501 Phil. 331
Movant F.F.I. Dagupan Lending Investors, Inc., thru counsel, states that per Order dated March 4, 2003 respondent sheriff was directed by the Court to implement further the writ of execution issued for the satisfaction of the judgment in Civil Case No. 13218. For his apparent inaction, the Court came out with another Order on October 10, 2003 reiterating its earlier directive to implement the writ and to explain within a period of five (5) days from receipt thereof why the previously levied motorized tricycle had not been disposed of. Without filing any explanation, respondent sheriff scheduled the public auction of the motorized tricycle on November 3, 2003 which pushed through with the movant as the highest bidder for P7,000.00. Subsequently, respondent instructed movant to pay the corresponding sheriff's commission. However, he did not inform the movant about his pending motion before the Court to approve estimated storage fee even without having filed his (respondent) report on the auction sale. Movant filed its opposition upon learning of the motion to approve storage fee which was accordingly denied by the Court on December 10, 2003 with another directive to the respondent sheriff to turn over the proceeds realized from the auction sale to the same movant. His motion for reconsideration thereof having been denied outright, respondent sheriff has yet to comply with the directive of the Court on December 10, 2003 as well as to render the necessary report on the auction sale. Hence, the instant motion to cite respondent in contempt of court.On September 27, 2004, Executive Judge Silverio Castillo issued his Resolution/Recommendation. He noted that complainant did not appear despite due notice of the hearing and that:
In his comment, respondent Sheriff Hortaleza cites heavy workload for his delay in the implementation of the subject writ having been task(sic), together with just one other fellow employee, to enforce writs and other processes issued by six (6) other courts. That he has complied with the Order dated October 10, 2003; and that after having disposed of the subject vehicle with the plaintiff as the highest bidder, it was twice verbally advised, thru its representative, to take custody of the same but failed without giving any reason up to the present.
After a careful examination of the record, the Court notes that after its directive embodied in the order of October 10, 2003, respondent Sheriff Hortaleza accordingly issued a Notice of Levy and Sale on Execution on October 20, 2003 setting the auction sale of the levied motorized tricycle on November 3, 2003. Likewise, he filed a written explanation with the Court on the same date of October 20, 2003 citing the alleged existence of a third-party claimant as the principal cause for the delay in the disposition of the levied property. Hence, it may not be claimed correctly that he defied the order of this Court dated October 10, 2003.
In fact, the auction sale slated on November 3, 2003 pushed through with the plaintiff-movant as the highest bidder for the motorized tricycle. Respondent sheriff filed his report thereon dated December 15, 2003. While it may be quite unexpected on the part of the respondent sheriff to personally claim for storage fee apparently on behalf of its intended beneficiaries, not to mention the fact that movant was not furnished a copy of the motion for the said purpose so it could act accordingly, nothing was concretely shown by the movant that such actuation was motivated by malice that could only be intended to deny plaintiff its due.
The Court is likewise not fully convinced that respondent sheriff apparently refused to deliver the proceeds of the auction sale to the movant. On the contrary, respondent asserts in his comment that he had twice advised the plaintiff, thru its representative, to take possession of the subject vehicle being the highest bidder. The instant motion was set for hearing on February 6, 2004 which could have been an opportunity for the plaintiff to controvert respondent's assertion but unfortunately it failed to show up. Under the premises, there is no reliable basis to conclude that respondent sheriff refused to deliver the motorized tricycle to its present rightful owner, the plaintiff. The Court therefore hesitates to exercise its drastic power of contempt bearing in mind its punitive character, specially where, as here, the allegations in support of the motion do not appear to have been indubitably established.
WHEREFORE, the instant motion to cite Sheriff Vinez Hortaleza in contempt of court is hereby denied.
There is no basis for the complaint filed.On January 26, 2005, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Court Administrator for its evaluation, report and recommendation.
From the evidence presented, it is clear that the motorcycle subject of this case was subsequently sold at public auction with no less than the complainant as the highest bidder. The delay in the enforcement of the writ of the execution was due to the fact that the subject motor vehicle is registered to one John Nazareno. This even placed the respondent in a position to exercise caution rather than to sell the tricycle in a public auction in a hurry. The accusations labeled against the respondent that he sold the tricycle privately to another person at P11,000.00 instead of P4,000 as earlier stated by the respondent can not be appreciated by this Court. These accusations, pitted against the Sheriff's Report dated 15 December 2003, cannot overcome the presumption of regularity of performance of duty of a public official especially so that the latter is supported by a documentary evidence showing compliance with his bounden duties. To add, the accusation that the respondent malversed the proceeds of the tricycle must necessarily fail, because if the respondent indeed earlier sold the tricycle and pocketed the amount, then there can be no tricycle subject of a subsequent sale, which tricycle was even acquired by the complainant in the public auction, it being the sole and the highest bidder.
WHEREFORE, in view of the above, the administrative case leveled against the respondent Vinez Hortaleza is hereby respectfully recommended DISMISSED.
After careful review of the records of the case including the report of the Executive Judge Silverio Q. Castillo, the undersigned concur with his findings that the instant case should be dismissed for lack of merit.We agree that respondent cannot be held liable for abuse of authority and malversation. As we have repeatedly pronounced, the quantum of proof necessary for a finding of guilt in administrative cases is substantial evidence, i.e., such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
Respondent in this case proceeded with reasonable prudence when he withheld the sale on auction of the subject tricycle as there appeared to be a third person who owns the subject personal property which is registered in the name of one John Nazareno. With this information, respondent did not include the subject property for levy as there was a doubt as regarding the ownership of the same.
As explained by respondent, upon information that John Nazareno is the son of the defendant Olimpio Nazareno, he advised the latter to tell his son to make an affidavit of title to the subject personal property pursuant to Section 16, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, otherwise the property will be auctioned. Considering that no such affidavit of title was filed and instead Olimpio Nazareno admitted that he and John Nazareno is one and the same person, he immediately scheduled the sale of the tricycle.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the undersigned most respectfully submit to the Honorable Court our recommendation that the instant case be DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SEC. 14. Return of writ of execution. --- The writ of execution shall be returnable to the court issuing it immediately after the judgment has been satisfied in part or in full. If the judgment cannot be satisfied in full within thirty (30) days after his receipt of the writ, the officer shall report to the court and state the reason therefor. Such writ shall continue in effect during the period within which the judgment may be enforced by motion. The officer shall make a report to the court every thirty (30) days on the proceedings taken thereon until the judgment is satisfied in full, or its effectivity expires. The returns or periodic reports shall set forth the whole of the proceedings taken, and shall be filed with the court and copies thereof promptly furnished the parties. (Emphasis supplied).In this case, the trial court issued a Writ of Execution dated August 22, 2002 ordering respondent to execute the judgment in Civil Case No. 13218 and to make a return of respondent's proceedings within the period prescribed for by law and/or upon full satisfaction of the plaintiff. Respondent issued two notices of levy and sale. The first listed one unit of video CD component, one unit of colored television and one unit of karaoke. The other listed only one unit of tricycle. On October 11, 2002, respondent submitted to the court his Sheriff's Return stating that by virtue of the writ of execution, he seized and levied properties particularly described as follows: one unit video CD component, one unit colored TV and one unit karaoke which were sold at public auction for the amount of P6,670.00. No mention was made about the tricycle of "John Nazareno" which he levied from the defendants. Such omission together with his failure to submit a return every thirty days until the judgment is fully satisfied is clearly a violation of Section 14, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, which constitutes simple neglect of duty. Simple neglect of duty as defined is the failure to give proper attention to a task expected of an employee, thus signifying a disregard of a duty resulting from carelessness or indifference. It is a less grave offense, following the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, which is punishable by suspension of one month and one day to six months.