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325 Phil. 120


[ A.M. No. RTJ-96-1344, March 13, 1996 ]




This is an administrative complaint filed by Veronica Gonzales against Judge Lucas P. Bersamin, Branch 96, RTC, Quezon City, for grave misconduct, knowingly rendering an unjust judgment and unjust interlocutory orders, malicious refusal to implead complainant as an indispensable party and dereliction of duty relative to Civil Case No. Q-94-21444, entitled "Gina Chan and Salvador Chan, represented by Cesar Davila, Jr. v. Register of Deeds of Quezon City, et al."

It appears that in Criminal Case No. 1565-M-88 of the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan ("People v. Zoilo Cruz and Rosalinda Aldeguer Cruz”), the accused were ordered to pay jointly and severally to the herein complainants Veronica Gonzales and Danilo Gonzales the amount of P600,000.00 and that in another case (Civil Case No. Q-91-10081, entitled "Spouses Danilo Gonzales and Veronica Gonzales v. Zoilo Cruz and Rosalinda Aldeguer Cruz") the accused were ordered to pay the herein complainants the sum of P3,700,000.00. In that case, a writ of preliminary attachment was previously issued upon the real property of the accused which was covered by TCT No. 319410.

To satisfy the judgments in the two cases, two (2) notices of levy were presented and entered in the record of real property of Zoilo Cruz and Rosalinda Cruz. It happened that there was at the time pending reconstitution of TCT No. 319410, so that the notices of levy were provisionally entered in the primary entry book of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. The notices of levy were provisionally registered on June 26, 1991 and October 24, 1991, respectively.

On December 3, 1991 TCT No. 319140 was reconstituted and a new title (TCT No. RT-48658 (319140)) was issued in the name of the spouses Cruz.

On August 23, 1994 the spouses Gina Chan and Salvador Chan filed a case against the Register of Deeds of Quezon City, for Cancellation of Notice of Levy with Damages with Prayer for the Immediate Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction. This case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-94-21444 and raffled to respondent judge.

In their complaint spouses Chan alleged that the property subject of the levy had been previously purchased by them from the spouses Cruz by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale dated March 21, 1991. For the same reason that the title of spouses Cruz was still being reconstituted, the deed of sale was provisionally registered on April 1, 1991, several months before the provisionally registration of the notices of levy.

Hence, the reconstituted title issued to the spouses Cruz on December 3, 1991 (TCT No. RT-48658 (319410)) carried the annotations of the deed of sale in favor of the Chans as well as the notices of levy of the herein complainants. Thereafter, by virtue of the deed of sale, a new title (TCT No. 50572) was issued in the name of spouses Gina Chan and Salvador Chan. The annotations in the cancelled reconstituted title were carried over in TCT No. 50572. The spouses Chan claim that since the provisional registration of the deed of sale was prior in time, the notices of levy should not have been carried over in the new title (TCT No. 50572) because at the time of the registration of the notices of levy, the property subject of said levy was no longer owned by spouses Cruz against whom the levy was issued.

In his answer, the Register of Deeds justified his action on the ground that it was his ministerial duty to transfer the annotations on the reconstituted title to the new title. He interposed no objection, however, to the issuance of any mandatory injunction issued to him because "it is precisely such a judicial order x x x that will authorize the Register of Deeds to annotate a memorandum x x x cancelling the notices of levy thereon x x x."

The spouses Chan moved for a judgment on the pleadings. The Register of Deeds manifested that he was submitting to the discretion of the court and that he had no objection to the cancellation of the annotations because "the notices of levy were entered subsequent to the recording of the sale of the property."

Respondent judge thereafter rendered a decision on October 13, 1994 ordering the Register of Deeds to cancel the annotations of the notices of levy on TCT No. 50572.

Hence this complaint by Veronica Gonzales, accusing respondent judge of the following:
(a)   Grave misconduct which encompasses the other charge of favoring one party to the prejudice of other parties-in-interest.

(b)   Knowingly rendering an unjust judgment with regard to respondent judge’s inordinate haste in rendering a decision which summarily ordered the cancellation of complainant’s duly annotated notice of levy on TCT No. RT-48658 (319410) PR-24838 which was carried over to TCT No. 50572 issued in the name of the spouses Chan.

(c)   Knowingly rendering unjust interlocutory orders which tended to favor the cause of the spouses Chan in Civil Case No. Q-94-2 1444 despite being duly apprised by defendant Register of Deeds of Quezon City and his deputy in the Answer of the substantiality of complainant’s annotated claims.

(d)   Malicious refusal to implead herein complainant as an indispensable party-in-interest in Civil Case No. Q-92-2 1444 despite being duly apprised of the substantiality of complainant’s rights and interest over the property in question.

(e)   Dereliction of duty in his handling of Civil Case No. Q-94-21444 considering that he rendered with inordinate haste a decision in gross disregard of the rules on joinder of parties and the constitutional guarantee of due process in summarily ordering the cancellation of complainant’s two duly annotated notices of levy without giving complainant an opportunity to be heard thereon consistent with the sporting idea of fair play.
The Court required respondent judge to comment. Respondent states that there was no need to give notice to complainant of the petition for cancellation of the annotations on TCT No. RT 48658 (319410) because complainant was not a party in the case (Civil Case No. Q-94-21444). He states that if there was any duty to notify complainant, that duty devolved on the Register of Deeds. Respondent judge denies that he acted with inordinate haste in rendering judgment in a summary manner because according to him the registrars were given an opportunity to contest the action. He alleges that complainant was not an indispensable party and that she had no priority of right over the plaintiffs in relation to the property.

The Office of the Court Administrator submitted a memorandum on January 12, 1996, recommending the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit. It points out that complainant did not seek to intervene in the case because the notices of levy in her favor were provisionally registered only after the provisional registration of the deed of sale in favor of the Chans; that being a later registrant, complainant could not be an indispensable party without whom no final determination of an action can be had; and that respondent judge did not have a duty to notify complainant of the motion for the cancellation of her notices of levy, this duty, if at all, being that of the register of deeds.

There is no evidence on record to prove the charge that respondent judge unduly favored spouses Chan. No proof of partiality has been shown by complainant. Mere suspicion that a judge is partial to one of the parties is not enough.[1]

Nor is there any showing that respondent judge knowingly rendered an unjust interlocutory order and an unjust judgment. It has not been shown, in the first place, that the judgment is unjust or that it is contrary to law or not supported by evidence, and, in the second place, that it was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice.[2]

However, respondent judge should have ordered notice to be given to complainant and petitioner to implead complainant since it appears that she had an adverse interest annotated on the back of their certificate title. P.D. No. 1529 reads in part:
§ 108. Amendment and alteration of certificates. -No erasure, alteration or amendment shall be made upon the registration book after the entry of a certificate of title or of a memorandum thereon and the attestation of the same by the Register of Deeds, except by order of the proper Court of First Instance. A registered owner or other person having an interest in registered property, or, in proper cases, the Register of Deeds with the approval of the Commissioner of Land Registration, may apply by petition to the court upon the ground that the registered interests of any description, whether vested, contingent, expectant inchoate appearing on the certificate, have terminated and ceased; or that new interest not appearing upon the certificates have arisen or been created; or that an omission or error was made in entering a certificate or memorandum thereon, or on any duplicate certificate; x x x or upon any other reasonable ground; and the court may hear and determine the petition after notice to all parties in interest, and may order the entry or cancellation of a new certificate, the entry or cancellation of a memorandum upon a certificate, or grant any other relief upon such terms and conditions, requiring security or bond if necessary, as it may consider proper. (Italics supplied).
Respondent’s contention that Civil Case No. Q-94-21444 was not brought under §108 is without merit. The action involved the cancellation of a memorandum on a certificate of title and therefore is covered by §108.

In numerous cases[3] involving the cancellation of annotations on certificates of title, we have applied Act No. 496, §112 from which P.D. No. 1529, §108 was substantially adopted.

Thus §108 requires that "notice [be given] to all parties in interest" before the court may hear and determine the petition. Complainant was not impleaded in Civil Case No. Q-94-2 1444 despite the fact that she was a party-in-interest. In Southwestern University v. Laurente, 26 SCRA 52 (1968) it was held that the cancellation of the annotation of an encumbrance cannot be ordered without giving notice to the parties annotated in the certificate of title itself. It was error for respondent judge to contend that no notice was required to be given to complainant. He should have shown prudence and circumspection by requiring such notice to be given, considering that it was plain that there was an adverse party who would be affected by the grant of the petition.

WHEREFORE, respondent judge is ADMONISHED to be more careful and diligent in the discharge of judicial function.


Regalado (Chairman), Romero, and Puno, JJ., concur.

Genoblazo v. Court of Appeals, 174 SCRA 124 (1989).

[2] In Re: Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 (1974).

[3] GSIS v. Court of Appeals, 240 SCRA 737 (1995); In Re: Nicanor T. Santos, 102 SCRA 747(1981); Southwestern University v. Laurente, 26 SCRA 52 (1968); Geonanga v. Hodges, 103 Phil. 387 (1958); Rehabilitation Finance Corp. v. Morales, 101 Phil. 171 (1957); Marcaida v. Pigtain, 101 Phil. 1110 (1957); Director of Lands v. Enriquez, 93 Phil. 584 (1953); Fidelity & Surety Co. v. Court of Appeals, 85 Phil. 485 (1950); Order de Padres Benedictinos v. Philippine Trust Co., 85 Phil 217 (1949); Castillo v. Ramos, 78 Phil. 809 (1947).

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