G.R. No. 175109, 6 August 2008


Petitioner Paramount Insurance Corp. is the subrogee of Maximo Mata, the registered owner of a Honda City sedan involved in a vehicular accident with a truck mixer owned by respondent corporation and driven by respondent Franklin A. Suspine on September 10, 1997, at Brgy. Panungyanan, Gen. Trias, Cavite.
On February 22, 2000, petitioner filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City, a complaint for damages against respondents.

On May 19, 2000, petitioner filed a Motion to Declare Defendants in Default; however, on June 28, 2000, respondent corporation filed an Omnibus Motion (And Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Declare Defendant in Default) alleging that summons was improperly served upon it because it was made to a secretarial staff who was unfamiliar with court processes; and that the summons was received by Mr. Armando C. Ordoñez, President and General Manager of respondent corporation only on June 24, 2000.


Whether or not there has been a valid service of summons?


No. Section 11, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court provides:

SEC. 11. Service upon domestic private juridical entity. – When the defendant is a corporation, partnership or association organized under the laws of the Philippines with a juridical personality, service may be made on the president, managing partner, general manager, corporate secretary, treasurer, or in-house counsel.

Section 11, Rule 14 sets out an exclusive enumeration of the officers who can receive summons on behalf of a corporation. Service of summons to someone other than the corporation’s president, managing partner, general manager, corporate secretary, treasurer, and in-house counsel, is not valid.

The designation of persons or officers who are authorized to receive summons for a domestic corporation or partnership is limited and more clearly specified in the new rule. The phrase ‘agent, or any of its directors’ has been conspicuously deleted.8 Moreover, the argument of substantial compliance is no longer compelling. We have ruled that the new rule, as opposed to Section 13, Rule 14 of the 1964 Rules of Court, is restricted, limited and exclusive, following the rule in statutory construction that expressio unios est exclusio alterius. Had the Rules of Court Revision Committee intended to liberalize the rule on service of summons, it could have done so in clear and concise language. Absent a manifest intent to liberalize the rule, strict compliance with Section 11, Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is required.

Thus, the service of summons to respondent corporation’s Receiving Section through Samuel D. Marcoleta is defective and not binding to said corporation.

Moreover, petitioner was served with a copy of the Sheriff’s Return which states:

3. MANNER OF SERVICE: DULY SERVED thru SAMUEL D. MARCOLETA (receiving section-A.C. Ordonez Construction Corp.,) and who was authorized by A. C. Ordonez Construction Corp., management to receive such court processes.

On its face, the return shows that the summons was received by an employee who is not among the responsible officers enumerated by law. Such being invalid, petitioner should have sought the issuance and proper service of new summons instead of moving for a declaration of default.

*Case Digest by Claudette Anne G. Sayson JD IV, S.Y. 2019-2020