Bautista v. CA: 157219 : May 28, 2004 : J. Ynares-Santiago : First
Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 157219 : May 28, 2004]
NATIVIDAD E. BAUTISTA, CLEMENTE E. BAUTISTA and SOCORRO L.
ANGELES, Petitioners, v. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS,
MANILA PAPERMILLS, INTERNATIONAL, INC., ADELFA PROPERTIES, INC. and SPOUSES RODOLFO
JAVELLANA and NELLY JAVELLANA, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, seeking the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 72307 dated February 17, 2003.1 cralawred
The facts are not in dispute.
On August 12, 1999, petitioners Natividad E. Bautista, Clemente
E. Bautista and Socorro L. Angeles filed a complaint against respondent Manila
Papermills, International, Inc., before the RTC of Imus, Cavite, Branch 22,
docketed as Civil Case No. 1948-99, for quieting of title.2 This complaint was later amended to implead respondents Adelfa Properties, Inc.
and the spouses Rodolfo and Nelly Javellana.3 cralawred
Petitioners alleged in their Amended Complaint that they have
been in actual and uninterrupted possession of Lot 5753 of the Imus Estate;
that they discovered that the land was covered by a reconstituted title in the
name of respondents; and that the said title and the derivatives thereof are
Hence, they prayed that they
be declared the absolute owners of the land in dispute.
After several delays spanning more than two years, the case was
finally set for trial.
However, on May
2, 2002, petitioners filed an Urgent Motion for Postponement to cancel the hearing
on the ground that Atty. Michael Macaraeg, the lawyer assigned to the case was
in the United States attending to an important matter.
The trial court denied petitioners motion for postponement and
considered them as having waived the presentation of their evidence.
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied.
Petitioners filed a special civil action for certiorariwith the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R.
SP No. 72307.
On February 17, 2003, the
Court of Appeals denied due course to the petition for certiorari and dismissed
Hence, this petition on the following assignment of errors:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
1.The respondent Court
of Appeals erred in failing to consider the partiality and prejudice of the
trial court against the petitioners since the inception of the case thereby
depriving the petitioners of their constitutionally guaranteed right to due
process (Padua v. Ericta, 161 SCRA 458);chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
2.As a consequence, the
respondent appellate court denied the petitioners of their chance to present
evidence even after satisfactorily explaining the failure of petitioners
counsel to attend the scheduled hearing the due process guarantee was violated
(Continental Leaf Tobacco [Phil.]),
Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 140 SCRA 269). 4 cralawred
Petitioners claim that the arbitrary acts of the trial court have
resulted in the denial of their right to due process, and that the Court of
Appeals erred in holding that the trial court did not commit grave abuse of
discretion in issuing the challenged Orders.
Petitioners further aver that the trial judge displayed
noticeable partiality and prejudice in dealing with their case, by granting
several continuances to respondents while denying petitioners Urgent Motion
for Postponement.5 They cite four instances wherein respondents were granted extensions to file
responsive pleadings and two instances wherein respondents requests for
postponement were similarly granted.6 An extension to file a responsive pleading is clearly different from a request
for a postponement of trial.
is less likely to waste the time of the court, the litigants, their counsels
and witnesses who may have already prepared for the trial and traveled to the
courthouse to attend the hearing.
specifically, out of the two postponements prayed for by respondents, one was
for the cancellation of a court date unilaterally requested by petitioners which
has not been approved by the trial court.7 cralawred
On the other hand, the trial court, in its Order dated July 2,
2002, clearly stated that petitioners motions for postponement on three
previous occasions were granted.8 This was never refuted by petitioners.
last motion for postponement was, however, denied because it was filed on the
very date of the hearing sought to be rescheduled.9 cralawred
In Gohu v. Spouses
Gohu ,10 we ruled that, far from being tainted with bias and prejudice, an order declaring
a party to have waived the right to present evidence for performing dilatory
actions upholds the courts duty to ensure that trial proceeds despite the
deliberate delay and refusal to proceed on the part of one party.11 cralawred
Petitioners contention that they were denied due process is not
Where a party was afforded
an opportunity to participate in the proceedings but failed to do so, he cannot
complain of deprivation of due process. Due process is satisfied as long as the
party is accorded an opportunity to be heard.
If it is not availed of, it is deemed waived or forfeited without
violating the constitutional guarantee.12 cralawred
Moreover, the grant of a motion for continuance or postponement
is not a matter of right.
addressed to the sound discretion of the court.Action thereon will not be disturbed by appellate courts, in the
absence of clear and manifest abuse of discretion resulting in a denial of
substantial justice.13 In other words, we cannot make a finding of grave abuse of discretion simply
because a court decides to proceed with the trial of a case rather than
postpone the hearing to another day, because of the absence of a party.
That the absence of a party during trial
constitutes a waiver of his right to present evidence and cross-examine the
opponents witnesses is firmly supported by jurisprudence. To constitute grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the refusal of
the court to postpone the hearing must be characterized by arbitrariness or
After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find that the
Court of Appeals did not err in finding that no grave abuse of discretion was committed
by the trial court in denying petitioners motion for postponement and declaring
them as having waived their right to present evidence.
WHEREFORE, in view of
the foregoing, the petition is DENIED.
decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 72307 which dismissed the
special civil action for certiorari , is AFFIRMED.
Panganiban, Carpio, and
Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., on official
1 Rollo, p. 28. Penned by Justice
Eubulo G. Verzola and concurred in by Justices Sergio L. Pestao and Amelita G.
10 G.R. No. 128230, 13 October 2000, 343 SCRA 114.
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