646 Phil. 505
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant ordering the latter as follows:(a) to vacate the premises located at Ground Floor, YMCA, 1144 Gen. Luna St., Ermita, Manila; and surrender possession thereof to plaintiff;
(b) to pay plaintiff the sum of Php45,211.80 representing his arrears in rentals from February 2003 to July 2003 at Php7,535.30 a month plus the further sum of Php7,535.30 a month as reasonable value for the continued use and occupation of the premises starting August 2003 until the same is finally vacated and possession thereof is turn-over to plaintiff;
(c) to pay the plaintiff the sum of Php20,000 as attorney's fees; and
(d) to pay the costs of suit.
A Notice of Appeal dated July 9, 2004, having been seasonably filed by counsel for the defendant, let the records of the above-captioned case be, as it is hereby ordered, elevated to the Regional Trial Court of Manila for appropriate proceedings and disposition.
In view thereof, no more action shall be taken on the Motion for Execution dated July 8, 2004 filed by the plaintiff thru counsel.
Considering that the Court has already given due course to the appeal of the defendant which was perfected within the reglementary period, no more action will be taken on the Motion for Reconsideration dated July 19, 2004 filed by the plaintiff thru counsel.
The Branch Clerk of Court is hereby directed to immediately forward the records of this case to the Regional Trial Court, Manila.
EVALUATION: We agree with the complainants that respondent erred when he did not act on complainants' motion for immediate execution.
Section 19, Rule 70 of the 1997 Revised Rules on Civil Procedure provides:"SEC. 19. If judgment is rendered against the defendant, execution shall issue immediately upon motion, unless an appeal has been perfected and the defendant to stay execution files a supersedeas bond, approved by the Municipal Trial Court and executed in favor of the plaintiff to pay the rents, damages, and costs accruing down to the time of the judgment appealed from, and unless, during the pendency of the appeal, he deposits with the appellate court the amount of rent due from time to time under the contract, if any, as determined by the judgment of the Municipal Trial Court. XXXX XXXX XXXX."
It is clear from the foregoing that the perfection of an appeal by itself is not sufficient to stay the execution of the judgment in an ejectment case. The losing party should likewise file a supersedeas bond executed in favor of the plaintiff to answer for rents, damages and costs, and, if the judgment of the court requires it, he should likewise deposit the amount of the rent before the appellate court from the time during the pendency of the appeal. Otherwise, execution becomes ministerial and imperative. (Philippine Holding Corporation vs. Valenzuela, 104 SCRA 401 as cited in Hualam Construction and Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 214 SCRA 612, 626).
In the case at bar, defendant seasonably filed his Notice of Appeal dated 9 July 2004 on 13 July 2004; he however failed to file any supersedeas bond. Prior to the filing of such notice of appeal, more specifically on 12 July 2004, complainants have already filed their Motion for Execution dated 8 July 2004. Instead of acting on the Motion for Execution, respondent Judge Rabaca gave due course to the appeal in an Order dated 14 July 2004 and directed his Branch Clerk of Court to elevate the records of the case to the Regional Trial Court (RTC). The Branch Clerk of Court however failed to forward the records to the RTC. This fact is clear from Judge Rabaca's Order dated 28 July 2004 wherein he directed the Branch Clerk of Court to forward the records of the case to the Manila Regional Trial Court immediately.
From the foregoing, it is clear that when the complainant moved for the immediate execution of Judge Rabaca's decision, the latter still had jurisdiction over the case. He therefore clearly erred when he refused to act on the Motion for Execution. The relevant question that we should resolve however is whether such error is an error of judgment or an error amounting to incompetence that calls for administrative discipline.
Judge Rabaca claims that he refused to act on the complainant's Motion for execution because he honestly thought that when he gave due course to the defendant's appeal which was seasonably filed, and ordered the elevation of the records to the appellate court, his court already lost jurisdiction over the case.. In making his ruling, respondent asserts he relied on the provisions of Section 9, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. This provision reads as follows:In appeals by notice of appeal, the court loses jurisdiction over the case upon the perfection of the appeals filed in due time and the expiration of the time to appeal of the other parties.He likewise allegedly relied on the ruling of the Court in Administrative Matter OCA IPI No. 03-1513-MTJ: Susana Joaquin Vda. De Agregado vs. Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, MeTJ wherein the Court said that-Respondent Judge is correct in saying that she had lost jurisdiction to entertain the motion for execution after the perfection of the appeal and after she issued an order to transmit the records of the case to the appellate court for review.The facts of the case against Judge Bunyi-Medina are however different from those prevailing in the instant case. In the Medina case, the fifteen (15) day period within which to perfect the appeal had already lapsed before the complainant therein moved for the execution of the execution judgment. Clearly therefore, appeal had already been perfected. In the instant case, although the defendant had filed his appeal, the period to appeal had not yet lapsed since the plaintiff still had his own period to appeal from the judgment and such period had not yet lapsed. The provision relied upon by judge Rabaca, more specifically, Section 9, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, clearly states that, "In appeals by notice of appeal, the court loses jurisdiction over the case upon perfection of the appeals filed on due time and the expiration of the time to appeal of the other parties." Moreover and more importantly, the herein complainants filed their Motion for Execution even before the defendant had filed his Notice of Appeal. Such motion was therefore still well within the jurisdiction of the lower court.
It is basic rule in ejectment cases that the execution of judgment in favor of the plaintiff is a matter of right and mandatory. This has been the consistent ruling of the Court in a number of cases involving the same issue posed before the respondent judge. Respondent Judge is expected to know this and his justification of erroneous application of the law, although mitigating, could not exculpate him from liability.
Section 19. Immediate execution of judgment; how to stay same. -- If judgment is rendered against the defendant, execution shall issue immediately upon motion, unless an appeal has been perfected and the defendant to stay execution files a sufficient supersedeas bond, approved by the Municipal Trial Court and executed in favor of the plaintiff to pay the rents, damages, and costs accruing down to the time of the judgment appealed from, and unless, during the pendency of the appeal, he deposits with the appellate court the amount of rent due from time to time under the contract, if any, as determined by the judgment of the Municipal Trial Court. In the absence of a contract, he shall deposit with the Regional Trial Court the reasonable value of the use and occupation of the premises for the preceding month or period at the rate determined by the judgment of the lower court on or before the tenth day of each succeeding month or period. The supersedeas bond shall be transmitted by the Municipal Trial Court, with the other papers, to the clerk of the Regional Trial Court to which the action is appealed.Respondent Judge's excuse, that he had lost jurisdiction over the case by virtue of the defendant's appeal, was unacceptable in light of the clear and explicit text of the aforequoted rule. To begin with, the perfection of the appeal by the defendant did not forbid the favorable action on the plaintiff's motion for immediate execution. The execution of the decision could not be stayed by the mere taking of the appeal. Only the filing of the sufficient supersedeas bond and the deposit with the appellate court of the amount of rent due from time to time, coupled with the perfection of the appeal, could stay the execution. Secondly, he could not also credibly justify his omission to act according to the provision by claiming good faith or honest belief, or by asserting lack of malice or bad faith. A rule as clear and explicit as Section 19 could not be misread or misapplied, but should be implemented without evasion or hesitation. To us, good faith, or honest belief, or lack of malice, or lack of bad faith justifies a non-compliance only when there is an as-yet unsettled doubt on the meaning or applicability of a rule or legal provision. It was not so herein. And, thirdly, given that his court, being vested with original exclusive jurisdiction over cases similar to Civil Case No. 176394-CV, had been assigned many such cases, he was not a trial judge bereft of the pertinent prior experience to act on the issue of immediate execution, a fact that further exposed the abject inanity of his excuses.
Under A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, `Gross Ignorance of the Law or Procedure' is classified as serious offense for which the imposable penalty ranges from a fine to dismissal. However, we find respondent's acts not ingrained with malice or bad faith. It is a matter of public policy that in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corrupt motive, the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though such acts are erroneous. In Domingo vs. Judge Pagayatan, A.M. No. RTJ-03-1751, 10 June 2003, the penalty of fine in the amount of five thousand pesos was deemed sufficient where it was held that respondent's lack of malice or bad faith frees him from administrative liability but not for gross ignorance of the law.