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April 30, 2014

In re: Letter of Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno

By With No comments:
Facts:
- The petitioner, Reynato S. Puno, was first appointed as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals on 1980.
- On 1983, the Court of Appeals was reorganized and became the Intermediate Appellate Court pursuant to BP Blg. 129.
- On 1984, petitioner was appointed to be Deputy Minister of Justice in the Ministry of Justice. Thus, he ceased to be a member of the Judiciary.
- After February 1986 EDSA Revolution, there was a reorganization of the entire government, including the Judiciary.
- A Screening Committee for the reorganization of the Intermediate Appelate Court and lower courts recommended the return of petitioner as Associate Justice of the new court of Appeals and assigned him the rank of number 11 in the roster of appellate court justices.
- When the appointments were signed by Pres. Aquino, petitioner's seniority ranking changes from number 11 to 26. 
- Then, petitioner alleged that the change in seniority ranking was due to "inadvertence" of the President, otherwise, it would run counter to the provisions of Section 2 of E.O. No. 33.
- Petitioner Justice Reynato S. Puno wrote a letter to the Court seeking the correction of his seniority ranking in the Court of Appeals.
- The Court en banc granted Justice Puno's request.
- A motion for reconsideration was later filed by Associate Justices Campos Jr. and Javellana who are affected by the ordered correction.
- They alleged that petitioner could not claim reappointment because the courts where he had previously been appointed ceased to exist at the date of his last appointment.

Issue: WON the present Court of Appeals is merely a continuation of the old Court of Appeals and Intermediate Appellate Court existing before the promulgation of E.O. No. 33.

Held: 

The Court held that the Court of Appeals and Intermediate Appellate Court existing prior to E.O. No. 33 phased out as part of the legal system abolished by the 1987 Revolution. The Court of Appeals that was established under E.O. No. 33 is considered as an entirely new court.

The present Court of Appeals is a new entity, different and distinct from the courts existing before E.O. No. 33. It was created in the wake of the massive reorganization launched by the revolutionary government of Corazon Aquino in the aftermath of the people power in 1986.

Revolution is defined as "the complete overthrow of the established government in any country or state by those who were previously subject to it." or "as sudden. radical and fundamental change in the government or political system, usually effected with violence or at least some acts of violence."
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Drilon vs. CA

By With No comments:
Facts:
- In 1973, the private respondents were charged with double murder before Military Commission No. 34.
- July 27, 1973: the military promulgated a decision acquitting Raul Paredes but sentencing Rodolfo Ganzon to life imprisonment with hard labor. Paredes was thereupon released from custody while Ganzon was made to serve sentence until he was released on March 25, 1978 and placed under house arrest under guard. 3 In 1985, Ganzon joined the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), the party in power, where he was designated as campaign manager.
- In 1988, administration having changed, then Secretary of Justice Sedfrey Ordoñez directed State Prosecutor Aurelio Trampe to conduct a preliminary investigation against the private respondents for the above murders. The private respondents moved for dismissal, in Ganzon's case, on the ground that he, Ganzon, had been extended an absolute pardon by the President Ferdinand Marcos, and he, having been previously convicted, can no longer be tried anew, and in Paredes' case, on the ground that he, Paredes, had been acquitted. Trampe, however, denied both requests and reconsideration having been likewise denied, the private respondents went to the Court of Appeals on prohibition.
- The CA granted their petitions.
- The petitioners allege that the Court of Appeals, in granting prohibition, committed a grave abuse of discretion: (1) Rodolfo Ganzon has not adequately proved the fact of presidential pardon; (2) there exists no evidence in the files of the Govemment to prove pardon; (3) Ganzon's copy is a bare machine copy and Ganzon has failed to adequately establish the loss of the original; (4) the alleged pardon (or copy of it) had not been properly sealed and authenticated, or executed in official Malacañang stationery; and (5) the disposition of the murder cases by the military does not preclude the filing of new informations by the civilian government.

Issue:
WON the Government may proceed criminally against the private respondents despite verdict earlier rendered by Military Commission No. 34.

Held:

To the mind of the Court, Ganzon has accepted the judgment against him, and as Tan (case of Tan) asked, "why should [he] who has accepted the justness of the verdict of the military court who is satisfied that he had a fair hearing, and who is willing to serve his sentence in full, be dragged through the harrow of another hearing in a civil court to risk being convicted a second time perchance to serve a heavier penalty?"

Under the 1973 Constitution, as is under the present Cha the "pardoning power" of the President (that is, to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, remit fines and forfeitures) is final and unappealable so is commutation of sentence, in which the Chief Executive reduces a sentence. It extinguishes criminal liability partially, and has the effect of changing the penalty to a lesser one.

The Court does not believe, in Ganzon's case, that commutation of sentence need be in a specific form. It is sufficient, to mind, that Ganzon was voluntarily released in 1978 wit terms or conditions, except that he should remain under house arrest. The Court can not consider Ganzon's house arrest as a continuation of his sentence, first, because in no way is arrest a penalty, but rather a mere means of "taking ... a person custody in order that he may be forthcoming to answer for commission of an offense," or, during early martial law, a means to carry out Proclamation No. 1881, and second, because of the records own scant condition as the exact terms of his "house arrest" (which, parenthetically, no longer exists.) Hence, the view of the Court is that irrespective of the "pardon," Ganzon has served his sentence and to reiterate, he can no longer be reinvestigated for the same offense, much more undergo further imprisonment to complete his service.

The Court therefore need not consider whether or not Rodolfo Ganzon had been pardoned, and whatever "pardon" the former President may have extended to him did not erase the fact that as early as 1978, he was a free man. Of course, he was supposed to have remained under house arrest but as we said, not as a continuation of his sentence, but pursuant to Marcos' vast arrest and commitment powers during martial rule. The question — of whether or not he should continue to remain under house arrest — is also a moot question as we noted, 28 and arrests except upon lawful judicial orders are no longer possible. The Court's disposition, it is true, leaves Ganzon to all intents and purposes "scot-free", yet whatever liberal treatment he may have received is not his fault either, and in the second place, "worse" people have been better rewarded in this regime.

Petition denied. Decision of the CA affirmed.
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Catholic Vicar vs. CA

By With No comments:
Date: September 31, 1988

Facts:
-  1962: Catholic Vicar Apostolic of the Mountain Province (Vicar), petitioner, filed with the court an application for the registration of title over lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 situated in Poblacion Central, Benguet, said lots being used as sites of the Catholic Church, building, convents, high school building, school gymnasium, dormitories, social hall and stonewalls.
- 1963: Heirs of Juan Valdez and Heirs of Egmidio Octaviano claimed that they have ownership over lots 1, 2 and 3. (2 separate civil cases)
- 1965: The land registration court confirmed the registrable title of Vicar to lots 1 , 2, 3 and 4. Upon appeal by the private respondents (heirs), the decision of the lower court was reversed. Title for lots 2 and 3 were cancelled.
- VICAR filed with the Supreme Court a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing his  application for registration of Lots 2 and 3.
- During trial, the Heirs of Octaviano presented one (1) witness, who testified on the alleged ownership of the land in question (Lot 3) by their predecessor-in-interest, Egmidio Octaviano; his written demand to Vicar for the return of the land to them; and the reasonable rentals for the use of the land at P10,000 per month. On the other hand, Vicar presented the Register of Deeds for the Province of Benguet, Atty. Sison, who testified that the land in question is not covered by any title in the name of Egmidio Octaviano or any of the heirs. Vicar dispensed with the testimony of Mons. Brasseur when the heirs admitted that the witness if called to the witness stand, would testify that Vicar has been in possession of Lot 3, for 75 years continuously and peacefully and has constructed permanent structures thereon.

Issue: WON Vicar had been in possession of lots 2 and 3 merely as bailee borrower in commodatum, a gratuitous loan for use.

Held: YES. 

Private respondents were able to prove that their predecessors' house was borrowed by petitioner Vicar after the church and the convent were destroyed. They never asked for the return of the house, but when they allowed its free use, they became bailors in commodatum and the petitioner the bailee. 

The bailees' failure to return the subject matter of commodatum to the bailor did not mean adverse possession on the part of the borrower. The bailee held in trust the property subject matter of commodatum. The adverse claim of petitioner came only in 1951 when it declared the lots for taxation purposes. The action of petitioner Vicar by such adverse claim could not ripen into title by way of ordinary acquisitive prescription because of the absence of just title.

The Court of Appeals found that petitioner Vicar did not meet the requirement of 30 years possession for acquisitive prescription over Lots 2 and 3. Neither did it satisfy the requirement of 10 years possession for ordinary acquisitive prescription because of the absence of just title. The appellate court did not believe the findings of the trial court that Lot 2 was acquired from Juan Valdez by purchase and Lot 3 was acquired also by purchase from Egmidio Octaviano by petitioner Vicar because there was absolutely no documentary evidence to support the same and the alleged purchases were never mentioned in the application for registration.
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April 8, 2014

Cavite Development Bank vs. Lim

By With No comments:
Facts:
Petitioners Cavite Development Bank (CDB) and Far East Bank and Trust Company (FEBTC) are banking institutions duly organized and existing under Philippine laws. On or about June 15, 1983, a certain Rodolfo Guansing obtained a loan in the amount of P90,000.00 from CDB, to secure which he mortgaged a parcel of land situated at No. 63 Calavite Street, La Loma, Quezon City and covered by TCT No. 300809 registered in his name. As Guansing defaulted in the payment of his loan, CDB foreclosed the mortgage. 

At the foreclosure sale held on March 15, 1984, the mortgaged property was sold to CDB as the highest bidder. Guansing failed to redeem, and on March 2, 1987, CDB consolidated title to the property in its name. TCT No. 300809 in the name of Guansing was cancelled and, in lieu thereof, TCT No. 355588 was issued in the name of CDB.1âwphi1.nêt

On June 16, 1988, private respondent Lolita Chan Lim, assisted by a broker named Remedios Gatpandan, offered to purchase the property from CDB. 

Pursuant to the foregoing terms and conditions of the offer, Lim paid CDB P30,000.00 as Option Money, for which she was issued Official Receipt No. 3160, dated June 17, 1988, by CDB. However, after some time following up the sale, Lim discovered that the subject property was originally registered in the name of Perfecto Guansing, father of mortgagor Rodolfo Guansing, under TCT No. 91148. 

Aggrieved by what she considered a serious misrepresentation by CDB and its mother-company, FEBTC, on their ability to sell the subject property, Lim, joined by her husband, filed on August 29, 1989 an action for specific performance and damages against petitioners in the Regional Trial Court.

On March 10, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of the Lim spouses. Petitioners brought the matter to the Court of Appeals, which, on October 14, 1997, affirmed in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court. 

Issue: WON there was a valid sale.

Held: NO.

In this case, the sale by CDB to Lim of the property mortgaged in 1983 by Rodolfo Guansing must, therefore, be deemed a nullity for CDB did not have a valid title to the said property. To be sure, CDB never acquired a valid title to the property because the foreclosure sale, by virtue of which, the property had been awarded to CDB as highest bidder, is likewise void since the mortgagor was not the owner of the property foreclosed.

A foreclosure sale, though essentially a "forced sale," is still a sale in accordance with Art. 1458 of the Civil Code, under which the mortgagor in default, the forced seller, becomes obliged to transfer the ownership of the thing sold to the highest bidder who, in turn, is obliged to pay therefor the bid price in money or its equivalent. Being a sale, the rule that the seller must be the owner of the thing sold also applies in a foreclosure sale. This is the reason Art. 2085 of the Civil Code, in providing for the essential requisites of the contract of mortgage and pledge, requires, among other things, that the mortgagor or pledgor be the absolute owner of the thing pledged or mortgaged, in anticipation of a possible foreclosure sale should the mortgagor default in the payment of the loan.

There is, however, a situation where, despite the fact that the mortgagor is not the owner of the mortgaged property, his title being fraudulent, the mortgage contract and any foreclosure sale arising therefrom are given effect by reason of public policy. This is the doctrine of "the mortgagee in good faith" based on the rule that all persons dealing with property covered by a Torrens Certificate of Title, as buyers or mortgagees, are not required to go beyond what appears on the face of the title. The public interest in upholding the indefeasibility of a certificate of title, as evidence of the lawful ownership of the land or of any encumbrance thereon, protects a buyer or mortgagee who, in good faith, relied upon what appears on the face of the certificate of title.

This principle is cited by petitioners in claiming that, as a mortgagee bank, it is not required to make a detailed investigation of the history of the title of the property given as security before accepting a mortgage.

We are not convinced, however, that under the circumstances of this case, CDB can be considered a mortgagee in good faith. While petitioners are not expected to conduct an exhaustive investigation on the history of the mortgagor's title, they cannot be excused from the duty of exercising the due diligence required of banking institutions. In Tomas v. Tomas, we noted that it is standard practice for banks, before approving a loan, to send representatives to the premises of the land offered as collateral and to investigate who are real owners thereof, noting that banks are expected to exercise more care and prudence than private individuals in their dealings, even those involving registered lands, for their business is affected with public interest. 
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April 1, 2014

Start Preparing for Your Career as a Successful Paralegal

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A career as a paralegal can be an exciting venture. Behind every great lawyer is a great paralegal. A paralegal is the person that truly does the work necessary to operate a law facility. Paralegals have taken on more responsibilities and duties. Many tasks that they currently perform were previously performed by attorneys. 

A paralegal assisting degree can prepare you for a career that is both exciting and challenging. Research is a major part of the job duties of a paralegal. They must have a firm grasp on laws. The attorney depends on the paralegal to do all of the background research for a court case or some other court proceeding. In fact, paralegals often do witness interviews. This part of their job can be especially intriguing. 
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