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ANTI-FORUM SHOPPING RULE

WELCOME TO THE PHILIPPINE CIVIL PROCEDURES!

The proviso in the second paragraph of Section 5, Rule 8, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, i.e., that the violation of the anti-forum shopping rule "shall not curable by mere amendment xxx but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice," being predicated on the applicability of the need for a certification against forum-shopping, obviously does not include a claim which cannot be independently set up.

Administrative Circular No. 04-94 6 [Took effect on April 1, 1994.] was issued by this Court in order to prevent the undesirable practice of forum-shopping, which exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause, on the chance that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition.

Administrative Circular No. 04-94 6 [Took effect on April 1, 1994.] was issued by this Court in order to prevent the undesirable practice of forum-shopping, which exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause, on the chance that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition. 7 [Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Flores, 287 SCRA 449 (1998).] The pertinent portion of the Circular provides-

xxx xxx xxx Chief

(1) The plaintiff, petitioner, applicant or principal party seeking relief in the complaint, petition, application or other initiatory pleading shall certify under oath in such original pleading, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith, to the truth of the following facts and undertakings: (a) he has not theretofore commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency; (b) to the best of his knowledge, no such action or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency; (c) if there is any such action or proceeding which is either pending or may have been terminated, he must state the status thereof; and (d) if he should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court or agency wherein the original pleading and sworn certification contemplated herein have been filed.

The complaint and other initiatory pleadings referred to and subject of this Circular are the original civil complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim, third (fourth, etc.) party complaint, or complaint-in-intervention, petition, or application wherein a party asserts his claim for relief. 

Justice Gonzaga-Reyes, Third Division, Sps. Ponciano v. Judge Jose J. Parentela, Jr.  and SPS Ildefonso Clamosa and Leonora Clamosa, [G.R. No. 133284. May 9, 2000]

 

 

Compulsory counterclaim pleaded in an answer need not be accompanied with a certificate of non-forum shopping.

Administrative Circular No. 04-94 6 [Took effect on April 1, 1994.] was issued by this Court in order to prevent the undesirable practice of forum-shopping, which exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause, on the chance that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition.7 [Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Flores, 287 SCRA 449 (1998).] The pertinent portion of the Circular provides-

xxx xxx xxx Chief

(1) The plaintiff, petitioner, applicant or principal party seeking relief in the complaint, petition, application or other initiatory pleading shall certify under oath in such original pleading, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith, to the truth of the following facts and undertakings: (a) he has not theretofore commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency; (b) to the best of his knowledge, no such action or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency; (c) if there is any such action or proceeding which is either pending or may have been terminated, he must state the status thereof; and (d) if he should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court or agency wherein the original pleading and sworn certification contemplated herein have been filed. Esm

The complaint and other initiatory pleadings referred to and subject of this Circular are the original civil complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim, third (fourth, etc.) party complaint, or complaint-in-intervention, petition, or application wherein a party asserts his claim for relief. Esmsc

In resolving the issues presented in this case, it should first be asked whether, in the first place, a compulsory counterclaim pleaded in an answer must be accompanied with a certificate of non-forum shopping. This very same issue was confronted in the case of Santo Tomas University Hospital v. Surla,8 [294 SCRA 382 (1998).] wherein we held that the above-quoted provisions of administrative Circular No. 04-94 do not apply to compulsory counterclaims. Speaking for the Court, Justice Vitug explained that-

It bears stressing, once again, that the real office of Administrative Circular No. 04-94, made effective on 01 April 1994, is to curb the malpractice commonly referred to also as forum-shopping. It is an act of a party against whom an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum of seeking and possibly getting a favorable opinion in another forum, other than by appeal or the special civil action of certiorari, or the institution of two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition. The language of the circular distinctly suggests that it is primarily intended to cover an initiatory pleading or an incipient application of a party asserting a claim for relief. Esmmis

It should not be too difficult, the foregoing rationale of the circular aptly taken, to sustain the view that the circular in question has not, in fact, been contemplated to include a kind of claim which, by its very nature as being auxiliary to the proceedings in the suit and as deriving its substantive and jurisdictional support therefrom, can only be appropriately pleaded in the answer and not remain outstanding for independent resolution except by the court where the main case pends. Prescinding from the foregoing, the proviso in the second paragraph of Section 5, Rule 8, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, i.e., that the violation of the anti-forum shopping rule "shall not curable by mere amendment xxx but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice," being predicated on the applicability of the need for a certification against forum-shopping, obviously does not include a claim which cannot be independently set up. Esmso

A compulsory counterclaim is any claim for money or other relief which a defending party may have against an opposing party, which at the time of suit arises out of, or is necessarily connected with, the same transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of plaintiffís complaint. It is compulsory in the sense that if it is within the jurisdiction of the court, and does not require for its adjudication the presence of third parties over whom the court cannot acquire jurisdiction, it must be set up therein, and will be barred in the future if not set up.9 [Cabaero v. Cantos, 271 SCRA 391 (1997).]

In the case at bar, there is no doubt that the counterclaims pleaded by petitioners in their answers are compulsory in nature. The filing of a separate action by petitioners would only result in the presentation of the same evidence as in Civil Case No. TM-601. Proceeding from our ruling in Santo Tomas University Hospital, petitioners need not file a certification of non-forum shopping since their claims are not initiatory in character, and therefore, are not covered by the provisions of Administrative Circular No. 04-94.

Justice Gonzaga-Reyes, Third Division, Sps. Ponciano v. Judge Jose J. Parentela, Jr.  and SPS Ildefonso Clamosa and Leonora Clamosa, [G.R. No. 133284. May 9, 2000]  

 

The issuance of the writ of possession being a ministerial function, and summary in nature, it cannot be said to be a judgment on the merits, but simply an incident in the transfer of title. Hence, a separate case for annulment of mortgage and foreclosure sale cannot be barred by litis pendentia or res judicata.

With regard to the second issue, it will be recalled that the essence of forum-shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining favorable judgment.19 [Melo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123686, November 16, 1999, p. 5.] It exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another.20 [Ibid.] The issuance of the writ of possession being a ministerial function, and summary in nature, it cannot be said to be a judgment on the merits, but simply an incident in the transfer of title. Hence, a separate case for annulment of mortgage and foreclosure sale cannot be barred by litis pendentia or res judicata.21 [A.G. Development v. CA, 281 SCRA 155, 158 (1997)] Clearly, insofar as LRC Case No. R-4874 and Civil Case No. 64604 pending before different RTCs are concerned, there is no forum shopping.

In fact, in Nartates v. GSIS, 156 SCRA 205 (1987), two cases, one for annulment of foreclosure proceedings (G.R. No. L-47669) and another for annulment of the writ of possession (G.R. No. L-47744), both reached this Court at the same time. The Court consolidated the cases since they both stemmed from the foreclosure of the GSIS of the property mortgaged to it by petitioner. As to the issuance of the writ of possession, the Court upheld the issuance of the writ. As to the foreclosure proceedings, the records being complete, the Court found the foreclosure in order.

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Spouses Ong v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 121494, June 8, 2000

 

Revised Circular No. 28-91 provided:

"To avoid [forum shopping], every petition or complaint filed with the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different Divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, shall comply with the following requirements, aside from pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court and existing circulars:

x x x

2. Certification.-The party must certify under oath that he has not commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different Divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, and that to the best of his knowledge, no such action or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different Divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency. If there is any other action pending, he must state the status of the same. If he should learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different Divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, he should notify the court, tribunal or agency within five (5) days from such notice."2 [This requirement is now found in Rule 7, Section 5 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.]

The requirement for a sworn certification against forum shopping was extended by administrative Circular No. 04-94 to complaints, petitions, applications or other initiatory pleadings filed in all courts or agencies other than the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals.

Petitioner contends that in the case of a corporation as petitioner, the certification against forum shopping may be signed by a natural person authorized to do so and with knowledge of the required facts. The authorized person may be anyone authorized by the corporation, not necessarily an officer thereof. In such a case, petitioner argues, the counsel of record has the authority to execute the certification on behalf of the corporation, particularly considering that under the Rules of Court, counselís authority to represent his client is presumed. No written power of attorney is required for counsel to appear for his client.

If we follow petitionerís line of reasoning, then the requirement in Revised Circular No. 28-91 that petitioner himself must make the certification against forum shopping would have been rendered useless. Why require petitioner himself to certify when his counsel can anyway execute the certification on his behalf?

The reason the certification against forum shopping is required to be accomplished by petitioner himself is because only the petitioner himself has actual knowledge of whether or not he has initiated similar actions or proceedings in different courts or agencies. Even his counsel may be unaware of such fact. For sure, his counsel is aware of the action for which he has been retained. But what of other possible actions?

We disagree with petitioner that a corporation cannot possibly hope to comply with the requirement laid down by Revised Circular No. 28-91 because it is a juridical entity and not a natural person. If this were so, then it would have been impossible for a corporation to do anything at all. Needless to say, this is the reason why corporations have directors and officers, to represent it in its transactions with others. The same is true for the certification against forum shopping. It could easily have been made by a duly authorized director or officer of the corporation. That petitioner did not in the first instance comply with the requirement of revised Circular No. 28-91 by having the certification against forum shopping signed by one of its officers, as it did after its petition before the Court of Appeals had been dismissed, is beyond our comprehension.

In the recent case of Spouses Valentin Ortiz and Camilla Milan Ortiz v. Court of Appeals, et al., 299 SCRA 708, 711-712 (1998), we ruled that

"Regrettably, we find that substantial compliance will not suffice in a matter involving strict observance as provided for in Circular No. 28-91. The attestation contained in the certification on non-forum shopping requires personal knowledge by the party who executed the same. To merit the Courtís consideration, petitioners here must show reasonable cause for failure to personally sign the certification. The petitioners must convince the court that the outright dismissal of the petition would defeat the administration of justice."

In this case, petitioner has not adequately explained its failure to have the certification against forum shopping signed by one of its officers.

Neither has it shown any compelling reason for us to disregard strict compliance with the rules.

As we further stated in Spouses Ortiz,

"Utter disregard of the rules cannot justly be rationalized by harking on the policy of liberal construction."3 [299 SCRA 708, 712 (1998).]

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Digital Microwave Corporation v. CA and Asian High Technology Corporation [G.R. No. 128550. March 16, 2000]

 

 

The certification against forum shopping is required under Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, viz:

"Sec. 5. Certification against forum shopping.óThe 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 a complaint or other pleading initiating an action in court, the plaintiff or principal party shall certify as to three undertakings: (a) that he has not 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, he should make a complete statement of the present status of said action or claim; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action has been filed or is pending in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court where his complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. Failure to comply with these requirements shall be cause for dismissal of the case without prejudice, or with prejudice but only upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a false certification or the non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein may subject the party to indirect contempt of court as well as administrative and criminal actions. If the partyís or his counselís acts constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be a ground for summary dismissal of the case with prejudice, and the imposition of direct contempt and administrative sanctions. alonzp

The foregoing provision was taken with modification from Administrative Circular No. 04-94 issued by the Supreme Court on February 8, 1994.3 [J. Feria, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, p. 29 [1997]; J. Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, vol. I, pp. 147-148 [1997].] This Circular complements Revised Circular No. 28-91 designed "to prevent the multiple filing of petitions or complaints involving the same issues in other tribunals or agencies as a form of forum shopping."4 [Par. 1, Administrative Circular No. 04-94.]

In the case at bar, the certification against forum shopping of private respondent declared the pendency of SPA 98-359 and Election Offense Cases Nos. 161 and 177. No reference was made to SPC 98-009 and SPC 98-124, the two pre-proclamation controversies also pending before the Comelec. Petitioner alleges that private respondent engaged in forum shopping by deliberately concealing from the trial court the existence of these two cases.5 [Petition, pp. 12-14; Rollo, pp. 16-18.] Private respondent, on the other hand, claims that there was no need to mention the two cases because they were deemed abandoned and rendered moot and academic upon the filing of the election contest.6 [Comment, pp. 7-9; Rollo, pp. 44-46.]

SPC 98-124 was terminated pursuant to the provisions of Section 16 of Republic Act (R. A.) No. 7166 and Comelec Omnibus Resolution No. 3049 on pending cases dated June 29, 1998. All pre-proclamation cases pending before the Comelec in the May 11, 1998 elections were deemed terminated at noon of June 30, 1998, the beginning of the term of office involved; and the rulings of the board of canvassers concerned were deemed affirmed, without prejudice to the filing of a regular election protest by the aggrieved party. SPC 98-124 before the Comelec was an appeal from the ruling of the board of canvassers,7 [Reply to Comment, p. 4; Rollo, p. 77.] hence, was deemed terminated by noon of June 30, 1998. When private respondent filed the election contest on July 27, 1998, SPC 98-124 had already been terminated.

SPC 98-009 which was originally filed with the Comelec nevertheless continued pursuant to the same R. A. 7166 and Comelec Omnibus Resolution 3049. On July 14, 1998, a Resolution was issued by the Comelec, First Division, dismissing SPC 98-009. Private respondent forthwith moved for reconsideration. It was during the pendency of this motion that private respondent filed E. C. Case No. 15-24. And yet he failed to mention the filing of both SPC 98-124 and SPC 98-009 and the pendency of SPC 98-009 in the certification against forum shopping. This failure, however, does not mandate the outright dismissal of E. C. Case No. 15-24. Scš

E. C. Case No. 15-24 is not governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure. The Rules of Civil Procedure generally do not apply to election cases. They apply only by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and convenient.8 [Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

"Sec. 4. In what cases not applicable.-- These Rules shall not apply to election cases, land registration, cadastral, naturalization and insolvency proceedings, and other cases not herein provided for, except by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and convenient."] Election contests are subject to the Comelec Rules of Procedure. Rule 35 thereof governs election contests involving elective municipal officials before the Regional Trial Courts.9 [Section 2, Rule 1; Section 1, Rule 35, Comelec Rules of Procedure.] Rule 35 does not require that the petition contesting the election of any municipal official be accompanied by a certification or any statement against forum shopping.

Applying the Rules of Civil Procedure suppletorily, the failure to comply with the non-forum shopping requirements of Section 5 of Rule 7 does not automatically warrant the dismissal of the case with prejudice as petitioner insists. The Rule states that the dismissal is without prejudice. The dismissal may be with prejudice but only upon motion and after hearing. Here, a motion was made by petitioner and a hearing conducted by the trial court. The court found that there was a certificate against forum shopping attached to the petition but the certificate did not completely state all the cases filed and pending at the time of filing of the petition. There was no allegation that private respondent submitted a false certification as to constitute contempt of court. Neither was there evidence that private respondent and his counsels committed acts amounting to a willful and deliberate forum shopping as to warrant the summary dismissal of the case and the imposition of direct contempt on them. Accordingly, the trial court found it just and proper not to dismiss the case.

Private respondent has explained that despite the pendency of his motion for reconsideration in SPC 98-009, the pre-proclamation case, he was compelled to file the election contest as a result of petitionerís proclamation by the Municipal Board of Canvassers. Under the Comelec Rules of Procedure, a petition contesting the election of any municipal official must be filed within ten (10) days following the date of proclamation of the results of the election.10 [Section 3, Rule 35.] This period is mandatory and jurisdictional.11 [Roquero v. Commission on Elections, 289 SCRA 150, 156 [1998].] When no action was taken by the Comelec in SPC 98-009, private respondent filed the election contest on July 27, 1998, the tenth day after petitionerís proclamation on July 17, 1998. It was only on January 19, 1999, six (6) months later, that the Comelec en banc rendered a Resolution denying private respondentís motion for reconsideration and affirming the July 4, 1998 Resolution of the Comelec, First Division.12 [Annex "4" to Comment, Rollo, pp. 70-71.]Scmis”

Private respondent alleges that when he filed the election contest, he automatically abandoned SPC 98-009. His acts, however, show otherwise. At the time the trial court rendered its questioned order of November 23, 1998, it had no knowledge that private respondent had already abandoned SPC 98-009. The trial court itself urged in said order that private respondent "would do well to make a definite choice of his remedy."13 [Order dated November 23, 1998, Annex "A" to Petition, p. 2; Rollo, p. 31.] In addition, there is petitionerís allegation that after the filing of the election contest, the Comelec, First Division, issued an order giving due course to private respondentís motion for reconsideration and at the same time certifying SPC 98-009 to the Comelec en banc. Private respondent received a copy of this order on August 5, 1998. He failed to report this Order to the trial court within five (5) days from its receipt, in violation of one of the undertakings in the certificate against forum shopping.14 [Petition, p. 13; Rollo, p. 17.] This allegation has not been rebutted by private respondent.

Be that as it may, in dismissing SPC 98-009, the Comelec, First Division, itself noted that the issues raised therein were not proper for a pre-proclamation case, but should be made in an election protest. E. C. Case No. 15-24 is precisely the election protest.

The strict application of the non-forum shopping rule in the case at bar would not work to the best interest of the parties and the electorate. An election contest, unlike an ordinary civil action, is clothed with a public interest. The purpose of an election protest is to ascertain whether the candidate proclaimed by the board of canvassers is the lawful choice of the people. What is sought is the correction of the canvass of votes, which was the basis of proclamation of the winning candidate.15 [De Castro v. Ginete, 27 SCRA 623, 629-630 [1969]; also cited in Agpalo, Comments on the Omnibus Election Code, p. 361 [1992].] An election contest therefore involves not only the adjudication of private and pecuniary interests of rival candidates but paramount to their claims is the deep public concern involved and the need of dispelling the uncertainty over the real choice of the electorate. And the court has the corresponding duty to ascertain by all means within its command who is the real candidate elected by the people.16 [Bince, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 242 SCRA 273, 287 [1995]; Duremdes v. Commission on Elections, 178 SCRA 746, 759 [1989]; Juliano v. Court of Appeals, 20 SCRA 808, 818-819 [1967].]

Moreover, the Comelec Rules of Procedure are subject to a liberal construction. This liberality is for the purpose of promoting the effective and efficient implementation of the objectives of ensuring the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections and for achieving just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every action and proceeding brought before the Comelec.17 [Section 3, Rule 1, Comelec Rules of Procedure.] Thus we have declared:

"It has been frequently decided, and it may be stated as a general rule recognized by all courts, that statutes providing for election contests are to be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officers may not be defeated by mere technical objections. An election contest, unlike an ordinary action, is imbued with public interest since it involves not only the adjudication of the private interests of rival candidates but also the paramount need of dispelling the uncertainty which beclouds the real choice of the electorate with respect to who shall discharge the prerogatives of the office within their gift. Moreover, it is neither fair nor just to keep in office for an uncertain period one whose right to it is under suspicion. It is imperative that his claim be immediately cleared not only for the benefit of the winner but for the sake of public interest, which can only be achieved by brushing aside technicalities of procedure which protract and delay the trial of an ordinary action."18 [Pahilan v. Tabalba, 230 SCRA 205, 212-213 [1994]; see also Punzalan v. Commission on Elections, 289 SCRA 702, 720 [1998]; Bince, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, supra, pp. 286-287.]Mis” sc

Similarly, the Rules of Civil Procedure on forum shopping should be applied with liberality. In the instant case, the revision of ballots has already started in ten (10) precincts. The right of the people of Tampakan to freely express their choice of representative through a free and honest election should not be smothered by a strict adherence to technical rules of procedure.

Justice Puno, First Division, Barroso v. Ampig and Escobillo [G.R. No. 138218. March 17, 2000]  

 

 

As to petitionerís assertion that private respondents resorted to forum shopping, the same deserves scant consideration. As noted by the Solicitor General, private respondentsí claims in this case are based on underpayment of wages, legal holiday pay, service incentive leave pay and 13th month pay. On the other hand, the other cases separately filed in different fora by Danilo Canares, Aurelia Gabucan, Dexter Mitschek and Ruel Viray involved different issues which are distinct and have no bearing on the case at bar.10 [Rollo, p. 141.] The case pursued by Canares is for diminution of salary on account of his demotion which was decided in his favor with finality by this Court;11 [Cheniver Deco Print Technics Corp. vs. NLRC, GR-119841, June 5, 1995.] Gabucanís case involves reinstatement to her job; Mitschekís case pertains to diminution of his salary; and Virayís complaint was dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute. Thus, there is no basis for petitionerís forum shopping charge as the instant case and the others do not raise identical causes of action, subject matter and issues.12 [International Container Terminal Services Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 249 SCRA 389, 394-395 (1995).]

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Cheniver Deco Print Technics Corporation v. NLRC, CFW Magkakaisang Lakas Ng Mga Manggagawa sa Cheniver Deco Print Technic Corporation, Edgardo Viguesilla[G.R. No. 122876. February 17, 2000]

All three requisites must be present. The absence of any one requisite would defect the claim of litis pendencia or lis pendens.

As regards the first requirement, it is evident that the four cases involved essentially the same parties representing the same interest. In order that there be identity of parties the law does not require absolute identity of such parties with respect to a later case. Only substantial, and not absolute, identity of parties is required for lis pendens.10 [Sempio v. CA, 284 SCRA 580, 586.] The addition or elimination of parties does not alter the situation.11 [DasmariŮas Village Association, Inc. v. CA, 299 SCRA 598, 605 (December 1998).] In Civil Case No. 99934, the plaintiff is University Physicians Services, Inc., and the defendants are Marian Clinics, Inc. and Dra. Lourdes F. Mabanta. In Civil Case No. 00665-CV, the plaintiffs are Marian Clinics, Inc. and Dra. Lourdes F. Mabanta and the defendant is University Physicians Services. In Civil Case No. 83-21275, the plaintiffs are Lourdes F. Mabanta, assisted by her Administrator Elias S. Asuncion and the defendants are University Physicians Services, Inc., and Dr. Paulo C. Campos, defendants. And in the case at bar, which originated as Civil Case No. 52978, the plaintiffs are the Marian Clinics, Inc. and spouses Lourdes and Fausto Mabanta and the defendant is University Physicians Services, Inc.

However, the two (2) other requisites are not present. The reliefs sought in the three other pending cases are different from that sought in the instant case and are anchored on different facts, different sets of acts or omissions constituting the cause of action in the present case. The relief sought in the present case evidently is not similar much less identical to that sought in the three (3) other cases. A resolution of any of these three pending cases below would not in any way constitute a bar to the resolution of the present case. What the instant case seeks is only the reasonable compensation for UPSIís continued use of private respondentsí properties beyond the May 31, 1983 expiry date of the original lease contract and for the damages suffered by Dra. Mabanta when the latterís gate was destroyed by UPSIís security guards. For there to be identity of rights and reliefs prayed for, the basic consideration is that the relief sought must be founded on the same facts which gives rise to the cause of action which is not the case here. Edpmis

Civil Case No. 99934, for specific performance and damages was filed by herein petitioner UPSI on October 27, 1975. UPSI claimed that private respondents (except respondent Fausto Mabanta) violated the lease agreement by their failure to deliver the certificates of occupancy of the leased buildings and the alleged non-repair of the defective electrical installations in the leased buildings. In Civil Case No. 00665-CV for Unlawful Detainer, filed on December 18, 1975, the case centers on the alleged violation of UPSI of the contract of lease for non-payment and refusal to pay its monthly rental since November 1975 at the time the lease contract was still in force. The merits of this case was already resolved by this Court in favor of the private respondents herein in G.R. No. 71579. The subject of appeal pending before the Court of Appeals refers only to defendantís opposition to the execution of judgment filed by herein private respondents and not the merit of their claim for unlawful detainer. On the other hand, Civil Case No. 83-21275, a case for restoration of water supply with injunction and damages, which was filed on November 14, 1983, was based on UPSIís alleged unlawful closure of the pipe lines which supplied water to all parts of the Soledad Building except that pipe line supplying water to the Juanchito restaurant occupied by petitioners. The only relief prayed for in this case is the reconnection of the water supply to the Soledad Building and damages. As admitted by the private respondents in their Appelleeís Brief12 [Petition, Annex "N-2," p. 16; Rollo, p. 443.] filed before the respondent court what is left for determination is only their claim for damages because a few days after the case was filed herein petitioner restored the water supply to the Soledad Building. The case was then archived pending determination of the ejectment case. Jjsc

Consequently, there being different causes of action in these four (4) cases including the case subject matter of the present petition, a decision in one case will not constitute res judicata with respect to the other pending cases.

We affirm the following ratiocination of the trial court in its Order13 [Records, pp. 296-298.] dated May 29, 1986 denying the motion to dismiss filed by petitioner UPSI, which was adopted by the respondent court as being in accord with existing laws and jurisprudence on the matter: Scjj

"x x x a cursory examination of the causes of action in the different cases enumerated by the defendant in its motion, viewed from the purposes of the actions, would readily show that the other cases referred to, as pending between the parties involved causes of action very much different from the causes of action in the present case. As can be gleaned from defendantís motion to dismiss, amplified by plaintiffís opposition to said motion, the first case (Civil Case No. 99934) filed by University Physicians Services, Inc., hereafter referred to as UPSI for brevity, is for specific performance, whereby UPSI seeks the delivery of Marian Clinics, Inc. and Lourdes Mabanta, Certificates of Occupancy and the payment of damages arising form the non-delivery of the certificates. The second case (specified by plaintiffs in their opposition as Civil Case No. 006665-CV) filed by Marian Clinics and Lourdes Mabanta, seeks the ejectment of UPSI from the leased premises, on grounds of breach of the terms of the lease. And the third case (Civil Case No. 83-21275, filed by Lourdes Mabanta, assisted by her administrator), seeks the restoration of water supply in Lourdes Mabantaís premises, with injunction and damages.

The instant action has for its subject the recovery of reasonable compensation for defendantís use of certain leased properties of the plaintiffs Marian Clinics, Inc. and Lourdes Mabanta, from June 1, 1983 to the present, and also for damages allegedly suffered by plaintiff Lourdes Mabanta by reason of the alleged destruction by defendant of the steel gate shutter of plaintiffsí property. Sjcj

From these, the Court cannot see how the two causes of action in the present complaint in the case at bar can be the same with the causes of action of the three pending cases cited by defendants.

x x x x x x

x x x, on the identity of rights asserted and the reliefs prayed for: This Court had shown the difference in rights asserted and the reliefs prayed for in the three other cases, Civil Cases Nos. 99934, 0066634-CV and 83-21275 and in the case at bar. x x x x x x Let it, however, be emphasized that the three cases and the one at bar are founded on different facts, different sets of alleged violations of the rights constituting causes of action in the three cases, are entirely different in the case at bar. Supreme

Third, x x x; a judgment rendered in three cases cannot be res judicata in the case at bar because x x x the rights asserted and the reliefs prayed for in the instant case are entirely different, separate and distinct from the rights asserted and the reliefs demanded in the three other cases.

In fine, there is no res judicata to justify the dismissal of the case at bar." (Emphasis Ours)14 [CA Decision, p. 9-12; Annex "A", Rollo, pp. 60-63.]

From the foregoing, the other claim by petitioner UPSI regarding forum-shopping has to be rejected in light of the ruling of this Court in DasmariŮas Village Association, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,15 [299 SCRA 598,606 citing International Container Terminal Services, Inc. v. CA, 249 SCRA 389 (1995); Philippine Womanís Christian Temperance Union, Inc. v. Abiertas House of Friendship, Inc. & Radiance School, Inc., 292 SCRA 785 (1998); and Marina Properties Corp. v. CA, 294 SCRA 273 (1998).] where it was held that:

"x x x, the established rule is that for forum-shopping to exist, both actions must involve the same transactions; same essential facts and circumstances and must raise identical causes of action, subject matter and issues. In this regard, forum-shopping exists where the elements of litis pendencia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other. Court

Accordingly, the requisites of litis pendencia not having concurred, private respondent cannot be held guilty of forum-shopping.

Justice Gonzaga, Third Division, University Physicians Services, Inc. v. CA, Marian Clinics, Inc. and Sps. Lourdes and Fausto Mabanta [G.R. No. 115045. January 31, 2000]

 

Forum-shopping exists when the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another.19 [Alejandrino v. Court of Appeals, 295 SCRA 536, 554 (1998); Philippine Womanís Christian Temperance Union, Inc. v. Abiertas House of Friendship, Inc., 292 SCRA 785, 794 (1998)] Litis pendentia requires the concurrence of the following requisites:

1.......Identity of parties, or at least such parties as those representing the same interests in both actions;

2.......Identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for, the reliefs being founded on the same facts; and

3.......Identity with respect to the two preceding particulars in the two cases, such that any judgment that may be rendered in the pending case, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res adjudicata in the other case.20 [Philippine Womanís Christian Temperance Union, Inc. v. Abiertas House of Friendship, Inc., supra., at 791; citations omitted.]

As explained by this Court in First Philippine International Bank v. Court of Appeals, forum-shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present, and where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other. Thus, there is forum-shopping when, between an action pending before this Court and another one, there exist: "a) identity of parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests in both actions, b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts, and c) the identity of the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other action, will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration; said requisites also constitutive of the requisites for auter action pendant or lis pendens." Another case elucidates the consequence of forum-shopping: "[W]here a litigant 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."21 [Prubankers Association v. Prudential Bank & Trust Company, 302 SCRA 74, 83-84 (1999)] Sc

In this case, while there may be identity of parties and of some reliefs prayed for, any judgment rendered in one of the actions filed by petitioner will not amount to res judicata in the other actions. The following are the elements of res judicata:

1.......The former judgment must be final;

2.......The court which rendered judgment must have jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter;

3.......It must be a judgment on the merits; and

4.......There must be between the first and second actions identity of parties, subject matter, and cause of action.22 [Saura v. Saura, Jr., G.R. 136159, September 1, 1999.]

It should be recalled that the five actions filed by petitioner were for quieting of title based on separate certificates of title. Hence, the subject matters involved are different in each case. As such, the cases alleged different causes of action. Corollarily, a judgment in any one case will not affect the issue in the other cases inasmuch as those pertain to different lands covered by different certificates of title. Consequently, petitioner could not have been guilty of forum-shopping.

Therefore, all five cases filed by petitioner against respondent Marietta Valisno, which were ordered dismissed by the Court of Appeals, are hereby revived, and ordered consolidated to be jointly tried before the Regional Trial Court of Las PiŮas City, where the real property is situated, pursuant to Rule 4, Section 1, first paragraph of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, to enable petitioner and respondent to fully ventilate all issues between them in one proceeding.

Justice Ynares-Santiago, First Division, AYALA LAND, INC., petitioner, vs. MARIETTA VALISNO, respondent [G.R. No. 135899. February 2, 2000]

 

 

But we are constrained to dismiss the petition on the ground of forum shopping and the case being moot and academic.

A party is guilty of forum shopping when he repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely, by some other court. 1 [Gatmaytan v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 123332, ] February 1997, 267 SCRA 487.3 And what is truly important to consider in determining whether forum shopping exists is the vexation caused the courts and the litigants by a party who asks different courts and/or administrative agencies to rule on the same or related causes and/or grant the same or substantially the same reliefs, in the process creating the possibility of conflicting decisions being rendered by the different fora upon the same issues. 2 [Golangco v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 124724, 22 December 1997, 283 SCRA 493.]

XXX

To compare, petitioner is asserting in the present petition that the Court of Appeals has not acted on his prayer for a temporary restraining order; consequently, he asks that it be commanded to resolve his plea.  At the same time, however, he seeks the same prayer in his pending petition before the Court of Appeals, i.e., that the Ad Hoc Committee be restrained from proceeding further with the administrative case against him 3 [Id., p. 15.] based on the same allegations quoted in the immediately preceding paragraph. 4 [Id., pp. 11-12.] His willful attempt to obtain a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction before this Court after his efforts before the original  court did not merit immediate response, 5 [Fil-Estate Golf and Development, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 120958, 16 December 1996, 265 SCRA 614.] thereby pursuing simultaneous remedies in two (2) courts based on the same facts and raising the same issues, constitutes forum shopping, no less.

Forum shopping has been characterized as an act of malpractice that is prohibited and condemned as trifling with the courts and abusing their processes.  It constitutes improper conduct which tends to degrade the administration of justice.  It has also been aptly described as deplorable because it adds to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts. 6 [Solid Homes, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 108451, 11 April 1997, 271 SCRA 157.] In petitionerís deliberate attempt to obtain the same reliefs in two (2) different courts, he was obviously shopping for a "friendly" forum which would capitulate to his improvident plea for a temporary restraining order and was thus trifling with the judicial process. 7 [Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Flores, A. C. No. 4058, 12 March 1998, 287 SCRA 449.]

Revised Circular No. 28-91 8 [Effective 1 April 1994] provides these pertinent sanctions for forum shopping: (a) summary dismissal of the multiple petitions; and, (b) direct contempt of court.  Conformably therewith, this Court orders the dismissal of the present petition as well as CA-G.R. SP No. 56735.  In addition, this Court warns petitioner and his counsel that insisting on their petition and pursuing it before this Court might make them liable for contempt, the latter being tasked with assisting the courts in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. 9 [Canon 12, Code of Professional Responsibility.]

Justice Bellosillo, Second Division, RAMONITO TANTOY, SR., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, OSCAR IBAY, MEYNARDO GONZALES, RICARDO JAVIER, ROMEO MEDINA and RODOLFO SESE in their capacity as Chairman and Members of the Ad Hoc Committee created by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Makati, ABNER D. DREU,  JOSE BIAZON, SR., NELSON CABAHUG, MARIO FREO, SALVADOR MADRIDEO and GENARO ORCULLO, respondents.  [G.R. No. 141427.  April 20, 2001]  

 

 

We note that both petitioners did not comply with the rule on certification against forum shopping. The certifications in their respective  petitions were executed by their lawyers, which is not correct.10 [Rollo, G.R. No. 115755, p. 14: G.R. No. 116101, pp.33-34.] The certification of non-forum shopping must be by the petitioner or a principal party and not the attorney. This procedural lapse on the part of petitioners could have warranted the outright dismissal of their actions.11 [Condo Suite Club Travel Inc. vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 125671, January 28, 2000, p. 6.]

But, the Court recognizes the need to resolve these two petitions on their merits as a matter of social justice involving labor and capital.  After all, technicality should not be allowed to stand in the way of equitably and completely resolving herein the rights and obligations of these parties.12 [Philippine Scout Veterans Security and Investigation Agency Inc. vs. NLRC, 299 SCRA 690, 694 (1998).12 Moreover, we must stress that technical rules of procedure  in labor cases are not to be strictly applied if the result would be detrimental to the working woman.13 [Judy Phils. Inc. vs. NLRC, 289 SCRA 755, 764 (1998).13

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, IMELDA B. DAMASCO, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, MANILA GLASS SUPPLY and BONIFACIO K. SIA, respondents.[G.R. No. 116101.  December 4, 2000],BONIFACIO K. SIA and MANILA GLASS SUPPLY, petitioners, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, LABOR ARBITER DOMINADOR B. SALUDARES, DEPUTY SHERIFF ANTONIO T. DATU and IMELDA B. DAMASCO, respondents [G.R. No. 115755.  December 4, 2000]

 

 

To begin with, the essence of forum-shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment.5 [Executive Secretary v. Gordon, G.R. No. 134171, November 18, 1998.] It exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another.6 [Solid Homes, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 271 SCRA 157 (1997).] On the other hand, for litis pendentia to be a ground for the dismissal of an action, the following requisites must concur: (a) identity of parties, or at least such parties who represent the same interests in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity with respect to the two preceding particulars in the two cases is such that any judgment that may be rendered in the pending case, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other case.7 [Valencia v. Court of Appeals, 256 SCRA 478 (1996).]

But, in the instant case, the petition for the Ex-Parte Issuance of a Writ of Possession which petitioners filed involved a different cause of action from the complaint for injunction filed by private respondent. Petitioners sought possession of the subject property, whereas private respondent sought to enjoin them from consolidating title over the same. Petitionersí action is founded on Act No. 3135, ß7, which gives the purchaser at a public auction the right to have possession of the property sold to him during the redemption period even if eventually they do not succeed in consolidating their title to it. On the other hand, private respondentsí action is based on R.A. No. 337, ß78, which gives a mortgagor the right to redeem the property sold at foreclosure sale within one year thereof. Thus, private respondent could very well oppose petitionersí action to obtain possession of the property while trying to prevent them from consolidating title in a separate case. The decision in one is not conclusive of the other.

Nonetheless, petitioners contend that private respondent failed to comply with the requirements of Administrative Circular No. 09-94 on non-forum shopping and, therefore, her complaint should have been dismissed by the trial court. We find this contention to be well taken.

Administrative Circular No. 09-94 states in pertinent parts:

The plaintiff, petitioner, applicant or principal party seeking relief in the complaint, petition, application or other initiatory pleadings shall certify under oath in such original pleadings, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith, to the truth of the following facts and undertakings: (a) he has not heretofore commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency; (b) to the best of his knowledge, no such action or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency; (c) if there is any such action or proceeding which is either pending or may have been terminated, he must state the status thereof; and, (d) if he should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court or agency wherein the original pleading and sworn certification contemplated herein have been filed.

. . .

Any violation of this Circular shall be cause for the dismissal of the complaint, petition, application or other initiatory pleading, upon motion and after hearing. However, any clearly willful and deliberate forum shopping by any party and his counsel through the filing of multiple complaints or other initiatory pleadings to obtain favorable action shall be a ground for summary dismissal thereof and shall constitute direct contempt of court. Furthermore, the submission of a false certification or non-compliance with the undertakings therein, as provided in Paragraph 1 hereof, shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to disciplinary proceedings against the counsel and the filing of a criminal action against the guilty party.

The requirement to file a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory.8 [Loyola v. Court of Appeals, 245 SCRA 477 (1995).] Failure to comply with this requirement cannot be excused by the fact that plaintiff is not guilty of forum shopping. The Court of Appeals, therefore, erred in concluding that Administrative Circular No. 04-94 did not apply to private respondentís case merely because her complaint was not based on petitionerís cause of action. The Circular applies to any complaint, petition, application, or other initiatory pleading, regardless of whether the party filing it has actually committed forum shopping. Every party filing a complaint or any other initiatory pleading is required to swear under oath that he has not and will not commit forum shopping. Otherwise, we would have an absurd situation where the parties themselves would be the judge of whether their actions constitute a violation of said Circular, and compliance therewith would depend on their belief that they might or might not have violated the requirement. Such interpretation of the requirement would defeat the very purpose of Circular 04-94.

Indeed, compliance with the certification against forum shopping is separate from, and independent of, the avoidance of forum shopping itself. Thus, there is a difference in the treatment - in terms of imposable sanctions - between failure to comply with the certification requirement and violation of the prohibition against forum shopping. The former is merely a cause for the dismissal, without prejudice, of the complaint or initiatory pleading, while the latter is a ground for summary dismissal thereof and constitutes direct contempt.

Nor can subsequent compliance with the requirement excuse a partyís failure to comply in the first instance. As Justice Regalado explains in his works on the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure:

l. This section, with modifications, is taken from Administrative Circular No. 04-94 issued by the Supreme Court on February 8, 1994 for this purpose explained therein:

"Revised Circular No. 28-91, dated February 8, 1994 applies to and governs the filing of petitions in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals and is intended to prevent the multiple filing of petitions or complaints involving the same issues in other tribunals or agencies as a form of forum shopping.

"Complementary thereto and for the same purpose, the following requirements, in addition to those in pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court and existing circulars, shall be strictly complied with in the filing of complaints, petitions, applications or other initiatory pleadings in all courts and agencies other than the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals and shall be subject to the sanctions provided hereunder."

The provisions of Revised Circular No. 28-91 have been adopted and incorporated in Rules 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 64 and 65.

2. Aside from some amendments to the original sanctions imposed in Administrative Circular 04-94, this section reiterates as a regular requirement under the Rules that the certification against forum shopping may be incorporated in the complaint or contained in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith. This enunciates the policy of the Supreme Court expressed as early as Circular No. 1-88 that subsequent compliance with the requirements for the filing of petitions or motions is not a ground for reconsideration of the dismissal of said pleadings, except for compelling reasons. In light hereof, the view that belated filing of the certification may be deemed a substantial compliance should no longer be sustained.

With respect to the contents of the certification which the pleader may prepare, the rule of substantial compliance may be availed of. While this section requires that it be strictly complied with, it merely underscores its mandatory nature in that it cannot be altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded but it does not thereby prevent substantial compliance on this aspect of its provisions under justifiable circumstances (see Gabionza vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 112547, July 18, 1994). This certification on non-forum shopping was designed to promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and, therefore, should not be interpreted with absolute literalness (Loyola vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 117186, June 29, 1995).

More importantly, this section specifically states that the "(f)ailure 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." This will obviate the former practice of some trial courts in allowing amendment of the incomplete pleading for the incorporation therein of the certificate against forum shopping. That was erroneous since this undertaking against multiple filing of cases is not part of the operative facts required to be alleged in an initiatory pleading, such as allegations on the cause of action, but is a special requirement for admission of the initiatory pleading for filing in court, hence the absence thereof is not curable by mere amendment.

Instead, the case shall be dismissed on motion but, just like the practice under Revised Circular No. 28-91 in the appellate courts, such dismissal shall be without prejudice. This more liberal rule is distinguishable from the effects of dismissal of the case for non-compliance with the Rules under the provisions of Sec. 3, Rule 17 which presupposes the pendency of the case, whereas what is contemplated in this section is the initiation of the case. The case may consequently be refiled within the balance of the reglementary period but subject to the provisions on prescription of actions.

In those cases in which we excused non-compliance with the requirements of Administrative Circular No. 04-94, there were special circumstances or compelling reasons which made the strict application of said Circular clearly unjustified.9 [See Kavinta v. Castillo, Jr., 249 SCRA 605 (1995); Loyola v. Court of Appeals, 245 SCRA 477 (1995); and MSF Tire and Rubber, Inc., v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 128632, August 5, 1999.] In contrast private respondent gave no reason at all for her failure to submit the certificate in question. Indeed, she cannot even feign ignorance of the Circular as her complaint was filed more than one year after the effectivity thereof.

We are not unmindful of the adverse consequence to private respondent of a dismissal of her complaint, nor of the time, effort, and money spent litigating up to this Court solely on a so-called technical ground. Nonetheless, we hold that compliance with the certification requirement on non-forum shopping should not be made subject to a partyís afterthought, lest the policy of the law be undermined.

SPS. APOLINARIO MELO and LILIA T. MELO, and JULIA BARRETO, petitioners vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ARSENIA CORONEL, respondents

 

 

On the second issue, forum shopping involves the institution of two or more cases, actions, or proceedings grounded on the same cause of action on the supposition that one or the other court or tribunal would make a favorable disposition.11 [Solid Homes, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 271 SCRA 157, 163 (1997).] The practice is deplorable as it degrades the administration of justice, adds to the already congested court dockets, and wreaks havoc upon orderly judicial procedure.12 [Nacurnay v. National Labor Relations Commission, 270 SCRA 9, 16-17 (1997).]

Petitioner alleges that private respondent is guilty of forum shopping. She charges that the private respondentís acts of filing a special civil action for certiorari with the appellate court while his appeal was pending before the same forum constitutes forum shopping. To support her contention, petitioner points to our pronouncement in Silahis International Hotel, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 225 SCRA 94 (1993).

Petitionerís reliance on Silahis is completely misplaced. The facts in the aforesaid case are entirely different from the present case. In Silahis, the issues involved in the appealed case and the injunction case were found to be interrelated. In view of this finding, the Court ruled the multiple petitions filed in Silahis to be a species of forum shopping.

In our view, respondent appellate court committed no reversible error in refusing to declare private respondent guilty of forum shopping. As correctly pointed out by the respondent court, the special civil action for certiorari and the appeal, did not involve the same issue. The former sought to have the trial courtís order of December 12, 1995, declared null and void for having been rendered with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The latter assailed the trial courtís judgement of August 31, 1995, as well as its order of December 12, 1995, modifying said judgment. The appeal dealt with the correctness and legal soundness of the questioned decision. Private respondentís special civil action for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, thus, sought to prevent the trial court from committing a grave abuse of discretion. It sought to prevent an act that a court has no authority in law to perform. The special civil action of certiorari was therefore proper and in keeping with the sole office of certiorari: the correction of errors of jurisdiction including the commission of grave abuses of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

In contrast, the appeal sought to correct errors of judgment, which were of a non-jurisdictional nature. What private respondent sought to address in his appeal was the trial courtís appraisal and evaluation of the evidence before it and the factual findings based thereon.

From the foregoing, it may be seen that the two remedies relied upon by the private respondent before the Court of Appeals were distinct from each other. They were not availed of in the alternative or in succession. This is consistent with our ruling in Oriental Media, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 250 SCRA 647 (1995).

Petitioner additionally relies on Collado v. Hernando, 161 SCRA 639 (1988) to advance her cause. We cannot apply the Collado ruling to the present case. The factual circumstances are too different. In Collado, the petitionersí did not disclose that they had an appeal pending with the Court of Appeals when they filed their petition for certiorari. In the instant case, private respondent never concealed from the appellate court that he had filed a notice of appeal and an amended notice of appeal with it, even as he filed his petition for certiorari. The appellate court was thus aware of the appeal pending before it even as it gave due course to the petition for certiorari under Rule 65. We must, therefore, agree with the appellate court that there was no forum shopping involved on the part of the private respondent.

As a last ditch effort, petitioner asks this Court not to sacrifice the substantial rights of a litigant on the altar of technicalities thus resulting in an impairment of the sound principles of justice. Petitioner cites Alonso v. Villamor, 16 Phil 315 (1910) where we held:

"ÖA litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other. It is rather a contest in which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the court the facts in issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done upon the meritsÖ"13 [16 Phil. 315, 321-322 (1910).]

Petitioner is reminded that the private respondentís appeal is still before the appellate court. On appeal, the merits and demerits of the respective positions of the litigants will be reviewed. Petitioner will be afforded every opportunity, during the course of this appeal, to present her side and ask for a favorable ruling. In view of this, there can be no "sacrifice" of the "substantial rights" of the petitioner on the holocaust of technicalities. It is, after all, a time-honored rule of this Court that the rules on technicality were promulgated to secure and not to override substantial justice.14 [Lagunzad v. Court of Appeals, 154 SCRA 199, 205 (1987).]

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, MA. IMELDA ARGEL and HON. DEMETRIO M. BATARIO, JR. IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, BRANCH 48, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS and ROSENDO G. GUEVARA, respondents [G.R. No. 128805. October 12, 1999]

 

 

As a preliminary issue, private respondent urged the dismissal of the petition on the grounds that it was in violation of Circular No. 28-91, prohibiting forum shopping, and Revised Circular No. 1-88, requiring the inclusion in the petition of a verified statement of the dates when notice of the judgment, order or resolution subject thereof, was received, when a motion for reconsideration, if any, was filed, and when the notice of the denial thereof was received.

Private respondent averred that the certification submitted by petitioners did not disclose (1) that the trial court had rendered a decision in Civil Case No. 88- 45660 on September 9, 1988 holding that Ordinance No. 7065 was in full force and effect; (2) that said decision had become final and executory after the petitioners withdrew their appeal therefrom; (3) that petitioners had also filed Civil Case No. 91-58913, questioning the effectivity of Ordinance No. 7065, which was dismissed. Likewise, they alleged that the affidavit did not state the material dates necessary for the Court to determine the timelines of the filing of the petition.  [Rollo, pp. 108-110].

The certification submitted in compliance with Circular No. 28-91 stated that the petitioner in said petition "has not commenced a similar action in any court or administrative body against said respondents nor is there any pending cases of the same nature and parties in any court or administrative body." Rightly, there was no case filed nor was there any case pending wherein the question of whether the decision in Civil Case No. 88-45660 can be executed by motion is raised.

The affidavit on the material dates submitted by petitioners attested to the dates when petitioners received the three orders of respondent judge being questioned in the petition for certiorari. These are the dates material for reckoning the timelines of the filing of the petition to nullify said orders. As far as the issue of the proper mode for executing the decision is concerned, the dates given in the affidavit are sufficient for the Court to determine whether the petition was filed within a reasonable time contemplated in Rule 65.

There is, therefore, no violation of Circular No. 28-91 and Revised Circular No. 1-88 to speak of.

Justice Quiason, First Division, HON. ALFREDO S. LIM, in his capacity as Mayor of Manila and THE CITY OF MANILA, Petitioners vs.  HON. FELIPE G. PACQUING  as Judge, Regional Trial Court of Manila  and ASSOCIATED DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondents, G. R. No. 115044,September 1, 1994  

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