CA-G.R. SP No. 46445
SPECIAL SECOND DIVISION
[CA-G.R. SP No. 46445. June 11, 1998.]
NICOLAS BALAOING, ORLANDO DAVID, DOMINADOR BALAOING and JIMMY FRONDA, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE ROMEO B. BELLO, Provincial Adjudicator, DARAB Region III, Cabanatuan City, DARAB Sheriff EMILIO SARMIENTO and ANASTACIA VDA. DE MARAÑA, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
MABUTAS, JR., J p:
Before Us is a petition (certiorari, prohibition and mandamus) assailing the order (dated December 22, 1997) of the respondent provincial adjudicator (PARAD), Branch III, South Nueva Ecija In Cabanatuan City and the subsequent writ of execution issued on December 23, 1997) In DARAB Case No. 01796 'SNE' 96.
The assailed order (dated December 22, 1997) is worded as follows:
On the other hand, the writ of execution (issued on December 23, 1997 by the Clerk of the Board) commanded the DARAB Sheriff in Cabanatuan City to enforce the decision, October 25, 1996 of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (Branch III) in Cabanatuan City page 181, id.).
Tracking down the antecedent facts of the case. We discerned the following substantial developments;
On June 6, 1996, the private respondent herein filed a petition for recovery of possession with the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (Branch III) in Cabanatuan City against the petitioner herein and others relative to a parcel of land (862 square meters in area) which he bought from Fernando Busuego (pages 2-3, id.).
On June 26, 1996, the respondents (petitioners) filed their answer denying the material allegations in the petition and, at the same time, interposed some special and affirmative defenses — the board has no jurisdiction over the case and that the petition states no cause of action as the petitioner has no personality to sue. (pages 15-17, id.).
On October 25, 1996, the respondent provincial adjudicator handed down a decision, the dispositive portion of which follows:
Not satisfied with said decision, the respondents therein filed November 11, 1996) a "Notice of Appeal" (page 100, id.), thereby spurring the respondent provincial adjudicator to issue the following order on November 25, 1996:
However on March 17, 1997, the respondent provincial adjudicator, acting on the manifestation filed by respondents (Marcelino Balaoing and Simeon Hinlayagan, considered their appeal withdrawn (page 120, id.).
On April 1, 1997, the petitioner (private respondent) filed a motion for the issuance of writ of execution (pages 123-124, id.), which move granted (page 130, id.).
Subsequently, on August 5, 1997, the petitioner (private respondent) filed a motion to dismiss the appeal (pages 136-187, id.), which move was opposed (pages 138-139, id.) by the respondents (petitioners).
On September 9, 1997, the respondent provincial adjudicator issued an order granting the motion to dismiss the appeal to wit:
On October 3, 1997, the respondents (petitioners) filed a motion to reconsider the afore-quoted order (pages 168-171, id.), which move was denied (on October 30, 1997) thus:
On November 20, 1997, the petitioner (private respondent) filed a motion for issuance of a writ of execution (pages 178-179 id). Which move was granted in the assailed order, dated December 22, 1997, and which was earlier quoted.
On December 23, 1997, the assailed writ of execution was issued which writ was implemented on December 24, 1997 (page 205, id.).
On the other hand, this Court received the instant petition (pages 1-7, of the Rollo) on January 7, 1998, but the same was dismissed for the reasons stated in its resolution of January 16, 1998 (page 30, id.).
However, on petitioners' motion for reconsideration which was filed on February 2, 1998 (pages 31-33 of the Rollo), this Court reconsidered and set aside the dismissal resolution (pages 35-36, id.) — and the petition was reinstated.
In their petition, the petitioners raised the following grounds:
After meticulously going over the record of the case ("expediente") — taking note also of the disputants arguments (in the petition and in the answer thereto) surrounding the grounds interposed by the petitioners to buttress their petition before this Court — the same (petition) appeared to have no legal leg to stand on. Thus, petitioners' pretensions were easily scuttled by the following postulation of the private respondent:
At this juncture, it is well to state that the special civil action for certiorari, is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment (Ramnani vs. Court of Appeals, 221 SCRA 582). It will not even issue for simple abuse of discretion (University of the Philippines vs. Civil Service Commission, 228 SCRA 207). Parenthetically, grave abuse of discretion implies such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction (Planters Products, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 193 SCRA 563), or in other words, where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility — and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law (Bustamante vs. Commission on Audit, 216 SCRA 134; Philippine Airlines, Inc. vs. Confesor, 231 SCRA 41). In the case at bench, the record does not show such kind of actuation on the part of the respondent judge. As long as court or quasi-judicial body acts within its jurisdiction, any alleged errors committed in the exercise of its jurisdiction will amount to nothing more than errors of judgment which are reviewable by timely appeal and not by a special civil action of certiorari (New York Marine Managers, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 249 SCRA 416; Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Court of Appeals, 257 SCRA 200). Unfortunately, the petitioners herein failed to comply with the legal requisites set to perfect their appeal from the decision of the respondent provincial adjudicator.
More. The special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court does not lie as a substitute for the lost remedy of appeal (Sy vs. Romero, 214 SCRA 187; Salas vs. Castro, 216 SCRA 198; Antonio vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 216 SCRA 214; Ruiz, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, 220 SCRA 490; Hipolito vs. Court of Appeals, 230 SCRA 191; Calalang vs. Register of Deeds of Quezon City, 231 SCRA 88; Fajardo vs. Bautista, 232 SCRA 291; Felizardo vs. Court of Appeals, 233 SCRA 220; De la Paz vs. Panis, 245 SCRA 242; Manila Electric Company vs. La Campana Food Products, Inc., 237 SCRA 77; Heirs of Placido Miranda vs. Court of Appeals, 255 SCRA 368; Palomado vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 257 SCRA 680, Santiago Land Development Company vs. Court of Appeals, 258 SCRA 535, Sempio vs. Court of Appeals, 263 SCRA 217). Such remedies (appeal and certiorari) are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive (Federation of Free Workers vs. Inciong, 208 SCRA 157) — they are antithetical (Municipality of Biñan, Laguna vs. Court of Appeals, 219 SCRA 157; Oriental Media, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 250 SCRA 647).
In passing, We wish to underscore the rule that the so-called right to appeal is merely a statutory privilege — hence, a party seeking to avail of said right must strictly and faithfully comply with the requirements set by the statute or rules (Sta. Rita vs. Court of Appeals, 247 SCRA 484; Pedrosa vs. Hill, 257 SCRA 373; Videogram Regulatory Board vs. Court of Appeals, 265 SCRA 50). Consequently, the perfection of an appeal within the statutory or reglementary period is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional and failure to do so (as what happened in the case at bench) rendered the questioned decision final — thereby depriving the appellate court or body jurisdiction to alter the final Judgment much less to entertain the appeal (Azores vs. Securities and Exchange Commission, 252 SCRA 387; Quimbao vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 254 SCRA 211; Refugia vs. Court of Appeals, 258 SCRA 347; Ditching vs. Court of Appeal 263 SCRA 343; Garcia vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 264 SCRA 261) A mere notice of appeal without complying with the other requisites for the perfection of appeal does not stop the running of the period for perfecting an appeal (Garcia vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 256 SCRA 560).
Similarly, the special civil action of prohibition must be based on jurisdictional grounds against the trial court's judgment (Vda. de Suan vs. Unson, 185 SCRA 437). It is designed to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive or vindictive manner (Planas vs. Gil, 67 Phil. 62; Lopez vs. City Judge, 18 SCRA 616). To Justify its issuance, there are certain requisites which must be complied with (Guingona vs. City Fiscal of Manila, 137 SCRA 597), which requisites the petitioner failed to comply. Also, said recourse is available only when there is no appeal or any plain, speedy or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law (Pilar Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 225 SCRA 549). Undeniably, appeal was available in the case at bench. In the final analysis, where a court has jurisdiction over the subject matter, as a respondent judge has in the subject case, the orders or decisions upon all questions pertaining to the cause are orders or decisions within its jurisdiction — and however erroneous they may be, they cannot be corrected by certiorari and/or prohibition (Vda. de Suan vs. Unson, supra).
Much less is the remedy of mandamus available in the case at bench, the same being designed only to compel the doing of an act specifically enjoined by law as a duty — it cannot compel the exercise of discretion one way or the other (Mateo vs. Court of Appeals, 196 SCRA 280; Romualdez III vs. Civil Service Commission, 197 SCRA 168; Cariño vs. Capulong, 222 SCRA 593). Mandamus is not the proper remedy to compel the undoing of an act already done or the correction of a wrong already perpetrated, even though the action taken was clearly illegal (Guanio vs. Fernandez, 55 Phil. 814), which situation does not exist in the case at bench.
The assailed decision having already become final and executory — as a matter of fact, a writ of execution was already implemented — the same cannot be disturbed/modified even by the court that had rendered the same. The rule is well-settled that once a judgment becomes final, the prevailing party is entitled, as a matter of right, to a writ of execution (Cruz vs. Nicolas, 194 SCRA 639, Maceda, Jr. vs. Moreman Builder Co., Inc., 203 SCRA 293; Palma vs. Court of Appeals, 232 SCRA 714) — and the issuance thereof is the court's ministerial duty (Cortegas vs. Hidalgo, 158 SCRA 635; Ramirez vs. Court of Appeals, 207 SCRA 287), compellable by mandamus (Valenzona vs. Court of Appeals, 226 SCRA 306; Prudence Realty Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 231 SCRA 379). Indeed, nothing is more settled in the law than that when a final judgment becomes executory, it can no longer be corrected or amended (First Integrated Bonding & Insurance Company, Inc. vs. Hernando, 199 SCRA 796), modified, altered, much less set aside (Adez Realty, Incorporated vs. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 623; Calalang vs. Register of Deeds of Quezon City, supra; Policarpio vs. Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, Br. 83, 235 SCRA 814) — it being immutable and unalterable (Nuñal vs. Court of Appeals, 221 SCRA 26). The judgment may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct what is perceived to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law and regardless of whether the modification is attempted to be made by the court rendering it or by the highest court of the land (Alba Patio de Makati vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 201 SCRA 355). This doctrine of finality of judgment is grounded on fundamental considerations of public policy and sound practice (Filcon Manufacturing Corporation vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 199 SCRA 814) since judgments of courts — at the risk of occasional error — must become final at some definite date fixed by law (Paramount Insurance Corporation vs. Japson, 211 SCRA 879). With these, petitioners' pretensions in their petition (which are factual matters) cannot be harkened to, for factual matters are not proper for consideration in proceedings brought either as an original action for certiorari or as an appeal by certiorari (Insular Bank of Asia and America vs. Court of Appeals, 228 SCRA 420; Navarro vs. Commission on Elections, 228 SCRA 596).
Resultantly, petitioners' prayer for the issuance of an injunctive relief finds no anchorage, for entitlement thereof necessitates a clear showing of right (and others) claimed by the petitioner, which area appeared to be overshadowed by private respondent's undisputed averments in her answer (Active Wood Products, Inc. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 183 SCRA 671; Viray vs. Court of Appeals, 191 SCRA 308; S & A Gaisano Inc. vs. Hidalgo, 192 SCRA 224; Dionisio vs. Ortiz, 204 SCRA 746; Searth Commodities Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 207 SCRA 622; Syndicated Media Access Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 219 SCRA 794; Cariño vs. Capulong, supra; Philip Morris, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 224 SCRA 576, Knecht vs. Court of Appeals, 228 SCRA 1). More, There is nothing to be restrained, because, as already stated, the assailed writ of execution had been implemented/enforced even before this Court received the instant petition.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE — and the same DISMISSED.
Cui and Regino *, JJ., concur.
* Vice — J. H. L. Aquino