Hontiveros vs. RTC

GR No. 125465, June 29, 1999

FACTS:
Petitioner spouses Augusto and Maria Hontiveros filed a complaint for damages against private respondents Gregorio Hontiveros and Teodora Ayson. The petitioners alleged that they are the owners of a parcel of land in Capiz and that they were deprived of income from the land as a result of the filing of the land registration case. In the reply, private respondents denied that they were married and alleged that Gregorio was a widower while Teodora was single. They also denied depriving petitioners of possession of and income from the land. On the contrary, according to the private respondents, the possession of the property in question had already been transferred to petitioners by virtue of the writ of possession. Trial court denied petitioner’s motion that while in the amended complaint, they alleged that earnest efforts towards a compromise were made, it was not verified as provided in Article 151.

ISSUE: WON the court can validly dismissed the complaint due to lack of efforts exerted towards a compromise as stated in Article 151.

HELD:
SC held that the inclusion of private respondent Teodora Ayson as defendant and Maria Hontiveros as petitioner takes the case out of the scope of Article 151. Under this provision, the phrase “members of the same family” refers to the husband and wife, parents and children, ascendants and descendants, and brothers and sisters whether full or half-blood. Religious relationship and relationship by affinity are not given any legal effects in this jurisdiction. Teodora and Maria as spouses of the Hontiveros’ are regarded as strangers to the Hontiveros family for purposes of Article 151.

As Petitioners contend, Art.151 does not apply in this case since the suit is not exclusively among the family members. Whenever a stranger is a party in the case involving the family members, earnest efforts to compromise is no longer mandatory. The absence of the verification of the compromise does not affect the court’s jurisdiction of the subject matter of the complaint. The verification is merely a formality to ensure that the matters which are alleged are true and correct.

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