Remedial Law

Sagana vs. Francisco G.R. No.161952 October 2, 2009 Substituted Service of Summons

FACTS:

Process server Manuel S. Panlasigui attempted to serve summons at respondent’s address  but was unsuccessful. In his Server’s Return, Panlasigui stated that he tried to personally serve the summons to respondent at his given address at No. 36 Sampaguita St., Baesa, Quezon City. However, the occupant of that house, who refused to give his identity, told him that respondent is unknown at said address. Panlasigui also declared that diligent efforts were exerted to serve the summons but these proved to be futile. Subsequently, the trial court attempted to serve summons to respondent’s office through registered mail. However, despite three notices, respondent failed to pick up the summons.

The trial court dismissed the case on account of petitioner’s lack of interest to prosecute. It noted that since the filing of the Server’s Return on 8 February 1995, petitioner did not take any action thus indicating lack of interest to prosecute the case.

 

ISSUE:

Was there a valid service of Summons

 

RULING:

Under the circumstances obtaining in this case, we find there was proper substituted service of summons upon the respondent.

Section 8 of Rule 14 of the old Revised Rules of Court, the rules of procedure then in force at the time summons was served, provided:

Section 8. Substituted service. – If the defendant cannot be served within a reasonable time as provided in the preceding section [personal service on defendant], service may be effected (a) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant’s residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at defendant’s office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof.

Jurisprudence has long established that for substituted service of summons to be valid, the following must be demonstrated:

(a) that personal service of summons within a reasonable time was impossible;

(b) that efforts were exerted to locate the party; and

(c) that the summons was served upon a person of sufficient age and discretion residing at the party’s residence or upon a competent person in charge of the party’s office or regular place of business.

It is likewise required that the pertinent facts proving these circumstances be stated in the proof of service or in the officer’s return.

In this case, personal service of summons was twice attempted by the trial court, although unsuccessfully. The trial court also thrice attempted to contact the respondent through his place of work, but to no avail. These diligent efforts to locate the respondent were noted in the first sheriff’s return, the process server’s notation, as well as the records of the case.

Clearly, personal service of summons was made impossible by the acts of the respondent in refusing to reveal his whereabouts, and by the act of his brother in claiming that respondent no longer lived at No. 36 Sampaguita St., yet failing to disclose his brother’s location. 

In view of the foregoing, we find that substituted service of summons was validly made upon respondent through his brother.

The purpose of summons is two-fold: to acquire jurisdiction over the person of the defendant and to notify the defendant that an action has been commenced so that he may be given an opportunity to be heard on the claim against him. Under the circumstances of this case, we find that respondent was duly apprised of the action against him and had every opportunity to answer the charges made by the petitioner. However, since respondent refused to disclose his true address, it was impossible to personally serve summons upon him. Considering that respondent could not have received summons because of his own pretenses, and has failed to provide an explanation of his purported “new” residence, he must now bear the consequences.

 

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