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RULE 36 distinctly the facts and the law on which it is

based, and Section 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of


A.M. No. RTJ-07-2075 October 9, Court echoing the same requisite.5
2007
(Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 07-2623-RTJ) Complainant further charges that respondent
judge issued an order written in the English
ATTY. UBALDINO A. language, and in a fashion that does not befit an
LACUROM, complainant, RTC Judge which thereby demonstrates her
vs. incompetence and lack of diligence. However,
JUDGE JUANITA C. TIENZO, Regional Trial complainant discloses that the inclusion of the
Court, Branch 27, Cabanatuan foregoing matter in his administrative complaint
City, respondent. was merely at the behest of his former colleague,
Feliciano Buenaventura, a retired presiding
DECISION judge of RTC, Branch 27, Cabanatuan City.

NACHURA, J.: In response, respondent judge vehemently


opposed, and prayed for the outright dismissal of,
For resolution is an administrative complaint the complaint because:
charging Judge Juanita C. Tienzo of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 27, 1. (That) the complainant has no legal
Cabanatuan City, with Gross Ignorance of the personality to commence the instant
Law or Procedure in connection with two (2) administrative complaint;
separate cases: one is for Replevin or Sum of
Money, while the other is an appealed case of 2. (That) the complainant has no cause of action
Unlawful Detainer from the Municipal Trial Court against the respondent considering that the
in Cities (MTCC), Branch 3, Cabanatuan City. complaint is legally and factually baseless,
perjurious in nature, malicious and only intends
On the first charge, complainant, Atty. Ubaldino to harass the [respondent];
A. Lacurom, assails the issuance by respondent
judge of a writ of replevin in Civil Case No. 4971 3. The complainant has no locus standi to raise
entitled "Roy G. Claudio and Michael Allan the second issue considering he is not a person
Parungao v. Carlos Dy and John Doe," for directly affected by the Decision of the Court;
violation of Sections 2(a),1 6,2 and 7,3 Rule 60 of
the Rules of Court. 4. (That) the Decision of the Court dated July 21,
2005 is made in accordance with Section 24 of
According to complainant, respondent judge the Interim Rules and Guidelines of BP Blg. 129
should have desisted from issuing the writ as and the ruling of the Honorable Supreme Court
plaintiff Claudio in Civil Case No. 4971 failed to in the case of Francisco v. Permskul, G.R. No.
prove that he is the owner of the subject vehicle, 81006 dated May 12, 1989, thus it is lawful.6
and consequently entitled to its possession.
Complainant points out that Claudio admits the Corollary to the proffered grounds for dismissal
sale of the subject vehicle to defendant, and the of the complaint, respondent judge argues that
same had been the object of several complainant is not the real party in interest in
conveyances to third persons. Civil Case No. 4971. She posits that the proper
parties are the defendants-litigants whose
In addition, complainant avers that respondent interests were ostensibly aggrieved and
judge delayed the release of the property despite prejudiced by the Order of Release of the vehicle
a third-party claim thereon. Apparently, in favor of the plaintiffs-applicants, and not the
respondent judge granted plaintiffs an extension complainant who has no apparent authority7 to
of time within which to post the required institute the administrative complaint against her.
indemnity bond. As such, the subject vehicle
remained with the sheriff in excess of the Respondent judge next contends that the
five-day period provided in Section 6, Rule 60 of issuance of the writ of replevin was done in the
the Rules of Court. discharge of her judicial functions which are
presumed to have been regularly performed.
Thereafter, respondent judge, instead of Accordingly, she claims that the assailed order
ordering the return of the vehicle to the cannot be used as ground for an administrative
third-party claimant, issued an order not only case against her in the absence of malice,
granting plaintiffs’ motion for delivery of the dishonesty and corrupt motive on her part.
vehicle, but also setting aside an earlier order Under the circumstances, even if the Order was
which required plaintiffs to post an indemnity erroneously issued, complainant’s proper
bond. remedy is to file a petition for certiorari or an
appeal, as may be applicable, and not the
On the second charge relating to Civil Case No. instant administrative case.
4884, complainant alleges that respondent judge
rendered a Decision4 in violation of the Respondent judge likewise points out that the
constitutional mandate to state clearly and complaint contained false statements
considering complainant’s categorical admission proper recourse to correct a judge’s allegedly
that he had strongly opposed the release of the erroneous act.10
property to plaintiff Claudio.
Indeed, as a matter of public policy, not every
As regards the diminutive decision in Civil Case error or mistake committed by judges in the
No. 4884, respondent judge again questions performance of their official duties renders them
complainant’s locus standi to institute the administratively liable.11 In the absence of fraud,
complaint. She emphasizes that Atty. dishonesty or deliberate intent to do an injustice,
Buenaventura did not, in fact, appeal the acts done in their official capacity, even though
decision to the appellate court. At any rate, erroneous, do not always constitute
respondent judge submits that her decision is in misconduct. 12

accord with the ruling in Francisco v.


Permskul8 wherein this Court sustained the Only errors that are tainted with fraud, corruption
validity of memorandum decisions. or malice may be the subject of disciplinary
actions. For administrative liability to attach,
In his reply, complainant refuted respondent respondent must be shown to have been moved
judge’s arguments, contending that the rule on by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other
real party-in-interest is not applicable to similar motive. Verily, judges may not be held
administrative cases. Section 1, Rule 140 of the administratively liable for any of their official acts,
Rules of Court9 permits a party who has no matter how erroneous, as long as they acted
personal knowledge of the facts alleged in the in good faith.13
complaint to lodge administrative charges
against an erring judge. In all, complainant However, with respect to the decision in Civil
reiterated the allegations in his complaint. Case No. 4884, we find respondent judge
administratively liable therefor.
Evaluating the parties’ respective claims, the
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) In that case, respondent judge ruled in this wise,
considered the complaint partly meritorious. to wit:
Anent the first charge, the OCA found that the
error imputed to the respondent judge in her DECISION
challenged order is of a judicial character.
Essentially, complainant assails respondent After a cursory study of this appealed case of
judge’s interpretation of the law and rules of Unlawful Detainer, this Court finds that the
procedure on Replevin. The OCA asserted that procedural due process [has] been complied
complainant’s remedy lies with the courts for the with under the Summary Procedure. The
appropriate corrective judicial action, and not in Decision of the Lower Court cannot be disturbed
this administrative complaint. by this Court.

On the second issue pertaining to the minute WHEREFORE, the Decision of the said Lower
decision in Civil Case No. 4884, the OCA noted Court, MTCC, Branch III, Cabanatuan City, is
that if the decision had already attained finality, hereby AFFIRMED en toto.
then the absence of an appeal evinces the
parties’ satisfaction with the judgment. SO ORDERED.
Otherwise, a challenge thereto would have been
brought before the higher courts. Accordingly, Cabanatuan City, July 21, 2005.
the OCA believed that complainant lacks
standing to question the said decision. The quoted decision does not measure up to the
clear constitutional command:14
Nevertheless, the OCA found respondent judge
guilty of gross ignorance of the law or procedure SEC. 14. No decision shall be rendered by any
in her blatant disregard of the constitutional court without expressing therein clearly and
mandate that no decision shall be rendered by distinctly the facts and the law on which it is
any court without expressing therein clearly and based.
distinctly the facts and the law on which it is
based. Section 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court likewise
reflects the foregoing mandate, thus:
We agree with the OCA.
SECTION 1. Rendition of judgments and final
After a careful scrutiny of the records, we sustain orders. – A judgment or final order determining
the OCA’s finding that the charge respecting the the merits of the case shall be in writing
erroneous issuance of the writ of replevin in Civil personally and directly prepared by the judge,
Case No. 4971 is clearly judicial in nature. The stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law
instant administrative complaint is not the proper on which it is based, signed by him, and filed
remedy to assail the legality of respondent with the clerk of court.
judge’s order. In this regard, we have previously
held that where sufficient judicial remedies exist, Notwithstanding this unequivocal rule,
the filing of an administrative complaint is not the respondent judge insists that her decision is in
accord with our holding in Francisco v. based her conclusions of law. Ineluctably,
Permskul.15 respondent judge transgressed the constitutional
directive.
We reject respondent judge’s insistence.
Although we have sustained the validity of The transgression is compounded by
memorandum decisions on several respondent judge’s insistence that her decision
occasions,16 we laid down specific requirements conformed to our ruling on memorandum
for the proper utility thereof: decisions. It is not amiss to remind respondent
judge of our final words in the case which she
The memorandum decision, to be valid, cannot invokes:
incorporate the findings of fact and the
conclusions of law of the lower court only Henceforth, all memorandum decisions shall
by remote reference, which is to say that the comply with the requirements herein set forth as
challenged decision is not easily and to the form prescribed and the occasions when
immediately available to the person reading the they may be rendered. Any deviation will
memorandum decision. For the incorporation by summon the strict enforcement of Article VIII,
reference to be allowed, it must provide Section 14 of the Constitution and strike down
for direct access to the facts and the law being the flawed judgment as a lawless
adopted, which must be contained in a disobedience.18
statement attached to the said decision. In other
words, the memorandum decision authorized Although not every judicial error signifies
under Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129 should actually ignorance of the law which warrants
embody the findings of fact and conclusions of administrative sanction, this holds true only in
law of the lower court in an annex attached to instances of tolerable misjudgment. Where,
and made an indispensable part of the decision. however, an elementary constitutional mandate
is violated, the blunder constitutes ignorance of
It is expected that this requirement will allay the law.
suspicion that no study was made of the decision
of the lower court and that its decision was From the foregoing disquisition, we find that an
merely affirmed without a proper examination of imposition of a fine of P20,000.00 upon
the facts and law on which it is based. respondent judge is in order.
The proximity at least of the annexed statement
should suggest that such an examination has WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Juanita C.
been undertaken. It is, of course, also Tienzo is hereby found GUILTY of gross
understood that the decision being adopted ignorance of the law, and is ordered to pay
should, to begin with, comply with Article VIII, a FINE of TWENTY THOUSAND
Section 14 as no amount of incorporation or PESOS (P20,000.00) upon notice. She is
adoption will rectify its violation. sternly WARNED that a repetition of the same
offense will be dealt with more severely. The
The Court finds it necessary to emphasize that other charge is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
the memorandum decision should be sparingly
used lest it become an addictive excuse for SO ORDERED.
judicial sloth. It is an additional condition for its
validity that this kind of decision may be resorted G.R. No. 159520 September 19,
only in cases where the facts are in the main 2006
accepted by both parties or easily determinable
by the judge and there are no doctrinal FELISA L. PEÑA, petitioner,
complications involved that will require an vs.
extended discussion of the laws involved. The GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE
memorandum decision may be employed in SYSTEM (GSIS), respondent.
simple litigations only, such as ordinary
collection cases, where the appeal is obviously DECISION
groundless and deserves no more than the time
needed to dismiss it.17 CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

It is obvious that the decision rendered by Before this Court is a Petition for Review
respondent judge failed to conform to this on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of
requirement. The cryptic decision simply Civil Procedure seeking to set aside and to
referenced the appealed decision of the MTCC declare null and void the Decision1 of the Court
and forthwith found the same as compliant with of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 53088 dated 24
procedural due process under the Rules of April 2003 and its Resolution2 dated 14 August
Summary Procedure. Nowhere in the decision 2003, which affirmed the Decision3 of the Office
does respondent judge make a statement of the of the President dated 12 May 1999 declaring as
facts which led to the filing of the appeal. More valid and subsisting the mortgage between
importantly, the decision does not contain Queen’s Row Subdivision, Inc., and herein
respondent judge’s factual findings, albeit respondent Government Service Insurance
affirming those of the MTCC, from which she System (GSIS).
The antecedent facts of the case are: subject lots to the [petitioner] within thirty days
from finality hereof;
On 13 March 1985, herein petitioner Felisa Peña
acquired three subdivision lots, covered by 4. Directing the Register of Deeds of Cavite to
Transfer Certificates of Title No. T-89547, No. cancel the annotation of the mortgage on said
T-89647, and No. T-89662 of the Register of TCTs Nos. T-89547, T-89647, and T-89662,
Deeds of Cavite, from Queen’s Row Subdivision, without prejudice to the right of [respondent]
Inc., through its President Isabel Arrieta, by GSIS to collect the obligation of Queen’s Row
virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale, with a right to Subdivision, Inc.;
repurchase the same within two months, for the
sum of P126,000.00 plus interest. However, 5. Directing respondents Queens Row
petitioner alleged that Queen’s Row Subdivision, Subdivision, Inc. and Isabel Y. Arrieta to jointly
Inc. failed to repurchase said lots and refused to and severally pay [petitioner] the sums
deliver the corresponding titles of the said of P200,000.00 as and by way of exemplary
subdivision lots because the same were damages; P200,000.00 as and by way of moral
mortgaged to herein respondent GSIS, allegedly damages; P100,000.00 plus 30% of the award
sometime in 1971 and 1972, without the written granted to [petitioner], as and for attorney’s fees
approval of the Housing and Land Use and the cost of suit.
Regulatory Board (HLURB) as required by
Presidential Decree No. 957, otherwise known Let copy of this judgment be furnished the
as "The Subdivision and Condominium Buyers’ Register of Deeds of Cavite.6
Protective Decree."
On 30 January 1996, respondent filed a Notice
Thus, on 21 January 1994, petitioner filed a of Appeal7 from the afore-mentioned Decision.
Complaint for Specific Performance, Annulment On 9 February 1996, HLURB Arbiter Manuel
of Mortgage, and Damages4 before the HLURB issued an Order8 denying the said appeal, citing
Regional Office against Queen’s Row Sections 22 and 23 of Resolution No. R-537,
Subdivision, Inc., its President Isabel Arrieta, Series of 1994, "Adopting the 1994 Rules of
and respondent, asking for the cancellation of Procedure of the Housing and Land Use
the mortgage to respondent and the Regulatory Board,"9which states that:
consolidation of ownership to her, alleging that
the mortgage of the subject lots to the Section 22. Petition for Review. - No motion for
respondent was null and void because it had no reconsideration of or mere Notice of Petition
written approval of the HLURB as required under from the decision shall be entertained. Within
Presidential Decree No. 957. thirty (30) days from receipt of the decision, any
aggrieved party may, on any legal ground and
Queen’s Row Subdivision, Inc. and its President upon payment of the review fee, file with the
Isabel Arrieta did not file any responsive Regional Office or directly with the Board of
pleading. Respondent, on the other hand, filed Commissioners a petition for review. Copy of
its Answer asserting that the subject properties such a petition shall be furnished the other party
had been mortgaged, foreclosed, and and the Regional Office in case the petition is
transferred to its name even before the petitioner directly filed with the Board of Commissioners.
purchased the same.
Within ten (10) days from receipt of a petition or
HLURB, through Housing and Land Use Arbiter an order of elevation from the Board, the
Cesar A. Manuel, rendered a Decision5 dated 20 Regional Officer shall cause the elevation of the
December 1995 in favor of petitioner, the records to the Board of Commissioners thru the
dispositive portion of which reads, thus: Appeals Review Group.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment Section 23. Contents of a Petition for Review. –
is hereby rendered: The petition for review shall contain the
petitioner’s assignment of errors on the decision
1. Confirming the sale of Queen’s Row sought to be reviewed, the issues to be resolved,
Subdivision lots covered by TCT Nos. T-89547, the law on which it is based and the arguments
T-89647, and T-89662 of the Register of Deeds in support thereof.10
of Cavite in favor of [petitioner] and consolidating
ownership thereof in favor of the latter; Petitioner then claimed that for failure of
respondent to file the proper mode of appeal
2. Declaring the mortgage of the subject lots to within the reglementary period before the
respondent GSIS as voidable insofar as HLURB, its Decision dated 20 December 1995
[petitioner] is concerned but valid only as already became final and executory.11
evidence of indebtedness insofar as Queen’s
Row Subdivision, Inc. and [respondent] GSIS However, on 25 September 1996, respondent
are concerned; filed a Motion to Declare Judgment Null and
Void Ab Initio12 before the Board of
3. Directing respondent GSIS to deliver the Commissioners of the HLURB, claiming that the
owners (sic) duplicate copy (sic) of the titles of Regional Office of HLURB had no jurisdiction to
resolve the Complaint for it involved title to, The Court of Appeals subsequently rendered its
possession of, or interest in real estate, the Decision on 24 April 2003 denying the Petition
jurisdiction of which belonged to the Regional for Review filed by petitioner and affirming the
Trial Court. Respondent also contended that the Decision of the Office of the President dated 12
mortgage transaction was exempt from the May 1999.
provisions of Presidential Decree No. 957
because it was entered into prior to the effectivity On 15 May 2003, petitioner filed a Motion for
of the said decree. Then, on 20 January 1997, Reconsideration of the said Decision.
the HLURB Board of Commissioners issued an Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals in its
Order13 denying the said Motion for lack of merit. Resolution dated 14 August 2003 denied said
Motion because there were no new or
Dissatisfied, respondent sought reconsideration substantial reasons to reverse or even modify
of the aforesaid Order on 24 April 1997. Still, on the challenged Decision.
14 July 1997,14 the HLURB Board of
Commissioners denied the Motion for Hence, this Petition.
Reconsideration of the respondent because the
Decision of HLURB dated 20 December 1995 In the petitioner’s Memorandum,18 she avers that
has already become final and executory as early the Decision of the HLURB Regional Office
as March 1996.15 The HLURB Board of dated 20 December 1995 had long become final
Commissioners granted, however, the Ex-Parte and executory for failure of the respondent to
Motion for Execution dated 20 December 1995 seasonably appeal or file a Petition for Review
filed by petitioner. within the reglementary period. Consequently,
the Office of the President had no more
Once again aggrieved, respondent appealed the jurisdictions over such final and executory
foregoing Order of the HLURB Board of judgment.
Commissioners to the Office of the President.
On 12 May 1999, the Office of the President She further argues that a final and executory
issued the assailed Decision, declaring that: judgment rendered by the HLURB Regional
Office cannot be revived by the filing of a Motion
The Order appealed from being clearly to Declare Judgment Null and Void Ab
erroneous, this Office is constrained to excuse Initio several months after it had become final
the failure of the [respondent] GSIS to file the and executory.
proper Petition for Review, a mere procedural
infirmity incomparable to the injustice that is Finally, she claims that the Court of Appeals may
sought to be prevented. have been misled by the confusing arguments of
the respondent and overlooked the fact that the
WHEREFORE, the Order of the Housing and Decision of HLURB Regional Office dated 20
Land Use Regulatory Board dated July 14, 1997 December 1995 has already become final and
is hereby SET ASIDE and the mortgage of the executory. Hence, the Court of Appeals acted
subject lots to [respondent] GSIS declared without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
VALID and SUBSISTING.16 discretion in affirming the Decision of the Office
of the President that reversed or changed a final
Consequently, on 4 June 1999, petitioner filed a and executory judgment of the HLURB Regional
Petition for Review17 under Rule 43 of the 1997 Office.
Rules of Civil Procedure before the Court of
Appeals alleging that the Office of the President In contrast, respondent, in its
committed the following grave and serious errors, Memorandum,19 maintains that the outright
to wit: (1) in not holding that the Decision of the dismissal of its Notice of Appeal by the HLURB
HLURB Regional Office dated 20 December Regional Office on the ground that the filing
1995 had become final and executory; (2) in not thereof was prohibited under the HLURB Rules,
holding that the HLURB Board of denied respondent justice inasmuch as it has
Commissioners as well as the Office of the meritorious claims. Thus, the Court of Appeals
President had no jurisdiction or authority to was correct in affirming the Decision of the Office
revive, review, change, or alter the said final and of the President that set aside the Order of the
executory Decision dated 20 December 1995; (3) HLURB Board of Commissioners dated 14 July
in excusing and ignoring the failure of 1997 and declaring as valid and subsisting the
respondent to file the proper Petition for Review; mortgage of the subject lots to respondent.
(4) in not holding that said Decision of the
HLURB Regional Office dated 20 December From the foregoing arguments of the parties, this
1995 was supported by substantial evidence, Court identifies the following issues for resolution
and; (5) in issuing the Decision in question dated in this Petition, to wit:
12 May 1999 and in setting aside the Order of
the HLURB Board of Commissioners dated 14 I. Whether the Office of the President can set
July 1997 and holding that the mortgage of aside and reverse a judgment of the HLURB
subject lots to respondent valid and subsisting. Regional Office that has long become final and
executory for failure of the respondent to
interpose the proper mode of appeal within the
reglementary period as provided for in the 1994 controversy under scrutiny.29However, there are
Rules of Procedure of HLURB; and certain procedural rules that must remain
inviolable like those setting the periods for
II. Whether the Court of Appeals committed a perfecting an appeal or filing a Petition for
reversible error in affirming the Decision of the Review, for it is doctrinally entrenched that the
Office of the President that reversed a final and right to appeal is a statutory right and one who
executory judgment of the HLURB. seeks to avail of that right must comply with the
statute or rules. These rules, particularly the
Noteworthy is that the right to appeal is neither a requirements for perfecting an appeal within the
natural right nor a part of due process, except reglementary period specified in the law, must
where it is granted by statute in which case it be strictly followed as they are considered
should be exercised in the manner and in indispensable interdictions against needless
accordance with the provisions of law.20 In other delays and for orderly discharge of judicial
words, appeal is a right of statutory and not of business.30
constitutional origin.21 The perfection of an
appeal in the manner and within the period The Notice of Appeal filed by the respondent
prescribed by law is not only mandatory but also cannot equate to the Petition for Review required
jurisdictional22 and the failure of a party to by the HLURB Rules. The Notice of Appeal filed
conform to the rules regarding appeal will render by the respondent merely states that:
the judgment final and executory and, hence,
unappealable,23 for it is more important that a Respondent Government Service Insurance
case be settled than it be settled System (GSIS) thru counsel, unto this Honorable
right.24 Furthermore, it is axiomatic that final and Office most respectfully gives notice that it is
executory judgments can no longer be attacked appealing the Decision dated 20 December
by any of the parties or be modified, directly or 1995 of HLURB Arbiter, Hon. Cesar A. Manuel to
indirectly, even by the highest court of the the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board on
land.25 Just as the losing party has the right to both questions of law and fact.
file an appeal within the prescribed period, so
also the winning party has the correlative right to Pasay City for Quezon City, January 30, 1996.31
enjoy the finality of the resolution of the case.26
whereas, the Petition for Review under Section
Under Section 2227 of the 1994 Rules of 23 of the 1994 HLURB Rules must contain the
Procedure of the HLURB, no Motion for petitioner’s assignment of errors on the decision
Reconsideration of or a mere Notice of Petition sought to be reviewed, the issues to be resolved,
from the Decision shall be entertained. What are the law on which it is based and the arguments
required under said HLURB Rules are for the in support thereof. There is a wide difference
aggrieved party to file a Petition for between Notice of Appeal and a Petition for
Review within 30 days from receipt of the Review in terms of substance that the relaxation
Decision on any legal ground and upon payment of the rigid rules of procedure cannot be
of the review fee. permitted.

In the case at bar, it must be noted that after the Furthermore, it was highly improbable for the
HLURB Regional Office rendered its 20 respondent to be so unmindful of the HLURB
December 1995 Decision, respondent, instead Rules of Procedure regarding the proper mode
of filing a Petition for Review within 30 days from of appeal. Additionally, it must be noted that
receipt of the said Decision which was the proper when respondent filed its Notice of Appeal, it did
mode of appeal before the HLURB Board of not even state the reason why instead of filing a
Commissioners, opted to file a mere Notice of Petition for Review it filed a Notice of Appeal.
Appeal on 30 January 1996 which was denied in Hence, HLURB Arbiter Manuel of the Regional
the Order of HLURB Arbiter Manuel dated 9 Office cannot be faulted when he denied
February 1996 because it was prohibited by the respondent’s Notice of Appeal as it was
Rules of HLURB. Consequently, for failure of the prohibited under the HLURB Rules. Also, there
respondent to file the proper mode of appeal is nothing to prevent the 20 December 1995
within the reglementary period, the Decision of the HLURB Arbiter Manuel from
afore-mentioned Decision of the HLURB becoming final and executory since respondent
became final and executory as early as March failed to perfect its appeal in the manner and
1996. within the period provided for in the HLURB
Rules. Where a party does not institute the
It is true, as the Court of Appeals mentioned in correct mode of appeal such as a Petition for
its Decision, that rules of procedure are mere Review instead of a mere Notice of Appeal, he
tools designed to facilitate the attainment of loses it.32
justice and their strict and rigid application which
would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate Since the 20 December 1995 Decision of
rather than promote substantial justice, must HLURB Regional Office was already final and
always be avoided28 and they cannot be blindly executory, no court, not even the highest court of
adhered to if they would serve no other purpose the land, can revive, review, change or alter the
than to put into oblivion the very lis mota of the same. It is already well settled in our jurisdiction
that the decisions and orders of administrative Authority pursuant to Presidential Decrees No.
agencies rendered pursuant to their 957, 1216, 1344 and other related laws are
quasi-judicial authority, have, upon their finality, hereby transferred to the Commission, together
the force and binding effect of a final judgment with such applicable personnel, appropriation,
within the purview of the doctrine of res judicata. records, equipment and property necessary for
The rule of res judicata, which forbids the the enforcement and implementation of such
reopening of a matter once judicially determined functions. Among these regulatory functions are:
by competent authority, applies as well to the
judicial and quasi-judicial acts of public, 1. Regulation of the real estate trade and
executive, or administrative officers and boards business;
acting within their jurisdiction.33
2. Registration of subdivision lots and
In view of the foregoing, the Motion to Declare condominium projects;
Judgment Null and Void Ab Initio filed by
respondent on 25 September 1996, or after so 3. Issuance of license to sell subdivision lots and
many months from the finality of the Decision it condominium units in the registered units;
seeks to be declared null and void, can no longer
be entertained by the HLURB Board of 4. Approval of performance bond and the
Commissioners. The same was just an attempt suspension of license to sell;
to reinstate an appeal that had already been lost.
Even granting arguendo that the said Motion 5. Registration of dealers, brokers, and
was proper, still, the allegation therein of the salesmen engaged in the business of selling
respondent that the HLURB Regional Office had subdivision lots or condominium units;
no jurisdiction over the case because it involved
title to, possession of, or interest in real estate, 6. Revocation of registration of dealers, brokers
the jurisdiction of which supposedly belonged to and salesmen;
the Regional Trial Court, was not sufficient to
warrant the declaration of the Decision of the 7. Approval of mortgage on any subdivision lot or
HLURB as null and void. Such ground relied condominium unit made by the owner or
upon by the respondent is untenable because developer;
the jurisdiction involving unsound real estate
practices and other matters in connection thereto 8. Granting of permits for the alteration of plans
belongs to HLURB. and the extension of period for completion of
subdivision or condominium projects;
It must be remembered that Presidential Decre
No. 1344 of 2 April 1978 expanded the 9. Approval of the conversion to other purposes
jurisdiction of the National Housing Authority of roads and open spaces found within the
(NHA) to include the following: project which have been donated to the city or
municipality concerned;
Section 1. In the exercise of its functions to
regulate the real estate trade and business and 10. Regulation of the relationship between
in addition to its powers provided for in lessors and lessees; and
Presidential Decree No. 957, the National
Housing Authority shall have exclusive 11. Hear and decide cases on unsound real
jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of the estate business practices; claims involving
following nature: refund filed against project owners, developers,
dealers, brokers or salesmen and cases of
A. Unsound real estate business practices; specific performance.

B. Claims involving refund and any other claims Executive Order No. 90 dated 17 December
filed by subdivision lot or condominium unit 1986 changed the name of the Human
buyer against the project owner, developer, Settlements Regulatory Commission to Housing
dealer, broker, or salesman; and and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).34

C. Cases involving specific performance of When an administrative agency or body is


contractual and statutory obligations filed by conferred quasi-judicial functions, all
buyers of subdivision lot or condominium unit controversies relating to the subject matter
against the owner, developer, dealer, broker or pertaining to its specialization are deemed to be
salesman. included within the jurisdiction of said
administrative agency or body. Split jurisdiction
On 7 February 1981, Executive Order No. 648 is not favored.35 Therefore, the Complaint for
transferred the regulatory and quasi-judicial Specific Performance, Annulment of Mortgage,
functions of the NHA to Human Settlements and Damages filed by petitioner against
Regulatory Commission. respondent, though involving title to, possession
of, or interest in real estate, was well within the
Section 8. TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS. — The jurisdiction of the HLURB for it involves a claim
regulatory functions of the National Housing
against the subdivision developer, Queen’s Row immutable and unalterable and may no longer
Subdivision, Inc., as well as respondent. be modified in any respect even if the
modification is meant to correct erroneous
Attention should also be called to the fact that conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be
respondent failed to act promptly to protect its made by the court that rendered it or by the
rights after HLURB Arbiter Manuel denied its highest court of the land.40
Notice of Appeal. It did not even offer an
explanation why it took many months before it The reason for this is that litigation must end and
filed its Motion to Declare Judgment Null and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is
Void Ab Initio with the HLURB Board of essential to an effective and efficient
Commissioners. For such inaction of the administration of justice that once a judgment
respondent for a long period of time, the 20 has become final, the winning party be not
December 1995 Decision of the HLURB deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Court must
Regional Office became final and executory and guard against any scheme calculated to bring
that was the price respondent had to pay for its about that result and must frown upon any
delayed reaction. attempt to prolong the controversies. The only
exceptions to the general rule are the correction
Thus, when the Office of the President acted of clerical errors, the so-called nunc pro
upon the appeal of the respondent and thereby tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any
reversing the final and executory Decision of the party, void judgments, and whenever
HLURB Regional Office, it acted without circumstances transpire after the finality of the
jurisdiction. It bears stressing that after the decision rendering its execution unjust and
Decision of the HLURB Regional Office had inequitable.41
become final and executory as early as March
1996, even the Office of the President had no The orderly administration of justice requires that
more jurisdiction to revive, review, change or the judgments/resolutions of a court or
alter the same. Such final resolution or decision quasi-judicial body must reach a point of finality
of an administrative agency also binds the Office set by the law, rules, and regulations. The noble
of the President even if such agency is under the purpose is to write finis to dispute once and for
administrative supervision and control of the all. This is a fundamental principle in our justice
latter.36 system, without which there would be no end to
litigations. Utmost respect and adherence to this
In sum, the Decision of the HLURB Regional principle must always be maintained by those
Office dated 20 December 1995 had become who exercise the power of adjudication. Any act,
final and executory for failure of respondent to which violates such principle, must immediately
perfect an appeal within the reglementary period be struck down.42 Indeed, the principle of
in the manner provided for in the HLURB Rules. conclusiveness of prior adjudications is not
Hence, the said Decision became immutable; it confined in its operation to the judgments of
can no longer be amended nor altered by the what are ordinarily known as courts, but it
Office of the President. Accordingly, inasmuch extends to all bodies upon which judicial powers
as the timely perfection of an appeal is a had been conferred.43
jurisdictional requisite, the Office of the President
had no more authority to entertain the appeal of As a final point. Having said that the Decision of
the respondent. Otherwise, any amendment or the HLURB Regional Office dated 20 December
alteration made which substantially affects the 1995 had become final and executory, it was,
final and executory judgment would be null and therefore, a reversible error on the part of the
void for lack of jurisdiction.37 Court of Appeals to affirm the Decision of the
Office of the President reversing the HLURB
This Court had stated before that administrative Regional Office, because such Decision was
decisions must end sometime, as fully as public rendered by the Office of the President without
policy demands that finality be written on judicial jurisdiction. Hence, when the Court of Appeals
controversies. Public interest requires that affirmed the Decision of the Office of the
proceedings already terminated should not be President, it likewise acted without jurisdiction.
altered at every step, for the rule of non quieta Well-settled is the rule that once a judgment has
movere prescribes that what had already been become final and executory, no court, not even
terminated should not be disturbed. A disregard this Court, has the power to revive, review,
of this principle does not commend itself to change or alter the same.
sound public policy.38
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant
The rule on finality of decisions, orders or Petition is hereby GRANTED. Both the Court of
resolutions of a judicial, quasi-judicial or Appeals and the Office of the President have no
administrative body is "not a question of more jurisdictions to review much more to
technicality but of substance and merit," the reverse the 20 December 1995 Decision of the
underlying consideration therefore, being the HLURB Regional Office, as it was already final
protection of the substantive rights of the winning and executory. Thus, the Decision of the Court of
party.39 Nothing is more settled in law than that a Appeals dated 24 April 2003 and its Resolution
decision that has acquired finality becomes dated 14 August 2003 affirming the Decision of
the Office of the President dated 12 May 1999
declaring as valid and subsisting the mortgage
between Queen’s Row Subdivision, Inc. and
herein respondent are SET ASIDE and the
Decision of the HLURB Regional Office dated 20
December 1995 is hereby REINSTATED. No
costs.

SO ORDERED.