G.R. No. 156759, June 05, 2013
ALLEN A. MACASAET, NICOLAS V. QUIJANO, JR., ISAIAS ALBANO, LILY REYES, JANET BAY, JESUS R. GALANG, AND RANDY HAGOS, Petitioners, v. FRANCISCO R. CO, JR., Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
On October 3, 2000, petitioners moved for the dismissal of the complaint through counsel’s special appearance in their behalf,alleging lack of jurisdiction over their persons because of the invalid and ineffectual substituted service of summons. They contended that the sheriff had made no prior attempt to serve the summons personally on each of them in accordance with Section 6 and Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. They further moved to drop Abante Tonite as a defendant by virtue of its being neither a natural nor a juridical person that could be impleaded as a party in a civil action.
This is to certify that on September 18, 2000, I caused the service of summons together with copies of complaint and its annexes attached thereto, upon the following:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
1. Defendant Allen A. Macasaet, President/Publisher of defendant Abante Tonite, at Monica Publishing Corporation, Rooms 301-305 3rd Floor, BF Condominium Building, Solana corner A. Soriano Streets, Intramuros, Manila, thru his secretary Lu-Ann Quijano, a person of sufficient age and discretion working therein, who signed to acknowledge receipt thereof. That effort (sic) to serve the said summons personally upon said defendant were made, but the same were ineffectual and unavailing on the ground that per information of Ms. Quijano said defendant is always out and not available, thus, substituted service was applied;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
2. Defendant Nicolas V. Quijano, at the same address, thru his wife Lu-Ann Quijano, who signed to acknowledge receipt thereof. That effort (sic) to serve the said summons personally upon said defendant were made, but the same were ineffectual and unavailing on the ground that per information of (sic) his wife said defendant is always out and not available, thus, substituted service was applied;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
3. Defendants Isaias Albano, Janet Bay, Jesus R. Galang, Randy Hagos and Lily Reyes, at the same address, thru Rene Esleta, Editorial Assistant of defendant Abante Tonite, a person of sufficient age and discretion working therein who signed to acknowledge receipt thereof. That effort (sic) to serve the said summons personally upon said defendants were made, but the same were ineffectual and unavailing on the ground that per information of (sic) Mr. Esleta said defendants is (sic) always roving outside and gathering news, thus, substituted service was applied.
Original copy of summons is therefore, respectfully returned duly served.
Manila, September 22, 2000.
Records show that the summonses were served upon Allen A. Macasaet, President/Publisher of defendant Abante Tonite, through Lu-Ann Quijano; upon defendants Isaias Albano, Janet Bay, Jesus R. Galang, Randy Hagos and Lily Reyes, through Rene Esleta, Editorial Assistant of defendant Abante Tonite (p. 12, records). It is apparent in the Sheriff’s Return that on several occasions, efforts to served (sic) the summons personally upon all the defendants were ineffectual as they were always out and unavailable, so the Sheriff served the summons by substituted service.Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, asserting that the sheriff had immediately resorted to substituted service of the summons upon being informed that they were not around to personally receive the summons, and that Abante Tonite, being neither a natural nor a juridical person, could not be made a party in the action.
Considering that summonses cannot be served within a reasonable time to the persons of all the defendants, hence substituted service of summonses was validly applied. Secretary of the President who is duly authorized to receive such document, the wife of the defendant and the Editorial Assistant of the defendant, were considered competent persons with sufficient discretion to realize the importance of the legal papers served upon them and to relay the same to the defendants named therein (Sec. 7, Rule 14, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure).
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion to Dismiss is hereby DENIED for lack of merit..
Accordingly, defendants are directed to file their Answers to the complaint within the period still open to them, pursuant to the rules.
The allegations of the defendants that the Sheriff immediately resorted to substituted service of summons upon them when he was informed that they were not around to personally receive the same is untenable. During the hearing of the herein motion, Sheriff Raul Medina of this Branch of the Court testified that on September 18, 2000 in the morning, he went to the office address of the defendants to personally serve summons upon them but they were out. So he went back to serve said summons upon the defendants in the afternoon of the same day, but then again he was informed that the defendants were out and unavailable, and that they were always out because they were roving around to gather news. Because of that information and because of the nature of the work of the defendants that they are always on field, so the sheriff resorted to substituted service of summons. There was substantial compliance with the rules, considering the difficulty to serve the summons personally to them because of the nature of their job which compels them to be always out and unavailable. Additional matters regarding the service of summons upon defendants were sufficiently discussed in the Order of this Court dated March 12, 2001.Regarding the impleading of Abante Tonite as defendant, the RTC held, viz:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
“Abante Tonite” is a daily tabloid of general circulation. People all over the country could buy a copy of “Abante Tonite” and read it, hence, it is for public consumption. The persons who organized said publication obviously derived profit from it. The information written on the said newspaper will affect the person, natural as well as juridical, who was stated or implicated in the news. All of these facts imply that “Abante Tonite” falls within the provision of Art. 44 (2 or 3), New Civil Code. Assuming arguendo that “Abante Tonite” is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it is deemed a corporation by estoppels considering that it possesses attributes of a juridical person, otherwise it cannot be held liable for damages and injuries it may inflict to other persons.Undaunted, petitioners brought a petition for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus in the CA to nullify the orders of the RTC dated March 12, 2001 and June 29, 2001.
We find petitioners’ argument without merit. The rule is that certiorari will prosper only if there is a showing of grave abuse of discretion or an act without or in excess of jurisdiction committed by the respondent Judge. A judicious reading of the questioned orders of respondent Judge would show that the same were not issued in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment. There are factual bases and legal justification for the assailed orders. From the Return, the sheriff certified that “effort to serve the summons personally xxx were made, but the same were ineffectual and unavailing xxx.and upholding the trial court’s finding that there was a substantial compliance with the rules that allowed the substituted service.
Anent the issue raised by petitioners that “Abante Tonite is neither a natural or juridical person who may be a party in a civil case,” and therefore the case against it must be dismissed and/or dropped, is untenable.On January 13, 2003, the CA denied petitioners’ motion for reconsideration.10
The respondent Judge, in denying petitioners’ motion for reconsideration, held that:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
Abante Tonite’s newspapers are circulated nationwide, showing ostensibly its being a corporate entity, thus the doctrine of corporation by estoppel may appropriately apply.
An unincorporated association, which represents itself to be a corporation, will be estopped from denying its corporate capacity in a suit against it by a third person who relies in good faith on such representation.
There being no grave abuse of discretion committed by the respondent Judge in the exercise of his jurisdiction, the relief of prohibition is also unavailable.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed Orders of respondent Judge are AFFIRMED.
The settled rule is that the aim and object of an action determine its character. Whether a proceeding is in rem, or in personam, or quasi in rem for that matter, is determined by its nature and purpose, and by these only. A proceeding in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights and obligations brought against the person and is based on the jurisdiction of the person, although it may involve his right to, or the exercise of ownership of, specific property, or seek to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the mandate of the court. The purpose of a proceeding in personam is to impose, through the judgment of a court, some responsibility or liability directly upon the person of the defendant. Of this character are suits to compel a defendant to specifically perform some act or actions to fasten a pecuniary liability on him. An action in personam is said to be one which has for its object a judgment against the person, as distinguished from a judgment against the prop[er]ty to determine its state. It has been held that an action in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights or obligations; such action is brought against the person. As far as suits for injunctive relief are concerned, it is well-settled that it is an injunctive act in personam. In Combs v. Combs, the appellate court held that proceedings to enforce personal rights and obligations and in which personal judgments are rendered adjusting the rights and obligations between the affected parties is in personam. Actions for recovery of real property are in personam.On the other hand, a proceeding quasi in rem is one brought against persons seeking to subject the property of such persons to the discharge of the claims assailed. In an action quasi in rem, an individual is named as defendant and the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interests therein to the obligation or loan burdening the property. Actions quasi in rem deal with the status, ownership or liability of a particular property but which are intended to operate on these questions only as between the particular parties to the proceedings and not to ascertain or cut off the rights or interests of all possible claimants. The judgments therein are binding only upon the parties who joined in the action.
1Rollo, pp. 53-59; penned by Associate Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria (retired), with Associate Justice Teodoro P. Regino (retired) and Associate Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador concurring.cralawlibrary
2 Id. at 61-62
3 Id. at 134-136.cralawlibrary
4 Id. at 108.cralawlibrary
5 Id. at 109.cralawlibrary
6 Id. at 134-136.cralawlibrary
7 Id. at 149-150.cralawlibrary
8 Supra note 1, at 56.cralawlibrary
9 Id. at 57-58.cralawlibrary
10 Supra note 2.cralawlibrary
11Rollo, p. 33.cralawlibrary
12Gomez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127692, March 10, 2004,425 SCRA 98, 104.cralawlibrary
13 G.R. No. 158407, January 17, 2005, 448 SCRA 663, 673-674.cralawlibrary
14Perkin Elmer Singapore Pte Ltd. v. Dakila Trading Corporation, G.R. No. 172242, August 14, 2007, 530 SCRA 170, 187-188; Romualdez-Licaros v. Licaros, G.R. No. 150656, April 29, 2003, 401 SCRA 762, 769-770; Valmonte v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 108538, January 22, 1996, 252 SCRA 92.cralawlibrary
15 Pursuant to Section 20, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, the defendant’s voluntary appearance in the action is equivalent to the service of summons; see also Davao Light and Power Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 93262, November 29, 1991, 204 SCRA 343, 347; Munar v. Court of Appeals, 238 SCRA 372, 379; Minucher v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 97765, September 24, 1992, 214 SCRA 242, 250.cralawlibrary
16 Section 1, Rule 14, Rules of Court.cralawlibrary
17 Section2, Rule 14, Rules of Court.cralawlibrary
19Umandap vs. Sabio, Jr., G.R. No. 140244, August 29, 2000, 339 SCRA 243, 247.cralawlibrary
20Vda. de Macoy v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 95871, February 13, 1992, 206 SCRA 244, 251; Venturanza v. Court of Appeals, No. L-7776, December 11, 1987, 156 SCRA 305, 311-312; Filmerco Commercial Co., Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, No. L-70661, April 9, 1987, 149 SCRA 193, 198-199; Consolidated Plywood Industries, Inc. v. Breva, No. L-82811, October 18, 1988, 166 SCRA 589, 593-594; Philippine National Construction Corp. v. Ferrer-Calleja, No. L-80485, November 11, 1988, 167 SCRA 294, 301.cralawlibrary
21La Naval Drug Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 103200, August 31, 1994, 236 SCRA 78, 86.cralawlibrary
22Keister v. Navarro, No. L-29067, May 31, 1977, 77 SCRA 209, 214-215; Vda. de Macoy v. Court of Appeals, supra note 20.cralawlibrary
23Samartino v. Raon, G.R. No. 131482, July 3, 2002, 383 SCRA 664, 670.cralawlibrary
24 Section 6, Rule 14, Rules of Court.cralawlibrary
25 Section 7, Rule 14, Rules of Court.cralawlibrary
26Keister v. Navarro, supra note 22, at 215.cralawlibrary
27 Ang Ping v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126947, July 15, 1999, 310 SCRA 343, 350.cralawlibrary
28Keister v. Navarro,supra, note 22; see also Wong v. Factor-Koyama, G.R. No. 183802, September 17, 2009, 600 SCRA 256, 268; Jose v. Boyon, G.R. No. 147369, October 23, 2003, 414 SCRA 216, 222; Casimina v. Legaspi, G.R. No. 147530. June 29, 2005, 462 SCRA 171, 177-178; Oaminal v. Castillo, G.R. No. 152776, October 8, 2003, 413 SCRA 189, 196-197; Laus v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 101256, March 8, 1993, 219 SCRA 688, 699.cralawlibrary
29E.g., in Orosa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 118696, September 3, 1996, 261 SCRA 376, 379, where the substituted service was sustained notwithstanding thatthe requirement for the showing of impossibility of personal service of summons was not complied with by the sheriff before resorting to substituted service, because the defendants subsequently filed a motion for additional time to file answer, which was deemed a waiver of objection to the personal jurisdiction of the trial court.cralawlibrary
30Robinson v. Miralles, G.R. No. 163584, December 12, 2006, 510 SCRA 678, 684.