November 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected November 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Appeal; argument raised for first time on appeal. As a last ditch effort, petitioner asserts that the property is a road right of way; thus, it cannot be subject of a writ of execution.  The argument must be rejected because it was raised for the first time in this petition.  In the trial court and the CA, petitioner’s arguments zeroed in on the alleged conjugal nature of the property.  It is well settled that issues raised for the first time on appeal and not raised in the proceedings in the lower court are barred by estoppel. Points of law, theories, issues, and arguments not brought to the attention of the trial court ought not to be considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.  To consider the alleged facts and arguments raised belatedly would amount to trampling on the basic principles of fair play, justice, and due process.  Evangeline D. Imani vs. Metroplitan Bank and Trust Company, G.R. No. 187023, November 17, 2010.

Appeal; argument raised for first time on appeal. The petitioners now claim that the Motion for Reconsideration, filed by the respondent on May 18, 1993 from the September 18, 1992 Order of the RTC, was filed out of time.  The petitioners make this claim to justify their contention that the subsequent rulings of the RTC, including the June 2, 1993 and October 1, 1993 Orders, are barred by res judicata.

We reject this belated claim as the petitioners raised this only for the first time on appeal, particularly, in their Memorandum.  In fact, the petitioners never raised this issue in the proceedings before the court a quo or in the present petition for review.

As a rule, a party who deliberately adopts a certain theory upon which the case is tried and decided by the lower court will not be permitted to change the theory on appeal.  Points of law, theories, issues and arguments not brought to the attention of the lower court need not be, and ordinarily will not be, considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time at such late stage. It would be unfair to the adverse party who would have no opportunity to present further evidence material to the new theory, which it could have done had it been aware of it at the time of the hearing before the trial court.  Thus, to permit the petitioners in this case to change their theory on appeal would thus be unfair to the respondent and offend the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process.  Spouses Ernesto and Vicenta Topacio vs. Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank, G.R. No. 157644, November 17, 2010.

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July 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected July 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

CRIMINAL LAW

1.     Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; treachery. In the killing of victims in this case, the trial court was correct in appreciating the aggravating circumstance of treachery. There is treachery when the attack is so sudden and unexpected that the victim had no opportunity either to avert the attack or to defend himself. Indeed, nothing can be more sudden and unexpected than when a father stabs to death his two young daughters while they were sound asleep and totally defenseless. People of the Philippines vs. Calonge y Verana, G.R. No. 182793, July 5, 2010.

Aggravating circumstance; treachery. The Court held that treachery can still be appreciated even though the victim was forewarned of the danger to his life because what is decisive is that the attack was executed in a manner that the victim was rendered defenseless and unable to retaliate. Although the victim knew that the accused held a grudge against him, he never had any inkling that he would actually be attacked that night. The way it was executed made it impossible for the victim to respond or defend himself. He just had no opportunity to repel the sudden attack, rendering him completely helpless. Accused, moreover, used a firearm to easily neutralize the victim, which was undeniably a swift and effective way to achieve his purpose. Lastly, but significantly, the accused aimed for the face of the victim ensuring that the bullet would penetrate it and damage his brain. These acts are distinctly indicative of the treacherous means employed by the accused to guarantee the consummation of his criminal plan. Thus, as treachery attended the killing of Loreto Cruz, such circumstance qualified the killing as murder, punishable under paragraph 1 of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. People of the Philippines vs. Pedro Ortiz, Jr. y Lopez, G.R. No. 188704, July 7, 2010.

Attempted homicide; civil liability; temperate damages. The Supreme Court modified the decision of the Court of Appeals with respect to the petitioner’s civil liability for being erroneous and contrary to prevailing jurisprudence. The Court of Appeals ordered actual damages to be paid in the amount of P3,858.50. In People v. Andres, the Supreme Court held that if the actual damages, proven by receipts during the trial, amount to less than P25,000.00, the victim shall be entitled to temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 in lieu of actual damages. The award of temperate damages is based on Article 2224 of the New Civil Code which states that temperate or moderate damages may be recovered when the court finds that some pecuniary loss was suffered but its amount cannot be proven with certainty. In this case, the victim is entitled to the award of P25,000.00 as temperate damages considering that the amount of actual damages is only P3,858.50. Actual damages should no longer be awarded. Giovani Serrano y Cervantes vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 175023, July 5, 2010.

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July 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected July 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on remedial law:

Action;  certification of non-forum shopping.  Under Section 3, par. 3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court, a petition for certiorari must be verified and accompanied by a sworn certification of non-forum shopping. A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic records. On the other hand, a certification of non-forum shopping is a certification under oath by the plaintiff or principal party in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith, (1) that he has not commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and no such other action or claim is pending therein; (2) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (3) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.

The reason the certification of non-forum shopping is required to be accomplished by the plaintiff or principal party himself is because he has actual knowledge of whether he has initiated similar actions or proceedings in different courts or agencies. In case the plaintiff or principal party is a juridical entity, such as petitioner, the certification may be signed by an authorized person who has personal knowledge of the facts required to be established by the documents.

Although petitioner submitted a verification/certification of non-forum shopping, affiant Edgar L. Chavez had no authority to sign the verification/certification of non-forum shopping attached to the petition filed in the Court of Appeals. The records disclose that the authority of Chavez was to represent petitioner only before the NLRC. Moreover, the board resolution showing such authority was neither certified nor authenticated by the Corporate Secretary. The Corporate Secretary should have attested to the fact that, indeed, petitioner’s Board of Directors had approved a Resolution on August 11, 2005, authorizing Chavez, to file the petition and to sign the verification/certification of non-forum shopping.  Davao Contractors Development Cooperative (DACODECO), represented by Chairman of the Board Engr. L. Chavez vs. Marilyn A. Pasawa, G.R. No. 172174, July 9, 2009.

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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.

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