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

Duncano vs Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 191894 July 15, 2015
 
Facts: Petitioner Danilo A. Duncano is, at the time material to the case, the Regional Director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) with Salary Grade 26 as classified under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6758. On March 24, 2009, the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), Office of the Ombudsman, filed a criminal case against him for violation of Section 8, in relation to Section 11 of R.A. No. 6713, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about April 15, 2003, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Quezon City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused DANILO DUNCANO y ACIDO, a high ranking public officer, being the Regional Director of Revenue Region No. 7, of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Quezon City, and as such is under an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth and financial and business interests, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally fail to disclose in his Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth (SALN) for the year 2002, his financial and business interests/connection in Documail Provides Corporation and Don Plus Trading of which he and his family are the registered owners thereof, and the 1993 Nissan Patrol motor vehicle registered in the name of his son VINCENT LOUIS P. DUNCANO which are part of his assets, to the damage and prejudice of public interest.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Issue: Whether or not the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the petitioner.
Held: No. The creation of the Sandiganbayan was mandated by Section 5, Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution. By virtue of the powers vested in him by the Constitution and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21, 1972, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued P.D. No. 1486. The decree was later amended by P.D. No. 1606, Section 20 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, P.D. No. 1860, and P.D. No. 1861. 
With the advent of the 1987 Constitution, the special court was retained as provided for in Section 4, Article XI thereof. Aside from Executive Order Nos. 14 and 14-a, and R.A. 7080, which expanded the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, P.D. No. 1606 was further modified by R.A. No. 7975, R.A. No. 8249, and just this year, R.A. No. 10660.
For the purpose of this case, the relevant provision is Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, which states: SEC. 4. Section 4 of the same decree is hereby further amended to read as follows: 
“SEC. 4. Jurisdiction.– The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: 
“A. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense: 
“(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including: 
“(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads; 
“(b) City mayor, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; 
“(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher; 
“(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank; 
“(e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintendent or higher; 
“(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor; 
“(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. 
“(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade 27 and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989; 
“(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; 
“(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commission, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and 
“(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. 
“B. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office. 
“C. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. 
Yet, those that are classified as Salary Grade 26 and below may still fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, provided that they hold the positions enumerated by the law. In this category, it is the position held, not the salary grade, which determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The specific inclusion constitutes an exception to the general qualification relating to “officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.”38 As ruled in Inding: 
Following this disquisition, the paragraph of Section 4 which provides that if the accused is occupying a position lower than SG 27, the proper trial court has jurisdiction, can only be properly interpreted as applying to those cases where the principal accused is occupying a position lower than SG 27 and not among those specifically included in the enumeration in Section 4 a. (1) (a) to (g). Stated otherwise, except for those officials specifically included in Section 4 a. (1) (a) to (g), regardless of their salary grades, over whom the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction, all other public officials below SG 27 shall be under the jurisdiction of the proper trial courts “where none of the principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to SG 27 or higher.” By this construction, the entire Section 4 is given effect. The cardinal rule, after all, in statutory construction is that the particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part of the statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole. And courts should adopt a construction that will give effect to every part of a statute, if at all possible. Ut magis valeat quam pereat or that construction is to be sought which gives effect to the whole of the statute – its every word.
The Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over violations of Section 3(a) and (e), Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, unless committed by public officials and employees occupying positions of regional director and higher with Salary Grade “27” or higher, under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758) in relation to their office. 
In ruling in favor of its jurisdiction, even though petitioner admittedly occupied the position of Director II with Salary Grade “26” under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), the Sandiganbayan incurred in serious error of jurisdiction, and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in suspending petitioner from office, entitling petitioner to the reliefs prayed for.
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SICI vs Cuenca (G.R. No. 173297 March 6, 2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dare Adventure Farm Corp vs CA (G.R. No. 161122 September 24, 2012)

Dare Adventure Farm Corporation vs CA
G.R. No. 161122 September 24, 2012

Facts: The petitioner acquired a parcel of land with an area of 65,100 square meters situated in San Roque, Lilo-an, Metro Cebu known as lot 7531-part (the property) through a deed of absolute sale executed on July 28, 1994 between the petitioner, as vendee, and Agripina R. Goc-ong (a respondent herein), Porferio Goc-ong, Diosdado Goc-ong, Crisostomo Goc-ong, Tranquilino Goc-ong, Naciancena Goc-ong and Avelino Goc-ong (collectively, the Goc-ongs), as vendors. The petitioner later on discovered the joint affidavit executed on June 19, 1990 by the Goc-ongs, whereby the Goc-ongs declared that they were the owners of the property, and that they were mortgaging the property to Felix Ng, married to Nenita N. Ng, and Martin T. Ng, married to Azucena S. Ng (collectively, the Ngs) to secure their obligation amounting to P 648,000.00, subject to the condition that should they not pay the stipulated 36-monthly installments, the Ngs would automatically become the owners of the property. With the Goc-ongs apparently failing to pay their obligation to the Ngs as stipulated, the latter brought on January 16, 1997 a complaint for the recovery of a sum of money, or, in the alternative, for the foreclosure of mortgage in the Regional Trial Court, Branch 56, in Mandaue City (RTC) only against respondent Agripina R. Goc-ong.4 The action was docketed as Civil Case No. MAN-2838.

Issue: Whether or not annulment of judgement if the proper remedy for the petitioner.

Held: No. A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so exceptional in nature that it may be availed of only when other remedies are wanting, and only if the judgment, final order or final resolution sought to be annulled was rendered by a court lacking jurisdiction or through extrinsic fraud. Yet, the remedy, being exceptional in character, is not allowed to be so easily and readily abused by parties aggrieved by the final judgments, orders or resolutions. The Court has thus instituted safeguards by limiting the grounds for the annulment to lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud, and by prescribing in Section 1 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court that the petitioner should show that the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner. A petition for annulment that ignores or disregards any of the safeguards cannot prosper.

It is elementary that a judgment of a court is conclusive and binding only upon the parties and those who are their successors in interest by title after the commencement of the action in court.

Section 47(b) of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court explicitly so provides, to wit:

Section 47. Effect of judgments or final orders —The effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a court of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or final order, may be as follows:

xxx

(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity;

xxx

The principle that a person cannot be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an action or proceeding in which he has not been made a party conforms to the constitutional guarantee of due process of law. The operation of this principle was illustrated in Muñoz v. Yabut, Jr., where the Court declared that a person not impleaded and given the opportunity to take part in the proceedings was not bound by the decision declaring as null and void the title from which his title to the property had been derived. We said there that the effect of a judgment could not be extended to non-parties by simply issuing an alias writ of execution against them, for no man should be prejudiced by any proceeding to which he was a stranger. In the same manner, a writ of execution could be issued only against a party, not against a person who did not have his day in court.

Moreover, Section 1 of Rule 47 extends the remedy of annulment only to a party in whose favor the remedies of new trial, reconsideration, appeal, and petition for relief from judgment are no longer available through no fault of said party. As such, the petitioner, being a non-party in Civil Case No. MAN-2838, could not bring the action for annulment of judgment due to unavailability to it of the remedies of new trial, reconsideration, appeal, or setting the judgment aside through a petition for relief.