You are on page 1of 124

CASE Syllabus Title Case Title G.R. No.

, SPECIFIC TOPIC Doctrine


NO Date
141 Administrative MARQUEZ vs. AM. No. Code of Conduct and Section 8 of RA 6713, requires all public officials and employees to
Law OVEJERA P-11-2903. Ethical Standards for accomplish and submit declarations under oath of their assets, liabilities,
Public Officials and net worth and financial and business interests including those of their
February
Employees/ SALN/ spouses and of unmarried children under 18 years of age living in their
5, 2014
Public Officers; households. In this relation, the same provision mandates full disclosure
Penalties; of the concerned public official’s (a) real property, its improvements,
acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value, (b)
personal property and acquisition cost, (c) all other assets such as
investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like, (d)
liabilities, and (e) all business interests and financial connections.

Verily, the requirement of SALN submission is aimed at curtailing and


minimizing the opportunities for official corruption, as well as at
maintaining a standard of honesty in the public service. With such
disclosure, the public would, to a reasonable extent, be able to monitor
the affluence of public officials, and, in such manner, provides a check
and balance mechanism to verify their undisclosed properties and/or
sources of income.

As for the appropriate penalty, Section 11 of RA 6713 states that “[a]ny


public official or employee, regardless of whether or not he holds office
or employment in a casual, temporary, holdover, permanent or regular
capacity, committing any violation of this Act shall be punished [with,
among others,] a fine not exceeding the equivalent of six (6) months’
salary x x x depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and
hearing by the appropriate body or agency.” Consistent with existing
jurisprudence, the Court finds that the penalty of a fine in the amount of
P5,000.00 is amply justified considering that Collado’s misstep in her
SALN for the years 2004 and 2005 appears to be her first offense, adding
too that same does not appear to have been attended by any bad faith or
fraudulent intent.

142 Agrarian QUINTOS vs. G. R. No. Tenancy Relationship/ Tenancy is a legal relationship established by the existence of particular
Reform/ DEPARTMENT 185838. Burden of facts as required by law. For a tenancy relationship to exist between the
Remedial Law OF AGRARIAN Proof/Special Civil parties, the following essential elements must be shown: (a) the parties
February
REFORM Actions/ Foreclosure are the landowner and the tenant; (b) the subject matter is agricultural
10, 2014.
ADJUDICATION of Mortgage land; (c) there is consent between the parties; (d) the purpose is
BOARD agricultural production; (e) there is personal cultivation by the tenant;
and (f) there is sharing of the harvests between the parties. All the above
elements must concur in order to create a tenancy relationship. Thus, the
absence of one does not make an occupant of a parcel of land, a
cultivator or a planter thereon, a de jure tenant entitled to security of
tenure under existing tenancy laws.

The burden of proof rests on the one claiming to be a tenant to prove his
affirmative allegation by substantial evidence. His failure to show in a
satisfactory manner the facts upon which he bases his claim would put
the opposite party under no obligation to prove his exception or defense.
The rule applies to civil and administrative cases.

It bears stressing that the right to hire a tenant is basically a personal


right of a landowner, except as may be provided by law. Hence, the
consent of the landowner should be secured prior to the installation of
tenants.

In the present case, the PARAD, the DARAB and the CA all held that a
tenancy relationship exists between GCFI and the 53 KAMIFCI members
who were allegedly installed as tenants by APT, the “legal possessor” of
the mango orchard at that time. Records are, however, bereft of any
showing that APT was authorized by the property’s landowner, GCFI, to
install tenants thereon. To be sure, APT only assumed the rights of the
original mortgagees in this case, i.e., PNB and DBP, which, however, have
yet to exercise their right to foreclose the mortgaged properties due to
the RTC’s order enjoining the same. It is settled that a mortgagee does
not become the owner of the mortgaged property until he has foreclosed
the mortgage and, thereafter, purchased the property at the foreclosure
sale. With the foreclosure proceedings having been enjoined, APT could
not have been regarded as the “landowner” of the subject property.
Thus, since the consent of the standing landowner, GCFI, had not been
secured by APT in this case, it had no authority to enter into any tenancy
agreement with the KAMIFCI members.

143 Criminal Law PEOPLE vs. G.R. No. Rape/Statutory Rape/ Statutory rape is committed by sexual intercourse with a woman below
GUILLERMO 207819. Child-Witnesses/Quali 12 years of age regardless of her consent, or the lack of it, to the sexual
March 12, fied Rape act. Proof of force, intimidation or consent is unnecessary as they are not
2014.* elements of statutory rape, considering that the absence of free consent
is conclusively presumed when the victim is below the age of 12. At that
age, the law presumes that the victim does not possess discernment and
is incapable of giving intelligent consent to the sexual act. Thus, to
convict an accused of the crime of statutory rape, the prosecution carries
the burden of proving: (a) the age of the complainant; (b) the identity of
the accused; and (c) the sexual intercourse between the accused and the
complainant.

Absent any evidence that the trial court’s assessment was tainted with
arbitrariness or oversight of a fact of consequence or influence —
especially so when affirmed by the CA — it is entitled to great weight, if
not conclusive and binding on the Court. Moreover, “[t]estimonies of
child-victims are normally given full weight and credit, since when a girl,
particularly if she is a minor, says that she has been raped, she says in
effect all that is necessary to show that rape has in fact been committed.
When the offended party is of tender age and immature, courts are
inclined to give credit to her account of what transpired, considering not
only her relative vulnerability but also the shame to which she would be
exposed if the matter to which she testified is not true. Youth and
immaturity are generally badges of truth and sincerity. A young girl’s
revelation that she had been raped, coupled with her voluntary
submission to medical examination and willingness to undergo public
trial where she could be compelled to give out the details of an assault
on her dignity, cannot be so easily dismissed as mere concoction.”
It is apt to discuss that Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8353 introduced various
qualifying circumstances that would increase the penalty for the crime of
rape from reclusion perpetua to death, e.g., when the offended party is a
minor under 18 years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant,
step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the
third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim
— a circumstance that was not present under the old rape provision, i.e.,

The Court likewise agrees that Cadano should suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua for each count of statutory rape. On this matter, it is
apt to discuss that R.A. 8353 introduced various qualifying circumstances
that would increase the penalty for the crime of rape from reclusion
perpetua to death, e.g., when the offended party is a minor under 18
years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent,
guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil
degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim — a
circumstance that was not present under the old rape provision, i.e.,
Article 335 of the RPC. Thus, the aforementioned circumstance could not
qualify the first two (2) rape incidents which occurred prior to the
enactment of R.A. 8353, but it could be properly appreciated in the third
one. Nevertheless, in light of the abolition of the death penalty pursuant
to R.A. 9346, the imposable penalty for the third rape incident is lowered
to reclusion perpetua, with the offender being rendered ineligible for
parole.
144 Remedial REPUBLIC vs. G.R. No. Civil Procedure/ An order denying a motion to dismiss is an interlocutory order which
Law/Constituti TRANSUNION 191590. Actions/ Dismissal of neither terminates nor finally disposes of a case as it leaves something to
onal Law CORPORATION April 21, Actions/ Interlocutory be done by the court before the case is finally decided on the merits.
2014 Orders/Exhaustion of Thus, as a general rule, the denial of a motion to dismiss cannot be
Administrative questioned in a special civil action for certiorari which is a remedy
Remedies designed to correct errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment.
However, when the denial of the motion to dismiss is tainted with grave
abuse of discretion, the grant of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari
Due Process/ may be justified. By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious
and whimsical exercise of judgment that is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power is
exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or
personal hostility, and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an
evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty
enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law.

The rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies provides that if a


remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by
giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide
on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction, then such remedy should
be exhausted first before the court’s judicial power can be sought.—To
elaborate, the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies provides
that if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted
to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to
decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction, then such remedy
should be exhausted first before the court’s judicial power can be sought.
The underlying principle of the rule rests on the presumption that the
administrative agency, if afforded a complete chance to pass upon the
matter will decide the same correctly.

The Court finds that there was no violation of Transunion’s right to


administrative due process since, as the Republic pointed out, not only
did it file an answer, but it also presented its evidence and formally
offered the same. It is well-established that the touchstone of due
process is the opportunity to be heard. This Transunion was
unquestionably afforded in this case, despite having been denied the
remedies of reconsideration and appeal which, however, remain
unavailable, either by statute or regulation, against the investigation
report and recommendation assailed herein. At any rate, lack of
administrative due process, on the assumption of its truth, is not a
ground for a motion to dismiss; hence, the RTC’s ruling was altogether
proper.

145 Administrative DULANG vs. A. M. No. Speedy Disposition of Prompt disposition of cases is attained basically through the efficiency
Law/ Remedial REGENCIA MTJ-14-18 Cases/Undue Delay in and dedication to duty of judges. If judges do not possess those traits,
Law 41. Rendering Decision delay in the disposition of cases is inevitable to the prejudice of the
litigants. Accordingly, judges should be imbued with a high sense of duty
June 2,
and responsibility in the discharge of their obligation to administer
2014.
Rules of Summary justice promptly. This is embodied in Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of
Procedure Judicial Conduct which states that “[a] judge shall dispose of the court’s
business promptly and decide cases within the required periods” and
echoed in Section 5, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the
Philippine Judiciary which provides that “[j]udges shall perform all judicial
duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly, and
with reasonable promptness.”

Remedial Law; Rules of Summary Procedure; Being an ejectment case, it


is governed by the Rules of Summary Procedure which clearly sets a
period of thirty (30) days from the submission of the last affidavit or
position paper within which a decision thereon must be issued.—Being
an ejectment case, it is governed by the Rules of Summary Procedure
which clearly sets a period of thirty (30) days from the submission of the
last affidavit or position paper within which a decision thereon must be
issued. Despite this, Judge Regencia rendered judgment only about two
(2) years and four (4) months later, or on February 18, 2011. While rules
prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done are
indispensable to prevent needless delays in the orderly and speedy
disposition of cases and, thus, should be regarded as mandatory, the
Court has nevertheless been mindful of the plight of judges and has been
understanding of circumstances that may hinder them from promptly
disposing of their businesses and, as such, has allowed extensions of time
due to justifiable reasons. However, Judge Regencia failed to proffer any
acceptable reason in delaying the disposition of the ejectment case, thus,
making her administratively liable for undue delay in rendering a
decision.

Undue delay in rendering a decision is classified as a less serious charge,


punishable either by: (a) suspension from office without salary and other
benefits for not less than one nor more than three months; or (b) a fine
of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00. In imposing the
proper sanction on Judge Regencia, the Court notes that aside from her
aforementioned misrepresentation, she was also previously found
administratively liable for gross inefficiency where she was ordered to
pay a fine of P5,000.00 and warned that a repetition of the same or
similar offense will be dealt with more severely. Moreover, as correctly
observed by Justice Arturo D. Brion during the deliberations of this case,
her length of service of more than 17 years should be taken against her
instead of being considered a mitigating factor as she should have
already known that Civil Case No. 212-B, being an ejectment case, is a
summary proceeding and, thus, ought to be expeditiously resolved.
Hence, a fine of P40,000.00, instead of suspension, should be the
appropriate penalty for Judge Regencia’s misconduct.

146 Administrative OFFICE OF THE A.M. No. Court Personnel/ Notably, the Court also addressed Ampong’s misgivings on the issue of
Law/ Remedial COURT P-13-3132. Dismissal from jurisdiction in the same case, viz.: It is true that the CSC has
Law ADMINISTRAT June 4, Service administrative jurisdiction over the civil service. As defined under the
OR vs. 2014 Constitution and the Administrative Code, the civil service embraces
AMPONG every branch, agency, subdivision, and instrumentality of the
Immutability of government, and government-owned or controlled corporations.
Judgments/ Pursuant to its administrative authority, the CSC is granted the power to
“control, supervise, and coordinate the Civil Service examinations.” This
authority grants to the CSC the right to take cognizance of any
irregularity or anomaly connected with the examinations. However, the
Constitution provides that the Supreme Court is given exclusive
administrative supervision over all courts and judicial personnel. By
virtue of this power, it is only the Supreme Court that can oversee the
judges’ and court personnel’s compliance with all laws, rules and
regulations. It may take the proper administrative action against them if
they commit any violation. No other branch of government may intrude
into this power, without running afoul of the doctrine of separation of
powers. Thus, this Court ruled that the Ombudsman cannot justify its
investigation of a judge on the powers granted to it by the Constitution.
It violates the specific mandate of the Constitution granting to the
Supreme Court supervisory powers over all courts and their personnel; it
undermines the independence of the judiciary. x x x That she committed
the dishonest act before she joined the RTC does not take her case out of
the administrative reach of the Supreme Court. The bottom line is
administrative jurisdiction over a court employee belongs to the
Supreme Court, regardless of whether the offense was committed before
or after employment in the judiciary.

Pursuant to the doctrine of immutability of judgment, which states that


“a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and
unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the
modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law,”
Ampong could no longer seek the August 26, 2008 Decision’s
modification and reversal. Consequently, the penalty of dismissal from
service on account of Ampong’s Dishonesty should be enforced in its full
course. In line with Section 58(a) of the Uniform Rules on Administrative
Cases in the Civil Service (URACCS), the penalty of dismissal carries with it
the following administrative disabilities: (a) cancellation of civil service
eligibility; (b) forfeiture of retirement benefits; and (c) perpetual
disqualification from re-employment in any government agency or
instrumentality, including any government-owned and controlled
corporation or government financial institution. Ampong should be made
to similarly suffer the same.

Despite Ampong’s dismissal on the ground of dishonesty, she should


nevertheless be entitled to receive her accrued leave credits, if any,
pursuant to the aforementioned provision of the URACCS, which does
not include the forfeiture of the same. It is a standing rule that despite
their dismissal from the service, government employees are entitled to
the leave credits that they have earned during the period of their
employment. As a matter of fairness and law, they may not be deprived
of such remuneration, which they have earned prior to their dismissal.

It must be stressed that every employee of the Judiciary should be an


example of integrity, uprightness, and honesty. Like any public servant,
she must exhibit the highest sense of honesty and integrity not only in
the performance of her official duties but also in her personal and private
dealings with other people, to preserve the court’s good name and
standing. The image of a court of justice is mirrored in the conduct,
official and otherwise, of the personnel who work thereat, from the
judge to the lowest of its personnel. Court personnel have been enjoined
to adhere to the exacting standards of morality and decency in their
professional and private conduct in order to preserve the good name and
integrity of the courts of justice. Here, Ampong failed to meet these
stringent standards set for a judicial employee and does not, therefore,
deserve to remain with the Judiciary.
147 Remedial Law REPUBLIC OF G.R. No. Moot and Academic A case or issue is considered moot and academic when it ceases to
THE PHILIPPINE 192302. present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that
vs. MANALO June 4, an adjudication of the case or a declaration on the issue would be of no
2014 practical value or use. In such instance, there is no actual substantial
relief which a petitioner would be entitled to, and which would be
negated by the dismissal of the petition. Courts generally decline
jurisdiction over such case or dismiss it on the ground of mootness, as a
judgment in a case which presents a moot question can no longer be
enforced.

148 Criminal Law PEOPLE vs. G.R. No. Rape/ Acts of For the charge of rape to prosper, the prosecution must be able to prove
DELA CRUZ 192820. Lasciviousness/ that (1) the offender had carnal knowledge of a woman, and (2) he
June 4, Penalties accomplished the act through force, threat or intimidation, or when she
Remedial Law; 2014.* was deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or when she was
under 12 years of age or was demented.
Evidence/
Witnesses/Motives/
Testimonial Evidence Any person who shall commit any act of lasciviousness upon other
persons of either sex, under any of the circumstances mentioned in the
preceding article, shall be punished by prisión correccional. The elements
of this crime are: (1) the offender commits any act of lasciviousness or
lewdness; (2) it is done under any of the following circumstances: (a) by
using force or intimidation, or (b) when the offended party is deprived of
reason or otherwise unconscious, or (c) when the offended party is under
12 years of age; and (3) the offended party is another person of either
sex.

As held in Dizon v. People, 600 SCRA 525 (2009): Jurisprudence instructs


that when the credibility of a witness is of primordial consideration, as in
this case, the findings of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies
of the witnesses and its assessment of the probative weight thereof, as
well as its conclusions anchored on said findings are accorded respect if
not conclusive effect. This is because the trial court has had the unique
opportunity to observe the demeanor of a witness and was in the best
position to discern whether they were telling the truth. When the trial
court’s findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, as in the
present case, said findings are generally binding upon this Court.

The accused-appellant’s bare defense of denial deserves scant


consideration. The same cannot overcome the positive identification and
affirmative testimonies of AAA and BBB. Anent the accused-appellant’s
argument that the alleged ill motives of AAA and BBB destroyed their
credibility, the same is utterly unconvincing. The Court of Appeals was
correct in holding that ill motives become inconsequential if there is an
affirmative and credible declaration from the rape victim, which clearly
establishes the liability of the accused. In this case, AAA never wavered in
her identification of the accused-appellant as her abuser. We had
occasion to rule in People v. Balunsat, 626 SCRA 77 (2010), that it is
unlikely for a young girl and her family to impute the crime of rape to
their own blood relative and face social humiliation if not to vindicate the
victim’s honor. Indeed, no member of a rape victim’s family would dare
encourage the victim to publicly expose the dishonor tainting the family
unless the crime was in fact committed, more so in this case where the
offender and the victim are father and daughter.

Verily, we also held in Dizon v. People, 600 SCRA 525 (2009), that: In rape
cases, the testimony of complainant must be considered and calibrated
in its entirety, and not in its truncated portion or isolated passages
thereof. The true meaning of answers to questions propounded to a
witness is to be ascertained with due consideration of all the questions
and answers given thereto. The whole impression or effect of what has
been said or done must be considered, and not individual words or
phrases alone. Facts imperfectly stated in answer to a question may be
supplied or clarified by one’s answer to other questions.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 266-B of the Revised Penal


Code, the Court of Appeals correctly held that the appropriate penalty
that should be imposed upon the accused-appellant in said case is
reclusion perpetua. This is in accordance with Section 2 of Republic Act
No. 9346, which imposes the penalty of reclusion perpetua in lieu of
death, when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the
penalties of the Revised Penal Code.

Same; Acts of Lasciviousness; Penalties; The crime of acts of


lasciviousness is punishable with prisión correccional.—In Criminal Case
No. 3254-M-2004, the crime of acts of lasciviousness is punishable with
prisión correccional. In view of the alternative circumstance of
relationship attendant in this case, the penalty prescribed shall be
imposed in its maximum period, the range of which is four (4) years, two
(2) months and one (1) day to six (6) years. Applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the said penalty shall constitute the maximum term while
the minimum term shall be within the range of the penalty next lower in
degree to that of the penalty provided by law, which is arresto mayor or
one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months. Thus, the RTC and the
Court of Appeals correctly imposed upon the accused-appellant the
penalty of imprisonment ranging from six (6) months of arresto mayor, as
minimum, to six (6) years of prisión correccional, as maximum.

149 Remedial Law PIEDAD vs. G.R. No. Special Civil Actions/ Unlawful detainer is an action to recover possession of real property
GURIEZA 207525. Unlawful Detainer / from one who unlawfully withholds possession thereof after the
June 18, Actions expiration or termination of his right to hold possession under any
2014 contract, express or implied. The possession of the defendant in unlawful
detainer is originally legal but became illegal due to the expiration or
termination of the right to possess. The only issue to be resolved in an
unlawful detainer case is the physical or material possession of the
property involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of the
parties. An ejectment case, based on the allegation of possession by
tolerance, falls under the category of unlawful detainer. Where the
plaintiff allows the defendant to use his/her property by tolerance
without any contract, the defendant is necessarily bound by an implied
promise that he/she will vacate on demand, failing which, an action for
unlawful detainer will lie.
Under Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, the complaint must be
filed “within one (1) year after such unlawful deprivation or withholding
of possession” and must allege that: (a) the defendant originally had
lawful possession of the property, either by virtue of a contract or by
tolerance of the plaintiff; (b) eventually, the defendant’s possession of
the property became illegal or unlawful upon notice by the plaintiff to
defendant of the expiration or the termination of the defendant’s right of
possession; (c) thereafter, the defendant remained in possession of the
property and deprived the plaintiff the enjoyment thereof; and (d) within
one (1) year from the unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession,
the plaintiff instituted the complaint for ejectment.

150 Civil Law RANA vs. H. R. No. Property/ Nuisance/ Under Article 694 of the Civil Code, a nuisance is defined as “any act,
WONG 192861. Damages/ In Pari omission, establishment, business, condition of property, or anything
June 30, Delicto/ Recovery of else which: (1) Injures or endangers the health or safety of others; or (2)
2014 Property/ Attorney’s Annoys or offends the senses; or (3) Shocks, defies or disregards decency
SPS. ROSARIO Fees or morality; or (4) Obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any
G.R. No.
vs. SPS. public highway or street, or any body of water; or (5) Hinders or impairs
192862.
REYNALDO . the use of property.” Based on case law, however, the term “nuisance” is
June 30,
Malicious deemed to be “so comprehensive that it has been applied to almost all
2014.
Prosecution/ ways which have interfered with the rights of the citizens, either in
person, property, the enjoyment of his property, or his comfort.”

Article 695 of the Civil Code classifies nuisances with respect to the
object or objects that they affect. In this regard, a nuisance may either
be: (a) a public nuisance (or one which “affects a community or
neighborhood or any considerable number of persons, although the
extent of the annoyance, danger or damage upon individuals may be
unequal”); or (b) a private nuisance (or one “that is not included in the
foregoing definition” [or, as case law puts it, one which “violates only
private rights and produces damages to but one or a few persons”]).
Jurisprudence further classifies nuisances in relation to their legal
susceptibility to summary abatement (that is, corrective action without
prior judicial permission). In this regard, a nuisance may either be: (a) a
nuisance per se (or one which “affects the immediate safety of persons
and property and may be summarily abated under the undefined law of
necessity”); or (b) a nuisance per accidens (or that which “depends upon
certain conditions and circumstances, and its existence being a question
of fact, it cannot be abated without due hearing thereon in a tribunal
authorized to decide whether such a thing does in law constitute a
nuisance.”)

Aside from the remedy of summary abatement which should be taken


under the parameters stated in Articles 704 (for public nuisances) and
706 (for private nuisances) of the Civil Code, a private person whose
property right was invaded or unreasonably interfered with by the act,
omission, establishment, business or condition of the property of another
may file a civil action to recover personal damages. Abatement may be
judicially sought through a civil action therefor if the pertinent
requirements under the Civil Code for summary abatement, or the
requisite that the nuisance is a nuisance per se, do not concur. To note,
the remedies of abatement and damages are cumulative; hence, both
may be demanded.

As the records establish, Sps. Rana, without prior consultation with


Wong, et al. and to their sole advantage, elevated and cemented almost
half of the 10-meter wide subject road. As homeowners of Peace Valley
Subdivision, Wong, et al. maintain the rights to the unobstructed use of
and free passage over the subject road. By constructing the subject
portion, Sps. Rana introduced a nuisance per accidens that particularly
transgressed the aforesaid rights. Thus, for the vindication and
recognition of Wong, et al.’s rights, Sps. Rana should be similarly held
liable for nominal damages. Under Article 2216 of the Civil Code, courts
have the discretion to determine awards of nominal and temperate
damages without actual proof of pecuniary loss, as in this case.

Assessing the respective infractions of the parties herein, the Court finds
it prudent to sustain the CA’s verdict offsetting the damage caused by
said parties against each other. The Court can, however, only concur with
the CA in result since the latter inaccurately applied, as basis for its
ruling, the in pari delicto principle enunciated in the case of Yu Bun Guan
v. Ong (Yu Guan), 367 SCRA 559 (2001). In said case, the Court discussed
the in pari delicto principle with respect to the subject matter of
inexistent and void contracts, viz.: Inapplicability of the in Pari Delicto
Principle The principle of in pari delicto provides that when two parties
are equally at fault, the law leaves them as they are and denies recovery
by either one of them. However, this principle does not apply with
respect to inexistent and void contracts. Said this Court in Modina v.
Court of Appeals: “The principle of in pari delicto non oritur actio denies
all recovery to the guilty parties inter se. It applies to cases where the
nullity arises from the illegality of the consideration or the purpose of the
contract. When two persons are equally at fault, the law does not relieve
them. The exception to this general rule is when the principle is invoked
with respect to inexistent contracts.” (emphasis supplied; citations
omitted) Clearly, no void or inexistent contract is herein at issue, hence,
the Court’s disagreement with the CA’s invocation of Yu Guan in this
respect.

Settled is the rule that in order that an action for the recovery of
property may prosper, the party prosecuting the same need only prove
the identity of the thing and his ownership thereof. In the present cases,
the report of the court-appointed commissioner, Atty. Pintor, who
conducted a relocation survey of the Rana and Uy properties identified
and delineated the boundaries of the two properties and showed that
Sps. Uy’s perimeter fence intruded on 2 sq. m. of the Rana property. Both
the RTC and the CA relied upon the said report; thus, absent any
competent showing that the said finding was erroneous, the Court sees
no reason to deviate from the conclusions reached by the courts a quo.
Having sufficiently proven their claim, Sps. Rana are, therefore entitled to
the return of the 2 sq. m. encroached portion. Corollary thereto,
compliance by Linda Rana with the directive in Civil Case No. CEB-20893
to build a retaining wall on their property shall be held in abeyance
pending return of the encroached portion.
As the Court sees it, the filing by the parties of their respective
complaints against each other was not clearly and convincingly shown to
have been precipitated by any malice or bad faith, sufficient enough to
warrant the payment of damages in favor of either party. As correctly
pointed out by the CA, malicious prosecution, both in criminal and civil
cases, requires the presence of two (2) elements, namely: (a) malice; and
(b) absence of probable cause. Moreover, there must be proof that the
prosecution was prompted by a sinister design to vex and humiliate a
person; and that it was initiated deliberately knowing that the charge
was false and baseless. Hence, the mere filing of a suit which
subsequently turns out to be unsuccessful does not render a person
liable for malicious prosecution, for the law could not have meant to
impose a penalty on the right to litigate. As the aforementioned
elements were not duly proven, the claims for malicious prosecution are
hereby denied.

With respect to the claims for moral damages, although the Court found
the parties to have sustained nominal damages as a result of the other
parties’ acts, an award of moral damages would nonetheless be improper
in this case. Article 2217 of the Civil Code states that “[m]oral 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 for omission.” Corollary thereto,
Article 2219 of the same code (Article 2219) states that “[m]oral 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; [and] (10) Acts
and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.”

The Court deems that an award of exemplary damages would be


inappropriate since these damages are imposed only “by way of example
or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate,
liquidated or compensatory damages.” Bluntly placed, the Court does not
view the present matters of such caliber. Hence, there is no reason to
grant the parties’ claims for the same.

Considering that neither of the parties was able to successfully prove (a)
their claims for malicious prosecution, (b) their entitlement to moral and
exemplary damages, and (c) the attendance of any of the circumstances
under Article 2208 of the Civil Code, their respective claims for attorney’s
fees and litigation expenses against each other are also denied.

151 Administrative TIONG vs. A. C. No. Disbarment It has been consistently held by the Court that possession of good moral
Law/ FLORENDO 4428. character is not only a condition for admission to the Bar but is a
continuing requirement to maintain one’s good standing in the legal
December
profession. It is the bounden duty of law practitioners to observe the
12, 2011
highest degree of morality in order to safeguard the integrity of the Bar.
Consequently, any errant behaviour on the part of a lawyer, be it in his
public or private activities, which tends to show him deficient in moral
character, honesty, probity or good demeanor, is sufficient to warrant his
suspension or disbarment.

Respondent’s act of having an affair with his client’s wife manifested his
disrespect for the laws on the sanctity of marriage and his own marital
vow of fidelity. It showed his utmost moral depravity and low regard for
the ethics of his profession. Likewise, he violated the trust and
confidence reposed on him by complainant which in itself is prohibited
under Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Undeniably,
therefore, his illicit relationship with Ma. Elena amounts to a disgraceful
and grossly immoral conduct warranting disciplinary action from the
Court. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that an
attorney may be disbarred or suspended from his office by the Court for
any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in office, grossly
immoral conduct, among others.

It bears to stress that a case of suspension or disbarment is sui generis


and not meant to grant relief to a complainant as in a civil case but is
intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its undesirable
members in order to protect the public and the courts. It is not an
investigation into the acts of respondent as a husband but on his conduct
as an officer of the Court and his fitness to continue as a member of the
Bar. Hence, the Affidavit dated March 15, 1995, which is akin to an
affidavit of desistance, cannot have the effect of abating the instant
proceedings.

152 Mercantile ACE G.R. No. Bill of Lading/Agency/ A bill of lading is defined as “an instrument in writing, signed by a carrier
Law NAVIGATION 171591. or his agent, describing the freight so as to identify it, stating the name of
CO., INC., vs. June 25, the consignor, the terms of the contract for carriage, and agreeing or
Civil Law
FGU 2012 directing that the freight to be delivered to the order or assigns of a
INSURANCE specified person at a specified place.” It operates both as a receipt and as
CORPORATION a contract. As a receipt, it recites the date and place of shipment,
and PIONEER describes the goods as to quantity, weight, dimensions, identification
INSURANCE marks and condition, quality, and value. As a contract, it names the
AND SURETY contracting parties, which include the consignee, fixes the route,
CORPORATION destination, and freight rates or charges, and stipulates the rights and
obligations assumed by the parties. As such, it shall only be binding upon
the parties who make them, their assigns and heirs.

Article 1868 of the Civil Code states: “ART. 1868. By the contract of
agency, a person binds himself to render some service or to do
something in representation or on behalf of another, with the consent or
authority of the latter.” Corollarily, Article 1897 of the same Code
provides that an agent is not personally liable to the party with whom he
contracts, unless he expressly binds himself or exceeds the limits of his
authority without giving such party sufficient notice of his powers.
153 Administrative OFFICE OF THE A. M. No. Public Officers Jurisprudence is replete with rulings that in order for the Court to acquire
Proceeding COURT RTJ-10-223 jurisdiction over an administrative proceeding, the complaint must be
ADMINISTRAT 5. filed during the incumbency of the respondent public official or
OR, vs. employee. This is because the filing of an administrative case is
March 11,
GRAGEDA predicated on the holding of a position or office in the government
2013
service. However, once jurisdiction has attached, the same is not lost by
the mere fact that the public official or employee was no longer in office
during the pendency of the case. In fine, cessation from office by reason
of resignation, death or retirement is not a ground to dismiss the case
filed against the said officer or employee at the time that he was still in
the public service or render it moot and academic.

In the case of Office of the Ombudsman v. Andutan, Jr., 654 SCRA 539
(2011), the Court ruled that while the Ombudsman is not precluded from
conducting an investigation against the errant employee, it can no longer
institute an administrative case against Andutan who had already
resigned, more so since his resignation or severance of employment from
the service was not availed of to prevent the continuation of the pending
administrative case or to pre-empt the imminent filing of one. The Court
also dismissed an administrative case filed against a retired court
stenographer for having been initiated over a month after her retirement
from the service. Moreover, in Re: Missing Exhibits and Court Properties
in Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, Panabo City, Davao del Norte, 692 SCRA
8 (2013), the Court absolved herein respondent, Judge Grageda, from any
administrative liability since the complaint against him was filed after his
retirement from the judiciary.

154 Civil Law RURAL BANK G. R. No. Land Civil Law; Land Registration; Consolidation of Titles; After consolidation
OF STA. 200667 Registration/Consolid of title in the purchaser’s name for failure of the mortgagor to redeem
Remedial Law
BARBARA March 11, ation of Titles the property, the purchaser’s right to possession ripens into the absolute
Appeals
(ILOILO), INC., 2013 right of a confirmed owner.—It is well-established that after
vs. consolidation of title in the purchaser’s name for failure of the mortgagor
CENTENO, Appeals to redeem the property, the purchaser’s right to possession ripens into
the absolute right of a confirmed owner. At that point, the issuance of a
writ of possession, upon proper application and proof of title, to a
purchaser in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale becomes merely a
ministerial function, unless it appears that the property is in possession
of a third party claiming a right adverse to that of the mortgagor. The
foregoing rule is contained in Section 33, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court
which partly provides.

In China Banking Corporation v. Lozada, 557 SCRA 177 (2008), the Court
held that the phrase “a third party who is actually holding the property
adversely to the judgment obligor” contemplates a situation in which a
third party holds the property by adverse title or right, such as that of a
co-owner, tenant or usufructuary. The co-owner, agricultural tenant, and
usufructuary possess the property in their own right, and they are not
merely the successor or transferee of the right of possession of another
co-owner or the owner of the property. Notably, the property should not
only be possessed by a third party, but also held by the third party
adversely to the judgment obligor.
On the issue regarding the identity of the lots as raised by respondent in
his Comment, records show that the RTC had already passed upon
petitioner’s title over the subject lots during the course of the
proceedings. Accordingly, the identity of the said lots had already been
established for the purpose of issuing a writ of possession. It is hornbook
principle that absent any clear showing of abuse, arbitrariness or
capriciousness committed by the lower court, its findings of facts are
binding and conclusive upon the Court, as in this case.

155 Remedial Law KAPISANANG G.R. No. Forum Shopping Forum shopping exists “when one party repetitively avails of several
PANGKAUNLAR 175900. judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all
AN NG June 10, substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential
KABABAIHANG 2013 facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues
POTRERO, INC. either pending in, or already resolved adversely, by some other court.”
vs.BARRENO What is truly important to consider in determining whether it exists or
not is the vexation caused the courts and parties-litigants by a party who
asks different courts and/or administrative agencies to rule on the same
or related causes and/or grant the same or substantially the same reliefs,
in the pro-cess creating the possibility of conflicting decisions being
rendered by different fora upon the same issues.

156 Remedial Law SURIGAO DEL G.R. No. Appeals/Procedural It must be pointed out that the main issue in this case involves a question
NORTE 187722. Rules and of fact. In this light, it is an established rule that the jurisdiction of the
ELECTRIC June 10, Technicalities/ Court in cases brought before it from the CA via a petition for review on
Labor Law COOPERATIVE, 2013 certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is generally limited to
INC. vs. reviewing errors of law as the former is not a trier of facts. In the Court’s
GONZAGA exercise of its power of review, thus, the findings of fact of the CA are
conclusive and binding as it is not the former’s function to analyze or
Civil Law; Illegal Dismissals/
weigh evidence all over again. However, one of the recognized
Serious Misconduct;
exceptions to this rule is when there resides a conflict between the
Gross and Habitual
findings of facts of the NLRC and of the CA. In such instance, there is a
Neglect of Duty/
need to review the records to determine which of them should be
Formal Hearing
preferred as more conformable to the evidentiary facts, as in this case.
Accordingly, the Court proceeds to examine the cause and procedure
attendant to the termination of Gonzaga’s employment.

In termination cases, the burden of proof rests on the employer to show


that the dismissal is for a valid cause. Failing in which, the law considers
the matter a case of illegal dismissal. In this relation, the quantum of
proof which the employer must discharge is substantial evidence which,
as defined in case law, means that amount of relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, even
if other minds, equally reasonable, might conceivably opine otherwise.

To note, petitioners could not be faulted for not presenting each and
every bill or receipt due to their voluminous character. Corollarily, the
Court takes judicial notice of the fact that documents of such nature
could indeed consist of multiple pages; likewise, it is clear that
petitioners only sought to establish a general result from the whole, i.e.,
the total cash shortage. In this regard, the requirement that the offeror
first establish the voluminous nature of the evidence sought to be
presented, as discussed in the CA’s March 30, 2009 Resolution, is
dispensed with. Besides, technical rules of evidence are not strictly
followed in labor cases and thus, their liberal application relaxes the
same.

The Court finds the evidence presented by the petitioners, as opposed to


the bare denial of Gonzaga, sufficient to constitute substantial evidence
to prove that he committed serious misconduct and gross and habitual
neglect of duty to warrant his dismissal from employment. Such are just
causes for termination which are explicitly enumerated

under Article 296 of the Labor Code, as amended: Article 296.


Termination by Employer.—An employer may terminate an employment
for any of the following causes: (a) Serious Misconduct or wilful
disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or
representative in connection with his work; (b) Gross and habitual
neglect by the employee of his duties; x x x x At any rate, Gonzaga had
admitted that he failed to remit his collections daily in violation of
SURNECO’s company policy, rendering such fact conclusive and binding
upon him. Therefore, for his equal violation of Section 7.2.2 of the Code
of Ethics (failure to remit collections/monies), his dismissal is justified
altogether.

Jurisprudence dictates that it is not enough that the employee is given an


“ample opportunity to be heard” if company rules or practices require a
formal hearing or conference. In such instance, the requirement of a
formal hearing and conference becomes mandatory. In Perez v.
Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company, 584 SCRA 110 (2009), the
Court laid down the following principles in dismissing employees: (a)
“ample opportunity to be heard” means any meaningful opportunity
(verbal or written) given to the employee to answer the charges against
him and submit evidence in support of his defense, whether in a hearing,
conference or some other fair, just and reasonable way. (b) a formal
hearing or conference becomes mandatory only when requested by the
employee in writing or substantial evidentiary disputes exists or a
company rule or practice requires it, or when similar circumstances
justify it. (c) the “ample opportunity to be heard” standard in the Labor
Code prevails over the “hearing and conference” requirement in the
implementing rules and regulations. [emphases and underscoring
supplied] The rationale behind this mandatory characterization is
premised on the fact that company rules and regulations which regulate
the procedure and requirements for termination, are generally binding
on the employer. Thus, as pronounced in Suico v. NLRC, et al., 513 SCRA
325 (2007): Company policies or practices are binding on the parties.
Some can ripen into an obligation on the part of the employer, such as
those which confer benefits on employees or regulate the procedures
and requirements for their termination.

Same; Same; In Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission, 442


SCRA 573 (2004), the Supreme Court pronounced that where the
dismissal is for a just cause, the lack of statutory due process should not
nullify the dismissal, or render it illegal, or ineffectual. However, the
employer should indemnify the employee for the violation of his
statutory rights.―In this relation, case law states that an employer who
terminates an employee for a valid cause but does so through invalid
procedure is liable to pay the latter nominal damages. In Agabon v. NLRC
(Agabon), 442 SCRA 573 (2004), the Court pronounced that where the
dismissal is for a just cause, the lack of statutory due process should not
nullify the dismissal, or render it illegal, or ineffectual. However, the
employer should indemnify the employee for the violation of his
statutory rights. Thus, in Agabon, the employer was ordered to pay the
employee nominal damages in the amount of P30,000.00. By analogy,
the Court finds that the same principle should apply to the case at bar for
the reason that an employer’s breach of its own company procedure is
equally violative of the laborer’s rights, albeit not statutory in source.
Hence, although the dismissal stands, the Court deems it appropriate to
award Gonzaga nominal damages in the amount of P30,000.00.

Pursuant to the established rules and jurisprudence, a labor case is


generally elevated to this Court through a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, after it has been resolved
by the CA through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court. The object of a Rule 45 petition is to determine the correctness of
the assailed decision, i.e., whether the respondent court committed a
reversible legal error in resolving the case. In contrast, the object of a
Rule 65 petition is to determine jurisdictional error on the part of the
respondent court, i.e., whether the respondent court committed grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. In light of
this review process, the Court takes on a unique approach in reviewing a
CA decision on a labor case in that “we ... examine the CA decision from
the prism of whether it correctly determined the presence or absence of
grave abuse of discretion in the [National Labor Relations Commission]
decision before it, not on the basis of whether the NLRC decision on the
merits of the case was correct.” Hence, the question to ask is whether
the CA correctly determined whether the NLRC committed grave abuse
of discretion in ruling in this case. In this particular case, I believe that the
CA erred in ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC.

Gonzaga’s misappropriation of the funds under his custody constitutes a


just and valid cause for his dismissal. Nonetheless, as the ponencia found,
Gonzaga was not afforded the procedural due process for failure of the
petitioners to observe their own established policy in investigating erring
employees. As ruled in Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission,
442 SCRA 573 (2004), “[w]here the dismissal is for a just cause, as in the
instant case, the lack of statutory due process should not nullify the
dismissal, or render it illegal, or ineffectual. However, the employer
should indemnify the employee for the violation of his statutory rights...”
Hence, the employer should be required to pay the employee nominal
damages, which has been set by jurisprudence at P30,000.00.

157 Criminal Law CABALLO vs. G.R. No. Child Prostitution/ Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit, or any other
PEOPLE OF THE 198732. consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate
PHILIPPINES June 10, or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed
2013. to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse. The
penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua
shall be imposed upon the following: x x x x (b) Those who commit the
act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in
prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse; Provided, That when the
victim is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be
prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3 for rape and Article 336 of Act
No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious
conduct, as the case may be; Provided, That the penalty for lascivious
conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall be
reclusion temporal in its medium period x x x x (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied) As determined in the case of Olivarez v. CA
(Olivarez), 465 SCRA 465 (2005), the elements of the foregoing offense
are the following: (a) The accused commits the act of sexual intercourse
or lascivious conduct; (b) The said act is performed with a child exploited
in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and (c) The child,
whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.

To put things in proper perspective, it must be pointed out that RA 7610


was meant to advance the state policy of affording “special protection to
children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and
discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development”
and in such regard, “provide sanctions for their commission.” It also
furthers the “best interests of children” and as such, its provisions are
guided by this standard.

Driven by the foregoing considerations, Congress crafted Article III of the


same law in order to penalize child prostitution and other forms of sexual
abuse. Section 5 thereof provides a definition of who is considered a
“child exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.” As illumined in
Olivarez v. CA, 465 SCRA 465 (2005), citing People v. Larin, 297 SCRA 309
(1998), and Amployo v. People, 457 SCRA 282 (2005), the final version of
the aforesaid provision was a product of various deliberations to expand
its original coverage to cases where the minor may have been coerced or
intimidated into sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, not necessarily
for money or profit, viz.: The second element, i.e., that the act is
performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other
sexual abuse, is likewise present. As succinctly explained in People v.
Larin, 297 SCRA 309 (1998): A child is deemed exploited in prostitution or
subjected to other sexual abuse, when the child indulges in sexual
intercourse or lascivious conduct (a) for money, profit, or any other
consideration; or (b) under the coercion or influence of any adult,
syndicate or group... It must be noted that the law covers not only a
situation in which a child is abused for profit, but also one in which a
child, through coercion or intimidation, engages in lascivious conduct.
We reiterated this ruling in Amployo v. People, 457 SCRA 282 (2005): ...
As we observed in People v. Larin, Section 5 of Rep. Act No. 7610 does
not merely cover a situation of a child being abused for profit, but also
one in which a child engages in any lascivious conduct through coercion
or intimidation...

As it is presently worded, Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 provides that


when a child indulges in sexual intercourse or any lascivious conduct due
to the coercion or influence of any adult, the child is deemed to be a
“child exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.” In this manner,
the law is able to act as an effective deterrent to quell all forms of abuse,
neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination against children,
prejudicial as they are to their development. In this relation, case law
further clarifies that sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct under the
coercion or influence of any adult exists when there is some form of
compulsion equivalent to intimidation which subdues the free exercise of
the offended party’s free will. Corollary thereto, Section 2(g) of the Rules
on Child Abuse Cases conveys that sexual abuse involves the element of
influence which manifests in a variety of forms. It is defined as: The
employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a
child to engage in or assist another person to engage in, sexual
intercourse or lascivious conduct or the molestation, prostitution, or
incest with children.

Jurisprudence settles that consent is immaterial in cases involving a


violation of Section 5, Article III of RA 7610; as such, the argument that
AAA and Caballo were sweethearts remains irrelevant. The Malto ruling
is largely instructive on this point: For purposes of sexual intercourse and
lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610, the sweetheart
defense is unacceptable. A child exploited in prostitution or subjected to
other sexual abuse cannot validly give consent to sexual intercourse with
another person. The language of the law is clear: it seeks to punish
“[t]hose who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct
with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse.”
Unlike rape, therefore, consent is immaterial in cases involving violation
of Section 5, Article III of RA 7610. The mere act of having sexual
intercourse or committing lascivious conduct with a child who is
exploited in prostitution or subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the
offense. It is a malum prohibitum, an evil that is proscribed. A child
cannot give consent to a contract under our civil laws. This is on the
rationale that she can easily be the victim of fraud as she is not capable
of fully understanding or knowing the nature or import of her actions.
The State, as parens patriae, is under the obligation to minimize the risk
of harm to those who, because of their minority, are as yet unable to
take care of themselves fully. Those of tender years deserve its
protection. The harm which results from a child’s bad decision in a sexual
encounter may be infinitely more damaging to her than a bad business
deal. Thus, the law should protect her from the harmful consequences of
her attempts at adult sexual behavior. For this reason, a child should not
be deemed to have validly consented to adult sexual activity and to
surrender herself in the act of ultimate physical intimacy under a law
which seeks to afford her special protection against abuse, exploitation
and discrimination. (Otherwise, sexual predators like petitioner will be
justified, or even unwittingly tempted by the law, to view her as fair
game and vulnerable prey.) In other words, a child is presumed by law to
be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual
intercourse.

158 Agrarian LAND BANK OF G.R. No. Just Compensation The principal basis of the computation for just compensation is Section
Reform THE 192890. 17 of RA 6657, which enumerates the following factors to guide the
PHILIPPINES, June 17, special agrarian courts in the determination thereof: (1) the acquisition
vs. 2013 cost of the land; (2) the current value of the properties; (3) its nature,
PALMARES actual use, and income; (4) the sworn valuation by the owner; (5) the tax
declarations; (6) the assessment made by government assessors; (7) the
social and economic benefits contributed by the farmers and the
farmworkers, and by the government to the property; and (8) the
nonpayment of taxes or loans secured from any government financing
institution on the said land, if any. Pursuant to its rule-making power
under Section 49 of the same law, the DAR translated these factors into a
basic formula.

159 Legal Ethics ABELLA vs. Adm. Case Disbarment/ Immoral Chapter 1 of the Code, delineate the lawyer’s responsibility to society:
BARRIOS No. 7332. conduct/ Practice of Rule 1.01 engraves the overriding prohibition against lawyers from
Law/ engaging in any unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct; Rule
June 18,
1.03 proscribes lawyers from encouraging any suit or proceeding or
2013
delaying any man’s cause for any corrupt motive or interest; meanwhile,
Labor Law Rule 6.02 is particularly directed to lawyers in government service,
Backwages/
Suspension enjoining them from using one’s public position to: (1) promote private
interests; (2) advance private interests; or (3) allow private interests to
interfere with public duties. It is well to note that a lawyer who holds a
government office may be disciplined as a member of the Bar only when
his misconduct also constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer. In this
light, a lawyer’s compliance with and observance of the abovementioned
rules should be taken into consideration in determining his moral fitness
to continue in the practice of law.

To note, “the possession of good moral character is both a condition


precedent and a continuing requirement to warrant admission to the Bar
and to retain membership in the legal profession.” This proceeds from
the lawyer’s duty to observe the highest degree of morality in order to
safeguard the Bar’s integrity. Consequently, any errant behavior on the
part of a lawyer, be it in the lawyer’s public or private activities, which
tends to show deficiency in moral character, honesty, probity or good
demeanor, is sufficient to warrant suspension or disbarment.

Fundamental in the realm of labor law is the rule that backwages are
separate and distinct from separation pay in lieu of reinstatement and
are awarded conjunctively to an employee who has been illegally
dismissed. There is nothing in the records that could confound the
finding that complainant was illegally dismissed as LA Carreon, the NLRC,
and the CA were all unanimous in decreeing the same. Being a labor
arbiter, it is hardly believable that respondent could overlook the fact
that complainant was entitled to backwages in view of the standing
pronouncement of illegal dismissal. In this regard, respondent’s defense
deserves scant consideration.

Jurisprudence illumines that immoral conduct involves acts that are


willful, flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral indifference to the
opinion of the upright and respectable members of the community. It
treads the line of grossness when it is so corrupt as to constitute a
criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree,
or when committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as
to shock the community’s sense of decency. On the other hand, gross
misconduct constitutes “improper or wrong conduct, the transgression of
some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a
dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies a wrongful intent and
not mere error of judgment.”

Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that when a lawyer is
found guilty of gross immoral conduct or gross misconduct, he may be
suspended or disbarred: SEC. 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by
Supreme Court on what grounds.―A member of the bar may be
removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court
for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office,
grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is
required to take before the admission to practice, or for a willfull
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or
willful appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so
to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain,
either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
malpractice. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Thus, as respondent’s
violations clearly constitute gross immoral conduct and gross
misconduct, his disbarment should come as a matter of course. However,
the Court takes judicial notice of the fact that he had already been
disbarred in a previous administrative case, entitled Sps. Rafols, Jr. v.
Ricardo G. Barrios, Jr., 615 SCRA 206 (2010), which therefore precludes
the Court from duplicitously decreeing the same. In view of the
foregoing, the Court deems it proper to, instead, impose a fine in the
amount of P40,000.00 in order to penalize respondent’s transgressions as
discussed herein and to equally deter the commission of the same or
similar acts in the future.
As a final word, the Court staunchly reiterates the principle that the
practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who continue to
meet its exacting qualifications. Verily, for all the prestige and
opportunity which the profession brings lies the greater responsibility to
uphold its integrity and honor. Towards this purpose, it is quintessential
that its members continuously and unwaveringly exhibit, preserve and
protect moral uprightness in their activities, both in their legal practice as
well as in their personal lives. Truth be told, the Bar holds no place for
the deceitful, immoral and corrupt.

180 Election Law JALOSJOS vs. G.R. No. COMELEC/ Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution requiring a motion for
THE 205033. Disqualification of reconsideration before the COMELEC En Banc may take action is confined
COMMISSION June 18, Candidates/ Statutory only to cases where the COMELEC exercises its quasi-judicial power. It
ON ELECTIONS 2013 Construction/ finds no application, however, in matters concerning the COMELEC’s
Attorney’s Fees/ exercise of administrative functions. The distinction between the two is
well-defined. As illumined in Villarosa v. COMELEC, 319 SCRA 470 (1999):
[T]he term ‘administrative’ connotes, or pertains, to ‘administration,
especially management, as by managing or conducting, directing or
superintending, the execution, application, or conduct of persons or
things. It does not entail an opportunity to be heard, the production and
weighing of evidence, and a decision or resolution thereon. While a
‘quasi-judicial function’ is a term which applies to the action, discretion,
etc., of public administrative officers or bodies, who are required to
investigate facts, or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and
draw conclusions from them, as a basis for their official action and to
exercise discretion of a judicial nature.

In Jalosjos, Jr. and Cardino, 683 SCRA 1 (2012), the Court held that the
COMELEC’s denial of due course to and/or cancellation of a CoC in view
of a candidate’s disqualification to run for elective office based on a final
conviction is subsumed under its mandate to enforce and administer all
laws relating to the conduct of elections. Accordingly, in such a situation,
it is the COMELEC’s duty to cancel motu proprio the candidate’s CoC,
notwithstanding the absence of any petition initiating a quasi-judicial
proceeding for the resolution of the same.

In this light, there is also no violation of procedural due process since the
COMELEC En Banc would be acting in a purely administrative manner.
Administrative power is concerned with the work of applying policies and
enforcing orders as determined by proper governmental organs. As
petitioner’s disqualification to run for public office had already been
settled in a previous case and now stands beyond dispute, it is incumbent
upon the COMELEC En Banc to cancel his CoC as a matter of course, else
it be remiss in fulfilling its duty to enforce and administer all laws and
regulations relative to the conduct of an election. Equally compelling is
the fact that the denial of petitioner’s Petition for Inclusion as a
registered voter in Zamboanga City had already attained finality by virtue
of the RTC’s Order dated October 31, 2012. In this accord, petitioner’s
non-compliance with the voter registration requirement under Section
39(a) of the LGC is already beyond question and likewise provides a
sufficient ground for the cancellation of his CoC altogether.

Well-established is the rule that every new statute should be construed


in connection with those already existing in relation to the same subject
matter and all should be made to harmonize and stand together, if they
can be done by any fair and reasonable interpretation.

The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local
position: (a) Those sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving
moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one (1) year or more of
imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving sentence; (Emphasis
and underscoring supplied) And on the other hand, Article 30 of the RPC
reads: ART. 30. Effects of the penalties of perpetual or temporary
absolute disqualification.—The penalties of perpetual or temporary
absolute disqualification for public office shall produce the following
effects: 1. The deprivation of the public offices and employments which
the offender may have held, even if conferred by popular election. 2. The
deprivation of the right to vote in any election for any popular office or to
be elected to such office. 3. The disqualification for the offices or public
employments and for the exercise of any of the rights mentioned. In case
of temporary disqualification, such disqualification as is comprised in
paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article shall last during the term of the
sentence. 4. The loss of all rights to retirement pay or other pension for
any office formerly held. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Keeping
with the above-mentioned statutory construction principle, the Court
observes that the conflict between these provisions of law may be
properly reconciled. In particular, while Section 40(a) of the LGC allows a
prior convict to run for local elective office after the lapse of two (2)
years from the time he serves his sentence, the said provision should not
be deemed to cover cases wherein the law imposes a penalty, either as
principal or accessory, which has the effect of disqualifying the convict to
run for elective office. An example of this would be Article 41 of the RPC,
which imposes the penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification as an
accessory to the principal penalties of reclusion perpetua and reclusion
temporal: ART. 41. Reclusion perpetua and reclusion temporal―Their
accessory penalties.―The penalties of reclusion perpetua and reclusion
temporal shall carry with them that of civil interdiction for life or during
the period of the sentence as the case may be, and that of perpetual
absolute disqualification which the offender shall suffer even though
pardoned as to the principal penalty, unless the same shall have been
expressly remitted in the pardon. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In this relation, Article 30 of the RPC, as earlier cited, provides that the
penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification has the effect of depriving
the convicted felon of the privilege to run for elective office. To note, this
penalty, as well as other penalties of similar import, is based on the
presumptive rule that one who is rendered infamous by conviction of a
felony, or other base offense indicative of moral turpitude, is unfit to
hold public office, as the same partakes of a privilege which the State
grants only to such classes of persons which are most likely to exercise it
for the common good.

general legislation must give way to special legislation on the same


subject, and generally is so interpreted as to embrace only cases in which
the special provisions are not applicable.―Pertinently, it is observed that
the import of Article 41 in relation to Article 30 of the RPC is more direct
and specific in nature ― insofar as it deprives the candidate to run for
elective office due to his conviction ― as compared to Section 40(a) of
the LGC which broadly speaks of offenses involving moral turpitude and
those punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment without any
consideration of certain disqualifying effects to one’s right to suffrage.
Accordingly, Section 40(a) of the LGC should be considered as a law of
general application and therefore, must yield to the more definitive RPC
provisions in line with the principle of lex specialis derogat generali ―
general legislation must give way to special legislation on the same
subject, and generally is so interpreted as to embrace only cases in which
the special provisions are not applicable. In other words, where two
statutes are of equal theoretical application to a particular case, the one
specially designed therefor should prevail.

Article 41 of the RPC expressly states that one who is previously


convicted of a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua or reclusion
temporal continues to suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute
disqualification even though pardoned as to the principal penalty, unless
the said accessory penalty shall have been expressly remitted in the
pardon. In this case, the same accessory penalty had not been expressly
remitted in the Order of Commutation or by any subsequent pardon and
as such, petitioner’s disqualification to run for elective office is deemed
to subsist. Further, it is well to note that the use of the word “perpetual”
in the aforementioned accessory penalty connotes a lifetime restriction
and in this respect, does not depend on the length of the prison term
which is imposed as its principal penalty. Instructive on this point is the
Court’s ruling in Lacuna v. Abes, 24 SCRA 780 (1968), where the Court
explained the meaning of the term “perpetual” as applied to the penalty
of disqualification to run for public office: The accessory penalty of
temporary absolute disqualification disqualifies the convict for public
office and for the right to vote, such disqualification to last only during
the term of the sentence (Article 27, paragraph 3, & Article 30, Revised
Penal Code) that, in the case of Abes, would have expired on 13 October
1961. But this does not hold true with respect to the other accessory
penalty of perpetual special disqualification for the exercise of the right
of suffrage. This accessory penalty deprives the convict of the right to
vote or to be elected to or hold public office perpetually, distinguished
from temporary special disqualification, which lasts during the term of
the sentence.

Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) of petitioner Romeo G. Jalosjos should be


cancelled for his failure to comply with the voter registration
requirement in light of the Regional Trial Court’s (RTC’s) final judgment
denying Jalosjos’ inclusion as a voter. To the extent that the RTC’s basis
for its denial was the perpetual absolute disqualification of Jalosjos
arising from the reclusion perpetua imposed on him, I also agree that the
Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc’s ruling cannot legally be
faulted.
On the latter ground to the extent that the perpetual absolute
disqualification is motu proprio cited by the Comelec en banc in the
exercise of its administrative power and as an independent ground for
the cancellation it ordered. From this perspective, I take the position that
the perpetual absolute disqualification is an improper ground whose
proper place and role is the basis for disqualification, not for the
cancellation of a CoC, and one that cannot be made motu proprio. A
candidate who has filed an otherwise valid CoC may, for example, put up
as a defense that he or she has been granted an absolute pardon that
erased the accessory penalties attached to his offense and its penalty (as
in the recent case of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada). This
example glaringly shows that a perpetual absolute disqualification
involves a question of fact that requires the full application of due
process and cannot, motu proprio and in the exercise of administrative
powers, be simply cited as a ground for the cancellation of a CoC.

A party whose CoC is denied or is cancelled would not be considered a


candidate; on the other hand, one who filed a valid CoC but who is
subsequently disqualified (e.g., for unlawful electioneering under
Sections 68 and 12 of the Omnibus Election Code) was a candidate but
was not allowed to be voted for or, after elections, would not be allowed
to serve if he would win. Directly relevant to this distinction is Section 77
of the Omnibus Election Code which allows the substitution of
disqualified candidates as has been extensively discussed by Mr. Justice
Lucas P. Bersamin in the recent case of Talaga v. Commission on
Elections, 683 SCRA 197 (2012).
308 Remedial Law MARILAG vs. G.R. No. Judgments/ Dismissal A case is barred by prior judgment or res judicata when the following
MARTINEZ 201892. of Action/ Loan/ elements concur: (a) the judgment sought to bar the new action must be
July 22, Foreclosure of final; (b) the decision must have been rendered by a court having
2015 Mortgage/ jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (c) the disposition of
the case must be a judgment on the merits; and (d) there must be as
between the first and second action, identity of parties, subject matter,
and causes of action.

To lay down the basics, litis pendentia, as a ground for the dismissal of a
civil action, refers to that situation wherein another action is pending
between the same parties for the same cause of action, such that the
second action becomes unnecessary and vexatious. For the bar of litis
pendentia to be invoked, the following requisites must concur: (a)
identity of parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests
in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the
relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity of the two
preceding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the pending
case, regardless of which party is successful would amount to res judicata
in the other. The underlying principle of litis pendentia is the theory that
a party is not allowed to vex another more than once regarding the same
subject matter and for the same cause of action. This theory is founded
on the public policy that the same subject matter should not be the
subject of controversy in courts more than once, in order that possible
conflicting judgments may be avoided for the sake of the stability of the
rights and status of persons, and also to avoid the costs and expenses
incident to numerous suits. Consequently, a party will not be permitted
to split up a single cause of action and make it a basis for several suits as
the whole cause must be determined in one action. To be sure, splitting a
cause of action is a mode of forum shopping by filing multiple cases
based on the same cause of action, but with different prayers, where the
ground of dismissal is litis pendentia (or res judicata, as the case may be).

In loan contracts secured by a real estate mortgage, the rule is that the
creditor-mortgagee has a single cause of action against the
debtor--mortgagor, i.e., to recover the debt, through the filing of a
personal action for collection of sum of money or the institution of a real
action to foreclose on the mortgage security. The two remedies are
alternative, not cumulative or successive, and each remedy is complete
by itself. Thus, if the creditor-mortgagee opts to foreclose the real estate
mortgage, he waives the action for the collection of the unpaid debt,
except only for the recovery of whatever deficiency may remain in the
outstanding obligation of the debtor-mortgagor after deducting the bid
price in the public auction sale of the mortgaged properties. Accordingly,
a deficiency judgment shall only issue after it is established that the
mortgaged property was sold at public auction for an amount less than
the outstanding obligation.

While the ensuing collection case was anchored on the promissory note
executed by respondent who was not the original debtor, the same does
not constitute a separate and distinct contract of loan which would have
given rise to a separate cause of action upon breach. Notably, records are
bereft of any indication that respondent’s agreement to pay Rafael’s loan
obligation and the execution of the subject PN extinguished by novation
the contract of loan between Rafael and petitioner, in the absence of
express agreement or any act of equal import. Well-settled is the rule
that novation is never presumed, but must be clearly and unequivocally
shown. Thus, in order for a new agreement to supersede the old one, the
parties to a contract must expressly agree that they are abrogating their
old contract in favor of a new one, which was not shown here.

As petitioner had already instituted judicial foreclosure proceedings over


the mortgaged property, she is now barred from availing herself of an
ordinary action for collection, regardless of whether or not the decision
in the foreclosure case had attained finality. In fine, the dismissal of the
collection case is in order. Considering, however, that respondent’s claim
for return of excess payment partakes of the nature of a compulsory
counterclaim and, thus, survives the dismissal of petitioner’s collection
suit, the same should be resolved based on its own merits and
evidentiary support.

Inasmuch as the court a quo failed to state in the body of its decision the
factual or legal basis for the award of attorney’s fees to the respondent,
as required under Article 2208 of the New Civil Code, the Court resolves
to delete the same. The rule is well-settled that the trial court must
clearly state the reasons for awarding attorney’s fees in the body of its
decision, not merely in its dispositive portion, as the appellate courts are
precluded from supplementing the bases for such award.

309 Remedial Law VISAYAN G.R. No. Certiorari/ Under Section 4, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, certiorari
ELECTRIC 205575. should be filed “not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the
COMPANY July 22, judgment, order or resolution” sought to be assailed. The provisions on
Labor Law EMPLOYEES 2015. CBA/Termination of reglementary periods are strictly applied, indispensable as they are to the
UNION-ALU-TU Employment/ prevention of needless delays, and are necessary to the orderly and
CP , vs. speedy discharge of judicial business. The timeliness of filing a pleading is
VISAYAN a jurisdictional caveat that even this Court cannot trifle with.
ELECTRIC
COMPANY,
INC. (VECO), The fact that the delay in the filing of the petition for certiorari was only
one day is not a legal justification for noncompliance with the rule
requiring that it be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the
assailed judgment, order or resolution. The Court cannot subscribe to the
theory that the ends of justice would be better subserved by allowing a
petition for certiorari filed only one-day late. When the law fixes sixty
(60) days, it cannot be taken to mean also sixty-one (61) days, as the
Court had previously declared in this wise: [W]hen the law fixes thirty
days [or sixty days as in the present case], we cannot take it to mean also
thirty-one days. If that deadline could be stretched to thirty-one days in
one case, what would prevent its being further stretched to thirty-two
days in another case, and so on, step by step, until the original line is
forgotten or buried in the growing confusion resulting from the
alterations? That is intolerable. We cannot fix a period with the solemnity
of a statute and disregard it like a joke. If law is founded on reason, whim
and fancy should play no part in its application.

It is a fundamental doctrine in labor law that the CBA is the law between
the parties and they are obliged to comply with its provisions. If the
provisions of the CBA seem clear and unambiguous, the literal meaning
of their stipulations shall control. However, as in this case, when general
and specific provisions of the CBA are inconsistent, the specific provision
shall be paramount to and govern the general provision. Section 4, Article
XVII of the CBA states that “(a)ny difference of opinion, controversy,
dispute problem or complaint arising from Company--Union or
Company-Worker relations concerning the interpretation or application
of this Agreement or regarding any matter affecting Company--Union or
Company-Worker relations shall be considered a grievance.” On the
other hand, under Section 13, Article XIV, “(t)he Company agrees that
henceforth there shall be a fair and uniform application of its rules and
regulations. It is understood that disciplinary actions imposed on
employee or laborer shall be governed by the rules and regulations
promulgated by the Company as well as those provided for by existing
laws on the matter.”

The Court has consistently held that “x x x loss of trust and confidence
must be based on willful breach of the trust reposed in the employee by
his employer. Such breach is willful if it is done intentionally, knowingly,
and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act
done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. Moreover, it
must be based on substantial evidence and not on the employer’s whims
or caprices or suspicions[,] otherwise, the employee would eternally
remain at the mercy of the employer. x x x. And, in order to constitute a
just cause for dismissal, the act complained of must be work-related and
show that the employee concerned is unfit to continue working for the
employer. In addition, loss of confidence x x x is premised on the fact that
the employee concerned holds a position of responsibility, trust, and
confidence or that the employee concerned is entrusted with confidence
with respect to delicate matters, such as handling or care and protection
of the property and assets of the employer. The betrayal of this trust is
the essence of the offense for which an employee is penalized.”

With the derogatory statements issued by Mahilum that were intended


to incite, not just public condemnation of VECO, but antagonism and
obstruction against rate increases in electricity that it may be allowed, by
law, to fix, there can be no dispute that VECO, indeed, had lost its trust
and confidence in Mahilum and his ability to perform his tasks with
utmost efficiency and loyalty expected of an employee entrusted to
handle customers and funds. Settled is the rule that an employer cannot
be compelled to retain an employee who is guilty of acts inimical to the
interests of the employer. A company has the right to dismiss its
employee if only as a measure of self-protection.

As a final word, while it is the state’s responsibility to afford protection to


labor, this policy should not be used as an instrument to oppress
management and capital. In resolving disputes between labor and
capital, fairness and justice should always prevail. Social justice does not
mandate that every dispute should be automatically decided in favor of
labor. Justice is to be granted to the deserving and dispensed in the light
of the established facts and the applicable law and doctrine.

310 Civil Law GO vs. THE H. R. No. Trusts/ Trust is the right to the beneficial enjoyment of property, the legal title to
ESTATE OF THE 211972. re-conveyance/ Buyer which is vested in another. It is a fiduciary relationship that obliges the
LATE FELISA July 22, in Good Faith/ trustee to deal with the property for the benefit of the beneficiary. Trust
TAMIO DE 2015. relations between parties may either be express or implied. An express
BUENAVENTUR trust is created by the intention of the trustor or of the parties, while an
A implied trust comes into being by operation of law.
G.R. No.
212045.
GUERRERO vs. July 22, Express trusts are created by direct and positive acts of the parties, by
THE ESTATE OF 2015 some writing or deed, or will, or by words either expressly or impliedly
THE LATE evincing an intention to create a trust. Under Article 1444 of the Civil
FELISA TAMIO Code, “[n]o particular words are required for the creation of an express
DE trust, it being sufficient that a trust is clearly intended.” It is possible to
BUENAVENTUR create a trust without using the word “trust” or “trustee.” Conversely,
A. the mere fact that these words are used does not necessarily indicate an
intention to create a trust. The question in each case is whether the
trustor manifested an intention to create the kind of relationship which
to lawyers is known as trust. It is immaterial whether or not he knows
that the relationship which he intends to create is called a trust, and
whether or not he knows the precise characteristics of the relationship
which is called a trust.

Anent the issue of prescription, the Court finds that the action for
reconveyance instituted by respondents has not yet prescribed, following
the jurisprudential rule that express trusts prescribe in ten (10) years
from the time the trust is repudiated. In this case, there was a
repudiation of the express trust when Bella, as the remaining trustee,
sold the subject property to Wilson and Peter on January 23, 1997. As the
complaint for reconveyance and damages was filed by respondents on
October 17, 1997, or only a few months after the sale of the subject
property to Wilson and Peter, it cannot be said that the same has
prescribed.

A purchaser in good faith is one who buys the property of another


without notice that some other person has a right to, or an interest in,
such property and pays a full and fair price for the same at the time of
such purchase, or before he has notice of some other person’s claim or
interest in the property. Corollary thereto, when a piece of land is in the
actual possession of persons other than the seller, the buyer must be
wary and should investigate the rights of those in possession. Without
making such inquiry, one cannot claim that he is a buyer in good faith.
When a man proposes to buy or deal with realty, his duty is to read the
public manuscript, that is, to look and see who is there upon it and what
his rights are. A want of caution and diligence, which an honest man of
ordinary prudence is accustomed to exercise in making purchases, is in
contemplation of law, a want of good faith. The buyer who has failed to
know or discover that the land sold to him is in adverse possession of
another is a buyer in bad faith.
311 Labor Law BAUTISTA vs. G.R. No. Disability benefits/ The entitlement of overseas seafarers to disability benefits is a matter
ELBURG 206032. Work-Related Illness/ governed, not only by medical findings, but also by law and contract. The
SHIPMANAGE August 19, Occupational pertinent statutory provisions are Articles 197 to 199 (formerly Articles
MENT 2015 Diseases 191 to 193) of the Labor Code in relation to Section 2, Rule X of the Rules
PHILIPPINES, implementing Title II, Book IV of the said Code; while the relevant
Remedial Law INC., contracts are: (a) the POEA-SEC, which is a standard set of provisions that
Evidence; is deemed incorporated in every seafarer’s contract of employment; (b)
Presumptions the CBA, if any; and (c) the employment agreement between the seafarer
and his employer.

The 2000 POEA-SEC defines “work-related injury” as “injury(ies)”


resulting in disability or death arising out of and in the course of
employment” and “work-related illness” as “any sickness resulting to
disability or death as a result of an occupational disease listed under
Section 32-A of this contract with the conditions set therein satisfied,”
viz.: 1. The seafarer’s work must involve the risks described herein; 2. The
disease was contracted as a result of the seafarer’s exposure to the
described risks; 3. The disease was contracted within a period of
exposure and under such other factors necessary to contract it; and 4.
There was no notorious negligence on the part of the seafarer.

Section 32(A)(11) of the 2000 POEA-SEC expressly considers


Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) as an occupational disease if it was
contracted under any of the following instances, to wit: (a) If the heart
disease was known to have been present during employment, there must
be proof that an acute exacerbation was clearly precipitated by the
unusual strain by reasons of the nature of his work. (b) The strain of work
that brings about an acute attack must be sufficient severity and must be
followed within 24 hours by the clinical signs of cardiac insult to
constitute causal relationship. (c) If a person who was apparently
asymptomatic before being subjected to strain at work showed signs and
symptoms of cardiac injury during the performance of his work and such
symptoms and signs persisted, it is reasonable to claim a causal
relationship.

A party in whose favor the legal presumption exists may rely on and
invoke such legal presumption to establish a fact in issue. The effect of a
presumption upon the burden of proof is to create the need of
presenting evidence to overcome the prima facie case created, thereby
which, if no contrary proof is offered, will prevail. However, other than
their bare and self-serving assertion that petitioner’s Hypertensive
Cardiovascular Disease was a mere complication of his Diabetes Mellitus
II, respondents failed to introduce countervailing evidence that would
otherwise overcome the disputable presumption of compensability of
the said disease.

Verily, it is not required that the employment of petitioner as Chief Cook


should be the sole factor in the development of his hypertensive
cardiovascular disease so as to entitle him to claim the benefits provided
therefor. It suffices that his employment as such had contributed, even in
a small degree, to the development of the disease. Thus, it is safe to
presume that, at the very least, the nature of petitioner’s employment
had contributed to the aggravation of his illness, considering that as Chief
Cook, he was exposed to constant temperature changes, stress, and
physical strain.

312 Administrative SILANG vs. G.R. No. Illegal Expenditure of As a general rule, public officials who are directly responsible for any
Law COMMISSION 213189. Public Funds/ illegal expenditure of public funds are personally liable therefor.
ON AUDIT September
8, 2015
Section 342, Chapter IV, Title V, Book II of the LGC states that the
superior officer directing, or the department head participating in the
illegal or improper use or application or deposit of government funds or
property, shall be jointly and severally liable with the local treasurer,
accountant, budget officer, or other accountable officer for the sum or
property so illegally or improperly used, applied or deposited.

Section 104, Chapter 5 of the Auditing Code provides that the treasurer
of the local government unit shall exercise the diligence of a good father
of a family in supervising the accountable officers under him; otherwise,
he shall be jointly and solidarily liable with them for the loss of
government funds or property under their control.

By way of exception, however, passive recipients or payees of disallowed


salaries, emoluments, benefits, and other allowances need not refund
such disallowed amounts if they received the same in good faith. Stated
otherwise, government officials and employees who unwittingly received
disallowed benefits or allowances are not liable for their reimbursement
if there is no finding of bad faith. In Lumayna v. COA, 601 SCRA 163
(2009), the Court declared that notwithstanding the disallowance of
benefits by COA, the affected personnel who received the said benefits in
good faith should not be ordered to refund the disallowed benefits.

Section 52, Chapter 9, Title I-B, Book V of the Administrative Code


expressly provides that persons who are directly responsible for the
illegal expenditures of public funds shall be liable: General Liability for
Unlawful Expenditures.—Expenditures of government funds or uses of
government property in violation of law or regulations shall be a personal
liability of the official or employee found to be directly responsible
therefor. [Emphasis supplied] This liability of government employees and
officials for illegal expenditures similarly finds support in the Local
Government Code, which imputes personal liability for unlawful
expenditures against the official or employee responsible for it, viz.:
Section 351. General Liability for Unlawful Expenditures.—Expenditures
of funds or use of property in violation of this Title and other laws shall
be a personal liability of the official or employee responsible therefor.

Under the local government code, an ordinance is necessary for the use
of local funds. The local chief executive prepares the budget proposal,
which is the basis for the budget to be enacted by the local Sanggunian.
As a rule, savings generated from the annual budget revert back to the
general fund. DBM Circular No. 2006-1 authorizes the local chief
executive and the Sanggunian to use savings from released Maintenance
and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) funds to grant cash incentives to
rank-and-file employees of the local government, through a CNA.

That these approving officers did not receive any of these funds is not
sufficient justification to absolve them from liability. The receipt or
nonreceipt of illegally disbursed funds is immaterial to the solidary
liability of government officials directly responsible therefor. We had the
occasion to rule on this point in the recent case Maritime Industry Audit
v. COA, 745 SCRA 300 (2015), where the Court En Banc held the
approving officers who acted in bad faith to be solidarily liable for the
return of the disallowed funds even if they did not receive any part of the
fund.

The only set of employees who are not obliged to reimburse the illegally
disbursed funds in the present case are its passive recipients, i.e., the
ordinary rank-and-file employees of the LGU of Tayabas, including the
UNGKAT members and officers who had no direct participation in the
negotiations. The reason for this conclusion is that they had been mere
passive recipients of good graces and they had (and still have) every right
to rely on the presumptions of regularity and good faith accorded to
public officers responsible for the disbursement and expenditure of
public funds. In particular, as mere passive recipients, they did not
actively take part in the CNA, had no responsibility to undertake in
carrying out the requirements for union registration and accreditation,
and could not have known the taints of irregularities that the funds
released to them carried.

313 Civil Law HALILI vs. G.R. No. Contracts Civil Law; Contracts; Applicable laws form part of, and are read into,
JUSTICE FOR 194906. contracts without need for any express reference thereto; more so, when
CHILDREN September it pertains to a labor contract which is imbued with public
INTERNATIONA 9, 2015 interest.—Applicable laws form part of, and are read into, contracts
L without need for any express reference thereto; more so, when it
pertains to a labor contract which is imbued with public interest. Each
contract thus contains not only what was explicitly stipulated therein, but
also the statutory provisions that have any bearing on the matter.

314 PEOPLE vs. G. R. No.


Dionado 194906

September
9, 2015

315 PEOPLE vs. H. R. No.


Dionado 207949

September
9, 2015

316 Agrarian LAND BANK OF G.R. No. Just Compensation / In the landmark case of Association of Small Landowners in the
Reform THE 172352. Market Value/ Philippines, Inc. v. Hon. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343
PHILIPPINES vs. September (1989), the Court defined the term “just compensation” as follows: Just
HABABAG 16, 2015.* compensation is defined as the full and fair equivalent of the property
taken from its owner by the expropriator. It has been repeatedly stressed
by this Court that the measure is not the taker’s gain but the owner’s
HABABAG vs. G.R. Nos. loss. The word “just” is used to intensify the meaning of the word
LAND BANK OF 172387-88 “compensation” to convey the idea that the equivalent to be rendered
THE September for the property to be taken shall be real, substantial, full [and] ample.
PHILIPPINES 16, 2015

The RTC, sitting as a Special Agrarian Court, has been conferred with the
original and exclusive power to determine just compensation for parcels
of land acquired by the State pursuant to the agrarian reform program.
To guide the RTC in this function, Section 17 of RA 6657 enumerates the
factors which must be taken into consideration to accurately determine
the amount of just compensation to be awarded in a particular case.
They are: (a) the acquisition cost of the land; (b) the current value of like
properties; (c) the nature and actual use of the property, and the income
therefrom; (d) the owner’s sworn valuation; (e) the tax declarations; (f)
the assessment made by government assessors; (g) the social and
economic benefits contributed by the farmers and the farmworkers, and
by the government to the property; and (h) the nonpayment of taxes or
loans secured from any government financing institution on the said
land, if any. Corollarily, pursuant to its rule-making power under Section
49 of the same law, the DAR translated these factors into a basic formula,
which courts have often referred to and applied, as the CA did in this
case. It, however, bears stressing that courts are not constrained to
adopt the said formula in every case since the determination of the
amount of just compensation essentially partakes the nature of a judicial
function. In this accord, courts may either adopt the DAR formula or
proceed with its own application for as long as the factors listed in
Section 17 of RA 6657 have been duly considered.
To elucidate, in determining the amount of just compensation for the
subject lands, the RTC applied the Income Productivity Approach which
approximated the income for the remaining productive life of the crops
therein, without considering the fortuitous events and plant diseases,
and with the expectation that they would be compensated by
developments which could be made by the property owner. The Court
has repeatedly ruled that the constitutional limitation of just
compensation is considered to be the sum equivalent of the market value
of the property, which is, in turn, defined as the price fixed by the seller
in open market in the usual and ordinary course of legal action and
competition, or the fair value of the property as between one who
receives and one who desires to sell it, fixed at the time of the actual
taking by the government. In this accord, therefore, the Court cannot
sustain the formula used by the RTC which was “based on the principle of
anticipation which implies that the value of a property is dependent on
the potential net benefit that may be derived from its ownership.”
Clearly, this approach, which is largely characterized by the element of
futurity, is inconsistent with the idea of valuing the expropriated
property at the time of the taking.

Since they generally live on a hand-to-mouth existence, their source of


repaying the just compensation is but derived out of their income from
their cultivation of the land. Hence, in order to be just, the compensation
for the land must be what the farmer-beneficiaries can reasonably afford
to pay based on what the land can produce. It would therefore be highly
inequitable that in the 30-year allowable period to pay the annual
amortizations for the lands, farmer-beneficiaries would be required to
pay for the same income they expect to earn therefrom on top of the
computed market value of the landholdings. Such could not have been
the intent of the State’s agrarian reform program. In fine, the Court
cannot sustain the RTC’s application of the Income Productivity Approach
used as one of its bases in arriving at its decreed valuation. Not only is
the same aversive to the jurisprudential concept of “market value,” but it
also deviates from the factors laid down in Section 17 of RA 6657 and
thus, remains legally baseless and unfounded.

317 Criminal Law; MALAYAN G. R. No. Office of the Solicitor The authority to represent the State in appeals of criminal cases before
INSURANCE 203370. General; the Court and the CA is vested solely in the OSG which is “the law office
COMPANY, April 11, of the Government whose specific powers and functions include that of
INC. vs. PHILIP
2016. representing the Republic and/or the People [of the Philippines] before
PICCIO Venue/ Libel any court in any action which affects the welfare of the people as the
ends of justice may require.” Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV
G.R. No. of the 1987 Administrative Code provides that: Section 35. Powers and
MALAYAN 215106. Functions.—The Office of the Solicitor General shall represent the
INSURANCE April 11, Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its
COMPANY, 2016 officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter
INC. vs. requiring the services of a lawyer, x x x. It shall have the following specific
PICCIO powers and functions: (1) Represent the Government in the Supreme
Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; represent the
Government and its officers in the Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals,
and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings
in which the Government or any officer thereof in his official capacity is a
party.
“Venue is jurisdictional in criminal actions such that the place where the
crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but
constitutes an essential element of jurisdiction. This principle acquires
even greater import in libel cases, given that Article 360 [of the RPC], as
amended [by Republic Act No. 4363], specifically provides for the
possible venues for the institution of the criminal and civil aspects of such
cases.”

Generally speaking, “the venue of libel cases where the complainant is a


private individual is limited to only either of two places, namely: 1) where
the complainant actually resides at the time of the commission of the
offense; or 2) where the alleged defamatory article was printed and first
published

318 Legal Ethics NULADA, vs. . A.C. No. Attorneys/Lawyer’s Canon 1 of the CPR mandates all members of the bar “to obey the laws of
PAULMA, 8172. Oath/ Suspension the land and promote respect for law x x x.” Rule 1.01 thereof specifically
April 12, from Practice of Law provides that “[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
2016 immoral or deceitful conduct.” By taking the lawyer’s oath, a lawyer
becomes a guardian of the law and an indispensable instrument for the
orderly administration of justice. As such, he can be disciplined for any
conduct, in his professional or private capacity, which renders him unfit
to continue to be an officer of the court.

In Heenan v. Espejo, 711 SCRA 290 (2013), the Court suspended therein
respondent from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years when
the latter issued checks which were dishonored due to insufficiency of
funds. In A-1 Financial Services, Inc. v. Valerio, 622 SCRA 616 (2010), the
same penalty was imposed by the Court to respondent who issued
worthless checks to pay off her loan. Likewise, in Dizon v. De Taza, 726
SCRA 70 (2014), the Court meted the penalty of suspension for a period
of two (2) years to respondent for having issued bouncing checks, among
other infractions. Finally, in Wong v. Moya II, 569 SCRA 256 (2008),
respondent was ordered suspended from the practice of law for a period
of two (2) years, because aside from issuing worthless checks and failure
to pay his debts, respondent also breached his client’s trust and
confidence to his personal advantage and had shown a wanton disregard
of the IBP’s Orders in the course of its proceedings. Accordingly, and in
view of the foregoing instances when the erring lawyer was suspended
for a period of two (2) years for the same violation, the Court finds it
appropriate to mete the same penalty to respondent in this case.

It should be emphasized that membership in the legal profession is a


privilege burdened with conditions. A lawyer is required to observe the
law and be mindful of his or her actions whether acting in a public or
private capacity. Any transgression of this duty on his part would not only
diminish his reputation as a lawyer but would also erode the public’s
faith in the legal profession as a whole. In this case, respondent’s conduct
fell short of the exacting standards expected of him as a member of the
bar, for which he must suffer the necessary consequences.

319 Remedial Law CONSULAR Prohibition/ While the instant petition is denominated as one for prohibition, a
AREA Injunction/ Quo careful perusal of the same reveals that it is actually a petition for
RESIDENTS G.R. No. Warranto/ injunction as it ultimately seeks that a writ of injunction be issued to
ASSOCIATION 202618. Demolitions/ permanently stop “[r]espondents, or any other person acting under their
vs. PACIANO April 12, Presumption of orders or authority, from carrying out, or causing to carry out, the
2016.* Regularity demolition of [p]etitioner’s properties.” More significantly, respondents
(with the exception of Casanova as will be herein discussed) are not
asked to be prevented from exercising any judicial or ministerial function
on account of any lack or excess of jurisdiction, or grave abuse of
discretion, which allegation is key in an action for prohibition. Case law
dictates that “[f]or a party to be entitled to a writ of prohibition, he must
establish the following requisites: (a) it must be directed against a
tribunal, corporation, board or person exercising functions, judicial[,
quasi-judicial] or ministerial; (b) the tribunal, corporation, board or
person has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave
abuse of discretion; and (c) there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy,
and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.”

It is a fundamental rule of procedural law that it is not the caption of the


pleading that determines the nature of the complaint but rather its
allegations. Hence, considering the above discussed allegations, the
petition, albeit denominated as one for prohibition, is essentially an
action for injunction, which means that Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court would not apply. Instead, it is Section 21 of RA 7227, which solely
authorizes the Supreme Court to issue injunctions to restrain or enjoin
“[t]he implementation of the projects for the conversion into alternative
productive uses of the military reservations,” that would govern: Section
21. Injunction and Restraining Order.—The implementation of the
projects for the conversion into alternative productive uses of the
military reservations are urgent and necessary and shall not be restrained
or enjoined except by an order issued by the Supreme Court of the
Philippines.

The Court observes that the collateral attack on respondent Casanova’s


title as President and Chief Executive Officer, which is a public office by
nature is improper to resolve in this petition. The title to a public office
may not be contested except directly, by quo warranto proceedings; and
it cannot be assailed collaterally. Also, it has already been settled that
prohibition does not lie to inquire into the validity of the appointment of
a public officer. In fact, petitioner impliedly recognized the impropriety of
raising this issue herein by stating that “until the final resolution
regarding the purported authority of [respondent Casanova], he should
be prohibited from acting for and on behalf of BCDA and from issuing
notices of demolition.” Thus, at all events, the foregoing characterization
of this action as one for injunction, and the consequent conclusion that it
was properly filed before the Court remain. That being said, the Court
now proceeds to the main issue in this case.

Jurisprudence teaches that in order for a writ of injunction to issue, the


petitioner should be able to establish: (a) a right in esse or a clear and
unmistakable right to be protected; (b) a violation of that right; and (c)
that there is an urgent and permanent act and urgent necessity for the
writ to prevent serious damage. In the absence of a clear legal right, the
writ must not issue. A restraining order or an injunction is a preservative
remedy aimed at protecting substantial rights and interests, and it is not
designed to protect contingent or future rights. Verily, the possibility of
irreparable damage without proof of adequate existing rights is not a
ground for injunction.

For another, petitioner argues against the legality of the intended


demolition, insisting that there should be a court order authorizing the
demolition pursuant to Article 536 of the Civil Code and Section 28 of RA
7279, and not a mere Certificate of Compliance on Demolition. However,
contrary to petitioner’s argument, the Court has already settled, in the
case of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, Inc. v. Robredo, 730 SCRA
322 (2014), that demolitions and evictions may be validly carried out
even without a judicial order when, among others, government
infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be
implemented pursuant to Section 28(b) of RA 7279, which reads: Sec. 28.
Eviction and Demolition.—Eviction or demolition as a practice shall be
discouraged. Eviction or demolition, however, may be allowed under the
following situations: (a) When persons or entities occupy danger areas
such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines,
waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and
playgrounds; (b) When government infrastructure projects with available
funding are about to be implemented; or (c) When there is a court order
for eviction and demolition.

RBereft of any clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, such


certificate should be accorded the presumption of regularity in the
performance of the official duties of respondent Local Housing Board of
Taguig City. Case law states that “[t]he presumption of regularity of
official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or
failure to perform a duty. The presumption, however, prevails until it is
overcome by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
Thus, unless the presumption is rebutted, it becomes conclusive. Every
reasonable intendment will be made in support of the presumption and
in case of doubt as to an officer’s act being lawful or unlawful,
construction should be in favor of its lawfulness,” as in this case.

320 Remedial Law PACIFIC G.R. No. Parties / Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court allows the substitution of a
REHOUSE 214934. Consolidation of party-litigant who dies during the pendency of a case by his heirs,
CORPORATION April 12, Cases provided that the claim subject of said case is not extinguished by his
vs NGO 2016. death. As early as in Bonilla v. Barcena, 71 SCRA 491 (1976), the Court
has settled that if the claim in an action affects property and property
rights, then the action survives the death of a party-litigant, viz.: The
question as to whether an action survives or not depends on the nature
of the action and the damage sued for. In the causes of action which
survive the wrong complained affects primarily and principally property
and property rights, the injuries to the person being merely incidental,
while in the causes of action which do not survive the injury complained
of is to the person, the property and rights of property affected being
incidental.

In sum, the CA erred in dismissing Civil Case No. 2031-08 based solely on
Bautista’s death. As such, it should be reinstated and consolidated with
LRC Case No. 1117-09, considering that the two cases involve the same
property and, as correctly opined by the court a quo, any adjudication in
either case would necessarily affect the other. In this relation, case law
states that consolidation of cases, when proper, results in the
simplification of proceedings, which saves time, the resources of the
parties and the courts, and a possible major abbreviation of trial. It is a
desirable end to be achieved, within the context of the present state of
affairs where court dockets are full and individual and state finances are
limited. It contributes to the swift dispensation of justice, and is in accord
with the aim of affording the parties a just, speedy, and inexpensive
determination of their cases before the courts. Likewise, it avoids the
possibility of conflicting decisions being rendered by the courts in two or
more cases which would otherwise require a single judgment.

321 Legal Ethics PHILCOMSAT* A. C. No. Criminal Contempt/ At the outset, the Court notes that the indirect contempt case originally
* HOLDINGS 11139. Disbarment / filed before the Sandiganbayan is in the nature of a criminal contempt.
CORPORATION Penalties “[C]riminal contempt is conduct that is directed against the dignity and
April 19,
vs. LOKIN authority of the court or a judge acting judicially; it is an act obstructing
2016
the administration of justice which tends to bring the court into
disrespute or disrespect.” “[C]riminal contempt, being directed against
the dignity and authority of the court, is an offense against organized
society and, in addition, is also held to be an offense against public justice
which raises an issue between the public and the accused, and the
proceedings to punish it are punitive.”

Since the indirect contempt case is criminal in nature, respondents


cannot insist that the filing of an administrative case against them on the
basis of the Sandiganbayan’s ruling in the aforesaid case is premature on
the premise that their conviction has not attained finality. It is
well-settled that a disbarment proceeding is separate and distinct from a
criminal action filed against a lawyer despite being involved in the same
set of facts. Case law instructs that a finding of guilt in the criminal case
will not necessarily result in a finding of liability in the administrative
case. Conversely, the lawyer’s acquittal does not necessarily exculpate
them administratively.

As members of the Bar, respondents should not perform acts that would
tend to undermine and/or denigrate the integrity of the courts, such as
the subject checkbook entry which contumaciously imputed corruption
against the Sandiganbayan. It is their sworn duty as lawyers and officers
of the court to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts. Respect for
the courts guarantees the stability of the judicial institution; without this
guarantee, the institution would be resting on very shaky foundations.
This is the very thrust of Canon 11 of the CPR, which provides that “[a]
lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to
judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.” Hence,
lawyers who are remiss in performing such sworn duty violate the
aforesaid Canon 11, and as such, should be held administratively liable
and penalized accordingly, as in this case.

Canon 7 of the CPR commands every lawyer to “at all times uphold the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession” for the strength of the legal
profession lies in the dignity and integrity of its members. It is every
lawyer’s duty to maintain the high regard to the profession by staying
true to his oath and keeping his actions beyond reproach. It must be
reiterated that as an officer of the court, it is a lawyer’s sworn and moral
duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and
regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of
justice; as acts and/or omissions emanating from lawyers which tend to
undermine the judicial edifice is disastrous to the continuity of the
government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people. Thus, all
lawyers should be bound not only to safeguard the good name of the
legal profession, but also to keep inviolable the honor, prestige, and
reputation of the judiciary. In this case, respondents compromised the
integrity of the judiciary by maliciously imputing corrupt motives against
the Sandiganbayan through the subject checkbook entry. Clearly,
respondents also violated Canon 7 of the CPR and, thus, should be held
administratively liable therefor.

Anent the proper penalty to be meted to respondents, jurisprudence


provides that in similar cases where lawyers perform acts which tend to
erode the public confidence in the courts, put the courts in a bad light,
and bring the justice system into disrepute, the Court imposed upon
them the penalty of suspension from the practice of law. In Baculi v.
Battung, 658 SCRA 209 (2011), the Court meted the aforesaid penalty to
a lawyer for his disrespect to the courts, to the point of being scandalous
and offensive to the integrity of the judicial system itself. Under the
foregoing circumstances, the Court imposes upon Atty. Labastilla the
penalty of suspension from the practice of law for a period of one (1)
year for his complicity in the making of the subject checkbook entry. On
the other hand, since Atty. Lokin, Jr. was the one directly responsible for
the making of the subject checkbook entry, the Court deems it
appropriate to impose upon him the graver penalty of suspension from
the practice of law for a period of three (3) years, as recommended by
the IBP.

322 Labor Law WILLIAM GO G.R. No. Quitclaims/ Pleadings At the outset, it should be pointed out that in a Resolution dated July 15,
QUE 191699. and Practice/ 2010, the CA had already dismissed the petition for certiorari in C.A.-G.R.
CONSTRUCTIO April 19, Certification Against S.P. No. 109427 with respect to private respondents Singson and Pasaqui
N vs. COURT 2016 Forum Shopping/ on account of the Satisfaction of Judgment/Release of Claim they
OF APPEALS Verification/ executed in petitioner’s favor subsequent to the filing of the instant case.
Certification Against Notably, Singson and Pasaqui, thru their counsel, Atty. Perez, moved that
Forum Shopping the instant petition be dismissed, without prejudice to the claims of the
other private respondents, Lominiqui and Andales, who are “on the run.”
The settled rule is that legitimate waivers resulting from voluntary
settlements of laborers’ claims should be treated and upheld as the law
between the parties. In view of the foregoing developments, there is no
longer any justiciable controversy between petitioner and private
respondents Singson and Pasaqui, rendering the instant case moot and
academic, and dismissible with respect to them.

Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure states that “[a] pleading
is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that
the allegations therein are true and correct of his personal knowledge or
based on authentic records.” “A pleading required to be verified which
x x x lacks a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.”
Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[t]he
plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or
other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn
certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that
he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim
involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency
and to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is
pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a
complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should
thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or
is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the
court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been
filed.” “Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be
curable by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory
pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without
prejudice, unless otherwise provided.

In Fernandez v. Villegas, 733 SCRA 548 (2014), the Court pronounced that
noncompliance with the verification requirement or a defect therein
“does not necessarily render the pleading fatally defective. The court
may order its submission or correction or act on the pleading if the
attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the Rule
may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may be served
thereby.” “Verification is deemed substantially complied with when one
who has ample knowledge to swear to the truth of the allegations in the
complaint or petition signs the verification, and when matters alleged in
the petition have been made in good faith or are true and correct.” Here,
there was no substantial compliance with the verification requirement as
it cannot be ascertained that any of the private respondents actually
swore to the truth of the allegations in the petition for certiorari in
C.A.-G.R. S.P. No. 109427 given the lack of competent evidence of any of
their identities. Because of this, the fact that even one of the private
respondents swore that the allegations in the pleading are true and
correct of his knowledge and belief is shrouded in doubt. For the same
reason, neither was there substantial compliance with the certification
against forum shopping requirement. In Fernandez, the Court explained
that “noncompliance therewith or a defect therein, unlike in verification,
is generally not curable by its subsequent submission or correction
thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of
‘substantial compliance’ or presence of ‘special circumstances or
compelling reasons.’” Here, the CA did not mention — nor does there
exist — any perceivable special circumstance or compelling reason which
justifies the rules’ relaxation. At all events, it is uncertain if any of the
private respondents certified under oath that no similar action has been
filed or is pending in another forum.

Case law states that “[v]erification is required to secure an assurance that


the allegations in the petition have been made in good faith or are true
and correct, and not merely speculative.” On the other hand, “[t]he
certification against forum shopping is required based on the principle
that a party-litigant should not be allowed to pursue simultaneous
remedies in different fora.” The important purposes behind these
requirements cannot be simply brushed aside absent any sustainable
explanation justifying their relaxation. In this case, proper justification is
especially called for in light of the serious allegations of forgery as to the
signatures of the remaining private respondents, i.e., Lominiqui and
Andales. Thus, by simply treating the insufficient submissions before it as
compliance with its Resolution dated August 13, 2009 requiring anew the
submission of a proper verification/certification against forum shopping,
the CA patently and grossly ignored settled procedural rules and, hence,
gravely abused its discretion. All things considered, the proper course of
action was for it to dismiss the petition.

It is well to stress that “procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere


technicalities that may be ignored at will to suit the convenience of a
party, x x x. Justice has to be administered according to the Rules in order
to obviate arbitrariness, caprice, or whimsicality.” Resort to the liberal
application of procedural rules remains the exception rather than the
rule; it cannot be made without any valid reasons underpinning the said
course of action. To merit liberality, the one seeking such treatment must
show reasonable cause justifying its noncompliance with the Rules, and
must establish that the outright dismissal of the petition would defeat
the administration of substantial justice. Procedural rules must, at all
times, be followed, save for instances when a litigant must be rescued
from an injustice far graver than the degree of his carelessness in not
complying with the prescribed procedure. The limited exception does not
obtain in this case.

323 Remedial Law REPUBLIC vs. G.R. No. Doctrine of Under the doctrine of finality and immutability of judgments, a decision
DAGONDON 210540. Immutability of Final that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and may
April 19, Judgments no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to
Civil Law
2016 correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law, and whether it will be made
by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. Upon
Reconstitution of finality of the judgment, the Court loses its jurisdiction to amend, modify
Titles or alter the same. The mandatory character, however, of the rule on
immutability of final judgments was not designed to be an inflexible tool
to excuse and overlook prejudicial circumstances. Hence, the doctrine
must yield to practicality, logic, fairness, and substantial
justice. In Sumbilla v. Matrix Finance Corporation, 760 SCRA 532 (2015),
the Court had the occasion to name certain circumstances which
necessitate a relaxation of the rule on the immutability of final
judgments.

Republic Act (RA) No. 26 governs the process by which a judicial


reconstitution of Torrens Certificates of Title may be done. Specifically,
Section 2 of the said law enumerates in the following order the
competent and exclusive sources from which reconstitution of an OCT
may be based, viz.: Section 2. Original certificates of title shall be
reconstituted from such of the sources hereunder enumerated as may be
available, in the following order: (a) The owner’s duplicate of the
certificate of title; (b) The co-owner’s, mortgagee’s, or lessee’s duplicate
of the certificate of title; (c) A certified copy of the certificate of title,
previously issued by the register of deeds or by a legal custodian thereof;
(d) An authenticated copy of the decree of registration or patent, as the
case may be, pursuant to which the original certificate of title was issued;
(e) A document, on file in the registry of deeds, by which the property,
the description of which is given in said document, is mortgaged, leased
or encumbered, or an authenticated copy of said document showing that
its original had been registered; and (f) Any other document which, in
the judgment of the court, is sufficient and proper basis for
reconstituting the lost or destroyed certificate of title.

Verily, case law provides that “[t]he reconstitution of a certificate of title


denotes restoration in the original form and condition of a lost or
destroyed instrument attesting the title of a person to a piece of land.
The purpose of the reconstitution of title is to have, after observing the
procedures prescribed by law, the title reproduced in exactly the same
way it has been when the loss or destruction occurred. RA 26
presupposes that the property whose title is sought to be reconstituted
has already been brought under the provisions of the Torrens
System.” Hence, under the aforesaid law, the following must be present
for an order for reconstitution to issue: (a) that the certificate of title had
been lost or destroyed; (b) that the documents presented by petitioner
are sufficient and proper to warrant reconstitution of the lost or
destroyed certificate of title; (c) that the petitioner is the registered
owner of the property or had an interest therein; (d) that the certificate
of title was in force at the time it was lost and destroyed; and (e) that the
description, area and boundaries of the property are substantially the
same as those contained in the lost or destroyed certificate of title. Thus,
petitioner correctly pointed out that the applicability of RA 26 in this case
is contingent on the existence of a previously issued OCT which has been
lost or destroyed.
324 Labor Law PNCC SKYWAY G.R. No. Termination of Closure of business is an authorized cause for termination of
CORPORATION 213299. Employment / employment, Article 298 (formerly, Article 283) of the Labor Code, as
vs. THE April 19, Nominal Damages / amended, reads: ART. 298. Closure of Establishment and Reduction of
Remedial Law SECRETARY OF 2016 Grave Abuse of Personnel.—The employer may also terminate the employment of any
LABOR AND Discretion employee due to the installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy,
EMPLOYMENT retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation
and PNCC of the establishment or undertaking unless the closing is for the purpose
SKYWAY of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by serving a written notice
CORPORATION on the workers and the Ministry of Labor and Employment at least one
EMPLOYEES (1)-month before the intended date thereof. x x x. In case of
UNION retrenchment to prevent losses and in cases of closures or cessation of
operations of establishment or undertaking not due to serious business
losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one
(1)-month pay or to at least one-half (1/2)-month pay for every year of
service, whichever is higher. A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be
considered one (1) whole year. (Emphases supplied) In this relation,
jurisprudence provides that “[t]he determination to cease operations is a
prerogative of management which the State does not usually interfere
with, as no business or undertaking must be required to continue
operating simply because it has to maintain its workers in employment,
and such act would be tantamount to a taking of property without due
process of law. As long as the company’s exercise of the same is in good
faith to advance its interest and not for the purpose of circumventing the
rights of employees under the law or a valid agreement, such exercise
will be upheld.”
Procedurally, Article 298 (formerly, Article 283) of the Labor Code, as
amended provides for three (3) requirements to properly effectuate
termination on the ground of closure or cessation of business operations.
These are: (a) service of a written notice to the employees and to the
DOLE at least one (1) month before the intended date of termination; (b)
the cessation of business must be bona fide in character; and (c) payment
to the employees of termination pay amounting to one (1)-month pay or
at least one-half-month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher.

Case law has settled that an employer who terminates an employee for a
valid cause but does so through invalid procedure is liable to pay the
latter nominal damages. In Agabon v. National Labor Relations
Commission, 442 SCRA 573 (2004), the Court pronounced that, where
the dismissal is for a just cause, the lack of statutory due process should
not nullify the dismissal, or render it illegal, or ineffectual. However, the
employer should indemnify the employee for the violation of his
statutory rights. Thus, in Agabon, the employer was ordered to pay the
employee nominal damages in the amount of P30,000.00. Proceeding
from the same ratio, the Court modified Agabon in the case of Jaka Food
Processing Corporation v. Pacot, 454 SCRA 119 (2005), where it created a
distinction between procedurally defective dismissals due to a just cause,
on the one hand, and those due to an authorized cause, on the other.
In Jaka, it was explained that if the dismissal is based on a just cause
under Article 282 (now, Article 297) of the Labor Code but the employer
failed to comply with the notice requirement, the sanction to be imposed
upon him should be tempered because the dismissal process was, in
effect, initiated by an act imputable to the employee; if the dismissal is
based on an authorized cause under Article 283 (now,

Article 298) of the Labor Code but the employer failed to comply with the
notice requirement, the sanction should be stiffer because the dismissal
process was initiated by the employer’s exercise of his management
prerogative. Hence, in Jaka, where the employee was dismissed for an
authorized cause of retrenchment — as contradistinguished from the
employee in Agabon who was dismissed for a just cause of neglect of
duty — the Court ordered the employer to pay the employee nominal
damages at the higher amount of P50,000.00.

Ultimately, it was within PSC’s prerogative and discretion as employer to


retain the services of its employees for one month after the turn-over
date to SOMCO and to continue paying their salaries and benefits
corresponding to that period even when there is no more work to be
done, if only “to ensure a smooth transition and gradual phasing in of the
new operator, which had yet to familiarize itself with the business.” Case
law teaches that an employer may opt not to require the dismissed
employees to report for work during the 30-day notice period.

All told, considering that PSC had complied with Article 298 (formerly,
Article 283) of the Labor Code, as amended, the indemnity award in favor
of the terminated employees was grossly improper and must therefore
be nullified, in this respect, the DOLE Secretary gravely abused its
discretion and the CA erred in ruling otherwise. When, a lower court or
tribunal patently violates the Constitution, the law, or existing
jurisprudence, grave abuse of discretion is committed, as in this case.

325 Administrative OFFICE OF THE G.R. No. Misconduct/ Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule of
Law OMBUDSMAN- 215994. Dishonesty/ Conduct action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a
FIELD June 6, Prejudicial to the Best public officer. To constitute an administrative offense, misconduct should
INVESTIGATIO 2016. Interest of the Service relate to or be connected with the performance of the official functions
N OFFICE vs. and duties of a public officer. The misconduct is considered as grave if it
FALLER involves additional elements such as corruption or willful intent to violate
the law or to disregard established rules, which must be proven by
substantial evidence; otherwise, the misconduct is only simple.
Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the act of an
official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his station
or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another person,
contrary to duty and the rights of others.

Dishonesty is defined as the concealment or distortion of truth in a


matter of fact relevant to one’s office or connected with the
performance of his duty. It implies a disposition to lie, cheat, deceive or
defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity, or
integrity in principle; and lack of fairness and
straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray.

Faller’s mistakes and/or the irregularities involved in the contested


disbursements which he actually received resulted in an anomaly that
tainted the public’s perception of his office, thereby subjecting him to
administrative liability for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the
service. Jurisprudence states that acts may constitute conduct prejudicial
to the best interest of the service as long as they tarnish the image and
integrity of his/her public office, as in this case.

Simple misconduct is classified as a less grave offense punishable by


suspension for a period of one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6)
months for the first offense, while conduct prejudicial to the best interest
of the service is classified as a grave offense punishable by suspension for
a period of six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year for the first
offense. Under Section 50 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in
the Civil Service, if the respondent is found guilty of two (2) or more
charges, the penalty for the most serious charge shall be imposed and
the other charges shall be considered as aggravating circumstances.
Likewise, under Section 49 of the same Rules, the maximum of the
penalty shall be imposed where only aggravating and no mitigating
circumstances are present, as in this case. Accordingly, the Court concurs
with the CA that the penalty of suspension for one (1) year must be
imposed upon Faller, and, conformably with Section 52 of the same
Rules, meted the accessory penalty of disqualification from promotion
for the entire period of the suspension.

326 Attorneys EUSTAQUIO A. C. No. Practice of Law/ It is settled that the Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the
Willful Disobedience practice of law. As such, when the Court orders a lawyer suspended from
vs. NAVALES 10465. to Lawful Order of a the practice of law, he must desist from performing all functions
Superior Court/ requiring the application of legal knowledge within the period of
June 8,
suspension. This includes desisting from holding a position in government
2016
requiring the authority to practice law. The practice of law embraces any
activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
procedure, knowledge, training, and experience. It includes performing
acts which are characteristic of the legal profession, or rendering any
kind of service which requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge
or skill.

Section 9 of Republic Act No. (RA) 10071, otherwise known as the


“Prosecution Service Act of 2010,” provides the powers and functions of
prosecutors, to wit: Section 9. Powers and Functions of the Provincial
Prosecutor or City Prosecutor.—The provincial prosecutor or the city
prosecutor shall: (a) Be the law officer of the province of the city officer,
as the case may be; (b) Investigate and/or cause to be investigated all
charges of crimes, misdemeanors and violations of penal laws and
ordinances within their respective
jurisdictions, and have the necessary information or complaint
prepared or made and filed against the persons accused. In the conduct
of such investigations he/she or any of his/her assistants shall receive the
statements under oath or take oral evidence of witnesses, and for this
purpose may by subpoena summon witnesses to appear and testify
under oath before him/her, and the attendance or evidence of an absent
or recalcitrant witness may be enforced by application to any trial court;
and (c) Have charge of the prosecution of all crimes, misdemeanors and
violations of city or municipal ordinances in the courts at the province or
city and therein discharge all the duties incident to the institution of
criminal actions, subject to the provisions of the second paragraph of
Section 5 hereof. Verily, a plain reading of the foregoing provision
evidently shows that the government office of Assistant City Prosecutor
requires its holder to be authorized to practice law. Hence, respondent’s
continuous discharge of his functions as such constitutes practice of law
and, thus, a clear defiance of the Court’s order of suspension against him.

Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, willful disobedience to
any lawful order of a superior court and wilfully appearing as an attorney
without authority to do so — acts which respondent is guilty of in this
case — are grounds for disbarment or suspension from the practice of
law, to wit: Section 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by
Supreme Court; grounds therefor.—A member of the bar may be
disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme
Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is
required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or
willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority
so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain,
either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
malpractice.

As a final note, it must be stressed that “[d]isbarment of lawyers is a


proceeding that aims to purge the law profession of unworthy members
of the bar. It is intended to preserve the nobility and honor of the legal
profession. While the Supreme Court has the plenary power to discipline
erring lawyers through this kind of proceedings, it does so in the most
vigilant manner so as not to frustrate its preservative principle. The
Court, in the exercise of its sound judicial discretion, is inclined to impose
a less severe punishment if, through it, the end desire of reforming the
errant lawyer is possible.”

327 Attorneys FACTURAN vs. A. C. No. Disbarment/ The Court concurs with the IBP’s factual findings and recommendation to
BARCELONA, 11069. hold respondent administratively liable, but not for violating Rule 18.03,
JR Canon 18 of the CPR, but instead, of Rule 6.02, Canon 6 of the same
June 8,
Code. The pertinent rules provide: CANON 6 – THESE CANONS SHALL
2016.
APPLY TO LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE IN THE DISCHARGE OF
THEIR OFFICIAL TASKS. x x x x Rule 6.02 – A lawyer in the government
service shall not use his public position to promote or advance his private
interests, nor allow the latter to interfere with his public duties.
Generally, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be
disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct in the discharge of his
duties as a government official. He may be disciplined by this Court as a
member of the Bar only when his misconduct also constitutes a violation
of his oath as a lawyer. In this regard, Rule 6.02 above quoted is
particularly directed to lawyers in the government service, enjoining
them from using one’s public position to: (1) promote private interests;
(2) advance private interests; or (3) allow private interests to interfere
with public duties.
Absent any intelligent explanation as regards his lapses in the handling of
I.S. No. 04-211 and his failure to timely return the case records thereof
for further action, despite the directive to do so, it can only be inferred
that respondent not merely failed, but obstinately and deliberately
refused to perform his duties as a prosecutor. Such refusal, under the
circumstances, evidently worked to the advantage of the respondents in
I.S. No. 04-21.1 — which included respondent’s cousin, Elezar — as the
absence of the case records in the office of the Provincial Prosecutor
resulted in the delay in the filing of the appropriate criminal information
in court against them. Hence, it is apparent that respondent used his
public position as a prosecutor to advance and protect the private
interest of his relative, which is clearly proscribed in the CPR.

Indeed, respondent’s actions and omissions in this case, i.e., his failure to
resolve I.S. No. 04-211 and to turn over the case records thereof despite
orders to do so, appear to have been committed for the benefit of and to
safeguard private interests. As a lawyer who is also a public officer,
respondent miserably failed to cope with the strict demands and high
standards of the legal profession. It bears stressing that a lawyer in public
office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which
might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in
government, he must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all
times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise
said, a lawyer in government service is a keeper of the public faith and is
burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than
her brethren in private practice. Accordingly, the Court finds that
suspension for a period of one (1) year, as recommended by the IBP,
should be meted upon respondent.

474 Remedial law CURAMMENG G.R. No. Petition for Review/ Appeals of cases decided by the RTCs in the exercise of its appellate
vs. PEOPLE OF 219510. Appeals/ Liberal jurisdiction are taken by filing a petition for review under Rule 42 of the
THE November Interpretation Rules of Court. Section 2, thereof, provides that such petitions shall be
PHILIPPINES 14, 2016 accompanied by, inter alia, material portions of the record which would
support the allegations of said petitions as well as a certification of
non-forum shopping.

It must be stressed that since a petition for review is a form of appeal,


noncompliance with the foregoing rule may render the same dismissible.
This is in furtherance of the well-settled rule that “the right to appeal is
not a natural right or a part of due process; it is merely a statutory
privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance
with the provisions of law. A party who seeks to avail of the right must,
therefore, comply with the requirements of the rules, failing which the
right to appeal is invariably lost.”

Nevertheless, if a rigid application of the rules of procedure will tend to


obstruct rather than serve the broader interests of justice in light of the
prevailing circumstances of the case, such as where strong considerations
of substantive justice are manifest in the petition, the Court may relax
the strict application of the rules of procedure in the exercise of its equity
jurisdiction.
Procedural rules may be relaxed for the most persuasive of reasons in
order to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate with the
degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure
prescribed. Corollarily, the rule, which states that the mistakes of counsel
bind the client, may not be strictly followed where observance of it
would result in the outright deprivation of the client’s liberty or property,
or where the interest of justice so requires.

475 Remedial Law EVANGELISTA G.R. No. Evidence/ Burden of In civil cases, it is a basic rule that the party making allegations has the
vs. ANDOLONG 221770. Proof/ burden of proving them by a preponderance of evidence. Also, parties
III November Preponderance of must rely on the strength of their own evidence, not upon the weakness
16, 2016 Evidence/ of the defense offered by their opponent. This principle equally holds
true, even if the defendant was not given the opportunity to present
Temperate Damages
evidence because of a default order.

“Preponderance of evidence is the weight, credit, and value of the


aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be
synonymous with the term ‘greater weight of the evidence’ or ‘greater
weight of the credible evidence.’ Preponderance of evidence is a phrase
which, in the last analysis, means probability of the truth. It is evidence
which is more convincing to the court as worthier of belief than that
which is offered in opposition thereto.”

whether such failure was intentional or not — raises the presumption


that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if
produced.—Respondents opted not to shed light on the issues at hand as
they, unwittingly or otherwise, waived their right to present evidence in
this case. In this light, the Court is thus left with no option but to rule that
the respondents’ failure to present the documents in their possession —
whether such failure was intentional or not — raises the presumption
that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced.

Under the fofregoing circumstances, the Court is convinced that Nanito


should have received remittances representing net profits from
respondents, albeit he failed to prove the exact amount he should
receive from the latter. In Seven Brothers Shipping Corporation v.
DMC-Construction Resources, Inc., 743 SCRA 33 (2014), the Court
allowed the recovery of temperate damages in instances where it has
been established that some pecuniary loss has been suffered, but its
amount cannot be proven with certainty.

476 Legal Ethics BELO-HENARES A.C. No. Social Media/ Facebook is currently the most popular social media site, having
vs. GUEVARRA, 11394. Facebook surpassed one (1) billion registered accounts and with 1.71 billion
December monthly active users. Social media are web-based platforms that enable
Constitution 1, 2016 online interaction and facilitate users to generate and share content.
Freedom of There are various classifications of social media platforms and one can be
Expression classified under the “social networking sites” such as Facebook. Facebook
is a “voluntary social network to which members subscribe and submit
information. x x x It has a worldwide forum enabling friends to share
information such as thoughts, links, and photographs, with one another.”
Users register at this site, create a personal profile or an open book of
who they are, add other users as friends, and exchange messages,
including automatic notifications when they update their profile. A user
can post a statement, a photo, or a video on Facebook, which can be
made visible to anyone, depending on the user’s privacy settings.

To address concerns about privacy, but without defeating its purpose,


Facebook was armed with different privacy tools designed to regulate
the accessibility of a user’s profile, as well as information uploaded by
the user. In H v. W, the South Gauteng High Court of Johannesburg,
Republic of South Africa recognized this ability of the users to “customize
their privacy settings,” but with the cautionary advice that although
Facebook, as stated in its policies, “makes every effort to protect a user’s
information, these privacy settings are however not foolproof.”
Consequently,before one can have an expectation of privacy in his or her
online social networking activity — in this case, Facebook — it is first
necessary that said user manifests the intention to keep certain posts
private, through the employment of measures to prevent access thereto
or to limit its visibility. This intention can materialize in cyberspace
through the utilization of Facebook’s privacy tools. In other words,
utilization of these privacy tools is the manifestation, in the cyber world,
of the user’s invocation of his or her right to informational privacy.

Restricting the privacy of one’s Facebook posts to “Friends” does not


guarantee absolute protection from the prying eyes of another user who
does not belong to one’s circle of friends. The user’s own Facebook friend
can share said content or tag his or her own Facebook friend thereto,
regardless of whether the user tagged by the latter is Facebook friends or
not with the former. Also, when the post is shared or when a person is
tagged, the respective Facebook friends of the person who shared the
post or who was tagged can view the post, the privacy setting of which
was set at “Friends.” Under the circumstances, therefore, respondent’s
claim of violation of right to privacy is negated.

Time and again, it has been held that the freedom of speech and of
expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute. While the
freedom of expression and the right of speech and of the press are
among the most zealously protected rights in the Constitution, every
person exercising them, as the Civil Code stresses, is obliged to act with
justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. As
such, the constitutional right of freedom of expression may not be
availed of to broadcast lies or half-truths, insult others, destroy their
name or reputation or bring them into disrepute. A punctilious scrutiny
of the Facebook remarks complained of disclosed that they were
ostensibly made with malice tending to insult and tarnish the reputation
of complainant and BMGI. Calling complainant a “quack doctor,” “Reyna
ng Kaplastikan,” “Reyna ng Payola,” and “Reyna ng Kapalpakan,” and
insinuating that she has been bribing people to destroy respondent
smacks of bad faith and reveals an intention to besmirch the name and
reputation of complainant, as well as BMGI. Respondent also ascribed
criminal negligence upon complainant and BMGI by posting that
complainant disfigured (“binaboy”) his client Norcio, labeling BMGI a
“Frankenstein Factory,” and calling out a boycott of BMGI’s services all
these despite the pendency of the criminal cases that Norcio had already
filed against complainant. He even threatened complainant with
conviction for criminal negligence and estafa — which is contrary to
one’s obligation “to act with justice.”

By posting the subject remarks on Facebook directed at complainant and


BMGI, respondent disregarded the fact that, as a lawyer, he is bound to
observe proper decorum at all times, be it in his public or private life. He
overlooked the fact that he must behave in a manner befitting of an
officer of the court, that is, respectful, firm, and decent. Instead, he acted
inappropriately and rudely; he used words unbecoming of an officer of
the law, and conducted himself in an aggressive way by hurling insults
and maligning complainant’s and BMGI’s reputation.

That complainant is a public figure and/or a celebrity and therefore, a


public personage who is exposed to criticism does not justify
respondent’s disrespectful language. It is the cardinal condition of all
criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of
decency and propriety. In this case, respondent’s remarks against
complainant breached the said walls, for which reason the former must
be administratively sanctioned.

“Lawyers may be disciplined even for any conduct committed in their


private capacity, as long as their misconduct reflects their want of probity
or good demeanor, a good character being an essential qualification for
the admission to the practice of law and for continuance of such
privilege. When the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Rules of
Court speaks of conduct or misconduct, the reference is not confined to
one’s behavior exhibited in connection with the performance of lawyers’
professional duties, but also covers any misconduct, which — albeit
unrelated to the actual practice of their profession — would show them
to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which their
license and the law invest in them.” Accordingly, the Court finds that
respondent should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of
one (1) year, as originally recommended by the IBP-CBD, with a stern
warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with
more severely.

477 Remedial Law; AYSON vs. H. R. No. Remedial Law; Civil Verily, the finding of Fil-Estate and Fairways’ bad faith as well as their
FIL-ESTATE 223254. Procedure; Appeals liability for moral damages, exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees, are
PROPERTIES, December all factual matters which are not within the ambit of the instant petition
INC., 1, 2016 for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. In this
regard, it has long been settled that factual findings of the trial court,
affirmed by the CA, are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on
FIL-ESTATE G.R. No. appeal, save for certain exceptions, which Fil-Estate and Fairways failed
PROPERTIES, 223269. to show in this case — at least regarding this issue
INC., vs. December
AYSON 1, 2016

478 Administrative CAMBE vs. G. R. Nos. Public Officers / The administrative aspect of the cases against Cambe and Sen. Revilla in
Case OFFICE OF THE 212014-15 Probable Cause/ relation to the COA’s audit is clearly separate and distinct from the
OMBUDSMAN Ill-gotten wealth/ criminal aspect covering the charges of Plunder and/or of violation of
December
PDAF/ Forgery Section 3(e) of RA 3019 against them. Hence, the incidents related to it
6, 2016
should have no effect on the filing of the latter. In Villaseñor v.
Sandiganbayan, 547 SCRA 658 (2008), this Court explained that: [T]here
are three kinds of remedies that are available against a public officer for
impropriety in the performance of his powers and the discharge of his
duties: (1) civil, (2) criminal, and (3) administrative [and that] [t]hese
remedies may be invoked separately, alternately, simultaneously or
successively. Sometimes, the same offense may be the subject of all
three kinds of remedies. x x x x It is clear, then, that criminal and
administrative cases are distinct from each other. The settled rule is that
criminal and civil cases are altogether different from administrative
matters, such that the first two will not inevitably govern or affect the
third and vice versa. Verily, administrative cases may proceed
independently of criminal proceedings.

As correctly pointed out by the Ombudsman, “an audit disallowance may


not necessarily result in the imposition of disciplinary sanctions or
criminal prosecution of the responsible persons.

Conversely, therefore, an administrative or criminal case may prosper


even without an audit disallowance. Verily, Rule XIII, Section 6 is
consistent with the ruling in [Reyna v. Commission on Audit, 642 SCRA
210 (2011)] that a proceeding involving an audit disallowance is distinct
and separate from a preliminary investigation or a disciplinary
complaint.” In fine, the Ombudsman did not gravely abuse its discretion
in promulgating its March 14, 2014 Joint Order which denied Cambe’s
motion to suspend proceedings. Perforce, Cambe’s petition in G.R. Nos.
212014-15 is dismissed. That being said, the Court now proceeds to
resolve the main substantive issue anent the presence of probable cause
against all petitioners.

Time and again, this Court’s consistent policy has been to maintain
noninterference in the Ombudsman’s determination of the existence of
probable cause, provided there is no grave abuse in the exercise of such
discretion. This observed policy is based not only in respect for the
investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by the 1987 Constitution
to the Office of the Ombudsman, but upon practicality as well.

In determining the elements of the crime charged for purposes of


arriving at a finding of probable cause, “only facts sufficient to support a
prima facie case against the [accused] are required, not absolute
certainty.” In this case, the petitioners were charged with the crimes of
Plunder and/or violations of Section 3(e) of RA 3019. Plunder, defined
and penalized under Section 2 of RA 7080, as amended, has the following
elements: (a) that the offender is a public officer, who acts by himself or
in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or
consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons; (b)
that he amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a
combination or series of overt or criminal acts described in Section 1(d)
thereof; and (c) that the aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten
wealth amassed, accumulated or acquired is at least Fifty Million Pesos
(P50,000,000.00). On the other hand, the elements of violation of Section
3(e) of RA 3019 are: (a) that the accused must be a public officer
discharging administrative, judicial, or official functions (or a private
individual acting in conspiracy with such public officers); (b) that he acted
with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or inexcusable negligence; and
(c) that his action caused any undue injury to any party, including the
government, or giving any private party unwarranted benefits,
advantage, or preference in the discharge of his functions. In determining
probable cause therefor, only a showing of the ostensible presence of
these elements is required.

It should be borne in mind that probable cause is determined during the


context of a preliminary investigation which is “merely an inquisitorial
mode of discovering whether or not there is reasonable basis to believe
that a crime has been committed and that the person charged should be
held responsible for it.” It “is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive
display of the prosecution’s evidence.” Therefore, “the validity and
merits of a party’s defense or accusation, as well as the admissibility of
testimonies and evidence, are better ventilated during trial proper than
at the preliminary investigation level.” Accordingly, “owing to the
initiatory nature of preliminary investigations, the technical rules of
evidence should not be applied in the course of its proceedings.” In this
light, and as will be elaborated upon below, this Court has ruled that
“probable cause can be established with hearsay evidence, as long as
there is substantial basis for crediting the hearsay,” and that even an
invocation of the rule on res inter alios acta at this stage of the
proceedings is improper.
Priority Development Assistance Fund; At the forefront are the Priority
Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) documents, consisting of the
written endorsements signed by Sen. Revilla himself requesting the
implementing agencies (IAs) to release his PDAF funds to the identified
Janet Lim Napoles (JLN)-controlled Non-Governmental Organizations
(NGOs), as well as other documents that made possible the processing of
his PDAF, e.g., the Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) executed by the
legislator’s office, the IA, and the chosen NGO.—The finding of probable
cause against Sen. Revilla is amply supported by the evidence on record.
At the forefront are the PDAF documents, consisting of the written
endorsements signed by Sen. Revilla himself requesting the IAs to release
his PDAF funds to the identified JLN--controlled NGOs, as well as other
documents that made possible the processing of his PDAF, e.g., the
MOAs executed by the legislator’s office, the IA, and the chosen NGO. All
these documents — even those not actually signed by Sen. Revilla —
directly implicate him for the crimes charged, as they were nonetheless,
all issued under the authority of his Office as Senator of the Republic of
the Philippines. In Belgica v. Ochoa (Belgica), 710 SCRA 1 (2013), this
Court observed that “the defining feature of all forms of Congressional
Pork Barrel would be the authority of legislators — to participate in the
post--enactment phases of project implementation.” “At its core,
legislators - may it be through project lists, prior consultations or
program menus — have been consistently accorded post-enactment
authority to identify the projects they desire to be funded through
various Congressional Pork Barrel allocations.” It is through this
mechanism that individual legislators, such as Sen. Revilla, were able to
practically dictate the entire expenditure of the PDAF allocated to their
offices throughout the years.
Anent Sen. Revilla’s claim that his signatures in the documentary
evidence presented were forged, it must be emphasized that “the
findings of the x x x prosecutor [on the issue of forgery] should be
ventilated in a full-blown trial[.] [This] is highlighted by the reality that
the authenticity of a questioned signature cannot be determined solely
upon its general characteristics, or its similarities or dissimilarities with
the genuine signature. The duty to determine the authenticity of a
signature rests on the judge who must conduct an independent
examination of the signature itself in order to arrive at a reasonable
conclusion as to its authenticity. [As such], Section 22 of Rule 132 of the
Rules of Court explicitly authorizes the court, by itself, to make a
comparison of the disputed handwriting with writings admitted or
treated as genuine by the party against whom the evidence is offered, or
proved to be genuine.” Accordingly, Sen. Revilla’s evidence of forgery,
including the findings of his purported handwriting experts, Rogelio G.
Azores (Azores) and Forensic Document Examiner Atty. Desiderio A.
Pagui, (Pagui) cannot be readily credited at this stage of the proceedings.
Besides, the Ombudsman aptly observed that Azores and Pagui
admittedly used mere photocopies of the Priority Development
Assistance Fund (PDAF) documents in their handwriting analyses. In Heirs
of Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 300 SCRA 565 (1998), this Court ruled
that “[w]ithout the original document containing the alleged forged
signature, one cannot make a definitive comparison which would
establish forgery,” and that “[a] comparison based on a mere [photo]
copy or reproduction of the document under controversy cannot
produce reliable results.” Furthermore, it may not be amiss to state that
the credibility of Azores and Pagui as handwriting experts has yet to be
tested. They still have to authenticate their findings and be subjected to
cross-examination. Without a doubt, the prosecution should also be
given a chance to properly contest Azores and Pagui’s findings with
evidence of its own. It could all too well present its own handwriting
experts during trial to rebut such findings.

It is significant to emphasize that the Ombudsman had thoroughly passed


upon the veracity of Sen. Revilla’s signatures on the PDAF documents. As
explicitly stated in the March 28, 2014 Joint Resolution: “[a]t all events,
the Special Panel members, after a prima facie comparison with their
naked eyes of the questioned signatures appearing in the PDAF
documents and the original signatures of [Sen.] Revilla and Cambe in
their respective counter-affidavits, opine that both sets of signatures,
which bear the same style and flourish, were written by one and the
same hands.” Verily, the Ombudsman’s own factual finding on the
absence of forgery, at least for the purpose of determining probable
cause, should be regarded with utmost respect. “[F]indings of fact by the
Office of the Ombudsman are conclusive when supported by substantial
evidence,” as in this case. The Ombudsman’s finding on the absence of
forgery further gains credence in light of the July 20, 2011 Letter signed
by Sen. Revilla submitted to the COA (Confirmation Letter).

The letter evinces on its face that Sen. Revilla had confirmed the
authenticity of his and Cambe’s signatures appearing on the PDAF
documents: After going through these documents and initial
examination, it appears that the signatures and/or initials on these
documents are my signatures or that of my authorized representative.

Luy’s testimony therefore explicates that although the whistleblowers


would sometimes forge the legislators’ signatures, such were made with
the approval of Napoles based on her prior agreement with the said
legislators. It is not difficult to discern that this authorization allows for a
more expedient processing of PDAF funds since the documents required
for their release need not pass through the legislator’s respective offices.
It is also apparent that this grant of authority gives the legislators room
for plausible deniability: the forging of signatures may serve as a security
measure for legislators to disclaim their participation in the event of
discovery. Therefore, Luy’s testimony completely makes sense as to why
the legislators would agree to authorize Napoles and her staff to forge
their signatures. As such, even if it is assumed that the signatures were
forged, it does not mean that the legislators did not authorize such
forgery.

The testimonies of the whistleblowers — which the prosecution


submitted before the Ombudsman — are, in fact, the most integral
evidence against Sen. Revilla, since they provide a detailed account on
the inner workings of the PDAF scam to which Sen. Revilla was directly
involved. It should be pointed out that, of all the Senators, only the
Offices of Sen. Revilla, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (Sen. Enrile), and Sen.
Jinggoy, Estrada (Sen. Estrada) were explicitly implicated to have dealt
with Napoles in the plunder of their PDAF. Also, it is apparent that
whistleblowers Suñas, Sula, and Luy had personal knowledge of the
conspiracy since they were employees of JLN Corporation — the
epicenter of the entire PDAF operation — and in their respective
capacities, were individually tasked by Napoles to prepare the pertinent
documents, liquidate the financial transactions, follow up the release of
the NCAs with the DBM, and/or facilitate the withdrawal of PDAF funds
deposited in the NGOs’ accounts.

Sen. Revilla opposes the admission of the whistleblowers’ testimonies


based on the res inter alios acta rule. However, in Reyes v. Ombudsman,
787 SCRA 354 (2016), citing Estrada v. Ombudsman, 748 SCRA 1 (2015),
this Court had unanimously ruled that the testimonies of the same
whistleblowers against Jo Christine and John Christopher Napoles,
children of Janet Napoles who were also charged with the embezzlement
of the PDAF, are admissible in evidence, considering that technical rules
of evidence are not binding on the fiscal during preliminary investigation.
This Court was unequivocal in declaring that the objection on res inter
alios acta should falter: Neither can the Napoles siblings discount the
testimonies of the whistleblowers based on their invocation of the res
inter alios acta rule under Section 28, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence,
which states that the rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act,
declaration, or omission of another, unless the admission is by a
conspirator under the parameters of Section 30 of the same Rule. To be
sure, the foregoing rule constitutes a technical rule on evidence which
should not be rigidly applied in the course of preliminary investigation
proceedings. In Estrada, the Court sanctioned the Ombudsman’s
appreciation of hearsay evidence, which would otherwise be inadmissible
under technical rules on evidence, during the preliminary investigation
“as long as there is substantial basis for crediting the hearsay.” This is

because “such investigation is merely preliminary, and does not finally


adjudicate rights and obligations of parties.” Applying the same logic, and
with the similar observation that there lies substantial basis for crediting
the testimonies of the whistleblowers herein, the objection interposed
by the Napoles siblings under the evidentiary res inter alios acta rule
should falter. Ultimately, as case law edifies, “[t]he technical rules on
evidence are not binding on the fiscal who has jurisdiction and control
over the conduct of a preliminary investigation,” as in this case.

In any event, even if it is assumed that the rule on res inter alios acta
were to apply during preliminary investigation, the treatment of the
whistleblowers’ statements as hearsay is bound by the exception on
independently relevant statements. “Under the doctrine of
independently relevant statements, regardless of their truth or falsity,
the fact that such statements have been made is relevant. The hearsay
rule does not apply, and the statements are admissible as evidence.
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.” Undoubtedly,
the testimonies of the whistleblowers are independently relevant to
prove the involvement of Sen. Revilla and his co--accused in the present
controversy, considering their respective participations in the entire
PDAF scam. Therefore, the statements made by whistleblowers Suñas,
Sula, and Luy, who were employees of JLN Corporation and privy to the
financial transactions of Napoles concerning, among others, Sen. Revilla’s
PDAF, should be given consideration as they are directly, if not
circumstantially, relevant to the issue at hand. To add, the prosecution
also presented Luy’s ledger entries which corroborate his testimony that
Sen. Revilla dealt with Napoles and received PDAF kickbacks. Luy’s
records disclose that the kickbacks amounted to “at least
P224,512,500.00: P10,000,000.00 for 2006; P61,000,000.00 for 2007;
P80,000,000.00 for 2008; P40,000,000.00 for 2009; and P33,512,500.00
for 2010.”

Relatedly, it should be clarified that the fact that Luy did not personally
know Sen. Revilla or that none of the whistleblowers personally saw
anyone handing/delivering money to Sen. Revilla does not mean that
they did not personally know of his involvement. Because of their
functions in JLN Corporation as above stated, it is evident that they had
personal knowledge of the fact that Napoles named Sen. Revilla as one of
the select-legislators she transacted with. More significantly, they
personally processed the PDAF funds and documents connected with
Sen. Revilla’s Office, which lasted for a considerable amount of time, i.e.,
four (4) years [2006-2010 as charged]. As such, their testimonies should
not be completely disregarded as hearsay.

In any case, this Court has resolved that “probable cause can be
established with hearsay evidence, as long as there is substantial basis
for crediting the hearsay.” The substantial basis for crediting the
whistleblowers’ testimonies, even if so regarded as hearsay, rests on
their key functions in JLN Corporation as above mentioned, as well as the
collective evidence gathered by the prosecution tending to support the
same conclusion that Sen. Revilla and his alleged coconspirators acted in
concert to pillage his PDAF funds.

This Court would like to dispel the notion that due process rights were
violated when Sen. Revilla was denied copies of the counter-affidavits of
his corespondents in the preliminary investigation proceedings before
the Ombudsman as he argues in G.R. Nos. 212427-28. This matter was
already resolved in the similar case of Estrada, where this Court said:
Both the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Rules of Procedure
of the Office of the Ombudsman require the investigating officer to
furnish the respondent with copies of the affidavits of the complainant
and affidavits of his supporting witnesses. Neither of these Rules require
the investigating officer to furnish the respondent with copies of the
affidavits of his [corespondents]. The right of the respondent is only “to
examine the evidence submitted by the complainant,” as expressly
stated in Section 3(b), Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure. This Court has unequivocally ruled in Paderanga that “Section
3, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly provides
that the respondent shall only have the right to submit a
counter-affidavit, to examine all other evidence submitted by the
complainant and, where the fiscal sets a hearing to propound
clarificatory questions to the parties or their witnesses, to be afforded an
opportunity to be present but without the right to examine or
cross-examine.” Moreover, Section 4 (a, b and c), of Rule II of the
Ombudsman’s Rule of Procedure, read together, only require the
investigating officer to furnish the respondent with copies of the
affidavits of the complainant and his supporting witnesses. There is no
law or rule requiring the investigating officer to furnish the respondent
with copies of the affidavits of his corespondents. In any event, the
Ombudsman in this case went beyond its legal duty and eventually
granted Sen. Revilla’s requests to be furnished with said
counter-affidavits, and even afforded him the opportunity to comment
thereto. Thus, there is more reason to decline his flawed claims of denial
of due process. Case law state that the touchstone of due process is the
opportunity to be heard, which was undeniably afforded to Sen. Revilla in
this case.

Taking together all of the above stated pieces of evidence, the COA and
FIO reports tend to prima facie establish that irregularities had indeed
attended the disbursement of Sen. Revilla’s PDAF and that he had a hand
in such anomalous releases, being the head of Office which
unquestionably exercised operational control thereof. As the
Ombudsman correctly observed, “[t]he PDAF was allocated to him by
virtue of his position as a Senator, and therefore he exercise[d] control in
the selection of his priority projects and programs. He indorsed
[Napoles’] Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in consideration for
the remittance of kickbacks and commissions from Napoles.
Compounded by the fact that the PDAF-funded projects turned out to be
‘ghost projects,’ and that the rest of the PDAF allocation went into the
pockets of Napoles and her cohorts, [there is probable cause to show
that] Revilla thus unjustly enriched himself at the expense and to the
damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the
Philippines.” Hence, he should stand trial for violation of Section 3(e) of
RA 3019. For the same reasons, it is apparent that ill-gotten wealth in the
amount of at least P50,000,000.00 (i.e., P224,512,500.00) were amassed,
accumulated or acquired through a combination or series of overt acts
stated in Section 1 of the Plunder Law. Therefore, Sen. Revilla should
likewise stand trial for Plunder. Besides, case law holds that once the trial
court finds probable cause, which results in the issuance of a warrant of
arrest (as the Sandiganbayan in this case, with respect to Sen. Revilla and
his co-­petitioners), any question on the prosecution’s conduct of
preliminary investigation becomes moot.

There is no dispute that Cambe was Sen. Revilla’s trusted aide, being his
Chief of Staff. By such authority, he also exercised operational control
over the affairs of Sen. Revilla’s office, including the allocation of his
PDAF. In fact, Cambe’s signatures explicitly appear on several PDAF
documents, such as the MOAs allowing the IAs to transfer Sen. Revilla’s
PDAF funds allocated for certain projects to various JLN-controlled NGOs.
Moreover, Cambe was personally identified by the whistleblowers to
have received PDAF money for himself and for Sen. Revilla. As recounted
by Luy, Cambe was the one who would go to Napoles’s office and receive
cash from the latter in the aggregate amount of P224,512,500.00
representing Sen. Revilla’s “commissions” or “kickbacks” coming from
the PDAF scam. The cash would come either from Luy’s vault or from
Napoles herself. In simple terms, Cambe allegedly acted as a liaison
between Sen. Revilla and Napoles.

Records clearly show that Napoles, in all reasonable likelihood, played an


integral role in the illegal utilization, diversion, and disbursement of Sen.
Revilla’s PDAF. In fact, she was tagged as the mastermind of the entire
PDAF scam. As outlined by the Ombudsman, Napoles would approach
legislators, such as Sen. Revilla, and “offer to ‘acquire’ his x x x PDAF
allocation in exchange for a ‘commission’ or kickback amounting to a
certain percentage of the PDAF.” Once Napoles was informed of the
availability of Sen Revilla’s PDAF, she and/or her staff would prepare
listings of the available projects specifically indicating the IAs which
would carry out the same. After the listings are released by Sen. Revilla’s
Office, Napoles would then give a down payment from her own pockets
for delivery to Sen. Revilla, or in case of his unavailability, to Cambe who
would receive the same on Sen. Revilla’s behalf. Once the SARO and/or
the Notices of Cash Allocation (NCA) regarding said project is released,
Napoles would then deliver the promised “kickbacks” to Sen. Revilla.
Thereafter, Sen. Revilla and/or Cambe would endorse Napoles’ NGOs to
undertake the PDAF-funded projects, all of which turned out to be
“ghost” or “inexistent”; thus, allowing Napoles and her cohorts to pocket
the PDAF allocation.

Based on the evidence in support thereof such as the PDAF documents,


whistleblowers’ testimonies, the accounts of the IA officials, and the COA
report, as well as the field verifications of the FIO, Ombudsman, this
Court is convinced that there lies probable cause against Janet Napoles
for the charge of Plunder as it has been prima facie established that she,
in conspiracy with Sen. Revilla, Cambe, and other personalities, was
significantly involved in the aforedescribed modus operandi to obtain
Sen. Revilla’s PDAF amounting to at least P50,000,000.00 in “kickbacks.”
In the same manner, there is probable cause against Napoles for
violations of Section 3(e) of RA 3019, as it is ostensible that their
conspiracy to illegally divert PDAF Funds to “ghost” projects caused
undue prejudice to the government.

That a private individual, such as Napoles, could not be charged for


Plunder and violations of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 because the offenders
in those crimes are public officers is a complete misconception. It has
been long-settled that while the primary offender in the aforesaid crimes
are public officers, private individuals may also be held liable for the
same if they are found to have conspired with said officers in committing
the same. This proceeds from the fundamental principle that in cases of
conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. In this case, since it appears
that Napoles has acted in concert with public officers in the systematic
pillaging of Sen. Revilla’s PDAF, the Ombudsman correctly indicted her as
a coconspirator for the aforementioned crimes.

Records show that De Asis was designated as the President/Incorporator


of KPMFI which was one of the many NGOs controlled by Napoles that
was used in the embezzlement of Sen. Revilla’s PDAF allocations.
Moreover, whistleblowers Luy and Suñas explicitly named De Asis as one
of those who prepared money to be given to the lawmaker. Said
whistleblowers even declared that De Asis, among others, received the
checks issued by the IAs to the NGOs and deposited the same in the
bank; and that, after the money is withdrawn from the bank, he was also
one of those tasked to bring the money to Janet Napoles’ house. Indeed,
the foregoing prove to be well-grounded bases to believe that, in all
probability, De Asis conspired with the other co-accused to commit the
crimes charged.

Priority Development Assistance Fund; As correctly pointed out by the


Ombudsman, whistleblowers Luy and Suñas narrated that over the
course of the perpetuation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund
(PDAF) scam, they, along with the other staff of Napoles — which
includes Lim would prepare, and thereafter deliver, the kickbacks
intended for Sen. Revilla.—As correctly pointed out by the Ombudsman,
whistleblowers Luy and Suñas narrated that over the course of the
perpetuation of the PDAF scam, they, along with the other staff of
Napoles — which includes Lim — would prepare, and thereafter deliver,
the kickbacks intended for Sen. Revilla. The preparation and delivery of
kickbacks to the legislator and/or his trusted staff are indeed overt acts
that relate to his involvement in the PDAF scheme. To note, even if it is
assumed that Lim only prepared the money and did not deliver the same
as he claims, the act of preparation is still connected to the common
objective of the conspiracy. Accordingly, this establishes the existence of
probable cause against him for the crime charged.

As pointed out by the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, some of the


SAROs and NCAs issued in the perpetuation of the PDAF scam were
issued by the Office of Relampagos as DBM Undersecretary, where
Nuñez, Paule, and Bare are all working — a finding that they themselves
did not dispute. More significantly: (a) whistleblower Luy positively
identified Relampagos, et al. as Napoles’ “contact persons” in the DBM;
and (b) the COA Report found irregularities in their issuances of the
aforesaid SAROs and NCAs. Ostensibly, these circumstances show
Relampagos, et al.’s manifest partiality and bad faith in favor of Napoles
and her cohorts that evidently caused undue prejudice to the
Government. Thus, they must stand trial for violation of Section 3(e) of
RA 3019.

In this case, the Ombudsman (and the Sandiganbayan as to Relampagos,


et al.) did not err in finding probable cause against all the petitioners.
Their findings are fully supported by the evidence on record and no
semblance of misapprehension taints the same. Moreover, this Court
cannot tag key documentary evidence as forgeries and bar testimonies as
hearsay at this stage of the proceedings; otherwise, it would defy
established principles and norms followed during preliminary
investigation. Jurisprudence teaches us that “[i]n dealing with probable
cause[,] at the very name implies, we deal with probabilities. These are
not technical; they are the factual and practical considerations of
everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal
technicians, act. The standard of proof is accordingly correlative to what
must be proved.” Overall, based on the foregoing disquisitions, the
standard of probable cause was adequately hurdled by the prosecution in
this case. As such, no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the
Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan in the proceedings a quo. All the
petitioners should therefore stand trial for the crimes they were charged.
VELASCO, JR., J., Concurring and Dissenting Opinion:

As the ponencia points out, the courts do not usually interfere with the
Ombudsman in the determination as to the existence of probable cause.
In other words, the Ombudsman possesses ample latitude to determine
the propriety of filing a criminal charge against a person. Nonetheless, it
must be emphasized that the Ombudsman’s broad authority is
circumscribed by the need of an upright conduct of a preliminary
investigation. This balancing rule is intended to guarantee the right of
every person 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” and to guard
the State against the “burden of unnecessary expense and effort in
prosecuting alleged offenses and in holding trials arising from false,
frivolous or groundless charges.”

The majority sustained the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause to


indict Revilla for Plunder and violation of Sec. 3(e) of RA 3019, for
supposedly amassing ill-gotten wealth by allegedly misappropriating, or
supposedly receiving commission for allowing the misappropriation of
the PDAF in conspiracy with and/or by giving unwarranted benefit to
Napoles and her cohorts. As I have previously stated, I cannot concur
with the majority opinion. A look at the evidence that the complainants
had presented demonstrates that there is nary any competent and
relevant evidence that can constitute as basis for the finding of probable
cause against Revilla. Ruling in favor of the complainants, the
Ombudsman sweepingly concluded that Revilla conspired with Napoles
and her cohorts to amass ill--gotten wealth at the expense of the State.

Notably, the pieces of evidence relied upon by the Ombudsman do not


provide sufficient basis for even a prima facie finding of probable cause
to believe that Revilla negotiated and agreed with Napoles on: (i) the list
of projects to be chosen by the lawmaker; (ii) the corresponding IA that
would implement the project; (iii) the project cost; (iv) the
Napoles-controlled NGO that would implement the project; and (v) the
amount of commission or kickback which the lawmaker would receive in
exchange for endorsing the NGO. Indeed, the Ombudsman’s affirmation
of these allegations stands on mere inferences and presumptions. What
is certain is that the Ombudsman surmised Revilla’s involvement with the
PDAF scam from the following: (1) his purported signatures appearing in
several documents endorsing the NGOs affiliated with Napoles; (2) the
testimonies of the so-called “whistleblowers” and (3) the
Counter-Affidavits of some of Revilla’s corespondents. As will be
discussed, these are neither relevant nor competent, and do not
constitute sufficient bases to sustain the finding of probable cause to
subject Revilla to continuous prosecution.

Same; View that the Ombudsman ought to have exercised caution


especially since the “whistleblowers” no less admitted to forging the
lawmakers’ endorsements of Napoles’ Non-Governmental Organizations
(NGOs) to the corresponding implementing agencies (IAs) along with all
other Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) Documents.—As
Revilla maintained all along, his involvement/participation in the release
of his PDAF was limited only to the identification and selection of
projects or programs listed in the the GAA and communicating such
selection to the Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and the
Senate President. Any endorsement made by him does not and cannot
sway these IAs to act per his will and contrary to legal requirements. It is,
therefore, perplexing that Revilla’s involvement in the PDAF scam is
hinged on apparently worthless “endorsements” of Napoles-controlled
NGOs. Further, the Ombudsman ought to have exercised caution
especially since the “whistleblowers” no less admitted to forging the
lawmakers’ endorsements of Napoles’ NGOs to the IAs along with all
other PDAF Documents. Suñas testified that they prepared these
endorsement letters, upon which Revilla is now being indicted.

In fact, even a cursory glance at some of the PDAF Documents


questioned by Revilla reveals a forgery so obvious as to be remarkably
noticeable to the naked eye of an ordinary person. A prime example is
the “endorsement” letter addressed to Gondelina Amata of the NLDC
dated October 23, 2009, supposedly signed by Revilla. Compared to the
standard signatures submitted by Revilla, the signature contained therein
lacks the cursive flourishes of his true signatures and instead contains
sharp and blunt strokes. Similarly noticeable is the variance of the
letterheads used in these various endorsement letters, with some
containing supposed bar codes of Revilla’s office, others simply a
number.
At the very least, the Azores and Pagui findings should have impelled the
Ombudsman to consider the veracity of the signatures on the PDAF
documents given that these experts’ findings uniformly detail
discrepancies between the signatures in the PDAF documents and
Revilla’s admitted genuine specimens of writing. That the Ombudsman
failed to even require NBI handwriting experts to study the questioned
signatures renders the immediate dismissal of the two handwriting
expert’s certifications highly suspect. Where the genuineness of the
documents is crucial to the respondents’ defense, it is more prudent, as
stressed in People v. Agresor, 320 SCRA 302 (1999), to allow the opinion
of handwriting experts.

Being uncontroverted and, in fact, confirmed by the complainants’


witnesses, I submit that this forgery of Revilla’s signatures and the
falsification of the PDAF Documents should have dissuaded the
Ombudsman from filing the Informations against Revilla. Certainly, the
finding of probable cause to indict a person for plunder cannot be based
on admittedly falsified documents. While probable cause falls below
proof beyond reasonable doubt in the hierarchy of quanta of evidence, it
must nonetheless be supported by sufficient, credible and competent
evidence, i.e., there should be facts and circumstances sufficiently strong
in themselves to warrant a prudent and cautious man to believe that the
accused is guilty of the crime with which he is charged.
Absent any credible proof of Revilla’s actual link or participation in the
alleged scheme to divert his PDAF to Napoles’ NGOs, the Ombudsman
should likewise not have accepted hook, line, and sinker any testimony of
a participant in the supposed conspiracy. It is basic that an extrajudicial
confession binds only the confessant or declarant and is inadmissible
against his or her co--accused. This basic postulate, an extension of the
res inter alios acta rule, is embodied in Section 28, Rule 130 of the Rules
of Court.

As discussed above, besides the admittedly falsified and forged PDAF


documents, there is no concrete proof showing that Revilla pulled off any
“overt act” in furtherance of the supposed conspiracy with Napoles.
Other than saying that without Revilla, the scheme would have
supposedly failed, the Ombudsman has been unable to point to concrete
set of facts to support her conclusion as to the complicity of Revilla to the
conspiracy in question. Thus, the conclusion reached by the Ombudsman
falls short of the threshold requirement that conspiracy itself must be
proved as positively as the commission of the felony itself. The quantum
of evidence required is as should be, as conspiracy is a “facile device by
which an accused may be ensnared and kept within the penal fold.” For
this reason, I submit that the testimonies of Revilla’s co­respondents
cannot be taken against him. Yet, the Ombudsman repeatedly and freely
cited the previously withheld counter-affidavits of Revilla’s
co-respondents in finding probable cause to indict him for Plunder and
violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.
A closer look of Cunanan’s testimony, which was a critical part of the
Ombudsman’s Resolutions, bares the infirmity of his claim. While he
could have easily asked for a written confirmation of the authorization
given by Revilla to Cambe, Cunanan himself admitted that he, instead,
supposedly sought verification over the telephone. Yet, an audio
recording of the alleged telephone conversation was not presented or
even mentioned. Not even a transcript of the alleged telephone
conversation was attached to Cunanan’s Counter-Affidavit. Section 1,
Rule 11 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence provides that an audio
evidence, such as a telephone conversation, is admissible only if it is
presented, explained, or authenticated.

Given that no audio evidence of the telephone conversation was


presented, much less “identified, explained or authenticated,” the
occurrence of the alleged telephone conversation is rendered highly
suspect, if not improbable, and any testimony thereon is inadmissible
and of no probative value. But granting, arguendo, that Cunanan did call
Revilla’s office, it still begs the question of how he could have recognized
or confirmed the identity of the person he was speaking with over the
phone and not face-to-face. There is no indication, and Cunanan never
even hinted, that he was closely familiar with Revilla’s voice that he can
easily recognize it over the phone in a single conversation. This Court had
previously declared that the person with whom the witness was
conversing on the telephone must first be reliably identified before the
telephone conversation can be admitted in evidence and given probative
value.
For this and for the fact that there is absolutely nothing competent and
relevant that can sway a reasonable man to believe that Revilla had
participated in the PDAF scheme, I vote for the reversal of the
Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause to indict Revilla for plunder and
violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 on account of grave abuse of
discretion. It must not be forgotten that the crimes involved in these
clases are Plunder and violation of Section 3(e), RA 3019 — two grave
charges that can strip a man of his good name and liberty, as in this case.
The Ombudsman should not have found probable cause to indict Revilla
given that there is nothing but falsified documents, hearsay testimonies
and declarations barred by the res inter alios acta that support the
complaints. Worse, the Ombudsman violated the due process protection
of the Constitution in citing affidavits and testimonies not previously
furnished Revilla. Without doubt, the Assailed Resolutions, insofar as it
found probable cause against Revilla, were tainted with grave abuse of
discretion.

Interestingly, the March 28, 2014 Joint Resolution of the respondent


Ombudsman did not once mention the examination report of Atty. Pagui,
nor did it squarely address the allegation of forgery. It immediately
dismissed the argument by saying: Forgery is not presumed; it must be
proved by clear, positive, and convincing evidence and the burden of
proof lies on the party alleging forgery. Further, as gathered from the
March 28, 2014 Joint Resolution, the fact of Cambe, acting on his own as
a public officer, amassing or acquiring ill-gotten wealth amounting to at
least Fifty Million Pesos (P50,000,000.00) through any of the means
provided under the plunder law or acting in violation of RA 3019 has not
been demonstrated.

The exception to the res inter alios acta rule, as earlier indicated, in
Section 30 of Rule 130 provides: Section 30. Admission by
conspirator.—The act or declaration of a conspirator relating to the
conspiracy and during its existence, may be given in evidence against the
coconspirator after the conspiracy is shown by evidence other than such
act or declaration. People v. Cachuela, 698 SCRA 161 (2013), succinctly
dwells on the application the rule and its exception, thus: At any rate,
Nabilgas’ extrajudicial confession is inadmissiblin evidence against the
appellants in view of the res inter alios acta rule. This rule provides that
the rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or
omission of another. Consequently, an extrajudicial confession is binding
only on the confessant and is not admissible against his or her co-accused
because it is considered as hearsay against them. An exception to the res
inter alios acta rule is an admission made by a conspirator under Section
30, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. This provision states that the act or
declaration of a conspirator relating to the conspiracy, and during its
existence, may he given in evidence against the coconspirator after the
conspiracy is shown by evidence other than such act or declaration. Thus,
in order that the admission of a conspirator may be received against his
or her coconspirators, it is necessary that: (a) the conspiracy be first
proved by evidence other than the admission itself; (b) the admission
relates to the common object; and (c) it has been made while the
declarant was engaged in carrying out the conspiracy. This exception,
however, does not apply in the present case since there was no other
piece of evidence presented, aside from the extrajudicial confession, to
prove that Nabilgas conspired with the appellants in committing the
crime charged. Conspiracy cannot be presumed and must be shown as
distinctly and conclusively as the crime itself Nabilgas, in fact, was
acquitted by the trial court due to insufficiency of evidence to prove his
participation in the crime. The requisites to bring a given set of facts
under the exception to the res inter alios acta rule were not met in the
present case.

Considering the apparent whimsical and capricious approach thus taken


by the Ombudsman, I submit that this Court should have exercised its
power of judicial review. Tolerating the practice of establishing probable
cause based on forged or questionable documents would expose the
criminal justice system to malicious prosecution. It will create a
dangerous precedent. It will encourage unscrupulous individuals to file
trumped up charges based on fictitious, spurious, or manipulated
documents. Malicious lawsuits designed to harass the innocent will
proliferate, in clear violation of their rights enshrined by no less than the
Constitution. This, I cannot allow.

While I submit that the Court can accord merit to Napoles’ assertion
respecting the undue reliance of the Ombudsman on inadmissible
evidence, such as the statements and ledgers submitted by Luy, I concur
with the majority that the Ombudsman’s finding as to the existence of
probable cause to charge Napoles is substantiated. Her argument that no
evidence was presented to show her affiliation to the NGOs and the
implementation of the PDAF-financed projects holds no water. Save for
her bare denials, Napoles did not submit any contrary evidence which
would support her claim. On the contrary, the Ombudsman, through the
efforts of the FIO and the NBI, was able to secure the statements of
Napoles’ former employees, to independently establish how she set up
NGOs and colluded with people in and out of the government to acquire
the proceeds of the PDAF of various legislators. Notably, an employee,
Mary Arlene Baltazar, categorically testified having been instructed by
Napoles to forge the signatures of directors in her NGO, as well as the
signatures of listed beneficiaries in the PDAF-funded projects, and to
shred documents related to the PDAF scheme. Counter-affidavits of the
public officers from the implementing agencies involved also admitted
having coordinated with Napoles in processing the projects.

A cursory reading of the NBI and FIO complaints would show substantial
compliance with the above provision. All the accused were specifically
named, the designation of the offenses charged clearly indicated, and the
acts allegedly constituting the offenses and where they were committed
enumerated. Considering the offenses charged, it was correctly indicated
that the State is the offended party. As for the date of when the offenses
were committed, it is sufficient if, as here, the approximate period of
commission, i.e., span of four years starting from and ending on, is
provided, the exact date of the commission of the crime not being an
element in either Plunder or violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.
The Ombudsman aptly pointed out the inconsistency of De Asis’ acts with
the principle of good faith. Routinely withdrawing and delivering huge
sums of cash for Napoles and producing fictitious list of beneficiaries and
liquidation reports would make a reasonable person doubt the legitimacy
of his employer’s business. De Asis, as Napoles’ employee, possesses
knowledge of facts and circumstances, which can put one wary of his
employer’s nature of business. Possessing this knowledge while
continuously participating in the illegal scheme, even if instructed by his
employer, is tantamount to acquiescence in the illegal act, thus belying
his bona fide claim.

While preparation or segregation and the actual delivery are separate


acts, they are interconnected with a common objective. It is immaterial,
thus, whether Lim only prepared or segregated the money, actually
delivered it or both. The fact is, there is probable cause to believe that he
performed a role in the consummation of the crime of Plunder. Further,
evidence shows that there is probable cause to believe that Lim
cooperated in order to divert the PDAF to their own pockets. By
rendering assistance in the delivery of money, Lim is deemed to have
conspired in the illegal transaction. Under these circumstances, Lim is as
much liable as the principal because of his overt and indispensable
cooperation in perpetuating the scam. At this juncture, it is necessary to
state that Revilla is not the only named public officer involved in this
issue. There are others against whom the Ombudsman found probable
cause. Thus, Lim, being a private individual, may be charged with
Plunder, there being probable cause to believe that he acted in concert
with some public officers.

I submit that the issues raised by the parties are ripe for adjudication and
easily verifiable by the submissions of the parties. To wait for trial will
only unnecessarily prolong the disposition of the case. On this note, Sec.
6, Rule 112 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a judge “may
immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to
establish probable cause.” As borne by the records, the Ombudsman
initially found probable cause to charge petitioners Relampagos, et al. for
sixteen (16) counts of violation of Sec. 3(e), RA 3019 on account of Luy’s
testimony that petitioners are Napoles’ contact in the DBM. Yet, even Luy
himself twice admitted during the September 12, 2013 Senate Blue
Ribbon Committee that petitioners did not receive any part of the PDAF.

479 Remedial Law REPUBLIC vs. G.R. No. Hearsay Evidence The contents of the certifications are hearsay because respondent’s sole
GALENO 215009. Rule witness and attorney-in-fact, Lea Galeno Barraca, was incompetent to
January testify on the veracity of their contents, as she did not prepare any of the
23, 2017.* certifications nor was she a public officer of the concerned government
agencies. Notably, while it is true that the public prosecutor who
`
represented petitioner interposed no objection to the admission of the
foregoing evidence in the proceedings in the court below, it should be
borne in mind that “hearsay evidence, whether objected to or not, has
no probative value unless the proponent can show that the evidence falls
within the exceptions to the hearsay evidence rule,” which do not,
however, obtain in this case. Verily, while respondent’s documentary
evidence may have been admitted due to the opposing party’s lack of
objection, it does not, however, mean that they should be accorded any
probative weight.

Case law states that the “absence of opposition from government


agencies is of no controlling significance because the State cannot be
estopped by the omission, mistake or error of its officials or agents.
Neither is the Republic barred from assailing the decision granting the
petition for reconstitution [or correction of title, as in this case] if, on the
basis of the law and the evidence on record, such petition has no merit.”
Moreover, “in civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must
produce a preponderance of evidence thereon, with plaintiff having to
rely on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of
the defendant’s.”

480

481

482

483

484

485

486

487

488
489

490

491

492

493

494