G.R. No. 210864. June 18, 2018

FIRST DIVISION [ G.R. No. 210864, June 18, 2018 ] GELARDA M. TOLENTINO VS. NANCY B. ROCES.

Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which seeks to assail the Decision[2] dated September 5, 2013 and Resolution[3] dated January 16, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 118699, which reversed and set aside the issuance of a writ of execution in a Decision4 dated July 25, 2012 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 132, in Civil Case No. 10-384.

Gelarda M. Tolentino (petitioner) is the registered owner of a parcel of land with residential building thereon at Barangay Singkamas, Makati City. The subject property was originally covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 210174 in the name of Corazon Sta. Brigida (Corazon). However, the ownership of the subject property was transferred to petitioner through a Deed of Absolute Sale executed between her and Corazon.[5]

As new owner of the property, petitioner sent a demand letter dated March 30, 2009, requesting from Nancy B. Roces (respondent) and all persons claiming rights under her to vacate and surrender the possession of the second floor of the subject property. However, respondent refused to heed to such demand.[6]

Petitioner then filed a Complaint for Ejectment against respondent before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Makati City, Branch 62.

For her part, respondent, one of the children of Corazon, justified her possession of the second floor of the subject property by refusing to recognize the Deed of Absolute Sale between Corazon and petitioner on the ground of fraud. She alleged that Corazon was not in her full and mental capacity to enter into a contract when the Deed of Absolute Sale was executed.[7]The MeTC issued a Decision[8] dated February 10, 2010, ruling in favor of petitioner. The MeTC held that petitioner's right to eject respondent is based on her ownership of the subject property, evidenced by a title. Being the owner, petitioner has the right of action against the possessor of her property to recover it. The fallo thereof reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, there being preponderance of evidence, [respondent], and all persons claiming rights under her, are ordered to peacefully surrender unto [petitioner] the subject premises located at the Second Floor, Lot 19, Block 2, Brgy. Singkamas, Makati City, otherwise described as No. 179 J.P. Rizal, corner Nazario St. Brgy. Singkamas, Makati City, and for [respondent] to pay [petitioner], reasonable attorney's fees of Php 20,000.00 and the costs of suit.

The counterclaims of the [respondent] is denied for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[9]
Respondent filed a Notice of Appeal[10] and the same was given due course by the MeTC. The case was then elevated to the RTC of Makati City, Branch 132 in an Order[11] dated March 25, 2010.

Before the RTC, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution.[12]

The RTC, in an Order[13] dated January 14, 2011, granted the motion. In ruling so, the RTC ruled that respondent's non-filing of a supersedeas bond will not prevent the issuance of a writ of execution. Otherwise, respondent would continue using the premises of the subject property without paying any rent, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, [petitioner's] Urgent Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution, etc., dated 22 December 2010 is hereby GRANTED. Let a writ of execution of the judgment appealed from with respect to the restoration of possession be issued, without prejudice to the instant appeal taking its course until the final disposition thereof on the merits.

SO ORDERED.[14]
In view of the issuance of a writ of execution, respondent filed a Petition for Certiorari[15] before the CA.

Respondent averred that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion or acted in excess of jurisdiction when it granted petitioner's motion for the issuance of a writ of execution for non-filing of a supersedeas bond to stay the execution on appeal despite the fact that there is no award of accrued rentals or rentals to accrue during the pendency of the appeal of the decision of the MeTC.[16]

The CA, in a Decision[17] dated September 5, 2013, granted the petition. The CA maintained that the perfection of an appeal is enough to stay the execution of the MeTC decision in cases when there is no award of rent for the reasonable use of the property, damages for the dispossession or costs against petitioner. The dispositive portion thereof states:
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The issuances of the [RTC], Branch 132, Makati City, specifically the Order dated January 14, 2011 and the Order dated March 2, 2011, the latter only in so far as the RTC denied [respondent's] Motion for reconsideration, in Civil Case No. 10-384 (MeTC Case No. 98266), are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.[18]
A motion for reconsideration[19] was filed but was denied in a Resolution[20] dated January 16, 2014.

Hence, this petition.

In sum, the issue is whether or not a respondent's non-filing of a supersedeas bond stays the execution pending appeal in the absence of any award of rent for the reasonable use of the subject property's premises.

Ruling of the Court
The petition is denied.

In ejectment cases, execution issues immediately if judgment is rendered in favor of defendant subject to the conditions found in Section 19 of Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Sec. 19. Immediate execution of judgment; how to stay same. - If judgment is rendered against the defendant, execution shall issue immediately upon motion unless an appeal has been perfected and the defendant to stay execution files a sufficient supersedeas bond, approved by the Municipal Trial Court and executed in favor of the plaintiff to pay the rents, damages, and costs accruing down to the time of the judgment appealed from, and unless, during the pendency of the appeal, he deposits with the appellate court the amount of rent due from time to time under the contract, if any, as determined by the judgment of the Municipal Trial Court. In the absence of a contract, he shall deposit with the Regional Trial Court the reasonable value of the use and occupation of the premises for the preceding month or period at the rate determined by the judgment of the lower court on or before the tenth day of each succeeding month or period. The supersedeas bond shall be transmitted by the Municipal Trial Court, with the papers, to the clerk of the Regional Trial Court to which the action is appealed.
"To stay the immediate execution of the said judgment while the appeal is pending the foregoing provision requires that the following requisites must concur: (1) the defendant perfects his appeal; (2) he files a supersedeas bond; and (3) he periodically deposits the rentals which become due during the pendency of the appeal."[21]

However, this rule is not without any exception. In the case of Aznar Brothers Realty Co. v. Court of Appeals,[22] this Court categorically stated that "[a]n exception is where the trial court did not make any findings with respect to any amount in arrears, damages or costs against the defendant, in which case no bond is necessary to stay the execution of the judgment."[23]

The case of Aznar further elaborates that "damages" does not include "attorney's fees" and "costs" as the "damages referred to therein are the reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the property which are generally measured by its fair rental value and cannot refer to other damages which are foreign to the enjoyment or material possession of the property."[24]

In this case, it must be noted that there was no award of rental payment for the reasonable use and occupation of the subject property. The only monetary award given by the MeTC is the award of attorney's fees and costs, which, following the aforementioned pronouncement of this Court, is not within the contemplation of the law under Section 19 of Rule 70.

Thus, respondent's filing of a supersedeas bond is not necessary to stay the execution of judgment as the perfection of her appeal is enough for the same.

We cannot give due credence to RTC's reasoning for the issuance of a writ of execution when it maintained that:
While it is true that the non-filing of a supersedeas bond was due to the fact that the decision of the court a quo did not fix the amount of the rent or the reasonable value of the use and occupation of the subject premises, [respondent] cannot validly rely on this circumstance to prevent the issuance of the writ of execution prayed for. On the contrary, the absence of such award all the more justifies the immediate restoration of possession to the [petitioner], otherwise [respondent] would continue enjoying the use of the premises without paying any rent therefor during the pendency of the appeal to the further prejudice of the [petitioner].[25]
Such ruling totally disregards the decision of this Court in Aznar. As it appears, the only reason for the granting of the same was the absence of any monetary award by the MeTC; however, such absence was treated as an exception to the general rule that "the filing of a supersedeas bond is mandatory and if not filed, the plaintiff is entitled as a matter of right to the immediate execution of judgment."[26]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the Decision dated September 5, 2013 and Resolution dated January 16, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 118699 are AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED. Leonardo-De Castro, J., designated as Acting Chairperson of the First Division per Special Order No. 2559 dated May 11, 2018; Gesmundo, J., designated as Acting Member of the First Division per Special Order No. 2560 dated May 11, 2018.

[1]Rollo, pp. 10-49.

[2]Penned by Associate Justice Victoria Isabel A. Paredes, concurred in by Associate Justices Japar B. Dimaampao and Elihu A. YbaƱez; id. at 59A-67.

[3]Id. at 90-91.

[4]Rendered by Judge Rommel O. Baybay; id. at 87-89.

[5]Id. at 60.

[6]Id.

[7]Id.

[8]Rendered by Presiding Judge Carlito B. Calpatura; id. at 98-103.

[9]Id. at 103.

[10]Id. at 129-130.

[11]Id. at 131.

[12]Id. at 104-107.

[13]Id. at 147-148.

[14]Id. at 148.

[15]Id. at 111-120.

[16]Id. at 115-117.

[17]Id. at 59A-67.

[18]Id. at 66.

[19]Id. at 68-72.

[20]Id. at 90-91.

[21]Acbang v. Judge Luczon, et al, 724 Phil. 256, 262 (2014) citing Spouses Chua v. CA, 350 Phil. 74, 83 (2008).

[22]384 Phil. 95 (2000).

[23]Id. at 107-108.

[24]Id. at 108.

[25]Rollo, pp. 65-66.

[26]Aznar Brothers Realty Co. v. Court of Appeals, supra at 107.

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