G.R. No. 190034, November 20, 2017


[ G.R. No. 190034, November 20, 2017 ]



Please take notice that the Court, First Division, issued a Resolution dated November 20, 2017, which reads as follows:

"G.R. No. 190034 (Atty. P.M. Castillo representing Permanent Piggery Farm v. Hon. Mayor Sonia Torres-Aquino, et al.).— This is a Petition[1] for Review on Certiorari seeking to set aside the Decision[2] dated 18 May 2009 and the Resolution[3] dated 2 October 2009 rendered by the Court of Appeals (CA) Fifth Division in CA-G.R. SP No. 105919. The CA affirmed the Order dated 6 October 2008 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Tanauan City, Batangas, Branch 6 (RTC), in Special Civil Action No. 07-10-3747.[4]THE ANTECEDENT FACTS

Atty. P.M. Castillo[5] (petitioner) filed with the RTC a Petition for Prohibition and Injunction with prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order/Writ of Preliminary Injunction Ex-Parte and Damages.[6] The petition was filed against local public officials namely: Mayor Sonia Torres-Aquino; Vice Mayor Julius Caesar Platon; Councilors Benedicto C. Corona, Marissa Tabing, Arthur S. Lirio, Angel V. Atienza, Teodolfo S. Nones II, Edilberto A. Quilao, Herminio R. Vivas, Jr., Edgardo O. Burgos, Wyngard Q. Narvaez, and Elmer L. Perez; Association of Barangay Councils president Simeon M. Platon; Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president Ralph Earl H. Borja; city legal officer Dario Guevarra; city health officer Adel Bautista; and city veterinary officer Aries Garcia.

Petitioner alleged in that petition that he was the owner of Permanent Piggery Farm in Tanauan City, Batangas. This commercial piggery farm was granted a Barangay Permit to Operate[7] in May 2006, while he was designated as a contract grower by Monterey Foods Corporation (Monterey).[8] He alleged that the permit was issued only after the lapse of a period of five months, after he had paid P10,000 for the performance of one entire brass band during the local barrio fiesta upon the solicitation of then Barangay Captain Olimpiana de Leon (De Leon).[9] He also alleged that De Leon always solicited money from him until he eventually resisted her corrupt practices.[10]

A few months after the grant of the permit, De Leon supposedly spread false information that the odor coming from his piggery farm was toxic and hazardous to health. He claimed that she had also initiated a protest[11] by the principal, teachers and pupils of Bagumbayan Elementary School on 20 November 2006. While admitting that the school was located just 25 meters away from the piggery farm, he claimed that the protest was subsequently withdrawn through a handwritten letter[12] dated 21 November 2006. Nevertheless, he filed a complaint[13] against De Leon before the RTC of Makati City, Branch 146, for this same act.

Petitioner alleged that his subsequent application for a business permit remained unacted upon by the barangay council led by the successor of De Leon, then incumbent Barangay Captain Remigio Platon (Platon).[14] Petitioner also accused Platon of bias. The former said that while petitioner's application remained unacted upon, Platon issued a barangay permit to another contract grower of Monterey. Hence, petitioner filed a case before the Ombudsman.[15]

Furthermore, respondent mayor, who was supposedly an ally of De Leon, issued an order directing that the piggery farm be closed and informed the president of Monterey about the closure of the piggery farm to allegedly undermine the existing contract Monterey had with petitioner. Respondent mayor also allegedly asked respondent vice mayor, as head of the city council, to declare the piggery farm a nuisance and to abate it on the basis of Article IV, Section 10(d), par. 4(a)[16] of Republic Act No. 9005.[17] The city council, composed of respondents vice mayor and city councilors, then issued Resolution No. 07-083[18] declaring the piggery farm a nuisance per se and resolved that the closure order issued by respondent mayor be implemented within a reasonable time.

Thus, petitioner filed a petition before the RTC praying that (1) a TRO or writ of injunction be issued pending the resolution of the case on the merits; and (2) after due notice and hearing, a decision be ultimately rendered declaring not only the order of respondent mayor, but also the resolution of respondent city council, null and void for having been ultra vires, an unreasonable, oppressive exercise of police power, and a violation of petitioner's right to due process, equal protection, and just compensation. Petitioner further asked for the payment of actual and moral damages.

Upon the order[19] of the trial court, respondents filed their Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim[20] stating that petitioner's piggery farm was never legitimate for lacking the city mayor's permit, sanitary permit, and environmental certificate;[21] and for failing to comply with the requirements[22] imposed by the inspection team. They therefore asked (1) for the dismissal of the petition for lack of merit, allegedly because petitioner had no legal right to protect; and (2) for the payment of damages to them for petitioner's filing of a baseless suit.[23]

After conducting a hearing, the trial court issued a TRO on 14 March 2008. However, the hearing on the merits of the case was postponed due to the illness of the judge. Subsequently, the trial court issued a status quo ante order without any objection from, and upon the agreement of, the parties.

Petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Load the Petitioner's Piggery Farm to Minimize Losses and Injury,[24] which respondents opposed by saying that a grant of the motion would "not only amount to a premature adjudication of the merits of the case in his favor" but would "also provide him with a means to continue operating his business illegally."[25] The RTC denied the motion for lack of merit.[26] Petitioner filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration Ad Cautelam,[27]which the trial court also denied.

Meanwhile, the parties attended a pretrial conference on 9 September 2008. They agreed to set aside the status quo ante order and to consider the issue of the preliminary injunction submitted for resolution on the basis of the evidence on record.[28] The trial court thereafter ruled that since petitioner had not shown any clear and unmistakable right to be protected, it was consequently denying the prayer for the issuance of a writ.[29] It then referred the case to the Philippine Mediation Center.[30]


On 11 July 2008, petitioner filed a Motion for Judgment by Default against respondent Platon and the other members of the City Council for failing to answer the written interrogatories.[31] Respondents, however, opposed the motion and stated that although petitioner was well aware of the imperfect relationship between the executive and the legislative branches of the City of Tanauan, he deliberately failed to serve a copy of the written interrogatories on respondents.[32] Resolving to deny the motion, the trial court declared that "justice would be better served if the parties would be given full opportunity to ventilate their respective causes in a full-blown trial and thus judgment shall be rendered on the merits."[33]

Petitioner filed before the CA a Petition for Certiorari and Injunction with Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order[34] dated 3 December 2008. He prayed that the appellate court allow him to load his piggery farm with new stocks of piglets to be supplied by Monterey, and that it set aside the RTC Orders dated 11 June 2008,[35] 29 August 2008, 22 September 2008,[36] and 6 October 2008.[37] The last order was received by petitioner on 15 October 2008.[38]


The CA rendered its Decision[39] affirming the assailed RTC Order dated 6 October 2008, on the basis of petitioner's inability to present evidence that the trial court judge committed grave abuse of discretion.[40] Petitioner initially filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was denied by the appellate court in a Resolution dated 22 June 2009 which decreed that the 15-day period was non-extendible.[41] Undaunted, he filed a Motion for Reconsideration Ad Cautelam dated 1 July 2009, but it was denied by the CA in a Resolution dated 9 July 2009 for having been filed 14 days past the reglementary period.[42] When he filed his Urgent Motion for Reconsideration Ad Cautelam dated 31 July 2009, the CA required respondents to file their Comment thereon. After finding petitioner's excuse of heavy workload as too flimsy to warrant an extension of time to file the motion and petitioner's arguments therein as mere rehash of those in the petition, it resolved to deny the motion.[43]

Hence, this petition, in which petitioner assails the ruling of the CA and prays that the RTC orders be declared void ab initio, and that he be allowed to load his piggery farm with new stocks of piglets.[44] In particular, he bewails the double standard in the barangay officials' issuance of a permit to another Monterey contract grower, but not to him; in the trial court's denial of his motion to declare respondents in default; and in the appellate court's denial of his motion for reconsideration.[45]

In their Comment,[46] respondents aver that petitioner has operated his business illegally and has not done anything to legitimize it.[47]

In his Reply to Comment,[48] petitioner claims that he has managed and operated his business without a license for more than 10 years, and that he was only harassed by respondent public officials after he had entered into a contract with Monterey.[49]

In compliance with the Resolution[50] dated 11 July 2012 requiring the parties to inform the Court of the current status of Special Civil Action No. 07-10-3747 pending before the RTC,[51] petitioner filed his Compliance[52] dated 10 August 2012. He stated that neither party had filed any pleading before the RTC, which had likewise not issued any order.[53] Respondents filed an Information[54] dated 22 August 2012 attaching the RTC Order dated 22 September 2008 and the CA Decision dated 18 May 2009.[55]


The Court is tasked to resolve the sole issue of whether the CA committed a reversible error in the assailed ruling.

We resolve to DENY the Petition.

The assailed CA ruling dismissed the petition for certiorari which had sought to set aside the RTC Order dated 6 October 2008. Said Order dismissed petitioner's motion to declare respondents in default for their failure to respond to the written interrogatories. Although the petition before the CA sought the setting aside of the other Orders of the trial court, only the latter's Order dated 6 October 2008, received by petitioner on 15 October 2008, was timely appealed by petitioner. After receiving it, petitioner filed his certiorari petition before the CA on 3 December 2008. Thus, it made a pronouncement pertaining only to the latest order of the trial court.

Ruling on the denial of the motion to declare respondents in default, the CA correctly stated that the assailed order was not tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

Section 5[56] of Rule 29 of the Rules of Court provides that the court, on motion and notice, may enter a judgment of default against a party who wilfully fails to serve answers to interrogatories after a proper service thereof. However, the RTC liberally construed the letter of the law in the interest of fair play, especially when it noted, upon opposition by respondents, that the latter were willing to file an answer to the interrogatories.

More important, respondents had already filed their Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim as early as 19 October 2007. Hence, their failure to serve their answer to the written interrogatories may not necessarily result in an entry of judgment by default against them. They have already stated in their Answer that petitioner had no legal right to protect, since he had managed his business without the requisite city mayor's permit, sanitary permit, and environmental certificate - a fact admitted even by petitioner. Thus, the CA correctly ruled that no grave abuse of discretion could be imputed to the trial court for ruling as the latter did: the RTC denied the motion to declare respondents in default and consequently, denied the prayer for a writ of injunction.

The CA also correctly denied petitioner's first Motion for Reconsideration for having been filed out of time. The general rule is that no motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration is allowed.[57] Sections 1[58] and 5[59] of Rule VII of the 2002 Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals provide that unless an appeal or a motion for reconsideration or new trial is filed within the 15-day reglementary period, the CA's decision becomes final. However, upon the filing of a second Motion for Reconsideration by petitioner, the appellate court liberally construed the rules and gave due course to the motion. It ultimately ruled on the merits of the motion, finding the arguments stated therein to be a mere rehash and correctly denying the motion.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 18 May 2009 and the Resolution dated 2 October 2009 rendered by the Court of Appeals, Fifth Division, in CA-G.R. SP No. 105919, are hereby AFFIRMED.


Very truly yours,

Division Clerk of Court

[1] Rollo, pp. 3-31; dated 10 November 2009, but filed on 12 November 2009.

[2] Id. at 33-49; penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Magdangal M. de Leon and Ramon R. Garcia.

[3] Id. at 51-54.

[4] Id. at 48.

[5] Also referred to as Pablito M. Castillo in the Application for Business (id. at 220).

[6] Rollo, pp. 98-112.

[7] Id. at 166.

[8] Id. at 35

[9] Id. at 102.

[10] Id.

[11] Id. at 193-209.

[12] Id. at 210.

[13] Id. at 127-134.

[14] Id. at 189.

[15] Id.

[16] The pertinent part reads:

Section 10. The Sangguniang Panlungsod. - The sangguniang panlungsod, the legislative body of the City, shall be composed of the city vice mayor as presiding officer, ten (10) regular sanggunian members, the president of the city chapter of the liga ng mga barangay, the president of the panlungsod na pederasyon ng mga sangguniang kabataan and the sectoral representatives, as members,
x x x x
(d)The sangguniang panlungsod shall:
x x x x
(4)Regulate activities relative to the use of land, buildings and structures within the City in order to promote the general welfare and for said purpose, shall: (a)Declare, prevent or abate any nuisance;

[17] An Act Converting the Municipality of Tanauan, Province of Batangas into a Component City to be known as the City of Tanauan, approved on 2 February 2001.

[18] Rollo, p. 117; dated 8 October 2007.

[19] Id. at 118; dated 3 October 2007; issued by Judge Arcadio L. Manigbas.

[20] Id. at 119-126.

[21] Id. at 120.

[22] Id. at 141; The recommendation listed in the Magkasanib na Ulat Tungkol sa Inspeksyon includes:

a.) Maglagay ng karagdagang septic tank para sa lagakan/lalagyan ng dumi ng baboy.
b.) Linisin mabuti ang paligid at kulungan ng baboy ng malimit kaysa sa kinagawian upang hindi mangamoy.
c.) Takpan ang drainage at linisin ang mga duming narito upang maiwasan ang pangangamoy.

[23] Id. at 124.

[24] Id. at 147-149; dated 2 May 2008.

[25] Id. at 150.

[26] Id. at 150-151; dated 12 June 2008.

[27] Id. at 152-157.

[28] Id. at 160.

[29] Id. at 160-163; dated 22 September 2008.

[30] Id. at 163.

[31] Id. at 164.

[32] Id.

[33] Id. at 165; dated 6 October 2008.

[34] Id. at 56-86.

[35] Supra note 26; mistakenly listed as 11 June 2008 when in fact, the Order was dated 12 June 2008.

[36] Supra note 29.

[37] Supra note 33.

[38] Id. at 83.

[39] Id. at 33-49.

[40] Id. at 48.

[41] Id. at 52.

[42] Id.

[43] Id. at 54.

[44] Id. at 28.

[45] Id. at 17.

[46] Id. at 256-259.

[47] Id. at 259.

[48] Id. at 262-269.

[49] Id. at 264.

[50] Id. at 289.

[51] Id.

[52] Id. at 291-292.

[53] Id. at 291.

[54] Id. at 296-299.

[55] Id. at 300-321.

[56] Section 5. Failure of party to attend or serve answers. — If a party or an officer or managing agent of a party wilfully fails to appear before the officer who is to take his deposition, after being served with a proper notice, or fails to serve answers to interrogatories submitted under Rule 25 after proper service of such interrogatories, the court on motion and notice, may strike out all or any part of any pleading of that party, or dismiss the action or proceeding or any part thereof, or enter a judgment by default against that party, and in its discretion, order him to pay reasonable expenses incurred by the other, including attorney's fees, (emphases supplied)

[57] Imperial v. CA, 606 Phil. 391 (2009).

[58] Section 1. Entry of Judgment. Unless a motion for reconsideration or new trial is filed or an appeal taken to the Supreme Court, judgments and final resolutions of the Court shall be entered upon expiration of fifteen (15) days from notice to the parties.

[59] Sec. 5. Entry of Judgment and Final Resolution. If no appeal or motion for new trial or reconsideration is filed within the time provided in these Rules, the judgment or final resolution shall forthwith be entered by the clerk in the book of entries of judgments. The date when the judgment or final resolution becomes executory shall be deemed as the date of its entry. The record shall contain the dispositive part of the judgment or final resolution and shall be signed by the clerk, with a certificate that such judgment or final resolution has become final and executory.