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Special Civil Actions: Rule 65 - Quo Warranto


Rule 66
Quo Warranto

Section 1. Action by Government against individuals. — An action for the usurpation of a public office, position or franchise may be commenced by a verified petition brought in the name of the Republic of the Philippines against:

(a) A person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise;

(b) A public officer who does or suffers an act which, by the provision of law, constitutes a ground for the forfeiture of his office; or

(c) An association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority so to act. (1a)

Section 2. When Solicitor General or public prosecutor must commence action. — The Solicitor General or a public prosecutor, when directed by the President of the Philippines, or when upon complaint or otherwise he has good reason to believe that any case specified in the preceding section can be established by proof, must commence such action. (3a)

Section 3. When Solicitor General or public prosecutor may commence action with permission of court. — The Solicitor General or a public prosecutor may, with the permission of the court in which the action is to be commenced, bring such an action at the request and upon the relation of another person; but in such case the officer bringing it may first require an indemnity for the expenses and costs of the action in an amount approved by and to be deposited in the court by the person at whose request and upon whose relation the same is brought. (4a)

Section 4. When hearing had on application for permission to commence action. — Upon application for permission to commence such action in accordance with the next preceding section, the court shall direct that notice be given to the respondent so that he may be heard in opposition thereto; and if permission is granted, the court shall issue an order to that effect, copies of which shall be served on all interested parties, and the petition shall then be filed within the period ordered by the court. (5a)

Section 5. When an individual may commence such an action. — A person claiming to be entitled to a public office or position usurped or unlawfully held or exercised by another may bring an action therefor in his own name. (6)

Section 6. Parties and contents of petition against usurpation. — When the action is against a person for usurping a public office, position or franchise, the petition shall set forth the name of the person who claim to be entitled thereto, if any, with an averment of his right to the same and that the respondent is unlawfully in possession thereof. All persons who claim to be entitled to the public office, position or franchise may be made parties, and their respective rights to such public office, position or franchise determined, in the same action. (7a)

Section 7. Venue. — An action under the preceding six sections can be brought only in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or in the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area where the respondent or any of the respondents resides, but when the Solicitor General commences the action, it may be brought in a Regional Trial Court in the City of Manila, in the Court of Appeals, or in the Supreme Court. (8a)

Section 8. Period for pleadings and proceedings may be reduced; action given precedence. — The court may reduce the period provided by these Rules for filing pleadings and for all other proceedings in the action in order to secure the most expeditious determination of the matters involved therein consistent with the rights of the parties. Such action may be given precedence over any other civil matter pending in the court. (9a)

Section 9. Judgment where usurpation found. — When the respondent is found guilty of usurping into, intruding into, or unlawfully holding or exercising a public office, position or franchise, judgment shall be rendered that such respondent be ousted and altogether excluded therefrom, and that the petitioner or relator, as the case may be, recover his costs. Such further judgment may be rendered determining the respective rights in and to the public office, position or franchise of all the parties to the action as justice requires. (10a)

Section 10. Rights of persons adjudged entitled to public office; delivery of books and papers; damages. — If judgment be rendered in favor of the person averred in the complaint to be entitled to the public office he may, after taking the oath of office and executing any official bond required by law, take upon himself the execution of the office, and may immediately thereafter demand of the respondent all the books and papers in the respondent's custody or control appertaining to the office to which the judgment relates. If the respondent refuses or neglects to deliver any book or paper pursuant to such demand, he may be punished for contempt as having disobeyed a lawful order of the court. The person adjudged entitled to the office may also bring action against the respondent to recover the damages sustained by such person by reason of the usurpation. (15a)

Section 11. Limitations. — Nothing contained in this Rule shall be construed to authorize an action against a public officer or employee for his ouster from office unless the same be commenced within one (1) year after the cause of such ouster, or the right of the petitioner to hold such office or position, arose, nor to authorize an action for damages in accordance with the provisions of the next preceding section unless the same be commenced within one (1) year after the entry of the judgment establishing the petitioner's right to the office in question. (16a)

Section 12. Judgment for costs. — In an action brought in accordance with the provisions of this Rule, the court may render judgment for costs against either the petitioner, the relator, or the respondent, or the person or persons claiming to be a corporation, or may apportion the costs, as justice requires. (17a)  (Rule 66, Rules of Court)

What is quo warranto?

● Quo warranto literally means: By what authority. It is an extraordinary legal remedy whereby the State challenges a person or an entity to show by what authority he holds a public office or exercises a public franchise.

The object is to determine the right of a person to the use or exercise of a franchise or office and to oust the holder from its enjoyment, if his claim is not well-founded, or if he has forfeited his right to enjoy the office.


●  It is a special civil action commenced by a verified petition against the following:

(a) a person who usurps a public office, position or franchise;

(b) a public officer who performs an act constituting forfeiture of a public office; or

(c) an association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority to do so (Sec. 1, Rule 66).


Who may file a petition for quo warranto? 

1. Solicitor General or the public prosecutor

a. The Solicitor General or a public prosecutor, when directed by the President of the Philippines, or when upon complaint or otherwise he has good reason to believe that an action for the usurpation of a public office, position or franchise can be established by proof against:

(i) A person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise;

(ii) A public officer who does or suffers an act which, by the provision of law, constitutes a ground for the forfeiture of his office; or

(iii) An association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority so to act.

b. The Solicitor General or the public prosecutor may commence the action at the instance of another person. In this case, leave of court is necessary (Sec. 3, Rule 66, Rules of Court).


2. Private person - any person claiming to be entitled to the public office or position usurped or unlawfully held or exercised by another. (Sec. 5, Rule 66). He may maintain the action without the intervention of the Solicitor General and without need for any leave of court. In bringing a petition for quo warranto, he must show that he has a clear right to the office allegedly being held by another. It is not enough that he merely asserts the right to be appointed to the office. He must assert that he is entitled to the office allegedly usurped or unlawfully held by another.

● By analogy with Sec. 5, it has been held that a public utility may bring a quo warranto action against another public utility which has usurped the rights of the former granted under a franchise. (Cui vs. Cui, G.R. No. 39773. April 9, 1934)


How is quo warranto commenced?

A quo warranto proceeding is commenced by a verified petition brought in the name of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines by the Solicitor General, by a public prosecutor, or by a private person in his own name where he claims to be entitled to the public office or position alleged to have been usurped or unlawfully held or exercised by another.


What court has jurisdiction over quo warranto cases? 

1. Supreme Court
2. Court of Appeals
3. Regional Trial Court


Where should the petition for quo warranto be filed (venue)?

1. The petition may be brought in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or in the Regional Trial Court which has jurisdiction over the territorial area where the respondent or where any of the respondents resides.

2. When the action is commenced by the Solicitor General, the petition may be brought in the Regional Trial Court of the City of Manila, the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court (Sec. 7, Rule 66).


When should the action for quo warranto be filed?

● An action for quo warranto in relation to a public office must be filed within one (1) year after the cause of the ouster, or the right of the petitioner to hold such office or position, arose (Sec. 11, Rule 66).

● The period fixed in the rule is a condition precedent to the existence of the cause of action, with the result that, if a complaint is not filed within one year, it cannot prosper although the matter is not set up in the answer or motion to dismiss. (Abeto vs. Rodas, G.R. No. L-2041, November 3, 1948)

● An action for quo warranto must be filed within one year after the cause of action accrues, and the pendency of administrative remedies does not operate to suspend the running of the one-year period (Palma-Fernandez vs. De La Paz, G.R. No. 78946 April 15, 1988)No one is compelled to resort to administrative remedies since public interest requires that the right to public office should be determined as speedily as possible.


Right to damages

If the petitioner is adjudged to be entitled to the office, he may sue for damages against the alleged usurper within one (1) year from the entry of judgment establishing his right to the office in question (Sec. 11, Rule 66).


Quo warranto against corporations

●Although a quo warranto proceeding may be brought against an association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority so to act (Sec. 1[c], Rule 66), the petition may be brought only against a de facto corporation, not a de jure corporation. The latter corporation has no defect in its incorporation and exercises corporate powers because it was organized in full compliance with the laws (Black's, 5th Ed., 382). There is therefore, no reason to attack its existence and its exercise of corporate powers.

A de facto corporation is one which in good faith claims to be a corporation, was organized in accordance and pursuant to a valid law, and assumes corporate powers because it was issued a certificate of incorporation. Traditionally, it has been referred to as a corporation which exists in fact but not in law. Under the law, its right to exercise corporate powers, shall be inquired into by a collateral attack in a private suit to which such corporation may be made a party (Sec. 20, Corporation Code of the Philippines). Hence, its exercise of corporate powers may be inquired into and its corporate existence attacked by a quo warranto proceeding.

Observe that under the Securities and Regulations Code of 2000 (R.A. 8799), that all the powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission enumerated under Sec. 5 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A were transferred to the courts of general jurisdiction (RTC) and the same law also enumerates as one of the powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission the power to "suspend, revoke * * * the franchise, or certificate of registration of corporations * * * upon any of the grounds provided by law (Sec. 5.1[m], R.A. 8799).


● It should be noted that allegations in a complaint for quo warranto that certain persons usurped the offices, powers and functions of duly elected members of the board, trustees and/or officers make out a case for an intra-corporate controversy. Prior to the enactment of R.A. No. 8799, the Court, adopting Justice Jose Y. Ferias view, declared in Unilongo v. Court of Appeals that Section 1, Rule 66 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is limited to actions of quo warranto against persons who usurp a public office, position or franchise; public officers who forfeit their office; and associations which act as corporations without being legally incorporated, while [a]ctions of quo warranto against corporations, or against persons who usurp an office in a corporation, fall under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission and are governed by its rules. (P.D. No. 902-A as amended).

However, R.A. No. 8799 was passed and Section 5.2 thereof provides as follows:

5.2. The Commissions jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction or the appropriate Regional Trial Court: Provided, That the Supreme Court in the exercise of its authority may designate the Regional Trial Court branches that shall exercise jurisdiction over these cases. xxx

Therefore, actions of quo warranto against persons who usurp an office in a corporation, which were formerly cognizable by the Securities and Exchange Commission under PD 902-A, have been transferred to the courts of general jurisdiction. But, this does not change the fact that Rule 66 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure does not apply to quo warranto cases against persons who usurp an office in a private corporation.

As explained in the Unilongo case, Section 1(a) of Rule 66 of the present Rules no longer contains the phrase or an office in a corporation created by authority of law which was found in the old Rules. Clearly, the present Rule 66 only applies to actions of quo warranto against persons who usurp a public office, position or franchise; public officers who forfeit their office; and associations which act as corporations without being legally incorporated despite the passage of R.A. No. 8799. It is, therefore, The Interim Rules of Procedure Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies Under R.A. No. 8799 (hereinafter the Interim Rules) which applies to the petition for quo warranto filed by respondents before the trial court since what is being questioned is the authority of herein petitioners to assume the office and act as the board of directors and officers of St. John Hospital, Incorporated. (Calleja vs. Panday, G.R. No. 168696, February 28, 2006)


Bar Questions:

A group of businessmen formed an association in Cebu City calling itself Cars Co. to distribute/sell cars in said city. It did not incorporate itself under the law nor did it have any government permit or license to conduct its business as such. The Solicitor General filed before a Regional Trial Court in Manila a verified petition for quo warranto questioning and seeking to stop the operations of Car Co. The latter filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground of improper venue claiming that its main office and operations are in Cebu City and not in Manila. Is the contention of Cars Co. correct? (Bar 2001)

Suggested answer.

The contention of Car Co. is not correct. While as a rule, a petition for quo warranto filed before the RTC should be brought in the place where the respondent resides, this rule shall not apply when the petition is filed by the Solicitor General who is given the prerogative to file the petition in the Regional Trial Court of Manila.


If the principal of a public high school is illegally replaced by another, is it a requirement that before he can go to court on a quo warranto, he should first exhaust administrative remedies? (Bar 1980)

Suggested answer.

No. There is no such requirement under Rule 66. The action has to be brought within one (1) year from the cause of ouster from office or the right to hold the office arose. A quo warranto proceeding is one of the instances where exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required.
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