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

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

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

Issue: Whether or not the default judgement is valid.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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. 

Macasaet vs Co (G.R. No. 156759 June 5, 2013)

Macasaet etal vs Co
G.R. No. 156759 June 5, 2013

Facts: On July 3, 2000, respondent, a retired police officer assigned at the Western Police District in Manila, sued Abante Tonite, a daily tabloid of general circulation; its Publisher Allen A. Macasaet; its Managing Director Nicolas V. Quijano; its Circulation Manager Isaias Albano; its Editors Janet Bay, Jesus R. Galang and Randy Hagos; and its Columnist/Reporter Lily Reyes (petitioners), claiming damages because of an allegedly libelous article petitioners published in the June 6, 2000 issue of Abante Tonite. The suit, docketed as Civil Case No. 0097907, was raffled to Branch 51 of the RTC, which in due course issued summons to be served on each defendant, including Abante Tonite, at their business address at Monica Publishing Corporation, 301-305 3rd Floor, BF Condominium Building, Solana Street corner A. Soriano Street, Intramuros, Manila. In the morning of September 18, 2000, RTC Sheriff Raul Medina proceeded to the stated address to effect the personal service of the summons on the defendants. But his efforts to personally serve each defendant in the address were futile because the defendants were then out of the office and unavailable. He returned in the afternoon of that day to make a second attempt at serving the summons, but he was informed that petitioners were still out of the office. He decided to resort to substituted service of the summons, and explained why in his sheriff’s return dated September 22, 2005.

Issue: Whether or not jurisdiction over the petitioners have been acquired.

Held: Yes. Jurisdiction over the person, or jurisdiction in personam –the power of the court to render a personal judgment or to subject the parties in a particular action to the judgment and other rulings rendered in the action – is an element of due process that is essential in all actions, civil as well as criminal, except in actions in rem or quasi in rem. Jurisdiction over the defendant in an action in rem or quasi in rem is not required, and the court acquires jurisdiction over an action as long as it acquires jurisdiction over the res that is the subject matter of the action. The purpose of summons in such action is not the acquisition of jurisdiction over the defendant but mainly to satisfy the constitutional requirement of due process.

The distinctions that need to be perceived between an action in personam, on the one hand, and an action in rem or quasi in rem, on the other hand, are aptly delineated in Domagas v. Jensen, thusly:

The settled rule is that the aim and object of an action determine its character. Whether a proceeding is in rem, or in personam, or quasi in rem for that matter, is determined by its nature and purpose, and by these only. A proceeding in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights and obligations brought against the person and is based on the jurisdiction of the person, although it may involve his right to, or the exercise of ownership of, specific property, or seek to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the mandate of the court. The purpose of a proceeding in personam is to impose, through the judgment of a court, some responsibility or liability directly upon the person of the defendant. Of this character are suits to compel a defendant to specifically perform some act or actions to fasten a pecuniary liability on him. An action in personam is said to be one which has for its object a judgment against the person, as distinguished from a judgment against the property to determine its state. It has been held that an action in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights or obligations; such action is brought against the person. As far as suits for injunctive relief are concerned, it is well-settled that it is an injunctive act in personam. In Combs v. Combs, the appellate court held that proceedings to enforce personal rights and obligations and in which personal judgments are rendered adjusting the rights and obligations between the affected parties is in personam. Actions for recovery of real property are in personam.

On the other hand, a proceeding quasi in rem is one brought against persons seeking to subject the property of such persons to the discharge of the claims assailed. In an action quasi in rem, an individual is named as defendant and the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interests therein to the obligation or loan burdening the property. Actions quasi in rem deal with the status, ownership or liability of a particular property but which are intended to operate on these questions only as between the particular parties to the proceedings and not to ascertain or cut off the rights or interests of all possible claimants. The judgments therein are binding only upon the parties who joined in the action.

As a rule, Philippine courts cannot try any case against a defendant who does not reside and is not found in the Philippines because of the impossibility of acquiring jurisdiction over his person unless he voluntarily appears in court; but when the case is an action in rem or quasi in rem enumerated in Section 15, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, Philippine courts have jurisdiction to hear and decide the case because they have jurisdiction over the res, and jurisdiction over the person of the non-resident defendant is not essential. In the latter instance, extraterritorial service of summons can be made upon the defendant, and such extraterritorial service of summons is not for the purpose of vesting the court with jurisdiction, but for the purpose of complying with the requirements of fair play or due process, so that the defendant will be informed of the pendency of the action against him and the possibility that property in the Philippines belonging to him or in which he has an interest may be subjected to a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, and he can thereby take steps to protect his interest if he is so minded. On the other hand, when the defendant in an action in personam does not reside and is not found in the Philippines, our courts cannot try the case against him because of the impossibility of acquiring jurisdiction over his person unless he voluntarily appears in court.

As the initiating party, the plaintiff in a civil action voluntarily submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court by the act of filing the initiatory pleading. As to the defendant, the court acquires jurisdiction over his person either by the proper service of the summons, or by a voluntary appearance in the action.

The significance of the proper service of the summons on the defendant in an action in personam cannot be overemphasized. The service of the summons fulfills two fundamental objectives, namely: (a) to vest in the court jurisdiction over the person of the defendant; and (b) to afford to the defendant the opportunity to be heard on the claim brought against him. As to the former, when jurisdiction in personam is not acquired in a civil action through the proper service of the summons or upon a valid waiver of such proper service, the ensuing trial and judgment are void. If the defendant knowingly does an act inconsistent with the right to object to the lack of personal jurisdiction as to him, like voluntarily appearing in the action, he is deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. As to the latter, the essence of due process lies in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit any evidence the defendant may have in support of his defense. With the proper service of the summons being intended to afford to him the opportunity to be heard on the claim against him, he may also waive the process. In other words, compliance with the rules regarding the service of the summons is as much an issue of due process as it is of jurisdiction.

Under the Rules of Court, the service of the summons should firstly be effected on the defendant himself whenever practicable. Such personal service consists either in handing a copy of the summons to the defendant in person, or, if the defendant refuses to receive and sign for it, in tendering it to him. The rule on personal service is to be rigidly enforced in order to ensure the realization of the two fundamental objectives earlier mentioned. If, for justifiable reasons, the defendant cannot be served in person within a reasonable time, the service of the summons may then be effected either (a) by leaving a copy of the summons at his residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copy at his office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof. The latter mode of service is known as substituted service because the service of the summons on the defendant is made through his substitute.

There is no question that Sheriff Medina twice attempted to serve the summons upon each of petitioners in person at their office address, the first in the morning of September 18, 2000 and the second in the afternoon of the same date. Each attempt failed because Macasaet and Quijano were “always out and not available” and the other petitioners were “always roving outside and gathering news.” After Medina learned from those present in the office address on his second attempt that there was no likelihood of any of petitioners going to the office during the business hours of that or any other day, he concluded that further attempts to serve them in person within a reasonable time would be futile. The circumstances fully warranted his conclusion. He was not expected or required as the serving officer to effect personal service by all means and at all times, considering that he was expressly authorized to resort to substituted service should he be unable to effect the personal service within a reasonable time. In that regard, what was a reasonable time was dependent on the circumstances obtaining. While we are strict in insisting on personal service on the defendant, we do not cling to such strictness should the circumstances already justify substituted service instead. It is the spirit of the procedural rules, not their letter, that governs.