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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 55864. April 12, 1982.]

HEIRS OF MANUEL OLANGO, Represented by PEDRO OLANGO (deceased) and now Substituted by Mr. LIBRADO OLANGO, CANDIDA O. TURCULAS and PABLO OLANGO, Petitioners, v. THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Branch I, now Presided by Hon. TAGO M. BANTUAS, District Judge, and Represented by BENITO SABANA, and the Director of Lands, Respondents.

SYNOPSIS


In a land registration case, the Court of First Instance rendered a decision in favor of the oppositors, herein private respondents, on grounds of adverse possession and ownership of the contested parcel of land for more than 50 years. The applicants, herein petitioners, after receipt of a copy of the decision seasonably filed their notice of appeal, cash bond and a Motion for Extension to File Typewritten Record on Appeal. but they set the hearing of said motion after the expiration of the reglementary appeal period. The motion, however, was never resolved because after petitioners failed to appear on the scheduled hearing, no further resetting was made. Two days after the lapse of the 30-day extension prayed for, petitioners filed the record on appeal but did not bother to appear at the hearing of the approval of said record on appeal. Upon motion of private respondents, the trial court disapproved the record on appeal on the ground that the same was filed out of time.

On petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court held that a motion for extension of the period within which to file record on appeal did not automatically suspend the running of the 30-day reglementary period within which to appeal; and that where there is no showing that appeal is meritorious, a suspension of the Rule on fixing the period within which to appeal is not legally justified.

Petition denied.


SYLLABUS


1. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; APPEAL; RECORD ON APPEAL; MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF PERIOD TO FILE SAME; DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY STAY THE REGLEMENTARY PERIOD FOR PERFECTING AN APPEAL; CASE AT BAR. — The submission of the petitioners that the 30-day reglementary period for perfecting their appeal was extended by virtue of the mere filing of a motion for a 30-day extension to file a typewritten record on appeal, is devoid of merit. The motion for extension of the period within which to file the record on appeal did not suspend the running of the period. The petitioners received a copy of the decision on December 29, 1978. Hence, they had until January 28 within which to perfect their appeal. They filed a motion for extension of thirty (30) days within which to file their typewritten record on appeal of January 25, 1979 and set the hearing thereof on January 29, 1979 after the expiration of the reglementary period of thirty days. But on the date of hearing neither the petitioners nor their counsel appeared.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; DISAPPROVAL THEREOF WARRANTED IN CASE AT BAR. — When the applicants. petitioners herein, filed a typewritten record on appeal on March 1, 1979 after the expiration of the 30-day reglementary period for perfecting an appeal, the same was set for hearing on March 2, 1979. On said date the counsel for the applicants, again failed to appear. The counsel for private respondents appeared and opposed the motion for the approval of the record on appeal because the same was filed out of time. It is clear, therefore, that the respondent court did not commit a grave abuse of discretion in disapproving the record on appeal.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN DUE COURSE WHEN NOT PERFECTED SEASONABLY UNLESS THE SAME IS LEGALLY JUSTIFIED; INSTANT APPEAL, NOT MERITORIOUS. — "It is true that the trial court is vested with discretion to allow or admit an appeal filed out of time. However, this discretion is not unconditional.’Interest of Justice’ cannot be invoked against the rule fixing the period within which to appeal without legal justification to warrant such action." (Rose Industries, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., 87 SCRA 452, citing Trans-Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., 78 SCRA 154, 161: See also Ong Tiao Seng v. Court of Appeals, Et. Al. 81 SCRA 417, 423; Toribio v. Bidin, 96 SCRA 361, 366.) In the present case, there is no showing that the appeal of the petitioners is meritorious in the sense that they can overcome the factual finding of the trial court that the private respondents have "been in actual, physical, open, public, adverse, peaceful, notorious, continuous and in actual possession and cultivation over Lot 2161 in the concept of an owner for more than fifty (50) years including that of their predecessors of interest. . . ." Perhaps this explains the lackadaisical actuations of the counsel for the petitioners who did not appear at the hearing of the motion for extension of the period within which to file a typewritten record on appeal and at the hearing of the approval of the said record on appeal.


D E C I S I O N


FERNANDEZ, J.:


This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus seeking the following relief:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Supreme Court, that this Petition be given due course, and that an Order be issued directing the respondent Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental, Branch I, now presided by Honorable Tago M. Bantuas to reconsider its Order, disapproving Petitioners Typewritten Record on Appeal and Cash Appeal Bond, to reinstate Petitioners Appeal, there being no objections to it, as incomplete or defective, and to forward the typewritten Record on Appeal to the Honorable Court of Appeals.

"And to Order the private respondents not to dispose the land in question, and to restrain them from making any negotiations regarding the land in question, for the protection of Petitioners, and to give justice and equity, its true meaning.

"OTHER RELIEFS AND REMEDIES DEEMED JUST, PROPER AND EQUITABLE ARE ALSO PRAYED FOR.

"Cagayan de Oro City (For Manila) December 24, 1980." 1

The record shows that on November 12, 1965 the petitioners filed with the Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental, Branch I, an application for registration of title to Lot No. 2161 of the Cagayan Cadastre, with an area of 25,566 square meters, docketed as Land Registration Case No. N-305; that the application was opposed by the private respondents on grounds of adverse possession and ownership; that in December, 1978 then Judge Benjamin K. Gorospe, rendered a decision in LRC No. N-305 in favor of the oppositors, the private respondents herein, the pertinent portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"From the evidence established therefore, the oppositors, Heirs of Benito Sabana has been in actual, physical, open, public, adverse, peaceful, notorious, continuous and in actual possession and cultivation over Lot 2161 in the concept of owner for more than fifty (50) years including that of their predecessors-in-interest, which has already ripen into ownership. (Ongsiaco v. Masilang, 50 Phil. 380, 386).

"WHEREFORE, oppositors, Heirs of Benito Sabana having duly established to the satisfaction of this Court their ownership of Lot 2161, Cagayan Cadastre, containing an area of 25,566 square meters, described in Plan SWO-8604 and there being no evidence to the contrary, said parcel of land is hereby adjudicated in equal shares in favor of the oppositors, the Heirs of Benito Sabana, namely:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. EULALIO SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; FORTUNATA SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; and LUCIO SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married, all residents of Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, as Heirs of Francisco Sabana;

"2. FILOMENA SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; NICOLASA SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; and FELIZA SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married, all residents of Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, as Heirs of Bonifacio Sabana;

"3. ASUNCION NARO, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married and a resident of Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, as Heir of Asusana Sabana;

"4. LEONCIO SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married and a resident of Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, as Heir of Restituto Sabana;

"5. ROLANDO DAIGDIGAN, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; EUFEMIA DAIGDIGAN, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; and MANSUETO DAIGDIGAN, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married, all residents of Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, as Heirs of Filomena Sabana;

"6. IRENEA GAYLOA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; REBECCA GAYLOA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; EDNA GAYLOA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married; and PIO GAYLOA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married, all residents of Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, as Heirs of Columba Sabana; and

"7. LORENZO SABANA, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married and a resident of Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

"Once this decision becomes final, let an Order for the issuance of the decree and the corresponding title issue in accordance with law.

"SO ORDERED.

"City of Cagayan de Oro, December 11, 1978.

"(SGD) BENJAMIN K. GOROSPE

Judge" ; 2

that the applicants, petitioners herein, received a copy of the decision on December 29, 1978; that on January 25, 1979, the petitioners filed with the trial court a notice of appeal, a cash appeal bond and a motion for extension for thirty (30) days within which to file a typewritten record on appeal; that the motion for extension was set for hearing on January 29, 1979 at 9:00 o’clock in the morning; that on January 29, 1979 at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, neither the applicants, the petitioners herein, nor their counsel appeared before the trial court; that in view thereof, the trial court reset the hearing of said motion for extension to the next available date; that the motion for extension was not reset and was not acted upon; that on March 1, 1979 the applicants, petitioners herein, filed with the trial court the typewritten record on appeal setting the same for hearing on March 2, 1979 at 9:00 o’clock in the morning; that on March 2, 1979 neither the petitioners herein, nor their counsel appeared; that counsel for the oppositors, private respondents herein, appeared and objected to the approval of the record on appeal; that the trial court disapproved the record on appeal; and the trial court also denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners herein.

Hence this petition for certiorari and mandamus.

The petitioners contend that the respondent court committed a grave abuse of discretion in disapproving the record on appeal because:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The undisputed material facts of the case are as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. On December 29, 1978, petitioners received the decision, dated December 11, 1978, of respondent trial court in Land Registration Case No. 305;

"2. On January 25, 1979, or within the 30-day reglementary period to perfect their appeal, the petitioners filed their notice of appeal, cash bond and a Motion for Extension of Time To File Typewritten Record On Appeal;

"3. The Motion For Extension Of Time To File Typewritten Record on Appeal was originally set for hearing on January 29, 1979;

"4. On January 29, 1979, the respondent trial court reset the hearing of the Motion For Extension Of Time To File Typewritten Record on Appeal to the next available date of the court’s calendar;

"5. Until March 1, 1979, respondent trial court had not set for hearing nor resolved the afore-said Motion For Extension Of Time To File Typewritten Record On Appeal;

"6. On March 1, 1979, petitioners filed their Typewritten Record on Appeal;

"7. On March 2, 1979, respondent trial court disapproved the Cash Appeal Bond and the Record on Appeal on the ground that the same were filed out of time;

"8. On March 22, 1979, petitioners filed their Motion For Reconsideration of the Order, dated March 2, 1979; and

"9. On November 21, 1980, respondent trial court denied the said Motion For Reconsideration.

"From the foregoing undisputed material facts of the case, it is easy to see that when petitioners filed their Motion For Extension Of Time To File Typewritten Record On Appeal on January 25, 1979, they still had three (3) days left within which to perfect their appeal. Pending the resolution of that Motion, the 3-day period left to perfect the appeal would still be available to the petitioners.

"Since there is no dispute that the Motion for Extension of Time to File Typewritten Record on Appeal was filed on time, the said Motion must, therefore, be granted in line with the decisions in Baquiran v. Court of Appeals, 2 SCRA 873 and Galima v. Court of Appeals, 16 SCRA 140.

"When, on January 29, 1979, respondent trial court reset the hearing of the Motion For Extension Of Time To File Typewritten Record on Appeal, the running of the period to perfect the appeal was implicitly stayed and petitioners still had three (3) days to perfect their appeal.

"Considering that until March 1, 1979, when petitioners filed their Typewritten Record on Appeal, the respondent trial court had not yet set for hearing nor resolved the Motion For Extension Of Time To File Typewritten Record On Appeal, the 3-day period left for petitioners to perfect their appeal was still intact and undiminished.

"Therefore, the filing of the Record on Appeal on March 1, 1979, was well within the 30-day reglementary period given by the rules to petitioners to perfect their appeal. In fact, it was three (3) days before the 30-day period to appeal would lapse.

"It should need no further elaboration, therefore, to reach the ineluctable conclusion that the disapproval on March 2, 1979, by respondent trial court of the Record on Appeal and the Cash Appeal Bond, on the ground that the same were filed out of time, was grossly erroneous.

"The questioned Orders, dated March 2, 1979 and November 21, 1980, must, consequently, be set aside and rendered null and void." 3

The submission of the petitioners is devoid of merit. The motion for extension of the period within which to file the record on appeal did not suspend the running of the period within which to appeal. 4

The petitioners received a copy of the decision on December 29, 1978. Hence, they had until January 28 within which to perfect their appeal. They filed a motion for extension of thirty (30) days within which to file their typewritten record on appeal on January 25, 1979 and set the hearing thereof on January 29, 1979 after the expiration of the reglementary period of thirty days. On the date of hearing neither the petitioners nor their counsel appeared. Hence, the trial court issued the following order:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"When the ‘Notice of Appeal and with Cash Appeal Bond with Motion for Extension of Time to File Typewritten Record on Appeal’ was called movant counsel Atty. Galdino Jardin was not around; Atty. Arturo Legaspi appeared for the oppositors and so, the motion cannot be heard.

"Let it be set to the next available date of the calendar of this court.

"SO ORDERED.

"Dictated in open Court this 29th day of January, 1979, at Cagayan de Oro City.

"(SGD) TAGO M. BANTUAS

Executive Judge" 5

When the applicants, petitioners herein, filed a typewritten record on appeal, the same was set for hearing on March 2, 1979. On said date the counsel for the applicants, petitioners herein, again failed to appear. The counsel for the private respondents appeared and opposed the motion for the approval of the record on appeal because the same was filed out of time. Hence the trial court disapproved the record on appeal in the following order:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"When the motion for approval of the record on appeal was called at 10:57 in the morning, movant counsel, Atty. Galdino Jardin, was not around. Atty. Arturo Legaspi, for the oppositors-appellees, informed the Court that he was only furnished a copy of the record on appeal yesterday, March 1, 1979, and he has no time to make a written opposition to the approval of the record on appeal, but in open Court he argued that the motion for the approval of the record on appeal be denied because the record on appeal was filed out of time.

"Considering that Atty. Galdino Jardin for the second time was not again present, the record on appeal and the appeal bond are hereby disapproved.

"SO ORDERED.

"Dictated in open Court this 2nd day of March, 1979, at Cagayan de Oro City.

"(SGD) TAGO M. BANTUAS

Executive Judge" 6

The respondent court denied the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration of the order disapproving the record on appeal because:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"On January 25, 1979 the applicants, through counsel, filed a ‘Notice of Appeal, And With Cash Appeal Bond, With Motion for Extension of Time to file Typewritten Record on Appeal’ and set it for hearing on January 29, 1979 at 9:00 A.M. The request for extension of time to file record on appeal mixed up into the notice of appeal and the filing of the cash bond was not resolved on January 29, 1979 as set because neither movant counsel nor his clients were around, while the oppositors through counsel were. The Court ordered the motion to be reset to the next available date (p. 216, records). On March 1, 1979 the applicants through counsel filed their Record on Appeal and set it for approval on March 2, 1979 at 9:00 A.M. Again neither the applicants nor their counsel was around when the record on appeal was called for approval on March 2, 1979 and the counsel for the oppositors was allowed to argue and point out that the record on appeal was filed out of time. For this reason and considering that movant counsel then seemed not to mind the calendar of the case for two times already, the Court disapproved the record on appeal and entered its said order of March 2, 1979.

"Among others and in effect, movant counsel now argues that his appearance in the motion for the approval of the record on appeal is not necessary, for the Court has to approve the record on appeal anyway. Set against the objection of the oppositors that the record on appeal was filed out of time, the contention of the movant is without merit.

"Upon the other hand, movant contends that the record on appeal was filed within the reglementary period. In effect he states that although his clients received the decision in the case on December 29, 1979, the reglementary period was extended by virture of his mere filing of a 30-day period of extension. As earlier pointed out, the motion for extension of time was never resolved and movant counsel did not bother to have it so resolved. He contends that because there was no order denying it, it is deemed granted. He did not mind the direction of the Court that the motion be reset for hearing, and he likewise, perhaps, did not give thought to the fact that the Judge was only acting as Executive Judge and cannot check up the daily calendars of all salas of the Court.

"But even granting, arguendo, that the motion for extension of time should be deemed granted, yet the record on appeal filed on March 1, 1979 is still out of time. For, as pointed out by Atty. Arturo Legaspi, counsel for the oppositors, in his opposition to the motion for reconsideration,." . . the 30 day extension period by applicants.. should be computed from January 28, 1979, the last day of the original 30 day period from December 29, 1978 when applicants received the decision. Therefore, when applicants filed the record on appeal on March 1, 1979, 32 days had already elapsed. . . ." 7

From the facts of record, it is clear that the respondent court did not commit a grave abuse of discretion in disapproving the record on appeal.

In Rose Industries, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., 8 the Supreme Court held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"It is true that the trial court is vested with discretion to allow or admit an appeal filed out of time. However, this discretion is not unconditional.’Interest of justice’ cannot be invoked against the rule fixing the period within which to appeal without legal justification to warrant such action (Trans-Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., 78 SCRA 154, 161).

"In those cases where the Supreme Court justified a suspension of the Rules to afford a litigant an opportunity to prosecute his appeal filed out of time, emphasis was stressed on the merit of the appeal to justify consideration from the appellate tribunal. (Ong Tiao Seng v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., 81 SCRA 417, 423)

"In the instant case, there is no showing of a legal justification to sanction the resolution of the Court of Appeals dated February 1, 1977 allowing the appeal of the private respondent Sentinel Insurance Company, Inc." 9

It was also held in Toribio v. Bidin, 10 that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Although the Court has ruled that the Rules should be liberally interpreted as regards the period to perfect an appeal so as to afford litigants just, speedy and inexpensive determination of their controversy, the discretion to allow or admit an appeal filed out of time should be based upon legal justification. The Court has also stressed the merit of the appeal to justify a review on equitable grounds. (Catinding v. Court of Appeals, L-33063, Feb. 28, 1979; and other cases cited therein, 88 SCRA 675: Rose Industries Inc. v. Court of Appeals, L-45581, Dec. 29, 1978, and other cases cited therein, 87 SCRA 452).

"In the instant case, the decision of the trial court appears to be correct so that the allowance of the appeal of the petitioner would serve no useful purpose and would merely delay the administration of justice. . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the case at bar, the trial court ordered the registration of the title to the land in question in the name of the private respondents because:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"From the evidence established therefore, the oppositors, Heirs of Benito Sabana has been in actual, physical, open, public adverse, peaceful, notorious, continuous and in actual possession and cultivation over Lot 2161 in the concept of owner for more than fifty (50) years including that of their predecessors-in-interest, which has already ripened into ownership. (Osingsiaco v. Masilang, 50 Phil. 380, 386)" 11

There is no showing that the appeal of the petitioners is meritorious in the sense that they can overcome the factual finding of the trial court that the private respondents have "been in actual, physical, open, public, adverse, peaceful, notorious, continuous and in actual possession and cultivation over Lot 2161 in the concept of owner for more than fifty (50) years including that of their predecessors-in-interest..." Perhaps this explains the lackadaisical actuations of the counsel for the petitioners who did not appear at the hearing of the motion for extension of the period within which to file a typewritten record on appeal and at the hearing of the approval of the said record on appeal.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and mandamus is hereby denied and the orders sought to be set aside are affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Makasiar, Guerrero, Melencio-Herrera and Plana, JJ., concur.

Teehankee, Acting C.J., concurs in the result.

Endnotes:



1. Rollo, pp. 12-13.

2. Rollo, pp. 28-29.

3. Memorandum for the Petitioners, Rollo, pp. 102-103.

4. Roque v. Gunigundo, 89 SCRA 178.

5. Rollo, p. 35.

6. Rollo, p. 36.

7. Rollo, pp. 45-46.

8. 87 SCRA, 452.

9. Ibid., pp. 457-458.

10. 96 SCRA 361, 366.

11. Rollo, p. 28.

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