G.R. No. 185922, January 15, 2014 - HEIRS OF DR. MARIANO FAVIS, SR., REPRESENTED BY THEIR CO-HEIRS AND ATTORNEYS-IN-FACT MERCEDES A. FAVIS AND NELLY FAVIS-VILLAFUERTE, Petitioners, v. JUANA GONZALES, HER SON MARIANO G. FAVIS, MA. THERESA JOANA D. FAVIS, JAMES MARK D. FAVIS, ALL MINORS REPRESENTED HEREIN BY THEIR PARENTS, SPS. MARIANO FAVIS AND LARCELITA D. FAVIS, Respondents.
G.R. No. 185922, January 15, 2014
HEIRS OF DR. MARIANO FAVIS, SR., REPRESENTED BY THEIR CO–HEIRS AND ATTORNEYS–IN–FACT MERCEDES A. FAVIS AND NELLY FAVIS–VILLAFUERTE, Petitioners, v. JUANA GONZALES, HER SON MARIANO G. FAVIS, MA. THERESA JOANA D. FAVIS, JAMES MARK D. FAVIS, ALL MINORS REPRESENTED HEREIN BY THEIR PARENTS, SPS. MARIANO FAVIS AND LARCELITA D. FAVIS, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
1. A parcel of residential land located at Bonifacio St. Brgy. 1, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, consisting an area of 898 square meters, more or less, bounded on the north by Salvador Rivero; on the East by Eleutera Pena; on the South by Bonifacio St., and on the West by Carmen Giron; x x x;
2. A commercial building erected on the aforesaid parcel of land with an assessed value of P126,000.00; x x x;
3. A parcel of residential land located in Brgy. VII, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, containing an area of 154 sq. ms., more or less, bounded on the North by the High School Site; on the East by Gomez St., on the South by Domingo [G]o; and on the West by Domingo Go; x x x;
4. A house with an assessed value of P17,600.00 x x x;
5. A parcel of orchard land located in Brgy. VI, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, containing an area of 2,257 sq. ma. (sic) more or less, bounded on the North by Lot 1208; on the East by Mestizo River; on the South by Lot 1217 and on the West by Lot 1211–B, 1212 and 1215 x x x.3
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the Deed of Donation dated October 16, 1994 is hereby annulled and the corresponding tax declarations issued on the basis thereof cancelled. Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. having died without a will, his estate would result to intestacy. Consequently, plaintiffs Heirs of Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr., namely Purita A. Favis, Reynaldo A. Favis, Consolacion F. Queliza, Mariano A. Favis, Jr., Esther F. Filart, Mercedes A. Favis, Nelly F. Villafuerte and the defendants Juana Gonzales now deceased and Mariano G. Favis, Jr. shall inherit in equal shares in the estate of the late Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. which consists of the following:
1. A parcel of residential land located at Bonifacio St. Brgy. 1, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, consisting an area of 89 sq. meters more or less, bounded on the north by Salvador Rivero; on the East by Eleutera Pena; on the South by Bonifacio St., and on the West by Carmen Giron;
2. A commercial building erected on the aforesaid parcel of land with an assessed value of P126,000.00;
3. One–half (1/2) of the house located in Brgy. VI, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur[,] containing an area of 2,257 sq. meters more or less, bounded on the north by Lot 1208; on the east by Mestizo River; on the South by Lot 1217 and on the West by Lot 1211–B, 1212 and 1215.
4. The accumulated rentals of the new Vigan Coliseum in the amount of One Hundred Thirty [Thousand] (P130,000.00) pesos per annum from the death of Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr.8
1. The Honorable Court of Appeals GRAVELY and SERIOUSLY ERRED in DISMISSING the COMPLAINT.
2. Contrary to the finding of the Honorable Court of Appeals, the verification of the complaint or petition is not a mandatory requirement.
3. The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously failed to appreciate that the filing of an intervention by Edward Favis had placed the case beyond the scope of Article 151 of the Family Code.
4. Even assuming arguendo without admitting that the filing of intervention by Edward Favis had no positive effect to the complaint filed by petitioners, it is still a serious error for the Honorable Court of Appeals to utterly disregard the fact that petitioners had substantially complied with the requirements of Article 151 of the Family Code.
5. Assuming arguendo that petitioners cannot be construed as complying substantially with Article 151 of the Family Code, still, the same should be considered as a non–issue considering that private respondents are in estoppel.
6. The dismissal of the complaint by the Honorable Court of Appeals amounts to grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack and excess of jurisdiction and a complete defiance of the doctrine of primacy of substantive justice over strict application of technical rules.
7. The Honorable Court of Appeals gravely and seriuosly erred in not affirming the decision of the Court a quo that the Deed of Donation is void.9
Art. 151. No suit between members of the same family shall prosper unless it should appear from the verified complaint or petition that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that the same have failed. If it is shown that no such efforts were in fact made, the case must be dismissed.
This rule shall not apply to cases which may not be the subject of compromise under the Civil Code.
Section 1. Grounds. — Within the time for but before filing the answer to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim, a motion to dismiss may be made on any of the following grounds:
x x x
(j) That a condition precedent for filing the claim has not been complied with.
Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. – Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim.
x x x [T]he motu proprio dismissal of a case was traditionally limited to instances when the court clearly had no jurisdiction over the subject matter and when the plaintiff did not appear during trial, failed to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of time or neglected to comply with the rules or with any order of the court. Outside of these instances, any motu proprio dismissal would amount to a violation of the right of the plaintiff to be heard. Except for qualifying and expanding Section 2, Rule 9, and Section 3, Rule 17, of the Revised Rules of Court, the amendatory 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure brought about no radical change. Under the new rules, a court may motu proprio dismiss a claim when it appears from the pleadings or evidence on record that it has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; when there is another cause of action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or where the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations. x x x. 13
The alleged defect is that the present complaint does not state a cause of action. The proposed amendment seeks to complete it. An amendment to the effect that the requirements of Article 222 have been complied with does not confer jurisdiction upon the lower court. With or without this amendment, the subject–matter of the action remains as one for support, custody of children, and damages, cognizable by the court below.
To illustrate, Tamayo v. San Miguel Brewery, Inc.,17 allowed an amendment which “merely corrected a defect in the allegation of plaintiff–appellant’s cause of action, because as it then stood, the original complaint stated no cause of action.” We there ruled out as inapplicable the holding in Campos Rueda Corporation v. Bautista,18 that an amendment cannot be made so as to confer jurisdiction on the court x x x. (Italics supplied).
x x x The defect may however be waived by failing to make seasonable objection, in a motion to dismiss or answer, the defect being a mere procedural imperfection which does not affect the jurisdiction of the court.20 (Underscoring supplied).
This rule is introduced because it is difficult to imagine a sudden and more tragic spectacle than a litigation between members of the same family. It is necessary that every effort should be made towards a compromise before a litigation is allowed to breed hate and passion in the family. It is known that a lawsuit between close relatives generates deeper bitterness than between strangers.22
x x x To determine the intrinsic validity of the deed of donation subject of the action for annulment, the mental state/condition of the donor Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. at the time of its execution must be taken into account. Factors such as his age, health and environment among others should be considered. As testified to by Dr. Mercedes Favis, corroborated by Dr. Edgardo Alday and Dra. Ofelia Adapon, who were all presented as expert witnesses, Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. had long been suffering from Hiatal Hernia and Parkinson’s disease and had been taking medications for years. That a person with Parkinson’s disease for a long time may not have a good functioning brain because in the later stage of the disease, 1/3 of death develop from this kind of disease, and or dementia. With respect to Hiatal Hernia, this is a state wherein organs in the abdominal cavity would go up to the chest cavity, thereby occupying the space for the lungs causing the lungs to be compromised. Once the lungs are affected, there is less oxygenation to the brain. The Hernia would cause the heart not to pump enough oxygen to the brain and the effect would be chronic, meaning, longer lack of oxygenation to the brain will make a person not in full control of his faculties. Dr. Alday further testified that during his stay with the house of Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. (1992–1994), he noticed that the latter when he goes up and down the stairs will stop after few seconds, and he called this pulmonary cripple – a very advanced stage wherein the lungs not only one lung, but both lungs are compromised. That at the time he operated on the deceased, the left and right lung were functioning but the left lung is practically not even five (5%) percent functioning since it was occupied by abdominal organ. x x x.
Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. during the execution of the Deed of Donation was already 92 years old; living with the defendants and those years from 1993 to 1995 were the critical years when he was sick most of the time. In short, he’s dependent on the care of his housemates particularly the members of his family. It is the contention of the defendants though that Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. had full control of his mind during the execution of the Deed of Donation because at that time, he could go on with the regular way of life or could perform his daily routine without the aid of anybody like taking a bath, eating his meals, reading the newspaper, watching television, go to the church on Sundays, walking down the plaza to exercise and most importantly go to the cockpit arena and bet. Dr. Ofelia Adapon, a neurology expert however, testified that a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease when he goes to the cockpit does not necessarily mean that such person has in full control of his mental faculties because anyone, even a retarded person, a person who has not studied and have no intellect can go to the cockpit and bet. One can do everything but do not have control of his mind. x x x That Hiatal Hernia creeps in very insidiously, one is not sure especially if the person has not complained and no examination was done. It could be there for the last time and no one will know. x x x.
The Deed of Donation in favor of the defendants Ma. Theresa, Joana D. Favis, Maria Cristina D. Favis, James Mark D. Favis and Maria Thea D. Favis, all of whom are the children of Mariano G. Favis, Jr. was executed on [16 October] 1994, seven (7) months after Dra. Mercedes Favis left the house of Dr. Favis, Sr. at Bonifacio St., Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, where she resided with the latter and the defendants.
Putting together the circumstances mentioned, that at the time of the execution of the Deed of Donation, Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. was already at an advanced age of 92, afflicted with different illnesses like Hiatal hernia, Parkinsons’ disease and pneumonia, to name few, which illnesses had the effects of impairing his brain or mental faculties and the deed being executed only when Dra. Me[r]cedes Favis had already left his father’s residence when Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr. could have done so earlier or even in the presence of Dra. Mercedes Favis, at the time he executed the Deed of Donation was not in full control of his mental faculties. That although age of senility varies from one person to another, to reach the age of 92 with all those medications and treatment one have received for those illnesses, yet claim that his mind remains unimpaired, would be unusual. The fact that the Deed of Donation was only executed after Dra. Mercedes Favis left his father’s house necessarily indicates that they don’t want the same to be known by the first family, which is an indicia of bad faith on the part of the defendant, who at that time had influence over the donor. 23
1 Penned by Associate Justice Vicente S.E. Veloso with Associate Justices Rebecca De Guia–Salvador and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., concurring. Rollo, pp. 87–102.
2 Id. at 103–106.
3 Id. at 123–124.
4 Records, p. 338.
5 Id. at 339–340.
6 Id. at 34.
7Rollo, p. 172.
8 Id. at 208–209.
9 Id. at 61–71.
10P.L. Uy Realty Corporation v. ALS Management and Development Corp., G.R. No. 166462, 24 October 2012, 684 SCRA 453, 464–465.
11 422 Phil. 222, 230 (2001).
12 481 Phil. 168, 180 (2004).
13Gumabon v. Larin, supra note 11 at 230.
14 G.R. No. 157852, 15 December 2010, 638 SCRA 444, 451.
15 Supra note 10 at 465.
16 135 Phil. 84, 94 (1968).
17 119 Phil. 368 (1964).
18 116 Phil. 546 (1962).
19Peregrina v. Hon. Panis, 218 Phil. 90, 92 (1984).
20Agbayani v. Hon. Belen, 230 Phil. 39, 42 (1986) citing Catorce v. Court of Appeals, 214 Phil. 181 (1984).
21Verzosa v. Verzosa, supra note 16 at 88.
22 Paras, Report of the Code Commission, Code Commission of the Philippines Annotated, 14th Ed., Vol. 1, p. 579.
23Rollo, pp. 433–435.