G.R. No. 77760 December 11, 1987
SPOUSES VIOLETA S. VENTURANZA and ROMY VENTURANZA, Petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JUDGE BERNARDO P. PARDO, PRESIDING JUDGE OF REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, BRANCH XLIII, HON. JUDGE ERNESTO MADAMBA, PRESIDING JUDGE OF METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, BRANCH XVII AND NIEVES SENORAN, Respondents.chanrobles virtual law library
Petition for review on certiorari of the decision * of the Court of Appeals, dated 6 March 1987, in CA-G.R. No. SP-08971 entitled "Spouses Violeta S. Venturanza and Romy Venturanza, petitioners, vs. Hon. Judge Bernardo Pardo, et al., respondents," affirming the decision ** of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XLI I I.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
On 22 May 1985, plaintiff Nieves Y. Senoran (now private respondent) filed a complaint against spouses Violeta S. Venturanza and Romy Venturanza (now petitioners) with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch XVI 1, docketed as Civil Case No. 109950, for collection of sums of money in the aggragate amount of P9,711.50, representing several loans evidenced by promissory notes which had become due and demandable but unpaid despite repeated demands. 1 On 10 June and served 1985, summons was issued against the petitioners on Augusto Soan, father of petitioner Violeta S. Venturanza, at 3412 B.A. Tan Street. Barrio Obrero Tondo, Manila, the address of petitioners stated in the complaint. The sheriff's Return, states as follows: 2
For failure of the petitioners to file their Answer, a decision dated 12 August 1985 was rendered by the court a quo based on the allegations of fact in the complaint, and ordering the petitioners to pay jointly and severally the private respondent the sum of P9,711.50 with interest thereon at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum from due date per promissory notes until fully paid, to pay P1,000.00 as attorney's fees and costs of suit. 3 Considering that, as per sheriff's Return, dated 17 August 1985, said decision could not be served upon the petitioners at 3412 B.A. Tan St., Barrio Obrero Tondo, Manila, on the ground that they were no longer at said address, the same was served on 16 September 1985 upon Violeta S. Venturanza in her office at Asian Development Bank, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City. 4 chanrobles virtual law library
On 22 September 1985, petitioners filed a "Motion to Set Aside Decision and to Declare Past Proceedings Null and Void for Lack of Jurisdiction," alleging that there had been no proper and valid service of summons upon them in accordance with either Section 7 or Section 8 of Rule 14 of the Rules of Court 5 and that the court a quo never acquired jurisdiction over the person of the petitioners, considering that the address where the summons was served is the residence of Violeta S. Venturanza's father, Augusto Soan, and not the residence or dwelling house of the petitioners, and that since April 1985, petitioners had been already residing at Aurora Street, Pasay City. 6 In an order dated 20 October 1985, the court a quo denied the motion, for lack of merit, stating thus:
On appeal to the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XLIII, the appeal being docketed as Civil Case No. 86-34319, the decision of the court a quo was affirmed with a slight modification, i.e., lowering the amount of attomey's fees to P 500.00. 8 On 6 March 1987, a petition for review was filed with the Court of Appeals. Said RTC decision was affirmed in toto. 9 Hence, this petition for review on certiorari chanrobles virtual law library
The issues raised and to be resolved in this instance, are the following
The court a quo, in its findings of fact, reached the conclusion that the address at 3412 B.A. Tan St., Bo. Obrero Tondo, Manila, where summons was served by the branch sheriff, Jose L. Cruz, was the place of residence of the petitioners, after the latter allegedly failed to submit any evidence to prove their allegation that they were no longer residents of said address and had transferred to 2511 Aurora St., Pasay City. 11 The court a quo relied heavily on what appeared in the 1984 Telephone Directory of Asian Development Bank, where defendant Violeta S. Venturanza is employed, in the PLDT Telephone Directory for 1985-1986, and the sheriff's affidavit dated 16 October 1985 stating that, upon inquiry from Augusto Soan on whether the defendants were residents of the above-said address, the latter confirmed the same. 12 chanrobles virtual law library
It is the general rule that findings of fact of the Court of Appeals when supported by substantial evidence, are beyond this Court's power of review. 13 However, in the instant case, we cannot but consider that the address of defendant Violeta S. Venturanza found in the 1984 Asian Development Bank Directory and the PLDT Telephone Directory for 1985- 86, together with the affidavit of the branch sheriff, are not sufficient to substantiate the findings of the court a quo that petitioners were bona fide residents of 3412 B.A. Tan St., Barrio Obrero Tondo, Manila at the time summons was served on Augusto Soan.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
There is no question, and in fact it was admitted by the petitioners, that in 1984 they were actual residents of 3412 B.A. Tan St., Barrio Obrero Tondo, Manila and, as correctly reflected in the 1984 Asian Development Bank Directory. However, the change of their address, upon their transfer to Pasay City in April 1985, could not be reflected in the 1985-86 PLDT Telephone Directory, because this directory had already been printed and circulated to the public before their transfer in April 1985 to Aurora St. in Pasay City. Moreover, the copy of the contract of lease dated April 1985 between petitioner Romualdo Venturanza as lessee and Linda Galvez as lessor over an apartment unit located at 2511 Aurora St., Pasay City 14 and the affidavit of Augusto Soan dated 29 April 1986 stating that he never told the sheriff that the defendants were residing in his house at 3412 B.A. Tan St., Barrio Obrero Tondo, Manila, sufficiently negate the conclusion of the court a quo. 15 chanrobles virtual law library
Under Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, there are three (3) methods of service of summons in civil actions, namely: 1) personal service (See. 7); 2) substituted service (Sec. 8); and 3) service by publication. 16 Strict compliance with these modes of service is required in order that the court may require jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. 17 Service of summons upon the defendant is the means by which the court acquires jurisdiction over his person. This process is for the benefit of the defendant, and is intended to afford the latter an opportunity to be heard on the claim against him. 18 In the absence of valid waiver trial and judgment, without such service, are null and void.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
There is no question that the case at bar which is an action for collection of sum of money is an action in personam thereby requiring personal service of summons on the defendants.
It is only when a defendant can not be personally served with summons within a reasonable time that a substituted service may be availed of, the same to be effected in the following manner: a) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendants' dwelling house or residence, with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or b) by leaving the copies at defendant's office or regular place of business, with some competent person in charge thereof. 19 For a substituted service to be valid, summons served at the defendant's residence must be served at his residence at the time of such service and not at his former place of residence.
It is further required by law that an effort or attempt should first be made to personally serve the summons and after this has failed, a substituted service may be caused upon the defendant, and the same must be reflected in the proof of service. 20
Upon careful examination of the sheriff 's Return in this case, dated 10 June 1985, which purports to serve as proof that summons had been served upon the defendants, together with a copy of the complaint, through Augusto Soan, no statement is made that an effort or attempt was exerted to personally serve the summons on the defendants and that the same had failed. In fact, said Return does not even indicate the address of the defendants to whom summons was supposed to have been served. The presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions by the sheriff is not applicable in this case where it is patent that the sheriff's return is defective.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings, including a valid service of summons. No costs.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Yap (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Paras and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.
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