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a spiky study of tamilna

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Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-37105 February 10, 1981
ALEJO MADERA, RICARDO DEQUITO, LEONCIO RAMON, OSCAR ALFREDO, AQUILINO
FRANCISCO, INOCENCIO SAWILE, INOCENCIO REYES, FRANCISCO MAYNABAY BONIFACIO
FAJARDO, BLAS ALACRE and MANUEL MIOLI, petitioners-appellants,
vs.
HEIRS OF SALVADOR LOPEZ, represented by ENRIQUE LOPEZ, LEOPOLDO LOPEZ, MARIA
LOPEZ, SALVADOR LOPEZ, JR., RODOLFO LOPEZ, FLORDELIZ LOPEZ-IÑIGO ORTILLANO D.
TAN (Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Davao Oriental), and HON. ALEJANDRO E. SEBASTIAN, as
Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao del Norte, Branch I, respondents- appellees.
AQUINO, J.:
The eleven petitioners, illiterate farmers, appealed from the order of the Court of First Instance of Davao
del Norte, dated November 21, 1972, dismissing their complaint against the respondents (except Judge
Alejandro E. Sebastian) for the recovery of (1) damages due to alleged malicious prosecution and (2)
the value of the copra supposedly derived from the coconuts taken from their lands by the respondent
Lopez heirs (Civil Case No. 287). That complaint discloses the following facts:
The petitioners and twenty-three other farmers claim to be the adverse possessors en concepto de
dueno of a parcel of land, with an area of around seventy hectares located at Sitio Ligadan, Barrio Limot,
Mati, Davao Oriental, now known as Lot No. 1285 of the Mati cadastre.
In a decision dated February 28, 1959, the justice of the peace court of Mati, acting as a cadastral court
upon assignment of the District Judge, awarded Lot No. 1285 to the Municipality of Mati on condition
that it would be used as the site of an agricultural school within four years from that date and if such
condition was not fulfilled, then the lot would revert to the owners, the heirs of Salvador Lopez (Cadastral
Case No. N-17, LRC Cadastral Record No. 235, BL Cad. 287, Case No. 3, Republic vs. De Kalintas).
In 1963, the petitioners and other interested persons filed in the Court of First Instance a motion to set
aside the said decision. On learning that the Land Registration Commission had issued a decree of
registration, the petitioners filed an alternative petition for review under section 38 of Act No. 496.
The lower court denied that petition but the order of denial was reversed by this Court (Republic vs. De
Kalintas. Dequito vs. Heirs of Salvador Lopez, L-25141, January 31, 1969, 26 SCRA 716).
Original Certificate of Title No. 2280 was issued for the said lot to the Heirs of Salvador Lopez on
October 18, 1963 (pp. 2728, Rollo)
After the issuance of that title, the heirs of Salvador Lopez allegedly harassed the petitioners with
complaints for qualified theft of coconuts (p. 15, Rollo). The charges were dismissed by the Court of First
Instance upon motion of the prosecutor.
Thus, in an order dated September 17, 1965, Judge Manases G. Reyes dismissed Criminal Case No.
9098 against Leoncio Ranion et al. on the ground that the liability, if any of the accused, is civil in nature,

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since they acted in good faith and under a bona fide claim of ownership over the coconut trees involved
in the case (p. 42, Rollo).
On the same ground, Judge Alfredo 1. Gonzales in an order dated September 11, 1965 dismissed
Criminal Case No. 9282 against Ricardo Dequito, et al. (pp. 43 and 52, Rollo).
Notwithstanding those dismissals, respondent Ortillano D. Tan, as special counsel, filed against the
petitioners and four others persons in the Court of First Instance of Davao Oriental an information for
qualified theft dated July 11, 1969) (Criminal Case No. 213).
It was alleged in the information that the accused on September 28, 1965 stole the coconuts from the
plantation of Enrique Lopez, Sr, in Mati and converted the same into copra valued at P734.37 (pp. 44-
45, Rollo).
Judge Vicente Bullecer ordered the arrest, of the accused. The petitioners were arrested and
incarcerated in the provincial jail unable to post bail by reason of their poverty (pp. 46-50, Rollo). They
filed against Judge Bullecer in the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus
wherein they assailed the indictment.
The Court of Appeals held that a prejudicial question concerning ownership was involved in Criminal
Case No. 213 and, therefore, Judge Bullecer erred in not granting the petitioners' motion to quash. He
was directed to dismiss the case and to release the imprisoned petitioners (Dequito vs. Bullecer CA-GR
No. 45419-R, January 18, 1972, per Concepcion Jr., Serrano and San Diego, JJ., pp. 51-56, Rollo).
In compliance with that Chat directive, Judge Bullecer on March 6, 1972 ordered the release from the
provincial jail of the petitioners and four other persons (p. 57, Rollo The petitioners had been imprisoned
for more than two years (p. 1, Rollo, p. 25, Appellants' brief).
On June 19, 1972 or about three months after their release from jail, the petitioners filed against the
Heirs of Salvador Lopez and Fiscal Ortillano the aforementioned complaint for damages arising from the
alleged malicious prosecution which damages, as computed by respondent fiscal, amounted to
P1,279,330. They alleged in their complaint the circumstances recited above.
The fiscal in his answer pleaded that he acted in good faith and with probable cause in filing the
information and that he is exempt from civil liability for his official actions. He denied that he filed the
information at the behest of respondent Leopoldo Lopez, the governor of Davao Oriental.
Respondents Lopez in their answer averred that the petitioners were Visayan immigrants who squatted
on the land in question and that Judge Bullecer was not bound by the prior dismissal orders issued by
Judges Reyes and Gonzales. The said respondents interposed as affirmative defenses lack of cause of
action and lack of jurisdiction because of alleged underpayment of the docket fee.
The record does not show whether Judge Alejandro E. Sebastian, to whom the case was assigned, held
a pre-trial. On November, 21, 1972, he dismissed the case on the erroneous ground that the complaint
was prematurely filed, meaning that it stated no valid cause of action (pp. 85-86, Rollo) because at the
time the action was filed, Criminal Case No. 213, the qualified theft case against the petitioners, was still
pending.
Judge Sebastian further held that as respondent fiscal filed the information as a quasi-judicial officer, he
is not civilly liable for his official act.
The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration wherein they called Judge Sebastian's attention to the
fact that the Court of Appeals had already dismissed the criminal case before the civil action in the
instant case was filed.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-37105 February 10, 1981 ALEJO MADERA, RICARDO DEQUITO, LEONCIO RAMON, OSCAR ALFREDO, AQUILINO FRANCISCO, INOCENCIO SAWILE, INOCENCIO REYES, FRANCISCO MAYNABAY BONIFACIO FAJARDO, BLAS ALACRE and MANUEL MIOLI, petitioners-appellants, vs. HEIRS OF SALVADOR LOPEZ, represented by ENRIQUE LOPEZ, LEOPOLDO LOPEZ, MARIA LOPEZ, SALVADOR LOPEZ, JR., RODOLFO LOPEZ, FLORDELIZ LOPEZ-IÑIGO ORTILLANO D. TAN (Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Davao Oriental), and HON. ALEJANDRO E. SEBASTIAN, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao del Norte, Branch I, respondents- appellees.   AQUINO, J.: The eleven petitioners, illiterate farmers, appealed from the order of the Court of First Instance of Davao del Norte, dated November 21, 1972, dismissing their complaint against the respondents (except Judge Alejandro E. Sebastian) for the recovery of (1) damages due to alleged malicious prosecution and (2) the value of the copra supposedly derived from the coconuts taken from their lands by the respondent Lopez heirs (Civil Case No. 287). That complaint discloses the following facts: The petitioners and twenty-three other farmers claim to be the adverse possessors en concepto de dueno of a parcel of land, with an area of around seventy hectares located at Sitio Ligadan, Barrio Limot, Mati, Davao Oriental, now known as Lot No. 1285 of the Mati cadastre. In a decision dated February 28, 1959, the justice of the peace co ...
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