[G.R. No. 178758, April 03, 2013]
MARCELINO AND VITALIANA DALANGIN, Petitioners, v. CLEMENTE PEREZ, CECILIA GONZALES, SPOUSES JOSE BASIT AND FELICIDAD PEREZ, SPOUSES MELECIO MANALO AND LETICIA DE GUZMAN, AND THE PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF BATANGAS, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
WHEREFORE, the plaintiffs’ complaint is hereby DISMISSED with respect to the two properties which were actually placed in the defendants’ possession by virtue of the Writ of Possession issued by the City Court, in connection with Civil Case No. 1386, to wit:cralaw
(1) ‘A parcel of riceland with TD No. 6104 located at Dagatan, Taysan, Batangas, bounded on the N – Canuto Ampuro, on the E – Creek; on the S – Valeriana Gonzales and W – Cecilia Gonzales with an area of 27,855 square meters, more or less and with an assessed value of Php1,910’; and
(2) The Northeastern one-half portion of the following lot:
‘A parcel of riceland with TD No. 29 located at Bacao, Taysan, Batangas, bounded on the N – Mrs. Felicidad Magtibay; E – Fausto Manalo; S- Raymundo Bacao; W – Batalan River with an area of 50[,]410 square meters, more or less with an assessed value of Php1,510.00;cralawlibrary
Of the other lots mentioned in said Writ of Possession, the Municipal Assessors of Taysan, Batangas and Lobo, Batangas are hereby ordered to cancel whatever tax declarations relative to the following properties that may be in the names of the herein defendants as a consequence of said Civil Case No. 1386, but the actual possession of which have not been delivered to or taken by them, and to issue new ones in the names of the herein plaintiffs Marcelino Dalangin and Vitaliana Dalangin, to wit:cralaw
(1) ‘A parcel of land (riceland) caingin, located at Apar, Lobo, Batangas, with TD No. 8693, bounded on the N – Miguel Bagsic’ psc-172200; S – Nicolas Buisan, E – Vitaliano Manalo, W – Mahabang Parang River and with an area of 225[,]000 square meters more or less, with an assessed value of Php6,750.00’;cralawlibrary
(2) ‘A parcel of land (riceland) caingin, with TD No. 9634 located at Apar, Lobo, Batangas, bounded on the N – Nicolas Buisan; on the S – Nicolas Buisan, E – Nicolas Buisan; and W – Aurora Manalo and Sps. Marcelino Dalangin and Vitaliana Dalangin with an area of 229[,]161 square meters, more or less, with an assessed value of P4,100’.
(3) The Southeastern one-half portion of the following lot:
‘A parcel of riceland with TD No. 29 located at Bacao, Taysan, Batangas, bounded on the N – Mrs. Felicidad Magtibay; E – Fausto Manalo; S – Raymundo Bacao; W – Batalan River with an area of 50[,]140 square meters, more or less with an assessed value of Php1,510.00’;cralawlibrary
No pronouncement as to costs.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed Amended Decision, dated December 16, 2003, of the Regional Trial Court of Batangas City, Fourth Judicial Region, Br. 8, in Civil Case No. 2700, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. No special pronouncement as to costs.
DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS CORRECTLY APPLY THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 39, SECTION 15 OF THE RULES OF COURT?19
The applicable rule at the time of the execution sale on March 15, 1972 is Rule 39, Section 18 of the 1964 Rules of Court. This rule does not require personal written notice to the judgment debtor.
Sec. 18. Notice of sale of property on execution. – Before the sale of property on execution, notice thereof must be given as follows:cralaw
(a) In case of perishable property, by posting written notice of the time and place of the sale in three public places in the municipality or city where the sale is to take place, for such time as may be reasonable, considering the character and condition of the property;cralawlibrary
(b) In case of other personal property, by posting a similar notice in three public places in the municipality or city where the sale is to take place, for not less than five (5) nor more than ten (10) days;cralawlibrary
(c) In case of real property, by posting a similar notice particularly describing the property for twenty (20) days in three public places in the municipality or city where the property is situated, and also where the property is to be sold, and, if the assessed value of the property exceeds four hundred pesos (P400), by publishing a copy of the notice once a week, for the same period, in [a] newspaper published or having general circulation in the province, if there be one. If there are newspapers published in the Province in both the English and Spanish languages, then a like publication for a like period shall be made in one newspaper published in the English language, and in one published in the Spanish language.
The presumption of regularity of the execution sale and the sheriff’s performance of his official functions prevail in the absence of evidence to the contrary and in light of the self- serving allegations and bare denials of petitioners to the effect that they were not served with notice of the sheriff’s sale.
Contrary to the Court of Appeals’ holding, the burden of evidence to prove lack of compliance with Section 15, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court rests on the party claiming lack thereof i.e., respondents.
In Venzon v. Spouses Juan, we declared that the judgment debtor, as herein respondents, alleging lack of compliance with the posting and publication requirements of the auction sale in accordance with the rules, is behooved to prove such allegation. We held, thus:chanroblesvirtuallawlibraryx x x. Whoever asserts a right dependent for its existence upon a negative, must establish the truth of the negative by a preponderance of the evidence. This must be the rule, or it must follow that rights, of which a negative forms an essential element, may be enforced without proof. Thus, whenever the [party’s] right depends upon the truth of a negative, upon him is cast the onus probandi, except in cases where the matter is peculiarly within the knowledge of the adverse party.
It was error, therefore, for the trial court to hold that: Defendants did not present evidence to rebut the “no notice”
allegation of the plaintiff. Although in the defendant spouses’ pre-trial brief, there is that general allegation that the auction sale was made in accordance with law, however, there is no showing in the record that the requirements with respect to publication/posting of notices were complied with by the defendants.
Deliberating on the absence of notice, the fact that the plaintiff did not come to know that Lot 12 was being subjected to an auction sale proves two things: one, that no notice was posted in the place where the property is located [and, two, that] there was no auction sale that took place on March 30, 1992. . . .
Further, the defendants, particularly defendant sheriff, who is the most competent person to testify that a written notice of sale was made and posted in accordance with law, was not presented to the witness stand. Neither was a document presented like Sheriff’s Certificate of Posting to attest to the fact that a written notice of sale was posted before the property was allegedly sold at public auction. In fact, the record is silent as (to) where the auction sale was conducted.
By ruling in the foregoing manner, the trial court incorrectly shifted the plaintiff’s burden of proof to the defendants. It is true that the fact of posting and publication of the notices is a matter “peculiarly within the knowledge” of the Deputy Sheriff. However, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over him, as he was not served with summons. At the time of the filing of the complaint, he was “no longer connected” with the Caloocan RTC, Branch 126, which issued the writ of execution. Hence, he could not testify in his own behalf.x x x [T]he duty imposed by Section  (c) is reposed upon the sheriff, who is charged with the enforcement of the writ. Respondent spouses had a right to presume that he had regularly performed his duty. It was not incumbent upon them to present him as a witness for, in the absence of the sheriff, the burden to prove lack of posting and publication remained with petitioner.
Respondents made no attempt to meet this burden of evidence, simply maintaining lack of notice of the entire proceedings (execution and issuance of a new title over the subject property) before the trial court.
We cannot subscribe to respondents’ belated posturing. The disputable presumption that official duty has been regularly performed was not overcome by respondents. The documents on record lead us to the inevitable conclusion that respondents had constructive, if not actual, notice of the execution proceedings from the issuance of the Writ of Execution, the levy on the subject property, its subjection to execution sale, up to and until the proceedings in the RTC relating to the issuance of a new certificate of title over the subject property. Certainly, respondents are precluded from feigning ignorance of MFR (substituted by Reyes) staking a claim thereon.
There was substantial compliance with Section 15, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court: the documents in support thereof, i.e., the Certificate of Posting issued by Sheriff Legaspi and the Affidavit of Publication executed by the publisher of The Times Newsweekly, appear to be in order. In this case, the purpose of giving notice through posting and publication under Section 15(c) of the same rule—to let the public know of the sale to the end that the best price or a better bid may be made possible to minimize prejudice to the judgment debtor—was realized.25
* Per Special Order No. 1437 dated March 25, 2013.
1Rollo, pp. 11-24.
2 Id. at 25-46; penned by Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro and concurred in by Associate Justices Edgardo P. Cruz and Fernanda Lampas Peralta.
3 This figure is interchangeably indicated as 2.7855 and 2.7655 hectares in some parts of the records.
4 Records of Civil Case No. 1386, pp. 1-3.
5 Id. at 17.
6 Id. at 23; penned by Judge Filemon H. Mendoza.
7 Id. at 29-30.
8 Id. at 34.
9 Id. at 39-40.
10 Id. at 56-58.
11 Records of Civil Case No. 2700, pp. 1-4.
12 Id. at 18-21.
13 See Order dated October 13, 1986, id. at 66-67.
14 Id. at 83-84.
15 Id. at 388-400; penned by Judge Liberato C. Cortes.
16 Id. at 411-423. The trial court merely rectified a minor mistake in the original award, in that its original decretal portion covered a portion of the property which was not intended by the parties in their sale agreement.
17Rollo, pp. 37-38.
18 Id. at 46. Emphases in the original.
19 Id. at 135.
20 The Perez spouses have since passed away and have been substituted by their heirs. Respondent Felicidad Perez also passed away and is substituted by her co-respondent spouse Jose Basit and their children. Felicidad is the Perez spouses’ daughter. Respondents Jose Basit and his deceased spouse Felicidad, and respondent spouses Melecio Manalo and Leticia de Guzman, are impleaded as transferees of portions of the property in litigation.
21Rollo, pp. 82-94, 96-109.
22 Section 15 of Rule 39 reads in part:cralaw
x x x x
(d) In all cases, written notice of the sale shall be given to the judgment obligor at least three (3) days before the sale, except as provided in paragraph (a) hereof where notice shall be given at any time before the sale, in the same manner as personal service of pleadings and other papers as provided by section 6 of Rule 13.
x x x x
23 Dated May 15, 1987.
CIRCULAR NO. 8 May 15, 1987
TO: COURT OF APPEALS, SANDIGANBAYAN, COURT OF TAX APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS, SHARI'A DISTRICT COURTS, SHARI'A CIRCUIT COURTS, INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES AND MAJOR VOLUNTARY BAR ASSOCIATIONS.
SUBJECT: AMENDMENT OF RULE 39, SECTION 18 OF THE RULES OF COURT ON NOTICE OF SALE OF PROPERTY ON EXECUTION
For the information and guidance of all concerned, quoted hereunder is the resolution of the Court En Banc, dated April 7, 1987 in "Re: Amendment of Rule 39, Section 18 of the Rules of Court on Notice of Sale of Property on Execution."
Re: Amendment of Rule 39, Section 18 of the Rules of Court on Notice of Sale of Property on Execution. – The Court Resolved to APPROVE the following amendments of Rule 39, Section 18(c) of the Rules of Court on Notice of Sale of Property on Execution which consists of (1) publication, in addition to posting, is required where the assessed value of the real property subject of sale of execution exceeds P50,000.00 (increased from P400.00 under the present provision); (2) such publication of the notice of sale shall be made once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks (instead of for twenty  days), in some newspaper published or having general circulation in the province; (3) in places where newspapers are published in English and/or Filipino, publication shall be made in one such newspaper (instead of publishing said notice in both the English and Spanish newspapers as presently provided in the Rules); as well as the addition of paragraph (d) in said Section 18, imposing the requirement that in all cases, written notice of the sale must be given to the judgment debtor. The text of the amendments follows:cralaw
EXECUTION, SATISFACTION AND EFFECT OF JUDGMENTS
Sec. 18. Notice of sale of property on execution. — Before the sale of property on execution, notice thereof must be given as follows:cralaw
(a) x x x
(b) x x x
(c) In case of real property, by posting for twenty (20) days in three (3) public places in the municipality or city where the property is situated, a similar notice particularly describing the property and stating where the property is to be sold, and if the assessed value of the property exceeds FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00), by publishing a copy of the notice once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in some newspaper published or having general circulation in the province, if there be one. If there are newspapers published in the province in English and/or Filipino, then the publication shall be made in one such newspaper.
(d) In all cases, written notice of the sale shall be given to the judgment debtor.
Let copies hereof be circulated among all Courts, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and major voluntary bar associations.
Please be guided accordingly.
May 15, 1987. (Emphasis supplied)
24 G.R. No. 185620, December 14, 2011, 662 SCRA 553.
25 Id. at 563-565.