Santos vs Montesa Jr. (512 SCRA 148)

Delos Santos vs Montesa Jr.
512 SCRA 148
[GR No. 73531 April 6, 1993]

Facts: Petitioners’ mental distress started when private respondent, who supposedly owns Lot 39 of the Cadastral survey of Bustos with an area of 5,358 square meters covered by Original Certificate of Title No. U-7924 a portion of which petitioners entered and occupied, lodged the complaint geared towards petitioners’ eviction. Summons was served through the mother of petitioners when the process server was unable to locate Dolores, Nicolas, and Ricardo delos Santos in Talampas, Bustos, Bulacan. For failure of petitioners to submit the corresponding answer, judgment was rendered pursuant to the rules on summary procedure. Petitioners were ordered to vacate the premises and pay reasonable rents until the possession is rendered. Upon learning of said decision, petitioners sought to reconsider on the principal thesis that they were never served notice of the conciliation meeting at the barangay level, as well as the summons. They insist that private respondent was referring to a different piece of realty because petitioners actually occupied Lot No. 3568 owned by Nicolas delos Santos under Original Certificate of Title No. F-10418. Moreover, petitioners advanced the proposition that Dolores’ husband should have been impleaded. All of these arguments were to no avail. As indicated earlier, execution pending appeal was ordered due to petitioners’ failure to post a supersedeas bond.

Issue: Whether or not the execution is proper.

Held: No. At first blush, it would appear that the recourse pursued by petitioners could elicit a favorable response from us in as much as the proof of service of the summons upon petitioners does not indicate impossibility of personal service, a condition precedent for resorting to substituted service. Even then, and assuming in gratia argumenti that the statutory norms on service of summons have not been strictly complied with, still, any defect in form and in the manner of effecting service thereof were nonetheless erased when petitioners’ counsel moved to re-examine the impugned decision and posed a subsequent bid on appeal to impede immediate execution. Indeed, such demeanor is tantamount to voluntary submission to the competencia of the court within the purview of Section 23, Rule 14 of the Revised Rules of Court since any mode of appearance in court by a defendant or his lawyer is equivalent to service of summons, absent any indication that the appearance of counsel for petitioner was precisely to protest the jurisdiction of the court over the person of defendant.

Neither can We treat the motion for reconsideration directed against the unfavorable disposition as a special appearance founded on the sole challenge on invalid service of summons since the application therefor raised another ground on failure to state a cause of action when conciliation proceedings at the barangay level were allegedly bypassed, nay, disregarded.

The fact that petitioners are supposedly occupying a parcel of land other than the realty claimed by private respondent deserves scant consideration since a clarification on a factual query of this nature is proscribed by the second paragraph, Section 2 of Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court. Verily, counsel for petitioners’ assertion in the notice of appeal filed with respondent judge that the grievance to be elevated to this Court will focus “fully on a question of law” is a self-defeating posture and operates as a legal bar for us to dwell into the truth or falsehood of such factual premise.

Petitioners argue next that execution pending appeal was ordered without any prior notice to them. This notion is also devoid of substance since it erroneously suggests that the court is duty-bound to notify petitioners of the immediate enforcement of the appealed .appeal under Section 2, Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court who is obliged to serve a copy of such motion on the adverse party’s counsel, which, on the face of the subject motion, was effected by personal delivery.

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