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Romualdez-Licaros vs. Licaros Case Digest


Extraterritorial service of summons may be effected by any other means the judge may consider sufficient. Summons by publication and at the same time furnishing respondent with a copy of the Order as well as the corresponding Summons and a copy of the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage at her given address in the US thru the Department of Affairs held valid. In actions in rem and quasi in rem, jurisdiction over the person of the non-resident defendant is not essential provided that the court acquired jurisdiction over the res.

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Facts:

Abelardo Licaros and Margarita Romualdez-Licaros were lawfully married in 1968. Sometime in 1979, they agreed to separate due to marital differences. Margarita together with her two children left for the United States. 

In 1991, Abelardo commenced a civil case for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with Margarita, based on psychological incapacity. As Margarita was then residing in the United States, the court ordered that summons be served by publication in a newspaper of general circulation and at the same time furnishing Margarita a copy of the order, as well as the corresponding summons and a copy of the petition at her address in the United States through the Department of Foreign Affairs, all at the expense of Abelardo. Margarita was given sixty (60) days after publication to file a responsive pleading. On November 8, 1991, the marriage of Abelardo to Margarita was declared null and void.

Almost nine (9) years later, Margarita received a letter dated November 18, 1991 from a certain Atty. Angelo Q. Valencia informing her that she no longer has the right to use the family name "Licaros" inasmuch as her marriage to Abelardo had already been judicially dissolved by the Regional Trial Court of Makati on November 8, 1991.

Margarita filed a petition for review on certiorari, insisting that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over her person in the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage since she was never validly served with summons. Neither did she appear in court to submit voluntarily to its jurisdiction.


Issue:

Whether or not there was a valid service of summons.


Held:

Yes. Summons is a writ by which the defendant is notified of the action brought against him. Service of such writ is the means by which the court acquires jurisdiction over his person.

As a rule, when the defendant does not reside and is not found in the Philippines, Philippine courts cannot try any case against him because of the impossibility of acquiring jurisdiction over his person unless he voluntarily appears in court. But when the case is one of actions in rem or quasi in rem enumerated in Section 15, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, Philippine courts have jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. In such instances, Philippine courts have jurisdiction over the res, and jurisdiction over the person of the non-resident defendant is not essential.

Actions in personam and actions in rem or quasi in rem differ in that actions in personam are directed against specific persons and seek personal judgments. On the other hand, actions in rem or quasi in rem are directed against the thing or property or status of a person and seek judgments with respect thereto as against the whole world.

At the time Abelardo filed the petition for nullity of the marriage in 1991, Margarita was residing in the United States. She left the Philippines in 1982 together with her two children. The trial court considered Margarita a non-resident defendant who is not found in the Philippines. Since the petition affects the personal status of the plaintiff, the trial court authorized extraterritorial service of summons under Section 15, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. The term "personal status" includes family relations, particularly the relations between husband and wife.

Under Section 15 of Rule 14, a defendant who is a non-resident and is not found in the country may be served with summons by extraterritorial service in four instances: (1) when the action affects the personal status of the plaintiff; (2) when the action relates to, or the subject of which is property within the Philippines, in which the defendant has or claims a lien or interest, actual or contingent; (3) when the relief demanded consists, wholly or in part, in excluding the defendant from any interest in property located in the Philippines; or (4) when the property of the defendant has been attached within the Philippines.

In these instances, extraterritorial service of summons may be effectedunder any of three modes: (1) by personal service out of the country, with leave of court; (2) by publication and sending a copy of the summons and order of the court by registered mail to the defendant’s last known address, also with leave of court; or (3) by any other means the judge may consider sufficient.

The trial court’s prescribed mode of extraterritorial service (service by publication and furnishing her with a copy of the Order, Summons and a copy of the petition at her address in California thru the Department of Foreign Affairs) does not fall under the first or second mode specified in Section 15 of Rule 14, but under the third mode. This refers to "any other means that the judge may consider sufficient."

We hold that delivery to the Department of Foreign Affairs was sufficient compliance with the rule. After all, this is exactly what the trial court required and considered as sufficient to effect service of summons under the third mode of extraterritorial service pursuant to Section 15 of Rule 14. (Margarita Romualdez-Licaros vs. Abelardo Licaros, G.R. No. 150656, April 29, 2003)

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