No. L-82811. October 18, 1988.
Main Topic – Rule 57.
Consolidated Plywood Industries (CPI) filed a suit for collection for reimbursement for the repairs, improvements and guard fees it allegedly spent in the co-owned parcel of land against its co-owner, MHEC. Summons were not served for the reason that MHEC is no longer doing business at said address and nobody around the place knows the present whereabouts of said defendant. The Trial Court ordered the service of summons by publication. Publication was effected in the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer and copy of the alias summons was also sent by registered mail addressed to MHEC. No answer being filed within the sixty-day period after last publication prescribed in the alias summons, MHEC was declared in default and CPII thereafter presented its evidence ex parte.
The Trial Court rendered judgment which denied plaintiff’s reimbursement of one-half of that amount and dismissed the complaint “for lack of merit. The decision is based on Article 500 of the Civil Code that a co-owner cannot put the property to his sole use and benefit gratis without the express agreement of the other co-owners.
Whether or not the Regional Trial Court acquired jurisdiction over the person of MHEC
No. An action strictly in personam, personal service of summons within the forum, is essential to the acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant, who does not voluntarily submit himself to the authority of the court. In other words, summons by publication cannot—consistently with the due process clause in the Bill of Rights—confer upon the Court jurisdiction over said defendant,” The proper recourse for a creditor in the same situation as petitioner is to locate properties, real or personal, of the resident defendant debtor with unknown address and cause them to be attached under Rule 57, section 1(f), in which case, the attachment converts the action into a proceeding in rem or quasi in rem and the summons by publication may then accordingly be deemed valid and effective.”
Accordingly, and service of summons by publication here not having been preceded by attachment of property of MHEC, it did not confer on the Trial Court jurisdiction over the person of said defendant.
For service of summons by publication to be valid and effective, there must first be an attachment of the property of the defendant.