Posted by: Elmer Brabante | October 1, 2009

Heirs of Miguel Madio vs. Leung

 G.R. No. 169161 [August 17, 2007]

DOCTRINE: Judicial action by a party-litigant must be given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his complaint or defense rather than for him to lose life, liberty, honor or property on technicalities. This rule rings true in administrative proceedings where technical rules of procedure are not strictly applied.

The Director of Lands issued in favor of respondent Henry Leung an Order of Award over Lot No. 8 in Baguio Townsite. Protestants Madio, Quiambao, Perposi and Capiao filed a protest for the cancellation of the Order of Award. Records show that the initial hearing for the investigation of the Bureau of Lands on the protest was reset upon request of Leung’s counsel, Atty. Leon Dacanay. On the re-scheduled date, only Madio and his counsel, Atty. Hector Donato appeared for the protestants. Atty. Dacanay moved for dismissal of the protest for non-appearance of the other protestants, while Atty. Donato asked for postponement. The Land Investigator granted the motion for postponement. On the next hearing, Atty. Edilberto Tenefrancia, counsel for the other protestants entered his special appearance for Atty. Donato and asked for postponement, to which Atty. Dacanay interposed no objection. Accordingly, the hearing was reset with the warning that no further request for postponement would be entertained. On the next hearing, only Atty. Dacanay appeared for hearing. He moved for the dismissal of the protest for failure to prosecute the same. Accordingly, the Land Investigator cancelled the other scheduled hearing and recommended the dismissal of the protest. The District Land Officer forwarded the case to the Regional Land Officer of the Bureau of Lands, who in turn issued an order, directing that the protest and claim of the claimants-protestants be dropped and that they vacate the premises within 60 days from the date of their receipt of said order.

Madio filed a petition with the Bureau of Lands opposing the award of Lot No. 8 to Leung, but the petition was not be given due course. Madio filed another petition, this time with the Office of the Secretary of DENR, and for reopening of the case, alleging the he has preferential right to Lot No. 8. Ricardo Umali, OIC-Secretary, DENR, rendered a decision for Madio. Aggrieved, Leung elevated the case to the Office of the President (OP). However, his appeal was dismissed on the ground that no appeal memorandum has been filed by Leung as of the last day for filing the same. His motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. Leung took recourse with the CA by way of a petition for review. The CA rendered a decision, granting the petition.

Whether or not the Office of the President erred in dismissing Leung’s appeal from the DENR’s decision on the ground that no appeal memorandum had been filed by Leung as of the last day for filing the same.


Leung did file the required memorandum as found by the CA. Leung’s file copies of said documents clearly bear stamp markings indicating receipt by the OP Legal Office. The OP’s dismissal action has thus no factual support. But assuming that the necessary documents were indeed not filed, the imperatives of fair play would have impelled the OP to ask for an explanation, instead of proceeding with its outright dismissal action based on technicality, given that Leung’s case appears to be prima facie meritorious. Dismissal purely on technical grounds is frowned upon. The rules of procedure ought not to be applied in a very rigid and technical sense for they are adopted to help secure, not override, substantial justice.


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