[G.R. NO. 157745 : September 26, 2006
GENALYN D. YOUNG, Petitioner, v. SPOUSES MANUEL SY and VICTORIA SY, Respondents.
[G.R. NO. 157955 : September 26, 2006
GENALYN D. YOUNG, Petitioner, v. SPOUSES MANUEL SY and VICTORIA SY, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Before this Court are two Petitions for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Since the two cases are interdependent and originate from the same proceeding, and for the sake of expediency, they have been consolidated by this Court.
The Petition under G.R. No. 157955 (Re: Supplemental Complaint) challenges the Decision dated November 18, 20021 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 65629 affirming the Orders dated December 28, 2000 and April 6, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court, San Pablo City, Branch 32, in Civil Case No. SP-5703 (2000) (RTC) which denied the admission of petitioner's Supplemental Complaint; and the CA Resolution dated April 2, 20032 which denied the petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.
The Petition under G.R. No. 157745 (Re: Non-Suit) questions the Decision dated November 29, 20023 of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 70610 which affirmed the Orders of the RTC dated August 30, 2001, January 4, 2002 and January 16, 2002 (RTC Orders), all of which in effect dismissed the Complaint for non-suit; and the CA Resolution dated March 21, 20034 which denied the petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.
Both petitions originated from a Complaint for Nullification of Second Supplemental Extra-judicial Settlement, Mortgage, Foreclosure Sale and Tax Declaration filed by the petitioner on May 2, 2000 with the RTC. Genalyn D. Young (petitioner), in her Complaint, alleged that the extra-judicial partition executed by her natural mother, Lilia Dy Young which adjudicated an unregistered parcel of land solely in favor of the latter, is unenforceable, since at the time of the execution, she (petitioner) was only 15 years old and no court approval had been procured; that the partition had been registered with the Register of Deeds; that Lilia Dy obtained a loan from spouses Manuel Sy and Victoria Sy (respondents) and mortgaged the subject property; that the property was foreclosed and sold to the highest bidder, respondent Manuel Sy; that a Certificate of Sale for this purpose had been registered with the Register of Deeds; and that, thereafter, respondents obtained in their name a tax declaration over the property in question.
G.R. No. 157955 (Re: Supplemental Complaint)
On July 20, 2000, the petitioner filed with the RTC a Motion to Admit Supplemental Complaint, attaching the Supplemental Complaint wherein petitioner invoked her right, as co-owner, to exercise the legal redemption. The RTC denied the Motion in an Order dated December 28, 2000. Petitioner, on July 16, 2001, filed a Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65629, and raised the following grounds:
On November 18, 2002, the CA promulgated its Decision denying the Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus and held that the cause of action of the petitioner in the Supplemental Complaint is entirely different from the original complaint; that the Supplemental Complaint did not merely supply its deficiencies; and that, at any rate, in the event the trial court issues an adverse ruling, the petitioner can still appeal the same, hence, the petition under Rule 65 is not proper.
Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45, raising the following issues:
G.R. No. 157745 (Re: Non-Suit)
I. Appeal to the CA
While the Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus (re: Supplemental Complaint) was pending in the CA, trial in the RTC continued. On August 29, 2001, a day before the hearing slated for August 30, 2001, the petitioner filed a Motion to Cancel Hearing, alleging that she was indisposed. On the day of the hearing, respondents, through counsel, objected to the postponement and moved for the dismissal of the case for non-suit. The RTC sustained the objection and issued the assailed August 30, 2001 Order dismissing the Complaint. This Order reads in full:
On January 4, 2002, the RTC denied the petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. The dispositive portion of this Order states:
On January 16, 2002, the RTC issued an Order correcting the January 4, 2002 Order due to a typographical error. This Order reads in full:
On January 31, 2002, the petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal questioning the foregoing RTC Orders. The case was eventually docketed as C.A.-G.R. CV No. 74045. In said appeal, the petitioner assigned the following errors:
The CA rendered a Decision dated March 30, 200511 in favor of the petitioner, reversing and setting aside the RTC Orders, the dispositive portion of this Decision reads:
The respondents filed their Motion for Reconsideration, and based on the records before the Court, this case is still pending in the CA.
II. Petition for Certiorari filed with the CA
On top of the foregoing appeal, the petitioner, four months after filing her Notice of Appeal to the CA, or on May 28, 2002, filed with the CA a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70610 to annul the same RTC Orders that comprise the subject matter of the ordinary appeal. Predictably, the petitioner raised essentially the same issues:
On November 29, 2002, ahead of the Decision dated March 30, 2005 rendered in the appealed case, the CA denied14 the Petition for Certiorari and held that the dismissal of the case by the RTC on the ground of non prosequitur has the effect of an adjudication upon the merits; that an order of dismissal, whether right or wrong, is a final order that may constitute an error of judgment correctible by ordinary appeal and not by certiorari; that the petitioner actually chose the mode of ordinary appeal by filing a Notice of Appeal on January 31, 2000; and that since the remedy of appeal was available, then the Petition for Certiorari, being an extraordinary remedy, must fail.
Hence, the present Petition for Review under Rule 45, with the following issues that are likewise similar to the appealed case in the CA:
The Ruling of the Court
The Petition (re: Supplemental Complaint) is meritorious; but the Petition (re: Non-Suit) must fail.
On the denial of the Motion to Admit Supplemental Complaint:
The courts a quo held that the Supplemental Complaint constituted a substantial amendment of the original complaint; that the relief prayed for in the former is inconsistent with the latter; and that the causes of action of both are likewise different. This is incorrect.
Section 6, Rule 10 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
As its very name denotes, a supplemental pleading only serves to bolster or add something to the primary pleading. A supplement exists side by side with the original. It does not replace that which it supplements.16 Moreover, a supplemental pleading assumes that the original pleading is to stand and that the issues joined with the original pleading remained an issue to be tried in the action.17 It is but a continuation of the complaint. Its usual office is to set up new facts which justify, enlarge or change the kind of relief with respect to the same subject matter as the controversy referred to in the original complaint.18
The purpose of the supplemental pleading is to bring into the records new facts which will enlarge or change the kind of relief to which the plaintiff is entitled; hence, any supplemental facts which further develop the original right of action, or extend to vary the relief, are available by way of supplemental complaint even though they themselves constitute a right of action.19
In Leobrera v. Court of Appeals,20 the Court ruled that when the cause of action stated in the supplemental complaint is different from the causes of action mentioned in the original complaint, the court should not admit the supplemental complaint; the parties may file supplemental pleadings only to supply deficiencies in aid of an original pleading, but not to introduce new and independent causes of action. However, in Planters Development Bank v. LZK Holdings and Development Co.,21 the Court held that a broad definition of causes of action should be applied: while a matter stated in a supplemental complaint should have some relation to the cause of action set forth in the original pleading, the fact that the supplemental pleading technically states a new cause of action should not be a bar to its allowance but only a factor to be considered by the court in the exercise of its discretion; and of course, a broad definition of "cause of action" should be applied here as elsewhere.22
In this case, the consolidation of title over the subject property in the name of respondent Manuel Sy and the issue as to whether it precluded petitioner as alleged co-owner from exercising the right of legal redemption, are new matters that occurred after the filing of the original complaint. The relief prayed for in the Supplemental Complaint, which is the exercise of the right of legal redemption accorded to co-owners of property, is germane to and intertwined with the cause of action in the Complaint for the nullification of the "Second Supplemental to the Extrajudicial Partition" on the ground that it lacked the approval of a guardianship court.
The petitioner's right to redeem the property is dependent on the nullification of the partition which is the subject of the original complaint. Unless the partition is nullified or declared without any force or effect, the petitioner will not be considered a co-owner of the property and, consequently, she will be unable to exercise any right of legal redemption under Article 162023 of the Civil Code granted to co-owners of property.
The right of legal redemption as co-owner is conferred by law and is merely a natural consequence of co-ownership. Hence, the petitioner's cause of action for legal redemption as embodied in her Supplemental Complaint stems directly from and is an extension of her rights as co-owner of the property subject of the Complaint.
Furthermore, the evidence required to prove petitioner's right of legal redemption in the Supplemental Complaint will be exactly the same evidence required to prove the nullification of the partition in the Complaint.
If a separate action is filed for the subject covered by the Supplemental Complaint, there will be multiplicity of suits. Should a separate complaint be filed before the nullification of the partition, the same would be dismissed for being premature pending the resolution of the Complaint for nullification.
After all, the respondents have the right to file a supplemental answer to the Supplemental Complaint, conformably with Section 7, Rule 11 of the Rules of Court which reads:
In affirming the RTC's denial of the admission of the Supplemental Complaint, the CA rationalized that "[i]n the event that the lower court rules in favor of petitioner, then there is no need for her to file a petition to exercise the right of redemption. On the other hand, should the trial court issue an adverse ruling then petitioner can still appeal the same. The petition for certiorari is therefore not proper."24
This, too, is incorrect.
As the petitioner correctly pointed out, even if the trial court decides in her favor, the redemption period would have lapsed and would not form a part of the decision since it was not prayed for, much less alleged in the original complaint. In such a case, the respondents could oppose the exercise of the right to redeem since it would not have been included in the decision over the original complaint. And should the trial court issue an adverse ruling, the petitioner can only appeal what is included in the ruling which is limited to the denial of the prayer for the nullification of the partition. Naturally, such a decision would not concern any right of redemption.
Besides, as in Planters Development Bank,25 the admission of the petitioner's Supplemental Complaint will better serve the ends of justice. The Rules of Court were designed to facilitate the administration of justice to the rival claims of the parties in a just, speedy and inexpensive manner.
Thus, the courts a quo erred in denying the admission of petitioner's Supplemental Complaint and the Petition (G.R. No. 157955) should be granted.
On the alleged Forum Shopping:
This Court is now concerned with the question of whether the petitioner has engaged in forum shopping in appealing the RTC Orders which dismissed her complaint for non-suit and in filing a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 with the CA involving the same RTC Orders.
Forum shopping consists of filing multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment.26
There is forum shopping where there exist: (a) identity of parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity of the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the pending case, regardless of which party is successful would amount to res judicata.27
Ineluctably, the petitioner, by filing an ordinary appeal and a Petition for Certiorari with the CA, engaged in forum shopping. When the petitioner commenced the appeal, only four months had elapsed prior to her filing with the CA the Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 and which eventually came up to this Court by way of the instant Petition (re: Non-Suit). The elements of litis pendentia are present between the two suits. As the CA, through its Thirteenth Division, correctly noted, both suits are founded on exactly the same facts28 and refer to the same subject matter the RTC Orders which dismissed Civil Case No. SP-5703 (2000) for failure to prosecute. In both cases, the petitioner is seeking the reversal of the RTC orders. The parties, the rights asserted, the issues professed, and the reliefs prayed for, are all the same. It is evident that the judgment of one forum may amount to res judicatain the other.
But it is the proposition of the petitioner that between these two cases, the one that is "proper" is the Petition for Certiorari filed with the CA, since the RTC, according to her, acted with grave abuse of discretion; and that her appeal in the CA "has proven to be not a speedy remedy" and had only been instituted as a "precautionary measure." As proof of the averment that the appeal was not speedy enough, she points out the fact that while the CA had just promulgated a Decision on March 30, 2005 with respect to the appealed case, that case, however, is still pending to this day in the CA by virtue of a motion for reconsideration recently filed by the respondents, whereas, in the proceedings that led to the present Petition (re: Non-Suit), the CA had rendered a Decision dated November 29, 2000 - over four years ahead of its counterpart. From these premises, she proceeds to cite jurisprudence invoking the exceptional instances where a party may directly resort to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, because the appeal, in those cases, is not speedy enough.29
This is completely unacceptable.
The Court begins with the unassailable premise that the RTC orders dismissing the case for failure to prosecute are final orders, because such orders of dismissal operate as a judgment on the merits.30 This principle is now an express provision in Section 3, Rule 17 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
It is firmly established, and with very few exceptions, that the remedy against such final order is appeal and not certiorari.31
The general rule is that a writ of certiorari will not issue where the remedy of appeal is available to the aggrieved party. The remedies of appeal in the ordinary course of law and that of certiorari under Rule 65 are mutually exclusive and not alternative or cumulative.32 Hence, the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 cannot be a substitute for an appeal where the latter remedy is available.
While indeed there are exceptions to the foregoing rule, and assuming further that the case of the petitioner falls under any of those exceptions which allows her to elect Rule 65, the jurisprudence which she calls upon does not sanction the successive or cumulative filing of both an appeal and a special civil action of certiorari. Quite the opposite, these cases set down the exceptional circumstances where certiorari can be directly invoked in lieu of appeal.
The remedies of appeal and certiorari under Rule 65 are mutually exclusive and not alternative or cumulative.33 This is a firm judicial policy. The petitioner cannot hedge her case by wagering two or more appeals, and, in the event that the ordinary appeal lags significantly behind the others, she cannot post facto validate this circumstance as a demonstration that the ordinary appeal had not been speedy or adequate enough, in order to justify the recourse to Rule 65. This practice, if adopted, would sanction the filing of multiple suits in multiple fora, where each one, as the petitioner couches it, becomes a "precautionary measure" for the rest, thereby increasing the chances of a favorable decision. This is the very evil that the proscription on forum shopping seeks to put right. In Guaranteed Hotels, Inc. v. Baltao,34 the Court stated that the grave evil sought to be avoided by the rule against forum shopping is the rendition by two competent tribunals of two separate and contradictory decisions. Unscrupulous party litigants, taking advantage of a variety of competent tribunals, may repeatedly try their luck in several different fora until a favorable result is reached. To avoid the resultant confusion, the Court adheres strictly to the rules against forum shopping, and any violation of these rules results in the dismissal of the case.35
Thus, the CA correctly dismissed the Petition for Certiorari and the Petition for Review (G.R. No. 157745) filed with this Court must be denied for lack of merit.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review in G.R. No. 157745 is DENIED for lack of merit.
The Petition for Review in G.R. No. 157955 is GRANTED. The Decisions and Resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 65629 are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court, San Pablo City, Branch 32, is DIRECTED to ADMIT the petitioner's Supplemental Complaint dated July 20, 2000.
Panganiban, C.J., Chairperson, Ynares-Santiago, Callejo, Sr., Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
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