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[A.M. No. MTJ-01-1379. September 10, 2002.]

(Formerly IPI No. 00-894-MTJ)

RAMIL LUMBRE, Complainant, v. JUSTINIANO C. DELA CRUZ, Sheriff, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 38, Quezon City, Respondent.



In a sworn letter-complaint, dated 27 May 2000, complainant Ramil Lumbre has charged respondent sheriff Justiniano C. de la Cruz with dereliction of duty for his failure to implement a writ of execution. The matter relates to Civil Case No. 13818, entitled "Spouses Ramil Lumbre and Leticia Lumbre v. Spouses Cesario Baluyot and Cynthia Baluyot," for rescission of contract and recovery of a sum of money and damages before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 33, of Quezon City.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Complainant, the plaintiff in the civil case, averred that on 23 January 1998, then Presiding Judge Ricardo Buenviaje rendered a decision in favor of the spouses Lumbre. When the defendants had failed to appeal therefrom, complainant, through counsel, filed a motion for execution of the judgment. On 7 August 1998, Judge Buenviaje issued an order granting the writ of execution but it was only on 23 March 1999, or more than seven months later, when respondent sheriff issued a notice of levy and sale on execution of personal property, scheduling the auction sale on 7 April 1999. The auction sale did not proceed on its scheduled date on account of a motion of third party claimant Bonifacio Magno. The motion, filed on 06 April 1999 before pairing Judge Augustus Diaz of MeTC, Branch 38, Quezon City, sought the issuance of an order lifting the notice of levy. On 6 September 1999, Judge Diaz ordered the suspension of the auction sale until the plaintiff would have filed an indemnity bond. The plaintiff complied by posting the bond. On 24 September 1999, respondent sheriff gave notice resetting the auction sale to 01 October 1999; however, in an order, dated 30 September 1999, Judge Diaz suspended the auction sale. Complainant’s counsel filed a motion for reconsideration. On 19 October 1999, Judge Diaz lifted the notice of levy, stating that the subject property was not owned by the defendants, the spouses Baluyot, but by third party claimant Bonifacio Magno. In the same order, Judge Diaz inhibited himself from resolving complainant’s motion for reconsideration of the 30th September 1999 order. The case was later assigned to Judge Henri Inting of Branch 53, MeTC, Quezon City, who ultimately denied complainant’s motion for reconsideration.

Citing the various incidents that had transpired from the time the decision was rendered on 23 January 1998 until the issuance of the order on 19 October 1999, respondent sheriff, in his comment, maintained that the writ of execution had been properly served and attributed its non-implementation to the motion filed by the third party claimant.

The matter was referred to the Office of the Court Administrator ("OCA") for evaluation, report and recommendation. In its memorandum, dated 20 August 2001, the OCA found respondent sheriff guilty of dereliction of duty for failing to implement the writ of execution within a reasonable time. The OCA pointed out that while the late Judge Buenviaje issued the writ of execution on 07 August 1998, it was several months later, or only on 23 March 1999, that respondent sheriff caused the posting of the notice of levy and scheduled sale on execution of personality. The excuse that the delay should be attributed to the motion filed by the third party claimant was not accepted by the OCA considering that the claim was only filed after March 1999. Thus, the OCA recommended that respondent be ordered to pay a fine of Five Thousand Pesos with warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with severely.

The Court agrees with OCA. When a writ of execution is placed in the hands of a sheriff, it is his duty, in the absence of contrary instructions, to have it implemented forthwith. The sheriff is primarily responsible for the speedy and efficient service of all court processes and writs originating from the court and its branches, including such as may be properly delegated to him by other courts. 1 The delay of more than seven months, from the time the writ of execution was issued by the court on 07 August 1998 to the time when respondent sheriff posted the notice of sale or levy on 23 March 1999, is an inordinately long period for respondent to act thereon. The importance of the role played by all court personnel in the administration of justice is never to be taken lightly. It is the sheriffs particularly who are depended on, and who must properly attend to, the proper implementation of court decrees and orders, and they are expected to do so with utmost diligence and dispatch.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Justiniano de la Cruz, Sheriff III, Branch 38, Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities, Quezon City, guilty of inexcusable delay in carrying out a lawful writ of execution and hereby imposes on him the recommended FINE of Five Thousand Pesos with warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with severely.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary


Davide, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, and Carpio, JJ., concur.


1. Jumio v. Egay-Eviota. 231 SCRA 551.

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