commercial law

Mentholantum Co., Inc vs Mangaliman (G.R. No. L-47701 June 27, 1941)

Mentholantum Co., Inc vs Mangaliman
G.R. No. L-47701 June 27, 1941

Facts: On October 1, 1935, the Mentholatum Co., Inc., and the Philippine-American Drug Co., Inc. instituted an action in the Court of First Instance of Manila, civil case No. 48855, against Anacleto Mangaliman, Florencio Mangaliman and the Director of the Bureau of Commerce for infringement of trade mark and unfair competition. Plaintiffs prayed for the issuance of an order restraining Anacleto and Florencio Mangaliman from selling their product “Mentholiman,” and directing them to render an accounting of their sales and profits and to pay damages. The complaint stated, among other particulars, that the Mentholatum Co., Inc., is a Kansas corporation which manufactures Mentholatum,” a medicament and salve adapted for the treatment of colds, nasal irritations, chapped skin, insect bites, rectal irritation and other external ailments of the body; that the Philippine-American Drug co., Inc., is its exclusive distributing agent in the Philippines authorized by it to look after and protect its interests; that on June 26, 1919 and on January 21, 1921, the Mentholatum Co., Inc., registered with the Bureau of Commerce and Industry the word, “Mentholatum,” as trade mark for its products; that the Mangaliman brothers prepared a medicament and salve named “Mentholiman” which they sold to the public packed in a container of the same size, color and shape as “Mentholatum”; and that, as a consequence of these acts of the defendants, plaintiffs suffered damages from the dimunition of their sales and the loss of goodwill and reputation of their product in the market.

Issue: Whether or not the petitioner has the right to maintain the action for infringement of trademark and unfair competition.

Held: No. Section 69 of Act No. 1459 reads:

SEC. 69. No foreign corporation or corporation formed, organized, or existing under any laws other than those of the Philippine Islands shall be permitted to transact business in the Philippine Islands or maintain by itself or assignee any suit for the recovery of any debt, claim, or demand whatever, unless it shall have the license prescribed in the section immediately preceding. Any officer, or agent of the corporation or any person transacting business for any foreign corporation not having the license prescribed shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than two years or by a fine of not less than two hundred pesos nor more than one thousand pesos, or by both such imprisonment and fine, in the discretion of the court.

In the present case, no dispute exists as to facts: (1) that the plaintiff, the Mentholatum Co., Inc., is a foreign corporation; (2) that it is not licensed to do business in the Philippines. The controversy, in reality, hinges on the question of whether the said corporation is or is not transacting business in the Philippines.

No general rule or governing principle can be laid down as to what constitutes “doing” or “engaging in” or “transacting” business. Indeed, each case must be judged in the light of its peculiar environmental circumstances. The true test, however, seems to be whether the foreign corporation is continuing the body or substance of the business or enterprise for which it was organized or whether it has substantially retired from it and turned it over to another. (Traction Cos. v. Collectors of Int. Revenue [C. C. A. Ohio], 223 F. 984, 987.) The term implies a continuity of commercial dealings and arrangements, and contemplates, to that extent, the performance of acts or works or the exercise of some of the functions normally incident to, and in progressive prosecution of, the purpose and object of its organization. (Griffin v. Implement Dealers’ Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 241 N. W. 75, 77; Pauline Oil & Gas Co. v. Mutual Tank Line Co., 246 P. 851, 852, 118 Okl. 111; Automotive Material Co. v. American Standard Metal Products Corp., 158 N. E. 698, 703, 327 III. 367.)

MORAN, J., dissenting:

Section 69 of the Corporation Law provides that, without license no foreign corporation may maintain by itself or assignee any suit in the Philippine courts for the recovery of any debt, claim or demand whatever. But this provision, as we have held in Western Equipment & Supply Company vs. Reyes (51 Phil., 115), does not apply to suits for infringement of trade marks and unfair competition, the theory being that “the right to the use of the corporate and trade name of a foreign corporation is a property right, a right in rem, which it may assert and protect in any of the courts of the world even in countries where it does not personally transact any business,” and that “trade mark does not acknowledge any territorial boundaries but extends to every mark where the traders’ goods have become known and identified by the use of the mark.”

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Lozada vs Magtanggol (G.R. No. 196134, October 12, 2016)

Lozada vs Magtanggol
G.R. No. 196134, October 12, 2016

Facts: On October 13, 1997, the Magtanggol Mendoza was employed as a technician by VSL Service Center, a single proprietorship owned and managed by Valentin Lozada. Sometime in August 2003, the VSL Service Center was incorporated and changed its business name to LB&C Services Corporation. Subsequently, Magtanggol was asked by respondent Lozada to sign a new employment contract. The petitioner did not accede because the respondent company did not consider the number of years of service that he had rendered to VSL Service Center. From then on, the his work schedule was reduced to one to three days a week. In December 2003, He was given his regular working schedule by the company. However, on January 12, 2004, Magtanggol was advised by the respondent company’s Executive Officer, Angeline Aguilar, not to report for work and just wait for a call from the respondent company regarding his work schedule. Due to the continued failure of respondent company to give work schedule to Magtanggol, the latter filed a complaint against the respondent company on January 21, 2004 for illegal dismissal with a prayer for the payment of his 13th month pay, service incentive leave pay, holiday pay and separation pay and with a claim for moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees. The case was docketed as NLRC NCR Case No. 00-01-00968-2004. On February 23, 2005, the Labor Arbiter declared the dismissal of the petitioner from employment as illegal. LB&C Services Corporation appealed, but the NLRC dismissed the appeal for non-perfection thereof due to failure to deposit the required cash or surety bond. Thus, the Labor Arbiter’s decision attained finality on August 4, 2006, and the entry of judgment was issued by the NLRC on August 16, 2006. The respondent moved for the issuance of the writ of execution, which the Labor Arbiter granted on November 21, 2006.

Issue: Whether or not the petitioner may be held liable for the monetary awards granted to the respondent despite the absence of a pronouncement of his being solidarily liable with LB&C Services Corporation.

Held: No. A corporation, as a juridical entity, may act only through its directors, officers and employees. Obligations incurred as a result of the acts of the directors and officers as the corporate agents are not their personal liability but the direct responsibility of the corporation they represent. As a general rule, corporate officers are not held solidarily liable with the corporation for separation pay because the corporation is invested by law with a personality separate and distinct from those of the persons composing it as well as from that of any other legal entity to which it may be related. Mere ownership by a single stockholder or by another corporation of all or nearly all of the capital stock of a corporation is not of itself sufficient ground for disregarding the separate corporate personality.

To hold a director or officer personally liable for corporate obligations, two requisites must concur, to wit: (1) the complaint must allege that the director or officer assented to the patently unlawful acts of the corporation, or that the director or officer was guilty of gross negligence or bad faith; and (2) there must be proof that the director or officer acted in bad faith.

Clearly, what can be inferred from the earlier cases is that the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil applies only in three (3) basic areas, namely: 1) defeat of public convenience as when the corporate fiction is used as a vehicle for the evasion of an existing obligation; 2) fraud cases or when the corporate entity is used to justify a wrong, protect fraud, or defend a crime; or 3) alter ego cases, where a corporation is merely a farce since it is a mere alter ego or business conduit of a person, or where the corporation is so organized and controlled and its affairs are so conducted as to make it merely an instrumentality, agency, conduit or adjunct of another corporation. In the absence of malice, bad faith, or a specific provision of law making a corporate officer liable, such corporate officer cannot be made personally liable for corporate liabilities.

The records of this case do not warrant the application of the exception. The rule, which requires malice or bad faith on the part of the directors or officers of the corporation, must still prevail. The petitioner might have acted in behalf of LB&C Services Corporation but the corporation’s failure to operate could not be hastily equated to bad faith on his part. Verily, the closure of a business can be caused by a host of reasons, including mismanagement, bankruptcy, lack of demand, negligence, or lack of business foresight. Unless the closure is clearly demonstrated to be deliberate, malicious and in bad faith, the general rule that a corporation has, by law, a personality separate and distinct from that of its owners should hold sway. In view of the dearth of evidence indicating that the petitioner had acted deliberately, maliciously or in bad faith in handling the affairs of LB&C Services Corporation, and such acts had eventually resulted in the closure of its business, he could not be validly held to be jointly and solidarily liable with LB&C Services Corporation.

Gamboa vs Teves (G.R. No. 176579 June 28, 2011)

Gamboa vs Teves
G.R. No. 176579 June 28, 2011

Facts: On 28 November 1928, the Philippine Legislature enacted Act No. 3436 which granted PLDT a franchise and the right to engage in telecommunications business. In 1969, General Telephone and Electronics Corporation (GTE), an American company and a major PLDT stockholder, sold 26 percent of the outstanding common shares of PLDT to PTIC. In 1977, Prime Holdings, Inc. (PHI) was incorporated by several persons, including Roland Gapud and Jose Campos, Jr. Subsequently, PHI became the owner of 111,415 shares of stock of PTIC by virtue of three Deeds of Assignment executed by PTIC stockholders Ramon Cojuangco and Luis Tirso Rivilla. In 1986, the 111,415 shares of stock of PTIC held by PHI were sequestered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). The 111,415 PTIC shares, which represent about 46.125 percent of the outstanding capital stock of PTIC, were later declared by this Court to be owned by the Republic of the Philippines. Since PTIC is a stockholder of PLDT, the sale by the Philippine Government of 46.125 percent of PTIC shares is actually an indirect sale of 12 million shares or about 6.3 percent of the outstanding common shares of PLDT. With the sale, First Pacifics common shareholdings in PLDT increased from 30.7 percent to 37 percent, thereby increasing the common shareholdings of foreigners in PLDT to about 81.47 percent. This violates Section 11, Article XII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which limits foreign ownership of the capital of a public utility to not more than 40 percent.

Issue: Whether or not the term capital in Section 11, Article XII of the Constitution refers to the common shares of PLDT, a public utility.

Held: Yes. Section 11, Article XII (National Economy and Patrimony) of the 1987 Constitution mandates the Filipinization of public utilities, to wit:

Section 11. No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines, at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens; nor shall such franchise, certificate, or authorization be exclusive in character or for a longer period than fifty years. Neither shall any such franchise or right be granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to amendment, alteration, or repeal by the Congress when the common good so requires. The State shall encourage equity participation in public utilities by the general public. The participation of foreign investors in the governing body of any public utility enterprise shall be limited to their proportionate share in its capital, and all the executive and managing officers of such corporation or association must be citizens of the Philippines. (Emphasis supplied)

Any citizen or juridical entity desiring to operate a public utility must therefore meet the minimum nationality requirement prescribed in Section 11, Article XII of the Constitution. Hence, for a corporation to be granted authority to operate a public utility, at least 60 percent of its capital must be owned by Filipino citizens.

Thus, the 40% foreign ownership limitation should be interpreted to apply to both the beneficial ownership and the controlling interest.

Clearly, therefore, the forty percent (40%) foreign equity limitation in public utilities prescribed by the Constitution refers to ownership of shares of stock entitled to vote, i.e., common shares. Furthermore, ownership of record of shares will not suffice but it must be shown that the legal and beneficial ownership rests in the hands of Filipino citizens. Consequently, in the case of petitioner PLDT, since it is already admitted that the voting interests of foreigners which would gain entry to petitioner PLDT by the acquisition of SMART shares through the Questioned Transactions is equivalent to 82.99%, and the nominee arrangements between the foreign principals and the Filipino owners is likewise admitted, there is, therefore, a violation of Section 11, Article XII of the Constitution.

Indisputably, one of the rights of a stockholder is the right to participate in the control or management of the corporation. This is exercised through his vote in the election of directors because it is the board of directors that controls or manages the corporation. In the absence of provisions in the articles of incorporation denying voting rights to preferred shares, preferred shares have the same voting rights as common shares. However, preferred shareholders are often excluded from any control, that is, deprived of the right to vote in the election of directors and on other matters, on the theory that the preferred shareholders are merely investors in the corporation for income in the same manner as bondholders. In fact, under the Corporation Code only preferred or redeemable shares can be deprived of the right to vote. Common shares cannot be deprived of the right to vote in any corporate meeting, and any provision in the articles of incorporation restricting the right of common shareholders to vote is invalid.

Considering that common shares have voting rights which translate to control, as opposed to preferred shares which usually have no voting rights, the term capital in Section 11, Article XII of the Constitution refers only to common shares. However, if the preferred shares also have the right to vote in the election of directors, then the term capital shall include such preferred shares because the right to participate in the control or management of the corporation is exercised through the right to vote in the election of directors. In short, the term capital in Section 11, Article XII of the Constitution refers only to shares of stock that can vote in the election of directors.

This interpretation is consistent with the intent of the framers of the Constitution to place in the hands of Filipino citizens the control and management of public utilities.

As shown in PLDTs 2010 GIS, as submitted to the SEC, the par value of PLDT common shares is P5.00 per share, whereas the par value of preferred shares is P10.00 per share. In other words, preferred shares have twice the par value of common shares but cannot elect directors and have only 1/70 of the dividends of common shares. Moreover, 99.44% of the preferred shares are owned by Filipinos while foreigners own only a minuscule 0.56% of the preferred shares. Worse, preferred shares constitute 77.85% of the authorized capital stock of PLDT while common shares constitute only 22.15%.62 This undeniably shows that beneficial interest in PLDT is not with the non-voting preferred shares but with the common shares, blatantly violating the constitutional requirement of 60 percent Filipino control and Filipino beneficial ownership in a public utility.

Dela Cruz vs PPI (G.R. No. 158649 February 18, 2013)

Sps Dela Cruz vs Planters Products Inc.
G.R. No. 158649 February 18, 2013

Facts: Spouses Quirino V. Dela Cruz and Gloria Dela Cruz, petitioners herein, operated the Barangay Agricultural Supply, an agricultural supply store in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija engaged in the distribution and sale of fertilizers and agricultural chemical products, among others. At the time material to the case, Quirino, a lawyer, was the Municipal Mayor of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. On March 23, 1978, Gloria applied for and was granted by respondent Planters Products, Inc. (PPI) a regular credit line of P200,000.00 for a 60-day term, with trust receipts as collaterals. Quirino and Gloria submitted a list of their assets in support of her credit application for participation in the Special Credit Scheme (SCS) of PPI. On August 28, 1978, Gloria signed in the presence of the PPI distribution officer/assistant sales representative two documents labelled “Trust Receipt/Special Credit Scheme,” indicating the invoice number, quantity, value, and names of the agricultural inputs (i.e., fertilizer or agricultural chemicals) she received “upon the trust” of PPI. Gloria thereby subscribed to specific undertakings.

Issue: Whether or not Gloria can be held liable on the basis of the signed Trust receipt/SCS.

Held: Yes. To be clear, the obligation assumed by Gloria under the Trust Receipt/SCS involved “the execution of a Trust Agreement by the farmer-participants” in her favor, which, in turn, she would assign “in favor of PPI with recourse” in case of delivery and sale to the farmer-participants. The term recourse as thus used means “resort to a person who is secondarily liable after the default of the person who is primarily liable.” An indorsement “with recourse” of a note, for instance, makes the indorser a general indorser, because the indorsement is without qualification. Accordingly, the term with recourse confirms the obligation of a general indorser, who has the same liability as the original obligor. As the assignor “with recourse” of the Trust Agreement executed by the farmer participating in the SCS, therefore, Gloria made herself directly liable to PPI for the value of the inputs delivered to the farmer-participants. Obviously, the signature of the representative of PPI found in the demand letters Gloria sent to the farmer-participants only indicated that the Trust Agreement was part of the SCS of PPI.

The petitioners could not validly justify the non-compliance by Gloria with her obligations under the Trust Receipt/SCS by citing the loss of the farm outputs due to typhoon Kading. There is no question that she had expressly agreed that her liability would not be extinguished by the destruction or damage of the crops. The use of the term with recourse was, in fact, consonant with the provision of the Trust Receipt/SCS stating that if Gloria could not deliver or serve “all the inputs” to the farmer-participants within 60 days, she agreed that “the undelivered inputs will be charged” to her “regular credit line.” Under her arrangement with PPI, the trust receipts were mere securities for the credit line granted by PPI, having in fact indicated in her application for the credit line that the trust receipts were “collaterals” or separate obligations “attached to any other contract to guaranty its performance.

Diaz vs People (G.R. No. 180677 February 18, 2013)

Diaz vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 180677 February 18, 2013

Facts: Levi Strauss Philippines, Inc. (Levi’s Philippines) is a licensee of Levi’s. After receiving information that Diaz was selling counterfeit LEVI’S 501 jeans in his tailoring shops in Almanza and Talon, Las Piñas City, Levi’s Philippines hired a private investigation group to verify the information. Surveillance and the purchase of jeans from the tailoring shops of Diaz established that the jeans bought from the tailoring shops of Diaz were counterfeit or imitations of LEVI’S 501. Levi’s Philippines then sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for purposes of applying for a search warrant against Diaz to be served at his tailoring shops. The search warrants were issued in due course. Armed with the search warrants, NBI agents searched the tailoring shops of Diaz and seized several fake LEVI’S 501 jeans from them. Levi’s Philippines claimed that it did not authorize the making and selling of the seized jeans; that each of the jeans were mere imitations of genuine LEVI’S 501 jeans by each of them bearing the registered trademarks, like the arcuate design, the tab, and the leather patch; and that the seized jeans could be mistaken for original LEVI’S 501 jeans due to the placement of the arcuate, tab, and two-horse leather patch. Diaz stated that he did not manufacture Levi’s jeans, and that he used the label “LS Jeans Tailoring” in the jeans that he made and sold; that the label “LS Jeans Tailoring” was registered with the Intellectual Property Office; that his shops received clothes for sewing or repair; that his shops offered made-to-order jeans, whose styles or designs were done in accordance with instructions of the customers; that since the time his shops began operating in 1992, he had received no notice or warning regarding his operations; that the jeans he produced were easily recognizable because the label “LS Jeans Tailoring,” and the names of the customers were placed inside the pockets, and each of the jeans had an “LSJT” red tab; that “LS” stood for “Latest Style;” and that the leather patch on his jeans had two buffaloes, not two horses.

Issue: Whether or not Diaz is liable for trademark infringement.

Held: No. Section 155 of R.A. No. 8293 defines the acts that constitute infringement of trademark, viz:

Remedies; Infringement. — Any person who shall, without the consent of the owner of the registered mark:

155.1.  Use in commerce any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of a registered mark or the same container or a dominant feature thereof in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, advertising of any goods or services including other preparatory steps necessary to carry out the sale of any goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive; or

155.2.  Reproduce, counterfeit, copy or colorably imitate a registered mark or a dominant feature thereof and apply such reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation to labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles or advertisements intended to be used in commerce upon or in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive, shall be liable in a civil action for infringement by the registrant for the remedies hereinafter set forth: Provided, That the infringement takes place at the moment any of the acts stated in Subsection 155.1 or this subsection are committed regardless of whether there is actual sale of goods or services using the infringing material.

The elements of the offense of trademark infringement under the Intellectual Property Code are, therefore, the following:

  • The trademark being infringed is registered in the Intellectual Property Office;
  • The trademark is reproduced, counterfeited, copied, or colorably imitated by the infringer;
  • The infringing mark is used in connection with the sale, offering for sale, or advertising of any goods, business or services; or the infringing mark is applied to labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles or advertisements intended to be used upon or in connection with such goods, business or services;
  • The use or application of the infringing mark is likely to cause confusion or mistake or to deceive purchasers or others as to the goods or services themselves or as to the source or origin of such goods or services or the identity of such business; and
  • The use or application of the infringing mark is without the consent of the trademark owner or the assignee thereof.

As can be seen, the likelihood of confusion is the gravamen of the offense of trademark infringement. There are two tests to determine likelihood of confusion, namely: the dominancy test, and the holistic test. The contrasting concept of these tests was explained in Societes Des Produits Nestle, S.A. v. Dy, Jr., thus:

x x x. The dominancy test focuses on the similarity of the main, prevalent or essential features of the competing trademarks that might cause confusion. Infringement takes place when the competing   trademark contains the essential features of another.  Imitation or an effort to imitate is unnecessary.  The question is whether the use of the marks is likely to cause confusion or deceive purchasers.

The holistic test considers the entirety of the marks, including labels and packaging, in determining confusing similarity.  The focus is not only on the predominant words but also on the other features appearing on the labels.

The holistic test is applicable here considering that the herein criminal cases also involved trademark infringement in relation to jeans products. Accordingly, the jeans trademarks of Levi’s Philippines and Diaz must be considered as a whole in determining the likelihood of confusion between them. The maong pants or jeans made and sold by Levi’s Philippines, which included LEVI’S 501, were very popular in the Philippines. The consuming public knew that the original LEVI’S 501 jeans were under a foreign brand and quite expensive. Such jeans could be purchased only in malls or boutiques as ready-to-wear items, and were not available in tailoring shops like those of Diaz’s as well as not acquired on a “made-to-order” basis. Under the circumstances, the consuming public could easily discern if the jeans were original or fake LEVI’S 501, or were manufactured by other brands of jeans.

Given the foregoing, it should be plain that there was no likelihood of confusion between the trademarks involved. Thereby, the evidence of guilt did not satisfy the quantum of proof required for a criminal conviction, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt. According to Section 2, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of proof as, excluding possibility of error, produces absolute certainty.  Moral certainty only is required, or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. Consequently, Diaz should be acquitted of the charges.

Sps Delos Santos vs Metrobank (GR No. G.R. No. 153852 October 24, 2012)

Sps Delos Santos vs Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company
G.R. No. 153852 October 24, 2012

Facts: From December 9, 1996 until March 20, 1998, the petitioners took out several loans totaling P12,000,000.00 from Metrobank, Davao City Branch, the proceeds of which they would use in constructing a hotel on their 305-square-meter parcel of land located in Davao City and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. I-218079 of the Registry of Deeds of Davao City. They executed various promissory notes covering the loans, and constituted a mortgage over their parcel of land to secure the performance of their obligation. The stipulated interest rates were 15.75% per annum for the long term loans (maturing on December 9, 2006) and 22.204% per annum for a short term loan of P4,400,000.00 (maturing on March 12, 1999). The interest rates were fixed for the first year, subject to escalation or de-escalation in certain events without advance notice to them. The loan agreements further stipulated that the entire amount of the loans would become due and demandable upon default in the payment of any installment, interest or other charges. On December 27, 1999, Metrobank sought the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage after the petitioners defaulted in their installment payments. The petitioners were notified of the foreclosure and of the forced sale being scheduled on March 7, 2000. The notice of the sale stated that the total amount of the obligation was P16,414,801.36 as of October 26, 1999. On April 4, 2000, prior to the scheduled foreclosure sale (i.e., the original date of March 7, 2000 having been meanwhile reset to April 6, 2000), the petitioners filed in the RTC a complaint (later amended) for damages, fixing of interest rate, and application of excess payments (with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction). They alleged therein that Metrobank had no right to foreclose the mortgage because they were not in default of their obligations; that Metrobank had imposed interest rates (i.e., 15.75% per annum for two long-term loans and 22.204% per annum for the short term loan) on three of their loans that were different from the rate of 14.75% per annum agreed upon; that Metrobank had increased the interest rates on some of their loans without any basis by invoking the escalation clause written in the loan agreement; that they had paid P2,561,557.87 instead of only P1,802,867.00 based on the stipulated interest rates, resulting in their excess payment of P758,690.87 as interest, which should then be applied to their accrued obligation; that they had requested the reduction of the escalated interest rates on several occasions because of its damaging effect on their hotel business, but Metrobank had denied their request; and that they were not yet in default because the long-term loans would become due and demandable on December 9, 2006 yet and they had been paying interest on the short-term loan in advance.

Issue: Whether or not injunction may issue pending extrajudicial foreclosure.

Held: Yes. No writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin an impending extrajudicial foreclosure sale should issue except upon a clear showing of a violation of the mortgagors’ unmistakable right to the injunction.

Injunction will not protect contingent, abstract or future rights whose existence is doubtful or disputed. Indeed, there must exist an actual right, because injunction will not be issued to protect a right not in esse and which may never arise, or to restrain an act which does not give rise to a cause of action. At any rate, an application for injunctive relief is strictly construed against the pleader.

Nor do we discern any substantial controversy that had any real bearing on Metrobank’s right to foreclose the mortgage. The mere possibility that the RTC would rule in the end in the petitioners’ favor by lowering the interest rates and directing the application of the excess payments to the accrued principal and interest did not diminish the fact that when Metrobank filed its application for extrajudicial foreclosure they were already in default as to their obligations and that their short-term loan of P4,400,000.00 had already matured. Under such circumstances, their application for the writ of preliminary injunction could not but be viewed as a futile attempt to deter or delay the forced sale of their property.

Escalation clauses are valid and do not contravene public policy. These clauses are common in credit agreements as means of maintaining fiscal stability and retaining the value of money on long-term contracts. To avoid any resulting one sided situation that escalation clauses may bring, we required in Banco Filipino the inclusion in the parties’ agreement of a de-escalation clause that would authorize a reduction in the interest rates corresponding to downward changes made by law or by the Monetary Board.

The validity of escalation clauses notwithstanding, we cautioned that these clauses do not give creditors the unbridled right to adjust interest rates unilaterally. As we said in the same Banco Filipino case, any increase in the rate of interest made pursuant to an escalation clause must be the result of an agreement between the parties. The minds of all the parties must meet on the proposed modification as this modification affects an important aspect of the agreement. There can be no contract in the true sense in the absence of the element of an agreement, i.e., the parties’ mutual consent. Thus, any change must be mutually agreed upon, otherwise, the change carries no binding effect. A stipulation on the validity or compliance with the contract that is left solely to the will of one of the parties is void; the stipulation goes against the principle of mutuality of contract under Article 1308 of the Civil Code.

As with all equitable remedies, injunction must be issued only at the instance of a party who possesses sufficient interest in or title to the right or the property sought to be protected. It is proper only when the applicant appears to be entitled to the relief demanded in the complaint, which must aver the existence of the right and the violation of the right, or whose averments must in the minimum constitute a prima facie showing of a right to the final relief sought. Accordingly, the conditions for the issuance of the injunctive writ are: (a) that the right to be protected exists prima facie; (b) that the act sought to be enjoined is violative of that right; and (c) that there is an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to prevent serious damage. An injunction will not issue to protect a right not in esse, or a right which is merely contingent and may never arise; or to restrain an act which does not give rise to a cause of action; or to prevent the perpetration of an act prohibited by statute. Indeed, a right, to be protected by injunction, means a right clearly founded on or granted by law or is enforceable as a matter of law.