G.R. No. 181353, June 06, 2016
HGL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, HENRY G. LIM, Petitioner, v. HON. RAFAEL O. PENUELA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS ACTING PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, 6TH JUDICIAL REGION, BRANCH 13, CULASI, ANTIQUE AND SEMIRARA COAL CORPORATION (NOW SEMIRARA MINING CORPORATION), Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Before the Court is a Petition filed by petitioner HGL Development Corporation (HGL) against private respondent Semirara Mining Corporation (Semirara Mining) and public respondent Judge Rafael O. Penuela (Penuela), presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13, of Culasi, Antique (RTC-Culasi), to be treated either as a (1) Petition for Indirect Contempt based on Rule 71, Section 4 of the Rules of Court; or (2) Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. HGL is essentially assailing in its Petition Judge Penuela's issuance, upon motion of Semirara Mining, of the Order dated July 18, 2007 which dismissed with prejudice Civil Case No. C-146 on the ground of forum shopping, in sheer and blatant defiance of the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court in G.R. No. 166854, bearing the title Semirara Coal Corporation (now Semirara Mining Corporation) v. HGL Development Corporation (Semirara Coal Corporation case).
In short, the grounds relied upon in the Omnibus Motion is either not supported by convincing document/evidence and/or are evidentiary in nature that could be well threshed out and/or could be well presented during the trial on the merits. [Semirara Mining] had shut off the opening door of March 23 and March 24, 2004 the opportune time granted him.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, [Semirara Mining's] Omnibus Motion dated April 13, 2004 is hereby denied for lack of merit.
Let the Order of March 24, 2004 stands.
[HGL's] Exhibit "A" with its sub-markings - Forest Land Grazing Agreement No. -FLGA - establishes the rights of [HGL] over the subject land. It also established the physical actual possession and the right to the actual physical possession of [HGL] over the subject land. Consequently, with its Exhibit "A" as well as its sub-markings [HGL] falls within the ambit of Article 539 of the Civil Code which is hereunder reproduced for quick reference as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary"Article 539. Every possessor has a right to be respected in his possession; and should he be disturbed therein he shall be protected in or restored to his possession by the means established by the law and the Rules of Court."
"A possessor deprived of his possession through forcible entry may within ten days from filing of the complaint present a motion to secure from the competent court, in the action for forcible entry, a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to restore him in his possession. The court shall decide the motion within thirty (30) days from the filing thereof." (see Art. 539, Civil Code)
WHEREFORE, premises considered, without prejudice to [Semirara Mining's] presentation of the evidence on the merits, in the meantime [HGL's] application for the Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction over the subject land is granted upon a bond fixed in the amount of PI,000,000.00 conditioned to pay [Semirara Mining] whatever damages it may suffer by reason of injunction if it is found later that [HGL] is not entitled thereto.14
NOW, THEREFORE, you the Provincial Sheriff of Antique or your deputy, Culasi, Antique, is hereby commanded to restrain [Semirara Mining] or any of its agent, employee or representatives to cease and desist from encroaching the subject land or conducting any activities therein, and to restore the possession of the subject land to [HGL] or to any of its authorized agent, representative and/or administrator.
That on October 8, 2004, the undersigned together with [HGL's] representatives, Atty. Don Carlo Ybañez, Atty. Marc Antonio, and Oscar Lim, and three (3) police officers namely: PO3 Remus Bayawa, PO2 Arnel Cuadernal and SPO1 Faustito Cagay of 315th Mobile Group, Esperanza, Culasi, Antique, went to the Semirara Coal Corporation located at Semirara, Caluya, Antique to implement and execute the Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction, wherein, I personally contacted and tendered to Mr. [Juniper A. Baroquillo], Administrative Officer of [Semirara Mining] at the Sitios Bobog and Pontod, Semirara, Caluya, Antique, copies of Resolution dated September 16, 2004, Notification and the Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction which he received but vehemently refused to acknowledge receipt of the same.
Mr. [Juniper A. Baroquillo] categorically informed me in the presence of the representative and counsel of the HGL Corporation that he and his company will not abide by any means with the Order of this Court to restore [HGL] in the premises and restrain [Semirara Mining] from conducting any activities within the area subject matter of the Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction. Nevertheless, despite the refusal to abide nor acknowledge receipt of the lawful order of this Court; the undersigned delivered to him copies of Resolution, Notification and Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction.
Thereafter, I informed Mr. [Juniper A. Baroquillo] that by his acts and actuations of not abiding nor acknowledging the lawful order and/or processes of the court, the same is a good ground for [HGL] to take whatever legal action they may consider under the premises.
The pivotal issue confronting this Court is whether the Court of Appeals seriously erred or committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming the September 16, 2004 Resolution of the Regional Trial Court of Antique granting the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction.
Under Article 539 of the New Civil Code, a lawful possessor is entitled to be respected in his possession and any disturbance of possession is a ground for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to restore the possession. Thus, [Semirara Mining's] claim that the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction is improper because the instant case is allegedly one for accion publiciana deserves no consideration. This Court has already ruled in Torre, et al. v. Hon. J. Querubin, et al, that prior to the promulgation of the New Civil Code, it was deemed improper to issue a writ of preliminary injunction where the party to be enjoined had already taken complete material possession of the property involved. However, with the enactment of Article 539, [HGL] is now allowed to avail of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to restore him in his possession during the pendency of his action to recover possession.
It is likewise established that a writ of mandatory injunction is granted upon a showing that (a) the invasion of the right is material and substantial; (b) the right of complainant is clear and unmistakable; and (c) there is an urgent and permanent necessity for the writ to prevent serious damage.
In the instant case, it is clear that as holder of a pasture lease agreement under FLGLA No. 184, HGL has a clear and unmistakable right to the possession of the subject property. Recall that under the FLGLA, HGL has the right to the lawful possession of the subject property for a period of 25 years or until 2009. As lawful possessor, HGL is therefore entitled to protection of its possession of the subject property and any disturbance of its possession is a valid ground for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction in its favor. The right of HGL to the possession of the property is confirmed by [Semirara Mining] itself when it sought permission from HGL to use the subject property in 1999.
In contrast to HGL's clear legal right to use and possess the subject property, [Semirara Mining's] possession was merely by tolerance of HGL and only because HGL permitted petitioner to use a portion of the subject property so that the latter could gain easier access to its mining area in the Panaan Coal Reserve.
The urgency and necessity for the issuance of a writ of mandatory injunction also cannot be denied, considering that HGL stands to suffer material and substantial injury as a result of [Semirara Mining's] continuous intrusion into the subject property. [Semirara Mining's] continued occupation of the property not only results in the deprivation of HGL of the use and possession of the subject property but likewise affects HGL's business operations. It must be noted that [Semirara Mining] occupied the property and prevented HGL from conducting its business way back in 1999 when HGL still had the right to the use and possession of the property for another 10 years or until 2009. At the very least, the failure of HGL to operate its cattle-grazing business is perceived as an inability by HGL to comply with the demands of its customers and sows doubts in HGL's capacity to continue doing business. This damage to HGL's business standing is irreparable injury because no fair and reasonable redress can be had by HGL insofar as the damage to its goodwill and business reputation is concerned.
[Semirara Mining] posits that FLGLA No. 184 had already been cancelled by the DENR in its order dated December 6, 2000. But as rightly held by the Court of Appeals, the alleged cancellation of FLGLA No. 184 through a unilateral act of the DENR does not automatically render the FLGLA invalid since the unilateral cancellation is subject of a separate case which is still pending before the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City. Notably, said court has issued a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the DENR from enforcing its order of cancellation of FLGLA No. 184.
The Court of Appeals found that the construction of numerous buildings and blasting activities by petitioner were done without the consent of HGL, but in blatant violation of its rights as the lessee of the subject property. It was likewise found that these unauthorized activities effectively deprived HGL of its right to use the subject property for cattle-grazing pursuant to the FLGLA. It cannot be denied that the continuance of [Semirara Mining's] possession during the pendency of the case for recovery of possession will not only be unfair but will undeniably work injustice to HGL. It would also cause continuing damage and material injury to HGL. Thus, the Court of Appeals correctly upheld the issuance of the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction in favor of HGL.25 (Citations omitted.)
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision dated January 31, 2005, of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CEB SP No. 00035, which affirmed the Resolution dated September 16, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court of Culasi, Antique, Branch 13, as well as the Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction dated October 6, 2004 issued pursuant to said Resolution, is AFFIRMED. The temporary restraining order issued by this Court is hereby lifted. No pronouncement as to costs.26cralawred
7. In the present case, Mr. [Juniper A. Baroquillo (Baroquillo)] deliberately refused to obey the Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction issued by this Honorable Court. He also showed arrogant, rude and offensive behavior before the branch sheriff and two (2) lawyers - all of whom are officers of this Honorable Court who were then in the performance of official business. Mr. Baroquillo likewise interfered with the proceedings of this Honorable Court by not honoring a lawful writ issued by the latter. By doing so, Mr. Baroquillo directly impeded, obstructed and degraded the administration of justice.
8. Mr. Baroquillo expressly stated that he was acting for and in behalf of his superiors who apparently ordered him to disobey this Honorable Court's orders. Mr. Baroquillo's superiors are no other than VICTOR A. CONSUNJI and GEORGE B. BAQUIRAN, the President and Vice-President for Special Projects!,] respectively.
9. Mr. Consunji and Mr. Baquiran willfully disobeyed the lawful order of the court through Mr. Baroquillo, who acted for and in their behalf. Hence, all these persons must be cited in contempt of court.
10. Section 4, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides that the Court can motu proprio initiate contempt proceedings. With the Sheriffs return, executed by the branch sheriff, attesting to these facts, there is more than enough basis for this Honorable Court to initiate contempt proceedings against Mr. Baroquillo, Mr. Consunji and Mr. Baquiran.
x x x x
13. Moreover, [Semirara Mining] through the above-named persons, specifically stated that they would not follow this Court's orders. They will not vacate the subject premises even if this Honorable Court demands them to do so. Hence, there is clearly a need for this Honorable Court to issue a break-open order to allow the branch sheriff and [HGL's] duly authorized representatives to enter the subject property as well as any building constructed thereon.
[HGL] raised the issues for the decision of the Court:
1. Whether or not [Semirara Mining] encroached on the subject property which is leased to [HGL] for a period of 25 years and to expire on December 30, 2009;
2. Whether or not as a result of [Semirara Mining's] encroachment on the subject property, [HGL] suffered damages;
3. Whether or not [HGL] is entitled to actual [and] moral damages, and [Semirara Mining] be compelled to restore possession to [HGL] the subject land.
The [issues] raised by [Semirara Mining] for the Court to decide:
1. Whether or not the Complaint be dismissed for lack of payment during the time of filing of the Complaint;
2. Whether or not the subsequent payment paid by [HGL] in the docket fees without leave of court is valid.cralawred
WHEREFORE, premises considered:
1. On the First Incident [Comment/Motion on the Pre-Trial Order dated September 30, 2004], being either: impliedly/expressly included in the portion of the aforequoted Pre-Trial Order of September 30, 2004, or a paraphrase of the same, or are evidentiary matters, or legal matters to be ironed out during the trial on the merits and/or among those proposals not admitted by [HGL], the matters raised in the instant Comment/Motion, as Comment, the same are hereby noted and [Semirara Mining] is not precluded from presenting evidence to that effect.
As a motion - a relief applied as the basis for the issuance of the new Pre-Trial Order - the same [is] denied being improper and/or for lack of merit.
[2.] As to the Second Incident [Motion for Deferment of Pre-Trial and Further Proceedings], the period of sixty (60) days having expired and not extended as of this writing as well as the merit of this case is not included in the subject matter in the Court of Appeals CA. GR. CEB SP NO, 00035, the Second Incident is hereby denied for lack of merit.
THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTION SHOULD BE RECALLED OR LIFTED AS THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE IN THE SITUATION OF THE PARTIES WHICH RENDERS ITS EXECUTION OR ENFORCEMENT UNTENABLE, UNJUSTIFIABLE AND INEQUITABLE;
THE PRINCIPAL ACTION IN THIS CASE, THE COMPLAINT ITSELF, SHOULD BE DISMISSED FOR VIOLATION OF [HGL] OF THE MANDATORY RULES ON FORUM SHOPPING; and
BOTH THE ISSUE OF WHETHER OR NOT THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTION SHOULD BE RECALLED OR LIFTED AND THE ISSUE OF FORUM SHOPPING ARE PREJUDICIAL ISSUES WHICH MUST FIRST BE RESOLVED BEFORE THE MANDATORY INJUNCTION CAN BE IMPLEMENTED.54
[T]his court believes the issue of forum shopping has not been touched upon and still exists which issue is now under consideration of this court.
In both Regional Trial Courts of Caloocan and Culasi, Antique, [HGL] attempts to revive its cancelled FLGLA No. 184 by asking said courtfs] to compel the [Semirara Mining and DENR] to respect its right over the land subject of the FLGLA. Again, it is the considered stand of this court that the issue of the validity and existence of the FLGLA would certainly resolve the cases in both Regional Trial Court[s]. In other words, there may not be identity of the parties as [Semirara Mining] is only an intervenor in RTC Caloocan, it could safely be said that in both courts there is identity of interest represented. Forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits in different courts, either simultaneously or successively, involving the same parties by asking the courts to rule on the same or related causes of action to grant the same or substantially same reliefs. Such as in this case, the ruling on the possession and the right thereof is the primary issue to be resolved. To resolve the issue on possession, the validity of the FLGLA is the first issue to be resolved.
The test for determining whether a party violated the rule against forum shopping has been laid down in the case of Buan v. Lopez[,] 145 SCRA 34. Forum shopping exists where the elements of litis pendencia are present or where final judgment in one case will amount to res adjudicata [on] the other.
["]There thus exist[s] between the action before this Court and RTC Case No. 86-36563 identity of parties, or at least such parties represent the same interests in both actions, as well as the identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts[,] and the identity [on] the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other action, will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res adjudicata in the action under consideration[:] all requisites, in fine, of [auter action pendent].["]
Consequently, where a litigant (or one representing the same interest or person) sues the same party against whom another action or actions for the alleged violation of the same right and the enforcement of the same relief is/are still pending, the defense of litis pendentia in one case is a bar to the others; and, a final judgment in one would constitute res adjudicata and this would cause the dismissal of the rest, x x x.
All the above requisites are present in the two cases filed by [HGL]. As observed by [Semirara Mining], the DENR and [Semirara Mining] have the same interests in the cases before the Caloocan Court and this Court. [HGL] asserts the validity of its FLGLA before the Caloocan Court despite its cancellation and wants the DENR to restore [HGL] the FLGLA area that is being claimed by [Semirara Mining].
The two cases filed by [HGL] was a deliberate violation of the rule on forum shopping. The principal issue that will have to be resolved by both the Caloocan and this court is the same; the validity of this FLGLA. In the Caloocan case, [HGL] is asking that the DENR Order canceling the FLGLA should not be enforced. In RTC, Culasi, Antique, [HGL] is recovering from [Semirara Mining] possession of the subject property because [HGL] has a right to the same by virtue of the FLGLA. In both cases, [HGL's] cause of action rests on the validity of the FLGLA. There are other different respondents (Semirara [Mining] is an intervenor in the Caloocan case) the ultimate objective in both actions is the same, to overturn the DENR's cancellation of the FLGLA. The objective is being litigated in these courts.
As to the recall or lifting of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction as there has been a change in the situation of the parties which renders its execution or enforcement untenable, the Temporary Special Land Use Permit is a supervening event that may cause the stay of execution of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction. Although it is temporary, the period of three (3) years was granted and will expire or lapse after said period of time. However, considering that this court finds that [HGL] has violated the rule on forum shopping, there is no more need to discuss the issue further, being ancillary to the main action.
In View Thereof, for [HGL's] violation of the rule on Forum Shopping, this case is dismissed with prejudice.60
[JUDGE PENUELA AND SEMIRARA MINING] SHOULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR INDIRECT CONTEMPT CONSIDERING THEIR WANTON AND UTTER DISOBEDIENCE, ABUSE AND UNLAWFUL INTERFERENCE WITH THE HONORABLE COURT'S DECISION AND PROCESSES, AS WELL AS CONDUCT TENDING TO DEGRADE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
RESPONDENT JUDGE PENUELA IS GUILTY OF CONTEMPT CONSIDERING THAT:
- RESPONDENT JUDGE PENUELA UNDERMINED THE HONORABLE COURT'S DECISION DATED 06 DECEMBER 2006, WHICH FOUND THAT NO FORUM SHOPPING EXISTS IN THIS CASE WHEN HE RULED IN HIS QUESTIONED ORDERS DATED 18 JULY 2007 AND 20 NOVEMBER 2007 THAT PETITIONER HGL COMMITTED FORUM SHOPPING.
- RESPONDENT JUDGE PENUELA DISOBEYED THE HONORABLE COURT'S DIRECTIVE THAT PETITIONER HGL BE IMMEDIATELY RESTORED TO THE POSSESSION OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY WHEN HE DISMISSED THE CASE A QUO THEREBY RENDERING INEFFECTIVE THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTION.
RESPONDENT SEMIRARA [MINING] IS GUILTY OF CONTEMPT CONSIDERING THAT:
- RESPONDENT SEMIRARA [MINING] ENGINEERED ACTS TO UNDERMINE THE HONORABLE COURT'S DECISION DATED 06 DECISION 2006.
- RESPONDENT SEMIRARA [MINING] COUNSELED DISOBEDIENCE TO THE HONORABLE COURT'S DECISION DATED 06 DECEMBER 2006 AND EMPLOYED A SCHEME TO ACCOMPLISH THIS OBJECTIVE.63
RESPONDENT JUDGE PENUELA ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN HE DISMISSED THE CASE A QUO ON THE GROUND OF FORUM SHOPPING CONSIDERING THAT:
- THE HONORABLE COURT IN ITS DECISION IN G.R. NO. 166854 HAD ALREADY RESOLVED TO DENY WITH FINALITY THE ARGUMENT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT SEMIRARA [MINING] THAT PETITIONER HGL IS GUILTY OF FORUM SHOPPING. THUS, RESPONDENT JUDGE PENUELA CONTRAVENED AND EFFECTIVELY REVERSED THE RESOLUTION OF THE HONORABLE COURT ON THE SAME ISSUE OF FORUM SHOPPING.
- EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE HONORABLE COURT FAILED TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE ON FORUM SHOPPING, THE ISSUE OF FORUM SHOPPING WAS NEVER REMANDED BY THE HONORABLE COURT TO RESPONDENT JUDGE PENUELA FOR HIS RESOLUTION.
- PRIVATE RESPONDENT SEMIRARA [MINING] IS BARRED FROM RAISING FORUM SHOPPING AS A GROUND IN ITS MOTION TO RECALL IN VIEW OF ITS FAILURE TO RAISE THE SAME GROUND IN ITS ANSWER DATED 26 FEBRUARY 2004 OR IN A MOTION TO DISMISS.
EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE GROUND OF FORUM-SHOPPING MAY STILL BE RAISED, PETITIONER HGL IS NOT GUILTY OF FORUM SHOPPING BECAUSE THE RTC CALOOCAN CASE AND THE CASE A QUO DO NOT INVOLVE THE SAME PARTIES, SUBJECT MATTER AND RELIEFS; FURTHER, THE ISSUES IN THE RTC CALOOCAN CASE AND THE CASE A QUO ARE DIFFERENT AND DISTINCT FROM EACH OTHER.
RESPONDENT JUDGE PENUELA LIKEWISE COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN HE STATED IN HIS ASSAILED ORDER DATED 18 JULY 2007 THAT THE TEMPORARY LAND PERMIT MAY BE A SUPERVENING EVENT THAT WARRANTS THE STAY OF EXECUTION OF THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTION CONSIDERING THAT, THE ISSUANCE OF THE SAID TEMPORARY LAND PERMIT IS PATENTLY UNTENABLE, UNJUSTIFIABLE AND INEQUITABLE.64
1. Respondent Judge Rafael [O.] Penuela and Semirara Mining Corporation through its responsible officers be declared and cited in contempt;
2. The appropriate sanctions be imposed by the Honorable Court against respondent Judge Rafael [O.] Penuela and Semirara Mining Corporation acting through its responsible officers;
3. The Order dated 18 July 2007 and the Order dated 20 November 2007 issued by respondent Judge Penuela be REVERSED and SET ASIDE considering that the same are contemptuous, and issued arbitrarily, whimsically and with grave abuse of discretion; and
4. A new Order be issued reinstating the case a quo and directing respondent Judge Penuela to immediately cause the execution of the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction dated 06 October 2004 and to proceed with the trial of the case a quo.
Other reliefs just and equitable are likewise prayed for.65
[HGL] IS USING THE INSTANT PETITION FOR CONTEMPT TO CIRCUMVENT THE RULE ON TIME AND REVIVE THE LOST REMEDY OF APPEALa.) [Judge Penuela] properly ruled that [HGL] committed forum shopping; the doctrine of sub silencio finds no application in this case; andII.[JUDGE PENUELA] IS NOT GUILTY OF CONTEMPT
b.) [HGL] did not enforce the mandatory injunction; in fact, [HGL] agreed to defer its execution pending resolution of [Semirara Mining's] Motion to Dismiss;
[SEMIRARA MINING] IS NOT GUILTY OF CONTEMPT
a.) The non-enforcement of the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction was not on account of the TSLUP; and
b.) [Judge Penuela] did not dismiss the case on the basis of the TSLUP.
THE ALTERNATIVE RELIEF OF PETITION FOR CERTIORARI
CANNOT BE GIVEN DUE COURSE
a.) A petition for certiorari, under the circumstances, is not the proper remedy; and
b.) The disputed Order has long attained finality.
THE INSTANT PETITION, EVEN IF TREATED AS A PETITION FOR
CERTIORARI, IS DEVOID OF MERIT
a.) The issue of forum shopping is still valid and subsisting since said issue was never resolved;
b.) [Judge Penuela] properly ruled on the issue of forum shopping; c.) The issue of forum shopping need not be raised in the Answer; and d.) Petitioner [HGL] is guilty of forum shopping.67cralawred
Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. - The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome bv other evidence:
x x x x
(o) That all the matters within an issue raised in a case were laid before the court and passed upon by it; and in like manner that all matters within an issue raised in a dispute submitted for arbitration were laid before the arbitrators and passed upon by them[.]
The instant petition was brought to US by [Semirara Mining] assailing the propriety of the Resolution dated September 16, 2004 granting the prayer of [HGL] for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction commanding to restrain [Semirara Mining] or any of its agents from encroaching the subject land or from conducting any activities therein, and further, to restore the possession of the subject land to [HGL] or any of its agents or representatives.
Thus, this Court sees no reason to resolve or discuss issues #11, VI, and VII for being immaterial and irrelevant to the question of whether or not the Resolution dated September 16, 2004 was issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.71 (Emphases supplied.)
Sec. 5. Certification against forum shopping. - The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.
Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt, as well as a cause for administrative sanctions.
Res judicata has two concepts. The first is bar by prior judgment under Rule 39, Section 47(b), and the second is conclusiveness of judgment under Rule 39, Section 47(c). These concepts differ as to the extent of the effect of a judgment or final order as follows:SEC. 47. Effect of judgments or final orders. - The effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a court of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or final order, may be as follows:Jurisprudence taught us well that res judicata under the first concept or as a bar against the prosecution of a second action exists when there is identity of parties, subject matter and cause of action in the first and second actions. The judgment in the first action is final as to the claim or demand in controversy, including the parties and those in privity with them, not only as to every matter which was offered and received to sustain or defeat the claim or demand, but as to any other admissible matter which might have been offered for that purpose and of all matters that could have been adjudged in that case. In contrast, res judicata under the second concept or estoppel by judgment exists when there is identity of parties and subject matter but the causes of action are completely distinct. The first judgment is conclusive only as to those matters actually and directly controverted and determined and not as to matters merely involved herein. (Citations omitted.)
(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity; and
(c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their successors in interest, that only is deemed to have been adjudged in a former judgment or final order which appears upon its face to have been so adjudged, or which was actually and necessarily included therein or necessary thereto.
Appeal from the Regional Trial Courts
Sec. 1. Subject of appeal. - An appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely disposes of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to be appealable.
x x x x
Sec. 2. Modes of appeal. -
(a) Ordinary appeal. - The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner.
x x x x
Sec. 3. Period of ordinary appeal; appeal in habeas corpus cases. - The appeal shall be taken within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order appealed from. Where a record on appeal is required, the appellant shall file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal within thirty (30) days from notice of the judgment or final order. However, an appeal in habeas corpus cases shall be taken within forty-eight (48) hours from notice of the judgment or final order appealed from.
The period of appeal shall be interrupted by a timely motion for new trial or reconsideration. No motion for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or reconsideration shall be allowed. (As amended by SC Resolution, A.M. No. 01-1-03-SC, June 19, 2001)
[I]t is settled that an act to be considered contemptuous must be clearly contrary or prohibited by the order of the court. "A person cannot, for disobedience, be punished for contempt unless the act which is forbidden or required to be done is clearly and exactly defined, so that there can be no reasonable doubt or uncertainty as to what specific act or thing is forbidden or required." The acts of complainant in the case at bar is not contrary or clearly prohibited by the order of the court. (Citation omitted.)
Certiorari generally lies only when there is no appeal nor any other plain, speedy or adequate remedy available to petitioners. Here, appeal was available. It was adequate to deal with any question whether of fact or of law, whether of error of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion or error of judgment which the trial court might have committed. But petitioners instead filed a special civil action for certiorari.
We have time and again reminded members of the bench and bar that a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court lies only when "there is no appeal nor plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law." Certiorari cannot be allowed when a party to a case fails to appeal a judgment despite the availability of that remedy, certiorari not being a substitute for lost appeal.
As certiorari is not a substitute for lost appeal, we have repeatedly emphasized that the perfection of appeals in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory but jurisdictional, and that the failure to perfect an appeal renders the decision of the trial court final and executory. This rule is founded upon the principle that the right to appeal is not part of due process of law but is a mere statutory privilege to be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. Neither can petitioner invoke the doctrine that rules of technicality must yield to the broader interest of substantial justice. While every litigant must be given the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from constraints of technicalities, the failure to perfect an appeal within the reglementary period is not a mere technicality. It raises a jurisdictional problem as it deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction over the appeal.
The remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive. A party cannot substitute the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for the remedy of appeal. The existence and availability of the right of appeal are antithetical to the availability of the special civil action for certiorari. As this Court held in Fajardo v. Bautista:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryGenerally, an order of dismissal, whether right or wrong, is a final order, and hence a proper subject of appeal, not certiorari. The remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive. Accordingly, although the special civil action of certiorari is not proper when an ordinary appeal is available, it may be granted where it is shown that the appeal would be inadequate, slow, insufficient, and will not promptly relieve a party from the injurious effects of the order complained of, or where appeal is inadequate and ineffectual. Nevertheless, certiorari cannot be a substitute for the lost or lapsed remedy of appeal, where such loss is occasioned by the petitioner's own neglect or error in the choice of remedies. (Citations omitted.)
In any case, this Court resolves to condone any procedural lapse in the interest of substantial justice given the nature of business of respondent and its overreaching implication to society. To deny this Court of its duty to resolve the substantive issues would be tantamount to judicial tragedy as planholders, like petitioner herein, would be placed in a state of limbo as to its remedies under existing laws and jurisprudence.
Indeed, where strong considerations of substantive justice are manifest in the petition, the strict application of the rules of procedure may be relaxed, in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction. Thus, a rigid application of the rules of procedure will not be entertained if it will only obstruct rather than serve the broader interests of justice in the light of the prevailing circumstances in the case under consideration. It is a prerogative duly embedded in jurisprudence, as in Alcantara v. Philippine Commercial and International Bank, where the Court had the occasion to reiterate that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x In appropriate cases, the courts may liberally construe procedural rules in order to meet and advance the cause of substantial justice. Lapses in the literal observation of a procedural rule will be overlooked when they do not involve public policy, when they arose from an honest mistake or unforeseen accident, and when they have not prejudiced the adverse party or deprived the court of its authority. The aforementioned conditions are present in the case at bar.
x x x x
There is ample jurisprudence holding that the subsequent and substantial compliance of an appellant may call for the relaxation of the rules of procedure. In these cases, we ruled that the subsequent submission of the missing documents with the motion for reconsideration amounts to substantial compliance. The reasons behind the failure of the petitioners in these two cases to comply with the required attachments were no longer scrutinized. What we found noteworthy in each case was the fact that the petitioners therein substantially complied with the formal requirements. We ordered the remand of the petitions in these cases to the Court of Appeals, stressing the ruling that by precipitately dismissing the petitions "the appellate court clearly put a premium on technicalities at the expense of a just resolution of the case."
While it is true that the rules of procedure are intended to promote rather than frustrate the ends of justice, and the swift unclogging of court docket is a laudable objective, it nevertheless must not be met at the expense of substantial justice. This Court has time and again reiterated the doctrine that the rules of procedure are mere tools aimed at facilitating the attainment of justice, rather than its frustration. A strict and rigid application of the rules must always be eschewed when it would subvert the primary objective of the rules, that is, to enhance fair trials and expedite justice. Technicalities should never be used to defeat the substantive rights of the other party. Every party-litigant must be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities. Considering that there was substantial compliance, a liberal interpretation of procedural rules in this labor case is more in keeping with the constitutional mandate to secure social justice." (Citations omitted.)
** Per Special Order No. 2354 dated June 2, 2016.
1 539 Phil. 532 (2006).
2 G.R. No. 166854, February 14, 2007.
3 Records, Volume 1, pp. 6-31.
4 Id. at 124-135.
6 Id. at 32-33.
7 Id. at 41, 43, 45, 47, and 61-62.
8 Id. at 32-33, 61, 75, 92, 108, and 166.
9 Id. at 171-172.
10 Id. at 176-217.
11 Records, Volume 2, pp. 407-409.
12 Id. at 442-450, 454-459, and 483-488.
13 Id. at 495-506.
14 Id. at 504.
15 Records, Volume 3, pp. 530-532.
16 Id. at 528-529;
17 CA rollo (Vol. I), pp. 2-168.
18 Semirara Mining cited the following grounds for its Petition for Certiorari:
19 Id. at 170-171.
- [HGL] has no legal right or cause of action under the principal action or complaint, much less, to the ancillary remedy of injunction;
- [HGL] did not come to court with clean hands;
- [Judge Bantolo] unjustifiably and arbitrarily deprived [Semirara Mining] of its fundamental right to due process by not giving it an opportunity to present evidence in opposition to the mandatory injunction;
- [Judge Bantolo] immediately granted the application for the issuance of a writ of mandatory injunction without first resolving the pending Motion for Reconsideration dated July 12, 2004 of [Semirara Mining];
- [Judge Bantolo] did not consider or admit the certified copies of the official records of the DENR cancelling [HGL's] FLGLA as evidence against the mandatory injunction prayed for;
- [Judge Bantolo] should have granted [Semirara Mining's] Motion for Preliminary Hearing on its affirmative defense that [HGL] under its complaint has no cause of action against [Semirara Mining];
- [Judge Bantolo) should have dismissed the complaint outright for violation of the rules on forum shopping by [HGL]; and
- The mandatory injunction issued in the instant case is violative of the provisions of Presidential Decree [No.] 605. (Id. at 10-11).
20 Id. at 443-452; penned by Associate Justice Arsenio J. Magpale with Associate Justices Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo and Ramon M. Bato, Jr. concurring .
21 Id. at 453-825.
22 Id. at 466-468; Grounds in support of Semirara Mining's petition in G.R. No. 166854: The Honorable Court of Appeals committed serious errors of law in dismissing the petition for certiorari and in affirming the assailed resolution of public respondent granting the application for preliminary mandatory injunction considering that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary[I] The Resolution dated 16 September 2004 and the Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction dated 6 October 2004 issued by public respondent are a patent nullity as [HGL] clearly has no legal right or cause of action under its principal action or complaint, much less, to the ancillary remedy of preliminary mandatory injunction;23 Id. at 982-984.
[II] A Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction cannot be used to take property out of the possession of one party and place it into that of another who has no clear legal right thereto;
[III][HGL's] complaint in Civil Case No. C-146 is in the nature of an action publiciana, not forcible entry; hence, a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction is not a proper remedy;
[IV] [Semirara Mining] was unjustifiably and arbitrarily deprived of its fundamental right to due process when it was denied the right to present evidence in opposition to the application for preliminary mandatory injunction;
[V] The public respondent deliberately withheld the resolution of [Semirara Mining's] Motion for Reconsideration dated 12 July 2004 and proceeded to prematurely issue the preliminary mandatory injunction in violation of [Semirara Mining's] right to fair play and justice;
[VI]Public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion when:
1) He refused or failed to admit in evidence and/or consider the certified public records of the DENR order cancelling [HGL's] FLGLA;
2) He refused or failed to conduct a hearing on these certified public documents which conclusively prove [HGL's] lack of cause of action under the principal action; and
3) He refused or failed to dismiss the complaint outright for [violating] the rules on forum shopping by [HGL].
24Semirara Coal Corporation (now Semirara Mining Corporation) v. HGL Development Corporation, supra note 1.chanrobleslaw
25 Id. at 544-547.
26 Id. at 547.
27 CA rollo, Volume 2, pp. 1530-1532.
28 CA rollo, Volume 1, p. 1231.
29Records, Volume 3, pp. 538-544.
30 Records, Volume 2, pp. 269-274 and 275-281.
31 Id. at 509-512.
32 Records, Volume 3, pp. 566-569. According to Semirara Mining, the Pre-Trial Order dated September 30, 2004 did not include the following issues:
a) Whether or not complaint states a cause of action against [Semirara Mining].
b) Whether or not [HGL] may still file a case against [Semirara Mining] despite failing to exhaust all legal remedies available.
c) Whether or not regular courts [have] jurisdiction to rule that the property located in Semirara is outside the coverage of Proclamation 649.
d) Whether or not [HGL] acted with malice in deliberately failing to state that the FLGLA which is the basis of their possession has already been canceled.
e) Whether or not [Semirara Mining] is entitled to recover exemplary damages, moral damages, collection expenses, attorney's fees and cost of suit in its counterclaim.
f) Whether or not [HGL] is guilty of forum shopping.
33 Id. at 576-586 and 588-594.
34 Id. at 614-615.
35 Id. at 663-666.
36 TSN, January 13, 2005, p. 4.
37 Records, Volume 4, p. 826.
38 Id. at 855-860.
39 Records, Volume 3, pp. 671 and 783-786.
40 Id. at 753-756.
41 Id. at 787-790.
42 Semirara Mining questioned Judge Bantolo's refusal to inhibit from hearing Civil Case No. C-146 before the Court, docketed as G.R. No. 168813. However, following Judge Bantolo's retirement on January 6, 2006, the Court issued a Resolution dated March 13, 2006 dismissing the Petition in G.R. No. 168813 for being moot and academic. Said Resolution became final and executory on April 21, 2006 (Records, Volume 5, pp. 1305-1306).
43 Records, Volume 4, pp. 867-868.
44 Id, at 914-928.
45 Id. at 970-971 and 1016-1017.
46 Id. at 1056-1058.
47 Id. at 1036-1052.
48 Records, Volume 5, pp. 1081-1082.
49 Records, Volume 6, p. 1676.
50 Records, Volume 5, pp. 1213-1261.
51 Id. at 1262.
52 Id. at 1307.
53 Id. at 1434-1507.
54 Id. at 1435-1436.
55 Special Land Use Permit No. 03-2007 granted Semirara Mining the following authorization:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryIn accordance with Section 57 of Presidential Decree No. 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, as amended, Special Land Use Permit OTHER LAWFUL PURPOSES (PLANT AND OTHER MINING FACILITIES SITES) is hereby granted to SEMIRARA MINING CORPORATION with address at 2nd floor DMCI Plaza. 2281 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City for a period of three (3) years to occupy an aggregate area of 61.0 hectares of forestland located at Sitio Bobog and Pontod, Barrio Semirara. Caluya, Antique as described in the attached map which forms part of this Permit.56 Records, Volume 6, pp. 1513-1565.
This Permit is subject to existing Forest Laws, Rules and Regulations, Department Administrative Orders and other regulations which may hereafter be promulgated and the additional terms and conditions stipulated on the separate sheet(s) (marked as Annex "A") hereof.
The privileges granted under this permit is to be used solely by the above-named permittee for Other Lawful Purposes (Plant and other Mining Facilities Sites) purposes only.
This Permit is NON-TRANSFERRABLE and NON-NEGOTIABLE except as provided for in Section 61 of the aforesaid Decree and expires on March 12, 2010. (Id. at 1467.)
57 Id. at 1527.
58 Id. at 1537.
59 Id. at 1809-1824.
60 Id. at 1824.
61 Id. at 1907-1914.
62 Id. at 1914A.
63Rollo, pp. 28-29.
64 Id. at 63-64.
65 Id. at 77.
66 Id. at 462-492.
67 Id. at 462-464.
68 Id. at 493-496.
69 Id. at 499-536.
70 Id. at 675-710.
71 CA rollo, p. 447.
72Yu v. him, 645 Phil. 421, 431-432 (2010).
73 Records, Volume 1, pp. 10-12.
74 Id. 249-256.
75 673 Phil. 581, 592-593 (2011).
76Magestrado v. People, 554 Phil. 25, 33 (2007).
77Strongworld Construction, Inc. v, Parello, 528 Phil. 1080, 1097 (2006).
78 525 Phil. 22, 31 (2006).
79 253 Phil. 411,422-423(1989).
80 Supra note 76 at 33-35.
81A.L Ang Network, Inc. v. Mondejar, 725 Phil. 288, 297 (2014).
82 G.R. No. 193108, December 10, 2014, 744 SCRA 480, 198-500.