The doctrine of estoppel is predicated on,
and has its origin in equity which, broadly defined, is justice according
to natural law and right. It
is a principle intended to avoid a clear case of injustice.
The term is hardly distinguishable from a waiver of right.
Estoppel, like its counterpart, must be unequivocal and intentional
for, when misapplied, it can easily become a convenient and effective
means of injustice. Estoppel
is not understood to be a principle that, as a rule, should prevalently
apply but, as it concededly is, a mere exception from the standard legal
norms of general application that can be invoked only in highly
exceptional and justifiable cases.
[La Naval Drug Corporation vs. Court of
Appeals, 236 SCRA 78.]
Petitioner could not be faulted for its
failure to move for the dismissal of the appeal at an earlier time acting
upon the assumption, albeit erroneously, that the appeal was filed
on time relying on the order, dated 11 December 1989, of the trial court
declaring that the notice of
appeal had been filed within the reglementary period.
Neither can the conduct of petitioner's counsel during the
conference called by and held before the trial court be regarded as a
waiver of its right to contest the seasonableness of the appeal.
A motion contesting a late appeal may be filed before the appellate
court even after the transmittal of the records therein.
[Section 1, Rule 50, 1997 Rules of Civil
The legality of the appeal
may be raised at any stage of the proceedings in the appellate court, and
the latter is not precluded from dismissing the petition on the ground of
its being out of time. A
recognition of the merit of the petition does not necessarily carry with
it any assumption or conclusion that it has been timely filed.
[Ditching vs. Court of Appeals, 263
Strangely, respondents did not attempt to explain the reason for the delay
and would, instead, lay the blame on petitioner for its failure to assail
the timeliness of the appeal.
It may here be worthwhile to reiterate the pronouncement in Galima vs. Court of Appeals 22 [16 SCRA 140.] that an error by counsel in ascertaining the appeal period will not arrest the finality of the judgment.
Vitug, Third Division, MANILA
MEMORIAL PARK CEMETERY, INC., petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS,
BERNARDO, DOMINADOR, HERMOGENA LUCIA, and MARIA GATCHALIAN, and the HEIRS
OF GREGORIO GATCHALIAN: ROLANDO, CONRADO and ARTURO, all surnamed
[G.R. No. 137122.
November 15, 2000]
The failure of petitioner to seasonably assert its alleged right under Section 78 of R.A. No. 337 precludes it from so doing at this late stage of the case. Estoppel may be successfully invoked if the party fails to raise the question in the early stages of the proceedings. 14 [Corona vs. Court of Appeals, 214 SCRA 378, 392.] Thus, “a party to a case who failed to invoked his claim in the main case, while having the opportunity to do so, will be precluded, subsequently, from invoking his claim, even if it were true, after the decision has become final, otherwise the judgment may be reduced to a mockery and the administration of justice may be placed in disrepute.” 15 [Applications of Estoppel in Litigation, 216 SCRA 826, 834 citing: Tuazon vs. Arca, 23 SCRA 1308, 1312.]
Justice Purisima, Third Division, Huerta Alba Resort, Inc. v. CA and Syndicated Management Group, Inc. [G.R. No. 128567. September 1, 2000]
FOURTH. We subscribe to
the time-honored doctrine that estoppel will not lie against the State. In
the case of CIR v. CA, et al.,23 [267 SCRA 557 (1997)]
however, we held that "admittedly
the government is not estopped from collecting taxes legally due because
of mistakes or errors of its agents. But like other principles of law,
this admits of exceptions in the interest of justice and fair play, as
where injustice will result to the taxpayer." In the case at bar, a
stringent application of the rule exempting the state from the equitable
principle of estoppel will prejudice petitioners who are lowly employees
started way back in 1988 when they were unceremoniously dismissed from the
service. It took five years for the MSPB to decide in their favor. Still,
they were not reinstated until the following year, and this only after
several motions filed and orders issued to compel the concerned public
officials to reinstate them. Then again, despite an Order issued as early
as April 19, 1993 by the MSPB, the provincial government was able to pay
petitioners, and even only partially at that, a good two and a half years
after or on December 12, 1995. Now, after more than a decade, respondent
COA holds that petitioners should run after Governor Paredes in his
personal capacity to collect their claims. Worse, petitioners stand in
danger of being made to reimburse what has been paid to them. Under the
policy of social justice, the law bends over backward to accommodate the
interests of the working class on the humane justification that those with
less privilege in life should have more in law.24
[Ditan v. POEA, et al., 191 SCRA 823 (1990)] Rightly, we have
stressed that social justice legislation, to be truly meaningful and
rewarding to our workers, must not be hampered in its application by
long-winded arbitration and litigation. Rights must be asserted and
benefits received with the least inconvenience.25 [Maternity Children’s Hospital v. Secretary of Labor, et al., 174
SCRA 632 (1998)] And the obligation to afford protection to labor
is incumbent not only on the legislative and executive branches but also
on the judiciary to translate this pledge into a living reality.26 [Marquez v. Secretary of Labor, et al., 171 SCRA 337 (1989)]
Social justice would be a meaningless term if an element of rigidity would
be affixed to the procedural precepts. Flexibility should not be ruled
out. Precisely, what is sought to be accomplished by such a fundamental
principle expressly so declared by the Constitution is the effectiveness
of the community’s effort to assist the economically underprivileged.
For under existing conditions, without such succor and support, they might
not, unaided, be able to secure justice for themselves. To make them
suffer, even inadvertently, from the effect of a judicial ruling, which
perhaps they could not have anticipated when such deplorable result could
be avoided, would be to disregard what the social justice concept stands
En Banc, Justice Puno, Uy et al., COA et al., [G.R. No. 130685. March 21, 2000]
Pre-trial order. ---
After the pre-trial conference, the court shall issue an order reciting
the actions taken, the facts stipulated, and evidence marked. Such order
shall bind the parties, limit the trial to matters not disposed of and
control the course of the action during the trial, unless modified by
the court to prevent manifest injustice. (Emphasis supplied)
Defenses and objections not
pleaded. --- xxx (W)hen it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on
record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that
there is an action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or
that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of
limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim.]
A perusal of the factual antecedents reveals that not only has prescription set in, private respondents are also guilty of estoppel by laches. It may be recalled that Leoncio died on January 8, 1962. Fifteen years later, Victor died, leaving as his sole heir Ricardo Villalon, who also died four years later. While Victor was alive, he gave no indication of any interest to contest the donation of his deceased father. As we have discussed earlier, the fact that he actively participated in Civil Case No. 1177 did not amount to a renunciation of his inheritance and does not preclude him from bringing an action to claim his legitime. These are matters that Victor could not possibly be unaware of, considering that he is a lawyer.21 [Amended Complaint, Annex C-1 of Petition; Rollo, 52.] Ricardo Villalon was even a lessee of a portion of the donated property, and could have instituted the action as sole heir of his natural son, or at the very least, raised the matter of legitime by way of counterclaim in an ejectment case 22 [Motion to Dismiss Complaint, Annex "D" of Petition; Rollo, 56-57.] filed against him by petitioner in 1979. Neither does it help private respondents’ cause that five years have elapsed since the death of Ricardo in 1981 before they filed their complaint with the RTC.
Estoppel by laches is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable or unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, warranting a presumption that the person has abandoned his right or declined to assert it.23 [Madeja vs. Patcho, 132 SCRA 540.] We find the necessity for the application of the principle of estoppel by laches in this case, in order to avoid an injustice.Justice Gonzaga-Reyes, Third division, ELOY IMPERIAL, petitioner vs. COURT OF APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF LEGASPI CITY, CESAR VILLALON, JR., TERESA VILLALON, ANTONIO VILLALON, AUGUSTO VILLALON, ROBERTO VILLALON, RICARDO VILLALON and ESTHER VILLALON, respondents. [G.R. No. 112483. October 8, 1999]
Petitioner is thus estopped from asserting that the MTCC had not acquired jurisdiction over it. It did not question the failure of private respondent to implead it as a party defendant. On the contrary, evidence clearly showed that petitioner had knowledge of the existence and the pendency of the unlawful detainer suit filed against Cosntancio Manzano. It would be unjust to private respondent to allow petitoiner to put in issue at this late stage the jurisdiction of the court over it. In Korean Airlines Co., Ltd. v. Court of Appeals, 5 [247 SCRA 599, 603 (1995)] we held:While it is a rule that jurisdictional question may be raised at any time, this however, admits of an exception where, as in this case, estoppel has supervened. This Court has time and again frowned upon the undesirable practice of a party submitting his case for a decision and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction when adverse. Chief
Justice Mendoza, Second Division, ORO CAM ENTERPRISES, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, former Fourth Division and ANGEL CHAVES, INC., respondents [G.R. No. 128743. November 29, 1999]
Settled is the rule that is the averments in the information which characterize the crime to be prosecuted and the court before which it must tried. [People v. Polo, 169 SCRA 471 (1989)] In our legal system, the question of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. Thus, we apply the general rule that jurisprudence is vested by law and cannot be conferred or waived by the parties. Even on appeal and even if the reviewing parties did not raise the issue of jurisdiction, the reviewing court is not precluded from ruling that the lower court had no jurisdiction over the case:
The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of jurisdiciton seemingly depends upon whether the lower court had jurisdiction or not. If it had not jurisdiction, but the case was tried and decided upon the theory it had jurisdiction, the parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such juridiction, for the same " must exist as a matter of law, and may not be conferred by consent of the parties or by estoppel." [ People v. Casiano, 111 Phil. 73 (1961) citing CJS, 861-863.]
Estoppel in questioning the jurisdiction of the court is only brought to bear when not to do so will subvert the ends of juextice. Jurisdiction of courts is the blueprint of our judicial system without which the road to djustice woud be confusing maze. Whenever the question of juridiction is put to front, courts should not lieghtly brush aside errors i juridiction especially when it is the liberty of an individual which is at stake:
" Where life or liberty is affected by its proceedings, the court must keep strictly within the limits of the law authorizing it to take jurisdiction and to try the case and to render judgment. It cannot pass beyond those limits in any essential requirement in either stage of these proceedings; and its authority in those particulars is not be enlarged by any mere inferences from the law or doubtful construction of its terms. There has been a great deal said and written, in many cases with embarrassing looseness of expression, as to the juridisction of the courts in criminal cases. From somewhat extended examination of the authorities as to any particular judgment of the courts in such cases may be determined. It is plain that such court has jurisdiction to render a particular judgment only when the offense charged is within the class of offenses place by the law under its jurisdiction; determination of the question of his guilt or innocence, and in rendering judgment, the court keeps within the limitations prescribed by the law, customary or statutory. When the court goes out of these limitations its action, to the extent of such excess, is void." [People v. Pagarum, 58 Phil. 715 (1993)]
Justice Kapunan, First Division, Pangilinan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 117363, December 17, 1999.
He now raises the following issues before us in this petition for review in certiorari: (a) whether the RTC of Manila acquired jurisdiction over the violations of the Bouncing Checks Law, and (b) whether the checks had been issued on account or for value. 6 [Id., pp. 19-22.]
As regards the first issue, petitioner contends that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over the offenses under B.P. Blg. 22 and that assuming for the sake of argument that she raised the matter of jurisdiction only upon appeal to respondent appellate court, still she cannot be estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the trial court.
It is a fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in criminal cases the offense should have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Territorial jurisdiction in criminal cases is the territory where the court has jurisdiction to take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly committed therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot take jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense allegedly committed outside of that limited territory. 7 [U.S. v. Cunanan, 26 Phil. 376-378 (1913).] Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. 8 [ Colmenares v. Villar, No. L-27124, 29 May 1970, 33 SCRA 186] And once it is so shown, the court may validly take cognizance of the case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial show that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction. 9 [People v. Galano, No. L-42925, 31 January 1977, 75 SCRA 193.]
In the case at bar, the complaint for estafa and the various charges under B.P. Blg. 22 were jointly tried before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Petitioner challenges the jurisdiction of the lower court stating that none of the essential elements constitutive of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 was shown to have been committed in the City of Manila. She maintains that the evidence presented established that (a) complainant was a resident of Makati; (b) petitioner was a resident of Caloocan City; (c) the place of business of the alleged partnership was located in Malabon; (d) the drawee bank was located in Malabon; and, (e) the checks were all deposited for collection in Makati. Taken altogether, petitioner concludes that the said evidence would only show that none of the essential elements of B.P. Blg. 22 occurred in Manila. Respondent People of the Philippines through the Solicitor General on the one hand argues that even if there is no showing of any evidence that the essential ingredients took place or the offense was committed in Manila, what is critical is the fact that the court acquired jurisdiction over the estafa case because the same is the principal or main case and that the cases for violations of Bouncing Checks Law are merely incidental to the estafa case.
We disagree with respondent. The crimes of estafa and violation of the Bouncing Checks Law are two (2) different offenses having different elements and, necessarily, for a court to acquire jurisdiction each of the essential ingredients of each crime has to be satisfied.
In the crime of estafa, deceit and damage are essential elements of the offense and have to be established with satisfactory proof to warrant conviction. 10 [People v. Gorospe, G.R. Nos. 74053-54, 20 January 1988, 157 SCRA 154.] For violation of the Bouncing Checks Law, on the other hand, the elements of deceit and damage are neither essential nor required. Rather, the elements of B.P. Blg. 22 are (a) the making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply to account or for value; (b) the maker, drawer or issuer knows at the time of issuance that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and, (c) the check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment. 11 [Navarro v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 112389-90, 1 August 1994, 234 SCRA 639.] Hence, it is incorrect for respondent People to conclude that inasmuch as the Regional Trial Court of Manila acquired jurisdiction over the estafa case then it also acquired jurisdiction over the violations of B.P. Blg. 22. The crime of estafa and the violation of B.P. Blg. 22 have to be treated as separate offenses and therefore the essential ingredients of each offense have to be satisfied.
In this regard, the records clearly indicate that business dealings were conducted in a restaurant in Manila where sums of money were given to petitioner; hence, the acquisition of jurisdiction by the lower court over the estafa case. The various charges for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 however are on a different plain. There is no scintilla of evidence to show that jurisdiction over the violation of B.P. Blg. 22 had been acquired. On the contrary, all that the evidence shows is that complainant is a resident of Makati; that petitioner is a resident of Caloocan City; that the principal place of business of the alleged partnership is located in Malabon; that the drawee bank is likewise located in Malabon and that all the subject checks were deposited for collection in Makati. Verily, no proof has been offered that the checks were issued, delivered, dishonored or knowledge of insufficiency of funds occurred in Manila, which are essential elements necessary for the Manila Court to acquire jurisdiction over the offense.
Upon the contention of respondent that knowledge on the part of the maker or drawer of the check of the insufficiency of his funds is by itself a continuing eventuality whether the accused be within one territory or another, the same is still without merit. It may be true that B.P. Blg. 22 is a transitory or continuing offense and such being the case the theory is that a person indicted with a transitory offense may be validly tried in any jurisdiction where the offense was in part committed. We note however that knowledge by the maker or drawer of the fact that he has no sufficient funds to cover the check or of having sufficient funds is simultaneous to the issuance of the instrument. We again find no iota of proof on the records that at the time of issue, petitioner or complainant was in Manila. As such, there would be no basis in upholding the jurisdiction of the trial court over the offense.
In an attempt to salvage the issue that the RTC of Manila had jurisdiction over the violations of B.P. Blg. 22, respondent relies on the doctrine of jurisdiction by estoppel. Respondent posits that it took some five (5) years of trial before petitioner raised the issue of jurisdiction.
The Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, under Rule 117, Sec. 3, provides that the accused may move to quash the complaint or information on any of the following grounds: . . . (b) that the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charge or over the person of the accused. Moreover, under Sec. 8 of the same Rule it is provided that the failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, either because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion, shall be deemed a waiver of the grounds of a motion to quash, except the grounds of . . . lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged . . . as provided for in paragraph . . . (b) . . . of Section 3 of this Rule. 12 [Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.]
After a careful perusal of the records, it is crystal clear that petitioner timely questioned the jurisdiction of the court in a memorandum 13 [ Rollo. pp. 103-104] before the Regional Trial Court and thereafter in succeeding pleadings. On this finding alone, we cannot countenance the inadvertence committed by the court. Clearly, from the abovequoted law, we can see that even if a party fails to file a motion to quash, he may still question the jurisdiction of the court later on. Moreover, these objections may be raised or considered motu propio by the court at any stage of the proceedings or an appeal. 14 [ Suy Sui v. People, 49 O.G. 967]
Assuming arguendo that there was a belated attempt to question the jurisdiction of the court and hence, on the basis of the Tijam v. Sibonghanoy case 15 [ Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, No. L-21450, 15 April 1968, 23 SCRA 29] in which respondent seeks refuge, the petitioner should be estopped. We nonetheless find the jurisprudence of the Sibonghanoy case not in point.
In Calimlim v. Ramirez, 16 [No. L-34362, 19 November 1982, 118 SCRA 399, Dy v. NLRC, G.R. No. 68544, 27 OCTOBER 1989, 145 SCRA 211]. the Court held that the ruling in the Sibonghanoy case is an exception to the general rule that the lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. The Court stated further that Tijam v. Sibonghanoy is an exceptional case because of the presence of laches. The Court said:
A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of non-waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. 17 [People v. Eduarte, G.R. No. 88232, 26 February 1990, 182 SCRA 750, citing Calimlim v. Ramirez, No. L-34362, 19 November 1982, 118 SCRA 399].
In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court that rendered the questioned ruling was held to be barred by laches. It was ruled that the lack of jurisdiction having been raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed almost fifteen (15) years after the questioned ruling had been rendered, such a plea may no longer be raised for being barred by laches. As defined in said case, laches is 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 the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert it. 18 [ibid]
The circumstances of the present case are very different from Tijam v. Sibonghanoy. No judgment has yet been rendered by the trial court in this case. As a matter of fact, as soon as the accused discovered the jurisdictional defect, she did not fail or neglect to file the appropriate motion to dismiss. They questioned the jurisdiction of the trial court in a memorandum before the lower court. Hence, finding the pivotal element of laches to be absent, we hold that the ruling in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy does not control the present controversy. Instead, the general rule that the question of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings must apply. Petitioner is therefore not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the trial court. 19 [ibid]
Justice Belosillo, First Division, Rosa Uy v. CA and People G.R. No. 119000. July 28, 1997.
"1.....there must have been a representation or concealment of material facts;
"2.....the representation must have been with knowledge of the facts;
"3.....the party to whom it was made must have been ignorant of the truth of the matter; and
"4.....it must have been with the intention that the other party would act upon it.
Respondent GTP, thru Atty.
Atienza, requested from METROBANK that he be
furnished a copy of the full indebtedness secured by the real estate
mortgage.15 [Exhibit "Q"; Records, p. 176.] In response
thereto, petitioner METROBANK issued a statement of account as of
September 15, 198016
[Exhibit "B"; Records, p. 149.] which amount was
immediately settled and paid the next day amounting to
Just as decisive is petitioner METROBANK's failure to bring before respondent Court of Appeals the current statement evidencing what it claims as "other unliquidated past due loans" at the scheduled hearing of 8 March 1995. It was a golden opportunity, so to speak, lost for petitioner METROBANK to defend its non-release of the real estate mortgage. Thus, the following pronouncements of this Court in Manila Bay Club Corporation vs. Court of Appeals et. al,18 [249 SCRA 303, 306.] speaking thru Mr. Justice Ricardo Francisco,19 [now retired.] find rightful application, viz.-
"It is a well-settled rule that when the evidence tends to prove a material fact which imposes a liability on a party, and he has it in his power to produce evidence which from its very nature must overthrow the case made against him if it is not founded on fact, and he refuses to produce such evidence, the presumption arises that the evidence, if produced, would operate to his prejudice, and support the case of his adversary. x x x"
"No rule of law is better settled than that a party having it in his power to prove a fact, if it exists, which, if proved, would benefit him, his failure to prove it must be taken as conclusive that the fact does not exist."
x x x......................x x x......................x x x
"Where facts are in evidence affording legitimate inferences going to establish the ultimate fact that the evidence is designed to prove, and the party to be affected by the proof, with an opportunity to do so, fails to deny or explain them, they may well be taken as admitted with all the effect of the inferences afforded. x x x"
"The ordinary rule is that one who has knowledge peculiarly within his own control, and refuses to divulge it, cannot complain if the court puts the most unfavorable construction upon his silence, and infers that a disclosure would have shown the fact to be as claimed by the opposing party."
Verily, petitioner METROBANK's omission to present its evidence only created an adverse inference against its cause. Therefore, it cannot now be heard to complain since respondent Court extended a reasonable opportunity to petitioner METROBANK that it did not avail.
Justice Buena, Second Division, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company v. Court of Appeals and GTB Devt Corporation [G.R. No. 122899. June 8, 2000]
Furthermore, estoppel in pais arises when one, by his acts, representations or admissions, or by his own silence when he ought to speak out, intentionally or through culpable negligence, induces another to believe certain facts to exist and such other rightfully relies and acts on such belief, so that he will be prejudiced if the former is permitted to deny the existence of such facts. 7 [Panay Electric Co. v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 81939, 29 June 1989, 174 SCRA 500.] This doctrine obtains in the present case. A statement of account for P376,350.18 covering the period above mentioned was received from respondent by petitioner with nary a protest from the latter. Neither did petitioner controvert the demand letter concerning the overdue account of P237,909.38; on the contrary, it asked for ample time to source funds to substantially settle the account.
Bellosillo, First Division, ROBLETT INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION
CORPORATION, Petitioner vs. , COURT OF APPEALS and CONTRACTORS
EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, Respondents, G. R. No. 116682,January 2,
Petitioners failed to appreciate the distinction between a void and an erroneous judgment and between jurisdiction and the exercise of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction should be distinguished from the exercise thereof (Lamagan v. De La Cruz, 40 SCRA 101 ). The authority to decide a case at all and not the decision rendered therein, is what makes up jurisdiction. The fact that the decision is erroneous does not divest the court that rendered it of the jurisdiction conferred by law to try the case (Quiason, Philippine Courts and Their Jurisdictions, p. 199 [1993 ed.]).
Since jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine a particular case, or the jurisdiction over the subject matter, it does not depend upon the regularity of the exercise by the court of its power (Century Insurance Co. v. Fuentes, 2 SCRA 1168 ).
In the case at bench, there is no question that the Regional Trial Court has the competence to hear and decide Civil Case No. 88-45660, a special civil action for mandamus under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court. There is also no quarrel that said court has jurisdiction over an action for specific performance under Section 19(1) of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1990 (Lapitan v. Scandia, 24 SCRA 479 ). Assuming arguendo that the Regional Trial Court did not have jurisdiction over the said civil case, the principle of estoppel will operate to bar petitioners from raising the question of jurisdiction for the first time in the instant case (Tijam v. Sibonghanay, 23 SCRA 29 ).
Having jurisdiction over the civil case, whatever error may be attributed to the trial court, is simply one of judgment, not of jurisdiction. An error of judgment cannot be corrected by certiorari but by appeal (Robles v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 181 SCRA 780 ; De Castro v. Delta Motor Sales Corporation, 57 SCRA 344 ; Galang v. Endencia, 73 Phil. 391 ). In fact, Mayor Lopez availed of such a remedy when he appealed the decision in Civil Case No. 88-45660 to the Court of Appeals (CA G. R. No. 16477-SP).
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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