Whether the motion for reconsideration raises any new matter or cogent reason to warrant a reconsideration of this Court’s Resolution of September 24, 2003.

Motion for Reconsideration

Three principal arguments were raised in the petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration. First, that a fair resolution of the case should be based on contract law, not on policy considerations; the contracts do not authorize the right to top to be derived from the right of first refusal. Second, that neither the right of first refusal nor the right to top can be legally exercised by the consortium which is not the proper party granted such right under either the JVA or the Asset Specific Bidding Rules (ASBR). Third, that the maintenance of the 60%-40% relationship between the National Investment and Development Corporation (NIDC) and KAWASAKI arises from contract and from the Constitution because PHILSECO is a landholding corporation and need not be a public utility to be bound by the 60%-40% constitutional limitation.

On the other hand, private respondent PHILYARDS asserts that J.G. Summit has not been able to show compelling reasons to warrant a reconsideration of the Decision of the Court. PHILYARDS denies that the Decision is based mainly on policy considerations and points out that it is premised on principles governing obligations and contracts and corporate law such as the rule requiring respect for contractual stipulations, upholding rights of first refusal, and recognizing the assignable nature of contracts rights. Also, the ruling that shipyards are not public utilities relies on established case law and fundamental rules of statutory construction. PHILYARDS stresses that KAWASAKI’s right of first refusal or even the right to top is not limited to the 40% equity of the latter. On the landholding issue raised by J.G. Summit, PHILYARDS emphasizes that this is a non-issue and even involves a question of fact. Even assuming that this Court can take cognizance of such question of fact even without the benefit of a trial, PHILYARDS opines that landholding by PHILSECO at the time of the bidding is irrelevant because what is essential is that ultimately a qualified entity would eventually hold PHILSECO’s real estate properties. Further, given the assignable nature of the right of first refusal, any applicable nationality restrictions, including landholding limitations, would not affect the right of first refusal itself, but only the manner of its exercise. Also, PHILYARDS argues that if this Court takes cognizance of J.G. Summit’s allegations of fact regarding PHILSECO’s landholding, it must also recognize PHILYARDS’ assertions that PHILSECO’s landholdings were sold to another corporation. As regards the right of first refusal, private respondent explains that KAWASAKI’s reduced shareholdings (from 40% to 2.59%) did not translate to a deprivation or loss of its contractually granted right of first refusal. Also, the bidding was valid because PHILYARDS exercised the right to top and it was of no moment that losing bidders later joined PHILYARDS in raising the purchase price.

In cadence with the private respondent PHILYARDS, public respondents COP and APT contend:

1. The conversion of the right of first refusal into a right to top by 5% does not violate any provision in the JVA between NIDC and KAWASAKI.

2. PHILSECO is not a public utility and therefore not governed by the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership.

3. The petitioner is legally estopped from assailing the validity of the proceedings of the public bidding as it voluntarily submitted itself to the terms of the ASBR which included the provision on the right to top.

4. The right to top was exercised by PHILYARDS as the nominee of KAWASAKI and the fact that PHILYARDS formed a consortium to raise the required amount to exercise the right to top the highest bid by 5% does not violate the JVA or the ASBR.

5. The 60%-40% Filipino-foreign constitutional requirement for the acquisition of lands does not apply to PHILSECO because as admitted by petitioner itself, PHILSECO no longer owns real property.

6. Petitioner’s motion to elevate the case to the Court en banc is baseless and would only delay the termination of this case.

In a Consolidated Comment dated March 8, 2004, J.G. Summit countered the arguments of the public and private respondents in this wise:

  1. The award by the APT of 87.67% shares of PHILSECO to PHILYARDS with losing bidders through the exercise of a right to top, which is contrary to law and the constitution is null and void for being violative of substantive due process and the abuse of right provision in the Civil Code.
  1. The bidders[’] right to top was actually exercised by losing bidders.
    1. The right to top or the right of first refusal cannot co-exist with a genuine competitive bidding.
    1. The benefits derived from the right to top were unwarranted.
  • The landholding issue has been a legitimate issue since the start of this case but is shamelessly ignored by the respondents.
  1. The landholding issue is not a non-issue.
    1. The landholding issue does not pose questions of fact.
    1. That PHILSECO owned land at the time that the right of first refusal was agreed upon and at the time of the bidding are most relevant.
    1. Whether a shipyard is a public utility is not the core issue in this case.
  • Fraud and bad faith attend the alleged conversion of an inexistent right of first refusal to the right to top.
  1. The history behind the birth of the right to top shows fraud and bad faith.
    1. The right of first refusal was, indeed, “effectively useless.”
  • Petitioner is not legally estopped to challenge the right to top in this case.
  1. Estoppel is unavailing as it would stamp validity to an act that is prohibited by law or against public policy.
    1. Deception was patent; the right to top was an attractive nuisance.
    1. The 10% bid deposit was placed in escrow.

J.G. Summit’s insistence that the right to top cannot be sourced from the right of first refusal is not new and we have already ruled on the issue in our Resolution of September 24, 2003. We upheld the mutual right of first refusal in the JVA. We also ruled that nothing in the JVA prevents KAWASAKI from acquiring more than 40% of PHILSECO’s total capitalization. Likewise, nothing in the JVA or ASBR bars the conversion of the right of first refusal to the right to top. In sum, nothing new and of significance in the petitioner’s pleading warrants a reconsideration of our ruling.

Likewise, we already disposed of the argument that neither the right of first refusal nor the right to top can legally be exercised by the consortium which is not the proper party granted such right under either the JVA or the ASBR. Thus, we held:

The fact that the losing bidder, Keppel Consortium (composed of Keppel, SM Group, Insular Life Assurance, Mitsui and ICTSI), has joined PHILYARDS in the latter’s effort to raise P2.131 billion necessary in exercising the right to top is not contrary to law, public policy or public morals. There is nothing in the ASBR that bars the losing bidders from joining either the winning bidder (should the right to top is not exercised) or KAWASAKI/PHI (should it exercise its right to top as it did), to raise the purchase price. The petitioner did not allege, nor was it shown by competent evidence, that the participation of the losing bidders in the public bidding was done with fraudulent intent. Absent any proof of fraud, the formation by [PHILYARDS] of a consortium is legitimate in a free enterprise system. The appellate court is thus correct in holding the petitioner estopped from questioning the validity of the transfer of the National Government’s shares in PHILSECO to respondent.

Further, we see no inherent illegality on PHILYARDS’ act in seeking funding from parties who were losing bidders. This is a purely commercial decision over which the State should not interfere absent any legal infirmity. It is emphasized that the case at bar involves the disposition of shares in a corporation which the government sought to privatize. As such, the persons with whom PHILYARDS desired to enter into business with in order to raise funds to purchase the shares are basically its business. This is in contrast to a case involving a contract for the operation of or construction of a government infrastructure where the identity of the buyer/bidder or financier constitutes an important consideration. In such cases, the government would have to take utmost precaution to protect public interest by ensuring that the parties with which it is contracting have the ability to satisfactorily construct or operate the infrastructure.

On the landholding issue, J.G. Summit submits that since PHILSECO is a landholding company, KAWASAKI could exercise its right of first refusal only up to 40% of the shares of PHILSECO due to the constitutional prohibition on landholding by corporations with more than 40% foreign-owned equity. It further argues that since KAWASAKI already held at least 40% equity in PHILSECO, the right of first refusal was inutile and as such, could not subsequently be converted into the right to top.  Petitioner also asserts that, at present, PHILSECO continues to violate the constitutional provision on landholdings as its shares are more than 40% foreign-owned. PHILYARDS admits that it may have previously held land but had already divested such landholdings. It contends, however, that even if PHILSECO owned land, this would not affect the right of first refusal but only the exercise thereof. If the land is retained, the right of first refusal, being a property right, could be assigned to a qualified party. In the alternative, the land could be divested before the exercise of the right of first refusal. In the case at bar, respondents assert that since the right of first refusal was validly converted into a right to top, which was exercised not by KAWASAKI, but by PHILYARDS which is a Filipino corporation (i.e., 60% of its shares are owned by Filipinos), then there is no violation of the Constitution. At first, it would seem that questions of fact beyond cognizance by this Court were involved in the issue. However, the records show that PHILYARDS admits it had owned land up until the time of the bidding. Hence, the only issue is whether KAWASAKI had a valid right of first refusal over PHILSECO shares under the JVA considering that PHILSECO owned land until the time of the bidding and KAWASAKI already held 40% of PHILSECO’s equity.

We uphold the validity of the mutual rights of first refusal under the JVA between KAWASAKI and NIDC. First of all, the right of first refusal is a property right of PHILSECO shareholders, KAWASAKI and NIDC, under the terms of their JVA. This right allows them to purchase the shares of their co-shareholder before they are offered to a third party. The agreement of co-shareholders to mutually grant this right to each other, by itself, does not constitute a violation of the provisions of the Constitution limiting land ownership to Filipinos and Filipino corporations. As PHILYARDS correctly puts it, if PHILSECO still owns land, the right of first refusal can be validly assigned to a qualified Filipino entity in order to maintain the 60%-40% ratio. This transfer, by itself, does not amount to a violation of the Anti-Dummy Laws, absent proof of any fraudulent intent. The transfer could be made either to a nominee or such other party which the holder of the right of first refusal feels it can comfortably do business with. Alternatively, PHILSECO may divest of its landholdings, in which case KAWASAKI, in exercising its right of first refusal, can exceed 40% of PHILSECO’s equity. In fact, it can even be said that if the foreign shareholdings of a landholding corporation exceeds 40%, it is not the foreign stockholders’ ownership of the shares which is adversely affected but the capacity of the corporation to own land – that is, the corporation becomes disqualified to own land. This finds support under the basic corporate law principle that the corporation and its stockholders are separate juridical entities. In this vein, the right of first refusal over shares pertains to the shareholders whereas the capacity to own land pertains to the corporation. Hence, the fact that PHILSECO owns land cannot deprive stockholders of their right of first refusal.  No law disqualifies a person from purchasing shares in a landholding corporation even if the latter will exceed the allowed foreign equity, what the law disqualifies is the corporation from owning land. This is the clear import of the following provisions in the Constitution:

Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.

xxx               xxx               xxx


Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. (emphases supplied)

The petitioner further argues that “an option to buy land is void in itself (Philippine Banking Corporation v. Lui She, 21 SCRA 52 [1967]). The right of first refusal granted to KAWASAKI, a Japanese corporation, is similarly void. Hence, the right to top, sourced from the right of first refusal, is also void.” Contrary to the contention of petitioner, the case of Lui She did not that say “an option to buy land is void in itself,” for we ruled as follows:

x x x To be sure, a lease to an alien for a reasonable period is valid. So is an option giving an alien the right to buy real property on condition that he is granted Philippine citizenship. As this Court said in Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds:

[A]liens are not completely excluded by the Constitution from the use of lands for residential purposes. Since their residence in the Philippines is temporary, they may be granted temporary rights such as a lease contract which is not forbidden by the Constitution. Should they desire to remain here forever and share our fortunes and misfortunes, Filipino citizenship is not impossible to acquire.

But if an alien is given not only a lease of, but also an option to buy, a piece of land, by virtue of which the Filipino owner cannot sell or otherwise dispose of his property, this to last for 50 years, then it becomes clear that the arrangement is a virtual transfer of ownership whereby the owner divests himself in stages not only of the right to enjoy the land (jus possidendi, jus utendi, jus fruendi and jus abutendi) but also of the right to dispose of it (jus disponendi) — rights the sum total of which make up ownership. It is just as if today the possession is transferred, tomorrow, the use, the next day, the disposition, and so on, until ultimately all the rights of which ownership is made up are consolidated in an alien. And yet this is just exactly what the parties in this case did within this pace of one year, with the result that Justina Santos'[s] ownership of her property was reduced to a hollow concept. If this can be done, then the Constitutional ban against alien landholding in the Philippines, as announced in Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds, is indeed in grave peril. (emphases supplied; Citations omitted)

In Lui She, the option to buy was invalidated because it amounted to a virtual transfer of ownership as the owner could not sell or dispose of his properties. The contract in Lui She prohibited the owner of the land from selling, donating, mortgaging, or encumbering the property during the 50-year period of the option to buy. This is not so in the case at bar where the mutual right of first refusal in favor of NIDC and KAWASAKI does not amount to a virtual transfer of land to a non-Filipino. In fact, the case at bar involves a right of first refusal over shares of stock while the Lui She case involves an option to buy the land itself. As discussed earlier, there is a distinction between the shareholder’s ownership of shares and the corporation’s ownership of land arising from the separate juridical personalities of the corporation and its shareholders.

We note that in its Motion for Reconsideration, J.G. Summit alleges that PHILSECO continues to violate the Constitution as its foreign equity is above 40% and yet owns long-term leasehold rights which are real rights. It cites Article 415 of the Civil Code which includes in the definition of immovable property, “contracts for public works, and servitudes and other real rights over immovable property.” Any existing landholding, however, is denied by PHILYARDS citing its recent financial statements. First, these are questions of fact, the veracity of which would require introduction of evidence. The Court needs to validate these factual allegations based on competent and reliable evidence. As such, the Court cannot resolve the questions they pose. Second, J.G. Summit misreads the provisions of the Constitution cited in its own pleadings, to wit:

29.2 Petitioner has consistently pointed out in the past that private respondent is not a 60%-40% corporation, and this violates the Constitution x x x The violation continues to this day because under the law, it continues to own real property…

xxx   xxx   xxx

32. To review the constitutional provisions involved, Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution (the JVA was signed in 1977), provided:

“Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.”

32.1 This provision is the same as Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution.

32.2 Under the Public Land Act, corporations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain are corporations at least 60% of which is owned by Filipino citizens (Sec. 22, Commonwealth Act 141, as amended). (emphases supplied)

As correctly observed by the public respondents, the prohibition in the Constitution applies only to ownership of land. It does not extend to immovable or real property as defined under Article 415 of the Civil Code. Otherwise, we would have a strange situation where the ownership of immovable property such as trees, plants and growing fruit attached to the land would be limited to Filipinos and Filipino corporations only.

III.


WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED WITH FINALITY and the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. The Motion to Elevate This Case to the Court En Banc is likewise DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 124293, January 31, 2005 ] J.G. SUMMIT HOLDINGS, INC., PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF APPEALS; COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION, ITS CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS; ASSET PRIVATIZATION TRUST; AND PHILYARDS HOLDINGS, INC., RESPONDENTS. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

Whether there are sufficient bases to elevate the case at bar to the Court en banc.

Motion to Elevate this Case to the
Court En Banc


The petitioner prays for the elevation of the case to the Court en banc on the following grounds:

1. The main issue of the propriety of the bidding process involved in the present case has been confused with the policy issue of the supposed fate of the shipping industry which has never been an issue that is determinative of this case.

2. The present case may be considered under the Supreme Court Resolution dated February 23, 1984 which included among en banc cases those involving a novel question of law and those where a doctrine or principle laid down by the Court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed.

3. There was clear executive interference in the judicial functions of the Court when the Honorable Jose Isidro Camacho, Secretary of Finance, forwarded to Chief Justice Davide, a memorandum dated November 5, 2001, attaching a copy of the Foreign Chambers Report dated October 17, 2001, which matter was placed in the agenda of the Court and noted by it in a formal resolution dated November 28, 2001.

Opposing J.G. Summit’s motion to elevate the case en banc, PHILYARDS points out the petitioner’s inconsistency in previously opposing PHILYARDS’ Motion to Refer the Case to the Court En Banc. PHILYARDS contends that J.G. Summit should now be estopped from asking that the case be referred to the Court en banc. PHILYARDS further contends that the Supreme Court en banc is not an appellate court to which decisions or resolutions of its divisions may be appealed citing Supreme Court Circular No. 2-89 dated February 7, 1989. PHILYARDS also alleges that there is no novel question of law involved in the present case as the assailed Resolution was based on well-settled jurisprudence. Likewise, PHILYARDS stresses that the Resolution was merely an outcome of the motions for reconsideration filed by it and the COP and APT and is “consistent with the inherent power of courts to ‘amend and control its process and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice.’ (Rule 135, sec. 5)” Private respondent belittles the petitioner’s allegations regarding the change in ponente and the alleged executive interference as shown by former Secretary of Finance Jose Isidro Camacho’s memorandum dated November 5, 2001 arguing that these do not justify a referral of the present case to the Court en banc.

In insisting that its Motion to Elevate This Case to the Court En Banc should be granted, J.G. Summit further argued that: its Opposition to the Office of the Solicitor General’s Motion to Refer is different from its own Motion to Elevate; different grounds are invoked by the two motions; there was unwarranted “executive interference”; and the change in ponente is merely noted in asserting that this case should be decided by the Court en banc.

We find no merit in petitioner’s contention that the propriety of the bidding process involved in the present case has been confused with the policy issue of the fate of the shipping industry which, petitioner maintains, has never been an issue that is determinative of this case. The Court’s Resolution of September 24, 2003 reveals a clear and definitive ruling on the propriety of the bidding process. In discussing whether the right to top granted to KAWASAKI in exchange for its right of first refusal violates the principles of competitive bidding, we made an exhaustive discourse on the rules and principles of public bidding and whether they were complied with in the case at bar. This Court categorically ruled on the petitioner’s argument that PHILSECO, as a shipyard, is a public utility which should maintain a 60%-40% Filipino-foreign equity ratio, as it was a pivotal issue. In doing so, we recognized the impact of our ruling on the shipbuilding industry which was beyond avoidance.

We reject petitioner’s argument that the present case may be considered under the Supreme Court Resolution dated February 23, 1984 which included among en banc cases those involving a novel question of law and those where a doctrine or principle laid down by the court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed. The case was resolved based on basic principles of the right of first refusal in commercial law and estoppel in civil law. Contractual obligations arising from rights of first refusal are not new in this jurisdiction and have been recognized in numerous cases. Estoppel is too known a civil law concept to require an elongated discussion. Fundamental principles on public bidding were likewise used to resolve the issues raised by the petitioner. To be sure, petitioner leans on the right to top in a public bidding in arguing that the case at bar involves a novel issue. We are not swayed. The right to top was merely a condition or a reservation made in the bidding rules which was fully disclosed to all bidding parties. In Bureau Veritas, represented by Theodor H. Hunermann v. Office of the President, et al., we dealt with this conditionality, viz:

x x x It must be stressed, as held in the case of A.C. Esguerra & Sons v. Aytona, et al., (L-18751, 28 April 1962, 4 SCRA 1245), that in an “invitation to bid, there is a condition imposed upon the bidders to the effect that the bidding shall be subject to the right of the government to reject any and all bids subject to its discretion. In the case at bar, the government has made its choice and unless an unfairness or injustice is shown, the losing bidders have no cause to complain nor right to dispute that choice. This is a well-settled doctrine in this jurisdiction and elsewhere.”

The discretion to accept or reject a bid and award contracts is vested in the Government agencies entrusted with that function. The discretion given to the authorities on this matter is of such wide latitude that the Courts will not interfere therewith, unless it is apparent that it is used as a shield to a fraudulent award (Jalandoni v. NARRA, 108 Phil. 486 [1960]). x x x The exercise of this discretion is a policy decision that necessitates prior inquiry, investigation, comparison, evaluation, and deliberation. This task can best be discharged by the Government agencies concerned, not by the Courts. The role of the Courts is to ascertain whether a branch or instrumentality of the Government has transgressed its constitutional boundaries. But the Courts will not interfere with executive or legislative discretion exercised within those boundaries. Otherwise, it strays into the realm of policy decision-making.

It is only upon a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion that the Courts will set aside the award of a contract made by a government entity. Grave abuse of discretion implies a capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power (Filinvest Credit Corp. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, No. 65935, 30 September 1988, 166 SCRA 155). The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, as to act at all in contemplation of law, where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility (Litton Mills, Inc. v. Galleon Trader, Inc., et al[.], L-40867, 26 July 1988, 163 SCRA 489).

The facts in this case do not indicate any such grave abuse of discretion on the part of public respondents when they awarded the CISS contract to Respondent SGS. In the “Invitation to Prequalify and Bid” (Annex “C,” supra), the CISS Committee made an express reservation of the right of the Government to “reject any or all bids or any part thereof or waive any defects contained thereon and accept an offer most advantageous to the Government.” It is a well-settled rule that where such reservation is made in an Invitation to Bid, the highest or lowest bidder, as the case may be, is not entitled to an award as a matter of right (C & C Commercial Corp. v. Menor, L-28360, 27 January 1983, 120 SCRA 112). Even the lowest Bid or any Bid may be rejected or, in the exercise of sound discretion, the award may be made to another than the lowest bidder (A.C. Esguerra & Sons v. Aytona, supra, citing 43 Am. Jur., 788). (emphases supplied)

Like the condition in the Bureau Veritas case, the right to top was a condition imposed by the government in the bidding rules which was made known to all parties. It was a condition imposed on all bidders equally, based on the APT’s exercise of its discretion in deciding on how best to privatize the government’s shares in PHILSECO. It was not a whimsical or arbitrary condition plucked from the ether and inserted in the bidding rules but a condition which the APT approved as the best way the government could comply with its contractual obligations to KAWASAKI under the JVA and its mandate of getting the most advantageous deal for the government. The right to top had its history in the mutual right of first refusal in the JVA and was reached by agreement of the government and KAWASAKI.

Further, there is no “executive interference” in the functions of this Court by the mere filing of a memorandum by Secretary of Finance Jose Isidro Camacho. The memorandum was merely “noted” to acknowledge its filing. It had no further legal significance. Notably too, the assailed Resolution dated September 24, 2003 was decided unanimously by the Special First Division in favor of the respondents.

Again, we emphasize that a decision or resolution of a Division is that of the Supreme Court and the Court en banc is not an appellate court to which decisions or resolutions of a Division may be appealed.

For all the foregoing reasons, we find no basis to elevate this case to the Court en banc.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 124293, January 31, 2005 ]J.G. SUMMIT HOLDINGS, INC., PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF APPEALS; COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION, ITS CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS; ASSET PRIVATIZATION TRUST; AND PHILYARDS HOLDINGS, INC., RESPONDENTS. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

Soliciting or accepting directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value which in the course of his official duties or in connection with any operations being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of his office.

1st Offense – Dismissal…. (emphasis in the original)

The penalty of dismissal carries with it cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits, and disqualification from reemployment in the government service, without prejudice to criminal or civil liability.

In Rural Bank of Francisco F. Balagtas (Bulacan), Inc. v. Pangilinan, we dismissed the respondent deputy sheriff for failing to immediately turn over and keeping in his custody the amount of P5,000.00 entrusted to him for remittance to the complainant.

Likewise, in Re: Report on Audit and Physical Inventory of the Records of Cases in MTC of Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija, we declared that the Clerk of Court’s failure to turn over to the court cash in his possession constitutes gross negligence in the performance of his duty, gross dishonesty and even malversation of funds and accordingly dismissed the respondent from the service.

The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that every public servant shall uphold public interest over his or her personal interest at all times. Court personnel, from the presiding judge to the lowest clerk, are required to conduct themselves always beyond reproach, circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility as to free them from any suspicion that may taint the good image of the judiciary.

Far from observing this norm of conduct, respondent’s actuations in the instant case raise suspicion that he misappropriated the amount of P3,000.00 which he solicited from one of the parties without court authority.  The foregoing acts of respondent indubitably establish his guilt and justify his dismissal.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Victoriano S. Ragay, Jr., Court Interpreter, Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Dumaguete City, GUILTY of grave misconduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and improper solicitation, and hereby orders his immediate DISMISSAL from the service with FORFEITURE of all leave credits and retirement benefits due.  He is hereby DISQUALIFIED from reemployment in the government service, including government owned and/or controlled corporations.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ A.M. NO. P-05-1945 (FORMERLY A.M. OCA IPI NO. 03-1605-P), January 31, 2005 ]EVELYN T. HONCULADA, COMPLAINANT VS. VICTORIANO S. RAGAY, JR., COURT INTERPRETER, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 41, DUMAGUETE CITY, RESPONDENT. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ALLEGED FRAUD IN THE APPLICATION FOR THE REGISTRATION OF THE LAND IS THE KIND OF FRAUD CONTEMPLATED BY LAW TO WARRANT RECONVEYANCE OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY

The settled rule is that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest. Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a representative acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary must be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party-in-interest. The name of such beneficiaries shall, likewise, be included in the complaint.

Section 4, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court further provides that facts showing the capacity of a party to sue or be sued, or the authority of a party to sue or be sued in a representative capacity must be averred in the complaint.  In order to maintain an action in a court of justice, the plaintiff must have an actual legal existence, that is, he or she or it must be a person in law and possessed of a legal entity as either a natural or an artificial person, and no suit can lawfully be prosecuted in the name of that person. The party bringing suit has the burden of proving the sufficiency of the representative character that he claims.  If a complaint is filed by one who claims to represent a party as plaintiff but who, in fact, is not authorized to do so, such complaint is not deemed filed and the court does not acquire jurisdiction over the complaint. It must be stressed that an unauthorized complaint does not produce any legal effect. Corollary, the defendant can assail the facts alleged therein through a motion to dismiss on the ground that the plaintiff has no capacity to sue under Section 1(d) of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court, that is, that he does not have the representative he claims.

Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court reads:

SEC. 7. Compulsory joinder of indispensable parties. – Parties in interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action shall be joined either as plaintiffs or defendants.

Thus, the presence of all indispensable parties is a condition sine qua non for the exercise of judicial power.  It is precisely when an indispensable party is not before the court that the action should be dismissed. The plaintiff is mandated to implead all indispensable parties, and the absence of one renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties, but even as to those present. One who is a party to a case is not bound by any decision of the court; otherwise, he will be deprived of his right to due process.

The records show that when Roman Realon died intestate on April 4, 1946, he was survived by his son, Alfredo, and his nephews, who were the children of his deceased son, Buenaventura, namely, Marciano, Joaquino, Florentino, Felipe, Marcelo, Sesinando and Montano, all surnamed Realon.  On the other hand, when Alfredo died intestate, he was survived by his heirs, Ruperta Mapanso, Florentino Purificacion, Emiliano Purificacion, the son of his deceased daughter, Beatriz Realon, Serafin Purificacion and Leonedes Purificacion. Marcelo Realon was survived by his heirs, namely, Ma. Luz Librado, Santiago Realon, Isidro R. Manabo, Rufina B. Mercado and Romel Realon. Only Joaquino, Florentino, Felipe, Sesinando and Montano are still alive.

The four (4) respondents herein, who were the plaintiffs in the trial court, sought the nullification of the Contract to Sell in favor of the petitioner executed by Marciano and his brothers, as well as the Contract to Sell executed by Alfredo over the undivided shares in Lot No. 1253, the deed of sale with mortgage executed by Marciano Realon and his brothers, and the deed of sale with mortgage executed by Alfredo in favor of the petitioner.  They likewise sought to nullify OCT No. O-2348 under the name of the petitioner and the reconveyance of the said lot to the respondents, free from all liens and encumbrances on their allegation that the petitioner committed fraud in the execution of the said deeds and in receiving the said title. Hence, all the surviving signatories to the said documents, namely, Joaquino, Francisco, Felipe, Sesinando and Montano, all surnamed Realon, and the other surviving heirs of Alfredo Realon and Marciano and Marcelo, were indispensable parties as plaintiffs.  Moreover, if the trial court rendered judgment against the petitioner, ordering him to convey the property to the vendors, the latter, as the predecessor-in-interest of the vendors, would have to refund to the vendee the amount they received from the latter.  Hence, the respondents herein should have impleaded them in their complaint.  However, the only plaintiffs impleaded in the complaint were the respondents herein, namely, Francisco, Domingo and Felipe, all surnamed Realon and Emiliano Purificacion.  The surviving signatories of the assailed deeds and the other heirs of the deceased vendors were not impleaded as plaintiffs. Without the presence of all the other heirs as plaintiffs, the trial court could not validly render judgment and grant relief in favor of the respondents; it could, likewise, not rule in favor of the petitioner for the refund of his payments made to the respondents as the successors-in-interest of the vendors.  The failure of the respondents to implead the said signatories and all the other heirs as parties-plaintiffs constituted a legal obstacle to the trial court and the appellate court’s exercise of judicial power over the said case, and thereby rendered any orders or judgments made therein a nullity. To reiterate, the absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties, but even as to those present. Thus, the RTC should have ordered the dismissal of the complaint.

The Court notes that the respondents even failed to include the names of all the other heirs, including the signatories to the assailed deeds in the complaint and in the title thereof, and appending thereto a copy of any special power of attorney authorizing the respondents to sue in their respective capacity for said heirs.  Thus, the petitioner was prevented from questioning the capacity of the said heirs to sue in their respective capacity either in a motion to dismiss the complaint or in his answer to the complaint.

We note that of the four (4) plaintiffs, Domingo Realon failed to sign the certification of non-forum shopping.  On the other hand, the three other plaintiffs who signed the certification failed to append to the complaint a special power of attorney signed by all the surviving vendors and other heirs specifically authorizing them to sign the same for and in their behalf.  This is fatal to the complaint and warrants the dismissal thereof.

In sum then, the trial court should have rendered judgment dismissing the respondents’ complaint, and the Court of Appeals should have reversed the appealed decision of the RTC.

Indeed, even if the complaint of the respondents did not suffer from any substantial defects, the appellate court should still have reversed the trial court’s decision on the ground that the respondents failed to prove that the petitioner secured OCT No. O-2348 through actual or extrinsic fraud; and that the Contracts to Sell and Deeds of Sale with Mortgage were fraudulent.

As a ground for the nullification of the decision in LRC Case No. 83-15, and OCT No. O-2348 issued on the basis thereof, fraud must be extrinsic or actual, and not intrinsic.  The Court elaborated on the distinction of the two species of frauds, thus:

Fraud may also be either extrinsic or intrinsic. Fraud is regarded as intrinsic where the fraudulent acts pertain to an issue involved in the original action, or where the acts constituting the fraud were or could have been litigated therein and is regarded as extrinsic where it prevents a party from having a trial or from presenting his entire case to the court, or where it operates upon matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the manner in which it is procured, so that there is no fair submission of the controversy.  Extrinsic fraud is also actual fraud, but collateral to the transaction sued upon.

The distinctions are significant because only actual fraud or extrinsic fraud has been accepted as grounds for a judgment to be annulled or, as in this case, a decree of registration reopened and reviewed.  In the oft-cited Macabingkil v. People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation case, the Court drew from American jurisprudence stating that “relief has been granted on the ground that, by some fraud practiced directly upon the party seeking relief against the judgment or decree, (and) that party has been prevented from presenting all of his case to the court.” The “fraud” contemplated by the law in this case (Section 32, P.D. No. 1529) is actual and extrinsic, which includes an intentional omission of fact required by law.  For fraud to justify a review of a decree, it must be extrinsic or collateral, and the facts upon which it is based have not been controverted or resolved in the case where the judgment sought to be annulled was rendered.  Persons who were fraudulently deprived of their opportunity to be heard in the original registration case are entitled to a review of a decree or registration.

In contrast to actual fraud, constructive fraud is construed as such because of its detrimental effect upon public interests, as well as public or private confidence in the Torrens System, even though the act is not done or committed with an actual design to commit positive fraud or injury upon other persons.

The records show that in his application in LRC Case No. 83-15, the petitioner, who was the applicant, alleged that he was the owner of the property, having acquired the same based on the Contract to Sell dated July 31, 1979, executed in his favor by Alfredo and Marciano Realon.  He also alleged that the property was unoccupied and that there was no lien or encumbrance of any kind whatsoever affecting the said land, and that he had no knowledge of any person having any interest therein, legal or equitable.

The allegation that the petitioner was the owner of the property is admittedly incorrect because the deeds executed by Marciano and Alfredo Realon on July 31, 1979 were the contracts to sell, under which the petitioner, as buyer, would acquire title over the property only upon his payment of the balance of the purchase price thereof on or before May 23, 1980; or the issuance of a torrens title in the names of the vendees and the execution by the seller of a final deed of sale. Also, the property was tenanted by respondent Emiliano Purificacion.

When he filed his application on November 11, 1983, the petitioner had not yet paid the balance of the purchase price of the property.  The vendors themselves failed to file an application for the issuance of a torrens title over the property in their names.  Hence, the petitioner had not yet acquired ownership over the property when he filed his application.  However, the Court believes that there was no intention on the part of the petitioner to deceive Alfredo and Marciano Realon, and deprive them of their right to be heard on the said application because (a) the petitioner appended to his application and adduced in evidence copies of the contracts to sell in favor of the petitioner executed by Alfredo and Marciano Realon, the latter for and in his behalf, and those of this brothers; and (b) Alfredo and Marciano Realon were served with copies of the notice of hearing of the said application, even testified for the petitioner and affirmed the validity of  the said deeds.  The respondents, as successors-in-interest of the vendees, can no longer assail the admissions of Alfredo and Marciano when they testified for the petitioner in LRC Case No. 83-15.

As gleaned from the decision of the trial court, the petitioner still had a balance on the purchase price of the property due to the vendees amounting to P129,349.73.

We agree with the appellate court that the RTC erred in its decision in LRC Case No. 83-15 declaring the petitioner, who was the applicant in the RTC, to be the legal owner of the property based on the contracts to sell executed in his favor by Alfredo and his nephews.  However, there is no showing in the records that the decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals.  Indeed, the decision had become final and executory, and the court had issued a decree based on its decision.  In due course, the Register of Deeds issued OCT No. 1248 in favor of the petitioner.  Hence, even if erroneous, the decision can no longer be altered. Consequently, the respondents were barred by the decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. BCV 94-28 from impugning the deed of sale with mortgage executed in favor of the petitioner by Alfredo and his nephews on January 8, 1985.  In its decision in the said case, the RTC declared:

At the trial, Engr. Aldersen Ilaban was called to the stand who testified that he is the authorized representative of the plaintiff, having been designated as administrator of his properties (Exh. “E”). He averred that his principal bought the parcel of land in question located at Carmona, Cavite, from its former owners, Alfredo Realon, Marciano Realon, in two (2) separate deeds of sale with mortgage (Exh. “A” & “B”). He further declared that the sellers undertook to deliver to the plaintiff the title covering the subject property upon payment of the balance of the purchase price.  However, despite plaintiff’s offer to pay the entire consideration of the sale after plaintiff exerted effort to secure the torrens title over the subject lot, defendants refused to accept the same in view of their demand for a higher consideration. This prompted plaintiff to write a letter to defendants on October 15, 1993 whereby he tendered payment of the remaining balance (Exh. “C”). Four months thereafter, he again wrote defendants advising them that if they would still refuse to accept the payment, he would deposit the amount of P42,849.23 directly in open court (Exh. “D”).

Considering that the respondents, as defendants therein, failed to appeal the decision, it became final and executory and can no longer be assailed.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED.  The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 68979, and that of the Regional Trial Court, are SET ASIDE. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 159156, January 31, 2005 ]RAMON P. ARON, PETITIONER, VS. FRANCISCO REALON, DOMINGO REALON AND FELIPE REALON, REPRESENTING THE HEIRS OF MARCIANO REALON AND ROMAN REALON, EMILIANO R. PURIFICACION, REPRESENTING THE HEIRS OF ALFREDO REALON AND ROMAN REALON, RESPONDENTS. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

On Whether Manna Properties Sufficiently Established Possession of the Land For the Period Required by Law

Petitioner asserts that Manna Properties has failed to prove its possession of the land for the period of time required by law.  Petitioner alleges that the trial court and the Court of Appeals based their findings solely on their evaluation of the tax declarations presented by Manna Properties.

The jurisdiction of this Court under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is limited to the review and revision of errors of law. This Court is not bound to analyze and weigh evidence already considered in prior proceedings. Absent any of the established grounds for exception, this Court is bound by the findings of fact of the trial and appellate courts.

The issue of whether Manna Properties has presented sufficient proof of the required possession, under a bona fide claim of ownership, raises a question of fact. It invites an evaluation of the evidentiary record. Petitioner invites us to re-evaluate the evidence and substitute our judgment for that of the trial and appellate courts. Generally, Rule 45 does not allow this.  Matters of proof and evidence are beyond the power of this Court to review under a Rule 45 petition, except in the presence of some meritorious circumstances. We find one such circumstance in this case. The evidence on record does not support the conclusions of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals.

Petitioner claimed in its opposition to the application of Manna Properties that, as a private corporation, Manna Properties is disqualified from holding alienable lands of the public domain, except by lease. Petitioner cites the constitutional prohibition in Section 3 of Article XII in the 1987 Constitution. Petitioner also claims that the land in question is still part of the public domain.

On the other hand, Manna Properties claims that it has established that the land in question has been in the open and exclusive possession of its predecessors-in-interest since the 1940s. Thus, the land was already private land when Manna Properties acquired it from its predecessors-in-interest.

The governing law is Commonwealth Act No. 141 (“CA 141”) otherwise known as the “Public Land Act.” Section 48(b) of the said law, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1073, provides:

(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945 or earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter.  (Emphasis supplied)

Lands that fall under Section 48 of CA 141 are effectively segregated from the public domain by virtue of acquisitive prescription. We have held that open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for the period prescribed by CA 141 ipso jure converts such land into private land. Judicial confirmation in such cases is only a formality that merely confirms the earlier conversion of the land into private land, the conversion having occurred in law from the moment the required period of possession became complete.

Under CA 141, the reckoning point is June 12, 1945.  If the predecessors-in-interest of Manna Properties have been in possession of the land in question since this date, or earlier, Manna Properties may rightfully apply for confirmation of title to the land.  Following our ruling in Director of Lands v. IAC, Manna Properties, a private corporation, may apply for judicial confirmation of the land without need of a separate confirmation proceeding for its predecessors-in-interest first.

We rule, however, that the land in question has not become private land and remains part of the public domain.

Under the Regalian doctrine, the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land. This is premised on the basic doctrine that all lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Any applicant for confirmation of imperfect title bears the burden of proving that he is qualified to have the land titled in his name. Although Section 48 of CA 141 gives rise to a right that is only subject to formal recognition, it is still incumbent upon any claimant to first prove open, continuous and adverse possession for the requisite period of time. It is only when the applicant complies with this condition that he may invoke the rights given by CA 141.

The evidence submitted by Manna Properties to prove the required length of possession consists of the testimony of one of its predecessors-in-interest, Manuel Sobrepeña (“Manuel”), transferee’s affidavits, and several tax declarations covering the land in question.

We have ruled that while a tax declaration by itself is not sufficient to prove ownership, it may serve as sufficient basis for inferring possession. However, the tax declarations presented by Manna Properties do not serve to prove their cause. Although Manna Properties claimed during trial that they were presenting the tax declaration proving possession since 12 June 1945, a scrutiny of the tax declaration reveals that it is not the tax declaration Manna Properties claimed it to be. Exhibit Q-16 was in fact a substitute tax declaration allegedly issued on 28 November 1950.  The annotation at the back of this tax declaration indicates that it was issued to replace the 1945 tax declaration covering the land in question. A substitute is not enough.

The 1945 tax declaration must be presented considering that the date, 12 June 1945, is material to this case.  CA 141 specifically fixes the date to 12 June 1945 or earlier.  A tax declaration simply stating that it replaces a previous tax declaration issued in 1945 does not meet this standard.  It is unascertainable whether the 1945 tax declaration was issued on, before or after 12 June 1945.  Tax declarations are issued any time of the year.  A tax declaration issued in 1945 may have been issued in December 1945.  Unless the date and month of issuance in 1945 is stated, compliance with the reckoning date in CA 141 cannot be established.

There is another reason why the application for registration of Manna Properties must fail. The tax declaration allegedly executed in 1950 and marked as Exhibit Q-16 bears several irregularities. A small annotation found at the bottom of the back page of Exhibit Q-16 states it cancels a previous tax declaration. Beyond stating that the cancelled tax declaration was issued in 1945, Exhibit Q-16 does not provide any of the required information that will enable this Court or any interested party to check whether the original 1945 tax declaration ever existed.19 The blanks left by Exhibit Q-16 render any attempt to trace the original tax declaration futile. Moreover, on its face Exhibit Q-16 lacks any indication that it is only a substitute or reconstituted tax declaration. The net effect is an attempt to pass off Exhibit Q-16 as the original tax declaration.

The form used to prepare the tax declaration marked as Exhibit Q-16 states that it was “FILED UNDER SECTION 202 OF R.A. 7160.” Republic Act No. 7160 is the Local Government Code of 1991. The sworn undertaking by the Deputy Assessor who allegedly prepared the tax declaration reads, “Subscribed and sworn before me this 28 (sic) day of Nov. 1950…” This means that the tax declaration was issued more than forty (40) years before the form used came into existence. Manna Properties gave no explanation why its tax declaration used a form that did not exist at the time of the alleged issuance of the tax declaration.  The totality of these circumstances leads this Court to conclude that Exhibit Q-16 was fabricated for the sole purpose of making it appear that Manna Properties’ predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the land in question since 12 June 1945.

The earliest of the “un-cancelled” tax declarations presented by Manna Properties is dated 1950.  This is clearly insufficient to prove possession of the land since 12 June 1945.  The same can be said of the transferee’s affidavit, which was dated 1955. Manna Properties’ reliance on Manuel’s testimony is similarly misplaced. Not only is such evidence insufficient and self-serving on its own but, Manuel did not also specifically testify that he, or his parents or predecessors-in-interest were in possession of the land since 12 June 1945 or earlier.  The only clear assertion of possession made by Manuel was that his family used to plant rice on that piece of land.20

Other than the mentioned pieces of evidence, Manna Properties did not present sufficient proof that its predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous and adverse possession of the land in question since 12 June 1945. At best, Manna Properties can only prove possession since 1952.  Manna Properties relied on shaky secondary evidence like the testimony of Manuel and substitute tax declarations. We have previously cautioned against the reliance on such secondary evidence in cases involving the confirmation of an imperfect title over public land.21 Manna Properties’ evidence hardly constitutes the “well-nigh incontrovertible” evidence necessary to acquire title through adverse occupation under CA 141.22

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the instant petition. We REVERSE the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 20 December 2000 in CA-G.R. CV No. 52562.  The Application for Registration filed by Manna Properties, Inc. over Lots No. 9515 and 1006 of Cad. 539-D, with a total area of One Thousand Four Hundred Eighty (1,480) square meters situated in Barangay Pagdaraoan, San Fernando, La Union, is DENIED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 146527, January 31, 2005 ] REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. MANNA PROPERTIES, INC., REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, JOSE TANYAO, RESPONDENT. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

On Whether Manna Properties Failed to Comply with the Jurisdictional Requirements for Original Registration

Petitioner contends that PD 1529 sets a 90-day maximum period between the court order setting the initial hearing date and the hearing itself. Petitioner points out that in this case, the trial court issued the order setting the date of the initial hearing on 15 March 1995, but the trial court set the hearing date itself on 18 July 1995. Considering that there are 125 days in between the two dates, petitioner argues that the trial court exceeded the 90-day period set by PD 1529. Thus, petitioner concludes “the applicant [Manna Properties] failed to comply with the jurisdictional requirements for original registration.”

The petitioner is mistaken.

The pertinent portion of Section 23 of PD 1529 reads:

Sec. 23. Notice of initial hearing, publication etc. – The court shall, within five days from filing of the application, issue an order setting the date and hour of initial hearing which shall not be earlier than forty-five days nor later than ninety days from the date of the order.

xxx

The duty and the power to set the hearing date lies with the land registration court. After an applicant has filed his application, the law requires the issuance of a court order setting the initial hearing date. The notice of initial hearing is a court document. The notice of initial hearing is signed by the judge and copy of the notice is mailed by the clerk of court to the LRA. This involves a process to which the party applicant absolutely has no participation.

Petitioner is correct that in land registration cases, the applicant must strictly comply with the jurisdictional requirements. In this case, the applicant complied with the jurisdictional requirements.

The facts reveal that Manna Properties was not at fault why the hearing date was set beyond the 90-day maximum period. The records show that the Docket Division of the LRA repeatedly requested the trial court to reset the initial hearing date because of printing problems with the National Printing Office, which could affect the timely publication of the notice of hearing in the Official Gazette.  Indeed, nothing in the records indicates that Manna Properties failed to perform the acts required of it by law.

We have held that “a party to an action has no control over the Administrator or the Clerk of Court acting as a land court; he has no right to meddle unduly with the business of such official in the performance of his duties.” A party cannot intervene in matters within the exclusive power of the trial court.  No fault is attributable to such party if the trial court errs on matters within its sole power.  It is unfair to punish an applicant for an act or omission over which the applicant has neither responsibility nor control, especially if the applicant has complied with all the requirements of the law.

Petitioner limited itself to assailing the lapse of time between the issuance of the order setting the date of initial hearing and the date of the initial hearing itself. Petitioner does not raise any other issue with respect to the sufficiency of the application. Petitioner does not also question the sufficiency of the publication of the required notice of hearing. Consequently, petitioner does not dispute the real jurisdictional issue involved in land registration cases — compliance with the publication requirement under PD 1529. As the records show, the notice of hearing was published both in the Official Gazette and a newspaper of general circulation well ahead of the date of hearing.  This complies with the legal requirement of serving the entire world with sufficient notice of the registration proceedings.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 146527, January 31, 2005 ]REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. MANNA PROPERTIES, INC., REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, JOSE TANYAO, RESPONDENT. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

On the Element of Deliberate Assertion of Falsehood

The third element of perjury requires that the accused willfully and deliberately assert a falsehood. Good faith or lack of malice is a valid defense. Here, the Court finds that respondent Pascua’s statement in his counter-affidavit in OMB-ADM-1-99-0387 that he called the 16 July 1998 meeting does not constitute a deliberate assertion of falsehood.  While it was Yabut and some unidentified ACNTS personnel who requested a dialogue with respondent Pascua, it was respondent Pascua’s consent to their request which led to the holding of the meeting.  Thus, respondent Pascua’s statement in question is not false much less malicious.  It is a good faith interpretation of events leading to the holding of the meeting.

Regarding respondent Pascua’s allegation in his counter-affidavit in OMB-ADM-1-99-0387 that petitioner’s complaint was a mere “rehash and duplication with a slight deviation of fact” of the DECS administrative case petitioner and Yabut filed against respondent Pascua, petitioner has not shown why this is false.  Petitioner again did not furnish the Court a copy of her and Yabut’s complaint with the DECS.

Respondent Turla’s statement in OMB-ADM-1-99-0387 that respondent Pascua called the 16 July 1998 meeting was a mere reiteration of what respondent Pascua told him. Consequently, it was correct for public respondent to hold that since respondent Turla merely repeated what he heard from respondent Pascua, he could not be held liable for making a false and malicious statement.

There is grave abuse of discretion where power is exercised in arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility.  The abuse must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty or to act at all in contemplation of law. No such conduct can be imputed on public respondent.  Public respondent disposed of petitioner’s complaint consistent with applicable law.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 144692, January 31, 2005 ] CELSA P. ACUÑA, PETITIONER, VS. DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FOR LUZON, PEDRO PASCUA AND RONNIE TURLA, (ANGELES CITY NATIONAL TRADE SCHOOL), RESPONDENTS. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

THE RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN PRESUMING NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AND MERELY RELYING IN CONJECTURE, SURMISE AND SPECULATION THEREBY DIRECTLY CONTRAVENING THE FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE TRIAL COURT.

On the first assigned error, petitioner cites the findings of fact of the CA and alleges that the same was “in direct contravention to the findings of fact of the trial court.” He then cites certain portions of the trial court’s Decision to show the supposed disparity. Upon scrutiny, however, this Court notes that the said quoted portion of the RTC Decision, which was purportedly contravened by the CA, was nothing more than the portion of the RTC Decision which merely narrates the accused’s version of the incident. A reading of the RTC Decision shows that the RTC first narrated the version of the prosecution, and thereafter did the same with the version of the defense. Ultimately, however, the trial court did find that the prosecution’s version was worthy of credence, as amply supported by the evidence submitted.

The RTC found:

After a thorough and careful evaluation of the foregoing evidence of the prosecution and the defense and after going over the transcripts of stenographic notes, . . . the Court finds that the prosecution, by the streng[th] of its own evidence, has established beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused ROBERT VENERACION of the offense of reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property charged against him.

. . .

. . .  [T]he Court is convinced that the evidence of the    prosecution clearly and beyond doubt established that on December 10, 1989 at about 10:45 a.m., Dr. Conrado Triguero was driving his two-door Toyota Corolla car, model 1981 with Certificate of Registration No. 05248901 of the Land Transportation Office (Exh. “A”) and O.R. No. 33405884 dated October 12, 1990 (Exh. “B”) along EDSA and turning left to B. Serrano St., Kalookan City. He exhibited his driver’s license (Exh. “D”) during the trial.

In contrast, the accused during his entire testimony never so much as produced his driver’s license. All he did was to state that it has never been confiscated.

The pictures (Exhs. “E” to “M”) introduced by the prosecution were all admitted by the accused to be true and correct pictures of the traffic accident. Not one of those pictures ever showed that the trailer-truck being driven by the accused was ahead of the car being driven by Dr. Triguero. On the contrary, those pictures depicted that the car of Dr. Triguero was the one ahead even at the time of impact. These pictures also substantiated the testimony of Dr. Triguero that his car was ahead of, and was being followed by[,] the trailer truck. That fact was seen by him through his side mirror. Moreover, those pictures tended to substantiate, the truth of Dr. Triguero’s testimony that when he was already at full stop and thereafter making the left turn to B. Serrano St., the trailer truck was still about ten (10) meters away from his truck.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Accused could say his version of the accident in so many words as testified to by him in his defense, but the prosecution’s Exh[s.] “E” to “M” would belie these words.

Also duly proved by said pictures was the fact that the trailer truck was not making a left turn to B. Serrano St., prior to the time of impact. It was Dr. Triguero’s car which was already making a left turn but while doing so, the trailer truck bumped its left side.

. . .

Another circumstance which established the truth of D[r]. Triguero’s testimony as to how the accident occurred, was the introduction of the documentary exhibit by the prosecution to support said testimony, (actually from Exh[s.] “A” to “T”), as compared to absolutely none at all from the accused. Even the latter’s purported Exh. “1” was not introduced by the defense.

. . .

Coming now to the issue of who was recklessly driving his vehicle at the time of the accident, the people’s evidence overwhelmingly points to the accused as the culprit. 

Upon its review, the CA fully agreed with findings of the RTC and consequently affirmed said Decision in toto. The appellate Court found that “[c]ontrary to the appellant’s position, though, the record is teeming with evidence supporting the version of the prosecution.”

The CA found:

Moreover, a close examination of the left side of the car as seen from the pictures (Exhibits “F”, “J”, “K” and “L”), reveals scratch marks running from the back of the car towards its center. It is therefore not a far-fetched conclusion that the scratch marks were caused by the right fender of the trailer-truck before it rested on the center of the car. The presence of those scratch marks at the back of the car indicates that the trailer-truck bumped the car from behind.

Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code provides that reckless imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place. Here, the prosecution proved and as sustained by the lower court, the car was clearly ahead of the trailer truck prior to the collision. Hence, it was incumbent upon the appellant to reduce his speed or apply on the brakes of the truck in order to allow the car to safely negotiate a left turn at the intersection. Failing, thus, in observing the necessary precaution to avoid inflicting injury or damage to others, We consider appellant to be recklessly imprudent in operating his vehicle.

Appellant further laments the lower court’s opinion finding him negligent in his driving on the ground that as between him and Dr. Triguero, he was the one with the shorter driving experience. He argues that Dr. Triguero’s considerable driving experience does not guarantee that at the time of the accident he was not recklessly driving his car. We agree to some extent with this contention. It is true that lack of experience in the operation of a vehicle may cause damage or injury.  But if a person, with a short period of experience in the operation a motor vehicle, operates it with that degree of care and skill that is required of a seasoned driver, negligence cannot be predicated upon the mere fact of inexperience on the part of a driver. However, the issue involved in the instant case is whether appellant operated the truck imprudently at the time of the accident. This is where Our concurrence should cease. Having found earlier that appellant was imprudent in the operation of the trailer-truck, the fact of appellant’s inexperience thus becomes relevant. Besides, his conviction was not based solely on his relative inexperience. 

In conclusion, the CA stated that “the court a quo based its ruling on the totality of the testimonial and documentary evidence[] proffered in the case,” such that the CA refused to disturb said factual findings, there being no overlooked facts of substance nor other compelling reason to warrant a change or modification.

Thus, the argument that the CA contravened the findings of fact of the RTC has no basis.

Another look at petitioner’s assigned errors, as well as the arguments he advanced in support thereof, would show that petitioner is asking for a review of the facts and circumstances of the incident in question. The main thrust of his defense is that it was Dr. Triguero who was at fault, who was negligent and who was the proximate cause of the collision.

Both the RTC and the CA are in agreement as to the particulars of what happened. In such a case, the rule is that their findings on the facts will not be disturbed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 14512 are AFFIRMED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 137447, January 31, 2005 ] ROBERT VENERACION, PETITIONER VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

The settled rule is that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest

Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a representative acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary must be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party-in-interest. The name of such beneficiaries shall, likewise, be included in the complaint.

Section 4, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court further provides that facts showing the capacity of a party to sue or be sued, or the authority of a party to sue or be sued in a representative capacity must be averred in the complaint.  In order to maintain an action in a court of justice, the plaintiff must have an actual legal existence, that is, he or she or it must be a person in law and possessed of a legal entity as either a natural or an artificial person, and no suit can lawfully be prosecuted in the name of that person. The party bringing suit has the burden of proving the sufficiency of the representative character that he claims.  If a complaint is filed by one who claims to represent a party as plaintiff but who, in fact, is not authorized to do so, such complaint is not deemed filed and the court does not acquire jurisdiction over the complaint. It must be stressed that an unauthorized complaint does not produce any legal effect. Corollary, the defendant can assail the facts alleged therein through a motion to dismiss on the ground that the plaintiff has no capacity to sue under Section 1(d) of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court, that is, that he does not have the representative he claims.

Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court reads:

SEC. 7. Compulsory joinder of indispensable parties. – Parties in interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action shall be joined either as plaintiffs or defendants.

Thus, the presence of all indispensable parties is a condition sine qua non for the exercise of judicial power.  It is precisely when an indispensable party is not before the court that the action should be dismissed. The plaintiff is mandated to implead all indispensable parties, and the absence of one renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties, but even as to those present. One who is a party to a case is not bound by any decision of the court; otherwise, he will be deprived of his right to due process.

The records show that when Roman Realon died intestate on April 4, 1946, he was survived by his son, Alfredo, and his nephews, who were the children of his deceased son, Buenaventura, namely, Marciano, Joaquino, Florentino, Felipe, Marcelo, Sesinando and Montano, all surnamed Realon.  On the other hand, when Alfredo died intestate, he was survived by his heirs, Ruperta Mapanso, Florentino Purificacion, Emiliano Purificacion, the son of his deceased daughter, Beatriz Realon, Serafin Purificacion and Leonedes Purificacion. Marcelo Realon was survived by his heirs, namely, Ma. Luz Librado, Santiago Realon, Isidro R. Manabo, Rufina B. Mercado and Romel Realon. Only Joaquino, Florentino, Felipe, Sesinando and Montano are still alive.

The four (4) respondents herein, who were the plaintiffs in the trial court, sought the nullification of the Contract to Sell in favor of the petitioner executed by Marciano and his brothers, as well as the Contract to Sell executed by Alfredo over the undivided shares in Lot No. 1253, the deed of sale with mortgage executed by Marciano Realon and his brothers, and the deed of sale with mortgage executed by Alfredo in favor of the petitioner.  They likewise sought to nullify OCT No. O-2348 under the name of the petitioner and the reconveyance of the said lot to the respondents, free from all liens and encumbrances on their allegation that the petitioner committed fraud in the execution of the said deeds and in receiving the said title. Hence, all the surviving signatories to the said documents, namely, Joaquino, Francisco, Felipe, Sesinando and Montano, all surnamed Realon, and the other surviving heirs of Alfredo Realon and Marciano and Marcelo, were indispensable parties as plaintiffs.  Moreover, if the trial court rendered judgment against the petitioner, ordering him to convey the property to the vendors, the latter, as the predecessor-in-interest of the vendors, would have to refund to the vendee the amount they received from the latter.  Hence, the respondents herein should have impleaded them in their complaint.  However, the only plaintiffs impleaded in the complaint were the respondents herein, namely, Francisco, Domingo and Felipe, all surnamed Realon and Emiliano Purificacion.  The surviving signatories of the assailed deeds and the other heirs of the deceased vendors were not impleaded as plaintiffs. Without the presence of all the other heirs as plaintiffs, the trial court could not validly render judgment and grant relief in favor of the respondents; it could, likewise, not rule in favor of the petitioner for the refund of his payments made to the respondents as the successors-in-interest of the vendors.  The failure of the respondents to implead the said signatories and all the other heirs as parties-plaintiffs constituted a legal obstacle to the trial court and the appellate court’s exercise of judicial power over the said case, and thereby rendered any orders or judgments made therein a nullity. To reiterate, the absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties, but even as to those present. Thus, the RTC should have ordered the dismissal of the complaint.

The Court notes that the respondents even failed to include the names of all the other heirs, including the signatories to the assailed deeds in the complaint and in the title thereof, and appending thereto a copy of any special power of attorney authorizing the respondents to sue in their respective capacity for said heirs.  Thus, the petitioner was prevented from questioning the capacity of the said heirs to sue in their respective capacity either in a motion to dismiss the complaint or in his answer to the complaint.

We note that of the four (4) plaintiffs, Domingo Realon failed to sign the certification of non-forum shopping.  On the other hand, the three other plaintiffs who signed the certification failed to append to the complaint a special power of attorney signed by all the surviving vendors and other heirs specifically authorizing them to sign the same for and in their behalf.  This is fatal to the complaint and warrants the dismissal thereof.

In sum then, the trial court should have rendered judgment dismissing the respondents’ complaint, and the Court of Appeals should have reversed the appealed decision of the RTC.

Indeed, even if the complaint of the respondents did not suffer from any substantial defects, the appellate court should still have reversed the trial court’s decision on the ground that the respondents failed to prove that the petitioner secured OCT No. O-2348 through actual or extrinsic fraud; and that the Contracts to Sell and Deeds of Sale with Mortgage were fraudulent.

As a ground for the nullification of the decision in LRC Case No. 83-15, and OCT No. O-2348 issued on the basis thereof, fraud must be extrinsic or actual, and not intrinsic.  The Court elaborated on the distinction of the two species of frauds, thus:

Fraud may also be either extrinsic or intrinsic. Fraud is regarded as intrinsic where the fraudulent acts pertain to an issue involved in the original action, or where the acts constituting the fraud were or could have been litigated therein and is regarded as extrinsic where it prevents a party from having a trial or from presenting his entire case to the court, or where it operates upon matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the manner in which it is procured, so that there is no fair submission of the controversy.  Extrinsic fraud is also actual fraud, but collateral to the transaction sued upon.

The distinctions are significant because only actual fraud or extrinsic fraud has been accepted as grounds for a judgment to be annulled or, as in this case, a decree of registration reopened and reviewed.  In the oft-cited Macabingkil v. People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation case, the Court drew from American jurisprudence stating that “relief has been granted on the ground that, by some fraud practiced directly upon the party seeking relief against the judgment or decree, (and) that party has been prevented from presenting all of his case to the court.” The “fraud” contemplated by the law in this case (Section 32, P.D. No. 1529) is actual and extrinsic, which includes an intentional omission of fact required by law.  For fraud to justify a review of a decree, it must be extrinsic or collateral, and the facts upon which it is based have not been controverted or resolved in the case where the judgment sought to be annulled was rendered.  Persons who were fraudulently deprived of their opportunity to be heard in the original registration case are entitled to a review of a decree or registration.

In contrast to actual fraud, constructive fraud is construed as such because of its detrimental effect upon public interests, as well as public or private confidence in the Torrens System, even though the act is not done or committed with an actual design to commit positive fraud or injury upon other persons.

The records show that in his application in LRC Case No. 83-15, the petitioner, who was the applicant, alleged that he was the owner of the property, having acquired the same based on the Contract to Sell dated July 31, 1979, executed in his favor by Alfredo and Marciano Realon.  He also alleged that the property was unoccupied and that there was no lien or encumbrance of any kind whatsoever affecting the said land, and that he had no knowledge of any person having any interest therein, legal or equitable.

The allegation that the petitioner was the owner of the property is admittedly incorrect because the deeds executed by Marciano and Alfredo Realon on July 31, 1979 were the contracts to sell, under which the petitioner, as buyer, would acquire title over the property only upon his payment of the balance of the purchase price thereof on or before May 23, 1980; or the issuance of a torrens title in the names of the vendees and the execution by the seller of a final deed of sale. Also, the property was tenanted by respondent Emiliano Purificacion.

When he filed his application on November 11, 1983, the petitioner had not yet paid the balance of the purchase price of the property.  The vendors themselves failed to file an application for the issuance of a torrens title over the property in their names.  Hence, the petitioner had not yet acquired ownership over the property when he filed his application.  However, the Court believes that there was no intention on the part of the petitioner to deceive Alfredo and Marciano Realon, and deprive them of their right to be heard on the said application because (a) the petitioner appended to his application and adduced in evidence copies of the contracts to sell in favor of the petitioner executed by Alfredo and Marciano Realon, the latter for and in his behalf, and those of this brothers; and (b) Alfredo and Marciano Realon were served with copies of the notice of hearing of the said application, even testified for the petitioner and affirmed the validity of  the said deeds.  The respondents, as successors-in-interest of the vendees, can no longer assail the admissions of Alfredo and Marciano when they testified for the petitioner in LRC Case No. 83-15.

As gleaned from the decision of the trial court, the petitioner still had a balance on the purchase price of the property due to the vendees amounting to P129,349.73.

We agree with the appellate court that the RTC erred in its decision in LRC Case No. 83-15 declaring the petitioner, who was the applicant in the RTC, to be the legal owner of the property based on the contracts to sell executed in his favor by Alfredo and his nephews.  However, there is no showing in the records that the decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals.  Indeed, the decision had become final and executory, and the court had issued a decree based on its decision.  In due course, the Register of Deeds issued OCT No. 1248 in favor of the petitioner.  Hence, even if erroneous, the decision can no longer be altered. Consequently, the respondents were barred by the decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. BCV 94-28 from impugning the deed of sale with mortgage executed in favor of the petitioner by Alfredo and his nephews on January 8, 1985.  In its decision in the said case, the RTC declared:

At the trial, Engr. Aldersen Ilaban was called to the stand who testified that he is the authorized representative of the plaintiff, having been designated as administrator of his properties (Exh. “E”). He averred that his principal bought the parcel of land in question located at Carmona, Cavite, from its former owners, Alfredo Realon, Marciano Realon, in two (2) separate deeds of sale with mortgage (Exh. “A” & “B”). He further declared that the sellers undertook to deliver to the plaintiff the title covering the subject property upon payment of the balance of the purchase price.  However, despite plaintiff’s offer to pay the entire consideration of the sale after plaintiff exerted effort to secure the torrens title over the subject lot, defendants refused to accept the same in view of their demand for a higher consideration. This prompted plaintiff to write a letter to defendants on October 15, 1993 whereby he tendered payment of the remaining balance (Exh. “C”). Four months thereafter, he again wrote defendants advising them that if they would still refuse to accept the payment, he would deposit the amount of P42,849.23 directly in open court (Exh. “D”).

Considering that the respondents, as defendants therein, failed to appeal the decision, it became final and executory and can no longer be assailed.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED.  The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 68979, and that of the Regional Trial Court, are SET ASIDE. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 159156, January 31, 2005 ] RAMON P. ARON, PETITIONER, VS. FRANCISCO REALON, DOMINGO REALON AND FELIPE REALON, REPRESENTING THE HEIRS OF MARCIANO REALON AND ROMAN REALON, EMILIANO R. PURIFICACION, REPRESENTING THE HEIRS OF ALFREDO REALON AND ROMAN REALON, RESPONDENTS. TAGS: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING PROBATIVE VALUE TO THE INCREDIBLE, IMPLAUSIBLE AND HIGHLY INCONGRUOUS TESTIMONY OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT ANENT THE IMPUGNED INCIDENTS IN CRIMINAL CASE NOS. L-5256, 5992, 5994 AND 5295.

Appellant challenges the credibility of the complainant, Aileen S. Alba, by capitalizing on his physical handicap of being a one-armed man, his right arm having been amputated. He submits that with this physical disadvantage, the complainant’s assertions that she was raped eight (8) times on four (4) occasions; that her mouth was covered with a handkerchief and her hands and feet were tied; that after each incident, the handkerchief was removed from her mouth and her hands and feet untied; that this same procedure was followed in all incidents, are incredible, and the consummation of the crimes ascribed to him, highly impossible.

We find appellant’s reliance upon his disability as a futile attempt to disprove the charge against him and escape liability. While it is true that he is one-armed, such fact alone does not sufficiently prove that he could not have committed the crime. His physical defect does not make it entirely implausible for him to have committed the crime of rape, in the face of 12-year old Aileen’s positive identification and unwavering testimony that appellant raped her. What is essential is that the essence of the crime – sexual penetration of the female genitalia by the male organ – is established beyond reasonable doubt.

After a thorough review of the declaration on the witness stand of complainant Aileen, we find her testimony very typical of an innocent child whose virtue has been violated. Aileen testified that appellant used his left hand and his teeth to tie both ends of the handkerchief. Thus, it was not impossible for appellant to cover Aileen’s mouth with a handkerchief. As to the fact that her feet were tied when she was raped, Aileen testified that her feet were tied near the ankle. Aileen remained constant and steadfast despite intense grilling by defense counsel on cross-examination. Enlightening are the following excerpts from her candid and unequivocal testimony which we quote verbatim:

“Q Now, what did the accused do next to you?
“A He removed my shortpant, sir.
“Q Removed or just lowered your shortpant?
“A He lowered, sir.
“Q Then he went on top of you?
“A But first, he removed his pants, sir.
“Q Then he went on top of you?
“A Yes, sir.
“Q Then, you claim that he inserted his penis to your vagina?
“A Yes, sir.
“Q Now, in spite of the fact that the accused did not remove your panty first before he inserted his penis to your vagina?
“A He lowered my panty, sir.
“Q I thought what was lowered only is shortpant?
“A He lowered my shortpant and my underwear, sir.
“Q And in spite of the fact that your thighs are near each other you claim still that the accused was able to insert his penis to your vagina?
“A My thighs were not too close, sir.
“Q What do you mean that your thighs were not too close when you said before hand during all the time that you were raped by the accused on January 16, 23, February 16 and your thighs were near to each other?
“A What I mean my legs were quite open, sir?
“Q With your knees pointed upward?
“xxx xxx xxx.
“WITNESS:
“A My legs are about three (3) inches apart, sir.
“COURT:
“Q Are you very sure that is your position when the accused laid you down and rape you on top of the bed?
“FISCAL:
“With due respect, she was ordered to lie down, Your Honor.
“A Yes, sir.
“COURT:
“Q In spite of the fact that you claim that your feet were tightly tight that was your position?
“WITNESS:
“A My feet were tightly tight but the accused spread my legs a little far apart, sir.
“xxx xxx xxx
“ATTY. CASTRO:
“Q Now, when did the accused open your legs a little apart was it before he went on top of you or he was already on top of you?
“WITNESS:
“A Before he went on top of me, sir.
“xxx xxx xxx
“COURT:
“Q Did you feel pain when the accused sexually abused you?
“WITNESS:
“A Yes, sir.
“Q What part of your body?
“A My whole body, sir.
“xxx xxx xxx
“ATTY. CASTRO:
“Q In spite of the pain you felt on your body, you did not cry?
“WITNESS:
“A I cried, sir.
“Q You cried loud?
“A No, sir.
“Q How loud was your cry?
“A My tears were just flowing, sir.
“xxx xxx xxx
“ATTY. CASTRO:
“Q You said the accused was able to insert his penis to your vagina, for how long did the accused take before he could finally insert his penis to your vagina on January 23, 1995?
“WITNESS:
“A Quite sometime, sir.
“Q How long is that quite sometime?
“A Quite long time, sir.
“Q While he was trying his penis to insert into your vagina was he embracing you titely?
“A Yes, sir.
“Q He kiss you also?
“A No, sir.
“xxx xxx xxx
“ATTY. CASTRO:
“Q For how long did the accused make sexual intercourse against you on January 23, 1995?
“WITNESS:
“A Long time, sir.
“Q How long is that long time?
“A I cannot remember how many minutes at that time, sir.
“xxx xxx xxx
“Q Considering that you are now Grade VI, how long is that one (1) minute, more or less?”
“A The accused take a long time in sexually but I cannot tell how many minutes, sir.
“xxx xxx xxx
“COURT
“Q Were you also enjoying the act being done to you by the accused?
“A No, sir.
“ATTY. CASTRO:
“Q And what did you feel?
“WITNESS:
“A I felt pain, sir.
“Q When you were feeling that pain, did you try to move your buttocks counter likewise in order to remove the penis of the accused or just remain stand still?
“A When I tried to move I cannot because Beriong (the accused) was very heavy, sir.” 

The child remained steadfast and candid on further cross-examination:

“Q Now, when the accused was on top of you, did he embrace you tightly?
“A Yes, sir.
“Q And after that he inserted his penis to your vagina?
“A Yes, sir.
“Q And you claim that despite of facts that you ties are very closed to each other, Beriong was able to insert his penis to your vagina?
“FISCAL:
“Near not very close.
“COURT:
“Reform the question.
“Near.
“WITNESS:
“A Yes, sir.
“ATTY. CASTRO:
“Q Was he able to insert his penis to your vagina with ease?
“WITNESS:
“A No, sir.
“Q How long was he able to insert his penis to your vagina?
“A I don’t know, sir.
“Q You also claimed no one guided his penis to your vagina he was able to insert his penis to your vagina?
“COURT: (interrupted)
“Q How were he able to insert his penis to your vagina and your ties were closed to each other?
“WITNESS:
“A I cannot tell, sir.
“Q The accused did not hold his penis, then, inserted it in your vagina?
“A He held, sir.
“ATTY. CASTRO:
“Q Is it not you claimed a while ago before the accused inserted his penis to your VAGINA?
“FISCAL:
“Objection, there is no showing it was simultaneous embracing and inserting of the penis with the use of the nad.
“COURT:
“Answer.
“WITNESS:
“A He first placed his penis on top of my vagina and embrace me tightly, sir.
“COURT:
“Q How were he able to insert his penis with the use of his hand?
“WITNESS:
“A I cannot describe, sir.

The physical evidence corroborates Aileen’s testimony. The medico-legal report of Dr. Mary Gwendolyn Luna on the evidence of the non-virgin state of Aileen is the definitive proof that penetration did in fact occur. The examination conducted by Dr. Luna revealed that Aileen’s hymen bore two old, deep lacerations at 5 and 7 o’clock, and superficial lacerations at 3, 6, 9 and 11 o’clock. It is settled that when the victim’s testimony is corroborated by the physician’s finding of penetration, there is sufficient foundation to conclude the existence of the essential requisite of carnal knowledge. Laceration, whether healed or fresh, is the best physical evidence of forcible defloration.

Thus, we are not inclined to deviate from the established rule that testimonies of rape victims, especially child victims, are given full weight and credit. It bears emphasis that the victim in this case was barely twelve (12) years old when she was raped. In a litany of cases, the Court has applied the well settled rule that when a woman, more so if she is a minor, says she has been raped, she says in effect, all that is necessary to prove that rape was committed. We give greater weight to the testimony of a girl who is a victim of sexual assault, especially a minor, for it is most unnatural for a young and immature girl to fabricate a story as sordid as her own defilement, allow a medical examination of her genitalia, subject herself to a public trial and expose herself to public ridicule for no reason other than her thirst for justice.

Mere surmises on the improbability of penetration due to the fact that the feet of the victim were tied at the ankles and appellant is a one-armed man, do not overcome our foregoing rulings in the face of the unfaltering testimony of Aileen and the physical evidence testified to by Dr. Luna.

Furthermore, Aileen’s conduct of simply going home after the commission of the rape should not be taken against her. The non-revelation of the first and succeeding incidents of rape can be attributed to the fear created in her mind by the threats appellant made against her. Rape victims, especially child victims, should not be expected to act the way mature individuals would when placed in such a situation. It is not proper to judge the actions of children who have undergone traumatic experience by the norms of behavior expected from adults under similar circumstances. “The range of emotions shown by rape victims is yet to be captured even by the calculus. It is thus unrealistic to expect uniform reactions from rape victims”. 

In stark contrast to the categorical declarations of Aileen, appellant merely raised denial and alibi as his defenses. Denial and alibi are weak defenses which are unavailing in the face of positive identification by the victim of the appellant as the violator of her honor. Furthermore, appellant’s alibi was shattered by the prosecution’s rebuttal witness, Felisa Soriano, who testified that she never sent the appellant to Baguio to buy Campri leaves on January 15, 1995 since she has children whom she could send to Baguio City to buy the medicine. It is further weakened by the fact that he escaped from detention on March 8, 1995 and was subsequently re-arrested two (2) days later on March 10, 1995. before his arraignment on May 9, 1995.. Such escapade is akin to flight before arrest in the commission of a crime, which signifies an awareness of guilt and a consciousness that he had no tenable defense against the rape charge.

The Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. L-5256, 5292, 5294, 5295 and 5257 alleged that the appellant committed the rape while “armed with a fan knife and a handgun”, thus he is charged with rape qualified by the use of a deadly weapon. It must be stressed that what qualifies the crime of rape is not just the overt act of “being armed with a weapon” but the “use of a deadly weapon” in the commission of the crime, i.e., when a deadly weapon is used to make the victim submit to the will of the offender and not when it is simply shown to be in the possession of the latter.

In this case, complainant Aileen S. Alba testified that appellant brandished the balisong at her and threatened her with death if she did not submit to his lustful desires; and that the balisong was placed beside her and the handgun was above her head while she was being raped. Thus, the threat to kill her was imminent and constant. While the record is bereft of evidence to show how appellant used the handgun other than placing it above the head of Aileen when he raped her, we find that when appellant brandished the balisong at her, it was sufficient to make twelve-year old Aileen submit to appellant’s beastly will.

Although neither the fan knife nor the handgun were presented in court, the production of the weapon used in the commission of the crime is not a condition sine qua non for the discharge of the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt for the same may not have been recovered at all from the assailant. The presentation of the weapon used in the commission of the rape is not essential to the conviction of the accused for it suffices that the testimony of the rape victim is credible. The trial court did not err in finding that the testimony of the offended party is credible and therefore worthy of full faith and credit, sufficient to sustain the conviction of the accused, beyond reasonable doubt.

However, we find that the trial court erred in imposing the penalty of “reclusion perpetua to death”. Rape with the Use of a Deadly Weapon is punishable by two indivisible penalties, i.e.reclusion perpetua to death, under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659. This is called the prescribed penalty which is distinct from the imposable penalty. The imposable penalty is that which is applicable after considering the evidence on the modifying circumstances which mitigate or aggravate criminal liability, provided under Articles 13, 14 and 15 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Article 63 of the same Code.

Article 63 provides for the applicable rules in cases where the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, thus:

“1. When in the commission of the deed there is present only one aggravating circumstance, the greater penalty shall be applied.
“2. When there are neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the commission of the deed, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
“3. When the commission of the act is attended by some mitigating circumstance and there is no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
“4. When both mitigating and aggravating circumstances attended the commission of the act, the courts shall reasonable allow them to offset one another in consideration of their number and importance, for the purpose of applying the penalty in accordance with the preceding rules, according to the result of such compensation.”

The prosecution failed to establish any aggravating circumstance. While nighttime was alleged in the Informations, it does not appear that it was purposely sought by or afforded some degree of impunity to appellant. The mere fact that the rape was committed at nighttime with nothing more than that does not make nocturnity an aggravating circumstance. Neither can the alleged abuse of superior strength be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance. No proof was offered that superior strength was deliberately taken advantage of.

No mitigating circumstance as provided for in Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code was established.

Hence, pursuant to Article 63 (2) of the Revised Penal Code, the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua should be imposed upon appellant for each of the five (5) counts of rape.

Civil indemnity must be awarded to complainant Aileen S. Alba. Civil indemnity, which is mandatory in a finding of rape, is distinct from and should not be denominated as moral damages which are based on different jural foundations and assessed by the court in the exercise of sound discretion. In accordance with prevailing jurisprudence, we grant civil indemnity of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) in each case.

Moreover, exemplary damages should be awarded. In the recent case of People vs. Yonto we reiterated our ruling in People vs. Catubig that exemplary damages are justified under Article 2230 of the Civil Code if there is an aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying. Since the qualifying circumstance of the use of a deadly weapon was present in the commission of the rapes subject of these cases, exemplary damages may be awarded to the offended party. Thus, an award in each case of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages should also be given to the complainant Aileen S. Alba.

WHEREFORE, the Joint Decision dated January 17, 1996, of Branch 38 of the Regional Trial Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan, finding accused Silverio Montemayor alias “Beriong” guilty beyond reasonable doubt of five (5) counts of rape of Aileen S. Alba with the use of a deadly weapon is hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count and ordered to pay complainant Aileen S. Alba the amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, for each of the five (5) rapes, or a total of P625,000.00.

Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. No. 124474 & 139972-78, January 28, 2003 ]PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. SILVERIO MONTEMAYOR ALIAS ‘BERIONG”, ACCUSED-APPELLANT. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries