounded on their respective theories were exchanged. The confidence with
which the appellee insisted upon its position was matched only by the obstinacy with which the
appellant stood his ground. And this impasse was climaxed by the appellant's open warning to the
appellee that if the proposed contest was "conducted, a fraud order will have to be issued against it
and all its representatives."

Against this backdrop, the stage was indeed set for the remedy prayed for. The appellee's insistent
assertion of its claim to the use of the mails for its proposed contest, and the challenge thereto and
consequent denial by the appellant of the privilege demanded, undoubtedly spawned a live
controversy. The justiciability of the dispute cannot be gainsaid. There is an active antagonistic
assertion of a legal right on one side and a denial thereof on the other, concerning a real — not a
mere theoretical — question or issue. The contenders are as real as their interests are substantial.
To the appellee, the uncertainty occasioned by the divergence of views on the issue of construction
hampers or disturbs its freedom to enhance its business. To the appellant, the suppression of the
appellee's proposed contest believed to transgress a law he has sworn to uphold and enforce is an
unavoidable duty. With the appellee's bent to hold the contest and the appellant's threat to issue a
fraud order therefor if carried out, the contenders are confronted by the ominous shadow of an
imminent and inevitable litigation unless their differences are settled and stabilized by a tranquilizing
declaration (Pablo y Sen, et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. L-6868, April 30, 1955).
And, contrary to the insinuation of the appellant, the time is long past when it can rightly be said that
merely the appellee's "desires are thwarted by its own doubts, or by the fears of others" — which
admittedly does not confer a cause of action. Doubt, if any there was, has ripened into a justiciable
controversy when, as in the case at bar, it was translated into a positive claim of right which is
actually contested (III Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963 ed., pp. 132-133, citing:
Woodward vs. Fox West Coast Theaters, 36 Ariz., 251, 284 Pac. 350).

We cannot hospitably entertain the appellant's pretense that there is here no question of
construction because the said appellant "simply applied the clear provisions of the law to a given set
of facts as embodied in the rules of the contest", hence, there is no room for declaratory relief. The
infirmity of this pose lies in the fact that it proceeds from the assumption that, if the circumstances
here presented, the construction of the legal provisions can be divorced from the matter of their
application to the appellee's contest. This is not feasible. Construction, verily, is the art or process of
discovering and expounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law with respect to its
application to a given case, where that intention is rendered doubtful, amongst others, by reason of
the fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law (Black, Interpretation of Laws, p.
1). This is precisely the case here. Whether or not the scheme proposed by the appellee is within the
coverage of the prohibitive provisions of the Postal Law inescapably requires an inquiry into the
intended meaning of the words used therein. To our mind, this is as much a question of construction
or interpretation as any other.

Nor is it accurate to say, as the appellant intimates, that a pronouncement on the matter at hand can
amount to nothing more than an advisory opinion the handing down of which is anathema to a
declaratory relief action. Of course, no breach of the Postal Law has as yet been committed. Yet, the
disagreement over the construction thereof is no longer nebulous or contingent. It has taken a fixed
and final shape, presenting clearly defined legal issues susceptible of immediate resolution. With the
battle lines drawn, in a manner of speaking, the propriety — nay, the necessity — of setting the
dispute at rest before it accumulates the asperity distemper, animosity, passion and violence of a
full-blown battle which looms ahead (III Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963 ed., p. 132
and cases cited), cannot but be conceded. Paraphrasing the language in Zeitlin vs. Arnebergh 59
Cal., 2d., 901, 31 Cal. Rptr., 800, 383 P. 2d., 152, cited in 22 Am. Jur., 2d., p. 869, to deny
declaratory relief to the appellee in the situation into which it has been cast, would be to force it to
choose between undesirable alternatives. If it cannot obtain a final and definitive pronouncement as
to whether the anti-lottery provisions of the Postal Law apply to its proposed contest, it would be
faced with these choices: If it launches the contest and uses the mails for purposes thereof, it not
only incurs the risk, but is also actually threatened with the certain imposition, of a fraud order with its
concomitant stigma which may attach even if the appellee will eventually be vindicated; if it
abandons the contest, it becomes a self-appointed censor, or permits the appellant to put into effect
a virtual fiat of previous censorship which is constitutionally unwarranted. As we weigh these
considerations in one equation and in the spirit of liberality with which the Rules of Court are to be
interpreted in order to promote their object (section 1, Rule 1, Revised Rules of Court) — which, in
the instant case, is to settle, and afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to, rights
and duties under a law — we can see in the present case any imposition upon our jurisdiction or any
futility or prematurity in our intervention.

The appellant, we apprehend, underrates the force and binding effect of the ruling we hand down in
this case if he believes that it will not have the final and pacifying function that a declaratory
judgment is calculated to subserve. At the very least, the appellant will be bound. But more than this,
he obviously overlooks that in this jurisdiction, "Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the law
shall form a part of the legal system" (Article 8, Civil Code of the Philippines). In effect, judicial
decisions assume the same authority as the statute itself and, until authoritatively abandoned,
necessarily become, to the extent that they are applicable, the criteria which must control the
actuations not only of those called upon to abide thereby but also of those in duty bound to enforce
obedience thereto. Accordingly, we entertain no misgivings that our resolution of this case will
terminate the controversy at hand.

It is not amiss to point out at this juncture that the conclusion we have herein just reached is not
without precedent. In Liberty Calendar Co. vs. Cohen, 19 N.J., 399, 117 A. 2d., 487, where a
corporation engaged in promotional advertising was advised by the county prosecutor that its
proposed sales promotion plan had the characteristics of a lottery, and that if such sales promotion
were conducted, the corporation would be subject to criminal prosecution, it was held that the
corporation was entitled to maintain a declaratory relief action against the county prosecutor to
determine the legality of its sales promotion plan. In parimateria, see also: Bunis vs. Conway, 17
App. Div. 2d., 207, 234 N.Y.S. 2d., 435; Zeitlin vs. Arnebergh, supra; Thrillo, Inc. vs. Scott, 15 N.J.
Super. 124, 82 A. 2d., 903.

In fine, we hold that the appellee has made out a case for declaratory relief.

2. The Postal Law, chapter 52 of the Revised Administrative Code, using almost identical
terminology in sections 1954(a), 1982 and 1983 thereof, supra, condemns as absolutely non-
mailable, and empowers the Postmaster General to issue fraud orders against, or otherwise deny
the use of the facilities of the postal service to, any information concerning "any lottery, gift
enterprise, or scheme for the distribution of money, or of any real or personal property by lot,
chance, or drawing of any kind". Upon these words hinges the resolution of the second issue posed
in this appeal.

Happily, this is not an altogether untrodden judicial path. As early as in 1922, in "El Debate", Inc. vs.
Topacio, 44 Phil., 278, 283-284, which significantly dwelt on the power of the postal authorities
under the abovementioned provisions of the Postal Law, this Court declared that —

While countless definitions of lottery have been attempted, the authoritative one for this
jurisdiction is that of the United States Supreme Court, in analogous cases having to do with
the power of the United States Postmaster General, viz.: The term "lottery" extends to all
schemes for the distribution of prizes by chance, such as policy playing, gift exhibitions, prize
concerts, raffles at fairs, etc., and various forms of gambling. The three essential elements of
a lottery are: First, consideration; second, prize; and third, chance. (Horner vs. States [1892],
147 U.S. 449; Public Clearing House vs. Coyne [1903], 194 U.S., 497; U.S. vs. Filart and
Singson [1915], 30 Phil., 80; U.S. vs. Olsen and Marker [1917], 36 Phil., 395; U.S. vs. Baguio
[1919], 39 Phil., 962; Valhalla Hotel Construction Company vs. Carmona, p. 233, ante.)

Unanimity there is in all quarters, and we agree, that the elements of prize and chance are too
obvious in the disputed scheme to be the subject of contention. Consequently as the appellant
himself concedes, the field of inquiry is narrowed down to the existence of the element of
consideration therein. Respecting this matter, our task is considerably lightened inasmuch as in the
same case just cited, this Court has laid down a definitive yard-stick in the following terms —

In respect to the last element of consideration, the law does not condemn the gratuitous
distribution of property by chance, if no consideration is derived directly or indirectly from the
party receiving the chance, but does condemn as criminal schemes in which a valuable
consideration of some kind is paid directly or indirectly for the chance to draw a prize.

Reverting to the rules of the proposed contest, we are struck by the clarity of the language in which
the invitation to participate therein is couched. Thus —

No puzzles, no rhymes? You don't need wrappers, labels or boxtops? You don't have to buy
anything? Simply estimate the actual number of liter the Caltex gas pump with the hood at
your favorite Caltex dealer will dispense from — to —, and win valuable prizes . . . ." .

Nowhere in the said rules is any requirement that any fee be paid, any merchandise be bought, any
service be rendered, or any value whatsoever be given for the privilege to participate. A prospective
contestant has but to go to a Caltex station, request for the entry form which is available on demand,
and accomplish and submit the same for the drawing of the winner. Viewed from all angles or turned
inside out, the contest fails to exhibit any discernible consideration which would brand it as a lottery.
Indeed, even as we head the stern injunction, "look beyond the fair exterior, to the substance, in
order to unmask the real element and pernicious tendencies which the law is seeking to prevent" ("El
Debate", Inc. vs. Topacio, supra, p. 291), we find none. In our appraisal, the scheme does not only
appear to be, but actually is, a gratuitous distribution of property by chance.

There is no point to the appellant's insistence that non-Caltex customers who may buy Caltex
products simply to win a prize would actually be indirectly paying a consideration for the privilege to
join the contest. Perhaps this would be tenable if the purchase of any Caltex product or the use of
any Caltex service were a pre-requisite to participation. But it is not. A contestant, it hardly needs
reiterating, does not have to buy anything or to give anything of value. 1awphîl.nèt

Off-tangent, too, is the suggestion that the scheme, being admittedly for sales promotion, would
naturally benefit the sponsor in the way of increased patronage by those who will be encouraged to
prefer Caltex products "if only to get the chance to draw a prize by securing entry blanks". The
required element of consideration does not consist of the benefit derived by the proponent of the
contest. The true test, as laid down in People vs. Cardas, 28 P. 2d., 99, 137 Cal. App. (Supp.) 788,
is whether the participant pays a valuable consideration for the chance, and not whether those
conducting the enterprise receive something of value in return for the distribution of the prize.
Perspective properly oriented, the standpoint of the contestant is all that matters, not that of the
sponsor. The following, culled from Corpus JurisSecundum, should set the matter at rest:

The fact that the holder of the drawing expects thereby to receive, or in fact does receive,
some benefit in the way of patronage or otherwise, as a result of the drawing; does not
supply the element of consideration. Griffith Amusement Co. vs. Morgan, Tex. Civ. App., 98
S.W., 2d., 844" (54 C.J.S., p. 849).

Thus enlightened, we join the trial court in declaring that the "Caltex Hooded Pump Contest"
proposed by the appellee is not a lottery that may be administratively and adversely dealt with under
the Postal Law.

But it may be asked: Is it not at least a "gift enterprise, or scheme for the distribution of money, or of
any real or personal property by lot, chance, or drawing of any kind", which is equally prescribed?
Incidentally, while the appellant's brief appears to have concentrated on the issue of consideration,
this aspect of the case cannot be avoided if the remedy here invoked is to achieve its tranquilizing
effect as an instrument of both curative and preventive justice. Recalling that the appellant's action
was predicated, amongst other bases, upon Opinion 217, Series 1953, of the Secretary of Justice,
which opined in effect that a scheme, though not a lottery for want of consideration, may
nevertheless be a gift enterprise in which that element is not essential, the determination of whether
or not the proposed contest — wanting in consideration as we have found it to be — is a prohibited
gift enterprise, cannot be passed over sub silencio.

While an all-embracing concept of the term "gift enterprise" is yet to be spelled out in explicit words,
there appears to be a consensus among lexicographers and standard authorities that the term is
commonly applied to a sporting artifice of under which goods are sold for their market value but by way of
inducement each purchaser is given a chance to win a prize (54 C.J.S., 850; 34 Am. Jur., 654; Black, Law
Dictionary, 4th ed., p. 817; Ballantine, Law Dictionary with Pronunciations, 2nd ed., p. 55; Retail Section
of Chamber of Commerce of Plattsmouth vs. Kieck, 257 N.W., 493, 128 Neb. 13; Barker vs. State, 193
S.E., 605, 56 Ga. App., 705; Bell vs. State, 37 Tenn. 507, 509, 5 Sneed, 507, 509). As thus conceived,
the term clearly cannot embrace the scheme at bar. As already noted, there is no sale of anything to
which the chance offered is attached as an inducement to the purchaser. The contest is open to all
qualified contestants irrespective of whether or not they buy the appellee's products.

Going a step farther, however, and assuming that the appellee's contest can be encompassed within the
broadest sweep that the term "gift enterprise" is capable of being extended, we think that the appellant's
pose will gain no added comfort. As stated in the opinion relied upon, rulings there are indeed holding that
a gift enterprise involving an award by chance, even in default of the element of consideration necessary
to constitute a lottery, is prohibited (E.g.: Crimes vs. States, 235 Ala 192, 178 So. 73; Russell vs.
Equitable Loan & Sec. Co., 129 Ga. 154, 58 S.E., 88; State ex rel. Stafford vs. Fox-Great Falls Theater
Corporation, 132 P. 2d., 689, 694, 698, 114 Mont. 52). But this is only one side of the coin. Equally
impressive authorities declare that, like a lottery, a gift enterprise comes within the prohibitive statutes
only if it exhibits the tripartite elements of prize, chance and consideration (E.g.: Bills vs. People, 157 P.
2d., 139, 142, 113 Colo., 326; D'Orio vs. Jacobs, 275 P. 563, 565, 151 Wash., 297; People vs. Psallis, 12
N.Y.S., 2d., 796; City and County of Denver vs. Frueauff, 88 P., 389, 394, 39 Colo., 20, 7 L.R.A., N.S.,
1131, 12 Ann. Cas., 521; 54 C.J.S., 851, citing: Barker vs. State, 193 S.E., 605, 607, 56 Ga. App., 705;
18 Words and Phrases, perm. ed., pp. 590-594). The apparent conflict of opinions is explained by the fact
that the specific statutory provisions relied upon are not identical. In some cases, as pointed out in 54
C.J.S., 851, the terms "lottery" and "gift enterprise" are used interchangeably (Bills vs. People, supra); in
others, the necessity for the element of consideration or chance has been specifically eliminated by
statute. (54 C.J.S., 351-352, citing Barker vs. State, supra; State ex rel. Stafford vs. Fox-Great Falls
Theater Corporation, supra). The lesson that we derive from this state of the pertinent jurisprudence is,
therefore, that every case must be resolved upon the particular phraseology of the applicable statutory
provision.

Taking this cue, we note that in the Postal Law, the term in question is used in association with the word
"lottery". With the meaning of lottery settled, and consonant to the well-known principle of legal
hermeneutics noscitur a sociis — which Opinion 217 aforesaid also relied upon although only insofar as
the element of chance is concerned — it is only logical that the term under a construction should be
accorded no other meaning than that which is consistent with the nature of the word associated therewith.
Hence, if lottery is prohibited only if it involves a consideration, so also must the term "gift enterprise" be
so construed. Significantly, there is not in the law the slightest indicium of any intent to eliminate that
element of consideration from the "gift enterprise" therein included.

This conclusion firms up in the light of the mischief sought to be remedied by the law, resort to the
determination thereof being an accepted extrinsic aid in statutory construction. Mail fraud orders, it is
axiomatic, are designed to prevent the use of the mails as a medium for disseminating printed matters
which on grounds of public policy are declared non-mailable. As applied to lotteries, gift enterprises and
similar schemes, justification lies in the recognized necessity to suppress their tendency to inflame the
gambling spirit and to corrupt public morals (Com. vs. Lund, 15 A. 2d., 839, 143 Pa. Super. 208). Since in
gambling it is inherent that something of value be hazarded for a chance to gain a larger amount, it
follows ineluctably that where no consideration is paid by the contestant to participate, the reason behind
the law can hardly be said to obtain. If, as it has been held —

Gratuitous distribution of property by lot or chance does not constitute "lottery", if it is not resorted
to as a device to evade the law and no consideration is derived, directly or indirectly, from the
party receiving the chance, gambling spirit not being cultivated or stimulated thereby. City of
Roswell vs. Jones, 67 P. 2d., 286, 41 N.M., 258." (25 Words and Phrases, perm. ed., p. 695,
emphasis supplied).

we find no obstacle in saying the same respecting a gift enterprise. In the end, we are persuaded to hold
that, under the prohibitive provisions of the Postal Law which we have heretofore examined, gift
enterprises and similar schemes therein contemplated are condemnable only if, like lotteries, they involve
the element of consideration. Finding none in the contest here in question, we rule that the appellee may
not be denied the use of the mails for purposes thereof.

Recapitulating, we hold that the petition herein states a sufficient cause of action for declaratory relief,
and that the "Caltex Hooded Pump Contest" as described in the rules submitted by the appellee does not
transgress the provisions of the Postal Law.

ACCORDINGLY, the judgment appealed from is affirmed. No costs.


G.R. No. L-30061 February 27, 1974

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellees,


vs.
JOSE JABINAL Y CARMEN, defendant-appellant.

Office of the Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar and Solicitor Antonio M. Martinez for plaintiff-
appellee.

Pedro Panganiban y Tolentino for defendant-appellant.

ANTONIO, J.:p

Appeal from the judgment of the Municipal Court of Batangas (provincial capital), Batangas, in Criminal Case No. 889, finding the accused
guilty of the crime of Illegal Possession of Firearm and Ammunition and sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from one
(1) year and one (1) day to two (2) years imprisonment, with the accessories provided by law, which raises in issue the validity of his
conviction based on a retroactive application of Our ruling in People v. Mapa.1

The complaint filed against the accused reads:

That on or about 9:00 o'clock, p.m., the 5th day of September, 1964, in the
poblacion, Municipality of Batangas, Province of Batangas, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a person not
authorized by law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously keep in his
possession, custody and direct control a revolver Cal. .22, RG8 German Made with
one (1) live ammunition and four (4) empty shells without first securing the necessary
permit or license to possess the same.

At the arraignment on September 11, 1964, the accused entered a plea of not guilty, after which trial
was accordingly held.

The accused admitted that on September 5, 1964, he was in possession of the revolver and the
ammunition described in the complaint, without the requisite license or permit. He, however, claimed
to be entitled to exoneration because, although he had no license or permit, he had an appointment
as Secret Agent from the Provincial Governor of Batangas and an appointment as Confidential
Agent from the PC Provincial Commander, and the said appointments expressly carried with them
the authority to possess and carry the firearm in question.

Indeed, the accused had appointments from the above-mentioned officials as claimed by him. His
appointment from Governor Feliciano Leviste, dated December 10, 1962, reads:

Reposing special trust and confidence in your civic spirit, and trusting that you will be
an effective agent in the detection of crimes and in the preservation of peace and
order in the province of Batangas, especially with respect to the suppression of
trafficking in explosives, jueteng, illegal cockfighting, cattle rustling, robbery and the
detection of unlicensed firearms, you are hereby appointed a SECRET AGENT of the
undersigned, the appointment to take effect immediately, or as soon as you have
qualified for the position. As such Secret Agent, your duties shall be those generally
of a peace officer and particularly to help in the preservation of peace and order in
this province and to make reports thereon to me once or twice a month. It should be
clearly understood that any abuse of authority on your part shall be considered
sufficient ground for the automatic cancellation of your appointment and immediate
separation from the service. In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court in
G.R. No. L-12088 dated December 23, 1959, you will have the right to bear a
firearm, particularly described below, for use in connection with the performance of
your duties.

By virtue hereof, you may qualify and enter upon the performance of your duties by
taking your oath of office and filing the original thereof with us.

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FIREARM AUTHORIZED TO CARRY:

Kind: — ROHM-Revolver
Make: — German

SN: — 64

Cal:— .22

On March 15, 1964, the accused was also appointed by the PC Provincial Commander of Batangas
as Confidential Agent with duties to furnish information regarding smuggling activities, wanted
persons, loose firearms, subversives and other similar subjects that might affect the peace and order
condition in Batangas province, and in connection with these duties he was temporarily authorized to
possess a ROHM revolver, Cal. .22 RG-8 SN-64, for his personal protection while in the
performance of his duties.

The accused contended before the court a quo that in view of his above-mentioned appointments as
Secret Agent and Confidential Agent, with authority to possess the firearm subject matter of the
prosecution, he was entitled to acquittal on the basis of the Supreme Court's decision in People vs.
Macarandang2 and People vs. Lucero.3 The trial court, while conceding on the basis of the evidence
of record the accused had really been appointed Secret Agent and Confidential Agent by the
Provincial Governor and the PC Provincial Commander of Batangas, respectively, with authority to
possess and carry the firearm described in the complaint, nevertheless held the accused in its
decision dated December 27, 1968, criminally liable for illegal possession of a firearm and
ammunition on the ground that the rulings of the Supreme Court in the cases
of Macarandang and Lucero were reversed and abandoned in People vs. Mapa, supra. The court
considered as mitigating circumstances the appointments of the accused as Secret Agent and
Confidential Agent.

Let us advert to Our decisions in People v. Macarandang, supra, People v. Lucero,


supra, and People v. Mapa, supra. In Macarandang, We reversed the trial court's judgment of
conviction against the accused because it was shown that at the time he was found to possess a
certain firearm and ammunition without license or permit, he had an appointment from the Provincial
Governor as Secret Agent to assist in the maintenance of peace and order and in the detection of
crimes, with authority to hold and carry the said firearm and ammunition. We therefore held that
while it is true that the Governor has no authority to issue any firearm license or permit,
nevertheless, section 879 of the Revised Administrative Code provides that "peace officers" are
exempted from the requirements relating to the issuance of license to possess firearms; and
Macarandang's appointment as Secret Agent to assist in the maintenance of peace and order and
detection of crimes, sufficiently placed him in the category of a "peace officer" equivalent even to a
member of the municipal police who under section 879 of the Revised Administrative Code are
exempted from the requirements relating to the issuance of license to possess firearms. In Lucero,
We held that under the circumstances of the case, the granting of the temporary use of the firearm to
the accused was a necessary means to carry out the lawful purpose of the batallion commander to
effect the capture of a Huk leader. In Mapa, expressly abandoning the doctrine in Macarandang, and
by implication, that in Lucero, We sustained the judgment of conviction on the following ground:

The law is explicit that except as thereafter specifically allowed, "it shall be unlawful
for any person to ... possess any firearm, detached parts of firearms or ammunition
therefor, or any instrument or implement used or intended to be used in the
manufacture of firearms, parts of firearms, or ammunition." (Sec. 878, as amended
by Republic Act No. 4, Revised Administrative Code.) The next section provides that
"firearms and ammunition regularly and lawfully issued to officers, soldiers, sailors, or
marines [of the Armed Forces of the Philippines], the Philippine Constabulary, guards
in the employment of the Bureau of Prisons, municipal police, provincial governors,
lieutenant governors, provincial treasurers, municipal treasurers, municipal mayors,
and guards of provincial prisoners and jails," are not covered "when such firearms
are in possession of such officials and public servants for use in the performance of
their official duties." (Sec. 879, Revised Administrative Code.)

The law cannot be any clearer. No provision is made for a secret agent. As such he
is not exempt. ... .

It will be noted that when appellant was appointed Secret Agent by the Provincial Government in
1962, and Confidential Agent by the Provincial Commander in 1964, the prevailing doctrine on the
matter was that laid down by Us in People v. Macarandang (1959) and People v. Lucero (1958). Our
decision in People v. Mapa reversing the aforesaid doctrine came only in 1967. The sole question in
this appeal is: Should appellant be acquitted on the basis of Our rulings in Macarandang and Lucero,
or should his conviction stand in view of the complete reversal of
the Macarandang and Lucero doctrine in Mapa? The Solicitor General is of the first view, and he
accordingly recommends reversal of the appealed judgment.

Decisions of this Court, although in themselves not laws, are nevertheless evidence of what the laws
mean, and this is the reason why under Article 8 of the New Civil Code "Judicial decisions applying
or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system ... ." The
interpretation upon a law by this Court constitutes, in a way, a part of the law as of the date that law
originally passed, since this Court's construction merely establishes the contemporaneous legislative
intent that law thus construed intends to effectuate. The settled rule supported by numerous
authorities is a restatement of legal maxim "legisinterpretatiolegis vim obtinet" — the interpretation
placed upon the written law by a competent court has the force of law. The doctrine laid down
in Lucero and Macarandang was part of the jurisprudence, hence of the law, of the land, at the time
appellant was found in possession of the firearm in question and when he arraigned by the trial
court. It is true that the doctrine was overruled in the Mapa case in 1967, but when a doctrine of this
Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively,
and should not apply to parties who had relied on the old doctrine and acted on the faith thereof.
This is especially true in the construction and application of criminal laws, where it is necessary that
the punishability of an act be reasonably foreseen for the guidance of society.

It follows, therefore, that considering that appellant conferred his appointments as Secret Agent and
Confidential Agent and authorized to possess a firearm pursuant to the prevailing doctrine
enunciated in Macarandang and Lucero, under which no criminal liability would attach to his
possession of said firearm in spite of the absence of a license and permit therefor, appellant must be
absolved. Certainly, appellant may not be punished for an act which at the time it was done was held
not to be punishable.

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed, and appellant is acquitted, with
costs de oficio.

A.M. No. 53-MJ January 31, 1974


LOURDES CORPUS, complainant,
vs.
MUNICIPAL JUDGE CIPRIANO P. CABALUNA, JR., ALIMODIAN, ILOILO, respondent.

MUÑOZ PALMA, J.: 1äwphï1.ñ ët

Sometime on August 26, 1953, Lourdes Corpus and several, others filed with the Court of
First Instance of Iloilo a complaint against Tiburcia Brabanco and Felix Amijana docketed as
civil case No. 2843 concerning the ownership of two parcels of land located in Barrio Bugang,
Municipality of Alimodian, Province of Iloilo. In a decision dated September 5, 1955, the Court
of First Instance of Iloilo rendered judgment declaring the plaintiffs true owners of the parcels
of land described in the complaint and ordering the defendants to vacate the same. These
case was appealed to the Court of Appeals by the defendants and on February 26, 1963, a
judgment was rendered which affirmed the decision of the trial court.1

In the meantime, the Municipal Judge of Alimodian, Iloilo, Mr. Cipriano P. Cabaluna, Jr., acting as
Cadastral Judge, heard several cadastral cases, one of which was Cadastral Case No. N-11, L.R.C.
Cadastral Record No. N-387 of the Alimodian Cadastre, which involved a parcel of land described as
cadastral lot 1762, with Adriano Camarista as claimant. In the course of the hearing of the case,
Adriano Camarista executed a deed of sale in favor of Procopio Cabalfin and the document was
ratified by Judge Cabaluna, Jr. After the hearing, cadastral lot 1762 was adjudicated to spouses
Procopio and Cleofe Cabalfin on July 30, 1963.2

On March 4, 1964, Lourdes Corpus and her co-plaintiffs in civil case 2843 filed in the cadastral case
a petition to set aside the decision rendered therein and to order another hearing on the ground that
cadastral lot 1762 is the same parcel of land litigated in civil case 2843 which was awarded to them
by final judgment of the Court of Appeals. Upon receipt of this petition, Judge Cabaluna, Jr. inhibited
himself and forwarded the records to the Court of First Instance of Iloilo for a hearing on the merits.3

Lourdes Corpus likewise filed on April 26, 1966, a complaint with the Court of First Instance of Iloilo
against spouses Procopio and Cleofe Cabalfin for annulment of the aforementioned decision
rendered in the cadastral case4 and there the trial court found that cadastral lot 1762 and the land
litigated in civil case 2843 were indeed one and the same.5

Not contented with having filed civil case 6998, Lourdes Corpus charged Judge Cabaluna, Jr. before
the Secretary of Justice with having committed "gross fraud" in that knowing, of the pendency of the
above-mentioned civil case before the Court of Appeals, said Judge nonetheless ratified a deed of
sale of cadastral lot 1762 in favor of Procopio Cabalfin and awarded said lot to the latter.6 The
Secretary of Justice required respondent Judge to answer the complaint after which the record was
forwarded to Judge Sancho Y. Inserto of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo for investigation, report
and recommendation. On May 24, 1972, Judge Inserts submitted his report and recommended the
exoneration of respondent for lack of evidence to substantiate the charge.7 The office of the
Secretary of Justice concurs with the recommendation.8

For the charge of "gross fraud" to prosper there is need of clear and convincing evidence that
respondent knew that one of the parcels involved in civil case 2843 and adjudicated to
complainant was the same property which he awarded to spouses Cabalfin in the cadastral
proceeding; such evidence is, however, wanting in the record of this case.

The only possible basis for complainant's accusation was her testimony that sometime in 1961 she
met respondent who inquired about the status or "development" of the civil case and she informed
him that the case was still pending before the Court of Appeals.9 Assuming that the conversation
occurred, complainant failed, however, to bring out that respondent was cognizant of the relation of
the property involved in the civil case to the land applied for in the cadastral proceeding. The
complaint in the civil case did not identify any of the two parcels described therein as cadastral lot
1762 10 which was the identification used in the cadastral proceeding. As a matter of fact,
complainant herself was unaware in 1961 that cadastral lot 1762 claimed by Adriano Camarista in
the cadastral proceeding was the same land adjudicated to her and her co-plaintiffs in the civil case,
and for that reason she did not oppose the claim of Camarista not until she filed her answer in the
cadastral proceeding on February 6, 1964, by which time, however, the land had already been
awarded to spouses Procopio Cabalfin and Cleofe C. Cabalfin as vendees of the applicant. 11
The acts of respondent in ratifying the deed of sale of lot 1762 executed by Adriano Camarista in
favor of spouses Cabalfin and adjudicating said lot to the latter as vendees thereof are not in
themselves "fraudulent", to use the word of complainant, in the absence of any showing that
respondent connived with the claimant Adriano Camarista and/or spouses Cabalfin in causing the
approval of the latter's claim over the land in question to the prejudice of the rights of complainant.

Fraud is serious charge which cannot be lightly inferred from allegations or circumstances
surrounding a particular situation, but must be supported by clear and convincing proof. 12

WHEREFORE, We exonerate respondent and dismiss the charge against him.

G.R. No. L-23623 June 30, 1977


ACTING COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, petitioner,
vs.
MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY and COURT OF TAX APPEALS, respondents.

Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz Assistant Solicitor General Felicisimo R. Rosete and Solicitor
Alejandro B. Afurong for petitioner.

Ross, Selph Salcedo, Del Rosario Bito & Misa for private respondent.

FERNANDO, J.:

The reversal by respondent Court of Tax Appeals of a determination by the then Acting
Commissioner of Customs, the late Norberto Romualdez, Jr., that private respondent Manila Electric
Company was not exempt from the payment of the special import tax under Republic Act No.
1394 1 for shipment to it of insulating oil, respondent Court entertaining the contrary view 2 led to this
petition for review. The contention pressed in support of the petition is that as a tax exemption is to be
construed strictly, the decision of the respondent Court, which assumed that insulating oil can be
considered as insulators must be reversed and set aside. The appealed decision of respondent Court in
the light of applicable authorities supplies the best refutation of such contention. It must be sustained.

The appealed decision 3 set forth that petitioner Manila Electric Co., nor private respondent, in appealing
from a determination by the then Acting Commissioner of Customs, now petitioner, "claims that it is
exempt from the special import tax not only by virtue of Section 6 of Republic Act No. 1394, which
exempts from said tax equipment and spare parts for use in industries, but also under Paragraph 9, Part
Two, of its franchise, which expressly exempts is insulators from all taxes of whatever kind and nature. 4 It
then made reference to the franchise of private respondent Manila Electric Co.: "Par. 9. The grantee shall
be liable to pay the same taxes upon its real estate, buildings, plant (not including poles, wires,
transformers, and insulators), machinery and personal property as other persons are or may be hereafter
required by law to pay. In consideration of Part Two of the franchise herein granted, to wit, the right to
build and maintain in the City of Manila and its suburbs a plant for the conveying and furnishing of electric
current for light, heat, and power, and to charge for the same, the grantee shall pay to the City of Manila
two and one-half per centum of the gross earnings received from the business under this franchise in the
city and its suburbs: ... and shall be in lieu of all taxes and assessments of whatsoever nature, and by
whatsoever authority upon the privileges, earnings, income, franchise, and poles, wires, transformers,
and insulators of the grantee, from which taxes and assessments the grantee is hereby expressly
exempted." 5 It noted that the above "exempts it from all taxes of whatever nature, and by whatever
authority, with respect to its insulators in consideration for the payment of the percentage tax on its gross
earnings." 6

The question then, according to such decision of respondent Court is: "Does the insulating oil in question
come within the meaning of the term 'insulator '?" 7 Then it went on: "insulating oils are mineral oils of high
di-electrics strength and high flash point employed in circuit breakers, switches, transformers and other
electric apparatus. An oil with a flash point of 285 º F and fire point of 310 º F is considered safe. A clean,
well- refined oil will have a minimum dielectric of 22,00 volts, but the presence of a slow as 0.01% water
will reduce the di-electric strength drastically. The insulating oils, therefore, cannot be stored for long
periods because of the danger of absorbing moisture. Impurities such as acids or alkalies also detract
from the strength of the oil. Since insulating oils are used for cooling as well as for insulating, the viscosity
should be low enough for free circulation, and they should not gum. (Materials Handbook by George J.
Brady, 8th Edition 1956, pp. 421-423.) ... ." 8

The last portion of the appealed decision explained why the determination of the Acting Commissioner of
Customs must be reversed: "There is no question that insulating oils of the type imported by petitioner are
'used for cooling as well as for insulating,' and when used in oil circuit breakers, they are 'required to
maintain insulation between the contacts inside the tank and the tank itself.' ... The decision appealed
from not being in accordance with law, the same is hereby reversed. Respondent is ordered to refund to
petitioner the sum of P995.00 within thirty days from the date this decision becomes final, without
pronouncement as to costs." 9 It was therein made clear that private respondent was not liable for the
payment of the special import tax under Republic Act No. 1394.

As noted at the outset, the decision speaks for itself. It cannot be stigmatized as suffering from any
flaw that would call for its reversal.
1. It is to be admitted, as contended by petitioner, that this Court is committed to the principle that an
exemption from taxation must be justified by words too clear to be misread. As set forth in
Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Guerrero: 10 "From 1906, in Catholic Church v. Hastings to 1966,
in Esso Standard Eastern, Inc. v. Acting Commissioner of Customs, it has been the constant and uniform
holding that exemption from taxation is not favored and is never presumed, so that if granted it must be
strictly construed against the taxpayer. Affirmatively put, the law frowns on exemption from taxation,
hence, an exempting provision should be construed strictissimi juris." 11 Such a ruling was reaffirmed in
subsequent decisions. 12 It does not mean, however, that petitioner should prevail, for as was
unequivocally set forth in the leading ease of Republic Flour Mills v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue, 13 this Court speaking through Justice J.B.L. Reyes. "It is true that in the construction of tax
statutes tax exemptions (and deductions are of this nature) are not favored in the law, and are
construed strictissimi juris against the taxpayer. However, it is equally a recognized principle that where
the provision of the law is clear and unambiguous, so that there is no occasion for the court's seeking the
legislative intent, the law must be taken as it is, devoid of judicial addition or subtraction. In this ease, we
find the provision of Section 186-A -whenever a tax free product is utilized, ... — all encompassing to
comprehend tax-free raw materials, even if imported. Where the law provided no qualification for the
granting of the privilege, the court is not at liberty to supply any. 14 That is what was done by respondent
Court of Tax Appeals. It showed fealty to this equally well. settled doctrine. It construed the statutory
provision as it is written. It is precluded, in the language of ;the Republic Flour Mills opinion, considering
that the law is clear and ambiguous, to look further for any legislative intent, as "the law must be taken as
it is, devoid of judicial addition or subtraction." 15 If there is an extended discussion of this point, it is due
solely to the emphasis placed on the matter by petitioner.

2. Moreover, the decision of respondent Court under review finds support in Balbas v.
Domingo. 16 Thus: "No other conclusion is possible in view of the well-settled principle that this Court is
bound by the finding of facts of the Court of Tax Appeals, only questions of law being open to it for
determination. As stated in another decision, 'only errors of law, and not rulings on the weight of
evidence, are reviewable by this Court.' The facts then as above ascertained cannot be disturbed. In our
latest decision, there is a categorical assertion that where the question is one of fact, it is no longer
reviewable. 17 Such a doctrine is not of limited application. It is a recognition of the wide discretion enjoyed
by the Court of Tax Appeals in construing tax statutes. So it was categorically held in Alhambra Cigar and
Cigarette Manufacturing Co. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue: 18 "Nor as a matter of principle is it
advisable for this Court to set aside the conclusion reached by an agency such as the Court of Tax
Appeals which is, by the very nature of its function, dedicated exclusively to the study and consideration
of tax problems and has necessarily developed an expertice on the subject, unless, as did not happen
here, there has been an abuse or improvident exercise of its authority. 19 That same approach was
reflected in Reyes v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 20 Chu Hoi Horn v. Court of Tax Appeals, 21 Vi
Ve Chemical Products v. Commissioner of Customs, 22 and Nasiad v. Court of Tax Appeals. 23 The Vi Ve
decision has some relevance. There the stand of the state that the Court of Tax Appeals could rightfully
determine that '"priopionic glycine" is the same as glutamic acid" 24 was considered as well within the
authority of respondent Court. It would be an affront to the sense of fairness and of justice if in another
case, respondent Court, in the exercise of its discretionary authority, after determining that insulating oil
comes within the term insulator, is not be upheld.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is dismissed. No costs.


G.R. No. L-38161 March 29, 1974

JUAN BELLO, FILOMENA C. BELLO, petitioners,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, * HON. FRANCISCO LLAMAS, as Judge of Pasay City Court, and REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Martinez and Martinez for petitioners.

Office of the Solicitor General, Dept. of Justice, for respondent.

TEEHANKEE, J.:p

The Court holds that the court of first instance of Pasay City in an appeal erroneously taken to it from the city court's judgment convicting
petitioners-accused of the charge of estafa within the concurrent original jurisdiction of said courts should grant petitioners-accused's timely
petition for certifying their appeal to the Court of Appeals as the proper court rather than peremptorily grant the prosecution's motion for
dismissal of the appeal and order the remand of the case to the city court for execution of judgment. The appellate court's decision denying
the relief sought by petitioners of compelling the elevation of their appeal to it as the proper court simply because of the non-impleader of the
court of first instance as a nominal party notwithstanding that it was duly represented by the respondent People as the real party in interest
through the Solicitor General who expressed no objection to the setting aside of the court of first instance's dismissal order is set aside as
sacrificing substance to form and subordinating substantial justice to a mere matter of procedural technicality.

Petitioners spouses were charged on August 25, 1970 for estafa before the City Court of Pasay1 for
allegedly having misappropriated a lady's ring with a value of P1,000.00 received by them from Atty.
Prudencio de Guzman for sale on commission basis. After trial, they were convicted and sentenced
under respondent city court's decision of February 26, 1971 to six (6) months and one (1) day
of prision correccional and to indemnify the offended party in the sum of P1,000.00 with costs of suit.

Petitioners filed their notice of appeal of the adverse judgment to the Court of First Instance of Pasay
City, but the prosecution filed a "petition to dismiss appeal" on the ground that since the case was
within the concurrent jurisdiction of the city court and the court of first instance and the trial in the city
court had been duly recorded, the appeal should have been taken directly to the Court of Appeals as
provided by section 87 of the Judiciary Act, Republic Act 296, as amended.2

Petitioners opposed the prosecution's dismissal motion and invoking the analogous provision of Rule
50, section 3 directing that the Court of Appeals in cases erroneously brought to it "shall not dismiss
the appeal, but shall certify the case to the proper court, with a specific and clear statement of the
grounds therefor," prayed of the court of first instance if it should find the appeal to have been
wrongly brought before it, to certify the same "to either the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court."3

The court of first instance per its order of October 29, 1971 did find that the appeal should have been
taken directly to the Court of Appeals but ordered the dismissal of the appeal and remand of the
records to the city court "for execution of judgment."4

Petitioners aver that they were not notified of the order of dismissal of their appeal and learned of it
only when they were called by the Pasay city court for execution of the judgment of conviction.
Hence, they filed with the city court their "motion to elevate appeal to Court of Appeals" of December
7, 1971 stating that "through inadvertence and/or excusable neglect" they had erroneously filed a
notice of appeal to the court of first instance instead of to the Court of Appeals as the proper court
and prayed that the city court, following precedents of this Court remanding appeals before it to the
proper court instead of dismissing appeals, "elevate the records ... to the Court of Appeals for proper
review."5

Respondent city court per its order of December 11, 1971 denied petitioners' motion "for having
been erroneously addressed to this court" instead of to the court of first instance6 ignoring petitioners'
predicament that the court of first instance had already turned them down and ordered the dismissal
of their appeal without notice to them and that as a consequence it was poised to execute its
judgment of conviction against them.

Petitioners spouses then filed on January 14, 1972 their petition for prohibition and mandamus
against the People and respondent city court to prohibit the execution of the judgment and to compel
respondent city court to elevate their appeal to the Court of Appeals.7
The Solicitor General filed respondents' answer to the petition manifesting that "we shall not
interpose any objection whichever view point is adopted by this Honorable Court in resolving the two
apparently conflicting or clashing principles of law — finality of judicial decision or equity in judicial
decision," after observing that "(F)rom the view point of equity considering that petitioners' right to
appeal lapsed or was lost through the fault, though not excusable, of their counsel, and compounded
by the alleged error of judgment committed by the Court of First Instance to which the appeal was
erroneously brought, we sympathize with petitioners' plight."

The Court of Appeals, however, per its decision of December 17, 1973 dismissed the petition, after
finding that the city court's judgment was directly appealable to it. Although recognizing that the "CFI
instead of dismissing appeal, could have in the exercise of its inherent powers directed appeal to be
endorsed to this Court of Appeals" it held that since petitioners did not implead the court of first
instance as "principal party respondent" it could not "grant any relief at all even on the assumption
that petitioners can be said to deserve some equities," as follows:

... therefore, when they appealed to CFI, that was procedurally wrong; of course, CFI
instead of dismissing appeal, could have in the exercise of its inherent powers,
directed appeal to be endorsed to this Court of Appeals, but when instead of doing
so, it dismissed, it also had power to do so, and correction of it is difficult to see to be
remediable by mandamus, but ignoring this altogether, what this Court finds is that
since it was CFI that dismissed the appeal and according to petitioners, wrongly, it
must follow that if CFI was wrong, this plea for mandamus to compel it to act
"correctly" should have been directed against said CFI, it should have been the CFI,
Hon. Francisco de la Rosa, who should have been made under Rule 65 Sec. 3,
herein principal party respondent, but he was not, this being the situation, this Court
can not see how it can grant any relief at all even on the assumption that petitioners
can be said to deserve some equities.

Petitioners moved for reconsideration on January 2, 19748 and for elevation of their appeal to the
Court of Appeals, stressing the merits of their appeal and of their defense to the charge, viz, that the
offended party Atty. de Guzman had represented their son who was a suspect with two others for
robbery before the Pasay city fiscal's office and upon dismissal of the charge demanded payment
from them as parents the sum of P1,000.00 as attorney's fees, and since they had no money to pay
him required them to sign the receipt dated June 25, 1970 in his favor for an imaginary lady's ring to
sell "on commission basis" for P1,000.00 (their "commission" to be any overprice) to assure payment
of the sum by the stated deadline of July 9, 1970 under penalty, of criminal prosecution for estafa;
and that they had then newly met Atty. de Guzman, whose services had been secured not by them
but by the family of one of the other suspects, implying the incredibility of his entrusting a lady's ring
to both of them (husband and wife) for sale on commission basis when his only association with
them was his demand of payment of his P1,000-attorney's fee for having represented their son-
suspect.

Reconsideration having been denied by the appellate court "for lack of sufficient merit," petitioners
filed the present petition for review.9 The Court required the Solicitor General's comment on behalf of
the People of the Philippines, and upon receipt thereof resolved to consider the case as a special
civil action with such comment as answer and the case submitted for decision in the interest of
justice and speedy adjudication.

The Court finds merits in the petition and holds that the court of first instance acted with grave abuse
of discretion in dismissing petitioners-accused's appeal which was erroneously brought to it and
ordering remand of the records to the city court for execution of judgment instead of certifying and
endorsing the appeal to the Court of Appeals as the proper court as timely prayed for by petitioners-
accused in their opposition to the prosecution's motion to dismiss appeal. We find that the Court of
Appeals also acted with grave abuse of discretion in dismissing their petition instead of setting aside
the challenged order of the court of first instance peremptorily dismissing the appeal pursuant to
which respondent city court was poised to execute its judgment of conviction simply because the
court of first instance which is but a nominal party had not been impleaded as party respondent in
disregard of the substantive fact that the People as plaintiff and the real party in interest was duly
impleaded as principal party respondent and was represented in the proceedings by the Solicitor
General.

The appellate court while recognizing that petitioners' appeal taken to the court of first instance was
"procedurally wrong" and that the court of first instance "in the exercise of its inherent powers could
have certified the appeal to it as the proper court instead of dismissing the appeal, gravely erred in
holding that it could not "correct" the court of first instance's "wrong action" and grant the relief
sought of having the appeal elevated to it since said court's presiding judge "who should have been-
made under Rule 65, sec. 3 10 herein principal party respondent, but he was not." The Court has
always stressed as in Torre vs. Ericta 11 that a respondent judge is "merely a nominal party" in
special civil actions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus and that he "is not a person "in interest"
within the purview (of Rule 65, section 5 12)" and "accordingly, he has no standing or authority to
appeal from or seek a review on certiorari" of an adverse decision of the appellate court setting aside
his dismissal of a party's appeal and issuing the writ of mandamus for him to allow the appeal.

It is readily seen from the cited Rule that the court of first instance or presiding judge who issued the
challenged order or decision is but a nominal party, the real parties in interest being "the person or
persons interested in sustaining the proceedings in the court" and who are charged with the duty of
appearing and defending the challenged act both "in their own behalf and in behalf of the court or
judge affected by the proceedings." Hence, theformal impleading of the court of first instance which
issued the challenged order of dismissal was not indispensable and could be "overlooked in the
interest of speedy adjudication." 13

Since the real party in interest, the People as plaintiff in the criminal proceeding against petitioners-
accused was duly impleaded and represented by the Solicitor General to defend the proceedings in
the court of first instance and had expressed no objection to the appellate court's setting aside of the
court of first instance's dismissal order, in the interest of justice and equity the appellate court's act of
dismissing the petition and denying the relief sought of endorsing the appeal to the proper court
simply because of the non impleader of the court of first instance as a nominal party was tantamount
to sacrificing substance to form and to subordinating substantial justice to a mere matter of
procedural technicality. The procedural infirmity of petitioners mis-directing their appeal to the court
of first instance rather than to the Court of Appeals, which they had timely sought to correct in the
court of first instance itself by asking that court to certify the appeal to the Court of Appeals as the
proper court, should not be over-magnified as to totally deprive them of their substantial right of
appeal and leave them without any remedy.

The Court therefore grants herein the relief denied by respondent appellate court of mandamus to
compel respondent city court to elevate petitioners' appeal to the Court of Appeals as the proper
court as being within the context and spirit of Rule 50, section 3, providing for certification to the
proper court by the Court of Appeals of appealed cases erroneously brought to it, 14 particularly
where petitioners-accused have shown prima facie (and without this Court prejudging the merits of
their appeal) that they have a valid cause for pursuing in good faith their appeal (as against a
manifestly dilatory or frivolous appeal) and to have a higher court appreciate their evidence in
support of their defense that they were prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment (for estafa) for
failure to pay a purely civil indebtedness (the attorney's fee owed by their son to the complainant).

Here, petitioners-accused's counsel, misdirected their appeal to the court of first instance, confronted
with the thorny question (which has confused many a practitioner) 15 of concurrent criminal
jurisdiction of city courts and municipal courts of provincial and sub-provincial capitals with courts of
first instance under sections 44 (f) and 87 (c) of the Judiciary Act where the appeal from the
municipal or city court's judgment should be taken directly to the Court of Appeals as held in Esperat
vs. Avila 16 as distinguished however from judgments of ordinary municipal courts in similar cases
within the concurrent jurisdiction of the courts of first instance where as held by this Court in People
vs. Valencia 17 the appeal should nevertheless be brought to the court of first instance which retains
its appellate jurisdiction under section 45 of the Judiciary Act.

It certainly was within the inherent power of the court of first instance in exercise of its power to
"control its process and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice" 18 to grant
petitioners-accused's timely plea to endorse their appeal to the Court of Appeals as the proper court
and within the context and spirit of Rule 50, section 3. In a mis-directed appeal to the Court of
Appeals of a case that pertains to the court of first instance's jurisdiction, the said Rule expressly
provides that the Court of Appeals "shall not dismiss the appeal but shall certify the case to the
proper court" viz, the court of first instance in the given example. There is no logical reason why in
all fairness and justice the court of first instance in a misdirected appeal to it should not be
likewise bound by the same rule and therefore enjoined not to dismiss the appeal but to certify the
case to the Court of Appeals as the proper court. The paucity of the language of the Rule and its
failure to expressly provide for such cases of misdirected appeals to the court of first instance (owing
possibly to the fact that at the time of the revision of the Rules of Court in 1963 section 87 (c) had
been newly amended under Republic Act 2613 approved on June 22, 1963 to enlarge the
jurisdiction of city courts and municipal courts of provincial capitals and provide for
their concurrent jurisdiction with the courts of first instance and direct appeal from their judgments in
such cases to the Court of Appeals) should not be a cause for unjustly depriving petitioners of their
substantial right of appeal.

This Court has in many cases involving the construction of statutes always cautioned
against "narrowly" interpreting a statute "as to defeat the purpose of the legislator" " 19 and stressed
that "it is of the essence of judicial duty to construe statutes so as to avoid such a deplorable result
(of injustice or absurdity)" 20 and that therefore "a literal interpretation is to be rejected if it would
be unjust or lead to absurd results". 21 In the construction of its own Rules of Court, this Court is all
the more so bound to liberally construe them to avoid injustice, discrimination and unfairness and to
supply the void — that is certainly within the spirit and purpose of the Rule to eliminate repugnancy
and inconsistency — by holding as it does now that courts of first instance are equally bound as the
higher courts not to dismiss misdirected appeals timely made but to certify them to the proper
appellate court.

ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the petition is hereby set aside and
in lieu thereof, judgment is hereby rendered granting the petition for prohibition against respondent
city court which is hereby enjoined from executing its judgment of conviction against petitioners-
accused and further commanding said city court to elevate petitioners' appeal from its judgment to
the Court of Appeals for the latter's disposition on the merits. No costs.
G.R. No. 124893 April 18, 1997

LYNETTE G. GARVIDA, petitioner,


vs.
FLORENCIO G. SALES, JR., THE HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ELECTION
OFFICER DIONISIO F. RIOS and PROVINCIAL SUPERVISOR NOLI PIPO, respondents.

PUNO, J.:

Petitioner Lynette G. Garvida seeks to annul and set aside the order dated May 2, 1996 of
respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc suspending her proclamation as the duly
elected Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay San Lorenzo, Municipality of Bangui,
Ilocos Norte.

The facts are undisputed. The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections nationwide was scheduled to
be held on May 6, 1996. On March 16, 1996, petitioner applied for registration as member and voter
of the Katipunan ng Kabataan of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The Board of
Election Tellers, however, denied her application on the ground that petitioner, who was then twenty-
one years and ten (10) months old, exceeded the age limit for membership in the Katipunan ng
Kabataan as laid down in Section 3 [b] of COMELEC Resolution No. 2824.

On April 2, 1996, petitioner filed a "Petition for Inclusion as Registered Kabataang Member and
Voter" with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Bangui-Pagudpud-Adams-Damalneg, Ilocos Norte. In a
decision dated April 18, 1996, the said court found petitioner qualified and ordered her registration
as member and voter in the Katipunan ng Kabataan. 1 The Board of Election Tellers appealed to the
Regional Trial Court, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. 2 The presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court,
however, inhibited himself from acting on the appeal due to his close association with petitioner. 3

On April 23, 1996, petitioner filed her certificate of candidacy for the position of Chairman,
Sangguniang Kabataan, Barangay San Lorenzo, Municipality of Bangui, Province of Ilocos Norte. In
a letter dated April 23, 1996, respondent Election Officer Dionisio F. Rios, per advice of Provincial
Election Supervisor Noli Pipo, 4 disapproved petitioner's certificate of candidacy again due to her
age. 5 Petitioner, however, appealed to COMELEC Regional Director Filemon A. Asperin who set
aside the order of respondents and allowed petitioner to run. 6

On May 2, 1996, respondent Rios issued a memorandum to petitioner informing her of her
ineligibility and giving her 24 hours to explain why her certificate of candidacy should not be
disapproved. 7 Earlier and without the knowledge of the COMELEC officials, private respondent
Florencio G. Sales, Jr., a rival candidate for Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan, filed with the
COMELEC en banc a "Petition of Denial and/or Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy" against
petitioner Garvida for falsely representing her age qualification in her certificate of candidacy. The
petition was sent by facsimile 8 and registered mail on April 29, 1996 to the Commission on Elections
National Office, Manila.

On May 2, 1996, the same day respondent Rios issued the memorandum to petitioner, the
COMELEC en bancissued an order directing the Board of Election Tellers and Board of Canvassers
of Barangay San Lorenzo to suspend the proclamation of petitioner in the event she won in the
election. The order reads as follows:

Acting on the Fax "Petition for Denial And/Or Cancellation of Certificate of


Candidacy" by petitioner Florencio G. Sales, Jr. against Lynette G. Garvida, received
on April 29, 1996, the pertinent allegations of which reads:

xxx xxx xxx

5. That the said respondent is disqualified to become a voter and a candidate for the
SK for the reason that she will be more than twenty-one (21) years of age on May 6,
1996; that she was born on June 11, 1974 as can be gleaned from her birth
certificate, copy of which is hereto attached and marked as Annex "A";
6. That in filing her certificate of candidacy as candidate for SK of Bgy. San Lorenzo,
Bangui, Ilocos Norte, she made material representation which is false and as such,
she is disqualified; that her certificate of candidacy should not be given due course
and that said candidacy must be cancelled;

xxx xxx xxx

the Commission, it appearing that the petition is meritorious, hereby DIRECTS the
Board of Election Tellers/Board of Canvassers of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui,
Ilocos Norte, to suspend the proclamation of Lynette G. Garvida in the event she
garners the highest number of votes for the position of Sangguniang Kabataan [sic].

Meantime, petitioner is hereby required to submit immediately ten (10) copies of his
petition and to pay the filing and legal research fees in the amount of P510.00.

SO ORDERED. 9

On May 6, 1996, election day, petitioner garnered 78 votes as against private respondent's votes of
76. 10 In accordance with the May 2, 1996 order of the COMELEC en banc, the Board of Election
Tellers did not proclaim petitioner as the winner. Hence, the instant petition for certiorari was filed on
May 27, 1996.

On June 2, 1996, however, the Board of Election Tellers proclaimed petitioner the winner for the
position of SK chairman, Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. 11 The proclamation was
"without prejudice to any further action by the Commission on Elections or any other interested
party." 12 On July 5, 1996, petitioner ran in the Pambayang Pederasyon ng mga Sangguniang
Kabataan for the municipality of Bangui, Ilocos Norte. She won as Auditor and was proclaimed one
of the elected officials of the Pederasyon. 13

Petitioner raises two (2) significant issues: the first concerns the jurisdiction of the COMELEC en
banc to act on the petition to deny or cancel her certificate of candidacy; the second, the cancellation
of her certificate of candidacy on the ground that she has exceeded the age requirement to run as
an elective official of the SK.

Section 532 (a) of the Local Government Code of 1991 provides that the conduct of the SK elections
is under the supervision of the COMELEC and shall be governed by the Omnibus Election
Code. 14 The Omnibus Election Code, in Section 78, Article IX, governs the procedure to deny due
course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy, viz:

Sec. 78.Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. — A


verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy
may be filed by any person exclusively on the ground that any material
representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false. The
petition may be filed at any time not later than twenty-five days from the time of filing
of the certificate of candidacy and shall be decided, after due notice and hearing, not
later than fifteen days before election.

In relation thereto, Rule 23 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides that a petition to
deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy for an elective office may be filed with
the Law Department of the COMELEC on the ground that the candidate has made a false
material representation in his certificate. The petition may be heard and evidence received
by any official designated by the COMELEC after which the case shall be decided by the
COMELEC itself. 15

Under the same Rules of Procedure, jurisdiction over a petition to cancel a certificate of candidacy
lies with the COMELEC sitting in Division, not en banc. Cases before a Division may only be
entertained by the COMELEC en banc when the required number of votes to reach a decision,
resolution, order or ruling is not obtained in the Division. Moreover, only motions to reconsider
decisions, resolutions, orders or rulings of the COMELEC in Division are resolved by the
COMELEC en banc. 16 It is therefore the COMELEC sitting in Divisions that can hear and decide
election cases. This is clear from Section 3 of the said Rules thus:
Sec. 3.The Commission Sitting in Divisions. — The Commission shall sit in two (2)
Divisions to hear and decide protests or petitions in ordinary actions, special actions,
special cases, provisional remedies, contempt and special proceedings except in
accreditation of citizens' arms of the Commission. 17

In the instant case, the COMELEC en banc did not refer the case to any of its Divisions upon receipt
of the petition. It therefore acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when it
entertained the petition and issued the order of May 2, 1996. 18

II

The COMELEC en banc also erred when it failed to note that the petition itself did not comply with
the formal requirements of pleadings under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. These requirements
are:

Sec. 1.Filing of Pleadings. — Every pleading, motion and other papers must be filed
in ten (10) legible copies. However, when there is more than one respondent or
protestee, the petitioner or protestant must file additional number of copies of the
petition or protest as there are additional respondents or protestees.

Sec. 2.How Filed. — The documents referred to in the immediately preceding section
must be filed directly with the proper Clerk of Court of the Commission personally, or,
unless otherwise provided in these Rules, by registered mail. In the latter case, the
date of mailing is the date of filing and the requirement as to the number of copies
must be complied with.

Sec. 3.Form of Pleadings, etc. — (a) All pleadings allowed by these Rules shall be
printed, mimeographed or typewritten on legal size bond paper and shall be in
English or Filipino.

xxx xxx xxx

Every pleading before the COMELEC must be printed, mimeographed or typewritten in legal
size bond paper and filed in at least ten (10) legible copies. Pleadings must be filed directly
with the proper Clerk of Court of the COMELEC personally, or, by registered mail.

In the instant case, the subject petition was not in proper form. Only two (2) copies of the petition
were filed with the COMELEC. 19 Also, the COMELEC en banc issued its Resolution on the basis of
the petition transmitted by facsimile, not by registered mail.

A facsimile or fax transmission is a process involving the transmission and reproduction of printed
and graphic matter by scanning an original copy, one elemental area at a time, and representing the
shade or tone of each area by a specified amount of electric current. 20 The current is transmitted as
a signal over regular telephone lines or via microwave relay and is used by the receiver to reproduce
an image of the elemental area in the proper position and the correct shade. 21 The receiver is
equipped with a stylus or other device that produces a printed record on paper referred to as a
facsimile. 22

Filing a pleading by facsimile transmission is not sanctioned by the COMELEC Rules of Procedure,
much less by the Rules of Court. A facsimile is not a genuine and authentic pleading. It is, at best, an
exact copy preserving all the marks of an original. 23 Without the original, there is no way of
determining on its face whether the facsimile pleading is genuine and authentic and was originally
signed by the party and his counsel. It may, in fact, be a sham pleading. The uncertainty of the
authenticity of a facsimile pleading should have restrained the COMELEC en banc from acting on
the petition and issuing the questioned order. The COMELEC en banc should have waited until it
received the petition filed by registered mail.

III

To write finis to the case at bar, we shall now resolve the issue of petitioner's age.

The Katipunan ng Kabataan was originally created by Presidential Decree No. 684 in 1975 as the
Kabataang Barangay, a barangay youth organization composed of all residents of the barangay who
were at least 15 years but less than 18 years of age. 24 The Kabataang Barangay sought to provide
its members a medium to express their views and opinions and participate in issues of
transcendental importance. 25 Its affairs were administered by a barangay youth chairman together
with six barangay youth leaders who were actual residents of the barangay and were at least 15
years but less than 18 years of age. 26 In 1983, Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, then the Local
Government Code, raised the maximum age of the Kabataang Barangay members from "less than
18 years of age" to "not more than 21 years of age."

The Local Government Code of 1991 changed the Kabataang Barangay into the Katipunan ng
Kabataan. It, however, retained the age limit of the members laid down in B.P. 337 at 15 but not
more than 21 years old. 27 The affairs of the Katipunan ng Kabataan are administered by the
Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) composed of a chairman and seven (7) members who are elected by
the Katipunan ng Kabataan. 28 The chairman automatically becomes ex-officio member of the
Sangguniang Barangay. 29 A member of the SK holds office for a term of three (3) years, unless
sooner removed for cause, or becomes permanently incapacitated, dies or resigns from office. 30

Membership in the Katipunan ng Kabataan is subject to specific qualifications laid down by the Local
Government Code of 1991, viz:

Sec. 424.Katipunan ng Kabataan. — The katipunan ng kabataan shall be composed


of all citizens of the Philippines actually residing in the barangay for at least six (6)
months, who are fifteen (15) but not more than twenty-one (21) years of age, and
who are duly registered in the list of the sangguniang kabataan or in the official
barangay list in the custody of the barangay secretary.

A member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan may become a candidate for the Sangguniang
Kabataan if he possesses the following qualifications:

Sec. 428.Qualifications. — An elective official of the sangguniang kabataan must be


a citizen of the Philippines, a qualified voter of the katipunan ng kabataan, a resident
of the barangay for at least one (1) year immediately prior to election, at least fifteen
(15) years but not more than twenty-one (21) years of age on the day of his election,
able to read and write Filipino, English, or the local dialect, and must not have been
convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.

Under Section 424 of the Local Government Code, a member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan must
be: (a) a Filipino citizen; (b) an actual resident of the barangay for at least six months; (c) 15 but not
more than 21 years of age; and (d) duly registered in the list of the Sangguniang Kabataan or in the
official barangay list. Section 428 of the Code requires that an elective official of the Sangguniang
Kabataan must be: (a) a Filipino citizen; (b) a qualified voter in the Katipunan ng Kabataan; (c) a
resident of the barangay at least one (1) year immediately preceding the election; (d) at least 15
years but not more than 21 years of age on the day of his election; (e) able to read and write; and (f)
must not have been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.

For the May 6, 1996 SK elections, the COMELEC interpreted Sections 424 and 428 of the Local
Government Code of 1991 in Resolution No. 2824 and defined how a member of the Katipunan ng
Kabataan becomes a qualified voter and an elective official. Thus:

Sec. 3.Qualifications of a voter. — To be qualified to register as a voter in the SK


elections, a person must be:

a) a citizen of the Philippines;

b) fifteen (15) but not more than twenty-one (21) years of age on election day that is,
he must have been born between May 6, 1975 and May 6, 1981, inclusive; and

c) a resident of the Philippines for at least one (1) year and actually residing in the
barangay wherein he proposes to vote for at least six (6) months immediately
preceding the elections.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 6.Qualifications of elective members. — An elective official of the SK must be:


a) a qualified voter;

b) a resident in the barangay for at least one (1) year immediately prior to the
elections; and

c) able to read and write Filipino or any Philippine language or dialect or English.

Cases involving the eligibility or qualification of candidates shall be decided by the


city/municipal Election Officer (EO) whose decision shall be final.

A member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan may be a qualified voter in the May 6, 1996 SK
elections if he is: (a) a Filipino citizen; (b) 15 but not more than 21 years of age on election
day, i.e., the voter must be born between May 6, 1975 and May 6, 1981, inclusive; and (c) a
resident of the Philippines for at least one (1) year and an actual resident of the barangay at
least six (6) months immediately preceding the elections. A candidate for the SK must: (a)
possess the foregoing qualifications of a voter; (b) be a resident in the barangay at least one
(1) year immediately preceding the elections; and (c) able to read and write.

Except for the question of age, petitioner has all the qualifications of a member and voter in the
Katipunan ng Kabataan and a candidate for the Sangguniang Kabataan. Petitioner 's age is
admittedly beyond the limit set in Section 3 [b] of COMELEC Resolution No. 2824. Petitioner,
however, argues that Section 3 [b] of Resolution No. 2824 is unlawful, ultra vires and beyond the
scope of Sections 424 and 428 of the Local Government Code of 1991. She contends that the Code
itself does not provide that the voter must be exactly 21 years of age on election day. She urges that
so long as she did not turn twenty-two (22) years old, she was still twenty-one years of age on
election day and therefore qualified as a member and voter in the Katipunan ng Kabataan and as
candidate for the SK elections.

A closer look at the Local Government Code will reveal a distinction between the maximum age of a
member in the Katipunan ng Kabataan and the maximum age of an elective SK official. Section 424
of the Code sets a member's maximum age at 21 years only. There is no further provision as to
when the member shall have turned 21 years of age. On the other hand, Section 428 provides that
the maximum age of an elective SK official is 21 years old "on the day of his election." The addition
of the phrase "or the day of his election" is an additional qualification. The member may be more
than 21 years of age on election day or on the day he registers as member of the Katipunan ng
Kabataan. The elective official, however, must not be more than 21 years old on the day of election.
The distinction is understandable considering that the Code itself provides more qualifications for an
elective SK official than for a member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan. Dissimilum dissimilis est
ratio. 31 The courts may distinguish when there are facts and circumstances showing that the
legislature intended a distinction or qualification. 32

The qualification that a voter in the SK elections must not be more than 21 years of age on the day
of the election is not provided in Section 424 of the Local Government Code of 1991. In fact the term
"qualified voter" appears only in COMELEC Resolution No. 2824. 33 Since a "qualified voter" is not
necessarily an elective official, then it may be assumed that a "qualified voter" is a "member of the
Katipunan ng Kabataan." Section 424 of the Code does not provide that the maximum age of a
member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan is determined on the day of the election. Section 3 [b] of
COMELEC Resolution No. 2824 is therefore ultra vires insofar as it sets the age limit of a voter for
the SK elections at exactly 21 years on the day of the election.

The provision that an elective official of the SK should not be more than 21 years of age on the day
of his election is very clear. The Local Government Code speaks of years, not months nor days.
When the law speaks of years, it is understood that years are of 365 days each. 34 One born on the
first day of the year is consequently deemed to be one year old on the 365th day after his birth —
the last day of the year. 35 In computing years, the first year is reached after completing the first 365
days. After the first 365th day, the first day of the second 365-day cycle begins. On the 365th day of
the second cycle, the person turns two years old. This cycle goes on and on in a lifetime. A person
turns 21 years old on the 365th day of his 21st 365-day cycle. This means on his 21st birthday, he
has completed the entire span of 21 365-day cycles. After this birthday, the 365-day cycle for his
22nd year begins. The day after the 365th day is the first day of the next 365-day cycle and he turns
22 years old on the 365th day.

The phrase "not more than 21 years of age" means not over 21 years, not beyond 21 years. It
means 21 365-day cycles. It does not mean 21 years and one or some days or a fraction of a year
because that would be more than 21 365-day cycles. "Not more than 21 years old" is not equivalent
to "less than 22 years old," contrary to petitioner's claims. The law does not state that the candidate
be less than 22 years on election day.

In P.D. 684, the law that created the Kabataang Barangay, the age qualification of a barangay youth
official was expressly stated as ". . . at least fifteen years of age or over but less than eighteen . .
." 36 This provision clearly states that the youth official must be at least 15 years old and may be 17
years and a fraction of a year but should not reach the age of eighteen years. When the Local
Government Code increased the age limit of members of the youth organization to 21 years, it did
not reenact the provision in such a way as to make the youth "at least 15 but less than 22 years old."
If the intention of the Code's framers was to include citizens less than 22 years old, they should have
stated so expressly instead of leaving the matter open to confusion and doubt. 37

Former Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, the sponsor and principal author of the Local Government
Code of 1991 declared that one of the reasons why the Katipunan ng Kabataan was created and the
Kabataang Barangay discontinued was because most, if not all, Kabataang Barangay leaders were
already over 21 years of age by the time President Aquino assumed power. 38 They were not the
"youth" anymore. The Local Government Code of 1991 fixed the maximum age limit at not more than
21 years 39 and the only exception is in the second paragraph of Section 423 which reads:

Sec. 423.Creation and Election. —

a) . . . ;

b) A sangguniang kabataan official who, during his term of office, shall have passed
the age of twenty-one (21) years shall be allowed to serve the remaining portion of
the term for which he was elected.

The general rule is that an elective official of the Sangguniang Kabataan must not be more
than 21 years of age on the day of his election. The only exception is when the official
reaches the age of 21 years during his incumbency. Section 423 [b] of the Code allows him
to serve the remaining portion of the term for which he was elected. According to Senator
Pimentel, the youth leader must have "been elected prior to his 21st birthday." 40 Conversely,
the SK official must not have turned 21 years old before his election. Reading Section 423 [b]
together with Section 428 of the Code, the latest date at which an SK elective official turns
21 years old is on the day of his election. The maximum age of a youth official must therefore
be exactly 21 years on election day. Section 3 [b] in relation to Section 6 [a] of COMELEC
Resolution No. 2824 is not ultra vires insofar as it fixes the maximum age of an elective SK
official on the day of his election.

In the case at bar, petitioner was born on June 11, 1974. On March 16, 1996, the day she registered
as voter for the May 6, 1996 SK elections, petitioner was twenty-one (21) years and nine (9) months
old. On the day of the elections, she was 21 years, 11 months and 5 days old. When she assumed
office on June 1, 1996, she was 21 years, 11 months and 20 days old and was merely ten (10) days
away from turning 22 years old. Petitioner may have qualified as a member of the Katipunan ng
Kabataan but definitely, petitioner was over the age limit for elective SK officials set by Section 428
of the Local Government Code and Sections 3 [b] and 6 of Comelec Resolution No. 2824. She was
ineligible to run as candidate for the May 6, 1996 Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The requirement that a candidate possess the age qualification is founded on public policy and if he
lacks the age on the day of the election, he can be declared ineligible. 41 In the same vein, if the
candidate is over the maximum age limit on the day of the election, he is ineligible. The fact that the
candidate was elected will not make the age requirement directory, nor will it validate his
election. 42 The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of
ineligibility. 43

The ineligibility of petitioner does not entitle private respondent, the candidate who obtained the
highest number of votes in the May 6, 1996 elections, to be declared elected. 44 A defeated candidate
cannot be deemed elected to the office. 45 Moreover, despite his claims, 46 private respondent has
failed to prove that the electorate themselves actually knew of petitioner's ineligibility and that they
maliciously voted for her with the intention of misapplying their franchises and throwing away their
votes for the benefit of her rival candidate. 47
Neither can this Court order that pursuant to Section 435 of the Local Government Code petitioner
should be succeeded by the Sangguniang Kabataan member who obtained the next highest number
of votes in the May 6, 1996 elections. 48 Section 435 applies when a Sangguniang Kabataan
Chairman "refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, 49 is convicted of a felony, voluntarily resigns,
dies, is permanently incapacitated, is removed from office, or has been absent without leave for
more than three (3) consecutive months."

The question of the age qualification is a question of eligibility.50 Being "eligible" means being "legally
qualified; capable of being legally chosen." 51 Ineligibility, on the other hand, refers to the lack of the
qualifications prescribed in the Constitution or the statutes for holding public office. 52 Ineligibility is
not one of the grounds enumerated in Section 435 for succession of the SK Chairman.

To avoid a hiatus in the office of SK Chairman, the Court deems it necessary to order that the
vacancy be filled by the SK member chosen by the incumbent SK members of Barangay San
Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte by simple majority from among themselves. The member chosen shall
assume the office of SK Chairman for the unexpired portion of the term, and shall discharge the
powers and duties, and enjoy the rights and privileges appurtenant to said office.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is dismissed and petitioner Lynette G. Garvida is declared
ineligible for being over the age qualification for candidacy in the May 6, 1996 elections of the
Sangguniang Kabataan, and is ordered to vacate her position as Chairman of the Sangguniang
Kabataan of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The Sangguniang Kabataan member
voted by simple majority by and from among the incumbent Sangguniang Kabataan members of
Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte shall assume the office of Sangguniang Kabataan
Chairman of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte for the unexpired portion of the term.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-19671 November 29, 1965

PASTOR B. TENCHAVEZ, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
VICENTA F. ESCAÑO, ET AL., defendants-appellees.

I. V. Binamira & F. B. Barria for plaintiff-appellant.


Jalandoni & Jarnir for defendants-appellees.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Direct appeal, on factual and legal questions, from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of
Cebu, in its Civil Case No. R-4177, denying the claim of the plaintiff-appellant, Pastor B. Tenchavez,
for legal separation and one million pesos in damages against his wife and parents-in-law, the
defendants-appellees, Vicente, Mamerto and Mena,1 all surnamed "Escaño," respectively.2

The facts, supported by the evidence of record, are the following:

Missing her late afternoon classes on 24 February 1948 in the University of San Carlos, Cebu City,
where she was then enrolled as a second year student of commerce, Vicenta Escaño, 27 years of
age (scion of a well-to-do and socially prominent Filipino family of Spanish ancestry and a "sheltered
colegiala"), exchanged marriage vows with Pastor Tenchavez, 32 years of age, an engineer, ex-
army officer and of undistinguished stock, without the knowledge of her parents, before a Catholic
chaplain, Lt. Moises Lavares, in the house of one Juan Alburo in the said city. The marriage was the
culmination of a previous love affair and was duly registered with the local civil register.

Vicenta's letters to Pastor, and his to her, before the marriage, indicate that the couple were deeply
in love. Together with a friend, Pacita Noel, their matchmaker and go-between, they had planned out
their marital future whereby Pacita would be the governess of their first-born; they started saving
money in a piggy bank. A few weeks before their secret marriage, their engagement was broken;
Vicenta returned the engagement ring and accepted another suitor, Joseling Lao. Her love for Pastor
beckoned; she pleaded for his return, and they reconciled. This time they planned to get married and
then elope. To facilitate the elopement, Vicenta had brought some of her clothes to the room of
Pacita Noel in St. Mary's Hall, which was their usual trysting place.

Although planned for the midnight following their marriage, the elopement did not, however,
materialize because when Vicente went back to her classes after the marriage, her mother, who got
wind of the intended nuptials, was already waiting for her at the college. Vicenta was taken home
where she admitted that she had already married Pastor. Mamerto and Mena Escaño were
surprised, because Pastor never asked for the hand of Vicente, and were disgusted because of the
great scandal that the clandestine marriage would provoke (t.s.n., vol. III, pp. 1105-06). The following
morning, the Escaño spouses sought priestly advice. Father Reynes suggested a recelebration to
validate what he believed to be an invalid marriage, from the standpoint of the Church, due to the
lack of authority from the Archbishop or the parish priest for the officiating chaplain to celebrate the
marriage. The recelebration did not take place, because on 26 February 1948 Mamerto Escaño was
handed by a maid, whose name he claims he does not remember, a letter purportedly coming from
San Carlos college students and disclosing an amorous relationship between Pastor Tenchavez and
Pacita Noel; Vicenta translated the letter to her father, and thereafter would not agree to a new
marriage. Vicenta and Pastor met that day in the house of Mrs. Pilar Mendezona. Thereafter,
Vicenta continued living with her parents while Pastor returned to his job in Manila. Her letter of 22
March 1948 (Exh. "M"), while still solicitous of her husband's welfare, was not as endearing as her
previous letters when their love was aflame.

Vicenta was bred in Catholic ways but is of a changeable disposition, and Pastor knew it. She fondly
accepted her being called a "jellyfish." She was not prevented by her parents from communicating
with Pastor (Exh. "1-Escaño"), but her letters became less frequent as the days passed. As of June,
1948 the newlyweds were already estranged (Exh. "2-Escaño"). Vicenta had gone to Jimenez,
Misamis Occidental, to escape from the scandal that her marriage stirred in Cebu society. There, a
lawyer filed for her a petition, drafted by then Senator Emmanuel Pelaez, to annul her marriage. She
did not sign the petition (Exh. "B-5"). The case was dismissed without prejudice because of her non-
appearance at the hearing (Exh. "B-4").

On 24 June 1950, without informing her husband, she applied for a passport, indicating in her
application that she was single, that her purpose was to study, and she was domiciled in Cebu City,
and that she intended to return after two years. The application was approved, and she left for the
United States. On 22 August 1950, she filed a verified complaint for divorce against the herein
plaintiff in the Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada in and for the County of Washoe,
on the ground of "extreme cruelty, entirely mental in character." On 21 October 1950, a decree of
divorce, "final and absolute", was issued in open court by the said tribunal.

In 1951 Mamerto and Mena Escaño filed a petition with the Archbishop of Cebu to annul their
daughter's marriage to Pastor (Exh. "D"). On 10 September 1954, Vicenta sought papal dispensation
of her marriage (Exh. "D"-2).

On 13 September 1954, Vicenta married an American, Russell Leo Moran, in Nevada. She now lives
with him in California, and, by him, has begotten children. She acquired American citizenship on 8
August 1958.

But on 30 July 1955, Tenchavez had initiated the proceedings at bar by a complaint in the Court of
First Instance of Cebu, and amended on 31 May 1956, against Vicenta F. Escaño, her parents,
Mamerto and Mena Escaño, whom he charged with having dissuaded and discouraged Vicenta from
joining her husband, and alienating her affections, and against the Roman Catholic Church, for
having, through its Diocesan Tribunal, decreed the annulment of the marriage, and asked for legal
separation and one million pesos in damages. Vicenta claimed a valid divorce from plaintiff and an
equally valid marriage to her present husband, Russell Leo Moran; while her parents denied that
they had in any way influenced their daughter's acts, and counterclaimed for moral damages.

The appealed judgment did not decree a legal separation, but freed the plaintiff from supporting his
wife and to acquire property to the exclusion of his wife. It allowed the counterclaim of Mamerto
Escaño and Mena Escaño for moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees against the
plaintiff-appellant, to the extent of P45,000.00, and plaintiff resorted directly to this Court.

The appellant ascribes, as errors of the trial court, the following:

1. In not declaring legal separation; in not holding defendant Vicenta F. Escaño liable for
damages and in dismissing the complaint;.

2. In not holding the defendant parents Mamerto Escano and the heirs of Doña Mena
Escaño liable for damages;.

3 In holding the plaintiff liable for and requiring him to pay the damages to the defendant
parents on their counterclaims; and.

4. In dismissing the complaint and in denying the relief sought by the plaintiff.

That on 24 February 1948 the plaintiff-appellant, Pastor Tenchavez, and the defendant-appellee,
Vicenta Escaño, were validly married to each other, from the standpoint of our civil law, is clearly
established by the record before us. Both parties were then above the age of majority, and otherwise
qualified; and both consented to the marriage, which was performed by a Catholic priest (army
chaplain Lavares) in the presence of competent witnesses. It is nowhere shown that said priest was
not duly authorized under civil law to solemnize marriages.

The chaplain's alleged lack of ecclesiastical authorization from the parish priest and the Ordinary, as
required by Canon law, is irrelevant in our civil law, not only because of the separation of Church and
State but also because Act 3613 of the Philippine Legislature (which was the marriage law in force at
the time) expressly provided that —

SEC. 1.Essential requisites. Essential requisites for marriage are the legal capacity of the
contracting parties and consent. (Emphasis supplied)

The actual authority of the solemnizing officer was thus only a formal requirement, and, therefore,
not essential to give the marriage civil effects,3 and this is emphasized by section 27 of said marriage
act, which provided the following:

SEC. 27. Failure to comply with formal requirements. No marriage shall be declared invalid
because of the absence of one or several of the formal requirements of this Act if, when it
was performed, the spouses or one of them believed in good faith that the person who
solemnized the marriage was actually empowered to do so, and that the marriage was
perfectly legal.

The good faith of all the parties to the marriage (and hence the validity of their marriage) will be
presumed until the contrary is positively proved (Lao vs. Dee Tim, 45 Phil. 739, 745; Francisco vs.
Jason, 60 Phil. 442, 448). It is well to note here that in the case at bar, doubts as to the authority of
the solemnizing priest arose only after the marriage, when Vicenta's parents consulted Father
Reynes and the archbishop of Cebu. Moreover, the very act of Vicenta in abandoning her original
action for annulment and subsequently suing for divorce implies an admission that her marriage to
plaintiff was valid and binding.

Defendant Vicenta Escaño argues that when she contracted the marriage she was under the undue
influence of Pacita Noel, whom she charges to have been in conspiracy with appellant Tenchavez.
Even granting, for argument's sake, the truth of that contention, and assuming that Vicenta's consent
was vitiated by fraud and undue influence, such vices did not render her marriage ab initio void, but
merely voidable, and the marriage remained valid until annulled by a competent civil court. This was
never done, and admittedly, Vicenta's suit for annulment in the Court of First Instance of Misamis
was dismissed for non-prosecution.

It is equally clear from the record that the valid marriage between Pastor Tenchavez and Vicenta
Escaño remained subsisting and undissolved under Philippine law, notwithstanding the decree of
absolute divorce that the wife sought and obtained on 21 October 1950 from the Second Judicial
District Court of Washoe County, State of Nevada, on grounds of "extreme cruelty, entirely mental in
character." At the time the divorce decree was issued, Vicenta Escaño, like her husband, was still a
Filipino citizen.4 She was then subject to Philippine law, and Article 15 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines (Rep. Act No. 386), already in force at the time, expressly provided:

Laws relating to family rights and duties or to the status, condition and legal capacity of
persons are binding upon the citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.

The Civil Code of the Philippines, now in force, does not admit absolute divorce, quo ad vinculo
matrimonii; and in fact does not even use that term, to further emphasize its restrictive policy on the
matter, in contrast to the preceding legislation that admitted absolute divorce on grounds of adultery
of the wife or concubinage of the husband (Act 2710). Instead of divorce, the present Civil Code only
provides for legal separation (Title IV, Book 1, Arts. 97 to 108), and, even in that case, it expressly
prescribes that "the marriage bonds shall not be severed" (Art. 106, subpar. 1).

For the Philippine courts to recognize and give recognition or effect to a foreign decree of absolute
divorce betiveen Filipino citizens could be a patent violation of the declared public policy of the state,
specially in view of the third paragraph of Article 17 of the Civil Code that prescribes the following:

Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their
object public order, policy and good customs, shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or
judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign
country.

Even more, the grant of effectivity in this jurisdiction to such foreign divorce decrees would, in effect,
give rise to an irritating and scandalous discrimination in favor of wealthy citizens, to the detriment of
those members of our polity whose means do not permit them to sojourn abroad and obtain absolute
divorces outside the Philippines.

From this point of view, it is irrelevant that appellant Pastor Tenchavez should have appeared in the
Nevada divorce court. Primarily because the policy of our law cannot be nullified by acts of private
parties (Civil Code,Art. 17, jam quot.); and additionally, because the mere appearance of a non-
resident consort cannot confer jurisdiction where the court originally had none (Area vs. Javier, 95
Phil. 579).

From the preceding facts and considerations, there flows as a necessary consequence that in this
jurisdiction Vicenta Escaño's divorce and second marriage are not entitled to recognition as valid; for
her previous union to plaintiff Tenchavez must be declared to be existent and undissolved. It follows,
likewise, that her refusal to perform her wifely duties, and her denial of consortium and her desertion
of her husband constitute in law a wrong caused through her fault, for which the husband is entitled
to the corresponding indemnity (Civil Code, Art. 2176). Neither an unsubstantiated charge of deceit
nor an anonymous letter charging immorality against the husband constitute, contrary to her claim,
adequate excuse. Wherefore, her marriage and cohabitation with Russell Leo Moran is technically
"intercourse with a person not her husband" from the standpoint of Philippine Law, and entitles
plaintiff-appellant Tenchavez to a decree of "legal separation under our law, on the basis of adultery"
(Revised Penal Code, Art. 333).

The foregoing conclusions as to the untoward effect of a marriage after an invalid divorce are in
accord with the previous doctrines and rulings of this court on the subject, particularly those that
were rendered under our laws prior to the approval of the absolute divorce act (Act 2710 of the
Philippine Legislature). As a matter of legal history, our statutes did not recognize divorces a
vinculo before 1917, when Act 2710 became effective; and the present Civil Code of the Philippines,
in disregarding absolute divorces, in effect merely reverted to the policies on the subject prevailing
before Act 2710. The rulings, therefore, under the Civil Code of 1889, prior to the Act above-
mentioned, are now, fully applicable. Of these, the decision in Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil. 855, is of
particular interest. Said this Court in that case:

As the divorce granted by the French Court must be ignored, it results that the marriage of
Dr. Mory and Leona Castro, celebrated in London in 1905, could not legalize their relations;
and the circumstance that they afterwards passed for husband and wife in Switzerland until
her death is wholly without legal significance. The claims of the very children to participate in
the estate of Samuel Bishop must therefore be rejected. The right to inherit is limited to
legitimate, legitimated and acknowledged natural children. The children of adulterous
relations are wholly excluded. The word "descendants" as used in Article 941 of the Civil
Code cannot be interpreted to include illegitimates born of adulterous relations. (Emphasis
supplied)

Except for the fact that the successional rights of the children, begotten from Vicenta's marriage to
Leo Moran after the invalid divorce, are not involved in the case at bar, the Gmur case is authority for
the proposition that such union is adulterous in this jurisdiction, and, therefore, justifies an action for
legal separation on the part of the innocent consort of the first marriage, that stands undissolved in
Philippine law. In not so declaring, the trial court committed error.

True it is that our ruling gives rise to anomalous situations where the status of a person (whether
divorced or not) would depend on the territory where the question arises. Anomalies of this kind are
not new in the Philippines, and the answer to them was given in Barretto vs. Gonzales, 58 Phil. 667:

The hardship of the existing divorce laws in the Philippine Islands are well known to the
members of the Legislature. It is the duty of the Courts to enforce the laws of divorce as
written by Legislature if they are constitutional. Courts have no right to say that such laws are
too strict or too liberal. (p. 72)

The appellant's first assignment of error is, therefore, sustained.

However, the plaintiff-appellant's charge that his wife's parents, Dr. Mamerto Escaño and his wife,
the late Doña Mena Escaño, alienated the affections of their daughter and influenced her conduct
toward her husband are not supported by credible evidence. The testimony of Pastor Tenchavez
about the Escaño's animosity toward him strikes us to be merely conjecture and exaggeration, and
are belied by Pastor's own letters written before this suit was begun (Exh. "2-Escaño" and "Vicenta,"
Rec. on App., pp. 270-274). In these letters he expressly apologized to the defendants for
"misjudging them" and for the "great unhappiness" caused by his "impulsive blunders" and "sinful
pride," "effrontery and audacity" [sic]. Plaintiff was admitted to the Escaño house to visit and court
Vicenta, and the record shows nothing to prove that he would not have been accepted to marry
Vicente had he openly asked for her hand, as good manners and breeding demanded. Even after
learning of the clandestine marriage, and despite their shock at such unexpected event, the parents
of Vicenta proposed and arranged that the marriage be recelebrated in strict conformity with the
canons of their religion upon advice that the previous one was canonically defective. If no
recelebration of the marriage ceremony was had it was not due to defendants Mamerto Escaño and
his wife, but to the refusal of Vicenta to proceed with it. That the spouses Escaño did not seek to
compel or induce their daughter to assent to the recelebration but respected her decision, or that
they abided by her resolve, does not constitute in law an alienation of affections. Neither does the
fact that Vicenta's parents sent her money while she was in the United States; for it was natural that
they should not wish their daughter to live in penury even if they did not concur in her decision to
divorce Tenchavez (27 Am. Jur. 130-132).
There is no evidence that the parents of Vicenta, out of improper motives, aided and abetted her
original suit for annulment, or her subsequent divorce; she appears to have acted independently,
and being of age, she was entitled to judge what was best for her and ask that her decisions be
respected. Her parents, in so doing, certainly cannot be charged with alienation of affections in the
absence of malice or unworthy motives, which have not been shown, good faith being always
presumed until the contrary is proved.

SEC. 529.Liability of Parents, Guardians or Kin. — The law distinguishes between the right
of a parent to interest himself in the marital affairs of his child and the absence of rights in a
stranger to intermeddle in such affairs. However, such distinction between the liability of
parents and that of strangers is only in regard to what will justify interference. A parent
isliable for alienation of affections resulting from his own malicious conduct, as where he
wrongfully entices his son or daughter to leave his or her spouse, but he is not liable unless
he acts maliciously, without justification and from unworthy motives. He is not liable where he
acts and advises his child in good faith with respect to his child's marital relations in the
interest of his child as he sees it, the marriage of his child not terminating his right and liberty
to interest himself in, and be extremely solicitous for, his child's welfare and happiness, even
where his conduct and advice suggest or result in the separation of the spouses or the
obtaining of a divorce or annulment, or where he acts under mistake or misinformation, or
where his advice or interference are indiscreet or unfortunate, although it has been held that
the parent is liable for consequences resulting from recklessness. He may in good faith take
his child into his home and afford him or her protection and support, so long as he has not
maliciously enticed his child away, or does not maliciously entice or cause him or her to stay
away, from his or her spouse. This rule has more frequently been applied in the case of
advice given to a married daughter, but it is equally applicable in the case of advice given to
a son.

Plaintiff Tenchavez, in falsely charging Vicenta's aged parents with racial or social discrimination and
with having exerted efforts and pressured her to seek annulment and divorce, unquestionably
caused them unrest and anxiety, entitling them to recover damages. While this suit may not have
been impelled by actual malice, the charges were certainly reckless in the face of the proven facts
and circumstances. Court actions are not established for parties to give vent to their prejudices or
spleen.

In the assessment of the moral damages recoverable by appellant Pastor Tenchavez from defendant
Vicente Escaño, it is proper to take into account, against his patently unreasonable claim for a million
pesos in damages, that (a) the marriage was celebrated in secret, and its failure was not
characterized by publicity or undue humiliation on appellant's part; (b) that the parties never lived
together; and (c) that there is evidence that appellant had originally agreed to the annulment of the
marriage, although such a promise was legally invalid, being against public policy (cf. Art. 88, Civ.
Code). While appellant is unable to remarry under our law, this fact is a consequence of the
indissoluble character of the union that appellant entered into voluntarily and with open eyes rather
than of her divorce and her second marriage. All told, we are of the opinion that appellant should
recover P25,000 only by way of moral damages and attorney's fees.

With regard to the P45,000 damages awarded to the defendants, Dr. Mamerto Escaño and Mena
Escaño, by the court below, we opine that the same are excessive. While the filing of this unfounded
suit must have wounded said defendants' feelings and caused them anxiety, the same could in no
way have seriously injured their reputation, or otherwise prejudiced them, lawsuits having become a
common occurrence in present society. What is important, and has been correctly established in the
decision of the court below, is that said defendants were not guilty of any improper conduct in the
whole deplorable affair. This Court, therefore, reduces the damages awarded to P5,000 only.

Summing up, the Court rules:

(1) That a foreign divorce between Filipino citizens, sought and decreed after the effectivity of the
present Civil Code (Rep. Act 386), is not entitled to recognition as valid in this jurisdiction; and
neither is the marriage contracted with another party by the divorced consort, subsequently to the
foreign decree of divorce, entitled to validity in the country;

(2) That the remarriage of divorced wife and her co-habitation with a person other than the lawful
husband entitle the latter to a decree of legal separation conformably to Philippine law;
(3) That the desertion and securing of an invalid divorce decree by one consort entitles the other to
recover damages;

(4) That an action for alienation of affections against the parents of one consort does not lie in the
absence of proof of malice or unworthy motives on their part.

WHEREFORE, the decision under appeal is hereby modified as follows;

(1) Adjudging plaintiff-appellant Pastor Tenchavez entitled to a decree of legal separation from
defendant Vicenta F. Escaño;

(2) Sentencing defendant-appellee Vicenta Escaño to pay plaintiff-appellant Tenchavez the amount
of P25,000 for damages and attorneys' fees;

(3) Sentencing appellant Pastor Tenchavez to pay the appellee, Mamerto Escaño and the estate of
his wife, the deceased Mena Escaño, P5,000 by way of damages and attorneys' fees.

Neither party to recover costs.


G.R. No. L-23678 June 6, 1967

TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased.


PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor.
MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants,
vs.
EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees.

Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors appellants.


Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al.
Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al.
J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company.
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman.

BENGZON, J.P., J.:

This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, from an order of the Court of First
Instance of Manila dated April 30, 1964, approving the project of partition filed by the executor in
Civil Case No. 37089 therein. 1äwphï1.ñët

The facts of the case are as follows:

Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States." By his
first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: Edward A. Bellis,
George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis
Allsman; by his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had three legitimate children:
Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three illegitimate children:
Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis.

On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines, in which he directed that after
all taxes, obligations, and expenses of administration are paid for, his distributable estate should be
divided, in trust, in the following order and manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen;
(b) P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam
Palma Bellis, or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing two items have been satisfied, the
remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first and second wives, namely: Edward A.
Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis,
and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal shares. 1äw phï1.ñët

Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. His
will was admitted to probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September 15, 1958.

The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, paid all the bequests therein
including the amount of $240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen and to the
three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various
amounts totalling P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective legacies, or a total of
P120,000.00, which it released from time to time according as the lower court approved and allowed
the various motions or petitions filed by the latter three requesting partial advances on account of
their respective legacies.

On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its
"Executor's Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it reported, inter
alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock
amounting to $240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam
Palma Bellis in the amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In the project of partition,
the executor — pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the testator's Last Will and Testament — divided
the residuary estate into seven equal portions for the benefit of the testator's seven legitimate
children by his first and second marriages.

On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective oppositions
to the project of partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate
children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the deceased.
Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him, proof of service of which is
evidenced by the registry receipt submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1

After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other pertinent pleadings, the lower court, on
April 30, 1964, issued an order overruling the oppositions and approving the executor's final account,
report and administration and project of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied
the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide for legitimes.

Their respective motions for reconsideration having been denied by the lower court on June 11,
1964, oppositors-appellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which law must apply —
Texas law or Philippine law.

In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine of renvoi, applied
by this Court in Aznar v. Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine is usually
pertinent where the decedent is a national of one country, and a domicile of another. In the present
case, it is not disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the
time of his death.2 So that even assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the
domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the same would not result in a reference
back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas has a
conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae) calling for the application of the law of the place
where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties here involved are found in
the Philippines. In the absence, however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not
be presumed different from ours.3 Appellants' position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of
renvoi. As stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their arguments. Rather, they argue
that their case falls under the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in relation
to Article 16 of the Civil Code.

Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent,
in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b)
the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the
capacity to succeed. They provide that —

ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country
where it is situated.

However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of
succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of
testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose
succession is under consideration, whatever may he the nature of the property and
regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.

ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.

Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph three, of the Civil Code, stating that —

Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their
object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws
or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign
country.

prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is not correct.
Precisely, Congress deleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next
preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old Civil Code as Art.17 of the new Civil
Code, while reproducing without substantial change the second paragraph of Art.10 of the old Civil
Code as Art.16 in the new. It must have been their purpose to make the second paragraph of Art. 16
a specific provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate succession. As further
indication of this legislative intent, Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which decrees
that capacity to succeed is to be governed by the national law of the decedent.

It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our System of
legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For
it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's
national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones.
Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two wills — one to govern his Texas
estate and the other his Philippine estate — arguing from this that he intended Philippine law to
govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that such was the decedent's intention in executing a
separate Philippine will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil.
867, 870, a provision in a foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in
accordance with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for his national law
cannot be ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 — now Article 16 — of the Civil Code
states said national law should govern.

The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and
that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic
validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under
Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.

Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs against appellants. So
ordered.
G.R. No. 165842 November 29, 2005

EDUARDO P. MANUEL, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
G.R. CR No. 26877, affirming the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, Branch
3, convicting Eduardo P. Manuel of bigamy in Criminal Case No. 19562-R.

Eduardo was charged with bigamy in an Information filed on November 7, 2001, the accusatory
portion of which reads:

That on or about the 22nd day of April, 1996, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused EDUARDO P. MANUEL, being then
previously and legally married to RUBYLUS [GAÑA] and without the said marriage having been
legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage
with TINA GANDALERA-MANUEL, herein complainant, who does not know the existence of the first
marriage of said EDUARDO P. MANUEL to Rubylus [Gaña].

CONTRARY TO LAW. 3

The prosecution adduced evidence that on July 28, 1975, Eduardo was married to Rubylus Gaña
before Msgr. Feliciano Santos in Makati, which was then still a municipality of the Province of
Rizal.4 He met the private complainant Tina B. Gandalera in Dagupan City sometime in January
1996. She stayed in Bonuan, Dagupan City for two days looking for a friend. Tina was then 21 years
old, a Computer Secretarial student, while Eduardo was 39. Afterwards, Eduardo went to Baguio
City to visit her. Eventually, as one thing led to another, they went to a motel where, despite Tina’s
resistance, Eduardo succeeded in having his way with her. Eduardo proposed marriage on several
occasions, assuring her that he was single. Eduardo even brought his parents to Baguio City to meet
Tina’s parents, and was assured by them that their son was still single.

Tina finally agreed to marry Eduardo sometime in the first week of March 1996. They were married
on April 22, 1996 before Judge Antonio C. Reyes, the Presiding Judge of the RTC of Baguio City,
Branch 61.5 It appeared in their marriage contract that Eduardo was "single."

The couple was happy during the first three years of their married life. Through their joint efforts, they
were able to build their home in Cypress Point, Irisan, Baguio City. However, starting 1999, Manuel
started making himself scarce and went to their house only twice or thrice a year. Tina was jobless,
and whenever she asked money from Eduardo, he would slap her.6 Sometime in January 2001,
Eduardo took all his clothes, left, and did not return. Worse, he stopped giving financial support.

Sometime in August 2001, Tina became curious and made inquiries from the National Statistics
Office (NSO) in Manila where she learned that Eduardo had been previously married. She secured
an NSO-certified copy of the marriage contract.7 She was so embarrassed and humiliated when she
learned that Eduardo was in fact already married when they exchanged their own vows.8

For his part, Eduardo testified that he met Tina sometime in 1995 in a bar where she worked as a
Guest Relations Officer (GRO). He fell in love with her and married her. He informed Tina of his
previous marriage to Rubylus Gaña, but she nevertheless agreed to marry him. Their marital
relationship was in order until this one time when he noticed that she had a "love-bite" on her neck.
He then abandoned her. Eduardo further testified that he declared he was "single" in his marriage
contract with Tina because he believed in good faith that his first marriage was invalid. He did not
know that he had to go to court to seek for the nullification of his first marriage before marrying Tina.

Eduardo further claimed that he was only forced to marry his first wife because she threatened to
commit suicide unless he did so. Rubylus was charged with estafa in 1975 and thereafter
imprisoned. He visited her in jail after three months and never saw her again. He insisted that he
married Tina believing that his first marriage was no longer valid because he had not heard from
Rubylus for more than 20 years.

After trial, the court rendered judgment on July 2, 2002 finding Eduardo guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of bigamy. He was sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from six (6) years and ten (10)
months, as minimum, to ten (10) years, as maximum, and directed to indemnify the private
complainant Tina Gandalera the amount of ₱200,000.00 by way of moral damages, plus costs of
suit.9

The trial court ruled that the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the
elements of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. It declared that Eduardo’s belief,
that his first marriage had been dissolved because of his first wife’s 20-year absence, even if true,
did not exculpate him from liability for bigamy. Citing the ruling of this Court in People v. Bitdu,10 the
trial court further ruled that even if the private complainant had known that Eduardo had been
previously married, the latter would still be criminally liable for bigamy.

Eduardo appealed the decision to the CA. He alleged that he was not criminally liable for bigamy
because when he married the private complainant, he did so in good faith and without any malicious
intent. He maintained that at the time that he married the private complainant, he was of the honest
belief that his first marriage no longer subsisted. He insisted that conformably to Article 3 of the
Revised Penal Code, there must be malice for one to be criminally liable for a felony. He was not
motivated by malice in marrying the private complainant because he did so only out of his
overwhelming desire to have a fruitful marriage. He posited that the trial court should have taken into
account Article 390 of the New Civil Code. To support his view, the appellant cited the rulings of this
Court in United States v. Peñalosa11 and Manahan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals.12

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) averred that Eduardo’s defense of good faith and reliance
on the Court’s ruling in United States v. Enriquez13 were misplaced; what is applicable is Article 41 of
the Family Code, which amended Article 390 of the Civil Code. Citing the ruling of this Court
in Republic v. Nolasco,14 the OSG further posited that as provided in Article 41 of the Family Code,
there is a need for a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse to enable the
present spouse to marry. Even assuming that the first marriage was void, the parties thereto should
not be permitted to judge for themselves the nullity of the marriage;
the matter should be submitted to the proper court for resolution. Moreover, the OSG maintained, the
private complainant’s knowledge of the first marriage would not afford any relief since bigamy is an
offense against the State and not just against the private complainant.

However, the OSG agreed with the appellant that the penalty imposed by the trial court was
erroneous and sought the affirmance of the decision appealed from with modification.

On June 18, 2004, the CA rendered judgment affirming the decision of the RTC with modification as
to the penalty of the accused. It ruled that the prosecution was able to prove all the elements of
bigamy. Contrary to the contention of the appellant, Article 41 of the Family Code should apply.
Before Manuel could lawfully marry the private complainant, there should have been a judicial
declaration of Gaña’s presumptive death as the absent spouse. The appellate court cited the rulings
of this Court in Mercado v. Tan15 and Domingo v. Court of Appeals16 to support its ruling. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Decision promulgated on July 31, 2002 is
hereby MODIFIED to reflect, as it hereby reflects, that accused-appellant is sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as
minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor as maximum. Said Decision is AFFIRMED in all other
respects.

SO ORDERED.17

Eduardo, now the petitioner, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, insisting that:

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT RULED THAT
PETITIONER’S FIRST WIFE CANNOT BE LEGALLY PRESUMED DEAD UNDER ARTICLE 390
OF THE CIVIL CODE AS THERE WAS NO JUDICIAL DECLARATION OF PRESUMPTIVE DEATH
AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER ARTICLE 41 OF THE FAMILY CODE.

II

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT AFFIRMED


THE AWARD OF PHP200,000.00 AS MORAL DAMAGES AS IT HAS NO BASIS IN FACT AND IN
LAW.18

The petitioner maintains that the prosecution failed to prove the second element of the felony, i.e.,
that the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his/her spouse is absent, the absent
spouse could not yet be presumed dead under the Civil Code. He avers that when he married
Gandalera in 1996, Gaña had been "absent" for 21 years since 1975; under Article 390 of the Civil
Code, she was presumed dead as a matter of law. He points out that, under the first paragraph of
Article 390 of the Civil Code, one who has been absent for seven years, whether or not he/she is still
alive, shall be presumed dead for all purposes except for succession, while the second paragraph
refers to the rule on legal presumption of death with respect to succession.

The petitioner asserts that the presumptive death of the absent spouse arises by operation of law
upon the satisfaction of two requirements: the
specified period and the present spouse’s reasonable belief that the absentee is dead. He insists
that he was able to prove that he had not heard from his first wife since 1975 and that he had no
knowledge of her whereabouts or whether she was still alive; hence, under Article 41 of the Family
Code, the presumptive death of Gaña had arisen by operation of law, as the two requirements of
Article 390 of the Civil Code are present. The petitioner concludes that he should thus be acquitted
of the crime of bigamy.

The petitioner insists that except for the period of absences provided for in Article 390 of the Civil
Code, the rule therein on legal presumptions remains valid and effective. Nowhere under Article 390
of the Civil Code does it require that there must first be a judicial declaration of death before the rule
on presumptive death would apply. He further asserts that contrary to the rulings of the trial and
appellate courts, the requirement of a judicial declaration of presumptive death under Article 41 of
the Family Code is only a requirement for the validity of the subsequent or second marriage.

The petitioner, likewise, avers that the trial court and the CA erred in awarding moral damages in
favor of the private complainant. The private complainant was a "GRO" before he married her, and
even knew that he was already married. He genuinely loved and took care of her and gave her
financial support. He also pointed out that she had an illicit relationship with a lover whom she
brought to their house.

In its comment on the petition, the OSG maintains that the decision of the CA affirming the
petitioner’s conviction is in accord with the law, jurisprudence and the evidence on record. To bolster
its claim, the OSG cited the ruling of this Court in Republic v. Nolasco.19

The petition is denied for lack of merit.

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, which defines and penalizes bigamy, reads:

Art. 349. Bigamy. – The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall
contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or
before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered
in the proper proceedings.

The provision was taken from Article 486 of the Spanish Penal Code, to wit:

El que contrajere Segundo o ulterior matrimonio sin hallarse legítimamente disuelto el anterior, será
castigado con la pena de prision mayor. xxx

The reason why bigamy is considered a felony is to preserve and ensure the juridical tie of marriage
established by law.20 The phrase "or before the absent spouse had been declared presumptively
dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings" was incorporated in the Revised
Penal Code because the drafters of the law were of the impression that "in consonance with the civil
law which provides for the presumption of death after an absence of a number of years, the judicial
declaration of presumed death like annulment of marriage should be a justification for bigamy."21

For the accused to be held guilty of bigamy, the prosecution is burdened to prove the felony: (a)
he/she has been legally married; and (b) he/she contracts a subsequent marriage without the former
marriage having been lawfully dissolved. The felony is consummated on the celebration of the
second marriage or subsequent marriage.22 It is essential in the prosecution for bigamy that the
alleged second marriage, having all the essential requirements, would be valid were it not for the
subsistence of the first marriage.23 Viada avers that a third element of the crime is that the second
marriage must be entered into with fraudulent intent (intencion fraudulente) which is an essential
element of a felony by dolo.24 On the other hand, Cuello Calon is of the view that there are only two
elements of bigamy: (1) the existence of a marriage that has not been lawfully dissolved; and (2) the
celebration of a second marriage. It does not matter whether the first marriage is void or voidable
because such marriages have juridical effects until lawfully dissolved by a court of competent
jurisdiction.25 As the Court ruled in Domingo v. Court of Appeals26 and Mercado v. Tan,27 under the
Family Code of the Philippines, the judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is a defense.

In his commentary on the Revised Penal Code, Albert is of the same view as Viada and declared
that there are three (3) elements of bigamy: (1) an undissolved marriage; (2) a new marriage; and (3)
fraudulent intention constituting the felony of the act.28 He explained that:

… This last element is not stated in Article 349, because it is undoubtedly incorporated in the
principle antedating all codes, and, constituting one of the landmarks of our Penal Code, that, where
there is no willfulness there is no crime. There is no willfulness if the subject
believes that the former marriage has been dissolved; and this must be supported by very strong
evidence, and if this be produced, the act shall be deemed not to constitute a crime. Thus, a person
who contracts a second marriage in the reasonable and well-founded belief that his first wife is dead,
because of the many years that have elapsed since he has had any news of her whereabouts, in
spite of his endeavors to find her, cannot be deemed guilty of the crime of bigamy, because there is
no fraudulent intent which is one of the essential elements of the crime.29

As gleaned from the Information in the RTC, the petitioner is charged with bigamy, a felony
by dolo (deceit). Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code provides that there is deceit when
the act is performed with deliberate intent. Indeed, a felony cannot exist without intent. Since a
felony by dolo is classified as an intentional felony, it is deemed voluntary.30 Although the words "with
malice" do not appear in Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, such phrase is included in the word
"voluntary."31

Malice is a mental state or condition prompting the doing of an overt act without legal excuse or
justification from which another suffers injury.32 When the act or omission defined by law as a felony
is proved to have been done or committed by the accused, the law presumes it to have been
intentional.33 Indeed, it is a legal presumption of law that every man intends the natural or probable
consequence of his voluntary act in the absence of proof to the contrary, and such presumption must
prevail unless a reasonable doubt exists from a consideration of the whole evidence.34

For one to be criminally liable for a felony by dolo, there must be a confluence of both an evil act and
an evil intent. Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea.35

In the present case, the prosecution proved that the petitioner was married to Gaña in 1975, and
such marriage was not judicially declared a nullity; hence, the marriage is presumed to subsist.36 The
prosecution also proved that the petitioner married the private complainant in 1996, long after the
effectivity of the Family Code.

The petitioner is presumed to have acted with malice or evil intent when he married the private
complainant. As a general rule, mistake of fact or good faith of the accused is a valid defense in a
prosecution for a felony by dolo; such defense negates malice or criminal intent. However, ignorance
of the law is not an excuse because everyone is presumed to know the law. Ignorantia legis
neminem excusat.

It was the burden of the petitioner to prove his defense that when he married the private complainant
in 1996, he was of the well-grounded belief
that his first wife was already dead, as he had not heard from her for more than 20 years since 1975.
He should have adduced in evidence a decision of a competent court declaring the presumptive
death of his first wife as required by Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Article 41 of
the Family Code. Such judicial declaration also constitutes proof that the petitioner acted in good
faith, and would negate criminal intent on his part when he married the private complainant and, as a
consequence, he could not be held guilty of bigamy in such case. The petitioner, however, failed to
discharge his burden.

The phrase "or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a
judgment rendered on the proceedings" in Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code was not an
aggroupment of empty or useless words. The requirement for a judgment of the presumptive death
of the absent spouse is for the benefit of the spouse present, as protection from the pains and the
consequences of a second marriage, precisely because he/she could be charged and convicted of
bigamy if the defense of good faith based on mere testimony is found incredible.

The requirement of judicial declaration is also for the benefit of the State. Under Article II, Section 12
of the Constitution, the "State shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social
institution." Marriage is a social institution of the highest importance. Public policy, good morals and
the interest of society require that the marital relation should be surrounded with every safeguard
and its severance only in the manner prescribed and the causes specified by law.37 The laws
regulating civil marriages are necessary to serve the interest, safety, good order, comfort or general
welfare of the community and the parties can waive nothing essential to the validity of the
proceedings. A civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over
transient ones; it enhances the welfare of the community.

In a real sense, there are three parties to every civil marriage; two willing spouses and an approving
State. On marriage, the parties assume new relations to each other and the State touching nearly on
every aspect of life and death. The consequences of an invalid marriage to the parties, to innocent
parties and to society, are so serious that the law may well take means calculated to ensure the
procurement of the most positive evidence of death of the first spouse or of the presumptive death of
the absent spouse38 after the lapse of the period provided for under the law. One such means is the
requirement of the declaration by a competent court of the presumptive death of an absent spouse
as proof that the present spouse contracts a subsequent marriage on a well-grounded belief of the
death of the first spouse. Indeed, "men readily believe what they wish to be true," is a maxim of the
old jurists. To sustain a second marriage and to vacate a first because one of the parties believed
the other to be dead would make the existence of the marital relation determinable, not by certain
extrinsic facts, easily capable of forensic ascertainment and proof, but by the subjective condition of
individuals.39 Only with such proof can marriage be treated as so dissolved as to permit second
marriages.40 Thus, Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code has made the dissolution of marriage
dependent not only upon the personal belief of parties, but upon certain objective facts easily
capable of accurate judicial cognizance,41 namely, a judgment of the presumptive death of the
absent spouse.

The petitioner’s sole reliance on Article 390 of the Civil Code as basis for his acquittal for bigamy is
misplaced.

Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code provide –

Art. 390. After an absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not, the absentee still lives,
he shall be presumed dead for all purposes, except for those of succession.

The absentee shall not be presumed dead for the purpose of opening his succession till after an
absence of ten years. If he disappeared after the age of seventy-five years, an absence of five years
shall be sufficient in order that his succession may be opened.

Art. 391. The following shall be presumed dead for all purposes, including the division of the estate
among the heirs:

(1) A person on board a vessel lost during a sea voyage, or an aeroplane which is missing, who has
not been heard of for four years since the loss of the vessel or aeroplane;

(2) A person in the armed forces who has taken part in war, and has been missing for four years;

(3) A person who has been in danger of death under other circumstances and his existence has not
been known for four years.
The presumption of death of the spouse who had been absent for seven years, it being unknown
whether or not the absentee still lives, is created by law and arises without any necessity of judicial
declaration.42 However, Article 41 of the Family Code, which amended the foregoing rules on
presumptive death, reads:

Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be
null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been
absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent
spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the
circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two
years shall be sufficient.

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse
present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Court for the declaration of
presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent
spouse.43

With the effectivity of the Family Code,44 the period of seven years under the first paragraph of
Article 390 of the Civil Code was reduced to four consecutive years. Thus, before the spouse
present may contract a subsequent marriage, he or she must institute summary proceedings for the
declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee spouse,45 without prejudice to the effect of the
reappearance of the absentee spouse. As explained by this Court in Armas v. Calisterio:46

In contrast, under the 1988 Family Code, in order that a subsequent bigamous marriage may
exceptionally be considered valid, the following conditions must concur, viz.: (a) The prior spouse of
the contracting party must have been absent for four consecutive years, or two years where there is
danger of death under the circumstances stated in Article 391 of the Civil Code at the time of
disappearance; (b) the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already
dead; and (c) there is, unlike the old rule, a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absentee
for which purpose the spouse present can institute a summary proceeding in court to ask for that
declaration. The last condition is consistent and in consonance with the requirement of judicial
intervention in subsequent marriages as so provided in Article 41, in relation to Article 40, of the
Family Code.

The Court rejects petitioner’s contention that the requirement of instituting a petition for declaration of
presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code is designed merely to enable the spouse
present to contract a valid second marriage and not for the acquittal of one charged with bigamy.
Such provision was designed to harmonize civil law and Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, and
put to rest the confusion spawned by the rulings of this Court and comments of eminent authorities
on Criminal Law.

As early as March 6, 1937, this Court ruled in Jones v. Hortiguela47 that, for purposes of the marriage
law, it is not necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared an absentee before the spouse
present may contract a subsequent marriage. It held that the declaration of absence made in
accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code has for its sole purpose the taking of the necessary
precautions for the administration of the estate of the absentee. For the celebration of civil marriage,
however, the law only requires that the former spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years
at the time of the second marriage, that the spouse present does not know his or her former spouse
to be living, that such former spouse is generally reputed to be dead and the spouse present so
believes at the time of the celebration of the marriage.48 In In Re Szatraw,49 the Court declared that a
judicial declaration that a person is presumptively dead, because he or she had been unheard from
in seven years, being a presumption juris tantum only, subject to contrary proof, cannot reach the
stage of finality or become final; and that proof of actual death of the person presumed dead being
unheard from in seven years, would have to be made in another proceeding to have such particular
fact finally determined. The Court ruled that if a judicial decree declaring a person presumptively
dead because he or she had not been heard from in seven years cannot become final and executory
even after the lapse of the reglementary period within which an appeal may be taken, for such
presumption is still disputable and remains subject to contrary proof, then a petition for such a
declaration is useless, unnecessary, superfluous and of no benefit to the petitioner. The Court stated
that it should not waste its valuable time and be made to perform a superfluous and meaningless
act.50 The Court also took note that a petition for a declaration of the presumptive death of an absent
spouse may even be made in collusion with the other spouse.
In Lukban v. Republic of the Philippines,51 the Court declared that the words "proper proceedings" in
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code can only refer to those authorized by law such as Articles 390
and 391 of the Civil Code which refer to the administration or settlement of the estate of a deceased
person. In Gue v. Republic of the Philippines,52 the Court rejected the contention of the petitioner
therein that, under Article 390 of the Civil Code, the courts are authorized to declare the presumptive
death of a person after an absence of seven years. The Court reiterated its rulings in Szatraw,
Lukban and Jones.

Former Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino was of the view that "the provision of Article 349 or "before
the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment reached in the
proper proceedings" is erroneous and should be considered as not written. He opined that such
provision presupposes that, if the prior marriage has not been legally dissolved and the absent first
spouse has not been declared presumptively dead in a proper court proceedings, the subsequent
marriage is bigamous. He maintains that the supposition is not true.53 A second marriage is
bigamous only when the circumstances in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 83 of the Civil Code are not
present.54 Former Senator Ambrosio Padilla was, likewise, of the view that Article 349 seems to
require judicial decree of dissolution or judicial declaration of absence but even with such decree, a
second marriage in good faith will not constitute bigamy. He posits that a second marriage, if not
illegal, even if it be annullable, should not give rise to bigamy.55 Former Justice Luis B. Reyes, on the
other hand, was of the view that in the case of an absent spouse who could not yet be presumed
dead according to the Civil Code, the spouse present cannot be charged and convicted of bigamy in
case he/she contracts a second marriage.56

The Committee tasked to prepare the Family Code proposed the amendments of Articles 390 and
391 of the Civil Code to conform to Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, in that, in a case where a
spouse is absent for the requisite period, the present spouse may contract a subsequent marriage
only after securing a judgment declaring the presumptive death of the absent spouse to avoid being
charged and convicted of bigamy; the present spouse will have to adduce evidence that he had a
well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead.57 Such judgment is proof of the good
faith of the present spouse who contracted a subsequent marriage; thus, even if the present spouse
is later charged with bigamy if the absentee spouse reappears, he cannot be convicted of the crime.
As explained by former Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy:

… Such rulings, however, conflict with Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code providing that the present
spouse must first ask for a declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse in order not to be
guilty of bigamy in case he or she marries again.

The above Article of the Family Code now clearly provides that for the purpose of the present
spouse contracting a second marriage, he or she must file a summary proceeding as provided in the
Code for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the latter’s
reappearance. This provision is intended to protect the present spouse from a criminal prosecution
for bigamy under Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code because with the judicial declaration that the
missing spouses presumptively dead, the good faith of the present spouse in contracting a second
marriage is already established.58

Of the same view is former Dean Ernesto L. Pineda (now Undersecretary of Justice) who wrote that
things are now clarified. He says judicial declaration of presumptive death is now authorized for
purposes of
remarriage. The present spouse must institute a summary proceeding for declaration of presumptive
death of the absentee, where the ordinary rules of procedure in trial will not be followed. Affidavits
will suffice, with possible clarificatory examinations of affiants if the Judge finds it necessary for a full
grasp of the facts. The judgment declaring an absentee as presumptively dead is without prejudice
to the effect of reappearance of the said absentee.

Dean Pineda further states that before, the weight of authority is that the clause "before the absent
spouse has been declared presumptively dead x x x" should be disregarded because of Article 83,
paragraph 3 of the Civil Code. With the new law, there is a need to institute a summary proceeding
for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee, otherwise, there is bigamy.59

According to Retired Supreme Court Justice Florenz D. Regalado, an eminent authority on Criminal
Law, in some cases where an absentee spouse is believed to be dead, there must be a judicial
declaration of presumptive death, which could then be made only in the proceedings for the
settlement of his estate.60 Before such declaration, it was held that the remarriage of the other
spouse is bigamous even if done in good faith.61 Justice Regalado opined that there were contrary
views because of the ruling in Jones and the provisions of Article 83(2) of the Civil Code, which,
however, appears to have been set to rest by Article 41 of the Family Code, "which requires a
summary hearing for the declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse before the other
spouse can remarry."

Under Article 238 of the Family Code, a petition for a declaration of the presumptive death of an
absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code may be filed under Articles 239 to 247 of the
same Code.62

On the second issue, the petitioner, likewise, faults the trial court and the CA for awarding moral
damages in favor of the private complainant. The petitioner maintains that moral damages may be
awarded only in any of the cases provided in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, and bigamy is not one of
them. The petitioner asserts that the appellate court failed to apply its ruling in People v.
Bondoc,63 where an award of moral damages for bigamy was disallowed. In any case, the petitioner
maintains, the private complainant failed to adduce evidence to prove moral damages.

The appellate court awarded moral damages to the private complainant on its finding that she
adduced evidence to prove the same. The appellate court ruled that while bigamy is not included in
those cases enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, it is not proscribed from awarding moral
damages against the petitioner. The appellate court ruled that it is not bound by the following ruling
in People v. Bondoc:

... Pero si en dichos asuntos se adjudicaron daños, ello se debió indedublamente porque el articulo
2219 del Código Civil de Filipinas autoriza la adjudicación de daños morales en los delitos de
estupro, rapto, violación, adulterio o concubinato, y otros actos lascivos, sin incluir en esta
enumeración el delito de bigamia. No existe, por consiguiente, base legal para adjudicar aquí los
daños de ₱5,000.00 arriba mencionados.64

The OSG posits that the findings and ruling of the CA are based on the evidence and the law. The
OSG, likewise, avers that the CA was not bound by its ruling in People v. Rodeo.

The Court rules against the petitioner.

Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched
reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of
pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the
defendant’s wrongful act or omission.65 An award for moral damages requires the confluence of the
following conditions: first, there must be an injury, whether physical, mental or psychological, clearly
sustained by the claimant; second, there must be culpable act or omission factually
established; third, the wrongful act or omission of the defendant is the proximate cause of the injury
sustained by the claimant; and fourth, the award of damages is predicated on any of the cases
stated in Article 2219 or Article 2220 of the Civil Code.66

Moral damages may be awarded in favor of the offended party only in criminal cases enumerated in
Article 2219, paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Civil Code and analogous cases, viz.:

Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases.

(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;

(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;

(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;

(4) Adultery or concubinage;

(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest;

(6) Illegal search;

(7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;


(8) Malicious prosecution;

(9) Acts mentioned in article 309;

(10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34 and 35.

The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped, or abused, referred to in No. 3 of this article,
may also recover moral damages.

The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in
No. 9 of this article in the order named.

Thus, the law does not intend that moral damages should be awarded in all cases where the
aggrieved party has suffered mental anguish, fright, moral anxieties, besmirched reputation,
wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation and similar injury arising out of an act or omission
of another, otherwise, there would not have been any reason for the inclusion of specific acts in
Article 221967 and analogous cases (which refer to those cases bearing analogy or resemblance,
corresponds to some others or resembling, in other respects, as in form, proportion, relation, etc.)68

Indeed, bigamy is not one of those specifically mentioned in Article 2219 of the Civil Code in which
the offender may be ordered to pay moral damages to the private complainant/offended party.
Nevertheless, the petitioner is liable to the private complainant for moral damages under Article 2219
in relation to Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code.

According to Article 19, "every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of
his act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith." This provision
contains what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, and sets certain standards
which must be observed not only in the exercise of one’s rights but also in the performance of one’s
duties. The standards are the following: act with justice; give everyone his due; and observe honesty
and good faith. The elements for abuse of rights are: (a) there is a legal right or duty; (b) exercised in
bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.69

Article 20 speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions 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.70 If the provision does not provide a
remedy for its violation, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code
would be proper. Article 20 provides that "every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently
causes damage to another shall indemnify the latter for the same." On the other hand, Article 21
provides that "any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to
morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for damages." The latter provision
is adopted to remedy "the countless gaps in the statutes which leave so many victims of moral
wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered material and moral injury should
vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs which it is impossible for
human foresight to prove for specifically in the statutes." Whether or not the principle of abuse of
rights has been violated resulting in damages under Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code or other
applicable provisions of law depends upon the circumstances of each case.71

In the present case, the petitioner courted the private complainant and proposed to marry her. He
assured her that he was single. He even brought his parents to the house of the private complainant
where he and his parents made the same assurance – that he was single. Thus, the private
complainant agreed to marry the petitioner, who even stated in the certificate of marriage that he
was single. She lived with the petitioner and dutifully performed her duties as his wife, believing all
the while that he was her lawful husband. For two years or so until the petitioner heartlessly
abandoned her, the private complainant had no inkling that he was already married to another
before they were married.

Thus, the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioner’s chicanery and heartless
deception, the fraud consisting not of a single act alone, but a continuous series of acts. Day by day,
he maintained the appearance of being a lawful husband to the private complainant, who
changed her status from a single woman to a married woman, lost the consortium, attributes and
support of a single man she could have married lawfully and endured mental pain and humiliation,
being bound to a man who it turned out was not her lawful husband.72
The Court rules that the petitioner’s collective acts of fraud and deceit before, during and after his
marriage with the private complainant were willful, deliberate and with malice and caused injury to
the latter. That she did not sustain any physical injuries is not a bar to an award for moral damages.
Indeed, in Morris v. Macnab,73 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled:

xxx The defendant cites authorities which indicate that, absent physical injuries, damages for shame,
humiliation, and mental anguish are not recoverable where the actor is simply negligent. See
Prosser, supra, at p. 180; 2 Harper & James, Torts, 1031 (1956). But the authorities all recognize
that where the wrong is willful rather than negligent, recovery may be had for the ordinary, natural,
and proximate consequences though they consist of shame, humiliation, and mental anguish. See
Spiegel v. Evergreen Cemetery Co., 117 NJL 90, 94, 186 A 585 (Sup. Ct. 1936); Kuzma v. Millinery
Workers, etc., Local 24, 27 N.J. Super, 579, 591, 99 A.2d 833 (App. Div. 1953); Prosser, supra, at p.
38. Here the defendant’s conduct was not merely negligent, but was willfully and maliciously
wrongful. It was bound to result in shame, humiliation, and mental anguish for the plaintiff, and when
such result did ensue the plaintiff became entitled not only to compensatory but also to punitive
damages. See Spiegel v. Evergreen Cemetery Co., supra; Kuzma v Millinery Workers, etc., Local
24, supra. CF. Note, "Exemplary Damages in the Law of Torts," 70 Harv. L. Rev. 517 (1957). The
plaintiff testified that because of the defendant’s bigamous marriage to her and the attendant
publicity she not only was embarrassed and "ashamed to go out" but "couldn’t sleep" but "couldn’t
eat," had terrific headaches" and "lost quite a lot of weight." No just basis appears for judicial
interference with the jury’s reasonable allowance of $1,000 punitive damages on the first count. See
Cabakov v. Thatcher, 37 N.J. Super 249, 117 A.2d 298 (App. Div.74 1955).

The Court thus declares that the petitioner’s acts are against public policy as they undermine and
subvert the family as a social institution, good morals and the interest and general welfare of society.

Because the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioner’s perfidy, she is not barred
from claiming moral damages. Besides, even considerations of public policy would not prevent her
from recovery. As held in Jekshewitz v. Groswald:75

Where a person is induced by the fraudulent representation of another to do an act which, in


consequence of such misrepresentation, he believes to be neither illegal nor immoral, but which is in
fact a criminal offense, he has a right of action against the person so inducing him for damages
sustained by him in consequence of his having done such act. Burrows v. Rhodes, [1899] 1 Q.B.
816. In Cooper v. Cooper, 147 Mass. 370, 17 N.E. 892, 9 Am. St. Rep. 721, the court said that a
false representation by the defendant that he was divorced from his former wife, whereby the plaintiff
was induced to marry him, gave her a remedy in tort for deceit. It seems to have been assumed that
the fact that she had unintentionally violated the law or innocently committed a crime by cohabiting
with him would be no bar to the action, but rather that it might be a ground for enhancing her
damages. The injury to the plaintiff was said to be in her being led by the promise to give the
fellowship and assistance of a wife to one who was not her husband and to assume and act in a
relation and condition that proved to be false and ignominious. Damages for such an injury were
held to be recoverable in Sherman v. Rawson, 102 Mass. 395 and Kelley v. Riley, 106 Mass. 339,
343, 8 Am. Rep. 336.

Furthermore, in the case at bar the plaintiff does not base her cause of action upon any
transgression of the law by herself but upon the defendant’s misrepresentation. The criminal
relations which followed, innocently on her part, were but one of the incidental results of the
defendant’s fraud for which damages may be assessed.

[7] Actions for deceit for fraudulently inducing a woman to enter into the marriage relation have been
maintained in other jurisdictions. Sears v. Wegner, 150 Mich. 388, 114 N.W. 224, 17 L.R. A. (N.S.)
819; Larson v. McMillan, 99 Wash. 626, 170 P. 324; Blossom v. Barrett, 37 N.Y. 434, 97 Am. Dec.
747; Morril v. Palmer, 68 Vt. 1, 33 A. 829, 33 L.R.A. 411. Considerations of public policy would not
prevent recovery where the circumstances are such that the plaintiff was conscious of no moral
turpitude, that her illegal action was induced solely by the defendant’s misrepresentation, and that
she does not base her cause of action upon any transgression of the law by herself. Such
considerations
distinguish this case from cases in which the court has refused to lend its aid to the enforcement of a
contract illegal on its face or to one who has consciously and voluntarily become a party to an illegal
act upon which the cause of action is founded. Szadiwicz v. Cantor, 257 Mass. 518, 520, 154 N.E.
251, 49 A. L. R. 958.76
Considering the attendant circumstances of the case, the Court finds the award of ₱200,000.00 for
moral damages to be just and reasonable.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of
Appeals isAFFIRMED.Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. L-66870-72 June 29, 1985

AGAPITO MAGBANUA, INENIAS MARTIZANO, CARLITO HERRERA, SR., PAQUITO LOPEZ,


AND FRANCISCO HERRERA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT (SECOND SPECIAL CASES DIVISION), EDUARDO,
BUTCH, DIEGO AND NENA All Surnamed PEREZ, respondents.

Romulo A. Deles for petitioner.

Jose Valmayor for respondents.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:

A joint decision was rendered in CAR Case Nos. 827, 828 and 829 of the defunct Court of Agrarian
Relations stationed in San Carlos City (Negros Occidental) because the six plaintiffs who are the
petitioners at bar all alleged that they are share tenants of the defendants; that the defendants
diverted the free flow of water from their farm lots which caused portions of their landholdings to dry
up to their great damage and prejudice: and that they were told by the defendants' overseer to
vacate their respective areas for they could not plant palay any longer due to lack of water. They
prayed that they be declared as leasehold tenants and that the defendants be ordered to pay
attorney's fees and different kinds of damages.

The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs as follows:

WHEREFORE, coherent with the foregoing, this Court, in judgment, hereby:

1) Declares all the plaintiffs in the above-entitled cases to be maintained as


agricultural lessees in peaceful cultivation in their respective landholdings;

2) Prohibits defendants from closing and/or disrupting the free flow of water
supplying plaintiffs' landholdings;

3) Declares the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued on February 23, 1982 to be


permanent;

4) Orders plaintiffs to seek the assistance of the Ministry of Agrarian Reforms in the
fixing of their lease rentals;

5) Orders the defendants to pay all the six plaintiffs in the above-entitled cases
individually moral and exemplary damages in the sum of TEN THOUSAND
(P10,000.00) PESOS, each;

6) Orders the defendants to pay the attorney's fees in the amount of P5,000.00; and

7) Dismiss all other claims and counterclaims of the parties for lack of merit
(Rollo, pp. 28-29.)

The defendants appealed to the Intermediate Appellate Court which in turn rendered the following
judgment:

WHEREFORE, with the modification above indicated, deleting the award of moral
and exemplary damages and attorney's fees, the decision appealed from is hereby
AFFIRMED in all other respects, with costs against appellants. (Rollo, pp. 37-38.)

In this petition, the prayer is for the reinstatement of the moral and exemplary damages and the
attorney's fees which had been awarded by the trial court on the ground that the Intermediate
Appellate Court committed a grave abuse of discretion in eliminating them.

In awarding damages and attorney's fees, the trial court said:


This Court has likewise noted the manifestation submitted by plaintiffs on June 3,
1982 wherein they have attached photographs of their dried-up landholdings and
wilted palay crops. The allegations in this pleading and the accompanying pictures
were never rebutted by the defendants.

In view of this circumstances, this Court holds the opinion that between the period of
the inspection by the PC Team on February 24, 1982 and June 13, 1982 when
plaintiffs' manifestation was filed, there has been complete closure of water supplying
plaintiffs' landholdings which resulted to the drying up of the same that greatly
hampered the healthy growth of the palay crop. This Court does not believe that the
disruption of the water supply which led to the very poor harvest is due to the
fault/negligence of the plaintiffs.

Under the law, the landowner has an obligation to keep the tenant in the peaceful
and continuous cultivation of his landholding. A disturbance of possession, such as
the act complained of, is violative of the law.

The Honorable Court of Appeals, thru Associate Justice Porfirio V. Sison, in June 23,
1982, promulgated a decision in the case of Buenaventura Garcia, plaintiff-appellant,
vs. Eduardo Jalandoni, Salud Garcia and Chester Garcia, defendant-appellees,
which ruling is relevant to the above-entitled cases when the said Honorable Court
state:

The law forbids the use of tenants like balls on a pool table, whacked
and volleyed and pocketed at the whim and caprice of the player, or
their positions placed on the auction block like slaves to be sold to the
highest bidder. Such a calamitous situation erode wholehearted
dedication to the soil; it is destructive of the system itself, as such an
attitude takes away the freedom the emancipated tenants won under
the aegis of the New Republic.

The plaintiff-appellant is entitled to moral damages in the sum of


P5,000.00 and exemplary damages in the further sum of P5,000.00
to be paid by defendant Eduardo Jalandoni. Let this be a warning to
those who flout the lofty purpose of the agrarian reform program.

Plaintiffs have all their legal rights to protect their interests under the law in filing
these cases, for what the defendants have done to them, and as such they are
entitled attorney's fees. (Rollo, pp. 27-28.)

Upon the other hand, in deleting the questioned award the Intermediate Appellate Court said:

However, We are not inclined to sustain the award of moral and exemplary damages,
as well as attorney's fees. There is no evidence showing that, in dealing with
plaintiffs, defendants acted fraudulently or in bad faith. There is no showing either
that attorney's fees are recoverable under Art: 2208, Civil Code. (Rollo, P. 37.)

Under the facts of the case, the plaintiffs (now petitioners) are entitled to a measure of moral
damages. Article 2219 of the Civil Code permits the award of moral damages for acts mentioned in
Article 21 of the same code and the latter stipulates that: "Any person who wilfully causes loss or
injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall
compensate the latter for the damage."

It appears that the petitioners were denied irrigation water for their farm lots in order to make them
vacate their landholdings. The defendants violated the plaintiffs' rights and caused prejudice to the
latter by the unjustified diversion of the water.

The petitioners are also entitled to exemplary damages because the defendants acted in an
oppressive manner. (See Art.2232. Civil Code.)

It follows from the foregoing that the petitioners are also entitled to attorney's fees but the size of the
fees as well as the damages is subject to the sound discretion of the court.
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted; the decision under review is modified and each of the
plaintiffs is entitled to the following to be paid by the defendants jointly and severally:

Moral damages — P1,000.00

Exemplarly damages — 500.00

Attorney's fees — 1,000.00


P2,500.00

The costs shall be assessed against the private respondents.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 57227 May 14, 1992


AMELITA CONSTANTINO and MICHAEL CONSTANTINO, the latter represented herein by the former, his mother and natural
guardian, petitioners,
vs.
IVAN MENDEZ and the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

Roberto M. Sarenas for petitioners.

Bienvinido D. Cariaga for private respondent.

BIDIN, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari questioning the decision1 dated April 30, 1981 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 61552-R
which dismissed petitioner's complaint and set aside the resolution2 dated October 21, 1976 of the then Court of First Instance of Davao,
16th Judicial District, amending the dispositive portion of its decision dated June 21, 1976 and ordering private respondent Ivan Mendez: (1)
to acknowledge the minor Michael Constantino as his illegitimate child; (2) to give a monthly support of P300.00 to the minor child; (3) to pay
complainant Amelita Constantino the sum of P8,200.00 as actual and moral damages; and (4) to pay attorney's fees in the sum of P5,000
plus costs.

It appears on record that on June 5, 1975, petitioner Amelita Constantino filed an action for acknowledgment, support and damages against
private respondent Ivan Mendez. The case was filed with the then CFI of Davao, 10th Judicial District and docketed as Civil Case No. 8881.
In her complaint, Amelita Constantino alleges, among others, that sometime in the month of August, 1974, she met Ivan Mendez at Tony's
Restaurant located at Sta. Cruz, Manila, where she worked as a waitress; that the day following their first meeting, Ivan invited Amelita to
dine with him at Hotel Enrico where he was billeted; that while dining, Ivan professed his love and courted Amelita; that Amelita asked for
time to think about Ivan's proposal; that at about 11:00 o'clock in the evening, Amelita asked Ivan to bring her home to which the latter
agreed, that on the pretext of getting something, Ivan brought Amelita inside his hotel room and through a promise of marriage succeeded in
having sexual intercourse with the latter; that after the sexual contact, Ivan confessed to Amelita that he is a married man; that they repeated
their sexual contact in the months of September and November, 1974, whenever Ivan is in Manila, as a result of which Amelita got pregnant;
that her pleas for help and support fell on deaf ears; that Amelita had no sexual relations with any other man except Ivan who is the father of
the child yet to be born at the time of the filing of the complaint; that because of her pregnancy, Amelita was forced to leave her work as a
waitress; that Ivan is a prosperous businessman of Davao City with a monthly income of P5,000 to P8,000. As relief, Amelita prayed for the
recognition of the unborn child, the payment of actual, moral and exemplary damages, attorney's fees plus costs.

In his answer dated August 5, 1975, Ivan admitted that he met Amelita at Tony's Cocktail Lounge but denied having sexual knowledge or
illicit relations with her. He prayed for the dismissal of the complaint for lack of cause of action. By way of counterclaim, he further prayed for
the payment of exemplary damages and litigation expense including attorney's fees for the filing of the malicious complaint.

On September 1, 1975, Amelita Constantino filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint impleading as co-plaintiff her son Michael
Constantino who was born on August 3, 1975. In its order dated September 4, 1975, the trial court admitted the amended complaint.

On September 11, 1975, Ivan Mendez filed his answer to the amended complaint reiterating his previous answer denying that Michael
Constantino is his illegitimate son.

After hearing, the trial court rendered a decision dated June 21, 1976, the dispositive portion of which reads, viz:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff Amelita Constantino and
against defendant Ivan Mendez, ordering the latter to pay Amelita Constantino the sum of P8,000.00 by way of actual
and moral damages; and, the sum of P3,000.00, as and by way of attorney's fees. The defendant shall pay the costs of
this suit.

SO ORDERED.

From the above decision, both parties filed their separate motion for reconsideration. Ivan Mendez anchored his motion on the ground that
the award of damages was not supported by evidence. Amelita Constantino, on the other hand, sought the recognition and support of her
son Michael Constantino as the illegitimate son of Ivan Mendez.

In its resolution dated October 21, 1976, the trial court granted Amelita Constantino's motion for reconsideration, and amended the
dispositive portion of its decision dated June 21, 1976 to read as follows, viz:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff Amelita Constantino and
plaintiff-minor Michael Constantino, and against defendant Ivan Mendez ordering the latter to pay Amelita Constantino
the sum of P8,000.00 by way of actual and moral damages and the sum of P200.00 as and by way of payment of the
hospital and medical bills incurred during the delivery of plaintiff-minor Michael Constantino; to recognize as his own
illegitimate child the plaintiff-minor Michael Constantino who shall be entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits
appertaining to a child of such status; to give a permanent monthly support in favor of plaintiff Michael Constantino the
amount of P300.00; and the sum of P5,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees. The defendant shall pay the costs of
this suit.

Let this Order form part of the decision dated June 21, 1976.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the above amended decision was set aside and the complaint was dismissed. Hence, this petition for
review.

Basically, the issue to be resolved in the case at bar is whether or not the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in setting aside the
decision of the trial court and in dismissing the complaint.
Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the factual findings of the trial and in not affirming the decision of the trial
court. They also pointed out that the appellate court committed a misapprehension of facts when it concluded that Ivan did not have sexual
access with Amelita during the first or second week of November, 1976 (should be 1974), the time of the conception of the child.

It must be stressed at the outset that factual findings of the trial court have only a persuasive and not a conclusive effect on the Court of
Appeals. In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, it is the duty of the Court of Appeals to review the factual findings of the trial court and
rectify the errors it committed as may have been properly assigned and as could be established by a re-examination of the evidence on
record. It is the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, not those of the trial court, that as a rule are considered final and conclusive even on
this Court (Hermo v. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., 155 SCRA 24 [1987]). This being a petition for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, this Court will review only errors of law committed by the Court of Appeals. It is not the function of this Court to re-examine all over
again the oral and documentary evidence submitted by the parties unless the findings of facts of the Court of Appeals is not supported by the
evidence on record or the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts (Remalante v. Tibe, et al., 158 SCRA 138 [1988]; Hernandez v.
Court of Appeals, et al., 149 SCRA 97 [1987]).

It is the conclusion of the Court of Appeals, based on the evidence on record, that Amelita Constantino has not proved by clear and
convincing evidence her claim that Ivan Mendez is the father of her son Michael Constantino. Such conclusion based on the evaluation of the
evidence on record is controlling on this Court as the same is supported by the evidence on record. Even the trial court initially entertained
such posture. It ordered the recognition of Michael as the illegitimate son of Ivan only when acting on the motions for reconsideration, it
reconsidered, on October 21, 1976, its earlier decision dated June 21, 1976. Amelita's testimony on cross-examination that she had sexual
contact with Ivan in Manila in the first or second week of November, 1974 (TSN, December 8, 1975, p. 108) is inconsistent with her response
that she could not remember the date of their last sexual intercourse in November, 1974 (Ibid, p. 106). Sexual contact of Ivan and Amelita in
the first or second week of November, 1974 is the crucial point that was not even established on direct examination as she merely testified
that she had sexual intercourse with Ivan in the months of September, October and November, 1974.

Michael Constantino is a full-term baby born on August 3, 1975 (Exhibit 6) so that as correctly pointed out by private respondent's counsel,
citing medical science (Williams Obstetrics, Tenth Ed., p. 198) to the effect that "the mean duration of actual pregnancy, counting from the
day of conception must be close to 267 days", the conception of the child (Michael) must have taken place about 267 days before August 3,
1975 or sometime in the second week of November, 1974. While Amelita testified that she had sexual contact with Ivan in November, 1974,
nevertheless said testimony is contradicted by her own evidence (Exh. F), the letter dated February 11, 1975, addressed to Ivan Mendez
requesting for a conference, prepared by her own counsel Atty. Roberto Sarenas to whom she must have confided the attendant
circumstances of her pregnancy while still fresh in her memory, informing Ivan that Amelita is four (4) months pregnant so that applying the
period of the duration of actual pregnancy, the child was conceived on or about October 11, 1974.

Petitioner's assertion that Ivan is her first and only boyfriend (TSN, December 8, 1975, p. 65) is belied by Exhibit 2, her own letter addressed
to Mrs. Mendez where she revealed the reason for her attachment to Ivan who possessed certain traits not possessed by her boyfriend. She
also confided that she had a quarrel with her boyfriend because of gossips so she left her work. An order for recognition and support may
create an unwholesome atmosphere or may be an irritant in the family or lives of the parties so that it must be issued only if paternity or
filiation is established by clear and convincing evidence. The burden of proof is on Amelita to establish her affirmative allegations that Ivan is
the father of her son. Consequently, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence establishing paternity or filiation, the complaint must be
dismissed.

As regards Amelita's claim for damages which is based on Articles 193 & 214 of the Civil Code on the theory that through Ivan's promise of
marriage, she surrendered her virginity, we cannot but agree with the Court of Appeals that more sexual intercourse is not by itself a basis for
recovery. Damages could only be awarded if sexual intercourse is not a product of voluntariness and mutual desire. At the time she met Ivan
at Tony's Restaurant, Amelita was already 28 years old and she admitted that she was attracted to Ivan (TSN, December 3, 1975, p. 83). Her
attraction to Ivan is the reason why she surrendered her womanhood. Had she been induced or deceived because of a promise of marriage,
she could have immediately severed her relation with Ivan when she was informed after their first sexual contact sometime in August, 1974,
that he was a married man. Her declaration that in the months of September, October and November, 1974, they repeated their sexual
intercourse only indicates that passion and not the alleged promise of marriage was the moving force that made her submit herself to Ivan.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is Dismissed for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
G.R.NO. L-36249 March 29, 1985

ANIANO OBAÑA, petitioner,


vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS AND ANICETO SANDOVAL, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

Petitioner seeks a review of the Decision of respondent Appellate Court (in CA-G.R. No. 44345-R)
ordering him in an action for Replevin to return to Aniceto SANDOVAL, private respondent herein,
170 cavans of rice or to pay its value in the amount of P37.25 per cavan, with legal interest from the
filing of the Complaint until fully paid.

SANDOVAL is the owner and manager of the "Sandoval and Sons Rice Mill" located in Rosales,
Pangasinan. He is engaged in the buying and selling of palay.

On November 21, 1964, SANDOVAL was approached by a certain Chan Lin who offered to
purchase from him 170 cavans of clean rice (wagwag variety) at the price of P37.26 per cavan,
delivery to be made the following day at petitioner's store in San Fernando, La Union, with payment
to be made thereat by Chan Lin to SANDOVAL's representative. SANDOVAL accepted the offer as
he knew petitioner and had had previous transactions with him.

As agreed, the 170 cavans of rice were transported the following day on a truck belonging to
SANDOVAL to petitioner's store in San Fernando, La Union. Chan Lin accompanied the shipment.
Upon arrival thereat, the goods were unloaded but when the truck driver attempted to collect the
purchase price from Chan Lin, the latter was nowhere to be found. The driver tried to collect from
petitioner, but the latter refused stating that he had purchase the goods from Chan Lin at P33.00 per
cavan and that the price therefore had already been paid to Chan Lin.

Further demands having been met with refusal, SANDOVAL, as plaintiff, filed suit for replevin
against petitioner, then the defendant, before the Municipal Court of San Fernando, La Union, which
ordered petitioner-defendant to pay to SANDOVAL one-half (½) of the cost of the rice or P2,805.00.

On appeal by petitioner-defendant to the then Court of First Instance of La Union, the parties agreed
to adopt SANDOVAL's testimony before the Municipal Court. After trial de novo, judgment was
rendered dismissing the complaint against petitioner-defendant.

On appeal to respondent Appellate Court, SANDOVAL obtained a reversal in his favor, as follows:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby set aside and another one entered
ordering defendant-appellee to return the one hundred and seventy cavans of rice to
plaintiff- appellant or to pay its value in the amount of P 37.25 per cavan, with legal
interest from the filing of the complaint until fully paid and with costs against the
appellee. 1

Before us, petitioner-defendant takes issue with the following Appellate Court findings:

From the evidence presented by the parties, it is evident that this is a simple case of
swindling perpetuated by Chan Lin at the expense of the plaintiff and the defendant.
The act of Chan Lin in purchasing plaintiff's rice at the price of P 37.25 per cavan and
thereafter offering the same goods to defendant at a much lower price is an
indication that it was never his intention to comply with his obligation to plaintiff. It is
clear that Chan Lin's only purpose in entering into said contract with plaintiff was to
acquire the physical possession of the goods and then to pass them on to defendant
on the pretext that he is the owner thereof. Premises considered, therefore, Chan Lin
cannot be considered as the owner of the goods at the time the same was said to
have been sold to the defendant-appellee. Considering that defendant acquired the
170 cavans of rice from a person who is not the owner thereof, it is therefore clear
that he acquired no greater right than his predecessor-in-interest.
Finally, on principle of equity, it is but proper that plaintiff-appellant be allowed to
recover the one-hundred and seventy cavans of rice or its value. Being the
undisputed owner of the above mentioned goods, the appellant cannot be deprived
of its ownership without the corresponding payment. 2

We agree with petitioner-defendant that there was a perfected sale. Article 1475 of the Civil Code
lays down the general rule that there is perfection when there is consent upon the subject matter and
price, even if neither is delivered.

The contract of sale is perfected at the moment there is a meeting of minds upon the
thing which is the object of the contract and upon the price.

xxx xxx xxx

Ownership of the rice, too, was transferred to the vendee, Chan Lin, upon its delivery to him at San
Fernando, La Union, the place stipulated 3 and pursuant to Articles 1477 and 1496 of the same
Code:

Art. 1477. The ownership of the thing sold shall be transferred to the vendee upon
the actual or constructive delivery thereof.

Art. 1496. The ownership of the thing sold is acquired by the vendee from the
moment it is delivered to him in any of the ways specified in Articles 1497 to 1501, or
in any manner signifying an agreement that the possession is transferred from the
vendor to the vendee.

At the very least, Chan Lin had a rescissible title to the goods for the non-payment of the purchase
price, but which had not been rescinded at the time of the sale to petitioner.

However, from petitioner-defendant's own testimony before the Court of First


Instance, he admits that three days after the delivery, he was repaid the sum of
P5,600.00 by Chan Lin, who was then accompanied by SANDOVAL's driver, and
that he had delivered the rice back to them. On rebuttal, however, the driver denied
that the rice had ever been returned. 4 The driver's version is the more credible, for,
as SANDOVAL's counsel had manifested in open Court, if return of the rice had been
effected, they would have withdrawn the complaint. 5 Following is the admission
made by petitioner-defendant:

Q After the third day ... when that request for you to hold the rice was
already overdue, what happened?

A This is what happened. Chan Lin and the driver with the same truck
that they used to unload the rice, came to me.

Q What day was that?

A That was I think, Thursday, about 4:30 P.M.

Q Do you know the date?

A November 26, I think.

Q What did they do when this driver and Mr. Chan Lin came back?

A They told me that they wanted the rice back and give my money
back.

Q Did they give you your money back?

A Yes.

Q How much?
A They gave me P5.600.

COURT:

Q They gave you that amount?

A Yes, sir.

ATTY. GUALBERTO:

Q Did they tell you why they were getting back the rice and giving you
back your money?

A Yes. The complete rice, and Vallo (SANDOVAL's driver) told me,
he wanted to return the rice to the ricemill, that is what Vallo and the
Chinese agreed with Aniceto Sandoval.

Q Did the Chinese tell you that he made agreement with Sandoval to
get back the rice?

A Yes.

COURT:

Q Did you receive the money?

A Yes , sir6

Having been repaid the purchases price by Chan Lin , the sale, as between them, had been
voluntarily rescinded, and petitioner-defendant was thereby divested of any claim to the rice.
Technically, therefore, he should return the rice to Chan Lin, but since even the latter, again from
petitioner-defendant's own testimony above-quoted, was ready to return the rice to SANDOVAL, and
the latter's driver denies that the rice had been returned by petitioner-defendant cannot be allowed to
unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another by holding on to property no longer belonging to
him.7 In law and in equity, therefore, SANDOVAL is entitled to recover the rice, or the value theref
since hewas not paid the price therefor.

WHEREFORE, albeit on a different premise, the judgment under review is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-35697-99 April 15, 1988

ELADlA DE LIMA, POTENCIANO REQUIJO, NEMESIO FLORES, REYNALDO REQUIJO,


DOMINADOR REQUIJO and MARIO REQUIJO, petitioners,
vs.
LAGUNA TAYABAS CO., CLARO SAMONTE, SANTIAGO SYJUCO, INC., (SEVEN-UP
BOTTLING CO., OF THE PHILIPPINES) and PORVENIR ABAJAR BARRETO, respondents.

Leon O. Ty, Gesmundo and Gesmundo and Renato B. Vasquez for petitioners.

Domingo E. de Lara and Associates for respondents.

GANCAYCO, J.:

Before Us is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision De Lima vs. Laguna Tayabas Co. of the Court of Appeals 1 affirming the
decision of the court a quowith modification to include an award of legal interest on the amounts adjudged in favor of the petitioners from the
date of the decision of the Court of Appeals to the time of actual payment.

This present action arose from a collision between a passenger bus of the Laguna Tayabas Bus Co.
(LTB) and a delivery truck of the Seven-up Bottling Co. of the Philippines which took place on June
3, 1958 resulting in the death of Petra de la Cruz and serious physical injuries of Eladia de Lima and
Nemesio Flores, all passengers of the LTB bus. Three civil suits were filed against herein
respondents which were consolidated for trial before the Court of First Instance of Laguna (San
Pablo City).

On December 27, 1963, the court a quo rendered its decision, the dispositive part of which reads as
follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby


rendered against the defendants LTB Co. Inc. and Claro Samonte, who are hereby
ordered to pay jointly and severally, the resolve plaintiffs.

In Civil Case No. SP-239; Plaintiff Eladia de Lima:

.
1
For loss P960.00
of money
and
medical
expenses.

2. For loss
of
earnings
from June
3, 1958 to

November . 924.00
3, 1958

3. For
expenses
of
litigation
and
attorney's

fees .
.1,000.00

TOTAL P
2,884.00
In Civil Case No. SP-240; Plaintiffs Requijos:

1
For the P 3,883.82
death of
Petra de
la Cruz

including
funeral
expenses

2 For the 800.00


money
lost
during
the trip

3 Moral
damages
for
mental
anguish

(of 3,000.00
Mercado
vs. Lira,
et al.)

4 For the
loss of
earning
capacity
for

5 years 8,000.00

5 For
expenses
of
litigation
and

attorney's 2,500.00
fees

TOTAL P18,183.82

In Civil Case No. SP-268: To Plaintiff Nemesio Flores:

1
. For loss
of
earning
capacity
for

5 year
from
June 3,
1958 at
the

rate of P 3,680.00
P228.00
a month
2. For
expenses
of
litigation
and

attorney's 1,000.00
fees.

TOTAL P14,680.00

Plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. SP-239 and SP-240 filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision
seeking an award of legal interest on the amounts adjudged in their favor from the date of the said
decision but their motion was not acted upon by the court a quo.

All of the plaintiffs voluntarily desisted from appealing the decision by reason of financial necessity
and in the hope that the defendants LTB Co. and its driver Claro Samonte will be persuaded to make
immediate payment to them as adjudged by the court a quo. Only the said defendants appealed the
decision to the Court of Appeals.

In the motion of petitioners dated December 29, 1971 filed with the Court of Appeals, 2 they sought
for an immediate decision of the case with a prayer for the granting of legal interest from the date of
the decision of the court a quoand for the increase to P12,000.00 of the civil indemnity of P3,000.00
awarded for the death of Petra de la Cruz.

On January 31, 1972, the now disputed decision of the Court of Appeals was promulgated. 3

Petitioners moved for a reconsideration of this decision 4 seeking its modification so that the legal
interest awarded by the Appellate, Court will start to run from the date of the decision of the trial
court on December 27, 1963 instead of January 31, 1972, the date of the decision of the Court of
Appeals. Petitioner potenciano Requijo as heir of the deceased Petra de la Cruz further sought an
increase in the civil indemnity of P3,000.00 to P 12,000.00.

The Appellate Court denied the motion for reconsideration holding that since the plaintiffs did not
appeal from the failure of the court a quo to award interest on the damages and that the court on its
own discretion awarded such interest in view of Art. 2210 of the Civil Code, the effectivity of the
interest should not be rolled back to the time the decision of the court a quo was rendered. 5

Hence this petition.

The assignment of errors raised the following issues, to wit:

1) Whether or not the Court of Appeal; erred in granting legal interest on damages to start only from
the date of its decision instead of from the date of the trial court's decision;

2) Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in not increasing the indemnity for the death of Petra
de La Cruz (in Civil Case No. SP-240) from P3,000 to P12,000.00.

We find merit in the petition.

Under the first issue, petitioners contend that the ruling of she Appellate Court departs from the
consistent rulings of this court that the award of the legal rate of interest should be computed from
the promulgation of the decision of the tonal court.

Respondents counter that petitioners having failed to appeal from the lower court's decision they. are
now precluded from questioning the ruling of the Court of Appeals.

It is true that the rule is well-settled that a party cannot impugn the correctness of a judgment not
appealed from by him, and while he may make counter assignment of errors, he can do so only to
sustain the judgment on other grounds but not to seek modification or reversal thereof, 6 for in such
case he must appeal. 7 A party who does not appeal from the decision may not obtain any affirmative
relief from the appellate court other than what he has obtained from the lower court, if any, whose
decision is brought up on appeal. 8

However, respondents failed to note that the legal interest was awarded by the Appellate Court in its
discretion based on equitable grounds which is duly sanctioned by Art. 2210 of the Civil Code which
provides —

Interest may, in the discretion of the court, be allowed upon damages awarded for
breach of contract.

Thus, the Appellate Court pointed out —

A further examination of the record will also show that the plaintiffs in Civil Cases
Nos. SP-239 and SP-240 moved for the reconsideration of the decision appealed
from to include the award of legal interest on the amounts adjudicated from the date
of the decision, but said motion was not acted upon by the court a quo. Although said
plaintiffs failed to appeal on this issue, and did not file their brief to reiterate their
claim for interest thereon, the plaintiff in Civil Case No. SP-268, Nemesio Flores, filed
his brief and prayed for the imposition of interest from the date of the decision. We
are not left without discretion to resolve this issue, considering the provision of Article
2210, New Civil Code, stating that "Interest may, in the petition of the court, be
allowed upon damages awarded for breach of contract." There is no doubt that the
damages awarded in these civil cases arise from the breach of a contractual
obligation on the part of the defendants- appellants. But to grant the imposition of
interest on the amounts awarded to and as prayed for by one of the plaintiffs and
deny the same to the others considering that the cases arose from one single
incident would be, to Our mind, unfair and inequitous. In the light, therefore, not only
of the provision of the Civil Code above referred to, but also the facts and
circumstances obtaining in these cases. We believe that on equitable grounds legal
interest, should be allowed on the amounts adjudged in favor of the plaintiffs from the
date of this decision up to the time of actual payment thereof.

Also noteworthy is the case of Fores v. Miranda 9 where this Court upheld the granting by the Court
of Appeals of attorney's fees even if the respondent, a jeepney passenger injured in a vehicular
accident, did not appeal from the decision of the trial court. The Appellate Court found the award to
be justified because the respondent asked for damages in his answer and the said court considered
the attorney's fees as included in the concept of damages which can be awarded whenever the court
deems it just and equitable (Art. 2208, Civil Code of the Philippines).

At any rate, this Court is inclined to adopt a liberal stance in this case as We have done in previous
decisions where We have held that litigations should, as much as possible be decided on their merits
and not on technicality. 10

We take note of the fact that petitioners are litigating as paupers. Although they may not have
appealed, they had filed their motion for reconsideration with the court a quo which unfortunately did
not act on it. By reason of their indigence, they failed to appeal but petitioners De Lima and Requijo
had filed their manifestation making reference to the law and jurisprudence upon which they base
their prayer for relief while petitioner Flores filed his brief.

Pleadings as well as remedial laws should be construed liberally in order that the litigants may have
ample opportunity to pursue their respective claims and that a possible denial of substantial justice
due to legal technicalities may be avoided. 11

Moreover, under the circumstances of this case where the heirs of the victim in the traffic accident
chose not to appeal in the hope that the transportation company will pay the damages awarded by
the lower court but unfortunately said company still appealed to the Court of Appeals, which step
was obviously dilatory and oppressive of the rights of the said claimants: that the case had been
pending in court for about 30 years from the date of the accident in 1958 so that as an exception to
the general rule aforestated, the said heirs who did not appeal the judgment, should be afforded
equitable relief by the courts as it must be vigilant for their protection. 12 The claim for legal interest
and increase in the indemnity should be entertained in spite of the failure of the claimants to appeal
the judgment.
We take exception to the ruling of the Appellate Court as to the date when the legal interest should
commence to ran. In view of the consistent rulings of this Court, We hold that the legal interest of six
percent (6) 13 on the amounts adjudged in favor of petitioners should start from the time of the
rendition of the trial court's decision on December 27, 1963 instead of January 31, 1972, the
promulgation of the decision of the Court of Appeals. 14

As to the second issue, civil indemnity for the death of Petra de la Cruz was properly awarded by
virtue of Art. 1764 in relation to Art. 2206 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which allows a minimum
indemnity of P3,000.00 for the death of a passenger caused by the breach of contract by a common
carrier. In accordance with prevailing jurisprudence the indemnity of P3,000.00 should be increased
to P30,000.00 and not P12,000.00 as prayed for by petitioner.

If the transportation company had only accepted the judgment of the trial court and paid its just
awards instead of appealing the same to the Court of Appeals, no further delay would have been
occasioned on the simple issue of interest and indemnity. To mitigate the impact of such a great
delay in this case the Court finds ample justification in the aforesaid award for interest and indemnity.
We hope this relief is not too late.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED, the subject decision is modified in that the legal
interest on the damages awarded to petitioners commences from the date of the decision of the
court a quo until actual payment while the civil indemnity for the death of Petra de la Cruz is
increased to P 30,000.00. This judgment is immediately executory and no motion for extension of
time to file motion for reconsideration shall be entertained.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 164349 January 31, 2006

RADIO COMMUNICATIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (RCPI),Petitioner,


vs.
ALFONSO VERCHEZ, GRACE VERCHEZ-INFANTE, MARDONIO INFANTE, ZENAIDA VERCHEZ-
CATIBOG, AND FORTUNATO CATIBOG, Respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

On January 21, 1991, Editha Hebron Verchez (Editha) was confined at the Sorsogon Provincial Hospital
due to an ailment. On even date, her daughter Grace Verchez-Infante (Grace) immediately hied to the
Sorsogon Branch of the Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI) whose services she
engaged to send a telegram to her sister Zenaida Verchez-Catibog (Zenaida) who was residing at 18
Legal St., GSIS Village, Quezon City1 reading: "Send check money Mommy hospital." For RCPI’s
services, Grace paid P10.502 for which she was issued a receipt.3

As three days after RCPI was engaged to send the telegram to Zenaida no response was received from
her, Grace sent a letter to Zenaida, this time thru JRS Delivery Service, reprimanding her for not sending
any financial aid.

Immediately after she received Grace’s letter, Zenaida, along with her husband Fortunato Catibog, left on
January 26, 1991 for Sorsogon. On her arrival at Sorsogon, she disclaimed having received any telegram.

In the meantime, Zenaida and her husband, together with her mother Editha left for Quezon City on
January 28, 1991 and brought Editha to the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City where she was
confined from January 30, 1991 to March 21, 1991.

The telegram was finally delivered to Zenaida 25 days later or on February 15, 1991.4 On inquiry from
RCPI why it took that long to deliver it, a messenger of RCPI replied that he had nothing to do with the
delivery thereof as it was another messenger who previously was assigned to deliver the same but the
address could not be located, hence, the telegram was resent on February 2, 1991, and the second
messenger finally found the address on February 15, 1991.

Editha’s husband Alfonso Verchez (Verchez), by letter of March 5, 1991,5 demanded an explanation from
the manager of the Service Quality Control Department of the RCPI, Mrs. Lorna D. Fabian, who replied,
by letter of March 13, 1991,6 as follows:

Our investigation on this matter disclosed that subject telegram was duly processed in accordance with
our standard operating procedure. However, delivery was not immediately effected due to the occurrence
of circumstances which were beyond the control and foresight of RCPI. Among others, during the
transmission process, the radio link connecting the points of communication involved encountered radio
noise and interferences such that subject telegram did not initially registered (sic) in the receiving
teleprinter machine.

Our internal message monitoring led to the discovery of the above. Thus, a repeat transmission was
made and subsequent delivery was effected. (Underscoring supplied)

Verchez’s lawyer thereupon wrote RCPI’s manager Fabian, by letter of July 23, 1991,7 requesting for a
conference on a specified date and time, but no representative of RCPI showed up at said date and time.

On April 17, 1992, Editha died.

On September 8, 1993, Verchez, along with his daughters Grace and Zenaida and their respective
spouses, filed a complaint against RCPI before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sorsogon for damages.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that, inter alia, the delay in delivering the telegram contributed to
the early demise of the late Editha to their damage and prejudice,8 for which they prayed for the award of
moral and exemplary damages9 and attorney’s fees.10

After its motion to dismiss the complaint for improper venue11 was denied12 by Branch 5 of the RTC of
Sorsogon, RCPI filed its answer, alleging that except with respect to Grace, 13 the other plaintiffs had no
privity of contract with it; any delay in the sending of the telegram was due to force majeure, "specifically,
but not limited to, radio noise and interferences which adversely affected the transmission and/or
reception of the telegraphic message";14 the clause in the Telegram Transmission Form signed by Grace
absolved it from liability for any damage arising from the transmission other than the refund of telegram
tolls;15 it observed due diligence in the selection and supervision of its employees; and at all events, any
cause of action had been barred by laches.16

The trial court, observing that "although the delayed delivery of the questioned telegram was not
apparently the proximate cause of the death of Editha," ruled out the presence of force majeure.
Respecting the clause in the telegram relied upon by RCPI, the trial court held that it partakes of the
nature of a contract of adhesion.

Finding that the nature of RCPI’s business obligated it to dispatch the telegram to the addressee at the
earliest possible time but that it did not in view of the negligence of its employees to repair its radio
transmitter and the concomitant delay in delivering the telegram on time, the trial court, upon the following
provisions of the Civil Code, to wit:

Article 2176 – Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being at fault or negligence,
is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence if there is no pre-existing contractual
relation between the parties, is called quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.

Article 1173 defines the fault of (sic) negligence of the obligor as the "omission of the diligence which is
required by the nature of the obligation and corresponds with the circumstances of the person, of the
time, or the place."

In the instant case, the obligation of the defendant to deliver the telegram to the addressee is of an urgent
nature. Its essence is the early delivery of the telegram to the concerned person. Yet, due to the
negligence of its employees, the defendant failed to discharge of its obligation on time making it liable for
damages under Article 2176.

The negligence on the part of the employees gives rise to the presumption of negligence on the part of
the employer.17 (Underscoring supplied),

rendered judgment against RCPI. Accordingly, it disposed:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs
and against the defendant, to wit:

Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiffs the following amount:

1. The amount of One Hundred Thousand (P100,000.00) Pesos as moral damages;

2. The amount of Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) Pesos as attorney’s fees; and

3. To pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.18

On appeal, the Court of Appeals, by Decision of February 27, 2004, 19 affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Hence, RCPI’s present petition for review on certiorari, it raising the following questions: (1) "Is the award
of moral damages proper even if the trial court found that there was no direct connection between the
injury and the alleged negligent acts?"20 and (2) "Are the stipulations in the ‘Telegram Transmission
Form,’ in the nature "contracts of adhesion" (sic)?21

RCPI insists that respondents failed to prove any causal connection between its delay in transmitting the
telegram and Editha’s death.22

RCPI’s stand fails. It bears noting that its liability is anchored on culpa contractual or breach of contract
with regard to Grace, and on tort with regard to her co-plaintiffs-herein-co-respondents.

Article 1170 of the Civil Code provides:

Those who in the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence, or delay, and those who
in any manner contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages. (Underscoring supplied)

Passing on this codal provision, this Court explained:


In culpa contractual x x x the mere proof of the existence of the contract and the failure of its compliance
justify, prima facie, a corresponding right of relief. The law, recognizing the obligatory force of contracts,
will not permit a party to be set free from liability for any kind of misperformance of the contractual
undertaking or a contravention of the tenor thereof. A breach upon the contract confers upon the injured
party a valid cause for recovering that which may have been lost or suffered. The remedy serves to
preserve the interests of the promissee that may include his "expectation interest," which is his interest
in having the benefit of his bargain by being put in as good a position as he would have been in had the
contract been performed, or his "reliance interest," which is his interest in being reimbursed for loss
caused by reliance on the contract by being put in as good a position as he would have been in had the
contract not been made; or his "restitution interest," which is his interest in having restored to him any
benefit that he has conferred on the other party. Indeed, agreements can accomplish little, either for their
makers or for society, unless they are made the basis for action. The effect of every infraction is to create
a new duty, that is, to make recompense to the one who has been injured by the failure of another to
observe his contractual obligation unless he can show extenuating circumstances, like proof of his
exercise of due diligence x x x or of the attendance of fortuitous event, to excuse him from his
ensuing liability.23 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

In the case at bar, RCPI bound itself to deliver the telegram within the shortest possible time. It took 25
days, however, for RCPI to deliver it.

RCPI invokes force majeure, specifically, the alleged radio noise and interferences which adversely
affected the transmission and/or reception of the telegraphic message. Additionally, its messenger
claimed he could not locate the address of Zenaida and it was only on the third attempt that he was able
to deliver the telegram.

For the defense of force majeure to prosper,

x x x it is necessary that one has committed no negligence or misconduct that may have occasioned the
loss. An act of God cannot be invoked to protect a person who has failed to take steps to forestall the
possible adverse consequences of such a loss. One’s negligence may have concurred with an act of God
in producing damage and injury to another; nonetheless, showing that the immediate or proximate cause
of the damage or injury was a fortuitous event would not exempt one from liability. When the effect is
found to be partly the result of a person’s participation – whether by active intervention, neglect
or failure to act – the whole occurrence is humanized and removed from the rules applicable to
acts of God.

xxxx

Article 1174 of the Civil Code states that no person shall be responsible for a fortuitous event that could
not be foreseen or, though foreseen, was inevitable. In other words, there must be an exclusion of
human intervention from the cause of injury or loss.24 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Assuming arguendo that fortuitous circumstances prevented RCPI from delivering the telegram at the
soonest possible time, it should have at least informed Grace of the non-transmission and the non-
delivery so that she could have taken steps to remedy the situation. But it did not. There lies the fault or
negligence.

In an earlier case also involving RCPI, this Court held:

Considering the public utility of RCPI’s business and its contractual obligation to transmit messages, it
should exercise due diligence to ascertain that messages are delivered to the persons at the given
address and should provide a system whereby in cases of undelivered messages the sender is given
notice of non-delivery. Messages sent by cable or wireless means are usually more
important and urgent than those which can wait for the mail.25

xxxx

People depend on telecommunications companies in times of deep emotional stress or pressing


financial needs. Knowing that messages about the illnesses or deaths of loved ones, births or marriages
in a family, important business transactions, and notices of conferences or meetings as in this case, are
coursed through the petitioner and similar corporations, it is incumbent upon them to exercise a greater
amount of care and concern than that shown in this case. Every reasonable effort to inform senders of the
non-delivery of messages should be undertaken.26

(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)


RCPI argues, however, against the presence of urgency in the delivery of the telegram, as well as the
basis for the award of moral damages, thus:27

The request to send check as written in the telegraphic text negates the existence of urgency that private
respondents’ allegations that ‘time was of the essence’ imports. A check drawn against a Manila Bank
and transmitted to Sorsogon, Sorsogon will have to be deposited in a bank in Sorsogon and pass thru a
minimum clearing period of 5 days before it may be encashed or withdrawn. If the transmittal of the
requested check to Sorsogon took 1 day – private respondents could therefore still wait for 6 days before
the same may be withdrawn. Requesting a check that would take 6 days before it could be withdrawn
therefore contradicts plaintiff’s claim of urgency or need.28

At any rate, any sense of urgency of the situation was met when Grace Verchez was able to
communicate to Manila via a letter that she sent to the same addressee in Manila thru JRS.29

xxxx

As far as the respondent court’s award for moral damages is concerned, the same has no
basis whatsoever since private respondent Alfonso Verchez did not accompany his late wife when the
latter went to Manila by bus. He stayed behind in Sorsogon for almost 1 week before he proceeded to
Manila. 30

When pressed on cross-examination, private respondent Alfonso Verchez could not give any plausible
reason as to the reason why he did not accompany his ailing wife to Manila. 31

xxxx

It is also important to consider in resolving private respondents’ claim for moral damages that
private respondent Grace Verchez did not accompany her ailing mother to Manila.32

xxxx

It is the common reaction of a husband to be at his ailing wife’s side as much as possible. The fact that
private respondent Alfonso Verchez stayed behind in Sorsogon for almost 1 week convincingly
demonstrates that he himself knew that his wife was not in critical condition.33

(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

RCPI’s arguments fail. For it is its breach of contract upon which its liability is, it bears repeating,
anchored. Since RCPI breached its contract, the presumption is that it was at fault or negligent. It,
however, failed to rebut this presumption.

For breach of contract then, RCPI is liable to Grace for damages.

And for quasi-delict, RCPI is liable to Grace’s co-respondents following Article 2176 of the Civil Code
which provides:

Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay
for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the
parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. (Underscoring supplied)

RCPI’s liability as an employer could of course be avoided if it could prove that it observed the diligence
of a good father of a family to prevent damage. Article 2180 of the Civil Code so provides:

The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omissions, but also
for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

xxxx

The owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise are likewise responsible for damages
caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the latter are employed or on the
occasion of their functions.
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting
within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business or
industry.

xxxx

The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they
observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage. (Underscoring supplied)

RCPI failed, however, to prove that it observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent
damage.

Respecting the assailed award of moral damages, a determination of the presence of the following
requisites to justify the award is in order:

x x x firstly, evidence of besmirched reputation or physical, mental or psychological suffering sustained by


the claimant; secondly, a culpable act or omission factually established; thirdly, proof that the wrongful act
or omission of the defendant is the proximate cause of damages sustained by the claimant; and fourthly,
that the case is predicated on any of the instances expressed or envisioned by Article 2219 and Article
2220 of the Civil Code.34

Respecting the first requisite, evidence of suffering by the plaintiffs-herein respondents was correctly
appreciated by the CA in this wise:

The failure of RCPI to deliver the telegram containing the message of appellees on time, disturbed their
filial tranquillity. Family members blamed each other for failing to respond swiftly to an emergency that
involved the life of the late Mrs. Verchez, who suffered from diabetes.35

As reflected in the foregoing discussions, the second and third requisites are present.

On the fourth requisite, Article 2220 of the Civil Code provides:

Willful injury to property may be a legal ground for awarding moral damages if the court should find that,
under the circumstances, such damages are justly due. The same rule applies to breaches of
contract where the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith. (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

After RCPI’s first attempt to deliver the telegram failed, it did not inform Grace of the non-delivery thereof
and waited for 12 days before trying to deliver it again, knowing – as it should know – that time is of the
essence in the delivery of telegrams. When its second long-delayed attempt to deliver the telegram again
failed, it, again, waited for another 12 days before making a third attempt. Such nonchalance in
performing its urgent obligation indicates gross negligence amounting to bad faith. The fourth requisite is
thus also present.

In applying the above-quoted Article 2220, this Court has awarded moral damages in cases of breach of
contract where the defendant was guilty of gross negligence amounting to bad faith, or in wanton
disregard of his contractual obligation.36

As for RCPI’s tort-based liability, Article 2219 of the Civil Code provides:

Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:

xxxx

(10) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35. (Emphasis supplied)

Article 26 of the Civil Code, in turn, provides:

Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other
persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce
a cause of action for damages, prevention, and other relief:

xxxx
(2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another. (Emphasis supplied)

RCPI’s negligence in not promptly performing its obligation undoubtedly disturbed the peace of mind not
only of Grace but also her co-respondents. As observed by the appellate court, it disrupted the "filial
tranquillity" among them as they blamed each other "for failing to respond swiftly to an emergency." The
tortious acts and/or omissions complained of in this case are, therefore, analogous to acts mentioned
under Article 26 of the Civil Code, which are among the instances of quasi-delict when courts may award
moral damages under Article 2219 of the Civil Code.

In fine, the award to the plaintiffs-herein respondents of moral damages is in order, as is the award of
attorney’s fees, respondents having been compelled to litigate to protect their rights.

Clutching at straws, RCPI insists that the limited liability clause in the "Telegram Transmission Form" is
not a contract of adhesion. Thus it argues:

Neither can the Telegram Transmission Form be considered a contract of adhesion as held by the
respondent court. The said stipulations were all written in bold letters right in front of the Telegram
Transmission Form. As a matter of fact they were beside the space where the telegram senders write
their telegraphic messages. It would have been different if the stipulations were written at the back for
surely there is no way the sender will easily notice them. The fact that the stipulations were located in a
particular space where they can easily be seen, is sufficient notice to any sender (like Grace Verchez-
Infante) where she could manifest her disapproval, leave the RCPI station and avail of the services of the
other telegram operators.37 (Underscoring supplied)

RCPI misunderstands the nature of a contract of adhesion. Neither the readability of the stipulations nor
their physical location in the contract determines whether it is one of adhesion.

A contract of adhesion is defined as one in which one of the parties imposes a ready-made form of
contract, which the other party may accept or reject, but which the latter cannot modify. One party
prepares the stipulation in the contract, while the other party merely affixes his signature or his "adhesion"
thereto, giving no room for negotiation and depriving the latter of the opportunity to bargain on
equal footing.38 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

While a contract of adhesion is not necessarily void and unenforceable, since it is construed strictly
against the party who drafted it or gave rise to any ambiguity therein, it is stricken down as void and
unenforceable or subversive of public policy when the weaker party is imposed upon in dealing with the
dominant bargaining party and is reduced to the alternative of taking it or leaving it, completely deprived
of the opportunity to bargain on equal footing.39

This Court holds that the Court of Appeals’ finding that the parties’ contract is one of adhesion which is
void is, given the facts and circumstances of the case, thus well-taken.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals
is AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 113216 September 5, 1997

RHODORA M. LEDESMA, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and HON. MAXIMIANO C. ASUNCION, in his capacity as Presiding
Judge of RTC, Quezon City, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:

When confronted with a motion to withdraw an information on the ground of lack of probable cause
based on a resolution of the secretary of justice, the bounden duty of the trial court is to make an
independent assessment of the merits of such motion. Having acquired jurisdiction over the case,
the trial court is not bound by such resolution but is required to evaluate it before proceeding further
with the trial. While the secretary's ruling is persuasive, it is not binding on courts. A trial court,
however, commits reversible error or even grave abuse of discretion if it refuses/neglects to evaluate
such recommendation and simply insists on proceeding with the trial on the mere pretext of having
already acquired jurisdiction over the criminal action.

This principle is explained in this Decision resolving a petition for review on certiorari of the
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals,2 promulgated on September 14, 1993 in CA-G.R SP No. 30832
which in effect affirmed an order of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City denying the
prosecution's withdrawal of a criminal information against petitioner.

The Antecedent Facts

From the pleadings submitted in this case, the undisputed facts are as follows:

Sometime in April 1992, a complaint for libel was filed by Dr. Juan F. Torres, Jr. against Dr. Rhodora
M. Ledesma, petitioner herein, before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office, docketed as I.S. No. 92-
5433A. Petitioner filed her counter-affidavit to the complaint.

Finding "sufficient legal and factual basis," the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office filed on July 6, 1992
an Information for libel against petitioner with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
104.3 The Information filed by Assistant City Prosecutor Augustine A. Vestil reads:4

That on or about the 27th day of June 1991, in Quezon City, Metro Manila,
Philippines, the said accused, acting with malice, did, then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously send a letter addressed to Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral,
Director of Philippine Heart Center, East Avenue, this city, and furnished the same to
other officers of the said hospital, said letter containing slanderous and defamatory
remarks against DR. JUAN F. TORRES, JR., which states in part, to wit:

27 June 1991

Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral


Director

Subject: Return of all professional fees


due Dr.
Rhodora M. Ledesma, Nuclear
Medicine
Specialist/Consultant, Philippine Heart
Center, from January 31, 1989 to
January 31,
1991.

Respondents: Dr. Juan F. Torres, Jr.,


Chief, Nuclear
Medicine Section
Dr. Orestes P. Monzon,
Staff Consultant

Dear Dr. Cabral,

This is to demand the return of all professional fees due me as a


consultant in Nuclear Medicine, this Center, since January 31, 1989
until my resignation effective January 31, 1991, amounting to at least
P100,000.00 for the year 1990 alone. Records in the Nuclear
Medicine Section will show that from January 1989 to January 1991,
a total of 2,308 patients were seen. Of these, I had officially
supervised, processed, and interpreted approximately a total of 1,551
cases as against approximately 684 and 73 cases done by Dr.
Monzon and Dr. Torres respectively.

Until my resignation I had received a monthly share of professional


fees averaging P1,116.90/month supposedly representing 20% of the
total monthly professional fees. The rest were divided equally
between Dr. Monzon and Dr. Torres. There was never any
agreement between us three consultants that this should be the
arrangement and I am certain that this was not with your approval.
The burden of unfairness would have been lesser if there was an
equal distribution of labor and the schedule of duties were strictly
followed. As it was, the schedule of duties submitted monthly to the
office of the Asst. Director for Medical Services was simply a dummy
to comply with administrative requirements rather than a guideline for
strict compliance. Both consultants have complete daily time records
even if they did not come regularly. Dr. Torres came for an hour every
week, Dr. Monzon came sporadically during the week while I was left
with everything from training the residents and supervising the Techs
to processing and interpreting the results on a regular basis. I had a
part time appointment just like Dr. Monzon and Dr. Torres.

In the interest of fairness and to set a precedent for the protection of


future PHC Nuclear Medicine Alumni I am calling your attention to the
unfair and inhuman conditions I went through as a Consultant in that
Section. I trust that your sense of professionalism will put a stop to
this corruption.

I suggest that a committee be formed to make an audit of the


distribution of professional fees in this Section. At this point, let me
stress that since professional fees vary according to the type of
procedure done and since there was no equity of labor between us I
am not settling for an equal percentage share. I demand that I be
indemnified of all professional fees due me on a case to case basis.

Let me make clear my intention of pursuing this matter legally should


there be no favorable action in my behalf. Let me state at this point 6
that the actions of Dr. Torres and Dr. Monzon are both unprofessional
and unbecoming and are clearly violating the code of ethics of the
medical profession and the Philippine Civil Service Rules and
Regulations related to graft and corruption.

Thank you.

and other words of similar import, when in truth and in fact, as the accused very well
knew, the same are entirely false and untrue but were publicly made for no other
purpose than to expose said DR. JUAN F. TORRES, JR. to public ridicule, thereby
casting dishonor, discredit and contempt upon the person of the said offended party,
to his damage and prejudice.

A petition for review of the resolution of Assistant City Prosecutor Vestil was filed by petitioner before
the Department of Justice pursuant to P.D. No. 77 as amended by P.D. No. 911.
The Department of Justice gave due course to the petition and directed the Quezon City prosecutor
to move for deferment of further proceedings and to elevate the entire records of the
case. 5 Accordingly, a "Motion to Defer, Arraignment" dated September 7, 1992 was filed by
Prosecutor Tirso M. Gavero before the court a quo.6 On September 9, 1992, the trial court granted
the motion and deferred petitioner's arraignment until the final termination of the petition for review.7

Without the consent or approval of the trial prosecutor, private complainant, through counsel, filed a
Motion to Lift the Order dated September 9, 1992 and to Set the Case for Arraignment/Trial.8

On January 8, 1993, the trial court issued an Order setting aside its earlier Order of September 9,
1992 and scheduling petitioner's arraignment on January 18, 1993 at two o'clock in the afternoon. 9

In a resolution dated January 27, 1993, then Justice Secretary Franklin M. Drilon reversed the
Quezon City investigating prosecutor. Pertinent portions of Drilon's ruling read: 10

From the circumstances obtaining, the subject letter was written to bring to the
attention of the Director of the Philippine Heart Center for Asia and other responsible
authorities the unjust and unfair treatment that Dr. Ledesma was getting from
complainants. Since complainants and respondent are government employees, and
the subject letter is a complaint to higher authorities of the PHCA on a subject matter
in which respondent has an interest and in reference to which she has a duty to
question the same is definitely privileged (US vs. Bustos, 37 Phil. 131). Moreover,
in Ang vs. Castro, 136 SCRA 455, the Supreme Court, citing Santiago vs. Calvo, 48
Phil. 922, ruled that "A communication made in good faith upon any subject matter in
which the party making the communication has an interest or concerning which he
has a duty is privileged. . . although it contains incriminatory or derogatory matter
which, without the privilege, would be libelous and actionable.

The follow-up letter sent by respondent to the director of the PHCA, is a direct
evidence of respondent's righteous disposition of following the rule of law and is a
clear indication that her purpose was to seek relief from the proper higher authority
who is the Director of PHCA.

The same interpretation should be accorded the civil and administrative complaints
which respondent filed against complainants. They are mere manifestations of her
earnest desire to pursue proper relief for the alleged injustice she got from
complainants. If she was motivated by malice and ill-will in sending the subject
communication to the Director of the PHCA, she would not have sent the second
letter and filed the administrative and civil cases against complainants.

Moreover, it is unbelievable that it took complainants one year to realize that the
questioned letter subjected them to public and malicious imputation of a vice or
omission. It is beyond the ordinary course of human conduct for complainants to start
feeling the effects of the alleged libelous letter — that of experiencing sleepless
nights, wounded feelings, serious anxiety, moral shock and besmirched reputation —
one year after they read the communication in question.

The claim that the case of Crespo vs. Mogul, 151 SCRA 462 is applicable to the
instant case is unfounded. In the first place, the instant cases are not being
reinvestigated. It is the resolutions of the investigating prosecutor that are under
review. Further, the record shows that the court has issued an order suspending the
proceedings pending the resolutions of the petitions for review by this Office. In the
issuance of its order, the court recognizes that the Secretary of Justice has the
power and authority to review the resolutions of prosecutors who are under his
control and supervision.

In view of the foregoing, the appealed resolutions are hereby reversed. You are
directed to withdraw the Informations which you filed in Court. Inform this Office of
the action taken within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.

In obedience to the above directive, Quezon City Trial Prosecutor Tirso M. Gavero filed a Motion to
Withdraw Information dated February 17, 1993, 11 attaching thereto the resolution of Secretary Drilon.
The trial judge denied this motion in his Order dated February 22, 1993, as follows: 12
The motion of the trial prosecutor to withdraw the information in the above-entitled
case is denied. Instead, the trial prosecutor of this court is hereby directed to
prosecute the case following the guidelines and doctrine laid down by the Supreme
Court in the case of Crespo vs. Mogul, 151 SCRA 462.

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration 13 was denied by the trial judge in the Order dated March 5,
1993, as follows: 14

Finding no cogent reason to justify the reconsideration of the ruling of this Court
dated February 22, 1993, the Motion for Reconsideration dated March 1, 1993 filed
by the accused through counsel is hereby denied.

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Supreme Court. In a
Resolution dated March 31, 1993, this Court referred the case to the Court of Appeals for proper
determination and disposition pursuant to Section 9, paragraph 1 of B.P. 129. 15

Respondent Court dismissed the petition "for lack of merit," holding that it had no jurisdiction to
overturn the doctrine laid down in Crespo vs. Mogul — once a complaint or information has been
filed in court, any disposition of the case, i.e., dismissal, conviction or acquittal of the accused, rests
on the sound discretion of the trial court. 16

Hence, this recourse to this Court.

The Issues

For unexplained reasons, petitioner failed to make an assignment of errors against the appellate
court. Her counsel merely repeated the alleged errors of the trial court: 17

I. The Orders, dated February 22, 1993 and March 5, 1993, of respondent Judge
Asuncion relied solely on the "Crespo vs. Mogul" (151 SCRA 462) decision. It is
respectfully submitted that said case is not applicable because:

1. It infringes on the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and


judicial branches of the government;

2. It constitutes or it may lead to misuse or misapplication of "judicial power" as


defined in the Constitution;

3. It goes against the constitutional proscription that rules of procedure should not
diminish substantive rights;

4. It goes against the principle of non-delegation of powers;

5. It sets aside or disregards substantive and procedural rules;

6. It deprives a person of his constitutional right to procedural due process;

7. Its application may constitute or lead to denial of equal protection of laws;

8. It deprives the secretary of justice or the president of the power to control or


review the acts of a subordinate official;

9. It will lead to, encourage, abet or promote abuse or even corruption among the
ranks of investigating fiscals;

10. It does not subserve the purposes of a preliminary investigation because —

(10.a) It subjects a person to the burdens of an unnecessary trial, specially in cases


where the investigating fiscal recommends no bail for the accused;

(10.b) It subjects the government, both the executive and the judiciary, to
unnecessary time and expenses attendant to an unnecessary trial;
(10.c) It contributes to the clogging of judicial dockets; and

11. It has no statutory or procedural basis or precedent.

II. On the assumption that "Crespo vs. Mogul" is applicable, it is submitted that —

1. Respondent Judge Asuncion committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to


lack of jurisdiction, when he denied the Motion to Withdraw Information since he had
already deferred to, if not recognized, the authority of the Secretary of Justice; and

2. The facts in "Crespo vs. Mogul" are different from the instant case. Hence,
respondent Judge Asuncion committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack
of jurisdiction, when he relied solely on said case in denying the Motion to Withdraw
Information.

In sum, the main issue in this petition is: Did Respondent Court commit any reversible error in
affirming the trial court's denial of the prosecution's Motion to Withdraw Information?

The Court's Ruling

The petition is impressed with merit. We answer the above question in the affirmative.

Preliminary Matter

Before discussing the substance of this case, the Court will preliminarily address a procedural
matter. Prior to the effectivity of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure on July 1, 1997, Section 2 of Rule
45, which governed appeals from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, provided:

Sec. 2.Contents of petition. — The petition shall contain a concise statement of . . .


the assignment of errors made in the court below . . . .

A petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 requires a concise statement of the errors committed
by the Court of Appeals, not of the trial court. For failure to follow this Rule, the petition could have
been dismissed by this Court motu proprio, considering that under Section 4 of the same Rule,
"review is not a matter of right but of sound discretion."

We take this occasion to stress the need for precision and clarity in the assignment of errors. Review
under this rule is unlike an appeal in a criminal case where the death penalty, reclusion perpetua or
life imprisonment is imposed and where the whole case is opened for review. Under Rule 45, only
the issues raised therein by the petitioner will be passed upon by the Court, such that an erroneous
specification of the issues may cause the dismissal of the petition. We stressed this in Circular No. 2-
90, entitled "Guidelines to be Observed in Appeals to the Court of Appeals and to the Supreme
Court," as follows:

4. Erroneous Appeals. . . . .

e) Duty of counsel. — It is therefore incumbent upon every attorney who would seek
review of a judgment or order promulgated against his client to make sure of the
nature of the errors he proposes to assign, whether these be of fact or of law; then
upon such basis to ascertain carefully which Court has appellate jurisdiction; and
finally, to follow scrupulously the requisites for appeal prescribed by law, ever aware
that any error or imprecision in compliance may well be fatal to his client's cause.

FOR STRICT COMPLIANCE.

Be that as it may, the Court — noting the importance of the substantial matters raised — decided to
overlook petitioner's lapse and granted due course to the petition per Resolution dated July 15,
1996, with a warning that henceforth petitions which fail to specify an assignment of errors of the
proper lower court may be denied due course motu proprio by this Court.

Determination of Probable Cause


Is an Executive Function
The determination of probable cause during a preliminary investigation is judicially recognized as an
executive function and is made by the prosecutor. The primary objective of a preliminary
investigation is to free a respondent from the inconvenience, expense, ignominy and stress of
defending himself/herself in the course of a formal trial, until the reasonable probability of his or her
guilt has been passed upon in a more or less summary proceeding by a competent officer
designated by law for that purpose. Secondarily, such summary proceeding also protects the state
from the burden of unnecessary expense and effort in prosecuting alleged offenses and in holding
trials arising from false, frivolous or groundless charges. 18

Such investigation is not a part of the trial. A full and exhaustive presentation of the parties' evidence
is not required, but only such as may engender a well-grounded belief that an offense has been
committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof. 19 By reason of the abbreviated nature of
preliminary investigations, a dismissal of the charges as a result thereof is not equivalent to a judicial
pronouncement of acquittal. Hence, no double jeopardy attaches.

In declaring this function to be lodged in the prosecutor, the Court distinguished the determination of
probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest or a search warrant from a preliminary
investigation proper, in this wise: 20

. . . Judges and prosecutors alike should distinguish the preliminary inquiry which
determines probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest from a preliminary
investigation proper which ascertains whether the offender should be held for trial or
released. . . . The determination of probable cause for the warrant of arrest is made
by the Judge. The preliminary investigation proper — whether . . . there is
reasonable ground to believe that the accused is guilty of the offense charged and,
therefore, whether . . . he should be subjected to the expense, rigors and
embarrassment of trial — is the function of the prosecutor.

We reiterate that preliminary investigation should be distinguished as to whether it is


an investigation for the determination of a sufficient ground for the filing of the
information or it is an investigation for the determination of a probable cause for the
issuance of a warrant of arrest. The first kind of preliminary investigation is executive
in nature. It is part of the prosecutor's job. The second kind of preliminary
investigation which is more properly called preliminary examination is judicial in
nature and is lodged with the judge.

Sound policy supports this distinction. Otherwise, judges would be unduly laden with the preliminary
examination and investigation of criminal complaints instead of concentrating on hearing and
deciding cases filed before their courts. The Separate Opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Andres R.
Narvasa in Roberts, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals stressed that the determination of the existence of
probable cause properly pertains to the public prosecutor in the "established scheme of things," and
that the proceedings therein are "essentially preliminary, prefatory and cannot lead to a final, definite
and authoritative judgment of the guilt or innocence of the persons charged with a felony or a
crime." 21

In Crespo vs. Mogul, 22 the Court emphasized the cardinal principle that the public prosecutor
controls and directs the prosecution of criminal offenses thus:

It is a cardinal principle that all criminal actions either commenced by complaint or by


information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal. The
institution of a criminal action depends upon the sound discretion of the fiscal. He
may or may not file the complaint or information, follow or not follow that presented
by the offended party, according to whether the evidence in his opinion, is sufficient
or not to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The reason for
placing the criminal prosecution under the direction and control of the fiscal is to
prevent malicious or unfounded prosecution by private persons. It cannot be
controlled by the complainant. Prosecuting officers under the power vested in them
by law, not only have the authority but also the duty of prosecuting persons who,
according to the evidence received from the complainant, are shown to be guilty of a
crime committed within the jurisdiction of their office. They have equally the legal
duty not to prosecute when after an investigation they become convinced that the
evidence adduced is not sufficient to establish a prima facie case.
In the same case, the Court added that where there is a clash of views between a judge who did not
investigate and a fiscal who conducted a reinvestigation, those of the prosecutor should normally
prevail: 23

. . . . The Courts cannot interfere with the fiscal's discretion and control of the criminal
prosecution. It is not prudent or even permissible for a Court to compel the fiscal to
prosecute a proceeding originally initiated by him on an information, if he finds that
the evidence relied upon by him is insufficient for conviction. Neither has the Court
any power to order the fiscal to prosecute or file an information within a certain period
of time, since this would interfere with the fiscal's discretion and control of criminal
prosecutions. Thus, a fiscal who asks for the dismissal of the case for insufficiency of
evidence has authority to do so, and Courts that grant the same commit no error.
The fiscal may re-investigate a case and subsequently move for the dismissal should
the re-investigation show either that the defendant is innocent or that his guilt may
not be established beyond reasonable doubt. In a clash of views between the judge
who did not investigate and the fiscal who did, or between the fiscal and the offended
party or the defendant, those of the fiscal's should normally prevail. . . . . .

Appeal as an Exercise of the Justice


Secretary's Power of Control Over Prosecutors

Decisions or resolutions of prosecutors are subject to appeal to the secretary of justice who, under
the Revised Administrative Code, exercises the power of direct control and supervision over said
prosecutors; and who may thus affirm, nullify, reverse or modify their rulings.

Section 39, Chapter 8, Book IV in relation to Section 5, 8, and 9, Chapter 2, Title III of the Code
gives the secretary of justice supervision and control over the Office of the Chief Prosecutor and the
Provincial and City Prosecution Offices. The scope of his power of supervision and control is
delineated in Section 38, paragraph 1, Chapter 7, Book IV of the Code:

(1) Supervision and Control. — Supervision and control shall include authority to act
directly whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to a
subordinate; direct the performance of duty; restrain the commission of acts; review,
approve, reverse or modify acts and decisions of subordinate officials or units; . . . . .

Supplementing the aforequoted provisions are Section 3 of R.A. 3783 and Section 37 of Act 4007,
which read:

Sec. 3. . . . .

The Chief State Prosecutor, the Assistant Chief State Prosecutors, the Senior State
Prosecutors, and the State Prosecutors shall . . . perform such other duties as may
be assigned to them by the Secretary of Justice in the interest of public service.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 37. The provisions of the existing law to the contrary notwithstanding, whenever
a specific power, authority, duty, function, or activity is entrusted to a chief of bureau,
office, division or service, the same shall be understood as also conferred upon the
proper Department Head who shall have authority to act directly in pursuance
thereof, or to review, modify, or revoke any decision or action of said chief of bureau,
office, division or service.

"Supervision" and "control" of a department head over his subordinates have been defined in
administrative law as follows: 24

In administrative law supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an


officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect
to fulfill them, the former may take such action or step as prescribed by law to make
them perform such duties. Control, on the other hand, 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.
Review as an act of supervision and control by the justice secretary over the fiscals and prosecutors
finds basis in the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies which holds that mistakes,
abuses or negligence committed in the initial steps of an administrative activity or by an
administrative agency should be corrected by higher administrative authorities, and not directly by
courts. As a rule, only after administrative remedies are exhausted may judicial recourse be allowed.

Appeal to the Secretary of Justice Is Not


Foreclosed by the Ruling in Crespo

In Marcelo vs. Court of Appeals, 25 the Court clarified that Crespo 26 did not foreclose the power or
authority of the secretary of justice to review resolutions of his subordinates in criminal cases. The
Court recognized in Crespo that the action of the investigating fiscal or prosecutor in the preliminary
investigation is subject to the approval of the provincial or city fiscal or chief state prosecutor.
Thereafter, it may be appealed to the secretary of justice.

The justice secretary's power of review may still be availed of despite the filing of an information in
court. In his discretion, the secretary may affirm, modify or reverse resolutions of his subordinates
pursuant to Republic Act No. 5180, as amended, 27 specifically in Section 1 (d):

(d) . . . Provided, finally, That where the resolution of the Provincial or City Fiscal or
the Chief State Prosecutor is, upon review, reversed by the Secretary of Justice, the
latter may, where he finds that noprima facie case exists, authorize and direct the
investigating fiscal concerned or any other fiscal or state prosecutor to cause or
move for the dismissal of the case, or, where he finds a prima facie case, to cause
the filing of an information in court against the respondent, based on the same sworn
statements or evidence submitted without the necessity of conducting another
preliminary investigation.

Pursuant thereto, the Department of Justice promulgated Circular No. 7 dated January 25, 1990
governing appeals in preliminary investigation. Appeals under Section 2 are limited to resolutions
dismissing a criminal complaint. However, Section 4 provides an exception: appeals from resolutions
finding probable cause upon a showing of manifest error or grave abuse of discretion are allowed,
provided the accused has not been arraigned. In the present case, petitioner's appeal to the
secretary of justice was given due course on August 26, 1992 pursuant to this Circular.

On June 30, 1993, Circular No. 7 was superseded by Department Order. No. 223; however, the
scope of appealable cases remained unchanged:

Sec. 1. What May Be Appealed. — Only resolutions of the Chief State


Prosecutor/Regional State Prosecutor/Provincial or City Prosecutor dismissing a
criminal complaint may be the subject of an appeal to the Secretary of Justice except
as otherwise provided in Section 4 hereof.

Appeals from the resolutions of provincial/city prosecutors where the penalty


prescribed for the offense charged does not exceed prision correccional, regardless
of the imposable fine, shall be made to the Regional State Prosecutors who shall
resolve the appeals with finality, pursuant to Department Order No. 318 dated August
28, 1991 as amended by D.O. No. 34 dated February 4, 1992, D.O. No. 223 dated
August 11, 1992 and D.O. No. 45 dated February 2, 1993. Such appeals shall also
be governed by these rules.

Sec. 4.Non-Appealable Cases; Exceptions. — No appeal may be taken from a


resolution of the Chief State Prosecutor/Regional State Prosecutor/Provincial or City
Prosecutor finding probable cause except upon showing of manifest error or grave
abuse of discretion. Notwithstanding the showing of manifest error or grave abuse of
discretion, no appeal shall be entertained where the appellant had already been
arraigned. If the appellant (is) arraigned during the pendency of the
appeal, . . . appeal shall be dismissed motu proprio by the Secretary of Justice.

An appeal/motion for reinvestigation from a resolution finding probable cause,


however, shall not hold the filing of the information in court.
Apart from the foregoing statutory and administrative issuances, the power of review of the secretary
of justice is recognized also by Section 4 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Court:

Sec. 4.Duty of investigating fiscal.— . . . .

xxx xxx xxx

If upon petition by a proper party, the Secretary of Justice reverses the resolution of
the provincial or city fiscal or chief state prosecutor, he shall direct the fiscal
concerned to file the corresponding information without conducting another
preliminary investigation or to dismiss or move for dismissal of the complaint or
information.

This appeal rests upon the sound discretion of the secretary of justice arising from his power of
supervision and control over the prosecuting arm of the government, not on a substantial right on the
part of the accused as claimed by petitioner.

Appeal Did Not Divest the


Trial Court of Jurisdiction

Where the secretary of justice exercises his power of review only after an information has been filed,
trial courts should defer or suspend arraignment and further proceedings until the appeal is resolved.
Such deferment or suspension, however, does not signify that the trial court is ipso facto bound by
the resolution of the secretary of justice. Jurisdiction, once acquired by the trial court, is not lost
despite a resolution by the secretary of justice to withdraw the information or to dismiss the case.

Judicial Review of the Resolution


of the Secretary of Justice

Judicial power is defined under the 1987 Constitution as the duty of courts to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable. Such power includes
the determination of whether there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government. 28 Under this
definition, a court is without power to directly decide matters over which full discretionary authority
has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. It is not empowered to
substitute its judgment for that of Congress or of the President. It may, however, look into the
question of whether such exercise has been made in grave abuse of discretion.

Judicial review of the acts of other departments is not an assertion of superiority over them or a
derogation of their functions. In the words of Justice Laurel in Angara vs. Elertoral Commission: 29

. . . [W]hen the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not in


reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and
sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of
authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual
controversy the rights which that instrument sources and guarantees to them. This is
in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the
power of the judicial review under the Constitution. . . . .

It is not the purpose of this Court to decrease or limit the discretion of the secretary of justice to
review the decisions of the government prosecutors under him. In Crespo, the secretary was merely
advised to restrict such review to exceptionally meritorious cases. Rule 112, Section 4 of the Rules
of Court, which recognizes such power, does not, however, allow the trial court to automatically
dismiss the case or grant the withdrawal of the information upon the resolution of the secretary of
justice. This is precisely the import of Crespo, Marcelo, Martinez vs. Court of Appeals30 and the
recent case of Roberts, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, which all required the trial court to make its own
evaluation of the merits of the case, because granting the motion to dismiss or to withdraw the
information is equivalent to effecting a disposition of the case itself.

The Marcelo and Martinez


Cases Are Consistent
In Marcelo vs. Court of Appeals, 31 this Court ruled that, although it is more prudent to wait for a final
resolution of a motion for review or reinvestigation from the secretary of justice before acting on a
motion to dismiss or a motion to withdraw an information, a trial court nonetheless should make its
own study and evaluation of said motion and not rely merely on the awaited action of the secretary.
The trial court has the option to grant or deny the motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal,
whether before or after the arraignment of the accused, and whether after a reinvestigation or upon
instructions of the secretary who reviewed the records of the investigation; provided that such grant
or denial is made from its own assessment and evaluation of the merits of the motion.

In Martinez vs. Court of Appeals, 32 this Court overruled the grant of the motion to dismiss filed by the
prosecuting fiscal upon the recommendation of the secretary of justice because, such grant was
based upon considerations other than the judge's own assessment of the matter. Relying solely on
the conclusion of the prosecution to the effect that there was no sufficient evidence against the
accused to sustain the allegation in the information, the trial judge did not perform his function of
making an independent evaluation or assessment of the merits of the case.

Despite the pronouncement in Marcelo that a final resolution of the appeal to the Department of
Justice is necessary, both decisions followed the rule in Crespo vs. Mogul: Once a complaint or
information is filed in court, any disposition of the case such as its dismissal or its continuation rests
on the sound discretion of the court. Trial judges are thus required to make their own assessment of
whether the secretary of justice committed grave abuse of discretion in granting or denying the
appeal, separately and independently of the prosecution's or the secretary's evaluation that such
evidence is insufficient or that no probable cause to hold the accused for trial exists. They should
embody such assessment in their written order disposing of the motion.

The above-mentioned cases depict two extreme cases in complying with this rule. In Marcelo, the
dismissal of the criminal action upon the favorable recommendation of the Review Committee, Office
of the City Prosecutor, was precipitate in view of the pendency of private complainant's appeal to the
secretary of justice. In effect, the secretary's opinion was totally disregarded by the trial court. In
contrast, in Martinez the dismissal of the criminal action was an "erroneous exercise of judicial
discretion" as the trial court relied hook, line and sinker on the resolution of the secretary, without
making its own independent determination of the merits of the said resolution.

No Grave Abuse of Discretion in the


Resolution of the Secretary of Justice

In the light of recent holdings in Marcelo and Martinez; and considering that the issue of the
correctness of the justice secretary's resolution has been amply threshed out in petitioner's letter, the
information, the resolution of the secretary of justice, the motion to dismiss, and even the exhaustive
discussion in the motion for reconsideration — all of which were submitted to the court — the trial
judge committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied the motion to withdraw the information,
based solely on his bare and ambiguous reliance on Crespo. The trial court's order is inconsistent
with our repetitive calls for an independent and competent assessment of the issue(s) presented in
the motion to dismiss. The trial judge was tasked to evaluate the secretary's recommendation finding
the absence of probable cause to hold petitioner criminally liable for libel. He failed to do so. He
merely ruled to proceed with the trial without stating his reasons for disregarding the secretary's
recommendation.

Had he complied with his judicial obligation, he would have discovered that there was, in fact,
sufficient ground to grant the motion to withdraw the information. The documents before the trial
court judge clearly showed that there was no probable cause to warrant a criminal prosecution for
libel.

Under the "established scheme of things" in criminal prosecutions, this Court would normally remand
the case to the trial judge for his or her independent assessment of the motion to withdraw the
information. However, in order not to delay the disposition of this case and to afford the parties
complete relief, we have decided to make directly the independent assessment the trial court should
have done. The petitioner has attached as annexes to the present petition for review the information,
which contains a complete and faithful reproduction of the subject letter, the resolution of the
secretary of justice, the prosecution's motion for reconsideration of the trial court's Order of February
22, 1993, and even the private complainant's opposition to said motion. The records below have
been reproduced and submitted to this Court for its appreciation. Thus, a remand to the trial court
serves no purpose and will only clog the dockets.
We thus proceed to examine the substance of the resolution of the secretary of justice. The
secretary reversed the finding of probable cause on the grounds that (1) the subject letter was
privileged in nature and (2) the complaint was merely a countercharge.

In every case for libel, the following requisites must concur:

(a) it must be defamatory;

(b) it must be malicious;

(c) it must be given publicity; and

(d) the victim must be identifiable.

At the preliminary investigation stage, these requisites must show prima facie a well-founded
belief that a crime has been committed and that the accused probably committed it. A
cursory reading of the information immediately demonstrates a failure on the part of the
complainant to establish the foregoing elements of libel.

Every defamatory imputation, even if true, is presumed malicious, if no good intention or justifiable
motive for making it is shown. There is malice when the author of the imputation is prompted by
personal ill will or spite and speaks not in response to duty but merely to injure the reputation of the
person who claims to have been defamed. 33 In this case, however, petitioner's letter was written to
seek redress of proper grievance against the inaccurate distribution and payment of professional
fees and against unfair treatment in the Nuclear Medicine Department of the Philippine Heart Center.
It is a qualified privileged communication under Article 354(1) of the Revised Penal Code which
provides:

Art. 354. Requirement of publicity. — Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be


malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is
shown, except in the following cases:

1. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance of


any legal, moral or social duty; and

xxx xxx xxx

The rule on privileged communication is that a communication made in good faith on any subject
matter in which the communicator has an interest, or concerning which he has a duty, is privileged if
made to a person having a corresponding interest or duty, although it contains incriminatory matter
which, without the privilege, would be libelous and actionable. Petitioner's letter was a private
communication made in the performance of a moral duty on her part. Her intention was not to inflict
an unjustifiable harm on the private complainant, but to present her grievance to her superior. The
privileged nature of her letter overcomes the presumption of malice. There is no malice when
justifiable motive exists; and in the absence of malice, there is no libel. We note that the information
itself failed to allege the existence of malice.

Thus, we agree with the ruling of the secretary of justice: 34

. . . (T)he subject letter was written to bring to the attention of the Director of the
Philippine Heart Center for Asia and other responsible authorities the unjust and
unfair treatment that Dr. Ledesma was getting from government employees, and the
subject letter is a complaint . . . on a subject matter in which respondent has an
interest and in reference to which she has a duty to question the same is definitely
privileged (US vs. Bustos, 37 Phil. 131). Moreover, in Ang vs. Castro, 136 SCRA
455, the Supreme Court, citing Santiago vs. Calvo, 48 Phil. 922, ruled that "a
communication made in good faith upon any subject matter in which the party
making the communication has an interest or concerning which he has a duty is
privileged although it contains incriminatory or derogatory matter which, without the
privilege, would be libelous and actionable.

The follow-up letter sent by respondent to the director of the PHCA, is a direct
evidence of respondent's righteous disposition of following the rule of law and is a
clear indication that her purpose was to seek relief from the proper higher authority . .
..

The same interpretation should be accorded the civil and administrative complaints
which respondent filed against complainants. They are mere manifestations of her
earnest desire to pursue proper relief for the alleged injustice she got from
complainants. If she was motivated by malice and ill-will in sending the subject
communication to the Director of the PHCA, she would not have sent the second
letter and filed the administrative and civil cases against complainants.

In Alonzo, the settled rule is that, when a public officer, in the discharge of his or her official duties,
sends a communication to another officer or to a body of officers, who have a duty to perform with
respect to the subject matter of the communication, such communication does not amount to
publication within the meaning of the law on defamation. 35 Publication in libel means making the
defamatory matter, after it has been written, known to someone other than the person to whom it has
been written. 36 The reason for such rule is that "a communication of the defamatory matter to the
person defamed cannot injure his reputation though it may wound his self-esteem. A man's
reputation is not the good opinion he has of himself, but the estimation in which others hold him." 37 In
this case, petitioner submitted the letter to the director of said hospital; she did not disseminate the
letter and its contents to third persons. Hence, there was no "publicity" and the matter is clearly
covered by paragraph 1 of Article 354 of the Penal Code.

Further, we note that the information against petitioner was filed only on July 27, 1992 or one year
after June 27, 1991, the date the letter was sent. It is obviously nothing more than a countercharge
to give Complainant Torres a leverage against petitioner's administrative action against him.

Ineluctably, Judge Asuncion's denial of the motion to withdraw the information and the
reconsideration thereof was not only precipitate but manifestly erroneous. This is further
compounded by the fact that he did not explain his grounds for his denial inasmuch as he did not
make an independent assessment of the motion or the arguments in the resolution of the secretary
of justice. All in all, such rash action did not do justice to the sound ruling in Crespo vs. Mogul upon
which, ironically, he supposedly rested his action, or to the directive in Marcelo and Martinez where
this Court required trial courts to make an independent assessment of the merits of the motion.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Motion to
Withdraw the Information dated February 17, 1993 filed before the trial court is GRANTED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 96740 March 25, 1999

VIRGINIA P. SARMIENTO and APOLONIA P. CATIBAYAN, petitioners,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SIMON ARGUELLES, respondents.

PURISIMA, J.:

At bar is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, seeking to
set aside the Decision, 1 dated October 26, 1989 and the Resolution, 2 dated January 4, 1991, of the
Court of Appeals 3 in CA — G.R. CV No. 11750, reversing the Decision 4 , dated May 30, 1986, of
Branch XV, Regional Trial Court, in Trece Martires City 5 in Civil Case No. NC-75.

The antecedent facts that matter are as follows:

Virginia P. Sarmiento and Apolonia P. Catibayan, the petitioners herein, filed a complain for partition
of a piece of land, more particularly described as Lot No. 926 of the Naic Estate, G.L.R.O., Record
No. 8340, in Naic, Cavite, with an area of 1,779 square meters, covered by TCT No. 21877 issued
on September 1, 1941 to co-owners, Francisco Arguelles and Petrona Reyes.

Petitioners are sisters, their parents being Tiburcio Pangilinan and Leogarda Arguelles, who died in
1946. Leogarda was the daughter of Francisco Arguelles who died on February 18, 1949 and Emilia
Pineli, who died on May 2, 1950. Private respondent Simon Arguelles is a half brother of Leogarda,
with Francisco Arguelles as their common father.

Petitioners claim that as granddaughters of Francisco Arguelles, they and private respondent Simon
Arguelles are co-owners of the 1/2 portion of Lot No. 926, as the only heirs of the late Francisco
Arguelles. But according to private respondent, petitioners are not the legal heirs of Francisco
Arguelles because their (petitioners') mother, Leogarda Arguelles, was allegedly an illegitimate child
of his father, Francisco Arguelles, and Emilia Pineli who were not married. Under the old Civil Code,
which should be applied since Francisco Arguelles died in 1949, before the effectivity of the New
Civil Code, an illegitimate child did not have successional rights.

After trial, the lower court came out with a decision ordering the parties herein to partition among
themselves subject 1/2 portion of Lot No. 926; and disposing thus:

In view of all the foregoing, plaintiffs Virginia P. Sarmiento and Apolonia P. Catibayan
and defendant Simon Arguelles are hereby ordered to partition among themselves
the one-half portion of Lot No. 926 of the Naic Estate, located in Naic, Cavite,
covered by Transfer Certificate of title No. 21877, pertaining to the deceased
Francisco Arguelles.

The counterclaim, for lack of merit, is hereby dismissed.

No pronouncement is made as to cost.

SO ORDERED.6

Dissatisfied therewith, the private respondent went to the Court of Appeals on a Petition for Review;
theorizing that:

I. The Lower Court erred in holding that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli were
legally married and that Leogardo (sic) Arguelles was their legitimate daughter.

II. The Lower Court erred in not holding that the cause of action of the plaintiffs-
appellees if any, had already prescribed.

III. The Lower Court erred in ordering the partition of the property involved in this
case among the plaintiffs-appellees and the defendant-appellant. 7
On October 26, 1989, the Court of Appeals handed down its judgment, reversing the decision of the
Regional Trial Court of origin and disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby entered REVERSING the decision appealed from


and DISMISSING the complaint for judicial partition. Without pronouncement as to
costs.

SO ORDERED.8

With the denial with their Motion For Reconsideration on January 4, 1991, petitioners found their way
to this court via the present Petition; posing as issues:

I. WHETHER OR NOT A MAN AND A WOMAN WHO LIVED TOGETHER AS


HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE PRESUMED MARRIED; and.

II. WHETHER THE BORN OUT OF SUCH MARRIAGE IS LEGITIMATE OR NOT.9

The pivotal issue for determination is: whether or not the petitioners offered sufficient evidence to
substantiate their submission that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli were legally married.

Sec. 3 (aa) of Rule 131 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions, —The following presumptions are satisfactory if


uncontradicted, but maybe contradicted or overcome by other evidence

xxx xxx xxx

(aa) That a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have
entered into a lawful contract of marriage;

xxx xxx xxx

Guided by the aforecited provision of law, the trial court ratiocinated:

The fact that no marriage certificate of Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli was
submitted in evidence does not lead to the conclusion that the said parties were not
legally married and that Leogarda was their illegitimate child. The defendant admitted
that his father and Emilia Pineli lived and cohabited together as husband and wife,
even staying in the same house were he was also residing. The presumption is that
'A man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a
lawful contract of marriage (sic) (Sec. 5(bb), Rule 131, Rules of Court). 10 Every
intendment of law or facts leans toward the validity of marriage and the legitimacy of
children (Art. 220, Civil Code). In this case, no evidence was adduced by defendant
Arguelles to rebut this presumption. Neither did he attempt to show that Francisco
and Emilia could not validity marry each other because of some legal impediments to
their marriage.11

While it is true that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli cohabited as husband and wife, private
respondent Simon Arguelles testified that the said cohabitation was without the benefit of marriage.
In People vs. Borromeo 12, this Court held that persons living together in apparent matrimony are
presumed, absent any counter presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. 13

In the case under consideration, the presumption of marriage, on which the trial court premised its
decision, has been sufficiently offset. 14 Records reveal that petitioners tried to justify the non-
presentation of the marriage certificate of Francisco and Emilia by submitting a certification issued by
Assistant Treasurer Lucila Lucero of Naic, Cavite, to the effect that:

the Marriage Certificate of Francisco Arguelles married to Emilia Pineli on the 18th
day of August, 1918 at Naic, Cavite, is no longer available due to destruction of the
records during the Japanese occupation, and as such no certified copy of Marriage
could be issued to the parties concerned.15
However, Assistant Treasurer Lucila Lucero admitted later 16 on the witness stand that she signed
the said certificate prepared by a certain Consuelo Pangilinan, without verifying its correctness. In
reality, the records of marriages of Naic are intact. The said records were brought and examined
before the trial court, and its pages 20 to 22 containing entries from July 3, 1917 to May 30, 1918 do
not reflect the names of Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli.

So also, the death certificate of Francisco Arguelles contained the word "none" opposite the phrase
"surviving spouse", indicating that he died a widower on February 18, 1949. His deceased wife was
Petrona Reyes, the mother of private respondent. 17

Then too, TCT No. 21877 covering Lot 926 as well as the reconstituted TCT No. 21877, RT-19055,
show the status of Francisco Arguelles as "widower". 18 On this point, the respondent court said:

. . . Emilia would not have allowed Francisco Arguelles to place the property in his
name alone as widower if in fact they were legally married to each other. If there was
a mistake in indicating in the title Francisco's status as a widower, the same could
have been easily cured by presenting a petition for correction in the proper court. If it
is true, as Tiburcio Pangilinan testified, that the certificate of title was the possession
of Emilia Pineli and was given to him (Tiburcio) before her death, there is no
conceivable reason why Emilia never exerted any effort to correct the mistake in the
description of Francisco's status in the certificate of title as 'widower' knowing that
she would not be able to transmit any part of the property to her heirs upon her death
if the error was not corrected. Her omission only serves to bolster the proposition that
she had no right to protect, in the first place, because she was not legally married to
Francisco.19

Consequently, with the presumption of marriage sufficiently overcome, the onus probandi of the
private respondent shifted to the petitioners. It then became the burden of the petitioners, Virginia P.
Sarmiento and Apolonia P. Catibayan, to prove that their deceased grandparents, Francisco
Arguelles and Emilia Pineli, were legally married.

In Trinidad vs. Court of Appeals, et a1. 20, this Court ruled that as proof of marriage may be
presented: a) testimony of a witness to the matrimony; b) the couple's public and open cohabitation
as husband and wife after the alleged wedlock; c) the birth and baptismal certificate of children born
during such union; and d) the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents.

Pertinent records show that the petitioners failed to substantiate their theory that Francisco Arguelles
and Emilia Pineli were married. What is more, the available records of marriage contradict the
allegation that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli were legally married. But petitioners, to whom
the burden of proving the fact of marriage shifted, did not present anybody who witnessed the
marriage ceremony of Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli. As aptly reasoned out by the
respondent court:

. . . Not one of the three witnesses for plaintiffs ever declared having observed that
Francisco and Emilia acted as husband and wife. Tiburcio Pangilinan testified mainly
on the fact that he is the father of the plaintiffs and husband of the late Leogarda
Arguelles who was the daughter of Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli. The rest of
his testimony touched on the certificate of tittle covering Lot 926 which Emilia
allegedly delivered two weeks before she died but was later on taken from him by
defendant. Plaintiffs on their part did not testify that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia
Pineli lived together as husband and wife, which may be explained by the fact that
Virginia Sarmiento and Apolonia Catibayan where only 6 and 5 years old,
respectively, when Emilia Pineli died and were then too young to perceive the nature
of whatever the relationship existed Francisco and Emilia.21

Evidently, petitioners relied mainly on the legal presumption that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia
Pineli were married, without introducing any evidence to prove the marriage theorized upon.

In a belated attempt to establish the legitimacy of Leogarda Arguelles, petitioners have theorized for
the first time, in the present Petition, that the birth certificate 22 of Leogarda Arguelles which they
allegedly presented during the trial below, shows the legitimate status of Leogarda
Arguelles. 23 Concededly, such birth certificate may be used to show the alleged marriage. But be
that as it may, the totality of evidence for the private respondent preponderates over petitioners'.
Preponderant evidence means that, as a whole, the evidence adduced by one side outweighs that of
the adverse party. 24 Compared with the evidence introduced by the private respondent, petitioners
rely heavily on the legal presumption of marriage which, as earlier pointed out, has been effectively
rebutted. We are concluded by the factual findings of the Court of Appeals.

Premises studiedly considered, we are of the ineluctable conclusion, and so hold, that the Court of
Appeals erred not in reversing the decision of the Regional Trial Court a quo.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision, dated October 26, 1989, and
Resolution, dated January 4, 1991, of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to
costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-26737 July 31, 1969

LAURA CORPUS, and the minors RICARDO, TERESITA and CORAZON, all surnamed
MARCIA and represented by their mother LAURA CORPUS, plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
FELARDO PAJE and THE VICTORY LINER TRANSPORTATION CO., INC., defendants-
appellees.

Crispin D. Baizas and Associates for plaintiffs-appellants.


Flores, Macapagal, Ocampo and Balbastro for defendants-appellees.

CAPISTRANO, J.:

This is a direct appeal on questions of law from an order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal
dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 6880 of that court.

On December 23, 1956, a passenger bus of the Victory Liner Transportation Co., Inc., driven by
Felardo Paje, collided within the municipality of Lubao, Pampanga, with a jeep driven by Clemente
Marcia, resulting in the latter's death and in physical injuries to two other persons.

An information for homicide and double serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence was
filed against Felardo Paje in the Court First Instance of Pampanga. The heirs of Clemente Marcia
reserved their right to institute a separate civil action for damages. On November 7, 1960, the
accused, Felardo Paje, was found guilty and convicted of the crime charged in the information. Said
defendant appealed the judgment of conviction to the Court of Appeals. On November 21, 1961,
while defendant's appeal was pending decision in the Court of Appeals, Clemente Marcia's heirs,
namely, his widow, Laura Corpus, and their minor children, instituted in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal a separate civil action (Civil Case No. 6880) for damages based upon the criminal act of
reckless imprudence against Felardo Paje and the Victory Liner Transportation Co., Inc., defendants,
praying that said defendants be ordered to pay jointly and severally the amounts of damages
claimed by the plaintiffs. On November 9, 1962, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision in the
appeal of Felardo Paje reversing the appealed judgment and acquitting the appellant after finding
that the reckless imprudence charged against him did not exist, and that the collision was a case of
pure accident.

On December 29, 1962, the defendants filed in the civil action a motion to dismiss on the ground that
the action was barred by the acquittal by the Court of Appeals of the defendant Felardo Paje in the
criminal action. The motion was denied.

At the pre-trial of the civil case, the defendants asked the court to rule on their special defense that
plaintiffs' cause of action based upon a quasi-delict had prescribed considering that the complaint
was brought four years and eleven months after the collision and that according to Article 1144 of
the Civil Code an action based upon a quasi-delict must be instituted within four years. The lower
court, in its order of May 31, 1966, dismissed the complaint on the ground that plaintiffs' action was
based upon a quasi-delict and that it had prescribed. The plaintiffs appealed direct to this Court on
questions of law from the order dismissing the complaint.

Plaintiffs-appellants contend that the lower court erred in dismissing the complaint. The contention is
unmeritorious in view of the following considerations.

(1) The acquittal of the defendant Felardo Paje by the Court of Appeals in the criminal action on the
ground that the reckless imprudence or criminal negligence charged against him did not exist and
that the collision was a case of pure accident, was a bar to the civil action for damages for the death
of Clemente Marcia, which action was based upon the same criminal negligence of which the
defendant Felardo Paje was acquitted in the criminal action. In the celebrated case of Chantangco
vs. Abaroa, which was an appeal from the Philippine Supreme Court to the United States Supreme
Court, 218 U.S. 476; 54 L. Ed. 1116; 40 Phil. 1056, Mr. Justice Lurton, speaking for the Supreme
Court of the United States, said:

It is true that one of the plaintiffs in the present case reserved whatever right he may have
had to bring a civil action. This was obviously of no avail, inasmuch as there resulted a
judgment for the defendant, and the plain inference from the foregoing is that a verdict of
acquittal must carry with it exemption from civil responsibility.
Criminal negligence, that is, reckless imprudence, is not one of the three crimes mentioned in Article
33 of the Civil Code which authorizes the institution of an independent civil action, that is, of an
entirely separate and distinct civil action for damages, which shall proceed independently of the
criminal prosecution and shall be proved only by a preponderance of evidence. Said article mentions
only the crimes of defamation, fraud (estafa) and physical injuries. Although in the case of Dyogi, et
al. vs. Yatco, et al., G.R. No. L-9623, January 22, 1957, this Court held that the term "physical
injuries" used in article 33 of the Civil Code includes homicide, 1 it is to be borne in mind that the
charge against Felardo Paje was for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, and not for homicide
and physical injuries. In the case of People vs. Buan, G.R. No. L-25366, March 29, 1968, Mr. Justice
J.B.L. Reyes, speaking for the Supreme Court, said that the "offense of criminal negligence under
article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if
intentionally done, would be punishable as a felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless
act, not the result thereof. The gravity of the consequence is only taken into account to determine
the penalty; it does not qualify the substance of the offense." It is, therefore, clear that the charge
against Felardo Paje was not for homicide but for reckless imprudence, that is, criminal negligence
resulting in homicide (death of Clemente Marcia) and double physical injuries suffered by two other
persons. As reckless imprudence or criminal negligence is not one of the three crimes mentioned in
Article 33 of the Civil Code, there is no independent civil action for damages that may be instituted in
connection with said offense. Hence, homicide through reckless imprudence or criminal negligence
comes under the general rule that the acquittal of the defendant in the criminal action is a bar to his
civil liability based upon the same criminal act notwithstanding that the injured party reserved 2 his
right to institute a separate civil action (Chantangco vs. Abaroa, supra). In the language of the Rules
of Court (Rule 111, Sec. 3) the extinction of the criminal action by acquittal of the defendant on the
ground that the criminal act charged against him did not exist, necessarily extinguished also the civil
action for damages based upon the same act.

(2) Assuming, arguendo, that the civil action for damages for the death of Clemente Marcia was
based upon a quasi-delict, 3 the trial court's finding that on that basis the action had prescribed is
correct. An action upon a quasi-delict must be instituted within four (4) years (Article 1146, Civil
Code). The four-year prescriptive period began to run from the day the quasi-delict was committed,
or from December 23, 1956, and the running of the said period was not interrupted by the institution
of the criminal action for reckless imprudence. (Paulan vs. Sarabia, G.R. No. L-10542, July 31,
1958.)

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is affirmed, with special pronouncement as to
costs.

Concepcion, C.J., Castro, Fernando and Barredo, JJ., concur.


Dizon, Makalintal, Sanchez and Teehankee, JJ., concur in the result.
1äw phï1.ñët

Reyes, J.B.L., and Zaldivar, JJ., took no part.

Footnotes

This and the following footnotes express my opinion on certain controversial articles of the
1

New Civil Code, which was drafted when I was a member of the Code Commission.

(a) The holding in the case of Dyogi, et al. vs. Yatco, etc., et al., supra, at the term "physical
injuries" used in Article 33 of the Civil Code includes homicide or murder, is contrary to the
letter and spirit of the law. I recall that when the draft of what is now Article 33 of the New
Civil Code was presented for deliberation by Code Commission Chairman Dean Jorge C.
Bocobo, a great civilian, before the Code Commission (then composed of besides Chairman
Bocobo, Professor Guillermo B. Guevarra, Dean Pedro Y. Ylagan, and Dean Francisco R.
Capistrano, members), said Chairman made, in substance, the following remarks: In
America the injured party in crime has the initiative, through his lawyer he immediately files a
civil action for damages against the offender. In the Philippines the offended party depends
upon the fiscal to demand in the criminal action the damages he has suffered. I think it is
about time to educate our people the American way by giving the injured party in crime the
initiative to go to court through his lawyer to demand damages, and for this purpose we
should give him an independent civil action for damages. Let us begin with just three crimes
which are of common occurrence, namely, defamation, fraud, and physical injuries.
Depending upon the success of the experiment, when the new Civil Code may come up for
revision about fifty (50) or one hundred (100) years from now, it will be up to our successors
in the Code Commission to add more crimes to the three already mentioned or make the
provision comprise all crimes causing damages to the injured party. This civil action, as in
America, should proceed independently of the criminal action and should be proved only by
preponderance of evidence. Defamation may be oral or written. Fraud comprises all forms of
estafa. Physical Injuries is to be understood in its ordinary meaning and does not include
homicide or murder because where physical injuries result in homicide or murder, the reason
for the law (namely, to give the injured party personally the initiative to demand damages by
an independent civil action) ceases, for the reason that a dead person can no longer
personally, through his lawyer institute an independent civil action for damages. (All the
members of the Code Commission agreed with the Chairman and the draft of the article was
unanimously approved.)

In the Revised Penal Code, the crime of homicide is treated in Title Eight (Crimes Against
Persons), Chapter One (Destruction of life), while the crime of physical injuries is separately
treated in Chapter Two of the same title. This shows that the two crimes are distinct from
each other, that physical injuries is not included in homicide.

(b) Article 32 (drafted by Code Commission Chairman Bocobo) of the Civil Code is also
intended, insofar as it provides for an independent civil action, to educate the Filipino the
American way by going immediately to the courts to file a civil action for damages in
vindication of his constitutional rights and liberties enumerated in the article in case of
violation of any of them.

(c) Article 34 of the Civil Code, insofar as it authorizes the institution of an independent civil
action, is also intended for the same purpose.

2(a) The crime of reckless imprudence resulting in the death of Clemente Marcia and
physical injuries to two other persons not being one of the three crimes mentioned in Article
33 of the Civil Code which authorizes the institution of an independent civil action for
damages, the heirs of the deceased correctly reserved their right to institute a separate civil
action for damages against the bus driver, Felardo Paje, who stood charged with the crime of
homicide and double physical injuries through reckless imprudence. The reservation was in
accordance with what is now Rule 111, Section 1, of the Rules of Court, which provides:

Institution of criminal and civil action. — When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action
for recovery of a civil liability arising from the offense charged is impliedly instituted with the
criminal action, unless the offended party expressly waives the civil action or reserves his
right to institute it separately.

The civil action for damages against Felardo Paje was prematurely instituted in view of Rule
111, Section 3, which, in part, provides:

Criminal and civil actions arising from the same offense may be instituted separately, but
after the criminal action has been commenced the civil action cannot be instituted until final
judgment has been rendered in the criminal action.

At any rate, said civil action was correctly suspended in the Court of First Instance until final
judgment by the Court of Appeals in the criminal action was rendered pursuant to Section
3(b) of said Rule 111 which provides that:

After a criminal action has been commenced, no civil action arising from the same offense
can be prosecuted, and the same shall be suspended, in whatever stage it may be found,
until final judgment in the criminal proceeding has been rendered.

The decision of the Court of Appeals acquitting the appellant Felardo Paje of the crime of
reckless imprudence charged against him on the ground that it did not exist, extinguished the
civil action for damages filed against him, in accordance with Section 3(c) of Rule 111 which
states that:

Extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction
proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil might arise
did not exist. ....

This rule finds support in the celebrated case of Chantangco vs. Abaroa, supra.
(b) Section 2 of Rule 111 which provides:

Independent civil action. — In the cases provided for in Articles 31, 32, 33, 34 and 2177 of
the Civil Code of the Philippines, an independent civil action entirely separate and distinct
from the criminal action, may be brought by the injured party during the pendency of the
criminal case, provided the right is reserved as required in the preceding section. Such civil
action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a
preponderance of evidence.

is defective and imperfect in many ways:

First. Article 31 of the Civil Code does not provide for an independent civil action. An
independent civil action is an action that is based upon the same criminal act as in the case
of Articles 32, 33 and 34. When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the
act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action being based upon an obligation
not arising from the criminal act but from a different source, is not an independent civil action
within the meaning of Articles 32, 33 and 34. Article 31 (drafted by Code Commissioner
Capistrano) which provides that:

When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the act or omission
complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of the criminal
proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.

states a self-explanatory rule different and distinct from that laid down in Articles 32, 33 and
34. For example: A is prosecuted for the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
The heirs of the deceased institute a civil action for damages against him based upon quasi-
delict, under Article 2177 of the Civil Code, which is separate and distinct from criminal
negligence punished as a crime or delict under the Revised Penal Code. Quasi-delict is
culpa aquiliana and is separate and distinct from criminal negligence, which is a delict. The
distinction is made in Article 2177 itself which in part provides that:

Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is entirely separate and
distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff
cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant.

Code Commission Chairman Bocobo, who drafted Article 2177 of the New Civil Code, took
the distinction from modern authorities in civil law. Accordingly, the report of the Code
Commission on the Project of Civil Code makes reference to the sources of the distinction,
thus:

The foregoing provision though at first sight startling, is not so novel or extraordinary when
we consider the exact nature of criminal and civil negligence. The former is a violation of the
criminal law, while the latter, is a distinct and independent negligence, which is the 'culpa
aquiliana' or quasi-delict, of ancient origin, having always had its own foundation and
individuality, separate from criminal negligence. Such distinction between criminal
negligence and 'culpa extra-contractual' or 'quasi-delict' has been sustained by decisions of
the Supreme Court of Spain and maintained as clear, sound, and perfectly tenable by Maura,
an outstanding Spanish jurist." .

Therefore, under the proposed article 2177, acquittal from an accusation of criminal
negligence, whether on reasonable doubt or not, shall not be a bar to a subsequent civil
action, not for civil liability arising from criminal negligence, but for damages due to a 'quasi-
delict' or 'culpa aquiliana'. But said article forestalls a double recovery. (Capistrano, Civil
Code of the Philippines, With Comments and Annotations, Vol. 4, p. 470.)

Second. As above explained, Article 2177 of the Civil Code does not provide for an
independent civil action in crime. The article precisely distinguishes quasi-delict or civil
negligence from criminal negligence (reckless imprudence) and authorizes the institution of a
civil action for damages based upon quasi-delict and not upon criminal negligence, which is
a delict and not a quasi-delict. In accordance with Article 31, the civil action for damages
based upon quasi-delict may proceed independently of the criminal proceeding for criminal
negligence and regardless of the result of the latter. Hence, even if the defendant is
acquitted in the criminal action of the charge of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide,
the civil action for damages for the death of the deceased based upon quasi-delict may
proceed to judgment.

Third. The proviso in Section 2 of Rule 111, with reference to the correctly cited Articles 32,
33 and 34 of the Civil Code, is contrary to the letter and spirit of the said articles, for these
articles were drafted for the purpose explained in footnote one and are intended to constitute
as exceptions to the general rule stated in what is now Section 1 of Rule 111. The proviso,
which is procedural, may also be regarded as an unauthorized amendment of substantive
law, Articles 32, 33 and 34 of the Civil Code, which do not provide for the reservation
required in the proviso.

In view of all the foregoing, Section 2 of Rule 111 should be amended so as to read as
follows:

Independent civil action. — In the cases provided for in Articles 32, 33 and 34 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines, an independent civil action entirely separate and distinct from the
criminal action, may be brought by the injured party before or after the criminal action is
instituted. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall
require only a preponderance of evidence. Notice shall be given in the criminal action of the
institution of the civil action or of the intention to institute the same.

3The prayer of the complaint in the civil action asked that the defendants, Felardo Paje and
the Victory Liner Transportation Co., Inc., be ordered to pay jointly and severally the
damages claimed by plaintiffs. This prayer, considering the action as one upon a quasi-
delict, is not in accordance with law. In quasi-delict, according to Article 2180 of the Civil
Code, the obligation to pay damages is demandable not only for one's own acts or
omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible. The article then, in part
continues: "The owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise, are likewise
responsible for damages caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which
the latter are employed, or on the occasion of their functions." Hence, the bus driver, Felardo
Paje, was responsible for the quasi-delict, he being, in the language of the American law, a
tort-feasor. Likewise, the bus operator, Victory Liner Transportation Co., Inc., was liable for
the quasi-delict of its bus driver. This liability is not solidary but primary, with right to full
reimbursement pursuant to Article 2181, which provides: .

Whoever pays for the damages caused by his dependents or employees may recover from
the latter what he has paid or delivered in satisfaction of the claim.

The prayer of the complaint, based upon a quasi-delict, against the bus driver, Felardo Paje,
and the bus operator, Victory Liner Transportation Co., Inc., should have been that the
plaintiffs recover the damages claimed from either of them. The bus operator defendant
Victory Liner Transportation Co., Inc., could have filed a third-party complaint against the
defendant bus driver, pleading its right for reimbursement under Article 2181.

When is the bus operator solidarily liable with the bus driver? Article 2184 of the Civil Code
provides:

In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable with his driver, if the former, who was
in the vehicle, could have by the use of due diligence, prevented the misfortune. .... "If the
owner was not in the motor vehicle, the provisions of article 2180 are applicable.

This article (drafted by Code Commission Chairman Bocobo) is intended to cover only the
owners of private motor vehicles for private use. It is not generally applicable to motor
vehicles for public use and convenience because the operator thereof, usually a corporation,
cannot in the very nature of things, be in the motor vehicle at the time of the mishap.
However, if the manager of the bus company was in the bus at the time of the mishap, Article
2184 may be applied by analogy.

In the case of De Leon Brokerage Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-15247,
February 28, 1962, it was held that in quasi-delict, the bus operator is solidarily liable with the
bus driver in view of article 2194 of the Civil Code which provides:

"The responsibility of two or more persons who are liable for a quasi-delict is solidary.
This article (drafted by Code Commissioner Capistrano) merely restates the basic rule in
American law that joint tort-feasors are jointly and severally liable for the tort. In the case of a
quasi-delict committed by a bus driver, he alone is the tort-feasor; the bus operator is not a
joint tort-feasor. For this reason the liability of the bus operator is not governed by Article
2194 but by Article 2180.

Joint tort-feasors in American law are the same as co-authors or co-principals of a quasi-
delict in the civil law, and it is only to them that Article 2194 is applicable. A bus operator is
not a co-author or co-principal of the tort committed by its bus driver; hence, it cannot be
made solidarily liable with the bus driver under Article 2194. Its liability is that of an employer
under Article 2180, with right to full reimbursement under Article 2181.

To make the bus operator solidarily liable with the driver would diminish its right to full
reimbursement from the driver because in passive solidarity, the solidary debtors share
equally in the obligation (Article 1208, Civil Code). Consequently, if the bus operator's liability
were solidary, in the event of full payment by it of the obligation, its right to reimbursement
from the bus driver would only be of one-half of the obligation because its share of the
solidary obligation would be one-half. This would result in reducing by one-half its right to full
reimbursement under Article 2181.

The prayer for solidary liability in the complaint against the defendants Felardo Paje and the
Victory Liner Transportation Co. Inc., considering the complaint as based upon criminal
negligence, is likewise not in the accordance with law. In crime committed by an employee
within the scope of his duties, the employer's liability is subsidiary, not solidary, in
accordance with Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code which provides:.

ART. 103. Subsidiary civil liability of other persons. — The subsidiary liability established in
the next preceding article shall also apply to employers, teachers, persons, and corporations
engaged in any kind of industry for felonies committed by their servants, pupils, workmen,
apprentices, or employees in the discharge of their duties.
G.R. No. L-69866 April 15, 1988

ROGELIO ABERCA, RODOLFO BENOSA, NESTOR BODINO NOEL ETABAG DANILO DE LA


FUENTE, BELEN DIAZ-FLORES, MANUEL MARIO GUZMAN, ALAN JAZMINEZ, EDWIN LOPEZ,
ALFREDO MANSOS, ALEX MARCELINO, ELIZABETH PROTACIO-MARCELINO, JOSEPH
OLAYER, CARLOS PALMA, MARCO PALO, ROLANDO SALUTIN, BENJAMIN SESGUNDO,
ARTURO TABARA, EDWIN TULALIAN and REBECCA TULALIAN petitioners,
vs.
MAJ. GEN. FABIAN VER, COL. FIDEL SINGSON, COL. ROLANDO ABADILLA, COL. GERARDO
B. LANTORIA, COL. GALILEO KINTANAR, 1ST LT. COL. PANFILO M. LACSON, MAJ.
RODOLFO AGUINALDO, CAPT. DANILO PIZARRO, 1ST LT. PEDRO TANGO, 1ST LT. ROMEO
RICARDO, 1ST LT. RAUL BACALSO, MSGT BIENVENIDO BALABA and REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch XCV (95), Quezon City, respondents.

YAP, J.:

This petition for certiorari presents vital issues not heretofore passed upon by this Court. It poses the question whether the suspension of the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus bars a civil action for damages for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations
of rights and liberties guaranteed under the Constitution. If such action for damages may be maintained, who can be held liable for such
violations: only the military personnel directly involved and/or their superiors as well.

This case stems from alleged illegal searches and seizures and other violations of the rights and
liberties of plaintiffs by various intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, known as
Task Force Makabansa (TFM) ordered by General Fabian Ver "to conduct pre-emptive strikes
against known communist-terrorist (CT) underground houses in view of increasing reports about CT
plans to sow disturbances in Metro Manila," Plaintiffs allege, among others, that complying with said
order, elements of the TFM raided several places, employing in most cases defectively issued
judicial search warrants; that during these raids, certain members of the raiding party confiscated a
number of purely personal items belonging to plaintiffs; that plaintiffs were arrested without proper
warrants issued by the courts; that for some period after their arrest, they were denied visits of
relatives and lawyers; that plaintiffs were interrogated in violation of their rights to silence and
counsel; that military men who interrogated them employed threats, tortures and other forms of
violence on them in order to obtain incriminatory information or confessions and in order to punish
them; that all violations of plaintiffs constitutional rights were part of a concerted and deliberate plan
to forcibly extract information and incriminatory statements from plaintiffs and to terrorize, harass and
punish them, said plans being previously known to and sanctioned by defendants.

Plaintiffs sought actual/compensatory damages amounting to P39,030.00; moral damages in the


amount of at least P150,000.00 each or a total of P3,000,000.00; exemplary damages in the amount
of at least P150,000.00 each or a total of P3,000,000.00; and attorney's fees amounting to not less
than P200,000.00.

A motion to dismiss was filed by defendants, through their counsel, then Solicitor-General Estelito
Mendoza, alleging that (1) plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the circumstances of their
detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus is suspended; (2) assuming that the courts can entertain the present action, defendants are
immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties; and (3) the complaint
states no cause of action against the defendants. Opposition to said motion to dismiss was filed by
plaintiffs Marco Palo, Danilo de la Fuente, Benjamin Sesgundo, Nel Etabag, Alfredo Mansos and
Rolando Salutin on July 8, 1983, and by plaintiffs Edwin Lopez, Manuel Mario Guzman, Alan
Jasminez, Nestor Bodino, Carlos Palma, Arturo Tabara, Joseph Olayer, Rodolfo Benosa, Belen
Diaz, Flores, Rogelio Aberca, Alex Marcelino and Elizabeth Marcelino on July 21, 1983. On
November 7, 1983, a Consolidated Reply was filed by defendants' counsel.

Then, on November 8, 1983, the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Branch 95, Judge
Willelmo C. Fortun, Presiding, 1 issued a resolution granting the motion to dismiss. I sustained, lock,
stock and barrel, the defendants' contention (1) the plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the
circumstances of their detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus is suspended; (2) that assuming that the court can entertain the present
action, defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties;
and (3) that the complaint states no cause of action against defendants, since there is no allegation
that the defendants named in the complaint confiscated plaintiffs' purely personal properties in
violation of their constitutional rights, and with the possible exception of Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo
and Sergeant Bienvenido Balabo committed acts of torture and maltreatment, or that the defendants
had the duty to exercise direct supervision and control of their subordinates or that they had
vicarious liability as employers under Article 2180 of the Civil Code. The lower court stated, "After a
careful study of defendants' arguments, the court finds the same to be meritorious and must,
therefore, be granted. On the other hand, plaintiffs' arguments in their opposition are lacking in
merit."

A motion to set aside the order dismissing the complaint and a supplemental motion for
reconsideration was filed by the plaintiffs on November 18, 1983, and November 24, 1983,
respectively. On December 9, 1983, the defendants filed a comment on the aforesaid motion of
plaintiffs, furnishing a copy thereof to the attorneys of all the plaintiffs, namely, Attys. Jose W.
Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Auguso Sanchez, Antonio L. Rosales,
Pedro B. Ella Jr., Arno V. Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Ramon
Esguerra and Felicitas Aquino.

On December 15, 1983, Judge Fortun issued an order voluntarily inhibiting himself from further
proceeding in the case and leaving the resolution of the motion to set aside the order of dismissal to
Judge Lising, "to preclude any suspicion that he (Judge Fortun) cannot resolve [the] aforesaid
pending motion with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge and to put an end to plaintiffs assertion
that the undersigned has no authority or jurisdiction to resolve said pending motion." This order
prompted plaintiffs to reesolve an amplificatory motion for reconsideration signed in the name of the
Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) of Mabini Legal Aid Committee, by Attys. Joker P. Arroyo,
Felicitas Aquino and Arno Sanidad on April 12, 1984. On May 2,1984, the defendants filed a
comment on said amplificatory motion for reconsideration.

In an order dated May 11, 1984, the trial court, Judge Esteban Lising, Presiding, without acting on
the motion to set aside order of November 8, 1983, issued an order, as follows:

It appearing from the records that, indeed, the following plaintiffs, Rogelio Aberca,
Danilo de la Fuente and Marco Palo, represented by counsel, Atty. Jose W. Diokno,
Alan Jasminez represented by counsel, Atty. Augusta Sanchez, Spouses Alex
Marcelino and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, represented by counsel, Atty. Procopio
Beltran, Alfredo Mansos represented by counsel, Atty. Rene Sarmiento, and Rolando
Salutin, represented by counsel, Atty. Efren Mercado, failed to file a motion to
reconsider the Order of November 8, 1983, dismissing the complaint, nor interposed
an appeal therefrom within the reglementary period, as prayed for by the defendants,
said Order is now final against said plaintiffs.

Assailing the said order of May 11, 1984, the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration on May
28,1984, alleging that it was not true that plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente, Marco Palo,
Alan Jasminez, Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin
failed to file a motion to reconsider the order of November 8, 1983 dismissing the complaint, within
the reglementary period. Plaintiffs claimed that the motion to set aside the order of November 8,
1983 and the amplificatory motion for reconsideration was filed for all the plaintiffs, although signed
by only some of the lawyers.

In its resolution of September 21, 1984, the respondent court dealt with both motions (1) to
reconsider its order of May 11, 1984 declaring that with respect to certain plaintiffs, the resolution of
November 8, 1983 had already become final, and (2) to set aside its resolution of November 8, 1983
granting the defendants' motion to dismiss. In the dispositive portion of the order of September 21,
1984, the respondent court resolved:

(1) That the motion to set aside the order of finality, dated May 11, 1984, of the
Resolution of dismissal of the complaint of plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la
Fuente, Marco Palo, Alan Jasminez Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino,
Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin is deed for lack of merit;

(2) For lack of cause of action as against the following defendants, to wit:

1. Gen Fabian Ver

2. Col. Fidel Singson


3. Col. Rolando Abadilla

4. Lt. Col. Conrado Lantoria, Jr.

5. Col. Galileo Montanar

6. Col. Panfilo Lacson

7. Capt. Danilo Pizaro

8. 1 Lt Pedro Tango

9. Lt. Romeo Ricardo

10. Lt. Raul Bacalso

the motion to set aside and reconsider the Resolution of dismissal of the present
action or complaint, dated November 8, 1983, is also denied but in so far as it affects
and refers to defendants, to wit:

1. Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo, and

2. Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba

the motion to reconsider and set aside the Resolution of dismissal dated November
3, 1983 is granted and the Resolution of dismissal is, in this respect, reconsidered
and modified.

Hence, petitioners filed the instant petition for certiorari on March 15, 1985 seeking to annul and set
aside the respondent court's resolution of November 8, 1983, its order of May 11, 1984, and its
resolution dated September 21, 1984. Respondents were required to comment on the petition, which
it did on November 9, 1985. A reply was filed by petitioners on August 26, 1986.

We find the petition meritorious and decide to give it due course.

At the heart of petitioners' complaint is Article 32 of the Civil Code which provides:

ART. 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual who directly or
indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the
following rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for
damages:

(1) Freedom of religion;

(2) Freedom of speech;

(3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;

(4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;

(5) Freedom of suffrage;

(6) The right against deprivation of property without due process

(7) of law;

(8) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public use;

(9) The right to the equal protection of the laws;


(10) The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures;

(11) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;

(12) The privacy of cmmunication and correspondence;

(13) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes not
contrary to law;

(14) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the Government for
redress of grievances;

(15) The right to be free from involuntary servitude in any form;

(16) The rigth of the accused against excessive bail;

(17) The rigth of the aaccused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy and public
trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure
the attendance of witness in behalf;

(18) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against ones self, or from being
forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to
make such confession, except when the person confessing becomes a State
witness;

(19) Freedom from excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment, unless the
same is imposed or inflicted in accordance with a statute which has not been
judicially declared unconstitutional; and

(20) Freedom of access to the courts.

In any of the cases referred to in this article, whether or not the defendant's act or
omission constitutes a criminal offense, the against grieved party has a right to
commence an entirely separate and distinct civil action for damages, and for other
relief. Such civil action shall proceed independently of any criminal prosecution (if the
latter be instituted), and may be proved by a preponderance of evidence.

The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be
adjudicated.

The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from a judge unless his act or
omission constitutes a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.

It is obvious that the purpose of the above codal provision is to provide a sanction to the deeply
cherished rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. Its message is clear; no man may seek
to violate those sacred rights with impunity. In times of great upheaval or of social and political
stress, when the temptation is strongest to yield — borrowing the words of Chief Justice Claudio
Teehankee — to the law of force rather than the force of law, it is necessary to remind ourselves that
certain basic rights and liberties are immutable and cannot be sacrificed to the transient needs or
imperious demands of the ruling power. The rule of law must prevail, or else liberty will perish. Our
commitment to democratic principles and to the rule of law compels us to reject the view which
reduces law to nothing but the expression of the will of the predominant power in the community.
"Democracy cannot be a reign of progress, of liberty, of justice, unless the law is respected by him
who makes it and by him for whom it is made. Now this respect implies a maximum of faith, a
minimum of Idealism. On going to the bottom of the matter, we discover that life demands of us a
certain residuum of sentiment which is not derived from reason, but which reason nevertheless
controls. 2

Seeking to justify the dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint, the respondents postulate the view that as
public officers they are covered by the mantle of state immunity from suit for acts done in the
performance of official duties or function In support of said contention, respondents maintain that —
Respondents are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Their primary
duty is to safeguard public safety and order. The Constitution no less provides that
the President may call them "to prevent or supress lawless violence, invasion,
insurrection or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof." (Constitution, Article VII,
Section 9).

On January 17, 1981, the President issued Proclamation No. 2045 lifting martial law
but providing for the continued suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus in view of the remaining dangers to the security of the nation. The
proclamation also provided "that the call to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to
prevent or suppress lawless violence, insuitection rebellion and subversion shall
continue to be in force and effect."

Petitioners allege in their complaint that their causes of action proceed from
respondent General Ver's order to Task Force Makabansa to launch pre-emptive
strikes against communist terrorist underground houses in Metro Manila. Petitioners
claim that this order and its subsequent implementation by elements of the task force
resulted in the violation of their constitutional rights against unlawful searches,
seizures and arrest, rights to counsel and to silence, and the right to property and
that, therefore, respondents Ver and the named members of the task force should be
held liable for damages.

But, by launching a pre-emptive strike against communist terrorists, respondent


members of the armed forces merely performed their official and constitutional
duties. To allow petitioners to recover from respondents by way of damages for acts
performed in the exercise of such duties run contrary to the policy considerations to
shield respondents as public officers from undue interference with their duties and
from potentially disabling threats of hability (Aarlon v. Fitzgerald 102 S. Ct. 2731-1
Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, 16 Phil. 634), and upon the necessity of protecting the
performance of governmental and public functions from being harassed unduly or
constantly interrupted by private suits (McCallan v. State, 35 Cal. App. 605; Metran v.
Paredes, 79 Phil. 819).

xxx xxx xxx

The immunity of public officers from liability arising from the performance of their
duties is now a settled jurisprudence Alzua v. Johnson, 21 Phil. 308; Zulueta v.
Nicolas, 102 Phil. 944; Spalding v. Vilas, 161 US 483; 40 L. Ed. 780, 16 S. Ct. 631;
Barr v. Mateo, 360; Butz v. Economon, 438 US 478; 57 L. Ed. 2d 895, 98 S. Ct.
2894; Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 US 232; Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, supra; Miller v. de
Leune, 602 F. 2d 198; Sami v. US, 617 F. 2d 755).

Respondents-defendants who merely obeyed the lawful orders of the President and
his call for the suppression of the rebellion involving petitioners enjoy such immunity
from Suit.3

We find respondents' invocation of the doctrine of state immunity from suit totally misplaced. The
cases invoked by respondents actually involved acts done by officers in the performance of official
duties written the ambit of their powers. As held in Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and Crossfield: 4

No one can be held legally responsible in damages or otherwise for doing in a legal
manner what he had authority, under the law, to do. Therefore, if the Governor-
General had authority, under the law to deport or expel the defendants, and
circumstances justifying the deportation and the method of carrying it out are left to
him, then he cannot be held liable in damages for the exercise of this power.
Moreover, if the courts are without authority to interfere in any manner, for the
purpose of controlling or interferring with the exercise of the political powers vested in
the chief executive authority of the Government, then it must follow that the courts
cannot intervene for the purpose of declaring that he is liable in damages for the
exeercise of this authority.

It may be that the respondents, as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, were merely
responding to their duty, as they claim, "to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insurrection,
rebellion and subversion" in accordance with Proclamation No. 2054 of President Marcos, despite
the lifting of martial law on January 27, 1981, and in pursuance of such objective, to launch pre-
emptive strikes against alleged communist terrorist underground houses. But this cannot be
construed as a blanket license or a roving commission untramelled by any constitutional restraint, to
disregard or transgress upon the rights and liberties of the individual citizen enshrined in and
protected by the Constitution. The Constitution remains the supreme law of the land to which all
officials, high or low, civilian or military, owe obedience and allegiance at all times.

Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any private individual
liable in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as enumerated
therein, does not exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability
under the said article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Penal
Code or other penal statute.

This is not to say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their assigned task or carrying
out their mission with vigor. We have no quarrel with their duty to protect the Republic from its
enemies, whether of the left or of the right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy or subvert
our democratic institutions and imperil their very existence. What we are merely trying to say is that
in carrying out this task and mission, constitutional and legal safeguards must be observed,
otherwise, the very fabric of our faith will start to unravel. In the battle of competing Ideologies, the
struggle for the mind is just as vital as the struggle of arms. The linchpin in that psychological
struggle is faith in the rule of law. Once that faith is lost or compromised, the struggle may well be
abandoned.

We do not find merit in respondents' suggestion that plaintiffs' cause of action is barred by the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Respondents contend that "Petitioners
cannot circumvent the suspension of the privilege of the writ by resorting to a damage suit aimed at
the same purpose-judicial inquiry into the alleged illegality of their detention. While the main relief
they ask by the present action is indemnification for alleged damages they suffered, their causes of
action are inextricably based on the same claim of violations of their constitutional rights that they
invoked in the habeas corpus case as grounds for release from detention. Were the petitioners
allowed the present suit, the judicial inquiry barred by the suspension of the privilege of the writ will
take place. The net result is that what the courts cannot do, i.e. override the suspension ordered by
the President, petitioners will be able to do by the mere expedient of altering the title of their action."

We do not agree. We find merit in petitioners' contention that the suspension of the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus does not destroy petitioners' right and cause of action for damages for illegal
arrest and detention and other violations of their constitutional rights. The suspension does not
render valid an otherwise illegal arrest or detention. What is suspended is merely the right of the
individual to seek release from detention through the writ of habeas corpus as a speedy means of
obtaining his liberty.

Moreover, as pointed out by petitioners, their right and cause of action for damages are explicitly
recognized in P.D. No. 1755 which amended Article 1146 of the Civil Code by adding the following to
its text:

However, when the action (for injury to the rights of the plaintiff or for a quasi-delict)
arises from or out of any act, activity or conduct of any public officer involving the
exercise of powers or authority arising from Martial Law including the arrest,
detention and/or trial of the plaintiff, the same must be brought within one (1) year.

Petitioners have a point in contending that even assuming that the suspension of the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus suspends petitioners' right of action for damages for illegal arrest and
detention, it does not and cannot suspend their rights and causes of action for injuries suffered
because of respondents' confiscation of their private belongings, the violation of their right to remain
silent and to counsel and their right to protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and
against torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

However, we find it unnecessary to address the constitutional issue pressed upon us. On March 25,
1986, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 2, revoking Proclamation Nos. 2045
and 2045-A and lifting the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The question
therefore has become moot and academic.
This brings us to the crucial issue raised in this petition. May a superior officer under the notion of
respondent superior be answerable for damages, jointly and severally with his subordinates, to the
person whose constitutional rights and liberties have been violated?

Respondents contend that the doctrine of respondent superior is applicable to the case. We agree.
The doctrine of respondent superior has been generally limited in its application to principal and
agent or to master and servant (i.e. employer and employee) relationship. No such relationship
exists between superior officers of the military and their subordinates.

Be that as it may, however, the decisive factor in this case, in our view, is the language of Article 32.
The law speaks of an officer or employee or person 'directly' or "indirectly" responsible for the
violation of the constitutional rights and liberties of another. Thus, it is not the actor alone (i.e. the
one directly responsible) who must answer for damages under Article 32; the person indirectly
responsible has also to answer for the damages or injury caused to the aggrieved party.

By this provision, the principle of accountability of public officials under the Constitution 5 acquires
added meaning and asgilrnes a larger dimension. No longer may a superior official relax his
vigilance or abdicate his duty to supervise his subordinates, secure in the thought that he does not
have to answer for the transgressions committed by the latter against the constitutionally protected
rights and liberties of the citizen. Part of the factors that propelled people power in February 1986
was the widely held perception that the government was callous or indifferent to, if not actually
responsible for, the rampant violations of human rights. While it would certainly be go naive to expect
that violators of human rights would easily be deterred by the prospect of facing damage suits, it
should nonetheless be made clear in no ones terms that Article 32 of the Civil Code makes the
persons who are directly, as well as indirectly, responsible for the transgression joint tortfeasors.

In the case at bar, the trial court dropped defendants General Fabian Ver, Col. Fidel Singson, Col.
Rolando Abadilla, Col. Gerardo Lantoria, Jr., Col. Galileo Kintanar, Col. Panfilo Lacson, Capt. Danilo
Pizarro, lst Lt. Pedro Tango, Lt. Romeo Ricardo and Lt. Ricardo Bacalso from the acts of their
subordinates. Only Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba were kept as
defendants on the ground that they alone 'have been specifically mentioned and Identified to have
allegedly caused injuries on the persons of some of the plaintiff which acts of alleged physical
violence constitute a delict or wrong that gave rise to a cause of action. But such finding is not
supported by the record, nor is it in accord with law and jurisprudence.

Firstly, it is wrong to at the plaintiffs' action for damages 5 Section 1, Article 19. to 'acts of alleged
physical violence" which constituted delict or wrong. Article 32 clearly specifies as actionable the act
of violating or in any manner impeding or impairing any of the constitutional rights and liberties
enumerated therein, among others —

1. Freedom from arbitrary arrest or illegal detention;

2. The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;

3. The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures;

4. The privacy of communication and correspondence;

5. Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or from being
forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to
make a confession, except when the person confessing becomes a state witness.

The complaint in this litigation alleges facts showing with abundant clarity and details, how plaintiffs'
constitutional rights and liberties mentioned in Article 32 of the Civil Code were violated and impaired
by defendants. The complaint speaks of, among others, searches made without search warrants or
based on irregularly issued or substantially defective warrants; seizures and confiscation, without
proper receipts, of cash and personal effects belonging to plaintiffs and other items of property which
were not subversive and illegal nor covered by the search warrants; arrest and detention of plaintiffs
without warrant or under irregular, improper and illegal circumstances; detention of plaintiffs at
several undisclosed places of 'safehouses" where they were kept incommunicado and subjected to
physical and psychological torture and other inhuman, degrading and brutal treatment for the
purpose of extracting incriminatory statements. The complaint contains a detailed recital of abuses
perpetrated upon the plaintiffs violative of their constitutional rights.

Secondly, neither can it be said that only those shown to have participated "directly" should be held
liable. Article 32 of the Civil Code encompasses within the ambit of its provisions those directly, as
well as indirectly, responsible for its violation.

The responsibility of the defendants, whether direct or indirect, is amply set forth in the complaint. It
is well established in our law and jurisprudence that a motion to dismiss on the ground that the
complaint states no cause of action must be based on what appears on the face of the
complaint. 6 To determine the sufficiency of the cause of action, only the facts alleged in the
complaint, and no others, should be considered. 7 For this purpose, the motion to dismiss must
hypothetically admit the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint. 8

Applying this test, it is difficult to justify the trial court's ruling, dismissing for lack of cause of action
the complaint against all the defendants, except Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt.
Bienvenido Balaba. The complaint contained allegations against all the defendants which, if admitted
hypothetically, would be sufficient to establish a cause or causes of action against all of them under
Article 32 of the Civil Code.

This brings us to the last issue. Was the trial court correct in dismissing the complaint with respect to
plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Puente, Marco Palo, Alan Jazminez, Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth
Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin, on the basis of the alleged failure of said
plaintiffs to file a motion for reconsideration of the court's resolution of November 8, 1983, granting
the respondent's motion to dismiss?

It is undisputed that a timely motion to set aside said order of November 8, 1983 was filed by
'plaintiffs, through counsel. True, the motion was signed only by Atty. Joker P. Arroyo, counsel for
Benjamin Sesgulido; Atty. Antonio Rosales, counsel for Edwin Lopez and Manuel Martin Guzman;
Atty. Pedro B. Ella, Jr., counsel for Nestor Bodino and Carlos Palma; Atty. Arno V. Sanidad, counsel
for Arturo Tabara; Atty. Felicitas S. Aquino, counsel for Joseph Olayer; and Atty. Alexander Padilla,
counsel for Rodolfo Benosa.

But the body of the motion itself clearly indicated that the motion was filed on behalf of all the
plaintiffs. And this must have been also the understanding of defendants' counsel himself for when
he filed his comment on the motion, he furnished copies thereof, not just to the lawyers who signed
the motion, but to all the lawyers of plaintiffs, to wit: Attys. Jose Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene
Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Augusto Sanchez, Antonio Rosales, Pedro Efla Jr., Arno Sanidad,
Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Ramon Esguerra and Felicitas S. Aquino.

In filing the motion to set aside the resolution of November 8, 1983, the signing attorneys did so on
behalf of all the plaintiff. They needed no specific authority to do that. The authority of an attorney to
appear for and in behalf of a party can be assumed, unless questioned or challenged by the adverse
party or the party concerned, which was never done in this case. Thus, it was grave abuse on the
part of respondent judge to take it upon himself to rule that the motion to set aside the order of
November 8, 1953 dismissing the complaint was filed only by some of the plaintiffs, when by its very
language it was clearly intended to be filed by and for the benefit of all of them. It is obvious that the
respondent judge took umbrage under a contrived technicality to declare that the dismissal of the
complaint had already become final with respect to some of the plaintiffs whose lawyers did not sign
the motion for reconsideration. Such action tainted with legal infirmity cannot be sanctioned.

Accordingly, we grant the petition and annul and set aside the resolution of the respondent court,
dated November 8, 1983, its order dated May 11, 1984 and its resolution dated September 21, 1984.
Let the case be remanded to the respondent court for further proceedings. With costs against private
respondents.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-22759 March 29, 1968

MANUEL R. JIMENEZ, petitioner,


vs.
HON. ALBERTO V. AVERIA, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cavite and OFELIA V.
TANG and ESTEPANIA DE LA CRUZ OLANDAY, respondents.

David F. Barrera for petitioner.


Alfredo I. Raya and Raul A. Manalo for respondents.
Jimenez vs. Averia.

DIZON, J.:

In Criminal Case No. TM-235 of the Court of First Instance of Cavite respondents Ofelia V.
Tang and Estefania de la Cruz Olanday were charged with estafa, the information filed alleging that,
having received from Manuel Jimenez the sum of P20,000.00 with which to purchase for him a
fishing boat known as "Basnig", with the obligation on their part to return the money on January, 30,
1963 in case they should fail to buy the fishing boat, they misappropriated the amount aforesaid, to
the damage and prejudice of Jimenez.

Before arraignment, the accused filed Civil Case No. 6636 against Jimenez in the Court of
First Instance of Quezon contesting the validity of a certain receipt signed by them on October 26,
1962 (Annex "A" of the present petition) wherein they acknowledged having received from him the
sum of P20,000.00 with which to purchase for him a fishing boat and its accessories, and the further
sum of P240.00 as agent's commission, with the obligation, on their part, to return the aforesaid
amounts on January 30, 1963 in case they were unable to buy the fishing boat. Their complaint
alleged that they had never received any amount from Jimenez and that their signatures on the
questioned receipt were secured by means of fraud, deceit and intimidation employed by him.
Several days later, they filed a motion in the aforementioned criminal action to suspend proceedings
therein on the ground that the determination of the issue involved in Civil Case No. 6636 of the Court
of First Instance of Quezon was a prejudicial question. The respondent judge granted the motion in
an order dated October 18, 1963.

The petition now before Us is one for certiorari predicated upon the proposition that in issuing
the order just mentioned, the respondent judge committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction. Properly, however, the action is for the issuance of a writ of mandamus, the relief
prayed being for this Court "to order the Hon. Court of Cavite Province to proceed with the case and
to order the Hon. Court at Quezon Province to dismiss the civil case".

The issue to be decided is whether the determination of the issue raised in the civil case
mentioned heretofore is a prejudicial question, in the sense that it must be first resolved before the
proceedings in the criminal case for estafa may proceed.

A prejudicial question has been define to be one which arises in a case, the resolution of
which, (question ) is a logical antecedent of the issued involved in said case, and the cognizance of
which pertains to another tribunal (Encyclopedia Juridical Española, p. 228). In People vs. Aragon,
G.R. No. L-5930, February 17, 1954, We held in connection with this subject that the question
claimed to be prejudicial in nature must be determinative of the case before the court, and that
jurisdiction to try and resolve said question must be lodged in another tribunal.

Applying the above considerations to the instance case, it will be readily seen that the alleged
prejudicial question is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the parties charged with estafa,
because even on the assumption that the execution of the receipt whose annulment they sought in
the civil case was vitiated by fraud, duress or intimidation, their guilt could still be established by
other evidence showing, to the degree required by law, that they had actually received from the
complaint the sum of P20,000.00 with which to buy for him a fishing boat, and that, instead of doing
so, they misappropriated the money and refused or otherwise failed to return it to him upon demand.
The contention of the private respondents herein would be tenable had they been charged with
falsification of the same receipt involved in the civil action.

Were We to sanction the theory advanced by the respondents Tang and De la Cruz Olanday
and adopted by the respondent judge, there would hardly be a case for estafa that could be
prosecuted speedily, it being the easiest thing for the accused to block the proceedings by the
simple expedient of filing an independent civil action against the complainant, raising therein the
issue that he had not received from the latter the amount alleged to have been misappropriated. A
claim to this effect is properly a matter of defense to be interposed by the party charged in the
criminal proceeding.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the respondent Court of First Instance
of Cavite to proceed without undue delay with the trial of Criminal Case No. TM-235, with the result
that the order complained of suspending the proceedings therein until after Civil Case No. 6636 of
the Court of First Instance of Quezon has been resolved is hereby set aside. With cost against the
respondent except the respondent judge.
G.R. No. L-22579 February 23, 1968

ROLANDO LANDICHO, petitioner,


vs.
HON. LORENZO RELOVA, in his capacity as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Batangas,
Branch I, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Jose W. Diokno for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General for respondents.

FERNANDO, J.:

In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question before the
Court is whether or not the existence of a civil suit for the annulment of marriage at the instance of
the second wife against petitioner, with the latter in turn filing a third party complaint against the first
spouse for the annulment of the first marriage, constitutes a prejudicial question in a pending suit for
bigamy against him. Respondent, Judge Relova answered in the negative. We sustain him.

The pertinent facts as set forth in the petition follow. On February 27, 1963, petitioner was
charged before the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch I, presided over by respondent
Judge, with the offense, of bigamy. It was alleged in the information that petitioner "being then
lawfully married to Elvira Makatangay, which marriage has not been legally dissolved, did then and
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with Fe Lourdes Pasia." On
March 15, 1963, an action was filed before the Court of First Instance ofBatangas, likewise presided
plaintiff respondent Judge Fe Lourdes Pasia, seeking to declare her marriage to petitioner as null
and void ab initio because of the alleged use of force, threats and intimidation allegedly employed by
petitioner and because of its allegedly bigamous character. On June 15, 1963, petitioner as
defendant in said case, filed a third-party complaint, against the third-party defendant Elvira
Makatangay, the first spouse, praying that his marriage with the said third-party defendant be
declared null and void, on the ground that by means of threats, force and intimidation, she compelled
him to appear and contract marriage with her before the Justice of the Peace of Makati, Rizal.

Thereafter, on October 7, 1963, petitioner moved to suspend the hearing of the criminal case
pending the decision on the question of the validity of the two marriages involved in the pending civil
suit. Respondent Judge on November 19, 1963 denied the motion for lack of merit. Then came a
motion for reconsideration to set aside the above order, which was likewise denied on March 2,
1964. Hence this petition, filed on March 13, 1964.

In a resolution of this Court of March 17, 1964, respondent Judge was required to answer
within ten (10) days, with a preliminary injunction being issued to restrain him from further
proceeding with the prosecution of the bigamy case. In the meanwhile, before the answer was filed
there was an amended petition for certiorari, the amendment consisting solely in the inclusion of the
People of the Philippines as another respondent. This Court admitted such amended petition in a
resolution of April 3, 1964.

Then came the answer to the amended petition on May 14 of that year where the statement of
facts as above detailed was admitted, with the qualifications that the bigamy charge was filed upon
the complaint of the first spouse Elvira Makatangay. It alleged as one of its special and affirmative
defenses that the mere fact that "there are actions to annul the marriages entered into by the
accused in a bigamy case does not mean that 'prejudicial questions are automatically raised in said
civil actions as to warrant the suspension of the criminal case for bigamy." 1 The answer stressed that
even on the assumption that the first marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner,
the fact would not be material to the outcome of the criminal case. It continued, referring to Viada,
that "parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for this must
be submitted to the judgment of competent courts and only when the nullity of a marriage is so
declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that
the marriage exists. Therefore, according to Viada, he who contracts a second marriage before the
judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage incurs the penalty provided for in this Article. . . ." 2

This defense is in accordance with the principle implicit in authoritative decisions of this Court.
In Merced v. Diez, 3 what was in issue was the validity of the second marriage, "which must be
determined before hand in the civil action before the criminal action can proceed." According to the
opinion of Justice Labrador: "We have a situation where the issue of the validity of the second
marriage can be determined or must first be determined in the civil action before the criminal action
for bigamy can be prosecuted. The question of the validity of the second marriage is, therefore, a
prejudicial question because determination of the validity of the second marriage is determinable in
the civil action and must precede the criminal action for bigamy." It was the conclusion of this Court
then that for petitioner Merced to be found guilty of bigamy, the second marriage which he
contracted "must first be declared valid." Its validity having been questioned in the civil action, there
must be a decision in such a case "before the prosecution for bigamy can proceed."

To the same effect is the doctrine announced in Zapanta v. Mendoza. 4 As explained in the
opinion of Justice Dizon: "We have heretofore defined a prejudicial question as that which arises in a
case, the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the
cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. . . . The prejudicial question — we further said —
must be determinative of the case before the court, and jurisdiction to try the same must be lodged in
another court. . . . These requisites are present in the case at bar. Should the question for annulment
of the second marriage pending in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga prosper on the ground
that, according to the evidence, petitioner's consent thereto was obtained by means of duress, force
and intimidation, it is obvious that his act was involuntary and can not be the basis of his conviction
for the crime of bigamy with which he was charged in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. Thus
the issue involved in the action for the annulment of the second marriage is determinative of
petitioner's guilt or innocence of the crime of bigamy. . . ."

The situation in this case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for
bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared
to be indisputable. Then on March 15, 1963, it was the second spouse, not petitioner who filed an
action for nullity on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. It was sometime later, on June 15,
1963, to be precise, when petitioner, as defendant in the civil action, filed a third-party complaint
against the first spouse alleging that his marriage with her should be declared null and void on the
ground of force, threats and intimidation. As was correctly stressed in the answer of respondent
Judge relying on Viada, parties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its
nullity, only competent courts having such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity, the validity of
the first marriage is beyond question. A party who contracts a second marriage then assumes the
risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.

Such was the situation of petitioner. There is no occasion to indulge in the probability that the
third-party complaint against the first wife brought almost five months after the prosecution for
bigamy was started could have been inspired by the thought that he could thus give color to a
defense based on an alleged prejudicial question. The above judicial decisions as well as the
opinion of Viada preclude a finding that respondent Judge abused, much less gravely abused, his
discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied and the writ of preliminary injunction issued
dissolved. With costs. 1äwphï1.ñët
G.R. No. 26795 July 31, 1970

CARMEN QUIMIGUING, Suing through her parents, ANTONIO QUIMIGUING and JACOBA
CABILIN, plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
FELIX ICAO, defendant-appellee.

Torcuato L. Galon for plaintiffs-appellants.

Godardo Jacinto for defendant-appellee.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Appeal on points of law from an order of the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga del Norte (Judge
Onofre Sison Abalos, presiding), in its Civil Case No. 1590, dismissing a complaint for support and
damages, and another order denying amendment of the same pleading.

The events in the court of origin can be summarized as follows:

Appellant, Carmen Quimiguing, assisted by her parents, sued Felix Icao in the court below. In her
complaint it was averred that the parties were neighbors in Dapitan City, and had close and
confidential relations; that defendant Icao, although married, succeeded in having carnal intercourse
with plaintiff several times by force and intimidation, and without her consent; that as a result she
became pregnant, despite efforts and drugs supplied by defendant, and plaintiff had to stop
studying. Hence, she claimed support at P120.00 per month, damages and attorney's fees.

Duly summoned, defendant Icao moved to dismiss for lack of cause of action since the complaint did
not allege that the child had been born; and after hearing arguments, the trial judge sustained
defendant's motion and dismissed the complaint.

Thereafter, plaintiff moved to amend the complaint to allege that as a result of the intercourse,
plaintiff had later given birth to a baby girl; but the court, sustaining defendant's objection, ruled that
no amendment was allowable, since the original complaint averred no cause of action. Wherefore,
the plaintiff appealed directly to this Court.

We find the appealed orders of the court below to be untenable. A conceived child, although as yet
unborn, is given by law a provisional personality of its own for all purposes favorable to it, as
explicitly provided in Article 40 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. The unborn child, therefore, has a
right to support from its progenitors, particularly of the defendant-appellee (whose paternity is
deemed admitted for the purpose of the motion to dismiss), even if the said child is only "en ventre
de sa mere;" just as a conceived child, even if as yet unborn, may receive donations as prescribed
by Article 742 of the same Code, and its being ignored by the parent in his testament may result in
preterition of a forced heir that annuls the institution of the testamentary heir, even if such child
should be born after the death of the testator Article 854, Civil Code).

ART. 742. Donations made to conceived and unborn children may be accepted by
those persons who would legally represent them if they were already born.

ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in
the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the
death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies
shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious.

If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall be
effectual, without prejudice to the right of 'representation.

It is thus clear that the lower court's theory that Article 291 of the Civil Code declaring that support is
an obligation of parents and illegitimate children "does not contemplate support to children as yet
unborn," violates Article 40 aforesaid, besides imposing a condition that nowhere appears in the text
of Article 291. It is true that Article 40 prescribing that "the conceived child shall be considered born
for all purposes that are favorable to it" adds further "provided it be born later with the conditions
specified in the following article" (i.e., that the foetus be alive at the time it is completely delivered
from the mother's womb). This proviso, however, is not a condition precedent to the right of the
conceived child; for if it were, the first part of Article 40 would become entirely useless and
ineffective. Manresa, in his Commentaries (5th Ed.) to the corresponding Article 29 of the Spanish
Civil Code, clearly points this out:

Los derechos atribuidos al nasciturus no son simples expectativas, ni aun en el


sentido tecnico que la moderna doctrina da a esta figura juridica sino que
constituyen un caso de los propiamente Ilamados 'derechos en estado de
pendenci'; el nacimiento del sujeto en las condiciones previstas por el art. 30, no
determina el nacimiento de aquellos derechos (que ya existian de antemano), sino
que se trata de un hecho que tiene efectos declarativos. (1 Manresa, Op. cit., page
271)

A second reason for reversing the orders appealed from is that for a married man to force a woman
not his wife to yield to his lust (as averred in the original complaint in this case) constitutes a clear
violation of the rights of his victim that entitles her to claim compensation for the damage caused.
Says Article 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines:

ART. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is
contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the
damage.

The rule of Article 21 is supported by Article 2219 of the same Code:

ART 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:

(3) Seduction, abduction, rape or other lascivious acts:

xxx xxx xxx

(10) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28 ....

Thus, independently of the right to Support of the child she was carrying, plaintiff herself had a cause
of action for damages under the terms of the complaint; and the order dismissing it for failure to state
a cause of action was doubly in error.

WHEREFORE, the orders under appeal are reversed and set aside. Let the case be remanded to
the court of origin for further proceedings conformable to this decision. Costs against appellee Felix
Icao. So ordered.
G.R. No. L-16439 July 20, 1961

ANTONIO GELUZ, petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and OSCAR LAZO, respondents.

Mariano H. de Joya for petitioner.


A.P. Salvador for respondents.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

This petition for certiorari brings up for review question whether the husband of a woman, who
voluntarily procured her abortion, could recover damages from physician who caused the same.

The litigation was commenced in the Court of First Instance of Manila by respondent Oscar Lazo, the
of Nita Villanueva, against petitioner Antonio Geluz, a physician. Convinced of the merits of the
complaint upon the evidence adduced, the trial court rendered judgment favor of plaintiff Lazo and
against defendant Geluz, ordering the latter to pay P3,000.00 as damages, P700.00 attorney's fees
and the costs of the suit. On appeal, Court of Appeals, in a special division of five, sustained the
award by a majority vote of three justices as against two, who rendered a separate dissenting
opinion.

The facts are set forth in the majority opinion as follows:

Nita Villanueva came to know the defendant (Antonio Geluz) for the first time in 1948 —
through her aunt Paula Yambot. In 1950 she became pregnant by her present husband
before they were legally married. Desiring to conceal her pregnancy from her parent, and
acting on the advice of her aunt, she had herself aborted by the defendant. After her
marriage with the plaintiff, she again became pregnant. As she was then employed in the
Commission on Elections and her pregnancy proved to be inconvenient, she had herself
aborted again by the defendant in October 1953. Less than two years later, she again
became pregnant. On February 21, 1955, accompanied by her sister Purificacion and the
latter's daughter Lucida, she again repaired to the defendant's clinic on Carriedo and P.
Gomez streets in Manila, where the three met the defendant and his wife. Nita was again
aborted, of a two-month old foetus, in consideration of the sum of fifty pesos, Philippine
currency. The plaintiff was at this time in the province of Cagayan, campaigning for his
election to the provincial board; he did not know of, nor gave his consent, to the abortion.

It is the third and last abortion that constitutes plaintiff's basis in filing this action and award of
damages. Upon application of the defendant Geluz we granted certiorari.

The Court of Appeals and the trial court predicated the award of damages in the sum of P3,000.06
upon the provisions of the initial paragraph of Article 2206 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. This
we believe to be error, for the said article, in fixing a minimum award of P3,000.00 for the death of a
person, does not cover the case of an unborn foetus that is not endowed with personality. Under the
system of our Civil Code, "la criatura abortiva no alcanza la categoria de persona natural y en
consscuencia es un ser no nacido a la vida del Derecho" (Casso-Cervera, "Diccionario de Derecho
Privado", Vol. 1, p. 49), being incapable of having rights and obligations.

Since an action for pecuniary damages on account of personal injury or death pertains primarily to
the one injured, it is easy to see that if no action for such damages could be instituted on behalf of
the unborn child on account of the injuries it received, no such right of action could derivatively
accrue to its parents or heirs. In fact, even if a cause of action did accrue on behalf of the unborn
child, the same was extinguished by its pre-natal death, since no transmission to anyone can take
place from on that lacked juridical personality (or juridical capacity as distinguished from capacity to
act). It is no answer to invoke the provisional personality of a conceived child (conceptus pro nato
habetur) under Article 40 of the Civil Code, because that same article expressly limits such
provisional personality by imposing the condition that the child should be subsequently born alive:
"provided it be born later with the condition specified in the following article". In the present case,
there is no dispute that the child was dead when separated from its mother's womb.

The prevailing American jurisprudence is to the same effect; and it is generally held that recovery
can not had for the death of an unborn child (Stafford vs. Roadway Transit Co., 70 F. Supp. 555;
Dietrich vs. Northampton, 52 Am. Rep. 242; and numerous cases collated in the editorial note, 10
ALR, (2d) 639).

This is not to say that the parents are not entitled to collect any damages at all. But such damages
must be those inflicted directly upon them, as distinguished from the injury or violation of the rights of
the deceased, his right to life and physical integrity. Because the parents can not expect either help,
support or services from an unborn child, they would normally be limited to moral damages for the
illegal arrest of the normal development of the spes hominis that was the foetus, i.e., on account of
distress and anguish attendant to its loss, and the disappointment of their parental expectations (Civ.
Code Art. 2217), as well as to exemplary damages, if the circumstances should warrant them (Art.
2230). But in the case before us, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals have not found any
basis for an award of moral damages, evidently because the appellee's indifference to the previous
abortions of his wife, also caused by the appellant herein, clearly indicates that he was unconcerned
with the frustration of his parental hopes and affections. The lower court expressly found, and the
majority opinion of the Court of Appeals did not contradict it, that the appellee was aware of the
second abortion; and the probabilities are that he was likewise aware of the first. Yet despite the
suspicious repetition of the event, he appeared to have taken no steps to investigate or pinpoint the
causes thereof, and secure the punishment of the responsible practitioner. Even after learning of the
third abortion, the appellee does not seem to have taken interest in the administrative and criminal
cases against the appellant. His only concern appears to have been directed at obtaining from the
doctor a large money payment, since he sued for P50,000.00 damages and P3,000.00 attorney's
fees, an "indemnity" claim that, under the circumstances of record, was clearly exaggerated.

The dissenting Justices of the Court of Appeals have aptly remarked that:

It seems to us that the normal reaction of a husband who righteously feels outraged by the
abortion which his wife has deliberately sought at the hands of a physician would be
highminded rather than mercenary; and that his primary concern would be to see to it that
the medical profession was purged of an unworthy member rather than turn his wife's
indiscretion to personal profit, and with that idea in mind to press either the administrative or
the criminal cases he had filed, or both, instead of abandoning them in favor of a civil action
for damages of which not only he, but also his wife, would be the beneficiaries.

It is unquestionable that the appellant's act in provoking the abortion of appellee's wife, without
medical necessity to warrant it, was a criminal and morally reprehensible act, that can not be too
severely condemned; and the consent of the woman or that of her husband does not excuse it. But
the immorality or illegality of the act does not justify an award of damage that, under the
circumstances on record, have no factual or legal basis.

The decision appealed from is reversed, and the complaint ordered dismissed. Without costs.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished to the Department of Justice and the Board of Medical
Examiners for their information and such investigation and action against the appellee Antonio Geluz
as the facts may warrant.
G.R. No. L-15499 February 28, 1962

ANGELA M. BUTTE, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
MANUEL UY and SONS, INC., defendant-appellee.

Delgado, Flores and Macapagal for plaintiff-appellant.


Pelaez and Jalandoni for defendant-appellee.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Appeal from a decision of the Court of First instance of Manila dismissing the action for legal
redemption filed by plaintiff-appellant.

It appears that Jose V. Ramirez, during his lifetime, was a co-owner of a house and lot located at
Sta. Cruz, Manila, as shown by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 52789, issued in the name of the
following co-owners: Marie Garnier Vda. de Ramirez, 1/6; Jose V. Ramirez, 1/6; Jose E. Ramirez,
1/6; Rita de Ramirez, 1/6; and Jose Ma. Ramirez, 1/6.

On October 20, 1951, Jose V. Ramirez died. Subsequently, Special Proceeding No. 15026 was
instituted to settle his estate, that included the one-sixth (1/6) undivided share in the aforementioned
property. And although his last will and testament, wherein he bequeathed his estate to his children
and grandchildren and one-third (1/3) of the free portion to Mrs. Angela M. Butte, hereinafter referred
to as plaintiff-appellant, has been admitted to probate, the estate proceedings are still pending up to
the present on account of the claims of creditors which exceed the assets of the deceased. The
Bank of the Philippine Islands was appointed judicial administrator.

Meanwhile, on December 9, 1958, Mrs. Marie Garnier Vda. de Ramirez, one of the co-owners of the
late Jose V. Ramirez in the Sta. Cruz property, sold her undivided 1/6 share to Manuel Uy & Sons,
Inc. defendant-appellant herein, for the sum of P500,000.00. After the execution by her attorney-in-
fact, Mrs. Elsa R. Chambers, of an affidavit to the effect that formal notices of the sale had been sent
to all possible redemptioners, the deed of sale was duly registered and Transfer Certificate of Title
No. 52789 was cancelled in lieu of which a new one was issued in the name of the vendee and the
other-co-owners.

On the same day (December 9, 1958), Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc. sent a letter to the Bank of the
Philippine Islands as judicial administrator of the estate of the late Jose V. Ramirez informing it of the
above-mentioned sale. This letter, together with that of the bank, was forwarded by the latter to Mrs.
Butte c/o her counsel Delgado, Flores & Macapagal, Escolta, Manila, and having received the same
on December 10, 1958, said law office delivered them to plaintiff-appellant's son, Mr. Miguel Papa,
who in turn personally handed the letters to his mother, Mrs. Butte, on December 11 and 12, 1958.
Aside from this letter of defendant-appellant, the vendor, thru her attorney-in-fact Mrs. Chambers,
wrote said bank on December 11, 1958 confirming vendee's letter regarding the sale of her 1/6
share in the Sta. Cruz property for the sum of P500,000.00. Said letter was received by the bank on
December 15, 1958 and having endorsed it to Mrs. Butte's counsel, the latter received the same on
December 16, 1958. Appellant received the letter on December 19, 1958.

On January 15, 1959, Mrs. Angela M. Butte, thru Atty. Resplandor Sobretodo, sent a letter and a
Philippine National Bank cashier's check in the amount of P500,000.00 to Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc.
offering to redeem the 1/6 share sold by Mrs. Marie Garnier Vda. de Ramirez. This tender having
been refused, plaintiff on the same day consigned the amount in court and filed the corresponding
action for legal redemption. Without prejudice to the determination by the court of the reasonable
and fair market value of the property sold which she alleged to be grossly excessive, plaintiff prayed
for conveyance of the property, and for actual, moral and exemplary damages.

After the filing by defendant of its answer containing a counterclaim, and plaintiff's reply thereto, trial
was held, after which the court rendered decision on May 13, 1959, dismissing plaintiff's complaint
on the grounds that she has no right to redeem the property and that, if ever she had any, she
exercised the same beyond the statutory 30-day period for legal redemptions provided by the Civil
Code. The counterclaim of defendant for damages was likewise dismissed for not being sufficiently
established. Both parties appealed directly to this Court.
Based on the foregoing facts, the main issues posed in this appeal are: (1) whether or not plaintiff-
appellant, having been bequeathed 1/3 of the free portion of the estate of Jose V. Ramirez, can
exercise the right of legal redemption over the 1/6 share sold by Mrs. Marie Garnier Vda. de Ramirez
despite the presence of the judicial administrator and pending the final distribution of her share in the
testate proceedings; and (2) whether or not she exercised the right of legal redemption within the
period prescribed by law.

The applicable law involved in the present case is contained in Articles 1620, p. 1, and 1623 of the
Civil Code of the Philippines, which read as follows:

ART. 1620. A co-owner of a thing may exercise the right of redemption in case the shares of
all the other-co-owners or of any of them, are sold to a third person. If the price of the
alienation is grossly excessive, the redemptioner shall pay only a reasonable one.

Should two or more co-owners desire to exercise the right of redemption, they may only do
so in proportion to the share they may respectively have in the thing owned in common.
(1522a)

ART. 1623. The right of legal predemption or redemption shall not be exercised except within
thirty days from the notice in writing by the respective vendor, or by the vendor, as the case
may be. The deed of sale shall not be accorded in the Registry of Property, unless
accompanied by an affidavit of the vendor that he has given written notice thereof at all
possible redemptioners.

The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining owners. (1524a)

That the appellant Angela M. Butte is entitled to exercise the right of legal redemption is clear. As
testamentary heir of the estate of J.V. Ramirez, she and her co-heirs acquired an interest in the
undivided one-sixth (1/6) share owned by her predecessor (causante) in the Santa Cruz property,
from the moment of the death of the aforesaid co-owner, J.V. Ramirez. By law, the rights to the
succession of a deceased persons are transmitted to his heirs from the moment of his death, and the
right of succession includes all property rights and obligations that survive the decedent.

ART. 776. The inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a person which
are not extinguished by his death. (659)

ART. 777. The rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the
decedent. (657a)

ART. 947. The legatee or devisee acquires a right to the pure and simple legacies or
devisees from the death of the testator, and transmits it to his heirs. (881a)

The principle of transmission as of the time of the predecessor's death is basic in our Civil Code, and
is supported by other related articles. Thus, the capacity of the heir is determined as of the time the
decedent died (Art. 1034); the legitime is to be computed as of the same moment(Art. 908), and so is
the in officiousness of the donation inter vivos (Art. 771). Similarly, the legacies of credit and
remission are valid only in the amount due and outstanding at the death of the testator (Art. 935),and
the fruits accruing after that instant are deemed to pertain to the legatee (Art. 948).

As a consequence of this fundamental rule of succession, the heirs of Jose V. Ramirez acquired his
undivided share in the Sta. Cruz property from the moment of his death, and from that instant, they
became co-owners in the aforesaid property, together with the original surviving co-owners of their
decedent (causante). A co-owner of an undivided share is necessarily a co-owner of the whole.
Wherefore, any one of the Ramirez heirs, as such co-owner, became entitled to exercise the right of
legal redemption (retracto de comuneros) as soon as another co-owner (Maria Garnier Vda. de
Ramirez) had sold her undivided share to a stranger, Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc. This right of
redemption vested exclusively in consideration of the redemptioner's share which the law nowhere
takes into account.

The situation is in no wise altered by the existence of a judicial administrator of the estate of Jose V.
Ramirez while under the Rules of Court the administrator has the right to the possession of the real
and personal estate of the deceased, so far as needed for the payment of the decedent's debts and
the expenses of administration (sec. 3, Rule 85), and the administrator may bring or defend actions
for the recovery or protection of the property or rights of the deceased (sec. 2, Rule 88), such rights
of possession and administration do not include the right of legal redemption of the undivided share
sold to Uy & Company by Mrs. Garnier Ramirez. The reason is obvious: this right of legal redemption
only came into existence when the sale to Uy & Sons, Inc. was perfected, eight (8) years after the
death of Jose V. Ramirez, and formed no part of his estate. The redemption right vested in the heirs
originally, in their individual capacity, they did not derivatively acquire it from their decedent, for when
Jose V. Ramirez died, none of the other co-owners of the Sta. Cruz property had as yet sold his
undivided share to a stranger. Hence, there was nothing to redeem and no right of redemption; and
if the late Ramirez had no such right at his death, he could not transmit it to his own heirs. Much less
could Ramirez acquire such right of redemption eight years after his death, when the sale to Uy &
Sons, Inc. was made; because death extinguishes civil personality, and, therefore, all further juridical
capacity to acquire or transmit rights and obligations of any kind (Civil Code of the Phil., Art. 42).

It is argued that the actual share of appellant Mrs. Butte in the estate of Jose V. Ramirez has not
been specifically determined as yet, that it is still contingent; and that the liquidation of estate of Jose
V. Ramirez may require the alienation of the decedent's undivided portion in the Sta. Cruz property,
in which event Mrs. Butte would have no interest in said undivided portion. Even if it were true, the
fact would remain that so long as that undivided share remains in the estate, the heirs of Jose V.
Ramirez own it, as the deceased did own it before his demise, so that his heirs are now as much co-
owners of the Sta. Cruz property as Jose V. Ramirez was himself a co-owner thereof during his
lifetime. As co-owners of the property, the heirs of Jose V. Ramirez, or any one of them, became
personally vested with right of legal redemption as soon as Mrs. Garnier sold her own pro-indiviso
interest to Uy & Sons. Even if subsequently, the undivided share of Ramirez (and of his heirs) should
eventually be sold to satisfy the creditors of the estate, it would not destroy their ownership of it
before the sale, but would only convey or transfer it as in turn sold (of it actually is sold) to pay his
creditors. Hence, the right of any of the Ramirez heirs to redeem the Garnier share will not be
retroactively affected. All that the law requires is that the legal redemptioner should be a co-owner at
the time the undivided share of another co-owner is sold to a stranger. Whether or not the
redemptioner will continue being a co-owner after exercising the legal redemptioner is irrelevant for
the purposes of law.

Nor it can be argued that if the original share of Ramirez is sold by the administrator, his heirs would
stand in law as never having acquired that share. This would only be true if the inheritance is
repudiated or the heir's quality as such is voided. But where the heirship is undisputed, the
purchaser of hereditary property is not deemed to have acquired the title directly from the deceased
Ramirez, because a dead man can not convey title, nor from the administrator who owns no part of
the estate; the purchaser can only derive his title from the Ramirez heirs, represented by the
administrator, as their trustee or legal representative.

The right of appellant Angela M. Butte to make the redemption being established, the next point of
inquiry is whether she had made or tendered the redemption price within the 30 days from notices as
prescribed by law. This period, be it noted, is peremptory, because the policy of the law is not to
leave the purchaser's title in uncertainty beyond the established 30-day period. In considering
whether or not the offer to redeem was timely, we think that the notice given by the vendee (buyer)
should not be taken into account. The text of Article 1623 clearly and expressly prescribes that the
thirty days for making the redemption are to be counted from notice in writing by the vendor. Under
the old law (Civ. Code of 1889, Art. 1524), it was immaterial who gave the notice; so long as the
redeeming co-owner learned of the alienation in favor of the stranger, the redemption period began
to run. It is thus apparent that the Philippine legislature in Article 1623 deliberately selected a
particular method of giving notice, and that method must be deemed exclusive (39 Am. Jur., 237;
Payne vs. State, 12 S.W. [2d] 528). As ruled in Wampler vs. Lecompte, 150 Atl. 458 (affd. in 75 Law
Ed. [U.S.] 275) —

Why these provisions were inserted in the statute we are not informed, but we may assume
until the contrary is shown, that a state of facts in respect thereto existed, which warranted
the legislature in so legislating.

The reasons for requiring that the notice should be given by the seller, and not by the buyer, are
easily divined. The seller of an undivided interest is in the best position to know who are his co-
owners that under the law must be notified of the sale. Also, the notice by the seller removes all
doubts as to the fact of the sale, its perfection; and its validity, the notice being a reaffirmation
thereof, so that the party need not entertain doubt that the seller may still contest the alienation. This
assurance would not exist if the notice should be given by the buyer.
The notice which became operative is that given by Mrs. Chambers, in her capacity as attorney-in-
fact of the vendor Marie Garnier Vda. de Ramirez. Under date of December 11, 1958, she wrote the
Administrator Bank of the Philippine Islands that her principal's one-sixth (1/6) share in the Sta. Cruz
property had been sold to Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc. for P500,000.00. The Bank received this notice on
December 15, 1958, and on the same day endorsed it to Mrs. Butte, care of Delgado, Flores and
Macapagal (her attorneys), who received the same on December 16, 1958. Mrs. Butte tendered
redemption and upon the vendee's refusal, judicially consigned the price of P500,000.00 on January
15, 1959. The latter date was the last one of the thirty days allowed by the Code for the redemption,
counted by excluding December 16, 1958 and including January 15, 1959, pursuant to Article 13 of
the Civil Code. Therefore, the redemption was made in due time.

The date of receipt of the vendor's notice by the Administrator Bank (December 15) can not be
counted as determining the start of thirty days; for the Administrator of the estate was not a proper
redemptioner, since, as previously shown, the right to redeem the share of Marie Garnier did not
form part of the estate of Jose V. Ramirez.

We find no jurisdiction for appellant's claim that the P500,000,00. paid by Uy & Sons, Inc. for the
Garnier share is grossly excessive. Gross excess cannot be predicated on mere individual estimates
of market price by a single realtor.

The redemption and consignation having been properly made, the Uy counterclaim for damages and
attorney's fees predicated on the assumption that plaintiff's action was clearly unfounded, becomes
untenable.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and set aside, and
another one entered:

(a) Declaring the consignation of P500,000,00 made by appellant Angela M. Butte duly and
properly made;

(b) Declaring that said appellant properly exercised in due time the legal redemption of the
one-sixth (1/6) undivided portion of the land covered by Certificate of Title No. 59363 of the
Office of the Register of Deeds of the City of Manila, sold on December 9, 1958 by Marie
Garnier Vda. de Ramirez to appellant Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc.

(c) Ordering appellant Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc. to accept the consigned price and to convey
to Angela M. Butte the undivided portion above referred to, within 30 days from the time our
decision becomes final, and subsequently to account for the rentals and fruits of the
redeemed share from and after January 15, 1958, until its conveyance; and.

(d) Ordering the return of the records to the court of origin for further proceedings
conformable to this opinion.

Without finding as to costs.


G.R. No. L-5426 May 29, 1953

RAMON JOAQUIN, petitioner,


vs.
ANTONIO C. NAVARRO, respondent.

Agrava, Peralta & Agrava for petitioner.


Leonardo Abola for respondent.

TUASON, J.:

This three proceedings was instituted in the Court of First Instance of Manila in the summary
settlement of states of Joaquin Navarro, Sr., his wife Angela Joaquin de Navarro, Joaquin Navarro,
Jr., and Pilar Navarro, deceased. All of them having been heard jointly, Judge Rafael Amparo
handed down a single decision which was appealed to the Court of Appeals, whose decision,
modifying that the Court of First Instance, in turn was elevated to the Supreme Court for review.

The main question represented in the first two courts related to the sequence of the deaths of
Joaquin Navarro, Sr., his wife, and their children, all of whom were killed in the massacre of civilians
by Japanese troops in Manila in February 1945. The trial court found the deaths of this persons to
have accurred in this order: 1st. The Navarro girls, named Pilar, Concepcion and Natividad; 2nd.
Joaquin Navarro, Jr.; 3rd. Angela Joaquin de Navarro, and 4th, Joaquin Navarro, Sr. The Court of
Appeals concurred with the trial court except that, with regard to Angela Joaquin de Navarro and
Joaquin Navarro, Jr., the latter was declared to have survived his mother.

It is this modification of the lower court's finding which is now being contested by the petitioner. The
importance of the question whether Angela Joaquin de Navarro died before Joaquin Navarro, Jr., or
vice versa, lies in the fact that it radically affects the rights of succession of Ramon Joaquin, the
present petitioner who was an acknowledged natural child of Angela Joaquin and adopted child of
the deceased spouses, and Antonio C. Navarro, respondent, son of Joaquin Navarro, Sr. by first
marriage.

The facts, which is not disputed, are outlined in the statement in the decision of the Court of Appeals
as follows:

"On February 6, 1945, while the battle for the liberation of Manila was raging, the spouses Joaquin
Navarro, Sr. and Angela Joaquin, together with their three daughters, Pilar, Concepcion, and
Natividad, and their son Joaquin Navarro, Jr., and the latter's wife, Adela Conde, sought refuge in
the ground floor of the building known as the German Club, at the corner of San Marcelino and San
Luis Streets of this City. During their stay, the building was packed with refugees, shells were
exploding around, and the Club was set on fire. Simultaneously, the Japanese started shooting at
the people inside the building, especially those who were trying to escape. The three daughters were
hit and fell of the ground near the entrance; and Joaquin Navarro, Sr., and his son decided to
abandon the premises to seek a safer heaven. They could not convince Angela Joaquin who refused
to join them; and son Joaquin Navarro, Sr., his son, Joaquin Navarro, Jr., and the latter's wife,
Angela Conde, and a friend and former neighbor, Francisco Lopez, dashed out of the burning
edifice. As they came out, Joaquin Navarro, Jr. was shot in the head by a Japanese soldier and
immediately dropped. The others lay flat on the ground in front of the Club premises to avoid the
bullets. Minutes later, the German Club, already on fire, collapsed, trapping many people inside,
presumably including Angela Joaquin.

"Joaquin Navarro, Sr., Mrs. Joaquin Navarro, Jr., and Francisco Lopez managed to reach an air raid
shelter nearby, the stayed there about three days, until February 10, 1915, when they were forced to
leave the shelter be- cause the shelling tore it open. They flied toward the St. Theresa Academy in
San Marcelino Street, but unfortunately met Japanese Patrols, who fired at the refugees, killing
Joaquin Navarro, Sr., and his daughter-in-law.

"At the time of the masaccre, Joaquin Navarro, Sr. was aged 70; his wife Angela Joaquin was about
67 years old; Joaquin Navarro, Jr., about 30; Pilar Navarro was two or three years older than her
brother; while the other sisters, Concepcion and Natividad Navarro y Joaquin, were between 23 and
25."
The Court of Appeals' finding were all taken from the testimony of Francisco Lopez, who
miraculously survived the holocaust, and upon them the Court of Appeals opined that, "as between
the mother Angela Joaquin and the son Joaquin Navarro, Jr., the evidence of the survivorship is
uncertain and insufficient" and the statutory presumption must be applied. The appellate Court's
reasoning for its conclusion is thus stated:

"It does not require argument to show that survivorship cannot be established by proof of the death
of only one of the parties; but that there must be adequate proof that one was alive when the other
had already died. Now in this case before us, the testimony of the sole witness Lopez is to the effect
that Joaquin Navarro, Jr. was shot and died shortly after the living the German Club in the company
of his father and the witness, and that the burning edified entirely collapsed minutes after the
shooting of the son; but there is not a scintilla of evidence, direct or circumstantial, from which we
may infer the condition of the mother, Angela Joaquin, during the appreciable interval from the
instant his son turned his back to her, to dash out to the Club, until he died. All we can glean from
the evidence is that Angela Joaquin was unhurt when her son left her to escape from the German
Club; but she could have died almost immediately after, from a variety of causes. She might have
been shot by the Japanese, like her daughters, killed by falling beams from the burning edifice,
overcome by the fumes, or fatally struck by splinters from the exploding shells. We cannot say for
certain. No evidence is available on the point. All we can decide is that no one saw her alive after
her son left her aside, and that there is no proof when she died. Clearly, this circumstance alone
cannot support a finding that she died latter than her son, and we are thus compelled to fall back
upon the statutory presumption. In deed, it could be said that the purpose of the presumption of
survivorship would be precisely to afford a solution to uncertainties like these. Hence the son
Joaquin Navarro, Jr. aged 30, must be deemed to have survived his mother, Angela Joaquin, who
was admittedly above 60 years of age (Rule 123, sec. 69, subsec. (ii), Rules of Court).

"The total lack of evidence on how Angela Joaquin died likewise disposes of the question whether
she and her deceased children perished in the same calamity. There being no evidence to the
contrary, the only guide is the occasion of the deaths, which is identical for all of them; that battle for
the liberation of Manila. A second reason is that the law, in declaring that those fallen in the same
battle are to be regarded as perishing in the same calamity, could not overlooked that a variety of
cause of death can ( and usually do) operate in the source of combats. During the same battle,
some may die from wounds, other from gages, fire, or drowning. It is clear that the law disregards
episodic details, and treats the battle as an overall cause of death in applying the presumption of
survivorship.

"We are thus led the conclusion that the order in which the members of the Navarro-Joaquin family
met their end is as follows: first, the three daughters Pilar, Concepcion, and Natividad; then the
mother Angela Joaquin; then the son Joaquin Navarro, Jr., and days later (of which there is no
doubt), the father Joaquin Navarro, Sr."

Much space in the briefs is taken in a discussion of whether section 334(37) of Act No. 129, now
section 69 (ii) of Rule 123 of the Rules of Court, has repealed article 33 of the civil code of 1889,
now article 43 of the New Civil Code. It is the contention of the petitioner that it did not, and that on
the assumption that there is total lack of evidence, as the Court of Appeals said, then Angela
Joaquin and Joaquin Navarro, Jr. should, under article 33, be held to have died at the same time.

The point is not of much if any relevancy and will be left open for the consideration when obsolute
necessity there for arises. We say irrelevant because our opinion is that neither of the two provisions
is applicable for the reasons to be presently set forth.

Rule 123, section 69 (ii) of the Revised Rules of Court, reads:

When two person perish in the same calamity, such as wreck, battle or conflagration, and it
is not (1) shown who died first, and there are no (2) particular circumstances from when it
can be inferred, the survivorship is presumed from the probabilities resulting from the
strength and ages of the sexes, according to the following rules:

xxx xxx xxx

Article 33 of the Civil Code of 1889 of the following tenor:

Whenever a doubt arises as to which was the first to die to the two or more persons who
would inherent one from the other, the persons who alleges the prior death of either must
prove the allegation; in the absence of proof the presumption shall be that they died at the
same time, and no transmission of rights from one to the other shall take place.

Most provisions, as their language plainly implies, are intended as a substitute for lacks and so are
not to be available when there are facts. With particular reference to section 69 (ii) of Rule 123, "the
situation which it present is one in which the facts are not only unknown but unknowable. By
hypothesis, there is no specific evidence as to the time of death . . . ." . . . it is assumed that no
evidence can be produced. . . . Since the facts are unknown and unknowable, the law may apply the
law of fairness appropriate to the different legal situation that arises." (IX Wigmore on Evidence,
1940 ed., 483.)

In In re Wallace's Estate, 220 Pac. 683, which the Court of Appeals cited the applied with the respect
to the deaths of the Navarro girls, pointing out that "our rule is taken from the Fourth Division of sec.
1936 of the California Code of Civil Procedure," the Supreme Court of California said:

When the statue speaks of "particular circumstances from which it can be inferred" that one
died before the other it means that there are circumstances from which the fact of death by
one before the other may be inferred as a relation conclusion from the facts proven. The
statue does not mean circumstances which would shown, or which would tend to show,
probably that one died before the other. Grand Lodge A.O.W.W. vs. Miller, 8 Cal. App. 28, 96
Pac. 22. When by circumstantial evidence alone, a party seeks to prove a survivorship
contrary to the statutory presumption, the circumstances by which it is sought to prove the
survivorship must be such as are competent and sufficient when tested by the general rules
of evidence in civil cases. The inference of survivorship cannot rest upon mere surmise,
speculation, or conjecture. As was said in Grand Lodge vs. Miller, supra, "if the matter is left
to probably, then the statue of the presumption."

It is manifest from the language of section 69 (ii) of Rule 123 and of that of the foregoing decision
that the evidence of the survivorship need not be direct; it may be indirect, circumstantial, or
inferential. Where there are facts, known or knowable, from which a rational conclusion can be
made, the presumption does not step in, and the rule of preponderance of evidence controls.

Are there particular circumstances on record from which reasonable inference of survivorship
between Angela Joaquin and her son can be drawn? Is Francisco Lopez' testimony competent and
sufficient for this purpose? For a better appreciation of this issue, it is convenient and necessary to
detail the testimony, which was described by the trial court as "disinterested and trustworthy" and by
the Court of Appeals as "entitled to credence."

Lopez testified:

Q. You said you were also heat at that time as you leave the German Club with Joaquin
Navarro, Sr., Joaquin Navarro, Jr. and the latter's wife?- A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you fall? — A. I fell down.

Q. And you said you fell down close to Joaquin Navarro, Jr.? A. Yes, sir.

Q. When the German Club collapsed where were you? — A. We were out 15 meters away
from the building but I could see what was going on.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Could there have been an interval of fifteen minutes between the two events, that is the
shooting of Joaquin Navarro, Jr. and the collapse of the German Club? — A. Yes, sir, I could
not say exactly, Occasions like that, you know, you are confused.

Q. Could there (have) been an interval of an hour instead of fifteen minutes? — A. Possible,
but not probable.

Q. Could it have been 40 minutes? — A. Yes, sir, about 40 minutes.

xxx xxx xxx


Q. You also know that Angela Joaquin is already dead? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. Can you tell the Honorable Court when did Angela Joaquin die? — A. Well, a few minutes
after we have dashed out, the German Club, which was burning, collapsed over them,
including Mrs. Joaquin Navarro, Sr.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. From your testimony it would appear that while you can give positive evidence to the fact
that Pilar, Concepcion and Natividad Navarro, and Joaquin Navarro, Jr. died, you can not
give the same positive evidence to the fact that Angela Joaquin also died? — A. Yes, sir, in
the sense that I did not see her actually die, but when the building collapsed over her I saw
and I am positive and I did not see her come out of that building so I presumed she died
there.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Why did you have to dash out of the German Club, you, Mr. Joaquin Navarro, Sr. and Mr.
Joaquin Navarro Jr. and the latter's wife? — A. Because the Japanese had set fire to the
Club and they were shooting people outside, so we thought of running away rather than be
roasted.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. You mean to say that before you jumped out of the German Club all the Navarro girls,
Pilar, Concepcion, and Natividad, were already wounded? — A. to my knowledge, yes.

Q. They were wounded? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were they lying on the ground or not? — A. On the ground near the entrance, because
most of the people who were shot by the Japanese were those who were trying to escape,
and as far as I can remember they were among those killed.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. So you noticed that they were killed or shot by the Japanese a few minutes before you left
the place? — A. That is what I think, because those Japanese soldiers were shooting the
people inside especially those trying to escape.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. And none of them was not except the girls, is that what you mean? A — . There were
many people shot because they were trying to escape.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. How come that these girls were shot when they were inside the building, can you explain
that? — A. They were trying to escape probably.

It is our opinion that the preceding testimony contains facts quite adequate to solve the problem of
survivorship between Angela Joaquin and Joaquin Navarro, Jr. and keep the statutory presumption
out of the case. It is believed that in the light of the conditions painted by Lopez, a fair and
reasonable inference can be arrived at, namely: that Joaquin Navarro, Jr. died before his mother.

While the possibility that the mother died before the son can not be ruled out, it must be noted that
this possibility is entirely speculative and must yield to the more rational deduction from proven facts
that it was the other way around. Joaquin Navarro, Jr., it will be recalled, was killed, while running, in
front of, and 15 meters from, the German Club. Still in the prime of life, 30, he must have negotiated
that distance in five seconds or less, and so died within that interval from the time he dashed out of
the building. Now, when Joaquin Navarro, Jr. with his father and wife started to flee from the
clubhouse, the old lady was alive and unhurt, so much so that the Navarro father and son tried hard
to have her come along. She could have perished within those five or fewer seconds, as stated, but
the probabilities that she did seem very remote. True, people in the building were also killed but
these, according to Lopez, were mostly refugees who had tried to slip away from it and were shot by
Japanese troops. It was not very likely that Mrs. Joaquin Navarro, Sr. made an attempt to escape.
She even made frantic efforts to dissuade her husband and son from leaving the place and exposing
themselves to gun fire.

This determination of Mrs. Angela Joaquin to stay where she was may well give an idea, at the same
time, of a condition of relative safety in the clubhouse at the moment her husband, son, and
daughter-in-law left her. It strongly tends to prove that, as the situation looked to her, the perils of
death from staying were not so imminent. And it lends credence to Mr. Lopez' statement that the
collapse of the clubhouse occurred about 40 minutes after Joaquin Navarro the son was shot in the
head and dropped dead, and that it was the collapse that killed Mrs. Angela Navarro. The Court of
Appeals said the interval between Joaquin Navarro's death and the breaking down of the edifice was
"minutes". Even so, it was much longer than five seconds, long enough to warrant the inference that
Mrs. Angela Joaquin was sill alive when her son expired

The Court of Appeals mentioned several causes, besides the collapse of the building, by which Mrs.
Navarro could have been killed. All these are speculative , and the probabilities, in the light of the
known facts, are against them. Dreading Japanese sharpshooters outside as evidenced by her
refusal to follow the only remaining living members of her family, she could not have kept away form
protective walls. Besides, the building had been set on fire trap the refugees inside, and there was
no necessity for the Japanese to was their ammunition except upon those who tried to leave the
premises. Nor was Angela Joaquin likely to have been killed by falling beams because the building
was made of concrete and its collapse, more likely than not, was sudden. As to fumes, these do not
cause instantaneous death; certainly not within the brief space of five seconds between her son's
departure and his death.

It will be said that all this is indulging in inferences that are not conclusive. Section 69(ii) of Rule 123
does not require that the inference necessary to exclude the presumption therein provided be
certain. It is the "particular circumstances from which it (survivorship) can be inferred" that are
required to be certain as tested by the rules of evidence. In speaking of inference the rule can not
mean beyond doubt, for "inference is never certainty, but if may be plain enough to justify a finding of
fact." (In re Bohenko's Estate, 4 N.Y.S. 2nd. 427, citing Tortora vs. State of New York, 269 N.Y. 199
N.E. 44; Hart vs. Hudson River Bridge Co., 80 N.Y.). 622.) As the California courts have said, it is
enough that "the circumstances by which it is sought to prove the survivorship must be such as are
competent and sufficient when tested by the general rules of evidence in civil cases." (In re
Wallace's Estate, supra.) "Juries must often reason," says one author, "according
to probabilities, drawing an inference that the main fact in issue existed from collateral facts not
directly proving, but strongly tending to prove, its existence. The vital question in such cases is the
cogency of the proof afforded by the secondary facts. How likely, according to experience, is the
existence of the primary fact if certain secondary facts exist?" (1 Moore on Facts, Sec. 596.) The
same author tells us of a case where "a jury was justified in drawing the inference that the person
who was caught firing a shot at an animal trespassing on his land was the person who fired a shot
about an hour before at the same animal also trespassing." That conclusion was not airtight, but
rational. In fact, the circumstances in the illustration leave greater room for another possibility than
do the facts of the case at hand.

In conclusion the presumption that Angela Joaquin de Navarro died before her son is based purely
on surmises, speculations, or conjectures without any sure foundation in the evidence. the opposite
theory — that the mother outlived her son — is deduced from established facts which, weighed by
common experience, engender the inference as a very strong probability. Gauged by the doctrine of
preponderance of evidence by, which civil cases are decided, this inference ought to prevail. It can
not be defeated as in an instance, cited by Lord Chief Justice Kenyon, "bordering on the ridiculous,
where in an action on the game laws it was suggested that the gun with which the defendant fired
was not charged with shot, but that the bird might have died in consequence of the fright." (1 Moore
on Facts, 63, citing Wilkinson vs. Payne, 4 T. R. 468.)

It is said that part of the decision of the Court of Appeals which the appellant impugns, and which
has been discussed, involves findings of fact which can not be disturbed. The point is not, in our
judgment, well considered. The particular circumstances from which the parties and the Court of
Appeals drew conclusions are, as above seen, undisputed, and this being the case, the correctness
or incorrectness of those conclusions raises a question of law, not of fact, which the Supreme Court
has jurisdiction to look into. As was said in 1 Moran Commentaries on the Rules of ?Court, 3rd Ed.
856, 857, "Undisputed evidence is one thing, and contradicted evidence is another. An incredible
witness does not cease to be such because he is not impeached or contradicted. But when the
evidence is purely documentary, the authenticity of which is not questioned and the only issue is the
construction to be placed thereon, or where a case is submitted upon an agreement of facts, or
where all the facts are stated in the judgment and the issue is the correctness of the conclusions
drawn therefrom, the question is one of law which may be reviewed by the Supreme Court."

The question of whether upon given facts the operation of the statutory presumption is to be invoked
is a question of law.

The prohibition against intermeddling with decisions on questions of evidence refers to decisions
supported by substantial evidence. By substantial evidence is meant real evidence or at least
evidence about which reasonable men may disagree. Findings grounded entirely on speculations,
surmises, or conjectures come within the exception to the general rule.

We are constrained to reverse the decision under review, and hold that the distribution of the
decedents' estates should be made in accordance with the decision of the trial court. This result
precludes the necessity of passing upon the question of "reserva troncal" which was put forward on
the hypothetical theory that Mrs. Joaquin Navarro's death preceded that of her son. Without costs.
G.R. No. L-52179 April 8, 1991

MUNICIPALITY OF SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION, petitioner


vs.
HON. JUDGE ROMEO N. FIRME, JUANA RIMANDO-BANIÑA, IAUREANO BANIÑA, JR., SOR
MARIETA BANIÑA, MONTANO BANIÑA, ORJA BANIÑA, AND LYDIA R. BANIÑA, respondents.

Mauro C. Cabading, Jr. for petitioner.


Simeon G. Hipol for private respondent.

MEDIALDEA, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction seeking the nullification or modification of the proceedings and the orders issued by the
respondent Judge Romeo N. Firme, in his capacity as the presiding judge of the Court of First
Instance of La Union, Second Judicial District, Branch IV, Bauang, La Union in Civil Case No. 107-
BG, entitled "Juana Rimando Baniña, et al. vs. Macario Nieveras, et al." dated November 4, 1975;
July 13, 1976; August 23,1976; February 23, 1977; March 16, 1977; July 26, 1979; September 7,
1979; November 7, 1979 and December 3, 1979 and the decision dated October 10, 1979 ordering
defendants Municipality of San Fernando, La Union and Alfredo Bislig to pay, jointly and severally,
the plaintiffs for funeral expenses, actual damages consisting of the loss of earning capacity of the
deceased, attorney's fees and costs of suit and dismissing the complaint against the Estate of
Macario Nieveras and Bernardo Balagot.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Petitioner Municipality of San Fernando, La Union is a municipal corporation existing under and in
accordance with the laws of the Republic of the Philippines. Respondent Honorable Judge Romeo
N. Firme is impleaded in his official capacity as the presiding judge of the Court of First Instance of
La Union, Branch IV, Bauang, La Union. While private respondents Juana Rimando-Baniña,
Laureano Baniña, Jr., Sor Marietta Baniña, Montano Baniña, Orja Baniña and Lydia R. Baniña are
heirs of the deceased Laureano Baniña Sr. and plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 107-Bg before the
aforesaid court.

At about 7 o'clock in the morning of December 16, 1965, a collision occurred involving a passenger
jeepney driven by Bernardo Balagot and owned by the Estate of Macario Nieveras, a gravel and
sand truck driven by Jose Manandeg and owned by Tanquilino Velasquez and a dump truck of the
Municipality of San Fernando, La Union and driven by Alfredo Bislig. Due to the impact, several
passengers of the jeepney including Laureano Baniña Sr. died as a result of the injuries they
sustained and four (4) others suffered varying degrees of physical injuries.

On December 11, 1966, the private respondents instituted a compliant for damages against the
Estate of Macario Nieveras and Bernardo Balagot, owner and driver, respectively, of the passenger
jeepney, which was docketed Civil Case No. 2183 in the Court of First Instance of La Union, Branch
I, San Fernando, La Union. However, the aforesaid defendants filed a Third Party Complaint against
the petitioner and the driver of a dump truck of petitioner.

Thereafter, the case was subsequently transferred to Branch IV, presided over by respondent judge
and was subsequently docketed as Civil Case No. 107-Bg. By virtue of a court order dated May 7,
1975, the private respondents amended the complaint wherein the petitioner and its regular
employee, Alfredo Bislig were impleaded for the first time as defendants. Petitioner filed its answer
and raised affirmative defenses such as lack of cause of action, non-suability of the State,
prescription of cause of action and the negligence of the owner and driver of the passenger jeepney
as the proximate cause of the collision.

In the course of the proceedings, the respondent judge issued the following questioned orders, to
wit:

(1) Order dated November 4, 1975 dismissing the cross-claim against Bernardo Balagot;
(2) Order dated July 13, 1976 admitting the Amended Answer of the Municipality of San
Fernando, La Union and Bislig and setting the hearing on the affirmative defenses only with
respect to the supposed lack of jurisdiction;

(3) Order dated August 23, 1976 deferring there resolution of the grounds for the Motion to
Dismiss until the trial;

(4) Order dated February 23, 1977 denying the motion for reconsideration of the order of July
13, 1976 filed by the Municipality and Bislig for having been filed out of time;

(5) Order dated March 16, 1977 reiterating the denial of the motion for reconsideration of the
order of July 13, 1976;

(6) Order dated July 26, 1979 declaring the case deemed submitted for decision it appearing
that parties have not yet submitted their respective memoranda despite the court's direction;
and

(7) Order dated September 7, 1979 denying the petitioner's motion for reconsideration and/or
order to recall prosecution witnesses for cross examination.

On October 10, 1979 the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion is hereunder quoted
as follows:

IN VIEW OF ALL OF (sic) THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered for the plaintiffs,
and defendants Municipality of San Fernando, La Union and Alfredo Bislig are ordered to
pay jointly and severally, plaintiffs Juana Rimando-Baniña, Mrs. Priscilla B. Surell, Laureano
Baniña Jr., Sor Marietta Baniña, Mrs. Fe B. Soriano, Montano Baniña, Orja Baniña and Lydia
B. Baniña the sums of P1,500.00 as funeral expenses and P24,744.24 as the lost expected
earnings of the late Laureano Baniña Sr., P30,000.00 as moral damages, and P2,500.00 as
attorney's fees. Costs against said defendants.

The Complaint is dismissed as to defendants Estate of Macario Nieveras and Bernardo


Balagot.

SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 30)

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration and for a new trial without prejudice to another motion
which was then pending. However, respondent judge issued another order dated November 7, 1979
denying the motion for reconsideration of the order of September 7, 1979 for having been filed out of
time.

Finally, the respondent judge issued an order dated December 3, 1979 providing that if defendants
municipality and Bislig further wish to pursue the matter disposed of in the order of July 26, 1979,
such should be elevated to a higher court in accordance with the Rules of Court. Hence, this petition.

Petitioner maintains that the respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to
excess of jurisdiction in issuing the aforesaid orders and in rendering a decision. Furthermore,
petitioner asserts that while appeal of the decision maybe available, the same is not the speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

On the other hand, private respondents controvert the position of the petitioner and allege that the
petition is devoid of merit, utterly lacking the good faith which is indispensable in a petition
for certiorari and prohibition. (Rollo, p. 42.) In addition, the private respondents stress that petitioner
has not considered that every court, including respondent court, has the inherent power to amend
and control its process and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice. (Rollo, p. 43.)

The controversy boils down to the main issue of whether or not the respondent court committed
grave abuse of discretion when it deferred and failed to resolve the defense of non-suability of the
State amounting to lack of jurisdiction in a motion to dismiss.

In the case at bar, the respondent judge deferred the resolution of the defense of non-suability of the
State amounting to lack of jurisdiction until trial. However, said respondent judge failed to resolve
such defense, proceeded with the trial and thereafter rendered a decision against the municipality
and its driver.

The respondent judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion when in the exercise of its judgment
it arbitrarily failed to resolve the vital issue of non-suability of the State in the guise of the
municipality. However, said judge acted in excess of his jurisdiction when in his decision dated
October 10, 1979 he held the municipality liable for the quasi-delict committed by its regular
employee.

The doctrine of non-suability of the State is expressly provided for in Article XVI, Section 3 of the
Constitution, to wit: "the State may not be sued without its consent."

Stated in simple parlance, the general rule is that the State may not be sued except when it gives
consent to be sued. Consent takes the form of express or implied consent.

Express consent may be embodied in a general law or a special law. The standing consent of the
State to be sued in case of money claims involving liability arising from contracts is found in Act No.
3083. A special law may be passed to enable a person to sue the government for an alleged quasi-
delict, as in Merritt v. Government of the Philippine Islands (34 Phil 311). (see United States of
America v. Guinto, G.R. No. 76607, February 26, 1990, 182 SCRA 644, 654.)

Consent is implied when the government enters into business contracts, thereby descending to the
level of the other contracting party, and also when the State files a complaint, thus opening itself to a
counterclaim. (Ibid)

Municipal corporations, for example, like provinces and cities, are agencies of the State when they
are engaged in governmental functions and therefore should enjoy the sovereign immunity from suit.
Nevertheless, they are subject to suit even in the performance of such functions because their
charter provided that they can sue and be sued. (Cruz, Philippine Political Law, 1987 Edition, p. 39)

A distinction should first be made between suability and liability. "Suability depends on the consent
of the state to be sued, liability on the applicable law and the established facts. The circumstance
that a state is suable does not necessarily mean that it is liable; on the other hand, it can never be
held liable if it does not first consent to be sued. Liability is not conceded by the mere fact that the
state has allowed itself to be sued. When the state does waive its sovereign immunity, it is only
giving the plaintiff the chance to prove, if it can, that the defendant is liable." (United States of
America vs. Guinto, supra, p. 659-660)

Anent the issue of whether or not the municipality is liable for the torts committed by its employee,
the test of liability of the municipality depends on whether or not the driver, acting in behalf of the
municipality, is performing governmental or proprietary functions. As emphasized in the case of Torio
vs. Fontanilla (G. R. No. L-29993, October 23, 1978. 85 SCRA 599, 606), the distinction of powers
becomes important for purposes of determining the liability of the municipality for the acts of its
agents which result in an injury to third persons.

Another statement of the test is given in City of Kokomo vs. Loy, decided by the Supreme Court of
Indiana in 1916, thus:

Municipal corporations exist in a dual capacity, and their functions are twofold. In one they
exercise the right springing from sovereignty, and while in the performance of the duties
pertaining thereto, their acts are political and governmental. Their officers and agents in such
capacity, though elected or appointed by them, are nevertheless public functionaries
performing a public service, and as such they are officers, agents, and servants of the state.
In the other capacity the municipalities exercise a private, proprietary or corporate right,
arising from their existence as legal persons and not as public agencies. Their officers and
agents in the performance of such functions act in behalf of the municipalities in their
corporate or individual capacity, and not for the state or sovereign power." (112 N.E., 994-
995) (Ibid, pp. 605-606.)

It has already been remarked that municipal corporations are suable because their charters grant
them the competence to sue and be sued. Nevertheless, they are generally not liable for torts
committed by them in the discharge of governmental functions and can be held answerable only if it
can be shown that they were acting in a proprietary capacity. In permitting such entities to be sued,
the State merely gives the claimant the right to show that the defendant was not acting in its
governmental capacity when the injury was committed or that the case comes under the exceptions
recognized by law. Failing this, the claimant cannot recover. (Cruz, supra, p. 44.)

In the case at bar, the driver of the dump truck of the municipality insists that "he was on his way to
the Naguilian river to get a load of sand and gravel for the repair of San Fernando's municipal
streets." (Rollo, p. 29.)

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the regularity of the performance of official duty is
presumed pursuant to Section 3(m) of Rule 131 of the Revised Rules of Court. Hence, We rule that
the driver of the dump truck was performing duties or tasks pertaining to his office.

We already stressed in the case of Palafox, et. al. vs. Province of Ilocos Norte, the District Engineer,
and the Provincial Treasurer (102 Phil 1186) that "the construction or maintenance of roads in which
the truck and the driver worked at the time of the accident are admittedly governmental activities."

After a careful examination of existing laws and jurisprudence, We arrive at the conclusion that the
municipality cannot be held liable for the torts committed by its regular employee, who was then
engaged in the discharge of governmental functions. Hence, the death of the passenger –– tragic
and deplorable though it may be –– imposed on the municipality no duty to pay monetary
compensation.

All premises considered, the Court is convinced that the respondent judge's dereliction in failing to
resolve the issue of non-suability did not amount to grave abuse of discretion. But said judge
exceeded his jurisdiction when it ruled on the issue of liability.

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED and the decision of the respondent court is hereby
modified, absolving the petitioner municipality of any liability in favor of private respondents.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-33172 October 18, 1979

ERNESTO CEASE, CECILIA CEASE, MARION CEASE, TERESA CEASE-LACEBAL and the F.L.
CEASE PLANTATION CO., INC. as Trustee of properties of the defunct TIAONG MILLING &
PLANTATION CO., petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, (Special Seventh Division), HON. MANOLO L. MADDELA,
Presiding Judge, Court of First Instance of Quezon, BENJAMIN CEASE and FLORENCE
CEASE, respondents.

GUERRERO, J:

Appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 45474, entitled
"Ernesto Cease, et al. vs. Hon. Manolo L. Maddela, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Quezon,
et al." 1 which dismissed the petition for certiorari, mandamus, and prohibition instituted by the
petitioners against the respondent judge and the private respondents.

The antecedents of the case, as found by the appellate court, are as follows:

IT RESULTING: That the antecedents are not difficult to understand; sometime in


June 1908, one Forrest L. Cease common predecessor in interest of the parties
together with five (5) other American citizens organized the Tiaong Milling and
Plantation Company and in the course of its corporate existence the company
acquired various properties but at the same time all the other original incorporators
were bought out by Forrest L. Cease together with his children namely Ernest,
Cecilia, Teresita, Benjamin, Florence and one Bonifacia Tirante also considered a
member of the family; the charter of the company lapsed in June 1958; but whether
there were steps to liquidate it, the record is silent; on 13 August 1959, Forrest L.
Cease died and by extrajudicial partition of his shares, among the children, this was
disposed of on 19 October 1959; it was here where the trouble among them came to
arise because it would appear that Benjamin and Florence wanted an actual division
while the other children wanted reincorporation; and proceeding on that, these other
children Ernesto, Teresita and Cecilia and aforementioned other stockholder
Bonifacia Tirante proceeded to incorporate themselves into the F.L. Cease Plantation
Company and registered it with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 9
December, 1959; apparently in view of that, Benjamin and Florence for their part
initiated a Special Proceeding No. 3893 of the Court of First Instance of Tayabas for
the settlement of the estate of Forest L. Cease on 21 April, 1960 and one month
afterwards on 19 May 1960 they filed Civil Case No. 6326 against Ernesto, Teresita
and Cecilia Cease together with Bonifacia Tirante asking that the Tiaong Milling and
Plantation Corporation be declared Identical to F.L. Cease and that its properties be
divided among his children as his intestate heirs; this Civil Case was resisted by
aforestated defendants and notwithstanding efforts of the plaintiffs to have the
properties placed under receivership, they were not able to succeed because
defendants filed a bond to remain as they have remained in possession; after that
and already, during the pendency of Civil Case No. 6326 specifically on 21 May,
1961 apparently on the eve of the expiry of the three (3) year period provided by the
law for the liquidation of corporations, the board of liquidators of Tiaong Milling
executed an assignment and conveyance of properties and trust agreement in favor
of F.L. Cease Plantation Co. Inc. as trustee of the Tiaong Milling and Plantation Co.
so Chat upon motion of the plaintiffs trial Judge ordered that this alleged trustee be
also included as party defendant; now this being the situation, it will be remembered
that there were thus two (2) proceedings pending in the Court of First Instance of
Quezon namely Civil Case No. 6326 and Special Proceeding No. 3893 but both of
these were assigned to the Honorable Respondent Judge Manolo L. Maddela p. 43
and the case was finally heard and submitted upon stipulation of facts pp, 34-110,
rollo; and trial Judge by decision dated 27 December 1969 held for the plaintiffs
Benjamin and Florence, the decision containing the following dispositive part:

VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is


hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs and against the defendants
declaring that:
1) The assets or properties of the defunct Tiaong Milling and
Plantation Company now appearing under the name of F.L. Cease
Plantation Company as Trustee, is the estate also of the deceased
Forrest L. Cease and ordered divided, share and share alike, among
his six children the plaintiffs and the defendants in accordance with
Rule 69, Rules of Court;

2) The Resolution to Sell dated October 12, 1959 and the Transfer
and Conveyance with Trust Agreement is hereby set aside as
improper and illegal for the purposes and effect that it was intended
and, therefore, null and void;

3) That F.L. Cease Plantation Company is removed as 'Trustee for


interest against the estate and essential to the protection of plaintiffs'
rights and is hereby ordered to deliver and convey all the properties
and assets of the defunct Tiaong Milling now under its name, custody
and control to whomsoever be appointed as Receiver - disqualifying
and of the parties herein - the latter to act accordingly upon proper
assumption of office; and

4) Special Proceedings No. 3893 for administration is terminated and


dismissed; the instant case to proceed but on issues of damages only
and for such action inherently essential for partition.

SO ORDERED.

Lucena City, December 27, 1969., pp. 122-a-123, rollo.

upon receipt of that, defendants there filled a notice of appeal p. 129, rollo together
with an appeal bond and a record on appeal but the plaintiffs moved to dismiss the
appeal on the ground that the judgment was in fact interlocutory and not appealable
p. 168 rollo and this position of defendants was sustained by trial Judge, His Honor
ruling that

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appeal interposed by plaintiffs is


hereby dismissed as premature and the Record on Appeal is
necessarily disapproved as improper at this stage of the proceedings.

SO ORDERED.

Lucena City, April 27, 1970.

and so it was said defendants brought the matter first to the Supreme Court, on
mandamus on 20 May, 1970 to compel the appeal and certiorari and prohibition to
annul the order of 27 April, 1970 on the ground that the decision was "patently
erroneous" p. 16, rollo; but the Supreme Court remanded the case to this Court of
Appeals by resolution of 27 May 1970, p. 173, and this Court of Appeals on 1 July
1970 p. 175 dismissed the petition so far as the mandamus was concerned taking
the view that the decision sought to be appealed dated 27 December, 1969 was
interlocutory and not appealable but on motion for reconsideration of petitioners and
since there was possible merit so far as its prayer for certiorari and prohibition was
concerned, by resolution of the Court on 19 August, 1970, p. 232, the petition was
permitted to go ahead in that capacity; and it is the position of petitioners that the
decision of 27 December, 1969 as well as the order of 27 April, 1970 suffered of
certain fatal defects, which respondents deny and on their part raise the preliminary
point that this Court of Appeals has no authority to give relief to petitioners because
not

in aid of its appellate jurisdiction,

and that the questions presented cannot be raised for the first time before this Court
of Appeals;
Respondent Court of Appeals in its decision promulgated December 9, 1970 dismissed the petition
with costs against petitioners, hence the present petition to this Court on the following assignment of
errors:

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED -

I. IN SANCTIONING THE WRONGFUL EXERCISE OF JURISDICTION BEYOND THE LIMITS OF


AUTHORITY CONFERRED BY LAW UPON THE LOWER COURT, WHEN IT PROCEEDED TO
HEAR, ADJUDGE AND ADJUDICATE -

(a) Special Proceedings No. 3893 for the settlement of the Estate of Forrest L.
Cease, simultaneously and concurrently with -

(b) Civil Case No. 6326, wherein the lower Court ordered Partition under Rule 69,
Rules of Court -

THE ISSUE OF LEGAL OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTIES COMMONLY INVOLVED IN BOTH


ACTIONS HAVING BEEN RAISED AT THE OUTSET BY THE TIAONG MILLING AND
PLANTATION COMPANY, AS THE REGISTERED OWNER OF SUCH PROPERTIES UNDER ACT
496.

II. IN AFFIRMING - UNSUPPORTED BY ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER NOR CITATION OF


ANY LAW TO JUSTIFY - THE UNWARRANTED CONCLUSION THAT SUBJECT PROPERTIES,
FOUND BY THE LOWER COURT AND THE COURT OF APPEALS AS ACTUALLY REGISTERED
IN THE NAME OF PETITIONER CORPORATION AND/OR ITS PREDECESSOR IN INTEREST,
THE TIAONG MILLING AND PLANTATION COMPANY, DURING ALL THE 50 YEARS OF ITS
CORPORATE EXISTENCE "ARE ALSO PROPERTIES OF THE ESTATE OF FOREST L. CEASE."

III. IN AFFIRMING THE ARBITRARY CONCLUSION OF THE LOWER COURT THAT ITS
DECISION OF DECEMBER 27,1969 IS AN "INTERLUCUTORY DECISION." IN DISMISSED NG
THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS, AND IN AFFIRMING THE MANIFESTLY UNJUST
JUDGMENT RENDERED WHICH CONTRADICTS THE FINDINGS OF ULTIMATE FACTS
THEREIN CONTAINED.

During the period that ensued after the filing in this Court of the respective briefs and the subsequent
submission of the case for decision, some incidents had transpired, the summary of which may be
stated as follows:

1. Separate from this present appeal, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition in this
Court, docketed as G.R. No. L-35629 (Ernesto Cease, et al. vs. Hon. Manolo L. Maddela, et al.)
which challenged the order of respondent judge dated September 27, 1972 appointing his Branch
Clerk of Court, Mr. Eleno M. Joyas, as receiver of the properties subject of the appealed civil case,
which order, petitioners saw as a virtual execution of the lower court's judgment (p. 92, rollo). In Our
resolution of November 13, 1972, issued in G.R. No. L-35629, the petition was denied since
respondent judge merely appointed an auxilliary receiver for the preservation of the properties as
well as for the protection of the interests of all parties in Civil Case No. 6326; but at the same time,
We expressed Our displeasure in the appointment of the branch clerk of court or any other court
personnel for that matter as receiver. (p. 102, rollo).

2. Meanwhile, sensing that the appointed receiver was making some attempts to take possession of
the properties, petitioners filed in this present appeal an urgent petition to restrain proceedings in the
lower court. We resolved the petition on January 29, 1975 by issuing a corresponding temporary
restraining order enjoining the court a quo from implementing its decision of December 27, 1969,
more particularly, the taking over by a receiver of the properties subject of the litigation, and private
respondents Benjamin and Florence Cease from proceeding or taking any action on the matter until
further orders from this Court (pp. 99-100, rollo). Private respondents filed a motion for
reconsideration of Our resolution of January 29, 1975. After weighing the arguments of the parties
and taking note of Our resolution in G.R. No. L-35629 which upheld the appointment of a receiver,
We issued another resolution dated April 11, 1975 lifting effective immediately Our previous
temporary restraining order which enforced the earlier resolution of January 29, 1975 (pp. 140-141,
rollo).
3. On February 6, 1976, private respondents filed an urgent petition to restrain proceedings below in
view of the precipitate replacement of the court appointed receiver Mayor Francisco Escueta (vice
Mr. Eleno M. Joyas) and the appointment of Mr. Guillermo Lagrosa on the eve of respondent Judge
Maddela's retirement (p. 166, rollo). The urgent petition was denied in Our resolution of February 18,
1976 (p. 176, rollo).

4. Several attempts at a compromise agreement failed to materialize. A Tentative Compromise


Agreement dated July 30, 1975 was presented to the Court on August 6, 1976 for the signature of
the parties, but respondents "unceremoniously" repudiated the same by leaving the courtroom
without the permission of the court (Court of First Instance of Quezon, Branch 11) as a result of
which respondents and their counsel were cited for contempt (p. 195, 197, rollo) that respondents'
reason for the repudiation appears to be petitioners' failure to render an audited account of their
administration covering the period from May 31, 1961 up to January 29, 1974, plus the inclusion of a
provision on waiver and relinquishment by respondents of whatever rights that may have accrued to
their favor by virtue of the lower court's decision and the affirmative decision of the appellate court.

We go now to the alleged errors committed by the respondent Court of Appeals.

As can be gleaned from petitioners' brief and the petition itself, two contentions underlie the first
assigned error. First, petitioners argue that there was an irregular and arbitrarte termination and
dismissal of the special proceedings for judicial administration simultaneously ordered in the lower
court . s decision in Civil Case No. 6326 adjudicating the partition of the estate, without categorically,
reasoning the opposition to the petition for administration Second, that the issue of ownership had
been raised in the lower court when Tiaong Milling asserted title over the properties registered in its
corporate name adverse to Forrest L. Cease or his estate, and that the said issue was erroneously
disposed of by the trial court in the partition proceedings when it concluded that the assets or
properties of the defunct company is also the estate of the deceased proprietor.

The propriety of the dismissal and termination of the special proceedings for judicial administration
must be affirmed in spite of its rendition in another related case in view of the established
jurisprudence which favors partition when judicial administration become, unnecessary. As observed
by the Court of Appeals, the dismissal at first glance is wrong, for the reason that what was actually
heard was Civil Case No. 6326. The technical consistency, however, it is far less importance than
the reason behind the doctrinal rule against placing an estate under administration. Judicial rulings
consistently hold the view that where partition is possible, either judicial or extrajudicial, the estate
should not be burdened with an administration proceeding without good and compelling reason.
When the estate has no creditors or pending obligations to be paid, the beneficiaries in interest are
not bound to submit the property to judicial administration which is always long and costly, or to
apply for the appointment of an administrator by the court, especially when judicial administration is
unnecessary and superfluous. Thus -

When a person dies without leaving pending obligations to be paid, his heirs,
whether of age or not, are bound to submit the property to a judicial administration,
which is always long and costly, or to apply for the appointment of an administrator
by the court. It has been uniformly held that in such case the judicial administration
and the appointment of an administrator are superfluous and unnecessary
proceedings (Ilustre vs. Alaras Frondosa, 17 Phil., 321; Malahacan vs. Ignacio, 19
Phil, 434; Bondad vs. Bondad, 34 Phil., 232; Baldemor vs. Malangyaon, 34 Phil.,
367; Fule vs. Fule, 46 Phil., 317). Syllabus, Intestate estate of the deceased Luz
Garcia. Pablo G. Utulo vs. Leona Pasion Viuda de Garcia, 66 Phil. 302.

Where the estate has no debts, recourse may be had to an administration


proceeding only if the heirs have good reasons for not resorting to an action for
partition. Where partition is possible, either in or out of court, the estate should not be
burdened with an administration proceeding without good and compelling reasons.
(Intestate Estate of Mercado vs. Magtibay, 96 Phil. 383)

In the records of this case, We find no indication of any indebtedness of the estate. No creditor has
come up to charge the estate within the two-year period after the death of Forrest L. Cease, hence,
the presumption under Section 1, Rule 74 that the estate is free from creditors must apply. Neither
has the status of the parties as legal heirs, much less that of respondents, been raised as an issue.
Besides, extant in the records is the stipulation of the parties to submit the pleadings and contents of
the administration proceedings for the cognizance of the trial judge in adjudicating the civil case for
partition (Respondents' Brief, p, 20, rollo). As respondents observe, the parties in both cases are the
same, so are the properties involved; that actual division is the primary objective in both actions; the
theory and defense of the respective parties are likewise common; and that both cases have been
assigned to the same respondent judge. We feel that the unifying effect of the foregoing
circumstances invites the wholesome exception to the structures of procedural rule, thus allowing,
instead, room for judicial flexibility. Respondent judge's dismissal of the administration proceedings
then, is a judicious move, appreciable in today's need for effective and speedy administration of
justice. There being ample reason to support the dismissal of the special proceedings in this
appealed case, We cannot see in the records any compelling reason why it may not be dismissed
just the same even if considered in a separate action. This is inevitably certain specially when the
subject property has already been found appropriate for partition, thus reducing the petition for
administration to a mere unnecessary solicitation.

The second point raised by petitioners in their first assigned error is equally untenable. In effect,
petitioners argue that the action for partition should not have prospered in view of the repudiation of
the co-ownership by Tiaong Milling and Plantation Company when, as early in the trial court, it
already asserted ownership and corporate title over the properties adverse to the right of ownership
of Forrest L. Cease or his estate. We are not unmindful of the doctrine relied upon by petitioners
in Rodriguez vs. Ravilan, 17 Phil. 63 wherein this Court held that in an action for partition, it is
assumed that the parties by whom it is prosecuted are all co-owners or co-proprietors of the property
to be divided, and that the question of common ownership is not to be argued, not the fact as to
whether the intended parties are or are not the owners of the property in question, but only as to how
and in what manner and proportion the said property of common ownership shall be distributed
among the interested parties by order of the Court. Consistent with this dictum, it has been field that
if any party to a suit for partition denies the pro-indivisocharacter of the estate whose partition is
sought, and claims instead, exclusive title thereto the action becomes one for recovery of property
cognizable in the courts of ordinary jurisdiction. 2

Petitioners' argument has only theoretical persuasion, to say the least, rather apparent than real. It
must be remembered that when Tiaong Milling adduced its defense and raised the issue of
ownership, its corporate existence already terminated through the expiration of its charter. It is clear
in Section 77 of Act No. 1459 (Corporation Law) that upon the expiration of the charter period, the
corporation ceases to exist and is dissolved ipso facto except for purposes connected with the
winding up and liquidation. The provision allows a three year, period from expiration of the charter
within which the entity gradually settles and closes its affairs, disposes and convey its property and
to divide its capital stock, but not for the purpose of continuing the business for which it was
established. At this terminal stage of its existence, Tiaong Milling may no longer persist to maintain
adverse title and ownership of the corporate assets as against the prospective distributees when at
this time it merely holds the property in trust, its assertion of ownership is not only a legal
contradiction, but more so, to allow it to maintain adverse interest would certainly thwart the very
purpose of liquidation and the final distribute loll of the assets to the proper, parties.

We agree with the Court of Appeals in its reasoning that substance is more important than form
when it sustained the dismissal of Special Proceedings No. 3893, thus -

a) As to the dismissal of Special Proceedings No. 3893, of course, at first glance, this
was wrong, for the reason that the case trial had been heard was Civil Case No.
6326; but what should not be overlooked either is Chat respondent Judge was the
same Judge that had before him in his own sala, said Special Proceedings No. 3893,
p. 43 rollo, and the parties to the present Civil Case No. 6326 had themselves asked
respondent Judge to take judicial notice of the same and its contents page 34, rollo;
it is not difficult to see that when respondent Judge in par. 4 of the dispositive part of
his decision complained of, ordered that,

4) Special Proceedings No. 3893 for administration is terminated and


dismissed; the instant case to proceed but on issues of damages only
and for such action inherently essential or partition. p. 123, rollo,

in truth and in fact, His Honor was issuing that order also within Civil Case No. 632
but in connection with Special Proceedings No. 389:3: for substance is more
important Chan form, the contending par ties in both proceedings being exactly the
same, but not only this, let it not be forgotten that when His Honor dismissed Special
Proceedings No. 3893, that dismissal precisely was a dismissal that petitioners
herein had themselves sought and solicited from respondent Judge as petitioners
themselves are in their present petition pp. 5-6, rollo; this Court must find difficulty in
reconciling petitioners' attack with the fact that it was they themselves that had
insisted on that dismissal; on the principle that not he who is favored but he who is
hurt by a judicial order is he only who should be heard to complain and especially
since extraordinary legal remedies are remedies in extermies granted to parties ' who
have been the victims not merely of errors but of grave wrongs, and it cannot be
seen how one who got what he had asked could be heard to claim that he had been
the victim of a wrong, petitioners should not now complain of an order they had
themselves asked in order to attack such an order afterwards; if at all, perhaps, third
parties, creditors, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, might have been prejudiced, and
could have had the personality to attack that dismissal of Special Proceedings No.
3893, but not petitioners herein, and it is not now for this Court of Appeals to protect
said third persons who have not come to the Court below or sought to intervene
herein;

On the second assigned error, petitioners argue that no evidence has been found to support the
conclusion that the registered properties of Tiaong Milling are also properties of the estate of Forrest
L. Cease; that on the contrary, said properties are registered under Act No. 496 in the name of
Tiaong Milling as lawful owner and possessor for the last 50 years of its corporate existence.

We do not agree. In reposing ownership to the estate of Forrest L. Cease, the trial court indeed
found strong support, one that is based on a well-entrenched principle of law. In sustaining
respondents' theory of "merger of Forrest L. Cease and The Tiaong Milling as one personality", or
that "the company is only the business conduit and alter ego of the deceased Forrest L. Cease and
the registered properties of Tiaong Milling are actually properties of Forrest L. Cease and should be
divided equally, share and share alike among his six children, ... ", the trial court did aptly apply the
familiar exception to the general rule by disregarding the legal fiction of distinct and separate
corporate personality and regarding the corporation and the individual member one and the same. In
shredding the fictitious corporate veil, the trial judge narrated the undisputed factual premise, thus:

While the records showed that originally its incorporators were aliens, friends or third-
parties in relation of one to another, in the course of its existence, it developed into a
close family corporation. The Board of Directors and stockholders belong to one
family the head of which Forrest L. Cease always retained the majority stocks and
hence the control and management of its affairs. In fact, during the reconstruction of
its records in 1947 before the Security and Exchange Commission only 9 nominal
shares out of 300 appears in the name of his 3 eldest children then and another
person close to them. It is likewise noteworthy to observe that as his children
increase or perhaps become of age, he continued distributing his shares among
them adding Florence, Teresa and Marion until at the time of his death only 190 were
left to his name. Definitely, only the members of his family benefited from the
Corporation.

The accounts of the corporation and therefore its operation, as well as that of the
family appears to be indistinguishable and apparently joined together. As admitted by
the defendants (Manifestation of Compliance with Order of March 7, 1963 [Exhibit
"21"] the corporation 'never' had any account with any banking institution or if any
account was carried in a bank on its behalf, it was in the name of Mr. Forrest L.
Cease. In brief, the operation of the Corporation is merged with those of the majority
stockholders, the latter using the former as his instrumentality and for the exclusive
benefits of all his family. From the foregoing indication, therefore, there is truth in
plaintiff's allegation that the corporation is only a business conduit of his father and
an extension of his personality, they are one and the same thing. Thus, the assets of
the corporation are also the estate of Forrest L. Cease, the father of the parties
herein who are all legitimate children of full blood.

A rich store of jurisprudence has established the rule known as the doctrine of disregarding or
piercing the veil of corporate fiction. Generally, a corporation is invested by law with a personality
separate and distinct from that of the persons composing it as well as from that of any other legal
entity to which it may be related. By virtue of this attribute, a corporation may not, generally, be made
to answer for acts or liabilities of its stockholders or those of the legal entities to which it may be
connected, and vice versa. This separate and distinct personality is, however, merely a fiction
created by law for convenience and to promote the ends of justice (Laguna Transportation Company
vs. Social Security System, L-14606, April 28, 1960; La Campana Coffee Factory, Inc. vs. Kaisahan
ng mga Manggagawa sa La Campana, L-5677, May 25, 1953). For this reason, it may not be used
or invoked for ends subversive of the policy and purpose behind its creation (Emiliano Cano
Enterprises, Inc. vs. CIR, L-20502, Feb. 26, 1965) or which could not have been intended by law to
which it owes its being McConnel vs. Court of Appeals, L- 10510, March 17, 1961, 1 SCRA 722).
This is particularly true where the fiction is used to defeat public convenience, justify wrong, protect
fraud, defend crime (Yutivo Sons Hardware Company vs. Court of Tax Appeals, L-13203, Jan. 28,
1961, 1 SCRA 160), confuse legitimate legal or judicial issues (R. F. Sugay & Co. vs. Reyes, L-
20451, Dec. 28, 1964), perpetrate deception or otherwise circumvent the law (Gregorio Araneta, Inc.
vs. reason de Paterno, L-2886, Aug. 22, 1952, 49 O.G. 721). This is likewise true where the
corporate entity is being used as an alter ego, adjunct, or business conduit for the sole benefit of the
stockholders or of another corporate entity (McConnel vs. Court of Appeals, supra; Commissioner of
Internal Revenue vs. Norton Harrison Co., L-7618, Aug. 31, 1964).

In any of these cases, the notion of corporate entity will be pierced or disregarded, and the
corporation will be treated merely as an association of persons or, where there are two corporations,
they will be merged as one, the one being merely regarded as part or the instrumentality of the otter
(Koppel [Phil.] Inc. vs. Yatco, 77 Phil. 496, Yutivo Sons Hardware Company vs. Court of Tax
Appeals, supra).

So must the case at bar add to this jurisprudence. An indubitable deduction from the findings of the
trial court cannot but lead to the conclusion that the business of the corporation is largely, if not
wholly, the personal venture of Forrest L. Cease. There is not even a shadow of a showing that his
children were subscribers or purchasers of the stocks they own. Their participation as nominal
shareholders emanated solely from Forrest L. Cease's gratuitous dole out of his own shares to the
benefit of his children and ultimately his family.

Were we sustain the theory of petitioners that the trial court acted in excess of jurisdiction or abuse
of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in deciding Civil Case No. 6326 as a case for partition
when the defendant therein, Tiaong Milling and Plantation Company, Inc. as registered owner
asserted ownership of the assets and properties involved in the litigation, which theory must
necessarily be based on the assumption that said assets and properties of Tiaong Milling and
Plantation Company, Inc. now appearing under the name of F. L. Cease Plantation Company as
Trustee are distinct and separate from the estate of Forrest L. Cease to which petitioners and
respondents as legal heirs of said Forrest L. Cease are equally entitled share and share alike, then
that legal fiction of separate corporate personality shall have been used to delay and ultimately
deprive and defraud the respondents of their successional rights to the estate of their deceased
father. For Tiaong Milling and Plantation Company shall have been able to extend its corporate
existence beyond the period of its charter which lapsed in June, 1958 under the guise and cover of
F. L, Cease Plantation Company, Inc. as Trustee which would be against the law, and as Trustee
shall have been able to use the assets and properties for the benefit of the petitioners, to the great
prejudice and defraudation. of private respondents. Hence, it becomes necessary and imperative to
pierce that corporate veil.

Under the third assigned error, petitioners claim that the decision of the lower court in the partition
case is not interlocutory but rather final for it consists of final and determinative dispositions of the
contentions of the parties. We find no merit in petitioners' stand.

Under the 1961 pronouncement and ruling of the Supreme Court in Vda. de Zaldarriaga vs.
Enriquez, 1 SCRA 1188 (and the sequel case of Vda. de Zaldarriaga vs. Zaldarriaga, 2 SCRA 356),
the lower court's dismissal of petitioners' proposed appeal from its December 27, 1969 judgment as
affirmed by the Court of Appeals on the ground of prematurity in that the judgment was not final but
interlocutory was in order. As was said in said case:

It is true that in Africa vs. Africa, 42 Phil. 934 and other cases it was held - contrary to
the rule laid down in Ron vs. Mojica, 8 Phil. 328; Rodriguez vs. Ravilan, 17 Phil. 63 -
that in a partition case where defendant relies on the defense of exclusive ownership,
the action becomes one for title and the decision or order directing partition is final,
but the ruling to this effect has been expressly reversed in the Fuentebella case
which, in our opinion, expresses the correct view, considering that a decision or order
directing partition is not final because it leaves something more to be done in the trial
court for the complete disposition of the case, namely, the appointment of
commissioners, the proceedings to be had before them, the submission of their
report which, according to law, must be set for hearing. In fact, it is only after said
hearing that the court may render a final judgment finally disposing of the action
(Rule 71, section 7, Rules of Court). (1 SCRA at page 1193).
It should be noted, however, that the said ruling in Zaldarriaga as based on Fuentebella vs.
Carrascoso, XIV Lawyers Journal 305 (May 27, 1942), has been expressly abandoned by the Court
in Miranda vs. Court of Appeals, 71 SCRA 295; 331-333 (June 18, 1976) wherein Mr. Justice
Teehankee, speaking for the Court, laid down the following doctrine:

The Court, however, deems it proper for the guidance of the bench and bar to now
declare as is clearly indicated from the compelling reasons and considerations
hereinabove stated:

- that the Court considers the better rule to be that stated in H. E. Heacock Co. vs.
American Trading Co., to wit, that where the primary purpose of a case is to
ascertain and determine who between plaintiff and defendant is the true owner and
entitled to the exclusive use of the disputed property, "the judgment . . . rendered by
the lower court [is] a judgment on the merits as to those questions, and [that] the
order of the court for an accounting was based upon, and is incidental to the
judgment on the merits. That is to say, that the judgment . . . [is] a final judgment ...
that in this kind of a case an accounting is a mere incident to the judgment; that
an appeal lies from the rendition of the judgment as rendered ... "(as is widely held by
a great number of judges and members of the bar, as shown by the cases so
decided and filed and still pending with the Court) for the fundamental reasons
therein stated that "this is more in harmony with the administration of justice and the
spirit and intent of the [Rules]. If on appeal the judgment of the lower court is
affirmed, it would not in the least work an injustice to any of the legal rights of
[appellee]. On the other hand, if for any reason this court should reverse the
judgment of the lower court, the accounting would be a waste of time and money,
and might work a material injury to the [appellant]; and

- that accordingly, the contrary ruling in Fuentebella vs. Carrascoso which expressly
reversed the Heacock case and a line of similar decisions and ruled that such a
decision for recovery of property with accounting "is not final but merely interlocutory
and therefore not appealable" and subsequent cases adhering to the same must
be now in turn abandoned and set aside.

Fuentebella adopted instead the opposite line of conflicting decisions mostly in


partition proceedings and exemplified by Ron vs. Mojica 8 Phil. 928 (under the old
Code of Civil Procedure) that an order for partition of real property is not final and
appealable until after the actual partition of the property as reported by the court
appointed commissioners and approved by the court in its judgment accepting the
report. lt must be especially noted that such rule governing partitions is now so
expressly provided and spelled out in Rule 69 of the Rules of Court, with special
reference to Sections 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 11, to wit, that there must first be a preliminar,
order for partition of the real estate (section 2) and where the parties-co-owners
cannot agree, the court appointed commissioners make a plan of actual partition
which must first be passed upon and accepted by the trial court and embodied in a
judgment to be rendered by it (sections 6 and 11). In partition cases, it must be
further borne in mind that Rule 69, section 1 refers to "a person having the right to
compel the partition of real estate," so that the general rule of partition that an appeal
will not lie until the partition or distribution proceedings are terminated will not apply
where appellant claims exclusive ownership of the whole property and denies the
adverse party's right to any partition, as was the ruling in Villanueva vs.
Capistrano and Africa vs .Africa, supra, Fuentebellas express rehearsal of these
cases must likewise be deemed now also abandoned in view of the Court's
expressed preference for the rationale of the Heacock case.

The Court's considered opinion is that imperative considerations of public policy and
of sound practice in the courts and adherence to the constitutional mandate of
simplified, just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action call for
considering such judgments for recovery of property with accounting as
final judgments which are duly appealable (and would therefore become final and
executory if not appealed within the reglementary period) with the accounting as a
mere incident of the judgment to be rendered during the course of the appeal as
provided in Rule 39, section 4 or to be implemented at the execution stage upon final
affirmance on appeal of the judgment (as in Court of Industrial Relations unfair labor
practice cases ordering the reinstatement of the worker with accounting, computation
and payment of his backwages less earnings elsewhere during his layoff) and that
the only reason given in Fuentebelia for the contrary ruling, viz, "the general harm
that would follow from throwing the door open to multiplicity of appeals in a single
case" of lesser import and consequence. (Emphasis copied).

The miranda ruling has since then been applied as the new rule by a unanimous Court in Valdez vs.
Bagasao, 82 SCRA 22 (March 8, 1978).

If there were a valid genuine claim of Exclusive ownership of the inherited properties on the part of
petitioners to respondents' action for partition, then under the Miranda ruling, petitioners would be
sustained, for as expressly held therein " the general rule of partition that an appeal will not lie until
the partition or distribution proceedings are terminated will not apply where appellant claims
exclusive ownership of the whole property and denies the adverse party's right to any partition."

But this question has now been rendered moot and academic for the very issue of exclusive
ownership claimed by petitioners to deny and defeat respondents' right to partition - which is the very
core of their rejected appeal - has been squarely resolved herein against them, as if the appeal had
been given due course. The Court has herein expressly sustained the trial court's findings, as
affirmed by the Court of Appeals, that the assets or properties of the defunct company constitute the
estate of the deceased proprietor (supra at page 7) and the defunct company's assertion of
ownership of the properties is a legal contradiction and would but thwart the liquidation and final
distribution and partition of the properties among the parties hereof as children of their deceased
father Forrest L. Cease. There is therefore no further hindrance to effect the partition of the
properties among the parties in implementation of the appealed judgment.

One last consideration. Parties are brothers and sisters, legal heirs of their deceased father, Forrest
L. Cease. By all rights in law and jurisprudence, each is entitled to share and share alike in the
estate, which the trial court correctly ordained and sustained by the appellate court. Almost 20 years
have lapsed since the filing of Special Proceedings No. 3893 for the administration of the Estate of
Forrest L. Cease and Civil Case No. 6326 for liquidation and partition of the assets of the defunct
Tiaong Milling and Plantation Co., Inc. A succession of receivers were appointed by the court to
take, keep in possession, preserve and manage properties of the corporation which at one time
showed an income of P386,152.90 and expenses of P308,405.01 for the period covering January 1,
1960 to August 31, 1967 as per Summary of Operations of Commissioner for Finance appointed by
the Court (Brief for Respondents, p. 38). In the meantime, ejectment cases were filed by and against
the heirs in connection with the properties involved, aggravating the already strained relations of the
parties. A prudent and practical realization of these circumstances ought and must constrain the
parties to give each one his due in law and with fairness and dispatch that their basic rights be
enjoyed. And by remanding this case to the court a quo for the actual partition of the properties, the
substantial rights of everyone of the heirs have not been impaired, for in fact, they have been
preserved and maintained.

WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED
with costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 119976 September 18, 1995

IMELDA ROMUALDEZ-MARCOS, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and CIRILO ROY MONTEJO, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J.:

A constitutional provision should be construed as to give it effective operation and suppress the
mischief at which it is aimed.1 The 1987 Constitution mandates that an aspirant for election to the
House of Representatives be "a registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected, and a
resident thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the election."2 The
mischief which this provision — reproduced verbatim from the 1973 Constitution — seeks to prevent
is the possibility of a "stranger or newcomer unacquainted with the conditions and needs of a
community and not identified with the latter, from an elective office to serve that community."3

Petitioner Imelda Romualdez-Marcos filed her Certificate of Candidacy for the position of
Representative of the First District of Leyte with the Provincial Election Supervisor on March 8, 1995,
providing the following information in item no. 8:4

RESIDENCE IN THE CONSTITUENCY WHERE I SEEK TO BE ELECTED


IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE ELECTION: __________ Years
and seven Months.

On March 23, 1995, private respondent Cirilo Roy Montejo, the incumbent Representative of the
First District of Leyte and a candidate for the same position, filed a "Petition for Cancellation and
Disqualification"5 with the Commission on Elections alleging that petitioner did not meet the
constitutional requirement for residency. In his petition, private respondent contended that Mrs.
Marcos lacked the Constitution's one year residency requirement for candidates for the House of
Representatives on the evidence of declarations made by her in Voter Registration Record 94-No.
33497726 and in her Certificate of Candidacy. He prayed that "an order be issued declaring
(petitioner) disqualified and canceling the certificate of candidacy."7

On March 29, 1995, petitioner filed an Amended/Corrected Certificate of Candidacy, changing the
entry "seven" months to "since childhood" in item no. 8 of the amended certificate.8 On the same
day, the Provincial Election Supervisor of Leyte informed petitioner that:

[T]his office cannot receive or accept the aforementioned Certificate of Candidacy on


the ground that it is filed out of time, the deadline for the filing of the same having
already lapsed on March 20, 1995. The Corrected/Amended Certificate of Candidacy
should have been filed on or before the March 20, 1995 deadline.9

Consequently, petitioner filed the Amended/Corrected Certificate of Candidacy with the COMELEC's
Head Office in Intramuros, Manila on
March 31, 1995. Her Answer to private respondent's petition in SPA No. 95-009 was likewise filed
with the head office on the same day. In said Answer, petitioner averred that the entry of the word
"seven" in her original Certificate of Candidacy was the result of an "honest
misinterpretation" 10 which she sought to rectify by adding the words "since childhood" in her
Amended/Corrected Certificate of Candidacy and that "she has always maintained Tacloban City as
her domicile or residence. 11 Impugning respondent's motive in filing the petition seeking her
disqualification, she noted that:

When respondent (petitioner herein) announced that she was intending to register as
a voter in Tacloban City and run for Congress in the First District of Leyte, petitioner
immediately opposed her intended registration by writing a letter stating that "she is
not a resident of said city but of Barangay Olot, Tolosa, Leyte. After respondent had
registered as a voter in Tolosa following completion of her six month actual residence
therein, petitioner filed a petition with the COMELEC to transfer the town of Tolosa
from the First District to the Second District and pursued such a move up to the
Supreme Court, his purpose being to remove respondent as petitioner's opponent in
the congressional election in the First District. He also filed a bill, along with other
Leyte Congressmen, seeking the creation of another legislative district to remove the
town of Tolosa out of the First District, to achieve his purpose. However, such bill did
not pass the Senate. Having failed on such moves, petitioner now filed the instant
petition for the same objective, as it is obvious that he is afraid to submit along with
respondent for the judgment and verdict of the electorate of the First District of Leyte
in an honest, orderly, peaceful, free and clean elections on May 8, 1995. 12

On April 24, 1995, the Second Division of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), by a vote of 2
to 1, 13 came up with a Resolution 1) finding private respondent's Petition for Disqualification in SPA
95-009 meritorious; 2) striking off petitioner's Corrected/Amended Certificate of Candidacy of March
31, 1995; and 3) canceling her original Certificate of Candidacy. 14 Dealing with two primary issues,
namely, the validity of amending the original Certificate of Candidacy after the lapse of the deadline
for filing certificates of candidacy, and petitioner's compliance with the one year residency
requirement, the Second Division held:

Respondent raised the affirmative defense in her Answer that the printed word
"Seven" (months) was a result of an "honest misinterpretation or honest mistake" on
her part and, therefore, an amendment should subsequently be allowed. She averred
that she thought that what was asked was her "actual and physical" presence in
Tolosa and not residence of origin or domicile in the First Legislative District, to which
she could have responded "since childhood." In an accompanying affidavit, she
stated that her domicile is Tacloban City, a component of the First District, to which
she always intended to return whenever absent and which she has never
abandoned. Furthermore, in her memorandum, she tried to discredit petitioner's
theory of disqualification by alleging that she has been a resident of the First
Legislative District of Leyte since childhood, although she only became a resident of
the Municipality of Tolosa for seven months. She asserts that she has always been a
resident of Tacloban City, a component of the First District, before coming to the
Municipality of Tolosa.

Along this point, it is interesting to note that prior to her registration in Tolosa,
respondent announced that she would be registering in Tacloban City so that she
can be a candidate for the District. However, this intention was rebuffed when
petitioner wrote the Election Officer of Tacloban not to allow respondent since she is
a resident of Tolosa and not Tacloban. She never disputed this claim and instead
implicitly acceded to it by registering in Tolosa.

This incident belies respondent's claim of "honest misinterpretation or honest


mistake." Besides, the Certificate of Candidacy only asks for RESIDENCE. Since on
the basis of her Answer, she was quite aware of "residence of origin" which she
interprets to be Tacloban City, it is curious why she did not cite Tacloban City in her
Certificate of Candidacy. Her explanation that she thought what was asked was her
actual and physical presence in Tolosa is not easy to believe because there is none
in the question that insinuates about Tolosa. In fact, item no. 8 in the Certificate of
Candidacy speaks clearly of "Residency in the CONSTITUENCY where I seek to be
elected immediately preceding the election." Thus, the explanation of respondent
fails to be persuasive.

From the foregoing, respondent's defense of an honest mistake or misinterpretation,


therefore, is devoid of merit.

To further buttress respondent's contention that an amendment may be made, she


cited the case of Alialy v. COMELEC (2 SCRA 957). The reliance of respondent on
the case of Alialy is misplaced. The case only applies to the "inconsequential
deviations which cannot affect the result of the election, or deviations from provisions
intended primarily to secure timely and orderly conduct of elections." The Supreme
Court in that case considered the amendment only as a matter of form. But in the
instant case, the amendment cannot be considered as a matter of form or an
inconsequential deviation. The change in the number of years of residence in the
place where respondent seeks to be elected is a substantial matter which determines
her qualification as a candidacy, specially those intended to suppress, accurate
material representation in the original certificate which adversely affects the filer. To
admit the amended certificate is to condone the evils brought by the shifting minds of
manipulating candidate, of the detriment of the integrity of the election.
Moreover, to allow respondent to change the seven (7) month period of her
residency in order to prolong it by claiming it was "since childhood" is to allow an
untruthfulness to be committed before this Commission. The arithmetical accuracy of
the 7 months residency the respondent indicated in her certificate of candidacy can
be gleaned from her entry in her Voter's Registration Record accomplished on
January 28, 1995 which reflects that she is a resident of Brgy. Olot, Tolosa, Leyte for
6 months at the time of the said registration (Annex A, Petition). Said accuracy is
further buttressed by her letter to the election officer of San Juan, Metro Manila,
dated August 24, 1994, requesting for the cancellation of her registration in the
Permanent List of Voters thereat so that she can be re-registered or transferred to
Brgy. Olot, Tolosa, Leyte. The dates of these three (3) different documents show the
respondent's consistent conviction that she has transferred her residence to Olot,
Tolosa, Leyte from Metro Manila only for such limited period of time, starting in the
last week of August 1994 which on March 8, 1995 will only sum up to 7 months. The
Commission, therefore, cannot be persuaded to believe in the respondent's
contention that it was an error.

xxx xxx xxx

Based on these reasons the Amended/Corrected Certificate of Candidacy cannot be


admitted by this Commission.

xxx xxx xxx

Anent the second issue, and based on the foregoing discussion, it is clear that
respondent has not complied with the one year residency requirement of the
Constitution.

In election cases, the term "residence" has always been considered as synonymous
with "domicile" which imports not only the intention to reside in a fixed place but also
personal presence in-that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention.
Domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent for business or
pleasure, or for like reasons, one intends to return. (Perfecto Faypon vs. Eliseo
Quirino, 96 Phil 294; Romualdez vs. RTC-Tacloban, 226 SCRA 408). In respondent's
case, when she returned to the Philippines in 1991, the residence she chose was not
Tacloban but San Juan, Metro Manila. Thus, her animus revertendi is pointed to
Metro Manila and not Tacloban.

This Division is aware that her claim that she has been a resident of the First District
since childhood is nothing more than to give her a color of qualification where she is
otherwise constitutionally disqualified. It cannot hold ground in the face of the facts
admitted by the respondent in her affidavit. Except for the time that she studied and
worked for some years after graduation in Tacloban City, she continuously lived in
Manila. In 1959, after her husband was elected Senator, she lived and resided in San
Juan, Metro Manila where she was a registered voter. In 1965, she lived in San
Miguel, Manila where she was again a registered voter. In 1978, she served as
member of the Batasang Pambansa as the representative of the City of Manila and
later on served as the Governor of Metro Manila. She could not have served these
positions if she had not been a resident of the City of Manila. Furthermore, when she
filed her certificate of candidacy for the office of the President in 1992, she claimed to
be a resident of San Juan, Metro Manila. As a matter of fact on August 24, 1994,
respondent wrote a letter with the election officer of San Juan, Metro Manila
requesting for the cancellation of her registration in the permanent list of voters that
she may be re-registered or transferred to Barangay Olot, Tolosa, Leyte. These facts
manifest that she could not have been a resident of Tacloban City since childhood up
to the time she filed her certificate of candidacy because she became a resident of
many places, including Metro Manila. This debunks her claim that prior to her
residence in Tolosa, Leyte, she was a resident of the First Legislative District of
Leyte since childhood.

In this case, respondent's conduct reveals her lack of intention to make Tacloban her
domicile. She registered as a voter in different places and on several occasions
declared that she was a resident of Manila. Although she spent her school days in
Tacloban, she is considered to have abandoned such place when she chose to stay
and reside in other different places. In the case of Romualdez vs. RTC (226 SCRA
408) the Court explained how one acquires a new domicile by choice. There must
concur: (1) residence or bodily presence in the new locality; (2) intention to remain
there; and (3) intention to abandon the old domicile. In other words there must
basically be animus manendi with animus non revertendi. When respondent chose to
stay in Ilocos and later on in Manila, coupled with her intention to stay there by
registering as a voter there and expressly declaring that she is a resident of that
place, she is deemed to have abandoned Tacloban City, where she spent her
childhood and school days, as her place of domicile.

Pure intention to reside in that place is not sufficient, there must likewise be conduct
indicative of such intention. Respondent's statements to the effect that she has
always intended to return to Tacloban, without the accompanying conduct to prove
that intention, is not conclusive of her choice of residence. Respondent has not
presented any evidence to show that her conduct, one year prior the election,
showed intention to reside in Tacloban. Worse, what was evident was that prior to
her residence in Tolosa, she had been a resident of Manila.

It is evident from these circumstances that she was not a resident of the First District
of Leyte "since childhood."

To further support the assertion that she could have not been a resident of the First
District of Leyte for more than one year, petitioner correctly pointed out that on
January 28, 1995 respondent registered as a voter at precinct No. 18-A of Olot,
Tolosa, Leyte. In doing so, she placed in her Voter Registration Record that she
resided in the municipality of Tolosa for a period of six months. This may be
inconsequential as argued by the respondent since it refers only to her residence in
Tolosa, Leyte. But her failure to prove that she was a resident of the First District of
Leyte prior to her residence in Tolosa leaves nothing but a convincing proof that she
had been a resident of the district for six months only. 15

In a Resolution promulgated a day before the May 8, 1995 elections, the COMELEC en banc denied
petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration 16 of the April 24, 1995 Resolution declaring her not qualified
to run for the position of Member of the House of Representatives for the First Legislative District of
Leyte. 17 The Resolution tersely stated:

After deliberating on the Motion for Reconsideration, the Commission RESOLVED to


DENY it, no new substantial matters having been raised therein to warrant re-
examination of the resolution granting the petition for disqualification. 18

On May 11, 1995, the COMELEC issued a Resolution allowing petitioner's proclamation should the
results of the canvass show that she obtained the highest number of votes in the congressional
elections in the First District of Leyte. On the same day, however, the COMELEC reversed itself and
issued a second Resolution directing that the proclamation of petitioner be suspended in the event
that she obtains the highest number of votes. 19

In a Supplemental Petition dated 25 May 1995, petitioner averred that she was the overwhelming
winner of the elections for the congressional seat in the First District of Leyte held May 8, 1995
based on the canvass completed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers on May 14, 1995. Petitioner
alleged that the canvass showed that she obtained a total of 70,471 votes compared to the 36,833
votes received by Respondent Montejo. A copy of said Certificate of Canvass was annexed to the
Supplemental Petition.

On account of the Resolutions disqualifying petitioner from running for the congressional seat of the
First District of Leyte and the public respondent's Resolution suspending her proclamation, petitioner
comes to this court for relief.

Petitioner raises several issues in her Original and Supplemental Petitions. The principal issues may
be classified into two general areas:

I. The issue of Petitioner's qualifications


Whether or not petitioner was a resident, for election purposes, of the First District of
Leyte for a period of one year at the time of the May 9, 1995 elections.

II. The Jurisdictional Issue

a) Prior to the elections

Whether or not the COMELEC properly exercised its jurisdiction in disqualifying


petitioner outside the period mandated by the Omnibus Election Code for
disqualification cases under Article 78 of the said Code.

b) After the Elections

Whether or not the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal assumed exclusive


jurisdiction over the question of petitioner's qualifications after the May 8, 1995
elections.

I. Petitioner's qualification

A perusal of the Resolution of the COMELEC's Second Division reveals a startling confusion in the
application of settled concepts of "Domicile" and "Residence" in election law. While the COMELEC
seems to be in agreement with the general proposition that for the purposes of election law,
residence is synonymous with domicile, the Resolution reveals a tendency to substitute or mistake
the concept of domicile for actual residence, a conception not intended for the purpose of
determining a candidate's qualifications for election to the House of Representatives as required by
the 1987 Constitution. As it were, residence, for the purpose of meeting the qualification for an
elective position, has a settled meaning in our jurisdiction.

Article 50 of the Civil Code decrees that "[f]or the exercise of civil rights and the fulfillment of civil
obligations, the domicile of natural persons is their place of habitual residence." In Ong
vs. Republic 20 this court took the concept of domicile to mean an individual's "permanent home", "a
place to which, whenever absent for business or for pleasure, one intends to return, and depends on
facts and circumstances in the sense that they disclose intent." 21Based on the foregoing, domicile
includes the twin elements of "the fact of residing or physical presence in a fixed place" and animus
manendi, or the intention of returning there permanently.

Residence, in its ordinary conception, implies the factual relationship of an individual to a certain
place. It is the physical presence of a person in a given area, community or country. The essential
distinction between residence and domicile in law is that residence involves the intent to leave when
the purpose for which the resident has taken up his abode ends. One may seek a place for purposes
such as pleasure, business, or health. If a person's intent be to remain, it becomes his domicile; if his
intent is to leave as soon as his purpose is established it is residence. 22 It is thus, quite perfectly
normal for an individual to have different residences in various places. However, a person can only
have a single domicile, unless, for various reasons, he successfully abandons his domicile in favor of
another domicile of choice. In Uytengsu vs. Republic, 23 we laid this distinction quite clearly:

There is a difference between domicile and residence. "Residence" is used to


indicate a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary; "domicile" denotes a
fixed permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the intention of returning.
A man may have a residence in one place and a domicile in another. Residence is
not domicile, but domicile is residence coupled with the intention to remain for an
unlimited time. A man can have but one domicile for the same purpose at any time,
but he may have numerous places of residence. His place of residence is generally
his place of domicile, but it is not by any means necessarily so since no length of
residence without intention of remaining will constitute domicile.

For political purposes the concepts of residence and domicile are dictated by the peculiar criteria of
political laws. As these concepts have evolved in our election law, what has clearly and
unequivocally emerged is the fact that residence for election purposes is used synonymously with
domicile.

In Nuval vs. Guray, 24 the Court held that "the term residence. . . is synonymous with domicile which
imports not only intention to reside in a fixed place, but also personal presence in that place, coupled
with conduct indicative of such intention." 25 Larena vs. Teves 26 reiterated the same doctrine in a
case involving the qualifications of the respondent therein to the post of Municipal President of
Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. Faypon vs. Quirino, 27 held that the absence from residence to pursue
studies or practice a profession or registration as a voter other than in the place where one is elected
does not constitute loss of residence. 28 So settled is the concept (of domicile) in our election law that
in these and other election law cases, this Court has stated that the mere absence of an individual
from his permanent residence without the intention to abandon it does not result in a loss or change
of domicile.

The deliberations of the 1987 Constitution on the residence qualification for certain elective positions
have placed beyond doubt the principle that when the Constitution speaks of "residence" in election
law, it actually means only "domicile" to wit:

Mr. Nolledo: With respect to Section 5, I remember that in the 1971 Constitutional
Convention, there was an attempt to require residence in the place not less than one
year immediately preceding the day of the elections. So my question is: What is the
Committee's concept of residence of a candidate for the legislature? Is it actual
residence or is it the concept of domicile or constructive residence?

Mr. Davide: Madame President, insofar as the regular members of the National
Assembly are concerned, the proposed section merely provides, among others, "and
a resident thereof", that is, in the district for a period of not less than one year
preceding the day of the election. This was in effect lifted from the 1973 Constitution,
the interpretation given to it was domicile. 29

xxx xxx xxx

Mrs. Rosario Braid: The next question is on Section 7, page 2. I think Commissioner
Nolledo has raised the same point that "resident" has been interpreted at times as a
matter of intention rather than actual residence.

Mr. De los Reyes: Domicile.

Ms. Rosario Braid: Yes, So, would the gentleman consider at the proper time to go
back to actual residence rather than mere intention to reside?

Mr. De los Reyes: But we might encounter some difficulty especially considering that
a provision in the Constitution in the Article on Suffrage says that Filipinos living
abroad may vote as enacted by law. So, we have to stick to the original concept that
it should be by domicile and not physical residence. 30

In Co vs. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives, 31 this Court concluded that the framers
of the 1987 Constitution obviously adhered to the definition given to the term residence in election
law, regarding it as having the same meaning as domicile. 32

In the light of the principles just discussed, has petitioner Imelda Romualdez Marcos satisfied the
residency requirement mandated by Article VI, Sec. 6 of the 1987 Constitution? Of what significance
is the questioned entry in petitioner's Certificate of Candidacy stating her residence in the First
Legislative District of Leyte as seven (7) months?

It is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in
determining whether or not and individual has satisfied the constitution's residency qualification
requirement. The said statement becomes material only when there is or appears to be a deliberate
attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It
would be plainly ridiculous for a candidate to deliberately and knowingly make a statement in a
certificate of candidacy which would lead to his or her disqualification.

It stands to reason therefore, that petitioner merely committed an honest mistake in jotting the word
"seven" in the space provided for the residency qualification requirement. The circumstances leading
to her filing the questioned entry obviously resulted in the subsequent confusion which prompted
petitioner to write down the period of her actual stay in Tolosa, Leyte instead of her period of
residence in the First district, which was "since childhood" in the space provided. These
circumstances and events are amply detailed in the COMELEC's Second Division's questioned
resolution, albeit with a different interpretation. For instance, when herein petitioner announced that
she would be registering in Tacloban City to make her eligible to run in the First District, private
respondent Montejo opposed the same, claiming that petitioner was a resident of Tolosa, not
Tacloban City. Petitioner then registered in her place of actual residence in the First District, which is
Tolosa, Leyte, a fact which she subsequently noted down in her Certificate of Candidacy. A close
look at said certificate would reveal the possible source of the confusion: the entry for residence
(Item No. 7) is followed immediately by the entry for residence in the constituency where a candidate
seeks election thus:

7. RESIDENCE (complete Address): Brgy. Olot, Tolosa, Leyte

POST OFFICE ADDRESS FOR ELECTION PURPOSES: Brgy. Olot, Tolosa, Leyte

8. RESIDENCE IN THE CONSTITUENCY WHERE I SEEK TO


BE ELECTED IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE ELECTION:_________ Years
and Seven Months.

Having been forced by private respondent to register in her place of actual residence in Leyte
instead of petitioner's claimed domicile, it appears that petitioner had jotted down her period of stay
in her legal residence or domicile. The juxtaposition of entries in Item 7 and Item 8 — the first
requiring actual residence and the second requiring domicile — coupled with the circumstances
surrounding petitioner's registration as a voter in Tolosa obviously led to her writing down an
unintended entry for which she could be disqualified. This honest mistake should not, however, be
allowed to negate the fact of residence in the First District if such fact were established by means
more convincing than a mere entry on a piece of paper.

We now proceed to the matter of petitioner's domicile.

In support of its asseveration that petitioner's domicile could not possibly be in the First District of
Leyte, the Second Division of the COMELEC, in its assailed Resolution of April 24,1995 maintains
that "except for the time when (petitioner) studied and worked for some years after graduation in
Tacloban City, she continuously lived in Manila." The Resolution additionally cites certain facts as
indicative of the fact that petitioner's domicile ought to be any place where she lived in the last few
decades except Tacloban, Leyte. First, according to the Resolution, petitioner, in 1959, resided in
San Juan, Metro Manila where she was also registered voter. Then, in 1965, following the election of
her husband to the Philippine presidency, she lived in San Miguel, Manila where she as a voter. In
1978 and thereafter, she served as a member of the Batasang Pambansa and Governor of Metro
Manila. "She could not, have served these positions if she had not been a resident of Metro Manila,"
the COMELEC stressed. Here is where the confusion lies.

We have stated, many times in the past, that an individual does not lose his domicile even if he has
lived and maintained residences in different places. Residence, it bears repeating, implies a factual
relationship to a given place for various purposes. The absence from legal residence or domicile to
pursue a profession, to study or to do other things of a temporary or semi-permanent nature does
not constitute loss of residence. Thus, the assertion by the COMELEC that "she could not have been
a resident of Tacloban City since childhood up to the time she filed her certificate of candidacy
because she became a resident of many places" flies in the face of settled jurisprudence in which
this Court carefully made distinctions between (actual) residence and domicile for election law
purposes. In Larena vs. Teves, 33 supra, we stressed:

[T]his court is of the opinion and so holds that a person who has his own house
wherein he lives with his family in a municipality without having ever had the intention
of abandoning it, and without having lived either alone or with his family in another
municipality, has his residence in the former municipality, notwithstanding his having
registered as an elector in the other municipality in question and having been a
candidate for various insular and provincial positions, stating every time that he is a
resident of the latter municipality.

More significantly, in Faypon vs. Quirino, 34 We explained that:

A citizen may leave the place of his birth to look for "greener pastures," as the saying
goes, to improve his lot, and that, of course includes study in other places, practice of
his avocation, or engaging in business. When an election is to be held, the citizen
who left his birthplace to improve his lot may desire to return to his native town to
cast his ballot but for professional or business reasons, or for any other reason, he
may not absent himself from his professional or business activities; so there he
registers himself as voter as he has the qualifications to be one and is not willing to
give up or lose the opportunity to choose the officials who are to run the government
especially in national elections. Despite such registration, the animus revertendi to
his home, to his domicile or residence of origin has not forsaken him. This may be
the explanation why the registration of a voter in a place other than his residence of
origin has not been deemed sufficient to constitute abandonment or loss of such
residence. It finds justification in the natural desire and longing of every person to
return to his place of birth. This strong feeling of attachment to the place of one's
birth must be overcome by positive proof of abandonment for another.

From the foregoing, it can be concluded that in its above-cited statements supporting its proposition
that petitioner was ineligible to run for the position of Representative of the First District of Leyte, the
COMELEC was obviously referring to petitioner's various places of (actual) residence, not her
domicile. In doing so, it not only ignored settled jurisprudence on residence in election law and the
deliberations of the constitutional commission but also the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code
(B.P. 881). 35

What is undeniable, however, are the following set of facts which establish the fact of petitioner's
domicile, which we lift verbatim from the COMELEC's Second Division's assailed Resolution: 36

In or about 1938 when respondent was a little over 8 years old, she established her
domicile in Tacloban, Leyte (Tacloban City). She studied in the Holy Infant Academy
in Tacloban from 1938 to 1949 when she graduated from high school. She pursued
her college studies in St. Paul's College, now Divine Word University in Tacloban,
where she earned her degree in Education. Thereafter, she taught in the Leyte
Chinese School, still in Tacloban City. In 1952 she went to Manila to work with her
cousin, the late speaker Daniel Z. Romualdez in his office in the House of
Representatives. In 1954, she married ex-President Ferdinand E. Marcos when he
was still a congressman of Ilocos Norte and registered there as a voter. When her
husband was elected Senator of the Republic in 1959, she and her husband lived
together in San Juan, Rizal where she registered as a voter. In 1965, when her
husband was elected President of the Republic of the Philippines, she lived with him
in Malacanang Palace and registered as a voter in San Miguel, Manila.

[I]n February 1986 (she claimed that) she and her family were abducted and
kidnapped to Honolulu, Hawaii. In November 1991, she came home to Manila. In
1992, respondent ran for election as President of the Philippines and filed her
Certificate of Candidacy wherein she indicated that she is a resident and registered
voter of San Juan, Metro Manila.

Applying the principles discussed to the facts found by COMELEC, what is inescapable is that
petitioner held various residences for different purposes during the last four decades. None of these
purposes unequivocally point to an intention to abandon her domicile of origin in Tacloban, Leyte.
Moreover, while petitioner was born in Manila, as a minor she naturally followed the domicile of her
parents. She grew up in Tacloban, reached her adulthood there and eventually established
residence in different parts of the country for various reasons. Even during her husband's
presidency, at the height of the Marcos Regime's powers, petitioner kept her close ties to her
domicile of origin by establishing residences in Tacloban, celebrating her birthdays and other
important personal milestones in her home province, instituting well-publicized projects for the
benefit of her province and hometown, and establishing a political power base where her siblings
and close relatives held positions of power either through the ballot or by appointment, always with
either her influence or consent. These well-publicized ties to her domicile of origin are part of the
history and lore of the quarter century of Marcos power in our country. Either they were entirely
ignored in the COMELEC'S Resolutions, or the majority of the COMELEC did not know what the rest
of the country always knew: the fact of petitioner's domicile in Tacloban, Leyte.

Private respondent in his Comment, contends that Tacloban was not petitioner's domicile of origin
because she did not live there until she was eight years old. He avers that after leaving the place in
1952, she "abandoned her residency (sic) therein for many years and . . . (could not) re-establish her
domicile in said place by merely expressing her intention to live there again." We do not agree.
First, minor follows the domicile of his parents. As domicile, once acquired is retained until a new
one is gained, it follows that in spite of the fact of petitioner's being born in Manila, Tacloban, Leyte
was her domicile of origin by operation of law. This domicile was not established only when her
father brought his family back to Leyte contrary to private respondent's averments.

Second, domicile of origin is not easily lost. To successfully effect a change of domicile, one must
demonstrate: 37

1. An actual removal or an actual change of domicile;

2. A bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing
a new one; and

3. Acts which correspond with the purpose.

In the absence of clear and positive proof based on these criteria, the residence of origin should be
deemed to continue. Only with evidence showing concurrence of all three requirements can the
presumption of continuity or residence be rebutted, for a change of residence requires an actual and
deliberate abandonment, and one cannot have two legal residences at the same time. 38 In the case
at bench, the evidence adduced by private respondent plainly lacks the degree of persuasiveness
required to convince this court that an abandonment of domicile of origin in favor of a domicile of
choice indeed occurred. To effect an abandonment requires the voluntary act of relinquishing
petitioner's former domicile with an intent to supplant the former domicile with one of her own
choosing (domicilium voluntarium).

In this connection, it cannot be correctly argued that petitioner lost her domicile of origin by operation
of law as a result of her marriage to the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1952. For there is a
clearly established distinction between the Civil Code concepts of "domicile" and "residence." 39 The
presumption that the wife automatically gains the husband's domicile by operation of law upon
marriage cannot be inferred from the use of the term "residence" in Article 110 of the Civil Code
because the Civil Code is one area where the two concepts are well delineated. Dr. Arturo Tolentino,
writing on this specific area explains:

In the Civil Code, there is an obvious difference between domicile and residence.
Both terms imply relations between a person and a place; but in residence, the
relation is one of fact while in domicile it is legal or juridical, independent of the
necessity of physical presence. 40

Article 110 of the Civil Code provides:

Art. 110. — The husband shall fix the residence of the family. But the court may
exempt the wife from living with the husband if he should live abroad unless in the
service of the Republic.

A survey of jurisprudence relating to Article 110 or to the concepts of domicile or residence as they
affect the female spouse upon marriage yields nothing which would suggest that the female spouse
automatically loses her domicile of origin in favor of the husband's choice of residence upon
marriage.

Article 110 is a virtual restatement of Article 58 of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889 which states:

La mujer esta obligada a seguir a su marido donde quiera que fije su residencia. Los
Tribunales, sin embargo, podran con justa causa eximirla de esta obligacion cuando
el marido transende su residencia a ultramar o' a pais extranjero.

Note the use of the phrase "donde quiera su fije de residencia" in the aforequoted article, which
means wherever (the husband) wishes to establish residence. This part of the article clearly
contemplates only actual residence because it refers to a positive act of fixing a family home or
residence. Moreover, this interpretation is further strengthened by the phrase "cuando el marido
translade su residencia" in the same provision which means, "when the husband shall transfer his
residence," referring to another positive act of relocating the family to another home or place of
actual residence. The article obviously cannot be understood to refer to domicile which is a fixed,
fairly-permanent concept when it plainly connotes the possibility of transferring from one place to
another not only once, but as often as the husband may deem fit to move his family, a circumstance
more consistent with the concept of actual residence.

The right of the husband to fix the actual residence is in harmony with the intention of the law to
strengthen and unify the family, recognizing the fact that the husband and the wife bring into the
marriage different domiciles (of origin). This difference could, for the sake of family unity, be
reconciled only by allowing the husband to fix a single place of actual residence.

Very significantly, Article 110 of the Civil Code is found under Title V under the heading: RIGHTS
AND OBLIGATIONS BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE. Immediately preceding Article 110 is Article
109 which obliges the husband and wife to live together, thus:

Art. 109. — The husband and wife are obligated to live together, observe mutual
respect and fidelity and render mutual help and support.

The duty to live together can only be fulfilled if the husband and wife are physically together. This
takes into account the situations where the couple has many residences (as in the case of the
petitioner). If the husband has to stay in or transfer to any one of their residences, the wife should
necessarily be with him in order that they may "live together." Hence, it is illogical to conclude that
Art. 110 refers to "domicile" and not to "residence." Otherwise, we shall be faced with a situation
where the wife is left in the domicile while the husband, for professional or other reasons, stays in
one of their (various) residences. As Dr. Tolentino further explains:

Residence and Domicile — Whether the word "residence" as used with reference to
particular matters is synonymous with "domicile" is a question of some difficulty, and
the ultimate decision must be made from a consideration of the purpose and intent
with which the word is used. Sometimes they are used synonymously, at other times
they are distinguished from one another.

xxx xxx xxx

Residence in the civil law is a material fact, referring to the physical presence of a
person in a place. A person can have two or more residences, such as a country
residence and a city residence. Residence is acquired by living in place; on the other
hand, domicile can exist without actually living in the place. The important thing for
domicile is that, once residence has been established in one place, there be an
intention to stay there permanently, even if residence is also established in some
other
place. 41

In fact, even the matter of a common residence between the husband and the wife during the
marriage is not an iron-clad principle; In cases applying the Civil Code on the question of a common
matrimonial residence, our jurisprudence has recognized certain situations 42 where the spouses
could not be compelled to live with each other such that the wife is either allowed to maintain a
residence different from that of her husband or, for obviously practical reasons, revert to her original
domicile (apart from being allowed to opt for a new one). In De la Vina vs.Villareal 43 this Court held
that "[a] married woman may acquire a residence or domicile separate from that of her husband
during the existence of the marriage where the husband has given cause for divorce." 44 Note that the
Court allowed the wife either to obtain new residence or to choose a new domicile in such an event.
In instances where the wife actually opts, .under the Civil Code, to live separately from her husband
either by taking new residence or reverting to her domicile of origin, the Court has held that the wife
could not be compelled to live with her husband on pain of contempt. In Arroyo vs. Vasques de
Arroyo 45 the Court held that:

Upon examination of the authorities, we are convinced that it is not within the
province of the courts of this country to attempt to compel one of the spouses to
cohabit with, and render conjugal rights to, the other. Of course where the property
rights of one of the pair are invaded, an action for restitution of such rights can be
maintained. But we are disinclined to sanction the doctrine that an order, enforcible
(sic) by process of contempt, may be entered to compel the restitution of the purely
personal right of consortium. At best such an order can be effective for no other
purpose than to compel the spouses to live under the same roof; and he experience
of those countries where the courts of justice have assumed to compel the
cohabitation of married people shows that the policy of the practice is extremely
questionable. Thus in England, formerly the Ecclesiastical Court entertained suits for
the restitution of conjugal rights at the instance of either husband or wife; and if the
facts were found to warrant it, that court would make a mandatory decree,
enforceable by process of contempt in case of disobedience, requiring the delinquent
party to live with the other and render conjugal rights. Yet this practice was
sometimes criticized even by the judges who felt bound to enforce such orders, and
in Weldon v. Weldon (9 P.D. 52), decided in 1883, Sir James Hannen, President in
the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice, expressed
his regret that the English law on the subject was not the same as that which
prevailed in Scotland, where a decree of adherence, equivalent to the decree for the
restitution of conjugal rights in England, could be obtained by the injured spouse, but
could not be enforced by imprisonment. Accordingly, in obedience to the growing
sentiment against the practice, the Matrimonial Causes Act (1884) abolished the
remedy of imprisonment; though a decree for the restitution of conjugal rights can still
be procured, and in case of disobedience may serve in appropriate cases as the
basis of an order for the periodical payment of a stipend in the character of alimony.

In the voluminous jurisprudence of the United States, only one court, so far as we
can discover, has ever attempted to make a preemptory order requiring one of the
spouses to live with the other; and that was in a case where a wife was ordered to
follow and live with her husband, who had changed his domicile to the City of New
Orleans. The decision referred to (Bahn v. Darby, 36 La. Ann., 70) was based on a
provision of the Civil Code of Louisiana similar to article 56 of the Spanish Civil Code.
It was decided many years ago, and the doctrine evidently has not been fruitful even
in the State of Louisiana. In other states of the American Union the idea of enforcing
cohabitation by process of contempt is rejected. (21 Cyc., 1148).

In a decision of January 2, 1909, the Supreme Court of Spain appears to have


affirmed an order of the Audiencia Territorial de Valladolid requiring a wife to return
to the marital domicile, and in the alternative, upon her failure to do so, to make a
particular disposition of certain money and effects then in her possession and to
deliver to her husband, as administrator of the ganancial property, all income, rents,
and interest which might accrue to her from the property which she had brought to
the marriage. (113 Jur. Civ., pp. 1, 11) But it does not appear that this order for the
return of the wife to the marital domicile was sanctioned by any other penalty than
the consequences that would be visited upon her in respect to the use and control of
her property; and it does not appear that her disobedience to that order would
necessarily have been followed by imprisonment for contempt.

Parenthetically when Petitioner was married to then Congressman Marcos, in 1954, petitioner was
obliged — by virtue of Article 110 of the Civil Code — to follow her husband's actual place of
residence fixed by him. The problem here is that at that time, Mr. Marcos had several places of
residence, among which were San Juan, Rizal and Batac, Ilocos Norte. There is no showing which
of these places Mr. Marcos did fix as his family's residence. But assuming that Mr. Marcos had fixed
any of these places as the conjugal residence, what petitioner gained upon marriage was actual
residence. She did not lose her domicile of origin.

On the other hand, the common law concept of "matrimonial domicile" appears to have been
incorporated, as a result of our jurisprudential experiences after the drafting of the Civil Code of
1950, into the New Family Code. To underscore the difference between the intentions of the Civil
Code and the Family Code drafters, the term residence has been supplanted by the term domicile in
an entirely new provision (Art. 69) distinctly different in meaning and spirit from that found in Article
110. The provision recognizes revolutionary changes in the concept of women's rights in the
intervening years by making the choice of domicile a product of mutual agreement between the
spouses. 46

Without as much belaboring the point, the term residence may mean one thing in civil law (or under
the Civil Code) and quite another thing in political law. What stands clear is that insofar as the Civil
Code is concerned-affecting the rights and obligations of husband and wife — the term residence
should only be interpreted to mean "actual residence." The inescapable conclusion derived from this
unambiguous civil law delineation therefore, is that when petitioner married the former President in
1954, she kept her domicile of origin and merely gained a new home, not a domicilium necessarium.
Even assuming for the sake of argument that petitioner gained a new "domicile" after her marriage
and only acquired a right to choose a new one after her husband died, petitioner's acts following her
return to the country clearly indicate that she not only impliedly but expressly chose her domicile of
origin (assuming this was lost by operation of law) as her domicile. This "choice" was unequivocally
expressed in her letters to the Chairman of the PCGG when petitioner sought the PCGG's
permission to "rehabilitate (our) ancestral house in Tacloban and Farm in Olot, Leyte. . . to make
them livable for the Marcos family to have a home in our homeland." 47 Furthermore, petitioner
obtained her residence certificate in 1992 in Tacloban, Leyte, while living in her brother's house, an
act which supports the domiciliary intention clearly manifested in her letters to the PCGG Chairman.
She could not have gone straight to her home in San Juan, as it was in a state of disrepair, having
been previously looted by vandals. Her "homes" and "residences" following her arrival in various
parts of Metro Manila merely qualified as temporary or "actual residences," not domicile. Moreover,
and proceeding from our discussion pointing out specific situations where the female spouse either
reverts to her domicile of origin or chooses a new one during the subsistence of the marriage, it
would be highly illogical for us to assume that she cannot regain her original domicile upon the death
of her husband absent a positive act of selecting a new one where situations exist within the
subsistence of the marriage itself where the wife gains a domicile different from her husband.

In the light of all the principles relating to residence and domicile enunciated by this court up to this
point, we are persuaded that the facts established by the parties weigh heavily in favor of a
conclusion supporting petitioner's claim of legal residence or domicile in the First District of Leyte.

II. The jurisdictional issue

Petitioner alleges that the jurisdiction of the COMELEC had already lapsed considering that the
assailed resolutions were rendered on April 24, 1995, fourteen (14) days before the election in
violation of Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. 48 Moreover, petitioner contends that it is the
House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and not the COMELEC which has jurisdiction over the
election of members of the House of Representatives in accordance with Article VI Sec. 17 of the
Constitution. This is untenable.

It is a settled doctrine that a statute requiring rendition of judgment within a specified time is
generally construed to be merely directory, 49 "so that non-compliance with them does not invalidate
the judgment on the theory that if the statute had intended such result it would have clearly indicated
it." 50 The difference between a mandatory and a directory provision is often made on grounds of
necessity. Adopting the same view held by several American authorities, this court in Marcelino
vs. Cruz held that: 51

The difference between a mandatory and directory provision is often determined on


grounds of expediency, the reason being that less injury results to the general public
by disregarding than enforcing the letter of the law.

In Trapp v. Mc Cormick, a case calling for the interpretation of a statute containing a


limitation of thirty (30) days within which a decree may be entered without the
consent of counsel, it was held that "the statutory provisions which may be thus
departed from with impunity, without affecting the validity of statutory proceedings,
are usually those which relate to the mode or time of doing that which is essential to
effect the aim and purpose of the Legislature or some incident of the essential act."
Thus, in said case, the statute under examination was construed merely to be
directory.

The mischief in petitioner's contending that the COMELEC should have abstained from rendering a
decision after the period stated in the Omnibus Election Code because it lacked jurisdiction, lies in
the fact that our courts and other quasi-judicial bodies would then refuse to render judgments merely
on the ground of having failed to reach a decision within a given or prescribed period.

In any event, with the enactment of Sections 6 and 7 of R.A. 6646 in relation to Section 78 of B.P.
881, 52 it is evident that the respondent Commission does not lose jurisdiction to hear and decide a
pending disqualification case under Section 78 of B.P. 881 even after the elections.

As to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal's supposed assumption of jurisdiction over the
issue of petitioner's qualifications after the May 8, 1995 elections, suffice it to say that HRET's
jurisdiction as the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of
members of Congress begins only after a candidate has become a member of the House of
Representatives. 53 Petitioner not being a member of the House of Representatives, it is obvious that
the HRET at this point has no jurisdiction over the question.

It would be an abdication of many of the ideals enshrined in the 1987 Constitution for us to either to
ignore or deliberately make distinctions in law solely on the basis of the personality of a petitioner in
a case. Obviously a distinction was made on such a ground here. Surely, many established
principles of law, even of election laws were flouted for the sake perpetuating power during the pre-
EDSA regime. We renege on these sacred ideals, including the meaning and spirit of EDSA
ourselves bending established principles of principles of law to deny an individual what he or she
justly deserves in law. Moreover, in doing so, we condemn ourselves to repeat the mistakes of the
past.

WHEREFORE, having determined that petitioner possesses the necessary residence qualifications
to run for a seat in the House of Representatives in the First District of Leyte, the COMELEC's
questioned Resolutions dated April 24, May 7, May 11, and May 25, 1995 are hereby SET ASIDE.
Respondent COMELEC is hereby directed to order the Provincial Board of Canvassers to proclaim
petitioner as the duly elected Representative of the First District of Leyte.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 90580 April 8, 1991

RUBEN SAW, DIONISIO SAW, LINA S. CHUA, LUCILA S. RUSTE AND EVELYN
SAW, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. BERNARDO P. PARDO, Presiding Judge of Branch 43,
(Regional Trial Court of Manila), FREEMAN MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION, EQUITABLE BANKING CORPORATION, FREEMAN INCORPORATED, SAW
CHIAO LIAN, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF CALOOCAN CITY, and DEPUTY SHERIFF
ROSALIO G. SIGUA, respondents.

Benito O. Ching, Jr. for petitioners.


William R. Vetor for Equitable Banking Corp.
Pineda, Uy & Janolo for Freeman, Inc. and Saw Chiao.

CRUZ, J.:

A collection suit with preliminary attachment was filed by Equitable Banking Corporation against
Freeman, Inc. and Saw Chiao Lian, its President and General Manager. The petitioners moved to
intervene, alleging that (1) the loan transactions between Saw Chiao Lian and Equitable Banking
Corp. were not approved by the stockholders representing at least 2/3 of corporate capital; (2) Saw
Chiao Lian had no authority to contract such loans; and (3) there was collusion between the officials
of Freeman, Inc. and Equitable Banking Corp. in securing the loans. The motion to intervene was
denied, and the petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, Equitable and Saw Chiao Lian entered into a compromise agreement which they
submitted to and was approved by the lower court. But because it was not complied with, Equitable
secured a writ of execution, and two lots owned by Freeman, Inc. were levied upon and sold at
public auction to Freeman Management and Development Corp.

The Court of Appeals1 sustained the denial of the petitioners' motion for intervention, holding that
"the compromise agreement between Freeman, Inc., through its President, and Equitable Banking
Corp. will not necessarily prejudice petitioners whose rights to corporate assets are at most inchoate,
prior to the dissolution of Freeman, Inc. . . . And intervention under Sec. 2, Rule 12 of the Revised
Rules of Court is proper only when one's right is actual, material, direct and immediate and not
simply contingent or expectant."

It also ruled against the petitioners' argument that because they had already filed a notice of appeal,
the trial judge had lost jurisdiction over the case and could no longer issue the writ of execution.

The petitioners are now before this Court, contending that:

1. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in holding that the petitioners cannot intervene in
Civil Case No. 88-44404 because their rights as stockholders of Freeman are merely
inchoate and not actual, material, direct and immediate prior to the dissolution of the
corporation;

2. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in holding that the appeal of the petitioners in said
Civil Case No. 88-44404 was confined only to the order denying their motion to intervene
and did not divest the trial court of its jurisdiction over the whole case.

The petitioners base their right to intervene for the protection of their interests as stockholders
on Everett v. Asia Banking Corp.2 where it was held:

The well-known rule that shareholders cannot ordinarily sue in equity to redress wrongs done
to the corporation, but that the action must be brought by the Board of Directors, . . . has its
exceptions. (If the corporation [were] under the complete control of the principal defendants, .
. . it is obvious that a demand upon the Board of Directors to institute action and prosecute
the same effectively would have been useless, and the law does not require litigants to
perform useless acts.
Equitable demurs, contending that the collection suit against Freeman, Inc, and Saw Chiao Lian is
essentially in personam and, as an action against defendants in their personal capacities, will not
prejudice the petitioners as stockholders of the corporation. The Everett case is not applicable
because it involved an action filed by the minority stockholders where the board of directors refused
to bring an action in behalf of the corporation. In the case at bar, it was Freeman, Inc. that was being
sued by the creditor bank.

Equitable also argues that the subject matter of the intervention falls properly within the original and
exclusive jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission under P.D. No. 902-A. In fact, at
the time the motion for intervention was filed, there was pending between Freeman, Inc. and the
petitioners SEC Case No. 03577 entitled "Dissolution, Accounting, Cancellation of Certificate of
Registration with Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction and Appointment of Receiver." It also
avers in its Comment that the intervention of the petitioners could have only caused delay and
prejudice to the principal parties.

On the second assignment of error, Equitable maintains that the petitioners' appeal could only apply
to the denial of their motion for intervention and not to the main case because their personality as
party litigants had not been recognized by the trial court.

After examining the issues and arguments of the parties, the Court finds that the respondent court
committed no reversible error in sustaining the denial by the trial court of the petitioners' motion for
intervention.

In the case of Magsaysay-Labrador v. Court of Appeals,3 we ruled as follows:

Viewed in the light of Section 2, Rule 12 of the Revised Rules of Court, this Court affirms the
respondent court's holding that petitioners herein have no legal interest in the subject matter
in litigation so as to entitle them to intervene in the proceedings below. In the case of Batama
Farmers' Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. v. Rosal, we held: "As clearly stated in
Section 2 of Rule 12 of the Rules of Court, to be permitted to intervene in a pending action,
the party must have a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the
parties or an interest against both, or he must be so situated as to be adversely affected by a
distribution or other disposition of the property in the custody of the court or an officer
thereof."

To allow intervention, [a] it must be shown that the movant has legal interest in the matter in
litigation, or otherwise qualified; and [b] consideration must be given as to whether the
adjudication of the rights of the original parties may be delayed or prejudiced, or whether the
intervenor's rights may be protected in a separate proceeding or not. Both requirements
must concur as the first is not more important than the second.

The interest which entitles a person to intervene in a suit between other parties must be in
the matter in litigation and of such direct and immediate character that the intervenor will
either gain or lose by the direct legal operation and effect of the judgment. Otherwise, if
persons not parties of the action could be allowed to intervene, proceedings will become
unnecessarily complicated, expensive and interminable. And this is not the policy of the law.

The words "an interest in the subject" mean a direct interest in the cause of action as
pleaded, and which would put the intervenor in a legal position to litigate a fact alleged in the
complaint, without the establishment of which plaintiff could not recover.

Here, the interest, if it exists at all, of petitioners-movants is indirect, contingent, remote,


conjectural, consequential and collateral. At the very least, their interest is purely inchoate, or
in sheer expectancy of a right in the management of the corporation and to share in the
profits thereof and in the properties and assets thereof on dissolution, after payment of the
corporate debts and obligations.

While a share of stock represents a proportionate or aliquot interest in the property of the
corporation, it does not vest the owner thereof with any legal right or title to any of the
property, his interest in the corporate property being equitable or beneficial in nature.
Shareholders are in no legal sense the owners of corporate property, which is owned by the
corporation as a distinct legal person.
On the second assignment of error, the respondent court correctly noted that the notice of appeal
was filed by the petitioners on October 24, 1988, upon the denial of their motion to intervene, and
the writ of execution was issued by the lower court on January 30, 1989. The petitioners' appeal
could not have concerned the "whole" case (referring to the decision) because the petitioners "did
not appeal the decision as indeed they cannot because they are not parties to the case despite their
being stockholders of respondent Freeman, Inc." They could only appeal the denial of their motion
for intervention as they were never recognized by the trial court as party litigants in the main case.

Intervention is "an act or proceeding by which a third person is permitted to become a party to an
action or proceeding between other persons, and which results merely in the addition of a new party
or parties to an original action, for the purpose of hearing and determining at the same time all
conflicting claims which may be made to the subject matter in litigation.4

It is not an independent proceeding, but an ancillary and supplemental one which, in the nature of
things, unless otherwise provided for by the statute or Rules of Court, must be in subordination to the
main proceeding.5 It may be laid down as a general rule that an intervenor is limited to the field of
litigation open to the original parties.6

In the case at bar, there is no more principal action to be resolved as a writ of execution had already
been issued by the lower court and the claim of Equitable had already been satisfied. The decision
of the lower court had already become final and in fact had already been enforced. There is
therefore no more principal proceeding in which the petitioners may intervene.

As we held in the case of Barangay Matictic v. Elbinias:7

An intervention has been regarded, as merely "collateral or accessory or ancillary to the


principal action and not an independent proceedings; and interlocutory proceeding
dependent on and subsidiary to, the case between the original parties." (Fransisco, Rules of
Court, Vol. 1, p. 721). With the final dismissal of the original action, the complaint in
intervention can no longer be acted upon. In the case of Clareza v. Resales, 2 SCRA 455,
457-458, it was stated that:

That right of the intervenor should merely be in aid of the right of the original party,
like the plaintiffs in this case. As this right of the plaintiffs had ceased to exist, there is
nothing to aid or fight for. So the right of intervention has ceased to exist.

Consequently, it will be illogical and of no useful purpose to grant or even consider further
herein petitioner's prayer for the issuance of a writ of mandamus to compel the lower court to
allow and admit the petitioner's complaint in intervention. The dismissal of the expropriation
case has no less the inherent effect of also dismissing the motion for intervention which is
but the unavoidable consequence.

The Court observes that even with the denial of the petitioners' motion to intervene, nothing is really
lost to them. The denial did not necessarily prejudice them as their rights are being litigated in the
1âw phi 1

case now before the Securities and Exchange Commission and may be fully asserted and protected
in that separate proceeding.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, with costs against the petitioners. It is so ordered.