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G.R.No.194751.November26,2014.

*

AURORA N. DE PEDRO, petitioner, vs. ROMASAN
DEVELOPMENTCORPORATION,respondent.

Remedial Law Civil Procedure Jurisdiction Courts may exercise


theirpowersvalidlyandwithbindingeffectiftheyacquirejurisdictionover:
(a)thecauseofactionorthesubjectmatterofthecase(b)thethingorthe
res(c)thepartiesand(d)theremedy.Courtsmayexercisetheirpowers
validlyandwithbindingeffectiftheyacquirejurisdictionover:(a)thecause
of action or the subject matter of the case (b) the thing or the res (c) the
partiesand(d)theremedy.Jurisdictionoverthesubjectmatterreferstothe
powerorauthorityofcourtstohearanddecidecasesofageneralclass.Itis
conferred by the Constitution or by law. It is not acquired through
administrative issuances or court orders. It is not acquired by agreement,
stipulation, waiver, or silence. Any decision by a court, without a law
vesting jurisdiction upon such court, is void. Jurisdiction over the thing or
res is the power of the court over an object or thing being litigated. The
court may acquire jurisdiction over the thing by actually or constructively
seizing or placing it under the courts custody. Jurisdiction over the parties
refers to the power of the court to make decisions that are binding on
persons. The courts acquire jurisdiction over complainants or petitioners as
soon as they file their complaints or petitions. Over the persons of
defendants or respondents, courts acquire jurisdiction by a valid service of
summons or through their voluntary submission. Generally, a person
voluntarilysubmitstothecourtsjurisdictionwhenheorsheparticipatesin
thetrialdespiteimproperserviceofsummons.
ConstitutionalLawDueProcessDueprocessrequiresthatthosewith
interest to the thing in litigation be notified and given an opportunity to
defendthoseinterests.Dueprocessrequiresthatthosewithinteresttothe
thing in litigation be notified and given an opportunity to defend those
interests.Courts,asguardiansofconstitutionalrights,cannotbeexpectedto
deny persons their due process rights while at the same time be considered
asactingwithintheir

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*SECONDDIVISION.

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

jurisdiction. Violation of due process rights is a jurisdictional defect.


This court recognized this principle in Aducayen v. Flores, 51 SCRA 78
(1973). In the same case, this court further ruled that this jurisdictional
defectisremediedbyapetitionforcertiorari.
Remedial Law Civil Procedure Jurisdiction The cardinal precept is
that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights, courts are
oustedfromtheirjurisdiction.Therelationofdueprocesstojurisdictionis
recognized even in administrative cases wherein the standard of evidence is
relatively lower. Thus, in Montoya v. Varilla, 574 SCRA 831 (2008): The
cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional
rights, courts are ousted from their jurisdiction. The violation of a partys
right to due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue which cannot be
glossed over or disregarded at will. Where the denial of the fundamental
rightofdueprocessisapparent,adecisionrenderedindisregardofthatright
isvoidforlackofjurisdiction.
SameSameSameThecourtdoesnothavecompetenceorauthorityto
proceedwithanactionforannulmentofcertificateoftitlewithoutgivingthe
person,inwhosenamethecertificatewasissuedalltheopportunitiestobe
heard.Anactionforannulmentofcertificateoftitleisquasiinrem. It is
notanactionagainstapersononthebasisofhispersonalliability,butan
action that subjects a persons interest over a property to a burden. The
actionforannulmentofacertificateoftitlethreatenspetitionersinterestin
theproperty.Petitionerisentitledtodueprocesswithrespecttothatinterest.
The court does not have competence or authority to proceed with an action
forannulmentofcertificateoftitlewithoutgivingtheperson,inwhosename
thecertificatewasissuedalltheopportunitiestobeheard.
Same Same Same Service of Summons A decision rendered without
proper service of summons suffers a defect in jurisdiction.Regardless of
thenatureoftheaction,properserviceofsummonsisimperative.Adecision
renderedwithoutproperserviceofsummonssuffersadefectinjurisdiction.
Respondents institution of a proceeding for annulment of petitioners
certificateoftitleissufficienttovestthecourtwithjurisdictionovertheres,
but it is not sufficient for the court to proceed with the case with authority
andcompetence.

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

Same Same Same Same Personal Service of Summons Personal


serviceofsummonsisthepreferredmodeofserviceofsummons.Personal
serviceofsummonsisthepreferredmodeofserviceofsummons.Thus,as
arule,summonsmustbeservedpersonallyuponthedefendantorrespondent
whereverheorshemaybefound.Ifthedefendantorrespondentrefusesto
receivethesummons,itshallbetenderedtohimorher.Ifthedefendantor
respondentisadomesticjuridicalperson,personalserviceofsummonsshall
beeffecteduponitspresident,managingpartner,generalmanager,corporate
secretary,treasurer,orinhousecounselwhereverheorshemaybefound.
Same Same Same Same Substituted Service of Summons The rules
allowsummonstobeservedbysubstitutedserviceonlyforjustifiablecauses
andifthedefendantorrespondentcannotbeservedwithinreasonabletime.
Othermodesofservingsummonsmaybedonewhenjustified.Serviceof
summonsthroughothermodeswillnotbeeffectivewithoutshowingserious
attempts to serve summons through personal service. Thus, the rules allow
summonstobeservedbysubstitutedserviceonlyforjustifiablecausesand
if the defendant or respondent cannot be served within reasonable time.
Substitutedserviceiseffected(a)byleavingcopiesofthesummonsatthe
defendants residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then
residingtherein,or(b)byleavingthecopiesatdefendantsofficeorregular
placeofbusinesswithsomecompetentpersoninchargethereof.
SameSameSameSameServiceofSummonsbyPublicationService
ofsummonsbypublicationinanewspaperofgeneralcirculationisallowed
whenthedefendantorrespondentisdesignatedasanunknownownerorif
hisorherwhereaboutsareunknownandcannotbeascertainedbydiligent
inquiry.Service of summons by publication in a newspaper of general
circulation is allowed when the defendant or respondent is designated as an
unknown owner or if his or her whereabouts are unknown and cannot be
ascertained by diligent inquiry. It may only be effected after unsuccessful
attemptstoservethesummonspersonally,andafterdiligentinquiryastothe
defendantsorrespondentswhereabouts.
Same Same Same Same Service of Summons by Extraterritorial
ServiceServiceofsummonsbyextraterritorialserviceisallowed

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afterleaveofcourtwhenthedefendantorrespondentdoesnotreside
orisnotfoundinthecountryoristemporarilyoutofthecountry.Service
of summons by extraterritorial service is allowed after leave of court when
thedefendantorrespondentdoesnotresideorisnotfoundinthecountryor
istemporarilyoutofthecountry.
ConstitutionalLawDueProcessTheissuanceofajudgmentwithout
proper service of summons is a violation of due process rights.The
issuanceofajudgmentwithoutproperserviceofsummonsisaviolationof
due process rights. The judgment, therefore, suffers a jurisdictional defect.
The case would have been dismissible had petitioner learned about the case
whiletrialwaspending.Atthattime,amotiontodismisswouldhavebeen
proper. After the trial, the case would have been the proper subject of an
action for annulment of judgment. Petitioner learned about the action for
annulmentoftitleonlyaftertrial.Insteadoffilinganactionforannulmentof
judgment, however, she filed a motion for new trial without alleging any
proper ground. Rule 37 of the Rules of Court provides that a party may
moveandthecourtmaygrantanewtrialbasedonthefollowingcauses:(a)
Fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence which ordinary prudence
couldnothaveguardedagainstandbyreasonofwhichsuchaggrievedparty
hasprobablybeenimpairedinhisrightsor(b)Newlydiscoveredevidence,
whichhecouldnot,withreasonablediligence,havediscoveredandproduced
atthetrial,andwhichifpresentedwouldprobablyaltertheresult.
Remedial Law Civil Procedure Annulment of Judgments An action
for annulment of judgment may be filed to assail Regional Trial Court
(RTC) judgments when resort to other remedies can no longer be had
through no fault of petitioner.A petition for annulment of judgment is a
recourse that is equitable in character. It is independent of the case and is
allowed only in exceptional cases as where there is no available or other
adequate remedy. An action for annulment of judgment may be filed to
assailRegionalTrialCourtjudgmentswhenresorttootherremediescanno
longer be had through no fault of petitioner. Section 1 of Rule 47 of the
Rules of Civil Procedure provides: Section 1. Coverage.This Rule shall
governtheannulmentbytheCourtofAppealsofjudgmentsorfinalorders
and resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the
ordinaryremediesofnewtrial,appeal,petitionforrelief

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault


ofthepetitioner.Anactionforannulmentofjudgmentmaybebasedononly
twogrounds:1)extrinsicfraudand2)lackofjurisdiction.
Same Same Same Lack of jurisdiction being a valid ground for
annulmentofjudgments,circumstancesthatnegatethecourtsacquisitionof
jurisdiction including defective service of summons are causes for an
action for annulment of judgments.Lack of jurisdiction being a valid
ground for annulment of judgments, circumstances that negate the courts
acquisitionofjurisdictionincludingdefectiveserviceofsummonsare
causesforanactionforannulmentofjudgments.However,thiscourthadan
occasion to say that an action for annulment of judgment may not be
invoked(1)wherethepartyhasavailedhimselfoftheremedyofnewtrial,
appeal,petitionforrelief,orotherappropriateremedyandlostor(2)where
he has failed to avail himself of those remedies through his own fault or
negligence.Thus,anactionforannulmentofjudgmentisnotalwaysreadily
availableeveniftherearecausesforannullingajudgment.
Same Same Same Petitioners filing of the petition for annulment of
judgment after she had filed a motion for new trial and lost, with both
actionsraisingthesamegrounds,revealsanintenttosecureajudgmentin
her favor by abusing and making a mockery of the legal remedies provided
bylaw.Petitioners filing of the petition for annulment of judgment after
she had filed a motion for new trial and lost, with both actions raising the
samegrounds,revealsanintenttosecureajudgmentinherfavorbyabusing
and making a mockery of the legal remedies provided by law. This kind of
abuseiswhatthiscourttriestoguardagainstwhenitlimiteditsapplication,
and stated in some of the cases that an action for annulment of judgment
cannotbeinvokedwhenotherremedieshadalreadybeenavailed.
Same Same Annulment of Certificate of Titles An action for
annulment of certificate of title is a direct attack on the title because it
challenges the judgment decree of title.An action for annulment of
certificate of title is a direct attack on the title because it challenges the
judgment decree of title. In Goco v. Court of Appeals, 617 SCRA 397
(2010),thiscourtsaidthat[a]nactionforannulmentofcertifi

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catesoftitletoproperty[goes]intotheissueofownershipoftheland
coveredbyaTorrenstitleandthereliefgenerallyprayedforbytheplaintiff
istobedeclaredasthelandstrueowner.Hence,therewasnoviolationof
Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 when petitioners title was
declarednullandvoidbytheRegionalTrialCourt.
Same Same Litis Pendentia Requisites of litis pendentia.The
requisites of litispendentia are: (a) identity of parties, or interests in both
actions(b)identityofrightsassertedandreliefprayedfor,thereliefbeing
founded on the same facts and (c) the identity of the two preceding
particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other action, will,
regardlessofwhichpartyissuccessful,amounttoresjudicataintheaction
underconsideration.
Land Titles Certificate of Title It is true that certificates of title are
indefeasible and binding upon the whole world.Petitioner argues that her
certificate of title was erroneously declared null and void because based on
OCT No. P691, she is the real owner of the property. It is true that
certificates of title are indefeasible and binding upon the whole world.
However, certificates of title do not vest ownership. They merely evidence
titleorownershipoftheproperty.Courtsmay,therefore,cancelordeclarea
certificateoftitlenullandvoidwhenitfindsthatitwasissuedirregularly.
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of
Appeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
Quisumbing,Fernando&JavellanaLawOfficeforpetitioner.
RRVLegalConsultancyFirmforrespondent.


LEONEN,J.:

Regardlessofthetypeofactionwhetheritisinpersonam,in
remorquasiinremthepreferredmodeofserviceofsummonsis
personalservice.Toavailthemselvesof

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

substitutedservice,courtsmustrelyonadetailedenumerationof
the sheriffs actions and a showing that the defendant cannot be
served despite diligent and reasonable efforts. The sheriffs return,
which contains these details, is entitled to a presumption of
regularity,andonthisbasis,thecourtmayallowsubstitutedservice.
Should the sheriffs return be wanting of these details, substituted
servicewillbeirregularifnootherevidenceoftheeffortstoserve
summonswaspresented.
Failure to serve summons will mean that the court failed to
acquirejurisdictionoverthepersonofthedefendant.However,the
filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration is tantamount to
voluntaryappearance.
This Rule 45 petition seeks the review of the Court of Appeals
July 7, 2010 decision in C.A.G.R. S.P. No. 96471. The Court of
Appeals denied petitioners action for annulment of the Regional
TrialCourtdecision,which,inturn,nullifiedhercertificateoftitle.
Thiscaseoriginatedfromseparatecomplaintsfornullificationof
free patent and original certificates of title, filed against several
defendants.1 One of the defendants is petitioner Aurora De Pedro
(De Pedro).2 The complaints were filed by respondent Romasan
Development Corporation before the Regional Trial Court of
AntipoloCityonJuly7,1998.3
Respondent Romasan Development Corporation alleged in its
complaintsthatitwastheownerandpossessorofaparcel

_______________

1Rollo,pp.14,49,73,97.Thefollowingarethedefendantsinthecomplaintsfiled
byRomasanDevelopmentCorporationbeforethetrialcourt:CivilCaseNo.984936,
Nora Jocson, married to Carlito Jocson, et al. Civil Case No. 984937, Heirs of
MarcelinoSantos,etal.CivilCaseNo.984938,AuroradePedromarriedtoElpidio
dePedro,etal.CivilCaseNo.984939,WilsonDadia,etal.CivilCaseNo.984040,
PrudencioMarana,etal.
2Id.
3Id.

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of land in Antipolo City.4 The land was covered by Transfer


CertificateofTitle(TCT)No.236044.5
Based on respondents narrative, its representative, Mr. Rodrigo
Ko, discovered sometime in November 1996 that De Pedro put up
fencesonaportionofitsAntipoloproperty.6Mr.KoconfrontedDe
Pedro regarding her acts, but she was able to show title and
documentsevidencingherownership.7
Mr. Ko informed respondent about the documents.8 Upon
checkingwiththeCommunityEnvironmentandNaturalResources
OfficeDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources
(CENRODENR), it was discovered that the DENR issued free
patentscoveringportionsofrespondentspropertytothefollowing:

a.DefendantNoraJocson,marriedtoCarlitoJocsonOCTNo.P723,
FreePatentNo.04580291616
b. Defendants Heirs of Marcelino Santos[,] represented by Cristino
SantosOCTNo.P727,FreePatentNo.04580291919
c. Defendant Aurora de Pedro married to Elpidio de Pedro OCT No.
691,FreePatentNo.04580291914
d. Defendant Wilson Dadia OCT No. P722, Free Patent No. 045802
91915and
e.DefendantPrudencioMaranaOCTNo.
P721,FreePatentN[o].04580291923.9(Emphasissupplied)

_______________

4Id.,atpp.50and73.
5Id.
6Id.,atpp.50and74.
7Id.
8Id.,atp.74.
9Id.,atpp.51and74.

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation
Based on these free patents, the Register of Deeds issued titles
coveringportionsofrespondentsproperty.10OriginalCertificateof
Title(OCT)No.691,FreePatentNo.04580291914wassignedby
theProvincialEnvironmentandNaturalResourcesOfficeinfavorof
DePedroonDecember9,1991.11
Respondent further alleged in its separate complaints that the
government could not legally issue the free patents because at the
timeoftheirissuance,thelandwasalreadyreleasedfordisposition
to private individuals.12 OCT No. 438, from which respondents
TCTNo.236044originated,wasalreadyissuedasearlyasAugust
30,1937.13
Respondent also prayed for the payment of attorneys fees and
exemplarydamages.14
AttemptstopersonallyservesummonsonDePedrofailed.15The
officersreturn,datedFebruary22,1999readsinpart:

OFFICERSRETURN
IHEREBYCERTIFYthatonthe15th and18thdayofFebruary,1999,I
have served a copy of the summons with complaint and annexes dated
January 29, 1999 issued by Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region,
Branch 74, Antipolo City upon defendants in the above entitled case on the
following,towit:
1.AURORAN.DEPEDROUnservedforthereasonthataccording
tothemessengerofPostOfficeofPasigtheir[sic]isnopersoninthesaid
givenaddress.16

_______________

10Id.,atp.74.
11Id.,atpp.74and155.
12Id.,atp.74.
13Id.,atpp.51and74.
14Id.,atp.74.
15Id.,atpp.14,5052,74and97.
16Id.,atp.14.

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Respondentfiledamotiontoservesummonsandthecomplaint
bypublication.17
On August 17, 1998, the Regional Trial Court granted the
motion.18 The summons and the complaint were published in
PeoplesBalitaonitsApril24,May1,andMay8,1998issues.19
OnJuly15,1999,respondentmovedtodeclarealldefendantsin
itscomplaints,includingDePedro,indefaultforfailuretofiletheir
answers.20 Respondent also moved to be allowed to present
evidenceexparte.21 The Regional Trial Court granted the motions
onAugust19,1999.22
On January 7, 2000, the Regional Trial Court issued an order
declaringasnullitythetitlesandfreepatentsissuedtoalldefendants
in respondents complaint, including the free patent issued to De
Pedro.23Thus:

Accordingly the Court declares as a nullity the following titles and Free
PatentsissuedtotheDefendants.
a. Defendant Nora Jocson married to Carlito Jocson OCT No. P723
FreePatentN[o].04580291616
b.DefendantHeirsofMarcelinoSantosrepresentedbyCristinoSantos
OCTN[o].P727FreePatentN[o].04580291919
c. Defendant Aurora N. de Pedro married to Elpidio de Pedro OCT
No.P691FreePatentNo.04580291914

_______________

17Id.,atpp.52,7475.
18Id.,atp.75.
19Id.,atpp.52and75.
20Id.
21Id.
22Id.,atpp.1415,52and75.
23Id.,atpp.15,52,78and98.

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

d. Defendant Wilson Dadia OCT No. P722 Free Patent No. 045802
91915
e. Defendant Prudencio Marana OCT No. P721 Free Patent N[o].
04580291923.
There being clear bad faith on the part of the Private defendants in
obtainingsaidFreePatentsandtitlesintheirnamescoveringtheportionsof
the property of the plaintiff, said defendants are each ordered to pay to the
plaintiff the amount of P20,000.00 as attorneys fees, P3,000.00 as
appearancefeeandalsoP50,000.00asmoraldamageswithcostsagainstsaid
privatedefendants.
OncetheDecisionbecomesfinalandinordertogivefullforceandeffect
to the Decision of the Court nullifying the titles and patents issued to the
defendants, the latter are directed to surrender the same within a period of
ten(10)daysfromthefinalityofsaidDecisiontotheRegistryofDeedsof
Marikina City and failure on the part of the defendants to surrender the
owners duplicate of the titles in their possession, defendant Register of
Deeds of Marikina City is authorized to cancel the same without the
presentation of said owners duplicate of titles in the possession of the
defendants.24(Emphasissupplied)


In so ruling, the Regional Trial Court noted that none of the
defendants, including De Pedro, filed an answer to respondents
complaints.25 The Regional Trial Court also noted the committee
report admitting CENROs irregularity in the issuance of the free
patentstothedefendantsinthecase.26
TheRegionalTrialCourtalsofoundthatthetitleandfreepatent
issued to De Pedro were void.27 As early as August 30, 1937, or
beforethefreepatentswereissuedtothedefendants

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24Id.,atp.78.
25Id.,atp.77.
26Id.

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in the case, OCT No. 438 was already issued to the propertys
originalowner.28Hence,thepropertywasalreadysegregatedfrom
the mass of public domain that can be disposed by the
government.29
OnMarch30,2000,DePedro,throughcounsel,filedbeforethe
RegionalTrialCourtamotionfornewtrial,allegingthatthecounsel
received notice of the January 7, 2000 decision on March 16,
2000.30
De Pedro argued that the Regional Trial Court did not acquire
jurisdiction over her person because of improper and defective
service of summons. Citing the officers return dated February 22,
1999,DePedropointedoutthatsummonswasnotpersonallyserved
upon her for the reason that according to the messenger of Post
OfficeofPasigtheir(sic)isnopersoninthesaidgivenaddress.31
De Pedro also argued that the case should have been dismissed
on the ground of litis pendentia. She alleged that there was a
pending civil case filed by her, involving the same property, when
respondentfiledthecomplaintsagainstherandseveralothers.32
OnSeptember30,2002,theRegionalTrialCourtissuedanorder
denyingDePedrosmotionfornewtrial.33
TheRegionalTrialCourtruledthatsummonswasvalidlyserved
uponDePedrothroughpublication,inaccordancewith

_______________

27Id.
28Id.
29Id.
30 Id., at pp. 15 and 7985. See also p. 98. Based on petitioners petition for
annulment of judgment, [m]embers of petitioners family received notice of this
DECISIONonlyon16March2000.Page18ofthepetitionforreviewalsomentioned
thatpetitionersfamilyreceivedtheCourtofAppealsdecisiononMarch16,2000.On
thesameday,theyallegedlycontactedtheircounsel.
31Id.,atp.79.
32Id.,atpp.15,83and8690.
33Id.,atpp.15,5455and9192.

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

the Rules of Court.34 Moreover, counting from the date of the


summonspublicationbeginningonMarch2,2000,themotionfor
new trial was filed beyond the 15day period within which the
motionmaybefiled.35Therefore,theRegionalTrialCourtdecision
hadbecomefinalandexecutory.36
TheRegionalTrialCourtalsoruledthatthereckoningperiodfor
filing the motion for new trial cannot be De Pedros counsels
receiptofthedecision.Thisisbecauseatthetimeoftheissuanceof
thecourtsdecision,whichhadalreadybecomefinalandexecutory,
DePedroscounselwasyettoenterhisappearanceforDePedro.37
De Pedro filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of
Appeals, alleging that the Regional Trial Court committed grave
abuseofdiscretionwhenitdeniedhermotionfornewtrial.38
OnMarch30,2006,theCourtofAppealsdismissedthepetition
forcertiorariforlackofmerit,andaffirmedthedenialofDePedros
motionfornewtrial.39
The Court of Appeals noted De Pedros belated filing of her
motion for new trial. The Court of Appeals also noted De Pedros
failuretoallegeanygroundthatwouldjustifythegrantofamotion
fornewtrialunderRule37,Section1oftheRevisedRulesofCivil
Procedure.40
DePedrosmotionforreconsiderationwasdeniedintheCourtof
AppealsresolutiondatedAugust24,2006.41
De Pedro elevated the case to this court, but this was likewise
deniedintheresolutiondatedOctober4,2006forfailure
_______________

34Id.,atp.91.
35Id.,atpp.54and91.
36Id.,atpp.5455and91.
37Id.,atp.92.
38Id.,atp.55.
39Id.
40Id.,atp.56.
41Id.,atp.57.

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to pay the Special Allowance for the Judiciary and sheriffs


fees.42
OnOctober11,2006,DePedrofiledbeforetheCourtofAppeals
a petition for annulment of the January 7, 2000 judgment of the
Regional Trial Court43 on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, litis
pendentia,andforhavingbeendispossessedofherpropertywithout
dueprocess.
CitingPantaleonv.Asuncion,44DePedropointedoutthat[d]ue
process of law requires personal service to support a personal
judgment,and,whentheproceedingisstrictlyinpersonambrought
to determine the personal rights and obligations of the parties,
personal service within the state or a voluntary appearance in the
case is essential to the acquisition of jurisdiction [so] as to
constitute compliance with the constitutional requirement of due
process.45
De Pedro also claimed to be the real owner of the property by
virtueofOCTNo.P691.46ShepointedoutthatthesameRegional
Trial Court branch ordered the reconstitution of her title to the
propertyin1997.47TheRegionalTrialCourtalsoissuedacertificate
of finality stating that an Entry of Judgment had already been
issuedbytheCourtofAppealsdatedJanuary16,2006.48
OnJuly7,2010,theCourtofAppealspromulgateditsdecision
denying De Pedros petition for annulment of judgment.49 The
dispositiveportionoftheCourtofAppealsdecisionreads:

_______________

42Id.
43Id.,atpp.16and93116.
44105Phil.761,766(1959)[PerJ.Concepcion,EnBanc].
45Rollo,p.94.
46Id.,atp.109.
47Id.
48Id.,atpp.109and158.
49Id.,atpp.16and4962.TheCourtofAppealsdecision,docketedasC.A.G.R.
S.P.No.96471,waspennedbyPresidingJustice

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

WHEREFORE,thispetitionisherebyDENIED.50


TheCourtofAppealsruledthatsincepetitioneralreadyavailed
herself of the remedy of new trial, and raised the case before the
CourtofAppealsviapetitionforcertiorari,shecannolongerfilea
petitionforannulmentofjudgment.51
DePedrosmotionforreconsiderationwasdeniedonDecember
3,2010:52

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion for reconsideration is


DENIEDforlackofmerit.53


OnJanuary13,2011,DePedrofiledbeforethiscourtaRule45
petition, seeking the reversal of the July 7, 2010 Court of Appeals
decisionandtheDecember3,2010CourtofAppealsresolution.54
Theissuesinthiscaseare:
I.Whetherthetrialcourtdecisionwasvoidforfailureofthetrial
courttoacquirejurisdictionoverthepersonofpetitionerAuroraN.
DePedroand
II. Whether filing a motion for new trial and petition for
certiorariisabarfromfilingapetitionforannulmentofjudgment.
Petitioner argues that respondents prayer for attorneys fees,
appearance fees, exemplary damages, and costs of suit sought to
establishpersonalobligationsuponpetitionerin

_______________

AndresB.Reyes,Jr.,withAssociateJusticesRamonM.Bato,Jr.,andMarioV.
Lopez,concurring.
50Id.,atp.61.
51Id.,atp.60.
52Id.,atpp.16and6365.
53Id.,atp.65.
54Id.,atp.12.

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favorofrespondent.55Hence,thecasefiledbyrespondentbefore
theRegionalTrialCourtwasanactioninpersonam,whichrequired
personal service upon her for the courts acquisition of jurisdiction
over her person.56 In this case, the Regional Trial Court allowed
service of summons by publication instead of ordering that
summons be served by substituted service.57 Improper service of
summonsrenderedthetrialcourtdecisionnullandvoid.58Itmeans
that the court could not acquire jurisdiction over the person of
petitioner.59
Petitioner also argues that respondents complaints were
dismissibleonthegroundoflitispendentia,pointingtothealleged
pending case between the same parties and involving same subject
matter at the time when respondent filed its complaint before the
RegionalTrialCourtin1998.60Theallegedpendingcasewasfiled
in 1997 by petitioner and her spouse against respondent, seeking
enforce[ment]oftheirrightsasowners,andclaim[ing]damagesfor
theunlawfulandillegalactsofdispossession,terrorismandviolence
which they, their family and their close relatives were subjected to
by[respondent].61
Onherownershipoftheproperty,petitionerarguesthatshewas
able to obtain OCT No. P691 in 1991 in strict and faithful
compliancewithalltherequirements.62WhentheRegisterofDeeds
losttherecordspertainingtotheproperty,theRegionalTrialCourt
orderedthereconstitutionofthetitle

_______________

55Id.,atp.19.
56Id.
57Id.,atp.20.
58Id.
59Id.,atp.25.
60Id.,atpp.2829.
61Id.,atpp.2930.
62Id.,atp.31.

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68 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
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on September 23, 1997.63 The same trial court issued the


certificateoffinalityoftheorderonMarch16,2006.64
Moreover, petitioner refers to a counteraffidavit issued by a
certain Jesus Pampellona, Deputy Public Land Inspector of
CENROAntipolo,inthepreliminaryinvestigationofacasebefore
theDepartmentofJustice,docketedasI.S.No.99503andentitled:
Rodrigo Sy v. Maximo Pentino, et al. Petitioner highlights
Pampellonas statements that the free patent applicants for the
propertywerefoundtobeinactual,public,adverseandcontinuous
possession on the specific lots applied for by them with several
improvements like the house of Mrs. Aurora de Pedro and several
fruit[]bearing trees with an average age of 2025 years scattered
withinthetwelve(12)hectaresareaappliedforbytheabovenamed
applicants65Basedontheaffidavit,Pampellonawasunaware,at
thetime,ofanyprevioustitleissuedinfavorofanypersonorentity
coveringthesubjectlotsabovementionedastherewasatthattime,
no existing record, both in the CENRO, Antipolo, Rizal, or at the
Land Management Bureau in Manila, attesting to the issuance of
previoustitlesonthesubjectlots.66
Lastly,petitionerarguesthatthetrialcourtdecisionwasnulland
void, considering that petitioners title was cancelled in
contraventionofSection48ofPresidentialDecreeNo.1529,which
prohibitscollateralattackuponcertificatesoftitle.67
In its comment, respondent argues that the process server tried
other forms of substituted service, including service by registered
mail.68

_______________

63Id.,atp.32.
64Id.
65Id.
66Id.,atp.34.
67Id.,atp.39.
68 Id., at p. 181. This statement is footnoted, thus: According to the Officers
Returndated22February1999,themessenger(sic)ofPasigCityPostOfficereported
thatthereisnopersonintheresi

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Respondentalsoarguesthatpetitionerwasinevidentmaliceand
bad faith when she allegedly did not disclose in her petition other
actions taken by her after the Regional Trial Court had denied her
motion for new trial.69 Particularly, petitioner filed a petition for
certioraribeforetheCourtofAppeals,pertainingtothetrialcourts
denialofthemotionfornewtrial.70Whenthepetitionforcertiorari
was denied, petitioner also filed a petition for review before this
court, which was also denied.71 For these reasons, petitioners
petitionforreviewbeforethiscourtdeservesoutrightdismissal.72

I
Thesheriffsreturnmustshowthedetailsoftheeffortsexertedto
personallyservesummonsupondefendantsorrespondents,before
substitutedserviceorservicebypublicationisavailed

Courtsmayexercisetheirpowersvalidlyandwithbindingeffect
iftheyacquirejurisdictionover:(a)thecauseofactionorthesubject
matterofthecase(b)thethingortheres(c)thepartiesand(d)the
remedy.

_______________

dentialaddressofpetitionerDePedrowhichreadilyshowsthatpersonalservice
includingotherformsofsubstitutedservicebyleavingcopiesofthesummonsatthe
defendants residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing
thereinasstatedundertheRulesevenservicebyregisteredmailcannotbepossibly
doneunderthecircumstancesthustheresorttopublicationsinceitbecameapparent
atthattimethatpetitionerDePedroswhereaboutswasunknown.
69Id.,atp.180.
70Id.,atp.183.
71Id.,atp.184.
72Id.,atp.185.

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70 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

Jurisdiction over the subject matter refers to the power or


authorityofcourtstohearanddecidecasesofageneralclass.73Itis
conferredbytheConstitutionorbylaw.74Itisnotacquiredthrough
administrative issuances or court orders. It is not acquired by
agreement, stipulation, waiver,75 or silence.76 Any decision by a
court,withoutalawvestingjurisdictionuponsuchcourt,isvoid.
Jurisdictionoverthethingorresisthepowerofthecourtoveran
object or thing being litigated. The court may acquire jurisdiction
over the thing by actually or constructively seizing or placing it
underthecourtscustody.77
Jurisdiction over the parties refers to the power of the court to
make decisions that are binding on persons. The courts acquire
jurisdiction over complainants or petitioners as soon as they file
their complaints or petitions. Over the persons of defendants or
respondents, courts acquire jurisdiction by a valid service of
summons or through their voluntary submission.78 Generally, a
personvoluntarilysubmitstothecourtsjurisdictionwhenheorshe
participatesinthetrialdespiteimproperserviceofsummons.
Courts79 and litigants must be aware of the limits and the
requirementsfortheacquisitionofcourtjurisdiction.Deci

_______________

73HeirsofValerianoS.Concha,Sr.v.Lumocso,564Phil.580,592593540SCRA
1,13(2007)[PerCJ.Puno,FirstDivision].
74Id.
75Id.
76PeraltaLabradorv.Bugarin,505Phil.409,415468SCRA308,313(2005)[Per
J.YnaresSantiago,FirstDivision].
77Biacov.PhilippineCountrysideRuralBank,544Phil.45,55515SCRA106,
113(2007)[PerJ.Tinga,SecondDivision].SeealsoRegnerv.Logarta,562Phil.862
537SCRA277(2007)[PerJ.ChicoNazario,ThirdDivision].
78Manotocv.CourtofAppeals,530Phil.454,467499SCRA21,33(2006)[Per
J.Velasco,Jr.,ThirdDivision].
79 See ACE Publication, Inc. v. Commissioner of Customs, 120 Phil. 143 11
SCRA147(1964)[PerJ.Paredes,EnBanc].

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sions or orders issued by courts outside their jurisdiction are


void.Complaintsorpetitionsfiledbeforethewrongcourtorwithout
acquiringjurisdictionoverthepartiesmaybedismissed.80
Petitioner argued that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction
overherpersonbecauseshewasnotproperlyservedwithsummons.
After the summons had returned unserved to petitioner because
there [was] no person in the said given address,81 the trial court
allowedthepublicationofthesummonstopetitioner.
Jurisdictionoverthepartiesisrequiredregardlessofthetypeof
actionwhethertheactionisinpersonam,inrem,orquasiinrem.
Inactionsin personam, the judgment is for or against a person
directly.82 Jurisdiction over the parties is required in actions in
personam because they seek to impose personal responsibility or
liabilityuponaperson.83
Courtsneednotacquirejurisdictionoverpartiesonthisbasisin
inremandquasiinremactions.Actionsinremorquasiinremare
not directed against the person based on his or her personal
liability.84
Actions in rem are actions against the thing itself. They are
binding upon the whole world.85 Quasi in rem actions are actions
involvingthestatusofapropertyoverwhichapartyhasinterest.86
Quasiinremactionsarenotbindinguponthe
_______________

80RulesofCourt,Rule16,Secs.1(a)and1(b).
81Rollo,p.70.
82 Domagas v. Jensen, 489 Phil. 631, 641 448 SCRA 663, 673 (2005) [Per J.
Callejo,Sr.,SecondDivision].
83Id.
84Biacov.PhilippineCountrysideRuralBank,supranote77atp.55p.115.See
alsoRegnerv.Logarta,supranote77.
85 See Muoz v. Yabut, G.R. No. 142676, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 344 [Per J.
LeonardoDeCastro,FirstDivision].
86Domagasv.Jensen,supraatp.642p.674.

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72 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
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whole world. They affect only the interests of the particular


parties.87
However,tosatisfytherequirementsofdueprocess,jurisdiction
overthepartiesininremandquasiinremactionsisrequired.
The phrase, against the thing, to describe in rem actions is a
metaphor.Itisnotthethingthatisthepartytoaninrem action
onlylegalornaturalpersonsmaybepartiesevenininremactions.
Againstthethingmeansthatresolutionofthecaseaffectsinterests
ofotherswhetherdirectorindirect.Italsoassumesthattheinterests
intheformofrightsordutiesattachtothethingwhichisthe
subjectmatteroflitigation.Inactionsinrem,ourprocedureassumes
anactivevinculumoverthosewithintereststothethingsubjectof
litigation.
Due process requires that those with interest to the thing in
litigation be notified and given an opportunity to defend those
interests. Courts, as guardians of constitutional rights, cannot be
expectedtodenypersonstheirdueprocessrightswhileatthesame
timebeconsideredasactingwithintheirjurisdiction.
Violation of due process rights is a jurisdictional defect. This
courtrecognizedthisprincipleinAducayenv.Flores.88Inthesame
case, this court further ruled that this jurisdictional defect is
remediedbyapetitionforcertiorari.89
Similarly in Vda. de Cuaycong v. Vda. de Sengbengco,90 this
courtheldthatadecisionthatwasissuedinviolationofapersons
dueprocessrightssuffersafatalinfirmity.91

_______________

87Id.
88 151A Phil. 556 51 SCRA 78 (1973) [Per J. Fernando, En Banc]. This case
involvesanactionforsumofmoney.
89Id.,atp.560p.82.
90110Phil.113(1960)[PerJ.Concepcion,EnBanc].
91Id.,atp.118.

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Therelationofdueprocesstojurisdictionisrecognizedevenin
administrative cases wherein the standard of evidence is relatively
lower.Thus,inMontoyav.Varilla:92

The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic


constitutionalrights,courtsareoustedfromtheirjurisdiction.Theviolation
of a partys right to due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue which
cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will. Where the denial of the
fundamental right of due process is apparent, a decision rendered in
disregardofthatrightisvoidforlackofjurisdiction.93


Anactionforannulmentofcertificateoftitleisquasiinrem.Itis
not an action against a person on the basis of his personal
liability,94 but an action that subjects a persons interest over a
property to a burden. The action for annulment of a certificate of
title threatens petitioners interest in the property. Petitioner is
entitled to due process with respect to that interest. The court does
not have competence or authority to proceed with an action for
annulmentofcertificateoftitlewithoutgivingtheperson,inwhose
namethecertificatewasissuedalltheopportunitiestobeheard.
Hence, regardless of the nature of the action, proper service of
summonsisimperative.Adecisionrenderedwithoutproperservice
ofsummonssuffersadefectinjurisdiction.Respondentsinstitution
of a proceeding for annulment of petitioners certificate of title is
sufficienttovestthecourtwithjurisdictionovertheres,butitisnot
sufficient for the court to proceed with the case with authority and
competence.

_______________

92595Phil.507574SCRA831(2008)[PerJ.ChicoNazario,EnBanc].
93Id.,atpp.520521p.843.
94 Biaco v. Philippine Countryside Rural Bank,supra note 77 at p. 55 p. 115
Regnerv.Logarta,supranote77.

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74 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

Personalserviceofsummonsisthepreferredmodeofserviceof
summons.95 Thus, as a rule, summons must be served personally
uponthedefendantorrespondentwhereverheorshemaybefound.
If the defendant or respondent refuses to receive the summons, it
shallbetenderedtohimorher.96
If the defendant or respondent is a domestic juridical person,
personal service of summons shall be effected upon its president,
managingpartner,generalmanager,corporatesecretary,treasurer,or
inhousecounselwhereverheorshemaybefound.97
Other modes of serving summons may be done when justified.
Service of summons through other modes will not be effective
without showing serious attempts to serve summons through
personal service. Thus, the rules allow summons to be served by
substitutedserviceonlyforjustifiablecausesandifthedefendantor
respondent cannot be served within reasonable time.98 Substituted
service is effected (a) by leaving copies of the summons at the
defendants residence with some person of suitable age and
discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at
defendantsofficeorregularplaceofbusinesswithsomecompetent
personinchargethereof.99
Service of summons by publication in a newspaper of general
circulation is allowed when the defendant or respondent is
designated as an unknown owner or if his or her whereabouts are
unknownandcannotbeascertainedbydiligentinquiry.100Itmay
only be effected after unsuccessful attempts to serve the summons
personally, and after diligent inquiry as to the defendants or
respondentswhereabouts.

_______________

95Supranote78atpp.467468p.33.
96RulesofCourt,Rule14,Sec.6.
97RulesofCourt,Rule14,Sec.11.
98RulesofCourt,Rule14,Sec.7.
99Id.
100RulesofCourt,Rule14,Sec.14.

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Service of summons by extraterritorial service is allowed after


leaveofcourtwhenthedefendantorrespondentdoesnotresideoris

notfoundinthecountryoristemporarilyoutofthecountry.101
notfoundinthecountryoristemporarilyoutofthecountry.101
If a defendant or respondent voluntarily appears in trial or
participatesintheproceedings,itisgenerallyconstruedassufficient
serviceofsummons.102
Inthiscase,summonswasservedbypublication.
A look into the content of the sheriffs return will determine if
the circumstances warranted the deviation from the rule preferring
personal service of summons over other modes of service. The
sheriffs return must contain a narration of the circumstances
showing efforts to personally serve summons to the defendants or
respondents and the impossibility of personal service of summons.
CitingHamiltonv.Levy,103 this court said of substituted service in
Domagasv.Jensen:104

The pertinent facts and circumstances attendant to the service of


summons must be stated in the proof of service or Officers Return
otherwise,anysubstitutedservicemadeinlieuofpersonalservicecannotbe
upheld.Thisisnecessarybecausesubstitutedserviceisinderogationofthe
usualmethodofservice.Itisamethodextraordinaryincharacterandhence
may be used only as prescribed and in the circumstances authorized by
statute. Here, no such explanation was made. Failure to faithfully, strictly,
and fully comply with the requirements of substituted service renders said
serviceineffective.105

_______________

101RulesofCourt,Rule14,Secs.1516.
102RulesofCourt,Rule14,Sec.20.
103398Phil.781344SCRA821(2000)[PerJ.YnaresSantiago,FirstDivision].
104Supranote82.
105Id.,atp.646p.678,citingHamiltonv.Levy,supraatpp.791792p.829.

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76 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

ThiscourtalsosaidinManotocv.CourtofAppeals:

Thedateandtimeoftheattemptsonpersonalservice,theinquiriesmade
tolocatethedefendant,thename/softheoccupantsoftheallegedresidence
or house of defendant and all other acts done, though futile, to serve the
summonsondefendantmustbespecifiedintheReturntojustifysubstituted
service. The form on Sheriffs Return of Summons on Substituted Service
prescribedintheHandbookforSheriffspublishedbythePhilippineJudicial
Academy requires a narration of the efforts made to find the defendant
personallyandthefactoffailure.
....
However,inviewofthenumerousclaimsofirregularitiesinsubstituted
service which have spawned the filing of a great number of unnecessary
special civil actions of certiorari and appeals to higher courts, resulting in
prolongedlitigationandwastefullegalexpenses,theCourtrulesinthecase
atbarthatthenarrationoftheeffortsmadetofindthedefendantandthefact
of failure written in broad and imprecise words will not suffice. The facts
andcircumstancesshouldbestatedwithmoreparticularityanddetailonthe
number of attempts made at personal service, dates and times of the
attempts, inquiries to locate defendant, names of occupants of the alleged
residence, and the reasons for failure should be included in the Return to
satisfactorily show the efforts undertaken. That such efforts were made to
personallyservesummonsondefendant,andthoseresultedinfailure,would
proveimpossibilityofpromptpersonalservice.
Moreover, to allow sheriffs to describe the facts and circumstances in
inexact terms would encourage routine performance of their precise duties
relating to substituted service for it would be quite easy to shroud or
concealcarelessnessorlaxityinsuchbroadterms.106

_______________

106Supranote78atpp.473474p.39.

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A sheriffs return enjoys the presumption of regularity in its


issuance if it contains (1) the details of the circumstances
surrounding the sheriffs attempt to serve the summons personally
uponthedefendantsorrespondentsand(2)theparticularsshowing
theimpossibilityofservingthesummonswithinreasonabletime.107
It does not enjoy the presumption of regularity if the return was
merelyproforma.
Failuretostatethefactsandcircumstancesthatrenderedservice
ofsummonsimpossiblerendersserviceofsummonsandthereturn
ineffective. In that case, no substituted service or service by
publicationcanbevalid.
This court in Manotoc explained that the presumption of
regularity in the issuance of the sheriffs return does not apply to
patentlydefectivereturns.Thus:

The court a quo heavily relied on the presumption of regularity in the


performance of official duty. It reasons out that [t]he certificate of service
bytheproperofficerisprimafacieevidenceofthefactssetoutherein,and
toovercomethepresumptionarisingfromsaidcertificate,theevidencemust
beclearandconvincing.
The Court acknowledges that this ruling is still a valid doctrine.
However,forthepresumptiontoapply,theSheriffsReturnmustshowthat
serious efforts or attempts were exerted to personally serve the summons
andthatsaideffortsfailed.Thesefactsmustbespecificallynarratedinthe
Return.Toreiterate,itmustclearlyshowthatthesubstitutedservicemustbe
made on a person of suitable age and discretion living in the dwelling or
residenceofdefendant.Otherwise,theReturnisflawedandthepresumption
cannotbeavailedof.Aspreviouslyexplained,theReturnofSheriffCaelas
did not comply with the stringent requirements of Rule 14, Section 8 on
substitutedservice.(Emphasissupplied)

_______________

107SeeGomezv.CourtofAppeals,469Phil.38,5152425SCRA98,106(2004)
[PerJ.AustriaMartinez,SecondDivision].

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78 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
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InthecaseofVenturanzav.CourtofAppeals,itwasheldthatxxxthe
presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions by the
sheriff is not applicable in this case where it is patent that the sheriffs
returnisdefective. (Emphasis supplied) While the Sheriffs Return in the
Venturanzacasehadnostatementontheeffortorattempttopersonallyserve
the summons, the Return of Sheriff Caelas in the case at bar merely
described the efforts or attempts in general terms lacking in details as
requiredbytherulinginthecaseofDomagasv.Jensenandothercases.Itis
as if Caelas Return did not mention any effort to accomplish personal
service.Thus,thesubstitutedserviceisvoid.108


Inthiscase,thesheriffsreturnstates:

OFFICERSRETURN

IHEREBYCERTIFYthatonthe15thand18thdayofFebruary,1999,I
have served a copy of the summons with complaint and annexes dated
January 29, 1999 issued by Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region,
Branch 74, Antipolo City upon defendants in the above entitled case on the
following,towit:
1.AURORAN.DEPEDROUnservedforthereasonthataccording
tothemessengerofPostOfficeofPasigtheir[sic]isnopersoninthesaid
givenaddress.109


This return shows no detail of the sheriffs efforts to serve the
summons personally upon petitioner. The summons was unserved
only because the post office messenger stated that there was no
Aurora N. De Pedro in the service address. The return did not
show that the sheriff attempted to locate petitioners whereabouts.
Moreover,itcannotbeconcludedbasedonthereturnthatpersonal
servicewasrenderedimpossible

_______________

108Supranote78atp.746pp.4142.
109Rollo,pp.14,5052,74and97.

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underthecircumstancesorthatservicecouldnolongerbemade
withinreasonabletime.
Thelackofanydemonstrationofeffortonthepartofthesheriff
toservethesummonspersonallyuponpetitionerisadeviationfrom
this courts previous rulings that personal service is the preferred
modeofservice,andthatthesheriffmustnarrateinhisorherreturn
theeffortsmadetoeffectpersonalservice.Thus,thesheriffsreturn
in this case was defective. No substituted service or service by
publicationwillbeallowedbasedonsuchdefectivereturn.
Theissuanceofajudgmentwithoutproperserviceofsummons
isaviolationofdueprocessrights.Thejudgment,therefore,suffers
a jurisdictional defect. The case would have been dismissible had
petitioner learned about the case while trial was pending. At that
time,amotiontodismisswouldhavebeenproper.Afterthetrial,the
casewouldhavebeenthepropersubjectofanactionforannulment
ofjudgment.
Petitioner learned about the action for annulment of title only
after trial. Instead of filing an action for annulment of judgment,
however,shefiledamotionfornewtrialwithoutalleginganyproper
ground. Rule 37 of the Rules of Court provides that a party may
move and the court may grant a new trial based on the following
causes:

(a)Fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence which ordinary


prudence could not have guarded against and by reason of which such
aggrievedpartyhasprobablybeenimpairedinhisrightsor
(b)Newly discovered evidence, which he could not, with reasonable
diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial, and which if presented
wouldprobablyaltertheresult.110
_______________

110RulesofCourt,Rule37,Sec.1.

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80 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
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Petitionerinsistedinhermotionfornewtrialthatthetrialcourt
didnotacquirejurisdictionoverherperson.Shedidnotallegethat
fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence impaired her
rights. Neither did she allege that she found newly discovered
evidence that could have altered the trial court decision. When her
motion for new trial was denied, she filed a petition for certiorari,
insistingthathermotionfornewtrialshouldhavebeengrantedon
the ground of lack of jurisdiction over her person. The Court of
Appealsdeniedthepetitionforherfailuretoallegeanygroundfor
new trial. We cannot attribute error on the part of the Court of
Appealsforthisdenialbecause,indeed,lackofjurisdictionisnota
groundforgrantinganewtrial.
What cannot be denied is the fact that petitioner was already
notified of respondents action for annulment of petitioners title
when she filed a motion for new trial and, later, a petition for
certiorari.Atthattime,petitionerwasdeemed,forpurposesofdue
process, to have been properly notified of the action involving her
title to the property. Lack of jurisdiction could have already been
raisedinanactionforannulmentofjudgment.
Thus,whenpetitionererroneouslyfiledhermotionfornewtrial
and petition for certiorari instead of an action for annulment of
judgment, she was deemed to have voluntarily participated in the
proceedingsagainsthertitle.Theactionsandremediesshechoseto
availboundher.Petitionersfailuretofileanactionforannulmentof
judgment at this time was fatal to her cause. We cannot conclude
nowthatshewasdenieddueprocess.

II

Petitionerisalreadybarredfromfilingapetitionforannulmentof
judgment

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A petition for annulment of judgment is a recourse that is
equitable in character.111 It is independent of the case112 and is
allowedonlyinexceptionalcasesaswherethereisnoavailableor
otheradequateremedy.113
An action for annulment of judgment may be filed to assail
Regional Trial Court judgments when resort to other remedies can
nolongerbehadthroughnofaultofpetitioner.Section1ofRule47
oftheRulesofCivilProcedureprovides:

Section1.Coverage.This Rule shall govern the annulment by the


Court of Appeals of judgments or final orders and resolutions in civil
actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the ordinary remedies of new
trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer
availablethroughnofaultofthepetitioner.


Anactionforannulmentofjudgmentmaybebasedononlytwo
grounds:1)extrinsicfraudand2)lackofjurisdiction.Section2of
Rule47oftheRulesofCourtstates:

_______________

111HeirsofMauraSov.Obliosca,566Phil.397,406542SCRA406,416(2008)
[Per J. Nachura, Third Division J. YnaresSantiago (Chairperson), JJ. Austria
Martinez, Corona {in lieu of J. ChicoNazario per Special Order No. 484 dated
January11,2008},andReyesconcurring]SeealsoCity Government of Tagaytay v.
Guerrero,616Phil.28,46600SCRA33,51(2009)[PerJ.Nachura,ThirdDivisionJ.
YnaresSantiago (Chairperson), JJ., ChicoNazario, Velasco, Jr., and Peralta,
concurring].
112Macalalagv.Ombudsman,468Phil.918,923424SCRA741,745(2004)[Per
J. Vitug, Third Division JJ. Sandoval Gutierrez, Corona and CarpioMorales,
concurring],citingCanlasv.CourtofAppeals, 247 Phil. 118 164 SCRA 160 (1988)
[PerJ.Sarmiento,SecondDivision].
113HeirsofMauraSov.Obliosca,supra,citingOrbetav.Sendiong,501Phil.478,
489463SCRA180,192(2005)[PerJ.Tinga,SecondDivision].

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Section2.GroundsforAnnulment.Theannulmentmaybebasedonly
onthegroundsofextrinsicfraudandlackofjurisdiction.
Extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could
havebeenavailedof,inamotionfornewtrialorpetitionforrelief.


Lack of jurisdiction being a valid ground for annulment of
judgments, circumstances that negate the courts acquisition of
jurisdictionincludingdefectiveserviceofsummonsarecauses
foranactionforannulmentofjudgments.114
However, this court had an occasion to say that an action for
annulmentofjudgmentmaynotbeinvoked(1)wherethepartyhas
availedhimselfoftheremedyofnewtrial,appeal,petitionforrelief,
orotherappropriateremedyandlostor(2)wherehehasfailedto
avail himself of those remedies through his own fault or
negligence.115 Thus, an action for annulment of judgment is not
always readily available even if there are causes for annulling a
judgment.
In this case, petitioners main grounds for filing the action for
annulment are lack of jurisdiction over her person, and litis
pendentia. These are the same grounds that were raised in the
motion for new trial filed before and denied by the Regional Trial
Court.
Applyingtheaboverules,werulethattheCourtofAppealsdid
noterrindenyingpetitionerspetitionforannulmentoftheRegional
TrialCourtsjudgment.Petitionerhadalreadyfiledamotionfornew
trial and petition for certiorari invoking lack of jurisdiction as
ground.
Petitionersfilingofthepetitionforannulmentofjudgmentafter
she had filed a motion for new trial and lost, with both actions
raisingthesamegrounds,revealsanintenttosecure

_______________

114Supranote78.
115 Heirs of Maura So v. Obliosca, supra note 111, citing Macalalag v.
Ombudsman,supranote112.

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ajudgmentinherfavorbyabusingandmakingamockeryofthe
legalremediesprovidedbylaw.
Thiskindofabuseiswhatthiscourttriestoguardagainstwhen
it limited its application, and stated in some of the cases that an
action for annulment of judgment cannot be invoked when other
remedieshadalreadybeenavailed.
AsthiscourtexplainedinMacalalagv.Ombudsman:116

Rule 47, entitled Annulment of Judgments or Final Orders and


Resolutions, is a new provision under the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
albeit the remedy has long been given imprimatur by the courts. The rule
coversannulmentbytheCourtofAppealsofjudgmentsorfinalordersand
resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the ordinary
remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate
remedies could no longer be availed of through no fault of the petitioner.
Anactionforannulmentofjudgmentisaremedyinlawindependentofthe
casewherethejudgmentsoughttobeannulledisrendered.Theconcernthat
the remedy could so easily be resorted to as an instrument to delay a final
andexecutoryjudgment,haspromptedsafeguardstobeputinplaceinorder
toavoidanabuseoftherule.Thus,theannulmentofjudgmentmaybebased
only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, and the
remedy may not be invoked (1) where the party has availed himself of the
remedy of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedy
and lost therefrom, or (2) where he has failed to avail himself of those
remediesthroughhisownfaultornegligence.117(Emphasissupplied)

_______________

116Macalalagv.Ombudsman,id.
117Id.,atpp.922923pp.744745,citedinRepublicv.GHoldings,Inc.,512
Phil.253,262263475SCRA608,617618(2005)[PerJ.Corona,ThirdDivision].

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84 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

Similarly,thiscourtruledinSigmaHomebuildingCorporationv.
InterAliaManagementCorporation,etal.:118

A petition for annulment of judgment is an extraordinary remedy and is


not to be granted indiscriminately by the Court. It is allowed only in
exceptionalcasesandcannotbeusedbyalosingpartytomakeamockeryof
a duly promulgated decision long final and executory. The remedy may not
be invoked where the party has availed himself of the remedy of new trial,
appeal,petitionforrelieforotherappropriateremedyandlost,orwherehe
has failed to avail himself of those remedies through his own fault or
negligence.
Litigationmustendsometime.Itisessentialtoaneffectiveandefficient
administration of justice that, once a judgment becomes final, the winning
party should not be deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must
thereforeguardagainstanyschemecalculatedtobringaboutthatundesirable
result. Thus, we deem it fit to finally put an end to the present
controversy.119(Emphasissupplied)


Thus, an action for annulment of judgment will not so easily
and readily lend itself to abuse by parties aggrieved by final
judgments.120 Petitioner cannot abuse the courts processes to
reviveacasethathasalreadybeenrenderedfinalagainstherfavor,
for the purpose of securing a favorable judgment. An action for
annulment of judgment cannot be used by petitioner who has lost
hercasethroughfaultofher

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118584Phil.233562SCRA237(2008)[PerJ.Corona,FirstDivision].
119Id.,atpp.239240p.244.
120Fraginalv.HeirsofToribiaBelmonteParaal,545Phil.425,432516SCRA
530,537(2007)[PerJ.AustriaMartinez,ThirdDivision].

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DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

own,tomakeacompletefarceofadulypromulgateddecision
thathaslongbecomefinalandexecutory.121

III

FilinganactionforannulmentoftitleisnotaviolationofSection
48ofPresidentialDecreeNo.1529

Petitionerinsiststhattheannulmentofhertitlewasaviolationof
Section48ofPresidentialDecreeNo.1529,whichprovides:

Sec.48.Certificate not subject to collateral attack.A certificate of


titleshallnotbesubjecttocollateralattack.Itcannotbealtered,modified,or
cancelledexceptinadirectproceedinginaccordancewithlaw.


Petitionerismistaken.InSarmiento,etal.v.CourtofAppeals,122
thiscourtsaid:

Anactionisdeemedanattackonatitlewhentheobjectoftheactionor
proceedingistonullifythetitle,andthuschallengethejudgmentpursuantto
whichthetitlewasdecreed.Theattackisdirectwhentheobjectoftheaction
is to annul or set aside such judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the
other hand, the attack is indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a
differentrelief,anattackonthejudgmentisneverthelessmadeasanincident
thereof.123

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121Republicv.GHoldings,Inc.,supranote117atp.262p.618.
122507Phil.101470SCRA99(2005)[PerJ.ChicoNazario,SecondDivision].
123Id.,atp.113pp.107108.

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86 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

Anactionforannulmentofcertificateoftitleisadirectattackon
thetitlebecauseitchallengesthejudgmentdecreeoftitle.
InGocov.CourtofAppeals,124 this court said that [a]n action
forannulmentofcertificatesoftitletoproperty[goes]intotheissue
of ownership of the land covered by a Torrens title and the relief
generally prayed for by the plaintiff is to be declared as the lands
trueowner.125
Hence, there was no violation of Section 48 of Presidential
DecreeNo.1529whenpetitionerstitlewasdeclarednullandvoid
bytheRegionalTrialCourt.
Petitioner, however, points to the following statement made by
thiscourtinanothercaseinvolvingthesesameparties:126

Theresolutionoftheissuewillnotinvolvethe
alteration, correction or modification either of OCT No. P691 under the
nameofpetitionerAuroradePedro,orTCTNo.236044underthenameof
respondentcorporation.Ifthesubjectpropertyisfoundtobeaportionofthe
property covered by OCT No. P691 but is included in the technical
description of the property covered by TCT No. 236044, the latter would
havetobecorrected.Ontheotherhand,ifthesubjectpropertyisfoundtobe
aportionofthepropertycoveredbyTCTNo.236044,butisincludedinthe
property covered by OCT No. P691, then the latter title must be rectified.
However,therectificationofeithertitlemaybemadeonlyviaanactionfiled
forthesaidpurpose,conformablywithSection48ofActNo.496.

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124 G.R. No. 157449, April 6, 2010, 617 SCRA 397 [Per J. Brion, Second
Division].
125Id.,atp.405,citingHeirsofAbadillav.Galarosa,527Phil.264494SCRA
675(2006)[PerJ.AustriaMartinez,FirstDivision].
126DePedrov.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation,492Phil.643452SCRA564
(2005)[PerJ.Callejo,Sr.,SecondDivision].

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....
A. The action of the petitioners against respondents, based on the
materialallegationsofthecomplaint,ifoneforrecoveryofpossessionofthe
subject property and damages. However, such action is not a direct but a
collateral attack of TCT No. 236044. Neither did the respondents directly
attackOCTNo.
P691intheiranswertothecomplaint.Althoughtherespondentsaverredin
said answer, by way of special and affirmative defenses, that the subject
property is covered by TCT No. 236044 issued in the name of the
respondent corporation, and as such the said respondent is entitled to the
possession thereof to the exclusion of the petitioners, such allegations does
notconstituteadirectattackonOCTNo.P691,butislikewiseacollateral
attackthereon...127


Petitionermisreadstheimportofwhatwesaidinthatcase.That
case involves petitioners action for recovery of possession and
damages against respondents. It also involved respondents
allegationsthatthepropertywascoveredbyacertificateoftitlein
its name and, therefore, its entitlement to the possession of the
property.Itdoesnotinvolveanactionforannulmentoftitle.
When this court said that such action is not a direct but a
collateralattackofTCTNo.236044orthatsuchallegationsdoes
[sic]notconstituteadirectattackonOCTNo.P691,butislikewise
acollateralattackthereon,wewerereferringtobothpartiesaction
forandallegationsofpossessoryrightsovertheproperty.Thiscourt
was not referring to an action for annulment of title, which is the
caseinvolvedhere.Toreiterate,anactionforannulmentconstitutes
adirectattackonacertificateoftitle.

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127Rollo,pp.3940.

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88 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

IV

Therequisitesoflitispendentiaarenotsatisfiedwhenrespondent
fileditsactionforannulmentoftitle

Petitioner argued that the case for annulment of title was
dismissible on the ground of litis pendentia because there was a
pendingcivilcasefiledbyheragainstrespondent.
The requisites of litis pendentia are: (a) identity of parties, or
interests in both actions (b) identity of rights asserted and relief
prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts and (c) the
identity of the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment
rendered in the other action, will, regardless of which party is
successful, amount to res judicata in the action under
consideration.128
Although both cases involve the same parcel of land, petitioner
wasnotabletoshowthattherewasidentityofthereliefprayedfor.
Areviewofthecomplaintinthesaidcivilcaseshowsthatitwasa
case for damages, for alleged improper conduct of respondent
relating the property. The action filed by respondent was an action
forannulmentofpetitionerstitle.
Petitionerwasalsonotabletoshowthatthereliefprayedforin
both cases were founded on the same facts. Petitioners complaint
fordamageswasfoundedontheallegedmisconductofrespondent.
Respondents action for annulment of title was founded on the
allegedirregularityintheissuanceofpetitionerstitle.

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128 Guevara v. BPI Securities Corporation, 530 Phil. 342, 358359 491 SCRA
613, 629630 (2006) [Per J. ChicoNazario, First Division], citing Jaban v. City of
Cebu,467Phil.458,471423SCRA56,66(2004)[PerJ.Callejo,Sr.,EnBanc].

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Hence,thepetitionerwasnotabletoshowthatalltherequisites
forlitispendentiaarepresent.Respondentsactionforannulmentof
titlecannotbedismissedonthisground.

V

Acertificateoftitledoesnotvestownership

Petitioner argues that her certificate of title was erroneously
declarednullandvoidbecausebasedonOCTNo.P691,sheisthe
realowneroftheproperty.
It is true that certificates of title are indefeasible and binding
upon the whole world. However, certificates of title do not vest
ownership.129 They merely evidence title or ownership of the
property.130Courtsmay,therefore,cancelordeclareacertificateof
titlenullandvoidwhenitfindsthatitwasissuedirregularly.
In this case, the trial court ruled based on the committee report
that the free patents and original certificate of title issued to
petitionerwereirregularlyissued,and,therefore,invalid.
TheprincipleofbarbypriorjudgmentisembodiedinRule39,
Section47(b)oftheRulesofCourt:
Section47.Effect of judgments or final orders.The effect of a
judgment or final order rendered by a court of the Philippines, having
jurisdictiontopronouncethejudgmentorfinalorder,maybeasfollows:
....
(b)In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to the
matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been
missedinrelationthereto,

_______________

129Carinov.InsularGovernment,212US449,457460.
130Id.

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90 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DePedrovs.RomasanDevelopmentCorporation

conclusive between the parties and their successorsininterest, by title


subsequent to the commencement of the action or special proceeding,
litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same
capacity[.](Emphasissupplied)


Inthiscase,thetrialcourt,byannullingpetitionerscertificateof
title and declaring its issuance irregular, directly adjudged
petitioners certificate of title as void. Because petitioner failed to
appeal and cause the annulment of the trial courts judgment as to
hertitlesvalidity,thisquestionisalreadybarred.Thisjudgmenthas
alreadyattainedfinalityandcannolongerbelitigated.
ThiscourtexplainedinFGUInsuranceCorporationv.Regional
TrialCourt131thedoctrineoffinalityofjudgment,thus:

Underthedoctrineoffinalityofjudgmentorimmutabilityofjudgment,a
decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and
maynolongerbemodifiedinanyrespect,evenifthemodificationismeant
tocorrecterroneousconclusionsoffactandlaw,andwhetheritbemadeby
thecourtthatrendereditorbytheHighestCourtoftheland.Anyactwhich
violatesthisprinciplemustimmediatelybestruckdown.132


In any case, even if petitioners original certificate of title was
not irregularly issued as she claims, her original certificate of title
was issued later than the title from which respondents title
originated. As a rule, original titles issued earlier prevail over
anotheroriginaltitleissuedlater.133Therefore,

_______________
131G.R.No.161282,February23,2011,644SCRA50[PerJ.Mendoza,Second
Division].
132Id.,atp.56.
133Carpov.AyalaLand,Inc.,G.R.No.166577,February3,2010,611SCRA436,
458[PerJ.LeonardoDeCastro,FirstDivisionCJ.Puno(Chairperson),JJ. Carpio
Morales,BersaminandVillarama,Jr.,concurring].

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petitioners laterissued title cannot prevail over respondents


title,whichwasderivedfromanearlierissuedoriginalcertificateof
title.
WHEREFORE,thepetitionisDENIED.TheCourtofAppeals
July7,2010decisioninC.A.G.R.S.P.No.96471isAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.

Carpio(Chairperson),DelCastillo,MendozaandReyes,**JJ.,
concur.

Petitiondenied,judgmentaffirmed.

Notes.In civil cases, jurisdiction over the person of the


defendantmaybeacquiredeitherbyserviceofsummonsorbythe
defendants voluntary appearance in court and submission to its
authority. (Optima Realty Corporation vs. Hertz Phil. Exclusive
Cars,Inc.,688SCRA317[2013])
Without a valid service of summons, the court cannot acquire
jurisdiction over the defendant, unless the defendant voluntarily
submits to it. (Philippine Womans Christian Temperance Union,
Inc. vs. Teodoro R. Yangco 2nd and 3rd Generation Heirs
Foundation,Inc.,720SCRA522[2014])
o0o

_______________

** Designated acting member per Special Order No. 1881 dated November 25,
2014.

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