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Robinson vs. Miralles Case Digest


The statutory requirements of substituted service must be followed strictly, faithfully, and fully and any substituted service other than that authorized by the Rules is considered ineffective. However, we frown upon an overly strict application of the Rules. It is the spirit, rather than the letter of the procedural rules, that governs.

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Facts: 

In 2000, Celita Miralles filed with RTC Paranaque City a complaint for sum of money against Remelita Robinson. The sheriff went to effect the summons. However, the security guard, assigned at the gate of the subdivision where Robinson lived, refuse to let the sheriff go inside the subdivision. The security guard alleged that he was instructed by Robinson not to let anybody proceed to her house if she is not around. Despite the sheriff's explanation, the guard still refused admittance. The sheriff returned the second time to serve the summons. The same thing happened. So, the sheriff served the summons by leaving a copy thereof together with the copy of the complaint to the security guard by the name of A.H. Geroche, who refused to affix his signature on the original copy thereof, so he will be the one to give the same to the defendant.

Eventually, Robinson was declared in default and judgment was rendered ordering her to pay US$20,054.00. A copy of the decision was sent to her by registered mail. In 2003, she filed a petition for relief from the judgment by default. She claimed that summons was improperly served upon her, thus, the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over her and that all its proceedings are void. She contends that the service of summons upon the subdivision security guard is not in compliance with Section 7, Rule 14 since he is not related to her or staying at her residence. Moreover, he is not duly authorized to receive summons for the residents of the village. Hence, the substituted service of summons is not valid and that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over her person.

Tthe trial court issued a Resolution denying the petition for relief. The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. Hence, the appeal.


Issue:

Whether a substituted service of summons upon petitioner has been validly effected.


Held:

Yes. We have ruled that the statutory requirements of substituted service must be followed strictly, faithfully, and fully and any substituted service other than that authorized by the Rules is considered ineffective. However, we frown upon an overly strict application of the Rules. It is the spirit, rather than the letter of the procedural rules, that governs.

In his Return, Sheriff Potente declared that he was refused entry by the security guard in Alabang Hills twice. The latter informed him that petitioner prohibits him from allowing anybody to proceed to her residence whenever she is out. Obviously, it was impossible for the sheriff to effect personal or substituted service of summons upon petitioner. We note that she failed to controvert the sheriff’s declaration. Nor did she deny having received the summons through the security guard. Considering her strict instruction to the security guard, she must bear its consequences. Thus, we agree with the trial court that summons has been properly served upon petitioner and that it has acquired jurisdiction over her. (Remelita Robinson vs. Celita Miralles, G.R. No. 163584, December 12, 2006)

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