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Marantan vs Diokno (G.R. No. 205956 February 12, 2014)

Marantan vs Diokno
G.R. No. 205956 February 12, 2014
 
Facts: Petitioner P/Supt. Hansel M. Marantan (Marantan) is the respondent in G.R. No. 199462, a petition filed on December 6, 2011, but already dismissed although the disposition is not yet final. Respondent Monique Cu-Unjieng La’O (La ‘O) is one of the petitioners in the said case, while respondent Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno (Atty. Diokno) is her counsel therein. G.R. No. 199462 relates to Criminal Case Nos. 146413-PSG, 146414-PSG and 146415-PSG, entitled “People of the Philippines v. P/SINSP Hansel M. Marantan, et al.,” pending before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 265 (RTC), where Marantan and his co-accused are charged with homicide. The criminal cases involve an incident which transpired on November 7, 2005, where Anton Cu-Unjieng (son of respondent La‘O), Francis Xavier Manzano, and Brian Anthony Dulay, were shot and killed by police officers in front of the AIC Gold Tower at Ortigas Center, which incident was captured by a television crew from UNTV 37 (Ortigas incident). In G.R. No. 199462, La‘O, together with the other petitioners, prayed, among others, that the resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman downgrading the charges from murder to homicide be annulled and set aside; that the corresponding informations for homicide be withdrawn; and that charges for murder be filed. In the meantime, on January 6, 2013, a shooting incident occurred in Barangay Lumutan, Municipality of Atimonan, Province of Quezon, where Marantan was the ground commander in a police-military team, which resulted in the death of thirteen (13) men (Atimonan incident). This encounter, according to Marantan, elicited much negative publicity for him. Marantan alleges that, riding on the unpopularity of the Atimonan incident, La‘O and her counsel, Atty. Diokno, and one Ernesto Manzano, organized and conducted a televised/radio broadcasted press conference. During the press conference, they maliciously made intemperate and unreasonable comments on the conduct of the Court in handling G.R. No. 199462, as well as contumacious comments on the merits of the criminal cases before the RTC, branding Marantan and his coaccused guilty of murder in the Ortigas incident. 
Issue: Whether or not the petition for contempt is meritorious.
Held: No. The sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to the judicial proceedings in order to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice. A violation of this rule may render one liable for indirect contempt under Sec. 3(d), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court,4 which reads: 
Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. – x x x a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt: x x x 
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice.
The proceedings for punishment of indirect contempt are criminal in nature. This form of contempt is conduct that is directed against the dignity and authority of the court or a judge acting judicially; it is an act obstructing the administration of justice which tends to bring the court into disrepute or disrespect. Intent is a necessary element in criminal contempt, and no one can be punished for a criminal contempt unless the evidence makes it clear that he intended to commit it.
For a comment to be considered as contempt of court “it must really appear” that such does impede, interfere with and embarrass the administration of justice. What is, thus, sought to be protected is the all-important duty of the court to administer justice in the decision of a pending case. The specific rationale for the sub judice rule is that courts, in the decision of issues of fact and law should be immune from every extraneous influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court; and that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies.
The power of contempt is inherent in all courts in order to allow them to conduct their business unhampered by publications and comments which tend to impair the impartiality of their decisions or otherwise obstruct the administration of justice. As important as the maintenance of freedom of speech, is the maintenance of the independence of the Judiciary. The “clear and present danger” rule may serve as an aid in determining the proper constitutional boundary between these two rights.
The “clear and present danger” rule means that the evil consequence of the comment must be “extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high” before an utterance can be punished. There must exist a clear and present danger that the utterance will harm the administration of justice. Freedom of speech should not be impaired through the exercise of the power of contempt of court unless there is no doubt that the utterances in question make a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice. It must constitute an imminent, not merely a likely, threat.
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Diaz vs Sps Punzalan (G.R. No. 203075, March 16, 2016)

Diaz vs Spouses Punzalan
G.R. No. 203075, March 16, 2016
Facts: Petitioners alleged that their mother, Rufina Vda. de Catacutan, who died on November 17, 2005, had acquired a parcel of land in Mapanique, Candaba, Pampanga, consisting of 3,272 square meters, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3169. They contend that respondents spouses Gaudencio and Teresita Punzalan (Spouses Punzalan) constructed their house on a portion of said lot without their consent and knowledge. But petitioners allowed them to stay, thinking that they would vacate once their need for the property arises. However, when they made a demand, the Spouses Punzalan refused to vacate. Thus; on April 9, 2008, petitioners wrote the spouses a formal demand letter to vacate. Still, they refused to leave the property. On August 22, 2008, petitioners filed a Complaint for unlawful detainer with the MCTC of Sta. Ana-Candaba, Pampanga. 
MCTC rendered a decision in favor of the plaintiffs.
RTC affirmed the MCTC decision.
CA reversed the decision of the RTC and held that MCTC lacks jurisdiction.
Issues: Whether or not the remedy of petitioners for an unlawful detainer is proper.
Whether or not the judgement rendered by the lower courts entitled the petitioners any right.
Held: No. Well settled is the rule that jurisdiction of the court in ejectment cases is determined by the allegations of the complaint and the character of the relief sought. The complaint should embody such statement of facts as to bring the party clearly within the class of cases under Section 1, Rule 70 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. 
SECTION 1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. – Subject to the provisions of the next succeeding section, a person deprived of the possession of any land or building by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth, or a lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right to hold possession, by virtue of any contract, express or implied, or the legal representatives or assigns of any such lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person, may, at any time within one (1) year after such unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession, bring an action in the proper Municipal Trial Court against the person or persons unlawfully withholding or depriving of possession, or any person or persons claiming under them, for the restitution of such possession, together with damages and costs. 
Under the aforequoted rule, there are two (2) entirely distinct and different causes of action, to wit: (1) a case for forcible entry, which is an action to recover possession of a property from the defendant whose occupation thereof is illegal from the beginning as he acquired possession by fierce, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth; and (2) a case for unlawful detainer, which is an action for recovery of possession from the defendant whose possession of the property was lawful at the inception by virtue of a contract with the plaintiff, be it express or implied, but subsequently became illegal when he continued his possession despite the termination of his right or authority.
A complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action for unlawful detainer if it recites the following:
(1) the defendant’s initial possession of the property was lawful, either by contract with or by tolerance of the plaintiff;
(2) eventually, such possession became illegal upon the plaintiffs notice to the defendant of the termination of the latter’s right of possession;
(3) thereafter, the defendant remained in possession and deprived the plaintiff of the enjoyment of the property; and
(4) the plaintiff instituted the complaint for ejectment within one (1) year from the last demand to vacate the property.
On the other hand, in an action for forcible entry, the following requisites are essential for the MTC to acquire jurisdiction over the case.:
(1) the plaintiff must allege prior physical possession of the property;
(2) the plaintiff was deprived of possession by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth; and
(3) the action must be filed within one (1) year from the date of actual entry on the land, except that when the entry is through stealth, the one (1)-year period is counted from the time the plaintiff-owner or legal possessor learned of the deprivation of the physical possession of the property.
It is not necessary, however, for the complaint to expressly use the exact language of the law. For as long as it is shown that^the dispossession took place under said conditions, it is considered as sufficient compliance with the requirements.
Contrary to petitioners’ contention that none of the means to effectuate forcible entry was alleged in the complaint, the Court finds that the allegations actually make up a case of forcible entry. They claimed in their Complaint that the Spouses Punzalan constructed their dwelling house on a portion of petitioners’ lot, without the latter’s prior consent and knowledge. This clearly falls under stealth, which is defined as any secret, sly or clandestine act to avoid discovery and to gain entrance into, or to remain within residence of another without permission. Here, the evidence clearly reveal that the spouses’ possession was illegal at the inception and not merely tolerated, considering that they started to occupy the subject lot and thereafter built a house on the same without the permission and consent of petitioners. The spouses’ entry into the land was, therefore, effected clandestinely, without the knowledge of the owners. Consequently, it is categorized as possession by stealth which is forcible entry.
The allegation that the Spouses Punzalan entered the subject property and constructed their house on a portion of the same without petitioners’ knowledge and consent is more consistent with an action for forcible entry, which should have been filed within a year from the discovery of said illegal entry. Instead, petitioners allowed them to stay, thinking that they would simply accede if asked to vacate the premises. Certainly, petitioners’ kind tolerance came, not from the inception, as required to constitute unlawful detainer, but only upon learning of the unlawful entry. 
No. Indeed, a void judgment for lack of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right neither can it be the creator of any obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. The same can never become final and any writ of execution based on it will be void.
Verily, to vest the court jurisdiction to effect the ejectment of an occupant, it is necessary that the complaint should embody such a statement of facts as brings the party clearly within the class of cases for which the statutes provide a remedy, as these proceedings are summary in nature. The complaint must show enough on its face to give the court jurisdiction without having to resort to parol testimony.
In the instant case, the allegations in the complaint do not contain any averment of fact that would substantiate petitioners’ claim that they permitted or tolerated the occupation of the property by the Spouses Punzalan right from the start. This failure of petitioners to allege the key jurisdictional facts constitutive of unlawful detainer is fatal. Since the complaint did not satisfy the jurisdictional requirement of a valid cause for unlawful detainer, the MCTC corollarily failed to acquire jurisdiction over the case.

CBSU vs Cam Sur (G.R. No. 210861July 29, 2015)

Central Bicol State University of Agriculture vs Province of Camarines Sur
G.R. No. 210861 July 29, 2015
 
Facts: Petitioner Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) is a government educational institution that primarily provides advanced instruction and research in agriculture and allied sciences. It was established under Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 198, as amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 9717. Under BP 198, then Camarines Sur Agricultural College in Pili, Camarines Sur was converted into a state college, known as Camarines Sur State Agricultural College. Thereafter, it was converted into what is now known as CBSUA under RA 9717. Section 17 of BP 198 granted several real properties to CBSUA. The foregoing grant was confirmed in Section 18 of RA 9717. Sometime in 1998, respondent Province of Camarines Sur (Province) sought the reconstitution of Origina Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 1029 registered in its name, which covered one of the parcels of land granted to CBSUA under the foregoing laws. By virtue thereof, OCT No. 1029 was reconstituted as OCT RO-917. Subsequently, the Province caused the subdivision of one of the lots covered by OCT RO-917 into two lots: Lot 3-P-1, with an area of 561,945 square meters, and Lot 3-P-2, with an area of 63,829 square meters. Lot 3-P-1 was thereafter covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 41093. Subsequently, or sometime in February 2011, armed personnel deployed by the Province allegedly forcibly entered a portion of Lot 3-P-1 (subject land) being occupied by CBSUA. The said armed personnel purportedly destroyed the fences and other structures erected thereon by CBSUA. As a result, the latter was prevented from further utilizing the subject land as pasture area for large cattle which, in turn, were being used for laboratory experiments by the students enrolled in its science and veterinary courses. CBSUA learned later on that the Province allocated the subject land for the housing project of respondent Gawad Kalinga Foundation, Inc. (GKFI) for rebel returnees. Hence, on April 12, 2011, CBSUA filed a complaint for recovery of ownership, possession and damages, with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction against the Province. In an Order dated May 12, 2011, the RTC denied CBSUA‘s application for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, finding that CBSUA failed to show that it had superior right over the subject land as against that of the Province. CBSUA‘s motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated October 10, 2011, a copy of which CBSUA received on October 17, 2011, which gave CBSUA sixty (60) days or until December 16, 2011 within which to assail the RTC‘s Orders via petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the CA. Unfortunately, due to time constraints in securing certified true copies of the RTC‘s Orders, as well as other pertinent documents, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), prosecuting this case on behalf of CBSUA, deemed it necessary and prudent to seek an additional period of ten (10) days from December 16, 2011 or until December 26, 2011 within which to file its petition for certiorari before the CA. On December 26, 2011, CBSUA filed its petition for certiorari(with prayer for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction) before the CA, ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC in denying its application for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction. The CA Ruling In a Resolution25 dated February 2, 2012, the CA denied CBSUA‘s motion for extension of time to file petition for certiorari, citing Section 4, paragraph 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as amended.
Issue: Whether or not there can be extension of time for the filing of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. 
Held: No. As a general rule, a petition for certiorari must be filed strictly within 60 days from notice of judgment or from the order denying a motion for reconsideration. This is in accordance with the amendment introduced by A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC where no provision for the filing of a motion for extension to file a petition for certiorari exists, unlike in the previous Section 4, Rule 6532 of the Rules of Court which allowed the filing of such a motion but only for compelling reasons and in no case exceeding 15 days.
Under exceptional cases, however, the Court has held that the 60-day period may be extended subject to the court‘s sound discretion.
Eventually, in Labao v. Flores, the Court laid down the following recognized exceptions to the strict observance of the 60-day reglementary period:
(1) most persuasive and weighty reasons;
(2) to relieve a litigant from an injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure;
(3) good faith of the defaulting party by immediately paying within a reasonable time from the time of the default;
(4) the existence of special or compelling circumstances;
(5) the merits of the case;
(6) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules;
(7) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory;
(8) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby;
(9) fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence without appellant‘s fault;
(10) peculiar legal and equitable circumstances attendant to each case;
(11) in the name of substantial justice and fair play;
(12) importance of the issues involved; and
(13) exercise of sound discretion by the judge guided by all the attendant circumstances.
Thus, there should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to advance a reasonable or meritorious explanation for his/her failure to comply with the rules.

Mejorado vs Abad (G.R. No. 214430, March 09, 2016 )

Mejorado vs Abad
G.R. No. 214430, March 09, 2016
 
Facts: Sometime in December 1996 and the early part of 1997, petitioner documented 62 smuggled oil importations from 1991 to 1997 of Union Refinery Corporation (URC), OILINK Industrial Corporation (OILINK), Union Global Trading (UGT), and Philippine Airlines (PAL). He provided confidential information detailing the illegal importations of the said companies to the now-defunct Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau of the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Based on the information petitioner furnished, the BOC investigated 23 out of the 62 smuggled oil importations he reported. The investigation resulted in the payment by the four (4) companies of millions in unpaid Value-Added Tax (VAT), excise, and ad valorem taxes from 1997 to 1998. Thus, petitioner filed his first claim for informer’s reward with the BOC and the Department of Finance (DOF). Subsequently, the BOC investigated 30 additional smuggled oil importations out of the 62 that petitioner reported. From this investigation, it was able to collect deficiency taxes from URC, OILINK, and PAL, prompting petitioner to file his second claim for informer’s fee on May 12, 2000. Records show that petitioner was able to receive the amount of P63,185,959.73 as informer’s fee for the first claim on April 19, 2006.
Issue: Whether or not a petition for mandamus under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure is the proper remedy for petitioner’s second claim on the informer’s reward.
Held: No. It is settled that mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, but not to compel the performance of a discretionary duty. Mandamus will not issue to enforce a right which is in substantial dispute or to which a substantial doubt exists. In Star Special Watchman and Detective Agency, Inc. v. Puerto Princesa City, a case cited at length by petitioner himself, the Court elucidated on the propriety of the issuance of the writ of mandamus in this wise: 
Mandamus is a command issuing from a court of law of competent jurisdiction, in the name of the state or the sovereign, directed to some inferior court, tribunal, or board, or to some corporation or person requiring the performance of a particular duty therein specified, which duty results from the official station of the party to whom the writ is directed or from operation of law. This definition recognizes the public character of the remedy, and clearly excludes the idea that it may be resorted to for the purpose of enforcing the performance of duties in which the public has no interest. The writ is a proper recourse for citizens who seek to enforce a public right and to compel the performance of a public duty, most especially when the public right involved is mandated by the Constitution. As the quoted provision instructs, mandamus will lie if the tribunal, corporation, board, officer, or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station. 
The writ of mandamus, however, will not issue to compel an official to do anything which is not his duty to do or which it is his duty not to do, or to give to the applicant anything to which he is not entitled by law. Nor will mandamus issue to enforce a right which is in substantial dispute or as to which a substantial doubt exists, although objection raising a mere technical question will be disregarded if the right is clear and the case is meritorious. As a rule, mandamus will not lie in the absence of any of the following grounds: [a] that the court, officer, board, or person against whom the action is taken unlawfully neglected the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from office, trust, or station; or [b] that such court, officer, board, or person has unlawfully excluded petitioner/relator from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which he is entitled. On the part of the relator, it is essential to the issuance of a writ of mandamus that he should have a clear legal right to the thing demanded and it must be the imperative duty of respondent to perform the act required. x x x x 
Moreover, an important principle followed in the issuance of the writ is that there should be no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law other than the remedy of mandamus being invoked. In other words, mandamus can be issued only in cases where the usual modes of procedure and forms of remedy are powerless to afford relief. Although classified as a legal remedy, mandamus is equitable in its nature and its issuance is generally controlled by equitable principles. Indeed, the grant of the writ of mandamus lies in the sound discretion of the court.
It bears reiteration that the writ of mandamus may only issue if the party claiming it has a well-defined, clear, and certain legal right to the thing demanded, and that it was the imperative duty of respondent to perform the act required to accord the same upon him. Petitioner’s prayer for the issuance of the NCA to cover the amount of his second claim falls short of this standard, there being no clear and specific duty on the part of the respondent to issue the same. 

Sps Campos vs Republic (G.R. No. 184371 March 5, 2014)

Spouses Campos vs Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 184371 March 5, 2014
 
Facts: On November 17, 2003, the petitioners applied for the registration of a 6,904 square meter-parcel of land situated in Baccuit, Bauang, La Union, particularly described as Lot No. 3876, Cad-474-D, Case 17, Bauang Cadastre. The petitioners bought the subject land from Roberto Laigo, as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale executed by the parties on July 26, 1990. On December 29, 2004, the MTC rendered a decision granting the petitioners‘ application for registration. The Republic appealed to the CA on the ground that the MTC erred in granting the petitioners‘ application for registration because of discrepancies in the area of the subject land as applied for and indicated in the tax declarations and the parties‘ deed of sale. Also, discrepancies in the description of the subject land appeared in the tax declarations, as the land was sometimes described as “swampy” and, in others, “sandy.” The CA, in its assailed April 30, 2007 decision, reversed and set aside the MTC‘s decision and dismissed the petitioners‘ application for registration of title. It ruled that, contrary to the MTC‘s findings, the evidence failed to prove the nature and duration of the petitioners‘ possession and that of their predecessors-in-interest; that the petitioners failed to prove that they and their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, notorious and adverse possession of Lot 3876 since June 12, 1945 or earlier. The CA further held that the petitioners failed to establish when the subject land became alienable; that while the DENRCENRO La Union certified that “Lot 3876 falls within the Alienable and Disposable land of the Public Domain as per Project No. 9, L.C. Map No. 3330 of Bauang Cadastre as certified on January 21, 1987,” such certification (as annotated in the lot‘s Advance Plan) was inadequate to prove that the subject land was classified as alienable and disposable on said date. Lastly, the CA noted the discrepancies in the area of the subject land indicated in the tax declarations and deed of sale presented by the petitioners, which put in doubt the lot‘s identity.
Issue: Whether or not the CA erred in ruling on issues not raised on appeal.
Held: No. Section 8, Rule 51 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure expressly provides: 
SEC. 8. Questions that may be decided. – No error which does not affect the jurisdiction over the subject matter or the validity of the judgment appealed from or the proceedings therein will be considered unless stated in the assignment of errors, or closely related to or dependent on an assigned error and properly argued in the brief, save as the court pass upon plain errors and clerical errors. 
The general rule that an assignment of error is essential to appellate review and only those errors assigned will be considered applies in the absence of certain exceptional circumstances. As exceptions to the rule, the Court has considered grounds not raised or assigned as errors in instances where: (1) grounds not assigned as errors but affecting jurisdiction over the subject matter; (2) matters not assigned as errors on appeal but are evidently plain or clerical errors within the contemplation of the law; (3) matters not assigned as errors on appeal, whose consideration is necessary in arriving at a just decision and complete resolution of the case or to serve the interest of justice or to avoid dispensing piecemeal justice; (4) matters not specifically assigned as errors on appeal but raised in the trial court and are matters of record having some bearing on the issue submitted which the parties failed to raise or which the lower court ignored; (5) matters not assigned as errors on appeal but are closely related to the assigned error/s; and (6) matters not assigned as errors on appeal, whose determination is necessary to rule on the question/s properly assigned as errors. The present case falls into the exceptions. 
No error by the CA in resolving the issues on the nature and duration of the petitioners‘ possession and on the alienable character of the subject land. These issues were apparently not raised by the Republic in its appeal before the CA, but are crucial in determining whether the petitioners have registrable title over the subject land. In Mendoza v. Bautista, the Court held that the appellate court reserves the right, resting on its public duty, to take cognizance of palpable error on the face of the record and proceedings, and to notice errors that are obvious upon inspection and are of a controlling character, in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice due to oversight.

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.

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.