In 1998, Intramuros leased certain real properties of the national government, which it administered to Offshore Construction. Three (3) properties were subjects of Contracts of Lease. Offshore Construction occupied and introduced improvements in the leased premises. However, Intramuros and the Department of Tourism halted the projects due to Offshore Construction’s non-conformity with Presidential Decree No. 1616, which required 16th to 19th centuries’ Philippine-Spanish architecture in the area. Eventually, the parties executed a Compromise Agreement on July 26, 1999, which the Manila Regional Trial Court approved on February 8, 2000.

During the lease period, Offshore Construction failed to pay its utility bills and rental fees, despite several demand letters. Intramuros tolerated the continuing occupation, hoping that Offshore Construction would pay its arrears.

To settle its arrears, Offshore Construction proposed to pay the Department of Tourism’s monthly operational expenses for lights and sound equipment, electricity, and performers at the Baluarte Plano Luneta de Sta. Isabel. Intramuros and the Department of Tourism accepted the offer, and the parties executed a Memorandum of Agreement covering the period of August 15, 2004 to August 25, 2005.

However, Offshore Construction continued to fail to pay its arrears, which amounted to ₱13,448,867.45 as of December 31, 2009. On March 26, 2010, Offshore Construction received Intramuros’ latest demand letter.

Intramuros filed a Complaint for Ejectment before the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court on April 28, 2010. Offshore Construction filed its Answer with Special and Affirmative Defenses and Compulsory Counterclaim.

On July 12, 2010, Offshore Construction filed a Very Urgent Motion, praying that Intramuros’ complaint be dismissed on the grounds of violation of the rule on non-forum shopping, lack of jurisdiction over the case, and litis pendentia.

In its October 19, 2010 Order, the Metropolitan Trial Court granted the motion and dismissed the case. Preliminarily, it found that while a motion to dismiss is a prohibited pleading under the Rule on Summary Procedure, Offshore Construction’s motion was grounded on the lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The Metropolitan Trial Court found that Intramuros committed forum shopping and that it had no jurisdiction over the case.

Intramuros appealed the October 19, 2010 Order with the Regional Trial Court. On April 14, 2011, the Regional Trial Court affirmed the Municipal Trial Court October 19, 2010 Order in toto.

On June 16, 2011, Intramuros filed its Petition for Review on Certiorari,35 assailing the April 14, 2011 Decision of the Regional Trial Court.

On October 10, 2011, Offshore Construction filed its Comment to the Petition for Review. In its Comment, Offshore Construction argues that the Petition for Review should be dismissed because it violates the principle of hierarchy of courts and raises questions of fact. It points out that Intramuros did not move for the reconsideration of the Regional Trial Court April 14, 2011 Decision. Instead of directly filing with this Court, Intramuros should have filed a Petition for Review with the Court of Appeals, in accordance with Rule 42 of the Rules of Court.

Whether the Non-observance by the petitioner of the hierarchy-of-courts rule is justified.

Yes, the doctrine of hierarchy of courts is not inviolable, and this Court has provided several exceptions to the doctrine. One of these exceptions is the exigency of the situation being litigated. The Supreme Court rules of procedure permit the direct resort to this Court from a decision of the Regional Trial Court upon questions of law, such as those which petitioner raises in this case.

A direct recourse to the Supreme Court can be taken for a review of the decisions, final orders or resolutions of the RTC, but only on questions of law. Under Section 5 of Article VIII of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in all cases in which only an error or question of law is involved.

This kind of direct appeal to this Court of RTC judgments, final orders or resolutions is provided for in Section 2(c) of Rule 41 as a Modes of appeal by Appeal by certiorari. – In all cases where only questions of law are raised or involved, the appeal shall be to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45.

Procedurally then, petitioners could have appealed the RTC Decision affirming the MTC (1) to this Court on questions of law only; or (2) if there are factual questions involved, to the CA – as they in fact did.


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