Republic of the Philippines
SPECIAL THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 182645 December 15, 2010
In the Matter of the Heirship (Intestate Estates) of the Late Hermogenes Rodriguez, Antonio Rodriguez, Macario J. Rodriguez, Delfin Rodriguez, and Consuelo M. Rodriguez and Settlement of their Estates,
RENE B. PASCUAL, Petitioner,
JAIME M. ROBLES, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
Before the Court is the Very Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of Jaime M. Robles (Robles) seeking to set aside this Court's Decision dated December 4, 2009 which nullified the April 16, 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 57417 and the February 27, 2007 Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iriga City, Branch 34 in SP No. IR-1110 and reinstated the August 13, 1999 Amended Decision of the same RTC in the same case.
Robles' Motion is based on the following arguments:
A.) THE HEREIN MOVANT – JAIME M. ROBLES, BEING A REAL PARTY-IN-INTEREST – WAS NEVER IMPLEADED AS RESPONDENT IN THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI (WITH PRAYER TO CLARIFY JUDGMENT) DATED MAY 10, 2008 WHICH WAS FILED BEFORE THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT ON MAY 13, 2008 - - - BY PETITIONER-RENE B. PASCUAL;
B.) THE DECISION DATED DECEMBER 04, 2009 ISSUED BY THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT IN G.R. NO. 182645 WAS RENDERED BASED ON A PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND MEMORANDUM DATED APRIL 7, 2009, WHOSE COPIES THEREOF WERE NEVER SERVED UPON THE HEREIN MOVANT;
C.) THE NAME OF HEREIN MOVANT-JAIME M. ROBLES APPEARS AS RESPONDENT IN THE TITLE OF THIS CASE AS CAPTIONED IN THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT'S ASSAILED DECISION DATED DECEMBER 04, 2009. HOWEVER, HE WAS NOT REQUIRED TO FILE COMMENT NOR ANSWER TO THE PETITION, A CLEAR VIOLATION TO (sic) THE RULES OF COURT AND TO (sic) THE CONSTITUTION.
D.) THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS PRESENTED THE SALIENT CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WOULD JUSTIFY THE RELAXATION OF THE RULES ON THE PERFECTION OF AN APPEAL AND THE RULE THAT CERTIORARI IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A LOST APPEAL. THE DECISION ISSUED BY THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS DATED APRIL 16, 2002 HAS ALREADY ATTAINED FINALITY BY WAY OF AN ENTRY OF JUDGMENT ISSUED BY THIS HONORABLE COURT ON NOVEMBER 10, 2005, IN G.R. NO. 168648 ENTITLED JAIME M. ROBLES PETITIONER, VS. HENRY F. RODRIGUEZ, ET. AL., AS RESPONDENTS.1
Robles prays for the reversal of the presently assailed Decision and the entry of a new judgment requiring him to file his comment and memorandum to the petition. Robles also seeks the reinstatement of the December 15, 1994 Order of the RTC declaring him as the only forced heir and next of kin of Hermogenes Rodriguez.
For a clearer discussion and resolution of the instant Motion, it bears to restate the relevant antecedent facts as stated in the assailed Decision of this Court, to wit:
On 14 September 1989, a petition for Declaration of Heirship and Appointment of Administrator and Settlement of the Estates of the Late Hermogenes Rodriguez (Hermogenes) and Antonio Rodriguez (Antonio) was filed before the RTC [of Iriga City]. The petition, docketed as Special Proceeding No. IR-1110, was filed by Henry F. Rodriguez (Henry), Certeza F. Rodriguez (Certeza), and Rosalina R. Pellosis (Rosalina). Henry, Certeza and Rosalina sought that they be declared the sole and surviving heirs of the late Antonio Rodriguez and Hermogenes Rodriguez. They alleged they are the great grandchildren of Antonio based on the following genealogy: that Henry and Certeza are the surviving children of Delfin M. Rodriguez (Delfin) who died on 8 February 1981, while Rosalina is the surviving heir of Consuelo M. Rodriguez (Consuelo); that Delfin and Consuelo were the heirs of Macario J. Rodriguez (Macario) who died in 1976; that Macario and Flora Rodriguez were the heirs of Antonio; that Flora died without an issue in 1960 leaving Macario as her sole heir.
Henry, Certeza and Rosalina's claim to the intestate estate of the late Hermogenes Rodriguez, a former gobernadorcillo, is based on the following lineage: that Antonio and Hermogenes were brothers and the latter died in 1910 without issue, leaving Antonio as his sole heir.
At the initial hearing of the petition on 14 November 1989, nobody opposed the petition. Having no oppositors to the petition, the RTC entered a general default against the whole world, except the Republic of the Philippines. After presentation of proof of compliance with jurisdictional requirements, the RTC allowed Henry, Certeza and Rosalina to submit evidence before a commissioner in support of the petition. After evaluating the evidence presented, the commissioner found that Henry, Certeza and Rosalina are the grandchildren in the direct line of Antonio and required them to present additional evidence to establish the alleged fraternal relationship between Antonio and Hermogenes.
Taking its cue from the report of the commissioner, the RTC rendered a Partial Judgment dated 31 May 1990 declaring Henry, Certeza and Rosalina as heirs in the direct descending line of the late Antonio, Macario and Delfin and appointing Henry as regular administrator of the estate of the decedents Delfin, Macario and Antonio, and as special administrator to the estate of Hermogenes.
Henry filed the bond and took his oath of office as administrator of the subject estates.
Subsequently, six groups of oppositors entered their appearances either as a group or individually, namely:
(1) The group of Judith Rodriguez;
(2) The group of Carola Favila-Santos;
(3) Jaime Robles;
(4) Florencia Rodriguez;
(5) Victoria Rodriguez; and
(6) Bienvenido Rodriguez
Only the group of Judith Rodriguez had an opposing claim to the estate of Antonio, while the rest filed opposing claims to the estate of Hermogenes.
In his opposition, Jamie Robles likewise prayed that he be appointed regular administrator to the estates of Antonio and Hermogenes and be allowed to sell a certain portion of land included in the estate of Hermogenes covered by OCT No. 12022 located at Barrio Manggahan, Pasig, Rizal.
After hearing on Jamie Robles' application for appointment as regular administrator, the RTC issued an Order dated 15 December 1994 declaring him to be an heir and next of kin of decedent Hermogenes and thus qualified to be the administrator. Accordingly, the said order appointed Jaime Robles as regular administrator of the entire estate of Hermogenes and allowed him to sell the property covered by OCT No. 12022 located at Barrio Manggahan, Pasig Rizal.
On 27 April 1999, the RTC rendered a decision declaring Carola Favila-Santos and her co-heirs as heirs in the direct descending line of Hermogenes and reiterated its ruling in the partial judgment declaring Henry, Certeza and Rosalina as heirs of Antonio. The decision dismissed the oppositions of Jamie Robles, Victoria Rodriguez, Bienvenido Rodriguez, and Florencia Rodriguez, for their failure to substantiate their respective claims of heirship to the late Hermogenes.
On 13 August 1999, the RTC issued an Amended Decision reversing its earlier finding as to Carola Favila-Santos. This time, the RTC found Carola Favila-Santos and company not related to the decedent Hermogenes. The RTC further decreed that Henry, Certeza and Rosalina are the heirs of Hermogenes. The RTC also re-affirmed its earlier verdict dismissing the oppositions of Jaime Robles, Victoria Rodriguez, Bienvenido Rodriguez, and Florencia Rodriguez.2
Robles then appealed the August 13, 1999 Decision of the RTC by filing a Notice of Appeal, but the same was denied by the trial court in its Order dated November 22, 1999 for Robles' failure to file a record on appeal.
Robles questioned the denial of his appeal by filing a petition for review on certiorari with this Court.
In a Resolution dated February 14, 2000, this Court referred the petition to the CA for consideration and adjudication on the merits on the ground that the said court has jurisdiction concurrent with this Court and that no special and important reason was cited for this Court to take cognizance of the said case in the first instance.
On April 16, 2002, the CA rendered judgment annulling the August 13, 1999 Amended Decision of the RTC.
Henry Rodriguez (Rodriguez) and his group moved for the reconsideration of the CA decision, but the same was denied in a Resolution dated January 21, 2004. Rodriguez and his co-respondents did not appeal the Decision and Resolution of the CA.
On the other hand, Robles filed an appeal with this Court assailing a portion of the CA Decision. On August 1, 2005, this Court issued a Resolution denying the petition of Robles and, on November 10, 2005, the said Resolution became final and executory.
On May 13, 2008, the instant petition was filed.
On December 4, 2009, this Court rendered the presently assailed Decision which held as follows:
In special proceedings, such as the instant proceeding for settlement of estate, the period of appeal from any decision or final order rendered therein is 30 days, a notice of appeal and a record on appeal being required. x x x
x x x x
The appeal period may only be interrupted by the filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration. Once the appeal period expires without an appeal being perfected, the decision or order becomes final, x x x
x x x x
In the case under consideration, it was on 13 August 1999 that the RTC issued an Amended Decision. On 12 October 1999, Jaime Robles erroneously filed a notice of appeal instead of filing a record on appeal. The RTC, in an order dated 22 November 1999, denied this for his failure to file a record on appeal as required by the Rules of Court. Petitioner failed to comply with the requirements of the rule; hence, the 13 August 1999 Amended Decision of the RTC lapsed into finality. It was, therefore, an error for the Court of Appeals to entertain the case knowing that Jaime Robles' appeal was not perfected and had lapsed into finality.
This Court has invariably ruled that perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period laid down by law is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional. The failure to perfect an appeal as required by the rules has the effect of defeating the right to appeal of a party and precluding the appellate court from acquiring jurisdiction over the case. The right to appeal is not a natural right nor a part of due process; it is merely a statutory privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law. x x x Failure to meet the requirements of an appeal deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction to entertain any appeal. There are exceptions to this rule, unfortunately respondents did not present any circumstances that would justify the relaxation of said rule.3
The basic contention of Robles in the instant Motion is that he is a party-in-interest who stands to be adversely affected or injured or benefited by the judgment in the instant case. He also argues that the failure of service upon him of a copy of the instant petition as well as petitioner's memorandum, and the fact that he was not required or given the opportunity to file his comment or answer to the said petition nor served with any order, resolution or any other process issued by this Court in the instant petition, is a clear denial of his right to due process.
In his Comment and Opposition, petitioner contends that Robles has no legal standing to participate in the instant petition. Petitioner argues that in an original action for certiorari, the parties are the aggrieved party against the lower court and the prevailing party. Petitioner claims, however, that Robles was never impleaded, because he was not the prevailing party in the assailed Decision of the CA as well as the questioned Order of the RTC. Petitioner further avers that the inclusion of Robles' name as respondent in the caption of the instant petition was a result of a clerical error which was probably brought about by numerous cases filed with this Court involving Robles and the subject estate.
The Court finds partial merit in the instant motion.
Petitioner admitted in his Comment and Opposition to Robles' Motion that in the instant petition he filed, only the CA and the RTC were impleaded as respondents.
Section 5, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court provides:
Section 5. Respondents and costs in certain cases. – When the petition filed relates to the acts or omissions of a judge, court, quasi-judicial agency, tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, the petitioner shall join as private respondent or respondents with such public respondent or respondents, the person or persons interested in sustaining the proceedings in the court; and it shall be the duty of such private respondents to appear and defend, both in his or their own behalf and in behalf of the public respondent or respondents affected by the proceedings, and the costs awarded in such proceedings in favor of the petitioner shall be against the private respondents only, and not against the judge, court, quasi-judicial agency, tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person impleaded as public respondent or respondents.
Unless otherwise specifically directed by the court where the petition is pending, the public respondents shall not appear in or file an answer or comment to the petition or any pleading therein. If the case is elevated to a higher court by either party, the public respondents shall be included therein as nominal parties. However, unless otherwise specifically directed by the court, they shall not appear or participate in the proceedings therein.4
In Lotte Phil. Co., Inc. v. Dela Cruz,5 this Court ruled as follows:
An indispensable party is a party-in-interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action, and who shall be joined either as plaintiffs or defendants. The joinder of indispensable parties is mandatory. The presence of indispensable parties is necessary to vest the court with jurisdiction, which is "the authority to hear and determine a cause, the right to act in a case." Thus, without the presence of indispensable parties to a suit or proceeding, judgment of a court cannot attain real finality. The absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as to those present.6
In the case at bar, Robles is an indispensable party. He stands to be injured or benefited by the outcome of the petition. He has an interest in the controversy that a final decree would necessarily affect his rights, such that the courts cannot proceed without his presence.7 Moreover, as provided for under the aforequoted Section 5, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, Robles is interested in sustaining the assailed CA Decision, considering that he would benefit from such judgment. As such, his non-inclusion would render the petition for certiorari defective.8
Petitioner, thus, committed a mistake in failing to implead Robles as respondent.
The rule is settled that the non-joinder of indispensable parties is not a ground for the dismissal of an action.9 The remedy is to implead the non-party claimed to be indispensable.10 Parties may be added by order of the court on motion of the party or on its own initiative at any stage of the action and/or at such times as are just.11 If petitioner refuses to implead an indispensable party despite the order of the court, the latter may dismiss the complaint/petition for the plaintiff’s/petitioner's failure to comply therewith.12
Based on the foregoing, and in the interest of fair play, the Court finds it proper to set aside its decision and allow Robles to file his comment on the petition.1avvphi1
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated December 4, 2009 is SET ASIDE. Petitioner is ORDERED to furnish Robles a copy of his petition for certiorari within a period of five (5) days from receipt of this Resolution. Thereafter, Robles is DIRECTED to file his comment on the petition within a period of ten (10) days from notice.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
RENATO C. CORONA
|PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
|ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
RENATO C. CORONA
1 Rollo, pp. 273-274.
2 Id. at 228-231.
3 Id. at 198-200.
4 Emphasis supplied.
5 G.R. No. 166302, July 28, 2005, 464 SCRA, 591.
6 Id. at 595-596.
7 Tay Chun Suy v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 91004-05, August 20, 1992, 212 SCRA 713, 719.
8 Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium Vol. I (Sixth Revised Edition), p. 724, citing Amargo v. Court of Appeals, 53 SCRA 64, 75 (1973).
9 Plasabas v. CA, G.R. No. 166519, March 31, 2009, 582 SCRA 686, 692; 692; Nocom v. Camerino, G.R. No. 182984, February 10, 2009, 578 SCRA 390, 413; Macababbad, Jr. v. Masirag, G.R. No. 161237, January 14, 2009, 576 SCRA 70, 88; Pepsico, Inc. v. Emerald Pizza, Inc., G.R. No. 153059, August 14, 2007, 530 SCRA 58, 67; Pamplona Plantation Co., Inc. v. Tinghil, G.R. No. 159121, February 3, 2005, 450 SCRA 421, 433.
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