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A.M. No.

RTJ-07-2036             August 20, 2008 Afterward, on September 10, 1996, Salvador Crisologo filed an
action for Annulment of Real Estate Mortgage, Documents,
JESUS G. CRISOLOGO, complainant, Reconveyance, Damages and Attorney’s Fees against Marina, Jr. and
vs. RBTI. The case docketed as Civil Case No. 3387 was raffled to RTC-
JUDGE MARIVIC TRABAJO DARAY, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, DIGOS Branch 19 and consolidated with Civil Case No. 3220.
CITY, DAVAO DEL SUR, respondent.
On January 22, 2004, before trial on the merits can be had in the
DECISION civil cases, Marina, Jr., Salvador, Victor and RBTI submitted a
NACHURA, J.: Compromise Agreement with RTC-Branch 19, which was then
presided over in an acting capacity by respondent Judge. In said
In a Complaint1 dated September 1, 2006, complainant Jesus G. compromise agreement, Marina, Jr. and Salvador ceded full
Crisologo charged respondent Judge Marivic Trabajo Daray, in her ownership of the subject land covered by Transfer Certificate of
capacity as Acting Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Title (TCT) No. T-22236, including all improvements found thereon,
in Digos City, Branch 19, with Gross Misconduct, Undue Delay in in favor of RBTI.
Rendering a Decision or Order and Gross Ignorance of the Law of
Procedure relative to the denial of the Motion for Intervention filed On February 13, 2004, soon after being informed of the existence of
by complainant in Civil Case Nos. 3220 and 3387 respectively the compromise agreement, complainant Jesus G. Crisologo and his
entitled "Marina Crisologo, Jr. vs. Victor Callao and Rural Bank of sister Carolina C. Abrina, represented by Atty. Rodolfo Ta-asan,
Tagum, Inc." and "Salvador Crisologo vs. Marina Crisologo, Jr. and moved to intervene in the civil cases alleging among others that: [a]
Rural Bank of Tagum, Inc." the property in litigation involves the Crisologo family’s ancestral
home; [b] they are co-owners of the subject property together with
As found by the Report of the Investigating Justice of the Court of Marina, Jr. and their other siblings; [c] while the subject property is
Appeals (CA), the following circumstances prompted the registered in the name of Marina, Jr., she merely holds said property
complainant to file this administrative complaint: in trust for them and their other siblings; and [d] they seek to
intervene in the civil cases to protect their proprietary right and
On May 23, 1995, Marina Crisologo, Jr. filed a complaint to Declare
legal interest over the subject property.
Documents Null and Void and Set Aside Auction Sale and Attorney’s
Fees against Victor Callao and the Rural Bank of Tagum, Inc. (RBTI). Meanwhile, on April 21, 2004, Atty. Ta-asan withdrew his
The case docketed as Civil Case No. 3220 was raffled to RTC-Branch appearance as counsel for complainant and Carolina, and was
19 in Digos City. substituted by Atty. Jenette Marie Crisologo. Atty. Crisologo’s entry
of appearance was acknowledged by Respondent Judge in an Order whose participation is essential before a final adjudication can be
dated May 17, 2004. had in the civil cases.

In an Order dated August 23, 2004, respondent Judge denied On October 1, 2004, RBTI manifested that complainant’s motion for
complainant’s motion for intervention, thus: reconsideration does not contain a notice of hearing, hence, a mere
scrap of paper.
FOR RESOLUTION IS THE Motion for Intervention filed by movants-
intervenors Jesus G. Crisologo and Carolina C. Abrina through In an Order dated October 15, 2004, respondent Judge denied
counsel, seeking permission from this Court to intervene in the complainant’s motion for reconsideration for lack of the requisite
cases above-mentioned, so as to protect their proprietary rights and notice of hearing. However, a copy of the Order dated October 15,
legal interest over the subject property. 2004 was sent to Atty. Ta-asan instead of Atty. Crisologo who is
complainant’s counsel of record.
AFTER A CAREFUL ASSESSMENT of the instant motion vis-à-vis the
Comment/Opposition thereto, this Court holds and is of the view Subsequently, on October 27, 2004, Respondent Judge issued a
that the Motion for Intervention could not be entertained anymore Decision approving the compromise agreement. The dispositive
considering that the Compromise Agreement had already been portion of which reads:
entered into and to allow the intervention will unduly delay the
adjudication of the rights of the original parties, particularly so that WHEREFORE, finding the afore-quoted Compromise Agreement to
be not contrary to law, public morals, good customs and public
the instant cases began almost a decade ago in 1995. Moreover,
whatever claims and rights that Jesus G. Crisologo may have over policy, this Court hereby APPROVES the same. The parties in this
case are hereby ordered to strictly comply with all the terms and
the subject property may and should be the subject of a separate
case between and among his siblings. (Magat, et al. vs. Delizo, et al., conditions set forth in said agreement. By virtue of the approval of
the compromise agreement, this case is now deemed TERMINATED.
G.R. No. 135199, July 5, 2001)


is hereby DENIED. Again, a copy of the decision was sent to Atty. Ta-asan instead of
SO ORDERED. complainant’s counsel, Atty. Crisologo. Thus, complainant was left
unaware that his motion for reconsideration was denied and that a
On September 15, 2004, complainant moved for the reconsideration decision approving the compromise agreement has already been
of the Order dated August 23, 2004, arguing that he is a co-owner of rendered by respondent Judge in the civil cases.
the properties in litigation, and as such, he is an indispensable party
On November 3, 2004, RBTI moved for the execution of the decision prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with
on compromise agreement and prayed, among other things, for the Court of Appeals.
RTC-Branch 19: [a] to order the immediate ejectment of the
On December 8, 2004, respondent Judge gave due course to
plaintiffs, including all other persons claming rights under them,
from the subject property; [b] to place RBTI in complete possession, complainant’s motion for voluntary inhibition and voluntarily
inhibited herself in the civil cases, but refrained from acting on
control and enjoyment of the subject property, including all
improvements thereon; and [c] to order the cancellation the notice complainant’s notice of appeal. It was only on March 15, 2005, that
complainant’s notice of appeal was acted upon by Judge Carmelita
of lis pendens in the certificate of title of the subject property.
Sarno-Dav[i]n, the newly appointed presiding judge of RTC Branch-
On November 4, 2004, complainant was informed by his brother 19.
Ramon Crisologo, who is one of the occupants of the subject
property, about RBTI’s motion for execution. Thus, on November 5, On July 20, 2006, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision finding
grave abuse of discretion in the denial of complainant’s motion for
2008, complainant, accompanied by Atty. Crisologo, lost no time
and proceeded to RTC-Branch 19 to inquire about the hearing intervention to warrant the issuance of writs of certiorari and
mandamus in favor of complaint.2
schedule of RBTI’s motion for execution, and was surprised to learn
that his motion for reconsideration of the denial of his motion for In her Comment3 dated October 31, 2006, respondent denied and
intervention has already been denied and that in fact a decision on refuted the charges in the complaint. She contended that the failure
compromise agreement has already been rendered by respondent to furnish complainant, through his counsel of record, Atty. Jenette
Judge. Marie Crisologo, with a copy of the Order denying his motion for
Immediately thereafter, on November 8, 2004, complainant filed an reconsideration vis-a-vis the denial of his motion for intervention, as
well as of the decision on the compromise agreement, was
Urgent Manifestation and Notice of Appeal decrying the lack of
notice to him of the trial court’s [October] 15, 2004 Order and unintentional and brought about by an honest oversight on the part
of her court personnel, who inadvertently sent copies of the court
appealing the denial of his motion for intervention to the Court of
Appeals. On the same date, complainant also filed an Urgent Motion processes to complainant’s previous counsel, Atty. Rodolfo Ta-asan,
Jr. Thus, respondent insisted that she could not be made
for Voluntary Inhibition of respondent Judge in the civil cases on the
ground of lack of impartiality. administratively liable for gross misconduct on account of such
omission absent a clear showing of bad faith.
On December 7, 2004, when respondent Judge failed to act on his
notice of appeal, complainant filed a petition for certiorari, Likewise, respondent denounced the charge of undue delay in
passing upon complainant’s notice of appeal in light of her voluntary
inhibition from hearing the civil cases. She pointed out that she recommended that respondent be absolved from administrative
could no longer be expected to pass upon complainant’s notice of liability on this ground.
appeal after she had voluntarily inhibited herself.
As for the charge of undue delay in resolving complainant’s notice
Lastly, respondent asserted that the denial of complainant’s motion of appeal, the Investigating Justice brushed aside respondent’s
for intervention was prompted by the prevailing factual excuse that she could no longer act on the notice of appeal since
circumstances of the civil cases. She reasoned out that while the she already inhibited herself from the case. The Investigating Justice
denial of the motion for intervention was made prior to a rendition noted that the notice of appeal was filed simultaneously with the
of judgment in the civil cases, such denial was proper in view of the motion for inhibition and that respondent inhibited herself only
Compromise Agreement between the original parties to the case. after complainant filed a petition for certiorari with the CA assailing
Respondent insisted that the civil cases had been pending for the denial of his motion for intervention. The Investigating Justice
almost a decade; thus, when presented with a compromise opined that respondent’s inhibition was a mere afterthought to
agreement between the original parties, she felt it proper, in the escape liability for her negligence to act on the notice of appeal.
interest of justice, to deny complainant’s motion for intervention
Finally, the Investigating Justice held that respondent displayed
and promulgate a decision based on said compromise agreement.
gross ignorance of the rule on intervention in denying complainant’s
Respondent underscored that the administrative case is purely motion for intervention and in ruling that the complainant’s interest
harassment, designed to malign her for denying complainant’s would be better protected in a separate civil action.
motion for intervention.
While we concur with the Investigating Justice’s finding that
On November 12, 2007, this Court referred the complaint to the respondent is not guilty of gross misconduct, we are not in
Executive Justice of the CA, Cagayan de Oro City station, for agreement with his recommendation that respondent be held
investigation, report and recommendation.4 administratively liable for undue delay in rendering a decision or
order and gross ignorance of the law or procedure.
In the Report dated June 12, 2008, the Investigating Justice
recommended that respondent be ordered to pay a fine It is settled that as a matter of policy, the acts of a judge in his
of P10,000.00 for undue delay in rendering a decision or order, judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action. He cannot be
and P20,000.00 for gross ignorance of the law or procedure. subjected to liability – civil, criminal or administrative – for any of
his official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as he acts in good
On the failure to furnish the complainant’s new counsel of record faith.5 To hold otherwise would be to render judicial office
with copies of the court’s processes, the Investigating Justice found untenable, for no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the
that this omission does not amount to gross misconduct. He then
law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his motivated by any ill-will in denying the complainant’s motion for
judgment.6 intervention; hence, she cannot be sanctioned therefor.

However, the judges’ inexcusable failure to observe the basic laws The filing of an administrative complaint is not the proper remedy
and rules will render them administratively liable. When the law is for the correction of actions of a judge perceived to have gone
so simple and elementary, lack of conversance therewith beyond the norms of propriety, where a sufficient judicial remedy
constitutes gross ignorance of the law.7 In any case, to constitute exists.10
gross ignorance of the law, it is not enough that the subject
Complainant erroneously thought that when respondent failed to
decision, order or actuation of the judge in the performance of his
official duties is contrary to existing law and jurisprudence but, most act on his notice of appeal, he lost his right to appeal the court’s
order denying his motion for intervention and that his only remedy
importantly, such decision, order or act must be attended by bad
faith, fraud, dishonesty, or corruption. Good faith and absence of was to file a petition for certiorari with the CA which he, in fact,
filed. He failed to consider that a party’s appeal by notice of appeal
malice, corrupt motives or improper considerations, are sufficient
defenses in which a judge charged with ignorance of the law can is deemed perfected as to him, upon the filing of the notice of
appeal in due time and upon payment of the docket fees. The notice
find refuge.8
of appeal does not require the approval of the court. The function of
The allowance or disallowance of a motion to intervene is addressed the notice of appeal is merely to notify the trial court that the
to the sound discretion of the court. The permissive tenor of the appellant was availing of the right to appeal, and not to seek the
rules shows the intention to give to the court the full measure of court’s permission that he be allowed to pose an appeal.11
discretion in permitting or disallowing the intervention.9
The trial court’s only duty with respect to a timely appeal by notice
There is no doubt that respondent was cognizant of the rule on of appeal is to transmit the original record of the case to the
intervention, and she complied with it in good faith. In fact, appellate court. The court is given thirty (30) days from the
respondent has explained that she denied the motion for perfection of the appeal within which to transmit the record.12
intervention because it would only delay, to the prejudice of the
original parties, the civil cases which had already been pending for We note, however, that complainant also filed a motion for
inhibition on the same day that he filed the notice of appeal. On the
almost a decade. Respondent maintains that she sincerely believed
that the rights of the complainant would be better protected in a 30th day since the notice of appeal was filed, respondent inhibited
herself from the case. It goes without saying that from that time on,
separate action. Under the rule on intervention, these are valid
considerations in deciding whether or not to grant a motion to respondent could no longer perform any act pertaining to the
complainant’s appeal. That duty would then devolve upon the judge
intervene. There is no showing that respondent judge was
who will replace the respondent. Hence, respondent should not be Manila. The lease contract provided for a ten-year lease, renewable
sanctioned for her failure to act on the notice of appeal after she for another ten years at the option of the lessor. The contract
had inhibited herself from the case. likewise provided for a graduated schedule of rental fees, starting
with P4.50 per square meter on the first and second years,
WHEREFORE, this administrative case against Judge Marivic Trabajo increasing up to P6.50 per square meter on the ninth and tenth
Daray is DISMISSED. years. Private respondent lessees were also given the right of pre-
SO ORDERED. emption, with first priority to purchase the property if the owner,
herein petitioner, offered it for sale.
G.R. No. 111324 July 5, 1996
Intending to have a fire wall constructed, private respondents
ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA, petitioner, allegedly had the property relocated. As a result, they discovered
vs. that the adjacent owner's concrete fence abutted on a encroached
COURT OF APPEALS, SPS. ERNESTO REYES and LORNA upon 30.96 square meters of the leased property. Private
REYES, respondents. respondents requested petitioner to make adjustments in order to
correct the encroachment problem. The spouses Reyes claim that
despite repeated follow-up, petitioner has failed to take any action
ROMERO, J.:p on their demand. Consequently, they decided to withhold rental
payments as "leverage" against petitioner and to force the latter to
In this petition for review, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila make corrections or adjustments in the area of subject land.
elevates procedural issues for the Court's resolution. Does this case
involve multiple appeals, where a record on appeal is necessary to On March 9, 1987, petitioner informed private respondents in a
perfect the appeal? Does the appeal embrace purely questions of letter of its intention to sell the leased property. Although the
law? Does the Court of Appeals have jurisdiction over an appeal Reyeses conveyed their interest in buying the property, no deal was
from the Regional Trial Court raising only questions of law? finalized. In 1989, private respondents reiterated their desire to
purchase the property in response to petitioner's demand for the
The case at bar springs from a lease agreement executed by payment of P68,000.00 in unpaid rentals for the period October
petitioner-lessor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, and 1986 to January 1989. In the same letter, private respondents
private respondent-lessees, spouses Ernesto and Lorna Reyes on countered that they intend to pay as soon as the proper correction
August 1, 1985 over a parcel of land located in Intramuros, Manila. with respect to the encroached area is made by petitioner.
The property has an area of 470.30 square meters and is covered by
Original Certificate of Title No. 3764 of the Registry of Deeds of
In 1989, petitioner offered to sell the parcel of land on terms, at be ventilated in this proceeding in a trial on the merits. The
P2,127.45 per square meter. Private respondents argued that the pleadings of the parties really tendered issues regarding this
same lot should be sold to them at P1,600.00 per square meter, the particular point and the Court, at this point, cannot as of yet resolve
prevailing price when the lot was first offered for sale in 1987. the same without the evidence thereon by the parties sustaining
their respective postures.
No agreement was reached. Private respondent spouses filed an
action for specific performance and damages before the Regional However, with respect to the second cause of action, the Court feels
Trial Court of Manila. 1 The correction of adjustment of the that the complaint, on this particular issue, should indeed be
encroached portion of the property constituted their first cause of dismissed. It is underscored that the lease contract simply gives the
action. For their second cause of action, the spouses Reyes prayed plaintiffs a right of pre-emption over the leased premises. There was
that petitioner be compelled to sell the leased premises to them at as yet no definite offer and acceptance as regards the sale of the
P1,600.00 per square meter, claiming that there was already a property. The several communications submitted by the parties
contract of sale between the parties. clearly established such fact. The parties are still in the process
of negotiations; therefore, there is no contract, agreement or
Petitioner's Motion to Dismiss was not immediately resolved by the undertaking between the parties which can be enforced by this
trial court. It later filed its Answer with Counterclaim for rental Court (See Article 1305 & 1319, Civil Code). In the absence of a
payment owed by private respondents. Petitioner also filed a definite offer and unconditional acceptance as to the sale of the
motion for judgment on the pleading of unpaid rentals on 439.34 property in dispute, as in this case, neither of the parties may sue of
square meters of the 470 square meter leased property. specific performance of a non-existent contract. 3
On October 17, 1009 the trial court issued an Order denying The following day, October 18, 1990, the trial court acted on
petitioner's (defendant below) motion to dismiss insofar as the first petitioner's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings Relative to the
cause of action is concerned but granted it for the second cause of Counterclaim for Rental4 and rendered a Partial Judgment in the
action.2 In effect, the case was allowed to proceed with respect to case. The dispositive portion of the Partial Judgment in the case. The
the first cause of action, the request for correction in the dispositive portion of the Partial Judgment reads:
encroachment problem, but not with the second cause of action to
compel petitioner to sell the property to the spouses Reyes. The WHEREFORE, premises considered, partial judgment is hereby
Order reads in part: rendered in this case ordering the plaintiffs to pay to the defendant
the total sum of P108,297.31 representing rental arrearages from
With respect to the first cause of action, this Court feels that the October 1986 to the present, and the further amount of rentals
action cannot be dismissed as the matter treated therein has got to
accruing hereafter, computed in accordance with the ratio/schedule on appeal are purely question of law." Respondent court likewise
of the contract.5 stated that the case before it is a single appeal and does not
necessitate multiple appeals even if it involves an October 17, 1990
The lower court held that private respondent spouses were indeed Order and Partial Judgment rendered on October 18, 1990. Hence,
obligated to pay rent after having admitted that they deliberately even if only a notice of appeal was filed without a record on appeal,
defaulted in payments. Moreover, the law grants the lessee the the appeal was effectively perfected.
right to suspend payment of rentals only for the area of the leased
property which is not delivered, in this case an area of 30.96 square In its decision promulgated on May 20, 1993, respondent appellate
meters. The trial court found that since there is "no issue as to the court affirmed the trial court's October 17, 1990 Order but reversed
non-payment of the rentals as admitted by the plaintiffs themselves, and set aside the October 18, 1990 Partial Judgment.11 The case was
at least on the occupied area of 30.96 (sic),6 from October 1986 up ordered remanded to the lower court for further proceedings on
to the present time, partial judgment on the pleadings is indeed the merits to determine the exact amount of unpaid rentals. The
warranted."7 Rent was computed on a per-square-meter basis as Court of Appeals also declared that the insufficiency of private
provided for in the lease contract's schedule of rents. respondents' second cause of action (to compel the sale) is patent
from the face of the complaint and that the file trial court had no
Private respondent spouses filed a notice of appeal and elevated the other resource but to dismiss the same. On the issue of whether or
case to the Court of Appeals.8 They raised three issued: the not the trial court properly rendered partial judgment on the rental
lawfulness of dismissing the second cause of action (to compel the arrearages, the Court of Appeals ruled in the negative, saying that
sale of the lot); the propriety of holding that there was no contract the averments and available evidence tendered a valid issue which
of sale between the parties; and ordering the payment of rental could not be resolved merely on the pleadings.12
arrearages from October 1986 without any hearing on the merits.9
The Court of Appeals also held that the jurisdictional issue raised by
Petitioner moved to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the case petitioner has already been passed upon in its Resolution of
raises only pure questions of law and the respondent appellate September 14, 1992, rendering the said moot and academic.
court had no jurisdiction over the same. The latter court denied
petitioner's motion to dismiss and motion for reconsideration in a On July 27, 1993, respondent court denied the motion for
Resolution dated September 14, 1992.10 Respondent court ruled reconsideration filed by petitioner.
that private respondent spouses, appellants below, raised factual
Petitioner, through counsel, filed this petition for review, not
issues on the offer and acceptance regarding the sale of the lot in
question and on the trial court's order to pay back rentals. "These questioning the substantive aspects of the case but raising only the
factual issues revolt against the appellee's conclusion that the issues
procedural issues which it had earlier presented before the Court of foreclosure of mortgage.19 The rationale behind allowing more than
Appeals. one appeal in the same case is to enable the rest of the case to
proceed in the event that a separate and distinct issue is resolved by
I the court and held to be final.
Petitioner insists that this case involves multiple appeals which, The disputes in the case below for specific performance have arisen
therefore, necessitates the filing of record on appeal for the from the demand to make adjustments on the property where the
perfection of the appeal. It notes that while the motion to dismiss adjacent owner is alleged to have usurped a part thereof, the
was granted for the second cause of action (to compel sale), the exercise of the right of pre-emption and the payment of rental
case was left to proceed in connection with the encroachment issue. arrearages. A ruling on the issue of encroachment will perforce be
With the filing of the notice of appeal, the entire records of the case determinative of the issue of unpaid rentals. These two points do
were elevated to the Court of Appeals, leaving the trial court bereft not arise from two or more causes of action, but from the same
of any record with which to continue trial. Petitioner adds that cause of action. Hence, this suit does not require multiple appeals.
when a partial judgment is rendered in the case, the original record There is no ground for the splitting of appeals in this case, even if it
of the case should not be transmitted to the appellate court in case involves an Order granting (and denying) a motion to dismiss and a
of an appeal from such partial judgment. Without the records of the Partial Judgment granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
case, trial on the unresolved issues cannot proceed — a situation The subject matter covered in the Order in the Partial Judgment
"hardly conductive to the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial pertain to the same lessor-lessee relationship, lease contract and
business."13 It further alleges that as more than one appeal is parcel of land. Splitting appeals in the instant case would, in effect,
permitted in this case, a record on appeal is required and the period be violative of the rule against multiplicity of appeals.
to appeal should be thirty days.14 In the instant case, private
respondents failed to file the record on appeal, hence, their appeal The conclusion is irresistible that since a case has not been made
should have been dismissed. out for multiple appeals, a record on appeal is unnecessary to
perfect the appeal.
The Court finds no merit in the above arguments.
The case at bar is not one where multiple appeals can be taken or
are necessary. Multiple appeals are allowed in special Petitioner also contends that the issues raised on appeal to
proceedings,15 in actions for recovery of property with respondent court are pure questions of law over which the Supreme
accounting,16 in actions for partition of property with Court has exclusive jurisdiction.
accounting,17 in the special civil actions of eminent domain18 and
It further claims that since the Order and the Partial Judgment where only errors or questions of law are raised, pursuant to law or
rendered by the trial court were based exclusively on the the Rules of Court.
admissions and averments contained in the parties' pleadings, an
Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 (B.P. Blg. 129), otherwise
appeal therefrom involves only pure questions of law. Citing the
Court's pronouncement in People v. Enguero, 20 petitioner maintains known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, states that the
Court of Appeals (formerly the Intermediate Appellate Court) shall
that involved herein is a purely legal question "where the statement
of facts is admittedly correct and undisputed by the parties, and the exercise:
only issue raised is the correct application of the law and (3) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments,
jurisprudence on the matter."21 Having raised only pure questions of decisions, resolutions, orders or awards of Regional Trial Courts . . .,
law, private respondents, it is alleged, should have elevated their except those falling within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme
appeal to this Court and not to the Court of Appeals. Court in accordance with the Constitution, the provisions of this Act,
and of subparagraph (1) of the third paragraph and subparagraph
Petitioner is correct in saying that decisions of the Regional Trial
Court may be directly reviewed by the Supreme Court on petition (4) of the fourth paragraph of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of
1948. (Emphasis supplied.)
for review only if pure question of law are raised.

Article VIII, Section 5 (2) (e) of the 1987 Constitution provides: This provision of law states the general rule that appeals from the
Regional Trial Courts shall be brought before the Court of Appeals
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: unless it is properly to be elevated to the Supreme Court in
accordance with (a) constitutional provisions, (b) B.P. Blg. 129 and
xxx xxx xxx (c) the provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1948. These being in the
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal nature of exceptions, the Court deems it proper to summarize them
or certiorari as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final below.
judgment and orders of lower courts in: Article IX A, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides that any
xxx xxx xxx decisions, order or ruling of each of the Constitutional Commissions,
namely, the Commission on Audit, the Commission on Elections and
(e) All case in which only an error or question of law is involved. the Civil Service Commission,22 may be brought to the Supreme
Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days form
According to the aforequoted section, the Supreme Court may
receipt of a copy thereof.23 Cases decided by the National Labor
review decisions of a lower court, such as the Regional Trial Court
Relations Commission and the Sandiganbayan may also be reviewed
by the Supreme Court in a petition for certiorari by virtue of the xxx xxx xxx
Court's inherent power of judicial review24 and Section 7 of
Presidential Decree No. 1606,25 respectively. (4) All other cases in which only errors or questions of law are
involved: Provided, however, That if, in addition to constitutional,
Portions of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 which have not tax or jurisdictional questions, the cases mentioned in the three
been repealed likewise provide what cases fall within the exclusive next preceding paragraphs also involve questions of fact or mixed
appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Section 17 reads, inter questions of fact and law, the aggrieved party shall appeal to the
alia: Court of Appeals; and the final judgment of decision of the latter
may be reviewed, revised, reversed, modified or affirmed by the
Sec. 17. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. — . . . Supreme Court on writ of certiorari. 27 (Emphasis supplied.)
The Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to review, From the foregoing provisions, the following principles may be
revise, reverse, modify or affirm on appeal, as the law or rules of formulated: decisions of the Regional Trial Court may be elevated
court may provide, final judgments and decrees of inferior courts as directly to the Supreme Court on certiorari in criminal cases where
herein provided, in — the penalty imposed in death or life imprisonment, including cases
(1) All criminal cases involving offenses for which the penalty arising out of the same occurrence28 and in all other case in which
imposed is death or life imprisonment; and those involving other only errors or questions of law are involved.29 When the
offenses which, although not so punished, arose out of the same Constitution states that cases involving questions of fact or mixed
occurrence or which may have been committed by the accused on questions of fact and law should be appealed to the Court of
the same occasion, as that giving rise to the more serious offense, Appeals, it merely restates in another way the principle that if only
regardless of whether the accused are charged as principals, questions of law are raised, these cases should be elevated to the
accomplices or accessories or whether they have been tried jointly Supreme Court.
or separately;26 Circular 2-90,30 number 4 (c), which petitioner cities, likewise
xxx xxx xxx indirectly states that cases from the Regional Trial Court raising only
questions of law should be taken to the Supreme Court since
The Supreme Court shall further have exclusive jurisdiction to appeals under Rule 41 from Regional Trial Court to the Court of
review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on certiorari as the law or Appeals involving only questions of law "shall be dismissed, issues
rules of court may provide, final judgment and decrees of inferior purely of law not being reviewable by said court." Number 4 (c) and
courts as herein provided, in — (d) of Circular 2-90, reads:
4. Erroneous Appeals. — An appeal taken to either the Supreme question that begs answer is whether the issues raised by the
Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong or inappropriate mode private respondent spouses are solely questions of law which
shall be dismissed. would, therefore, appertain to the exclusive jurisdiction of this
xxx xxx xxx
Upon a careful analysis of the issues raised by private respondent in
(c) Raising issues purely of law in the Court of Appeals, or appeal by its appeal to respondent court, the Court finds that they are not
wrong mode. — If an appeal under Rule 41 is taken from the purely questions of law. Specifically, when private respondent
Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals and therein the questioned the conclusion of the trial court that there was no
appellant raises only questions of law, the appeal shall be dismissed, meeting of the minds between lessor and lessee regarding the sale
issues purely of law not being reviewable by said court. . . . of the leased property, private respondent raised a factual issue.
(d) No transfer of appeals erroneously taken. — No transfers of Similarly, the issue of whether or not there was a perfected contract
appeals erroneously taken to the Supreme Court or to the Court of of sale necessitates an inquiry into the facts and evidence on record.
Appeals to whichever of these Tribunals has appropriate appellate Likewise, the question regarding the property of granting judgment
jurisdiction will be allowed; continued ignorance or wilful disregard on the pleadings on the matter of rental arrears demands a scrutiny
of the law on appeals will not be tolerated. (Emphasis supplied.) of the facts of the case.

From the foregoing, it is clear that the Court of Appeals does not The appeal elevated by private respondents, therefore, was
exercise jurisdiction over appeals from the Regional Trial Court properly cognizable by respondent court. There being no reversible
which raise purely questions of law. Appeals of this nature should error in the decision under review, the instant petition is denied for
be elevated to this Court. Notwithstanding the confirmation of this lack of merit.
legal rule, still, the instant petition cannot be granted because the WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENTED. The decision
appeal brought before the Court of Appeals by private respondent and resolution of respondent Court of Appeals dated May 20, 1993
spouses does not involve questions or errors of law alone, there and July 7, 1993, respectively, in CA G.R. CV No. 29905 entitled
being factual issues to be resolved. "Spouse Ernesto Reyes and Lorna Reyes v. Roman Catholic
Petitioner has correctly defined what is a "question of law," thus: Archbishop of Manila" are AFFIRMED.
there is a question of law when the issue does not call for an SO ORDERED.
examination of the probative value of evidence presented, the truth
or falsehood of facts being admitted and the doubt concerns the Regalado, Puno, Mendoza and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.
correct application of law and jurisprudence on the matter.31 The
G.R. No. 113703 January 31, 1997 Less:

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, petitioner, Income Tax P2,620,347.00

vs. 1981 tax credit
OF APPEALS, respondents Case No. 3964 1,190,861.95 3,811,208.95
—————— ——————
Excess tax payment P273,876.05 (Exh. D)
The facts of this case are undisputed. Taxes Withheld by
On November 27, 1987, private respondent, A. Soriano Corporation withholding Agents 1,126,065.40 (Exh. C)
(hereinafter referred to as ANSCOR for brevity), filed with the —————————
respondent, Court of Tax Appeals, a petition for refund of excess tax Total excess tax payments P1,399,941.45"1
payments it made to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the During trial before the Court of Tax Appeals, ANSCOR presented
amount of P273,876.05 for the year 1985 and P1,126,065.40 for the evidence to substantiate its claim, to which no objection was
year 1986 or a total amount of P1,399,941.45, arriving at the interposed by the petitioner, Commissioner of Internal Revenue,
foregoing amount as follows: except for the purposes for which they were offered. When ANSCOR
"1985 rested its case, the petitioner, instead of presenting evidence,
submitted the case for decision solely upon the evidence adduced
Prior years's excess by ANSCOR and the pleadings on record.2
income tax payments P3,016,841.00 (Exh. A)
Plus: On August 7, 1991, the Court of Tax Appeals rendered a decision,
the pertinent portion of which reads:
Taxes withheld on
Interest P255,864.00 In the light of the course respondent has chosen to prove his case,
Rentals, etc. 812,380.00 1,068,244 (Exh. A) the approach turns out short. In a very recent case (Citytrust
—————— ———————— Banking Corporation vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, CTA
P4,085,085.00 Case No. 4099, May 28, 1991) we conclude under similar
Respondent did not object to the existence of statements and On September 17, 1991, the petitioner filed a motion for
certificates which were offered by petitioner as proof of the reconsideration of the aforegoing decision. Seeking the admission in
withholding taxes but took exception to their contents and evidence of a report4 submitted only on September 18, 1991 by the
purposes. Despite said reservation, up until the submission of this BIR Official who investigated ANSCOR's claim for refund, a
case for decision, respondent was not heard to complain about the supplemental motion for reconsideration was filed by the petitioner
veracity of the contents of these documents or exhibits nor has it on September 27, 1991. The Court of Tax Appeals, however, denied
shown any irregularity in the same which will taint their reliability or the petitioner's motion for reconsideration and supplemental
sufficiency as proofs of the taxes withheld despite the fact that it is motion for reconsideration. In a resolution dated December 9, 1992,
well within their competence to do so. Respondent is thereby it held, among others, that the petitioner cannot be allowed to
considered to have admitted the truth of the contents of these present the BIR report of September 18, 1991 because such report
exhibits. Hence, those amounts of withheld taxes which are was in the personal physical possession of a subordinate of the
supported by corresponding statements or certificates of petitioner during the trial and is therefore not in the nature of a
withholding taxes admitted in evidence shall be allowed as tax newly discovered evidence but is merely "forgotten evidence."5 The
credits. petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the
assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Tax Appeals. Hence,
Nor does the failure of respondent affect only the subject of 1985 this Petition for Review on Certiorari raising the singular issue of:
taxes Against the claimed deductions by petitioner for 1986, which "whether C.T.A. Case No. 4201 should be reopened in order to allow
it supported with tax returns as evidence, respondent could only petitioner to present in evidence the report of investigation of the
give out the perfunctory resistance such as that 'mere allegation of BIR officer on private respondent's claim for refund."6
net loss does not ipso facto  merit a refund'. But respondent for his
part, did not present any evidence that would have dispute the It is evident that what the petitioner sought before the Court of Tax
correctness of the tax returns and other material facts therein Appeals was actually a new trial on the ground of newly discovered
(Citytrust Banking Corporation vs. Commissioner of Internal evidence. Thus, as correctly put by ANSCOR in its Comment to the
Revenue, supra). Petition, the resolution of the above stated issue hinges on the
determination of the nature of the BIR report either as newly
xxx xxx xxx discovered evidence, warranting a trial de novo,  or "forgotten
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Respondent is evidence" which can no longer be considered on appeal.7
ordered to issue a tax credit memorandum to petitioner in the sum Section 5, Rule 13 of the Rules of the Court of Tax Appeals provides
of P1,399,941.45 to be used as payment for its internal revenue tax that the provisions of Rule 37 of the Rules of Court shall be
liabilities."3 applicable to motions for new trial before the Court of Tax Appeals.
Under Section 1, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court, the requisites for To accept the contrary view of the petitioner would give rise to a
newly discovered evidence as a ground for a new trial are: (a) the dangerous precedent in that there would be no end to a hearing
evidence was discovered after the trial; (b) such evidence could not before respondent court because, every time a party is aggrieved by
have been discovered and produced at the trial with reasonable its decision, he can have it set aside by asking to be allowed to
diligence; and (c) that it is material, not merely cumulative, present additional evidence without having to comply with the
corroborative or impeaching, and is of such weight that, if admitted, requirements of a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered
will probably change the judgment.8 All three requisites must evidence. Rule 13, Section 5 of the Rules of the Court of Tax Appeals
characterize the evidence sought to be introduced at the new trial. should not be ignored at will and at random to the prejudice of the
orderly presentation of issues and their resolution. To do so would
We agree with the ruling of the respondent Courts that the BIR affect, to a considerable extent, the principle of stability of judicial
report of September 18, 1991 does not qualify as newly discovered decision.9
evidence. Aside from petitioner's bare assertion that the said report
was not yet in existence at the time of the trial, he miserably failed We are left with no recourse but to conclude that this is a simple
to offer any evidence to prove that the same could not have been case of negligence on the part of the petitioner. For this act of
discovered and produced at the trial despite reasonable diligence. negligence, the petitioner cannot be allowed to seek refuge in a
Why such a report of vital significance could not have been liberal application of the Rules. For it should not be forgotten that
prepared and presented during the four (4) long years that the case the first and fundamental concern of the rules of procedure is it
was pending before the Court of Tax Appeals is simply beyond our secure a just determination of every action. In the case at bench, a
comprehension. Worse, petitioner did not even endeavor to explain liberal application of the rules of procedure to suit the petitioner's
this circumstance. purpose would clearly pave the way for injustice as it would be
rewarding an act of negligence with undeserved tolerance.
Perhaps realizing that under the Rules the said report cannot be
correctly admitted as newly discovered evidence, the petitioner WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed
invokes a liberal application of the Rules. He submits that Section 8 decision of the Court of Appeals dated January 31, 1994 is
of the Rules of the Court of Tax Appeals declaring that the latter AFFIRMED in toto.
shall not be governed strictly by technical rules of evidence
mandates a relaxation of the requirements of new trial on the basis SO ORDERED.
of newly discovered evidence. This is a dangerous proposition and Narvasa, C.J, Davide, Jr., Melo and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
one which we refuse to countenance. we cannot agree more with
the Court of Appeals when it stated thus,
G.R. No. 161864             April 27, 2007 On December 4, 2001, petitioners, assisted by Atty. Rafael E.
Villarosa, filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review
SPS. ROLANDO DELA CRUZ and TERESITA DELA CRUZ, Petitioners, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 67966.3 The appellate court dismissed
vs. the petition since the Certification of Non-Forum Shopping was
SPS. FELICIANO ANDRES and ERLINDA AUSTRIA, and the DIRECTOR signed by Atty. Villarosa instead of petitioners in violation of Section
OF LANDS, Respondents. 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.4 Petitioners moved for
RESOLUTION reconsideration but it was denied.

QUISUMBING, J.: Thereafter, Atty. Villarosa withdrew his appearance. On March 20,

2002, petitioners, assisted by Atty. Guillermo M. Hernandez, Jr.,
This petition for review on certiorari assails the Resolutions dated requested for an extension of time to file their petition before this
October 21, 20031 and January 21, 20042 of the Court of Appeals in Court. Later, they abandoned the motion and the case was declared
CA-G.R. SP No. 67966, which dismissed the petition for relief from closed and terminated.
judgment instituted by petitioners and denied their motion for
reconsideration, respectively. On May 6, 2002, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a
petition for relief from judgment praying that the dismissal of their
The petition stemmed from the following factual antecedents: petition for review be set aside since the gross negligence of their
previous counsel did not bind them.5 The appellate court, however,
Spouses Rolando Dela Cruz and Teresita Dela Cruz filed a complaint
denied their petition. It ruled that petitioners were bound by the
for annulment of title and/or reconveyance with damages against
action of their counsel as well as by his mistake or negligence. It
spouses Feliciano Andres and Erlinda Austria and the Director of
added that petitioners could not belatedly complain on petition or
Lands on July 28, 1993. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 523
appeal about their counsel’s incompetence since they could have
and assigned to the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Laur and
easily dismissed him at the initial or trial stage if they were not
Gabaldon in Laur, Nueva Ecija.
satisfied with his performance. Since petitioners slept on their
The MCTC ordered the Director of Lands to cancel Original rights, they had no one to blame but themselves.
Certificate of Title No. 11859 insofar as the 410 square meters
With the denial of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners
owned and occupied by petitioners were concerned. On appeal, the
came to this Court raising the following issues:
Regional Trial Court of Palayan City, Branch 40, reversed and set
aside the decision of the MCTC. I.
Whether or not the filing of a Petition [for] Relief from Judgment Respondents, on the other hand, maintain that petitioners’ counsel
pursuant to Rule 38 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is available was not negligent and in fact did his best since he filed the petition
when the case is already pending with the Court of Appeals and/or for review on time.
with this Honorable Court;
After considering the submission of the parties, we deny the
II. petition for lack of merit.

Whether or not the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in A petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 of the 1997 Rules
not finding that the petitioners’ previous counsel’s acts are to be of Civil Procedure is an equitable remedy that is allowed only in
considered as gross negligence; exceptional cases when there is no other available or adequate
remedy.7 It may be availed of only after a judgment, final order or
III. other proceeding was taken against the petitioner in any court
Whether or not the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in through fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence.8
finding that the petitioners have allegedly slept on their right to While the law uses the phrase "any court," it refers only to
complain about the incompetence of their previous counsel and to Municipal/Metropolitan and Regional Trial Courts.9 The procedure
dismiss such counsel; and in the Court of Appeals and this Court are governed by separate
IV. provisions of the Rules of Court and may, from time to time, be
supplemented by additional rules promulgated by this Court
Whether or not the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in through resolutions or circulars. As it stands, neither the Rules of
not considering the case on the merits.6 Court nor the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals allows
the remedy of petition for relief in the Court of Appeals.10
The threshold issue before us is: Can petitioners avail of a petition
for relief under Rule 38 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure from a Moreover, under Section 1(b), Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
judgment of the Court of Appeals due to their counsel’s negligence Procedure, the denial of a petition for relief from judgment is
when he signed the Certification of Non-Forum Shopping? subject only to a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65. In
seeking to reverse the appellate court’s decision denying their
Petitioners plead that they be spared the consequences of their
petition for relief from judgment by a petition for review on
procedural lapse since it was caused by their counsel’s gross
certiorari under Rule 45, petitioners have availed of the wrong
negligence in ignoring a well-established rule that it is the party
remedy twice.11
himself who should verify and certify the pleading.
Nevertheless, even if this Court were to delve into the merits of this rules cannot justly be rationalized by harking on the policy of liberal
petition, the same must still be denied. What petitioners’ counsel construction.16
did in this case was to attach an improper Certification of Non-
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The
Forum Shopping to their petition for review with the appellate
court. While this omission can plausibly qualify as simple negligence, assailed Resolutions dated October 21, 2003 and January 21, 2004
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67966, are AFFIRMED.
it does not amount to gross negligence to justify the annulment of
the proceedings below. Costs against petitioners.
For a claim of counsel’s gross negligence to prosper, nothing short SO ORDERED.
of clear abandonment of the client’s cause must be shown.12 The
negligence of counsel must be so gross that the client is deprived of G.R. No. 82072 April 17, 1989
his day in court, the result of which is that he is deprived of his
GEORGIA G. TUMANG, petitioner,
property without due process of law. Thus, where a party was given
the opportunity to defend his interests in due course, he cannot be
said to have been denied due process of law, for this opportunity to
and HAYDEE T. DEL MUNDO, respondents.
be heard is the very essence of due process.13 Here, the case
underwent a full-blown trial. Both parties were adequately heard, Victoriano M. Agcaoili for petitioner.
and all issues were ventilated before the decision was promulgated.
Rolando M. Rivera and Roberto Rafael V. Lucila for private
It should be pointed out that in petitions for relief from judgment, respondents.
meritorious defenses must be accompanied by the ground relied
upon, whether it is fraud, accident, mistake, excusable negligence,
extrinsic fraud or lack of jurisdiction.14 In the instant case, there
being neither excusable nor gross negligence amounting to a denial
of due process, meritorious defenses cannot alone be considered. The present petition seeks a review of the Resolution dated 18
November 1987 of the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. No. 03201,
While it is true that rules of procedure are not cast in stone, it is
specifically the portion thereof granting the respondent spouses'
equally true that strict compliance with the Rules is indispensable
motion for new trial.
for the prevention of needless delays and for the orderly and
expeditious dispatch of judicial business.15 Utter disregard of the On 22 January 1979, petitioner Georgia Tumang commenced action
against respondent spouses Daniel and Haydee Del Mundo in the
Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, to annul certain documents of On 10 May 1984, the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 4,
sale covering her interest in a lot situated at No. 7 Military Cut-Off rendered a Decision in favor of petitioner and against respondent
Road, Baguio City. The complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 3484, spouses, the dispositive part of which reads:
alleged that petitioner was the registered owner of the mentioned
lot covered by Original Certificate of Title No. T-1289; that as an act WHEREFORE, this court render judgment in favor of plaintiff, and
against defendants, as follows:
of accommodation for the benefit of respondent spouses Haydee
del Mundo and Daniel Del Mundo (who are petitioner's sister and A. Declaring null and void —
brother-in-law, respectively), petitioner executed two (2) deeds of
sale over her nine-tenth (9/10) interest in the property and a 1. The deed of sale, dated December 28, 1973, conveying 40% of
document confirming the sale of such interest, all of which plaintiffs rights and interests over the 700-square meter lot, as well
instruments were executed without any consideration moving from as improvements thereon, at No. 7 Military Cut-Off, Baguio City
respondent spouses to petitioner; that the accommodation was (Exhibit B);
intended to enable respondent Daniel del Mundo, an employee of
2. The second deed of sale, dated May 27, 1975, conveying 85% of
the Bureau of Internal Revenue, to "puff up" his personal holdings
plaintiffs rights and interests over a 1,000-square meter lot as Res.
so he could comply with the government's policy requiring its
Sec. A, more particularly described in T.S.A. V-1791, Baguio City
employees to make full disclosure of all their properties; that
(Exhibit C);
respondent spouses breached her trust when they had caused the
registration of the lot, and issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title 3. The 'Ratification and Confirmation of the Sale of Undivided
No. T-27584, to include their own names as co-owners (1/10 for Interests in a Parcel of Land dated June 24, 1977, in lieu of Original
petitioner and 9/10 for respondent spouses); that the respondents, Certificate of Title No. P-1289.
despite several demands, refused to return her property.
B. Ordering defendants to reconvey to plaintiff their 9/10 share over
Respondent spouses, in their answer, contended that the deeds of the parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
sale were not without any consideration; that since the execution of 27584 immediately upon the finality of the decision. Their failure to
the questioned documents, they have been in possession of the do so will cause this court to direct the Acting Clerk of Court to
land and been paying realty taxes thereon; that it was petitioner execute the corresponding deed of conveyance in favor of plaintiff,
who had formally requested the Register of Deeds of Baguio City to and
cancel her title and to issue another and new title in their
(petitioner and respondent spouses) names. Respondents filed a C. Ordering plaintiff and defendants to surrender to the court the
counterclaim for damages. co- owner's duplicate copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
27584, likewise immediately upon the finality of the decision, failing parties. Needless to state, their reception as evidence could change
which, the said co-owner's duplicate copy of the title shall be the complexion of the case.
rendered automatically null and void. In either case, the Register of
IN VIEW WHEREOF, defendants-appellants' motion for
Deeds shall thereafter cancel Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
27584, and issue a new title in the name of plaintiff as the sole reconsideration is denied for lack of merit. Their motion for new
trial is however granted and consequently the case is remanded to
owner of the subject lot, as well as improvements thereon.1
the trial court for further proceedings.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the appealed
SO ORDERED.2 (Emphasis supplied)
judgment in a Decision promulgated on 8 October 1986.

Respondent spouses immediately filed a Motion for Reconsideration Petitioner's subsequent motion for reconsideration of the above
resolution was denied for lack of merit in a minute resolution dated
and for New Trial alleging that the Court of Appeals' decision was
based on insufficient evidence and was contrary to law; that new 4 February 1988.
evidence consisting of receipts signed by petitioner apparently Hence, this Petition.
showing that she had received various Slims of money totalling
P69,992.00 from respondent spouses as consideration for the Petitioner argues that respondent Court of Appeals erred in
transactions here involved, were discovered after trial which are regarding the receipts as "newly discovered evidence" and in
material and relevant to the case. In a Resolution dated 18 allowing new trial on this ground.
November 1987, the Court of Appeals denied respondents' Motion
A motion for new trial upon the ground of newly discovered
for Reconsideration but granted the request for a new trial holding
evidence, is properly granted where there is concurrence of the
following requisites, namely: a) the evidence had been discovered
[t]here is sufficient ground for new trial of the case. It is not after trial; b) the evidence could not have been discovered and
seriously disputed that the receipts constituting the new evidence produced during trial even with the exercise of reasonable
were discovered after the trial of the case has been diligence; and c) the evidence is material, and not merely
concluded.  Likewise, these receipts could not have been discovered corroborative, cumulative, or impeaching and is of such weight that
earlier despite appellants' reasonable diligence in searching for the if admitted, would probably alter the result.3
same. The receipts bear the signature of plaintiff-appellee Georgia
Petitioner does not dispute that the receipts which respondent
Tumang and same appear to be in her own handwriting. They
dents intend to submit as new evidence were found subsequent to
purport to establish the consideration for the transaction of the
the trial. Petitioner, however, chiefly argues that the receipts do not
constitute newly discovered evidence but are merely "forgotten a relative and variable one, not capable of exact definition and the
evidence," being already in existence during trial and which could contents of which must depend entirely on the particular
have been discovered and there presented by the respondents had configuration of facts obtaining in each case.
they exercised due diligence in searching for such receipts.
In the case at bar, the receipts which the Court of Appeals
Newly discovered evidence, under prevailing jurisprudence, need considered newly discovered evidence were found by respondent
not be newly created evidence; newly discovered evidence in other Daniel del Mundo, according to his affidavit of merit attached to the
words, may and does commonly refer to evidence already in Motion for Reconsideration and for New Trial,7 on 4 October 1986 in
existence prior or during the trial but which could not have been their residence at No. 3905 Marigold Road, Parañaque, Metro
secured and presented during the trial despite reasonable diligence Manila, when, in the course of a "general cleaning and re-
on the part of the litigant offering it or his counsel.4 Newly arrangement" of their house necessitated by floods caused by heavy
discovered evidence, again, is not limited to evidence which, though rains, he happened to look into an old desk in his "study cubicle." He
already in existence before or during trial was not known to the sorted out various items "such as old cards, letters, memorabilia,
offering litigant. So-called "forgotten" evidence may, upon the other pamphlets, brochures, and similar miscellaneous things
hand, be seen to refer to evidence already in existence or available accumulated through the years." He found in "the bottom back
before or during trial, which was known to and obtainable by the portion of a drawer in said desk an old envelope containing "a
party offering it and,5 which could have been presented and offered bunch of documents" among which, it turned out, were the receipts
in a seasonable manner were it not for the oversight or issued by petitioner Dr. Georgia Tumang to respondent spouses.
forgetfullness of such party or his counsel.6 The latter had "believed these receipts to have been lost and no
longer existing," having been unable to locate them "despite
In order that a particular piece of evidence may be properly diligent effort[s] to search all documents and files in our
regarded as "newly discovered" for purposes of a grant of new trial, possession."
what is essential is not so much the time when the evidence offered
first sprang into existence nor the time when it first came to the We agree with the Court of Appeals that the receipts submitted by
knowledge of the party now submitting it; what it essential is, the respondents spouses are properly regarded as newly discovered
rather, that the offering party had exercised reasonable diligence in evidence warranting the grant of a new trial. The receipts,
seeking to locate such evidence before or during trial but had previously thought lost and gone forever and found in the "bottom
nonetheless failed to secure it. Thus, a party who, prior to the trial back portion" of a drawer in an old and unused desk, could hardly
had, no means of knowing that a specific piece of evidence existed have been located with the exercise of average or reasonable
and was in fact obtainable, can scarcely be charged with lack of diligence; indeed, it was in the course of a "general (house) cleaning
diligence. It is commonplace to observe that the term "diligence" is and re-arrangement" of the respondents' house that they were
found once again. This is what the Court of Appeals in effect held. maintenance and educational expenses of respondents' children
We think that the respondent spouses' explanation has the ring of who were then attending school in Baguio. The question of whether
truth; it certainly is entirely plausible. It seems quite reasonable to the sums of money were actually received "in trust" for some
assume that the respondents would have exerted all efforts to unrelated purpose, or whether they had been received in payment
locate the re- receipts earlier; it was clearly in their interest and to for the sale of the property involved, can only be properly threshed
their advantage to have presented them during the trial had they in out in a new trial.
fact been effectively available to them at that time, since the
ACCORDINGLY, the Petition is DENIED and the Court of Appeals'
receipts appear to contradict petitioner's express denial of receipt
of any money in connection with the transfer of 9/10 of her interest Resolution dated 18 November 1987 is hereby AFFIRMED.
in the property involved. The receipts also appear to support SO ORDERED.
respondent spouses' defense that the three (3) documents nullified
by the trial court were not simulated merely to avoid possible anti- G.R. No. 161122               September 24, 2012
corruption charges against respondent Daniel del Mundo but had in
fact been executed for value. The receipts are, in other words,
apparently of such import that a reasonably prudent man would
have most diligently searched for them.
Presiding Judge of RTC-CEBU, Br. 56, MANDAUE CITY, SPS. FELIX
There is no question then that the receipts involved are material NG AND NENITA NG, and SPS. MARTIN T. NG AND AZUCENA S. NG
and relevant to the issue of lack of consideration, and could possibly AND AGRIPINA R. GOC-ONG, Respondents.
effect a change in the result reached by the trial court.
Finally, we note that the grant or denial of a new trial is generally
speaking addressed to the sound discretion of the court, a
discretion which cannot be interfered with unless a clear abuse A decision rendered on a complaint in a civil action or proceeding
thereof is shown.8 Petitioner has not shown such an abuse here. On does not hind or prejudice a person not impleaded therein, for no
the contrary, it appears to us that the interests of substantial justice person shall he adversely affected by the outcome of a civil action
would best be served by remanding as the Court of Appeals did, the or proceeding in which he is not a party. 1 Hence, such person
case to the trial court for a new trial, where the precise import of cannot bring an action for the annulment of the judgment under
the receipts may be litigated. Petitioner does not dispute the Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,  except if he has been a
authenticity of her signature on the receipts; however, she argues successor in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of
that, the moneys receipted for were only received "in trust" for the
the action, or the action or proceeding is in rem  the judgment in With Agripina R. Goc-ong being declared in default for failing to file
which is binding against him. her answer in Civil Case No. MAN-2838,5 the RTC rendered its
Decision on October 16, 1997, disposing:
In the light of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
The petitioner acquired a parcel of land with an area of 65,100
square meters situated in San Roque, Lilo-an, Metro Cebu known as 1) Declaring herein Plaintiffs the owners of lot 7531-part, situated at
lot 7531-part (the property) through a deed of absolute sale San Roque, Liloan, Cebu containing an area of Sixty Five Thousand
executed on July 28, 1994 between the petitioner, as vendee, and One Hundred (65,100) square meters and assessed for P 22,240.00
Agripina R. Goc-ong (a respondent herein), Porferio Goc-ong, and
Diosdado Goc-ong, Crisostomo Goc-ong, Tranquilino Goc-ong,
2) Directing Defendant to pay Plaintiff the sum of P 10,000.00 as
Naciancena Goc-ong and Avelino Goc-ong (collectively, the Goc-
ongs), as vendors.2 attorney’s fees and

3) ₱ 10,000.00 as litigation expenses.

The petitioner later on discovered the joint affidavit executed on
June 19, 1990 by the Goc-ongs, whereby the Goc-ongs declared that SO ORDERED.6
they were the owners of the property, and that they were
mortgaging the property to Felix Ng, married to Nenita N. Ng, and Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Martin T. Ng, married to Azucena S. Ng (collectively, the Ngs) to
In 2001, the petitioner commenced in the Court of Appeals (CA) an
secure their obligation amounting to ₱ 648,000.00, subject to the
action for the annulment of the October 16, 1997 decision of the
condition that should they not pay the stipulated 36-monthly
installments, the Ngs would automatically become the owners of
the property.3 On June 19, 2001, however, the CA dismissed the petition for
annulment of judgment, viz:
With the Goc-ongs apparently failing to pay their obligation to the
Ngs as stipulated, the latter brought on January 16, 1997 a We are constrained to DISMISS OUTRIGHT the present petition for
complaint for the recovery of a sum of money, or, in the alternative, annulment of judgment under Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
for the foreclosure of mortgage in the Regional Trial Court, Branch Procedure, as amended, considering that nowhere therein is there
56, in Mandaue City (RTC) only against respondent Agripina R. Goc- an allegation on why "the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal,
ong.4 The action was docketed as Civil Case No. MAN-2838. petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer
available through no fault of the petitioner.["]7
The petitioner moved for the reconsideration of the outright I.
dismissal, but the CA denied its motion for reconsideration on
October 24, 2003 on the basis that petitioner did not show why it A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so
exceptional in nature that it may be availed of only when other
had not availed itself of the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal,
petition for relief or other appropriate remedies as provided in remedies are wanting, and only if the judgment, final order or final
resolution sought to be annulled was rendered by a court lacking
Section 1, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court.
jurisdiction or through extrinsic fraud.8 Yet, the remedy, being
Issues exceptional in character, is not allowed to be so easily and readily
abused by parties aggrieved by the final judgments, orders or
Hence, the petitioner ascribes to the CA the following errors, to wit: resolutions.9 The Court has thus instituted safeguards by limiting the
I. grounds for the annulment to lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud,
and by prescribing in Section 110 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court  that
THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN RULING the petitioner should show that the ordinary remedies of new trial,
THAT PETITIONER FAILED TO EXPLAIN WHY IT DID NOT AVAIL OF appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no
THE OTHER REMEDIES ENUMERATED UNDER SECTION 1 RULE 47 OF longer available through no fault of the petitioner.11 A petition for
THE 1997 RULES ON CIVIL PROCEDURE. annulment that ignores or disregards any of the safeguards cannot
The attitude of judicial reluctance towards the annulment of a
judgment, final order or final resolution is understandable, for the
remedy disregards the time-honored doctrine of immutability and
unalterability of final judgments, a solid corner stone in the
dispensation of justice by the courts. The doctrine of immutability
The decisive query is whether the action for annulment of judgment and unalterability serves a two-fold purpose, namely: (a) to avoid
under Rule 47 was a proper recourse for the petitioner to set aside delay in the administration of justice and thus, procedurally, to
the decision rendered in Civil Case No. MAN-2838. make orderly the discharge of judicial business; and (b) to put an
end to judicial controversies, at the risk of occasional errors, which
Ruling is precisely why the courts exist.12 As to the first, a judgment that
has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and is no
We deny the petition for review.
longer to be modified in any respect even if the modification is
meant to correct an erroneous conclusion of fact or of law, and
whether the modification is made by the court that rendered the The principle that a person cannot be prejudiced by a ruling
decision or by the highest court of the land.13 As to the latter, rendered in an action or proceeding in which he has not been made
controversies cannot drag on indefinitely because fundamental a party conforms to the constitutional guarantee of due process of
considerations of public policy and sound practice demand that the law. The operation of this principle was illustrated in Muñoz v.
rights and obligations of every litigant must not hang in suspense for Yabut, Jr.,16 where the Court declared that a person not impleaded
an indefinite period of time.14 and given the opportunity to take part in the proceedings was not
bound by the decision declaring as null and void the title from which
II. his title to the property had been derived. We said there that the
We uphold the CA’s dismissal of the petitioner’s action for effect of a judgment could not be extended to non-parties by simply
annulment of judgment based on the foregoing considerations. issuing an alias  writ of execution against them, for no man should
be prejudiced by any proceeding to which he was a stranger. In the
It is elementary that a judgment of a court is conclusive and binding same manner, a writ of execution could be issued only against a
only upon the parties and those who are their successors in interest party, not against a person who did not have his day in court.17
by title after the commencement of the action in court.15 Section
47(b) of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court  explicitly so provides, to wit: Accordingly, the petitioner’s resort to annulment of judgment under
Rule 47 was unnecessary if, after all, the judgment rendered in Civil
Section 47. Effect of judgments or final orders .—The effect of a Case No. MAN-2838 did not prejudice it.
judgment or final order rendered by a court of the Philippines,
having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or final order, may Moreover, Section 1 of Rule 47 extends the remedy of annulment
be as follows: only to a party in whose favor the remedies of new trial,
reconsideration, appeal, and petition for relief from judgment are
xxxx no longer available through no fault of said party. As such, the
petitioner, being a non-party in Civil Case No. MAN-2838, could not
(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to
bring the action for annulment of judgment due to unavailability to
the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could
it of the remedies of new trial, reconsideration, appeal, or setting
have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the
the judgment aside through a petition for relief.
parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the
commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating for The petitioner probably brought the action for annulment upon its
the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity; honest belief that the action was its remaining recourse from a
xxx. perceived commission of extrinsic fraud against it. It is worthwhile
for the petitioner to ponder, however, that permitting it despite its
being a non-party in Civil Case No. MAN-2838 to avail itself of the proper places, and make the claimant, who has no rights to the
remedy of annulment of judgment would not help it in any immovable, respect and not disturb the one so entitled, but also for
substantial way. Although Rule 47 would initially grant relief to it the benefit of both, so that whoever has the right will see every
from the effects of the annulled judgment, the decision of the CA cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he can thereafter
would not really and finally determine the rights of the petitioner in fearlessly introduce any desired improvements, as well as use, and
the property as against the competing rights of the original parties. even abuse the property.19
To be borne in mind is that the annulment of judgment is an
The other proper remedy the CA suggested was an action for
equitable relief not because a party-litigant thereby gains another
opportunity to reopen the already-final judgment but because a reconveyance of property.1âwphi1 According to Vda. de Recinto v.
Inciong,20 the remedy belongs to the landowner whose property has
party-litigant is enabled to be discharged from the burden of being
bound by a judgment that was an absolute nullity to begin with.18 been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another person’s
name, and such landowner demands the reconveyance of the
We agree with the CA’s suggestion that the petitioner’s proper property in the proper court of justice. If the property has
recourse was either an action for quieting of title or an action for meanwhile passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for
reconveyance of the property. It is timely for the Court to remind value, the landowner may seek damages. In either situation, the
that the petitioner will be better off if it should go to the courts to landowner respects the decree as incontrovertible and no longer
obtain relief through the proper recourse; otherwise, it would waste open to review provided the one-year period from the land coming
its own time and effort, aside from thereby unduly burdening the under the operation of the Torrens System of land registration
dockets of the courts. already passed.

The petitioner may vindicate its rights in the property through an WHEREFORE the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of
action for quieting of title, a common law remedy designed for the Appeals promulgated on June 19, 2001; and DIRECTS the petitioner
removal of any cloud upon, or doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to to pay the costs of suit.
real property. The action for quieting of title may be brought
whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest in SO ORDERED.
real property by reason of any instrument, record, claim,
encumbrance, or proceeding that is apparently valid or effective,
but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or
unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title. In the action, the
competent court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the
plaintiff and the other claimants, not only to put things in their
G.R. No. 173559               January 7, 2013 On March 2, 1991, respondents obtained a loan of ₱45,000.00 from
petitioner payable in six months and secured by a Real Estate
LETICIA DIONA, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact, MARCELINA Mortgage6 over their 202-square meter property located in Marulas,
DIONA, Petitioner, Valenzuela and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. V-
vs. 12296.7 When the debt became due, respondents failed to pay
ROMEO A. BALANGUE, SONNY A. BALANGUE, REYNALDO A. notwithstanding demand. Thus, on September 17, 1999, petitioner
BALANGUE, and ESTEBAN A. BALANGUE, JR., Respondents. filed with the RTC a Complaint8 praying that respondents be
DECISION ordered:

DEL CASTILLO, J.: (a) To pay petitioner the principal obligation of ₱45,000.00, with
interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum, from 02 March 1991
The great of a relief neither sought by the party in whose favor it until the full obligation is paid.
was given not supported by the evidence presented violates the
opposing party’s right to due process and may be declared void ab (b) To pay petitioner actual damages as may be proven during the
initio in a proper proceeding. trial but shall in no case be less than ₱10,000.00; ₱25,000.00 by way
of attorney’s fee, plus ₱2,000.00 per hearing as appearance fee.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 assails the November 24,
2005 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) issued in G.R. SP No. (c) To issue a decree of foreclosure for the sale at public auction of
85541 which granted the Petition for Annulment of Judgment3 filed the aforementioned parcel of land, and for the disposition of the
by the respondents seeking to nullify that portion of the October 17, proceeds thereof in accordance with law, upon failure of the
2000 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 75, respondents to fully pay petitioner within the period set by law the
Valenzuela City awarding petitioner 5% monthly interest rate for the sums set forth in this complaint.
principal amount of the loan respondent obtained from her. (d) Costs of this suit.
This Petition likewise assails the CA’s June 26, 2006 Other reliefs and remedies just and equitable under the premises
Resolution5 denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration. are likewise prayed for.9 (Emphasis supplied)
Factual Antecedents Respondents were served with summons thru respondent Sonny A.
The facts of this case are simple and undisputed. Balangue (Sonny). On October 15, 1999, with the assistance of Atty.
Arthur C. Coroza (Atty. Coroza) of the Public Attorney’s Office, they
filed a Motion to Extend Period to Answer. Despite the requested
extension, however, respondents failed to file any responsive Set Aside Judgment14 dated January 26, 2001, claiming that not all of
pleadings. Thus, upon motion of the petitioner, the RTC declared them were duly served with summons. According to the other
them in default and allowed petitioner to present her evidence ex respondents, they had no knowledge of the case because their co-
parte.10 respondent Sonny did not inform them about it. They prayed that
the RTC’s October 17, 2000 Decision be set aside and a new trial be
Ruling of the RTC sought to be annulled. conducted.
In a Decision11 dated October 17, 2000, the RTC granted petitioner’s But on March 16, 2001, the RTC ordered15 the issuance of a Writ of
Complaint. The dispositive portion of said Decision reads: Execution to implement its October 17, 2000 Decision. However,
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the since the writ could not be satisfied, petitioner moved for the public
petitioner, ordering the respondents to pay the petitioner as auction of the mortgaged property,16 which the RTC granted.17 In an
follows: auction sale conducted on November 7, 2001, petitioner was the
only bidder in the amount of ₱420,000.00. Thus, a Certificate of
a) the sum of FORTY FIVE THOUSAND (₱45,000.00) PESOS, Sale18 was issued in her favor and accordingly annotated at the back
representing the unpaid principal loan obligation plus interest at 5% of TCT No. V-12296.
per month [sic] reckoned from March 2, 1991, until the same is fully
paid; Respondents then filed a Motion to Correct/Amend Judgment and
To Set Aside Execution Sale19 dated December 17, 2001, claiming
b) ₱20,000.00 as attorney’s fees plus cost of suit; that the parties did not agree in writing on any rate of interest and
that petitioner merely sought for a 12% per annum interest in her
c) in the event the [respondents] fail to satisfy the aforesaid
Complaint. Surprisingly, the RTC awarded 5% monthly interest (or
obligation, an order of foreclosure shall be issued accordingly for
60% per annum) from March 2, 1991 until full payment. Resultantly,
the sale at public auction of the subject property covered by
their indebtedness inclusive of the exorbitant interest from March
Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-12296 and the improvements
2, 1991 to May 22, 2001 ballooned from ₱124,400.00 to
thereon for the satisfaction of the petitioner’s claim.
SO ORDERED.12 (Emphasis supplied)
In an Order20 dated May 7, 2002, the RTC granted respondents’
Subsequently, petitioner filed a Motion for Execution,13 alleging that motion and accordingly modified the interest rate awarded from 5%
respondents did not interpose a timely appeal despite receipt by monthly to 12% per annum. Then on August 2, 2002, respondents
their former counsel of the RTC’s Decision on November 13, 2000. filed a Motion for Leave To Deposit/Consign Judgment
Before it could be resolved, however, respondents filed a Motion to Obligation21 in the total amount of ₱126,650.00.22
Displeased with the RTC’s May 7, 2002 Order, petitioner elevated with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of
the matter to the CA via a Petition for Certiorari23 under Rule 65 of jurisdiction. No costs.
the Rules of Court. On August 5, 2003, the CA rendered a
SO ORDERED.25 (Emphases in the original; italics supplied.)
Decision24 declaring that the RTC exceeded its jurisdiction in
awarding the 5% monthly interest but at the same time Proceedings before the Court of Appeals
pronouncing that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in
subsequently reducing the rate of interest to 12% per annum. In so Taking their cue from the Decision of the CA in the special civil
ruling, the CA ratiocinated: action for certiorari, respondents filed with the same court a
Petition for Annulment of Judgment and Execution Sale with
Indeed, We are convinced that the Trial Court exceeded its Damages.26 They contended that the portion of the RTC Decision
jurisdiction when it granted 5% monthly interest instead of the 12% granting petitioner 5% monthly interest rate is in gross violation of
per annum prayed for in the complaint. However, the proper Section 3(d) of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court and of their right to due
remedy is not to amend the judgment but to declare that portion as process. According to respondents, the loan did not carry any
a nullity. Void judgment for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at interest as it was the verbal agreement of the parties that in lieu
all. It cannot be the source of any right nor the creator of any thereof petitioner’s family can continue occupying respondents’
obligation (Leonor vs. CA, 256 SCRA 69). No legal rights can emanate residential building located in Marulas, Valenzuela for free until said
from a resolution that is null and void (Fortich vs. Corona, 312 SCRA loan is fully paid.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
From the foregoing, the remedy of the respondents is to have the
Court declare the portion of the judgment providing for a higher Initially, the CA denied due course to the Petition.27 Upon
interest than that prayed for as null and void for want of or in respondents’ motion, however, it reinstated and granted the
excess of jurisdiction. A void judgment never acquire[s] finality and Petition. In setting aside portions of the RTC’s October 17, 2000
any action to declare its nullity does not prescribe (Heirs of Mayor Decision, the CA ruled that aside from being unconscionably
Nemencio Galvez vs. CA, 255 SCRA 672). excessive, the monthly interest rate of 5% was not agreed upon by
the parties and that petitioner’s Complaint clearly sought only the
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Petition having legal rate of 12% per annum. Following the mandate of Section 3(d)
merit, is hereby GIVEN DUE COURSE. Resultantly, the challenged of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, the CA concluded that the awarded
May 7, 2002 and September 5, 2000 orders of Public Respondent rate of interest is void for being in excess of the relief sought in the
Court are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE for having been issued Complaint. It ruled thus:
and our resolution dated October 13, 2004 is, accordingly, VALENZUELA, BRANCH 75 DATED OCTOBER 17, 2000 IN CIVIL CASE
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In lieu thereof, another is entered NO. 241-V-99, DESPITE THE FACT THAT SAID DECISION HAS BECOME
(a) public respondent’s impugned October 17, 2000 judgment,
insofar as it awarded 5% monthly interest in favor of petitioner; and Petitioner’s Arguments

(b) all proceedings relative to the sale at public auction of the Petitioner claims that the CA erred in partially annulling the RTC’s
property titled in respondents’ names under Transfer Certificate of October 17, 2000 Decision. She contends that a Petition for
Title No. V-12296 of the Valenzuela registry. Annulment of Judgment may be availed of only when the ordinary
remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other
The judgment debt adjudicated in public respondent’s impugned appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the
October 17, 2000 judgment is, likewise, ordered RECOMPUTED at claimant. In the present case, however, respondents had all the
the rate of 12% per annum from March 2, 1991. No costs. opportunity to question the October 17, 2000 Decision of the RTC,
SO ORDERED.28 (Emphases in the original.) but because of their own inaction or negligence they failed to avail
of the remedies sanctioned by the rules. Instead, they contented
Petitioner sought reconsideration, which was denied by the CA in its themselves with the filing of a Motion to Set Aside Judgment and
June 26, 2006 Resolution.29 then a Motion to Correct/Amend Judgment and to Set Aside
Execution Sale.
Petitioner likewise argues that for a Rule 47 petition to prosper, the
Hence, this Petition anchored on the following grounds:
same must either be based on extrinsic fraud or lack of jurisdiction.
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE AND However, the allegations in respondents’ Rule 47 petition do not
SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT GRANTED RESPONDENTS’ constitute extrinsic fraud because they simply pass the blame to the
PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT AS A SUBSTITUTE OR negligence of their former counsel. In addition, it is too late for
ALTERNATIVE REMEDY OF A LOST APPEAL. respondents to pass the buck to their erstwhile counsel considering
that when they filed their Motion to Correct/Amend Judgment and
II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE AND To Set Aside Execution Sale they were already assisted by their new
SERIOUS ERROR AND MISAPPREHENSION OF LAW AND THE FACTS lawyer, Atty. Reynaldo A. Ruiz, who did not also avail of the
WHEN IT GRANTED RESPONDENTS’ PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF remedies of new trial, appeal, etc. As to the ground of lack of
jurisdiction, petitioner posits that there is no reason to doubt that Period to Answer, Atty. Coroza did not file any pleading resulting to
the RTC had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case and their being declared in default. While the said lawyer filed on their
over the persons of the respondents. behalf a Motion to Set Aside Judgment dated January 26, 2001, he
however took no steps to appeal from the Decision of the RTC,
While conceding that the RTC patently made a mistake in awarding thereby allowing said judgment to lapse into finality. Citing Legarda
5% monthly interest, petitioner nonetheless invokes the doctrine of v. Court of Appeals,31 respondents aver that clients are not always
immutability of final judgment and contends that the RTC Decision bound by the actions of their counsel, as in the present case where
can no longer be corrected or modified since it had long become the clients are to lose their property due to the gross negligence of
final and executory. She likewise points out that respondents their counsel.
received a copy of said Decision on November 13, 2000 but did
nothing to correct the same. They did not even question the award With regard to petitioner’s invocation of immutability of judgment,
of 5% monthly interest when they filed their Motion to Set Aside respondents argue that said doctrine applies only to valid and not to
Judgment which they anchored on the sole ground of the RTC’s lack void judgments.
of jurisdiction over the persons of some of the respondents.
Our Ruling
Respondents’ Arguments
The petition must fail.
Respondents do not contest the existence of their obligation and
We agree with respondents that the award of 5% monthly interest
the principal amount thereof. They only seek quittance from the 5%
monthly interest or 60% per annum imposed by the RTC. violated their right to due process and, hence, the same may be set
aside in a Petition for Annulment of Judgment filed under Rule 47 of
Respondents contend that Section (3)d of Rule 9 of the Rules of
Court is clear that when the defendant is declared in default, the the Rules of Court.
court cannot grant a relief more than what is being prayed for in the Annulment of judgment under Rule 47; an exception to the final
Complaint. A judgment which transgresses said rule, according to judgment rule; grounds therefor.
the respondents, is void for having been issued without jurisdiction
and for being violative of due process of law. A Petition for Annulment of Judgment under Rule 47 of the Rules of
Court is a remedy granted only under exceptional circumstances
Respondents maintain that it was through no fault of their own, but where a party, without fault on his part, has failed to avail of the
through the gross negligence of their former counsel, Atty. Coroza, ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other
that the remedies of new trial, appeal or petition for relief from appropriate remedies. Said rule explicitly provides that it is not
judgment were lost. They allege that after filing a Motion to Extend available as a substitute for a remedy which was lost due to the
party’s own neglect in promptly availing of the same. "The pleadings, absent notice which affords the opposing party an
underlying reason is traceable to the notion that annulling final opportunity to be heard with respect to the proposed relief. The
judgments goes against the grain of finality of judgment. Litigation fundamental purpose of the requirement that allegations of a
must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is complaint must provide the measure of recovery is to prevent
essential to an effective administration of justice that once a surprise to the defendant.
judgment has become final, the issue or cause involved therein
should be laid to rest."32 Notably, the Rules is even more strict in safeguarding the right to
due process of a defendant who was declared in default than of a
While under Section 2, Rule 4733 of the Rules of Court a Petition for defendant who participated in trial. For instance, amendment to
Annulment of Judgment may be based only on the grounds of conform to the evidence presented during trial is allowed the
extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, jurisprudence recognizes lack parties under the Rules.37 But the same is not feasible when the
of due process as additional ground to annul a judgment.34 In defendant is declared in default because Section 3(d), Rule 9 of the
Arcelona v. Court of Appeals,35 this Court declared that a final and Rules of Court comes into play and limits the relief that may be
executory judgment may still be set aside if, upon mere inspection granted by the courts to what has been prayed for in the Complaint.
thereof, its patent nullity can be shown for having been issued It provides:
without jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law.
(d) Extent of relief to be awarded. – A judgment rendered against a
Grant of 5% monthly interest is way beyond the 12% per annum party in default shall not exceed the amount or be different in kind
interest sought in the Complaint and smacks of violation of due from that prayed for nor award unliquidated damages.
The raison d’être in limiting the extent of relief that may be granted
It is settled that courts cannot grant a relief not prayed for in the is that it cannot be presumed that the defendant would not file an
pleadings or in excess of what is being sought by the party. They Answer and allow himself to be declared in default had he known
cannot also grant a relief without first ascertaining the evidence that the plaintiff will be accorded a relief greater than or different in
presented in support thereof. Due process considerations require kind from that sought in the Complaint.38 No doubt, the reason
that judgments must conform to and be supported by the pleadings behind Section 3(d), Rule 9 of the Rules of Court is to safeguard
and evidence presented in court. In Development Bank of the defendant’s right to due process against unforeseen and arbitrarily
Philippines v. Teston,36 this Court expounded that: issued judgment. This, to the mind of this Court, is akin to the very
essence of due process. It embodies "the sporting idea of fair
Due process considerations justify this requirement. It is improper play"39 and forbids the grant of relief on matters where the
to enter an order which exceeds the scope of relief sought by the defendant was not given the opportunity to be heard thereon.
In the case at bench, the award of 5% monthly interest rate is not In the case of Ruiz v. Court of Appeals, citing the cases of Medel v.
supported both by the allegations in the pleadings and the evidence Court of Appeals, Garcia v. Court of Appeals, Spouses Bautista v.
on record. The Real Estate Mortgage40 executed by the parties does Pilar Development Corporation and the recent case of Spouses
not include any provision on interest. When petitioner filed her Solangon v. Salazar, this Court considered the 3% interest per
Complaint before the RTC, she alleged that respondents borrowed month or 36% interest per annum as excessive and unconscionable.
from her "the sum of FORTY-FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (₱45,000.00), Thereby, the Court, in the said case, equitably reduced the rate of
with interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum"41 and sought interest to 1% interest per month or 12% interest per annum.
payment thereof. She did not allege or pray for the disputed 5% (Citations omitted)
monthly interest. Neither did she present evidence nor testified
It is understandable for the respondents not to contest the default
thereon. Clearly, the RTC’s award of 5% monthly interest or 60% per
annum lacks basis and disregards due process. It violated the due order for, as alleged in their Comment, "it is not their intention to
impugn or run away from their just and valid
process requirement because respondents were not informed of
the possibility that the RTC may award 5% monthly interest. They obligation."45 Nonetheless, their waiver to present evidence should
never be construed as waiver to contest patently erroneous award
were deprived of reasonable opportunity to refute and present
controverting evidence as they were made to believe that the which already transgresses their right to due process, as well as
applicable jurisprudence.
complainant petitioner was seeking for what she merely stated in
her Complaint. Respondents’ former counsel was grossly negligent in handling the
case of his clients; respondents did not lose ordinary remedies of
Neither can the grant of the 5% monthly interest be considered
subsumed by petitioner’s general prayer for "other reliefs and new trial, petition for relief, etc. through their own fault.
remedies just and equitable under the premises x x x."42 To repeat, Ordinarily, the mistake, negligence or lack of competence of counsel
the court’s grant of relief is limited only to what has been prayed for binds the client.1âwphi1 This is based on the rule that any act
in the Complaint or related thereto, supported by evidence, and performed by a counsel within the scope of his general or implied
covered by the party’s cause of action.43 Besides, even assuming authority is regarded as an act of his client. A recognized exception
that the awarded 5% monthly or 60% per annum interest was to the rule is when the lawyers were grossly negligent in their duty
properly alleged and proven during trial, the same remains to maintain their client’s cause and such amounted to a deprivation
unconscionably excessive and ought to be equitably reduced in of their client’s property without due process of law.46 In which
accordance with applicable jurisprudence. In Bulos, Jr. v. case, the courts must step in and accord relief to a client who
Yasuma,44 this Court held: suffered thereby.47
The manifest indifference of respondents’ former counsel in "A lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his client, warmth
handling the cause of his client was already present even from the and zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights and the
beginning. It should be recalled that after filing in behalf of his exertion of his utmost learning and ability, to the end that nothing
clients a Motion to Extend Period to Answer, said counsel allowed can be taken or withheld from his client except in accordance with
the requested extension to pass without filing an Answer, which the law."51 Judging from how respondents’ former counsel handled
resulted to respondents being declared in default. His negligence the cause of his clients, there is no doubt that he was grossly
was aggravated by the fact that he did not question the awarded 5% negligent in protecting their rights, to the extent that they were
monthly interest despite receipt of the RTC Decision on November deprived of their property without due process of law.
13, 2000.48 A simple reading of the dispositive portion of the RTC
In fine, respondents did not lose the remedies of new trial, appeal,
Decision readily reveals that it awarded exorbitant and
unconscionable rate of interest. Its difference from what is being petition for relief and other remedies through their own fault. It can
only be attributed to the gross negligence of their erstwhile counsel
prayed for by the petitioner in her Complaint is so blatant and very
patent. It also defies elementary jurisprudence on legal rate of which prevented them from pursuing such remedies. We cannot
also blame respondents for relying too much on their former
interests. Had the counsel carefully read the judgment it would have
caught his attention and compelled him to take the necessary steps counsel. Clients have reasonable expectations that their lawyer
would amply protect their interest during the trial of the
to protect the interest of his client. But he did not. Instead, he filed
in behalf of his clients a Motion to Set Aside Judgment49 dated case.52 Here,
January 26, 2001 based on the sole ground of lack of jurisdiction, "respondents are plain and ordinary people x x x who are totally
oblivious to the fact that the erroneous award of 5% monthly ignorant of the intricacies and technicalities of law and legal
interest would result to his clients’ deprivation of property without procedures. Being so, they completely relied upon and trusted their
due process of law. Worse, he even allowed the RTC Decision to former counsel to appropriately act as their interest may lawfully
become final by not perfecting an appeal. Neither did he file a warrant and require."53
petition for relief therefrom. It was only a year later that the
patently erroneous award of 5% monthly interest was brought to As a final word, it is worth noting that respondents’ principal
the attention of the RTC when respondents, thru their new counsel, obligation was only ₱45,000.00. Due to their former counsel’s gross
filed a Motion to Correct/Amend Judgment and To Set Aside negligence in handling their cause, coupled with the RTC’s
Execution Sale. Even the RTC candidly admitted that it "made a erroneous, baseless, and illegal award of 5% monthly interest, they
glaring mistake in directing the defendants to pay interest on the now stand to lose their property and still owe petitioner a large
principal loan at 5% per month which is very different from what amount of money. As aptly observed by the CA:
was prayed for by the plaintiff."50
x x x If the impugned judgment is not, therefore, rightfully nullified, Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the
petitioners will not only end up losing their property but will Decision 1 of the Eleventh Division of the Court of Appeals dated
additionally owe private respondent the sum of ₱232,000.00 plus June 14, 1996 dismissing petitioner's prayer for annulment of the
the legal interest said balance had, in the meantime, earned. As a judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Makati Branch 149 in Civil
court of justice and equity, we cannot, in good conscience, allow Case No. 18843 entitled "Unibancard Corporation vs. Tingson and
this unconscionable situation to prevail.54 Ang Ping." Likewise under review is the Court of Appeals'
Resolution 2 dated September 16, 1996 denying the petitioner's
Indeed, this Court is appalled by petitioner’s invocation of the motion for reconsideration.
doctrine of immutability of judgment. Petitioner does not contest as
she even admits that the RTC made a glaring mistake in awarding The antecedent facts are as follows:
5% monthly interest.55 Amazingly, she wants to benefit from such
erroneous award. This Court cannot allow this injustice to happen. In April 1987, Juan Tingson applied for and was issued a Unicard
credit card by respondent Corporation with petitioner Harry Ang
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Ping as co-obligor. As part of the terms and conditions governing
November 24, 2005 and June 26, 2006 Resolution of the Court of the issuance and use of the credit card, Tingson and Ang Ping
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 85541 are AFFIRMED. agreed to jointly and severally pay Unibancard all purchases and
charges made through the said credit card within twenty (20) days
SO ORDERED. from receipt of the monthly statement without necessity of
demand. Tingson and Ang Ping likewise bound themselves to pay
interest and penalty fees on any unpaid balance and attorney's fees
G.R. No. 126947 July 15, 1999 in case of suit.

HARRY ANG PING, petitioner, Tingson defaulted on his monthly charges which amounted to
vs. P49,988.42 as of December 5, 1987 and despite repeated demands,
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, RTC-MAKATI, BRANCH 149 failed or refused to settle his accounts with respondent Corporation
and UNIBANCARD CORPORATION., respondents. prompting the latter to file a collection suit with the Regional Trial
Court of Makati.
The summonses for both Tingson and Ang Ping were allegedly
served on February 15, 1988 at 189 I. Lopez St., Mandaluyong Metro
Manila and 34 Coolidge St., Greenhills West, San Juan, Metro
Manila, respectively. In both cases, the person who received the personal properties found inside Harrod's Haberdashery at SM
summons was a certain Jonas Umali.1âwphi1.nêt Megamall, the Certificate of Business Name of which was issued to
herein petitioner. During the enforcement of the writ on September
On May 12, 1988, a certain Atty. Benito Salazar filed an answer 15, 1994, Ang Ping tried to stop the sheriff from carrying away
purportedly on behalf of defendants Tingson and Ang Ping, denying personalty from the establishment and a scuffle between them
the substantial averments in the complaint and alleging inter ensued. The records show that the petitioner grabbed the sheriff by
alia that the unpaid charges were much less than P49,988.42 and the neck while pulling him to the door, causing injury to the latter.
that no proper demand was made on the defendants. At the pre-
trial, on the other hand, a certain Atty. Lauro Sandoval represented On October 27, 1994, Ang Ping filed with the Court of Appeals a
Tingson and herein petitioner. Later, during trial, defendants' petition 4 to annul the judgment of the trial court which was the
counsel did not present any evidence on their behalf; hence, the basis of the various writs of execution issued against him. He alleged
trial court deemed that the defendants had waived their right to that the judgment in question was rendered without due process of
present evidence and submitted the case for decision on the basis law as he was not given his day in court. Petitioner argued that since
solely of the respondent Corporation's evidence. there was no valid service of summons upon him and he never
appeared before the court by himself or by counsel, the trial court
The trial court rendered judgment on June 11, 1990, holding never acquired jurisdiction over his person, thus, the judgment
Tingson and Ang Ping jointly and severally liable for "the sum of cannot be enforced against him.
P35,233.62 plus 3% interest and 5% penalty charge from August 3,
1987 until the entire amount is fully paid" plus 25% attorney's fees. 3 The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition after finding that
petitioner Ang Ping was properly placed under the jurisdiction of the
A writ of execution was subsequently issued and the same was trial court which rendered the assailed judgment. First, the
enforced on May 3, 1993 at Ang Ping's Greenhills address where appellate court said, the petitioner was duly represented by counsel
Ruth Ang Ping, petitioner's sister, informed the sheriff that who, aside from filing a responsive pleading, had religiously
petitioner was no longer residing at the said address. The writ was appeared for him and his co-defendant before the lower court and
later returned unsatisfied since a third party claim over the petitioner's claim that said counsel was not duly authorized by him
properties attached was filed and successfully proven. Thereafter, was never satisfactorily substantiated. Second, respondent Court
on November 5, 1993 and on motion of respondent Corporation, noted that there was a valid service of summons on petitioner Ang
an alias writ of execution was issued and a notice of garnishment Ping because the copy of the summons addressed to him was signed
was served on San Lorenzo Bus Service Co. covering shares believed by a certain Jonas Umali. The Court of Appeals likewise pointed out
to be owned by Ang Ping. Another alias writ of execution was issued that the delay in filing the petition to nullify the judgment of the
on August 29, 1994 by virtue of which, the sheriff levied on certain lower court buttressed private respondent's contention that the
same was just a ploy resorted to by petitioner to stymie the out by the petitioner, however, there was no explanation in the
enforcement of the alias writ of execution issued against him. proof of service justifying the resort to substituted service. In fact,
the records are bereft of any showing that a proof of service was
Hence, this petition. even filed after such substituted service.
Petitioner insists that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over Well settled is the rule that summons must be served upon the
his person since he was never validly served with summons and defendant himself. It is only when the defendant cannot be served
neither did he appear in court. In particular, he assails the personally within a reasonable time that substituted service may be
substituted service resorted to by the process server on the ground resorted to and such impossibility of prompt service should be
that he never actually received the summons. He pointed to the shown by stating that efforts have been made to find the defendant
irregularities in the conduct of the substituted service of summons personally and that such efforts have failed. This is necessary
such as: the fact that the same person, a certain Jonas Umali, because substituted service is in derogation of the usual method of
received the summonses for both Tingson and petitioner Ang Ping service. It is a method extraordinary in character and hence may be
on the same date at different addresses and the failure of the used only as prescribed and in the circumstances authorized by
process server to file the proof of service together with the return statute. The statutory requirements of substituted service must be
thus dispensing with the explanation as to why substituted service followed strictly, faithfully and fully, and any substituted service
was resorted to. He further claims that he never authorized the other than that authorized by statute is considered ineffective. 6
lawyers who filed an answer and appeared in court purportedly in
his behalf. It should be emphasized that the service of summons is not only
required to give the court jurisdiction over the person of the
In its comment, private respondent Corporation, on the other hand, defendant, but also to afford the latter an opportunity to be heard
prayed for the dismissal of the present petition reiterating that the on the claim made against him. 7 Thus, compliance with the rules
trial court properly acquired jurisdiction over the person of regarding the service of summons is as much an issue of due
petitioner Ang Ping. process as of jurisdiction.
Jursidiction over the person of the defendant in civil cases is Moreover, as likewise pointed out by the petitioner, the
acquired either by his voluntary appearance in court and his presumption of regularity in the performance of public functions
submission to its authority or by service of summons. 5 In this case, finds no application in the case at bar. Surely, there must be, at the
the records show that the summons addressed to petitioner Ang very least, compliance with the procedure outlined in Sections 6 and
Ping was delivered by substituted service, with a certain Jonas Umali 20 of Rule 14 of the rules of civil procedure then applicable (now
signing as the one who received the summons. As correctly pointed Sections 4 and 18, Rule 14 of the new rules), to wit:
Sec. 6. Return — When the service has been completed, the server proceedings of the trial court. Second, no document vesting
shall give notice thereof, by registered mail, to plaintiff or his authority in the lawyer who purportedly represented him appears
counsel, and shall return the summons to the clerk who issued it, on record. At the pre-trial, for instance, Atty. Sandoval who claimed
accompanied with the proof of service. to be the counsel for the defendants did not present any special
power of attorney executed by the petitioner herein. The rules
Sec. 20. Proof of Service — The proof of service of summons shall be require that the party-litigant himself must appear for pre-trial but if
made in writing by the server and shall set forth the manner, place, he chooses to be represented thereat, he should grant a special
and date of service; shall specify any papers which have been served power of attorney to his counsel or representative. Thus, Section 4
with the process and the name of the person who received the of Rule 18 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure requires:
same; and shall be sworn to when made by a person other than a
sheriff or his deputy. Sec. 4. Appearance of parties — It shall be the duty of the parties
and their counsel to appear at the pre-trial. The non-appearance of
A cursory examination of the records shows that the process server a party may be excused only if a valid cause is shown therefor or if a
did not file any proof of service in Civil Case No. 18843. In this case, representative shall appear in his behalf fully authorized in writing
since substituted service was resorted to, there should have been a to enter into an amicable settlement, to submit to alternative
report indicating that the person who received the summons in Ang modes of dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or
Ping's behalf was one with whom petitioner had a relation of admissions of facts and of documents.
confidence that would ensure that the latter will receive or be
notified of the summons issued in his name. Certainly, it was never Although the proceedings in the trial court were conducted under
intended that the presumption of regularity in the performance of the old rules of civil procedure, the same procedural requirement
official duty will be applied even in cases where there is no showing applies to the case at bar since well settled is the rule that remedial
of substantial compliance with the requirements of the rules of rules have retroactive application. In any case, the aforecited new
procedure. This is all the more so in the present case where the rule is merely a crystallization of a procedure long established by
duty to be performed has a direct bearing on the acquisition of jurisprudence and practice.1âwphi1.nêt
jurisdiction of the trial court over the person of the defendant.
With respect to the appellate court's holding that because of
As regards the alleged appearance of a lawyer in behalf of the petitioner's delay in filing the petition for annulment of judgment,
petitioner during the proceedings in the trial court, the same cannot he is deemed to have forfeited his opportunity to present his side, it
be considered as the voluntary appearance contemplated by the is enough to say that where the ground invoked as basis for
rules. In the first place, the records are bereft of any showing that annulment of judgment is lack of jurisdiction, the petition may be
petitioner Ang Ping personally appeared at any stage in the the filed anytime before it is barred by estoppel or laches, 8 neither of
which obtains in the present case. As held by this Court before, it is
the better rule that courts, under the principle of equity, will not be
guided or bound strictly by the statute of limitations or the doctrine
of laches when to do so, manifest wrong or injustice would result. 9

All told, the judgment sought to be executed against Ang Ping was
indeed rendered without jurisdiction as he was not properly served
with summons and neither did he voluntarily submit himself to the
authority of the trial court. The essence of due process is to be
found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any
evidence one may have in support of his defense. 10 It is elementary
that before a person can be deprived of his property, he should first
be informed of the claim against him and the theory on which such
claim is premised. 11 Not having been duly accorded his day in court,
petitioner cannot thus be bound by the judgment in the collection

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED and the

decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED. Accordingly, the
decision of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 18843 is SET
ASIDE as to herein petitioner Ang Ping. No costs.