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Leo

Echagaray vs. Secretary of Justice

January 19, 1999 (G.R. No. 132601)PARTIES:


Petitioner: LEO ECHEGARAY
Respondents: SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, ET AL

Crime of Rape: 10 year-old daughter of his common law spouse Imposition upon him of the
death penalty (Lethal injection) for the said crime.

FACTS:
On January 4, 1999, the SC issued a TRO staying the execution of petitioner Leo Echegaray
scheduled on that same day. The public respondent Justice Secretary assailed the issuance of the
TRO arguing that the action of the SC not only violated the rule on finality of judgment but also
encroached on the power of the executive to grant reprieve.

The finality of judgment does not mean that the court has lost all its powers nor the case. By the
finality of the judgment what the court loses is its jurisdiction to amend, modify or alter the same.
Even after the judgment has become final the court retains its jurisdiction to execute and enforce
it.

The power to control the execution of its decision is an essential aspect of jurisdiction and that
the most important part of litigation, whether civil or criminal, is the process of execution of
decisions where supervening events may change the circumstances of the parties and compel
courts to intervene and adjust the rights of litigants to prevent unfairness. In affirming that courts
have the inherent and necessary power of control of its processes and orders to make them
conformable to law and justice, cites Sec. 6 of Rule 135.

Doctrine of Adherence of Jurisdiction also applies. Even the finality of the judgment does not
totally deprive the court of jurisdiction over the case. What the court loses is the power to amend,
modify or alter the judgment. Even after judgment has become final, the court retains jurisdiction
to enforce and execute it.


ISSUE:

Whether or not the court abused its discretion in granting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
on the execution of Echegaray despite the fact that the finality of judgment has already been
rendered that by granting the TRO, the Honorable Court has in effect granted reprieve which is
an executive function.


HELD:


No. Respondents cited sec 19, art VII. The provision is simply the source of power of the President
to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons and remit fines and forfeitures after conviction
by final judgment. The provision, however, cannot be interpreted as denying the power of courts
to control the enforcement of their decision after their finality.
The powers of the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary to save the life of a death convict
do not exclude each other for the simple reason that there is no higher right than the right to life.
For the public respondents therefore to contend that only the Executive can protect the right to
life of an accused after his final conviction is to violate the principle of co-equal and coordinate
powers of the three branches of our government.


ABC DAVAO AUTO SUPPLY INC., vs. COURT OF APPEALS

FACTS:

A complaint for a sum of money, attorneys fees and damages was filed by petitioner before the
RTC of Davao City which was raffled to Branch XVI. Private respondents cross examination was
heard by Judge Agton since he already assumed office at that time. However, when the judiciary
was reorganized under the Aquino administration, Judge Agton was transferred to another
branch. Meanwhile, Judge Marasigan, was assigned to Branch XVI, thereby replacing Judge
Agton. Judge Marasigan then acted on private respondents motion for extension of time to file
memorandum. A decision penned by Judge Agton was rendered in favor of petitioner. Private
respondent moved to reconsider said decision, but the same was denied in an order by Judge
Marasigan. Private respondent appealed to the CA which nullified Judge Agtons decision on the
ground that at the
time he rendered the judgment, he was neither the judge de jure nor the judge de facto of the
RTC Branch XVI, and correspondingly remanded the case to the lower court.

RTC Judge Agton penned a decision in favor or petitioner.

CA Nullified Judge Agtons and remanded the case to the lower court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the decision penned by Judge Agton was valid.


RULING:
It is a rule that a case is deemed submitted for decision upon the filing of the last pleading, brief
or memorandum required by the rules, or by the court. Records disclose that this case was
submitted for decision sometime on March 1987 after the parties submission of their
memoranda as required by the court, at which time Judge Marasigan was already presiding in
Branch XVI. Thus, the case was submitted for decision to Judge Marasigan and not to Judge Agton
who by then was already transferred to another branch. Judge Agtons decision, therefore,
appears to be tainted with impropriety. Nevertheless, the subsequent motion for reconsideration
of Judge Agtons decision was acted upon by Judge Marasigan himself and his denial of the said
motion indicates that he subscribed with the adopted in toto Judge Agtons decision. Any
incipient defect was cured.
Moreover, for a judgment to be binding, it must be duly signed and promulgated during the
incumbency of the judge whose signature appears thereon. Branches of the trial court are not
distinct and separate tribunals from each other. Hence, contrary to private respondents
allegation, Judge Agton could not have possibly lost jurisdiction over the case,
because jurisdiction does not attach to the judge but to the court. The continuity of a court and
the efficacy of its proceedings are not affected by the death, resignation, or cessation from the
service of the judge presiding over it.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through its trustee, the ASSET PRIVATIZATION


TRUST, Petitioner,
vs.
"G" HOLDINGS, INC., Respondent.

FACTS:

The Committee on Privatization approved the proposal of the Asset Privatization Trust (APT) for
the negotiated sale of 90% of the shares of stock of the government-owned Maricalum Mining
Corporation (MMC). Learning of the governments intention to sell MMC, the respondent "G"
Holdings, Inc. signified its interest to purchase MMC and submitted the best bid. The series of
negotiations between the parties culminated in the execution of a purchase and sale agreement.
Subsequently, a disagreement on the matter of when the installment payments should
commence arose between the parties. Unable to settle the issue, "G" Holdings filed a complaint
for specific performance and damages with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 49, against
the Republic to compel it to close the sale in accordance with the purchase and sale agreement.
During the pre-trial, the respective counsels of the parties manifested that the issue involved in
the case was one of law and submitted the case for decision.

RTC: The trial court rendered its decision. It ruled in favor of "G" Holdings.
The Solicitor General filed a notice of appeal on behalf of the Republic Contrary to the rules of
procedure, however, the notice of appeal was filed with the Court of Appeals (CA), not with the
trial court which rendered the judgment appealed from. No other judicial remedy was resorted
to when the Republic, through the APT, filed a petition for annulment of judgment with the CA.
It claimed that the decision should be annulled on the ground of abuse of discretion amounting
to lack of jurisdiction on the part of the trial court.

CA: Finding that the grounds necessary for the annulment of judgment were inexistent, the
appellate court dismissed the petition.

The appellate court also held that the trial court had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
case, as well as over the person of the parties. Hence, whatever error the trial court committed
in the exercise of its jurisdiction was merely an error of judgment, not an error of jurisdiction. As
an error of judgment, it was correctable by appeal. Unfortunately, appeal could no longer be
availed of by the Republic.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction which resulted in the nullity of the trial courts decision?

Ruling: The Supreme Court denied the petition and affirmed the resolution of the Court of
Appeals.

A petition for annulment of judgment is an extraordinary action.9 By virtue of its exceptional


character, the action is restricted exclusively to the grounds specified in the rules,10 namely, (1)
extrinsic fraud and (2) lack of jurisdiction.11 Lack of jurisdiction as a ground for annulment of
judgment refers to either lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defending party or over the
subject matter of the claim.14 Where the court has jurisdiction over the defendant and over the
subject matter of the case, its decision will not be voided on the ground of absence of jurisdiction.
The Republic does not deny that the trial court had jurisdiction over it as well as over the subject
matter of the case. In a petition for annulment of judgment based on lack of jurisdiction, the
petitioner must show not merely an abuse of jurisdictional discretion but an absolute lack of
jurisdiction.15 Thus, the concept of lack of jurisdiction as a ground to annul a judgment does not
embrace abuse of discretion. By claiming grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court,
the Republic actually concedes and presupposes the jurisdiction of the court to take cognizance
of the case. It only assails the manner in which the trial court formulated its judgment in the
exercise of its jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction is distinct from the exercise thereof. The Supreme Court amply explained the
distinction between the two in Tolentino v. Leviste,16 thus:
Jurisdiction is not the same as the exercise of jurisdiction. As distinguished from the exercise of
jurisdiction, jurisdiction is the authority to decide a cause, and not the decision rendered therein.
Where there is jurisdiction over the person and the subject matter, the decision on all other
questions arising in the case is but an exercise of the jurisdiction. And the errors which the court
may commit in the exercise of jurisdiction are merely errors of judgment which are the proper
subject of an appeal.

HEIRS OF JULIAN DELA CRUZ vs. HEIRS OF ALBERTO CRUZ

FACTS:

The Republic acquired the De Leon Estate located in Nueva Ecija for resale to deserving tenants
and landless farmers, conformably with Commonwealth Act No. 539, as amended by Republic
Act No. 1400. The property was under the administration of the Land Tenure Administration and
later the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Sometime in 1950, the DAR allocated a portion
of the property in favor of Julian dela Cruz who was a tenant thereon.

The Republic sold Lot No. 778 to Julian dela Cruz by virtue of an Agreement to Sell. In 1960, the
DAR issued Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) No. AS-5323 in his favor. Julian bound and obliged
himself to pay the amortizations over the land in 30 annual installments. He cultivated the
property and made payments to the government for a period of almost 20 years. He died in 1979
and was survived by his wife, Leonora Talaro-dela Cruz and their 10 children, including Mario and
Maximino dela Cruz.

Because of being too old to cultivate the land, Leonora dela Cruz executed a private document in
May 1980 in which she declared that, with the consent of her children, she had sold the land in
favor of Alberto Cruz, who henceforth had the right to possess and cultivate the property, and
the obligation to continue the payment of the amortizations due over the land under the terms
of the Agreement to Sell. Mario conformed to the deed.

Alberto took possession of the landholding and cultivated it over a period of 10 years without
any protest from Leonora and her children. He then filed an application to purchase the property
with the DAR. Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) prepared and signed an Investigation
Report, recommending that the landholding be declared vacant and disposable to a qualified
applicant. Declaring that there was no adverse claimant, the said report also recommended the
approval of Albertos application to purchase the property. Appended to the report was the deed
executed by Leonora in favor of Alberto.

The Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) issued an Order approving the recommendation
of the MARO. He directed the cancellation of Julians CLT and declared that whatever rights Julian
had over the landholding and payments made in favor of the government under the Agreement
to Sell were forfeited.
The PARO endorsed the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to the DAR Secretary, copy
furnished the Regional Director. The DAR Bureau of Land Acquisition and Distribution reviewed
and evaluated the records and recommended that the PAROs recommendation be affirmed.

The DAR Secretary signed and issued CLOA No. 51750 over the property in favor of Alberto Cruz,
and the certificate was registered with the Land Registration Authority (LRA). The Register of
Deeds issued Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. CLOA- 0-3035 over the landholding in favor of
Alberto Cruz.

Sometime in early 1996, Maximino, one of the surviving children of Julian, discovered that the
landholding had already been registered in the name of Alberto Cruz. Leonora and her 10
children, with the assistance of the DAR Bureau of Legal Assistance, filed a petition with the
Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) for the nullification of the following: the order
of the PARO, CLOA No. 51750, and TCT No. CLOA-0-3035 issued in favor of Alberto Cruz. The
petitioners declared they had no knowledge of the sale by Leonora and Mario of their right as
beneficiaries of the property; not being privies to the said sale, they were not bound by the
private deed executed by Leonora; and such sale, as well as the issuance of the CLOA and the
title over the property in favor of Alberto, was null and void, inasmuch as they violated agrarian
reform laws and DAR Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 1980. They insisted that they were
deprived of their rights as heirs of the beneficiary without due process of law.

In his comment on the petition, Alberto Cruz alleged that he acquired the rights over the
landholding from Leonora for P51,000.00 and had taken possession of the subject property. He
had been paying the amortizations for the property to the government and in fact had already
paid the purchase price of the property to the LBP in full.

PARAD granted the petition in a decision declaring that the petitioners were the rightful
allocatees of the property, and directed the MARO to cancel CLOA No. 51750 and TCT No. CLOA
-0-3035 and issue another in favor of the petitioners. Alberto was ordered to vacate the property.
The PARAD also directed the Register of Deeds of Nueva Ecija to cancel the said title and issue a
new one over the landholding in favor of the petitioners.

Alberto appealed the decision to the DARAB, which affirmed the ruling of the PARAD. The DARAB
ruled that the rights of the petitioners as farmers-beneficiaries could not be transferred or
waived except through hereditary succession or to the government, conformably with agrarian
reform laws and that the private document Leonora executed may be assailed by her children by
Julian, who were not privies thereto.

Alberto then filed a petition for review in the CA. He maintained that the DARAB had no
jurisdiction over the respondents petition because the implementation of agrarian reform laws
and rules and regulations was administrative in nature. He argued that the Dela Cruz should have
sought relief from the DAR instead of filing their petition with the DARAB.
In their Comment on the petition, the Heirs of Julian dela Cruz maintained that Section 38 of R.A.
No. 3844 and Section 1134 of R.A. No. 386 have no application in the case, considering that the
issue is not one of tenancy because they had never entered into such a relationship with Alberto.
The Heirs of Julian dela Cruz averred, the MARO and the PARO violated DAR Administrative Order
No. 3, Series of 1990, and deprived them of their right as beneficiaries over the property without
due process of law. They maintained that under Rule 2, paragraph (f) of the DARAB New Rules
and Procedures, the DARAB had jurisdiction over actions involving the issuance, correction or
cancellation of the CLOA and Emancipation Patents registered with the LRA.

The CA granted the petition and ordered the dismissal of the petition of the Heirs of Julian dela
Cruz in the PARAD for lack of jurisdiction. The CA declared that there was no tenancy relationship
between respondent Alberto and the said heirs; hence, the DARAB had no jurisdiction over the
petition. It declared that the issue before the DARAB was the rightful ownership over the
landholding.

The said heirs moved for the reconsideration of the decision. They asserted that respondent
Alberto was estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the DARAB because he never raised the
same in the PARAD and the DARAB. However, the appellate court resolved to deny the motion.

In the instant petition for review, the Heirs of Julian dela Cruz, as petitioners, maintain that under
Rule VI, Section 1(f) of the 1994 DARAB Rules of Procedure, the DARAB has primary and exclusive
jurisdiction over matters involving the issuance, correction and cancellation of CLOAs registered
with the LRA even if there is no tenancy relationship between the parties. The petitioners point
out that the issues before the DARAB do not only involve the ownership of the landholding, but
also whether the PARO violated their substantive and procedural right to due process, as well as
agrarian reform laws.

ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT THE DARAB HAS JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE?

HELD: No. The petition is denied for lack of merit.

It is axiomatic that the jurisdiction of a tribunal, including a quasi-judicial officer or government


agency, over the nature and subject matter of a petition or complaint is determined by the
material allegations therein and the character of the relief prayed for, irrespective of whether
the petitioner or complainant is entitled to any or all such reliefs. Jurisdiction over the nature and
subject matter of an action is conferred by the Constitution and the law, and not by the consent
or waiver of the parties where the court otherwise would have no jurisdiction over the nature or
subject matter of the action. Nor can it be acquired through, or waived by, any act or omission of
the parties. Moreover, estoppel does not apply to confer jurisdiction to a tribunal that has none
over the cause of action. The failure of the parties to challenge the jurisdiction of the DARAB does
not prevent the court from addressing the issue, especially where the DARABs lack of jurisdiction
is apparent on the face of the complaint or petition.
However, the Court agrees with the ruling of the CA that the dispute between the petitioners
and the respondents over the validity of the Order of the PARO, CLOA No. 51750, and TCT No.
CLOA-0-3035 and the cancellation thereof is not agrarian in nature. Under Section 17 of Executive
Order No. 229, the DAR is vested with quasi-judicial power and exclusive original jurisdiction to
determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters, as well as other matters involving the
implementation of agrarian reform laws, except those falling under the exclusive original
jurisdiction of the DENR and the Department of Agriculture

The petitioners themselves categorically admitted in their pleadings that there was no landlord-
tenancy relationship between them and Alberto over the landholding. Nor did they have any
tenurial, leasehold, or agrarian relations whatsoever when petitioners Leonora and her son Mario
executed the deed of sale in May 1980 in favor of Alberto, nor when the petitioners filed their
petition with the DARAB.

The Court agrees with the petitioners contention that, under Section 2(f), Rule II of the DARAB
Rules of Procedure, the DARAB has jurisdiction over cases involving the issuance, correction and
cancellation of CLOAs which were registered with the LRA. However, for the DARAB to have
jurisdiction in such cases, they must relate to an agrarian dispute between landowner and
tenants to whom CLOAs have been issued by the DAR Secretary. The cases involving the issuance,
correction and cancellation of the CLOAs by the DAR in the administrative implementation of
agrarian reform laws, rules and regulations to parties who are not agricultural tenants or lessees
are within the jurisdiction of the DAR and not of the DARAB.

In the present case, the DAR Secretary approved CLOA No. 51750 in the name of Alberto in the
exercise of his administrative powers and in the implementation of the agrarian reform laws. The
approval was based on the Report of the MARO, the Order of the PARO and the recommendation
of the DAR Director of the Bureau of Land Acquisition and Distribution, over whom the DAR
Secretary has supervision and control.

As held by this Court in Centeno vs. Centeno, the DAR is vested with the primary jurisdiction to
determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters and shall have the exclusive jurisdiction over
all matters involving the implementation of the agrarian reform program. The DARAB has
primary, original and appellate jurisdiction "to determine and adjudicate all agrarian disputes,
cases, controversies, and matters or incidents involving the implementation of the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program under R.A. 6657, E.O. Nos. 229, 228 and 129-A, R.A.
3844 as amended by R.A. 6389, P.D. No. 27 and other agrarian laws and their implementing rules
and regulations.

It bears stressing that in Section 1, Rule II of the DARAB Rules of Procedure, it is made clear that
matters involving strictly the administrative implementation of R.A. No. 6657,38 and other
agrarian reform laws and pertinent rules, shall be the exclusive prerogative of and cognizable by
the DAR Secretary. Indeed, under P.D. No. 27 and other agrarian reform laws (including R.A. No.
6657), the DAR Secretary is vested with the administrative authority to issue and correct or recall
the CLT issued under Section 24 of R.A. No. 6657. The DAR Secretary is vested with authority to
approve and execute CLOAs on which are based the TCT to be issued by the Register of Deeds.
The DARAB has no jurisdiction over the orders, resolutions, or other administrative circulars of
the DAR Secretary in the exercise of its administrative powers.

In fine then, the petitioners should have filed their petition against Alberto Cruz with the DAR
Secretary instead of the DARAB. For its part, the DARAB should have dismissed the petition for
lack of jurisdiction; or, at the very least, transferred the petition to the DAR Secretary for
resolution on its merits. In case the DAR Secretary denies their petition, the petitioners may
appeal to the Office of the President, and in case of an adverse ruling, a petition for review with
the CA under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

BOSTON EQUITY RESOURCES, INC. vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND LOLITA G. TOLEDO.
G.R. No. 173946 June 19, 2013

Facts:

On 24 December 1997, petitioner(Boston) filed a complaint for sum of money with a prayer
for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment against the spouses Manuel and Lolita
Toledo. Herein respondent (Lolita) filed an Answer dated 19 March 1998 but on 7 May 1998, she
filed a Motion for Leave to Admit Amended Answer in which she alleged, among others, that her
husband and co-defendant, Manuel Toledo (Manuel), is already dead.

The death certificate of Manuel states "13 July 1995" as the date of death. As a result, petitioner
filed a motion, dated 5 August 1999, to require
respondent to disclose the heirs of Manuel. In compliance with the verbal order of the court
during the 11 October 1999 hearing of the case, respondent submitted the required names and
addresses of the heirs. Petitioner then filed a Motion for Substitution, dated 18 January 2000,
praying that Manuel be substituted by his children as party-defendants which was granted by the
trial court in an Order dated 9
October 2000.

Pre-trial thereafter ensued and on 18 July 2001, the trial court issued its pre-trial order
containing, among others, the dates of hearing of the case. The trial of the case then proceeded.
Herein petitioner, as plaintiff, presented its evidence and its exhibits were thereafter admitted.
On 26 May 2004, the reception of evidence for herein respondent was cancelled upon agreement
of the parties. On 24 September 2004, counsel for herein respondent was given a period of fifteen
days within which to file a demurrer to evidence. However, on 7 October 2004, respondent
instead filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. The trial court, in an Order dated 8 November
2004, denied the motion to dismiss for having been filed out of time, citing Section 1, Rule 16 of
the 1997 Rules of Court which states that: "Within the time for but before filing the answer to
the complaint or pleading asserting a claim, a motion to dismiss may be made x x x. Respondents
motion for reconsideration of the order of denial was likewise denied on the ground that
"defendants attack on the jurisdiction of this Court is now barred by estoppel by laches" since
respondent failed to raise the issue despite several chances to do so. Aggrieved, respondent filed
a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals which the latter granted. The Court of Appeals
denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Thus, petitioner filed a petition for review on
certiorari before the SC.

1.) Did the RTC acquire jurisdiction over the deceased Manuel Toledo?

Jurisdiction over the person of a defendant is acquired through a valid service of summons; trial
court did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of Manuel Toledo.

In the first place, jurisdiction over the person of Manuel was never acquired by the trial court. A
defendant is informed of a case against him when he receives summons. "Summons is a writ by
which the defendant is notified of the action brought against him. Service of such writ is the
means by which the court acquires jurisdiction over his person."

2.) Was respondent estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC?

Yes. Petitioner calls attention to the fact that respondents motion to dismiss questioning the
trial courts jurisdiction was filed more than six years after her amended answer was filed.
According to petitioner, respondent had several opportunities, at various stages of the
proceedings, to assail the trial courts jurisdiction but never did so for six straight years. Citing
the doctrine laid down in the case of Tijam, et al. v. Sibonghanoy, et al. petitioner claimed that
respondents failure to raise the question of jurisdiction at an earlier stage bars her from later
questioning it, especially since she actively participated in the proceedings conducted by the trial
court.

Petitioners argument is misplaced, in that, it failed to consider that the concept of jurisdiction
has several aspects, namely: (1) jurisdiction over the subject matter; (2) jurisdiction over the
parties; (3) jurisdiction over the issues of the case; and (4) in cases involving property, jurisdiction
over the res or the thing which is the subject of the litigation.

The aspect of jurisdiction which may be barred from being assailed as a result of estoppel by
laches is jurisdiction over the subject matter. Here, what respondent was questioning in her
motion to dismiss before the trial court was that courts jurisdiction over the person of defendant
Manuel. Thus, the principle of estoppel by laches finds no application in this case.


3.) Was the estate of Manuel Toledo an indispensable party in the case?

No.An indispensable party is one who has such an interest in the controversy or subject matter
of a case that a final adjudication cannot be made in his or her absence, without injuring or
affecting that interest. He or she is a party who has not only an interest in the subject matter of
the controversy, but "an interest of such nature that a final decree cannot be made without
affecting that interest or leaving the controversy in such a condition that its final determination
may be wholly inconsistent with equity and good conscience. It has also been considered that an
indispensable party is a person in whose absence there cannot be a determination between the
parties already before the court which is effective, complete or equitable." Further, an
indispensable party is one who must be included in an action before it may properly proceed.

On the other hand, a "person is not an indispensable party if his interest in the controversy or
subject matter is separable from the interest of the other parties, so that it will not necessarily
be directly or injuriously affected by a decree which does complete justice between them. Also,
a person is not an indispensable party if his presence would merely permit complete relief
between him or her and those already parties to the action, or if he or she has no interest in the
subject matter of the action." It is not a sufficient reason to declare a person to be an
indispensable party simply because his or her presence will avoid multiple litigations.

Applying the foregoing pronouncements to the case at bar, it is clear that the estate of Manuel
is not an indispensable party to the collection case, for the simple reason that the obligation of
Manuel and his wife, respondent herein, is solidary. In other words, the collection case can
proceed and the demands of petitioner can be satisfied by respondent only, even without
impleading the estate of Manuel. Consequently, the estate of Manuel is not an indispensable
party to petitioners complaint for sum of money.

CABRERA vs LAPID

Facts:

The instant petition originated from a Complaint-Affidavit filed in November 1995 by petitioner
Amelia M. Cabrera with the Office of the Ombudsman. In her 3-page affidavit, petitioner accused
respondents of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 324
of the Revised Penal Code. In her Complaint-Affidavit, petitioner stated that she entered into a
lease agreement with the Municipality of Sasmuan over a tract of land for the purpose of
devoting it to fishpond operations. A month later, petitioner learned from newspaper reports of
the impending demolition of her fishpond as it was purportedly illegal and blocked the flow of
the Pasak River. Despite pleas from petitioner, respondents ordered the destruction of
petitioner's fishpond. The property was demolished by dynamite blasting.

Governor Lapid also argued that under the law, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is the
government agency authorized to enter into licensing agreements for fishpond operations, and
as per certification by the DA Regional Director, petitioner's fishpond operation was not covered
by a fishpond lease agreement or application. On May 1996, the Ombudsman issued the assailed
Resolution, dismissing petitioner's complaint. The dismissal was based on the declaration that
the fishpond was a nuisance per se and, thus, may be abated by respondents in the exercise of
the police power of the State. Petitioner sought reconsideration of the Resolution, arguing that
under Sec. 149 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code
of 1991, the exclusive authority to grant fishery privileges is vested in the municipalities. But the
Ombudsman affirmed its May 1996 Resolution. Thus, petitioner elevated the matter to the Court
via a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45.

Issue:

WON the filing of petitioner of the petition for review on certiorari to seek reversal of the
Resolution of the Ombudsman was correct

Held:

Where grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction taints the findings of
the Ombudsman on the existence of probable cause, the aggrieved party may file a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65. The remedy from resolutions of the Ombudsman in preliminary
investigations of criminal cases is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, not a petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45.

In this case, petitioner has taken the position that the Ombudsman has decided questions of
substance contrary to law and the applicable decisions of the Supreme Court. That is a ground
under a Rule 45 petition. Indeed, from a reading of the assignment of errors, it is clear that
petitioner does not impute grave abuse of discretion to the Ombudsman in issuing the assailed
Resolution and Order. Rather, she merely questions his findings and conclusions. As stated
earlier, direct appeal to the Supreme Court via a petition for review on certiorari is not sanctioned
by any rule of procedure. By availing of a wrong remedy, the petition should be dismissed
outright.
By grave abuse of discretion is meant capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must be grave abuse
of discretion as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of
passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of
a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation
of law.

Grave abuse of discretion should be differentiated from an error in judgment. An error of


judgment is one which the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction, and which error
is reversible only by an appeal. As long as the court acts within its jurisdiction, any alleged errors
committed in the exercise of its discretion will amount to nothing more than mere errors of
judgment, correctible by an appeal or a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
An error of jurisdiction is one where the act complained of was issued by the court without or in
excess of jurisdiction and which error is correctible only by the extraordinary writ of certiorari.

Absent any grave abuse of discretion tainting it, the courts will not interfere with the
Ombudsman's supervision and control over the preliminary investigation conducted by him. It is
beyond the ambit of this Court to review the exercise of discretion of the Ombudsman in
prosecuting or dismissing a complaint filed before it. The rule is based not only upon respect for
the investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the
Ombudsman but upon practicality as well.

MANUEL CATINDIG v AURORA IRENE VDA. DE MENESES

Facts:

The property subject of this controversy pertains to a parcel of land (Fishpond) situated in
Malolos, Bulacan, titled in the name of the late Rosendo Meneses, Sr. Respondent Aurora is the
surviving spouse of the registered owner, Rosendo Meneses, Sr. Respondent, as administratrix
of her husbands estate, filed a Complaint for Recovery of Possession, Sum of Money and
Damages against petitioners Manuel Catindig and Silvino Roxas, Sr., to recover possession over
the Fishpond.

Respondent alleged that Catindig, deprived her of the possession over the Fishpond, through
fraud, undue influence and intimidation. Since then, Catindig unlawfully leased the property to
petitioner Roxas. Despite demands from respondent, petitioners did not vacate the Fishpond.
Hence, respondent filed the suit against the petitioners to recover the property.


Petitioner Catindig maintained that he bought the Fishpond from respondent and her children,
as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale. He further argued that even assuming that respondent
was indeed divested of her possession of the Fishpond, her cause of action had already
prescribed considering the lapse of about 20 years from 1975, which was allegedly the year when
she was fraudulently deprived of her possession over the property. Petitioner Roxas asserted
that respondent has no cause of action against him, because Catindig is the lawful owner of the
Fishpond, to whom he had paid his rentals in advance.

RTC ruled in favor of respondent. CA affirmed the RTC decision.

Petitioner Roxas filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65.

Issue:

Whether or not the filing of petitioner Roxas of the Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 is
correct?

Held:

No. Petitioner Roxas assailed the Decision and the Resolution of the CA via Petition for Certiorari
under Rule 65, when the proper remedy should have been the filing of a Petition for Review on
Certiorari under Rule 45.

Roxas claims that the CA committed grave abuse of discretion. The Court finds that Roxas is
jointly and severally liable with petitioner Catindig and in not considering him as a lessee in good
faith of the subject property, such error amount to nothing more than error of judgment,
correctible by appeal. When a court, tribunal, or officer has jurisdiction over the person and the
subject matter of the dispute, the decision on all other questions arising in the case is an exercise
of that jurisdiction. Consequently, all errors committed in the exercise of said jurisdiction are
merely errors of judgment. Under prevailing procedural rules and jurisprudence, errors of
judgment are not proper subjects of a special civil action for certiorari.

Under Rule 45, decisions of the Court of Appeals in any case, i.e., regardless of the nature of the
action or proceedings involved, may be appealed to SC by filing a petition for review, which would
be but a continuation of the appellate process over the original case. On the other hand, a special
civil action under Rule 65 is an independent action based on the specific ground therein provided
and, as a general rule, cannot be availed of as a substitute for the lost remedy of an ordinary
appeal, including that to be taken under Rule 45. One of the requisites of certiorari is that there
be no available appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy. Where an appeal is available,
certiorari will not prosper, even if the ground is grave abuse of discretion.

In the present case, records show that petitioner Roxas received a copy of the May 20, 2005
Resolution of the CA denying the motion for reconsideration on May 30, 2005. Instead of filing a
petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 within 15 days from receipt, petitioner, in addition
to his several motions for extension, waited for almost four months before filing the instant
petition on September 22, 2005. The Decision and the Resolution of the CA, as to petitioner
Roxas, had by then already become final and executory, and thus, beyond the purview of this
Court to act upon.

It is settled that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and
may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous
conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made by the court that rendered it or by the
highest court of the land. When a decision becomes final and executory, the court loses
jurisdiction over the case and not even an appellate court will have the power to review the said
judgment. Otherwise, there will be no end to litigation and this will set to naught the main role
of courts of justice to assist in the enforcement of the rule of law and the maintenance of peace
and order by settling justifiable controversies with finality.

SUNTAY vs GOCOLAY
GR#144892 September 23, 2005

Facts:

Petitioners and private respondent were buyers of condominium units from Bayfront. Petitioners
paid in advance the full amount for their units. Bayfront, however, failed to deliver them despite
the due date stated in their contract to sell. Failing to get a reimbursement from Bayfront,
petitioners filed an action against it in the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, the decision
was ruled in favor of spouses Suntay. Bayfronts titled properties, including the subject
condominium Unit G and two parking slots in its name with Condominium Certificate of Title
(CCT) Nos. 15802 and 15813, were levied on by the sheriffs of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.
At the subsequent public auction of Bayfronts properties, petitioners were the highest bidders.
Certificates of sale were issued to spouses Suntay on March 1995. Private respondent Eugenia
Gocolay, chairperson and president of Keyser Mercantile Co., Inc. (Keyser), claims that she
entered into a contract to sell with Bayfront for the purchase on installment basis of the same
Unit G, among others. She completed her payments in 1991 but Bayfront executed the deed of
absolute sale and delivered CCT No. 15802 on November 1995 (the same CCT No. 15802 on which
were annotated the notice of levy and certificate of sale in favor of spouses Suntay). Gocolay filed
before the Expanded National Capital Regional Field Office of the HLURB a complaint for
annulment of auction sale and cancellation of notice of levy from her title. HLURB ruled in favor
of Gocolay, upon appeal to the CA upheld the decision and the same was dismissed the case for
lack of merit. Hence, the current petition.


Issue: Whether or not the HLURB, a quasi-judicial agency, have jurisdiction over an action seeking
the annulment of an auction sale, cancellation of notice of levy?

Held:

No, it does not have jurisdiction.

Petitioners were condominium buyers, not project/condominium owners, developers, dealers,


brokers or salesmen against whom a case cognizable by the HLURB could be brought. Obviously
the cause of action (unsound business practice) could not have referred to them since they were
mere buyers of a condominium unit, but only to Bayfront as developer of the project. It was
therefore error for Gocolay to include petitioners in HLURB case and for the HLURB to take
cognizance of the complaint. The HLURB had no jurisdiction over the issue of ownership,
possession or interest in the disputed condominium unit. BP 129 vests jurisdiction over these
matters on the RTC. The decision in HLRB Case No. REM-032196-9152 was in effect a
determination of the ownership of the condominium unit because it directed the annulment of
the execution sale in HLRB Case No. REM-102193-5625 on which petitioners title was based. This
was clearly incorrect.

The respective preambles of PD 957 and PD 1344 state the intention of the government to curb
the unscrupulous practices of project/condominium owners, developers, dealers, brokers or
salesmen in the real estate industry. These laws seek to protect hapless buyers victimized by
unprincipled realty developers. It was thus completely baseless for Gocolay to implead a real
estate buyer like herself before a body like the HLURB which had no authority to determine the
ownership of the subject condominium unit. The decision in HLRB Case No. REM-032196-9152 in
effect tried to nullify the judgment in HLRB Case No. REM-102193-5625. This is reprehensible and
smacks of either dishonesty or gross ignorance on the part of the lawyers involved. Any
controversy in the execution of a judgment should be referred to the tribunal which issued the
writ of execution since it has the inherent power to control its own processes to enforce its
judgments and orders. Courts of coequal and coordinate jurisdiction may not interfere with or
pass upon each others orders or processes, except in extreme situations authorized by law. The
HLURB arbiters who took cognizance of HLURB Case No. REM-032196-9152 clearly overstepped
their authority when they allowed the inclusion of petitioners as co-defendants of Bayfront in a
suit that actually sought to determine the liability of real estate developers under PD 957 and PD
1344.

For her part, Gocolay, who was not a party to HLRB Case No. REM-102192-5625, should have
resorted to judicial action to protect her interest in the contested properties. Instead, she
proceeded against the Suntays before a quasi-judicial body with no jurisdiction over their person
or the cause of action.


Vette Industrial Sales vs. Cheng

Facts:

Cheng filed an action for specific performance and damages against Vette Industrial Sales Co. for
breaching their obligation contained in the Memorandum of Agreement. Under the MOA, the
company acknowledged owing Cheng a sum of money as compensation for the shares he
transferred, insurance proceeds and signing bonus. In their answer with compulsory
counterclaim, Vette Industrial claimed that the shares have already been paid; that the MOA is
unenforceable and void. After failing to settle during mediation, the case was referred back to
the RTC.

On the day of the Pre-trial, Cheng and his counsel Atty. Ferrer failed to appear resulting to the
dismissal of the case. Cheng filed a motion for reconsideration. Vette Industrial claims that the
motion was procedurally defective because it was not served three days before the date of the
hearing and no proof of service was given to the court, in violation of Sections 4 and 6 of Rule 15.
The trial court granted the motion. Vette Industrial elevated the case to the CA. The ruling of the
trial court was vacated and Chengs complaint was dismissed without prejudice. Both parties
assailed the ruling before SC.

Issue:

Whether there was grave abuse of discretion of the trial judge when he granted the motion for
reconsideration filed by Cheng

Held:

The SC hold that there was none. The judge has the discretion whether or not to declare a party
non-suited. It is likewise, settled that the determination of whether or not an order of dismissal
issued under such conditions should be maintained or reconsidered rests upon the discretion of
the trial judge.

Grave abuse of discretion is defined as the capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. An error of judgment committed in the exercise of its legitimate
jurisdiction is not the same as grave abuse of discretion. An abuse of discretion is not sufficient
by itself to justify the issuance of a writ of certiorari. The abuse must be grave and patent, and it
must be shown that discretion was exercised arbitrarily and despotically.

Lack of jurisdiction and excess of jurisdiction are distinguished thus: the respondent acts without
jurisdiction if he does not have the legal power to determine the case; where the respondent,
being clothed with the power to determine the case, oversteps his authority as determined by
law, he is performing a function in excess of his jurisdiction.

Under Section 4 of Rule 18 of the Rules, the non-appearance of a party at the pre-trial may be
excused when there is a valid cause shown or when a representative shall appear in his behalf,
and is fully authorized in writing to enter into an amicable settlement, to submit to alternative
dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents.
Although Sui was absent during the pre-trial, Atty. Ferrer alleged that he was fully authorized to
represent Sui. Moreover, it is not entirely accurate to state that Atty. Ferrer was absent during
pre-trial because he was only late, the reasons for which he explained in his Manifestation and
Motion for Reconsideration.

It is held that the rules of procedures are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of
justice and must be relaxed if its strict and rigid application would frustrate rather than promote
substantial justice. Thus, the RTC lifted and set aside its order of dismissal in the interest of
substantial justice, which is the legal basis for the trial court to grant the motion for
reconsideration of Sui.

#10
Papunan v. DARAB (GR No. 132163; January 28, 2003)
Facts:
>July 21, 1981 Angelina Rodriguez waived her rights over the landholdings (which contain three
parcels of land) in favor of private respondent (Marcos Rodriguez) evidenced by the Sinumpaang
Salaysay made by the former.
>July 1988 private respondent obtained a loan from the petitioner (Graciano Papunan) for Php
50,000.00 and the formers landholdings were mortgaged.
-The loan agreement provided that the petitioner was allowed to possess and cultivate the land
for two years and/or until repayment of the debt.
>January 10, 1990 The Emancipation Patents which cover the said landholdings were issued to
Angelina Rodriguez even if she already waived her rights so on October 9, 1990 she waiver her
rights in favor of the petitioner for Php 55,000.00.
-The petitioner started constructing a house and warehouse on the lands.
>The private respondent filed a case for injunction before the Provincial Agrarian Reform
Adjudication Board.

Issue: What confers jurisdiction?

Case History:

Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (PARAD) August 26, 1991; ruled in favor of
private respondent and declared him the lawful-tenant beneficiary of the subject lands.
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) January 27, 1995; it affirmed the
decision of the PARAD.

Court of Appeals August 14, 1997; it ruled against the petitioner. It ruled that the private
respondent was the farmer-beneficiary after it was given to him by Angelina Rodriguez, so when
the latter executed a waiver of her rights in favor of the petitioner she no longer has rights over
the land, therefore the petitioner did not acquire the rights over the land. It also held that the
petitioner was only a mortgagee over the land.

Ruling:
>It is the law which confers jurisdiction and not the rules.
>It was ruled that jurisdiction over a subject matter is conferred by the Constitution or the law
and rules of procedure yield to substantive law.
In the present case it is wrong for the private respondent to argue that the public respondent
(DARAB) derives its jurisdiction from the DARAB Rules of Procedure because it derives its
jurisdiction from RA 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. PILAR ESTIPULAR, respondent. (July 20,2000)

Facts:

Pilar Estipular filed a Petition for Reconstitution of Title before the Regional Trial Court of La
Union. In her Petition for Reconstitution of Title, Estipular declared that she was the only legal
heir of the late Fermin Estipular and the Certificate of Title No. 154 was issued under her fathers
name. However, Said certificate was either destroyed or burned as a result of the burning of the
Register of Deeds of La Union during the last World War.

The Regional Trial Court ordered that a Notice of Hearing be published for two successive issues
of the Official Gazette and be posted at the main entrance of the Municipal Building at least 30
days prior to the date of hearing. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of RTC and held that
there was substantial compliance with the requirements of the law pertaining the publication
and posting of notice of hearing. The petitioner through its counsel, the OSG, filed a Petition for
Review on the contention that there was a failure to observe the requirements laid down in R.A.
26 in which the posting of notice required by law is both at the main entrance of the provincial
building and of the municipal building in which the land is situated. There was no issue as to the
publication matter, as it complied with by the respondent. Then petitioner submits the lone issue
for resolution that RTC did not acquire jurisdiction because of the failure to comply with the legal
requirement of posting the notice at the main entrance of both the municipal and provincial
building.

Issue:

Whether or not there was a substantial compliance with the requirements of the R.A 26 to confer
jurisdiction on the trial court.

Ruling:

The Trial Court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case and the requirements are mandatory
and compliance with them is jurisdictional.

It must be emphasized that under the law, the publication of a notice of hearing in the Official
Gazette is not enough. The posting of said notice at the main entrances of both the municipal
and the provincial building is another equally vital requisite. The purposes of the stringent and
mandatory character of the legal requirements of publication, posting and mailing are to
safeguard against spurious and unfounded land ownership claims, to apprise all interested
parties of the existence of such action, and to give them enough time to intervene in the
proceeding.

The publication of the Notice of Hearing in the Official Gazette does not justify the respondents
failure to comply with the legal requirement of posting the Notice at the main entrance
of both the municipal and the provincial buildings. The principle of substantial compliance cannot
be applied to the present case, as the trial courts acquisition of jurisdiction over the Petition
hinged on a strict compliance with the requirements of the law.

True, the root of this failure may be traced from the order of the trial court, which failed to
include a directive that the Notice of Hearing be posted at the main entrance of the provincial
building. However, this oversight cannot excuse noncompliance with the requirements of RA No.
26. Under the circumstances, it is clear that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the
case because of its own lapse, which respondent failed to cure.


CADIMAS v. CARRION

GR NO. 180394, 29 SEPTEMBER 2008

FACTS:

The instant petition stemmed from the complaint for accion reivindicatoria and damages filed by
petitioner Marjorie B. Cadimas, through her attorney-in-fact, Venancio Z. Rosales,
against respondents Marites Carrion and Gemma Hugo.

In the complaint, petitioner averred that she and respondent Carrion were parties to a Contract
To Sell dated 4 August 2003, wherein petitioner sold to respondent Carrion a town house located
at Lot 4-F-1-12 No. 23 Aster Street, West Fairview Park Subdivision, Quezon City for the sum
of P330,000.00 to be paid in installments. According to petitioner, Carrion had violated paragraph
8 of said contract when she transferred ownership of the property to respondent Hugo under
the guise of a special power of attorney, which authorized the latter to manage and administer
the property for and in behalf of respondent Carrion. Allegedly, petitioner asked respondent
Carrion in writing to explain the alleged violation but the latter ignored petitioners letter,
prompting petitioner to demand in writing that Carrion and Hugo vacate the property and to
cancel the contract.

On 28 October 2004, petitioner filed a Motion To Declare Defendant Marites Carrion In Default,
alleging that despite the service of summons and a copy of the complaint, respondent Carrion
failed to file a responsive pleading within the reglementary period.

Respondent Hugo filed a Motion To Dismiss on her behalf and on behalf of respondent Carrion
on18 November 2004, citing the grounds of lack of jurisdiction to hear the case on the part of the
RTC andestoppel and/or laches on the part of petitioner. Respondent Hugo argued that the
Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) has jurisdiction over the complaint because
ultimately, the sole issue to be resolved was whether petitioner, as the owner and developer of
the subdivision on which the subject property stood, was guilty of committing unsound real
estate business practices.

RTC- The RTC ruled that summons was served properly, thus, the court had acquired jurisdiction
over respondent Carrion. The RTC noted that respondent Hugos failure to disclose at the outset
that she was equipped with a special power of attorney was an act constitutive of misleading the
court. Thus, the RTC declared respondent Carrion in default, directed petitioner to present
evidenceex-parte against respondent Carrion, and respondent Hugo to file an answer.

CA- The Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision granting respondents petition for
certiorari. The appellate court set aside the assailed orders of the RTC and ordered the dismissal
of petitioners complaint for lack of jurisdiction. In its Resolution dated 9 November 2007, the
Court of Appeals denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.

ISSUE:

Whether the RTC has jurisdiction over the case.

RULING:

Essentially, petitioner argues that based on the allegations in the complaint and
the reliefs sought, the RTC has jurisdiction over the matter. In any case, the compulsory
counterclaim pleaded in the answer of respondents was an express recognition on their part of
the jurisdiction of the RTC over the complaint for accion reivindicatoria, petitioner adds.

The petition is meritorious.

The nature of an action and the jurisdiction of a tribunal are determined by the material
allegations of the complaint and the law at the time the action was commenced. Jurisdiction of
the tribunal over the subject matter or nature of an action is conferred only by law and not by
the consent or waiver upon a court which, otherwise, would have no jurisdiction over the subject
matter or nature of an action.

We agree with the ruling of the RTC that it has jurisdiction over the case based on the allegations
of the complaint. Nothing in the complaint or in the contract to sell suggests that petitioner is
the proper party to invoke the jurisdiction of the HLURB. There is nothing in the allegations in the
complaint or in the terms and conditions of the contract to sell that would suggest that the nature
of the controversy calls for the application of either P.D. No. 957 or P.D. No. 1344 insofar as the
extent of the powers and duties of the HLURB is concerned.

The complaint does not allege that petitioner is a subdivision lot buyer. The contract to sell does
not contain clauses which would indicate that petitioner has obligations in the capacity of a
subdivision lot developer, owner or broker or salesman or a person engaged in real estate
business. From the face of the complaint and the contract to sell, petitioner is an ordinary seller
of an interest in the subject property who is seeking redress for the alleged violation of the terms
of the contract to sell. Petitioners complaint alleged that a contract to sell over a townhouse was
entered into by and between petitioner and respondent Carrion and that the latter breached the
contract when Carrion transferred the same to respondent Hugo without petitioners consent.
Thus, petitioner sought the cancellation of the contract and the recovery of possession and
ownership of the town house. Clearly, the complaint is well within the jurisdiction of the RTC.
Padlan vs. Dinglasan

Facts:

Elenita was the owner of parcel of land with an aggregate area of 82,972 square meters. While
on board a jeepney, Elenitas mother, Lilia, had a conversation with Maura. Believing that Maura
was a real state agent, she borrowed the owners copy of the TCT from Elenita and gave it to
Maura. The latter then subdivided the property into several lots, from Lot No. 625-A to Lot No.
625-0, under the name of Elenita and her husband Felicisimo Dinglasan. Through falsified deed
of sale of the spouses, he was able to sell the lots to different buyer. Lot No. 625-K was sold to
Lorna, who later caused the issuance of TCT No. 134932 under her name then she sold it to Padlan
for Php 4,000 so new TCT was issued in the name of the latter. After Dinglasan learned what had
happened, it demanded to Padlan to surrender the possession of the subject Lot but the she
refused. So the spouses forced to file a case before the RTC.

Issue:

W/N the Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case.

CASE HISTORY:

RTC

Respondents moved to declare petitioner in default and prayed that they be allowed to present
evidence ex parte.

Petitioner, through counsel, filed an Opposition to Declare Dinglasan in Default with Motion to
Dismiss Case for Lack of Jurisdiction Over the Person of Defendant claimed that the court did not
acquire jurisdiction over her, because the summons was not validly served upon her person, but
only by means of substituted service through her mother.

RTC denied the motion finding that Padlan is a buyer in good faith hence the dismissal of the
complaint.

CA

Reversed the decision of RTC and ordered the cancellation of TCT issued in the name of Lorna
and Padlan. CA found that petitioner purchased the property in bad faith from Lorna. Petitioner
purchased the property in bad faith from Lorna.

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioner argued that not only did the
complaint lacks merit, the lower court failed to acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
case and the person of the petitioner. CA denied. The CA concluded that the rationale for the
exception made in the landmark case of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy was present in the case. It
reasoned that when the RTC denied petitioners motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction,
petitioner neither moved for a reconsideration of the order nor did she avail of any remedy
provided by the Rules. Instead, she kept silent and only became interested in the case again when
the CA rendered a decision adverse to her claim.

Ruling:

No. Since the amount alleged in the Complaint by respondents for the disputed lot is
only P4,000.00, the MTC and not the RTC has jurisdiction over the action. Therefore, all
proceedings in the RTC are null and void. What determines the jurisdiction of the court is the
nature of the action pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the complaint. The averments
therein and the character of the relief sought are the ones to be consulted.

RTC JURISDICTION: In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or
any interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty
Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of
lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial
Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.

MTC: Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real
property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein
does not exceed Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where
such assessed value does not exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest,
damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases
of land not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such property shall be determined by the
assessed value of the adjacent lots.

Delos Reyes vs. sps. Odones

FACTS:

Private Respondents spouses Francisco and Arwenia Odones filed a conplaint for annulment of
Deed, Title and Damages against Petitioners. They alleged that they are the owner of the 940
sqm land located at Camiling, Tarlac by virtue of Extrajudici Succession.

When they decided to register the lands they found out that the Original Certificate of Title
(OCT) was cancelled and replaced by Transfer of Certificate of Title (TCT) in the name of
petitioners, Delos Reyes on April 18, 1972.

The petitioners obtained TCT by virtue of Deed of Absolute Sale, and subdivided into 3titles.
Respondents sought the cancellation of the said 3 new titles on the grounds that the signature
of Donata Lardizabal and Francisco Razalan in Deed of Absolute Sale were forged for the reason
that they died June 30,1926 and June 5,1971, respectively.

Petitioner filed a MOTION FOR BILL OF PARTICULARS (clarifying the ambiguity in respondent's
claim) but was DENIED. They therefore answered and pleaded in affirmative defense on the
following grounds:
1. failure of the Respondent to state a cause of action, inasmuch as the basis of respondents
alleged title is void. And respondents are not the real party in interest to question the title of
petitioner for they do not transact to each other;

2. Non-adjoinder of the other heirs of Donata as indispensable parties;

3. Respondents' claim is barred by laches.

Respondents denied the allegations of petitioners and insisted that the Extrajudicial Succession
is valid.

Petitioner served upon the respondent a Request for Admission, in which respondent failed to
respond. As a result, the petitioner promtly file a Motion to set a Preliminary hearing, arguing
that the respondent's failure to respond/ object to the Request for Admission is amounted to
an implied admission (citing Sec 2, Rule 26, ROC).

RTC- denied the Motion. Petitioners moved for reconsideration but likewise denied by the
court.

Petitioner elevated the issue through Certiorari. Alleging grave abuse of discretion on part of
RTC.

CA- dismissed the petition. Petitioners again moved for reconsideration but thesame was
denied by the court.

ISSUES:

1. Whether respondents failure to respond to the Request for Admission amounted to an


implied admission & a preliminary hearing should therefore be conducted.

2. Whether the affirmative defense of non-joiner of indispensable parties is a ground for


dismissal of the action.

RULING:

SC- denied the Petition.


- citing Sec 1 (request for admission) & 2 (implied admission), Rule 26, Rules of Court.
As to the Request for Admission
- the respondents has already responded. There is redundancy when petitioner compels the
respondents to deny what has been already denied in the first instance.
- ineffectual, futile and irrelevant.

When the affirmative defence failed to state a cause of actio, a preliminary hearing is
unneccessary, erroneous and impovident.

In action foe annulment of title- complaint must contain ff allegations:


(1) The contested land was privately owned by the plaintiff prior to the issuance of the assailed
certificate of title to the defendant.
(2) Dependant perpetuated a fraud or commited mistake in obtaining a document of title over
the parcel of land claimed by plaintiff

Application of the Rules and determination of sanction upon the failure to comply rests on
judicial discretion.

The court may look at the validity of the extrajudicial succession of estate and sale and the
status of petitioner as predecessor in interest through;
=the merits of their repective claims and defenses.
=based on preponderence of the evidence in full-blown trial.

non-joiner of indispensable parties is not a ground for dismissal of an action.

declaration of heirship can be made only in special proceeding not in civil action.

Gustilo vs Gustilo III

FACTS:

Petitioner Mary Joy Anne Gustilo and respondent Jose Vicente Gustilo III are heirs of their natural
father, the late Atty. Armando Gustilo (they have different mothers), who owned several
properties and was, prior to his death, the president of A.G. Agro-Industrial Corporation (A.G.
Agro) in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. Petitioner Bonifacio Pea is Mary Joys attorney-in-fact
whom she authorized to exercise general control and supervision of her real properties. On
August 31, 1993, following their fathers death, Mary Joy and Jose Vicente entered into a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), adjudicating between themselves their fathers properties.
One of these was Hacienda Imelda which the MOA assigned to Mary Joy. As it happened,
however, the haciendas title remained in the name of A.G. Agro. Mary Joy immediately took
possession of the land through Mila Barco, her mother and natural guardian, and planted
sugarcane on it. Over three years later or in 1997 Jose Vicente, as president of A.G. Agro, leased
Hacienda Imelda and its farm implements to respondent Tita Sy Young for five agricultural crop
years from 1997-1998 to 2001-2002. Being financially hard up, Mary Joy and her mother were
pained to watch Young take over the land. When the lease contract was about to expire,
however, Mary Joy had her lawyer advise Young to surrender the land to her. But the latter
refused to yield possession and continued to cultivate the same for sugarcane.

ISSUE:

WoN Mary Joys action presents an intra-corporate dispute that belongs to the jurisdiction of a
specially designated commercial court.

HELD:

It is a basic rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations
in the complaint. It must be stated that regardless of the actual condition of the title to
the property, the party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by a strong
hand, violence or terror. Thus, a party who can prove prior possession, can recover such
possession even against the owner himself. Whatever may be the character of his prior
possession, if he has in his favor priority in time, he is entitled to remain on the property
until he is lawfully ejected by a person having a better right. Here, Jose Vicente and Young
mainly argued in their Motion to Dismiss that inasmuch as the subject property is in the
name of A.G. Agro, the nature of the claim or controversy is one of intra-corporate. The
Court has ruled in the past that an action to recover possession is a plenary action in an
ordinary civil proceeding to determine the better and legal right to possess,
independently of title.3 But where the parties raise the issue of ownership, as in this case,
the courts may pass upon such issue to determine who between the parties has the right
to possess the property. This adjudication, however, is not final and binding as regards
the issue of ownership; it is merely for the purpose of resolving the issue of possession
when it is inseparably connected to the issue of ownership. The adjudication on the issue
of ownership, being provisional, is not a bar to an action between the same parties
involving title to the property.4 Also, any intra-corporate issues that may be involved in
determining the real owner of the property may be threshed out in a separate proceeding
in the proper commercial court.

Sps. Villacastin vs Pelaez



Facts:

Respondent Paul Pelaez and his wife mortgaged their agricultural lands to the Development Bank
of the Philippines. For failure of the Pelaez spouses to pay their mortgage obligation, the
properties were foreclosed and subsequently sold at public auction.
The purported tenants of the property filed an action to annul the mortgage, foreclosure and
sale of the properties, claiming that they are the owners.
Petitioners filed a Complaint for Forcible Entry with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court against
respondent.

Respondent countered that he is the owner of the subject property. Respondent further claimed
that he had redeemed the property and accordingly reacquired possession.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator :
Rendered a decision in favor of the tenants.

DARAB:
This decision was affirmed by the DARAB.

MCTC:
MCTC rendered judgment in favor of petitioners and is hereby ordered to return to
plaintiffs possession of the parcel of land above-described and vacate the premises.

RTC:
The Regional Trial Court affirmed the MCTC decision.

CA:
The Court of Appeals, however, ruled that regular courts should respect the primary
jurisdiction vested upon the DARAB in cases involving agricultural lands such as the property
subject of this case. Accordingly, it set aside the decision rendered by the RTC and the MCTC, and
dismissed the complaint for forcible entry filed by petitioners in this case.

Issue:
W/N RTC and MTC have jurisdiction over the case

Ruling:
Yes.
Petitioners' action is clearly for the recovery of physical or material possession of the subject
property only, a question which both the MCTC and the RTC ruled petitioners are entitled to. It
does not involve the adjudication of an agrarian reform matter, nor an agrarian dispute falling
within the jurisdiction of the DARAB.

Courts have jurisdiction over possessory actions involving public or private agricultural lands to
determine the issue of physical possession as this issue is independent of the question of
disposition and alienation of such lands which should be threshed out in the DAR. Thus,
jurisdiction was rightfully exercised by the MCTC and the RTC.

The Decision of the Regional Trial affirming the decision of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court is
REINSTATED.

MEDICAL PLAZA MAKATI CONDO v CULLEN GR 181416 : Nov. 11, 2013

FACTS:

Respondent Robert H. Cullen purchased from Meridien Land Holding, Inc. (MLHI) a condominium Unit of
the Medical Plaza Makati. Petitioner demanded from respondent payment for alleged unpaid association
dues and assessments of P145,567.42. Respondent disputed this demand claiming that he had been
religiously paying his dues shown by the fact that he was previously elected president and director of
petitioner.

Petitioner claimed that respondents obligation was a carry-over of that of MLHI. Respondent was
prevented from exercising his right to vote and be voted for during the 2002 election of petitioners Board
of Directors. Respondent demanded from petitioner an explanation why he was considered a delinquent
payer despite the settlement of the obligation. Petitioner failed to make such explanation. Hence, the
Complaint for Damages filed by respondent against petitioner and MLHI.

Petitioner and MLHI filed their separate motions to dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction. MLHI claims that it is the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) which is vested
with the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide the case.

RTC granted both motions to dismiss and, consequently, dismissing respondents complaint. The trial
court agreed with MLHI that the action for specific performance filed by respondent clearly falls within
the exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB. As to petitioner, the court held that the complaint states no cause
of action, considering that respondents obligation had already been settled by MLHI. It, likewise, ruled
that the issues raised are intra-corporate between the corporation and member.

On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the trial courts decision and remanded the case to the RTC for
further proceedings. The CA held that the controversy is an ordinary civil action for damages which falls
within the jurisdiction of regular courts. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE:

Based on the allegations made by respondent in his complaint, does the controversy involve intra-
corporate issues as would fall within the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a special commercial court?

HELD:

Yes, the SC granted the petition and CA decision is reversed.

RATIO:
In determining whether a dispute constitutes an intra-corporate controversy, the Court uses two tests,
namely, the relationship test and the nature of the controversy test. Applying the two tests, the court
ruled that the case involves intra-corporate controversy. It obviously arose from the intra-corporate
relations between the parties, and the questions involved pertain to their rights and obligations under the
Corporation Code and matters relating to the regulation of the corporation.

This action partakes of the nature of an intra-corporate controversy, the jurisdiction over which pertains
to the SEC. Pursuant to Sec. 5.2 of RA 8799, otherwise known as the Securities Regulation Code, the
jurisdiction of the SEC over all cases enumerated under Sec 5 of PD 902-A has been transferred to RTCs
designated by this Court as Special Commercial Courts.

The nature of the action is determined by the body rather than the title of the complaint. While the CA
may be correct that the RTC has jurisdiction, the case should have been filed not with the regular court
but with the branch of the RTC designated as a special commercial court. Considering that the RTC of
Makati City, Branch 58 was not designated as a special commercial court, it was not vested with
jurisdiction over cases previously cognizable by the SEC.

DOCTRINE:

Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and determined by the allegations in the
complaint which comprise a concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiffs cause of
action. The nature of an action, as well as which court or body has jurisdiction over it, is determined based
on the allegations contained in the complaint of the plaintiff, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff
is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. The averments in the complaint and
the character of the relief sought are the ones to be consulted. Once vested by the allegations in the
complaint, jurisdiction also remains vested irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to
recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein.

TOMAS CLAUDIO MEMORIAL COLLEGE INC. VS. COURT OF APPEAL

GR NO. 124262, OCTOBER 12, 1999

FACTS:

The private respondents filed an action for Partition before the Regional Trial Court of Morong
Rizal. They alleged that their predecessor-in-interest, Juan De Castro died intestate and they are
the only surviving and legitimate heirs. They also alleged that their father also owned a parcel of
land with an area of two hundred sixty nine (2,269) square meters more or less. They further
claimed that in 1979, without their knowledge and consent, the said lot was sold by their brother
Mariano to petitioner. The sale was made possible when Mariano represented himself as a sole
heir to the property.
Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss contending that the RTC has no jurisdiction over the case. The
Trial Court dismissed the complaint. Petitioner again filed its own motion for reconsideration but
was also denied. Aggrieved, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeal a special civil action for
certiorari on the ground that a.) the trial court has no jurisdiction to try and take cognizance of
the case as the causes of action have been decided with finality by the Supreme Court, b.)the RTC
acted with grave abuse of discretion and authority in taking cognizance of the case. The CA
affirmed the decision of the RTC and finds that there is no grave abuse of discretion committed
by the lower court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Regional Trial Court and/or Court of Appeal had jurisdiction over the case,
and if so, whether or not the CA committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming the decision of
the RTC.

HELD:

According to the Supreme Court, there is no showing of grave abuse of discretion committed by
the public respondent. As correctly pointed out by the trial court, when it took cognizance of the
action for partition filed by the private respondents, it acquired jurisdiction over the subject
matter of the case. Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and is
determined by the allegations of the complaint irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to
all or some of the claims asserted therein. Also, according to the Supreme Court, acquiring
jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case does not necessarily mean that the lower court
meant to reverse the decision of the Supreme Court in the Land registration case mentioned by
the petitioner.

Settled is the rule that the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter is determined
by the allegation of the complaint, hence the courts jurisdiction cannot be made to depend upon
the defenses set up in the answer or in a motion to dismiss.

In addition, according to the Supreme Court, it is now too late for petitioner to question the
jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal. It was the petitioner who elevated the instant controversy to
the CA via petition for certiorari. In effect, petitioner submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the CA
by seeking affirmative relief therefrom. Lastly, according to the SC, if a party invokes the
jurisdiction of a court, he cannot thereafter challenge that courts jurisdiction in the same case.
To do otherwise would amount to speculating on fortune of litigation, which is against the policy
of the court.

Del Monte Philippines vs. Sangunay

G.R. 180013, Jan 31, 2011

Facts:

Del Monte Philippines Inc. Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative(DEARBC) filed
a complaint for Recovery of Possession and Specific Performance with Damage with the DARAB
Region 10 Office against several respondents, among whom were Jesus Sangunay (Sangunay) and
Sonny Labunos (Labunos) for a landholding located in Sankanan, Manolo Fortrich, Bukidnon
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. AO-3[Certificate of Land Ownership Award(CLOA)].
Said landholding was awarded to DEARBC under the Cooperative Agrarian Reform
Program(CARP). DEARBC leased a substantial portion of the land to Del Monte Philippines,
Inc.(DMPI) under

DEARBC claimed that both Sangunay and Labunos illegally entered portions of its property called
Field 34. Sangunay utilized approximately one and a half hectare where he planted corn, built
a house and resided from 1986 to the present. Labunos, on the other hand, tilled an area
approximately eight (8) hectares where he planted fruit trees, gmelina, mahogany and other
crops as a source of his livelihood. Both respondents refused to return the parcels of land
notwithstanding a demand to vacate them.

Issue:

Whether or not DARAB has jurisdiction over the case?

Case History:

DARAB Region 10 Office Ruling

The Adjudicator ruled in favor of DEARBC on the ground that the respondents failed to present
proof of ownership over the subject portions of the landholding. According to the Adjudicator,
their bare allegation of possession, even prior to the award of the land to DEARBC, did not suffice
as proof of ownership.


DARAB Central Office Ruling

The DARAB dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. It ruled that the issue of ownership of the
subject land classifies the controversy as a regular case falling within the jurisdiction of regular
courts and not as an agrarian dispute.

In the case at bar, petitioner-appellants wanted to recover x x the subject landholding on the
premise of ownership xxx. Defendants-appellants assail such allegations saying that the
landholdings are accrual deposits and maintaining their open, peaceful and adverse possession
over the same. Indubitably, there assertions and issues classify the present controversy as a
regular case. As such, clearly, this Board has no jurisdiction to rule upon the instant case.
Obviously, the dispute between the parties does not relate to any tenurial arrangement. Thus,
this Board has no jurisdiction over the same.

CA Ruling through a petition for review under Rule 43:

The CA dismissed the petition for procedural infirmities in its verification, certification and
attachments.

Held:

No. DARAB does not have jurisdiction over the case. It is the regular courts who has jurisdiction

Under Section 50 of R.A. No. 6657 and as held in a string of cases, "the DAR is vested with the
primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters and shall have the
exclusive jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of the agrarian reform
program." The DARAB was created, thru Executive Order No. 109-A, to assume the powers and
functions with respect to the adjudication of agrarian reform cases. Hence, all matters involving
the implementation of agrarian reform are within the DAR's primary, exclusive and original
jurisdiction. At the first instance, only the DARAB, as the DAR's quasi-judicial body, can determine
and adjudicate all agrarian disputes, cases, controversies, and matters or incidents involving the
implementation of the CARP.

An agrarian dispute refers to any controversy relating to tenurial arrangements, whether


leasehold, tenancy, stewardship, or otherwise, over lands devoted to agriculture, including
disputes concerning farmworkers' associations or representation of persons in negotiating,
fixing, maintaining, changing, or seeking to arrange terms or conditions of such tenurial
arrangements. It includes any controversy relating to compensation of lands acquired under this
Act and other terms and conditions of transfer of ownership from landowner to farmworkers,
tenants, and other agrarian reform beneficiaries, whether the disputants stand in the proximate
relation of farm operator and beneficiary, landowner and tenant, or lessor and lessee.

Verily, all that DEARBC prayed for was the ejectment of the respondents from the respective
portions of the subject lands they allegedly entered and occupied illegally. DEARBC avers that, as
the owner of the subject landholding, it was in prior physical possession of the property but was
deprived of it by respondents' intrusion.

Clearly, no "agrarian dispute" exists between the parties. The absence of tenurial arrangements,
whether leasehold, tenancy, stewardship or otherwise, cannot be overlooked. In this case, no
juridical tie of landownership and tenancy was alleged between DEARBC and Sangunay or
Labunos, which would so categorize the controversy as an agrarian dispute. In fact, the
respondents were contending for the ownership of the same parcels of land

This set of facts clearly comprises an action for recovery of possession. The claim of being farmer-
beneficiaries with right of retention will not divest the regular courts of jurisdiction, since the
pleas of the defendant in a case are immaterial.

Although the complaint filed by DEARBC was similarly denominated as one for recovery of
possession, it utterly lacks allegations to persuade the Court into ruling that the issue
encompasses an agrarian dispute.

DEARBC's argument that this case partakes of either a boundary dispute, correction of a CLOA,
and ouster of an interloper or intruder, as found under Section 1, Rule 11 of the 2003 DARAB
Rules of Procedure is unavailing. Nowhere in the complaint was the correction or cancellation of
the CLOA prayed for, much less mentioned. DEARBC merely asserted its sole ownership of the
awarded land and no boundary dispute was even hinted at.

Sps. Javellana vs. Presiding Judge, RTC Manila 139067 Nov 23, 2004
Jurisdiction over the subject matter


FACTS:


Respondent filed before the RTC of Manila, a complaint for accion publiciana and sum of money
against petitioners. Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the trial court has no
jurisdiction over the case. Petitioners submit that the subject property is a subdivision lot as
expressly stipulated in their Contract to Sell, hence it is cognizable by the Housing and Land Use
Regulatory Board (HLURB). The trial court denied petitioners motion to dismiss.
A reading of the complaint does not show that the subject lot was a subdivision lot which would
fall under the jurisdiction of the HLURB.


ISSUE:
Whether the subject matter of the case falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB.


RULING:


No. It is a settled rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations
in the complaint. Jurisdiction is not affected by the pleas or the theories set up by the defendant
in an answer or a motion to dismiss. Otherwise, jurisdiction would become dependent almost
entirely upon the whims of the defendant.
The use of the phrase "regular subdivision project" (in the complaint) does not automatically
make the instant case fall under the jurisdiction of the HLURB. What appears from the complaint
was the fact that the subject lot was sold to petitioners in an ordinary sale of a lot on installment
basis; that petitioners allegedly defaulted in the payment of their monthly installments for which
reason respondent seeks to recover possession thereof. Thus, the trial court has jurisdiction over
the case.

Dionisio vs Sioson

Facts

Plaintiff filed a complaint for recovery. Defendants admitted their indebtedness in their answer
but claimed that plaintiff had charged usurious interest. Plaintiff, denied the allegation of usury
although such pleading was not made under oath. Defendants filed a Manifestation and Motion
claiming that plaintiff's failure to deny under oath the allegation of usurious interest as raised in
their affirmative defense would warrant the dismissal of the case if it had been raised in a Motion
to dismiss.

Defendants failed to appear although they were duly served with notice and the trial court
declared them in default upon plaintiff's motion and directed the clerk to receive plaintiff's
evidence.

Trial court rendered judgement in favour of the plaintiff.


Issue

1. Where a motion for preliminary hearing has been filed and requested set for hearing
"immediately" (without the reglementary 3-day period) which happened to be on the
same day set for pre-trial at which neither defendants nor their counsel were present
despite notice, was it proper for the court to declare the defendants in default, and allow
plaintiff to present his evidence ex parte?
2. Considering that plaintiff's reply denying defendants' charge of usury was not under oath;
should the court a quo not have dismissed the case outright?

Ruling

1. No error was committed by the trial court in declaring defendants in default for their failure to
appear at the pre-trial despite due notice. The trial court's action is expressly authorized under
Rule 20, section 2 which provides that "A party who fails to appear at a pre-trial conference may
be non-suited or considered as in default."

2. Defendants' second assignment of error that the trial court should have dismissed the case
outright, on the ground that plaintiff's reply denying their charge of usury was not under oath, is
untenable.

The rule that "Allegations of usury are deemed admitted if not denied specifically and under
oath is a procedural rule, and the lack of oath in a pleading is a defect which is subject to waiver
just as a defective or imperfect verification may be waived.