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477 Phil. 731


[ G.R. No. 145466, July 07, 2004 ]




This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court seeking to annul and set aside the Order[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City, Branch 14, in Civil Case No. 5093 denying the application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction of petitioner Zamboanga Barter Goods Retailers Association, Inc. and its Order denying the motion for reconsideration thereon.

The petition at bar arose from the following antecedents:

The petitioner is a corporation duly organized and established under Philippine laws and has two hundred eighty-eight (288) barter-traders as members.  Sometime in 1994, the respondent city government of Zamboanga allowed the members of the petitioner to temporarily occupy a reclaimed area located at P. Lorenzo St., Port Area, Barangay Zone 4.  The members of the petitioner proceeded to construct their respective stalls on the property, and sold their wares therein.  On July 10, 1994, a fire gutted most of the said stalls.

On July 26, 1994, the city building officials of Zamboanga issued a building permit for the construction of a one-storey building on the reclaimed area right behind the city hall.  The petitioner paid monthly rentals thereon, and its members occupied the building and sold their wares therein. The petitioner, likewise, declared the building for taxation purposes the following year at the assessment value of P1,591,100.00,[2] and thereafter paid realty taxes on the said improvements.

In 1998, the respondent decided to construct the city fire station on the property  occupied  by  the  petitioner, and  requested the latter to vacate  the property.  Upon representations made by some members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the respondent city granted several extensions to the petitioner to look for a new site for its building and vacate the property.  However, despite such extensions granted to it, the petitioner failed to vacate the property.

On October 18, 2000, Mayor Maria Clara L. Lobregat sent a letter to the petitioner, through its president, Hadji Gumampang, giving it a last extension, or until October 31, 2000, in view of the urgency of the construction of the city fire station.

The petitioner, through counsel, sent a Letter[3] dated October 19, 2000, to Mayor Lobregat stating that before it complied with such demand to vacate, it must first be adequately compensated for the value of the building and the other improvements it constructed on the subject property. The respondent city government took no action on the letter, and the petitioner’s request for an audience with Mayor Lobregat or her representative to determine a just compensation for said improvements, likewise, failed to materialize.

On October 25, 2000, the petitioner filed its complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City, Branch 14, against the respondent for injunction with prayer for issuance of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order to enjoin the city government from evicting them from the property. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 5093.  The petitioner alleged, inter alia, the following in its complaint:
  1. That ousting the plaintiff from the present area in the absence of the settlement of claims over their rights to said improvements consisting of buildings and in view of the unavailability of alternative site where they could transfer their business would greatly work grave injustice and irreparable damages not only to their business and the individual member (sic) of the Association but to the members of their respective family (sic) as well who depend for (sic) them for support;

  2. That in view of the refusal of the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for the improvements introduced and its eagerness to demolish the improvements belonging to the plaintiff and/or padlock the premises, there is a need to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction enjoining the defendant to cease and desist from threatening, or doing acts which may probably be in violation of the rights of the herein plaintiff and further direct the defendant to maintain the status quo pending the resolution of the instant case, and for this purpose hereby offer a bond in such sum as this Honorable Court may fix.[4]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, plaintiff most respectfully pray (sic) of this Honorable Court that upon the filing hereof, a Temporary Restraining  Order  and/or  Writ  of Preliminary Injunction be immediately issued enjoining the defendant, its agent or representative, to refrain and desist from threatening or doing acts which may be in violation of the rights of the herein plaintiff and that after trial said Writ of Preliminary Injunction be made permanent.

Plaintiff pray[s] for other relief just and equitable under the circumstances.[5]
The complaint and summons were served on the respondent, and the case was set for hearing on the application for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction on October 25, 2000.  During the hearing, the petitioner presented its documentary evidence[6] showing that it had paid its quarterly fees for retailing business permits effective until December 31, 2000, as well as garbage fees and other surcharges and interests. The petitioner, likewise, presented an official receipt showing its payment of the real estate tax on March 31, 2000.[7]

On October 26, 2000, the trial court[8] issued its assailed Order denying the petitioner’s application for a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction.  The court declared that the petitioner failed to establish a clear and unmistakable right for injunctive relief.[9]

The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order but the trial court denied the same on October 30, 2000.[10] However, the trial court recommended to the respondent to let the petitioner stay in the subject premises until December 31, 2000, since it had already paid its business permit up to the said date.[11]  The respondent agreed to the recommendation of the trial court.

However, on November 6, 2000,  the  petitioner filed  the  petition  at bar, contending that:

The petitioner asserts that it had been issued a business permit after the payment of the necessary fees effective up to December 31, 2000 and that the respondent had no right to evict its members from the property until such date.  Hence, the petitioner avers, the trial court should have issued a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction enjoining the respondent from evicting its members from the property.  The petitioner argues that its right to stay in the property is buttressed by its documentary evidence that it had paid the real estate taxes due.

In its Comment[14] on the petition, the respondent contends that the assailed order, even if erroneous, is merely an error of judgment not correctable by certiorari.  It asserts that it acquiesced to the recommendation of the trial court, and allowed the petitioner to stay and carry on its business in the subject premises until December 31, 2000; and yet, the petitioner still filed its petition with this Court on November 6, 2000.  The respondent also avers that it needs the property for the construction of the city fire station, a public infrastructure property, the accomplishment of which cannot be enjoined under Presidential Decree No. 1818.

The petition is dismissed.

First.  The petitioner blatantly disregarded the hierarchy of courts. Although the Supreme Court, Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals have concurrent jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give the petitioner unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum.[15] Furthermore, no special and important reason or exceptional and compelling circumstance has been adduced by the petitioner as to why a direct recourse to the Court should be allowed.  The present recourse should have been filed with the Court of Appeals under Rule 65, Section 4 of the Rules of Court, which provides:
SEC. 4.  Where petition filed. – The petition may be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution sought to be assailed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the acts or omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as defined by the Supreme Court.  It may also be filed in the Court of Appeals whether or not the same is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction.  If it involves the acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, and unless otherwise provided by law or these Rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of Appeals.
Second. Even if we ignore the petitioner’s procedural faux pas and delve into the merits of its petition, still we find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in denying the petitioner’s application for a temporary restraining order and/or a writ of preliminary injunction.

The petitioner was burdened to establish the following requirements for it to be entitled to injunctive relief: (1) the existence of its right to be protected; and (2) that the acts against which the injunction is to be directed are violative of such right.[16] The petitioner failed to discharge its burden.  It is evident that the petitioner occupied the property at the sufferance of the respondent after the expiry of its right to occupy the same in 1998.  The respondent had granted the petitioner several extensions of time to vacate the property, so that it could look for a property where it could rebuild its building.  The consistent rulings of the Court is that a person who occupies a land of another at the latter’s tolerance or permission, without any contract between them is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon demand.[17] For two (2) years, the petitioner continued staying on the property.  Despite the respondent’s magnanimity, the petitioner refused to vacate the property upon demand.

The bare fact that the petitioner had been granted a business permit until December 31, 2000 and had paid its realty taxes for the same period did not give the petitioner the right to continue staying in the property over the respondent’s objection.  As the petitioner failed to establish any right violated or to be protected by injunction, the trial court had no other alternative but to deny petitioner’s plea for injunctive relief.

It bears stressing that the property occupied by the petitioner was needed by the respondent for the much delayed construction of a fire station, in response to the appeal of the City Fire Marshal in his letter to the City Mayor, viz:
It may be recalled, in this connection, that under the provisions of Section 52 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the DILG Act of 1990 (RA 6975), the LGUs at the City or Municipal levels are mandated to “render support for the efficient and effective performance of the role of the  Fire  Service in the  event of emergencies and fire-related incidents.” They are also mandated to “provide the necessary land or site of the fire station.”  In the light of these provisions of the rules and regulations herein-cited, may we respectfully and earnestly appeal to Your Honor, to secure suitable land or site where a permanent fire station building could be constructed.

As soon as the land or site is available for the construction of the fire station building, the same must be donated to the BFP, through the Fire Chief (National Office) or his authorized representative, for inclusion in the program for construction of fire station building(s) in this Region.  Along this line, it is our fervent hope and prayers that your good office will give this appeal her preferential attention and kindest consideration in the interest of public service.[18]
Third.  The petitioner is estopped from assailing the trial court’s October 26 and 30, 2000 Orders, since the parties had already agreed before such court to defer the eviction of the petitioner’s members from the property until December 31, 2000, in the spirit of the Christmas season.

IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.  The assailed Orders are AFFIRMED in all respects.

Costs against the petitioner.


Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, and Tinga, JJ., concur.

[*] Deceased.

[1] Penned by Judge Ernesto R. Gutierrez.

[2] Annex “F” of the Complaint, Records, p. 11.

[3] Annex “I” of the Complaint, Id. at 14.

[4] Id. at 3.

[5] Id. at 4.

[6] Exhibits “A” to “E,” inclusive.

[7] Records, pp. 20A-24.

[8] Presided by Judge Ernesto R. Gutierrez.

[9] Records, p. 32.

[10] Id. at 33.

[11] Id.

[12] Rollo, p. 9.

[13] Id. at 10.

[14] Id. at 53.

[15] See Yared v. Ilarde, 337 SCRA 53 (2000); People v. Court of Appeals, 301 SCRA 566 (1999); Aleria, Jr. v. Velez, 298 SCRA 611 (1998); Tano v. Socrates, 278 SCRA 154 (1997).

[16] Suico Industrial Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 301 SCRA 212 (1999).

[17] Pengson v. Ocampo, Jr. 360 SCRA 420 (2001).

[18] Records, p. 53.

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