Civil Law

Spouses Eliseo Estares and Rosenda Estares vs Court of Appeals et al

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G.R. No. 144755 – 459 SCRA 604 – Civil Law – Secured Transactions – Mortgage – Terms of Loan

Remedial Law – Civil Procedure – Non-Forum Shopping – Certification – Signature of both spouses – Pro-Forma Complaint

The spouses Estares secured a loan of P800k from Prominent Lending & Credit Corporation (PLCC) in 1998. To secure the loan, they mortgaged a parcel of land. The loan matured but the Estares failed to pay. Hence, PLCC initiated foreclosure proceedings. The Estares spouses then filed a complaint for damages with prayer for preliminary injunction to (1) question why they only received P637k and not P800k when the loan was disbursed to them, and (2) stop the foreclosure proceedings.

The trial court denied prayer for preliminary injunction because the Estares spouses were not able to prove there is a valid ground to stop the foreclosure proceedings. Their motion for reconsideration was denied. They filed a certiorari case before the Court of Appeals which was likewise denied. Their motion for reconsideration was also denied. Hence, they filed elevated their petition to the Supreme Court.

PLCC moved for the denial of the petition because it appears that the Certification Against Forum Shopping was only signed by Rosenda Estares. Eliseo Estares was not able to sign because he was abroad.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petition filed by the spouses is valid despite the fact that only one of the petitioners signed the Certification Against Forum Shopping.

HELD: Yes. Even though Eliseo did not sign the certification (because he was in Algeria), there is still substantial compliance with the rules. After all the spouses share a common interest in the property involved since it is conjugal property, and the petition questioning the propriety of the decision of the Court of Appeals originated from an action brought by the spouses, and is clearly intended for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Considering that the husband was at that time an overseas contract worker working in Algeria, whereas the petition was prepared in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, a rigid application of the rules on forum shopping that would disauthorize the wife’s signing the certification in her behalf and that of her husband is too harsh and clearly uncalled for.

As to the terms of the loan, it was too late for the spouses to question the terms thereof. They did not question it at the earliest possible opportunity. They did not question the lesser amount received when the proceeds of the loan were disbursed to them. When they were sent a demand letter by PLCC, they also did not question the same – they merely asked for an extension to pay. They are only raising the issue AFTER the foreclosure proceedings were commenced by PLCC.

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