Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 115

Rule 38 During the executive meeting, Provincial Budget Officer Clemente allegedly manifested that the

Province had no funds available to pay for the salaries of Governor Ong's 26 appointees. 9 She
subsequently issued a Letter recalling the previously issued certification of the availability of
funds:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
G.R. No. 202331, April 22, 2015 In view of the result of the dialogue of the concerned offices regarding the financial status of the
Provincial Government of Aurora, we hereby recall/retrieve our previously issued certification
of availability of funds relative to the appointments issued by Governor Ramoncita P.
THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF AURORA, Petitioner, v. HILARIO M. MARCO, Respondents. Ong.10cralawlawlibrary
Provincial Budget Officer Clemente's Letter was submitted to the Province's Human Resource
DECISION Management-Office. It was then forwarded to the Field Office.11

LEONEN, J.: Due to the recall of the certification, the Field Office disapproved Marco's appointment in the
Letter12dated July 5, 2004.13
The prohibition on midnight appointments only applies to presidential appointments. It does not
apply to appointments made by local chief executives. The Province, through Human Resource Management Officer Liwayway G. Victorio, served Marco
a copy of the Letter dated July 5, 2004. Marco was, thus, advised to refrain from reporting for
Nevertheless, the Civil Service Commission has the power to promulgate rules and regulations to work beginning July 8, 2004, the day he received notice of the disapproval of his appointment. 14
professionalize the civil service. It may issue rules and regulations prohibiting local chief
executives from making appointments during the last days of their tenure. Appointments of local Marco wrote the Civil Service Commission Regional Office No. IV (Regional Office), moving for
chief executives must conform to these civil service rules and regulations in order to be valid. the reconsideration of the disapproval of his appointment.15 The Regional Office, however,
denied reconsideration in its Decision16 dated April 6, 2005 and affirmed the disapproval of
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 of the Court of Appeals Decision2 that denied the Marco's appointment. It said that "[t]he lack of funds for the [26 appointments Governor Ong
appeal of the Provincial Government of Aurora (the Province). The Province appealed the issued] was established during the meeting of the different department heads of Aurora Province
Resolution3 of the Civil Service Commission granting the Motion for Execution filed by Hilario M. and their new governor."17
Marco (Marco). The Civil Service Commission had earlier reversed and set aside the disapproval
of Marco's permanent appointment as Cooperative Development Specialist II. 4 Through the Letter dated May 17, 2005, Marco appealed before the Civil Service
Commission.18 The Province, through its Human Resource Management Office, received a copy of
Governor Ramoncita P. Ong (Governor Ong) permanently appointed5 Marco as Cooperative Marco's Letter on May 23, 2005.19 However, it failed to comment on the appeal within 10 days
Development Specialist II on June 25, 2004, five (5) days before the end of her term as Governor from receipt as required by Section 73 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
of the Province.6 On June 28, 2004, Marco's appointment, together with 25 other appointments, Service.20
was submitted to the Civil Service Commission Field Office-Aurora (the Field Office). Annexed to
Marco's appointment papers was a certification from Provincial Budget Officer Norma R. In the Resolution21 dated April 14, 2008, the Civil Service Commission granted Marco's appeal
Clemente (Provincial Budget Officer Clemente) and Provincial Accountant Wilfredo C. Saturno and set aside the Regional Office's Decision dated April 6, 2005. It ruled that Marco's
(Provincial Accountant Saturno) stating that funds from the Province's 2004 Annual Budget were appointment was valid since it was accompanied by a certification of availability of funds. 22 As to
available to cover the position.7 the Letter withdrawing the certification, the Civil Service Commission ruled that it did not affect
the validity of Marco's appointment because the Province "failed to submit documentary
On June 30, 2004, newly elected Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo assumed office. The next day, evidence to support its claim [that it had no funds to pay for the services of Governor Ong's
she called to an executive meeting all the department heads of the Province. 8 appointees]."23
The Civil Service Commission added that the Province's withdrawal of the certification was request.
"unfair to Marco":24ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
It is unfair to Marco who applied for the said position believing in good faith that funds were Provincial Administrator Ocampo filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Quash
available, passed the screening conducted by the Personnel Selection Board (PSB) on February "Execution,"41arguing that the April 14, 2008 Resolution had already been implemented. As the
12 & 13, 2004, was appointed on June 25, 2004 and was later told to stop reporting for work as Civil Service Commission had ordered, the Province reflected the April 14, 2008 Resolution.in
his appointment was disapproved by [the Civil Service Commission Field Office-Aurora] simply Marco's appointment papers and in his Service Record.42
because the provincial government under the new governor realized that it has no funds to pay
for his services.25cralawlawlibrary In the Resolution43 dated January 24, 2011, the Civil Service Commission denied the Motion for
Thus, the Civil Service Commission ordered the Regional Office to investigate whether Provincial Reconsideration with Motion to Quash "Execution." It noted that the Province still refused to
Budget Officer Clemente and Provincial Accountant Saturno were administratively liable for reinstate Marco despite the April 14, 2008 Resolution and thus clarified that this Resolution
certifying that funds were available to cover the positions filled by Governor Ong's appointees necessarily resulted in the approval of Marco's appointment and his reinstatement as
but subsequently withdrawing this certification.26 It ordered the. Field Office to reflect the Cooperative Development Specialist II.44The January 24, 2011 Resolution
Resolution in Marco's appointment papers and in his Service Record.27 states:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Ocampo, et al. nonchalantly tries to sweep away what is obvious in the ruling of the Commission
The Province received a copy of the April 14, 2008 Resolution on May 21, 2008.28 in [the April 14, 2008 Resolution], i.e., the reversal of the disapproval by [the Regional Office] and
[the Field Office] of Marco's appointment. The reversal of the two (2) decisions mean[s] that
On July 22, 2008, Provincial Administrator Alex N. Ocampo (Provincial Administrator Ocampo), Marco's appointment as Cooperative Development Specialist II is in order and should be
on behalf of the Province, filed before the Civil Service Commission a Petition for Relief 29 on the approved. Consequently, the approval of Marco's appointment is legal proof that he is entitled to
ground of extrinsic fraud. According to him, the Civil Service Commission deprived the Province perform the duties and functions of the said position and receive the salaries and benefits
of an opportunity to be heard when it failed to implead the Province as an indispensable attached to the position.cralawred
party.30 He reiterated that Marco's appointment was void since the Province had no funds to pay
for Marco's salaries.31 WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Quash of Alex N. Ocampo,
Provincial Administrator, and Manuel Joseph R. Bretana III, Legal Counsel, Provincial
The Civil Service Commission denied outright the Petition for Relief in the Resolution32 dated Government of Aurora, is DENIED. Accordingly, [the July 6, 2010 Resolution] which grants the
November 4, 2008. It ruled that Provincial Administrator Ocampo had no legal personality to file Motion for the Implementation of [the April 14, 2008 Resolution] filed by Hilario M.
the Petition for Relief absent an authorization from the Provincial Governor. Moreover, a petition Marco, STANDS.
for relief was not allowed under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
Thus, Provincial Administrator Ocampo erred in filing a Petition for Relief.33 The Provincial Governor of Aurora is directed to reinstate Marco to his Cooperative Development
Specialist II position and pay his back salaries and other benefits from the time that Marco was
Provincial Administrator Ocampo filed a Motion for Reconsideration,34 this time with a written actually prohibited from reporting for work up to his actual reinstatement.45cralawlawlibrary
authority35to file from Governor Bellafior Angara-Castillo annexed to the Motion.36 A Petition for Review46 under Rule 43 with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining
order47 was filed before the Court of Appeals. For the first time, the Province argued that Marco
The Civil Service Commission denied the Motion for Reconsideration in the Resolution37 dated was a midnight appointee since Governor Ong appointed him during the last five (5) days of her
September 8, 2009. It ruled that its April 14, 2008 Resolution had become final and executory tenure. Therefore, Marco's appointment was void.48
considering that the Province did not file a motion for reconsideration of this Resolution within
the reglementary period.38 In the Decision dated March 2, 2012, the Court of Appeals denied the Petition for Review and
affirmed the implementation of the Civil Service Commission's April 14, 2008 Resolution.49
Consequently, Marco requested the Civil Service Commission to implement the April 14, 2008
Resolution.39 Through the Resolution40 dated July 6, 2010, the Commission granted Marco's The Court of Appeals ruled that the April 14, 2008 Resolution already became final and
executory since there was no motion for reconsideration filed within the reglementary period. failed to present convincing evidence to prove this claim. The Minutes of the Meeting of the
Although the Province filed a Petition for Relief before the Civil Service Commission, the Court of Promotion Selection Board showed that Marco was among the 201 applicants allegedly screened
Appeals held that the remedy of a petition for relief is not allowed under the Uniform Rules on by the Board within two (2j days. According to the Province, two days is a period too short for
Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. Moreover, the Province failed to prove the extrinsic the Personnel Selection Board to have carefully considered all the applications.64
fraud that allegedly prevented it from filing a motion for reconsideration. Thus, the Civil Service
Commission correctly denied the Petition for Relief.50 As to the claim that the April 14, 2008 Resolution is final and executory and may no longer be
reversed, the Province argues that nothing prevents this court from setting aside this Resolution.
On the merits, the Court of Appeals affirmed Marco's appointment. The Province had earlier It argues that the promulgation of Nazareno, et al. v. City of Dumaguete65 was a supervening event
certified that it had funds to pay for his salary as Cooperative Development Specialist II. 51 It warranting the reversal of the final and executory decision.66
found that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan even passed a "Supplemental Budget for 2004
appropriating P54,014,127.01 in provincial funds."52 Therefore, the issuance of the Letter In Nazareno, this court voided 89 appointments made by a city mayor within the month that he
recalling the certification "[did] not change the fact that there [were] funds available for left office, ruling that they were mass appointments prohibited under Civil Service Commission
[Marco's] appointment."53 Resolution No. 010988.67 The Province argues that Governor Ong's appointments were
analogous to the Nazarenoappointments; hence, Governor Ong's appointments should likewise
On the claim that Marco was a midnight appointee, the Court of Appeals said that Marco's case be voided.68
fell within the exception provided under Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 030918. 54 He
was fully qualified for the position and underwent a screening process on February 12 and 13, Finally, the Province insists that Marco's appointment was void due to lack of funds to pay for the
2004, long before the election ban.55 Therefore, he was validly appointed. position.69 In ordering the Province to uphold Marco's appointment despite the lack of funds, the
Civil Service Commission allegedly "interfered with [the Province's] prerogative to draw up its
The Province filed a Motion for Reconsideration,56 which the Court of Appeals denied in the own budget and to spend its ... revenues as it deems fit." 70
Resolution57dated June 13, 2012.
For his part, Marco maintains that the Civil Service Commission's Resolution dated April 14,
The Province filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari before this court. Marco filed his 2008 has long become final and executory. Therefore, the Resolution may no longer be
Comment,58 after which the Province filed its Reply.59 disturbed.71

In the Resolution60 dated January 30, 2013, this court ordered the parties to file their respective On the claim that he was a midnight appointee, Marco pointed out that the Province belatedly
memoranda. The Province filed its Memorandum61 on April 25, 2013, while Marco filed his raised this claim. The Province never raised it before the Civil Service Commission but only did
Memorandum62 on May 2, 2013. so before the Court of Appeals.72 By belatedly raising this claim, the Province should be deemed
to have "implicitly recognized"73 that he was not a midnight appointee.
The Province maintains that Marco's appointment was void on the ground that he was a
midnight appointee. Marco was appointed by Governor Ong five (5) days before the end of her In any case, Marco asserts that he was qualified for the position and that he underwent a
term, in violation of Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 030918,63 paragraph 2.1 of which selection process as required by Resolution No. 030918. Thus, his appointment was an exception
provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary to the prohibition on midnight appointments.74
2.1. All appointments issued by elective appointing officials after elections up to June 30 shall be
disapproved, except if the appointee is fully qualified for the position and had undergone On the alleged interference of the Civil Service Commission with the Province's discretionary
regular screening processes before the Election Ban as shown in the Promotion and power to appoint, Marco argues that it "merely upheld the validity of an existing
Selection Board (PSB) report or minutes of meeting. appointment[.]"75 The Civil Service Commission did not "[substitute] its own appointee for the
On Marco's claim that he underwent a regular screening process, which exempted his one chosen by the appointing authority."76 Therefore, it correctly upheld his appointment.
appointment from the prohibition on midnight appointments, the Province counters that Marco
Lastly, Marco argues that Nazareno does not apply in this case. This court in Nazareno voided the litigation."85
89 appointments of the appointing authority based on the criteria set in Resolution No.
010988.77 However, Nazareno had been promulgated even before he was appointed in office. The doctrine of immutability of final judgments applies to decisions rendered by the Civil Service
Moreover, Resolution No. 010988 did not set any new criteria for appointments made during the Commission. A decision of the Civil Service Commission becomes final and executory if no
last days of the appointing authority in office. Therefore, the promulgation of Nazareno is not a motion for reconsideration is filed within the 15-day reglementary period under Rule VI, Section
supervening event that can set aside the final and executory April 14, 2008 Resolution.78 80 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Section 80. Execution of Decision. - The decisions of the Commission Proper or its Regional Offices
The issues for this court's resolution are: shall be immediately executory after fifteen (15) days from receipt thereof, unless a motion for
reconsideration is seasonably filed, in which case the execution of the decision shall be held in
First, whether the Resolution dated July 6, 2010, which ordered the implementation of the April abeyance.
14, 2008 Resolution, was void for varying the terms of the April 14, 2008 Resolution; In Mendiola v. Civil Service Commission,86 Teodorico Mendiola (Mendiola) occupied the position of
Budget Examiner III when the Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau terminated his
Second, whether the withdrawal of the certification of sufficiency of funds voided Marco's employment.87 On Mendiola's appeal, the Civil Service Commission ordered his reinstatetment in
appointment; and the resolution dated September 21, 1988.88

Lastly, whether Marco's appointment was void on the ground that he was a midnight appointee. The Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau failed to file a motion for reconsideration
within the 15-day reglementary period. Consequently, Mendiola filed a motion for execution of
This Petition must be denied.cralawlawlibrary the September 21, 1988 resolution.89

I Unknown to Mendiola, the Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau belatedly filed a
motion for reconsideration, which the Civil Service Commission granted despite having been
We note that the Province filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals against the Civil Service filed out of time.90
Commission's Resolution that ordered the execution of the April 14, 2008 Resolution. 79
This court reversed the Civil Service Commission's grant of the motion for reconsideration and
The Province erred in filing an appeal before the Court of Appeals, as no appeal may be taken ordered Mendiola's reinstatement as the Commission previously ordered in the September 21,
from an order of execution.80 Instead, it should have filed a petition for certiorari the 1998 resolution. This court held that the September 21, 1998 resolution had become final and
appropriate special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.81 executory when the Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau failed to file a motion for
reconsideration within the reglementary period. Thus, the Civil Service Commission may no
The Court of Appeals, therefore, should have dismissed the Province's appeal outright. Rule 50, longer reverse the resolution.91
Section 1(i) of the Rules of Court allows the Court of Appeals to dismiss an appeal where the
order appealed from is not appealable.82 In Obiasca v. Basallote,92 Jeane O. Basallote (Basallote) was appointed Administrative Officer II by
the Department of Education and was assigned to work in Tabaco National High School in Albay.
The rule prohibiting appeals from orders of execution is based on the doctrine of immutability of Basallote had assumed the duties of her office as Administrative Officer II when she learned that
final judgments. Under this doctrine, a final and executory judgment "is removed from the power Arlin B. Obiasca (Obiasca) was subsequently appointed to the same position. Obiasca's
and jurisdiction of the court which rendered it to further alter or amend it, much less revoke appointment was attested to by the Civil Service Commission, while Basallote's appointment
it."83 The judgment remains immutable even if it is later on discovered to be erroneous.84 The papers were not even forwarded to the Civil Service Commission.93
doctrine "is grounded on fundamental considerations of public policy and sound practice that at
the risk of occasional error, the judgments of the courts must become final at some definite date Basallote protested Obiasca's appointment before the Civil Service Commission Regional Office
fixed by law. To allow courts to amend final [and executory] judgments will result in endless V. The Regional Office dismissed the protest. On appeal, the Civil Service Commission reversed
the Regional Office's Decision, thus approving Basallote's appointment and recalling that of Province's claim, there was no extrinsic fraud since the Province was not prevented "from fully
Obiasca.94 and fairly presenting [its] defense[.]"104 The Civil Service Commission correctly denied the
Province's Petition for Relief.
Without filing a motion for reconsideration before the Civil Service Commission, Obiasca directly
filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Civil Service Since the April 14, 2008 Resolution already became final and executory, it may no longer be
Commission's Decision.95 reversed. The Civil Service Commission correctly granted Marco's request for the Resolution's
implementation.cralawlawlibrary
Obiasca's Petition for Review on certiorari was likewise denied by this court.96 This court held
that Obiasca's failure to file a motion for reconsideration rendered the Civil Service II
Commission's Decision approving Basallote's appointment final and executory. Thus, the Civil
Service Commission's Decision may no longer be disturbed:97ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary In implementing the April 14, 2008 Resolution, the Civil Service Commission ordered the
[Obiasca] did not file a petition for reconsideration of the [Civil Service Commission's resolution] Province to reinstate Marco and to pay him back salaries and other
before filing a petition for review in the [Court of Appeals]. Such fatal procedural lapse on benefits:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
[Obiasca]'s part allowed the [Civil Service Commission's resolution] to become final and WHEREFORE, the request of Hilario M. Marco, Cooperative Development Specialist II, Provincial
executory. Hence, for all intents and purposes, the [Civil Service Commission's resolution] has Government of Aurora, for the implementation of CSC Resolution No. 08-0656 dated April 14,
become immutable and can no longer be amended or modified. A final and definitive judgment 2008 is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Provincial Government of Aurora is directed to reinstate
can no longer be changed, revised, amended or reversed. Thus, in praying for the reversal of Marco to his former position and the payment of his back salaries and other benefits starting
the assailed Court of Appeals decision which affirmed the final and executory [Civil Service from the date he was advised to stop reporting for work on July 8, 2004 up to his actual
Commission resolution], [Obiasca] would want the Court to reverse a final and executory reinstatement.105cralawlawlibrary
judgment and disregard the doctrine of immutability of final judgments.98 (Emphasis in the According to the Province, the Civil Service Commission went beyond the order sought to be
original, citations omitted) implemented and "varie[d] the term of the judgment."106 The Province claims that nothing in the
In this case, the Province, through its Human Resource Management Office, received a copy of the April 14, 2008 Resolution ordered the reinstatement of Marco. The dispositive portion of the
Civil Service Commission's April 14, 2008 Resolution on May 21, 2008.99 Thus, the Province had resolution stated:107ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
until June 5, 2008 to file a motion for reconsideration. WHEREFORE, the appeal of Hilario M. Marco is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Decision No. 05-
0212 dated April 6, 2005 of the Civil Service Commission Regional Office IV, Quezon City,
However, the Province failed to file a motion for reconsideration of the April 14, 2008 Resolution affirming the disapproval of the appointment of Marco for lack of certification of availability of
within the 15-day reglementary period. With no motion for reconsideration seasonably filed, the funds is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
April 14, 2008 Resolution-became final and executory on June 6, 2008.
The Civil Service Commission Field Office-Aurora is directed to reflect this decision in the
In addition, the remedy of a petition for relief from judgment is not among those provided under appointment of Marco and in his Service Record.108cralawlawlibrary
the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. This means that the remedy is not Therefore, the Province claims that the order implementing the April 14, 2008 Resolution must
allowed under civil service rules.100 Even assuming that a petition for relief may be filed before be set aside.
the Civil Service Commission, the party must show that the assailed judgment became final
through fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence. 101 We rule that the Civil Service Commission did not vary the terms of the April 14, 2008
Resolution.
Here, the Province failed to refute that it received a copy of the Civil Service Commission's April
14, 2008 Resolution. It was given an opportunity to be heard, which is the essence of Under Rule IV, Section 1 of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 40-98, an
administrative due process.103 It did not even justify why it failed to file a motion for appointment takes effect immediately upon issuance by the appointing authority. Once the
reconsideration despite its receipt of the Civil Service Commission's Resolution. Contrary to the appointee has assumed the duties of the position, he or she is entitled to receive the salaries
corresponding with the position though the Civil Service Commission has not yet approved the following
appointment.
....
Should the appointment be initially disapproved, it nevertheless remains effective if a motion for
reconsideration or an appeal of the disapproval is seasonably filed with the proper ii. Certification by the Municipal/City/Provincial Accountant/Budget Officer that funds are
office.109 Therefore, during the pendency of the motion for reconsideration, the appointee available.
remains entitled to his or her salaries until the appointment is finally disapproved by the Civil The certification ensures that the appointee shall occupy a position adequately covered by
Service Commission.110 appropriations as required by Section 325(e) of the Local Government
Code:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Marco's appointment immediately took effect on June 25, 2004 when Governor Ong appointed SECTION 325. General Limitations. - The use of the provincial, city, and municipal funds shall be
him as Cooperative Development Specialist II. Although his appointment was initially subject to the following limitations:
disapproved by the Field Office, Marco seasonably filed a Motion for Reconsideration before the
Civil Service Commission. Thus, Marco's appointment remained effective during the pendency of ....
the Motion for Reconsideration.
(e) Positions in the official plantilla for career positions which are occupied by incumbents
Because the Civil Service Commission granted his Motion for Reconsideration and set aside the holding permanent appointments shall be covered by adequate appropriations[.]
disapproval of his appointment, Marco remained entitled to his position. The necessary As required by Rule V, Section 1 (e)(ii) of the Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular
consequence of granting reconsideration is his reinstatement as Cooperative Development No. 40-98, Marco's appointment was accompanied by a certification from the Province, through
Specialist II. the Provincial Budget Officer and the Provincial Accountant, that funds were available under the
2004 Annual Budget of the Province for the 26 positions issued by Governor Ong. Therefore,
The Civil Service Commission correctly implemented the April 14, 2008 Resolution by ordering there was no violation of Rule V, Section 1(e)(ii) of the Civil Service Commission Memorandum
Marco's reinstatement and the payment of his back salaries and other benefits.cralawlawlibrary Circular No. 40-98. There was no violation of existing Civil Service Law, rules and regulations.
Marco's appointment remains effective.
III
That the Province suddenly had no funds to pay for Marco's salaries despite its earlier
The Province contends that the Civil Service Commission erred in approving Marco's certification that funds were available under its 2004 Annual Budget does not affect his
appointment as Cooperative Development Specialist II. It allegedly had no funds to cover the appointment.
position. Therefore, the appointment was void, having been issued in violation of Rule V, Section
1(e)(ii) of the Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 40-98. The rule None of the grounds for disapproval, of an appointment under Rule V, Section 7111 of the
states:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Omnibus Rules Implementing the Civil Service Law exists in this case. The appointment remains
SECTION 1. In addition to the common requirements and procedures, the following effective, and the local government unit remains liable for the salaries of the appointee. 112
requirements and guidelines shall also be observed and the necessary documents submitted,
when applicable. Moreover, the earlier certification, if proven false, constitutes intentional misrepresentation of a
material fact concerning a civil service matter. This is an offense punishable by fine, or
.... imprisonment, or both as provided under Section 67 of the Civil Service
Law:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
e. LGU Appointment. Appointment in local government units for submission to the SEC. 67. Penal Provision. Whoever makes any appointment or employs any person in violation
Commission shall be accompanied, in addition to the common requirements, by the of any provision of this Title or the rules made thereunder or whoever commits fraud, deceit or
intentional misrepresentation of material facts concerning other civil service matters, or
whoever violates, refuses or neglects to comply with any of such provisions or rules, shall upon Rama's request, ruling that the prohibition on midnight appointments only applies to outgoing
conviction be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand pesos or by imprisonment not Presidents.120 On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Civil Service Commission's
exceeding six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court. decision.121
We, therefore, agree with the Civil Service Commission in ordering the Regional Office to
commence appropriate administrative proceedings against Provincial Budget Officer Norma R. This court agreed with the Civil Service Commission and the Court of Appeals. In denying Mayor
Clemente and Provincial Accountant Wilfredo C. Saturno for issuing the certification of de Rama's petition for review on certiorari, this court said that the prohibition on midnight
availability of funds:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary appointments "applies only to presidential appointments."122 This court noted that "there is no
The Commission disapproves of the conduct of the officials of the Provincial Government of law that prohibits local elective officials from making appointments during the last days of his or
Aurora in issuing a certification dated June 25, 2004 that funds are available in the 2004 Annual her tenure."123
Budget to support the appointments issued by outgoing Governor Ong and then later
[withdrawing] the same when a new governor assumes office. As such, the CSCRO No. IV is Nonetheless, the Civil Service Commission, as the central personnel agency of the
directed to conduct the appropriate administrative proceedings to determine whether Norma R. Government,124 may "establish rules and regulations to promote efficiency and professionalism
Clemente (Provincial Budget Officer) and Wilfredo C. Saturno (Provincial Accountant) violated in the civil service."125Although it conceded that no law prohibits local elective officials from
Civil Service Law, rules and regulations.113cralawlawlibrary making appointments during the last days of their tenure, this court in Nazareno upheld Civil
IV Service Commission Resolution No. 010988, which prohibited local elective officials from making
appointments immediately before and after elections.126 In addition, Resolution No. 010988
The Province claims that Marco was a midnight appointee. Moreover, he was among those prohibited "mass appointments," or those "issued in bulk or in large number after the elections
appointed "en masse"114 by Governor Ong before the end of her term. Thus, the Civil Service by an outgoing local chief executive and there is no apparent need for their immediate issuance."
Commission should have disapproved Marco's appointment. Resolution No. 010988 states:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
WHEREAS, the May 14, 2001 national and local elections have just concluded and the
A midnight appointment "refers to those appointments made within two months immediately Commission anticipates controversies that would arise involving appointments issued by
prior to the next presidential election."115 Midnight appointments are prohibited under Article outgoing local chief executives immediately before and after elections;
VII, Section 15 of the Constitution:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SECTION 15. Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of WHEREAS, the Commission observed the tendency of some outgoing local chief executives to
his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary issue appointments even after the elections, especially when their successors have already been
appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public proclaimed;
service or endanger public safety.
Midnight appointments are prohibited because an outgoing President is "duty bound to prepare WHEREAS, this practice of some outgoing local chief executives causes animosities between the
for the orderly transfer of authority to the incoming President, and he [or she] should not do acts outgoing and incoming officials and the people who are immediately affected and made to suffer
which he [or she] ought to know, would embarrass or obstruct the policies of his [or her] the consequences thereof are the ordinary civil servants and eventually, to a larger extent, their
successor."116 An outgoing President should not "deprive the new administration of an constituents themselves;
opportunity to make the corresponding appointments."117
WHEREAS, one of the reasons behind the prohibition in issuing appointments or hiring of new
However, the constitutiona prohibition on midnight appointments only applies to presidential employees during the prohibited period as provided for in CSC Memorandum Circular No. 7,
appointments. It does not apply to appointments made by local chief executives. series of 2001 is to prevent the occurrence of the foregoing, among others;

In De Rama v. Court of Appeals,118 Mayor Conrado L. de Rama (Mayor de Rama) of Pagbilao, WHEREAS, local elective officials, whose terms of office are about to expire, are deemed as
Quezon sought to recall 14 appointments made by former Mayor Ma. Evelyn S. Abeja on the sole "caretaker" administrators who are duty bound to prepare for the smooth and orderly transfer
ground that they were midnight appointments.119 The Civil Service Commission denied Mayor de of power and authority to the incoming local chief executives;
d) That the appointment is not one of those mass appointments issued after the elections.
WHEREAS, under Section 15, Article VII of the Constitution, the President or Acting President is
prohibited from making appointments two (2) months immediately before the next presidential 4. The term "mass appointments" refers to those issued in bulk or in large number after
elections and up to the end of his term, except temporary appointments to executive positions the elections by an outgoing local chief executive and there is no apparent need for their
when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety; immediate issuance.

WHEREAS, while there is no equivalent provision in the Local Government Code of 1991 This court said that the rationale behind Resolution No. 010988 "is not difficult to
(Republic Act No. 7160) or in the Civil Service Law (Book V of Executive Order No. 292) of the see":127ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
above-stated prohibition, the rationale against the prohibition on the issuance of "midnight Appointments are banned prior to the elections to ensure that partisan loyalties will not be a
appointments" by the President is applicable to appointments extended by outgoing local chief factor in the appointment process, and to prevent incumbents from gaining any undue advantage
executives immediately before and/or after the elections; and during the elections. To this end, appointments within a certain period of time are proscribed by
the Omnibus Election Code and related issuances. After the elections, appointments by defeated
WHEREAS, the Commission also deems it fit to issue guidelines that would assist processors in candidates are prohibited, except under the circumstances mentioned in CSC Resolution No.
their actions on appointments issued by theses outgoing local chief executives immediately 010988, to avoid animosities between outgoing and incoming officials, to allow the incoming
before and/or after the elections; administration a free hand in implementing its policies, and to ensure that appointments and
promotions are not used as a tool for political patronage or as a reward for services rendered to
NOW THEREFORE, the Commission, pursuant to its constitutional mandate as the central the outgoing local officials.128(Citation omitted)
personnel agency of the government, hereby issues and adopts the following guidelines: In Nazareno, this court affirmed the disapproval of 89 appointments Mayor Felipe Antonio B.
Remollo (Mayor Remollo) of Dumaguete City made within the month that he left office. This
1. The validity of an appointment issued immediately before or after the elections by court found that the appointments were issued in violation of Resolution No. 010988.
outgoing local chief executives is to be determined on the basis of the nature, character Particularly, it found no evidence that the Personnel Selection Board carefully deliberated on the
and merit of the individual appointment and the particular circumstances surrounding qualifications of Mayor Remollo's appointees.129 Moreover, the timing and the large number of
the same. appointments "indicate that the appointments were hurriedly issued by the outgoing
administration."130
....
The Province argues that the 26 appointments Governor Ong issued during the last days of her
3. All appointments, whether original, transfer, reemployment, reappointment, promotion tenure were similar to those Mayor Remollo issued in Nazareno. Governor Ong allegedly issued
or demotion, except in cases of renewal and reinstatement, regardless of status, which mass appointments, the immediate issuance of which the Province had no apparent need.
are issued AFTER the elections, regardless of their dates of effectivity and/or date of
receipt by the Commission, including its Regional or Field Offices, of said appointments We note, however, that Resolution No. 010988 the Resolution effective when Mayor Remollo
or the Report of Personnel Actions (ROPA), as the case may be, shall be disapproved issued the appointments in Nazareno was superseded by Resolution No. 030918 dated August
unless the following requisites concur relative to their issuance: 28, 2003.131Resolution No. 030918 on "midnight appointments" by local chief executives was
effective at the time Governor Ong issued the disputed appointments. Resolution No. 030918
a) The appointment has gone through the regular screening by the Personnel Selection Board states, in part:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(PSB) before the prohibited period on the issuance of appointments as shown by the PSB WHEREAS, under Section 3, Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution, the Commission, as the central
report or minutes of its meeting; personnel agency of the Government, is mandated to establish a career service and adopt
b) That the appointee is qualified; measures to promote efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness and courtesy in the
c) There is a need to fill up the vacancy immediately in order not to prejudice public service civil service, among others;
and/or endanger public safety;
WHEREAS, the Constitution further mandates the Commission to issue its own rules and Since Resolution No. 030918 was effective at the time Governor Ong issued the 26 appointments,
regulations for effective and efficient personnel administration in the Civil Service; we must decide this case based on Resolution No. 030918. Nazareno is not applicable, as it was
decided based on Resolution No. 0109888.
WHEREAS, Section 12(1) and (2), Book V of the Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code of
1987) mandates the Commission to administer and enforce the constitutional and statutory We agree with the Civil Service Commission and the Court of Appeals that Governor Ong issued
provisions on the merit system for all ranks and levels in the Civil Service and to prescribe, Marco's appointment in accordance with Resolution No. 030918. Although his appointment was
amend and enforce rules and regulations for carrying into effect the provision of the Civil Service made five (5) days before the end of Governor Ong's term, Marco was fully qualified for the
Law and other pertinent laws; position and had undergone regular screening processes before the election ban. As the Civil
Service Commission found, Marco "applied for the [position of Cooperative Development
WHEREAS, problems and controversies inevitably arise involving appointments issued by Specialist II] [and] passed the screening conducted by the Personnel Selection Board (PSB) on
outgoing elective and appointive officials just before and after election periods; February 12 & 13, 2004[.]"132 The Court of Appeals reiterated this finding in its Decision dated
March 2, 2012.133 Absent a showing of grave abuse of discretion, this court will not disturb the
WHEREAS, personnel morale, office operations, and delivery of public services are inevitably findings of fact of the Civil Service Commission,134 especially since it has acquired "specialized
disrupted by such problem's and controversies; knowledge and expertise"135 in the field of civil service law.

WHEREAS, there is a need to forestall such problems by defining and making more stringent the Assuming without conceding that Governor Ong's 26 appointments were issued in bulk, this per
restrictions on personnel appointments to be observed by outgoing appointing officials, elective se does not invalidate the appointments. Unlike Resolution No. 010988, Resolution No. 030918
or appointive, before they leave office; does not prohibit appointments that are large in number. Moreover, 26 appointments can hardly
be classified as "mass appointments," compared with the 89 appointments this court invalidated
NOW, THEREFORE, the Commission, pursuant to its constitutional and statutory mandates as in Nazareno.
the central personnel agency of the government, hereby issues and adopts the following
guidelines: Marco's appointment was valid. The Civil Service Commission correctly approved his
appointment.
....
Considering that Marco had already accepted his appointment by the time the Province
2. Action on Appointments issued by Elective and Appointive Officials After the Elections prevented him from assuming his office, his appointment remains effective up to the
Up to June 30 present.136 Consequently, the Civil Service Commission correctly ordered the Province to
reinstate Marco as Cooperative Development Specialist II and to pay him his back salaries from
2.1. All appointments issued by elective appointing officials after elections up to June 30 shall be July 8, 2004 when the Province prevented him from reporting for work up to his actual
disapproved, except if the appointee is fully qualified for the position and had undergone reinstatement.cralawred
regular screening processes before the Election Ban as shown in the Promotion and
Selection Board (PSB) report or minutes of meeting. WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision
dated March 2, 2012 is affirmed.
....
SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
This Resolution supersedes CSC Resolution No. 010988 dated 4 June 2001 and shall take effect
fifteen (15) days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Quezon City, August 28, 2003.


the restructuring of the company and consequent evaluation of its staffing
requirements.7chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
THIRD DIVISION
On January 24, 2005, Rodriguez and Rillera filed NLRC Case No. RAB-lIi-01-8376-05,8 while
Padrigon filed NLRC Case No. RAB-III-01-8401-05, both for illegal dismissal and money claims,
G.R. No. 203642, January 18, 2016
against TCIS and Dr. Cho. TCIS and Dr. Cho were served with summons by registry through Dr.
Cho, giving them 10 days from receipt to file their position paper.9 TCIS and Dr. Cho did not file
THOMASITES CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES (TCIS), Petitioner, v. RUTH N. their position paper, but they were represented by counsel at the hearings held on February 15,
RODRIGUEZ, IRENE P. PADRIGON AND ARLYN B. RILLERA, Respondents. 2005, March 15, 2005, and April 19, 2005.10chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

DECISION On May 8, 2006, the Labor Arbiter (LA) rendered a Decision11 finding that the respondents were
illegally dismissed, and directed TCIS and Dr. Cho to reinstate them with full backwages in the
REYES, J.: total amount of P1,125 000.00, plus 10% as attorney's fees.12 Dr. Cho received a copy of the
decision on June 21, 2006.13chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
This is a petition for review1 from the Resolution2 dated May 24, 2012 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 124630, dismissing outright the Thomasites Center for International On August 11, 2006, the complainants moved for issuance of a writ of execution. At the
Studies' (TCIS) petition for certiorari3 from the Decision4 dated September 30, 2011 of the September 22, 2006 pre-execution conference, Atty. Joy P. Bayona (Atty. Bayona) entered her
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NLRC Case No. RAB-III-01-8376-05, filed by appearance as counsel for TCIS and Dr. Cho. Conferences were held on October 2, 2006, October
Ruth N. Rodriguez (Rodriguez) and Arlyn B. Rillera (Rillera), and in NLRC Case No. RAB-III-01- 23, 2006, November 24, 2006 and December 15, 2006. But at the hearing held on December 1 8,
8401-05, filed by Irene P. Padrigon (Padrigon) (respondents).chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary 2006, the law firm of Andres Marcelo Pedernal Guerrero and Paras entered its appearance as
counsel for TCIS and filed a petition for relief from judgment. On January 30, 2007, the LA
The Facts directed the issuance of a writ of execution, which was served on TCIS's counsel on February 8,
2007; the LA merely noted the petition for relief due to wrong venue and lack of jurisdiction and
On July 29, 2004, Rodriguez, 34, Rillera, 36, and Padrigon, 30, all graduates of the University of because it was a prohibited pleading.14chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
the Philippines and holders of teaching licenses from the Professional Regulation Commission,
were hired by Dr. Jae Won Park and Dr. Cheol Je Cho (Dr. Cho), Korean nationals and President On February 19, 2007, TCIS re-filed its petition for relief, with prayer for Temporary Restraining
and Academic Dean, respectively, of TC1S, to develop the academic programs of the said school, Order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, before the NLRC. It claimed that the LA did not
design its curricula, create materials for the school website, recruit American and Filipino staff, acquire jurisdiction over it since the summons and notices were addressed to Dr. Cho, who did
draft documents required for the school's Technical Education and Skills Development Authority not represent TCIS; that the entry of appearance of Atty. Bayona at the pre-execution conference
accreditation, help supervise the construction of the school building in Subic Bay Metropolitan was signed only by Dr. Cho in his capacity as therein respondent and academic dean of TCIS; that
Authority, as well as draft the school's rules and regulations and student and faculty handbooks. TCIS did not receive any notice of the proceedings; and, that although the NLRC is not bound by
The parties executed no written contracts but the respondents were promised a monthly salary technical rules of procedure, TCIS's right to due process was violated since it was deprived of the
of P25,000.00 plus shares of stock.5chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary right to file its position paper. TCIS further argued it faced a shut-down and would suffer
irreparable damage unless the execution was enjoined, although it also expressed willingness to
As soon after classes opened on December 20, 2004 at the Crown Peak Hotel in Subic Bay, post a bond to guarantee payment of whatever damages may be awarded by the
disagreements arose between the respondents and the American teachers on the question of NLRC.15chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
salaries. At the meeting called by Dr. Cho on January 7, 2005, the American teachers threatened
to resign unless the respondents were terminated. That same afternoon, the respondents were On September 30, 2011, the NLRC denied TCIS's petition on the ground that it had other
served with letters of termination6 effective January 8, 2005, signed by Dr. Cho, citing as reason adequate remedies such as a motion for new trial or an appeal; that it failed to show that due to
fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence it was prevented from availing thereof; that it In Cusi-Hernandez vs. Diaz and Piglas-Kamao vs. [NLRC], we ruled that the subsequent submission
could not avail of the equitable remedy of petition for relief for the purpose of reviving its appeal of the missing documents with the motion for reconsideration amounts to substantial
which it lost through its negligence.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary compliance. The reasons behind the failure of the petitioners in these two cases to comply with
the required attachments were no longer scrutinized. What we found noteworthy in each case
On petition for certiorari, the CA dismissed on May 24, 2012 the TCIS's petition outright for its was the fact that the petitioners therein substantially complied with the formal requirements.
failure to indicate the material dates to show the timeliness of the petition. Moreover, TCIS We ordered the remand of the petitions in these cases to the [CA], stressing the ruling that by
attached an incomplete copy of the NLRC decision as well as did not attach copies of the precipitately dismissing the petitions "the appellate court clearly put a premium on technicalities
complaint, position papers, appeal memorandum, motion for reconsideration and other relevant at the expense of a just resolution of the case."
portions of the records to support the allegations in the petition.17 The CA also denied its motion
for reconsideration on September 26, 2012 for lack of meritorious We cannot see why the same leniency cannot be extended to petitioner, x x x.
grounds.18chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
If we were to apply the rules of procedure in a very rigid and technical sense, as what the [CA]
Petition for Review in the Supreme Court would have it in this case, the ends of justice would be defeated. In Cusi-Hernundez vs. Diaz,
where the formal requirements were liberally construed and substantial compliance were
In this petition, TCIS invokes the following grounds: recognized, we explained that rules of procedure are mere tools designed to expedite the
decision or resolution of cases and other matters pending in court. Hence, a strict and rigid
A. application of technicalities that, tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice must
be avoided. We further declared that:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
THE HONORABLE [NLRC] ERRED IN APPLYING RIGIDLY THE PROCEDURAL RULES ON "Cases should be determined on the merits, after full opportunity to all parties for ventilation of
TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS AND DISMISSED [TCIS'S] CERTIORARI BASED ONLY their causes and defenses, rather than on technicality or some procedural imperfections. In that
THEREON|;]chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary way, the ends of justice would be served better."
In the similar case of Piglas-Kamao vs. [NLRC], we stressed the policy of the courts to encourage
B. the full adjudication of the merits of an appeal.21 (Citations omitted and italics in the original)

THE HONORABLE [NLRC] GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE SUMMONS WERE VALID In Piglas Kamao (Sari-Sari Chapter) v. NLRC,22 the Court also ruled that there was substantial
DESPITE BEING DIRECTED TO DR. CLIO, THE ACADEMIC DEAN OF compliance after the petitioner therein subsequently attached the lacking documents to the
[TCIS;]chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary motion for reconsideration, reiterating the Court's policy to encourage the full adjudication of
the merits of an appeal.23chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
C.
As to the merits of its petition before the NLRC, TCIS argued that its right to due process was
THE HONORABLE [NLRC] GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT TEIE [RESPONDENTS] WERE violated due to the invalid service of the summons and a copy of the complaint in the LA;
ILLEGALLY DISMISSED[.]19chanrobleslaw moreover, being mere probationary employees, the respondents were validly dismissed for
failing to qualify as regular employees.
In Jaro v. CA,20 where the CA dismissed a petition for review from a Department of Agrarian
Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB.) decision for not being in proper form and lacking pertinent The Court denies the petition.
annexes, the Court admonished the appellate court for putting a premium on technicalities at
the expense of a just resolution of the case, and ruled that there was more than substantial In Philippine Amanah Bank (now Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines, also
compliance when the landowner amended the petition, now in proper form and accompanied by known as Islamic Bank) v. Contreras,24 the Court stated:
annexes which were all certified true copies by the DARAB. The Court stated:
Relief from judgment is a remedy provided by law to any person against whom a decision or period allowed.31chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
order is entered through fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence. It is a remedy,
equitable in character, that is allowed only in exceptional cases when there is no other available Moreover, the Court agrees with the CA that no fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence
or adequate remedy. When a party has another remedy available to him, which may either be a prevented TCIS from filing an appeal from the decision of the LA, even as the NLRC also noted
motion for new trial or appeal from an adverse decision of the trial court, and he was not that the petition also lacked the requisite affidavit showing the fraud, accident, mistake or
prevented by fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence from filing such motion or taking excusable negligence, and the facts constituting its good and substantial cause of
such appeal, he cannot avail of the remedy of petition for relief.25(Citation omitted) action.32chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Otherwise, the petition for relief will be tantamount to reviving the right of appeal which has TCIS was afforded every opportunity to be heard. The service of summons and notices of
already been lost either because of inexcusable negligence or due to the mistake in the mode of proceedings to Dr. Cho was perfectly valid and binding upon TCIS since they were sent to him at
procedure by counsel.26chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary its address, and Dr. Cho is a responsible officer of TCIS. Dr. Cho was TCIS's academic dean who
hired the respondents and also signed their termination letters. The attendance of TCIS's counsel
In Tuason v. CA;27 the Court explained the nature of a petition for relief from judgment, thus: at the hearings held on February 15, 2005, March 15, 2005, and April 19, 2005 is also proof that
it was duly notified of the LA's judgment.33chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
A petition for relief from judgment is an equitable remedy; it is allowed only in exceptional cases
where there is no other available or adequate remedy. When a party has another remedy WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review is DENIED.
available to him, which may be either a motion for new trial or appeal from an adverse decision
of the trial court, and he was not prevented by fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
from filing such motion or taking such appeal, he cannot avail himself of this petition. Indeed,
relief will not be granted to a party who seeks avoidance from the effects of the judgment when
the loss of the remedy at law was due to his own negligence; otherwise the petition for relief can
be used to revive the right to appeal which had been lost thru inexcusable
negligence.28 (Citations omitted)

As provided in Section 3, Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, a party filing a petition for relief from
judgment must strictly comply with two (2) reglementary periods: first, the petition must be filed
within sixty (60) days from knowledge of the judgment, order or other proceeding to be set
aside; and second, within a fixed period of six (6) months from entry of such judgment, order or
other proceeding. Strict compliance with these periods is required because a petition for relief
from judgment is a final act of liberality on the part of the State, which remedy cannot be allowed
to erode any further the fundamental principle that a judgment, order or proceeding must, at
some definite time, attain finality in order to put an end to
litigation.29chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The NLRC pointed out that TCIS's petition for relief was filed beyond the period provided under
Rule 38.30The earliest that it could have learned of the LA's judgment was on June 21, 2006 when
Dr. Cho received a copy thereof, and the latest was during the pre-execution conference held on
September 22, 2006, when Atty. Bayona formally entered her appearance as counsel for TCIS and
Dr. Cho. TCIS's petition for relief was filed only on February 13, 2007, well beyond the 60-day
Rule 47 On March 2, 1991, respondents obtained a loan of 45,000.00 from petitioner payable in six
months and secured by a Real Estate Mortgage6 over their 202-square meter property located in
Marulas, Valenzuela and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. V-12296.7 When the
debt became due, respondents failed to pay notwithstanding demand. Thus, on September 17,
Republic of the Philippines 1999, petitioner filed with the RTC a Complaint8 praying that respondents be ordered:
SUPREME COURT
Manila (a) To pay petitioner the principal obligation of 45,000.00, with interest thereon at the
rate of 12% per annum, from 02 March 1991 until the full obligation is paid.
SECOND DIVISION
(b) To pay petitioner actual damages as may be proven during the trial but shall in no
G.R. No. 173559 January 7, 2013 case be less than 10,000.00; 25,000.00 by way of attorneys fee, plus 2,000.00 per
hearing as appearance fee.
LETICIA DIONA, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact, MARCELINA DIONA, Petitioner,
vs. (c) To issue a decree of foreclosure for the sale at public auction of the aforementioned
ROMEO A. BALANGUE, SONNY A. BALANGUE, REYNALDO A. BALANGUE, and ESTEBAN A. parcel of land, and for the disposition of the proceeds thereof in accordance with law,
BALANGUE, JR., Respondents. upon failure of the respondents to fully pay petitioner within the period set by law the
sums set forth in this complaint.
DECISION
(d) Costs of this suit.
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
Other reliefs and remedies just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed
for.9 (Emphasis supplied)
The great of a relief neither sought by the party in whose favor it was given not supported by the
evidence presented violates the opposing partys right to due process and may be declared void
ab initio in a proper proceeding. Respondents were served with summons thru respondent Sonny A. Balangue (Sonny). On
October 15, 1999, with the assistance of Atty. Arthur C. Coroza (Atty. Coroza) of the Public
Attorneys Office, they filed a Motion to Extend Period to Answer. Despite the requested
This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 assails the November 24, 2005 Resolution2 of the Court of
extension, however, respondents failed to file any responsive pleadings. Thus, upon motion of
Appeals (CA) issued in G.R. SP No. 85541 which granted the Petition for Annulment of
the petitioner, the RTC declared them in default and allowed petitioner to present her evidence
Judgment3 filed by the respondents seeking to nullify that portion of the October 17, 2000
ex parte.10
Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 75, Valenzuela City awarding petitioner 5%
monthly interest rate for the principal amount of the loan respondent obtained from her.
Ruling of the RTC sought to be annulled.
This Petition likewise assails the CAs June 26, 2006 Resolution5 denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration. In a Decision11 dated October 17, 2000, the RTC granted petitioners Complaint. The dispositive
portion of said Decision reads:
Factual Antecedents
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner, ordering the respondents
to pay the petitioner as follows:
The facts of this case are simple and undisputed.
a) the sum of FORTY FIVE THOUSAND (45,000.00) PESOS, representing the unpaid respondents filed a Motion for Leave To Deposit/Consign Judgment Obligation 21 in the total
principal loan obligation plus interest at 5% per month [sic] reckoned from March 2, amount of 126,650.00.22
1991, until the same is fully paid;
Displeased with the RTCs May 7, 2002 Order, petitioner elevated the matter to the CA via a
b) 20,000.00 as attorneys fees plus cost of suit; Petition for Certiorari23under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. On August 5, 2003, the CA rendered a
Decision24 declaring that the RTC exceeded its jurisdiction in awarding the 5% monthly interest
c) in the event the [respondents] fail to satisfy the aforesaid obligation, an order of but at the same time pronouncing that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in subsequently
foreclosure shall be issued accordingly for the sale at public auction of the subject reducing the rate of interest to 12% per annum. In so ruling, the CA ratiocinated:
property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-12296 and the improvements
thereon for the satisfaction of the petitioners claim. Indeed, We are convinced that the Trial Court exceeded its jurisdiction when it granted 5%
monthly interest instead of the 12% per annum prayed for in the complaint. However, the
SO ORDERED.12 (Emphasis supplied) proper remedy is not to amend the judgment but to declare that portion as a nullity. Void
judgment for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right nor
Subsequently, petitioner filed a Motion for Execution,13 alleging that respondents did not the creator of any obligation (Leonor vs. CA, 256 SCRA 69). No legal rights can emanate from a
interpose a timely appeal despite receipt by their former counsel of the RTCs Decision on resolution that is null and void (Fortich vs. Corona, 312 SCRA 751).
November 13, 2000. Before it could be resolved, however, respondents filed a Motion to Set
Aside Judgment14 dated January 26, 2001, claiming that not all of them were duly served with From the foregoing, the remedy of the respondents is to have the Court declare the portion of the
summons. According to the other respondents, they had no knowledge of the case because their judgment providing for a higher interest than that prayed for as null and void for want of or in
co-respondent Sonny did not inform them about it. They prayed that the RTCs October 17, 2000 excess of jurisdiction. A void judgment never acquire[s] finality and any action to declare its
Decision be set aside and a new trial be conducted. nullity does not prescribe (Heirs of Mayor Nemencio Galvez vs. CA, 255 SCRA 672).

But on March 16, 2001, the RTC ordered15 the issuance of a Writ of Execution to implement its WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Petition having merit, is hereby GIVEN DUE
October 17, 2000 Decision. However, since the writ could not be satisfied, petitioner moved for COURSE. Resultantly, the challenged May 7, 2002 and September 5, 2000 orders of Public
the public auction of the mortgaged property,16 which the RTC granted.17 In an auction sale Respondent Court are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE for having been issued with grave
conducted on November 7, 2001, petitioner was the only bidder in the amount of 420,000.00. abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction. No costs.
Thus, a Certificate of Sale18 was issued in her favor and accordingly annotated at the back of TCT
No. V-12296. SO ORDERED.25 (Emphases in the original; italics supplied.)

Respondents then filed a Motion to Correct/Amend Judgment and To Set Aside Execution Proceedings before the Court of Appeals
Sale19 dated December 17, 2001, claiming that the parties did not agree in writing on any rate of
interest and that petitioner merely sought for a 12% per annum interest in her Complaint. Taking their cue from the Decision of the CA in the special civil action for certiorari, respondents
Surprisingly, the RTC awarded 5% monthly interest (or 60% per annum) from March 2, 1991 filed with the same court a Petition for Annulment of Judgment and Execution Sale with
until full payment. Resultantly, their indebtedness inclusive of the exorbitant interest from Damages.26 They contended that the portion of the RTC Decision granting petitioner 5% monthly
March 2, 1991 to May 22, 2001 ballooned from 124,400.00 to 652,000.00. interest rate is in gross violation of Section 3(d) of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court and of their right
to due process. According to respondents, the loan did not carry any interest as it was the verbal
In an Order20 dated May 7, 2002, the RTC granted respondents motion and accordingly modified agreement of the parties that in lieu thereof petitioners family can continue occupying
the interest rate awarded from 5% monthly to 12% per annum. Then on August 2, 2002, respondents residential building located in Marulas, Valenzuela for free until said loan is fully
paid.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE AND SERIOUS ERROR
AND MISAPPREHENSION OF LAW AND THE FACTS WHEN IT GRANTED RESPONDENTS
Initially, the CA denied due course to the Petition.27 Upon respondents motion, however, it PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT OF THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL
reinstated and granted the Petition. In setting aside portions of the RTCs October 17, 2000 TRIAL COURT OF VALENZUELA, BRANCH 75 DATED OCTOBER 17, 2000 IN CIVIL CASE
Decision, the CA ruled that aside from being unconscionably excessive, the monthly interest rate NO. 241-V-99, DESPITE THE FACT THAT SAID DECISION HAS BECOME FINAL AND
of 5% was not agreed upon by the parties and that petitioners Complaint clearly sought only the ALREADY EXECUTED CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE OF IMMUTABILITY OF
legal rate of 12% per annum. Following the mandate of Section 3(d) of Rule 9 of the Rules of JUDGMENT.30
Court, the CA concluded that the awarded rate of interest is void for being in excess of the relief
sought in the Complaint. It ruled thus: Petitioners Arguments

WHEREFORE, respondents motion for reconsideration is GRANTED and our resolution dated Petitioner claims that the CA erred in partially annulling the RTCs October 17, 2000 Decision.
October 13, 2004 is, accordingly, REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In lieu thereof, another is entered She contends that a Petition for Annulment of Judgment may be availed of only when the
ordering the ANNULMENT OF: ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no
longer available through no fault of the claimant. In the present case, however, respondents had
(a) public respondents impugned October 17, 2000 judgment, insofar as it awarded 5% all the opportunity to question the October 17, 2000 Decision of the RTC, but because of their
monthly interest in favor of petitioner; and own inaction or negligence they failed to avail of the remedies sanctioned by the rules. Instead,
they contented themselves with the filing of a Motion to Set Aside Judgment and then a Motion to
(b) all proceedings relative to the sale at public auction of the property titled in Correct/Amend Judgment and to Set Aside Execution Sale.
respondents names under Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-12296 of the Valenzuela
registry. Petitioner likewise argues that for a Rule 47 petition to prosper, the same must either be based
on extrinsic fraud or lack of jurisdiction. However, the allegations in respondents Rule 47
The judgment debt adjudicated in public respondents impugned October 17, 2000 judgment is, petition do not constitute extrinsic fraud because they simply pass the blame to the negligence of
likewise, ordered RECOMPUTED at the rate of 12% per annum from March 2, 1991. No costs. their former counsel. In addition, it is too late for respondents to pass the buck to their erstwhile
counsel considering that when they filed their Motion to Correct/Amend Judgment and To Set
Aside Execution Sale they were already assisted by their new lawyer, Atty. Reynaldo A. Ruiz, who
SO ORDERED.28 (Emphases in the original.) did not also avail of the remedies of new trial, appeal, etc. As to the ground of lack of jurisdiction,
petitioner posits that there is no reason to doubt that the RTC had jurisdiction over the subject
Petitioner sought reconsideration, which was denied by the CA in its June 26, 2006 Resolution.29 matter of the case and over the persons of the respondents.

Issues While conceding that the RTC patently made a mistake in awarding 5% monthly interest,
petitioner nonetheless invokes the doctrine of immutability of final judgment and contends that
Hence, this Petition anchored on the following grounds: the RTC Decision can no longer be corrected or modified since it had long become final and
executory. She likewise points out that respondents received a copy of said Decision on
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE AND SERIOUS ERROR OF November 13, 2000 but did nothing to correct the same. They did not even question the award of
LAW WHEN IT GRANTED RESPONDENTS PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT 5% monthly interest when they filed their Motion to Set Aside Judgment which they anchored on
AS A SUBSTITUTE OR ALTERNATIVE REMEDY OF A LOST APPEAL. the sole ground of the RTCs lack of jurisdiction over the persons of some of the respondents.

Respondents Arguments
Respondents do not contest the existence of their obligation and the principal amount thereof. effective administration of justice that once a judgment has become final, the issue or cause
They only seek quittance from the 5% monthly interest or 60% per annum imposed by the RTC. involved therein should be laid to rest."32
Respondents contend that Section (3)d of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court is clear that when the
defendant is declared in default, the court cannot grant a relief more than what is being prayed While under Section 2, Rule 4733 of the Rules of Court a Petition for Annulment of Judgment may
for in the Complaint. A judgment which transgresses said rule, according to the respondents, is be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, jurisprudence recognizes
void for having been issued without jurisdiction and for being violative of due process of law. lack of due process as additional ground to annul a judgment.34 In Arcelona v. Court of
Appeals,35 this Court declared that a final and executory judgment may still be set aside if, upon
Respondents maintain that it was through no fault of their own, but through the gross negligence mere inspection thereof, its patent nullity can be shown for having been issued without
of their former counsel, Atty. Coroza, that the remedies of new trial, appeal or petition for relief jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law.
from judgment were lost. They allege that after filing a Motion to Extend Period to Answer, Atty.
Coroza did not file any pleading resulting to their being declared in default. While the said lawyer Grant of 5% monthly interest is way beyond the 12% per annum interest sought in the
filed on their behalf a Motion to Set Aside Judgment dated January 26, 2001, he however took no Complaint and smacks of violation of due process.
steps to appeal from the Decision of the RTC, thereby allowing said judgment to lapse into
finality. Citing Legarda v. Court of Appeals,31 respondents aver that clients are not always bound It is settled that courts cannot grant a relief not prayed for in the pleadings or in excess of what is
by the actions of their counsel, as in the present case where the clients are to lose their property being sought by the party. They cannot also grant a relief without first ascertaining the evidence
due to the gross negligence of their counsel. presented in support thereof. Due process considerations require that judgments must conform
to and be supported by the pleadings and evidence presented in court. In Development Bank of
With regard to petitioners invocation of immutability of judgment, respondents argue that said the Philippines v. Teston,36 this Court expounded that:
doctrine applies only to valid and not to void judgments.
Due process considerations justify this requirement. It is improper to enter an order which
Our Ruling exceeds the scope of relief sought by the pleadings, absent notice which affords the opposing
party an opportunity to be heard with respect to the proposed relief. The fundamental purpose
The petition must fail. of the requirement that allegations of a complaint must provide the measure of recovery is to
prevent surprise to the defendant.
We agree with respondents that the award of 5% monthly interest violated their right to due
process and, hence, the same may be set aside in a Petition for Annulment of Judgment filed Notably, the Rules is even more strict in safeguarding the right to due process of a defendant who
under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court. was declared in default than of a defendant who participated in trial. For instance, amendment to
conform to the evidence presented during trial is allowed the parties under the Rules.37 But the
Annulment of judgment under Rule 47; an exception to the final judgment rule; grounds therefor. same is not feasible when the defendant is declared in default because Section 3(d), Rule 9 of the
Rules of Court comes into play and limits the relief that may be granted by the courts to what has
A Petition for Annulment of Judgment under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court is a remedy granted been prayed for in the Complaint. It provides:
only under exceptional circumstances where a party, without fault on his part, has failed to avail
of the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies. (d) Extent of relief to be awarded. A judgment rendered against a party in default shall not
Said rule explicitly provides that it is not available as a substitute for a remedy which was lost exceed the amount or be different in kind from that prayed for nor award unliquidated damages.
due to the partys own neglect in promptly availing of the same. "The underlying reason is
traceable to the notion that annulling final judgments goes against the grain of finality of The raison dtre in limiting the extent of relief that may be granted is that it cannot be presumed
judgment. Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an that the defendant would not file an Answer and allow himself to be declared in default had he
known that the plaintiff will be accorded a relief greater than or different in kind from that
sought in the Complaint.38 No doubt, the reason behind Section 3(d), Rule 9 of the Rules of Court Respondents former counsel was grossly negligent in handling the case of his clients;
is to safeguard defendants right to due process against unforeseen and arbitrarily issued respondents did not lose ordinary remedies of new trial, petition for relief, etc. through their
judgment. This, to the mind of this Court, is akin to the very essence of due process. It embodies own fault.
"the sporting idea of fair play"39 and forbids the grant of relief on matters where the defendant
was not given the opportunity to be heard thereon. Ordinarily, the mistake, negligence or lack of competence of counsel binds the
client.1wphi1 This is based on the rule that any act performed by a counsel within the scope of
In the case at bench, the award of 5% monthly interest rate is not supported both by the his general or implied authority is regarded as an act of his client. A recognized exception to the
allegations in the pleadings and the evidence on record. The Real Estate Mortgage40 executed by rule is when the lawyers were grossly negligent in their duty to maintain their clients cause and
the parties does not include any provision on interest. When petitioner filed her Complaint such amounted to a deprivation of their clients property without due process of law. 46 In which
before the RTC, she alleged that respondents borrowed from her "the sum of FORTY-FIVE case, the courts must step in and accord relief to a client who suffered thereby. 47
THOUSAND PESOS (45,000.00), with interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum"41 and
sought payment thereof. She did not allege or pray for the disputed 5% monthly interest. Neither The manifest indifference of respondents former counsel in handling the cause of his client was
did she present evidence nor testified thereon. Clearly, the RTCs award of 5% monthly interest already present even from the beginning. It should be recalled that after filing in behalf of his
or 60% per annum lacks basis and disregards due process. It violated the due process clients a Motion to Extend Period to Answer, said counsel allowed the requested extension to
requirement because respondents were not informed of the possibility that the RTC may award pass without filing an Answer, which resulted to respondents being declared in default. His
5% monthly interest. They were deprived of reasonable opportunity to refute and present negligence was aggravated by the fact that he did not question the awarded 5% monthly interest
controverting evidence as they were made to believe that the complainant petitioner was despite receipt of the RTC Decision on November 13, 2000.48 A simple reading of the dispositive
seeking for what she merely stated in her Complaint. portion of the RTC Decision readily reveals that it awarded exorbitant and unconscionable rate
of interest. Its difference from what is being prayed for by the petitioner in her Complaint is so
Neither can the grant of the 5% monthly interest be considered subsumed by petitioners general blatant and very patent. It also defies elementary jurisprudence on legal rate of interests. Had the
prayer for "other reliefs and remedies just and equitable under the premises x x x." 42 To repeat, counsel carefully read the judgment it would have caught his attention and compelled him to
the courts grant of relief is limited only to what has been prayed for in the Complaint or related take the necessary steps to protect the interest of his client. But he did not. Instead, he filed in
thereto, supported by evidence, and covered by the partys cause of action.43 Besides, even behalf of his clients a Motion to Set Aside Judgment49 dated January 26, 2001 based on the sole
assuming that the awarded 5% monthly or 60% per annum interest was properly alleged and ground of lack of jurisdiction, oblivious to the fact that the erroneous award of 5% monthly
proven during trial, the same remains unconscionably excessive and ought to be equitably interest would result to his clients deprivation of property without due process of law. Worse,
reduced in accordance with applicable jurisprudence. In Bulos, Jr. v. Yasuma,44 this Court held: he even allowed the RTC Decision to become final by not perfecting an appeal. Neither did he file
a petition for relief therefrom. It was only a year later that the patently erroneous award of 5%
In the case of Ruiz v. Court of Appeals, citing the cases of Medel v. Court of Appeals, Garcia v. monthly interest was brought to the attention of the RTC when respondents, thru their new
Court of Appeals, Spouses Bautista v. Pilar Development Corporation and the recent case of counsel, filed a Motion to Correct/Amend Judgment and To Set Aside Execution Sale. Even the
Spouses Solangon v. Salazar, this Court considered the 3% interest per month or 36% interest RTC candidly admitted that it "made a glaring mistake in directing the defendants to pay interest
per annum as excessive and unconscionable. Thereby, the Court, in the said case, equitably on the principal loan at 5% per month which is very different from what was prayed for by the
reduced the rate of interest to 1% interest per month or 12% interest per annum. (Citations plaintiff."50
omitted)
"A lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his client, warmth and zeal in the maintenance
It is understandable for the respondents not to contest the default order for, as alleged in their and defense of his rights and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, to the end that
Comment, "it is not their intention to impugn or run away from their just and valid nothing can be taken or withheld from his client except in accordance with the law." 51 Judging
obligation."45 Nonetheless, their waiver to present evidence should never be construed as waiver from how respondents former counsel handled the cause of his clients, there is no doubt that he
to contest patently erroneous award which already transgresses their right to due process, as was grossly negligent in protecting their rights, to the extent that they were deprived of their
well as applicable jurisprudence. property without due process of law.
In fine, respondents did not lose the remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief and other
remedies through their own fault. It can only be attributed to the gross negligence of their
erstwhile counsel which prevented them from pursuing such remedies. We cannot also blame
respondents for relying too much on their former counsel. Clients have reasonable expectations
that their lawyer would amply protect their interest during the trial of the case. 52 Here,

"respondents are plain and ordinary people x x x who are totally ignorant of the intricacies and
technicalities of law and legal procedures. Being so, they completely relied upon and trusted
their former counsel to appropriately act as their interest may lawfully warrant and require." 53

As a final word, it is worth noting that respondents principal obligation was only 45,000.00.
Due to their former counsels gross negligence in handling their cause, coupled with the RTCs
erroneous, baseless, and illegal award of 5% monthly interest, they now stand to lose their
property and still owe petitioner a large amount of money. As aptly observed by the CA:

x x x If the impugned judgment is not, therefore, rightfully nullified, petitioners will not only end
up losing their property but will additionally owe private respondent the sum of 232,000.00
plus the legal interest said balance had, in the meantime, earned. As a court of justice and equity,
we cannot, in good conscience, allow this unconscionable situation to prevail.54

Indeed, this Court is appalled by petitioners invocation of the doctrine of immutability of


judgment. Petitioner does not contest as she even admits that the RTC made a glaring mistake in
awarding 5% monthly interest.55 Amazingly, she wants to benefit from such erroneous award.
This Court cannot allow this injustice to happen.

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed November 24, 2005 and
June 26, 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 85541 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION information.11chanrobleslaw

G.R. No. 187061, October 08, 2014 Ricardo claimed that it was almost 12 years from the date of his Regional Trial Court petition
since Celerina left. He believed that she had passed away.12chanrobleslaw
CELERINA J. SANTOS, Petitioner, v. RICARDO T. SANTOS, Respondent.
Celerina claimed that she learned about Ricardo's petition only sometime in October 2008 when
she could no longer avail the remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief, or other
DECISION appropriate remedies.13chanrobleslaw

LEONEN, J.: On November 17, 2008, Celerina filed a petition for annulment of judgment 14 before the Court of
Appeals on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. She argued that she was
The proper remedy for a judicial declaration of presumptive death obtained by extrinsic fraud is deprived her day in court when Ricardo, despite his knowledge of her true residence,
an action to annul the judgment. An affidavit of reappearance is not the proper remedy when the misrepresented to the court that she was a resident of Tarlac City.15 According to Celerina, her
person declared presumptively dead has never been absent. true residence was in Neptune Extension, Congressional Avenue, Quezon City. 16 This residence
had been her and Ricardo's conjugal dwelling since 1989 until Ricardo left in May 2008. 17 As a
This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Celerina J. Santos, assailing the Court of result of Ricardo's misrepresentation, she was deprived of any notice of and opportunity to
Appeals' resolutions dated November 28, 2008 and March 5, 2009. The Court of Appeals oppose the petition declaring her presumptively dead.18chanrobleslaw
dismissed the petition for the annulment of the trial court's judgment declaring her
presumptively dead. Celerina claimed that she never resided in Tarlac. She also never left and worked as a domestic
helper abroad.20 Neither did she go to an employment agency in February 1995.21 She also
On July 27, 2007, the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City declared petitioner Celerina J. Santos claimed that it was not true that she had been absent for 12 years. Ricardo was aware that she
(Celerina) presumptively dead after her husband, respondent Ricardo T. Santos (Ricardo), had never left their conjugal dwelling in Quezon City.22 It was he who left the conjugal dwelling in
filed a petition for declaration of absence or presumptive death for the purpose of remarriage May 2008 to cohabit with another woman.23 Celerina referred to a joint affidavit executed by
on June 15, 2007.1 Ricardo remarried on September 17, 2008.2chanrobleslaw their children to support her contention that Ricardo made false allegations in his
petition.24chanrobleslaw
In his petition for declaration of absence or presumptive death, Ricardo alleged that he and
Celerina rented an apartment somewhere in San Juan, Metro Manila; after they had gotten Celerina also argued that the court did not acquire jurisdiction over Ricardo's petition because it
married on June 18, 1980.3 After a year, they moved to Tarlac City. They were engaged in the buy had never been published in a newspaper.25 She added that the Office of the Solicitor General and
and sell business.4chanrobleslaw the Provincial Prosecutor's Office were not furnished copies of Ricardo's
petition.26chanrobleslaw
Ricardo claimed that their business did not prosper.5 As a result, Celerina convinced him to allow
her to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong.6 Ricardo initially refused but because of The Court of Appeals issued the resolution dated November 28, 2008, dismissing Celerina's
Celerina's insistence, he allowed her to work abroad.7 She allegedly applied in an employment petition for annulment of judgment for being a wrong mode of remedy. 27 According to the Court
agency in Ermita, Manila, in February 1995. She left Tarlac two months after and was never of Appeals, the proper remedy was to file a sworn statement before the civil registry, declaring
heard from again.8chanrobleslaw her reappearance in accordance with Article 42 of the Family Code.28chanrobleslaw

Ricardo further alleged that he exerted efforts to locate Celerina.9 He went to Celerina's parents Celerina filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court of Appeals' resolution dated November
in Cubao, Quezon City, but they, too, did not know their daughter's whereabouts. 10 He also 28, 2008.29 The Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration in the resolution dated
inquired about her from other relatives and friends, but no one gave him any March 5, 2009.30chanrobleslaw
presenting all of his case, such that there is no fair submission of the controversy. 39 (Emphasis
Hence, this petition was filed. supplied)

The issue for resolution is whether the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing Celerina's petition Celerina alleged in her petition for annulment of judgment that there was fraud when Ricardo
for annulment of judgment for being a wrong remedy for a fraudulently obtained judgment deliberately made false allegations in the court with respect to her residence. 40 Ricardo also
declaring presumptive death. falsely claimed that she was absent for 12 years. There was also no publication of the notice of
hearing of Ricardo's petition in a newspaper of general circulation.41 Celerina claimed that
Celerina argued that filing an affidavit of reappearance under Article 42 of the Family Code is because of these, she was deprived of notice and opportunity to oppose Ricardo's petition to
appropriate only when the spouse is actually absent and the spouse seeking the declaration of declare her presumptively dead.42chanrobleslaw
presumptive death actually has a well-founded belief of the spouse's death.31 She added that it
would be inappropriate to file an affidavit of reappearance if she did not disappear in the first Celerina alleged that all the facts supporting Ricardo's petition for declaration of presumptive
place.32 She insisted that an action for annulment of judgment is proper when the declaration of death were false.43 Celerina further claimed that the court did not acquire jurisdiction because
presumptive death is obtained fraudulently.33chanrobleslaw the Office of the Solicitor General and the Provincial Prosecutor's Office were not given copies of
Ricardo's petition.44chanrobleslaw
Celerina further argued that filing an affidavit of reappearance under Article 42 of the Family
Code would not be a sufficient remedy because it would not nullify the legal effects of the These are allegations of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. Celerina alleged in her petition
judgment declaring her presumptive death.34chanrobleslaw with the Court of Appeals sufficient ground/s for annulment of judgment.

In Ricardo's comment,35 he argued that a petition for annulment of judgment is not the proper Celerina filed her petition for annulment of judgment45 on November 17, 2008. This was less
remedy because it cannot be availed when there are other remedies available. Celerina could than two years from the July 27, 2007 decision declaring her presumptively dead and about a
always file an affidavit of reappearance to terminate the subsequent marriage. Ricardo iterated month from her discovery of the decision in October 2008. The petition was, therefore, filed
the Court of Appeals' ruling that the remedy afforded to Celerina under Article 42 of the Family within the four-year period allowed by law in case of extrinsic fraud, and before the action is
Code is the appropriate remedy. barred by laches, which is the period allowed in case of lack of jurisdiction. 46chanrobleslaw

The petition is meritorious. There was also no other sufficient remedy available to Celerina at the time of her discovery of the
fraud perpetrated on her.
Annulment of judgment is the remedy when the Regional Trial Court's judgment, order, or
resolution has become final, and the "remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief (or other The choice of remedy is important because remedies carry with them certain admissions,
appropriate remedies) are no longer available through no fault of the presumptions, and conditions.
petitioner."36chanrobleslaw
The Family Code provides that it is the proof of absence of a spouse for four consecutive years,
The grounds for annulment of judgment are extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. 37 This court coupled with a well-founded belief by the present spouse that the absent spouse is already dead,
defined extrinsic fraud in Stilianopulos v. City of Legaspi:38chanrobleslaw that constitutes a justification for a second marriage during the subsistence of another
marriage.47chanrobleslaw
For fraud to become a basis for annulment of judgment, it has to be extrinsic or actual. It is
intrinsic when the fraudulent acts pertain to an issue involved in the original action or where the The Family Code also provides that the second marriage is in danger of being terminated by the
acts constituting the fraud were or could have been litigated, It is extrinsic or collateral when a presumptively dead spouse when he or she reappears. Thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
litigant commits acts outside of the trial which prevents a parly from having a real contest, or from
Article 42. The subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall be automatically This presumption should prevail over the continuance of the marital relations with the first
terminated by the recording of the affidavit of reappearance of the absent spouse, unless there is spouse.48 The second marriage, as with all marriages, is presumed valid.49 The burden of proof to
a judgment annulling the previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio. show that the first marriage was not properly dissolved rests on the person assailing the validity
of the second marriage.50chanrobleslaw
A sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance shall be recorded in the civil
registry of the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage at the instance of any This court recognized the conditional nature of reappearance as a cause for terminating the
interested person, with due notice to the spouses of the subsequent marriage and without subsequent marriage in Social Security System v. Vda. de Bailon.51 This court noted52 that mere
prejudice to the fact of reappearance being judicially determined in case such fact is disputed. reappearance will not terminate the subsequent marriage even if the parties to the subsequent
(Emphasis supplied) marriage were notified if there was "no step . . . taken to terminate the subsequent marriage,
either by [filing an] affidavit [of reappearance] or by court action[.]" 53 "Since the second
In other words, the Family Code provides the presumptively dead spouse with the remedy of marriage has been contracted because of a presumption that the former spouse is dead, such
terminating the subsequent marriage by mere reappearance. presumption continues inspite of the spouse's physical reappearance, and by fiction of law, he or
she must still be regarded as legally an absentee until the subsequent marriage is terminated as
The filing of an affidavit of reappearance is an admission on the part of the first spouse that his or provided by law."54chanrobleslaw
her marriage to the present spouse was terminated when he or she was declared absent or
presumptively dead. The choice of the proper remedy is also important for purposes of determining the status of the
second marriage and the liabilities of the spouse who, in bad faith, claimed that the other spouse
Moreover, a close reading of the entire Article 42 reveals that the termination of the subsequent was absent.
marriage by reappearance is subject to several conditions: (1) the non-existence of a judgment
annulling the previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio; (2) recording in the civil registry of A second marriage is bigamous while the first subsists. However, a bigamous subsequent
the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage of the sworn statement of fact and marriage may be considered valid when the following are present:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
circumstances of reappearance; (3) due notice to the spouses of the subsequent marriage of the
fact of reappearance; and (4) the fact of reappearance must either be undisputed or judicially 1) The prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years;
determined. 2) The spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead;
3) There must be a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of the
The existence of these conditions means that reappearance does not always immediately cause absent spouse; and
the subsequent marriage's termination. Reappearance of the absent or presumptively dead 4) There is a court declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse.55
spouse will cause the termination of the subsequent marriage only when all the conditions
enumerated in the Family Code are present. A subsequent marriage contracted in bad faith, even if it was contracted after a court declaration
of presumptive death, lacks the requirement of a well-founded belief56 that the spouse is already
Hence, the subsequent marriage may still subsist despite the absent or presumptively dead dead. The first marriage will not be considered as. validly terminated. Marriages contracted prior
spouse's reappearance (1) if the first marriage has already been annulled or has been declared a to the valid termination of a subsisting marriage are generally considered bigamous and
nullity; (2) if the sworn statement of the reappearance is not recorded in the civil registry of the void.57 Only a subsequent marriage contracted in good faith is protected by law.
subsequent spouses' residence; (3) if there is no notice to the subsequent spouses; or (4) if the
fact of reappearance is disputed in the proper courts of law, and no judgment is yet rendered Therefore, the party who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith is also not immune
confirming, such fact of reappearance. from an action to declare his subsequent marriage void for being bigamous. The prohibition
against marriage during the subsistence of another marriage still applies. 58chanrobleslaw
When subsequent marriages are contracted after a judicial declaration of presumptive death, a
presumption arises that the first spouse is already dead and that the second marriage is legal. If, as Celerina contends, Ricardo was in bad faith when he filed his petition to declare her
presumptively dead and when he contracted the subsequent marriage, such marriage would be WHEREFORE, the case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for determination of the existence
considered void for being bigamous under Article 35(4) of the Family Code. This is because the of extrinsic fraud, grounds for nullity/annulment of the first marriage, and the merits of the
circumstances lack the element of "well-founded belief under Article 41 of the Family Code, petition.
which is essential for the exception to the rule against bigamous marriages to
apply.59chanrobleslaw SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary

The provision on reappearance in the Family Code as a remedy to effect the termination of the
subsequent marriage does not preclude the spouse who was declared presumptively dead from
availing other remedies existing in law. This court had, in fact, recognized that a subsequent
marriage may also be terminated by filing "an action in court to prove the reappearance of the
absentee and obtain a declaration of dissolution or termination of the subsequent
marriage."60chanrobleslaw

Celerina does not admit to have been absent. She also seeks not merely the termination of the
subsequent marriage but also the nullification of its effects. She contends that reappearance is
not a sufficient remedy because it will only terminate the subsequent marriage but not nullify the
effects of the declaration of her presumptive death and the subsequent marriage.

Celerina is correct. Since an undisturbed subsequent marriage under Article 42 of the Family
Code is valid until terminated, the "children of such marriage shall be considered legitimate, and
the property relations of the spouse[s] in such marriage will be the same as in valid
marriages."61 If it is terminated by mere reappearance, the children of the subsequent marriage
conceived before the termination shall still be considered legitimate. 62 Moreover, a judgment
declaring presumptive death is a defense against prosecution for bigamy.63chanrobleslaw

It is true that in most cases, an action to declare the nullity of the subsequent marriage may
nullify the effects of the subsequent marriage, specifically, in relation to the status of children
and the prospect of prosecuting a respondent for bigamy.

However, "a Petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages may be filed solely by
the husband or wife."64 This means that even if Celerina is a real party in interest who stands to
be benefited or injured by the outcome of an action to nullify the second marriage, 65 this remedy
is not available to her.

Therefore, for the purpose of not only terminating the subsequent marriage but also of nullifying
the effects of the declaration of presumptive death and the subsequent marriage, mere filing of
an affidavit of reappearance would not suffice. Celerina's choice to file an action for annulment of
judgment will, therefore, lie.
SECOND DIVISION attachment. However, this writ was eventually nullified when Lasala questioned it with the CA in
CA-G.R. SP No. 41124.
G.R. No. 171582, August 19, 2015
Meanwhile, on May 2, 1997, the trial court dismissed the NFA's complaint for failure of the
ALBERTO T. LASALA, PREVIOUSLY DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE STYLE PSF SECURITY lawyerdeputized by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), Atty. Rogelio B.
AGENCY, Petitioner, v. THE NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY, Respondent. Mendoza (Atty. Mendoza), to present the NFA's evidence-in-chief, due to his repeated hearing
absences.
DECISION The NFA replaced Atty. Mendoza and administratively charged him with dishonesty, grave
misconduct, conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interests of the service, and gross neglect of
BRION, J.: duty.9 It subsequently employed Atty. Ernesto D. Cahucom (Atty. Cahucom) as its new counsel.

We resolve in this petition for review on certiorari1 the challenge to the June 14, 2005 Although the NFA's complaint was dismissed, Lasala's counterclaim remained, and he presented
Decision2 and the February 15, 2006 Resolution3 (CA rulings) of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- evidence to support it. Interestingly, Atty. Cahucom, the NFA's new counsel, did not submit
G.R. SP No. 73235. These assailed CA rulings annulled the September 2, 2002 decision 4 of the any evidence to controvert Lasala's counterclaim evidence. When asked during trial, Atty.
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (RTC QC), Branch 220, which granted petitioner Alberto T. Cahucom simply waived his right to cross-examine Lasala and did not exert any effort to counter
Lasala's (Lasala) counterclaim against respondent National Food Authority (NFA). his testimony.

Factual Antecedents Thus, in its September 2, 2002 decision, the trial court granted Lasala's counterclaim in the total
amount of P52,788,970.5010 broken down as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Lasala, through his company PSF Security Agency, used to provide security guard services to the
NFA. Sometime in 1994, Lasala's employees who were deployed to the NFA filed with the Nature of Award Amount
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) a complaint for underpayment of wages and
nonpayment of other monetary benefits. The NLRC ruled for the employees and held Lasala and Actual and compensatory P35,165,370.50
the NFA solidarily liable for the employees' adjudged monetary award.5 Consequently, the sheriff damages
garnished the NFA's P383,572.90 worth of bank deposits with the Development Bank of the Loss of business credit P10,000,000.00
Philippines.
Moral damages P5,000,000.00
Believing that it had no liability to Lasala's employees, the NFA filed with the RTC, Branch 220, Exemplary damages P500,000.00
Quezon City, a complaint for sum of money with damages and an application for the issuance of a Litigation expenses P500,000.00
writ of preliminary attachment against Lasala.6
Lasala's claim for wage P1,623,600.00plus 12% per annum from the year until full payment
In response, Lasala filed an answer with counterclaim7and opposition to the prayer for adjustment of this interest 2000 amount
preliminary attachment. In his counterclaim, Lasala prayed for the payment of moral damages Total P52,788,970.50
of P1,000,000.00; exemplary damages of P500,000.00; attorney's fees of P300,000.00,
compensatory damages of P250,000.00; and unpaid wage differential of P1,500,000.00,
for a total amount of P3,550,000.00.8 Notably, this amount is substantially higher than the amount of P3,550,000.00 Lasala
originally prayed for.
Initially, the trial court granted the NFA's prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
Despite the huge award to Lasala, the NFA failed to appeal its case to the CA. Atty. Cahucom The Petition
did not inform the NFA's management about the trial court's adverse ruling. When asked to
explain, he reasoned out that he only discovered the decision after the lapse of the period for Lasala submits that the NFA's use of a petition for relief at the trial court level should have
appeal.11 barred the NFA from filing a subsequent petition for annulment with the CA. At this point, res
judicata had already set in, thus prohibiting the CA from recognizing the NFA's petition for
Having lost its chance to appeal, the NFA filed with the trial court a petition for relief from annulment and its subsequent amended petition.15
judgment (petition for relief) grounded on excusable negligence.12 In its petition, the NFA through
Atty. Cahucom, attributed its failure to appeal to one of the NFA's employees. Allegedly, this Lasala also asserts that the NFA could no longer invoke extrinsic fraud as its basis for annulment,
employee received the copy of the trial court's September 2, 2002 decision but did not inform since the NFA failed to raise this ground in its petition for relief. The NFA's omission amounted to
Atty. Cahucom about it. It was only after the lapse of the period for the filing of a motion for a waiver of the NFA's right to subsequently raise this ground in its petition for annulment. 16 And
reconsideration and an appeal that the NFA learned about the adverse ruling. even if extrinsic' fraud had been properly cognizable as a ground, the NFA still failed to prove it. 17

The trial court did not accept the NFA's reasoning; thus, it denied the petition for relief for Lasala further argues that the NFA may not invoke the trial court's lack of jurisdiction over his
insufficiency in substance.13 counterclaim for nonpayment of docket fees. His counterclaim is compulsory and is not
permissive; no docket fee is required to be paid.18
In the meantime, then NFA Administrator Arthur C. Yap had assumed his position. One of his first
instructions was the legal audit of all NFA cases. In doing this, the NFA management found out Lastly, Lasala posits that grave abuse of discretion is not a proper basis for granting a petition for
that the two lawyers (Attys. Mendoza and Cahucom) assigned to the case against Lasala, grossly annulment of judgment. The only grounds allowed in the Rules of Court are extrinsic fraud and
mishandled it; hence, causing a huge and unjust liability to the NFA in the amount of lack of jurisdiction. Since these two grounds were not available to the NFA, then the CA's
P52,788,970.50. annulment of the trial court's September 2, 2002 decision had no basis.

Thus, on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud, the NFA, now through the OGCC, The Case for the NFA
filed with the CA a petition and an amended petition14for annulment of judgment (petition for
annulment) of the trial court's September 2, 2002 decision which had granted a substantially The NFA argues that there was no res judicata between its petition for relief and petition for
higher award than what Lasala originally prayed for in his counterclaim. annulment of judgment as these two reliefs were based on two different grounds. The petition
for relief was grounded on excusable negligence while the petition for annulment was based on
The CA's Ruling extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.19

The CA granted the petition and annulled the trial court's September 2, 2002 decision. Extrinsic fraud was employed against the NFA when its handling lawyers allowed its complaint
against Lasala to be dismissed, and when they failed to question the trial court's adverse ruling
It ruled that though Lasala's counterclaim is compulsory in nature (thus, it did not require the through a motion for reconsideration or an appeal without any valid justification. 20
payment of docket fees), the trial court's decision must still be annulled for having been
rendered without any jurisdiction. The trial court also lacked jurisdiction over Lasala's counterclaim because he failed to file the
required docket fees.21
The trial court lacked jurisdiction because no concrete and convincing evidence supported its
decision to grant Lasala's counterclaim. The CA noted that the trial court awarded Lasala an Lastly, the NFA asserts that the CA did not err in annulling the trial court's September 2, 2002
exorbitant amount of P52,788,970.50, despite the absence of any supporting evidence other than decision, which granted Lasala's counterclaim, since the trial court ruling had no basis except
his self-serving testimony. Notably, Lasala did not present any corroborating documentary Lasala's self-serving testimony.22chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
evidence to support his counterclaim.
The Court's Ruling jurisdiction.Moreover, extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could
have been availed of, in a motion for new trial or petition for relief.27
We resolve to DENY the petition.
Lastly, if grounded on extrinsic fraud, the petition must be filed within four years from its
The nature of a petition for discovery; and if based on lack of jurisdiction, before it is barred by laches or estoppel.28
annulment of judgment
Guided by these requisites, we now discuss each related issue that the parties raised.
As a general rule, final judgments may no longer be modified as, after finality, all the issues
between the parties are deemed resolved and laid to rest. This rule embodies the principle that The prior filing of a petition for relief
at some point, litigation must end for an effective and efficient administration of justice. Hence, does not per se bar the filing of a petition
once a judgment becomes final, the winning party should not, through subterfuge, be deprived of for annulment of judgment.
the fruits of the verdict.23
Annulment of judgment may only be resorted to if the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal,
In Antonino v. Register of Deeds of Makati,24 the Court explained the nature of a petition for petition for relief or other appropriate remedies, are no longer available without the
annulment of judgment and reiterated that it is only available under certain exceptional petitioner's fault.
circumstances, since it runs counter to the general rule of immutability of final
judgments, viz:cralawlawlibrary Thus, the petitioner must be able to provide a plausible explanation for not resorting first to the
more common remedies enumerated under the Rules. As annulment is an equitable remedy, it
Annulment of judgment is a recourse equitable in character, allowed only in exceptional cannot be used to compensate litigants who lost their case because of their negligence or because
cases as where there is no available or other adequate remedy. Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of Civil they slept on their rights. This safeguard has been put in place to address the concern that
Procedure, as amended, governs actions for annulment of judgments or final orders and defeated litigants would use and abuse Rule 47 to avoid or delay an already final and executory
resolutions, and Section 2 thereof explicitly provides only two grounds for annulment of judgment.29
judgment, i.e., extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. The underlying reason is traceable to
the notion that annulling final judgments goes against the grain of finality of judgment. Litigation In the present case, the NFA actually availed of the remedy of petition for relief at the trial court
must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective level. Through Atty. Cahucom, the NFA, invoking the ground of excusable negligence, prayed that
administration of justice that once a judgment has become final, the issue or cause involved the execution of the trial court's September 2, 2002 decision be restrained, and that its right to
therein should be laid to rest. The basic rule of finality of judgment is grounded on the appeal be recognized.30However, the trial court also dismissed this petition for being insufficient
fundamental principle of public policy and sound practice that at the risk of occasional in substance.
error, the judgment of courts and the award of quasi-judicial agencies must become final
at some definite date fixed by law.25(emphasis supplied)chanrobleslaw Lasala now argues that res judicata should have prevented the CA from recognizing the NFA's
petition for annulment, as the dismissal of the NFA's petition for relief serves as a prior judgment
Since a petition for annulment of judgment is an equitable and exceptional relief, the Rules of that bars the filing of a subsequent petition for annulment of judgment.
Court under Rule 47 put in place stringent requirements that must be complied with before this
remedy may prosper. Res judicata refers to the rule that a final judgment or decree on the merits by a court of
competent jurisdiction is conclusive of the rights of the parties or their privies in all later suits on
First, it is only available when the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief, or all points and matters determined in the former suit.
other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner.26
Its elements are the following: (1) the former judgment or order must be final; (2) the judgment
Second, an annulment may only be based on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of or order must be on the merits; (3) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction
over the subject matter and the parties; and (4) there must be, between the first and the second the RTC ruling was not supported by any concrete and convincing evidence. According to the CA,
action, identity of parties, of subject matter, and cause of action.31 There is res judicata when the RTC effectively acted without jurisdiction. CA Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang fully
all these requisites concur. communicated the sense of the majority's ruling in her concurring opinion,34 when she held that
the trial court committed an error of judgment and acted beyond its lawful jurisdiction when it
Clearly, the fourth requisite is absent and cannot apply to the present case. There is identity relied solely on Lasala's self-serving testimony. Otherwise stated, the trial court committed grave
of parties in the petitions for relief and annulment of judgment, but no identity of subject matter abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it rendered a decision that was not
and cause of action. supported by factual and evidentiary basis.35

To determine the existence of identity of cause of action between the two cases, the Court has We rule that the CA committed an error; it violated the restrictive application of a petition for
often applied the identity of evidence test -i.e., whether the evidence to support and establish the annulment; only extrinsic fraud and/or lack of jurisdiction may annul a final judgment.
present and former causes of action are the same.
By seeking to include acts committed with grave abuse of discretion, the CA's ruling enlarged the
The petition for relief prayed that the execution of the trial court's adverse ruling be restrained, concept of lack of jurisdiction as a ground for annulment.36 Moreover, grave abuse of discretion
and for the recognition of the NFA's right to appeal on the ground of excusable negligence. 32 On is properly addressed not through a Rule 47 relief but through a Rule 65 petition
the other hand, the petition for annulment and its amendment sought the setting aside of the for certiorari. Since the NFA availed of a petition for annulment of judgment, then the CA's
trial court's decision because of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. 33 disposition must also be confined to findings on the existence of either extrinsic fraud or the trial
court's lack of jurisdiction over the parties or the subject matter as explained below.
Clearly, the pieces of evidence that NFA presented in its petition for relief are different from the
evidence it presented in the current case - the former, grounded on excusable negligence, sought In a petition for annulment based on lack of jurisdiction, the petitioner cannot rely on
relief from judgment because one of its employees failed to give a copy of the trial court decision jurisdictional defect due to grave abuse of discretion, but on absolute lack of jurisdiction. As
to Atty. Cahucom on time to file an appeal. we have already held, the concept of lack of jurisdiction as a ground to annul a judgment
does not embrace grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
The present case, on the other hand, seeks to annul the trial court's judgment based on the jurisdiction.37 In Republic v. G Holdings,38 we explained:cralawlawlibrary
fraudulent acts of its former counsels (including Atty. Cahucom's), and because the lower court
lacked jurisdiction over Lasala's counterclaim. Jurisdiction is not the same as the exercise of jurisdiction. As distinguished from the exercise of
jurisdiction, jurisdiction is the authority to decide a cause, and not the decision rendered
The distinctions between the grounds invoked and reliefs prayed for between the two therein. Where there is jurisdiction over the person and the subject matter, the decision on
petitions highlight the need for different pieces of evidence to prove them. Thus, their all other questions arising in the case is but an exercise of the jurisdiction. And the errors
causes of action are not identical, and res judicata does not bar the filing of the present which the court may commit in the exercise of jurisdiction are merely errors of judgment
petition for annulment. which are the proper subject of an appeal.39 (emphasis supplied)chanrobleslaw

Only two grounds may be recognized In other words, the lack of jurisdiction envisioned under Rule 47 is the total absence of
in a petition for annulment: extrinsic fraud jurisdiction over the person of a party or over the subject matter. When the court has validly
and lack of jurisdiction. acquired its jurisdiction, annulment through lack of jurisdiction is not available when the court's
subsequent grave abuse of discretion operated to oust it of its jurisdiction.
Because it is an exceptional relief, the Rules provide that only two grounds may be availed of in a
petition for annulment. These are extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. Despite this erroneous ruling of the CA, we hold that annulment of the trial court's September 2,
2002 decision is still proper as the NFA validly raised and substantiated the allowed grounds of
In the present case, the CA annulled the trial court's decision granting Lasala's counterclaim as extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.
We find the exceptional circumstances in Bayog to be present in the case now before us.
a. Extrinsic fraud
The party in the present case, the NFA, is a government agency that could rightly rely solely on
Extrinsic fraud in a petition for annulment refers to "any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in its legal officers to vigilantly protect its interests. The NFA's lawyers were not only its counsel,
litigation committed outside of the trial of the case, where the defeated party is prevented from fully they were its employees tasked to advance the agency's legal interests.
exhibiting his side by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, such as by keeping him
away from court, by giving him a false promise of a compromise, or where an attorney Further, the NFA's lawyers acted negligently several times in handling the case that it appears
fraudulently or without authority connives at his defeat."40 deliberate on their part.

Because extrinsic fraud must emanate from the opposing party, extrinsic fraud concerning a First, Atty. Mendoza caused the dismissal of the NFA's complaint against Lasala by negligently
party's lawyer often involves the latter's collusion with the prevailing party, such that his lawyer and repeatedly failing to attend the hearing for the presentation of the NFA's evidence-in-chief.
connives at his defeat or corruptly sells out his client's interest.41 Consequently, the NFA lost its chance to recover from Lasala the employee benefits that it
allegedly shouldered as indirect employer.
In this light, we have ruled in several cases42 that a lawyer's mistake or gross negligence does not
amount to the extrinsic fraud that would grant a petition for annulment of judgment. Atty. Mendoza never bothered to provide any valid excuse for this crucial omission on his part.
Parenthetically, this was not the first time Atty. Mendoza prejudiced the NFA; he did the same
We so ruled not only because extrinsic fraud has to involve the opposing party, but also because when he failed to file a motion for reconsideration and an appeal in a prior 1993 case where
the negligence of counsel, as a rule, binds his client.43 Lasala secured a judgment of P34,500,229.67 against the NFA.46

We have recognized, however, that there had been instances where the lawyer's negligence had For these failures, Atty. Mendoza merely explained that the NFA's copy of the adverse decision
been so gross that it amounted to a collusion with the other party, and thus, qualified as extrinsic was lost and was only found after the lapse of the period for appeal.47 Under these
fraud. circumstances, the NFA was forced to file an administrative complaint against Atty. Mendoza for
his string of negligent acts.
In Bayog v. Natino,44 for instance, we held that the unconscionable failure of a lawyer to inform his
client of his receipt of the trial court's order and the motion for execution, and to take the Atty. Cahucom, Atty. Mendoza's successor in handling the case, notably did not cross-examine
appropriate action against either or both to protect his client's rights amounted to connivance Lasala's witnesses, and did not present controverting evidence to disprove and counter Lasala's
with the prevailing party, which constituted extrinsic fraud.45 counterclaim. Atty. Cahucom further prejudiced the NFA when he likewise failed to file a motion
for reconsideration or an appeal from the trial court's September 2, 2002 decision, where Lasala
Two considerations differentiate the lawyer's negligence in Bayog from the general rule was awarded the huge amount of P52,788,970.50, without any convincing evidence to support it.
enunciated in Tan. While both cases involved the lawyer's negligence to inform the client of a
court order, the negligence in Bayog was unconscionable because the (1) the client's pauper When asked to justify his failure, Atty. Cahucom, like Atty. Mendoza, merely mentioned that the
litigant status indicated that he relied solely on his counsel for the protection and defense of his NFA's copy of the decision was lost and that he only discovered it when the period for appeal had
rights; and (2) the lawyer's repeated acts of negligence in handling the case showed that his already lapsed.48
inaction was deliberate.
The trial court's adverse decision, of course, could have been avoided or the award minimized, if
In contrast, the Court ruled in Tan that the petitioner's failure to file a notice of appeal was partly Atty. Cahucom did not waive the NFA's right to present its controverting evidence against
his fault and not just his lawyer's. Too, the failure to file the notice of appeal was the only act of Lasala's counterclaim evidence. Strangely, when asked during hearing, Atty. Cahucom refused to
negligence presented as extrinsic fraud. refute Lasala's testimony and instead simply moved for the filing of a
memorandum.49chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
judgment.
The actions of these lawyers, that at the very least could be equated with unreasonable
disregard for the case they were handling and with obvious indifference towards the b. Lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter
NFA's plight, lead us to the conclusion that Attys. Mendoza's and Cahucom's actions
amounted to a concerted action with Lasala when the latter secured the trial court's huge Moreover, the trial court's September 2, 2002 decision should also be annulled on the ground of
and baseless counterclaim award. By this fraudulent scheme, the NFA was prevented from lack of jurisdiction.
making a fair submission in the controversy.
Notably, Lasala's counterclaim was not only based on the damages that he incurred because of
To further invalidate the NFA's petition for annulment, Lasala argues that extrinsic fraud as a the trial court's invalid issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment against his properties. A big
ground is no longer available since the NFA failed to raise it in its petition for relief when it could chunk of the award which amounted to P1,623,600.00 pertained to Lasala's other claims against
have done so. Under Section 2, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court, extrinsic fraud as a ground will not the NFA, specifically the wage adjustment against the NFA for the security guard services his
be allowed if it had already been availed of or could have been availed of in a motion for agency rendered from April 16, 1988 to April 15, 1989.
new trial or petition for relief. Attys. Mendoza and Cahucom's actions which amounted to
extrinsic fraud should have been earlier raised at the trial court's level since their actions had This amount further ballooned when the trial court granted Lasala's prayer for interest at
been consummated when the petition for relief was filed. The NFA's failure to do so amounted to 3% per month or 36% per year. Compounded until the year 1999, the interest due on such
a waiver of this ground in its petition for annulment. wage adjustment amounted to P35,165,370.50, which is almost 67% of the trial court's total
counterclaim award. Lasala paid no docket fees on this counterclaim, reasoning that it is in the
We find Lasala's reasoning to be grossly erroneous. nature of a compulsory counterclaim.

The NFA did not waive its right to raise extrinsic fraud precisely because the circumstances We do not agree with Lasala's position.
prevented its inclusion in the petition for relief. Notably, Atty. Cahucom was the one who
drafted and filed the petition for relief, which he based not on his own negligence, but on A compulsory counterclaim is any claim for money or other relief that a defending party may
that of another NFA employee. have against an opposing party, which at the time of suit arises out of, or is necessarily
connected with, the same transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the
Since part of the extrinsic fraud against the NFA was attributable to Atty. Cahucom, it could not plaintiff's complaint. It is compulsory in the sense that it is within the jurisdiction of the court,
be expected that he would raise his own act as a ground and incriminate himself in the petition does not require for its adjudication the presence of third parties over whom the court cannot
for relief. In our analysis, the NFA could not have availed of this ground because Atty. Cahucom acquire jurisdiction, and will be barred if not set up in the answer to the complaint in the same
himself prevented it. case.50

Moreover, it was only in 2002, when then NFA Administrator Arthur Yap ordered a legal audit of To determine if a counterclaim is compulsory, the following tests apply: (a) Are the issues of fact
all existing NFA cases, that the NFA's management discovered the mishandling of the case and law raised by the claim and by the counterclaim largely the same?; (b) Would res
against Lasala. judicata bar a subsequent suit on defendant's claims, absent the compulsory counterclaim rule?;
(c) Will substantially the same evidence support or refute plaintiffs claim as well as the
In these lights, we rule that the prohibition under Section 2, Rule 47 should not apply to the NFA. defendant's counterclaim?; and (d) Is there any logical relation between the claim and the
Although available during the filing of the petition for relief, the NFA could not have raised this counterclaim? A positive answer to all four questions would indicate that the counterclaim is
ground because it was fraudulently precluded from doing so. compulsory.51 Otherwise, it is permissive.

Thus, the actions of Attys. Mendoza and Cahucom, under the unique circumstances of this In these lights, we rule that Lasala's counterclaim for wage adjustment against the NFA is not a
case, amount to extrinsic fraud that warrants the grant of NFA's petition for relief from compulsory but a permissive counterclaim. The cause of action for this counterclaim already
existed even before the filing of the NFA's complaint against Lasala. Thus, it did not arise case, the original action contemplated is Lasala's counterclaim against the NFA.
out of, nor is it necessarily connected with, the NFA's complaint for sum of money and
prayer for preliminary attachment. Because it is not an incident of the NFA's claim, it can be On this basis, we hold that the existence of extrinsic fraud in the present case did not toll the
filed as a separate case against the NFA, unless already extinguished. prescriptive period for the filing of Lasala's counterclaim.

Under this situation, Lasala's nonpayment of docket fee for his permissive counterclaim To reiterate, the unique facts of this case show that Attys. Mendoza and Cahucom patently,
prevented the trial court from acquiring jurisdiction over it. The court may allow payment of blatantly, and unjustifiably mishandled the case to the utter prejudice of the NFA. The degree to
such fee but only within a reasonable time and in no case beyond the prescriptive period for the which they disregarded their duty to protect the NFA's interests amounted to actions in
filing of the permissive counterclaim.52 concert with Lasala which constituted the extrinsic fraud against the NFA.56

As it was based on the parties' security service contract, the prescriptive period for Lasala's In sum, not only do we set aside the trial court's judgment award of P52,788,970.50 to Lasala for
counterclaim is 10 years.53 Lasala's cause of action accrued in 1989, when the contract with the being null and void; we also categorically hold that Lasala's cause of action has prescribed, and
NFA was executed. Since no docket fee was paid even after the lapse of 10 years, then the trial thus, may no longer be refiled.
court never acquired jurisdiction over Lasala's wage adjustment counterclaim. Thus, with regard
to this counterclaim, annulment of the trial court's judgment is proper. On a final note, we observe that the NFA's petition for annulment of judgment, whether
grounded on extrinsic fraud or lack of jurisdiction, was filed within the allowed periods provided
Lasala's permissive counterclaim for in the Rules. As the NFA substantiated the required grounds for annulment, we affirm the
has already prescribed and may no longer CA's decision annulling the September 2, 2002 decision of the trial court.
be refiled.
Potential liabilities of Attys.
While Section 7, Rule 4754 of the Rules of Court provides that an annulment of judgment renders Mendoza and Cahucom
the assailed judgment, resolution, or final order null and void, the original action may still be
refiled in the proper court. This rule applies in instances where the judgment is annulled because The records of the case show that the NFA had conducted initial investigations against Attys.
of lack of jurisdiction. In such cases, the defeated party may sti11 refile the original action in the Mendoza and Cahucom for potential administrative and criminal liabilities.
court that has jurisdiction, provided it has not yet prescribed.
We are forwarding a copy of the records of this case to the Ombudsman to assist it in
In cases of extrinsic fraud, the party who is defrauded and prevented from fully exhibiting his determining the administrative and criminal liabilities of these public officers.
side may file a motion in court to present his evidence as if a timely motion for new trial had
been granted. We likewise furnish the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines a copy of this
Decision and the records of this case so that they may conduct the appropriate investigation
In the present case, we annulled the trial court's decision granting Lasala's permissive regarding Atty. Mendoza's and Atty. Cahucom's fitness to remain as members of the Bar.
counterclaim on both grounds of lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud.
Lest it be misunderstood, the Court's ruling in this case involves solely the finding of extrinsic
Although the prescriptive period for the refiling of the annulled action shall be deemed fraud for purposes of granting the NFA relief from judgment; the Ombudsman and the Board of
suspended from its original filing until the finality of the judgment of annulment, we rule that Governors are tasked to conduct their own investigations regarding the incidents surrounding
Lasala may no longer refile his permissive counterclaim as it has already prescribed. this case, with this Decision and its records to be considered as part of evidence, to determine the
potential liabilities of Attys. Mendoza and Cahucom.
Under Section 8, Rule 47, the prescriptive period to file the annulled original action shall not be
suspended when the extrinsic fraud is attributable to the plaintiff in the action. 55 In the present WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition for lack of merit,
and AFFIRM with modification the June 14, 2005 Decision and February 15, 2006 Resolution of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 73235 (which annulled and set aside the September 2,
2002 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 220).

Let a copy of this Decision and the records of this case be furnished the Office of the Ombudsman
for whatever action it may deem appropriate against Attys. Rogelio B. Mendoza and Ernesto D.
Cahucom under the circumstances defined in this Decision.

Let a copy of this Decision and the records of this case also be sent to the Board of Governors of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for its administrative investigation of Attys. Rogelio B.
Mendoza and Ernesto D. Cahucom, based on the given facts of this Decision, in the interest of
determining whether these members of the Bar still have the requisite competence and integrity
to maintain their membership in the roll of lawyers of this country.

SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SECOND DIVISION plaintiffs, who have substituted for DBP as creditors:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

G.R. No. 202611, November 23, 2015 1. The parcel of land covered by TCT No. 6337 with all the improvements thereon; x x x

ABNER MANGUBAT, Petitioner, v. BELEN MORGA-SEVA, Respondent. xxxx

SO ORDERED.4ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
DECISION cralawlawlibrary

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


Since Belen and her co-defendants' appeal to the CA and later to this Court were both
unsuccessful, the RTC Decision became final and executory.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the Resolutions of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated
(i) July 13, 20111 which dismissed for lack of merit petitioner Abner Mangubat's (Abner) Petition
On September 3, 1998, Gaudencio and his children as heirs (the heirs) of the deceased Aurelia
for Annulment of Judgment and, (ii) June 13, 20122 which denied his motion for reconsideration.
filed with the same court a Complaint for Revival of the Decision in Civil Case No. P-279.5 They
averred that the writ of execution could not be implemented because Belen and her co-
Factual Antecedents
defendants evaded service thereof. And since five years had already lapsed from the date of its
entry, Gaudencio and the heirs prayed for the revival of the RTC Decision.
On March 5, 1974, Gaudencio Mangubat (Gaudencio) and his wife Aurelia Rellora-Mangubat
(Aurelia) filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pili, Camarines Sur a Complaint for Specific
Gaudencio, assisted by Atty. Reynaldo L. Herrera (Atty. Herrera) and Belen by Atty. Junnel M.
Performance with Damages against respondent Belen Morga-Seva (Belen) and two other
Relativo, entered into a Compromise Agreement6 which states as
defendants. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. P-279 and raffled to the RTC Branch 31. On
follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
August 27, 1985, the RT.C issued a Decision,3 the dispositive portion of which reads in
part, viz.:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
xxxx
Based on the facts x x x established x x x and the cited applicable law and jurisprudence, this
The defendants admit that they shall pay the amount of P33.OOO.OO that was previously paid by
Court hereby renders judgment and orders:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
the plaintiffs to [the DBP1 prior to the issuance of the decision in Civil Case No. 279, plus its legal
interest of 12% per annum since August [1990 until] the year 2000 or a total sum of P72,600.00
xxxx
plus P5,000.00 for attorney's fee, payable on or before June 30, 2001;
3. The defendants to reimburse the plaintiffs the total amount the latter have paid the
That upon payment of said amount, the plaintiffs will transfer the title, TCT No. 6337 to
(Development Bank of the Philippines [DBP]) after 1971, the year the defendants defaulted in
defendant Belen Morga Seva;
their amortization payments to DBP, and in the event of the failure of the defendants to make
such reimbursement, for plaintiffs to assume the rights of the old creditor (DBP) and take such
All other claims and counterclaims that the parties may have [against each other] are hereby
remedial action as the situation may warrant, x x x
waived.
xxxx
x x x x7cralawlawlibrary
5. The defendants [are] entitled to claim and recover title or ownership over the following
The RTC approved8 the agreement and on February 23, 2001 rendered a Decision9 in accordance
properties held as collaterals by DBP, subject, however, to the encumbrance in favor of the
therewith. Upon its finality, the Writ of Execution was ordered issued by the said court. 10
The present action for Declaration of Nullity of the Compromise Agreement was filed by Abner
On June 24, 2002, Abner, on his own behalf, moved to substitute his father Gaudencio who died Mangubat, son and one. of the heirs of Gaudencio and Aurelia Mangubat, who has been
on January 31, 2002.11 A few months thereafter and now allegedly in behalf of his co-heirs, disinherited by final judgment in Spec. Procs. No. P-984 before RTC[,] Branch 33 of this Court x x
Abner, through Atty. Haide B. Vista-Gumba (Atty. Vista-Gumba) filed another motion to x thus, Abner Mangubat is not a real party in interest to bring this present action ([to] declare
substitute Gaudencio exclusively for the purpose of executing the final judgment in the case on [the] amicable settlement null and void] under Rule 3, Section 2 of the Rules of Court. His
the claim that it was necessary for the settlement of the intestate estate of his father. 12 In an allegations that the present motion was brought in behalf of the other heirs of Gaudencio and
Order13 dated September 13, 2002, the RTC granted Abner's motion for substitution but for Aurelia Mangubat is gratuitous and without basis, there is no evidence to show that he is
purposes of execution only. authorized to represent them. As a matter of fact, two of the heirs, Ruth Mangubat Parcia and Job
Mangubat manifested that they do not want to be involved and dragged in this proceeding nor in
On December 18, 2003, Belen handed to Atty. Herrera her payment of P91,280.0014 in any other action that Abner may institute; that accordingly, they are satisfied with the decision of
accordance with the Compromise Agreement.15 Alleging, however, that the heirs refused to the Court, and they want to get their share of the deposit x x x.
convey to Belen the lot covered by TCT No. 6337, the RTC, upon motion of Atty.
Herrera,16 directed (1) Abner, who was allegedly in possession of the owner's copy of the title, to Be it noted that the decision has been partially satisfied when defendant Belen Morga Seva, thru
surrender the same to the Clerk of Court; and (2) the Clerk of Court to execute in behalf of the Atty. Reynaldo Herrera, deposited the amount of P84,480.00 to the Clerk of Court as per
heirs a deed of sale or conveyance of the lot in favor of Belen pursuant to Sec. 10, Rule 39 of the [R]eceipt No. 1201439 dated April 6, 2005. Moreover, by his own act, Abner Mangubat is bound
Rules of the Court.17 Abner, however, manifested that as far as he is concerned, Belen has not yet by the compromise agreement when he substituted for his father. Record shows that Abner
made any payment to the heirs as he was not notified by Atty. Herrera of the same.18 Thus, Atty. Mangubat continued to retain the legal services of Atty. Reynaldo Herrera as counsel for the
Herrera reported to the court that out of the P91,280.00 handed to him by Belen, he had turned- plaintiffs contrary to his allegations. The services of Atty. Herrera was terminated only sometime
over the amount of P84,480.00 to the Clerk of Court and retained 6,800.00 as his attorney's in January 2005. x x x
fee.19 This was duly noted by the RTC.20
It is well settled that a judgment on a compromise is not appealable and is immediately
On January 20, 2005, Abner terminated the services of Atty. Herrera.21 Subsequently and executory, unless a motion is filed to set aside the compromise on the ground of fraud, mistake or
purportedly in behalf of all the heirs, Abner, through Atty. Vista-Gumba, filed a Motion to Declare duress in which case an appeal may be taken from the order denying the motion.
the Amicable Settlement Null and Void.22 It was alleged therein that Gaudencio acted only on his
own behalf when he entered into the compromise agreement with Belen, hence, the same is null The inaction of Abner Mangubat or [the] other heirs of Gaudencio Mangubat and Aurelia
and void for want of consent and participation of the heirs who were indispensable parties. Mangubat for a period of almost four (4) years after becoming aware of the compromise
agreement and of the judgment thereon, amounts to a ratification on their part of said
Interestingly, however, two of the heirs namely, Ruth Mangubat Parcia and Job Mangubat filed a agreement. For laches operates to validate an agreement otherwise invalid, granting that the
Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw the Heirs['] Respective Shares.23 According to them, they herein compromise agreement was invalid, when the party on becoming aware of the
were seven siblings all in all and each is entitled to P12,068.00 from Belen's payment. They do compromise fails to repudiate it promptly. Such ratification is presumed from his or their
not agree with the course of action taken by Abner relative to the case and prayed that the case inaction.
be considered closed and terminated and their respective shares from Belen's payment released
to them. Belen, on the other hand, questioned Abner's capacity to assail the compromise The validity of a judgment or order of a Court cannot be assailed collaterally unless the ground of
agreement. She averred that in the decision of the probate court regarding the intestate estate of attack is lack of jurisdiction. If the purported nullity of the judgment lies on the party's lack of
Gaudencio, Abner was disinherited by his father.24 consent to the compromise agreement, as claimed by Abner Mangubat being the heir of Aurelia
Rellora-Mangubat who died before the filing of this case for revival of judgment, the remedy of
In an Order25 dated September 8, 2005, the RTC ruled on the Motion to Declare the Amicable the aggrieved party is to have it reconsidered, and if denied to appeal from such judgment or if
Settlement Null and Void as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary final to apply for relief under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court or to file an annulment of judgment
under Sec. 9 of B.P. 129 before the Honorable Court of Appeals.
Abner argued that since the February 23, 2001 RTC Decision approving the Compromise
It is unfortunate that Abner Mangubat failed to avail of the remedies provided for under the Agreement had long become final and executory, the RTC had already lost its jurisdiction over
Rules of Court and opted to file this instant motion to declare the compromise agreement null the case when it issued the September 25, 2006 Order.
and void which has no leg to stand on.
In a Resolution37 dated July 13, 2011, the CA dismissed the Petition for lack of merit. The Motion
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, for lack of sufficient merit, the motion to declare [the] for Reconsideration38 thereto was also denied in Resolution39 dated June 13, 2012.
amicable settlement null and void is hereby DENIED.
Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari.
SO ORDERED.26cralawlawlibrary
The Parties' Arguments
Again purportedly on behalf of all the heirs, Abner moved for the reconsideration of the above-
quoted Order27 but was denied by the RTC in its Order28 of February 27, 2006. When the same Abner basically reiterates the arguments he advanced before the CA.
became final, Belen filed a Motion for Execution of Specific Acts 29 wherein she once more prayed
that Abner be ordered to surrender to the RTC the owner's copy of TCT No. 6337 and the Clerk of For her part, Belen argues that the RTC has jurisdiction over the Complaint for revival of
Court to execute in her favor and on behalf of the heirs a deed of sale involving the lot covered by judgment. In fact, the RTC's issuance of the September 25, 2006 Order is nothing but an exercise
the said title. This was granted by the RTC in an Order30 dated July 14, 2006. Still, Abner refused of jurisdiction pursuant to its authority to handle the case until the full satisfaction of its
to comply. Hence, the said court upon motion of Belen31 issued its Order32 of September 25, Decision. At any rate, Abner is guilty of laches as it was only after almost four years from the
2006, the dispositive portion of which reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary finality of the said Order that he questioned the same.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, plaintiffs through Abner Mangubat [are] hereby divested Our Ruling
of the ownership of the property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 6337 pursuant to
the decision of this Court dated February 23, 2001 and the same is vested to herein defendant The Petition fails.
Belen Morga-Seva. This order shall now have the force and effect of a conveyance executed in
due form oflaw pursuant to the last sentence of Sec. 10(a) of Rule 39 of the [R]ules of Court. It must be stressed that the remedy of annulment of judgment is only available under certain
exceptional circumstances as this is adverse to the concept of immutability of final
SO ORDERED.33ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary judgments.40 Hence, it is allowed only on two grounds, i.e., extrinsic fraud and lack of
cralawlawlibrary jurisdiction.41

Trie afore-mentioned order became final on November 19, 2006.34 Pursuant thereto, the RTC Abner anchors his Petition for Annulment of Final Order on lack of jurisdiction. He posits that the
directed the Registrar of Deeds of Camarines Sur to transfer title to the property under TCT No. RTC had lost jurisdiction over the case when its February 23, 2001 Decision became final, hence,
6337 to Belen.35 any issuance subsequent thereto is made without any jurisdiction.

Riding of the Court of Appeals The argument is, however, specious. "Lack of jurisdiction on the part of the trial court in
rendering the judgment or final order is either lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or
On September 21, 2010, Abner filed a Petition for Annulment of Final Order36 with the CA. He nature of the action, or lack of jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner." 42 Here, it is
contended that under the Compromise Agreement, Belen was supposed to make her payment on undisputed that the RTC acquired jurisdiction over the person of Abner, he having asked for
or before June 30, 2001. However, the same was made only on December 18, 2003 or way affirmative relief therefrom several times.43 As mentioned, what Abner questions is the RTC's
beyond the period agreed upon. Thus to Abner, it was unjust for the RTC to have issued its jurisdiction over the case.
September 25, 2006 Order divesting the heirs of ownership of the subject property. Moreover,
"In a petition for annulment of judgment based on lack of jurisdiction, petitioner must show not if based on lack of jurisdiction, must brought before it is barred by laches.48 "The principle of
merely an abuse of jurisdictional discretion but an absolute lack of jurisdiction. Lack of laches or 'stale demands' ordains that the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and
jurisdiction means absence of or no jurisdiction, that is, the court should not have taken unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have
cognizance of the petition because the law does not vest it with jurisdiction over the subject been done earlier ~ negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warrants a
matter. Jurisdiction over the nature of the action or subject matter is conferred by law." 44 The presumption that the party entitled to assert it has abandoned it or declined to assert it." 49 In this
RTC's jurisdiction over petitions for revival of judgment had already been upheld by the case, it was only after almost four years from the finality of the September 25, 2006 Order that
Court.45 It was held that "[a]n action for revival of judgment may be filed either 'in the same court Abner brought an action to annul the same. He did not even care to provide in his petition any
where said judgment was rendered or in the place where the plaintiff or defendant resides, or in justification for his inaction for such a long period of time. Such unreasonable delay warrants the
any other place designated by the statutes which treat of the venue of actions in general.'" 46 Here, presumption that Abner has declined to assert his right to the property covered by TCT No. 6337.
the Complaint for revival of judgment was filed in the same court (RTC-Pili Camarines Sur, Verily, to permit him now to assert the same would be unfair and inequitable.
Branch 31) which rendered the August 27, 1985 Decision in Civil Case No. P-279. Undoubtedly,
the RTC has jurisdiction over the action. There is therefore no valid ground for the Petition for In any event, Abner's Petition for Annulment of Final Order was not the proper remedy to nullify
Annulment of Final Order that Abner filed with the CA. the September 25, 2006 Order which is an interlocutory order. "An interlocutory order refers to
a ruling respecting some point or matter between the commencement and end of the suit, but is
To the mind of the Court, Abner's flawed arguments emanate from his misconception of lack of not a final adjudication of the claims and liabilities of the parties that are in dispute in that
jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action as a ground for annulment. As aptly suit.50 The September 25, 2006 Order merely dealt with the incidental matter of causing the
observed by the CA, he has confused lack of jurisdiction with error in the exercise of transfer of the title to the property covered by TCT No. 6337 under the name of Belen in
jurisdiction, viz.:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary accordance with the final and executory February 23, 2001 RTC Decision after Abner refused to
comply with the directive to deliver the owner's copy thereof. No further settlement of any claim
It is settled that once jurisdiction has been acquired, it is not lost until the court shall have or imposition of any further liability was made in the said order.
disposed of the case in its entirety. [Abner's] predecessor having elected to enforce the
compromise agreement, the RTC is still vested with jurisdiction until compliance therewith has WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. The assailed Resolutions of the
been fully enforced. Court of Appeals dated July 13, 2011 and June 13, 2012 are AFFIRMED.

[Abner] clearly confused lack of jurisdiction with error in the exercise of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction SO ORDERED.
is not the same as the exercise of jurisdiction. As distinguished from the exercise of jurisdiction,
jurisdiction is the authority to decide a case, and not the decision rendered therein. Where there
is jurisdiction over the person and the subject matter, the decision on all other questions arising
in the case is but an exercise of such jurisdiction. And the errors which the court may commit in
the exercise of jurisdiction are merely errors of judgment which are the proper subject of an
appeal. The error raised by [Abner] pertains to the trial court's exercise of its jurisdiction, not its
lack of authority to decide the case. In a petition for annulment of judgment based on lack of
jurisdiction, [a] petitioner must show not merely an abuse of jurisdictional discretion but an
absolute lack of authority to hear and decide the case. On this basis, there would be no valid
ground to grant the petition for annulment of judgment.47ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
cralawlawlibrary

Even assuming that the claim of lack of jurisdiction is well-grounded, Abner's Petition for
Annulment of Final Order is barred by laches. An action for annulment of judgment or final order
THIRD DIVISION and

G.R. No. 197825, January 11, 2016 3. The Defendants to pay to the .Plaintiffs the amount of Fifteen Thousand Pesos as moral and
actual damages.
CAMILO SIBAL, Petitioner, v. PEDRO BUQUEL, SANTIAGO BUQUEL, JR., ROSALINDA BUQUEL,
REPRESENTED BY FRANCISCO BUQUEL, Respondents. SO ORDERED.4cralawlawlibrary

DECISION Thereafter, said RTC Decision became final and executory; hence, the trial court issued a writ of
execution.
PERALTA, J.:
On August 8, 2008, Sibal filed a Petition for Annulment of the RTC Decision before the CA, where
he raised lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud as grounds. On March 16, 2011, the CA
Before the Court is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which petitioner
dismissed Sibal's petition, thus: '
Camilo Sibal filed, assailing the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), dated March 16, 2011, and
its Resolution2dated July 7, 2011 in CA-G.R. SP NO. 104774. The CA affirmed the Decision3 of the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, Branch 02, dated January 5, 2007, in
Civil Case No. 6429.
SO ORDERED.5cralawlawlibrary
The facts, as gathered from the records, are as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Sibal filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the same was denied. Thus, he filed the instant
petition.
Respondents Pedro Buquel, Santiago Buquel, Jr., Rosalinda Buquel and Francisco Buquel
inherited from their parents, Santiago Buquel, Sr. and Faustina Buquel, a parcel of land consisting
Sibal maintains that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over the case and that the Buquels were
of 81,022 sq. m. covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 0-725. Sometime m January 1999,
guilty of extrinsic fraud.
petitioner Camilo Sibal and Tobi Mangoba took possession of a portion of the property which
belonged to Santiago, Sr. Thereafter, the Buquels made several demands against Sibal and
The petition is devoid of merit.
Mangoba for them to vacate and turn over the property, but the latter refused to do so. Hence,
they filed a complaint before the Tuguegarao RTC for recovery of possession and damages.
Sibal contends that the RTC Decision should be annulled on the ground that the RTC never
acquired jurisdiction over the case as the complaint filed merely alleged that ^ the value of the
On January 5, 2007, the Tuguegarao RTC ruled in favor of the Buquels, the decretal portion of the
subject property is P51,190.00, without, however, categorically mentioning its assessed value,
Decision provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
and only the real property tax order of payment was attached to the complaint and not the tax
declaration that would determine the assessed value of the property. But, upon review of the
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Court hereby renders judgment in favor of the
records, the Court notes that the Real Property Tax Order of Payment Mo. 091-05713-03 dated
Plaintiffs Pedro Buquel, Santiago Buquel, Jr., Rosalinda Buquel, and Francisco Buquel as against
November 24, 2002, or "Exhibit C," shows that the amount of P51,190.00 is truly the assessed
Defendants Camilo Sibal and Tobi Mangoba ordering:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
value of the property, which fact Sibal failed to refute.
1 .The restoration to Plaintiffs of their peaceful possession of the land in question, specifically on
A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so exceptional in nature that it may
the share of Santiago Buquel, Jr.;
be availed of only if the judgment, final order, or final resolution sought to be annulled was
rendered by a court lacking jurisdiction or through extrinsic fraud, and only when other
2. The Defendants to pay the plaintiffs the amount of Fen Thousand Pesos for Attorney's Fees;
remedies are wanting.6 In the present case, Sibal was able to avail of other remedies when he
filed before the RTC a motion to quash the writ of execution and a motion to annul judgment.
Sibal asserts that the negligence of his former counsel in handling his defense during the
Moreover, parties aggrieved by final judgments, orders or resolutions cannot be allowed to easily proceedings in Civil Case No. 6429 resulted in violation of his right to due process. He claims that
and readily abuse a petition for annulment of judgment. Thus, the Court has instituted his counsel's inexcusable negligence denied him of his day in court. However, he admitted that he
safeguards by limiting the grounds for annulment to lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic, fraud, and attended only one stage of the proceedings below, which was the preliminary conference. He was
by prescribing in Section 1 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court that the petitioner should show that not aware of the subsequent proceedings as he was totally dependent on his former counsel and
the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are would merely wait for the latter to notify him if his attendance would be required. There was
no longer available without fault on the part of the petitioner. A petition for annulment that likewise no indication that his counsel was in feet in cahoots with the Buquels to obtain the
ignores or disregards any of the safeguards cannot prosper.7 assailed judgment. Sibal must therefore bear the unfortunate consequences of his actions. As a
litigant, he should not have entirely left the case in his counsel's hands, for he had the continuing
Further, it must be emphasized that not every kind of fraud justifies the action of annulment of duty to keep himself abreast of the developments, if only to protect his own interest in the
judgment. Only extrinsic fraud does. According to Cosmic Lumber Corporation v. Court of litigation. He could have discharged said duty by keeping in regular touch with his counsel, but
Appeals,8 fraud is extrinsic when the unsuccessful party has been prevented from fully exhibiting he failed to do so.11
his case, by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, as by keeping him away from
court, a false promise of a compromise; or where the defendant never had knowledge of the suit, WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 16,
being kept in ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; or where an attorney fraudulently or without 2011 and its Resolution dated July 7, 2011 in CA-G.R. SP No. 104774 are hereby AFFIRMED.
authority connives at his defeat; these and similar cases which show that there has never been a
real contest in the trial or hearing of the case are reasons for which a new suit may be sustained SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
to set aside and annul the former judgment and open the case for a new and lair hearing.

As a ground for annulment of judgment, .extrinsic fraud must arise from an act of the adverse
party, and the fraud must be of such nature as to have deprived the petitioner of its day in court.
The fraud is not extrinsic if the act was committed by the petitioner's own counsel.9

The case at bar is closely similar to, if not the same with the case of Pinausukan Seafood House v.
FEBTC.10 In this case, the Court noticed that the petition's own language mentioned mistake and
gross negligence on the part of petitioner's own counsel. The petition even suggested that the
negligence of its counsel may constitute professional misconduct. The Court then ruled that such
neglect of counsel, even if it we're true, was not tantamount to extrinsic fraud because it did not
emanate from any act of FEBTC as the prevailing party, and did not occur outside the trial of the
case. What is certain, for purposes of application of Rule 47, is that mistake and gross negligence
cannot be equated to the extrinsic fraud under Rule 47. By its very nature, extrinsic fraud relates
to a cause that is collateral in character, i.e., it relates to any fraudulent act of the prevailing party
in litigation which is committed outside of the trial of the case, where the defeated party has
been prevented from presenting fully his side of the cause, by fraud or deception practiced on
him by his opponent. And even in the presence of fraud, annulment will not lie unless the fraud is
committed by the adverse party, not by one's own lawyer. In the latter case, the remedy of the
client is to proceed against his own lawyer and not to re-litigate the case where judgment had
been rendered.
payment to petitioners counsel of the sum of P100,000 as attorneys fees to be taken from
petitioners share in the net assets; and the surrender by respondent of the use and possession of
Rule 47 a Mazda motor vehicle and the smaller residential house located at Maria Luisa Estate Park
Subdivision to petitioner and the common children within 15 days from receipt of the decision.
SECOND DIVISION
Thereafter, petitioner filed an urgent ex-parte motion to modify said decision, while
respondent filed a Notice of Appeal.
The trial court granted petitioner Aida Banez urgent ex-parte motion to modify the decision
[G.R. No. 132592. January 23, 2002] on October 1, 1996 by approving the Commitment of Fees dated December 22, 1994; obliging
petitioner to pay as attorneys fees the equivalent of 5% of the total value of respondents ideal
share in the net conjugal assets; and ordering the administrator to pay petitioners counsel, Atty.
Adelino B. Sitoy, the sum of P100,000 as advance attorneys fees chargeable against the aforecited
AIDA P. BAEZ, petitioner, vs. GABRIEL B. BAEZ, respondent. 5%.[4]
In another motion to modify the decision, petitioner Aida Baez sought moral and exemplary
damages, as well as litigation expenses. On October 9, 1996, she filed a motion for execution
[G.R. No. 133628. January 23, 2002] pending appeal. Respondent Gabriel Baez filed a consolidated written opposition to the two
motions, and also prayed for the reconsideration of the October 1, 1996 order.
On November 22, 1996, the trial court denied Aidas motion for moral and exemplary
damages and litigation expenses but gave due course to the execution pending appeal. Thus:
AIDA P. BAEZ, petitioner, vs. GABRIEL B. BAEZ, respondent.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing premises, the petitioners motion to modify decision is
DECISION hereby ordered denied. But, petitioners motion for execution of decision pending appeal is
hereby granted. Consequently, let a writ of execution be issued in this case to enforce the
QUISUMBING, J.:
decision for (1) respondent to vacate the premises of the small residential house situated in
Maria Luisa Estate Park Subdivision, Lahug, Cebu City and for (2) respondent to surrender the
These two petitions stem from the decision[1] dated September 23, 1996 of the Regional use and possession of said Mazda motor vehicle together with its keys and accessories thereof to
Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 20, in Civil Case No. CEB-16765. The first[2] seeks the reversal of the petitioner.
Court of Appeals decision dated March 21, 1997, setting aside the orders dated October 1 and
November 22, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court. The second[3] prays for the reversal of the
Atty. Edgar Gica, the Special Administrator, appointed in this case, is hereby ordered to make the
resolution dated February 10, 1998, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV-56265, denying the
necessary computation of the value of the one-half (1/2) share of petitioner in the net remaining
motion to dismiss.
conjugal assets of the spouses within 10 days from receipt of this order.
The antecedent facts, as gathered from the parties pleadings, are as follows:
The petitioner is hereby ordered to post a bond in the amount of P1,500,000.00 to answer for all
On September 23, 1996, the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 20, decided Civil Case No.
the damages that respondent may suffer arising from the issuance of said writ of execution
CEB-16765, decreeing among others the legal separation between petitioner Aida Baez and
pending appeal and to further answer for all the advances that petitioner may have received
respondent Gabriel Baez on the ground of the latters sexual infidelity; the dissolution of their
from the Special Administrator in this case pending final termination of this present case.[5]
conjugal property relations and the division of the net conjugal assets; the forfeiture of
respondents one-half share in the net conjugal assets in favor of the common children; the
In turn, in a petition for certiorari, Gabriel Baez elevated the case to the Court of Appeals. On In continuance of the appeal of respondent-appellant [Gabriel Baez], he is hereby ordered to file
March 21, 1997, the appellate court rendered its decision, thus: his brief with the court within 45 days from receipt of this resolution. The petitioner-appellee
[Aida Baez] shall file her own brief with the court within 45 days from receipt of the petitioner-
WHEREFORE, the Order dated October 1, 1996 and the Omnibus Order dated November 22, appellants [Gabriel Baez] brief.
1996, insofar as (1) it authorized the release of the sum of P100,000.00 to private respondents
counsel as the advanced share of private respondent [Aida Baez] in the net remaining conjugal SO ORDERED.[7]
assets, and (2) granted the motion for execution pending appeal by ordering petitioner [Gabriel
Baez] to vacate the premises of the small residential house situated in Maria Luisa Estate Park The appellate court also denied herein petitioners motion for reconsideration, hence, the petition
Subdivision, Lahug, Cebu City, and to surrender the use and possession of the Mazda Motor in G.R. No. 133628.
vehicle to private respondent are hereby SET ASIDE. The writ of execution dated December 2,
1996 and the Order dated December 10, 1996 granting the motion filed by the sheriff to make On January 19, 2000, we consolidated the two petitions. Petitioner Aida Baez now avers
symbolic delivery of the subject house and motor vehicle to the administrator of the partnership that the Court of Appeals erred:
are also SET ASIDE.
I. G.R. No. 132592
As prayed for by petitioner, the Administrator of the conjugal partnership is hereby ordered to
cause the reimbursement by counsel for the private respondent [Aida Baez] of the amount of ... IN SETTING ASIDE THE GRANT OF EXECUTION PENDING APPEAL BY THE TRIAL
P100,000.00 released to him as advance payment of attorneys fees. COURT OF THE PORTIONS OF ITS DECISION ORDERING RESPONDENT TO VACATE
THE SMALLER RESIDENTIAL HOUSE LOCATED AT THE MARIA LUISA ESTATE PARK
SO ORDERED.[6] SUBDIVISION, CEBU CITY, AND TO PAY P100,000.00 TO PETITIONERS COUNSEL AS
ATTORNEYS FEES TO BE TAKEN FROM HER SHARE IN THE NET CONJUGAL
On February 10, 1998, the Court of Appeals denied Aidas motion for reconsideration. ASSETS.[8]
Hence, the petition in G.R. No. 132592, filed by herein petitioner.
II. G.R. No. 133628:
In the meantime, the trial court gave due course to Gabriels Notice of Appeal and elevated
on April 15, 1997 the entire case records to the Court of Appeals. Aida filed with the Court of ... IN NOT GRANTING PETITIONERS MOTION TO DISMISS RESPONDENTS ORDINARY
Appeals a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that Gabriel had failed to file with the APPEAL AND/OR NOT RETURNING THE RECORDS OF CIVIL CASE NO. CEB-16765 TO
appellate court a Record on Appeal. On February 10, 1998, the Court of Appeals decided the THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CEBU.[9]
motion, thus:
In G.R. No. 132592, petitioner manifested that she no longer questions the Court of Appeals
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitionerappellants motion to dismiss filed on decision on the Mazda vehicle because respondent repossessed it. As to the residential house,
November 3, 1997 is hereby DENIED. The appointment of the petitioner-appellee as she claimed that being conjugal in nature, justice requires that she and her children be allowed to
administratix of the conjugal properties is hereby AFFIRMED. occupy and enjoy the house considering that during the entire proceedings before the trial court,
she did not have the chance to occupy it. Further, she posted a bond of P1,500,000 for the
In view of petitioners Motion to Withdraw her own appeal filed on November 27, 1997, and for damages which respondent may suffer.[10] For these reasons, she asked for execution pending
failing to pay the required docket fee within the prescribed period under Rule 41, Section 4 of the appeal. The amount of P100,000 as advance payment to her counsel was a drop in the bucket
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the appeal instituted by the petitioner Aida P. Baez is hereby compared to the bond she posted, according to her. She also suggested as an alternative that she
DISMISSED. simply be required to put up an additional bond. She also agreed to submit to an accounting as
regular administratrix and the advance attorneys fees be charged to her share in the net conjugal and evidence necessary to resolve respondents appeal pursuant to Section 6, Rule 44 [15] and
assets. Section 6, Rule 135[16] of the Rules of Court, and return the rest of the case records to the RTC.
In his comment, respondent denied petitioners allegation that she did not have the chance In turn, respondent argues that Section 39 of B.P. 129 [17] expressly abolished the
to occupy the residential house. He averred that she could have, had she chosen to. According to requirement of a record on appeal, except in appeals in special proceedings in accordance with
him, as the inventory of the couples properties showed, petitioner owned two houses and lots Rule 109,[18] and other cases wherein multiple appeals are allowed. An action for legal
and two motor vehicles in the United States, where she is a permanent resident. Respondent separation, he avers, is neither a special proceeding nor one where multiple appeals are allowed.
contended that there was no compelling reason for petitioner to have the judgment executed
pending appeal. Now, is an action for legal separation one where multiple appeals are allowed? We do not
think so.
Essentially, the core issue in G.R. No. 132592 is whether execution of judgment pending
appeal was justified. In Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila v. Court of Appeals, 258 SCRA 186, 194 (1996), this
Court held:
As held in Echaus vs. Court of Appeals, 199 SCRA 381, 386 (1991), execution pending appeal
is allowed when superior circumstances demanding urgency outweigh the damages that may xxx Multiple appeals are allowed in special proceedings, in actions for recovery of property with
result from the issuance of the writ. Otherwise, instead of being an instrument of solicitude and accounting, in actions for partition of property with accounting, in the special civil actions of
justice, the writ may well become a tool of oppression and inequity. [11] eminent domain and foreclosure of mortgage. The rationale behind allowing more than one
In this case, considering the reasons cited by petitioner, we are of the view that there is no appeal in the same case is to enable the rest of the case to proceed in the event that a separate
superior or urgent circumstance that outweighs the damage which respondent would suffer if he and distinct issue is resolved by the court and held to be final.
were ordered to vacate the house. We note that petitioner did not refute respondents allegations
that she did not intend to use said house, and that she has two (2) other houses in the United In said case, the two issues raised by therein petitioner that may allegedly be the subject of
States where she is a permanent resident, while he had none at all. Merely putting up a bond is multiple appeals arose from the same cause of action, and the subject matter pertains to the
not sufficient reason to justify her plea for execution pending appeal. To do so would make same lessor-lessee relationship between the parties. Hence, splitting the appeals in that case
execution routinary, the rule rather than the exception.[12] would only be violative of the rule against multiplicity of appeals.

Similarly, we are not persuaded that the P100,000 advance payment to petitioners counsel The same holds true in an action for legal separation. The issues involved in the case will
was properly granted. We see no justification to pre-empt the judgment by the Court of Appeals necessarily relate to the same marital relationship between the parties. The effects of legal
concerning said amount of P100,000 at the time that the trial courts judgment was already on separation, such as entitlement to live separately, dissolution and liquidation of the absolute
appeal. community or conjugal partnership, and custody of the minor children, follow from the decree of
legal separation.[19] They are not separate or distinct matters that may be resolved by the court
In G.R. No. 133628, petitioner Aida Baez contends that an action for legal separation is and become final prior to or apart from the decree of legal separation. Rather, they are mere
among the cases where multiple appeals may be taken. According to her, the filing of a record on incidents of legal separation.[20] Thus, they may not be subject to multiple appeals.
appeal, pursuant to Section 2(a), Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, [13] is required in this case. She
concludes that respondents appeal should have been dismissed for his failure to file the record Petitioners alternative prayers that in case we do not dismiss the appeal, we return the
on appeal within the reglementary period, as provided under Section 1-b, Rule 50 of the Rules of records to the trial court and require respondent to file a record on appeal, or we return the
Court.[14] records to the trial court and retain only the pleadings and orders relevant to the appeal, are
untenable. If we grant the first, we are effectively saying that the instant case is one involving
Petitioner likewise prays that, in the event that we do not dismiss Gabriel Baez appeal, we multiple appeals, which it is not. If we allow the second, we are effectively applying by analogy,
should direct the appellate court to return the records of the case to the RTC of Cebu. Thereafter, Section 6, Rule 44 and Section 6, Rule 135 of the Rules of Court, without petitioner showing
according to her, respondent should file his record on appeal for approval and transmittal to the support therefor in law or jurisprudence.[21]
Court of Appeals. In the alternative, she prays that the appellate court retain only the pleadings
WHEREFORE, the instant petitions are DENIED for lack of merit. The decision and
resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42663 and CA-G.R. No. CV-56265,
respectively, are hereby AFFIRMED, so that the Order dated October 1, 1996, of the Regional
Trial Court authorizing the release of P100,000 to petitioners counsel; the Omnibus Order dated
November 22, 1996 granting the motion pending appeal; the writ of execution dated December
2, 1996; and the Order dated December 10, 1996 granting the motion by the sheriff to make
symbolic delivery of the house and vehicle are SET ASIDE. Further, the Administrator of the
conjugal partnership is ORDERED to cause the reimbursement by petitioners counsel of the
released amount of P100,000. The Court of Appeals is hereby DIRECTED to give due course to
respondents appeal, and the Division Clerk of Court of this Court is likewise DIRECTED to
promptly remand the record of these cases to the Court of Appeals.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION Complainant claimed that after the Writ of Execution was served, defendant asked for a period of
two (2) weeks for her to remove her personal properties on the land. After two (2) weeks he
went to Sheriff Quitalig so that the Writ of Execution may be implemented but he was told that a
restraining order was issued, but when he asked for it, the respondent told him that he left it in
[A.M. No. P-02-1535. March 28, 2003] the office.

Complainant stated that on March 24, 2000, he and his lawyer went to the court to verify
whether a restraining order has really been issued but they found out that there was none; so he
FERNANDO FAJARDO, complainant, vs. Sheriff RODOLFO V. QUITALIG, Municipal Trial told the respondent to implement the Writ of Execution. Respondent, accompanied by a
Court in Cities, San Carlos City, Pangasinan, respondent. policeman and the barangay captain went to the place where the Writ of Execution is to be
implemented at 10:00 that morning but when they reached the place, respondent did not do
DECISION anything except to ask the defendant to bring out her personal properties. His reason is that an
employee of the Probation Office, Mr. Leonardo Martinez, talked to him. At 5:30 p.m., the
PANGANIBAN, J.: restraining order was brought to the place, and the respondent told him that the writ of
execution can no longer be implemented.
As frontline officials of the justice system, sheriffs must always strive to maintain public
trust in the performance of their duties. Hence, they must see to it that the final stage in the Complainant asserted that respondent favored, or showed partiality in favor of the defendant to
litigation process is completed without unnecessary delay. his prejudice.[2]

In his Comment[3] dated October 3, 2000, respondent denied the charge. He asked for the
The Case and the Facts dismissal of the case, because he had already implemented the Writ on August 24, 2000 as
evidenced by his August 25, 2000 Report of Service.[4] He also pointed out that he had made an
inventory of the personal properties recovered from the subject premises. That he had done so
In a Sworn Complaint[1] dated April 11, 2000, Sheriff Rodolfo V. Quitalig of the Municipal was attested to by defendants mother, Rufina Datuin, and witnessed by the barangay captain and
Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of San Carlos City was charged by Reverend Fernando Fajardo with two councilors.
conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and/or dereliction of duty.
The factual antecedents of the case are summarized by the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) as follows: The OCAs Finding and Recommendation

Complainant, who is one of the plaintiffs in [Civil Case No. MTCC-2266 entitled Spouses Fernando
In its October 29, 2001 Report,[5] the OCA found respondent to have been negligent in the
Fajardo and Evangeline Perez vs. Maria Datuin], alleged that the complaint for ejectment which
performance of his duty as a sheriff. It said thus:
they filed on July 17, 1997 was finally decided on July 29, 1999 against the defendant. The
decision was appealed to the Regional Trial Court but it was dismissed on November 29, 1999,
and the decision became final and executory. His lawyer filed a Motion for Execution, and on Respondent was negligent in the performance of his duty as sheriff. The Writ of Execution was
March 7, 2000, the Court issued a Writ of Execution which was brought by the respondent Sheriff issued on March 7, 2000, and was served on the judgment obligor on March 9, 2000. Respondent
to the defendant Maria Datuin on March 9, 2000. admitted that the judgment obligor promised to vacate the premises on March 29, 2000, but he
was not able to implement the Writ of Execution because on March 24, 2000, RTC, Branch 56,
San Carlos, Pangasinan issued a Temporary Restraining Order. The Temporary Restraining
Order did not ripen into an injunction so it lapsed after twenty (20) days from the date it was SEC. 14. Return of Writ of Execution. The writ of execution shall be returnable to the court issuing
issued, but the Writ of Execution was implemented only [on] August 24, 2000 which is more than it immediately after the judgment has been satisfied in part or in full. If the judgment cannot be
four (4) months from the date the restraining order lapsed. It is the duty of the sheriff to enforce satisfied in full within thirty days (30) days after his receipt of the writ, the officer shall report to
a writ of execution without delay once it is given to him unless restrained. the court and state the reason therefore. Such writ shall continue in effect during the period
within which the judgment may be enforced by motion. The officer shall make a report to the
The Writ of Execution was finally and/or implemented only on August 24, 2000, as shown in the court every thirty (30) days on the proceedings taken thereon until the judgment is satisfied in
Report submitted by the respondent in court. Complainant claimed that the respondent full, or its effectivity expires. The returns or periodic reports shall set forth the whole of the
was reluctant to implement the Writ of Execution because a certain Leonardo Martinez proceedings taken, and shall be filed with the court and copies thereof promptly furnished the
intervened. This allegation of the complainant was not denied by the respondent in his Comment. parties.
Respondent just stated in his Comment that he implemented the Writ of Execution on August 24,
2000, and made inventory of the personal properties pulled out from the building and signed by Evidently, respondent was not only remiss in his implementation of the Writ, but likewise
defendants mother and Barangay Captain Nestor Poquiz. Respondents deliberate refusal to derelict in his submission of the returns thereof.
traverse or refute the charges is an admission that the allegations are true and he cannot deny
them.[6] (Citation omitted) Respondent should have immediately implemented and made a return of the Writ after duly
serving it upon the defendant on March 9, 2000. Nonetheless, because of the request of the
defendant and her promise that she would vacate the premises on March 23, 2000, he allowed
The OCA recommended that respondent be ordered to pay a fine of P5,000 and warned that her to remain there. However, when he came back on March 24, 2000, he was unable to enforce
a repetition of the same or a similar offense would be dealt with more severely. [7] the Writ because of a TRO issued by the RTC of San Carlos, Pangasinan. He averred that he was
finally able to execute the Writ on August 24, 2000 and to submit his Return thereof on the next
day.
This Courts Ruling
We find respondents explanation to be utterly wanting. He is guilty of dereliction of his duty
as a sheriff, because he failed to (1) execute the Writ within 30 days from his receipt thereof, (2)
We agree with the OCAs findings and recommendation. submit his Report of Service within the same period, (3) make periodic reports to the MTCC until
the judgment was fully satisfied, and (4) furnish the parties with copies of the Reports.
By his own words, respondent admitted his dereliction of duty. First, as we have said
Respondents Administrative Liability earlier, he should have immediately executed the Writ when he served it upon the defendant on
March 9, 2000.

As frontline officials of the justice system, sheriffs must always strive to maintain public Second, he should have immediately reported to the MTCC that he was unable to enforce the
trust in the performance of their duties. Having the forsworn duty to uphold the majesty of the Writ because another court had issued a TRO enjoining him from doing so. Third, he should have
law, they must see to it that the final stage in the litigation process is carried out without informed the parties, particularly the plaintiff or his counsel, about his inability to enforce the
unnecessary delay.[8] Writ. Fourth, he should have immediately enforced it twenty days after its issuance.

A review of the records of this case reveals that respondent enforced the Writ of Execution Fifth, he should have made periodic Reports to the MTCC until the judgment was fully
dated March 7, 2000 only on August 24, 2000, as shown by his August 25, 2000 Report of satisfied and the parties furnished a copy thereof. Sixth, within thirty days from his receipt of the
Service. Within 30 days from receipt thereof and every 30 days thereafter until the judgment is Writ, he should have promptly made his Return, a copy of which he should have immediately
fully satisfied, a sheriff is required by the Rules of Court to render a report on the action taken on furnished the parties.
a writ of execution. Section 14 of Rule 39 of the Rules provides the manner in which the
execution is to be implemented, as follows:
Clearly, the actuations of respondent constitute disrespect, if not outright defiance, of the SO ORDERED.
MTCCs authority. In the absence of instructions to the contrary, a sheriff has the duty to execute
a Writ with reasonable celerity and promptness in accordance with its mandate.
In several cases,[9] the Court has said that the failure to make a return of a writ within the
required period is nonfeasance. In Bautista v. De Castro,[10] the provincial sheriff of Zambales and
his deputy were suspended without pay for 30 and 15 days, respectively, for dereliction of
duty. In Barola v. Abogatal,[11] a sheriff who had received a writ of execution on January 15, 1978,
but made a return thereof only on May 22, 1978, was fined a months salary. In Lapea v.
Pamarang,[12] a sheriff whose Return was four days late was fined P2,000.
Casal v. Concepcion Jr.[13] ordered the dismissal of respondent sheriff from the service and
the forfeiture of all his benefits, with prejudice to his reemployment in any branch or service of
the government including government-owned and controlled corporations. After the lapse of two
years from the issuance of the original Writ in a simple ejectment case, he not only failed to exert
reasonable efforts to fully implement its subsequent issuances, but likewise failed to account for
the amounts he got from complainant. Furthermore, he abandoned his work during the time that
the charges against him were being investigated.
In Concerned Citizen v. Torio,[14] the respondent therein was suspended for a year without
pay when he failed to act promptly on the Writs of Execution issued from 1998-2001. And
in Lumbre v. Dela Cruz,[15]respondent, after being found guilty of an inexcusable seven-month
delay in carrying out a lawful Writ of Execution was fined P5,000. Justifying the penalty, the
Court said:

When a writ of execution is placed in the hands of a sheriff, it is his duty, in the absence of
contrary instructions, to have it implemented forthwith. The sheriff is primarily responsible for
the speedy and efficient service of all court processes and writs originating from the court and its
branches, including such as may be properly delegated to him by other courts. The delay of more
than seven months, from the time the writ of execution was issued by the court on 07 August
1998 to the time when respondent sheriff posted the notice of sale or levy on 23 March 1999, is
an inordinately long period for respondent to act thereon. The importance of the role played by
all court personnel in the administration of justice is never to be taken lightly. It is the sheriffs
particularly who are depended on, and who must properly attend to, the proper implementation
of court decrees and orders, and they are expected to do so with utmost diligence and
dispatch.[16]

WHEREFORE, Sheriff Rodolfo V. Quitalig is found guilty of dereliction of duty and


is ORDERED to pay a FINE of five thousand pesos (P5,000). Considering that he has already
retired from the service, this amount is hereby ordered deducted from his retirement benefits.
EN BANC SO ORDERED.1

G.R. No. 155618 March 26, 2003 Petitioner thereafter filed a motion for execution pending appeal. Meanwhile, before the trial
court could act on petitioners motion, respondent filed on April 22, 2002 with the Commission
EDGAR Y. SANTOS, petitioner, on Elections (COMELEC) a petition for certiorari, docketed as SPR No. 20-2002, assailing the
vs. decision of the trial court.2 Likewise on April 22, 2002, respondent appealed the trial courts
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (FIRST DIVISION) and PEDRO Q. PANULAYA, respondents. decision to the COMELEC, where it was docketed as EAC No. A-12-2002.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: The COMELEC, in SPR No. 20-2002, issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, which effectively
enjoined the trial court from acting on petitioners motion for execution pending appeal.
Petitioner Edgar Y. Santos and respondent Pedro Q. Panulaya were both candidates for Mayor of Subsequently, on August 19, 2002, the COMELEC dismissed SPR No. 20-2002 after finding that
the Municipality of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental in the May 14, 2001 elections. On May 16, 2001, the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion in rendering the assailed judgment.
after the votes were counted and canvassed, the Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Moreover, the COMELEC held that the remedy from the decision of the court a quo was to file a
respondent Panulaya as the duly elected Mayor. notice of appeal, which respondent precisely did in EAC No. A-12-2002. Hence, it directed the
trial court to dispose of all pending incidents in SPL Election Protest No. 1-M(2001) with
dispatch, to wit:
Petitioner filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court of Misamis Oriental, Branch
26, which was docketed as SPL Election Protest No. 1-M(2001). After trial and revision of the
ballots, the trial court found that petitioner garnered 2,181 votes while respondent received only WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission (First Division) RESOLVED as it
2,105. Hence, on April 2, 2002, it rendered judgment as follows: hereby RESOLVES to DISMISS the instant petition for lack of merit.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring and proclaiming ACCORDINGLY, the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued on 16 May 2002, as well as the
protestant/petitioner Edgar Y. Santos as the duly elected Municipal Mayor of Balingoan, Order issued on 27 April 2002 by the Commission (First Division), are hereby set aside
Misamis Oriental, in the mayoralty elections held on May 14, 2001 with the plurality of and lifted, respectively. The Court a quo is hereby directed to dispose with immediate
Seventy Six (76) votes over and above his protagonist-protestee Pedro Q. Panulaya dispatch all pending incidents in SPL Election Case No. 1-M (2001) entitled "Edgar Y.
setting aside as null and void the proclamation of protestee made by the Municipal Santos, Petitioner/Protestant versus Pedro Q. Panulaya, Respondent/Protestee."
Board of Canvassers on May 16, 2001, ordering to pay protestant/petitioner the costs
and expenses that the latter incurred in this protest in accordance with Section 259 of No pronouncement as to cost.
the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines (B.P. 881) and Section 7 of the COMELEC
Resolution 1566, to wit: SO ORDERED. (italics ours)3

xxx xxx xxx. Thus, on August 20, 2002, the trial court issued an Order as follows:

The Clerk of Court of this Court is hereby directed to furnish copy of the DECISION to the WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby upholds and approves the Motion
following: Office of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC); Office of the Commission for Execution Pending Appeal. Further, finding good reasons therefor, the Court hereby
on Audit; Office of the Department of Interior and Local Government; Office of directs and orders the immediate execution of the Decision promulgated on April 18,
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Misamis Oriental, in accordance with Section 15 of the 2002, and as prayed for install protestant/petitioner EDGAR Y. SANTOS as the duly
COMELEC Resolution 1566. elected Mayor of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental, to take his oath of office and assume the
functions and duties of Mayor after he shall have filed a bond of One Hundred Thousand the COMELEC, docketed as SPR No. 37-2002.9 The petition contained the same prayer as that in
Pesos (P100,000.00). the supplemental petition filed in SPR 20-2002, viz:

SO ORDERED.4 WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, petitioner [herein respondent] respectfully


prays unto this Honorable Commission that immediately upon the filing of the herein
After petitioner posted the required bond, the trial court issued the Writ of Execution,5 thereby petition, the following Orders of the public respondent:
installing petitioner as Municipal Mayor of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental. Accordingly, petitioner
took his oath of office and thereafter assumed the duties and functions of his office. 1. Resolution dated 20 August 2002;

On August 21, 2002, respondent filed with the COMELEC a motion for reconsideration of the 2. Order dated 20 August 2002;
dismissal of his petition in SPR No. 20-2002.6 After five days, or on August 26, 2002, he filed a
supplemental petition in SPR No. 20-2002,7 wherein he prayed: 3. Writ of execution dated 21 August 2002;

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, petitioner [herein respondent] Be nullified and set aside.
respectfully prays unto this Honorable Commission that the following Orders of the
public respondent: Pending trial and final judgment, and soon after the issuance, but during the effectivity
of the Temporary Restraining Order, a Writ of Preliminary Injunction be issued
1. Resolution dated 20 August 2002; prohibiting, restraining and/or enjoining the public respondent from further
implementing the highly unjust, irregular and oppressive Orders above-quoted;
2. Order dated 20 August 2002;
It is further prayed that in the event that the public respondent has carried out its Order of
3. Writ of execution dated 21 August 2002; ousting petitioner [herein respondent] from his position as Mayor of Balingoan, Misamis
Oriental, that the same be nullified and considered of no legal effect. It is likewise prayed
Be nullified and set aside. that a STATUS QUO ANTE ORDER be issued by the Honorable Commission in order to
reinstate the petitioner to his rightful position as Mayor of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental.
It is further prayed that in the event that the public respondent has carried out its Order
of ousting petitioner [herein respondent] from his position as Mayor of Balingoan, Upon due notice and hearing, judgment be rendered in favor of the petitioner [herein
Misamis Oriental, that the same be nullified and considered of no legal effect. It is respondent] and against the respondent [herein petitioner] as follows:
likewise prayed that a STATUS QUO ANTE ORDER be issued by the Honorable
Commission in order to reinstate the petitioner to his rightful position as Mayor of 1. Making the Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction permanent;
Balingoan, Misamis Oriental.
2. Declaring Resolution dated 20 August 2002, Order dated 20 August 2002, and
Other reliefs, just and equitable are likewise prayed for.8 Writ of Execution dated 21 August 2002; as null and void for being highly
unjust, irregular and oppressively prepared in utter violation of the
Barely two days later, on August 28, 2002, and while his motion for reconsideration and Constitutional provisions on equal protection of the laws and due process, and
supplemental petition in SPR No. 20-2002 were pending, respondent filed another petition with for having been rendered with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction.
3. A writ of Prohibition be issued specifically commanding public respondent to mayor of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental until the final determination of the election appeal
cease and desist from further implementing the highly unjust, irregular and case.
oppressive Orders above-mentioned are concerned (sic); and
This resolution shall be immediately executory.
4. Ordering the respondents to pay the costs of suit.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is hereby requested to assist
Such other reliefs and remedies, as are just and equitable in the premises, are likewise in the peaceful and orderly implementation of this Resolution.
prayed for.10
SO ORDERED.14
On September 3, 2002, the COMELEC issued the assailed Order directing the parties to maintain
the status quo ante and enjoining petitioner from assuming the functions of Mayor. Pertinent The petition is impressed with merit.
portion of the Order reads:
It is at once apparent from the records, as shown above, that respondent was guilty of forum-
In the interest of justice and so as not to render moot and academic the issues raised in shopping when he instituted SPR No. 37-2002 with the COMELEC. Forum-shopping is an act of a
the petition, the Commission (First Division) hereby directs the parties to maintain party against whom an adverse judgment or order has been rendered in one forum of seeking
the status quo ante, which is the condition prevailing before the issuance and and possibly getting a favorable opinion in another forum, other than by appeal or special civil
implementation of the questioned Order of the court a quo dated August 20, 2002 and action for certiorari. It may also be the institution of two or more actions or proceedings
the Writ of Execution issued pursuant thereto dated August 21, 2002, in SPL. ELECTION grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court would make a
CASE NO. 1-M (2001) entitled "EDGAR Y. SANTOS versus PEDRO Q. PANULAYA." favorable disposition. For it to exist, there should be (a) identity of parties, or at least such
Accordingly, effective immediately, private respondent EDGAR Y. SANTOS is hereby parties as would represent the same interest in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and
ordered to cease and desist from assuming the duties and functions of the office of relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) identity of the two preceding
Mayor of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental until further orders from this Commission.11 particulars such that any judgment rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is
successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.15
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the above Order. However, the COMELEC First
Division did not refer the said motion to the COMELEC En Banc. Hence, petitioner, citing our In the case at bar, respondent obtained an adverse decision when his petition in SPR No. 20-2002
ruling in Kho v. COMELEC,12 brought the instant special civil action for certiorari with this Court. was dismissed by the COMELEC. He thereafter filed a motion for reconsideration and a
supplemental petition, praying for the nullification of the trial courts order for the execution of
Meanwhile, on September 9, 2002, petitioner filed an "Omnibus Motion (1) To Dissolve The its decision pending appeal. Two days after filing the supplemental petition, and while the same
Status Quo Order As It Was Based On An Unverified And Dismissed Petition With Pending Motion was very much pending before the COMELEC, he filed a wholly separate petition for certiorari,
For Reconsideration; And (2) To Refer This Motion To The Commission En Banc Under Section 2, docketed as SPR No. 37-2002, wherein he pleaded the same reliefs prayed for in the
Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure."13 On October 14, 2002, the COMELEC issued a supplemental petition. This is plainly evident from the respective prayers in the supplemental
Resolution in SPR No. 37-2002, the dispositive portion of which states: petition and the petition for certiorari as reproduced hereinabove. In doing so, respondent,
before allowing the COMELEC to fully resolve the incidents in SPR No. 20-2002, both of which
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the were at his own instance, sought to increase his chances of securing a favorable decision in
August 20, 2002 Resolution of the respondent judge granting the Motion for Execution another petition. He filed the second petition on the supposition that the COMELEC might look
Pending Appeal as well as his Order also dated August 20, 2002 directing the issuance of with favor upon his reliefs.
the Writ of Execution and his Writ of Execution dated August 21, 2002 are hereby set
aside. Private Respondent Edgar Y. Santos is enjoined from assuming the function of
Forum-shopping is considered a pernicious evil; it adversely affects the efficient administration A valid exercise of the discretion to allow execution pending appeal requires that it
of justice since it clogs the court dockets, unduly burdens the financial and human resources of should be based "upon good reasons to be stated in a special order." The following
the judiciary, and trifles with and mocks judicial processes.16 The most important factor in constitute "good reasons" and a combination of two or more of them will suffice to grant
determining the existence of forum shopping is the vexation caused the courts and parties- execution pending appeal: (1.) public interest involved or will of the electorate; (2.) the
litigants by a party who asks different courts to rule on the same or related causes or grant the shortness of the remaining portion of the term of the contested office; and (3.) the length
same or substantially the same reliefs.17 of time that the election contest has been pending (italics supplied). 23

Considering that respondent was indubitably guilty of forum-shopping when he filed SPR No. 37- The decision of the trial court in Election Protest No. 1-M(2001) was rendered on April 2, 2002,
2002, his petition should have been dismissed outright by the COMELEC.18 Willful and deliberate or after almost one year of trial and revision of the questioned ballots. It found petitioner as the
forum-shopping is a ground for summary dismissal of the case, and constitutes direct contempt candidate with the plurality of votes. Respondent appealed the said decision to the COMELEC. In
of court.19 the meantime, the three-year term of the Office of the Mayor continued to run. The will of the
electorate, as determined by the trial court in the election protest, had to be respected and given
The petition for certiorari in SPR No. 37-2002 assailed the trial courts orders for the execution meaning. The Municipality of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental, needed the services of a mayor even
of its decision pending appeal. The grant of execution pending appeal was well within the while the election protest was pending, and it had to be the candidate judicially determined to
discretionary powers of the trial court. In order to obtain the annulment of said orders in a have been chosen by the people.
petition for certiorari, it must first be proved that the trial court gravely abused its discretion. He
should show not merely a reversible error committed by the trial court, but a grave abuse of Between the determination by the trial court of who of the candidates won the elections and the
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. "Grave abuse of discretion" implies such finding of the Board of Canvassers as to whom to proclaim, it is the courts decision that should
capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or where prevail. This was sufficiently explained in the case of Ramas v. COMELEC24 in this wise:
the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal
hostility which must be so patent and gross as to amount to an invasion of positive duty or to a All that was required for a valid exercise of the discretion to allow execution pending
virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law. Mere abuse of appeal was that the immediate execution should be based "upon good reasons to be
discretion is not enough.20 stated in a special order." The rationale why such execution is allowed in election cases
is, as stated in Gahol v. Riodique,25 "to give as much recognition to the worth of a trial
We find that no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the trial court. In its order granting judges decision as that which is initially ascribed by the law to the proclamation by the
execution pending appeal, it held: board of canvassers." Thus:

It is of judicial notice that for the public official elected last May 14, 2001 elections only a Why should the proclamation by the board of canvassers suffice as basis of the
short period is left. Relative to this Courts jurisdiction over the instant case, the settled right to assume office, subject to future contingencies attendant to a protest,
rule that the mere filing of the notice of appeal does not divest the trial court of its and not the decision of a court of justice? Indeed, when it is considered that the
jurisdiction over the case and to resolve pending incidents, i.e., motion for execution board of canvassers is composed of persons who are less technically prepared
pending appeal (Asmala vs. COMELEC, 289 SCRA 745) need not be overemphasized.21 to make an accurate appreciation of the ballots, apart from their being more apt
to yield to extraneous considerations, and that the board must act summarily,
However, the COMELEC set aside the aforesaid order, saying that shortness of term alone is not a practically racing against time, while, on the other hand, the judge has benefit of
good reason for execution of a judgment pending appeal. We disagree. all the evidence the parties can offer and of admittedly better technical
preparation and background, apart from his being allowed ample time for
While it was indeed held that shortness of the remaining term of office and posting a bond are conscientious study and mature deliberation before rendering judgment, one
not good reasons, we clearly stated in Fermo v. COMELEC22 that: cannot but perceive the wisdom of allowing the immediate execution of
decisions in election cases adverse to the protestees, notwithstanding the
perfection and pendency of appeals therefrom, as long as there are, in the sound
discretion of the court, good reasons therefor.

To deprive trial courts of their discretion to grant execution pending appeal would, in
the words of Tobon Uy v. COMELEC,26

bring back the ghost of the "grab-the-proclamation-prolong the protest" techniques so


often resorted to by devious politicians in the past in their efforts to perpetuate their
hold to an elective office. This would, as a consequence, lay to waste the will of the
electorate.27

Thus, the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in giving due course, instead of
dismissing outright, the petition in SPR No. 37-2002 despite the clear showing that respondent
was guilty of forum-shopping; and in setting aside the trial courts order granting execution
pending appeal.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is GRANTED. The Order dated
September 3, 2002 and the Resolution dated October 14, 2002 of the Commission on Elections in
SPR No. 37-2002 are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE and the said case is ordered DISMISSED on the
ground of forum-shopping. The Order dated August 20, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court of
Misamis Oriental, Branch 26, granting the execution pending appeal of its decision in Election
Protest No. 1-M(2001), and the Writ of Execution dated August 21, 2002, are REINSTATED. The
full enforcement of the said Writ must forthwith be made. The court of origin shall transmit
immediately to the Commission on Elections the records of SPL Election Case No. 1-M(2001), and
the Commission on Elections shall dispose of the appeal in EAC No. A-12-2002 with deliberate
dispatch.

This Decision shall be immediately executory.

Costs against private respondent.

SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 152878. May 5, 2003] his signature on the letter to signify his agreement to the terms and conditions of the
restructuring.[9]
On 20 July 2000 the RTC of Makati City, on its own initiative, issued an Order dismissing
without prejudice Civil Case No. 99-518 for failure of petitioner as plaintiff therein to prosecute
RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. MAGWIN MARKETING
its action for an unreasonable length of time x x x.[10] On 31 July 2000 petitioner moved for
CORPORATION, NELSON TIU, BENITO SY and ANDERSON UY, respondents.
reconsideration of the Order by informing the trial court of respondents unremitting desire to
settle the case amicably through a loan restructuring program.[11] On 22 August 2000 petitioner
DECISION notified the trial court of the acquiescence thereto of respondent Nelson Tiu as an officer of
BELLOSILLO, J.: Magwin Marketing Corporation and defendant in the civil case. [12]
On 8 September 2000 the court a quo issued an Order reconsidering the dismissal without
WE ARE PERTURBED that this case should drag this Court in the banal attempts to decipher prejudice of Civil Case No. 99-518
the hazy and confused intent of the trial court in proceeding with what would have been a
simple, straightforward and hardly arguable collection case. Whether the dismissal without Acting on plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated 20 July 2000 dismissing this
prejudice for failure to prosecute was unconditionally reconsidered, reversed and set aside to case for failure to prosecute, it appearing that there was already conformity to the restructuring
reinstate the civil case and have it ready for pre-trial are matters which should have been clarified of defendants indebtedness with plaintiff by defendant Nelson Tiu, President of defendant
and resolved in the first instance by the court a quo. Unfortunately, this feckless imprecision of corporation per Manifestation and Motion filed by plaintiff on 22 August 2000, there being
the trial court became the soup stock of the parties and their lawyers to further delay the case probability of settlement among the parties, as prayed for, the Order dated 20 July 2000 is
below when they could have otherwise put things in proper order efficiently and effectively. hereby set aside.
On 4 March 1999 petitioner Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) filed a
complaint for recovery of a sum of money with prayer for a writ of preliminary attachment Plaintiff is directed to submit the compromise agreement within 15 days from receipt
against respondents Magwin Marketing Corporation, Nelson Tiu, Benito Sy and Anderson hereof. Failure on the part of plaintiff to submit the said agreement shall cause the imposition of
Uy.[1] On 26 April 1999, the trial court issued a writ of attachment. [2] On 4 June 1999 the writ was payment of the required docket fees for re-filing of this case.[13]
returned partially satisfied since only a parcel of land purportedly owned by defendant Benito Sy
was attached.[3] In the meantime, summons was served on each of the defendants, respondents On 27 July 2000 petitioner filed in Civil Case No. 99-518 a Manifestation and Motion to Set
herein, who filed their respective answers, except for defendant Gabriel Cheng who was dropped Case for Pre-Trial Conference alleging that [t]o date, only defendant Nelson Tiu had affixed his
without prejudice as party-defendant as his whereabouts could not be located.[4] On 21 signature on the May 10, 2000 letter which informed the defendants that plaintiff [herein
September 1999 petitioner moved for an alias writ of attachment which on 18 January 2000 the petitioner] already approved defendant Magwin Marketing Corporations request for
court a quo denied.[5] restructuring of its loan obligations to plaintiff but subject to the terms and conditions specified
in said letter.[14] This motion was followed on 5 October 2000 by petitioners Supplemental
Petitioner did not cause the case to be set for pre-trial.[6] For about six (6) months
Motion to Plaintiffs Manifestation and Motion to Set Case for Pre-Trial Conference affirming that
thereafter, discussions between petitioner and respondents Magwin Marketing Corporation,
petitioner could not submit a compromise agreement because only defendant Nelson Tiu had
Nelson Tiu, Benito Sy and Anderson Uy, as parties in Civil Case No. 99-518, were undertaken to
affixed his signature on the May 10, 2000 letter x x x. [15] Respondent Anderson Uy opposed the
restructure the indebtedness of respondent Magwin Marketing Corporation.[7] On 9 May 2000
foregoing submissions of petitioner while respondents Magwin Marketing Corporation, Nelson
petitioner approved a debt payment scheme for the corporation which on 15 May 2000 was
Tiu and Benito Sy neither contested nor supported them. [16]
communicated to the latter by means of a letter dated 10 May 2000 for the conformity of its
officers, i.e., respondent Nelson Tiu as President/General Manager of Magwin Marketing The trial court, in an undated Order (although a date was later inserted in the Order), denied
Corporation and respondent Benito Sy as Director thereof. [8] Only respondent Nelson Tiu affixed petitioners motion to calendar Civil Case No. 99-518 for pre-trial stating that -
Acting on plaintiffs [herein petitioner] Manifestation and Motion to Set Case for Pre-Trial In the instant case, petitioner maintains that the trial court cannot coerce the parties in Civil
Conference, the Opposition filed by defendant Uy and the subsequent Supplemental Motion filed Case No. 99-518 to execute a compromise agreement and penalize their failure to do so by
by plaintiff; defendant Uys Opposition, and plaintiffs Reply; for failure of the plaintiff to submit a refusing to go forward with the pre-trial conference. To hold otherwise, so petitioner avers,
compromise agreement pursuant to the Order dated 8 September 2000 plaintiffs motion to set would violate Art. 2029 of the Civil Code which provides that [t]he court shall endeavor to
case for pre-trial conference is hereby denied.[17] persuade the litigants in a civil case to agree upon some fair compromise, and this Courts ruling
in Goldloop Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals[23] where it was held that the trial court cannot
On 15 November 2000 petitioner filed its Notice of Appeal from the 8 September dismiss a complaint for failure of the parties to submit a compromise agreement.
2000 Order of the trial court as well as its undated Order in Civil Case No. 99-518. On 16 On the other hand, respondent Anderson Uy filed his comment after several extensions
November 2000 the trial court issued two (2) Orders, one of which inserted the date 6 November asserting that there are no special and important reasons for undertaking this review. He also
2000 in the undated Order rejecting petitioners motion for pre-trial in the civil case, and the alleges that petitioners attack is limited to the Order dated 8 September 2000 as to whether it is
other denying due course to the Notice of Appeal on the ground that the Orders dated 8 conditional as the Court of Appeals so found and the applicability to this case of the ruling
September 2000 and 6 November 2000 are interlocutory orders and therefore, no appeal may be in Goldloop Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals. Respondent Uy claims that the Order reconsidering
taken x x x.[18] the dismissal of Civil Case No. 99-518 without prejudice is on its face contingent upon the
On 7 December 2000 petitioner elevated the Orders dated 8 September 2000, 6 November submission of the compromise agreement which in the first place was the principal reason of
2000 and 16 November 2000 of the trial court to the Court of Appeals in a petition for certiorari petitioner to justify the withdrawal of the Order declaring his failure to prosecute the civil
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.[19] In the main, petitioner argued that the court a case. He further contends that the trial court did not force the parties in the civil case to execute a
quo had no authority to compel the parties in Civil Case No. 99-518 to enter into an amicable compromise agreement, the truth being that it dismissed the complaint therein for petitioners
settlement nor to deny the holding of a pre-trial conference on the ground that no compromise dereliction.
agreement was turned over to the court a quo.[20] Finally, respondent Uy contests the relevance of Goldloop Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,
On 28 September 2001 the appellate court promulgated its Decision dismissing the petition and refers to its incongruence with the instant case, i.e., that the complaint of petitioner was
for lack of merit and affirming the assailed Orders of the trial court[21] holding that - dismissed for failure to prosecute and not for its reckless disregard to present an amicable
settlement as was the situation in Goldloop Properties, Inc., and that the dismissal was without
x x x although the language of the September 8, 2000 Order may not be clear, yet, a careful prejudice, in contrast with the dismissal with prejudice ordered in the cited case. For their part,
reading of the same would clearly show that the setting aside of the Order dated July 20, 2000 respondents Magwin Marketing Corporation, Nelson Tiu and Benito Sy waived their right to file a
which dismissed petitioners complaint x x x for failure to prosecute its action for an comment on the instant petition and submitted the same for resolution of this Court. [24]
unreasonable length of time is dependent on the following conditions, to wit: a) The submission The petition of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation is meritorious. It directs our
of the compromise agreement by petitioner within fifteen (15) days from notice; and b) Failure attention to questions of substance decided by the courts a quo plainly in a way not in accord
of petitioner to submit the said compromise agreement shall cause the imposition of the with applicable precedents as well as the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings; it
payment of the required docket fees for the re-filing of the case; so much so that the non- offers special and important reasons that demand the exercise of our power of supervision and
compliance by petitioner of condition no. 1 would make condition no. 2 effective, especially that review. Furthermore, petitioners objections to the proceedings below encompass not only
petitioners manifestation and motion to set case for pre-trial conference and supplemental the Order of 8 September 2000 but include the cognate Orders of the trial court of 6 and 16
motion x x x [were] denied by the respondent judge in his Order dated November 6, 2000, which November 2000. This is evident from the prayer of the instant petition which seeks to reverse
in effect means that the Order dated July 20, 2000 was ultimately not set aside considering that a and set aside the Decision of the appellate court and to direct the trial court to proceed with the
party need not pay docket fees for the re-filing of a case if the original case has been revived and pre-trial conference in Civil Case No. 99-518. Evidently, the substantive issue involved herein is
reinstated.[22] whether the proceedings in the civil case should progress, a question which at bottom embroils
all the Orders affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
On 2 April 2002 reconsideration of the Decision was denied; hence, this petition.
On the task at hand, we see no reason why RTC-Br. 135 of Makati City should stop short of prejudice: submission of the compromise agreement for the consideration of the trial
hearing the civil case on the merits. There is no substantial policy worth pursuing by requiring court. Nothing in the second paragraph do we read that the reconsideration is subject to two (2)
petitioner to pay again the docket fees when it has already discharged this obligation qualifications. Certainly far from it, for in Goldloop Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals[28] a similar
simultaneously with the filing of the complaint for collection of a sum of money. The procedure directive, i.e., [t]he parties are given a period of fifteen (15) days from today within which to
for dismissed cases when re-filed is the same as though it was initially lodged, i.e., the filing of submit a Compromise Agreement, was held to mean that should the parties fail in their
answer, reply, answer to counter-claim, including other foot-dragging maneuvers, except for the negotiations the proceedings would continue from where they left off. Goldloop Properties,
rigmarole of raffling cases which is dispensed with since the re-filed complaint is automatically Inc. further said that its order, or a specie of it, did not constitute an agreement or even an
assigned to the branch to which the original case pertained. [25] A complaint that is re-filed leads expectation of the parties that should they fail to settle their differences within the stipulated
to the re-enactment of past proceedings with the concomitant full attention of the same trial number of days their case would be dismissed.
court exercising an immaculate slew of jurisdiction and control over the case that was previously
dismissed,[26] which in the context of the instant case is a waste of judicial time, capital and The addition of the second sentence in the second paragraph does not change the absolute
energy. nullification of the dismissal without prejudice decreed in the first paragraph. The sentence
[f]ailure on the part of plaintiff to submit the said agreement shall cause the imposition of
What judicial benefit do we derive from starting the civil case all over again, especially payment of the required docket fees for re-filing of this case is not a directive to pay docket fees
where three (3) of the four (4) defendants, i.e., Magwin Marketing Corporation, Nelson Tiu and but only a statement of the event that may result in its imposition.The reason for this is that the
Benito Sy, have not contested petitioners plea before this Court and the courts a quo to advance trial court could not have possibly made such payment obligatory in the same civil case, i.e., Civil
to pre-trial conference? Indeed, to continue hereafter with the resolution of petitioners Case No. 99-518, since docket fees are defrayed only after the dismissal becomes final and
complaint without the usual procedure for the re-filing thereof, we will save the court a executory and when the civil case is re-filed.
quo invaluable time and other resources far outweighing the docket fees that petitioner would be
forfeiting should we rule otherwise. It must be emphasized however that once the dismissal attains the attribute of finality, the
trial court cannot impose legal fees anew because a final and executory dismissal although
Going over the specifics of this petition and the arguments of respondent Anderson Uy, we without prejudice divests the trial court of jurisdiction over the civil case as well as any residual
rule that the Order of 8 September 2000 did not reserve conditions on the reconsideration and power to order anything relative to the dismissed case; it would have to wait until the complaint
reversal of the Orderdismissing without prejudice Civil Case No. 99-518. This is quite evident is docketed once again.[29] On the other hand, if we are to concede that the trial court retains
from its text which does not use words to signal an intent to impose riders on the dispositive jurisdiction over Civil Case No. 99-518 for it to issue the assailed Orders, a continuation of the
portion - hearing thereon would not trigger a disbursement for docket fees on the part of petitioner as this
would obviously imply the setting aside of the order of dismissal and the reinstatement of the
Acting on plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated 20 July 2000 dismissing this complaint.
case for failure to prosecute, it appearing that there was already conformity to the restructuring Indubitably, it is speculative to reckon the effectivity of the Order of dismissal without
of defendants indebtedness with plaintiff by defendant Nelson Tiu, President of defendant prejudice to the presentation of the compromise agreement. If we are to admit that the efficacy
corporation per Manifestation and Motion filed by plaintiff on 22 August 2000, there being
of the invalidation of the Order of dismissal is dependent upon this condition, then we must
probability of settlement among the parties, as prayed for, the Order dated 20 July 2000 is inquire: from what date do we count the fifteen (15)-day reglementary period within which the
hereby set aside. alleged revival of the order of dismissal began to run? Did it commence from the lapse of the
fifteen (15) days provided for in the Order of 8 September 2000? Or do we count it from the 6
Plaintiff is directed to submit the compromise agreement within 15 days from receipt November 2000 Order when the trial court denied the holding of a pre-trial conference? Or must
hereof. Failure on the part of plaintiff to submit the said agreement shall cause the imposition of it be upon petitioners receipt of the 16 November 2000 Order denying due course to its Notice of
payment of the required docket fees for re-filing of this case.[27] Appeal? The court a quo could not have instituted an Order that marked the proceedings before it
with a shadow of instability and chaos rather than a semblance of constancy and firmness.
Contrary to respondent Uys asseverations, the impact of the second paragraph upon the
first is simply to illustrate what the trial court would do after setting aside the dismissal without
The subsequent actions of the trial court also belie an intention to revive the Order of As also explained therein, the proper course of action that should have been taken by the
dismissal without prejudice in the event that petitioner fails to submit a compromise court a quo, upon manifestation of the parties of their willingness to discuss a settlement, was to
agreement. The Orders of 6 and 16 November 2000 plainly manifest that it was retaining suspend the proceedings and allow them reasonable time to come to terms (a) If willingness to
jurisdiction over the civil case, a fact which would not have been possible had the dismissal discuss a possible compromise is expressed by one or both parties; or (b) If it appears that one of
without prejudice been resuscitated. Surely, the court a quo could not have denied on 6 the parties, before the commencement of the action or proceeding, offered to discuss a possible
November 2000 petitioners motion to calendar Civil Case No. 99-518 for pre-trial if the dismissal compromise but the other party refused the offer, pursuant to Art. 2030 of the Civil Code. If
had been restored to life in the meantime. By then the dismissal without prejudice would have despite efforts exerted by the trial court and the parties the negotiations still fail, only then
already become final and executory so as to effectively remove the civil case from the docket of should the action continue as if no suspension had taken place.[33]
the trial court.
Ostensibly, while the rules allow the trial court to suspend its proceedings consistent with
The same is true with the Order of 16 November 2000 denying due course to the policy to encourage the use of alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution, in the instant
petitioners Notice of Appeal. There would have been no basis for such exercise of discretion case, the trial court only gave the parties fifteen (15) days to conclude a deal. This was, to say the
because the jurisdiction of the court a quo over the civil case would have been discharged and least, a passive and paltry attempt of the court a quo in its task of persuading litigants to agree
terminated by the presumed dismissal thereof. Moreover, we note the ground for denying due upon a reasonable concession.[34] Hence, if only to inspire confidence in the pursuit of a middle
course to the appeal: the Orders dated 8 September 2000 and 6 November 2000 are ground between petitioner and respondents, we must not interpret the trial courts Orders as
interlocutory orders and therefore, no appeal may be taken from x x x.[30] This declaration dismissing the action on its own motion because the parties, specifically petitioner, were anxious
strongly suggests that something more was to be accomplished in the civil case, thus negating to litigate their case as exhibited in their several manifestations and motions.
the claim that the Order of dismissal without prejudice was resurrected upon the parties failure
to yield a compromise agreement. A final order issued by a court has been defined as one which We reject respondent Uys contention that Goldloop Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals is
disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a particular proceeding or action, irrelevant to the case at bar on the dubious reasoning that the complaint of petitioner was
leaving nothing else to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined by the dismissed for failure to prosecute and not for the non-submission of a compromise agreement
court, while an interlocutory order is one which does not dispose of a case completely but leaves which was the bone of contention in that case, and that the dismissal imposed in the instant case
something more to be decided upon.[31] was without prejudice, in contrast to the dismissal with prejudice decreed in the cited case. To
begin with, whether the dismissal is with or without prejudice if grievously erroneous is
Besides the semantic and consequential improbabilities of respondent Uys argument, our detrimental to the cause of the affected party; Goldloop Properties, Inc. does not tolerate a
ruling in Goldloop Properties, Inc., is decisive of the instant case. In Goldloop Properties, Inc., we wrongful dismissal just because it was without prejudice. More importantly, the facts in Goldloop
reversed the action of the trial court in dismissing the complaint for failure of the plaintiff to Properties, Inc. involve, as in the instant case, a dismissal for failure to prosecute on the ground of
prosecute its case, which was in turn based on its inability to forge a compromise with the other the parties inability to come up with a compromise agreement within fifteen (15) days from
parties within fifteen (15) days from notice of the order to do so and held - notice of the courts order therein. All told, the parallelism between them is unmistakable.
Even if we are to accept on face value respondents understanding of Goldloop Properties,
Since there is nothing in the Rules that imposes the sanction of dismissal for failing to submit a Inc. as solely about the failure to submit a compromise agreement, it is apparent that the present
compromise agreement, then it is obvious that the dismissal of the complaint on the basis case confronts a similar problem. Perhaps initially the issue was one of failure to prosecute, as
thereof amounts no less to a gross procedural infirmity assailable by certiorari. For such can be observed from the Order dated 20 July 2000, although later reversed and set aside. But
submission could at most be directory and could not result in throwing out the case for failure to thereafter, in the Order of 6 November 2000, the trial court refused to proceed to pre-trial owing
effect a compromise. While a compromise is encouraged, very strongly in fact, failure to to the failure of the plaintiff to submit a compromise agreement pursuant to the Order dated 8
consummate one does not warrant any procedural sanction, much less an authority to jettison a September 2000. When the civil case was stalled on account of the trial courts refusal to call the
civil complaint worth P4,000,000.00 x x x Plainly, submission of a compromise agreement is parties to a pre-trial conference, the reason or basis therefor was the absence of a negotiated
never mandatory, nor is it required by any rule.[32] settlement - a circumstance that takes the case at bar within the plain ambit of Goldloop
Properties, Inc. In any event, given that the instant case merely revolves around the search for a
reasonable interpretation of the several Orders of the trial court, i.e., as to whether the dismissal
without prejudice was revived upon petitioners helplessness to perfect an out-of-court In fine, petitioner cannot be said to have lost interest in fighting the civil case to the end. A
arrangement, with more reason must we employ the ruling in Goldloop Properties, Inc. to resolve court may dismiss a case on the ground of non prosequitur but the real test of the judicious
the parties differences of opinion. exercise of such power is whether under the circumstances plaintiff is chargeable with want of
fitting assiduousness in not acting on his complaint with reasonable promptitude. Unless a
We also find nothing in the record to support respondent Uys conclusion that petitioner has partys conduct is so indifferent, irresponsible, contumacious or slothful as to provide substantial
been mercilessly delaying the prosecution of Civil Case No. 99-518 to warrant its dismissal. A grounds for dismissal, i.e., equivalent to default or non-appearance in the case, the courts should
complaint may be dismissed due to plaintiffs fault: (a) if he fails to appear during a scheduled consider lesser sanctions which would still amount to achieving the desired end. [38] In the
trial, especially on the date for the presentation of his evidence in chief, or when so required at absence of a pattern or scheme to delay the disposition of the case or of a wanton failure to
the pre-trial; (b) if he neglects to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of time; or (c) if observe the mandatory requirement of the rules on the part of the plaintiff, as in the case at bar,
he does not comply with the rules or any order of the court. None of these was obtaining in the courts should decide to dispense rather than wield their authority to dismiss.[39]
civil case.
Clearly, another creative remedy was available to the court a quo to attain a speedy
While there was a lull of about six (6) months in the prosecution of Civil Case No. 99-518, it disposition of Civil Case No. 99-518 without sacrificing the course of justice. Since the failure of
must be remembered that respondents themselves contributed largely to this delay. They petitioner to submit a compromise agreement was the refusal of just one of herein respondents,
repeatedly asked petitioner to consider re-structuring the debt of respondent Magwin Marketing i.e., Benito Sy, to sign his name on the conforme of the loan restructure documents, and the
Corporation to which petitioner graciously acceded. Petitioner approved a new debt payment common concern of the courts a quo was dispatch in the proceedings, the holding of a pre-trial
scheme that was sought by respondents, which it then communicated to respondent Corporation conference was the best-suited solution to the problem as this stage in a civil action is where
through a letter for the conformity of the latters officers, i.e., respondent Nelson Tiu as issues are simplified and the dispute quickly and genuinely reconciled. By means of pre-trial, the
President/General Manager and respondent Benito Sy as Director thereof. Regrettably, only trial court is fully empowered to sway the litigants to agree upon some fair compromise.
respondent Nelson Tiu affixed his signature on the letter to signify his concurrence with the
terms and conditions of the arrangement. The momentary lag in the civil case was aggravated Dismissing the civil case and compelling petitioner to re-file its complaint is a dangerous,
when respondent Benito Sy for unknown and unexplained reasons paid no heed to the costly and circuitous route that may end up aggravating, not resolving, the disagreement. This
adjustments in the indebtedness although curiously he has not opposed before this Court or the case management strategy is frighteningly deceptive because it does so at the expense of
courts a quo petitioners desire to go ahead with the pre-trial conference. petitioner whose cause of action, perhaps, may have already been admitted by its adverse parties
as shown by three (3) of four (4) defendants not willing to contest petitioners allegations, and
Admittedly, delay took place in this case but it was not an interruption that should have more critically, since this approach promotes the useless and thankless duplication of hard work
entailed the dismissal of the complaint even if such was designated as without prejudice. To already undertaken by the trial court. As we have aptly observed, [i]nconsiderate dismissals,
constitute a sufficient ground for dismissal, the inattention of plaintiff to pursue his cause must even if without prejudice, do not constitute a panacea nor a solution to the congestion of court
not only be prolonged but also be unnecessary and dilatory resulting in the trifling of judicial dockets. While they lend a deceptive aura of efficiency to records of individual judges, they
processes. In the instant case, the adjournment was not only fleeting as it lasted less than six (6) merely postpone the ultimate reckoning between the parties. In the absence of clear lack of merit
months but was also done in good faith to accommodate respondents incessant pleas to or intention to delay, justice is better served by a brief continuance, trial on the merits, and final
negotiate. Although the dismissal of a case for failure to prosecute is a matter addressed to the disposition of the cases before the court.[40]
sound discretion of the court, that judgment however must not be abused. The availability of this
recourse must be determined according to the procedural history of each case, the situation at WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is GRANTED. The Decision dated 28 September 2001
the time of the dismissal, and the diligence of plaintiff to proceed therein.[35] Stress must also be and Resolution dated 2 April 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 62102 are REVERSED
laid upon the official directive that courts must endeavor to convince parties in a civil case to and SET ASIDE.
consummate a fair settlement,[36] and to mitigate damages to be paid by the losing party who has
shown a sincere desire for such give-and-take.[37] All things considered, we see no compelling The Orders dated 8 September 2000, 6 November 2000 and 16 November 2000 of the
circumstances to uphold the dismissal of petitioners complaint regardless of its characterization Regional Trial Court, Branch 135, of Makati City, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-518, are also
as being without prejudice. REVERSED and SET ASIDE insofar as these Orders are interpreted to impose upon and
collect anew from petitioner RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORPORATION docket or legal fees
for its complaint, or to dismiss without prejudice Civil Case No. 99-518, or to preclude the trial
court from calling the parties therein to pre-trial conference, or from proceeding thereafter with
dispatch to resolve the civil case.
Civil Case No. 99-518 is deemed REINSTATED in, as it was never taken out from, the
dockets of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 135, of Makati City. The trial court is ORDERED to
exercise its jurisdiction over Civil Case No. 99-518, to CONDUCT the pre-trial conference therein
with dispatch, and to UNDERTAKE thereafter such other proceedings as may be relevant,
without petitioner being charged anew docket or other legal fees in connection with its
reinstatement. Costs against respondents.
SO ORDERED.
domestic Standby Letter of Credit (SLC) in the amount of P14,000,000.00 in favor of the Land
Bank Realty Development Corporation and/or PNCC with the Principal Management Group, Inc.
(herein private respondent) as the funder/financial managers in connection with the
development of a project on a turn-key basis; and (b) Resolution authorizing him to open a high
[G.R. No. 145260. July 31, 2003] yielding depository account with the Land Bank of the Philippines in the amount
of P14,000,000.00 as a hold-out collateral for the domestic SLC.
The City Council approved Mayor Quijanos requests and passed Resolutions Nos. 1050 and 1051
series of 1998 on October 20, 1998.
CITY OF ILIGAN, Represented by Hon. FRANKLIN M. QUIJANO in His Capacity as City
On December 29, 1998, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on a turn-key arrangement was
Mayor, petitioner, vs. PRINCIPAL MANAGEMENT GROUP, INC. (PMGI), Represented
drawn by Mayor Quijano, representing the City of Iligan, with Land Bank Realty Development
by Its President & Chief Executive Officer, FERNANDO M. SOPOT, respondent.
Corporation (LBRDC) as General Contractor and Principal Management Group, Inc. (PMGI) as
Developer - Financing Manager. The project to be undertaken was the construction of a Sports
DECISION Complex which upon completion shall be turned over to Iligan City for acceptance and the
PANGANIBAN, J.: issuance of Certificate of Acceptance and Authority to Pay to enable Land Bank Realty-PMGI to
call on the SLC.
The ascertainment of good reasons for execution pending appeal lies within the sound The project started on November 26, 1998 despite the fact that some drawings had not yet been
discretion of the trial court. Normally, its finding will not be disturbed by a reviewing court, in completed, since the MOA provides for a construction period of one hundred twenty days from
the absence of grave abuse of discretion. the date of the signing.
The construction site of the Sports Complex was donated by San Miguel (Iligan) Enterprises, Inc.
wherein the City of Iligan as donee was bound to provide for all expenses for the transfer of the
The Case occupants therein.
On or about January 1999, the work on the project stopped due to the refusal of some of the
occupants to vacate the premises claiming that they have not been paid x x x their disturbance
Before this Court is a Petition[1] for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the
compensation. By then, PMGI had already accomplished 78.27% of the contracted project
May 4, 2000 Decision[2] and the July 14, 2000 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR
equivalent to P10,957,800.00 of the total project cost of P14,000,000.00.
CV No. 56952. The decretal portion of the Decision reads as follows:
On February 24, 1999, PMGI requested from the City of Iligan for a deductive change order to
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari is hereby DISMISSED.[4] enable it to collect the above-stated amount based on the 78.27% accomplishment of the
The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. project. The City of Iligan, however, claimed that PMGIs accomplishment was only 52.89% or
equivalent only to P6,958,861.59 based on the Accomplishment Report as of February 9, 1999.
The City of Iligan refused to pay for the reason that the mutually agreed price of P14 Million shall
The Facts only be paid after the completion of the project and acceptance by it and since the project is not
yet complete, no payment can be paid.
The problem on the payment of the affected occupant, which was the cause of the work stoppage,
The facts of the case are summarized by the CA in this wise: was accordingly brought to the attention of the Sangguniang Panlungsod which favorably acted
On October 19, 1998, Mayor Franklin M. Quijano, acting for and in behalf of [petitioner] City of on it through Resolution No. 99-765 dated June 8, 1999 authorizing the payment of the affected
Iligan, requested from the Sangguniang Panlungsod for: (a) Resolution authorizing him to open a occupants in the project site.
On November 8, 1999, PMGI filed a complaint against the City of Iligan for rescission of the MOA ORDERED to pay to said Mr. Fernando M. Sopot the amount of P6,958,861.59 out of any accounts
and damages. After the filing of City of Iligans Answer, a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment or moneys of [petitioner].
was filed by PMGI which claimed that there was no genuine issue as to the fact of the obligation
SO ORDERED.
of the City of Iligan since it admitted the accomplishment of 52.89% or equivalent
to P6,958,861.59 of PMGI and that the City of Iligan had not specifically denied under oath the The Motion for Reconsideration filed by the City of Iligan to the December 20, 1999 Order was
genuineness of the Letter of Credit and Memorandum of Agreement. denied in the Resolution dated January 17, 2000.
An Opposition to the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment was filed by the City of Iligan on A Notice of Appeal was filed by the City of Iligan on January 26, 2000.
December 7, 1999 which stated that: it never admitted that PMGI made any accomplishment at A Motion for Execution Pending Appeal x x x filed on January 18, 2000 by PMGI which alleged
all but merely stated that with respect to the work accomplishment, it was only 52.89% based on that when the appeal is clearly dilatory, order for execution upon good reasons may be issued
the report of Engr. Maatas team; the MOA or the contract for the construction of the sports with the discretion of the court, was granted on January 24, 2000 over the opposition of the City
complex is between the City of Iligan, as owner, and the Land Bank Realty Development of Iligan, to justify the same, the dispositive portion of which was earlier quoted. The trial court
Corporation as General Contractor, PMGI only entered into the picture to support LBRDC in further stated that:
accordance with their own separate agreement; the grounds of lack of cause of action and
jurisdiction raised in the Answer should be set for hearing; LBRDC as an indispensable party The Court is convinced that there are good reasons to allow the immediate execution pending
should be impleaded; and the court does not have jurisdiction over the case in view of Sec. 4 of appeal. Its adjudication is based on [petitioners] own admission hence, any appeal would be
Executive Order No. 1008 which vests exclusive jurisdiction over construction disputes to unmeritorious and would only serve to delay execution of the final order subject of the instant
Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC). motion. The fact that an appeal in this case if taken by [petitioner] will be a merely dilatory tactic
has been declared by the Supreme Court as a good and sufficient reason upon which to issue
In private respondents Rejoinder to Opposition, it was alleged that PMGI and LBRDC are solidary execution of the order under Section 2, Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court.
creditors, hence, there was no need to implead the latter since the suit redounds to the benefit of
LBRDC, there was no disagreement or dispute as to the accomplishment of 52.89% or equivalent A Demand Letter and Notice of Garnishment, both dated January 26, 2000, were served on even
to P6,958,861.59, hence, there was no need to resort to arbitration; and the turn-key provision in date by Sheriff Montoy B. Lomondot to herein petitioner. [5] (Citations omitted)
the MOA is not applicable since the 120-day construction period lapsed due to the failure of the
City of Iligan to perform its obligation.
In the Order dated December 20, 1999, the trial court granted the Motion for Partial Summary Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Judgment and rendered the following judgment/order:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, [respondents] motion is GRANTED. The CA held that the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion in granting the
Partial summary judgment is hereby issued in favor of [respondent] in the amount of Six Million execution pending appeal since the appeal filed by petitioner was a dilatory tactic and is not
Nine Hundred Fifty-eight Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty one & 59/100 (P6,958,861.59) Pesos allowed in the first place.[6] Ruling that the trial court could grant executions pending appeal,
Only. provided that a good reason therefor was stated in a special order, the appellate court upheld
dilatory tactic as one such good reason.
The Manager of the LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES (Iligan City Branch), or his authorized
representative, or any competent officer of said bank is hereby ORDERED to pay the amount The appellate court also ruled that certiorari would not be allowed in this case, because
of P6,958,861.59 out of LC NO. 98003/D to Mr. Fernando M. Sopot, President and CEO of there were other remedies still available to petitioner, like the filing of a supersedeas bond to
[respondent]. stay the execution or the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
In the event said LC NO. 98003/D is insufficient or has expired, the Manager and/or any Hence, this Petition.[7]
competent officer of said LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES (Iligan City Branch) is hereby
The Issues is in possession of either the original record or the record on appeal, as the case may be, at the
time of the filing of such motion, said court may, in its discretion, order execution of a judgment
or final order even before the expiration of the period to appeal.
Petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration:
After the trial court has lost jurisdiction, the motion for execution pending appeal may be filed in
A the appellate court.
Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in affirming the Order of the trial court Discretionary execution may only issue upon good reasons to be stated in a special order after
granting a Writ of Execution Pending Appeal to implement its previous Order dated December due hearing.
20, 1999 approving respondents Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; There are three requisites for the execution of a judgment pending appeal: a) a motion must
B be filed by the prevailing party with notice to the adverse party; b) there must be good reasons
for execution pending appeal; and c) the good reasons must be stated in a special order.[9]
Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in affirming the Order of the trial court
that there were good reasons to allow the immediate execution pending appeal; and Execution pending appeal is, of course, the exception to the general rule. [10] Normally,
execution cannot be obtained until and unless (a) the judgment has become final and executory;
C (b) the right of appeal has been renounced or waived; (c) the period for appeal has lapsed
without an appeal having been filed; or (d) having been filed, the appeal has been resolved and
Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in affirming the Order of the trial court in
the records of the case have been returned to the court of origin -- in which case, execution shall
spite of the latters failure to take into consideration the provision in paragraph 8 of the
issue as a matter of right.[11]
Memorandum of Agreement entered into by the herein parties.[8] (Citations omitted)
On the other hand, when the period of appeal has not yet expired, the execution of a
Simply put, the main issue is whether the Order granting execution pending appeal was
judgment should not be allowed except if, in the courts discretion, there are good reasons
proper.
therefor.[12]
Since the execution of a judgment pending appeal is an exception to the general rule, the
The Courts Ruling existence of good reasons is essential. These reasons must be stated in a special order, because
unless these are divulged, it will be difficult to determine on appeal whether judicial discretion
has been properly exercised by the lower court.[13]
The Petition has no merit.
Good reasons consist of compelling circumstances that justify the immediate execution of a
judgment, lest it become illusory; or the prevailing party be unable to enjoy it after the lapse of
time, considering the tactics of the adverse party who may have no recourse but to delay.[14]
Main Issue:
Propriety of Execution Pending Appeal In the present case, the good reason relied upon by both the trial and the appellate courts
was that the partial adjudication of the case was based on petitioners own admission; hence, any
appeal based on that point would be unmeritorious and merely dilatory. Indeed, both courts
Executions pending appeal are governed by Section 2 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, which ruled that an appeal by petitioner would only serve as a good and sufficient reason upon which
reads: to issue execution.[15]

SEC. 2. Discretionary execution.-- The ascertainment of good reasons for execution pending appeal lies within the sound
discretion of the trial court, and the appellate court will not normally disturb such
(a) Execution of a judgment or a final order pending appeal. On motion of the prevailing party
with notice to the adverse party filed in the trial court while it has jurisdiction over the case and
finding. Intervention by the latter may be proper, if it is shown that there has been an abuse of
discretion.[16]
Like the CA, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial courts grant of execution pending
appeal. Indeed, this Court has held that a good and sufficient reason upon which to authorize
immediate execution is when an appeal is clearly dilatory.[17]
Normally, the trial court is not allowed to assess its own judgment and to hold that an
appeal may not prosper, or that it would merely be dilatory. In the present case, however, there
are circumstances that undisputedly serve as cogent bases for arriving at such a conclusion.
First, it is not seriously disputed that the judgment is anchored upon material facts as
follows: (1) there is a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the site development of Sports
Complex Project No. 1 signed by the parties; (2) petitioner failed to pay the occupants of the
project site on time, thereby preventing respondent from fully complying with its obligation
under the MOA; (3) respondent admitted that the work accomplished was 52.89 percent, which
was equivalent to P6,958,861.59. Obviously, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact on
this point.
Second, Article 1191 of the Civil Code states:
The power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal ones, in case one of the obligors should
not comply with what is incumbent upon him.
The injured party may choose between the fulfillment and the rescission of the obligation, with
the payment of damages in either case. x x x.
By failing to pay the occupants of the project site within the time required for the
completion of the project, petitioner did not comply with what was incumbent upon it. Applying
the law to the undisputed facts, the trial court had prima facie bases for rendering its partial
summary judgment holding that respondent was entitled to rescission and to the payment
of P6,958,861.59.
Verily, the trial court committed no abuse of discretion in granting execution pending
appeal. Its conclusion was upheld by the CA, which found that the appeal filed by the petitioner
was a dilatory tactic and was not allowed in the first place. Consequently, the appellate court did
not err in refusing to attribute grave abuse of discretion to the trial courts Order granting
execution pending appeal.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision and
Resolution AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 136726. September 24, 2003] Without acting on respondents request for reconsideration, petitioner issued a
memorandum on 19 July 1995 addressed to Abarca placing him under preventive suspension for
90 days without pay pending investigation for alleged grave misconduct.
On 10 August 1995, respondents requested Secretary Garcia to lift the detail order and to
PANFILO V. VILLARUEL, JR., petitioner, vs. REYNALDO D. FERNANDO, MODESTO ABARCA,
order their return to their mother unit since more than 90 days had already lapsed. Respondents
JR. and MARILOU M. CLEOFAS, respondents.
also sought the intervention of the Ombudsman in their case. As a result, the Ombudsman
inquired from Secretary Garcia the action taken on respondents request for reconsideration of
DECISION the detail order.
CARPIO, J.: On 22 November 1995, Secretary Garcia replied to the Ombudsman that he had issued a
memorandum dated 9 November 1995 directing petitioner to recall respondents to their mother
unit. Secretary Garcia declared that the law does not sanction the continuous detail of
The Case respondents.
Despite repeated demands by respondents, petitioner failed and refused to reinstate
This petition for review on certiorari[1] seeks to reverse the Decision[2] of the Court of respondents to their mother unit.
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 48233[3] dated 30 September 1998 denying due course to the petition On 24 January 1996, respondents filed a Petition for Mandamus and Damages with Prayer
for certiorari[4] filed by Panfilo V. Villaruel, Jr. and the Resolution dated 3 December 1998 for a Preliminary Mandatory Injunction against petitioner with the Regional Trial Court of Pasay
denying the motion for reconsideration. City docketed as Civil Case No. 96-0139. Respondents prayed for the following:

PRAYER
The Facts
WHEREFORE, premises considered, petitioners herein respectfully pray of this Honorable Court
that:
Petitioner Panfilo V. Villaruel, Jr. (petitioner) is the former Assistant Secretary of the Air
Transportation Office (ATO), Department of Transportation and Communication
1. Pending the determination of the merits of this petition, a writ of preliminary mandatory
(DOTC). Respondents Reynaldo D. Fernando, Modesto E. Abarca, Jr. (Abarca), and Marilou M.
injunction be issued ex-parte directing respondent Panfilo V. Villaruel, Jr., to recall the petitioners
Cleofas are the Chief, Chief Administrative Assistant, and Administrative Assistant, respectively,
herein within twenty four (24) hours from receipt hereof to their mother unit, the Civil Aviation
of the Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC). The CATC is an adjunct agency of the ATO tasked to
Training Center, Air Transportation Office, DOTC, and to forthwith allow them to assume,
train air traffic controllers, airway communicators and related civil aviation personnel for the
perform and discharge the functions, duties and responsibilities inherent, appurtenant and
local aviation industry as well as for the Southeast Asian and Pacific region.
incident to their respective offices.
Petitioner issued a memorandum dated 27 April 1995 addressed to the respondents,
detailing them to the Office of DOTC Undersecretary Primitivo C. Cal effective 2 May 1995. 2. After hearing on the merits, judgment be rendered confirming the writ of preliminary
mandatory injunction earlier issued by this Honorable Court and declaring the same permanent,
On 29 April 1995, respondents wrote to DOTC Secretary Jesus B. Garcia and Undersecretary
and ordering the respondent Panfilo Villaruel, Jr., to pay petitioners herein the following
Josefina T. Lichauco through petitioner requesting for reconsideration of the detail order.
damages, to wit:
On 7 May 1995, in compliance with the detail order, respondents reported to the Office of
Undersecretary Cal at DOTC.
a) to pay petitioner Reynaldo D. Fernando the amount of P50,000 as actual and compensatory On 11 July 1996, the trial court rendered a Decision the dispositive portion of which reads:
damages;
Wherefore, considering the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
b) to pay petitioners herein moral, exemplary and temperate damages, in such amounts as may petitioners and against the respondent declaring mandamus permanent and thereby ordering
hereafter be proven in the course of trial, which petitioners herein are leaving to the sound respondent Panfilo V. Villaruel, Jr., to pay the following:
discretion of this Honorable Court to determine and adjudge;
(1) One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) each as moral damages;
c) to pay petitioners herein attorneys fees in the amount of P100,000;
(2) Twenty five thousand pesos (P25,000.00) each as exemplary damages;
d) to pay petitioners herein the costs of suit.
(3) Twenty five thousand pesos (P25,000.00) each as temperate damages, and;
Petitioners herein pray for such other and further relief as may be just and equitable in the
premises.[5] (4) Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) as attorneys fees.

On 23 February 1996, the trial court granted respondents prayer for a preliminary SO ORDERED.[8]
mandatory injunction.
Meanwhile, Judge Aurora Navarette-Recia of the trial court was appointed Chairman of the Aggrieved, petitioner, represented by the OSG, appealed to the Court of Appeals. The appeal
Commission on Human Rights. Consequently, the case was re-raffled and assigned to Branch 231 was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 42447.[9] With the filing of the appeal, the Court of Appeals
of the Regional Trial Court, Pasay City.[6] granted respondents motion for the dismissal of the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No.
41263 for being moot and academic.
On 12 April 1996, the trial court issued an order modifying the 23 February 1996 order of
Judge Recia. The trial court issued a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction ordering The Court of Appeals granted the OSG a non-extendible extension until 13 December 1996
petitioner to comply with the 9 November 1995 order of Secretary Garcia directing petitioner to within which to file petitioners memorandum. However, the OSG failed to file the
recall respondents to their mother unit until further orders by the trial court. memorandum. Subsequently, Solicitor Restituto Tuando, Jr. who was handling the case was
appointed Regional Trial Court judge of Dumaguete City. The case was re-assigned to Assistant
For petitioners continued failure to comply with the writ of preliminary injunction, Solicitor Luciano Joson, Jr. On 13 March 1997, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution
respondents moved to cite petitioner in contempt. Respondents also moved to declare petitioner dismissing petitioners appeal for failure to file the required memorandum. The OSG, through
in default for not filing an answer within the period prescribed in the trial courts order of 26 Assistant Solicitor Luciano Joson, Jr., filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the Court of Appeals
January 1996. denied the same. The Resolution became final and executory on 14 June 1997.
On 28 May 1996, the trial court granted the motion and declared petitioner guilty of Consequently, the respondents filed a Motion for Execution with the trial court. Although
indirect contempt. The trial court issued a bench warrant against petitioner. served a copy of the motion for execution, the OSG did not file any opposition.
Petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a special civil action for Acting on the motion for execution, the trial court issued a Writ of Execution on 22
certiorari with the Court of Appeals[7] assailing the trial courts order finding petitioner guilty of September 1997. On 3 February 1998, the Sheriff issued a Notice of Sheriffs Sale setting on 23
indirect contempt. The case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 41263. February 1998 the sale of petitioners real property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
83030.
Meanwhile, the trial court declared petitioner in default for his failure to file an answer to
the petition for mandamus and damages. Accordingly, respondents adduced their evidence ex- On 17 February 1998, petitioner, through his new counsel,[10] filed a Motion to Quash the
parte before the Clerk of Court. Writ of Execution and to Suspend Sheriffs Sale. In his motion, petitioner alleged that the trial
courts decision never became final and executory as the trial court deprived him of his right to 2. SUPERVENING FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE TRANSPIRED WHICH RENDERED
due process. Petitioner claimed that the OSG failed to file petitioners memorandum in CA-G.R. SP EXECUTION OF THE JUDGMENT UNJUST AND INEQUITABLE.[13]
No. 42447 resulting in the dismissal of his appeal. Furthermore, petitioner alleged that the OSG
failed to inform him of the dismissal of his appeal and of the trial courts order granting On the first issue, the Court of Appeals ruled that the negligence of the OSG could not relieve
respondents motion for execution. Petitioner further asserted that the Resolution of the petitioner of the effects of such negligence and prevent the decision of the trial court from
Ombudsman in OMB-ADM 0-96-0090[11] superseded the decision of the trial court. The becoming final and executory. In short, the OSGs negligence binds petitioner.
Ombudsmans Resolution approved the following recommendation of the reviewing Assistant
Ombudsman: The Court of Appeals admonished petitioner for his failure to ascertain periodically from
the OSG or from the Court of Appeals the status of his appeal. The appellate court cited Reyes v.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, respondent MODESTO ABARCA, JR., is hereby found GUILTY of Court of Appeals,[14] which held that it is the duty of a party litigant to make inquiries to his
violation of Section 7(d) of Republic Act 6713, for which the penalty of Suspension Without Pay counsel on matters concerning his case. A party litigant bears the responsibility of contacting his
for Six (6) Months is hereby recommended pursuant to Section 10(b), Rule III of Administrative lawyer periodically to apprise himself of the progress of the case. A lawyers negligence binds a
Order No. 07, in relation to Section 25(2) of Republic Act No. 6770. party litigant who must suffer the consequences of such negligence. The Court of Appeals further
held that there was no proof that the OSG failed to inform petitioner of the dismissal of his
appeal.
It is also respectfully recommended that the charge against respondents REYNALDO FERNANDO
and MARY LOU CLEOFAS be DISMISSED.[12] On the second issue, the Court of Appeals concurred with the trial courts ruling that the
nature of the case before the Ombudsman is different from the case before the trial court. The
On 23 February 1998, the trial court issued an Order quashing the Writ of Execution former deals with a violation of Republic Act No. 6713 (RA 6713) [15] punished with suspension
because the Sheriff failed to follow Section 9, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. The trial court, from office while the latter deals with an ultra vires act punished with damages. The appellate
however, issued an Alias Writ of Execution. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the court ruled that the findings of the Ombudsman had nothing to do with the findings of the trial
trial court denied the same on 28 April 1998. court, as the two forums are separate and distinct from each other.

Dissatisfied with the trial courts orders, petitioner filed a special civil action Moreover, the Court of Appeals opined that petitioner failed to prove that the trial court
for certiorari with the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 48233 assailing the execution committed grave abuse of discretion to warrant the writ of certiorari. The appellate court ruled
of the trial courts decision of 11 July 1996. The Court of Appeals denied due course to the that the trial court acted in accord with law and prevailing jurisprudence in issuing the
petition for certiorari and dismissed the same in the Decision dated 30 September 1998. questioned orders.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the appellate court denied the motion in a Resolution
of 3 December 1998.
Hence, the instant petition. The Issues

Petitioner presents the following issues for resolution of this Court:[16]


The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
1. Whether the award of moral, exemplary and temperate damages to respondents has legal
basis.
Petitioner raised before the Court of Appeals the following issues:
2. Whether the trial court correctly ruled that the negligence of the OSG could not relieve
1. THE TRIAL COURTS DECISION DATED JULY 11, 1996 IS VOID FOR LACK OF DUE petitioner of the effects of such negligence and prevent the decision of the trial court
PROCESS AND COULD NOT HAVE BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY. from becoming final and executory.
3. Whether petitioner was denied of his right to due process when the appellate court No Denial of Petitioners Right to Due Process
dismissed his appeal for failure of the OSG to file the memorandum.

4. Whether the resolution of the Ombudsman finding Modesto Abarca, Jr. guilty of violating Petitioner essentially contends that the judgment of the trial court in Civil Case No. 96-0139
Section 7 of RA 6713 rendered the execution of the trial courts decision unjust and is void for lack of due process. Petitioner alleges that the trial court never gave him the chance to
inequitable. be heard and to submit his evidence. Petitioner, formerly represented by the OSG, failed to file an
answer to respondents petition for mandamus and damages. Consequently, the trial court
declared petitioner in default. While the OSG filed a notice of appeal of the judgment by default, it
The main issue to resolve is whether the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the petition
failed to file with the Court of Appeals the required memorandum resulting in the dismissal of
for certiorari assailing the trial courts orders dated 23 February 1998 and 28 April
the appeal. In petitioners words, the OSG virtually abandoned [18] his case. Petitioner argues that
1998. Resolving this issue necessarily determines the validity of the questioned orders. This in
the inexcusable negligence of the OSG did not bind him and prevented the decision of the trial
turn resolves the questions of whether the trial court denied petitioner of his right to due
court from becoming final and executory.
process and whether the Ombudsmans resolution rendered the execution of the trial courts
decision unjust and inequitable. We do not agree.
We can no longer resolve the issue regarding the validity and reasonableness of the award Due process, in essence, is simply an opportunity to be heard[19] and this opportunity was
of damages for three reasons. First, the decision of the trial court dated 11 July 1996 is already not denied petitioner. Throughout the proceedings in the trial court as well as in the Court of
final and executory. Second, the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner was simply a direct Appeals, petitioner had the opportunity to present his side but he failed to do so. Clearly,
consequence of the trial courts issuance of the writ of execution and notice of sheriffs sale. In petitioners former counsel, the OSG, was negligent. This negligence, however, binds
other words, petitioner merely questioned the execution of the trial courts decision in his petitioner. The trial and appellate courts correctly ruled that the negligence of the OSG could not
petition for certiorari. Third, petitioner did not raise the issue of the validity and reasonableness relieve petitioner of the effects such negligence[20] and prevent the decision of the trial court
of the award of damages before the Court of Appeals.[17] from becoming final and executory.
In Villa Rhecar Bus v. De la Cruz,[21] which petitioner himself cited, the Court ruled:

The Courts Ruling It is unfortunate that the lawyer of the petitioner neglected his responsibilities to his client. This
negligence ultimately resulted in a judgment adverse to the client. Be that as it may, such mistake
binds the client, the herein petitioner. As a general rule, a client is bound by the mistakes of
The petition has no merit.
his counsel. Only when the application of the general rule would result in serious injustice
We begin by pointing out that petitioner failed to allege the essential requisites under should an exception thereto be called for. Under the circumstances obtaining in this case, no
Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for a petition for certiorari to prosper. Specifically, undue prejudice against the petitioner has been satisfactorily demonstrated. At most, there is
petitioner never alleged that the trial court acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing only an unsupported claim that the petitioner had been prejudiced by the negligence of its
the questioned orders. Neither did petitioner allege that the trial court gravely abused its counsel, without an explanation to that effect. (Emphasis supplied)
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any plain,
speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. In other words, there is no issue that In the present case, there was no proof that petitioner suffered serious injustice to exempt
the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in him from the general rule that the negligence of the counsel binds the client. Petitioner did not
handing down the questioned orders. On this score alone, the dismissal of the petition for even attempt to refute the respondents allegations in the petition for mandamus and damages.
certiorari before the Court of Appeals is in order. However, in disposing of the instant case, we
shall still resolve the principal issues raised by petitioner. Moreover, petitioner is not entirely blameless for the dismissal of his appeal. After the OSGs
failure to file the answer to the petition for mandamus and damages and to have the order
declaring petitioner in default lifted, petitioner should have already replaced the OSG with
another lawyer. However, petitioner still retained the services of the OSG, despite its apparent of the Trial Courts Decision Unjust and Inequitable
lack of interest in petitioners case, until the trial courts decision became final. In Salva v. Court
of Appeals,[22] the Court declared:
Petitioner contends that the Ombudsmans Resolution finding Abarca guilty of violating
Respondents reliance on Legarda is inapropos. Notably, the decision in said case was not yet final Section 7(d) of RA 6713 superseded the trial courts decision finding petitioner liable for
in 1991. The private respondent therein then filed a timely motion for reconsideration. In damages. Petitioner insists that the Ombudsmans resolution rendered the execution of the trial
granting the motion for reconsideration, the Court en banc held: courts decision unjust and inequitable.
We are not persuaded.
xxx
Settled is the rule that a judgment that has acquired finality becomes immutable and
unalterable and may no longer be modified in any respect except only to correct clerical errors
Neither Cathay nor Cabrera should be made to suffer for the gross negligence of Legardas
or mistakes.[27] True, this rule admits of certain exceptions. One of these exceptions is whenever
counsel. If she may be said to be innocent because she was ignorant of the acts of negligence of
circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision rendering its execution unjust and
her counsel, with more reason are respondents truly innocent. xxx In this case, it was not
inequitable.[28] This, however, is not the case here. In the present case, the Ombudsman issued
respondents, but Legarda, who misjudged and hired the services of the lawyer who practically
his Resolution prior to the finality of the trial courts decision. The Ombudsman issued his
abandoned her case and who continued to retain him even after his proven apathy and
Resolution on 22 January 1997 while the trial courts decision became final and executory on 14
negligence.
June 1997.Therefore, the resolution of the Ombudsman is not a supervening event to warrant the
stay of the execution of the decision of the trial court.
At any rate, we find that respondent Governor Sato, as well as the Province of Occidental
Mindoro which she represents, were not denied their day in court. Responsive pleadings were Furthermore, the resolution of the Ombudsman finding Abarca guilty of violating Section
filed before the lower courts, and respondent was given all the opportunities to prove her 7(d) of RA 6713 did not and could not supersede the decision of the trial court holding petitioner
case. Her chosen counsel did not diligently exhaust all legal remedies to advance liable for damages. The action filed by the petitioner before the Ombudsman is completely
respondents cause, yet respondent did not terminate his services. She was aware of the different from the action instituted by respondents before the trial court. The two actions, which
repeated negligence of her counsel and cannot now complain of counsels errors. Hence, are clearly separate and distinct from each other, presented two different causes of
there is no justifiable reason to exempt her from the general rule that clients should suffer action. Petitioners cause of action arose from respondents alleged violation of certain provisions
the consequences of the negligence, mistake or lack of competence of the counsel whom they of RA 6713 whereas respondents cause of action resulted from petitioners refusal to recall
themselves hired and had the full authority to fire at any time and replace with another respondents to their mother unit at CATC. In the administrative case before the Ombudsman, the
even without justifiable reason. (Emphasis supplied) issue was whether respondents were guilty of violating RA 6713. In contrast, the issue in the civil
action before the trial court was whether respondents were entitled to the issuance of the writ of
Furthermore, petitioner cannot now complain of the OSGs errors. Petitioner should have mandamus and damages.
taken the initiative of making periodic inquiries from the OSG and the appellate court about the The findings of the Ombudsman did not render the execution of the trial courts decision
status of his case.[23] Litigants represented by counsel should not expect that all they need to do unjust and inequitable. The resolution of the Ombudsman finding Abarca guilty of violating
is sit back, relax and await the outcome of their case.[24] To agree with petitioners stance would Section 7(d) of RA 6713 did not state that petitioner had a valid reason to detail respondents to
enable every party to render inutile any adverse order or decision through the simple expedient the Office of Undersecretary Cal. In fact, the Ombudsman dismissed the charges against Reynaldo
of alleging negligence on the part of his counsel.[25] The Court will not countenance such ill- Fernando and Mary Lou Cleofas. Thus, the trial court correctly awarded damages to
founded argument which contradicts long-settled doctrines of trial and procedure.[26] respondents. Contrary to petitioners contention, awarding damages to respondents does not
amount to rewarding respondents for their alleged wrongdoing. The award merely compensates
respondents for petitioners own unlawful acts. Clearly illegal were petitioners acts of
The Ombudsmans Resolution Does Not Render the Execution unjustifiably detailing respondents to the office of DOTC Undersecretary Cal and refusing to
comply with the 9 November 1995 directive of Secretary Garcia to recall immediately
respondents to their mother unit.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the instant petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R.
SP No. 48233 dated 30 September 1998 and the Resolution dated 3 December 1998 are
AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
[A.M. No. MTJ-03-1513. November 12, 2003] Complainants, who are the plaintiffs in the aforementioned civil cases, allege[d] that on March
29, 1994[,] the Municipal Trial Court [of] Guinobatan, Albay rendered a decision in their favor.
The decretal portion of the decision reads:

Spouses JAIME and PURIFICACION MORTA, complainants vs. Judge ANTONIO C. BAGAGAN, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is rendered in favor of the
Municipal Trial Court, Guinobatan, Albay; and Sheriff DANILO O. MATIAS, Regional plaintiffs and against the defendants in both cases as follows:
Trial Court, Branch 14, Ligao, Albay, respondents.
1) Ordering the defendants not to molest and disturb the peaceful possession of the
DECISION plaintiffs in the lands in question situated at San Rafael, Guinobatan;
PANGANIBAN, J.:
2) Condemning the defendants in Civil Case No. 481 to jointly and severally pay the
plaintiffs the total amount of P8,130.00 representing the value of the
Unreasonable delay in resolving motions opens a judge to administrative sanctions.
coconuts, pili nuts and anahaw leaves and for the destroyed plants;
Likewise, a sheriff is administratively liable for delayed implementation of a writ of execution
and failure to render the required reports thereon. These are necessary lessons from the time-
honored principle that justice delayed is justice denied. 3) Ordering the defendants in Civil Case No. 481 jointly and severally to reimburse the
plaintiffs the amount of P202.00 as legal expenses incurred in filing their suit;

4) Condemning the defendants in Civil Case No. 482 jointly and severally to pay the
The Case and the Facts plaintiffs the total amount of P9,950.00 representing the value of the coconuts
and anahaw leaves;
In their Administrative Complaint[1] dated July 26, 2001, Spouses Jaime
and Purificacion Morta Sr. charged Judge Antonio C. Bagagan of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) 5) Ordering the said defendants in Civil Case No. 482 to jointly and severally
of Guinobatan, Albay with gross ignorance of the law, incompetence, bias and delay. They also reimburse the plaintiffs the sum of P202.00 as legal expenses in filing this suit.
indicted Sheriff Danilo O. Matias of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Ligao, Albay (Branch 14)
with gross ignorance of the law, negligence and connivance with the defendants in Civil Case Nos. The defendants appealed to the Regional Trial Court [of] Ligao, Albay. In its decision
481 and 482 (MTC, Guinobatan, Albay). The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) summarized dated August 10, 1994, the Regional Trial Court [RTC] dismissed the aforesaid cases on the
the factual antecedents as follows: ground that the claims for damages are tenancy-related problems which fall under the original
and exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudicatory Board
x x x [In] a Complaint-Affidavit dated July 26, 2001 (with enclosures), x x x [Spouses] Jaime (DARAB). On September 9, 1994, the plaintiffs filed a petition for review with the Court of
and Purificacion Morta[,] through their counsel[,] Atty. Rodolfo R. Paulino[,] charg[ed] Appeals assailing the decision of the RTC. However, in its decision dated May 31, 1995, the Court
[Respondent] Judge Antonio C. Bagagan and Sheriff DaniloO. Matias with gross ignorance of the of Appeals affirmed the lower courts ruling that the cases fall within the original and exclusive
law and procedure, incompetence, bias and delay in the disposition of Civil Case No. 481, entitled jurisdiction of DARAB. Thereafter, the First Division of this Court, acting on the petition for
Jaime Morta, Sr. and Purficacion Padilla vs. Jamie Occidental and Atty. Mariano Baranda, Jr., for review on certiorari filed by the plaintiffs, rendered its decision dated June 10, 1999 in G.R. No.
Damages with Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, and Civil Case No. 482 entitled 123417 affirming the decision of the Municipal Trial Court, Guinobatan, Albay in Civil Case Nos.
Jaime Morta, Sr. and Purficacion Padilla vs. Jamie Occidental, Atty. Mariano Baranda, Jr. and 481 and 482 and thereby setting aside the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR SP No.
Daniel Corral, for Damages with Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction. 35300 and that of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Cases Nos. 1751 and 1752.
They now complain that despite the fact that the decision of the Supreme Court in the aforesaid The OCA found that the explanation of respondent judge for not granting the Motion for
case had already become final and executory, the respondent Judge still refused to issue a writ of Execution, filed by complainants, was sufficient. According to the court administrator, the
possession in their favor. records showed that they had indeed been evicted from the lots they were claiming when Civil
Case Nos. 481 and 482 were finally decided by the Supreme Court on June 10, 1999.[5] Moreover,
Complainants further allege that on June 6, 2000 they filed a motion to cite Jaime Occidental for it emphasized that this Court had merely affirmed the Decision of the MTC insofar as the award
contempt of court. Although more than one (1) year had already elapsed since the motion was of damages was concerned.
filed in the respondent Judges sala, the same had remained unresolved up to the filing of the As to complainants Motion to cite Occidental in contempt, the OCA held that the delay was
instant complaint. due primarily to the need of the court to clarify some important matters, not to the negligence or
partiality of respondent.Accordingly, it recommended that the charges against him be dismissed
As against the respondent Sheriff, the complainants aver[red] that through his ignorance, for lack of merit.
negligence and connivance with the defendants, he failed to execute in full the writ of execution
that had been previously issued by the court in Civil Case Nos. 481 and 482. Moreover, it took On the other hand, the OCA found that Sheriff Matias had failed to implement the Writ of
respondent Sheriff a long time before he finally submitted his Sheriff's Return of Service on the Execution promptly and efficiently. It recommended that he be ordered to pay a fine of P1,000,
Writ of Execution.[2] with a warning that a repetition of the same or a similar act in the future would be dealt with
more severely.
In his Answer/Comment[3] dated April 2, 2002, respondent judge explained that he had
denied complainants Motion for the issuance of a writ of possession because, by the time Civil
Case Nos. 481 and 482 were finally decided by this Court on June 10, 1999, they had already The Courts Ruling
been ousted from the lots in question pursuant to the Decisions in DARAB Case No. 2413 and
Civil Case No. 1920. In Civil Case No. 1920, respondent judge ordered complainants to vacate the
disputed lots. A Writ of Execution/Demolition was thereafter issued on January 29, 1998. On the We modify the OCAs findings and recommended penalties, consistent with Rule 140 of the
other hand, the DARAB Decision, which became final and executory on October 27, 1998, Revised Rules of Court and the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
directed them to cease and desist from disturbing the peaceful possession of therein Petitioner Service.
Jaime Occidental.
Regarding the alleged delay in the resolution of the Motion for Contempt filed by
complainants, respondent judge contended that an ocular inspection and a hearing had been Administrative Liability
conducted by his court as early as June 16, 2000, to determine if their Motion had any basis. With
the consent of their counsel, the hearing had to be deferred, however, pending receipt of the
Sheriffs Report in Civil Case No. 1920. We agree with the OCA that respondent judge acted correctly in not issuing a writ of
execution/possession. His action was consistent with the Decision of this Court in GR No. 123417
For his part, Respondent Sheriff Matias admitted in his Comment[4] dated April 18, 2002, affirming that of the MTC as to damages. Besides, the latters Order directing defendants not to
that there was delay in the full implementation of the Writ of Execution in Civil Case Nos. 481 molest complainants in their peaceful possession was rendered moot when they were ousted
and 482. Explaining that the delay was due to his heavy workload and thus unintentional, he from the disputed lots by virtue of the final and executoryjudgments in Civil Case No. 1920 and
begged for compassion from this Court. DARAB Case No. 2413. Indeed, the execution of a final judgment may be refused, as in this case,
when there has been a change in the situation of the parties that would make its execution
inequitable.[6]
Evaluation and Recommendation of the OCA The delay in the resolution of complainants Motion, however, is an altogether different
matter. The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins trial court judges, as paragons of justice in the first
instance, to dispose of the courts business promptly[7] and to decide cases and motions within SEC. 14. Return of writ of execution. The writ of execution shall be returnable to the court issuing
the required periods.[8] Section 15(1) of Article VIII of the Constitution mandates them to do so it immediately after the judgment has been satisfied in part or in full. If the judgment cannot be
within three months from the date of submission for decision or final resolution. This Court, satisfied in full within thirty (30) days after his receipt of the writ, the officer shall report to the
through Administrative Circular No. 1,[9] also specifically requires all of them to act promptly on court and state the reason therefor. Such writ shall continue in effect during the period within
all motions and interlocutory matters pending before their courts.[10] which the judgment may be enforced by motion. The officer shall make a report to the court
every thirty (30) days on the proceedings taken thereon until the judgment is satisfied in full, or
Hence, it is well-settled that the unexplained failure of judges to decide cases and resolve its effectivity expires. The returns or periodic reports shall set forth the whole of the proceedings
motions and incidents within the reglementary period of 90 days, which is fixed by the taken, and shall be filed with the court and copies thereof promptly furnished the parties.
Constitution and the law, renders them administratively liable.[11] We have stressed often enough
that delay in the administration of justice undermines the faith of the people in the judiciary,
which is expected to hear their supplications promptly. Delay reinforces in the mind of litigants A similar rule is stated in Administrative Circular No. 12 dated October 1, 1985, and
the impression that the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly. [12] As the time-honored principle incorporated in the Manual for Clerks of Court.[16] According to this Circular, all sheriffs and
goes, justice delayed is justice denied. deputy sheriffs shall submit to the judge concerned a report on actions taken on all writs and
processes assigned to them within 10 days from receipt.
In this case, respondent judge never resolved the Motion, filed on June 6, 2000, to cite
Defendant Occidental for contempt. While it is true that the former immediately conducted an Per the records of this case, a Writ of Execution was issued on November 22, 1999 in Civil
ocular inspection of the area to determine if the Motion had any basis, this act served only to Case Nos. 481 and 482.[17] Respondent Sheriffs Return of Service[18] of that Writ was filed only
mitigate his infraction, but not absolve him from it. The Sheriffs Return of Service of the Writ of on May 25, 2000, however, or six months thereafter. There is nothing in the records showing that
Demolition issued in Civil Case No. 1920 would have clarified whether or not Occidental had he submitted before then a periodic report on the actions he had taken on the Writ every 30 days
already been fully restored in possession. But while its absence was a valid reason to defer action from the date of receipt as required. On the contrary, the Report indicates that the Writ was
on the contempt Motion at the outset, it was certainly not an excuse for the prolonged inaction. partially executed on December 15-28, 1999 and January 11, 2000; and that the damages
adjudged were partly paid in the amount of P3,500 plus one unit of Karaoke machine. But it was
Had respondent judge been so minded, he would have requested a copy of the Sheriffs only on May 25, 2000, that this matter was reported to the trial court.
Report, so that he could rule on the Motion with dispatch. He has not satisfactorily explained his
failure to do so, considering that the Writ of Demolition issued in Civil Case No. 1920 had been The excuse proffered by respondent sheriff -- heavy workload -- cannot absolve him from
fully executed as early as February 25, 1998, and the return thereon made on March 17, 1998. [13] administrative sanctions.[19] As an officer of the court, he should at all times show a high degree
of professionalism in the performance of his duties.[20] He has failed to observe that degree of
With respect to the charges against respondent sheriff, we agree with the OCA that he was dedication required of him as a sheriff. The charge of connivance is, however, dismissed for lack
remiss in his duty to implement the Writ fully in Civil Case Nos. 481 and 482. Time and time of basis.
again, we have impressed upon those tasked to implement court orders and processes to see to it
that the final stage in the litigation process -- the execution of judgment -- be carried out Although the OCA recommended that Respondent Judge Bagagan be absolved of all charges,
promptly. They should exert every effort and indeed consider it their bounden duty to do so, in we find him guilty of undue delay[21] in resolving a pending motion, an infraction that also
constitutes a violation of a Court circular.[22] Under Section 11(B) of Rule 140 of the Revised
order to ensure the speedy and efficient administration of justice. [14] A decision that is left
unexecuted or delayed indefinitely because of the sheriffs inefficiency or negligence remains an Rules of Court, this less serious charge[23] may be sanctioned by a fine of more than P10,000, but
empty victory on the part of the prevailing party.[15] For this reason, any inordinate delay in the not exceeding P20,000.
execution of judgment is truly deplorable and cannot be countenanced by the Court. As to Sheriff Matias, we find him guilty of simple neglect of duty,[24] a less grave offense
There is no mistaking the mandatory character of the period prescribed under Section 14 of under the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. This infraction is
Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court on the Return of a Writ of Execution, which reads: punishable by a suspension of one month and one day to six months. [25] But under the
circumstances, we find it inadvisable to suspend respondent sheriff, considering that his work
would be left unattended in his absence. Instead, we adopt our previous ruling
in Aquino v. Lavadia [26] imposing a fine equivalent to his one-month salary, so that he can finally
implement the subject Writ and perform his other duties.
WHEREFORE, Judge Antonio C. Bagagan of the Municipal Trial Court of Guinobatan, Albay,
is found guilty of unreasonable delay and is FINED P11,000 with a stern warning that a repetition
of the same or a similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely. On the other hand,
Sheriff Danilo O. Matias of the Regional Trial Court of Ligao, Albay (Branch 14), is ordered to pay
a fine equivalent to his one-month salary, with a similar warning of stiffer sanctions for the same
or a similar act.
SO ORDERED.
possession of the property. In the meantime, Evelyn Geli died intestate and was survived by her
husband Emilio Geli and their children.
SECOND DIVISION
However, Emilio Geli and his children failed to settle the amount of P32,000 to the GSIS. The
latter forthwith filed a complaint against Emilio Geli and his children with the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City for the rescission of the deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of
mortgage. The defendants therein alleged, by way of special defense, that the plaintiffs Spouses
[G.R. No. 133883. December 10, 2003]
Serrano failed to furnish them with a detailed statement of the account due from the GSIS, thus
accounting for their failure to remit the balance of the loan to the GSIS. On September 6, 1984,
the trial court rendered judgment ordering the rescission of the said deed, the decretal portion of
which reads:
SPOUSES ARTURO AND NICETA SERRANO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND HEIRS
OF EMILIO S. GELI, respondents.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: a) ordering the rescission of the Deed of Absolute
Sale with Assumption of Mortgage, dated June 23, 1969; b) ordering defendant Emilio S. Geli and
DECISION
all persons claiming under him, including the other defendants Oswaldo, Eugenia, Marilyn,
CALLEJO, SR., J.: Cristopher and Ray, all surnamed Geli, to vacate the house and lot located at No. 110 A-1, Road 4,
Project 6, Quezon City, and to turn over the peaceful possession of the premises to plaintiffs
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court of the Arturo Serrano and Niceta M. Serrano; c) ordering defendant Emilio S. Geli to pay plaintiffs the
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 45573 setting aside the Order of the amount of P1,000.00 a month representing reasonable compensation for the use and occupancy
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q-24790 with motion of herein petitioners, of the premises starting June 23, 1969 up to the time the defendant Geli and all other persons
Spouses Arturo and Niceta Serrano, for the issuance of an alias writ of execution. [2] claiming under them including the other defendants, shall have completely vacated the property,
deducting therefrom the sum of P38,000.00 paid by defendant Geli to plaintiffs as part of the
aforesaid compensation; and, d) ordering defendant Emilio S. Geli to pay plaintiffs the sum
of P10,000.00 representing exemplary damages. Costs against defendant Emilio S. Geli.[3]
The Antecedents
Emilio Geli and his children appealed the decision to the CA on October 19, 1984. During the
pendency of the appeal, the GSIS foreclosed the real estate mortgage over the property for non-
The Spouses Serrano were the owners of a parcel of land as well as the house constructed
payment of the P50,000 loan secured by the said property. At the sale on public auction, the GSIS
thereon located at Road 4, Project 6, Diliman, Quezon City, covered by Transfer Certificate of
was the highest bidder. A certificate of sale over the property was thereby issued by the sheriff in
Title No. 80384, and a parcel of land located in Caloocan City, covered by Transfer Certificate of
its favor on August 30, 1986. On October 30, 1987 and November 3, 1987, Emilio Geli paid the
Title No. 15191. The couple mortgaged the said properties in favor of the Government Service
redemption price of P67,701.84[4] to the GSIS. Official Receipts Nos. 905401 and 901685 for the
Insurance System (GSIS) as security for a loan of P50,000.By June 1969, the couple was able to
said amount with the notation for the account of Arturo Serrano were issued. Accordingly,
pay only the amount of P18,000.
on February 22, 1988, the GSIS executed a certificate of redemption [5] and turned over to Emilio
On June 23, 1969, the Spouses Serrano, as vendors, and Spouses Emilio and Evelyn Geli, as Geli the owners copy of TCT No. 80384 in the names of the Spouses Serrano. Emilio Geli did not
vendees, executed a deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of mortgage over the parcel of inform the Spouses Serrano and the CA that he had paid the redemption price to the GSIS.
land covered by TCT No. 80384 and the house thereon for the price of P70,000. The Spouses Geli
On January 8, 1991, the CA dismissed the appeal of Emilio Geli and his children on the
paid the amount of P38,000 in partial payment of the property, the balance of P32,000 to be paid
ground that the appellants failed to pay the requisite docket fees despite notices from the
by them to the GSIS for the account of the Spouses Serrano. The Spouses Geli thereafter took
appellate court. No motion for the reconsideration of the resolution was filed. Thus, the said
dismissal of the appeal became final and executory. The Court of Appeals forthwith issued an property and were entitled to the possession thereof. The petitioners therein further posited that
Entry of Judgment on February 27, 1991. since they acquired ownership of the property before the CA dismissed their appeal and before
the September 6, 1984 Decision of the RTC became final and executory, the execution of the
After the remand of the records, the Spouses Serrano filed with the RTC on January 14, decision against them was unjust and unfair. They then prayed for the following relief:
1994 a motion for the execution of the trial courts September 6, 1984 Decision. On February 15,
1994, the trial court issued an order granting the motion and forthwith issued a writ of
execution. The writ, however, was not implemented as the Spouses Serrano were then in WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that the order of public respondent
the United States. On August 1, 1995, the trial court issued an alias writ of execution on motion of Judge, dated 18 September 1997 and the Notice to Vacate issued by public respondent Sheriff,
the plaintiffs. This, too, was not implemented, because of the defendants change of dated 26 September 1997 be set aside. Likewise, to declare execution of judgment in Civil Case
address. On May 9, 1996, the trial court issued an order granting the motion of the plaintiffs for a No. Q-24790 to have been rendered impossible, as execution hereof would result to injustice. In
second alias writ of execution. On September 6, 1996, the defendants filed a motion to quash the the meantime to obviate irreversible damage on the part of petitioners, a writ of PRELIMINARY
same claiming, for the first time, that defendant Emilio Geli had already redeemed the subject INJUNCTION be granted after due hearing, ORDERING public respondent Judge and public
property in 1988 from the GSIS. According to the defendants, this constituted a supervening respondent Sheriff to desist or refrain from implementing the September 18, 1997 order.
event that would make the execution of the trial courts decision unjust and inequitable.
Other remedies available in law and equity are likewise prayed for.[10]
On May 19, 1997, the trial court issued an order denying the aforesaid motion of the
defendants. It noted that the payment by defendant Emilio Geli of the redemption price to the On January 5, 1998, the appellate court issued an order restraining the implementation of
GSIS took place before the CA dismissed the appeal and before the decision of the RTC became the alias writ of execution and the notice to vacate issued by the trial court. [11] On May 12, 1998,
final and executory; hence, it did not constitute a supervening event warranting a quashal of the the CA rendered the assailed decision in favor of the heirs of Emilio Geli, the decretal portion of
writ of execution. The trial court cited the ruling of this Court in Lim v. Jabalde.[6] which reads:
On September 18, 1997, the trial court issued an order granting the motion for the issuance
of another alias writ of execution filed by the Spouses Serrano, to wit: WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED, and the writ of
certiorari issued. The respondent court is hereby PERPETUALLY ENJOINED from issuing any
The Motion to Quash Writ of Execution, filed by defendants having been earlier denied and, it order or writ which would disturb the petitioners in their lawful ownership and possession of
being explicit under the New Rules of Civil Procedure (1997) that no appeals may be taken from the property subject matter of the instant case.[12]
orders of execution, instead of giving due course to the appeal interposed by defendant, the court
resolves to grant the motion for the issuance of an Alias Writ of Execution. [7] The appellate court ruled that since Emilio Geli paid the redemption price for the property
to the GSIS in 1987 while his appeal was pending in the CA, the said redemption was a
On September 26, 1997, the trial court issued an Alias Writ of Execution.[8] Conformably supervening event which rendered the enforcement of the writ of execution issued by the trial
with said writ, the sheriff served a Sheriffs Notice to Vacate[9] on the defendants. In the court against them unjust and inequitable.
meantime, Emilio Geli died intestate and was survived by his children. The Spouses Serrano filed the instant petition and assigned to the CA the following errors:
On October 10, 1997, the heirs of Emilio Geli filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for I
certiorari and/or prohibition praying for the nullification of the May 19, 1997 and September 18,
1997 Orders of the trial court.They alleged inter alia that when their father Emilio Geli paid the
THE COURT A QUO COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR
redemption price to the GSIS on October 30, 1987 and November 3, 1987, their appeal of
EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT PERMANENTLY ENJOINED THE TRIAL COURT FROM
the September 6, 1984 Decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-24790 before the CA was still
DISTURBING THE RESPONDENTS IN THEIR LAWFUL OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION OF THE
pending resolution. Consequently, under the terms of the deed of absolute sale with assumption
SAID PROPERTY, IT BEING CLEAR THAT THEIR REDEMPTION WAS EFFECTED FOR AND ON
of mortgage which was still subsisting at that time, they were ipso facto subrogated to the rights
BEHALF OF PETITIONER ARTURO V. SERRANO.
of the Spouses Serrano as mortgagors of the property; hence, they became the owners of the
II We find the petition to be meritorious.
Generally, the execution upon a final judgment is a matter of right on the part of the
THE COURT A QUO COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR prevailing party. It is the ministerial and mandatory duty of the trial court to enforce its own
EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT HELD THAT THE REDEMPTION CONSTITUTED A judgment once it becomes final and executory. It may happen, however, that new facts and
SUPERVENING EVENT WHICH CHANGE THE RELATIONS OF THE PARTIES, THUS RENDERING circumstances may develop or occur after a judgment had been rendered and while an appeal
EXECUTION INEQUITABLE UNDER THE PREMISES.[13] therefrom is pending; or new matters had developed after the appeal has been dismissed and the
appealed judgment had become final and executory, which the parties were not aware of and
The petitioners contend that the payment of the redemption price made by Emilio Geli in could not have been aware of prior to or during the trial or during the appeal, as they were not
1987 during the pendency of the appeal in the CA was ineffective because, subsequently, when yet in existence at that time. In the first situation, any attempt to frustrate or put off the
the respondents appeal was dismissed by the CA, the summary decision of the RTC declaring the enforcement of an executory decision must fail. Once a judgment has become final and executory,
deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of mortgage rescinded had become final and the only remedy left for material attention thereof is that provided for in Rule 38 of the Rules of
executory. The deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of mortgage executed by the Court, as amended. There is no other prerequisite mode of thwarting the execution of the
petitioners and the Spouses Geli had ceased to exist with its rescission as decreed by the judgment on equitable grounds predicated on facts occurring before the finality of
RTC. According to the petitioners, the payment of the redemption price was conditioned upon judgment.[14] In the second situation, the execution may be stayed, notwithstanding the
the perfection and outcome of the appeal. Since the appeal of the respondents was dismissed by affirmance of the appealed judgment by this Court.[15] It is required, however, that the
their failure to pay the requisite docket fees, they must suffer the consequences thereof. The supervening facts and circumstances must either have a direct effect upon the matter already
petitioners assert that the redemption of a property is a right belonging to the mortgagor-debtor, litigated and settled or create a substantial change in the rights or relations of the parties therein
and since the deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of mortgage had been rescinded by which would render execution of a final judgment unjust, impossible or inequitable or when it
final judgment of the RTC, Emilio Geli was no longer a mortgagor or the successor-in-interest of becomes imperative in the interest of justice.[16] The interested party may file a motion to quash
the mortgagors; hence, he could not redeem the property on behalf of the mortgagors without a writ of execution issued by the trial court, or ask the court to modify or alter the judgment to
the latters knowledge and consent. harmonize the same with justice and further supervening facts. [17] Evidence may be adduced by
For their part, the respondents echo the ruling of the CA that although the issuance by the the parties on such supervening facts or circumstances.[18]
trial court of a writ of execution is ministerial upon the finality of its decision, the same is subject In this case, the payment by Emilio Geli of the amount of P67,701.84 on October 30
to the onset of a supervening event which may, as in this case, render the same unwarranted, and November 3, 1987 to the GSIS for the account of the petitioners was made while the appeal
unjust and inequitable. of the private respondents from the summary judgment of the RTC was pending. The summary
The respondents contend that the petitioners lost their ownership over the property when judgment of the RTC had not yet become final and executory. It behooved the said respondents
they failed to redeem the property within one year from the sale thereof at public auction to the to prosecute their appeal and file their brief, where they should have invoked the payment of the
GSIS. Although the GSIS executed a Certificate of Redemption in favor of Emilio Geli on February redemption price as a ground for the reversal of the trial courts summary judgment in their
22, 1988, the deed was, in fact, a deed of conveyance because, by then, the one-year period to favor. The respondents failed to do so, and even concealed the payment of the loan for the
redeem the property had already lapsed and the GSIS in the meantime had become the owner of account of the petitioners. Worse, the respondents did not pay the requisite docket fees for their
the property. Thus, the Spouses Geli acquired ownership thereof when they purchased the same appeal, which resulted in its dismissal. The respondents even opted not to file any motion for the
from the GSIS in 1988 for P67,701.84. The GSIS in effect sold the property to Emilio Geli and did reconsideration of the resolution of the CA dismissing their appeal. In sum, the respondents
not merely allow him to redeem it. Departing from their submission before the CA, the allowed the decision of the trial court to become final and executory. Consequently, the
respondents now posit that their claim of ownership over the subject property was after all not enforcement of the summary judgment of the trial court can no longer be frustrated by the
anchored on the deed of sale with assumption of mortgage, as it had been admittedly rescinded respondents payment, through Emilio Geli, of the amount of P67,701.84 to the GSIS in 1987.
by virtue of the finality of the trial courts September 6, 1984 Decision. Their claim of ownership Irrefragably, the Spouses Geli, as vendees-mortgagors under the deed of absolute sale with
rests on the fact that they had acquired the property from the GSIS, the purchaser at public partial assumption of mortgage, would have been subrogated to the rights and obligations of the
auction. As owners of the property, they cannot now be evicted therefrom. petitioners under the said deed, including the right to redeem the property from the
GSIS.[19] However, the CA dismissed their appeal for failure to pay the requisite docket fees, and in his capacity as Director[23]
such dismissal became final and executory. Hence, the summary judgment of the trial court
declaring the deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of mortgage rescinded had also Second. Case law has it that the one-year period within which the mortgagor-debtor or his
become final and executory. successor-in-interest may redeem the property should be counted from the time the certificate
of sale was registered with the Register of Deeds.[24] Upon the lapse of the one-year period, the
Generally, the rule is that to rescind a contract is not merely to terminate it, but to abrogate right to redeem becomes functus officio on the date of its expiry.[25] The rule on redemption is
and undo it from the beginning; that is, not merely to release the parties from further obligations actually liberally construed in favor of the original owner of the property. The purpose of the law
to each other in respect to the subject of the contract, but to annul the contract and restore the is to aid rather than to defeat him in the exercise of his right of redemption. [26] Before the lapse of
parties to the relative positions which they would have occupied if no such contract had ever the one-year period, the mortgagor-debtor remains the owner of the property. The right
been made. Rescission necessarily involves a repudiation of the contract and a refusal of the acquired by the purchaser at public auction is merely inchoate until the period of redemption
moving party to be further bound by it.[20] With the rescission of the deed of sale, etc., the rights has expired without the right being exercised by the redemptioner. [27] Such right becomes
of Emilio Geli under the said deed to redeem the property had been extinguished. The petitioners absolute only after the expiration of the redemption period without the right of redemption
cannot even be compelled to subrogate the respondents to their rights under the real estate having been exercised.[28] The purchaser is entitled as a matter of right to consolidation of title
mortgage over the property which the petitioners executed in favor of the GSIS since the and to the possession of the property.[29] Where redemption is seasonably exercised by the
payment of the P67,701.84 redemption price was made without the knowledge of the mortgagor-debtor, what is actually effected is not the recovery of ownership of his land, which
petitioners.[21] The respondents, however, are entitled to be reimbursed by the petitioners to the ownership he never lost, but the elimination from his title thereto of the lien created by the
extent that the latter were benefited.[22] registration of a mortgage thereon.[30]
Neither did the respondents acquire title to the property under the certificate of Upon the expiry of the redemption period without the mortgagor-debtor being able to
redemption executed by the GSIS on February 10, 1998. redeem the property, the purchaser can no longer be compelled to allow the former to redeem
the property or to resell the property; and if he agrees to sell the property, it may be for a price
First. In the certificate of redemption, the mortgagor-debtor in whose favor the certificate higher than that for which he purchased the property at public auction.[31]
was executed was the petitioner Arturo Serrano and not Emilio Geli and/or the respondents:
In this case, there is no showing in the records that the sheriffs certificate of sale in favor of
NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the foregoing premises and the sum of SIXTY- the GSIS had been registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City and if so, when
SEVEN THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED ONE & 84/100 (P67,701.84) PESOS, Philippine Currency, it was in fact registered in the said office. It cannot thus be argued that when Emilio Geli remitted
herein paid by EMILIO S. GELI, of legal age, married, Filipino, with residence and postal address the amount of P67,701.84 to the GSIS in full payment of the account of the petitioners, the one-
at 110 A-1, Road 4, Project 6, Quezon City, do hereby resell, retransfer and reconvey by way of year period to redeem the property had by then lapsed.Hence, the petitioners remained the
Certificate of Redemption in favor of ARTURO V. SERRANO, the above-described parcel/s of land, owners of the property. The GSIS never acquired title over the property and could not have
together with the building/s and improvements existing thereon. conveyed and transferred ownership over the same when it executed the certificate of
redemption to and in the name of the petitioner Arturo Serrano. As the Latin maxim goes: NEMO
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM has caused this DAT QUOD NON HABET.
instrument to be executed by its Director, Atty. Roque M. Fernando, Jr., at the City of Manila, We are not convinced by the ratiocination of the respondents that the enforcement of the
Philippines, this _______ day of ______, 19__. summary decision of the trial court and the alias writ of execution against them is unjust and
unreasonable.
GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM
Mortgagee-Purchaser The Spouses Geli and the respondents, as heirs and successors-in-interest of the said
spouses, were obliged under the deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of mortgage to
By: Sgd. pay to the GSIS the balance of the petitioners account. The Spouses Geli reneged on their
ROQUE M. FERNANDO, JR. undertaking. The petitioners were impelled to secure the services of counsel and sue the Spouses
Geli with the RTC for the rescission of the said deed with damages. The respondent spouses petitioners Spouses Serrano are obliged to refund to the respondents, as heirs of Emilio S. Geli,
nevertheless remained adamant and refused to pay the petitioners account with the GSIS which the amount of P67,701.84 to be deducted from the amount due to the petitioners under the
impelled the latter to foreclose the real estate mortgage and sell the property at public September 6, 1984 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-24790.
auction. Emilio Geli and the respondents did not inform the CA and the petitioners that Emilio
Geli had paid the amount of P67,701.84 for the account of the petitioners. The respondents even SO ORDERED.
allowed their appeal to be dismissed by the CA, and the dismissal to become final and
executory. The petitioners were impelled to spend money for their counsel and for sheriffs fees
for the implementation of the writ of execution and the alias writ of execution issued by the trial
court. In the meantime, the respondents remained in possession of the property from 1969,
when the said deed of absolute sale with partial assumption of mortgage was executed, up to the
present, or for a period of 34 years without paying a single centavo. For the Court to allow the
respondents to benefit from their own wrong would run counter to the maxim: Ex Dolo Malo Non
Oritur Actio (No man can be allowed to found a claim upon his own wrongdoing). [32] Equity is
applied only in the absence of and never against statutory law or judicial rules of
procedure.[33] We reiterate our ruling that:

Justice is done according to law. As a rule, equity follows the law. There may be a moral
obligation, often regarded as an equitable consideration (meaning compassion), but if there is no
enforceable legal duty, the action must fail although the disadvantaged party deserves
commiseration or sympathy.

The choice between what is legally just and what is morally just, when these two options do not
coincide, is explained by Justice Moreland in Vales v. Villa, 35 Phil. 769, 788 where he said:

Courts operate not because one person has been defeated or overcome by another, but because
he has been defeated or overcome illegally. Men may do foolish things, make ridiculous
contracts, use miserable judgment, and lose money by themindeed, all they have in the world;
but not for that alone can the law intervene and restore. There must be in addition, a violation of
law, the commission of what the law knows as an actionable wrong before the courts are
authorized to lay hold of the situation and remedy it. (Rural Bank of Paraaque, Inc. v.
Remolado, 62051, March 18, 1985) (135 SCRA 409, 412).[34]

In sum then, the respondents, as heirs of Emilio Geli, are obliged to vacate the subject
property. However, since the petitioners were benefited to the extent of P67,701.84 which was
the total amount paid by Emilio Geli to the GSIS as redemption price for the foreclosed property,
the petitioners are obliged to refund the said amount to the respondents.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of the
Court of Appeals dated May 12, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No. 45573 is SET ASIDE AND REVERSED. The
THIRD DIVISION Fortune Tobacco, Inc. (Fortune Tobacco), filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal
dismissal and various monetary claims against petitioner and Fortune Tobacco, docketed as
NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-02-01148-95.
On June 11, 1998, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision, the dispositive portion of which
[G.R. No. 151325. June 27, 2005]
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, all the respondents except Antonio Cabangon Chua are
D ARMOURED SECURITY AND INVESTIGATION AGENCY, INC., petitioner, vs. ARNULFO jointly and severally liable to pay complainants the total sum of ONE MILLION SEVENTY SEVEN
ORPIA, LODUVICO ABUCEJO, ROWEL AGURO, EFREN ALMOETE, ROMEO AMISTA, THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR AND TWENTY NINE CENTAVOS (P1,077,124.29) for
WARLITO BALAGOSA, ROMEO BALINGBING, RAMON BARROA, MONTECLARO underpayment, overtime pay, legal holiday pay, service incentive leave pay, 13th month pay,
BATAWIL, ARNEL BON, RICARDO CAPENTES, DANILO DADA, JOEL DELA CRUZ, illegal deduction and refund of firearms bond, as indicated in Annex A.
HERNANO DELOS REYES, FLORENTINO DELOS TRINO, ROGELIO DUERME, NONITO
ESTRELLADO, JOSEPH FALCESO, ISIDRO FLORES, VICTOR GUNGON, SONNY JULBA, Finally, ten (10%) percent of all sums owing to complainants is hereby awarded as attorneys
PATRICIO LACANA, JR., FELIX LASCONA, JUANITO LUNA, RAUL LUZADAS, ROMMEL fees.
MAGBANUA, ROGELIO MARIBUNG, NICOLAS MENDOZA, EZVENER OGANA, RICKY
ORANO, REYNALDO OZARAGA, SAMUEL PADILLA, EDWIN PARRENO, IRENEO SO ORDERED.
PARTOLAN, JUAN PIGTUAN, GUILLERMO PUSING, RODEL SIBAL, SILVESTRE
SOLEDAD, JOVENAR TEVER, VIRGILIO TIMAJO, ERMILIO TOMARONG, JR., VIRGILIO From the said Decision, Fortune Tobacco interposed an appeal to the National Labor
VERDEFLOR and JOEREX VICTORINO, respondents. Relations Commission (NLRC). Petitioner did not appeal. On March 26, 1999, the NLRC rendered
its Decision affirming with modification the assailed Arbiters Decision in the sense that the
DECISION complaint against Fortune Tobacco was dismissed. This Decision became final and executory.
Thus, the award specified in the Decision of the Arbiter became the sole liability of petitioner.
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
The records were then remanded to the Arbiter for execution.
For resolution is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Upon respondents motion, the Arbiter issued a writ of execution. Eventually, the sheriff
Procedure, as amended, assailing the Decision[1] dated December 18, 2001 rendered by the Court served a writ of garnishment upon the Chief Accountant of Foremost Farms, Inc., a corporation
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 61799, entitled DArmoured Security and Investigation Agency, Inc. vs. with whom petitioner has an existing services agreement. Thus, petitioners receivables with
National Labor Relations Commission, Arbiter Ariel C. Santos, NLRC Sheriff Ricardo Perona, Arnulfo Foremost were garnished.
Orpia, Ludovico Abucejo, Rowel Aguro, Efren Almoete, Romeo Amista, Warlito Balgosa, Romeo
Balingbing, Ramon Barroa, Monteclaro Batawil, Arnel Bon, Ricardo Capentes, Danilo Dada, Joel Petitioner filed with the NLRC a Motion to Quash/Recall Writ of Execution and Garnishment
dela Cruz, Hernando delos Reyes, Florentino delos Trino, Rogelio Duerme, Nonito Estrellado, Joseph which was opposed by respondents.
Falceso, Isidro Flores, Victor Gungon, Sonny Julba, Patricio Lacana, Jr., Felix Lascona, Juanito Luna,
Raul Lozadas, Rommel Magbanua, Rogelio Maribung, Nicolas Mendoza, Ezvener Ogana, Ricky On March 10, 2000, the Arbiter issued an Order denying the motion and directing the sheriff
Orano, Reynaldo Ozaraga, Samuel Padilla, Edwin Parreno, Ireneo Partolan, Juan Pigtuan, Guillermo to release the garnished sum of money to respondents pro rata.
Pusing, Rodel Sibal, Silvestre Soledad, Jovener Tever, Virgilio Timajo, Emilio Tomarong, Jr., Virgilio Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied, hence, it interposed an appeal to the
Verdeflor and Joerex Victorino. NLRC.
On February 9, 1995, the above-named respondents, who were employed as security
guards by DArmoured Security and Investigation Agency, Inc., petitioner, and assigned to
In a Resolution dated July 27, 2000, the NLRC dismissed the appeal for petitioners failure to (e) The professional libraries of attorneys, judges, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, engineers,
post a bond within the reglementary period. Its motion for reconsideration was denied in a surveyors, clergymen, teachers, and other professionals, not exceeding the amount fixed by law;
Resolution dated September 25, 2000.
Forthwith, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition (f) So much of the earnings of the losing party for his personal services within the month
with prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. preceding the levy as are necessary for the support of his family;

In a Decision dated December 18, 2001, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. (g) All monies, benefits, privileges, or annuities accruing or in any manner growing out of any life
insurance;
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.
In this petition, the issue posed is whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that (h) Tools and instruments necessarily used by him in his trade or employment of a value not
petitioners monthly receivables from the Foremost Farms, Inc. (garnishee) are not exempt from exceeding three thousand (P3,000.00) pesos;
execution.
The petition lacks merit. We have ruled that an order of execution of a final and (i) Other properties especially exempted by law.
executory judgment, as in this case, is not appealable, otherwise, there would be no end to
litigation.[2] On this ground alone, the instant petition is dismissible. The above Rule clearly enumerates what properties are exempt from execution. It is
apparent that the exemption pertains only to natural persons and not to juridical entities. On this
Assuming that an appeal is proper, still we have to deny the instant petition. Section 1, Rule point, the Court of Appeals correctly ruled that petitioner, being a corporate entity, does not fall
IV of the NLRC Manual on Execution of Judgment provides: within the exemption, thus:

Rule IV We cannot accede to petitioners position that the garnished amount is exempt from execution.

EXECUTION Section 13 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court is plain and clear on what properties are exempt from
execution. Section 13 (i) of the Rules pertinently reads:
SECTION 1. Properties exempt from execution. Only the properties of the losing party shall be
the subject of execution, except: SECTION 13. Property exempt from execution. Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, the
following property, and no other, shall be exempt from execution:
(a) The losing partys family home constituted in accordance with the Civil Code or Family Code
or as may be provided for by law or in the absence thereof, the homestead in which he resides, xxxxxxxxx
and land necessarily used in connection therewith, subject to the limits fixed by law;
(i) So much of the salaries, wages or earnings of the judgment obligor for
(b) His necessary clothing, and that of his family; his personal services within the four months preceding the levy as are
necessary for the support of his family.
(c) Household furniture and utensils necessary for housekeeping, and used for that purpose by
the losing party such as he may select, of a value not exceeding the amount fixed by law; The exemption under this procedural rule should be read in conjunction with the Civil Code, the
substantive law which proscribes the execution of employees wages, thus:
(d) Provisions for individual or family use sufficient for three (3) months;
ART. 1708. The laborers wage shall not be subject to execution or attachment, except for debts WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated December 18, 2001 of
incurred for food, shelter, clothing and medical attendance. the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 61799 is AFFIRMED IN TOTO. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Obviously, the exemption under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court and Article 1708 of the New Civil
Code is meant to favor only laboring men or women whose works are manual. Persons belonging
to this class usually look to the reward of a days labor for immediate or present support, and
such persons are more in need of the exemption than any other [Gaa vs. Court of Appeals, 140
SCRA 304 (1985)].

In this context, exemptions under this rule are confined only to natural persons and not to
juridical entities such as petitioner. Thus, the rule speaks of salaries, wages and earning from
the personal services rendered by the judgment obligor. The rule further requires that such
earnings be intended for the support of the judgment debtors family.

Necessarily, petitioner which is a corporate entity, does not fall under the exemption. If at all, the
exemption refers to petitioners individual employees and not to petitioner as a corporation.

x x x. Parenthetically, in a parallel case where a security agency claimed that the guns it gives to
its guards are tools and implements exempt from execution, the Supreme Court had the occasion
to rule that the exemption pertains only to natural and not to juridical persons, thus:

However, it would appear that the exemption contemplated by the provision involved is
personal, available only to a natural person, such as a dentists dental chair and electric fan (Belen
v. de Leon, G.R. No. L-15612, 30 Nov. 1962). As pointed out by the Solicitor General, if properties
used in business are exempt from execution, there can hardly be an instance when a judgment
claim can be enforced against the business entity [Pentagon Security and Investigation Agency vs.
Jimenez, 192 SCRA 492 (1990)].

It stands to reason that only natural persons whose salaries, wages and earnings are
indispensable for his own and that of his familys support are exempted under Section 13 (i) of
Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Undeniably, a corporate entity such as petitioner security agency is
not covered by the exemption.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION 1999, the bank granted the spouses Digos a period of one month from September 8, 1999 (or
until October 8, 1999) within which to redeem the property. However, the bank consolidated its
title over the property, and on September 19, 1999, the Register of Deeds issued TCT No. 206979
in the name of the bank.
[G.R. No. 157616. July 22, 2005]
Instead of repurchasing the property on or before October 8, 1999, the spouses Digos filed a
Complaint[6] against the bank on October 7, 1999 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon
City, for the nullification of the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and sale at
public auction and/or redemption of the property, with a prayer for a temporary restraining
ISIDRO PEREZ and NARCISO A. RAGUA, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON.
order and a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the bank from consolidating its title over the
VIVENCIO S. BACLIG and SPOUSES GAUDENCIO DIGOS, JR. and RHODORA
property. The spouses Digos also sought judgment for damages.
DIGOS, respondents.
In their complaint, the spouses Digos alleged, inter alia, that they were denied their right to
DECISION due process because the foreclosure of the real estate mortgage was extrajudicial; the sale of
their property at public auction was without prior notice to them; the property was sold for
CALLEJO, SR., J.: only P4,500,000.00, the balance of their account with the bank, but about 400% lower than the
prevailing price of the property; the bank rejected their plea for a five-month extension to
The spouses Gaudencio Digos, Jr. and Rhodora Digos secured a loan of P5,800,000.00 from redeem, and their offer of P1,000,000.00 in partial payment of their loan account to reduce the
the International Exchange Bank in December 1996, to finance their project for the construction same to P3,500,000.00, but the bank granted them an extension of only one month to redeem the
of townhouses on their property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 168790 property, designed to divest them of the same and enrich some characters at their expense;
located in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. To secure the payment of the loan, the spouses Digos because of the foregoing acts of the bank, they suffered sleepless nights, nervous tension and the
executed a Real Estate Mortgage over the said property. However, the completion of their project rise in their blood pressure for which they were entitled to moral damages in the amount
was delayed, partly because some homeowners in the Pillarville Subdivision (which abutted the of P500,000.00, aside from the exemplary damages they were entitled to in the amount
subject property) refused to allow them to build an access road through the subdivision to the of P100,000.00.
property. Thus, the equipment to be used for the project could not pass through the Pillarville
Subdivision. The spouses Digos prayed for a temporary restraining order to enjoin the bank from
consolidating its title over the property, and that judgment be rendered in their favor, thus:
Because of the spouses Digos failure to pay the amortizations on their loan, the bank caused
the extrajudicial foreclosure of their real estate mortgage. Consequently, the property was sold at 2. Ordering the defendant Bank to allow plaintiffs to redeem their property;
public auction, with the bank as the highest bidder at P4,500,000.00, which appeared to be the 3. Making the writ of injunction permanent;
account of the spouses Digos at the time. The Certificate of Sale executed by the sheriff was,
thereafter, registered at the Office of the Register of Deeds on September 7, 1998.[1] 4. Ordering the defendant Bank to pay moral damages of P500,000.00;

In the meantime, the spouses Digos referred the matter of the right of way to 5. Ordering defendant Bank to pay exemplary damages of P200,000.00;
the barangay captain for settlement. Due to the vehement objections of some Pillarville
6. Ordering defendant Bank to pay attorneys fee of P30,000.00 plus P2,000.00 for
Subdivision homeowners, the barangay captain failed to resolve the matter.[2]
every appearance in Court;
On July 2, 1999, the spouses Digos wrote the bank, requesting for a period of six (6) months
from September 7, 1999 within which to redeem the property.[3] However, the bank denied the Plaintiffs further pray for such other reliefs and remedies available within the premises. [7]
request. On August 3, 1999, the spouses again wrote to the bank, pleading for an extension of at
least three (3) months to redeem the property.[4] In a Letter[5] to the spouses dated August 30,
The case (first complaint, for brevity) was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-38941. The On June 4, 2001, the spouses Digos filed a Complaint[13] with the RTC of Quezon City, this
spouses Digos caused the annotation of a notice of lis pendens at the dorsal portion of TCT No. time, against the bank, Perez and Ragua, for the cancellation and annulment of the extrajudicial
206979. The trial court, however, did not issue a temporary restraining order or writ of foreclosure of the real estate mortgage executed by them in favor of the bank, the sale at public
preliminary injunction. auction as well as the certificate of sale executed by the sheriff, and the Torrens title issued to
them. The spouses Digos prayed for a writ of preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining
Meanwhile, the bank filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and for the cancellation of the order. The petitory portion of the complaint reads:
notice of lis pendens on the following grounds:
1. The action for injunction has already been rendered moot and academic, title to the WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that
foreclosed property having been consolidated in iBanks name; immediately upon the filing of the instant complaint, a temporary restraining order be issued,
and after hearing, a writ of preliminary injunction issue, enjoining defendants PEREZ and RAGUA
2. Assuming arguendo that title to the foreclosed property has not yet been from further disposing of the subject property.
consolidated, still plaintiffs have no cause of action for injunction against iBank.[8]
The spouses Digos opposed the motion. The bank filed a reply, appending thereto a copy of Likewise, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that, after due hearing, judgment
TCT No. 206979 in its name. be rendered ordering the CANCELLATION and ANNULMENT of the extrajudicial foreclosure of
sale, the Sheriffs Certificate of Sale and the consolidated title under the name of defendant bank,
In an Order dated December 9, 1999, the trial court granted the motion and dismissed the as well as the transfer certificate/s of title issued or under the name of defendants iBANK, PEREZ
complaint. It found that the spouses Digos admitted in their complaint that the period for the and RAGUA;
redemption of the property was about to expire, and that they were given up to October 8, 1999
within which to do so. The court held that it had no authority to extend the period for
Further, it is most respectfully prayed also that judgment be rendered ordering the defendants:
redemption, and since it had already expired, the spouses had no more right to redeem the
property; as such, the defendant had the right to consolidate its title over the property, and had,
in fact, been issued TCT No. 206979. The court also declared that the spouses Digos had no right 1. to pay plaintiffs the amount of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND [PESOS] (P500,000.00), as and by
to demand that they be allowed to redeem the property. way of actual expenses:

Finally, since the act sought to be enjoined the consolidation of the banks title was 2. to pay plaintiffs the amount of ONE MILLION AND FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
already fait accompli, the spouses Digos had no cause of action for injunction. [9] The trial court (P1,500,000.00), as and by way of moral damages;
ruled that a writ of injunction cannot issue to enjoin a consummated act. [10] It, thus, ordered the
cancellation of the notice of lis pendens annotated at the dorsal portion of TCT No. 206979.
3. to pay plaintiffs the amount of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00), as and by
The spouses Digos failed to appeal the order; instead, they filed a petition for certiorari with way of exemplary damages;
the Court of Appeals (CA), assailing the Order of the RTC. The CA dismissed the petition because
it was filed out of time. The petitioners then filed a motion for reconsideration thereof, which 4. to pay plaintiffs the amount of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00), as and by
they later withdrew via a motion. The CA then resolved to grant the motion; hence, the CA way of attorneys fees; and,
resolution dismissing the petition became final and executory on May 7, 2001. Entry of judgment
was made of record.[11] 5. to pay the expenses of litigation and costs of suit.
Meanwhile, the bank sold the property to Isidro Perez and Narciso Ragua to whom the
Register of Deeds issued TCT No. 211888. The vendees caused the subdivision of the property Plaintiffs further pray for other reliefs, just and equitable, under the circumstances. [14]
into eighteen (18) lots. The Register of Deeds issued titles for each subdivision lot in favor of
Perez and Ragua.[12]
The spouses Digos reiterated the allegations in their complaint in Civil Case No. Q-99-38941 spouses Digos already assailed the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and the
that they were not notified of the sale at public auction, and that the banks P4,500,000.00 bid for sale of the property at public auction on account of lack of due process and arbitrary abuse in
the property was unconscionably low compared to the prevailing market price their first complaint; they again sought to do so in this case, this time grounded on the invalid
of P25,000,000.00. They also admitted their failure to pay their amortization on their loans. foreclosure of the real estate mortgage, and the sale at public auction of the property for an
However, they alleged this time that the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and amount in excess of the balance of the loan account. The bank argued that, in so doing, the
the sale at public auction were illegal because the bank charged much more than the amount spouses Digos were guilty of splitting a single cause of action which is proscribed by Rule 2,
due on their loan account, to wit: interest of 26% per annum on the loan account covering Section 4 of the Rules of Court; they were, likewise, barred by res judicata from filing the second
January 2, 1998, whereas under the promissory note executed in favor of the bank, the new complaint for the same causes of action, even if additional defendants were impleaded.
interest rate should commence only on March 4, 1993; penalty charges of 26% of the account, Consequently, the spouses Digos were also guilty of forum shopping.[17]
and 5% penalty charges on top of the 26% interest per annum, as shown by the banks statement
of account. The spouses Digos also averred that although they pleaded for a restructuring of their Perez and Ragua filed a motion to dismiss on similar grounds of res judicata, splitting of a
loan account and a moratorium on the payment of their account, they were unaware of the single cause of action and forum shopping.[18]
erroneous computation of the balance of their loan account. They maintained that the banks On June 29, 2001, the trial court issued an Order[19] denying the motion, ruling that there
consolidation of its title over the property on September 19, 1999 was premature because they was no identity of issue in the two actions because, in the second complaint (docketed as Civil
were given until October 8, 1999 to redeem the property. Case No. Q-01-44227), the spouses Digos assailed the legality of the extrajudicial foreclosure, on
The spouses Digos also alleged that as a consequence of the banks acts, they incurred actual the sole ground that the bank had unlawfully increased their obligation, contrary to the terms
damages of P500,000.00, sustained moral damages of P1,500,000.00, and were entitled to and conditions of the loan contract. The court held that the causes of action in the two
exemplary damages for P100,000.00.[15] complaints were not identical: in the first case, it was for the redemption of the mortgaged
property, distinct and separate from their cause of action in the second case which is rooted on
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-01-44227. The defendant bank filed a motion to the erroneous computation of the balance of their loan account with the bank. The court also
dismiss the complaint on the following grounds: declared that in the first complaint, the spouses Digos assailed the validity or regularity of the
extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and the sale at public auction. Consequently,
A. THE PLAINTIFFS HAVE NO CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST DEFENDANTS, THEY the court concluded, the complaint was not barred by res judicata; nor are they guilty of forum
BEING ESTOPPED FROM QUESTIONING THE REGULARITY OF THE shopping.
EXTRAJUDICIAL FORECLOSURE SALE.
The trial court denied the defendants motion for reconsideration in its Order[20] dated
B. PLAINTIFFS HAVE VIOLATED THE RULE AGAINST SPLITTING A SINGLE CAUSE OF December 6, 2001; hence, they filed a petition[21] for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with
ACTION UNDER SECTION 4, RULE 2 OF THE RULES OF COURT IN INSTITUTING the CA, alleging therein that the respondent judge committed a grave abuse of his discretion
THE INSTANT CASE. amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in denying their motion to dismiss the complaint.
C. PLAINTIFFS ARE GUILTY OF FORUM SHOPPING. On November 25, 2002, the CA rendered judgment dismissing the petition and affirming the
D. PLAINTIFFS ARE GUILTY OF FALSE CERTIFICATION AGAINST FORUM SHOPPING, assailed orders. The appellate court declared that there was no identity of causes of action in the
IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 5, RULE 7 OF THE RULES OF COURT.[16] two cases because the first action was one for injunction and redemption of the property,
whereas the second action was for the nullification of the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real
The bank alleged that the spouses Digos admitted in their complaint that, after the estate mortgage and the sale at public auction due to the erroneous computation of the balance
extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and the sale of the property at public on the respondents account with the bank; hence, the spouses Digos were not estopped from
auction, they pleaded to redeem the property but failed to do so and were granted a one-month filing their second action.[22] The petitioners filed a motion for a reconsideration of the said
extension. The bank averred that, based on the said allegations, the spouses were estopped from decision, which the appellate court denied.[23]
assailing the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage, the sale at public auction and
the Torrens title issued to it; hence, they had no cause of action. It further alleged that the
Petitioners Isidro Perez and Narciso Ragua forthwith filed the instant petition for review Splitting a single cause of action consists in dividing a single or indivisible cause of action
on certiorari, raising the following issues: into several parts or claims and instituting two or more actions therein. [25] A single cause of
action or entire claim or demand cannot be split up or divided so as to be made the subject of
WHETHER OR NOT THE JUDGMENT IN CIVIL CASE NO. Q-99-[38941] (REDEMPTION OF two or more different actions.[26]
MORTGAGE) IS RES JUDICATA TO CIVIL CASE NO. Q-01-44227 (CANCELLATION AND A single act or omission may be violative of various rights at the same time, such as when
ANNULMENT OF FORECLOSURE SALE)? the act constitutes a violation of separate and distinct legal obligations. [27] The violation of each
of these rights is a cause of action in itself. However, if only one right may be violated by several
WHETHER OR NOT THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ARE ALREADY ESTOPPED FROM ATTACKING acts or omissions, there would only be one cause of action. Otherwise stated, if two separate and
THE VALIDITY OF THE FORECLOSURE SALE?[24] distinct primary rights are violated by one and the same wrong; or if the single primary right
should be violated by two distinct and separate legal wrongs; or when the two primary rights are
It is the contention of the petitioners that the private respondents (the plaintiffs in both each broken by a separate and distinct wrongs; in either case, two causes of action would
actions in the RTC) are guilty of splitting their cause of action. The petitioners point out that the result.[28] Causes of action which are distinct and independent, although arising out of the same
private respondents failed to pray for the nullification of the extrajudicial foreclosure and sale at contract, transaction or state of fact may be sued separately, recovery on one being no bar to
public auction in their first action, and did so only in their second complaint. For such failure, the subsequent actions on the others.
second action was barred by res judicata, conformably with Section 4, Rule 2 of the Rules of
Court. The petitioners point out that the issue of the computation of the respondents balance on The mere fact that the same relief is sought in the subsequent action will not render the
their loan account had already been passed upon and resolved by the court in the first case, and, judgment in the prior action as res judicata.[29] Causes of action are not distinguishable for
as such, can no longer be assailed in the second case. The petitioners likewise maintain that the purposes of res judicata by difference in the claims for relief.[30]
validity of the foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and sale at public auction was raised and Comparing the material averments of the two complaints, it would appear that separate
resolved in the first case. The petitioners insist that the private respondents were barred from primary rights of the respondents were violated by the banks institution of a petition for
assailing the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and the sale at public auction of extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and the sale at public auction; hence, the
the property in favor of the bank. They further point out that the private respondents repeatedly respondents had separate and independent causes of action against the bank, to wit: (a) the first
requested the bank for extensions to redeem the property; such requests were eventually complaint relates to the violation by the bank of the right to a judicial, not extrajudicial,
granted but the private respondents still failed to redeem the property. foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and for an extension of the period for the respondents to
For their part, the private respondents aver that their action in the first case was for the redeem the property with damages; (b) the second complaint relates to the breach by the bank
grant of an extension to redeem the property and avert the banks act of consolidating its title of its loan contract with the respondents by causing the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real
over the property, while their action in the second case was for the nullification of the estate mortgage for P4,500,000.00 which was in excess of their unpaid account with the bank.
extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage and the sale of the property at public auction However, we are convinced that the institution by the respondents of their second
on account of the arbitrary, unlawful and baseless imposition of unconscionable re-priced complaint anchored on their claim that the bank breached its loan contracts with them by
interest rates on their loan account. They aver that there can be no conclusiveness of judgment in erroneously computing the actual and correct balance of their account when the petition for
the first action because the issues in the two cases are not identical. They insist that the issues in extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage was filed by it designed to avert the
the first case are not being relitigated in the second case; hence, their second action is not barred dismissal of their complaint due to splitting causes of action and res judicata, following the
by res judicata, nor did they split their cause of action. dismissal of their first complaint and the dismissal of their appeal through their negligence. The
Court is constrained to conclude that this was a last-ditch attempt to resuscitate their lost cause,
a brazen violation of the principle of res judicata.
The Ruling of the Court Section 49(b)(c), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides in part:
SEC. 49. Effect of judgments. The effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a court or judge Indeed, absolute identity of parties is not a condition sine qua non for the application of res
of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or order, may be as follows: judicata. It is sufficient that there is a shared identity of interest. [36] The rule is that, even if new
parties are found in the second action, res judicata still applies if the party against whom the
(b) In other cases the judgment or order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to judgment is offered in evidence was a party in the first action; otherwise, a case can always be
any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties renewed by the mere expedience of joining new parties in the new suit.[37]
and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or special The ultimate test to ascertain identity of causes of action is whether or not the same
proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity. evidence fully supports and establishes both the first and second cases. The application of the
doctrine of res judicata cannot be excused by merely varying the form of the action or engaging a
(c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their successors in interest, that only is different method of presenting the issue.[38]
deemed to have been adjudged in a former judgment which appears upon its face to have been so
adjudged, or which was actually and necessarily included therein or necessary thereto. Section 49(c) of Rule 39 enumerates the concept of conclusiveness of judgment. This is the
second branch, otherwise known as collateral estoppel or estoppel by verdict. This applies
Section 49(b) enunciates the first concept of res judicata, known as bar by prior judgment where, between the first case wherein judgment is rendered and the second case wherein such
or estoppel by judgment, which refers to a theory or matter that has been definitely and finally judgment is involved, there is no identity of causes of action. As explained by this Court:
settled on its merits by a court of competent jurisdiction without fraud or collusion.
It has been held that in order that a judgment in one action can be conclusive as to a particular
There are four (4) essential requisites which must concur for the application of this matter in another action between the same parties or their privies, it is essential that the issues
doctrine: be identical. If a particular point or question is in issue in the second action, and the judgment
will depend on the determination of that particular point or question, a former judgment
(a) finality of the former judgment; between the same parties will be final and conclusive in the second if that same point or question
was in issue and adjudicated in the first suit; but the adjudication of an issue in the first case is
(b) the court which rendered it had jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; not conclusive of an entirely different and distinct issue arising in the second. In order that this
rule may be applied, it must clearly and positively appear, either from the record itself or by the
(c) it must be a judgment on the merits; and aid of competent extrinsic evidence that the precise point or question in issue in the second suit
was involved and decided in the first. And in determining whether a given question was an issue
in the prior action, it is proper to look behind the judgment to ascertain whether the evidence
(d) there must be, between the first and second actions, identity of parties, subject matter
necessary to sustain a judgment in the second action would have authorized a judgment for the
and causes of action.[31]
same party in the first action.[39]

A judgment or order is on the merits of the case when it determines the rights and liabilities
In the present case, before the private respondents filed their first complaint, they already
of the parties based on the ultimate facts as disclosed by the pleadings or issues presented for
knew that the balance of their account with the bank was P4,500,000.00. They even offered to
trial. It is not necessary that a trial, actual hearing or argument on the facts of the case ensued.
make a P1,000,000.00 partial payment of their loan to reduce their account to P3,500,000.00.
For as long as the parties had the full legal opportunity to be heard on their respective claims and
These are gleaned from the averments in the first complaint:
contentions, the judgment or order is on the merits.[32] An order of the trial court on the ground
that the complaint does not state a cause of action is a determination of the case on its
merits.[33] Such order whether right or wrong bars another action based upon the same cause of 7. That the long process of negotiation for the right-of-way has unnecessarily delayed the project
action.[34] The operation of the order as res judicata is not affected by a mere right of appeal of the plaintiffs and has nearly caused the foreclosure of the mortgage property by the private
where the appeal has not been taken or by an appeal which never has been perfected. [35] defendant Bank, however, the said foreclosure was held in abeyance when plaintiffs offered to
pay the additional amount of P1,000,000.00 which should leave a balance of the loan in the
amount of P3,500,000.00;[40]
10. That as the auction sale was highly irregular, obviously, the only bidder is the defendant Bank Dear Sir:
for the price limited to the remaining balance of the loan in the amount of P4,500,000.00, no
more, no less;[41] Your deadline of September 7, 1999 is already fast approaching. Our action program to redeem
the property has been stalled due to the infighting of the homeowners association members. We
More telling is the private respondents failure to object to the extrajudicial foreclosure of were not permitted to build access road to the property. They wont allow our equipment to pass
the real estate mortgage and the sale at public auction; they even pleaded to be allowed to and start work unless we get the approval of all the members. At present, there are two factions
redeem the property after it had already been sold at public auction. Patently then, the and they are at odds with each. Either side does not recognize the existence of the other. Our
respondents were proscribed from claiming that the foreclosure of the real estate mortgage was only option at the moment is to go to court and you know very well that this takes time.
for an amount in excess of the balance of their account and that the sale at public auction was
irregular/illegal. As the Court held in Aclon v. Court of Appeals:[42] Our interested buyers wont budge unless they see improvements in the property like in place
drainage system and access road. We are ready to start work, however, the association has
In the absence of evidence proving that a judgment debtor was merely trying to protect himself prevented us based on [the] above-stated reasons.
or save his property, and that no reliance could or should have been placed upon his action in so
doing, an attempt to redeem from an execution sale has been construed as a waiver of defects or We have no other alternative but to once again appeal to you. We respectfully request for an
irregularities therein, precluding him from relying upon them for the purpose of challenging its extension of six months from September 7, 1999 to enable us to sort the association problem by
validity. When Aclon sought to redeem his property from PNB he never made any reservation court proceedings and place in motion our action program to redeem the property.
with respect to his right to question the validity of the auction sale and to seek alternative relief
before the courts. In other words, there was no indication whatsoever that he does not recognize We pray that your kind heart will once again grant our request.
the validity of the sale. If petitioner indeed felt that the assailed foreclosure proceedings were
attended with any irregularity he should have filed the appropriate action with the court.
Instead, he offered to repurchase the subject properties without any condition or reservation. Thank you very much.
Nevertheless, Aclon failed to comply with his undertaking and instead defaulted in his
subsequent payments. Very truly yours,

Redemption is inconsistent with the claim of invalidity of the sale. Redemption is an implied (Sgd.)
admission of the regularity of the sale and would estop the respondents from later impugning its GAUDENCIO DIGOS[44]
validity on that ground.[43]Thus, the private respondents pleas for extensions of time to redeem If indeed the bank made an erroneous computation of the balance of their account as
the subject property are of the same genre. claimed by the private respondents in their second complaint, this should have been alleged in
The private respondents admitted in their complaint in the first case that the bank only the first complaint as one of their causes of action. They failed to do so. The private respondents
gave a one-month extension to redeem the property. Indeed, they made this declaration in their unequivocably admitted in their first complaint that the balance of their account with the bank
letter to the bank, dated July 2, 1999, copy of which was appended to their complaint (and thus was P4,500,000.00 which was the precise amount for which the bank sought the foreclosure of
made an integral part thereof), to wit: the real estate mortgage and the sale of the property at public auction; they even sought judicial
recourse to enable them to redeem the property despite the lapse of the one-year period
Mr. Sonny Justiniano therefor.
Acquired Assets
International Exchange Bank Relying on these admissions on the part of the private respondents, and the fact that the
Salcedo Tower bank has already consolidated its title over the property, the Court thus dismissed their first
169 H.V. De la Costa St., complaint. The Order of the Court dismissing the first complaint is a judgment of the case on the
Salcedo Village, Makati City merits.
The attempt of the respondents in their second complaint to avoid the application of the of the grounds upon which a special relief is sought and leave the rest to the presentment in a
principle of res judicata by claiming the nature of their account on the ground therefor and their second suit if the first fails. There would be no end to litigation if such piecemeal presentation is
legal theory cannot prosper. Case law has it that where a right, question or fact is distinctly put in allowed.[54]
issue and directly determined by a court of competent jurisdiction in a first case, between the
same parties or their privies, the former adjudication of that fact, right or question is binding on IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution
the parties or their privies in a second suit irrespective of whether the causes of action are the of the Court of Appeals and the assailed Order of the RTC are SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial
same.[45] The ruling of the CA that the action of the private respondents and their legal theory in Court is ORDERED to dismiss the complaint in Civil Case No. Q-01-44227.
their second complaint were different from their causes of action and legal theory in the first SO ORDERED.
complaint is not correct. A different cause of action is one that proceeds not only on a sufficiently
different legal theory, but also on a different factual footing as not to require the trial of facts
material to the former suit; that is, an action that can be maintained even if all disputed factual
issues raised in the plaintiffs original complaint are concluded in defendants favor. [46]
In this case, the private respondents second complaint cannot be maintained without trying
the facts material to the first case, and the second case cannot be maintained if all the disputed
factual issues raised in the first complaint are considered in favor of the bank.
The principle of res judicata applies when the opportunity to raise an issue in the first
complaint exists but the plaintiff failed to do so. Indeed, if the pleading of a different legal theory
would have convinced the trial court to decide a particular issue in the first action which, with
the use of diligence the plaintiffs could have raised therein but failed to do so, they are barred
by res judicata.[47] Nor do legal theories operate to constitute a cause of action. New legal theories
do not amount to a new cause of action so as to defeat the application of the principle of res
judicata.[48]
Indeed, in Siegel v. Knott,[49] it was held that the statement of a different form of liability is
not a different cause of action, provided it grows out of the same transaction or act and seeks
redress for the wrong. Two actions are not necessarily for different causes of action simply
because the theory of the second would not have been open under the pleadings in the first. A
party cannot preserve the right to bring a second action after the loss of the first, merely by
having circumscribed and limited theories of recovery opened by the pleadings in the first. [50]
It bears stressing that a party cannot divide the grounds for recovery. [51] A plaintiff is
mandated to place in issue in his pleading, all the issues existing when the suit began. A lawsuit
cannot be tried piecemeal.[52] The plaintiff is bound to set forth in his first action every ground
for relief which he claims to exist and upon which he relied, and cannot be permitted to rely
upon them by piecemeal in successive action to recover for the same wrong or injury. [53]
A party seeking to enforce a claim, legal or equitable, must present to the court, either by
the pleadings or proofs, or both, on the grounds upon which to expect a judgment in his favor. He
is not at liberty to split up his demands, and prosecute it by piecemeal or present only a portion
SECOND DIVISION sureties for the P22 million credit facilities, denominated as Omnibus Line and Bills Purchased
Line, earlier granted by petitioner to CASICO. Said credit line expired on June 30, 1998, but the
parties renewed the same for another year, subject to the following amendments: (1) a reduction
in the credit line from P22 million to P7.5 million; and (2) the relief of Toh, Sr., as one of the
[G.R. No. 144018. June 23, 2003] sureties of CASICO.
In its answer to private respondents complaint, petitioner bank averred that the debiting of
Tohs bank accounts was justified due to his surety undertaking in the event of the default of
CASICO in its payments. Petitioner further claimed that the reduction of credit line does not
FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST CO. (now BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS), petitioner, vs.
relieve Toh, Sr. from his continuing surety obligation, citing the absence of a new surety
TOMAS TOH, SR., AND REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, MANDALUYONG CITY, BRANCH
undertaking or any provisions in the renewal agreement releasing Toh, Sr., from his personal
214, respondents.
obligation. It pointed out that CASICOs default in its obligations became inevitable after CASICO
filed a Petition for Declaration in a State of Suspension of Payments before the Securities and
RESOLUTION Exchange Commission (SEC).
QUISUMBING, J.: On July 30, 1999, private respondent filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, which
petitioner opposed. On October 15, 1999, the lower court granted the aforesaid motion. In its
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari is the Resolution[1] dated June 26, 2000 of Order dated March 10, 2000, the lower court rendered a decision in favor of Toh, Sr., the
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 59234, which dismissed petitioners petition and affirmed dispositive portion of which reads:
the Order[2] dated May 26, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch
214 in Civil Case No. MC-99-643 granting private respondents motion for discretionary WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the defendant to restore immediately to
execution because of private respondents advanced age.Likewise challenged is the appellate plaintiffs savings/current accounts the amount of P2,560,644.68 plus the stipulated interest
courts Resolution[3] dated July 10, 2000, denying petitioners motion for reconsideration in CA- thereon from February 17, 1999, until fully restored; and to pay to the plaintiff the amount of
G.R. SP No. 59234. P100,000.00, as moral damages; and the amount of P50,000.00, as and by way of attorneys
The factual antecedents of this case, as culled from the records, are as follows: fees. With costs against the defendant.[4]

On March 17, 1999, Tomas Toh, Sr., private respondent herein, filed Civil Case No. MC-99- On March 29, 2000, Toh Sr., filed a Motion for Discretionary Execution by invoking Section
643 against petitioner Far East Bank & Trust Co. (FEBTCO now merged in Bank of the Philippine 2,[5] Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court. He prayed that execution pending appeal be granted
Islands), seeking recovery of his bank deposits with petitioner in the amount of P2,560,644.68 on the ground of old age and the probability that he may not be able to enjoy his money
plus damages. In his complaint, Toh claimed that petitioner had debited, without Tohs deposited in petitioners bank. Petitioner duly opposed said motion.
knowledge and consent, said amount from his savings and current accounts with petitioner bank
and then applied the money as payment for the Letters of Credit availed of by Catmon Sales On March 31, 2000, while private respondents motion was pending before the RTC,
International Corporation (CASICO) from petitioner. Thus, when Toh issued two checks to Anton petitioner filed a notice of appeal of the trial courts order of March 10, 2000.
Construction Supply, Inc., they were dishonored by FEBTCO allegedly for having been drawn On May 26, 2000, the RTC issued its order granting private respondents Motion for
against insufficient funds, although Toh alleged as of February 4, 1999, he had an outstanding Discretionary Execution, thus:
withdrawable balance of P2,560,644.68.
It appears that earlier on August 29, 1997, private respondent Tomas Toh, Sr., together with WHEREFORE, the motion for discretionary execution is GRANTED. The issuance of the
his sons, Tomas Tan Toh, Jr., and Antonio Tan Toh, had executed a Comprehensive Security corresponding writ of execution for the enforcement and satisfaction of the aforesaid decision
Agreement in favor of petitioner, wherein the Tohs jointly and severally bound themselves as against the defendant is hereby ordered.[6]
On May 30, 2000, petitioners appeal was given due course. civil action for certiorari may be given due course, notwithstanding that no motion for
reconsideration has been filed before the lower court under certain exceptional
In granting Tohs motion, the trial court held that discretionary execution may be issued circumstances.[12] These exceptions include instances where: (1) the issue raised is purely one of
upon good reasons by virtue of Section 2(a),[7] Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court. Citing De law; (2) public interest is involved; (3) the matter is one of urgency; (4) the question of
Leon v. Soriano,[8] where we held that the approach of the end of ones life span is a compelling jurisdiction was squarely raised, submitted to, met and decided by the lower court; and (5)
cause for discretionary execution pending appeal,[9] the trial court used the circumstance of Tohs where the order is a patent nullity.[13]
advanced age as a good reason to allow execution pending appeal.
Hence, the only relevant issue for our resolution now is whether the Court of Appeals erred
On June 16, 2000, petitioner decided to forego filing a motion for reconsideration of the trial in affirming the lower courts Order granting execution pending appeal on the ground of
courts order of May 26, 2000. Instead, it brought the matter to the Court of Appeals in a special advanced age of private respondent Tomas Toh, Sr.
civil action for certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 59234.
Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in finding no grave abuse of discretion
On June 26, 2000, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. SP No. 59234 as follows: on the part of the lower court when it granted the motion for discretionary execution based on
private respondents bare allegation that he was already 79 years old.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED. [10]
Private respondent avers that Section 2, Rule 49 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states
The Court of Appeals pointed out that petitioner filed its petition for certiorari without the requisites for a grant of a motion pending appeal. All these requirements and conditions
filing a motion for reconsideration. It held that the fact that the lower court already ordered the were complied with as evidenced by respondents motion for discretionary execution, petitioners
execution of its judgment did not constitute a situation of extreme urgency as to justify opposition to the motion and the special order issued by the Regional Trial Court stating the
petitioners by-passing the remedy of reconsideration. The appellate court declared it found no good reason for the grant of the motion. Hence, the Regional Trial Court could not have
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in granting discretionary execution. For committed any grave abuse of discretion.[14]
the trial court had determined that Toh Sr. was already 79 years old and given his advanced age, In our view, the Court of Appeals committed no reversible error in sustaining the lower
might not be able to enjoy the fruits of a judgment favorable to him if he were to wait for the court. Discretionary execution is permissible only when good reasons exist for immediately
eventual resolution of the appeal filed by petitioner. executing the judgment before finality or pending appeal or even before the expiration of the
Petitioner filed its Motion for Reconsideration but the Court of Appeals denied it on July 10, time to appeal. Good reasons are compelling circumstances justifying the immediate execution
2000. lest judgment becomes illusory, or the prevailing party may, after the lapse of time, become
unable to enjoy it, considering the tactics of the adverse party who may apparently have no case
Hence, this petition where petitioner submits the following issues for our resolution: except to delay.[15]
1) WHETHER OR NOT THE FILING OF A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS The Rules of Court does not state, enumerate, or give examples of good reasons to justify
NECESSARY BEFORE PETITIONER BANK CAN ASSAIL THE LOWER COURTS execution. The determination of what is a good reason must, necessarily, be addressed to the
ORDER DATED MAY 26, 2000 IN A SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION FOR CERTIORARI sound discretion of the trial court. In other words, the issuance of the writ of execution must
BEFORE THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS. necessarily be controlled by the judgment of the judge in accordance with his own conscience
and by a sense of justice and equity, free from the control of anothers judgment or conscience. It
2) WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN must be so for discretion implies the absence of a hard and fast rule.[16]
RULING THAT THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED NO GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN ISSUING THE ORDER OF MAY 26, 2000.[11] In this case, the trial court granted private respondents motion for discretionary execution
due to his advanced age, citing our ruling in De Leon v. Soriano.[17] It concluded that old age is a
At the outset, it bears stressing that the first issue is now moot. We find that the appellate good reason to allow execution pending appeal as any delay in the final disposition of the present
court did note petitioners procedural by-pass or oversight. Nonetheless it proceeded to rule on case may deny private respondent of his right to enjoy fully the money he has with defendant
the petition on its merits. The appellate courts action is not wanting in precedents as a special bank.[18] The Court of Appeals found said ruling in conformity with sound logical precepts,
inspired as it is by the probability that the lapse of time would render the ultimate judgment
ineffective. It further stressed that the trial court was in the vantage position to determine
whether private respondents advanced age and state of health would merit the execution private
respondent prayed for.
In De Leon, we upheld immediate execution of judgment in favor of a 75-year-old woman.
We ruled that her need of and right to immediate execution of the decision in her favor amply
satisfied the requirement of a paramount and compelling reason of urgency and justice,
outweighing the security offered by the supersedeas bond. [19] In the subsequent case of Borja v.
Court of Appeals,[20] we likewise allowed execution pending appeal in favor of a 76 year-old man
on the ground that the appeal will take years to decide with finality, and he might very well be
facing a different judgment from a Court higher than any earthly tribunal and the decision on his
complaint, even if it be in his favor, would have become meaningless as far as he himself was
concerned.[21]
In the present case, private respondent Toh is already 79 years old. It cannot, by any stretch
of imagination, be denied that he is already of advanced age. Not a few might be fortunate to live
beyond 79 years. But no one could claim with certainty that his tribe would be always blessed
with long life.
Private respondent obtained a favorable judgment in the trial court. But that judgment in
Civil Case No. MC-99-643 is still on appeal before the Court of Appeals. It might even reach this
Court before the controversy is finally resolved with finality. As well said in Borja, while we may
not agree that a man of his years is practically moribund, the Court can appreciate his
apprehension that he will not be long for this world and may not enjoy the fruit of the judgment
before he finally passes away.[22]
Petitioner avers that private respondents claim of old age was unsubstantiated by clear and
convincing evidence. In essence, petitioner wants us to re-evaluate this factual issue. Needless to
stress, such re-examination is improper in a petition for review on certiorari. Here, only
questions of law should be raised.[23] Factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the
appellate court, bind this Court and are entitled to utmost respect.[24] No cogent reason having
been given for us to depart therefrom we shall stand by this salutary rule.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed resolutions of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 59234 are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
(P.D.) No. 957.[3] One of the violations complained of was its failure to provide an open space in
the said subdivision.
ROGELIO (ROGER) PANOTES (thru ARACELI G.R. No. 154739
BUMATAY, as successor-in-interest),
Petitioner, Present: During the proceedings before the NHA, an ocular inspection showed that the subdivision has no

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, open space. The NHA found, however, that Block 40, with an area of 22,916 square meters, could
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, be utilized as open space. Thus, in its Resolution dated August 14, 1980, the NHA directed
- versus - CORONA,
AZCUNA, and PROSECOR to provide the Provident Village an open space which is Block 40.
GARCIA, JJ.

CITY TOWNHOUSE DEVELOPMENT In a letter of the same date, then NHA Acting General Manager Antonio A. Fernando ordered
CORPORATION, Promulgated: PROSECOR to provide Block 40 of the subdivision as open space.
Respondent.
January 23, 2007
PROSECOR was served copies of the NHA Resolution and the letter on August 22, 1980.
x --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
Considering that PROSECOR did not appeal from the NHA Resolution, it became final and
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: executory.

When Panotes filed a motion for execution of the NHA Resolution, it was found that the records
For our resolution is the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision [1] of the
of the case were mysteriously missing. Hence, his motion was provisionally dismissed without
Court of Appeals dated January 29, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No. 52621 and its
prejudice.
Resolution[2] dated August 5, 2002denying the motion for reconsideration.

Meanwhile, PROSECOR sold to City Townhouse Development Corporation (CTDC), respondent,


This case stemmed from a complaint filed with the National Housing Authority (NHA) in April
several lots in the subdivision. Among the lots sold were those comprising Block 40. CTDC was
1979 by Rogelio (Roger) Panotes, petitioner, then president of the Provident Village
unaware of the NHA Resolution ordering PROSECOR to have Block 40 utilized as open space
Homeowners Association, Inc., against Provident Securities Corporation (PROSECOR), owner-
of Provident Village.
developer of the Provident Village in Marikina City. The complaint, docketed as NHA Case No.
4175, alleges that PROSECOR violated Sections 19, 20, 21, 38, and 39 of Presidential Decree
Eventually, Panotes was succeeded by Araceli Bumatay as president of the Provident Village
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Homeowners Association, Inc. On July 17, 1990, she filed with the Housing and Land Use
Regulatory Board (HLURB) a complaint for revival of the NHA Resolution dated August 14, 1980. On appeal to the HLURB Board of Commissioners, Arbiter Bunagans Decision was affirmed with
Impleaded therein as defendant was CTDC, whom she alleged as successor-in-interest of modification in the sense that CTDC has the right to recover from PROSECOR what it has lost.
PROSECOR.
After its motion for reconsideration was denied, CTDC then interposed an appeal to the Office of
In its answer, CTDC averred, among others, that (1) Araceli Bumatay has no legal personality to the President (OP). On February 10, 1999, the OP rendered its Decision affirming in toto the
file the action for revival of judgment; (2) there is a pending litigation between CTDC and judgment of the HLURB Board of Commissioners. CTDC filed a motion for reconsideration, but it
PROSECOR involving Block 40; and (3) other entities like the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas and was denied in a Resolution dated April 14, 1999.
Provident Savings Bank have existing liens over Block 40.
CTDC then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules
On October 15, 1991, the HLURB, through Housing and Land Use Arbiter Charito M. Bunagan, of Procedure, as amended, docketed therein as CA-G.R. SP No. 52621.
rendered its Decision in favor of Bumatay, reviving the NHA Resolution and declaring Block 40 of
the Provident Village as open space for the said subdivision, thus: In a Resolution[5] dated May 10, 1999, the Court of Appeals dismissed CTDCs petition for its
failure to attach thereto a certification against forum shopping. The Court of Appeals also found
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring
that the petition was not supported by certified true copies of such material portions of the
Block 40 (with an area of 22,916 square meters) of the Subdivision Plan Pcs-
5683 of the Provident Villages located at Marikina, Metro Manila as the legally records and other pertinent papers referred to in the petition.
mandated open space for said subdivision project; and the Register of Deeds
for Marikina is hereby directed to cause the annotation of this fact on the
corresponding Torrens Title which describes and covers said open space; said CTDC filed a motion for reconsideration which was opposed by Bumatay.
area to be reserved and utilized exclusively in the manner and for the purposes
provided for under P.D. N0. 957 and P.D. No. 1216.[4]
On June 10, 1999, CTDC submitted to the Court of Appeals a certification of non-forum shopping
Furthermore, let a Cease and Desist Order be, as it is hereby, issued against
respondent Provident Securities Corp. and City Townhouse Development as well as the pleadings mentioned in its Resolution.
Corporation, restraining said respondents, and all persons, agents, or other
associations or corporate entities acting on their behalf, from asserting or
perpetrating any or further acts of dominion or claim over said Block 40, Pcs- On July 27, 1999, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution granting CTDCs motion for
5683, the open space allocated and reserved for the Provident Villages in reconsideration and reinstated its petition.
Marikina, Metro Manila.
On January 29, 2002, the appellate court rendered its Decision reversing the Decision of the OP CTDC purchased from PROSECOR Block 40 in the said village, not as an owner-developer like
and dismissing the complaint for revival of judgment, thus: PROSECOR, but as an ordinary buyer of lots. Even after the sale, CTDC did not become an owner-
developer.The Deed of Sale executed by CTDC, as buyer, and PROSECOR, as seller, shows that the
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, finding merit in this petition for review, the
subject matter of the sale is the unsold lots comprising Block 40 within the subdivision to
assailed Decision of the Office of the President dated February 10, 1999,
together with its Resolution dated February 14, 1999 are REVERSED and SET CTDC. The contract does not include the transfer of rights of PROSECOR as owner-developer of
ASIDE, and a new one entered dismissing HLRB Case No. REM-071790-4052
(NHA Case No. 4175; HLRB Case No. REM-A-1089). Costs against the the said subdivision. Clearly, there is no basis to conclude that CTDC is the successor-in-interest
respondent. of PROSECOR.

SO ORDERED.
It bears stressing that when CTDC bought Block 40, there was no annotation on PROSECORs title
The basic issue for our resolution is whether the NHA Resolution dated August 14, 1980 may be showing that the property is encumbered. In fact, the NHA Resolution was not annotated
enforced against CTDC. thereon. CTDC is thus a buyer in good faith and for value, and as such, may not be deprived of the
ownership of Block 40. Verily, the NHA Resolution may not be enforced against CTDC.
An action for revival of judgment is no more than a procedural means of securing the execution
of a previous judgment which has become dormant after the passage of five years without it Section 2 of P.D. No. 1216 provides:
being executed upon motion of the prevailing party. It is not intended to re-open any issue
affecting the merits of the judgment debtors case nor the propriety or correctness of the first Section 2. Section 31 of Presidential Decree No. 957 is hereby amended
to read as follows:
judgment.[6]
Section 31. Roads, Alleys, Sidewalks and Open
Spaces. The owner or developer of a subdivision shall
Here, the original judgment or the NHA Resolution sought to be revived was between provide adequate roads, alleys and sidewalks. For
subdivision projects of one (1) hectare or more, the
Rogelio Panotes and PROSECOR, not between petitioner Araceli Bumatay and respondent CTDC.
owner shall reserve thirty percent (30%) of the gross
area for open space.
xxx xxx xxx.
In maintaining that CTDC is bound by the NHA Resolution, petitioner claims that CTDC is the
successor-in-interest of PROSECOR and, therefore, assumed the obligations of the latter to
Clearly, providing an open space within the subdivision remains to be the obligation of
provide an open space for Provident Village.
PROSECOR, the owner-developer and the real party-in-interest in the case for revival of
judgment. As aptly held by the Court of Appeals:
Quintessentially, the real party-in-interest in the revival of NHA Case
No. 4175 is PROSECOR and not CTDC. PROSECOR was the lone defendant or
respondent in that case against whom judgment was rendered. To insist that
CTDC is a successor-in-interest of PROSECOR may have some truth if we are
talking about the ownership of the lots sold by PROSECOR in favor of CTDC as
a result of a civil action between the two. But then, to hold CTDC as the
successor-in-interest of PROSECOR as the developer of the subdivision, is far
from realty. CTDC is simply on the same footing as any lot buyer-member of
PVHIA. x x x.

Furthermore, strangers to a case, like CTDC, are not bound by the judgment rendered by a
court. It will not divest the rights of a party who has not and never been a party to a
litigation. Execution of a judgment can be issued only against a party to the action and not
against one who did not have his day in court.[7]

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition and AFFIRM the assailed Decision and Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52621. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
The Antecedent Facts
THIRD DIVISION
Emerita Garon (Garon) filed an action for sum of money docketed as Civil Case No. 99-1051
STRONGHOLD INSURANCE G.R. No. 148090
against Project Movers Realty and Development Corporation (Project Movers) and Stronghold
COMPANY, INC.,
Petitioner, Present: Insurance Company, Inc. (Stronghold Insurance). In an Order[3] dated 19 September 2000, the
QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson, Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 56[4] (trial court) granted Garons motion for
- versus - CARPIO, summary judgment. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Garon, as follows:
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ. 1. Defendant Project Movers Realty and Development Corporation is
hereby directed to pay plaintiff as follows:
HONORABLE NEMESIO S. FELIX,
in his capacity as Presiding Judge of On Promissory Note No. PMRDC 97-12-332:
Branch 56, Regional Trial Court,
Makati City, RICHARD C. JAMORA, Promulgated: (A) The sum of PESOS: Six Million Eighty Eight Thousand Seven
Branch Clerk of Court, and Hundred Eighty Three and 68/100 (P6,088,783.68) under
EMERITA GARON, PMRDC-97-12-332;
Respondents. November 28, 2006
(B) Interest thereon at 36% per annum computed from 19
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x December 1997 until fully paid;

(C) A penalty of 3% per month computed from 03 November


DECISION 1998 until full payment on all unpaid amounts consisting of
the principal and interest.

CARPIO, J.: On Promissory Note No. PMRDC No. 97-12-333:

(A) The peso equivalent of the sum of DOLLARS: One Hundred


Eighty Nine Thousand Four Hundred Eighteen and 75/100
The Case (US$189,418.75) under PMRDC-97-12-333;
Before the Court is a petition for review[1] assailing the 4 May 2001 Decision[2] of the Court of
(B) Interest thereon at the stipulated rate of 17% per annum
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 63334. computed from 31 December 1997;
(C) A penalty of 3% per month computed from 03 November
On 16 February 2001, Stronghold Insurance filed a notice of appeal.
1998 until full payment on all unpaid amounts consisting of the
principal and interest.
2. Defendant Stronghold Insurance Company, Inc. is hereby held jointly
and solidarily liable to plaintiff Mrs. Garon in the amount of PESOS: Stronghold Insurance also filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals to assail the
TWELVE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED trial courts 8 February 2001 Order and the writ of execution pending appeal. In its
FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND ONEHUNDRED THIRTY NINE AND EIGHTY FIVE
CENTAVOS (P12,755,139.85). Resolution[8] of 23 February 2001, the Court of Appeals enjoined the trial
court, Jamora and Garon from enforcing the 8 February 2001 Order. However, it turned out that
3. Defendants Project Movers Realty and Development Corporation and
Stronghold Insurance Company, Inc. are also ordered to pay plaintiff notices of garnishment had been served before the Court of Appeals issued the temporary
Mrs. Garon jointly and severally the sum of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND restraining order (TRO). In its Order[9] dated 7 March 2001, the trial court denied Stronghold
as attorneys fees plus costs of suit.
Insurances Urgent Motion for the recall of the notices of garnishment.
All other claims and counter-claims of the parties are hereby ordered
dismissed.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
SO ORDERED.[5]

In its 4 May 2001 Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition of Stronghold Insurance
On 6 October 2000, Garon filed a motion for execution pending appeal. On 10 October 2000, and lifted the TRO it issued.
Stronghold Insurance moved for the reconsideration of the 19 September 2000 Order of the trial
court. The Court of Appeals sustained the trial court in issuing the writ of execution pending appeal on
the ground of illness of Garons husband. Citing Articles 68[10] and 195[11] of the Family Code, the
In an Order[6] dated 23 January 2001, the trial court denied Stronghold Insurances motion for Court of Appeals held that while it was not Garon who was ill, Garon needed the money to
reconsideration for lack of merit. support her husbands medical expenses and to support her family.

In an Order[7] dated 8 February 2001, the trial court granted Garons motion for execution Stronghold Insurance alleged that its liability is limited only to P12,755,139.85 in accordance
pending appeal. The trial court ordered Garon to post a bond of P20 million to answer for any with its surety bond with Project Movers, plus attorneys fees of P200,000 as awarded by the trial
damage that Project Movers and Stronghold Insurance may sustain by reason of the execution court. However,the amount in the writ of execution pending appeal and notices of garnishment
pending appeal. On 14 February 2001, Branch Clerk of Court Richard C. Jamora (Jamora) issued a is P56 million. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals ruled that Stronghold Insurance failed to show
writ of execution pending appeal. that more than P12,755,139.85 had been garnished.
Hence, the petition before this Court.
After the trial court has lost jurisdiction, the motion for execution pending
appeal may be filed in the appellate court.
In its Resolution[12] dated 8 August 2001, this Court issued a TRO to restrain and enjoin the
Discretionary execution may only issue upon good reasons to be stated in a
enforcement of the 8 February 2001 Order and the writ of execution pending appeal until further special order after due hearing.
orders from this Court.
xxxx

The Issue
Execution pending appeal is an exception to the general rule. The Court explained the nature of
execution pending appeal as follows:
The sole issue is whether there are good reasons to justify execution pending appeal.

Execution pending appeal is an extraordinary remedy, being more of the


exception rather than the rule. This rule is strictly construed against
the movant because courts look with disfavor upon any attempt to execute a
The Ruling of This Court judgment which has not acquired finality. Such execution affects the rights of
the parties which are yet to be ascertained on appeal.[13]

The petition has merit.


The requisites for the grant of an execution of a judgment pending appeal are the following:

Requisites of Execution Pending Appeal


(a) there must be a motion by the prevailing party with notice to the adverse party;

Execution pending appeal is governed by paragraph (a), Section 2, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure (Rules) which provides: (b) there must be good reasons for execution pending appeal;

SEC. 2. Discretionary execution. - (c) the good reasons must be stated in the special order.[14]

(a) Execution of a judgment or final order pending appeal. - On motion of the


prevailing party with notice to the adverse party filed in the trial court while it As a discretionary execution, execution pending appeal is permissible only when good reasons
has jurisdiction over the case and is in possession of either the original record
or the record on appeal, as the case may be, at the time of the filing of such exist for immediately executing the judgment before finality or pending appeal or even before
motion, said court may, in its discretion, order execution of a judgment or final the expiration of the period to appeal.[15] Good reasons, special, important, pressing reasons must
order even before the expiration of the period to appeal.
exist to justify execution pending appeal; otherwise, instead of an instrument of solicitude and
and that the same was due and unpaid. Founded as it is on Promissory Notes
justice, it may well become a tool of oppression and inequality.[16] Good reasons consist of
and Surety Agreements, the authenticity and due execution of which had been
exceptional circumstances of such urgency as to outweigh the injury or damage that the losing admitted, the Court is convinced that plaintiff is entitled to a judgment in her
favor and that any appeal therefrom will obviously be a ploy to delay the
party may suffer should the appealed judgment be reversed later.[17] proceedings (See Home Insurance Company vs. Court of Appeals, 184 SCRA
318).
The second ground relied upon by plaintiff is also impressed with merit. In Ma-
Existence of Good Grounds to Justify Execution Pending Appeal ao Sugar Central vs. Canete, 19 SCRA 646, the Supreme Court held that
the movant was entitled to execution pending appeal of an award of
compensation, ruling that his ill health and urgent need for the funds so
In this case, Garon anchors the motion for execution pending appeal on the following grounds: awarded were considered good reasons to justify execution pending appeal (See
also De Leon vs. Soriano, 95 Phil. 806).
It is established that plaintiffs spouse, Mr. Robert Garon, suffers from coronary
(a) any appeal which Project Movers and Stronghold Insurance may take from the summary artery disease, benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and hyperlipidemia. He is
judgment would be patently dilatory; undergoing continuous treatment for the foregoing ailments and has been
constrained to make serious lifestyle changes, that he can no longer actively
(b) the ill health of Garons spouse and the spouses urgent need for the funds owed to them by earn a living. As shown in plaintiffs verified motion, she has urgent need of the
funds owed to her by defendants in order to answer for her husbands medical
Project Movers and Stronghold Insurance constitute good reasons for execution pending appeal;
expenses and for the day-to-day support of the family considering her husbands
and ill health. The Court therefore finds and holds that there exists good reasons
warranting an execution pending appeal.[19]

(c) Garon is ready and willing to post a bond to answer for any damage Project Movers and
The trial court ruled that an appeal from its 19 September 2000 Order is only a ploy to delay the
Stronghold Insurance may suffer should the trial courts decision be reversed on appeal. [18]
proceedings of the case. However, the authority to determine whether an appeal is dilatory lies
with the appellate court.[20] The trial courts assumption that the appeal is dilatory prematurely
In granting the motion for execution pending appeal, the trial court ruled:
judges the merits of the main case on appeal.[21] Thus:
A perusal of [t]he records of the instant case will sustain plaintiffs claim that
defendants raised no valid or meritorious defenses against the claims of Well-settled is the rule that it is not for the trial court to determine the merit of
plaintiff. The Court notes with interest the fact that defendants admitted the a decision it rendered as this is the role of the appellate Court. Hence, it is not
genuineness and due execution of the Promissory Notes and Surety Agreement within the competence of the trial court, in resolving the motion for execution
sued upon in this case. pending appeal, to rule that the appeal is patently dilatory and to rely on the
same as the basis for finding good reason to grant the motion.[22]
The instant case simply turns on the issues of (i) whether or not there was a
valid, due and demandable obligation and (ii) whether or not the obligation had
been extinguished in the manner provided for under our laws. The Answers of
defendants contained admissions that the obligation was valid and subsisting
In a Decision[23] promulgated on 7 May 2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 69962 entitled Emerita Garon v. she was 75 years old at that time. Hence, execution pending appeal was justified. In this case, it
Project Movers Realty and Development Corporation, et al., the Court of Appeals sustained the was not Garon, but her husband, who was ill.
trial court in rendering the summary judgment in Civil Case No. 99-1051. However, the Court of
Appeals ruled that Stronghold Insurance could not be held solidarily liable with Project The posting of a bond, standing alone and absent the good reasons required under Section 2,
Movers. The Court of Appeals ruled that the surety bond between Project Movers and Stronghold Rule 39 of the Rules, is not enough to allow execution pending appeal. The mere filing of a bond
Insurance expired on 7 November 1998 before the maturity of Project Movers loans on 17 by a successful party is not a good reason to justify execution pending appeal as a combination of
December 1998 and 31 December 1998, respectively.Hence, when the loans matured, the circumstances is the dominant consideration which impels the grant of immediate
liability of Stronghold Insurance had long ceased. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts execution.[26] The bond is only an additional factor for the protection of the defendants
19 September 2000 Order with modification by ruling that Stronghold Insurance is not liable creditor.[27]
to Garon.
The exercise of the power to grant or deny a motion for execution pending appeal is addressed to
The 7 May 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals is not yet final. It is the subject of a petition for the sound discretion of the trial court.[28] However, the existence of good reasons is
review filed by Garon before this Court. The case, docketed as G.R. No. 166058, is still pending indispensable to the grant of execution pending appeal. [29] Here, Garon failed to advance good
with this Court. While this Court may either affirm or reverse the 7 May 2004 Decision of the reasons that would justify the execution pending appeal.
Court of Appeals, the fact that the Court of Appeals absolved Stronghold Insurance from liability
Execution Pending Appeal against Stronghold Insurance
to Garon shows that the appeal from the 19 September 2000 Order is not dilatory on the part of
Exceeds its Liability under the Trial Courts Order
Stronghold Insurance.
The dispositive portion of the trial courts 19 September 2000 Order states:
We agree with Stronghold Insurance that Garon failed to present good reasons to justify
WHEREFORE, premises considered[,] this Court hereby renders judgment in
execution pending appeal. The situations in the cases cited by the trial court are not similar to favor of the plaintiff Mrs. Emerita I. Garon as follows:
this case. In Ma-Ao Sugar Central Co., Inc. v. Caete,[24] Caete filed an action for compensation for
xxxx
his illness. The Workmens Compensation Commission found the illness compensable.
Considering Caetes physical condition and the Courts finding that he was in constant danger of 2. Defendant Stronghold Insurance Company, Inc. is hereby held jointly
and solidarily liable to plaintiff Mrs. Garon in the amount of PESOS: TWELVE
death, the Court allowed execution pending appeal. In De Leon, et al. v. Soriano, et al.,[25] De Leon, MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY
et al. defaulted on an agreement that was peculiarly personal to Asuncion. The agreement was NINE AND EIGHTY FIVE CENTAVOS (P12,755,139.85).

valid only during Asuncions lifetime. The Court considered that Sorianos health was delicate and
3. Defendants Project Movers Realty and Development Corporation and
SO ORDERED.
Stronghold Insurance Company, Inc. are also ordered to pay plaintiff
Mrs. Garon jointly and severally the sum of PESOS: TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND
as attorneys fees plus costs of suit.

x x x x[30]

The writ of execution pending appeal issued against Project Movers and Stronghold Insurance is
for P56 million.[31] However, the Court of Appeals ruled that Stronghold Insurance failed to show
that more than P12,755,139.85 had been garnished. The ruling of the Court of Appeals unduly
burdens Stronghold Insurance because the amount garnished could exceed its liability. It gives
the sheriff the discretion to garnish more than P12,755,139.85 from the accounts of Stronghold
Insurance. The amount for garnishment is no longer ministerial on the part of the sheriff. This is
not allowed. Thus:

Leaving to the Sheriff, as held by the Court of Appeals, the determination of the
exact amount due under the Writ would be tantamount to vesting such officer
with judicial powers. He would have to receive evidence to determine the exact
amount owing. In his hands would be placed a broad discretion that can only
lead to delay and open the door to possible abuse. The orderly administration of
justice requires that the amount on execution be determined judicially and the
duties of the Sheriff confined to purely ministerial ones.[32]

WHEREFORE, we SET ASIDE the 4 May 2001 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
63334. We also SET ASIDE the 8 February 2001 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
Branch 56 and the writ of execution pending appeal issued on 14 February 2001. We make
permanent the temporary restraining order we issued on 8 August 2001.
Republic of the Philippines Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered physical abuse from
SUPREME COURT Maekara. She left Maekara and started to contact Fujiki.3
Manila
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship. In 2010,
SECOND DIVISION Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a family court in Japan which declared the
marriage between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy.4 On 14 January 2011,
G.R. No. 196049 June 26, 2013 Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of
Absolute Nullity of Marriage)." Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be
MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER, recognized; (2) that the bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab
vs. initiounder Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines;5 and (3) for the RTC to
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON direct the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court judgment on
CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the
STATISTICS OFFICE,RESPONDENTS. Office of the Administrator and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics Office (NSO). 6

DECISION The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

CARPIO, J.: A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an Order dismissing the
petition and withdrawing the case from its active civil docket.7 The RTC cited the following
provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
The Case Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):

This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 107, Quezon Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.
City, through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure
question of law. The petition assails the Order1 dated 31 January 2011 of the RTC in Civil Case
No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2 March 2011 denying petitioners Motion for (a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed
Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment solely by the husband or the wife.
(or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on improper venue and the lack of personality
of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition. xxxx

The Facts Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where the
petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing,
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent Maria Paz Galela or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines, at the
Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines2 on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with election of the petitioner. x x x
petitioners parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he resides. Eventually,
they lost contact with each other. The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross violation" of the
above provisions. The trial court based its dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the first marriage which provides that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a
being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines. ground for immediate dismissal of the petition."8 Apparently, the RTC took the view that only
"the husband or the wife," in this case either Maekara or Marinay, can file the petition to declare Intermediate Appellate Court 19 which held that the "trial court cannot pre-empt the defendants
their marriage void, and not Fujiki. prerogative to object to the improper laying of the venue by motu proprio dismissing the
case."20Moreover, petitioner alleged that the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed"
Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC contemplated the petition under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he substantially complied with the
ordinary civil actions for declaration of nullity and annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11- provision.
10-SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign judgment is a special proceeding,
which "seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact," 9 and not a civil action which is "for On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for reconsideration. In its
the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong." 10 In other Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies because the petitioner, in effect,
words, the petition in the RTC sought to establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki prays for a decree of absolute nullity of marriage.21 The trial court reiterated its two grounds for
and Marinay as husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No.
judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as void on the ground of 02-11-10-SC. The RTC considered Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he "is
bigamy. The petitioner contended that the Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) not the husband in the decree of divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now
of the Family Code of the Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to recognition by seeks to be judicially recognized, x x x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground of
Philippine courts.12 impropriety of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a ground
for dismissal of this case[,] it should be taken together with the other ground cited by the Court x
In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only to void marriages x x which is Sec. 2(a) x x x."24
under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological incapacity.13 Thus, Section
2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on Braza v. The City
marriages may be filed solely by the husband or the wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.25 The Court in Braza ruled that "[i]n a
be absurd because only the guilty parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t special proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries
is not, of course, difficult to realize that the party interested in having a bigamous marriage in the Original Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x." 26 Braza
declared a nullity would be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki had emphasized that the "validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned
material interest and therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage. only in a direct action seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through a collateral attack
such as [a] petition [for correction of entry] x x x."27
Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the
Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the "procedural implementation" of the Civil Register The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of marriage between
Law (Act No. 3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil Register Law imposes Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held that this is a "jurisdictional ground" to dismiss the
a duty on the "successful petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the petition.28 Moreover, the verification and certification against forum shopping of the petition was
final decree of the court to the local registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or annulled not authenticated as required under Section 529 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also
marriage was solemnized."17 Section 2 of Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil registry warranted the "immediate dismissal" of the petition under the same provision.
relating to "marriages," "judgments of annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring
marriages void from the beginning" are subject to cancellation or correction. 18 The petition in the The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the Letters of
RTC sought (among others) to annotate the judgment of the Japanese Family Court on the Marinay and Maekara
certificate of marriage between Marinay and Maekara.
On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on the petition for
Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial court "gravely erred" review.30 The public respondents, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Administrator
when, on its own, it dismissed the petition based on improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC and Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office of the Solicitor General.
may be confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction, because it is lack of Instead of a comment, the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion. 31
jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v.
The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTCs "pronouncement that Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with the directive for them
the petitioner failed to comply with x x x A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside" and that the to comment on the petition.42 Maekara wrote that Marinay concealed from him the fact that she
case be reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings.32 The Solicitor General argued that was previously married to Fujiki.43Maekara also denied that he inflicted any form of violence on
Fujiki, as the spouse of the first marriage, is an injured party who can sue to declare the Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that she had no reason to oppose the petition.45 She
bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave would like to maintain her silence for fear that anything she say might cause misunderstanding
v. Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in cases of between her and Fujiki.46
bigamy. In Juliano-Llave, this Court explained:
The Issues
[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only discovered
during the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss Petitioner raises the following legal issues:
had already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage benefit from the bigamous
marriage, it would not be expected that they would file an action to declare the marriage void (1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
and thus, in such circumstance, the "injured spouse" who should be given a legal remedy is the Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable.
one in a subsisting previous marriage. The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous
marriage not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior
marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The subsequent (2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize a
marriage will always be a reminder of the infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse and a
marriage which sanctity is protected by the Constitution. 34 foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy.

The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court (3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment in a proceeding
judgment may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding.35 In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this Court held for cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules
that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, of Court.
as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to
establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact." 37 While Corpuzconcerned a foreign The Ruling of the Court
divorce decree, in the present case the Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil
status of the parties, especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen. We grant the petition.

The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure to record The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
"[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons" in the civil registry as Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment
required by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law requires the entry in the civil relating to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country.
registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences upon a persons legal capacity and Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that
status x x x."38 The Japanese Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino only the husband or wife can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not
citizen and should therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule 108 proceeding. apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy."48

Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional infirmity in assailing a void I.
marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro v. De Castro39 and Nial v. Bayadog40 which declared
that "[t]he validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked." 41 For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where
one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the petitioner only needs to prove the foreign
judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy of the foreign judgment successors in interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of Court states
may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of
to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts
judgment through (1) an official publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer exercise limited review on foreign judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a
who has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such as foreign judgment. Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can
Japan, the certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or consular officer of the only be repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the
Philippine foreign service in Japan and authenticated by the seal of office. 50 party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." The rule on limited review embodies the
policy of efficiency and the protection of party expectations,61 as well as respecting the
To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of foreign judgment would jurisdiction of other states.62
mean that the trial court and the parties should follow its provisions, including the form and
contents of the petition,51 the service of summons,52 the investigation of the public Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have recognized foreign divorce
prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the judgment of the trial court.56 This is decrees between a Filipino and a foreign citizen if they are successfully proven under the rules of
absurd because it will litigate the case anew. It will defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign evidence.64 Divorce involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the recognition of a foreign
judgments, which is "to limit repetitive litigation on claims and issues." 57 The interpretation of divorce decree does not involve the extended procedure under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules
the RTC is tantamount to relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Raada,58 this Court of ordinary trial. While the Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may,
explained that "[i]f every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff however, recognize a foreign divorce decree under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
would be forced back on his/her original cause of action, rendering immaterial the previously Family Code, to capacitate a Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her foreign spouse obtained a
concluded litigation."59 divorce decree abroad.65

A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil status, condition and legal There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the Japanese Family
capacity of its parties. However, the effect of a foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy.
effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts must determine if the foreign While the Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Court judgment is fully consistent
judgment is consistent with domestic public policy and other mandatory laws. 60 Article 15 of the with Philippine public policy, as bigamous marriages are declared void from the beginning under
Civil Code provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition Article 35(4) of the Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.
and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living Thus, Fujiki can prove the existence of the Japanese Family Court judgment in accordance with
abroad." This is the rule of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine State Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.
may require, for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by Philippine courts of a foreign
judgment affecting its citizen, over whom it exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status, II.
condition and legal capacity of such citizen.
Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of the judgment, it may be
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require relitigation made in a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry under
under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides that "[a] special
marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the foreign proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact."
judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal Rule 108 creates a remedy to rectify facts of a persons life which are recorded by the State
capacity of the foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine pursuant to the Civil Register Law or Act No. 3753. These are facts of public consequence such as
courts can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence. birth, death or marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the Solicitor
General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce
Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final order decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as
against a person creates a "presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their
that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a marriage. Under Article 35(4) of the Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the
particular fact."67 beginning. Thus, the parties in a bigamous marriage are neither the husband nor the wife under
the law. The husband or the wife of the prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the
Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states: personality to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage under Section
2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or
decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void from the beginning, is
register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating the civil aspect of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, 76 which penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a
thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding civil registry is public crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for bigamy because any citizen has an
located. (Emphasis supplied) interest in the prosecution and prevention of crimes.77 If anyone can file a criminal action which
leads to the declaration of nullity of a bigamous marriage,78 there is more reason to confer
Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment personality to sue on the husband or the wife of a subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not
nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the only share in the public interest of prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also personally
judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same reason he has the interested in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage.
personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay and
Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of the decree of the Japanese Family Court. When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the spouse is clearly an injured
party and is therefore interested in the judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior
There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in maintaining the spouse "is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the financial
integrity of the marriage he contracted and the property relations arising from it. There is also and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional
no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil burden to the prior spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to sue in
registry, which compromises the public record of his marriage. The interest derives from the order to declare a bigamous marriage void. For this purpose, he can petition a court to recognize
substantive right of the spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances 68) his most a foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous marriage and judicially declare as a fact that such
intimate human relation, but also to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law judgment is effective in the Philippines. Once established, there should be no more impediment
the moment he contracts marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the right to be to cancel the entry of the bigamous marriage in the civil registry.
supported "in keeping with the financial capacity of the family" 70 and preserving the property
regime of the marriage.71 III.

Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution, 72 but a spouses In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, this Court held that a
right in a marriage extends further to relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and "trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages" in a special proceeding for cancellation or
Obligations between Husband and Wife") of the Family Code.73 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC cannot correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.81 Thus, the "validity of marriage[] x x x
"diminish, increase, or modify" the substantive right of the spouse to maintain the integrity of his can be questioned only in a direct action" to nullify the marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in
marriage.74 In any case, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right by dismissing the petition for recognition of foreign judgment as a collateral attack on the marriage
limiting the personality to sue to the husband or the wife of the union recognized by law. between Marinay and Maekara.

Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a subsisting marriage to Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a foreign judgment
question the validity of a subsequent marriage on the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country.
Section 2(a) states that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be
filed solely by the husband or the wife"75it refers to the husband or the wife of the subsisting
To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry cannot The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address the anomaly that
substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct action is necessary to prevent results from a marriage between a Filipino, whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign
circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Code, citizen, whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse being tied to the
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these safeguards are the requirement of marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. The
proving the limited grounds for the dissolution of marriage,83 support pendente lite of the correction is made by extending in the Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which
spouses and children,84 the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of the is already effective in the country where it was rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of
spouses,85 and the investigation of the public prosecutor to determine collusion. 86 A direct action the Family Code is based on this Courts decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the
for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of Filipino spouse "should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are
the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. to be served."91
8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in
the Regional Trial Court "where the corresponding civil registry is located." 87 In other words, a The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage between a Filipino and a
Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of changing his entry of foreign citizen who obtains a foreign judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy.
marriage in the civil registry. The Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the marriage void on the ground of
bigamy. The principle in the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code applies because
However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a civil registry entry the foreign spouse, after the foreign judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to remarry
based on the recognition of a foreign judgment annulling a marriage where one of the parties is a under the laws of his or her country. If the foreign judgment is not recognized in the Philippines,
citizen of the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of the substantive and procedural the Filipino spouse will be discriminatedthe foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino
safeguards of marriage under Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. spouse cannot remarry.
No. 8369. A recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action
for Philippine courts to recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts are empowered
case which was already tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in A.M. No. 02- to correct a situation where the Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage while the foreign
11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment annulling a bigamous spouse is free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine
marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 courts already have jurisdiction to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to
define the jurisdiction of the foreign court. the extent that the foreign judgment does not contravene domestic public policy. A critical
difference between the case of a foreign divorce decree and a foreign judgment nullifying a
Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a bigamous marriage is that bigamy, as a ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with
foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to determine the validity of Philippine public policy as expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349 of the
the dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides Revised Penal Code. The Filipino spouse has the option to undergo full trial by filing a petition for
that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a declaration of nullity of marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy
divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to available to him or her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign judgment
remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." In Republic v. nullifying a bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy.
Orbecido,88 this Court recognized the legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26
which is "to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to substitute their
spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse" 89 under the judgment on how a case was decided under foreign law. They cannot decide on the "family rights
laws of his or her country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only authorizes and duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign citizen who is a party to
Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree precisely because the the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts are limited to the question of whether to extend
Philippines does not allow divorce. Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to the status of a
is tantamount to trying a case for divorce. marriage involving a citizen of a foreign country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend
its effect to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil
Code.

For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the foreign judgment is
inconsistent with an overriding public policy in the Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging
party is able to prove an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want of jurisdiction,
want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. If there is neither
inconsistency with public policy nor adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine courts
should, by default, recognize the foreign judgment as part of the comity of nations. Section 48(b),
Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states that the foreign judgment is already "presumptive evidence
of a right between the parties." Upon recognition of the foreign judgment, this right becomes
conclusive and the judgment serves as the basis for the correction or cancellation of entry in the
civil registry. The recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is a
subsequent event that establishes a new status, right and fact92 that needs to be reflected in the
civil registry. Otherwise, there will be an inconsistency between the recognition of the effectivity
of the foreign judgment and the public records in the Philippines.1wphi1

However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is without


prejudice to prosecution for bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. 93 The
recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for extinction of
criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91
of the Revised Penal Code, "[t]he term of prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run when
the offender is absent from the Philippine archipelago."

Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees the need to address the
questions on venue and the contents and form of the petition under Sections 4 and 5,
respectively, of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January 2011 and the Resolution
dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-
68582 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to REINSTATE the
petition for further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines Serra appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA). On 18 May 1989, Serra donated the property to his
SUPREME COURT mother, Leonida Ablao (Ablao). On 20 April 1992, Ablao sold the property to Hermanito Liok
Manila (Liok). A new land title was issued in favor of Liok. Thus, RCBC filed a Complaint for Nullification
of Deed of Donation and Deed of Sale with Reconveyance and Damages against Liok, Ablao and
SECOND DIVISION Serra (Annulment case) before the RTC of Masbate City (RTC Masbate).

G.R. No. 203241 July 10, 2013 Meanwhile, the CA, and later the Supreme Court, affirmed the order of the RTC Makati in the
Specific Performance case. In a Decision dated 4 January 1994, this Court declared that the
RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORPORATION, PETITIONER, Contract of Lease with Option to Buy was valid, effective, and enforceable. On 15 April 1994, the
vs. decision in the Specific Performance case became final and executory upon entry of judgment. 5
FEDERICO A. SERRA, RESPONDENT.
On 22 October 2001, the RTC Masbate ruled in favor of RCBC, declaring the donation in favor of
DECISION Ablao and the subsequent sale to Liok null and void.6 In a Decision dated 28 September 2007, the
CA affirmed the RTC Masbate decision. The CA held that the donation to Ablao was simulated and
was done solely to evade Serras obligation to RCBC. Since Ablao had no right to transfer the
CARPIO, J.: property and Liok was not a buyer in good faith, the subsequent sale to Liok was likewise null
and void.
The Case
Thus, Liok filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 182478, while Serra and
This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 with prayer for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Ablao filed a Petition for Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 182664, before this Court. In separate
Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order assails the 16 February 2012 2 and 26 July Resolutions dated 30 June 2008 and 22 October 2008, which became final and executory on 27
20123 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 134 (RTC Makati). August 20087 and 3 March 2009,8 respectively, this Court found neither reversible error nor
grave abuse of discretion on the CAs part.
The Facts
On 25 August 2011, RCBC moved for the execution of the decision in the Specific Performance
Respondent Federico A. Serra (Serra) is the owner of a 374 square meter parcel of land located case. RCBC alleged that it was legally impossible to ask for the execution of the decision prior to
along Quezon Street, Masbate, Masbate. On 20 May 1975, Serra and petitioner Rizal Commercial the annulment of the fraudulent transfers made by Serra. Thus, the period to execute by motion
Banking Corporation (RCBC) entered into a Contract of Lease with Option to Buy, wherein Serra was suspended during the pendency of the Annulment case. On 22 September 2011, Serra filed
agreed to lease his land to RCBC for 25 years. Serra further granted RCBC the option to buy the his comment and opposition to the motion. Serra insisted that the motion for execution was
land and improvement (property) within 10 years from the signing of the Contract of Lease with already barred by prescription and laches, and that RCBC was at fault for failing to register as
Option to Buy. lien in the original title the Contract of Lease with Option to Buy.

On 4 September 1984, RCBC informed Serra of its decision to exercise its option to buy the In an Order dated 16 February 2012, the RTC Makati denied RCBCs motion for execution. The
property. However, Serra replied that he was no longer interested in selling the property. On 14 RTC Makati opined that "[RCBC] should have asked for the execution of the deed of sale and have
March 1985, RCBC filed a Complaint for Specific Performance and Damages against Serra the same registered with the Registry of Deeds, so that even if [Serra] sold or transferred the
(Specific Performance case) in the RTC Makati. The RTC Makati initially dismissed the complaint. subject property to any person the principle of caveat emptor would set in." 9
However, in an Order dated 5 January 1989, the RTC Makati reversed itself and ordered Serra to
execute and deliver the proper deed of sale in favor of RCBC.4
In an Order dated 26 July 2012, the RTC Makati denied RCBCs motion for reconsideration. Thus, decision in the Annulment case attained finality on 3 March 2009 and RCBCs motion for
RCBC filed this petition. execution was filed on 25 August 2011, RCBCs motion is deemed filed within the five-year
period for enforcement of a decision through a motion.
In a Resolution dated 3 December 2012, this Court granted RCBCs Temporary Restraining Order
against the implementation of the questioned Orders upon RCBCs filing of a bond. This Court has reiterated that the purpose of prescribing time limitations for enforcing
judgments is to prevent parties from sleeping on their rights.14 Far from sleeping on its rights,
The Issue RCBC has pursued persistently its action against Serra in accordance with law. On the other
hand, Serra has continued to evade his obligation by raising issues of technicality. While strict
RCBC raises this sole issue for resolution: compliance with the rules of procedure is desired, liberal interpretation is warranted in cases
where a strict enforcement of the rules will not serve the ends of justice. 15
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER RCBC IS
BARRED FROM HAVING ITS 05 JANUARY 1989 DECISION EXECUTED THROUGH MOTION, WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the assailed Orders of the Regional Trial
CONSIDERING THAT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OBTAINING IN THIS CASE, RCBC WAS Court of Makati City dated 16 February 2012 and 26 July 2012. The Temporary Restraining
UNLAWFULLY PREVENTED BY THE RESPONDENT FROM ENFORCING THE SAID DECISION. 10 Order issued by this Court on 3 December 2012 is made permanent. The Regional Trial Court of
Makati City is DIRECTED to issue the writ of execution in Civil Case No. 10054 for the
enforcement of the decision therein. Costs against petitioner.
The Ruling of the Court
SO ORDERED.
The petition has merit.

The Rules of Court provide that a final and executory judgment may be executed by motion
within five years from the date of its entry or by an action after the lapse of five years and before
prescription sets in.11 This Court, however, allows exceptions when execution may be made by
motion even after the lapse of five years. These exceptions have one common denominator: the
delay is caused or occasioned by actions of the judgment obligor and/or is incurred for his
benefit or advantage.12

In Camacho v. Court of Appeals,13 we held that where the delays were occasioned by the
judgment debtors own initiatives and for her advantage as well as beyond the judgment
creditors control, the five-year period allowed for enforcement of the judgment by motion is
deemed to have been effectively interrupted or suspended.

In the present case, there is no dispute that RCBC seeks to enforce the decision which became
final and executory on 15 April 1994. This decision orders Serra to execute and deliver the
proper deed of sale in favor of RCBC. However, to evade his obligation to RCBC, Serra transferred
the property to his mother Ablao, who then transferred it to Liok. Serras action prompted RCBC
to file the Annulment case. Clearly, the delay in the execution of the decision was caused by Serra
for his own advantage. Thus, the pendency of the Annulment case effectively suspended the five-
year period to enforce through a motion the decision in the Specific Performance case. Since the
Republic of the Philippines Masbate, negotiated with petitioner for the purchase of the then unregistered property. On May
SUPREME COURT 20, 1975, a contract of LEASE WITH OPTION TO BUY was instead forged by the parties, the
Manila pertinent portion of which reads:

SECOND DIVISION 1. The LESSOR leases unto the LESSEE, an the LESSEE hereby accepts in lease,
the parcel of land described in the first WHEREAS clause, to have and to hold
the same for a period of twenty-five (25) years commencing from June 1, 1975
to June 1, 2000. The LESSEE, however, shall have the option to purchase said
G.R. No. 103338 January 4, 1994 parcel of land within a period of ten (10) years from the date of the signing of
this Contract at a price not greater than TWO HUNDRED TEN PESOS (P210.00)
per square meter. For this purpose, the LESSOR undertakes, within such ten-
FEDERICO SERRA, petitioner, year period, to register said parcel of land under the TORRENS SYSTEM and all
vs. expenses appurtenant thereto shall be for his sole account.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING
CORPORATION, respondents.
If, for any reason, said parcel of land is not registered under the TORRENS
SYSTEM within the aforementioned ten-year period, the LESSEE shall have the
Andres R. Amante, Jr. for petitioner. right, upon termination of the lease to be paid by the LESSOR the market value
of the building and improvements constructed on said parcel of land.
R.C. Domingo, Jr. & Associates for private respondent.
The LESSEE is hereby appointed attorney-in-fact for the LESSOR to register said
parcel of land under the TORRENS SYSTEM in case the LESSOR, for any reason,
fails to comply with his obligation to effect said registration within reasonable
NOCON, J.: time after the signing of this Agreement, and all expenses appurtenant to such
registration shall be charged by the LESSEE against the rentals due to the
A promise to buy and sell a determinate thing for a price certain is reciprocally demandable. An LESSOR.
accepted unilateral promise to buy and sell a determinate thing for a price certain is binding
upon the promisor if the promise is supported by a consideration distinct from the price. (Article 2. During the period of the lease, the LESSEE covenants to pay the LESSOR, at
1479, New Civil Code) The first is the mutual promise and each has the right to demand from the the latter's residence, a monthly rental of SEVEN HUNDRED PESOS (P700.00),
other the fulfillment of the obligation. While the second is merely an offer of one to another, Philippine Currency, payable in advance on or before the fifth (5th) day of every
which if accepted, would create an obligation to the offeror to make good his promise, provided calendar month, provided that the rentals for the first four (4) months shall be
the acceptance is supported by a consideration distinct from the price. paid by the LESSEE in advance upon the signing of this Contract.

Disputed in the present case is the efficacy of a "Contract of Lease with Option to Buy", entered 3. The LESSEE is hereby authorized to construct as its sole expense a building
into between petitioner Federico Serra and private respondent Rizal Commercial Banking and such other improvements on said parcel of land, which it may need in
Corporation. (RCBC). pursuance of its business and/or operations; provided, that if for any reason the
LESSEE shall fail to exercise its option mentioned in paragraph (1) above in case
Petitioner is the owner of a 374 square meter parcel of land located at Quezon St., Masbate, the parcel of land is registered under the TORRENS SYSTEM within the ten-year
Masbate. Sometime in 1975, respondent bank, in its desire to put up a branch in Masbate, period mentioned therein, said building and/or improvements, shall become
the property of the LESSOR after the expiration of the 25-year lease period 3. That as a condition for the validity and/or efficacy of the option, it should
without the right of reimbursement on the part of the LESSEE. The authority have been exercised within the reasonable time after the registration of the land
herein granted does not, however, extend to the making or allowing any under the Torrens System; that its delayed action on the option have forfeited
unlawful, improper or offensive used of the leased premises, or any use thereof, whatever its claim to the same.
other than banking and office purposes. The maintenance and upkeep of such
building, structure and improvements shall likewise be for the sole account of 4. That extraordinary inflation supervened resulting in the unusual decrease in
the LESSEE. 1 the purchasing power of the currency that could not reasonably be forseen or
was manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties at the time of the
The foregoing agreement was subscribed before Notary Public Romeo F. Natividad. establishment of the obligation, thus, rendering the terms of the contract
unenforceable, inequitable and to the undue enrichment of RCBC. 5
Pursuant to said contract, a building and other improvements were constructed on the land
which housed the branch office of RCBC in Masbate, Masbate. Within three years from the and as counterclaim petitioner alleged that:
signing of the contract, petitioner complied with his part of the agreement by having the
property registered and 1. The rental of P700.00 has become unrealistic and unreasonable, that justice
placed under the TORRENS SYSTEM, for which Original Certificate of Title No. 0-232 was issued and equity will require its adjustment.
by the Register of Deeds of the Province of Masbate.
2. By the institution of the complaint he suffered moral damages which may be
Petitioner alleges that as soon as he had the property registered, he kept on pursuing the assessed at P100,000.00 and award of attorney's fee of P25,000.00 and
manager of the branch to effect the sale of the lot as per their agreement. It was not until exemplary damages at P100,000.00.6
September 4, 1984, however, when the respondent bank decided to exercise its option and
informed petitioner, through a letter, 2 of its intention to buy the property at the agreed price of Initially, after trial on the merits, the court dismissed the complaint. Although it found the
not greater than P210.00 per square meter or a total of P78,430.00. But much to the surprise of contract to be valid, the court nonetheless ruled that the option to buy in unenforceable because
the respondent, petitioner replied that he is no longer selling the property. 3 it lacked a consideration distinct from the price and RCBC did not exercise its option within
reasonable time. The prayer for readjustment of rental was denied, as well as that for moral and
Hence, on March 14, 1985, a complaint for specific performance and damages were filed by exemplary damages.7
respondent against petitioner. In the complaint, respondent alleged that during the negotiations
it made clear to petitioner that it intends to stay permanently on property once its branch office Nevertheless, upon motion for reconsideration of respondent, the court in the order of January 9,
is opened unless the exigencies of the business requires otherwise. Aside from its prayer for 1989, reversed itself, the dispositive portion reads:
specific performance, it likewise asked for an award of P50,000.00 for attorney's fees
P100,000.00 as exemplary damages and the cost of the suit.4
WHEREFORE, the Court reconsiders its decision dated June 6, 1988, and hereby
renders judgment as follows:
A special and affirmative defenses, petitioner contended:
1. The defendant is hereby ordered to execute and deliver the proper deed of
1. That the contract having been prepared and drawn by RCBC, it took undue sale in favor of plaintiff selling, transferring and
advantage on him when it set in lopsided terms. conveying the property covered by and described in the Original Certificate of
Title 0-232 of the Registry of Deeds of Masbate for the sum of Seventy Eight
2. That the option was not supported by any consideration distinct from the Thousand Five Hundred Forty Pesos (P78,540,00), Philippine Currency;
price and hence not binding upon him.
2. Defendant is ordered to pay plaintiff the sum of Five Thousand (P5,000.00) A contract of adhesion is one wherein a party, usually a corporation, prepares the stipulations in
Pesos as attorney's fees; the contract, while the other party merely affixes his signature or his "adhesion" thereto. These
types of contracts are as binding as ordinary contracts. Because in reality, the party who adheres
3. The counter claim of defendant is hereby dismissed; and to the contract is free to reject it entirely. Although, this Court will not hesitate to rule out blind
adherence to terms where facts and circumstances will show that it is basically one-sided. 10
4. Defendants shall pay the costs of suit.8
We do not find the situation in the present case to be inequitable. Petitioner is a highly educated
In a decision promulgated on September 19, 1991,9 the Court of Appeals affirmed the findings of man, who, at the time of the trial was already a CPA-Lawyer, and when he entered into the
the trial court that: contract, was already a CPA, holding a respectable position with the Metropolitan Manila
Commission. It is evident that a man of his stature should have been more cautious in
transactions he enters into, particularly where it concerns valuable properties. He is amply
1. The contract is valid and that the parties perfectly understood the contents equipped to drive a hard bargain if he would be so minded to.
thereof;
Petitioner contends that the doctrines laid down in the cases of
2. The option is supported by a distinct and separate consideration as embodied Atkins Kroll v. Cua Hian Tek, 11 Sanchez v. Rigos, 12 and Vda. de Quirino v. Palarca 13 were
in the agreement; misapplied in the present case, because 1) the option given to the respondent bank was not
supported by a consideration distinct from the price; and 2) that the stipulated price of "not
3. There is no basis in granting an adjustment in rental. greater than P210.00 per square meter" is not certain or definite.

Assailing the judgment of the appellate court, petitioner would like us to consider mainly the Article 1324 of the Civil Code provides that when an offeror has allowed the offeree a certain
following: period to accept, the offer maybe withdrawn at anytime before acceptance by communicating
such withdrawal, except when the option is founded upon consideration, as something paid or
1. The disputed contract is a contract of adhesion. promised. On the other hand, Article 1479 of the Code provides that an accepted unilateral
promise to buy and sell a determinate thing for a price certain is binding upon the promisor if the
2. There was no consideration to support the option, distinct from the price, promise is supported by a consideration distinct from the price.
hence the option cannot be exercised.
In a unilateral promise to sell, where the debtor fails to withdraw the promise before the
3. Respondent court gravely abused its discretion in not granting currency acceptance by the creditor, the transaction becomes a bilateral contract to sell and to buy,
adjustment on the already eroded value of the stipulated rentals for twenty-five because upon acceptance by the creditor of the offer to sell by the debtor, there is already a
years. meeting of the minds of the parties as to the thing which is determinate and the price which is
certain. 14 In which case, the parties may then reciprocally demand performance.
The petition is devoid of merit.
Jurisprudence has taught us that an optional contract is a privilege existing only in one party
There is no dispute that the contract is valid and existing between the parties, as found by both the buyer. For a separate consideration paid, he is given the right to decide to purchase or not, a
the trial court and the appellate court. Neither do we find the terms of the contract unfairly certain merchandise or property, at any time within the agreed period, at a fixed price. This
lopsided to have it ignored. being his prerogative, he may not be compelled to exercise the option to buy before the time
expires. 15
On the other hand, what may be regarded as a consideration separate from the price is discussed Q. And did you accept the offer?
in the case of Vda. de Quirino v. Palarca 16 wherein the facts are almost on all fours with the case
at bar. The said case also involved a lease contract with option to buy where we had occasion to A. Yes, sir. 21
say that "the consideration for the lessor's obligation to sell the leased premises to the lessee,
should he choose to exercise his option to purchase the same, is the obligation of the lessee to Moreover, by his subsequent acts of having the land titled under the Torrens System, and in
sell to the lessor the building and/or improvements constructed and/or made by the former, if pursuing the bank manager to effect the sale immediately, means that he understood perfectly
he fails to exercise his option to buy leased premises." 17 the terms of the contract. He even had the same property mortgaged to the respondent bank
sometime in 1979, without the slightest hint of wanting to abandon his offer to sell the property
In the present case, the consideration is even more onerous on the part of the lessee since it at the agreed price of P210 per square meter. 22
entails transferring of the building and/or improvements on the property to petitioner, should
respondent bank fail to exercise its option within the period stipulated. 18 Finally, we agree with the courts a quo that there is no basis, legal or factual, in adjusting the
amount of the rent. The contract is the law between the parties and if there is indeed reason to
The bugging question then is whether the price "not greater than TWO HUNDRED PESOS" is adjust the rent, the parties could by themselves negotiate for the amendment of the contract.
certain or definite. A price is considered certain if it is so with reference to another thing certain Neither could we consider the decline of the purchasing power of the Philippine peso from 1983
or when the determination thereof is left to the judgment of a specified person or persons. 19 And to the time of the commencement of the present case in 1985, to be so great as to result in an
generally, gross inadequacy of price does not affect a contract of sale. 20 extraordinary inflation. Extraordinary inflation exists when there in an unimaginable increase or
decrease of the purchasing power of the Philippine currency, or fluctuation in the value of pesos
Contracts are to be construed according to the sense and meaning of the terms which the parties manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties at the time of the establishment of the
themselves have used. In the present dispute, there is evidence to show that the intention of the obligation. 23
parties is to peg the price at P210 per square meter. This was confirmed by petitioner himself in
his testimony, as follows: Premises considered, we find that the contract of "LEASE WITH OPTION TO BUY" between
petitioner and respondent bank is valid, effective and enforceable, the price being certain and
Q. Will you please tell this Court what was the offer? that there was consideration distinct from the price to support the option given to the lessee.

A. It was an offer to buy the property that I have in Quezon City WHEREFORE, this petition is hereby DISMISSED, and the decision of the appellate court is
(sic). hereby AFFIRMED.

Q. And did they give you a specific amount? SO ORDERED.

xxx xxx xxx

A. Well, there was an offer to buy the property at P210 per


square meters (sic).

Q. And that was in what year?

A . 1975, sir.
Republic of the Philippines of his passport.9 Further, by way of affirmative defense, he claimed that: (a) petitioners have no
SUPREME COURT cause of action against him; (b) the complaint fails to state a cause of action; and (c) the case is
Manila not prosecuted by the real parties-in-interest, as there is no showing that the petitioners have
been judicially declared as Magdalenos lawful heirs.10
SECOND DIVISION
The RTC Ruling
G.R. No. 198680 July 8, 2013
On July 27, 2011, the RTC issued the assailed July 27, 2011 Order,11 finding that the subject
HEIRS OF MAGDALENO YPON, NAMELY, ALVARO YPON, ERUDITA Y. BARON, CICERO YPON, complaint failed to state a cause of action against Gaudioso. It observed that while the plaintiffs
WILSON YPON, VICTOR YPON, AND HINIDINO Y. PEALOSA, PETITIONERS, therein had established their relationship with Magdaleno in a previous special proceeding for
vs. the issuance of letters of administration,12 this did not mean that they could already be
GAUDIOSO PONTERAS RICAFORTE A.K.A. "GAUDIOSO E. YPON," AND THE REGISTER OF considered as the decedents compulsory heirs. Quite the contrary, Gaudioso satisfactorily
DEEDS OF TOLEDO CITY, RESPONDENTS. established the fact that he is Magdalenos son and hence, his compulsory heir through the
documentary evidence he submitted which consisted of: (a) a marriage contract between
RESOLUTION Magdaleno and Epegenia Evangelista; (b) a Certificate of Live Birth; (c) a Letter dated February
19, 1960; and (d) a passport.13
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
The plaintiffs therein filed a motion for reconsideration which was, however, denied on August
31, 2011 due to the counsels failure to state the date on which his Mandatory Continuing Legal
This is a direct recourse to the Court from the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Branch 59 Education Certificate of Compliance was issued.14
(RTC), through a petition for review on certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, raising a
pure question of law. In particular, petitioners assail the July 27, 2011 2 and August 31,
20113 Orders of the RTC, dismissing Civil Case No. T-2246 for lack of cause of action. Aggrieved, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. T-2246,15 sought direct
recourse to the Court through the instant petition.
The Facts
The Issue Before the Court
On July 29, 2010, petitioners, together with some of their cousins,4 filed a complaint for
Cancellation of Title and Reconveyance with Damages (subject complaint) against respondent The core of the present controversy revolves around the issue of whether or not the RTCs
Gaudioso Ponteras Ricaforte a.k.a. "Gaudioso E. Ypon" (Gaudioso), docketed as Civil Case No. T- dismissal of the case on the ground that the subject complaint failed to state a cause of action
2246.5 In their complaint, they alleged that Magdaleno Ypon (Magdaleno) died intestate and was proper.
childless on June 28, 1968, leaving behind Lot Nos. 2-AA, 2-C, 2-F, and 2-J which were then
covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. T-44 and T-77-A.6 Claiming to be the sole heir The Courts Ruling
of Magdaleno, Gaudioso executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and caused the cancellation of
the aforementioned certificates of title, leading to their subsequent transfer in his name under The petition has no merit.
TCT Nos. T-2637 and T-2638,7 to the prejudice of petitioners who are Magdalenos collateral
relatives and successors-in-interest.8 Cause of action is defined as the act or omission by which a party violates a right of another.16 It
is well-settled that the existence of a cause of action is determined by the allegations in the
In his Answer, Gaudioso alleged that he is the lawful son of Magdaleno as evidenced by: (a) his complaint.17 In this relation, a complaint is said to assert a sufficient cause of action if, admitting
certificate of Live Birth; (b) two (2) letters from Polytechnic School; and (c) a certified true copy what appears solely on its face to be correct, the plaintiff would be entitled to the relief prayed
for.18Accordingly, if the allegations furnish sufficient basis by which the complaint can be By way of exception, the need to institute a separate special proceeding for the determination of
maintained, the same should not be dismissed, regardless of the defenses that may be averred by heirship may be dispensed with for the sake of practicality, as when the parties in the civil case
the defendants.19 had voluntarily submitted the issue to the trial court and already presented their evidence
regarding the issue of heirship, and the RTC had consequently rendered judgment thereon, 23 or
As stated in the subject complaint, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs therein, alleged when a special proceeding had been instituted but had been finally closed and terminated, and
that they are the lawful heirs of Magdaleno and based on the same, prayed that the Affidavit of hence, cannot be re-opened.24
Self-Adjudication executed by Gaudioso be declared null and void and that the transfer
certificates of title issued in the latters favor be cancelled. While the foregoing allegations, if In this case, none of the foregoing exceptions, or those of similar nature, appear to exist. Hence,
admitted to be true, would consequently warrant the reliefs sought for in the said complaint, the there lies the need to institute the proper special proceeding in order to determine the heirship
rule that the determination of a decedents lawful heirs should be made in the corresponding of the parties involved, ultimately resulting to the dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246.
special proceeding20 precludes the RTC, in an ordinary action for cancellation of title and
reconveyance, from granting the same. In the case of Heirs of Teofilo Gabatan v. CA, 21 the Court, Verily, while a court usually focuses on the complaint in determining whether the same fails to
citing several other precedents, held that the determination of who are the decedents lawful state a cause of action, a court cannot disregard decisions material to the proper appreciation of
heirs must be made in the proper special proceeding for such purpose, and not in an ordinary the questions before it.25 Thus, concordant with applicable jurisprudence, since a determination
suit for recovery of ownership and/or possession, as in this case: of heirship cannot be made in an ordinary action for recovery of ownership and/or possession,
the dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246 was altogether proper. In this light, it must be pointed out
Jurisprudence dictates that the determination of who are the legal heirs of the deceased must be that the RTC erred in ruling on Gaudiosos heirship which should, as herein discussed, be
made in the proper special proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary suit for recovery of threshed out and determined in the proper special proceeding. As such, the foregoing
ownership and possession of property.1wphi1 This must take precedence over the action for pronouncement should therefore be devoid of any legal effect.
recovery of possession and ownership. The Court has consistently ruled that the trial court
cannot make a declaration of heirship in the civil action for the reason that such a declaration can WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246 is hereby
only be made in a special proceeding. Under Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court, AFFIRMED, without prejudice to any subsequent proceeding to determine the lawful heirs of the
a civil action is defined as one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of late Magdaleno Ypon and the rights concomitant therewith.
a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong while a special proceeding is a remedy by which
a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact. It is then decisively clear that the SO ORDERED.
declaration of heirship can be made only in a special proceeding inasmuch as the petitioners
here are seeking the establishment of a status or right.

In the early case of Litam, et al. v. Rivera, this Court ruled that the declaration of heirship must be
made in a special proceeding, and not in an independent civil action. This doctrine was reiterated
in Solivio v. Court of Appeals x x x:

In the more recent case of Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, the Court reiterated its ruling that
matters relating to the rights of filiation and heirship must be ventilated in the proper probate
court in a special proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of determining such rights.
Citing the case of Agapay v. Palang, this Court held that the status of an illegitimate child who
claimed to be an heir to a decedent's estate could not be adjudicated in an ordinary civil action
which, as in this case, was for the recovery of property.22 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied;
citations omitted)
Area--------------------------------------------------------793 square meters
Area sought to be-----------------------------------------478 square meters expropriated
FIRST DIVISION Tax Declaration-------------------------------------------03450
Title No. ---------------------------------------------------31832
Market value for the whole lot--------------------------P1,666,530.00
Market value of the Area to be expropriated----------P100,380.00
[G.R. No. 142971. May 7, 2002] Assessed Value--------------------------------------------P49,960.00

for a public purpose, i.e., for the construction of a public road which shall serve as an
access/relief road of Gorordo Avenue to extend to the General Maxilum Avenue and the back of
THE CITY OF CEBU, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES APOLONIO and BLASA DEDAMO, respondents. Magellan International Hotel Roads in Cebu City. The lots are the most suitable site for the
purpose. The total area sought to be expropriated is 1,624 square meters with an assessed value
DECISION of P1,786,400. Petitioner deposited with the Philippine National Bank the amount of P51,156
representing 15% of the fair market value of the property to enable the petitioner to take
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: immediate possession of the property pursuant to Section 19 of R.A. No. 7160.[2]

In its petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, Respondents, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint because the purpose for which their
petitioner City of Cebu assails the decision of 11 October 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. property was to be expropriated was not for a public purpose but for benefit of a single private
CV No. 59204[1] affirming the judgment of 7 May 1996 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13, entity, the Cebu Holdings, Inc. Petitioner could simply buy directly from them the property at its
Cebu City, in Civil Case No. CEB-14632, a case for eminent domain, which fixed the valuation of fair market value if it wanted to, just like what it did with the neighboring lots. Besides, the price
the land subject thereof on the basis of the recommendation of the commissioners appointed by offered was very low in light of the consideration of P20,000 per square meter, more or less,
it. which petitioner paid to the neighboring lots. Finally, respondents alleged that they have no
other land in Cebu City.
The material operative facts are not disputed.
A pre-trial was thereafter had.
On 17 September 1993, petitioner City of Cebu filed in Civil Case No. CEB-14632 a
complaint for eminent domain against respondents spouses Apolonio and Blasa Dedamo. The On 23 August 1994, petitioner filed a motion for the issuance of a writ of possession
petitioner alleged therein that it needed the following parcels of land of respondents, to wit: pursuant to Section 19 of R.A. No. 7160. The motion was granted by the trial court on 21
September 1994.[3]
Lot No. 1527 On 14 December 1994, the parties executed and submitted to the trial court an
Agreement[4] wherein they declared that they have partially settled the case and in consideration
Area----------------------------1,146 square meters thereof they agreed:
Tax Declaration---------------03472
1. That the SECOND PARTY hereby conforms to the intention to [sic] the FIRST PARTY
Title No.-----------------------31833
in expropriating their parcels of land in the above-cited case as for public purpose
Market value------------------P240,660.00
and for the benefit of the general public;
Assessed Value---------------P72,200.00
2. That the SECOND PARTY agrees to part with the ownership of the subject parcels of
Lot No. 1528 land in favor of the FIRST PARTY provided the latter will pay just compensation for
the same in the amount determined by the court after due notice and hearing;
3. That in the meantime the SECOND PARTY agrees to receive the amount of ONE Plaintiff is directed to pay Spouses Apolonio S. Dedamo and Blasa Dedamo the sum of pesos:
MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED PESOS TWENTY FOUR MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND AND NINE HUNDRED
(1,786,400.00) as provisional payment for the subject parcels of land, without THIRTY (P24,865.930.00) representing the compensation mentioned in the Complaint.
prejudice to the final valuation as maybe determined by the court;
4. That the FIRST PARTY in the light of the issuance of the Writ of Possession Order Plaintiff and defendants are directed to pay the following commissioners fee;
dated September 21, 1994 issued by the Honorable Court, agreed to take
possession over that portion of the lot sought to be expropriated where the house 1. To Palermo Lugo - P21,000.00
of the SECOND PARTY was located only after fifteen (15) days upon the receipt of 2. To Herbert Buot - P19,000.00
the SECOND PARTY of the amount of P1,786,400.00; 3. To Alfredo Cisneros - P19,000.00

5. That the SECOND PARTY upon receipt of the aforesaid provisional amount, shall Without pronouncement as to cost.
turn over to the FIRST PARTY the title of the lot and within the lapse of the fifteen
(15) days grace period will voluntarily demolish their house and the other
SO ORDERED.
structure that may be located thereon at their own expense;
6. That the FIRST PARTY and the SECOND PARTY jointly petition the Honorable Court Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the commissioners report
to render judgment in said Civil Case No. CEB-14632 in accordance with this was inaccurate since it included an area which was not subject to expropriation. More
AGREEMENT; specifically, it contended that Lot No. 1528 contains 793 square meters but the actual area to be
expropriated is only 478 square meters. The remaining 315 square meters is the subject of a
7. That the judgment sought to be rendered under this agreement shall be followed by
separate expropriation proceeding in Civil Case No. CEB-8348, then pending before Branch 9 of
a supplemental judgment fixing the just compensation for the property of the
the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City.
SECOND PARTY after the Commissioners appointed by this Honorable Court to
determine the same shall have rendered their report and approved by the court. On 16 August 1996, the commissioners submitted an amended assessment for the 478
square meters of Lot No. 1528 and fixed it at P12,824.10 per square meter, or in the amount
Pursuant to said agreement, the trial court appointed three commissioners to determine the
of P20,826,339.50. The assessment was approved as the just compensation thereof by the trial
just compensation of the lots sought to be expropriated. The commissioners were Palermo M.
court in its Order of 27 December 1996.[6] Accordingly, the dispositive portion of the decision
Lugo, who was nominated by petitioner and who was designated as Chairman; Alfredo Cisneros,
was amended to reflect the new valuation.
who was nominated by respondents; and Herbert E. Buot, who was designated by the trial
court. The parties agreed to their appointment. Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, which docketed the case as CA-G.R. CV
No. 59204. Petitioner alleged that the lower court erred in fixing the amount of just
Thereafter, the commissioners submitted their report, which contained their respective
compensation at P20,826,339.50. The just compensation should be based on the prevailing
assessments of and recommendation as to the valuation of the property.
market price of the property at the commencement of the expropriation proceedings.
On the basis of the commissioners report and after due deliberation thereon, the trial court
The petitioner did not convince the Court of Appeals. In its decision of 11 October
rendered its decision on 7 May 1996,[5] the decretal portion of which reads:
1999,[7] the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in accordance with the Still unsatisfied, petitioner filed with us the petition for review in the case at bar. It raises
report of the commissioners. the sole issue of whether just compensation should be determined as of the date of the filing of
the complaint. It asserts that it should be, which in this case should be 17 September 1993 and
not at the time the property was actually taken in 1994, pursuant to the decision in National
Power Corporation vs. Court of Appeals.[8]
In their Comment, respondents maintain that the Court of Appeals did not err in affirming Also, the trial court followed the then governing procedural law on the matter, which was
the decision of the trial court because (1) the trial court decided the case on the basis of the Section 5 of Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, which provided as follows:
agreement of the parties that just compensation shall be fixed by commissioners appointed by
the court; (2) petitioner did not interpose any serious objection to the commissioners report of SEC. 5. Ascertainment of compensation. -- Upon the entry of the order of condemnation, the court
12 August 1996 fixing the just compensation of the 1,624-square meter lot at P20,826,339.50; shall appoint not more than three (3) competent and disinterested persons as commissioners to
hence, it was estopped from attacking the report on which the decision was based; and (3) the ascertain and report to the court the just compensation for the property sought to be taken. The
determined just compensation fixed is even lower than the actual value of the property at the order of appointment shall designate the time and place of the first session of the hearing to be
time of the actual taking in 1994. held by the commissioners and specify the time within which their report is to be filed with the
Eminent domain is a fundamental State power that is inseparable from sovereignty. It is the court.
Governments right to appropriate, in the nature of a compulsory sale to the State, private
property for public use or purpose.[9] However, the Government must pay the owner thereof just More than anything else, the parties, by a solemn document freely and voluntarily agreed
compensation as consideration therefor. upon by them, agreed to be bound by the report of the commission and approved by the trial
court. The agreement is a contract between the parties. It has the force of law between them and
In the case at bar, the applicable law as to the point of reckoning for the determination of should be complied with in good faith. Article 1159 and 1315 of the Civil Code explicitly
just compensation is Section 19 of R.A. No. 7160, which expressly provides that just provides:
compensation shall be determined as of the time of actual taking.The Section reads as follows:
Art. 1159. Obligations arising from contracts have the force of law between the contracting
SECTION 19. Eminent Domain. -- A local government unit may, through its chief executive and parties and should be complied with in good faith.
acting pursuant to an ordinance, exercise the power of eminent domain for public use, or
purpose or welfare for the benefit of the poor and the landless, upon payment of just Art. 1315. Contracts are perfected by mere consent, and from that moment the parties are bound
compensation, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws: Provided, not only to the fulfillment of what has been expressly stipulated but also to all the consequences
however, That the power of eminent domain may not be exercised unless a valid and definite which, according to their nature, may be in keeping with good faith, usage and law.
offer has been previously made to the owner, and such offer was not accepted: Provided,
further, That the local government unit may immediately take possession of the property upon
Furthermore, during the hearing on 22 November 1996, petitioner did not interpose a
the filing of the expropriation proceedings and upon making a deposit with the proper court of at
serious objection.[11] It is therefore too late for petitioner to question the valuation now without
least fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property based on the current tax
violating the principle of equitable estoppel. Estoppel in pais arises when one, by his acts,
declaration of the property to be expropriated: Provided finally, That, the amount to be paid for
representations or admissions, or by his own silence when he ought to speak out, intentionally or
the expropriated property shall be determined by the proper court, based on the fair market
through culpable negligence, induces another to believe certain facts to exist and such other
value at the time of the taking of the property.
rightfully relies and acts on such belief, so that he will be prejudiced if the former is permitted to
deny the existence of such facts.[12] Records show that petitioner consented to conform with the
The petitioner has misread our ruling in The National Power Corp. vs. Court of valuation recommended by the commissioners. It cannot detract from its agreement now and
Appeals.[10] We did not categorically rule in that case that just compensation should be assail correctness of the commissioners assessment.
determined as of the filing of the complaint. We explicitly stated therein that although the
general rule in determining just compensation in eminent domain is the value of the property as Finally, while Section 4, Rule 67 of the Rules of Court provides that just compensation shall
of the date of the filing of the complaint, the rule admits of an exception: where this Court fixed be determined at the time of the filing of the complaint for expropriation, [13]such law cannot
the value of the property as of the date it was taken and not at the date of the commencement of prevail over R.A. 7160, which is a substantive law.[14]
the expropriation proceedings.
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the assailed judgment of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 59204, the petition in this case is hereby DENIED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.