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G.R. No.177516 - CONRADO QUESADA, ET AL. v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

G.R. No.177516 - CONRADO QUESADA, ET AL. v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 177516 : March 13, 2009]

CONRADO QUESADA, ANGELITA QUESADA EJERCITO, HECTOR A. QUESADA, AUGUST QUESADA, ENGRACIA A. QUESADA, and GAVINA ASUNCION, Petitioners, v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS OF ILDEFONSO DEREQUITO and AGUSTIN D. DEREQUITO, represented by EUGENIO DEREQUITO and FOR HIMSELF, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Epitacio Asuncion, predecessor-in-interest of herein petitioners Conrado Quesada, et al., was the owner of Lot No. 225-B (the lot) covered by Original Certificate of Title No. F-24467 of the Register of Deeds of Iloilo and containing about 3.4 hectares.1 One-and-a-half (1 ') hectares of the lot were leased to one Claro San Luis (San Luis).

The lot is separated from the land occupied by Querubin Derequito (Querubin), predecessor-in-interest of respondents, by the Balabag River. Querubin converted a portion of the Balabag River into a fish pond and occupied a portion of the lot leased to San Luis.ςηαñrοblεš  Î½Î¹r†υαl  lαω  lιbrαrÿ

Querubin later filed a complaint for forcible entry against San Luis, docketed as Civil Case No. 8863. Branch I of the Iloilo then Court of First Instance rendered a decision dated August 25, 1975 in favor of the therein defendant San Luis,2 disposing as follows:

FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is rendered:

A. ordering plaintiff [Querubin] to renounce possession of the little over one hectare indicated as Exhibit A-2 and Exhibit A-3 on Exhibit A for plaintiff and Exhibit 5 for defendant;

b. ordering plaintiff to limit his fishpond operation on the area North and Northeast of the original bank (before encroachment) of the Balabag River in Dumangas, Iloilo;

c. ordering defendant to limit his fishpond operation along the curb line indicated in red pencil from point x to y on the sketch plan, Exhibit B for the plaintiff, of the area South and southeast of the original bank of the Balabag River.

No pronouncement as to cost.

Let copy of this decision be furnished the Regional Director of the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communication with offices in Iloilo City.

SO ORDERED. (Underscoring supplied)3

The Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision was denied by Order of September 15, 1976. The decision having become final and executory, a writ of execution was issued by the trial court but it appears that it was not implemented.4

In 1977, San Luis' contract of lease expired.

After Querubin died, respondents succeeded in the possession and enjoyment of the fruits of the questioned portion of the lot.

On August 26, 1985, San Luis, together with petitioners, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City a complaint to revive the judgment in Civil Case No. 8863 (for forcible entry, which was decided in favor of the therein defendant San Luis) and to recover possession and damages.5 The complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 16681, was later amended to implead respondents Agustin Derequito and Eugenio Derequito (Eugenio) as defendants and to drop San Luis as a plaintiff.6

Branch 32 of the Iloilo City RTC, by Decision of July 8, 2002, rendered judgment in Civil Case No. 16681 in favor of petitioners, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants as follows:

1. The Decision rendered in Civil Case No. 8863 be revived in favor of the plaintiffs[-herein petitioners] Quesadas, Ejercito, and Asuncion after they have acquired the rights and interest of Claro San Luis by subrogation upon the termination of the lease contract of Claro San Luis in 1977 in the Decision Dated August 25, 1975 which reads as follows:

A. ordering plaintiff to renounce possession of the little over one hectare indicated as Exhibit A-2 and Exhibit A-3 on Exhibit A for plaintiff and Exhibit 5 for defendant;

b. ordering plaintiff to limit his fishpond operation on the area North and Northeast of the original bank (before encroachment) of the Balabag River in Dumangas, Iloilo;

c. ordering defendant to limit his fishpond operation along the curb line indicated in red pencil from point x to y on the sketch plan, Exhibit B for the plaintiff, of the area South and southeast of the original bank of the Balabag River.

No pronouncement as to cost.

Let copy of this decision be furnished the Regional Director of the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communication with offices in Iloilo City.

SO ORDERED.

Iloilo City, August 25, 1975.

2. The defendants - [herein respondents] are hereby ordered jointly and severally to pay plaintiffs the sum of no less than Forty Thousand (P40,000.00) Pesos a year for damages from 1977 until plaintiffs are restored to the possession of that 1-1/2 hectares more or less of Lot 225-B;

3. Defendants are ordered jointly and severally to pay plaintiffs the sum of Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) Pesos as attorney's fees and Two Thousand (P2,000.00) as litigation expenses every time case is called for trial;

4. Defendants are ordered to pay the costs of the suit; andcralawlibrary

5. Defendants are ordered jointly and severally to return that portion of Lot 225-B covered by Original Certificate of Title No. F-24467 in the name of Epitacio Asuncion, the predecessor-in-interest of the plaintiffs, Quesadas, Ejercito and Asuncion.

SO ORDERED.7 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary

Respondents filed a Notice of Appeal8 of the trial court's decision which was denied due course as it was filed beyond the reglementary period.9 A Writ of Execution was thereupon issued.10

Respondents subsequently filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition, and injunction11 before the Court of Appeals, alleging that the trial judge acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in

x x x MODIFYING the original judgment [in the forcible entry case] which has long become final and executory, rendered by Hon. Judge Sancho Y. Inserto, by requiring the defendants-petitioner[s] to pay monetary damages which was not awarded on the original judgment,

x x x reviving the original judgment which has long PRESCRIBE[D];

x    x    x

x x x granting the ex-parte motion to serve the Writ of Execution of the revived judgment here in Digos City upon he defendant-petitioner, Eugenio Derequito[;]12 (Emphasis and underscoring in the original; CAPITALIZATION supplied);

and that the Ex-Officio Provincial Sheriff and Clerk of Court of the Iloilo City RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the Writ of Execution.13

By Decision14 of May 31, 2006, the Court of Appeals, finding that prescription had set in as 30 years had "already passed" from the time the decision in the forcible entry case became final and executory "in 1975," and that the said decision "may no longer be reviewed in the new action for its enforcement," found merit in respondents' petition. Thus it ratiocinated:

It must be stressed that Article 1444 (3) of the New Civil Code provides that actions upon a judgment must be brought within ten (10) years from the time the right of action accrues. In other words, the action to revive a judgment prescribes in ten (10) years counted from the date said judgment became final or from the date of its entry. Additionally, after the lapse of five (5) years from the date of entry of judgment or the date said judgment became final and executory, and before the expiration of ten (10) years from such date, the judgment may be enforced by instituting an ordinary action alleging said judgment as the cause of action. Furthermore, Section 6, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a final and executory judgment or order may be executed on motion within five (5) years from the date of its entry. After the lapse of such time and before it is barred by the statute of limitations, a judgment may be enforced by action. The records of the case at bar reveal that prescription had already set in against the original judgment because it became final and executory in 1975 and more than 30 years have already passed, thus the judgment can no longer be enforced.

x    x    x

x x x The petitioners are therefore correct in assailing the court a quo's decision since it is already unalterable and may not be modified in any respect.

Moreover, the rule is well-settled that the judgment sought to be enforced may no longer be reviewed in the new action for its enforcement, an action the purpose of which is not to re-examine and re-try the issues already decided but to revive the judgment. x x x

x    x    x

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. Consequently, the Decision and Order dated July 8, 2002 and January 9, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 32, Iloilo City, are vacated and set aside.

IT IS SO ORDERED.15 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary

Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration having been denied by Resolution of April 12, 2007,16 the present petition17 was filed, faulting the appellate court

(a)

x x x IN NOT DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI, PROHIBITION AND INJUNCTION IN CA-G.R. SP NO. 01489 ON THE GROUND THAT IT SUFFERED FROM BOTH SUBSTANTIVE AND PROCEDURAL INFIRMITIES.

(b)

x x x IN FINDING AND CONCLUDING THAT THE LOWER COURT ACTED WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN MODIFYING THE ORIGINAL JUDGMENT, WHICH HAS LONG BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY, BY REQUIRIING THE PETITIONERS TO PAY MONETARY DAMAGES NOT AWARDED IN THE ORIGINAL JUDGMENT.

(c)

x x x IN UPHOLDING THE CLAIM OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS THAT PRESCRIPTION HAD ALREADY SET IN AGAINST THE ORIGINAL JUDGMENT BECAUSE IT BECAME FINAL AND EXECUTORY IN 1975 AND MORE THAN 30 YEARS HAVE ALREADY PASSED, THUS THE JUDGMENT CAN NO LONGER BE ENFORCED.18

The petition is impressed with merit on procedural and substantive grounds.

One of the requirements for certiorari to lie is that there is no appeal nor any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.19 Respondents had the remedy of appeal when the trial court rendered judgment in favor of petitioners. Respondents did in fact file a Notice of Appeal, which was denied due course, however, because it was filed beyond the reglementary period. Having lost the remedy of appeal, they should not have been allowed by the Court of Appeals to avail of the remedy of certiorari .

Respondents nevertheless argue that respondent Eugenio learned of Civil Case No. 16681-action for revival of judgment only when the writ of execution was served on him; and that Eugenio, who has been living in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur since 1960, has not been served with copies of the orders, notices, and other court processes issued in said case.20

The Court is not impressed. Respondent Eugenio, together with the other respondents, participated in the proceedings of the case through their counsel Atty. Teofilo G. Leonidas, Jr. (Atty. Leonidas) who received the court processes in their behalf. It is axiomatic that when a client is represented by counsel, notice to counsel is notice to client.21

Respondents argue, however, that there is no proof that Atty. Leonidas had been given the authority to represent them.22 Again, the Court is not impressed. The presumption in favor of a counsel's authority to appear in behalf of a client is a strong one, and a lawyer is not required to present a written authorization from his client.23

Respecting the issue of prescription, contrary to respondents' contention, the action to revive the judgment in the forcible entry case had not prescribed. The judgment sought to be revived was rendered on August 25, 1975 and the motion for reconsideration of the said judgment was denied on September 15, 1976.24 A writ of execution was in fact issued.

The writ of execution was not enforced, however, within five years or up to or on or about September 15, 1981. Hence, the filing of Civil Case No. 16681 ─ the action for revival of judgment ─ on August 26, 1985, was well within the 10-year prescriptive period.25 STRANGELY, the appellate court,

in its challenged decision of May 31, 2006, appears to have reckoned the 10-year prescriptive period from the finality of the trial court's decision up to the promulgation of its (the appellate court's) decision on May 31, 2006, hence, its ruling that 30 years had already passed from the finality of the trial court's decision.

As for respondents' claim that the trial court erred in modifying the revived judgment by awarding damages, the same fails. The damages awarded represented those suffered by petitioners on account of respondents' withholding possession of the lot since 1977 (when San Luis' lease contract expired and petitioners took over his rights and interests over the questioned portion of the lot) and attorney's fees and litigation expenses. It need not be underlined that the relief to which the judgment creditor-plaintiff in a complaint for revival of a judgment depends upon the contents of the judgment in said complaint, and not on what was granted in the judgment sought to be revived.

Thus, petitioners' complaint for revival of judgment and recovery of possession and damages had two causes of action. The first sought the revival of judgment in the case for forcible entry, which was in favor of former lessee San Luis. The second sought the recovery of possession and damages against respondents for violation of petitioners' right to the possession and fruits of the lot since 1977.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated May 31, 2006 and Resolution dated April 12, 2007 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The July 8, 2002 Decision of Branch 32 of the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 16681 is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

Endnotes:


* Acting Chief Justice.

1 Records, p. 167.

2 Id. at 6-9.

3 Id. at 8-9.

4 Id. at 43.

5 Id. at 1-5.

6 Id. at 55-59.

7 Id. at 205-206.

8 Id. at 208.

9 Id. at 239.

10 Id. at 240.

11 CA rollo, pp. 2-18.

12 Id. at 10-11.

13 Id. at 11.

14 Penned by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr. with the concurrence of Associate Justices Arsenio J. Magpale and Vicente L. Yap, CA rollo, pp. 125-133.

15 Id. at 130-133.

16 Id. at 152-153.

17 Rollo, pp. 3-22.

18 Id. at 8-9.

19 Vide Rules of Court, Rule 65, Section 1.

20 Rollo, pp. 46-47.

21 Manaya v. Alabang Country Club, Incorporated, G.R. No. 168988, June 19, 2007, 525 SCRA 140,147.

22 Rollo, p. 46.

23 Vide Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Development Co., G.R. No. 167886, October 25, 2005, 474 SCRA 344, 349.

24 Records, pp. 41-42.

25 Civil Code, Article 1144:

The following actions must be commenced within ten years:

(1) Upon a written contract;

(2) Upon an obligation created by law;

(3) Upon a judgment.

Article 1152. The period for prescription of actions to demand the fulfillment of obligations declared by a judgment commences from the time the judgment became final.

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