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G.R.No.199501.March6,2013.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the


REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, REGION III,
petitioner, vs. HEIRS OF ENRIQUE ORIBELLO, JR. and THE
REGISTEROFDEEDSOFOLONGAPOCITY,respondents.

Remedial Law Civil Procedure Final Order and Interlocutory


Order,Distinguished.Afinalorderisdefinedasonewhichdisposesof
the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a particular proceeding or
action,leavingnothingelsetobedonebuttoenforcebyexecutionwhathas
beendeterminedbythecourt.Conversely,aninterlocutoryorderdoesnot
disposeofthecasecompletelybutleavessomethingtobedecideduponby
the court. Its effects are merely provisional in character and substantial
proceedings have to be further conducted by the court in order to finally
resolvetheissueorcontroversy.
Same Same Actions Dismissal of Actions Delay in Rendering
Decision To be a sufficient ground for dismissal, delay must not only be
lengthy but also unnecessary resulting in the trifling of court processes.
Based on the records, petitioner has presented testimonial evidence on
various hearing dates and marked numerous documents during the trial of
Civil Case No. 225092. Such acts do not manifest lack of interest to
prosecute. Admittedly there was delay in this case. However, such delay is
not the delay warranting dismissal of the complaint. To be a sufficient
ground for dismissal, delay must not only be lengthy but also unnecessary
resulting in the trifling of court processes. There is no proof that petitioner
intended to delay the proceedings in this case, much less abuse judicial
processes.
Same Same Same Consolidation of Cases Consolidation is a
proceduraldevicetoaidthecourtindecidinghowcasesinitsdocketareto
be tried so that the business of the court may be dispatched expeditiously
andwitheconomywhileprovidingjusticetothepar

_______________

*SECONDDIVISION.

646
646 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED

Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

ties.Consolidationisaproceduraldevicetoaidthecourtindecidinghow
cases in its docket are to be tried so that the business of the court may be
dispatched expeditiously and with economy while providing justice to the
parties. To promote this end, the rule allows the consolidation and a single
trial of several cases in the courts docket, or the consolidation of issues
within those cases. The Court explained, thus: In the context of legal
procedure, the term consolidation is used in three different senses: (1)
Whereallexceptoneofseveralactionsarestayeduntiloneistried,inwhich
casethejudgmentintheonetrialisconclusiveastotheothers.Thisisnot
actually consolidation but is referred to as such. (quasiconsolidation) (2)
Whereseveralactionsarecombinedintoone,losetheirseparateidentity,and
become a single action in which a single judgment is rendered. This is
illustratedbyasituationwhereseveralactionsarependingbetweenthesame
parties stating claims which might have been set out originally in one
complaint.(actualconsolidation)(3)Whereseveralactionsareorderedtobe
triedtogetherbuteachretainsitsseparatecharacterandrequirestheentryof
aseparatejudgment.Thistypeofconsolidationdoesnotmergethesuitsinto
a single action, or cause the parties to one action to be parties to the other.
(consolidationfortrial)
SameSameSameSameAppealsSinceeachactiondoesnotloseits
distinctcharacter,severanceofoneactionfromtheotherisnotnecessaryto
appeal a judgment already rendered in one action. There is no rule or law
prohibitingtheappealofajudgmentorpartofajudgmentinonecasewhich
is consolidated with other cases.Since each action does not lose its
distinctcharacter,severanceofoneactionfromtheotherisnotnecessaryto
appeal a judgment already rendered in one action. There is no rule or law
prohibitingtheappealofajudgmentorpartofajudgmentinonecasewhich
is consolidated with other cases. Further, severance is within the sound
discretion of the court for convenience or to avoid prejudice. It is not
mandatory under the Rules of Court that the court sever one case from the
othercasesbeforeapartycanappealanadverserulingonsuchcase.

PETITIONforreviewoncertiorariofthedecisionandresolutionof
theCourtofAppeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.

647

VOL.692,MARCH6,2013 647
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

OfficeoftheSolicitorGeneralforpetitioner.
LourdesI.DeDiosforrespondents.
CARPIO,J.:
TheCase
Thispetitionforreview assailsthe29April2011Decision2and
1

16November2011Resolution3oftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.
CVNo.90559.TheCourtofAppealsdeniedpetitionerRepublicof
thePhilippines(petitioner)appealoftheOrderoftheRegionalTrial
Court, Olongapo City, Branch 72,4 which dismissed petitioners
actionforreversionandcancellationofOriginalCertificateofTitle
(OCT)No.P5004inthenameofEnriqueOribello,Jr.(Oribello).
TheFacts
The present controversy involves a parcel of land situated in
Nagbaculao,Kalaklan,OlongapoCity,whichwasonceclassifiedas
forestlandbytheBureauofForestDevelopment.Thepropertywas
originally occupied by a certain Valentin Fernandez (Valentin) in
1968 by virtue of a Residential Permit issued by the same
governmentoffice.
Upon Valentins death, his son, Odillon Fernandez (Odillon),
continuedtooccupytheproperty,togetherwithspousesRupertoand
MatildeApog.Sometimein1969,Odillonsold

_______________
1UnderRule45oftheRulesofCourt.
2 Rollo, pp. 4653. Penned by Associate Justice Franchito N. Diamante, and
concurredinbyAssociateJusticesJosefinaGuevaraSalongaandMariflorP.Punzalan
Castillo.
3 Id., at pp. 5556. Penned by Associate Justice Franchito N. Diamante, and
concurredinbyAssociateJusticesJosefinaGuevaraSalongaandMariflorP.Punzalan
Castillo.
4Id.,atpp.6162.PennedbyActingPresidingJudgeJosefinaD.Farrales.

648

648 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

thepropertytoacertainMrs.FlorentinaBalcitawho,lateron,sold
thesamepropertytoOribello.OribellofiledaMiscellaneousSales
Application with the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR), which denied the application since the land
remainedforestland.
On20February1987,thesubjectpropertywasdeclaredopento
dispositionunderthePublicLandAct.Thus,Oribellofiledanother
MiscellaneousSalesApplicationon6April1987.
On27March1990,theDirectorofLandsissuedanOrderforthe
issuance of a patent in favor of Oribello. On even date,
Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 12756 and OCT No. P5004 were
issuedtoOribello.

MatildeApog(Apog)andAliseoSanJuan(SanJuan),5claiming
MatildeApog(Apog)andAliseoSanJuan(SanJuan),5claiming
tobeactualoccupantsoftheproperty,protestedwiththeDENRthe
issuance of the sales patent and OCT in favor of Oribello. They
soughttheannulment of the sales patent, arguing that Oribello and
Land Inspector Dominador Laxa (Laxa) committed fraud and
misrepresentation in the approval of the Miscellaneous Sales
Application of Oribello. They alleged that Laxa submitted a false
reporttotheDirectorofLands,bystatingthattherewerenoother
claimantstothepropertyandthatOribellowastheactualoccupant
thereof,whenthecontrarywastrue.
After investigation, the Regional Executive Director of the
DENR found substantial evidence that fraud and misrepresentation
were committed in the issuance of the sales patent in favor of
Oribello,warrantingareversionsuit.
On 25 March 1992, the Office of the Solicitor General,
representing petitioner, instituted a complaint for reversion and
cancellation of title before the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo
City,docketedasCivilCaseNo.225092.Thecasewasthereafter
consolidatedwithCivilCaseNo.233091,acom

_______________
5Inotherpartsoftherecords,heisreferredtoasEliseoSanJuan.

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VOL.692,MARCH6,2013 649
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

plaintforrecoveryofpossessionfiledbyOribelloagainstApogand
SanJuan.
During the trial, petitioner marked numerous documentary
evidenceandpresentedseveralwitnessesonvarioushearingdates.6
In an Order dated 20 December 1996, the trial court warned
petitioner on the possible effect of its nonappearance on the next
scheduledhearing,thus:

WHEREFORE, let the continuation of the reception of evidence for the


RepublicofthePhilippinesberesettoFebruary14,21and28,1997,allat
10:00oclockinthemorning,aspreviouslyscheduled.
TheSolicitorGeneraliswarnedthatshouldhisdesignatedlawyeror
anyofhisassistantsfailtoappearonthedatesabovestated,theCourt
will be constrained to consider the presentation of evidence for the
RepublicofthePhilippinesasterminated.
Atty. Dumpit, therefore, is advised that he bring his witnesses on said
datestotestifyforthedefendantsMatildeApogandEliseoSanJuanshould
theSolicitorGeneralfailtoappearandpresentevidence.
xxxx
SOORDERED.7(Emphasissupplied)
Onthehearingof4April1997,Atty.OscarPascua,representing
petitioner,presentedawitnessonthestand.
Forpetitionersfailuretoappearonthehearingof12September
1997, the trial court issued an Order8 on even date holding as
follows:

_______________
615July1994,14October1994,16February1996,13September1996,6December
1996,and4April1997.
7Rollo,pp.368369.
8PennedbyJudgeLeopoldoT.Calderon,Jr.

650

650 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

OnJuly25,1997,thisCourtissuedanOrder,quotedasfollows:
xxxx
Onseveral occasions when these cases were set for trial, neither
Atty. Barcelo nor Atty. Pascua appeared, constraining the Court to
postponethehearing.Theactuationsofbothlawyersresulttodelayin
the early termination of these cases which have been pending since
1992.
xxxx
WHEREFORE,the Republic of the Philippines is hereby deemed to
haveabandonedthecaseforthegovernment.
Attorney Dumpit for the defendant Matilde Apog, et al., is hereby
requiredtomanifestinwritingonwhetherornotheisadoptingtheevidence
alreadypresentedbytheRepublicofthePhilippines,andifso,tomakehis
offer of evidence within 30 days from today. Atty. Leyco is given 10 days
fromreceiptofacopyofhisoffertofilehiscommentoropposition.Letthe
receptionofevidence,iftherebeanyonanypartofEnriqueOribello,beset
onOctober24,1997at10:00a.m.aspreviouslyscheduled.Andinaddition
theretoonNovember21,andDecember 5, 1997 also both at 10:00 a.m. To
give way to the filing of these pleadings, cancel the hearing scheduled for
October3,1997.
Upon receipt of proof from the Post Office by this Court which will
showthatAtty.PascuahasreceivedacopyoftheOrderdatedJuly25,1997,
theMotiontoholdhimincontemptwillbedeemedsubmittedforresolution.
Furnish Atty. Barcelo, the Solicitor General, the Executive Regional
Director,DENR,RIII,AngelesCity,andAtty.OscarPascua,acopyofthis
Order. Attys. Dumpit and Leyco are both notified in open court of this
Order.
SOORDERED.9

Thetrialoftheconsolidatedcasescontinuedandthereceptionof
evidenceoftheprivatepartiesproceeded.
However, in its Order of 21 February 2005, the trial court
dismissedtheconsolidatedcaseswithoutprejudicefornon

_______________
9Rollo,pp.5759.

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VOL.692,MARCH6,2013 651
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

substitution of the deceased plaintiff (Oribello) and his counsel, to


wit:

Considering that the plaintiffs counsel is already dead, and the plaintiff
islikewisedeadalready,therebeingnosubstitutionofpartyplaintiffsorany
record showing the heirs or party in interest, these cases are dismissed
withoutprejudice.10

Petitioner moved for reconsideration, contending that the Order


applied exclusively to Civil Case No. 233091 (for recovery of
possession) and did not affect Civil Case No. 225092 (for
reversionofproperty).Petitionerprayedthatitbeallowedtopresent
itsevidence.
Acting favorably on the motion, the trial court allowed the
continuationofthepresentationofpetitionersevidenceinitsOrder
dated29June2005.11
Aggrieved, Oribellos heirs filed a Manifestation and Motion,
bringingtotheattentionofthetrialcourttheprevious12September
1997 Order declaring petitioner to have abandoned the reversion
case. Oribellos heirs pointed out that from the time petitioner
received the Order in 1997, it did nothing to question the same,
makingtheOrderfinal.
In its Resolution of 12 July 2006, the trial court recalled its 29
June2005Order,anddeclaredinstead:

Finding merit in defendants Motion and Manifestation, the Order dated


29June2005grantingtheMotionforReconsiderationfiledbytheSolicitor
GeneralisrecalledandtheaboveentitledcaseisDISMISSED.
SORESOLVED.12

PetitionerappealedtotheCourtofAppeals.

_______________
10Id.,atp.60.
11Id.,atp.67.
12Id.,atp.62.PennedbyActingJudgeJosefinaD.Farrales.

652
652 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

TheRulingoftheCourtofAppeals
The Court of Appeals denied petitioners appeal. The Court of
Appeals held that the remedy of appeal is no longer available to
petitioner. The appellate court agreed with respondents that
petitionerhaslostitsrighttoparticipateintheproceedingsofCivil
Case No. 225092 when it failed to question the trial courts 12
September1997Order,declaringittohaveabandonedthecase.Asa
consequence of petitioners inaction, such order inevitably became
final.
Moreover,theCourtofAppealsruledthatpetitionerisbarredby
lachesandestoppelforfailingtochallengethe12September1997
Orderafteralmostadecadefromreceiptthereof.Theappellatecourt
statedthatwhilethegeneralruleisthatanactiontorecoverlands
of public domain is imprescriptible, said right can be barred by
lachesorestoppel.
TheCourtofAppealsdisposedofthecaseasfollows:

WHEREFORE,theforegoingpremisesconsidered,theinstantappealis
herebyDENIEDforlackofmerit.
SOORDERED.13(Emphasisintheoriginal)

TheCourtofAppealsdeniedthemotionforreconsideration.
TheIssues
Petitioneranchorsthepresentpetitiononthefollowinggrounds:
1.Interlocutoryordersarenotsubjectofappeal.
2.The consolidated cases, without any order of severance,
cannotbesubjectofmultipleappeals.

_______________
13Id.,atp.53.

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VOL.692,MARCH6,2013 653
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

3.There can be no private ownership over an unclassified


publicforest.
TheRulingoftheCourt

Isthe12September1997Orderinterlocutory?
Petitionercontendsthatthe12September1997Orderofthetrial
court, deeming it to have abandoned the case, is interlocutory in
nature thus, is not appealable.14 Respondents argue otherwise,
maintaining that such Order is a dismissal of the complaint on the
ground of failure to prosecute which is, under the Rules,15
consideredanadjudicationonthemerits,andhenceappealable.

_______________
14Section1,Rule41oftheRulesofCourtprovides:
SECTION1.Subject of appeal.Anappeal may be taken from a judgment or
finalorderthatcompletelydisposesofthecase,orofaparticularmatterthereinwhen
declaredbytheseRulestobeappealable.
Noappealmaybetakenfrom:
xxxx
(c)Aninterlocutoryorder
xxxx
Inanyoftheforegoingcircumstances,theaggrievedpartymayfileanappropriate
specialcivilactionasprovidedinRule65.(Emphasissupplied)
15Section3,Rule17oftheRulesofCourtprovides:
SEC.3.Dismissal due to fault of plaintiff.If, for no justifiable cause, the
plaintifffailstoappearonthedateofthepresentationofhisevidenceinchiefonthe
complaint,ortoprosecutehisactionforanunreasonablelengthoftime,ortocomply
with these Rules or any order of the court, the complaint may be dismissed upon
motionofthedefendantoruponthecourtsownmotion,withoutprejudicetotheright
of the defendant to prosecute his counterclaim in the same or in a separate action.
This dismissal shall have the effect of an adjudication upon the merits, unless
otherwisedeclaredbythecourt.

654

654 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

Weagreewithpetitioner.
A final order is defined as one which disposes of the subject
matterinitsentiretyorterminatesaparticularproceedingoraction,
leavingnothingelsetobedonebuttoenforcebyexecutionwhathas
beendeterminedbythecourt.16
Conversely,aninterlocutoryorderdoesnotdisposeofthecase
completelybutleavessomethingtobedecidedupon17bythecourt.
Its effects are merely provisional in character and substantial
proceedings have to be further conducted by the court in order to
finallyresolvetheissueorcontroversy.18
Based on the records, petitioner has presented testimonial
evidenceonvarioushearingdatesandmarkednumerousdocuments
during the trial of Civil Case No. 225092. Such acts do not
manifestlackofinteresttoprosecute.Admittedlytherewasdelayin
thiscase.However,suchdelayisnotthedelaywarrantingdismissal
ofthecomplaint.Tobeasufficientgroundfordismissal,delaymust
notonlybelengthybutalsounnecessaryresultinginthetriflingof
courtprocesses.19Thereisnoproofthatpetitionerintendedtodelay
theproceedingsinthiscase,muchlessabusejudicialprocesses.
Whilepetitionerfailedtoappearonthehearingof12September
1997,suchfailuredoesnotconstituteagroundforthedismissalof
the reversion complaint for failure to prosecute. Petitioners non
appearanceonthatdateshouldsimplybe

_______________
16 RCBC v. Magwin Marketing Corp., 450 Phil. 720, 737 402 SCRA 592, 605
(2003).
17 Silverio, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 178933, 16 September 2009, 600
SCRA1,14,citingTanv.Republic,G.R.No.170740,25May2007,523SCRA203,
210211RCBCv.MagwinMarketingCorp.,supra.
18SpousesCarpov.Chua,508Phil.462,476471SCRA471,484(2005).
19Calalangv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.103185,22January1993,217SCRA462,
473.

655

VOL.692,MARCH6,2013 655
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

construedasawaiveroftherighttopresentadditionalevidence.20
We note that prior to the issuance of the 12 September 1997
Order,thetrialcourtalreadywarnedpetitioneronthelikelyadverse
effect of its nonappearance on the next hearing date. If petitioner
fails to attend the next scheduled hearing, the trial court would
consider petitioners presentation of evidence as terminated.
Terminationofpresentationofapartysevidencedoesnotequateto
dismissalofthecomplaintforfailuretoprosecute.Infact,thetrial
court merely deemed petitioner to have abandoned the case
without stating expressly and unequivocally that the complaint for
reversion was dismissed. Had the trial court declared, in no
uncertainterms,thatthereversionsuitwasdismissedforfailureto
prosecute, there is no doubt that petitioner would have questioned
such ruling, as it now did with respect to the trial courts 29 June
2005Order.
While it is within the trial courts discretion to dismiss motu
proprio the complaint on the ground of plaintiffs failure to
prosecute, it must be exercised with caution. Resort to such action
mustbedeterminedaccordingtotheproceduralhistoryofeachcase,
the situation at the time of the dismissal, and the diligence (or the
lackthereof)oftheplaintifftoproceedtherein.21AstheCourtheld

inGomezv.Alcantara,22ifalessersanctionwouldachievethesame
inGomezv.Alcantara,22ifalessersanctionwouldachievethesame
result,thendismissalshouldnotberesortedto.

Unless a partys conduct is so indifferent, irresponsible, contumacious or


slothfulastoprovidesubstantialgroundsfordismissal,i.e.,

_______________
20SeeSandovalv.HouseofRepresentativeElectoralTribunal,G.R.No.190067,9March
2010,614SCRA793,806Constantinov.CourtofAppeals,332Phil.68,75264SCRA59,
65(1996)Republicv.Sandiganbayan,325Phil.762,785255SCRA438,454(1996).
21Gomezv.Alcantara,G.R.No.179556,13February2009,579SCRA472,483.
22G.R.No.179556,13February2009,579SCRA472.

656

656 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

equivalent to default or nonappearance in the case, the courts should


consider lesser sanctions which would still amount to achieving the
desiredend. In the absence of a pattern or scheme to delay the disposition
of the case or of a wanton failure to observe the mandatory requirement of
the rules on the part of the plaintiff, as in the case at bar, courts should
decide to dispense with rather than wield their authority to dismiss.23
(Emphasissupplied)

Notably,thetrialcourt,evenafteritssupposeddismissalofthe
case for petitioners abandonment, continued to recognize
petitionerspersonalityinitsproceedings.Infact,initsOrderof16
January 1998, well beyond the dismissal on 12 September 1997,
the trial court directed the service of such order to the Solicitor
General,towit:

xxxx
Should Atty. Dumpit fail to submit the said offer of evidence, it will be
deemed a waiver on his part to do so. Atty. Leyco announced that he is
presenting evidence for and in behalf of the defendants Oribello in Civil
CaseNo.225092andasplaintiffinCivilCaseNo.233091.
To give way to the filing of said pleadings, cancel the hearing on
February 20, 1998. Let the reception of evidence for the plaintiff Oribellos
besetonMarch20,1998at9:00a.m.Attys.LeycoandDumpitarenotified
inopencourt.FurnishacopyofthisordertheSolicitorGeneral,DENR
OfficeinAngelesCity,aswellasAtty.Pascua.24(Emphasissupplied)

In addition, the above Order states that Oribellos counsel was


presentingevidenceonthetwoconsolidatedcases.Thismeansthat
Oribello himself continued to recognize the pendency of the
reversionsuit(CivilCaseNo.225092),contrarytohissubsequent
allegationthatsuchcasehasalreadybeendismissed.
_______________
23Id.,atp.484.
24Rollo,p.370.

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VOL.692,MARCH6,2013 657
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

Aretheconsolidatedcasessubjecttomultipleappeals?
Section1,Rule31oftheRulesofCourtprovides:

SECTION1.Consolidation.When actions involving a common


question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint
hearingortrialofanyorallthemattersinissueintheactionsitmayorder
all the actions consolidated, and it may make such orders concerning
proceedingsthereinasmaytendtoavoidunnecessarycostsordelay.

Consolidationisaproceduraldevicetoaidthecourtindeciding
how cases in its docket are to be tried so that the business of the
court may be dispatched expeditiously and with economy while
providing justice to the parties.25 To promote this end, the rule
allows the consolidation and a single trial of several cases in the
courts docket, or the consolidation of issues within those cases.26
TheCourtexplained,thus:

Inthecontextoflegalprocedure,thetermconsolidationisusedinthree
differentsenses:
(1)Whereallexceptoneofseveralactionsarestayeduntiloneistried,in
whichcasethejudgmentintheonetrialisconclusiveastotheothers.This
isnotactuallyconsolidationbutisreferredtoassuch.(quasiconsolidation)
(2)Where several actions are combined into one, lose their separate
identity,andbecomeasingleactioninwhichasinglejudgmentisrendered.
This is illustrated by a situation where several actions are pending between
the same parties stating claims which might have been set out originally in
onecomplaint.(actualconsolidation)
(3)Where several actions are ordered to be tried together but each retains
itsseparatecharacterandrequirestheentryofaseparatejudgment.Thistype
of consolidation does not merge the suits into a single action, or cause the
partiestooneactiontobepartiestotheother.(consolidationfortrial)27

_______________
25RepublicofthePhilippinesv.Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 152375, 13 December
2011,662SCRA152,190.
26Id.
27Id.,atpp.191192.
658

658 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

Inthepresentcase,thecomplaintforreversionfiledbypetitioner
(CivilCaseNo.225092)wasconsolidatedwiththecomplaintfor
recoveryofpossessionfiledbyOribello(CivilCaseNo.223091).
Whilethesetwocasesinvolvecommonquestionsoflawandfact,28
eachactionretainsitsseparateanddistinctcharacter.Thereversion
suit settles whether the subject land will be reverted to the State,
while the recovery of possession case determines which private
party has the better right of possession over the subject property.
These cases, involving different issues and seeking different
remedies,requiretherenditionandentryofseparatejudgments.The
consolidation is merely for joint trial of the cases. Notably, the
complaintforrecoveryofpossessionproceededindependentlyofthe
reversioncase,andwasdisposedofaccordinglybythetrialcourt.
Sinceeachactiondoesnotloseitsdistinctcharacter,severanceof
one action from the other is not necessary to appeal a judgment
already rendered in one action. There is no rule or law prohibiting
theappealofajudgmentorpartofajudgmentinonecasewhichis
consolidatedwithothercases.Further,severanceiswithinthesound
discretionofthecourtforconvenienceortoavoidprejudice.Itisnot
mandatory under the Rules of Court that the court sever one case
fromtheothercasesbeforeapartycanappealanadverserulingon
suchcase.
Isthepropertyunclassifiedpublicforest?
In its petition, petitioner contended that the subject property
remains unclassified public forest, incapable of private
appropriation. In its complaint, petitioner alleged that Oribello
committed fraud and misrepresentation in acquiring the subject
property.

_______________
28 These are whether the sales patent issued in favor of Oribello is valid and
whethertherewasfraudandmisrepresentationintheissuancethereof.

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VOL.692,MARCH6,2013 659
Republicvs.HeirsofEnriqueOribello,Jr.

This Court is not a trier of facts. Fraud is a question offact.29


Whethertherewasfraudandmisrepresentationintheissuanceofthe
sales patent in favor of Oribello calls for a thorough evaluation of
the parties evidence. Thus, this Court will have to remand the
reversion case to the trial court for further proceedings in order to
resolvethisissueandaccordinglydisposeofthecasebasedonthe
partiesevidenceonrecord.
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition IN PART and
SETSASIDEtheassailedDecisionandResolutionoftheCourtof
Appeals.Thereversioncaseisremandedtothetrialcourtforfurther
proceedings.Thetrialcourtisorderedtoresolvethereversioncase
withutmostdispatch.
SOORDERED.

Brion,DelCastillo,PerezandPerlasBernabe,JJ.,concur.

Petitiongrantedinpart,judgmentandresolutionsetaside.

Notes.Consolidation of cases, when proper, results in the


simplificationofproceedings,whichsavestime,theresourcesofthe
parties and the courts, and a possible major abbreviation of trial.
(VillaricaPawnshop,Inc.vs.Gernale,582SCRA67[2009])
It need not be underscored that consolidation of cases, when
proper,resultsinthesimplificationofproceedingswhichsavestime,
the resources of the parties and the courts, and a possible major
abbreviationoftrial.(Domdomvs.ThirdandFifthDivisionsofthe
Sandiganbayan,613SCRA528[2010])
o0o

_______________
29Sampacov.Lantud,G.R.No.163551,18July2011,654SCRA36,50Rementizo
v.HeirsofPelagiaVda.deMadarieta,G.R.No.170318,15January2009,576SCRA
109,117Esguerrav.Trinidad,G.R.No.169890,12March2007,518SCRA186,194.

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