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GSIS v Heirs of Fernando Caballero (2010)

Actions Payment of Docket Fees

Peralta, J.

SUMMARY: Caballero, who owned a building which was mortgaged for a loan, defaulted and the lot was put up for
public bidding by GSIS. He then sought to declare the sale to CMTC as null and void. GSIS filed a counterclaim for
the interests and rentals owed by Fernando. The SC held that the counterclaim was permissive which required the
payment of proper docket fees, which GSIS failed to do and resulted in the lack of jurisdiction of the RTC.

DOCTRINE: The rule in permissive counterclaims is that for the trial court to acquire jurisdiction, the counterclaimant
is bound to pay the prescribed docket fees. Failure to do so would result in the trial court not having acquired
jurisdiction to try and decide the counterclaim.

FACTS:

Respondent Fernando Caballero was the owner of a residential lot in Cotabato. On the lot, he built a
residential/commercial building two stories high.
On Mar. 7, 1968, he and his wife Sylvia secured a loan from GSIS in the amount of Php 20k evidenced by a
promissory note. They likewise executed a real estate mortgage on the same date on the property.
Fernando defaulted on the payment of his loan thus the mortgage was foreclosed and GSIS was awarded
the lot upon public auction. He failed to redeem it so a TCT was issued in the name of GSIS.
On Nov. 26, 1975, GSIS wrote to Fernando requesting payment of monthly rental since he still had occupied
the property. He requested that he be allowed to repurchase the same through partial payments.
Negotiations occurred but no agreement was ever reached.
On Jan. 16, 1989, GSIS had the building up for public building. Fernandos daughter Jocelyn submitted a bid
while Carmelita Mercantile Trading Corp (CMTC) also bid. The latter was the highest bidder and was
awarded the property through a Deed of Absolute Sale.
Fernando, through Jocelyn, then filed a complaint against CMTC and GSIS to declare the Deed of Absolute
Sale null and void and that her bid be declared as the winning bid.
o He alleged that there were irregularities in the conduct of the bidding. CMTC misrepresented itself
to be wholly-owned by Filipinos, its working capital, and its representatives authority to participate
in the bidding.
o GSIS also disregarded Fernandos prior right to buy back his family home and lot.
GSIS: Fernando lost his right of redemption; given the chance to repurchase but failed to do so
o Also no prior right to buy back that can be exercised by him
o Counterclaim alleging that Fernando owed it interests and rentals from 1973 to 1988
RTC: ruled in favor of GSIS Fernando to pay rentals paid by CMTC
CA: affirmed RTC

ISSUE/S:

WoN GSIS counterclaim is permissive: YES


o Tests devised by the SC to determine whether a counterclaim is compulsory or not:
(a) Are the issues of fact and law raised by the claim and by the counterclaim largely the
same?
(b) Would res judicata bar a subsequent suit on defendants claims, absent the compulsory
counterclaim rule?
(c) Will substantially the same evidence support or refute plaintiffs claim as well as the
defendants counterclaim?
(d) Is there any logical relation between the claim and the counterclaim?
o The evidence needed by Fernando to cause the annulment of the bid award, deed of absolute sale
and TCT is different from that required to establish petitioner's claim for the recovery of rentals.
o The issue in the main action, i.e., the nullity or validity of the bid award, deed of absolute sale and
TCT in favor of CMTC, is entirely different from the issue in the counterclaim which was whether
petitioner is entitled to receive the CMTC's rent payments over the subject property when petitioner
became the owner of the subject property by virtue of the consolidation of ownership of the
property in its favor.
o The rule in permissive counterclaims is that for the trial court to acquire jurisdiction, the
counterclaimant is bound to pay the prescribed docket fees. This, petitioner did not do, because it
asserted that its claim for the collection of rental payments was a compulsory counterclaim.
o Since petitioner failed to pay the docket fees, the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over its
permissive counterclaim. The judgment rendered by the RTC, insofar as it ordered Fernando to pay
petitioner the rentals which he collected from CMTC, is considered null and void.

WoN assuming the counterclaim is permissive, the trial court has jurisdiction to try and decide the same
since GSIS was exempted from all kinds of fees: NO
o In In Re: Petition for Recognition of the Exemption of the Government Service Insurance System
from Payment of Legal Fees, the Court ruled that the provision in the Charter of the GSIS, i.e.,
Section 39 of Republic Act No. 8291, which exempts it from all taxes, assessments, fees, charges
or duties of all kinds, cannot operate to exempt it from the payment of legal fees

HELD: Petition DENIED. CA decision AFFIRMED.