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 Civil Law

Here are selected July 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Agency; doctrine of apparent authority. The doctrine of apparent authority in respect of government contracts, has been restated to mean that the government is NOT bound by unauthorized acts of its agents, even though within the apparent scope of their authority. Under the law on agency, however, “apparent authority” is defined as the power to affect the legal relations of another person by transactions with third persons arising from the other’s manifestations to such third person such that the liability of the principal for the acts and contracts of his agent extends to those which are within the apparent scope of the authority conferred on him, although no actual authority to do such acts or to make such contracts has been conferred.

Apparent authority, or what is sometimes referred to as the “holding out” theory, or doctrine of ostensible agency, imposes liability, not as the result of the reality of a contractual relationship, but rather because of the actions of a principal or an employer in somehow misleading the public into believing that the relationship or the authority exists. The existence of apparent authority may be ascertained through (1) the general manner in which the corporation holds out an officer or agent as having the power to act or, in other words, the apparent authority to act in general, with which it clothes him; or (2) the acquiescence in his acts of a particular nature, with actual or constructive knowledge thereof, whether within or beyond the scope of his ordinary powers. It requires presentation of evidence of similar act(s) executed either in its favor or in favor of other parties.

Easily discernible from the foregoing is that apparent authority is determined only by the acts of the principal and not by the acts of the agent. The principal is, therefore, not responsible where the agent’s own conduct and statements have created the apparent authority.

In this case, not a single act of respondent, acting through its Board of Directors, was cited as having clothed its general manager with apparent authority to execute the contract with it. Sargasso Construction & Development Corporation / Pick & Shovel, Inc./Atlantic Erectors, Inc./ Joint Venture vs. Philippine Ports Authority, G.R. No. 170530, July 5, 2010.

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May 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

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

Civil Procedure

Appeal; direct appeal to Supreme Court from trial court decision improper.  Records show that on December 13, 2004, the trial court rendered a Decision finding that petitioner can execute judgment on the additional attorney’s fees but only up to the extent of P1,000,000.00, not the entire amount of P20,000,000.00 as prayed for in his petition.  Petitioner received a copy of the assailed decision on December 22, 2004.  Petitioner moved for reconsideration on December 29, 2004, but the same was denied in the trial court’s Order dated March 1, 2005.  Petitioner received a copy of the challenged order on March 7, 2005.  On March 17, 2005, instead of appealing the assailed decision and order of the trial court to the Court of Appeals via a notice of appeal under Section 2(a) of Rule 41 of the Rules, petitioner filed a petition for review on certiorari directly with this Court, stating that the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to an excess of jurisdiction, and that there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy available in the ordinary course of law.  This is a procedural misstep.  Although denominated as petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, petitioner, in questioning the decision and order of the trial court which were rendered in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, should have taken the appeal to the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from notice of the trial court’s March 1, 2005 Order, i.e., within 15 days counted from March 7, 2005 (date of receipt of the appealed order), or until March 22, 2005, by filing a notice of appeal with the trial court which rendered the decision and order appealed from and serving copies thereof upon the adverse party pursuant to Sections 2(a) and 3 of Rule 41.  Clearly, when petitioner sought to assail the decision and order of the trial court, an appeal to the Court of Appeals was the adequate remedy which he should have availed of, instead of filing a petition directly with this Court.  Hicoblo M. Catly (deceased), subtituted by his wife, Lourdes A. Catly vs. William Navarro, et al., G.R. No. 167239, May 5, 2010

Appeal; failure to properly indicate appealing party; ground for dismissal.  With respect to the first case against Marcelina, we resolve to dismiss the appeal of Felisa.  Section 5 of Rule 45 provides that the failure of the petitioner to comply, among others, with the contents of the petition for review on certiorari shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof.  Section 4 of the same rule mandates, among others, that the petition should state the full name of the appealing party as the petitioner.  In this case, Felisa indicated in the caption as well as in the parties portion of the petition that she is the landowner.  Even in the verification and certification of non-forum shopping, Felisa attested that she is the petitioner in the instant case.  However, it appears in the PARAD records that the owners of the subject 14,000-square meter agricultural land are Rosa R. Pajarito (Pajarito), Elvira A. Madolora (Madolora) and Anastacia F. Lagado (Lagado).  Felisa is only the representative of the said landowners with respect to the first case against Marcelina.  Thus, for failure of Felisa to indicate the appealing party with respect to the said case, the appeal must perforce be dismissed.  However, such failure does not affect the appeal on the other three cases as Felisa is the owner/co-owner of the landholdings subject of said three cases.  Felisa Ferrer vs. Domingo Carganillo, et al., G.R. No. 170956, May 12, 2010

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March 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

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

Civil Procedure

Actions; action for reformation of instrument; requisites. For an action for reformation of instrument to prosper, the following requisites must concur: (1) there must have been a meeting of the minds of the parties to the contract; (2) the instrument does not express the true intention of the parties; and (3) the failure of the instrument to express the true intention of the parties is due to mistake, fraud, inequitable conduct or accident.  Petitioner having admitted the existence and execution of the instrument, what remains to be resolved is whether the contract expressed the true intention of the parties; if not, whether it was due to mistake, fraud, inequitable conduct or accident.  The onus probandi is upon the party who insists that the contract should be reformed.  Notarized documents, like the deed in question [i.e., “Sale and Transfer of Rights over a Portion of a Parcel of Land”], enjoy the presumption of regularity which can be overturned only by clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant evidence.  This petitioner failed to discharge.  Flordeliza Emilio vs. Bilma Rapal, G.R. No. 181855, March 30, 2010.

Actions; annulment of judgment. The Court finds that petitioner properly availed of the remedy of a petition for annulment of judgment in challenging the Manila RTC Decision.  In his petition with the appellate court, he did not limit his ground to extrinsic fraud, as he invoked as well the Manila RTC’s lack of jurisdiction to annul the proceedings in the Pagadian RTC which is a court of co-equal and coordinate jurisdiction.  Since petitioner’s petition raised lack of jurisdiction, he did not have to allege that the ordinary remedies of new trial, reconsideration or appeal were no longer available through no fault of his.  This is so because a judgment rendered or final order issued by the RTC without jurisdiction is null and void and may be assailed any time either collaterally or in a direct action, or by resisting such judgment or final order in any action or proceeding whenever it is invoked.  Jose Cabaral Tiu v. First Plywood Corporation/Jose Cabaral Tiu vs. Timber Exports, Inc. Angel Domingo, Country Bankers Ins. Corp., Perfecto Mondarte, Jr. and Cesar Dacal, G.R. No. 176123/G.R. No.  185265, March 10, 2010

Actions; attack on title. The petitioners contend that this action for quieting of title should be disallowed because it constituted a collateral attack on OCT No. RO-9969-(O-20449), citing Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, viz:

Section 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack.– A certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law.

The petitioners’ contention is not well taken.  An action or proceeding is deemed an attack on a title when its objective is to nullify the title, thereby challenging the judgment pursuant to which the title was decreed.  The attack is direct when the objective is to annul or set aside such judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the other hand, the attack is indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an attack on the judgment is nevertheless made as an incident thereof.  Teofisto Oño, et al. vs. Vicente N. Lim, G.R. No. 154270, March 9,  2010

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January 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

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

Civil Procedure

Appeal; factual findings of administrative agencies. We stress the settled rule that the findings of fact of administrative bodies, such as the SEC, will not be interfered with by the courts in the absence of grave abuse of discretion on the part of said agencies, or unless the aforementioned findings are not supported by substantial evidence.  These factual findings carry even more weight when affirmed by the CA.  They are accorded not only great respect but even finality, and are binding upon this Court, unless it is shown that the administrative body had arbitrarily disregarded or misapprehended evidence before it to such an extent as to compel a contrary conclusion had such evidence been properly appreciated.  By reason of the special knowledge and expertise of administrative agencies over matters falling under their jurisdiction, they are in a better position to pass judgment thereon. A review of the petition does not show any reversible error committed by the appellate court; hence, the petition must be denied.  Petitioner failed to present any argument that would convince the Court that the SEC and the CA made any misappreciation of the facts and the applicable laws such that their decisions should be overturned. Catmon Sales International Corporation vs. Atty. Manuel D. Yngson, Jr. as Liquidator of Catmon Sales International Corporation, G.R. No. 179761, January 15, 2010.

Appeal; factual findings of administrative agencies. No matter how hard it tries to learn the technical intricacies of certain highly regulated human activities, the Supreme Court will always be inadequately equipped to identify the facts that matter when resolving issues involving such activities.  Invariably, the Court must respect the factual findings of administrative agencies which have expertise on matters that fall within their jurisdiction.  Here, since the HLURB has the expertise in applying zonal classifications on specific properties and since petitioner GEA fails to make out a clear case that it has erred, the Court must rely on its finding that respondent EGI’s land site does not, for the purpose of applying height restrictions, adjoin an R-1 zone. Greenhills East Association, Inc. vs. E. Ganzon, Inc., G.R. No. 169741, January 22, 2010.

Appeal; factual findings of lower courts. In the case at bench, the issues raised by the petitioners are essentially factual matters, the determination of which are best left to the courts below.  Well-settled is the rule that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts.  Factual findings of the lower courts are entitled to great weight and respect on appeal, and in fact accorded finality when supported by substantial evidence on the record. Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla of evidence.  It is that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, even if other minds, equally reasonable, might conceivably opine otherwise.  But to erase any doubt on the correctness of the assailed ruling, we have carefully perused the records and, nonetheless, arrived at the same conclusion.  We find that there is substantial evidence on record to support the Court of Appeals and trial court’s conclusion that the signatures of Julian and Guillerma in the Deed of Absolute Sale were forged. Spouses Patricio and Myrna Bernales vs. Heirs of Julian Sambaan, et al., G.R. No. 163271, January 15, 2010.

Appeal; factual findings of lower courts. Conclusions and findings of fact by the trial court are entitled to great weight on appeal and should not be disturbed unless for strong and cogent reasons because the trial court is in a better position to examine real evidence, as well as to observe the demeanor of the witnesses while testifying in the case.  The fact that the CA adopted the findings of fact of the trial court makes the same binding upon this court.  In Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, we held that factual findings of the CA which are supported by substantial evidence are binding, final and conclusive upon the Supreme Court.  A departure from this rule may be warranted where the findings of fact of the CA are contrary to the findings and conclusions of the trial court, or when the same is unsupported by the evidence on record.  There is no ground to apply the exception in the instant case, however, because the findings and conclusions of the CA are in full accord with those of the trial court. Spouses Patricio and Myrna Bernales v. Heirs of Julian Sambaan, et al., G.R. No. 163271, January 15, 2010.

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January 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected January 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law and related laws:

Civil Code

Agency; principle of undisclosed principal. It is a general rule in the law of agency that, in order to bind the principal by a mortgage on real property executed by an agent, it must upon its face purport to be made, signed and sealed in the name of the principal, otherwise, it will bind the agent only. It is not enough merely that the agent was in fact authorized to make the mortgage, if he has not acted in the name of the principal. Neither is it ordinarily sufficient that in the mortgage the agent describes himself as acting by virtue of a power of attorney, if in fact the agent has acted in his own name and has set his own hand and seal to the mortgage. This is especially true where the agent himself is a party to the instrument. However clearly the body of the mortgage may show and intend that it shall be the act of the principal, yet, unless in fact it is executed by the agent for and on behalf of his principal and as the act and deed of the principal, it is not valid as to the principal. Far East Bank and Trust Company (Now Bank of the Philippine Islands) and Rolando Borja, Deputy Sherrif vs. Sps. Ernesto and Leonor C. Cayetano, G.R. No. 179909, January 25, 2010.

Contract; element of consent; causal fraud. In order that fraud may vitiate consent to a contract, it must be the causal (dolo causante), not merely the incidental (dolo incidente), inducement to the making of the contract. Additionally, the fraud must be serious. In this case, causal fraud necessary to justify the annulment of the contract of sale between the parties was absent. It is clear from the records that petitioners agreed to sell their property to the buyers. The petitioners’ belief that the fraud employed by the buyers was “already operational at the time of the perfection of the contract of sale” is incorrect. The Buyers’ misrepresentation — that the postdated check (covering the purchase price for the property) would not bounce on its maturity — hardly equates to dolo causante. The buyers’ assurance that the check issued was fully funded was not the principal inducement for the petitioners to sign the Deed of Absolute Sale. Even before the buyers issued the check, the parties had already consented and agreed to the sale transaction. The petitioners were never tricked into selling their property to the buyer. On the contrary, they willingly accepted his offer to purchase the property at P3,000,000. In short, there was a meeting of the minds as to the object of the sale as well as the consideration therefor. Spouses Carmen Tongson and Jose Tongson vs. Emergency Pawnshop Bula, Inc. et al., G.R. No. 167874, January 15, 2010.

Contract; interpretation. There is nothing in the subject Extrajudicial Settlement to indicate any express stipulation for petitioner and respondents to continue with their supposed co-ownership of the contested lot. On the contrary, a plain reading of the provisions of the Extrajudicial Settlement would not, in any way, support petitioner’s contention that it was his and his sibling’s intention to buy the subject property from the Bank and continue what they believed to be co-ownership thereof. It is a cardinal rule in the interpretation of contracts that the intention of the parties shall be accorded primordial consideration. It is the duty of the courts to place a practical and realistic construction upon it, giving due consideration to the context in which it is negotiated and the purpose which it is intended to serve. Such intention is determined from the express terms of their agreement, as well as their contemporaneous and subsequent acts. Absurd and illogical interpretations should also be avoided. Petitioner’s contention that he and his siblings intended to continue their supposed co-ownership of the subject property contradicts the provisions of the subject Extrajudicial Settlement where they clearly manifested their intention of having the subject property divided or partitioned by assigning to each of the petitioner and respondents a specific 1/3 portion of the same. Partition calls for the segregation and conveyance of a determinate portion of the property owned in common. It seeks a severance of the individual interests of each co-owner, vesting in each of them a sole estate in a specific property and giving each one a right to enjoy his estate without supervision or interference from the other. In other words, the purpose of partition is to put an end to co-ownership, an objective which negates petitioner’s claims in the present case. Celestino Balus vs. Saturnino Balus and Leonarda Balus vda. De Calunod, G.R. No. 168970, January 15, 2010.

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December 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected December 2009 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Appeal;  certiorari. The proper remedy of a party aggrieved by a decision of the Court of Appeals is a petition for review under Rule 45, which is not similar to a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. As provided in Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, decisions, final orders or resolutions of the Court of Appeals in any case, i.e., regardless of the nature of the action or proceedings involved, may be appealed to this Court by filing a petition for review, which would be but a continuation of the appellate process over the original case. On the other hand, a special civil action under Rule 65 is an independent action based on the specific grounds therein provided and, as a general rule, cannot be availed of as a substitute for the lost remedy of an ordinary appeal, including that under Rule 45.  Santiago Cua, Jr., et al. vs. Miguel Ocampo Tan, et al./Santiago Cua,  Sr., et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et  al.G.R. No. 181455-56/G.R. No. 182008, December 4, 2009.

Appeal; decision of RTC acting in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. In the case at bar, it is clear that when the case was appealed to the RTC, the latter took cognizance of the case in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, not its original jurisdiction. Hence, any further appeal from the RTC Decision must conform to the provisions of the Rules of Court dealing with said matter. It is apparent that petitioner has availed itself of the wrong remedy. Since the RTC tried the case in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, petitioner should have filed a petition for review under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court, instead of an ordinary appeal under Rule 41. The law is clear in this respect. Barangay Sangalang, represented by its Chairman Dante C.  Marcellana vs. Barangay Maguihan, represented by its Chairman Arnulfo VillarezG.R. No. 159792, December 23, 2009.

Appeal;  failure to pay docket fees. The Order denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was silent as to the issue of the non-payment of docket fees; however, this Court deems that the RTC must have accepted the explanation given by respondent, otherwise, said court would have dismissed the appeal and reconsidered its decision. The failure to pay docket fees does not automatically result in the dismissal of an appeal, it being discretionary on the part of the appellate court to give it due course or not. This Court will then not interfere with matters addressed to the sound discretion of the RTC in the absence of proof that the exercise of such discretion was tainted with bias or prejudice, or made without due circumspection of the attendant circumstances of the case. Barangay Sangalang, represented by its Chairman Dante C.  Marcellana vs. Barangay Maguihan, represented by its Chairman Arnulfo VillarezG.R. No. 159792, December 23, 2009.

Appeal; findings of fact. As a rule, the findings of fact of the trial court when affirmed by the CA are final and conclusive on, and cannot be reviewed on appeal by, this Court as long as they are borne out by the records or are based on substantial evidence. The Court is not a trier of facts, its jurisdiction being limited to reviewing only errors of law that may have been committed by the lower courts. Republic of the Philippines vs. Ignacio Leonor and Catalino RazonG.R. No. 161424, December 23, 2009.

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