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342 Phil. 893


[ G.R. No. 123240, August 11, 1997 ]




In a minute resolution we issued on February 5, 1996, the petition at bench was denied due course for its failure to show that respondent court committed any reversible error (p. 114, Rollo).

On March 1, 1996, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration imputing upon this Court the principal error of having that the doctrine in PCIB vs. Court of Appeals (172 SCRA 436 [1989]), had already been abrogated by the rulings of this Court in the cases of Alemar’s Sibal & Sons vs. Elbinias (186 SCRA 94 [1990]); BF homes Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 190 SCRA 262 [1990]; Araneta vs. Court of Appeals, 211 SCRA 390 [1992; and RCBC vs. Court of Appeals, 213 SCRA 830 [1992]), where we ruled that whenever a distressed corporation asks the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for rehabilitation and suspension of payments, preferred creditors may no longer asserts such preference, but shall stand on equal footing with other creditors. Petitioner points out two main matters for consideration: (1) that the above above-cited cases of Alemar’s BF Homes, Araneta, and BPI vs. Court of Appeals (229 SCRA 223 [1994]) all involved unsecured creditors and are, therefore, not relevant to the resolution of this case, and (2) that of the above-cited cases where the Court ruled contrary to PCIB, thereby abandoning the ruling in said case, only the RCBC Case could have complied with the Constitutional requirement that no doctrine or principle of law rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the Court sitting en banc (Par. 3, Section 4, Article VIII, 1987 Constitution), because only the RCBC Case was rendered by the Court en banc. Nonetheless, petitioner submits that the judgment in RCBC has not yet attained finality as the motion for reconsideration therein up to the present time, has remained pending and unresolved, and could, therefore, not be relied upon in the instant case as a precedent.

After review of the arguments presented in the motion for reconsideration, we find no cogent reason to reverse our previous dismissal of the instant case. However, if only to clarify matters for the guidance of the bench and the bar, we shall discuss the applicable law on the matter.

To put case at hand in its proper factual perspective, it is worthy to note that what petitioner filed with the SEC in the pending action for settlement of claims of the various creditors of respondent Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc. (PBM) was a “Motion to Declare and Confirm the Highest Preference of Movant’s First Mortgage Lien.” The SEC hearing officer denied said motion. Petitioner appealed this denial to the SEC en banc, which dismissed the appeal. Then on appeal before respondent court, the Court of Appeals affirmed the SEC decision. Finally, finding no reversible error committed by respondent Court of Appeals, we denied due course to the instant petition. Now, the present motion for reconsideration.

Stated plainly, the issue squarely raised in the main petition is whether or not petitioner SIHI, as mortgagee of respondent PBM, may be declared to have highest preference over specific property subject of the mortgage, despite the pendency of rehabilitation/receivership proceeding pending before the SEC.

Under the factual circumstances of obtaining in the instant case, as well as the applicable provisions of the law, the Court is duty bound to resolve this issue in the negative.

In any rehabilitation/receivership proceedings where claims of several creditors shall have to be resolved, the provisions of the Title XIX of the Civil Code – “Concurrence and Preference of Credits” applies. In the present case where a mortgage piece of realty is involved, the following relevant articles govern, to wit:

Art. 2242 - With reference to specific immovable property and real rights of the debtor, the following claims, mortgages and liens shall be preferred and shall constitute an encumbrance on the immovable or real right:

(1) Taxes due upon the land or building;

(2) For unpaid price of real property, sold upon the immovable sold;

(3) Claims of laborers, mason, mechanics and other workmen, as well as architects, engineers and contractors, engaged in the construction, reconstitution or repair of buildings, canals or other works, upon said buildings, canals or other works;

(4) Claims of furnishers of materials used in the construction, reconstruction, or repair of buildings, canals or other works, upon said buildings, canals or other works;

(5) Mortgage credits recorded in the Registry of Property, upon the real estate mortgaged;

(6) Expenses for the preservation or improvement of real property when the law authorizes reimbursement, upon the immovable preserved or improved;

(7) Credits annotated in the Registry of Property in virtue of a judicial order, by attachment or execution, upon the property affected, and only as to the latter credits;

(8) Claims of co-heirs for warranty in the partition of an immovable among them, upon the real property thus divided;

(9) Claims of donors of real property of pecuniary charges or other conditions imposed upon the donee, upon the immovable donated;

(10) Credits of insurers, upon the property insured, for the insurance premium for two years.

Art. 2243. The claims of credits enumerated in the two preceding articles shall be considered as mortgagees or pledges of real or personal property, or liens within the purview of legal provisions governing insolvency. Taxes mentioned in No.1, article 2241, and No. 1 , article 2242, shall first be satisfied.
It may easily be seen that petitioner’s motion to declare and confirm the highest preference of it first mortgage lien is at the very least premature. There may or may not exist claims enumerated in the abovecited Article 2242 which, by virtue of Article 2243, shall be considered as mortgages of the specific property involved. At best this issue should be resolve in the light of the rehabilitation plan approved by the SEC on January 3, 1990 which includes the schedule of payment. Verily, this rehabilitation plan is not included among the matters submitted for review in the present petition. On this score alone, without having to refer to any of the above/cited decisions yet, the instant petition may already be dismissed. We shall reserve our ruling on whether or not petitioner may be adjudge to be preferred creditor at the proper opportunity when the entire judgment of the SEC shall be before us for review.

Petitioner cannot compel us to blindly adhere to the case of Philippine Commercial International Bank vs. Court of Appeals (172 SCRA 436 [1989]), which relied upon the case of Chartered Bank vs. Imperial and National Bank (48 Phil. 931 [1928]). It is significant to note that Chartered Bank was decided before the passage of Republic Act No. 386, the Civil Code of the Philippines (which took effect on August 30, 1950), when the abovecited Articles 2242 and 2243 or any similar provisions were not yet operative.

However, if only to appease petitioner on its insistence that the instant case should be consolidated with the RCBC as these two cases involve similar facts and issues, we rule to deny such prayer first, because the decision in RCBC had long been rendered, and second, the factual premises in RCBC are not on all fours with the instant case.

It is worthy to stress that RCBC was precipitated by the Rizal provincial sheriff's refusal to execute a certificate of sale of the property sold on public auction before any writ of execution against the conduct of such public auction had been issued. The regional trial court before which the action for mandamus was filed by RCBC granted the petition, thereby ordering respondent provincial sheriff to execute and deliver to petitioner the Certificate of Auction Sale of January 29, 1985, involving the property sold therein. . . (RCBC vs. IAC , 213 SCRA 830, at pp. 833-834). Aggrieved thereby, BF Homes filed an original complaint with then Intermediate Appellate Court (IAC) for the annulment of this judgment of the regional trial court. This action for annulment before the IAC prospered and the Register of Deeds of Pasay City was accordingly ordered to suspend the issuance to the mortgagee-purchaser RCBC of the owner’s copies of the new land titles until the matter shall have been resolved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the rehabilitation case before it. It was this judgment of the IAC which was the subject of the aforecited RCBC Case. The issues involved in the RCBC Case are, therefore, essentially different from the issues in the instant case. There, the question of retroactive application of the writ of injunction to the foreclosure proceedings was involved. Also, the propriety of the IAC’s disposition of the original action for annulment of judgment which is the proper subject of the petition in the RCBC Case necessarily involves issues concerning the requisite elements of a void judgment, such as lack of jurisdiction and/or fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence.

In the present petition, the foreclosure sale of the mortgaged property was declared by this Court in G.R. No. 87053 to be totally null and void, and petitioner SIHI’s claim was accordingly referred to the SEC for determination of the preferences or priorities under the law in the settlement of claims of firms under receivership or liquidation. Hence, unlike in RCBC, in the present case there are no longer any previous foreclosure proceedings to speak of. Also, in the present petition, the factual considerations in the issuance of the pertinent rehabilitation plan where SIHI’s claim had been reportedly included in the schedule of payment finds relevance. This was not true in the RCBC Case.

As seen in the foregoing disquisition, the resolution of the motion for reconsideration in the RCBC Case is not a crucial matter in the present case.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, petitioner’s motion for consolidation is denied and its motion for reconsideration is hereby likewise DENIED, with finality.

Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Davide, Jr., Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

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