560 Phil. 17
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant:The decision having become final and executory, Branch 13 of the Manila RTC issued a writ of execution, on motion of Emiliana. The court later issued an alias writ of execution which was implemented by levying certain properties of PVB.
a.) Ordering the reformation of Exhibit "D" by deleting or changing its paragraph 3, page 6 thereof, so as to read as follows: x x x
b.) [C]ondemning the defendant to pay the plaintiff the amount of P221,000.00, with legal interest, representing actual damages suffered by the plaintiff on account of the forfeiture of the same amount by Majait Construction which plaintiff paid to the latter as evidenced by Exhibit "N", "N-1", "N-2", & "N-3";
c.) [D]irecting the defendant to pay the plaintiff the amount of P2,500.00 a day equivalent to twenty-five (25%) per cent of P10,000.00 representing loss of income or profit to the plaintiff starting April 1, 1984, up to the time the latter shall have been physically placed or restored to the peaceful and adequate enjoyment and possession of the unfinished marked building complex included in the lease;
d.) [E]njoining the defendant from selling, transferring, or conveying (except in favor of plaintiff or her assign) the leased premises to Jaime T. Toledaña or to any third person during the existence or duration of the lease;
e.) [A]nd, ordering the defendant to pay the costs of this suit.
SO ORDERED. (Underscoring supplied)
NOW COME, the above-named claimant and Benigno M. Puno, to this Honorable Court, respectfully manifest:Puno later advised the PVB liquidator, by letter dated May 16, 1987, as follows:
1) that they are the joint owners or claimants in the deficiency judgment of movant Emiliana C. Doblon in Civil Case No. [84-23585], RTC of Manila, Branch 42, now the subject of [Emiliana's] claim in the above-entitled Special Proceedings No. 85-32311; 2) that herein movants are joint owners share and share alike (50-50) over whatever amount Emiliana C. Doblon may be able to collect or recover in the above-entitled case. (Underscoring supplied)
Please be informed that, by virtue of the partnership agreement between the undersigned and Mrs. Emiliana C. Doblon dated March 7, 1987 x x x, one-half (1/2) of the properties the latter purchased at a public auction in Civil Case No. 23585, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 42, now belong[s] to the undersigned although the Greenleaf Market, in particular, has been awarded/conveyed to the undersigned in a partition mutually agreed upon by the parties x x x.In a Counter Manifestation filed before the liquidation court on June 29, 1987, Emiliana denied being co-owner with Puno of the PVB properties which she purchased at public auction:
It is respectfully requested that the undersigned be informed or notified of any pleading/letter or transaction involving the said properties x x x or those purchased at public auction under Civil Case No. [84-]23585; it [is] further requested, by virtue of the agreement or joint manifestation of undersigned and Emiliana C. Doblon in Civil Case No. 32311 Regional Trial court, Branch 39, Manila, x x x in which the undersigned is entitled to one[-half] (1/2) of whatever amount Emiliana C. Doblon's claim for deficiency judgment shall belong to the undersigned, the latter be likewise notified or informed of any dealings or transactions in connection therewith.
x x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
1. That a Joint Manifestation was prepared and filed by my former lawyer, Atty. Benigno M. Puno before this Court x x xAnd Emiliana filed on June 30, 1987 a complaint before the Makati RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 17154, to annul the written agreements showing her purported partnership with Puno, drawing Puno to file before the liquidation court a July 2, 1987 "Motion to Take Cognizance of Oppositor's Claim over Emiliana C. Doblon's Claim," reiterating his claims in his above-quoted May 16, 1987 letter to the liquidator and mentioning Emiliana's repudiation of the partnership.
2. That the said Joint Manifestation does not reflect the truth and that said Atty. Puno and I are not, and were never "joint owners or claimants" in Civil Case No. -23585 before Branch 42 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila in the deficiency judgment, now subject of my claim in the above-entitled case.
3. That contrary to what appears in said Joint Manifestation, Atty. Puno and I were not, and were never joint owners "share and share alike (50-50)" over whatever amount I may be able to collect or recover in the instant case.
4. That the truth of the matter is that I am the EXCLUSIVE CLAIMANT and whatever collections of recoveries I may make EXCLUSIVELY and SOLELY belongs to me and Atty. Puno's claim as a joint owner or claimant has no basis whatsoever in fact or in law.
5. That Atty. Puno merely used to be my legal adviser while an RTC judge and became my counsel later, but he took advantage of his profession - his knowledge of the law and his experience as a lawyer and clearly misled and even compelled me into signing said Joint Manifestation, the contents of which I do hereby disown and repudiate.
6. That Atty. Puno actually signed the said Joint Manifestation while still an RTC judge and could not have possibly bec[o]me my co-owner as falsely claimed by him.
x x x x (Capitalization in the original; underscoring supplied)
x x x [the]s judgment creditor Emiliana C. Doblon will be paid the sum of P2.4 million in exchange of the properties subject matter of the auction sale and that she will sign the necessary pleadings to be filed with the Supreme Court in G.R. No. L-73162 and in RTC-Manila, Br. XVII [sic] that rendered judgment in her favor. (Underscoring supplied)By Decision of October 23, 1989, this Court, in G.R. No. L-73162 (PVB's petition assailing the IAC's dismissal of its petition questioning the sales at public auction of its properties), upon Emiliana's confession of judgment, nullified the auction sales of PVB's properties held on July 8 and 9, 1985 on the ground that the placing of PVB under receivership rendered the RTC Manila, Branch 13 judgment in Civil Case No. 84-23585 unenforceable. This Court thus ordered Emiliana to file her judgment claim in the liquidation proceedings. Puno, who, as earlier stated, had been replaced as Emiliana's counsel, filed a Motion for Reconsideration, without Emiliana's conformity, of this Court's said Decision of October 23, 1989. His motion was denied by this Court.
That, without any warning or notice at all to claimant in actual possession and management of the said market (and claim of ownership), just out of the blue, the Liquidator thru his agents accompanied by armed men, entered into the market, nailed posters inside and announced their taking over the said market and started collecting the daily rentals from the vendors to the great consternation of claimant's collector and to the surprise of herein claimant who cannot believe that the liquidator would take the law into his own hands despite the pendency of several motions x x x for the delivery of the titles of said market to claimant and the segregation of the same from the mass of property of the PVB under liquidation as well as the claimant's right from the monetary deficiency judgment; (Underscoring supplied)The liquidation court issued a restraining order on February 12, 1990 enjoining "Atty. Renan V. Santos, his agents Corazon Cortez, Rosario Cortez and all persons acting under them x x x from intruding/interfering in the management/collection of rentals and possession of Greenleaf Market until further orders from [the] court." In the course of the hearing on Puno's motion for the issuance of a writ of injunction, the liquidation court, by Order of February 21, 1990 (Questioned Order 1), ordered that payment of rentals in the Market be made to the court until all pending incidents in the case had been resolved. The court also appointed Atty. Puno's herein co-petitioner Mercedes Gonzales (Mercedes), who claimed that she became a co-owner of the Market to the extent of one-seventh (1/7) on June 29, 1987), to be assisted by Corazon, to "collect the daily rentals from the stallholders in the market and to deposit the same in court together with the lists of the corresponding payors."
WHEREFORE, the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and Clarification and Payment of Movant's Monetary and Property Claims/Shares and the Amended Omnibus Motion both filed by Atty. Benigno Puno on November 2, 1989 and December 19, 1989 respectively, are hereby denied for lack of merit, as this Court finds the motion to disqualify him as claimant to be well-taken.Puno's Motion for Reconsideration of Questioned Order 3 was denied by order of July 26, 1990 (Questioned Order 4). The same order also denied Puno's "Very Urgent Motion to Resolve and/or to Withdraw Salaries/Expenses" praying that the salaries for employees of the Market since February 1990 be withdrawn from the amount of money already deposited with the Clerk of Court. In denying Puno's Motion for Reconsideration, the liquidation court held that he did not have any right to the properties in question including the Market; hence, "he could not have validly appointed employees involved in its management."
The motion for the issuance of a writ of injunction filed by Atty. Benigno Puno is likewise denied for lack of merit. Accordingly, the restraining order issued by this Court on February 12, 1990 is hereby vacated.
x x x x
The motion to cite for contempt Atty. Benigno Puno and Mercedes Gonzales for violating the order of this Court issued on February 21, 1990, being sufficiently well taken, is hereby granted. Accordingly, Atty. Puno and Mrs. Gonzales are hereby found in contempt of court and fined ONE HUNDRED (P100.00) PESOS each, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency or refusal to pay, hereby ordering to account within three (3) days from the receipt hereof for all the collections from the stallholders of the Greenleaf Market they have made from February 21, 1990 until the last day of their collections.
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
At the core of the present controversy is the issue of possession and ownership of the Greenleaf Market.The Motions for Reconsideration of Puno et al. and Mercedes having been denied by Resolution of December 18, 1997 by the appellate court, they filed the present Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court.
x x x x
We agree with the respondent court that the High Court's ruling in PVB vs. IAC [in G.R. No. L-73162, Nov. 13, 1989] x x x rendered null and void the auction sale of the Green Leaf Market to private respondent [Emiliana] Doblon, thus effectively depriving petitioners Puno and [Mercedes] Gonzales of any right whatsoever over the subject property which they may have subsequently derived from Doblon's defective title.
x x x x
Petitioners Puno and Gonzales offer the argument that the compromise agreement entered into by and between Doblon and the PVB liquidator and subsequently submitted by the parties thereto to the respondent court for approval x x x cleansed whatever defects existed in the auction sale of PVB properties x x x as the said compromise agreement had the legal effect of "ratifying" the questioned sales and "superseding or replacing" the decision of the High Court in PVB v. IAC.
Such a contention is utterly devoid of merit. First, the questioned execution sales had already been pronounced by the Supreme Court x x x as null and void for being contrary to the provisions of existing laws and it is elementary in this jurisdiction that void and inexistent contracts can never be subject of any compromise nor are they susceptible of ratification. x x x Second, the subject matter of the compromise agreement between Doblon and the PVB liquidator never involved the question of ownership of the illegally auctioned properties x x x. Rather, what was referred to in the said compromise involved Doblon's right as a judgment creditor under Civil Case No. 84-23585 and not her rights as a bidder in the auction sales nullified by the Supreme Court.
From the foregoing premises, We are convinced that the respondent court committed no error in refusing to accord petitioner Puno the status of a claimant in the liquidation proceeding. x x x
Petitioners Puno and Gonzales likewise contend that the respondent judge exceeded his authority when the adjudged petitioners guilty of contempt for exercising their legal rights of ownership and possession over the subject property and for discharging their lawful obligations incidental to the management of the market in dispute. Such a contention is belied by the evidence on record which clearly shows that they were cited for contempt for openly defying an express order of the court. x x x (Underscoring in original; emphasis supplied)
It may well happen, and not infrequently, that both remedies - the ordinary remedy of appeal, and the extraordinary one of certiorari (as a special civil action, not a mode of appeal) - are available to a party aggrieved by a judgment or final order of a Regional Trial Court (or of any inferior court, for that matter); that is to say, the final judgment or order appears to have been rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion. In such a situation, the availability of appeal proscribes recourse to the special civil action of certiorari.Procedural faux pas aside, the petitions fail.
The nature of the questions intended to be raised on appeal is of no consequence. It may well be that those questions will treat exclusively of whether or not the judgment or final order was rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion (which questions are the peculiar targets of the extraordinary writ of certiorari). This is immaterial. The remedy, to repeat, is appeal, not certiorari as a special civil action. (Italics in original)
when [the liquidation court] issued the Order of February 21, 1990, one of the questioned order[s], allowing the private respondent, particularly, Corazon Cortez, to take part in the collection and directing the deposit of the daily rentals, this action of the respondent R.T.C. is clearly whimsical and arbitrary because it unduly disturbed the status quo enjoyed by the petitioners since 1984. x x x  (Underscoring supplied)The "status quo" petitioners refer to is their alleged continued possession and management of the Market since 1984. Petitioners add that,
x x x the Philippine Veterans Bank or the Central Bank or their employees HAD NEVER BEEN in the actual possession and management of the said Market - not ever. In fact, except for the daily collections which private respondents grabbed, the herein petitioners were the ones in physical possession and management of the said market and continued to perform said acts, even after the said respondents grabbed the possession of the market in February 10, 1992. (Capitalization in the original)Citing the Civil Code provisions on possession, petitioners fault the liquidation court for disturbing them in their possession.
In the meanwhile, and until such time that the right of Benigno Puno shall have been resolved by this court, the court hereby orders that the daily rentals of the stalls in the market in question should be deposited with this court through the Branch Clerk of Court who is hereby authorized to receive the deposits, directing her to immediately deposit the same to the Office of the City Treasurer of Manila who shall hold the same until further orders of the court. (Underscoring supplied)The order did not prohibit Puno et al. from exercising possession and management over the Market. Mercedes was in fact explicitly appointed, together with Corazon, to collect the daily rentals. Parenthetically, the right to collect rentals is an attribute of ownership, and not of possession. Petitioners cannot thus claim that Questioned Order 1 violated the Civil Code provisions on possession they cited.
The judgment under Civil Case No. 84-23585 was solely in favor of [Emiliana] Doblon and the execution sale of the Greenleaf Market sought to partly execute the said judgment was likewise made solely between Doblon and the PVB. x x x Petitioner [Puno] never had a participation in any of the foregoing and therefore possesses no rights over the subject property enforceable by him against PVB before the liquidation proceedings. x x x [T]he same is true with petitioner [Mercedes], who, incidentally, is raising her claim over the subject market only for the first time in her petition. If at all, their recourse is with [Emiliana] and not with PVB. (Emphasis supplied).Puno's claim of the existence of a partnership with Emiliana, even if proven true, does not entitle him to share in the judgment awarded in Civil Case No. 84-23585. For, as Puno himself stated in his earlier quoted May 16, 1987 letter to liquidator Santos, his partnership agreement with Emiliana was forged on March 7, 1987, long after the trial court in Civil Case No. 84-23585 rendered judgment on September 20, 1984 in favor of Emiliana and against PVB.
That among the assets of the Philippine Veterans Bank that were leased for twenty (20) years to claimant and his former business partner Emiliana C. Doblon is the Greenleaf Market which was later on purchased at public auction in October 30, 1985, in Civil Case No. 84-23585-RTC-Manila, Branch 42 and which property had been in the actual possession and management of the undersigned claimant and his former business partner Doblon since February 1984 and which remain under the exclusive possession and management of the undersigned claimant since March 1987 continuously up to the present time; (id. at 156). Id. at 158.
[P]etitioners Puno and Gonzales and their employees [have been] in actual and physical possess[ion] over the said market since 1984 continuously, peacefully and without interruption up to February 2, 1990 when the respondent Philippine Veterans Bank, thru its liquidator and agents, grabbed and forcibly took the collections in the market against the will and consent of the herein petitioners, thereby causing the starvation and suffering of the herein-petitioners-employees and their families because they were not paid of their salaries despite the fact that they continue to render services in the said market. (Id. at 36). Id. at 33.