Alinsugay vs Cagampang

143 SCRA 146

G.R. No. L-69334

July 28, 1986

 

Facts:

Alinsugay instituted an action in the RTC of Bukidnon against respondents Cajes for the annulment of title & recovery of possession and ownership of a parcel of land located in Barangay Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon.

Respondents Cajes filed a Motion to Dismis on the grounds that: (1) the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction because the dispute was not brought before the barangay for amicable settlement in accordance with PD 1508, (2) the complaint was premature, and (3) the action was barred by prescription and laches. Specifically, respondents argued that petitioners did not follow the process of going through a Pangkat in the settlement of his dispute, after mediation before the barangay chairman had failed. On November 13, 1984, respondent Judge ordered the dismissal of the complaint “without prejudice to the filing of the same after the provisions of PD 1508 shall have been complied properly as prayed for in the Motion to Dismiss…and without passing upon the merits on the other grounds alleged in the same Motion to Dismiss”. Assailing the order of dismissal as a patent nullity & having been issued with grave abuse of discretion, petitioners filed the instant special civil action for certiorari.

The controversy was referred to the Punong Barangay of Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon. Summons was served upon the parties. For one reason or another, respondent Esther Cajes failed to appear before the Barangay Chairman, prompting the latter to issue on July 31, 1983 the certification to file action for the complainant, petitioner Alinsugay. There is no mention in the records of the reason for Cajes’ non-appearance.

 

Issue:

Whether referral to the Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo under PD 1508 is mandatory even where the failure at conciliation is due to the non-appearance of one party.

 

Held:

Rule VI, Sec.7 of the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules provide that “The complaint may be dismissed when complainant, after due notice, willfully fails or refuses to appear on the date set for mediation, conciliation or arbitration. Such dismissal…shall bar the complainant from seeking judicial recourse for the same cause of action as that dismissed. Upon a similar failure of the respondent to appear, any counterclaim he has made that arises from or in necessarily connected with complainant’s action, may be dismissed. Such dismissal..shall bar the respondent from filing such counterclaim in court: and it shall likewise be a sufficient basis for the issuance of a certification for filing complainant’s cause of action in court or with the proper government agency or office…such willful failure or refusal to appear may subject the recalcitrant party or witness to punishment as for contempt of court…”

The willful refusal or failure to appear on the part of respondent is sufficient basis for the complainant present to be given a certification to file action. This means that the complainant may already bring his case to court or other government office for adjudication.

Where one party fails to appear for no justifiable reason, convening the Pangkat as a necessary second step will serve no useful purpose. It will accomplish nothing in view of a party’s unwillingness to settle the dispute outside the regular courts. The only feasible alternative for the Lupon is to issue the certification allowing complainant to bring the controversy to court.

Respondents have not come to court with clean hands. The desired conciliation at the barangay failed due to their non-appearance. They should not be allowed to frustrate petitioner’s cause of action by invoking that situation which they themselves created.

Respondent Cagampang acted arbitrarily with grave abuse of discretion in dismissing petitioner’s complaint. Petitioner complied with PD 1508. The issuance of the certification to file action is warranted by the Rules in view of respondent’s unexplained refusal to appear.

 

Peregrina vs Panis

133 SCRA 72

G.R. No. L-56011

October 31, 1984

Facts:

Spouses Sanchez filed a Civil Action for Damages against Petitioners Peregrina for alleged disrespect for the dignity, privacy and peace of mind of the Spouses under Art.26 of the Civil Code, and for alleged defamation under Art.33 of the same code.

The parties are neighbors in a barangay in Olongapo City. However, no conciliation proceedings were filed before the Lupon.

Petitioners moved for the dismissal of the Complaint.

Before filing an Opposition, Spouses applied for a Writ of Preliminary Attachment. Thereafter, Spouses presented their Opposition claiming that under Sec.6(3), PD 1508, the parties may go directly to the Courts if the Action is coupled with a provisional remedy such as a Preliminary Attachment.

In resolving the Motion to Dismiss, respondent Judge initially dismissed the Complaint for Spouse’s failure to comply with the precondition for amicable settlement under PD 1508. However, on Motion for Reconsideration, respondent Judge denied the Petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss on the ground that under Rule 57, Sec.1 of the Rules of Court, the application for attachment can be made at the commencement of the action or any time thereafter.

 

Issue:

Whether respondent court’s assumption of jurisdiction, without prior conciliation proceedings between the parties in the Lupon Tagapamayapa, is valid.

 

Held:

Sec.3 of PD 1508 specifically provides that “disputes between or among persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought for amicable settlement before the Lupon of said barangay”.

Sec.6 of the same law also mandates that “no complaint, petition, action or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the Lupon…shall be filed or instituted in court or any government office for adjudication unless there has been confrontation of the parties before the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat and no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the Lupon Secretary or Pangkat Secretary, attested by the Lupon or Pangkat Chairman, or unless the settlement has been repudiated…”

PD 1508 makes the conciliation process at the Barangay level a condition precedent for the filing of a complaint in court. Non-compliance with that condition precedent could affect the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s cause of action and make his complaint vulnerable to dismissal on the ground of lack of cause of action or prematurity. The condition is analogous to exhaustion of administrative remedies, or the lack of earnest efforts to compromise suits between family members, lacking which, the case can be dismissed.

The parties therein fall squarely within the ambit of PD 1508. They are actual residents in the same barangay and their dispute does not fall under any of the excepted cases.

Respondent Judge erred in reconsidering his previous Order of Dismissal on the ground that the provisional remedy of attachment was seasonably filed. Not only was the application for that remedy merely an afterthought to circumvent the law, but also, a writ of attachment is not available in a suit for damages where the amount, including moral damages, is contingent or unliquidated. Prior referral to the Lupon for conciliation proceedings, therefore, was indubitably called for.