Remedial Law

SPS. BELEN v. CHAVEZ G.R. NO. 175334 March 26, 2008 Service of Summons, Jurisdiction over the person of the parties


The instant petition originated from the action for the enforcement of a foreign judgment against petitioners spouses Belen, filed by private respondent spouses Pacleb.
Private respondents secured a judgment by default with the Superior Court of the State of California. The judgment ordered petitioners to pay private respondents the amount of $56,204.69 representing loan repayment and share in the profits plus interest and costs of suit. The summons was served on petitioners’ address in Laguna, as was alleged in the complaint.
Atty. Alcantara, counsel for herein petitioners, filed an answer alleging that petitioners were actually residents of California, USA. The answer also claimed that petitioners’ liability had been extinguished by virtue of a judgment of dismissal.
For failure to present a copy of the alleged judgment of dismissal, the RTC denied the motion to dismiss.
The RTC rendered a Decision directing respondents to pay the plaintiffs, and a writ of execution was issued. The RTC denied petitioners’ motion seeking the quashal of the writ of execution, as well as the MR.
Thus, petitioners filed a Rule 65 petition before the CA.
The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari .

Whether the RTC acquired jurisdiction over the persons of petitioners through either the proper service of summons or the appearance of Atty. Alcantara on behalf of petitioners.


Jurisdiction over the person of a resident defendant who does not voluntarily appear in court can be acquired by personal service of summons as provided under Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. If he cannot be personally served with summons within a reasonable time, substituted service may be made in accordance with Section 8 of said Rule.
If he is temporarily out of the country, any of the following modes of service may be resorted to:

(1) substituted service;

(2) personal service outside the country, with leave of court;

(3) service by publication, also with leave of court; or

(4) any other manner the court may deem sufficient.

However, in an action in personam wherein the defendant is a non-resident who does not voluntarily submit himself to the authority of the court, personal service of summons within the state is essential to the acquisition of jurisdiction over her person. This method of service is possible if such defendant is physically present in the country. If he is not found therein, the court cannot acquire jurisdiction over his person and therefore cannot validly try and decide the case against him.

An exception was laid down in Gemperle v. Schenker wherein a non-resident was served with summons through his wife, who was a resident of the Philippines and who was his representative and attorney-in-fact in a prior civil case filed by him; moreover, the second case was a mere offshoot of the first case.

The records of the case reveal that herein petitioners have been permanent residents of California, U.S.A. since the filing of the action up to the present.

Nevertheless, the CA correctly concluded that the appearance of Atty. Alcantara and his filing of numerous pleadings were sufficient to vest jurisdiction over the persons of petitioners.

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