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G.R. No. 83281 December 4, 1989 FLORENTINO OZAETA vs.

CA and JALWINDOR
MANUFACTURERS, INC.
FACTS:
This is an action for damages arising from alleged infringement of patent between the petitioner
Ozaeta and the private respondent Jalwindor Manufacturers, Inc. Petitioner was ordered by the
RTC of Quezon City to pay private respondent P200,000.00 for actual damages, P50,000.00
exemplary damages, P10,000.00 attorney's fees plus the costs of the suit. Petitioner appealed to
the CA. Then, petitioner was required to file the brief. On June 5, 1987 he filed a motion for
extension of time to file brief in the said court and this was granted, giving him a period of 60 days
from June 5, 1987 or until August 4, 1987 within which to file his brief. On July 17, 1987 petitioner
filed a motion to suspend proceedings before the appellate court due to the pendency of Inter Partes
case with the Philippine Patent Office, wherein petitioner sought to nullify the patent of private
respondent. And it was denied by the CA.
Thereafter petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration to which an opposition was filed by private
respondent but the motion was denied by the CA. On March 15, 1988 petitioner filed a motion for
extension of thirty (30) days within which to file brief on the ground that counsel is practising
alone and he had other cases to attend to. Again it was denied in a resolution issued by the CA. On
April 13, 1988 petitioner filed a motion to admit appellant's brief attaching the same to the motion.
But on April 22, 1988 the motion to admit brief of petitioner was denied. On April 18, 1988 the
CA dismissed the appeal for failure of petitioner to file the brief on time. On the same date, the
private respondent filed a manifestation and motion to strike out the motion to admit brief and the
attached brief in the same case. Petitioner then filed an omnibus motion for reconsideration of the
resolution issued by the CA. Again the CA denied petitioner's omnibus motion for reconsideration.
Hence, the herein petition for review on certiorari, the resolution of which revolves on whether or
not the dismissal of the appeal for failure to file the appellant's brief on time was proper. The
petition is devoid of merit.
ISSUE:
whether or not from the foregoing set of facts there can be a question that petitioner and his counsel
were grossly negligent.
HELD:
SC held that from the foregoing set of facts there can be no question that petitioner and his counsel
were grossly negligent.
Knowing that the period within which to file the brief was to expire on August 4, 1987, they should
have filed a motion for extension of time within which to file the brief or a suspension of time
within which to file the same pending resolution of the motion to suspend the proceedings in the
case. However, instead of taking any of these steps they assumed that the filing of the motion to
suspend proceedings automatically suspended the running of the period within which to file the
brief,, an assumption that is not supported by the Rules or any other authority. Moreover, when
petitioner filed on March 15, 1988 a motion for thirty (30) days extension of time within which to
file the brief, the motion was filed was past the period of time sought to be extended, i.e., seven
(7) months past. The rule is explicit that such motion for extension of time must be filed before
the expiration of time sought to be extended. The right to appeal is a statutory right and the party
who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirements of the Rules. Failing to do so,
the right to appeal is lost. More so in this case where petitioner not only neglected to file the
appellant's brief within the stipulated time but also failed to seek an extension of time for a cogent
ground before the expiration of the time sought to be extended.

[G.R. No. L-30871. December 28, 1970.]

AURORA P. DE LEON, Petitioner, v. HON. SERAFIN SALVADOR, as Judge of Branch


XIV of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Caloocan City), and EUSEBIO BERNABE,
ALBERTO A. VALINO, Special Deputy Sheriff of the Office of the Provincial Sheriff,
Province of Rizal, and the REGISTER OF DEEDS for Caloocan City, Respondents.

[G.R. No. L-31603. December 28, 1970]

EUSEBIO BERNABE, Petitioner, v. THE HONORABLE JUDGE FERNANDO A. CRUZ


of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Caloocan City, Branch XII, SPECIAL DEPUTY
SHERIFF, ALBERTO A. VALINO of the Provincial Sheriff of Rizal and AURORA P. DE
LEON, Respondents.

Jose A. Garcia and Ismael M. Estrella for Petitioner.

De los Santos, De los Santos & De los Santos and Felipe L. Abel for Respondents.

Felipe L. Abel for Petitioner.

Ismael M. Estrella and Jose A. Garcia for Respondents.

DECISION

FACTS:

Joint decision of two special civil actions which were ordered consolidated since they involve the
same properties and the common issue of conflict of jurisdiction of the two Caloocan City branches
of the Court of First Instance of Rizal.
Case L-30871 arose from the following facts: A judgment for P35,000.00-actual, moral and
exemplary damages obtained by Enrique de Leon against private respondent Eusebio Bernabe in
Civil Case No. C-189 of Branch XII of the Rizal court of first instance, Caloocan City branch
presided by Judge Fernando A. Cruz, having become final and executory, a writ of execution was
issued by said court. Pursuant thereto, the city sheriff, on November 8, 1966 levied on execution
on two parcels of land of 682.5 square meters each registered in the names of Bernabe under T.C.T.
Nos. 94985 and 94986 of Caloocan City. At the execution sale held on February 14, 1967, the city
sheriff sold the said properties to herein petitioner, Aurora (sister of the judgment creditor) as the
highest bidder for the total sum of P30,194.00, (the property then being subject to an existing
mortgage lien in the amount of P120,000.00). The sheriff executed the corresponding certificate
of sale in her favor, which was duly registered on February 21, 1967 with the Caloocan City
register of deeds.

On February 7, 1968, just about two weeks before the expiration of the one-year period to redeem
the properties sold in execution, the judgment debtor Bernabe filed a separate civil action docketed
as Civil Case No. C-1217 against his judgment creditor Enrique de Leon, herein petitioner Aurora
P. de Leon as purchaser and the sheriff as defendants for the setting aside or annulment of the
execution sale on February 14, 1967 "for being anomalous and irregular," and for the ordering of
a new auction sale. This second case, instead of being referred to Judge Cruz presiding over Branch
XII which had issued the writ of execution, was assigned to Branch XIV, the other Caloocan City
branch of the Rizal Court of First Instance presided by Judge Serafin Salvador, who issued on
February 19, 1968 a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining therein defendants, particularly the
sheriff to desist "from taking further proceedings against the properties of the plaintiff [Bernabe]
that were sold at public auction on February 14, 1967, and from issuing a sheriffs deed of sale at
the expiration of the period of redemption on February 21, 1968 in favor of defendant Aurora P.
de Leon." Aurora moved to dissolve the injunction and to dismiss this second case on the grounds
of laches and lack of jurisdiction of Judge Salvadors court to interfere with the execution
proceedings pending in the first case before Judge Cruz court which is of equal and co-ordinate
jurisdiction, but Judge Salvador denied the same for not being indubitable and tried the case,
notwithstanding Auroras pleas before and after the trial to resolve the issue of his courts lack of
jurisdiction.
Pending his decision, Judge Salvador issued on May 20, 1969 an order granting two ex-parte
motions of Bernabe of May 12, and May 15, 1969 and ordering the sheriff to allow Bernabe to
redeem the two properties sold at public auction more than two years ago on February 14, 1967
under the writ of execution issued by Judge Cruz court in the first case. On the following day,
May 21, 1969, Bernabe deposited with the sheriff the sum of P33,817.28 as the redemption price
(P15,987,00 per lot plus interests), who issued a certificate of redemption. Bernabe then registered
on the following day, May 22, 1969, the sheriffs certificate of redemption with the register of
deeds, who in turn cancelled the entry of the execution sale in favor of Aurora, as well as registered
on one of the properties covered by T.C.T. No. 94986 a deed of first mortgage executed on May
20, 1969 by Bernabe in favor of one Antonio de Zuzuarregui to secure a loan of P130,000.00.
Auroras motion of May 28, 1969 in the second case to set aside the order and certificate of
redemption and registration of mortgage on the ground of lack of jurisdiction was denied by Judge
Salvador, who ruled in his order of June 23, 1969 that "there is no question that this Court has
jurisdiction to hear and determine this case which questions the regularity and legality of the
auction sale of properties held on February 14, 1967, hence the authority granted by the Court to
redeem said properties within the redemption period in order to write finis to the pending case." 1
Hence, this action for certiorari filed by Aurora impleading the sheriff and the register of deeds for
the annulment and setting aside for lack of jurisdiction of the questioned orders of Judge Salvadors
court as well as of the challenged actuations of the other respondent officials pursuant thereto. As
prayed for, the Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining said respondents from doing
or taking any other act in connection with the said properties.
On May 30, 1969, Aurora also filed in the first case before Judge Cruz court a motion with proper
notice for consolidation of title and for the court to order the sheriff to issue in her favor a final
deed of sale over the subject parcels of land. Judge Cruz order of September 5, 1969, granting
Auroras motion over Bernabes opposition that he had redeemed on May 21, 1969 the said
properties by virtue of Judge Salvadors order of May 20, 1969 in the second case and ordering
Bernabe to surrender his owners duplicates of title for transfer to Aurora, in turn gave rise to Case
L-31603 filed by Bernabe. After Bernabes motion for reconsideration urging Judge Cruz to hold
in abeyance Auroras motion for consolidation of title until this Courts decision in Case L-30871
"which will end once and for all the legal controversy" over the conflict of jurisdiction between
the two courts, was denied by Judge Cruz order of January 8, 1970, he filed this action for
certiorari, impleading the sheriff, for the annulment and revocation of the questioned orders of
Judge Cruz, on the ground of the latters lack of jurisdiction to issue the same. As prayed for, the
Court also issued a writ of preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Judge Cruz orders,
until the conflict between the parties could be finally resolved.
ISSUE:
which court, Branch XII presided by Judge Cruz or Branch XIV presided by Judge Salvador has
exclusive jurisdiction to set aside for alleged irregularities the execution sale held on February 14,
1967 by virtue of the writ for the execution of the final judgment in the first case (No. C-189)
issued by Judge Cruz court and to order a new auction sale which was the relief sought by the
judgment debtor in the second case (No. C-1217) in Judge Salvadors court?
HELD:
It is patent that such exclusive jurisdiction was vested in Judge Cruz court. Having acquired
jurisdiction over Case No. C-189 and rendered judgment that had become final and executory, it
retained jurisdiction over its judgment, to the exclusion of all other co-ordinate courts for its
execution and all incidents thereof, and to control, in furtherance of justice, the conduct of its
ministerial officers in connection therewith. 2 Execution of its judgment having been carried out
by the sheriff with the levy and sale of the judgment debtors properties, Eusebio Bernabe as
judgment debtor could not in the guise of a new and separate second action (Case No. 1217) ask
another court of coordinate jurisdiction, Judge Salvadors court, to interfere by injunction with the
execution proceedings, to set them aside and to order the holding of a new execution sale instead
of seeking such relief by proper motion and application from Judge Cruz court which had
exclusive jurisdiction over the execution proceedings and the properties sold at the execution sale.
As early as 1922, in Cabigao v. del Rosario, 3 this Court laid down the doctrine that "no court has
power to interfere by injunction with the judgments or decrees of a court of concurrent or
coordinate jurisdiction having power to grant the relief sought by injunction," pointing out that"
(T)he various branches of the Court of First Instance of Manila are in a sense coordinate courts
and to allow them to interfere with each others judgments or decrees by injunctions would
obviously lead to confusion and might seriously hinder the administration of justice."cralaw
virtua1aw library
The Court similarly ruled in Hubahib v. Insular Drug Co., Inc., 4 with reference to Branch II of
the Cebu court of first instance having taken cognizance of an independent action for the
annulment of a writ of execution issued by Branch III of the same court which has rendered the
judgment, that "the institution of said action was not only improper but also absolutely unjustified,
on the ground that the appellant had the remedy of applying to the same Branch III of the lower
court, which issued the orders in question, for reconsideration thereof . . . or of appealing from
said orders or from that denying his motion in case such order has been issued. The various
branches of a Court of First Instance of a province or city, having as they have the same or equal
authority and exercising as they do concurrent and coordinate jurisdiction, should not, cannot, and
are not permitted to interfere with their respective cases, much less with their orders or judgments,
by means of injunction."cralaw virtua1aw library
In National Power Corporation v. De Veyra, 5 the Court, through former Chief Justice Bengzon,
thus explained that the garnishment or levy of property on execution brings the property into
custodia legis of the court issuing the writ of execution, beyond the interference of all other co-
ordinate courts, thereby avoiding conflicts of power between such courts:" (T)he garnishment of
property to satisfy a writ of execution operates as an attachment and fastens upon the property a
lien by which the property is brought under the jurisdiction of the court issuing the writ." It is
brought into custodia legis, under the sole control of such court. Property is in the custody of the
court when it has been seized by an officer either under a writ of attachment on mesne process or
under a writ of execution. A court which has control of such property, exercises exclusive
jurisdiction over the same. No court, except one having a supervisory control or superior
jurisdiction in the premises, has a right to interfere with and change that possession."cralaw
virtua1aw library
The Court in striking down the Baguio courts issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against
the Baguio City sheriffs garnishment of cash funds of Baguio City deposited in the Baguio branch
of the Philippine National Bank pursuant to a writ of execution issued by the Manila court of first
instance for the satisfaction of a final judgment rendered in favor of the National Power
Corporation, and its assuming cognizance of the separate complaint filed with it, duly indicated
the proper procedure in such cases and the fundamental reason therefor:" (T)he reason advanced
by the respondent court of Baguio City that it should grant relief when there is apparently an
illegal service of the writ (the property garnished being allegedly exempt from execution) may
not be upheld, there being a better procedure to follow, i.e., a resort to the Manila court, wherein
the remedy may be obtained, it being the court under whose authority the illegal levy had been
made. Needless to say, an effective ordering of legal relationships in civil society is possible only
when each court is granted exclusive jurisdiction over the property brought to it." 6
The Court time and again has applied this long established doctrine admonishing court and litigant
alike last year in Luciano v. Provincial Governor 7 that a judge of a branch of a court may not
interfere with the proceedings before a judge of another branch of the same court.
The properties in question were brought into custodia legis of Judge Cruz court and came under
its exclusive jurisdiction when they were levied upon by the sheriff pursuant to the writ for
execution of the judgment rendered by said court. The levy is the essential act by which the
judgment debtor s property is set apart for the satisfaction of the judgment and taken into custody
of the law, and from such time the court issuing the execution acquires exclusive jurisdiction over
the property and all subsequent claims of other parties are subordinated thereto, irrespective of the
time when the property is actually sold. 8 The execution sale having been carried out upon order
of Judge Cruz court, any and all questions concerning the validity and regularity of the sale
necessarily had to be addressed to his court which had exclusive jurisdiction over the properties
and were beyond interference by Judge Salvador s court. Justice Cruz court alone had jurisdiction
subject only to the supervisory control or appellate jurisdiction of superior courts to rule
upon the regularity and validity of the sale conducted by its ministerial officers from the sheriffs
office, and his affirmative ruling thereon could not be interfered with by injunction of, nor sought
to be foreclosed by, the challenged orders of Judge Salvadors court.

Bernabes contention that "he does not attempt to annul or nullify the judgment or order issued by
(Judge Cruz court) . . . If (Judge Salvadors Court) finds the allegations of the complaint to be
true, then it has the jurisdiction to order a new auction sale, which has nothing to do with the
judgments or decrees issued by Judge Cruz court)" 9 is untenable. As above stated, the properties
upon being levied on and sold by virtue of Judge Cruz order of execution were brought into the
exclusive custodia legis of Judge Cruz court This is but in accordance with the established
principle that "A case in which an execution has been issued is regarded as still pending, so that
all proceedings on the execution are proceedings in the suit" 10 and that" (A)n execution is the
fruit and end of the suit, and is very aptly called the life of the law. The suit does not terminate
with the judgment; and all proceedings on the execution, are proceedings in the suit, and which
are expressly, by the act of Congress, put under the regulation and control of the Court of which it
issues. It is a power incident to every Court from which process issues, when delivered to the
proper officer, to enforce upon such officer a compliance with his duty." 11 Any and all questions
involving the execution sale concerned the proceedings in Judge Cruz court and had to be raised
and determined in that court, subject to review by the higher courts. They could not be improperly
passed upon by another co-ordinate court behind the back, as it were of Judge Cruz court.
Judge Salvadors order of May 20, 1969 granting two ex-parte motions of the judgment debtor
Bernabe and directing the sheriff to allow the redemption of the properties notwithstanding that
the one-year redemption period had already lapsed more than one year ago on February 21, 1968
(one year after registration on May 21, 1967 of the sheriffs sale of May 14, 1967) was equally
untenable. It must be noted that Bernabes action in Judge Salvadors court filed on February 7,
1968 two weeks before the expiration of the redemption period sought to set aside the execution
sale and to have a new auction sale ordered, on the grounds that the sheriff had allegedly sold the
two parcels of land jointly instead of separately, and that the total sales price of P30,194.00 was
shocking to the conscience, alleging that the two parcels, if sold separately, could easily be sold at
P235,000.00 and P150,000.00. Pending decision and without ruling squarely on his courts lack
of jurisdiction over the properties, Judge Salvador peremptorily issued his redemption order on
Bernabes bare manifestation that" (he) has but barely two days left of the one (1) year period
granted by law to redeem" and that" (he) is now ready and willing to redeem" the properties.
Aside from the basic lack of jurisdiction of Judge Salvadors court to issue the redemption order,
the order per se suffered from other grave flaws. Bernabes motions in effect amounted to an
abandonment of his position on the alleged irregularity of the execution sale, and the logical
consequence thereof which have been the dismissal of his suit. (Thus, soon after Auroras filing
of her action for certiorari in this Court, Bernabe filed his so-called "Urgent Motion to Dismiss"
of August 27, 1969 with Judge Salvadors court praying for the dismissal of the very case filed by
him on the ground that having redeemed the properties, "the case can therefore be considered
closed and terminated considering that defendants [Aurora, Et. Al.] did not interpose any appeal"
from the redemption order) But Bernabes motions were presented on May 12 and May 15, 1969
and it was self-evident from the record that the one-year period for redemption had long expired
more than a year ago on February 21, 1968 as above stated and that Bernabes allegations that he
had two days left of the redemption period was a gratuitous one. Nothing in the record indicates
that Bernabe had ever timely made a valid offer of redemption so as to safeguard his right thereto
prior to his filing his separate action questioning the validity of the execution sale. It was therefore
void and illogical for Judge Salvador to rule, in denying Auroras motion for reconsideration, that
"there is no question that this Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine this case which questions
the regularity and legality of the auction sale of properties held on February 14, 1967, hence the
authority granted by the Court to redeem said properties within the redemption period in order to
write finis to the pending case." For Judge Salvador thereby begged the basic prejudicial questions
of his courts lack of jurisdiction and the expiration over a year ago of Bernabes alleged right of
redemption, not to mention that any grant of such right to redeem could not be decreed in a
summary unreasoned order but would have to be adjudged in a formal decision reciting the facts
and the law on which it is based, and which may not be immediately executed, without a special
order therefor. Under Judge Salvadors void orders, all that a judgment debtor whose properties
have been sold at execution sale but who does not have the funds to effect redemption has to do to
unilaterally extend the one-year redemption period would be to file a separate action before another
court of co-ordinate jurisdiction questioning the regularity of the execution sale and upon his
getting the funds, notwithstanding the expiration of the redemption period, get an order of
redemption and ask the court "to write finis to the pending case" which should have been
dismissed in the first instance for lack of jurisdiction.
The doctrine cited that a court or a branch thereof may not interfere with the proceedings before a
judge of another court or branch of the same court since they are all courts of equal and co-ordinate
jurisdiction is an elementary doctrine that has been established with the very system of courts.
Understandable as Bernabes plight and financial predicament may be, still it is incomprehensible
why he should futilely resort, as he did, to filing his separate action with Judge Salvadors court
which patently lacked jurisdiction over the properties sold in execution instead of questioning the
regularity of the execution sale before Judge Cruz court as the court of competent and exclusive
jurisdiction, and properly applying, if he had just grounds, for extension of the redemption period.
As to the alleged gross inadequacy of the price of P30,194.00 paid by Aurora when according to
Bernabe the properties could have been easily sold for a total price of P385,000.00, Bernabe has
admitted that there was an existing mortgage lien on the properties in the amount of P120,000,00
which necessarily affected their value. This question was not raised at all before Judge Cruz court
nor did Judge Salvador rule thereupon, since he merely issued his void order of redemption. Suffice
it to state on the basis of the record, however, that the failure of Bernabe to timely sell the properties
for their fair value through negotiated sales with third persons either before or after the execution
sale in order to be able to discharge his judgment debt or redeem the properties within the
redemption period, or to raise the necessary amount therefrom to so effect redemption
notwithstanding that they have been collecting the substantial monthly rentals thereof of P2,500.00
monthly even up to now 12 can be attributed only to his own failings and gross improvidence.
They cannot be cited in law or in equity to defeat the lawful claim of Aurora nor to give validity
to the void orders of Judge Salvadors court. The applicable rule on forced sales where the law
gives the owner the right of redemption was thus stated by the Court in Velasquez v. Coronel: 13
"However, while in ordinary sales for reasons of equity a transaction may be invalidated on the
ground of inadequacy of price, or when such inadequacy shocks ones conscience as to justify the
courts to interfere, such does not follow when the law gives to the owner the right to redeem, as
when a sale is made at public auction, upon the theory that the lesser the price the easier it is for
the owner to effect the redemption. And so it was aptly said: When there is the right to redeem,
inadequacy of price should not be material, because the judgment debtor may reacquire the
property or also sell his right to redeem and thus recover the loss he claims to have suffered by
reason of the price obtained at the auction sale."
Bernabes petition challenging the jurisdiction of Judge Cruz court to issue its orders of
September 5, 1969 and January 5, 1970, confirming Auroras acquisition of title to the properties
by virtue of the execution sale and ordering Bernabe to transfer possession thereof to her, because
of the separate civil action filed by him in Judge Salvadors court, must necessarily fail since
said orders were within the exclusive competence and jurisdiction of Judge Cruz court.
ACCORDINGLY, in Case L-30871, the writ of certiorari prayed for his granted; respondent Judge
Salvadors court is declared without jurisdiction over Civil Case No. C-1217 other than to dismiss
the same and the writ of preliminary injunction of February 19, 1968 therein issued and the orders
of May 20, 1969 and June 23, 1969 therein issued, as well as respondent sheriffs certificate of
redemption issued on May 21, 1969 are set aside and declared null and void; and the writ of
preliminary injunction issued by the Court on September 2, 1969, is made permanent. In Case L-
31603, the petition for certiorari is dismissed and the writ of preliminary injunction issued by this
Court on February 11, 1970 is dissolved. No pronouncement as to costs

DINNA CASTILLO, complainant, vs. ZENAIDA C. BUENCILLO, Legal Researcher and


OIC, respondent.

RESOLUTION

FACTS:
Dinna Castillo was private complainant in for Estafa entitled, People vs. Ronnie Zabella and
Angelita Zabella, before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 30, San Pablo City, Laguna. During its
hearing on May 31, 1995, the accused offered P70,000.00 as settlement for the civil aspect of the
case. Castillo was reluctant to accept the amount for being insufficient, prompting the counsel for
the accused to suggest that the money be left with the court. Presiding Judge Zorayda H. Salcedo
agreed and ordered herein respondent Zenaida Buencillo, OIC-Branch Clerk of Court, to receive
the amount from the accused. Fearful that the money might be lost if left in the office steel cabinet
which had no lock, respondent deposited the same in her personal bank account at the Homeowners
Savings and Loan Bank.
On July 24, 1995, the criminal case was provisionally dismissed for lack of interest on the part of
private complainant Castillo. Accused Zabella settled the civil aspect, giving Castillo postdated
checks as payment for his obligation, including the P70,000.00 already deposited in court. Castillo
then requested Buencillo to give her the P70,000.00. Buencillo remitted to Castillo by way of a
withdrawal slip authorization the amount of P50,000.00, retaining in her possession the amount of
P20,000.00. It is this P20,000.00 that triggered the instant administrative complaint filed by
Castillo against Buencillo for alleged serious misconduct and dishonesty.
Respondent contends that the P20,000.00 was voluntarily left by complainant, along with three (3)
postdated checks received from Zabella, to answer for the latters monetary obligation in
connection with a paluwagan system complainant participated in.
Complainant, however, contends that respondent refused to give the P20,000.00, and that
complainant accepted the withdrawal slip of P50,000.00 because it was better than receiving
nothing. She claimed she tried to collect the amount several times, but respondent still refused to
hand over the remaining P20,000.00. Complainants lawyer sent respondent a demand letter on
January 17, 1996, but the latter ignored the same. Complainant filed an administrative complaint
on January 29, 1996 against respondent for alleged serious misconduct and dishonesty.
Complainant also filed a supplemental complaint, alleging that respondent has been operating a
canteen within the premises of the Dizon Hall of Justice in San Pablo City since 1993, moving it
beside the Hall of Justice in 1996 and succeeding in stealing electricity and water from the city
government through illegal connections. Complainant charged that respondents acts violated
Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 3-92 on the prohibition against the use of the Halls of
Justice for residential or commercial purposes.
Respondent, in her comment, denied that she is the owner of the canteen located beside the Dizon
Hall of Justice, the canteen being registered under the name of Nelson V. Cavero, Jr., her son-in-
law. She also claimed that the administrative complaint was filed to harass and malign her,
complainant hoping to secure leverage in two criminal complaints filed by respondent against
complainant for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. The resolution of the prosecutor of these
criminal complaints was promulgated on January 23, 1996, six days before the administrative
complaint against respondent was filed by complainant.
ISSUE:
whether or not respondent may retain the P20,000.00 and apply the same to offset the paluwagan
debt of complainant to the former;
HELD:
the alleged irregularity in the withholding of the P20,000.00 by the respondent, complainant admits
that she owed respondent money for her participation in the paluwagan, but contends that she did
not want to use the P20,000.00 for payment, instead giving respondent three postdated checks of
P8,000.00 each, totaling P24,000.00. However, the refusal of respondent to turn over the
P20,000.00 was never brought to the attention of the trial court. Complainants first recourse should
have been to report to the trial judge that the money remitted to her was incomplete. Surely the
judge would have been able to see from the record that P70,000.00 was turned over to respondent
and complainant was entitled to the full amount. There was no action of this sort on the part of
complainant. She further testified:
. . . my remaining obligation to Mrs. Buencillo at that time was only P20,000.00
(tsn, Jan. 7, 2000, p. 13.)
It would, therefore, appear that it was not necessary for complainant to leave additional checks
with respondent since complainant was already aware that respondent refused to turn over the
P20,000.00. In effect, complainant left P47,000.00 with respondent on July 24, 1995, indicating
that complainant actually owed respondent more than P20,000.00 at that time. Also, respondents
issuance of a certification on January 16, 1996 that she received P70,000.00 and proceeded to
deposit the same amount in her personal bank account clearly demonstrated that respondent had
nothing out of the ordinary to hide.
There may, indeed have been an understanding between complainant and respondent that the
P20,000.00 would be used to offset complainants monetary obligation to respondent in the
paluwagan. However, respondent should be reminded that her private dealings and businesses
should not be mixed with her public duties. While private individuals may normally offset their
obligations upon agreement, public officials hold a different position in society and must always
bear in mind that their actions reflect their status as such. Public officials and employees should
always uphold public interest over and above personal interest (Section 4[a], R.A. 6713, Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees). They are enjoined to respond
to the call of their duties with the highest degree of dedication often beyond their own interests
(Re: Report of Senior Staff Officer Antonina A. Soria, 299 SCRA 63 [1998]). It is for this reason
that the Court agrees with the recommendation of the Office of Court Administrator that the
P20,000.00 be returned to complainant, without prejudice to respondents right to file an
appropriate action to recover complainants obligation to respondent

THIRD DIVISION
SPS. SALVACION SERRANO G.R. No. 145874
LADANGA and AGUSTIN
LADANGA,
Petitioners,
Present :
PANGANIBAN, J., Chairman,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES and
GARCIA, JJ.

BERNARDO ASENETA,
Respondent. Promulgated :

September 30, 2005


x------------------------------------------x

DECISION
CORONA, J.:

FACTS:
Petitioner Salvacion Ladanga and respondent Bernardo Aseneta were first cousins. They were both
reared and educated by their aunt Clemencia Aseneta. Respondent Bernardo was adopted by
Clemencia on June 30, 1961 in a special proceeding[3] before the then Juvenile and Domestic
Relations Court (JDRC) of Manila.
In her lifetime, Clemencia Aseneta owned several parcels of land in Manila, Quezon City and
Albay from which she derived rentals. Among these properties was the disputed parcel of land
located in Diliman, Quezon City.
Respondent Bernardo alleged that sometime in 1974, Clemencia complained that she was not
receiving the rentals from petitioner spouses to whom she had entrusted the administration of her
properties. Bernardo investigated the matter. He found out that Clemencia purportedly sold nine
parcels of land[4] to petitioner spouses on April 6, 1974. Among the properties sold was the land
in Diliman, Quezon City covered by TCT No. 5813 (Diliman property). The deed of sale[5]
showed that the land had been sold by Clemencia to petitioner Salvacion for only P20,000 although
the market value stated in the tax declaration was P134,130. TCT No. 197624 was then issued by
the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to petitioner Salvacion Serrano Ladanga. The consideration
for the eight other properties sold to petitioner spouses on the same day amounted to P60,200
which was supposedly paid in cash to Clemencia.

Respondent Bernardo also found out that a parcel of land in Cubao, Quezon City and covered by
TCT No. 177619 (Cubao property) had been sold by Clemencia to petitioner Salvacion on
November 8, 1974. The lot was priced at P12,000[6] although the market value stated in the tax
declaration was P42,000. TCT No. 204090 was correspondingly issued in the name of petitioner
Salvacion Ladanga for this property.
Respondent Bernardo confronted Clemencia about the incredulous sales to petitioners. However,
the latter denied selling the properties to and receiving payment from them. This prompted
respondent to file guardianship proceedings[7] for Clemencia before the then JDRC of Quezon
City
In an order[8] dated April 17, 1975, the JDRC declared Clemencia Aseneta, a 76-year-old spinster,
an incompetent and an easy victim of deceit and exploitation. It further directed the issuance of
Letters of Guardianship[9] to respondent Bernardo for the person and properties of Clemencia.
Respondent Bernardo, as guardian of Clemencia, then filed in various courts actions for
reconveyance and accounting of rentals against petitioner spouses for the ten sales. For the Diliman
and Cubao properties, the action was brought before Branch 93, RTC Quezon City.[10]
In their answer[11], petitioner spouses alleged that Clemencia was disgusted with respondent
Bernardo who was purportedly cheating her of the rentals from her properties. She therefore
appointed petitioner Salvacions husband, Dr. Agustin Ladanga, as administrator in 1969 for the
properties in Albay, and in 1972 for the properties in Manila and Quezon City. Petitioner Agustin
paid the income and realty taxes on the properties. He also paid for the necessary repairs on the
leased properties and all other fees in behalf of Clemencia. According to petitioner spouses,
Clemencia sold her properties to them because of her bitterness towards respondent Bernardo and
also out of gratitude to them for taking care of her. They further alleged that a certain Atty.
Arambulo prepared all the deeds of sale and that they paid Clemencia in the presence of the lawyers
who notarized the documents.
When Clemencia died[12] during the pendency of the proceedings in the trial court, respondent
Bernardo substituted her in the action as legal heir.[13]
At the hearing, respondent Bernardo presented Atty. Dominador Arambulo who notarized the
deeds of sale executed on April 6, 1974 and the deposition of Atty. Efren Barangan who notarized
the deed of sale executed on November 8, 1974. Both lawyers declared that the deeds of sale were
already prepared when they notarized them in their respective offices. They also denied witnessing
the actual payment allegedly made by petitioner spouses to Clemencia.
After a prolonged trial lasting 20 years, the court a quo rendered judgment declaring that no
contract of sale was perfected either for the Diliman or for the Cubao property. According to the
trial court, there was no clear agreement between the parties on the subject matter and
consideration considering that while Miss (Clemencia) Aseneta appear(ed) to have signed the
subject documents, there were strong indications that she was not aware of the import of the
documents that she had signed. The trial court also observed that the purported considerations of
the properties sold by Clemencia to petitioner spouses were grossly disproportionate to their
market values as indicated in the tax declarations. The dispositive portion read:

WHEREFORE, premises considered by preponderance of evidence, the Court finds in favor of the
plaintiff and against the defendants, and hereby orders as follows:

A. For defendants spouses Ladanga to reconvey the titles and possession to the property now
covered (by) TCT Nos. 197624 and 294090 to the plaintiffs for and in behalf of Miss Clemencia
Aseneta;

B. For the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel TCT Nos. 197624 and 204090 and to
issue new transfer certificates of title in lieu of those cancelled, upon payment of the required fees
by the plaintiff, in the name of Miss Clemencia Aseneta;

C. For the defendants spouses Ladanga to render within fifteen (15) days an accounting of rentals
received from the properties covered by TCT No. 197624 from April, 1974 up to the present and
so with the property under TCT No. 204090 from November, 1974 up to the present and to remit
said rentals to the plaintiff minus any amount paid by the defendants Ladanga as realty taxes for
the period mentioned;

D. For defendants Ladanga to pay plaintiff P10,000.00 as reasonable attorneys fees; and

E. Cost of suit.

SO ORDERED.[14]
In the meantime, the parties entered into a compromise agreement on the Cubao property and, after
securing court approval, sold it to a third party in 1987.

During the pendency of the appeal, respondent Bernardo filed a motion to cite petitioners in
contempt after they sold the Diliman property to a certain Bernardo Hizon on July 6, 1996 in spite
of the annotation of lis pendens at the back of the title. Respondent insisted that the sale amounted
to a fraudulent deception, a defiance of court authority and obstruction of justice because the
property was in custodia legis and could not be disposed of without the necessary court approval.

The motion was denied by the Court of Appeals which held that the property was not in custodia
legis. It, however, observed that Bernardo Hizon, being a transferee pendente lite, took the property
subject to the outcome of the appeal. The appellate court thereafter affirmed the trial courts
judgment with respect to the remaining Diliman property.[15]
ISSUE:
whether the price was grossly disproportionate to the market value of the land in question.

HELD:
The issues raised by petitioners are purely factual. The Court, not being a trier of facts, does not
normally re-examine the evidence submitted by the contending parties during the trial of a case.
Findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, affirming those of the trial court, are final and
conclusive.[17] The jurisdiction of the Court in a petition for review on certiorari is limited to
reviewing only errors of law, not of fact, unless it is shown, inter alia, that: (1) the conclusion is
grounded on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) the inference is manifestly mistaken, absurd
and impossible; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on
misapprehension of facts; (5) the findings of fact are conflicting and (6) the Court of Appeals went
beyond the issues of the case and its findings are contrary to the admissions of both parties.[18]

We decline to review, much more reverse, the trial and appellate courts findings.

The facts of this case are the same as those of Ladanga v. Court of Appeals (L-55999)[19]
promulgated on August 24, 1984. In that case, we voided the sale between Clemencia and
petitioner Salvacion of a Manila property included in the nine parcels of land purportedly sold on
April 6, 1974.

With respect to the seven remaining parcels of land located in Albay and ostensibly sold on the
same day, the Court of Appeals ruled in the same manner and nullified the various sales.[20] In its
decision, the appellate court held:
Plaintiffs [respondent Bernardos] theory that L-55999 is now the law of the case is never doubted
by this Court.

xxx

And because all lower Courts should take their bearings from the Supreme Court, this Court has
no other choice but to treat L-55999 as the law of this case, the properties involved being same
properties included in the deed of sale executed in one single day before the same notary public
using identical witnesses, same parties and same facts. So far there is no showing that aforesaid
ruling has been reversed and this Court has to meekly follow the light emanating therefrom in
order not to be lost.

Stare decisis et non quieta movere. Let the decision stand and disturb not what is already settled.
The doctrine of stare decisis is a salutary and necessary rule. When a court lays down a principle
of law applicable to a certain state of facts, it must adhere to such principle and apply it to all future
cases in which the facts sued upon are substantially the same.[21] Once a case is decided one way,
then another case involving exactly the same point at issue should be decided the same way.[22]
It proceeds from the principle of justice that, absent any powerful countervailing considerations,
like cases ought to be decided alike.[23]

The ten cases for reconveyance brought by respondent Bernardo in various courts having
jurisdiction over the real properties sold on April 6, 1974 and November 8, 1974 were similar,
except for the descriptions of the properties. Only one has remained unresolved. The rest have
either been settled or the contracts of sale declared void by the courts for insufficiency of
consideration. Thus, in Ladanga v. Court of Appeals:[24]
The questions ventilated by the Ladangas in their briefs and in their comment of April 3, 1984 may
be reduced to the issue of the validity of the sale which the vendor Clemencia herself assailed in
her testimony on August 16 and December 3, 1976 when she was eighty years old. Her testimony
and that of the notary leave no doubt that the price xxx was never paid.

A contract of sale is void and produces no effect whatsoever where the price, which appears therein
as paid, has in fact never been paid by the purchaser to the vendor.

Such a sale is inexistent and cannot be considered consummated.


It was not shown that Clemencia intended to donate the xxx property to the Ladangas. Her
testimony and the notarys testimony destroyed any presumption that the sale was fair and regular
and for a true consideration.

xxx. [T]he Ladangas abused Clemencias confidence and defrauded her of properties with a market
value of P393,559.25 when she was already 78 years old. (citations omitted)

Hence, for the sake of certainty and the stability of case law, the conclusions reached in that earlier
case should be followed here.

As to the issue of contempt, suffice it to say that the Court of Appeals was correct. A notice of lis
pendens is an announcement to the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation and
serves as a warning that one who acquires an interest over said property does so at his own risk[25],
or that he gambles on the result of the litigation. The property subject of litigation is not by that
fact alone in custodia legis. It is only when property is lawfully taken by virtue of legal process
that it becomes in custodia legis, and not otherwise.

Considering that the disputed property was not in the custody of the court, petitioner spouses
cannot be held liable for contempt when they sold it to a third person. The transferee Bernardo
Hizon, however, being presumed by law to be aware of the ongoing litigation over the property, is
bound by this decision and shall transfer the Diliman property back to the estate of Clemencia
Aseneta, with financial recourse to petitioner spouses.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the decision of the Court of Appeals
AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 135190. April 3, 2002]

SOUTHEAST MINDANAO GOLD MINING CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. BALITE


PORTAL MINING COOPERATIVE and others similarly situated; and THE
HONORABLE ANTONIO CERILLES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PROVINCIAL MINING REGULATORY
BOARD OF DAVAO (PMRB-Davao), respondents.

DECISION
FACTS:

This is a petition for review of the March 19, 1998 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 44693, dismissing the special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, and
the resolution dated August 19, 1998 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.

The instant case involves a rich tract of mineral land situated in the Agusan-Davao-Surigao Forest
Reserve known as the Diwalwal Gold Rush Area. Located at Mt. Diwata in the municipalities of
Monkayo and Cateel in Davao Del Norte, the land has been embroiled in controversy since the
mid-80s due to the scramble over gold deposits found within its bowels.

From 1985 to 1991, thousands of people flocked to Diwalwal to stake their respective claims.
Peace and order deteriorated rapidly, with hundreds of people perishing in mine accidents, man-
made or otherwise, brought about by unregulated mining activities. The multifarious problems
spawned by the gold rush assumed gargantuan proportions, such that finding a win-win solution
became a veritable needle in a haystack.

On March 10, 1988, Marcopper Mining Corporation (Marcopper) was granted Exploration Permit
No. 133 (EP No. 133) over 4,491 hectares of land, which included the hotly-contested Diwalwal
area.[1] Marcoppers acquisition of mining rights over Diwalwal under its EP No. 133 was
subsequently challenged before this Court in Apex Mining Co., Inc., et al. v. Hon. Cancio C.
Garcia, et al.,[2] where Marcoppers claim was sustained over that of another mining firm, Apex
Mining Corporation (Apex). The Court found that Apex did not comply with the procedural
requisites for acquiring mining rights within forest reserves.

Not long thereafter, Congress enacted on June 27, 1991 Republic Act No. 7076, or the Peoples
Small-Scale Mining Act. The law established a Peoples Small-Scale Mining Program to be
implemented by the Secretary of the DENR[3] and created the Provincial Mining Regulatory
Board (PMRB) under the DENR Secretarys direct supervision and control.[4] The statute also
authorized the PMRB to declare and set aside small-scale mining areas subject to review by the
DENR Secretary[5] and award mining contracts to small-scale miners under certain conditions.[6]

On December 21, 1991, DENR Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran issued Department Administrative
Order (DAO) No. 66, declaring 729 hectares of the Diwalwal area as non-forest land open to small-
scale mining.[7] The issuance was made pursuant to the powers vested in the DENR Secretary by
Proclamation No. 369, which established the Agusan-Davao-Surigao Forest Reserve.

Subsequently, a petition for the cancellation of EP No. 133 and the admission of a Mineral
Production Sharing Arrangement (MPSA) proposal over Diwalwal was filed before the DENR
Regional Executive Director, docketed as RED Mines Case No. 8-8-94 entitled, Rosendo Villaflor,
et al. v. Marcopper Mining Corporation.

On February 16, 1994, while the RED Mines case was pending, Marcopper assigned its EP No.
133 to petitioner Southeast Mindanao Gold Mining Corporation (SEM),[8] which in turn applied
for an integrated MPSA over the land covered by the permit.

In due time, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No. XI in Davao City (MGB-XI)
accepted and registered the integrated MPSA application of petitioner. After publication of the
application, the following filed their oppositions:

a) MAC Case No. 004(XI) - JB Management Mining Corporation;


b) MAC Case No. 005(XI) - Davao United Miners Cooperative;
c) MAC Case No. 006(XI) - Balite Integrated Small Scale Miners Cooperative;
d) MAC Case No. 007(XI) - Monkayo Integrated Small Scale Miners Association, Inc.;
e) MAC Case No. 008(XI) - Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines;
f) MAC Case No. 009(XI) - Rosendo Villaflor, et al.;
g) MAC Case No. 010(XI) - Antonio Dacudao;
h) MAC Case No. 011(XI) - Atty. Jose T. Amacio;
i) MAC Case No. 012(XI) - Puting-Bato Gold Miners Cooperative;
j) MAC Case No. 016(XI) - Balite Communal Portal Mining Cooperative; and
k) MAC Case No. 97-01(XI) - Romeo Altamera, et al.
In the meantime, on March 3, 1995, Republic Act No. 7942, the Philippine Mining Act, was
enacted. Pursuant to this statute, the above-enumerated MAC cases were referred to a Regional
Panel of Arbitrators (RPA) tasked to resolve disputes involving conflicting mining rights. The
RPA subsequently took cognizance of the RED Mines case, which was consolidated with the MAC
cases.

On April 1, 1997, Provincial Mining Regulatory Board of Davao passed Resolution No. 26, Series
of 1997, authorizing the issuance of ore transport permits (OTPs) to small-scale miners operating
in the Diwalwal mines.

Thus, on May 30, 1997, petitioner filed a complaint for damages before the Regional Trial Court
of Makati City, Branch 61, against the DENR Secretary and PMRB-Davao. SEM alleged that the
illegal issuance of the OTPs allowed the extraction and hauling of P60,000.00 worth of gold ore
per truckload from SEMs mining claim.

Meanwhile, on June 13, 1997, the RPA resolved the Consolidated Mines cases and decreed in an
Omnibus Resolution as follows:

VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, the validity of Exploration Permit No. 133 is
hereby reiterated and all the adverse claims against MPSAA No. 128 are DISMISSED.[9]

On June 24, 1997, the DENR Secretary issued Memorandum Order No. 97-03[10] which provided,
among others, that:

1. The DENR shall study thoroughly and exhaustively the option of direct state utilization of the
mineral resources in the Diwalwal Gold-Rush Area. Such study shall include, but shall not be
limited to, studying and weighing the feasibility of entering into management agreements or
operating agreements, or both, with the appropriate government instrumentalities or private
entities, or both, in carrying out the declared policy of rationalizing the mining operations in the
Diwalwal Gold Rush Area; such agreements shall include provisions for profit-sharing between
the state and the said parties, including profit-sharing arrangements with small-scale miners, as
well as the payment of royalties to indigenous cultural communities, among others. The
Undersecretary for Field Operations, as well as the Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative
Affairs and Attached Agencies, and the Director of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau are hereby
ordered to undertake such studies. x x x[11]

On July 16, 1997, petitioner filed a special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus
before the Court of Appeals against PMRB-Davao, the DENR Secretary and Balite Communal
Portal Mining Cooperative (BCPMC), which represented all the OTP grantees. It prayed for the
nullification of the above-quoted Memorandum Order No. 97-03 on the ground that the direct state
utilization espoused therein would effectively impair its vested rights under EP No. 133; that the
DENR Secretary unduly usurped and interfered with the jurisdiction of the RPA which had
dismissed all adverse claims against SEM in the Consolidated Mines cases; and that the
memorandum order arbitrarily imposed the unwarranted condition that certain studies be
conducted before mining and environmental laws are enforced by the DENR.

Meanwhile, on January 6, 1998, the MAB rendered a decision in the Consolidated Mines cases,
setting aside the judgment of the RPA.[12] This MAB decision was then elevated to this Court by
way of a consolidated petition, docketed as G.R. Nos. 132475 and 132528.

On March 19, 1998, the Court of Appeals, through a division of five members voting 3-2,[13]
dismissed the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 44693. It ruled that the DENR Secretary did not abuse
his discretion in issuing Memorandum Order No. 97-03 since the same was merely a directive to
conduct studies on the various options available to the government for solving the Diwalwal
conflict. The assailed memorandum did not conclusively adopt direct state utilization as official
government policy on the matter, but was simply a manifestation of the DENRs intent to consider
it as one of its options, after determining its feasibility through studies. MO 97-03 was only the
initial step in the ladder of administrative process and did not, as yet, fix any obligation, legal
relationship or right. It was thus premature for petitioner to claim that its constitutionally-protected
rights under EP No. 133 have been encroached upon, much less, violated by its issuance.

Additionally, the appellate court pointed out that petitioners rights under EP No. 133 are not
inviolable, sacrosanct or immutable. Being in the nature of a privilege granted by the State, the
permit can be revoked, amended or modified by the Chief Executive when the national interest so
requires. The Court of Appeals, however, declined to rule on the validity of the OTPs, reasoning
that said issue was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the RPA.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the above decision, which was denied for lack of
merit on August 19, 1998.[14]
ISSUE:
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE AND REVERSIBLE
ERROR, AND HAS DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE NOT THERETOFORE
DETERMINED BY THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT, OR HAS DECIDED IT IN A
WAY PROBABLY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT IN UPHOLDING THE QUESTIONED ACTS OF RESPONDENT
DENR SECRETARY WHICH ARE IN VIOLATION OF MINING LAWS AND IN
DEROGATION OF PETITIONERS VESTED RIGHTS OVER THE AREA COVERED BY ITS
EP NO. 133;
HELD:
, petitioner insists that the Court of Appeals erred when it concluded that the assailed memorandum
order did not adopt the direct state utilization scheme in resolving the Diwalwal dispute. On the
contrary, petitioner submits, said memorandum order dictated the said recourse and, in effect,
granted management or operating agreements as well as provided for profit sharing arrangements
to illegal small-scale miners.

According to petitioner, MO 97-03 was issued to preempt the resolution of the Consolidated Mines
cases. The direct state utilization scheme espoused in the challenged memorandum is nothing but
a legal shortcut, designed to divest petitioner of its vested right to the gold rush area under its EP
No. 133.
Court of Appeals ruling that the challenged MO 97-03 did not conclusively adopt direct state
utilization as a policy in resolving the Diwalwal dispute. The terms of the memorandum clearly
indicate that what was directed thereunder was merely a study of this option and nothing else.
Contrary to petitioners contention, it did not grant any management/operating or profit-sharing
agreement to small-scale miners or to any party, for that matter, but simply instructed the DENR
officials concerned to undertake studies to determine its feasibility. As the Court of Appeals
extensively discussed in its decision:

x x x under the Memorandum Order, the State still had to study prudently and exhaustively the
various options available to it in rationalizing the explosive and ever perilous situation in the area,
the debilitating adverse effects of mining in the community and at the same time, preserve and
enhance the safety of the mining operations and ensure revenues due to the government from the
development of the mineral resources and the exploitation thereof. The government was still in
earnest search of better options that would be fair and just to all parties concerned, including,
notably, the Petitioner. The direct state utilization of the mineral resources in the area was only
one of the options of the State. Indeed, it is too plain to see, x x x that before the State will settle
on an option, x x x an extensive and intensive study of all the facets of a direct state exploitation
was directed by the Public Respondent DENR Secretary. And even if direct state exploitation was
opted by the government, the DENR still had to promulgate rules and regulations to implement
the same x x x, in coordination with the other concerned agencies of the government.[17]

Consequently, the petition was premature. The said memorandum order did not impose any
obligation on the claimants or fix any legal relation whatsoever between and among the parties to
the dispute. At this stage, petitioner can show no more than a mere apprehension that the State,
through the DENR, would directly take over the mines after studies point to its viability. But until
the DENR actually does so and petitioners fears turn into reality, no valid objection can be
entertained against MO 97-03 on grounds which are purely speculative and anticipatory.[18]
With respect to the alleged vested rights claimed by petitioner, it is well to note that the same is
invariably based on EP No. 133, whose validity is still being disputed in the Consolidated Mines
cases. A reading of the appealed MAB decision reveals that the continued efficacy of EP No. 133
is one of the issues raised in said cases, with respondents therein asserting that Marcopper cannot
legally assign the permit which purportedly had expired. In other words, whether or not petitioner
actually has a vested right over Diwalwal under EP No. 133 is still an indefinite and unsettled
matter. And until a positive pronouncement is made by the appellate court in the Consolidated
Mines cases, EP No. 133 cannot be deemed as a source of any conclusive rights that can be
impaired by the issuance of MO 97-03.

Similarly, there is no merit in petitioners assertion that MO 97-03 sanctions violation of mining
laws by allowing illegal miners to enter into mining agreements with the State. Again, whether or
not respondent BCMC and the other mining entities it represents are conducting illegal mining
activities is a factual matter that has yet to be finally determined in the Consolidated Mines cases.
We cannot rightfully conclude at this point that respondent BCMC and the other mining firms are
illegitimate mining operators. Otherwise, we would be preempting the resolution of the cases
which are still pending before the Court of Appeals.[19]

Petitioners reliance on the Apex Mining case to justify its rights under E.P. No. 133 is misplaced.
For one, the said case was litigated solely between Marcopper and Apex Mining Corporation and
cannot thus be deemed binding and conclusive on respondent BCMC and the other mining entities
presently involved. While petitioner may be regarded as Marcoppers successor to EP No. 133 and
therefore bound by the judgment rendered in the Apex Mining case, the same cannot be said of
respondent BCMC and the other oppositor mining firms, who were not impleaded as parties
therein.

Neither can the Apex Mining case foreclose any question pertaining to the continuing validity of
EP No. 133 on grounds which arose after the judgment in said case was promulgated. While it is
true that the Apex Mining case settled the issue of who between Apex and Marcopper validly
acquired mining rights over the disputed area by availing of the proper procedural requisites
mandated by law, it certainly did not deal with the question raised by the oppositors in the
Consolidated Mines cases, i.e. whether EP No. 133 had already expired and remained valid
subsequent to its transfer by Marcopper to petitioner. Besides, as clarified in our decision in the
Apex Mining case:

x x x is conclusive only between the parties with respect to the particular issue herein raised and
under the set of circumstances herein prevailing. In no case should the decision be considered as a
precedent to resolve or settle claims of persons/entities not parties hereto. Neither is it intended to
unsettle rights of persons/entities which have been acquired or which may have accrued upon
reliance on laws passed by appropriate agencies.[20]
Clearly then, the Apex Mining case did not invest petitioner with any definite right to the Diwalwal
mines which it could now set up against respondent BCMC and the other mining groups.

Incidentally, it must likewise be pointed out that under no circumstances may petitioners rights
under EP No. 133 be regarded as total and absolute. As correctly held by the Court of Appeals in
its challenged decision, EP No. 133 merely evidences a privilege granted by the State, which may
be amended, modified or rescinded when the national interest so requires. This is necessarily so
since the exploration, development and utilization of the countrys natural mineral resources are
matters impressed with great public interest. Like timber permits, mining exploration permits do
not vest in the grantee any permanent or irrevocable right within the purview of the non-
impairment of contract and due process clauses of the Constitution,[21] since the State, under its
all-encompassing police power, may alter, modify or amend the same, in accordance with the
demands of the general welfare.[22]

Additionally, there can be no valid opposition raised against a mere study of an alternative which
the State, through the DENR, is authorized to undertake in the first place. Worth noting is Article
XII, Section 2, of the 1987 Constitution, which specifically provides:

SEC. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils,
all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural
resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural
resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources
shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such
activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with
Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned
by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable
for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by
law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the
development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.
(Underscoring ours)

Likewise, Section 4, Chapter II of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 states:

SEC. 4. Ownership of Mineral Resources. - Mineral Resources are owned by the State and the
exploration, development, utilization, and processing thereof shall be under its full control and
supervision. The State may directly undertake such activities or it may enter into mineral
agreements with contractors. (Underscoring ours)

Thus, the State may pursue the constitutional policy of full control and supervision of the
exploration, development and utilization of the countrys natural mineral resources, by either
directly undertaking the same or by entering into agreements with qualified entities. The DENR
Secretary acted within his authority when he ordered a study of the first option, which may be
undertaken consistently in accordance with the constitutional policy enunciated above. Obviously,
the State may not be precluded from considering a direct takeover of the mines, if it is the only
plausible remedy in sight to the gnawing complexities generated by the gold rush. As implied
earlier, the State need be guided only by the demands of public interest in settling for this option,
as well as its material and logistic feasibility.

In this regard, petitioners imputation of bad faith on the part of the DENR Secretary when the latter
issued MO 97-03 is not well-taken. The avowed rationale of the memorandum order is clearly and
plainly stated in its whereas clauses.[23] In the absence of any concrete evidence that the DENR
Secretary violated the law or abused his discretion, as in this case, he is presumed to have regularly
issued the memorandum with a lawful intent and pursuant to his official functions.

Given these considerations, petitioners first assigned error is baseless and premised on tentative
assumptions. Petitioner cannot claim any absolute right to the Diwalwal mines pending resolution
of the Consolidated Mines cases, much less ask us to assume, at this point, that respondent BCMC
and the other mining firms are illegal miners. These factual issues are to be properly threshed out
in CA G.R. SP Nos. 61215 and 61216, which have yet to be decided by the Court of Appeals. Any
objection raised against MO 97-03 is likewise premature at this point, inasmuch as it merely
ordered a study of an option which the State is authorized by law to undertake.

We see no need to rule on the matter of the OTPs, considering that the grounds invoked by
petitioner for invalidating the same are inextricably linked to the issues raised in the Consolidated
Mines cases.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 44693 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 156022, July 06, 2015

AURELLANO AGNES, EDUARDO AGNES, ESPIRITU AGNES, ESTELLA AGNES,


PANTALEON AGNES, FILOTEO APUEN, IMELDA APUEN, MOISES APUEN,
ROGELIO APUEN, GONZALO AUSTRIA, JAVIER AUSTRIA, BONIFACIO EGUIA,
LYDIA EGUIA, MANUEL GABARDA, SR., MELECIO GARCIA, CRISTOBAL
LOQUIB, MARIA LOQUIB, MATERNO LOQUIB, GEORGE MACANAS, MODESTO
MANLEBTEN, JUANITO AUSTRIA, CONCHITA BERNAL, AURELIO BERNAL,
PABLITO BOGANTE, FELICIANO CANTON, ALFREDO CANETE, CECILIA
CANETE, CHERRY DE MESA, ROBERTO NOVERO, PERLITO PABIA, RODRIGO
SABROSO, JUAN TALORDA, AND RAFAELA TRADIO, Petitioners, v. REPUBLIC OF
THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

FACTS:
Calauit Island (Calauit) is a 3,600-hectare island that forms part of the Calamianes Island group in
the Province of Palawan.

The petitioners claim to be among the more than 250 families ("settlers") who lived in Calauit4 as
successors of the early settlers therein. They are members of the "Balik Calauit Movement," which
was organized for the purpose of reclaiming the lands they used to occupy. The settlers lay claim
on the lands of Calauit either (1) through a predecessor, who had become a titled owner by virtue
of Act No. 926;5 or (2) by means of an imperfect title, which they, by themselves or their ancestors,
had acquired by way of "unbroken, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
cultivation"6 of the lands therein until their relocation in 1977.

In 1973, the Bureau of Lands started to survey Calauit. After some time, the surveyors met some
resistance to the continued survey, but the settlers were told that it was being done for purposes of
titling the latter's landholdings, as well as to determine how much land may be apportioned for
people coming from Busuanga who were to be relocated in the area in view of the establishment
of the Yulo King Ranch. In 1975, however, the settlers were told that the supposed titling of their
landholdings was not going to push through as the island was going to be set up as a zoo for rare
and exotic animals from other countries.7 Further, they were told that instead, they would be
resettled in Halsey and Burabod in Culion, where the lands were claimed to be more fertile and
where full government services and facilities such as irrigation, electricity, waterworks, public
markets, roads, housing, school, and health care, would be provided by the government.8redarclaw

The petitioners alleged that, along with the other settlers, they could not refuse the offer because
they were harassed and intimidated by members of the Philippine Constabulary (PC). In their
petition and answers to written interrogatories, they mentioned instances of violence and
harassment by PC soldiers.9 They were also told that they had no choice but to leave Calauit, as
the island was government property and that, as illegal settlers, they could be sued.10redarclaw
The terms of the proposed relocation was later embodied in individual Resettlement Agreements11
wherein the government, through the Secretary of Natural Resources, among other things,
undertook to provide the signatory settler the following: (1) an agricultural lot in exchange for the
area he would be vacating; and (2) payment for the improvements on the properties to be vacated,
as ascertained in individualized appraisal sheets.12 In exchange, the signatory settler agreed to (1)
be resettled to any selected resettlement area in Busuanga; (2) relinquish "totally his rights and
claim (sic) over the land thereon in favor of the Government;" and (3) vacate the premises upon
receipt of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount of the appraised value of the improvements, with
the other half to be paid upon proof of actual evacuation from the property.13redarclaw

On August 31, 1976, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos (Pres. Marcos) signed Presidential
Proclamation No. 1578, which declared the Island of Calauit as a Game Preserve and Wildlife
Sanctuary

On March 11, 1977, President Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1626, declaring certain portions
of the Culion Leper Colony Reservation excluded from the Reservation and opening them to
disposition under the provisions of the Public Land Act. These portions, known as Halsey and
Burabod, became the resettlement areas for the settlers of Calauit.

In 1981, the Presidential Committee for the Conservation of the Tamaraw (PCCT) absorbed the
CSP; and in 1985, it entered into a contract with the Conservation and Resource Management
Foundation, Inc. (CRMF) to carry out the functions of the CSP.

According to petitioners, life in the resettlement areas was unbearable. They claimed that the lands
in Halsey and Burabod were unsuitable for habitation and agriculture; and that the government
failed to comply with the promised services and facilities.15redarclaw

After the EDSA People Power and the ouster of Pres. Marcos, the settlers formed the "Balik
Calauit Movement," and aired their collective grievances to the new administration of then
President Corazon C. Aquino (Pres. Aquino).16redarclaw

Some of the settlers tried to return to the Island but were driven away by the CRMF; thus, they
went to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) to file a complaint against the
government and CRMF. A fact-finding commission was established by the PCHR and dialogues
were held among the parties. On February 17 and 23, 1987, the fact-finding commission submitted
two memoranda17 recommending (1) the repeal of Proclamation No. 1578 for being violative of
the settlers' Bill of Rights; and (2) the immediate return of the settlers to Calauit.
In June 1987, the petitioners, with the other settlers, once again tried to return to Calauit, with
success this time around.

Meantime, the PCHR referred the aforementioned complaint to then DNR Secretary Fulgencio
Factoran, who, on July 14, 1987 issued an Order18 directing the settlers who returned to Calauit
to "immediately vacate the sanctuary and return to their resettlement areas of Halsey [and]
Burabod."

In response to the above Order, the concerned settlers filed a Petition for Certiorari with this Court,
docketed as G.R. No. 80034, entitled "Reynaldo Rufino, et al. v. Hon. Secretary Fulgencio
Factoran, et al." In a Resolution19 dated February 16, 1988, this Court dismissed the petition for
being factual in nature,
On March 10, 1988, the petitioners filed a petition with the RTC, Branch 134, Makati, Metro
Manila, docketed as Civil Case No. 88-298, entitled "Reynaldo Rufino, et al. v. Hon. Fulgencio
Factoran, et al.," for the issuance of a preliminary injunction against the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to enjoin the latter from implementing Secretary
Factoran's July 14, 1987 Order, and for the declaration of nullity of Proclamation No. 1578 for
being unconstitutional.21redarclaw

In an Order dated April 6, 1988, the RTC of Makati, denied the motion for the issuance of a writ
of preliminary injunction, and upheld the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 1578.22redarclaw

On April 17, 1989, the RTC of Makati issued another Order23 dismissing the case without
prejudice,
On motion of counsel for defendants and there being no objection on the part of counsel for the
plaintiffs, the instant case is hereby ordered dismissed without prejudice.
The foregoing Order was prompted by petitioners' manifestation that they had a pending appeal
before the Office of the President relative to the July 14, 1987 Order of DENR Secretary Factoran
directing the petitioners and the other settlers to leave Calauit and return to their resettlement areas
in Halsey and Burabod.24 The Office of the President ultimately denied said appeal.

Some of the settlers failed to comply with Secretary Factoran's July 14, 1987 Order to vacate
Calauit; thus, the Republic of the Philippines (herein respondent), represented by the DENR
Secretary, filed a Complaint for Specific Performance and Recovery of Possession with Prayer for
Preliminary Injunction against herein petitioners before the RTC, Branch 49, Puerto Princesa
City.25 The complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 2262, entitled "Republic of the Philippines
v. Aurellano Agnes, et al."
In said Complaint, herein respondent alleged that the petitioners' repossession and reoccupation of
portions of Calauit are patently unlawful and grossly reproachable as they had already waived and
relinquished whatever rights they had on the island when they signed and executed their respective
Resettlement Agreements. The respondent claimed that by returning to Calauit, the petitioners
breached their contracts, the Resettlement Agreements, which they voluntarily and freely
executed. Moreover, by virtue of Proclamation No. 1578, which closed Calauit to exploitation and
settlement, the respondent contended that the petitioners are staying on the island as "squatters"
on public land. The respondent also complained of the great damage and disturbance the petitioners
were doing to the natural resources and the protected animals in Calauit.26redarclaw

In their "Answer with Counterclaims,"27 herein petitioners alleged that the Resettlement
Agreements were executed with deceit, intimidation, misrepresentation, and fraud; hence they are
illegal and void. They also contested their admissibility on the ground that they are private
documents, which have not been authenticated. They also claim that it was actually the respondent
who breached its contract by providing poor resettlement areas, which resulted in their subhuman
and marginal existence. The petitioners denied causing damage to the island and the animals in
Calauit, as they only occupied the coastal areas, away from the animals' roaming grounds and
habitat. The petitioners then prayed for the nullification of the Resettlement Agreements for having
been procured through violence, intimidation, deceit, misrepresentation, and fraud. In the
alternative, they called for the rescission of the contracts for respondent's material breach of its
obligations. Lastly, they asked for Twenty-Five Thousand (25,000.00) Pesos each as temperate,
exemplary, and moral damages.

Ruling of the RTC

On February 23, 1994, the RTC of Puerto Princesa City rendered a Decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders the defendants (with the exception of Alfredo Aunang,
Juana Apuen, Eufricinia Bello, Bartolome Darol, Eduardo de Mesa, Aurora Eco, Eleuterio
Fresnillo, Jovita Gabarda, Fausto Lledo, Pampilo Sabroso, Ismael, Rafaela and Regalado
Tradio)28 and anyone claiming under them to vacate the respective areas where they have resettled
at Calauit Island, Busuanga, Palawan.

Plaintiff-Republic through the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, is ordered to


procure another suitable Relocation Sites for defendants within six months from receipt of this
Decision.29
The RTC held that the Resettlement Agreements, being duplicates of the originals and records of
the Republic of the Philippines, are public documents notwithstanding their lack of notarization.
As such, they are admissible in evidence even if the parties' signatures were not authenticated. The
RTC also held that the vices of consent allegedly attached to the Resettlement Agreements would
have served to render the agreements merely voidable and not void. However, the four-year period
within which the petitioners could bring an action for annulment had long prescribed. On the issue
of rescission, the RTC held that even assuming that the petitioners had grounds for rescission, they
"could not unilaterally rescind the agreements, since the right to rescind must be invoked
judicially."30redarclaw

The RTC, in deciding against the petitioners' return to Calauit, proclaimed:LawlibraryofCRAlaw


ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
National Interest in the preservation of Calauit as Game Preserve and Sanctuary is the overriding
factor which argues against the right of [petitioners] to return to Calauit. Assuming that the
Resettlement Areas provided by [Respondent]-Republic did not measure up to the expectations of
[petitioners], the recourse was not to renege on their Agreements by returning to Calauit and
contributing to the disturbance or destruction of the Preserve, but to demand that [Respondent]
deliver the fair value of the properties they vacated.

[Respondent]-Republic is not entirely free from blame for what appears to have been an unwise
choice of Relocation Sites and should be given an opportunity to rectify the mistake.31
The petitioners sought the Court of Appeals' reversal of the RTC's decision in their Appeal
docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 46222, entitled "Republic of the Philippines v. Aurellano Agnes, et
al."

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In a Decision promulgated on April 24, 2002, the Court of Appeals affirmed the assailed ruling of
the RTC, viz.:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision dated February 23, 1994, of the
Regional Trial Court of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City, Branch 49, Fourth Judicial Regional,
Palawan docketed as Civil Case No. 2262, is hereby AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to
costs.32
The Court of Appeals concurred in the findings and conclusions of the RTC. In addition, it disputed
the petitioners' claim of ownership on the lands of Calauit; and held that absent any proof to the
contrary, the presumption that Calauit is of public domain and thus belongs to the State stands.
The Court of Appeals explained its pronouncement in this wise:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Pursuant to [Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution], all lands of the public domain belong
to the State, and that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership in land and charged
with the conservation of such patrimony. Corollarily, all lands not otherwise appearing to be within
private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Ergo, a positive act of the government is
needed to declassify a forest land into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or other
purposes. x x x. Therefore, to acquire ownership of public land, the same must first be released
from its original classification and reclassified as alienable or disposable land. In the absence of
such classification, the land remains unclassified public land until released therefrom and rendered
open to disposition. Thus, the burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of state ownership
of land lies upon the claimant. x x x.

xxxx

x x x [T]he law itself stated that only alienable and disposable lands, particularly agricultural lands,
can be acquired through possession and occupation for at least 30 years. Since the subject property
is still unclassified when [the petitioners] and their ancestors occupied the same, whatever
possession they or their predecessors may have had and however long, cannot ripen into private
ownership. Moreover, the fact that the disputed property may have been declared for taxation
purposes in the names of [petitioners] or their predecessors-in-interest does not necessarily prove
ownership. This is due to the fact that tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of
ownership or of the right to possess land when not supported by evidence or other persuasive proof
to substantiate their claim. They are merely indicia of a claim of ownership.

Considering that the [petitioners] failed to present convincing evidence and persuasive proof to
substantiate their claim, the presumption of State ownership stands. It is also well to note that the
bases of [respondent]'s superior right of possession and ownership was sufficiently supported both
by law andjurisprudence.33 (Citations omitted.)
The petitioners moved for the reconsideration34 of the aforequoted Decision, which was
subsequently denied in a Resolution35 dated November 18, 2002.

ISSUE:
whether or not the Resettlement Agreements are valid; and, more importantly, whether or not the
petitioners may be compelled to vacate Calauit by virtue of their obligations enumerated in the
Resettlement Agreements.
HELD:
With the issuance by the Office of the President of the CADT, an ostensive successor to the
Resettlement Agreements, to the Tagbanua Indigenous Cultural Community (ICC), the resolution
of the question on the propriety or impropriety of the latter contract and their effects on the
continued stay of the settlers on Calauit appears to have been rendered moot and academic.
Under the CADT, the Tagbanua ICC is given authority "TO HAVE AND HOLD IN
OWNERSHIP, the x x x described ancestral domain as their private but community property,
which belongs to all generations of the said Indigenous Cultural Community/Indigenous Peoples";
and "TO DEVELOP, CONTROL, MANAGE and UTILIZE COLLECTIVELY the said
ANCESTRAL DOMAIN with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities appurtenant thereto,
subject to the condition that the said ancestral domain shall NOT be SOLD, DISPOSED, nor
DESTROYED."

To be precise, Section 7 of Republic Act No. 8371 recognizes that the rights to ancestral domains
carry with it the rights of ownership and possession of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains, which
shall include the following:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Section 7. Rights to Ancestral Domains. - The rights of ownership and possession of ICCs/IPs to
their ancestral domains shall be recognized and protected. Such rights shall
include:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Rights of Ownership. - The right to claim ownership over lands, bodies of water traditionally and
actually occupied by ICCs/IPs, sacred places, traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and all
improvements made by them at any time within the domains;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Right to Develop Lands and Natural Resources. - Subject to Section 56 hereof, right to develop,
control and use lands and territories traditionally occupied, owned, or used; to manage and
conserve natural resources within the territories and uphold the responsibilities for future
generations; to benefit and share the profits from allocation and utilization of the natural resources
found therein; the right to negotiate the terms and conditions for the exploration of natural
resources in the areas for the purpose of ensuring ecological, environmental protection and the
conservation measures, pursuant to national and customary laws; the right to an informed and
intelligent participation in the formulation and implementation of any project, government or
private, that will affect or impact upon the ancestral domains and to receive just and fair
compensation for any damages which they may sustain as a result of the project; and the right to
effective measures by the government to prevent any interference with, alienation and
encroachment upon these rights;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Right to Stay in the Territories. - The right to stay in the territory and not to be removed therefrom.
No ICCs/IPs will be relocated without their free and prior informed consent, nor through any
means other than eminent domain. Where relocation is considered necessary as an exceptional
measure, such relocation shall take place only with the free and prior informed consent of the
ICCs/IPs concerned and whenever possible, they shall be guaranteed the right to return to their
ancestral domains, as soon as the grounds for relocation cease to exist. When such return is not
possible, as determined by agreement or through appropriate procedures, ICCs/IPs shall be
provided in all possible cases with lands of quality and legal status at least equal to that of the land
previously occupied by them, suitable to provide for their present needs and future development.
Persons thus relocated shall likewise be fully compensated for any resulting loss or injury;

Right in Case of Displacement. - In case displacement occurs as a result of natural catastrophes,


the State shall endeavor to resettle the displaced ICCs/IPs in suitable areas where they can have
temporary life support systems: Provided, That the displaced ICCs/IPs shall have the right to return
to their abandoned lands until such time that the normalcy and safety of such lands shall be
determined: Provided, further, That should their ancestral domain cease to exist and normalcy and
safety of the previous settlements are not possible, displaced ICCs/IPs shall enjoy security of
tenure over lands to which they have been resettled: Provided, furthermore, That basic services
and livelihood shall be provided to them to ensure that their needs are adequately
addressed;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Right to Regulate Entry of Migrants. - Right to regulate the entry of migrant settlers and
organizations into the domains;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Right to Safe and Clean Air and Water. - For this purpose, the ICCs/IPs shall have access to
integrated systems for the management of their inland waters and air
space;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Right to Claim Parts of Reservations. - The right to claim parts of the ancestral domains which
have been reserved for various purposes, except those reserved and intended for common and
public welfare and service; and

Right to Resolve Conflict. - Right to resolve land conflicts in accordance with customary laws of
the area where the land is located, and only in default thereof shall the complaints be submitted to
amicable settlement and to the Courts of Justice whenever necessary. (Emphasis supplied.)
More significantly, the aforequoted provision provides that the right to ancestral domain carries
with it the right to "stay in the territory and not to be removed therefrom." And the CADT was
issued notwithstanding the existence of Presidential Proclamation No. 1578, which recognized the
existence of private rights already extant at the time. Thus, although the issuance of the CADT in
favor of the Tagbanua ICC to develop, control, manage, and utilize Calauit does not affect the
propriety or impropriety of the execution of the Resettlement Agreements per se, the same,
however, gainsays the avowed consequence of said contracts, that is, to remove and transfer the
settlers from Calauit to the resettlement areas in Halsey and Burabod.

Verily, in Gancho-on v. Secretary of Labor and Employment,58 this Court emphasized


that:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
It is a rule of universal application, almost, that courts of justice constituted to pass upon substantial
rights will not consider questions in which no actual interests are involved; they decline
jurisdiction of moot cases. And where the issue has become moot and academic, there is no
justiciable controversy, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical use or value. There
is no actual substantial relief to which petitioners would be entitled and which would be negated
by the dismissal of the petition. (Citations omitted.)
From the above pronouncement, there is no justiciable controversy anymore in the instant petition
in view of the issuance of CADT. There is no longer any purpose in determining whether the Court
of Appeals erred in affirming the Decision of the RTC since any declaration thereon would be of
no practical use or value.

Clearly, any decision of this Court on the present petition, whether it be an affirmance or a reversal
of the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, would be equivalent in effect to an affirmance or
an invalidation of the challenged Decision of the RTC. But the Office of the President's issuance
of a 2008 Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title in favor of the settlers, including the petitioners,
negates the need to resolve the issues raised in the Complaint and Answer with Counterclaims -
whether or not the petitioners may be compelled to vacate Calauit by virtue of their obligations
enumerated in the Resettlement Agreements.

The issuance by the respondent of CADT No. R04-BUS-0308-062 over 3,683.2324 (the entire
area subject of the Resettlement Agreements) in favor of the settlers, including the petitioners,
provide their occupation and/or settlement on the subject land an apparent color of authority at the
very least by virtue of Republic Act No. 8371. Precisely, under the law, a Certificate of Ancestral
Domain Title "refers to a title formally recognizing the rights of possession and ownership of
ICCs/[Indigenous Peoples (IPs)] over their ancestral domains59 identified and delineated in
accordance with [the] law."60 Therefore, the settlers continued stay in Calauit has become a non-
issue. As such, any discussion on the matter of the propriety of the Resettlement Agreements and
their effects would be mere surplusage.

Although the moot and academic principle admits of certain exceptions,61 none are applicable in
this case.

But emphasis must be made that the disposition of the instant petition does not at all touch on the
propriety or impropriety of the issuance of the CADT. Such a question is not for this Court to take
on at this time as, in fact, it is not raised herein.

Relative to the recent prayer of the petitioners that they be awarded individual titles of ownership
over portions of Calauit as the issuance of CADT in favor of the Tagbanua ICC amounts to an
affirmation and recognition of the property rights of their ancestors from whom they trace their
present individual claims,62 this Court points out that under Section 12 of Republic Act No. 8371,
individual members of cultural communities, with respect to individually owned ancestral lands,
the option to secure title to the same must be done in accordance with the provisions of
Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, or the Land Registration Act 496.

In light of the foregoing, the issues invoked by the parties no longer need to be discussed.

WHEREFORE, the April 24, 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 46222
is SET ASIDE, and Civil Case No. 2262 Is DISMISSED, for being moot and academic. No costs.

SO ORDERED

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 135385 December 6, 2000

ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners,


vs.
SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, SECRETARY OF
BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and CHAIRMAN and COMMISSIONERS OF THE
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, respondents.
HON. JUAN M .FLAVIER, HON. PONCIANO BENNAGEN, BAYANI ASCARRAGA,
EDTAMI MANSAYANGAN, BASILIO WANDAG, EVELYN DUNUAN, YAOM TUGAS,
ALFREMO CARPIANO, LIBERATO A. GABIN, MATERNIDAD M. COLAS, NARCISA
M. DALUPINES, BAI KIRAM-CONNIE SATURNO, BAE MLOMO-BEATRIZ T.
ABASALA, DATU BALITUNGTUNG-ANTONIO D. LUMANDONG, DATU
MANTUMUKAW TEOFISTO SABASALES, DATU EDUAARDO BANDA, DATU JOEL
UNAD, DATU RAMON BAYAAN, TIMUAY JOSE ANOY, TIMUAY MACARIO D.
SALACAO, TIMUAY EDWIN B. ENDING, DATU SAHAMPONG MALANAW VI,
DATU BEN PENDAO CABIGON, BAI NANAPNAY-LIZA SAWAY, BAY INAY DAYA-
MELINDA S. REYMUNDO, BAI TINANGHAGA HELINITA T. PANGAN, DATU
MAKAPUKAW ADOLINO L. SAWAY, DATU MAUDAYAW-CRISPEN SAWAY,
VICKY MAKAY, LOURDES D. AMOS, GILBERT P. HOGGANG, TERESA GASPAR,
MANUEL S. ONALAN, MIA GRACE L. GIRON, ROSEMARIE G. PE, BENITO
CARINO, JOSEPH JUDE CARANTES, LYNETTE CARANTES-VIVAL, LANGLEY
SEGUNDO, SATUR S. BUGNAY, CARLING DOMULOT, ANDRES MENDIOGRIN,
LEOPOLDO ABUGAN, VIRGILIO CAYETANO, CONCHITA G. DESCAGA, LEVY
ESTEVES, ODETTE G. ESTEVEZ, RODOLFO C. AGUILAR, MAURO VALONES,
PEPE H. ATONG, OFELIA T. DAVI, PERFECTO B. GUINOSAO, WALTER N. TIMOL,
MANUEL T. SELEN, OSCAR DALUNHAY, RICO O. SULATAN, RAFFY MALINDA,
ALFREDO ABILLANOS, JESSIE ANDILAB, MIRLANDO H. MANGKULINTAS,
SAMIE SATURNO, ROMEO A. LINDAHAY, ROEL S. MANSANG-CAGAN, PAQUITO
S. LIESES, FILIPE G. SAWAY, HERMINIA S. SAWAY, JULIUS S. SAWAY,
LEONARDA SAWAY, JIMMY UGYUB, SALVADOR TIONGSON, VENANCIO
APANG, MADION MALID, SUKIM MALID, NENENG MALID, MANGKATADONG
AUGUSTO DIANO, JOSEPHINE M. ALBESO, MORENO MALID, MARIO
MANGCAL, FELAY DIAMILING, SALOME P. SARZA, FELIPE P. BAGON, SAMMY
SALNUNGAN, ANTONIO D. EMBA, NORMA MAPANSAGONOS, ROMEO SALIGA,
SR., JERSON P. GERADA, RENATO T. BAGON, JR., SARING MASALONG,
SOLEDAD M. GERARDA, ELIZABETH L. MENDI, MORANTE S. TIWAN, DANILO
M. MALUDAO, MINORS MARICEL MALID, represented by her father CORNELIO
MALID, MARCELINO M. LADRA, represented by her father MONICO D. LADRA,
JENNYLYN MALID, represented by her father TONY MALID, ARIEL M.
EVANGELISTA, represented by her mother LINAY BALBUENA, EDWARD M. EMUY,
SR., SUSAN BOLANIO, OND, PULA BATO B'LAAN TRIBAL FARMER'S
ASSOCIATION, INTER-PEOPLE'S EXCHANGE, INC. and GREEN FORUM-
WESTERN VISAYAS, intervenors.
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, intervenor.
IKALAHAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE and HARIBON FOUNDATION FOR THE
CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES, INC., intervenor.

RESOLUTION

FACTS:

Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit for prohibition and mandamus as
citizens and taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No.
8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and its
Implementing Rules and Regulations (Implementing Rules).
In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required respondents to comment.1 In
compliance, respondents Chairperson and Commissioners of the National Commission on
Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government agency created under the IPRA to implement its
provisions, filed on October 13, 1998 their Comment to the Petition, in which they defend the
constitutionality of the IPRA and pray that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit.

On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) and Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed
through the Solicitor General a consolidated Comment. The Solicitor General is of the view that
the IPRA is partly unconstitutional on the ground that it grants ownership over natural resources
to indigenous peoples and prays that the petition be granted in part.

On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. Juan Flavier, one of the authors
of the IPRA, Mr. Ponciano Bennagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and the
leaders and members of 112 groups of indigenous peoples (Flavier, et. al), filed their Motion for
Leave to Intervene. They join the NCIP in defending the constitutionality of IPRA and praying for
the dismissal of the petition.

On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) likewise filed a Motion to Intervene
and/or to Appear as Amicus Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the principle
of parens patriae and that the State has the responsibility to protect and guarantee the rights of
those who are at a serious disadvantage like indigenous peoples. For this reason it prays that the
petition be dismissed.

On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the Ikalahan Indigenous People and the Haribon
Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a motion to
Intervene with attached Comment-in-Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and Flavier, et al.
that IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and pray that the petition for prohibition and
mandamus be dismissed.

The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and organizations were granted.

Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter, the parties and intervenors filed their
respective memoranda in which they reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier pleadings and
during the hearing.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the provisions of the IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the ground that they
amount to an unlawful deprivation of the States ownership over lands of the public domain as
well as minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied
in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution:

HELD:
After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted as follows:

Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice
and Justices Bellosillo, Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the challenged
provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a separate opinion sustaining all challenged
provisions of the law with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP Administrative
Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of
the IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the large-scale exploitation of
natural resources and should be read in conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to dismiss the petition solely on the ground
that it does not raise a justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have standing to question the
constitutionality of R.A. 8371.

Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the petition. Justice Panganiban filed a
separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related provisions
of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on the constitutionality of Sections 58,
59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await the filing of specific cases by those whose
rights may have been violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate opinion expressing
the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo,
Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon join in the separate opinions of Justices Panganiban and
Vitug.

As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority was not obtained, the case
was redeliberated upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting remained the same. Accordingly,
pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the petition is DISMISSED.

Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the separate opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug,
Kapunan, Mendoza, and Panganiban.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 188913, February 19, 2014

CITY GOVERNMENT OF BAGUIO, HEREIN REPRESENTED BY CITY MAYOR


REINALDO A. BAUTISTA, JR., Petitioner, v. ATTY. BRAIN S. MASWENG,
Respondent.

DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

FACTS:
Petitioner City Government of Baguio, through its then Mayor, issued Demolition Order No. 33,
Series of 2005 and Demolition Order Nos. 25 and 28, Series of 2004, ordering the demolition of
illegal structures that had been constructed on a portion of the Busol Watershed Reservation
located at Aurora Hill, Baguio City, without the required building permits and in violation of
Section 698 of the Revised Forestry Code, as amended, the National Building Code9 and the Urban
Development and Housing Act.10 Pursuant to said demolition orders, demolition advices dated
September 19, 2006 were issued by the city government informing the occupants of the intended
demolition of the structures on October 17 to 20, 2006.

On October 13, 2006, a petition for injunction with prayer for temporary restraining order and writ
of preliminary injunction was filed by Elvin Gumangan, Narciso Basatan and Lazaro Bawas before
the NCIPCAR against the City of Baguio, The AntiSquatting Committee, City Building and
Architecture Office, and Public Order and Safety Office. The case was docketed as NCIP Case
No. 31CAR06.

On October 16 and 19, 2006, herein respondent, Atty. Brain Masweng, the Regional Hearing
Officer of the NCIPCAR, issued two temporary restraining orders directing petitioner and all
persons acting in its behalf from enforcing the demolition orders and demolition advices for a total
period of 20 days. Subsequently, the NCIPCAR, through respondent, granted the application for
preliminary injunction.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the injunctive writ issued by the NCIPCAR
against the demolition orders. The case was then elevated to this Court in G.R. No. 180206 entitled,
City Government of Baguio City v. Masweng.11cralawred

On February 4, 2009, this Court rendered a Decision reversing and setting aside the ruling of the
CA and dismissed NCIP Case No. 31CAR06. This Court held that although the NCIP had the
authority to issue temporary restraining orders and writs of injunction, Elvin Gumangan, et al.,
were not entitled to the relief granted by the NCIPCAR. On April 22, 2009, this Court denied
with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Elvin Gumangan, et al. The decision thus
became final and executory on June 9, 2009.12

Thereafter, petitioner, through the Office of the Mayor, issued Demolition Advices dated May 20,
200913 and July 20, 200914 against Alexander Ampaguey, Sr.,15 a certain Mr. Basatan, Julio
Daluyen, Sr.,16 Carmen Panayo, and Concepcion Padang. Said Demolition Advices notified them
that Demolition Order No. 33, Series of 2005 and Demolition Order No. 83, Series of 1999 will
be enforced in July 2009 and advised them to voluntarily dismantle their structures built on the
Busol Watershed.

On July 23, 2009, Magdalena Gumangan, Marion Pool, Lourdes Hermogeno, Bernardo Simon,
Joseph Legaspi, Joseph Basatan, Marcelino Basatan, Josephine Legaspi and Lansigan Bawas filed
a petition17 for the identification, delineation and recognition of their ancestral land and
enforcement of their rights as indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples, with prayer
for the issuance of a TRO and writ of preliminary injunction. The case was docketed as NCIP Case
No. 29CAR09.

On July 27, 2009, Alexander Ampaguey, Sr., Julio Daluyen, Sr., Carmen Panayo and Concepcion
Padang filed a petition18 for injunction with urgent prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining
order and writ of preliminary injunction before the NCIP against petitioner and the City Building
and Architecture Office. The case was docketed as NCIP Case No. 31CAR09. They averred that
they are all indigenous people particularly of the Ibaloi and Kankanaey Tribes, who are possessors
of residential houses and other improvements at Bayan Park and Ambiong, Aurora Hill, Baguio
City by virtue of transfers effected in accordance with traditions and customary laws from the
ancestral land claimants namely, the Heirs of Molintas and the Heirs of Gumangan. They sought
to enjoin the enforcement of the demolition orders.

On the same day, July 27, 2009, respondent issued two separate 72hour temporary restraining
orders in NCIP Case Nos. 31CAR0919 and 29CAR09.20 The order in NCIP Case No. 31
CAR09 restraining the implementation of the demolition advices and demolition orders
reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, a Temporary Restraining Order pursuant to Section 69 (d)
of R.A. [No.] 8371 in relation to Section 83 of NCIP Administrative Circular No. 1, series of 2003
is hereby issued against the respondents namely, CITY OF BAGUIO represented by City Mayor
REINALDO BAUTISTA JR., CITY BUILDING AND ARCHITECTURE OFFICE represented
by OSCAR FLORES and all persons under their instructions and acting for and in their behalves
are hereby ordered to stay and refrain from implementing Demolition Advice dated May 20, 2009,
Demolition Order No. 33 series of 2005, Demolition Advice dated July 20, 2009 and Demolition
Order No. 69 series of 2002 within Seventy Two (72) Hours upon receipt of this order on the
residential houses/structures of Alexander Ampaguey Sr., Julio Daluyen Sr., Concep[c]ion Padang
and Carmen Panayo all located at Busol Water Reservation, Baguio
City.21ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
In NCIP Case No. 29CAR09, petitioner and the City Building and Architecture Office,
represented by Oscar Flores; Public Safety and Order Division, represented by Gregorio Deligero;
the Baguio Demolition Team, represented by Engr. Nazeta Banez; and all persons under their
instructions were ordered to refrain from demolishing the residential structures of Magdalena
Gumangan, Marion Pool, Lourdes Hermogeno, Bernardo Simon, Joseph Legaspi, Joseph Basatan,
Marcelino Basatan, Josephine Legaspi and Lansigan Bawas located at Busol Water Reservation.

Subsequently, respondent issued two separate Orders22 both dated July 31, 2009 in NCIP Case
Nos. 29CAR09 and 31CAR09 extending the 72hour temporary restraining orders for
another 17 days.

On August 14, 2009, respondent issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction23 in NCIP Case No. 31
CAR09, followed by a Writ of Preliminary Injunction24 in NCIP Case No. 29CAR09.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the act of enjoining the execution of the demolition orders and demolition advices
is tantamount to allowing forum shopping since the implementation of the demolition orders over
the structures in the Busol Forest Reservation had already been adjudicated and affirmed by this
Court.
HELD:
The Court indeed upheld the authority of the NCIP to issue temporary restraining orders and writs
of injunction to preserve the rights of parties to a dispute who are members of indigenous cultural
communities or indigenous peoples. However, the Court categorically ruled that Elvin Gumangan,
et al., whose houses and structures are the subject of demolition orders issued by petitioner, are
not entitled to the injunctive relief granted by herein respondent in his capacity as Regional
Hearing Officer of the NCIP,
The crucial question to be asked then is whether private respondents ancestral land claim was
indeed recognized by Proclamation No. 15, in which case, their right thereto may be protected by
an injunctive writ. After all, before a writ of preliminary injunction may be issued, petitioners must
show that there exists a right to be protected and that the acts against which injunction is directed
are violative of said right.

Proclamation No. 15, however, does not appear to be a definitive recognition of private
respondents ancestral land claim. The proclamation merely identifies the Molintas and Gumangan
families, the predecessorsininterest of private respondents, as claimants of a portion of the Busol
Forest Reservation but does not acknowledge vested rights over the same. In fact, Proclamation
No. 15 explicitly withdraws the Busol Forest Reservation from sale or settlement. It
provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Pursuant to the provisions of section eighteen hundred and twentysix of Act Numbered Twenty
seven Hundred and eleven[,] I hereby establish the Busol Forest Reservation to be administered
by the Bureau of Forestry for the purpose of conserving and protecting water and timber, the
protection of the water supply being of primary importance and all other uses of the forest are to
be subordinated to that purpose. I therefore withdraw from sale or settlement the following
described parcels of the public domain situated in the Township of La Trinidad, City of Baguio,
Mountain Province, Island of Luzon, to wit:
The fact remains, too, that the Busol Forest Reservation was declared by the Court as inalienable
in Heirs of Gumangan v. Court of Appeals. The declaration of the Busol Forest Reservation as
such precludes its conversion into private property. Relatedly, the courts are not endowed with
jurisdictional competence to adjudicate forest lands.

All told, although the NCIP has the authority to issue temporary restraining orders and writs of
injunction, we are not convinced that private respondents are entitled to the relief granted by the
Commission.30 (Emphasis supplied.)chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Accordingly, the CA decision affirming the injunctive writ issued by respondent against the
demolition orders of petitioner was reversed and set aside, and the petition for injunction (Case
No. 31CAR06) was dismissed. In pursuance of the final Decision in G.R. No. 180206, petitioner
issued the subject demolition advices for the enforcement of Demolition Order No. 33, Series of
2005 against Alexander Ampaguey, Sr. and Mr. Basatan, Demolition Order No. 83, Series of 1999
against Julio Daluyen, Sr., Concepcion Padang and Carmen Panayo, and Demolition Order No.
69, Series of 2002 against Julio Daluyen, Sr., Carmen Panayo, Benjamin Macelino, Herminia
Aluyen and five other unidentified owners of structures, all in Busol Watershed, Baguio City. As
it is, the aforesaid individuals filed a petition for injunction (Case No. 31CAR09) while
Magdalena Gumangan, et al. filed a petition for identification, delineation and recognition of
ancestral land claims with prayer for temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction
(Case No. 29CAR09). Respondent issued separate temporary restraining orders and writs of
preliminary injunction in both cases.

The said orders clearly contravene our ruling in G.R. No. 180206 that those owners of houses and
structures covered by the demolition orders issued by petitioner are not entitled to the injunctive
relief previously granted by respondent.
We note that the same issues and arguments are raised in the present petitions for injunction which
sought to enjoin the same demolition orders. Magdalena Gumangan, et al. in Case No. 29CAR
09 anchored their ownership claim over portions of Busol Forest Reservation on Proclamation No.
15 as the portions occupied by the Gumangans and Molintas, their predecessorsininterest, are
indicated in the plans. In Case No. 31CAR09, Alexander Ampaguey, Sr., et al. likewise trace
their ownership claims to the Heirs of Molintas and Heirs of Gumangan and a title (OCT No. 44)
granted to Molintas on September 20, 1919 before the property was declared a reservation in 1922.
The latter further argued that by virtue of R.A. No. 8371, the jurisdiction of the DENR over the
Busol Forest Reservation was transferred to the NCIP. These matters touching on the issue of
whether a clear legal right exists for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of the
said claimants have already been settled in G.R. No. 180206. In other words, the same parties or
persons representing identical interests have litigated on the same issue and subject matter insofar
as the injunctive relief is concerned. Evidently, the principle of res judicata applies to this case so
that the parties are precluded from raising anew those issues already passed upon by this Court.

We do not subscribe to respondents contention that petitioner resorted to the wrong remedy in
assailing the injunctive orders as it should have moved for reconsideration of the same and then
appeal the denial thereof to the CA. Likewise, we do not accept his explanation that his act of
issuing the assailed injunctive writs was not contemptuous because the Court in G.R. No. 180206
even affirmed the power of the NCIP to issue temporary restraining orders and writs of injunction
without any prohibition against the issuance of said writs when the main action is for injunction.

As mentioned earlier, the Court while recognizing that the NCIP is empowered to issue temporary
restraining orders and writs of preliminary injunction, nevertheless ruled that petitioners in the
injunction case seeking to restrain the implementation of the subject demolition order are not
entitled to such relief. Petitioner City Government of Baguio in issuing the demolition advices are
simply enforcing the previous demolition orders against the same occupants or claimants or their
agents and successorsininterest, only to be thwarted anew by the injunctive orders and writs
issued by respondent. Despite the Courts pronouncement in G.R. No. 180206 that no such clear
legal right exists in favor of those occupants or claimants to restrain the enforcement of the
demolition orders issued by petitioner, and hence there remains no legal impediment to bar their
implementation, respondent still issued the temporary restraining orders and writs of preliminary
injunction. Worse, respondent would require petitioner to simply appeal his ruling, a move that
will only result in multiple suits and endless litigation.

In the recent case of The Baguio Regreening Movement, Inc. v. Masweng31 respondent issued
similar temporary restraining orders and writs of preliminary injunction in favor of claimants
which include Magdalena Gumangan and Alexander Ampaguey, Sr. who sought to enjoin the
Baguio District Engineers Office, the Office of the City Architect and Parks Superintendent, the
Baguio Regreening Movement, Inc. and the Busol Task Force from fencing the Busol Watershed
Reservation. The CA affirmed respondents orders and dismissed the petition for certiorari filed
by the aforesaid offices. Applying the principle of stare decisis, the Court ruled
On February 4, 2009, this Court promulgated its Decision in G.R. No. 180206, a suit which
involved several of the parties in the case at bar. In G.R. No. 180206, the City Mayor of Baguio
City issued three Demolition Orders with respect to allegedly illegal structures constructed by
private respondents therein on a portion of the Busol Forest Reservation. Private respondents filed
a Petition for Injunction with the NCIP. Atty. Masweng issued two temporary restraining orders
directing the City Government of Baguio to refrain from enforcing said Demolition Orders and
subsequently granted private respondents application for a preliminary injunction. The Court of
Appeals, acting on petitioners Petition for Certiorari, affirmed the temporary restraining orders
and the writ of preliminary injunction.

This Court then upheld the jurisdiction of the NCIP on the basis of the allegations in private
respondents Petition for Injunction. It was similarly claimed in said Petition for Injunction that
private respondents were descendants of Molintas and Gumangan whose claims over the portions
of the Busol Watershed Reservation had been recognized by Proclamation No. 15. This Court thus
ruled in G.R. No. 180206 that the nature of the action clearly qualify it as a dispute or controversy
over ancestral lands/domains of the ICCs/IPs. On the basis of Section 69(d) of the IPRA and
Section 82, Rule XV of NCIP Administrative Circular No. 103, the NCIP may issue temporary
restraining orders and writs of injunction without any prohibition against the issuance of the writ
when the main action is for injunction.

On petitioners argument that the City of Baguio is exempt from the provisions of the IPRA and,
consequently, the jurisdiction of the NCIP, this Court ruled in G.R. No. 180206 that said exemption
cannot ipso facto be deduced from Section 78 of the IPRA because the law concedes the validity
of prior land rights recognized or acquired through any process before its effectivity.

Lastly, however, this Court ruled that although the NCIP has the authority to issue temporary
restraining orders and writs of injunction, it was not convinced that private respondents were
entitled to the relief granted by the Commission. Proclamation No. 15 does not appear to be a
definitive recognition of private respondents ancestral land claim, as it merely identifies the
Molintas and Gumangan families as claimants of a portion of the Busol Forest Reservation, but
does not acknowledge vested rights over the same. Since it is required before the issuance of a writ
of preliminary injunction that claimants show the existence of a right to be protected, this Court,
in G.R. No. 180206, ultimately granted the petition of the City Government of Baguio and set
aside the writ of preliminary injunction issued therein.

In the case at bar, petitioners and private respondents present the very same arguments and
counterarguments with respect to the writ of injunction against the fencing of the Busol
Watershed Reservation. The same legal issues are thus being litigated in G.R. No. 180206 and in
the case at bar, except that different writs of injunction are being assailed. In both cases, petitioners
claim (1) that Atty. Masweng is prohibited from issuing temporary restraining orders and writs of
preliminary injunction against government infrastructure projects; (2) that Baguio City is beyond
the ambit of the IPRA; and (3) that private respondents have not shown a clear right to be protected.
Private respondents, on the other hand, presented the same allegations in their Petition for
Injunction, particularly the alleged recognition made under Proclamation No. 15 in favor of their
ancestors. While res judicata does not apply on account of the different subject matters of the case
at bar and G.R. No. 180206 (they assail different writs of injunction, albeit issued by the same
hearing officer), we are constrained by the principle of stare decisis to grant the instant petition.
The Court explained the principle of stare decisis in Ting v. Velez
Ting:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
The principle of stare decisis enjoins adherence by lower courts to doctrinal rules established by
this Court in its final decisions. It is based on the principle that once a question of law has been
examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument. Basically, it is
a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issues, necessary for two simple reasons: economy and
stability. In our jurisdiction, the principle is entrenched in Article 8 of the Civil Code. (Citations
omitted.)chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
We have also previously held that [u]nder the doctrine of stare decisis, once a court has laid down
a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply
it to all future cases where the facts are substantially the same.32 (Emphasis
supplied.)chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Respondents willful disregard and defiance of this Courts ruling on a matter submitted for the
second time before his office cannot be countenanced. By acting in opposition to this Courts
authority and disregarding its final determination of the legal issue pending before him, respondent
failed in his duty not to impede the due administration of justice and consistently adhere to existing
laws and principles as interpreted in the decisions of the Court.

Section 7, Rule 71 of the Rules provides the penalty for indirect contempt. Section 7 of Rule 71
reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SEC. 7. Punishment for indirect contempt. If the respondent is adjudged guilty of indirect
contempt committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, he may
be punished by a fine not exceeding thirty thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding six (6)
months, or both. x x x
For his contumacious conduct and considering the attendant circumstances, the Court deems it
proper to impose a fine of P10,000.00.

WHEREFORE, the petition for contempt is GRANTED. The assailed Temporary Restraining
Order dated July 27, 2009, Order dated July 31, 2009 and Writ of Preliminary Injunction in NCIP
Case No. 31CAR09, and Temporary Restraining Order dated July 27, 2009, Order dated July
31, 2009 and Writ of Preliminary Injunction in NCIP Case No. 29CAR09 are hereby all LIFTED
and SET ASIDE.
The Court finds respondent Atty. BRAIN S. MASWENG, Regional Hearing Officer, National
Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIPCAR), GUILTY of
Indirect Contempt and hereby imposes on him a fine of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00)
payable to this Courts Cashier within ten (10) days from notice, with the additional directive for
respondent to furnish the Division Clerk of this Court with a certified copy of the Official Receipt
as proof of his compliance.ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

DELFIN LAMSIS, MAYNARD MONDIGUING, JOSE VALDEZ, JR. and Heirs of


AGUSTIN KITMA, represented by EUGENE KITMA,

G.R. No. 173021

Present:
Petitioners,

CORONA, C. J., Chairperson,

VELASCO, JR.,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
- versus -

DEL CASTILLO, and

PEREZ, JJ.

MARGARITA SEMON DONG-E,

Promulgated:
Respondent.

October 20, 2010


x--------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.

FACTS:
This case involves a conflict of ownership and possession over an untitled parcel of land,
denominated as Lot No. 1, with an area of 80,736 square meters. The property is located along
Km. 5 Asin Road, Baguio City and is part of a larger parcel of land with an area of 186,090 square
meters. While petitioners are the actual occupants of Lot No. 1, respondent is claiming ownership
thereof and is seeking to recover its possession from petitioners.

According to respondent Margarita Semon Dong-E (Margarita), her familys ownership and
occupation of Lot No. 1 can be traced as far back as 1922 to her late grandfather, Ap-ap.[5] Upon
Ap-aps death, the property was inherited by his children, who obtained a survey plan in 1964 of
the 186,090-square meter property, which included Lot No. 1.[6] On the same year, they declared
the property for taxation purposes in the name of The Heirs of Ap-ap.[7] The 1964 tax declaration
bears a notation that reads: Reconstructed from an old Tax Declaration No. 363 dated May 10,
1922 per true of same presented.[8]

The heirs of Ap-ap then executed, for a P500.00 consideration, a Deed of Quitclaim[9] on February
26, 1964 in favor of their brother Gilbert Semon (Margaritas father).

Sometime between 1976 and 1978,[10] Gilbert Semon together with his wife Mary Lamsis,
allowed his in-laws Manolo Lamsis and Nancy Lamsis-Kitma, to stay on a portion of Lot No. 1
together with their respective families.[11] They were allowed to erect their houses, introduce
improvements, and plant trees thereon. When Manolo Lamsis and Nancy Lamsis-Kitma died
sometime in the 1980s, their children, petitioners Delfin Lamsis (Delfin) and Agustin Kitma
(Agustin), took possession of certain portions of Lot No. 1. Delfin possessed 4,000 square meters
of Lot No. 1, while Agustin occupied 5,000 square meters thereof.[12] Nevertheless, the heirs of
Gilbert Semon tolerated the acts of their first cousins.

When Gilbert Semon died in 1983,[13] his children extrajudicially partitioned the property among
themselves and allotted Lot No. 1 thereof in favor of Margarita.[14] Since then, Margarita
allegedly paid the realty tax over Lot No. 1[15] and occupied and improved the property together
with her husband; while at the same time, tolerating her first cousins occupation of portions of the
same lot.

This state of affairs changed when petitioners Delfin and Agustin allegedly began expanding their
occupation on the subject property and selling portions thereof.[16] Delfin allegedly sold a 400-
square meter portion of Lot No. 1 to petitioner Maynard[17] Mondiguing (Maynard) while Agustin
sold another portion to petitioner Jose Valdez (Jose).[18]
With such developments, Margarita filed a complaint[19] for recovery of ownership, possession,
reconveyance and damages against all four occupants of Lot No. 1 before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Baguio City. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 4140-R and raffled to Branch 59.
The complaint prayed for the annulment of the sales to Maynard and Jose and for petitioners to
vacate the portions of the property which exceed the areas allowed to them by Margarita.[20]
Margarita claimed that, as they are her first cousins, she is willing to donate to Delfin and Agustin
a portion of Lot No. 1, provided that she retains the power to choose such portion.[21]
Petitioners denied Margaritas claims of ownership and possession over Lot No. 1. According to
Delfin and Agustin, Lot No. 1 is a public land claimed by the heirs of Joaquin Smith (not parties
to the case).[22] The Smiths gave their permission for Delfin and Agustins parents to occupy the
land sometime in 1969 or 1970. They also presented their neighbors who testified that it was Delfin
and Agustin as well as their respective parents who occupied Lot No. 1, not Margarita and her
parents.

Delfin and Agustin also assailed the muniments of ownership presented by Margarita as fabricated,
unauthenticated, and invalid. It was pointed out that the Deed of Quitclaim, allegedly executed by
all of Ap-aps children, failed to include two Rita Bocahan and Stewart Sito.[23] Margarita
admitted during trial that Rita Bocahan and Stewart Sito were her uncle and aunt, but did not
explain why they were excluded from the quitclaim.

According to Maynard and Jose, Delfin and Agustin were the ones publicly and openly in
possession of the land and who introduced improvements thereon. They also corroborated Delfin
and Agustins allegation that the real owners of the property are the heirs of Joaquin Smith.[24]
In order to debunk petitioners claim that the Smiths owned the subject property, Margarita
presented a certified copy of a Resolution from the Land Management Office denying the Smiths
application for recognition of the subject property as part of their ancestral land.[25] The resolution
explains that the application had to be denied because the Smiths did not possess, occupy or utilize
all or a portion of the property x x x. The actual occupants (who were not named in the resolution)
whose improvements are visible are not in any way related to the applicant or his co-heirs.[26]

To bolster her claim of ownership and possession, Margarita introduced as evidence an


unnumbered resolution of the Community Special Task Force on Ancestral Lands (CSTFAL) of
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), acting favorably on her and her
siblings ancestral land claim over a portion of the 186,090-square meter property.[27] The said
resolution states:

The land subject of the instant application is the ancestral land of the herein applicants. Well-
established is the fact that the land treated herein was first declared for taxation purposes in 1922
under Tax Declaration No. 363 by the applicants grandfather Ap-Ap (one name). Said application
was reconstructed in 1965 after the original got lost during the war. These tax declarations were
issued and recorded in the Municipality of Tuba, Benguet, considering that the land was then
within the territorial jurisdiction of the said municipality. That upon the death of declarant Ap-Ap
his heirs x x x transferred the tax declaration in their name, [which tax declaration is] now with
the City assessors office of Baguio.

The land consisting of four (4) lots with a total area of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX
THOUSAND NINETY (186,090) SQUARE METERS, is covered by Psu-198317 duly approved
by the Director of Lands on October 4, 1963 in the name of Ap-Ap (one name). In 1964, the same
land was the subject of a petition filed by Gilbert Semon, as petitioner, before the Court of First
Instance of the City of Baguio in the reopening of Judicial Proceedings under Civil Case No. 1,
GLRO Record No. 211 for the registration and the issuance of Certificate of Title of said land. The
land registration case was however overtaken by the decision of the Supreme Court declaring such
judicial proceedings null and void because the courts of law have no jurisdiction.

It has been sufficiently substantiated by the applicants that prior to and at the time of the pendency
of the land registration case and henceforth up to and including the present, the herein applicants
by themselves and through their predecessor-in-interest have been in exclusive, continuous, and
material possession and occupation of the said parcel of land mentioned above under claim of
ownership, devoting the same for residential and agricultural purposes. Found are the residential
houses of the applicants as well as those of their close relatives, while the other areas planted to
fruit trees, coffee and banana, and seasonal crops. Also noticeable therein are permanent stone and
earthen fences, terraces, clearings, including irrigation gadgets.

On the matter of the applicant[s] indiguinity [sic] and qualifications, there is no doubt that they are
members of the National Cultural Communities, particularly the Ibaloi tribe. They are the
legitimate grandchildren of Ap-Ap (one name) who lived along the Asin Road area. His legal heirs
are: Orani Ap-Ap, married to Calado Salda; Rita Ap-Ap, married to Jose Bacacan; Sucdad Ap-Ap,
married to Oragon Wakit; and Gilbert Semon, a former vice-mayor of Tuba, Benguet, [who]
adopted the common name of their father Semon, as it is the customary practice among the early
Ibalois. x x x

On the matter regarding the inheritance of the heirs of Ap-Ap, it is important to state [that] Gilbert
Semon consolidated ownership thereof and became the sole heir in 1964, by way of a Deed of
Quitclaim executed by the heirs in his favor. As to the respective share of the applicants[] co-heirs,
the same was properly adjudicated in 1989 with the execution of an Extrajudicial Settlement/
Partition of Estate with Waiver of Rights.

With regard to the overlapping issue, it is pertinent to state that application No. Bg-L-066 of
Thomas Smith has already been denied by us in our Resolution dated November 1997. As to the
other adverse claims therein by reason of previous conveyances in favor of third parties, the same
were likewise excluded resulting in the reduction of the area originally applied from ONE
HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND NINETY (186,090) SQUARE METERS, more or less
to ONE HUNDRED TEN THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED FORTY TWO (110,342) SQUARE
METERS, more or less. Considering the foregoing developments, we find no legal and procedural
obstacle in giving due course to the instant application.

Now therefore, we hereby [resolve] that the application for Recognition of Ancestral Land Claim
filed by the Heirs of Gilbert Semon, represented by Juanito Semon, be granted [and] a Certificate
of Ancestral Land Claim (CALC) be issued to the herein applicants by the Secretary, Department
of Environment and Natural Resources, Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, through the
Regional Executive Director, DENR-CAR, Diego Silang Street, Baguio City. The area of the claim
stated herein above is however subject to the outcome of the final survey to be forthwith executed.

Carried this 23rd day of June 1998.[28]

The resolution was not signed by two members of the CSTFAL on the ground that the signing of
the unnumbered resolution was overtaken by the enactment of the Republic Act (RA) No. 8371 or
the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA). The IPRA removed the authority of the DENR
to issue ancestral land claim certificates and transferred the same to the National Commission on
Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).[29] The Ancestral Land Application No. Bg-L-064 of the Heirs of
Gilbert Semon was transferred to the NCIP, Cordillera Administrative Region, La Trinidad,
Benguet and re-docketed as Case No. 05-RHO-CAR-03.[30] The petitioners filed their protest in
the said case before the NCIP. The same has been submitted for resolution.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court[31]

After summarizing the evidence presented by both parties, the trial court found that it
preponderates in favor of respondents long-time possession of and claim of ownership over the
subject property.[32] The survey plan of the subject property in the name of the Heirs of Ap-ap
executed way back in 1962 and the tax declarations thereafter issued to the respondent and her
siblings all support her claim that her family and their predecessors-in-interest have all been in
possession of the property to the exclusion of others. The court likewise gave credence to the
documentary evidence of the transfer of the land from the Heirs of Ap-ap to respondents father
and, eventually to respondent herself. The series of transfers of the property were indications of
the respondents and her predecessors interest over the property. The court opined that while these
pieces of documentary evidence were not conclusive proof of actual possession, they lend credence
to respondents claim because, in the ordinary course of things, persons will not execute legal
documents dealing with real property, unless they believe, and have the basis to believe, that they
have an interest in the property subject of the legal documents x x x.[33]
In contrast, the trial court found nothing on record to substantiate the allegations of the petititioners
that they and their parents were the long-time possessors of the subject property. Their own
statements belied their assertions. Petitioner Maynard and Jose both admitted that they could not
secure title for the property from the Bureau of Lands because there were pending ancestral land
claims over the property.[34] Petitioner Agustins Townsite Sales Application over the property
was held in abeyance because of respondents own claim, which was eventually favorably
considered by the CSTFAL.[35]

The dispositive portion of the trial courts Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the [respondent]


and against the [petitioners]

(1) Declaring the transfer of a portion of Lot 1 of PSU 198317 made by the [petitioner] Delfin
Lamsis to Menard Mondiguing and Jose Valdez, Jr. null and void;

(2) Ordering the [petitioners] Delfin Lamsis, Agustin Kitma, Menard Mondiguing and Jose
Valdez, Jr., to vacate the area they are presently occupying that is within Lot 1 of PSU 198317
belonging to the [respondent] and to surrender possession thereof to the [respondent];

(3) To pay [respondent] attorneys fees in the amount of P10,000.00; and

(4) To pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.[36]

It appears that no motion for reconsideration was filed before the trial court. Nevetheless, the trial
court issued an Order[37] allowing the petitioners Notice of Appeal.[38]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals[39]

The sole issue resolved by the appellate court was whether the trial court erred in ruling in favor
of respondent in light of the adduced evidence. Citing the rule on preponderance of evidence, the
CA held that the respondent was able to discharge her burden in proving her title and interest to
the subject property. Her documentary evidence were amply supported by the testimonial evidence
of her witnesses.

In contrast, petitioners only made bare allegations in their testimonies that are insufficient to
overcome respondents documentary evidence.

Petitioners moved for a reconsideration[40] of the adverse decision but the same was denied.

Hence this petition, which was initially denied for failure to show that the CA committed any
reversible error.[41] Upon petitioners motion for reconsideration,[42] the petition was reinstated
in the Courts January 15, 2007 Resolution.[43]

Petitioners arguments

Petitioners assign as error the CAs appreciation of the evidence already affirmed and considered
by the trial court. They maintain that the change in the presiding judges who heard and decided
their case resulted in the appreciation of what would otherwise be inadmissible evidence.[44]
Petitioners ask that the Court exempt their petition from the general rule that a trial judges
assessment of the credibility of witnesses is accorded great respect on appeal.
To support their claim that the trial and appellate courts erred in ruling in favor of respondent, they
assailed the various pieces of evidence offered by respondent. They maintain that the Deed of
Quitclaim executed by the Heirs of Ap-ap is spurious and lacks the parties and witnesses
signatures. Moreover, it is a mere photocopy, which was never authenticated by the notary public
in court and no reasons were proferred regarding the existence, loss, and contents of the original
copy.[45] Under the best evidence rule, the Deed of Quitclaim is inadmissible in evidence and
should have been disregarded by the court.

Respondent did not prove that she and her husband possessed the subject property since time
immemorial. Petitioners argue that respondent admitted possessing and cultivating only the land
that lies outside the subject property.[46]

Petitioners next assail the weight to be given to respondents muniments of ownership, such as the
tax declarations and the survey plan. They insist that these are not indubitable proofs of
respondents ownership over the subject property given that there are other claimants to the land
(who are not parties to this case) who also possess a survey plan over the subject property.[47]
Petitioners then assert their superior right to the property as the present possessors thereof. They
cite pertinent provisions of the New Civil Code which presume good faith possession on the part
of the possessor and puts the burden on the plaintiff in an action to recover to prove her superior
title.[48]

Petitioners next assert that they have a right to the subject property by the operation of acquisitive
prescription. They posit that they have been in possession of a public land publicly, peacefully,
exclusively and in the concept of owners for more than 30 years. Respondents assertion that
petitioners are merely possessors by tolerance is unsubstantiated.[49]

Petitioners also maintain that the reivindicatory action should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction
in light of the enactment of the IPRA, which gives original and exclusive jurisdiction over disputes
involving ancestral lands and domains to the NCIP.[50] They assert that the customary laws of the
Ibaloi tribe of the Benguet Province should be applied to their dispute as mandated by Section 65,
Chapter IX of RA 8371, which states: When disputes involve ICCs/IPs,[51] customary laws and
practices shall be used to resolve the dispute.

In the alternative that jurisdiction over an accion reivindicatoria is held to be vested in the trial
court, the petitioners insist that the courts should dismiss the reivindicatory action on the ground
of litis pendentia.[52] They likewise argue that NCIP has primary jurisdiction over ancestral lands,
hence, the courts should not interfere when the dispute demands the exercise of sound
administrative discretion requiring special knowledge, experience and services of the
administrative tribunal x x x In cases where the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is clearly
applicable, the court cannot arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy, the
jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence.[53]
The courts should stand aside in order to prevent the possibility of creating conflicting
decisions.[54]

Respondents arguments

Respondent opines that the appellate court did not commit any reversible error in affirming the
trial courts decision. The present petition is a mere dilatory tactic to frustrate the speedy
administration of justice.[55]

Respondent also asserts that questions of fact are prohibited in a Rule 45 petition.[56] Thus, the
appreciation and consideration of the factual issues are no longer reviewable.[57]
The issue of lack of jurisdiction is raised for the first time in the petition before this Court. It was
never raised before the trial court or the CA. Thus, respondent insists that petitioners are now
barred by laches from attacking the trial courts jurisdiction over the case. Citing Aragon v. Court
of Appeals,[58] respondent argues that the jurisdictional issue should have been raised at the
appellate level at the very least so as to avail of the doctrine that the ground lack of jurisdiction
over the subject matter of the case may be raised at any stage of the proceedings even on
appeal.[59]

Respondent maintains that there is no room for the application of litis pendentia because the issues
in the application for ancestral land claim are different from the issue in a reivindicatory action.
The issue before the NCIP is whether the Government, as grantor, will recognize the ancestral land
claim of respondent over a public alienable land; while the issue in the reivindicatory case before
the trial court is ownership, possession, and right to recover the real property.[60]

Given that the elements of lis pendens are absent in case at bar, the allegation of forum-shopping
is also bereft of merit. Any judgment to be rendered by the NCIP will not amount to res judicata
in the instant case.[61]

ISSUE:

whether the ancestral land claim pending before the NCIP should take precedence over the
reivindicatory action.

HELD:
The application for issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title pending before the NCIP is
akin to a registration proceeding. It also seeks an official recognition of ones claim to a particular
land and is also in rem. The titling of ancestral lands is for the purpose of officially establishing
ones land as an ancestral land.[69] Just like a registration proceeding, the titling of ancestral lands
does not vest ownership[70] upon the applicant but only recognizes ownership[71] that has already
vested in the applicant by virtue of his and his predecessor-in-interests possession of the property
since time immemorial. As aptly explained in another case:

It bears stressing at this point that ownership should not be confused with a certificate of title.
Registering land under the Torrens system does not create or vest title because registration is not
a mode of acquiring ownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title
over the particular property described therein. Corollarily, any question involving the issue of
ownership must be threshed out in a separate suit x x x The trial court will then conduct a full-
blown trial wherein the parties will present their respective evidence on the issue of ownership of
the subject properties to enable the court to resolve the said issue. x x x[72] (Emphasis supplied)
Likewise apropos is the following explanation:

The fact that the [respondents] were able to secure [TCTs over the property] did not operate to vest
upon them ownership of the property. The Torrens system does not create or vest title. It has never
been recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership x x x If the [respondents] wished to assert their
ownership, they should have filed a judicial action for recovery of possession and not merely to
have the land registered under their respective names. x x x Certificates of title do not establish
ownership.[73] (Emphasis supplied)

A registration proceeding is not a conclusive adjudication of ownership. In fact, if it is later on


found in another case (where the issue of ownership is squarely adjudicated) that the registrant is
not the owner of the property, the real owner can file a reconveyance case and have the title
transferred to his name.[74]

Given that a registration proceeding (such as the certification of ancestral lands) is not a conclusive
adjudication of ownership, it will not constitute litis pendentia on a reivindicatory case where the
issue is ownership.[75] For litis pendentia to be a ground for the dismissal of an action, the
following requisites must concur: (a) identity of parties, or at least such parties who 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 with respect to the two preceding particulars in the
two cases is such that any judgment that may be rendered in the pending case, regardless of which
party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other case.[76] The third element is
missing, for any judgment in the certification case would not constitute res judicata or be
conclusive on the ownership issue involved in the reivindicatory case. Since there is no litis
pendentia, there is no reason for the reivindicatory case to be suspended or dismissed in favor of
the certification case.

Moreover, since there is no litis pendentia, we cannot agree with petitioners contention that
respondent committed forum-shopping. Settled is the rule that forum shopping exists where the
elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res
judicata in the other.[77]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is denied for lack of merit. The March 30, 2006
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 78987 and its May 26, 2006 Resolution
denying the motion for reconsideration are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

PHILIPPINE ECONOMIC ZONE AUTHORITY, represented herein by DIRECTOR


GENERAL LILIA B. DE LIMA,
Petitioner,
- versus -
JOSEPH JUDE CARANTES, ROSE CARANTES, and all the other HEIRS OF
MAXIMINO CARANTES,
Respondents.
G.R. No. 181274
Present:
CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
BERSAMIN,
ABAD,* and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ
Promulgated:
June 23, 2010
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
FACTS:
Respondents Joseph Jude Carantes, Rose Carantes and the heirs of Maximino Carantes are in
possession of a 30,368-square meter parcel of land located in Loakan Road, Baguio City. On June
20, 1997, they obtained Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim (CALC) No. CAR-CALC-022[4] over
the land from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). On the strength of
said CALC, respondents secured a building permit[5] and a fencing permit[6] from the Building
Official of Baguio City, Teodoro G. Barrozo. Before long, they fenced the premises and began
constructing a residential building thereon.
Soon, respondents received a letter[7] dated February 9, 1999 from Digna D. Torres, the Zone
Administrator of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), informing them that the house
they built had overlapped PEZAs territorial boundary. Torres advised respondents to demolish the
same within sixty (60) days from notice. Otherwise, PEZA would undertake its demolition at
respondents expense.
Without answering PEZAs letter, respondents filed a petition for injunction, with prayer for the
issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction before the RTC
of Baguio City. By Order[8] dated April 8, 1999, the RTC of Baguio City issued a TRO, which
enjoined PEZA to cease and desist from threatening respondents with the demolition of their house
before respondents prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction can be heard. On September 19,
2001, the RTC likewise issued an Order,[9] which directed the parties to maintain the status quo
pending resolution of the case.
On October 2, 2001, the RTC granted respondents petition and ordered the issuance of a writ of
injunction against PEZA, thus:
WHEREFORE, the petition is herein GRANTED and a writ of injunction is hereby issued
enjoining the respondents, their agents, representatives or anybody acting in their behalf from
dispossessing, notifying or disturbing in any [manner] the peaceful possession and occupation of
the land by the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.[10]
The trial court ruled that respondents are entitled to possess, occupy and cultivate the subject lots
on the basis of their CALC. The court a quo explained that by the very definition of an ancestral
land under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8371[11] or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, said
lots have been segregated from lands of the public domain. As such, the rights of respondents to
the land are already vested in them and cannot be disturbed by Proclamation No. 1825,[12] which
included said land within the export processing zone of Baguio City.
On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC ruling. In the assailed Decision dated October 26, 2007, the
appellate court echoed the trial courts declaration that the subject lots have been set aside from the
lands of the public domain.
ISSUE:
I
WHETHER OR NOT IT IS THE PETITIONER OR THE CITY ENGINEER OF BAGUIO CITY
WHO HAS THE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO ISSUE BUILDING AND FENCING PERMITS
FOR CONSTRUCTIONS WITHIN THE PEZA-BCEZ.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENTS CALC IS SUFFICIENT TO DISREGARD THE
PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL BUILDING CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES.[15]
HELD:
The OSG, at the outset, explains the delay in appealing the CA decision. It attributes the delay to
the inadvertence of Senior State Solicitor Rodolfo Geronimo M. Pineda, the temporarily-
designated officer-in-charge (OIC) of Division XV, who took over the case when State Solicitor
Maricar S.A. Prudon-Sison went on maternity leave. Pineda allegedly merely noted receipt of the
CA decision without noticing that it was adverse to PEZA. The OSG adds that the sparse
complement of three (3) lawyers left at the time could not tackle at once the horde of cases assigned
to the division.
On substantive grounds, petitioner claims exclusive authority to issue building and fencing permits
within ecozones under Section 6[16] of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1716,[17] amending P.D.
No. 66.[18] Alongside, petitioner asserts concurrent authority to require owners of structures
without said permits to remove or demolish such structures under Section 14 (i)[19] of R.A. No.
7916.[20]
For their part, respondents rely on CAR-CALC-022 for their right to fence the lots and build a
house thereon. They insist that the function of issuing building and fencing permits, even within
the Baguio City Economic Zone, pertains to the Office of the City Mayor and the Building Official
of Baguio City, respectively. Respondents likewise assail the petition for being filed late, stressing
that it was filed only after almost three (3) months from petitioners receipt of the CA decision.
We grant the petition.
It is settled that an appeal must be perfected within the reglementary period provided by law;
otherwise, the decision becomes final and executory.[21] Before the Supreme Court, a petition for
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, must be filed
within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from, or
of the denial of the petitioners motion for new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after notice
of the judgment. Even then, review is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion, and
may be granted only when there are special and important reasons therefor.
In the case at bar, the Docket Division of the OSG received a copy of the CA decision on November
7, 2007. It was not until February 1, 2008 or almost three (3) months however, that the OSG, for
petitioner, filed a petition for review on certiorari with this Court. The OSG pleads for
understanding considering the scarcity of its lawyers and the inadvertence of the temporarily-
designated OIC of Division XV in overlooking that the CA decision was adverse to PEZA.
While the Court realizes the OSGs difficulty in having only three (3) lawyers working full time on
its cases, the OSG could have easily asked for an extension of time within which to file the petition.
More importantly, as the government agency tasked to represent the government in litigations, the
OSG should perform its duty with promptness and utmost diligence.
However, upon careful consideration of the merits of this case, the Court is inclined to overlook
this procedural lapse in the interest of substantial justice. Although a party is bound by the acts of
its counsel, including the latters mistakes and negligence, a departure from this rule is warranted
where such mistake or neglect would result in serious injustice to the client. Indeed, procedural
rules may be relaxed for persuasive reasons to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate
with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure.[22] More so, when to allow the assailed
decision to go unchecked would set a precedent that will sanction a violation of substantive law.
Such is the situation in this case.
Injunction is a judicial writ, process or proceeding whereby a party is directed either to do a
particular act, in which case it is called a mandatory injunction or to refrain from doing a particular
act, in which case it is called a prohibitory injunction. As a main action, injunction seeks to
permanently enjoin the defendant through a final injunction issued by the court and contained in
the judgment. Section 9, Rule 58 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides,
SEC. 9. When final injunction granted. If after the trial of the action it appears that the applicant
is entitled to have the act or acts complained of permanently enjoined, the court shall grant a final
injunction perpetually restraining the party or person enjoined from the commission or continuance
of the act or acts or confirming the preliminary mandatory injunction.
Two (2) requisites must concur for injunction to issue: (1) there must be a right to be protected and
(2) the acts against which the injunction is to be directed are violative of said right.[23] Particularly,
in actions involving realty, preliminary injunction will lie only after the plaintiff has fully
established his title or right thereto by a proper action for the purpose. To authorize a temporary
injunction, the complainant must make out at least a prima facie showing of a right to the final
relief. Preliminary injunction will not issue to protect a right not in esse.[24] These principles are
equally relevant to actions seeking permanent injunction.
At the onset, we must stress that petitioner does not pose an adverse claim over the subject land.
Neither does petitioner dispute that respondents hold building and fencing permits over the lots.
For petitioner, the question that must be answered is whether respondents may build structures
within the Baguio City Economic Zone on the basis of their CAR-CALC-022, and the building
and fencing permits issued by the City Building Official.
We rule in the negative.
In the parallel case of Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) v. Borreta,[25] Benedicto
Carantes invoked CAR-CALC-022, the same CALC invoked by respondents in this case, to put
up structures in the land subject of said case. The Court, speaking through Justice Angelina
Sandoval-Gutierrez, refused to recall the writ of demolition issued by the trial court therein. We
held that Carantes is a mere applicant for the issuance of a certificate of ownership of an ancestral
land who has yet to acquire a vested right as owner thereof so as to exclude the land from the areas
under PEZA. We perceive no good reason to depart from this ruling as we find respondents herein
to be similarly situated.
As holders of a CALC, respondents possess no greater rights than those enumerated in Par. 1,
Section 2, Article VII of DENR Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 02, Series of 1993:
SECTION 2. Rights and Responsibilities of Ancestral Land Claimants
1. Rights
1. The right to peacefully occupy and cultivate the land, and utilize the natural resources therein,
subject to existing laws, rules and regulations applicable thereto;
2. The right of the heirs to succeed to the claims subject to existing rules and regulations;
3. The right to exclude from the claim any other person who does not belong to the family or
clan; and
4. The right to utilize trees and other forest products inside the ancestral land subject to these
rules as well as customary laws. (Emphasis supplied.)

Respondents being holders of a mere CALC, their right to possess the subject land is limited to
occupation in relation to cultivation. Unlike No. 1,[26] Par. 1, Section 1, Article VII of the same
DENR DAO, which expressly allows ancestral domain claimants to reside peacefully within the
domain, nothing in Section 2 grants ancestral land claimants a similar right, much less the right to
build permanent structures on ancestral lands an act of ownership that pertains to one (1) who has
a recognized right by virtue of a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title. On this score alone,
respondents action for injunction must fail.
Yet, even if respondents had established ownership of the land, they cannot simply put up fences
or build structures thereon without complying with applicable laws, rules and regulations. In
particular, Section 301 of P.D. No. 1096, otherwise known as the National Building Code of the
Philippines mandates:
SECTION 301. Building Permits
No person, firm or corporation, including any agency or instrumentality of the government shall
erect, construct, alter, repair, move, convert or demolish any building or structure or cause the
same to be done without first obtaining a building permit therefor from the Building Official
assigned in the place where the subject building is located or the building work is to be done.

Supplementary to a building permit, a fencing permit must also be secured from the Building
Official concerned before fences may be installed in the premises.

In the present case, petitioner refuses to honor the building and fencing permits issued by the City
Building Official to respondents. Petitioner PEZA maintains that the function of administering and
enforcing the provisions of P.D. No. 1096 within the areas owned and administered by it, pertains
to PEZA. Hence, it is PEZA, and not the local Building Official of Baguio City, which may
properly issue building and fencing permits within PEZA.
On this point, Section 205 of P.D. No. 1096 is pertinent:
SECTION 205. Building Officials
Except as otherwise provided herein, the Building Official shall be responsible for carrying out
the provisions of this Code in the field as well as the enforcement of orders and decisions made
pursuant thereto.
Due to the exigencies of the service, the Secretary may designate incumbent Public Works District
Engineers, City Engineers and Municipal Engineers to act as Building Officials in their respective
areas of jurisdiction.
The designation made by the Secretary under this Section shall continue until regular positions of
Building Official are provided or unless sooner terminated for causes provided by law or decree.

The position of Building Official is a regular item in the organizational structure of the local
government. Only in case of urgent necessity may the Secretary of Public Works designate the
incumbent District Engineer, Municipal Engineer or City Engineer, as the case may be. This was
the applicable law even for areas covered by the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) until
P.D. No. 1716 was enacted on August 21, 1980.
P.D. No. 1716 further amended P.D. No. 66,[27] the law creating the EPZA, by creating the PEZA.
Section 11 of R.A. No. 7916 provides that the existing EPZA created under P.D. No. 66 shall
evolve into and be referred to as the PEZA in accordance with the guidelines and regulations set
forth in an executive order issued for the purpose.
Thus, on October 30, 1995, Executive Order No. 282[28] was enacted. Under Section 1 thereof,
all the powers, functions and responsibilities of EPZA under P.D. No. 66, as amended, insofar as
they are not inconsistent with the powers, functions and responsibilities of the PEZA, under R.A.
No. 7916, shall be assumed and exercised by PEZA.
Among such powers is the administration and enforcement of the National Building Code of the
Philippines in all zones and areas owned or administered by EPZA, as expressly provided in
Section 6 of P.D. No. 1716:
SEC. 6. The administration and enforcement of the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1096,
otherwise known as the National Building Code of the Philippines in all zones and areas owned or
administered by the Authority shall be vested in the Administrator or his duly authorized
representative. He shall appoint such EPZA qualified personnel as may be necessary to act as
Building Officials who shall be charged with the duty of issuing Building Permits in the different
zones. All fees and dues collected by the Building Officials under the National Building Code shall
accrue to the Authority. (Emphasis supplied.)
This function, which has not been repealed and does not appear to be inconsistent with any of the
powers and functions of PEZA under R.A. No. 7916, subsists. Complimentary thereto, Section 14
(i) of R.A. No. 7916 states:
SEC. 14. Powers and Functions of the Director General. - The director general shall be the overall
[coordinator] of the policies, plans and programs of the ECOZONES. As such, he shall provide
overall supervision over and general direction to the development and operations of these
ECOZONES. He shall determine the structure and the staffing pattern and personnel complement
of the PEZA and establish regional offices, when necessary, subject to the approval of the PEZA
Board.
In addition, he shall have the following specific powers and responsibilities:
xxxx
(i) To require owners of houses, buildings or other structures constructed without the necessary
permit whether constructed on public or private lands, to remove or demolish such houses,
buildings, structures within sixty (60) days after notice and upon failure of such owner to remove
or demolish such house, building or structure within said period, the director general or his
authorized representative may summarily cause its removal or demolition at the expense of the
owner, any existing law, decree, executive order and other issuances or part thereof to the contrary
notwithstanding; (Emphasis supplied.)
By specific provision of law, it is PEZA, through its building officials, which has authority to issue
building permits for the construction of structures within the areas owned or administered by it,
whether on public or private lands. Corollary to this, PEZA, through its director general may
require owners of structures built without said permit to remove such structures within sixty (60)
days. Otherwise, PEZA may summarily remove them at the expense of the owner of the houses,
buildings or structures.
As regards the issuance of fencing permits on ancestral lands, particularly within Baguio City and
the rest of the Cordilleras, DENR-Circular No. 03-90 (Rules on the Acceptance, Identification,
Evaluation, and Delineation of Ancestral Land Claims by the Special Task Force Created by the
Virtue of DENR Special Order Nos. 31 and 31-A both Series of 1990) prescribes in Section 12:
SEC. 12. The Regional Land Management Services or the CENROs, through their respective
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO), shall prepare and submit to the
Special Task Force a report on each and every application surveyed and delineated. Thereafter, the
Special Task Force after evaluating the reports, shall endorse valid ancestral land claims to the
Secretary through the Indigenous Community Affairs Division, Special Concerns Office for the
issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim. As soon as ancestral land claim is found to be
valid and in meritorious cases, the Special Task Force may recommend to the City/Municipal
Mayors Office the issuance of a fencing permit to the applicant over areas actually occupied at the
time of filing. (Emphasis supplied.)
This is the general rule. Considering, however, that in this case, a fencing permit is issued
complementary to a building permit and that within the premises of PEZA, it is the Authority that
may properly issue a building permit, it is only fitting that fencing permits be issued by the
Authority.
From the foregoing disquisition, it clearly appears that respondents likewise failed to satisfy the
second requisite in order that an injunction may issue: that the acts against which the injunction is
to be directed, are violative of said right. PEZA acted well within its functions when it demanded
the demolition of the structures which respondents had put up without first securing building and
fencing permits from the Authority.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated October 26, 2007 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 73230 affirming the Order dated October 2, 2001 of the court a quo
in Civil Case No. 4339-R is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondents are hereby DIRECTED
to demolish the residential building they had built within the premises of PEZA within sixty (60)
days from notice.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.