Appeal from MTC to RTC

Under Section 8, Rule 40 of the Rules of Court, if the MTC tries a case on the merits despite having no jurisdiction over the subject matter, its decision may be reviewed on appeal by the RTC, to wit:
Sec. 8. Appeal from orders dismissing case without trial; lack of jurisdiction.

If an appeal is taken from an order of the lower court dismissing the case without a trial on the merits, the Regional Trial Court may affirm or reverse it, as the case may be. In case of affirmance and the ground of dismissal is lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court, if it has jurisdiction thereover, shall try the case on the merits as if the case was originally filed with it. In case of reversal, the case shall be remanded for further proceedings.

If the case was tried on the merits by the lower court without jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court on appeal shall not dismiss the ease if it has original jurisdiction thereof, but shall decide the case in accordance with the preceding section, without prejudice to the admission of amended pleadings and additional evidence in the interest of justice.[1]

In the case of Serrano v. Spouses Gutierrez,[2] the Supreme Court explained that the first paragraph of Section 8, Rule 40 contemplates an appeal from an order of dismissal issued without trial of the case on the merits, while the second paragraph deals with an appeal from an order of dismissal but the case was tried on the merits. Both paragraphs, however, involve the same ground for dismissal, i.e., lack of jurisdiction. Verily, the second paragraph refutes any contention that Section 8, Rule 40 refers solely to cases where the MTC dismissed a case filed therein without a trial on the merits and an appeal to the RTC was taken from the order of dismissal. Therefore, the RTC would correctly proceed to decide the case on the merits despite the MTC's lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The RTC's appellate jurisdiction, as contrasted to its original jurisdiction, is provided in Section 22 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, thus:

SECTION 22. Appellate jurisdiction.-Regional Trial Courts shall exercise appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided by Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in their respective territorial jurisdictions. Such cases shall be decided on the basis of the entire record of the proceedings had in the court of origin such memoranda and/or briefs as may be submitted by the parties or required by the Regional Trial Courts.

The above-quoted provision vests upon the RTC the exercise of appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in their respective territorial jurisdictions. Clearly then, the amount involved is immaterial for purposes of the RTC's appellate jurisdiction; all cases decided by the MTC are generally appealable to the RTC irrespective of the amount involved.[3] For example, the RTC not only has exclusive original jurisdiction over an action for reconveyance of ownership and possession with damages, but also appellate jurisdiction over the MTC decision itself.[4]

[1] Emphasis added.

[2] 537 Phil. 187, 197 (2006).

[3] Serrano v. Spouses Gutierrez, supra, at 196.

[4] Vera v. Spouses Santiago, G.R. No. 179457, June 22, 2015.

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