[G.R. NO. 142669 : March 15, 2006]
PHILIPPINE ECONOMIC ZONE AUTHORITY (PEZA), represented by its Baguio City Economic Zone Administrator, DIGNA TORRES, Petitioner, v. ABRAHAM B. BORRETA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Baguio City, Branch 59, and BENEDICTO CARANTES, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus seeking the annulment of the Orders dated November 29, 1999 and January 17, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 59, Baguio City, in Criminal Case No. 9452-R, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Benedicto Carantes y Umayon."
Carantes, private respondent, was charged with Violation of Section 301 in Relation to Section 213 of Presidential Decree No. 1096 (Building Without Permit) in an Information which reads:
That in or about the month of April 1991 in the City of Baguio, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously construct or cause to be constructed a house at Magsaysay Drive, Brgy. Apugan, BCEPZA, Baguio City, without first securing the requisite building permit from the Building Official or Government authorities concerned, in violation of the aforementioned law.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
On December 8, 1994, the RTC rendered its Decision finding Carantes guilty as charged and sentencing him to pay a fine of
P5,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and "to remove or demolish the subject structures."
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC Decision. The Appellate Court's Decision became final and executory on June 14, 1997.
On February 26, 1999, the trial court issued a writ of demolition. Carantes then voluntarily demolished one of the structures built on the area and paid a fine of
In a Manifestation/Motion dated April 12, 1999 filed with the trial court, Carantes averred that the writ should be limited only to the structure built "in or about the month of April 1991" as alleged in the Information and should not include the one built by his father sometime in 1970. He prayed for the stay of execution.
On June 15, 1999, the trial court denied the motion, thus:
Acting upon the accused's Manifestation/Motion dated April 12, 1999, the same is hereby DENIED on the ground that the Decision of December 8, 1994 rendered by this Court in the above-entitled case speaks of two (2) structures. On appeal, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision dated May 19, 1997 finding no reversible error in the judgment appealed from, hence, the Decision of this Court was AFFIRMED in toto.
The Court of Appeals' Decision, which also speaks of "structures," having become final and executory, let a writ be issued for the demolition of the other structure of the accused subject of this case.
Carantes filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied on July 20, 1999, thus:
The Decision of this Court needs no clarification. It is clear therefrom that the offense for which the accused was charged involved the construction of two structures, not one as claimed by the accused. In fact, the Resolution of the City Prosecutor finding a prima facie case of Violation of P.D. 1096 against the accused and which became the basis of accused's prosecution in court also speaks of two houses or structures illegally constructed by the accused.
WHEREFORE, finding no compelling or cogent reason to reconsider its Order dated June 15, 1999, the Court hereby DENIES accused's Motion for Reconsideration.
Two (2) months thereafter, or on September 20, 1999, Carantes filed a Manifestation (actually a second motion for reconsideration) that on September 7, 1999, before the filing of the Information against him, a building permit for the remaining structure was issued by the City Engineer of Baguio. Thus, he prayed that a hearing be first conducted to enable him to prove that the subject structure was built with the required permit.
In its Comment dated October 16, 1999, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), petitioner, maintained that under Section 1, Rule VII of the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7916,1 it is the PEZA which has the authority to issue building permits over structures built within its area. Hence, the building permit issued by the City Engineer of Baguio has no force and effect; and assuming that the said building permit is in order, still, Carantes is liable after the Decision of the Court of Appeals became final and executory.
In his Reply dated October 26, 1999, Carantes submitted for the first time a copy of the Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim CAR-CALC (CAR-CALC) No. 022 issued to him by the Department of Environment and National Resources on September 9, 1995 showing his pending claim or application over the area on which the structure was built.
On November 29, 1999, the trial court, acting on Carantes' Manifestation (or second motion for reconsideration), issued an Order modifying the Appellate Court's final and executory Decision, holding that:
1. The issuance of the building permit by the City Engineer in favor of Carantes operates to legalize the construction of the subject structure; andcralawlibrary
2. The CAR-CALC No. 022 issued to Carantes by the DENR vested in him a right over the area occupied by him.
The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered and as prayed for by the accused, no writ of execution shall issue for the demolition of the subject structure.
Petitioner PEZA filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the trial court in an Order dated January 17, 2000. This prompted petitioner to file with this Court the instant petition for certiorari and mandamus, alleging inter alia that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in modifying the final Decision of the Court of Appeals by recognizing the building permit issued by the City Engineer of Baguio City. Besides, under both Republic Act No. 79162 and Presidential Decree No. 66,3 as amended, the administration and enforcement of the National Building Code in all export processing zones is vested in the PEZA Administrator. The City Engineer of Baguio City is thus without jurisdiction to issue any building permit in areas under PEZA. Moreover, the Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim is merely "a registered claim and not a proof of ownership."
Private respondent Carantes countered that in refusing to issue the writ of demolition, the trial court merely complied with the Local Government Code of 1991, authorizing the City Mayor to require owners of illegally built buildings, houses, and other structures to obtain the necessary building permit.
This petition is unmeritorious.
Carantes' Manifestation dated September 20, 1999 that the City Engineer issued a building permit for the remaining structure and that, therefore, the writ of demolition should be recalled, is actually a second motion for reconsideration. The trial court should have denied it outright, the same being a prohibited motion.
Even assuming that said Manifestation or second motion for reconsideration is in order, still, it should be denied for lack of merit. Carantes is a mere applicant for the issuance of a certificate of ownership of ancestral land. In short, he has not acquired a vested right as an owner thereof so as to exclude the same from the areas under PEZA.
Moreover, Section 1, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides:
SEC. 1. Execution upon judgments or final orders. - Execution shall issue as a matter of right, on motion, upon a judgment or order that disposes of the action or proceeding upon the expiration of the period to appeal therefrom if no appeal has been duly perfected.
If the appeal has been duly perfected and finally resolved, the execution may forthwith be applied for in the court of origin, on motion of the judgment obligee, submitting therewith certified true copies of the judgment or judgments or final order or orders sought to be enforced and of the entry thereof, with notice to the adverse party.
The appellate court may, on motion in the same case, when the interest of justice so requires, direct the court of origin to issue the writ of execution.
It is settled that when a judgment is final and executory, it becomes immutable and unalterable.4 The judgment may no longer be modified in any respect, except to correct clerical errors or to make nunc pro tunc entries. The court which rendered judgment has the ministerial duty to issue a writ of execution. The parties may not object to the execution by raising new issues of fact or law, except under the following circumstances:
1) the writ of execution varies the judgment;
2) there has been a change in the situation of the parties making execution inequitable or unjust;
3) execution is sought to be enforced against property exempt from execution;
4) it appears that the controversy has been submitted to the judgment of the court;
5) the terms of the judgment are not clear enough and there remains room for interpretation thereof; or
6) it appears that the writ of execution has been improvidently issued, or that it is defective in substance, or issued against the wrong party, or that the judgment debt has been paid or otherwise satisfied, or the writ was issued without authority.5
We find that none of these exceptions is present in this case.
We, therefore, hold that the trial court gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the challenged Orders modifying the final and executory Decision of the Court of Appeals.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The assailed Orders of the RTC, Branch 59, Baguio City, dated November 29, 1999 and January 17, 2000 in Criminal Case No. 9452-R are NULLIFIED. The trial court is ordered to fully implement the writ for the demolition of the remaining structure built by private respondent Carantes on the area owned by petitioner PEZA.
1 Sec. 1. No building, structure, facility, utility, x x x shall be constructed and installed and no improvement thereat within an ECOZONE or any other area owned, administered or operated by PEZA shall be made without the prior written approval or permit issued by the PEZA.
2 The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.
3 Decree creating the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), now PEZA.