Republic of the Philippines
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,††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
- versus -
JAIME M. ROBLES, ††††††††† ††††††††††††
G.R. No. 182645
†† CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,
† †VELASCO, JR.,
†† MENDOZA, and
†† PEREZ,* JJ.
†††† June 22, 2011
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
†††††††† On December 15, 2010, this Court promulgated a Resolution which set aside its Decision earlier issued on December 4, 2009 on the ground that herein petitioner, Rene B. Pascual failed to implead herein respondent Jaime M. Robles, who is an indispensable party to the present case.
†††††††† Again, the Court finds it apropros to restate the pertinent antecedent facts and proceedings as set forth in the December 4, 2009 Decision as well as in the December 15, 2010 Resolution, 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 [Regional Trial Court] 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, Jaime 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.†††
†††††††††††††††††† 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 [Court of Appeals (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.
†††††††† Petitioner posits the following reasons relied upon for the allowance of his petition:
††††††††††††††††††††††† THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS' DECISION DATED APRIL 16, 2002 WAS ISSUED IN GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION, HENCE, A PATENT NULLITY.
††††††††††††††††††††††† THE ORDER DATED FEBRUARY 21, 2007 ISSUED BY THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 34, IRIGA CITY, BASED ON THE COURT OF APPEALS' APRIL 16, 2002 DECISION WAS ISSUED IN GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION, HENCE, A PATENT NULLITY.
††††††††††††††††††††††† THE AFOREMENTIONED COURT OF APPEALS' APRIL 16, 2002 DECISION AND FEBRUARY 21, 2007 ORDER OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 34, IRIGA CITY, WERE NULL AND VOID AB INITIO AS THEY CONTRAVENED, INCONSISTENT WITH AND CONTRADICTORY TO THE FINAL AND EXECUTORY DECISIONS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT, WHICH IS IN GROSS VIOLATION OF THE RULE THAT ALL COURTS SHOULD TAKE THEIR BEARINGS FROM THE SUPREME COURT.
†††††††† The Court finds that there are compelling reasons to dismiss the present petition, as discussed below.
†††††††† First, petitioner has no personality to file the instant petition. The requirement of personality is sanctioned by Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which essentially provides that a person aggrieved by any act of a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction may file a petition for certiorari.
†††††††† This Court has held that:
††††††††††††††††††††††† An aggrieved party under Section 1, Rule 65 [of the Rules of Court] is one who was a party to the original proceedings that gave rise to the original action for certiorari under Rule 65. †x x x.
†††††††††† Although Section 1 of Rule 65 provides that the special civil action of certiorari may be availed of by a "person aggrieved" by the orders or decisions of a tribunal, the term "person aggrieved" is not to be construed to mean that any person who feels injured by the lower courtís order or decision can question the said courtís disposition via certiorari. †To sanction a contrary interpretation would open the floodgates to numerous and endless litigations which would undeniably lead to the clogging of court dockets and, more importantly, the harassment of the party who prevailed in the lower court.
†††††††††† In a situation wherein the order or decision being questioned underwent adversarial proceedings before a trial court, the "person aggrieved" referred to under Section 1 of Rule 65 who can avail of the special civil action of certiorari pertains to one who was a party in the proceedings before the lower court. The correctness of this interpretation can be gleaned from the fact that a special civil action for certiorari may be dismissed motu proprio if the party elevating the case failed to file a motion for reconsideration of the questioned order or decision before the lower court. Obviously, only one who was a party in the case before the lower court can file a motion for reconsideration since a stranger to the litigation would not have the legal standing to interfere in the orders or decisions of the said court. In relation to this, if a non-party in the proceedings before the lower court has no standing to file a motion for reconsideration, logic would lead us to the conclusion that he would likewise have no standing to question the said order or decision before the appellate court via certiorari.
Thus, a person not a party to the proceedings in the trial court or in the CA cannot maintain an action for certiorari in the Supreme Court to have the judgment reviewed. Stated differently, if a petition for certiorari or prohibition is filed by one who was not a party in the lower court, he has no standing to question the assailed order.
†††††††† In the present case, petitioner was never a party to the proceedings in the RTC and the CA.† In fact, he admits that he is a third party insofar as the instant case is concerned. There is no dispute that it was only in January 2005 that he acquired interest in a portion of the properties subject of the estate proceedings when he bought a real property located in San Fernando, Pampanga, which belonged to the Rodriguez estate.† Petitioner claims that he filed the instant petition for certiorari only after learning of the assailed Decision of the CA and the Order of the RTC on March 13, 2008, implying that he could not have intervened earlier.† This, however, is not an excuse or justification to allow petitioner to file the instant petition.† To do so would put into the hands of the litigants in a case the power to resurrect or to introduce anew, with the assistance of intervenors, issues to a litigation which have already been long settled on appeal.
†††††††† Indeed, petitioner may not be allowed to intervene at this late a stage.† Section 2, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court clearly provides that a motion to intervene may be filed at any time before rendition of judgment by the trial court.
†††††††† In The Learning Child, Inc. v. Ayala Alabang Village Association, this Court's disquisition on the significance of the abovementioned Section is instructive, to wit:
†††††††††††††††††† This section is derived from the former Section 2, Rule 12, which then provided that the motion to intervene may be filed "before or during a trial." Said former phraseology gave rise to ambiguous doctrines on the interpretation of the word "trial," with one decision holding that said Motion may be filed up to the day the case is submitted for decision, while another stating that it may be filed at any time before the rendition of the final judgment. This ambiguity was eliminated by the present Section 2, Rule 19 by clearly stating that the same may be filed "at any time before rendition of the judgment by the trial court," in line with the second doctrine above-stated. The clear import of the amended provision is that intervention cannot be allowed when the trial court has already rendered its Decision, and much less, as in the case at bar, when even the Court of Appeals had rendered its own Decision on appeal.
†††††††† In his book on remedial law, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Florenz D. Regalado explained the rationale behind the amendments introduced in Section 2, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court as follows:
††††††††††††††††††††††† The justification advanced for this is that before judgment is rendered, the court for good cause shown, may still allow the introduction of additional evidence and that is still within a liberal interpretation of the period for trial. Also, since no judgment has yet been rendered, the matter subject of the intervention may still be readily resolved and integrated in the judgment disposing of all claims in the case, and would not require an overall reassessment of said claims as would be the case if the judgment had already been rendered.
†††††††† It is also worthy to note that the disputed Decision was promulgated way back on April 16, 2002. †The respondents in the said case, namely, Henry Rodriguez, Certeza Rodriguez and Rosalina Pellosis, did not appeal. Herein respondent, on the other hand, who was the petitioner in the case, filed a petition for review on certiorari with this Court assailing a portion of the CA Decision. †However, the petition was denied via a Resolution issued by the Court dated August 1, 2005, and that the same had become final and executory on November 10, 2005. †Hence, by the time herein petitioner filed the instant petition on the sole basis that he acquired an interest in a portion of the disputed estate, the assailed CA Decision had long become final and executory.
†††††††† In Mocorro, Jr. v. Ramirez, this Court reiterated the long-standing rule governing finality of judgments, to wit:
decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable. This
quality of immutability precludes the modification of a final judgment, even if
the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law. †And this postulate holds true whether the
modification is made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court in
the land. The orderly administration of justice requires that, at the risk of
occasional errors, the judgments/resolutions of a court must reach a point of
finality set by the law.† The noble
purpose is to write finis to dispute
once and for all. This is a fundamental principle in our justice system,
without which there would be no end to litigations. x x x
††††††††††††††††††††††† The only exceptions to the rule on the immutability of final judgments are (1) the correction of clerical errors, (2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, and (3) void judgments. x x x
†††††††† Unlike the August 13, 1999 Amended Decision of the RTC, Iriga City, Branch 34, which was found by the CA to be a complete nullity, there is no showing that the instant case falls under any of the exceptions enumerated above.
†††††††† Considering the foregoing, the Court no longer finds it necessary to address the issues raised by petitioner.
†††††††† WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
†††††††† SO ORDERED.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Associate Justice
RENATO C. CORONA
†††††† PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.††††††† ††††††††††††JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA†††
† ††††††††††Associate Justice†††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††† †††††††††Associate Justice
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
†††††††† Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courtís Division.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RENATO C. CORONA
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† †††††††††† Chief Justice†
* †††††††††††† Designated as an additional member per Special Order No. 1008 dated June 10, 2011.
††††††††††††† Rollo, pp. 422-431.
††††††††††††† Id. at 193-213.
††††††††††††† Id. at 656-701.
††††††††††††† Id. at 705-711.
 †††††††††††† Id. at 228-231.
 †††††††††††† Id. at 425-426.
 †††††††††††† Id. at 12-13.
††††††††††††† The complete text of Section 1, Rule 65 reads as follows:
††††††††††††††† Section 1. Petition for certiorari.Ė When any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of its or his jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer, and granting such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require.
††††††††††††††† The petition shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of the judgment, order or resolution subject thereof, copies of all pleadings and documents relevant and pertinent thereto, and a sworn certification of non-forum shopping as provided in the third paragraph of section 3, Rule 46.
††††††††††††† Concepcion, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 178624, June 30, 2009, 591 SCRA 420, 434-435, citing Tang v. Court of Appeals, 382 Phil. 277, 287-288 (2000). (Emphasis supplied.)
†††††††††††† Government Service Insurance System v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos.† 183905 and 184275, April 16, 2009, 585 SCRA 679, 697; Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Vol. I, Sixth Revised Edition, p.† 724, citing Ramos v. Lampa, 63 Phil. 215 (1936).
†††††††††††† Macias v. Lim, G.R. No. 139284, June 4, 2004, 431 SCRA 20, 36.
†††††††††††† G.R. No.† 134269, July 7, 2010, 624 SCRA 258.
†††††††††††† Id. at 280.
†††††††††††† Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Vol. I, Sixth Revised Edition, p. 293.
†††††††††††† G.R. No. 178366, July 28, 2008, 560 SCRA 362.
†††††††††††† Id. at 372-373.