G.R. No. L-26151 October 22, 1970
ALBERTO VALINO, Petitioner, vs. HON. EMANUEL M. MU�OZ, HON. NUMERIANO INUMERABLE and HERMINIO VASALLO, Respondents.
Jose M. Castillo for petitioner.
Dator and Associates Law Office for private respondent.
Original petition for certiorari - seeking the annulment of an order issued by the herein respondent Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan in its Civil Case No. 3295 - with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction commanding the herein respondent judge of the Municipal Court of San Ildefonso (same province) to proceed with its Criminal Case No. 817 therein initiated by the herein petitioner against private respondent, which proceedings were cancelled indefinitely by the municipal judge pursuant to the order of the former court secured in an action for prohibition filed before it by private respondent.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The following facts alleged in the petition and in the answer, albeit the latter is unverified, appear to be indisputable:chanrobles virtual law library
Herein petitioner Alberto Valino was the tenant or agricultural lessee of certain lands certain in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, belonging to the herein private respondent Herminio Vasallo. Sometime before January 22, 1964, said private respondent must have filed with the Court of Agrarian Relations a request for permission to eject petitioner, for it appears that on said date, in CAR Case No. 909 Bul. '63, the said court rendered a decision purportedly based on an amicable settlement reading as follows:.
Petitioner having allegedly failed to comply the terms of the above amicable settlement, on April 27, 1965, Vasallo dispossessed Valino of the said landholding and replaced the latter with a new tenant, Leonardo Quiazon. On account of such dispossession Valino sought the intervention of the courts. Under date of 7 May 1965, he filed a criminal complaint against Vasallo with the aforementioned municipal court alleging that the latter had "willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with malice aforethought dispossessed him of his landholding."chanrobles virtual law library
Not content with this criminal complaint, on 31 May 1965, petitioner also lodged against the same respondent a complaint for damages before the Court of Agrarian Relations at Malolos, Bulacan, which was docketed as CAR Case No 1186, alleging, as main basis thereof substantially the same act of alleged illegal dispossession as that made the subject of the criminal case.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
After the filing of this latter case, while the People was presenting its evidence in the criminal case, the accused, herein private respondent, presented a motion to suspend the proceedings on the ground that as the sole question to be resolved in it as well as in the case before the Agrarian Relations Court was whether or not the dispossession of petitioner was justified, the determination of such question by the latter court constituted a prejudicial one which must first be resolved in the Agrarian Court, considering that under the Land Reform Act, all controversies, disputes or money claims arising from agrarian relations fall within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations. This motion having been denied, private respondent commenced the action for prohibition above referred to in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan which, after due hearing, issued an order enjoining the municipal judge from continuing with the hearing of the criminal proceedings before it until after CAR Case No. 1186 shall have been disposed of. Respondent superior judge reasoned out his order thus:.
Petitioner, however, was not made a party to the said action for prohibition; so, immediately after he came to know of the issuance of the above-quoted order, he filed an urgent motion to intervene in the case which was granted, but when he moved to have the said order reconsidered, his motion was denied, hence the instant petition.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
It is now charged by petitioner that respondent superior judge acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when he enjoined the respondent inferior court from proceeding with the criminal case, considering the circumstances that: (1) private respondent's petition for prohibition which led to the issuance of the order in question was not even sufficiently verified as required by Sec. 6, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, since said respondent had only stated in his verification that "all the allegations therein (the petition) are true and correct of my own knowledge and belief;" (2) petitioner was not joined as a party defendant with the municipal judge in the action for
The first three points thus raised by appellant deserve very little consideration. As regards the alleged defect of the verification supporting the petition in the court below, suffice it to say that assuming that the rule on verification, Section 6 of Rule 7 has not been strictly complied with, it has been held anyway that absence of verification is a mere formal, not jurisdictional defect,1 particularly when the facts alleged are more or less, indisputable or borne clearly by the records. Thus:.
Anent the intimation of petitioner that he was not given a day in court because he was not made a party defendant with, the respondent municipal judge in the case of prohibition filed with the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, in violation of sec. 5, Rule 65, it may not be said that the said rule had been disregarded, for the record shows that petitioner's motion to intervene was granted by the respondent judge and his motion for reconsideration of the order complained of was thereafter considered, albeit it was denied for lack of merit. And as regards the point that the petition in the court below was virtually an appeal from an interlocutory order, all that need be said is that it cannot be disputed that the case filed by petitioner in the court of respondent superior judge was a special civil action of certiorari , precisely the appropriate remedy, inasmuch as the questioned order of the respondent inferior judge denying petitioner's motion for suspension of the criminal proceeding was an interlocutory one and not appealable.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Indeed, the more important question to consider in this case is whether or not the respondent superior judge acted in accordance with law in enjoining the respondent municipal judge from continuing with the hearing of the criminal case until after the CAR case shall have been disposed of. We sustain the injunction, but on a different ground - definitely not on the ground that the determination by the CAR of whether or not the ejectment is justified under any of the circumstances enumerated under Section 36 of the Land Reform Code is a prejudicial question as to the criminal liability of a landowner who dispossesses his tenant or lessee without prior judicial authority. This Court would like to make it clear that the language of Sec. 31 of the Land Perform Code which provides pertinently that:.
is definite and unmistakable as to the spirit, intent and purpose of the lawmakers that under no circumstances may a tenant or lessee be deprived or dispossessed of his landholding without a prior final and executory judgment of the Court of Agrarian Relations rendered after proper hearing where, understandably, the tenant or lessee has been given an opportunity to be heard. In other words, once a landowner or lessor dispossesses his tenant or lessee of his landholding without prior permission of the CAR and a criminal case is filed for violation of Section 31 in relation to Section 167 of the Land Reform Code, the criminal case may proceed to judgment irrespective of whether or not another case is filed with the CAR whether by the landowner or lessor or by the tenant or lessee. Any subsequent or independent finding of the CAR that the ejectment may be authorized under Section 36 cannot cure the criminal liability that already attaches upon the actual dispossession without previous court authority.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
In the case at bar, however, the situation of respondent Vasallo stands on a different footing. Here there was authority given by the CAR upon petition of said respondent in CAR Case No. 909-Bulacan '63 as stated earlier above. Precisely, this is the circumstance that was seemingly overlooked in the proceedings in the court below. Said authority, of course, was qualified in the sense that it would take effect only upon violation of the petitioner of the terms and conditions contained in the decision. The issue to be decided in this case, therefore, is not whether or not there was permission of the CAR but whether or not such authority could already be taken advantage of or utilized by Vasallo upon the failure of the petitioner to comply with the terms and conditions of the decision granting said authority as alleged by him.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
In this connection, it may be mentioned that the compromise judgment aforequoted expressly states that the parties agreed "that any violation of (sic) the respondent of the above agreement, will entitle the petitioner for an immediate execution of the judgment to eject the respondent." Still the question would be what the parties meant in their stipulation with the phrase "will entitle the petitioner for (sic) an immediate execution." Had the agreement stipulated that the petitioner would be entitled "to secure a writ of execution" or "to seek immediate execution," it would have been clear enough that even on the assumption that petitioner might have failed to comply with his obligations under the decision, the landowner or lessor could not dispossess petitioner without first securing a writ of execution. In any event, it is not for this Court to pass on these questions in this case. All that We hold now is that until the CAR which rendered the decision on the amicable compromise has determined whether or not the authority granted by it to respondent to dispossess petitioner has been properly exercised by respondent, it is but logical and proper that the criminal case be held in abeyance. We reiterate that this is not a case where the landowner has absolutely no CAR authority or permission to eject his tenant or lessee; rather, the question here is whether or not the authority given has been properly exercised. Whether or not respondent can be held criminally liable under the circumstances can be fairly decided only after it is known whether or not he has acted in accordance with the authority given to him by the CAR in Case No. 909-Bul. '63. In the result, the respondent superior judge acted properly in enjoining the criminal proceedings before the respondent municipal judge.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
ACCORDINGLY, the herein petition is denied. No costs.
Reyes, J.B.L., Actg. C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Teehankee, Villamor and Makasiar, JJ., concur.
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