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Notes.—A homestead patent, once registered, becomes


as indefeasible as a Torrens title. A person deprived of the
land, estate, or interest therein by virtue of a decree of
registration may avail of the remedy provided under
Section 38 of Act 496. (Garingan vs. Garingan, 455 SCRA
480; Portes, Jr. vs. Arcala, 468 SCRA 343 [2005])
Where a lawyer actively participated in representing
complainant and his co­heirs in their patent application for
the subject land, apparently standing as counsel for them,
such ostensible representation and without any evidence to
show that the parties withdrew their authorization, said
lawyer can even claim the certificates of titles and other
documents with regard to the homestead patents.
(Uytengsu III vs. Baduel, 477 SCRA 621 [2005])
——o0o——

G.R. No. 165133. April 19, 2010.*

SPOUSES JOSELINA ALCANTARA AND ANTONIO


ALCANTARA, and SPOUSES JOSEFINO RUBI AND
ANNIE DISTOR­RUBI, petitioners, vs. BRIGIDA L. NIDO,
as attorney­in­fact of REVELEN N. SRIVASTAVA,
respondent.

Civil Law; Agency; Sales; Article 1874 of the Civil Code


requires a written authority before an agent can sell an immovable
property, likewise, a special power of attorney is necessary to enter
into any contract by which the ownership of an immovable is
transmitted or acquired for a valuable consideration.—Article
1874 of the Civil Code explicitly requires a written authority
before an agent can sell an immovable property. Based on a
review of the records, there is absolutely no proof of respondent’s
written authority to sell the lot to petitioners. In fact, during the
pre­trial conference, petitioners admitted that at the time of the
negotiation for the sale of the lot,

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* SECOND DIVISION.

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Alcantara vs. Nido

petitioners were of the belief that respondent was the owner of lot.
Petitioners only knew that Revelen was the owner of the lot
during the hearing of this case. Consequently, the sale of the lot
by respondent who did not have a written authority from Revelen
is void. A void contract produces no effect either against or in
favor of anyone and cannot be ratified. A special power of attorney
is also necessary to enter into any contract by which the
ownership of an immovable is transmitted or acquired for a
valuable consideration. Without an authority in writing,
respondent cannot validly sell the lot to petitioners. Hence, any
“sale” in favor of the petitioners is void.
Same; Same; Same; A General Power of Attorney executed and
acknowledged in the United States of America cannot be admitted
in evidence unless it is certified in accordance with the Rules of
Court by an officer in the foreign service of the Philippines
stationed in the United States of America.—Since the General
Power of Attorney was executed and acknowledged in the United
States of America, it cannot be admitted in evidence unless it is
certified as such in accordance with the Rules of Court by an
officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the
United States of America. Hence, this document has no probative
value.
Civil Procedure; Dismissal of Actions; Jurisdiction; Dismissal
of a case for lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings since jurisdiction is conferred by law.—The general
rule is that dismissal of a case for lack of jurisdiction may be
raised at any stage of the proceedings since jurisdiction is
conferred by law. The lack of jurisdiction affects the very
authority of the court to take cognizance of and to render
judgment on the action; otherwise, the inevitable consequence
would make the court’s decision a “lawless” thing. Since the RTC
has no jurisdiction over the complaint filed, all the proceedings as
well as the Decision of 17 June 2002 are void. The complaint
should perforce be dismissed.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and


resolution of the Court of Appeals.
   The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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  Rodrigo L. Yuson for petitioners.


  A.R. Fulgado & Associates for respondent.

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Alcantara vs. Nido

RESOLUTION
CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Spouses Antonio and Joselina Alcantara and Spouses


Josefino and Annie Rubi (petitioners) filed this Petition for
Review1 assailing the Court of Appeals’ (appellate court)
Decision2 dated 10 June 2004 as well as the Resolution3
dated 17 August 2004 in CA­G.R. CV No. 78215. In the
assailed decision, the appellate court reversed the 17 June
2002 Decision4 of Branch 69 of the Regional Trial Court of
Binangonan, Rizal (RTC) by dismissing the case for
recovery of possession with damages and preliminary
injunction filed by Brigida L. Nido (respondent), in her
capacity as administrator and attorney­in­fact of Revelen
N. Srivastava (Revelen).

The Facts

Revelen, who is respondent’s daughter and of legal age,


is the owner of an unregistered land with an area of 1,939
square meters located in Cardona, Rizal. Sometime in
March 1984, respondent accepted the offer of petitioners to
purchase a 200­square meter portion of Revelen’s lot (lot)
at P200 per square meter. Petitioners paid P3,000 as
downpayment and the balance was payable on installment.
Petitioners constructed their houses in 1985. In 1986, with
respondent’s

_______________

1 Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.


2 Rollo, pp. 20­29. Penned by Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez,
Jr. with Associate Justices Rebecca De Guia­Salvador, and Jose C. Reyes,
Jr., concurring.
3 Id., at p. 33. Penned by Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr.
with Associate Justices Rebecca De Guia­Salvador, and Jose C. Reyes, Jr.,
concurring.
4 CA Rollo, pp. 56­64. Penned by RTC Judge Paterno G. Tiamson.

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Alcantara vs. Nido

consent, petitioners occupied an additional 150 square


meters of the lot. By 1987, petitioners had already paid
P17,5005 before petitioners defaulted on their installment
payments.
On 11 May 1994, respondent, acting as administrator
and attorney­in­fact of Revelen, filed a complaint for
recovery of possession with damages and prayer for
preliminary injunction against petitioners with the RTC.

The RTC’s Ruling

The RTC stated that based on the evidence presented,


Revelen owns the lot and respondent was verbally
authorized to sell 200 square meters to petitioners. The
RTC ruled that since respondent’s authority to sell the land
was not in writing, the sale was void under Article 18746 of
the Civil Code.7   The RTC ruled that rescission is the
proper remedy.8
On 17 June 2002, the RTC rendered its decision, the
dispositive portion reads:

“WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiff and


against the defendants, by—
1. Declaring the contract to sell orally agreed by the plaintiff Brigida
Nido, in her capacity as representative or agent of her daughter
Revelen Nido Srivastava, VOID and UNENFORCEABLE.
2. Ordering the parties, upon finality of this judgment, to have
mutual restitution—the defendants and all persons claiming
under them to peacefully vacate and surrender to the plaintiff the
possession of the subject lot covered by TD No. 09­0742 and its
derivative Tax Declarations, together with all permanent
improvements introduced

_______________

5 Records, p. 79.
6 Art. 1874. When a sale of a piece of land or any interest therein is
through an agent, the authority of the latter shall be in writing, otherwise
the sale shall be void.
7 CA Rollo, p. 60.
8 Id., at p. 61.

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Alcantara vs. Nido

thereon, and all improvements built or constructed during


the pendency of this action, in bad faith; and the plaintiff,
to return the sum of P17,500.00, the total amount of the
installment on the land paid by defendant; the fruits and
interests during the pendency of the condition shall be
deemed to have been mutually compensated.
3. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiff the sum of P20,000.00 as
attorney’s fees, plus P15,000.00 as actual litigation expenses, plus
the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.”9

The Appellate Court’s Ruling

On 5 January 2004, petitioners appealed the trial court’s


Decision to the appellate court. In its decision dated 10
June 2004, the appellate court reversed the RTC decision
and dismissed the civil case.10
The appellate court explained that this is an unlawful
detainer case. The prayer in the complaint and amended
complaint was for recovery of possession and the case was
filed within one year from the last demand letter. Even if
the complaint involves a question of ownership, it does not
deprive the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of its jurisdiction
over the ejectment case. Petitioners raised the issue of lack
of jurisdiction in their Motion to Dismiss and Answer
before the RTC.11   The RTC denied the Motion to Dismiss
and assumed jurisdiction over the case because the issues
pertain to a determination of the real agreement between
the parties and rescission of the contract to sell the
property.12
The appellate court added that even if respondent’s
complaint is for recovery of possession or accion publiciana,
the

_______________

9 Id., at pp. 63­64.


10 Rollo, p. 28.
11 Id., at pp. 25­26.
12 Records, p. 66.

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338 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Alcantara vs. Nido
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RTC still has no jurisdiction to decide the case. The


appellate court explained:

Note again that the complaint was filed on 11 May 1994. By that
time, Republic Act No. 7691 was already in effect. Said law took
effect on 15 April 1994, fifteen days after its publication in the
Malaya and in the Time Journal on 30 March 1994 pursuant to
Sec. 8 of Republic Act No. 7691.
Accordingly, Sec. 33 of Batas Pambansa 129 was amended by
Republic Act No. 7691 giving the Municipal Trial Court the
exclusive original jurisdiction over all civil actions involving title
to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where
the assessed value of the property or interest therein does not
exceed P20,000 or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such
assessed value does not exceed P50,000, exclusive of interest,
damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and
costs.
At bench, the complaint alleges that the whole 1,939­ square
meter lot of Revelen N. Srivastava is covered by Tax Declaration
No. 09­0742 (Exh. “B”, p. 100, Records) which gives its assessed
value of the whole lot of P4,890.00. Such assessed value falls
within the exclusive original prerogative or jurisdiction of the first
level court and, therefore, the Regional Trial Court a quo has no
jurisdiction to try and decided the same.”13

The appellate court also held that respondent, as


Revelen’s agent, did not have a written authority to enter
into such contract of sale; hence, the contract entered into
between petitioners and respondent is void. A void contract
creates no rights or obligations or any juridical relations.
Therefore, the void contract cannot be the subject of
rescission.14
Aggrieved by the appellate court’s Decision, petitioners
elevated the case before this Court.

Issues

Petitioners raise the following arguments:

_______________

13 Rollo, pp. 26­27.


14 Id., at pp. 27­28.

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1. The appellate court gravely erred in ruling that the


contract entered into by respondent, in representation
of her daughter, and former defendant Eduardo Rubi
(deceased), is void; and
2. The appellate court erred in not ruling that the
petitioners are entitled to their counterclaims,
particularly specific performance.15

Ruling of the Court

We deny the petition.


Petitioners submit that the sale of land by an agent who
has no written authority is not void but merely voidable
given the spirit and intent of the law. Being only voidable,
the contract may be ratified, expressly or impliedly.
Petitioners argue that since the contract to sell was
sufficiently established through respondent’s admission
during the pre­trial conference, the appellate court should
have ruled on the matter of the counterclaim for specific
performance.16
Respondent argues that the appellate court cannot
lawfully rule on petitioners’ counterclaim because there is
nothing in the records to sustain petitioners’ claim that
they have fully paid the price of the lot.17 Respondent
points out that petitioners admitted the lack of written
authority to sell. Respondent also alleges that there was
clearly no meeting of the minds between the parties on the
purported contract of sale.18

Sale of Land through an Agent

Articles 1874 and 1878 of the Civil Code provide:

_______________

15 Id., at p. 15.
16 Id., at pp. 15­16.
17 Id., at p. 56.
18 Id., at p. 58.

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Alcantara vs. Nido

“Art. 1874. When a sale of a piece of land or any interest


therein is through an agent, the authority of the latter shall be in

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writing; otherwise, the sale shall be void.


Art. 1878. Special powers of attorney are necessary in the
following cases:
xxx
(5) To enter into any contract by which the ownership of an
immovable is transmitted or acquired either gratuitously or for a
valuable consideration;
x x x”

Article 1874 of the Civil Code explicitly requires a


written authority before an agent can sell an immovable
property. Based on a review of the records, there is
absolutely no proof of respondent’s written authority to sell
the lot to petitioners. In fact, during the pre­trial
conference, petitioners admitted that at the time of the
negotiation for the sale of the lot, petitioners were of the
belief that respondent was the owner of lot.19 Petitioners
only knew that Revelen was the owner of the lot during the
hearing of this case. Consequently, the sale of the lot by
respondent who did not have a written authority from
Revelen is void. A void contract produces no effect either
against or in favor of anyone and cannot be ratified.20
A special power of attorney is also necessary to enter
into any contract by which the ownership of an immovable
is transmitted or acquired for a valuable consideration.
Without an authority in writing, respondent cannot validly
sell the lot to petitioners. Hence, any “sale” in favor of the
petitioners is void.

_______________

19 Id., at p. 12.
20 Roberts v. Papio, G.R. No. 166714, 9 February 2007, 515 SCRA 346,
371.

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Our ruling in Dizon v. Court of Appeals21 is instructive:

“When the sale of a piece of land or any interest thereon is


through an agent, the authority of the latter shall be in writing;
otherwise, the sale shall be void. Thus the authority of an agent to
execute a contract for the sale of real estate must be conferred in
writing and must give him specific authority, either to conduct
the general business of the principal or to execute a binding

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contract containing terms and conditions which are in the


contract he did execute. A special power of attorney is necessary
to enter into any contract by which the ownership of an
immovable is transmitted or acquired either gratuitously or for a
valuable consideration. The express mandate required by law to
enable an appointee of an agency (couched) in general terms to
sell must be one that expressly mentions a sale or that includes a
sale as a necessary ingredient of the act mentioned. For the
principal to confer the right upon an agent to sell real estate, a
power of attorney must so express the powers of the agent in clear
and unmistakable language. When there is any reasonable doubt
that the language so used conveys such power, no such
construction shall be given the document.”

Further, Article 1318 of the Civil Code enumerates the


requisites for a valid contract, namely:
1. consent of the contracting parties;
2. object certain which is the subject matter of the
contract;
3. cause of the obligation which is established.
Respondent did not have the written authority to enter
into a contract to sell the lot. As the consent of Revelen, the
real owner of the lot, was not obtained in writing as
required by law, no contract was perfected. Consequently,
petitioners failed to validly acquire the lot.

_______________

21 444 Phil. 161, 165­166; 396 SCRA 151, 155 (2003) citing Cosmic
Lumber Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 332 Phil. 948, 957­958; 265 SCRA 168,
176 (1996).

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Alcantara vs. Nido

General Power of Attorney


On 25 March 1994, Revelen executed a General Power of
Attorney constituting respondent as her attorney­in­fact
and authorizing her to enter into any and all contracts and
agreements on Revelen’s behalf. The General Power of
Attorney was notarized by Larry A. Reid, Notary Public in
California, U.S.A.
Unfortunately, the General Power of Attorney presented
as “Exhibit C”22 in the RTC cannot also be the basis of
respondent’s written authority to sell the lot.
Section 25, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides:
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“Sec. 25. Proof of public or official record.—An official record


or an entry therein, when admissible for any purpose, may be
evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested
by the officer having the legal custody of the record, or by his
deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the
Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If
the office in which the record is kept is in a foreign country, the
certificate may be made by a secretary of embassy or legation
consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent or by any
officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the
foreign country in which the record is kept, and authenticated by
the seal of his office.”

In Teoco v. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company,23


quoting Lopez v. Court of Appeals,24 we explained:

“From the foregoing provision, when the special power of


attorney is executed and acknowledged before a notary public or
other competent official in a foreign country, it cannot be
admitted in evidence unless it is certified as such in accordance
with the foregoing provision of the rules by a secretary of embassy
or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent
or by any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed
in the foreign country in

_______________

22 Records, pp. 102­103.


23 G.R. No. 162333, 23 December 2008, 575 SCRA 82.
24 240 Phil. 811; 156 SCRA 838, 842 (1987).

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Alcantara vs. Nido

which the record is kept of said public document and


authenticated by the seal of his office. A city judge­notary who
notarized the document, as in this case, cannot issue such
certification.”25

Since the General Power of Attorney was executed and


acknowledged in the United States of America, it cannot be
admitted in evidence unless it is certified as such in
accordance with the Rules of Court by an officer in the
foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the United
States of America. Hence, this document has no probative
value.
Specific Performance

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Petitioners are not entitled to claim for specific perfor­


mance.  It must be stressed that when specific performance
is sought of a contract made with an agent, the agency
must be established by clear, certain and specific proof.26
To reiterate, there is a clear absence of proof that Revelen
authorized respondent to sell her lot.
Jurisdiction of the RTC
Section 33 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 129,27 as amended
by Republic Act No. 7691 provides:

“Section 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts,


Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in
Civil Cases.—Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts
and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
xxx
(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which
involve title to, possession of, real property, or any interest
therein where the assessed value of the property or interest
therein does not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in
civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not
exceed Fifty

_______________

25 Supra note 23 at pp. 95­96.


26 Litonjua, Jr. v. Eternit Corporation, G.R. No. 144805, 8 June 2006, 490
SCRA 204, 218­219.
27 The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.

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Alcantara vs. Nido

thousand pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of


whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs: x x
x”

In Geonzon Vda. de Barrera v. Heirs of Vicente


Legaspi,28 the Court explained:

“Before the amendments introduced by Republic Act No. 7691,


the plenary action of accion publiciana was to be brought before
the regional trial court. With the modifications introduced by R.A.
No. 7691 in 1994, the jurisdiction of the first level courts has been
expanded to include jurisdiction over other real actions where the
assessed value does not exceed P20,000, P50,000 where the action
is filed in Metro Manila. The first level courts thus have exclusive
original jurisdiction over accion publiciana and accion

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reivindicatoria where the assessed value of the real property does


not exceed the aforestated amounts. Accordingly, the
jurisdictional element is the assessed value of the property.
Assessed value is understood to be “the worth or value of
property established by taxing authorities on the basis of which
the tax rate is applied. Commonly, however, it does not represent
the true or market value of the property.”

The appellate court correctly ruled that even if the


complaint filed with the RTC involves a question of
ownership, the MTC still has jurisdiction because the
assessed value of the whole lot as stated in Tax Declaration
No. 09­0742 is P4,890.29 The MTC cannot be deprived of
jurisdiction over an ejectment case based merely on the
assertion of ownership over the litigated property, and the
underlying reason for this rule is to prevent any party from
trifling with the summary nature of an ejectment suit.30
The general rule is that dismissal of a case for lack of
jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings
since jurisdiction is conferred by law. The lack of
jurisdiction affects

_______________

28 G.R. No. 174346, 12 September 2008, 565 SCRA 192, 197.


29 Records, p. 100.
30 Sudaria v. Quiambao, G.R. No. 164305, 20 November 2007, 537
SCRA 689, 697.

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the very authority of the court to take cognizance of and to


render judgment on the action; otherwise, the inevitable
consequence would make the court’s decision a “lawless”
thing.31 Since the RTC has no jurisdiction over the
complaint filed, all the proceedings as well as the Decision
of 17 June 2002 are void. The complaint should perforce be
dismissed.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the
Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA­G.R.
CV No. 78215.
SO ORDERED.

Brion, Del Castillo, Abad and Perez, JJ., concur.

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Petition denied, judgment and resolution affirmed.

Notes.—Under the Civil Code, every partner is an agent


of the partnership for the purpose of its business, each one
may separately execute all acts of administration, unless a
specification of their respective duties has been agreed
upon, or else it is stipulated that any one of them shall not
act without the consent of all the others. (Mendoza vs.
Paule, 579 SCRA 341 [2009])
A special power of attorney is necessary for an agent to
enter into a contract by which the ownership of an
immovable property is transmitted or acquired, either
gratuitously or for a valuable consideration. (Pahud vs.
Court of Appeals, 597 SCRA 13 [2009])
Absence of a written authority to sell a piece of land is,
ipso jure, void, precisely to protect the interest of an
unsuspecting owner from being prejudiced by the
unwarranted act of another. (Pahud vs. Court of Appeals,
id.)

——o0o——

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31 Municipality of Sta. Fe v. Municipality of Aritao, G.R. No. 140474,


21 September 2007, 533 SCRA 586, 599.

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