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Rule 66

Quo Warranto

What is quo warranto?

Quo warranto literally means: By what authority. It is an extraordinary legal remedy whereby the State
challenges a person or an entity to show by what authority he holds a public office or exercises a public
franchise.

The object is to determine the right of a person to the use or exercise of a franchise or office and to oust the
holder from its enjoyment, if his claim is not well-founded, or if he has forfeited his right to enjoy the office.

It is a special civil action commenced by a verified petition against the following:

(a) a person who usurps a public office, position or franchise;

(b) a public officer who performs an act constituting forfeiture of a public office; or

(c) an association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or
without lawful authority to do so (Sec. 1, Rule 66).

Who may file a petition for quo warranto?

1. Solicitor General or the public prosecutor

a. The Solicitor General or a public prosecutor, when directed by the President of the Philippines, or when
upon complaint or otherwise he has good reason to believe that an action for the usurpation of a public
office, position or franchise can be established by proof against:

(i) A person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise;

(ii) A public officer who does or suffers an act which, by the provision of law, constitutes a ground for the
forfeiture of his office; or

(iii) An association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated
or without lawful authority so to act.

b. The Solicitor General or the public prosecutor may commence the action at the instance of another
person. In this case, leave of court is necessary (Sec. 3, Rule 66, Rules of Court).

2. Private person - any person claiming to be entitled to the public office or position usurped or unlawfully
held or exercised by another. (Sec. 5, Rule 66). He may maintain the action without the intervention of the
Solicitor General and without need for any leave of court. In bringing a petition for quo warranto, he must
show that he has a clear right to the office allegedly being held by another. It is not enough that he merely
asserts the right to be appointed to the office. He must assert that he is entitled to the office allegedly usurped
or unlawfully held by another.

By analogy with Sec. 5, it has been held that a public utility may bring a quo warranto action against
another public utility which has usurped the rights of the former granted under a franchise. (Cui vs. Cui,
G.R. No. 39773. April 9, 1934)
How is quo warranto commenced?

A quo warranto proceeding is commenced by a verified petition brought in the name of the Government of
the Republic of the Philippines by the Solicitor General, by a public prosecutor, or by a private person in
his own name where he claims to be entitled to the public office or position alleged to have been usurped
or unlawfully held or exercised by another.

What court has jurisdiction over quo warranto cases?

1. Supreme Court
2. Court of Appeals
3. Regional Trial Court

Where should the petition for quo warranto be filed (venue)?

1. The petition may be brought in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or in the Regional Trial Court which
has jurisdiction over the territorial area where the respondent or where any of the respondents resides.

2. When the action is commenced by the Solicitor General, the petition may be brought in the Regional
Trial Court of the City of Manila, the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court (Sec. 7, Rule 66).

When should the action for quo warranto be filed?

An action for quo warranto in relation to a public office must be filed within one (1) year after the cause
of the ouster, or the right of the petitioner to hold such office or position, arose (Sec. 11, Rule 66).

The period fixed in the rule is a condition precedent to the existence of the cause of action, with the result
that, if a complaint is not filed within one year, it cannot prosper although the matter is not set up in the
answer or motion to dismiss. (Abeto vs. Rodas, G.R. No. L-2041, November 3, 1948)

An action for quo warranto must be filed within one year after the cause of action accrues, and the
pendency of administrative remedies does not operate to suspend the running of the one-year period (Palma-
Fernandez vs. De La Paz, G.R. No. 78946 April 15, 1988). No one is compelled to resort to
administrative remedies since public interest requires that the right to public office should be determined
as speedily as possible.

Right to damages

If the petitioner is adjudged to be entitled to the office, he may sue for damages against the alleged usurper
within one (1) year from the entry of judgment establishing his right to the office in question (Sec. 11, Rule
66).

Quo warranto against corporations

Although a quo warranto proceeding may be brought against an association which acts as a corporation
within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority so to act (Sec. 1[c],
Rule 66), the petition may be brought only against a de facto corporation, not a de jure corporation. The
latter corporation has no defect in its incorporation and exercises corporate powers because it was organized
in full compliance with the laws (Black's, 5th Ed., 382). There is therefore, no reason to attack its existence
and its exercise of corporate powers.
A de facto corporation is one which in good faith claims to be a corporation, was organized in accordance
and pursuant to a valid law, and assumes corporate powers because it was issued a certificate of
incorporation. Traditionally, it has been referred to as a corporation which exists in fact but not in law.
Under the law, its right to exercise corporate powers, shall be inquired into by a collateral attack in a private
suit to which such corporation may be made a party (Sec. 20, Corporation Code of the Philippines). Hence,
its exercise of corporate powers may be inquired into and its corporate existence attacked by a quo warranto
proceeding.

Observe that under the Securities and Regulations Code of 2000 (R.A. 8799), that all the powers of the
Securities and Exchange Commission enumerated under Sec. 5 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A were
transferred to the courts of general jurisdiction (RTC) and the same law also enumerates as one of the
powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission the power to "suspend, revoke * * * the franchise, or
certificate of registration of corporations * * * upon any of the grounds provided by law (Sec. 5.1[m], R.A.
8799).

It should be noted that allegations in a complaint for quo warranto that certain persons usurped the offices,
powers and functions of duly elected members of the board, trustees and/or officers make out a case for an
intra-corporate controversy. Prior to the enactment of R.A. No. 8799, the Court, adopting Justice Jose Y.
Ferias view, declared in Unilongo v. Court of Appeals that Section 1, Rule 66 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure is limited to actions of quo warranto against persons who usurp a public office, position or
franchise; public officers who forfeit their office; and associations which act as corporations without being
legally incorporated, while [a]ctions of quo warranto against corporations, or against persons who usurp an
office in a corporation, fall under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission and are
governed by its rules. (P.D. No. 902-A as amended).

However, R.A. No. 8799 was passed and Section 5.2 thereof provides as follows:

5.2. The Commissions jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of Presidential Decree No.
902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction or the appropriate Regional Trial Court:
Provided, That the Supreme Court in the exercise of its authority may designate the Regional Trial Court
branches that shall exercise jurisdiction over these cases. xxx

Therefore, actions of quo warranto against persons who usurp an office in a corporation, which were
formerly cognizable by the Securities and Exchange Commission under PD 902-A, have been transferred
to the courts of general jurisdiction. But, this does not change the fact that Rule 66 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure does not apply to quo warranto cases against persons who usurp an office in a private
corporation.

As explained in the Unilongo case, Section 1(a) of Rule 66 of the present Rules no longer contains the
phrase or an office in a corporation created by authority of law which was found in the old Rules. Clearly,
the present Rule 66 only applies to actions of quo warranto against persons who usurp a public office,
position or franchise; public officers who forfeit their office; and associations which act as corporations
without being legally incorporated despite the passage of R.A. No. 8799. It is, therefore, The Interim Rules
of Procedure Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies Under R.A. No. 8799 (hereinafter the Interim Rules)
which applies to the petition for quo warranto filed by respondents before the trial court since what is being
questioned is the authority of herein petitioners to assume the office and act as the board of directors and
officers of St. John Hospital, Incorporated. (Calleja vs. Panday, G.R. No. 168696, February 28, 2006)
Bar Questions:

A group of businessmen formed an association in Cebu City calling itself Cars Co. to distribute/sell cars in
said city. It did not incorporate itself under the law nor did it have any government permit or license to
conduct its business as such. The Solicitor General filed before a Regional Trial Court in Manila a verified
petition for quo warranto questioning and seeking to stop the operations of Car Co. The latter filed a motion
to dismiss the petition on the ground of improper venue claiming that its main office and operations are in
Cebu City and not in Manila. Is the contention of Cars Co. correct? (Bar 2001)

Suggested answer.

The contention of Car Co. is not correct. While as a rule, a petition for quo warranto filed before the RTC
should be brought in the place where the respondent resides, this rule shall not apply when the petition is
filed by the Solicitor General who is given the prerogative to file the petition in the Regional Trial Court of
Manila.

If the principal of a public high school is illegally replaced by another, is it a requirement that before he can
go to court on a quo warranto, he should first exhaust administrative remedies? (Bar 1980)

Suggested answer.

No. There is no such requirement under Rule 66. The action has to be brought within one (1) year from the
cause of ouster from office or the right to hold the office arose. A quo warranto proceeding is one of the
instances where exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required.