G.R. No. 187696, June 15, 2016
FILOMENA CABLING, Petitioner, v. RODRIGO DANGCALAN, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision1 declaring void for lack jurisdiction the Decision2 issued by the 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Malitbog-Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte, as well as the Decision3 rendered by Branch 25, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Maasin City, Southern Leyte.
WHEFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations, the Court hereby renders judgment in favor of the plaintiff, ordering the defendant of the following to wit:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryUpon appeal by respondent, however, the RTC ruled differently. Unlike the MCTC, it did not give credence to the commissioner's sketch plan. The RTC noted that the sketch plan had no accompanying Commissioner's Report, and that the basis of the survey was not clear. It also ruled that the MCTC should have first ruled on the issue of prescription because respondent had raised it in a timely manner, albeit via an Amended Answer.10chanrobleslaw
- Surrendering the defendant's possession of the portion of land in question to plaintiff, the true owner of the portion of land, and as defendant is a builder in bad faith loses what was built on said portion without right to indemnity. (Art. 448, Civil Code of the Philippines);
- To pay the plaintiff of the monthly rental at P50.00 per month for the possession of said portion in question starting from the time the defendant demanded by the plaintiff to vacate up to the time the former actually vacate; and cralawlawlibrary
- To pay the plaintiff for moral damages in the amount of P20,000, exemplary damages in the amount of P10,000 and actual damages in the amount of P2,000.00 and
- To pay the costs of suit.9
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered reversing the decision of the lower court declaring:
- That the action has already prescribed and/or that plaintiff was already in laches when this action was filed in 1990, and defendant has already acquired the portion in litigation by prescription;
- That when defendant built the concrete perimeter fence on the lot in litigation in August 1987, he was a builder in good faith;
- No pronouncement as to damages and costs.11
On 24 January 2008, the CA denied the Petition and annulled both the RTC and MCTC Decisions for lack of jurisdiction.14 Instead of ruling on the issues presented by petitioner, the appellate court held that the threshold question was whether the MCTC had jurisdiction over petitioner's complaint. After examining the averments therein, the CA ruled that the MCTC had no jurisdiction because the Complaint was clearly an accion publiciana. As such, it was a plenary action for the recovery of the real right of possession, which properly fell under the RTC's jurisdiction. Accordingly, all proceedings in petitioner's Complaint, including her appeal before the RTC, were invalid and the decisions rendered thereon could be struck down at any time.15chanrobleslaw
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT OF THE PETITIONER ON THE GROUND OF ACQUISITIVE PRESCRIPTION AND EXTINCTIVE PRESCRIPTION.
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE COMPLAINT OF THE PETITIONER IS BARRED BY LACHES.
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE RESPONDENT IS A BUILDER IN GOOD FAITH.13chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Malitbog-Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte dated June 2, 2004 and the January 17. 2005 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, 8th Judicial Region, Branch 25, Maasin City reversing the Decision of the MCTC are BOTH declared NULL and VOID for lack of jurisdiction, and the instant Complaint for recovery of possession with damages is DISMISSED without prejudice.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibraryOn 1 April 2009, the CA denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.17 Hence, this Petition.
SECTION 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:SECTION 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in civil cases. - Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x x
(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds [t]wenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts;
In Laresma v. Abellana,22 We clarified that the actions envisaged in the aforequoted provisions are accion publiciana and reivindicatoria. To determine which court has jurisdiction over the action, the complaint must allege the assessed value of the real property subject of the complaint. The Court explained further in Penta Pacific Realty Corporation v. Ley Construction and Development Corporation23 that its jurisdiction would now be determined by the assessed value of the disputed land, or of the adjacent lots if it is not declared for taxation purposes. If the assessed value is not alleged in the complaint, the action should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The reason behind this rule is that the trial court is not afforded the means of determining from the allegations of the basic pleading whether jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action pertains to it or to another court. After all, courts cannot take judicial notice of the assessed or market value of lands.24chanrobleslaw
(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed [t]wenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That value of such property shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots.
1Rollo, pp. 19-30; dated 24 January 2008, penned by Associate Justice Francisco P. Acosta with Associate Justices Pampio A. Abarintos and Amy C. Lazaro-Javier concurring.
2 Id. at 79-85; dated 2 June 2004, penned by Judge Sulpicio D. Cunanan.
3 Id. at 109-120; dated 17 January 2005, penned by Judge Romeo M. Gomez.
4 Id. at 52-60.
6 Id. at 75.
7 Id. at 74-76.
8 Supra note 2.
9 Id. at 84-85.
10 Supra note 3.
11 Id. at 119-120.
12 Id. at 37-56.
13 Id. at 42.
14 Supra note 1.
15 Id. at 29.
16 Id. at 30.
17 Id. at 167-170.
18Penta Pacific Realty Corporation v. Ley Construction and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 161589, 24 November 2014, 741 SCRA 426, 438; Spouses Cruz v. Spouses Cruz, 616 Phil. 519, 526 (2009), citing Quinagoran v. Court of Appeals, 557 Phil. 650, 657 (2007).
19Aliabo v. Carampatan, 407 Phil. 31, 36 (2001).
20 An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, Amending for the Purpose Batas Pambuma Blg. 129, Otherwise Known as the "Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980."
21 Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.
22 424 Phil. 766, 782 (2004).
23 Supra note 18, at 439.
24Hilario v. Salvador, 497 Phil. 327, 336 (2005), citing Ouano v. PGTT International Investment Corporation, 434 Phil. 28-37 (2002).
25cralawred De Vera v. Spouses Santiago, G.R. No. 179457, 22 June 2015; Hilario v. Salvador, supra.
26 Supra note 1, at 9-13.
27 Id. at 14.
28 Id. at 177. In a Resolution dated 5 September 2011, we deemed as waived the filing of respondent's Comment on the Petition.
29Crisostomo v. Garcia Jr., 516 Phil. 743, 749 (2006).
30Civil Service Commission v. Mania, 504 Phil. 646, 653 (2005); Cabrera v. Tiano, 118 Phil. 558, 562 (1960).
31Cabrera v. Tiano, id.
32 RULES OF COURT, Rule 45, Section 1.
33 De Vera v. Spouses Santiago, supra note 25.