G.R. No. L-49396. January 15, 1988 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
Juan A. Gochangco, et al. vs. The Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, et al.

### Facts:
– The case originated from an unlawful detainer action filed by C.N. Hodges in the City Court of Bacolod to eject tenants from his land in Bacolod City, including Sy Ho and Milagros Minoria.
– Some defendants voluntarily vacated; Hodges died during the suit, and the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB) was substituted as the plaintiff.
– PCIB secured an order declaring Sy Ho in default for not answering the complaint. Despite Ho’s opposition, the order of default was upheld.
– Gochangco acquired the property from Hodges’ estate and was substituted as the plaintiff. He demanded Ho and Minoria vacate the property and achieved a judgment against them.
– Sy Ho and Minoria filed numerous motions, including attempts to set aside the order of default and to dismiss the complaint, all denied by the City Court.
– Gochangco successfully moved for execution pending appeal. Sy Ho and Minoria then filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Negros Occidental, arguing abuse of discretion on the City Court’s part.
– The CFI granted their writ, nullifying all proceedings in the City Court on grounds of improper service of summons to Sy Ho and irregular reception of evidence.

### Issues:
1. Was Sy Ho properly served with summons?
2. Was the declaration of default against Sy Ho valid?
3. Was Gochangco’s substitution as plaintiff appropriate?
4. Was the judgment on the pleadings against Minoria proper?
5. Was the order authorizing execution pending appeal appropriate?
6. Was the CFI correct in its decision to grant the writ of certiorari based on issues of service and evidence reception?

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court reversed the CFI’s decision and reinstated the City Court’s judgment. It found that:
1. The alleged defect in the service of summons on Sy Ho was inconsequential as subsequent events showed Sy Ho had submitted to the City Court’s jurisdiction.
2. Sy Ho’s default was valid as he failed to respond timely to the complaint, and his motions failed to show valid reasons to set aside the default.
3. Gochangco’s substitution as plaintiff was proper as he had acquired the property and had an interest in the action’s outcome.
4. Judgment on the pleadings against Minoria was correct since her answer did not tender any genuine issue.
5. The execution pending appeal was justified under the rules.
6. The reception of evidence ex parte was a misinterpretation by the CFI; such proceedings are common and the clerk of court can receive evidence under direction.

### Doctrine:
The Supreme Court reiterated principles regarding service of summons, default judgment, substitution of parties, judgment on the pleadings, and execution pending appeal in ejectment cases. It underscored that subsequent voluntary appearance in court proceedings demonstrates submission to jurisdiction, negating claims of improper service.

### Class Notes:
– **Service of Summons:** Sufficient if served at defendant’s regular place of business with a person in charge; voluntary appearance cures defects.
– **Default Judgment:** Valid when the defendant fails to answer the complaint within prescribed periods; can be set aside for fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence.
– **Substitution of Parties:** Allowed and proper when a party acquires an interest in the subject of the action.
– **Judgment on the Pleadings:** Appropriate when the answer fails to raise an issue or admits material allegations.
– **Execution Pending Appeal:** Permitted in ejectment cases unless specific steps are taken to stay execution.
– **Evidence Reception:** Ex parte presentation of evidence to a clerk of court does not invalidate proceedings; ultimate judgment responsibility lies with the judge.

### Historical Background:
This case touches on procedural intricacies in Philippine ejectment law, demonstrating the judiciary’s views on default, service of summons, and execution pending appeal within the context of real estate disputes. It also illustrates the procedural steps involved in substituting parties after the original claimant’s demise and subsequent sale of contested property, reflecting on the legal framework governing real property transactions and litigations in the Philippines.


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