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[REMEGIO V. FLORES v. JUDGE HEILIA S. MALLARE-PHILLIPPS](http://lawyerly.ph/juris/view/c6b47?user=fbGU2WFpmaitMVEVGZ2lBVW5xZ2RVdz09)
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228 Phil. 360

SECOND DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 66620, September 24, 1986 ]

REMEGIO V. FLORES, PETITIONER, VS. HON. JUDGE HEILIA S. MALLARE-PHILLIPPS, IGNACIO BINONGCAL & FERNANDO CALION, RESPONDENTS.

D E C I S I O N

FERIA, J.:

The Court rules that the application of the totality rule under Section 33(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 and Section 11 of the Interim Rules is subject to the requirements for the permissive joinder of parties under Section 6 of Rule 3 which provides as follows:
"Permissive joinder of parties.  - All persons in whom or against whom any right to relief in respect to or arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions is alleged to exist, whether jointly, severally, or in the alternative, may, except as otherwise provided in these rules, join as plaintiffs or be joined as defendants in one complaint, where any question of law or fact common to all such plaintiffs or to all such defendants may arise in the action; but the court may make such orders as may be just to prevent any plaintiff or defendant from being embarrassed or put to expense in connection with any proceedings in which he may have no interest."
Petitioner has appealed by certiorari from the order of Judge Heilia S. Mallare-Phillipps of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City and Benguet Province which dismissed his complaint for lack of jurisdiction.  Petitioner did not attach to his petition a copy of his complaint in the erroneous belief that the entire original record of the case shall be transmitted to this Court pursuant to the second paragraph of Section 39 of BP 129.  This provision applies only to ordinary appeals from the regional trial court to the Court of Appeals (Section 20 of the Interim Rules).  Appeals to this Court by petition for review on certiorari are governed by Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (Section 25 of the Interim Rules).

However, the order appealed from states that the first cause of action alleged in the complaint was against respondent Ignacio Binongcal for refusing to pay the amount of P11,643.00 representing cost of truck tires which he purchased on credit from petitioner on various occasions from August to October, 1981; and the second cause of action was against respondent Fernando Calion for allegedly refusing to pay the amount of P10,212.00 representing cost of truck tires which he purchased on credit from petitioner on several occasions from March, 1981 to January, 1982.

On December 15, 1983, counsel for respondent Binongcal filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction since the amount of the demand against said respondent was only P11,643.00, and under Section 19(8) of BP 129 the regional trial court shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction if the amount of the demand is more than twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00).  It was further averred in said motion that although another person, Fernando Calion, was allegedly indebted to petitioner in the amount of P10,212.00, his obligation was separate and distinct from that of the other respondent.  At the hearing of said Motion to Dismiss, counsel for respondent Calion joined in moving for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.  Counsel for petitioner opposed the Motion to Dismiss.  As above stated, the trial court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.

Petitioner maintains that the lower court has jurisdiction over the case following the "novel" totality rule introduced in Section 33(1) of BP 129 and Section 11 of the Interim Rules.

The pertinent portion of Section 33(1) of BP 129 reads as follows:
"x x x Provided, That where there are several claims or causes of action between the same or different parties, embodied in the same complaint, the amount of the demand shall be the totality of the claims in all the causes of action, irrespective of whether the causes of action arose out of the same or different transactions  x x x."
Section 11 of the Interim Rules provides thus:
"Application of the totality rule.  - In actions where the jurisdiction of the court is dependent on the amount involved, the test of jurisdiction shall be the aggregate sum of all the money demands, exclusive only of interest and costs, irrespective of whether or not the separate claims are owned by or due to different parties.  If any demand is for damages in a civil action, the amount thereof must be specifically alleged."
Petitioner compares the above-quoted provisions with the pertinent portion of the former rule under Section 88 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 as amended which reads as follows:
"x x x Where there are several claims or causes of action between the same parties embodied in the same complaint, the amount of the demand shall be the totality of the demand in all the causes of action, irrespective of whether the causes of action arose out of the same or different transactions; but where the claims or causes of action joined in a single complaint are separately owned by or due to different parties, each separate claim shall furnish the jurisdictional test x x x"
and argues that with the deletion of the proviso in the former rule, the totality rule was reduced to clarity and brevity and the jurisdictional test is the totality of the claims in all, not in each, of the causes of action, irres­pective of whether the causes of action arose out of the same or different transactions.

This argument is partly correct.  There is no difference between the former and present rules in cases where a plaintiff sues a defendant on two or more separate causes of action.  In such cases, the amount of the demand shall be the totality of the claims in all the causes of action irrespective of whether the causes of action arose out of the same or different transactions.  If the total demand exceeds twenty thousand pesos, then the regional trial court has jurisdiction.  Needless to state, if the causes of action are separate and independent, their joinder in one complaint is permissive and not mandatory, and any cause of action where the amount of the demand is twenty thousand pesos or less may be the subject of a separate complaint filed with a metropolitan or municipal trial court.

On the other hand, there is a difference between the former and present rules in cases where two or more plaintiffs having separate causes of action against a defendant join in a single complaint.  Under the former rule, "where the claims or causes of action joined in a single complaint are separately owned by or due to different parties, each separate claim shall furnish the jurisdictional test" (Section 88 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 as amended, supra).  This was based on the ruling in the case of Vda. de Rosario vs. Justice of the Peace, 99 Phil. 693.  As worded, the former rule applied only to cases of permissive joinder of parties plaintiff.  However, it was also applicable to cases of permissive joinder of parties defendant, as may be deduced from the ruling in the case of Brillo vs. Buklatan, thus:
"Furthermore, the first cause of action is composed of separate claims against several defendants of different amounts each of which is not more than P2,000 and falls under the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court under section 88 of Republic Act No. 296.  The several claims do not seem to arise from the same transaction or series of transactions and there seem to be no questions of law or of fact common to all the defendants as may warrant their joinder under Rule 3, section 6.  Therefore, if new complaints are to be filed in the name of the real party in interest they should be filed in the justice of the peace court." (87 Phil. 519, 520, reiterated in Gacula vs. Martinez, 88 Phil. 142, 146)
Under the present law, the totality rule is applied also to cases where two or more plaintiffs having separate causes of action against a defendant join in a single complaint, as well as to cases where a plaintiff has separate causes of action against two or more defendants joined in a single complaint.  However, the causes of action in favor of the two or more plaintiffs or against the two or more defendants should arise out of the same transaction or series of transactions and there should be a common question of law or fact, as provided in Section 6 of Rule 3.

The difference between the former and present rules in cases of permissive joinder of parties may be illustrated by the two cases which were cited in the case of Vda. de Rosario vs. Justice of the Peace (supra) as exceptions to the totality rule.  In the case of Soriano y Cia vs. Jose (86 Phil. 523), where twenty-nine dismissed employees joined in a complaint against the defendant to collect their respective claims, each of which was within the jurisdiction of the municipal court, although the total exceeded the jurisdictional amount, this Court held that under the law then the municipal court had jurisdiction.  In said case, although the plaintiffs' demands were separate, distinct and independent of one another, their joint suit was authorized under Section 6 of Rule 3 and each separate claim furnished the jurisdictional test.  In the case of International Colleges, Inc. vs. Argonza (90 Phil. 470), where twenty-five dismissed teachers jointly sued the defendant for unpaid salaries, this Court also held that the municipal court had jurisdiction because the amount of each claim was within, although the total exceeded, its jurisdiction and it was a case of permissive joinder of parties plaintiff under Section 6 of Rule 3.

Under the present law, the two cases above cited (assuming they do not fall under the Labor Code) would be under the jurisdiction of the regional trial court.  Similarly, in the above-cited cases of Brillo vs. Buklatan and Gacula vs. Martinez (supra), if the separate claims against the several defendants arose out of the same transaction or series of transactions and there is a common question of law or fact, they would now be under the jurisdiction of the regional trial court.

In other words, in cases of permissive joinder of parties, whether as plaintiffs or as defendants, under Section 6 of Rule 3, the total of all the claims shall now furnish the jurisdictional test.  Needless to state also, if instead of joining or being joined in one complaint separate actions are filed by or against the parties, the amount demanded in each complaint shall furnish the jurisdictional test.

In the case at bar, the lower court correctly held that the jurisdictional test is subject to the rules on joinder of parties pursuant to Section 5 of Rule 2 and Section 6 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court and that after a careful scrutiny of the complaint, it appears that there is a misjoinder of parties for the reason that the claims against respondents Binongcal and Calion are separate and distinct and neither of which falls within its jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, Alampay, Gutierrez, Jr., and Paras, JJ., concur.

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