Case Digest: Yaeso v. Enolpe & Alimurung

A.M. No. P-08-2584 : November 15, 2010

ALFREDO YAESO,Complainant, v. Legal Researcher/Officer-in-Charge REYNALDO R. ENOLPE and Sheriff IV GENEROSO B. REGALADO, both of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 16, Cebu City; and Sheriff IV CONSTANCIO V. ALIMURUNG, Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Cebu City, Respondents.



This is an administrative complaint filed by Alfredo Yaeso against respondents for Abuse of Authority, Grave Misconduct, and Ignorance of the Law.

A case for ejectment was filed with the MTCC. MTCC rendered a decision in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants-spouses Alfredo Yaeso and Maria C. Yaeso. Spouses Yaeso appealed to the RTC. In the Writ of Execution issued by Enolpe, Regalado, as the RTC Sheriff, was commanded to facilitate the issuance of the notice to vacate and to forcibly eject spouses Yaeso from the subject premises; and to satisfy the judgment debt, first through the goods and chattels of the spouses, then through their lands and buildings not exempt from execution. Alimurung was appointed as Assisting Sheriff and was tasked to implement the writ of execution.

In the course of the implementation of the writ, Alimurung demolished spouses Yaesos house without a court order for the purpose.

Yaeso faults Enolpe for issuing the writ of execution despite the pendency of the appeal before the RTC; Regalado, for directing the spouses to vacate the premises, and to pay Oliva sums of money and attorneys fees; and Alimurung, for demolishing spouses Yaesos house without a special order to do so.

Judge Paredes recommended the dismissal of the complaint against Enolpe and Regalado as they merely performed their official duties in issuing the writ of execution and in implementing the said writ, respectively. He, however, recommended that Alimurung be held liable for simple misconduct and be suspended for two months.

Upon referral of the case to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, the OCA adopted Judge Paredes findings.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondents are administratively liable for the offenses charged?

HELD: OCA's recommendation is adopted with modifications.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: administrative complaints; court personnel; sheriffs

Time and again, this Court has emphasized that the conduct or behavior of all officials and employees of an agency involved in the administration of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. Their conduct must at all times be characterized by, among others, strict propriety and decorum in order to earn and maintain the respect of the public for the judiciary.

All employees of the judiciary should be examples of responsibility, competence, and efficiency. As officers of the court and agents of the law, they must discharge their duties with due care and utmost diligence. Any conduct they exhibit tending to diminish the faith of the people in the judiciary will not be condoned.

The Court has even higher expectations from its sheriffs. Sheriffs play an important role in the administration of justice, and they should always invigorate and hold inviolate the tenet that a public office is a public trust. Being at the grassroots of our judicial machinery, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs are in close contact with the litigants; hence, their conduct should all the more maintain the prestige and the integrity of the court. By the very nature of their functions, sheriffs must conduct themselves with propriety and decorum, so as to be above suspicion. Sheriffs cannot afford to err in serving court writs and processes and in implementing court orders, lest they undermine the integrity of their office and the efficient administration of justice.

It is undisputed that the most difficult phase of any proceeding is the execution of judgment. The officer charged with this delicate task is the sheriff. Despite being exposed to hazards that come with the implementation of the judgment, the sheriff must perform his duties by the book.

REMEDIAL LAW: writ of executions; demolition

Before the removal of an improvement from the subject premises, there must be a special order, hearing, and reasonable notice to remove. Section 10(d), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 10. Execution of judgment for specific act.

x x x x

(d) Removal of improvements on property subject of execution. When the property subject of the execution contains improvements constructed or planted by the judgment obligor or his agent, the officer shall not destroy, demolish or remove said improvements except upon special order of the court, issued upon motion of the judgment obligee after due hearing and after the former has failed to remove the same within a reasonable time fixed by the court.

The above-stated rule is clear and needs no interpretation. The requirement of a special order of demolition is based on the rudiments of justice and fair play. It frowns upon arbitrariness and oppressive conduct in the execution of an otherwise legitimate act. It is an amplification of the provision of the Civil Code that every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. Sheriff Alimurungs compliance with the Rules of Court, especially in the implementation of judgments, is not merely directory but mandatory. He is expected to know the rules of procedure, particularly when they pertain to his function as an officer of the court.

Sheriffs, as officers of the court and agents of the law, are bound to use prudence, due care, and diligence in the discharge of their official duties. Where rights of individuals are jeopardized by the sheriffs actions, they may be properly fined, suspended, or dismissed from office by virtue of this Courts administrative supervision over the judicial branch of the government.

We have consistently held that when a respondents inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law, or a principle in the discharge of his duties, he is either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds, or he is too vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and with grave abuse of judicial authority.
Respondent Constancio V. Alimurung is SUSPENDED for SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY, and is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. The complaint against respondents Reynaldo R. Enolpe and Generoso B. Regalado is DISMISSED.

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