Monday, February 08, 2010

Feb 2 and 3 2k10 SC Decisions. On board Northwest to Memphis on folding chairs, jeez

How would you feel if you check in the airport and the airline attendant tells you to step aside and wait until everybody has boarded, and then lets you in the plane without a boarding pass? Worse, when you get on the plane, the stewardess offers you the folding chairs meant for the airline staff. By the way, you are also flying from Missouri to Memphis . Rage! Rage! Rage! On these modern days of travel, the budget airline can give you your greatest nightmare. But fear not, the Supreme Court sympathizes with you.

This month, the Supreme Court releases the decision on the airline nightmare case, but it reduces from PHP 3,000,000 to PHP 500,000 the award of moral damages to the family who was made to sit on folding chairs by Northwest Airlines on their way to Memphis from Missouri.

The Court also dismisses a court aide of the MTC of Palompon Leyte for Theft. The decision reads like a whodunit in parts, no kidding. :)

Going the rounds of the local news lately is the decision that reaffirms the rule that hospitals are liable for the negligence of their doctors.

In criminal law, the Court affirms the conviction of an illegal recruiter but reduces the maximum penalty of the accused for the crime of Estafa.

In labor law, it's a field day for management as the Court rules in favor of management in an illegal suspension and dismissal and also in another case where the employee mauled a fellow employee in font of their boss. The Court also affirms the ruling of the Court of Appeals in upholding a union leader's suspension on the basis of the company’s prerogative to prescribe reasonable rules to regulate the use of union leaves. In this case, the union leader took a union leave without the approval of his superior.

In civil law, the Court awards damages to a lessee, whose boarders were evicted by her landlord three months before the lease was up.

In remedial law, the Court declares that the remedy of a litigant whose case was dismissed for failure to prosecute is not certiorari but appeal. In another case, the Court affirms the dismissal of a petition for certiorari because the pleading was not mailed and did not carry an explanation why it wasn't personally served.

In election law, the Court upholds the COMELEC in declaring a failure of elections in Precinct No. 6A/7A, Barangay Bagoainguid, Municipality of Tugaya, Lanao del Sur during the Barangay elections as only ten voters were able to cast their votes before violence disrupted the proceedings. In a case involving the local government elections of 2007, the Court also affirms the ruling of the COMELEC in dismissing a pre-proclamation controversy seeking to annul the proclamation of the Mayor of Dulag, Leyte.

In real estate transactions, the Court discusses the difference between a contract to sell and a contract of sale, and elaborates on the rule on double sale. Court also applies the maxim "Primus Tempore, Portior Jure(First in Time, Stronger in Right) in upholding Ayala Land's titles over several parcels of land in Las Pinas.

On tax remedies, the Court declares that an action by the Bureau of Customs to collect on the bonds issued by a customs broker is not a tax collection case, but a simple civil case; thus, the appeal on the judgment lies not with the Court of Tax Appeal, but with the Court of Appeals.

Finally, for our featured decision, the Court reiterates the rule that in registration cases filed under the provisions of the Public Land Act for the judicial confirmation of an incomplete and imperfect title, an order dismissing an application for registration and declaring the land as part of the public domain constitutes res judicata, not only against the adverse claimant, but also against all persons. In the same case, the Court also fined the Petitioner who threatened to leak to the media the alleged irregularity that a former assistant Sol-Gen adversely handling her case in the lower court became the ponente of the case when it went to the Court of Appeals. The Court says,

We are not blind to petitioner’s clever and foxy interplay of threats alternating with false concern for the reputation of this Court.

It is well to remind petitioner that the Court has consistently rendered justice with neither fear nor favor. The disposition in this case was arrived at after a careful and thorough deliberation of the facts of this case and all the matters pertaining thereto. The records of the case, in fact, show that all the pertinent issues raised by petitioner were passed upon and sufficiently addressed by the appellate court and this Court in their respective resolutions.

As to petitioner’s complaint regarding this Court’s denial of her petition through a mere minute resolution (which allegedly deprived her of due process as the Court did not issue a full-blown decision stating the facts and applicable jurisprudence), suffice it to say that the Court is not duty-bound to issue decisions or resolutions signed by the justices all the time. It has ample discretion to formulate ponencias, extended resolutions or even minute resolutions issued by or upon its authority, depending on its evaluation of a case, as long as a legal basis exists. When a minute resolution (signed by the Clerk of Court upon orders of the Court) denies or dismisses a petition or motion for reconsideration for lack of merit, it is understood that the assailed decision or order, together with all its findings of fact and legal conclusions, are deemed sustained.

Furthermore, petitioner has doggedly pursued her case in this Court by filing three successive motions for reconsideration, including the letter-motion subject of this resolution. This, despite our repeated warnings that “no further pleadings shall be entertained in this case.” Her unreasonable persistence constitutes utter defiance of this Court’s orders and an abuse of the rules of procedure. This, alongside her thinly veiled threats to leak her case to the media to gain public sympathy – although the tone of petitioner’s compliance with our show-cause resolution was decidedly subdued compared to her earlier letters – constitutes contempt of court.

In Republic v. Unimex, we held:

A statement of this Court that no further pleadings would be entertained is a declaration that the Court has already considered all issues presented by the parties and that it has adjudicated the case with finality. It is a directive to the parties to desist from filing any further pleadings or motions. Like all orders of this Court, it must be strictly observed by the parties. It should not be circumvented by filing motions ill-disguised as requests for clarification.


If petitioner was, as she adamantly insists, only guarding her constitutional right to due process, then why did she question the validity of the Mendoza decision late in the proceedings, that is, only after her motion for reconsideration in the CA (for its subsequent annulment of the compromise agreement) was denied? It is obvious that it was only when her case became hopeless that her present counsel frantically searched for some ground, any ground to resuscitate his client’s lost cause, subsequently raising the issue. This is evident from a statement in her petition to this Court that:

It is this fresh discovery by the undersigned counsel of the nullity of the proceedings of the Court of Appeals that places in doubt the entire proceedings it previously conducted, which led to the rendition of the February 26, 1992 Decision, a fact that escaped the scrutiny of applicant for registration Flora L. Garcia, as well as her lawyer, Atty. Cayetano Dante Diaz, who died in 1993, and the late Justice Fernando A. Santiago, who stood as counsel for Flora L. Garcia’s successor-in-interest, herein petitioner, Florencia G. Garcia. (Emphasis supplied).

The above cited statement does not help petitioner’s cause at all. If anything, it only proves how desperate the case has become for petitioner and her counsel.

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