143 SCRA 146
G.R. No. L-69334
July 28, 1986
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.
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.
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.