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JUDGMENT

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Final and Executory Judgment

Courts are duty-bound to put an end to controversies.  Any attempt to prolong, resurrect or juggle them should be firmly struck down.  The system of judicial review should not be misused and abused to evade the operation of final and executory judgments. Moreover, the remand of a case does not nullify the entire proceedings.  It merely authorizes the trial court to receive additional evidence, not to conduct a trial de novo.  

Second Issue: Final and Executory Judgment

Petitioner condemns the unfairness of the trial court when it ruled that he had waived his right to submit evidence, when it should have merely ordered plaintiff to present its evidence first.  He interprets the CA remand to mean that both parties, subject to cross-examination, would again present their respective sets of evidence.

We disagree.  The CA remanded the case to the court of origin for further hearing, not for retrial.  A motion for new trial under Rule 37 of the Rules of Court, is a remedy separate and distinct from an appeal.  Plaintiff (herein respondent) had rested its case long before the September 11, 1987 Decision was rendered.  In fact, the evidence adduced by herein respondent became the sole basis of the Default Judgment of September 11, 1987.

Finally, the Court holds that the September 11, 1987 Decision of the trial court become final and executory on June 28, 1993.A Writ of Execution of the March 16, 1995 Order of the trial court reinstating the September 17, 1987 Decision was issued by the trial court on May 11, 1995.  Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party can have it executed as a matter of right, and the issuance of a Writ of Execution becomes a ministerial duty of the court.[Rubio v. MTCC, Branch 4, Cagayan de Oro City, 252 SCRA 172, 183, January 24, 1996; Soco v. Court of Appeals, 263 SCRA 449, 457, October 21, 1996. ] It is axiomatic that once a decision attains finality, it becomes the law of the case regardless of any claim that it is erroneous.[Asuncion v. National Labor Relations Commission, 273 SCRA 498, 501, June 17, 1997; Enriquez v. Court of Appeals, 202 SCRA 487, 491-492, October 4, 1991] Having been rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction acting within its authority, the judgment may no longer be altered even at the risk of occasional legal infirmities or errors it may contain.[San Juan v. Cuento, 160 SCRA 277, 284, April 15, 1988. ]

The February 24, 1993 Resolution of this Court in GR No. 108354 barred not only a rehash of the same issues resolved in the Petition, but also any other issues that might have been raised therein.  An existing final judgment or decree -- rendered upon the merits, without fraud or collusion, by a court of competent jurisdiction acting upon a matter within its authority -- is conclusive of the rights of the parties and their privies.  This ruling holds in all other actions or suits, in the same or any other judicial tribunal of concurrent jurisdiction, touching on the points or matters in issue in the first suit.[Phil. National Bank v. Barretto, 52 Phil. 818, 823-824, February 21, 1929]

Indeed, nothing decided on in the first appeal, between the same parties and the same facts, can be reexamined in a second or subsequent appeal.  Right or wrong, the decision in the first appeal is binding on both the trial and the appellate courts for the purpose of that case and for that case only.

Courts will simply refuse to reopen what has been decided.  They will not allow the same parties or their privies to litigate anew a question, once it has been considered and decided with finality.  Litigations must end and terminate sometime and somewhere.  The effective and efficient administration of justice requires that once a judgment has become final, the prevailing party should not be deprived of the fruits of the verdict by subsequent suits on the same issues filed by the same parties. 

Courts are duty-bound to put an end to controversies.  Any attempt to prolong, resurrect or juggle them should be firmly struck down.  The system of judicial review should not be misused and abused to evade the operation of final and executory judgments.

Justice Panganiban, Third Division, Buaya v. Stronghold Insurance Co., Inc. [G.R. No. 139020.  October 11, 2000]

 

Granting that the Labor Arbiter has committed a mistake in failing to indicate in the dispositive portion that the liability of respondents therein is solidary, the correction -- which is substantial -- can no longer be allowed in this case because the judgment has already become final and executory.

It is an elementary principle of procedure that the resolution of the court in a given issue as embodied in the dispositive part of a decision or order is the controlling factor as to settlement of rights of the parties.15 [Suntay vs. Conjuangco-Suntay, 300 SCRA 760 [1998].] Once a decision or order becomes final and executory, it is removed from the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered it to further alter or amend it.16 [Schering Employees’ Labor Union vs. NLRC, 296 SCRA 237 [1998]; Nacuray vs. NLRC, 270 SCRA 9 [1997].] It thereby becomes immutable and unalterable and any amendment or alteration which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that purpose.17 [Arcenas vs. Court of Appeals, 299 SCRA 733 [1998].] An order of execution which varies the tenor of the judgment or exceeds the terms thereof is a nullity.18 [Philippine Bank of Communications vs. Court of Appeals, 279 SCRA 364 [1997].]

Justice Buena, Second Division, INIMACO v. NLRC, [G.R. No. 101723. May 11, 2000]  

 

"To once again re-open that issue through a different avenue would defeat the existence of our courts as final arbiters of legal controversies. Having attained finality, the decision is beyond review or modification even by this Court.12 [Toledo-Banaga vs. Court of Appeals, 302 SCRA, 331, 341 [1999], citing Carlet vs. Court of Appeals, 275 SCRA 97 [1997].]

Justice Pardo, First Division, Calusin v. Court of Appeals, Sps. Alzaga and Camaligan [G.R. No. 128405. June 21, 2000]

 

Petitioners can no longer question a judgment which has already become final and executory. The order of the Regional Trial Court on the payment of legal interest was issued on September 18, 1991 in the case for specific performance against the De la Ramas (Civil Case No. 6974-P). Hence, they are already barred from questioning it now in this proceeding.

Justice Mendoza, Second Division, RP v. Salem Investment Corporation, Maria Del Carmen Roxas De Elizalde, Concepcion Cabarrus Vda. De Santos [G.R. No. 137569. June 23, 2000] De La Rama v. Guerrero  

 
A final judgment may be annulled upon either of two grounds: (1) extrinsic fraud, and (2) lack of jurisdiction.

For want of proper service of summons upon defendants, the trial court in Civil Case No. 63117 never acquired jurisdiction over the former and hence, could not render valid judgment over their persons. Hence, the execution sales of the "Thames" vehicle and Lot 8015, pursuant to said void judgment, are void ab initio. A final judgment may be annulled upon either of two grounds: (1) extrinsic fraud, and (2) lack of jurisdiction.19 [Strait Times, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 294 SCRA 714, 721 (1998); Salonga v. Court of Appeals, 269 SCRA 534, 543 (1997).] In the present case, the trial court did not have jurisdiction. No reversible error was thus committed by the Court of Appeals in annulling the judgment in Civil Case No. 63117 for absence of jurisdiction on the part of the court which rendered the same.

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Sps. Miranda and Jogouilon v. CA, Lucila Vda. De Java [G.R. No. 114243. February 23, 2000]

 

 
Judgments by default are generally looked upon with disfavor. .A default judgment does not pretend to be based upon the merits of the controversy.

Judgments by default are generally looked upon with disfavor.10 [Trajano vs. Cruz, 80 SCRA 712, 717 (1977)] A default judgment does not pretend to be based upon the merits of the controversy.11 [Coombs vs. Santos, 24 Phil 446, 449 (1913)] A judgment by default may amount to a positive and considerable injustice to the defendant; and the possibility of such serious consequences necessitates a careful examination of the grounds upon which the defendant asks that it be set aside. Under the circumstances of this case, respondent appellate court did not err nor gravely abused its discretion when it eschewed technicalities and allowed the parties to litigate. 

Extension of time to plead. — Upon motion and on such terms as may be just, the court may extend the time to plead provided in these Rules.

Respondent appellate court emphasized that a liberal construction of the Rules is allowed by this Court to promote speedy, just, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding. Under Section 11 of Rule 118 [Sec. 11. Extension of time to plead. — Upon motion and on such terms as may be just, the court may extend the time to plead provided in these Rules.

The court may also, upon like terms, allow an answer or other pleading to be filed after the time fixed by these Rules. (Formerly Section 7 of Rule 11 of the Rules of Court.)8 of the New Rules of Civil Procedure, it is within the discretion of the trial court to permit the filing of defendant’s answer even beyond the reglementary period,9 [Pindañgan Agricultural Co. vs. Estrada, 89 Phil. 80, 81 (1951), Banares vs. Flordelisa, 51 Phil. 786, 788 (1928)] provided there is justification for the belated action, and there was no showing that the defendant intended to delay the case. Where the failure of defendant to seasonably file his answer is excusable and will not in any way prejudice the plaintiff’s substantial rights, courts apply the Rules liberally and set aside the default order, or deny the motion by the plaintiff. In this case, respondent trial judge found that private respondent had a meritorious defense and the case needed a full-blown trial. Thus, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge, we agree that the conclusions of the trial court ought not to be disturbed.

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Spouses Rudy S. Ampeloquio, Sr. and Lagrimas Obnamia vs. Court of Appeals, Hon.. Federico A. Tanada, Philippine National Bank  G.R. No. 124243. June 15, 2000

A judgment of default does not imply a waiver of rights except that of being heard and presenting evidence in defendant’s favor. It does not imply admission by the defendant of the facts and causes of action of the plaintiff, because the codal section45 [Section 1, Rule 18 of the Revised Rules of Court.]

Judgment by default. – If the defendant fails to answer within the time specified in these rules, the court shall, upon motion of the plaintiff and proof of such failure, declare the defendant in default. Thereupon the court shall proceed to receive the plaintiff’s evidence and render judgment granting him such relief as the complaint and the facts proven may warrant. This provision applies where no answer is made to a counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party complaint within the period provided in the rules.] requires the latter to adduce evidence in support of his allegations as an indispensable condition before final judgment could be given in his favor. Nor could it be interpreted as an admission by the defendant that the plaintiff’s causes of action find support in the law or that the latter is entitled to the relief prayed for.46 [Francisco, The Revised Rules of Court in the Philippines, Annotated and Commented, Volume 1, 1973 ed., p. 1013.] This is especially true with respect to a defendant who had filed his answer but had been subsequently declared in default for failing to appear at the trial since he has had an opportunity to traverse, via his answer, the material averments contained in the complaint. Such defendant has a better standing than a defendant who has neither answered nor appeared at trial.47 [Mangelen v. Court of Appeals, 215 SCRA 230, 245 (1992); Gochangco v. CFI of Negros Occidental, 157 SCRA 40, 55 (1988).] The former should be allowed to reiterate all affirmative defenses pleaded in his answer before the Court of Appeals. Likewise, the Court of Appeals may review the correctness of the evaluation of the plaintiff’s evidence by the lower court.

Justice De Leon, Second Division, [G.R. No. 92735. June 8, 2000], [G.R. No. 94867. June 8, 2000], [G.R. No. 95578. June 8, 2000]

 

 

Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party can have it executed as a matter of right and the granting of execution becomes a ministerial duty of the court.

As a rule, a judgment upon a compromise is at once final and immediately executory.15 [Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium Book 1, Fifth Revised Edition (1988) citing Pamintuan vs. Muñoz, 22 SCRA 1109 (1968); Central Bank vs. CA, et. al., 61 SCRA 348 (1974); The Pasay City Government, et al. vs. CFI of Manila, et. al., 132 SCRA 156 (1984)] Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party can have it executed as a matter of right and the granting of execution becomes a ministerial duty of the court.16 [Cruz vs. Leabres, 244 SCRA 194 (1995)] The non-fulfillment of the terms and conditions of a compromise agreement approved by the court justifies execution thereof and the issuance of a writ for the said purpose is the court's ministerial duty, enforceable by mandamus.17 [Abinujar vs. CA, 243 SCRA 531 (1995)] 

Justice Kapunan, First Division, Rosauro v. Judge Villanueva [A.M. No. RTJ-99-1433. June 26, 2000]

 

Litigation must at some time be terminated, even at the risk of occasional errors.  Public policy dictates that once a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable, the prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge devised by the losing party.  Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment sets at naught the role of courts in disposing justiciable controversies with finality.

Justice Purisima, Third Division, Huerta Alba Resort, Inc. v. CA and Syndicated Management Group, Inc. [G.R. No. 128567.  September 1, 2000]

 

 

The rule that once a decision becomes final and executory, it is the ministerial duty of the court to order its execution, is not an absolute one. We have allowed the suspension of execution in cases of special and exceptional nature when it becomes imperative in the higher interest of justice

Petitioners asseverate that the judgments of the lower courts, already final and executory, cannot be directly or indirectly altered, modified, amended, reversed or invalidated.

The rule that once a decision becomes final and executory, it is the ministerial duty of the court to order its execution, is not an absolute one. We have allowed the suspension of execution in cases of special and exceptional nature when it becomes imperative in the higher interest of justice.41 [Lipana v. Development Bank of Rizal, 154 SCRA 257, 261 (1987); Pascual v. Tan, 85 Phil. 164, 165 (1949).] The unjust and inequitable effects upon various other claimants against Aboitiz should we allow the execution of judgments for the full indemnification of petitioners’ claims impel us to uphold the stay of execution as ordered by the respondent Court of Appeals. We reiterate our pronouncement in Aboitiz Shipping Corporation vs. General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation on this very same issue.

"This brings us to the primary question herein which is whether or not respondent court erred in granting execution of the full judgment award in Civil Case No. 14425 (G.R. No. 89757), thus effectively denying the application of the limited liability enunciated under the appropriate articles of the Code of Commerce. x x x. Collaterally, determination of the question of whether execution of judgments which have become final and executory may be stayed is also an issue.

"We shall tackle the latter issue first. This Court has always been consistent in its stand that the very purpose for its existence is to see the accomplishment of the ends of justice. Consistent with this view, a number of decisions have originated herefrom, the tenor of which is that no procedural consideration is sancrosanct if such shall result in the subverting of justice. The right to execution after finality of a decision is certainly no exception to this. Thus, in Cabrias v. Adil (135 SCRA 355 [1885]), this Court ruled that:

‘xxx............xxx............xxx

‘x x x every court having jurisdiction to render a particular judgment has inherent power to enforce it, and to exercise equitable control over such enforcement. The court has authority to inquire whether its judgment has been executed, and will remove obstructions to the enforcement thereof. Such authority extends not only to such orders and such writs as may be necessary to prevent an improper enforcement of the judgment. If a judgment is sought to be perverted and made a medium of consummating a wrong the court on proper application can prevent it.’"42 [Supra, see note 39, pp. pp. 364-365.]

Justice De Leon, Second Division, [G.R. No. 92735. June 8, 2000], [G.R. No. 94867. June 8, 2000], [G.R. No. 95578. June 8, 2000]  

 

 

The fact that the judge who tried the case was different from the judge who penned the decision does not in any way taint the same. 

The fact that the judge who tried the case was different from the judge who penned the decision does not in any way taint the same. Indeed, "the efficacy of a decision is not necessarily impaired by the fact that its writer only took over from a colleague who had earlier presided at the trial, unless there is showing of grave abuse of discretion in the factual findings reached by him."14 [People vs. Gementiza, 285 SCRA 478 (1998)] There is no such showing in this case.

Justice Kapunan, First Division, Quinao v. People rep. By the office of SolGen. And Francisco Del Monte [G.R. No. 139603. July 14, 2000]

 

 

A party to a case who failed to invoked his claim in the main case, while having the opportunity to do so, will be precluded, subsequently, from invoking his claim, even if it were true, after the decision has become final, otherwise the judgment may be reduced to a mockery and the administration of justice may be placed in disrepute.”

The failure of petitioner to seasonably assert its alleged right under Section 78 of R.A. No. 337 precludes it from so doing at this late stage of the case.  Estoppel may be successfully invoked if the party fails to raise the question in the early stages of the proceedings.14 [Corona vs. Court of Appeals, 214 SCRA 378, 392.] Thus, “a party to a case who failed to invoked his claim in the main case, while having the opportunity to do so, will be precluded, subsequently, from invoking his claim, even if it were true, after the decision has become final, otherwise the judgment may be reduced to a mockery and the administration of justice may be placed in disrepute.”15 [Applications of Estoppel in Litigation, 216 SCRA 826, 834 citing:  Tuazon vs. Arca, 23 SCRA 1308, 1312.]

Justice Purisima, Third Division, Huerta Alba Resort, Inc. v. CA and Syndicated Management Group, Inc. [G.R. No. 128567.  September 1, 2000]

 

 

Petitioner belabors the fact that the letter is not categorical and precise in seeking his eviction from the property. He misses the point. It must be stressed that courts and quasi-judicial bodies, in the exercise of their functions and in making decisions, must not be too dogmatic as to restrict themselves to literal interpretation of words, phrases and sentences. A complete and wholistic view must be taken in order to render a just and equitable judgment.11 [Philippines Today, Inc. vs. NLRC, 267 SCRA 202, 215 (1997).]

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Siapan v. CA and Hon. Sayo, Jr., [G.R. No. 111928. March 1, 2000]  

 

 

No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.

The trial court’s finding of facts is but a summary of the testimonies of the witnesses and the documentary evidence presented by the parties. It did not distinctly and clearly set forth, nor substantiate, the factual and legal bases for holding respondents TWSI, Pan Am and Tagunicar jointly and severally liable. In Del Mundo vs. CA, et al.6 [240 SCRA 348 (1995).] where the trial court, after summarizing the conflicting asseverations of the parties, disposed of the kernel issue in just two (2) paragraphs, we held:

"It is understandable that courts, with their heavy dockets and time constraints, often find themselves with little to spare in the preparation of decisions to the extent most desirable. We have thus pointed out that judges might learn to synthesize and to simplify their pronouncements. Nevertheless, concisely written such as they may be, decisions must still distinctly and clearly express, at least in minimum essence, its factual and legal bases."

For failing to explain clearly and well the factual and legal bases of its award of moral damages, we set it aside in said case. Once more, we stress that nothing less than Section 14 of Article VIII of the Constitution requires that "no decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based." This is demanded by the due process clause of the Constitution. In the case at bar, the decision of the trial court leaves much to be desired both in form and substance. Even while said decision infringes the Constitution, we will not belabor this infirmity and rather examine the sufficiency of the evidence submitted by the petitioners.

Justice Puno, First Division, Cho and Yu v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., Tourits World Services, Inc., Julieta Canilao and Tagunicar [G.R. No. 123560. March 27, 2000]  

 

 

Administrative decisions must end sometime as public policy demands that finality be written on controversies.Again, our undeviating jurisprudence is that final judgments may no longer be reviewed or in any way modified directly or indirectly by a higher court, not even by the Supreme Court, much less by any other official, branch or department of Government.

THIRD. There is a further impediment in the exercise of the audit power of the respondent COA. The MSPB decision of January 29, 1993 became final and executory when the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur failed to appeal within the reglementary period. To be sure, the decision has already been partially executed as the Acting Provincial Treasurer had paid petitioners some of their backwages. Again, our undeviating jurisprudence is that final judgments may no longer be reviewed or in any way modified directly or indirectly by a higher court, not even by the Supreme Court, much less by any other official, branch or department of Government.18 [Johnson & Johnson (Phils.) Inc. v. CA, et al., 262 SCRA 298 (1996)] Administrative decisions must end sometime as public policy demands that finality be written on controversies.19 [CANORECO, et al. v. Hon. Torres, et al., 286 SCRA 666, 681 (1998)] In the case at bar, the action taken by COA in disallowing the further payment by the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur of backwages due the petitioners amended the final decision of the MSPB. The jurisdiction of the MSPB to render said decision is unquestionable. This decision cannot be categorized as void. Thus, we cannot allow the COA to set it aside in the exercise of its broad powers of audit. The audit authority of COA is intended to prevent irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties.20 [Article IX-D, Section 2(2), 1987 Constitution.] Payment of backwages to illegally dismissed government employees can hardly be described as irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable. This is the reason why the Acting Provincial Treasurer, despite the pendency of his query with the COA, proceeded to release government funds in partial payment of the claims of petitioners.

En Banc, Justice Puno, Uy et al., COA et al., [G.R. No. 130685. March 21, 2000]

 

 

A valid exercise of the discretion to allow execution pending appeal requires that it should be based "upon good reasons to be stated in a special order." The following constitute "good reasons" and a combination of two or more of them will suffice to grant execution pending appeal: (1.) public interest involved or will of the electorate; (2.) the shortness of the remaining portion of the term of the contested office; and (3.) the length of time that the election contest has been pending (emphasis supplied).

The issue to be resolved in this petition is whether the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction in annulling the order of the MTC granting herein petitioner’s motion for execution pending appeal on the ground that there were no "good reasons" for the issuance therefor.

We rule in the negative.

Execution of judgments pending appeal in election cases is governed by Section 2, Rule 396 [As amended by the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure.] of the Rules of Court which reads:

"Sec. 2. Discretionary execution. –

(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 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 motion, said court may, in its discretion, order execution of a judgment or final order even before the expiration of the period to appeal.

After the trial court has lost jurisdiction, the motion for execution pending appeal may be filed in the appellate court.

Discretionary execution may only issue upon good reasons to be stated in a special order after due hearing."

A valid exercise of the discretion to allow execution pending appeal requires that it should be based "upon good reasons to be stated in a special order." The following constitute "good reasons" and a combination of two or more of them will suffice to grant execution pending appeal: (1.) public interest involved or will of the electorate; (2.) the shortness of the remaining portion of the term of the contested office; and (3.) the length of time that the election contest has been pending (emphasis supplied).7 [Ramas vs. Comelec, 286 SCRA 189 at p. 205 [1998].] In Lauban vs. COMELEC8 [G.R. No. 128473, Resolution dated August 26, 1997.], this Court ruled that "shortness of the remaining term of office and posting a bond are not good reasons for execution of a judgment pending appeal xxx".9 [Ibid., at p. 3.]

In the present case, the petitioner relies solely on one ground to support his petition i.e. "shortness of term". We find that the COMELEC committed no reversible error in ruling that:

"‘Shortness of term’, alone and by itself cannot justify premature execution. It must be manifest in the decision sought to be executed that the defeat of the protestee and the victory of the protestant has been clearly established."10 [COMELEC Resolution, p. 5; Rollo, p. 36.]

Moreover, Republic Act No. 8524,11 ["AN ACT CHANGING THE TERM OF OFFICE OF BARANGAY OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG KABATAAN FROM THREE (3) YEARS TO FIVE (5) YEARS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE SECTION 43 OF REPUBLIC ACT NUMBERED SEVEN THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SIXTY, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES"] which took effect in 1998, has extended the term of office of barangay officials to five (5) years, and this negates, or removes the factual basis for the finding of the MTC that the term of the contested office "had past almost midway of the whole term." COMELEC Chairman Harriet Demetriou correctly points out in her SEPARATE CONCURRING OPINION12 [Rollo, pp. 40-44.] that:

"Obviously, the court a quo erroneously assumed that the term of the barangay captains is only for three (3) years. Hence, the conclusion that the term of the contested office is almost in its midway. This, too, has no leg to stand on.

It shall be worth stressing that Republic Act No. 8524 which took effect sometime in 1998 extended the term of office of barangay officials to five (5)years. Thus, it provides:

‘Section 1. Section 43 of Republic Act No. 1760, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, is hereby amended to read as follows:

‘SEC. 43. Term of Office. –xxx xxxx

‘c the term of barangay officials and members of the sangguniang kabataan shall be for five (5) years, which shall begin after the regular election of barangay officials on the second Monday of May 1997 xxx xxx.

Sec. 2. The provisions of this Act shall apply to the incumbent barangay officials xxx xxxx.’

Perfunctorily, the term of the contested office will expire in the year 2002 or more or less, three years from now. "13 [Rollo, pp. 42-43.]

Petitioner’s argument that COMELEC’s nullification of the MTC order does not imply that LAXINA is entitled to discharge the functions of Punong Brangay and that FERMO should cease and desist from performing said functions is flawed. The order of the COMELEC annulling the grant of execution pending appeal would be inutile if it did not have the effect of authorizing LAXINA to discharge the functions of Punong Barangay during the pendency of the appeal. When the COMELEC nullified the writ of execution pending appeal in favor of FERMO, the decision of the MTC proclaiming FERMO as the winner of the election was stayed14 [Under Rule 39, § 4 of the Rules of Court, only judgments in actions for injunction, receivership, accounting and support are immediately executory and are not stayed by an appeal taken therefrom unless otherwise ordered by the trial court.] and the "status quo" or the last actual peaceful uncontested situation preceding the controversy15 [Verzosa vs. CA, 299 SCRA 100 at p. 109 [1998].] was restored. Thus, the COMELEC correctly ordered FERMO to cease and desist from performing the functions of Punong Barangay considering that LAXINA was the proclaimed winner of the election prior to FERMO’s filing of the election protest. The order for FERMO to relinquish his post to LAXINA pending final resolution of the appeal is a logical and necessary consequence of the denial of execution pending appeal.

Finally, there is nothing in the COMELEC Resolution which shows that the COMELEC made "conclusionary findings" which would in effect "pre-judge" the MTC decision itself. The Resolution categorically stated that the COMELEC shall not attempt to resolve who between LAXINA and FERMO has the right to occupy the contested seat for that question will appropriately be settled in the pending appeal. Although the Resolution cited certain "lapses patent on the decision itself" which "cast a cloud of uncertainty over the victory of Fermo", the observation was made to stress that no other justification other than the "shortness of term" would justify premature execution.

Justice Gonzaga-Reyes, En Banc, Fermo v. COMELEC and Laxina, Sr. [G.R. No. 140179. March 13, 2000]  

 

 

Litigation must at some time be terminated, even at the risk of occasional errors.  Public policy dictates that once a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable, the prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge devised by the losing party.  Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment sets at naught the role of courts in disposing justiciable controversies with finality.

Justice Purisima, Third Division, Huerta Alba Resort, Inc. v. CA and Syndicated Management Group, Inc. [G.R. No. 128567.  September 1, 2000]

 

 

It is axiomatic that after a judgment has been fully satisfied, the case is deemed terminated once and for all. Even in a case involving a judgment that was only partially satisfied, this Court held that the trial court had lost its jurisdiction over the part of the proceedings involving the auction of the properties representing the amount already satisfied.

 

Petitioners question, among others, the adequacy of the manifestation and motion filed by respondent in the RTC to assail the judgment rendered thereby, which was not only final and executory, but in fact already executed. Respondent’s motion, petitioners point out, could not be regarded as one for intervention since the requisites thereof under Rule 19 of the Rules of Court were not complied with. Neither can the motion be considered a motion for reconsideration under Rule 37, the same having been filed beyond the allowed period. Nor can it be deemed a petition for relief under Rule 38 for the motion is not based on fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence.

We agree with petitioners that respondent’s motion was inadequate to set aside the decision of the RTC, and the execution proceedings conducted pursuant thereto, when the judgment had already been satisfied. It is axiomatic that after a judgment has been fully satisfied, the case is deemed terminated once and for all.6 [Freeman, Inc. vs. Securities and Exchange Commission, 233 SCRA 735 (1994).] Even in a case7 [Seavan Carrier, Inc. vs. GTI Sportswear Corporation, 137 SCRA 580 (1985).] involving a judgment that was only partially satisfied, this Court held that the trial court had lost its jurisdiction over the part of the proceedings involving the auction of the properties representing the amount already satisfied. We ratiocinated, thus:

The general rule is "A case in which an execution has been issued is regarded as still pending so that all proceedings on the execution are proceedings in the suit. There is no question that the court which rendered the judgment has a general supervisory control over its process of execution, and this power carries with it the right to determine every question of fact and law which may be involved in the execution." (Vda. De Paman v. Señeris, 115 SCRA 709). Moreover, it has been stated that it is "when the judgment has been satisfied that the same passes beyond review, for satisfaction thereof is the last act and end of the proceedings. Payment produces permanent and irrevocable discharge." (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1979 ed. Vol. II, p. 405).

Justice Kapunan, First Division, Sps. Malolos and Virginia v. Aida Dy [G.R. No. 132555. February 17, 2000]  

 

A judgment is on the merits when it determines the rights and liabilities of the parties based on the ultimate facts as disclosed by the pleadings or issues presented for trial. It is not necessary that there should have been a trial, actual hearing, or arguments on the facts of the case. For as long as the parties had full legal opportunity to be heard on their respective claims and contentions, the judgment is on the merits.

Anent the third element, petitioner argues that the order of dismissal in Civil Case No. N-4614 is not a decision on the merits and that it was error for the appellate court to rule otherwise.

A judgment is on the merits when it determines the rights and liabilities of the parties based on the ultimate facts as disclosed by the pleadings or issues presented for trial.8 [Thompson-Hayward Chemical co. Cyprus Mines Corp., 8 Kan App. 2d 487, 660 P.2d 973, 975.] It is not necessary that there should have been a trial, actual hearing, or arguments on the facts of the case.9 [Mendiola v. Court of Appeals, 327 Phil. 1156, 1164 (1996).] For as long as the parties had full legal opportunity to be heard on their respective claims and contentions, the judgment is on the merits.10 [Id. at 1165.]

In the present case, the order of dismissal in Civil Case No. N-4614 was issued only after an actual hearing and after the lower court had considered the evidence of both parties. Further, petitioner was given an opportunity to be heard on its motion for reconsideration. Without doubt, the order of dismissal in Civil Case No. N-4614 is a judgment on the merits.

In G.R. No. 74943, we denied certiorari through a minute resolution. Minute resolutions of this Court denying due course to petitions or dismissing cases summarily, for failure to comply with the formal or substantial requirements laid down therefor by law, are dispositions on the merits.11 [Bernarte, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al, 331 Phil. 643, 659 (1996), citing Minute Resolution of May 6, 1993 in G.R. No. 103712 (Venerando L. Agustin v. The Office of the President, et al.); Smith Bell & Co. v. Court of Appeals, 197 SCRA 201, 207 (1991).]

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Represented by the DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, A. SISON & SONS, INC., BASILIO FRANCISCO, SPS. JUAN BASA AND FLORDELIZA R. MIRAVITE, SPS. JUAN BASA AND ELISEA C. BASA, SPS. AMORSOLO L. BALOY and BARBARA BALOY, SPS. ELISEO D. JOSE and ERLINDA B. JOSE, SPS. GEORGE C. BESA and ENCARNACION FAUSTINO, SPS. MARIANO BANES and MINDA BALOY, SPS. JOSE ANGELES and JOSEFINA M. ANGELES, SPS. LORENZO D. RAMIREZ and SEVILLA P. RAMIREZ, SPS. CONRADO Q. VASQUEZ and PACITA V. VASQUEZ, SOLEDAD BAUTISTA, VIRGINIA V. DE CASTRO, FLORDELIZA J. TOLEDO, SPS. IMOGENE T. PROXEDES, JOSE P. PROXEDES and NOEL J. TOLEDO, SPS. EUFRONIO M. HERNANDO and ADORACION HERNANDO, SPS. TOMAS B. DE VERA, JR., and CONCEPCION F. DE VERA, MELODINA DE CASTRO, SPS. GUILLERMO SABADISTO and ERLINDA SABADISTO, SPS. RAMON R. VICENTE and FORTUNATA S. CRUZ, SPS. BIENVENIDO CRUZ and LIBERTAD S. CRUZ, SPS. ANTONIO G. SAN AGUSTIN and VIOLETA Q. SAN AGUSTIN, SPS. GODOFREDO O. PLATA, JR. and LETICIA V. PLATA, and the REGISTRAR OF DEEDS of CAVITE CITY, respondents, [G.R. No. 103412. February 3, 2000]

 

 

Void and erroneous judgment;  jurisdiction and the exercise of  jurisdiction distinguished.

Petitioners failed to appreciate the distinction between a void and an erroneous judgment and between jurisdiction and the exercise of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction should be distinguished from the exercise thereof (Lamagan v. De La Cruz, 40 SCRA 101 [1971]). The authority to decide a case at all and not the decision rendered therein, is what makes up jurisdiction. The fact that the decision is erroneous does not divest the court that rendered it of the jurisdiction conferred by law to try the case (Quiason, Philippine Courts and Their Jurisdictions, p. 199 [1993 ed.]).

Since jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine a particular case, or the jurisdiction over the subject matter, it does not depend upon the regularity of the exercise by the court of its power (Century Insurance Co. v. Fuentes, 2 SCRA 1168 [1961]).

In the case at bench, there is no question that the Regional Trial Court has the competence to hear and decide Civil Case No. 88-45660, a special civil action for mandamus under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court. There is also no quarrel that said court has jurisdiction over an action for specific performance under Section 19(1) of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1990 (Lapitan v. Scandia, 24 SCRA 479 [1968]). Assuming arguendo that the Regional Trial Court did not have jurisdiction over the said civil case, the principle of estoppel will operate to bar petitioners from raising the question of jurisdiction for the first time in the instant case (Tijam v. Sibonghanay, 23 SCRA 29 [1968]).

Having jurisdiction over the civil case, whatever error may be attributed to the trial court, is simply one of judgment, not of jurisdiction. An error of judgment cannot be corrected by certiorari but by appeal (Robles v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 181 SCRA 780 [1990]; De Castro v. Delta Motor Sales Corporation, 57 SCRA 344 [1978]; Galang v. Endencia, 73 Phil. 391 [1941]). In fact, Mayor Lopez availed of such a remedy when he appealed the decision in Civil Case No. 88-45660 to the Court of Appeals (CA G. R. No. 16477-SP).

Justice Quiason, First Division, HON. ALFREDO S. LIM, in his capacity as Mayor of Manila and THE CITY OF MANILA, Petitioners vs.  HON. FELIPE G. PACQUING  as Judge, Regional Trial Court of Manila  and ASSOCIATED DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondents, G. R. No. 115044,September 1, 1994

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