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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
FIRSTDIVISION
G.R.No.74211March25,1988
P.E.DOMINGO&CO.,INC.,PRIMITIVOE.DOMINGO,ROSARIOR.DOMINGO,LORETTAD.PANIS,
AMADORR.DOMINGO,ISIDOROM.DOMINGO,DANILOR.DOMINGOandIRENEOR.DOMINGO,
petitioners,
vs.
HON.REMIGIOE.ZARIandTHEGOVERNMENTSERVICEINSURANCESYSTEM(GSIS),respondents.
G.R.No.L76299March25,1988
GOVERNMENTSERVICEINSURANCESYSTEM(GSIS),andHON.MAXIMOA.SAVELLANO,JR.,asJudgeof
theRegionalTrialCourt,Branch53,Manila,petitioners,
vs.
P.E.DOMINGO&CO.,INC.,PRIMITIVOE.DOMINGO,ROSARIOR.DOMINGO,LORETOR.DOMINGO,
AMADORR.DOMINGO,ETAL.,respondents.

CRUZ,J.:
These two cases have been consolidated because they involve the same question, to wit, the correct
interpretationofRule32,Section2,oftheRulesofCourt,ontrialwithassessors.
G.R.No.76299isanappealbycertiorariunderRule45fromadecisionoftheCourtofAppealssustainingthat
rightwhileG.R.No.74211isapetitionforcertiorariunderRule65questioningadecisionofthetrialcourtdenying
suchright.Bothcasesraisethecorrollaryquestionofwhetherornottherighthadbeenseasonablyinvoked.
These cases arose from certain loans obtained by P.E. Domingo and Co. and several other persons (hereafter
referred to as Domingo) from the GSIS which were secured with real estate mortgages and other collaterals. 1
Uponallegeddefaultinthepaymentoftheseobligations,themortgageswereforeclosedandthemortgagedpropertiessold
to the GSIS at public auction. 2 Domingo protested the foreclosure sale and, before the GSIS could consolidate title over
the properties sold, filed complaints in the regional trial courts of Manila, Quezon City and Pasig for the annulment of the
same.3Domingoalsomovedfortrialwithassessorsinallthreecases.ThemotionwasgrantedbythetrialjudgeinPasig
but denied by Judge Maximo Savellano in Manila 4 and Judge Remigio E. Zari in Quezon City. 5 Their orders are the
subjectnowofthesepetitions.

Rule32,Section2,oftheRulesofCourtreadsinfullasfollows:
Rightsofpartiestohaveassessors,andmannerofselectingthem.Eitherpartytoanactionmay,
twenty(20)daysormorebeforethetrial,applyinwritingtothejudgeforassessorstositinthetrial.
Uponthefilingofsuchapplication,thejudgeshalldirectthatassessorsshallbeprovided,andthat
thepartiesforthwithappearbeforehimfortheselectionoftheassessors.Ifthepartiescannotagree
onthechoiceoftwoassessorsfromthelistprovidedforintheprecedingsection,theassessorsshall
beselectedfromtheaforesaidlistinthefollowingmanner,inthepresenceofthejudgeorclerkthe
plaintiffshallstrikeoutfromthelistonenamethenthedefendantmaystrikeoutanother,andsoon,
alternately,thepartiesshallstrikeoutnames,untilbuttworemainonthelist.Theremainingtwoshall
be the assessors to sit in the trial but if one or both of them are disqualified by law to sit as
assessors, then the judge or clerk shall draw one name or more as the case may be, by lot, from
thosestrickenout,andthepersonorpersonsthusdrawnshallactasassessors,unlessdisqualified
bylaw,inwhichcasethevacancyshallbefilledbylot,asaboveprovided.
Amereperusaloftheaboveprovisionclearlyshowsthattrialwithassessorsmaybedemandedasamatterof
rightbyanyoftheparties,Aslongastheconditionsfortheenjoymentoftherighthavebeensatisfied,itmaynot

bedeniedorwithheldbythejudge,whohasnodiscretiononthematter.Thereasonisthemandatorylanguage
oftherulewhichunequivocallysaysthat"uponfilingofsuchapplication,thejudgeshalldirectthattheassessors
shallbeprovided....
In his monumental work on the Rules of Court, Chief Justice Moran had the following to say on trial with
assessors:
Trial with the aid of assessors is a specie of jury trial, when a demand therefor is made by the
parties.Bythetermsofsection2,assessorsareonlyappointedwhenoneorbothofthepartiesshall
applythereforinwritingtothejudge.Thepartiesmaythereforewaivetheirrightstoassessorsandif
they do not demand the appointment, they, of course, waive their rights thereto. The necessity or
advisabilityofhavingassessorsislefttothediscretionoftheparties.Eitherorbothmayexercisethe
righttohaveassessorsappointed.
Butwhenthedemandismadefortheappointmentofassessorsintheformprescribedbylaw,has
the judge any discretion to deny it? Section 2, as taken from section 154 of Act 190, provides that
'uponfilingofsuchapplication,thejudgeshalldirectthattheassessorsbeprovided,...Itwouldbe
difficult to draw a law in which the terms could be made more mandatory. The legislature said that
the court shall direct etc. . . ., it did not intend that the judge might, could or should appoint the
Legislature, considering the purpose of the law, meant exactly what it said that the judge upon
properapplicationshallappoint.6
Speakingofthesamematter,theCourthasheldinnouncertainterms:
...therightthusgrantedtothepartiestobejudgedbyassessorsisabsolute,andthedutyimposed
uponthejusticeofthepeaceislikewisemandatory.Oncethepetitioninwritinghasbeenfiledbyany
oftheparties,itisthedutyofthejusticeofthepeacetograntit,andtoproceedtotheselectionof
the assessors in the manner prescribed. ...The respondents could not be deprived of a substantial
rightgrantedthembylaw.7
ItisarguedbytheGSISthatDomingohasnotjustifieditsmotionfortrialwithassessorsandgivesnoreasonwhy
it should be granted, confining itself to merely invoking the rule. That is enough nothing else is needed. This
substantiverighthasonlytobeinvokedtobegranted.Thatistheclearmandateofthelaw,foraswestressedin
Pagkatipunanv.Bautista,thisrightis"absoluteandmandatory."
Trial with assessors is available where questions of fact are involved as assessors can help the judge in the
determination of this kind of questions. Concededly, they have nothing to do with the interpretation of legal
questions.TheGSISisnotexactlycorrectwhenitsaysthattheonlyquestionstobesettledinthecaseatbarare
legalinnatureforthereareanumberoffactualissuesthathavetobeexaminedandresolved.Amongtheseare
whetherornotthedebtsofDomingowerealreadydueatthetimeofthemortgageforeclosureand,ifso,whether
ornottheyhavebeenfullyliquidatedwiththeapplicationtheretooftheproceedsoftheauctionsales.8
The rule says that the motion for trial with assessors should be filed twenty (20) days or more before the trial,'
signifyingthatitmaybedeniediffiledaftersuchperiod.Thiswasthereasonforthedenialofthemotioninthe
casescitedbytheGSIS,towit,Manaoisv.delaCruz9wherethemotionwasfiledonedaybeforethetrial,andSuntay
v.Munoz10wherethemotionwasfiledwhenthetrialwasalreadyinprogress.Astherespondentcourtfound,however,this
periodwasnotexceededinG.R.No.76299,thus:

Applied to the instant case, the pretrial of this case was terminated last October 3, 1985. The
petitioners' Motion for Trial with Assessors was dated and filed October 14, 1985, The case was
initially set for trial on the merits on December 3,1985, almost two (2) months before the initial
hearingdate.TheRulesofCourtrequirethatthewrittenapplicationforassessorsbemadeatleast
twenty(20)daysbeforethetrial.Thus,themotionfortheappointmentofassessorswasseasonably
filed.11
This factual finding is conclusive upon the Court, absent any clear showing that it was rendered with abuse of
discretionorwithoutanysubstantialbasis.
No similar inquiry has been made in G.R. No. 74211 because this has not been remanded to the Court of
Appeals. While a like remand would nominally be the appropriate step to take, we feel that the Court should
insteadinvestigatethequestiondirectly,consideringtheconsolidationofthetwocasesandinordertoterminate
themwithoutfurtherdelay.Afterall,therecordsarebeforeus.
Accordingly,wemakethefollowingfindingontheseasonablenessofthemotion.
Itappearsthatasearlyasinitspretrialbrief 12filedonMarch21,1985,Domingohadalreadyindicatedthat'theywill

wantatrialwithassessorsunderRule32'oftheRulesofCourt.Thisintentionwaslaterformalizedinamotionfortrialwith
assessorsfiledbyDomingoonSeptember16,1985.TheGSIScontendsthatthemotionwasfiledlatebecausethedateset
for the first hearing was September 20, 1985, or only four days ahead hence, under the Rule, the motion should be, as it
was,denied.TheCourtdoesnotagree.

ItseemstousthatifthespiritoftheRuleistobeconsulted,themotionshouldbegranted.Thereisobviouslyno
intentiontodelay,tobeginwith,asthereevidentlyarecertainfactualissuesthatintheviewofoneoftheparties
are better resolved with the help of assessors. Moreover, the application for trial with assessors was made as
earlyasMarch21,1985,inthepretrialbrieffiledbyDomingo.Althoughnotmadeintheformofaformalmotion,
itarguablycouldhavesufficedasthereisnothingintherulethatcallsforsuchformalmotion.Atanyrate,sucha
motion was submitted on September 16, 1985, and it cannot be said to have been filed tardily for in fact no
hearingwasheldwithin20daysafterthedateor,forthatmatter,uptonow.Thedelaynotedinthelasttwocases
citedearlierisnotpresenthereforthetrialinthecaseatbarhasnotyetbegun.
The20dayperiodfixedbytheRuleisintendedtoenablethepartiestoagreeonthechoiceofthearbitratorsor
fortheselectiontobemadeinthemannerprescribedthereinwherethepartiescannotagree.Duringthatperiod,
the assessors picked are to be so informed and summoned to appear at the trial to assist the judge in the
ascertainmentofthefactualissuesunlessforgoodcausetheyareexcusedfromdoingso.Thepurposesofthe
periodarenotviolatedhereforthereissufficienttimefortheappointmentoftheassessorsinaccordancewiththe
Idrule.
Insum,theCourtreaffirmsitsconsistentholdingthattherighttotrialwithassessorscannotbewithheldaslong
asithasbeeninvokedintimeanditisshownthattherearequestionsoffacttoberesolved.Wealsoholdthat,as
foundbytheCourtofAppealsinG.R.No.76299andaswehavefoundinG.R.No.74211,themotionsfortrial
withassessorswerefiledontime.
AslongasitisprovidedforintheRulesofCourt,.therighttotrialwithassessorscannotbewithheldexceptonly
forthemostcompellingjustification.Anyright,whateveritssource,beittheConstitutionoronlyastatuteorin
this case the Rules of Court, is protected by the due process clause and so cannot be denied the person
entitled thereto without good reason. We have held for example, that denial of the right to preliminary
investigation,asguaranteedbylaw,constitutesadenialofdueprocess.13Itisnodifferenthere.
ACCORDINGLY,thepetitioninG.R.No.76299isDENIEDandthepetitioninG.R.No.74211isGRANTED.Trial
byassessorsisherebydirectedinCivilCaseNo.8424604oftheRegionalTrialCourtofManilaandCivilCase
No.Q41671oftheRegionalTrialCourtofQuezonCity.ThetemporaryrestrainingorderdatedJune4,1986,in
G.R.No.74211isLIFTED.Nopronouncementastocosts.
SOORDERED.
Teehankee,C.J.,Narvasa,GancaycoandGrioAquino,JJ.,concur.

Footnotes
1Rollo,P.27(G.R.No.76299).
2Ibid.,pp.2728.
3Id.,p.28,
4Rollo,p.1104(G.R.No.76299).
5Rollo,pp.117118(G.R.No.74211).
62Moran,CommentsontheRulesofCourt153154,1963ed.,quotingBerbariv.Concepcion,40
Phil.320.
7ColegiodeSanJosev.Sison,56Phil.344,quotedinPagkatipunanv.Bautista,108SCRA569,
8Rollo,p.121(G.R.No.76299)
919SCRA395,
10CAG.R.No.SP00201,June15,1971.
11Rollo,p.110.

12Rollo,p.90.
13Patanaov.Enage,121SCRA228.
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