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ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT, ESTATE OF FERDINAND E.

MARCOS, PRIME HOLDINGS, INC. ESTATE OF RAMON U. COJUANGCO AND IMELDA O. COJUANGCO G.R. No. 131127 June 8, 2000
FACTS: On July 16, 1987, the Republic of the Philippines he!ein"fte!, the Republic# file$ %ith the &"n$i'"nb"y"n " co(pl"int fo! Rescission, Recon)ey"nce, Restitution, *ccountin' "n$ +"("'es "'"inst ,e!$in"n$ -. ."!cos, /(el$" ."!cos "n$ P!i(e 0ol$in's, /nc. he!ein"fte!, P0/#, $oc1ete$ "s 2i)il 2"se No. 0002. *lle'in' o%ne!ship of the p!ope!ties of the ."!coses sou'ht to be fo!feite$ by the Republic, petitione! 3uchen'co file$ " (otion fo! inte!)ention "n$ co(pl"int4in4 inte!)ention on *u'ust 11, 1988, i(ple"$in' the Republic, the P!esi$enti"l 2o((ission on Goo$ Go)e!n(ent P2GG#, ,e!$in"n$ -. ."!cos, /(el$" ."!cos "n$ P0/ "s $efen$"nts4in4inte!)ention. Petitione! p"i$ " $oc1et fee of P500.00. On February 17, 1989, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution granting the motion for intervention and admitting the complaint in intervention. !he Republic filed a motion for reconsideration on "arch 1#, 1989, $hich petitioner opposed. On February 9, 199%, the Sandiganbayan denied the Republic&s motion for reconsideration. 'ence, the Republic and the ()**, on behalf of ('+, filed an ans$er to the complaint in intervention dated ,une 19, 199% and -ovember ., 199%, respectively. "ean$hile, ('+ filed a "anifestation and "otion, stating that +melda )o/uangco and the 0state of Ramon 1. )o/uangco claim o$nership of ('+. !hus, on "ay 21, 1992, petitioner moved for leave to admit amended complaint in intervention to implead the said claimants. On ,une 11, 1992, the Sandiganbayan, in open court, admitted the amended complaint in intervention. )onse3uently, amended ans$ers in intervention $ere filed by the Republic and the ('+ on ,uly ., 1992. On the other hand, the 0state of Ramon )o/uangco and +melda O. )o/uangco 4hereinafter, the )o/uangcos5 filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint in intervention, dated 6ugust .7, 1992, on the ground of failure to state a cause of action and lac8 of /urisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over the case, inasmuch as petitioner did not pay the correct doc8et fees. !hey argued that the amended complaint in intervention failed to state the amount of the claim or the value of the property sub/ect of the complaint, in violation of the doctrine laid do$n in Manchester Development Corporation, et al. v. Court of Appeals. On September 9, 1992, petitioner filed a second amended complaint in intervention $ith motion for leave. :ater, on September .8, 1992, he also opposed the motion to dismiss filed by ('+ and the )o/uangcos on September .8, 1992. ('+ and the )o/uangcos filed a reply alleging that since the amended complaint in intervention is substantially an action for the recovery of o$nership and possession of shareholdings in the (hilippine !elecommunications +nvestment )orporation 4(!+)5, Section 7 4a5 of Rule 1#1 of the Rules of )ourt applies, to $it; Sec. 7. Clerks of Regional Trial Courts. < 4a5 For filing an action or a permissive counter claim or money claim against an estate not based

on /udgment, or for filing $ith leave of court a third party, fourth party, etc. complaint, or a complaint in intervention . . . if . . . the stated value of the property in litigation is; 1. -ot more than (.%,%%%.%% (1.%.%% .. "ore than (.%,%%%.%% but less than (#%,%%%.%% 17%.%% 2. (#%,%%%.%% or more but less than (9%,%%%.%% .%%.%% #. (9%,%%%.%% or more but less than (8%,%%%.%% .7%.%% 7. (8%,%%%.%% or more but less than (1%%,%%%.%% #%%.%% 9. (1%%,%%%.%% or more but less than (17%,%%%.%% 9%%.%% 7. For each (1,%%%.%% in e=cess of (17%,%%%.%% 7.%% Further, respondents PHI and the Cojuangcos contend that as the action seeks to litigate the ownership and disposition of properties consisting of subject shares, the a ount of docket fees ust be based on the total !alue of the sa e. Petitioner filed a rejoinder dated -ovember .9, 1992, aintaining that no docket fees are pa"able to the Sandiganba"an , pursuant to Section 11 of (residential >ecree -o. 19%9, as amended, $hich provides; (roceedings free of charge. < 6ll proceedings in the Sandiganbayan shall be conducted at no cost to the complainant and?or his $itnesses. +n their sur re/oinder filed on ,anuary .8, 199#, respondents ('+ and the )o/uangcos countered that the reason for the above 3uoted Section 11 of (.>. 19%9 is that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganba"an at the ti e of its enact ent was li ited to cri inal actions. With the expansion of the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction to include civil cases, the pa" ent of docket fees has beco e a jurisdictional re#uire ent. On February 8, 199#, petitioner replied that the Sandiganbayan has no po$er or discretion to ignore or amend the provision in Section 11 of (.>. 19%9 simply on the basis of public policy. (etitioner points out that 0=ecutive Order -o. 1# issued by (resident )ora@on ). 63uino did not amend the said provision, hence, payment of doc8et fees in the Sandiganbayan is legally $ithout basis. On September .1, 199#, petitioner re filed his second amended complaint in intervention $ith motion to admit, $herein he sought to include A Realty )orporation as co plaintiff in intervention and to /oin +melda R. "arcos as the representative of the 0state of Ferdinand "arcos. On October 11, 199#, ('+ and the )o/uangcos opposed the motion to admit second amended complaint in intervention, contending that /urisdictional issues should first be resolved before the most recent motion is considered. 6 motion for early resolution $as filed by petitioner on October .7, 199#. 'e averred that since the main issues in the motion to dismiss filed by ('+ and the )o/uangcos d$ell on payment of doc8et fees and the amount thereof, $hich may possibly involve the /urisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, and it is unclear $hether the filing of the complaint in intervention tolled the running of the 1% year prescriptive period, there is a need for the Sandiganbayan to resolve the motion to dismiss as soon as possible. On "arch 21, 1997, petitioner o!ed that he be allowed to post a bond, to answer for whate!er docket fees he a" be held to pa", with the pra"er that the running of the prescripti!e period be dee ed tolled pending the resolution b" the Sandiganba"an of the otion to dis iss . +n a Resolution dated 6pril 17, 1997, the Sandiganbayan deferred the resolution of the motion

to dismiss until trial, as the grounds raised therein do not appear to be indubitable. "ean$hile, ('+ and the )o/uangcos opposed petitioner&s motion to post bond on the ground that the same should not be construed as a substitute for the actual payment of the proper doc8et fees, because payment of doc8et fees should not be sub/ect to any contingency. On the other hand, petitioner moved for the partial reconsideration of the Resolution dated 6pril 17, 1997 insofar as the deferment of the issue on payment of doc8et fees and the amount thereof. +n the alternative, petitioner prayed that his motion to post bond be granted. ('+ and the )o/uangcos also moved for the reconsideration of the 6pril 17, 1997 Resolution. "ean$hile, petitioner pra"ed for the denial of the otion to dis iss in !iew of the passage of $epublic Act %o& '(') $hich, li8e 0=ecutive Order 1#, did not amend Section 11 of (.>. 19%9. +n the meantime, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before this )ourt, doc8eted as *.R. -o. 1.2.9#, assailing public respondent&s decision to defer ad/udication on the issues raised in ('+&s and the )o/uangcos& motion to dismiss. !he petition for certiorari $as dismissed by this )ourt for being premature. On "arch .9, 1999, the Sandiganba"an issued a $esolution den"ing petitioner*s otion to post bond and ordering petitioner 4plaintiff in intervention therein5 to pa" the balance of the docket fee in the amount of (1#,#.7.%%. Petitioner paid with reser!ation. ('+ and the )o/uangcos filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the Sandiganbayan erred in the computation of the doc8et fees and in allo$ing petitioner to pay additional doc8et fees beyond the prescriptive period. !hey again invo8ed Rule 1#1, Section 7 4a5 of the Rules of )ourt and averred that the (!+), registered in the name of ('+, has a stated value of (1.9 billion. 6ccordingly, as petitioner claims to o$n 21B of (!+), $hich has a more recent value of (1,%78,.9%,899.79, he should be made to pay at least the sum of (7,291,17#.27. On "ay 7, 1999, 2% the Sandiganbayan denied ('+&s and the )o/uangcos& motion for reconsideration of its 6pril 17, 1997 Resolution. !hereafter, respondents ('+ and the )o/uangcos filed their ans$er to the amended complaint in intervention. On ,une 11, 1999, petitioner moved that the amount of (1#,#.7.%% be refunded to him, insisting that proceedings in the Sandiganbayan should be free of charge. !he Sandiganbayan, on October 9, 1999, issued the assailed resolution granting the motion to dismiss and denying petitioner&s motion to admit second amended complaint in intervention. (etitioner filed a motion for reconsideration dated October 2%, 1999, and ('+ and the )o/uangcos filed their opposition. !he Republic filed a manifestation dated >ecember .#, 1999 adopting the arguments raised by ('+ and the )o/uangcos. On October 9, 1997, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner&s motion for reconsideration. 'ence this petition. ISS+,: 6hethe! o! not, un$e! the un$ispute$ ci!cu(st"nces "t b"!, the Sandiganba"an a" dis iss the co plaint-in-inter!ention for alleged failure to pa" the correct a ount of docket fees on ti e. $+.I%/:

%0& Petition is /$A%T,1& 2le"!ly, petitione! $i$ not sleep on his !i'hts, "n$ p!esc!iption h"s not set in to b"! his !i'ht to see1 7u$ici"l !elief. 8o punish petitione! fo! public !espon$ent9s f"ilu!e to ti(ely $eci$e "n issue pi)ot"l to the success of his c"se %oul$ be settin' " b"$ p!ece$ent. /t %oul$ 'i)e t!i"l cou!ts unb!i$le$ po%e! "n$ "n unf"i! %e"pon to f!ust!"te the filin' of "ctions. 6e hol$ th"t public !espon$ent9s bel"te$ "ction "fte! p!olon'e$ in"ction on the issue of petitione!9s p"y(ent of $oc1et fees is " supe!)enin' e)ent beyon$ the in$epen$ent %ill "n$ cont!ol of petitione! th"t tolle$ the !unnin' of the p!esc!ipti)e pe!io$. *!ticle 11:5 of the 2i)il 2o$e is "pplic"ble by p"!"llelis(, to %it; !he period during $hich the obligee $as prevented by fortuitous event from enforcing his right is not rec8oned against him. *s e"!lie! st"te$, e<uity "n$ the e=t!"o!$in"!y ci!cu(st"nces su!!oun$in' the p!esent c"se necessit"te this !ulin'. ,o! "(on' the p"!ties in the c"se "t b"!, the Sandiganba"an is the ost e#uipped to afford petitioner the opportunit" to present his clai s. Not only th"t, but 'oin' b"c1 to the p!onounce(ents of this 2ou!t in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion, %he!e %e !eco'ni>e$ th"t the sufficienc" of the docket fees is a atter for the deter ination of the clerk of court and2or his dul" authori3ed docket clerk or clerk in-charge, the &"n$i'"nb"y"n coul$ h")e i((e$i"tely $!"%n petitione!9s "ttention if its cle!1 of cou!t foun$ $ifficulty in $ete!(inin' the "(ount of ch"!'e"ble $oc1et fees f!o( " !e"$in' of the co(pl"int. -)en in the celeb!"te$ c"se of Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, the t!i"l cou!t $i!ecte$ the pl"intiff the!ein to !ectify the fl"%s in its "(en$e$ co(pl"int. 8h"t %"y, not only coul$ the &"n$i'"nb"y"n h")e se"son"bly !esol)e$ the issues on $oc1et fees but it coul$ )e!y %ell h")e ti(ely settle$ petitione!9s $ile((" on %h"t to $o "n$ %h"t %"s !e<ui!e$ to p!ese!)e his !i'hts. Courts are andated to pro ptl" ad inister justice& 'aving the inherent po$er to amend and control the processes and orders, to ma8e them conformable to la$ and /ustice $e have the avo$ed duty to uphold the right of all persons to a speedy disposition of their cases and avert the precipitate loss of rights. Chile it may be argued that petitioner could have very $ell amended his complaint and alleged the monetary values of the properties he see8s to recover to comply $ith Rule 1#1, Section 74a5 of the Rules of )ourt, $e find, pro hac vice, that petitioner acted in good faith $hen he contended that proceedings before the Sandiganbayan are free of charge. !he present rule must, ho$ever, be stressed; parties filing civil actions before the Sandiganbayan are liable to pay the required docket fees. !he situation only differs in the case at bar because of petitioner&s honest conviction manifested in his filing of a reservation for the payments he made, after having been ordered by the Sandiganbayan on "arch .9, 1999 to pay the balance of (1#,#.7.%% and after the court denied his motion to post bond pending final resolution of the motion to dismiss. (etitioner&s position that subse3uent amendments to (> 19%9 did not e=pressly repeal Section 11 thereof is untenable. (etitioner failed to appreciate that the e=pansion of the Sandiganbayan&s /urisdiction to include civil cases impliedly amended the same and Section 1, Rule +D, (art + of the Revised Rules of the Sandiganbayan. "oreover, the Supre e Court enjo"s e4clusi!e

power to pro ulgate the rules on pleading, practice, and procedure . +n addition, Republic 6ct -o. 7977 amended Section 9 of (.>. 19%9 to read as follo$s; Rules of Procedure. < !he Rules of )ourt promulgated by the Supreme )ourt shall appl" to all cases and proceedings filed with the Sandiganba"an. . . . 'ence, Rule 1#1 Section 74a5 of the Rules of )ourt applies to petitioner&s complaint and?or amended complaints in intervention. (etitioner argues that R.6. 7977, having been promulgated on "arch 2%, 1997 should not be retroactively applied. !his is not so, as statutes regulating the procedure of the courts are applicable to actions pending and undeter ined at the ti e of their passage, thus, retrospective in such sense and to that e=tent.