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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. L-29594. January 27, 1983.]

BARTOLOME CLARIDAD, MAXIMO CLARIDAD (now deceased), JUAN CLARIDAD, AQUILINA CLARIDAD, FRANCISCO CLARIDAD, and EUSEBIO CLARIDAD, Petitioners, v. HON. ARTURO B. SANTOS, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Tarlac, Branch II, HON. COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF TARLAC, represented by above-named, BLAS CARPO, VICENTE CARPO, and LIBERATA VENTURA, Respondents.

Marcelino U. Aganon, for Petitioners.

Emilio O. Cacad, Jr., for Private Respondent.


SYLLABUS


1. REMEDIAL LAW; DEFAULT; RELIEF FROM ORDER OF DEFAULT; GRANT OR DENIAL; WITHIN THE SOUND DISCRETION OF THE COURT. — The granting or denial of the motion to set aside the order of default, or for a new trial, or for relief from judgment, is within the sound discretion of the court. The latter’s ruling thereon deserves the respect of the appellate courts in the absence of manifest abuse of discretion.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION; NOT A CASE OF; DENIAL ON FAILURE TO ESTABLISH GROUNDS OF MOTION. — Where in their motion to lift the order of default, petitioners did not specifically point out who were not properly served with summons and copies of the complaint; neither was the motion verified, filed on time, nor accompanied by an affidavit of merit; nor did it allege facts constituting meritorious defenses; respondent Judge did not abuse much less commit grave abuse of discretion in denying the motion.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; RESPONDENT JUDGE’S RELIANCE ON SHERIFFS’ RETURN. — While petitioners claim that "although they appear to have been served with summons, the service thereof was defective and incomplete and done through anomalous and fraudulent means, and, therefore, were not valid," respondent Judge had the right to rely on the sheriffs’ return because there is the presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties. Petitioners did not invite the attention of the court regarding alleged defect of service of summons until they filed their motion for reconsideration.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PETITIONERS ARE GUILTY OF LACHES; CASE AT BAR. — Petitioners are guilty of laches where ninety-nine (99) days had elapsed since their receipt of the order denying the second motion for reconsideration before they filed this petition for certiorari.


D E C I S I O N


RELOVA, J.:


Petitioners seek "to render judgment declaring null and void and to set aside the orders declaring the defendants (herein petitioners) in default, dated November 26, 1963, January 6, 1964 and January 16, 1964, the decision dated February 25, 1964, the amendatory order dated March 11, 1964, the orders dated March 29, 1966, August 8, 1967, June 7, 1968 and July 15, 1968 in Civil Case No. 3885 of the respondent Court of First Instance of Tarlac (Branch II) and after which the defendants (herein petitioners) to be allowed to file an answer to the complaint in said civil case and the respondent judge be ordered to hold a retrial of the same case . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

On May 15, 1963, herein private respondents Blas Carpo, Vicente Carpo and Liberata Ventura filed an action for partition against the herein petitioners, namely: Bartolome, Maximo, Juan, Aquilina, Francisco, and Eusebio, all surnamed Claridad. They were duly summoned but failed to file their responsive pleadings within the reglementary period. Upon motion of the plaintiffs (herein respondents), through counsel, the defendants (herein petitioners), were declared in default (Orders dated November 26, 1963, January 6 and 16, 1964). As a consequence, plaintiffs were allowed to adduce evidence in support of their complaint.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On February 25, 1964, the lower court, through then Judge Simeon Gopengco, rendered a decision the dispositive portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, the Court renders decision in this case (1) declaring the plaintiffs Blas Carpo, Vicente Carpo and Liberata Ventura and the defendants Bartolome Claridad, Maximo Claridad, Juan Claridad, Aquilina Claridad, Francisco Claridad and Eusebio Claridad as the legal heirs of the late Agaton Claridad in representation of their respective parents; (2) declaring the plaintiffs as entitled to the one-half (1/2) undivided portions of the entire estate of the late Agaton Claridad; (3) declaring in order the partition of seven (7) parcels of land known as Lots Nos. 5186, 5047, 4981, 5009, 5014, 5048 and 5185 described in the complaint among the plaintiffs and defendants in the properties to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

x       x       x


(4) ordering the plaintiffs and the defendants to submit to this court within fifteen (15) days from receipt of this decision, an agreement of partition of the parcels of land above-mentioned, in the proportions above-stated, subject to the approval of this court; (5) ordering the defendants to deliver within ten (10) days from the final approval of the partition to the plaintiffs the possession of the shares appertaining them in accordance with the above partition; (6) ordering the defendants to render complete accounting of the products of the properties in question within ten (10) days from the final approval of the agreement of partition and to pay the plaintiffs the value of
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