G.R. No. 211276, June 27, 2018

THIRD DIVISION [ G.R. No. 211276, June 27, 2018 ] SPOUSES JOLLY AND LOURDES TING V. BIBIANA LUMACAS-BRISSON AND SPOUSES GARY GEORGE AND TERRY LYN MAGNO.

This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision[2] dated August 2, 2013 and Resolution[3] dated February 7, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.SP No. 121439. The CA affirmed the Order[4] of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7 (RTC-Manila) dated June 13, 2011 and Order[5] dated August 1, 2011 in Civil Case No. 93-66911 which denied petitioners' Motion to Surrender and Cancel Title filed against respondents Bibiana Lumacas-Brisson (Brisson) and Spouses Gary George and Terry Lyn Magno (Spouses Magno).

The Antecedents

The instant petition traces its roots to a complaint for ejectment before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 20 (MTC) filed by petitioners against Spouses Magno, docketed as Civil Case No. 141486. On June 16, 1993, the MTC rendered a Decision, the dispositive portion of which states:
1. Ordering the defendants and all persons claiming rights or title under them, to forthwith vacate the first (1st), second (2nd), and fifth (5th) floors of the building and land occupied by them, situated at 564 Remedios corner J. [Bocobo] Streets, Malate, Manila, or otherwise, to restore plaintiffs to the possession thereof;

2. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs the amount of P50,000.00 a month with the legal rate of interest at 12% per annum as the fair and reasonable rental value for the use and occupation of the said property from July 1, 1992 up to the time defendants finally vacate the premises in question;

3. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs the further sum of P10,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees, plus cost of suit.[6]
Spouses Magno appealed the adverse decision to RTC-Manila. In its Decision[7] dated October 14, 1993, RTC-Manila held that petitioners were entitled to the possession of the property as the registered owners. Spouses Magno did not have any lease contract or possessory right and their occupancy was merely due to the tolerance of petitioners. Thus, there was an implied understanding that they would vacate the property once petitioners' consent was withdrawn. The RTC-Manila affirmed the ruling of the MTC and the dispositive portion of the MTC's decision, except for the payment of the costs of the suit.[8]The RTC-Manila decision became final and a Writ of Execution[9] dated October 27, 1993 was issued, stating:
WHEREAS, on June 16, 1993, the Metropolitan Trial Court, Manila, presided over by Judge Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr., Branch 20, rendered a decision in the above-entitled appealed case, the dispositive portion of which states as follows:
"x x x This being the case, the plaintiffs are clearly entitled to the relief prayed for in the Complaint and judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants:

1. Ordering the defendants and all persons claiming rights or title under them, to forthwith vacate the first (1st), second (2nd), and fifth (5th) floors of the building and land occupied by them, situated at 564 Remedios corner J. Bocobo Streets, Malate, Manila, or otherwise, to restore plaintiffs to the possession thereof;

2. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs the amount of P50,000.00 a month with the legal rate of interest at 12% per annum as the fair and reasonable rental value for the use and occupation of the said property from July 1, 1992 up to the time defendants finally vacate the premises in question;

3. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs the further sum of P10,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees, plus cost of suit.
WHEREAS, on October 14, 1993, this Court rendered a Decision in this appealed case, affirming in toto the lower court's decision (except payment of the costs of suit);

WHEREAS, on Motion of plaintiffs-appellees' counsel, Arty. Nemesio Aranzaso, Jr., this Court issued an Order dated October 25, 1993, granting said motion, that a writ of execution be issued to enforce the decision of the lower Court which has already been affirmed by this Court.

NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the said decisions and orders, you are hereby commanded to enforce and put into effect those mandated in the dispositive portions of the decision quoted above, in accordance with the Rules of Court, and make return of your proceedings with this Writ within sixty (60) days from receipt hereof.

SO ORDERED.[10]
By virtue of this writ, a notice of levy upon real property dated December 9, 1993 was issued by Sheriff IV Manuelito P. Viloria (Sheriff Viloria), where "all the rights, interests, shares, titles and participations" of Spouses Magno over the real property, specifically Original Certificates of Title Nos. P-1428 and P-1425, (subject properties), both located in La Trinidad, Benguet under the name of respondent Brisson. The notice of levy likewise contained a request to the Register of Deeds of La Trinidad, Benguet for the latter to enter the same into the registry book and make the necessary annotations on the TCTs of said levied subject properties. The notice of levy[11] reads in full, to wit:
TO: THE REGISTER OF DEEDS
LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET

SIR/MAD AM[:]

You are hereby notified that by virtue of the Writ of EXECUTION issued by the HON. ENRICO A. LANZANAS, Presiding Judge of Branch VII, RTC, Manila, in the above-entitled case copy of which is hereto attached and served upon you, all the rights, interests, shares, titles and participations of Defendants GARY GEORGE and TERRY LIM (sic) MAGNO over the real property more particularly described below under the name of "ERNANDEZ (sic) LUMACAS & QUINIA LUMACAS is hereby LEVIED upon to wit, including all the improvements existing thereon:
Original Certificat[e] of Title
P-1428

Beginning at a pt. marked "1" of Lot No. 2 Psu-177103, being
N. 45-32 E. 2471.72 m. from Triangulation Station "D", Baguio
Townsite; hence
S.24-50 E., 88.27 m. to pt. 2; N.68-59 W., 34.59 m to pt. 3
S.66-10 W., 32.59 m. to pt. 4; N.5-43 E., 49.69 m to pt. 5
N.19-55 W., 56.65 m. to pt. 6; S. 71-36 E. 42.33 m to pt. 7
S.40-29 W., 13.70 m. to pt. 8; N.78-35 W. 9.86 m to pt. 2

Containing an area of THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT (3578 sq. m.) SQUARE METERS.

All pts. referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the ground as follows: Points 2 & 7 by Old PLS Cyl. Cone. Mons.; pt. 6 by "x" on tree and the rest by P.S. Cyl. Cone. Mons.

Bounded on the E., along line 1-2 by Melchor Carimpal (Lot 2, Psu-177102); on the S., along lines 2-3-4 by Ebe Sinano; on the W., along lines 4-5-6 by Elisa Tacay; on the N., & NE., along lines 6-7-8 by Lot 1, Psu-177103; and on the E., along line 8-1 by Melchor Carimpal (Lot 2, Psu-177102).

Bearings True.

This lot was surveyed in accordance with law and existing regulations promulgated by Valentino Aquiapa[o], Private Geodetic Engineer, on March 15, 1959 and approved on January 18, 1961.

NOTE:

This lot is covered by F.P.A. No. (I-12)00310-A.
Original Certificate of Title
[P]-1425
Beginning at a pt. marked "1" of Lot No. 1, Psu-177103, being
N.45-43 E., 2477.53 m. from Triangulation Station "D", Baguio
Townsite; thence

N.40-29 W., 13.70 m. to pt. 2; N.71-36 W., 42.33 m. to pt. 3
N. 19-55 W., 42.17 m. to pt. 4; N.74-49 E., 59.39 m. to point 5
S. 55-15 E., 78.18 m. to pt. 6; S. 13-36 E., 49.91 m. to point 7;
N.78-36 W., 71.30 m. to pt. 1; point of beginning.

[Containing an area of SIX THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED SEVENTY SIX (6,976) SQUARE METERS.

All points referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the ground as follows: Point 2 by Old PLS Cyl. Cone. Mons.; pts. 1 & 7 by P.S. Cyl. Cone. Mons. and the rest by Cone. Posts.

Bounded on the SW., along lines 1-2-3 by Lot 2, Psu-177103 (Fernandez Lumacas); on the W., along line 3-4 by Molintas (Lot 2, Psu-100666 (portion); on the NW, NE., & E., along lines 4-5-6-7 by Baguio Ambuclao Road-30.00 m. wide; and on the S. along lines
7-1 by Melchor Carimpal (Lot 1, Psu-177102) versus Molintas (Lot 2, 100666-portion)

Bearings true:

This lot was surveyed in accordance with law and existing regulations promulgated thereunder, by Valentino Aquiapao, Private Geodetic Engineer, on March 15, 1959 and approved on January 18, 1961.

This LEVY (EMBARGO) on EXECUTION shall remain in full force and effect unless otherwise LIFTED (1) upon an order of the Court; (2) upon written requests of the plaintiff and (3) upon FULL PAYMENT of the OBLIGATION or FULL SATISFACTION of the JUDGMENT mentioned in the said Writ.

Please ENTER this NOTICE OF LEVY into your REGISTRY BOOK and make the necessary ANNOTATION of said LEVIED REAL PROPERTIES.[12]
The rights of respondent Gary George to the subject properties originate from a Decision on Compromise Agreement[13] dated April 17, 1991, on a complaint for annulment of deed of absolute sale with damages between Fernandez Lumacas and Quinia Lumacas (Lumacases) against respondent Gary George Magno, docketed as Civil Case No. 90-CV-0538, filed before the RTC of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 10. The pertinent provisions thereof, insofar as the instant case is concerned, state:
1. That the plaintiffs and the defendant have agreed to terminate the above-entitled case under the following terms and conditions:
a. That the two properties which is the subject of the Deed of Sale sought to be annulled, formerly covered by Tax Declaration No. 1423 and 1424 and now presently covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. P-1428 and P-1425, all in the name of Fernandez Lumacas married to Quenia (Kenia) Lumacas, which lots are both located at Beckel, La Trinidad, Benguet, shall be sold to any interested buyer/s and that proceeds shall be divided equally into two (2) between the plaintiffs and the defendant;

xxx.[14]
The records show that the request in the notice of levy to annotate the same in the TCTs was refused by the Register of Deeds of La Trinidad, Benguet (Register of Deeds). This caused petitioners to file with the RTC-Manila an urgent motion for the issuance of an order directing her to annotate the levy. The RTC-Manila found the Register of Deeds' opposition meritorious, thus, it denied petitioners' urgent motion.

Upon denial of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 39500. In its Decision, dated January 15, 1997, the CA granted the petition, and directed the Register of Deeds to annotate the Notice of Levy in execution on OCT Nos. P-1428 and P-1425. The discussion of the CA Decision[15] reads in part:

On the merits, We find for petitioners.
The pertinent portion of the compromise agreement approved in the decision of Branch 10 of RTC La Trinidad reads:

"xxxx

"1. That the parties and the defendant have agreed to terminate the above-entitled case under the following terms and conditions:

"a) That the two properties which is the subject of the Deed of Sale sought to be annulled, formerly covered by Tax Declaration No. 1423 and 1424 and now presently covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. P-1428 and P-1425, all in the name of Fernandez Lumacas married to Quenia (Kenia) Lumacas, which lots are both located at Beckel, La Trinidad, Benguet, shall be sold to any interested buyer/s and that the proceeds shall be divided equally into two (2) between the plaintiffs and the defendant."

Rule 39, Sec. 15 of the Rules of Court provides:

SEC. 15. Execution of money judgments. - The officer must enforce an execution of a money judgment by levying on all the property, real and personal of every name and nature whatsoever, and which may be disposed of for value, of. the judgment debtor not exempt from execution, or on a sufficient amount of such property, if there be sufficient, and selling the same, and paying to the judgment creditor, or his attorney, so much of the proceeds as will satisfy the judgment. Any excess in the proceeds over the judgment and accruing costs must be delivered to the judgment debtor, unless otherwise directed by the judgment or order of the court. When there is more property of the judgment debtor than is sufficient to satisfy the judgment and accruing costs, within the view of the officer, he must levy only on such part of the property as is amply sufficient to satisfy the judgment and costs.

Real property, stocks, shares, debts, credits, and other personal property, or any interest in either real or personal property, may be levied on in like manner and with like effect as under a writ of attachment."

The case of Reyes v. Grey, 21 [Phil.] 73, 76 (1911) provides the test of what property of a judgment debtor can be attached.
"[T]he real test, as to whether or not property can be attached and sold upon execution - is does the judgment debtor hold such a beneficial interest in such property that he can sell or otherwise dispose of it for value? If he does, the property is subject to execution and payment of his debts" (underscoring supplied).
Given the foregoing test, the beneficial right of Gary George Magno to the proceeds of the sale of the properties covered by the titles in the name of Lumacas being disposable by sale or anywise, it is subject to execution and payment of his debts. To uphold the Register of Deeds' following argument in her separate Comment, to wit:
"Moreover, a perusal of the compromise Agreement will readily show that it requires the performance of a reciprocal obligation by and between the plaintiff (Fernandez Lumacas) and defendant (Gary George Magno). So unless defendant Gary George Magno will show proof that he has complied with his obligation (paragraph "f' of the compromise agreement [which provides that "in addition to the above conditions, the defendant George P. Magno shall convey unto Fernandez Lumacas [et. al.] the parcel of land located at Takian, La Trinidad, Benguet..."), he cannot demand from plaintiff Fernandez Lumacas the performance of his (Lumacas') obligation under paragraph "a" of the compromise agreement. The records of Civil Case No. 90-CV-0538, RTC, Branch 10, First Judicial Region, La Trinidad, Benguet entitled [F]ERNANDEZ LUMACAS and QUINIA LUMACAS, Plaintiffs vs. GARY GEORGE P. MAGNO, Defendant, does not show that Gary George has complied with his obligation. In view of the foregoing, the compromise agreement which the petitioners rely heavily on is unenforceable against Fernandez Lumacas;"
would deprive petitioners-judgment creditors of the benefit of a lawful execution for Gary George Magno can either refuse to comply with his above-quoted obligation to Lumacas et al. or dispose of by conveyance his right to one-half of the proceeds of the sale of the properties titled in Lumacas' name (Vide Gotanco & Co. v. Register of Deeds of Tayabas, 59 Phil. 756 "[1934]).

The assailed orders were thus, as contended by petitioner, issued in grave abuse of discretion.

WHEREFORE, the assailed orders are set aside and public respondent Judge is hereby directed to grant petitioners" Motion to direct respondent Register of Deeds to annotate the Notice of Levy in execution upon TCT Nos. P-1428 and P-1425 in the name of Fernandez Lumacas.

SO ORDERED.[16] (underscoring supplied)
Following this ruling, the subject properties were sold at a public auction on February 21, 2000, with petitioner Jolly Ting emerging as the highest bidder. Sheriff Viloria issued a Certificate of Sale,[17] which was annotated on the OCTs of the subject properties. The properties were not redeemed within the redemption period, which led to the issuance of a Sheriffs Final Deed of Sale18 on October 18, 2007.

On November 29, 2007, petitioners filed an amended petition, docketed as Admin. Case No. 01-AD-1158, praying for the consolidation of ownership over one-half of the properties. Sitting as a land registration or cadastral court, the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 10 (RTC-La Trinidad), denied the petition. In its Order19 dated March 17, 2011, the court dismissed the petition and held that a decision in the case would intrude and interfere in the proceedings before the RTC-Manila. Citing Tagaytay-Taal Tourist Development Corporation v. CA,[20] RTC-La Trinidad highlighted the right to a petition for a new certificate not being absolute but subject to the determination of any objection that may be interposed relative to the validity of the proceedings leading to the transfer of the land, which should be threshed out in a separate appropriate action. Thus, the court sitting as a land registration or cadastral court cannot resolve major contentious matters that may be decided only by a court of general jurisdiction.

Proceeding before
RTC Manila

Consequently, petitioners, filed a motion to surrender and cancel title before RTC-Manila praying for the surrender of the owner's duplicate copies of the subject properties which were now covered by TCT Nos. T-39652[21] andT-39653.[22]

In its Order[23] dated June 13, 2011, the RTC-Manila denied the motion to surrender and cancel title for lack of substantial basis. The pertinent portions of the Order read:
It is clear that what was levied on the certificates of title were only "all the rights, interests, shares, titles and participations of Defendants GARY GEORGE and TERRY LIM [sic] MAGNO over the real properties]."
The levy made was ostensibly rooted from a Compromise Agreement entered into between Fernandez and Quenia Lumacas and Gary George P. Magno which was approved by Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet in its Decision dated June 17, 1991, in where it was agreed, as follows:
xxx xxx xxx xxx;

a) That the two properties which [are] the subject of the Deed of Sale sought to be annulled, formerly covered by Tax Declaration No. 1423 and 1424 and now presently covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. P-1428 and P-1425, all in the name of Fernandez Lumacas married to Quenia (Kenia) Lumacas, which lots are both located at Beckel, La Trinidad, Benguet, shall be sold to any interested buyer/s and that proceeds shall be divided equally into two (2) between the plaintiffs and the defendant; xxx [Emphasis supplied]
Hence, all the rights, interests, shares, titles and participations of Defendants GARY GEORGE and TERRY LIM [sic] MAGNO over the real properties have to be confined within the meaning of said Compromise Agreement. This only meant that it is in the "proceeds" of the "sale" of said real properties, not on the real properties themselves, that the inchoate rights, interests, shares, titles and participation of defendants-appellants Gary George Magno remain, nothing more.

There is thus no substantial basis why the new registered owner thereof should be ordered to surrender the certificates of title to effect the transfer of the same in the names of the plaintiffs.
xxxx

SO ORDERED.[24] (emphasis in the original)
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated August 1,2011.

Hence, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the CA.

CA Ruling

The CA, in its decision dated August 2, 2013, ruled that petitioners failed to show any grave abuse of discretion on the part of Judge Gomez-Estoesta of RTC-Manila. The decision on compromise agreement was the basis of the annotation of the levy on the subject properties. The CA declared that the right of respondent Gary George over the property only referred to the proceeds of the sale of the properties and not to the real properties themselves. The CA highlighted that the January 15, 1997 decision of the CA which aclcnowledged petitioners' beneficial right to the proceeds of the sale of the properties covered by the titles in the name of respondent Brisson. Given this, there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of RTC-Manila in denying the motion to surrender title. Further, mandamus cannot be granted as the granting of the motion filed with RTC-Manila was not a ministerial duty, but one which required the exercise of official discretion and judgment.

The fallo of the CA decision is as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed Orders dated June 13, 2011 and August 1, 2011 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 7 in Civil Case No. 93-66911 STAND.

SO ORDERED.[25]

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied in the assailed resolution dated February 7, 2014.

Because of these adverse rulings, petitioner filed the instant petition.

Issues

Petitioners present the following grounds for allowance of the instant petition:
1. The CA grossly and utterly violated the law on res judicata and principle of the law of the case when it made a ruling contrary to its earlier ruling in CA-G.R. SP No. 39500.

2. The ruling of the CA violated petitioners' rights as purchasers of the subject properties in execution sale.[26]
Petitioners maintain that: the CA should have considered the "wisdom and essence" of the ruling in CA decision dated January 15, 1997; respondent Gary George's right over the subject properties did not only pertain to the proceeds of the sale; if the assailed decision and resolution were to be followed, they would be at the mercy of the respondents who may or may not sell the subject properties; an absurd situation would arise should respondents decide not to sell the subject properties, making the execution and sale in public auction inutile and useless; the CA went against its final ruling in the January 15, 1997 CA decision because it acquired the status of res judicata, and re-litigated the same issue resolved by the appellate court; petitioners are now the rightful owners of half of the subject properties; no question was raised as to the levy on execution or sale of the property nor was the right of redemption exercised; the petitioners have the right to be substituted to the rights, title, interest and claim over the one-half portion of the subject properties, and the consolidation of the ownership of one-half of the properties.

Only respondent Brisson filed a comment. In her Comment[27] dated August 1, 2014, respondent Brisson asserts that: the assailed CA decision did not contradict the January 15, 1997 CA decision and in fact merely restated it; the subject of the execution and the payment of Spouses Magno's debts was the beneficial right of respondent Gary George from the proceeds of the sale of the properties; petitioners and Sheriff Viloria changed the tenor of the writ of execution to cover the sale of the properties themselves; Sheriff Viloria's acts suffered from a substantial infirmity, and should be held unlawful, void and contemptuous because it varied the decision and the writ of execution; the issue in the case for ejectment was the possession of a property located at 546 Remedios corner J. Bocobo Streets, Malate, Manila in which respondent Brisson was not involved; and petitioners were guilty of forum shopping especially when it filed a petition seeking the issuance of new owners copy of the certificate of title.

Despite repeated notices sent to respondents Spouses Magno's last known address, no comment was filed on their behalf. On November 25, 2015, the Court issued a Resolution[28] which considered as deemed as waived their right to file comment on the petition.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is denied for multiple reasons.

To begin, the Court takes action on the lack of jurisdiction of RTC Manila Br. 7 to issue the writ of execution which is patent from the records before the Court, though it was not squarely raised in issue by any of the herein parties.[29] To ignore this fact is tantamount to inadvertently granting jurisdiction to a court, in this case RTC-Manila, to issue a writ of execution where the same was not the court which tried the case and without any exceptional circumstance allowing for such action.

The writ of execution was issued by the RTC-Manila, which is not the trial court that rendered the decision subject of execution. The hornbook rule is that in an ejectment case, the appellate court which affirms a decision brought before it on appeal cannot decree its execution in the guise of an execution of the affirming decision. The only exception to that is when said appellate court grants; an execution pending appeal.[30] The judgment of the MTC, appealed to the RTC, which was elevated to the CA and whose decision became final, should be remanded to the MTC for execution.[31] As illustrated by the Court in Sy v. Judge Romero:[32]
However, although the decision in the ejectment case binds the petitioner, the execution thereof, or the issuance of a demolition order, falls within the jurisdiction of the City Court, now Metropolitan Trial Court, of Kalookan City which rendered the decision in Civil Case No. 13199. In an ejectment case, the appellate court which affirms a decision brought before it on appeal cannot decree its execution in the guise of an execution of the affirming decision. The only exception to that is when said appellate court grants an execution pending appeal.

xxxx

What Branch 120 of the Regional Trial Court of Kalookan should have done was to make an entry of judgment in Civil Case No. C-10086 after the decision of 29 October 1982 became final; such procedure is outlined in Section 2, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court. Thereafter, the RTC should have remanded the case, together with the records of Civil Case No. 13199 which were forwarded to it as a consequence of the appeal interposed therefrom, to the court of origin - the City Court (now Metropolitan Trial Court) of Kalookan City. The motion for execution should then be filed with the latter court.

Accordingly, respondent Judge should not have acted on the motion for the execution of the 29 October 1982 decision in Civil Case No. C-10086 or granted the motion for the issuance of an order of demolition. Accordingly, that portion of his Order of 27 February 1987 granting the said motion is void.[33] (citations omitted, underscoring supplied)
In the case of Sy v. Romero, the portion on the grant of motion for order of demolition was set aside, without prejudice to its refiling in the Metropolitan Trial Court, unless barred by Rule 39 of the 1964 Rules of Court.[34]

The seizure of property under a void writ of execution amounts to deprivation of property without due process of law and thus the Court may direct that whatever action taken under such a void writ be undone.[35] When a writ of execution is null and void, all the proceedings stemming therefrom are also null and void, including notices of garnishment issued pursuant thereto.[36]

The writ of execution should have originated from the MTC, as what was ordered in the case of Sy v. Romero. Moreover, the exception does not apply here as respondents Spouses Magno did not interpose an appeal to the CA, which could have enrobed the RTC of the jurisdiction to issue the writ of execution. On this score alone, the instant petition should, therefore, be denied as the same is hinged upon rights claimed by petitioners originating from a void writ of execution. All proceedings from the RTC-Manila, including the notice of levy, public auction, and eventual sale of half of the subject properties, and even including the January 15, 1997 CA decision, have no leg to stand on as these are all effects of a void writ of execution.

Even considering the issues presented by petitioners, the petition should still be denied for lack of merit. These issues will be briefly discussed in seriatim.

Inapplicability of the concept of res judicata.

Res judicata lays down two (2) main rules:
1.
The judgment or decree of a court of competent jurisdiction on the merits concludes the litigation between the parties and their privies and constitutes a bar to a new action or suit involving the same cause of action either before the same or any other tribunal; and
2.
Any right, fact, or matter in issue directly adjudicated or necessarily involved in the determination of an action before a competent court in which a judgment or decree is rendered on the merits is conclusively settled by the judgment therein and cannot again be litigated between the parties and their privies whether or not the claims or demands, purposes, or subject matters of the two suits are the same.[37]
The first rule refers to "bar by former judgment" while the second rule is referred to as "conclusiveness of judgment." From the petition, it appears that petition claims the second concept of res judicata as applicable here.

Conclusiveness of judgment, otherwise known as the rule of auter action pendent,[38] is where there is identity of parties in the first and second cases, but no identity of causes of action. The first judgment is conclusive only as to those matters actually and directly controverted and determined and not as to matters merely involved therein.[39] Stated otherwise, when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction or an opportunity for such trial has been given, the judgment of the court, as long as it remains unreversed, should be conclusive between the parties and those in privity with them.[40]

Conclusiveness of judgment operates as estoppel with respect to matters in issue or points controverted, on the determination of which the finding or judgment was anchored.[41] For conclusiveness of judgment to apply, the following elements have to be present:
(1) the judgment sought to bar the new action must be final;

(2) the decision must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties;

(3) the disposition of the case must be a judgment on the merits; and

(4) there must be as between the first and second action, identity of parties, but not identity of causes of action.[42]
Petitioners advance the argument that res judicata makes conclusive the finding of the January 15, 1997 CA decision in that petitioners may go against the beneficial right of respondent Gary George over the one-half portion of the subject properties. Petitioners further insist on the conclusiveness of the CA ruling that petitioners need not await the sale of the subject properties and from the proceeds of which shall be given to petitioner as payment of the judgment award in the ejectment case.

The Court is not persuaded. An important element of res judicata by conclusiveness of judgment - identity of parties - is absent here.

The concept of res judicata by conclusiveness of judgment does not require absolute but only substantial identity of parties. There is substantial identity only when the "additional" party acts in the same capacity or is in privity with the parties in the former action. For example, co-owners are not parties inter se in relation to the property owned in common, or a subsequent action by a co-heir, who did not join the earlier dismissed action for recovery of property, should not be barred by prior judgment.

In the case of Carandang v. Venturanza,[44] citing the case of Valdez v. Mendoza,[45] the Court noted that the rule as to identity of parties has already been laid down, as follows:
In the United States where our theories on res judicata have originated, a judgment in favor of two or more defendants is conclusive on plaintiff as against them. "The estoppel however is raised only between those who were adverse parties in the former suit, and the judgment therein ordinarily settles nothing as to the relative rights or liabilities of the co-plaintiffs or co-defendants inter sese, unless their hostile or conflicting claims were actually brought in issue.' ... 'by cross-petition or separate and adverse answers' (50 C.J.S. pp. 372, 373 citing many cases) (See also 30 Am. Jur. 233).[46] (underscoring supplied)
In the case at bar, there is no question that privity between Spouses Magno and Brisson is lacking. Brisson is not merely an additional party, the inclusion of whom would still enable the application of conclusiveness of judgment on her. She is a third party whose rights were not properly ventilated in the original action for ejectment or in the 1997 petition for certiorari before the CA, hence the application of the rule on res judicata should not be enforced.

Petitioners' motion to compel surrender of title was the first time Brisson was involved in this case. The Court notes that Brisson was not a party to the proceedings for the annotation of levy despite the fact that the title to the subject properties were in her name. Thus, even though conclusiveness of judgment may have bound Spouses Magno, the same cannot bind Brisson. Insofar as she is concerned, the January 15, 1997 CA decision cannot operate against her with respect to matters in issue or points controverted including the ruling that petitioners are entitled to the annotation of the levy on the TCTs of the subject properties. Her right over the subject properties is thus dissimilar to that of Spouses Magno, Gary, as the latter's right pertains only to half of the proceeds, which would only come to fruition upon the sale of the subject properties, whereas respondent Brisson's right pertains to actual ownership of the subject properties by title. There is no substantial identity of parties as there is no community of interest between the parties in the first case and the party in the second case albeit the latter was not impleaded in the first case.[47]

Even the principle of the "law of the case" is inapplicable. The said principle is the practice of courts in refusing to reopen what has been decided. It means that whatever is once irrevocably established as the controlling legal rule or decision between the same parties in the same case continues to be the law of the case, whether correct on general principles or not, so long as the facts on which such decision was predicated continue to be the facts of the case before the court.[48] Again, it is not the same parties that are involved here and the facts as to Brisson are not the same as those that are applicable to Spouses Magno.

Based on the foregoing discussion, the CA is correct in upholding the RTC-Manila's ruling denying the motion to surrender the title to the subject properties.

No violation of petitioners' rights as
purchasers of the subject properties


As already pointed out, the writ of execution issued in favor of petitioners is void. Consequently, the eventual sale of the subject properties should also be held null and void. Be that as it may, there is another reason to declare the sale as null and void, hence, no violation of petitioners' rights as purchasers.

The right of Spouses Magno comes from the decision on the compromise agreement dated April 19, 1991. As repeatedly alluded to in this, resolution, the said document explicitly gives to respondent Gary George half of the proceeds of the sale of the subject properties. The practical effect of the compromise agreement between the Luma cases and respondent Gary George was the latter's entitlement to the proceeds of the sale only.

A judgment embodying a compromise agreement is entered into by the parties in which they make reciprocal concessions to terminate a litigation already instituted. If not contrary to law or public policy or public order, it has all the force and effect of any other judgment, conclusive upon the parties and their privies, and is immediately executory.[49]

However, a hurdle for the petitioners in executing the decision on compromise agreement was the lack of writ of execution enforcing the same.

A decision on compromise agreement becomes a judgment that is subject to execution in accordance with the Rules.[50]

Even assuming that there was a writ implementing the decision on the compromise agreement, the writ of execution must conform to the judgment to be executed and adhere strictly to the very essential particulars. An order of execution which varies the tenor of the judgment or exceeds the terms thereof is a nullity. Indeed, where the execution is not in harmony with the judgment which gives it life, and in fact exceeds it, the execution has pro tanto no validity. To maintain otherwise would be to ignore the constitutional provision against depriving a person of his property without due process of law.[51] Indeed, when a judgment has become final and executory, it becomes immutable and unalterable. Any amendment or alteration which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that purpose.

In the instant case, petitioners are only stepping into the shoes of respondent Gary George, who then is theoretically executing the decision on compromise agreement. For reference, the whole decision upon compromise agreement states:
COME NOW the parties with their respective counsels, unto this Honorable Court, respectfully submit the herein Compromise Agreement for the approval of the Honorable Court and further states:

1. That the plaintiffs and the defendant have agreed to terminate the above-entitled case under the following terms and conditions:

a. That the two properties which is the subject of the Deed of Sale sought to be annulled, formerly covered by Tax Declaration No. 1423 and 1424 and now presently covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. P-1428 and P-1425, all in the name of Fernandez Lumacas married to Quenia (Kenia) Lumacas, which lots are both located at Beckel, La Trinidad, Benguet, shall be sold to any interested buyer/s and that proceeds shall be divided equally into two (2) between the plaintiffs and the defendant;

b. That all expenses for such conveyancing shall likewise be equally divided into two (2);

c. That charges and counter charges filed by the plaintiffs against the defendant and vice versa shall be withdrawn by them from the Fiscal's Office of Benguet;

d. That payment of the tax on capital gains, documentary stamps, notarial fee and other expenses necessary for the conveyance of the two properties to any buyer shall be equally divided into two between the parties;

e. That on half (1/2) of the 50% share of the plaintiffs from the proceeds of the sale of the two lands shall be deposited by Fernandez Lumacas to any bank in trust for Biana O' hanen, Ferdinand Magno and Gary Magno;

f. That in addition to the above conditions, the defendant, Gary George P. Magno, shall convey unto Fernandez Lumacas, Kenia Lumacas, Biana O'hanen, Ferdinand Magno and Gary Magno the parcel of land located at Takian, La Trinidad, Benguet, now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-6720, which land was earlier bought by the defendant from NENA OMAGING by virtue of a document captioned "Deed of Absolute Sale of Registered Land" dated November 15, 1989 and entered in the notarial register of Marciano T. Inso as Doc. No. 425; Page No. 85; Book No. XI; Series of 1989.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully prayed of the Honorable Court to approve the herein Compromise Agreement and to decide the above-entitled case based on the provisions of the said compromise agreement.

xxxx.[53]
It is glaring from the entirety of the decision on compromise agreement that there were other concomitant obligations with the sale of the subject properties. Notably, respondent Gary George was also enjoined to convey a different parcel of land at the same time as he is entitled to the proceeds of the sale. But the bottomline remains: there should be a sale as it was never within the parties' contemplation in the compromise agreement that the subject properties be retained in the ownership of the Lumacases, or of respondent Gary George for that matter. And after the sale, the proceeds should be divided into two, with one half going to the Lumacases and the other half of the proceeds to respondent Gary George, upon which petitioners may lay claim. To be sure, the parties did not contemplate a status of co-ownership of the subject properties. Nowhere in the document is it shown that respondent Gary George had the status of being owner of the subject property. He was only entitled to the liquidated amount of the subject property, but not the full ownership of a part thereof. Co-ownership, a form or manifestation of ownership,[54] is whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons.[55] The state of co-ownership has been deemed impractical,"[56] "disagreeable," or "an inconvenient association into which [an owner] has been thrust."[57]

It is beyond doubt that the sheriffs levy upon the subject properties cannot be considered a proper execution of the decision on the ejectment case nor of the decision on compromise agreement, especially given the tenor of the sheriffs final deed of sale. It is simply not in accordance with the compromise agreement, from which petitioners derive their rights which specifically called for the sale not the continued possession and ownership of the Lumacases of the subject properties. Respondent Gary George cannot even claim ownership over half of the subject properties. The application of the writ was not within what was envisaged by the parties in the decision on compromise agreement. The actions of the sheriff executing not one but two decisions are patently out of line and, therefore, should yield no valid effects.

Parenthetically, an even more absurd situation arises with petitioners' intended outcome. The titled owner of the land, a third party to the case, is unceremoniously and effectively deprived of her rights as the true and titled owner to the subject properties. Her predecessors-in-interest never contemplated a change in ownership in favor of respondent Gary George. The latter, on the other hand, willingly entered into the arrangement knowing fully well that he did not possess the full breadth of ownership rights. Only rights that are possessed and owned are proper for execution. The power of the Court in execution of judgments extends only to properties unquestionably belonging to the judgement debtor alone. One man's goods shall not be sold for another man's debts.[58] The rule is that execution may only be effected against the property of the judgment debtor, who must necessarily be a party to the case, and a sheriff who levies upon property other than that of the judgment debtor as beyond the limits of his authority.[59] Here, respondent Gary George did not even have the right that was transmitted to herein petitioners. Clearly, petitioners then could not possess the right they now claim.

From the foregoing disquisition, RTC-Manila not having jurisdiction in ordering for the execution of the MTC decision on the ejectment case, in accordance with the ruling in Sy v. Romero, the result is that the writ of execution should not have any force and effect and anything that emanated from it should be nullified. And even assuming that the said writ of execution was valid, execution of the compromise agreement supposedly following the writ of execution issued by RTC-Manila is likewise improper and should produce no legal effect. Hence, the notice of levy, the annotation of the same made on the TCTs of the subject properties, and the public auction, being proceedings rooted on an invalid writ of execution and implementation of writ of execution, should be nullified.

On the matter of the petition itself, there being no commonality in the rights of respondents Spouses Magno and Brisson over the subject properties claimed by petitioners, RTC-Manila did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioners' motion to surrender and cancel title in denying the motion to surrender title. The CA likewise did not commit any reversible error in finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of RTC-Manila.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The August 2, 2013 Decision and February 7, 2014 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR SP No. 121439 are hereby AFFIRMED in toto. The writ of execution dated October 27, 1993 is hereby set aside and all its effects, including the annotation of levy, certificate of sale dated March 1, 2000, and Sheriffs Final Deed of Sale dated October 18, 2007, are nullified.

SO ORDERED.

[1]Rollo, pp. 44-45; referred to as Terry Lim Magno in the Notice of Levy Upon Real Property Pursuant to A Writ of Execution.

[2]Id. at 107-112; penned by Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr., with Associate Justices Mario V. Lopez and Socorro B. Inting, concurring.

[3]Id. at 129.

[4]Id. at 74-77; penned by Judge Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta.

[5]Id. at 78.

[6]Id. at 36; penned by Judge Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr. Dispositive portion was quoted in the RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 93-66911.

[7]Id. at 36-41; penned by Judge Enrico A. Lanzanas.

[8]Id. at 41.

[9]Id. at 42-43.

[10]Id.

[11]Id. at 44-45.

[12]Id.

[13]Id. at 46-47; approved by Judge Romeo A. Brawner.

[14]Id. at 46.

[15]Id. at 48-55; penned by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, with Associate Justices Fermin A. Martin, Jr. and Omar U. Amin, concurring.

[16]Id. at52-55.

[17]Id. at 62.

[18]Id. at 64.

[19]Id. at 66-73; penned by Presiding Judge Edgardo B. Diaz De Rivera, Jr.

[20]339 Phil. 377(1997).

[21]Rollo, pp. 56-58.

[22]Id. at 59-61.

[23]Supra note 4.

[24]Id. at 76.

[25]Id. at 111-112.

[26]Id. at 19-20.

[27]Id. at 146-161.

[28]Id. at 186.

[29]See Delos Santos v. Spouses Sarmiento, 548 Phil. 1, 10 (2007).

[30]Sy v. Judge Romero, 288 Phil. 970 979 (1992), see also Salientes v. Intermediate Appellate Court, et al., 316 Phil. 197,209(1995).

[31]See City of Manila v. Court of Appeals, et al., 281 Phil. 408, 416 (1991).

[32]Supra note 30.

[33]Id. at 979-980.

[34]Sy v. Romero was decided under the 1964 Rules of Court. The instant case was likewise under the 1964 Rules of Court, the writ of execution having been issued in 1993.

[35]David v. Judge Velasco, et al, 418 Phil. 643, 654 (2001).

[36]Development Bank of the Philippines v. Union Bank of the Philippines, 464 Phil. 161, 172 (2004).

[37]Spouses Noceda, et al. v. Arbizo-Directo, 639 Phil. 483, 491 (2010).

[38]See Ley Construction & Development Corp., et al. v. Philippine Commercial and International Bank, et al.,635 Phil. 503(2010).

[39]Oropeza Marketing Corporation, etc. v. Allied Banking Corporation, 441 Phil. 551, 564 (2002).

[40]Cruz, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al, 517 Phil. 572, 586 (2006); citing Stilianopulos v. The City of Legaspi, 374 Phil. 879,897(1999).

[41]Spouses Camara v. Court of Appeals, et al., 369 Phil. 858 868(1999).

[42]Spouses Rosario v. Alvar, G.R. No. 212731, September 6,2017.

[43]Nery, et al. v. Leyson, et al., 393 Phil. 644, 655-656 (2000).

[44]218 Phil. 314, 320 (1984).

[45]89 Phil. 83(1951).

[46]Id. at 86.

[47]See Sempio v. Court of Appeals, et al, 348 Phil. 627, 636 (1998).

[48]Sps. Aguilar v. The Manila Banking Corporation, 533 Phil. 645, 662 (2006).

[49]See United Housing Corporation v. Hon. Dayrit and Spouses Tapia, 260 Phil. 301, 310 (1990).

[50]Sps.Martir v. Sps. Verano, 529 Phil. 120, 125-126 (2006).

[51]Equatorial Realty Development, Inc. v. Mayfair Theater, Inc., 387 Phil. 885, 895 (2000).

[52]Id.

[53]Rollo, pp. 46-47.

[54]Tolentino, Arturo, COMMENTARIES AND JURISPRUDENCE ON THE CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, 1999 Reprinting, Vol. II, p. 161.

[55]CIVIL CODE, Art. 484.

[56]See Spouses Nuguid v. Court of Appeals, et al, 492 Phil. 343, 352 (2005).

[57]See Galvez, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al, 520 Phil. 217, 230 (2006), citing Fernandez v. Spouses Tarun, 440 Phil. 334, 344 (2002).

[58]Francisco, et al. v. Spouses Gonzales, 587 Phil. 417 (2008).

[59]Herrera, Oscar M., REMEDIAL LAW, VOL II, 2007 ed., p. 391.

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