Monday, March 05, 2012

Unilongo vs. CA (April 5, 1999)

Facts: Sto. Nino de Cul de Sac Neighborhood Association Inc. (SNSNAI) was incorporated and registered with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) by petitioners Unilongo Group, comprising them as the original Board of Trustees. However, since no elections for a new Board of Trustees and for a new set of officers were held from the time of its incorporation, the petitioners subsequently amended the SNSNA's by-laws by changing the term of office of the Board of Trustees from 1yr to 2 yrs. Despite amendments, elections were held by private respondents Dino Group, from where they emerged as the new officers. Then again, the Unilongo group established Sto. Nino de Cul de Sac Homeowners Association Inc. (CHSHA) and registered the same with the Home Insurance Guarantee Corporation (HIGC). From this arise the controversy on who should represent the homeowners and hold the offices and positions therefrom. Private respondents, in their quo warranto complaints, sought to ouster the Unilongo group from the Board of Trustees of the SNSNAI and to dissolve the CDSHA and declare its registration with the HIGC null and void for being in contravention of law and illegally formed. In response, two pleadings, an answer with counterclaim and a motion to dismiss on grounds of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, were filed by petitioners. They contended that disputes involving homeowners association fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the HIGC. The motion to dismiss was denied. Dissatisfied, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of Appeals, which was again denied for lack of merit. On appeal, petitioners contended that the regular courts have no jurisdiction over intra-corporate controversies. 

Issue: Whether or not the regular courts have jurisdiction over intra-corporate controversies. 

Held: NO. HIGC has original and exclusive jurisdiction over intra-corporate controversies. The jurisdiction of the SEC over intra-corporate matters concerning homeowners association including their dissolution as found in P.D 902-A has been transferred to the Home Insurance and Guarantee Corporation. Whatever ambiguities that may arise regarding jurisdiction over quo warranto action against corporation or person usurping corporate offices are classified and resolved by the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. Quo Warranto actions against corporation or person using corporate offices fall under the jurisdiction of SEC, unless otherwise provided for by law, such as where the corporate entities involved are homeowners associations, in which case jurisdiction is lodged with the Home Insurance and Guarantee Corporation (HIGC).

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