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RULE 3

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Baguio City

EN BANC

G.R. No. 166620 April 20, 2010

ATTY. SYLVIA BANDA, CONSORICIA O. PENSON, RADITO V. PADRIGANO, JEAN R. DE


MESA, LEAH P. DELA CRUZ, ANDY V. MACASAQUIT, SENEN B. CORDOBA, ALBERT
BRILLANTES, GLORIA BISDA, JOVITA V. CONCEPCION, TERESITA G. CARVAJAL,
ROSANNA T. MALIWANAG, RICHARD ODERON, CECILIA ESTERNON, BENEDICTO CABRAL,
MA. VICTORIA E. LAROCO, CESAR ANDRA, FELICISIMO GALACIO, ELSA R. CALMA,
FILOMENA A. GALANG, JEAN PAUL MELEGRITO, CLARO G. SANTIAGO, JR., EDUARDO
FRIAS, REYNALDO O. ANDAL, NEPHTALIE IMPERIO, RUEL BALAGTAS, VICTOR R. ORTIZ,
FRANCISCO P. REYES, JR., ELISEO M. BALAGOT, JR., JOSE C. MONSALVE, JR., ARTURO
ADSUARA, F.C. LADRERO, JR., NELSON PADUA, MARCELA C. SAYAO, ANGELITO
MALAKAS, GLORIA RAMENTO, JULIANA SUPLEO, MANUEL MENDRIQUE, E. TAYLAN,
CARMELA BOBIS, DANILO VARGAS, ROY-LEO C. PABLO, ALLAN VILLANUEVA, VICENTE R.
VELASCO, JR., IMELDA ERENO, FLORIZA M. CATIIS, RANIEL R. BASCO, E. JALIJALI, MARIO
C. CARAAN, DOLORES M. AVIADO, MICHAEL P. LAPLANA, GUILLERMO G. SORIANO, ALICE
E. SOJO, ARTHUR G. NARNE, LETICIA SORIANO, FEDERICO RAMOS, JR., PETERSON
CAAMPUED, RODELIO L. GOMEZ, ANTONIO D. GARCIA, JR., ANTONIO GALO, A. SANCHEZ,
SOL E. TAMAYO, JOSEPHINE A.M. COCJIN, DAMIAN QUINTO, JR., EDLYN MARIANO, M.A.
MALANUM, ALFREDO S. ESTRELLA, and JESUS MEL SAYO, Petitioners,
vs.
EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, The Director General of the
Philippine Information Agency and The National Treasurer, Respondents.

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

The present controversy arose from a Petition for Certiorari and prohibition challenging the
constitutionality of Executive Order No. 378 dated October 25, 2004, issued by President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo (President Arroyo). Petitioners characterize their action as a class suit filed on
their own behalf and on behalf of all their co-employees at the National Printing Office (NPO).

The NPO was formed on July 25, 1987, during the term of former President Corazon C. Aquino
(President Aquino), by virtue of Executive Order No. 2851 which provided, among others, the
creation of the NPO from the merger of the Government Printing Office and the relevant printing
units of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). Section 6 of Executive Order No. 285 reads:

SECTION 6. Creation of the National Printing Office. There is hereby created a National Printing
Office out of the merger of the Government Printing Office and the relevant printing units of the
Philippine Information Agency. The Office shall have exclusive printing jurisdiction over the following:

a. Printing, binding and distribution of all standard and accountable forms of national,
provincial, city and municipal governments, including government corporations;
b. Printing of officials ballots;

c. Printing of public documents such as the Official Gazette, General Appropriations Act,
Philippine Reports, and development information materials of the Philippine Information
Agency.

The Office may also accept other government printing jobs, including government publications, aside
from those enumerated above, but not in an exclusive basis.

The details of the organization, powers, functions, authorities, and related management aspects of
the Office shall be provided in the implementing details which shall be prepared and promulgated in
accordance with Section II of this Executive Order.

The Office shall be attached to the Philippine Information Agency.

On October 25, 2004, President Arroyo issued the herein assailed Executive Order No. 378,
amending Section 6 of Executive Order No. 285 by, inter alia, removing the exclusive jurisdiction of
the NPO over the printing services requirements of government agencies and instrumentalities. The
pertinent portions of Executive Order No. 378, in turn, provide:

SECTION 1. The NPO shall continue to provide printing services to government agencies and
instrumentalities as mandated by law. However, it shall no longer enjoy exclusive jurisdiction over
the printing services requirements of the government over standard and accountable forms. It shall
have to compete with the private sector, except in the printing of election paraphernalia which could
be shared with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, upon the discretion of the Commission on Elections
consistent with the provisions of the Election Code of 1987.

SECTION 2. Government agencies/instrumentalities may source printing services outside NPO


provided that:

2.1 The printing services to be provided by the private sector is superior in quality and at a
lower cost than what is offered by the NPO; and

2.2 The private printing provider is flexible in terms of meeting the target completion time of
the government agency.

SECTION 3. In the exercise of its functions, the amount to be appropriated for the programs,
projects and activities of the NPO in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) shall be limited to its
income without additional financial support from the government. (Emphases and underscoring
supplied.)

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 378, government agencies and instrumentalities are allowed to
source their printing services from the private sector through competitive bidding, subject to the
condition that the services offered by the private supplier be of superior quality and lower in cost
compared to what was offered by the NPO. Executive Order No. 378 also limited NPOs
appropriation in the General Appropriations Act to its income.

Perceiving Executive Order No. 378 as a threat to their security of tenure as employees of the NPO,
petitioners now challenge its constitutionality, contending that: (1) it is beyond the executive powers
of President Arroyo to amend or repeal Executive Order No. 285 issued by former President Aquino
when the latter still exercised legislative powers; and (2) Executive Order No. 378 violates
petitioners security of tenure, because it paves the way for the gradual abolition of the NPO.

We dismiss the petition.

Before proceeding to resolve the substantive issues, the Court must first delve into a procedural
matter. Since petitioners instituted this case as a class suit, the Court, thus, must first determine if
the petition indeed qualifies as one. In Board of Optometry v. Colet,2 we held that "[c]ourts must
exercise utmost caution before allowing a class suit, which is the exception to the requirement of
joinder of all indispensable parties. For while no difficulty may arise if the decision secured is
favorable to the plaintiffs, a quandary would result if the decision were otherwise as those who were
deemed impleaded by their self-appointed representatives would certainly claim denial of due
process."

Section 12, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court defines a class suit, as follows:

Sec. 12. Class suit. When the subject matter of the controversy is one of common or general
interest to many persons so numerous that it is impracticable to join all as parties, a number of them
which the court finds to be sufficiently numerous and representative as to fully protect the interests of
all concerned may sue or defend for the benefit of all. Any party in interest shall have the right to
intervene to protect his individual interest.

From the foregoing definition, the requisites of a class suit are: 1) the subject matter of controversy is
one of common or general interest to many persons; 2) the parties affected are so numerous that it
is impracticable to bring them all to court; and 3) the parties bringing the class suit are sufficiently
numerous or representative of the class and can fully protect the interests of all concerned.

In Mathay v. The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company,3 the Court held that:

An action does not become a class suit merely because it is designated as such in the pleadings.
Whether the suit is or is not a class suit depends upon the attending facts, and the complaint, or
other pleading initiating the class action should allege the existence of the necessary facts, to wit,
the existence of a subject matter of common interest, and the existence of a class and the number of
persons in the alleged class, in order that the court might be enabled to determine whether the
members of the class are so numerous as to make it impracticable to bring them all before the court,
to contrast the number appearing on the record with the number in the class and to determine
whether claimants on record adequately represent the class and the subject matter of general or
common interest. (Emphases ours.)

Here, the petition failed to state the number of NPO employees who would be affected by the
assailed Executive Order and who were allegedly represented by petitioners. It was the Solicitor
General, as counsel for respondents, who pointed out that there were about 549 employees in the
NPO.4 The 67 petitioners undeniably comprised a small fraction of the NPO employees whom they
claimed to represent. Subsequently, 32 of the original petitioners executed an Affidavit of
Desistance, while one signed a letter denying ever signing the petition,5 ostensibly reducing the
number of petitioners to 34. We note that counsel for the petitioners challenged the validity of the
desistance or withdrawal of some of the petitioners and insinuated that such desistance was due to
pressure from people "close to the seat of power."6 Still, even if we were to disregard the affidavit of
desistance filed by some of the petitioners, it is highly doubtful that a sufficient, representative
number of NPO employees have instituted this purported class suit. A perusal of the petition itself
would show that of the 67 petitioners who signed the Verification/Certification of Non-Forum
Shopping, only 20 petitioners were in fact mentioned in the jurat as having duly subscribed the
petition before the notary public. In other words, only 20 petitioners effectively instituted the present
case.

Indeed, in MVRS Publications, Inc. v. Islamic Dawah Council of the Philippines, Inc.,7 we observed
that an element of a class suit or representative suit is the adequacy of representation. In
determining the question of fair and adequate representation of members of a class, the court must
consider (a) whether the interest of the named party is coextensive with the interest of the other
members of the class; (b) the proportion of those made a party, as it so bears, to the total
membership of the class; and (c) any other factor bearing on the ability of the named party to speak
for the rest of the class.

Previously, we held in Ibaes v. Roman Catholic Church8 that where the interests of the plaintiffs and
the other members of the class they seek to represent are diametrically opposed, the class suit will
not prosper.

It is worth mentioning that a Manifestation of Desistance,9 to which the previously mentioned Affidavit
of Desistance10 was attached, was filed by the President of the National Printing Office Workers
Association (NAPOWA). The said manifestation expressed NAPOWAs opposition to the filing of the
instant petition in any court. Even if we take into account the contention of petitioners counsel that
the NAPOWA President had no legal standing to file such manifestation, the said pleading is a clear
indication that there is a divergence of opinions and views among the members of the class sought
to be represented, and not all are in favor of filing the present suit. There is here an apparent conflict
between petitioners interests and those of the persons whom they claim to represent. Since it
cannot be said that petitioners sufficiently represent the interests of the entire class, the instant case
cannot be properly treated as a class suit.

As to the merits of the case, the petition raises two main grounds to assail the constitutionality of
Executive Order No. 378:

First, it is contended that President Arroyo cannot amend or repeal Executive Order No. 285 by the
mere issuance of another executive order (Executive Order No. 378). Petitioners maintain that
former President Aquinos Executive Order No. 285 is a legislative enactment, as the same was
issued while President Aquino still had legislative powers under the Freedom Constitution;11 thus,
only Congress through legislation can validly amend Executive Order No. 285.

Second, petitioners maintain that the issuance of Executive Order No. 378 would lead to the
eventual abolition of the NPO and would violate the security of tenure of NPO employees.

Anent the first ground raised in the petition, we find the same patently without merit.

It is a well-settled principle in jurisprudence that the President has the power to reorganize the
offices and agencies in the executive department in line with the Presidents constitutionally granted
power of control over executive offices and by virtue of previous delegation of the legislative power
to reorganize executive offices under existing statutes.

In Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v. Zamora,12 the Court pointed out that Executive Order No. 292 or the
Administrative Code of 1987 gives the President continuing authority to reorganize and redefine the
functions of the Office of the President. Section 31, Chapter 10, Title III, Book III of the said Code, is
explicit:

Sec. 31. Continuing Authority of the President to Reorganize his Office. The President, subject to
the policy in the Executive Office and in order to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency, shall
have continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the Office of the President. For
this purpose, he may take any of the following actions:

(1) Restructure the internal organization of the Office of the President Proper, including the
immediate Offices, the President Special Assistants/Advisers System and the Common Staff
Support System, by abolishing, consolidating or merging units thereof or transferring
functions from one unit to another;

(2) Transfer any function under the Office of the President to any other Department or
Agency as well as transfer functions to the Office of the President from other Departments
and Agencies; and

(3) Transfer any agency under the Office of the President to any other department or agency
as well as transfer agencies to the Office of the President from other Departments or
agencies. (Emphases ours.)

Interpreting the foregoing provision, we held in Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB, thus:

But of course, the list of legal basis authorizing the President to reorganize any department or
agency in the executive branch does not have to end here. We must not lose sight of the very
source of the power that which constitutes an express grant of power. Under Section 31, Book III
of Executive Order No. 292 (otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987), "the President,
subject to the policy in the Executive Office and in order to achieve simplicity, economy and
efficiency, shall have the continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the Office
of the President." For this purpose, he may transfer the functions of other Departments or Agencies
to the Office of the President. In Canonizado v. Aguirre [323 SCRA 312 (2000)], we ruled that
reorganization "involves the reduction of personnel, consolidation of offices, or abolition thereof by
reason of economy or redundancy of functions." It takes place when there is an alteration of the
existing structure of government offices or units therein, including the lines of control, authority and
responsibility between them. The EIIB is a bureau attached to the Department of Finance. It falls
under the Office of the President. Hence, it is subject to the Presidents continuing authority to
reorganize.13 (Emphasis ours.)

It is undisputed that the NPO, as an agency that is part of the Office of the Press Secretary (which in
various times has been an agency directly attached to the Office of the Press Secretary or as an
agency under the Philippine Information Agency), is part of the Office of the President.14

Pertinent to the case at bar, Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987 quoted above authorizes
the President (a) to restructure the internal organization of the Office of the President Proper,
including the immediate Offices, the President Special Assistants/Advisers System and the Common
Staff Support System, by abolishing, consolidating or merging units thereof or transferring functions
from one unit to another, and (b) to transfer functions or offices from the Office of the President to
any other Department or Agency in the Executive Branch, and vice versa.

Concomitant to such power to abolish, merge or consolidate offices in the Office of the President
Proper and to transfer functions/offices not only among the offices in the Office of President Proper
but also the rest of the Office of the President and the Executive Branch, the President implicitly has
the power to effect less radical or less substantive changes to the functional and internal structure of
the Office of the President, including the modification of functions of such executive agencies as the
exigencies of the service may require.
In the case at bar, there was neither an abolition of the NPO nor a removal of any of its functions to
be transferred to another agency. Under the assailed Executive Order No. 378, the NPO remains the
main printing arm of the government for all kinds of government forms and publications but in the
interest of greater economy and encouraging efficiency and profitability, it must now compete with
the private sector for certain government printing jobs, with the exception of election paraphernalia
which remains the exclusive responsibility of the NPO, together with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,
as the Commission on Elections may determine. At most, there was a mere alteration of the main
function of the NPO by limiting the exclusivity of its printing responsibility to election forms.15

There is a view that the reorganization actions that the President may take with respect to agencies
in the Office of the President are strictly limited to transfer of functions and offices as seemingly
provided in Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987.

However, Section 20, Chapter 7, Title I, Book III of the same Code significantly provides:

Sec. 20. Residual Powers. Unless Congress provides otherwise, the President shall exercise such
other powers and functions vested in the President which are provided for under the laws and which
are not specifically enumerated above, or which are not delegated by the President in accordance
with law. (Emphasis ours.)

Pursuant to Section 20, the power of the President to reorganize the Executive Branch under
Section 31 includes such powers and functions that may be provided for under other laws. To be
sure, an inclusive and broad interpretation of the Presidents power to reorganize executive offices
has been consistently supported by specific provisions in general appropriations laws.

In the oft-cited Larin v. Executive Secretary,16 the Court likewise adverted to certain provisions of
Republic Act No. 7645, the general appropriations law for 1993, as among the statutory bases for
the Presidents power to reorganize executive agencies, to wit:

Section 48 of R.A. 7645 provides that:

"Sec. 48. Scaling Down and Phase Out of Activities of Agencies Within the Executive Branch. The
heads of departments, bureaus and offices and agencies are hereby directed to identify their
respective activities which are no longer essential in the delivery of public services and which may
be scaled down, phased out or abolished, subject to civil [service] rules and regulations. x x x. Actual
scaling down, phasing out or abolition of the activities shall be effected pursuant to Circulars or
Orders issued for the purpose by the Office of the President."

Said provision clearly mentions the acts of "scaling down, phasing out and abolition" of offices only
and does not cover the creation of offices or transfer of functions. Nevertheless, the act of creating
and decentralizing is included in the subsequent provision of Section 62, which provides that:

"Sec. 62. Unauthorized organizational changes. Unless otherwise created by law or directed by
the President of the Philippines, no organizational unit or changes in key positions in any department
or agency shall be authorized in their respective organization structures and be funded from
appropriations by this Act."

The foregoing provision evidently shows that the President is authorized to effect organizational
changes including the creation of offices in the department or agency concerned.
The contention of petitioner that the two provisions are riders deserves scant consideration. Well
settled is the rule that every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. Unless and until
a specific provision of the law is declared invalid and unconstitutional, the same is valid and binding
for all intents and purposes.17 (Emphases ours)

Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v. Zamora,18 where the Court upheld as valid then President Joseph
Estradas Executive Order No. 191 "deactivating" the Economic Intelligence and Investigation
Bureau (EIIB) of the Department of Finance, hewed closely to the reasoning in Larin. The Court,
among others, also traced from the General Appropriations Act19 the Presidents authority to effect
organizational changes in the department or agency under the executive structure, thus:

We adhere to the precedent or ruling in Larin that this provision recognizes the authority of the
President to effect organizational changes in the department or agency under the executive
structure. Such a ruling further finds support in Section 78 of Republic Act No. 8760. Under this law,
the heads of departments, bureaus, offices and agencies and other entities in the Executive Branch
are directed (a) to conduct a comprehensive review of their respective mandates, missions,
objectives, functions, programs, projects, activities and systems and procedures; (b) identify
activities which are no longer essential in the delivery of public services and which may be scaled
down, phased-out or abolished; and (c) adopt measures that will result in the streamlined
organization and improved overall performance of their respective agencies. Section 78 ends up with
the mandate that the actual streamlining and productivity improvement in agency organization and
operation shall be effected pursuant to Circulars or Orders issued for the purpose by the Office of
the President. x x x.20 (Emphasis ours)

Notably, in the present case, the 2003 General Appropriations Act, which was reenacted in 2004
(the year of the issuance of Executive Order No. 378), likewise gave the President the authority to
effect a wide variety of organizational changes in any department or agency in the Executive Branch.
Sections 77 and 78 of said Act provides:

Section 77. Organized Changes. Unless otherwise provided by law or directed by the President of
the Philippines, no changes in key positions or organizational units in any department or agency
shall be authorized in their respective organizational structures and funded from appropriations
provided by this Act.

Section 78. Institutional Strengthening and Productivity Improvement in Agency Organization and
Operations and Implementation of Organization/Reorganization Mandated by Law. The Government
shall adopt institutional strengthening and productivity improvement measures to improve service
delivery and enhance productivity in the government, as directed by the President of the Philippines.
The heads of departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, and other entities of the Executive Branch
shall accordingly conduct a comprehensive review of their respective mandates, missions,
objectives, functions, programs, projects, activities and systems and procedures; identify areas
where improvements are necessary; and implement corresponding structural, functional and
operational adjustments that will result in streamlined organization and operations and improved
performance and productivity: PROVIDED, That actual streamlining and productivity improvements
in agency organization and operations, as authorized by the President of the Philippines for the
purpose, including the utilization of savings generated from such activities, shall be in accordance
with the rules and regulations to be issued by the DBM, upon consultation with the Presidential
Committee on Effective Governance: PROVIDED, FURTHER, That in the implementation of
organizations/reorganizations, or specific changes in agency structure, functions and operations as a
result of institutional strengthening or as mandated by law, the appropriation, including the functions,
projects, purposes and activities of agencies concerned may be realigned as may be necessary:
PROVIDED, FINALLY, That any unexpended balances or savings in appropriations may be made
available for payment of retirement gratuities and separation benefits to affected personnel, as
authorized under existing laws. (Emphases and underscoring ours.)

Implicitly, the aforequoted provisions in the appropriations law recognize the power of the President
to reorganize even executive offices already funded by the said appropriations act, including the
power to implement structural, functional, and operational adjustments in the executive bureaucracy
and, in so doing, modify or realign appropriations of funds as may be necessary under such
reorganization. Thus, insofar as petitioners protest the limitation of the NPOs appropriations to its
own income under Executive Order No. 378, the same is statutorily authorized by the above
provisions.

In the 2003 case of Bagaoisan v. National Tobacco Administration,21 we upheld the "streamlining" of
the National Tobacco Administration through a reduction of its personnel and deemed the same as
included in the power of the President to reorganize executive offices granted under the laws,
notwithstanding that such streamlining neither involved an abolition nor a transfer of functions of an
office. To quote the relevant portion of that decision:

In the recent case of Rosa Ligaya C. Domingo, et al. vs. Hon. Ronaldo D. Zamora, in his capacity as
the Executive Secretary, et al., this Court has had occasion to also delve on the Presidents power to
reorganize the Office of the President under Section 31(2) and (3) of Executive Order No. 292 and
the power to reorganize the Office of the President Proper. x x x

xxxx

The first sentence of the law is an express grant to the President of a continuing authority to
reorganize the administrative structure of the Office of the President. The succeeding numbered
paragraphs are not in the nature of provisos that unduly limit the aim and scope of the grant to the
President of the power to reorganize but are to be viewed in consonance therewith. Section 31(1) of
Executive Order No. 292 specifically refers to the Presidents power to restructure the internal
organization of the Office of the President Proper, by abolishing, consolidating or merging units
hereof or transferring functions from one unit to another, while Section 31(2) and (3) concern
executive offices outside the Office of the President Proper allowing the President to transfer any
function under the Office of the President to any other Department or Agency and vice-versa, and
the transfer of any agency under the Office of the President to any other department or agency
and vice-versa.

In the present instance, involving neither an abolition nor transfer of offices, the assailed action is a
mere reorganization under the general provisions of the law consisting mainly of streamlining the
NTA in the interest of simplicity, economy and efficiency. It is an act well within the authority of the
President motivated and carried out, according to the findings of the appellate court, in good faith, a
factual assessment that this Court could only but accept.22 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.)

In the more recent case of Tondo Medical Center Employees Association v. Court of
Appeals,23 which involved a structural and functional reorganization of the Department of Health
under an executive order, we reiterated the principle that the power of the President to reorganize
agencies under the executive department by executive or administrative order is constitutionally and
statutorily recognized. We held in that case:

This Court has already ruled in a number of cases that the President may, by executive or
administrative order, direct the reorganization of government entities under the Executive
Department. This is also sanctioned under the Constitution, as well as other statutes.
Section 17, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, clearly states: "[T]he president shall have control of
all executive departments, bureaus and offices." Section 31, Book III, Chapter 10 of Executive Order
No. 292, also known as the Administrative Code of 1987 reads:

SEC. 31. Continuing Authority of the President to Reorganize his Office - The President, subject to
the policy in the Executive Office and in order to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency, shall
have continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the Office of the President. For
this purpose, he may take any of the following actions:

xxxx

In Domingo v. Zamora [445 Phil. 7 (2003)], this Court explained the rationale behind the Presidents
continuing authority under the Administrative Code to reorganize the administrative structure of the
Office of the President. The law grants the President the power to reorganize the Office of the
President in recognition of the recurring need of every President to reorganize his or her office "to
achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency." To remain effective and efficient, it must be capable of
being shaped and reshaped by the President in the manner the Chief Executive deems fit to carry
out presidential directives and policies.

The Administrative Code provides that the Office of the President consists of the Office of the
President Proper and the agencies under it. The agencies under the Office of the President are
identified in Section 23, Chapter 8, Title II of the Administrative Code:

Sec. 23. The Agencies under the Office of the President.The agencies under the Office of the
President refer to those offices placed under the chairmanship of the President, those under the
supervision and control of the President, those under the administrative supervision of the Office
of the President, those attached to it for policy and program coordination, and those that are not
placed by law or order creating them under any specific department.

xxxx

The power of the President to reorganize the executive department is likewise recognized in general
appropriations laws. x x x.

xxxx

Clearly, Executive Order No. 102 is well within the constitutional power of the President to issue. The
President did not usurp any legislative prerogative in issuing Executive Order No. 102. It is an
exercise of the Presidents constitutional power of control over the executive department, supported
by the provisions of the Administrative Code, recognized by other statutes, and consistently affirmed
by this Court.24 (Emphases supplied.)

Subsequently, we ruled in Anak Mindanao Party-List Group v. Executive Secretary25 that:

The Constitutions express grant of the power of control in the President justifies an executive action
to carry out reorganization measures under a broad authority of law.

In enacting a statute, the legislature is presumed to have deliberated with full knowledge of all
existing laws and jurisprudence on the subject. It is thus reasonable to conclude that in passing a
statute which places an agency under the Office of the President, it was in accordance with existing
laws and jurisprudence on the Presidents power to reorganize.
In establishing an executive department, bureau or office, the legislature necessarily ordains an
executive agencys position in the scheme of administrative structure. Such determination is primary,
but subject to the Presidents continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure. As far
as bureaus, agencies or offices in the executive department are concerned, the power of control
may justify the President to deactivate the functions of a particular office. Or a law may expressly
grant the President the broad authority to carry out reorganization measures. The Administrative
Code of 1987 is one such law.26

The issuance of Executive Order No. 378 by President Arroyo is an exercise of a delegated
legislative power granted by the aforementioned Section 31, Chapter 10, Title III, Book III of the
Administrative Code of 1987, which provides for the continuing authority of the President to
reorganize the Office of the President, "in order to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency." This
is a matter already well-entrenched in jurisprudence. The reorganization of such an office through
executive or administrative order is also recognized in the Administrative Code of 1987. Sections 2
and 3, Chapter 2, Title I, Book III of the said Code provide:

Sec. 2. Executive Orders. - Acts of the President providing for rules of a general or permanent
character in implementation or execution of constitutional or statutory powers shall be promulgated
in executive orders.

Sec. 3. Administrative Orders. - Acts of the President which relate to particular aspects of
governmental operations in pursuance of his duties as administrative head shall be promulgated in
administrative orders. (Emphases supplied.)

To reiterate, we find nothing objectionable in the provision in Executive Order No. 378 limiting the
appropriation of the NPO to its own income. Beginning with Larin and in subsequent cases, the
Court has noted certain provisions in the general appropriations laws as likewise reflecting the
power of the President to reorganize executive offices or agencies even to the extent of modifying
and realigning appropriations for that purpose.

Petitioners contention that the issuance of Executive Order No. 378 is an invalid exercise of
legislative power on the part of the President has no legal leg to stand on.

In all, Executive Order No. 378, which purports to institute necessary reforms in government in order
to improve and upgrade efficiency in the delivery of public services by redefining the functions of the
NPO and limiting its funding to its own income and to transform it into a self-reliant agency able to
compete with the private sector, is well within the prerogative of President Arroyo under her
continuing delegated legislative power to reorganize her own office. As pointed out in the separate
concurring opinion of our learned colleague, Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the objective
behind Executive Order No. 378 is wholly consistent with the state policy contained in Republic Act
No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act to encourage competitiveness by extending
equal opportunity to private contracting parties who are eligible and qualified.27
1avv phi1

To be very clear, this delegated legislative power to reorganize pertains only to the Office of the
President and the departments, offices and agencies of the executive branch and does not include
the Judiciary, the Legislature or the constitutionally-created or mandated bodies. Moreover, it must
be stressed that the exercise by the President of the power to reorganize the executive department
must be in accordance with the Constitution, relevant laws and prevailing jurisprudence.

In this regard, we are mindful of the previous pronouncement of this Court in Dario v. Mison28 that:
Reorganizations in this jurisdiction have been regarded as valid provided they are pursued in good
faith. As a general rule, a reorganization is carried out in "good faith" if it is for the purpose of
economy or to make bureaucracy more efficient. In that event, no dismissal (in case of a dismissal)
or separation actually occurs because the position itself ceases to exist. And in that case, security of
tenure would not be a Chinese wall. Be that as it may, if the "abolition," which is nothing else but a
separation or removal, is done for political reasons or purposely to defeat security of tenure, or
otherwise not in good faith, no valid "abolition" takes place and whatever "abolition" is done, is
void ab initio. There is an invalid "abolition" as where there is merely a change of nomenclature of
positions, or where claims of economy are belied by the existence of ample funds. (Emphasis ours.)

Stated alternatively, the presidential power to reorganize agencies and offices in the executive
branch of government is subject to the condition that such reorganization is carried out in good faith.

If the reorganization is done in good faith, the abolition of positions, which results in loss of security
of tenure of affected government employees, would be valid. In Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v.
Zamora,29 we even observed that there was no such thing as an absolute right to hold office. Except
those who hold constitutional offices, which provide for special immunity as regards salary and
tenure, no one can be said to have any vested right to an office or salary.30

This brings us to the second ground raised in the petition that Executive Order No. 378, in allowing
government agencies to secure their printing requirements from the private sector and in limiting the
budget of the NPO to its income, will purportedly lead to the gradual abolition of the NPO and the
loss of security of tenure of its present employees. In other words, petitioners avow that the
reorganization of the NPO under Executive Order No. 378 is tainted with bad faith. The basic
evidentiary rule is that he who asserts a fact or the affirmative of an issue has the burden of proving
it.31

A careful review of the records will show that petitioners utterly failed to substantiate their claim.
They failed to allege, much less prove, sufficient facts to show that the limitation of the NPOs budget
to its own income would indeed lead to the abolition of the position, or removal from office, of any
employee. Neither did petitioners present any shred of proof of their assertion that the changes in
the functions of the NPO were for political considerations that had nothing to do with improving the
efficiency of, or encouraging operational economy in, the said agency.

In sum, the Court finds that the petition failed to show any constitutional infirmity or grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in President Arroyos issuance of Executive
Order No. 378.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order
and/or a Writ of Preliminary Injunction is hereby DENIED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

G.R. No. 153788 November 27, 2009


ROGER V. NAVARRO, Petitioner,
vs.
HON. JOSE L. ESCOBIDO, Presiding Judge, RTC Branch 37, Cagayan de Oro City, and
KAREN T. GO, doing business under the name KARGO ENTERPRISES, Respondents.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari1 that seeks to set aside the Court of Appeals (CA)
Decision2 dated October 16, 2001 and Resolution3 dated May 29, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP. No. 64701.
These CA rulings affirmed the July 26, 20004 and March 7, 20015 orders of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, denying petitioner Roger V. Navarros (Navarro)
motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND FACTS

On September 12, 1998, respondent Karen T. Go filed two complaints, docketed as Civil Case Nos.
98-599 (first complaint)6 and 98-598 (second complaint),7 before the RTC for replevin and/or sum of
money with damages against Navarro. In these complaints, Karen Go prayed that the RTC issue
writs of replevin for the seizure of two (2) motor vehicles in Navarros possession.

The first complaint stated:

1. That plaintiff KAREN T. GO is a Filipino, of legal age, married to GLENN O. GO, a


resident of Cagayan de Oro City and doing business under the trade name KARGO
ENTERPRISES, an entity duly registered and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the
Republic of the Philippines, which has its business address at Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City;
that defendant ROGER NAVARRO is a Filipino, of legal age, a resident of 62 Dolores Street,
Nazareth, Cagayan de Oro City, where he may be served with summons and other
processes of the Honorable Court; that defendant "JOHN DOE" whose real name and
address are at present unknown to plaintiff is hereby joined as party defendant as he may be
the person in whose possession and custody the personal property subject matter of this suit
may be found if the same is not in the possession of defendant ROGER NAVARRO;

2. That KARGO ENTERPRISES is in the business of, among others, buying and selling
motor vehicles, including hauling trucks and other heavy equipment;

3. That for the cause of action against defendant ROGER NAVARRO, it is hereby stated that
on August 8, 1997, the said defendant leased [from] plaintiff a certain motor vehicle which is
more particularly described as follows

Make/Type FUSO WITH MOUNTED CRANE

Serial No. FK416K-51680


Motor No. 6D15-338735
Plate No. GHK-378

as evidenced by a LEASE AGREEMENT WITH OPTION TO PURCHASE entered into by and


between KARGO ENTERPRISES, then represented by its Manager, the aforementioned GLENN O.
GO, and defendant ROGER NAVARRO xxx; that in accordance with the provisions of the above
LEASE AGREEMENT WITH OPTION TO PURCHASE, defendant ROGER NAVARRO delivered
unto plaintiff six (6) post-dated checks each in the amount of SIXTY-SIX THOUSAND THREE
HUNDRED THIRTY-THREE & 33/100 PESOS (66,333.33) which were supposedly in payment of
the agreed rentals; that when the fifth and sixth checks, i.e. PHILIPPINE BANK OF
COMMUNICATIONS CAGAYAN DE ORO BRANCH CHECKS NOS. 017112 and 017113,
respectively dated January 8, 1998 and February 8, 1998, were presented for payment and/or credit,
the same were dishonored and/or returned by the drawee bank for the common reason that the
current deposit account against which the said checks were issued did not have sufficient funds to
cover the amounts thereof; that the total amount of the two (2) checks, i.e. the sum of ONE
HUNDRED THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SIXTY-SIX & 66/100 PESOS (132,666.66)
therefore represents the principal liability of defendant ROGER NAVARRO unto plaintiff on the basis
of the provisions of the above LEASE AGREEMENT WITH RIGHT TO PURCHASE; that demands,
written and oral, were made of defendant ROGER NAVARRO to pay the amount of ONE HUNDRED
THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SIXTY-SIX & 66/100 PESOS (132,666.66), or to return
the subject motor vehicle as also provided for in the LEASE AGREEMENT WITH RIGHT TO
PURCHASE, but said demands were, and still are, in vain to the great damage and injury of herein
plaintiff; xxx

4. That the aforedescribed motor vehicle has not been the subject of any tax assessment and/or fine
pursuant to law, or seized under an execution or an attachment as against herein plaintiff;

xxx

8. That plaintiff hereby respectfully applies for an order of the Honorable Court for the immediate
delivery of the above-described motor vehicle from defendants unto plaintiff pending the final
determination of this case on the merits and, for that purpose, there is attached hereto an affidavit
duly executed and bond double the value of the personal property subject matter hereof to answer
for damages and costs which defendants may suffer in the event that the order for replevin prayed
for may be found out to having not been properly issued.

The second complaint contained essentially the same allegations as the first complaint, except that
the Lease Agreement with Option to Purchase involved is dated October 1, 1997 and the motor
vehicle leased is described as follows:

Make/Type FUSO WITH MOUNTED CRANE


Serial No. FK416K-510528
Motor No. 6D14-423403

The second complaint also alleged that Navarro delivered three post-dated checks, each for the
amount of 100,000.00, to Karen Go in payment of the agreed rentals; however, the third check was
dishonored when presented for payment.8

On October 12, 19989 and October 14, 1998,10 the RTC issued writs of replevin for both cases; as a
result, the Sheriff seized the two vehicles and delivered them to the possession of Karen Go.

In his Answers, Navarro alleged as a special affirmative defense that the two complaints stated no
cause of action, since Karen Go was not a party to the Lease Agreements with Option to Purchase
(collectively, the lease agreements) the actionable documents on which the complaints were
based.

On Navarros motion, both cases were duly consolidated on December 13, 1999.
In its May 8, 2000 order, the RTC dismissed the case on the ground that the complaints did not state
a cause of action.

In response to the motion for reconsideration Karen Go filed dated May 26, 2000,11 the RTC issued
another order dated July 26, 2000 setting aside the order of dismissal. Acting on the presumption
that Glenn Gos leasing business is a conjugal property, the RTC held that Karen Go had sufficient
interest in his leasing business to file the action against Navarro. However, the RTC held that Karen
Go should have included her husband, Glenn Go, in the complaint based on Section 4, Rule 3 of the
Rules of Court (Rules).12 Thus, the lower court ordered Karen Go to file a motion for the inclusion of
Glenn Go as co-plaintiff.1avv phi1

When the RTC denied Navarros motion for reconsideration on March 7, 2001, Navarro filed a
petition for certiorari with the CA, essentially contending that the RTC committed grave abuse of
discretion when it reconsidered the dismissal of the case and directed Karen Go to amend her
complaints by including her husband Glenn Go as co-plaintiff. According to Navarro, a complaint
which failed to state a cause of action could not be converted into one with a cause of action by
mere amendment or supplemental pleading.

On October 16, 2001, the CA denied Navarros petition and affirmed the RTCs order.13 The CA also
denied Navarros motion for reconsideration in its resolution of May 29, 2002,14 leading to the filing of
the present petition.

THE PETITION

Navarro alleges that even if the lease agreements were in the name of Kargo Enterprises, since it
did not have the requisite juridical personality to sue, the actual parties to the agreement are himself
and Glenn Go. Since it was Karen Go who filed the complaints and not Glenn Go, she was not a real
party-in-interest and the complaints failed to state a cause of action.

Navarro posits that the RTC erred when it ordered the amendment of the complaint to include Glenn
Go as a co-plaintiff, instead of dismissing the complaint outright because a complaint which does not
state a cause of action cannot be converted into one with a cause of action by a mere amendment or
a supplemental pleading. In effect, the lower court created a cause of action for Karen Go when
there was none at the time she filed the complaints.

Even worse, according to Navarro, the inclusion of Glenn Go as co-plaintiff drastically changed the
theory of the complaints, to his great prejudice. Navarro claims that the lower court gravely abused
its discretion when it assumed that the leased vehicles are part of the conjugal property of Glenn and
Karen Go. Since Karen Go is the registered owner of Kargo Enterprises, the vehicles subject of the
complaint are her paraphernal properties and the RTC gravely erred when it ordered the inclusion of
Glenn Go as a co-plaintiff.

Navarro likewise faults the lower court for setting the trial of the case in the same order that required
Karen Go to amend her complaints, claiming that by issuing this order, the trial court violated Rule
10 of the Rules.

Even assuming the complaints stated a cause of action against him, Navarro maintains that the
complaints were premature because no prior demand was made on him to comply with the
provisions of the lease agreements before the complaints for replevin were filed.

Lastly, Navarro posits that since the two writs of replevin were issued based on flawed complaints,
the vehicles were illegally seized from his possession and should be returned to him immediately.
Karen Go, on the other hand, claims that it is misleading for Navarro to state that she has no real
interest in the subject of the complaint, even if the lease agreements were signed only by her
husband, Glenn Go; she is the owner of Kargo Enterprises and Glenn Go signed the lease
agreements merely as the manager of Kargo Enterprises. Moreover, Karen Go maintains that
Navarros insistence that Kargo Enterprises is Karen Gos paraphernal property is without basis.
Based on the law and jurisprudence on the matter, all property acquired during the marriage is
presumed to be conjugal property. Finally, Karen Go insists that her complaints sufficiently
established a cause of action against Navarro. Thus, when the RTC ordered her to include her
husband as co-plaintiff, this was merely to comply with the rule that spouses should sue jointly, and
was not meant to cure the complaints lack of cause of action.

THE COURTS RULING

We find the petition devoid of merit.

Karen Go is the real party-in-interest

The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure requires that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the
name of the real party-in-interest, i.e., the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the
judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.15

Interestingly, although Navarro admits that Karen Go is the registered owner of the business name
Kargo Enterprises, he still insists that Karen Go is not a real party-in-interest in the case. According
to Navarro, while the lease contracts were in Kargo Enterprises name, this was merely a trade
name without a juridical personality, so the actual parties to the lease agreements were Navarro and
Glenn Go, to the exclusion of Karen Go.

As a corollary, Navarro contends that the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion when it ordered
the inclusion of Glenn Go as co-plaintiff, since this in effect created a cause of action for the
complaints when in truth, there was none.

We do not find Navarros arguments persuasive.

The central factor in appreciating the issues presented in this case is the business name Kargo
Enterprises. The name appears in the title of the Complaint where the plaintiff was identified as
"KAREN T. GO doing business under the name KARGO ENTERPRISES," and this identification was
repeated in the first paragraph of the Complaint. Paragraph 2 defined the business KARGO
ENTERPRISES undertakes. Paragraph 3 continued with the allegation that the defendant "leased
from plaintiff a certain motor vehicle" that was thereafter described. Significantly, the Complaint
specifies and attaches as its integral part the Lease Agreement that underlies the transaction
between the plaintiff and the defendant. Again, the name KARGO ENTERPRISES entered the
picture as this Lease Agreement provides:

This agreement, made and entered into by and between:

GLENN O. GO, of legal age, married, with post office address at xxx, herein referred to as the
LESSOR-SELLER; representing KARGO ENTERPRISES as its Manager,

xxx
thus, expressly pointing to KARGO ENTERPRISES as the principal that Glenn O. Go represented.
In other words, by the express terms of this Lease Agreement, Glenn Go did sign the agreement
only as the manager of Kargo Enterprises and the latter is clearly the real party to the lease
agreements.

As Navarro correctly points out, Kargo Enterprises is a sole proprietorship, which is neither a natural
person, nor a juridical person, as defined by Article 44 of the Civil Code:

Art. 44. The following are juridical persons:

(1) The State and its political subdivisions;

(2) Other corporations, institutions and entities for public interest or purpose, created by law;
their personality begins as soon as they have been constituted according to law;

(3) Corporations, partnerships and associations for private interest or purpose to which the
law grants a juridical personality, separate and distinct from that of each shareholder, partner
or member.

Thus, pursuant to Section 1, Rule 3 of the Rules,16 Kargo Enterprises cannot be a party to a civil
action. This legal reality leads to the question: who then is the proper party to file an action based on
a contract in the name of Kargo Enterprises?

We faced a similar question in Juasing Hardware v. Mendoza,17 where we said:

Finally, there is no law authorizing sole proprietorships like petitioner to bring suit in court. The law
merely recognizes the existence of a sole proprietorship as a form of business organization
conducted for profit by a single individual, and requires the proprietor or owner thereof to secure
licenses and permits, register the business name, and pay taxes to the national government. It does
not vest juridical or legal personality upon the sole proprietorship nor empower it to file or defend an
action in court.

Thus, the complaint in the court below should have been filed in the name of the owner of Juasing
Hardware. The allegation in the body of the complaint would show that the suit is brought by such
person as proprietor or owner of the business conducted under the name and style Juasing
Hardware. The descriptive words "doing business as Juasing Hardware" may be added to the title of
the case, as is customarily done.18 [Emphasis supplied.]

This conclusion should be read in relation with Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules, which states:

SEC. 2. Parties in interest. A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured
by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized
by law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in
interest.

As the registered owner of Kargo Enterprises, Karen Go is the party who will directly benefit from or
be injured by a judgment in this case. Thus, contrary to Navarros contention, Karen Go is the real
party-in-interest, and it is legally incorrect to say that her Complaint does not state a cause of action
because her name did not appear in the Lease Agreement that her husband signed in behalf of
Kargo Enterprises. Whether Glenn Go can legally sign the Lease Agreement in his capacity as a
manager of Kargo Enterprises, a sole proprietorship, is a question we do not decide, as this is a
matter for the trial court to consider in a trial on the merits.

Glenn Gos Role in the Case

We find it significant that the business name Kargo Enterprises is in the name of Karen T. Go,19 who
described herself in the Complaints to be "a Filipino, of legal age, married to GLENN O. GO, a
resident of Cagayan de Oro City, and doing business under the trade name KARGO
ENTERPRISES."20 That Glenn Go and Karen Go are married to each other is a fact never brought in
issue in the case. Thus, the business name KARGO ENTERPRISES is registered in the name of a
married woman, a fact material to the side issue of whether Kargo Enterprises and its properties are
paraphernal or conjugal properties. To restate the parties positions, Navarro alleges that Kargo
Enterprises is Karen Gos paraphernal property, emphasizing the fact that the business is registered
solely in Karen Gos name. On the other hand, Karen Go contends that while the business is
registered in her name, it is in fact part of their conjugal property.

The registration of the trade name in the name of one person a woman does not necessarily lead
to the conclusion that the trade name as a property is hers alone, particularly when the woman is
married. By law, all property acquired during the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to have
been made, contracted or registered in the name of one or both spouses, is presumed to be
conjugal unless the contrary is proved.21 Our examination of the records of the case does not show
any proof that Kargo Enterprises and the properties or contracts in its name are conjugal. If at all,
only the bare allegation of Navarro to this effect exists in the records of the case. As we emphasized
in Castro v. Miat:22

Petitioners also overlook Article 160 of the New Civil Code. It provides that "all property of the
marriage is presumed to be conjugal partnership, unless it be prove[n] that it pertains exclusively to
the husband or to the wife." This article does not require proof that the property was acquired
with funds of the partnership. The presumption applies even when the manner in which the
property was acquired does not appear.23 [Emphasis supplied.]

Thus, for purposes solely of this case and of resolving the issue of whether Kargo Enterprises as a
sole proprietorship is conjugal or paraphernal property, we hold that it is conjugal property.

Article 124 of the Family Code, on the administration of the conjugal property, provides:

Art. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property shall belong
to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the husbands decision shall prevail, subject to
recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy, which must be availed of within five years from
the date of the contract implementing such decision.

xxx

This provision, by its terms, allows either Karen or Glenn Go to speak and act with authority in
managing their conjugal property, i.e., Kargo Enterprises. No need exists, therefore, for one to obtain
the consent of the other before performing an act of administration or any act that does not dispose
of or encumber their conjugal property.

Under Article 108 of the Family Code, the conjugal partnership is governed by the rules on the
contract of partnership in all that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in this Chapter or
by the spouses in their marriage settlements. In other words, the property relations of the husband
and wife shall be governed primarily by Chapter 4 on Conjugal Partnership of Gains of the Family
Code and, suppletorily, by the spouses marriage settlement and by the rules on partnership under
the Civil Code. In the absence of any evidence of a marriage settlement between the spouses Go,
we look at the Civil Code provision on partnership for guidance.

A rule on partnership applicable to the spouses circumstances is Article 1811 of the Civil Code,
which states:

Art. 1811. A partner is a co-owner with the other partners of specific partnership property.

The incidents of this co-ownership are such that:

(1) A partner, subject to the provisions of this Title and to any agreement between the partners, has
an equal right with his partners to possess specific partnership property for partnership
purposes; xxx

Under this provision, Glenn and Karen Go are effectively co-owners of Kargo Enterprises and the
properties registered under this name; hence, both have an equal right to seek possession of these
properties. Applying Article 484 of the Civil Code, which states that "in default of contracts, or special
provisions, co-ownership shall be governed by the provisions of this Title," we find further support in
Article 487 of the Civil Code that allows any of the co-owners to bring an action in ejectment with
respect to the co-owned property.

While ejectment is normally associated with actions involving real property, we find that this rule can
be applied to the circumstances of the present case, following our ruling in Carandang v. Heirs of De
Guzman.24 In this case, one spouse filed an action for the recovery of credit, a personal property
considered conjugal property, without including the other spouse in the action. In resolving the issue
of whether the other spouse was required to be included as a co-plaintiff in the action for the
recovery of the credit, we said:

Milagros de Guzman, being presumed to be a co-owner of the credits allegedly extended to the
spouses Carandang, seems to be either an indispensable or a necessary party. If she is an
indispensable party, dismissal would be proper. If she is merely a necessary party, dismissal is not
warranted, whether or not there was an order for her inclusion in the complaint pursuant to Section
9, Rule 3.

Article 108 of the Family Code provides:

Art. 108. The conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules on the contract of partnership in all
that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in this Chapter or by the spouses in their
marriage settlements.

This provision is practically the same as the Civil Code provision it superseded:

Art. 147. The conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules on the contract of partnership in all
that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in this Chapter.

In this connection, Article 1811 of the Civil Code provides that "[a] partner is a co-owner with the
other partners of specific partnership property." Taken with the presumption of the conjugal nature of
the funds used to finance the four checks used to pay for petitioners stock subscriptions, and with
the presumption that the credits themselves are part of conjugal funds, Article 1811 makes Quirino
and Milagros de Guzman co-owners of the alleged credit.
Being co-owners of the alleged credit, Quirino and Milagros de Guzman may separately bring an
action for the recovery thereof. In the fairly recent cases of Baloloy v. Hular and Adlawan v.
Adlawan, we held that, in a co-ownership, co-owners may bring actions for the recovery of co-owned
property without the necessity of joining all the other co-owners as co-plaintiffs because the suit is
presumed to have been filed for the benefit of his co-owners. In the latter case and in that of De Guia
v. Court of Appeals, we also held that Article 487 of the Civil Code, which provides that any of the
co-owners may bring an action for ejectment, covers all kinds of action for the recovery of
possession.

In sum, in suits to recover properties, all co-owners are real parties in interest. However, pursuant to
Article 487 of the Civil Code and relevant jurisprudence, any one of them may bring an action, any
kind of action, for the recovery of co-owned properties. Therefore, only one of the co-owners, namely
the co-owner who filed the suit for the recovery of the co-owned property, is an indispensable party
thereto. The other co-owners are not indispensable parties. They are not even necessary parties, for
a complete relief can be accorded in the suit even without their participation, since the suit is
presumed to have been filed for the benefit of all co-owners.25 [Emphasis supplied.]

Under this ruling, either of the spouses Go may bring an action against Navarro to recover
possession of the Kargo Enterprises-leased vehicles which they co-own. This conclusion is
consistent with Article 124 of the Family Code, supporting as it does the position that either spouse
may act on behalf of the conjugal partnership, so long as they do not dispose of or encumber the
property in question without the other spouses consent.

On this basis, we hold that since Glenn Go is not strictly an indispensable party in the action to
recover possession of the leased vehicles, he only needs to be impleaded as a pro-forma party to
the suit, based on Section 4, Rule 4 of the Rules, which states:

Section 4. Spouses as parties. Husband and wife shall sue or be sued jointly, except as provided
by law.

Non-joinder of indispensable parties not ground to dismiss action

Even assuming that Glenn Go is an indispensable party to the action, we have held in a number of
cases26 that the misjoinder or non-joinder of indispensable parties in a complaint is not a ground for
dismissal of action. As we stated in Macababbad v. Masirag:27

Rule 3, Section 11 of the Rules of Court provides that neither misjoinder nor nonjoinder of parties is
a ground for the dismissal of an action, thus:

Sec. 11. Misjoinder and non-joinder of parties. Neither misjoinder nor non-joinder of parties is ground
for dismissal of an action. Parties may be dropped or added by order of the court on motion of any
party or on its own initiative at any stage of the action and on such terms as are just. Any claim
against a misjoined party may be severed and proceeded with separately.

In Domingo v. Scheer, this Court held that the proper remedy when a party is left out is to implead
the indispensable party at any stage of the action. The court, either motu proprio or upon the motion
of a party, may order the inclusion of the indispensable party or give the plaintiff opportunity to
amend his complaint in order to include indispensable parties. If the plaintiff to whom the order to
include the indispensable party is directed refuses to comply with the order of the court, the
complaint may be dismissed upon motion of the defendant or upon the court's own motion. Only
upon unjustified failure or refusal to obey the order to include or to amend is the action dismissed.
In these lights, the RTC Order of July 26, 2000 requiring plaintiff Karen Go to join her husband as a
party plaintiff is fully in order.

Demand not required prior


to filing of replevin action

In arguing that prior demand is required before an action for a writ of replevin is filed, Navarro
apparently likens a replevin action to an unlawful detainer.

For a writ of replevin to issue, all that the applicant must do is to file an affidavit and bond, pursuant
to Section 2, Rule 60 of the Rules, which states:

Sec. 2. Affidavit and bond.

The applicant must show by his own affidavit or that of some other person who personally knows the
facts:

(a) That the applicant is the owner of the property claimed, particularly describing it, or is
entitled to the possession thereof;

(b) That the property is wrongfully detained by the adverse party, alleging the cause of
detention thereof according to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief;

(c) That the property has not been distrained or taken for a tax assessment or a fine
pursuant to law, or seized under a writ of execution or preliminary attachment, or otherwise
placed under custodia legis, or if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure or custody;
and

(d) The actual market value of the property.

The applicant must also give a bond, executed to the adverse party in double the value of the
property as stated in the affidavit aforementioned, for the return of the property to the adverse party
if such return be adjudged, and for the payment to the adverse party of such sum as he may recover
from the applicant in the action.

We see nothing in these provisions which requires the applicant to make a prior demand on the
possessor of the property before he can file an action for a writ of replevin. Thus, prior demand is not
a condition precedent to an action for a writ of replevin.

More importantly, Navarro is no longer in the position to claim that a prior demand is necessary, as
he has already admitted in his Answers that he had received the letters that Karen Go sent him,
demanding that he either pay his unpaid obligations or return the leased motor vehicles. Navarros
position that a demand is necessary and has not been made is therefore totally unmeritorious.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition for review for lack of merit. Costs
against petitioner Roger V. Navarro.

SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 173192 April 14, 2008

ROSENDO BACALSO, RODRIGO BACALSO, MARCILIANA B. DOBLAS, TEROLIO BACALSO,


ALIPIO BACALSO, JR., MARIO BACALSO, WILLIAM BACALSO, ALIPIO BACALSO III and
CRISTITA B. BAES,petitioners,
vs.
MAXIMO PADIGOS, FLAVIANO MABUYO, GAUDENCIO PADIGOS, DOMINGO PADIGOS,
VICTORIA P. ABARQUEZ, LILIA P. GABISON, TIMOTEO PADIGOS, PERFECTO PADIGOS,
PRISCA SALARDA, FLORA GUINTO, BENITA TEMPLA, SOTERO PADIGOS, ANDRES
PADIGOS, EMILIO PADIGOS, DEMETRIO PADIGOS, JR., WENCESLAO PADIGOS, NELLY
PADIGOS, EXPEDITO PADIGOS, HENRY PADIGOS and ENRIQUE P.
MALAZARTE, respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

The case at bar involves a parcel of land identified as Lot No. 3781 (the lot) located in Inayawan,
Cebu, covered by Original Certificate of Title No. RO-2649 (0-9092)1 in the name of the following 13
co-owners, their respective shares of which are indicated opposite their names:

Fortunata Padigos (Fortunata) 1/8


Felix Padigos (Felix) 1/8
Wenceslao Padigos (Wenceslao) 1/8
Maximiano Padigos (Maximiano) 1/8
Geronimo Padigos (Geronimo) 1/8
Macaria Padigos 1/8
Simplicio Padigos (Simplicio) 1/8
Ignacio Padigos (Ignacio) 1/48
Matilde Padigos 1/48
Marcelo Padigos 1/48
Rustica Padigos 1/48
Raymunda Padigos 1/48
Antonino Padigos 1/48

Maximo Padigos (Maximo), Flaviano Mabuyo (Flaviano), Gaudencio Padigos (Gaudencio), Domingo
Padigos (Domingo), and Victoria P. Abarquez (Victoria), who are among the herein respondents,
filed on April 17, 1995, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, a Complaint,2 docketed
as Civil Case No. CEB-17326, against Rosendo Bacalso (Rosendo) and Rodrigo Bacalso (Rodrigo)
who are among the herein petitioners, for quieting of title, declaration of nullity of documents,
recovery of possession, and damages.
The therein plaintiffs-herein respondents Maximo and Flaviano claimed that they are children of the
deceased co-owner Simplicio; that respondents Gaudencio and Domingo are children of the
deceased co-owner Ignacio; and that respondent Victoria and respondent Lilia P. Gabison (Lilia) are
grandchildren of the late co-owner Fortunata.3

Respondents also alleged that the therein defendants-petitioners Rosendo and Rodrigo are heirs of
Alipio Bacalso, Sr. (Alipio, Sr.) who, during his lifetime, secured Tax Declaration Nos. L-078-02223
and L-078-02224 covering the lot without any legal basis; that Rosendo and Rodrigo have been
leasing portions of the lot to persons who built houses thereon, and Rosendo has been living in a
house built on a portion of the lot;4 and that demands to vacate and efforts at conciliation proved
futile,5 prompting them to file the complaint at the RTC.

In their Answer6 to the complaint, petitioners Rosendo and Rodrigo claimed that their father Alipio,
Sr. purchased via deeds of sale the shares in the lot of Fortunata, Simplicio, Wenceslao, Geronimo,
and Felix from their respective heirs, and that Alipio, Sr. acquired the shares of the other co-owners
of the lot by extraordinary acquisitive prescription through continuous, open, peaceful, and adverse
possession thereof in the concept of an owner since 1949.7

By way of Reply and Answer to the Defendants' Counterclaim,8 herein respondents Gaudencio,
Maximo, Flaviano, Domingo, and Victoria alleged that the deeds of sale on which Rosendo and
Rodrigo base their claim of ownership of portions of the lot are spurious, but assuming that they are
not, laches had set in against Alipio, Sr.; and that the shares of the other co-owners of the lot cannot
be acquired through laches or prescription.

Gaudencio, Maximo, Flaviano, Domingo, and Victoria, with leave of court,9 filed an Amended
Complaint10impleading as additional defendants Alipio, Sr.'s other heirs, namely, petitioners
Marceliana11 Doblas, Terolio Bacalso, Alipio Bacalso, Jr., Mario Bacalso, William Bacalso, Alipio
Bacalso III, and Christine B. Baes.12 Still later, Gaudencio et al. filed a Second Amended
Complaint13 with leave of court,14 impleading as additional plaintiffs the other heirs of registered co-
owner Maximiano, namely, herein respondents Timoteo Padigos, Perfecto Padigos,
Frisca15 Salarda, Flora Quinto (sometimes rendered as "Guinto"), Benita Templa, Sotero Padigos,
Andres Padigos, and Emilio Padigos.16

In their Answer to the Second Amended Complaint,17 petitioners contended that the Second
Amended Complaint should be dismissed in view of the failure to implead other heirs of the other
registered owners of the lot who are indispensable parties.18

A Third Amended Complaint19 was thereafter filed with leave of court20 impleading as additional
plaintiffs the heirs of Wenceslao, namely, herein respondents Demetrio Padigos, Jr., Wenceslao
Padigos, and Nelly Padigos, and the heirs of Felix, namely, herein respondents Expedito Padigos
(Expedito), Henry Padigos, and Enrique P. Malazarte.21

After trial, Branch 16 of the Cebu City RTC decided22 in favor in the therein plaintiffs-herein
respondents, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs


and against the defendants.

1. Declaring the plaintiffs to be entitled to the ownership and possession of the lot in
litigation;

2. Declaring as null and void the Deeds of Absolute Sale in question;


3. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs the sum of P50,000.00 as actual and
compensatory damages[,] the sum of P20,000.00 as attorney's fees, and P10,000.00 as
litigation expenses.

4. Ordering the defendants to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.23 (Emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)

The defendants-herein petitioners Bacalsos appealed.24 Meanwhile, the trial court, on respondents'
Motion for Execution Pending Appeal,25 issued a writ of execution which was implemented by,
among other things, demolishing the houses constructed on the lot.26

By Decision27 of September 6, 2005, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. Their
Motion for Reconsideration28 having been denied,29 petitioners filed the present Petition for Review
on Certiorari,30 faulting the Court of Appeals:

. . . when it ruled that the Second Amended Complaint is valid and legal, even if not all
indispensable parties are impleaded or joined . . .

. . . when [it] wittingly overlooked the most potent, unescapable and indubitable fact or
circumstance which proved the continuous possession of Lot No. 3781 by the defendants
and their predecessors in interest, Alipio Bacalso [Sr.] and/or when it sanctioned impliedly
the glaring arbitrary RTC order of the demolition of the over 40 years old houses, situated
on Lot No. 3781 Cebu Cad., belonging to the old lessees, long allowed to lease or stay
thereat for many years, by Alipio Bacalso [Sr.], father and [predecessor] in interest of the
defendants, now the herein Petitioners. The said lessees were not even joined as parties in
this case, much less were they given a chance to air their side before their houses were
demolished, in gross violation of the due process clause provided for in Sec. 1[,] Art. III of the
Constitution . . .

. . . in upholding as gospel truth the report and conclusion of Nimrod Vao, the supposed
handwriting expert[,] that signatures and thumb marks appearing on all documents of sale
presented by the defendants are forgeries, and not mindful that Nimrod Vao was not cross-
examined thoroughly by the defense counsel as he was prevented from doing so by the trial
judge, in violation of the law more particularly Sec. 6, Rule 132, Rules of Court and/or the
accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings and is therefore not admissible in
evidence.

. . . [when it] . . . wittingly or unwittingly, again overlooked the vital facts, the circumstances,
the laws and rulings of the Supreme Court, which are of much weight, substance and
influence which, if considered carefully, undoubtedly uphold that the defendants and their
predecessors in interests, have long been in continuous, open, peaceful and adverse, and
notorious possession against the whole world of Lot No. 3781, Cebu Cad., in concept of
absolute owners for 46 years, a period more than sufficient to sustain or uphold the defense
of prescription, provided for in Art. 1137 of the Civil Code even without good
faith.31 (Emphasis and underscoring in the original; italics supplied)

Respondents admit that Teodulfo Padigos (Teodulfo), an heir of Simplicio, was not
impleaded.32 They contend, however, that the omission did not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction
because Article 487 of the Civil Code states that "[a]ny of the co-owners may bring an action in
ejectment."33
Respondents' contention does not lie. The action is for quieting of title, declaration of nullity of
documents, recovery of possession and ownership, and damages. Arcelona v. Court of
Appeals34 defines indispensable parties under Section 7 of Rule 3, Rules of Court as follows:

[P]arties-in-interest without whom there can be no final determination of an action. As such,


they must be joined either as plaintiffs or as defendants. The general rule with reference to
the making of parties in a civil action requires, of course, the joinder of all necessary parties
where possible, and the joinder of all indispensable parties under any and all conditions, their
presence being a 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 absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and
voidfor want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as to those
present.

Petitioners are co-owners of a fishpond . . . The fishpond is undivided; it is impossible to


pinpoint which specific portion of the property is owned by Olanday, et. al. and which portion
belongs to petitioners. x x x Indeed, petitioners should have been properly impleaded as
indispensable parties. x x x

x x x x35 (Underscoring supplied)

The absence then of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of a court null and void
for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent party but even as to those present.36

Failure to implead indispensable parties aside, the resolution of the case hinges on a determination
of the authenticity of the documents on which petitioners in part anchor their claim to ownership of
the lot. The questioned documents are:

1. Exhibit "3" a notarized Deed of Sale executed by Gaudencio, Domingo, a certain


Hermenegilda Padigos, and the heirs of Fortunata, in favor of Alipio, Sr. on June 8, 1959;

2. Exhibit "4" a notarized Deed of Sale executed on September 9, 1957 by Gavino Padigos
(Gavino), alleged son of Felix, in favor of Alipio Gadiano;

3. Exhibit "5" a private deed of sale executed in June 1957 by Macaria Bongalan, Marciano
Padigos, and Dominga Padigos, supposed heirs of Wenceslao, in favor of Alipio, Sr.;

4. Exhibit "6" a notarized deed of sale executed on September 9, 1957 by Gavino and
Rodulfo Padigos, heirs of Geronimo, in favor of Alipio Gadiano;

5. Exhibit "7" a notarized deed of sale executed on March 19, 1949 by Irenea Mabuyo,
Teodulfo and Maximo, heirs of Simplicio;

6. Exhibit "8" a private deed of sale executed on May 3, 1950 by Candido Padigos, one of
Simplicio's children, in favor of Alipio, Sr.; and

7. Exhibit "9" a notarized deed of sale executed on May 17, 1957 by Alipio Gadiano in
favor of Alipio, Sr.

Exhibits "3," "4," "6," "7," and "8," which are notarized documents, have in their favor the
presumption of regularity.37
Forgery, as any other mechanism of fraud, must be proved clearly and convincingly, and the burden
of proof lies on the party alleging forgery.38

The trial court and the Court of Appeals relied on the findings of Nimrod Bernabe Vao (Vao),
expert witness for respondents, that Gaudencio's signature on Exhibit "3" (Deed of Absolute Sale
covering Fortunata's share in the lot) and Maximo's thumbprint on Exhibit "7" (Deed of Sale covering
Simplicio's share in the lot) are spurious.39 Vao's findings were presented by respondents to rebut
those of Wilfredo Espina (Espina), expert witness for petitioners, that Gaudencio's signature and
Maximo's thumbprint are genuine.40

Expert opinions are not ordinarily conclusive. They are generally regarded as purely advisory in
character.41 The courts may place whatever weight they choose upon and may reject them, if they
find them inconsistent with the facts in the case or otherwise unreasonable.42 When faced with
conflicting expert opinions, courts give more weight and credence to that which is more complete,
thorough, and scientific.43

The Court observes that in examining the questioned signatures of respondent Gaudencio,
petitioners' expert witness Espina used as standards 15 specimen signatures which have been
established to be Gaudencio's,44 and that after identifying similarities between the questioned
signatures and the standard signatures, he concluded that the questioned signatures are genuine.
On the other hand, respondents' expert witness Vao used, as standards, the questioned signatures
themselves.45 He identified characteristics of the signatures indicating that they may have been
forged. Vao's statement of the purpose of the examination is revealing:

x x x [t]o x x x discover, classify and determine the authenticity of every document that for
any reason requires examination be [sic] scrutinized in every particular that may
possibly throw any light upon its origin, its age or upon quality element or condition
that may have a bearing upons [sic] its genuineness or spuriousness.46(Emphasis supplied)

The Court also notes that Vao also analyzed the signatures of the witnesses to the questioned
documents, the absence of standard specimens with which those signatures could be compared
notwithstanding.47 On the other hand, Espina refrained from making conclusions on signatures which
could not be compared with established genuine specimens.48

Specifically with respect to Vao's finding that Maximo's thumbprint on Exhibit "7" is spurious, the
Court is not persuaded, no comparison having been made of such thumbprint with a genuine
thumbprint established to be Maximo's.49

Vao's testimony should be received with caution, the trial court having abruptly cut short his cross-
examination conducted by petitioners' counsel,50 thus:

COURT:

You are just delaying the proceedings in this case if you are going to ask him about
the documents one by one. Just leave it to the Court to determine whether or not he
is a qualified expert witness. The Court will just go over the Report of the witness.
You do not have to ask the witness one by one on the document,51

thereby depriving this Court of the opportunity to determine his credibility. Espina, on the other hand,
withstood thorough cross-examination, re-direct and re-cross examination.52
The value of the opinion of a handwriting expert depends not upon his mere statements of whether a
writing is genuine or false, but upon the assistance he may afford in pointing out distinguishing
marks, characteristics and discrepancies in and between genuine and false specimens of writing
which would ordinarily escape notice or detection from an unpracticed observer.53 While differences
exist between Gaudencio's signatures appearing on Exhibits "3"-"3-D" and his signatures appearing
on the affidavits accompanying the pleadings in this case,54 the gap of more than 30 years from the
time he affixed his signatures on the questioned document to the time he affixed his signatures on
the pleadings in the case could explain the difference. Thus Espina observed:

xxxx

4. Both questioned and standard signatures exhibited the same style and form of the
movement impulses in its execution;

5. Personal habits of the writer were established in both questioned and standard signatures
such as misalignment of the whole structure of the signature, heavy penpressure [sic] of
strokes from initial to the terminal, formation of the loops and ovals, poor line quality and
spacing between letters are all repeated;

6. Both questioned and standard signatures [show] no radical change in the strokes and
letter formation in spite o[f] their wide difference in dates of execution considering the early
writing maturity of the writer;

7. Variations in both writings questioned and standards were considered and properly
evaluated.

xxxx

Fundamental similarities are observed in the following characteristics to wit:

xxxx

SIGNATURES

1. Ovals of "a" either rounded or angular at the base;

2. Ovals of "d" either narrow, rounded, or angular at the base;

3. Loop stems of "d" consistently tall and retraced in both specimens questioned and
standards;

4. Base alignment of "e" and "i" are repeated with sameness;

5. Top of "c" either with a retrace, angular formation or an eyelet;

6. Terminal ending of "o" heavy with a short tapering formation;

7. Loop stem of "P" with wide space and angular;

8. Oval of "P" either rounded or multi-angular;


9. Base loop of "g" consistently short either a retrace, a blind loop or narrow space
disproportionate to the top oval;

10. Angular top of "s" are repeated with sameness;

11. Terminal ending of "s" short and heavy with blind loop or retrace at the base. 55

And Espina concluded

xxxx

[t]hat the four (4) questioned signatures over and above the typewritten name and word
GAUDENCIO PADIGOS Vendor on four copies of a DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE (original
and carbon) dated June 8, 1959 were written, signed, and prepared by the hand who wrote
the standard specimens Exh. "G" and other specimen materials collected from the records of
this case that were submitted or comparison; a product of one Mind and
Brain hence GENUINE and AUTHENTIC.56 (Emphasis in the original; underscoring
supplied)

Respondents brand Maximo's thumbmark on Exhibit "7" as spurious because, so they claim,
Maximo did not affix his signature thru a thumbmark, he knowing how to write.57 Such conclusion is
a non sequitur, however, for a person who knows how to write is not precluded from signing by
thumbmark.

In affirming the nullification by the trial court of Exhibits "3," "4," "5," "6," "7," and "8," the Court of
Appeals held:

xxxx

First of all, facts about pedigree of the registered owners and their lawful heirs were
convincingly testified to by plaintiff-appellant Gaudencio Padigos and his testimony remained
uncontroverted.

xxxx

Giving due weight to his testimony, we find that x x x the vendors in the aforesaid Deeds of
Sale x x x were not the legal heirs of the registered owners of the disputed land. x x x

xxxx

As for Exhibit "4," the vendor Gavino Padigos is not a legal heir of the registered owner Felix
Padigos. The latter's heirs are plaintiff-appellants Expedito Padigos, Henry Padigos and
Enrique P. Malazarte. Accordingly, Exhibit "4" is a patent nullity and did not vest title of Felix
Padigos' share of Lot 3781 to Alipio [Gadiano].

As for Exhibit "6," the vendors Gavino and Rodulfo Padigos are not the legal heirs of the
registered ownerGeronimo Padigos. Therefore, these fictitious heirs could not validly convey
ownership in favor of Alipio [Gadiano].

xxxx
As for Exhibit "8," the vendor Candido Padigos is not a legal heir of Simplicio Padigos.
Therefore, the former could not vest title of the land to Alipio Bacalso.

As for Exhibit "3," the vendors Gaudencio Padigos, Hermenegilda Padigos and Domingo
Padigos are not the legal heirs of registered owner Fortunata Padigos. Hermenegilda
Padigos is not a known heir of any of the other registered owners of the property.

On the other hand, plaintiffs-appellants Gaudencio and Domingo Padigos are only some of
the collateral grandchildren of Fortunata Padigos. They could not by themselves dispose of
the share of Fortunata Padigos.

xxxx

As for Exhibit "5," the vendors in Exhibit "5" are not the legal heirs of Wenceslao Padigos.
The children of registered owner Wenceslao Padigos are: Wenceslao Padigos, Demetrio
Padigos and Nelly Padigos. Therefore, Exhibit "5" is null and void and could not convey the
shares of the registered owner Wenceslao Padigos in favor of Alipio Bacalso.

As for Exhibit "9," the Deed of Sale executed by Alipio [Gadiano] in favor of Alipio Bacalso is
also void because the shares of the registered owners Felix and Geronimo Padigos were not
validly conveyed to Alipio[Gadiano] because Exhibit "4" and "6" were void
contracts. Thus, Exhibit "9" is also null and void.58 (Italics in the original; underscoring
supplied)

The evidence regarding the "facts of pedigree of the registered owners and their heirs" does not,
however, satisfy this Court. Not only is Gaudencio's self-serving testimony uncorroborated; it
contradicts itself on material points. For instance, on direct examination, he testified that Ignacio is
his father and Fortunata is his grandmother.59 On cross-examination, however, he declared that his
father Ignacio is the brother of Fortunata.60 On direct examination, he testified that his co-plaintiffs
Victoria and Lilia are already dead.61 On cross-examination, however, he denied knowledge whether
the two are already dead.62 Also on direct examination, he identified Expedito, Henry, and Enrique as
the children of Felix.63 Expedito himself testified, however, that he is the son of a certain Mamerto
Padigos, the son of a certain Apolonio Padigos who is in turn the son of Felix.64

At all events, respondents are guilty of laches the negligence or omission to assert a right within a
reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it has either abandoned it
or declined to assert it.65While, by express provision of law, no title to registered land in derogation of
that of the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession, it is an
enshrined rule that even a registered owner may be barred from recovering possession of property
by virtue of laches.66

Respondents insist, however, that they only learned of the deeds of sale in 1994, the year that
Alipio, Sr. allegedly commenced possession of the property.67 The record shows, however, that
although petitioners started renting out the land in 1994, they have been tilling it since the
1950s,68 and Rosendo's house was constructed in about 1985.69These acts of possession could not
have escaped respondents' notice given the following unassailed considerations, inter alia:
Gaudencio testified that he lived on the lot from childhood until 1985, after which he moved to a
place three kilometers away, and after he moved, a certain Vicente Debelos lived on the lot with his
permission.70 Petitioners' witness Marina Alcoseba, their employee,71 testified that Gaudencio and
Domingo used to cut kumpay planted by petitioners' tenant on the lot.72 The tax declarations in
Alipio, Sr.'s name for the years 1967-1980 covering a portion of the lot indicate Fortunata's share to
be the north and east boundaries of Alipio, Sr.'s;73 hence, respondents could not have been unaware
of the acts of possession that petitioners exercised over the lot.

Upon the other hand, petitioners have been vigilant in protecting their rights over the lot, which their
predecessor-in-interest Alipio, Sr. had declared in his name for tax purposes as early as 1960, and
for which he had been paying taxes until his death in 1994, by continuing to pay the taxes thereon.74

Respondents having failed to establish their claim by preponderance of evidence, their action for
quieting of title, declaration of nullity of documents, recovery of possession, and damages must fail.

A final word. While petitioners' attribution of error to the appellate court's "implied sanction" of the
trial court's order for the demolition pending appeal of the houses of their lessees is well taken, the
Court may not consider any grant of relief to them, they not being parties to the case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The September 6, 2005 decision of the Court of Appeals
is REVERSEDand SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. CEB-17326 of Branch 16 of the Regional Trial Court
of Cebu City is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

Quisumbing,Chairperson, Tinga, Velasco, Jr., Brion, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 177429 November 24, 2009

ANICIA VALDEZ-TALLORIN, Petitioner,


vs.
HEIRS OF JUANITO TARONA, Represented by CARLOS TARONA, ROGELIO TARONA and
LOURDES TARONA, Respondents.

DECISION

ABAD, J.:

This case is about a courts annulment of a tax declaration in the names of three persons, two of
whom had not been impleaded in the case, for the reason that the document was illegally issued to
them.

The Facts and the Case

On February 9, 1998 respondents Carlos, Rogelio, and Lourdes Tarona (the Taronas) filed an action
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Balanga, Bataan,1 against petitioner Anicia Valdez-Tallorin
(Tallorin) for the cancellation of her and two other womens tax declaration over a parcel of land.
The Taronas alleged in their complaint that, unknown to them, in 1981, the Assessors Office of
Morong in Bataan cancelled Tax Declaration 463 in the name of their father, Juanito Tarona
(Juanito), covering 6,186 square meters of land in Morong, Bataan. The cancellation was said to be
based on an unsigned though notarized affidavit that Juanito allegedly executed in favor of petitioner
Tallorin and two others, namely, Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez, who were
not impleaded in the action. In place of the cancelled one, the Assessors Office issued Tax
Declaration 6164 in the names of the latter three persons. The old man Taronas affidavit had been
missing and no copy could be found among the records of the Assessors Office.2

The Taronas further alleged that, without their fathers affidavit on file, it followed that his tax
declaration had been illegally cancelled and a new one illegally issued in favor of Tallorin and the
others with her. The unexplained disappearance of the affidavit from official files, the Taronas
concluded, covered-up the falsification or forgery that caused the substitution.3 The Taronas asked
the RTC to annul Tax Declaration 6164, reinstate Tax Declaration 463, and issue a new one in the
name of Juanitos heirs.

On March 6, 1998 the Taronas filed a motion to declare petitioner Tallorin in default for failing to
answer their complaint within the allowed time.4 But, before the RTC could act on the motion, Tallorin
filed a belated answer, alleging among others that she held a copy of the supposedly missing
affidavit of Juanito who was merely an agricultural tenant of the land covered by Tax Declaration
463. He surrendered and waived in that affidavit his occupation and tenancy rights to Tallorin and
the others in consideration of 29,240.00. Tallorin also put up the affirmative defenses of non-
compliance with the requirement of conciliation proceedings and prescription.

On March 12, 1998 the RTC set Tallorins affirmative defenses for hearing5 but the Taronas sought
reconsideration, pointing out that the trial court should have instead declared Tallorin in default
based on their earlier motion.6 On June 2, 1998 the RTC denied the Taronas motion for
reconsideration7 for the reasons that it received Tallorins answer before it could issue a default order
and that the Taronas failed to show proof that Tallorin was notified of the motion three days before
the scheduled hearing. Although the presiding judge inhibited himself from the case on motion of the
Taronas, the new judge to whom the case was re-raffled stood by his predecessors previous orders.

By a special civil action for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA),8 however, the Taronas
succeeded in getting the latter court to annul the RTCs March 12 and June 2, 1998 orders.9 The CA
ruled that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in admitting Tallorins late answer in the absence of
a motion to admit it. Even if petitioner Tallorin had already filed her late answer, said the CA, the
RTC should have heard the Taronas motion to declare Tallorin in default.

Upon remand of the case, the RTC heard the Taronas motion to declare Tallorin in
default,10 granted the same, and directed the Taronas to present evidence ex parte.11

On January 30, 2002 the RTC rendered judgment, a) annulling the tax declaration in the names of
Tallorin, Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez, and Dolores Valdez; b) reinstating the tax declaration
in the name of Juanito; and c) ordering the issuance in its place of a new tax declaration in the
names of Juanitos heirs. The trial court also ruled that Juanitos affidavit authorizing the transfer of
the tax declaration had no binding force since he did not sign it. 1avvphi 1

Tallorin appealed the above decision to the CA,12 pointing out 1) that the land covered by the tax
declaration in question was titled in her name and in those of her two co-owners; 2) that Juanitos
affidavit only dealt with the surrender of his tenancy rights and did not serve as basis for canceling
Tax Declaration 463 in his name; 3) that, although Juanito did not sign the affidavit, he thumbmarked
and acknowledged the same before a notary public; and 4) that the trial court erred in not dismissing
the complaint for failure to implead Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez who
were indispensable parties in the action to annul Juanitos affidavit and the tax declaration in their
favor.13

On May 22, 2006 the CA rendered judgment, affirming the trial courts decision.14 The CA rejected all
of Tallorins arguments. Since she did not assign as error the order declaring her in default and since
she took no part at the trial, the CA pointed out that her claims were in effect mere conjectures, not
based on evidence of record.15 Notably, the CA did not address the issue Tallorin raised regarding
the Taronas failure to implead Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez as
indispensable party-defendants, their interest in the cancelled tax declarations having been affected
by the RTC judgment.

Questions Presented

The petition presents the following questions for resolution by this Court:

1. Whether or not the CA erred in failing to dismiss the Taronas complaint for not impleading
Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez in whose names, like their co-owner
Tallorin, the annulled tax declaration had been issued;

2. Whether or not the CA erred in not ruling that the Taronas complaint was barred by
prescription; and

3. Whether or not the CA erred in affirming the RTCs finding that Juanitos affidavit had no
legal effect because it was unsigned; when at the hearing of the motion to declare Tallorin in
default, it was shown that the affidavit bore Juanitos thumbmark.

The Courts Rulings

The first question, whether or not the CA erred in failing to dismiss the Taronas complaint for not
impleading Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez in whose names, like their co-
owner Tallorin, the annulled tax declaration had been issued, is a telling question.

The rules mandate the joinder of indispensable parties. Thus:

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 and defendants.16

Indispensable parties are those with such an interest in the controversy that a final decree would
necessarily affect their rights, so that the courts cannot proceed without their presence.17 Joining
indispensable parties into an action is mandatory, being a requirement of due process. Without their
presence, the judgment of the court cannot attain real finality.

Judgments do not bind strangers to the suit. The absence of an indispensable party renders all
subsequent actions of the court null and void. Indeed, it would have no authority to act, not only as to
the absent party, but as to those present as well. And where does the responsibility for impleading
all indispensable parties lie? It lies in the plaintiff.18

Here, the Taronas sought the annulment of the tax declaration in the names of defendant Tallorin
and two others, namely, Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez and, in its place,
the reinstatement of the previous declaration in their father Juanitos name. Further, the Taronas
sought to strike down as void the affidavit in which Juanito renounced his tenancy right in favor of
the same three persons. It is inevitable that any decision granting what the Taronas wanted would
necessarily affect the rights of such persons to the property covered by the tax declaration.

The Court cannot discount the importance of tax declarations to the persons in whose names they
are issued. Their cancellation adversely affects the rights and interests of such persons over the
properties that the documents cover. The reason is simple: a tax declaration is a primary evidence, if
not the source, of the right to claim title of ownership over real property, a right enforceable against
another person. The Court held in Uriarte v. People19 that, although not conclusive, a tax declaration
is a telling evidence of the declarants possession which could ripen into ownership.

In Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals,20 the Court said that no one in his right mind would pay
taxes for a property that he did not have in his possession. This honest sense of obligation proves
that the holder claims title over the property against the State and other persons, putting them on
notice that he would eventually seek the issuance of a certificate of title in his name. Further, the tax
declaration expresses his intent to contribute needed revenues to the Government, a circumstance
that strengthens his bona fide claim to ownership.21

Here, the RTC and the CA annulled Tax Declaration 6164 that belonged not only to defendant
Tallorin but also to Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez, which two persons had
no opportunity to be heard as they were never impleaded. The RTC and the CA had no authority to
annul that tax declaration without seeing to it that all three persons were impleaded in the case.

But the Taronas action cannot be dismissed outright. As the Court held in Plasabas v. Court of
Appeals,22 the non-joinder of indispensable parties is not a ground for dismissal. Section 11, Rule 3
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure prohibits the dismissal of a suit on the ground of non-joinder or
misjoinder of parties and allows the amendment of the complaint at any stage of the proceedings,
through motion or on order of the court on its own initiative. Only if plaintiff refuses to implead an
indispensable party, despite the order of the court, may it dismiss the action.

There is a need, therefore, to remand the case to the RTC with an order to implead Margarita
Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and Dolores Valdez as defendants so they may, if they so desire, be
heard.

In view of the Courts resolution of the first question, it would serve no purpose to consider the other
questions that the petition presents. The resolution of those questions seems to depend on the
complete evidence in the case. This will not yet happen until all the indispensable party-defendants
are impleaded and heard on their evidence.

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition and SETS ASIDE the decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Balanga, Bataan in Civil Case 6739 dated January 30, 2002 and the decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV 74762 dated May 22, 2006. The Court REMANDS the case to the Regional
Trial Court of Balanga, Bataan which is DIRECTED to have Margarita Pastelero Vda. de Valdez and
Dolores Valdez impleaded by the plaintiffs as party-defendants and, afterwards, to hear the case in
the manner prescribed by the rules.

SO ORDERED.

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 196894 March 3, 2014

JESUS G. CRISOLOGO and NANETTE B. CRISOLOGO, Petitioners,


vs.
JEWM AGRO-INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION, Respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court challenging the May 6,
2011 Decision1of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. SP No. 03896-MIN, which affirmed the
September 27, 2010,2 October 7, 20103 and November 9, 20104 Orders of the Regional Trial Court,
Davao City, Branch 14 (RTC-Br. 14), in Civil Case No. 33,551-2010, an action for Cancellation of
Lien. It is entitled "JEWM Agro-Industrial Corporation v. The Registry of Deeds for the City of Davao.
Sheriff Robert Medialdea. John & Jane Does. and all persons acting under their directions.

This controversy stemmed from various cases of collection for sum of money filed against So Keng
Kok, the owner of various properties including two (2) parcels of land covered by TCT Nos. 292597
and 292600 (subject properties), which were attached by various creditors including the petitioners
in this case. As a result, the levies were annotated on the back of the said titles.

Petitioners Jesus G. Crisologo and Nannette B. Crisologo (Spouses Crisologo) were the plaintiffs in
two (2) collection cases before RTC, Branch 15, Davao City (RTC-Br. 15), docketed as Civil Case
Nos. 26,810-98 and 26,811-98, against Robert Limso, So Keng Koc, et al. Respondent JEWM Agro-
Industrial Corporation (JEWM) was the successor-in-interest of one Sy Sen Ben, the plaintiff in
another collection case before RTC, Branch 8, Davao City (RTC-Br. 8), docketed as Civil Case No.
26,513-98, against the same defendants.

On October 19, 1998, RTC-Br. 8 rendered its decision based on a compromise agreement, dated
October 15, 1998, between the parties wherein the defendants in said case were directed to transfer
the subject properties in favor of Sy Sen Ben. The latter subsequently sold the subject properties to
one Nilda Lam who, in turn, sold the same to JEWM on June 1, 2000. Thereafter, TCT Nos. 325675
and 325676 were eventually issued in the name of JEWM, both of which still bearing the same
annotations as well as the notice of lis pendens in connection with the other pending cases filed
against So Keng Kok.

A year thereafter, Spouses Crisologo prevailed in the separate collection case filed before RTC-Br.
15 against Robert Lim So and So Keng Koc (defendants). Thus, on July 1, 1999, the said
defendants were ordered to solidarily pay the Spouses Crisologo. When this decision attained
finality, they moved for execution. On June 15, 2010, a writ was eventually issued.
Acting on the same, the Branch Sheriff issued a notice of sale scheduling an auction on August 26,
2010. The notice of sale included, among others, the subject properties covered by TCT Nos.
325675 and 325676, now, in the name of JEWM.
In the same proceedings, JEWM immediately filed its Affidavit of Third Party Claim and the Urgent
Motion Ad Cautelam. It prayed for the exclusion of the subject properties from the notice of sale. In
an order, dated August 26, 2010, however, the motion was denied. In turn, the Spouses Crisologo
posted a bond in order to proceed with the execution.

To protect its interest, JEWM filed a separate action for cancellation of lien with prayer for the
issuance of a preliminary injunction before RTC-Br. 14, docketed as Civil Case No. 33,551-2010. It
prayed for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to prevent the public sale of the subject
properties covered in the writ of execution issued pursuant to the ruling of RTC-Br. 15; the
cancellation of all the annotations on the back of the pertinent TCTs; and the issuance of a
permanent injunction order after trial on the merits. "The Register of Deeds of Davao City, Sheriff
Robert Medialdea, John and Jane Does and all persons acting under their direction" were impleaded
as defendants.

At the scheduled hearing before RTC-Br. 14 on September 22, 2010, Spouses Crisologos counsel
appeared and filed in open court their Very Urgent Manifestation questioning the authority of the said
court to restrain the execution proceedings in RTC-Br. 15. JEWM opposed it on the ground that
Spouses Crisologo were not parties in the case.

On September 24, 2010, Spouses Crisologo filed an Omnibus Motion praying for the denial of the
application for writ or preliminary injuction filed by JEWM and asking for their recognition as parties.
No motion to intervene was, however, filed as the Spouses Crisologo believed that it was
unnecessary since they were already the John and Jane Does named in the complaint.

In the Order, dated September 27, 2010, RTC-Br. 14 denied Spouses Crisologos Omnibus Motion
and granted JEWMs application for a writ of preliminary injunction.

On October 1, 2010, Spouses Crisologo filed a Very Urgent Omnibus Motion before RTC-Br. 14
praying for reconsideration and the setting aside of its September 27, 2010 Order. This was denied
in the RTC Br.-14s October 7, 2010 Order for lack of legal standing in court considering that their
counsel failed to make the written formal notice of appearance. The copy of this order was received
by Spouses Crisologo on October 22, 2010. It must be noted, however, that on October 27, 2010,
they received another order, likewise dated October 7, 2010, giving JEWM time to comment on their
Very Urgent Omnibus Motion filed on October 1, 2010. In its Order, dated November 9, 2010,
however, RTC-Br. 14 again denied the Very Urgent Motion previously filed by Spouses Crisologo.

On November 12, 2010, JEWM moved to declare the "defendants" in default which was granted in
an order given in open court on November 19, 2010.

Spouses Crisologo then filed their Very Urgent Manifestation, dated November 30, 2010, arguing
that they could not be deemed as defaulting parties because they were not referred to in the
pertinent motion and order of default.

On November 19, 2010, Spouses Crisologo filed with the CA a petition for certiorari5 under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court assailing the RTC-Br. 14 orders, dated September 27, 2010, October 7, 2010
and November 9, 2010, all of which denied their motion to be recognized as parties. They also
prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or a Writ of Preliminary
Injunction.

In its Resolution, dated January 6, 2011, the CA denied the application for a TRO, but directed
Spouses Crisologo to amend their petition. On January 19, 2011, the Spouses Crisologo filed their
Amended Petition6 with prayers for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction, the
annulment of the aforementioned orders of RTC Br. 14, and the issuance of an order dissolving the
writ of preliminary injunction issued in favor of JEWM.

Pending disposition of the Amended Petition by the CA, JEWM filed a motion on December 6, 2010
before RTC-Br. 14 asking for the resolution of the case on the merits.

On January 10, 2011, RTC-Br. 14 ruled in favor of JEWM, with the dispositive portion of its
Decision7 stating as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff as
follows:

1. the preliminary writ of injunction issued on October 5, 2010 is hereby made permanent;

2. directing herein defendant Registry of Deeds of Davao City where the subject lands are
located, to cancel all existing liens and encumbrances on TCT No. T-325675 and T-325676
registered in the name of the plaintiff, and pay the

3. cost of suit.

SO ORDERED.8

Spouses Crisologo then filed their Omnibus Motion Ex Abudanti ad Cautelam, asking RTC- Br. 14 to
reconsider the above decision. Because no motion for intervention was filed prior to the rendition of
the judgment, a certificate, dated March 17, 2011, was issued declaring the January 10, 2011
decision final and executory.

On May 6, 2011, the CA eventually denied the Amended Petition filed by Spouses Crisologo for lack
of merit. It ruled that the writ of preliminary injunction subject of the petition was already fait accompli
and, as such, the issue of grave abuse of discretion attributed to RTC-Br. 14 in granting the relief
had become moot and academic. It further held that the failure of Spouses Crisologo to file their
motion to intervene under Rule 19 rendered Rule 65 inapplicable as a vehicle to ventilate their
supposed right in the case.9

Hence, this petition.

ISSUES

I. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the action for Cancellation of Annotations may
proceed even without notice to and impleading the party/ies who caused the annotations, in
clear contravention of the rule on joinder of parties and basic due process.

II. The Court of Appeals erred in applying a very constrictive interpretation of the rules in
holding that a motion to intervene is the only way an otherwise real party in interest could
participate.

III. The Court of Appeals erred in denying our application for the issuance of a temporary
restraining order and/or a writ of preliminary injunction.

IV. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the issues raised by petitioners before it [had]
been mooted by the January 10, 2011 decision of RTC Branch 14.10
Spouses Crisologo submit as error the CA affirmation of the RTC- Br. 14 ruling that the action for
cancellation may proceed without them being impleaded. They allege deprivation of their right to due
process when they were not impleaded in the case before RTC-Br. 14 despite the claim that they
stand, as indispensable parties, to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the action for the
cancellation of annotations covering the subject properties. They cite Gonzales v. Judge
Bersamin,11 among others, as authority. In that case, the Court ruled that pursuant to Section 108 of
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529, notice must be given to all parties in interest before the court
may hear and determine the petition for the cancellation of annotations on the certificates of title.

The Spouses Crisologo also question the statement of the CA that their failure to file the motion to
intervene under Rule 19 before RTC-Br. 14 barred their participation in the cancellation proceedings.
They put emphasis on the courts duty to, at the very least, suspend the proceedings before it and
have such indispensable parties impleaded.

As to the ruling on the denial of their application for the issuance of a TRO or writ of preliminary
injunction, Spouses Crisologo claim that their adverse interest, evinced by the annotations at the
back of the certificates of title, warranted the issuance of a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction
against JEWMs attempt to cancel the said annotations in violation of their fundamental right to due
process.

Lastly, Spouses Crisologo cast doubt on the CA ruling that the issues presented in their petition
were mooted by the RTC-Br. 14 Decision, dated January 10, 2011. Having been rendered without
impleading indispensable parties, the said decision was void and could not have mooted their
petition.

In their Comment,12 JEWM asserts that Spouses Crisologos failure to file a motion to intervene,
pleadings-in-intervention, appeal or annulment of judgment, which were plain, speedy and adequate
remedies then available to them, rendered recourse to Rule 65 as improper; that Spouses Crisologo
lacked the legal standing to file a Rule 65 petition since they were not impleaded in the proceedings
before RTC-Br. 14; and that Spouses Crisologo were not indispensable parties since their rights
over the properties had been rendered ineffective by the final and executory October 19, 1998
Decision of RTC-Br. 8 which disposed unconditionally and absolutely the subject properties in favor
of its predecessor-in-interest.

JEWM further argues that, on the assumption that Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529 applies, no notice to
Spouses Crisologo was required because they were not real parties-in-interest in the case before
RTC-Br. 14, or even if they were, their non-participation in the proceedings was because of their
failure to properly intervene pursuant to Rule 19; and, lastly, that the case before RTC-Br. 14
became final and executory because Spouses Crisologos did not perfect an appeal therefrom, thus,
rendering the issues in the CA petition moot and academic.

In their Reply,13 Spouses Crisologo restate the applicability of Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529 to the
effect that any cancellation of annotation of certificates of title must be carried out by giving notice to
all parties-in-interest. This they forward despite their recognition of the mootness of their assertion
over the subject properties, to wit:

Again, we respect JAICs position that "the claims of subsequent attaching creditors (including
petitioners) have been rendered moot and academic, and hence the entries in favor of said creditors
have no more legal basis and therefore must be cancelled." But we likewise at least ask a modicum
of respect by at least being notified and heard.14

The Ruling of the Court


The crux of this controversy is whether the CA correctly ruled that RTC-Br. 14 acted without grave
abuse of discretion in failing to recognize Spouses Crisologo as indispensable parties in the case for
cancellation of lien.

In this respect, the Court agrees with Spouses Crisologo.

In an action for the cancellation of memorandum annotated at the back of a certificate of title, the
persons considered as indispensable include those whose liens appear as annotations pursuant to
Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529,15 to wit:

Section 108. Amendment and alteration of certificates. -No erasure, alteration or amendment shall
be made upon the registration book after the entry of a certificate of title or of a memorandum
thereon and the attestation of the same by the Register of Deeds, except by order of the proper
Court of First Instance. A registered owner or other person having an interest in registered property,
or, in proper cases, the Register of Deeds with the approval of the Commissioner of Land
Registration, may apply by petition to the court upon the ground that the registered interests of any
description, whether vested, contingent, expectant inchoate appearing on the certificate, have
terminated and ceased; or that new interest not appearing upon the certificates have arisen or been
created; or that an omission or error was made in entering a certificate or memorandum thereon, or
on any duplicate certificate; x x x or upon any other reasonable ground; and the court may hear and
determine the petition after notice to all parties in interest, and may order the entry or cancellation of
a new certificate, the entry or cancellation of a memorandum upon a certificate, or grant any other
relief upon such terms and conditions, requiring security or bond if necessary, as it may consider
proper.

In Southwestern University v. Laurente,16 the Court held that the cancellation of the annotation of an
encumbrance cannot be ordered without giving notice to the parties annotated in the certificate of
title itself. It would, thus, be an error for a judge to contend that no notice is required to be given to all
the persons whose liens were annotated at the back of a certificate of title.

Here, undisputed is the fact that Spouses Crisologos liens were indeed annotated at the back of
TCT Nos. 325675 and 325676. Thus, as persons with their liens annotated, they stand to be
benefited or injured by any order relative to the cancellation of annotations in the pertinent TCTs. In
other words, they are as indispensable as JEWM itself in the final disposition of the case for
cancellation, being one of the many lien holders.

As indispensable parties, Spouses Crisologo should have been joined as defendants in the case
pursuant to Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, to wit:

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.17

The reason behind this compulsory joinder of indispensable parties is the complete determination of
all possible issues, not only between the parties themselves but also as regards other persons who
may be affected by the judgment.18

In this case, RTC-Br. 14, despite repeated pleas by Spouses Crisologo to be recognized as
indispensable parties, failed to implement the mandatory import of the aforecited rule.

In fact, in Sps. Crisologo v. Judge George E. Omelio,19 a related administrative case, the Court found
the trial judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law when it disregarded the claims of Spouses
Crisologo to participate. In part, the Court stated:
This is not the first time Judge Omelio has rendered a decision affecting third parties interests,
without even notifying the indispensable parties. In the first disputed case, JEWM Agro-Industrial
Corporation v. Register of Deeds, Sheriff Medialdea, John & Jane Does and all persons acting under
their directions, Judge Omelio failed to cause the service of proper summons upon the John and
Jane Does impleaded in the complaint. Even when Sps. Crisologo voluntarily appeared in court to
be recognized as the John and Jane Does, Judge Omelio refused to acknowledge their appearance
and ordered the striking out of Sps. Crisologos' pleadings. For this reason, the Investigating Justice
recommended admonishing Judge Omelio for failing to recognize the Sps.Crisologo as
indispensable parties in that case.

xxx xxx xxx

Clearly, the cancellation of the annotation of the sale without notifying the buyers, Sps. Crisologo, is
a violation of the latters right to due process. Since this is the second time that Judge Omelio has
issued an order which fails to notify or summon the indispensable parties, we find Judge Omelio
guilty of gross ignorance of the law, with a warning that repetition of the same or similar act will merit
a stiffer penalty in the future.

xxx

WHEREFORE, We find Judge George E. Omelio GUILTY of four counts of the serious charge of
gross ignorance of the law for the following acts: (a) refusing to recognize Spouses Jesus G.
Crisologo and Nannette B. Crisologo as indispensable parties; in violation of the latter's right to
due process. Accordingly, we impose upon Judge George E. Omelio the penalty of fine of Forty
Thousand Pesos (40,000.00), with a warning that repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt
with more severely.

SO ORDERED.20

The trial court should have exercised prudence in denying Spouses Crisologos pleas to be
recognized as indispensable parties. In the words of the Court, "Judge Omelio should be penalized
for failing to recognize Sps. Crisologo as indispensable parties and for requiring them to file a motion
to intervene, considering that a simple perusal of the certificates of title would show Sps. Crisologos
adverse rights because their liens are annotated at the back of the titles."21

This manifest disregard of the basic rules and procedures constitutes a grave abuse of discretion.

In State Prosecutors II Comilang and Lagman v. Judge Medel Belen,22 the Court held as inexcusable
abuse of authority the trial judges "obstinate disregard of basic and established rule of law or
procedure." Such level of ignorance is not a mere error of judgment. It amounts to "evasion of a
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation
of law,"23 or in essence, grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

Needless to say, judges are expected to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes
and procedural laws. They must know the laws and apply them properly in good faith as judicial
competence requires no less.24

Despite the clear existence of grave abuse of discretion on the part of RTC-Br. 14, JEWM asserts
technical grounds on why the CA did not err in dismissing the petition via Rule 65. It states that:
a) The Crisologos could have used other available remedies such as intervention under Rule
19, an appeal of the judgment, or even an annulment of judgment, which are, by all means,
plain, speedy and adequate remedies in the ordinary course of law;

b) The Crisologos lack legal standing to file the Rule 65 petition since they were not
impleaded in the Branch 14 case.

The rule is that a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is proper only if there is no appeal, or any plain
speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

In this case, no adequate recourse, at that time, was available to Spouses Crisologo, except
resorting to Rule 65.

Although Intervention under Rule 19 could have been availed of, failing to use this remedy should
not prejudice Spouses Crisologo. It is the duty of RTC-Br. 14, following the rule on joinder of
indispensable parties, to simply recognize them, with or without any motion to intervene. Through a
cursory reading of the titles, the Court would have noticed the adverse rights of Spouses Crisologo
over the cancellation of any annotations in the subject TCTs.

Neither will appeal prove adequate as a remedy since only the original parties to an action can
appeal.25 Here, Spouses Crisologo were never impleaded. Hence, they could not have utilized
appeal as they never possessed the required legal standing in the first place.

And even if the Court assumes the existence of the legal standing to appeal, it must be remembered
that the questioned orders were interlocutory in character and, as such, Spouses Crisologo would
have to wait, for the review by appeal, until the rendition of the judgment on the merits, which at that
time may not be coming as speedy as practicable. While waiting, Spouses Crisologo would have to
endure the denial of their right, as indispensable parties, to participate in a proceeding in which their
indispensability was obvious. Indeed, appeal cannot constitute an adequate, speedy and plain
remedy.

The same is also true if recourse to Annulment of Judgment under Rule 47 is made since this
remedy presupposes a final judgment already rendered by a trial court.

At any rate, the remedy against an interlocutory order, not subject of an appeal, is an appropriate
special civil action under Rule 65, provided that the interlocutory order is rendered without or in
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. Only then is certiorari under Rule 65 allowed
to be resorted to.26

This takes particular relevance in this case where, as previously discussed, RTC-Br. 14 acted with
grave abuse of discretion in not recognizing Spouses Crisologo as indispensable parties to the
pertinent action.

Based on the above, recourse to the CA via Rule 65 would have already been proper, except for one
last issue, that is, Spouses Crisologos legal standing to file the same. JEWM cites DBP v.
COA27 where the Court held:

The petition for certiorari under Rule 65, however, is not available to any person who feels injured by
the decision of a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi judicial functions. The person
aggrieved under Section 1 of Rule 65 who can avail of the special civil action of certiorari pertains
only to one who was a party in the proceedings before the court a quo, or in this case before the
COA. To hold otherwise would open the courts to numerous and endless litigations.

Under normal circumstances, JEWM would be correct in their averment that the lack of legal
standing on the part of Spouses Crisologo in the case before RTC-Br. 14 prevents the latters
recourse via Rule 65.

This case, however, is an exception. In many instances, the Court has ruled that technical rules of
procedures should be used to promote, not frustrate the cause of justice. Rules of procedure are
tools designed not to thwart but to facilitate the attainment of justice; thus, their strict and rigid
application may, for good and deserving reasons, have to give way to, and be subordinated by, the
need to aptly dispense substantial justice in the normal cause.28

Be it noted that the effect of their non-participation as indispensable parties is to preclude the
judgment, orders and the proceedings from attaining finality. Time and again, the Court has ruled
that 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 to those present.
Consequently, the proceedings before RTC-Br. 14 were null and void including the assailed orders,
which may be "ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits its head."29

To turn a blind eye to the said nullity and, in turn, rule as improper the recourse to Rule 65 by the
lack of legal standing is to prolong the denial of due process to the persons whose interests are
indispensible to the final disposition of the case. It will only result in a protracted litigation as
Spouses Crisologo will be forced to rely on a petition for the annulment of judgment before the CA
(as the last remaining remedy), which may again reach this Court. To prevent multiplicity of suits
1wphi 1

and to expedite the swift administration of justice, the CA should have applied liberality by striking
down the assailed orders despite the lack of legal standing on the part of Spouses Crisologo to file
the Rule 65 petition before it. Besides, this lacking requirement, of which Spouses Crisologo were
not even at fault, is precisely the reason why this controversy arose.

All told, the CA erred in dismissing the amended petition filed before it and in not finding grave abuse
of discretion on the part of RTC-Br. 14.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The May 6, 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals is
NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. The September 27, 2010, October 7, 2010 and November 9, 2010
Orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14, Davao City, are likewise NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE.
Civil Case No. 33,551-2010 is hereby REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings. The
respondent is ordered to implead all parties whose annotations appear at the back of Transfer
Certificate of Title Nos. 325675 and 325676.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 186610 July 29, 2013

POLICE SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT DIMAPINTO MACAWADIB, Petitioner,


vs.
THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE DIRECTORATE FOR PERSONNEL AND RECORDS
MANAGEMENT,Respondent.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to
nullify and set aside the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA), dated December
17, 2008 and February 25, 2009, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 02120-MIN. The assailed CA
judgment nullified the December 4, 2001 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Marawi City,
Branch 8, in Spl. Proc. No. 782-01, while the questioned CA Resolution denied petitioner's Motion
for Reconsideration.

The factual and procedural antecedents of the case are as follows:

Petitioner was a police officer with the rank of Police Senior Superintendent. On July 30, 2001,
pursuant to the provisions of Section 39 of Republic Act 6975, otherwise known as the "Department
of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990," the Chief of Directorial Staff of the Philippine
National Police (PNP) issued General Order No. 1168, enumerating the names of commissioned
officers who were subject to compulsory retirement on various dates in the month of January 2002
by virtue of their attainment of the compulsory retirement age of 56. Among the names included in
the said Order was that of petitioner, who was supposed to retire on January 11, 2002, as the files of
the PNP Records Management Division indicate that he was born on January 11, 1946.

On September 3, 2001, petitioner filed an application for late registration of his birth with the
Municipal Civil Registrar's Office of Mulondo, Lanao del Sur. In the said application, petitioner swore
under oath that he was born on January 11, 1956. The application was, subsequently, approved.

On October 15, 2001, petitioner filed with the RTC of Marawi City, Branch 8, a Petition for Correction
of Entry in the Public Service Records Regarding the Birth Date. Pertinent portions of his allegations
are as follows:

xxxx

1. That herein petitioner is 45 years old, married, Filipino citizen, PNP (Police
Superintendent) by occupation and resident of Camp Bagong Amai, Pakpak, Marawi City. x
x x;

2. That on January 11, 1956, herein petitioner was born in Mulondo, Lanao del Sur, x x x,
copy of his live birth certificate is attached and marked as Annex "A", for ready reference;

3. That when petitioner herein joined with (sic) the government service, particularly the local
police force and later on the Integrated National Police, he honestly entered his birth date as
January 11, 1946, while in his (sic) Government Service Insurance System (GSIS, in short)
and National Police Commission, he erroneously entered his birth date as January 11, 1946,
which entry are honestly based on estimation, as Muslim (sic) in the south do not register
their marriages and births before;

4. That herein petitioner has correctly entered his true and correct birth date, January 11,
1956, in his Service Record at the National Headquarters, Philippine National Police,
Directorate for Personnel and Records Management, Camp Crame, Quezon City, copy of
which is attached and marked as Annex "B", x x x;

5. That herein petitioner is submitting Joint Affidavit of two (2) disinterested person (sic) x x x;

6. That this petition is not intended to defraud anybody but to establish the true and correct
birth date of herein petitioner.

x x x x4

The petition was docketed as Spl. Proc. No. 782-01.

On December 4, 2001, the RTC rendered its Decision, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of petitioner DIMAPINTO BABAI


MACAWADIB, to wit:

1. Ordering the Chief, Records Management, PNP NHQ, Camp Crame, Quezon City, to
make a correction upon the birth date of herein petitioner to January 11, 1956;

2. Ordering the Director, Personnel and Records Management Service, NAPOLCOM, Makati
City, to make correction upon the birth date of herein petitioner from January 11, 1946 to
January 11, 1956; and

3. Ordering the Chief, Records of the Civil Service Commission, Manila and all other offices
concern (sic), to make the necessary correction in the Public Records of herein petitioner to
January 11, 1956.

SO ORDERED.5

Subsequently, the RTC issued an Entry of Final Judgment6 indicating therein that its December 4,
2001 Decision in Spl. Proc. No. 782-01 has become final and executory on March 13, 2002.

On January 8, 2008, herein respondent filed a Petition for Annulment of Judgment with Prayer for
the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction with the CA,
seeking to nullify the above-mentioned Decision of the RTC on the ground that the trial court failed to
acquire jurisdiction over the PNP, "an unimpleaded indispensable party."7

On December 17, 2008, the CA promulgated its assailed Decision with the following dispositive
portion:

WHEREFORE, finding the instant petition impressed with merit, the same is hereby GRANTED. The
assailed Decision dated December 4, 2001 of the respondent court in Spl. Proc. No. 782-01 is
NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. Also, so as to prevent further damage upon the PNP, let a permanent
injunction issue in the meantime, barring the private respondent Dimapinto Babai Macawadib from
continuing and prolonging his tenure with the PNP beyond the mandatory retirement age of fifty-six
(56) years.

SO ORDERED.8

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,9 but the CA denied it in its Resolution10 dated February
25, 2009.

Hence, the instant petition with the following Assignment of Errors:

1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PNP-DPRM IS


AN INDISPENSABLE PARTY IN SPECIAL PROCEEDING NO. 782-01 AND THAT THE
RTC HAVE (sic) NOT ACQUIRED JURISDICTION OVER THE PERSON OF THE
PNPDPRM.

2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING CA-G.R. SP


NO. 02120-MIN DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE ASSAILED RTC DECISION DATED
DECEMBER 4, 2001 IN SPECIAL PROCEEDING NO. 782-01 HAS LONG BECOME FINAL
AND EXECUTORY AND WAS IN FACT FULLY AND COMPLETELY EXECUTED AFTER
THE PNP-DPRM CORRECTED THE DATE OF BIRTH OF THE PETITIONER FROM
JANUARY 11, 1946 TO JANUARY 11, 1956.

3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PNP-DPRM IS


NOT ESTOPPED FROM ASSAILING THE VALIDITY OF THE RTC DECISION IN SPECIAL
PROCEEDING NO. 782-01.

4. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING CA-G.R. SP


NO. 02120-MIN FOR BEING INSUFFICIENT IN FORM AND SUBSTANCE.11

In his first assigned error, petitioner contends that respondent is not an indispensable party. The
1w phi1

Court is not persuaded. On the contrary, the Court agrees with the ruling of the CA that it is the
integrity and correctness of the public records in the custody of the PNP, National Police
Commission (NAPOLCOM) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) which are involved and which
would be affected by any decision rendered in the petition for correction filed by herein petitioner.
The aforementioned government agencies are, thus, required to be made parties to the proceeding.
They are indispensable parties, without whom no final determination of the case can be had. An
indispensable party is defined as one who has such an interest in the controversy or subject matter
that a final adjudication cannot be made, in his absence, without injuring or affecting that
interest.12 In the fairly recent case of Go v. Distinction Properties Development and Construction,
Inc.,13 the Court had the occasion to reiterate the principle that:

Under Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, "parties in interest without whom no final
determination can be had of an action shall be joined as plaintiffs or defendants." If there is a failure
to implead an indispensable party, any judgment rendered would have no effectiveness.

It is "precisely when an indispensable party is not before the court (that) an action should be
dismissed. 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 to those present." The
purpose of the rules on joinder of indispensable parties is a complete determination of all issues not
only between the parties themselves, but also as regards other persons who may be affected by the
judgment. A decision valid on its face cannot attain real finality where there is want of indispensable
parties.14
Citing previous authorities, the Court also held in the Go case that:

The general rule with reference to the making of parties in a civil action requires the joinder of all
indispensable parties under any and all conditions, their presence being a sine qua non of the
exercise of judicial power. (Borlasa v. Polistico, 47 Phil. 345, 348) For this reason, our Supreme
Court has held that when it appears of record that there are other persons interested in the subject
matter of the litigation, who are not made parties to the action, it is the duty of the court to suspend
the trial until such parties are made either plaintiffs or defendants. (Pobre, et al. v. Blanco, 17 Phil.
156). x x x Where the petition failed to join as party defendant the person interested in sustaining the
proceeding in the court, the same should be dismissed. x x x When an indispensable party is not
before the court, the action should be dismissed.15

The burden of procuring the presence of all indispensable parties is on the plaintiff.16

In the instant case, there is a necessity to implead the PNP, NAPOLCOM and CSC because they
stand to be adversely affected by petitioner's petition which involves substantial and controversial
alterations in petitioner's service records. Moreover, as correctly pointed out by the

Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), if petitioner's service is extended by ten years, the
government, through the PNP, shall be burdened by the additional salary and benefits that would
have to be given to petitioner during such extension. Thus, aside from the OSG, all other agencies
which may be affected by the change should be notified or represented as the truth is best
ascertained under an adversary system of justice.

As the above-mentioned agencies were not impleaded in this case much less given notice of the
proceedings, the decision of the trial court granting petitioner's prayer for the correction of entries in
his service records, is void. As mentioned above, 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.17

On the question of whether or not respondent is estopped from assailing the decision of the RTC for
failure of the OSG, as government representative, to participate in the proceedings before the trial
court or to file an opposition to petitioner's petition for correction of entries in his service records, this
Court rules that such an apparent oversight has no bearing on the validity of the appeal which the
petitioner filed before the CA. Neither can the State, as represented by the government, be
considered in estoppel due to the petitioner's seeming acquiescence to the judgment of the RTC
when it initially made corrections to some of petitioner's records with the PNP. This Court has
reiterated time and again that the absence of opposition from government agencies is of no
controlling significance, because the State cannot be estopped by the omission, mistake or error of
its officials or agents.18 Nor is the Republic barred from assailing the decision granting the petition for
correction of entries if, on the basis of the law and the evidence on record, such petition has no
merit.19

As to the second and last assigned errors, suffice it to say that considering that the assailed decision
of the RTC is null and void, the same could not have attained finality. Settled is the rule that a void
judgment cannot attain finality and its execution has no basis in law.20

At this juncture, it may not be amiss to point out that, like the CA, this Court cannot help but entertain
serious doubts on the veracity of petitioner's claim that he was indeed born in 1956. The late
registration of petitioner's certificate of live birth on September 3, 2001 was made forty-five (45)
years after his supposed birth and a mere 34 days after the PNP's issuance of its Order for his
compulsory retirement. He had all the time to make such registration but why did he do it only when
he was about to retire?

The Court, likewise, agrees with the observation of the OSG that, if petitioner was indeed born in
1956, he would have been merely 14 years old in 1970 when he was appointed as Chief of Police of
Mulondo, Lanao del Sur. This would not have been legally tenable, considering that Section 9 of RA
4864, otherwise known as the Police Act of 1966, provides, among others, that a person shall not be
appointed to a local police agency if he is less than twenty-three years of age. Moreover, realistically
speaking, it would be difficult to believe that a 14-year old minor would serve as a police officer,
much less a chief of police.

The Court also gives credence to the pronouncement made by the CA which took judicial notice that
in the several hearings of the petition before the appellate court where the petitioner was present,
the CA observed that "in the several hearings of this petition before Us where the private respondent
was present, he does not really appear to be 52 years old but his old age of 62."21

It can be argued that petitioner's belatedly registered certificate of live birth, as a public document,
enjoys the presumption of validity. However, petitioner merely relied on such presumption without
presenting any other convincing or credible evidence to prove that he was really born in 1956. On
the contrary, the specific facts attendant in the case at bar, as well as the totality of the evidence
presented during the hearing of the case in the court a quo, sufficiently negate the presumption of
regularity accorded to petitioner's belatedly registered birth certificate.

In this regard, it is also apropos to mention that, in cases of correction or change of information
based on belatedly registered birth certificates, the CSC no longer requires a court order to warrant
such correction or change of information in its records. However, in an apparent move to safeguard
its records, the CSC imposes the submission of additional evidence that would prove the veracity of
the entries in a belatedly registered birth certificate. Thus, the CSC, in its Memorandum Circular No.
31, dated November 20, 2001, demands that, aside from the said birth certificate, the person
requesting the correction or change of information must submit other authenticated supporting
documents, such as baptismal certificate, affidavits of two disinterested witnesses, and "other
employment, personal or school records which would support the entry reflected in the delayed
registered birth certificate and which entry is requested to be reflected in the records of the
Commission as the true and correct entry." In the instant case, petitioner was only able to submit
affidavits of two witnesses, who were not really proven to be disinterested and whose testimonies
were not even tested in the crucible of cross-examination. On the contrary, the other pieces of
documentary evidence on record, such as his marriage certificate, and his school and service
records, contradict his claims and show that he was, in fact, born in 1946.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Decision dated December 17,
2008 and the Resolution dated February 25, 2009 of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. SP No.
02120-MIN, are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 198010 August 12, 2013

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER,


vs.
DR. NORMA S. LUGSANAY UY, RESPONDENT.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are the Court of
Appeals (CA)1Decision2 dated February 18, 2011 and Resolution3 dated July 27, 2011 in CA-G.R.
CV No. 00238-MIN. The assailed decision dismissed the appeal filed by petitioner Republic of the
Philippines and, consequently, affirmed in toto the June 28, 2004 Order4 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 27, Gingoog City in Special Proceedings No. 230-2004 granting the Petition for
Correction of Entry of Certificate of Live Birth filed by respondent Dr. Norma S. Lugsanay Uy; while
the assailed resolution denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration.

The facts of the case are as follows:

On March 8, 2004, respondent filed a Petition for Correction of Entry in her Certificate of Live
Birth.5 Impleaded as respondent is the Local Civil Registrar of Gingoog City. She alleged that she
was born on February 8, 1952 and is the illegitimate daughter of Sy Ton and Sotera Lugsanay6 Her
Certificate of Live Birth7 shows that her full name is "Anita Sy" when in fact she is allegedly known to
her family and friends as "Norma S. Lugsanay." She further claimed that her school records,
Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Board of Medicine Certificate,8 and passport9 bear the
name "Norma S. Lugsanay." She also alleged that she is an illegitimate child considering that her
parents were never married, so she had to follow the surname of her mother.10 She also contended
that she is a Filipino citizen and not Chinese, and all her siblings bear the surname Lugsanay and
are all Filipinos.11

Respondent allegedly filed earlier a petition for correction of entries with the Office of the Local Civil
Registrar of Gingoog City to effect the corrections on her name and citizenship which was
supposedly granted.12 However, the National Statistics Office (NSO) records did not bear such
changes. Hence, the petition before the RTC.

On May 13, 2004, the RTC issued an Order13 finding the petition to be sufficient in form and
substance and setting the case for hearing, with the directive that the said Order be published in a
newspaper of general circulation in the City of Gingoog and the Province of Misamis Oriental at least
once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks at the expense of respondent, and that the order and
petition be furnished the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the City Prosecutors Office for
their information and guidance.14 Pursuant to the RTC Order, respondent complied with the
publication requirement.

On June 28, 2004, the RTC issued an Order in favor of respondent, the dispositive portion of which
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. THE CITY CIVIL
REGISTRAR OF GINGOOG CITY, or any person acting in his behalf is directed and ordered to
effect the correction or change of the entries in the Certificate of Live Birth of petitioners name and
citizenship so that the entries would be:

a) As to petitioners name :
First Name : NORMA

Middle Name : SY
Last Name : LUGSANAY
b) As to petitioners nationality/citizenship :
: FILIPINO

SO ORDERED.15

The RTC concluded that respondents petition would neither prejudice the government nor any third
party. It also held that the names "Norma Sy Lugsanay" and "Anita Sy" refer to one and the same
person, especially since the Local Civil Registrar of Gingoog City has effected the correction.
Considering that respondent has continuously used and has been known since childhood as "Norma
Sy Lugsanay" and as a Filipino citizen, the RTC granted the petition to avoid confusion.16

On February 18, 2011, the CA affirmed in toto the RTC Order. The CA held that respondents failure
to implead other indispensable parties was cured upon the publication of the Order setting the case
for hearing in a newspaper of general circulation for three (3) consecutive weeks and by serving a
copy of the notice to the Local Civil Registrar, the OSG and the City Prosecutors Office.17 As to
whether the petition is a collateral attack on respondents filiation, the CA ruled in favor of
respondent, considering that her parents were not legally married and that her siblings birth
certificates uniformly state that their surname is Lugsanay and their citizenship is
Filipino.18 Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated July 27, 2011.

Hence, the present petition on the sole ground that the petition is dismissible for failure to implead
indispensable parties.

Cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry is governed by Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court, to wit:

SEC. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning
the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for
the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the
province where the corresponding civil registry is located.

SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon good and valid grounds, the following
entries in the civil register may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d)
legal separations; (e) judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void
from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j)
naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial
determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name.

SEC. 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is sought, the civil
registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be
made parties to the proceeding.
SEC. 4. Notice and Publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by an order, fix the
time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice thereof to be given to the
persons named in the petition. The court shall also cause the order to be published once a week for
three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province.

SEC. 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any interest under the
entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen (15) days from notice of the
petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto.

SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. The court in which the proceeding is brought may make orders
expediting the proceedings, and may also grant preliminary injunction for the preservation of the
rights of the parties pending such proceedings.

SEC. 7. Order. After hearing, the court may either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting
the cancellation or correction prayed for. In either case, a certified copy of the judgment shall be
served upon the civil registrar concerned who shall annotate the same in his record.19

In this case, respondent sought the correction of entries in her birth certificate, particularly those
pertaining to her first name, surname and citizenship. She sought the correction allegedly to reflect
the name which she has been known for since childhood, including her legal documents such as
passport and school and professional records. She likewise relied on the birth certificates of her full
blood siblings who bear the surname "Lugsanay" instead of "Sy" and citizenship of "Filipino" instead
of "Chinese." The changes, however, are obviously not mere clerical as they touch on respondents
filiation and citizenship. In changing her surname from "Sy" (which is the surname of her father) to
"Lugsanay" (which is the surname of her mother), she, in effect, changes her status from legitimate
to illegitimate; and in changing her citizenship from Chinese to Filipino, the same affects her rights
and obligations in this country. Clearly, the changes are substantial.

It has been settled in a number of cases starting with Republic v. Valencia20 that even substantial
errors in a civil registry may be corrected and the true facts established provided the parties
aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary proceeding.21 The
pronouncement of the Court in that case is illuminating:

It is undoubtedly true that if the subject matter of a petition is not for the correction of clerical errors
of a harmless and innocuous nature, but one involving nationality or citizenship, which is indisputably
substantial as well as controverted, affirmative relief cannot be granted in a proceeding summary in
nature. However, it is also true that a right in law may be enforced and a wrong may be remedied as
long as the appropriate remedy is used. This Court adheres to the principle that even substantial
errors in a civil registry may be corrected and the true facts established provided the parties
aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary proceeding. x x x

What is meant by "appropriate adversary proceeding?" Blacks Law Dictionary defines "adversary
proceeding" as follows:

One having opposing parties; contested, as distinguished from an ex parte application, one of which
the party seeking relief has given legal warning to the other party, and afforded the latter an
opportunity to contest it. Excludes an adoption proceeding.22

In sustaining the RTC decision, the CA relied on the Courts conclusion in Republic v. Kho,23 Alba v.
Court of Appeals,24 and Barco v. Court of Appeals,25 that the failure to implead indispensable parties
was cured by the publication of the notice of hearing pursuant to the provisions of Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court. In Republic v. Kho,26 petitioner therein appealed the RTC decision granting the
petition for correction of entries despite respondents failure to implead the minors mother as an
indispensable party. The Court, however, did not strictly apply the provisions of Rule 108, because it
opined that it was highly improbable that the mother was unaware of the proceedings to correct the
entries in her childrens birth certificates especially since the notices, orders and decision of the trial
court were all sent to the residence she shared with them.27

In Alba v. Court of Appeals,28 the Court found nothing wrong with the trial courts decision granting
the petition for correction of entries filed by respondent although the proceedings was not actually
known by petitioner. In that case, petitioners mother and guardian was impleaded in the petition for
correction of entries, and notices were sent to her address appearing in the subject birth certificate.
However, the notice was returned unserved, because apparently she no longer lived there. Thus,
when she allegedly learned of the granting of the petition, she sought the annulment of judgment
which the Court denied. Considering that the petition for correction of entries is a proceeding in rem,
the Court held that acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner is, therefore, not
required and the absence of personal service was cured by the trial courts compliance with Rule
108 which requires notice by publication.29

In Barco v. Court of Appeals,30 the Court addressed the question of whether the court acquired
jurisdiction over petitioner and all other indispensable parties to the petition for correction of entries
despite the failure to implead them in said case. While recognizing that petitioner was indeed an
indispensable party, the failure to implead her was cured by compliance with Section 4 of Rule 108
which requires notice by publication. In so ruling, the Court pointed out that the petitioner in a petition
for correction cannot be presumed to be aware of all the parties whose interests may be affected by
the granting of a petition. It emphasized that the petitioner therein exerted earnest effort to comply
with the provisions of Rule 108. Thus, the publication of the notice of hearing was considered to
have cured the failure to implead indispensable parties.

In this case, it was only the Local Civil Registrar of Gingoog City who was impleaded as respondent
in the petition below. This, notwithstanding, the RTC granted her petition and allowed the correction
sought by respondent, which decision was affirmed in toto by the CA.

We do not agree with the RTC and the CA.

This is not the first time that the Court is confronted with the issue involved in this case. Aside from
Kho, Alba and Barco, the Court has addressed the same in Republic v. Coseteng-
Magpayo,31 Ceruila v. Delantar,32 and Labayo-Rowe v. Republic.33

In Republic v. Coseteng-Magpayo,34 claiming that his parents were never legally married,
respondent therein filed a petition to change his name from "Julian Edward Emerson Coseteng
Magpayo," the name appearing in his birth certificate to "Julian Edward Emerson Marquez Lim
Coseteng." The notice setting the petition for hearing was published and there being no opposition
thereto, the trial court issued an order of general default and eventually granted respondents petition
deleting the entry on the date and place of marriage of parties; correcting his surname from
"Magpayo" to "Coseteng"; deleting the entry "Coseteng" for middle name; and deleting the entry
"Fulvio Miranda Magpayo, Jr." in the space for his father. The Republic of the Philippines, through
the OSG, assailed the RTC decision on the grounds that the corrections made on respondents birth
certificate had the effect of changing the civil status from legitimate to illegitimate and must only be
effected through an appropriate adversary proceeding. The Court nullified the RTC decision for
respondents failure to comply strictly with the procedure laid down in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
Aside from the wrong remedy availed of by respondent as he filed a petition for Change of Name
under Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, assuming that he filed a petition under Rule 108 which is the
appropriate remedy, the petition still failed because of improper venue and failure to implead the
Civil Registrar of Makati City and all affected parties as respondents in the case.

In Ceruila v. Delantar,35 the Ceruilas filed a petition for the cancellation and annulment of the birth
certificate of respondent on the ground that the same was made as an instrument of the crime of
simulation of birth and, therefore, invalid and spurious, and it falsified all material entries therein. The
RTC issued an order setting the case for hearing with a directive that the same be published and
that any person who is interested in the petition may interpose his comment or opposition on or
before the scheduled hearing. Summons was likewise sent to the Civil Register of Manila. After
which, the trial court granted the petition and nullified respondents birth certificate. Few months
after, respondent filed a petition for the annulment of judgment claiming that she and her guardian
were not notified of the petition and the trial courts decision, hence, the latter was issued without
jurisdiction and in violation of her right to due process. The Court annulled the trial courts decision
for failure to comply with the requirements of Rule 108, especially the non-impleading of respondent
herself whose birth certificate was nullified.1wphi1

In Labayo-Rowe v. Republic,36 petitioner filed a petition for the correction of entries in the birth
certificates of her children, specifically to change her name from Beatriz V. Labayu/Beatriz Labayo to
Emperatriz Labayo, her civil status from "married" to "single," and the date and place of marriage
from "1953-Bulan" to "No marriage." The Court modified the trial courts decision by nullifying the
portion thereof which directs the change of petitioners civil status as well as the filiation of her child,
because it was the OSG only that was made respondent and the proceedings taken was summary in
nature which is short of what is required in cases where substantial alterations are sought.

Respondents birth certificate shows that her full name is Anita Sy, that she is a Chinese citizen and
a legitimate child of Sy Ton and Sotera Lugsanay. In filing the petition, however, she seeks the
correction of her first name and surname, her status from "legitimate" to "illegitimate" and her
citizenship from "Chinese" to "Filipino." Thus, respondent should have impleaded and notified not
only the Local Civil Registrar but also her parents and siblings as the persons who have interest and
are affected by the changes or corrections respondent wanted to make.

The fact that the notice of hearing was published in a newspaper of general circulation and notice
thereof was served upon the State will not change the nature of the proceedings taken.37 A reading
of Sections 4 and 5, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court shows that the Rules mandate two sets of
notices to different potential oppositors: one given to the persons named in the petition and another
given to other persons who are not named in the petition but nonetheless may be considered
interested or affected parties.38 Summons must, therefore, be served not for the purpose of vesting
the courts with jurisdiction but to comply with the requirements of fair play and due process to afford
the person concerned the opportunity to protect his interest if he so chooses.39

While there may be cases where the Court held that the failure to implead and notify the affected or
interested parties may be cured by the publication of the notice of hearing, earnest efforts were
made by petitioners in bringing to court all possible interested parties.40 Such failure was likewise
excused where the interested parties themselves initiated the corrections proceedings;41 when there
is no actual or presumptive awareness of the existence of the interested parties;42 or when a party is
inadvertently left out.43

It is clear from the foregoing discussion that when a petition for cancellation or correction of an entry
in the civil register involves substantial and controversial alterations, including those on citizenship,
legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, a strict compliance with the requirements
of Rule 108 ofthe Rules of Court is mandated.44 If the entries in the civil register could be corrected
or changed through mere summary proceedings and not through appropriate action wherein all
parties who may be affected by the entries are notified or represented, the door to fraud or other
mischief would be set open, the consequence of which might be detrimental and far reaching.45

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Court of Appeals
Decision dated February 18, 2011 and Resolution dated July 27, 20011 in CA-G.R. CV No. 00238-
MIN, are SET ASIDE. Consequently, the June 28, 2004 Order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
27, Gingoog City, in Spl. Proc. No. 230-2004 granting the Petition for Correction of Entry of
Certificate of Live Birth filed by respondent Dr. Norma S. Lugsanay Uy, is NULLIFIED.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Baguio City

EN BANC

G.R. No. 180771 April 21, 2015

RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED SEASCAPE TAON STRAIT, e.g.,


TOOTHED WHALES, DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN SPECIES, Joined in
and Represented herein by Human Beings Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Rose-Liza Eisma-
Osorio, In Their Capacity as Legal Guardians of the Lesser Life-Forms and as Responsible
Stewards of God's Creations, Petitioners,
vs.
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy
(DOE), SECRETARY JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, DENR Regional
Director-Region VII and in his capacity as Chairperson of the Taon Strait Protected
Seascape Management Board, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR),
DIRECTOR MALCOLM J. SARMIENTO, JR., BFAR Regional Director for Region VII ANDRES
M. BOJOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its
Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC. Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 181527

CENTRAL VISAYAS FISHERFOLK DEVELOPMENT CENTER (FIDEC), CERILO D. ENGARCIAL,


RAMON YANONG, FRANCISCO LABID, in their personal capacity and as representatives of
the SUBSISTENCE FISHERFOLKS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES OF ALOGUINSAN AND
PINAMUNGAJAN, CEBU, AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS WHOSE RIGHTS ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED, Petitioners,
vs.
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy
(DOE), JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, in his capacity as DENR Regional
Director-Region VII and as Chairperson of the Taon Strait Protected Seascape Management
Board, ALAN ARRANGUEZ, in his capacity as Director - Environmental Management Bureau-
Region VII, DOE Regional Director for Region VIII1 ANTONIO LABIOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM
EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD
SERVICES, INC., Respondents.

CONCURRING OPINION

"Until one has loved an animal,


a part of one 's soul remains unawakened."

Anatole France

LEONEN, J.:

I concur in the result, with the following additional reasons.

In G.R. No. 180771, petitioners Resident Marine Mammals allegedly bring their case in their
personal capacity, alleging that they stand to benefit or be injured from the judgment on the issues.
The human petitioners implead themselves in a representative capacity "as legal guardians of the
lesser life-forms and as responsible stewards of God's Creations."1 They use Oposa v. Factoran,
Jr.2 as basis for their claim, asserting their right to enforce international and domestic environmental
laws enacted for their benefit under the concept of stipulation pour autrui.3As the representatives of
Resident Marine Mammals, the human petitioners assert that they have the obligation to build
awareness among the affected residents of Taon Strait as well as to protect the environment,
especially in light of the government's failure, as primary steward, to do its duty under the doctrine of
public trust.4

Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners also assert that through this case, this court
will have the opportunity to lower the threshold for locus standi as an exercise of "epistolary
jurisdiction."5

The zeal of the human petitioners to pursue their desire to protect the environment and to continue
to define environmental rights in the context of actual cases is commendable. However, the space
for legal creativity usually required for advocacy of issues of the public interest is not so unlimited
that it should be allowed to undermine the other values protected by current substantive and
procedural laws. Even rules of procedure as currently formulated set the balance between
competing interests. We cannot abandon these rules when the necessity is not clearly and
convincingly presented.

The human petitioners, in G.R. No. 180771, want us to create substantive and procedural rights for
animals through their allegation that they can speak for them. Obviously, we are asked to accept the
premises that (a) they were chosen by the Resident Marine Mammals of Taon Strait; (b) they were
chosen by a representative group of all the species of the Resident Marine Mammals; (c) they were
able to communicate with them; and (d) they received clear consent from their animal principals that
they would wish to use human legal institutions to pursue their interests. Alternatively, they ask us to
acknowledge through judicial notice that the interests that they, the human petitioners, assert are
identical to what the Resident Marine Mammals would assert had they been humans and the legal
strategies that they invoked are the strategies that they agree with.
In the alternative, they want us to accept through judicial notice that there is a relationship of
guardianship between them and all the resident mammals in the affected ecology.

Fundamental judicial doctrines that may significantly change substantive and procedural law cannot
be founded on feigned representation.

Instead, I agree that the human petitioners should only speak for themselves and already have legal
standing to sue with respect to the issue raised in their pleading. The rules on standing have already
been liberalized to take into consideration the difficulties in the assertion of environmental rights.
When standing becomes too liberal, this can be the occasion for abuse.

II

Rule 3, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, in part, provides:

SECTION 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. - Only natural or juridical persons, or
entities authorized by law may be parties in a civil action.

The Rules provide that parties may only be natural or juridical persons or entities that may be
authorized by statute to be parties in a civil action.

Basic is the concept of natural and juridical persons in our Civil Code:

ARTICLE 37. Juridical capacity, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations, is inherent in
every natural person and is lost only through death. Capacity to act, which is the power to do acts
with legal effect, is acquired and may be lost.

Article 40 further defines natural persons in the following manner:

ARTICLE 40. Birth determines personality; but the conceived child shall be considered born for all
purposes that are favorable to it, provided it be born later with the conditions specified 'in the
following article.

Article 44, on the other hand, enumerates the concept of a juridical person:

ARTICLE 44. The following are juridical persons:

(1) The State and its political subdivisions;

(2) Other corporations, institutions and entities for public interest or purpose, created by law;
their personality begins as soon as they have been constituted according to law;

(3) Corporations, partnerships and associations for private interest or purpose to which the
law grants a juridical personality, separate and distinct from that of each shareholder, partner
or member.

Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 implicitly suggest that we amend, rather than simply construe, the
provisions of the Rules of Court as well as substantive law to accommodate Resident Marine
Mammals or animals. This we cannot do.
Rule 3, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure further defines real party in interest:

SEC. 2. Parties in interest.-A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured
by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized
by law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in
interest. (2a)6

A litigant who stands to benefit or sustain an injury from the judgment of a case is a real party in
interest.7 When a case is brought to the courts, the real party in interest must show that another
party's act or omission has caused a direct injury, making his or her interest both material and based
on an enforceable legal right.8

Representatives as parties, on the other hand, are parties acting in representation of the real party in
interest, as defined in Rule 3, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 3. Representatives as parties. - Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a


representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title
of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of
an express rust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by law or these
Rules. An agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or
be sued without joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the
principal.(3a)9

The rule is two-pronged. First, it defines .a representative as a party who is not bound to directly or
actually benefit or suffer from the judgment, but instead brings a case in favor of an identified real
party in interest.10 The representative is an outsider to the cause of action. Second, the rule provides
a list of who may be considered as "representatives." It is not an exhaustive list, but the rule limits
the coverage only to those authorized by law or the Rules of Court.11

These requirements should apply even in cases involving the environment, which means that for the
Petition of the human petitioners to prosper, they must show that (a) the Resident Marine Mammals
are real parties in interest; and (b) that the human petitioners are authorized by law or the Rules to
act in a representative capacity.

The Resident Marine Mammals are comprised of "toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other
cetacean species inhabiting Taon Strait."12 While relatively new in Philippine jurisdiction, the issue
of whether animals have legal standing before courts has been the subject of academic discourse in
light of the emergence of animal and environmental rights.

In the United States, anim4l rights advocates have managed to establish a system which Hogan
explains as the "guardianship model for nonhuman animals":13

Despite Animal Lovers, there exists a well-established system by which nonhuman animals may
obtain judicial review to enforce their statutory rights and protections: guardianships. With court
approval, animal advocacy organizations may bring suit on behalf of nonhuman animals in the same
way court-appointed guardians bring suit on behalf of mentally-challenged humans who possess an
enforceable right but lack the ability to enforce it themselves.

In the controversial but pivotal Should Trees Have Standing?-Toward Legal Rights for Natural
Objects, Christopher D. Stone asserts that the environment should possess the right to seek judicial
redress even though it is incapable of representing itself. While asserting the rights of
speechless entities such as the environment or nonhuman animals certainly poses legitimate
challenges - such as identifying the proper spokesman -the American legal system is already well-
equipped with a reliable mechanism by which nonhumans may obtain standing via a judicially
established guardianship. Stone notes that other speechless - and nonhuman - entities such as
corporations, states, estates, and municipalities have standing to bring suit on their own behalf.
There is little reason to fear abuses under this regime as procedures for removal and substitution,
avoiding conflicts of interest, and termination of a guardianship are well established.

In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The
court indicated that AL VA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established
history of dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for
Animals had standing and indicated that another more well-known advocacy organization might
have had standing as well. The court further concluded that an organization's standing is more than
a derivative of its history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not well-
established prior to commencing legal action. ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not
identify previous activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to the dispute
independent of its desire to pursue legal action. The court's analysis suggests that a qualified
organization with a demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the
speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.

This Comment advocates a shift in contemporary standing doctrine to empower non-profit


organizations with an established history of dedication to the cause and relevant expertise to serve
as official guardians ad !item on behalf of nonhuman animals interests. The American legal system
has numerous mechanisms for representing the rights and interests of nonhumans; any challenges
inherent in extending these pre-existing mechanisms to nonhuman animals are minimal compared to
an interest in the proper administration of justice. To adequately protect the statutory rights of
nonhuman animals, the legal system must recognize those statutory rights independent of humans
and provide a viable means of enforcement. Moreover, the idea of a guardianship for speechless
plaintiffs is not new and has been urged on behalf of the natural environment. 'Such a model is even
more compelling as applied to nonhuman animals, because they are sentient beings with the ability
to feel pain and exercise rational thought. Thus, animals are qualitatively different from other legally
protected nonhumans and therefore have interests deserving direct legal protection.

Furthermore, the difficulty of enforcing the statutory rights of nonhuman animals threatens the
integrity of the federal statutes designed to protect them, essentially rendering them meaningless.
Sensing that laws protecting nonhuman animals would be difficult to enforce, Congress provided for
citizen suit provisions: the most well-known example is found in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Such provisions are evidence of legislative intent to encourage civic participation on behalf of
nonhuman animals. Our law of standing should reflect this intent and its implication that humans are
suitable representatives of the natural environment, which includes nonhuman animals.14 (Emphasis
supplied, citation omitted)

When a court allows guardianship as a basis of representation, animals are considered as similarly
situated as individuals who have enforceable rights but, for a legitimate reason (e.g., cognitive
disability), are unable to bring suit for themselves. They are also similar to entities that by their very
nature are incapable of speaking for themselves (e.g., corporations, states, and others).

In our jurisdiction, persons and entities are recognized both in law and the Rules of Court as having
standing to sue and, therefore, may be properly represented as real parties in interest. The same
cannot be said about animals.
Animals play an important role in households, communities, and the environment. While we, as
humans, may feel the need to nurture and protect them, we cannot go as far as saying we represent
their best interests and can, therefore, speak for them before the courts. As humans, we cannot be
so arrogant as to argue that we know the suffering of animals and that we know what remedy they
need in the face of an injury.

Even in Hogan's discussion, she points out that in a case before the United States District Court for
the Central District of California, Animal Lovers Volunteer Ass'n v. Weinberger,15 the court held that
an emotional response to what humans perceive to be an injury inflicted on an animal is not within
the "zone-of-interest" protected by law.16Such sympathy cannot stand independent of or as a
substitute for an actual injury suffered by the claimant.17 The ability to represent animals was further
limited in that case by the need to prove "genuine dedication" to asserting and protecting animal
rights:

What ultimately proved fatal to ALVA 's claim, however, was the court's assertion that standing
doctrine further required ALVA to differentiate its genuine dedication to the humane treatment of
animals from the general disdain for animal cruelty shared by the public at large. In doing so, the
court found ALVA 's asserted organizational injury to be abstract and thus relegated ALVA to the
ranks of the "concerned bystander. "

....

In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The
court indicated that ALVA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established
history of dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for
Animals had standing and indicated that another more well-known advocacy organization might
have had standing as well. The court further concluded that an organization's standing is more than
a derivative of its history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not well-
established prior to commencing legal action. ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not
identify previous activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to the dispute
independent of its desire to pursue legal action. The court's analysis suggests that a qualified
organization with a demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the
speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.18(Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)

What may be argued as being parallel to this concept of guardianship is the principle of human
stewardship over the environment in a citizen suit under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental
Cases. A citizen suit allows any Filipino to act as a representative of a party who has enforceable
rights under environmental laws before Philippine courts, and is defined in Section 5: .

SEC. 5. Citizen suit. - Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations
yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the
filing of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of the
cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to
intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order
once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays
copies of said order.

There is no valid reason in law or the practical requirements of this case to implead and feign
representation on behalf of animals. To have done so betrays a very anthropocentric view of
environmental advocacy. There is no way that we, humans, can claim to speak for animals let alone
present that they would wish to use our court system, which is designed to ensure that humans
seriously carry their responsibility including ensuring a viable ecology for themselves, which of
course includes compassion for all living things.

Our rules on standing are sufficient and need not be further relaxed.

In Arigo v. Swift,19 I posed the possibility of further reviewing the broad interpretation we have given
to the rule on standing. While representatives are not required to establish direct injury on their part,
they should only be allowed to represent after complying with the following: [I]t is imperative for them
to indicate with certainty the injured parties on whose behalf they bring the suit. Furthermore, the
interest of those they represent must be based upon concrete legal rights. It is not sufficient to draw
out a perceived interest from a general, nebulous idea of a potential "injury."20

I reiterate my position in Arigo v. Swift and in Paje v. Casio21 regarding this rule alongside the
appreciation of legal standing in Oposa v. Factoran22 for environmental cases. In Arigo, I opined that
procedural liberality, especially in cases brought by representatives, should be used with great
caution:

Perhaps it is time to revisit the ruling in Oposa v. Factoran.

That case was significant in that, at that time, there was need to call attention to environmental
concerns in light of emerging international legal principles. While "intergenerational responsibility" is
a noble principle, it should not be used to obtain judgments that would preclude future generations
from making their own assessment based on their actual concerns. The present generation must
restrain itself from assuming that it can speak best for those who will exist at a different time, under a
different set of circumstances. In essence, the unbridled resort to representative suit will inevitably
result in preventing future generations from protecting their own rights and pursuing their own
interests and decisions. It reduces the autonomy of our children and our children 's children. Even
before they are born, we again restricted their ability to make their own arguments.

It is my opinion that, at best, the use of the Oposa doctrine in environmental cases should be
allowed only when a) there is a clear legal basis for the representative suit; b) there are actual
concerns based squarely upon an existing legal right; c) there is no possibility of any countervailing
interests existing within the population represented or those that are yet to be born; and d) there is
an absolute necessity for such standing because there is a threat of catastrophe so imminent that an
immediate protective measure is necessary. Better still, in the light of its costs and risks, we
abandon the precedent all together.23 (Emphasis in the original)

Similarly, in Paje:

A person cannot invoke the court's jurisdiction if he or she has no right or interest to protect. He or
she who invokes the court's jurisdiction must be the "owner of the right sought to be enforced." In
other words, he or she must have a cause of action. An action may be dismissed on the ground of
lack of cause of action if the person who instituted it is not the real party in interest.24 The term
"interest" under the Rules of Court must refer to a material interest that is not merely a curiosity
about or an "interest in the question involved." The interest must be present and substantial. It is not
a mere expectancy or a future, contingent interest.

A person who is not a real party in interest may institute an action if he or she is suing as
representative of a .real party in interest. When an action is prosecuted or defended by a
representative, that representative is not and does not become the real party in interest. The person
represented is deemed the real party in interest. The representative remains to be a third party to the
action instituted on behalf of another.
....

To sue under this rule, two elements must be present: "(a) the suit is brought on behalf of an
identified party whose right has been violated, resulting in some form of damage, and (b) the
representative authorized by law or the Rules of Court to represent the victim."

The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases allows filing of a citizen's suit. A citizen's suit under
this rule allows any Filipino citizen to file an action for the enforcement of environmental law on
behalf of minors or generations yet unborn. It is essentially a representative suit that allows persons
who are not real parties in interest to institute actions on behalf of the real party in interest.

The expansion of what constitutes "real party in interest" to include minors and generations yet
unborn is a recognition of this court's ruling in Oposa v. Factoran. This court recognized the capacity
of minors (represented by their parents) to file a class suit on behalf of succeeding generations
based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility to ensure the future generation's access to
and enjoyment of [the] country's natural resources.

To allow citizen's suits to enforce environmental rights of others, including future generations, is
dangerous for three reasons:

First, they run the risk of foreclosing arguments of others who are unable to take part in the suit,
putting into. question its representativeness. Second, varying interests may potentially result in
arguments that are bordering on political issues, the resolutions of which do not fall upon this court.
Third, automatically allowing a class or citizen's suit on behalf of minors and generations yet unborn
may result in the oversimplification of what may be a complex issue, especially in light of the
impossibility of determining future generation's true interests on the matter.

In citizen's suits, persons who may have no interest in the case may file suits for others.
Uninterested persons will argue for the persons they represent, and the court will decide based on
their evidence and arguments. Any decision by the court will be binding upon the beneficiaries,
which in this case are the minors and the future generations. The court's decision will be res judicata
upon them and conclusive upon the issues presented.25

The danger in invoking Oposa v. Factoran to justify all kinds of environmental claims lies in its
potential to diminish the value of legitimate environmental rights. Extending the application of "real
party in interest" to the Resident Marine Mammals, or animals in general, through a judicial
pronouncement will potentially result in allowing petitions based on mere concern rather than an
actual enforcement of a right. It is impossible for animals to tell humans what their concerns are. At
best, humans can only surmise the extent of injury inflicted, if there be any. Petitions invoking a right
and seeking legal redress before this court cannot be a product of guesswork, and representatives
have the responsibility to ensure that they bring "reasonably cogent, rational, scientific, well-founded
arguments"26 on behalf of those they represent.

Creative approaches to fundamental problems should be welcome. However, they should be


considered carefully so that no unintended or unwarranted consequences should follow. I concur
with the approach of Madame Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro in her brilliant ponencia as it
carefully narrows down the doctrine in terms of standing. Resident Marine Mammals and the human
petitioners have no legal standing to file any kind of petition.

However, I agree that petitioners in G.R. No. 181527, namely, Central Visayas Fisherfolk
Development Center,. Engarcial, Yanong, and Labid, have standing both as real parties in interest
and as representatives of subsistence fisherfolks of the Municipalities of Aloguinsan and
Pinamungahan, Cebu, and their families, and the present and future generations of Filipinos whose
rights are similarly affected. The activities undertaken under Service Contract 46 (SC-46) directly
affected their source of livelihood, primarily felt through the significant reduction of their fish
harvest.27 The actual, direct, and material damage they suffered, which has potential long-term
effects transcending generations, is a proper subject of a legal suit.

III

In our jurisdiction, there is neither reason nor any legal basis for the concept of implied petitioners,
most especially when the implied petitioner was a sitting President of the Republic of the Philippines.
In G.R. No. 180771, apart from adjudicating unto themselves the status of "legal guardians" of
whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species, human petitioners also impleaded Former
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as "unwilling co-petitioner" for "her express declaration and
undertaking in the ASEAN Charter to protect Taon Strait."28

No person may implead any other person as a co-plaintiff or co-petitioner without his or her consent.
In our jurisdiction, only when there is a party that should have been a necessary party but was
unwilling to join would there be an allegation as to why that party has been omitted. In Rule 3,
Section 9 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 9. Non-joinder of necessary parties to be pleaded. -Whenever in any pleading in which a claim
is asserted a necessary party is not joined, the pleader shall set forth his name, if known, and shall
state why he is omitted. Should the court find the reason for the omission unmeritorious, it may order
the inclusion of the omitted necessary party if jurisdiction over his person may be obtained.

The failure to comply with the order for his inclusion, without justifiable cause, shall be deemed a
waiver of the claim against such party.

The non-inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from proceeding in the action, and
the judgment rendered therein shall be without prejudice to the rights of such necessary party.29

A party who should have been a plaintiff or petitioner but whose consent cannot be obtained should
be impleaded as a defendant in the nature of an unwilling co-plaintiff under Rule 3, Section 10 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff. - If the consent of any party who should be joined as plaintiff can not
be obtained, he may be made a defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint.30

The reason for this rule is plain: Indispensable party plaintiffs who should be part of the action but
who do not consent should be put within the jurisdiction of the court through summons or other court
processes. Petitioners. should not take it upon themselves to simply imp lead any party who does
not consent as a petitioner. This places the unwilling co-petitioner at the risk of being denied due
process.

Besides, Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be a party to this suit. As a co-equal
constitutional department, we cannot assume that the President needs to enforce policy directions
by suing his or her alter-egos. The procedural situation caused by petitioners may have gained
public attention, but its legal absurdity borders on the contemptuous. The Former President's name
should be stricken out of the title of this case.

IV
I also concur with the conclusion that SC-46 is both. illegal and unconstitutional.

SC-46 is illegal because it violates Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected
Areas System Act of 1992, and Presidential Decree No. 1234,31 which declared Taon Strait as a
protected seascape. It is unconstitutional because it violates the fourth paragraph of Article XII,
Section 2 of the Constitution.

Petitioner Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center asserts that SC-46 violated Article XII,
Section 2, paragraph 1 of the .1987 Constitution because Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd.
(JAPEX) is 100% Japanese-owned.32 It further asserts that SC-46 cannot be validly classified as a
technical and financial assistance agreement executed under Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 4 of
the 1987 Constitution.33 Public respondents counter that SC-46 does not fall under the coverage of
paragraph 1, but is a validly executed contract under paragraph 4.34 Public respondents further aver
that SC-46 neither granted exclusive fishing rights to JAPEX nor violated Central Visayas Fisherfolk
Development Center's right to preferential use of communal marine and fishing resources.35

VI

Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states:

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.

The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and
exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as
well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-workers in rivers,
lakes, bays, and lagoons.

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical
or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals,
petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law,
based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such
agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical
resources.

The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this
provision, within thirty days from its execution. (Emphasis supplied)
I agree that fully foreign-owned corporations may participate in the exploration, development, and
use of natural resources, but only through either financial agreements or technical ones. This is the
clear import of the words "either financial or technical assistance agreements." This is also

the clear result if we compare the 1987 constitutional provision with the versions in the 1973 and
1935 Constitution:

1973 CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE XIV
THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND THE PATRIMONY OF THE NATION

SEC. 9. The disposition, exploration, development, of exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural
resources of the Philippines shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or
association at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens. The Batasang
Pambansa, in the national interest, may allow such citizens, corporations, or associations to enter
into service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance with any
foreign person or entity for the exploitation, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of the
natural resources. Existing valid and binding service contracts for financial, the technical,
management, or other forms of assistance are hereby recognized as such. (Emphasis supplied)

1935 CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE XIII
CONSERVATION AND UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

SECTION 1. All agricultural timber, and mineral. lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal,
petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the
Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be
limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of
the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or
concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution.
Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no
license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural
resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-
five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other
than the development of water power, in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the
limit of the grant.

The clear text of the Constitution in light of its history prevails over any attempt to infer interpretation
from the Constitutional Commission deliberations. The constitutional texts are the product of a full
sovereign act: deliberations in a constituent assembly and ratification. Reliance on recorded
discussion of Constitutional Commissions, on the other hand, may result in dependence on
incomplete authorship; Besides, it opens judicial review to further subjectivity from those who spoke
during the Constitutional Commission deliberations who may not have predicted how their words will
be used. It is safer that we use the words already in the Constitution. The Constitution was their
product. Its words were read by those who ratified it. The Constitution is what society relies upon
even at present.

SC-46 is neither a financial assistance nor a technical assistance agreement.


Even supposing for the sake of argument that it is, it could not be declared valid in light of the
standards set forth in La Bugal-B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos:36

Such service contracts may be entered into only with respect to minerals, petroleum and other
mineral oils. The grant thereof is subject to several safeguards, among which are these
requirements:

(1) The service contract shall be crafted m accordance with a general law that will set
standard or uniform terms, conditions and requirements, presumably to attain a certain
uniformity in provisions and avoid the possible insertion of terms disadvantageous to the
country.

(2) The President shall be the signatory for the government because, supposedly before an
agreement is presented to the President for signature, it will have been vetted several times
over at different levels to ensure that it conforms to law and can withstand public scrutiny.

(3) Within thirty days of the executed agreement, the President shall report it to Congress to
give that branch of government an opportunity to look over the agreement and interpose
timely objections, if any.37 (Emphasis in the original, citation omitted)

Based on the standards pronounced in La Bugal, SC-46' S validity must be tested against three
important points: (a) whether SC-46 was crafted in accordance with a general law that provides
standards, terms, and conditions; (b) whether SC-46 was signed by the President for and on behalf
of the government; and (c) whether it was reported by the President to Congress within 30 days of
execution.

VII

The general law referred to as a possible basis for SC-46's validity is Presidential Decree No. 87 or
the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972. It is my opinion that this law is unconstitutional in
1wphi1

that it allows service contracts, contrary to Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution:

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical
or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals,
petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law,
based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such
agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical
resources. (Emphasis supplied)

The deletion of service contracts from the enumeration of the kind of agreements the President may
enter into with foreign-owned corporations for exploration and utilization of resources means that
service contracts are no longer allowed by the Constitution. Pursuant to Article XVIII, Section 3 of
the 1987 Constitution,38 this inconsistency renders the law invalid and ineffective.

SC-46 suffers from the lack of a special law allowing its activities. The Main Opinion emphasizes an
important point, which is that SC-46 did not merely involve exploratory activities, but also provided
the rights and obligations of the parties should it be discovered that there is oil in commercial
quantities in the area. The Taon Strait being a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No.
123439 requires that the exploitation and utilization of energy resources from that area are explicitly
covered by a law passed by Congress specifically for that purpose, pursuant to Section 14 of
Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992:
SEC. 14. Survey for Energy R6'sources. - Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2, hereof,
protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration
only for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried
out with the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with
a program approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the
public and submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and
utilization of energy resources found within NIP AS areas shall be allowed only through a law passed
by Congress.40 (Emphasis supplied)

No law was passed by Congress specifically providing the standards, terms, and conditions of an oil
exploration, extraction, and/or utilization for Taon Strait and, therefore, no such activities could
have been validly undertaken under SC-46. The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of
1992 is clear that exploitation and utilization of energy resources in a protected seascape such as
Taon Strait shall only be allowed through a specific law.

VIII

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not the signatory to SC-46, contrary to the
requirement set by paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2 for service contracts involving the
exploration of petroleum. SC-46 was entered into by then Department of Energy Secretary Vicente
S. Perez, Jr., on behalf of the government. I agree with the Main Opinion that in cases where the
Constitution or law requires the President to act personally on the matter, the duty cannot be
delegated to another public official.41 La Bugal highlights the importance of the President's
involvement, being one of the constitutional safeguards against abuse and corruption, as not mere
formality:

At this point, we sum up the matters established, based on a careful reading of the ConCom
deliberations, as follows:

In their deliberations on what was to become paragraph 4, the framers used the term
service contracts in referring to agreements x x x involving either technical or financial
assistance. They spoke of service contracts as the concept was understood in the 1973
Constitution.

It was obvious from their discussions that they were not about to ban or eradicate service
contracts.

Instead, they were plainly crafting provisions to. put in place safeguards that would
eliminate or m minimize the abuses prevalent during the marital law regime.42 (Emphasis in
the original)

Public respondents failed to show that. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was involved in
the signing or execution of SC-46. The failure to comply with this constitutional requirement renders
SC-46 null and void.

IX

Public respondents also failed to show that Congress was subsequently informed of the execution
and existence of SC-46. The reporting requirement is an equally important requisite to the validity of
any service contract involving the exploration, development, and utilization of Philippine petroleum.
Public respondents' failure to report to Congress about SC-46 effectively took away any opportunity
for the legislative branch to scrutinize its terms and conditions.
In sum, SC-46 was executed and implemented absent all the requirements provided under
paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2. It is, therefore, null and void.

I am of the view that SC-46, aside from not having complied with the 1987 Constitution, is also null
and void for being violative of environmental laws protecting Taon Strait. In particular, SC-46 was
implemented despite falling short of the requirements of the National Integrated Protected Areas
System Act of 1992.

As a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No. 1234,43 Taon Strait is covered by the
National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992. This law declares as a matter of policy:

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. Cognizant of the profound impact of man's activities on all
components of the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource
exploitation and industrial advancement and recognizing the critical importance of protecting and
maintaining the natural biological and physical diversities of the environment notably on areas with
biologically unique features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life,
it is hereby declared the policy of the State to secure for the Filipino people of present and future
generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a
comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the classification of national park as
provided for in the Constitution.

It is hereby recognized that these areas, although distinct in features, possess common ecological
values that may be incorporated into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage; that
effective administration of these areas is possible only through cooperation among national
government, local and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of these
protected areas must be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable
development.

To this end, there is hereby established a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS),
which shall encompass outstanding remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that
are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related
ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which shall be designated as "protected
areas."44 (Emphasis supplied)

Pursuant to this law, any proposed activity in Taon Strait must undergo an Environmental Impact
Assessment:

SEC. 12. Environmental Impact Assessment. - Proposals for activities which are outside the scope
of the management plan for protected areas shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment
as required by law before they are adopted, and the results thereof shall be taken into consideration
in the decision-making process.45(Emphasis supplied)

The same provision further requires that an Environmental Compliance Certificate be secured under
the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System before arty project is implemented:

No actual implementation of such activities shall be allowed without the required Environmental
Compliance Certificate (ECC) under the Philippine Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) system. In
instances where such activities are allowed to be undertaken, the proponent shall plan and carry
them out in such manner as will minimize any adverse effects and take preventive and remedial
action when appropriate. The proponent shall be liable for any damage due to lack of caution or
indiscretion.46 (Emphasis supplied)

In projects involving the exploration or utilization of energy resources, the National Integrated
Protected Areas System Act of 1992 additionally requires that a program be approved by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which shall be publicly accessible. The program
shall also be submitted to the President, who in turn will recommend the program to Congress.
Furthermore, Congress must enact a law specifically allowing the exploitation of energy resources
found within a protected area such as Taon Strait:

SEC. 14. Survey for Energy Resources. - Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2, hereof,
protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration
only for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried
out with the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with
a program approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the
public and submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and
utilization of energy resources found within NIPAS areas shall be allowed only through a taw passed
by Congress.47 (Emphasis supplied)

Public respondents argue that SC-46 complied with the procedural requirements of obtaining an
Environmental Compliance Certificate.48 At any rate, they assert that the activities covered by SC-46
fell under Section 14 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, which they
interpret to be an exception to Section 12. They argue that the Environmental Compliance Certificate
is not a strict requirement for the validity of SC-46 since (a) the Taon Strait is not a nature' reserve
or natural park; (b) the exploration was merely for gathering information; and ( c) measures were in
place to ensure that the exploration caused the least possible damage to the area.49

Section 14 is not an exception to Section 12, but instead provides additional requirements for cases
involving Philippine energy resources. The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992
was enacted to recognize the importance of protecting the environment in light of resource
exploitation, among others.50 Systems are put in place to secure for Filipinos local resources under
the most favorable conditions. With the status of Taon Strait as a protected seascape, the
institution of additional legal safeguards is even more significant.

Public respondents did not validly obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate for SC-46. Based
on the records, JAPEX commissioned an environmental impact evaluation only in the second
subphase of its project, with the Environmental Management .Bureau of Region

VII granting the project an Environmental Compliance Certificate on March 6, 2007.51

Despite its scale, the seismic surveys from May 9 to 18, 2005 were conducted without any
environmental assessment contrary to Section 12 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System
Act of 1992.

XI

Finally, we honor every living creature when we take care of our environment. As sentient species,
we do not lack in the wisdom or sensitivity to realize that we only borrow the resources that we use
to survive and to thrive. We are not incapable of mitigating the greed that is slowly causing the
demise of our planet. Thus, there is no need for us to feign representation of any other species or
some imagined unborn generation in filing any action in our courts of law to claim any of our
fundamental rights to a healthful ecology. In this way and with candor and courage, we fully shoulder
the responsibility deserving of the grace and power endowed on our species.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote:

(a) to DISMISS G.R. No. 180771 for lack of standing and STRIKE OUT the name of Former
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the title of this case;

(b) to GRANT G.R. No. 181527; and

(c) to DECLARE SERVICE CONTRACT 46 NULL AND VOID for violating the 1987
Constitution, Republic Act No. 7586, and Presidential Decree No. 1234.

MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

RULE 5 ( BARANGAY CT)

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 191336 January 25, 2012

CRISANTA ALCARAZ MIGUEL, Petitioner,


vs.
JERRY D. MONTANEZ, Respondent.

DECISION

REYES, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner
Crisanta Alcaraz Miguel (Miguel) seeks the reversal and setting aside of the September 17, 2009
Decision1 and February 11, 2010 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
100544, entitled "Jerry D. Montanez v. Crisanta Alcaraz Miguel."

Antecedent Facts

On February 1, 2001, respondent Jerry Montanez (Montanez) secured a loan of One Hundred Forty-
Three Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty-Four Pesos (143,864.00), payable in one (1) year, or until
February 1, 2002, from the petitioner. The respondent gave as collateral therefor his house and lot
located at Block 39 Lot 39 Phase 3, Palmera Spring, Bagumbong, Caloocan City.

Due to the respondents failure to pay the loan, the petitioner filed a complaint against the
respondent before the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay San Jose, Rodriguez, Rizal. The parties
entered into a Kasunduang Pag-aayos wherein the respondent agreed to pay his loan in installments
in the amount of Two Thousand Pesos (2,000.00) per month, and in the event the house and lot
given as collateral is sold, the respondent would settle the balance of the loan in full. However, the
respondent still failed to pay, and on December 13, 2004, the Lupong Tagapamayapa issued a
certification to file action in court in favor of the petitioner.

On April 7, 2005, the petitioner filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Makati City,
Branch 66, a complaint for Collection of Sum of Money. In his Answer with Counterclaim,3 the
respondent raised the defense of improper venue considering that the petitioner was a resident of
Bagumbong, Caloocan City while he lived in San Mateo, Rizal.

After trial, on August 16, 2006, the MeTC rendered a Decision,4 which disposes as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered[,] judgment is hereby rendered ordering defendant Jerry D.


Montanez to pay plaintiff the following:

1. The amount of [Php147,893.00] representing the obligation with legal rate of interest from
February 1, 2002 which was the date of the loan maturity until the account is fully paid;

2. The amount of Php10,000.00 as and by way of attorneys fees; and the costs.

SO ORDERED. 5

On appeal to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 146, the respondent raised the
same issues cited in his Answer. In its March 14, 2007 Decision,6 the RTC affirmed the MeTC
Decision, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the court a quo, the appeal is
hereby DISMISSED, and the DECISION appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED in its entirety for being
in accordance with law and evidence.

SO ORDERED.7

Dissatisfied, the respondent appealed to the CA raising two issues, namely, (1) whether or not
venue was improperly laid, and (2) whether or not the Kasunduang Pag-aayos effectively novated
the loan agreement. On September 17, 2009, the CA rendered the assailed Decision, disposing as
follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The appealed Decision
dated March 14, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 146, is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. A new judgment is entered dismissing respondents complaint for collection of sum
of money, without prejudice to her right to file the necessary action to enforce the Kasunduang Pag-
aayos.

SO ORDERED.8

Anent the issue of whether or not there is novation of the loan contract, the CA ruled in the negative.
It ratiocinated as follows:

Judging from the terms of the Kasunduang Pag-aayos, it is clear that no novation of the old
obligation has taken place. Contrary to petitioners assertion, there was no reduction of the term or
1wphi1

period originally stipulated. The original period in the first agreement is one (1) year to be counted
from February 1, 2001, or until January 31, 2002. When the complaint was filed before the barangay
on February 2003, the period of the original agreement had long expired without compliance on the
part of petitioner. Hence, there was nothing to reduce or extend. There was only a change in the
terms of payment which is not incompatible with the old agreement. In other words, the Kasunduang
Pag-aayos merely supplemented the old agreement.9

The CA went on saying that since the parties entered into a Kasunduang Pag-aayos before the
Lupon ng Barangay, such settlement has the force and effect of a court judgment, which may be
enforced by execution within six (6) months from the date of settlement by the Lupon ng Barangay,
or by court action after the lapse of such time.10Considering that more than six (6) months had
elapsed from the date of settlement, the CA ruled that the remedy of the petitioner was to file an
action for the execution of the Kasunduang Pag-aayos in court and not for collection of sum of
money.11 Consequently, the CA deemed it unnecessary to resolve the issue on venue.12

The petitioner now comes to this Court.

Issues

(1) Whether or not a complaint for sum of money is the proper remedy for the petitioner,
notwithstanding the Kasunduang Pag-aayos;13 and

(2) Whether or not the CA should have decided the case on the merits rather than remand
the case for the enforcement of the Kasunduang Pag-aayos.14

Our Ruling

Because the respondent failed to comply with the terms of the Kasunduang Pag-aayos, said
agreement is deemed rescinded pursuant to Article 2041 of the New Civil Code and the petitioner
can insist on his original demand. Perforce, the complaint for collection of sum of money is the
proper remedy.

The petitioner contends that the CA erred in ruling that she should have followed the procedure for
enforcement of the amicable settlement as provided in the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law,
instead of filing a collection case. The petitioner points out that the cause of action did not arise from
the Kasunduang Pag-aayos but on the respondents breach of the original loan agreement.15

This Court agrees with the petitioner.

It is true that an amicable settlement reached at the barangay conciliation proceedings, like the
Kasunduang Pag-aayos in this case, is binding between the contracting parties and, upon its
perfection, is immediately executory insofar as it is not contrary to law, good morals, good customs,
public order and public policy.16 This is in accord with the broad precept of Article 2037 of the Civil
Code, viz:

A compromise has upon the parties the effect and authority of res judicata; but there shall be no
execution except in compliance with a judicial compromise.

Being a by-product of mutual concessions and good faith of the parties, an amicable settlement has
the force and effect of res judicata even if not judicially approved.17 It transcends being a mere
contract binding only upon the parties thereto, and is akin to a judgment that is subject to execution
in accordance with the Rules.18 Thus, under Section 417 of the Local Government Code,19 such
amicable settlement or arbitration award may be enforced by execution by the Barangay Lupon
within six (6) months from the date of settlement, or by filing an action to enforce such settlement in
the appropriate city or municipal court, if beyond the six-month period.

Under the first remedy, the proceedings are covered by the Local Government Code and the
Katarungang Pambarangay Implementing Rules and Regulations. The Punong Barangay is called
upon during the hearing to determine solely the fact of non-compliance of the terms of the settlement
and to give the defaulting party another chance at voluntarily complying with his obligation under the
settlement. Under the second remedy, the proceedings are governed by the Rules of Court, as
amended. The cause of action is the amicable settlement itself, which, by operation of law, has the
force and effect of a final judgment.20

It must be emphasized, however, that enforcement by execution of the amicable settlement, either
under the first or the second remedy, is only applicable if the contracting parties have not repudiated
such settlement within ten (10) days from the date thereof in accordance with Section 416 of the
Local Government Code. If the amicable settlement is repudiated by one party, either expressly or
impliedly, the other party has two options, namely, to enforce the compromise in accordance with the
Local Government Code or Rules of Court as the case may be, or to consider it rescinded and insist
upon his original demand. This is in accord with Article 2041 of the Civil Code, which qualifies the
broad application of Article 2037, viz:

If one of the parties fails or refuses to abide by the compromise, the other party may either enforce
the compromise or regard it as rescinded and insist upon his original demand.

In the case of Leonor v. Sycip,21 the Supreme Court (SC) had the occasion to explain this provision of
law. It ruled that Article 2041 does not require an action for rescission, and the aggrieved party, by
the breach of compromise agreement, may just consider it already rescinded, to wit:

It is worthy of notice, in this connection, that, unlike Article 2039 of the same Code, which speaks of
"a cause of annulment or rescission of the compromise" and provides that "the compromise may be
annulled or rescinded" for the cause therein specified, thus suggesting an action for annulment or
rescission, said Article 2041 confers upon the party concerned, not a "cause" for rescission, or the
right to "demand" the rescission of a compromise, but the authority, not only to "regard it as
rescinded", but, also, to "insist upon his original demand". The language of this Article 2041,
particularly when contrasted with that of Article 2039, denotes that no action for rescission is
required in said Article 2041, and that the party aggrieved by the breach of a compromise agreement
may, if he chooses, bring the suit contemplated or involved in his original demand, as if there had
never been any compromise agreement, without bringing an action for rescission thereof. He need
not seek a judicial declaration of rescission, for he may "regard" the compromise agreement already
"rescinded".22 (emphasis supplied)

As so well stated in the case of Chavez v. Court of Appeals,23 a party's non-compliance with the
amicable settlement paved the way for the application of Article 2041 under which the other party
may either enforce the compromise, following the procedure laid out in the Revised Katarungang
Pambarangay Law, or consider it as rescinded and insist upon his original demand. To quote:

In the case at bar, the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law provides for a two-tiered mode of
enforcement of an amicable settlement, to wit: (a) by execution by the Punong Barangay which is
quasi-judicial and summary in nature on mere motion of the party entitled thereto; and (b) an action
in regular form, which remedy is judicial. However, the mode of enforcement does not rule out the
right of rescission under Art. 2041 of the Civil Code. The availability of the right of rescission is
apparent from the wording of Sec. 417 itself which provides that the amicable settlement "may" be
enforced by execution by the lupon within six (6) months from its date or by action in the appropriate
city or municipal court, if beyond that period. The use of the word "may" clearly makes the procedure
provided in the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law directory or merely optional in nature.

Thus, although the "Kasunduan" executed by petitioner and respondent before the Office of the
Barangay Captain had the force and effect of a final judgment of a court, petitioner's non-compliance
paved the way for the application of Art. 2041 under which respondent may either enforce the
compromise, following the procedure laid out in the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law, or
regard it as rescinded and insist upon his original demand. Respondent chose the latter option when
he instituted Civil Case No. 5139-V-97 for recovery of unrealized profits and reimbursement of
advance rentals, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees. Respondent was not limited to
claiming 150,000.00 because although he agreed to the amount in the "Kasunduan," it is axiomatic
that a compromise settlement is not an admission of liability but merely a recognition that there is a
dispute and an impending litigation which the parties hope to prevent by making reciprocal
concessions, adjusting their respective positions in the hope of gaining balanced by the danger of
losing. Under the "Kasunduan," respondent was only required to execute a waiver of all possible
claims arising from the lease contract if petitioner fully complies with his obligations thereunder. It is
undisputed that herein petitioner did not.24 (emphasis supplied and citations omitted)

In the instant case, the respondent did not comply with the terms and conditions of the Kasunduang
Pag-aayos. Such non-compliance may be construed as repudiation because it denotes that the
respondent did not intend to be bound by the terms thereof, thereby negating the very purpose for
which it was executed. Perforce, the petitioner has the option either to enforce the Kasunduang Pag-
aayos, or to regard it as rescinded and insist upon his original demand, in accordance with the
provision of Article 2041 of the Civil Code. Having instituted an action for collection of sum of money,
the petitioner obviously chose to rescind the Kasunduang Pag-aayos. As such, it is error on the part
of the CA to rule that enforcement by execution of said agreement is the appropriate remedy under
the circumstances.

Considering that the Kasunduang Pag-aayos is deemed rescinded by the non-compliance of the
respondent of the terms thereof, remanding the case to the trial court for the enforcement of said
agreement is clearly unwarranted.

The petitioner avers that the CA erred in remanding the case to the trial court for the enforcement of
the Kasunduang Pag-aayos as it prolonged the process, "thereby putting off the case in an indefinite
pendency."25 Thus, the petitioner insists that she should be allowed to ventilate her rights before this
Court and not to repeat the same proceedings just to comply with the enforcement of the
Kasunduang Pag-aayos, in order to finally enforce her right to payment.26

The CA took off on the wrong premise that enforcement of the Kasunduang Pag-aayos is the proper
remedy, and therefore erred in its conclusion that the case should be remanded to the trial court.
The fact that the petitioner opted to rescind the Kasunduang Pag-aayos means that she is insisting
upon the undertaking of the respondent under the original loan contract. Thus, the CA should have
decided the case on the merits, as an appeal before it, and not prolong the determination of the
issues by remanding it to the trial court. Pertinently, evidence abounds that the respondent has failed
to comply with his loan obligation. In fact, the Kasunduang Pag-aayos is the well nigh
incontrovertible proof of the respondents indebtedness with the petitioner as it was executed
precisely to give the respondent a second chance to make good on his undertaking. And since the
respondent still reneged in paying his indebtedness, justice demands that he must be held
answerable therefor.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is SET
ASIDE and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 146, Makati City, dated March 14, 2007
is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 192150 October 1, 2014

FEDERICO SABAY, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

We review in this petition for review on certiorari1 the decision2 dated October 23, 2009 and the
resolution3 dated March 22, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31532.

The CA affirmed the April 28, 2008 decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City,
Branch 126, finding petitioner Federico Sabay guilty beyond reasonable doubt for two (2) counts of
Slight Physical Injuries. The RTC decision in tum affirmed the Metropolitan Trial Court's (MTC)
judgment.

The Antecedent Facts

At around three oclock to four oclock in the afternoon of June 12, 2001, while the petitioner and his
daughter Erlinda Sabay (Erlinda) were busy laying wood and water pipes in the yard of Godofredo
Lopez (Godofredo), the latter confronted the petitioner about his (the petitioners) alleged intrusion
into Godofredos property. A verbal altercation ensued between them.

In the course of the verbal exchange, Erlinda hit Godofredo on the head with a hard object. The
petitioner joined in by throwing a stone at Godofredos face, breaking the latters eyeglasses.
Godofredo claimed that as a result, he felt dizzy.5 The petitioner and Erlinda then shouted at
Godofredo and threatened to kill him.

Immediately thereafter, Jervie Lopez (Jervie) came and pacified the three. But in the course his
efforts, he was hit in the hand with a bolo.6 The neighbors intervened not long after and pacified the
parties.
The Medico Legal Certificates7 dated June 12, 2001 showed that Godofredo suffered a contusion on
the left parietal area of his head and an abrasion in his left cheek, while Jerviesustained a wound in
his right palm.

On June 13, 2001, Godofredo and Jervie filed a complaint against the petitioner before the
barangay.8 The parties agreed to settle the complaint based on the recommendation of the building
inspector and reflected their agreement in their Kasunduang Pag-aayos9 (Kasunduan) dated June
20, 2001. The Kasunduan, however, was not implemented because the building inspector failed to
make the promised recommendation to resolve the boundary dispute between the parties.10 Thus,
the Office of the Barangay Captain issued a Certificate to File an Action.

The petitioner was accordingly charged before the MTC with the crime of Physical Injuries under two
(2) Informations11 that read:

Criminal Case No. 209934

That on or about the 12th day of June 2001, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without justifiable cause, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously hit with a bolo one JERVIE LOPEZ, thereby inflicting
upon the latter physical injuries which required and will require medical attendance for not more than
seven (7) days or incapacitated or will incapacitate said victim from performing his habitual work for
the same period of time.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Criminal Case No. 209935

That on or about the 12th day of June 2001, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without justifiable cause, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously hit with a bolo one GODOFREDO LOPEZ, thereby
inflicting upon the latter physical injuries which required and will require medical attendance for not
more than seven (7) days or incapacitated or will incapacitate said victim from performing his
habitual work for the same period of time.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

The petitioner, together with his daughter Erlinda, was also charged with Light Threats12 for allegedly
uttering threatening words against the private complainant, Godofredo.

When arraigned, both accused pleadednot guilty to all the charges. Trial on the merits thereafter
ensued.

At the trial, the prosecution presented the following eyewitnesses: Rodolfo Lata, Sr. y Dolping
(Rodolfo) and Dina Perez y Alapaap (Dina) (who both testified on the details of the crime);
Godofredo; Jervie; and Dr. Melissa Palugod (Godofredos attending physician). The defense, on the
other hand, presented the petitioner, Wilfredo Verdad and Caridad Sabay.

The petitioner denied the charge and claimed that he had simply acted in self-defense. He narrated
that on the date of the incident while he was putting a monument on his lot, Godofredo suddenly hit
him with an iron bar in his right hand, causing him injuries. Jesus Lopez (Jessie), Godofredos son,
went out of their house and with a .38 caliber gun, fired the gun at him. To defend himself, he got a
stone and threw it at Godofredo.

The MTCs and the RTCs Rulings

In its decision, MTC believed the prosecution's version of the incident and found the petitioner guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of slight physical injuries. The MTC, however, dismissed
the light threats charged, as this offense is deemed absorbed in the crime of slight physical injuries.
Further, it absolved Erlinda for the crime of light threats as there was no allegation that she uttered
threatening words against Godofredo.

The MTC rejected the petitioners claim of self-defense for lack of clear, convincing and satisfactory
supporting evidence. The MTC held that the petitioner failed to prove that there had been unlawful
aggression by Godofredo; he did not even present the medical certificate of his injury as evidence.
The dispositive partof its decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Federico Sabay y Bactol is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt for two (2) counts of Slight Physical Injuries and is meted a penalty
ofimprisonment of Eleven (11) Days for each count as there is neither mitigating nor aggravating
circumstance.

SO ORDERED.

In due course, the petitioner appealed his judgment to the RTC, which fully affirmed the MTCs
decision.

The petitioner sought recourse with the CA, arguing in this appeal that: (1) the MTC has no
jurisdiction over the case in view of the prosecutions failure to offer the Certification to File an Action
in evidence; and (2) the trial court erred in not sustaining his claim of self-defense.

The CAs Ruling

The CA rejected the petitioners arguments and affirmed the RTCs decision. The CA held that even
if there had been no formal offer of exhibit pursuant to Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules on
Evidence, the Certification to File an Action could still be admitted against the adverse party if, first, it
has been duly identified by testimony duly recorded and, second, it has been incorporated into the
records of the case. Noting that the Certification to File an Action was identified by the complainants
and is attached to the records of the case, the CA ruled that an exception to Section 34, Rule 132 of
the Rules on Evidence could be recognized.

The CA also dismissed the petitioners plea of self-defense. The CA ruled that self-defense is
essentially a factual matter that isbest addressed by the trial court; in the absence of any showing
that both the MTC and the RTC overlooked weighty and substantial facts or circumstances that
could alter their conclusion, the appellate court saw no reason to disturb their factual ruling.

On March 22, 2010, the CA denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration; hence, the present
petition.

The Issues
On the basis of the same arguments raised before the CA, the petitioner questions: (1) the
jurisdiction of the MTC over the criminal cases in view of the alleged inadmissibility ofthe
Certification to File Action; and (2) the lower courts finding of guilt, its appreciation of the evidence
and its rejection of the claim of self-defense.

The Courts Ruling

We find no reversible error committed by the CA and affirm the petitioners conviction for two counts
of slight physical injuries.

On the first issue, the petitioner contends that the lower courts erred in disregarding the existence of
the Kasunduan executed by the parties before the Lupon. This existing settlement between the
parties rendered the Certification to File an Action without factual and legal basis, and is hence null
and void. The petitioner also contendsthat the CA erred in not holding that the MTC has no
jurisdiction over the criminal cases in view of the noncompliance (i.e., issuance of the Certification
toFile an Action despite the existence of an agreement) with conciliation procedures under
Presidential Decree No. 1508.

We see no merit in these contentions.

The Office of the Barangay Captain Cannot be Precluded From Issuing a Certification to File an
Action Where NoActual Settlement Was Reached; the Certification to File an Action

Issued by The Office of The Barangay is Valid.

The present case was indisputably referred to the Barangay Luponfor conciliation prior to the
institution of the criminal cases before the MTC. The parties in fact admitted that a meeting before
the Lupontranspired between them, resulting in a Kasunduan.

Although they initially agreed to settle their case, the Kasunduanthat embodied their agreement was
never implemented; no actual settlement materialized as the building inspector failed to make his
promised recommendation to settle the dispute. The Barangay Captain was thus compelled to issue
a Certification to File an Action, indicating that the disputing parties did not reach any settlement.

The CA correctly observed and considered the situation: the settlement of the case was conditioned
on the recommendation of the building inspector; with no recommendation, no resolution of the
conflict likewise took place.

Furthermore, the BarangayCaptain, as a public official, is presumed to act regularly in the


performance of official duty.13 In the absence of contrary evidence, this presumption prevails; his
issuance of the disputed Certification to File an Action was regular and pursuant to law.14 Thus, the
Barangay Captain properly issued the Certification to File an Action.

Even granting that an irregularity had intervened in the Barangay Captains issuance of the
Certification toFile and Action, we note that this irregularity is not a jurisdictional flaw that warrants
the dismissal of the criminal cases before the MTC. As we held in Diu v. Court of Appeals:15

Also, the conciliation procedure under Presidential Decree No. 1508 is not a jurisdictional
requirement and non-compliance therewith cannot affect the jurisdiction which the lower courts had
already acquired over the subject matter and private respondents as defendants therein. Similarly, in
Garces v. Court of Appeals,16 we stated that:
In fine, we have held in the past that prior recourse to the conciliation procedure required under P.D.
1508 is not a jurisdictional requirement, non-compliance with which would deprive a court of its
jurisdiction either over the subject matter or over the person of the defendant.

Thus, the MTC has jurisdiction to try and hear the petitioners case; the claimed irregularity in
conciliation procedure, particularly in the issuance of the Certification to File an Action, did not
deprive the court of its jurisdiction. If at all, the irregularity merely affected the parties cause of
action.17

The petitioner next contends thateven if there was a valid Certification to File an Action, the lower
courts still erred in admitting the Certificate into evidence as the prosecution did not formally offer it
as required by the Rules on Evidence. He emphasizes that in Fideldia v. Sps. Mulato,18 the Court
held that a formal offer is necessary because judges are required to base their findings solely upon
evidence offered by the parties. In the absence of a formal offer, the Certification is not admissible
pursuant to Section 412 of Republic Act No. 7160, and cannot be considered by the court.

We do not find this argument sufficiently persuasive.

The Certification to File an Action is Admissible.

Section 34 of Rule 132 of our Rules on Evidence provides that the court cannot consider any
evidence that has not been formally offered.19 Formal offer means that the offering party shall inform
the court of the purpose of introducing its exhibits into evidence, to assist the court in ruling on their
admissibility in case the adverse party objects.20 Without a formal offer of evidence, courts cannot
take notice of this evidence even if this has been previously marked and identified.

This rule, however, admits of anexception. The Court, in the appropriate cases, has relaxed the
formal-offer rule and allowed evidence not formally offered to be admitted.

The cases of People v. Napat-a,21 People v. Mate,22 and The Heirs of Romana Saves, et al. v. The
Heirs of Escolastico Saves, et al.,23 to cite a few, enumerated the requirements so that evidence, not
previously offered, can be admitted, namely: first, the evidence must have been duly identified by
testimony duly recorded and, second, the evidence must have been incorporated in the records of
the case.

In the present case, we find that the requisites for the relaxation of the formal-offer rule are
present. As the lower courts correctly observed, Godofredo identified the Certification to File an
1wphi1

Action during his crossexamination, to wit:24

Q: And Im referring to you thisCertification from the Office of the Brgy. docketed as 181-01, is this
the one you are referring to?

A: This is with respect to the hitting of my head.

Atty. Bihag: At this juncture, your Honor, we would like to request that this particular certification
referring to the case 181-01 entitled Mr. Godofredo Lopez, Mr. Jervie Lopez versus Mr. Federico
Sabay and Mrs. Erlinda Castro, be marked as Exh. "1" for the defense. [TSN, Godofredo Lopez,
page 119; emphasis ours.]

Although the Certification was not formally offered in evidence, it was marked as Exhibit "1" and
attached to the records of the case.25 Significantly, the petitioner never objected to Godofredos
testimony, particularly with the identification and marking of the Certification. In these lights, the
Court sees no reason why the Certification should not be admitted.

The Claim of Self-Defense

On the claim of self-defense, we recognize that the factual findings and conclusions of the RTC,
especially when affirmed by the CA as in this case, are entitled to great weight and respect and are
deemed final and conclusive on this Court when supported by the evidence on record.26

In the absence of any indication thatthe trial and the appellate courts overlooked facts or
circumstances that would result in a different ruling in this case, we will not disturb their factual
findings.27

We thus uphold the rulings of the RTC and the CA which found the elements of the crime of slight
physical injuries fully established during the trial. The RTC and the CA correctly rejected the
petitioners claim of selfdefense because he did not substantiate it with clear and convincing proof.

Self-defense as a justifying circumstance under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended,
implies the admission by the accused that he committed the acts that would have been criminal in
character had it not been for the presence of circumstances whose legal consequences negate the
commission of a crime.28 The plea of self-defense in order to exculpate the accused must be duly
proven. The most basic rule is that no self-defense can be recognized until unlawful aggression is
established.29

Since the accused alleges self-defense, he carries the burden of evidence to prove that he satisfied
the elements required by law;30 he who alleges must prove. By admitting the commission of the act
charged and pleading avoidance based on the law, he must rely on the strength of his own evidence
to prove that the facts that the legal avoidance requires are present; the weakness of the
prosecutions evidence is immaterial after he admitted the commission of the act charged.31

In this case, the petitioner admitted the acts attributed to him, and only pleads that he acted in self-
defense. His case essentially rests on the existence of unlawful aggression that Godofredo hit him
with an iron bar on his right hand.

As the RTC and the CA pointed out, the petitioner failed to substantiate his claimed self-defense
because he did not even present any medical certificate as supporting evidence, notwithstanding his
claim that he consulted a doctor. Nor did he everpresent the doctor he allegedly consulted. His
contention, too, that he was attacked by Godofredo and was shot with a .38 caliber gun by Jessie
was refuted by the prosecution eyewitnesses Rodolfo and Dina who both testified that it was the
petitioner who had attacked Godofredo.

The prosecution eyewitnesses' testimonies were supported by the medico legal certificates showing
that Godofredo sustained a contusion on the left parietal area of his head and an abrasion on his left
cheek. These medico legal findings are consistent with Godofredo' s claim that the petitioner hit him
and inflicted physical injuries.

In sum, we are fully satisfied that the petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of
slight physical injuries, as the lower courts found. His claim of self-defense fails for lack of supporting
evidence; he failed to present any evidence of unlawful aggression and cannot thus be said to have
hit Godofredo as a measure to defend himself.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the appeal and AFFIRM the decision dated October
23, 2009 and the resolution dated March 22, 2010 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
31532.

SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice