Friday, February 03, 2012

Municipality of Biñan vs. Garcia

Facts: The expropriation suit was commenced by complaint of the Municipality of Biñan, Laguna  filed in the RTC. The complaint named as defendants the owners of eleven (11) adjacent parcels of land in Biñan The land sought to be expropriated was intended for use as the new site of a modern public market and the acquisition was authorized by a resolution of the Sangguniang Bayan. One of the defendants, Francisco filed a MTD. Her motion was filed pursuant to Section 3, Rule 67. Her "motion to dismiss" was thus actually a pleading, taking the place of an answer in an ordinary civil action; it was not an ordinary motion governed by Rule 15, or a "motion to dismiss" within the contemplation of Rule 16. Respondent Judge issued a writ of possession in favor of the plaintiff Municipality.

Francisco filed a "Motion for Separate Trial. She alleged she had the special defense of "a constitutional defense of vested right via a pre-existing approved Locational Clearance from the H.S.R.C. The Court granted the motion. It directed that a separate trial be held for Francisco regarding her special defenses.

Judge issued order dismissing the complaint "as against defendant FRANCISCO," and amending the Writ of Possessions as to "exclude therefrom and from its force and effects said defendant .. and her property ..."

 The Municipality filed a MR. Francisco filed an "Ex-Parte Motion for Execution and/or Finality of Order," contending that the Order had become "final and executory for failure of the Municipality to file a motion for reconsideration and/or appeal within the reglementary period," i.e "fifteen (15) days counted from the notice of the final order .. appealed from.

The Municipality contended that "multiple appeals are allowed by law" in actions of eminent domain, and hence the period of appeal is thirty (30), not fifteen (15) days;the special civil action of partition and accounting under Rule 69.

Issue: whether the special civil action of eminent domain under Rule 67 is a case "wherein multiple appeals are allowed, as regards which 'the period of appeal shall be thirty [30] days, instead of fifteen (15) days

Held: In actions of eminent domain, as in actions for partition, since no less than two (2) appeals are allowed by law, the period for appeal from an order of condemnation is thirty (30) days counted from notice of order and not the ordinary period of fifteen (15) days prescribed for actions in general, conformably with the provision of Section 39 of BP129 to the effect that in "appeals in special proceedings in accordance with Rule 109 of the Rules of Court and other cases wherein multiple appeals are allowed, the period of appeal shall be thirty (30) days, a record of appeal being required.

The municipality's MR was therefore timely presented, well within the thirty-day period laid down by law therefor; and it was error for the Trial Court to have ruled otherwise and to have declared that the order sought to be considered had become final and executory.

 It is claimed by the Municipality that the issuance of such a separate, final order or judgment had given rise "ipso facto to a situation where multiple appeals became available." The Municipality is right. In an action against several defendants, the court may, when a several judgment is proper, render judgment against one or more of them, leaving the action to proceed against the others. "  In lieu of the original record, a record on appeal will perforce have to be prepared and transmitted to the appellate court. More than one appeal being permitted in this case, therefore, "the period of appeal shall be thirty (30) days, a record of appeal being required as provided by the Implementing Rules in relation to Section 39 of B.P. Blg. 129.

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