June 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected June 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Agency; agency by estoppel. The doctrine of estoppel is based upon the grounds of public policy, fair dealing, good faith and justice, and its purpose is to forbid one to speak against his own act, representations, or commitments to the injury of one to whom they were directed and who reasonably relied thereon. The doctrine of estoppel springs from equitable principles and the equities in the case. It is designed to aid the law in the administration of justice where without its aid injustice might result. It has been applied by this Court wherever and whenever special circumstances of a case so demand.

Based on the events and circumstances surrounding the issuance of the assailed orders, this Court rules that MEGAN is estopped from assailing both the authority of Atty. Sabig and the jurisdiction of the RTC. While it is true, as claimed by MEGAN, that Atty. Sabig said in court that he was only appearing for the hearing of Passi Sugar’s motion for intervention and not for the case itself, his subsequent acts, coupled with MEGAN’s inaction and negligence to repudiate his authority, effectively bars MEGAN from assailing the validity of the RTC proceedings under the principle of estoppel. Megan Sugar Corporation v. Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Br. 68, Dumangas, Iloilo; New Frontier Sugar Corp., et al.,  G.R. No. 170352. June 1, 2011

Agency; doctrine of apparent authority. The Court finds that the signature of Abcede is sufficient to bind PRHC. As its construction manager, his very act of signing a letter embodying the P 36 million escalation agreement produced legal effect, even if there was a blank space for a higher officer of PHRC to indicate approval thereof. At the very least, he indicated authority to make such representation on behalf of PRHC. On direct examination, Abcede admitted that, as the construction manager, he represented PRHC in running its affairs with regard to the execution of the aforesaid projects. Abcede had signed, on behalf of PRHC, other documents that were almost identical to the questioned letter-agreement. PRHC does not question the validity of these agreements; it thereby effectively admits that this individual had actual authority to sign on its behalf with respect to these construction projects. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp. vs. Ley Const. and Dev. Corp./Ley Cons. and Dev. Corp. vs. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp., G.R. No. 165548/G.R. No. 167879. June 13, 2011

Damages. Respondents are not entitled to moral damages because contracts are not referred to in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, which enumerates the cases when moral damages may be recovered. Article 2220 of the Civil Code allows the recovery of moral damages in breaches of contract where the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith. However, this case involves a contract to sell, wherein full payment of the purchase price is a positive suspensive condition, the non-fulfillment of which is not a breach of contract, but merely an event that prevents the seller from conveying title to the purchaser. Since there is no breach of contract in this case, respondents are not entitled to moral damages.

In the absence of moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages, exemplary damages cannot be granted for they are allowed only in addition to any of the four kinds of damages mentioned. Mila A. Reyes v. Victoria T. Tuparan,  G.R. No. 188064. June 1, 2011

Force Majeure.      Article 1174 of the Civil Code provides: “Except in cases expressly specified by the law, or when it is otherwise declared by stipulation or when the nature of the obligation requires the assumption of risk, no person shall be responsible for those events which could not be foreseen, or which though foreseen, were inevitable.” A perusal of the construction agreements shows that the parties never agreed to make LCDC liable even in cases of force majeure. Neither was the assumption of risk required. Thus, in the occurrence of events that could not be foreseen, or though foreseen were inevitable, neither party should be held responsible.

Under Article 1174 of the Civil Code, to exempt the obligor from liability for a breach of an obligation due to an “act of God” or force majeure, the following must concur:

(a) the cause of the breach of the obligation must be independent of the will of the debtor; (b) the event must be either unforseeable or unavoidable; (c) the event must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner; and (d) the debtor must be free from any participation in, or aggravation of the injury to the creditor.

The shortage in supplies and cement may be characterized as force majeure. In the present case, hardware stores did not have enough cement available in their supplies or stocks at the time of the construction in the 1990s. Likewise, typhoons, power failures and interruptions of water supply all clearly fall under force majeure. Since LCDC could not possibly continue constructing the building under the circumstances prevailing, it cannot be held liable for any delay that resulted from the causes aforementioned. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp. vs. Ley Const. and Dev. Corp./Ley Cons. and Dev. Corp. vs. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp., G.R. No. 165548/G.R. No. 167879. June 13, 2011

Laches. Laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned or declined to assert it. There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches or staleness of demand; each case is to be determined according to its particular circumstances, with the question of laches addressed to the sound discretion of the court. Because laches is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable considerations and should not be used to defeat justice or to perpetuate fraud or injustice.

From the records, it appears that Macgraphics first learned of the assignment when Sime Darby sent its letter-notice dated May 3, 1996. From the letters sent by Macgraphics to Goodyear, it is apparent that Macgraphics had to study and determine both the legal and practical implications of entertaining Goodyear as a client. After review, Macgraphics found that consenting to the assignment would entail the commitment of manpower and resources that it did not foresee at the inception of the lease. It thereafter communicated its non-conformity to the assignment. To the mind of the Court, there was never a delay. Simedarby Pilipinas, Inc. vs. Goodyear Philippines, Inc., et al./Goodyear Philippines, Inc. vs. Sime Darby Pilipinas, Inc. et al.; G.R. No. 182148/G.R. No. 183210. June 8, 2011.

Lease; assignment of lease; need for consent. Article 1649 of the New Civil Code provides:

Art. 1649. The lessee cannot assign the lease without the consent of the lessor, unless there is a stipulation to the contrary. (n)

In an assignment of a lease, there is a novation by the substitution of the person of one of the parties – the lessee. The personality of the lessee, who dissociates from the lease, disappears. Thereafter, a new juridical relation arises between the two persons who remain – the lessor and the assignee who is converted into the new lessee. The objective of the law in prohibiting the assignment of the lease without the lessor’s consent is to protect the owner or lessor of the leased property.

The consent of the lessor to an assignment of lease may indeed be given expressly or impliedly. It need not be given simultaneously with that of the lessee and of the assignee. Neither is it required to be in any specific or particular form. It must, however, be clearly given. In this case, it cannot be said that Macgraphics gave its implied consent to the assignment of lease. Simedarby Pilipinas, Inc. vs. Goodyear Philippines, Inc., et al./Goodyear Philippines, Inc. vs. Sime Darby Pilipinas, Inc. et al., G.R. No. 182148/G.R. No. 183210. June 8, 2011

Legal Interest. Since the obligation herein is for the payment of a sum of money, the legal interest rate to be imposed, under Article 2209 of the Civil Code is 6% per annum:

Art. 2209. If the obligation consists in the payment of a sum of money, and the debtor incurs in delay, the indemnity for damages, there being no stipulation to the contrary, shall be the payment of the interest agreed upon, and in the absence of stipulation, the legal interest, which is six per cent per annum.

Following the guidelines above, the legal interest of 6% per annum is to be imposed from November 16, 1997, the date of the last demand, and 12% in lieu of 6% from the date this decision becomes final until fully paid. Republic of the Philippines, represented by the chief, Philippine National Police vs. Thi Thu Thuy De Guzman, G.R. No. 175021. June 15, 2011.

Loan; perfection. Under Article 1934 of the Civil Code, a loan contract is perfected only upon the delivery of the object of the contract. In this case, although petitioners applied for a P3 million loan, only the amount of P1 million was approved by the bank because petitioners became collaterally deficient when they failed to purchase TCT No. T-227331 which had an appraised value of P1,944,000.00. Hence, on March 17, 1997, only the amount of P1 million was released by the bank to petitioners.

Upon receipt of the approved loan on March 17, 1997, petitioners executed a promissory note for the amount of P1 million. As security for the P1 million loan, petitioners on the same day executed in favor of the bank a real estate mortgage over the properties covered by TCT Nos. T-237695, T-237696, T-237698, T-143683, T-143729, T-225131 and T-225132. Clearly, contrary to the findings of the RTC, the loan contract was perfected on March 17, 1997 when petitioners received the P1 million loan, which was the object of both the promissory note and the real estate mortgage executed by petitioners in favor of the bank. Spouses Wilfredo and Brigida Palada vs. Solidbank Corporation, et al.,  G.R. No. 172227. June 29, 2011

Marriage; annulment by reason of psychological incapacity. The Court held that the lower court did not commit grave abuse when it dismissed the petition for annulment of marriage, so the case really turned on a procedural issue. Danilo A. Aurelio vs. Vida Ma. Corazon P. Aurelio, G.R. No. 175367. June 6, 2011

Medical malpractice. An integral part of physician’s overall obligation to patient is the duty of reasonable disclosure of available choices with respect to proposed therapy and of dangers inherently and potentially involved in each. However, the physician is not obliged to discuss relatively minor risks inherent in common procedures when it is common knowledge that such risks inherent in procedure of very low incidence. Cited as exceptions to the rule that the patient should not be denied the opportunity to weigh the risks of surgery or treatment are emergency cases where it is evident he cannot evaluate data, and where the patient is a child or incompetent. The court thus concluded that the patient’s right of self-decision can only be effectively exercised if the patient possesses adequate information to enable him in making an intelligent choice. The scope of the physician’s communications to the patient, then must be measured by the patient’s need, and that need is whatever information is material to the decision. The test therefore for determining whether a potential peril must be divulged is its materiality to the patient’s decision.

Cobbs v. Grant reiterated the pronouncement in Canterbury v. Spence that for liability of the physician for failure to inform patient, there must be causal relationship between physician’s failure to inform and the injury to patient and such connection arises only if it is established that, had revelation been made, consent to treatment would not have been given.

There are four essential elements a plaintiff must prove in a malpractice action based upon the doctrine of informed consent: “(1) the physician had a duty to disclose material risks; (2) he failed to disclose or inadequately disclosed those risks; (3) as a direct and proximate result of the failure to disclose, the patient consented to treatment she otherwise would not have consented to; and (4) plaintiff was injured by the proposed treatment.” The gravamen in an informed consent case requires the plaintiff to “point to significant undisclosed information relating to the treatment which would have altered her decision to undergo it.

The element of ethical duty to disclose material risks in the proposed medical treatment cannot thus be reduced to one simplistic formula applicable in all instances. Further, in a medical malpractice action based on lack of informed consent, “the plaintiff must prove both the duty and the breach of that duty through expert testimony. Dr. Rubi Li vs. Spouses Reynaldo and Lina Soliman as parents/heirs of deceased Angelica Soliman, G.R. No. 165279. June 7, 2011

Ownership, co-ownership. The portions belonging to the co-owners in the co-ownership shall be presumed equal, unless the contrary is proved. Aurora L. Tecson, et al. v. Minverva, Maria, et al. all surnamed Fausto and Isabel Vda. De Fausto;  G.R. No. 180683. June 1, 2011

Ownership; possession. Possession is an essential attribute of ownership. Necessarily, whoever owns the property has the right to possess it. Here, between the Almerias’ registered title of ownership and Gaitero’s verbal claim to the same, the former’s title is far superior.

As the MCTC, the RTC, and the CA found, the disputed area forms part of the Almerias’ registered title. Upon examination, this fact is also confirmed by the subdivision plan which partitioned Tomagan’s original Lot 9960. The evidence shows that the Almerias bought Lot 9964, which includes the disputed area, from the Asenjo heirs in whose names the land was originally registered. Since Gaitero was unable to prove that fraud attended the titling of the disputed area, the Almerias’ right over the same became indefeasible and incontrovertible a year from registration.

The Court cannot consider Gaitero’s claim of ownership of the disputed area, based on his alleged continuous possession of the same, without running afoul of the rule that bars collateral attacks of registered titles. Gaitero’s action before the MCTC is one for recovery of possession of the disputed area. An adjudication of his claim of ownership over the same would be out of place in such kind of action. A registered title cannot be impugned, altered, changed, modified, enlarged, or diminished, except in a direct proceeding permitted by law. Otherwise, reliance on registered titles would be lost. Gaitero’s action is prohibited by law and should be dismissed.

Gaitero’s theory of laches cannot vest on him the ownership of the disputed area. To begin with, laches is a consideration in equity and therefore, anyone who invokes it must come to court with clean hands, for he who has done inequity shall not have equity. Here, Gaitero’s claim of laches against the Almerias can be hurled against him. When the lot that the Almerias acquired (Lot 9964) was registered in 1979, Gaitero had constructive, if not actual, notice that the cadastral survey included the disputed area as part of the land that Leon Asenjo claimed. Yet, neither Gaitero nor his mother complained or objected to such inclusion.

Worse, when Gaitero saw the subdivision plan covering Tomagan’s original Lot 9960 in 1993, it showed that the disputed area fell outside the boundaries of Lot 9960-A which he claimed. Still, Gaitero did nothing to correct the alleged mistake. He is by his inaction clearly estopped from claiming ownership of the disputed area. He cannot avail himself of the law of equity. Feliciano Gaitero and Nelia Gaitero vs. Generoso Almeria and Teresita Almeria,  G.R. No. 181812. June 8, 2011

Payment; extinguishment of obligation. The RTC and the Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the petitioner’s obligation has not been extinguished. The petitioner’s obligation consists of payment of a sum of money. In order for petitioner’s payment to be effective in extinguishing its obligation, it must be made to the proper person. Article 1240 of the Civil Code states:

Art. 1240. Payment shall be made to the person in whose favor the obligation has been constituted, or his successor in interest, or any person authorized to receive it.

In Cembrano v. City of Butuan, this Court elucidated on how payment will effectively extinguish an obligation, to wit:

Payment made by the debtor to the person of the creditor or to one authorized by him or by the law to receive it extinguishes the obligation. When payment is made to the wrong party, however, the obligation is not extinguished as to the creditor who is without fault or negligence even if the debtor acted in utmost good faith and by mistake as to the person of the creditor or through error induced by fraud of a third person.

In general, a payment in order to be effective to discharge an obligation, must be made to the proper person. Thus, payment must be made to the obligee himself or to an agent having authority, express or implied, to receive the particular payment. Payment made to one having apparent authority to receive the money will, as a rule, be treated as though actual authority had been given for its receipt. Likewise, if payment is made to one who by law is authorized to act for the creditor, it will work a discharge. The receipt of money due on a judgment by an officer authorized by law to accept it will, therefore, satisfy the debt.

The respondent was able to establish that the LBP check was not received by her or by her authorized personnel. The PNP’s own records show that it was claimed and signed for by Cruz, who is openly known as being connected to Highland Enterprises, another contractor. Hence, absent any showing that the respondent agreed to the payment of the contract price to another person, or that she authorized Cruz to claim the check on her behalf, the payment, to be effective must be made to her. Republic of the Philippines, represented by the chief, Philippine National Police vs. Thi Thu Thuy De Guzman; G.R. No. 175021. June 15, 2011

Rescission. Granting that a rescission can be permitted under Article 1191, the Court still cannot allow it for the reason that, considering the circumstances, there was only a slight or casual breach in the fulfillment of the obligation. Unless the parties stipulated it, rescission is allowed only when the breach of the contract is substantial and fundamental to the fulfillment of the obligation. Whether the breach is slight or substantial is largely determined by the attendant circumstances. Mila A. Reyes v. Victoria T. Tuparan,  G.R. No. 188064. June 1, 2011

Sale; contract of sale vs. contract to sell; no rescission in contract to sell. The subject Deed of Conditional Sale with Assumption of Mortgage entered into by and among the two parties and FSL Bank onNovember 26, 1990 is a contract to sell and not a contract of sale. The subject contract was correctly classified as a contract to sell based on the following pertinent stipulations:

8. That the title and ownership of the subject real properties shall remain with the First Party until the full payment of the Second Party of the balance of the purchase price and liquidation of the mortgage obligation of ₱2,000,000.00. Pending payment of the balance of the purchase price and liquidation of the mortgage obligation that was assumed by the Second Party, the Second Party shall not sell, transfer and convey and otherwise encumber the subject real properties without the written consent of the First and Third Party.

9. That upon full payment by the Second Party of the full balance of the purchase price and the assumed mortgage obligation herein mentioned the Third Party shall issue the corresponding Deed of Cancellation of Mortgage and the First Party shall execute the corresponding Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of the Second Party.

Based on the above provisions, the title and ownership of the subject properties remains with the petitioner until the respondent fully pays the balance of the purchase price and the assumed mortgage obligation. Thereafter, FSL Bank shall then issue the corresponding deed of cancellation of mortgage and the petitioner shall execute the corresponding deed of absolute sale in favor of the respondent.

Accordingly, the petitioner’s obligation to sell the subject properties becomes demandable only upon the happening of the positive suspensive condition, which is the respondent’s full payment of the purchase price. Without respondent’s full payment, there can be no breach of contract to speak of because petitioner has no obligation yet to turn over the title. Respondent’s failure to pay in full the purchase price is not the breach of contract contemplated under Article 1191 of the New Civil Code but rather just an event that prevents the petitioner from being bound to convey title to the respondent. Mila A. Reyes v. Victoria T. Tuparan,  G.R. No. 188064. June 1, 2011

Sale; innocent purchaser for value. The remaining bar to the recovery by the respondents of the excess area held by Atty. Tecson is the principle of an innocent purchaser for value of land under the Torrens System of Registration.

The petitioners claim that they are bona fide purchasers of the entire nine hundred sixty-four (964) square meters of land covered by Lot 2189-B—with Aurora merely relying on the strength of TCT No. T-4,336 in the name of Waldetrudes, while Atty. Tecson placing confidence in TCT No. T-4,338 in the name of Aurora. Both TCT Nos. T-4,336 and T-4,338 define the area of Lot 2189-B as nine hundred sixty-four (964) square meters. The petitioners allege that at the time they made their respective purchase, they did not know of the existing partition of Lot 2189 per the First Plan and the First Partition Agreement.

But the proven facts indicate that Atty. Tecson knew or, at the very least, should have known that Atty. Fausto and Waldetrudes were co-owners in equal share of Lot 2189. The Court noted the following circumstances:

  1. Atty. Tecson was a long-time friend and neighbor of the Faustos. Atty. Tecson himself testified that he considered Atty. Fausto as a good friend and even admitted that he would sometimes visit the latter in his house to play mahjong. By this, Atty. Tecson knew that Atty. Fausto has an actual interest in Lot 2189.

2.   Atty. Tecson was the one who presented the Second Partition Agreement to Waldetrudes and the respondents;

3.   Waldetrudes and the respondents were not involved in the preparation of the Second Partition Agreement and, at the time they signed the said agreement, had no knowledge of the existence of the Second Plan; and

4.   The Second Partition Agreement failed to state the specific areas allotted for each component of Lot 2189 and made no mention of the division proposed by the Second Plan. Aurora L. Tecson, et al. v. Minverva, Maria, et al. all surnamed Fausto and Isabel Vda. De Fausto;  G.R. No. 180683. June 1, 2011

Unjust enrichment. Unjust enrichment exists “when a person unjustly retains a benefit to the loss of another, or when a person retains money or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience.” Under Art. 22 of the Civil Code, there is unjust enrichment when (1) a person is unjustly benefited, and (2) such benefit is derived at the expense of or with damages to another. The term is further used to depict result or effect of failure to make remuneration of or for property or benefits received under circumstances that give rise to legal or equitable obligation to account for them; to be entitled to remuneration, one must confer benefit by mistake, fraud, coercion, or request.

In order for an unjust enrichment claim to prosper, one must not only prove that the other party benefited from one’s efforts or the obligations of others; it must also be shown that the other party was unjustly enriched in the sense that the term “unjustly” could mean “illegally” or “unlawfully.” LCDC was aware that the escalation agreement was limited to P36 million. It is not entitled to remuneration of the excess, since it did not confer this benefit by mistake, fraud, coercion, or request. Rather, it voluntarily infused the excess amount with full knowledge that PRHC had no obligation to reimburse it. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp. vs. Ley Const. and Dev. Corp./Ley Cons. and Dev. Corp. vs. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp., G.R. No. 165548/G.R. No. 167879. June 13, 2011

Special Laws

Land registration. Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree has three requisites for registration of title: (a) that the property in question is alienable and disposable land of the public domain; (b) that the applicants by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation; and (c) that such possession is under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier.

A similar right is granted under Sec. 48(b) of the Public Land Act. There are no material differences between Sec. 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree and Sec. 48(b) of the Public Land Act. Sec. 14(1) operationalizes the registration of such lands of the public domain.

Here, the only reason the CA gave in reversing the decision of the MeTC is that Victoria failed to submit the November 6, 2006 Certification issued by the DENR, verifying the subject property as within the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, during the hearing before the MeTC. She belatedly submitted it on appeal.

To prove that the land subject of the application for registration is alienable, an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or statute. The applicant may secure a certification from the government that the lands applied for are alienable and disposable, but the certification must show that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of the pubic domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. The applicant must also present a copy of the original classification of the land into alienable and disposable, as declared by the DENR Secretary or as proclaimed by the President.

In Llanes v. Republic, the Court allowed consideration of a CENRO Certification though it was only presented during appeal to the CA to avoid a patent unfairness. The rules of procedure being mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, the Court is empowered to suspend their application to a particular case when its rigid application tends to frustrate rather than promote the ends of justice. Denying the application for registration now on the ground of failure to present proof of the status of the land before the trial court and allowing Victoria to re-file her application would merely unnecessarily duplicate the entire process, cause additional expense and add to the number of cases that courts must resolve. It would be more prudent to recognize the DENR Certification and resolve the matter now.

Besides, the record shows that the subject property was covered by a cadastral survey of Taguig conducted by the government at its expense. Such surveys are carried out precisely to encourage landowners and help them get titles to the lands covered by such survey. It does not make sense to raise an objection after such a survey that the lands covered by it are inalienable land of the public domain, like a public forest. This is the City of Taguig in the middle of the metropolis.

The CA also erred in not affirming the decision of the MeTC especially since Victoria has, contrary to the Solicitor General’s allegation, proved that she and her predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the subject lot continuously, uninterruptedly, openly, publicly, adversely and in the concept of owners since the early 1940s. In fact, she has submitted tax declarations covering the land way back in 1948 that appeared in her father’s name. Natividad Sts. Ana Victoria v. Republic of the Philippines,  G.R. No. 179673. June 8, 2011

Lease; financial lease; liability of registered owner. In accordance with the law on compulsory motor vehicle registration, this Court has consistently ruled that, with respect to the public and third persons, the registered owner of a motor vehicle is directly and primarily responsible for the consequences of its operation regardless of who the actual vehicle owner might be. Well-settled is the rule that the registered owner of the vehicle is liable for quasi-delicts resulting from its use. Thus, even if the vehicle has already been sold, leased, or transferred to another person at the time the vehicle figured in an accident, the registered vehicle owner would still be liable for damages caused by the accident. The sale, transfer or lease of the vehicle, which is not registered with the Land Transportation Office, will not bind third persons aggrieved in an accident involving the vehicle. The compulsory motor vehicle registration underscores the importance of registering the vehicle in the name of the actual owner.  FEB Leasing and Finance Corporation (now BPI Leasing Corp.) vs. Sps. Sergio P. Baylon and Maritess Villena Baylon, et al.; G.R. No. 181398. June 29, 2011

P.D. No. 1083; Muslim personal laws. If both parties are Muslims, there is a presumption that the Muslim Code or Muslim law is complied with. If together with it or in addition to it, the marriage is likewise solemnized in accordance with the Civil Code of the Philippines, in a so-called combined Muslim-Civil marriage rites whichever comes first is the validating rite and the second rite is merely ceremonial one. But, in this case, as long as both parties are Muslims, this Muslim Code will apply. In effect, two situations will arise, in the application of this Muslim Code or Muslim law, that is, when both parties are Muslims and when the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim Code or Muslim law. A third situation occur[s] when the Civil Code of the Philippines will govern the marriage and divorce of the parties, if the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with the Civil Code.

Moreover, the two experts, in the same book, unequivocally state that one of the effects of irrevocable talaq, as well as other kinds of divorce, refers to severance of matrimonial bond, entitling one to remarry.

It stands to reason therefore that Zamoranos’ divorce from De Guzman, as confirmed by an Ustadz and Judge Jainul of the Shari’a Circuit Court, and attested to by Judge Usman, was valid, and, thus, entitled her to remarry Pacasum in 1989. Consequently, the RTC, Branch 6, Iligan City, is without jurisdiction to try Zamoranos for the crime of Bigamy. Atty. Marietta D. Zamoranos v. People of the Philippines and Samson R. Pacasum, Sr./Atty. Marietta D. Zamoranos v. Samson R. Pacasum, Sr./Samson R. Pacasum, Sr. v. Atty. Marietta D. Zamoranos, G.R. No. 193902/G.R. No. 193908 and G.R. No. 194075. June 1, 2011

R.A. No. 26; reconstitution of title. The non-compliance with the requirements prescribed in Sections 12 and 13 of R.A. No. 26 is fatal. Hence, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the petition for reconstitution. The Supreme Court, as early as 1982, ruled that Republic Act No. 26 entitled “An act providing a special procedure for the reconstitution of Torrens Certificates of Title lost or destroyed” approved on September 25, 1946 confers jurisdiction or authority to the Court of First Instance to hear and decide petitions for judicial reconstitution. The Act specifically provides the special requirements and mode of procedure that must be followed before the court can properly act, assume and acquire jurisdiction or authority over the petition and grant the reconstitution prayed for. These requirements and procedure are mandatory. The Petition for Reconstitution must allege certain specific jurisdictional facts; the notice of hearing must be published in the Official Gazette and posted in particular places and the same sent or notified to specified persons. Sections 12 and 13 of the Act provide specifically the mandatory requirements and procedure to be followed.

These defects are not just “technical.” Liberal construction of the Rules of Court does not apply to land registration cases. Indeed, to further underscore the mandatory character of these jurisdictional requirements, the Rules of Court do not apply to land registration cases. In all cases where the authority of the courts to proceed is conferred by a statute, and when the manner of obtaining jurisdiction is prescribed by a statute, the mode of proceeding is mandatory, and must be strictly complied with, or the proceeding will be utterly void When the trial court lacks jurisdiction to take cognizance of a case, it lacks authority over the whole case and all its aspects. All the proceedings before the trial court, including its order granting the petition for reconstitution, are void for lack of jurisdiction. Bienbenido Castillo vs. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 182980. June 22, 2011

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