G.R. No L-6205. September 28, 1954

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95 Phil. 848

[ G.R. No L-6205. September 28, 1954 ]




This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus to set aside and
annul a decision rendered by the Court of First Instance of Manila in
Civil Case No. 13306 thereof, entitled “Serenidad V. Surio and Maximo
Villacorta vs. Dionisia Cañaveral and Rufino Bautista”, as well as an
order of said court denying a reconsideration of said decision, and to
compel said court to remand the case to the Municipal Court of Manila
“for further proceedings in accordance with section 10, Rule 40, of the
Rules of Court.”

It appears that on April 19, 1949, Dionisia Cañaveral executed, with
the consent of her husband, Rufino Bautista, an instrument, entitled
“Deed of Pacto de Retro Sale,” conveying, to Serenidad Surio, married
to Maximo Villacorta, “two parcels of land with the building and
improvements thereon, situated at 1403 Basilio, Sampaloc, Manila” and
more particularly described in said document, subject to redemption
within 12 months and to the right of the vendor to “continue occupying
the premises in the capacity of a lessee at a monthly rent of P40
within a period of one year.” On November 4, 1950, the Villacortas
instituted in the Municipal Court of Manila Civil Case No. 13621,
against the Bautistas, for illegal detainer. In the complaint therein
filed, the Villacortas alleged that they are owners of the property
above referred to, by virtue of said “Deed of Pacto de Retro Sale,” and
that the Bautistas refuse to vacate said property despite their failure
to pay the agreed monthly rental and the repeated demands made by the
Villacortas. Subsequently thereto, or on December 19, 1950, the
Bautistas commenced Civil Case No. 12803 of the Court of First Instance
of Manila, against the Villacortas, for a declaration, among other
things’, that the deed already adverted to does not express the true
intent of the parties thereto, which was alleged to be only to make a
“contract of loan with security.” This pretense was reiterated by the
Bautistas in their answer in the ejectment case, in which pleading
they, likewise, alleged the pendency of said Civil Case No. 12803 of
the Court of First Instance of Manila. In said answer, the Bautistas,
also, contested the alleged right of the Villacortas to the possession
of the property in dispute, upon the ground that the same belongs to
the former and that the true intent of the parties to the
aforementioned deed was merely to constitute a mortgage. After due
trial, the municipal court issued an order, dated February 2, 1951,

“Considering that according to the evidence adduced
by the parties in this case, the main issue that is raised before the
Court is the question of ownership; and considering that the question
of possession cannot be decided in this instant without first deciding
the question of ownership, the Court finds it has no jurisdiction to
proceed further.

Wherefore, this case is hereby dismissed. Without pronouncement as to costs.” (Record p. 29.)

The Villacortas appealed from this order to the Court of First
Instance, where the case was docketed as Civil Case No. 13306 and the
Bautistas reproduced the answer filed by them in the municipal court.
In due course the court of first instance then presided over by Hon.
Demetrio Encarnacion, Judge, thereafter rendered a decision, dated
February 20, 1952, the dispositive part of which is as follows:

“Por todo lo expuesto, encontrando el Juzgado bleu
fundada la demanda, con gran preponderancia de pruebas a favor de loa
demandantes, se dicta sentencia condenando a los demandados a pagar a
dichos demandantes los alquileres arriba reclamados, de P240 acumulados
desde Abril 19, 1949 hasta Octubre 19, 1950, mas P40 men suales desde
esta f ecba hasta que se vaquen las propiedades en cuestion y se
entreguen a los demandantes.

Quedan ordenados los demandados
a desalojar las propiedades en cuestion y a pagar las costas del juicio
de ambas instancias.” (Record, p. 59.) ‘

A reconsideration of this decision hating been denied, the Bautistas
filed the petition for certiorari and mandamus now under consideration.
They claim that the court of first instance had no appellate
jurisdiction to decide the case on the merits, because the municipal
court had no jurisdiction to entertain the same, the issue of
possession involved therein being dependent upon the question of title
to the immovable property in litigation, which was raised in their
answer. This pretense was not sustained by respondent judge, upon the
ground that “la defensa de los demandados, de que el convenio era una
simple hipoteca entre ellos, * * * es inmaterial en la presente causa,
habiendo habido un convenio formal de pagar los alquileres a los
demandantes.” However, if, as contended by the Bautistas, the parties
to the deed above referred to merely intended to constitute a mortgage,
not to make a conditional sale, with a contract of lease, as said
instrument purports to be, then the stipulation contained therein
relative to said lease and to the payment of rentals must have been
devised solely for the purpose of cloaking the payment of interest.
Hence, said defense was very material to the rights of possession,
which is the gist of the case.

Respondent Judge, likewise, held that said defense of the
petitioners herein is barred by the fact that Civil Case No. 12803 of
the Court of First Instance of Manila—in which the Bautistas sought a
declarator that the contract in question was not a conditional sale,
but a loan guaranteed by a mortgage—was dismissed on August 15, 1951,
for failure of the Bautistas to appear in the date set for the hearing
thereof. This conclusion is well taken for the order of dismissal was
unqualified and, hence, it constituted “an adjudication upon the
merits,” and, a final determination adverse to the aforesaid pretense
of the Bautistas, as plaintiffs in said case No. 12803 and as
defendants in case No. 13306 (section 4, Rule 30, Rules of Court).

Although the Court of First Instance had no appellate jurisdiction to decide the ejectment case on the merits, inasmuch as the municipal court had no original
jurisdiction over said case, in view of the question of title to real
property, upon which the right of possession was dependent (Pedro
Teodoro vs. Agapito Balatbat et al.[*] G. R.
No. L-6314, decided on January 22, 1954) said court of first instance
had original jurisdiction to pass upon such issue. What is more, it did
exercise its original jurisdiction without any objection on the part of
the Bautistas. Indeed, in their motion for reconsideration dated March
1, 1952, the latter merely assailed the accuracy of the
findings of the court of first instance on the merits of the case, thus
clearly accepting and, even, invoking the jurisdiction of the court to
pass upon the same. The Bautistas did not question said jurisdiction
until March 12, 1952, when they filed a pleading entitled “additional
ground for the reconsideration of the decision of the Court”, alleging,
for the first time, that the “Court had no jurisdiction to
try the case on the merits”. It was, however, too late to raise this
issue, for the court had original jurisdiction over the case
and had exercised it with the implied consent of the Bautistas (Amor
vs. Gonzales, 42 Off. Gaz., [No. 12] p. 3203, 76 Phil., 481; Zapanta
vs. Bartolome, et al., CA-G. R. No. 2592, April 27, 1949, 46 Off. Gaz.
[11] 5447). As provided in section li; Rule 40, of the Rules of Court:

“A case tried by an inferior court without
jurisdiction over the subject-matter shall be dismissed on appeal by
the Court of First Instance. But instead of dismissing the case, the
Court of First Instance in the exercise of its original jurisdiction,
may try the case on the merits if the parties therein file their
pleadings and go to the trial without any objection to such

In view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby denied and the case dismissed, with costs against the petitioners.

Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo and Reyes, J.B.L., JJ., concur.

[*] 94 Phil., 247.

Date created: July 28, 2017


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