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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
 

   
November-2006 Jurisprudence                 

  • A.C. No. 6266 - ESTELA ANASTACIO-BRIONES vs ATTY. ALFREDO A. ZAPANTA

  • A.C. No. 7123 - MARIA DIVINA CRUZ-VILLANUEVA vs ATTY. CARLOS P. RIVERA, ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 7214 - AILEEN A. FERANCULLO vs ATTY. SANCHO M. FERANCULLO, JR.

  • A.C. No. 6266 - ESTELA ANASTACIO-BRIONES vs ATTY. ALFREDO A. ZAPANTA

  • A.C. No. 7123 - MARIA DIVINA CRUZ-VILLANUEVA vs ATTY. CARLOS P. RIVERA, ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 7214 - AILEEN A. FERANCULLO vs ATTY. SANCHO M. FERANCULLO, JR.

  • A.C. No. 6266 - ESTELA ANASTACIO-BRIONES vs ATTY. ALFREDO A. ZAPANTA

  • A.C. No. 7123 - MARIA DIVINA CRUZ-VILLANUEVA vs ATTY. CARLOS P. RIVERA, ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 7214 - AILEEN A. FERANCULLO vs ATTY. SANCHO M. FERANCULLO, JR.

  • Adm. Case No. 7252 - CBD 05-1434 - JOHNNY NG vs ATTY. BENJAMIN C. ALAR

  • A.C. No. 7280 - DAHLIA S. GACIAS vs ATTY. ALEXANDER BULAUITAN

  • A.M. No. 06-4-219-RTC - RE: REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT AND PHYSICAL INVENTORY

  • A.M. No. 2004-15-SC - PROSECUTOR AGAPITO B. ROSALES vs ENGR. CELERINO BUENAVENTURA

  • A.M. No. 2005-26-SC - RE: LOST CHECKS ISSUED TO THE LATE RODERICK ROY P. MELLIZA, ETC.

  • A.M. No. MTJ-03-1503 - NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION vs JUDGE LUISITO T. ADAOAG

  • A.M. No. MTJ-06-1660 - Formerly A.M. No. OCA IPI 04-1519-MTJ - SPOUSES TREFIL AND LINA A. UMALE vs JUDGE NICOLAS V. FADUL, JR.

  • A.M. No. P-03-1731 - PNB MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION vs CARMELO CACHERO

  • A.M. No. P-03-1737 - Formerly OCA IPI No. 01-1250-P - NICOLAS PACLIBAR vs RENAN V. PAMPOSA

  • A.M. No. P-05-2092 - ATTY. PERFECTO A.S. LAGUIO, JR. vs MILA AMANTE-CASICAS

  • A.M. No. P-05-1979 - JUDGE LEONARDO P. CARREON vs ERIC ANTHONY S. ORTEGA

  • A.M. No. P-06-2109 - LIGAYA V. REYES vs MARIO PABLICO

  • A.M. No. P-06-2204 - NYDIA S. SERVINO vs MA. MAWILYNN CONCEPCION B. ADOLFO

  • A.M. No. P-06-2266 - ENCARNACION FLORES vs ROMEO S. GATCHECO, JR.

  • A.M. No. P-06-2257 - SPS. ARTHUR and LEONORA STILGROVE vs ERIBERTO R. SABAS, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. P-06-2268 - BIENVENIDO L. PUNZALAN vs RUMEL M. MACALISANG

  • A.M. No. RTJ-05-1901 - FORTUNE LIFE INSURANCE, COMPANY, INC. vs JUDGE JIMMY H. F. LUCZON, JR.

  • A.M. No. RTJ-06-2002 - ROCKLAND CONSTRUCTION CO., INC. vs JUDGE MARIANO M. SINGZON, JR.

  • G.R. No. 74269 & 92137 - SOLID HOMES, INC., ET AL. vs HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127636 - E. ROMMEL REALTY AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL. vs STA. LUCIA REALTY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

  • G.R. No. 126890 - UNITED PLANTERS SUGAR MILLING COMPANY, INC. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 129820 - PNOC-ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION vs EMILIANO G. VENERACION, JR.

  • G.R. No. 132834 - RUPERTO LUCERO, JR., ET AL. vs CITY GOVERNMENT OF PASIG

  • G.R. No. 135817 - REYNALDO RODRIGUEZ, ET AL. vs CONCORDIA ONG LIM, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 140371-72 - DY YIENG SEANGIO, ET AL. vs AMOR A. REYES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 140833 - LACEPI T. MAGNANAO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 141480 - CARLOS B. DE GUZMAN vs TOYOTA CUBAO, INC.

  • G.R. No. 142351 - ST. MARTIN FUNERAL HOMES vs NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143219 - ASIAN TERMINALS, INC. vs RENATO P. VILLANUEVA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143382 - SECURITY BANK and TRUST COMPANY vs MAR TIERRA CORPORATION, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144062 - THE BASES CONVERSION AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, ET AL. vs ELPIDIO UY

  • G.R. No. 146707 - ERNESTO DUMLAO, JR., ET AL. vs RODOLFO PONFERRADA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148090 - STRONGHOLD INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. vs NEMESIO S. FELIX, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148490 - 7K CORPORATION vs NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 148500-01 - TIMES TRANSPORTATION CO. INC. vs NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 148839-40 - NAGKAHIUSANG MAMUMUO SA PICOP RESOURCES, INC. - SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES FEDERATION OF LABOR (NAMAPRI - SPFL), ET AL. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148971 - ALBERTO GARONG vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 149633 - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GABRIEL S. CASAL, ET AL. v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT

  • G.R. No. 149748 - JANG LIM, ET AL vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 149753 - Miguel Cosme, Jr. v. People of the Philippines

  • G.R. NO. 149764 - PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION vs ENRIQUE GUTIERREZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 150253 - DAVAO LIGHT AND POWER CORPORATION, INC. vs ANTONIO G. DIAZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 150402 - EPARWA SECURITY AND JANITORIAL SERVICES, INC. vs LICEO DE CAGAYAN UNIVERSITY

  • G.R. No. 152258 - ROGELIO P. ANTALAN vs ANIANO DESIERTO

  • G.R. No. 152984 - WILLIAM G. KWONG vs ATTY. RAMON GARGANTOS, ET AL.

  • G.R. NO. 154006 - STAR PAPER CORPORATION vs CARLITO ESPIRI TU, ET AL.

  • G.R. NO. 154565 - REMEDIOS RAMOS vs TESSIE PABAS

  • G.R. No. 154685 - METROPOLITAN BANK and TRUST COMPANY, ET AL. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 155645 - PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, INC. vs MAYFLOR T. YLAGAN

  • G.R. No. 155574 - TIMOTEO A. GARCIA vs SANDIGANBAYAN

  • G.R. No. 156294 - MELVA THERESA ALVIAR GONZALES vs RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORPORATION

  • G. R. No. 156888 - PEDRO R. SANTIAGO vs SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY

  • G.R. No. 156903 - SPOUSES CARLOS and TERESITA RUSTIA vs EMERITA RIVERA

  • G.R. No. 157107 - ALPINE LENDING INVESTORS, ET AL. vs ESTRELLA CORPUZ

  • G.R. No. 157117 - COASTAL SUBIC BAY TERMINAL, INC. vs DEPARTMENT OF LABOR and EMPLOYMENT, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 157236-45 - ROMEO D. LONZANIDA vs SANDIGANBAYAN

  • G.R. No. 157906 - JOAQUINITA P. CAPILI vs SPS. DOMINADOR CARDAÑA and ROSALITA CARDAÑA,

  • G.R. No. 158676 - BPI-FAMILY SAVINGS BANK, INC. vs SPS. ZENAIDA DOMINGO & ABUNDIO S. DOMINGO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 158707 - COMMUNITY RURAL BANK OF SAN ISIDRO (N.E.), INC. vs YSAGANI V. PAEZ

  • G.R. NOS. 157294-95 - JOSEPH VICTOR G. EJERCITO vs SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 158960 - LORNA FRANCES FILIPINO vs F. WALTER R. MACABUHAY

  • G.R. No. 159373 - JOSE R. MORENO, JR. vs PRIVATE MANAGEMENT OFFICE

  • G.R. No. 159991 - CARMELINO F. PANSACOLA vs COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE

  • G.R. No. 159734 and G.R. NO. 159745 - ROSARIO V. ASTUDILLO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 160347 - ARCADIO and MARIA LUISA CARANDANG vs HEIRS OF QUIRINO A. DE GUZMAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 160618 - DENNIS D. SY vs METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY

  • G.R. No. 160805 - SPOUSES ADIEL DE LA CENA and CARIDAD AREVALO DE LA CENA vs SPOUSES JOSE BRIONES and HERMINIA LLEDO BRIONES

  • G.R. No. 161086 - CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION vs COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 161136 - WILFREDO VAGILIDAD, ET AL. vs GABINO VAGILIDAD, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 161115 - DOLE PHILIPPINES, INC. vs MEDEL ESTEVA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 162037 - Heirs of Enrique Diaz v. Elinor A. Virata

  • G.R. No. 162243, G.R. No. 164516 & G.R. No. 171875 - HEHERSON ALVAREZ vs PICOP RESOURCES, INC.

  • G.R. No. 162308 - G & M PHILIPPINES, INC. vs ROMIL V. CUAMBOT

  • G.R. No. 162331 - LEPANTO CONSOLIDATED MINING CO. vs WMC RESOURCES INT L. PTY. LTD., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 162366 - FEDERICA M. SERRANO, ET AL. vs SPOUSES ANSELMO GUTIERREZ AND CARMELITA GUTIERREZ

  • G.R. No. 163735 - GREEN ASIA CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 163712 - METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, ET AL. vs JOSE B. TAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 163763 - MALAYAN REALTY, INC. vs UY HAN YONG

  • G.R. No. 164300 - SPOUSES BENJAMIN AND AGRIFINA SIM vs M.B. FINANCE CORPORATION

  • G.R. No. 164321 - SKECHERS, U.S.A., INC. vs INTER PACIFIC INDUSTRIAL TRADING CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 164545 - LORBE REBUCAN y BALTAZAR vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 165038 - HEIRS OF EMILIO R. DOMINGO AND FELICIDAD CORNEJO, ET AL. vs THE HEIRS OF CLARITA D. MARTIN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 164858 - HENRY P. LANOT vs COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS

  • G.R. No. 165724 - ZAMORA REALTY and DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL. vs OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 165879 - MARIA B. CHING vs JOSEPH C. GOYANKO, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166403 - BENZON O. ALDEMITA vs HEIRS OF MELQUIADES SILVA

  • G.R. NOS. 166143-47 and G.R. NO. 166891 - ABDUSAKUR M. TAN, ET AL. vs COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166496 - JOSEFA BAUTISTA FERRER vs SPS. MANUEL M. FERRER, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166501 - ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR. vs HON. BAYANI F. FERNANDO

  • G.R. No. 166649 - ROBERT B. CABUYOC vs INTER-ORIENT NAVIGATION SHIPMANAGEMENT, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166833 - FELIXBERTO CUBERO, ET AL. vs LAGUNA WEST MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166837 - LIGAYA S. ORBETA vs RUBEN P. ORBETA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167680 - SAMUEL PARILLA, ET AL. vs DR. PROSPERO PILAR

  • G.R. No. 167723 - CLUB FILIPINO, INC. vs ROMEO ARAULLO

  • G.R. No. 167743 - HILARIO P. SORIANO vs OMBUDSMAN SIMEON V. MARCELO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167844 - OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 168035 - MELANIE M. MESINA, ET AL. vs GLORIA C. GARCIA

  • G.R. No. 168718 - OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs FARIDA T. LUCERO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 168694 - THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs SAIDAMIN MACABALANG y MALAMAMA

  • G.R. No. 169193 - SPOUSES ILUMINADA CAPITLE and CIRILO CAPITLE vs FORTUNATA ELBAMBUENA, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 169295-96 - REMINGTON INDUSTRIAL SALES CORPORATION vs ERLINDA CASTANEDA

  • G.R. No. 169341 - City of Cebu v. Vicente B. Del Rosario

  • G.R. No. 169578 - TERESITA DIO vs ST. FERDINAND MEMORIAL PARK, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 169698 - LUPO ATIENZA vs YOLANDA DE CASTRO

  • G.R. No. 169891 - PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RAILWAYS vs ETHEL BRUNTY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 170220 - JOSEFINA S. LUBRICA, ET AL. vs LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 170522 - CELSO LOPEZ OCATE vs COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 170829 - Perla G. Patricio v. Marcelino G. Dario III, et al.

  • G.R. No. 171102 - ATP TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL, INC. vs MICRON PRECISION PHILS., INC.

  • G.R. No. 170840 - THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs GREGORIO CARPIO @ "GORIO"

  • G.R. No. 171144 - SANTOS L. NACAYTUNA vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. NOS. 171322-24 - MARIANITO S. VICTORIANO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 172274 - ROMEO D. CABARLO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G. R. No. 171447 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs FEDERICO ARNAIZ y ARMONIO

  • G.R. No. 173290 - ZENAIDA M. LIMBONA vs JUDGE RALPH S. LEE, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 162366 - FEDERICA M. SERRANO, ET AL.  vs  SPOUSES ANSELMO GUTIERREZ AND CARMELITA GUTIERREZ

      G.R. No. 162366 - FEDERICA M. SERRANO, ET AL. vs SPOUSES ANSELMO GUTIERREZ AND CARMELITA GUTIERREZ

    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    THIRD DIVISION

    [G.R. NO. 162366 : November 10, 2006]

    FEDERICA M. SERRANO, LUCILA M. RAZON, ARMANDO M. LAYUG AND ROMEO MORALES, Petitioners, v. SPOUSES ANSELMO GUTIERREZ AND CARMELITA GUTIERREZ, Respondents.

    D E C I S I O N

    TINGA, J.:

    This present petition marks the final level of appellate review over an action for forcible entry initially filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Lubao, Pampanga. While the MTC had originally dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Court of Appeals, in the exercise of their appellate jurisdiction, saw it fit to rule for respondents who filed the complaint.

    The antecedent facts, as culled from the records, follow.

    On 22 March 2000, the spouses Anselmo and Carmelita Gutierrez (respondents) filed a complaint for forcible entry with application for a writ of preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction with temporary restraining order and damages1 against Federica M. Serrano, Lucila M. Razon, Armando Layug and Romeo Morales (petitioners) before the MTC of Lubao, Pampanga. The subject of the complaint was an 11,780 square meter untenanted agricultural land situated at San Roque Dau I, Lubao, Pampanga, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 468395-R. The complaint alleged, among others, that:

    2. Plaintiffs are the registered owners of an untenanted parcel of agricultural land located at San Roque Dau I, Lubao, Pampanga, containing an area of 11,780 square meters evidenced by TCT No. 468395-R of the Register of Deeds of Pampanga, a copy of which being hereto attached as Annex "A" hereof;

    3. That in February 2000 or thereabout, defendants, by means of strategy and stealth, without [sic] absolutely no right but acting as landgrabbers, criminally entered the above-mentioned premises of plaintiffs, constructed concrete structures thereat and dumped truckload of filling materials into the aforesaid property without the knowledge and consent of the plaintiffs, thus rendering the land unsuitable for agricultural purposes for which it is intended. x x x

    4. That plaintiffs confronted the defendants and demanded for [sic] them to vacate the subject premises, demolish and remove the structures they had constructed and to remove the lahar-filling materials they dumped thereon but said defendants refused to do so without any justifiable reason.2

    Respondents, in their Answer,3 denied the allegations in the complaint. By way of affirmative defenses, respondents claimed that the subject land was a portion of the estate of Albino Morales, and as heirs of Albino Morales, they were in actual, adverse, continuous and physical possession thereof.

    The MTC ordered the parties to submit their position papers and evidence to support their corresponding claims. Petitioners' evidence consisted, among others, of the following: (1) Original Certificate of Title No. 7980; (2) the Deed of Absolute Sale, evidencing petitioner's acquisition of said property from Pedro Layug and Guillermo Layug; (3) the Deed of Waiver and Quitclaim executed by Ricardo B. Razon in favor of Carmelita Gutierrez and Warren Gutierrez; (4) Transfer Certificate of Title No. 468395 in the name of Carmelita Gutierrez; and (5) Tax Declaration No. A-08028-3281 in the name of Carmelita Gutierrez.4 Respondents, on the other hand, presented the following documents: (1) Tax Declaration No. 08028-0016, and (2) Official Receipt Nos. 6440364, 6440365, 6440366, and 6440787 as proofs of tax payment.5 All these documents were presented by the parties to establish their respective claims for ownership or right of possession.

    The MTC rendered its Decision6 dated 22 February 2001, where it found that the real issue involved the question of ownership and not mere possession de facto since both parties claimed that they were the absolute, lawful and legal owners of the aforesaid property. Thus, the lower court refused to assume jurisdiction by insisting that it can only resolve the issue of possession de facto and not de jure,7 and consequently, dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

    Respondents duly appealed to the RTC of Guagua, Pampanga, Branch 53. On 16 July 2001, the RTC rendered its Decision8 ordering petitioners to vacate the premises and surrender possession of subject lot to respondents. Interestingly, the trial court cited its approval of the dismissal by the MTC for lack of jurisdiction. Nevertheless, invoking the second paragraph of Section 8, Rule 409 of the Rules of Court, the RTC deemed itself capable of resolving the issue of ownership and thus ruling in favor of respondents. It held:

    It may be true that the defendants are heirs of Albino Morales whose claim of ownership over the lot in question is solely based on Tax Declarations and Official Receipts marked as Exhs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6[,] respectively. But to the mind of the Court, these exhibits are of no consequence. These exhibits are and have no [sic] matched, nor outweighed the plaintiffs' evidence marked as Exhibit - "D" which is a title covering the land in question registered in the name of the herein plaintiffs.

    Torrens Title unless annulled and/or cancelled is the highest form of evidence of ownership over a parcel of land.

    x x x

    Hence, the evidence on record preponderates in favor of the plaintiffs.

    The plaintiffs have the Torrens Title over the land in question, and as registered owners thereof, they have the exclusive right to use, enjoy and possess the same because these rights are undeniably attributes of ownership.10

    Aggrieved by said order, petitioners filed a Petition for Review before the Court of Appeals questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC on the ground that the instant case involves an agricultural land and thus, appropriate jurisdiction vested with the DARAB. Petitioners further questioned the adjudication of ownership in a mere ejectment case.

    On 21 May 2003, the Court of Appeals promulgated the assailed Decision11 affirming the judgment of the RTC.

    The appellate court disposed of the jurisdictional issue by declaring that contrary to the pronouncements of the two (2) lower courts, the MTC retains jurisdiction over the instant ejectment case even if the issue involved was ownership. At the same time, the

    appellate court sustained the RTC's direct adjudication of the case instead of remanding the same to the MTC. It observed that since the parties have already presented their evidence on the merits of the case before the MTC and the trial court's decision was based on these evidence, the purpose of remand, which is to afford parties an opportunity to present evidence, has been served.12

    Petitioners filed their motion for reconsideration but it was denied in a Resolution dated 10 February 2004.

    The present petition raises a lone issue which again involves an alleged jurisdictional defect. Petitioners argue that the trial court erroneously applied the second paragraph of Section 8, Rule 40 of the Rules of Court in deciding the ejectment case brought to it on appeal by respondents. Petitioners contend that since the MTC acted without jurisdiction, the RTC can only decide the case on appeal if it has original jurisdiction. Petitioners proffer that the assessed value of the subject property is less than P20,000.00, thus outside the jurisdiction of the RTC. Petitioners also question the award of attorney's fees for lack of basis.

    We find no merit in the cause of petitioners.

    The MTC clearly erred in dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction. Section 33 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691, states:

    (1) x x x x

    (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and unlawful detainer: Provided, That when, in such cases, the defendant raises the question of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of ownership shall be resolved only to determine the issue of possession.

    (3) x x x x

    Section 16, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court further affirms this provisional determination of ownership in ejectment cases, thus:

    Sec. 16. Resolving defense of ownership. When the defendant raises the defense of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of ownership shall be resolved only to determine the issue of possession.

    As the law now stands, inferior courts have jurisdiction to resolve questions of ownership whenever it is necessary to decide the question of possession in an ejectment case.13

    Corollarily, the RTC erred when it agreed with the MTC's decision to dismiss the case. Along with the erroneous premise, the RTC also blundered in applying Section 8, Rule 40 of the Rules of Court. The provision reads:

    Sec. 8. Appeal from orders dismissing case without trial; lack of jurisdiction. If an appeal is taken from an order of the lower court dismissing the case without a trial on the merits, the Regional Trial Court may affirm or reverse it, as the case may be. In case of affirmance and the ground of dismissal is lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court, if it has jurisdiction thereover, shall try the case on the merits as if the case was originally filed with it. In case of reversal, the case shall be remanded for further proceedings.

    If the case was tried on the merits by the lower court without jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court on appeal shall not dismiss the case if it has original jurisdiction thereof, but shall decide the case in accordance with the preceding section, without prejudice to the admission of amended pleadings and additional evidence in the interest of justice.

    The first paragraph contemplates an appeal from an order of dismissal issued without trial of the case on the merits.ςηαñrοblεš νιr υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

    On the other hand, the second paragraph deals with an appeal from an order of dismissal but the case was tried on the merits. Both paragraphs, however, involve the same ground for dismissal, i.e., lack of jurisdiction. Clearly, the Section is inapplicable to the present case since, as the Court of Appeals correctly held, the MTC had jurisdiction over this ejectment case even if the question of possession could be resolved without passing upon the issue of ownership.14

    Nonetheless, the RTC had appellate jurisdiction over the case and its decision should be deemed promulgated in the exercise of that jurisdiction. Petitioners submit that the assessed value of the subject property removes the case from the RTC jurisdiction. They cite Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691, which provides, thus:

    SECTION 19. Jurisdiction in Civil Cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

    (1) x x x x

    (2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts;

    x x x

    We do not agree. At first glance, it appears that based on the P13,300.00 assessed value of the subject property as declared by respondents,15 the RTC would have no jurisdiction over the case. But the above-quoted provision refers to the original jurisdiction of the RTC.

    The RTC's appellate jurisdiction, as contrasted to its original jurisdiction, is provided in Section 22 of the same Act, thus:

    SECTION 22. Appellate jurisdiction. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided by Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in their respective territorial jurisdictions. Such cases shall be decided on the basis of the entire record of the proceedings had in the court of origin such memoranda and/or briefs as may be submitted by the parties or

    required by the Regional Trial Courts. The decision of the Regional Trial Courts in such cases shall be appealable by Petition for Review to the Court of Appeals which may give it due course only when the petition shows prima facie that the lower court has committed an error of fact or law that will warrant a reversal or modification of the decision or judgment sought to be reviewed.

    Primarily, the above quoted provision vests upon the RTC the exercise of appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal

    Circuit Trial Courts in their respective territorial jurisdictions.16 Clearly then, the amount involved is immaterial for purposes of the RTC's appellate jurisdiction. All cases decided by the MTC are generally appealable to the RTC irrespective of the amount involved.

    The RTC made an exhaustive and definitive finding on the main cause of action. The trial court is capacitated to make this finding in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, as it would, in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. Section 8, Rule 40, by allowing the RTC to try the case even if the MTC had no jurisdiction so long as the MTC had conducted trial on the merits, demonstrates that remand is expendable. A remand to the MTC, therefore, has become inefficacious in view of the judgment of the RTC. Given the sufficiency of evidence presented before it, the RTC may, as it did, resolve the case on the merits.

    Finally, we sustain the Court of Appeals' affirmance of the RTC finding that respondents have established by preponderance of evidence their claim of ownership over the subject property.17

    Respondents presented the original certificate of title, deed of absolute sale, and transfer certificate of title, among others, to prove their claim of ownership. In contrast, petitioners merely introduced as evidence tax declarations and official receipts of tax payments.ςηαñrοblεš νιr υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

    It is settled law that a certificate of title is the best proof of ownership of a piece of land.18 The Court categorically declared in Spouses Camara v. Spouses Malabao19 that a party's declaration of real property, his payment of realty taxes and his designation as owner of the subject property in the cadastral survey or even in the records of an agency such as the former Ministry of Agrarian Reform Office cannot defeat a certificate of title, as the latter is the absolute and indefeasible evidence of ownership of the property in favor of the person whose name appears therein.

    Furthermore, the Court finds the award of attorney's fees improper. The trial court must state the factual, legal or equitable justification for awarding the same,20 bearing in mind that the award of attorney's fees is the exception, not the general rule, and it is not sound public policy to place a penalty on the right to litigate; nor should attorney's fees be awarded every time a party wins a lawsuit.21 The award of attorney's fees was merely cited in the dispositive portion of the decision without the RTC stating any legal or factual basis for said award. As held in Legaspi v. Sps. Ong:

    The matter of attorney's fees cannot be dealt with only in the dispositive portion of the decision. The text of the decision must state the reason behind the award of attorney's fees. Otherwise, its award is totally unjustified.22

    We are thus impelled to delete the award of attorney's fees.

    WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67395 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the award of attorney's fees is DELETED. Costs against petitioners.

    SO ORDERED.

    Endnotes:


    1 CA rollo, pp. 15-19.

    2 Id. at 15-16.

    3 Id. at 25-27.

    4 Rollo, pp. 55-56.

    5 Id. at 56.

    6 Id. at 51-57. Penned by Judge Vinci C. Gozum.

    7 Id. at 57.

    8 Id. at 46-50. Presided by Judge Isagani M. Palad.

    9 The second paragraph of Sec. 8, Rule 40 reads: "If the case was tried on the merits by the lower court without jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court on appeal shall not dismiss the case if it has original jurisdiction thereof, but shall decide the case in accordance with the preceding section, without prejudice to the admission of amended pleadings and additional evidence in the interest of justice."

    10 Rollo, pp. 49-50.

    11 Id. at 19-29. Penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona, concurred in by Associate Justices Oswaldo D. Agcaoili and Edgardo F. Sundiam.

    12 Id. at 27.

    13 Republic Act No. 7691 (1994), Sec. 33(2); Tecson v. Gutierrez, G.R. No. 152978, 4 March 2005, 452 SCRA 781,787, citing Co v. Militar, G.R. No. 149912, 29 January 2004, 421 SCRA 455, 459; Rivera v. Rivera, G.R. No. 154203, 8 July 2003, 405 SCRA 466, 471, citing Heirs of Placido Miranda v. Court of Appeals, 255 SCRA 368 (1996).

    14 Rollo, p. 7.

    15 Id. at 45.

    16 Dra. Ramirez-Jongco v. Veloso III, 436 Phil. 782, 788 (2002), citing Ybanez v. Court of Appeals, 253 SCRA 540 (1996).

    17 Rollo, p. 28.

    18 Pineda v. Court of Appeals, 456 Phil. 732, 748 (2003), citing G.R. No. 115402, 15 July 1998, 292 SCRA 544.

    19 455 Phil. 385, 394 (2003), citing Hemedes v. Court of Appeals, G.R. NOS. 107132 and 108472, 8 October 1999, 316 SCRA 347, 350.

    20 Mindex Resources Development v. Morillo, 428 Phil. 934, 948 (2002), citing Scott Consultants and Resource Development v. Court of Appeals, 242 SCRA 393, 406, March 16, 1995, per Davide Jr., CJ; see also Valiant Machinery & Metal Corp. v. NLRC, 252 SCRA 369, January 25, 1996.

    21 Ballesteros v. Abion, G.R. No. 143361, 9 February 2006; Car Cool Phil. v. Ushio Realty and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 138088, 23 January 2006, citing Filipinas Broasting Network, Inc. v. Ago Medical and Educational Center-Bicol Christian College of Medicine (Amec-Bccm), G.R. No. 141994, 17 January 2005, 448 SCRA 413 citing Inter-Asia Investment Ind., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 451 Phil. 554 (2003); Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 146364, 3 June 2004, 430 SCRA 492.

    22 G.R. No. 141311, 26 May 2005, citing Consolidated Bank & Trust Corporation (Solidbank) v. Court of Appeals, 246 SCRA 193 (1995).

    G.R. No. 162366 - FEDERICA M. SERRANO, ET AL.  vs  SPOUSES ANSELMO GUTIERREZ AND CARMELITA GUTIERREZ


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