Piltel v. Tecson : 156966 : May 7, 2004 : J. Vitug : Third Division :
[G.R. NO. 156966 : May 7, 2004]
PILIPINO TELEPHONE CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. DELFINO TECSON, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
The facts, by and large, are undisputed.
On various dates in 1996, Delfino C. Tecson applied for six (6)
cellular phone subscriptions with petitioner Pilipino Telephone Corporation
a company engaged in the telecommunications business, which
applications were each approved and covered, respectively, by six mobiline
On 05 April 2001, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court
of Iligan City,
Lanao Del Norte, a
complaint against petitioner for a Sum of Money and Damages.
Petitioner moved for the dismissal of the
complaint on the ground of improper venue, citing a common provision in the
mobiline service agreements to the effect that -
Venue of all suits arising from this Agreement or any other suit
directly or indirectly arising from the relationship between PILTEL and
subscriber shall be in the proper courts of Makati, Metro Manila.
Subscriber hereby expressly waives any other
In an order, dated 15 August 2001, the Regional Trial Court of
Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, denied petitioners motion to dismiss and
required it to file an answer within 15 days from receipt thereof.
Petitioner PILTEL filed a motion for the reconsideration, through
registered mail, of the order of the trial court.In its subsequent order, dated 08 October 2001, the trial court
denied the motion for reconsideration.
Petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure
before the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals, in its decision of 30 April 2002, saw no
merit in the petition and affirmed the assailed orders of the trial court.
Petitioner moved for a reconsideration, but
the appellate court, in its order of 21 January 2003, denied the motion.
There is merit in the instant petition.
Section 4, Rule 4, of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure2 allows the parties to agree and stipulate in writing, before the filing of an
action, on the exclusive venue of any litigation between them.
Such an agreement would be valid and binding
provided that the stipulation on the chosen venue is exclusive in nature or in intent,
that it is expressed in writing by the parties thereto, and that it is entered
into before the filing of the suit.
provision contained in paragraph 22 of the Mobile Service Agreement, a
standard contract made out by petitioner PILTEL to its subscribers, apparently
accepted and signed by respondent, states that the venue of all suits arising
from the agreement, or any other suit directly or indirectly arising from the
relationship between PILTEL and subscriber, shall be in the proper courts of
Makati, Metro Manila.
The added stipulation
that the subscriber expressly waives any other venue3 should indicate, clearly enough, the intent of the parties to consider the
venue stipulation as being preclusive in character.
The appellate court, however, would appear to anchor its decision
on the thesis that the subscription agreement, being a mere contract of
adhesion, does not bind respondent on the venue stipulation.
Indeed, the contract herein involved is a contract of
But such an agreement is not per
The rule instead
is that, should there be ambiguities in a contract of adhesion, such
ambiguities are to be construed against the party that prepared it.
If, however, the stipulations are not
obscure, but are clear and leave no doubt on the intention of the parties, the
literal meaning of its stipulations must be held controlling.4 cralawred
A contract of adhesion is just as binding as ordinary
It is true that this Court
has, on occasion, struck down such contracts as being assailable when the
weaker party is left with no choice by the dominant bargaining party and is
thus completely deprived of an opportunity to bargain effectively.
Nevertheless, contracts of adhesion are not
prohibited even as the courts remain careful in scrutinizing the factual
circumstances underlying each case to determine the respective claims of
contending parties on their efficacy.
In the case at bar, respondent secured six (6) subscription
contracts for cellular phones on various dates.It would be difficult to assume that, during each of those times,
respondent had no sufficient opportunity to read and go over the terms and
conditions embodied in the agreements.
Respondent continued, in fact, to acquire in the pursuit of his business
subsequent subscriptions and remained a subscriber of petitioner for quite
In Development Bank of the Philippines v. National
Merchandising Corporation,5 the contracting parties, being of age and businessmen of experience, were
presumed to have acted with due care and to have signed the assailed documents
with full knowledge of their import.
The situation would be no less true than that which obtains in the
The circumstances in Sweet
Lines, Inc. v. Teves,6 wherein this Court invalidated the venue stipulation contained in the passage
ticket, would appear to be rather peculiar to that case.
There, the Court took note of an acute
shortage in inter-island vessels that left passengers literally scrambling to
secure accommodations and tickets from crowded and congested counters.
Hardly, therefore, were the passengers
accorded a real opportunity to examine the fine prints contained in the
tickets, let alone reject them.
A contract duly executed is the law between the parties, and they
are obliged to comply fully and not selectively with its terms.
A contract of adhesion is no exception.7 cralawred
WHEREFORE, the instant
petition is GRANTED, and the questioned decision and resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 68104 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Civil Case No. 5572 pending before the
Regional Trial Court of Iligan City, Branch 4, is DISMISSED without prejudice
to the filing of an appropriate complaint by respondent against petitioner with
the court of proper venue.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
2 SEC. 4.
When Rule not applicable. This
Rule shall not apply.
(a) In thosecases where a specific rule or law provides otherwise; or
(b) Where the parties have validly agreed in
writing before the filing of the action on the exclusive venue thereof.
5 G.R. NOS. L-22957 & L-23737, 31 August 1971 (40 SCRA 624).
6 G.R. No. L-37750, 19 May 1978 (83 SCRA 361).
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