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Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
April-2006 Jurisprudence                 

  • A.M. No. 04-6-332-RTC - REPORT ON THE INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED ON THE ALLEGED SPURIOUS BAILBONDS ETC.

  • A.M. No. 2005-18-SC - RE: ANONYMOUS COMPLAINT AGAINST MR. RODEL M. GABRIEL

  • A.M. No. 2005-07-SC - RE: FAILURE OF JOSE DANTE E. GUERRERO TO REGISTER HIS TIME IN AND OUT ETC.

  • A.M. No. 2005-07-SC - RE: FAILURE OF JOSE DANTE E. GUERRERO TO REGISTER HIS TIME IN AND OUT ETC.

  • A.M. No. MTJ-04-1568 - THEODORE C. BRITANICO VS. JUDGE WENIE D. ESPINOSA ETC.

  • A.M. No. MTJ-04-1568 - THEODORE C. BRITANICO v. JUDGE WENIE D. ESPINOSA ETC.

  • A.M. No. P-03-1739 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR VS. NORMALYN P. NACURAY

  • A.M. No. P-06-2158 - JUDGE DOMINGO C. SAN JOSE, JR. VS. ROBERT T. CAMURONGAN

  • A.M. No. P-06-2110 and A.M. NO. P-03-1692 - CRISTETA D. ORFILA v. ESTIFANA S. ARELLANO

  • A.M. No. P-06-2159 - ABSENCE WITHOUT OFFICIAL LEAVE (AWOL) OF EDWIN V. GARROBO ETC.

  • A.M. No. P-06-2166 - DR. JOSEFA T. DIGNUM VS. PALAO M. DIAMLA, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. P-03-1739 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. NORMALYN P. NACURAY

  • A.M. No. P-06-2110 and A.M. NO. P-03-1692 - CRISTETA D. ORFILA v. ESTIFANA S. ARELLANO

  • A.M. No. P-06-2158 - JUDGE DOMINGO C. SAN JOSE, JR. v. ROBERT T. CAMURONGAN

  • A.M. No. P-06-2159 - ABSENCE WITHOUT OFFICIAL LEAVE (AWOL) OF EDWIN V. GARROBO ETC.

  • A.M. No. RTJ-05-1920, A. M. No. RTJ-99-1432, A.M. NO. RTJ-01-1623 adn A. M. No. 10425-Ret. - CONCERNED TRIAL LAWYERS OF MANILA VS. JUDGE LORENZO B. VENERACION

  • A.M. No. P-06-2166 - DR. JOSEFA T. DIGNUM v. PALAO M. DIAMLA, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. RTJ-06-1993 - AUGUSTUS M. GONZALES VS. JUDGE ANTONIO B. BANTOLO

  • A.M. No. RTJ-05-1941 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR VS. JUDGE LOURDES M. GARCIA-BLANCO, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. RTJ-06-1993 - AUGUSTUS M. GONZALES v. JUDGE ANTONIO B. BANTOLO

  • A.M. No. RTJ-05-1941 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. JUDGE LOURDES M. GARCIA-BLANCO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 132388 - RAFAEL M. FAJARDO, ET AL. v. MAYOR ALFREDO S. LIM, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122880 - FELIX AZUELA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 134030 - ASAPHIL CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION v. VICENTE TUASON, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 139762 - RADIO COMMUNICATIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 140862 - WILSON GO, ET AL. v. ANITA RICO

  • G.R. No. 141168 - ABESCO CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL. v. ALBERTO RAMIREZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 141393 - CATHERINE A. YEE v. HON. ESTRELLITA P. BERNABE

  • G.R. No. 143307 - LU DO, ET AL. v. AZNAR BROTHERS REALTY CO.

  • G.R. No. 144075 - DAVAO MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144320 - NATIVIDAD ARIAGA VDA. DE GURREA, ET AL. v. ENRIQUE SUPLICO

  • G.R. No. 145229 - ROMEO L. DAVALOS, SR. v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 145878 - MARCIANO BLANCO v. FELIMON RIVERA

  • G.R. No. 146217 - ANUNCIO C. BUSTILLO v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 146556 - DANILO L. PAREL v. SIMEON B. PRUDENCIO

  • G.R. No. 147748 - VISITACION GAVINA GAW v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 147912 - RUSSEL DE LOS SANTOS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148443 - COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE v. THE HONORABLE ROSE MARIE ALONZO - LEGASTO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148273 - MILAGROS SIMON, ET AL. v. GUIA W. CANLAS

  • G.R. No. 150280 - UNIVERSITY OF THE EAST v. MARIBETH ANG WONG

  • G.R. No. 152149 - BENJAMIN SUBIDO v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 153022 - NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION v. AGUSTIN A. ZOZOBRADO

  • G.R. No. 153827 - ASIAN CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION v. PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL BANK

  • G.R. No. 154282 - VANGIE BARRAZONA v. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 156521 - JULITO OPERIANO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 156615 - NICOLAS PADILLO v. MR. BADERE APAS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 157331 - ARNOLD ALVA v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 158268 - RHODA CASTOR-GARUPA v. ECC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 158637 - MARICALUM MINING CORPORATION v. ANTONIO DECORION

  • G.R. No. 158883 - PHILIPPINE TRANSMARINE CARRIERS, INC. v. JOHN MELCHOR A. LAURENTE

  • G.R. No. 159354 - UNITED PHILIPPINE LINES, INC., ET AL. v. FRANCISCO D. BESERIL

  • G.R. No. 159507 - ANICETO G. SALUDO, JR. v. AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 159457 - NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION v. PHILIPPINE ELECTRIC PLANT OWNERS ASSOCIATION (PEPOA), INC

  • G.R. No. 159828 - KASAPIAN NG MALAYANG MANGGAGAWA SA COCA-COLA v. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 159887 - BERNARDO REMIGIO v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 160351 - NOEL VILLANUEVA v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 160614 - LEONARDO M. DALWAMPO, ET AL. v. QUINOCOL FARMERS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 161811 - THE CITY OF BAGUIO, ET AL. v. FRANCISCO NI O, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 162774 - SPS. EDMUNDO T. OSEA AND LIGAYA R. OSEA v. ANTONIO G. AMBROSIO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 163269 - ROLANDO C. RIVERA v. SOLIDBANK CORPORATION

  • G.R. No. 163217 - CELESTINO MARTURILLAS v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 164225 - JUHARY A. GALO v. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 164774 - STAR PAPER CORPORATION, ET AL. v. RONALDO D. SIMBOL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 164929 - ERNELIZA Z. MAMARIL v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

  • G.R. No. 165727 - TOWER INDUSTRIAL SALES, ET AL. v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 165881 - OSCAR VILLAMARIA, JR. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 165910 - HANJIN ENGINEERING, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 165934 - United Philippine Lines, Inc., et al. v. Francisco D. Beseril

  • G.R. No. 166040 - Niel F. Llave v. People of the Philippines

  • G.R. No. 167033 - ESTRELITA "NENG" JULIANO v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167193 - IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS v. ENGR. ASHRAF KUNTING

  • G.R. No. 167048 - MARIETTA T. CAUGMA, ET AL. v. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167639 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. PRINCIPALIA MANAGEMENT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167798 and G.R. NO. 167930 - KILUSANG MAYO UNO, ET AL. v. THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167959 - FILIPINAS SYSTEMS "FILSYSTEMS," INC., ET AL. VS. ERNESTO GATLABAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 168222 - SPS. TEODULO RUMARATE, ET AL. v. HILARIO HERNANDEZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 168736 - SPS. ADELINA S. CUYCO AND FELICIANO U. CUYCO v. SPS. RENATO CUYCO AND FILIPINA CUYCO

  • G.R. No. 168821 - GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (GSIS) v. JAIME A. VALENCIANO

  • G.R. No. 169108 - INTERCONTINENTAL BROADCASTING CORPORATION (IBC-13) v. HON. ROSE MARIE ALONZO LEGASTO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 169393 - TONY L. BENWAREN v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 169777, G.R. NO. 169659, G.R. NO. 169660, G.R. NO. 169667, G.R. NO. 169834 and G.R. NO. 171246 - SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL. v. EDUARDO R. ERMITA ETC.

  • G.R. No. 170695 - UNITED OVERSEAS BANK PHILIPPINES, INC. v. SIONY CHING AND TOWNTEC REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORP

  • G.R. No. 169838, G.R. NO. 169848 and G.R. NO. 169881 - BAYAN, ET AL. v. EDUARDO ERMITA, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 159507 - ANICETO G. SALUDO, JR. v. AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC., ET AL.

      G.R. No. 159507 - ANICETO G. SALUDO, JR. v. AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC., ET AL.

    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    FIRST DIVISION

    [G.R. NO. 159507 : April 19, 2006]

    ANICETO G. SALUDO, JR., Petitioner, v. AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC., and/or IAN T. FISH and DOMINIC MASCRINAS, Respondents.

    D E C I S I O N

    CALLEJO, SR., J.:

    Before the Court is the Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by Aniceto G. Saludo, Jr. seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated May 22, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 69553. The assailed decision directed the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Maasin City, Southern Leyte, Branch 25 thereof, to vacate and set aside its Orders dated September 10, 2001 and January 2, 2002 in Civil Case No. R-3172, and enjoined the presiding judge2 thereof from conducting further proceedings in said case, except to dismiss the complaint filed therewith on ground of improper venue. The petition also seeks to reverse and set aside the appellate court's Resolution dated August 14, 2003 denying the motion for reconsideration of the assailed decision.

    The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:

    Aniceto G. Saludo, Jr. filed a complaint for damages against the American Express International, Inc. (AMEX) and/or its officers Ian T. Fish, Vice-President and Country Manager, and Dominic Mascrinas, Head of Operations, with the RTC of Maasin City, Southern Leyte. The case was raffled to Branch 25 of the said court.

    The complaint alleged, inter alia, that plaintiff (herein petitioner Saludo) "is a Filipino citizen, of legal age, and a member of the House of Representatives and a resident of Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte, Philippines." On the other hand, defendant (herein respondent AMEX, Inc.) "is a corporation doing business in the Philippines and engaged in providing credit and other credit facilities and allied services with office address at 4th floor, ACE Building, Rada Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City." The other defendants (herein respondents Fish and Mascrinas) are officers of respondent AMEX, and may be served with summons and other court processes at their office address.

    The complaint's cause of action stemmed from the alleged wrongful dishonor of petitioner Saludo's AMEX credit card and the supplementary card issued to his daughter. The first dishonor happened when petitioner Saludo's daughter used her supplementary credit card to pay her purchases in the United States some time in April 2000. The second dishonor occurred when petitioner Saludo used his principal credit card to pay his account at the Hotel Okawa in Tokyo, Japan while he was there with other delegates from the Philippines to attend the Congressional Recognition in honor of Mr. Hiroshi Tanaka.

    The dishonor of these AMEX credit cards were allegedly unjustified as they resulted from respondents' unilateral act of suspending petitioner Saludo's account for his failure to pay its balance covering the period of March 2000. Petitioner Saludo denied having received the corresponding statement of account. Further, he was allegedly wrongfully charged for late payment in June 2000. Subsequently, his credit card and its supplementary cards were canceled by respondents on July 20, 2000.

    Petitioner Saludo claimed that he suffered great inconvenience, wounded feelings, mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation and besmirched political and professional standing as a result of respondents' acts which were committed in gross and evident bad faith, and in wanton, reckless and oppressive manner. He thus prayed that respondents be adjudged to pay him, jointly and severally, actual, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees.

    In their answer, respondents specifically denied the allegations in the complaint. Further, they raised the affirmative defenses of lack of cause of action and improper venue. On the latter, respondents averred that the complaint should be dismissed on the ground that venue was improperly laid because none of the parties was a resident of Leyte. They alleged that respondents were not residents of Southern Leyte. Moreover, notwithstanding the claim in his complaint, petitioner Saludo was not allegedly a resident thereof as evidenced by the fact that his community tax certificate, which was presented when he executed the complaint's verification and certification of non-forum shopping, was issued at Pasay City. To buttress their contention, respondents pointed out that petitioner Saludo's complaint was prepared in Pasay City and signed by a lawyer of the said city. Respondents prayed for the dismissal of the complaint a quo.

    Thereafter, respondents filed an Opposition to Ex-Parte Motion (to Set Case for Pre-Trial) and Motion for Preliminary Hearing (on Affirmative Defense of Improper Venue) to which petitioner Saludo filed his Comments and/or Objections to the Affirmative Defense of Improper Venue. He asserted that any allegation refuting his residency in Southern Leyte was baseless and unfounded considering that he was the congressman of the lone district thereof at the time of the filing of his complaint. He urged the court a quo to take judicial notice of this particular fact. As a member of Congress, he possessed all the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution including that of being a resident of his district. He was also a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Southern Leyte Chapter, and has been such ever since his admission to the Bar. His community tax certificate was issued at Pasay City only because he has an office thereat and the office messenger obtained the same in the said city. In any event, the community tax certificate is not determinative of one's residence.

    In the Order dated September 10, 2001, the court a quo denied the affirmative defenses interposed by respondents. It found the allegations of the complaint sufficient to constitute a cause of action against respondents. The court a quo likewise denied respondents' affirmative defense that venue was improperly laid. It reasoned, thus:

    x x x [T]he fact alone that the plaintiff at the time he filed the complaint was and still is, the incumbent Congressman of the Lone District of Southern Leyte with residence at Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte, is enough to dispell any and all doubts about his actual residence. As a high-ranking government official of the province, his residence there can be taken judicial notice of. As such his personal, actual and physical habitation or his actual residence or place of abode can never be in some other place but in Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte. It is correctly stated by the plaintiff, citing the case of Core v. Core, 100 Phil. 321 that, "residence, for purposes of fixing venue of an action, is synonymous with domicile. This is defined as the permanent home, the place to which, whenever absent for business or pleasure, one intends to return, and depends on the facts and circumstances, in the sense that they disclose intent. A person can have but one domicile at a time. A man can have but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have numerous places of residence. Venue could be at place of his residence. (Masa v. Mison, 200 SCRA 715 [1991])3

    Respondents sought the reconsideration thereof but the court a quo denied the same in the Order dated January 2, 2002. They then filed with the appellate court a petition for certiorari and prohibition alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the presiding judge of the court a quo in issuing the September 10, 2001 and January 2, 2002 Orders. Upon respondents' posting of a bond, the appellate court issued on March 14, 2002 a temporary restraining order which enjoined the presiding judge of the court a quo from conducting further proceedings in Civil Case No. R-3172.

    On May 22, 2003, the appellate court rendered the assailed decision granting respondents' petition for certiorari as it found that venue was improperly laid. It directed the court a quo to vacate and set aside its Orders dated September 10, 2001 and January 2, 2002, and enjoined the presiding judge thereof from further proceeding in the case, except to dismiss the complaint.

    The appellate court explained that the action filed by petitioner Saludo against respondents is governed by Section 2, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court. The said rule on venue of personal actions basically provides that personal actions may be commenced and tried where plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, at the election of plaintiff.

    Venue was improperly laid in the court a quo, according to the appellate court, because not one of the parties was a resident of Southern Leyte. Specifically, it declared that petitioner Saludo was not a resident thereof. The appellate court pronounced that, for purposes of venue, the residence of a person is his personal, actual or physical habitation, or his actual residence or place of abode, which may not necessarily be his legal residence or domicile provided he resides therein with continuity and consistency.4

    The appellate court quoted the following discussion in Koh v. Court of Appeals5 where the Court distinguished the terms "residence" and "domicile" in this wise:

    x x x [T]he term domicile is not exactly synonymous in legal contemplation with the term residence, for it is [an] established principle in Conflict of Laws that domicile refers to the relatively more permanent abode of a person while residence applies to a temporary stay of a person in a given place. In fact, this distinction is very well emphasized in those cases where the Domiciliary Theory must necessarily supplant the Nationality Theory in cases involving stateless persons.

    x x x x

    "There is a difference between domicile and residence. Residence is used to indicate a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary; domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one has the intention of returning. A man may have a residence in one place and a domicile in another. Residence is not domicile, but domicile is residence coupled with intention to remain for an unlimited time. A man can have but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have numerous places of residence. His place of residence generally is his place of domicile, but is not by any means, necessarily so since no length of residence without intention of remaining will constitute domicile."6 (Italicized for emphasis)

    In holding that petitioner Saludo is not a resident of Maasin City, Southern Leyte, the appellate court referred to his community tax certificate, as indicated in his complaint's verification and certification of non-forum shopping, which was issued at Pasay City. Similarly, it referred to the same community tax certificate, as indicated in his complaint for deportation filed against respondents Fish and Mascrinas. Under Republic Act No. 7160,7 the community tax certificate shall be paid in the place of residence of the individual, or in the place where the principal office of the juridical entity is located.8 It also pointed out that petitioner Saludo's law office, which was also representing him in the present case, is in Pasay City. The foregoing circumstances were considered by the appellate court as judicial admissions of petitioner Saludo which are conclusive upon him and no longer required proof.

    The appellate court chided the court a quo for stating that as incumbent congressman of the lone district of Southern Leyte, judicial notice could be taken of the fact of petitioner Saludo's residence thereat. No evidence had yet been adduced that petitioner Saludo was then the congressman of Southern Leyte and actual resident of Ichon, Macrohon of the said province.

    The appellate court held that, based on his complaint, petitioner Saludo was actually residing in Pasay City. It faulted him for filing his complaint with the court a quo when the said venue is inconvenient to the parties to the case. It opined that under the rules, the possible choices of venue are Pasay City or Makati City, or any place in the National Capital Judicial Region, at the option of petitioner Saludo.

    It stressed that while the choice of venue is given to plaintiff, said choice is not left to his caprice and cannot deprive a defendant of the rights conferred upon him by the Rules of Court.9 Further, fundamental in the law governing venue of actions that the situs for bringing real and personal civil actions is fixed by the rules to attain the greatest possible convenience to the party litigants by taking into consideration the maximum accessibility to them - i.e., to both plaintiff and defendant, not only to one or the other - of the courts of justice.10

    The appellate court concluded that the court a quo should have given due course to respondents' affirmative defense of improper venue in order to avoid any suspicion that petitioner Saludo's motive in filing his complaint with the court a quo was only to vex and unduly inconvenience respondents or even to wield influence in the outcome of the case, petitioner Saludo being a powerful and influential figure in the said province. The latter circumstance could be regarded as a "specie of forum shopping" akin to that in Investors Finance Corp. v. Ebarle11 where the Court mentioned that the filing of the civil action before the court in Pagadian City "was a specie of forum shopping" considering that plaintiff therein was an influential person in the locality.

    The decretal portion of the assailed Decision dated May 22, 2003 of the appellate court reads:

    UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THIS CASE, THUS, the challenged orders must be, as they hereby are, VACATED and SET ASIDE and the respondent judge, or any one acting in his place or stead, is instructed and enjoined to desist from further proceeding in the case, except to dismiss it. The temporary restraining order earlier issued is hereby converted into a writ of preliminary injunction, upon the posting this time by petitioners [herein respondents], within five (5) days from receipt of this decision, of a bond in the amount of Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00), to answer for all damages that private respondent [herein petitioner] may sustain by reason of the issuance of such injunction should the Court finally decide that petitioners are not entitled thereto. Private respondent, if he so minded, may refile his case for damages before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City or Pasay City, or any of the Regional Trial Courts of the National Capital Judicial Region. Without costs.

    SO ORDERED.12

    Petitioner Saludo sought the reconsideration of the said decision but the appellate court, in the Resolution dated August 14, 2003, denied his motion for reconsideration. Hence, he filed the instant Petition for Review with the Court alleging that:

    The Court of Appeals, (Special Fourth Division), in promulgating the afore-mentioned Decision and Resolution, has decided a question of substance in a way probably not in accord with law or with applicable decisions of this Honorable Court.

    (a) the Court of Appeals erred in not taking judicial notice of the undisputed fact that herein petitioner is the incumbent congressman of the lone district of Southern Leyte and as such, he is a residence (sic) of said district;

    (b) the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the complaint on the basis of improper venue due to the alleged judicial admission of herein petitioner;

    (c) the Court of Appeals in dismissing the complaint ignored applicable decisions of this Honorable Court; andςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

    (d) the Court of Appeals erred in deciding that herein petitioner violated the rules on venue, and even speculated that herein petitioner's motive in filing the complaint in Maasin City was only to vex the respondents.13

    In gist, the sole substantive issue for the Court's resolution is whether the appellate court committed reversible error in holding that venue was improperly laid in the court a quo in Civil Case No. R-3172 because not one of the parties, including petitioner Saludo, as plaintiff therein, was a resident of Southern Leyte at the time of filing of the complaint.

    The petition is meritorious.

    Petitioner Saludo's complaint for damages against respondents before the court a quo is a personal action. As such, it is governed by Section 2, Rule 4 of the Rules of Courts which reads:

    SEC. 2. Venue of personal actions. - All other actions may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.

    The choice of venue for personal actions cognizable by the RTC is given to plaintiff but not to plaintiff's caprice because the matter is regulated by the Rules of Court.14 The rule on venue, like other procedural rules, is designed to insure a just and orderly administration of justice, or the impartial and evenhanded determination of every action and proceeding.15 The option of plaintiff in personal actions cognizable by the RTC is either the place where defendant resides or may be found, or the place where plaintiff resides. If plaintiff opts for the latter, he is limited to that place.16

    Following this rule, petitioner Saludo, as plaintiff, had opted to file his complaint with the court a quo which is in Maasin City, Southern Leyte. He alleged in his complaint that he was a member of the House of Representatives and a resident of Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte to comply with the residency requirement of the rule.

    However, the appellate court, adopting respondents' theory, made the finding that petitioner Saludo was not a resident of Southern Leyte at the time of the filing of his complaint. It hinged the said finding mainly on the fact that petitioner Saludo's community tax certificate, indicated in his complaint's verification and certification of non-forum shopping, was issued at Pasay City. That his law office is in Pasay City was also taken by the appellate court as negating petitioner Saludo's claim of residence in Southern Leyte.

    The appellate court committed reversible error in finding that petitioner Saludo was not a resident of Southern Leyte at the time of the filing of his complaint, and consequently holding that venue was improperly laid in the court a quo. In Dangwa Transportation Co., Inc. v. Sarmiento,17 the Court had the occasion to explain at length the meaning of the term "resides" for purposes of venue, thus:

    In Koh v. Court of Appeals, we explained that the term "resides" as employed in the rule on venue on personal actions filed with the courts of first instance means the place of abode, whether permanent or temporary, of the plaintiff or the defendant, as distinguished from "domicile" which denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the intention of returning.

    "It is fundamental in the law governing venue of actions (Rule 4 of the Rules of Court) that the situs for bringing real and personal civil actions are fixed by the rules to attain the greatest convenience possible to the parties-litigants by taking into consideration the maximum accessibility to them of the courts of justice. It is, likewise, undeniable that the term domicile is not exactly synonymous in legal contemplation with the term residence, for it is an established principle in Conflict of Laws that domicile refers to the relatively more permanent abode of a person while residence applies to a temporary stay of a person in a given place. In fact, this distinction is very well emphasized in those cases where the Domiciliary Theory must necessarily supplant the Nationality Theory in cases involving stateless persons.

    "This Court held in the case of Uytengsu v. Republic, 50 O.G. 4781, October, 1954, reversing its previous stand in Larena v. Ferrer, 61 Phil. 36, and Nuval v. Guray, 52 Phil. 645, that -

    'There is a difference between domicile and residence. Residence is used to indicate a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary; domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one has the intention of returning. A man may have a residence in one place and a domicile in another. Residence is not domicile, but domicile is residence coupled with the intention to remain for an unlimited time. A man can have but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have numerous places of residence. His place of residence generally is his place of domicile, but is not by any means, necessarily so since no length of residence without intention of remaining will constitute domicile.' (Italicized for emphasis)

    "We note that the law on venue in Courts of First Instance (Section 2, of Rule 4, Rules of Court) in referring to the parties utilizes the words 'resides or may be found,' and not 'is domiciled,' thus:

    'Sec. 2(b) Personal actions - All other actions may be commenced and tried where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found, or where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides, at the election of the plaintiff.' (Italicized for emphasis)

    "Applying the foregoing observation to the present case, We are fully convinced that private respondent Coloma's protestations of domicile in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, based on his manifested intention to return there after the retirement of his wife from government service to justify his bringing of an action for damages against petitioner in the C.F.I. of Ilocos Norte, is entirely of no moment since what is of paramount importance is where he actually resided or where he may be found at the time he brought the action, to comply substantially with the requirements of Sec. 2(b) of Rule 4, Rules of Court, on venue of personal actions." (Koh v. Court of Appeals, supra, pp. 304-305.)

    The same construction of the word "resides" as used in Section 1, Rule 73, of the Revised Rules of Court, was enunciated in Fule v. Court of Appeals, et al. (G.R. No. L-40502) and Fule v. Hon. Ernani C. Paño, et al. (G.R. No. L-42670), decided on November 29, 1976. Thus, this Court, in the aforecited cases, stated:

    "2. But, the far-ranging question is this: What does the term 'resides' mean? Does it refer to the actual residence or domicile of the decedent at the time of his death? We lay down the doctrinal rule that the term 'resides' connotes ex vi termini 'actual residence' as distinguished from 'legal residence or domicile.' This term 'resides,' like the terms 'residing' and 'residence' is elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or purposes of the statute or rule in which it is employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules - Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature - residence rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the statute uses the word 'domicile' still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. Some cases make a distinction between the terms 'residence' and 'domicile' but as generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term 'inhabitant.' In other words, 'resides' should be viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's domicile. No particular length of time of residence is required though; however, the residence must be more than temporary."18

    There is no dispute that petitioner Saludo was the congressman or the representative of the lone district of Southern Leyte at the time of filing of his complaint with the court a quo. Even the appellate court admits this fact as it states that "it may be conceded that private respondent ever so often travels to Maasin City, Southern Leyte, because he is its representative in the lower house."19

    As a member of the House of Representatives, petitioner Saludo was correctly deemed by the court a quo as possessing the requirements for the said position,20 including that he was then a resident of the district which he was representing, i.e., Southern Leyte. Significantly, for purposes of election law, the term "residence" is synonymous with "domicile," thus:

    x x x [T]he Court held that "domicile" and "residence" are synonymous. The term "residence," as used in the election law, imports not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. "Domicile" denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent for business or pleasure, or for like reasons, one intends to return. x x x21

    It can be readily gleaned that the definition of "residence" for purposes of election law is more stringent in that it is equated with the term "domicile." Hence, for the said purpose, the term "residence" imports "not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention."22 When parsed, therefore, the term "residence" requires two elements: (1) intention to reside in the particular place; and (2) personal or physical presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. As the Court elucidated, "the place where a party actually or constructively has a permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain, i.e., his domicile, is that to which the Constitution refers when it speaks of residence for the purposes of election law."23

    On the other hand, for purposes of venue, the less technical definition of "residence" is adopted. Thus, it is understood to mean as "the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's domicile."24

    Since petitioner Saludo, as congressman or the lone representative of the district of Southern Leyte, had his residence (or domicile) therein as the term is construed in relation to election laws, necessarily, he is also deemed to have had his residence therein for purposes of venue for filing personal actions. Put in another manner, Southern Leyte, as the domicile of petitioner Saludo, was also his residence, as the term is understood in its popular sense. This is because "residence is not domicile, but domicile is residence coupled with the intention to remain for an unlimited time."

    Reliance by the appellate court on Koh v. Court of Appeals25 is misplaced. Contrary to its holding,26 the facts of the present case are not similar to the facts therein. In Koh, the complaint was filed with the Court of First Instance in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte by plaintiff who admitted that he was a resident of Kamias, Quezon City. Save for the fact that he grew up in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte and that he manifested the intent to return there after retirement, plaintiff therein had not established that he was actually a resident therein at the time of the filing of his complaint. Neither did he establish that he had his domicile therein because although he manifested the intent to go back there after retirement, the element of personal presence in that place was lacking. To reiterate, domicile or residence, as the terms are taken as synonyms, imports "not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention."27

    In contrast, petitioner Saludo was the congressman or representative of Southern Leyte at the time of filing of his complaint with the court a quo. Absent any evidence to the contrary, he is deemed to possess the qualifications for the said position, including that he was a resident therein. And following the definition of the term "residence" for purposes of election law, petitioner Saludo not only had the intention to reside in Southern Leyte, but he also had personal presence therein, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. The latter element, or his bodily presence as an inhabitant in Southern Leyte, was sufficient for petitioner Saludo to be considered a resident therein for purposes of venue.

    The following ratiocination of the court a quo is apt:

    Residence in civil law is a material fact, referring to the physical presence of a person in a place. A person can have two or more residences, such as a country residence and a city residence. (Quetulio v. Ruiz, S.C. Off. Gaz. 156, Commentaries and Jurisprudence in Civil Law, Vol. 1, page 211, Tolentino). Residence is acquired by living in a place; on the other hand, domicile can exist without actually living in the place. The important thing for domicile is that, once residence has been established in one place, there be an intention to stay there permanently, even if residence is also established in some other place.

    Thus, if a person lives with his family habitually in Quezon City, he would have his domicile in Quezon City. If he also has a house for vacation purposes in the City of Baguio, and another house in connection with his business in the City of Manila, he would have residence in all three places (Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on Civil Law, Vol. 1, Page 212, 1990 Edition) so that one[']s legal residence or domicile can also be his actual, personal or physical residence or habitation or place of abode if he stays there with intention to stay there permanently.

    In the instant case, since plaintiff has a house in Makati City for the purpose of exercising his profession or doing business and also a house in Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte, for doing business and/or for election or political purposes where he also lives or stays physically, personally and actually then he can have residences in these two places. Because it would then be preposterous to acknowledge and recognize plaintiff Aniceto G. Saludo, Jr. as congressman of Southern Leyte without also recognizing him as actually, personally and physically residing thereat, when such residence is required by law.28

    The fact then that petitioner Saludo's community tax certificate was issued at Pasay City is of no moment because granting arguendo that he could be considered a resident therein, the same does not preclude his having a residence in Southern Leyte for purposes of venue. A man can have but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have numerous places of residence.29

    That petitioner Saludo was the congressman or representative of the lone district of Southern Leyte at the time of the filing of his complaint was admitted as a fact by the court a quo. In this connection, it consequently held that, as such, petitioner Saludo's residence in Southern Leyte, the district he was the representing, could be taken judicial notice of. The court a quo cannot be faulted for doing so because courts are allowed "to take judicial notice of matters which are of public knowledge, or are capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions." 30 Courts are likewise bound to take judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the law in force in the Philippines, 31 including its Constitution.

    The concept of "facts of common knowledge" in the context of judicial notice has been explained as those facts that are "so commonly known in the community as to make it unprofitable to require proof, and so certainly known to as to make it indisputable among reasonable men." 32 Moreover, "though usually facts of 'common knowledge' will be generally known throughout the country, it is sufficient as a basis for judicial notice that they be known in the local community where the trial court sits." 33 Certainly, the fact of petitioner Saludo being the duly elected representative of Southern Leyte at the time could be properly taken judicial notice of by the court a quo, the same being a matter of common knowledge in the community where it sits.

    Further, petitioner Saludo's residence in Southern Leyte could likewise be properly taken judicial notice of by the court a quo. It is bound to know that, under the Constitution, one of the qualifications of a congressman or representative to the House of Representatives is having a residence in the district in which he shall be elected.

    In fine, petitioner Saludo's act of filing his complaint with the court a quo cannot be characterized as a "specie of forum-shopping" or capricious on his part because, under the rules, as plaintiff, he is precisely given this option.

    Finally, respondents' claim that the instant Petition for Review was not properly verified by petitioner Saludo deserves scant consideration.

    Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court reads:

    Sec. 4. Verification. - Except when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit.

    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.

    A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on "information and belief," or upon "knowledge, information and belief," or lacks proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.

    Petitioner Saludo's verification and certification of non-forum shopping states that he has "read the contents thereof [referring to the petition] and the same are true and correct of my own personal knowledge and belief and on the basis of the records at hand." The same clearly constitutes substantial compliance with the above requirements of the Rules of Court.

    WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated May 22, 2003 and Resolution dated August 14, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 69553 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders dated September 10, 2001 and January 2, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court of Maasin City, Southern Leyte, Branch 25 thereof, in Civil Case No. R-3172 are REINSTATED.

    SO ORDERED.


    Endnotes:


    1 Penned by Associate Justice Renato C. Dacudao, with Associate Justices Godardo A. Jacinto (Chairman) and Rodrigo V. Cosico, concurring; rollo, pp. 24-30.

    2 Honorable Romeo M. Gomez.

    3 Rollo, pp. 104-105.

    4 Citing Boleyley v. Hon. Villanueva, 373 Phil. 141, 146 (1999).

    5 G.R. No. L-40428, March 31, 1976, 70 SCRA 298.

    6 Id. at 305.

    7 Local Government Code of 1991.

    8 Id., Section 160 thereof.

    9 Citing, among others, Baritua v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 12, 18 (1997).

    10 Koh v. Court of Appeals, supra note 5.

    11 G.R. No. L-70640, June 29, 1988, 163 SCRA 60.

    12 Rollo, p. 30.

    13 Id. at 10.

    14 Escuerte v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 53485, February 6, 1991, 193 SCRA 541.

    15 Id. at 544.

    16 Id.

    17 G.R. No. L-22795, January 31, 1977, 75 SCRA 124.

    18 Id. at 127-129.

    19 CA Decision, p. 5; rollo, p. 26.

    20 Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution reads:

    No person shall be a Member of the House of Representatives unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at least twenty-five years of age, able to read and write, and, except the party-list representatives, a registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected, and a resident thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election.

    21 Papandayan, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 430 Phil. 754, 770 (2002).

    22 Id..

    23 Perez v. Commission on Elections, 375 Phil. 1106, 1117 (1999).

    24 Dangwa Transportation Co., Inc. v. Sarmiento, supra note 17, at 129.

    25 Supra note 5.

    26 In its Resolution dated August 14, 2003 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration, the appellate court stated that the pertinent facts in the case are similar to Koh; rollo, p. 38.

    27 See, for example, Dangwa Transportation Co., Inc. v. Sarmiento, supra note 17, at 127.

    28 Order dated January 2, 2002 of the court a quo; rollo, p. 116.

    29 Dangwa Transportation Co., Inc. v. Sarmiento, supra note 17, at 128.

    30 Section 2, Rule 129, Rules of Court.

    31 HERRERA, IV REMEDIAL LAW 78 (1999 ed.), citing 5 MORAN 58 (1980 ed.). Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court reads:

    Judicial notice, when mandatory. - A court shall take judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial extent of states, their political history, forms of government and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political constitution and history of the Philippines, the official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the geographical divisions.

    32 Id. at 81, citing MCCORMICK, EVIDENCE, 4th ed.

    33 Id.

    G.R. No. 159507 - ANICETO G. SALUDO, JR. v. AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC., ET AL.


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