CASE 2016-0009: CALTEX (PHILIPPINES) INC. ET AL VS. MA. FLOR A. SINGZON AGUIRRE ET AL. (G.R. NOS. 170746-47, 09 MARCH 2016, REYES, J.) (SUBJECT/S: PRESCRIPTION; FINALITY OF JUDGMENT; VOLUNTARY APPEARANCE AS SUBSTITUTE TO RECEIPT OF SUMMONS) (BRIEF TITLE: CALTEX ET AL VS AGUIRRE ET AL.)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petition is denied for lack of merit.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

WHAT IS PRESCRIPTION?

 

“The Court shall first discuss the prescription of the respondents’ cause of action against the petitioners.  Article 1106 of the Civil Code provides that “[b]y prescription, one acquires ownership and other real rights through the lapse of time in the manner and under the conditions laid down by law. In the same way, rights and conditions are lost by prescription.”  The first sentence refers to acquisitive prescription, which is a mode of “acquisition of ownership and other real rights through the lapse of time in the manner and under the conditions provided by law.”  The second sentence pertains to extinctive prescription “whereby rights and actions are lost by the lapse of time.”38  It is also called limitation of action.39   This case involves the latter type of prescription, the purpose of which is to protect the diligent and vigilant, not the person who sleeps on his rights, forgetting them and taking no trouble of exercising them one way or another to show that he truly has such rights.40  The rationale behind the prescription of actions is to suppress fraudulent and stale claims from springing up at great distances of time when all the proper vouchers and evidence are lost or the facts have become obscure from the lapse of time or defective memory or death or removal of witnesses.”

 

PRESCRIPTION CAN BE WAIVED BUT IT CAN NO LONGER BE WAIVED IF THERE IS ALREADY A FINAL JUDGMENT?

 

“The Court has previously held that the right to prescription may be waived or renounced pursuant to Article 1112 of the Civil Code:46

 

Art. 1112. Persons with capacity to alienate property may renounce prescription already obtained, but not the right to prescribe in the future.

 

Prescription is deemed to have been tacitly renounced when the renunciation results from acts which imply the abandonment of the right acquired.

 

In the instant case, not only once did the petitioners expressly renounce their defense of prescription.  Nonetheless, the Court cannot consider such waiver as basis in order to reverse the rulings of the courts below as the dismissal of the complaint had become final and binding on both the petitioners and the respondents.”

 

RESPONDENT CALTEX SAID THE FINAL JUDGMENT DOES NOT APPLY TO THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT SERVED SUMMONS. IS THEIR CONTENTION CORRECT?

 

NO. THEIR FILING OF A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION CONSTITUTES  VOLUNTARY APPEARANCE. THEY ARE DEEMED TO HAVE VOLUNTARILY SUBMITTED THEMSELVES TO THE COURT’S JURISDICTION.

 

“It is not contested that the petitioners were not served with summons by the RTC of Catbalogan prior to the motu proprio dismissal of the respondents’ complaint.  It is basic that courts acquire jurisdiction over the persons of defendants or respondents, by a valid service of summons or through their voluntary submission.47  Not having been served with summons, the petitioners were not initially considered as under the jurisdiction of the court.  However, the petitioners voluntarily submitted themselves under the jurisdiction of the RTC of Catbalogan by filing their motion for reconsideration.   Section 20, Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Court states:

 

Sec. 20. Voluntary appearance. – The defendant’s voluntary appearance in the action shall be equivalent to service of summons.  The inclusion in a motion to dismiss of other grounds aside from lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant shall not be deemed a voluntary appearance.

 

In Philippine Commercial International Bank v. Spouses Dy Hong Pi, et al.,48 the Court explained the following:

 

(1)  Special appearance operates as an exception to the general rule on voluntary appearance;

 

(2)  Accordingly, objections to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the defendant must be explicitly made, i.e., set forth in an unequivocal manner; and

 

(3)  Failure to do so constitutes voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the court, especially in instances where a pleading or motion seeking affirmative relief is filed and submitted to the court for resolution.49”

 

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SCD-2016-0009-CALTEX

 

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