680 Phil. 305
Sometime in 1973, the Petitioner, Douglas F. Anama (Anama), and the Respondent, Philippine Savings Bank (PSB), entered into a "Contract to Buy," on installment basis, the real property owned and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 301276 in the latter's name. However, Anama defaulted in paying his obligations thereunder, thus, PSB rescinded the said contract and title to the property remained with the latter. Subsequently, the property was sold by PSB to the Spouses Saturnina Baria and Tomas Co (Co Spouses) who, after paying the purchase price in full, caused the registration of the same in their names and were, thus, issued TCT No. 14239.
Resultantly, Anama filed before the Respondent Court a complaint for declaration of nullity of the deed of sale, cancellation of transfer certificate of title, and specific performance with damages against PSB, the Co Spouses, and the Register of Deeds of Metro Manila, District II.
On August 21, 1991 and after trial on the merits, the Respondent Court dismissed Anama's complaint and upheld the validity of the sale between PSB and the Co Spouses. Undaunted, Anama appealed, at first, to this Court, and after failing to obtain a favorable decision, to the Supreme Court.
On January 29, 2004, the Supreme Court rendered judgment denying Anama's petition and sustaining the validity of the sale between PSB and the Co Spouses. Its decision became final and executory on July 12, 2004. Pursuant thereto, the Co Spouses moved for execution, which was granted by the Respondent Court per its Order, dated November 25, 2005.
Aggrieved, Anama twice moved for the reconsideration of the Respondent Court's November 25, 2005 Order arguing that the Co Spouses' motion for execution is fatally defective. He averred that the Spouses' motion was pro forma because it lacked the required affidavit of service and has a defective notice of hearing, hence, a mere scrap of paper. The Respondent Court, however, denied Anama's motion(s) for reconsideration.
THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT DID NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE CLEAR TEACHING OF THE HONORABLE COURT WITH REGARD TO THE REQUISITE NOTICE OF HEARING - IT SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE PARTIES NOT TO THE CLERK OF COURT, THE LATEST (THEN) BEING GARCIA V. SANDIGANBAYAN, G.R. NO. 167103, AUGUST 31, 2006, 500 SCRA 361; DE JESUS V. JUDGE DILAG, A.M. NO. RTJ-05-1921, SEPTEMBER 30, 2005, 471 SCRA 176; LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES V. NATIVIDAD, G.R. NO. 127198, MAY 16, 2005, 458 SCRA 441; ATTY. JULIUS NERI V. JUDGE JESUS S. DE LA PEÑA, A.M NO. RTJ-05-1896, APRIL 29, 2005, 457 SCRA 538; AND ALVAREZ V. DIAZ, A.M. NO. MTJ-00-1283, MARCH 3, 2004, 424 SCRA 213;
THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT DID NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE CLEAR TEACHING OF THE HONORABLE COURT WITH REGARD TO THE REQUISITE AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE - IT SHOULD BE IN THE PROPER FORM AS PRESCRIBED IN THE RULES AND IT SHOULD BE ATTACHED TO THE MOTION, THE LATEST (THEN) BEING ELLO V. COURT OF APPEALS, G.R. NO. 141255, JUNE 21, 2005, 460 SCRA 406; LOPEZ DELA ROSA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION V. COURT OF APPEALS, G.R. NO. 148470, APRIL 29, 2005, 457 SCRA 614; ALVAREZ V. DIAZ, A.M. NO. MTJ-00-1283, MARCH 3, 2004, 424 SCRA 213; EL REYNO HOMES, INC. V. ERNESTO ONG, 397 SCRA 563; CRUZ V. COURT OF APPEALS, 388 SCRA 72, 80-81; AND MERIS V. OFILADA, 293 SCRA 606;
THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT DID NOT TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION ON THE "FRAUD PERPETRATED UPON THE COURT" BY RESPONDENT-SPOUSES AND THEIR LEAD COUNSEL.SINCE THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT REFUSED TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE RESPONDENT BANK'S ACTION - THAT OF:
ENGAGING IN A DAGDAG-BAWAS (LEGALLY "INTERCALATION") OPERATION OF A PORTION OF THE TRANSCRIPT OF STENOGRAPHIC NOTES (TSN), OCTOBER 12, 1984, OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 167, PASIG CITY, IN CIVIL CASE NO. 44940, PAGES 54-55, AND
PRESENTING IT IN ITS APPELLEE'S BRIEF (IN THE OWNERSHIP CASE, CA-G.R. NO. CV-42663, LIKEWISE, BEFORE THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT) BY CITING IT ON PAGE 14 OF SAID BRIEF, AS IMPLIEDLY COMING FROM THE TSN OF THE TRIAL COURT.
THINKING THAT THEIR FALSIFIED APPELLEE'S BRIEF WAS MATERIAL IN SAID CA-G.R. NO. CV-42663.
IT COULD NOT RULE THAT THE SAME HAS BROUGHT ABOUT A CRUCIAL MATERIAL CHANGE IN THE SITUATION OF THE PARTIES WHICH MAKES EXECUTION INEQUITABLE (PUNCIA V. GERONA, 252 SCRA 424, 430-431), OR, IN THE WORDS OF DEVELOPMENT BANK OF RIZAL V. CA, G.R. NO. 75964, DECEMBER 1, 1987, 156 SCRA 84, 90, "THERE EXISTS A COMPELLING REASON FOR STAYING THE EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT."
SECTION 4. Hearing of motion. - Except for motions which the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by the applicant.
Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall be served in such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days before the date of hearing, unless the court for good cause sets the hearing on shorter notice.
SECTION 5. Notice of hearing. - The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all parties concerned, and shall specify the time and date of the hearing which must not be later than ten (10) days after the filing of the motion.
SECTION 6. Proof of service necessary. - No written motion set for hearing shall be acted upon by the court without proof of service thereof.
SEC. 13. Proof of service. - Proof of personal service shall consist of a written admission of the party served, or the official return of the server, or the affidavit of the party serving, containing a full statement of the date, place, and manner of service. If the service is by ordinary mail, proof thereof shall consist of an affidavit of the person mailing of facts showing compliance with section 7 of this Rule. If service is made by registered mail, proof shall be made by such affidavit and the registry receipt issued by the mailing office. The registry return card shall be filed immediately upon its receipt by the sender, or in lieu thereof the unclaimed letter together with the certified or sworn copy of the notice given by the postmaster to the addressee.
Section 1. Execution upon judgments or final orders. - Execution shall issue as a matter of right, on motion, upon a judgment or order that disposes of the action or proceeding upon the expiration of the period to appeal therefrom if no appeal has been duly perfected.
If the appeal has been duly perfected and finally resolved, the execution may forthwith be applied for in the court of origin, on motion of the judgment obligee, submitting therewith certified true copies of the judgment or judgments or final order or orders sought to be enforced and of the entry thereof, with notice to the adverse party.
The appellate court may, on motion in the same case, when the interest of justice so requires, direct the court of origin to issue the writ of execution.
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.
(b) Execution of several, separate or partial judgments.--A several, separate or partial judgment may be executed under the same terms and conditions as execution of a judgment or final order pending appeal. (2a) [Emphases and underscoring supplied]
It is evident that Section 1 of Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court does not prescribe that a copy of the motion for the execution of a final and executory judgment be served on the defeated party, like litigated motions such as a motion to dismiss (Section 3, Rule 16), or motion for new trial (Section 2, Rule 37), or a motion for execution of judgment pending appeal (Section 2, Rule 39), in all of which instances a written notice thereof is required to be served by the movant on the adverse party in order to afford the latter an opportunity to resist the application.
It is not disputed that the judgment sought to be executed in the case at bar had already become final and executory. It is fundamental that the prevailing party in a litigation may, at any time within five (5) years after the entry thereof, have a writ of execution issued for its enforcement and the court not only has the power and authority to order its execution but it is its ministerial duty to do so. It has also been held that the court cannot refuse to issue a writ of execution upon a final and executory judgment, or quash it, or order its stay, for, as a general rule, the parties will not be allowed, after final judgment, to object to the execution by raising new issues of fact or of law, except when there had been a change in the situation of the parties which makes such execution inequitable or when it appears that the controversy has ever been submitted to the judgment of the court; or when it appears that the writ of execution has been improvidently issued, or that it is defective in substance, or is issued against the wrong party, or that judgment debt has been paid or otherwise satisfied; or when the writ has been issued without authority. Defendant-appellant has not shown that she falls in any of the situations afore-mentioned. Ordinarily, an order of execution of a final judgment is not appealable. Otherwise, as was said by this Court in Molina v. de la Riva, a case could never end. Once a court renders a final judgment, all the issues between or among the parties before it are deemed resolved and its judicial function as regards any matter related to the controversy litigated comes to an end. The execution of its judgment is purely a ministerial phase of adjudication. The nature of its duty to see to it that the claim of the prevailing party is fully satisfied from the properties of the loser is generally ministerial.
In Pamintuan v. Muñoz, We ruled that once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party can have it executed as a matter of right, and the judgment debtor need not be given advance notice of the application for execution.
Also of the same stature is the rule that 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. Otherwise stated, once sought by the prevailing party, execution of a final judgment will just follow as a matter of course. Hence, the judgment debtor need not be given advance notice of the application for execution nor he afforded prior hearing.
Absence of such advance notice to the judgment debtor does not constitute an infringement of the constitutional guarantee of due process.
However, the established rules of our system of jurisprudence do not require that a defendant who has been granted an opportunity to be heard and has had his day in court should, after a judgment has been rendered against him, have a further notice and hearing before supplemental proceedings are taken to reach his property in satisfaction of the judgment. Thus, in the absence of a statutory requirement, it is not essential that he be given notice before the issuance of an execution against his tangible property; after the rendition of the judgment he must take "notice of what will follow," no further notice being "necessary to advance justice." [Emphases and underscoring supplied]
In the present case, the decision ordering partition and the rendition of accounting had already become final and executory. The execution thereof thus became a matter of right on the part of the plaintiffs, herein private respondents, and is a mandatory and ministerial duty on the part of the court. Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party can have it executed as a matter of right, and the judgment debtor need not be given advance notice of the application for execution nor be afforded prior hearings thereon.
On the bases of the foregoing considerations, therefore, the Court of Appeals acted correctly in holding that the failure to serve a copy of the motion for execution on petitioner is not a fatal defect. In fact, there was no necessity for such service. [Emphases and underscoring supplied]
The three-day notice rule is not absolute. A liberal construction of the procedural rules is proper where the lapse in the literal observance of a rule of procedure has not prejudiced the adverse party and has not deprived the court of its authority. Indeed, Section 6, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court provides that the Rules should be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. Rules of procedure are tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, and courts must avoid their strict and rigid application which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice.
In Somera Vda. De Navarro v. Navarro, the Court held that there was substantial compliance of the rule on notice of motions even if the first notice was irregular because no prejudice was caused the adverse party since the motion was not considered and resolved until after several postponements of which the parties were duly notified.
Likewise, in Jehan Shipping Corporation v. National Food Authority, the Court held that despite the lack of notice of hearing in a Motion for Reconsideration, there was substantial compliance with the requirements of due process where the adverse party actually had the opportunity to be heard and had filed pleadings in opposition to the motion. The Court held:
This Court has indeed held time and again, that under Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, mandatory is the requirement in a motion, which is rendered defective by failure to comply with the requirement. As a rule, a motion without a notice of hearing is considered pro forma and does not affect the reglementary period for the appeal or the filing of the requisite pleading.
As an integral component of the procedural due process, the three-day notice required by the Rules is not intended for the benefit of the movant. Rather, the requirement is for the purpose of avoiding surprises that may be sprung upon the adverse party, who must be given time to study and meet the arguments in the motion before a resolution of the court. Principles of natural justice demand that the right of a party should not be affected without giving it an opportunity to be heard.
The test is the presence of opportunity to be heard, as well as to have time to study the motion and meaningfully oppose or controvert the grounds upon which it is based. [Emphases and underscoring supplied]
Anent the second issue, we have consistently held that a motion which does not meet the requirements of Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court is considered a worthless piece of paper, which the Clerk of Court has no right to receive and the trial court has no authority to act upon. Service of a copy of a motion containing a notice of the time and the place of hearing of that motion is a mandatory requirement, and the failure of movants to comply with these requirements renders their motions fatally defective. However, there are exceptions to the strict application of this rule. These exceptions are: (1) where a rigid application will result in a manifest failure or miscarriage of justice especially if a party successfully shows that the alleged defect in the questioned final and executory judgment is not apparent on its face or from the recitals contained therein; (2) where the interest of substantial justice will be served; (3) where the resolution of the motion is addressed solely to the sound and judicious discretion of the court; and (4) where the injustice to the adverse party is not commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure prescribed.
A notice of hearing is an integral component of procedural due process to afford the adverse parties a chance to be heard before a motion is resolved by the court. Through such notice, the adverse party is given time to study and answer the arguments in the motion. Records show that while Angeles's Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution contained a notice of hearing, it did not particularly state the date and time of the hearing. However, we still find that petitioner was not denied procedural due process. Upon receiving the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution, the trial court issued an Order dated September 9, 2002 giving petitioner ten (10) days to file its comment. The trial court ruled on the motion only after the reglementary period to file comment lapsed. Clearly, petitioner was given time to study and comment on the motion for which reason, the very purpose of a notice of hearing had been achieved.
The notice requirement is not a ritual to be followed blindly. Procedural due process is not based solely on a mechanical and literal application that renders any deviation inexorably fatal. Instead, procedural rules are liberally construed to promote their objective and to assist in obtaining a just, speedy and inexpensive determination of any action and proceeding. [Emphases supplied]
As a final note, it bears to point out that this case has been dragging for more than 15 years and the execution of this Court's judgment in PEA v. CA has been delayed for almost ten years now simply because De Leon filed a frivolous appeal against the RTC's order of execution based on arguments that cannot hold water. As a consequence, PEA is prevented from enjoying the fruits of the final judgment in its favor. The Court agrees with the Office of the Solicitor General in its contention that every litigation must come to an end once a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable. Just as a losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party also has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the resolution of his case by the execution and satisfaction of the judgment, which is the "life of the law." To frustrate it by dilatory schemes on the part of the losing party is to frustrate all the efforts, time and expenditure of the courts. It is in the interest of justice that this Court should write finis to this litigation.