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Albert v. Court of First Instance of Manila, G.R. No.

L-26364, May 29, 1968


Poe v. Macapagal-Arroyo, PET Case No. 002, March 29, 2005 (6)
Niño v. Pizarro, 613 SCRA 302 (6)

ALBERT VS. CFI MANILA

G.R. No. L-26364 May 29, 1968

MARIANO A. ALBERT, petitioner,


vs.
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA (BR. VI), UNIVERSITY
PUBLISHING CO., INC., and JOSE M. ARUEGO, respondents.

Ponente: REYES, J.B.L

This case is a veritable legal marathon. Originally docketed in 1949, within a span
of 19 years, the legal dispute has come to this Court four times:

(1) L-9300, promulgated April 18, 1958;

(2) L-15275, promulgated October 24, 1960;

(3) L-18350, dismissed May 17, 1961; and

(4) L-19118, promulgated January 30, 1965 (Resolution of Defendant's


Motion for Reconsideration denied on June 16, 1965).

The present petition for certiorari is the fifth. The time is long past when courts of
justice must write finis to this case. For,

Public policy and sound practice demand that, at the risk of occasional
errors, judgments of courts should become final at some definite date fixed
by law. The very object for which courts were instituted was to put an end to
controversies.1

The factual setting necessary to a clear understanding of the instant petition


for certiorari needs to be restated. Plaintiff Albert sued University Publishing
Company, Inc. for breach of contract. Albert died before the case proceeded to
trial, and Justo R. Albert, his estate's administrator, was substituted. Finally,
defendant's liability was determined by this Court in L-15275. Plaintiff was to
recover P15,000.00 with legal interest from judicial demand.

From the inception of the suit below up to the time the judgment in L-15275 was to
be executed, the corporate existence of university Publishing Company, Inc.
appears to have been taken for granted, and was not then put in issue. However,
when the Court of First Instance of Manila issued on July 22, 1961 an order of
execution against University Publishing Company, Inc., a new problem cropped
up. By virtue of this writ, plaintiff's counsel and the Sheriff of the City of Manila
went to see Jose M. Aruego who signed the contract with plaintiff on behalf and as
President of University Publishing Company, Inc. They then discovered that no
such entity exists. A verification made at the Securities and Exchange Commission
confirmed this fact. On July 31, 1961, said Commission issued a certification "that
the records of this Commission do not show the registration of UNIVERSITY
PUBLISHING CO., INC., either as a corporation or partnership." 2 This triggered a
verified petition in the court below on August 10, 1961 for the issuance of a writ of
execution ordering the Sheriff of Manila to cause the satisfaction of the judgment
against the assets and properties of Jose M. Aruego as the real defendant in the
case.

All along, Jose M. Aruego and his law firm were counsel for the University
Publishing Company, Inc.

Instead of informing the lower court that it had in its possession copies of its
certificate of registration, its articles of incorporation, its by-laws and all other
paper materials to its disputed corporate existence, University Publishing
Company, Inc. chose to remain silent. On August 11, 1961, University Publishing
Company, Inc., by counsel Aruego, Mamaril and Associates (the law firm of Jose
M. Aruego aforesaid) merely countered plaintiffs petition for execution as against
Aruego with an unsworn manifestation in court that "said Jose M. Aruego is not a
party to this case," and, therefore, plaintiff's petition should be denied.3

Respondent court, presided over by His Honor, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel, on


September 9, 1961, came up with an order, which reads thus:

It appearing that Jose M. Aruego against whom the judgment rendered


herein is sought to be enforced is not a party to this case, plaintiff's motion
filed on August 10, 1961 is hereby denied.4

Plaintiff appealed to this Court on this sole issue: "The lower court erred in
denying the plaintiff-appellant's petition praying that the judgment rendered against
the alleged corporation, the above-named defendant-appellee, be executed against
the personal assets and properties of Jose M. Aruego, the real party to this case."

In an extended opinion written by Mr. Justice Jose P. Bengzon, this Court in L-


19118, on January 30, 1965, resolved the issue as follows:

The fact of non-registration of University Publishing Co., Inc. in the


Securities and Exchange Commission has not been disputed. Defendant
would only raise the point that "University Publishing Co., Inc." and not
Jose M. Aruego, is the party defendant; thereby assuming that "University
Publishing Co., Inc." is an existing corporation with an independent juridical
personality. Precisely, however, on account of the non-registration it cannot
be considered a corporation, not even a corporation de facto (Hall vs. Piccio,
86 Phil. 603). It has therefore no personality separate from Jose M. Aruego;
it cannot be sued independently.

The corporation-by-estoppel doctrine has not been invoked. At any rate, the
same is inapplicable here. Aruego represented a non-existent entity and
induced not only the plaintiff but even the court to believe in such
representation. He signed the contract as "President" of "University
Publishing Co., Inc.," stating that this was 'a corporation duly organized and
existing under the laws of the Philippines,' and obviously misled plaintiff
(Mariano A. Albert) into believing the same. One who has induced another
to act upon his wilful misrepresentation that a corporation was duly
organized and existing under the law, cannot thereafter set up against his
victim the principle of corporation by estoppel (Salvatiera vs. Garlitos, 56
O.G. 3609).

"University Publishing Co., Inc." purported to come to court, answering the


complaint and litigating upon the merits. But as stated, "University
Publishing Co., Inc." has no independent personality; it is just a name. Jose
M. Aruego was, in reality, the one who answered and litigated, through his
own law firm as counsel. He was in fact, if not in name, the defendant.

Even with regard to corporations duly organized and existing under the law,
we have in many a case pierced the veil of corporate fiction to administer the
ends of justice. (Arnold vs. Willits & Patterson, Ltd., 44 Phil. 634; Koppel
(Phil.), Inc. vs. Yatco, 77 Phil. 496; La Campana Coffee Factory, Inc. vs.
Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa La Campana, 93 Phil. 160; Marvel
Building Corporation vs. David, 94 Phil. 376; Madrigal Shipping Co., Inc.
vs. Ogilvie, L-8431, Oct. 30, 1958; Laguna Transportation Co., Inc. vs.
S.S.S., L-14606, April 28, 1960; McConnel vs. C.A., L-10510, Mar. 17,
1961; Liddell & Co., Inc. vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-9687, June
30, 1961; Palacio vs. Fely Transportation Co., L-15121, August 31, 1962).
And in Salvatiera vs. Garlitos, supra, p. 3073, we ruled: "A person acting or
purporting to act on behalf of a corporation which has no valid existence
assumes such privileges and obligations and becomes personally liable for
contracts entered into or for other acts performed as such agent." Had Jose
M. Aruego been named as party defendant instead of, or together, with,
"University Publishing Co., Inc." there would be no room for debate as to
his personal liability. Since he was not so named, the matters of "day in
court" and "due process" have arisen.

In this connection, it must be realized that parties to a suit are "persons who
have a right to control the proceedings, to make defense, to adduce and
cross-examine witnesses, and to appeal from a decision" (67 C.J.S. 887) —
and Aruego was, in reality, the person who had and exercised these rights.
Clearly then, Aruego had his day in court as the real defendant; and due
process of law has been substantially observed.

By "due process of law" we mean "a law which hears before it condemns;
which proceeds upon inquiry, and renders judgment only after trial.... (4
Wheaton, U.S. 518, 581); or, as this Court has said, "Due process of law"
contemplates notice and opportunity to be heard before judgment is
rendered, affecting one's person or property." (Lopez vs. Director of Lands,
47 Phil. 23, 32). (Sicat vs. Reyes, L-11023, Dec. 14, 1956.) And it may not
be amiss to mention here also that the "due process" clause of the
Constitution is designed to secure justice as a living reality; not to sacrifice it
by paying undue homage to formality. For substance must prevail over form.
It may now be trite, but none the less apt, to quote what long ago we said in
Alonso vs. Villamor, 16 Phil. 315, 321-322:

A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply


schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position,
entraps and destroys the other. It is, rather, a contest in which each
contending party fully and fairly lays before the court the facts in
issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all
imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice
be done upon the merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by
a rapier's thrust. Technicality, when it deserts its proper office as an
aid to justice and becomes its great hindrance and chief enemy,
deserves scant consideration from courts. There should be no vested
rights in technicalities.

The evidence is patently clear that Jose M. Aruego, acting as representative


of a non-existent principal was the real party to the contract sued upon; that
he was the one who reaped the benefits resulting from it, so much so that
partial payments of the consideration were made by him; that he violated its
terms, thereby precipitating the suit in question; and that in the litigation he
was the real defendant. Perforce, in line with the ends of justice,
responsibility under the judgment falls on him.

We need hardly state that should there be persons who under the law are
liable to Aruego for reimbursement or contribution with respect to the
payment he makes under the judgment in question, he may, of course,
proceed against them through proper remedial measures.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and
the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold supplementary
proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into effect against
University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego.

It is to be observed that even as this case was elevated to this Court in L-19118,
University Publishing Company, Inc. or its president and counsel chose to
withhold pertinent documents and papers in its possession and control. But when
the foregoing judgment came, the University Publishing Company, Inc., in its
motion for reconsideration thereof, asked that it be afforded opportunity to prove
its corporate existence. It submitted with that motion for reconsideration, its
certificate of registration, articles of incorporation, by-laws, and a certificate of
reconstitution of records issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission,
which was procured only from the Securities and Exchange Commissioner on
April 1, 1965 — after the decision in L-19118 was promulgated.

Jose M. Aruego, the president and counsel of University Publishing Company,


Inc., for the first time appeared in propria persona before this Court as a "member
of the Philippine Bar, private citizen." He pointedly stated that he did not submit to
the jurisdiction of this Court. He wanted, though, that his side of the case be heard.
He formally joined hands with University Publishing Company, Inc. on the plea of
due process in his favor. He insisted that he was not a party to this litigation.
The resolution of this Court, on June 16, 1965, extensively dwelt on the due
process plea of Jose M. Aruego, thus:

It may be worth noting again that Jose M. Aruego started the negotiation
which culminated in the contract between the parties, signing said contract
as president of University Publishing Co., Inc. Likewise he was the one who
made partial payments up to the amount of P7,000.00 for and in behalf of
University Publishing Co., Inc. He also appeared not only as a witness but as
a lawyer, signing some pleadings or motions in defense of University
Publishing Co., Inc., although in other instances it is one of his associates or
member of his law firm who did so. Known is the fact that even a duly
existing corporation can only move and act through natural persons. In this
case it was Jose M. Aruego who moved and acted as or for University
Publishing Co., Inc.

It is elemental that the courts can only decide the merits of a given suit
according to the records that are in the case. It is true that in the two previous
cases decided by this Court, the first, awarding damages (L-9300), the
second, clarifying the amount of P15,000.00 awarded as such (L-15275), the
corporate existence of University Publishing Co., Inc. as a legal entity was
merely taken for granted.

However, when the said issue was squarely presented before the court, and
University Publishing Co., Inc., chose to keep the courts in the dark by
withholding pertinent documents and papers in its possession and control,
Court had to decide the points raised according to the records of the case and
whatever related matters necessarily included therein. Hence, as a
consequence of the certification of the Securities and Exchange Commission
that its records 'do not show the registration of University Publishing Co.,
Inc., either as a corporation or partnership' this Court concluded that by
virtue of its non-registration it cannot be considered a corporation. We
further said that it has therefore no personality separate from Jose M. Aruego
and that Aruego was in reality the one who answered and litigated through
his own law firm as counsel. Stated otherwise, we found that Aruego was in
fact, if not in name, the defendant (Decision, p. 6). Indeed, the judge of the
court of first instance wrote in his decision thus: "Defendant Aruego (all
along the judge who pens this decision considered that the defendant here is
the president of the University Publishing Co., Inc. since it was he who
really made the contract with Justice Albert)." (Decision of CFI, p. 9, quoted
in plaintiff-appellant's brief, p. 10). And this portion of the decision made by
the court a quo was never questioned by the defendant.

The above statement made by the court a quo in its decision compelled this
Court to carefully examine the facts surrounding the dispute starting from
the time of the negotiation of the business proposition, followed by the
signing of the contract; considered the benefits received; took into account
the partial payments made, the litigation conducted, the decisions rendered
and the appeals undertaken. After thus considering the facts and
circumstances, keeping in mind that even with regard to corporations shown
as duly registered and existing, we have in many a case pierced the veil of
corporate fiction to administer the ends of justice, (Arnold vs. Willits &
Patterson, Ltd., 44 Phil. 634; Koppel (Phil.), Inc. vs. Yatco, 77 Phil. 496; La
Campana Coffee Factory, Inc. vs. Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa La
Campana, 93 Phil. 160; Marvel Building Corporation vs. David, 94 Phil.
376; Madrigal Shipping Co., Inc. vs Ogilvie, L-8431, Oct. 30, 1958; Laguna
Transportation Co., Inc. vs. S.S.S., L-14606, April 28, 1960; McConnel vs.
C.A., L-10510, Mar. 17, 1961; Liddell & Co., Inc., vs. Collector of Internal
Revenue, L-9687, June 30, 1961: Palacio vs. Fely Transportation Co., L-
15121, August 31, 1962) we held Aruego personally responsible for his acts
on behalf of University Publishing Co., Inc.

Defendant would reply that in all those cases where the Court pierced the
veil of corporate fiction the officials held liable were made party defendants.
As stated, defendant-appellee could not even pretend to possess corporate
fiction — in view of its non-registration per the evidence — so that from the
start Aruego was the real defendant. Since the purpose of formally
impleading a party is to assure him a day in court, once the protective mantle
of due process of law has in fact been accorded a litigant, whatever the
imperfection in form, the real litigant may be held liable as a party. Jose M.
Aruego definitely had his day in court, and due process of law was enjoyed
by him as a matter of fact as revealed by the records of the case. (Decision,
p. 6).

The dispositive portion of the decision the reconsideration of which is being


sought is the following: "Premises considered, the order appealed from is
hereby set aside and the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold
supplementary proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into
effect against University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego."
According to several cases a litigant is not allowed to speculate on the
decision the court may render in the case. (Rodriguez vs. Treasurer of the
Philippines, 45 O.G. 4457 (Resolution); Arnault vs. Nazareno, L-3820,
Resolution of August 9, 1950; Howden vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-
19392, April 14, 1965). The University Publishing Co., Inc. speculated on a
favorable decision based on the issue that Jose M. Aruego not being a formal
party defendant in this case a writ of execution against him was not in order.
It therefore preferred to suppress vital documents under its possession and
control rather than to rebut the certification issued by the Securities and
Exchange Commission that according to its records University Publishing
Co., Inc. was not registered. If the lower court's order is sustained, collection
of damages becomes problematical. If a new suit is filed against Aruego,
prescription might be considered as effective defense, aside from the
prospect of another ten years of pending litigation. Such are the possible
reasons for adopting the position of speculation of our decision. Our ruling
appeared to be unfavorable to such speculation. It was only after the receipt
of the adverse decision promulgated by this Court that University Publishing
Co., Inc. disclosed its registration papers. For purposes of this case only and
according to its particular facts and circumstances, we rule that in view of
the late disclosure of said papers by the University Publishing Co., Inc., the
same can no longer be considered at this stage of the
proceedings.1ªvvphi1.nêt

And on the issue of whether or not the certificate of registration, the articles of
incorporation, the by-laws and the certificate of the reconstitution of the records
proffered by the University Publishing Company, Inc. should be admitted, this
Court, in the said resolution of the motion for reconsideration, in part said:

Defendant-appellee could have presented the foregoing papers before the


lower court to counter the evidence of non-registration, but defendant-
appellee did not do so. It could have reconstituted its records at that stage of
the proceedings, instead of only on April 1, 1965, after decision herein was
promulgated.

xxx xxx xxx

As far as this case is concerned, therefore, University Publishing Co., Inc.


must be deemed as unregistered, since by defendant-appellee's choice the
record shows it to be so. Defendant-appellee apparently sought to delay the
execution by remaining unregistered per the certification of the Securities
and Exchange Commission. It was only when execution was to be carried
out, anyway, against it and/or its president — and almost 19 years after the
approval of the law authorizing reconstitution — that it reconstituted its
records to show its registration, thereby once more attempting to delay the
payment of plaintiff's claim, long since adjudged meritorious. Deciding,
therefore, as we must, this particular case on its record as submitted by the
parties, defendant-appellee's proffered evidence of its corporate existence
cannot at this stage be considered to alter the decision reached herein. This is
not to preclude in future cases the consideration of properly submitted
evidence as to defendant-appellee's corporate existence.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration and for leave to file original
papers not in the record, is hereby denied.

1äwphï1.ñët

Armed with the aforementioned decision and resolution of this Court in L-19118,
petitioner returned to the lower court on July 28, 1965 with a motion for execution
and approval of the bill of costs and asking specifically for the issuance of the
corresponding writ against Aruego to satisfy the judgment.

On July 30, 1965, Aruego moved to intervene with an opposition in intervention to


the motion for execution. Alleging that the judgment of this Court in L-19118
dated January 30, 1965, which reads: —

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and
the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold supplementary
proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into effect against
University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego.

should be construed in the sense that "the supplementary proceedings mentioned in


the aforequoted dispositive portion of the Supreme Court Decision means no other
than a proceeding to show cause why the judgment should be carried into effect
against either the University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego, as the
case may be" and that until such supplementary proceedings was had petitioner
could ask for the execution of the judgment against Jose M. Aruego as a matter of
course, Aruego falls back on his averment (made in his manifestation already ruled
out by this Court in L-19118) that he had never been a party to the case and that
the judgment sought to be executed was solely against University Publishing
Company, Inc.
On February 21, 1966, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel, upon consideration of this
motion for execution and for approval of the bill of costs, the opposition thereto by
Aruego, and the reply to the opposition, granted the motion for execution and
directed that a writ of execution "be issued accordingly".

Aruego came back with a motion for reconsideration, adamant in his resolve that
he would not pay as he was not a party to the suit. This was opposed by plaintiff.

On March 5, 1966, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel reconsidered his order of February


21, 1966, and denied the motion for a writ of execution against Jose M. Aruego —
upon the ground that "said Jose M. Aruego has never been a party to the case and
that the judgment sought to be executed is not against him."

On April 4, 1966, it was petitioner's turn to file a motion for reconsideration for the
reason that the question of whether or not an order of execution could issue against
Aruego had already been resolved by this Court in its final judgment in L-19118.

On April 20, 1966, Jose M. Aruego opposed the motion for reconsideration and
prayed for supplementary proceedings to allow him as intervenor to present
evidence in support thereof, alleging that the execution of the judgment against
him was not sanctioned by law and procedure and that had intervenor been
impleaded or given his day in court, he could have easily proven the legitimate and
due existence of the University Publishing Company, Inc. as a bona fide
corporation. He attached thereto the very same articles of incorporation, certificate
of registration, by-laws and certificate of the Securities and Exchange Commission
in the reconstitution of its records — documents which were rejected by this Court
in its resolution of June 16, 1965 in L-19118.

On April 28, 1966, petitioner filed his reply to Aruego's opposition upon the
ground that these are matters concluded in the decision and resolution of this
Court, and that respondent court cannot admit said documents without going
against this Court's clear mandate.

Resolution on plaintiff's motion for reconsideration was, by Judge Gaudencio


Cloribel's order of May 20, 1966, held in abeyance until the termination of the
supplementary proceedings, which the court thereupon granted, to allow Aruego to
present evidence in support of his opposition to the motion for reconsideration.

On May 28, 1966, Aruego presented in evidence the documents heretofore


mentioned, and in addition, the certificate dated February 17, 1965 signed by a
majority of the directors of the University Publishing Company, Inc. declaring that
the corporation still exists and that the articles of incorporation have not been
amended or modified.

On July 13, 1966, notwithstanding plaintiff's opposition to the admission of the


documents just mentioned, and his claim that the matter involved in the execution
had long been finished and decided by this Court, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel
denied plaintiff's motion for execution.

Hence, this petition for a writ of certiorari and mandamus.

1. When this case was elevated to this Court for the fourth time in L-19118, we
made it abundantly clear in the decision therein rendered and in the resolution
issued thereafter, that the judgment rendered against University Publishing
Company, Inc. could and should be enforced against respondent Jose M. Aruego.
Our language in the dispositive portion is clear. It reads:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and
the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold supplementary
proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into effect against
University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego.

The judgment does not contemplate of any proceeding other than for the purpose
of carrying into effect the judgment against University Publishing Company, Inc.
and/or Jose M. Aruego — which is the proceeding on execution. It does not admit
of any other interpretation such as that which is advocated by Aruego that such
proceeding "is to show cause why the judgment should be carried into effect
against either the University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego." Indeed,
the issue of whether or not the judgment rendered against University Publishing
Company, Inc. could be enforced against Jose M. Aruego had already been
definitely decided in that case, L-19118. Even worse, all the arguments and
evidence presented by Aruego before the respondent court resulting in the orders
that gave rise to the present proceedings had been previously adduced before this
Court and decided adversely against him in the January decision and the June
resolution of 1965 in L-19118. There can be no clearer case for the principle of
conclusiveness of judgment to apply. Thus, in certiorari and prohibition
proceedings brought by the Manila Underwriters Insurance Co., Inc. against Judge
Bienvenido A. Tan, L-17445, November 27, 1964, this Court ruled:

On August 15, 1960, respondent Borja filed another motion in the same case
asking the court to require petitioner again to show cause why it should not
be made liable under its bond, and thereafter to issue a writ of execution
against it. Petitioner opposed the motion on the ground that our decision in
G.R. No. L-12256 had finally disposed of the issue raised therein. Despite
this, the respondent judge, on August 30, 1960 issued an order citing
petitioner to appear before it and show cause why it should not be held liable
under its bond, and on September 10 of the same year, his honor also denied
petitioner's motion for reconsideration of said order. Thereupon, the present
action was filed.

Upon the undisputed facts stated heretofore, it appears abundantly clear that
the respondent judge seriously erred in issuing the orders complained of.
The question of whether petitioner could still be held liable upon its bond
must be deemed finally settled by our decision in G.R. No. L-12256, and any
attempt to hold petitioner liable upon the bond already mentioned must
necessarily be deemed as an improper attempt to reopen a case already
finally adjudicated.

WHEREFORE, the orders complained of are hereby declared void and of no


legal force and effect. The writ of preliminary injunction issued in this case
on October 26, 1960 is hereby made final. Costs against respondent Borja.

The liability of Aruego has been established so plainly in the decision and
resolution in L-19118 that there could not be any quibbling as to the import of the
words there used. Case L-19118 was brought into being because precisely Judge
Cloribel ruled that execution could not be issued against Jose M. Aruego upon the
ground, so he said in his appealed order, that Aruego was not a party to the action.
This Court there reversed Judge Gaudencio Cloribel.

In the circumstances of this case, we are constrained to articulate a number of


possibilities: that Judge Gaudencio Cloribel either (1) did not read our decision in
L-19118, January 30, 1965, and our resolution in the same case promulgated on
June 16, 1965; or (2) having read, did not comprehend their import; or (3) having
read and understood, wantonly ignored them. It is the thinking of this Court,
however, that Judge Gaudencio Cloribel simply shunted aside our decision and
resolution. He could not have overlooked the fact that it was his own order of
September 9, 1961 denying execution — because Aruego is not a party to this case
— which was appealed to this Court. That very question of whether execution
should issue against Aruego was squarely presented and as squarely resolved in the
affirmative by this Court in L-19118. That Gaudencio Cloribel should have
insisted in his opinion after his attention to this Court's decision and resolution
adverse thereto had been repeatedly called by plaintiff, is an act which deserves
unsympathetic and unqualified condemnation.

Judge Gaudencio Cloribel need not be reminded that the Supreme Court, by
tradition and in our system of judicial administration, has the last word on what the
law is; it is the final arbiter of any justifiable controversy. There is only one
Supreme Court from whose decisions all other courts should take their
bearings. 5 Judge Gaudencio Cloribel should have known that "[a] becoming
modesty of inferior courts demands conscious realization of the position that they
occupy in the interrelation and operation of the integrated judicial system of the
nation."6

So it is, that in Martiniano P. Vivo vs. Hon. Gaudencio Cloribel, et al., L-23239,
November 23, 1966 (18 Supreme Court Reports Anno. 713, 726), this Court
stressed the need for trial judges to take cognizance of the rulings of the Supreme
Court. We there reproduced the following from People vs. Santos, 56 O.G. 3546,
3552-3552, viz.:

Now, if a judge of a lower Court feels, in the fulfillment of his mission of


deciding cases, that the application of a doctrine promulgated by this
Superiority is against his way of reasoning, or against his conscience, he
may state his opinion on the matter, but rather than disposing of the case in
accordance with his personal views he must first think that it is his duty to
apply the law as interpreted by the Highest Court of the Land, and that any
deviation from a principle laid down by the latter would unavoidably cause,
as a sequel, unnecessary inconveniences, delays and expenses to the
litigants. And if despite of what is here said, a Judge still believes that he
cannot follow Our rulings, then he has no other alternative than to place
himself in the position that he could properly avoid the duty of having to
render judgment on the case concerned (Art. 9, C.C.), and he has only one
legal way to do that.7

We rule that because of the foregoing circumstances, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel


acted with grave abuse of discretion. And certiorari lies. 8

2. We now come to the cry of injustice proffered by respondent Jose M. Aruego.


Even upon a cursory examination of his gripe, his position at once loses leverage;
the potency of his arguments vanishes.

As we look in retrospect at the facts, we find that it was Aruego who executed the
contract as president of the University Publishing Company, Inc. He is a lawyer.
At the time he executed the contract with plaintiff, he should have known that the
possibility existed that the records of the corporation had been destroyed. For, it is
a matter of public knowledge that buildings which kept public records in the City
of Manila had been razed by fire during the last war. He should have at least
inquired whether the records of the corporation in the Securities and Exchange
Commission had been saved. Of course, he knew and should have known that
persons dealing with corporations are wont to look to records of the Securities and
Exchange Commission for the existence or non-existence thereof. In this particular
case, from the documents he himself presented in the court below (after he had
knowledge of the fact that admission thereof was denied by this Court in L-19118),
he is practically the corporation itself. Because out of the capital stock of
P2,000.00, he subscribed to P1,600.00, and out of the paid subscription of P500.00,
he contributed the sum of P450.00, leaving but P50.00 to be spread amongst the
minor stockholders.

This case was filed and concluded as against the corporation. When finally,
plaintiff's counsel and the Sheriff came to him as president (and incidentally
counsel) of University Publishing Company, Inc. for execution of that judgment,
he sought to stave off satisfaction thereof. Then, plaintiff's counsel and the Sheriff
came to know that the corporation did not legally exist. Aruego could have very
easily caused the corporation to pay. Or did he think that the corporation could
evade payment, since the records of the corporation in the Securities and Exchange
Commission had not yet been reconstituted? The resultant effect is that after long
years of ligation, plaintiff is still left holding the bag. As this Court noted in L-
19118, it would be too late for the plaintiff to file suit against Aruego personally.
For, by then prescription has set in.

Canon 22 of the Canons of Legal Ethics is a constant reminder to the members of


the Bar that the conduct of a lawyer before the court "should be characterized by
candor and fairness"; and it is "unprofessional and dishonorable to deal other than
candidly with the facts ... in the presentation of causes." When the question of
whether execution should issue against Jose M. Aruego, a member of the Bar, did
emerge before the lower court in the proceedings for execution of the judgment,
candor and fairness should have impelled him to tell the court that the
representation of counsel for plaintiff that University Publishing Company, Inc. is
not a corporation, was not true, and that the corporation had the papers and
documents to show otherwise. He should not have kept this fact under wraps for so
long a time while the execution proceedings were still with the lower court and
before judgment on the appeal taken by plaintiff in L-19118. He has failed in these.
Literally, he laid an ambush. It was only after he realized that this Court considered
him as the real party in interest that he presented the fact of corporate existence to
this Court to overturn the decision rendered in L-19118. Where a party "has taken a
position with regard to procedure, which has been acted or relied on by his
adversary or by the court," he must be held to be in estoppel "from taking an
inconsistent position respecting the same matter in the same proceeding, to his
adversary's prejudice." 9

This is not the first time that this Court has ordered the execution of a judgment
against a person who was not formally named as party defendant in the action. In a
series of cases, substantial in number, 10 this Court's stand has been consistent that
the judgment for payment of back salaries of officers entitled to reinstatement may,
in effect, be enforced against the city or municipality, although not by name
impleaded in the suit. Reasons therefore are concretely expressed in Mangubat vs.
Osmeña, supra, in this wise:

The necessity of making the City a respondent herein is based upon its right
to defend itself, as demanded by the requirements of due process. However,
these requirement have been substantially complied with in the case at bar.
The parties herein have handled the case, and the same was heard and
decided in the lower court, as if the City had been named respondent in the
pleadings. The officer required by law "to cause to be defended all suits
against the City", namely, its mayor (Sec. 8, Commonwealth Act No. 58), is
respondent in his official capacity. The officer charged with the duty to
represent the City "in all civil cases wherein the city ... is a party" — to wit,
its city attorney (Sec. 17, Commonwealth Act No. 58) — is counsel for
respondents herein. In addition thereto, the auditor, the treasurer and even
the municipal board of the City of Cebu, are parties respondents.

There is no reason to believe that these officers and the City Mayor would
have exerted greater efforts than those already displayed by them, in
protesting the interests of the City of Cebu, were it formally a respondent
herein. Indeed, it is only logical to expect that, having been individually
named as respondents, said officers must have taken as much concern, if not
more, in warding off petitioners' claim. Under the foregoing circumstances,
we would be subordinating the substance to the form if the action
for mandamus — insofar as the claim for back salaries is concerned — were
either dismissed or remanded to the lower court, for the corresponding
amendment of the pleadings and a repetition of the proceedings held for the
last five (5) years, in order to reach the same decision rendered by the lower
court and the same conclusions set forth in this decision, as regards the
substantive rights of the parties. It is our considered opinion, therefore, that
the ends of justice and equity would be served best if the inclusion of the
City of Cebu, as one of the respondents herein, were considered a mere
formality and deemed effected, as if a formal amendment of the pleadings
had been made.

A recent case, whose factual situation has great relevance to the present, is Torres
vs. Caluag, L-20906, July 30, 1966. There, petitioner Torres was not a party
defendant in a suit to recover possession of land instituted against defendant
Conocido who declared that he was a mere tenant of Torres. Judgment was
rendered against Conocido, and a writ of execution was issued ejecting Torres from
the property. On writ of certiorari and prohibition to this Court to nullify the writ
of execution aforesaid, we pronounced that when petitioner Torres testified in the
court below, she had her day in court and had laid squarely before said court the
issue of ownership. We then explicitly stated that the fact that petitioner was not
formally made a party defendant is a mere technicality that does not serve the
interest of justice.

In the end, we find it pertinent to quote from the early case of Herrera vs. Barretto,
25 Phil. 245, 271, thus:

... The office of the writ of certiorari has been reduced to the correction of
defects of jurisdiction solely and cannot legally be used for any other
purpose. It is truly an extraordinary remedy and, in this jurisdiction, its use
is restricted to truly extra-ordinary cases — cases in which the action of the
inferior court is wholly void; where any further steps in the case would result
in a waste of time and money and would produce no result whatever; where
the parties, or their privies, would be utterly deceived; where a final
judgment or decree would be nought but a snare and a delusion, deciding
nothing, protecting nobody, a judicial pretention, a recorded falsehood, a
standing menace. It is only to avoid such results as these that a writ
of certiorari is issuable; and even here an appeal will lie if the aggrieved
party prefers to prosecute it.

For the reasons given, the petition for certiorari and mandamus prayed for herein
is hereby granted; and

(a) The orders of Judge Gaudencio Cloribel of March 5, May 20, and July
13, 1966 are hereby set aside and declared null and void; and
(b) The Court a quo is hereby directed forthwith to issue a writ of execution
against respondent University Publishing Company, Inc. and/or Jose M.
Aruego.

Treble costs shall be paid by respondent Jose M. Aruego. So ordered.

1äwphï1.ñët

Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Angeles, JJ.,
concur.
Fernando, J., is on leave.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL

[P.E.T. CASE No. 002. March 29, 2005]

RONALD ALLAN POE a.k.a. FERNANDO POE, JR., protestant,


vs. GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, protestee.

RESOLUTION
QUISUMBING, J.:

The moving finger writes, says Omar Khayyam in the Rubayyat, and having
writ, moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit, adds the poet, could lure it back to
cancel half a line; nor all your tears wash out a word of it.
Such is my view on the providential case for our consideration.
Before this Electoral Tribunal, composed pursuant to the Constitution, by all
the fifteen members of the Supreme Court, is a matter of first impression. We are
tasked not only to determine, as originally prayed for, who between the Protestant
and the Protestee was the true winner in the May 10, 2004 Presidential Elections,
but also to decide now whether the Protestants widow (Mrs. Jesusa Sonora Poe,
popularly known as the cinema star Susan Roces) could intervene and/or substitute
for the deceased party, assuming arguendo that the protest could survive his death.
If one were guided by folk wisdom expressed in the adage that in a democracy,
the voice of the people is the voice of God, then it would appear our task had been
made easy by fateful events. Past midnight, in the early hours of June 24, 2004, the
Congress as the representatives of the sovereign people and acting as the National
Board of Canvassers, in a near-unanimous roll-call vote, proclaimed Mrs. Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) the duly elected President of the Philippines. She
obtained 12,905,808 votes, as against 11,782,232 votes for the second-placer, the
movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ).[1] She took her Oath of Office before the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on June 30, 2004.
Refusing to concede defeat, the second-placer in the elections, Mr. FPJ, filed
seasonably an election protest before this Electoral Tribunal on July 23, 2004. Mrs.
GMA, through counsel, filed her Answer with Counter Protest on August 5, 2004.
As counsels for the parties exchanged lively motions to rush the presentation of
their respective positions on the controversy, an act of God intervened. On
December 14, 2004, the Protestant died in the course of his medical treatment at St.
Lukes Hospital. The medical certificate, filed by counsel as part of the Notice of
Death of the Protestant, showed that he died of cardio-pulmonary arrest, secondary
to cerebral infarction.
However, neither the Protestees proclamation by Congress nor the death of her
main rival as a fortuitous intervening event, appears to abate the present
controversy in the public arena. Instead, notice may be taken of periodic mass
actions, demonstrations, and rallies raising an outcry for this Tribunal to decide the
electoral protest of Mr. FPJ against Mrs. GMA once and for all. The oracular
function of this Tribunal, it would appear, needs to be fully exercised to make
manifest here and abroad who is the duly elected leader of the Filipino nation. All
these, despite the fact that the submissions by the parties on their respective sides
in the protest and the counter-protest are thus far, far from completed.
Needless to stress, this Tribunal cannot shirk its constitutional duty. Yet,
neither could it go beyond its mandate under the Constitution and the law. Further,
this Tribunal is guided by its Rules, as well as the Rules of Court in a suppletory
manner. Considering the transcendental importance of the electoral contest
involving the Presidency, a rush to judgment is simply out of the question. Yet
decide the matter we must, without further delay, to prevent popular unrest and
avoid further destabilization of government at the highest level.
Together with the formal Notice of the Death of Protestant, his counsel has
submitted to the Tribunal, dated January 10, 2005, a MANIFESTATION with
URGENT PETITION/MOTION to INTERVENE AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR
DECEASED PROTESTANT FPJ, by the widow, Mrs. Jesusa Sonora Poe, who
signed the verification and certification therein.
As movant/intervenor, Mrs. FPJ claims that because of the untimely demise of
her husband and in representation not only of her deceased husband but more so
because of the paramount interest of the Filipino people, there is an urgent need for
her to continue and substitute for her late husband in the election protest initiated
by him to ascertain the true and genuine will of the electorate in the 2004 elections.
In support of her assertion, she cites De Castro v. Commission on
Elections,[2] and Lomugdang v. Javier,[3] to the effect that the death of the
protestant does not constitute a ground for the dismissal of the contest nor oust the
trial court of the jurisdiction to decide the election contest. She stresses
nevertheless that even if the instant protest case succeeds, she is cognizant that as a
mere substitute she cannot succeed, assume or be entitled to said elective office,
and her utmost concern is not personal but one that involves the publics interest.
She prays, however, that if subsequently determined that the protestee Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo did not get the highest number of votes for president, for
protestee to be disallowed from remaining in office, and thus prevented from
exercising the powers, duties, responsibilities and prerogatives reserved only to the
duly-elected president or her legitimate successor.
In her Comment, the Protestee, Mrs. GMA, relying on Vda. de De Mesa v.
Mencias[4] and subsequent cases including analogous cases decided by the House
of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), asserts that the widow of a
deceased candidate is not the proper party to replace the deceased protestant since
a public office is personal and not a property that passes on to the heirs. She points
out that the widow has no legal right to substitute for her husband in an election
protest, since no such right survives the husband, considering that the right to file
an election protest is personal and non-transmissible.
Protestee also contends Mrs. FPJ cannot substitute for her deceased husband
because under the Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, only the registered
candidates who obtained the 2nd and 3rd highest votes for the presidency may
contest the election of the president and patently, Mrs. FPJ did not receive the
2nd and 3rd highest votes for she was not even a candidate for the presidency in the
election that is being contested.
Citing pertinent PET Rules, protestee also stresses that this Tribunal has no
jurisdiction over actions of surviving spouses to ascertain the vote of the electorate
as the Tribunal has jurisdiction only over election protests and quo warranto cases.
According to protestee, movant/intervenor Mrs. FPJ cannot use the public
interest to justify her request to be substituted for her husband. Public interest, i.e.
the need to dispel uncertainty over the real choice of the electorate, is applicable
only in election contests, not in an action to merely ascertain the true and genuine
will of the people. She asserts that the only case herein cognizable by this Tribunal
is an election protest involving a protestant and a protestee, not between the
electorate and the protestee. Citing analogous HRET cases, protestee avers that in a
case where the protestant, the primary adversary in an election protest case dies,
the public interest in said protest dies with him.
Protestee also contends that in the adversarial nature of a protest case where
one of the parties dies, a correct ruling cannot be had because the dead protestant
could no longer refute his adversarys allegations because death has rendered
him hors de combat.
Further citing Defensor-Santiago v. Ramos,[5] protestee points out that this
Tribunal, nonetheless, confirmed its power to dismiss an electoral case on technical
grounds. She adds that if the Tribunal can do so on a technicality, all the more it
could for a stronger reason, that of protestants death.
In her Reply, movant/intervenor argues that reference of protestee to the HRET
case of Abadilla v. Ablan,[6] was erroneous inasmuch as said case was a
congressional protest and the controlling case is De Castro. She likewise contends
that protestant failed to distinguish between a right to an office which protestant
concedes is personal and non-transmissible vis--vis the right to pursue the process
which is not personal but imbued with public interest. She likewise stresses that the
death of the protestant abolished the personal/private character of the protest, as
protestants right to assume if he prevails, necessarily disappears, and the same
cannot be transferred to anyone else, protestants widow included. She insists,
however, that the public interest remains. Further, movant/intervenor posits that the
protest having been commenced cannot be abated by the death of the protestant
and the only real issue is the determination of the proper substitute. She avers that
the Tribunals rule is clear on who can commence and initiate a protest compared to
the persons who can initiate a quo warranto. She admits that in the former, only
the second and third placers in the presidential election are authorized to
commence the contest, while in the latter, any voter may initiate the petition. She
contends that with no personal interest involved, any registered voter can continue
the duly-commenced protest as the real-party-in-interest which is analogous to
a quo warranto. She contradicts protestee and insists that allowing any voter to
substitute just like in a quo warranto will not open the floodgate to whimsical
protests, and the imagined political instability feared by protestee will even more
be pronounced if the protest is dismissed. Movant/intervenor reiterates that the
issue at hand involves just the continuation of proceedings by allowing substitution
and the taking over by the substitute of the prosecution of the protest already duly
commenced.
Plainly, the issue here is: May the widow substitute/intervene for the protestant
who died during the pendency of the latters protest case?
The fundamental rule applicable in a presidential election protest is Rule 14 of
the PET Rules. It provides,

Rule 14. Election Protest.Only the registered candidate for President or for Vice-
President of the Philippines who received the second or third highest number of
votes may contest the election of the President or the Vice-President, as the case
may be, by filing a verified petition with the Clerk of the Presidential Electoral
Tribunal within thirty (30) days after the proclamation of the winner.
Pursuant to this rule, only two persons, the 2 nd and 3rd placers, may contest the
election. By this express enumeration, the rule makers have in effect determined
the real parties in interest concerning an on-going election contest. It envisioned a
scenario where, if the declared winner had not been truly voted upon by the
electorate, the candidate who received that 2nd or the 3rd highest number of votes
would be the legitimate beneficiary in a successful election contest.
This Tribunal, however, does not have any rule on substitution nor intervention
but it does allow for the analogous and suppletory application of the Rules of
Court, decisions of the Supreme Court, and the decisions of the electoral
tribunals.[7]
Rule 3, Section 16 is the rule on substitution in the Rules of Court.[8] This rule
allows substitution by a legal representative. It can be gleaned from the citation of
this rule that movant/intervenor seeks to appear before this Tribunal as the legal
representative/substitute of the late protestant prescribed by said Section 16.
However, in our application of this rule to an election contest, we have every time
ruled that a public office is personal to the public officer and not a property
transmissible to the heirs upon death.[9] Thus, we consistently rejected substitution
by the widow or the heirs in election contests where the protestant dies during the
pendency of the protest. In Vda. de De Mesa v. Mencias,[10] we recognized
substitution upon the death of the protestee but denied substitution by the widow or
heirs since they are not the real parties in interest. Similarly, in the later case of De
la Victoria v. Commission on Elections,[11] we struck down the claim of the
surviving spouse and children of the protestee to the contested office for the same
reason. Even in analogous cases before other electoral tribunals,[12] involving
substitution by the widow of a deceased protestant, in cases where the widow is not
a real party in interest, we denied substitution by the wife or heirs.
This is not to say that death of the protestant necessarily abates the pending
action. We have held as early as Vda. de De Mesa (1966) that while the right to a
public office is personal and exclusive to the public officer, an election protest is
not purely personal and exclusive to the protestant or to the protestee such that the
death of either would oust the court of all authority to continue the protest
proceedings.[13] Hence, we have allowed substitution and intervention but only by a
real party in interest. A real party in interest is the party who would be benefited or
injured by the judgment, and the party who is entitled to the avails of the
suit.[14] In Vda. de De Mesa v. Mencias[15] and Lomugdang v. Javier,[16] we
permitted substitution by the vice-mayor since the vice-mayor is a real party in
interest considering that if the protest succeeds and the protestee is unseated, the
vice-mayor succeeds to the office of the mayor that becomes vacant if the one duly
elected cannot assume office. In contrast, herein movant/intervenor, Mrs. FPJ,
herself denies any claim to the august office of President. Thus, given the
circumstances of this case, we can conclude that protestants widow is not a real
party in interest to this election protest.
We are not unaware that a contest before election tribunals has two aspects.
First, it is in pursuit of ones right to a public office, and second, it is imbued with
public interest.
Indeed the personal aspect of the case is inextricably linked with the public
interest. For an election protest involves not merely conflicting private aspirations
but is imbued with public interest which raises it into a plane over and above
ordinary civil actions.[17] But herein movant/intervenor, Mrs. FPJ, has overly
stressed that it is with the paramount public interest in mind that she desires to
pursue the process commenced by her late husband. She avers that she is pursuing
the process to determine who truly won the election, as a service to the Filipino
people. We laud her noble intention and her interest to find out the true will of the
electorate. However, nobility of intention is not the point of reference in
determining whether a person may intervene in an election protest. Rule 19,
Section 1 of the Rules of Court[18] is the applicable rule on intervention in the
absence of such a rule in the PET Rules. In such intervention, the interest which
allows a person to intervene in a suit must be in the matter of litigation and of such
direct and immediate character that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the
effect of the judgment. In this protest, Mrs. FPJ will not immediately and directly
benefit from the outcome should it be determined that the declared president did
not truly get the highest number of votes. We fully appreciate counsels
manifestation that movant/intervenor herself claims she has no interest in assuming
the position as she is aware that she cannot succeed to the presidency, having no
legal right to it. Yet thus far, in this case, no real parties such as the vice-
presidential aspirants in the 2004 elections, have come forward to intervene, or to
be substituted for the deceased protestant. In our view, if persons not real parties in
the action could be allowed to intervene, proceedings will be unnecessarily
complicated, expensive and interminable and this is not the policy of the law. [19] It
is far more prudent to abide by the existing strict limitations on intervention and
substitution under the law and the rules.
Conformably then with the law, the rules and prevailing jurisprudence, this
Tribunal finds no justifiable reason to grant the petition/motion for intervention
and substitution.
WHEREFORE, the motion of movant/intervenor JESUSA SONORA POE
a.k.a. SUSAN ROCES to intervene and substitute for the deceased protestant is
DENIED for lack of merit.
Acting on the protest and considering the Notice of the Death, submitted by
counsel of protestant RONALD ALLAN POE, a.k.a. FERNANDO POE, JR., we
also resolve that Presidential Electoral Tribunal Case No. 002, entitled Ronald
Allan Poe a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr. v. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, should be as it is
hereby DISMISSED on the ground that no real party in interest has come forward
within the period allowed by law, to intervene in this case or be substituted for the
deceased protestant.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC

A.M. No. CA-08-45-J February 22, 2010


(Formerly OCA IPI No. 08-130-CA-J)

ATTY. DENNIS V. NIÑO, Complainant,


vs.
JUSTICE NORMANDIE B. PIZARRO, Respondent.

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

For resolution is the administrative complaint charging respondent Court of


Appeals Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro with gross ignorance of the law,
rendering an unjust judgment, partiality and undue delay in the resolution of an
application for a temporary restraining order (TRO).

Complainant Atty. Dennis V. Niño is the lawyer representing Gentle Supreme, the
respondent in CA-G.R. SP No. 94817, entitled "Ricardo F. Consulta v. Gentle
Supreme Philippines, Inc.," which is a petition for annulment of a judgment
rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City.

The case below was an action for collection of a sum of money docketed as Civil
Case No. 70544, entitled "Gentle Supreme Philippines, Inc. v. Consar Trading
Corp., Norberto Sarayba and Ricardo Consulta," before the RTC, Branch 68 of
Pasig City. Ricardo Consulta (Consulta) was impleaded as a defendant in his
capacity as a corporate officer of Consar Trading Corporation. Judgment was
rendered in favor of Gentle Supreme, thus:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the defendants to have
fraudulently and maliciously defrauded plaintiff to the latter’s damage and
prejudice for which the defendants are hereby jointly and severally held liable and
ordered to pay the plaintiff the following amounts:

a. SIX MILLION SIX HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED


FORTY FOUR PESOS and 33 Centavos (Php6,603,644.33) plus twelve
percent (12%) legal interest from July 2005 as actual damages;

b. THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND (Php300,000.00) as attorney’s fee; and


c. Cost of suit.1

To satisfy the judgment, a Notice of Sale on Execution of Real Property was issued
to Consulta notifying him that his house and lot will be sold at public auction on 15
June 2006.

Consulta filed a petition for Annulment of Judgment2 with the Court of Appeals on
the ground of lack of jurisdiction, as he was not served copies of the summons and
complaint relative to the case. He likewise prayed for the issuance of a TRO to
enjoin the public sale of his property.3

On 9 August 2006, a Resolution4 (August Resolution) penned by respondent was


issued giving due course to the petition and directing the issuance of summons
upon Gentle Supreme. Respondent deferred the resolution of the TRO.

Complainant filed his Answer with Counterclaim arguing that the prayer for
issuance of TRO should be denied on the ground that the acts sought to be
enjoined, specifically the public auction sale scheduled on 15 June 2006, had
already been accomplished.5

On 18 September 2006, complainant filed a Motion for Summary


Judgment.6 Thereafter, he successively filed a motion for early resolution of the
motion for issuance of TRO7 on 2 February 2007 and a reiteration of the Motion
for Early Resolution8 on 26 March 2007.

In a Resolution dated 3 April 2007 (April Resolution), respondent directed


Consulta to file a Comment on the Motion for Summary Judgment.9 Instead of
submitting his Comment, Consulta filed a Motion for Inhibition of the entire
division where respondent belongs. In a Resolution10 dated 3 May 2007 (May
Resolution), respondent granted the motion to inhibit and directed an immediate
re-raffling of the case to another division.11 In the same Resolution, respondent
stressed that no TRO or status quo order was issued, because the act sought to be
enjoined had already been performed, and the application had been rendered moot
by the sale of the property to complainant.121avvphi1

On 14 June 2007, the instant Complaint was filed. Complainant zeroes in on two
(2) Resolutions—the 9 August 2006 and the 3 May 2007 Resolutions ─ to
demonstrate the alleged gross ignorance of the law on the part of respondent. The
assailed portion of the August Resolution reads:
The prayer for the issuance of the Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary
Injunction is held in abeyance pending issuance of the summons.

Meantime, considering the allegations in the instant Petition, in order not to render
moot and academic the issues presented before this Court, Respondent is hereby
urged to observe the principle of judicial courtesy, as enunciated in the cases of
Eternal Gardens Memorial Park, Corp. v. Court of Appeals, Joy Mart Consolidated
Corp. v. Court of Appeals, and Jimmy T. Go v. Judge Abrogar, and defer the
implementation of the assailed Decision dated December 14, 2005, pending Our
resolution of the petitioner’s application for Temporary Restraining Order and/or
Writ of Preliminary Injunction.13 (Emphasis supplied)

Complainant contends that by deferring the resolution on the issuance of the TRO,
respondent virtually restrained the trial court from further taking any action relative
to the case. Hence, said resolution had the effect of granting the TRO without the
benefit of a hearing and filing of a bond.

With respect to the May Resolution, wherein respondent noted that complainant
was in possession of the subject property, complainant imputes gross ignorance of
the law to respondent for failure to consider the express provisions of the law
which grant possession to the auction sale buyer only after one year from
registration of the certificate of sale, if no redemption is made. Complainant claims
that, in this case, the one-year period had not yet lapsed, so the property remained
with Consulta.

Moreover, complainant doubts the impartiality of respondent when the latter


further observed in the same resolution that Consulta should be the one insisting on
the court’s ruling on the TRO and not respondent. Also, complainant equates
inhibition of respondent from the case, without sufficient justification, to evasion
of duty.

Finally, complainant accuses respondent of undue delay in the resolution of the


motion for issuance of TRO, since the summons have long been issued and, until
the filing of the complaint on 14 June 2007, respondent had not yet acted on the
motions.

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), through its 1st Indorsement dated
18 June 2007, directed respondent to Comment on the Complaint.14

In his Comment, respondent denies all the charges hurled against him. On the
allegations of gross ignorance, respondent maintains that no TRO was issued, so
hearing and filing of bond are not necessary. And he admits that a mistake was
committed in the inclusion of the phrase "and is now in possession thereof,"
pertaining to Gentle Supreme in the footnote of his resolution.

Respondent insists that he is not partial to any party, and that he inhibited from the
case only to dispel any doubt about his position.

In explaining that there was no undue delay, respondent points out that, in the first
place, there was nothing to enjoin, since the auction sale sought to be enjoined had
already been conducted on 15 June 2006 or two days after the case was raffled to
him. Respondent reiterates that the resolution of Consulta’s prayer for injunctive
relief has already become moot and academic.

Complainant filed his Reply, to which respondent submitted a Rejoinder.

In its Resolution of 22 July 2008, this Court resolved to re-docket the


administrative matter as a regular administrative case and to require the parties to
manifest whether they would submit the instant case for resolution on the basis of
the pleadings filed.15

Complainant and respondent submitted their manifestations on 1316 and 15 August


2008,17 respectively, expressing their willingness to have the administrative matter
resolved on the basis of the extant pleadings.

On 8 July 2008, the OCA recommended the dismissal of the charges of gross
ignorance of law, rendering an unjust judgment, and partiality against respondent.
However, it found respondent liable for delay in resolving Consulta’s prayer for
issuance of a TRO.

The OCA held that respondent should have resolved the motion by issuing a
resolution informing the parties of the fact that the prayer for TRO had already
been mooted. The OCA perceived the failure on the part of respondent to resolve a
motion as inefficiency, which warrants an imposition of an administrative sanction.
Thus, the OCA recommended that a fine of ₱10,000.00 be meted out to
respondent.

We are partially in accord with the OCA’s findings.

There is no merit in the charge against respondent for gross ignorance of the law.
In order for this administrative offense to prosper, the subject order or actuation of
the judge in the performance of his official duties must not only be contrary to
existing law and jurisprudence but, more importantly, must be attended by bad
faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption.18

Complainant wrongfully construed the contents of the August Resolution as an


implied grant of a TRO. On the contrary, it was very clear that respondent held in
abeyance the resolution of the prayer for TRO pending issuance of summons. In
addition, the fact that complainant subsequently filed several petitions to ask the
court to expedite the resolution of the motion for issuance of TRO negates his very
theory that a TRO was actually issued.

Similarly, the inclusion in the footnote of the May Resolution that Gentle Supreme
had already been enjoying possession of the property is not tantamount to gross
ignorance of the law. As explained by respondent, it was an honest mistake too
trivial to prejudice the resolution of the merits of the case.

The charge of partiality should likewise not prosper. We do not find any
impropriety on the part of respondent when he observed that, instead of Consulta,
it was complainant who was interested in the resolution of the TRO.

There was no evasion of duty when respondent inhibited from the case. As
correctly put by the OCA, a judge’s inhibition is a judicial matter. It should not be
treated as an administrative matter.19

What needs review is the finding of the OCA of undue delay by respondent in the
resolution of the application of Consulta for a TRO. We find otherwise.

It is a settled principle that judges have the sworn duty to administer justice
without undue delay. A judge who fails to do so has to suffer the consequences of
his omission as any delay in the disposition of the cases undermines the people’s
faith in the judiciary.20

Respondent practiced the principle. There was no delay on the part of respondent
that would warrant an administrative sanction.

It is undisputed that respondent did not issue a resolution on the motion for a TRO.
However, We cannot simply close our eyes to the legal maneuverings of
complainant, and more importantly, to the peculiar circumstances obtaining in this
case which should serve to exonerate respondent.

We are faced with a situation where the party against whom a TRO is sought to be
issued is himself insisting that the matter be resolved at once, and now
complaining that there was undue delay in resolving the prayer for TRO. Indeed,
We see reason in the observation of respondent in his May Resolution that in the
ordinary course of things, it is unusual for the party to be enjoined to persist in
having the TRO application resolved.

Be that as it may, We cannot speculate on complainant’s ulterior motives. But this


much we can deduce from the records: Complainant is the counsel for the winning
party in the collection case before the RTC; and it was the losing party who filed
for annulment of judgment accompanied by a prayer for TRO before the Court of
Appeals. While complainant was praying for the resolution on the TRO, he was
also acknowledging that the pending TRO application had become moot and
academic. The public auction sale sought to be enjoined had in fact been already
implemented. Seemingly, complainant was seeking a formal denial of the
application for a TRO, but no denial in such form was issued by respondent.
Obviously, complainant did not appreciate the fact that absence of action on the
prayer for TRO amounts to a denial of the same. As a matter of fact, respondent
was not prevented from executing the decision, which was sought to be annulled,
as he was able to proceed with the auction sale. Indeed, even the "judicial
courtesy" portion of the August Resolution did not prevent the auction sale of
Consulta’s property. Complainant stood to benefit, as he did benefit, from the
inaction on the TRO application.

Assuming arguendo that a formal resolution of the TRO was necessary, respondent
did not actually incur delay. Subsequent to the issuance of the August 2006
Resolution and before respondent could decide on the TRO, complainant filed a
motion for summary judgment on 18 September 2006, a motion for early
resolution, and a reiteration of the motion for early resolution. All these motions
were tackled in the April Resolution, where the appellate court directed that
Consulta file his comment, and that a special process even be effected personally.
The motion for summary judgment, the resolution of which would have included
the ancillary issue of the TRO, effectively extended the time within which to issue,
assuming it to be needed, the formal resolution of the TRO. Respondent had to
wait for the expiration of the period to comment before he could issue a resolution.
There was yet, at that time, no delay on the part of respondent.

Based on the foregoing, it is evident that the filing of the instant administrative
complaint was meant to harass respondent. Furthermore, it is notable that only
respondent was singled out in the complaint despite the fact that the challenged
Resolutions were a collective decision of the Court of Appeals Seventeenth
Division. In Bautista v. Associate Justice Abdulwahid,21 this Court held that the
Court of Appeals is a collegiate court whose members reach their conclusions in
consultation and accordingly render their collective judgment after due
deliberation. The filing of charges against a single member of a division of the
appellate court is inappropriate.22

We are mindful of the Court’s ruling in Gonzales v. Bantolo,23 that "regardless of


whether the grounds or relief prayed for have become moot, a judge has the duty to
resolve motion in the interest of orderly administration of justice and to properly
inform the parties of the outcome of the motion."24 But taking into account all the
circumstances of this case, We find that there is sufficient justification for
respondent’s "inaction." The dismissal of the charge for undue delay is warranted
by the facts of this case.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the administrative complaint against Justice


Normandie B. Pizarro is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.