466 Phil. 697
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 38328 (“Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas v. Maguesun Management & Development Corporation, et al.”) promulgated on December 8, 1994 is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Accordingly, registration of title over the subject parcels of land, described in Plan AS-04-000108, Lot Nos. 7231 and 7239, with an area of 3,461 and 10,674 square meters, respectively, as shown and supported by the corresponding technical descriptions now forming part of the Records of LRC No. TG-373, is awarded to herein petitioner Trinidad de Leon vda. de Roxas and her heirs, herein substituted as petitioners. Upon finality of this Decision, the Land Registration Authority is hereby directed to ISSUE with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title pursuant to Section 39 of Presidential Decree No. 1529.On 22 May 1997, Meycauayan filed a Petition for Intervention in G.R. No. 118436. Meycauayan alleged that on 14 May 1992, it purchased three parcels of land from Maguesun which form part of the property awarded to the heirs of Trinidad de Leon Vda. De Roxas (“Roxas heirs”). Meycauayan contended that since it is a purchaser in good faith and for value, the Court should afford it the opportunity to be heard. Meycauayan contends that the adverse decision in G.R. No. 118436 cannot impair its rights as a purchaser in good faith and for value.
a) Order the LRA to cancel Decree No. N-197092 in the name of Maguesun to enable it to issue another decree in favor of the heirs of Manuel A. Roxas and Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas;Meycauayan filed with the land registration court a “Motion For Leave To Intervene And For Period Of Time To File Opposition To The Report Dated March 25, 1998 Filed By The LRA And To File Complaint-in-Intervention.”
b) Order the Register of Deeds to cancel OCT No. 0-515 and all its derivative titles; and
c) Order the issuance of the Decree with respect to the decision of the Supreme Court dated 21 March 1997.
a) Whether it is necessary for the trial court to first order the LRA “to cancel Decree No. N-197092 in the name of Maguesun Management and Development Corporation to enable (the LRA) to issue another decree in favor of the Heirs of Manuel A. Roxas and Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas”? Or is that order necessarily included in the dispositive portion of the Supreme Court decision directing the LRA “to issue with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title” in favor of the Roxas heirs? Please note that this necessary implication is a consequence of the Supreme Court finding that the decree in favor of Maguesun was wrongfully issued because it was “not entitled to the registration decree” as it had no registrable title, since “Zenaida Melliza (from whom Maguesun supposedly bought the lots) conveyed no title over the subject parcels of land to Maguesun Corporation as she was not the owner thereof.”On 23 June 1998, the Roxas heirs filed a Supplement to Motion for Clarification, the pertinent portions of which are:
b) Whether an order from the trial court is necessary for “the Register of Deeds concerned to cancel OCT No. 0-515 and all its derivative titles”? Or is that order necessarily included in the dispositive portion of the Supreme Court decision directing the LRA to issue the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title in favor of the Roxas heirs, considering that the original certificate of title issued to Maguesun was based on an illegal decree of registration as found by this Honorable Court. Further, the unconditional order of the Supreme Court to LRA to issue the corresponding certificate of title to the Roxas heirs necessarily implies that the OCT issued to Maguesun and its derivative titles shall be canceled, for it cannot [be] assumed that the Supreme Court intended that the same parcel of land shall be covered by more than one certificate of title.
c) Whether an order from the trial court is necessary before the LRA can comply with the Supreme Court decision directing the LRA “to issue with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title” in favor of the Roxas heirs?
In a Resolution dated 29 July 1998, this Court acted favorably on the Roxas heirs’ Motion for Clarification and its Supplement. The pertinent portions of the Resolution read:
1. In petitioners’ Motion for Clarification, one of the items sought to be clarified is whether the derivative titles (i.e., the titles derived from Maguesun Management and Development Corporation’s [“Maguesun”] Original Certificate of Title No. 0-515 and issued to Meycauayan Central Realty Corp.) should be canceled, together with Maguesun’s certificates of title, so that new decree of registration and certificate of title can be issued to petitioners, as ordered in the decision of this Honorable Court dated 21 March 1997, which has become final and executory?
2. From the Petition for Intervention filed by Meycauayan Central Realty Corporation (“Meycauayan”) with this Honorable Court on 22 May 1997, the following statements, among others, are alleged:a. “That on May 14, 1992, the intervenor purchased for value several parcels of real property from private respondent Maguesun Management and Development Corp. covered by TCT Nos. 24294, 24295 and 24296 containing an area of 2,019 square meters each, more or less.”
b. “That prior to paying the agreed purchase price in full to respondent Maguesun, an investigation with the Tagaytay City Office of the Register of Deeds was made to determine and ascertain the authenticity, status and condition of the titles of Maguesun over the aforesaid properties.”
c. “That investigation made by the intervenor with the Office of Register of Deeds of Tagaytay City showed that in all the certified true copies of the titles to the properties above-mentioned which were registered in the name of Maguesun, the last entry which appeared was the following, to wit: x x x”.
d. “Appearing that the properties to be purchased by the herein intervenor from respondent Maguesun have no existing liens and/or encumbrances and considering that the properties do not appear to be the subject of a pending case which would affect the titles of those who may subsequently purchase the same, the herein intervenor proceeded to pay, in full, the total amount of ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P1,500,000.00) to Maguesun. Immediately thereafter, Maguesun, through its duly authorized officer, executed the corresponding Deeds of Absolute Sale.”
e. “That after the corresponding taxes and/or fees were paid by herein intervenor, the aforementioned TCT Nos. T-24294, 24295 and 24296, were canceled and in lieu thereof, new titles in the name of intervenor were issued by the Register of Deeds of Tagaytay City.”
f. “That on March 25, 1997, an officer of the intervenor corporation was informed of a newspaper report stating, in big bold letters, the following sub-headline, to wit:
SC RULES ON ROXAS FAMILY
LAND ROW IN TAGAYTAY”.
g. “The President of herein intervenor right after secured from the Tagaytay City Office of the Register of Deeds certified true copies of torrens titles over its Tagaytay City properties.”
h. “That only then, after it secured certified true copies of the titles mentioned in the preceding paragraph from the Office of the Register of Deeds of Tagaytay City, did intervenor come to know of the existence of a case involving the properties sold to it by respondent Maguesun on May 14, 1992.”
3. Meycauayan’s Petition for Intervention was denied by this Honorable Court in its Resolution dated 25 June 1997, a denial that has since become final and executory. However, as stated in petitioners’ Motion for Clarification, Meycauayan committed the proscribed act of forum-shopping by filing with the trial court a motion for leave to intervene raising again the issue of its alleged ownership of portions of the land.
4. In order to settle once and for all Meycauayan’s allegation that it was a buyer in good faith, and to show that its derivative titles should be declared void and canceled by this Honorable Court, petitioners will show herein that the sale to Meycauayan was spurious or, at the very least, it was a buyer in bad faith.
Upon careful consideration of the points made by petitioners in their motions, this Court finds the same meritorious and, hence, a clarification is in order. We, therefore, declare that our directive on the LRA to issue with reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title also includes, as part thereof, the cancellation, without need of an order of the land registration court, of Decree No. N-197092, as well as OCT No. 0-515, and all its derivative titles. This is a necessary consequence of the Court’s earlier finding that the foregoing documents were illegally issued in the name of respondent. But in light of Section 39 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (the “Property Registration Decree”), Decree No. N-197092 which originated from the LRA must be cancelled by the LRA itself. On account of this cancellation, it is now incumbent upon the LRA to issue in lieu of the cancelled decree a new one in the name of petitioners as well as the corresponding original certificate of title. Cancellation of OCT No. 0-515, on the other hand, properly devolves upon the Register of Deeds who, under Section 40 of P.D. No. 1529, has earlier entered a copy thereof in his record book. OCT No. 0-515 having been nullified, all titles derived therefrom must also be considered void it appearing that there had been no intervening rights of an innocent purchaser for value involving the lots in dispute.On 11 December 1998, the land registration court issued an order denying the LRA Report dated 25 March 1998 and the Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by Meycauayan since the Supreme Court Resolution of 29 July 1998 had rendered them moot.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby resolves to GRANT petitioners’ Motion for Clarification together with the Supplement thereto. For this reason, the dispositive portion of our decision dated March 21, 1997 is clarified, thus:
First, the Register of Deeds shall CANCEL OCT No. 0-515 and all its derivative titles, namely, TCT Nos. T-25625, T-25626, T-25627, T-25628, T-25688, T-25689, and T-25690, the latter three being already in the name of Meycauayan Realty and Development Corporation (also designated as “Meycauayan Central Realty, Inc.” and “Meycauayan Realty Corporation”).
Thereafter, the Land Registration Authority shall:(a) CANCEL Decree No. N-197092 originally issued in the name of Maguesun Management and Development Corporation without need of an order from the land registration court; and
(b) ISSUE with reasonable dispatch a new decree of registration and a new original certificate of title (OCT) in favor of petitioners pursuant to Section 39 of Presidential Decree No. 1529. (Emphasis added)
On 6 May 1999, Meycauayan filed a “Special Appearance Questioning Court Jurisdiction and Opposition to the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession Against Meycauayan Central Realty Corporation” with the land registration court.
1. Ordering the defendants Land Registration Authority and the Register of Deeds of Tagaytay City to cancel the titles and decree of registration they issued in lieu of TCT Nos. 25688, 25689, 25690 and 27390 registered in the name of plaintiff Meycauayan Central Realty Corporation and reconvey said properties to the plaintiff corporation by reinstating the said cancelled titles or if the same not be possible, cause the issuance of new decrees and titles thereto;
2. Ordering the defendant City Assessor of Tagaytay City to reinstate the Assessments for real estate taxes it previously cancelled covering the properties of plaintiff;
3. Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff actual and/or compensatory damages in the total amount of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00);
4. Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff the amount of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00) as and by way of nominal damages;
5. Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff exemplary damages in the amount of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00);
6. Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff Attorney’s fees in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00); and
7. Ordering the defendants Roxas and Maguesun to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiff the costs of suit.
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, let a Writ of Possession be issued against Maguesun Management and Development Corporation in these cases. However, insofar as Meycauayan Central Realty is concerned, let a resolution of the motion filed by the movants herein be deferred until the Supreme Court had resolved with finality the petition for contempt of herein movant in G.R. No. 138660.On 7 March 2000, the trial court dismissed for lack of merit Meycauayan’s complaint for reconveyance, damages and quieting of title. The trial court held that (1) the nullity of OCT No. 0-515, which is the source of Meycauayan’s titles, is now res judicata; (2) the complaint’s prayer for the trial court to annul the decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 118436 is beyond the trial court’s jurisdiction; and (3) Meycauayan is guilty of forum shopping. The trial court likewise denied Meycauayan’s Motion for Reconsideration in an Order dated 20 June 2000. On 24 August 2000, Meycauayan filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the Court of Appeals assailing the trial court’s dismissal of the complaint.
1. Whether this Court’s Decision and Resolution in G.R. No. 118436 bind Meycauayan;
2. Whether Meycauayan’s act of filing with the trial court a complaint for reconveyance, damages and quieting of title involving parcels of land, which were the subject of this Court’s Decision and Resolution in G.R. No. 118436, constitutes indirect contempt under Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Civil Procedure; and
3. Whether Meycauayan is guilty of forum shopping.
SEC. 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. — After a charge in writing has been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:In Halili, et al. v. CIR, et al., this Court explained the concept of contempt of court:
x x x
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice;
Contempt of court is a defiance of the authority, justice or dignity of the court; such conduct as tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or prejudice parties litigant or their witnesses during litigation (12 Am. Jur. 389, cited in 14 SCRA 813).Meycauayan’s continuing resistance to this Court’s judgment is an affront to the Court and to the sovereign dignity with which it is clothed. Meycauayan’s persistent attempts to raise issues long since laid to rest by a final and executory judgment of no less than the highest tribunal of the land constitute contumacious defiance of the authority of this Court and impede the speedy administration of justice.
Contempt of court is defined as a disobedience to the Court by acting in opposition to its authority, justice and dignity. It signifies not only a willful disregard or disobedience of the court’s orders, but such conduct as tends to bring the authority of the court and the administration of law into disrepute or in some manner to impede the due administration of justice (17 C.J.S. 4).
This Court has thus repeatedly declared that the power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts and is essential to the preservation of order in judicial proceedings and to the enforcement of judgments, orders, and mandates of the court, and consequently, to the due administration of justice (Slade Perkins vs. Director of Prisons, 58 Phil. 271; In re Kelly, 35 Phil. 944; Commissioner of Immigration vs. Cloribel, 20 SCRA 1241; Montalban vs. Canonoy, 38 SCRA 1).
x x x An existing final judgment or decree — rendered upon the merits, without fraud or collusion, by a court of competent jurisdiction acting upon a matter within its authority — is conclusive of the rights of the parties and their privies. This ruling holds in all other actions or suits, in the same or any other judicial tribunal of concurrent jurisdiction, touching on the points or matters in issue in the first suit.This is in accordance with the doctrine of res judicata which has the following elements: (1) the former judgment must be final; (2) the court which rendered it had jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) the judgment must be on the merits; and (4) there must be between the first and the second actions, identity of parties, subject matter and causes of action. The application of the doctrine of res judicata does not require absolute identity of parties but merely substantial identity of parties. There is substantial identity of parties when there is community of interest or privity of interest between a party in the first and a party in the second case even if the first case did not implead the latter.
x x x
Courts will simply refuse to reopen what has been decided. They will not allow the same parties or their privies to litigate anew a question, once it has been considered and decided with finality. Litigations must end and terminate sometime and somewhere. The effective and efficient administration of justice requires that once a judgment has become final, the prevailing party should not be deprived of the fruits of the verdict by subsequent suits on the same issues filed by the same parties.
In the case of Santiago Land Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 106194, 276 SCRA 674 ), petitioner maintained that as a purchaser pendente lite of the land in litigation, it had a right to intervene under Rule 12, Section 2. We rejected this position and said that “since petitioner is not a stranger to the action between Quisumbing and the PNB, petitioner in fact having stepped into the shoes of PNB in a manner of speaking, it follows that it cannot claim any further right to intervene in the action.” As in the instant Petition, it was argued that the denial of the Motion to Intervene would be a denial likewise of due process. But this, too, was struck down in Santiago Land where we held that “petitioner is not really denied protection. It is represented in the action by its predecessor in interest.” Indeed, since petitioner is a transferee pendente lite with notice of the pending litigation between Reyes and private respondent Carreon, petitioner stands exactly in the shoes of Reyes and is bound by any judgment or decree which may be rendered for or against the latter.Indeed, one who buys property with full knowledge of the flaws and defects of the title of his vendor and of a pending litigation over the property gambles on the result of the litigation and is bound by the outcome of his indifference. A purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable man on guard and then claim that he acted in good faith believing that there was no defect in the title of the vendor.
SEC. 7. Punishment for indirect contempt. — If the respondent is adjudged guilty of indirect contempt committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, he may be punished by a fine not exceeding thirty thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both. x x xIn this case, Meycauayan Executive Vice President Juan M. Lamson, Jr. caused the preparation and the filing of the Petition for Intervention in G.R. No. 118436 and the Complaint for Reconveyance, Damages and Quieting of Title with the trial court. Juan M. Lamson, Jr. signed the verification and certification of non-forum shopping for the Petition for Intervention and the Complaint for Reconveyance, Damages and Quieting of Title. “Even though a judgment, decree, or order is addressed to the corporation only, the officers, as well as the corporation itself, may be punished for contempt for disobedience to its terms, at least if they knowingly disobey the court’s mandate, since a lawful judicial command to a corporation is in effect a command to the officers.” Thus, for improper conduct tending to impede the orderly administration of justice, Meycauayan Executive Vice President Juan M. Lamson, Jr. should be fined ten thousand pesos (P10,000).