Aniceto G. Saludo, Jr. vs. American Express International.
G.R. No. 159507, April 19, 2006.
Ancieto Saludo, Jr., a Filipino citizen and member of HOR, filed a complaint for damages against the American Express International, Inc. (AMEX) and/or its officers ; corporation doing business in the Philippines.
The complaint’s cause of action stemmed from the alleged wrongful dishonor of petitioner Saludo’s AMEX credit card and the supplementary card issued to his daughter. The first dishonor happened when petitioner Saludo’s daughter used her supplementary credit card to pay her purchases in the United States. The second dishonor occurred when petitioner Saludo used his principal credit card to pay his account at the Hotel Okawa in Tokyo, Japan to attend the Congressional Recognition in honor of Mr. Hiroshi Tanaka.
The dishonor of these AMEX credit cards were allegedly unjustified as they resulted from respondents’ unilateral act of suspending petitioner Saludo’s account for his failure to pay its balance covering the period of March 2000. Petitioner Saludo denied having received the corresponding statement of account. Further, he was allegedly wrongfully charged for latepayment in June 2000. Subsequently, his credit card and its supplementary cards were canceled by respondents on July 20, 2000.
Petitioner Saludo claimed that he suffered great inconvenience, wounded feelings, mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation and besmirched political and professional standing as a result of respondents’ acts which were committed in gross and evident bad faith, and in wanton, reckless and oppressive manner. He thus prayed that respondents be adjudged to pay him, jointly and severally, actual, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees.
The respondents averred that the complaint should be dismissed on the ground that venue was improperly laid because none of the parties was a resident of Leyte. They alleged that respondents were not residents of Southern Leyte. Saludo was not allegedly a resident thereof as evidenced by the fact that his complaint was prepared, community tax certificate and certification of non-forum shopping, was issued at Pasay City.
Whether the appellate court committed reversible error in holding that venue was improperly laid in the Court of Maasin City, SL because not one of the parties, including petitioner Saludo, as plaintiff therein, was a resident of Southern Leyte at the time of filing of the complaint.
Yes The appellate court committed reversible error in finding that petitioner Saludo was not a resident of Southern Leyte at the time of the filing of his complaint, and consequently holding that venue was improperly laid in the court a quo.
In Koh v. Court of Appeals, we explained that the term “residence” as employed in the rule on venue on personal actions filed with the courts of first instance means the place of abode, whether permanent or temporary, of the plaintiff or the defendant, as distinguished from “domicile” which denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the intention of returning.
Saludo was the congressman or representative of Southern Leyte at the time of filing of his complaint with the court a quo. Absent any evidence to the contrary, he is deemed to possess the qualifications for the said position, including that he was a resident therein.
the term “residence”, for the purposes of election law, requires two elements: (1) intention to reside in the particular place; and (2) personal or physical presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. As the Court elucidated, “the place where a party actually or constructively has a permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain, i.e., his domicile, is that to which the Constitution refers when it speaks of residence for the purposes of election law.
On the other hand, for purposes of venue, the less technical definition of “residence” is adopted. Thus, it is understood to mean as “the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one’s domicile.”
Since petitioner Saludo, as congressman or the lone representative of the district of Southern Leyte, had his residence (or domicile) therein as the term is construed in relation to election laws, necessarily, he is also deemed to have had his residence therein for purposes of venue for filing personal actions. Put in another manner, Southern Leyte, as the domicile of petitioner Saludo, was also his residence, as the term is understood in its popular sense. This is because “residence is not domicile, but domicile is residence coupled with the intention to remain for an unlimited time.”
A man can have but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have numerous places of residence.
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