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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED IN PART. The July 12, 2012 Decision and the October 10, 2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 93939 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the award for attorney’s fees in favor of respondents-spouses Ernesto and Flora Sotelo is DELETED..

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

A PROPERTY WAS MADE COLLATERAL TO SECURE A LOAN OF P140,000.00. THE MARKET VALUE OF THE PROPERTY WAS P1,750,000.00. THE DOCUMENT EXECUTED WAS A DEED OF SALE. THE CREDITOR THEN CAUSED THE ISSUANCE OF NEW TITLE IN HIS NAME.  THE SUPREME COURT DECLARED THE TRANSACTION AS EQUITABLE MORTGAGE. THE NEW TITLE IS VOID.

As the transaction between the parties herein was demonstrated to be one of equitable mortgage, petitioner did not become owner of the subject property but a mere mortgagee thereof. As such, petitioner was bound by the prohibition against pactum commissorium as embodied in Article 2088 of the Civil Code:

Art. 2088. The creditor cannot appropriate the things given by way of pledge or mortgage, or dispose of them. Any stipulation to the contrary is null and void.

The mortgagee’s consolidation of ownership over the mortgaged property upon the mortgagor’s mere failure to pay the obligation is the essence of pactum commissorium. 36 The mortgagor’s default does not operate to automatically vest on the mortgagee the ownership  of the encumbered property. This Court has repeatedly declared such arrangements as contrary to morals and public policy and thus void.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated February 14, 2019 and Resolution dated July 10, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 158220, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner RODRIGO A. UPOD is declared ILLEGALLY DISMISSED and respondent ONON TRUCKING AND MARKETING CORPORATION is ORDERED to PAY him:

1) BACKWAGES reckoned from February 2017 until finality of this Decision;

2) SEPARATION PAY equivalent to one (1) month salary for every year of service reckoned from 2014 until finality of this Decision;

3) 13th MONTH PAY limited to three (3) years prior to the filing of the complaint; and

4) Ten percent (10%) ATTORNEY’S FEES. These monetary awards shall earn six percent (6%) legal interest per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

THE PETITIONER WAS PAID 16% OF GROSS REVENUES PER TRIP AND NOT PER DAY OR PER TIME BASIS. IS HE A REGULAR EMPLOYEE.

YES. SALARY ON A PER TRIP BASIS IS SIMPLY A METHOD OF COMPUTING COMPENSATION.

Two. Respondent cornp,i ny paid petitioner 16% of gross revenues per trip. The fact that petitioner ‘Nas paiJ on per trip basis does not negate the existence of an employer-employee re lationship; for the same is simply a method for computing compensalinn. One may be paid on the basis of results or time expended on the work, and may or may not acquire an employment.

PETITIONER’S SERVICES WERE SOUGHT ONLY IF THERE ARE TRIPS TO BE MADE. HE HAS BEEN WITH THE COMPANY FOR 8 YEARS. IS HE A REGULAR EMPLOYEE?

YES. BECAUSE HE HAS RENDERED AT LEAST ONE YEAR OF SERVICE WHICH MAY BE CONTINUOUS OR BROKEN.

A regular employee, therefore, is one who is either ( i) engaged to perform activities which are necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer; or (2) a casual employee who has rendered at least one ( l ) year of service, whether continuous or broken, with respect to the activity in which he or she is employed. 27

As an entjt.y engaged in the wholesale and retail of various products, respondent company must neci-~•;s.1rily engage the servic0s of delivery drivers, such as heri::.in peti6oner, for the p .!n:iose ,”}f getting its products delivered to its clients. To be S!,lre, since pi::!itioqer had perfon11ed nets necessary and desirable to respondent compa:1~/ s b usiness and trade for more than a year, his status had alre~dy ripened tG a regular employment.

THE EMPLOYER MERELY STOPPED GIVING WORK ASSIGNMENT TO PETITIONER. WILL THIS CONSTITUTE ILLEGAL DISMISSAL.

YES. SINCE THE EMPLOYER ADMITTED THAT IT STOPPED GIVING WORK ASSIGNMENT TO PETITIONER, THE LATTER NEED NOT PROVE HIS ILLEGAL DISMISSAL.

To be valid, petitioner’s dismissal should have been for just or authorized causes and only upon compliance with procedural due process. As it was, respondent company complied with neither conditions in effecting petitioner’s dismissal. It just abruptly stopped giving delivery assigmnent to petitioner in February 2017. Petitioner need not even prove the fact of his dismissal in view of respondent company’s admission that it stopped giving assignment to petitioner because allegedly, his contract already expired.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated January 28, 2019 and September 17, 2019 in CA-G.R. SP. No. 158342 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The Judgment dated September 12, 2018 and the concomitant orders of the Regional Trial Court-Branch 24, Naga City in Criminal Case No. 2016- 0935 are VOID for having been issued in grave abuse of discretion. The trial court is ORDERED to proceed with the criminal case against respondent Noel Sabater y Ulan with utmost dispatch.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE ACCUSED WANTED TO PLEA TO A LESSER OFFENSE (SECTION 12 IN LIEU OF SECTION 5 OF THE PROHIBITED DRUG LAW). PROSECUTOR OBJECTED. BUT COURT APPROVED THE PLEA. SUPREME COURT SAID THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. IT MUST NOT APPROVE PLEA BARGAINING IF ALL PARTIES DO NOT AGREE.

Where the prosecution withholds its consent, the trial court cannot proceed to approve a plea bargain. There is no meeting of the minds, hence, there can be no plea bargaining “agreement” to speak of. Should the trial court nevertheless approve the plea bargain over the prosecution’s objection, it would be doing so in grave abuse of discretion. Justice Zalameda further explained:

In choosing to respect the prosecution’s discretion to give or withhold consent, the Court is not surrende1ing any of its powers. Instead, it is an exercise of sound judicial restraint. Courts cannot forcefully insist upon any of the parties to plead in accordance with the Plea Bargaining Framework. To emphasize, when there is no unanimity between the prosecution and the defense, there is also no plea bargaining agreement to speak of. If a party refuses to enter a plea in conformity with the Plea Bargaining Framework, a court commits grave abuse of discretion should it unduly impose its will on the parties by approving a plea bargain and issuing a conviction based on the framework.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The August 11, 2015 Decision and January 19, 2016 Resolution of the Court of Tax Appeals En Banc in CTA EB No. 1139 are hereby AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

BIR ASSESSED YUMEX PHILIPPINES FOR IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED EARNINGS TAX (IAET). SUPREME COURT SAID THIS IS WRONG BECAUSE BIR DID NOT FIRST ESTABLISH PRIMA FACIE WHY IT DEEMED SUCH EARNINGS AS IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED. BIR SHOULD EXPRESSLY DESCRIBE ANY OF THE PRIMA FACIE INSTANCES OF IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED EARNINGS.

The BIR simply assessed respondent for IAET by imposing the ten percent (10%) IAET tax rate on all of the latter’s income from registered activities enjoying ITH without first establishing prima facie why it deemed such income as improperly accumulated. Respondent is clearly not a holding or investment company; and nowhere in the PAN, Details of Discrepancies, or the FLD/F AN did the BIR expressly describe any of the prima facie instances of improperly accumulated earnings and profits.

For its part, respondent was able to prove that it had accumulated its earnings from previous years for a reasonable business purpose. Respondent needed funds for a new project, i.e., the manufacture of Heat Run Oven[1]Controlled Rack, which started commercial operations in June 2007 and was also duly registered with the PEZA. Respondent had to acquire new machinery and equipment as well as a separate exclusive building space for the project. Petitioner did not cross-examine respondent’s witness on this matter or present evidence to refute that respondent’s accumulated income was actually for a reasonable need in its business operations.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated 01 June 2018 rendered by the Court of Appeals, Division of Five, and Resolution dated 26 February 2019 rendered by the Court of Appeals, Special Division of Five, Special Former Third Division, in CA-G.R. SP No. 150941 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the Decision dated 21 October 2016 of Branch 95, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, as well as all issuances rendered pursuant thereto, are declared NULL and VOID.

The case is hereby REMANDED to Branch 95, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for further proceedings. The presiding judge of the said court is mandated to issue anew the required summons to petitioner corporation and proceed with the trial of the case with dispatch.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT IS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION?

Grave abuse of discretion means such capnc10us or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave, as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and the abuse must be so patent and 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, as to be equivalent to having acted without jurisdiction. 105

WHY WAS THERE GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN THIS CASE?

THE CASE WAS ONLY FOR SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE FOR PAYMENT OF CGT AND DST AND TURN OVER OF POSSESSION OF SUBJECT PROPERTY. YET THE WRIT OF EXECUTION DIRECTED THE CANCELLATION OF DERIVATIVE TITLES EMANATING FROM TCT NO 185260 AND ISSUANCE OF NEW TITLE IN NAME OF RESPONDENT. ALSO SUMMONS WAS ALLOWED BY PUBLICATION LEADING TO DEFAULT OF PETITIONER.

If only to emphasize the gravity of the abuse of discretion committed, petitioner corporation was stripped of, not only the possession of the subject property, but likewise, title thereto. To reiterate, the writ of execution included the cancellation of its derivative titles emanating from TCT No. 185260 and the issuance of a new title in the name of respondent. This, despite the fact that the case is simply one for specific performance for the payment of CGT and DST and the turn over of possession of the subject property.

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The manifest abuse of discretion exhibited by Judge Bellosillo in allowing the service of summons through publication,. which led to the issuance of judgment of default against petitioner corporation and in expanding the dispositive portion of the Decision dated 16 October 2016 by issuing a writ of execution containing terms neither appearing in said decision nor in the complaint for specific performance, must not be countenanced. Moreso, the wanton disregard of basic procedural requirements led to the deprivation of due process of law on the part of petitioner corporation.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated August 16, 2019 and the Resolution dated August 24, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 41782 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, petitioner Joel David y Mangio is ACQUITTED of the crime charged. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to: (a) cause the immediate release of petitioner, unless heis being lawfully held in custody for any other reason; and (b) inform the Court of the action taken within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision.

 Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

IN CASE THERE IS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY PROCEDURE THE PROSECUTOR MUST PROVE THAT THE APPREHENDING OFFICERS EXERTED GENUINE AND SUFFICIENT EFFORTS TO SECURE THE PRESENCE OF THE REQUIRED WITNESSES.

As a general rule, compliance with the chain of custody procedure is strictly enjoined as the same has been regarded “not merely as a procedural technicality but as a matter of substantive law.”28 Nonetheless, anent the witness requirement, non-compliance may be permitted if the prosecution proves that the apprehending officers exerted genuine and sufficient efforts to secure the presence of such witnesses, albeit they eventually failed to appear. While the earnestness of these efforts must be examined on a case-to-case basis, the overarching objective is for the Court to be convinced that the failure to comply was reasonable under the given· circumstances.29 Thus, mere statements of unavailability, absent actual serious attempts to contact the required witnesses, are unacceptable as justified grounds for non[1]compliance. 30 These considerations arise from the fact that police officers are ordinarily given sufficient time – beginning from the moment they have received the information about the activities of the accused until the time of his arrest – to prepare for a buy-bust operation, and consequently, make the necessary arrangements beforehand, knowing fully well that they would have to strictly comply with the chain of custody rule. 31

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IN THIS CASE PO3 FLORES DID NOT OFFER ANY JUSTIFICATION FOR THE EVENTUAL ABSENCE OF A DOJ REPRESENTATIVE.

However, as earlier stated, it is incumbent upon the prosecution to account for these witnesses’ absence by presenting a justifiable reason therefor or, at the very least, by showing thaf genuine and sufficient efforts were exerted by the apprehending officers to secure their presence. Here, while PO3 Flores did attempt to secure all three witnesses, he did not offer any justification for the eventual absence of the DOJ representative, much less any explanation or detail as to the exact efforts exerted to secure their presence. In view of this unjustified deviatio1:1 from the chain of custody rule, the Court is therefore constrained to conclude that the integrity and evidentiary value of the item purportedly seized from David were compromised, which consequently warrants his acquittal.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is GRANTED. The March 22, 2017 Decision and the August 16, 201 7 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CR No. 02397, which affirmed the July 23, 2012 Joint-Decision of the Regional Trial Court, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Virgilio Evardo y Lopena is ACQUITTED of the charges of violating Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

For their information, copies of this Decision shall be furnished to the Police General of the Philippine National Police and the Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Regional Trial Court is directed to tum over the seized sachets of shabu to the Dangerous Drugs Board for destruction in accordance with law.

Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

IN THIS CASE THE ARRESTING OFFICERS’ SEARCH AND SUBSEQUENT SEIZURE WERE HELD INVALID. THUS, THE CONFISCATED DRUGS CANNOT BE USED AS EVIDENCE. WITHOUT EVIDENCE THE CASE HAS TO BE DISMISSED.

In cases involving drugs, the confiscated article constitutes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. Under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, the essence of the crime is the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of prohibited drugs, and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals. The act of transporting the drugs, as in this case, must be duly proven by the prosecution, along with how a particular person is the perpetrator of that act. The seized drug, then, becomes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. The entire case of the prosecution revolves around that material.

In drugs cases where the allegedly confiscated drug is excluded from admissible evidence – as when it was acquired through an invalid warrantless search – the prosecution is left without proof of corpus delicti. Any discussion on whether a crime has been committed becomes an exercise in futility. Acquittal is then inexorable.

Thus, here, the arresting officers’ search and subsequent seizure are invalid. As such, the two (2) sacks of marijuana supposedly being transported in the pickup cannot be admitted in evidence.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the pet1t10n is GRANTED. The Decision dated September 27, 2018 and the Resolution dated January 14, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 09323 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The charge against Noel T. Jaspe, Ma. Negenia V. Araneta and Sanny Apuang for Grave Misconduct in OMB-V-A-13-0170 is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

HOW WILL COLLUSION BE PROVEN?

BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE. 

On this score, Desierto v. Ocampo28 pronounced that the complainant charging collusion must prove it by clear-and convincing evidence, thus:

Collusion implies 2 secret understanding whereby one party plays into another’s hands for fraudulent purposes. It may take place between anci every contractor resulting in no competition, in which case, the government may declare a failure of bidding. Collusion may also ensue between contractors and the chairman and members of the PBAC to simulate or rig the bid.ding process, thus insuring the award to a favored bidder, to the-prejudice of the government agency anc! public ser•;ice. for such acts of the chairman and the members of the PBAC, they may be held administratively liable for conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the government service. Collusion by and among the members of the PBAC and/or contractors submitting their bids may be determined from their collective acts or omissions before, during and after the bidding process. The complainants are burdened to prove such coll us-ion by clear and convincing evidence because if so proved, the responsible officials may be dismissed from the government service or meted severe administrative sanctions for dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the government service.29 (Emphasis ours)

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WHAT IS GRAVE MISCONDUCT?

Grave misconduct is defined as the “wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premedi.tated, obstinate or intentional purpose.” It is not mere failure to comply with the law. Failure to comply must be deliberate and must be done in order to secure benefits for the offender •-r for some other person. 31

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WHAT EVIDENCE IS NEEDED TO PROVE MISCONDUCT?

COMPETENT EVIDENCE DERIVED FROM DIRECT KNOWLEDGE. NOT MERE ALLEGATIONS.

For a ~harge of grave _miscpnduct or any grave offense to prosper, therefore, the evidence against the respondent should be competent and must be derived from direct knowledge. Reliance on mere allegations, conjectures and suppositions, as in this case, vvarrants the dismissal of the charge.32 So must it be.

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SOME ACCUSED DID NOT APPEAL. WILL RESULT OF APPEAL EXONERATE THEM ALSO?

YES.

Notably, only petitioners Jaspe and Araneta actively · sought the reversal of the finding of grave misconduct in connection with the discharge of their function as BAC members. Nonetheless, the dismissal of the charge against petitioners should benefit Apuang, another BAC member, even if he did not join Jaspe and Araneta here, nor appealed on his own.

In Tropical Homes, Inc. v. Fortun,33 the Court held that the reversal of the judgment on appeal is binding only on the paiiies to the appealed case and does not affect or inure to the benefit of those who did not join or were not parties to the appeal except when there is a communality of interests where the rights and liabilities of the parties appealing are so interwoven and dependent on each other as to be inseparable, in which case 3. reversal as to one operates as a reversal to all. To be sure, there is communality of interests among J aspe, et al. as their alleged liabilities arose out of their collegial decision in the same proceeding of which they serve as BAC members. Hence, the reversal of petitioners’ liability also operates as a reversal.of Apuang’s liability although he did not appeal therefrom.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals’ February 25, 2010 Decision and April 6, 201] Resolution in CA-G.R. CV No. 90303 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The May 9, 2007 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Parafiaque City, Branch 260, in Civil Cases 01-0228 and 03-0384 is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

NOTE: “MARRIED TO” ONLY REFERS TO THE CIVIL STATUS OF THE PROPERTY’S REGISTERED OWNER. THE HUSBAND  CANNOT BE DEEMED TO HAVE CONTRIBUTED JOINTLY IN ACQUIRING THE FUNDS SINCE HE DID NOT CARE FOR AND MAINTAIN THE FAMILY AND THE HOUSEHOLD.

In this case, there is proof that the Parafiaque lot was not obtained by Mario and Rosanna’s joint efforts, work, or industry. Rita M. Tan, Rosanna’s aunt, donated the 315-square meter lot to Rosanna and her father, Rodolfo M. Tan. The Deed ofDonation331 dated August 25, 1998 provides that Rita M. Tan donated 157.50 square meters to “Rodolfo M. Tan, married to Josefina G. Leafio”332 and to “Rosanna L. Tan-Anda!, married to Mario Andal”333 each. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 139811 covering 157.50 square meters of the Parafiaque lot is under the name of “Rosanna L. Tan[1]Andal, of legal age, Filipino, married to Mario Andal.”334 In Salas, Jr. v. Aguila,335 this Court held that “married to” only refers to the civil status of the property’s registered owner.336 Thus, Rosanna exclusively owns half of the 315-square meter Parafiaque lot. Mario has no share in this property because he did not care for and maintain the family and the household.

As for the half of the duplex house that served as the parties’ family f home, there is evidence that the funds used to construct the house were obtained solely through Rosanna and her father’s efforts. In a promissory note337 dated July 13, 1998, Rosanna and her father jointly loaned P2,400,000.00 from the Elena P. Tan Foundation for the construction of a house on the Parafiaque lot. Although Mario signed the promissory note to give “marital consent” to Rosanna, he has no proof that he participated in acquiring the funds. He cannot be deemed to have contributed jointly in acquiring the funds since he did not care for and maintain the family and the household.

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IN DECIDING CASES INVOLVING CUSTODY OF A MINOR WHAT MUST THE COURT CONSIDER?

AMONG OTHERS, “THE PREVIOUS CARE AND DEVOTION SHOWN BY EACH OF THE PARENTS; THEIR RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND, MORAL UPRIGHTNESS, HOME ENVIRONMENT AND TIME AVAILABILITY.

In Pablo-Gualberto v. Gualberto,339 this Court held that the “separation of parents” contemplated in Article 213 may either be legal separation or separation in fact. 340 In deciding cases involving custody of a minor, the courts must consider, among others, “the previous care and devotion shown by each of the parents; their religious background, moral uprightness, home environment and time availability; [ and] the [child’s] emotional and educational needs.”341 Here, Mario and Rosanna have been separated in fact since 2000. Between them, Rosanna showed greater care and devotion to Ma. Samantha. Even when they still lived together, Rosanna had been more available to her child. She raised Ma. Samantha on her own since she and Mario separated. Mario has not supported both mother and child since he separated from 0 Rosanna, even after he had claimed that he has been living “drug-free.”

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NOTE: MARRIAGE REMAINS AN INSTITUTION DESIGNED TO PROVIDE LEGAL AND PUBLIC RECOGNITION.

Marriage is not compulsory when in love; neither does it create love. Nonetheless, it remains an institution designed to provide legal and public recognition that may be well deserved not only for the couple, but also for their families existing or yet to come.

To be clear, our collective hope is that one who chooses marriage realizes that the other deserves more caring, more compassion, more kindness in the daily and banal grind of their relationship. It is in these same values of sacrifice and empathy that we will have the chance to evolve into a society that is more humane and, eventually, more just.

Yet, we are not blind to the reality that a person may be truly psychologically incapable for the other from the beginning. Should there be grave need to part for the reasons we have stated, courts can lead the way to make parting less bitter, minimize animosity, and make lives more forward- / looking for those most affected.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby PARTIALLY GRANTED. Accordingly, the Decision dated October 28, 2016 of the Court of Appeals, Sixth Division, in CA-G.R. SP No. 145753 is PARTIALLY REVERSED with respect to Ross Systems International, Inc.’ s entitlement to the amount of Pl,088,214.83. The Construction Industry Arbitration Commission’s Final Award dated May 10, 2016 is hereby REINSTATED with MODIFICATION, in that Global Medical Center of Laguna, Inc. is further ORDERED to furnish Ross Systems International, Inc. with the pertinent BIR Form 2307, in compliance with Section 2.57.3, Revenue Regulation No. 2-98.

Furthermore, the new ruling of the Court with respect to the modes of judicial review of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission arbitral awards is accorded PROSPECTIVE application and does not apply to appeals therefrom that are currently pending before the Court of Appeals.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE SUPREME COURT OBSERVES THAT CA MISAPPLIED ITS APPELLATE FUNCTION WHEN IT DELVED INTO SETTLING THE FACTUAL MATTERS AND MODIFIED THE MATHEMATICAL COMPUTATION OF THE CIAC.

Further, even without applying to the instant case the foregoing considerations on the history of judicial review vis-a-vis CIAC awards, the Court nevertheless chiefly observes that the CA misapplied its appellate function when it delved into settling the factual matters and modified the mathematical computation of the CIAC with respect to the presence or absence of an outstanding balance payable to RSII. This mathematical re[1]computation is an error not because the new ruling on judicial review of CIAC awards is applicable to this case (as it applies prospectively) but because the amounts reimbursable to RSII were not specifically raised by the RSII as an issue in its Rule 43 petition before the CA, since the issues raised before it were confined to the release of the amount deducted by GMCLI from its Progress Billing No. 15 to cover the CWT of 2% on payments for the first 14 Progress Billings. 177

WHAT IS THE RATIONALE BEHIND ARBITRATION MODES?

ARBITRATION ALLOW PARTIES SPACE TO EXERCISE VOLUNTARY AUTONOMY UNDER THE PRINCIPLE OF EXPEDITED CONFLICT RESOLUTION WHICH MEANS QUICKEST AND MOST CONCLUSIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION. COURTS MUST STAY THEIR OWN HANDS.

WHY IS THIS PRINCIPLE MOST RELEVANT TO CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?

BECAUSE OF THE INDUSTRY’S  INHERENTLY COMPLEX DYNAMICS AND WITH STAKES THAT INVOLVE NATIONAL INTERESTS LIKE PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE AND SAFETY.

It has been said that earlier forms of arbitration predated laws and organized courts, 185 and that contrary to the notion that arbitration modes are novel and untested, they are actually the courts’ “next-of-kin”, 186 perhaps even their progenitors. Along the same vein, the ability of a society to empower alternative modes of dispute resolution is a hallmark of a democracy, 187 with courts exercising their ability to stay their own hands, thereby allowing space for the parties to a dispute to exercise their voluntary autonomy in the name and under the principle of expedited conflict resolutions. This need to enable the quickest and most conclusive conflict resolution possible finds exacting relevance in the case of the construction industry, with its inherently complex dynamics, and with the stakes that involve national interests, not in the least of which are public infrastructure and safety.

HOW DOES SUPREME COURT LOOK NOW AT CIAC?

CIAC IS A QUASI-JUDICIAL AGENCY AT PAR WITH OTHER COMMERCIAL TRIBUNALS WITH THEIR CHARACTERISTIC SPEED, SUBJECT MATTER AUTHORITATIVENESS AND OVERALL AUTONOMY. COURTS THEREFORE MUST ASCERTAIN THEIR PARAMETERS SET BY LAW. COURTS MUST HARMONIZE VARYING MATERIAL RULES. CIAC THEREFORE MUST BE EMPOWERED AND ENABLED TO EXERCISE ITS FUNCTIONS AND COURTS MUST OBSERVE NON-PARTICIPATION EXCEPT ON NARROWEST OF GROUNDS.

The attributes and functions of the CIAC also operatively place it in a hybrid classification, in that it is categorized as a quasi-judicial agency, but its very nature as an arbitral tribunal effectively places it at par with other commercial arbitral tribunals, with their characteristic speed, subject matter authoritativeness and overall autonomy. This amalgamation of its design and utilities created a whole new legal animal, which, like all things novel, poses for the Court a challenge of ascertaining its parameters and remedial routes set by law. Perhaps, unless the legislature deems it fit to create a new and independent set of rules that apply to the CIAC more responsively, the Court must continue to contend with harmonizing varying material rules, all in a manner that is as just as it is tenable under existing laws.

It is central, therefore, that the CIAC be empowered and enabled to fulfill its function as the professionally authoritative venue for settlement of construction disputes, and not straitjacketed to fit into the mold of the court system which it was meant to be an alternative of. To this end, and perhaps somewhat ironically, the courts can contribute best through non[1]participation, save on the narrowest of grounds. The courts are, after all, ultimately dealers of justice, more so in industries that are of greater consequence, and must remain true to this highest mandate, even if it means relinquishing review powers that, in the sum of things, it was demonstrably not meant to bear.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED and the Decision dated July 12, 2019 and Resolution dated November 22, 2019, REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Christopher C. Calera is declared TOTALLY AND PERMANENTLY DISABLED for sea duties. Respondent Hoegh Fleet Services Philippines, Inc. is ORDERED to PAY petitioner:

1) Total and Permanent Disability Benefits ofUSD60,000.00; and

2) Attorney’s Fees of ten percent ( 10%) of the total monetary award.

The total monetary award shall earn six percent ( 6%) legal interest per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

As worded, the medical report was far from final. For one, the company-designated physicians made no mention of any ~isability rating nor any declaration as to petitioner’s fitness or unfitness for further sea duty. For another, the alleged finality of the medical report was negated by the fact that petitioner needed further medical treatment, i.e., he was referred for four (4) sets of physical therapy with six (6) sessions each. That he was not re[1]deployed after the incident at the Holiday Inn lends credence to the fact that he still needed further medical attention and far from healed.

The Court, therefore, finds the June 13, 201 7 medical report to have fallen short of the parameters for a final and definite medical report. Even if the company-designated physicians were justified in extending petitioner’s medical treatment to more than 120 days, yet, as earlier stated, the alleged final medical report is far from final.

Sans a valid final and definite assessment from the company-designated physicians within the 120/240-day period, the law already steps in to consider petitioner’s disability as total and permanent.59 By operation oflaw, therefore, petitioner is deemed totally and permanently disabled.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision dated April 26, 2019 and Resolution dated October 9, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 08244 are AFFIRMED. Appellant SPOl ALEXANDER ESTABILLO y P ALARA is found GUILTY of violation of Sections 5 and 11 of Republic Act No. 9165 and sentenced to LIFE IMPRISONMENT and a FINE of Pl0,000,000.00 for each offense.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PDEA FAILED TO DESTROY THE BRICKS OF COCAINE IN VIOLATION OF WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES. BUT THE COURT SAID THIS WOULD NOT AFFECT THE INTEGRITY AND EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE SEIZED DRUGS. AT MOST THE VIOLATION COULD BE GROUND FOR POSSIBLE DISCIPLINARY ACTION.

The Court recognizes though that the PDEA’s failure to destroy the (4) bricks of cocaine beforehand nevertheless constituted a breach of Section 21(4), RA 9165. To repeat, however, this would not affect the integrity and evidentiary value of the entirety of the seized items but could, at most, be ground for possible disciplinary action.

All told, the prosecution has successfully established the chain of custody of the seized items. Consequently, the integrity and evidentiary value of these seized items are deemed preserved. The corpus delicti of the crimes charged against appellant were therefore established. As such, there is no reason to depart from the assailed verdicts of conviction.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition for review is GRANTED. The Decision dated July 12, 2018 and Resolution dated July 15, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 139311 a re REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint in NLRC NCR Case No. 07-10180-13 is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PNCC STOPPED GIVING MID-YEAR BONUS TO ITS EMPLOYEES. THE LABOR ARBITER, NLRC AND C.A. RULED THAT PNCC SHOULD CONTINUE GIVING MID-YEAR BONUS ON THE BASIS OF NON-DIMINUTION OF BENEFITS. SUPREME COURT SAID UNDER R.A. 10149 GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS, WHETHER CHARTERED OR NON-CHARTERED SHOULD NO LONGER GRANT ANY ADDITIONAL BENEFITS TO ITS EMPLOYEES WITHOUT THE REQUISITE AUTHORITY FROM THE PRESIDENT. GRANTING OF THESE BENEFITS MUST CONFORM TO THE COMPENSATION AND CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS UNDER BY APPLICABLE LAWS.

In that case, employees of GSIS Family Bank demanded for the payment of their Christmas bonus which had been annually given them pursuant to their CBA with GSIS Family Bank, a non-chartered GOCC. GSIS Family Bank was advised by the Governance Commission that in view of the enactment of RA l O 149, GSIS Family Bank should no longer grant any additional benefits to its employees without the requisite authority from the President. Thenceforth, GSIS Family Bank stopped granting Christmas bonus to its employees. The Court ruled that while GOCCs without original chatiers are covered by the Labor Code, employees of GOCCs are bereft of any right to negotiate the economic terms of their employment, i. e. salaries, emoluments, incentives and other benefits, with their employers since these matters are covered by compensation and position standards issued by the Department of Budget and Management and applicable laws. GSJS clarified that RA IO 149 applies to both chartered and non-chartered GOCCs.

More, citing PCSO vs. Pulido-Tan, 46 GSIS reiterated that the power of a government-owned or controlled corporation to fix salaries or _ allowances of its employees is subject to and must conform to the compensation and classification standards laid down by applicable laws. For RA 10149 does not differentiate between chartered and non-chartered government-owned or controlled corporations; hence, the provisions of this law equally apply to all GOCCs.

Consequently, therefore, PNCC did not v iolate the non-diminution rule when it desisted from granting mid-year bonus to its employees starting 2013. True, between 1992 and 2011 , PNCC invariably granted this benefit to its employees and never before revoked this grant in strict adherence to the non-diminution rule under Artic le 100 of the Labor Code. Nonetheless, with the subsequent enactment of RA l 0 l 49 in 2011, PNCC may no longer grant this benefit without first securing the requisite authority from the President. As borne by the records, PNCC failed to obtain this authority in v iew of the position taken by the GCG not to forward the request to the President. GCG cited as reasons the infirmity of the grant and the extraneous application of the non-diminution rule thereto.

All told, the labor arbiter, the NLRC, and the Cou1i of Appeals each gravely e rred when they peremptorily compelled PNCC to release the questioned mid-year bonus to the employees.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed September 16, 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 114964 is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Respondent Cathay Pacific Airways Limited is ORDERED to PAY petitioner Salvacion A. Lamadrid full backwages and separation pay based on her salary rate at the time of her termination. Let this case be remanded to the Labor Arbiter for this purpose. The benefits and bonuses she received during her separation amounting to HK.$622,077.54 should be deducted from the final monetary award that would be given to her.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PETITIONER WAS DISMISSED FROM EMPLOYMENT FOR ALLEGEDLY STEALING MINERAL WATER. SUPREME COURT SAID SINCE THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT PETITIONER COMMITTED INFRACTION, DISMISSAL IS HARSH PENALTY. THE COURT APPLIED THE PRINCIPLE OF TOTALITY OF INFRACTIONS.

However, while the weight of evidence points to Lamadrid’s infraction of company policy, We should also consider that this is Lamadrid’s first infraction in her 17 years of service in the airline which involved a mere bottle of water. Concededly, the company laid down the penalties for violation of its policies; however, the evaluation of an employee’s infraction should be dealt with fairness and reason. Simply put, all surrounding circumstances must be considered and the penalty must be commensurate to the violation committed by an employee. Termination of the services of an employee should be the employer’s last resort especially when other disciplinary actions may be imposed, considering the employee’s long years of service in the company, devoting time, effort and invaluable service in line with the employer’s goals and mission, as in Lamadrid’s case. Thus, We emphasize the principle of totality of infractions, viz.:

x x x . It is here that totality of infractions may be considered to determine the imposable sanction for her current infraction. In Merin v. National Labor Relations Commission, the Court explained the principle of “totality of infractions” in this wise:

The totality of infractions or the number of violations committed during the period of employment shall be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed upon an erring employee.Xx x.65 (Citation Omitted).

During Lamadrid’s span of employment, she did not commit any infraction or was ever sanctioned except in the incident subject of the present controversy. To impose a penalty as grave as dismissal for a first offense and considering the value of the property allegedly taken would be too harsh under the circumstances. Therefore, Lamadrid was illegally dismissed from service.

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DISPOSITIVE:

“ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated November 29, 2019 and Resolution dated March 3, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 154289 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondents Dohle Seafront Crewing Manila, Inc., and Dohle (IOM) Limited are held jointly and severally liable to petitioner Jolly R. Carandan for the following amounts:

1. US$60,000.00 or its Philippine Peso equivalent at the time of payment as total and permanent disability rating in accordance with the 20 IO Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract;

2. Ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award as attorney’s fees; and

3. Six percent (6%) interest per annum of the total monetary award from the :finality of this Decision until fully paid.53

SO ORDERED.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PETITIONER WAS CLAIMING FOR TOTAL AND PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS DUE TO CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE. RESPONDENT ARGUED THAT UNDER THEIR CBA HE CAN ONLY CLAIM TOTAL AND PERMANENT DISAPLITY BENEFITS IF THE CAUSE IS AN ACCIDENT AND THERE WAS NO ACCIDENT. SUPREME COURT SAID PETITIONER CAN CLAIM NOT UNDER CBA BUT UNDER THE POEA-STANDARD EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT (POEA-SEC).

As in Illescas, petitioner’s cardiovascular disease cannot be said to have been an event which under the circumstances is unusual and unexpected by the person to whom it happens. Heart ailment may be expected from someone who is often exposed in hard manual labor like petitioner.

In any event, although the provisions of the CBA are not applicable here, petitioner is still entitled to total and permanent disability benefits under the 2010 POEA-SEC. In Julleza v. Orient Line Philippines, Inc. , 52 the Court held that Julleza’s lumbar spondylosis did not result from an accident, he cannot claim total and permanent disability benefits under the CBA provisions, but under the POEA-SEC. As discussed, cardiovascular disease is specifically listed as a compensable disease under Section 32-A of the 2010 POEA-SEC. Hence, petitioner is entitled to the benefits granted under the 2010 POEA-SEC.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition for certiorari is GRANTED. The Orders dated August 13, 2019, October 1, 2019 and October 7, 2019 of the Regional Trial Court – Branch 58, Makati City in People v. Emerito P. Manalo, et al. (Criminal Case Nos. 19-00774, 19-00775, 19-00778, 19- 00780, 19-00781, 19-00782, 19-00784, 19-00787, 19-00789, 19-00796, 19- 00797, 19-00798, 19-00799, 19-00801, 19-00803, 19-00804, 19-00806, 19- 00807, and 19-00810.), People v. Vicente J. Campa, Jr. et al., (Criminal Case Nos. 19-00773, 19-00777, 19-00783, 19-00786, 19-00793, I 9-00801, 19- 00802, 19–00805, 19-00807, 19-00808, and 19-00809), and People v. Perfecto M. Pascua, et al. (Criminal Case Nos. 19-00790, 19-00794, and 19- 00808.) are NULLIFIED. The charges against VICENTE J. CAMPA, JR. and PERFECTO M. PASCUA are DISMISSED on ground of inordinate delay.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

In Magante v. Sandiganbayan,46 the CoUii noted that prejudice from delay is most serious when a defendant is rendered unable to adequately prepare his case, as here. There is also prejudice when defense witnesses could no longer accurately recall events in the distant past.

In fine, the Court agrees with petitioners that the DOJ was guilty of inordinate delay in issuing its Resolution dated February 8, 2019 only about ten (10) years and five (5) months from the filing of the complaint.

.. . . . .

 Grave abuse of discretion is the capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.

Here, petitioners sufficiently established that the trial court acted in grave abuse of discretion in denying their motions to dismiss and/or quash. Indeed, procedural rules are clear on the periods for resolving cases and jurisprudence is rich with analogous situations on which the trial court could have based its rulings. As it was, however, the trial court denied petitioners’ motions without properly determining whether there·was inordinate delay in accordance with Cagang. Had the trial court applied the balancing test and guidelines in Cagang, it would have discovered for itself that inordinate delay had indeed attended the DOJ investigation and that petitioners’ right to speedy disposition of their cases had been violated by reason thereof. Thus, a reversal of the assailed rulings is in order.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated April 24, 2019 and Resolution dated August 9, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 158565 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated December 1, 2017 and Resolution dated November 19, 2018 of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board – Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators in MVA-090-RCMB-NCR-081-13-03-2017 are REINSTATED.

Respondents United Philippine Lines, Inc. and/or Shell International Trading and Shipping Co. are ORDERED to jointly and severally pay petitioner Kennedy R. Quines the following amounts:

1) total and permanent disability benefits of US$98,848.00 or its peso equivalent at the time of payment, in accordance with the IBFAMOSUP/IMEC TCCC Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2015-2017, less whatever amount that had already been paid to petitioner by way of financial assistance;

2) ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award as attorney’s fees; and

3) six percent ( 6%) legal interest per annum of the total monetary amount from finality of this Decision until full payment.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“Surely, the fact that petitioner is taking five (5) maintenance medications for his hypertension alone, already permanently incapacitates him from securing gainful employment as a seafarer. Too, there is no showing that he had been re-employed by respondents or engaged as a seaman by any other company ever since he got repatriated in 2016. Verily, his continuous unemployment until this very day indicates his total and permanent disability.

Further, without a valid final and definitive assessments from the company-designated doctors within the 120/240-day period, as in this case, the law already steps in to consider a seafarer’s disability as total and permanent. By operation of law, therefore, petitioner is already deemed to be totally and permanently disabled.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The decision dated February 13, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA- G.R. CR HC No. 01366-MIN is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.  Accordingly, accused-appellant RANILO S. SUAREZ is AQUITTED of Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to cause his immediate release, unless he is being lawfully held in custody for any other reason.

Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is one imbued with trust and confidence. And as true as any natural tendency goes, this “trust and confidence” is prone to abuse. The rule against borrowing of money by a lawyer from his client is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking advantage of his influence over his client. The rule presumes that the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation. 16 In the present case, it is clear that Agustin had violated Rule 16.04 of the CPR.

……………………………

Furthermore, the Court cannot order or require Agustin to return the money he loaned from Dalumay under these same proceedings. In disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. Thus, the Court is not concerned with the erring lawyer’s civil liability for money received from his client in a transaction separate, distinct, and not intrinsically linked to his professional engagement. 20 Thus, the directive to return the amounts of P300,000.00 and US$9,000.00 under the IBP recommendation cannot be sustained.

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 14, 2016 Decision and the February 8, 2017 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CV No. 03786 are AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“All told, Article 434 of the Civil Code requires that in an action to recover, the property must be identified, and the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his title and not on the weakness of the defendant’s claim. 44 Identity of the land is the foremost relevant fact or issue to be determined in any action involving real properties. Unfortunately, petitioner failed to properly and sufficiently identify the subject property Lot No. 758, which she claims to have been possessed and owned by her and her predecessors-in-interest. Accordingly, all other remaining issues become futile.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The September 30, 2016 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 07288, is hereby AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“We sustain the findings of the trial court and the appellalc court that treachery attended the commission of the crlme. Treachery is present when the following elements are present: (a) the employment of means, methods or manner of execution to ensure the safoly of the offender from defensive or retaliatory ads of the victim and (b) the deliberate adoption by the offender of such means, methods or manner of execution. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor on an unsuspecting victim who gave no provocation,25 without affording the latter any real chance to defend hlmself and thereby ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor.26”

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, Decision No. 2018-010 dated January 17, 2018 and Resolution No. 2020-180 dated January 29, 2020 of the Commission on Audit – En Banc are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The approving, certifying, and authorizing officers of the Securities and Exchange Commission are absolved from refunding the disallowed amount solidarily and individually under Notice of Disallowance No. 11-003-101-(10) dated December 10, 2011.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

SEC INCREASED ITS COUNTERPART CONTRIBUTION TO THEIR PROVIDENT FUND BY 15% ACROSS THE BOARD. THEY SOURCED THE INCREASE FROM THEIR RETAINED INCOME. COA DISALLOWED THE INCREASE BECAUSE UNDER THE GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT OF SAID YEAR (2010) RETAINED INCOME MUST ONLY BE USED FOR CAPITAL OUTLAY AND MAINTENANCE AND OTHER OPERATING EXPENSES. FURTHER COA REQUIRED THE SEC OFFICERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INCREASE TO RETURN SUCH DISALLOWED 15% INCREASE AS WELL AS WHAT THEY PERSONALLY RECEIVED AS A RESULT OF THE INCREASE. OTHER EMPLOYEES WERE NOT ORDERED TO REFUND WHAT THEY RECEIVED. SUPREME COURT SAID THE OFFICERS CANNOT BE COMPELLED TO RETURN THE DISALLOWED INCREASE BECAUSE THEY ACTED IN GOOD FAITH. THEY ARE NOT ALSO BE COMPELLED TO RETURN WHAT THEY PERSONALLY RECEIVED BECAUSE IT WILL RESULT TO UNDUE PREJUDICE AND BY REASON OF EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW. IF OTHER EMPLOYEES ARE NOT ORDERED TO REFUND WHAT THEY RECEIVE, THE OFFICERS MUST NOT ALSO BE ORDERED TO REFUND.

Finally, undue prejudice would also occur if the payees-recipients, including the concerned SEC officers, are made to foot an additional 15% contribution which ought to have been shouldered by the SEC itself. To repeat, payees-recipients contribute an equivalent of 3% of their monthly salary. To order them to answer for the 15% counterpart contribution of the SEC would, in effect, make their total contribution equivalent to 18% of their monthly salary. Under Section 4342 of the General Provisions of GAA 2010, salary deductions for provident funds, among others, is allowed so long as an employee’s total take home pay will not fall below P3,000.00. By ordering payees-recipients to return the amounts in effect increasing their provident fund contributions to 18%, low-ranked employees may already have a take home pay of less than P3,000.00.

All told, the SEC officers would suffer undue prejudice should they be compelled to return the amounts paid under their names in the provident fund using SEC’s retained earnings. At any rate,.it could also disrupt the provident fund system and cause unforeseen damage and complications to its finances.

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated February 10, 2020 and Resolution dated October 2, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 155268 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondents Next Wave Maritime Management, Inc., MTM Ship Management Pte. Ltd., and Arnold Marquez, are ordered to jointly and severally PAY petitioner Resty S. Caampued the following:

1. US$60,000.00 or its Philippine Peso equivalent at the time of payment for total and permanent disability rating in accordance with the 2010 PO EA-SEC;

2. Ten percent (10%) of the monetary award as attorney’s fees; and

3. Six percent (6%) legal interest per annum on the total monetary award from finality of this decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

INTER-ALIA, THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME IMPORTANT POINTS IN THE CASE: PETITIONER WAS CLAIMING FOR TOTAL DISABILITY BENEFITS DUE TO MEDICAL CONDITION ARISING FROM HIS WORK IN A VESSEL.  RESPONDENTS ARGUE THAT HIS MEDICAL CONDITION EXISTED PRIOR TO HIS EMPLOYMENT ON BOARD THE VESSEL WHICH HE ALLEGEDLY FAILED TO DISCLOSE AND SUCH FAILURE BARS HIS CLAIM. COURT OF APPEALS DENIED HIS CLAIM. SUPREME COURT REVERSED C.A. AND GRANTED HIS CLAIM. SC SAID EVEN IF PETITIONER HAS PRE-EXISTING DISEASE, STILL HIS CLAIM IS COMPENSABLE IF HIS WORK AGGRAVATED HIS PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION. ALSO HIS ALLEGED FAILURE TO DISCLOSE PRE-EXISTING CONDITION MUST BE ATTENDED WITH MALICE. HERE, THERE WAS NO PROOF OF MALICE. FURTHER, THE COMPANY DESIGNATED PHYSICIAN MUST ISSUE A FINAL MEDICAL ASSESSMENT AND THIS MUST BE COMMUNICATED TO PETITIONER. HERE, THERE WAS NO FINAL MEDICAL ASSESSMENT BUT ONLY A REPORT BY THE PHYSICIAN TO RESPONDENT COMPANY AND THERE IS NO PROOF THAT SUCH REPORT WAS FURNISHED TO PETITIONER.

“In Gere v. Anglo-Eastern Crew Management Phils., Inc. 62 the Court decreed that the company-designated physician must not only “issue” a final medical assessment of the seafarer’s medical condition. He must also – and the Court cannot emphasize this enough – “give” his assessment to the seafarer concerned. That is to say that the seafarer must be fully and properly informed of his medical condition. The results of his/her medical examinations, the treatments extended to the seafarer, the diagnosis and prognosis, if needed, and, of course, the seafarer’s disability grading must be fully explained to him/her by no less than the company-designated physician.

Here, Dr. Alegre only issued a medical report addressed to Crew Operations Manager Captain Arnold Marquez. As in Gere, this medical report cannot be regarded as anything more than an internal communication between the company-designated physician and respondent Next Wave. Further, petitioner was not even furnished a copy of said medical report. Respondents did not deny this. They simply posited that the assessment was explained to petitioner.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Partial Reconsideration· filed by respondent Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr. of Branch 61; Regional Trial Court, Naga City, Camarines Sur is PARTLY GRANTED.

The Court’s Decision dated February 4, 2020 is hereby MODIFIED. The administrative liability of respondent Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr. for giving the oppositor the option of submitting his pretrial brief in contravention of its mandatory nature is reduced from gross ignorance of the law to violation of Supreme Co11rt rules, directives and circulars. Thus, the Court imposes upon him the penalty of a fine of Pl0,000.00 each for: (1) violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars committed by respondent through various acts; and (2) Simple Misconduct committed by respondent through various acts, or a total of P20,000.00. The penalty of Pl0,000.00 for Simple Misconduct is understood to include the penalty for respondent’s Undue Delay in terminating the preliminary conference in Special Proceedings No. 1870.

He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall definitely be dealt with more severely. He is reminded to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties which should be discharged in accordance with the rules, directives, and circulars duly issued by the Court.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal record of respondent Judge Soliman ·M. Santos, Jr.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

JUDGE SANTOS WANTED THE PARTIES TO SETTLE. HE UNDULY DELAYED THE TERMINATION OF THE PRELIMINARY CONFERECE; EVEN AFTER COMPLAINANT WITHDRAW HIS PETITION HE CASTIGATED HIM IN AN EXTENDED ORDER WHICH WAS NOT ACTUALLY NECESSARY. HE ALLOWED OPPOSITOR THE OPTION NOT TO FILE PRE-TRIAL BRIEF WHICH IS MANDATORY. BUT BECAUSE JUDGE SANTOS ACTED IN GOOD FAITH THE SUPREME COURT GRANTED PARTIALLY HIS MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. GOOD FAITH WAS CONSIDERED MITIGATING.

“In other cases involving the administrative liability of judges, the Court took into consideration lack of showing of malice, corrupt motives, or improper considerations on the part of the judge to mitigate the penalty.

In the present case, the Court finds that while respondent committed the above-stated offenses, the infractions were not attended by bad faith. In trui.h, respondent’s actuations all arose from a single petition filed by complainant; and that the respondent’s action were driven by his genuine intention of making the parties arrive at an amicable settlement. \1/hile respondent’s good faith does not absolve him from administrative liability, the Court considers the absence of malice and corrupt motive on his part as a circumstance mitigating his liability.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated February 11, 2020 and Resolution dated September 24, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 161534 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Convergys Philippines, Inc. is hereby ORDERED to PAY petitioner Vincent Michael Banta Moll the following:

I) BACKWAGES reckoned from March 25, 2018 until finality of this  Decision;

2) SEPARATION PAY of one (1) month salary for every year of service;

3) PRO-RATED 13th MONTH PAY for the year 2018;

4) UNPAID SALARY for March 2018; and

5) ATTORNEY’S FEES of ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award.

These monetary awards shall earn six percent ( 6%) interest per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“Lastly, we find that Convergys shall be solely liable to the above monetary awards. A corporation is a juridical entity with legal personality separate and distinct from those acting for and in its behalf and, in general, from the people comprising it. Thus, as a general rule, an officer may not be held liable for the corporation’s labor obligations unless he or she acted with evident malice and/or bad faith in dismissing an employee.

Labor Arbiter Makasiar properly exonerated respondents Ayers, Valentine, Pontius, Twomey, Gonzales, Sangcal, and Cabugao from all liabilities for lack of showing that they acted with malice or bad faith nor assented to petitioner’s illegal dismissal. In fact, as early as the proceedings before the NLRC, they should have already been dropped as respondents in this case as petitioner did not assail their exoneration from liability by the labor arbiter. As to them, the labor arbiter’s decision had already lapsed into finality.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated December 2, 2016 and the Resolution dated April 10, 2017 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 143770 are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS, awarding to petitioner Remegio E. Burnea attorney’s fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the monetary awards due to him, and imposing on all monetary awards legal interest at the rate of six percent ( 6%) per annum from finality of the Decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

In cases of illegal dismissal, the employer bears the burden of proof to prove that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause. However, it is well to clarify that before the employer bears such burden, it is imperative for the employee to first establish by substantial evidence that he/she was indeed dismissed from employment. Absent such dismissal, there could be no question as to its legality or illegality.36

…………………………..

Nonetheless, since petitioner was awarded salary differentials, holiday pay, and service incentive leave pay, subject to the three (3)-year prescriptive period, to be reckoned from November 3, 2011 up to the date of his dismissal on November 17, 2013 as alleged in the complaint, he is also entitled to attorney’s fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award in accordance with Article 11139 of the Labor Code and Article 220840 of the Civil Code, as the latter was clearly compelled to litigate to protect his rights and interests thereto. Finally, in line with prevailing jurisprudence, all monetary awards due to petitioner shall earn legal interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from finality of this Decision until fully paid.41

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the March 7, 2016 Decision and September 30, 2016 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 137591 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court for a full resolution of the issues.

SO ORDERED.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

“In fine, the agrarian laws that grant the DARAB exclusive jurisdiction to
rule on agrarian disputes, as well as those which provide the landless farmers
security of tenure and protect them against eviction from the landholdings, are
without a doubt, laudable. However, these rights, sacred as they are, may not be
enforced against strangers or those who have not consented to the relationship,
personally or through their predecessors. In the case at bar, justice would best be
served by allowing the parties to thresh out their allegations and defenses in a
full blown hearing before the RTC, which has jurisdiction over the action to quiet
title. Certainly, a complete· resolution of the case will benefit both parties as it
will finally settle their respective rights over the subject property.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED for failure to raise any reversible error. The assailed May 29, 2015 Decision and March 17, 2016 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 07130 are AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

RESPONDENT WAS DISMISSED FOR LOSS OF TRUST (ALLEGEDLY STEALING FIRE EXTINGUISHERS), ABANDONMENT OF WORK (DID NOT MAKE TURN-OVER) AND GROSS NEGLIGENCE (SEVERAL CUSTOMERS COMPLAINED). ULTIMATELY, C.A. RULED THAT RESPONDENT WAS ILLEGALLY DISMISSED. ANOTHER ISSUE: RESPONDENT FILED CERTIORARI  BEYOND REGLEMENTARY PERIOD. C.A. ENTERTAINED PETITION FOR CERTIORARI. SUPREME COURT SUSTAINED C.A.

DESPITE THE LATE FILING OF PETITION FOR CERTIORARI, C.A. GAVE DUE COURSE TO THE PETITION. IS THIS PROPER?

YES. C.A. HAS THE DISCRETION.

While petitioner is correct that a party’s recourse to the extraordinary writ of certiorari is generally governed by mandatory procedural rules,46 giving due course to a petition ultimately depends on the reviewing court’s discretion. In Serrano v. Galant Maritime Services:47

Needless to state, the acceptance of a petition for certiorari as well as the grant of due course thereto is, in general, addressed to the sound discretion of the court. Although the court has absolute discretion to reject and dismiss a petition for certiorari, in general, it does so only (1) when the petition fails to demonstrate grave abuse of discretion by any court, agency, or branch of the government; or (2) when there are procedural errors, like violations of the Rules of Court or Supreme Court Circulars. 48 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)

The Court of Appeals did not mention the Petition for Certiorari being filed out of time. However, its reasoning for giving the pleading due course allowed the liberal application of the rule on filing periods. Rules of procedure “facilitate the orderly administration of justice”;52 however, their application should not result in a denial of substantial justice. Serrano is again instructive:

In Cusi-Hernandez vs. Diaz, this Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, held that “cases should be determined on the merits, after full opportunity to all parties for ventilation of their causes and defenses, rather than on technicality or some procedural imperfections. In that way, the ends of justice would be served better.”

Indeed, “procedural rules are created not to hinder or delay but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. It is far better to dispose of the case on the merits which is a primordial end rather than on a technicality, if it be the case, that may result in injustice. ” In Paras vs. Ba/dado and Alberto vs. Court of Appeals, this Court held that “(w)hat should guide judicial action is the principle that a party[1]litigant is to be given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his complaint or defense rather than for him to lose life, liberty, honor or property on technicalities …. (T)he rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice.

Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. ” 53 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted).

PETITIONER ARGUES THAT RESPONDENT COMMITTED LOSS OF TRUST DUE TO THE DISAPPEARANCE OF FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. RESPONDENT ALLEGEDLY ADMITTED IT BECAUSE HE EVEN AGREED TO PAY FOR THEIR VALUES. IS PETITIONER CORRECT?

NO BECAUSE RESPONDENT DID NOT OCCUPY A POSITION OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE AND THE ALLEGED ACT OF THE EMPLOYEE STEALING THE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS WAS NOT PROVEN.

First, loss of trust and confidence may be just cause for termination of employment only upon proof that: (1) the dismissed employee occupied a position of trust and confidence; and (2) the dismissed employee committed “an act justifying the loss of trust and confidence.”56

Here, both the National Labor Relations Commission and the Court of Appeals established that respondent did not hold a position of trust and confidence. Moreover, the second element, pertaining to the act that breached the employer’s trust and confidence, was never established in prior proceedings. Rivera v. Genesis Transport Services, Inc. explains:

The position an employee holds is not the sole criterion. More important than this formalistic requirement is that loss of trust and confidence must be justified As with misconduct as basis for terminating employment, breach of trust demands that a degree of severity attend[ s] the employee’s breach of trust. In China City Restaurant Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, this court emphasized the need for caution:

For loss of trust and confidence to be a valid ground for the dismissal of employees, it must be substantial and not arbitrary, whimsical, capricious or concocted.

Irregularities or malpractices should not be allowed to escape the scrutiny of this Court. Solicitude for the protection of the rights of the working class [is] of prime importance. Although this is not [a] license to disregard the rights of management, still the Court must be wary of the ploys of management to get rid of employees it considers as undesirable. 57 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)

PETITIONER ALSO ARGUES THAT THE LOSS OF FIRE EXTINGUISHERS CAN ALSO CONSTITUTE GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY. IT MAY BE NOTED THAT THE RESPONDENT SAID THEY MAY HAVE BEEN STOLEN WHILE HE WAS PAINTING THE OFFICE. IS PETITIONER CORRECT?

NO BECAUSE GROSS NEGLIGENCE MUST BE BOTH GROSS AND HABITUAL. THERE WAS NO PROOF OF WANTONNESS AND HABITUALITY.

…. Anvil Ensembles Garment v. Court of Appeals59 provides the standard for establishing gross neglect of duty as just cause for terminating employment:

Thus, under the Labor Code, to be a valid ground for dismissal, the negligence must be gross and habitual. Gross negligence has been defined as the want or absence of even slight care or diligence as to amount to a reckless disregard of the safety of the person or property. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them. Put differently, gross negligence is characterized by want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently, but willfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences insofar as other persons may be affected. 60 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)

Therefore, even if respondent were negligent, such negligence must be proven to be gross and habitual. Neither the records nor the Petition establishes the required wantonness and habituality of respondent’s neglect that would merit his dismissal. Petitioner refers to facts allegedly established in prior proceedings and concludes that the simple fact of loss of property amounted to gross negligence.61 However, the records indicate that respondent was willing to admit the consequences of the loss and even offered to pay for the lost properties’ value. This directly contradicts the “conscious indifference to consequences”62 indicative of gross and habitual neglect. Thus, there was no basis to terminate respondent’s employment for gross and habitual neglect of duty.

PETITIONER ARGUES THAT RESPONDENT CAN BE VALIDLY BE DISMISSED DUE TO ABANDONMENT OF WORK. HE DID NOT REPORT TO WORK AND MADE PROPER TURN-OVER. IS PETITIONER RIGHT?

NO. ONCE INFORMED THAT HE WAS DISMISSED, RESPONDENT CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO REPORT BACK TO WORK. EVEN TO TURN OVER HIS WORKS.

Petitioner argues that respondent abandoned his work when he failed to complete the company’s turnover procedure after receipt of the January 4, 2010 termination notice.64 Mame v. Court of Appea!s65 is instructive in the elements of abandonment as just cause for termination of employment:

“In cases where abandonment is the cause for termination of employment, two factors must concur: (1) there is a clear, deliberate and unjustified refusal to resume employment; and (2) a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship. The burden of proof that there was abandonment lies with the employer. Where the employee takes steps to protest his layoff, it cannot be said that he has abandoned his work because a charge of abandonment is totally inconsistent with the immediate filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal, more so when it includes a prayer for reinstatement. 66 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)”

Thus, petitioner’s argument fails to convince, as the records would indicate that respondent’s employment had already been terminated by the time he supposedly abandoned his work. Nothing in the records shows respondent’s failure to report for work prior to his receipt of the January 4, I 2010 termination notice. It would have been unreasonable to expect him to continue reporting for work after having been notified of his dismissal.

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DISPOSITIVE:

FOR THESE REASONS, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals’ Resolutions dated March 8, 2018 and May 21, 2018 in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 11429 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for a proper resolution on the merits with dispatch.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

IN THIS CASE THE UNION  MOVED FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THE ADVERSE DECISION OF THE VOLUNTARY ARBITRATOR WITHIN 10 DAYS. WHEN THE ARBITRATOR DENIED THEIR MOTION, THE UNION FILED AN APPEAL WITH THE C.A. 15 DAYS AFTER THEY RECEIVED THE DENIAL. C.A. DISMISSED THE APPEAL ON THE GROUND THAT THE DECISION BECAME FINAL AND EXECUTORY AFTER 10 CALENDAR DAYS AND THUS THE APPEAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN FILED WITHIN 10 CALENDAR DAYS. SUPREME COURT RULED THAT  THE C.A. IS WRONG. UNDER RULE43 OF THE RULES OF COURT THE PERIOD OF APPEAL IS 15 DAYS FROM NOTICE OF THE DECISION OF THE VOLUNTARY ARBITRATOR. THE 10-DAY PERIOD IN ARTICLE 276 SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD AS THE TIME WITHIN WHICH THE ADVERSE PARTY MAY MOVE FOR A RECONSIDERATION FROM THE DECISION OR AWARD OF THE VOLUNTARY ARBITRATORS.

“Under Article 276 of the Labor Code, the award or decision of voluntary arbitrators shall be final and executory after 10 calendar days from notice.20 On the other hand, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court provides that an appeal from the judgment or final orders of voluntary arbitrators must be made within 15 days from notice.21 With these, the Court has alternatively used the 10-day or 15-day reglementary periods. 22 In Guagua National Colleges v. CA, 23 the Court En Banc settled the confusion and clarified that the 10-day period in Article 276 should be understood as the time within which the adverse party may move for a reconsideration from the decision or award of the voluntary arbitrators.24 Thereafter, the aggrieved party may appeal to the CA within 15 days from notice pursuant to Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, …..”

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Accordingly, the March 27, 2015 Decision and the September 11, 2015 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 133652 are AFFIRMED with the modification that in addition to the payment of exemplary damages and attorney’s fees, petitioner Emzee Foods Inc. is hereby ORDERED to CEASE and DESIST from using “ELARZ LECHON,” “ELAR LECHON,” “PIG DEVICE,” and “ON A BAMBOO TRAY” on its products.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

SPOUSES LONTOC SINCE 1970 HAS BEEN USING THE TRADEMARK “ELARS LECHON” FOR ROASTED PIGS. IN 1989 THEY REGISTERED A CORPORATION ELARFOODS INC AND MARKET THEIR ROASTED PIGS UNDER THE MARK “ELARS LECHON”. PETITIONER ALSO USED THE MARK “ELARZ LECHON”. IN 2001, RESPONDENT CORPORATION FILED REGISTRATION OF THEIR MARK. THEREAFTER RESPONDENT SUED PETITIONER FOR UNFAIR COMPETITION AND VIOLATION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS. ULTIMATELY, IPO RULED AGAINST PETITIONER. C.A. AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. PETITIONER ARGUES THAT THE OWNER OF THE MARK WERE THE LONTOC SPOUSES AND SUBSEQUENTLY THEIR ESTATE BECAUSE THERE WAS NO WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS TO RESPONDENT CORPORATION. THUS RESPONDENT CORPORATION HAS NO PERSONALITY TO FILE THE COMPLAINT AGAINST THEM. SUPREME COURT SAID SINCE ITS INCORPORATION RESPONDENT CORPORATION HAS BEEN USING SAID MARK. BY REASON OF RIGHT OF FIRST USE, APPLICABLE AT THAT TIME, IT IS THE OWNER OF SAID MARK. ALSO THE ASSIGNMENT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS NEED NOT BE IN WRITING.

It likewise bears stressing that even prior to the registration of the subject trademarks, the respondent has been consistently using said marks since its incorporation in 1989. Hence, even under the law applicable at that time, namely, Section 2-A of R.A. No. 166,69 respondent’s consistent use of the subject trademarks confirms its ownership thereof.

XXXXXXXXXX

Notably, this lacuna was filled by IPO Director General Blancaflor who explained that the fact of the transfer may not be disproven by the absence of a written assignment. A trademark, like any incorporeal right may be disposed of not only by way of formal assignment.78 More importantly, the subject trademarks were not yet registered when respondent started doing business under the Elar’s Lechon brand. 79 Neither was there a pending application for the said trademarks. Besides, under Article 162480 of the Civil Code, in relation to Article 147581 of the same Code, the assignment of incorporeal rights, like an unregistered mark, is perfected by mere consent without need of a written contract. Thus, what matters is that from the time of respondent’s incorporation until present, respondent has used and exclusively appropriated the subject trademarks as its own. 82”

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The August 16, 20 17 and November 20, 2017 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City, Branch 51 in SPL. PROC. No. 2391 are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The case is hereby REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City for further proceedings with dispatch.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PETITIONERS, COMPULSORY HEIRS,  FAILED TO ATTEND THE HEARING ON A PROBATE OF A WILL. THEY WERE DECLARED IN DEFAULT. SUPREME COURT SAID AN ORDER OF GENERAL DEFAULT DOES NOT APPLY IN PROBATE PROCEEDINGS SINCE THESE ARE NOT CONTENTIOUS LITIGATIONS.

“However, Sec. 3, Rule 9 does not apply in probate proceedings. A careful reading of Sec. 3 reveals that an order of default avails only in litigious proceedings. Thus, it cannot be validly issued in a special proceeding such as the probate of a will. The Court already made this clarification in the early case of Riera v. Palmaroli34 as follows:

Now what is the meaning or “judgment rendered upon default,” as used in section 513? The reference is of course to the default mentioned in section 128 of the Code of Civil Procedure. x x x A default, such as is there intended, can only arise in contentious litigation where a party who has been implcaded as a defendant and served with process fails to appear at the time required in the summons or to answer at the time provided by the rules of the court. The proceeding to probate a will is not a contentious litigation in any sense, because nobody is impleaded or served with process. It is a special proceeding, and although notice of the application is published, nobody is bound to appear and no order for judgment by default, is ever entered. If the application is not opposed, the court may allow the will on the testimony of one of the subscribing witnesses only (sec. 631, Code Civ. Proc.), provided none or the reasons specified in section 634 of the Code or Civil Procedure for disallowing the will are found to exist. If any interested person opposes the probate, the court hears the testimony and allows or disallows the will accordingly. From such judgment any interested person may appeal to the Supreme Court within twenty clays. (Sec. 781, Code Civ. Proc.) Though the action taken by a Court of First Instance in thus allowing or disallowing a will is properly denominated a _judgment, it is not a judgment rendered upon default even though no person appears to oppose the probate. 35 (emphases supplied).

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DISPOSITIVE:

“ACCORDINGLY, the petition for review is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated November 29, 2016 and Resolution dated May 26, 2017 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 137086 are MODIFIED, as follows:

1) Petitioner Fil-Estate Properties, Inc. is ORDERED to immediately EXECUTE a notarized Deed of Absolute Sale covering Ground Retail Unit B, West Tower in favor of respondent Hermana Realty, Inc., PROVIDE an original copy thereof to respondent Hermana Realty, Inc., and CAUSE its registration pursuant to Section 17 of PD 957;

2) Petitioner Fil-Estate Properties, Inc. is DIRECTED to DELIVER the owner’s duplicate copy of the Condominium Certificate of Title to respondent Hermana Realty, Inc.; and

3) Respondent Hermana Realty, Inc. is ORDERED to directly settle the taxes and registration expenses with the government within the periods prescribed under the law and take charge of causing the issuance of a new Condominium Certificate of Title in its name.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

FIL-ESTATE AND HERMANA REALTY EXECUTED A CONTRACT TO SELL WHEREBY FIL-ESTATE SHALL SELL TO HERMANA REALTY A CONDO UNIT. IT IS STIPULATED THAT HERMANA REALTY WILL PAY THE DOC STAMP TAX, VAT AND TRANSFER TAX. UPON FULL PAYMENT HERMANA DEMANDED FIL-ESTATE TO CONVEY THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE AND THE OWNER’S DUPLICATE CCT. FIL-ESTATE REFUSED UNLESS HERMANY REALTY PRODUCE PROOF THAT IT HAS PAID THE DOC STAMP TAX, VAT AND TRANSFER TAX. SUPREME COURT SAID THAT UPON FULL PAYMENT THE BUYER CAN DEMAND EXECUTION OF THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE AND ORIGINAL COPY OF OWNER’S TITLE.

The registration of the final deed of sale here is the obligation of FEPI under Section 17 (of PD 957). On the other hand, issuance of title under Section 25 should be construed to mean delivery by FEPI of the owner’s duplicate copy of the CCT, again for purposes of causing the registration of the property in the buyer’s name.

As it was, FEPI violated both provisions of law Not only did it fail to register the deed of absolute sale before the Register of Deeds, it also refused to deliver to HR.I the owner’s duplicate copy of the CCT.

Notably, FEPI’s obligations to register the final deed of sale (Section 17) and deliver the owner’s duplicate copy of the CCT (Section 25) are distinct from the obligation ofHRI, as buyer, to legally process the transfer of the CCT in its name as the now registered owner.

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CASE 2020-0042: JESUS G. CRISOLOGO, NANETTE B. CRISOLOGO, JAMES IAN YEUNG, and MARLINA T. SHENG, VS. ALICIA HAO and GREGORIO HAO, (G.R. NO. 216151, DECEMBER 2, 2020, GAERLAN, J.) (BRIEF TITLE: CRISOLOGO ET AL VS HAO ET AL)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The Decision dated November 17, 2014 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 16, in Civil Case No. 33, 581-10, and its Order dated January 9, 2015 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the Complaint dated November 18, 2010 filed by the respondents is hereby DISMISSED.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

PETITIONERS WON  COLLECTIONS CASE AGAINST A LANDOWNER. THE DECISION BECAME FINAL. PROPERTY WAS LEVIED. BIDDING WAS HELD. PETITIONERS WERE HIGHEST BIDDERS. CERTIFICATES OF SALE WERE ISSUED IN THEIR FAVOR. RESPONDENTS HAVE ALSO COLLECTION CLAIM AGAINST THE PROPERTY. THEY FILED A CASE TO CANCEL THE CERTIFICATES OF SALE BECAUSE PETITIONERS DID NOT PAY IN CASH BUT ONLY APPLIED THE JUDGMENT AMOUNTS DUE THEM IN JUDGMENT. AND ALSO THE CERTIFICATES OF SALE DID NOT MENTION THEIR THIRD PARTY CLAIMS. RTC DECLARED THE CERTIFICATES OF SALE VOID. SUPREME COURT REVERSED RTC.

THE RULE STATES THAT JUDGMENT BIDDER NEED NOT PAY IN CASH EXCEPT IF THERE IS AN EXCESS IN CASE THERE IS NO  THIRD PARTY CLAIM. DOES THIS MEAN THAT IN CASE THERE IS A THIRD PARTY CLAIM SAID CREDITOR MUST PAY IN CASH?

NO BECAUSE THE RULE DOES NOT SAY SO. BASIC IS THE RULE IN STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION THAT WHERE THE WORDS OF THELAW OR RULE ARE CLEAR, PLAIN, AND FREE FROM AMBIGUITY, IT MUST BE GIVEN ITS LITERALMEANING AND APPLIED WITHOUT ATTEMPTED INTERPRETATION.

THE RULE READS:

Section 21. Judgment obligee as purchaser. – When the purchaser is the judgment obligee, and no third-party claim has been filed, he need not pay the amount of the bid if it does not exceed the amount of his judgment. If it does, he shall pay only the excess.

THE RULE ALSO SAYS THAT IF THERE IS A THIRD PARTY CLAIM THE SAME MUST BE STATED IN THE CERTICATE OF SALE. IN THIS CASE THE THIRD PARTY CLAIM IS NOT STATED IN THE CERTIFICATE OF SALE. IS THE CERTIFICATE OF SALE VOID?

NO BECAUSE THERE IS AN INDEMNITY BOND POSTED. THE PURPOSE OF THE RULE IS TO PROTECT THE THIRD PARTY CLAIMANT. THE INDEMNITY BOND PROVIDES SUCH PROTECTION. BESIDES,  RULES OF PROCEDURE ARE CREATED TO PROMOTE THE ENDS OF JUSTICE, AS SUCH,THEIR STRICT AND RIGID APPLICATION MUST ALWAYS BE ESCHEWED WHEN IT WOULD SUBVE1IITS PRIMARY OBJECTIVE.46 THE GENERAL POLICY OF THE LAW IS TO SUSTAIN THE VALIDITY OFEXECUTION SALES. AS THE FINAL STAGE IN LITIGATION, EXECUTION SHOULD NOT BEFRUSTRATED EXCEPT FOR SERIOUS REASONS DEMANDED BY JUSTICE AND EQUITY.

THE RULE READS:

Section 26. Certificate of sale where property claimed by third person. – When a property sold by virtue of a writ of execution has been claimed by athird person, the certificate of sale to be issued by the sheriff pursuant tosections 23, 24 and 25 of this Rule shall make express mention of the existence of such third-party claim.

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CASE 2020-0041: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. TEODORO ANSANO CALLEJA, y (G.R. No. 232455, DECEMBER 2, 2020, CAGUIOA, J.) (BRIEF TITLE: PEOPLE VS CALLEJA)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appeal is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated February 20, 2017 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 08223 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, accused-appellant Teodoro Ansano y Calleja is ACQUITTED of the crime charged on the ground of reasonable doubt, and is ORDERED IMMEDIATELY RELEASED from detention unless he is being lawfully held for another cause. Let an entry of final judgment be issued immediately.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Superintendent of New Bilibid Prisons for immediate implementation. The said Superintendent is ORDERED to REPORT to this Court within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision the action he has taken.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

ACCUSED WAS CONVICTED OF RAPE BY RTC. AFFIRMED BY CA. SUPREME COURT ACQUITTED HIM ON THE GROUND THAT THE TESTIMONY OF THE VICTIM WAS UNABLE TO PASS THE EXACTING TEST OF MORAL CERTAINTY THAT THE LAW DEMANDS AND THE RULES REQUIRE TO SATISFY THE PROSECUTION’S BURDEN OF OVERCOMING APPELLANT’S PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. RAPED HAPPENED IN APRIL 2005. THE VICTIM IDENTIFIED THE ACCUSED IN MARCH 2006. HER DESCRIPTION OF HIM IN 2005 VARY FROM HER DESCRIPTION IN 2006. SHE IDENTIFIED THE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE ACCUSED BUT ONLY ONE PHOTO WAS SHOWN. THE TEST EMPLOYED BY THE COURT WAS THE TOTALITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES  TEST.  SIGNIFICANT JURISPRUDENCE:

WHAT ARE THE FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE TOTALITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES TEST?

To reiterate, the totality of circumstances test requires the Court to look at the following factors in weighing the reliability of the out-of-court identification: (1) the witness’ opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness’ degree of attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the length of time between the crime and the identification; ( 5) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification; and (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure.

THE DEFENSE OF THE ACCUSED IS DENIAL AND ALIBI. ARE THESE NOT WEAK DEFENSES?

Also, while the defenses of denial and alibi are inherently weak, they are only so in the face of an effective identification64 which, as discussed, was not present in this case.

REMINDER OF THE COURT:

The Court thus takes this opportunity to remind courts that “[a] conviction for a crime rests on two bases: (I) credible and convincing testimony establishing the identity of the accused as the perpetrator of the crime; and (2) the prosecution proving beyond reasonable doubt that all elements of the crime are attributable to the accused.”62 “Proving the identity of the accused as the malefactor is the prosecution’s primary responsibility. Thus, in every criminal prosecution, the identity of the offender, like the crime itself, must be established by proof bey~md reasonable doubt. Indeed, the first duty of the prosecution is not to prove the crime but to prove the identity of the criminal, for even if the commission of the crime can be established, there can be no conviction without proof of identity of the criminal beyond reasonable doubt.”63

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4 CASES DECIDED IN 2020 FOR BAR REVIEW 

CASE 2000-0036: FELIX VS. VITRIOLO (G.R. No. 237129, 09 DEC 2020): VITRIOLO WAS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CHED. PETITIONER, A FACULTY MEMBER OF PLM, WROTE LETTERS TO RESPONDENT REQUESTING RESPONDENT TO INVESTIGATE  ALLEGED DIPLOMA MILL OPERATIONS OF PLM. RESPONDENT FAILED TO ANSWER SAID LETTERS AND CONDUCT INVESTIGATION. OMBUDSMAN RULED HIS OMISSION  CONSTITUTES GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY. HE WAS DISMISSED FROM THE SERVICE. ON APPEAL CA RULED RESPONDENT COMMITTED ONLY SIMPLE NEGLECT OF DUTY AND IMPOSED 30 DAYS SUSPENSION. EVIDENCE SHOWS HE REFERRED MATTER TO VARIOUS UNITS OF CHED. BUT SUPREME COURT REVERSED CA AND AFFIRMED OMBUDSMAN RULING. THE FACT IS RESPONDENT FAILED TO PROMPTLY ANSWERED PETITIONER’S LETTERS AND THE FACT THAT AFTER SO MANY YEARS THERE WAS NO RESULT OF INVESTIGATION SHOWS RESPONDENT DID NOT PERFORM HIS DUTY.  SIGNIFICANT RULING:

“Worse, in Vitriolo’s reply dated July 11, 4014 to Felix’s June 30, 2014 letter, he only gave the lame excuse that the one assigned for investigation has retired without turning over his findings. Vi riol◊ even admitted that as late as August 3, 2015, he was still making referrals for the investigation of the matter to different CHED offices. If Vitriolo truly ordered an investigation of the alleged diploma-mill operations of PLM and considering that five long years has passed since Felix first wrote the letters to Vitriolo regarding the matter, a definite finding should have already been arrived at.

What is apparent in Vitriolo’s actions is that he did not take the allegations of Felix seriously. His flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness to perform his official duties could have allowed the continuation of PLM’s illegal academic programs.

All told, Vitriolo’s failure to reply to the two letters sent by Felix is not a simple violation of Section 5 (a) ofR.A. No. 6713 but an omission that gave rise to a more serious problem of the possible continuation of the illegal programs and diploma-mill operations of PLM. Because of Vitriolo’s gross neglect of duty, the investigation was not undertaken and the possible administrative liabilities of those involved were not determined.”

CASE 2020-0037-MONTEHERMOSO VS BATUTO (G.R. NO. 246553, 02 DEC 2020). DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE RTC JUDGMENT HAS BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY PETITIONERS FILED SEVERAL PETITIONS IN VARIOUS FORA TO OVERTURN THE RTC JUDGMENT. THE SC DID NOT LOOK WITH FAVOR ON PETITIONERS’ ACTS AND WARNED PETITIONERS AND THEIR COUNSEL THAT ANY FURTHER ATTEMPT TO REVIVE THIS CASE IN WHATEVER FORM AND BEFORE ANY FORUM WILL BE SEVERELY SANCTIONED. SIGNIFICANT RULING:

“Spouses Aguilar v. The Manila Banking Corporation12 aptly held:

It is an important fundamental principle in the judicial system that every litigation must come to an end. Access to the courts is guaranteed. But there must be a limit thereto. Once a litigant’s rights have been adjudicated in a valid and final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an unbridled license to come back for another try. The prevailing party should not be harassed by subsequent suits. For, if endless litigations were to be encouraged, then unscrupulous litigants will multiply to the detriment of the administration of justice.”

CASE 2020-0038: VILLAMOR VS ATTY. JUMAO-AS (A.C. No. 8111, 09 DEC 2020) ATTY. JUMAO-AS ORGANIZED A LENDING CORPORATION FOR VILLAMOR. HE ARRANGED FOR A LOAN FOR SUCH LENDING CORP FROM A CERTAIN YU. LATER ATTY JUMAO-AS PUT UP A SINGLE PROPRIETORSHIP LENDING COMPANY FOR YU AND TOLD COLLECTORS OF VILLAMOR’S CORP TO TURN OVER THEIR COLLECTIONS TO YU’S COMPANY BECAUSE OF YU’S LOAN TO VILLAMOR’S CORP. THEN ATTY. JUMAO-AS SENT DEMAND LETTER TO VILLAMOR FOR PAYMENT OF HER COMPANY’S DEBT TO YU. VILLAMOR FILED ADMIN CASE AGAINST ATTY. JUMAO-AS. SC ADOPTED IBP RECOMMENDATION THAT ATTY JUMAO-AS BE SUSPENDED FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW FOR TWO YEARS. HE VIOLATED THE RULE ON CONFLICT OF INTEREST. SIGNIFICANT RULING:

“In Hornilla v. Salunat, the Court explained the concept of conflict of interest in this wise:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. The test is “whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client………”

CASE 2020-0039:         BUENAVENTURA VS ATTY. GILLE (A.C. No. 7446, 20 DEC 2020) ATTY GILLE BORROWED MONEY FROM HIS CLIENT MICHELLE BUENAVENTURA USING FAKE TITLE AS COLLATERAL. LATER HE ISSUED CHECK AS PAYMENT WHICH BOUNCED. COMPLAINT WAS FILED AT IBP. ATTY GILLE FAILED TO FILE ANSWER AND POSITION PAPER. IBP RECOMMENDED THAT HE BE SUSPENDED FOR TWO YEARS. SC DISBARRED HIM. SIGNIFICANT RULINGS:

BY BORROWING MONEY FROM HIS CLIENT WHAT RULE DID ATTY GILLE VIOLATE?

“Atty. Gille violated Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, which prohibits a lawyer from borrowing money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected, to wit:

CANON 16-A LAWYER SHALL HOIJ,D IN TRUST ALL MONIES AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENTS T AIT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.04 -A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by t e nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lefd money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance! necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.

It is undisputed that Atty. Gille secured a loan from Michelle. The mere act of borrowing money from his client is confidered unethical and an abuse of the latter’s confidence reposed upon him. I In doing so, Atty. Gille took advantage of his influence over his client Mi’rhelle. 10 Further, Michelle was at a disadvantage because of respondent’s abilit~ to use all the legal maneuverings to evade his obligation. 11”

BY GIVING AS COLLATERAL A FAKE TITLE AND BY ISSUING BOUNCED CHECK WHAT RULE DID ATTY GILLE VIOLATE?

“Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR provides that “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.” The “conduct” under the Rule does not pertain solely to a lawyer’s performance of professional duties. 15 It has long been settled that “[a] lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his or her professional or private capacity. The test is whether [a lawyer’s conduct manifests his or her wanting] in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or [unworthiness] to continue as an officer of the court.”

 

 

CASE 2020-0040: VICENTE T. GUERRERO, VS. PHIL. PHOENIX SURETY & INSURANCE, INC. (G.R. No. 223178, DECEMBER 9, 2020, CARANDANG, J.)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated June 23, 2015 and the Resolution dated January 20, 2016 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 101902 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Complaint in Civil Case No. 09-122267 is DISMISSED

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

GUERRERO’S CHEVROLET PICK-UP DRIVEN BY A CERTAIN CORDERO  COLLIDED WITH AN IZUZU SPORTIVO OWNED AND DRIVEN BY GATICALES. PHOENIX INSURANCE PAID DAMAGES TO GATICALES AND SUED GUERERO AND CORDERO. EVIDENCE OF PHONIX INSURANCE CONSISTED OF TESTIMONY OF SOLE WITNESS, ITS CLAIMS MANAGER, THE POLICE CERTIFICATE STATING AN ENTRY RECORDED IN THE POLICE BLOTTER AND PICTURES. THE BLOTTER SHOWS THAT THE CHEVROLET OVERLAPPED TO THE CENTER LINE OF THE HIGHWAY RESULTING TO THE ACCIDENT. RTC AND CA RULED THAT GUERRERO AND CORDERO ARE JOINTLY LIABLE. SC REVERSED THEIR DECISIONS ON THE GROUND THAT THE POLICE CERTIFICATION AND PICTURES, THE MAIN EVIDENCES, WERE IMPROPERLY PRESENTED. THE PHOENIX CLAIMS MANAGER IS NOT THE PROPER PARTY TO TESTIFY ON THE POLICE CERTIFICATE BECAUSE HE HAS NO PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF IT, NOR OF THE INCIDENT. THE BLOTTER ENTRY SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRESENTED BY THE POLICE OFFICER WHO PREPARED IT OR WHO HAS PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE INCIDENT. LIKEWISE THE PICTURES SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRESENTED BY THE ONE WHO TOOK THEM OR THE ONE WHO WAS AT THE SCENE SO HE CAN RELATE THE PICTURES TO THE OBJECTS WHOSE PICTURES WERE TAKEN.WITH THE INADMISSIBILITY OF THE POLICE CERTIFICATE AND THE PICTURES, RES IPSA LOQUITOR DOES NOT APPLY BECAUSE NEGLIGENCE WAS NOT PROVEN.

A POLICE BLOTTER IS ADMISSIBLE BEING AN EXCEPTION TO THE HEARSAY RULE BECAUSE IT IS AN ENTRY IN OFFICIAL RECORD. WHY WAS THIS RULE NOT APPLIED IN THIS CASE?

BECAUSE TO BE ADMISSIBLE THE SAID EVIDENCE MUST BE PRESENTED PROPERLY. IN THIS CASE, PHOENIX INSURANCE FAILED TO PRESENT THE POLICE CERTIFICATE PROPERLY.

“The strength of Phoenix’s claim for damages mainly rests on the admissibility and probative value of the police certificate ( embodying the contents of the police blotter) and the pictures of the damaged Isuzu. The lower courts both concluded that the police blotter is an exception to the hearsay rule because it is classified as an entry in official record, following Section 46, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.40

A police blotter entry, or a certification thereof, is admissible in evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule under Section 46, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. In order for it to be admissible, the said evidence must be properly presented in evidence. What must have been presented in evidence was either the police blotter itself or a copy thereof certified by its legal keeper.”

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CASE 123: MICHELLE A. BUENAVENTURA, VS. ATTY. DANY B. GILLE, (A.C. No. 7446, DECEMBER 20, 2020, PERCURIAM:) (SUBJECT/S: LAWYER BORROWING MONEY FROM CLIENT, GIVING FAKE TITLE AS COLLATERAL, ISSUING BOUNCED CHECK, NOT FILING ANSWER TO COMPLAINT AT IBP) (BRIEF TITLE: BUENAVENTURA VS ATTY. GILLE)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, Atty. Dany B. Gille is found GUILTY of violating Rules 1.01, 7.03, and 16.04, of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and of the Lawyer’s Oath. He is thus DISBARRED from the practice of law and his name stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys, effective immediately.

Atty. Dany B. Gille is also hereby meted a FINE in the amount PS,000.00 for his disobedience to the orders of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant to be entered into Atty. Dany B. Gille’s records. Copies shall likewise be furnished to the (a) Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which shall disseminate copies thereof to all its Chapters; (b) all administrative and quasi-judicial agencies of the Republic of the Philippines; and ( c) the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts concerned.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

ATTY GILLE BORROWED MONEY FROM HIS CLIENT MICHELLE BUENAVENTURA USING FAKE TITLE AS COLLATERAL. LATER HE ISSUED CHECK AS PAYMENT WHICH BOUNCED. COMPLAINT WAS FILED AT IBP. ATTY GILLE FAILED TO FILE ANSWER AND POSITION PAPER. IBP RECOMMENDED THAT HE BE SUSPENDED FOR TWO YEARS. SC DISBARRED HIM.

BY BORROWING MONEY FROM HIS CLIENT WHAT RULE DID ATTY GILLE VIOLATE?

“Atty. Gille violated Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, which prohibits a lawyer from borrowing money from his clie t unless the client’s interests are fully protected, to wit:

CANON 16-A LAWYER SHALL HOIJ,D IN TRUST ALL MONIES AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENTS T AIT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.04 -A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by t e nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lefd money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance! necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.

It is undisputed that Atty. Gille secured a loan from Michelle. The mere act of borrowing money from his client is confidered unethical and an abuse of the latter’s confidence reposed upon him. I In doing so, Atty. Gille took advantage of his influence over his client Mi’rhelle. 10 Further, Michelle was at a disadvantage because of respondent’s abilit~ to use all the legal maneuverings to evade his obligation. 11”

BY GIVING AS COLLATERAL A FAKE TITLE AND BY ISSUING BOUNCED CHECK WHAT RULE DID ATTY GILLE VIOLATE?

“Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR provides that “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.” The “conduct” under the Rule does not pertain solely to a lawyer’s performance of professional duties. 15 It has long been settled that “[a] lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his or her professional or private capacity. The test is whether [a lawyer’s conduct manifests his or her wanting] in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or [unworthiness] to continue as an officer of the court.”

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CASE 2020-0038: ADELITA S. VILLAMOR, VS. ATTY. ELY GALLAND A. JUMAO-AS, (A.C. No. 8111, DECEMBER 9, 2020, HERNANDO, J.) (SUBJECT/S: CONFLICT OF INTEREST) (BRIEF TITLE: VILLAMOR VS ATTY. JUMAO-AS)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the Court finds Atty. Ely Galland A. Jumao-as GUILTY of violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03 Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years and WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

Respondent is DIRECTED to file a Manifestation to this Court that his suspension has started, copy furnished all courts and quasi-judical bodies where he has entered his appearance as counsel.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to the personal record of Atty. Ely Galland A. Jumao-as as an attorney-at-law; to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and to the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts throughout the country for their guidance and information.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

ATTY. JUMAO-AS ORGANIZED A LENDING CORPORATION FOR VILLAMOR. HE ARRANGED FOR A LOAN FOR SUCH LENDING CORP FROM A CERTAIN YU. LATER ATTY JUMAO-AS PUT UP A SINGLE PROPRIETORSHIP LENDING COMPANY FOR YU AND TOLD COLLECTORS OF VILLAMOR’S CORP TO TURN OVER THEIR COLLECTIONS TO YU’S COMPANY BECAUSE OF YU’S LOAN TO VILLAMOR’S CORP. THEN ATTY. JUMAO-AS SENT DEMAND LETTER TO VILLAMOR FOR PAYMENT OF HER COMPANY’S DENT TO YU. VILLAMOR FILED ADMIN CASE AGAINST ATTY. JUMAO-AS. SC ADOPTED IBP RECOMMENDATION THAT ATTY JUMAO-AS BE SUSPENDED FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW FOR TWO YEARS.

WHEN IS THERE CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

“In Hornilla v. Salunat, the Court explained the concept of conflict of interest in this wise:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. The test is “whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client.” This rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.”  

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CASE 2020-0037: MARILYN B. MONTEHERMOSO, TANNY B. MONTEHERMOSO, EMMA B. MONTEHERMOSO OLIVEROS, EVA B. MONTEHERMOSO, TERESA B. MONTEHERMOSO CARIG, and SALVAR B. MONTEHERMOSO VS. ROMEO BATUTO AND ARNEL BATUTO (G.R. NO. 246553, DECEMBER 2, 2020, LAZARO-JAVIER, J.) (SUBJECT/S: FINALITY OF JUDGMENT; LITIGATION MUST END)(BRIEF TITLE: MONTEHERMOSO ET AL VS BATUTO ET AL)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED and the assailed Resolutions dated February 13, 2019 and April 10, 2019 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 159373, AFFIRMED.

Petitioners as well as their counsel Atty. Belinda M. Nagui or any other counsel who may take over this case are STERNLY WARNED that any further attempt to revive this case in whatever form and before any forum will be severely sanctioned.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE RTC JUDGMENT HAS BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY PETITIONERS FILED SEVERAL PETITIONS IN VARIOUS FORA TO OVERTURN THE RTC JUDGMENT. THE SC DID NOT LOOK WITH FAVOR ON PETITIONERS’ ACTS AND WARNED PETITIONERS AND THEIR COUNSEL THAT ANY FURTHER ATTEMPT TO REVIVE THIS CASE IN WHATEVER FORM AND BEFORE ANY FORUM WILL BE SEVERELY SANCTIONED.

JURISPRUDENCE CITED BY THE COURT:

“Spouses Aguilar v. The Manila Banking Corporation12 aptly held:

It is an important fundamental principle in the judicial system that every litigation must come to an end. Access to the courts is guaranteed. But there must be a limit thereto. Once a litigant’s rights have been adjudicated in a valid and final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an unbridled license to come back for another try. The prevailing party should not be harassed by subsequent suits. For, if endless litigations were to be encouraged, then unscrupulous litigants will multiply to the detriment of the administration of justice.

The Court reminds petitioners’ counsel of the duty of lawyers who, as officers of the court, must see to it that the orderly administration of justice must not be unduly impeded. It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman on the intricacies and vagaries of the law, on the merit or lack of merit of his case. If he finds that his client’s cause is defenseless, then it is his bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than traverse the incontrove1tible. A lawyer must resist the whims and caprices of his client, and temper his client’s propensity to litigate. A lawyer’s oath to uphold the cause of justice is superior to his duty to his client; its primacy is indisputable.

There should be a greater awareness on the part of litigants and counsels that the time of the judiciary, much more so of this Court, is too valuable to be wasted or frittered away by effo1ts, far from commendable, to evade the operation of a decision final and executory, especially so, where, as shown in the present case, the clear and manifest absence of any right calling for vindication, is quite obvious and indisputable.

Verily, by the undue delay in the execution of a final judgment in their favor, respondents have suffered an injustice. The Court views with disfavor the unjustified delay in the enforcement of the final decision and orders in the present case. Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing paiiy should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge devised by the losing paity. Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment sets at naught the role of courts in disposing justiciable controversies with finality.”

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SC-2020-0036: OLIVER B. FELIX, VS. JULITO D. VITRIOLO, (G.R. No. 237129, DECEMBER 9, 2020, CARANDANG, J.) (SUBJECT/S: GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY) (BRIEF TITLE: FELIX VS VITRIOLO)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the Decision dated August 1 7, 2017 and the Resolution dated January 29, 2018 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 149063 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Court finds respondent Julito D. Vitriolo GUILTY of gross neglect of duty and imposes upon him the penalty of DISMISSAL from service, with the corresponding accessory penalties.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

RESPONDENT WAS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CHED. PETITIONER, A FACULTY MEMBER OF PLM, WROTE LETTERS TO RESPONDENT REQUESTING RESPONDENT TO INVESTIGATE  ALLEGED DIPLOMA MILL OPERATIONS OF PLM. RESPONDENT FAILED TO ANSWER SAID LETTERS AND CONDUCT INVESTIGATION. OMBUDSMAN RULED HIS OMISSION  CONSTITUTES GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY. HE WAS DISMISSED FROM THE SERVICE. ON APPEAL CA RULED RESPONDENT COMMITTED ONLY SIMPLE NEGLECT OF DUTY AND IMPOSED 30 DAYS SUSPENSION. EVIDENCE SHOWS HE REFERRED MATTER TO VARIOUS UNITS OF CHED. BUT SUPREME COURT REVERSED CA AND AFFIRMED OMBUDSMAN RULING. THE FACT IS RESPONDENT FAILED TO PROMPTLY ANSWERED PETITIONER’S LETTERS AND THE FACT THAT AFTER SO MANY YEARS THERE WAS NO RESULT OF INVESTIGATION SHOWS RESPONDENT DID NOT PERFORM HIS DUTY.  SOME SIGNIFICANT FACTS ARE STATED BELOW:

“Worse, in Vitriolo’s reply dated July 11, 4014 to Felix’s June 30, 2014 letter, he only gave the lame excuse that the one assigned for investigation has retired without turning over his findings. Vi riol◊ even admitted that as late as August 3, 2015, he was still making referrals for the investigation of the matter to different CHED offices. If Vitriolo truly ordered an investigation of the alleged diploma-mill operations of PLM and considering that five long years has passed since Felix first wrote the letters to Vitriolo regarding the matter, a definite finding should have already been arrived at.

What is apparent in Vitriolo’s actions is that he did not take the allegations of Felix seriously. His flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness to perform his official duties could have allowed the continuation of PLM’s illegal academic programs.

All told, Vitriolo’s failure to reply to the two letters sent by Felix is not a simple violation of Section 5 (a) ofR.A. No. 6713 but an omission that gave rise to a more serious problem of the possible continuation of the illegal programs and diploma-mill operations of PLM. Because of Vitriolo’s gross neglect of duty, the investigation was not undertaken and the possible administrative liabilities of those involved were not determined.”

WHAT IS GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY?

Gross neglect of duty or gross negligence refers to negligence characterized by the want of even slight care, or by acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to the consequences, insofar as other persons may be affected. It is the omission of that care that even inattentive and thoughtless men never fail to give to their own property. It denotes a flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness of a person to perform a duty. In cases involving public officials, gross negligence occurs when a breach of duty is flagrant and palpable. 43

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CASE 2020-0035: MARTIN N. LIM, JR., VS. MARIA CONCEPCION D. LINDAG (G.R. No. 234405, DECEMBER 9, 2020, PERALTA, C. J.) (SUBJECT/S: ESTAFA THROUGH MISAPPROPRIATION; MORAL DAMAGES; EXEMPLARY DAMAGES; CIVIL LIABILITY IN CASE OF ACQUITTAL) (BRIEF TITLE: LIM VS LINDAG)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The May 18, 2017 Decision and the September 6, 2017 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 104923 are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Accordingly, petitioner Martin N. Lim, Jr. is ORDERED to PAY the amount of Pl,300,000.00 as actual damages subject to six percent (6%) per annum interest rate from the date of finality of this decision until fully paid. The award of moral damages, exemplary damages and attorney’s fees are DELETED.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

RESPONDENT BOUGHT CONDO FROM SAN JOSE BUILDERS. PETITIONER WAS SALES AGENT OF SELLER. RESPONDENT ISSUED TWO CROSSED  CHECKS TO PETITIONER. ONE CHECK AS PAYMENT AND ANOTHER FOR EXPENSES TO TRANSFER TITLE. RESPONDENT DISCOVERED PAYMENT CHECK WAS ENCASHED BUT NOT BY SAN JOSE BUILDERS. PETITIONER SAID HE WAS ROBBED AND CHECKS WERE TAKEN FROM HIM. ESTAFA CASES WERE FILED. BUT THESE CASES WERE DISMISSED ON GROUND OF REASONABLE DOUBT. BUT COURT (CA) RULED THAT PETITIONER IS CIVILLY LIABLE FOR VALUE OF CHECKS, MORAL DAMAGES, NOMINAL DAMAGES AND ATTYS FEES. SC AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION DELETING MORAL DAMAGES, NOMINAL DAMAGES AND ATTYS FEES.

PETITIONER ARGUES THAT SINCE HE WAS FOUND WITHOUT CRIM LIABILITY HE MUST NOT ALSO BE CIVILLY LIABLE. IS PETITIONER CORRECT?

NO. IN CASE ACQUITTAL IS BASED ON REASONABLE DOUBT, ACCUSED MAY BE HELD CIVILLY LIABLE.

“Petitioner maintains that there is no basis for civil liability because he was found innocent of the crime charged. Such argument must fail. It is entrenched in jurisprudence, that the extinction of penal action does not carry with it the extinction of civil action where (a) the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only a preponderance of evidence is required; (b) the court declares that the liability of the accused is only civil; and ( c) the civil liability of the accused does not arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused was acquitted.”

IS PETITIONER ENTITLED TO MORAL DAMAGES, EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND ATTYS FEES?

NO. TO BE ENTITLED TO MORAL DAMAGES THERE MUST BE PLEADING AND PROOF. EXEMPLARY DAMAGES ARE ONLY IN ADDITION TO MORAL DAMAGES WHICH MUST BE PROVEN FIRST.

WHAT ARE THE FOUR ELEMENTS OF ESTAFA THRU MISAPPROPRIATION?

  • that the money, good or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, of on commission, of for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same;
  • that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt;
  • that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and
  • that there is demand made by the offended party on the offender.

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CASE 2020-0034: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. JEFFREY DERECO y HAYAG (SUBJECT/S: RAPE) (G.R. NO. 243625, DECEMBER 2, 2020, PERALTA, C.J) (BRIEF TITLE: PEOPLE VS DERECO)

DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the April 11, 2017 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CR-HC No. 08172, finding accused-appellant Jeffrey Dereco y Hayag GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of rape, as defined in and penalized under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, is AFFIRMED. He is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and ORDERED to PAY AAA the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P75,000.00 as exemplary damages. All monetary awards for damages shall earn an interest rate of six percent ( 6%) per annum to be computed from the finality of this Decision until fully paid.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

ACCUSED COULD ALSO HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF RAPE THROUGH SEXUAL ASSAULT PUNISHABLE UNDER PAR 2 OF ART 266-A OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE. BUT THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO INCLUDE IT IN THE INFORMATION.

It is fundamental that, in criminal prosecutions, every element constituting the offense must be alleged in the Information before an accused can be convicted of the crime charged. No matter how conclusive and convincing the evidence of guilt may be, an accused cannot be convicted of any offense unless it is charged in the information on which he is tried or is necessarily included therein. To convict him of a ground not alleged while he is concentrating his defense against the ground alleged would plainly be unfair and underhanded. Thus, the prosecuting arm of the Government is reminded that prudence should be exercised as to what should be alleged in the Information, as the latter is the battleground of all criminal cases. 29

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the consolidated petitions for review filed by petitioners Maximo A. Borje (G.R. No. 236810) and Conchita M. Dela Cruz (G.R. No. 236807), dated March 12, 2018, and March 9, 2018, respectively, are DENIED for lack of merit. Consequently, the Decision of the Sandiganbayan dated November 10, 2016, in the consolidated Criminal Case No. 28100 and Criminal Case No. 28253, and its Resolution dated January 15, 2018 are AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that in Criminal Case No. 28100 for Estafa through Falsification of Official/Commercial Documents, petitioners are sentenced to suffer imprisonment of from six ( 6) months and one ( 1) day of prisi6n correccional, as minimum, to ten (10) years and one (1) day of prisi6n mayor-, as maximum, and to pay a FINE in the amount of P5,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

SO ORDERED.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

CAN A  PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL BE CONVICTED UNDER A LAW PUNISHING ACTS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS?

YES IF THE PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL IS IN CONSPIRACY WITH THE PUBLIC OFFICIALS.

“As discussed above, petitioner Dela Cruz is in conspiracy with the other co-accused. Without the participation of petitioner Dela Cruz in the falsification of Cash Invoices through her sole proprietorship DEB, the reimbursements amounting to PS, 166,539.00 would not have been facilitated. Thus, since petitioner Dela Cruz is in conspiracy with the other co-accused, it is of no moment that she is not a public officer. She is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 3(e) ofR.A. No. 3019.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition 1s GRANTED. The Court hereby resolves as follows:

l) The Entry of Judgment dated January 17, 2019 issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 08782 is RECALLED; and

2) The Decision dated February 28, 2018 as well as the Resolutions dated July 25, 2018 and January 27, 2020 rendered by the CA in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 08782 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, petitioner Amroding Lindongan y Ampatu (Lindongan) is ACQUITTED of the crime charged. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections, Muntinlupa City is ORDERED to: (a) cause the immediate release of l indongan. unless he is being lawfully held in custody for any other reason; and (b) inform the  Court of the action taken within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision.

Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

SO ORDERED.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

As a final word, the Court, in People v. Miranda,60 issued a definitive reminder to prosecutors when dealing with drugs cases. It declared that “[since] the [procedural] requirements are clearly set forth in the law, then the State retains the positive duty to account for any lapses in the chain of custody of the drugs/items seized from the accused, regardless of whether or not the defense raises the same in the proceedings a quo; otherwise, it risks the possibility of having a conviction overturned on grounds that go into the evidence’s integrity and evidentiary value, albeit the same are raised only for the first time on appeal, or even not raised, become apparent upon further review.”61 So must it be in the case of Lindongan, whose acquittal is clearly in order.”

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DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is hereby DECLARED entitled to retirement benefits and other allowances under Republic Act No. 9946 equivalent to a five-year lump sum of the salary and other allowances he was receiving at the time of his removal by impeachment on May 29, 2012. The claim of survivorship benefits of Ma. Cristina Roco Corona is hereby GRANTED reckoned from the lapse of the five-year period on the lump sum. All benefits granted herein are ordered immediately RELEASED to his widow and beneficiary, Ma. Cristina Roco Corona, subject to usual clearances.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

Mere eligibility for optional retirement at the time of death, not actual retirement, suffices to grant survivorship benefits upon the bereaved surviving spouse of a deceased magistrate. Even if so declared ineligible for said optional retirement, there is established ground to deem the former Chief Justice as involuntarily retired due to the events immediately following his ouster by impeachment. As Chief Justice Corona had met the qualifications for an optional retirement, his widow, who likewise possesses none of the disqualifications under AC No. 81-2010 for entitlement, must be consoled by the grant of the benefits that are legally accorded to her as a surviving legitimate spouse of a magistrate under RA 9946.

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CASE 2020-33: IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF AMPAROAND WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUZ IN FAVOR OF ALICIA JASPER LUCENA; RELISSA SANTOS LUCENA AND FRANCIS B. LUCENA VS. SARAH ELAGO, KABATAAN PARTY LIST REPRESENTATIVE; ALEX DANDAY, NATIONAL SPOKEPERSON OF ANAKBAYAN, CHARY DELOS REYES, BIANCA GACOS, JAY ROVEN BALAIS VILLAFUERTE, MEMBERS AND RECRUITERS OF ANAK BAYAN; AND ATTY. MARIA KRISTINA CONTI (G.R. NO. 252120, SEPTEMBER 15 2020, PERALTA, J.) (SUBJECT/S: WRIT OF AMPARO; WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS)

DISPOSITIVE:

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the prayers for the issuance of the writs of amparo and habeas corpus are hereby DENIED. The instant petition is DISMISSED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT DOES WRIT OF AMPARO COVER?

ONLY EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS AND ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES.

REASON OF THE COURT IN NOT GRANTING WRIT OF AMPARO AND HABEAS CORPUS?

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CASE 2020-0032: ATTY. BRYAN S. LIM AND NESTOR R. WONG  VS. ATTY. JOSE C. TABILIRAN JR. (A.C. NO. 10793, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020, PERLAS-BERNABE, J.) (SUBJECT/S: DUTIES OF NOTARY PUBLIC)

DISPOSITIVE:

  SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

CAN A NOTARY PUBLIC NOTARIZE A DEED OF SALE EXECUTED BY HIS SON?

NO, AS EXPLAINED BY THE COURT:

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CASE 2020-0031: HENRIETTA PICZON-HERMOSO AND BEZALEL PICSON HERMOSO VS. ATTY. SYLVESTER C. PARADO (A.C. NO. 8116, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020, PERLAS-BERNABE, J.) (SUBJCET/S: NOTARIAL PRACTICE)

DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Sylvester C. Parado GUILTY of violating the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, the Court hereby SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years; PROHIBITS him from being commissioned as a notary public for a period of two (2) years; and REVOKES his incumbent comm1ss10n as a notary public, if any. He is WARNED that a repetition of the same offense or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. The suspension from the practice of law, the prohibition from being commissioned as notary public, and the revocation of his notarial commission, if any, shall take effect immediately upon receipt of this Decision by Atty. Parado. He is DIRECTED to immediately file a Manifestation to the Court that his suspension has started, copy furnished all courts and quasi-judicial bodies where he has entered his appearance as counsel.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to Atty. Parado’s personal record as an attorney; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for its information and guidance; and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

ATTY. PARADO NOTARIZED A DOCUMENT EVEN THOUGH THOUGH THE PARTIES WERE NOT PRESENT. ALSO, ATTY PARADO DID NOT FILE ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST HIM. FURTHER, HE WAS NOT COMMISSIONED AS NOTARY PUBLIC WHEN HE NOTARIZED SUBJECT DEEDS.

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CASE 2020-30: VALENTINO C. LEANO VS. ATTY. HIPOLITO C. SALATAN (A.C. NO. 12551, JULY 8, 2020, INTING, J.) (SUBJECT/S: NOTARIAL PRACTICE)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, The Court finds respondent ATTY. HIPOLITO C. SALATAN GUILTY of violating the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and the Code of professional Responsibility.  Accordingly, his Notarial Commission, if still existing, in REVOKED, and he is hereby PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED  fron being reappointed as Notary Public. Respondent ATTY. HIPOLITO C. SALATAN is likewise SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of I (1 ) year effective immediately.

Let copies of this DECISION be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to Responded ATTY. HIPOLITO C. SALATAN personal record, and the Office of Court Administrator and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for their information and guidelines.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

THE NOTARY PUBLIC LEFT BLANK THE PROOF OF IDENTITY ON THE NOTARIZED DOCUMENT. THIS PROVES THAT THE NOTARY PUBLIC DID NOT PROPERLY IDENTIFY THE PERSON SIGNING THE NOTARIZED DOCUMENT.

WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE REMEDY?

IT APPEARS FROM THE DECISION THAT THERE SHOULD BE AN ALLEGATION THAT THE PERSON SIGNING THE DOCUMENT IS PERSONALLY KNOWN TO THE NOTARY PUBLIC. THE REQUIREMENT OF COMPETENT PROOF OF IDENTITY MAY BE DISPENSED WITH.

THE NOTARY PUBLIC DELEGATED THE RECORDING OF HIS NOTARIZED DOCUMENTS IN THE NOTARIAL REGISTER. IS THIS PROPER?

NO BECAUSE A NOTARY PUBLIC IS PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR ALL ENTRIES IN HIS NOTARIAL REGISTER.

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CASE 2020-29: ABOITIZ POWER RENEWABLES, INC./TIWI CONSOLIDATED UNION (APRI-TCU) ON BEHALF OF FE R. RUBIO, MA. VICTORIA A. BELMES, ELEANORE D. DALDE, RICARDO B. COMPETENTE, AND VICENTE A. MIRNDILLA; APRI-TIWI EMPLOYEES LABOR UNION (APRI-TIELU) ON BEHALF OF VIRGILIO G. MACINAS, ROY D. DACULLO, ARNEL C. REPOTENTE, AND JAIME B. SARILLA; AND APRI-TIWI GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANT PROFESSIONAL/TECHNICAL EMPLOYEES UNION-DIALOGWU (APRI-TGPPPTEU-D) ON BEHALF OF VENER I. DELA ROSA, ARVID G. MUNI, ALVIN Y. SALONGA, ALVIN M. ENGUERO, MA. BLANCA M. ENGUERO, MA. BLANCA I. FALCON, AND SALVE V. LIZARDO, VS. ABOITIZ POWER RENEWABLES, INC., MICHAEL B. PIERCE, ATTY. MARTIN JOHN YASAY, JUAN FELIPE ALFONSO, ARNEL SUMAGUI, WILFREDO G. SARMAGO, AND ROBERTO L. URBANO, (G.R. NO. 237036, JULY 8, 2020, DELOS-SANTOS, J.)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED.  The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR Sp No. 141100 dated February 21, 2017 and the Resolution dated January 11, 2018 are hereby AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT IS THE RULE WHEN EVIDENCE IS CLEAR IN SUPPORT OF THE DECISION OF THE LABOR ARBITER, NLRC AND COURT OF APPEALS?

UNANIMOUS FINDINGS OF THE THREE TRIBUNALS (LABOR ARBITER, NLRC AND CA) ARE BINDING UPON THE SUPREME COURT.

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CASE 2020-28: EDDA V. HENSON VS. COMMISSION ON AUDIT (G.R. NO. 230185, JULY 7, 2020, HERNANDO, J.) (SUBJECT/S: NOTICE OF DISALLOWANCE)

DISPOSITIVE:

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

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