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[ GR No. 43550, Nov 27, 1936 ]



63 Phil. 797

[ G. R. No. 43550, November 27, 1936 ]




Before  any evidence was presented in civil  case No. 6390 of the Court  of  First Instance of Occidental  Negros, entitled  "Segundo Monteblanco, plaintiff, vs. The Hinigaran Sugar Plantation Inc. and Agustin Coruna, defendants, and Philippine National Bank, Celso S.  Guanco and Nicetas Siguenza,  intervenors", which was pending therein by virtue of an appeal  taken by  the intervenor Philippine National Bank  from the decision of December  26, 1933, rendered by the justice  of the peace  court  of Hinigaran from  which said case originated, counsel for said intervenor filed a motion to dismiss the case  on the ground that the justice of the peace who rendered the decision in question had no jurisdiction to do so under the provisions of section 64 of Act No.  190.  The  lower court, after hearing the parties concerned, sustained the motion, declaring it well founded.  It forthwith dismissed  the plaintiff's  complaint as well as the complaint in intervention of Nicetas Siguenza in its order of November 26, 1934, declaring the appealed judgment null and  void, and  later  ordered the return to  the intervenor Philippine National Bank of the bond filed by it for the perfection of its appeal.   The intervenor, Nicetas Siguenza, appealed from the above order, alleging that the lower court erred: (1)  In declaring the judgment of the justice of the peace court of  Hinigaran of December 26,  1933, null and void; (2) in dismissing  Segundo Monteblanco's complaint and  the complaint in intervention filed  by her;  (3) in ordering the return to  the  intervenor Philippine  National Bank of the bond filed by it for the perfection of its appeal, and  (4) in denying the motion for reconsideration  filed by her a few days later.

The pertinent facts appearing in  the bill of exceptions may be  summarized  as follows:
On September  18, 1924, case No. 299 of  the justice of the peace court of Hinigaran was instituted in said court. The Philippine National  Bank intervened therein, filing its pleading in intervention to that effect on October 18, 1924, and  the plaintiff amended  his complaint on the same date praying that the defendant  the Hinigaran  Sugar  Plantation Inc. be ordered to return to him  the  land described therein, having alleged in  his former  complaint that said defendant and its co-defendants Nicetas Siguenza and Agustin Coruna have been  detaining it since the month of August, 1924; that in the meantime a preliminary injunction be issued against them and their agents or representatives to prevent  them from  continuing to  perform acts in violation of  his right of possession, and that they indemnify him in the sum of P500, with the costs of the suit.

On December 11, 1924, the justice of the peace court of Hinigaran, considering that the  trial of the case devolved upon the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros, for warded it to the latter court, issuing its order to that effect on said  date.  The Court of First Instance remanded the case to the justice of the peace  court with instructions to the effect that if it was of the opinion that the case did not come within its jurisdiction it  should  issue  an  order to that effect and later inform the parties thereof so that they might bring the action they deemed proper.  The justice of the peace  court, acting in pursuance of said  instructions, rendered its decision on January 6,1925, dismissing the case and ordering the dissolution of  the writs of preliminary injunction issued by it, notifying  the parties that they could bring the action or actions they deemed proper in the competent court.  The plaintiff appealed from this decision to the Court of First Instance of  Occidental Negros which, after due hearing, again ordered the case remanded to the justice of  the peace court of Hinigaran  in its  order  of April 6, 1925,  directing said court to try it and pass upon the questions raised therein on the ground that it merely involved forcible entry and  detainer which is of the nature of those coming under its exclusive jurisdiction.   This was done without  the least objection on the  part of the defendants  or  the intervenors, much less the  plaintiff.
The justice of the peace court  of Hinigaran  received the case so remanded to it on June 15, 1925, and on the same date notified the interested parties of the fact that the case had  again been  remanded  to  it.  Thereafter,  it took no other action thereon until November 20, 1933, when, after Nicetas Siguenza had filed her motion to be permitted to intervene therein, it ordered that  the hearing be held on December 20, 1933, at 10 o'clock in the morning.  Six days after  the date  of the hearing which  was attended by the interested parties, the justice of  the  peace court rendered its judgment which was declared null and void by the lower court on the grounds already stated, that is, that  said justice of the peace court had no jurisdiction to render it.  The lower court, in annulling said judgment, based  its opinion upon  the provisions of section 64 of Act No. 190, which reads as follows:
"Justices of the peace  shall have power to adjourn the hearing of an action from  day to day  as  the interests of justice may require, but  shall not have power to adjourn hearings for a longer period than  one week for  each adjournment, nor for more than three months in all."
This section does not have the scope which the lower court desired to  give it.  It does  not deprive the justices of the peace of their power to decide the actions brought to them, much less of their jurisdiction to try them if, by reason of the nature thereof, they had such jurisdiction at  the  time said actions were brought, merely because  the period of three months have elapsed  from the first  day set for the hearing.  It simply contains a prohibition against  adjournments of hearings for a  longer period  than one week for each adjournment, and for  more than three  months in all. This is  ail the more true  in the case now under consideration because no  day has even  been set for the hearing thereof.  On the  other hand, taking into consideration the precise language in which  the above-cited section is  couched, it is applicable only in cases where a definite day  has  been set for the hearing, as it is precisely said date which serves as the starting point in fixing the weekly periods  of the extensions or adjournments of hearings referred to, said extensions not to exceed three  months  in all in any case.

It is  known that under  the law  (Acts Nos. 3881 and 4115), justice of the peace courts  alone have jurisdiction in cases of forcible entry and  detainer, when the action arising therefrom  is  commenced within one  year from  the time said acts took place.  It appears from  the complaint which gave rise to this case in the justice of the peace court of Hinigaran that the detainer took place in the month of August 1924 and that the complaint was  filed in the following month, or on September 18, 1924,  scarcely a month after the cause of action had arisen.

Had the complaint been  filed after the lapse of one year from the  month of August 1924, the justice of the peace court of Hinigaran would not have had jurisdiction to try the case.   When the case was  remanded to it on June 15, 1925, the justice of the peace court still had eleven months and some days of the one year which conferred jurisdiction upon it, to try  the  case, excluding, of course, from said computation  the time it took the case  to  come and  go from said court to the Court of First Instance and from the latter to the former.

In order that justice of the peace courts in which a case for forcible entry and detainer is brought may have jurisdiction to  decide  such case,  they must decide  it within the shortest time practicable, if possible within the year in which they have  jurisdiction  or,  at  most, within three months after the expiration of said year, if the action is commenced on the last  days thereof, which is  the  time when, as already stated, they have jurisdiction.

The purpose of the law in fixing at one year the period within which actions for forcible entry and detainer may be brought, is undoubtedly to require cases of said nature to be tried as soon as  possible and decided promptly, this being likewise inferable from the provisions thereof to the effect that appeals in said  cases must be  perfected within the peremptory period of ten days;  that  in case of an appeal by  the defendant, the judgment shall be executed unless he files a bond with  sufficient sureties to answer for the payment  of rents, damages and costs; and that in any case said  defendant must pay  to the plaintiff or into the Court of First Instance, at  the option of the defendant, the amount of the rent due or determined by the judge in his judgment, said payments to be made  on the tenth of each calendar month  (sec. 88, Act No. 190, as  amended by Act No. 4115).  Furthermore,  the law itself (sec. 83, Act No. 190)  provides that in cases of forcible entry and detainer, no continuance of hearings shall be granted for more than one week unless the defendant files a bond in favor of the plaintiff, which shows that the purpose of the law in these cases is to avoid any delay in the proceedings  in the justice of the peace courts.

The parties and the justice of the peace court allowed not only the said eleven months and some days but nearly about eight years to  elapse without making  any effort or taking any action to terminate the case.  With this inaction or rather neglect on their part, they made it understood that they abandoned the case, particularly the plaintiff, being no longer interested in the result thereof. There was necessity for the justice of the peace court to revive it by ordering the hearing thereof, after  having forgotten and abandoned it for eight years, five months and five days, in order to be  able to render the judgment in question.

The fact that the parties went to trial after so long a time without questioning  the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court, neither  implies  nor  produces the  effect  of curing the error committed because it has not  conferred and  could not have conferred upon said court jurisdiction to continue  trying the case on the ground that jurisdiction is not conferred  by  the parties but expressly by the law alone.

For purposes of the law, the case had died  in the justice of the peace court one  year after  it had been  remanded thereto by the Court of First Instance, with no step having been taken towards its termination in one way or another. To revive it, it was necessary to file new pleadings, and even admitting the fiction that prior to the trial had eight years later, the parties again presented the pleadings already presented by them, the result would be the same because, as the year during which the justice of the peace court could act with  jurisdiction had already elapsed, said court already lost  its jurisdiction and could not again have it whether by its own will or by the will of the parties.

For the foregoing  reasons, and not for those stated in the order appealed from,  said  order is affirmed,  without special pronouncement as to costs.  So  ordered.

Avanceña, C. J., Abad Santos, Laurel, and Concepcion, JJ., concur.


I concur in  the result under the doctrine of laches.


I concur with Justice  Imperial.