Venue in Katarungang Pambarangay

The pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code read: SEC. 408. Subject Matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception Thereto. –

The lupon of each barangay shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes except:

(a) Where one party is the government or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;
(c) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding Five Thousand pesos (P5,000.00);(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;
(e) Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities or municipalities unless the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;
(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon; and
(g) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice.

The court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the lupon under this Code are filed may, at any time before trial, motu proprio refer the case to the lupon concerned for amicable settlement.

SEC. 409. Venue. –

(a) Disputes between persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought for amicable settlement before the lupon of said barangay .
(b) Those involving actual residents of different barangays within the same city or municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of the complainant.
(c) All disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or the larger portion thereof is situated.
(d) Those arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or at the institution where such parties are enrolled for study shall be brought in the barangay where such workplace or institution is located.

Objections to venue shall be raised in the mediation proceedings before the punong barangay; otherwise, the same shall be deemed waived. Any legal question which may confront the punong barangay in resolving objections to venue herein referred to may be submitted to the Secretary of Justice or his duly designated representative whose ruling thereon shall be binding. (G.R. No. 157830; November 17, 2005)
In the 1982 case of Tavora v. Veloso, the Supreme Court held that where the parties are not actual residents in the same city or municipality or adjoining barangays, there is no requirement for them to submit their dispute to the lupon as provided for in Section 6 vis a vis Sections 2 and 3 of P.D. 1508 (Katarungang Pambarangay Law).

[B]y express statutory inclusion and exclusion, the Lupon shall have no jurisdiction over disputes where the partiesare not actual residents of the same city or municipality, except where the barangays in which they actually reside adjoin each other. (Underscoring supplied)

In the 2000 case of Vercide v. Hernandez, the Supreme Court, noting that the Tavora ruling, reiterated in other cases including the 1996 case of Agbayani cited by petitioner, was decided under the provisions of P.D. No. 1508 (Katarungang Pambarangay) Law which were, except for some modifications, echoed in Sections 408-409 of the Local Government Code which took effect on January 1, 1992, held that the Tavora ruling remained.

To construe the express statutory requirement of actual residency as applicable to the attorney-in-fact of the party-plaintiff, as contended by respondent, would abrogate the meaning of a "real party in interest" as defined in Section 2 of Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Court vis a vis Section 3 of the same Rule which was earlier quoted but misread and misunderstood by respondent.

In fine, since the plaintiff-herein petitioner, the real party in interest, is not an actual resident of the barangay where the defendant-herein respondent resides, the local lupon has no jurisdiction over their dispute, hence, prior referral to it for conciliation is not a pre-condition to its filing in court. (G.R. No. 157830; November 17, 2005)