Gipa vs SLI (G.R. No.177425 June 18, 2014)

Gipa vs Southern Luzon Institute
G.R. No.177425 June 18, 2014
Facts: On February 26, 1996, respondent Southern Luzon Institute (SLI), an educational institution in Bulan, Sorsogon, filed a Complaint for Recovery of Ownership and Possession with Damages against petitioners Alonzo Gipa, Imelda Marollano, Juanito Ludovice, Demar Bitangcor, Virgilio Gojit, Felipe Montalban and four others namely, Arturo Rogacion, Virgilio Gracela, Rosemarie Alvarez and Rosita Montalban (Rosita). During trial, defendant Rosita executed a Special Power of Attorney in favor of her sister Daisy M. Placer (Placer) authorizing the latter to represent her in the case and to sign any and all papers in relation thereto. 
Finding SLI to have proven its ownership of the property by preponderance of evidence, the RTC rendered a Decision in its favor on January 5, 2005.
Petitioners and their co-defendants filed a Notice of Appeal which was granted by the RTC in its Order of January 27, 2005. The CA, however, dismissed the appeal in its Resolution of August 26, 2005 since it was not shown that the appellate court docket fees and other lawful fees were paid. Petitioners and their co-defendants promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration to which they attached a Certification from the RTC that they paid the appeal fee in the amount of₱3,000.00 under Official Receipt No. 18091130 dated January 25, 2005. In view of this, the CA granted the said motion and consequently reinstated the appeal through a Resolution dated November 2, 2005. Subsequently, however, the CA further required petitioners and their codefendants, through a Minute Resolution dated March 1, 2006, to remit within ten days from notice the amount of ₱30.00 for legal research fund, which apparently was not included in the ₱3,000.00 appeal fee previously paid by them. Copy of the said resolution was received on March 13,2006 by petitioners‘ counsel, Atty. Jose G. Gojar of the Public Attorney‘s Office. Despite the lapse of nine months from their counsel‘s receipt of the said resolution, petitioners and their co-defendants, however, failed to comply with the CA‘s directive. Hence, the said court dismissed the appeal through its Resolution of December 20, 2006. Petitioners and their co-defendants filed a Motion for Reconsideration invoking the principle of liberality in the application of technical rules considering that they have paid the substantial amount of ₱3,000.00 for docket and other legal fees and fell short only by the meager amount of ₱30.00. As compliance, they attached to the said motion a postal money order in the sum of ₱30.00 payable to the Clerk of Court of the CA. The CA, however, was not swayed, hence, the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration in its Resolution  of March 30, 2007. 
Issue: Whether or not the CA erred in dismissing the appeal for the nonpayment of the ₱30.00.
Held: No. Payment of the full amount of appellate court docket and lawful fees is mandatory and jurisdictional; Relaxation of the rule on payment of appeal fee is unwarranted in this case. 
Section 4, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides: 
Sec. 4. Appellate court docket and other lawful fees. – Within the period for taking an appeal, the appellant shall pay to the clerk of court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from, the full amount of the appellate court docket and other lawful fees. Proof of payment of said fees shall be transmitted to the appellate court together with the original record or the record on appeal.
In Far Corporation v. Magdaluyo, as with other subsequent cases of the same ruling, the Court explained that the procedural requirement under Section 4 of Rule 41 is not merely directory, as the payment of the docket and other legal fees within the prescribed period is both mandatory and jurisdictional. It bears stressing that an appeal is not a right, but a mere statutory privilege. An ordinary appeal from a decision or final order of the RTC to the CA must be made within 15 days from notice. And within this period, the full amount of the appellate court docket and other lawful fees must be paid to the clerk of the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from. The requirement of paying the full amount of the appellate docket fees within the prescribed period is not a mere technicality of law or procedure. The payment of docket fees within the prescribed period is mandatory for the perfection of an appeal. Without such payment, the appeal is not perfected. The appellate court does not acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action and the Decision sought to be appealed from becomes final and executory. Further, under Section 1 (c), Rule 50, an appeal may be dismissed by the CA, on its own motion or on that of the appellee, on the ground of the non-payment of the docket and other lawful fees within the reglementary period as provided under Section 4 of Rule 41. The payment of the full amount of the docket fee is an indispensable step for the perfection of an appeal. In both original and appellate cases, the court acquires jurisdiction over the case only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fees.
Suffice it to say that “[c]oncomitant to the liberal interpretation of the rules of procedure should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to adequately explain his failure to abide by the rules.” Those who seek exemption from the application of the rule have the burden of proving the existence of exceptionally meritorious reason warranting such departure. Petitioners‘ failure to advance any explanation as to why they failed to pay the correct docket fees or to complete payment of the same within the period allowed by the CA is thus fatal to their cause. Hence, a departure from the rule on the payment of the appeal fee is unwarranted. Neither do the cases cited by petitioners help because they are not in point. Unlike in this case, the CA in Camposagrado no longer required the petitioners therein to complete the payment of the appeal fee by remitting the ₱5.00 deficiency but just dismissed the appeal outright. Moreover, a justifiable reason for the insufficient payment was tendered by petitioners in the said case, i.e., that they relied on the assessment made by the collection officer of the court and honestly believed that the amount collected from them was that which is mandated by the Rules.

Pulumbarit Sr. vs CA (G.R. NOS. 153745-46, October 14, 2015)

Pulumbarit Sr. vs Court of Appeals
G.R. NOS. 153745-46, October 14, 2015
Facts: Sometime in 1982, San Juan Macias Memorial Park, Inc. (SJMMPI), through its President Lourdes S. Pascual, authorized Atty. Soledad de Jesus to look for a buyer for the San Juan Memorial Park (Memorial Park) for P1,500,000.00. Thereafter, Lourdes Pascual, Leonila F. Acasio, and the other officers of SJMMPI (Pascual et al.) were introduced to Nemencio Pulumbarit (Pulumbarit). The parties eventually came to an agreement, with Pulumbarit issuing eighteen (18) checks in the name of SJMMPI Secretary-Treasurer Leonila Acasio. Pulumbarit and/or his lawyer took charge of reducing the agreement into writing and securing the signatures of all concerned parties. On June 13, 1983, Pascual et al. sent a letter to Pulumbarit requesting for a copy of their written agreement. In another letter of even date, they also asked Pulumbarit to reissue new checks to replace the ones he previously issued. Failing to get a favorable response, Pascual et al. filed a Complaint for Rescission of Contract, Damages and Accounting with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Receivership against Pulumbarit. On February 3, 1984, Pulumbarit filed a Motion praying for the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of cause of action, attaching a copy of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Pascual et al. amended their Complaint on June 5, 1984. Therein, they alleged that Pulumbarit falsified their agreement, as the MOA provided did not reflect the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties. They disputed the statement in the MOA that the agreement was a sale of all the paid-up stocks of SJMMPI and not a management agreement with option to buy. Pascual et al. argued that the falsified MOA was a nullity and therefore without force and effect. In a motion filed on July 5, 1984, and pending resolution of Pulumbarit’s Motion to Dismiss, Pascual et al. sought to have Pulumbarit declared in default. The trial court granted this motion and allowed Paseual et al. to present their evidence ex parte. On September 5, 1984, the trial court rendered a default judgment in favor of Paseual et al. This judgment of default was reversed by the CA on January 15, 1989 and the case was remanded to the trial court for reception of Pulumbarit’s evidence. Prior to the reversal of the trial court’s default judgment, however, Pascual et al. applied for the appointment of a receiver to take possession of the Memorial Park and all its records and business transactions during the pendency of the case. This application was denied by the trial court in an Order dated October 10, 1991. Pulumbarit filed a Notice of Appeal dated August 19, 2000. His appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 69931. Meanwhile, and before the transniittal of the records of Civil Case No. 7250-M to the CA, Pascual et al. filed with the trial court motions praying for (1) the issuance of a writ of injunction against Pulumbarit and (2) the execution of the decision pending appeal. The trial court granted these motions on September 13, 2000 pursuant to Section 4, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Pulumbarit’s subsequent motion for reconsideration of this Order (directing discretionary execution) was denied on October 3, 2000.
Issues:  Whether or not Pascual et al.’s filing of an Urgent Motion for Execution Pending Appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931, despite knowledge of the pendency of CA-G.R. SP No. 61873, constituted forum shopping.
Whether or not the filing of the motion for execution pending appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 rendered CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 moot and academic.
Whether or not the finding of fact in the application for receivership constituted res judicata as to the issue of the true agreement between the parties.
Held: No. Strictly speaking, Pascual et al. did not commit forum shopping. Forum shopping exists when the elements of litis pendentia are present, or when a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another. Here, any action by the CA on Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 is provisional in nature, such that it can in no way constitute as res judicata in CA-G.R. SP No. 61873. Moreover, forum shopping requires the identity of parties, rights or causes of action, and reliefs sought in two or more pending cases. Mere, there is no identity of relief and/or cause of action. CAG.R. SP No. 61873 is limited to a determination of whether grave abuse of discretion was committed by the trial court in granting execution pending appeal while Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 involves a determination by the CA whether there are “good reasons” warranting the grant of discretionary execution. 
No. To reiterate, Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 seeks the CA’s approval to execute the trial court’s Decision pending final disposition of Pulumbarit’s appeal. CA-G.R. SP No. 61873, on the other hand, is an action to determine whether grave abuse of discretion was committed by the trial court when it allowed execution pending appeal. The subjects of Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 and Pulumbarit’s petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 concern two different, albeit closely related, issues. Furthermore, any action on a motion for execution pending appeal is only provisional in nature. The grant or denial (as the case may be) of such a motion is always without prejudice to the court’s final disposition of the case and the issues raised therein. In fact, Section 3, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court allows the party against whom the execution of a decision pending appeal is directed to stay the execution by posting a supersedeas bond. Section 5 of the same rule also provides that where the executed judgment is reversed totally or partially, or annulled, on appeal or otherwise, the trial court may, on motion, issue such orders of restitution or reparation of damages as equity and justice may warrant under the circumstances.
For these reasons, the grant by the CA of a motion for execution pending appeal, being provisional in nature, could therefore not have rendered CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 moot and academic. In the same way, if not arguably more so, much less can the mere filing of such a motion warrant the dismissal of CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 on the ground of mootness. Thus, the CA committed a reversible error when it dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 61873.
Section 2, Rule 30 of the Rules of Court provides, in part, that discretionary execution (or execution pending appeal) may only issue “upon good reasons to be stated in a special order after due hearing.” Good reason must consist of superior or exceptional circumstances of such urgency as to outweigh the injury or damage that the losing party may suffer, should the appealed judgment be reversed later.
No. There is “bar by prior judgment” when, as between the first case where the judgment was rendered and the second case that is sought to be barred, there is identity of parties, subject matter, and causes of action. In this instance, the judgment in the first case constitutes an absolute bar to the second action. 
But where there is identity of parties in the first and second cases, but no identity of causes of action, the first judgment is conclusive only as to those matters actually and directly controverted and determined and not as to matters merely involved therein. This is the concept of res judicata known as “conclusiveness of judgment.” Stated differently, any right, fact, or matter in issue directly adjudicated or necessarily involved in the determination of an action before a competent court in which judgment is rendered on the merits is conclusively settled by the judgment therein and cannot again be litigated between the parties and their privies, whether or not the claim, demand, purpose, or subject matter of the two actions is the same.
The application of the doctrine of res judicata either in the concept of bar by prior judgment or conclusiveness of judgment requires or presupposes the existence of two independent actions.

It’s Real;

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The thing about depression is, you don’t know when it’s going to knock on your door or just come in without you allowing it to. That it is already poking you with its sarcastic expression. There is no class of person it targets. EVERYONE is a target. Actually, I believe that everbody is depressed and I think there is just a trigger that stimulates it, and each patient has a unique struggle.

One of the difficulties of which is your mood will change in a snap and you can’t pin point the reason why all of a sudden you feel sad… and you just want to curl yourself in bed and cry. That is hard. That is sad. 

Sometimes you will feel an intense amount of sadness without any reason, as in nothing at the top of your mind tells you why are tears falling in your eyes and why on earth are you sad.

It is hard to cry or just even want to cry without knowing why. It’s more painful to feel pain when you have no idea what hurts you. 

You don’t choose to stay away from people, it just happen. You suddenly pull yourself away even if you want some people’s comfort. Even if you want to have a conversation with some close and trusted people around or even with a stranger, but you just cannot find the energy to do so.

Sometimes the “increase in awareness” and other encouraging messages doesn’t help. (for me at least). 

Some will say, “stay strong”; “help yourself”; “we are here for you”; “relax”; “you have to love yourself first”; and the list goes on.. believe me, I want to be strong, I want to keep going, I want to just move on BUT it is not easy as counting 1, 2, 3. Every patient has their own struggle and ways to cope with the black dog (even the doctor told me this and I totally agreed with him).

There are days that you will feel unproductive, that’s okay.. I guess.

You will feel isolated, THAT is not okay, you have to have people around you regardless if you have suicidal thoughts or none, but most of the time, those people who said that they are just there…. are not there.

I think the best way you can help someone suffering from depression is not the kind and encouraging words (although that’s a nice thing to do) but just your presence. That matters more than anything else. No need to say anything, just make the person feel that they are not alone in this big world. That you are there (physically or virtually) for them.

To feel that you are depressed is one thing and to have a professional tell you that you are is another.

Stronghold vs Pamana Island (G.R. No. 174838 June 01, 2016)

Stronghold Insurance Co. & Inc. vs Pamana Island Resort and Marina Club Inc.
G.R. No. 174838 June 01, 2016
Facts: The case stems from an action for sum of money filed by Pamana Island Resort Hotel and Marina Club, Inc. (Pamana) and Flowtech Construction Corporation (Flowtech) against Stronghold on the basis of a Contractor’s All Risk Bond of P9,047,960.14 obtained by Flowtech in relation to the construction of Pamana’s project in Pamana Island, Subic Bay. On January 27, 1992, a fire in the project burned down cottages being built by Flowtech, resulting in losses to Pamana. In a Decision dated October 14, 1999, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 135 declared Stronghold liable for the claim. Besides the award of insurance proceeds, exemplary damages and attorney’s fees, the trial court ordered the payment of interest at double the applicable rate, following Section 243 of the Insurance Code which Stronghold was declared to have violated. Stronghold’s appeal seeking the reversal of the RTC judgment was denied by the CA and thereafter, by the SC. On March 4, 2005, Flowtech filed with the RTC a motion for execution, which was granted on May 10, 2005. A Writ of Execution was issued on May 12, 2005. Thereafter, Stronghold filed an Urgent Motion to Suspend Execution and to Rationalize Enforcement of the Decision, dated August 16, 2005, contending that the interest penalty being demanded from it through the Sheriff was unconscionable and iniquitous. The motion was opposed by Pamana, which contended that the RTC decision had become final and thus, could no longer be amended, altered and modified. 
Issue: Whether or not the the judgement rendered by the RTC has attained finality.
Held: Yes. As correctly pointed out by the CA, the RTC’s order to implement carried substantial changes in a judgment that had become final and executory. These variations pertained to “(1) the date from which the double rate of interest on the principal amount of the claim, shall be computed; (2) up to when such interest shall run; and (3) the applicable rate of interest.” Instead of “double the rate of interest [on the proceeds of insurance] from the date of demand until fully paid,” the RTC’s computation for purposes of execution was limited to an interest rate of 6% per annum, resulting in a double rate of only 12% per annum, to be reckoned from the date of the trial court’s judgment until it became final and executory. 
Clearly, the RTC’s issuances contravened a settled principle affecting execution of judgments. Time and again, courts have emphasized that a writ of execution must conform substantially to every essential particular of the judgment promulgated. An execution that is not in harmony with the judgment is bereft of validity. This applies because “once a judgment becomes final and executory, all that remains is the execution of the decision which is a matter of right. The prevailing party is entitled to a writ of execution, the issuance of which is the trial court’s ministerial duty.”
While exceptions to the rule on immutability of final judgments are applied in some cases, these are limited to the following instances: (1) the correction of clerical errors; (2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party; and (3) void judgments. None of these exceptions attend Stronghold’s case. 

Green Star Express vs NURC (G.R. No. 181517 July 6, 2015)

Green Star Express Inc. vs Nissin Universal Robina Corporation
G.R. No. 181517 July 6, 2015
Facts:  On February 25, 2003, a Mitsubishi L-300 van which Universal Robina Corporation ( URC) owned figured in a vehicular accident with petitioner Green Star Express, Inc.’ s (Green Star) passenger bus, resulting in the death of the van’s driver. Thus, the bus driver, petitioner Fruto Sayson, Jr., was charged with the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Thereafter, Green Star sent a demand letter to respondent NissinUniversal Robina Corporation (NURC) for the repair of its passenger bus amounting to ₱567, 070.68. NURC denied any liability therefore and argued that the criminal case shall determine the ultimate liabilities of the parties. Thereafter, the criminal case was dismissed without prejudice, due to insufficiency of evidence. Sayson and Green Star then filed a complaint for damages against NURC before the R TC of San Pedro, Laguna. Francis Tinio, one of NURC’s employees, was the one who received the summons. On February 6, 2004, NURC filed a Motion to Dismiss claiming lack of jurisdiction due to improper service. 
Issue: Whether or not there is valid service of summons.
Held: No. It is a well-established rule that the rules on service of summons upon a domestic private juridical entity must be strictly complied with. Otherwise, the court cannot be said to have acquired jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. 
NURC maintains that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over it as the summons was received by its cost accountant, Francis Tinio. It argues that under Section 11, Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Court, which provides the rule on service of summons upon a juridical entity, in cases where the defendant is a domestic corporation like NURC, summons may be served only through its officers. Thus: 
Section 11. Service upon domestic private juridical entity. – When the defendant is a corporation, partnership or association organized under the laws of the Philippines with a juridical personality, service may be made on the president, managing partner, general manager, corporate secretary, treasurer, or in-house counsel.
In the past, the Court upheld service of summons upon a construction project manager, a corporation‘s assistant manager, and ordinary clerk of a corporation, private secretary of corporate executives, retained counsel, and officials who had control over the operations of the corporation like the assistant general manager or the corporation‘s Chief Finance and Administrative Officer. The Court then considered said persons as “agent” within the contemplation of the old rule. Notably, under the new Rules, service of summons upon an agent of the corporation is no longer authorized, The rule now likewise states “general manager” instead of “manager”; “corporate secretary” instead of merely “secretary”; and “treasure” instead of “cashier.” It has now become restricted, limited, and exclusive only to the persons enumerated in the aforementioned provision, following the rule in statutory construction that the express mention of one person excludes all others, or expression unions est exclusion alterius. Service must, therefore, be made only on the person expressly listed in the rules. If the revision committee intended to liberalize the rule on service of summons, it could have easily done so by clear and concise language.

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.