Winning party's right to writ of execution

It is a consistent practice that once a judgment has become final and executory, a writ of execution is issued as a matter of course, in the absence of any order restraining its issuance.[1] In addition, even a writ of demolition, if the case calls for it, is ancillary to the process of execution and is logically also issued as a consequence of the writ of execution earlier issued.[2]

Rule 39 of the Rules of Court is clear:
Section 1. Execution upon judgments or final orders. — Execution shall issue as a matter of right, or motion, upon a judgment or order that disposes of the action or proceeding upon the expiration of the period to appeal therefrom if no appeal has been duly perfected.

If the appeal has been duly perfected and finally resolved, the execution may forthwith be applied for in the court of origin, on motion of the judgment obligee, submitting therewith certified true copies of the judgment or judgments or final order or orders sought to be enforced and of the entry thereof, with notice to the adverse party.

The appellate court may, on motion in the same case, when the interest of justice so requires, direct the court of origin to issue the writ of execution.[3]

Stated differently, once a judgment becomes final, the prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to a writ of execution.[4] Its issuance is, in fact, the trial court's ministerial duty, the only limitation being that the writ must conform substantially to every essential particular of the judgment promulgated, more particularly, the orders or decrees in the dispositive portion of the decision.[5] Even the holding in abeyance of the issuance of a writ of execution of a final and executory judgment can be considered abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court.[6]

In sum, the High Court has explained the principle as follows:

It is not disputed that the judgment sought to be executed in the case at bar had already become final and executory. It is fundamental that the prevailing party in a litigation may, at any time within five (5) years after the entry thereof, have a writ of execution issued for its enforcement and the court not only has the power and authority to order its execution but it is its ministerial duty to do so. It has also been held that the court cannot refuse to issue a writ of execution upon a final and executory judgment, or quash it, or order its stay, for, as a general rule, the parties will not be allowed, after final judgment, to object to the execution by raising new issues of fact or of law, except when there had been a change in the situation of the parties which makes such execution inequitable or when it appears that the controversy has never been submitted to the judgment of the court; or when it appears that the writ of execution has been improvidently issued, or that it is defective in substance, or is issued against the wrong party, or that judgment debt has been paid or otherwise satisfied; or when the writ has been issued without authority. Defendant-appellant has not shown that she falls in any of the situations afore-mentioned. Ordinarily, an order of execution of a final judgment is not appealable. Otherwise, as was said by this Court in Molina v. De la Riva, a case could never end. Once a court renders a final judgment, all the issues between or among the parties before it are deemed resolved and its judicial function as regards any matter related to the controversy litigated comes to an end. The execution of its judgment is purely a ministerial phase of adjudication. The nature of its duty to see to it that the claim of the prevailing party is fully satisfied from the properties of the loser is generally ministerial.[7]

And equally settled is the rule that when a judgment is final and executory, it becomes immutable and unalterable.[8] It may no longer be modified in any respect, except to correct clerical errors or to make mine pro tune entries, or when it is a void judgment.[9] Outside of these exceptions, the court which rendered judgment only has the ministerial duty to issue a writ of execution.[10] A decision that has attained finality becomes the law of the case regardless of any claim that it is erroneous.[11] 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.[12] Thus, an order of execution which varies the tenor of the judgment or exceeds the terms thereof is a nullity.[13]

In Vargas v. Cajucom (G.R. No. 171095, June 22, 2015), the Supreme Court was confronted with the singular issue of whether grounds exist to quash the subject writ of execution. There was no dispute that the trial court's decision was already final and executory, as petitioners themselves did not appeal the same. In this case, neither was there any allegation that the judgment was a void one. But even if there was such an allegation, the issue is a settled one, as the Court itself, in the petition for annulment of judgment filed by petitioner's co-obligors, i.e., Puno et al., had upheld the judgment rather than declare the same void. Therefore, at that late stage, nothing more could be done to disturb the said final judgment.

[1] De Leon v. Public Estates Authority, 640 Phil. 594, 609 (2010).

[2] Id.; A writ of demolition is also considered sufficient to constitute a writ of execution, if the latter was not issued. Aznar Brothers Realty Company v. Court of Appeals, 384 Phil. 95, 108-109 (2000).

[3] Emphasis ours.

[4] Mindanao Terminal and Brokerage Service, Inc., v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 163286, August 22, 2012, 678 SCRA 622, 634-636.

[5] Spouses Golez v. Spouses Navarro, G.R. No. 192532, January 30, 2013, 689 SCRA 689, 701.

[6] Mindanao Terminal and Brokerage Service, Inc., v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 163286, August 22, 2012, 678 SCRA 622, 634-636.

[7] Anama v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 187021, January 25, 2012, 664 SCRA 293, 302-303, quoting Far Eastern Surety and Insurance Company, Inc. v. Virginia D. vela. De Hernandez, G.R. No. L-30359, October 3, 1975, 67 SCRA 256, 260-261. (Emphasis ours.)

[8] Abrigo v. Flores, G.R. No. 160786, June 17, 2013, 698 SCRA 559, 570-571.

[9] Ramos v. Ramos, 447 Phil. 114, 119 (2003).

[10] Anama v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 187021, January 25, 2012.

[11] Victorio v. Rosete, 603 Phil. 68, 78-79 (2007).

[12] Id.

[13] Id.