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ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP vs CA

SHORT VERSION:
The Archbishop of Manila leases land to the Sps Reyes with first priority to purchase the land is it is ever
for sale. Sps Reyes saw that the Archbishop encroached on the leased land and requested such
encroachment to be fixed, but since there was no action on the part of the Archbishop, they withheld rental
payments. Later, the Archbishop offered to sell the land. No agreement was reached between the two
parties. 2 Years later, the Archbishop offered again to sell and the Sps Reyes said they wanted to buy, but
at the rate that it was first offered 2 years back. No agreement still. Sps Reyes filed for specific
performance to compel the Archbishop to fix the encroachment and to sell them the land alleging that
there was already a deed of sale. The Archbishop moves to dismiss and counter-claims for the unpaid
rental. The RTC dismisses on the matter of the alleged deed of sale and issues a partial judgements for the
Sps to pay the rentals. Sps appeal to the CA. Archbishop moves to dismiss saying that there are only
questions of law ad that the CA has no jurisdiction. SC says that, while it is true that appeals raising pure
questions of law are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the SC, the appeal in this case involves factual
issues that the CA can properly take cognizance of.
FACTS:
In 1985, The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (Archbishop) leased a lot with an area of 470.30 sq.m.
in Intramuros, Manila to Ernesto and Lorna Reyes (Sps Reyes). The contract provided for a 10-year lease
with option at the end for a 10-year extension if the lessor chooses. It also provided for a graduated
schedule of rental fees, P4.50 per square meter on the first and second years, increasing up to P6.50 per
square meter on the ninth and tenth years. It was also stipulated that the lessees had the right of preemption, with first priority to purchase the property if it was offered for sale. In order to build a firewall, the
Sps Reyes allegedly relocated the land and found that the adjacent owners concrete fence (if you read the
case, this refers to the Archbishop) encroached on 30.96 m worth of the leased property. After many letters
and follow-ups requesting that the Archbishop make adjustments to fix the encroachment problem, the
latter did not take action prompting Sps Reyes to withhold the payment of rent as leverage to force the
Archbishop to act.
In 1987, the Archbishop told the Sps Reyes that they were selling the property but no deal was struck
between them. In 1989, the Sps Reyes reiterated their desire to purchase the property while the
Archbishop was demanding they pay P68K in unpaid rental to which they responded that they would pay
as soon as the encroachment is fixed. Eventually, the Archbishop offered the land to the Sps at P2,127.45
per sq. m. but they Sps said that it should be sold to them at P1,600.00 per sq. m., the price when the lot
was first offered for sale in 1987. No agreement was reached. Sps Reyes filed an action for specific
performance before the RTC Manila, with two causes of action: 1. the correction or adjustment of their
encroached property 2. claiming that there was already a contract of sale between them, that the
Archbishop be compelled to sell the leased property to them at P1.6K per sq.m. The Archbishop filed a
motion to dismiss which was not immediately resolved by the court, then filed an answer with counterclaim for rental payments, then filed a motion for judgment on the Answer. The RTC denied the motion to
dismiss on the first cause of action but granted it as to the second, saying that the lease contract simply
gives the plaintiffs a right of pre-emission over the leased premises. There was as yet no definite offer and
acceptance as regards the sale of the property, and there being no contract, there was nothing to enforce.
The next day, it rendered a partial judgment on the counterclaim of the Archbishop for payment of rent,
ordering the Sps Reyes t pay P108,297.31 and whatever more will be incurred during the pendency of the
case in accordance with the payment schedule in the contract. The law grants the lessee the right to
suspend payment of rentals only for the area of the leased property which is not delivered, in this case an
area of 30.96 square meters. The Sps filed a notice of appeal and elevated the case to the Court of
Appeals on 3 grounds 1. the lawfulness of dismissing the second cause of action 2. the propriety of holding
that there was no contract of sale between the parties 3. ordering the payment of rental arrearages from
October 1986 without any hearing on the merits. The Archbishop moved to dismiss in that the petition only
raised pure questions of law and the CA had no jurisdiction over such. This motion was denied by the CA
which said that the Sps Reyes raised factual issues on the offer and acceptance regarding the sale of the
lot in question and on the trial court's order to pay back rentals. It also said that the case before it is a
single appeal and does not necessitate multiple appeals even if it involves an Order(the first motion to
dismiss) and a Partial Judgment (on the rentals). Hence, even if only a notice of appeal was filed without a
record on appeal, the appeal was effectively perfected.
The CA ultimately affirmed the RTCs decision on dismissing the motion to dismiss, but reversed its
judgment on the rentals, saying that the averments and available evidence tendered a valid issue which
could not be resolved merely on the pleadings, remanding it to the lower court to determine the exact
amount of rentals to be paid. Issue on jurisdiction is moot since it is not 2 appeals, only 1. MR denied.
Archbishop raises it to the SC.
ISSUES:
WON the case involves 2 appeals, requiring the Sps Reyes to file another record on appeal for it to be
perfected. (NO) WON the issues raised on appeal to respondent court are pure questions of law over which
the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction.
HELD/RATIO:
1. The case at bar is not one where multiple appeals can be taken or are necessary. Multiple appeals are
allowed in special proceedings, in actions for recovery of property with accounting, in actions for partition
of property with accounting, in the special civil actions of eminent domain and foreclosure of mortgage.

The rationale behind allowing more than one appeal in the same case is to enable the rest of the case to
proceed in the event that a separate and distinct issue is resolved by the court and held to be final. The
case for specific performance have arose from the demand to make adjustments on the property where
the adjacent owner is alleged to have usurped a part thereof, the exercise of the right of pre-emption and
the payment of rental arrearages. A ruling on the issue of encroachment will perforce be determinative of
the issue of unpaid rentals. These two points do not arise from two or more causes of action, but from the
same cause of action. Hence, this suit does not require multiple appeals. There is no ground for the
splitting of appeals in this case, even if it involves an Order granting (and denying) a

motion to dismiss and a Partial Judgment granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The subject
matter covered in the Order and in the Partial Judgment pertain to the same lessor-lessee relationship,
lease contract and parcel of land. Splitting appeals in the instant case would, in effect, be violative of the
rule against multiplicity of appeals. 2. The Archbishop is correct in saying that decisions of the Regional
Trial Court may be directly reviewed by the Supreme Court on petition for review only if pure questions of
law are raised. There is a question of law when the issue does not call for an examination of the probative
value of evidence presented, the truth or falsehood of facts being admitted and the doubt concerns the
correct application of law and jurisprudence on the matter. [Based on Article VIII, Section 5 (2) (e) of the
1987 Constitution; Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 (B.P. Blg. 129); Section 17 of the Judiciary Act
of 1948 and; Circular 2-90, number 4 (c), stating that cases from the Regional Trial Court raising only
questions of law should be taken to the Supreme Court since appeals under Rule 41 from the Regional Trial
Court to the Court of Appeals involving only questions of law "shall be dismissed, issues purely of law not
being reviewable by said court." Number 4 (c) and (d) of Circular 2-90, reads: "4. Erroneous Appeals.

An appeal taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong or inappropriate mode
shall be dismissed. xxx xxx xxx (c) Raising issues purely of law in the Court of Appeals, or appeal by wrong
mode.

If an appeal under Rule 41 is taken from the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals and therein the
appellant raises only questions of law, the appeal shall be dismissed, issues purely of law not being
reviewable by said court. x x x]
Decisions of the Regional Trial Court may be elevated directly to the Supreme Court on certiorari
in criminal cases where the penalty imposed is death or life imprisonment, including cases arising out of
the same occurrence and in all other cases in which only errors or questions of law are involved. When the
Constitution states that cases involving questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law
should be appealed to the Court of Appeals, it merely restates in another way the principle that if only
questions of law are raised, these cases should be elevated to the Supreme Court. However, the issues
raised by the Sps Reyes in their appeal are not pure questions of law. Specifically, when private respondent
questioned the conclusion of the trial court that there was no meeting of the minds between lessor and
lessee regarding the sale of the leased property, private respondent raised a factual issue. Similarly, the
issue of whether or not there was a perfected contract of sale necessitates an inquiry into the facts and
evidence on record. Likewise, the question regarding the propriety of granting judgment on the pleadings
on the matter of rental arrears demands a scrutiny of the facts of the case. These being factual issues, the
CA had jurisdiction.
DISPOSITIVE:
Petition DENIED. Decision and Resolution of the CA AFFIRMED