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19 Phil. 555

[ G.R. No. 6412, August 14, 1911 ]




The principal question involved in this appeal is one of fact,  and on a review of the  very conflicting evidence of record we are unable to make an affirmative finding that the trial court erred in its findings of fact, or that its judgment is not sustained by the weight  of the evidence.

It appears from the record, that after the various parties had introduced their evidence and the  case had been submitted to the  trial  court, the judge, apparently  of  his own motion, issued an order  directing the various objectors to submit plans of the parcels of land to which each  of them laid claim, and that thereafter, upon their failure to submit these plans within the time allowed by him for that purpose, he entered a formal order dismissing the opposition to the registry entered by these objectors.   To this order of dismissal the objectors excepted.  They also excepted to various orders declining  to extend the time  for the filing of  the plans as directed in the original order,  and to an  order denying a new trial prayed for by them for the  purpose of introducing into the record plans such as had been called for in the  original  order.  The action of the trial court in denying these  various motions and in dismissing the opposition to the registry entered by the opponents  is here assigned as error.

It  appears,   however,  that notwithstanding the formal order dismissing the opposition of appellants, the trial court when it  came  to render  judgment, practically disregarded this order and treated it  rather as  an order closing the period, allowed at the trial for the production of evidence, and denying to the objectors  any further  opportunity  to introduce additional evidence.   In rendering judgment, the trial judge reviewed all the evidence submitted by the appellants, and gave judgment precisely as though no order of dismissal had been entered.

Under all the circumstances, we  are of opinion that as far as the filing of dismissal order, and the order denying a new trial can be said to be error, it was error without prejudice and not such error as would justify a reversal.

Doubtless, the order dismissing the opposition entered by appellants would have been reversible error had the evidence already submitted been sufficient to sustain the opposition entered by appellants, and had the court below declined to examine this evidence and give it due weight in rendering final judgment.

The mere failure of an objector to the registry of land to produce evidence of a particular kind which may be  called for by the trial judge is not a ground  for dismissal of his opposition, and  if there is other competent evidence in the record which sustains his  contention it is the duty of the court to render judgment in  accordance therewith.  The party failing to produce the evidence called for does so at the risk that this evidence may be essential to his case; and further at the risk of punishment for his failure to obey the order of the court in a case where such punishment would be appropriately inflicted - but not at the  risk  that regardless, of the other  evidence in the record, his  case will  be dismissed on the sole ground of his failure to produce the particular  evidence called for.

In the case at  bar however, the trial  court practically disregarded the  dismissal order and entered judgment substantially as though that order had never been entered, so that as a matter of fact, the appellants do not appear to have suffered  any substantial  injury as  a result of  its entry. Their brief in this case discusses  the evidence  of record and the case made by them in the court below, substantially as though  no dismissing order had ever been entered, and indeed it seems to have been treated both in the court  below and in the proceedings on this appeal, as though it were no more than a mere order closing the trial in the court below in due form.

As to the orders declining to extend the time  in which the  plans  in question were  ordered  to be submitted,  and declining to grant a new trial to give the objectors an opportunity  to introduce such  plans, it might,  perhaps, be sufficient to say that such orders were  peculiarly  in  the discretion  of the trial court,  and in the absence of proof of abuse of this discretion, they were not subject to exception. We may observe further, however, that the opposition  had in fact rested its case and submitted its evidence some time before these plans were  called for, so that it could  hardly complain if no opportunity had ever been given to produce these plans.  Still less is there a well-founded source of complaint merely because, as appellants allege, the time was not long enough; and in truth, it is very clear from the evidence regularly introduced at  the  trial,  that the production of these plans could in no wise  have affected the result.  The precise location of the various tracts of land claimed by the appellants  by relation one to  another, could, in no  aspect of the  case, have  any effect on the judgment rendered in favor of the applicant for the registry of the entire tract; and  assuming that these plans were actually in the record, and before us on this appeal,  it would still be incumbent on us to affirm the judgment of the  court below  on grounds wholly independent of the location  within the  principal tract of  the various parcels of land claimed  by the  objectors.   Clearly a final  judgment  should not  be  reversed merely to give parties an opportunity to introduce evidence which could in no  wise affect  the judgment already rendered.

The judgment of the court below  should be and is  affirmed, with the costs of this instance against the appellants.

Torres, Mapa, Johnson, and Moreland, JJ., concur.