Cervantes vs City Service (G.R. No. 191616 April 18, 2016)

Cervantes vs City Service Corporation
G.R. No. 191616 April 18, 2016
Facts: The instant petition stemmed from a Complaint for illegal dismissal dated December 19, 2007 filed before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) by petitioner Francis C. Cervantes against respondents City Service Corporation and/or Valentin Prieto, Jr. for illegal dismissal, underpayment of salaries/wages, overtime pay, holiday pay, holiday premium, rest day premium, service incentive leave, separation pay, ECOLA, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees. On June 30, 2008, the Labor Arbiter, in NLRC-NCR-12-14080-07, dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. It found that it was Cervantes who refused to work after he was transferred to another client of City Service. The Labor Arbiter stressed that employees of local manpower agencies, which are assigned to clients, do not become employees of the client. Cervantes appealed the Labor Arbiter’s decision, but was denied in a Resolution dated February 5, 2008. Undaunted, Cervantes moved for reconsideration, but was denied anew in a Resolution dated July 22, 2009. Procedurally, petitioner insists that he filed the petition for certiorari on time, which should be reckoned from the moment his counsel was informed about the Resolution denying his motion for reconsideration, and not from the date his mother received a copy of the NLRC Resolution. 
Issue: Whether or not the petition for certiorari was filed on time.
Held: Yes. In practice, service means the delivery or communication of a pleading, notice or some other paper in a case, to the opposite party so as to charge him with receipt of it and subject him to its legal effect. The purpose of the rules on service is to make sure that the party being served with the pleading, order or judgment is duly informed of the same so that he can take steps to protect his interests; i.e., enable a party to file an appeal or apply for other appropriate reliefs before the decision becomes final.
The rule is – where a party appears by attorney in an action or proceeding in a court of record, all notices required to be given therein must be given to the attorney of record; and service of the court’s order upon any person other than the counsel of record is not legally effective and binding upon the party, nor may it start the corresponding reglementary period for the subsequent procedural steps that may be taken by the attorney. Notice should be made upon the counsel of record at his exact given address, to which notice of all kinds emanating from the court should be sent in the absence of a proper and adequate notice to the court of a change of address. When a party is represented by counsel of record, service of orders and notices must be made upon said attorney; and notice to the client and to any other lawyer, not the counsel of record, is not notice in law.
In the instant case, it is not disputed that during the NLRC proceedings, petitioner was represented by counsel, Atty. Romeo S. Occena, as in fact the NLRC albeit belated, furnished a copy of its July 29, 2009 Resolution to Atty. Occena on November 19, 2009. Petitioner’s several motions during the proceedings before the NLRC were likewise all signed by Atty. Occena as counsel. Consequently, following the policy that the period to appeal shall be counted from receipt of resolution by the counsel of record, considering that petitioner is represented by a counsel, the latter is considered to have received notice of the NLRC Resolution dated July 22, 2009 on November 19, 2009, the date when his representative and counsel, Atty. Occena was served notice thereof and not on July 30, 2009, or the date when petitioner’s mother received the same decision. 
Accordingly, the 60-day period for filing the petition for certiorari with the CA should be counted from the receipt by the petitioner’s counsel of a copy of the NLRC Decision dated July 22, 2009 on November 19, 2009. It should be stressed that the NLRC sent the notice of Resolution to petitioner’s counsel only on November 19, 2009. While there was a notice of Resolution dated July 22, 2009, said notice was not served upon petitioner’s counsel. Thus, strictly speaking, the running of the 60-day period to appeal should be counted from November 19, 2009 when the notice of Resolution dated July 22, 2009 was served on petitioner’s counsel. Considering that petitioner filed his petition for certiorari on October 7, 2009, the same was well within the prescribed period to appeal. The petition for certiorari was filed on time. 

Jamaca vs People (G.R. No. 183681, July 27, 2015)

Jamaca vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 183681, July 27, 2015
Facts: Private complainant Atty. Emilie Bangot filed a complaint for Grave Threats against petitioner with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military, docketed as OMB-MIL-CRIM-97-0754. He likewise filed a similar complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cagayan de Oro City. In a Resolution dated January 26, 1998, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military dismissed the complaint on the ground that the accusation against petitioner was unfounded, based solely on the statement of one Rustom Roxas that there were no threatening words uttered by petitioner. A petition for certiorari was filed with this Court to assail said ruling of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military, but the same was dismissed in a Resolution dated July 29, 1998. On the other hand, private complainant’s complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor prospered and led to the filing of an Information against petitioner. He was charged with grave threats defined and penalized under paragraph 1 of Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code.
Issue: Whether or not non-compliance on non-forum shopping may be raised for the first time on appeal.
Held: No. It is well-settled that no question will be entertained on appeal unless it has been raised in the proceedings below. Points of law, theories, issues and arguments not brought to the attention of the lower court, administrative agency or quasi-judicial body, need not be considered by a reviewing court, as they cannot be raised for the first time at that late stage. Basic considerations of fairness and due process impel this rule. Any issue raised for the first time on appeal is barred by estoppel. x x x x 
In Young v. John Keng Seng, it was also held that the question of forum shopping cannot be raised in the CA and in the Supreme Court, since such an issue must be raised at the earliest opportunity in a motion to dismiss or a similar pleading. The high court even warned that [i]nvoking it in the later stages of the proceedings or on appeal may result in the dismissal of the action x x x.

Morillo vs People (G.R. No. 198270, December 09, 2015)

Morillo vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 198270, December 09, 2015
Facts: Sometime in July 2003, respondent Richard Natividad, Milo Malong and Bing Nanquil, introducing themselves as contractors doing business in Pampanga City under the name and style of RB Custodio Construction, purchased construction materials for their project inside the Subic Freeport Zone from petitioner Armilyn Morillo, owner of Amasea General Merchandize and Construction Supplies. The parties agreed that twenty percent (20%) of the purchases shall be paid within seven (7) days after the first delivery and the remaining eighty percent (80%) to be paid within thirty-five (35) days after the last delivery, all of which shall be via postdated checks. Pursuant to the agreement, petitioner delivered construction materials amounting to a total of P500,054.00 at the construction site where respondent and his partners were undertaking their project. After the last delivery, respondent paid P20,000.00 in cash and issued two (2) post-dated checks, drawn from Metrobank, Pampanga branch, in the amounts of P393,000.00 and P87,054.00. Upon maturity, petitioner attempted to deposit the checks in her savings account at Equitable PCI Bank, San Lorenzo, Makati City. They were, however, dishonored by the drawee bank. Immediately thereafter, petitioner communicated the dishonor to respondent and his partners and demanded for payment. Again, respondent issued two (2) post-dated Metrobank checks and assured petitioner that they will be honored upon maturity. Upon deposit in her savings account at Equitable PCI Bank, Makati Branch, the checks were once again dishonored for the reason that the account from which they were drawn was already a closed account. Consequently, petitioner made several demands from respondent and his partners, but to no avail, prompting her to file a complaint with the City Prosecution Office, Makati City. Thus, on August 12, 2004, two (2) Informations were filed against respondent and Milo Malong.
Issue: Whether or not MeTC of Makati City has jurisdiction over the case.
Held: Yes. It is well settled that violation of BP 22 cases is categorized as transitory or continuing crimes, which means that the acts material and essential thereto occur in one municipality or territory, while some occur in another. Accordingly, the court wherein any of the crime’s essential and material acts have been committed maintains jurisdiction to try the case; it being understood that the first court taking cognizance of the same excludes the other. Stated differently, a person charged with a continuing or transitory crime may be validly tried in any municipality or territory where the offense was in part committed. Applying these principles, a criminal case for violation of BP 22 may be filed in any of the places where any of its elements occurred – in particular, the place where the check is drawn, issued, delivered, or dishonored. 
Guided by the foregoing pronouncements, there is no denying, therefore, that the court of the place where the check was deposited or presented for encashment; can be vested with jurisdiction to try cases involving violations of BP 22. Thus, the fact that the check subject of the instant case was drawn, issued, and delivered in Pampanga does not strip off the Makati MeTC of its jurisdiction over the instant case for it is undisputed that the subject check was deposited and presented for encashment at the Makati Branch of Equitable PC IBank. The MeTC of Makati, therefore, correctly took cognizance of the instant case and rendered its decision in the proper exercise of its jurisdiction. 
First of all, the Court stresses that the appellate court’s dismissal of the case is not an acquittal of respondent. Basic is the rule that a dismissal of a case is different from an acquittal of the accused therein. Except in a dismissal based on a Demurrer to Evidence filed by the accused, or for violation of the right of the accused to a speedy trial, the dismissal of a criminal case against the accused will not result in his acquittal. In the oft-cited People v. Salico, the Court explained: This argument or reasoning is predicated on a confusion of the legal concepts of dismissal and acquittal. Acquittal is always based on the merits, that is, the defendant is acquitted because the evidence does not show that defendant’s guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt; but dismissal does not decide the case on the merits or that the defendant is not guilty. Dismissal terminates the proceeding, either because the court is not a court of competent jurisdiction, or the evidence does not show that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, or the complaint or information is not valid or sufficient in form and substance, etc. The only case in which the word dismissal is commonly but not correctly used, instead of the proper term acquittal, is when, after the prosecution has presented all its: evidence, the defendant moves for the dismissal and the court dismisses the ease on the ground that the evidence fails to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty; for in such case the dismissal is in reality an acquittal because the case is decided on the merits. If the prosecution fails to prove that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court and the case is dismissed, the dismissal is not an acquittal, inasmuch as if it were so the defendant could not be again prosecuted before the court of competent jurisdiction; and it is elemental that in such case, the defendant may again be prosecuted for the same offense before a court of competent jurisdiction. 
Thus, when the appellate court herein dismissed the instant case on the ground that the MeTC lacked jurisdiction over the offense charged, it did not decide the same on the merits, let alone resolve the issue of respondent’s guilt or innocence based on the evidence proffered by the prosecution. The appellate court merely dismissed the case on the erroneous reasoning that none of the elements of BP 22 was committed within the lower court’s jurisdiction, and not because of any finding that the evidence failed to show respondent’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Clearly, therefore, such dismissal did not operate as an acquittal, which, as previously discussed, may be repudiated only by a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, showing a grave abuse of discretion. Thus, petitioner’s resort to Rule 45 of the Rules of Court cannot be struck down as improper. In a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, the parties raise only questions of law because the Court, in its exercise of its power of review, is not a trier of facts. There is a question of law when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on certain state of facts and which does not call for an existence of the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties-litigants.
In the instant case; the lone issue invoked by petitioner is precisely “whether the Court of Appeals erred when it ruled that the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City did not have jurisdiction over the case despite clear showing that the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of said court.” Evidently, therefore, the instant petition was filed within the bounds of our procedural rules for the issue herein rests solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances insofar as the commission of the crime of BP 22 is concerned. In criminal cases, the jurisdiction of the court is determined by the averments of the complaint or Information, in relation to the law prevailing at the time of the filing of the complaint or Information, and the penalty provided by law for the crime charged at the time of its commission. Thus, when a case involves a proper interpretation of the rules and jurisprudence with respect to the jurisdiction of courts to entertain complaints filed therewith, it deals with a question of law that can be properly brought to this Court under Rule 45.

Duncano vs Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 191894 July 15, 2015)

Duncano vs Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 191894 July 15, 2015
Facts: Petitioner Danilo A. Duncano is, at the time material to the case, the Regional Director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) with Salary Grade 26 as classified under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6758. On March 24, 2009, the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), Office of the Ombudsman, filed a criminal case against him for violation of Section 8, in relation to Section 11 of R.A. No. 6713, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about April 15, 2003, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Quezon City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused DANILO DUNCANO y ACIDO, a high ranking public officer, being the Regional Director of Revenue Region No. 7, of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Quezon City, and as such is under an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth and financial and business interests, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally fail to disclose in his Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth (SALN) for the year 2002, his financial and business interests/connection in Documail Provides Corporation and Don Plus Trading of which he and his family are the registered owners thereof, and the 1993 Nissan Patrol motor vehicle registered in the name of his son VINCENT LOUIS P. DUNCANO which are part of his assets, to the damage and prejudice of public interest.
Issue: Whether or not the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the petitioner.
Held: No. The creation of the Sandiganbayan was mandated by Section 5, Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution. By virtue of the powers vested in him by the Constitution and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21, 1972, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued P.D. No. 1486. The decree was later amended by P.D. No. 1606, Section 20 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, P.D. No. 1860, and P.D. No. 1861. 
With the advent of the 1987 Constitution, the special court was retained as provided for in Section 4, Article XI thereof. Aside from Executive Order Nos. 14 and 14-a, and R.A. 7080, which expanded the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, P.D. No. 1606 was further modified by R.A. No. 7975, R.A. No. 8249, and just this year, R.A. No. 10660.
For the purpose of this case, the relevant provision is Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, which states: SEC. 4. Section 4 of the same decree is hereby further amended to read as follows: 
“SEC. 4. Jurisdiction.– The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: 
“A. 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, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense: 
“(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including: 
“(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads; 
“(b) City mayor, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; 
“(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher; 
“(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank; 
“(e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintendent or higher; 
“(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor; 
“(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. 
“(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade 27 and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989; 
“(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; 
“(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commission, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and 
“(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. 
“B. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office. 
“C. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. 
Yet, those that are classified as Salary Grade 26 and below may still fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, provided that they hold the positions enumerated by the law. In this category, it is the position held, not the salary grade, which determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The specific inclusion constitutes an exception to the general qualification relating to “officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.”38 As ruled in Inding: 
Following this disquisition, the paragraph of Section 4 which provides that if the accused is occupying a position lower than SG 27, the proper trial court has jurisdiction, can only be properly interpreted as applying to those cases where the principal accused is occupying a position lower than SG 27 and not among those specifically included in the enumeration in Section 4 a. (1) (a) to (g). Stated otherwise, except for those officials specifically included in Section 4 a. (1) (a) to (g), regardless of their salary grades, over whom the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction, all other public officials below SG 27 shall be under the jurisdiction of the proper trial courts “where none of the principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to SG 27 or higher.” By this construction, the entire Section 4 is given effect. The cardinal rule, after all, in statutory construction is that the particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part of the statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole. And courts should adopt a construction that will give effect to every part of a statute, if at all possible. Ut magis valeat quam pereat or that construction is to be sought which gives effect to the whole of the statute – its every word.
The Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over violations of Section 3(a) and (e), Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, unless committed by public officials and employees occupying positions of regional director and higher with Salary Grade “27” or higher, under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758) in relation to their office. 
In ruling in favor of its jurisdiction, even though petitioner admittedly occupied the position of Director II with Salary Grade “26” under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), the Sandiganbayan incurred in serious error of jurisdiction, and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in suspending petitioner from office, entitling petitioner to the reliefs prayed for.

BPI Family vs Yujuico (G.R. No. 175796 July 22, 2015)

BPI Family Savings Bank Inc vs Sps Yujuico
G.R. No. 175796 July 22, 2015
Facts: On August 22, 1996, the City of Manila filed a complaint against the respondents for the expropriation of five parcels of land located in Tondo, Manila and registered in the name of respondent Teresita Yujuico. Two of the parcels of land, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 261331 and TCT No. 261332, were previously mortgaged to Citytrust Banking Corporation, the petitioner’s predecessor-in-interest, under a First Real Estate Mortgage Contract. On June 30, 2000, the Regional Trial Court in Manila (Manila RTC) rendered its judgment declaring the five parcels of land expropriated for public use. The judgment became final and executory on January 28, 2001 and was entered in the book of entries of judgment on March 23, 2001. The petitioner subsequently filed a Motion to Intervene in Execution with Partial Opposition to Defendant’s Request to Release, but the RTC denied the motion for having been “filed out of time.” Hence, the petitioner decided to extrajudicially foreclose the mortgage constituted on the two parcels of land subject of the respondents’ loan. After holding the public auction, the sheriff awarded the two lots to the petitioner as the highest bidder at ₱10, 000, 000.00. Claiming a deficiency amounting to P18, 522155.42, the petitioner sued the respondents to recover such deficiency in the Makati RTC (Civil Case No. 03-450). The respondents moved to dismiss the complaint on several grounds, namely: that the suit was barred by res judicata; that the complaint stated no cause of action; and that the plaintiffs claim had been waived, abandoned, or extinguished. In the reply, respondents objected and alleged that the venue is improper.
Issues: Whether or not improper venue as a ground for objection maybe raised at anytime.
Whether or not a claim for deficiency in an extrajudicial foreclosure is a real action.
Held: No. We underscore that in civil proceedings, venue is procedural, not jurisdictional, and may be waived by the defendant if not seasonably raised either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer. Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court thus expressly stipulates that defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. As it relates to the place of trial, indeed, venue is meant to provide convenience to the parties, rather than to restrict their access to the courts. In other words, unless the defendant seasonably objects, any action may be tried by a court despite its being the improper venue. 
No. It is basic that the venue of an action depends on whether it is a real or a personal action. The determinants of whether an action is of a real or a personal nature have been fixed by the Rules of Court and relevant jurisprudence. According to Section 1, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court, a real action is one that affects title to or possession of real property, or an interest therein. Thus, an action for partition or condemnation of, or foreclosure of mortgage on, real property is a real action. The real action is to be commenced and tried in the proper court having jurisdiction over the area wherein the real property involved, or a portion thereof, is situated, which explains why the action is also referred to as a local action. In contrast, the Rules of Court declares all other actions as personal actions. Such actions may include those brought for the recovery of personal property, or for the enforcement of some contract or recovery of damages for its breach, or for the recovery of damages for the commission of an injury to the person or property. The venue of a personal action is the place where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff, for which reason the action is considered a transitory one. 
Based on the distinctions between real and personal actions, an action to recover the deficiency after the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real property mortgage is a personal action, for it does not affect title to or possession of real property, or any interest therein.

Macasaet vs Co (G.R. No. 156759 June 5, 2013)

Macasaet etal vs Co
G.R. No. 156759 June 5, 2013

Facts: On July 3, 2000, respondent, a retired police officer assigned at the Western Police District in Manila, sued Abante Tonite, a daily tabloid of general circulation; its Publisher Allen A. Macasaet; its Managing Director Nicolas V. Quijano; its Circulation Manager Isaias Albano; its Editors Janet Bay, Jesus R. Galang and Randy Hagos; and its Columnist/Reporter Lily Reyes (petitioners), claiming damages because of an allegedly libelous article petitioners published in the June 6, 2000 issue of Abante Tonite. The suit, docketed as Civil Case No. 0097907, was raffled to Branch 51 of the RTC, which in due course issued summons to be served on each defendant, including Abante Tonite, at their business address at Monica Publishing Corporation, 301-305 3rd Floor, BF Condominium Building, Solana Street corner A. Soriano Street, Intramuros, Manila. In the morning of September 18, 2000, RTC Sheriff Raul Medina proceeded to the stated address to effect the personal service of the summons on the defendants. But his efforts to personally serve each defendant in the address were futile because the defendants were then out of the office and unavailable. He returned in the afternoon of that day to make a second attempt at serving the summons, but he was informed that petitioners were still out of the office. He decided to resort to substituted service of the summons, and explained why in his sheriff’s return dated September 22, 2005.

Issue: Whether or not jurisdiction over the petitioners have been acquired.

Held: Yes. Jurisdiction over the person, or jurisdiction in personam –the power of the court to render a personal judgment or to subject the parties in a particular action to the judgment and other rulings rendered in the action – is an element of due process that is essential in all actions, civil as well as criminal, except in actions in rem or quasi in rem. Jurisdiction over the defendant in an action in rem or quasi in rem is not required, and the court acquires jurisdiction over an action as long as it acquires jurisdiction over the res that is the subject matter of the action. The purpose of summons in such action is not the acquisition of jurisdiction over the defendant but mainly to satisfy the constitutional requirement of due process.

The distinctions that need to be perceived between an action in personam, on the one hand, and an action in rem or quasi in rem, on the other hand, are aptly delineated in Domagas v. Jensen, thusly:

The settled rule is that the aim and object of an action determine its character. Whether a proceeding is in rem, or in personam, or quasi in rem for that matter, is determined by its nature and purpose, and by these only. A proceeding in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights and obligations brought against the person and is based on the jurisdiction of the person, although it may involve his right to, or the exercise of ownership of, specific property, or seek to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the mandate of the court. The purpose of a proceeding in personam is to impose, through the judgment of a court, some responsibility or liability directly upon the person of the defendant. Of this character are suits to compel a defendant to specifically perform some act or actions to fasten a pecuniary liability on him. An action in personam is said to be one which has for its object a judgment against the person, as distinguished from a judgment against the property to determine its state. It has been held that an action in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights or obligations; such action is brought against the person. As far as suits for injunctive relief are concerned, it is well-settled that it is an injunctive act in personam. In Combs v. Combs, the appellate court held that proceedings to enforce personal rights and obligations and in which personal judgments are rendered adjusting the rights and obligations between the affected parties is in personam. Actions for recovery of real property are in personam.

On the other hand, a proceeding quasi in rem is one brought against persons seeking to subject the property of such persons to the discharge of the claims assailed. In an action quasi in rem, an individual is named as defendant and the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interests therein to the obligation or loan burdening the property. Actions quasi in rem deal with the status, ownership or liability of a particular property but which are intended to operate on these questions only as between the particular parties to the proceedings and not to ascertain or cut off the rights or interests of all possible claimants. The judgments therein are binding only upon the parties who joined in the action.

As a rule, Philippine courts cannot try any case against a defendant who does not reside and is not found in the Philippines because of the impossibility of acquiring jurisdiction over his person unless he voluntarily appears in court; but when the case is an action in rem or quasi in rem enumerated in Section 15, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, Philippine courts have jurisdiction to hear and decide the case because they have jurisdiction over the res, and jurisdiction over the person of the non-resident defendant is not essential. In the latter instance, extraterritorial service of summons can be made upon the defendant, and such extraterritorial service of summons is not for the purpose of vesting the court with jurisdiction, but for the purpose of complying with the requirements of fair play or due process, so that the defendant will be informed of the pendency of the action against him and the possibility that property in the Philippines belonging to him or in which he has an interest may be subjected to a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, and he can thereby take steps to protect his interest if he is so minded. On the other hand, when the defendant in an action in personam does not reside and is not found in the Philippines, our courts cannot try the case against him because of the impossibility of acquiring jurisdiction over his person unless he voluntarily appears in court.

As the initiating party, the plaintiff in a civil action voluntarily submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court by the act of filing the initiatory pleading. As to the defendant, the court acquires jurisdiction over his person either by the proper service of the summons, or by a voluntary appearance in the action.

The significance of the proper service of the summons on the defendant in an action in personam cannot be overemphasized. The service of the summons fulfills two fundamental objectives, namely: (a) to vest in the court jurisdiction over the person of the defendant; and (b) to afford to the defendant the opportunity to be heard on the claim brought against him. As to the former, when jurisdiction in personam is not acquired in a civil action through the proper service of the summons or upon a valid waiver of such proper service, the ensuing trial and judgment are void. If the defendant knowingly does an act inconsistent with the right to object to the lack of personal jurisdiction as to him, like voluntarily appearing in the action, he is deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. As to the latter, the essence of due process lies in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit any evidence the defendant may have in support of his defense. With the proper service of the summons being intended to afford to him the opportunity to be heard on the claim against him, he may also waive the process. In other words, compliance with the rules regarding the service of the summons is as much an issue of due process as it is of jurisdiction.

Under the Rules of Court, the service of the summons should firstly be effected on the defendant himself whenever practicable. Such personal service consists either in handing a copy of the summons to the defendant in person, or, if the defendant refuses to receive and sign for it, in tendering it to him. The rule on personal service is to be rigidly enforced in order to ensure the realization of the two fundamental objectives earlier mentioned. If, for justifiable reasons, the defendant cannot be served in person within a reasonable time, the service of the summons may then be effected either (a) by leaving a copy of the summons at his residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copy at his office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof. The latter mode of service is known as substituted service because the service of the summons on the defendant is made through his substitute.

There is no question that Sheriff Medina twice attempted to serve the summons upon each of petitioners in person at their office address, the first in the morning of September 18, 2000 and the second in the afternoon of the same date. Each attempt failed because Macasaet and Quijano were “always out and not available” and the other petitioners were “always roving outside and gathering news.” After Medina learned from those present in the office address on his second attempt that there was no likelihood of any of petitioners going to the office during the business hours of that or any other day, he concluded that further attempts to serve them in person within a reasonable time would be futile. The circumstances fully warranted his conclusion. He was not expected or required as the serving officer to effect personal service by all means and at all times, considering that he was expressly authorized to resort to substituted service should he be unable to effect the personal service within a reasonable time. In that regard, what was a reasonable time was dependent on the circumstances obtaining. While we are strict in insisting on personal service on the defendant, we do not cling to such strictness should the circumstances already justify substituted service instead. It is the spirit of the procedural rules, not their letter, that governs.

Sotto vs Palicte ( G.R. No. 159691 June 13, 2013)

Heirs of Marcelo Sotto vs Palicte
G.R. No. 159691 June 13, 2013

Facts: Filemon had four children, namely: Marcelo Sotto (Marcelo), Pascuala SottoPahang (Pascuala), Miguel Barcelona (Miguel), and Matilde. Marcelo was the administrator of the Estate of Sotto. Marcelo and Miguel were the predecessorsin-interest of petitioners. In June 1967, Pilar Teves (Pilar) and other heirs of Carmen Rallos (Carmen), the deceased wife of Filemon, filed in the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cebu City a complaint against the Estate of Sotto (Civil Case No. R-10027) seeking to recover certain properties that Filemon had inherited from Carmen, and damages. The CFI rendered judgment awarding to Pilar and other heirs of Carmen damages of P233,963.65, among other reliefs. To satisfy the monetary part of the judgment, levy on execution was effected against six parcels of land and two residential houses belonging to the Estate of Sotto. The levied assets were sold at a public auction. Later on, Matilde redeemed four of the parcels of land in her own name (i.e., Lots No. 1049, No. 1051, No. 1052 and No. 2179-C), while her sister Pascuala redeemed one of the two houses because her family was residing there. On July 9, 1980, the Deputy Provincial Sheriff of Cebu executed a deed of redemption in favor of Matilde, which the Clerk of Court approved. On July 24, 1980, Matilde filed in Civil Case No. R-10027 a motion to transfer to her name the title to the four properties. However, the CFI denied her motion, and instead declared the deed of redemption issued in her favor null and void, holding that Matilde, although declared in Special Proceedings No. 2706-R as one of the heirs of Filemon, did not qualify as a successor-in-interest with the right to redeem the four properties. Matilde directly appealed the adverse ruling to the Court via petition for review, and on September 21, 1987, the Court, reversing the CFI’s ruling, granted Matilde’s petition for review but allowed her co-heirs the opportunity to join Matilde as co-redemptioners for a period of six months before the probate court (i.e., RTC of Cebu City, Branch 16) would grant her motion to transfer the title to her name. In November 1998, the heirs of Miguel filed a motion for reconsideration in Civil Case No. R-10027 of the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 16, praying that the order issued on October 5, 1989 be set aside, and that they be included as Matilde’s co-redemptioners. After the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration for its lack of merit on April 25, 2000, they assailed the denial by petition for certiorari and prohibition (C.A.-G.R. SP No. 60225). The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition on January 10, 2002. Thereafter, they elevated the matter to the Court via petition for certiorari (G.R. No. 154585), which the Court dismissed on September 23, 2002 for being filed out of time and for lack of merit. On September 10, 1999, the heirs of Marcelo, specifically: Lolibeth Sotto Noble, Danilo C. Sotto, Cristina C. Sotto, Emmanuel C. Sotto, Filemon C. Sotto, and Marcela C. Sotto; and the heirs of Miguel, namely: Alberto, Arturo and Salvacion, all surnamed Barcelona (herein petitioners), instituted the present action for partition against Matilde in the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 20 (Civil Case No. CEB24293).2 Alleging in their complaint that despite the redemption of the four properties having been made in the sole name of Matilde, the four properties still rightfully belonged to the Estate of Sotto for having furnished the funds used to redeem the properties, they prayed that the RTC declare the four properties as the assets of the Estate of Sotto, and that the RTC direct their partition among the heirs of Filemon.

Issue: Whether or not res judicata is applicable in the case at bar.

Held: Yes. All these judgments and order upholding Matilde’s exclusive ownership of the subject properties became final and executory except the action for partition which is still pending in this Court. The judgments were on the merits and rendered by courts having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. There is substantial identity of parties considering that the present case and the previous cases involve the heirs of Filemon.

There is identity of parties not only when the parties in the case are the same, but also between those in privity with them, such as between their successors-in-interest. Absolute identity of parties is not required, and where a shared identity of interest is shown by the identity of relief sought by one person in a prior case and the second person in a subsequent case, such was deemed sufficient. There is identity of causes of action since the issues raised in all the cases essentially involve the claim of ownership over the subject properties. Even if the forms or natures of the actions are different, there is still identity of causes of action when the same facts or evidence support and establish the causes of action in the case at bar and in the previous cases.

Res judicata exists when as between the action sought to be dismissed and the other action these elements are present, namely; (1) the former judgment must be final; (2) the former judgment must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties; (3) the former judgment must be a judgment on the merits; and (4) there must be between the first and subsequent actions (i) identity of parties or at least such as representing the same interest in both actions; (ii) identity of subject matter, or of the rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and, (iii) identity of causes of action in both actions such that any judgment that may be rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.

The first three elements were present. The decision of the Court in G.R. No. 55076 (the first case), the decision of the Court in G.R. No. 131722 (the second case), the order dated October 5, 1989 of the RTC in Civil Case No. R-10027 as upheld by the Court in G.R. No. 154585 (the third case), and the decision in G.R. No. 158642 (the fourth case) – all of which dealt with Matilde’s right to the four properties – had upheld Matilde’s right to the four properties and had all become final. Such rulings were rendered in the exercise of the respective courts’ jurisdiction over the subject matter, and were adjudications on the merits of the cases.

Philworth vs PCIB (G.R. No. 161878 June 05, 2013)

Philworth Asia’s Inc vs Philippine Commercial International Bank
G.R. No. 161878 June 05, 2013

Facts: On May 31, 1991, the former Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCIB) sued petitioners in the RTC to recover upon an unpaid debt (Civil Case No. 911536), alleging that on September 22, 1988, petitioner Philworth Asia, Inc. (Philworth) had borrowed P270,000.00 from PCIB to be paid on or before November 8, 1988 in accordance with a promissory note; that petitioners Spouses Luisito and Elizabeth Mactal (Mactals) and Spouses Luis and Eloisa Reyes (Reyeses) had executed a deed of suretyship binding themselves to pay Philworth’s obligations under the promissory note should Philworth refuse to perform its obligation; that Philworth had paid only partially, leaving an unpaid balance of P225,533.33, inclusive of interest and penalty charges; that Philworth had not paid its balance despite repeated demands; and that attempts to collect from the Mactals and Reyeses had likewise failed. On July 5, 1991, the Reyeses filed their answer with special and affirmative defenses, specifically countering that PCIB had no cause of action against them; that Luis Reyes had signed the promissory note as an employee of Philworth, but had not signed the deed of suretyship in November 1988 because he had already resigned from Philworth on October 16, 1988; that Luisito Mactal, the President and General Manager of Philworth, should be the person liable under the deed of suretyship; that PCIB had not made demands upon all the parties; and that PCIB did not exhaust all the available properties of Philworth before bringing the suit also against them. JUNE2013 In their answer filed on August 20, 1991, the Mactals averred that the defendants had substantially paid their obligation, but that PCIB had unreasonably refused to properly account for and credit the payments; that PCIB had been charging exorbitant and unconscionable interest, penalties and other charges; and that if the previous payments were duly credited, the unpaid balance would only be minimal. The first pre-trial conference, which was set on May 19, 1994, was moved several times afterwards, until the parties were notified that the conference would finally be held on April 25, 1995. On April 3, 1995, petitioners sought the transfer of the conference of April 25, 1995 to May 2, 1995. They later on further moved for the conference to be held on May 12, 1995. But no conference was held on May 12, 1995. Instead, the conference was reset on two later dates, i.e., June 2, 1995 and July 21, 1995. Although petitioners again moved to reset the conference on June 1, 1995, the RTC denied petitioners’ motion for postponement on June 2, 1995, and declared them as in default because of their non-appearance and allowed PCIB to present evidence ex parte.

Issue: Whether or not petitioners were denied due process.

Held: No. It is basic that as long as a party is given the opportunity to defend his interest in due course, he would have no reason to complain, for it is this opportunity to be heard that makes up the essence of due process. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral argument or through pleadings, is accorded there can be no denial of procedural due process. The most basic tenet of due process is the right to be heard. Where a party had been afforded an opportunity to participate in the proceedings but failed to do so, he cannot complain of deprivation of due process.

Due process is satisfied as long as the party is accorded an opportunity to be heard. If it is not availed of, it is deemed waived or forfeited without violating the Bill of Rights.

Petitioners were not denied their right to be heard. As outlined above, the RTC set the case several times for the pre-trial and the trial. In so doing, the RTC undeniably relaxed the rigid application of the rules of procedure out of its desire to afford to petitioners the opportunity to fully ventilate their side on the merits of the case. The RTC thereby acted with liberality. This was in line with the time honored principle that cases should be decided only after giving all the parties the chance to argue and prove their respective sides. Here, however, they apparently stretched the limits of the RTC’s liberality, to the point of abusing it. A review of the proceedings has given the Court the impression that they deliberately delayed the presentation of their evidence by asking postponements of the hearings. The pattern of delay that followed indicated that they did not intend to present any evidence in their favor, and that they were simply temporizing as a way of avoiding the inevitable adverse outcome of the case. Otherwise, they and their counsel would have easily completed the task of presenting their evidence and shunned the delays. They did present Ms. Garcia on direct examination, but they thereafter did not see to the completion of her testimony.

SICI vs Cuenca (G.R. No. 173297 March 6, 2013)

Stronghold Insurance Company Inc. vs Cuenca
G.R. No. 173297 March 6, 2013

Facts: On January 19, 1998, Marañon filed a complaint in the RTC against the Cuencas for the collection of a sum of money and damages. His complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-023, included an application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment. On January 26, 1998, the RTC granted the application for the issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment conditioned upon the posting of a bond of P1,000,000.00 executed in favor of the Cuencas. Less than a month later, Marañon amended the complaint to implead Tayactac as a defendant. On February 11, 1998, Marañon posted SICI Bond No. 68427 JCL (4) No. 02370 in the amount of P1,000,000.00 issued by Stronghold Insurance. Two days later, the RTC issued the writ of preliminary attachment. The sheriff served the writ, the summons and a copy of the complaint on the Cuencas on the same day. The service of the writ, summons and copy of the complaint were made on Tayactac on February 16, 1998.

Issue: Whether or not the respondents have the legal standing to sue petitioner for the recovery of the attached properties and damages.

Held: No. To ensure the observance of the mandate of the Constitution, Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court requires that unless otherwise authorized by law or the Rules of Court every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest. Under the same rule, a real party in interest is one who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or one who is entitled to the avails of the suit. Accordingly, a person , to be a real party in interest in whose name an action must be prosecuted, should appear to be the present real owner of the right sought to be enforced, that is, his interest must be a present substantial interest, not a mere expectancy, or a future, contingent, subordinate, or consequential interest.

Where the plaintiff is not the real party in interest, the ground for the motion to dismiss is lack of cause of action. The reason for this is that the courts ought not to pass upon questions not derived from any actual controversy. Truly, a person having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as the plaintiff in an action. Nor does a court acquire jurisdiction over a case where the real party in interest is not present or impleaded.

The purposes of the requirement for the real party in interest prosecuting or defending an action at law are: (a) to prevent the prosecution of actions by persons without any right, title or interest in the case; (b) to require that the actual party entitled to legal relief be the one to prosecute the action; (c) to avoid a multiplicity of suits; and (d) to discourage litigation and keep it within certain bounds, pursuant to sound public policy. Indeed, considering that all civil actions must be based on a cause of action, defined as the act or omission by which a party violates the right of another, the former as the defendant must be allowed to insist upon being opposed by the real party in interest so that he is protected from further suits regarding the same claim. Under this rationale, the requirement benefits the defendant because “the defendant can insist upon a plaintiff who will afford him a setup providing good res judicata protection if the struggle is carried through on the merits to the end.”

The rule on real party in interest ensures, therefore, that the party with the legal right to sue brings the action, and this interest ends when a judgment involving the nominal plaintiff will protect the defendant from a subsequent identical action. Such a rule is intended to bring before the court the party rightfully interested in the litigation so that only real controversies will be presented and the judgment, when entered, will be binding and conclusive and the defendant will be saved from further harassment and vexation at the hands of other claimants to the same demand.

But the real party in interest need not be the person who ultimately will benefit from the successful prosecution of the action. Hence, to aid itself in the proper identification of the real party in interest, the court should first ascertain the nature of the substantive right being asserted, and then must determine whether the party asserting that right is recognized as the real party in interest under the rules of procedure. Truly, that a party stands to gain from the litigation is not necessarily controlling.

Given the separate and distinct legal personality of Arc Cuisine, Inc., the Cuenca’s and Tayactac lacked the legal personality to claim the damages sustained from the levy of the former’s properties. According to Asset Privatization Trust v. Court of Appeals,  even when the foreclosure on the assets of the corporation was wrongful and done in bad faith the stockholders had no standing to recover for themselves moral damages; otherwise, they would be appropriating and distributing part of the corporation’s assets prior to the dissolution of the corporation and the liquidation of its debts and liabilities. Moreover, in Evangelista v. Santos, the Court, resolving whether or not the minority stockholders had the right to bring an action for damages against the principal officers of the corporation for their own benefit.

Bongalon vs People (G.R. No. 169533 March 20, 2013)

Bongalon vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 169533 March 20, 2013

Facts: The Prosecution showed that on May 11, 2002, Jayson Dela Cruz (Jayson) and Roldan, his older brother, both minors, joined the evening procession for the Santo Niño at Oro Site in Legazpi City; that when the procession passed in front of the petitioner’s house, the latter’s daughter Mary Ann Rose, also a minor, threw stones at Jayson and called him “sissy”; that the petitioner confronted Jayson and Roldan and called them names like “strangers” and “animals”; that the petitioner struck Jayson at the back with his hand, and slapped Jayson on the face; that the petitioner then went to the brothers’ house and challenged Rolando dela Cruz, their father, to a fight, but Rolando did not come out of the house to take on the petitioner; that Rolando later brought Jayson to the Legazpi City Police Station and reported the incident; that Jayson also underwent medical treatment at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital; that the doctors who examined Jayson issued two medical certificates attesting that Jayson suffered the following contusions, to wit: (1) contusion .5 x 2.5 scapular area, left; and (2) +1×1 cm. contusion left zygomatic area and contusion .5 x 2.33 cm. scapular area, left. On his part, the petitioner denied having physically abused or maltreated Jayson. He explained that he only talked with Jayson and Roldan after Mary Ann Rose and Cherrylyn, his minor daughters, had told him about Jayson and Roldan’s throwing stones at them and about Jayson’s burning Cherrylyn’s hair. He denied shouting invectives at and challenging Rolando to a fight, insisting that he only told Rolando to restrain his sons from harming his daughters. To corroborate the petitioner’s testimony, Mary Ann Rose testified that her father did not hit or slap but only confronted Jayson, asking why Jayson had called her daughters “Kimi” and why he had burned Cherrlyn’s hair. Mary Ann Rose denied throwing stones at Jayson and calling him a “sissy.” She insisted that it was instead Jayson who had pelted her with stones during the procession. She described the petitioner as a loving and protective father.

Issues: Whether or not the proper remedy of the petitioner is via a petition for certiorari.

Whether or not petitioner is liable for child abuse.

Held: No. The special civil action for certiorari is intended for the correction of errors of jurisdiction only or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Its principal office is only to keep the inferior court within the parameters of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from committing such a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. As observed in Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, et al. “the special civil action for certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment. The raison d’etre for the rule is when a court exercises its jurisdiction, an error committed while so engaged does not deprived it of the jurisdiction being exercised when the error is committed. If it did, every error committed by a court would deprive it of its jurisdiction and every erroneous judgment would be a void judgment. In such a scenario, the administration of justice would not survive. Hence, where the issue or question involved affects the wisdom or legal soundness of the decision–not the jurisdiction of the court to render said decision–the same is beyond the province of a special civil action for certiorari. The proper recourse of the aggrieved party from a decision of the Court of Appeals is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court.

Section 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and other Conditions Prejudicial to the Child’s Development. – (a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development including those covered by Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period.  x x x x

Child abuse, the crime charged, is defined by Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 7610, as follows:

Section 3. Definition of terms. – x x x x (b) “Child Abuse” refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following: (1) Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment; (2) Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being; (3) Unreasonable deprivation of his basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter; or (4) Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death.

The records did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that his laying of hands on Jayson had been intended to debase the “intrinsic worth and dignity” of Jayson as a human being, or that he had thereby intended to humiliate or embarrass Jayson. The records showed the laying of hands on Jayson to have been done at the spur of the moment and in anger, indicative of his being then overwhelmed by his fatherly concern for the personal safety of his own minor daughters who had just suffered harm at the hands of Jayson and Roldan. With the loss of his self-control, he lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse.