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Benguet Corporation vs DENR

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  G.R. No. 163101 February 13, 2008   BENGUET CORPORATION,  petitioner, vs. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES -MINES ADJUDICATION BOARD and J.G. REALTY AND MINING CORPORATION,  respondents. Facts: On June 1, 1987, Benguet and J.G. Realty entered into a RAWOP, wherein J.G. Realty was acknowledged as the owner of four mining claims respectively named as Bonito-I, Bonito-II, Bonito-III, and Bonito-IV, with a total area of 288.8656 hectares, situated in Barangay Luklukam, Sitio Bagong Bayan, Municipality of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte. The parties also executed a Supplemental Agreement   dated June 1, 1987. The mining claims were covered by MPSA Application No. APSA-V-0009 jointly filed by J.G. Realty as claimowner and Benguet as operator. Thus, on August 9, 1989, the Executive Vice-President of Benguet, Antonio N. Tachuling, issued a letter informing J.G. Realty of its intention to develop the mining claims. However, on February 9, 1999, J.G. Realty, through its President, Johnny L. Tan, then sent a letter to the President of Benguet informing the latter that it was terminating the RAWOP. J.G. Realty filed a Petition for Declaration of Nullity/Cancellation of the RAWOP with the Legaspi City POA, Region V, docketed as DENR Case No. 2000-01 and entitled  J.G. Realty v. Benguet.POA issued a decision declaring [RAWOP] and its Supplemental Agreement is hereby declared cancelled and without effect. Benguet filed a notice of appeal to MAB   Issue: Whether or not the case should have first been brought to voluntary arbitration before the POA. Ruling: Yes. Secs. 11.01 and 11.02 of the RAWOP pertinently provides an Arbitratio Clause. In RA 9285 or the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004, the Congress reiterated the efficacy of arbitration as an alternative mode of dispute resolution by stating in Sec. 32 thereof that domestic arbitration shall still be governed by RA 876. Clearly, a contractual stipulation that requires prior resort to voluntary arbitration before the parties can go directly to court is not illegal and is in fact promoted by the State. Thus, petitioner correctly cites several cases whereby arbitration clauses have been upheld by this Court. To reiterate, availment of voluntary arbitration before resort is made to the courts or quasi- judicial agencies of the government is a valid contractual stipulation that must be adhered to by the parties. As stated in Secs. 6 and 7 of RA 876. In other words, in the event a case that should properly be the subject of voluntary arbitration is erroneously filed with the courts or quasi-judicial agencies, on motion of the defendant, the court or quasi-judicial agency shall determine whether such contractual provision for arbitration is sufficient and effective. If in affirmative, the court or quasi-judicial agency shall then order the enforcement of said provision. POA is a quasi-judicial body which forms part of the DENR, an administrative agency. Hence, the provision on mandatory resort to arbitration, freely entered into by the parties, must be held binding against them.  RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner VS MAGWIN MARKETING CORPORATION, respondent PARDO,  J. : Facts: On 4 March 1999 petitioner Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) filed a complaint for recovery of a sum of money with prayer for a writ of preliminary attachment against respondents Magwin Marketing Corporation, Nelson Tiu, Benito Sy and Anderson Uy. 1  On 26 April 1999, the trial court issued a writ of attachment. 2  On 4 June 1999 the writ was returned partially satisfied since only a parcel of land purportedly owned by defendant Benito Sy was attached. 3  In the meantime, summons was served on each of the defendants, respondents herein, who filed their respective answers, except for defendant Gabriel Cheng who was dropped without prejudice as party-defendant as his whereabouts could not be located. 4  On 21 September 1999 petitioner moved for an alias writ of attachment which on 18 January 2000 the court a quo  denied. 5 On 31 July 2000 petitioner moved for reconsideration of the Order   by informing the trial court of respondents' unremitting desire  to settle the case amicably through a loan restructuring program. 11  On 22 August 2000 petitioner notified the trial court of the acquiescence thereto of respondent Nelson Tiu as an officer of Magwin Marketing Corporation and defendant in the civil case. 12  Issue:  Whether court a quo  had no authority to compel the parties in Civil Case No. 99-518 to enter into an amicable settlement nor to deny the holding of a pre-trial conference on the ground that no compromise agreement was turned over to the court a quo .   Ruling: No, it would violate Art. 2029 of the Civil Code  which provides that the court shall endeavor to persuade the litigants in a civil case to agree upon some fair compromise, and this Court's ruling in Goldloop Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals   where it was held that the trial court cannot dismiss a complaint for failure of the parties to submit a compromise agreement. It is speculative to reckon the effectivity of the Order   of dismissal without prejudice to the presentation of the compromise agreement. Ostensibly, while the rules allow the trial court to suspend its proceedings consistent with the policy to encourage the use of alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution, in the instant case, the trial court only gave the parties fifteen (15) days to conclude a deal. This was, to say the least, a passive and paltry attempt of the court a quo  in its task of persuading litigants to agree upon a reasonable concession. Hence, if only to inspire confidence in the pursuit of a middle ground between petitioner and respondents, we must not interpret the trial court's Orders as dismissing the action on its own motion because the parties, specifically petitioner, were anxious to litigate their case as exhibited in their several manifestations and motions.   G.R. No. 126619 December 20, 2006   UNIWIDE SALES REALTY AND RESOURCES CORPORATION,  petitioner, vs. TITAN-IKEDA CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,  respondent. Facts: The case srcinated from an action for a sum of money filed by Titan-Ikeda Construction and Development Corporation (Titan) against Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources Corporation (Uniwide) with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 119, Pasay City arising from Uniwide's non-payment of certain claims billed by Titan after completion of three projects covered by agreements they entered into with each other. Upon Uniwide's motion to dismiss/suspend proceedings and Titan's open court manifestation agreeing to the suspension, Civil Case No. 98-0814 was suspended for it to undergo arbitration.Titan's complaint was thus re-filed with the CIAC. Before the CIAC, Uniwide filed an answer which was later amended and re-amended, denying the material allegations of the complaint, with counterclaims for refund of overpayments, actual and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees. Issue :  Whether or not findings of fact of administrative agencies and quasi-judicial bodies are generally accorded not only respect, but also finality. Ruling:  Yes. In particular, factual findings of construction arbitrators are final and conclusive and not reviewable by this Court on appeal. This rule, however admits of certain exceptions. As exceptions, factual findings of construction arbitrators may be reviewed by this Court when the petitioner proves affirmatively that: (1) the award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means; (2) there was evident partiality or corruption of the arbitrators or of any of them; (3) the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy; (4) one or more of the arbitrators were disqualified to act as such under Section nine of Republic Act No. 876 and willfully refrained from disclosing such disqualifications or of any other misbehavior by which the rights of any party have been materially prejudiced; or (5) the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so imperfectly executed them, that a mutual, final and definite award upon the subject matter submitted to them was not made. Other recognized exceptions are as follows: (1) when there is a very clear showing of grave abuse of discretion resulting in lack or loss of jurisdiction as when a party was deprived of a fair opportunity to present its position before the Arbitral Tribunal or when an award is obtained through fraud or the corruption of arbitrators, (2) when the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the CIAC, and (3) when a party is deprived of administrative due process. A review of the CIAC's findings of fact would have had the effect of setting at naught the basic objective of a voluntary arbitration and would reduce arbitration to a largely inutile institution.   G.R. No. 132848-49 June 26, 2001 PHILROCK, INC., petitioner, vs. CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY ARBITRATION COMMISSION and Spouses VICENTE and NELIA CID, respondents. Facts: On September 14, 1992, the Cid spouses, herein private respondents, filed a Complaint for damages against Philrock and seven of its officers and engineers with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 82.On December 7, 1993, the initial trial date, the trial court issued an Order dismissing the case and referring the same to the CIAC because the Cid spouses and Philrock had filed an Agreement to Arbitrate with the CIAC. Thereafter, preliminary conferences were held among the parties and their appointed arbitrators. At these conferences, disagreements arose as to whether moral and exemplary damages and tort should be included as an issue along with breach of contract, and whether the seven officers and engineers of Philrock who are not parties to the Agreement to Arbitrate should be included in the arbitration proceedings. No common ground could be reached by the parties, hence, on April 2, 1994, both the Cid spouses and Philrock requested that the case be remanded to the trial court. On April 13, 1994, the CIAC issued an Order stating the Arbitral Tribunal hereby formally dismisses the above-captioned case for referral to Branch 82 of the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City where it first srcinated. The trial court declared that it no longer had jurisdiction over the case and ordered the records of the case to be remanded anew to the CIAC for arbitral proceedings. Issue: Whether or not   CIAC lost jurisdiction over the arbitration case after both parties had withdrawn their consent to arbitrate. Ruling: We disagree. Section 4 of Executive Order 1008 expressly vests in the CIAC srcinal and exclusive  jurisdiction over disputes arising from or connected with construction contracts entered into by parties that have agreed to submit their dispute to voluntary arbitration. It is undisputed that the parties submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the Commission by virtue of their Agreement to Arbitrate dated November 24, 1993. Signatories to the Agreement were Atty. Ismael J. Andres and Perry Y. Uy (president of Philippine Rock Products, Inc.) for petitioner, and Nelia G. Cid and Atty. Esteban A. Bautista for respondent spouses. This contention is untenable. First  , private respondents removed the obstacle to the continuation of the arbitration, precisely by withdrawing their objection to the exclusion of the seven engineers. Second  , petitioner continued participating in the arbitration even after the CIAC Order had been issued. It even concluded and signed the Terms of Reference 10  on August 21, 1995, in which the parties stipulated the circumstances leading to the dispute; summarized their respective positions, issues, and claims; and identified the composition of the tribunal of arbitrators. The document clearly confirms both parties’ intention and agreement to submit the dispute to voluntary arbitration. In view of this fact, we fail to see how the CIAC could have been divested of its jurisdiction.
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