March 2009 Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected March 2009 decisions of the Supreme Court on remedial law:

Appeal;  failure to file brief.  In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court has held that the authority of the Court of Appeals to dismiss an appeal for failure to file the appellant’s brief is a matter of judicial discretion. Thus, a dismissal based on this ground is neither mandatory nor ministerial; the fundamentals of justice and fairness must be observed, bearing in mind the background and web of circumstances surrounding the case.  In the present case, the petitioner blames its former handling lawyer for failing to file the appellant’s brief on time. This lawyer was allegedly transferring to another law office at the time the appellant’s brief was due to be filed. In his excitement to transfer to his new firm, he forgot about the appeal and the scheduled deadline; he likewise forgot his responsibility to endorse the case to another lawyer in the law office.  Under the circumstances of this case, the Supreme Court held the failure to file the appeal brief inexcusable.  Bachrach Corporation vs. Philippine Ports Authority, G.R. 159915, March 12, 2009.

Appeal; failure to file brief.  Technically, the Court of Appeals may dismiss an appeal for failure of the appellant to file the appellants’ brief on time. However, the dismissal is directory, not mandatory. Hence, the court has discretion to dismiss or not to dismiss the appeal. It is a power conferred on the court, not a duty. The discretion, however, must be a sound one, to be exercised in accordance with the tenets of justice and fair play, having in mind the circumstances obtaining in each case . . . The circulars of this Court prescribing technical and other procedural requirements are meant to promptly dispose of unmeritorious petitions that clog the docket and waste the time of the courts. These technical and procedural rules, however, are intended to ensure, not suppress, substantial justice. A deviation from their rigid enforcement may thus be allowed to attain their prime objective for, after all, the dispensation of justice is the core reason for the existence of courts. Thus, in a considerable number of cases, the Court has deemed it fit to suspend its own rules or to exempt a particular case from its strict operation where the appellant failed to perfect his appeal within the reglementary period, resulting in the appellate court’s failure to obtain jurisdiction over the case. With more reason, there should be wider latitude in exempting a case from the strictures of procedural rules when the appellate court has already obtained jurisdiction over the appealed case and, as in this case, petitioners failed to file the appellants’ brief on time.  Felimon Bigornia, et al. vs. CA, et al., G.R. No. 173017, March 17, 2009.

Appeal; late payment of docket fees. The Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing the appeal for late payment of docket fees. Erlinda K. Ilusorio Vs. Sylvia Ilusorio-YapG.R. No. 171656,  March 17, 2009.

Certificate of Non-Forum Shopping;  certification proceeding.   The requirement for a certificate of non-forum shopping refers to complaints, counter-claims, cross-claims, petitions or applications where contending parties litigate their respective positions regarding the claim for relief of the complainant, claimant, petitioner or applicant. A certification proceeding, even though initiated by a “petition,” is not a litigation but an investigation of a non-adversarial and fact-finding character.  Samahan ng mga Mangagawa sa Samma-Lakas etc. vs. Samma Corporation,  G.R. No. 167141,  March 13, 2009.

Certiorari;  material dates.  There are three (3) essential dates that must be stated in a petition for certiorari brought under Rule 65. First, the date when notice of the judgment or final order or Resolution was received; second, when a motion for new trial or reconsideration was filed; and third, when notice of the denial thereof was received.  In this case, petitioner failed to indicate all the three material dates, namely, the date of receipt of the June 18, 2007 Order, the date of filing of the motion for reconsideration, as well as the date of receipt of the denial thereof, which is the reckoning date of the 60-day period. Moreover, the certified true copies of the assailed orders were not attached to the petition. Thus, the petition must be dismissed. Macapanton B. Batugan vs. Hon. Rasad G. Balindong, et al., G.R. No. 181384, March 13, 2009

Certiorari;  motion for reconsideration.  As a general rule, a petition for certiorari before a higher court will not prosper unless the inferior court has been given, through a motion for reconsideration, a chance to correct the errors imputed to it. This rule, though, has certain exceptions, namely: (1) when the issue raised is purely of law; (2) when public interest is involved; or (3) in case of urgency. As a fourth exception, the Court has ruled that the filing of a motion for reconsideration before availment of the remedy of certiorari is not a sine qua non, when the questions raised are the same as those that have already been squarely argued and exhaustively passed upon by the lower court.  JP Latex Technology, Inc., et al.  vs. Hon. Romeo C. de Leon, et al., G.R. No. 177121,  March 16, 2009

Evidence;  offer of testimony.  The failure of the prosecution to offer the testimony of key witnesses to establish a sufficiently complete chain of custody of a specimen of shabu, and the irregularity which characterized the handling of the evidence before the same was finally offered in court, fatally conflict with every proposition relative to the culpability of the accused. It is this same reason that now moves us to reverse the judgment of conviction in the present case.  Ronald Carino and Rosana Andes vs. People of the PhilippinesG.R. No. 178757,  March 13, 2009

Evidence;  testimony.  Well settled is the rule that the testimony of a single, trustworthy and credible witness is sufficient for conviction. Likewise, the prosecution has the exclusive prerogative to determine whom to present as witnesses. It need not present each and every witness but only such as may be needed to meet the quantum of proof necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The testimonies of the other witnesses may, therefore, be dispensed with if they are merely corroborative in nature. We have ruled that the non-presentation of corroborative witnesses does not constitute suppression of evidence and is not fatal to the prosecution’s case.  People of the Philippines vs. Rodolfo “Rudy” SorianoG.R. No. 171085,  March 17, 2009

Evidence;  conspiracy.  Jurisprudence teaches us that “proof of the agreement need not rest on direct evidence, as the agreement itself may be inferred from the conduct of the parties disclosing a common understanding among them with respect to the commission of the offense. It is not necessary to show that two or more persons met together and entered into an explicit agreement setting out the details of an unlawful scheme or the details by which an illegal objective is to be carried out.” Therefore, if it is proved that two or more persons aimed their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiment, then a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to concert means is proved. Conspiracy was thus properly appreciated by the Sandiganbayan because even though there was no direct proof that petitioners agreed to cause injury to the government and give unwarranted benefits to Amago Construction, their individual acts when taken together as a whole showed that they were acting in concert and cooperating to achieve the same unlawful objective. The barangay officials’ award of the contract to Amago Construction without the benefit of specific plans and specifications, the preparation of work programs only after the constructions had been completed, the issuance and encashment of checks in favor of Amago Construction even before any request to obligate the appropriation or to issue a disbursement voucher was made, and the subsequent inspection and issuance of certificates of completion by petitioner employees despite the absence of material documents were all geared towards one purpose-to cause undue injury to the government and unduly favor Amago Construction.  Felix T. Ripalda, et al. vs. People of the Philippines / Narcia A. Grefiel vs. The Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al. / Cesar P. Guy vs. the People of the PhilippinesG.R. No. 166880-82,  March 20, 2009.

Execution pending appeal.  Discretionary execution is allowed only when the period to appeal has commenced but before the trial court loses jurisdiction over the case. The period to appeal where a motion for reconsideration has been filed commences only upon the receipt of a copy of the order disposing of the motion for reconsideration. The pendency of a motion for reconsideration, therefore, prevents the running of the period to appeal. In the absence of an appeal from the decision, as the motion for reconsideration is still unresolved, the execution ordered by the RTC cannot be properly considered as execution pending appeal.  JP Latex Technology, Inc., et al. vs. Hon. Romeo C. de Leon, et al., G.R. No. 177121,  March 16, 2009

Execution  pending appeal.  Well-settled is the rule that there can be no execution until and unless the judgment has become final and executory, i.e. the period of appeal has lapsed without an appeal having been taken, or, having been taken, the appeal has been resolved and the records of the case have been returned to the court of origin, in which event, execution shall issue as a matter of right. In short, once a judgment becomes final, the winning party is entitled to a writ of execution and the issuance thereof becomes a court’s ministerial duty.

Furthermore, as a matter of settled legal principle, a writ of execution must adhere to every essential particulars of the judgment sought to be executed. An order of execution may not vary or go beyond the terns of the judgment it seeks to enforce. A writ of execution must conform to the judgment and if it is different from, goes beyond or varies the tenor of the judgment which gives it life, it is a nullity. Otherwise stated, when the order of execution and the corresponding writ issued pursuant thereto is not in harmony with and exceeds the judgment which gives it life, they have pro tanto no validity – to maintain otherwise would be to ignore the constitutional provision against depriving a person of his property without due process of law.  Simeon Cabang, et al. vs. Mr. & Mrs. Guillermo BasayG.R. No. 180587,  March 20, 2009.

Final decision.  The DARAB decision in DARAB Case No. 4389 had long become final and executory, hence, immutable and unalterable. It may thus no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law. Excepted from this rule is when the modification involves correction of 1) clerical errors, 2) nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, and 3) void judgments. None of these exceptions is present in the case at bar, however.  Julio Mercado vs. Edmundo Mercado, G.R. No. 178672.  March 19, 2009; see also Simeon Cabang, et al. vs. Mr. & Mrs. Guillermo BasayG.R. No. 180587.  March 20, 2009.

Final decision.  Basic is the rule that when a party to an original action fails to question an adverse judgment or decision by not filing the proper remedy within the period prescribed by law, he loses the right to do so, and the judgment or decision, as to him, becomes final and binding.  In this case, the petitioners are among the several respondents in the cases decided by the DOLE-NCR and later on appealed to and upheld by the BLR. Notably, however, s pointed out by Oredina, petitioners did not take any further action after the BLR issued its Resolution denying their motion for reconsideration. When Peñas challenged the BLR Resolutions by filing a petition for certiorari with the CA, petitioners did not join him. Such was a serious procedural lapse that tolled the finality of the BLR Resolutions as against them, thus, warranting the dismissal of the instant petition.  As admitted by petitioners, their counsel received the copy of the BLR Resolution[15] dated August 24, 2000 denying their Motion for Reconsideration on 31 August 2000. Petitioners, therefore, had sixty (60) days, or until 30 October 2000, to file a petition under Rule 65 before the CA, This, petitioners failed to do.

For failing to file a petition for certiorari with the CA, petitioners are deemed to have acquiesced to the adverse BLR judgment. There is, therefore, no cogent reason why petitioners should be allowed to come before this Court to assail the decision rendered by the CA when they were never parties to the said action.  Dolly A. Ocampo, et al. vs.  The Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 150334,  March 20, 2009

Information; conspiracy.  The Court finds that the Information in this case alleges the essential elements of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019. The Information specifically alleges that petitioner, Espinosa and Lobrido are public officers being then the Department Manager, Project Management Officer A and Supervising Engineer of the NHA respectively; in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to the office and while in the performance of their official functions, connived, confederated and mutually helped each other and with accused Arceo C. Cruz, with deliberate intent through manifest partiality and evident bad faith gave unwarranted benefits to the latter, A.C. Cruz Construction and to themselves, to the damage and prejudice of the government. The felonious act consisted of causing to be paid to A.C. Cruz Construction public funds in the amount of P232,628.35 supposedly for excavation and road filling works on the Pahanocoy Sites and Services Project in Bacolod City despite the fact that no such works were undertaken by said construction company as revealed by the Special Audit conducted by COA.

On the contention that the Information did not detail the individual participation of the accused in the allegation of conspiracy in the Information, the Court underscores the fact that under Philippine law, conspiracy should be understood on two levels. Conspiracy can be a mode of committing a crime or it may be constitutive of the crime itself. Generally, conspiracy is not a crime in our jurisdiction. It is punished as a crime only when the law fixes a penalty for its commission such as in conspiracy to commit treason, rebellion and sedition.

When conspiracy is charged as a crime, the act of conspiring and all the elements of said crime must be set forth in the complaint or information. But when conspiracy is not charged as a crime in itself but only as the mode of committing the crime as in the case at bar, there is less necessity of reciting its particularities in the Information because conspiracy is not the gravamen of the offense charged. The conspiracy is significant only because it changes the criminal liability of all the accused in the conspiracy and makes them answerable as co-principals regardless of the degree of their participation in the crime. The liability of the conspirators is collective and each participant will be equally responsible for the acts of others, for the act of one is the act of all.  Felicisimo F. Lazarte, Jr. Vs. Sandiganbayan (First Division), et al., G.R. No. 180122.  March 13, 2009

Intervention. The Supreme Court held that the petitioner, even though a non-party, is bound by the judgment because aside from being a relative of or privy to Spouses Fernandez, she is also acting as their agent when she occupied the property after the RTC ordered execution pending appeal in order to frustrate the judgment.  Sofia Aniosa Salandanan vs. Spouses Ma. Isabela and Bayani Mendez, G.R. No. 160280,  March 13, 2009.

Intervention.  Intervention is not a matter of absolute right but may be permitted by the court when the applicant shows facts which satisfy the requirements of the statute authorizing intervention. Under our Rules of Court, what qualifies a person to intervene is his possession of a legal interest in the matter in litigation or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both; or when he is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or an officer thereof. As regards the legal interest as qualifying factor, this Court has ruled that such interest must be of a direct and immediate character so that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation of the judgment. The interest must be actual and material, a concern which is more than mere curiosity, or academic or sentimental desire; it must not be indirect and contingent, indirect and remote, conjectural, consequential or collateral. However, notwithstanding the presence of a legal interest, permission to intervene is subject to the sound discretion of the court, the exercise of which is limited by considering “whether or not the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties and whether or not the intervenor’s rights may be fully protected in a separate proceeding.”

To allow intervention, (a) it must be shown that the movant has legal interest in the matter in litigation, or is otherwise qualified; and (b) consideration must be given as to whether the adjudication of the rights of the original parties may be delayed or prejudiced, or whether the intervenor’s rights may be protected in a separate proceeding or not. Both requirements must concur, as the first is not more important than the second.

The allowance or disallowance of a motion to intervene is addressed to the sound discretion of the court. The permissive term of the rules shows the intention to give to the court the full measure of discretion in permitting or disallowing intervention.  Hon. Executive Secretary, et al. vs. Northeast Freight Forwarders, Inc.. G.R. No. 179516.  March 17, 2009

Injunction.   In this case, the petitioner’s mortgaged properties were already foreclosed, as shown by the Certificate of Sale issued on November 19, 2001.  The ownership of the lands-subject of the real estate mortgage had been consolidated and transfer certificates of title had been issued in the name of the creditor It is on this score that the Supreme Court held that the petitioner’s prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction moot and academic. The court also held that it unnecessary for the Court to still dwell on petitioner’s argument that it was not, under its By-Laws, empowered to mortgage its properties to secure the obligation of a third party.  Zomer Development Co. Inc. vs. International Exchange Bank, et al., G.R. No. 150694.  March 13, 2009

Injunction;  necessity for hearing.  A hearing is required prior to the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction.  Bank of the Philippines Islands vs. La Suerte Trading & Industrial Corp. etc., G.R. No. 164875, March 20, 2009.

Jurisdiction.  Courts of justice have no jurisdiction or power to decide a question not in issue. It is elementary that a judgment must conform to, and be supported by, both the pleadings and the evidence, and must be in accordance with the theory of the action on which the pleadings are framed and the case was tried. The courts, in rendering decisions, ought to limit themselves to the issues presented by the parties in their pleadings. A judgment that goes outside of the issues and purports to adjudicate something on which the court did not hear the parties is not only irregular but also extra-judicial and invalid. The rule rests on the fundamental tenets of fair play.  

In an ejectment case, the only issue for resolution is the question of who is entitled to the physical or material possession of the property in dispute.  In this case, respondents’ complaint for ejectment before the MTCC clearly stated that the subject matter of the complaint was Lot No. 934-B-4. In their answer to counterclaim, respondents reaffirmed that the subject matter of the complaint was Lot No. 934-B-4. The MTCC’s preliminary conference order limited the issue to whether petitioners had cottages on Lot No. 934-B-4. Petitioners and respondents filed their position papers on the basis of the foregoing issue. Clearly, the issue in the complaint for ejectment was limited to the possession of Lot No. 934-B-4. Therefore, the RTC and the Court of Appeals, in ruling on the possession and ownership of Lot No. 934-B-7, went beyond the issue of the case.  Sps. Adriano and Norma Sioson, et al. vs. Heirs of Federico Avancena, etc., G.R. No. 161387,  March 13, 2009

Jurisdiction;  allegations in complaint.  Well-settled in jurisprudence is the rule that in determining which body has jurisdiction over a case, we should consider not only the status or relationship of the parties, but also the nature of the question that is the subject of their controversy. To determine the nature of an action and which court has jurisdiction, courts must look at the averments of the complaint or petition and the essence of the relief prayed for.  Based on the allegations contained in Eristingcol’s complaint, it is the HLURB, not the RTC, which has jurisdiction over this case.  Lourdes L. Eristingcol  vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 167702.  March 20, 2009.

Litis pendentia.  Litis pendentia as a ground for the dismissal of a civil action refers to that situation wherein another action is pending between the same parties for the same cause of action, such that the second action becomes unnecessary and vexatious. The underlying principle of litis pendentia is the theory that a party is not allowed to vex another more than once regarding the same subject matter and for the same cause of action. This theory is founded on the public policy that the same subject matter should not be the subject of controversy in courts more than once, in order that possible conflicting judgments may be avoided for the sake of the stability of the rights and status of persons. The requisites of litis pendentia are: (a) the identity of parties, or at least such as representing the same interests in both actions; (b) the identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity of the two cases such that judgment in one, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other. Villarica Pawnshop, Inc. etc. Vs. Sps. Roger & Corazon Gernale, et al.  G.R. No. 163344, March 20, 2009.

Mandamus.  As an extraordinary writ, the remedy of mandamus lies only to compel an officer to perform a ministerial duty, not a discretionary one; mandamus will not issue to control the exercise of discretion by a public officer where the law imposes upon him the duty to exercise his judgment in reference to any manner in which he is required to act, because it is his judgment that is to be exercised and not that of the court.

In the case at bar, the act which petitioners pray that we compel the trial court to do is to grant the Office of the City Prosecutor’s Motion for Withdrawal of Informations against petitioners. In effect, petitioners seek to curb Judge Bay’s exercise of judicial discretion.

There is indeed an exception to the rule that matters involving judgment and discretion are beyond the reach of a writ of mandamus, for such writ may be issued to compel action in those matters, when refused. However, mandamus is never available to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion in a particular way or the retraction or reversal of an action already taken in the exercise of either. In other words, while a judge refusing to act on a Motion to Withdraw Informations can be compelled by mandamus to act on the same, he cannot be compelled to act in a certain way, i.e., to grant or deny such Motion. In the case at bar, Judge Bay did not refuse to act on the Motion to Withdraw Informations; he had already acted on it by denying the same. Accordingly, mandamus is not available anymore. If petitioners believed that Judge Bay committed grave abuse of discretion in the issuance of such Order denying the Motion to Withdraw Informations, the proper remedy of petitioners should have been to file a Petition for Certiorari against the assailed Order of Judge Bay.  Nilo Hipos, Sr. representing Darryl Hipos, et al. vs. Hon. Teodoro A. Bay etc., G.R. No. 174813-15,  March 17, 2009

Motion for Reconsideration. It is a hornbook doctrine that the 15-day reglementary period for filing a motion for reconsideration is non-extendible. Provisions of the Rules of Court prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done or certain proceedings taken are considered absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and to the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial businesses and strict compliance with such rules is mandatory and imperative. 

The citation by the appellate court of the ruling in Amorganda is misplaced. In Amorganda, the Court stated that the therein petitioners’ motion for reconsideration which was filed two calendar days late should have been given due course by the appellate court, as the counsel’s mistaken belief that the last day for filing the motion, a Saturday, was a legal holiday, is pardonable. The Court went on to note that “anyway, the delay of two (2) calendar days – one of which was a Sunday- in the filing of the motion for reconsideration did not prejudice the cause of private respondents, or that said private respondents suffered material injury by reason of the delay,” and that “private respondents who appear to be guilty of coercion, stand to unjustly profit from their fraudulent and deceitful act at the expense of petitioners.”

In the case at bar, not only was there a considerable delay of 11 days beyond the 15-day reglementary period; no explanation therefor was proffered by respondents. That respondents numbered more than a hundred does not, per se, justify the relaxation of procedural rules.  Motorola Philippines, Inc. et al. vs. Imelda B. Ambrocio et al., G.R. No. 173279.  March 30, 2009

Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman has the discretion to determine whether a criminal case, given its attendant facts and circumstances, should be filed or not. The Ombudsman may dismiss the complaint should the Ombudsman find the complaint insufficient in form or substance, or the Ombudsman may proceed with the investigation if, in the Ombudsman’s view, the complaint is in due form and substance. Hence, the filing or non-filing of the information is primarily lodged within the “full discretion” of the Ombudsman. The Supreme Court has consistently adopted a policy of non-interference in the exercise of the Ombudsman’s constitutionally mandated powers. The Ombudsman, which is “beholden to no one, acts as the champion of the people and the preserver of the integrity of the public service.” However, the Supreme Court is not precluded from reviewing the Ombudsman’s action when there is grave abuse of discretion, in which case the certiorari jurisdiction of the Court may be exceptionally invoked pursuant to Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. Severino Vergara Vs. The Honorable Ombudsman Severino J. Lajara and Virginia G. Baroro, G.R. No. 174567, March 12, 2009.  See also Office of the Ombudsman vs. Ricardo Evangelista, et al., G.R. No. 177211.  March 13, 2009;   Dinah C. Castillo vs. Antonio M. Escutin, et al., G.R. No. 171056.  March 13, 2009

Prescription; action to revive judgment.  The action to revive the judgment in the forcible entry case had not prescribed. The judgment sought to be revived was rendered on August 25, 1975 and the motion for reconsideration of the said judgment was denied on September 15, 1976. A writ of execution was in fact issued.   The writ of execution was not enforced, however, within five years or up to or on or about September 15, 1981. Hence, the filing of Civil Case No. 16681 ─ the action for revival of judgment ─ on August 26, 1985, was well within the 10-year prescriptive period. STRANGELY, the appellate court, in its challenged decision of May 31, 2006, appears to have reckoned the 10-year prescriptive period from the finality of the trial court’s decision up to the promulgation of its (the appellate court’s) decision on May 31, 2006, hence, its ruling that 30 years had already passed from the finality of the trial court’s decision. Conrado Quesada, et al. vs. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 177516. March 13, 2009

Prescription;  reconveyance.  An aggrieved party may still file an action for reconveyance based on implied or constructive trust, which prescribes in 10 years from the date of the issuance of the Certificate of Title over the property, provided that the property has not been acquired by an innocent purchaser for value. An action for reconveyance is one that seeks to transfer property, wrongfully or fraudulently registered by another, to its rightful and legal owner. If the registered owner, be he the patentee or his successor-in-interest to whom the free patent was transferred, knew that the parcel of land described in the patent and in the Torrens title belonged to another, who together with his predecessors-in-interest had been in possession thereof, and if the patentee and his successor-in-interest were never in possession thereof, the true owner may bring an action to have the ownership of or title to the land judicially settled. The court in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, without ordering the cancellation of the Torrens titled issued upon the patent, may direct the defendant, the registered owner, to reconvey the parcel of land to the plaintiff who has been found to be the true owner thereof. In the instant case, respondents brought the action for reconveyance of the subject lots before the RTC only on 23 December 2004, or more than 12 years after the Torrens titles were issued in favor of petitioner Perfecta on 9 October 1962. The remedy is, therefore, already time-barred. Perfecta Cavile, et al. vs. Justina Litania-Hong, et al., G.R. No. 179540. March 13, 2009

Pre-trial;  non-appearance.  Non-appearance by the plaintiff in the pre-trial is a cause for dismissal of the action. However, every rule is not without an exception. In fact, Section 4, Rule 18 of the Revised Rules of Court explicitly provides that the non-appearance of a party may be excused if a valid cause is shown therefor. Such a valid cause extant in the case at bar. Anson Trade Center, Inc. et al. vs. Pacific Banking Corporation, represented by its liquidator, The President of the PDIC, G.R. No. 179999. March 17, 2009.

Real party in interest. A co-owner may file an action for recovery of possession without the necessity of joining all the other co-owners as co-plaintiffs since the suit is deemed to be instituted for the benefit of all; and that Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 2016, reinforced by Presidential Decree No. 1517, which prohibits the eviction of qualified tenants/occupants, extends only to landless urban families who are rightful occupants of the land and its structures, and does not include those whose presence on the land is merely tolerated and without the benefit of contract, those who enter the land by force or deceit, or those whose possession is under litigation. James Estreller, et al. Vs. Luis Migue Ysmael, et al., G.R. No. 170264, March 13, 2009

Res judicata. Res judicata or bar by prior judgment is a doctrine which holds that a matter that has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction must be deemed to have been finally and conclusively settled if it arises in any subsequent litigation between the same parties and for the same cause. The doctrine of res judicata is founded on a public policy against re-opening that which has previously been decided, so as to put the litigation to an end. The four requisites for res judicata to apply are: (a) the former judgment or order must be final; (b) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (c) it must be a judgment or an order on the merits; and (d) there must be, between the first and the second actions, identity of parties, of subject matter and of cause of action. National Investment and Development Corp. vs. Sps. Francisco and Basilisa Bautista, G.R. No. 150388. March 13, 2009.

Service. The rule on service by registered mail contemplates two situations: (1) actual service, the completeness of which is determined upon receipt by the addressee of the registered mail; and (2) constructive service, the completeness of which is determined upon expiration of five days from the date the addressee received the first notice of the postmaster. A party who relies on constructive service or who contends that his adversary has received a copy of a final order or judgment upon the expiration of five days from the date the addressee received the first notice sent by the postmaster must prove that the first notice was actually received by the addressee. Such proof requires a certified or sworn copy of the notice given by the postmaster to the addressee. Service of the NLRC decision via registered mail was deemed completed as of August 16, 1999, or five days after the first notice on August 11, 1999. As such, PAL only had 10 days from August 16, 1999 to file its motion for reconsideration. Its motion filed on October 29, 1999 was therefore late. Hence the NLRC decision became final and executory.  Philippine Airlines Inc vs. Heirs of Bernandin J. Zamora, G.R. No. 164267/G.R. No. 166996.  March 31, 2009