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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 7927. August 8, 1913. ]

JUAN BARRAMEDA, Petitioner, v. PERCY M. MOIR (Judge of the First Instance), ET AL., Respondents.

Rafael de la Sierra for Petitioner.

Thos. L. Hartigan, W.A. Kincaid, and Jose Robles Lahesa for respondent Judge Moir.

Facundo Salazar in his own behalf.

Manly & McMahon for respondent Valera Basmayor.

SYLLABUS


1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; JUSTICE OF THE PEACE; EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION TO TRY REAL ESTATE ACTIONS BELOW A SPECIFIED SUM HELD VOID. — Acts No. 2041 and 2131, in so far as they attempt to confer exclusive jurisdiction or exclusive original jurisdiction upon courts of justices of the peace to try to real-estate actions where the amount involve does not exceed P200, are void because they conflict with section 9 of the Philippine Bill, which confirms the original jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance in "all civil actions which involve the title to or possession of real property, or of any interest therein." as provided in Act No. 136, section 56, paragraph 2 of the Philippine Commission.

2. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; JUSTICE OF THE PEACE; CONCURRENT JURISDICTION TO TRY REAL-ESTATE ACTIONS WITHIN CERTAIN LIMITS VOID. — For the reason that the incidental causes in the same Acts, providing the justice of peace shall have concurrent jurisdiction with Courts of First Instance to try real-estate actions where the amount involved exceeds P200 but is less than P600, are supplemental and ancillary to those void provisions which attempt to confer exclusive original jurisdiction upon justices of the peace where the amount involved is less than P200, the said clauses are also void.

3. ID.; STATUTE IN PART; EFFECT UPON THE REMAINDER. — The general rule is that where a part of a statute is void as repugnant to the Organic Law, while another part is valid, the valid portion, if separable from the invalid, may stand and be enforced. But in order to do this, the valid portion must be so far independent of the invalid portion that it is fair to presume that if the Legislature would have enacted it by itself if they has supposed that they could not constitutionally enact the other. Enough must remain to make a complete intelligible, and valid statute, which carries our the legislative intent. The void provisions must be eliminated without causing results affecting the main purpose of the Act in a manner contrary to the intention of the Legislature. The language used in the invalid part of a statute can have no legal force or efficacy for any purpose whatever, and, what remains must express the legislative will independently of the void part, since the court has no power to legislate.


D E C I S I O N


TRENT, J.:


This is an original application for a writ of mandamus. Petitioner relates that he was defendant in a suit brought before a justice of the peace to try title to parcel of land; that a case was decided adversely to him; that he appealed to the Court of First Instance; and that the judge of that court, on motion of the appellee, dismissed the appeal with directions to the justice of the peace to proceed with the enforcement of the judgment. At the request of the petitioner, a preliminary injunction was issued by this court to stay the execution of the judgment, and he now prays that the respondent judge be ordered to proceed with the case on appeal. The said judge has demurred to the complaint on the ground that it does not state the facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The basis of the demurrer is that Acts No. 2041 and 2131, conferring original jurisdiction upon justices of the peace to try title to real estate, are inconsistent with and repugnant to the Philippine Bill of July 1, 1902. By Act No. 2041, section 3, it was provided:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Justice of the peace shall have exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate questions for title to real estate or any interest therein when the value of the property in litigation does not exceed two hundred pesos, and where such value exceeds two hundred pesos but is less that six hundred pesos the justice of the peace shall have jurisdiction concurrent with the Court of First Instance."cralaw virtua1aw library

By Act No. 2131, section 1, the above provision was amended by substituting "exclusive original jurisdiction" for "exclusive jurisdiction."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the case of Weigall v. Shuster (11 Phil. Rep., 340) it was held that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Courts of First Instance, as fixed by section 9 of the Philippine Bill, may be added to but not diminished by the Philippine Legislature. This holding has never been questioned, and it seems unnecessary now to discuss the grounds upon which it was based. Therefore, there will be sufficient reason for declaring the disputed provisions of Acts No. 2041 and 2131 repugnant to the Philippine Bill and, consequently, void, if they attempt to curtail the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance where the title to realty is involved. The original jurisdiction of those courts extends to "all civil actions which involves the title to or possession of real property, or of any interest therein." except in forcible entry and detainer cases. (Act No. 136, sec. 56, par. 2) Some one has said that there is no more comprehensive word in the English language than the word "all." If this word is given its natural and unrestricted meaning, there is no case involving the title to real estate which Courts of First Instance are not authorized to hear and determine under the Organic Law, and that being supreme, any Act of the Philippine Legislature which attempts in any manner to curtail such jurisdiction must be held void. Acts No. 2041 and 2131 confer the original jurisdiction upon justices of the peace to try to real estate and provide that it shall be exclusive in cases where the value of property in litigation does not exceed P200. It is the word "exclusive" susceptible of a construction that would still give Courts of First Instance original jurisdiction to try title to real estate where the value of the property in litigation does not exceed P200? By no possible means can exclusive jurisdiction to try a specific class of cases be construed so as to permit of another court entertaining jurisdiction over such cases. To give grant of unrestricted exclusive over a specific class of litigation to one court its only proper sense, all other courts must be barred from exercising jurisdiction in such cases. To hold that another court has jurisdiction also in such cases is to destroy the grant of exclusive jurisdiction given to the first. It is no longer exclusive when shared by another court, but merely concurrent. Were the disputed provisions of Acts Nos. 2041 and 2131 allowed to stand therefore, the necessary result would be to deprived Courts of First Instance of their original jurisdiction to try cases where the title to realty valued at not more than P200 was involved. This applies, whether the phrase, "exclusive jurisdiction" or "exclusive original jurisdiction" be used. The Philippine Legislature can not deprived Courts of First Instance of any of the jurisdiction conferred upon them by the Organic Law. Upon this ground alone, then, Acts Nos. 2041 and 2131, in so far as they attempt to confer exclusive original jurisdiction upon courts of justice of the peace to try cases involving title to realty valued at not more than P200, must be declared void.

There remains to be considered the concurrent jurisdiction conferred upon justices of the peace by the disputed provisions of those Acts in cases where the amount in controversy exceeds P200, but is less than P600.

The general rule is that where part of a statute is void, as repugnant to the Organic Law, while another part is valid, the valid portion, if separable from the invalid, may stand and be enforced. But in order to do this, the valid portion must be so far independent of the invalid portion that it is fair to presume that the Legislature would have enacted it by itself it they had supposed that they could not constitutionally enact the other. (Mutual Loan Co. v. Martell, 200, Mass., 482; 86 N.E., 916; 128 A.S.R., 446; Supervisors of Holmes Co. v. Black Creek Drainage District, 99 Miss., 739; 55 Sou., 963.) Enough must remain to make a complete, intelligible, and valid statute, which carries out the legislative intent. (Pearson v. Bass, 132 Ga., 117; 63 S.E., 798.) The void provisions must be eliminated without causing results affecting the main purpose of the Act in a manner contrary to the intention of the Legislature. (State v. A.C.L.R. Co., 56 Fla., 617, 642; 47 Sou., 969; Harper v. Galloway, 58 Fla., 255; 51 Sou., 226; 26 L.R.A.N.S., 794; Cannolly v. Union Sewer Pipe Co., 184 U.S. 540, 565; People v. Strassheim, 240 Ill., 279, 300; 88 N.E., 821; 22 L.R.A.N.S., 1135; State v. Cognevich 124 La., 414; 50 Sou., 439.) The language used in the invalid part of a statute can have no legal force or efficacy for any purpose whatever, and what remains must express the legislative will independently of the void part, since the court has no power to legislate. (State v. Junkin, 85 Neb., 1; 122 N.W., 473; 23 L.R.A.N.S., 839.)

Courts of justices of the peace are courts of limited and inferior jurisdiction. They are most inferior courts in our judicial system. Where they have jurisdiction at all, it has never been limited by the significance of the particular case. On the contrary, the province of those courts, as is well known, is to handle precisely such cases. If litigation be divided into important and unimportant cases, then assuredly, to justice of the peace fall only the unimportant. And when the division of jurisdiction in a particular class of cases is based upon the amount in controversy, as is the case with the provisions of Acts No. 2041 and 2131 in question, a law providing that because of the inferior amount in controversy a case should go to the Court of First Instance, while another case of the same nature, because of its greater amount, could be tried before a justice of the peace, would be a anomaly and at war with the only logical distribution of jurisdiction. In other words, the case of A v. B is too small and inconsequential to be tried before a justice of the peace, and must be tried in the Court of First Instance; while the case of C v. D, being of a larger amount, may be tried by a justice of the peace. Such reasoning has never heretofore been used by the Legislature in distributing jurisdiction over litigation between Courts of First Instance and justice of the peace courts. It seems clear that the concurrent jurisdiction in cases were the amount involved is more than P200 but less than P600, was meant only as supplemental and ancillary to exclusive jurisdiction over cases not exceeding P200. This concurrent jurisdiction must therefore be considered as inseparable from and absolutely dependent upon the exercise of that exclusive jurisdiction which has already been declared void. The concurrent jurisdiction must therefore be declared void also.

Other additional jurisdiction granted to justice of the peace by Acts No. 2041 and 2131 is not before the court. We need only say that such other additional jurisdiction bears no relation whatever to those void provisions of the statutes which provide for jurisdiction in real-estate actions; and applying the same rules to the rest of the Act which we have applied to the clause conferring concurrent jurisdiction in real-estate actions between the amounts of P200 and P600, we are clearly of the opinion that the validity of the remainder of this Act is not in any case dependent upon the said void provision.

In conclusion, it seems advisable to state that the able brief of counsel for the respondent judge is based upon the a priori assumption that the original jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance in real-estate actions is, by the Organic Law, made exclusive. We have found it quite unnecessary to postulate any such theory in disposing of the case. Nor has it been necessary to rely upon the second point made by counsel to the effect that jurisdiction in real-estate actions had never been conferred upon justices of the peace in the United States or England.

The judgment of the justice of the peace which it is desired to have the respondent judge in this action review in absolute nullity. The respondent judge acquired jurisdiction of the cause only for purpose of dismissing the appeal, and in further directing the justice of the peace to proceed with the execution of the void judgment, the respondent judge was in error.

The preliminary injunction granted by this court, staying the execution of the judgment, will be made permanent, and the writ of mandamus prayed for must be denied. The petitioner will pay the costs of the cause. This opinion will be substituted for the one handed down by this court in the same case at the close of the last term. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson and Moreland, JJ., concur.

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