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Katon vs.

Palanca 437 SCRA



Facts:
Petitioner caused the inspection investigation and survey of lands located in
Sombrero Island in Palawan for the purpose of its re-classification from forest to
agricultural land and, thereafter for him to apply for a homestead patent. In 1965, the
Director of Lands favourably declared the land as agricultural land.
"Records show that on November 8, 1996, [R]espondent Juan Fresnillo filed a
homestead patent application for a portion of the island comprising 8.5 hectares.
Records also reveal that [R]espondent Jesus Gapilango filed a homestead application
on June 8, 1972. Respondent Manuel Palanca, Jr. was issued Homestead Patent No.
145927 and OCT No. G-7089 on March 3, 1977
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with an area of 6.84 hectares of
Sombrero Island.
In 1999, Petitioner filed an action seeking to nullify the homestead patents and
original certificates of title issued in favor of the respondents covering certain portions of
the Sombrero Island as well as the reconveyance of the whole island in his favor. The
petitioner claims that he has the exclusive right to file an application for homestead
patent over the whole island since it was he who requested for its conversion from
forest land to agricultural land.
Respondents filed their Answer with Special and/or Affirmative Defenses and
Counterclaim in due time. On June 30, 1999, they also filed a Motion to Dismiss on the
ground of the alleged defiance by petitioner of the trial courts Order to amend his
Complaint so he could thus effect a substitution by the legal heirs of the deceased,
Respondent Gapilango. The Motion to Dismiss was granted by the RTC in its Order
dated July 29, 1999. A MR was filed but was denied , for being a third and prohibited
motion. In his Petition for Certiorari before the CA, petitioner charged the trial court with
grave abuse of discretion on the ground that the denied Motion was his first and only
Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Order. The CA dismissed the complaint
because of prescription invoking its residual prerogative. Hence, this petition.

Issue:
Is the Court of Appeals correct in invoking its alleged residual prerogative under
Section 1, Rule 9 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure in resolving the Petition on an
issue not raised in the Petition?

Held:
Yes. Under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, defenses and objections
not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived, except
when (1) lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) litis pendentia, (3) res judicata
and (4) prescription are evident from the pleadings or the evidence on record. In the
four excepted instances, the court shall motu proprio dismiss the claim or action. In
Gumabon v. Larin
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we explained thus:

"x x x [T]he motu proprio dismissal of a case was traditionally limited to instances
when the court clearly had no jurisdiction over the subject matter and when the plaintiff
did not appear during trial, failed to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of
time or neglected to comply with the rules or with any order of the court. Outside of
these instances, any motu proprio dismissal would amount to a violation of the right of
the plaintiff to be heard. Except for qualifying and expanding Section 2, Rule 9, and
Section 3, Rule 17, of the Revised Rules of Court, the amendatory 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure brought about no radical change. Under the new rules, a court may motu
proprio dismiss a claim when it appears from the pleadings or evidence on record that it
has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; when there is another cause of action
pending between the same parties for the same cause, or where the action is barred by
a prior judgment or by statute of limitations. x x x."
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(Italics supplied)

On the other hand, "residual jurisdiction" is embodied in Section 9 of Rule 41 of the
Rules of Court. The "residual jurisdiction" of trial courts is available at a stage in which
the court is normally deemed to have lost jurisdiction over the case or the subject matter
involved in the appeal. This stage is reached upon the perfection of the appeals by the
parties or upon the approval of the records on appeal, but prior to the transmittal of the
original records or the records on appeal.
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In either instance, the trial court still retains
its so-called residual jurisdiction to issue protective orders, approve compromises,
permit appeals of indigent litigants, order execution pending appeal, and allow the
withdrawal of the appeal.
The CAs motu proprio dismissal of petitioners Complaint could not have been based,
therefore, on residual jurisdiction under Rule 41. Undeniably, such order of dismissal
was not one for the protection and preservation of the rights of the parties, pending the
disposition of the case on appeal. What the CA referred to as residual prerogatives
were the general residual powers of the courts to dismiss an action motu proprio upon
the grounds mentioned in Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court and under authority
of Section 2 of Rule 1
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of the same rules.
To be sure, the CA had the excepted instances in mind when it dismissed the Complaint
motu proprio "on more fundamental grounds directly bearing on the lower courts lack of
jurisdiction"
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and for prescription of the action. Indeed, when a court has no jurisdiction
over the subject matter, the only power it has is to dismiss the action.

(Note: the action was more of an action for reversion and not annulment of title nor
reconveyance; dismissal was proper because, the action being one for reversion, it is
only the Sol Gen who can bring said action, thus, the complaint states cause of action)

Pecson vs. Comelec 575 SCRA

Facts:
Pecson and Cunanan were candidates for the mayoralty position in the
Municipality of Magalang, Province of Pampanga. Cunanan was proclaimed the winning
candidate, garnering a total of 12,592 votes as against Pecson's 12,531, or a margin of
61 votes. Cunanan took his oath and assumed the position of Mayor of Magalang. Soon
thereafter, Pecson filed an election protest.
The RTC rendered a Decision in Pecson's favor. Cunanan filed a Notice of
Appeal. The RTC issued an Order noting the filing of the notice of appeal and the
payment of appeal fee and directing the transmittal of the records of the case to the
Electoral Contests Adjudication Department (ECAD) of the COMELEC. Pecson, on the
other hand, filed an Urgent Motion for Immediate Execution Pending Appeal, claiming
that Section 11, Rule 14 of the Rules of Procedure in Election Contests before the
Courts Involving Elective Municipal and Barangay Officials
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(Rules) allows this remedy.
The RTC granted Pecson's motion for execution pending appeal via a Special
Order. Expectedly, Cunanan moved to reconsider the Order, arguing that the RTC
gravely abused its discretion: (1) in ruling that there were good reasons to issue a writ of
execution pending appeal; and (2) in entertaining and subsequently granting the motion
for execution pending appeal despite the issuance of an order transmitting the records
of the case.
Thereupon, Cunanan filed with the COMELEC a Petition for Application of
Preliminary Injunction with Prayer for Status Quo Ante Order/Temporary Restraining
Order (TRO) with Prayer for Immediate Raffle. The Second Division of the COMELEC
issued on January 4, 2008 a 60-day TRO but eventually denied Cunanans petition. It
ruled that the resolution of the motion for execution pending appeal is part of the
residual jurisdiction of the RTC to settle pending incidents.
On Cunanan's motion, the COMELEC en banc issued its Resolution reversing
the ruling of the Second Division insofar as it affirmed the RTC's findings of good
reasons to execute the decision pending appeal. It affirmed the authority of the RTC to
order execution pending appeal; it however nullified the March 11, 2008 writ of
execution on the ground that the RTC could no longer issue the writ because it had lost
jurisdiction over the case after transmittal of the records and the perfection of the
appeals of both Cunanan and Pecson (to be accurate, the lapse of Pecson's period to
appeal).
The case was elevated to the SC via petition for certiorari under Rule 64 in
relation to Rule 65.

Issue:
Whether or not the COMELEC en banc correctly nullified the writ of execution on
the ground that the RTC could no longer issue the writ because it had lost jurisdiction
over the case after transmittal of the records and the perfection of the appeals?

Held:
No. Another legal reality is that the COMELEC is wrong in its ruling that the RTC could
no longer actually issue the writ on March 11, 2008 because it no longer had jurisdiction
to do so after the appeal period lapsed and after the records were transmitted to the
ECAD-COMELEC. That the RTC is still in possession of the records and that the period
to appeal (of both contending parties) must have not lapsed are important for
jurisdictional purposes if the issue is the authority of the RTC to grant a Special Order
allowing execution pending appeal; they are requisite elements for the exercise by the
RTC of its residual jurisdiction to validly order an execution pending appeal, not for the
issuance of the writ itself. This is clearly evident from the cited provision of the Rules
which does not require the issuance of the implementing writ within the above limited
jurisdictional period.
The RTC cannot legally issue the implementing writ within this limited period for two
reasons: (1) the cited twenty-day waiting period under Section 11(b); and (2) the
mandatory immediate transmittal of the records to the ECAD of the COMELEC under
Section 10 of the Rules.
Also, we reiterate here our consistent ruling that decisions of the courts in election
protest cases, resulting as they do from a judicial evaluation of the ballots and after full-
blown adversarial proceedings, should at least be given similar worth and recognition as
decisions of the board of canvassers.
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This is especially true when attended by other
equally weighty circumstances of the case, such as the shortness of the term of the
contested elective office, of the case.
In light of all these considerations, we conclude that the COMELEC erred in nullifying
the RTC's Special Order in a manner sufficiently gross to affect its exercise of
jurisdiction. Specifically, it committed grave abuse of discretion when it looked at wrong
considerations and when it acted outside of the contemplation of the law in nullifying the
Special Order.