Barangay conciliation was not a pre-requisite to the institution of Civil Case No. U-4359.
Dr. Rosario contends that Civil Case No. U-4359, the Complaint of the Torbela siblings for recovery of ownership and possession of Lot No. 356-A, plus damages, should have been dismissed by the RTC because of the failure of the Torbela siblings to comply with the prior requirement of submitting the dispute to barangayconciliation.
The Torbela siblings instituted Civil Case No. U-4359 on
Section 2. Subject matters for amicable settlement. The Lupon of each barangay shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable settlement of all disputes except:
1. Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;
2. Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;
3. Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding 30 days, or a fine exceeding
4. Offenses where there is no private offended party;
5. Such other classes of disputes which the Prime Minister may in the interest of justice determine upon recommendation of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Local Government.
Section 3. Venue. Disputes between or among persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought for amicable settlement before the Lupon of said barangay. Those involving actual residents of different barangays within the same city or municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of the complainant. However, all disputes which involved real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or any part thereof is situated.
The Lupon shall have no authority over disputes:
1. involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such barangays adjoin each other; and
2. involving real property located in different municipalities.
x x x x
Section 6. Conciliation, pre-condition to filing of complaint. – No complaint, petition, action or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the Lupon as provided in Section 2 hereof shall be filed or instituted in court or any other government office for adjudication unless there has been a confrontation of the parties before the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat and no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the Lupon Secretary or the Pangkat Secretary, attested by the Lupon or Pangkat Chairman, or unless the settlement has been repudiated. x x x. (Emphases supplied.)
The Court gave the following elucidation on the jurisdiction of the Lupong Tagapayapa in Tavora v. Hon. Veloso:
The foregoing provisions are quite clear. Section 2 specifies the conditions under which the Lupon of a barangay “shall have authority” to bring together the disputants for amicable settlement of their dispute: The parties must be “actually residing in the same city or municipality.” At the same time, Section 3 — while reiterating that the disputants must be “actually residing in the same barangay” or in “different barangays” within the same city or municipality — unequivocably declares that the Lupon shall have “no authority” over disputes “involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities,” except where such barangays adjoin each other.
Thus, by express statutory inclusion and exclusion, the Lupon shall have no jurisdiction over disputes where the parties are not actual residents of the same city or municipality, except where the barangays in which they actually reside adjoin each other.
It is true that immediately after specifying the barangay whose Lupon shall take cognizance of a given dispute, Sec. 3 of PD 1508 adds:
"However, all disputes which involve real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or any part thereof is situated."
Actually, however, this added sentence is just an ordinary proviso and should operate as such.
The operation of a proviso, as a rule, should be limited to its normal function, which is to restrict or vary the operation of the principal clause, rather than expand its scope, in the absence of a clear indication to the contrary.
“The natural and appropriate office of a proviso is . . . to except something from the enacting clause; to limit, restrict, or qualify the statute in whole or in part; or to exclude from the scope of the statute that which otherwise would be within its terms.” (73 Am Jur 2d 467.)
Therefore, the quoted proviso should simply be deemed to restrict or vary the rule on venue prescribed in the principal clauses of the first paragraph of Section 3, thus: Although venue is generally determined by the residence of the parties, disputes involving real property shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or any part thereof is situated, notwithstanding that the parties reside elsewhere within the same city/municipality. (Emphases supplied.)
The original parties in Civil Case No. U-4359 (the Torbela siblings and the spouses Rosario) do not reside in the same barangay, or in different barangays within the same city or municipality, or in different barangays of different cities or municipalities but are adjoining each other. Some of them reside outside Pangasinan and even outside of the country altogether. The Torbela siblings reside separately in Barangay Macalong, Urdaneta, Pangasinan; Barangay Consolacion, Urdaneta, Pangasinan; Pangil, Laguna;
x x x."
x x x."