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Facts: Sometime in 1988, PR Eradel entered and occupied P’s land in Baras, San Miguel, Surigao Del Sur with an
assessed value of PHP 5,240. P informed PR that the land was his and requested the latter to vacate said land. PR
however refused and threatened P with bodily harm. Despite repeated demands from P, PR occupied said land.
On June 16 1995, P filed a complaint for Recovery of Possession and Ownership with Damages and
Attorney’s Fees against PR, Apolinario and Inocencio Ruena before the RTC Tandag, Surigao del Sur. The Ruenas
entered into a compromise agreement with P that the former shall bound themselves to respect the ownership and
possession of P. PR was not a party to the agreement and was declared in default for failure to file his answer. P
presented his evidence ex parte sometime in February 1996 and on May 8 1996, judgment was rendered in favor of
him. PR was ordered to peacefully vacate and turn over the land and to pay P PHP2000 as annual rentals from 1988
until the time he vacated said land. He was also ordered to pay PHP 5000 as attorney’s fees. PR received a copy of the
decision on May 25, 1996. On June 10, 1996, PR filed a Motion for New Trial alleging that he has been occupying
the land as a tenant of Artemio Laurente, Sr., since 1958. He explained that he turned over the complaint and
summons to Laurente in the honest belief that as landlord, the latter had a better right to the land and was responsible
to defend any adverse claim on it. However, the trial court denied the motion for new trial
Meanwhile, an administrative case between P and applicant-contestants Romeo, Artemio and Jury Laurente,
remained pending with the Office of the Regional Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
in Davao City. Eventually, it was forwarded to the DENR Regional Office in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.
On July 24, 1996, PR filed before the RTC a Petition for Relief from Judgment, reiterating the same
allegation in his Motion for New Trial. He averred that unless there is a determination on who owned the land, he
could not be made to vacate the land. The trial court issued an order denying the Petition for Relief from Judgment. In
a MR of said order, PR alleged that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case, since the value of the land was only
P5,240 and therefore it was under the jurisdiction of the municipal trial court. The RTC denied the MR.
On January 1997, P filed a Motion for Execution, which the RTC granted. Entry of Judgment was made of record
and a writ of execution was issued by the RTC on February 27, 1997. On March 12, 1997, PR filed his petition for
certiorari before the Court of Appeals.
The CA granted PR’s petition. It declared the RTC’s decision, Orders and Writs of execution null and void.

(1) Jurisdiction of the RTC over the case;
(2) WON PR was not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC even after it successfully sought
affirmative relief therefrom; and
(3) WON PR’s failure to file his answer was justified.

(1) Jurisdiction
The MTC has JURISDICTION over the case.
SEC. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts in Criminal Cases.- Except in cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial
Courts and of the Sandiganbayan, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit
Trial Courts shall exercise:
(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or 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 thousand pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation
expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases of land not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such
property shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots.

“Grave abuse of discretion” is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment which is
equivalent to an excess or a lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to
an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of
law as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility. When
complaint was filed by P RA 7691 amending BP 129 had become effective, such that jurisdiction already belongs not
to the RTC but to the MTC pursuant to said amendment.

(2) WON PR was estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC even after it successfully sought
affirmative relief therefrom
In this case, we are in agreement with the Court of Appeals that he was not estopped. While participation in all stages
of a case before the trial court, including invocation of its authority in asking for affirmative relief, effectively bars a
party by estoppel from challenging the court’s jurisdiction, we note that estoppel has become an equitable defense that
is both substantive and remedial and its successful invocation can bar a right and not merely its equitable enforcement.
Hence, estoppel ought to be applied with caution. For estoppel to apply, the action giving rise thereto must be
unequivocal and intentional because, if misapplied, estoppel may become a tool of injustice.
The fundamental rule is that, the lack of jurisdiction of the court over an action cannot be waived by the parties, or
even cured by their silence, acquiescence or even by their express consent. Further, a party may assail the jurisdiction
of the court over the action at any stage of the proceedings and even on appeal. The appellate court did not err in
saying that the RTC should have declared itself barren of jurisdiction over the action. Even if private respondent
actively participated in the proceedings before said court, the doctrine of estoppel cannot still be properly invoked
against him because the question of lack of jurisdiction may be raised at anytime and at any stage of the action.
Precedents tell us that as a general rule, the jurisdiction of a court is not a question of acquiescence as a matter of fact,
but an issue of conferment as a matter of law. Also, neither waiver nor estoppel shall apply to confer jurisdiction upon
a court, barring highly meritorious and exceptional circumstances.
“The point simply is that when a party commits error in filing his suit or proceeding in a court that lacks
jurisdiction to take cognizance of the same, such act may not at once be deemed sufficient basis of estoppel.
It could have been the result of an honest mistake, or of divergent interpretations of doubtful legal
provisions. If any fault is to be imputed to a party taking such course of action, part of the blame
should be placed on the court which shall entertain the suit, thereby lulling the parties into believing
that they pursued their remedies in the correct forum. Under the rules, it is the duty of the court to
dismiss an action ‘whenever it appears that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter.’ (Sec. 2,
Rule 9, Rules of Court) Should the Court render a judgment without jurisdiction, such judgment may be
impeached or annulled for lack of jurisdiction (Sec. 30, Rule 132, Ibid), within ten (10) years from the
finality of the same.” [Emphasis ours.]

This farmer, who is now the PR, ought not to be penalized when he claims that he made an honest mistake
when he initially submitted his motions before the RTC, before he realized that the controversy was outside the RTC’s
cognizance but within the jurisdiction of the municipal trial court. To hold him in estoppel as the RTC did would
amount to foreclosing his avenue to obtain a proper resolution of his case. Furthermore, if the RTC’s order were to be
sustained, he would be evicted from the land prematurely, while RED Conflict Case No. 1029 would remain
unresolved. Such eviction on a technicality if allowed could result in an injustice, if it is later found that he has a legal
right to till the land he now occupies as tenant-lessee.

(3) Justified failure of filing an answer

Suffice it to say that, given the circumstances in this case, no error was committed on this score by
respondent appellate court. Since the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case, private respondent had justifiable reason
in law not to file an answer, aside from the fact that he believed the suit was properly his landlord’s concern.

[G.R. No. 139539. February 5, 2002]

SANTIAGO, respondents.

On March 16, 1994, P filed a complaint for “damages and injunction, with preliminary injunction” with
RTC Branch 93 Quezon City. In the complaint, P prayed that PR and his agents be enjoined from - claiming
possession and ownership over Lot No. 68 of the Tala Estate Subdivision, Quezon City; that PR and his agents be
prevented from making use of the vacant lot as a jeepney terminal; that Santiago be ordered to pay P P650.00 daily as
lost income for the use of the lot until possession is restored to the latter; and that PR be directed to pay plaintiff
Ceroferr moral, actual and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees, plus expenses of litigation. PR in his answer
alleged that the disputed vacant lot is within No. 90 of the Tala Estate Subdivision, covered by his TCT; that he was
not claiming any portion of Lot No. 68 claimed by P; that he had the legal right to fence Lot No. 90 since this
belonged to him, and he had a permit for the purpose; that P had no color of right over Lot No. 90 and, hence, was not
entitled to an injunction to prevent PR from exercising acts of ownership thereon; and that the complaint did not state
a cause of action.
In the course of the proceedings, an important issue metamorphosed as a result of the conflicting claims of
the parties over the vacant lot actually used as a jeepney terminal – the exact identity and location thereof. There was a
verification survey, followed by a relocation survey, whereby it would appear that the vacant lot is inside Lot No. 68.
The outcome of the survey, however, was vigorously objected to by defendant who insisted that the area is inside his
lot. PR, in his manifestation, adverted to the report of a geodetic engineer, Mariano V. Flotildes, to the effect that the
disputed portion is inside the boundaries of Lot No. 90 of the subdivision, which is separate and distinct from, Lot No.
68, and that the two lots are separated by a concrete fence.
PR filed a motion to dismiss the complaint premised primarily on his contention that the trial court cannot
adjudicate the issue of damages without passing over the conflicting claims of ownership of the parties over the
disputed lot.
“On May 14, 1996, the trial court dismissed the case for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction. The
court held that P was in effect impugning the title of PR which could not be done in the case for damages and
injunction before it. The court cited the hoary rule that a Torens certificate of title cannot be the subject of collateral
attack but can only be challenged through a direct proceeding. It concluded that it could not proceed to decide P’s
claim for damages and injunction for lack of jurisdiction because its judgment would depend upon a determination of
the validity of defendant’s title and the identity of the land covered by it.
P appealed to the CA insisting that P has a valid cause of action and, that in any event, the trial court could
proceed to try and decide the case before it since, under present law, there is now no substantial distinction between
the general jurisdiction vested in a regional trial court and its limited jurisdiction when acting as a land
registration court. The CA dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.

(1) Whether Ceroferr’s complaint states a sufficient cause of action and
(2) Whether the trial court has jurisdiction to determine the identity and location of the vacant lot involved in the case.

(1) Whether Ceroferr’s complaint states a sufficient cause of action
The rules of procedure require that the complaint must state a concise statement of the ultimate facts or the
essential facts constituting the plaintiff’s cause of action. A fact is essential if it cannot be stricken out without leaving
the statement of the cause of action inadequate. A complaint states a cause of action only when it has its three
indispensable elements, namely:
(1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or is created;
(2) an obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and
(3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant violative of the right of plaintiff or constituting a breach
of the obligation of defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages.
If these elements are not extant, the complaint becomes vulnerable to a motion to dismiss on the ground of
failure to state a cause of action.
These elements are present in the case at bar. P’s cause of action has been sufficiently averred in the
complaint. If it were admitted that the right of ownership of P to the peaceful use and possession of Lot 68 was
violated by PR’s act of encroachment and fencing of the same, then P would be entitled to damages.

(2) Whether the trial court has jurisdiction to determine the identity and location of the vacant lot involved in
the case.
The trial court has jurisdiction to determine the identity and location of the vacant lot in question.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law and is determined by the allegations of the complaint
irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the claims asserted therein. The jurisdiction of a court
over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of the complaint and cannot be made to depend upon the
defenses set up in the answer or pleadings filed by the defendant.
While the lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of an action, nevertheless, the party
raising such question may be estopped if he has actively taken part in the very proceedings which he questions and he
only objects to the court’s jurisdiction because the judgment or the order subsequently rendered is adverse to him.
In this case, PR may be considered estopped to question the jurisdiction of the trial court for he took an active
part in the case. In his answer, PR did not question the jurisdiction of the trial court to grant the reliefs prayed for in
the complaint. His geodetic engineers were present in the first and second surveys that the LRA conducted. It was
only when the second survey report showed results adverse to his case that he submitted a motion to dismiss.
Both parties in this case claim that the vacant lot is within their property. This is an issue that can be best
resolved by the trial court in the exercise of its general jurisdiction.
After the land has been originally registered, the Court of Land Registration ceases to have jurisdiction over
contests concerning the location of boundary lines. In such case, the action in personam has to be instituted before an
ordinary court of general jurisdiction.
The RTC has jurisdiction to determine the precise identity and location of the vacant lot used as a jeepney

Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 73, Antipolo, Rizal, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.


(1) Whether the amendments were formal not substantial
(1) Whether the amendments were formal not substantial
Verily, the amended date in the 19 Informations is not at all material to the offenses charged because the basis
thereof is not the date of the construction but the defective construction of the 46 dwelling units. We could not
conceive how such innocuous amendment may prejudice the rights of P since it would not alter the nature of the
offense charged. In fact, the subject amendment is permissible under Section 14, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure, which provides:
“SEC. 14. Amendment or substitution. - A complaint or information may be amended, in form or substance,
without leave of court, at any time before the accused enters his plea. After the plea and during trial, a
formal amendment may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing
prejudice to the rights of the accused.

[G.R. No. 138955. October 29, 2002]


Facts: PR Manotok Realty filed a complaint for Unlwaful Detainer against P with the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Marikina Branch 76. The complaint alleged that PR is the registered owner of Lot 14, Block 9 located at Manotok-
Ramos Subdivision IX. Sometime in September 18, 1961, P and PR entered into a Contract to Sell covering the
subject property. However, on September 14, 1973, PR notarially rescinded the contract due to P’s failure to pay the
stipulated monthly payments. P continued in her possession and occupation of subject parcel of land without any legal
basis except by mere tolerance of PR. Since and from that time of the service of the notice of rescission and the
demand to vacate on September 14, 1973, P has possessed and occupied said property without making any payment to
PR of such reasonable compensation for her use and occupancy thereof; that on August 3, 1995, PR needing said
property for its own use, made a final demand to P, through counsel, to vacate subject property within 3 months from
receipt thereof; that notwithstanding however her receipt of said final demand and the lapse of the 3 months period
within which to vacate, P unlawfully failed and refused to vacate the same without legal basis.
P denied the material allegations of the complaint. By way of special and affirmative defenses, alleged that
the notice of cancellation has not been received by P hence, a condition precedent has not been complied with, thus
subject to dismissal; that she has complied with all the terms and conditions of the Contract to Sell, but Manotok
Realty, Inc. has not been recording P’s compliance, amounting to PR’s dealing in bad faith and with malice
afterthought; and by way of special and affirmative defense alleged that there is no cause of action and therefore, the
complaint must be dismissed; and by way of counterclaim seeks moral and exemplary damages in the total amount of
P200,000.00 and an award of attorney’s fee in the amount of P50,000.00.
MeTC Judge Jerry B. Gonzales dismissed the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. Said court
ruled that the case is one of ejectment through accion publiciana, jurisdiction of which belongs to the RTC because the
cause of action is tolerance. PR then appealed to RTC Marikina Branch 273 which reversed the order of MeTC and
ruled that case is one of unlawful detainer and that the MeTC has jurisdiction over it. Aggrieved, P appealed said
order with the CA which affirmed the RTC’s decision.
P elevated the case to the SC. She averred in her petition that the matter involved in the present
petition falls squarely within the jurisdiction of HLURB. She further asserts that she could not be estopped from
raising the question of lack of jurisdiction of the courts to try and hear the case because, in her position paper filed
with the MeTC, she has already raised the argument that the matter was cognizable by the HLURB.

(1) Whether P could still raise the issue of jurisdiction at this stage of proceedings; and
(2) Whether the case falls within exclusive jurisdiction of HLURB.

Ruling: The petition is DEVOID OF MERIT.

(1) Whether P could still raise the issue of jurisdiction at this stage of proceedings; and
No. We hold that P is already estopped from raising the issue of jurisdiction. What she raised in her position
paper as a special and affirmative defense was the purported failure of the complaint to state a cause of action, arising
from an alleged failure to exhaust administrative remedies before the HLURB as a condition precedent to filing a case
in court. This is not an explicit attack on the court’s jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint, but merely a
claim for the need to go through an alleged jurisdictional requirement, namely exhaustion of administrative remedies.
Granted that she placed MeTC’s jurisdiction at issue, on the supposition that it is the HLURB that has jurisdiction
over Manotok’s complaint below, she abandoned her theory after she obtained a favorable judgment at the MeTC.
She chose not to appeal the MeTC’s decision and instead consistently adopted in her pleadings before the RTC and
CA, the MeTC’s ruling that the action is one for accion publiciana. Nowhere in her pleadings before the RTC and
CA did she raise the argument that jurisdiction properly lies with the HLURB. As earlier mentioned, it was only in
her present petition with this Court that she squarely asserted for the first time that the HLURB has exclusive
jurisdiction over the instant case.
Indeed, the general rule is that a question of jurisdiction may be raised at any time, even on appeal, provided
that doing so does not result in a mockery of the tenets of fair play. When, however, a party adopts a particular
theory, and the case is tried and decided upon that theory in the court below, he will not be permitted to change his
theory on appeal. Where the case was tried by the lower court and the parties on a certain theory, it will be reviewed
and decided on that theory, insofar as the pleadings, liberally construed, permit, and not be approached from a
different point of view. P is bound by the theory behind her arguments before the RTC and CA that the case is
properly an accion publiciana as the cause of action arises from the termination of possession by mere tolerance. Her
assertion now that the issue involves the determination of whether or not the terms and conditions of the contract to
sell have been violated by PR, which must be decided by the HLURB, constitutes a change of theory that could
require presentation of further evidence. Given this premise, the Court cannot countenance P’s act of adopting
inconsistent postures by attacking the jurisdiction of the regular courts to which she has submitted, voluntarily.
Estoppel bars her from doing so.

(2) Whether the case falls within exclusive jurisdiction of HLURB.

Sec. 1 PD 1344. In the exercise of its function to regulate the real estate trade and business and in addition to its
powers provided for in Presidential Decree No. 957, the National Housing Authority shall have exclusive
jurisdiction to hear and decide the cases of the following nature:
a. Unsound real estate business practices;
b. Claims involving refund and any other claims filed by subdivision lot or condominium unit buyer against
the project owner, developer, dealer, broker or salesman; and
c. Cases involving specific performance of contractual and statutory obligations filed by buyers of
subdivision lot or condominium unit against the owner, developer, dealer, broker or salesman.

In our view, the mere relationship between the parties, i.e., that of being subdivision owner/developer and
subdivision lot buyer, does not automatically vest jurisdiction in the HLURB. For an action to fall within the
exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB, the decisive element is the nature of the action as enumerated in Section 1 of
P.D. 1344. On this matter, we have consistently held that the concerned administrative agency, the National Housing
Authority (NHA) before and now the HLURB, has jurisdiction over complaints aimed at compelling the subdivision
developer to comply with its contractual and statutory obligations.
. Perusal of paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of Sec. 1, P.D. 1344 abovecited, vis-à-vis the allegations of the
complaint for ejectment filed by Manotok Realty, Inc. with the MeTC, shows clearly that the HLURB has no
jurisdiction over the complaint. Note particularly pars. (b) and (c) as worded, where the HLURB’s jurisdiction
concerns cases commenced by subdivision lot or condominium unit buyers. As to par. (a), concerning “unsound real
estate practices,” it would appear that the logical complainant would be the buyers and customers against the sellers
(subdivision owners and developers or condominium builders and realtors), and not vice versa.
The jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of the complaint and
cannot be made to depend upon the defenses set up in the answer or pleadings filed by the defendant. Since there is no
dispute that the allegations of the complaint filed below by Manotok Realty, Inc., sufficiently describe unlawful
detainer, the MeTC of Marikina properly acquired jurisdiction over the subject matter thereof.

Division, Manila, HON. QUIRICO G. DEFENSOR, Judge, RTC, Branch 36, Sixth Judicial Region, Iloilo City,
and LUCKY HOMES, INC., represented by WILSON JESENA, JR., as Manager, respondents.

Facts: Sometime in 1970, petitioner spouses purchased Lot 19 situated in Iloilo from PR Lucky Homes. Said lot was
mortgaged to SSS as security for their housing loan. P then started the construction of their house on Lot No. 18, not
on Lot No. 19 as PR mistakenly identified Lot No. 18 as Lot No. 19. Upon realizing its error, PR informed P of such
mistake but the latter offered to buy Lot No. 18 in order to widen their premises. Thus, P continued with the
construction of their house. However, P defaulted in the payment of their housing loan from SSS. Consequently, Lot
No. 19 was foreclosed by SSS and P’s certificate of title was cancelled and a new one was issued in the name of SSS.
After Lot No. 19 was foreclosed, P offered to swap Lot Nos. 18 and 19 and demanded from PR that their contract of
sale be reformed and another deed of sale be executed with respect to Lot No. 18, considering that their house was
built therein. However, PR refused. This prompted P to file, on June 13, 1996, an action for reformation of contract
and damages with the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 36. The RTC dismissed the complaint for lack of
On June 1998, a Writ of Execution was issued by the RTC. P filed an urgent motion to recall writ of
execution alleging that the HLURB, not the RTC, has jurisdiction over the case. Conformably, P spouses filed a new
complaint against PR with the HLURB and thereafter filed a petition for annulment of judgment of RTC’s decision
with the CA premised on lack of jurisdiction. CA dismissed the petition since P was estopped to raise the issue of

Issue(s): Whether Ps are estopped from raising lack of jurisdiction

Ruling: P’s are ESTOPPED.

While an order or decision rendered without jurisdiction is a total nullity and may be assailed at any stage,
active participation in the proceedings in the court which rendered the order or decision will bar such party from
attacking its jurisdiction. As we held in the leading case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy:
“A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways and for different reasons. Thus
we speak of estoppel in pais, or estoppel by deed or by record, and of estoppel by laches.
x x x
“It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his
opponent and, after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate, or question that same jurisdiction x x
x x [T]he question whether the court had jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the parties
was not important in such cases because the party is barred from such conduct not because the judgment or
order of the court is valid and conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason that such a practice can not
be tolerated –– obviously for reasons of public policy.”
Tijam has been reiterated in many succeeding cases. Thus, in Orosa vs. Court of Appeals; Ang Ping vs.
Court of Appeals; Salva vs. Court of Appeals; National Steel Corporation vs. Court of Appeals; Province of Bulacan
vs. Court of Appeals; PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, this Court affirmed the rule
that a party’s active participation in all stages of the case before the trial court, which includes invoking the court’s
authority to grant affirmative relief, effectively estops such party from later challenging that same court’s jurisdiction.
In the case at bar, it was P themselves who invoked the jurisdiction of the court a quo by instituting an action
for reformation of contract against private respondents. It appears that, in the proceedings before the trial court, P
vigorously asserted their cause from start to finish. Not even once did petitioners ever raise the issue of the court’s
jurisdiction during the entire proceedings, which lasted for two years. It was only after the trial court rendered its
decision and issued a writ of execution against them in 1998 did petitioners first raise the issue of jurisdiction ─ and it
was only because said decision was unfavorable to them. Petitioners thus effectively waived their right to question the
court’s jurisdiction over the case they themselves filed.
Public policy dictates that this Court must strongly condemn any double-dealing by parties who are disposed
to trifle with the courts by deliberately taking inconsistent positions, in utter disregard of the elementary principles of
justice and good faith. There is no denying that, in this case, petitioners never raised the issue of jurisdiction
throughout the entire proceedings in the trial court. Instead, they voluntarily and willingly submitted themselves to
the jurisdiction of said court. It is now too late in the day for them to repudiate the jurisdiction they were invoking all

[G.R. No. 124644. February 5, 2004]

ARNEL ESCOBAL, petitioner, vs. HON. FRANCIS GARCHITORENA, Presiding Justice of the
Sandiganbayan, Atty. Luisabel Alfonso-Cortez, Executive Clerk of Court IV of the Sandiganbayan, Hon. David
C. Naval, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Naga City, Branch 21, Luz N. Nueca, respondents.

Facts: P is a graduate of PMA, a member of the AFP and the Philippine Constabulary, as well as the Intelligence
Group of the Philippine National Police. On March 16, 1990, the P was conducting surveillance operations on drug
trafficking at the Sa Harong Café Bar and Restaurant located along Barlin St., Naga City. He somehow got involved
in a shooting incident, resulting in the death of one Rodney Nueca. On February 6, 1991, an amended Information was
filed with the RTC of Naga City, Branch 21 charging Pand a certain Natividad Bombita, Jr. alias “Jun Bombita” with
RTC issued an Order preventively suspending the P from the service under Presidential Decree No. 971, as
amended by P.D. No. 1847. The General Headquarters of the PNP issued Special Order No. 91, preventively
suspending the P from the service until the case was terminated. P was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest. When
arraigned on April 9, 1991, the P pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. Thereafter, on December 23, 1991, he
filed a Motion to Quash the Information alleging that as mandated by C.A. No. 408, in relation to Section 1, PD No.
1822 and Section 95 of R.A. No. 6975, the court martial, not the RTC, had jurisdiction over criminal cases involving
PNP members and officers.
Pending the resolution of the motion, P on June 25, 1993 requested the Chief of the PNP for his
reinstatement. He alleged that under R.A. No. 6975, his suspension should last for only 90 days, and, having served
the same, he should now be reinstated. On September 23, 1993, the PNP Region V Headquarters wrote Judge David
C. Naval requesting information on whether he issued an order lifting the P’s suspension. The RTC did not reply.
Thus, on February 22, 1994, the P filed a motion in the RTC for the lifting of the order of suspension. He alleged that
he had served the 90-day preventive suspension and pleaded for compassionate justice. The RTC denied the motion.
Trial thereafter proceeded, and the prosecution rested its case. The P commenced the presentation of his evidence.
On July 20, 1994, he filed a Motion to Dismiss the case. Citing Republic of the Philippines v. Asuncion, et al., he
argued that since he committed the crime in the performance of his duties, the Sandiganbayan had exclusive
jurisdiction over the case.
RTC issued an Order declaring that the P committed the crime charged while not in the performance of his
official function. It added that upon the enactment of R.A. No. 7975, the issue had become moot and academic. The
amendatory law transferred the jurisdiction over the offense charged from the Sandiganbayan to the RTC since the P
did not have a salary grade of “27”. The trial court nevertheless ordered the prosecution to amend the Information
pursuant to the ruling in Republic v. Asuncion and R.A. No. 7975. The amendment consisted in the inclusion therein
of an allegation that the offense charged was not committed by the P in the performance of his duties/functions, nor in
relation to his office. P filed a motion for the reconsideration of the said order. He asserted that the trial court failed to
consider the exceptions to the prohibition. He asserted that R.A. No. 7975, which was enacted on March 30, 1995,
could not be applied retroactively.
RTC issued an Order reversing and setting aside its Order. It declared that based on the P’s evidence, he was
on official mission when the shooting occurred. It concluded that the prosecution failed to adduce controverting
evidence thereto. The RTC ordered the public prosecutor to file a Re-Amended Information and to allege that the
offense charged was committed by the P in the performance of his duties/functions or in relation to his office; and,
conformably to R.A. No. 7975, to thereafter transmit the same, as well as the complete records with the stenographic
notes, to the Sandiganbayan.
On January 8, 1996, the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan ordered the Executive Clerk of Court IVto
return the records of Criminal Case to the court of origin, RTC of Naga City, Branch 21. It reasoned that under P.D.
No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975, the RTC retained jurisdiction over the case, considering that the P had a
salary grade of “23.” Furthermore, the prosecution had already rested its case and the P had commenced presenting
his evidence in the RTC; following the rule on continuity of jurisdiction, the latter court should continue with the case
and render judgment therein after trial.

Issue(s): whether the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of his discretion amounting to
excess or lack of jurisdiction in ordering the remand of the case to the RTC.

Ruling: The respondent Presiding Justice acted in accordance with law and the rulings of this Court when he ordered
the remand of the case to the RTC, the court of origin.
The jurisdiction of the court over criminal cases is determined by the allegations in the Information or the
Complaint and the statute in effect at the time of the commencement of the action, unless such statute provides for a
retroactive application thereof. The jurisdictional requirements must be alleged in the Information. Such jurisdiction
of the court acquired at the inception of the case continues until the case is terminated.
Under Section 4(a) of P.D. No. 1606 as amended by P.D. No. 1861, the Sandiganbayan had exclusive
jurisdiction in all cases involving the following:
(1) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code;
(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation to their office,
including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, whether simple or complexed
with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment
for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00 ….
However, for the Sandiganbayan to have exclusive jurisdiction under the said law over crimes committed by
public officers in relation to their office, it is essential that the facts showing the intimate relation between the office
of the offender and the discharge of official duties must be alleged in the Information. It is not enough to merely
allege in the Information that the crime charged was committed by the offender in relation to his office because
that would be a conclusion of law. The amended Information filed with the RTC against the petitioner does not
contain any allegation showing the intimate relation between his office and the discharge of his duties. Hence, the
RTC had jurisdiction over the offense charged when on November 24, 1995, it ordered the re-amendment of the
Information to include therein an allegation that the petitioner committed the crime in relation to office. The trial court
erred when it ordered the elevation of the records to the Sandiganbayan. It bears stressing that R.A. No. 7975
amending P.D. No. 1606 was already in effect and under Section 2 of the law:
In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to salary grade “27” or
higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying the rank of
superintendent or higher, or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper
Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court,
as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
Under the law, even if the offender committed the crime charged in relation to his office but occupies a
position corresponding to a salary grade below “27,” the proper Regional Trial Court or Municipal Trial Court, as the
case may be, shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the case. In this case, the petitioner was a Police Senior Inspector,
with salary grade “23.” He was charged with homicide punishable by reclusion temporal. Hence, the RTC had
exclusive jurisdiction over the crime charged conformably to Sections 20 and 32 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as
amended by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7691.
The petitioner’s contention that R.A. No. 7975 should not be applied retroactively has no legal basis. It bears
stressing that R.A. No. 7975 is a substantive procedural law which may be applied retroactively.

G.R. No.148004 January 22, 2007

VINCENT E. OMICTIN, Petitioner vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS (Special Twelfth Division) and
GEORGE I. LAGOS, Respondents.

Facts: Petitioner Vincent E. Omictin, Operations Manager Ad Interim of Saag Phils., Inc., filed a complaint for two
counts of estafa with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati against PR George I. Lagos. He alleged that PR,
despite repeated demands, refused to return the 2 company vehicles entrusted to him when he was still the president of
Saag Phils., Inc. PR was charged with the crime of estafa under Article 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC before the RTC
Branch 57 of Makati City.
On June 24, 1999, PR filed a motion to suspend proceedings on the basis of a prejudicial question because of
a pending petition with the SEC involving the same parties.
It appears that on January 7, 1999, PR filed with SEC a declaration of nullity of the respective appointments of
Alex Y. Tan and P as President Ad Interim and Operations Manager Ad Interim of Saag Phils., Inc., declaration of
dividends, recovery of share in the profits, involuntary dissolution and the appointment of a receiver, recovery of
damages and an application for a TRO and injunction against Saag (S) Pte. Ltd., Nicholas Ng, Janifer Yeo, Tan and P.
In the action before the SEC, PR averred that Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. is a foreign corporation organized and existing
under the laws of Singapore, and is fully owned by Saag Corporation (Bhd). He was appointed as Area Sales Manager
in the Philippines by Thiang Shiang Hiang, Manager of Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. Pursuant to his appointment, PR was
authorized to organize a local joint venture corporation to be known as Saag Philippines, Inc. for the wholesale trade
and service of industrial products for oil, gas and power industries in the Philippines. On September 1994, Saag
Philippines, Inc. was incorporated with Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. as the majority stockholder. PR was appointed to the board
of directors, along with Rommel I. Lagos, Jose E. Geronimo, Gan Ching Lai and Thiang Shiang Hiang, and was
elected president of the domestic corporation.
Due to intra-corporate disputes, Gan and Thiang resigned and divested their shares in Saag Corporation (Bhd),
thereby resulting in a change in the controlling interest in Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. PR resigned his post as president of Saag
Phils., Inc. while still retaining his position as a director of the company. According to PR, the joint venture
agreement (JVA) between him or Saag Phils., Inc. and Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. provided that should the controlling interest
in the latter company, or its parent company Saag Corp. (Bhd), be acquired by any other person or entity without his
prior consent, he has the option either to require the other stockholders to purchase his shares or to terminate the JVA
and dissolve Saag Phils., Inc. altogether. Thus, pursuant to this provision, since he did not give his consent as regards
the transfer of shares made by Gan and Thiang, he made several requests to Nicholas Ng, who replaced Gan as
director, and Janifer Yeo, Executive Director of Saag (S) Pte. Ltd., to call for a board meeting in order to discuss the
following: a) implementation of the board resolution declaring dividends; b) acquisition of private respondent’s shares
by Saag (S) Pte. Ltd.; c) dissolution of Saag Phils., Inc.; and d) the termination of the JVA. Ng and Yeo failed to
appear, however, in the scheduled board meetings. Instead, on September 30, 1998 they issued a letter appointing
Alex Y. Tan as President Ad Interim of Saag Phils., Inc. Tan, in turn, appointed petitioner Omictin as the company’s
Operations Manager Ad Interim.
Citing as a reason the absence of a board resolution authorizing the continued operations of Saag Phils., Inc.,
PR retained his possession of the office equipment of the company in a fiduciary capacity as director of the
corporation pending its dissolution and/or the resolution of the intra-corporate dispute. PR stressed that Tan’s
appointment was invalid because it was in derogation of the company by-laws requiring that the president must be
chosen from among the directors, and elected by the affirmative vote of a majority of all the members of the board of
directors. As Tan’s appointment did not have the acquiescence of the board of directors, P’s appointment by the
former is likewise allegedly invalid. Thus, neither has the power or the authority to represent or act for Saag Phils.,
Inc. in any transaction or action before the SEC or any court of justice.
RTC denied PR’s motion to suspend proceedings. His MR was subsequently denied. PR appealed to the CA
which granted his petition and suspended the proceedings until the termination of the case with the SEC.
Incidentally, on January 18, 2001, the SEC case was transferred to the RTC of Mandaluyong City, Branch
214, pursuant to A.M. No. 00-11-03-SC implementing the Securities and Regulation Code (Republic Act No. 8799)
enacted on July 19, 2000, vesting in the RTCs jurisdiction over intra-corporate disputes.

In sum, the main issue is whether or not a prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension of the criminal
proceedings pending the resolution of the intra-corporate controversy that was originally filed with the SEC.
A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case, the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of
the issue involved therein and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. Here, the case which was lodged
originally before the SEC and which is now pending before the RTC of Mandaluyong City by virtue of RA 8799
involves facts that are intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution is based.
Ultimately, the resolution of the issues raised in the intra-corporate dispute will determine the guilt or
innocence of private respondent in the crime of estafa filed against him by petitioner before the RTC of Makati. As
correctly stated by the CA, one of the elements of the crime of estafa with abuse of confidence under Article 315, par.
1(b) of the Revised Penal Code is a demand made by the offended party to the offender
Logically, under the circumstances, since the alleged offended party is Saag Phils., Inc., the validity of the
demand for the delivery of the subject vehicles rests upon the authority of the person making such a demand on the
company’s behalf. Private respondent is challenging petitioner’s authority to act for Saag Phils., Inc. in the corporate
case pending before the RTC of Mandaluyong, Branch 214. Taken in this light, if the supposed authority of petitioner
is found to be defective, it is as if no demand was ever made, hence, the prosecution for estafa cannot prosper.
Moreover, the mere failure to return the thing received for safekeeping or on commission, or for administration, or
under any other obligation involving the duty to deliver or to return the same or deliver the value thereof to the owner
could only give rise to a civil action and does not constitute the crime of estafa. This is because the crime is committed
by misappropriating or converting money or goods received by the offender under a lawful transaction.

Likewise, by analogy, the doctrine of primary jurisdiction may be applied in this case. The issues raised by
petitioner particularly the status of Saag Phils., Inc. vis-à-vis Saag (S) Pte. Ltd., as well as the question regarding the
supposed authority of the latter to make a demand on behalf of the company, are proper subjects for the determination
of the tribunal hearing the intra-corporate case which in this case is the RTC of Mandaluyong, Branch 214. These
issues would have been referred to the expertise of the SEC in accordance with the doctrine of primary jurisdiction
had the case not been transferred to the RTC of Mandaluyong.

Strictly speaking, the objective of the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is to guide a court in determining whether
it should refrain from exercising its jurisdiction until after an administrative agency has determined some question or
some aspect of some question arising in the proceeding before the court. The court cannot or will not determine a
controversy involving a question which is within the jurisdiction of the administrative tribunal prior to resolving the
same, where the question demands the exercise of sound administrative discretion requiring special knowledge,
experience and services in determining technical and intricate matters of fact.

While the above doctrine refers specifically to an administrative tribunal, the Court believes that the
circumstances in the instant case do not proscribe the application of the doctrine, as the role of an administrative
tribunal such as the SEC in determining technical and intricate matters of special competence has been taken on by
specially designated RTCs by virtue of Republic Act No. 8799. Hence, the RTC of Mandaluyong where the intra-
corporate case is pending has the primary jurisdiction to determine the issues under contention relating to the status of
the domestic corporation, Saag Phils., Inc., vis-à-vis Saag Pte. Ltd.; and the authority of petitioner to act on behalf of
the domestic corporation, the determination of which will have a direct bearing on the criminal case. The law
recognizes that, in place of the SEC, the regular courts now have the legal competence to decide intra-corporate

G.R. No. 154599. January 21, 2004]


Facts: P Liga ng mga Barangay National is the national organization of all the barangays in the Philippines. Pursuant
to Section 492 of LGC, the P constitutes the duly elected presidents of highly urbanized cities, provincial chapters, the
metropolitan Manila Chapter, and metropolitan political subdivision chapters.
Section 493 of that law provides that “the liga at the municipal, city, provincial, metropolitan political
subdivision, and national levels directly elect a president, a vice-president, and five (5) members of the board of
directors.” All other matters not provided for in the law affecting the internal organization of the leagues of local
government units shall be governed by their respective constitution and by-laws, which must always conform to the
provisions of the Constitution and existing laws.
On March 2000, the P adopted and ratified its own Constitution and By-laws to govern its internal
organization. Section 1, third paragraph, Article XI of said Constitution and By-Laws states that “all other election
matters not covered in this Article shall be governed by the “Liga Election Code” or such other rules as may be
promulgated by the National Liga Executive Board in conformity with the provisions of existing laws.” Pursuant to
said section, P adopted and ratified its own “Liga Election Code.”
On 28 June 2002, respondent City Council of Manila enacted Ordinance No. 8039, Series of 2002, providing,
among other things, for the election of representatives of the District Chapters in the City Chapter of Manila and
setting the elections for both chapters thirty days after the barangay elections.
The assailed ordinance was later transmitted to respondent City Mayor Jose L. Atienza, Jr., for his signature
and approval. Upon being informed that the ordinance had been forwarded to the Office of the City Mayor, the P sent
respondent Mayor of Manila a letter requesting him that said ordinance be vetoed considering that it encroached
upon, or even assumed, the functions of the Liga through legislation, a function which was clearly beyond the
ambit of the powers of the City Council. Respondent Mayor, however, signed and approved the assailed city
ordinance and issued on 15 August 2002 Executive Order No. 011, Series of 2002, to implement the ordinance.
Hence, this petition with the SC. The respondents also aver that the P cannot claim that it has no other
recourse in addressing its grievance other than this petition for certiorari. As a matter of fact, there are two cases
pending before Branches 33 and 51 of the RTC of Manila (one is for mandamus; the other, for declaratory relief) and
three in the Court of Appeals (one is for prohibition; the two other cases, for quo warranto), which are all akin to the
present petition in the sense that the relief being sought therein is the declaration of the invalidity of the subject
ordinance. Clearly, the P may ask the RTC or the CA the relief being prayed for before the SC. Moreover, the P
failed to prove discernible compelling reasons attending the present petition that would warrant cognizance of the
present petition by this Court.

(1) Whether the assailed ordinance is invalid for contradicting the Liga Election Code. P avers that
Manila City Council encroaches upon, or even assumes, the functions of the Liga by prescribing,
through legislation, the manner of conducting the Liga elections other than what has been provided for
by the Liga Constitution and By-laws and the Liga Election Code.
(2) Whether P respected the “Hierarchy of Courts”.

Ruling: Petition DISMISSED

(1) Whether the assailed ordinance is invalid for contradicting the Liga Election Code. P avers that
Manila City Council encroaches upon, or even assumes, the functions of the Liga by prescribing, through
legislation, the manner of conducting the Liga elections other than what has been provided for by the Liga
Constitution and By-laws and the Liga Election Code.
First, the respondents neither acted in any judicial or quasi-judicial capacity nor arrogated unto themselves any
judicial or quasi-judicial prerogatives. A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is
a special civil action that may be invoked only against a tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
A respondent is said to be exercising judicial function where he has the power to determine what the law is
and what the legal rights of the parties are, and then undertakes to determine these questions and adjudicate upon the
rights of the parties. Quasi-judicial function, on the other hand, is “a term which applies to the actions, discretion, etc.,
of public administrative officers or bodies … 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
Before a tribunal, board, or officer may exercise judicial or quasi-judicial acts, it is necessary that there be a
law that gives rise to some specific rights of persons or property under which adverse claims to such rights are made,
and the controversy ensuing therefrom is brought before a tribunal, board, or officer clothed with power and authority
to determine the law and adjudicate the respective rights of the contending parties.
The respondents do not fall within the ambit of tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-
judicial functions. As correctly pointed out by the respondents, the enactment by the City Council of Manila of the
assailed ordinance and the issuance by respondent Mayor of the questioned executive order were done in the exercise
of legislative and executive functions, respectively, and not of judicial or quasi-judicial functions. On this score
alone, certiorari will not lie.

(2) Whether P respected the “Hierarchy of Courts”.

Second, although the instant petition is styled as a petition for certiorari, in essence, it seeks the declaration by
this Court of the unconstitutionality or illegality of the questioned ordinance and executive order. It, thus, partakes of
the nature of a petition for declaratory relief over which this Court has only appellate, not original, jurisdiction.
Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution provides:
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
(1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls,
and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or the Rules of Court
may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:
(a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement,
law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question. (Italics

As such, this petition must necessary fail, as this Court does not have original jurisdiction over a petition for
declaratory relief even if only questions of law are involved.

Third, even granting arguendo that the present petition is ripe for the extraordinary writ of certiorari, there is
here a clear disregard of the hierarchy of courts. No special and important reason or exceptional and compelling
circumstance has been adduced by the petitioner or the intervenor why direct recourse to this Court should be allowed.
We have held that this Court’s original jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari (as well as of prohibition,
mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction) is not exclusive, but is concurrent with the Regional Trial
Courts and the Court of Appeals in certain cases. As aptly stated in People v. Cuaresma:
This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs
an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefore will be directed.
There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and also
serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs. A
becoming regard of that judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of
extraordinary writs against first level (“inferior”) courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and
those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Court’s original
jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons
therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is [an] established policy. It is a policy
necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Court’s time and attention which are better devoted to
those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Court’s docket.
As we have said in Santiago v. Vasquez, the propensity of litigants and lawyers to disregard the hierarchy of
courts in our judicial system by seeking relief directly from this Court must be put to a halt for two reasons: (1) it
would be an imposition upon the precious time of this Court; and (2) it would cause an inevitable and resultant delay,
intended or otherwise, in the adjudication of cases, which in some instances had to be remanded or referred to the
lower court as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better equipped to resolve the issues because this
Court is not a trier of facts.


G.R. No. 139762 April 26, 2006

Facts: P RCPI employed PR Villalon to render messenger services in its Biñan Laguna branch. It was agreed upon by
the parties that PR shall receive 69% of the entire collections, 31% shall go to P while 1% shall be applied to taxes.
On April 1991, P stopped paying PR. PR then filed on June 1991 Complaint for Collection of Sum of Money against
P with the RTC of Biñan Laguna. P moved to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. P avers that since P and
PR have an employer-employee relationship, jurisdiction of the case is with the NLRC.
RTC denied P’s motion on the ground that the parties’ relationship was in the nature of an independent
contractor, not employer-employee. PR was merely a contractual messenger. Also, there was no agreement with
respect to payment of wages, duration of time of work. P has no control over PR’s means of acquiring deliveries. RTC
also declared P IN DEFAULT because the Motion to dismiss did not contain a notice of hearing addressed to the
parties thus it did not toll the running of the reglementary period to file a responsive pleading. P’s MR was also
On December 13, 1991, P filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, which was docketed as
G.R. No. 102959, alleging that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied the motion to
dismiss. In a Resolution dated February 28, 1994, SC dismissed the petition and remanded the case for further
proceedings after noting that PR was a contractual messenger paid by the number of deliveries he made and that there
was no employer-employee relationship between him and P. Thus, the trial court validly assumed jurisdiction over the
When case was remanded, PR was then allowed to present his evidence ex-parte and on March 1992
rendered judgment in favor of the latter. P appealed to the CA which dismissed the same and denied the MR.

Issue: Whether the RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint.

RCPI is barred from raising the above issue under the principle of the “law of the case.”
The concept of Law of the Case was further elucidated in the 1919 case of Zarate v.
Director of Lands, thus:
A well-known legal principle is that when an appellate court has once declared
the law in a case, such declaration continues to be the law of that case even on a subsequent
appeal. The rule made by an appellate court, while it may be reversed in other cases,
cannot be departed from in subsequent proceedings in the same case. The “Law of the
Case,” as applied to a former decision of an appellate court, merely expresses the practice
of the courts in refusing to reopen what has been decided. Such a rule is ‘necessary to
enable an appellate court to perform its duties satisfactorily and efficiently, which would be
impossible if a question, once considered and decided by it, were to be litigated anew in the
same case upon any and every subsequent appeal.’ Again, the rule is necessary as a matter
of policy to end litigation. ‘There would be no end to a suit if every obstinate litigant could,
by repeated appeals, compel a court to listen to criticisms on their opinions, or speculate of
chances from changes in its members.’ xxx

In the instant case, RCPI filed a motion to dismiss before the trial court raising the same issue that it is now
raising in the instant petition, i.e. the complaint involves a money claim arising from an employer-employee
relationship which properly belongs to the jurisdiction of the labor arbiter. However, it will be recalled that when its
motion to dismiss was denied, RCPI had previously gone to this Court through a petition for certiorari, prohibition
and mandamus raising this issue of lack of jurisdiction.

In G.R. No. 102959, we dismissed the petition and remanded the case for further proceedings ruling that the
trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion because Villalon’s complaint was not based on an employer-
employee relationship inasmuch as he was a contractual messenger who was paid depending on the number of
deliveries he made to RCPI’s clientele. Thus, the trial court and not the labor arbiter had jurisdiction over the case.
Our ruling in G.R. No. 102959 with respect to the valid assumption of jurisdiction by the trial court over the instant
case became the law of the case between the parties which cannot be modified, disturbed or reviewed. It follows then
that RCPI cannot raise this issue again in the instant petition because we have already resolved the same with finality
in G.R. No. 102959 in consonance with the principle of the “law of the case.”


[A.M. No. MTJ-01-1370. April 25, 2003]
Trial Court of Koronadal, South Cotabato, respondent.