Spouses Magtoto vs CA (GR No. 175792 November 21, 2012)

Spouses Magtoto vs Court of Appeals
GR No. 175792 November 21, 2012

Facts: Private respondent Leonila sold her 3 parcels of land located in Pampanga to herein petitioners as evidenced by a deed of absolute sale which was paid by the latter partially in cash and the balance by postdated checks. Upon its due and presentment, said checks were dishonored by the bank which prompted Leonila to send demands to make good the same. However, no action was taken on the part of spouses Magtoto compelling private respondent to file a complaint before the Regional Trial Court. After receiving summons, petitioners failed to file their answer causing a court’s judgement by default.

Issue: Whether or not the default judgement is valid.

Held: Yes. The spouses Magtoto are unable to show  that their failure to timely  file an Answer was due to fraud,  accident,  mistake or  excusable negligence and,  more importantly, that they have  a meritorious defense  pursuant to Section 3(b), Rule 9 of the Rules of Court,  viz: 

(b)   Relief from order  of  default. –  A party declared  in default  may  at any time  after notice thereof and before judgment file a  motion under oath to set aside the order of default upon proper showing that his failure to answer was due to fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence  and  that he has a meritorious defense.  In such case,  the  order of  default  may  be set aside on such terms and conditions as the judge  may impose in the interest of  justice. 

Negligence to be excusable must be one which ordinary diligence and prudence could not have guarded against. Certainly, this is not the kind of negligence committed by the spouses Magtoto in this case. More significantly, a review of the records does not convince the court that the Spouses Magtoto have a meritorious defense. At most, the allegations in their answer and the attached affidavit of merit. To wit: that the agreed purchase price is only P10,000,000 that they provided financial support to Leonila for the settlement of the estate of the latter – the latter’s predecessor-in-interest and for the transfer of title in her name and that they already paid the total amount of P4,500,000 are mere allegations not supported by evidence they, at the outset supposed to present.

We agree with the CA that the RTC correctly declared the spouses Magtoto in default.  The records show that after receipt of the summons, the spouses Magtoto thrice requested for  extensions  of time to  file  their Answer.  The RTC granted these requests.  For their  final  request for extension,  the RTC gave  the spouses Magtoto until August 2,  2003 within which to file  their Answer.  But still, no Answer was filed.  Instead,  on August 4, 2003, or two  days after the deadline for filing their Answer,  the spouses Magtoto filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint.  Despite  its belated filing,  the RTC acted on  the  motion and resolved the same, albeit not in favor of the said spouses.  Thereafter, Atty. Canlas, petitioners’ former counsel,  filed  a motion to withdraw  his appearance since he could no longer effectively defend spouses Magtoto  because he had lost communication  with  them.  

At the outset, it must be pointed out  that petitioners’ resort to a Petition for Certiorari  under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is inappropriate.  Petitioners’ remedy from the adverse Decision  of the CA  lies in  Rule 45 which is a Petition for Review on  Certiorari.  As such, this petition should  have been dismissed outright for being a wrong mode of appeal.  Even if  the petition is to be  treated as filed under Rule 45, the same must still be denied for late filing and there being no reversible error on the part of the CA.   Records show  that petitioners received a copy of the CA Resolution denying their  Motion for Reconsideration on October 30, 2006.   They therefore had 15  days or until November  14, 2006 within which to file their Petition for Review on  Certiorari  before this Court.   However,  they filed  their Petition for  Certiorari  on December 29, 2006,  after the period  to file a Petition for Review on  Certiorari  under Rule 45 had expired.   Hence, this Petition for  Certiorari  under Rule 65 was resorted  to as a substitute for a lost appeal which is not allowed. 


VCP vs Municipality of Parañaque (GR No. 178431 November 12, 2012)

V.C. Ponce Company Inc. vs Municipality of Parañaque
GR No. 178431 November 12, 2012

Facts: On  October 5,  1987,  respondent  Municipality  (now  City)  of  Parañaque (municipality)  filed  a  complaint  against  petitioner  VCP  for  the  expropriation  of its  property,  which  is  located in the  municipality’s  Barrio San  Dionisio  and covered  by  Transfer  Certificate  of  Title  (TCT)  No.  116554. On August  23,  2002,  the  Regional  Trial  Court  (RTC)  of Parañaque,  Branch 274,    sustained  the  municipality’s  right  to  expropriate  the  said property  and to  a writ  of  possession.   The trial  court  also  informed  the  parties  in  the  same  Order of   the  reckoning period for the  determination  of  just  compensation. The  parties  did  not  file  any  objection  to the  above  Order and proceeded  to submit the  names of  their  respective  nominees  for  commissioner.   On  February 26,  2003,  the  trial  court  appointed three  commissioners to  assist in  ascertaining the  just compensation. The  trial  court  then  made  an independent  finding based on the evidence already on hand.   It  determined that  there  exists,  on record,  a  certification from  the Office  of the  City Assessor,  that  the  property’s  market  value  for the  years  1985 to 1993  (which  includes  the  year  the  complaint  was  filed)  was  P 1,366,400.00.    This value  roughly translates  to  P 75 per square  meter,  for a  total  of  P 1,372,350.00.  VCP moved for reconsideration which was denied by the trial court. Upon receipt of the order denying the motion for reconsideration, VCP filed a motion for extension of time to file a petition for certiorari on the trial court’s judgement.

Issue: Whether or not petition for certiorari is the proper remedy for the herein petitioner.

Held: No. A  court  with  appellate  jurisdiction  can  review  both  the  facts  and  the  law, including questions  of  jurisdiction.   It  can  set  aside an  erroneous  decision  and even nullify the  same,  if warranted.   Appeal  is  a  speedy remedy,  as  an adverse party  can file  its  appeal  from  a  final  decision  or order immediately  after receiving it.   A  party,  who  is  alleging  that  an  appeal  will not  promptly  relieve  it  of the injurious  effects of the judgment,  should establish facts  to show  how  the  appeal  is not  speedy  or adequate. VCP’s empty  protestations,  therefore,  fail to  impress.   There  is no  reason,  and VCP  cannot  explain,  why  an  appeal  would not  be  speedy and adequate  to address  its  assigned errors.  VCP cannot  complain of delay because  it  was  guilty  of  delay  itself,  and  it even  waited  until the  58th  day  of  its receipt  of  the  CA  Decision  before  taking  action.    Clearly,  petitioner  resorted  to certiorari  as a  substitute  for  its lost appeal.   The  CA  did  not  err in dismissing the same.   

Instead of filing  a  Motion for  Reconsideration  on April  25,  2007,  VCP filed a  MOTEX  on the  ground that  its  lawyer had withdrawn from  the  case  and it  was still  in  the  process  of retaining  a  new  counsel.   The  CA  was  correct  in  denying petitioner’s  MOTEX  because  the  period to file  a  Motion  for Reconsideration  is  not extendible.  The  Court  has  pronounced strict  adherence  to the  rule  laid down in Habaluyas  Enterprises,  Inc.  v.  Judge  Japson  that  “no  motion  for  extension  of time  to file  a  motion for new  trial  or reconsideration  may be  filed  with  the Metropolitan or Municipal  Trial  Courts,  the  Regional  Trial  Courts,  and the Intermediate  Appellate Court  (now  Court  of  Appeals).” Since  the  period to file a Motion  for  Reconsideration  is not extendible,  VCP’s  MOTEX  did  not toll  the reglementary period. Thus,  there  being no  Motion for Reconsideration  as  of April  25,  2007,  the  Decision of the  CA  dated  March  23,  2007 became  final  and executory  by operation of law. The  CA  was  correct  in  denying  the  Motion  for Reconsideration  that  VCP  had  belatedly  filed on  May  25,  2007  as  its  lateness  had rendered it  moot.   

Teñido vs People (G.R. No. 211642 March 09, 2016)

Teñido vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 211642 March 09, 2016
Facts: This resolves the Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, from the Decision dated September 20, 2013 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 34325 which affirmed with modification the Decision dated May 23, 2011 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 25, in Criminal Case No. 88-67398 finding Nelson Teñido y Silvestre (Teñido) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery in the manner, date and circumstances stated in the criminal information accusing him and his co-accused, Rizaldo Alvarade y Valencia (Alvarade), as follows: That on or about June 22, 1988, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and helping each other, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent of gain and without the knowledge and consent of the owner thereof, by means of force upon things, break into and enter house no. 1250, Kahilom I, Pandacan, Manila, inhabited by Lolita Sus de Enriquez, by the[n] and there destroying the chicken wire of their door at the store and removing a small piece of lawanit nailed to it, and passing through the same, an opening not intended for entrance or egress, and once inside, took, stole and carried away therefrom cash money amounting to P600.00, one (1) male wristwatch (Rolex) worth P2,000.00, one (1) Citizen wristwatch worth P995, one (1) gold ring with stone (brillante) worth P1,500.00, one (1) wallet containing cash money of P1,200.00, and one (1) gold[-]plated Seiko 5 watch worth P1,200.00 with a total value of P7,495.00, belonging to Lolita Sus de Enriquez, to the damage and prejudice of the said owner in the aforesaid amount of P7,495.00, Philippine currency. Contrary to law.
Issue: Whether or not a review on the credibility of a witness is a question of fact outside the bounds of a petition for certiorari under Rule 45.
Held: Yes. Questions pertaining to the credibility of a witness are factual in nature and are, generally, outside the ambit of the Court’s appellate jurisdiction. It is a settled rule that a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court shall raise only questions of law. “A question that invites a review of the factual findings of the lower tribunals or bodies is beyond the scope of this Court’s power of review and generally justifies the dismissal of the petition.”
Moreover, it is axiomatic that absent any showing that the trial court overlooked substantial facts and circumstances that would affect the final disposition of the case, appellate courts are bound to give due deference and respect to its evaluation of the credibility of an eyewitness and his testimony as well as its probative value as it was certainly in a better position to rate the credibility of the witnesses after hearing them and observing their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. 
The Court finds no cogent reason to depart from the foregoing tenets especially in view of the absence of any exceptional circumstances that will justify a re-evaluation of the RTC’s factual findings. 
The fact of delay attributed to a prosecution witness cannot be taken against her. What is important is that her testimony regarding the incident bears the earmarks of truth and dependability. Time and again, the Court has stressed: 
Delay in revealing the identity of the perpetrators of a crime does not necessarily impair the credibility of a witness, especially where sufficient explanation is given. No standard form of behavior can be expected from people who had witnessed a strange or frightful experience. Jurisprudence recognizes that witnesses are naturally reluctant to volunteer information about a criminal case or are unwilling to be involved in criminal investigations because of varied reasons. Some fear for their lives and that of their family; while others shy away when those involved in the crime are their relatives or townmates. And where there is delay, it is more important to consider the reason for the delay, which must be sufficient or well-grounded, and not the length of delay.
Guinto sufficiently explained that she got nervous and frightened. Further, there is no showing that Guinto was impelled by any ill motive to fabricate facts and attribute a serious offense against Teñido. Where there is no evidence to indicate that the prosecution witness was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that she was not so actuated and that her testimony is entitled to full faith and credit.

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.

Lepanto vs Lepanto Capataz Union (G.R. No. 157086 February 18, 2013)

Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company vs Lepanto Capataz Union
G.R. No. 157086 February 18, 2013

Facts: As a domestic corporation authorized to engage in large-scale mining, Lepanto operated several mining claims in Mankayan, Benguet. On May 27, 1998, respondent Lepanto Capataz Union (Union), a labor organization duly registered with DOLE, filed a petition for consent election with the Industrial Relations Division of the Cordillera Regional Office (CAR) of DOLE, thereby proposing to represent 139 capatazes of Lepanto. In due course, Lepanto opposed the petition, contending that the Union was in reality seeking a certification election, not a consent election, and would be thereby competing with the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU), the current collective bargaining agent. Lepanto pointed out that the capatazes were already members of LEU, the exclusive representative of all rank-and-file employees of its Mine Division.

Issues: Whether or not the filing of a motion for reconsideration on the decision by the DOLE Secretary is a condition precedent in a petition for certiorari.

Whether or not respondent LCU may form a separate union.

Held: Yes. To start with,  the requirement of the timely filing of a motion for reconsideration as a precondition to the filing of a petition for certiorari accords with the principle of exhausting administrative remedies as a means to afford every opportunity to the respondent agency to resolve the matter and correct itself if need be.

And, secondly, the ruling in National Federation of Labor v. Laguesma reiterates St. Martin’s Funeral Home v. National Labor Relations Commission, where the Court has pronounced that the special civil action of certiorari is the appropriate remedy from the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in view of the lack of any appellate remedy provided by the Labor Code to a party aggrieved by the decision of the NLRC. Accordingly, any decision, resolution or ruling of the DOLE Secretary from which the Labor Code affords no remedy to the aggrieved party may be reviewed through a petition for certiorari initiated only in the CA in deference to the principle of the hierarchy of courts.

Yet, it is also significant to note that National Federation of Labor v. Laguesma also reaffirmed the dictum issued in St. Martin’s Funeral Homes v. National Labor Relations Commission to the effect that “the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a motion for reconsideration as a precondition for any further or subsequent remedy, and then seasonably avail of the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65.

Yes. Capatazes or foremen are not rank-andfile employees because they are an extension of the management, and as such they may influence the rank-and-file workers under them to engage in slowdowns or similar activities detrimental to the policies, interests or business objectives of the employers.

The word capataz is defined in Webster’s Third International Dictionary, 1986 as “a boss”, “foreman” and “an overseer”. The employer did not dispute during the hearing that the capatazes indeed take charge of the implementation of the job orders by supervising and instructing the miners, mackers and other rank-and-file workers under them, assess and evaluate their performance, make regular reports and recommends (sic) new systems and procedure of work, as well as guidelines for the discipline of employees. As testified to by petitioner’s president, the capatazes are neither rank-and-file nor supervisory and, more or less, fall in the middle of their rank. In this respect, we can see that indeed the capatazes differ from the rank-and-file and can by themselves constitute a separate bargaining unit.

Bordomeo vs CA (G.R. No. 161596 February 20, 2013)

Bordomeo etal vs Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 161596 February 20, 2013

Facts: In 1989, the IPI Employees Union-Associated Labor Union (Union), representing the workers, had a bargaining deadlock with the IPI management. This deadlock resulted in the Union staging a strike and IPI ordering a lockout. On December 26, 1990, after assuming jurisdiction over the dispute, DOLE Secretary Ruben D. Torres rendered hid decision reinstating the illegally dismissed employees with full backwages reckoning from December 8, 1989 and declaring the IPI Employees Union-ALU as the exclusive bargaining agent further directing the parties to enter into a new CBA. A motion for writ of execution was filed. Motion for partial reconsideration was filed by herein petitioners for amendatory/clarifications on the assailed order by DOLE Secretary Torres. Ultimately, on July 4, 2001, DOLE Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas issued her Order37 affirming the order issued on March 27, 1998, and declaring that the full execution of the order of March 27, 1998 “completely CLOSED and TERMINATED this case.” Only herein petitioners Roberto Bordomeo, Anecito Cupta, Jaime Sarmiento and Virgilio Saragena assailed the July 4, 2001 order of Secretary Sto. Tomas by petition for certiorari in the CA.

Issues: Whether or not the the special civil action of certiorari is the proper remedy for the petitioners.

Whether or not the petitioners are entitled to separation pay and backwages.

Held: No. Even so, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court still requires the petition for certiorari to comply with the following requisites, namely:  (1) the writ of certiorari is directed against a tribunal, a board, or an officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (2) such tribunal, board, or officer has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

Jurisprudence recognizes certain situations when the extraordinary remedy of certiorari may be deemed proper, such as: (a) when it is necessary to prevent irreparable damages and injury to a party; (b) where the trial judge capriciously and whimsically exercised his judgment; (c) where there may be danger of a failure of justice; (d) where an appeal would be slow, inadequate, and insufficient; (e) where the issue raised is one purely of law; (f) where public interest is involved; and (g) in case of urgency. Yet, a reading of the petition for certiorari and its annexes reveals that the petition does not come under any of the situations. Specifically, the petitioners have not shown that the grant of the writ of certiorari will be necessary to prevent a substantial wrong or to do substantial justice to them.

In a special civil action for certiorari brought against a court with jurisdiction over a case, the petitioner carries the burden to prove that the respondent tribunal committed not a merely reversible error but a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the impugned order. Showing mere abuse of discretion is not enough, for the abuse must be shown to be grave.  Grave abuse of discretion means either that the judicial or quasi-judicial power was exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, or that the respondent judge, tribunal or board evaded a positive duty, or virtually refused to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law, such as when such judge, tribunal or board exercising judicial or quasi-judicial powers acted in a capricious or whimsical manner as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Under the circumstances, the CA committed no abuse of discretion, least of all grave, because its justifications were supported by the history of the dispute and borne out by the applicable laws and jurisprudence.

Yes. Under the circumstances, the employment of the 15 employees or the possibility of their reinstatement terminated by March 15, 1995. Thereafter, their claim for separation pay and backwages beyond March 15, 1995 would be unwarranted. The computation of separation pay and backwages due to illegally dismissed employees should not go beyond the date when they were deemed to have been actually separated from their employment, or beyond the date when their reinstatement was rendered impossible. Anent this, the Court has observed in Golden Ace Builders v. Talde:

The basis for the payment of backwages is different from that for the award of separation pay. Separation pay is granted where reinstatement is no longer advisable because of strained relations between the employee and the employer.  Backwages represent compensation that should have been earned but were not collected because of the unjust dismissal.  The basis for computing backwages is usually the length of the employee’s service while that for separation pay is the actual period when the employee was unlawfully prevented from working.

Clearly then, respondent is entitled to backwages and separation pay as his reinstatement has been rendered impossible due to strained relations. As correctly held by the appellate court, the backwages due respondent must be computed from the time he was unjustly dismissed until his actual reinstatement, or from February 1999 until June 30, 2005 when his reinstatement was rendered impossible without fault on his part.