[ G.R. No. 12173, September 18, 1916 ]
JUAN GRECIA ET AL., PETITIONERS, VS. FERNANDO SALAS, JUDGE OF THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.
D E C I S I O N
The petitioners herein made the various "motions" presented in the Court of First Instance by means of exhibits, a part of the petition herein. From an examination of the various petitions and answers presented in the said respective causes, we find that the following persons were protestants and defendants in said causes Nos. 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, and 1013.
- The petitioner herein, Crispino Gabarda, was the protestant in said cause No. 1003, and the respondent herein, Tomas Avendano, was the defendant.
- The petitioner herein, Juan Grecia, was the protestant in cause No. 1004, and the respondent herein, Celedonio Guarin, was the defendant.
- The petitioner herein, Tomas Guardian, was the protestant in cause No. 1005, and the respondent herein, Felicisimo Minguez, was the defendant.
- The petitioners herein, Simeon Escultura, Ignacio Groyon, Pampilo Guab, Donato Grino, Fermin Brogada, Geronimo Guamil, and Sebastian Griarte were the protestants in cause No. 1006, and the respondents herein, Genaro Grafs Ida, Carlos Guevarra, Juan Guerrero, Filemon Brioso, Telesforo Manania, Bonifacio Mangarin and Timoteo Borco were the defendants.
- The petitioner herein, Alberto Escurel, was the protestant in cause No. 1013, and the respondent herein, Valentin Fajardo, was the defendant.
In each of said causes (Nos. 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, and 1013) the respective defendants presented an answer in which they prayed that the "motion" be dismissed, for the reason that the same had not been signed by the respective protestants personally.
In each of said causes the respondent judge, the Honorable Fernando Salas, upon a consideration of said motion dismissed each of said "motions," for the reason that the same had not been signed by the respective protestants personally.
The order of the lower court in each of said causes was substantially the same. Each of said causes was dismissed by the lower court for the reason above stated, upon the 31st of July, 1916. For the reason above stated, the court refused to decide said protests upon their merits.
On the 26th of August, 1916, the present petition for the writ of mandamus was presented in this court.
On the 28th of August, 1916, this court issued an order directed to each of the respondents to show cause why the writ of mandamus should not issue.
On the 30th of August, 1916, the Attorney-General, in representation of the respondent judge, presented a demurrer to said petition, "on the ground that several actions have been improperly joined or there is an erroneous joinder in the complaint of parties-plaintiff and parties-defendant, inasmuch as it clearly appears therein that none of the petitioners is interested in obtaining the relief sought by the rest, and none of the respondents has any interest opposed to that of all the petitioners, nor is he a necessary party to a determination or complete settlement of the issues raised between the petitioners and the other respondents."
In support of his demurrer the Attorney-General cites the case of Santos vs. Limuco (5 Phil. Rep., 15). In addition to the argument found in said case (Santos vs. Limuco, supra), the Attorney-General says:
"It is a well-settled rule of law that, in the absence of any legal provision to the contrary, separate and distinct rights, either of a single person or of several persons, respectively, can not be joined to make them effective in a single action for mandamus, whether the different duties correlative to the said rights be incumbent upon a single person, or whether on several persons respectively," and cites a number of decisions of the Supreme Courts of the different States in support of his contention.
The other respondents did not answer the petition.
As it appears from the above statement of facts, the petitioners herein were the protestants in five different protests presented in the Court of First Instance; some of them were protestants in one and some of them in others of the five different protests. The respondents were the defendants in the said five different protests, some of them in one and some of them in others of the different protests. In other words, they were protestants and defendants in separate actions in the court below, as indicated in paragraphs numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 above. Being, in fact, separate protestants and defendants, in separate and distinct actions in the court below, as above indicated, may they, under the facts in the present case, be united now in one action in this court? The remedy which each of the petitioners is seeking in this court is the writ of mandamus to compel the lower court to reinstate his particular action and to proceed to hear the same upon its merits. The remedy which each of the petitioners is seeking in this court is analogous to that which each of the other petitioners is seeking. But, while the remedy is analogous, it is not the same remedy. Each of the plaintiffs, as indicated in said numbered paragraphs above, is seeking to have his particular cause reinstated in the court below. May parties join as plaintiffs in a single action, simply because they are each seeking the same kind of a remedy? Is the fact that different parties are seeking analogous remedies sufficient to justify their joining in one petition?
The action to obtain the writ of mandamus in this jurisdiction is considered an ordinary action. The rule, therefore, as to the joinder of parties in ordinary actions should be adopted, both as to plaintiffs and defendants. The general rule as to the joinder of parties-plaintiff is that they must all be interested in the centering point in issue in the case. They must have a common point of litigation. They must also have a common interest in the judgment which they are seeking. If the interest which each of them is seeking is distinct and separate, even though analogous, they should not be joined as plaintiffs.
It has been frequently decided that when the interest of several relators seeking redress by mandamus are separate and independent, even though analogous, they cannot join in one and the same petition. They should commence their actions separately. (King vs. City of Chester, 5 Modern Reports, 10; Hoxie vs. Commissioners of Somerset, 25 Maine, 333.) For example, when different members of a city council who have been removed from their offices seek by mandamus to be reinstated, they cannot all join in one writ, since their interests are several and independent. A joint judgment cannot be awarded them. (King vs. City of Chester, supra.) Persons having several and distinct interests cannot join in an application for the writ of mandamus. (State vs. Simmons, 50 Atlantic Reporter, 213; Dobbs vs. Stauffer, 24 Kansas, 127; People vs. Morgan, 89 N. Y. Supplement, 832; Goodwyn vs. Sherer, 145 Ala., 501; 26 Cyc, 408.)
While the petitioners herein are the protestants in the five causes commenced in the court below, as appears above, and each is seeking the remedy of mandamus, the remedy which each is seeking is not the same remedy. While the remedy is the same in form it is not the same in fact. Each is seeking to have the writ of mandamus issued, directing the lower court to reinstate his particular cause of action. The remedy which each seeks is the same in name and form, but necessarily different in fact. Some of the parties are seeking the writ of mandamus to have the lower court reinstate action No. 1003, while the other petitioners are seeking to have the actions in causes Nos. 1004, 1005, 1006, and 1013 reinstated. The order, if it should issue, therefore, directing the lower court to reinstate said causes, must necessarily be made with reference to each of the above numbered actions.
From the foregoing it would seem to be clear that the contention of the Attorney-General that there was an improper joinder of the parties-plaintiff, is tenable, and that the plaintiffs or protestants in the actions above referred to in paragraphs numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, should have commenced separate actions in this court for the remedy which they are now jointly seeking.
However, in view of the importance of the question presented and the urgency for a prompt determination of the same, we deem it inadvisable at this time to dismiss the present petition and to require the parties to present separate petitions as above indicated. We therefore proceed to a decision of the question presented by the petition.
The lower court dismissed each of said actions Nos. 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, and 1013 without considering the same upon their merits, upon the ground that the "motion" presented in said several causes had not been signed by the respective protestants personally. The lower court held that said "motion" could not be signed by the attorney of the protestant. That question has heretofore been discussed and decided by this court in the case of De Castro vs. Salas and Santiago (ante, p. 818.) We deem it unnecessary to rediscuss that question here. Reference is hereby made to the decision in that case. For the reasons stated in the case of De Castro vs. Salas (supra) it is hereby ordered and decreed that an order be issued out of this court to the respondent judge, Fernando Salas, directing and requiring him to set aside and to annul his order heretofore rendered in each of said causes above enumerated, Nos. 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, and 1013, in which he dismissed the actions of the respective petitioners, and to reinstate said actions and to proceed to try said causes upon their merits. And without any finding as to costs. It is so ordered.
Torres and Araullo, JJ., concur.
Moreland, J., dissents.
Trent, J., see concurring opinion.
In view of the fact that the only question raised by the petition or complaint is purely one of law, in the solution of which each of the plaintiffs is equally interested and the rights of each plaintiff will be affected in the same manner thereby, and taking into consideration that the Legislature intended that election protests should be dispatched without delay, I am of the opinion that there is no such misjoinder of parties as will in any way prejudice the rights of the respondents or which would prevent this court from deciding the question of law and making its decision applicable to each case. I therefore concur in the disposition of this case.