446 Phil. 823
“WHEREFORE, the petition at bench is DISMISSED. Costs against the petitioner.”The assailed Resolution denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.
“On September 16, 1996, the herein private respondent John Keng Seng, a.k.a. John Sy, filed a complaint for ‘accounting of general agency, injunction, turning over of properties, and damages,’ with the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 53, against the herein petitioner Emilio Young and his wife, Tita Young. The case was docketed thereat as Civil Case No. 96-9508. The private respondent subsequently filed an Amended Complaint with the same Court. The spouses Young, for their part, filed a Motion to Dismiss the case for lack of cause of action.
“On March 6, 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 53, issued an order dismissing Civil Case No. 96-9508. The private respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid order was denied by the same court in its Order of April 2, 1997.
“On June 23, 1997, John Keng Seng filed another complaint for accounting and damages with the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 44, against the herein petitioner Emilio Young. The case was docketed in that court as Civil Case No. 97-9830. Young filed a Motion to Dismiss the case on the ground that the ‘complaint fails to state a good, valid and/or worthwhile cause of action against the defendant.’ The respondent court denied the Motion to Dismiss in its order of August 19, 1997. The petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid order based on the following grounds:‘The complainant x x x fails to state a good, valid and/or worthwhile cause of action as against the defendant.“The private respondent having filed his ‘Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration,’ and the petitioner, his Reply, the presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental, Branch 44, Bacolod City, Judge Anastacio I. Lobaton, issued an order x x x date[d] September 23, 1997 granting the petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration and dismissing Civil Case No. 97-9830. To this, the private respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration; to which, the petitioner, in turn, tendered an Opposition.‘and
‘Plaintiff had fatally failed to comply with the rule against forum shopping, as he has in fact deliberately submitted a false certification under oath as contained in the complaint in the present suit.’
“On October 24, 1997, Judge A.I. Lobaton inhibited himself from the case, thusly—‘WHEREFORE, undersigned inhibits himself from hearing the cases wherein John Keng Seng is one of the parties and let the following records be forwarded to the Office of the Clerk of Court of RTC, Bacolod City for re-raffle.
‘Bacolod City, October 24, 1997.‘(SGD) ANASTACIO I. LOBATON
“On December 16, 1998, the herein public respondent Judge Demosthenes L. Magallanes, the presiding judge of the respondent Branch 54, Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, to whom the present case was re-raffled, issued an order, the decretal part of which reads:‘THEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing consideration, this Court is of the opinion that the herein plaintiff had not violated the rule on forum shopping. The order dated September 23, 1998 is therefore RECONSIDERED. The Clerk of Court is hereby directed to set the case for further proceedings.
‘Bacolod City, Philippines, December 16, 1998.‘(SGD) DEMOSTHENES L. MAGALLANES
“The petitioner moved for reconsideration of the above order, but his motion was [denied] by the respondent court x x x in its order of April 23, 1999.” (Citations omitted)
“Whether or not in holding that respondent has not violated the rule against forum shopping notwithstanding and despite the record clearly showing and the trial court itself having categorically found via its Order of Sept. 23, 1997 there to have been the willful and deliberate submission of a false certification (against forum shopping) as well as non-compliance with the undertaking under Rule 7, Sec. 5 of the Rules of Court, the Court of Appeals had decided a question of substance in a way not in accord with law, that law being the rule abovementioned and jurisprudence; as well as had sanctioned a substantial departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to warrant the exercise by this Honorable Tribunal of its supervisory powers thereover.” (Citation omitted)On the other hand, respondent raises these two issues before us:
“I. Whether or not the Court of Appeals has sanctioned a substantial departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings in upholding the order dated September 16, 1998 in Civil Case No. 97-9830 of Hon. Judge Demosthenes Magallanes denying petitioner’s motion to dismiss on the alleged ground of forum shopping; andFor purposes of clarity, we deem it wise to discuss the issues as follows: (1) whether petitioner can still raise the alleged violation of the rule on non-forum shopping, even if he failed to cite it as a ground in his Motion to Dismiss the Second Case; (2) whether the CA erred in holding that respondent had not violated the rule on forum shopping; and (3) whether such violation warrants the automatic dismissal of the Second Case.
“II. Whether or not the petitioner is deemed to have waived the right to invoke forum shopping as a ground for a motion to dismiss in Civil Case No. 97-9830.”
“SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. – The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.In dismissing a case based on forum shopping, it is important to consider the “vexation caused [to] the courts and parties-litigants by a party who asks different courts to rule on the same or related causes or grant the same or substantially the same reliefs.” Thus, to determine whether a party violated the rule against forum shopping, the most important factor to ask is whether the elements of litis pendentia are present, or whether a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another. Otherwise stated, the test for determining forum shopping is whether in the two (or more) cases pending, there is identity of parties, rights or causes of action, and reliefs sought.
“Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt, as well as a cause for administrative sanctions.”
“The test for determining whether a party violated the rule against forum shopping has been laid down in the 1986 case of Buan v. Lopez, x x x by Chief Justice Narvasa, and that is, forum shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other, as follows:Ruling that respondent was not guilty of forum shopping, the RTC issued its Order dated December 16, 1998, in which it said:‘There thus exists between the action before this Court and the RTC Case No. 86-36563 identity of parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests in both action, as well as identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts, and the identity on the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other action, will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res adjudicata in the action under consideration: all the requisites, in fine, of auter action pendant.’“Consequently, where a litigant (or one representing the same interest or person) sues the same party against whom another action or actions for the alleged violation of the same right and the enforcement of the same relief is/are still pending, the defense of litis pendentia in one case is a bar to the others; and, a final judgment in one would constitute res judicata and thus would cause the dismissal of the rest. In either case, forum shopping could be cited by the other party as a ground to ask for summary dismissal of the two (or more) complaints or petitions, which are direct contempt of court, criminal prosecution, and disciplinary action against the erring lawyer.”x x x x x x x x x
‘As already observed, there is between the action at bar and the RTC Case No. 86-36563, an identity as regards parties, or interests represented, rights asserted and relief sought, as well as basis thereof, to a degree sufficient to give rise to the ground for dismissal known as auter action pendant or lis pendens. That same identity puts into operation the sanction of twin dismissals just mentioned. The application of this sanction will prevent any further delay in the settlement of the controversy which might ensue from attempts to seek reconsideration of or to appeal from the Order of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 86-36563 promulgated on July 15, 1986, which dismissed the petition upon grounds which appear persuasive.’
“A close scrutiny of the records shows that Civil Case No. 96-9508 was dismissed on March 6, 1997; Civil Case No. 97-9830 was filed on June 23, 1997, more than two months after the first dismissal. This shows that when the latter case was filed, the previous case was no longer pending. In short, the element of litis pendentia is not present under the circumstances.This holding was sustained by the CA. We opine, however, that a perusal of respondent’s certification shows that there was a violation of the rule on non-forum shopping. The certification is hereunder quoted verbatim:
“As to the second element, since the dismissal in Civil Case No. 96-9508 is based on the theory that the complaint did not state a cause of action then it does not bar the plaintiff from refiling the same action or claim with the proper allegations showing a valid cause of action. No res judicata would arise in one action as to the other.
“THEREFORE, in light of the foregoing consideration, this Court is of the opinion that the herein plaintiff has not violated the rule on forum shopping. x x x”
“5. That I hereby certify that I have not commenced any other action or petition before any court, tribunal or agency involving the same issue and to the best of my knowledge, no such action or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Regional Trial Court or any other tribunal or agency and that if I should learn of any action filed in said office I will accordingly informed [sic] this Hon. Court of said action and the status therein within five (5) days from knowledge thereof.”The foregoing certification is obviously inaccurate, if not downright false, because it does not disclose the filing of the First Case. Had this violation been appropriately brought up in the Motion to Dismiss, it could have resulted in the abatement of the Second Case.
“The fact that the Circular requires that it be strictly complied with merely underscores its mandatory nature in that it cannot be dispensed with or its requirements altogether disregarded, but it does not thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances.”WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. The trial court is DIRECTED to hear the controversy and decide it with all deliberate speed. Costs against petitioner.