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6. DIONA, REPRESENTED BY HER ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, MARCELINA DIONA v. BALANGUE, ET AL. [G.R. No. 173559, !"#!

$% &7, '&13( DEL CASTILLO, J.) The grant of a relief neither sought by the party in whose favor it was given nor supported by the evidence presented violates the opposing party's right to due process and may be declared void ab initio in a proper proceeding. FACTS) This Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the Resolution of (CA) issued which granted the Petition for Annulment of udgment filed by the respondents see!ing to nullify that portion of the "ecision of the (RTC)# $alen%uela City awarding petitioner &' monthly interest rate for the principal amount of the loan respondents obtained from her. (n )arch *# +,,+# respondents obtained a loan of P-&. from petitioner payable in / months and secured by a Real 0state )ortgage over their *1*2s3m property located in $alen%uela and covered by TCT.45hen the debt became due# respondents failed to pay notwithstanding demand. Thus# petitioner filed with the RTC a Complaint on 6eptember +7# +,,,. Respondents were served with summons thru respondent 6onny A. 8alangue. (n (ctober +&# +,,,# with the assistance of (Atty. Coro%a) of the PA(# they filed a )otion to 09tend Period to Answer but respondents failed to file any. RTC declared them in default and allowed petitioner to present her evidence e9 parte. RTC granted petitioner's Complaint. Petitioner filed a )otion for 09ecution alleging that respondents did not interpose a timely appeal. 8efore it could be resolved# however# respondents filed a )otion to 6et Aside udgment dated anuary */# *11+# claiming that not all of them were duly served with summons. They had no !nowledge of the case because their co2respondent 6onny did not inform them. 8ut on )arch +/# *11+# the RTC ordered the issuance of a 5rit of 09ecution to implement its (ctober +7# *111 "ecision. :owever# since the writ could not be satisfied# petitioner moved for the public auction of the mortgaged property# which the RTC granted. ;n an auction sale conducted on <ovember 7# *11+# petitioner was the only bidder in the amount of P-*1!. Thus# a Certificate of 6ale was issued and accordingly annotated. Respondents then filed a )otion to Correct=Amend udgment and To 6et Aside 09ecution 6ale# claiming that the parties did not agree in writing on any rate of interest and that petitioner merely sought for a +*' per annum interest in her Complaint. RTC awarded &' monthly interest (or /1' per annum). Their indebtedness inclusive of the e9orbitant interest ballooned to P/&*#111.11. RTC granted respondents' motion and accordingly modified the interest rate awarded to +*' per annum. Then respondents filed a )otion for >eave To "eposit=Consign udgment (bligation in the total amount of P+*/#/&1.11. "ispleased with the RTC's )ay 7# *11* (rder# petitioner elevated the matter to the CA via a Petition for Certiorari under Rule /& of the Rules of Court. CA rendered a "ecision declaring that the RTC e9ceeded its ?urisdiction in awarding the &' monthly interest but at the same time pronouncing that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in subse3uently reducing the rate of interest to +*' per annum. ;n so ruling# the CA ratiocinated@ ;ndeed# 5e are convinced that the Trial Court e9ceeded its ?urisdiction when it granted &' monthly interest instead of the +*' per annum prayed for in the complaint. :owever# the proper remedy is not to amend the ?udgment but to declare that portion as a nullity. ISSUES) ;. T:0 :(<(RA8>0 C(ART (B APP0A>6 C());TT0" CRA$0 A<" 60R;(A6 0RR(R (B >A5 5:0< ;T CRA<T0" R06P(<"0<T6' P0T;T;(< B(R A<<A>)0<T (B A"C)0<T A6 A 6A86T;TAT0 (R A>T0R<AT;$0 R0)0"D (B A >(6T APP0A>. T:0 :(<(RA8>0 C(ART (B APP0A>6 C());TT0" CRA$0 A<" 60R;(A6 0RR(R A<" );6APPR0:0<6;(< (B >A5 A<" T:0 BACT6 5:0< ;T CRA<T0" R06P(<"0<T6' P0T;T;(< B(R A<<A>)0<T (B A"C)0<T (B T:0 "0C;6;(< (B T:0 RTC# "06P;T0 T:0 BACT T:AT 6A;" "0C;6;(< :A6 80C()0 B;<A> A<" A>R0A"D 0E0CAT0" C(<TRARD T( T:0 "(CTR;<0 (B ;))ATA8;>;TD (B A"C)0<T.F1G4rHIl+

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HELD) The petition must fail. *+ !,$++ -./0 $+12o"3+"/1 /0!/ /0+ !-!$3 o4 55 6o"/07% ."/+$+1/ 8.o7!/+3 /0+.$ $.,0/ /o 3#+ 2$o9+11 !"3, 0+"9+, /0+ 1!6+ 6!% :+ 1+/ !1.3+ ." ! P+/./.o" 4o$ A""#76+"/ o4 #3,6+"/ 4.7+3 #"3+$ R#7+ ;7 o4 /0+ R#7+1 o4 Co#$/. Annulment of judgment under Rule 47; an exception to the final judgment rule; grounds therefor. A Petition for Annulment of udgment under Rule -7 of the Rules of Court is a remedy granted only under e9ceptional circumstances where a party# without fault on his part# has failed to avail of the ordinary remedies of new trial# appeal# petition for relief or other appropriate remedies. 6aid rule e9plicitly provides that it is not available as a substitute for a remedy which was lost due to the party's own neglect in promptly availing of the same. JThe underlying reason is traceable to the notion that annulling final ?udgments goes against the grain of finality of ?udgment. >itigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere# and it is essential to an effective administration of ?ustice that once a ?udgment has become final# the issue or cause involved therein should be laid to rest. 5hile under 6ection *# Rule -7 of the Rules of Court a Petition for Annulment of udgment may be based only on the grounds of e9trinsic fraud and lac! of ?urisdiction# ?urisprudence recogni%es lac! of due process as additional ground to annul a ?udgment. ;n Arcelona v. Court of Appeals# this Court declared that a final and e9ecutory ?udgment may still be set aside if# upon mere inspection thereof# its patent nullity can be shown for having been issued without ?urisdiction or for lack of due process of law.

Grant of 5% monthly interest is ay !eyond the "#% per annum interest sought in the $omplaint and smac%s of &iolation of due process. I/ .1 1+//7+3 /0!/ 9o#$/1 9!""o/ ,$!"/ ! $+7.+4 "o/ 2$!%+3 4o$ ." /0+ 27+!3.",1 o$ ." +<9+11 o4 -0!/ .1 :+.", 1o#,0/ :% /0+ 2!$/%. T0+% 9!""o/ !71o ,$!"/ ! $+7.+4 -./0o#/ 4.$1/ !19+$/!.".", /0+ +8.3+"9+ 2$+1+"/+3 ." 1#22o$/ /0+$+o4. "ue process considerations re3uire that ?udgments must conform to and be supported by the pleadings and evidence presented in court. ;n Development Bank of the Philippines v. Teston# this Court e9pounded that@ "ue process considerations ?ustify this re3uirement. ;t is improper to enter an order which e9ceeds the scope of relief sought by the pleadings# absent notice which affords the opposing party an opportunity to be heard with respect to the proposed relief. The fundamental purpose of the re3uirement that allegations of a complaint must provide the measure of recovery is to prevent surprise to the defendant.

<otably# the Rules is even more strict in safeguarding the right to due process of a defendant who was declared in default than of a defendant who participated in trial. Bor instance# amendment to conform to the evidence presented during trial is allowed the parties under the Rules. 8ut the same is not feasible when the defendant is declared in default because 6ection F(d)# Rule , of the Rules of Court comes into play and limits the relief that may be granted by the courts to what has been prayed for in the Complaint. ;t provides@ (d) Extent of relief to be awarded. 2 A ?udgment rendered against a party in default shall not e9ceed the amount or be different in !ind from that prayed for nor award unli3uidated damages. The raison d' Etre in limiting the e9tent of relief that may be granted is that it cannot be presumed that the defendant would not file an Answer and allow himself to be declared in default had he !nown that the plaintiff will be accorded a relief greater than or different in !ind from that sought in the Complaint. No 3o#:/, /0+ $+!1o" :+0."3 S+9/.o" 3=3>, R#7+ 9 o4 /0+ R#7+1 o4 Co#$/ .1 /o 1!4+,#!$3 3+4+"3!"/?1 $.,0/ /o 3#+ 2$o9+11 !,!."1/ #"4o$+1++" !"3 !$:./$!$.7% .11#+3 @#3,6+"/. This# to the mind of this Court# is a!in to the very essence of due process. ;t embodies Jthe sporting idea of fair play and forbids the grant of relief on matters where the defendant was not given the opportunity to be heard thereon. ;n the case at bench# the award of &' monthly interest rate is not supported both by the allegations in the pleadings and the evidence on record. The Real 0state )ortgage e9ecuted by the parties does not include any provision on interest. 5hen petitioner filed her Complaint before the RTC# she alleged that respondents borrowed from her Jthe sum of P-&# 111.11# with interest thereon at the rate of +*' per annum4 and sought payment thereof. 6he did not allege or pray for the disputed &' monthly interest. <either did she present evidence nor testified thereon. C7+!$7%, /0+ RTC?1 !-!$3 o4 55 6o"/07% ."/+$+1/ o$ 6&5 per annum 7!9A1 :!1.1 !"3 3.1$+,!$31 3#+ 2$o9+11. I/ 8.o7!/+3 /0+ 3#+ 2$o9+11 $+B#.$+6+"/ :+9!#1+ $+12o"3+"/1 -+$+ "o/ ."4o$6+3 o4 /0+ 2o11.:.7./% /0!/ /0+ RTC 6!% !-!$3 55 6o"/07% ."/+$+1/. They were deprived of reasonable opportunity to refute and present controverting evidence as they were made to believe that the complainant KpetitionerL was see!ing for what she merely stated in her Complaint. <either can the grant of the &' monthly interest be considered subsumed by petitioner's general prayer for JKoLther reliefs and remedies ?ust and e3uitable under the premises 9 9 9. To repeat# the court's grant of relief is limited only to what has been prayed for in the Complaint or related thereto# supported by evidence# and covered by the party's cause of action. 8esides# even assuming that the awarded &' monthly or /1' per annum interest was properly alleged and proven during trial# the same remains unconscionably e9cessive and ought to be e3uitably reduced in accordance with applicable ?urisprudence. ;n Bulos !r. v. "asuma # this Court held@ ;n the case of #ui$ v. Court of Appeals # citing the cases of %edel v. Court of Appeals &arcia v. Court of Appeals 'pouses Bautista v. Pilar Development Corporation and the recent case of 'pouses 'olan(on v. 'ala$ar# this Court considered the F' interest per month or F/' interest per annum as e9cessive and unconscionable. Thereby# the Court# in the said case# e3uitably reduced the rate of interest to +' interest per month or +*' interest per annum. ;t is understandable for the respondents not to contest the default order for# as alleged in their Comment# Jit is not their intention to impugn or run away from their ?ust and valid obligation. <onetheless# their waiver to present evidence should never be construed as waiver to contest patently erroneous award which already transgresses their right to due process# as well as applicable ?urisprudence. Respondents' former counsel as grossly negligent in handling the case of his clients; respondents did not lose ordinary remedies of ne trial( petition for relief( etc. through their o n fault. (rdinarily# the mista!e# negligence or lac! of competence of counsel binds the client. This is based on the rule that any act performed by a counsel within the scope of his general or implied authority is regarded as an act of his client . A $+9o,".C+3 +<9+2/.o" /o /0+ $#7+ .1 -0+" /0+ 7!-%+$1 -+$+ ,$o117% "+,7.,+"/ ." /0+.$ 3#/% /o 6!."/!." /0+.$ 97.+"/?1 9!#1+ !"3 1#90 !6o#"/+3 /o ! 3+2$.8!/.o" o4 /0+.$ 97.+"/?1 2$o2+$/% -./0o#/ 3#+ 2$o9+11 o4 7!-. I" -0.90 9!1+, /0+ 9o#$/1 6#1/ 1/+2 ." !"3 !99o$3 $+7.+4 /o ! 97.+"/ -0o 1#44+$+3 /0+$+:%. D7Il+ JA lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his client# warmth and %eal in the maintenance and defense of his rights and the e9ertion of his utmost learning and ability# to the end that nothing can be ta!en or withheld from his client e9cept in accordance with the law. udging from how respondents' former counsel handled the cause of his clients# there is no doubt that he was grossly negligent in protecting their rights# to the e9tent that they were deprived of their property without due process of law. ;n fine# respondents did not lose the remedies of new trial# appeal# petition for relief and other remedies through their own fault. ;t can only be attributed to the gross negligence of their erstwhile counsel which prevented them from pursuing such remedies. 5e cannot also blame respondents for relying too much on their former counsel. Clients have reasonable e9pectations that their lawyer would amply protect their interest during the trial of the case. :ere# JKrLespondents are plain and ordinary people 9 9 9 who are totally ignorant of the intricacies and technicalities of law and legal procedures. 8eing so# they completely relied upon and trusted their former counsel to appropriately act as their interest may lawfully warrant and re3uire. As a final word# it is worth noting that respondents' principal obligation was only P-&#111.11. "ue to their former counsel's gross negligence in handling their cause# coupled with the RTC's erroneous# baseless# and illegal award of &' monthly interest# they now stand to lose their property and still owe petitioner a large amount of money.