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1 Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT ManilaTHIRD DIVISION G.R. No.

102858 July 28, 1997 promulgated on July 3, 1991 and the subsequent Resolution 2 promulgated onNovember 19, 1991 by Respondent Court of Appeals 3 THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner,vs. COURT OF APPEALS and TEODORO ABISTADO, substituted by MARGARITA, MARISSA, MARIBEL, ARNOLD andMARY ANN, all surnamed ABISTO, respondents. PANGANIBAN, J.: Is newspaper publication of the notice of initial hearing in an original land registration case mandatory or directory? Statement of the Case The Court of Appeals ruled that it was merely procedural and that the failure to cause such publication did notdeprive the trial court of its authority to grant the application. But the Solicitor General disagreed and thus filed thispetition to set aside the Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 23719. The dispositive portion of thechallenged Decision reads: 4 WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment of dismissal appealed from is hereby set aside, and a newone entered confirming the registration and title of applicant, Teodoro Abistado, Filipino, a resident of Barangay 7, Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, now deceased and substituted by Margarita,Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado, represented by their aunt, Miss JosefaAbistado, Filipinos, residents of Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to the parcel of land coveredunder MSI (IV-A-8) 315-D located in Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.The oppositions filed by the Republic of the Philippines and private oppositor are hereby dismissed for wantof evidence.Upon the finality of this decision and payment of the corresponding taxes due on this land, let an order forthe issuance of a decree be issued. T

he Facts On December 8, 1986, Private Respondent Teodoro Abistado filed a petition for original registration of his title over648 square meters of land under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1529. 5 The application was docketed as LandRegistration Case (LRC) No. 86 and assigned to Branch 44 of the Regional Trial Court of Mamburao, OccidentalMindoro. 6 However, during the pendency of his petition, applicant died. Hence, his heirs Margarita, Marissa,Maribel, Arnold and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado represented by their aunt Josefa Abistado, who wasappointed their guardian ad litem , were substituted as applicants.The land registration court in its decision dated June 13, 1989 dismissed the petition "for want of jurisdiction."However, it found that the applicants through their predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous,exclusive and peaceful possession of the subject land since 1938.In dismissing the petition, the trial court reasoned: 7 . . . However, the Court noted that applicants failed to comply with the provisions of Section 23 (1) of PD1529, requiring the

Applicants to publish the notice of Initial Hearing (Exh. "E") in a newspaper of generalcirculation in the Philippines. Exhibit "E" was only published in the Official Gazette (Exhibits "F" and "G").Consequently, the Court is of the well considered view that it has not legally acquired jurisdiction over the

instant application for want of compliance with the mandatory provision requiring publication of the noticeof initial hearing in a newspaper of general circulation.The trial court also cited Ministry of Justice Opinion No. 48, Series of 1982, which in its pertinent portion provides: 8 It bears emphasis that the publication requirement under Section 23 [of PD 1529] has a two-fold purpose;the first, which is mentioned in the provision of the aforequoted provision refers to publication in theOfficial Gazette, and is jurisdictional; while the second, which is mentioned in the opening clause of thesame paragraph, refers to publication not only in the Official Gazette but also in a newspaper of generalcirculation, and is procedural. Neither one nor the other is dispensable. As to the first, publication in theOfficial Gazette is indispensably necessary because without it, the court would be powerless to assume jurisdiction over a particular land registration case. As to the second, publication of the notice of initialhearing also in a newspaper of general circulation is indispensably necessary as a requirement of procedural due process; otherwise, any decision that the court may promulgate in the case would be

legallyinfirm.Unsatisfied, private respondents appealed to Respondent Court of Appeals which, as earlier explained, set aside thedecision of the trial court and ordered the registration of the title in the name of Teodoro Abistado.The subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied in the challenged CA Resolution dared November 19, 1991.The Director of Lands represented by the Solicitor General thus elevated this recourse to us. This Court notes thatthe petitioner's counsel anchored his petition on Rule 65. This is an error. His remedy should be based on Rule 45because he is appealing a final disposition of the Court of Appeals. Hence, we shall treat his petition as one forreview under Rule 45, and not for certiorari under Rule 65. 9

LRC Case No. 86 for want of such publication.Petitioner points out that under Section 23 of PD 1529, the notice of initial hearing shall be "published b oth in theOfficial Gazette and in a newspaper of general circulation." According to petitioner, publication in the OfficialGazette is "necessary to confer jurisdiction upon the trial court, and . . . in . . . a newspaper of general circulation tocomply with the notice requirement of due process." 11 Private respondents, on the other hand, contend that failure to comply with the requirement of publication in anewspaper of general circulation is a mere "procedural defect." They add that publication in the Official Gazette issufficient to confer jurisdiction. 12 In reversing the decision of the trial court, Respondent Court of Appeals ruled: 13 . . . although the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette

T he Issue Petitioner alleges that Respondent Court of Appeals committed "grave abuse of discretion" 10 in holding . . . that publication of the petition for

registration of title in LRC Case No. 86 need not be published in anewspaper of general circulation, and in not dismissing

and in a newspaper of generalcirculation is couched in mandatory terms, it cannot be gainsaid that the law also mandates with equalforce that publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court.Further, Respondent Court found that the oppositors were afforded the opportunity "to explain matters fully andpresent their side." Thus, it justified its disposition in this wise: 14 . . . We do not see how the lack of compliance with the required procedure prejudiced them in any way.Moreover, the other requirements of: publication in the Official Gazette, personal notice by mailing, andposting at the site and other conspicuous places, were complied with and these are sufficient to notify anyparty who is minded to make any objection of the application for registration. T he Court's Ruling We find for petitioner.

Notice of initial hearing, pu b lication, et c. The court shall, within five days from filing of

theapplication, issue an order setting the date and hour of the initial hearing which shall not be earlier thanforty-five days nor later than ninety days from the date of the order.The public shall be given notice of initial hearing of the application for land registration by means of (1)publication; (2) mailing; and (3) posting.1. By pu b lication . Upon receipt of the order of the court setting the time for initial hearing, the Commissioner of LandRegistration shall cause a notice of initial hearing to be published once in the Official Gazette and once in anewspaper of general circulation in the Philippines: Provided, however

Newspaper Publication Mandatory , that the publication in the OfficialGazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court. Said notice shall be addressed to all personsappearing to have an interest in the land involved including the adjoining owners so far as known, and "toall whom it may concern." Said notice shall also require all persons concerned to appear in court at acertain date and

The pertinent part of Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 requiring publication of the notice of initial hearingreads as follows:Sec. 23.

time to show cause why the prayer of said application shall not be granted.xxx xxx xxxAdmittedly, the above provision provides in clear and categorical terms that publication in the Official Gazettesuffices to confer jurisdiction upon the land registration court. However, the question boils down to whether,absent any publication in a newspaper of general circulation, the land registration court can validly confirm andregister the title of private respondents.We answer this query in the negative. This answer is impelled by the demands of statutory construction and thedue process rationale behind the publication requirement.The law used the term "shall" in prescribing the work to be done by the Commissioner of Land Registration uponthe latter's receipt of the court order setting the time for initial hearing. The said word denotes an imperative andthus indicates the mandatory character of a statute. 15

. Marasigan , 16 the Court through Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. held that Section 23 of PD 1529 requires notice of the initialhearing by means of (1) publication, (2) mailing and (3) posting, all of which must be complied with. "If the intentionof the law were otherwise, said section would not have stressed in detail the requirements of mailing of notices toall persons named in the petition who, per Section 15 of the Decree, include owners of adjoining properties, andoccupants of the land." Indeed, if mailing of notices is essential, then by parity of reasoning, publication in anewspaper of general circulation is likewise imperative since the law included such requirement in its detailedprovision.It should be noted further that land registration is a proceeding in rem .

While concededly such literal mandate is not an absoluterule in statutory construction, as its import ultimately depends upon its context in the entire provision, we hold thatin the present case the term must be understood in its normal mandatory meaning. In Repu b lic vs


Being in rem

, such proceeding requiresconstructive seizure of the land as against all persons, including the state, who have rights to or interests in theproperty. An in rem proceeding is validated essentially through publication. This being so, the process must strictlybe complied with. Otherwise, persons who may be interested or whose rights may be adversely affected would bebarred from contesting an application which they had no knowledge of. As has been ruled, a party as an ownerseeking the inscription of realty in the land registration court must prove by satisfactory and conclusive evidencenot only his ownership thereof but the identity of the same, for he is in the same situation as one who institutes anaction for recovery of realty. 18 He must prove his title against the whole world. This task, which rests upon theapplicant, can best be achieved when all persons concerned nay, "the whole world" who have rights to orinterests in the subject property are notified and effectively invited to come to court and show cause why theapplication should not be granted. The elementary norms of due process require that before the claimed propertyis taken from concerned parties and registered in the name of the applicant, said parties must be given notice

andopportunity to oppose.It may be asked why publication in a newspaper of general circulation should be deemed mandatory when the lawalready requires notice by publication in the Official Gazette as well as by mailing and posting, all of which havealready been complied with in the case at hand. The reason is due process and the reality that the Official Gazette isnot as widely read and circulated as newspapers and is oftentimes delayed in its circulation, such that the noticespublished therein may not reach the interested parties on time, if at all. Additionally, such parties may not beowners of neighboring properties, and may in fact not own any other real estate. In sum, the all-encompassing Inrem nature of land registration cases, the consequences of default orders issued against the whole world and theobjective of disseminating the notice in as wide a manner as possible demand a mandatory construction of therequirements for publication, mailing and posting.Admittedly, there was failure to comply with the explicit publication requirement of the law. Private respondentsdid not proffer any excuse; even if they had, it would not have mattered because the statute itself allows noexcuses. Ineludibly, this Court has no authority to dispense with such mandatory requirement. The law isunambiguous and its rationale clear. Time and again, this Court has declared that where the law speaks in clear andcategorical language, there is no room for interpretation, vacillation or equivocation; there is room only forapplication. 19

There is no alternative. Thus, the application for land registration filed by private respondents mustbe dismissed without prejudice to reapplication in the future, after all the legal requisites shall have been dulycomplied with.WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and Resolution are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Theapplication of private respondent for land registration is DISMISSED without prejudice. No costs.SO ORDERED.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT ManilaSECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 84240 March 25, 1992

PARAS, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari which seeks to reverse and set aside: (a) the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 dated April 29, 1988 in CA-G.R. SP. No. 14010 entitled "Olivia S. Pascual and Hermes S. Pascual v.Esperanza C. PascualBautista, Manuel C. Pascual, Jose Pascual, Susana C. PascualBautista, Erlinda C. Pascual,Wenceslao C. Pascual, Jr., et al." which dismissed the petition and in effect affirmed the decision of the trial courtand (b) the resolution dated July 14, 1988 denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration.The undisputed facts of the case are as follows:Petitioners Olivia and Hermes both surnamed Pascual are the acknowledged natural children of the late EligioPascual, the latter being the full blood brother of the decedent Don Andres Pascual ( Rollo , petition, p. 17).Don Andres Pascual died intestate on October 12, 1973 without any issue, legitimate, acknowledged natural,adopted or spurious children and was survived by the following:(a) Adela Soldevilla de Pascual, surviving spouses;(b) Children of Wenceslao Pascual, Sr., a brother of the full blood


of the deceased, to wit:Esperanza C. Pascual-BautistaManuel C. PascualJose C. PascualSusana C. Pascual-Bautista

and Hermes Pascual, are among the heirs of DonAndres Pascual ( Rollo

Erlinda C. PascualWenceslao C. Pascual, Jr.(c) Children of Pedro-Bautista, brother of the half blood of the deceased, to wit:Avelino PascualIsoceles PascualLoida PascualMartinezVirginia Pascual-NerNona Pascual-FernandoOctavio PascualGeranaia Pascual-Dubert;(d) Acknowledged natural children of Eligio Pascual, brother of the full blood of the deceased, towit:Olivia S. PascualHermes S. Pascual(e) Intestate of Eleuterio T. Pascual, a brother of the half blood of the deceased and represented bythe following:Dominga M. PascualMamerta P. FugosoAbraham S. Sarmiento, IIIRegina Sarmiento-MacaibayEleuterio P. SarmientoDomiga P. San DiegoNelia P. MarquezSilvestre M. PascualEleuterio M. Pascual( Rollo , pp. 46-47)Adela Soldevilla de Pascual, the surviving spouse of the late Don Andres Pascual, filed with the Regional Trial Court(RTC), Branch 162 (CFI of Rizal, Br. XXIII), a Special Proceeding, Case No. 7554, for administration of the intestateestate of her late husband ( Rollo , p. 47).On December 18, 1973, Adela soldevilla de Pascual filed a Supplemental Petition to the Petition for letters of Administration, where she expressly stated that Olivia Pascual

, pp. 99-101).On February 27, 1974, again Adela Soldevilla de Pascual executed an affidavit, to the effect that of her ownknowledge, Eligio Pascual is the younger full blood brother of her late husband Digest: People v. Mapa (GR L-22301, 30 August 1967) Posted by Berne Guerrero under (a) oas , digests People v. Mapa GR L-22301, 30 August 1967 (20 SCRA 1164)En Banc, Fernando (p): 9 concur Facts: Mario M. Mapa was charged for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition in an information dated 14August 1962 in violation of Section 878 of the Revise Administrative Code in connection with Section 2692 of theRevised Administrative Code, as amended by CA 56 and as further amended by RA 4. Accused admits to possessionof firearm on ground of being a secret agent of Governor Feliciano Leviste of Batangas. On 27 November 1963, thelower court rendered a decision convicting the accused of the crime and sentenced him to imprisonment for oneyear and one day to two years. As the appeal involves a question of law, it was elevated to the Supreme Court.

Issue: Whether or not a secret agent duly appointed and qualified as such of the governor is exempt from therequirement of having a license of firearm

PEOPLE VS. MARIO MAPA Y MAPULONGG.R. NO. L-22301, AUGUST 30, 1967FACT:Defendant Mario Mapa Y Mapulong was charged and convicted of the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition by the Court of the First Instance of Manila. That on or about August 13, 1962, the saidaccused did and then wilfully and unlawfully have in his possession and under his custody and control one home-made revolver, without a serial number, with six (6) rounds of ammunition, without first having secured thenecessary license or permit therefor from the corresponding authorities.The accused defended (with proper documentation) that he is duly appointed is duly appointed secret agentof then Governor of Batangas dated June 2, 1962 and at the time of the alleged commission of the offense, he had aconfidential mission to proceed to Manila, Pasay and Quezon City.On November 27, 1963, the lower court convicted the accused of illegal possession of firearms andsentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from one year and one day to two years and to pay the costs.ISSUE:WON the appointment and holding of the position of a secret agent to the provincial governor wouldconstitute a sufficient defense to a prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.RULING:Sec. 878 as amended by Republic Act No.

4, Revised Administrative Code states that:"it shall be unlawful for any person to . . . possess any firearm, detached parts of firearms or ammunitiontherefor, or any instrument or implement used or intended to be used in the manufacture of firearms, parts of firearms, or ammunition.Sec. 879, Revised Administrative Code states:firearms and ammunition regularly and lawfully issued to officers, soldiers, sailors, or marines [of theArmed Forces of the Philippines], the Philippine Constabulary, guards in the employment of the Bureau of Prisons,municipal police, provincial governors, lieutenant governors, provincial treasurers, municipal treasurers, municipalmayors, and guards of provincial prisoners and jails," are not covered "when such firearms are in possession of suchofficials and public servants for use in the performance of their official duties."The law is clear that there is no exemption for a secret agent in the above mentioned provisions.Thus, the accused defense in the case of People v. Macarandang , where a secret agent was acquitted on theappeal on the assumption that the appointment of the accused as a secret agent to assist in the maintenance of peaceand order puts him under the category of a peace officer whos covered in the Sec. 879 of the RevisedAdministrative Code. It is not within the power of the Court to set aside the clear and explicit mandate of a statutory provision. To the extent therefor that this decision conflicts with what was held in People v. Macarandang

, it nolonger speaks with authority.Therefor, the judgment appealed from is affirmed

DURA LEX SED LEX People vs Patricio Amigo GR 116719Facts: Accused-Appellant Patricio Amigo was charged and convicted of murder by the regional trial court,Davao City and was sentenced to the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Issue: Whether or not that the penalty or reclusion perpetua is too cruel and harsh and pleads for sympathy. Held: The duty of court is to apply the law disregarding their feeling of sympathy or pity for the accused.

"Dura lex sed lex". People v. Suriaga, 381 SCRA 159 (2002)FACTS: Edwin Ramos was cleaning the car of hisolder brother, Johnny who was taking care of his 2-year old daughter, Nicole, playing inside the car. Suriaga, a cousin of the Ramos brothers, arrived. Hewas accompanied by hislive-in-partner Rosita. Suriaga requested Edwin if he could drive the car, butthe latter declined, saying he did nothave the keys. Meanwhile,

Johnny returned to his house becausea visitor arrived. At this instance, Rosita held Nicole and cajoled her. Rosita asked Edwin if she couldtake Nicole with her to buy barbeque. Having been acquainted with Rosita for a long time and becausehe trusted her, Edwin acceded. When Rosita and the childleft, Suriaga joined them. More than an onehour has passed but the two failed to return with Nicole. Edwin,Johnny and his wife, Mercedita, thenbegan searching but they could not find their daughter and Rosita. Nicoles grandfather then receivea call from Suriaga asking for ransom in the amount of P100,000.00. Johnny immediately reported thecall to the PACC Task Force. The next day,Suriaga called Mercedita, introduced himself and asked herif she and her husband would give the amount to which the latter responded inthe positive. Suriaga instructed Mercidita as to the how the money should be delivered to him with awarning that if she will not deliver the money,her daughter would be placed in a plastic bag or thrownina garbage can. Thereafter, with the cash money, and while being tailed by PACC agents, Mercidaproceeded to deliver the money to Suriaga. The PACC agents arrested Suriaga and his companionIsidera after Mercida gave the money to them. Prior thereto, Nicole was rescued in a shanty whereRositas sister lived. HELD: The essence of the crime of kidnapping is the actual deprivation of the victims liberty, coupledwithin dubitable proof of the accuseds intent to effect the same. And if the person detained is a child,the question that needs to be addressed is whether there is evidence to show that in taking

the child,there was deprivation of the childs liberty and that it was the intention of the accused to deprive themother of the childs custody. Undoubtedly, the elements of kidnapping forransomhave been sufficiently established by the prosecution considering the following circumstances:1) appellant, aprivate individual, took the young Nicole without personally seeking permission from herfather;


2) appellant took the girl and brought her to a shanty where Rositas sister lived, without informing herparents of their whereabouts;3) He detained the child and deprived her of her liberty by failing to return her to her parents overnightand the following day; and4) he demanded a ransom of P100,000.00 through telephone calls and gave instructions where andhow it should be delivered Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila

Castillo, Laman, Tan & Pantaleon for petitioner.

Gerardo S. Alansalon for private respondent.



For private respondent Imelda L. Salazar, it would seem that her close association with Delfin Saldivar would mean the loss of her job. In May 1982, private respondent was employed by Globe-Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation (GMCR) as general systems analyst. Also employed by petitioner as manager for technical operations' support was Delfin Saldivar with whom private respondent was allegedly very close. March 3, 1992

G.R. No. 82511

Sometime in 1984, petitioner GMCR, prompted by reports that company equipment and spare parts worth thousands of dollars under the custody of Saldivar were missing, caused the investigation of the latter's activities. The report dated September 25, 1984 prepared by the company's internal auditor, Mr. Agustin Maramara, indicated that Saldivar had entered into a partnership styled Concave Commercial and Industrial Company with Richard A. Yambao, owner and manager of Elecon Engineering Services (Elecon), a supplier of petitioner often recommended by Saldivar. The report also disclosed that Saldivar had taken petitioner's missing Fedders airconditioning unit for his own personal use without authorization and also connived with Yambao to defraud petitioner of its property. The airconditioner was recovered only after petitioner GMCR filed an action for replevin against Saldivar. 1

suspension for one (1) month, effective October 9, 1984, thus giving her thirty (30) days within which to, explain her side. But instead of submitting an explanations three (3) days later or on October 12, 1984 private respondent filed a complaint against petitioner for illegal suspension, which she subsequently amended to include illegal dismissal, vacation and sick leave benefits, 13th month pay and damages, after petitioner notified her in writing that effective November 8, 1984, she was considered dismissed "in view of (her) inability to refute and disprove these findings. 2

It likewise appeared in the course of Maramara's investigation that Imelda Salazar violated company reglations by involving herself in transactions conflicting with the company's interests. Evidence showed that she signed as a witness to the articles of partnership between Yambao and Saldivar. It also appeared that she had full knowledge of the loss and whereabouts of the Fedders airconditioner but failed to inform her employer.

After due hearing, the Labor Arbiter in a decision dated July 16, 1985, ordered petitioner company to reinstate private respondent to her former or equivalent position and to pay her full backwages and other benefits she would have received were it not for the illegal dismissal. Petitioner was also ordered to pay private respondent moral damages of P50,000.00. 3

On appeal, public respondent National Labor Relations, Commission in the questioned resolution dated December 29, 1987 affirmed the aforesaid decision with respect to the reinstatement of private respondent but limited the backwages to a period of two (2) years and deleted the award for moral damages. 4

Consequently, in a letter dated October 8, 1984, petitioner company placed private respondent Salazar under preventive

Hence, this petition assailing the Labor Tribunal for having committed grave abuse of discretion in holding that the suspension and subsequent dismissal of private respondent were illegal and in ordering her reinstatement with two (2) years' backwages.

suspended. If at all, the fault, lay with private respondent when she ignored petitioner's memorandum of October 8, 1984 "giving her ample opportunity to present (her) side to the Management." Instead, she went directly to the Labor Department and filed her complaint for illegal suspension without giving her employer a chance to evaluate her side of the controversy.

On the matter of preventive suspension, we find for petitioner GMCR. But while we agree with the propriety of Salazar's preventive suspension, we hold that her eventual separation from employment was not for cause.

The inestigative findings of Mr. Maramara, which pointed to Delfin Saldivar's acts in conflict with his position as technical operations manager, necessitated immediate and decisive action on any employee closely, associated with Saldivar. The suspension of Salazar was further impelled by th.e discovery of the missing Fedders airconditioning unit inside the apartment private respondent shared with Saldivar. Under such circumstances, preventive suspension was the proper remedial recourse available to the company pending Salazar's investigation. By itself, preventive suspension does, not signify that the company has adjudged the employee guilty of the charges she was asked to answer and explain. Such disciplinary measure is resorted to for the protection of the company's property pending investigation any alleged malfeasance or misfeasance committed by the employee. 5

What is the remedy in law to rectify an unlawful dismissal so as to "make whole" the victim who has not merely lost her job which, under settled Jurisprudence, is a property right of which a person is not to be deprived without due process, but also the compensation that should have accrued to her during the period when she was unemployed?

Art. 279 of the Labor Code, as amended, provides:

Thus, it is not correct to conclude that petitioner GMCR had violated Salazar's right to due process when she was promptly

Security of Tenure. In cases of regular employment, the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be

entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement. 6 (Emphasis supplied)

Corollary thereto are the following provisions of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code:

Constitutional Commission of 1986, it was not surprising that a whole new Article emerged on Social Justice and Human Rights designed, among other things, to "protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good." 8 Proof of the priority accorded to labor is that it leads the other areas of concern in the Article on Social Justice, viz., Labor ranks ahead of such topics as Agrarian and Natural Resources Reform, Urban Land Roform and Housing, Health, Women, Role and Rights of Poople's Organizations and Human Rights. 9

Sec. 2. Security of Tenure. In cases of regular employments, the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause as provided in the Labor Code or when authorized by existing laws.

The opening paragraphs on Labor states

Sec. 3. Reinstatement. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall by entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and to backwages." 7 (Emphasis supplied)

The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.

Before proceeding any furthers, it needs must be recalled that the present Constitution has gone further than the 1973 Charter in guaranteeing vital social and economic rights to marginalized groups of society, including labor. Given the propoor orientation of several articulate Commissioners of the

It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits is may be provided by law. 10 (Emphasis supplied)

Compare this with the sole.provision on Labor in the 1973 Constitution under the Article an Declaration of Principles and State Policies that provides:

that the same be incorporated in the Article on Social Justice and not just in the Article on Declaration of Principles and State Policies "in the light of the special importance that we are giving now to social justice and the necessity of emphasizing the scope and role of social justice in national development." 12

Sec. 9. The state shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment and equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race, or creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employers. The State shall ensure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective baegaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of work. The State may provide for compulsory arbitration. 11

To be sure, both Charters recognize "security of tenure" as one of the rights of labor which the State is mandated to protect. But there is no gainsaying the fact that the intent of the framers of the present Constitution was to give primacy to the rights of labor and afford the sector "full protection," at least greater protection than heretofore accorded them, regardless of the geographical location of the workers and whether they are organized or not.

If we have taken pains to delve into the background of the labor provisions in our Constitution and the Labor Code, it is but to stress that the right of an employee not to be dismissed from his job except for a just or authorized cause provided by law has assumed greater importance under the 1987 Constitution with the singular prominence labor enjoys under the article on Social Justice. And this transcendent policy has been translated into law in the Labor Code. Under its terms, where a case of unlawful or unauthorized dismissal has been proved by the aggrieved employee, or on the other hand, the employer whose duty it is to prove the lawfulness or justness of his act of dismissal has failed to do so, then the remedies provided in Article 279 should find, application. Consonant with this liberalized stance vis-a-vis labor, the legislature even went further by enacting Republic Act No. 6715 which took effect on March 2, 1989 that amended said Article to remove any possible ambiguity that jurisprudence may have generated which watered down the constitutional intent to grant to labor "full protection." 13

It was then CONCOM Commissioner, now Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., who substantially contributed to the present formulation of the protection to labor provision and proposed

To go back to the instant case, there being no evidence to show an authorized, much less a legal, cause for the dismissal of private respondent, she had every right, not only to be entitled to reinstatement, but ay well, to full backwages." 14

The intendment of the law in prescribing the twin remedies of reinstatement and payment of backwages is, in the former, to restore the dismissed employee to her status before she lost her job, for the dictionary meaning of the word "reinstate" is "to restore to a state, conditione positions etc. from which one had been removed" 15 and in the latter, to give her back the income lost during the period of unemployment. Both remedies, looking to the past, would perforce make her "whole."

will not serve the best interests of the parties involved; 19 or that the company would be prejudiced by the workers' continued employment; 20 or that it will not serve any prudent purpose as when supervening facts have transpired which make execution on that score unjust or inequitable 21 or, to an increasing extent, due to the resultant atmosphere of "antipathy and antagonism" or "strained relations" or "irretrievable estrangement" between the employer and the employee. 22

In lieu of reinstatement, the Court has variously ordered the payment of backwages and separation pay 23 or solely separation pay. 24

Sadly, the avowed intent of the law has at times been thwarted when reinstatement has not been forthcoming and the hapless dismissed employee finds himself on the outside looking in.

Over time, the following reasons have been advanced by the Court for denying reinstatement under the facts of the case and the law applicable thereto; that reinstatement can no longer be effected in view of the long passage of time (22 years of litigation) or because of the realities of the situation; 16 or that it would be "inimical to the employer's interest; " 17 or that reinstatement may no longer be feasible; 18 or, that it

In the case at bar, the law is on the side of private respondent. In the first place the wording of the Labor Code is clear and unambiguous: "An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement. . . . and to his full backwages. . . ." 25 Under the principlesof statutory construction, if a statute is clears plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation. This plain-meaning rule or verba legis derived from the maxim index animi sermo est (speech is the index of intention) rests on the valid presumption that the words employed by, the legislature in a statute correctly express its intent or will and preclude the court from construing it differently. 26 The legislature is presumed to know the meaning of the words, to:have used

words advisedly, and to have expressed its intent by the use of such words as are found in the statute. 27 Verba legis non est recedendum, or from the words of a statute there should be no departure. Neither does the provision admit of any qualification. If in the wisdom of the Court, there may be a ground or grounds for non-application of the above-cited provision, this should be by way of exception, such as when the reinstatement may be inadmissible due to ensuing strained relations between the employer and the employee.

organizations to the Philippines; 31 or is a manager of its Energy Equipment Sales. 32

Obviously, the principle of "strained relations" cannot be applied indiscriminately. Otherwisey reinstatement can never be possible simply because some hostility is invariably engendered between the parties as a result of litigation. That is human nature. 33

In such cases, it should be proved that the employee concerned occupies a position where he enjoys the trust and confidence of his employer; and that it is likely that if reinstated, an atmosphere of antipathy and antagonism may be generated as to adversely affect the efficiency and productivity of the employee concerned.

Besides, no strained relations should arise from a valid and legal act of asserting one's right; otherwise an employee who shall assert his right could be easily separated from the service, by merely paying his separation pay on the pretext that his relationship with his employer had already become strained. 34

A few examples, will suffice to illustrate the Court's application of the above principles: where the employee is a Vice-President for Marketing and as such, enjoys the full trust and confidence of top management; 28 or is the Officer-InCharge of the extension office of the bank where he works; 29 or is an organizer of a union who was in a position to sabotage the union's efforts to organize the workers in commercial and industrial establishments; 30 or is a warehouseman of a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to facilitate and maximize voluntary gifts. by foreign individuals and

Here, it has not been proved that the position of private respondent as systems analyst is one that may be characterized as a position of trust and confidence such that if reinstated, it may well lead to strained relations between employer and employee. Hence, this does not constitute an exception to the general rule mandating reinstatement for an employee who has been unlawfully dismissed.


On the other hand, has she betrayed any confidence reposed in her by engaging in transactions that may have created conflict of interest situations? Petitioner GMCR points out that as a matter of company policy, it prohibits its employees from involving themselves with any company that has business dealings with GMCR. Consequently, when private respondent Salazar signed as a witness to the partnership papers of Concave (a supplier of Ultra which in turn is also a supplier of GMCR), she was deemed to have placed. herself in an untenable position as far as petitioner was concerned.

complainant's sympathy would be with Saldivar" and its averment that Saldivar's investigation although unverified, was probably true, do not pass this Court's test. 36 While we should not condone the acts of disloyalty of an employee, neither should we dismiss him on the basis of suspicion derived from speculative inferences.

However, on close scrutiny, we agree with public respondent that such a circumstance did not create a conflict of interests situation. As a systems analyst, Salazar was very far removed from operations involving the procurement of supplies. Salazar's duties revolved around the development of systems and analysis of designs on a continuing basis. In other words, Salazar did not occupy a position of trust relative to the approval and purchase of supplies and company assets.

To rely on the Maramara report as a basis for Salazar's dismissal would be most inequitous because the bulk of the findings centered principally oh her friend's alleged thievery and anomalous transactions as technical operations' support manager. Said report merely insinuated that in view of Salazar's special relationship with Saldivar, Salazar might have had direct knowledge of Saldivar's questionable activities. Direct evidence implicating private respondent is wanting from the records.

In the instant case, petitioner has predicated its dismissal of Salazar on loss of confidence. As we have held countless times, while loss of confidence or breach of trust is a valid ground for terminations it must rest an some basis which must be convincingly established. 35 An employee who not be dismissed on mere presumptions and suppositions. Petitioner's allegation that since Salazar and Saldivar lived together in the same apartment, it "presumed reasonably that

It is also worth emphasizing that the Maramara report came out after Saldivar had already resigned from GMCR on May 31, 1984. Since Saldivar did not have the opportunity to refute management's findings, the report remained obviously onesided. Since the main evidence obtained by petitioner dealt principally on the alleged culpability of Saldivar, without his having had a chance to voice his side in view of his prior resignation, stringent examination should have been carried out to ascertain whether or not there existed independent legal grounds to hold Salatar answerable as well and, thereby,

justify her dismissal. Finding none, from the records, we find her to have been unlawfully dismissed.

WHEREFORE, the assailed resolution of public respondent National Labor Relations Commission dated December 29, 1987 is hereby AFFIRMED. Petitioner GMCR is ordered to REINSTATE private respondent Imelda Salazar and to pay her backwages equivalent to her salary for a period of two (2) years only.

Separate Opinions

This decision is immediately executory. MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., dissenting: SO ORDERED. I believe there is just cause for dismissal per investigative findings. (See Decision, p. 2.)

Paras, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr. and Nocon, JJ., concur.

Narvasa C.J., concurs Cruz, J., concurs in the result.

Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Padilla, JJ., took no part.


Separate Opinions

Rollo, p. 149.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., dissenting:

5 Soriano v. NLRC, G.R. No. 75510, October 27, 1987, 155 SCRA 124.

I believe there is just cause for dismissal per investigative findings. (See Decision, p. 2.)

6 Pres. Decree No. 442, as amended by Rep. Act No. 6715.

Narvasa C.J., concurs 7 LABOR CODE (1991), Book VI, Rule 1, Secs. 2 and 3.

8 Footnotes 9 1 Records, pp. 34-43. 10 2 Records, p. 22. 11 3 Ibid, p.121. 12

CONST., Art. XIII, Sec. 1, par. (1).


CONST., Art. XIII, Sec. 3, pars. (1) and (2)

CONST. (1973), Art. II, Sec. 9.

CONCOM Record, Vol. 2, p. 681.


13 The following provision on security of tenure is embodied in Article 279, Labor Code, reproduced herein but with the amendments inserted by Republic Act No. 6715 approved on March 2, 1989 in bold type:

16 Balaquezon EWTU v. Zamora, Nos. L-46766-7, April 1, 1980, 97 SCRA 5.

17 San Miguel Corporation v. Deputy Minister of Labor and Employmet, No. 58927, October 27, 1986, 145 SCRA 204.

In cases of regular employment, the employer shall not terminate the services of-an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights AND OTHER PRIVILEGES and to his FULL backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his ACTUAL reinstatement.

18 Hydro Resources Contractors Corporation v. Pagalibuan, G.R. 62909, April 18, 1989, 172 SCRA 404.

19 Century Textile Mills, Inc. v. NLRC, No. 77859, May 25, 1988, 161 SCRA 528.

20 Gubac v. NLRC, G.R. No. 81946, July 13, 1990, 187 SCRA 412 14 The application of Article 279 is illustrated in the following cases: Santos Salao v. NLRC, G.R. No. 9O786, September 21, 1991; Morales v. NLRC, G.R. 91501, August 2, 1990, 188 SCRA 295; Carandang v. Dulay, G.R. 90492, July 30, 1990, 188 SCRA 792; and Santos v. NLRC, No. 76721, September 21, 1987, 154 SCRA 166.

21 Sealand Service, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 90500, Occtober 5, 1990, 190 SCRA 347.


Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary.

22 Commercial Motors Corporation v. Commissioners, G.R. No. 74762, December 10, 1990, 192 SCRA 191; DeVera v. NLRC, G.R. No. 93212, November 22, 1990, 191 SCRA 632; Orcino v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 92864, October 18, 1990, 190 SCRA 815; Maglutac v. NLRC/ Conmart v.

NLRC,G.R. No. 78637, September 21, 1990,189 SCRA 767; Carandang v. Dulay, G.R. No. 90942, August 20, 1990, 188 SC RA 792; Esmalin v. NLRC, G.R. No. 67880, September 15,1989, 177 SCRA 537; Fernandez v. NLRC, G.R. No. 84302, August 10, 1989, 176 SCRA 269; Quezon Electric Cooperative v. NLRC, G.R. Nos. 79718-22, April 12,1989, 172 SCRA 88, Bautista v. Inciong, No. 52824, March 16, 1988, 158 SCRA 665; Citytrust Finance Corp. v. NLRC, No.75740, January 15, 1988, 157 SCRA 87; Asiaworld Publishing House, Inc. v. Ople No. 56398, July 23, 1987, 152 SCRA 219; and Divine Word High Schol v. NLRC, No. 72207, August 6, 1986, 143 SCRA 346



27 Aparri v. Court of Appeals , G.R. No. 30057, January 31, 1984 231 SCRA 241

28 Asiaworld Publishing House, Inc. v. Ople, No. 569393, July 23, 1987, 152 SCRA 219

23 Chua Qua v. Clave, G.R.No. 49549, August 30,1990,189 SCRA 117; Gold City Integrated Port Services, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 86000, September 21, 1990 189 SCRA 881 ; ALU v. NLRC, G.R. Nos. 83886-87, September 20,1990, 189 SCRA 743; and Pizza Inn v. NLRC, No. 74531, June 28, 1988, 162 SCRA 773.

29 Citytrust Finance Corp. v. NLRC, No. 75740, January 15, 1988, 157 SCRA 87

30 Bautista v. Inciong, No. 52824, March 16, 1988, 158 SCRA 665.

24 Maglutac v. NLRC, G.R. No. 78345, September 21, 1990, 189 SCRA 767; Conmart v. NLRC, G.R. No. 78637, 189 SCRA 767; De Vera v. NLRC, G.R. No. 93212, November 22, 1990, 191 SCRA 632; Commercial Motors Corp. v. Commissioners, G.R. No. 74762, December 10, 1990, 192 SCRA 191; Sealand Service, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 90500, October 5, 1990, 190 SRCA 347.

31 Esmalin v. NLRC, G.R. No. 67880, September 15, 1989, 177 SCRA 537.

32 Maglutac v. NLRC, G.R. No. 78345, September 21, 1990, 189 SCRA 767.


LABOR CODE, Art. 279.


33 Anscor Transport and Terminals v. NLRC, G.R. No. 85894, September 28, 1990, 190 SCRA 147.

FELICITO BASBACIO, petitioner, vs. OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, FRANKLIN DRILON in his capacity as Secretary of Justice, respondent.

34 Sibal v. Notre Dame of Greater Manila, G.R. No. 75093, February 23, 1990 182 SCRA 538.

35 Reyes v. Zamora, No. L-46732, May 5, 1979, 90 SCRA 92; De Vera v. NLRC and BPI, G.R. No. 93070, August 9, 1991.

Amparita S. Sta. Maria for petitioner.


Rollo, pp. 29 and 35. MENDOZA, J.:

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila


This case presents for determination the scope of the State's liability under Rep. Act No. 7309, which among other things provides compensation for persons who are unjustly accused, convicted and imprisoned but on appeal are acquitted and ordered released.

G.R. No. 109445

November 7, 1994

Petitioner Felicito Basbacio and his son-in-law, Wilfredo Balderrama, were convicted of frustrated murder and of two counts of frustrated murder for the killing of Federico Boyon and the wounding of the latter's wife Florida and his son Tirso, at Palo, Calanuga, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, on the night of June 26,

1988. The motive for the killing was apparently a land dispute between the Boyons and petitioner. Petitioner and his son-inlaw were sentenced to imprisonment and ordered immediately detained after their bonds had been cancelled.

reasonable doubt, yet, considering that there was bad blood between him and the deceased as a result of a land dispute and the fact that the convicted murderer is his son-in-law, there was basis for finding that he was "probably guilty."

Petitioner and his son-in-law appealed. Only petitioner's appeal proceeded to judgment, however, as the appeal of the other accused was dismissed for failure to file his brief.

On appeal, respondent Secretary of Justice affirmed the Board's ruling. Said the Secretary of Justice in his resolution dated March 11, 1993:

On June 22, 1992 the Court of Appeals rendered a decision acquitting petitioner on the ground that the prosecution failed to prove conspiracy between him and his son-in-law. He had been pointed to by a daughter of Federico Boyon as the companion of Balderrama when the latter barged into their hut and without warning started shooting, but the appellate court ruled that because petitioner did nothing more, petitioner's presence at the scene of the crime was insufficient to show conspiracy.

It is believed therefore that the phrase "any person . . . unjustly accused, convicted and imprisoned" in Section 3(a) of R.A. No. 7309 refers to an individual who was wrongly accused and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, thereby making him "a victim of unjust imprisonment." In the instant case, however, Claimant/Appellant cannot be deemed such a victim since a reading of the decision of his acquittal shows that his exculpation is not based on his innocence, but upon, in effect, a finding of reasonable doubt.

Based on his acquittal, petitioner filed a claim under Rep. Act No. 7309, sec. 3(a), which provides for the payment of compensation to "any person who was unjustly accused, convicted, imprisoned but subsequently released by virtue of a judgment of acquittal." 1 The claim was filed with the Board of Claims of the Department of Justice, but the claim was denied on the ground that while petitioner's presence at the scene of the killing was not sufficient to find him guilty beyond

Petitioner brought this petition for review on certiorari. Neither Rule 45 nor Rep. Act No. 7309, however, provides for review by certiorari of the decisions of the Secretary of Justice. Nonetheless, in view of the importance of the question tendered, the Court resolved to treat the petition as a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65.


Petitioner questions the basis of the respondent's ruling that to be able to recover under sec. 3(a) of the law the claimant must on appeal be found to be innocent of the crimes of which he was convicted in the trial court. Through counsel he contends that the language of sec. 3(a) is clear and does not call for interpretation. The "mere fact that the claimant was imprisoned for a crime which he was subsequently acquitted of is already unjust in itself," he contends. To deny his claim because he was not declared innocent would be to say that his imprisonment for two years while his appeal was pending was justified. Petitioner argues that there is only one requirement for conviction in criminal cases and that is proof beyond reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to present such proof, the presumption that the accused is innocent stands and, therefore, there is no reason for requiring that he be declared innocent of the crime before he can recover compensation for his imprisonment.

imprisoned but subsequently released by virtue of a judgment of acquittal."

Petitioner's contention has no merit. It would require that every time an accused is acquitted on appeal he must be given compensation on the theory that he was "unjustly convicted" by the trial court. Such a reading of sec. 3(a) is contrary to petitioner's professed canon of construction that when the language of the statute is clear it should be given its natural meaning. It leaves out of the provision in question the qualifying word "unjustly" so that the provision would simply read: "The following may file claims for compensation before the Board: (a) any person who was accused, convicted,

But sec. 3(a) requires that the claimant be "unjustly accused, convicted [and] imprisoned." The fact that his conviction is reversed and the accused is acquitted is not itself proof that the previous conviction was "unjust." An accused may be acquitted for a number of reasons and his conviction by the trial court may, for any of these reasons, be set aside. For example, he may be acquitted not because he is innocent of the crime charged but because of reasonable doubt, in which case he may be found civilly liable to the complainant, because while the evidence against him does not satisfy the quantum of proof required for conviction, it may nonetheless be sufficient to sustain a civil action for damages. 2 In one case the accused, an alien, was acquitted of statutory rape with homicide because of doubt as to the ages of the offended parties who consented to have sex with him. Nonetheless the accused was ordered to pay moral and exemplary damages and ordered deported. 3 In such a case to pay the accused compensation for having been "unjustly convicted" by the trial court would be utterly inconsistent with his liability to the complainant. Yet to follow petitioner's theory such an accused would be entitled to compensation under sec. 3(a).

The truth is that the presumption of innocence has never been intended as evidence of innocence of the accused but only to shift the burden of proof that he is guilty to the prosecution. If

"accusation is not synonymous with guilt," 4 so is the presumption of innocence not a proof thereof. It is one thing to say that the accused is presumed to be innocent in order to place on the prosecution the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. It is quite another thing to say that he is innocent and if he is convicted that he has been "unjustly convicted." As this Court held in a case:

The phrase "unjustly convicted" has the same meaning as "knowingly rendering an unjust judgment" in art. 204 of the Revised Penal Code. What this Court held in In re Rafael C. Climaco 6 applies:

Though we are acquitting the appellant for the crime of rape with homicide, we emphasize that we are not ruling that he is innocent or blameless. It is only the constitutional presumption of innocence and the failure of the prosecution to build an airtight case for conviction which saved him, not that the facts of unlawful conduct do not exist. 5

In order that a judge may be held liable for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, it must be shown beyond doubt that the judgment is unjust as it is contrary to law or is not supported by the evidence, and the same was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice . . . .

To say then that an accused has been "unjustly convicted" has to do with the manner of his conviction rather than with his innocence. An accused may on appeal be acquitted because he did not commit the crime, but that does not necessarily mean that he is entitled to compensation for having been the victim of an "unjust conviction." If his conviction was due to an error in the appreciation of the evidence the conviction while erroneous is not unjust. That is why it is not, on the other hand, correct to say as does respondent, that under the law liability for compensation depends entirely on the innocence of the accused.

To hold a judge liable for the rendition of manifestly unjust judgment by reason of inexcusable negligence or ignorance, it must be shown, according to Groizard, that although he has acted without malice, he failed to observe in the performance of his duty, that diligence, prudence and care which the law is entitled to exact in the rendering of any public service. Negligence and ignorance are inexcusable if they imply a manifest injustice which cannot be explained by a reasonable interpretation. Inexcusable mistake only exists in the legal concept when it implies a manifest injustice, that is to say, such injustice which cannot be explained by a reasonable interpretation, even though there is a misunderstanding or error of the law applied, yet in the contrary it results, logically and reasonably, and in a very clear and indisputable manner, in the notorious violation of the legal precept.


Indeed, sec. 3(a) does not refer solely to an unjust conviction as a result of which the accused is unjustly imprisoned, but, in addition, to an unjust accusation. The accused must have been "unjustly accused, in consequence of which he is unjustly convicted and then imprisoned. It is important to note this because if from its inception the prosecution of the accused has been wrongful, his conviction by the court is, in all probability, also wrongful. Conversely, if the prosecution is not malicious any conviction even though based on less than the required quantum of proof in criminal cases may be erroneous but not necessarily unjust.

was petitioner who bore the victim a grudge because of a land dispute. Not only that. Petitioner and his coaccused arrived together in the hut of the victims and forced their way into it.

The Court of Appeals ruled there was no conspiracy only because there was no proof that he did or say anything on the occasion. Said the appellate court.

The reason is that under Rule 112, sec. 4, the question for the prosecutor in filing a case in court is not whether the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt but only whether "there is reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed and the accused is probably guilty thereof." Hence, an accusation which is based on "probable guilt" is not an unjust accusation and a conviction based on such degree of proof is not necessarily an unjust judgment but only an erroneous one. The remedy for such error is appeal.

In the case at bar there is absolutely no evidence to show that petitioner's conviction by the trial court was wrongful or that it was the product of malice or gross ignorance or gross negligence. To the contrary, the court had reason to believe that petitioner and his co-accused were in league, because petitioner is the father-in-law of Wilfredo Balderrama and it

Both eyewitness testimonies fail to show the appellant Felicito Basbacio to have committed any act at all. Both fail to show Felicito Basbacio as having said anything at all. Both fail to show Felicito Basbacio as having committed anything in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit the crimes charged against the defendants. It seems to be a frail and flimsy basis on which to conclude that conspiracy existed between actual killer Wilfredo Balderrama and Felicito Basbacio to commit murder and two frustrated murders on that night of June 26, 1988. It may be asked: where was the coming together of the two defendants to an agreement to commit the crimes of murder and frustrated murder on two counts? Where was Basbacio's contribution to the commission of the said crimes? Basbacio was as the record shows nothing but part of the dark shadows of that night. . . .

One may take issue with this ruling because precisely conspiracy may be shown by concert of action and other circumstances. Why was petitioner with his son-in-law? Why

did they apparently flee together? And what about the fact that there was bad blood between petitioner and the victim Federico Boyon? These questions may no longer be passed upon in view of the acquittal of petitioner but they are relevant in evaluating his claim that he had been unjustly accused, convicted and imprisoned before he was released because of his acquittal on appeal. We hold that in view of these circumstances respondent Secretary of Justice and the Board of Claims did not commit a grave abuse of its discretion in disallowing petitioner's claim for compensation under Rep. Act No. 7309.

# Footnotes

The statute in pertinent parts provide:

Sec. 3. Who may File Claims. The following may file claims for compensation before the Board:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

a) any person who was unjustly accused, convicted, imprisoned but subsequently released by virtue of a judgment of acquittal;


b) any person who was unjustly detained and released without being charged;

Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

c) any victim of arbitrary or illegal detention by the authorities as defined in the Revised Penal Code under a final judgment of the court; and

Feliciano, J., is on leave.

d) any person who is a victim of violent crimes. For purposes of this Act, violent crimes shall include rape and shall likewise refer to offenses committed with malice which resulted in death or serious physical and/or psychological injuries, permanent incapacity or disability, insanity, abortion,

serious trauma, or committed with torture, cruelty or barbarity.

Sec. 4. Award Ceiling. For victims of unjust imprisonment or detention, the compensation shall be based on the number of months of imprisonment or detention and every fraction thereof shall be considered one month: Provided, however, That in no case shall such compensation exceed One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) per month.

"If in a criminal case the judgment of acquittal is based upon reasonable doubt, the court shall so declare. In the absence of any declaration to that effect, it may be inferred from the text of the decision whether or not the acquittal is due to that ground."

People v. Ritter, 194 SCRA 690 (1991).

In all other cases, the maximum amount for which the Board may approve a claim shall not exceed Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) or the amount necessary to reimburse the claimant the expenses incurred for hospitalization, medical treatment, loss of wage, loss of support or other expenses directly related to the injury, whichever is lower. This is without prejudice to the right of the claimant to seek other remedies under existing laws.

People v. Dramayo, 42 SCRA 59, 64 (1971).

Supra note 3 at 722.

55 SCRA 107, 119 (1974)

Republic of the Philippines 2 The Civil Code provides in Art. 29: "When the accused in a criminal prosecution is acquitted on the ground that his guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, a civil action for damages for the same act or omission may be instituted. Such action requires only a preponderance of evidence. Upon motion of the defendant, the court may require the plaintiff to file a bond to answer for damages in case the complaint should be found to be malicious. SUPREME COURT Manila



Administration on the ground of failure to post the required appeal bond. 1 G.R. No. 109835 November 22, 1993 The respondent cited the second paragraph of Article 223 of the Labor Code as amended, providing that: JMM PROMOTIONS & MANAGEMENT, INC., petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and ULPIANO L. DE LOS SANTOS, respondent. In the case of a judgment involving a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission in an amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from.

Don P. Porciuncula for petitioner.

Eulogio Nones, Jr. for private respondent.

and Rule VI, Section 6 of the new Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, as amended, reading as follows:


Sec. 6. Bond In case the decision of a Labor Arbiter involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer shall be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission or the Supreme Court in an amount equivalent to the monetary award.

The sole issue submitted in this case is the validity of the order of respondent National Labor Relations Commission dated October 30, 1992, dismissing the petitioner's appeal from a decision of the Philippine Overseas Employment

The petitioner contends that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in applying these rules to decisions rendered by the POEA. It insists that the appeal bond is not necessary in the case of licensed recruiters for overseas employment because they are already required under Section 4, Rule II, Book II of the POEA Rules not only to pay a license fee of P30,000 but also to post a cash bond of P100,000 and a surety bond of P50,000, thus:

In addition, the petitioner claims it has placed in escrow the sum of P200,000 with the Philippine National Bank in compliance with Section 17, Rule II, Book II of the same Rule, "to primarily answer for valid and legal claims of recruited workers as a result of recruitment violations or money claims."

Upon approval of the application, the applicant shall pay a license fee of P30,000. It shall also post a cash bond of P100,000 and surety bond of P50,000 from a bonding company acceptable to the Administration and duly accredited by the Insurance Commission. The bonds shall answer for all valid and legal claims arising from violations of the conditions for the grant and use of the license, and/or accreditation and contracts of employment. The bonds shall likewise guarantee compliance with the provisions of the Code and its implementing rules and regulations relating to recruitment and placement, the Rules of the Administration and relevant issuances of the Department and all liabilities which the Administration may impose. The surety bonds shall include the condition that the notice to the principal is notice to the surety and that any judgment against the principal in connection with matters falling under POEA's jurisdiction shall be binding and conclusive on the surety. The surety bonds shall be co-terminus with the validity period of license. (Emphasis supplied)

Required to comment, the Solicitor General sustains the appeal bond requirement but suggest that the rules cited by the NLRC are applicable only to decisions of the Labor Arbiters and not of the POEA. Appeals from decisions of the POEA, he says, are governed by the following provisions of Rule V, Book VII of the POEA Rules:

Sec. 5. Requisites for Perfection of Appeal. The appeal shall be filed within the reglementary period as provided in Section 1 of this Rule; shall be under oath with proof of payment of the required appeal fee and the posting of a cash or surety bond as provided in Section 6 of this Rule; shall be accompanied by a memorandum of appeal which shall state the grounds relied upon and the arguments in support thereof; the relief prayed for; and a statement of the date when the appellant received the appealed decision and/or award and proof of service on the other party of such appeal.


A mere notice of appeal without complying with the other requisites aforestated shall not stop the running of the period for perfecting an appeal.

of the employee if it is eventually affirmed on appeal to the NLRC.

Sec. 6. Bond. In case the decision of the Administration involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer shall be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission in an amount equivalent to the monetary award. (Emphasis supplied)

The question is, having posted the total bond of P150,000 and placed in escrow the amount of P200,000 as required by the POEA Rules, was the petitioner still required to post an appeal bond to perfect its appeal from a decision of the POEA to the NLRC?

It is true that the cash and surety bonds and the money placed in escrow are supposed to guarantee the payment of all valid and legal claims against the employer, but these claims are not limited to monetary awards to employees whose contracts of employment have been violated. The POEA can go against these bonds also for violations by the recruiter of the conditions of its license, the provisions of the Labor Code and its implementing rules, E.O. 247 (reorganizing POEA) and the POEA Rules, as well as the settlement of other liabilities the recruiter may incur.

It was.

The POEA Rules are clear. A reading thereof readily shows that in addition to the cash and surety bonds and the escrow money, an appeal bond in an amount equivalent to the monetary award is required to perfect an appeal from a decision of the POEA. Obviously, the appeal bond is intended to further insure the payment of the monetary award in favor

As for the escrow agreement, it was presumably intended to provide for a standing fund, as it were, to be used only as a last resort and not to be reduced with the enforcement against it of every claim of recruited workers that may be adjudged against the employer. This amount may not even be enough to cover such claims and, even if it could initially, may eventually be exhausted after satisfying other subsequent claims.

As it happens, the decision sought to be appealed grants a monetary award of about P170,000 to the dismissed employee, the herein private respondent. The standby guarantees required by the POEA Rules would be depleted if

this award were to be enforced not against the appeal bond but against the bonds and the escrow money, making them inadequate for the satisfaction of the other obligations the recruiter may incur.

Indeed, it is possible for the monetary award in favor of the employee to exceed the amount of P350,000, which is the sum of the bonds and escrow money required of the recruiter.

bond required by Section 6 of the aforementioned POEA Rule should be disregarded because of the earlier bonds and escrow money it has posted. The petitioner would in effect nullify Section 6 as a superfluity but we do not see any such redundancy; on the contrary, we find that Section 6 complements Section 4 and Section 17. The rule is that a construction that would render a provision inoperative should be avoided; instead, apparently inconsistent provisions should be reconciled whenever possible as parts of a coordinated and harmonious whole.

It is true that these standby guarantees are not imposed on local employers, as the petitioner observes, but there is a simple explanation for this distinction. Overseas recruiters are subject to more stringent requirement because of the special risks to which our workers abroad are subjected by their foreign employers, against whom there is usually no direct or effective recourse. The overseas recruiter is solidarily liable with a foreign employer. The bonds and the escrow money are intended to insure more care on the part of the local agent in its choice of the foreign principal to whom our overseas workers are to be sent.

Accordingly, we hold that in addition to the monetary obligations of the overseas recruiter prescribed in Section 4, Rule II, Book II of the POEA Rules and the escrow agreement under Section 17 of the same Rule, it is necessary to post the appeal bond required under Section 6, Rule V, Book VII of the POEA Rules, as a condition for perfecting an appeal from a decision of the POEA.

It is a principle of legal hermeneutics that in interpreting a statute (or a set of rules as in this case), care should be taken that every part thereof be given effect, on the theory that it was enacted as an integrated measure and not as a hodgepodge of conflicting provisions. Ut res magis valeat quam pereat. 2 Under the petitioner's interpretation, the appeal

Every intendment of the law must be interpreted in favor of the working class, conformably to the mandate of the Constitution. By sustaining rather than annulling the appeal bond as a further protection to the claimant employee, this Court affirms once again its commitment to the interest of labor.


WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED, with costs against the petitioner. It is so ordered.


Davide and Quiason, JJ., concur.


Bellosillo, J, is on leave.

G.R. No. 75222

July 18, 1991

# Footnotes


1 Order issued by NLRC Commissioner Domingo H. Zapanta, Second Division, dated October 30, 1992.

2 "That the thing may rather have effect than be destroyed." Simonds v. Walker, 100 Mass. 113; National Pemberton Bank v. Lougee, 108 Mass. 373, 11 Am. Rep. 367. Charitable bequests are also governed by this maxim. Kieg v. Richardson, C.C.A. N.C., B6 F. 2d 849, 858.

Republic of the Philippines

Quisumbing, Torres & Evangelista for petitioner.


Procopio S. Beltran, Jr. for private respondents.

On July 9, 1980, the respondent court issued an order taking cognizance of the said petition and stating inter alia that:


This is a petition for certiorari of the March 31, 1986 Decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court * in A.C-G.R. SP No. 04160 entitled "Radiola-Toshiba Philippines, Inc. vs. Hon. Leonardo I. Cruz, et al." denying the petition for certiorari and mandamus; and its Resolution of July 1, 1986 denying the motion for reconsideration.

. . . the Court forbids the payment of any debts, and the delivery of any property owing and belonging to said respondents-debtors from other persons, or, to any other persons for the use and benefit of the same respondentsdebtors and/or the transfer of any property by and for the said respondents-debtors to another, upon petitioners' putting up a bond by way of certified and reputable sureties. (Annex 1, Comment).

The antecedent facts of this case, as found by the then Intermediate Appellate Court, are as follows:

On July 2, 1980, three creditors filed a petition for the involuntary insolvency of Carlos Gatmaytan and Teresita Gatmaytan, the private respondents herein, the case docketed as Special Proceeding No. 1548 of the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Pampanga and Angeles City.

Counsel for the petitioners-creditors informed respondent sheriff Angeles City of the aforesaid order (Annex 2, Ibid) and on March 26, 1981, also communicated with counsel for the petitioner herein regarding same order, apprising the latter that "the personal and real property which have been levied upon and/or attached should be preserved till the final determination of the petition aforementioned." (Annex 3, Ibid).

On April 12, 1983, petitioners-creditors filed second urgent motion for issuance of insolvency order and resolution of the case, alleging among other things, that in November, 1982, they filed an urgent motion to issue insolvency order; on

December 2, 1982, they presented a motion to prohibit the city sheriff of Angeles City from disposing the personal and real properties of the insolvent debtors, Carlos Gatmaytan and Teresita Gatmaytan; on January 18, 1983, they (sic) appealed in the Bulletin Today issue of even date a news item to the effect that Radiola-Toshiba Phil. Inc. has already shut down its factory, sometime in March 1983, through their representative, they caused to be investigated the real properties in the names of Carlos Gatmaytan and Teresita Gatmaytan and they were surprised to find out that some of the aforesaid properties were already transferred to RadiolaToshiba Phil. Inc.; and that in view of such development, it is their submission that without an insolvency order and a resolution of the case which was ripe for resolution as early as March 3, 1982, the rights and interest of petitioners-creditors would be injured and jeopardized. (Annex "C").

On April 28, 1983, petitioner filed a supplemental opposition to the same second urgent motion and motion to direct respondent sheriff to issue a final certificate of sale for the properties covered by TCT Nos. 18905 and 40430 in its favor (Annex "E").

On February 3, 1984, acting upon petitioner's motion claiming that ownership of certain real properties of the insolvents had passed to it by virtue of foreclosure proceedings conducted in Civil Case No. 35946 of the former Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch II, Pasig, Metro Manila, which properties were not redeemed within the period of redemption, respondent court issued an order disposing, thus:

On April 15, 1983, petitioner filed an opposition to the said motion vis-a-vis the prayer that the insolvency order (which has not been rendered yet by the court) be annotated on the transfer certificates of title already issued in its name (Annex "D").

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby, confirms the election of Mr. Emilio C. Patino, as assignee of all the registered claimants in this case, and, in consequence thereof, the said assignee is hereby directed to post a bond in the amount of P30,000.00 and to take his oath thereafter so as to be able to perform his duties and discharge his functions, as such.

On April 22, 1983, judgment was rendered declaring the insolvency of respondents-debtors Carlos Gatmaytan and Teresita Gatmaytan.

The Court, likewise, sets the meeting of all the creditors with the attendance, of course, of the assignee, on March 9, 1984, at 8:30., as by that time the proposals, which the respective representatives of the parties-claimants desire to clear with their principals, shall have already been reported.

The assignee shall see to it that the properties of the insolvents which are now in the actual or constructive custody and management of the receiver previously appointed by the Court on petitioners' and claimants' proposals be placed under this actual or constructive custody and management, such as he is able to do so, as the Court hereby dissolves the receivership previously authorized, it having become a superfluity. (Annex "F").

Nos. 18905 and 40430 of the Registry of Deeds of Angeles City, per Entry No. 7216 on said titles. (Annex "A" and "B").

On May 18, 1984, the Regional Trial Court, Branch CLII, Pasig, Metro Manila, in Civil Case No. 35946, issued an order directing respondent Sheriff of Angeles City, or whoever is acting in his behalf, to issue within seven (7) days from notice thereof a final deed of sale over the two (2) parcels of land covered by Transfer Certificates of Titles Nos. 18905 and 40430 in favor of petitioner. (Annex "G").

On December 10, 1980, a decision was rendered in favor of petitioner, ordering private respondents and their codefendant Peoples Appliance Center, Inc. to pay petitioner, jointly and severally, the sum of P721,825.91 plus interest thereon of 14% per annum from October 12, 1979 until fully paid; P20,000.00, for and attorney's fees; and the costs of suit (Annex "5", Comment). After the said decision in the aforementioned Civil Case No. 35946 became final and executory, a writ of execution for the satisfaction thereof issued on March 18, 1981; and on May 4, 1981, respondent sheriff of Angeles City sold at auction sale the attached properties covered by TCT Nos. 18905 and 40430, to petitioner as the highest bidder, and the certificate of sale was accordingly issued in its favor.

In said Civil Case No. 35946, a case for collection of sum of money covering the proceeds of television sets and other appliances, the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch II, Pasig, Metro Manila, issued a writ of preliminary attachment on February 15, 1980 upon application of the petitioner, as plaintiff, which put up a bond of P350,000.00. On March 4, 1980, 3:00 P.M., levy on attachment was done in favor of petitioner on the real properties registered in the names of spouses Carlos Gatmaytan and Teresita Gatmaytan under TCT

On September 21, 1982, the court ordered the consolidation of ownership of petitioner over said properties; but respondent sheriff of Angeles City refused to issue a final certificate of sale in favor of petitioner.

On May 30, 1984, petitioners-creditors interposed their opposition, stating among other things, that subject motion is improper and premature because it treats of matters foreign to the insolvency proceedings; and premature, for the reason

that the properties covered by TCT Nos. 18905 and 40430Angeles City were brought to the jurisdiction of the insolvency court for the determination of the assets of the insolvents available for distribution to the approved credits/liabilities of the insolvents. Petitioners-creditors theorized that the insolvency court is devoid of jurisdiction to grant the motion referring to matters involved in a case pending before a coordinate court in another jurisdiction (Annex "l").

The then Intermediate Appellate Court, in a Decision promulgated on March 31, 1986, denied petitioner's aforesaid petition. On April 19, 1986, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied in a Resolution dated July 1, 1986.

Hence, the instant petition. Herein petitioner raised two issues

Prior thereto or on July 13, 1984, to be precise, respondent court came out with its assailed extended order with the following decretal portion:


WHEREFORE, and also for the reason stated in the aforequoted order issued in pursuance of a similar motion of the movant, the Court denies, as it is hereby denied the motion of Radiola-Toshiba, dated May 28, 1984 and directs the latter to participate in the supposed meeting of all the creditors/claimants presided by the duly elected assignee. (Annex "J").


On September 8, 1984, herein petitioner Radiola-Toshiba Philippines, Inc. (RTPI, for short) filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with respondent Intermediate Appellate Court.

The main issue in this case is whether or not the levy on attachment in favor of the petitioner is dissolved by the insolvency proceedings against respondent spouses commenced four months after said attachment.


On this issue, Section 32 of the Insolvency Law (Act No. 1956, as amended), provides:

Sec. 32 As soon as an assignee is elected or appointed and qualified, the clerk of the court shall, by an instrument under his hand and seal of the court, assign and convey to the assignee all the real and personal property, estate, and effects of the debtor with all his deeds, books, and papers relating thereto, and such assignment shall relate back to the commencement of the proceedings in insolvency, and shall relate back to the acts upon the adjudication was founded, and by operation of law shall vest the title to all such property, estate, and effects in the assignee, although the same is then attached on mesne process, as the property of the debtor. Such assignment shall operate to vest in the assignee all of the estate of the insolvent debtor not exempt by law from execution. It shall dissolve any attachment levied within one month next preceding the commencement of the insolvency proceedings and vacate and set aside any judgment entered in any action commenced within thirty days immediately prior to the commencement of insolvency proceedings and shall set aside any judgment entered by default or consent of the debtor within thirty days immediately prior to the commencement of the insolvency proceedings. (Emphasis supplied)

against the subject properties of the Gatmaytans, issued by the then Court of First Instance of Pasig in Civil Case No. 35946, was on March 4, 1980 while the insolvency proceeding in the then Court of First Instance of Angeles City, Special Proceeding No. 1548, was commenced only on July 2, 1980, or more than four (4) months after the issuance of the said attachment. Under the circumstances, petitioner contends that its lien on the subject properties overrode the insolvency proceeding and was not dissolved thereby.

Private respondents, on the other hand, relying on Section 79 of the said law, which reads:

Sec. 79. When an attachment has been made and is not dissolved before the commencement of proceedings in insolvency, or is dissolved by an undertaking given by the defendant, if the claim upon which the attachment suit was commenced is proved against the estate of the debtor, the plaintiff may prove the legal costs and disbursements of the suit, and of the keeping of the property, and the amount thereof shall be a preferred debt.

Relative thereto, the findings of the then Intermediate Appellate Court are undisputed that the levy on attachment

and the fact that petitioner and its counsel have full knowledge of the proceedings in the insolvent case, argue that the subsequent Certificate of Sale on August 3, 1981, issued in favor of petitioner over the subject properties, was issued in bad faith, in violation of the law and is not equitable for the

creditors of the insolvent debtors; and pursuant to the above quoted Section 79, petitioner should not be entitled to the transfer of the subject properties in its name.

Petitioner's contention is impressed with merit. The provision of the above-quoted Section 32, of the Insolvency Law is very clear that attachments dissolved are those levied within one (1) month next preceding the commencement of the insolvency proceedings and judgments vacated and set aside are judgments entered in any action, including judgment entered by default or consent of the debtor, where the action was filed within thirty (30) days immediately prior to the commencement of the insolvency proceedings. In short, there is a cut off period one (1) month in attachment cases and thirty (30) days in judgments entered in actions commenced prior to the insolvency proceedings. Section 79, on the other hand, relied upon by private respondents, provides for the right of the plaintiff if the attachment is not dissolved before the commencement of proceedings in insolvency, or is dissolved by an undertaking given by the defendant, if the claim upon which the attachment suit was commenced is proved against the estate of the debtor. Therefore, there is no conflict between the two provisions.

valeat quam pereat or that construction is to be sought which gives effect to the whole of the statute its every word. Hence, where a statute is susceptible of more than one interpretation, the court should adopt such reasonable and beneficial construction as will render the provision thereof operative and effective and harmonious with each other (Javellana vs. Tayo, 6 SCRA 1042 [1962]; Statutory Construction by Ruben E. Agpalo, p. 182).

Neither can the sheriff's sale in execution of the judgment in favor of the petitioner be considered as a fraudulent transfer or preference by the insolvent debtors, which constitute a violation of Sec. 70 of the Insolvency Law. In the case of Velayo vs. Shell Co. of the Philippines (100 Phil. 187, [1956]), this Court ruled that Sections 32 and 70 contemplate only acts and transactions occurring within 30 days prior to the commencement of the proceedings in insolvency and, consequently, all other acts outside of the 30-day period cannot possibly be considered as coming within the orbit of their operation.

But even granting that such conflict exists, it may be stated that in construing a statute, courts should adopt a construction that will give effect to every part of a statute, if at all possible. This rule is expressed in the maxim, ut maqis

Finally, petitioner correctly argued that the properties in question were never placed under the jurisdiction of respondent insolvency court so as to be made available for the payment of claim filed against the Gatmaytans in the insolvency proceedings.


Hence, the denial by respondent insolvency court to give due course to the attachment and execution of Civil Case No. 35946 of the CFI of Rizal constitutes a freezing of the disposition of subject properties by the former which were not within its jurisdiction; undeniably, a grave abuse of discretion amounting to want of jurisdiction, correctable by certiorari.

* Penned by Associate Justice Fidel P. Purisima and concurred in by Associate Justices Carolina C. Grio-Aquino, Jose F. Racela, Jr., and Jorge S. Imperial.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT

WHEREFORE, the March 31, 1986 decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court is hereby Reversed and SET ASIDE. The attachment and execution sale in Civil Case No. 35946 of the former CFI of Rizal are given due course and petitioner's ownership of subject properties covered by TCT Nos. 18905 and 40430 is ordered consolidated.



SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 104712 Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur. MANUEL T. DE GUIA, in his capacity as Councilor of the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila, petitioner, vs. Footnotes HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. May 6, 1992



This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition assailing the validity and the enforcement by respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) of its RESOLUTION NO. 2313, adopting rules and guidelines in the apportionment, by district, of the number of elective members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in provinces with only one (1) legislative district and the Sangguniang Bayan of municipalities in the Metro Manila Area for the preparation of the Project of District Apportionment by the Provincial Election Supervisors and Election Registrars (Annex "A", Petition), RESOLUTION NO. 2379, approving the Project of District Apportionment submitted pursuant to Resolution No. 2313 (Annex "B", Petition), and RESOLUTION UND. 92-010 holding that pars. (a), (b) and (c), and the first sentence of par. (d), all of Sec. 3, R.A. 7166, apply to the May 11, 1992 elections (Annex "C", Petition).

of said municipalities does not specify when the members of their Sangguniang Bayan will be elected by district. He would consequently lean on par. (d) of Sec. 3, which immediately succeeds par. (c), to support his view that the elected members of these municipalities mentioned in par. (c) should continue to be elected at large in the May 11, 1992 elections.

Paragraph (d) states that "[F]or purposes of the regular elections on May 11, 1992, elective members of the Sangguniang Panlunsod and Sangguniang Bayan shall be elected at large in accordance with existing laws. However, beginning with the regular elections in 1995, they shall be elected by district." Petitioner therefore insists that the elected members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Paraaque fall under this category so that they should continue to be elected at large until the 1995 regular elections.

Petitioner Manuel T. De Guia is an incumbent Member of the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila, having been elected in the January 1988 local elections. He prays, more particularly, for reversal of the position of respondent insofar as it affects the municipality of Paraaque and all the other municipalities in the Metro Manila Area. He claims that the second proviso of par. (c), Sec. 3 of R.A. 7166, which requires the apportionment into districts

Before addressing the crux of the controversy, the Court observes that petitioner does not allege that he is running for reelection, much less, that he is prejudiced by the election, by district, in Paraaque. As such, he does not appear to have a locus standi, a standing in law, personal or substantial interest. 1 He does not also allege any legal right that has been violated by respondent. If for this alone, petitioner does not appear to have any cause of action.


However, considering the importance of the issue involved, concerning as it does the political exercise of qualified voters affected by the apportionment, and petitioner alleging abuse of discretion and violation of the Constitution by respondent, We resolve to brush aside the question of procedural infirmity, even as We perceive the petition to be one of declaratory relief. We so held similarly through Mr. Justice Edgardo L. Paras in Osmea v. Commission on Elections. 2

(a) For provinces with two (2) or more legislative districts, the elective members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan shall be elected by legislative districts . . .

(b) For provinces with only one (1) legislative district, the Commission shall divide them into two (2) districts for purposes of electing the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan . . .

Now on the meat of the dispute. (c) The number and election of elective members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan in the Metro Manila Area, City of Cebu, City of Davao and any other city with two (2) or more legislative districts shall continue to be governed by the provisions of Sections 2 and 3 of Republic Act No. 6636 . . . Provided, further, That, the Commission shall divide each of the municipalities in Metro Manila Area into two (2) districts by barangay for purposes of representation in the Sangguniang Bayan . . . . and,

On November 18, 1991, Congress passed R.A. 7166, signed into law by the President on November 26, 1991. It is "An Act Providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral Reforms, Authorizing Appropriations Therefor, and for Other Purposes." At issue in this case is the proper interpretation of Sec. 3 thereof which provides:

Sec. 3. Elections of Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan. The elective members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan shall be elected as follows:

(d) For purposes of the regular elections on May 11, 1992, elective members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan shall be elected at large in accordance with existing laws. However, beginning with the regular elections in 1995, they shall be elected by district . . . .

On November 20, 1991, respondent COMELEC, invoking authority of the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, R.A. 6636, R.A. 6646 and R.A. 7166, 3 issued Resolution No. 2313 and the subsequent resolutions in question.

On February 20, 1992, in view of the perceived ambiguity in the meaning of par. (d), particularly in relation to par. (c), Sec. 3, R.A. 7166, petitioner filed with COMELEC a Motion for Clarification of its Resolution No. 2313 inquiring whether the members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Paraaque and the other municipalities of Metro Manila enumerated therein, which are all single-district municipalities, would be elected by district in May 11, 1992 or in the 1995 regular elections.

On March 10, 1992, COMELEC resolved petitioner's Motion for Clarification by interpreting Sec. 3, R.A. 7166, to mean that the election of elective members of the Sangguniang Bayan, by district, of the thirteen (13) municipalities in the Metro Manila Area shall apply in the May 11, 1992 elections (Resolution UND. 92-010, prom. March 10, 1992). Petitioner says that he received copy of Resolution UND. 92-010 on March 13, 1992.

Meanwhile, on March 3, 1992 COMELEC issued Resolution No. 2379 approving the guidelines submitted by the Provincial Election Supervisors and Municipal Election Registrars concerned pursuant to Resolution No. 2313, and stating therein its purpose in recommending to Congress the districting/apportionment of Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan seats, i.e., to reduce the number of candidates to be voted for in the May 11, 1992 synchronized elections. In this Project of Apportionment, Paraaque together with the other twelve (12) municipalities in the Metro Manila Area was divided into two (2) districts with six (6) elective councilors for each district.

On April 7, 1992, apparently not satisfied with this third Resolution of COMELEC, petitioner filed the instant petition asserting that under par. (d), Sec. 3 of R.A. 7166 the elective members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the Sangguniang Bayan, for purposes of the May 11, 1992 regular elections, shall be elected at large in accordance with existing laws. He would include in this class of sanggunian members to be elected at large those of the municipality of Paraaque.

Petitioner therefore imputes grave abuse of discretion to COMELEC in promulgating Resolution No. 2313, Resolution No. 2379 and Resolution UND. 92-010 which clarifies, contrary to his view, that the district apportionment of the municipalities in the Metro Manila Area is applicable to the May 11, 1992 regular elections.


We have carefully examined pars. (a), (b), (c) and (d) of Sec. 3, R.A. 7166, and its precursor bills on synchronized elections, Senate Bill No. 1861 and House Bill No. 34811, and We realize the web of confusion generated by the seeming abstruseness in the language of the law. Some framers of the law were even fazed at the empirical implications of some of its provisions, particularly Sec. 3 thereof, and they admitted in fact that said provisions were susceptible of varied interpretations, as borne by the sponsorship and explanatory speeches now spread in the Journals of Congress. Hence, We can understand why petitioner would interpret Sec. 3 as he would. But if we pursue his course, we may conclude in absurdity because then there would have been no reason for R.A. 7166 to single out the single-district provinces referred to in par. (b), and the municipalities in the Metro Manila Area mentioned in the second proviso of par. (c), to be apportioned at once into two (2) districts each if the members of their respective sanggunian after all would still be elected at large as they were in the 1988 elections.

of the object to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed, 5 and they should be given such construction as will advance the object, suppress the mischief, and secure the benefits intended. 6 A construction should be rejected that gives to the language used in a statute a meaning that does not accomplish the purpose for which the statute was enacted, and that tends to defeat the ends which are sought to be attained by the enactment. 7

The reason for the promulgation of R.A. 7166 is shown in the explanatory note of Senate Bill No. 1861 which states in part:

No law is ever enacted that is intended to be meaningless, much less inutile. We must therefore, as far as we can, divine its meaning, its significance, its reason for being. As it has oft been held, the key to open the door to what the legislature intended which is vaguely expressed in the language of a statute is its purpose or the reason which induced it to enact the statute. If the statute needs construction, as it does in the present case, the most dominant in that process is the purpose of the act. 4 Statutes should be construed in the light

This bill proposes to set the national and local elections for May 11, 1992, and provide for the necessary implementing details. It also endorses reforms and measures to ensure the conduct of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. Specifically, it seeks to: (1) Reduce the number of positions to be voted for by providing therein that the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan be elected not at large, but by district . . . .

That respondent COMELEC is cognizant of this legislative intent of R.A. 7166 is reflected in the "WHEREAS" clauses constituting the preamble to Resolution No. 2379. Thus


WHEREAS, the Commission on Elections, in order to reduce the number of candidates to be voted for in the May 11, 1992 synchronized elections recommended, among others, to the Congress of the Philippines, the districting/apportionment of sangguniang panlungsod and sangguniang bayan seats;

WHEREAS, the Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act 7166, and approved by the President of the Philippines on November 26, 1991, adopting among others, the recommendation of the Commission on Elections aforestated;

WHEREAS, pursuant to, and in implementation of Republic Act 7166, particularly Section 3 thereof, the Commission promulgated Resolution No. 2313, directing the Provincial Election Supervisors and Election Registrars concerned to submit, after consultation, public hearings, and consensustaking with the different sectors in the community, the Project of District Apportionment of single legislative-district provinces and municipalities in the Metro Manila area;

This avowed policy of having sanggunian members elected by district is also manifest from the four corners of Sec. 3 of R.A. 7166. 8 Thus, a careful analysis of the provisions of Sec. 3 shows that the purpose of districting/apportionment of the sanggunian seats is to reduce the number of positions to be voted for in the May 11, 1992, synchronized elections and ensure the efficiency of electoral process. Considering that the single-district provinces and the municipalities in the Metro Manila Area, which are all single-districts, and under pars. (b) and (c) have already been apportioned into two (2) districts, they will henceforth be electing the members of their Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Sangguniang Bayan by district in the coming May 11, 1992, elections, although under par. (d), the single-district cities and all the municipalities outside the Metro Manila Area which are all likewise single-districts, will have to continue electing at large the members of their Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan as they have yet to be apportioned. But beginning the regular elections of 1995, they will all have to be elected by district. By then, COMELEC would have had enough time to apportion the single-district cities and the municipalities outside the Metro Manila Area.

WHEREAS, the established criteria/guidelines in the determination of the district apportionment are as follows: a. compactness, contiguity and adjacentness of territory; b. apportionment shall be based on the 1990 census of population; c. no municipality, in the case of provinces, and no barangay, in the case of cities and municipalities, shall be fragmented or apportioned into different districts.

As they now stand in relation to the districting/apportionment of local government units for purposes of election under Sec. 3 of R.A. 7166, it is clear that: (1) for provinces with two (2) or more legislative districts contemplated in par. (a), they shall

continue to be elected by district; (2) for provinces with single legislative districts, as they have already been apportioned into two (2) districts each under par. (b), they shall henceforth be elected likewise by district; (3) for cities with two (2) or more legislative districts, e.g., the cities of Manila, Cebu and Davao, they shall also continue to be elected by district under the first part of par. (c); and (4) for the thirteen (13) municipalities in the Metro Manila Area, which have already been apportioned into two (2) districts each under the second proviso of par. (c), they shall likewise be elected by district in the regular elections of May 11, 1992.


Narvasa, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero and Nocon, JJ., concur.

Footnotes Then, that should leave us the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the single-district cities and the Sangguniang Bayan of the municipalities outside Metro Manila, which remain singledistricts not having been ordered apportioned under Sec. 3 of R.A. 7166. They will have to continue to be elected at large in the May 11, 1992, elections, although starting 1995 they shall all be elected by district to effect the full implementation of the letter and spirit of R.A. 7166. That is the true import of par. (d). Consequently, as We view it, where he stands, petitioner must fall.

1 Sanidad v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. L-44640, October 12, 1976, 73 SCRA 333; Municipality of Malabang v. Benito, G.R. No. L-28113, March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 533.

G.R. No. 100318, July 30, 1991, 199 SCRA 750.

WHEREFORE, finding no abuse of discretion, much less grave, on the part of respondent, and for lack of merit, the instant petition is DISMISSED. No costs.

3 R.A. 7166 was approved only on November 26, 1991, when the President signed it into law, although it was passed by Congress on November 18, 1991, or before COMELEC promulgated its Resolution No. 2313.


4 De Jesus v. City of Manila, 29 Phil. 73 [1914]; Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Filipinas De Seguros; 107 Phil. 1055 [1960]; Garcia v. Ambler, 4 Phil. 81 [1904]; McMicking v. Lichauco, 27 Phil. 386 [1914].

5 LVN Pictures, Inc. v. Phil. Musicians Guild, 110 Phil. 725 [1961]; People v. Purisima, G.R. No. 52050, November 20, 1978, 86 SCRA 542; Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Filipina Compania De Seguros, 107 Phil. 1055 [1960].

Rivera v. Campbell, 34 Phil. 348 [1916].

7 Muoz & Co. v. Hord, 12 Phil. 624 [1909]; Ty Sue v. Hord, 12 Phil. 485 [1909]; Sarcos v. Castillo, G.R. No. 29755, January 31, 1969, 26 SCRA 853; Republic Flour Mills. Inc. v. Commissioner of Customs, G.R. No. L-28463, May 31, 1971, 39 SCRA 269; People v. Gatchalian, 104 Phil. 664 [1958]).

8 Manila Lodge No. 761 v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L41001, September 30, 1976, 73 SCRA 162.