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LOTTE PHIL. CO., INC., petitioner, vs.

ERLINDA DELA CRUZ,


LEONOR MAMAUAG, LOURDES CAUBA, JOSEPHINE
DOMANAIS, ARLENE CAGAYAT, AMELITA YAM, VIVIAN
DOMARAIS, MARILYN ANTALAN, CHRISTOPHER RAMIREZ,
ARNOLD SAN PEDRO, MARISSA SAN PEDRO, LORELI JIMENEZ,
JEFFREY BUENO, CHRISTOPHER CAGAYAT, GERARD CABILES,
JOAN ENRIQUEZ, JOSEPH DE LA CRUZ, NELLY CLERIGO,
DULCE NAVARETTE, ROWENA BELLO, DANIEL RAMIREZ,
AILEEN BAUTISTA and BALTAZAR FERRERA, respondents.

G.R. No. 166302

July 28, 2005

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari[1] assails the July 9, 2004


decision[2] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 72732 and its
November 26, 2004 resolution[3] denying reconsideration thereof.

The established facts of this case are as follows:


Private respondent (petitioner herein) Lotte Phils., Inc. (Lotte) is a domestic
corporation. Petitioners (respondents herein) are among those who were
hired and assigned to the confectionery facility operated by private
respondent.

On December 14, 1995 and yearly thereafter until the year 2000 7J
Maintenance and Janitorial Services (7J) entered into a contract with private
respondent to provide manpower for needed maintenance, utility, janitorial
and other services to the latter. In compliance with the terms and conditions
of the service contract, and to accommodate the needs of private respondent
for personnel/workers to do and perform piece works, petitioners, among
others, were hired and assigned to private respondent as repackers or sealers.

However, either in October, 1999 or on February 9, 2000, private respondent


dispensed with their services allegedly due to the expiration/termination of
the service contract by respondent with 7J. They were either told hwag
muna kayong pumasok at tatawagan na lang kung may gawa; or were asked
to wait pag magrereport sila sa trabaho. Unfortunately, petitioners were
never called back to work again.

Aggrieved, petitioners lodged a labor complaint against both private


respondent Lotte and 7J, for illegal dismissal, regularization, payment of
corresponding backwages and related employment benefits, 13thmonth pay,
service incentive leave, moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees
based on total judgment award.[4]
On February 28, 2001, Labor Arbiter Cresencio G. Ramos, Jr., rendered
judgment[5] declaring 7J as employer of respondents.[6] The arbiter also found
7J guilty of illegal dismissal[7] and ordered to reinstate respondents,[8] pay
P2,374,710.00 as backwages, P713,648.00 as 13th month pay and
P117,000.00 as service incentive leave pay.[9]

Respondents appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission


(NLRC) praying that Lotte be declared as their direct employer because 7J is
merely a labor-only contractor. In its decision[10] dated April 24, 2002, the
NLRC found no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the labor arbiter and
affirmed its ruling that 7J is the employer of respondents and solely liable
for their claims.

Respondents motion for reconsideration was denied by the NLRC in a


resolution dated June 18, 2002.

Undaunted, they filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of


Appeals[11] against the NLRC and Lotte, insisting that their employer is Lotte
and not 7J.
Lotte, however, denied that respondents were its employees. It prayed
that the petition be dismissed for failure to implead 7J who is a party
interested in sustaining the proceedings in court, pursuant to Section 3, Rule
46 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure.

On July 9, 2004, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the rulings
of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. In its decision, the Court of Appeals
declared Lotte as the real employer of respondents and that 7J who engaged
in labor-only contracting was merely the agent of Lotte. Respondents who
performed activities directly related to Lottes business were its regular
employees under Art. 280 of the Labor Code. As such, they must be
accorded security of tenure and their services terminated only on just and
authorized causes.

Lottes motion for reconsideration was denied, hence this petition, on the
following issues:

Whether or not petitioner herein had the burden of proof to establish before
the proceedings in the Court of Appeals that 7J Maintenance and Janitorial
Service was not a labor-only contractor.
Whether or not the Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 72732 is dismissible for
failure to comply with Section 3, Rule 46 in relation to Section 5, Rule 65 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.[12]

We first resolve the procedural issue raised by petitioner. Lotte asserts


that 7J is an indispensable party and should have been impleaded in
respondents petition in the Court of Appeals. It claims that the petition
before the Court of Appeals was dismissible for failure to comply with
Section 3,[13] Rule 46 in relation to Section 5[14] of Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Civil Procedure.

Petitioners contention is tenable.

An indispensable party is a party in interest without whom no final


determination can be had of an action, [15] and who shall be joined either as
plaintiffs or defendants.[16] The joinder of indispensable parties is mandatory.
[17]
The presence of indispensable parties is necessary to vest the court with
jurisdiction, which is the authority to hear and determine a cause, the right to
act in a case.[18] Thus, without the presence of indispensable parties to a suit
or proceeding, judgment of a court cannot attain real finality.[19] The absence
of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and
void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as
to those present.[20]
In the case at bar, 7J is an indispensable party. It is a party in interest
because it will be affected by the outcome of the case. The Labor Arbiter and
the NLRC found 7J to be solely liable as the employer of respondents. The
Court of Appeals however rendered Lotte jointly and severally liable with 7J
who was not impleaded by holding that the former is the real employer of
respondents. Plainly, its decision directly affected 7J.

In Domingo v. Scheer,[21] we held that the non-joinder of indispensable


parties is not a ground for the dismissal of an action [22] and the remedy is to
implead the non-party claimed to be indispensable. [23] Parties may be added
by order of the court on motion of the party or on its own initiative at any
stage of the action and/or such times as are just. If the petitioner refuses to
implead an indispensable party despite the order of the court, the latter may
dismiss the complaint/petition for the petitioner/plaintiffs failure to comply
therefor.[24]

Although 7J was a co-party in the case before the Labor Arbiter and the
NLRC, respondents failed to include it in their petition for certiorari in the
Court of Appeals. Hence, the Court of Appeals did not acquire jurisdiction
over 7J. No final ruling on this matter can be had without impleading 7J,
whose inclusion is necessary for the effective and complete resolution of the
case and in order to accord all parties with due process and fair play.

In light of the foregoing, the Court sees no need to discuss the second
issue raised by petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the July 9, 2004 decision of the Court of Appeals in


CA-G.R. SP No. 72732 and the November 26, 2004 resolution, are SET
ASIDE. Let the case be REMANDED to the Court of Appeals to include 7J
Maintenance and Janitorial Services as an indispensable party to the case for
further proceedings.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Quisumbing, Carpio, and Azcuna,


JJ., concur.

[1]
Rollo, pp. 9-24.
[2]
Id. at 26-35; penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes, with Associate
Justices Perlita J. Tria Tirona and Jose C. Reyes, Jr., concurring.
[3]
Id. at 37-38.
[4]
Id. at 27-28.
[5]
Id. at 40-54.
[6]
Id. at 51.
[7]
Id. at 53.
[8]
Except Joseph dela Cruz.
[9]
Id. at 54.
[10]
Id. at 55-61. Penned by Commissioner Victoriano R. Calaycay and
concurred in by Commissioners Raul T. Aquino and Angelita A.
Gacutan.
[11]
Id. at 62-77.
[12]
Id. at 11-12.
[13]
SEC. 3. Contents and filing of petition; effect of non-compliance with
requirements. The petition shall contain the full names and actual
addresses of all the petitioners and respondents, a concise statement of
the matters involved, the factual background of the case, and the
grounds relied upon for the relief prayed for.

In actions filed under Rule 65, the petition shall further indicate the material
dates showing when notice of the judgment or final order or resolution
subject thereof was received, when a motion for new trial or
reconsideration, if any, was filed and when notice of the denial thereof
was received.

The failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing


requirements shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal of the
petition.
[14]
SEC. 5. Respondents and costs in certain cases. When the petition filed
relates to the acts or omissions of a judge, court, quasi-judicial agency,
tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, the petitioner shall join,
as private respondent or respondents with such public respondent or
respondents, the person or persons interested in sustaining the
proceedings in the court; and it shall be the duty of such private
respondents to appear and defend, both in his or their own behalf and
in behalf of the public respondent or respondents affected by the
proceedings, and the costs awarded in such proceedings in favor of the
petitioner shall be against the private respondents only, and not
against the judge, court, quasi-judicial agency, tribunal, corporation,
board, officer or person impleaded as public respondent or
respondents.
[15]
China Banking Corp. v. Oliver, 439 Phil. 50, 59-60 (2002).
[16]
Section 7, Rule 3, Revised Rules of Civil Procedure.
[17]
Domingo v. Scheer, G.R. No. 154745, 29 January 2004, 421 SCRA 468,
483.
[18]
Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company v. Hon. Alejo, 417 Phil. 303, 317
(2001).
[19]
Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Court of Appeals, 450 Phil. 532, 541
(2003), citing BA Finance Corporation v. CA, 327 Phil. 716, 728
(1996).
[20]
Galindo v. Roxas, G.R. No. 147969, 17 January 2005.
[21]
Supra.
[22]
Id. at 483.
[23]
Id. at 484.
[24]
Id. at 483-484.

MAY D. AONUEVO, ALEXANDER BLEE DESANTIS and JOHN


DESANTIS NERI, Petitioners, vs. INTESTATE ESTATE OF
RODOLFO G. JALANDONI, represented by BERNARDINO G.
JALANDONI as Special Administrator, Respondent.
G.R. No. 178221
December 1, 2010

DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
On appeal1 is the Decision2 dated 31 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 00576. In the said decision, the Court of Appeals nullified,
on certiorari, the Orders3 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, of Negros
Occidental (intestate court) allowing herein petitioners and their siblings4 to
intervene in the estate proceedings of the late Rodolfo G. Jalandoni. 5 The
decretal portion of the decision of the appellate court reads:
ACCORDINGLY, the petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED, the
assailed Orders dated July 2, 2004 and January 26, 2005, of the Regional
Trial Court in Spec. Proc. No. 338 are hereby SET ASIDE and NULLIFIED,
and a permanent injunction is hereby issued enjoining respondents
[petitioners], their agents and anyone acting for and in their behalves, from
enforcing the assailed Orders. No costs.6

The antecedents are:


Rodolfo G. Jalandoni (Rodolfo) died intestate on 20 December 1966.7 He
died without issue.8

On 28 April 1967, Bernardino G. Jalandoni (Bernardino), the brother of


Rodolfo, filed a petition for the issuance of letters of administration9 with the
Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, to commence the judicial
settlement of the latters estate. The petition was docketed as Spec. Proc. No.
338 and is currently pending before the intestate court.10
On 17 January 2003, the petitioners and their siblings filed a
Manifestation11 before the intestate court. In the Manifestation, they
introduced themselves as the children of Sylvia Blee Desantis (Sylvia)
who, in turn, was revealed to be the daughter of Isabel Blee (Isabel) with one
John Desantis.12
The petitioners and their siblings contend that their grandmotherIsabel
was, at the time of Rodolfos death, the legal spouse of the latter.13 For which
reason, Isabel is entitled to a share in the estate of Rodolfo.
Seeking to enforce the right of Isabel, the petitioners and their siblings pray
that they be allowed to intervene on her behalf in the intestate proceedings of
the late Rodolfo G. Jalandoni.14 As it was, by the time the Manifestation was
filed, both Sylvia and Isabel have already passed away with the former
predeceasing the latter.15

To support their cause, the petitioners and their siblings appended in their
Manifestation, the following documents:
a.) Two (2) marriage certificates between Isabel and Rodolfo;16
b.) The birth certificate of their mother, Sylvia;17 and
c.) Their respective proof of births.18

It is the assertion of the petitioners and their siblings that the foregoing
pieces of evidence sufficiently establish that Isabel was the spouse of
Rodolfo, and that they are her lawful representatives.

The respondent intestate estate of Rodolfo G. Jalandoni, now represented by


Bernardino as its Special Administrator, however, begged to differ. It
opposed the intervention on the ground that the petitioners and their siblings
have failed to establish the status of Isabel as an heir of Rodolfo. The very
evidence presented by the petitioners and their siblings showed that Isabel
had a previous and subsisting marriage with John Desantis at the time she
was purportedly married to Rodolfo.

In its Comment to the Manifestation,19 the respondent called attention to the


entries in the birth certificate of Sylvia, who was born on 14 February
1946.20 As it turned out, the record of birth of Sylvia states that she was a
"legitimate" child of Isabel and John Desantis. 21 The document also certifies
the status of both Isabel and John Desantis as "married." 22 The respondent
posits that the foregoing entries, having been made in an official registry,
constitute prima facie proof of a prior marriage between Isabel and John
Desantis.23

According to the respondent, Isabels previous marriage, in the absence of


any proof that it was dissolved, made her subsequent marriage with Rodolfo
bigamous and void ab initio.24
On 2 July 2004, the intestate court issued an order allowing the petitioners
and their siblings to take part in the settlement proceedings. 25 The intestate
court was convinced that the evidence at hand adequately establish Isabels
status as the legal spouse of Rodolfo and, by that token, permitted the
petitioners and their siblings to intervene in the proceedings on her behalf.26
The intestate court also held that the birth certificate of Sylvia was
insufficient to prove that there was a previous marriage between Isabel and
John Desantis.27 It ventured on the possibility that the entries in the birth
record of Sylvia regarding her legitimacy and the status of her parents, may
have been made only in order to save Isabel and her family from the social
condemnation of having a child out of wedlock.28

The respondent sought for reconsideration, but was denied by the intestate
court in its order dated 26 January 2006. 29 Undeterred, the respondent
hoisted a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals.
On 31 May 2007, the Court of Appeals granted the petition and nullified the
orders of the intestate court.30

In coming to its conclusion, the Court of Appeals found that it was an error
on the part of the intestate court to have disregarded the probative value of
Sylvias birth certificate.31 The appellate court, siding with the respondent,
held that Sylvias birth certificate serves as prima facie evidence of the facts
therein statedwhich includes the civil status of her parents. 32 Hence, the
previous marriage of Isabel with John Desantis should have been taken as
established.
The Court of Appeals added that since the petitioners and their siblings
failed to offer any other evidence proving that the marriage of Isabel with
John Desantis had been dissolved by the time she was married to Rodolfo, it
then follows that the latter marriagethe Isabel-Rodolfo unionis a nullity
for being bigamous.33 From that premise, Isabel cannot be considered as the
legal spouse of Rodolfo. The petitioners and their siblings, therefore, failed
to show that Isabel has any interest in the estate of Rodolfo.

Hence, the instant appeal.34


The sole issue in this appeal is whether the Court of Appeals erred when it
nullified the orders of the intestate court allowing the petitioners and their
siblings to intervene in the settlement proceedings.
The petitioners answer in the affirmative. They proffer the following
arguments:

One. The Court of Appeals exceeded the limits of review under a writ of
certiorari.35 In nullifying the intestate courts order, the appellate court did
not confine itself to the issue of whether the same was issued with grave
abuse of discretion.36 Rather, it chose to re-assess the evidence and touch
upon the issue pertaining to Isabels right to inherit from Rodolfo.37
Had the appellate court limited itself to the issue of whether grave abuse of
discretion exists, it would have found that the intestate court did not act
whimsically or capriciously in issuing its assailed orders. 38 Grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the intestate court is belied by the fact that the said
orders may be supported by the two (2) marriage certificates between Isabel
and Rodolfo.39

Second. Assuming ex-gratia argumenti that the Court of Appeals was correct
in addressing the issue of whether there was sufficient evidence to prove that
Isabel has a right to inherit from Rodolfo, it nevertheless erred in finding
that there was none.40 A proper evaluation of the evidence at hand does not
support the conclusion that Isabel had a previous marriage with John
Desantis.41

To begin with, the respondent was not able to produce any marriage
certificate executed between Isabel and John Desantis.42 The conspicuous
absence of such certificate can, in turn, only lend credibility to the position
that no such marriage ever took place.
Moreover, the entries in the birth certificate of Sylvia do not carry the
necessary weight to be able to prove a marriage between Isabel and John
Desantis.43 In assessing the probative value of such entries, the Court of
Appeals should have taken note of a "typical" practice among unwed
Filipino couples who, in order to "save face" and "not to embarrass their
families," concoct the illusion of marriage and make it appear that a child
begot by them is legitimate.44

Since the alleged previous marriage of Isabel with John Desantis was not
satisfactorily proven, the Court of Appeals clearly erred in finding that her
marriage with Rodolfo is bigamous.
We are not impressed.

First Argument
The first argument raised by the petitioners is specious at best. The question
of whether the intestate court gravely abused its discretion is intricately
linked with the issue of whether there was sufficient evidence to establish
Isabels status as the legal spouse of Rodolfo.
A courts power to allow or deny intervention, albeit discretionary in nature,
is circumscribed by the basic demand of sound judicial procedure that only a
person with interest in an action or proceeding may be allowed to
intervene.45 Otherwise stated, a court has no authority to allow a person, who
has no interest in an action or proceeding, to intervene therein.46
Consequently, when a court commits a mistake and allows an uninterested
person to intervene in a casethe mistake is not simply an error of
judgment, but one of jurisdiction. In such event, the allowance is made in
excess of the courts jurisdiction and can only be the product of an exercise
of discretion gravely abused. That kind of error may be reviewed in a special
civil action for certiorari.
Verily, the Court of Appeals was acting well within the limits of review
under a writ of certiorari, when it examined the evidence proving Isabels
right to inherit from Rodolfo. The sufficiency or insufficiency of such
evidence determines whether the petitioners and their siblings have
successfully established Isabels interest in Rodolfos estatewhich, as
already mentioned, is an indispensable requisite to justify any intervention.
Ultimately, the re-assessment of the evidence presented by the petitioners
and their siblings will tell if the assailed orders of the intestate court were
issued in excess of the latters jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.

We now proceed to the second argument of the petitioners.


Second Argument
The second argument of the petitioners is also without merit. We agree with
the finding of the Court of Appeals that the petitioners and their siblings
failed to offer sufficient evidence to establish that Isabel was the legal
spouse of Rodolfo. The very evidence of the petitioners and their siblings
negates their claim that Isabel has interest in Rodolfos estate.
Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the existence of a previous
marriage between Isabel and John Desantis was adequately established. This
holds true notwithstanding the fact that no marriage certificate between
Isabel and John Desantis exists on record.
While a marriage certificate is considered the primary evidence of a marital
union, it is not regarded as the sole and exclusive evidence of
marriage.47 Jurisprudence teaches that the fact of marriage may be proven by
relevant evidence other than the marriage certificate.48 Hence, even a
persons birth certificate may be recognized as competent evidence of the
marriage between his parents.49
In the present case, the birth certificate of Sylvia precisely serves as the
competent evidence of marriage between Isabel and John Desantis. As
mentioned earlier, it contains the following notable entries: (a) that Isabel
and John Desantis were "married" and (b) that Sylvia is their "legitimate"
child.50 In clear and categorical language, Sylvias birth certificate speaks of
a subsisting marriage between Isabel and John Desantis.
Pursuant to existing laws,51 the foregoing entries are accorded prima facie
weight. They are presumed to be true. Hence, unless rebutted by clear and
convincing evidence, they can, and will, stand as proof of the facts
attested.52 In the case at bench, the petitioners and their siblings offered no
such rebuttal.
The petitioners did no better than to explain away the entries in Sylvias
birth certificate as untruthful statements made only in order to "save
face."53 They urge this Court to take note of a "typical" practice among
unwed Filipino couples to concoct the illusion of marriage and make it
appear that a child begot by them is legitimate. That, the Court cannot
countenance.
The allegations of the petitioners, by themselves and unsupported by any
other evidence, do not diminish the probative value of the entries. This Court
cannot, as the petitioners would like Us to do, simply take judicial notice of
a supposed folkway and conclude therefrom that the usage was in fact
followed. It certainly is odd that the petitioners would themselves argue that
the document on which they based their interest in intervention contains
untruthful statements in its vital entries.
Ironically, it is the evidence presented by the petitioners and their siblings
themselves which, properly appreciated, supports the finding that Isabel was,
indeed, previously married to John Desantis. Consequently, in the absence of
any proof that such marriage had been dissolved by the time Isabel was
married to Rodolfo, the inescapable conclusion is that the latter marriage is
bigamous and, therefore, void ab initio.
The inability of the petitioners and their siblings to present evidence to prove
that Isabels prior marriage was dissolved results in a failure to establish that
she has interest in the estate of Rodolfo. Clearly, an intervention by the
petitioners and their siblings in the settlement proceedings cannot be
justified. We affirm the Court of Appeals.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. Accordingly, the decision
dated 31 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00576 is
hereby AFFIRMED.
Costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE
* DIOSDADO M. PERALTA**
CASTRO
Associate Justice
Associate Justice
ROBERTO A. ABAD***
Associate Justice
C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified
that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Footnotes
*
Per Special Order No. 916 dated 24 November 2010, Associate Justice
Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro as Acting Working Chairperson.
**
Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo,
per Special Order No. 913 dated 2 November 2010.
***
Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.,
per Special Order No. 917 dated 24 November 2010.
1
Via a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court.
2
Penned by Associate Justice Francisco P. Acosta, with Associate Justices
Arsenio J. Magpale and Agustin S. Dizon, concurring. Rollo, pp. 38-48.
3
Orders dated 2 July 2004 and 26 January 2005, issued by Judge Reynaldo
M. Alon. Id. at 49-55 and 65-66.
4
The other siblings of the petitioners are Isabel Blee Desantis, Pierre Jojo
Desantis Joven, Cynthia Desantis Handy, William Chester Handy, Carroll
Leon Handy and Nora Margaret Handy.
5
Docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 338.
6
Rollo, p. 47.
7
Certificate of Death of Rodolfo G. Jalandoni. CA rollo, p. 187
8
Petition (for the Issuance of Letters of Administration). Id. at 183.
9
Id. at 183-186.
10
Id.
11
The Manifestation was coupled by a Motion to Admit Manifestation. See
id. at 52-56; id. at 57-74.
12
Id. at 57-58.
13
Id. at 57.
14
Id. at 58.
15
Isabel Blee died on 21 November 1999 whereas Sylvia Blee Desantis died
on 21 November 1994, see their respective Certificates of Death, id. at 65
and 84.
16
Annex "1" and "2" of the Manifestation. The certificates attest to two
nuptialsthe first one being in 1951 and the other in 1953as both having
been celebrated between Isabel and Rodolfo. Id. at 61-62.
17
Annex "4" of the Manifestation, id. at 64.
18
Annex "6" to "14" of the Manifestation. The petitioners and their siblings
all attached their birth certificates, with the exception of Nora Margaret
Handy who presented her American passport. Id. at 66-74.
19
Id. at 75-80.
20
Id. at 76.
21
Id.
22
Id.
23
Rollo, pp. 120-121.
24
Id. at 121.
25
Id. at 49-55.
26
Id. at 54.
27
Id.
28
Id.
29
Id. at 65-66.
30
Id. at 47.
31
Id. at 45.
32
Id.
33
Id. at 43.
34
Petition for Review on Certiorari, id. at 10-81.
35
Id. at 17.
36
Id. at 21-22.
37
Id. at 17-22.
38
Id.
39
Id.
40
Id. at 23.
41
Id. at 27-28.
42
Id. at 26.
43
Id. at 27.
44
Id.
45
See Section 1 of Rule 19 of the Rules of Court, in relation to Paras v.
Narciso, 35 Phil. 244, 246-247 (1916).
46
In the Matter of the Will of Cabigting, 14 Phil 463, 467-468 (1909).
47
Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, 352 Phil. 12, 30-31 (1988).
48
Pugeda v. Trias, 114 Phil. 781, 787 (1962).
49
In Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, supra note 47 at 30, this Court held:
To prove the fact of marriage, the following would constitute competent
evidence: the testimony of a witness to the matrimony, the couple's public
and open cohabitation as husband and wife after the alleged wedlock, the
birth and the baptismal certificates of children born during such union, and
the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents. (Pugeda v. Trias, id.)
(Emphasis supplied)
50
CA rollo, p. 64
51
See Article 410 in relation to Article 408 of the Civil Code and Section 44
of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.
52
Bustillo v. People, G.R. No. 160718, 12 May 2010.
53
Rollo, p. 27.

JAIME MORTA, SR. and PURIFICACION


PADILLA, petitioners, vs. JAIME OCCIDENTAL, ATTY. MARIANO
BARANDA, JR., and DANIEL CORRAL, respondents.
G.R. No. 123417
June 10, 1999
DECISION
PARDO, J.:
What is before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision[1] of
the Court of Appeals and the resolution,[2] denying petitioners' motion for
reconsideration and supplemental motion for reconsideration. In its decision,
the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for review filed before it, ruling
that the cases below fall within the jurisdiction of the DARAB.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On January 10 and 21, 1994,[3] petitioners Jaime Morta, Sr. and Purificacion
Padilla filed two (2) cases[4] for damages with preliminary injunction, with
the Municipal Trial Court, Guinobatan, Albay, against respondents Jaime
Occidental, Atty. Mariano Baranda, Jr. and Daniel Corral, which were
consolidated pursuant to Rule 31 of the Revised Rules of Court. In the
complaints, petitioners alleged that respondents through the instigation of
Atty. Baranda, gathered pilinuts, anahaw leaves, and coconuts from their
respective land, delivered the produce to Atty. Mariano Baranda, Jr., and
destroyed their banana and pineapple plants. In Civil Case No. 481,
petitioners claimed damages amounting to P8,930.00, plus costs of suit; in
Civil Case No. 482, petitioners claimed P9,950.00, as damages. The court
considered the cases covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure and
ordered respondents to file their answer.
In their answer, respondents claimed that petitioners were not the owners of
the land in question. They alleged that the torrens titles of the land indicated
a certain Gil Opiana as the registered owner. Gil Opiana was the father of
Josefina Opiana-Baraclan who inherited the lots upon the former's
death. Respondent Jaime Occidental contended that he was a bona fide
tenant of Josefina Opiana-Baraclan.Respondents stated that there was no
annotation on the titles establishing petitioners' right over the land. They
denied harvesting the anahaw leaves and coconuts, as well as delivering the
produce to Atty. Baranda, Jr.
Thereafter, the Municipal Trial Court ordered the parties to submit affidavits
of their witnesses and other evidence on the factual issues, together with
their respective position papers. After respondents' failure to file their
position papers within the prescribed period, the trial court considered the
case submitted for decision.
On March 29, 1994, the Municipal Trial Court rendered decision [5] in favor
of petitioners. It held that petitioners had been in actual, continuous, open
and adverse possession of the land in question for forty-five (45) years. The
decretal portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is
rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants in both cases as
follows:
1) Ordering the defendants not to molest and disturb the peaceful possession
of the plaintiffs in the lands in question situated at San Rafael, Guinobatan;
2) Condemning the defendants in Civil Cases No. 481 to jointly and
severally pay the plaintiffs the total amount of P8,130.00 representing the
value of the coconuts, pilinuts and anahaw leaves and for the destroyed
plants;
3) Ordering the defendants in Civil Cases No. 481 jointly and severally to
reimburse the plaintiffs the amount of P202.00 as legal expenses incurred in
filing this suit;
4) Condemning the defendants in Civil Case No. 482 jointly and severally to
pay the plaintiffs the total amount of P9,950.00 representing the value of the
coconuts and anahaw leaves;
5) Ordering the said defendants in Civil Case No. 482 to jointly and
severally reimburse the plaintiffs the sum of P202.00 as legal expenses in
filing this suit.
Guinobatan, Albay, March 29, 1994.
(signed)
JAIME R. REMONTE
Judge[6]
Respondents appealed to the Regional Trial Court, Ligao, Albay. They
questioned the trial court's jurisdiction contending that the case was
cognizable by the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudicatory Board
(DARAB). They alleged that petitioners engaged in forum shopping and that
the trial court erred in granting the reliefs prayed for.
On August 10, 1994, the Regional Trial Court rendered decision reversing
that of the Municipal Trial Court and dismissing the above cases, [7] ruling
that these cases for damages are tenancy-related problems which fall under
the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the DARAB. The court also
declared that the filing of Civil Cases Nos. 481 and 482, while a case
involving the same issue was pending before the DARAB, amounted to
forum shopping.
On September 9, 1994, petitioners filed a petition for review [8] with the
Court of Appeals, contesting the decision of the Regional Trial Court. On
May 31, 1995, the Court of Appeals [9] rendered decision affirming the
lower's court ruling that the cases fall within the original and exclusive
jurisdiction of DARAB. However, it ruled that petitioners did not engage in
forum shopping.
On June 6, 1995, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. [10] On June
13, 1995, they filed a supplemental motion for reconsideration, [11] stressing
that there was no tenancy relationship between the parties, as certified by the
Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO).[12]
On December 8, 1995, the Court of Appeals denied the motions.[13]
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.
Petitioners claim that Morta is not a tenant of either Jaime Occidental or
Josefina Opiana-Baraclan, as shown by the MARO certification. They argue
that the civil actions for damages are not tenancy-related, and, hence, are
properly cognizable by the trial court, not the DARAB.
We resolve to grant the petition.
It is axiomatic that what determines the nature of an action as well as which
court has jurisdiction over it, are the allegations in the complaint and the
character of the relief sought.[14] "Jurisdiction over the subject matter is
determined upon the allegations made in the complaint, irrespective of
whether the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon a claim asserted therein - a
matter resolved only after and as a result of the trial. Neither can the
jurisdiction of the court be made to depend upon the defenses made by the
defendant in his answer or motion to dismiss. If such were the rule, the
question of jurisdiction would depend almost entirely upon the defendant.
[15]
The complaint filed by petitioners before the Municipal Trial Court is an
action for damages for illegal gathering of anahaw leaves, pilinuts and
coconuts, and the destruction of their banana and pineapple plantations. The
respondents did not question the municipal trial court's jurisdiction in their
answer. The issue of jurisdiction was raised for the first time on appeal.
For DARAB to have jurisdiction over a case, there must exist a tenancy
relationship between the parties. In order for a tenancy agreement to take
hold over a dispute, it would be essential to establish all its indispensable
elements, to wit: 1) that the parties are the landowner and the tenant or
agricultural lessee; 2) that the subject matter of the relationship is an
agricultural land; 3) that there is consent between the parties to the
relationship; 4) that the purpose of the relationship is to bring about
agricultural production; 5) that there is personal cultivation on the part of the
tenant or agricultural lessee; and 6) that the harvest is shared between the
landowner and the tenant or agricultural lessee.[16] In Vda. de Tangub v.
Court of Appeals,[17] we held that the jurisdiction of the Department of
Agrarian Reforms is limited to the following:
a) adjudication of all matters involving implementation of agrarian reform;
b) resolution of agrarian conflicts and land-tenure related problems; and
c) approval and disapproval of the conversion, restructuring or readjustment
of agricultural lands into residential, commercial, industrial, and other non-
agricultural uses.
The regional trial court ruled that the issue involved is tenancy-related that
falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the DARAB. It relied on the
findings in DARAB Case No. 2413 that Josefina Opiana-Baraclan appears
to be the lawful owner of the land and Jaime Occidental was her recognized
tenant. However, petitioner Morta claimed that he is the owner of the
land. Thus, there is even a dispute as to who is the rightful owner of the
land, Josefina Opiana-Baraclan or petitioner Morta. The issue of ownership
cannot be settled by the DARAB since it is definitely outside its
jurisdiction. Whatever findings made by the DARAB regarding the
ownership of the land are not conclusive to settle the matter. The issue of
ownership shall be resolved in a separate proceeding before the appropriate
trial court between the claimants thereof.
At any rate, whoever is declared to be the rightful owner of the land, the case
can not be considered as tenancy-related for it still fails to comply with the
other requirements. Assuming arguendo that Josefina Opiana-Baraclan is the
owner, then the case is not between the landowner and tenant. If, however,
Morta is the landowner, Occidental can not claim that there is consent to a
landowner-tenant relationship between him and Morta. Thus, for failure to
comply with the above requisites, we conclude that the issue involved is not
tenancy-related cognizable by the DARAB.
WHEREFORE, the Court SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 35300 and that of the Regional Trial Court in
Civil Cases Nos. 1751 and 1752.
The Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Municipal Trial Court, Guinobatan,
Albay, in Civil Cases Nos. 481 and 482, for damages.
SO ORDERED.
Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., pls. see dissenting opinion.
Melo, J., joins Chief Justice Davide in his dissent.
DISSSENTING OPINION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
I beg to dissent. I agree with both the Regional Trial Court and the Court of
Appeals that the cases before the Municipal Trial Court involved an agrarian
dispute exclusively cognizable by the DARAB. It had, in fact, been
determined in DARAB Case No. 2413 that respondent Jaime Occidental a
defendant in one of the MTC cases is the tenant of Josefina Opiniana-
Baraclan (1st par., p. 7 of ponencia). There is at all no showing that this
determination by DARAB has been set aside by some higher
authorities. The claim of petitioner Morta that he is the owner of the land is
of no moment, for whether it is Josefina or Morta who is the owner does not
affect Occidental's right as tenancy. Tenancy attaches to the land.
As I see it, the cases filed by petitioners Morta and Padilla were a clever way
to defeat the agrarian law. While the cases were ostensibly for damages, they
were, at bottom, a fight on issues incident to or arising from an agrarian
relationship. The first relief granted by the MTC, to wit:
"1) Ordering the defendants not to molest and disturb the peaceful
possession of the plaintiffs in the lands in question situated at San Rafael,
Guinobatan;
mirrors the true nature of the controversy.
WHEREFORE, I vote to DENY the instant petition since no reversible
error was committed by the Court of Appeals in its challenged decision.

[1]
CA-G.R. SP No. 35300, promulgated on May 31, 1995, Justice Conchita
Carpio Morales, ponente, Justices Pedro A. Ramirez, and Fermin A. Martin,
Jr., concurring. Rollo, pp. 15-22.
[2]
Dated December 8, 1995, Rollo, p. 33.
[3]
Court of Appeals Record, p. 5.3 Civil Case No. 481 filed on January 10,
1994 against respondents Jaime Occidental, Sr. and Atty. Mariano Baranda,
Jr.; Civil Case No. 482 filed on January 21, 1994 against Jaime Occidental,
Sr., Atty. Mariano Baranda, Jr. and Daniel Corral.
[4]
Civil Case No. 481 filed on January 10, 1994 against respondents Jaime
Occidental, Sr. and Atty. Mariano Baranda, Jr.; Civil Case No. 482 filed on
January 21, 1994 against Jaime Occidental, Sr., Atty. Mariano Baranda, Jr.
and Daniel Corral.
[5]
Rollo, pp. 34-41, penned by Judge Jaime R. Remonte.
[6]
Rollo, p. 41.
[7]
Civil Case No. 1751, penned by Judge Romulo S G. Villanueva, Rollo, 42-
46.
[8]
Court of Appeals Record, pp. 4-12.
[9]
Rollo, pp. 15-22.
[10]
Petition, Annex B, Rollo, pp. 23-26.
[11]
Petition, Annex C, Rollo, pp. 28-32.
[12]
Dated February 4, 1994, Rollo, p. 27.
[13]
Resolution, Rollo, p. 33.
[14]
Caiza v. Court of Appeals, 268 SCRA 640, citing Sumulong v. Court of
Appeals, 232 SCRA 272.
[15]
Multinational Village Homeowners Association v. Court of Appeals, 203
SCRA 104.
[16]
Chico v. Court of Appeals, 284 SCRA 33.
[17]
191 SCRA 885.