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[CivPro] | [Counterclaim and crossclaim] 1

[jmcd]

Cruz-Agana v Santiago-Lagman
[GR NO. 139018] | [11 April 2005] | [Carpio, J.]
Petitioner: Estherlita Cruz-Agana
Respondents: Hon. Judge Aurora Santiago-Lagman and B. Serrano Enterprises, Inc.

CASE SUMMARY
Petitioner Estherlita Cruz-Agana filed a complaint for annulment of title with prayer for preliminary
mandatory injunction, claiming that as the sole heir of one Teodorico Cruz, she is the sole owner of a
lot which was fraudulently sold to Eugenio Lopez and was later transferred to respondent B. Serrano
Enterprises. When respondent filed an answer with compulsory counterclaim, petitioner moved for
its dismissal for lack of a certificate of non-forum shopping. TC denied the motion, saying that since
the respondent’s counterclaim is compulsory, it is thus excluded from the coverage of Sec 5, Rule 7. In
her motion for reconsideration, petitioner invoked the mandatory nature of a certificate of non-forum
shopping under SC Admin Circular No. 04-94. TC then reversed its order and dismissed the
counterclaim. However, respondent seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the SC
ruling in Santo Tomas University Hospital v Surla already held that the Admin Circular does not apply
to compulsory counterclaims. TC again reversed itself. Petition for certiorari filed with the SC.

FACTS
 Petitioner filed a Complaint for annulment of title with prayer for preliminary mandatory
injunction
 Petitioner claims that as the sole heir of Teodorico Cruz, she is the sole owner of a
lot covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-3907
 Said lot was fraudulently sold to Eugenio Lopez, Jr who later transferred the lot to
respondent B. Serrano Enterprises.
 Respondent filed an Answer with compulsory counterclaim.
 Petitioner moved to dismiss the counterclaim for lack of a certificate of non-forum
shopping.
 TC denied motion to dismiss. Respondent’s counterclaim is compulsory and is
therefore excluded from the coverage of Sec 5, Rule 7.
 Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the trial court’s Order, invoking the mandatory nature
of a certificate of non-forum shopping under SC Admin Circular No. 04-94.
 TC then reversed its order and dismissed the counterclaim for lack of a certificate of
non-forum shopping.
 Respondent appealed, arguing that the Admin Circular does not apply to compulsory
counterclaims, per the ruling in Sto. Tomas University Hospital v Surla.
 TC again reversed its order, holding that compulsory counterclaims do not require a
certificate of forum shopping, as held by the Court in Santo Tomas.

PROCEDURE SUMMARY

Action (Petition for review, appeal of CA decision Decision (RTC: petition denied)
etc.)
Complaint for annulment of title with prayer for RTC Branch 77 Malolos:
prelim mandatory injunction
Respondent filed an answer with compulsory
counterclaim
Petitioner: motion to dismiss counterclaim for lack RTC: denied
of a certificate of non-forum shopping
Petitioner: motion for reconsideration RTC: granted, counterclaim dismissed
Respondent: motion for reconsideration RTC: granted, dismissal of counterclaim reversed.
Petition for certiorari to reverse RTC order SC: denied.

ISSUE and Ratio


1. WON the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in refusing to dismiss
respondent’s counterclaim NO
a. In Santo Tomas University Hospital v Surla, the Court already clarified that the Admin
Circular No. 04-94 is intended primarily to cover an initiatory pleading or an incipient
application of a party asserting a claim for relief. The distinction between a compulsory
and a permissive counterclaim is vital in the application of the circular.
b. The circular has not been contemplated to include a kind of claim which, by its very
nature as being auxiliary to the proceedings in the suit, can only be appropriately
pleaded in the answer and not remain outstanding for independent resolution where
the main case is pending. Sec 5, Rule 8 on the violation of the anti-forum shopping rule
as a cause for dismissal is predicated on the applicability of the need for a certification
against forum shopping. It does not include a claim which cannot be independently set
up.
c. Court in Ponciano v Judge Parentela, Jr reiterated this ruling. Admin Circular No. 04-94
applies to initiatory and similar pleadings. A compulsory counterclaim set up in the
answer is not an “initiatory” or similar pleading. The initiatory pleading is the plaintiff’s
complaint. A respondent has no choice but to raise a compulsory counterclaim the
moment the plaintiff files the complaint. It is a reaction or response, mandatory upon
pain of waiver, to an initiatory pleading which is the complaint.

2. WON the Court’s rulings in Santo Tomas and Ponciano are contrary to the mandate of
Admin Circular No. 04-94 and other procedural laws NO because the Court has the
power to promulgate rules as expressly bestowed by the Constitution
a. Procedural matters are within the sole jurisdiction of the Court to prescribe.
Administrative Circular No. 04-94 is an issuance of the Court and not an enactment of
the Legislature. This Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to interpret, amend or revise
the rules it promulgates, as long as the rules do not diminish, increase, or modify
substantive rights. This is precisely the purpose of Santo Tomas as far as
Administrative Circular No. 04-94 is concerned.
b. The basis for the ruling in Santo Tomas and Ponciano is the distinction between a
permissive counterclaim and a compulsory counterclaim. If it is a permissive
counterclaim, the lack of a certificate of non-forum shopping is fatal. If it is a compulsory
counterclaim, the lack of a certificate of non-forum shopping is immaterial.
c. A compulsory counterclaim is any claim for money or other relief, which a defending
party may have against an opposing party, which at the time of suit arises out of, or is
necessarily connected with, the same transaction or occurrence that is the subject
matter of plaintiff's complaint. It is compulsory in the sense that it is within the
jurisdiction of the court, does not require for its adjudication the presence of third
parties over whom the court cannot acquire jurisdiction, and will be barred in the
future if not set up in the answer to the complaint in the same case. Any other
counterclaim is permissive.
d. The counterclaim set up by respondent arises from the filing of plaintiff’s complaint.
The counterclaim is so intertwined with the main case that it is incapable of proceeding
independently. The counterclaim will require a relitigation of the same evidence if it is
allowed to proceed in a separate action.
[CivPro] | [Counterclaim and crossclaim] 3
[jmcd]

DECISION.
 Petition denied. RTC order recalling the order which dismissed the compulsory
counterclaim is affirmed.

APPENDIX
DIGESTER’S NOTES / TABLES/ ILLUSTRATIONS

Respondent's counterclaim as set up in its answer states:

3. That because of the unwarranted, baseless, and unjustified acts of the plaintiff, herein
defendant has suffered and continue to suffer actual damages in the sum of at
least P400,000,000.00 which the law, equity, and justice require that to be paid by the plaintiff
and further to reimburse the attorney's fees of P2,000,000.00;