G.R. No. 156759, 5 June 2013
On July 3, 2000, respondent, a retired police officer assigned at the Western Police District in Manila, sued Abante Tonite, a daily tabloid of general circulation; its Publisher Allen A. Macasaet; its Managing Director Nicolas V. Quijano; its Circulation Manager Isaias Albano; its Editors Janet Bay, Jesus R. Galang and Randy Hagos; and its Columnist/Reporter Lily Reyes (petitioners), claiming damages because of an allegedly libelous article petitioners published in the June 6, 2000 issue of Abante Tonite. The suit, docketed as Civil Case No. 00-97907, was raffled to Branch 51 of the RTC, which in due course issued summons to be served on each defendant, including Abante Tonite, at their business address at Monica Publishing Corporation, 301-305 3rd Floor, BF Condominium Building, Solana Street corner A. Soriano Street, Intramuros, Manila
In the morning of September 18, 2000, RTC Sheriff Raul Medina proceeded to the stated address to effect the personal service of the summons on the defendants. But his efforts to personally serve each defendant in the address were futile because the defendants were then out of the office and unavailable. He returned in the afternoon of that day to make a second attempt at serving the summons, but he was informed that petitioners were still out of the office. He decided to resort to substituted service of the summons, and explained why in his sheriff’s return dated September 22, 2005.
On October 3, 2000, petitioners moved for the dismissal of the complaint through counsel’s special appearance in their behalf, alleging lack of jurisdiction over their persons because of the invalid and ineffectual substituted service of summons. They contended that the sheriff had made no prior attempt to serve the summons personally on each of them in accordance with Section 6 and Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. They further moved to drop Abante Tonite as a defendant by virtue of its being neither a natural nor a juridical person that could be impleaded as a party in a civil action.
Whether Abante Tonite is a corporation by estoppel.
Yes. “Abante Tonite” is a daily tabloid of general circulation. People all over the country could buy a copy of “Abante Tonite” and read it, hence, it is for public consumption. The persons who organized said publication obviously derived profit from it. The information written on the said newspaper will affect the person, natural as well as juridical, who was stated or implicated in the news. All of these facts imply that “Abante Tonite” falls within the provision of Art. 44 (2 or 3), New Civil Code. Assuming arguendo that “Abante Tonite” is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it is deemed a corporation by estoppels considering that it possesses attributes of a juridical person, otherwise it cannot be held liable for damages and injuries it may inflict to other persons.
Abante Tonite’s newspapers are circulated nationwide, showing ostensibly its being a corporate entity, thus the doctrine of corporation by estoppel may appropriately apply. An unincorporated association, which represents itself to be a corporation, will be estopped from denying its corporate capacity in a suit against it by a third person who relies in good faith on such representation.
*Case digest by Paul Jason G. Acasio, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2019-2020