LORENZA C. ONGCO, PETITIONER, VS. VALERIANA UNGCO DALISAY, RESPONDENT, G.R. No. 190810, July 18, 2012. - The Lawyer's Post.
“x x x.
Intervention is a remedy by which a third party, not originally impleaded in the proceedings, becomes a litigant therein for a certain purpose: to enable the third party to protect or preserve a right or interest that may be affected by those proceedings.1 This remedy, however, is not a right. The rules on intervention are set forth clearly in Rule 19 of the Rules of Court, which reads:
Sec. 1. Who may intervene. – A person who has a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof may, with leave of court, be allowed to intervene in the action. The court shall consider whether or not the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties, and whether or not the intervenor’s rights may be fully protected in a separate proceeding.
Sec. 2. Time to intervene. – The motion to intervene may be filed at any time before rendition of judgment by the trial court. A copy of the pleading-in-intervention shall be attached to the motion and served on the original parties. (Emphasis supplied)
It can be readily seen that intervention is not a matter of right, but is left to the trial court’s sound discretion. The trial court must not only determine if the requisite legal interest is present, but also take into consideration the delay and the consequentprejudice to the original parties that the intervention will cause. Both requirements must concur, as the first requirement on legal interest is not more important than the second requirement that no delay and prejudice should result.2 To help ensure that delay does not result from the granting of a motion to intervene, the Rules also explicitly say that intervention may be allowed only before rendition of judgment by the trial court.
In Executive Secretary v. Northeast Freight,3 this Court explained intervention in this wise:
“Intervention is not a matter of absolute right but may be permitted by the court when the applicant shows facts which satisfy the requirements of the statute authorizing intervention. Under our Rules of Court, what qualifies a person to intervene is his possession of a legal interest in the matter in litigation or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both; or when he is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or an officer thereof. As regards the legal interest as qualifying factor, this Court has ruled that such interest must be of a direct and immediate character so that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation of the judgment. The interest must be actual and material, a concern which is more than mere curiosity, or academic or sentimental desire; it must not be indirect and contingent, indirect and remote, conjectural, consequential or collateral. However, notwithstanding the presence of a legal interest, permission to intervene is subject to the sound discretion of the court, the exercise of which is limited by considering “whether or not the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties and whether or not the intervenor’s rights may be fully protected in a separate proceeding.” (Emphasis supplied)
Applying the foregoing points to the case at bar, Ongco may not be allowed to intervene.
Petitioner has not shown any legal interest of such nature that she “will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation of the judgment.” On the contrary, her interest is indirect and contingent. She has not been granted a free patent over the subject land, as she in fact admits being only in the process of applying for one.4 Her interest is at best inchoate. In Firestone Ceramics v. CA5, the Court held that the petitioner who anchored his motion to intervene on his legal interest arising from his pending application for a free patent over a portion of the subject land merely had a collateral interest in the subject matter of the litigation. His collateral interest could not have justified intervention.
In any event, the Motion for Intervention was filed only with the CA after the MTC had rendered judgment. By itself, this inexcusable delay is a sufficient ground for denying the motion. To recall, the motion should be filed “any time before rendition of judgment.” The history and rationale of this rule has been explained thusly:
1. The former rule as to when intervention may be allowed was expressed in Sec. 2, Rule 12 as “before or during a trial,” and this ambiguity also gave rise to indecisive doctrines. Thus, inceptively it was held that a motion for leave to intervene may be filed “before or during a trial” even on the day when the case is submitted for decision. (Falcasantos vs. Falcasantos, L-4627, May 13, 1952) as long as it will not unduly delay the disposition of the case. The term “trial” was used in its restricted sense, i.e., the period for the introduction for intervention was filed after the case had already been submitted for decision, the denial thereof is proper (Vigan Electric Light Co., Inc. vs. Arciaga, L-29207 and L-29222, July 31, 1974). However, it has also been held that intervention may be allowed at any time before the rendition of final judgment (Linchauco vs. CA, et al, L-23842, Mar. 13, 1975). Further, in the exceptional case of Director of Lands vs. CA, et al. (L-45168, Sept. 25, 1979), the Supreme Court permitted intervention in a case pending before it on appeal in order to avoid injustice and in consideration of the number of parties who may be affected by the dispute involving overlapping of numerous land titles.
2. The uncertainty in these ruling has been eliminated by the present Sec. 2 of this amended Rule which permits the filing of the motion to intervene at any time before the rendition of the judgment in the case, in line with the doctrine inLichauco above cited. The justification advanced for this is that before judgment is rendered, the court, for good cause shown, may still allow the introduction of additional evidence and that is still within a liberal interpretation of the period for trial. Also, since no judgment has yet been rendered, the matter subject of the intervention may still be readily resolved and integrated in the judgment disposing of all claims in the case, and would not require an overall reassessment of said claims as would be the case if the judgment had already been rendered.6 (Emphases supplied)
Indeed, in Manalo v. CA7 the Court said:
The period within which a person may intervene is also restricted. Section 2, Rule 19 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure requires:
“SECTION 2. Time to intervene. — The motion to intervene may be filed at any time before the rendition of judgment by the trial court x x x.”
After the lapse of this period, it will not be warranted anymore. This is because, basically, intervention is not an independent action but is ancillary and supplemental to an existing litigation. (Emphases supplied).
There is wisdom in strictly enforcing the period set by Rule 19 of the Rules of Court for the filing of a motion for intervention. Otherwise, undue delay would result from many belated filings of motions for intervention after judgment has already been rendered, because a reassessment of claims would have to be done. Thus, those who slept on their lawfully granted privilege to intervene will be rewarded, while the original parties will be unduly prejudiced. This rule should apply more strictly to land registration cases, in which there is a possibility that a great number of claimant-oppositors may cause a delay in the proceedings by filing motions to intervene after the trial court — sitting as a land registration court — has rendered judgment.
Also, it must be noted that a land registration proceeding is an action in rem. Thus, only a general notice to the public is required, and not a personal one. Its publication already binds the whole world, including those who will be adversely affected. This, according to this Court, is the only way to give meaning to the finality and indefeasibility of the Torrens title to be issued as against the argument that the said rule could result in actual injustice.8 In the present case, the MTC found that the required publication was made by respondent Dalisay when she applied for land registration. That publication was sufficient notice to petitioner Ongco. Thus, petitioner only had herself to blame when she failed to intervene as soon as she could before the rendition of judgment.
We also note that, had petitioner learned of the trial court proceedings in time, and had she wanted to oppose the application, the proper procedure would have been to ask for the lifting of the order of default and then to file the opposition.9 It would be an error of procedure to file a motion to intervene. This is because, as discussed above, proceedings in land registration are in rem and not in personam.10
X x x.”