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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 138660. February 5, 2004]


HEIRS OF TRINIDAD DE LEON VDA. DE ROXAS, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and
MAGUESUN MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition to cite for indirect contempt the officers of Meycauayan Central Realty Corporation
(Meycauayan) for defying the final and executory Decision and Resolution of this Court in G.R. No.
118436 entitled Heirs of Manuel A. Roxas and Trinidad de Leon Vda. De Roxas v. Court of Appeals
and Maguesun Management & Development Corporation (G.R. No. 118436).[1]
The Antecedents
This petition stems from a case filed by Trinidad de Leon Vda. De Roxas to set aside the decree of
registration over two unregistered parcels of land in Tagaytay City granted to Maguesun Management
and Development Corporation (Maguesun) before the Regional Trial Court on the ground of actual
fraud. The trial court dismissed the petition to set aside the decree of registration. On appeal, the Court
of Appeals denied the petition for review and affirmed the findings of the trial court. On 21 March
1997, this Court reversed the appellate courts decision in G.R. No. 118436. The dispositive portion
reads:
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in
C.A. G.R. CV No. 38328 (Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas v. Maguesun Management &
Development Corporation, et al.) promulgated on December 8, 1994 is hereby REVERSED AND
SET ASIDE. Accordingly, registration of title over the subject parcels of land, described in Plan AS04-000108, Lot Nos. 7231 and 7239, with an area of 3,461 and 10,674 square meters, respectively, as
shown and supported by the corresponding technical descriptions now forming part of the Records of
LRC No. TG-373, is awarded to herein petitioner Trinidad de Leon vda. de Roxas and her heirs, herein
substituted as petitioners. Upon finality of this Decision, the Land Registration Authority is hereby
directed to ISSUE with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of
title pursuant to Section 39 of Presidential Decree No. 1529.[2]
On 22 May 1997, Meycauayan filed a Petition for Intervention in G.R. No. 118436. Meycauayan
alleged that on 14 May 1992, it purchased three parcels of land from Maguesun which form part of the
property awarded to the heirs of Trinidad de Leon Vda. De Roxas (Roxas heirs). Meycauayan
contended that since it is a purchaser in good faith and for value, the Court should afford it the
opportunity to be heard. Meycauayan contends that the adverse decision in G.R. No. 118436 cannot
impair its rights as a purchaser in good faith and for value.
On 25 June 1997, this Court denied the Petition for Intervention. This Court also denied the Motion for
Reconsideration filed by Maguesun. Thus, on 21 August 1997, the Decision dated 21 March 1997 in
G.R. No. 118436 became final and executory.
On 13 April 1998, the Land Registration Authority (LRA) submitted a Report to the Regional Trial
Court of Tagaytay City, Branch 18 (land registration court), in LR Case No. TG-373, praying that
the land registration court:
a)

Order the LRA to cancel Decree No. N-197092 in the name of Maguesun to enable it to
issue another decree in favor of the heirs of Manuel A. Roxas and Trinidad de Leon Vda.
de Roxas;

b)

Order the Register of Deeds to cancel OCT No. 0-515 and all its derivative titles; and

c)

Order the issuance of the Decree with respect to the decision of the Supreme Court dated
21 March 1997.

Meycauayan filed with the land registration court a Motion For Leave To Intervene And For Period Of
Time To File Opposition To The Report Dated March 25, 1998 Filed By The LRA And To File
Complaint-in-Intervention.
On 4 June 1998, the Roxas heirs filed a Motion for Clarification with this Court raising the following
issues:
a)
Whether it is necessary for the trial court to first order the LRA to cancel Decree No. N-197092
in the name of Maguesun Management and Development Corporation to enable (the LRA) to issue
another decree in favor of the Heirs of Manuel A. Roxas and Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas? Or is
that order necessarily included in the dispositive portion of the Supreme Court decision directing the
LRA to issue with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title
in favor of the Roxas heirs? Please note that this necessary implication is a consequence of the
Supreme Court finding that the decree in favor of Maguesun was wrongfully issued because it was not
entitled to the registration decree as it had no registrable title, since Zenaida Melliza (from whom
Maguesun supposedly bought the lots) conveyed no title over the subject parcels of land to Maguesun
Corporation as she was not the owner thereof.
b) Whether an order from the trial court is necessary for the Register of Deeds concerned to cancel
OCT No. 0-515 and all its derivative titles? Or is that order necessarily included in the dispositive
portion of the Supreme Court decision directing the LRA to issue the corresponding decree of
registration and certificate of title in favor of the Roxas heirs, considering that the original certificate
of title issued to Maguesun was based on an illegal decree of registration as found by this Honorable
Court. Further, the unconditional order of the Supreme Court to LRA to issue the corresponding
certificate of title to the Roxas heirs necessarily implies that the OCT issued to Maguesun and its
derivative titles shall be canceled, for it cannot [be] assumed that the Supreme Court intended that the
same parcel of land shall be covered by more than one certificate of title.
c)
Whether an order from the trial court is necessary before the LRA can comply with the Supreme
Court decision directing the LRA to issue with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of
registration and certificate of title in favor of the Roxas heirs?
On 23 June 1998, the Roxas heirs filed a Supplement to Motion for Clarification, the pertinent portions
of which are:
1.
In petitioners Motion for Clarification, one of the items sought to be clarified is whether the
derivative titles (i.e., the titles derived from Maguesun Management and Development Corporations
[Maguesun] Original Certificate of Title No. 0-515 and issued to Meycauayan Central Realty Corp.)
should be canceled, together with Maguesuns certificates of title, so that new decree of registration and
certificate of title can be issued to petitioners, as ordered in the decision of this Honorable Court dated
21 March 1997, which has become final and executory?
2.
From the Petition for Intervention filed by Meycauayan Central Realty Corporation
(Meycauayan) with this Honorable Court on 22 May 1997, the following statements, among others,
are alleged:
a.

That on May 14, 1992, the intervenor purchased for value several parcels of
real property from private respondent Maguesun Management and Development
Corp. covered by TCT Nos. 24294, 24295 and 24296 containing an area of 2,019
square meters each, more or less.

b.

That prior to paying the agreed purchase price in full to respondent Maguesun,

an investigation with the Tagaytay City Office of the Register of Deeds was
made to determine and ascertain the authenticity, status and condition of the
titles of Maguesun over the aforesaid properties.
c.

That investigation made by the intervenor with the Office of Register of Deeds
of Tagaytay City showed that in all the certified true copies of the titles to the
properties above-mentioned which were registered in the name of Maguesun,
the last entry which appeared was the following, to wit: x x x.

d.

Appearing that the properties to be purchased by the herein intervenor from


respondent Maguesun have no existing liens and/or encumbrances and
considering that the properties do not appear to be the subject of a pending case
which would affect the titles of those who may subsequently purchase the same,
the herein intervenor proceeded to pay, in full, the total amount of ONE
MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P1,500,000.00) to
Maguesun. Immediately thereafter, Maguesun, through its duly authorized
officer, executed the corresponding Deeds of Absolute Sale.

e.

That after the corresponding taxes and/or fees were paid by herein intervenor,
the aforementioned TCT Nos. T-24294, 24295 and 24296, were canceled and in
lieu thereof, new titles in the name of intervenor were issued by the Register of
Deeds of Tagaytay City.

f.

That on March 25, 1997, an officer of the intervenor corporation was informed
of a newspaper report stating, in big bold letters, the following sub-headline, to
wit:
SC RULES ON ROXAS FAMILY
LAND ROW IN TAGAYTAY.

g.

The President of herein intervenor right after secured from the Tagaytay City
Office of the Register of Deeds certified true copies of torrens titles over its
Tagaytay City properties.

h.

That only then, after it secured certified true copies of the titles mentioned in
the preceding paragraph from the Office of the Register of Deeds of Tagaytay
City, did intervenor come to know of the existence of a case involving the
properties sold to it by respondent Maguesun on May 14, 1992.

3.
Meycauayans Petition for Intervention was denied by this Honorable Court in its Resolution
dated 25 June 1997, a denial that has since become final and executory. However, as stated in
petitioners Motion for Clarification, Meycauayan committed the proscribed act of forum-shopping by
filing with the trial court a motion for leave to intervene raising again the issue of its alleged
ownership of portions of the land.
4.
In order to settle once and for all Meycauayans allegation that it was a buyer in good faith, and
to show that its derivative titles should be declared void and canceled by this Honorable Court,
petitioners will show herein that the sale to Meycauayan was spurious or, at the very least, it was a
buyer in bad faith.
In a Resolution dated 29 July 1998, this Court acted favorably on the Roxas heirs Motion for
Clarification and its Supplement. The pertinent portions of the Resolution read:
Upon careful consideration of the points made by petitioners in their motions, this Court finds the same
meritorious and, hence, a clarification is in order. We, therefore, declare that our directive on the LRA
to issue with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title also
includes, as part thereof, the cancellation, without need of an order of the land registration court, of

Decree No. N-197092, as well as OCT No. 0-515, and all its derivative titles. This is a necessary
consequence of the Courts earlier finding that the foregoing documents were illegally issued in the
name of respondent. But in light of Section 39 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (the Property
Registration Decree), Decree No. N-197092 which originated from the LRA must be cancelled by the
LRA itself. On account of this cancellation, it is now incumbent upon the LRA to issue in lieu of the
cancelled decree a new one in the name of petitioners as well as the corresponding original certificate
of title. Cancellation of OCT No. 0-515, on the other hand, properly devolves upon the Register of
Deeds who, under Section 40 of P.D. No. 1529, has earlier entered a copy thereof in his record book.
OCT No. 0-515 having been nullified, all titles derived therefrom must also be considered void it
appearing that there had been no intervening rights of an innocent purchaser for value involving the
lots in dispute.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby resolves to GRANT petitioners Motion for Clarification together
with the Supplement thereto. For this reason, the dispositive portion of our decision dated March 21,
1997 is clarified, thus:
First, the Register of Deeds shall CANCEL OCT No. 0-515 and all its derivative titles, namely, TCT
Nos. T-25625, T-25626, T-25627, T-25628, T-25688, T-25689, and T-25690, the latter three being
already in the name of Meycauayan Realty and Development Corporation (also designated as
Meycauayan Central Realty, Inc. and Meycauayan Realty Corporation).
Thereafter, the Land Registration Authority shall:
(a)

CANCEL Decree No. N-197092 originally issued in the name of Maguesun


Management and Development Corporation without need of an order from the
land registration court; and

(b)

ISSUE with reasonable dispatch a new decree of registration and a new original
certificate of title (OCT) in favor of petitioners pursuant to Section 39 of
Presidential Decree No. 1529. (Emphasis added)

On 11 December 1998, the land registration court issued an order denying the LRA Report dated 25
March 1998 and the Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by Meycauayan since the Supreme Court
Resolution of 29 July 1998 had rendered them moot.
The Register of Deeds of Tagaytay City then canceled TCT Nos. T-25626, T-25627, T-25628, T-25688,
T-25689, T-25690 and T-27390.[3] TCT Nos. T-25688, T-25689, T-25690 and T-27390 were
derivative titles already in the name of Meycauayan.
On 5 April 1999, the Roxas heirs filed a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession with the land
registration court.
On 20 April 1999, Meycauayan filed a Complaint for reconveyance, damages and quieting of title with
the trial court entitled Meycauayan Central Realty Corp. v. Heirs of Manuel A. Roxas and Trinidad de
Leon Vda. de Roxas, Maguesun Management and Development Corp., Register of Deeds of Tagaytay
City, City Assessor of Tagaytay City and Land Registration Authority. [4] The Complaint is almost an
exact reproduction of the Petition for Intervention filed by Meycauayan before this Court. The
Complaint prayed for judgment:
1.
Ordering the defendants Land Registration Authority and the Register of Deeds of Tagaytay City
to cancel the titles and decree of registration they issued in lieu of TCT Nos. 25688, 25689, 25690 and
27390 registered in the name of plaintiff Meycauayan Central Realty Corporation and reconvey said
properties to the plaintiff corporation by reinstating the said cancelled titles or if the same not be
possible, cause the issuance of new decrees and titles thereto;
2.
Ordering the defendant City Assessor of Tagaytay City to reinstate the Assessments for real
estate taxes it previously cancelled covering the properties of plaintiff;

3.
Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff actual
and/or compensatory damages in the total amount of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
(P500,000.00);
4.
Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff the
amount of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00) as and by way of nominal damages;
5.
Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff
exemplary damages in the amount of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00);
6.
Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff
Attorneys fees in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00); and
7.
Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff the costs
of suit.[5]
On 6 May 1999, Meycauayan filed a Special Appearance Questioning Court Jurisdiction and
Opposition to the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession Against Meycauayan Central Realty
Corporation with the land registration court.
On 2 September 1999, the land registration court issued an order, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, let a Writ of Possession be issued against Maguesun
Management and Development Corporation in these cases. However, insofar as Meycauayan Central
Realty is concerned, let a resolution of the motion filed by the movants herein be deferred until the
Supreme Court had resolved with finality the petition for contempt of herein movant in G.R. No.
138660.
On 7 March 2000, the trial court dismissed for lack of merit Meycauayans complaint for
reconveyance, damages and quieting of title. The trial court held that (1) the nullity of OCT No. 0-515,
which is the source of Meycauayans titles, is now res judicata; (2) the complaints prayer for the trial
court to annul the decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 118436 is beyond the trial courts
jurisdiction; and (3) Meycauayan is guilty of forum shopping.[6] The trial court likewise denied
Meycauayans Motion for Reconsideration in an Order dated 20 June 2000.[7] On 24 August 2000,
Meycauayan filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the Court of
Appeals assailing the trial courts dismissal of the complaint.
Meanwhile, the Roxas heirs filed on 2 June 1999 this petition to cite for indirect contempt the officers
of Meycauayan.
The Issues
The parties raised the following issues:

3.

1.

Whether this Courts Decision and Resolution in G.R. No. 118436 bind Meycauayan;

2.

Whether Meycauayans act of filing with the trial court a complaint for reconveyance,
damages and quieting of title involving parcels of land, which were the subject of this
Courts Decision and Resolution in G.R. No. 118436, constitutes indirect contempt
under Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Civil Procedure; and

Whether Meycauayan is guilty of forum shopping.

The Courts Ruling


The petition is meritorious. We find Meycauayans Executive Vice-President Juan M. Lamson, Jr.
guilty of indirect contempt. We also find that Meycauayan committed forum shopping, and thus
Meycauayan and its Executive Vice President Juan M. Lamson, Jr. are guilty of direct contempt.

The Roxas heirs allege that the following acts of Meycauayan constitute indirect contempt under
Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Civil Procedure: (1)Meycauayans defiance of the final and
executory Decision and Resolution of this Court in G.R. No. 118436; (2) its act of filing pleadings
before the land registration court to prevent execution of the Decision and Resolution; (3) its act of
filing a Complaint raising the same issues in its Petition for Intervention which this Court had already
denied and urging the trial court to ignore and countermand the orders of this Court.
On the other hand, Meycauayan alleges that the Decision in G.R. No. 118436 does not bind
Meycauayan because it was not a party in the case. According to Meycauayan, the Decision in G.R.
No. 118436 may be enforced against Maguesun but not against Meycauayan which is a stranger to the
case. Meycauayan insists that as a purchaser in good faith and for value its rights cannot be prejudiced
by the alleged fraudulent acquisition by Maguesun of the subject properties. Meycauayan, therefore, is
not liable for contempt of court for filing an action for reconveyance, quieting of title and damages.
The issue of whether the Decision in G.R. No. 118436 binds Meycauayan was already addressed by
this Court when it denied Meycauayans Petition for Intervention. Furthermore, this Courts Resolution
dated 29 July 1998 clarified the Decision dated 21 March 1997 by ordering the Register of Deeds to
CANCEL OCT No. 0-515 and all its derivative titles, namely, TCT Nos. T-25625, T-25626, T-25627,
T-25628, T-25688, T-25689, and T-25690, the latter three already in the name of Meycauayan Realty
and Development Corporation (also designated as Meycauayan Central Realty, Inc. and
Meycauayan Realty Corporation). This Court also found that there had been no intervening rights of
an innocent purchaser for value involving the lots in dispute.
Indirect Contempt
Meycauayans obstinate refusal to abide by the Courts Decision in G.R. No. 118436 has no basis in
view of this Courts clear pronouncement to the contrary. The fact that this Court specifically ordered
the cancelation of Meycauayans titles to the disputed parcels of land in the Resolution dated 29 July
1998 should have laid to rest the issue of whether the Decision and Resolution in G.R. No. 118436 is
binding on Meycauayan. Clearly, Meycauayans defiance of this Courts Decision and Resolution by
filing an action for reconveyance, quieting of title and damages involving the same parcels of land
which this Court already decided with finality constitutes indirect contempt under Section 3(d), Rule 71
of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Section 3(d) of Rule 71 reads:
SEC. 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. After a charge in writing has
been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as may
be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts
may be punished for indirect contempt:
xxx
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the
administration of justice;
In Halili, et al. v. CIR, et al.,[8] this Court explained the concept of contempt of court:
Contempt of court is a defiance of the authority, justice or dignity of the court; such conduct as tends to
bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or prejudice parties
litigant or their witnesses during litigation (12 Am. Jur. 389, cited in 14 SCRA 813).
Contempt of court is defined as a disobedience to the Court by acting in opposition to its authority,
justice and dignity. It signifies not only a willful disregard or disobedience of the courts orders, but
such conduct as tends to bring the authority of the court and the administration of law into disrepute or
in some manner to impede the due administration of justice (17 C.J.S. 4).
This Court has thus repeatedly declared that the power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts
and is essential to the preservation of order in judicial proceedings and to the enforcement of

judgments, orders, and mandates of the court, and consequently, to the due administration of justice
(Slade Perkins vs. Director of Prisons, 58 Phil. 271; In re Kelly, 35 Phil. 944; Commissioner of
Immigration vs. Cloribel, 20 SCRA 1241; Montalban vs. Canonoy, 38 SCRA 1).
Meycauayans continuing resistance to this Courts judgment is an affront to the Court and to the
sovereign dignity with which it is clothed.[9] Meycauayans persistent attempts to raise issues long
since laid to rest by a final and executory judgment of no less than the highest tribunal of the land
constitute contumacious defiance of the authority of this Court and impede the speedy administration of
justice.[10]
Well-settled is the rule that when a court of competent jurisdiction has tried and decided a right or fact,
so long as the decision remains unreversed, it is conclusive on the parties and those in privity with
them.[11] More so where the Supreme Court has already decided the issue since the Court is the final
arbiter of all justiciable controversies properly brought before it.[12] As held in Buaya v. Stronghold
Insurance Co., Inc.:[13]
x x x An existing final judgment or decree rendered upon the merits, without fraud or collusion, by a
court of competent jurisdiction acting upon a matter within its authority is conclusive of the rights of
the parties and their privies. This ruling holds in all other actions or suits, in the same or any other
judicial tribunal of concurrent jurisdiction, touching on the points or matters in issue in the first suit.
xxx
Courts will simply refuse to reopen what has been decided. They will not allow the same parties or
their privies to litigate anew a question, once it has been considered and decided with finality.
Litigations must end and terminate sometime and somewhere. The effective and efficient
administration of justice requires that once a judgment has become final, the prevailing party should
not be deprived of the fruits of the verdict by subsequent suits on the same issues filed by the same
parties.
This is in accordance with the doctrine of res judicata which has the following elements: (1) the former
judgment must be final; (2) the court which rendered it had jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
parties; (3) the judgment must be on the merits; and (4) there must be between the first and the second
actions, identity of parties, subject matter and causes of action.[14] The application of the doctrine of res
judicata does not require absolute identity of parties but merely substantial identity of parties.[15] There
is substantial identity of parties when there is community of interest or privity of interest between a
party in the first and a party in the second case even if the first case did not implead the latter.[16]
The Court ruled in G.R. No. 118436 that Meycauayans predecessor-in-interest, Maguesun, committed
actual fraud in obtaining the decree of registration of the subject properties. The Decision in G.R. No.
118436 binds Meycauayan under the principle of privity of interest since it was a successor-ininterest of Maguesun. Meycauayan, however, insists that it was a purchaser in good faith because it had
no knowledge of any pending case involving the lots. Meycauayan claims that the trial court had
already canceled the notice of lis pendens on the titles when it purchased the lots from Maguesun. In
its Memorandum, Meycauayan stresses that to ensure the authenticity of the titles and the annotations
appearing on the titles, particularly the cancelation of the notice of lis pendens, Meycauayan checked
with the Register of Deeds and the Regional Trial Court of Tagaytay City.[17] Since Meycauayan
checked with the Regional Trial Court of Tagaytay City, Meycauayan then had actual knowledge,
before it purchased the lots, of the pending case involving the lots despite the cancelation of the notice
of lis pendens on the titles.
Furthermore, as found by this Court in G.R. No. 118436, the Roxas family has been in possession of
the property uninterruptedly through their caretaker, Jose Ramirez, who resided on the property.[18]
Where the land sold is in the possession of a person other than the vendor, the purchaser must go
beyond the certificates of title and make inquiries concerning the rights of the actual possessor.[19]

Meycauayan therefore cannot invoke the right of a purchaser in good faith and could not have acquired
a better right than its predecessor-in-interest. This Court has already rejected Meycauayans claim that
it was a purchaser in good faith when it ruled in G.R. No. 118436 that there had been no intervening
rights of an innocent purchaser for value involving the lots in dispute. As held in Heirs of Pael v. Court
of Appeals:[20]
In the case of Santiago Land Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 106194, 276
SCRA 674 [1997]), petitioner maintained that as a purchaser pendente lite of the land in litigation, it
had a right to intervene under Rule 12, Section 2. We rejected this position and said that since
petitioner is not a stranger to the action between Quisumbing and the PNB, petitioner in fact having
stepped into the shoes of PNB in a manner of speaking, it follows that it cannot claim any further right
to intervene in the action. As in the instant Petition, it was argued that the denial of the Motion to
Intervene would be a denial likewise of due process. But this, too, was struck down in Santiago Land
where we held that petitioner is not really denied protection. It is represented in the action by its
predecessor in interest. Indeed, since petitioner is a transferee pendente lite with notice of the pending
litigation between Reyes and private respondent Carreon, petitioner stands exactly in the shoes of
Reyes and is bound by any judgment or decree which may be rendered for or against the latter.
Indeed, one who buys property with full knowledge of the flaws and defects of the title of his vendor
and of a pending litigation over the property gambles on the result of the litigation and is bound by the
outcome of his indifference.[21] A purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable
man on guard and then claim that he acted in good faith believing that there was no defect in the title of
the vendor.[22]
For the penalty for indirect contempt, Section 7 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 7. Punishment for indirect contempt. If the respondent is adjudged guilty of indirect contempt
committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, he may be punished
by a fine not exceeding thirty thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both. x
xx
In this case, Meycauayan Executive Vice President Juan M. Lamson, Jr. caused the preparation and the
filing of the Petition for Intervention in G.R. No. 118436 and the Complaint for Reconveyance,
Damages and Quieting of Title with the trial court.[23] Juan M. Lamson, Jr. signed the verification and
certification of non-forum shopping for the Petition for Intervention and the Complaint for
Reconveyance, Damages and Quieting of Title. Even though a judgment, decree, or order is addressed
to the corporation only, the officers, as well as the corporation itself, may be punished for contempt for
disobedience to its terms, at least if they knowingly disobey the courts mandate, since a lawful judicial
command to a corporation is in effect a command to the officers.[24] Thus, for improper conduct
tending to impede the orderly administration of justice, Meycauayan Executive Vice President Juan M.
Lamson, Jr. should be fined ten thousand pesos (P10,000).[25]
Direct Contempt
Meycauayans act of filing a Complaint for Reconveyance, Quieting of Title and Damages raising the
same issues in its Petition for Intervention, which this Court had already denied, also constitutes forum
shopping. Forum shopping is the act of a party against whom an adverse judgment has been rendered
in one forum, seeking another and possibly favorable opinion in another forum other than by appeal or
special civil action of certiorari. There is also forum shopping when a party institutes two or more
actions based on the same cause on the expectation that one or the other court might look with favor on
the party.[26]
In this case, the Court had already rejected Meycauayans claim on the subject lots when the Court
denied Meycauayans Petition for Intervention in G.R. No. 118436. The Court ruled that there had been
no intervening rights of an innocent purchaser for value involving the lots in dispute. The Decision of

this Court in G.R. No. 118436 is already final and executory. The filing by Meycauayan of an action to
re-litigate the title to the same property, which this Court had already adjudicated with finality, is an
abuse of the courts processes and constitutes direct contempt.
Section 5 of Rule 7 of the Rules of Court provides that if the acts of the party or his counsel clearly
constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be a ground for summary dismissal
with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt, as well as a cause for administrative sanctions.
The fact that Meycauayan did mention in its certification of non-forum shopping its attempt to
intervene in G.R. No. 118436, which this Court denied,[27] does not negate the existence of forum
shopping. This disclosure does not exculpate Meycauayan for deliberately seeking a friendlier forum
for its case and re-litigating an issue which this Court had already decided with finality.[28]
The general rule is that a corporation and its officers and agents may be held liable for contempt. A
corporation and those who are officially responsible for the conduct of its affairs may be punished for
contempt in disobeying judgments, decrees, or orders of a court made in a case within its jurisdiction.
[29]

Under Section 1 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, direct contempt is punishable by a fine not exceeding
two thousand pesos (P2,000) or imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) days, or both, if committed
against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank. Hence, Meycauayan [30] and its
Executive Vice President Juan M. Lamson, Jr. are each fined P2,000 for direct contempt of court for
forum shopping.
WHEREFORE, we find Meycauayan Central Realty Corporations Executive Vice President Juan M.
Lamson, Jr. GUILTY of INDIRECT CONTEMPT and FINE him TEN THOUSAND PESOS
(P10,000). Furthermore, we find Meycauayan Central Realty Corporation and its Executive Vice
President Juan M. Lamson, Jr. GUILTY of DIRECT CONTEMPT for forum shopping and FINE them
TWO THOUSAND PESOS (P2,000) each. The Court warns them that a repetition of the same or
similar offense shall merit a more severe penalty.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on official leave.

[1]

337 Phil. 41 (1997).

[2]

Ibid.

TCT No. 27390 was the new title issued in the name of Meycauayan in lieu of the canceled TCT No.
25625 registered in the name of Maguesun.
[3]

[4]

Civil Case No. TG-1893.

[5]

Rollo, pp. 62-63.

[6]

Ibid., pp. 283-287.

[7]

Ibid., p. 288.

[8]

220 Phil. 507 (1985).

[9]

People v. Godoy, 312 Phil. 977 (1995).

[10]

See Pacquing v. Court of Appeals, et al., 200 Phil. 516 (1982).

[11]

Fulgencio, et al. v. National labor Relations Commission (First Division) and Raycor Aircontrol

Systems, Inc., G.R. No. 141600, 12 September 2003; Bardillon v. Barangay Masili of Calamba,
Laguna, G.R. No. 146886, 30 April, 2003; Oropeza Marketing Corporation, et al. v. Allied Banking
Corporation, G.R. No. 129788, 3 December 2002.
[12]

Firestone Ceramics, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 372 Phil. 401 (1999).

[13]

G.R. No. 139020, 11 October 2000, 342 SCRA 576.

Rovels Enterprises, Inc. v. Ocampo, G.R. No. 136821, 17 October 2002, 391 SCRA 176; Quezon
Province v. Hon. Marte, 420 Phil. 177 (2001).
[14]

Development Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 110203, 9 May 2001, 357
SCRA 626.
[15]

[16]

Sendon v. Ruiz, 415 Phil. 376 (2001).

[17]

Rollo, pp. 226-227, 229.

[18]

Heirs of Manuel A. Roxas v. Court of Appeals, 337 Phil. 41 (1997).

[19]

Development Bank of the Phils. v. CA, 387 Phil. 283 (2000).

[20]

382 Phil. 222, 255-256 (2000), citing Seveses v. Court of Appeals, 375 Phil. 64, 72 (1999).

Liu v. Loy, G.R. No. 145982, 3 July 2003, citing Toledo-Banaga v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
127941, 28 January 1999, 302 SCRA 331.
[21]

Domingo v. Roces, G.R. No. 147468, 9 April 2003; Development Bank of the Phils. v. CA, 387
Phil. 283 (2000).
[22]

[23]

Rollo, pp. 32-33, 63.

[24]

17 C.J.S. Contempt 34 (1963).

In Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. COMELEC (G.R. Nos. 147589 &. 147613, 18
February 2003), the Court found the COMELEC members guilty of contempt for (1) issuing three
Resolutions which are outside the jurisdiction of the COMELEC, (2) for degrading the dignity of this
Court, (3) for brazen disobedience to this Courts lawful directives, and (4) for delaying the ultimate
resolution of the many incidents of the party-list case, to the prejudice of the litigants and of the
country. The COMELEC Chairman and four COMELEC Commissioners were each fined P20,000
while the two remaining Commissioners, whose actions were less serious in degree than their
colleagues, were each fined P5,000. In Gamido v. New Bilibid Prison (G.R. No. 146783, 29 July 2002,
385 SCRA 325), the Court sentenced the petitioner to pay a fine of P10,000 or suffer imprisonment for
a period of one month and one day, for appearing as counsel in the case without license to practice law.
In In Re: Published Alleged Threats Against Members of the Court in the Plunder Law Case Hurled by
Atty. Leonardo De Vera (A.M. No. 01-12-03-SC, 29 July 2002, 385 SCRA 285), respondent lawyer
was fined P20,000 for uttering statements aimed at influencing and threatening the Court in deciding in
favor of the constitutionality of the Plunder Law. In United BF Homeowners v. Sandoval-Gutierrez
(A.M. No. CA-99-30, 16 October 2000, 343 SCRA 162), the Court imposed a fine of P10,000 on one
of the complainants whose scurrilous attacks on the honor and integrity of two justices as well as that
of the members of this Court, undermined the Courts capacity to render justice.
[25]

United Special Watchman Agency v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 152476, 8 July 2003; Santos v.
Commission on Elections (First Division), G.R. No. 155618, 26 March 2003; New Sampaguita
Builders Construction, Inc. v. The Estate of Fermina Canoso, G.R. No. 151447, 14 February 2003.
[26]

[27]

Rollo, p. 63.

[28]

See Request for Consolidation of Civil Case Nos. R-1169 & 3640, 416 Phil. 562 (2001).

[29]

17 Am. Jur. 2d Contempt 60 (1990).

Under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, direct contempt may be punished summarily while indirect
contempt requires a written charge and due hearing. Thus, although Meycauayan cannot be held guilty
of indirect contempt because only the officers of Meycauayan were included in the charge for indirect
contempt, Meycauayan can still be held guilty for direct contempt.
[30]

Supreme Court E-Library

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 143464. March 5, 2003]
EMILIO S. YOUNG, petitioner, vs. JOHN KENG SENG a.k.a JOHN SY, respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
In general, violation of the rule on forum shopping should be raised at the earliest opportunity in a
motion to dismiss or a similar pleading. Invoking it in the later stages of the proceedings or on appeal
may result in the dismissal of the action as an exception only if the violation arises from or will result
in (1) the loss of jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) the pendency of another action between the
same parties for the same cause, (3) the barring of the action by a prior judgment, or (4) the crossing of
the Statute of Limitations.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set
aside the February 24, 2000 Decision and the May 26, 2000 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA)[1]
in CA-GR SP No. 52976. The decretal portion of the assailed Decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition at bench is DISMISSED. Costs against the petitioner.[2]
The assailed Resolution[3] denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.
The Facts
The factual antecedents are summarized by the CA as follows:
On September 16, 1996, the herein private respondent John Keng Seng, a.k.a. John Sy, filed a
complaint for accounting of general agency, injunction, turning over of properties, and damages, with
the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 53, against the herein petitioner Emilio Young and his
wife, Tita Young. The case was docketed thereat as Civil Case No. 96-9508. The private respondent
subsequently filed an Amended Complaint with the same Court. The spouses Young, for their part,
filed a Motion to Dismiss the case for lack of cause of action.
On March 6, 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 53, issued an order dismissing
Civil Case No. 96-9508. The private respondents Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid order
was denied by the same court in its Order of April 2, 1997.
On June 23, 1997, John Keng Seng filed another complaint for accounting and damages with the
Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 44, against the herein petitioner Emilio Young. The case
was docketed in that court as Civil Case No. 97-9830. Young filed a Motion to Dismiss the case on the
ground that the complaint fails to state a good, valid and/or worthwhile cause of action against the
defendant. The respondent court denied the Motion to Dismiss in its order of August 19, 1997. The
petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid order based on the following grounds:
The complainant x x x fails to state a good, valid and/or worthwhile cause of action as against the
defendant.
and
Plaintiff had fatally failed to comply with the rule against forum shopping, as he has in fact
deliberately submitted a false certification under oath as contained in the complaint in the present suit.
The private respondent having filed his Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration, and the petitioner,
his Reply, the presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental, Branch 44, Bacolod
City, Judge Anastacio I. Lobaton, issued an order x x x date[d] September 23, 1997 granting the

petitioners Motion for Reconsideration and dismissing Civil Case No. 97-9830. To this, the private
respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration; to which, the petitioner, in turn, tendered an Opposition.
On October 24, 1997, Judge A.I. Lobaton inhibited himself from the case, thusly
WHEREFORE, undersigned inhibits himself from hearing the cases wherein John Keng Seng is one
of the parties and let the following records be forwarded to the Office of the Clerk of Court of RTC,
Bacolod City for re-raffle.
SO ORDERED.
Bacolod City, October 24, 1997.
(SGD) ANASTACIO I. LOBATON
Presiding Judge
On December 16, 1998, the herein public respondent Judge Demosthenes L. Magallanes, the presiding
judge of the respondent Branch 54, Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, to whom the present case
was re-raffled, issued an order, the decretal part of which reads:
THEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing consideration, this Court is of the opinion that the herein
plaintiff had not violated the rule on forum shopping. The order dated September 23, 1998 is therefore
RECONSIDERED. The Clerk of Court is hereby directed to set the case for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.
Bacolod City, Philippines, December 16, 1998.
(SGD) DEMOSTHENES L. MAGALLANES
Judge
The petitioner moved for reconsideration of the above order, but his motion was [denied] by the
respondent court x x x in its order of April 23, 1999. (Citations omitted)[4]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In dismissing petitioners appeal, the CA ruled that respondent did not violate the rule on forum
shopping, since Civil Case No. 96-9508 (the First Case) had been dismissed by the RTC on March 6,
1997; while Civil Case No. 97-9830 (the Second Case) had been filed only on June 23, 1997. It
further held that failure to state a cause of action -- the ground on which petitioner based his Motion to
Dismiss -- [did] not, and [could not], bar the refiling of the same action or claim.[5]
Hence, this Petition.[6]
The Issues
In his Memorandum,[7] petitioner assigns this lone error for the Courts consideration:
Whether or not in holding that respondent has not violated the rule against forum shopping
notwithstanding and despite the record clearly showing and the trial court itself having categorically
found via its Order of Sept. 23, 1997 there to have been the willful and deliberate submission of a false
certification (against forum shopping) as well as non-compliance with the undertaking under Rule 7,
Sec. 5 of the Rules of Court, the Court of Appeals had decided a question of substance in a way not in
accord with law, that law being the rule abovementioned and jurisprudence; as well as had sanctioned a
substantial departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to warrant the
exercise by this Honorable Tribunal of its supervisory powers thereover.[8] (Citation omitted)
On the other hand, respondent raises these two issues before us:
I. Whether or not the Court of Appeals has sanctioned a substantial departure from the accepted and

usual course of judicial proceedings in upholding the order dated September 16, 1998 in Civil Case No.
97-9830 of Hon. Judge Demosthenes Magallanes denying petitioners motion to dismiss on the alleged
ground of forum shopping; and
II. Whether or not the petitioner is deemed to have waived the right to invoke forum shopping as a
ground for a motion to dismiss in Civil Case No. 97-9830.[9]
For purposes of clarity, we deem it wise to discuss the issues as follows: (1) whether petitioner can still
raise the alleged violation of the rule on non-forum shopping, even if he failed to cite it as a ground in
his Motion to Dismiss the Second Case; (2) whether the CA erred in holding that respondent had not
violated the rule on forum shopping; and (3) whether such violation warrants the automatic dismissal of
the Second Case.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is not meritorious. We sustain respondent, but not for the reasons given by the Court of
Appeals or the Regional Trial Court.
First Issue:
Waiver
Petitioner contends that the CA should have ordered the dismissal of the Second Case. Allegedly,
respondent was guilty of forum shopping when he deliberately and willfully submitted a false
certification of non-forum shopping.[10]
On the other hand, respondent claims that petitioner waived this ground by failing to raise it in his
Motion to Dismiss before the trial court.
Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court provides that defenses and objections not pleaded in a motion
to dismiss or in an answer are deemed waived. However, courts shall nonetheless dismiss the claim
when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that (1) the court has no jurisdiction over
the subject matter, (2) there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, (3)
the action is barred by prior judgment, or 4) the statute of limitations has been crossed.
Bolstering this provision is Section 8 of Rule 15 which states: Subject to the provisions of Section 1
of Rule 9, a motion attacking a pleading, order, judgment, or proceeding shall include all objections
then available, and all objections not so included shall be deemed waived.
Applying these principles to the instant case, we hold that petitioner is barred from raising the ground
of forum shopping in the Court of Appeals and in this Court. If only for his failure to invoke such
ground at the first opportunity in his Motion to Dismiss filed in the trial court,[11] his appeal should
have been given short shrift and denied outright.
However, we deem it wise to give due course to the Petition herein to discuss -- for the benefit of the
bench and the bar -- the interrelated issues of whether respondent violated the rule on non-forum
shopping, and whether such violation warrants the automatic dismissal of the present case.
Second and Third Issues:
Forum Shopping
Petitioner avers that respondent violated the rule on non-forum shopping when he knowingly,
deliberately and willfully certified falsely under oath that he had not commenced any other action or
petition before any court, tribunal or agency involving the same issue.
It is said that forum shopping is committed by a party who, having received an adverse judgment in one
forum, seeks another opinion in another court, other than by appeal or the special civil action of
certiorari. More accurately, however, forum shopping is the institution of two or more suits in different
courts, either simultaneously or successively, in order to ask the courts to rule on the same or related

causes and/or to grant the same or substantially the same reliefs.[12] It is an act of malpractice that is
prohibited and condemned because it trifles with the courts and abuses their processes. It degrades the
administration of justice and adds to the already congested court dockets.[13]
To stamp out this abominable practice of trifling with the administration of justice, the Supreme Court
promulgated Administrative Circulars 28-91 and 04-94, which are now embodied as Section 5 of Rule
7 of the Rules of Court, which we reproduce as follows:
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.
In dismissing a case based on forum shopping, it is important to consider the vexation caused [to] the
courts and parties-litigants by a party who asks different courts to rule on the same or related causes or
grant the same or substantially the same reliefs.[14] Thus, to determine whether a party violated the rule
against forum shopping, the most important factor to ask is whether the elements of litis pendentia[15]
are present, or whether a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata[16] in another.[17]
Otherwise stated, the test for determining forum shopping is whether in the two (or more) cases
pending, there is identity of parties, rights or causes of action, and reliefs sought.[18]
In First Philippine International Bank v. Court of Appeals,[19] the test for determining the presence of
forum shopping was explained by the Court as follows:
The test for determining whether a party violated the rule against forum shopping has been laid down
in the 1986 case of Buan v. Lopez, x x x by Chief Justice Narvasa, and that is, forum shopping exists
where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to
res judicata in the other, as follows:
There thus exists between the action before this Court and the RTC Case No. 86-36563 identity of
parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests in both action, as well as 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 the requisites, in
fine, of auter action pendant.
xxx

xxx

xxx

As already observed, there is between the action at bar and the RTC Case No. 86-36563, an identity as
regards parties, or interests represented, rights asserted and relief sought, as well as basis thereof, to a
degree sufficient to give rise to the ground for dismissal known as auter action pendant or lis pendens.

That same identity puts into operation the sanction of twin dismissals just mentioned. The application
of this sanction will prevent any further delay in the settlement of the controversy which might ensue
from attempts to seek reconsideration of or to appeal from the Order of the Regional Trial Court in
Civil Case No. 86-36563 promulgated on July 15, 1986, which dismissed the petition upon grounds
which appear persuasive.
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 judicata and thus would cause the dismissal of the
rest. In either case, forum shopping could be cited by the other party as a ground to ask for summary
dismissal of the two (or more) complaints or petitions, which are direct contempt of court, criminal
prosecution, and disciplinary action against the erring lawyer.[20]
Ruling that respondent was not guilty of forum shopping, the RTC issued its Order dated December 16,
1998, in which it said:
A close scrutiny of the records shows that Civil Case No. 96-9508 was dismissed on March 6, 1997;
Civil Case No. 97-9830 was filed on June 23, 1997, more than two months after the first dismissal.
This shows that when the latter case was filed, the previous case was no longer pending. In short, the
element of litis pendentia is not present under the circumstances.
As to the second element, since the dismissal in Civil Case No. 96-9508 is based on the theory that the
complaint did not state a cause of action then it does not bar the plaintiff from refiling the same action
or claim with the proper allegations showing a valid cause of action. No res judicata would arise in one
action as to the other.
THEREFORE, in light of the foregoing consideration, this Court is of the opinion that the herein
plaintiff has not violated the rule on forum shopping. x x x
This holding was sustained by the CA. We opine, however, that a perusal of respondents certification
shows that there was a violation of the rule on non-forum shopping. The certification is hereunder
quoted verbatim:
5. That I hereby certify that I have not commenced any other action or petition before any court,
tribunal or agency involving the same issue and to the best of my knowledge, no such action or
proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Regional Trial Court or any other
tribunal or agency and that if I should learn of any action filed in said office I will accordingly
informed [sic] this Hon. Court of said action and the status therein within five (5) days from knowledge
thereof.[21]
The foregoing certification is obviously inaccurate, if not downright false, because it does not disclose
the filing of the First Case. Had this violation been appropriately brought up in the Motion to Dismiss,
it could have resulted in the abatement of the Second Case.
Nonetheless, strengthening our ruling on the First Issue, we hold that substantial justice[22] requires the
resolution of the present controversy on its merits. It must be noted that the verification requirement is
a formal, not a jurisdictional, requirement.[23] Moreover, the ground for the dismissal of the First Case
was lack of cause of action, which means that essentially, no case was filed, because the Complaint was
fatally defective on its face. Hence, its dismissal was not determinative of the Second Case.[24]
We repeat: the First Case was dismissed because of lack of cause of action. It was thus a dismissal
without prejudice; respondent was not barred from filing a new suit against petitioner involving the
same facts, but raising a cause of action arising therefrom. In fact, respondent actually filed the Second
Case, even if he failed to disclose in his certification that he had commenced the First Case against the
same defendant, herein petitioner. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that, whenever possible and

feasible, procedural rules should be liberally construed to ensure the just, speedy and inexpensive
disposition of actions and proceedings on their merits.[25]
In Loyola v. Court of Appeals,[26] we said that the rule on non-forum shopping was designed to promote
and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and, therefore, should not be interpreted literally at
all times.
The fact that the Circular requires that it be strictly complied with merely underscores its mandatory
nature in that it cannot be dispensed with or its requirements altogether disregarded, but it does not
thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances.[27]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. The trial court is
DIRECTED to hear the controversy and decide it with all deliberate speed. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
Corona, J., on leave.

Third Division. Penned by Justice Renato C. Dacudao (member); concurred in by Justices Quirino
D. Abad Santos Jr. (Division chairman) and B.A. Adefuin-de la Cruz (member).
[1]

[2]

Assailed CA Decision, p. 6; rollo, p. 120.

[3]

Rollo, pp. 128-129.

[4]

Assailed CA Decision, pp. 1-4; rollo, pp. 115-118.

[5]

Id., pp. 5 & 119.

The case was deemed submitted on April 26, 2001, upon this Courts receipt of respondents
Memorandum signed by Atty. Edmundo G. Manlapao. Petitioners Memorandum, signed by Atty.
Benjamin L. Hilado of Hilado, Hagad & Hilado, was received by the Court on April 17, 2001.
[6]

[7]

Rollo, pp. 155-177.

[8]

Id., p. 162. Original in upper case.

[9]

Respondents Memorandum, p. 8; rollo, 186.

10 Id.,

pp. 48-50.

11 Cf. Annex

I of Motion to Dismiss dated July 27, 1997; CA rollo, pp. 141-144.

Executive Secretary v. Gordon, 298 SCRA 736, 741, November 18, 1998; First Philippine
International Bank v. Court of Appeals, 252 SCRA 259, 283, January 24, 1996; Chemphil Export &
Import Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 251 SCRA 257, 291-292, December 12, 1995; International
Container Terminal Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 249 SCRA 389, 395-396, October 18, 1995.
[12]

Executive Secretary v. Gordon, supra; Chemphil Export & Import Corporation v. Court of Appeals,
supra.
[13]

[14]

Roxas v. Court of Appeals, 363 SCRA 207, 218, August 15, 2001, per de Leon Jr., J.

Before the pendency of one action can operate to abate a second one, there must be (1) substantial
identity of the parties and (2) substantial identity of causes of action and of the issues. J. Northcott &
Co., v. Villa-Abrille, 41 Phil. 462, March 17, 1921.
[15]

[16]

For the principle of res judicata to apply, the following elements must be present: (1) there is a

decision on the merits; (2) it was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) the decision is final;
and (4) the two actions involve identical parties, subject matter and causes of action. Roxas v. Court of
Appeals, supra, p. 218.
[17]

Spouses Tirona v. Alejo, GR No. 129313, October 10, 2001.

Employees Compensation Commission v. Court of Appeals, 257 SCRA 717, 723, June 28, 1996;
Buan v. Lopez Jr., 145 SCRA 34, 38, October 13, 1986.
[18]

[19]

Supra.

[20]

Id., pp. 283-284, per Panganiban, J.

[21]

Appendix E, Complaint, p. 4; CA rollo, p. 44.

Basco v. Court of Appeals, 326 SCRA 768, February 29, 2000; Magno-Adamos v. Bagasao, 162
SCRA 747, June 28, 1988; Beutifont Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 157 SCRA 481, January 29, 1988;
Lianga Bay Logging Co., Inc. v, Court of Appeals, 157 SCRA 357, January 28, 1988, Francisco v. City
of Davao, 12 SCRA 628, December 24, 1964.
[22]

[23]

Quimpo v. Dela Victoria, 46 SCRA 139, 144, July 31, 1972.

On the other hand, the present Rule on forum shopping gives petitioner remedies other than the
denial of the present Petition.
[24]

[25]

Section 6, Rule 1 of Rules of Court.

[26]

245 SCRA 477, June 29, 1995.

[27]

Id., pp. 483-484, per Davide Jr. (later CJ).

Supreme Court E-Library

THIRD DIVISION

MA.
CONCEPCION
REGALADO,

L.

Petitioner,

G.R. No. 167988


Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
- versus -

CALLEJO, SR., and


CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

Promulgated:
ANTONIO S. GO,
Respondent.

February 6, 2007

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, of

the Resolution[1] dated 30 August 2004 of the Court of Appeals, finding petitioner Ma.
Concepcion L. Regalado (Atty. Regalado) guilty of indirect contempt.

Likewise

assailed in this petition is the Resolution[2] denying her Motion for Reconsideration.
The dispositive portion of the Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, Atty. Ma. Concepcion Regalado of De Borja Medialdea Bello


Guevarra and Gerodias Law Offices is declared GUILTY of INDIRECT CONTEMPT
and is ordered to pay a fine of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000), with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with
more severely. The imposed fine should be paid to this Court upon finality hereof.
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant (sic), the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and the Court Administrator for investigation and possible
administrative sanction.[3]

The present controversy stemmed from the complaint of illegal dismissal filed
before the Labor Arbiter by herein respondent Antonio S. Go against Eurotech Hair
Systems, Inc. (EHSI), and its President Lutz Kunack and General Manager Jose E.
Barin.

In a Decision[4] dated 29 December 2000, the Labor Arbiter ruled that respondent
Go was illegally dismissed from employment, the decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1.

Declaring [EHSI, Kunack and Barin] guilty of illegal dismissal;

2.
Considering that reinstatement would not be feasible because of strained
relations, [EHSI, Kunack and Barin] are ordered to pay [herein respondent Go]
backwages in the amount of Php900,000.00 (Php60,000 x 15 months), separation pay of
Php180,000.00 (one month pay for every year of service = Php60,000 x 3 years);
3.
Ordering [EHSI, Kunack and Barin] to pay [respondent Go]
Php500,000.00 as moral damages;
4.

Ordering [EHSI, Kunack and Barin] to pay [respondent Go] Php300,000

as exemplary damages;
5.
Ordering the payment of ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award as
attorneys fees in the sum of Php188,000.00.
All other claims are hereby dismissed for lack of merit.

On appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), EHSI, Kunack


and Barin employed the legal services of De Borja Medialdea Bello Guevarra and
Gerodias Law Offices where herein petitioner Atty. Regalado worked as an associate.[5]

On 11 June 2001, the NLRC rendered a Decision[6] reversing the Labor Arbiters
decision and declaring that respondent Gos separation from employment was legal for it
was attended by a just cause and was validly effected by EHSI, Kunack and Barin. The
dispositive part of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is set aside. The complaint below is dismissed for being
without merit.

For lack of patent or palpable error, the Motion for Reconsideration interposed by
respondent Go was denied by the NLRC in an Order[7] dated 20 December 2001.

Aggrieved, respondent Go elevated the adverse decision to


the Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
69909 entitled, Antonio S. Go v. National Labor Relations
Commission, Eurotech Hair Systems, Inc., Lutz Kunack and Jose
Barin.

On 9 July 2003, the Court of Appeals promulgated a


Decision[8] setting aside the ruling of the NLRC and reinstating
the decision of the Labor Arbiter adjudging EHSI, Kunack and
Barin guilty of illegal dismissal. The appellate court thus
ordered EHSI, Kunack and Barin to pay respondent Go full
backwages, separation pay, moral and exemplary damages. The
fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is GRANTED. The assailed decision of
the NLRC promulgated on July 30, 2001 and its Order dated December 20, 2001 are
SET ASIDE while the decision of Labor Arbiter Waldo Emerson R. Gan dated
December 29, 2000 declaring the dismissal of [herein respondent Go] as illegal is
hereby REINSTATED with the modification that [EHSI] is hereby Ordered to pay
[respondent Go]:
1. His full backwages from the time of his illegal dismissal until the finality of this decision;
2. Separation pay equal to one month pay for every year of service;
3. Moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00; and
4. Exemplary damages in the amount of P20,000.00
The award of attorneys fees is DELETED.

EHSI, Kunack and Barin were able to receive a copy of the decision through
registered mail on 17 July 2003 while respondent Go received his copy on 21 July
2003.[9]

On 16 July 2003, after the promulgation of the Court of


Appeals decision but prior to the receipt of the parties of their
respective copies, the parties decided to settle the case and signed
a Release Waiver and Quitclaim[10] with the approval of the
Labor Arbiter. In view of the amicable settlement, the Labor
Arbiter, on the same day, issued an Order[11] dismissing the
illegal dismissal case with prejudice. The order thus reads:
In view of the Release, Waiver and Quitclaim voluntarily executed by the
[herein respondent] Antonio S. Go, let the instant case be as it is hereby
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
The execution of the compromise agreement was attended by the counsel for EHSI, Kunack and
Barin, petitioner Atty. Regalado, and respondent Go, but in the absence and without the knowledge of
respondent Gos lawyer.[12]

After the receipt of a copy of the Court of Appeals decision, respondent Go, through counsel,
filed, on 29 July 2003, a Manifestation with Omnibus Motion[13] seeking to nullify the Release
Waiver and Quitclaim dated 16 July 2003 on the ground of fraud, mistake or undue influence. In the
same motion, respondent Go, through counsel, moved that petitioner Atty. Regalado be made to explain
her unethical conduct for directly negotiating with respondent Go without the knowledge of his
counsel. The motion thus prays:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed for the Honorable
Court to declare Null and Void the dismissal of the instant (sic), with prejudice, by
Labor (sic) Waldo Emerson Gan, as well as the Release Waiver and Quitclaim dated July
16, 2003 signed by [herein respondent Go] for having been obtained through mistake,
fraud or undue influence committed by [EHSI, Kunack and Barin] and their counsels
(sic).
It is likewise prayed for [EHSI, Kunack and Barins] counsel, particularly Atty. Ma.

Concepcion Regalado, to be required to explain why no disciplinary action should be


taken against them (sic) for their (sic), unethical conduct of directly negotiating with
[respondent Go] without the presence of undersigned counsel, and for submitting the
Release, Waiver and Quitclaim before Labor Arbiter Waldo Emerson Gan knowing fully
well that the controversy between [respondent Go] and [EHSI] is still pending before
this Honorable Court.
[Respondent Go] likewise prays for such other relief [as may be] just and equitable
under the premises.[14]

For their part, EHSI, Kunack and Barin submitted a Manifestation and Motion with Leave of
Court[15] praying that CA-G.R. SP No. 69909 be considered settled with finality in view of the
amicable settlement among the parties which resulted in the dismissal of respondent Gos complaint
with prejudice in the Labor Arbiters Order dated 16 July 2003.

In addition, EHSI, Kunack and Barin also filed a Motion for Reconsideration[16]
with an ad cautelam that in case of unfavorable action on their foregoing Manifestation
and Motion, the appellate court should reconsider its decision dated 9 July 2003.

Acting on the motions, the appellate court issued a


Resolution[17] on 19 November 2003 annulling the Order of the
Labor Arbiter dated 16 July 2003 for lack of jurisdiction. It also
denied for lack of merit EHSI, Kunack and Barins Motion for
Reconsideration Ad Cautelam. In the same resolution, petitioner
Atty. Regalado was ordered to explain why she should not be
cited for contempt of court for violating Canon 9 of the Canons
of Professional Ethics. The decretal portion of the Resolution
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Manifestation with Omnibus Motion is


PARTIALLY GRANTED. The order of Labor Arbiter Gan dismissing the case with
prejudice is hereby declared NULL and VOID for lack of jurisdiction. [EHSI, Kunack
and Barins] counsel, [herein petitioner] Atty. Ma. Concepcion Regalado is ordered to
SHOW CAUSE within five (5) days from receipt of this Resolution why she should not
be cited for contempt of court for directly negotiating with [herein respondent Go] in
violation of Canon 9 of the Canons of Professional Ethics. On the other hand, the
Motion for Reconsideration Ad Cautelam is hereby denied for lack of merit.

EHSI, Kunack and Barin thus filed a Petition for Review


on Certiorari before this Court, assailing the Court of Appeals
decision promulgated on 9 July 2003 and its Resolution dated 19
November 2003, denying their Motion for Reconsideration. The
case is cognized by another division of this Court.

For her part, petitioner Atty. Regalado submitted a Compliance[18] and explained that she never
took part in the negotiation for the amicable settlement of the illegal dismissal case with respondent Go
which led to the execution of a compromise agreement by the parties on 16 July 2003. EHSI, Kunack
and Barin, through a Mr. Ragay, a former EHSI employee and a close ally of respondent Go, were the
ones who negotiated the settlement.

Further, petitioner Atty. Regalado maintained that she never met personally respondent Go, not
until 16 July 2003, when the latter appeared before the Labor Arbiter for the execution of the Release
Waiver and Quitclaim. Petitioner Atty. Regalado claimed that she was in fact apprehensive to release
the money to respondent Go because the latter cannot present any valid identification card to prove his
identity. It was only upon the assurance of Labor Arbiter Gan that Antonio S. Go and the person
representing himself as such were one and the same, that the execution of the agreement was
consummated.

Considering the circumstances, petitioner Atty. Regalado firmly stood that there was no way
that she had directly dealt with respondent Go, to the latters damage and prejudice, and misled him to
enter into an amicable settlement with her client.

On 30 August 2004, the Court of Appeals issued a


Resolution[19] disregarding petitioner Atty. Regalados defenses
and adjudging her guilty of indirect contempt under Rule 71 of
the Revised Rules of Court. As declared by the appellate court,
even granting arguendo that petitioner Atty. Regalado did not
participate in the negotiation process, she was nonetheless under
the obligation to restrain her clients from doing acts that she
herself was prohibited to perform as mandated by Canon 16 of
the Canons of Professional Ethics. However, instead of
preventing her clients from negotiating with respondent Go who
was unassisted by his counsel, Atty. Regalado actively
participated in the consummation of the compromise agreement
by dealing directly with respondent Go and allowing him to sign
the Release Waiver and Quitclaim without his lawyer.
Undaunted, petitioner Atty. Regalado filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was also denied
by the appellate court for lack of merit.[20]

Hence, this instant Petition for Review on Certiorari,[21] raising the following issues:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMPLETELY VIOLATED
PETITIONERS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS TOTALLY DISREGARDED THE
MANDATORY PROVISION OF RULE 71 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL
PROCEDURE.
III.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A MANIFEST
ERROR OF LAW IN RULING THAT PETITIONER IS ESTOPPED FROM
CHALLENGING ITS AUTHORITY TO ENTERTAIN THE CONTEMPT CHARGES

AGAINST HER.
IV.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN
DISREGARDING THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE ON RECORD TO EFFECT
THAT PETITIONER DID NOT COMMIT ANY CONTUMACIOUS CONDUCT.
V.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AND COMMITTED A GROSS MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS IN
FINDING THE PETITIONER GUILTY OF INDIRECT CONTEMPT ON THE BASIS
OF THE CONFLICTING, UNCORROBORATED, AND UNVERIFIED ASSERTIONS
OF THE RESPONDENT.
Considering that the issues raised herein are both questions of law and fact, and consistent with
our policy that this Court is not a trier of facts, we shall address only the pure questions of law and
leave the factual issues, which are supported by evidence, as found by the appellate court. It is an oftrepeated principle that in the exercise of the Supreme Courts power of review, the Court is not a trier
of facts and does not normally undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the
contending parties during the trial of the case considering that the findings of facts of the Court of
Appeals, if supported by evidence, are conclusive and binding upon this Court.[22]

Contempt of court is a defiance of the authority, justice or dignity of the court; such conduct as
tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or
prejudice parties litigant or their witnesses during litigation.[23] It is defined as disobedience to the
Court by acting in opposition to its authority, justice, and dignity. It signifies not only a willful
disregard or disobedience of the courts orders, but such conduct as tends to bring the authority of the
court and the administration of law into disrepute or in some manner to impede the due administration
of justice.[24]

The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts and is essential to the preservation of
order in judicial proceedings and to the enforcement of judgments, orders, and mandates of the court,
and consequently, to the due administration of justice.[25]

Thus, contempt proceedings has a dual function: (1) vindication of public interest
by punishment of contemptuous conduct; and (2) coercion to compel the contemnor to
do what the law requires him to uphold the power of the Court, and also to secure the
rights of the parties to a suit awarded by the Court.[26]

In our jurisdiction, the Rules of Court penalizes two types of contempt, namely direct contempt
and indirect contempt. [27]

Direct contempt is committed in the presence of or so near a court as to obstruct or interrupt the
proceedings before the same, and includes disrespect toward the court, offensive personalities toward
others, or refusal to be sworn or answer as a witness, or to subscribe an affidavit or deposition when
lawfully required to do so.[28]

On the other hand, Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court enumerates particular acts which
constitute indirect contempt, thus:

(a) Misbehavior of an officer of a court in the performance of his official duties or in his
official transactions;
(b) Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, or judgment of a court,
including the act of a person who, after being dispossessed or ejected from any real
property by the judgment or process of any court of competent jurisdiction, enters or
attempts or induces another to enter into or upon such real property, for the purpose of
executing acts of ownership or possession, or in any manner disturbs the possession
given to the person adjudged to be entitled thereto;
(c) Any abuse of or any unlawful interference with the processes or proceedings of a
court not constituting direct contempt under Section 1 of this Rule;
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or
degrade the administration of justice;
(e)
(f)

Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court, and acting as such without


authority;
Failure to obey a subpoena duly served;

(g) The rescue, or attempted rescue, of a person or property in the custody of an


officer by virtue of an order or process of a court held by him.
But nothing in this section shall be so construed as to prevent the court from
issuing process to bring the respondent into court, or from holding him in custody
pending such proceedings. (Emphasis supplied.)[29]

Section 4, Rule 71 of the same Rules provides how proceedings for indirect
contempt should be commenced, thus:

SEC. 4. How proceedings commenced. Proceedings for indirect contempt may


be initiated motu proprio by the court against which the contempt was committed by an
order or any other formal charge requiring the respondent to show cause why he should
not be punished for contempt.
In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a
verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of documents
or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the requirements for
filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court concerned. If the contempt
charges arose out of or are related to a principal action pending in the court, the petition
for contempt shall allege that fact but said petition shall be docketed, heard and
decided separately, unless the court in its discretion orders the consolidation of the
contempt charge and the principal action for joint hearing and decision. (Emphases
supplied.)
As can be gleaned above, the provisions of the Rules are unequivocal. Indirect contempt
proceedings may be initiated only in two ways: (1) motu proprio by the court; or (2) through a verified
petition and upon compliance with the requirements for initiatory pleadings. Procedural requirements
as outlined must be complied with.

There is no doubt that the complained acts of Atty. Regalado would fall under
paragraphs (a) and (d) of Section 3, Rule 71, as in fact, she was adjudged guilty of
indirect contempt. But were the proceedings conducted in convicting petitioner done in
accordance with law?

In the instant case, the indirect contempt proceedings was initiated by respondent

Go through a Manifestation with Omnibus Motion.[30] It was based on the aforesaid


Motion that the appellate court issued a Resolution[31] dated 19 November 2003,
requiring petitioner Atty. Regalado to show cause why she should not be cited for
contempt.

Clearly, respondent Gos Manifestation with Omnibus Motion was the catalyst which set
everything in motion and led to the eventual conviction of Atty. Regalado. It was respondent Go who
brought to the attention of the appellate court the alleged misbehavior committed by petitioner Atty.
Regalado. Without such positive act on the part of respondent Go, no indirect contempt charge could
have been initiated at all.

Indeed, the appellate court itself, in its Resolution dated 30 August 2004,

made categorical

findings as to how the contempt charge was initiated, to wit:

In the present case, [respondents Go] Manifestation With Omnibus Motion


which led to our 19 November 2003 Resolution requiring Atty. Regalado to explain
why she should not be cited for contempt, x x x.[32]
We cannot, therefore, argue that the Court of Appeals on its own initiated the indirect contempt
charge without contradicting the factual findings made by the very same court which rendered the
questioned resolution.

It is true in Leonidas v. Judge Supnet,[33] this Court ruled that the contempt proceedings was
considered commenced by the court motu proprio even if the show cause order came after the filing of
the motions to cite for contempt filed by the adverse party. The Decision thus reads:

Thus, independently of the motions filed by the Tamondong Spouses, it was the Pasay
MTC which commenced the contempt proceedings motu proprio. No verified petition is
required if proceedings for indirect contempt are initiated in this manner, and the
absence of a verified petition does not affect the procedure adopted.
It is true that the Tamondong Spouses did file a Motion To Cite Plaintiff For

Contempt Of Court, dated May 17, 2000. In this pleading they prayed that Union Bank
be declared in indirect contempt of court for its disobedience to the Pasay MTCs Order
dated May 9, 2000. This Order dated May 9, 2000 specifically directed Union Bank to
return immediately to the defendants the replevied motor vehicle. However, the
Tamondong Spouses unverified motion dated May 17, 2000 cannot invalidate the
contempt proceedings because these proceedings were initiated by respondent judge
motu proprio in accordance with Section 4, Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure.
This above-cited case, however, has no application in the case at bar for the factual milieu of the
cases are different from each other. In Leonidas, there was an order of the court that was utterly
violated by Union Bank. Thus, even in the absence of the motion of spouses Tamondong to cite Union
Bank in contempt, the court a quo on its own can verily initiate the action. In the present case, the
appellate court could not have acquired knowledge of petitioner Atty. Regalados misbehavior without
respondent Gos Manifestation with Omnibus Motion reiterating the alleged deceitful conduct
committed by the former.

Having painstakingly laid down that the instant case was not initiated by the court motu proprio
necessitates us to look into the second mode of filing indirect contempt proceedings.

In cases where the court did not initiate the contempt charge, the Rules prescribe that a verified
petition which has complied with the requirements of initiatory pleadings as outlined in the heretofore
quoted provision of second paragraph, Section 4, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, must be filed.

The manner upon which the case at bar was commenced is clearly in contravention with the
categorical mandate of the Rules. Respondent Go filed a Manifestation with Omnibus Motion, which
was unverified and without any supporting particulars and documents. Such procedural flaw
notwithstanding, the appellate court granted the motion and directed petitioner Atty. Regalado to show
cause why she should not be cited for contempt. Upon petitioner Atty. Regalados compliance with the
appellate courts directive, the tribunal proceeded in adjudging her guilty of indirect contempt and
imposing a penalty of fine, completely ignoring the procedural infirmities in the commencement of the
indirect contempt action.

It bears to stress that the power to punish for contempt is not limitless. It must be

used sparingly with caution, restraint, judiciousness, deliberation, and due regard to the
provisions of the law and the constitutional rights of the individual. [34]

The limitations in the exercise of the power to punish for indirect contempt are delineated by the
procedural guidelines specified under Section 4, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. Strict compliance with
such procedural guidelines is mandatory considering that proceedings against person alleged to be
guilty of contempt are commonly treated as criminal in nature.[35]

As explained by Justice Florenz Regalado,[36] the filing of a verified petition that


has complied with the requirements for the filing of initiatory pleading, is mandatory,
and thus states:

1. This new provision clarifies with a regularity norm the proper procedure for
commencing contempt proceedings. While such proceeding has been classified as
special civil action under the former Rules, the heterogenous practice tolerated by the
courts, has been for any party to file a motion without paying any docket or lawful fees
therefore and without complying with the requirements for initiatory pleadings, which is
now required in the second paragraph of this amended section.
xxxx
Henceforth, except for indirect contempt proceedings initiated motu propio by
order of or a formal charge by the offended court, all charges shall be commenced by a
verified petition with full compliance with the requirements therefore and shall be
disposed in accordance with the second paragraph of this section.

Time and again we rule that the use of the word shall underscores the
mandatory character of the Rule. The term shall is a word of command, and one
which has always or which must be given a compulsory meaning, and it is generally
imperative or mandatory.[37]

In Enriquez v. Enriquez,[38] this Court applied the word shall by giving it


mandatory and imperative import and ruled that non-compliance with the mandatory

requirements of the Rules goes into the very authority of the court to acquire jurisdiction
over the subject matter of the case, thus:

However, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, which took effect on
July 1, 1997, now require that appellate docket and other lawful fees must be paid
within the same period for taking an appeal. This is clear from the opening sentence of
Section 4, Rule 41 of the same rules that, (W)ithin the period for taking an appeal, the
appellant shall pay to the clerk of court which rendered the judgment or final order
appealed from, the full amount of the appellate court docket and other lawful fees.
xxxx
Time and again, this Court has consistently held that payment of docket fee
within the prescribed period is mandatory for the perfection of an appeal. Without such
payment, the appellate court does not acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter
of the action and the decision sought to be appealed from becomes final and executory.
[39] (Emphases supplied.)

In United States v. de la Santa,[40] which bears parallelism in the instant case, we


held:

The objection in this case is not, strictly speaking, to the sufficiency of the complaint,
but goes directly to the jurisdiction of the court over the crime with which the
accused was charged. x x x. (Emphasis supplied.)

Even if the contempt proceedings stemmed from the main case over which the
court already acquired jurisdiction, the Rules direct that the petition for contempt be
treated independently of the principal action. Consequently, the necessary prerequisites
for the filing of initiatory pleadings, such as the filing of a verified petition, attachment
of a certification on non-forum shopping, and the payment of the necessary docket fees,
must be faithfully observed.[41]

We now proceed to the issue of estoppel raised by the Court of Appeals. When petitioner Atty.
Regalado brought to the attention of the appellate court through a Motion for Reconsideration the
remedial defect attendant to her conviction, the Court of Appeals, instead of rectifying the palpable and

patent procedural error it earlier committed, altogether disregarded the glaring mistake by interposing
the doctrine of estoppel. The appellate court ruled that having actively participated in the contempt
proceedings, petitioner Atty. Regalado is now barred from impugning the Court of Appeals jurisdiction
over her contempt case citing the case of People v. Regalario.[42]

We do not agree.

Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time,
to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, it is negligence or
omission to assert a right within a reasonable length of time, warranting a presumption that the party
entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.[43]

The ruling in People v. Regalario[44] that was based on the landmark doctrine enunciated in
Tijam v. Sibonghanoy[45] on the matter of jurisdiction by estoppel is the exception rather than the
rule. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which
the factual milieu is analogous to that in the cited case. In such controversies, laches should have been
clearly present; that is, lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the
presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it.[46]

In Sibonghanoy,[47] the defense of lack of jurisdiction was raised for the first time in a motion
to dismiss filed by the Surety[48] almost 15 years after the questioned ruling had been rendered.[49]
At several stages of the proceedings, in the court a quo as well as in the Court of Appeals, the Surety
invoked the jurisdiction of the said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for final
adjudication on the merits. It was only when the adverse decision was rendered by the Court of
Appeals that it finally woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction.[50]

Clearly, the factual settings attendant in Sibonghanoy are not present in the case at bar.
Petitioner Atty. Regalado, after the receipt of the Court of Appeals resolution finding her guilty of
contempt, promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration assailing the said courts jurisdiction based on

procedural infirmity in initiating the action. Her compliance with the appellate courts directive to
show cause why she should not be cited for contempt and filing a single piece of pleading to that effect
could not be considered as an active participation in the judicial proceedings so as to take the case
within the milieu of Sibonghanoy. Rather, it is the natural fear to disobey the mandate of the court that
could lead to dire consequences that impelled her to comply.

The provisions of the Rules are worded in very clear and categorical language. In case where
the indirect contempt charge is not initiated by the courts, the filing of a verified petition which fulfills
the requirements on initiatory pleadings is a prerequisite. Beyond question now is the mandatory
requirement of a verified petition in initiating an indirect contempt proceeding. Truly, prior to the
amendment of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, mere motion without complying with the
requirements for initiatory pleadings was tolerated by the courts.[51] At the onset of the 1997 Revised
Rules of Civil Procedure, however, such practice can no longer be countenanced.

Evidently, the proceedings attendant to the conviction of petitioner Atty. Regalado


for indirect contempt suffered a serious procedural defect to which this Court cannot
close its eyes without offending the fundamental principles enunciated in the Rules that
we, ourselves, had promulgated.

The other issues raised on the merits of the contempt case have become moot and
academic.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is GRANTED. The


indirect contempt proceedings before the Court of Appeals is DECLARED null and
void.

SO ORDERED.

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, 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 Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria-Tirona with Associate Justices Conrado M.

[1]

Vasquez,
Jr. and Edgardo F. Sundiam, concurring, rollo, pp. 69-76.
[2]

Id. at 78-80.

[3]

Id. at 76.

[4]

Id. at 60-65.

[5]

Id. at 95, 185.

[6]

Id. at 186-202.

[7]

Id. at 147-149.

[8]

Id. at 233-246.

[9]

Id. at 69.

[10]

Id. at 215-216.

[11]

Id. at 217.

[12]

Id. at 70.

[13]

Id. at 81-88.

[14]

Id. at 83-84.

[15]

Id. at 218-228.

[16]

Id. at 247-265.

[17]

Id. at 90-93.

[18]

Id. at 94-114.

[19]

Id. at 69-76.

[20]

Id. at 78-80.

[21]

Id. at 11-67.

[22]
[23]

Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126850, 28 April 2004,
428 SCRA 79, 85-86.
12 Am. Jur. 389, as cited in Halili v. Court of Industrial Relations, 220 Phil. 507, 526

(1985).
[24]
[25]
[26]

17 C.J.S. 4, as cited in Heirs of Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas v. Court of Appeals, G.R.
No. 138660, 5 February 2004, 422 SCRA 101, 114.
Ruiz v. Judge How, 459 Phil. 728, 738 (2003).
Penfield Company of California v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 330 U.S. 585, 67
S.Ct. 918 (1947), as cited in Ceniza v. Wistehuff, Sr., G.R. No. 165734, 16 June 2006, 491
SCRA 148, 165.

[27]

Montenegro v. Montenegro, G.R. No. 156829, 8 June 2004, 431 SCRA 415, 423.

[28]

Id.

[29]

Id.

[30]

Id. at 81-88.

[31]

Id. at 90-93.

[32]

Id. at 73.

[33]

446 Phil. 53, 69-70 (2003).

[34]

Ruiz v. Judge How, supra note 25 at 739.

[35]

Atty. Caas v. Judge Castigador, 401 Phil. 618, 630 (2000).

[36]

Remedial Law Compedium (Seventh Revised Edition), p. 808 as cited in Land Bank of the
Philippines v. Listaa, Sr., 455 Phil. 750 (2003).

[37]

Lacson v. San Jose-Lacson, 133 Phil. 884, 895 (1968), as cited in Enriquez v. Enriquez,
G.R. No. 139303, 25 August 2005, 468 SCRA 77, 84.

[38]

Id.

[39]

Id. at 83-85.

[40]

9 Phil. 22, 26 (1907).

[41]

Nedia v. Lavia, A.M. No. RTJ-05-1957, 26 September 2005, 471 SCRA 10, 17.

[42]

People v. Regalario, G.R. No. 101451, 23 March 1993, 220 SCRA 368.

[43]

Oca v. Court of Appeals, 428 Phil. 696, 702 (2002).

[44]

Id.

[45]

Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, 22 Phil. 29 (1968).

[46]

Francel Realty Corporation v. Sycip, G.R. No. 154684, 8 September 2005, 469 SCRA 424,

430.
[47]

Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, supra note no. 45.

[48]

Manila Surety and Fidelity Co., Inc. (Surety), the bonding company of defendants Spouses
Magdaleno Sibonghanoy and Lucia Baguio in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy (id.).

[49]

Calimlim v. Ramirez, 204. Phil. 25 (1982).

[50]

Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, supra note no. 45.

[51]

Id.

Supreme Court E-Library

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 150794. August 17, 2004]
ATTY. ROMEO B. IGOT, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and MANILA ELECTRIC
COMPANY (MERALCO), respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before us is a petition for mandamus with prayer for a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction filed
by petitioner Atty. Romeo B. Igot to compel the respondent Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to
comply with the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction[1] issued by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 66251.
The Antecedents
On February 24, 1983, the petitioner and the respondent executed a service contract under which the
latter would provide electricity to the petitioners house at No. 1 Lucky Street, Santolan, Pasig City.
The respondent installed an electric meter on a Meralco post, along F. Pasco Avenue, Santolan, Pasig
City, about fifteen (15) meters away from the petitioners residence.
On November 13, 1998, the petitioner compiled all his electric bills and discovered that his Meralco
statement amounted to only P18.20 for the period of September 24, 1998 to October 26, 1998.
Suspicious of the unusual figure, the petitioner inspected the electric meter which the respondent
installed near his house and discovered that the Meralco seal was still intact but that the meter had
stopped rotating. He sent a letter[2] to the respondent requesting that his electric meter be checked at
the soonest possible time and if found to be defective, demanded that it be replaced.
The petitioner did not receive any reply from the respondent. On February 1, 1999, he was surprised to
receive his Meralco electric bill[3] showing his estimated electrical consumption for the period of
December 23, 1998 to January 25, 1999, as amounting to P12,100.30. He wrote the respondent on
February 3, 1999, requesting that he be furnished with a detailed computation. The petitioner received
a letter[4] from the respondent on February 6, 1999 demanding the payment of the sum of P111,182.05,
within ten days from receipt thereof, on account of the alleged findings of defects in the metering
installation which was discovered during an inspection by its employees. Portions of the letter read:
The inspection of your metering installation on January 5, 1999, yielded the following findings of our
field personnel:
1.

THE LEAD COVER SEALS WERE PULLED OUT FROM THE SEALING WIRE.

2.
THE DRIVING GEAR OF THE 2ND SHAFT WAS FILED CAUSING IT TO DISENGAGE
PARTIALLY FROM THE DRIVEN GEAR OF THE 3RD SHAFT OF THE REGISTER ASSEMBLY.
Given the above finding(s) and in accordance with Republic Act No. 7832 (Anti-Pilferage of Electricity
and Theft of Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Act of 1994) (sic), you are billed the amount of
P111,182.05.
Worse, on February 11, 1999, the petitioner received a notice of disconnection[5] from the respondent,
which the latter threatened to implement should he fail to pay the amount of P123,282.35 within the
day.
On February 12, 1999, the petitioner filed a complaint for damages with an application for the issuance
of a writ of preliminary injunction against the respondent with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City.
The trial court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO).
During the hearing on February 15, 1999, Atty. Angelito Aguila, the counsel of the respondent,

manifested that it would not disconnect the petitioners electric supply until the trial court shall have
resolved the issue on the preliminary injunction. The petitioner, in turn, manifested that he was
withdrawing his plea for the issuance of a TRO.
However, on July 9, 1999, the electric supply to the petitioners house was disconnected by the
respondent. As a consequence, the petitioner paid the bill on the same day, after being assured by the
respondent that it would order the reconnection the following day, which was a Saturday. The weekend
passed, but the electricity at the petitioners residence remained unrestored, and his children personally
went to the respondent to plead their cause. However, the respondents employees, namely, Atty.
Alfonso Lacap and Rolando Dela Paz, disallowed the reconnection unless the petitioner tendered the
amount of P12,100.30, supposedly as payment for the electric bill covering the period of December 24,
1998 to January 25, 1999. As a consequence, the petitioner personally tendered PNB Check No.
0000408 in the amount of P12,100.30 on July 13, 1999, accompanied by a formal request for the
restoration of his electric supply. Notwithstanding the offer of payment, Rolando Dela Paz made a
notation on the petitioners letter stating that payment of arrears would be accepted, but without the
reconnection. Still, the respondent restored the petitioners electricity in the afternoon of July 13, 1999.
In the Order dated July 15, 1999, the trial court granted the petitioners plea for a writ of preliminary
injunction upon posting and approval of the required bond in the amount of P124,000.00 to answer for
the damages that the respondent may incur if the writ would later on be found to have been wrongly
issued.
The petitioner filed a supplemental complaint impleading Atty. Alfonso Lacap, Atty. Angelito Aguila
and Rolando Dela Paz, for their alleged refusal to cause the reconnection of the electricity to his house.
In the Order dated January 4, 2000, the trial court admitted the supplemental complaint.
For the petitioners repeated failure to appear during the hearings set for the presentation of his
evidence, the trial court dismissed the complaint on January 11, 2001. A motion for reconsideration
was filed by the petitioner on January 12, 2001, which the trial court denied on June 29, 2001.
Aggrieved, the petitioner filed a special civil action for certiorari on August 22, 2001 with the Court of
Appeals for the nullification of the trial courts order dismissing his complaint, alleging that the trial
court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. At 11:00 a.m. on
August 24, 2001, the respondent disconnected the electric supply to the petitioners house. The CA
issued a resolution at about 3:00 p.m. enjoining the trial court from further proceeding with the case
and, likewise, ordered the respondent to cease and desist from enforcing its threatened act to disconnect
the petitioners electric supply.[6]
The petitioner filed with the CA a motion for the issuance of an order directing the respondent to
immediately restore his electricity as ordered by the appellate court. The petitioner, likewise, filed an
urgent motion for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to compel the respondent
to restore the electric supply to his residence. The respondent opposed the same, alleging that the
electricity was disconnected as early as 11:00 a.m. of August 24, 2001, while the CAs resolution which
granted the TRO was promulgated at around 3:45 p.m. of the same day. It also alleged that the TRO
was rendered moot and academic, as the electricity in the petitioners house was already disconnected
even prior to the promulgation of the CA resolution.
The petitioner filed an urgent motion for the reconnection of the electric supply to his house within
twenty-four hours. The CA, thereafter, issued a Resolution[7] granting the petitioners request for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and requiring the respondent to restore the
electricity in the petitioners house within twenty-four hours from notice of the approval of the bond.
On September 3, 2001, the petitioner posted a surety bond[8] in the amount of P50,000.00 but the CA
did not act thereon. The CA rendered the Decision[9] on September 17, 2001, directing the trial court to
proceed with the trial of the case, and making the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction it earlier

issued permanent.
The respondent filed a motion for the reconsideration of the decision, alleging that the writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction issued by the trial court was ineffective. It pointed out that the
petitioner posted a surety bond instead of depositing cash or cashiers check as required by Section 2 of
Republic Act No. 7832. On September 18, 2001, the petitioner wrote the respondent requesting for the
restoration of electric supply to his house, to no avail. On September 24, 2001, the petitioner filed an
urgent motion for the CA to issue a supplemental order directing the respondent to restore the electric
supply to his house within twenty-four hours, considering that he had posted a surety bond in the
amount of P50,000.00. On September 27, 2001, the CA issued a Resolution granting the petitioners
motion with a warning to the respondent that it may be impelled to take a more drastic action. In a
manifestation, the respondent alleged that the decision of the CA had not yet become final and
executory; hence, it could not be compelled to restore the electric supply to the petitioners residence.
The petitioner again wrote the respondent on October 5, 2001, reiterating the need for compliance with
the CA resolution. On October 16, 2001, the petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion alleging as follows:
1. FOR WITHDRAWAL OF VERY URGENT MOTION FOR ISSUANCE OF SECOND
SUPPLEMENTAL ORDER, etc., FILED ON OCTOBER 11, 2001;
2. FOR ISSUANCE OF AN ORDER DIRECTING THE PASIG POLICE STATION TO HELP
IMPLEMENT THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTION ISSUED ON
AUGUST 31, 2001 AND THE SUCCEEDING ORDER OF SEPTEMBER 27, 2001,
RESPECTIVELY;
3. FOR REITERATED MOTION TO CITE PRIVATE RESPONDENT MERALCOS
OFFICERS AND LAWYERS IN CONTEMPT OF COURT.[10]
On November 8, 2001, the respondent filed a petition for review on certiorari with this Court for the
reversal of the decision of the CA. The case was docketed as G.R. No. 149913. The respondent filed a
manifestation that it would reconnect the electric supply to the house of the petitioner as soon as the
decision of the CA had become final and executory. On December 5, 2001, this Court issued a
Resolution denying the petition.
On December 8, 2001, the petitioner filed his petition for mandamus with this Court to compel the CA
to execute the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction it earlier issued; alternatively, to grant his
omnibus motion filed on October 16, 2001 with the CA to direct the Chief of the Pasig Police Station to
enforce the writs issued by the appellate court; and to cite the officers and lawyers of the respondent in
contempt of court for resisting the writs issued by the CA.
In its comment on the petition, the respondent averred that it had already reconnected the electric
supply to the petitioners house at about 8:00 a.m. of February 14, 2001 in view of the Courts denial of
its petition for review in G.R. No. 149913. It emphasized that the CA never issued a writ for
preliminary mandatory injunction against the respondent; nor was it notified of the approval by the CA
of the petitioners injunction bond. The respondent prayed for the dismissal of the petition for lack of
merit, and for being moot and academic.
The petitioner filed a reply alleging that while his petition for mandamus may have been rendered moot
and academic, its petition to cite the officers and lawyers of the respondent still has to be resolved by
the Court.
The issues for resolution are the following: (a) whether the petition for mandamus has become moot
and academic in light of the restoration by the respondent of the electric supply to the house of the
petitioner pendente lite; and, (b) whether the Court has jurisdiction over the omnibus motion of the
petitioner filed with the CA to cite the officers and lawyers of the respondent in contempt of the CA.
The Ruling of the Court

On the first issue, we agree that with the electric supply to the petitioners house having been restored
by the respondent pendente lite, the instant petition for mandamus has become moot and academic. We
note, however, that contrary to the allegations of the petitioner in this case, the CA did not issue any
writ of preliminary mandatory injunction before it rendered its decision granting his petition for
mandamus. In fact, the CA never approved the surety bond which was dated September 3, 2001 posted
by the petitioner. Under its Resolution dated August 31, 2001, the CA ordered the reconnection of the
electric supply to the petitioners house, to take effect within twenty-four hours from notice of the
approval of the petitioners bond.
On the second issue, the petitioners plea for the Court to cite respondent Meralco and its officers and
lawyers for indirect contempt for resisting to comply with the CA Decision and the Resolutions dated
August 31, 2001 and September 27, 2001 has no merit. The petitioner, being a lawyer himself, ought
to know that the charge must be filed before the court against which the indirect contempt was
committed.[11] The pertinent rules on the matter are Sections 4 and 5, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court,
which read:
SEC. 4. How proceedings commenced. Proceedings for indirect contempt may be initiated motu
proprio by the court against which the contempt was committed by an order or any other formal charge
requiring the respondent to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt.
In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a verified petition with
supporting particulars and certified true copies of documents or papers involved therein, and upon full
compliance with the requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court
concerned. If the contempt charges arose out of or are related to a principal action pending in the court,
the petition for contempt shall allege that fact but said petition shall be docketed, heard and decided
separately, unless the court in its discretion orders the consolidation of the contempt charge and the
principal action for joint hearing and decision.
SEC. 5. Where charge to be filed. Where the charge for indirect contempt has been committed against
a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, or against an officer appointed by it, the
charge may be filed with such court. Where such contempt has been committed against a lower court,
the charge may be filed with the Regional Trial Court of the place in which the lower court is sitting;
but the proceedings may also be instituted in such lower court subject to appeal to the Regional Trial
Court of such place in the same manner as provided in section 11 of this Rule.
As we ruled in San Luis v. Court of Appeals:[12]
In whatever context it may arise, contempt of court involves the doing of an act, or the failure to do an
act, in such a manner as to create an affront to the court and the sovereign dignity with which it is
clothed. As a matter of practical judicial administration, jurisdiction has been felt to properly rest in
only one tribunal at a time with respect to a given controversy. Only the court which rendered the
order commanding the doing of a certain act is vested with the right to determine whether or not the
order has been complied with, or whether a sufficient reason has been given for noncompliance, and,
therefore, whether a contempt has been committed. It is a well-established rule that the power to
determine the existence of contempt of court rests exclusively with the court contemned. No court is
authorized to punish a contempt against another.
The rationale that is usually advanced for the general rule is that, contempt proceedings are sui
generis and are triable only by the court against whose authority the contempts are charged; the power
to punish for contempt exists for the purpose of enabling a court to compel due decorum and respect in
its presence and due obedience to its judgments, orders and processes and in order that a court may
compel obedience to its orders, it must have the right to inquire whether there has been any
disobedience thereof, for to submit the question of disobedience to another tribunal would operate to
deprive the proceeding of half its efficiency.

Section 4, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides, in effect, that a charge for indirect contempt must be
filed with the court contemned. Although this provision is permissive in nature, in the event of
concurrent jurisdiction over cases of contempt of court, it would be a good practice to acknowledge the
preferential right of the court against which the act of contempt was committed to try and punish the
guilty party.
The court that granted the preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order preserving the status
quo is vested with the power to hear and determine the sufficiency and merit of the contempt charge.
Only the court which issued the injunction can impose a sanction for contempt of that injunction, and a
court without subject matter jurisdiction cannot transfer the case to another court.[13]
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition for mandamus is DISMISSED for being
MOOT AND ACADEMIC. The petitioners omnibus motion to cite the officers and lawyers of the
respondent is DENIED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

Penned by Associate Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, with Associate Justices Eloy R. Bello, Jr. and
Perlita J. Tria Tirona, concurring.
[1]

[2]

Annex J, Records, Vol. I, p. 22.

[3]

Annex K, Id. at 23.

[4]

Annex N, Id. at 30.

[5]

Annex O, Id. at 31.

[6]

CA Rollo, pp. 197-198.

[7]

Id. at 237.

[8]

Id. at 240.

[9]

Id. at 303.

[10]

Rollo, pp. 33-34.

[11]

See Section 5, Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides:

Where charge to be filed. Where the charge for indirect contempt has been committed against a
Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, or against an officer appointed by it, the
charge may be filed with such court.
[12]

365 SCRA 279 (2001).

[13]

17 Am.Jur.2d Contempt 60.

Supreme Court E-Library

FIRST DIVISION
ZENAIDA M. LIMBONA,

G.R. No. 173290

Petitioner,
Present:
Panganiban, C.J. (Chairperson),
Ynares-Santiago,

- versus -

Austria-Martinez,
Callejo, Sr., and
Chico-Nazario, JJ.
HON. JUDGE RALPH S. LEE of
Regional Trial Court-Quezon City,
Br. 83, MAYOR ANWAR BERUA
BALINDONG, LT. COL. JALANDONI
COTA, MAYOR AMER ODEN

Promulgated:

BALINDONG & ALI BALINDONG,


Respondents.

November 20, 2006

x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This is a petition for indirect contempt in connection with respondents alleged


defiance of the December 16, 2004 Decision[1] rendered by this Court in G.R. No.
159962, entitled Balindong v. Limbona, as well as the Resolutions[2] dated June 6,
August 15, and December 12, 2005.

The facts as stated in G.R. No. 159962 are as follows:

Investigating prosecutor Ringcar Pinote conducted the preliminary investigation


and found probable cause to indict the private [respondents] for the offense of Double
Murder with Multiple Frustrated Murder. As a result, an Information was filed in the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malabang, Lanao del Sur, Branch 12, charging [them]
with the crime of Double Murder with Multiple Frustrated Murder.
The herein [private respondents] filed an urgent motion for reinvestigation. In
an Order dated 23 July 1998, Acting Presiding Judge Rasad Balindong granted the
petition and ordered the records returned to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor,
Marawi City.
The said office issued a Resolution dated 28 August 1998 modifying the offense
charged against Anwar Balindong, Lt. Col. Jalandoni D. Cota, and PO1 Kennedy
Balindong to double homicide with multiple frustrated homicide, and dropping the
charges against Amer Oden Balindong and Ali Balindong. In the meantime, the
Supreme Court transferred the venue from Lanao del Sur to Cotabato City x x x.
The [petitioner] filed a petition for review of the Provincial Prosecutors
Resolution before the Department of Justice (DOJ) under then Secretary Serafin
Cuevas. In a Resolution dated 04 August 1999, the latter modified the said Resolution
and directed the filing of two informations for murder with attempted murder, two
informations for frustrated murder and an information for attempted murder against all
the private [respondents]. The [latter] filed a motion for reconsideration on 01
September 1999. Meanwhile, five amended informations were filed on 04 October 1999
for the aforementioned offenses before the RTC of Maguindanao, Cotabato City,
docketed as Criminal Cases No. 2503, No. 2573, No. 2574, No. 2575, and No. 2576.
On 01 December 1999, the DOJ denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration.
Subsequently, the venue was again transferred from Cotabato City to Cagayan de
Oro City. x x x
On 01 January 2000, the [private respondents] filed a second motion for
reconsideration of Secretary Cuevass Resolution dated 01 December 1999. This was
denied with finality in a Resolution dated 16 March 2000 by then Acting DOJ Sec.
Artemio Tuquero, with a warning that no further pleadings would be entertained. Seven
months later, on 10 October 2000, the [private respondents] filed a third Motion for
Reconsideration before the DOJ.
In the meantime, x x x the venue of the above cases [was] transferred from
Cagayan de Oro to a Special Criminal Court in Quezon City.
x x x Criminal Cases No. 2503 and No. 2573 were re-raffled to the RTC of Quezon City,
Branch 219 and re-docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Q-01-99892 and Q-01-99893.
Criminal Cases Nos. 2574 to 76 were re-raffled to the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 227,
and re-docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Q-01-100542 to 44.

On 12 March 2001, then DOJ Secretary Hernando Perez resolved to grant the
[private respondents] third motion for reconsideration x x x
xxxx
Seeking to have Secretary Perezs 12 March 2001 Resolution annulled,
[petitioner] filed her own motion for reconsideration with the DOJ. Upon denial of said
motion, [she] filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 in the Court of Appeals. In a
Decision dated 22 May 2003, the latter granted the petition for certiorari, reversed the
DOJ Resolution dated 12 March 2001 and reinstated the DOJ Resolutions dated 04
August 1999, 01 December 1999 and 16 March 2000.
xxxx
The petitioners thereupon filed the present petition [G.R. No. 159462] for
certiorari under Rule 45 before this Court. x x x
[O]n 03 December 2003, Pairing Judge Jose Paneda of the RTC of Quezon City, Branch
219, caused the issuance of warrants of arrest against herein petitioners for the abovementioned cases. The latter moved for the issuance of a temporary restraining order in
this Court, which was granted on 18 February 2004 x x x.[3]

On December 16, 2004, the Court thru Associate Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario
rendered a decision in G.R. No. 159962 affirming the decision of the Court of Appeals
and sustaining the Resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) dated August 4, 1999
directing the filing of two Informations for Murder with Attempted Murder, two
Informations for Frustrated Murder and an Information for Attempted Murder against all
the private respondents; as well as the December 1, 1999 and March 16, 2000
Resolutions of the DOJ denying private respondents motions for reconsideration. The
Court also directed the implementation of the warrants of arrest issued against them.
The dispositive portion thereof reads:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision of the Court of


Appeals dated 22 May 2003 which annulled the DOJ Resolution dated 12 March 2001
and reinstated its Resolutions issued on 04 August 1999, 01 December 1999 and 16
March 2000 is AFFIRMED. The Temporary Restraining Order issued on 18 February
2004 by this Court is hereby LIFTED, and the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 219, is ORDERED to implement its Resolution dated 03 December 2003
relative to the issuance of warrants of arrest against all the accused. The said Court is
directed to submit a report thereon within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Department of Justice for its
information and appropriate action.
SO ORDERED.[4]

Private respondents motion for reconsideration of said Decision was denied with
finality in a Resolution[5] dated June 6, 2005, thus:

The Court notes that [private respondents] have adduced no substantial or cogent
arguments to warrant a modification of our Decision. They merely rehashed the
arguments in their petition, which we have already passed upon. Wherefore, the Motion
for Reconsideration and its supplement thereto are DENIED with FINALITY. NO
FURTHER PLEADINGS WILL BE ENTERTAINED.
In view of the denial with finality of the Motion for Reconsideration and acting
on the clarificatory letter of Branch Clerk of Court Edwin Paredes of Quezon City RTC,
Branch 219, which we noted in our Resolution dated 02 March 2005, there is no longer
any obstacle to the implementation of the existing warrants of arrest.

Unfazed, respondents filed an Urgent Motion for Clarification.[6]

In a Resolution[7] dated August 15, 2005, the Court expunged said motion from
the records and resolved to:

x x x (b) ADMONISH [private respondents] and their counsel to pay heed to the
directives of this Court and against misrepresenting the import of its rulings and to desist
from any further unauthorized pleadings UNDER PAIN OF CONTEMPT.

Meanwhile, an Entry of Judgment[8] was issued by the Court certifying that the
aforesaid Decision rendered on December 16, 2004 had become final and executory on
July 5, 2005.

Due to the voluntary inhibition of Judge Paneda of RTC-QC Branch 219,


Criminal Case Nos. Q-01-99892 and Q-01-99893 were re-raffled to RTC-QC Branch
100 presided by Judge Marie Christine A. Jacob (Judge Jacob). On September 1, 2005,

private respondents filed before said trial court a Motion for Determination of Probable
Cause and/or Motion to Dismiss the Case and Quash Warrant of Arrest.[9] Pending the
trial courts action on said motion, this Court issued another Resolution[10] on
December 12, 2005 ordering Judge Jacob to enforce the warrants of arrest issued by
Judge Paneda on December 3, 2003 with utmost dispatch and to submit a report thereon.

Pursuant thereto, Judge Jacob issued an Order dated January 4, 2006, denying
private respondents motion for determination of probable cause/to dismiss/quash and
ordered the enforcement of the arrest warrants against them.[11] Thereafter, Judge
Jacob inhibited[12] herself from the aforesaid cases and the same were re-raffled to
Branch 83 of the trial court presided by respondent Judge Ralph S. Lee.

Private respondents filed a motion for reconsideration[13] of the January 4, 2006


Order of Judge Jacob and a Motion to Re-Determine the Existence or Non-Existence of
Probable Cause which May Even Warrant Dismissal-Even of the Appropriate Charges of
Homicides, Frustrated and Attempted Homicides.[14]

In the meantime, petitioner secured copies of the arrest warrants in order to


facilitate respondents long overdue arrests and was dismayed to discover copies of such
warrants stamped EXPIRED.[15] Thus on March 31, 2006, the prosecution filed a
Motion for the Issuance of Alias Warrants of Arrest before Branch 83. When the trial
court failed to act immediately on said motion, the prosecution filed a Motion for
Inhibition of Judge Lee on May 23, 2006 not knowing that on May 12, 2006, respondent
judge had issued an Order[16] granting respondents motion for re-determination of
probable cause and ordered the down-grading of the subject offenses to Double
Homicide with Attempted Homicide, Double Frustrated Homicide and Attempted
Homicide, before eventually inhibiting[17] himself from the aforesaid cases on July 14,
2006.

Hence, the present recourse contending that private respondents are guilty of
indirect contempt for stubbornly filing motions for the dismissal of the criminal cases
and/or the re-determination of probable cause notwithstanding the Decision and
Resolution of the Court as to the proper charge against them.

Petitioner also avers that respondent judge set aside this Courts final Decision in
G.R. No. 159962 by down-grading the offenses charged against respondents. His
seeming indifference to look into the highly suspicious act of stamping the warrants
EXPIRED as well as his failure to act on the prosecutions Manifestation with Motion
for the Issuance of the Alias Warrants of Arrest as well as its subsequent Motion for
Inhibition is an affront to this Court as an institution.[18]

In their Comment, private respondents contend that while there is no dispute that
this Courts Decision in G.R. No. 159962 was final and executory, it was not a decision
on the merits but upon a mere technicality from which not even the principle of res
judicata has set in.[19] They insist that the phrase with which to charge the accused
found in the Decision clearly indicates that the issue of the appropriate crimes with
which to charge the accused was left unresolved by this Court. They argue that
resolving said issue is a task which lies with the trial court (Branch 83 in this case), as it
involves evidentiary matters.[20] Respondents likewise maintain that the instant petition
should be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds because indirect contempt proceedings
involve a full-blown trial which can only be had before the trial courts.[21]

The sole issue for resolution is whether respondents are guilty of indirect contempt.

We rule in the affirmative.

Pertinent portions of Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, read:

Sec. 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. After a


charge in writing has been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment
thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or
counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect
contempt:
xxxx
(b)
Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order or
judgment of a court, x x x.
xxxx
(d)
Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct,
or degrade the administration of justice;
xxxx

Contempt of court is defined as a disobedience to the Court by acting in


opposition to its authority, justice and dignity. It signifies not only a willful disregard or
disobedience of the courts orders, but such conduct which tends to bring the authority
of the court and the administration of law into disrepute or in some manner to impede
the due administration of justice. Contempt of court is a defiance of the authority,
justice or dignity of the court; such conduct as tends to bring the authority and
administration of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or prejudice party litigants
or their witnesses during litigation. The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all
courts and is essential to the preservation of order in judicial proceedings and to the
enforcement of judgments, orders, and mandates of the court, and consequently, to the
due administration of justice.[22]

The charge must be filed before the court against which the indirect contempt was
committed.[23] Respondents contention that the petition should be dismissed on
jurisdictional grounds because indirect contempt proceedings involve a full-blown trial

which can only be had before the trial court lacks merit. It is a well-established rule that
the power to determine the existence of contempt of court rests exclusively with the
court contemned.[24]

Section 5, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, clearly provides that:

Sec. 5. Where charge to be filed. Where the charge for indirect contempt has
been committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank,
or against an officer appointed by it, the charge may be filed with such court. x x x.
(Emphasis supplied)

In the present case, private respondents are guilty of indirect contempt for filing the
following:

(1)

Urgent Motion for Clarification of the dispositive portion of the December 16,
2004 Decision in G.R. No. 159962;

(2)

Motion for Determination of Probable Cause and/or Motion to Dismiss the Case
and to Quash Warrant of Arrest (with prayer for suspension of the enforcement
of warrant of arrest pending hearing) filed on September 1, 2005 before Branch
100 of the RTC of Quezon City presided by Judge Christine Jacob;

(3)

Motion for Reconsideration of Judge Jacobs January 4, 2006 Order denying


their motion dated September 1, 2005 filed on January 24, 2006;

(4)

Motion to Re-Determine the Existence or Non-Existence of Probable Cause


Which May Even Warrant Dismissal- Even of the Appropriate Charges of
Homicide, Frustrated and Attempted Homicide filed before Branch 83 on
February 21, 2006.

The December 16, 2004 Decision of the Court in G.R. No. 159962 clearly
sustained the filing of two Informations for Murder with Attempted Murder, two
Informations for Frustrated Murder and an Information for Attempted Murder against
private respondents. The Court even directed the implementation of the arrest warrants
against them.

This, notwithstanding, private respondents filed a motion for

determination of probable cause and/or the dismissal of the case against them. Worse,
this was done after being admonished by the Court to pay heed to its directives under
pain of contempt.

With the finality of this Courts Decision, all issues relative to the determination of
the proper offenses with which to charge private respondents had been laid to rest. In
continuing to file pleadings and motions purportedly seeking for the clarification of the
proper charges against them, respondents merely rehashed their tired arguments and
unavailing assertions. They did not only succeed in delaying the conduct of the trial of
the aforesaid cases but also willfully and deliberately flouted this Courts directives with
their stubborn refusal to abide by our pronouncement and their incessant nit-picking of
issues already resolved with finality.

In granting respondents motions for reconsideration and re-determination of


probable cause, and consequently down-grading the charges against respondents in his
Order dated May 12, 1006, Judge Lee contravened this Courts directive in G.R. No.
159962 and in the subject Resolutions. He impudently substituted his own judgment for
that of this Court. Had he thoroughly reviewed the records of the case, it would have
been impossible for him to misread the import of said Decision and Resolutions.

In sum, we find that private respondents persistent attempts to raise issues long
since laid to rest by a final and executory judgment constitute contumacious defiance of
the authority of this Court and impede the speedy administration of justice.[25]

Under Section 7 of Rule 71, if the respondent is adjudged guilty of indirect


contempt committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher
rank, he may be punished by a fine not exceeding P30,000.00 or imprisonment not
exceeding six months, or both.

In Alcantara v. Ponce,[26] this Court found the incessant filing by the respondents
and their counsels of pleadings and motions with the ultimate purpose of convincing the
Court to give due course to their petition despite its categorical and final resolve to deny
the same as constituting indirect contempt and ordered them to pay a fine of P2,000.00
each.

In Heirs of Trinidad De Leon v. Court of Appeals,[27] we held that respondent


corporations insistent filing of an action for reconveyance, quieting of title and damages
involving the same parcels of land which this Court already decided with finality as
constituting indirect contempt and fined it in the amount of P10,000.00.

We are well aware of the legal precept that the power of the court to punish
contemptuous acts should be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive
principle. However, where there is clear and contumacious defiance of, or refusal to
obey this Court's Decision, as in the instant case, we will not hesitate to exercise our
inherent power if only to maintain respect to this Court, for without which the
administration of justice may falter or fail.[28] Under the circumstances attendant in the

instant case, we find the fine of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) to be meted upon each
respondent to be in order.

WHEREFORE, private respondents Mayor Anwar Berua Balindong, Lt. Col.


Jalandoni Cota, Mayor Amer Oden Balindong and Ali Balindong and public respondent
Judge Ralph S. Lee of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 83 are found
guilty of INDIRECT CONTEMPT and ordered to pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND
PESOS (P5,000.00) each payable in full within five days from receipt of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
Chairperson

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION
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 Courts Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

Chief Justice

Penned by Associate Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario and concurred in by Associate Justices


Reynato S. Puno, Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, and Dante O. Tinga; 447 SCRA 201.
[1]
[2]

Rollo, pp. 36-37; 44 and 58.

[3]

Supra note 1 at 202-207.

[4]

Id. at 213.

[5] Rollo,

pp. 36-37.

[6]

Id. at 38-43.

[7]

Id. at 44.

[8]

Id. at 46-47.

[9]

Id. at 48-57.

[10]

Id. at 58-59.

[11]

Id. at 60-62.

[12]

Id. at 63-64.

[13]

Id. at 65-79.

[14]

Id. at 80-106.

[15]

Id. at 107-110.

[16]

Id. at 117-125.

[17]

Id. at 438-439.

[18]

Id. at 10.

[19]

Id. at 298.

[20]

Id. at 299.

[21]

Id. at 287.

[22]

Lu Ym v. Mahinay, G.R. No. 169476, June 16, 2006, SC E-library.

[23]

Igot v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 150794, August 17, 2004, 436 SCRA 668, 674.

[24]

Id. at 675, citing San Luis v. Court of Appeals, 417 Phil. 598, 606-607 (2001).

[25]

Pacquing v. Court of Appeals, 200 Phil. 516, 523 (1982).

[26]

G.R. No. 131547, December 15, 2005, 478 SCRA 27, 48 & 60.

[27]

G.R. No. 138660, February 5, 2004, 422 SCRA 101, 114 & 121.

[28]

Province of Camarines Norte v. Province of Quezon, 419 Phil. 372, 389 (2001).

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