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G.R. No. 156850 - NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY v. PERICO V. JAO, representing the estate of the late Spouses ANDREA and IGNACIO JAO TAYAG

G.R. No. 156850 - NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY v. PERICO V. JAO, representing the estate of the late Spouses ANDREA and IGNACIO JAO TAYAG

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 156850 : October 24, 2008]

NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, Petitioner, v. PERICO V. JAO, representing the estate of the late Spouses ANDREA and IGNACIO JAO TAYAG, Respondents.

R E S O L U T I O N

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a Petition for Review 1 of the 16 July 2002 Decision2 and 10 January 2003 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66408.

The Facts

On 28 July 1982, the National Housing Authority (NHA) filed with the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Manila, Branch 28, a case for expropriation against the property of Ignacio and Andrea Jao Tayag (Spouses Jao Tayag) located on Juan Luna Street, Tondo, Manila. The property measured 1,660.60 square meters and was covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 95355. The NHA deposited P66,400 with the Philippine National Bank (PNB).

On 29 December 1982, the trial court issued a writ of possession, control, and disposition in favor of the NHA and, on 10 March 1983, the NHA took possession of the property. On 30 March 1984, the trial court upheld the NHA's right to expropriate the property. According to the NHA, the trial court set the amount of just compensation at P66,400.4 TCT No. 95355 was canceled and a new one in the name of the NHA was issued.

For more than 15 years, the NHA abandoned the property and failed to pay the Spouses Jao Tayag just compensation. The NHA failed to develop or utilize the property for any public purpose and left it to deteriorate. Squatters occupied and destroyed the improvements on the property.

On 20 May 1997, Perico V. Jao (Jao), representing the estate of the Spouses Jao Tayag, filed with the trial court a case for recovery of possession and damages against the NHA. In its 4 September 1998 Order, 5 the trial court ruled in favor of Jao. The trial court held and ordered that:

1. The defendant NHA from March 10, 1983 when actual possession of subject lot was transferred to it by Sheriff Mangahas of the City Sheriff of Manila to the present or a period of fourteen (14) years, has not devoted the same to any kind of public purpose or use; on the contrary it is now occupied by squatters[;]

2. There has been no actual payment of just compensation to the plaintiffs landowners; the mere deposit with the [Philippine National Bank] Heart Center Branch of the amount of [P66,400.00] could not legally be considered payment, it is the job and responsibility of the defendant NHA to effect and facilitate payment by initiating a case for the settlement of the estate of the deceased Ignacio Jao Tayag[;]

3. x x x x

4. The Plaintiffs obviously suffered damages by reason of their dispossession from subject lot without any concrete moves on the part of NHA to develop the same for any public purpose; ten thousand [pesos (P10,000.00)] a month to compensate for the deprivation of the occupancy and use thereof from March 1983 up to the present is reasonable[;]

5. Not having paid the just compensation for subject lot and not having devoted the same for any kind of public use for the last fifteen (15) years, defendant NHA should reconvey the same to the plaintiff.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants:

1. Declaring and finding that defendant NHA has utterly failed to comply with the provisions of our Constitution and Article 435 of the Civil Code on Eminent Domain in the expropriation of subject lot, that is, there was taking but there was no payment of just compensation of subject lot until the present; NHA has not also devoted the subject lot for any kind of public use or purpose during the last fifteen years.

2. Ordering NHA to reconvey subject lot to the plaintiff.

3. Ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiff the sum of ten thousand [pesos (P10,000.00)] a month for the loss of possession and use of the subject property and the further sum of five hundred thousand [pesos (P500,000.00)] as damages to the destroyed improvements thereon with legal interest, until the property is restored to the plaintiffs.

4. Ordering defendant NHA to pay plaintiff the sum of twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) for attorney's fees and costs of suit. (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

On 11 November 1998, the NHA filed a motion for reconsideration of the 4 September 1998 Order. In its 10 May 1999 Order,6 the trial court denied the motion for reconsideration. The trial court held that, "Sadly and regretably, until today, defendant [NHA's] socialized housing project envisioned for subject lot is still a dreamer's dream and only heaven knows when this dream becomes a reality."

On 7 June 1999, the NHA appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a Resolution dated 11 February 2000, the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal for failure to pay the docket and other lawful fees. On 9 March 2000, the 11 February 2000 Resolution became final and executory. The Entry of Judgment7 dated 9 March 2000 stated:

This is to certify that on February 11, 2000 a decision/resolution rendered in the above-entitled case was filed in this Office, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:

"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration filed by plaintiff-appellee, is hereby GRANTED and accordingly, our Resolution of November 8, 1999 allowing defendants-appellants to pay the required docket fees hereby recalled and set aside and the instant appeal ordered DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED."

and that the same has, on March 9, 2000 become final and executory and is hereby recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgments. (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

On 12 April 2000, Jao filed a motion for the issuance of a writ of execution.8 In the writ of execution dated 29 June 2000, the trial court commanded Sheriff Benjamin E. Garvida (Sheriff Garvida) to cause the NHA to (1) reconvey the property; (2) pay P10,000 for every month that Jao was deprived of possession and use of the property; (3) pay P500,000 for the damages to the improvements on the property, with 6% annual interest; (4) pay P20,000 attorney's fees and costs of suit, and (5) pay the legal fees for the execution of judgment. Sheriff Garvida furnished the PNB a notice of garnishment against the P66,400 deposit.

On 31 July 2000, the NHA filed a motion to quash the writ of execution and notice of garnishment.9 The NHA alleged that the writ was unlawful because all damages suffered by Jao should be answered by, and limited to, the P66,400 deposit.

The Regional Trial Court's Ruling

In its Order 10 dated 14 September 2000, the trial court denied the motion to quash the writ of execution and notice of garnishment. The trial court held that:

Rule 67, Section 11 of the Rules of Court provides, x x x, "But if the appellate court determines that the plaintiff has no right of expropriation, judgment shall be rendered ordering the Regional Trial Court to forthwith enforce the restoration to the defendant of the possession of the property and to determine the damages which the defendant sustained and may recover by reason of the possession taken by the plaintiff." This provision applies to the instant case as the annulment of the expropriation proceedings as found by this court is tantamount to a finding that the NHA has no right of condemnation, ergo, damages can be recovered. And, speaking of damages, the aforequoted provision of law does not provide for a limitation. In the same wise, the Court in Visayan v. Camus, supra, has no mention that the amount of damages recoverable is limited only to the amount of the preliminary deposit. Among others, the Court in the said case ruled that, "In the eventuality that the expropriation shall not be consummated, the owners will be protected by the deposit from any danger of loss resulting from the temporary occupation of the land by the government, for it is obvious that this preliminary deposit serves the double purpose of a prepayment upon the value of the property, if finally expropriated and as an indemnity against damages in the eventuality that the proceedings should fail of consummation." Indubitably, the pronouncement does not meant [sic] to be a limitation on the amount of damages recoverable, but, that the preliminary deposit serves as protection and security for the property owner.

Further, in Metropolitan Water District v. Sixto de los Angeles, 55 Phil. 783, where the government petitioned for the dismissal of the expropriation proceedings after the case has been appealed to the Court of Appeals by both the government and the owners of the properties and after a considerable period of time, the Court observed and paused [sic] a question, "Should not the plaintiff for causing damage to the defendants be required under the facts in the present case to answer for all the damages occasioned to the defendants? That question must certainly be answered in the affirmative." The court resolved.

The Court likewise ruled, "That whether the question of the determination of damages be in this or a separate action, the lower court should take into consideration, for the purpose of determining the amount of damages, the following: (1) The loss resulting from the dispossession of the land; (2) The loss resulting from the deprivation of the use and occupation of the land; (3) The expenses incurred during the pendency of this action, including attorney's fees, etc.; (4) The destruction of buildings, canals and growing crops at the time of the occupation of the land by the petitioner; and (5) All of the damages of whatever kind or character which the defendant may be able to prove and which have been occasioned by virtue of the institution of the present action."

Again, in this case, the Court enumerated the guidelines in determining the amount of damages. And, clearly, there is no occasion that the Court has limited the liability recoverable only to a certain amount. In the light of the foregoing, the instant motion is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.11 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

The NHA filed a motion for reconsideration of the 14 September 2000 Order. In its Order12 dated 28 June 2001, the trial court denied the motion. On 31 August 2001, the NHA filed a petition for certiorari 13 with the Court of Appeals praying that the 14 September 2000 and 28 June 2001 Orders be set aside. The NHA alleged that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the writ of execution because all damages suffered by Jao should be answered by, and limited to, the P66,400 deposit.

The Court of Appeals' Ruling/p>

In its Decision14 dated 16 July 2002, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. The Court of Appeals held that:

Foremost, this petition in essence takes the form of an appeal on the original decision that adjudged NHA's liability in excess of the initial deposit of the just compensation. However, we cannot allow petitioner to attack anew the merits of this case after it has long attained finality and is already executory. Worthy to point out is the fact that the subject of this petition is just the order denying the motion to quash writ of execution and notice of garnishment, which are the corollary consequences of the finality of the original case for recovery of possession of property. When herein petitioner failed to further advance its case, the same has [sic] attained finality as evidenced by the entry of judgment in this Court dated March 9, 2000 (Ibid. page 36). Hence, at this juncture, we cannot permit another glance at the merits of this case without transgressing settled rule and jurisprudence.

x x x

The respondent judge has not committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction correctible [sic] by certiorari . In fact there was no discretion allowed in the circumstance obtaining in this case. It must be recalled that the subject of the writ of execution sought to be quashed by herein petitioner is already final and executory.15 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

The NHA filed a motion for reconsideration of the 16 July 2002 Decision. In a Resolution16 dated 10 January 2003, the Court of Appeals denied the motion. Hence, this petition. The NHA alleged that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the petition took the form of an appeal and that the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is unmeritorious.

In its 4 September 1998 Order, the trial court categorically (1) held that the NHA failed to pay the just compensation; (2) held that Jao suffered damages; (3) held that the NHA failed to utilize the property for any public use or purpose; (4) ordered the NHA to reconvey the property; (5) ordered the NHA to pay P10,000 for every month that Jao was deprived of possession and use of the property; (6) ordered the NHA to pay P500,000 for the damages to the improvements on the property, with 6% annual interest; and (7) ordered the NHA to pay P20,000 attorney's fees and costs of suit. The trial court's 4 September 1998 Order became final and executory on 9 March 2000 when the Court of Appeals' 11 February 2000 Resolution dismissing the NHA's appeal became final. The Court of Appeals made an Entry of Judgment on 9 March 2000.

A final and executory order can no longer be disturbed no matter how erroneous it may be. Any judicial error should be corrected through an appeal and not through repeated suits on the same claim.17 If the Court would rule that the amount of damages recoverable by Jao was limited to the P66,400 deposit, it would, in effect, be amending the final and executory order of the trial court. The Court cannot do that.

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition. The Court AFFIRMS the 16 July 2002 Decision and 10 January 2003 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66408.

SO ORDERED.

Endnotes:


* Per Special Order No. 527.

** As replacement of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno who is on official leave per Special Order No. 528.

1 Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

2 Rollo, pp. 23-30. Penned by Associate Justice Candido V. Rivera with Associate Justices Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis and Sergio Pestaño, concurring.

3 Id. at 31-33. Penned by Associate Justice Candido V. Rivera with Associate Justices Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis and Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr., concurring.

4 Id. at 9 and 93-94.

5 Id. at 34-37.

6 Id. at 38.

7 Id. at 39.

8 CA rollo, pp. 56-57.

9 Id. at 61-63.

10 Id. at 15-17.

11 Id. at 16-17.

12 Id. at 13-14.

13 Under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

14 Rollo, pp. 23-30.

15 Id. at 28-29.

16 Id. at 31-33.

17 NHA v. Heirs of Guivelondo, 452 Phil. 481, 493 (2003).


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