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SECOND DIVISION

PATROCINIA
RAVINA,
Petitioners,

RAVINA

AND

WILFREDO

G.R. No. 160708


Present:

QUISUMBING,
Acting C.J.,Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
BRION, and
MARY ANN P. VILLA ABRILLE, for herself
BERSAMIN,*
and in behalf of INGRID DLYN P. VILLA ABAD, JJ.
ABRILLE, INGREMARK DWIGHT VILLA
ABRILLE,
INGRESOLL
DIELS
VILLA
ABRILLE AND INGRELYN DYAN VILLA
ABRILLE,
Respondents.
Promulgated:
- versus -

October 16, 2009


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
QUISUMBING, Acting C.J.:
For
review
are
the
Decision[1] dated February
21,
2002 and
the
Resolution[2] dated October 7, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54560. The
appellate court modified the Decision[3] dated September 26, 1995 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) ofDavao City, Branch 15.
Simply stated, the facts as found by the Court of Appeals[4] are as follows:
Respondent Mary Ann Pasaol Villa Abrille and Pedro Villa Abrille are husband and
wife. They have four children, who are also parties to the instant case and are represented by
their mother, Mary Ann.
In 1982, the spouses acquired a 555-square meter parcel of land denominated as Lot 7,
located at Kamuning Street, Juna Subdivision, Matina, Davao City, and covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-88674 in their names. Said lot is adjacent to a parcel of land
which Pedro acquired when he was still single and which is registered solely in his name under
TCT No. T-26471.

Through their joint efforts and the proceeds of a loan from the Development Bank of the
Philippines (DBP), the spouses built a house on Lot 7 and Pedros lot. The house was finished in
the early 1980s but the spouses continuously made improvements, including a poultry house
and an annex.
In 1991, Pedro got a mistress and began to neglect his family. Mary Ann was forced to
sell or mortgage their movables to support the family and the studies of her children. By himself,
Pedro offered to sell the house and the two lots to herein petitioners, Patrocinia and Wilfredo
Ravina. Mary Ann objected and notified the petitioners of her objections, but Pedro nonetheless
sold the house and the two lots without Mary Anns consent, as evidenced by a Deed of
Sale[5] dated June 21, 1991. It appears on the said deed that Mary Ann did not sign on top of
her name.
On July 5, 1991 while Mary Ann was outside the house and the four children were in
school, Pedro together with armed members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit
(CAFGU) and acting in connivance with petitioners[6] began transferring all their belongings from
the house to an apartment.
When Mary Ann and her daughter Ingrid Villa Abrille came home, they were stopped
from entering it. They waited outside the gate until evening under the rain. They sought help
from the Talomo Police Station, but police authorities refused to intervene, saying that it was a
family matter. Mary Ann alleged that the incident caused stress, tension and anxiety to her
children, so much so that one flunked at school. Thus, respondents Mary Ann and her children
filed a complaint for Annulment of Sale, Specific Performance, Damages and Attorneys Fees
with Preliminary Mandatory Injunction[7] against Pedro and herein petitioners (the Ravinas) in
the RTC of Davao City.
During the trial, Pedro declared that the house was built with his own money. Petitioner
Patrocinia Ravina testified that they bought the house and lot from Pedro, and that her husband,
petitioner Wilfredo Ravina, examined the titles when they bought the property.
On September 26, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of herein respondent Mary Ann P.
Villa Abrille as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
1.
The sale of lot 8 covered by TCT No. 26471 by defendant
Pedro Abrille appearing in the Deed of Sale marked as Exh. E is void as to one
half or 277.5 square meters representing the share of plaintiff Mary Villa Abrille.

2.
That sale of Lot 7 covered by TCT No. [88674] by defendant
Pedro Villa Abrille in the Deed of Sale (Exh. A) is valid as to one half or 277.5
square meters of the 555 square meters as one half belongs to defendant Pedro
Abrille but it is void as to the other half or 277.5 square meters as it belongs to
plaintiff Mary Abrille who did not sell her share nor give her consent to the sale.
3.
That sale of the house mentioned in the Deed of Sale (Exh.
A) is valid as far as the one half of the house representing the share of defendant
Pedro Abrille is concerned but void as to the other half which is the share of
plaintiff Mary Abrille because she did not give her consent/sign the said sale.
4.

The defendants shall jointly pay the plaintiffs.

4. A. Seventeen Thousand Pesos (P17,000.00) representing the value of


the movables and belonging[s] that were lost when unknown men
unceremoniously and without their knowledge and consent removed their
movables from their house and brought them to an apartment.
4. B. One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P 100,000.00) to plaintiff Mary
Abrille as moral damages.
4. C. Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) to each of the four children as
moral damages, namely:
a) Ingrid Villa Abrille Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), b) Ingremark
Villa Abrille Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), c) Ingresoll Villa Abrille Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) and d) Ingrelyn Villa Abrille Fifty Thousand Pesos
(P50,000.00).
5. Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) as exemplary damages by way of
example and correction for the public good.
6. The costs of suit.[8]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the decision, thus:


WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is hereby MODIFIED as follows:
1.
The sale of lot covered by TCT No. 26471 in favor of defendants
spouses Wilfredo and Patrocinia Ravina is declared valid.
2.
The sale of lot covered by TCT No. 88674 in favor of said
defendants spouses Ravina, together with the house thereon, is
declared nulland void.

3. Defendant Pedro Abrille is ordered to return the value of the consideration for
the lot covered by TCT No. 88674 and the house thereon to co-defendants
spouses Ravina.
4. Defendants spouses Ravina [a]re ordered to reconvey the lot and house
covered by TCT No. 88674 in favor of spouses Pedro and Mary Villa Abrille and
to deliver possession to them.
5.
Plaintiffs are given the option to exercise their rights under Article
[450] of the New Civil Code with respect to the improvements introduced by
defendant spouses Ravina.
6.
Defendants Pedro Villa Abrille and spouses Ravina are ordered to
pay jointly and severally the plaintiffs as follows:
a) One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) to plaintiff Mary Villa
Abrille as moral damages.
b) Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages to each of the
four children, namely: Ingrid Villa Abrille, Ingremark Villa Abrille, Ingresoll Villa
Abrille and Ingrelyn Villa Abrille.
c)
Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) as exemplary damages by way
of example and correction for the public good.
SO ORDERED.[9]
Their Motion for Reconsideration
petition. Petitioners argue that:
I.

having

been

denied,

petitioners

filed

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT DECLARED x x x


THE SALE OF LOT COVERED BY TCT NO. 88674 IN FAVOR OF SPOUSES
RAVINA, TOGETHER WITH THE HOUSE THEREON, AS NULL AND VOID
SINCE IT IS CLEARLY CONTRARY TO LAW AND EVIDENCE.
II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONERS
PATROCIN[I]A RAVINA AND WILFREDO RAVINA ARE NOT INNOCENT
PURCHASERS FOR VALUE, THE SAME BEING CONTRARY TO LAW AND
EVIDENCE.
III.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONERS
PATROCIN[I]A RAVINA AND WILFREDO RAVINA ARE LIABLE FOR
DAMAGES, THE SAME BEING CONTRARY TO LAW AND EVIDENCE.[10]

this

In essence, petitioners assail the appellate courts declaration that the sale to them by
Pedro of the lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 is null and void. However, in addressing this
issue, it is imperative to determine: (1) whether the subject property covered by TCT No. T88674 is an exclusive property of Pedro or conjugal property, and (2) whether its sale by Pedro
was valid considering the absence of Mary Anns consent.
Petitioners assert that the subject lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 was the exclusive
property of Pedro having been acquired by him through barter or exchange.[11] They allege that
the subject lot was acquired by Pedro with the proceeds of the sale of one of his exclusive
properties. Allegedly, Pedro and his sister Carmelita initially agreed to exchange their exclusive
lots covered by TCT No. T-26479 and TCT No. T-26472, respectively. Later, however, Pedro
sold the lot covered by TCT No. T-26472 to one Francisca Teh Ting and purchased the property
of Carmelita using the proceeds of the sale. A new title, TCT No. T-88674, was issued
thereafter. Thus, petitioners insist that the subject lot remains to be an exclusive property of
Pedro as it was acquired or purchased through the exclusive funds or money of the latter.
We are not persuaded. Article 160 of the New Civil Code provides, All property of the
marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains
exclusively to the husband or to the wife.
There is no issue with regard to the lot covered by TCT No. T-26471, which was an
exclusive property of Pedro, having been acquired by him before his marriage to Mary
Ann. However, the lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 was acquired in 1982 during the marriage
of Pedro and Mary Ann. No evidence was adduced to show that the subject property was
acquired through exchange or barter.The presumption of the conjugal nature of the property
subsists in the absence of clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence to overcome said
presumption or to prove that the subject property is exclusively owned by Pedro.[12] Petitioners
bare assertion would not suffice to overcome the presumption that TCT No. T-88674, acquired
during the marriage of Pedro and Mary Ann, is conjugal.Likewise, the house built thereon is
conjugal property, having been constructed through the joint efforts of the spouses, who had
even obtained a loan from DBP to construct the house.
Significantly, a sale or encumbrance of conjugal property concluded after the effectivity
of the Family Code on August 3, 1988, is governed by Article 124 of the same Code that now
treats such a disposition to be void if done (a) without the consent of both the husband and the
wife, or (b) in case of one spouses inability, the authority of the court. Article 124 of the Family
Code, the governing law at the time the assailed sale was contracted, is explicit:
ART. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership
property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the
husbands decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the wife for

proper remedy which must be availed of within five years from the date of the
contract implementing such decision.
In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to
participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may
assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not include the powers
of disposition or encumbrance which must have the authority of the court or the
written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or
consent, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. However, the
transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting
spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon
the acceptance by the other spouse or authorization by the court before the offer
is withdrawn by either or both offerors. (Emphasis supplied.)
The particular provision in the New Civil Code giving the wife ten (10) years to annul the
alienation or encumbrance was not carried over to the Family Code. It is thus clear that
alienation or encumbrance of the conjugal partnership property by the husband without the
consent of the wife is null and void.
Hence, just like the rule in absolute community of property, if the husband, without
knowledge and consent of the wife, sells conjugal property, such sale is void. If the sale was
with the knowledge but without the approval of the wife, thereby resulting in a disagreement,
such sale is annullable at the instance of the wife who is given five (5) years from the date the
contract implementing the decision of the husband to institute the case.[13]
Here, respondent Mary Ann timely filed the action for annulment of sale within five (5)
years from the date of sale and execution of the deed. However, her action to annul the sale
pertains only to the conjugal house and lot and does not include the lot covered by TCT No. T26471, a property exclusively belonging to Pedro and which he can dispose of freely without
Mary Anns consent.
On the second assignment of error, petitioners contend that they are buyers in good
faith. Accordingly, they need not inquire whether the lot was purchased by money exclusively
belonging to Pedro or of the common fund of the spouses and may rely on the certificates of
title.
[14]

The contention is bereft of merit. As correctly held by the Court of Appeals, a purchaser
in good faith is one who buys the property of another without notice that some other person has
a right to, or interest in, such property and pays a full and fair price for the same at the time of
such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other person in the
property.[15] To establish his status as a buyer for value in good faith, a person dealing with land

registered in the name of and occupied by the seller need only show that he relied on the face
of the sellers certificate of title. But for a person dealing with land registered in the name of and
occupied by the seller whose capacity to sell is restricted, such as by Articles 166 and 173 of
the Civil Code or Article 124 of the Family Code, he must show that he inquired into the latters
capacity to sell in order to establish himself as a buyer for value in good faith.[16]
In the present case, the property is registered in the name of Pedro and his wife, Mary
Ann. Petitioners cannot deny knowledge that during the time of the sale in 1991, Pedro was
married to Mary Ann. However, Mary Anns conformity did not appear in the deed.Even
assuming that petitioners believed in good faith that the subject property is the exclusive
property of Pedro, they were apprised by Mary Anns lawyer of her objection to the sale and yet
they still proceeded to purchase the property without Mary Anns written consent.Moreover, the
respondents were the ones in actual, visible and public possession of the property at the time
the transaction was being made. Thus, at the time of sale, petitioners knew that Mary Ann has a
right to or interest in the subject properties and yet they failed to obtain her conformity to the
deed of sale. Hence, petitioners cannot now invoke the protection accorded to purchasers in
good faith.
Now, if a voidable contract is annulled, the restoration of what has been given is
proper. The relationship between the parties in any contract even if subsequently annulled must
always be characterized and punctuated by good faith and fair dealing.[17] Hence, in
consonance with justice and equity and the salutary principle of non-enrichment at anothers
expense, we sustain the appellate courts order directing Pedro to return to petitioner spouses
the value of the consideration for the lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 and the house thereon.
However, this court rules that petitioners cannot claim reimbursements for improvements
they introduced after their good faith had ceased. As correctly found by the Court of Appeals,
petitioner Patrocinia Ravina made improvements and renovations on the house and lot at the
time when the complaint against them was filed. Ravina continued introducing improvements
during the pendency of the action.[18]
Thus, Article 449 of the New Civil Code is applicable. It provides that, (h)e who builds,
plants or sows in bad faith on the land of another, loses what is built, planted or sown without
right to indemnity.[19]
On the last issue, petitioners claim that the decision awarding damages to respondents
is not supported by the evidence on record.[20]

The claim is erroneous to say the least. The manner by which respondent and her
children were removed from the family home deserves our condemnation. On July 5, 1991,
while respondent was out and her children were in school, Pedro Villa Abrille acting in
connivance with the petitioners[21] surreptitiously transferred all their personal belongings to
another place. The respondents then were not allowed to enter their rightful home or family
abode despite their impassioned pleas.
Firmly established in our civil law is the doctrine that: Every person must, in the exercise
of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and
observe honesty and good faith.[22] When a right is exercised in a manner that does not conform
with such norms and results in damages to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for
which the wrong doer must be held responsible. Similarly, any person who willfully causes loss
or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall
compensate the latter for the damages caused.[23] It is patent in this case that petitioners
alleged acts fall short of these established civil law standards.
WHEREFORE, we deny the instant petition for lack of merit. The Decision
dated February 21, 2002 and the Resolution datedOctober 7, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 54560 are AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBINGActing Chief


Justice

WE CONCUR:

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above
Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

LEONARDO
Chief Justice

A.

QUISUMBINGActing

Additional member per Special Order No. 761.


Rollo, pp. 44-70. Penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes (now a retired member of this
Court), with Associate Justices Renato C. Dacudao and Mariano C. Del Castillo (now a
member of this Court) concurring.
[2]
Id. at 71.
[3]
CA rollo, pp. 47-54. Penned by Judge Jesus V. Quitain.
[4]
With editorial changes for brevity.
[5]
Records, pp. 144-145. Exh. T.
[6]
CA rollo, p. 53.
[7]
Records, pp. 1-7.
[8]
CA rollo, pp. 53-54.
[9]
Rollo, pp. 68-69.
[1]

[10]

Id. at 24.
Id.
[12]
See Castro v. Miat, G.R. No. 143297, February 11, 2003, 397 SCRA 271, 280.
[13]
M. STA. MARIA, PERSONS AND FAMILY RELATIONS LAW, p. 511 (4th ed., 2004).
[14]
Rollo, p. 32.
[15]
San Lorenzo Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 124242, January 21,
2005, 449
SCRA 99, 117.
[16]
Bautista v. Silva, G.R. No. 157434, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 334, 338-339.
[17]
Heirs of Ignacia Aguilar-Reyes v. Mijares, G.R. No. 143826, August 28, 2003, 410 SCRA 97,
109.
[18]
Rollo, p. 63.
[19]
Lumungo v. Usman, No. L-25359, September 28, 1968, 25 SCRA 255, 262.
[20]
Rollo, p. 36.
[21]
CA rollo, p. 53.
[22]
CIVIL CODE, Art. 19.
[23]
CIVIL CODE, Art. 21.
[11]

SECOND DIVISION
SPOUSES ROBERTO BUADO G.R. No. 145222
and VENUS BUADO,
Petitioners, Present:
CARPIO MORALES, J.,*
Acting Chairperson,
- versus - TINGA,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO DE CASTRO,**and
BRION, JJ.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS, Former Division, and Promulgated:
ROMULO NICOL,
Respondents. April 24, 2009
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
Before this Court is a petition for certiorari assailing the Decision[1] of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 47029 and its Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration
thereof.
The case stemmed from the following factual backdrop:
On 30 April 1984, Spouses Roberto and Venus Buado (petitioners) filed a complaint for
damages against Erlinda Nicol (Erlinda) with Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Bacoor, Cavite, docketed as Civil Case No. 84-33. Said action originated from Erlinda Nicols
civil liability arising from the criminal offense of slander filed against her by petitioners.
On 6 April 1987, the trial court rendered a decision ordering Erlinda to pay
damages. The dispositive portion reads:
Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff[s] and against
defendant ordering the latter to pay the former the amount of thirty thousand
(P30,000.00) pesos as moral damages, five thousand (P5,000.00) pesos as

attorneys fees and litigation expenses, another five thousand (P5,000.00) pesos
as exemplary damages and the cost of suit.[2]

Said decision was affirmed, successively, by the Court of Appeals and this Court. It
became final and executory on 5 March 1992.
On 14 October 1992, the trial court issued a writ of execution, a portion of which
provides:

Now, therefore, you are commanded that of the goods and chattels of the
defendant Erlinda Nicol, or from her estates or legal heirs, you cause the sum in
the amount of forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00), Philippine Currency,
representing the moral damages, attorneys fees and litigation expenses and
exemplary damages and the cost of suit of the plaintiff aside from your lawful
fees on this execution and do likewise return this writ into court within sixty (60)
days from date, with your proceedings endorsed hereon.
But if sufficient personal property cannot be found whereof to satisfy this
execution and lawful fees thereon, then you are commanded that of the lands
and buildings of said defendant you make the said sum of money in the manner
required by the Rules of Court, and make return of your proceedings with this writ
within sixty (60) days from date.[3]

Finding Erlinda Nicols personal properties insufficient to satisfy the judgment, the Deputy
Sheriff issued a notice of levy on real property on execution addressed to the Register of Deeds
of Cavite. The notice of levy was annotated on the Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-125322.
On 20 November 1992, a notice of sheriffs sale was issued.
Two (2) days before the public auction sale on 28 January 1993, an affidavit of thirdparty claim from one Arnulfo F. Fulo was received by the deputy sheriff prompting petitioners to
put up a sheriffs indemnity bond. The auction sale proceeded with petitioners as the highest
bidder.

On 4 February 1993, a certificate of sale was issued in favor of petitioners.


Almost a year later on 2 February 1994, Romulo Nicol (respondent), the husband of
Erlinda Nicol, filed a complaint for annulment of certificate of sale and damages with preliminary
injunction against petitioners and the deputy sheriff. Respondent, as plaintiff therein, alleged
that the defendants, now petitioners, connived and directly levied upon and execute his real
property without exhausting the personal properties of Erlinda Nicol. Respondent averred that
there was no proper publication and posting of the notice of sale. Furthermore, respondent
claimed that his property which was valued at P500,000.00 was only sold at a very low price
ofP51,685.00, whereas the judgment obligation of Erlinda Nicol was only P40,000.00. The case
was assigned to Branch 21 of the RTC of Imus, Cavite.
In response, petitioners filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction
and that they had acted on the basis of a valid writ of execution. Citing De Leon v.
Salvador,[4] petitioners claimed that respondent should have filed the case with Branch 19where
the judgment originated and which issued the order of execution, writ of execution, notice of levy
and notice of sheriffs sale.

In an Order[5] dated 18 April 1994, the RTC dismissed respondents complaint and ruled
that Branch 19 has jurisdiction over the case, thus:
As correctly pointed out by the defendants, any flaw in the implementation
of the writ of execution by the implementing sheriff must be brought before the
court issuing the writ of execution. Besides, there are two (2) remedies open to
the plaintiff, if he feels that the property being levied on belongs to him and not to
the judgment debtor. The first remedy is to file a third-party claim. If he fails to do
this, a right is reserved to him to vindicate his claim over the property by any
proper action. But certainly, this is not the proper action reserved to the plaintiff to
vindicate his claim over the property in question to be ventilated before this
court. As earlier stated, this case should have been addressed to Branch 19,
RTC Bacoor as it was that court which issued the writ of execution.[6]

Respondent moved for reconsideration but it was denied on 26 July 1994.


On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and held that Branch 21 has
jurisdiction to act on the complaint filed by appellant. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, the Orders appealed from are hereby REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. This case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of
Imus, Cavite, Branch 21 for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.[7]

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied on 23 August 2000. Hence, the instant
petition attributing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals.
A petition for certiorari is an extraordinary remedy that is adopted to correct errors of
jurisdiction committed by the lower court or quasi-judicial agency, or when there is grave abuse
of discretion on the part of such court or agency amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction. Where the error is not one of jurisdiction, but of law or fact which is a mistake of
judgment, the proper remedy should be appeal. In addition, an independent action for certiorari
may be availed of only when there is no appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in
the ordinary course of law.[8]
Nowhere in the petition was it shown that the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals was
questioned. The issue devolves on whether the husband of the judgment debtor may file an
independent action to protect the conjugal property subject to execution. The alleged error
therefore is an error of judgment which is a proper subject of an appeal.
Nevertheless, even if we were to treat this petition as one for review, the case should still
be dismissed on substantive grounds.

Petitioners maintain that Branch 19 retained jurisdiction over its judgment to the
exclusion of all other co-ordinate courts for its execution and all incidents thereof, in line with De
Leon v. Salvador. Petitioners insist that respondent, who is the husband of the judgment debtor,
is not the third party contemplated in Section 17 (now Section 16), Rule 39 of the Rules of
Court, hence a separate action need not be filed. Furthermore, petitioners assert that the
obligation of the wife redounded to the benefit of the conjugal partnership and cited authorities
to the effect that the husband is liable for the tort committed by his wife.
Respondent on the other hand merely avers that the decision of the Court of Appeals is
supported by substantial evidence and in accord with law and jurisprudence.[9]
Verily, the question of jurisdiction could be resolved through a proper interpretation of
Section 16, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, which reads:
Sec.

16.

Proceedings

where

property

claimed

by

third

person.

If the property levied on is claimed by any person other than the judgment
obligor or his agent, and such person makes an affidavit of his title thereto or
right to the possession thereof, stating the grounds of such right or title, and
serves the same upon the officer making the levy and a copy thereof upon the
judgment obligee, the officer shall not be bound to keep the property, unless
such judgment obligee, on demand of the officer, files a bond approved by the
court to indemnify the third-party claimant in a sum not less than the value of the
property levied on. In case of disagreement as to such value, the same shall be
determined by the court issuing the writ of execution. No claim for damages for
the taking or keeping of the property may be enforced against the bond unless
the action therefor is filed within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of
the filing of the bond.
The officer shall not be liable for damages for the taking or keeping of the
property, to any third-party claimant if such bond is filed.Nothing herein
contained shall prevent such claimant or any third person from vindicating
his claim to the property in a separate action, or prevent the judgment
obligee from claiming damages in the same or a separate action against a
third-party claimant who filed a frivolous or plainly spurious claim.
When the writ of execution is issued in favor of the Republic of the
Philippines, or any officer duly representing it, the filing of such bond shall not be
required, and in case the sheriff or levying officer is sued for damages as a result

of the levy, he shall be represented by the Solicitor General and if held liable
therefor, the actual damages adjudged by the court shall be paid by the National
Treasurer out of such funds as may be appropriated for the purpose. (Emphasis
Supplied)

Apart from the remedy of terceria available to a third-party claimant or to a stranger to the
foreclosure suit against the sheriff or officer effecting the writ by serving on him an affidavit of
his title and a copy thereof upon the judgment creditor, a third-party claimant may also resort to
an independent separate action, the object of which is the recovery of ownership or possession
of the property seized by the sheriff, as well as damages arising from wrongful seizure and
detention of the property. If a separate action is the recourse, the third-party claimant must
institute in a forum of competent jurisdiction an action, distinct and separate from the action in
which the judgment is being enforced, even before or without need of filing a claim in the court
that issued the writ.[10]
A third-party claim must be filed a person other than the judgment debtor or his agent. In
other words, only a stranger to the case may file a third-party claim.
This leads us to the question: Is the husband, who was not a party to the suit but whose
conjugal property is being executed on account of the other spouse being the judgment obligor,
considered a "stranger?"
In determining whether the husband is a stranger to the suit, the character of the
property must be taken into account. In Mariano v. Court of Appeals,[11] which was later adopted
in Spouses Ching v. Court of Appeals,[12] this Court held that the husband of the judgment
debtor cannot be deemed a stranger to the case prosecuted and adjudged against his wife for
an obligation that has redounded to the benefit of the conjugal partnership.[13] On the other
hand, in Naguit v. Court of Appeals[14] and Sy v. Discaya,[15] the Court stated that a spouse is
deemed a stranger to the action wherein the writ of execution was issued and is therefore
justified in bringing an independent action to vindicate her right of ownership over his exclusive
or paraphernal property.

Pursuant to Mariano however, it must further be settled whether the obligation of the
judgment debtor redounded to the benefit of the conjugal partnership or not.

Petitioners argue that the obligation of the wife arising from her criminal liability is
chargeable to the conjugal partnership. We do not agree.
There is no dispute that contested property is conjugal in nature. Article 122 of the
Family Code[16] explicitly provides that payment of personal debts contracted by the husband or
the wife before or during the marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership except
insofar as they redounded to the benefit of the family.
Unlike in the system of absolute community where liabilities incurred by either spouse by
reason of a crime or quasi-delict is chargeable to the absolute community of property, in the
absence or insufficiency of the exclusive property of the debtor-spouse, the same advantage is
not accorded in the system of conjugal partnership of gains. The conjugal partnership of gains
has no duty to make advance payments for the liability of the debtor-spouse.
Parenthetically, by no stretch of imagination can it be concluded that the civil obligation
arising from the crime of slander committed by Erlinda redounded to the benefit of the conjugal
partnership.
To reiterate, conjugal property cannot be held liable for the personal obligation
contracted by one spouse, unless some advantage or benefit is shown to have accrued to the
conjugal partnership.[17]
In Guadalupe v. Tronco,[18] this Court held that the car which was claimed by the third
party complainant to be conjugal property was being levied upon to enforce "a judgment for
support" filed by a third person, the third-party claim of the wife is proper since the obligation
which is personal to the husband is chargeable not on the conjugal property but on his separate
property.
Hence, the filing of a separate action by respondent is proper and jurisdiction is thus
vested on Branch 21. Petitioners failed to show that the Court of Appeals committed grave
abuse of discretion in remanding the case to Branch 21 for further proceedings.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals


is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA LEONARDO DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Acting Chairpersons
Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Acting Chairperson as replacement of Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing who is on


official leave per Special Order No. 618.
**
Additional member of the Second Division per Special Order No. 619.
[1]
Penned by Associate Justice Jainal D. Rasul, concurred in by Associate Justices Hector L.
Hofilea and Artemio S. Tuquero.
[2]

Records, p. 10.

[3]

Id. at 11.

[4]

No. L-30871, December 28, 1970, 36 SCRA 567.

[5]

Issued by Judge Roy S. Del Rosario.

[6]

Records, p. 67.

[7]

Rollo, p. 26.

[8]

Centro Escolar University Faculty and Allied Workers Union v. Court of Appeals, G.R.
No. 165486, 31 May 2006, 490 SCRA 61, 70.
[9]

Rollo, p. 59.

[10]

China Banking Corporation v. Spouses Ordinario, G.R. No. 121943, 24 March 2003,
399 SCRA 430, 431.

[11]

G.R. No. 51283, 7 June 1989, 174 SCRA 59.

[12]

G.R. No. 124642, 23 February 2004, 423 SCRA 356.

[13]

Supra note 11 at 68.

[14]

G.R. No. 7675, December 5, 2000, 347 SCRA 60.

[15]

G.R. No. 86301, January 23, 1990, 181 SCRA 378.

[16]

Art. 122. The payment of personal debts contracted by the husband or the wife before
or during the marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal properties partnership except insofar
as they redounded to the benefit of the family.
Neither shall the fines and pecuniary indemnities imposed upon them be charged to the
partnership.
However, the payment of personal debts contracted by either spouse before the
marriage, that of fines and indemnities imposed upon them, as well as the support of illegitimate
children of either spouse, may be enforced against the partnership assets after the
responsibilities enumerated in the preceding Article have been covered, if the spouse who is
bound should have no exclusive property or if it should be insufficient; but at the time of the
liquidation of the partnership, such spouse shall be charged for what has been paid for the
purpose above-mentioned.
[17]

Go v. Yamane, G.R. No. 160762, 3 May 2006, 489 SCRA 107.

[18]

A.M. No. P-142, 28 February 1978, 81 SCRA 605.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 75410 August 17, 1987
CESAR
SARMIENTO, petitioner,
vs.
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, HON. RICARDO D. DIAZ as the Presiding
Judge of Branch XXVII of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL
BANK and NORMA DIAZ SARMIENTO,respondents.
No. 75409 August 17, 1987
CESAR
SARMIENTO, petitioner,
vs.
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, HON. REGINA G. ORDOEZ-BENITEZ, as the
Presiding Judge of Branch XXVII of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, PHILIPPINE
NATIONAL BANK, NORMA SARMIENTO, LORNA SARMIENTO and LERMA
SARMIENTO, respondents.

PARAS., J.:
This is a petition to review and reverse the decision * dated June 13, 1986 of respondent
Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) in AC-G.R. SP Nos. 09159 and 09160
denying the petition for certiorari and prohibition for lack of merit and correspondingly dismissing
these cases.
The facts of the aforecited cases will be presented separately since they involve different
proceedings heard before different branches of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.
G.R. No. 75409
The Court of Appeals narrates the facts thus:
It appears that on May 10, 1977, the private respondent Norma Sarmiento sued
her husband, the petitioner Cesar Sarmiento, for support. The case was filed with
the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and later assigned to Regional Trial
Court, Branch XLVII, presided over by Judge Regina Ordoez-Benitez, after the

reorganization of the Judiciary in 1983. On March 1, 1984, Judge OrdoezBenitez rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the
defendant, Cesar Sarmiento, to pay his plaintiff-wife, Norma
Sarmiento, the sum of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00)monthly as
support commencing on May 10, 1977 up to March, 1984, which
shall be paid thirty (30) days after the Decision shall have become
final and executory and the monthly support, starting April 1984,
shall be deposited with the Cashier of the Regional Trial Courts,
City Hall, Manila within the first five (6) days of April 1984 and
every month thereafter from which plaintiff-wife or her duly
authorized representative may withdraw the same. Support; shall
be Immediately payable, notwithstanding any appeal which may
be interposed by defendant.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Cashier of the
Regional Trial Courts of City Hall, Manila, for his information and
guidance.
On April 9,1984 the private respondent moved for execution of the judgment
pending appeal The petitioner actually filed a notice of appeal four days later on
April 13. On May 3, 1984, Judge Ordoez-Benitez issued the following order:
Acting on the "Motion for Execution of Decision Pending Appeal
dated April 9, 1984, and the Notice of Appeal filed by the
defendant on April 13, 1984, the Philippine National Bank is
hereby directed that no amount due the defendant be released
without authority from this Court and until final disposition of said
case.
Let a copy of this Order be directed to the Philippine National
Bank for its guidance and information.
On May 29, 1985 the private respondent filed a motion to require the Philippine
National Bank to deliver to the private respondent the accrued support out of the
retirement benefits due to the Petitioner as a former employee of the PNB.
The petitioner prays
That a restraining order and/or writ of pre injunction forthwith
issue, ENJOINING AND PROHIBITING the respondent JUDGE
REGINA G. ORDOEZ-BENITEZ and all the respondents in CivilCase No. E-02184, their agents and employees, and all persons
acting for them or on their behalf, from enforcing, executing or
otherwise giving force and effect to the Decision (Annex "A "
hereof, and the Order Annex "B hereof). "

On June 13, 1966, the Court of Appeals found petitioner's appeal unmeritorious and thus
dismissed the same. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the motion was denied.
Hence this petition.
G.R. No. 75410
The Court of Appeals sums up the facts as follows:
It appears that, on August 1, 1984, the private respondent brought another action
against the petitioner for a declaration that the retirement benefits due the
petitioner from the PNB were conjugal and that 50% thereof belonged to the
private respondent as her share. The case was assigned to Branch XXVII of the
RTC of Manila, presided over by Judge Ricardo Diaz. The petitioner filed an
answer in which he contended that the complaint did not state a cause of action'
that there was another action peding between him and the plaintiff and that the
plaintiff did not exhaust administrative remedies before bringing the suit.
However, the trial court refused to dismiss the complaint because the grounds
cited were not indubitable. The case was therefore set for pre-trial conference.
For failure of the petitioner to appear at the pretrial conference on December 19,
1985, the trial court declared him as in default. Thereafter, on February 20, 1986,
judgment was rendered as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
plaintiff and against the defendants, ordering defendant Philippine
National Bank to desist and refrain from releasing to defendant
Cesar Sarmiento all monetary benefits and emoluments which
may be due him by reason of his retirement from service, but
instead, to deliver one-half (1/2) thereof to the herein plaintiff; and
if in the event that all such monetary benefits and emoluments, for
one reason or another, had already been paid to defendant Cesar
Sarmiento, said defendant is hereby ordered to pay plaintiff onehalf (1/2) of whatever monetary benefits, emoluments and
pivileges he received from defendant Philippine National Bank by
reason of his retirement. Likewise, defendant Cesar Sarmiento is
hereby ordered the costs of suit.'
On April 21, 1986, the private respondent moved for the immediate execution of
the judgment in her favor, on the ground that any appeal that the petitioner might
take would merely be dilatory in the light of the admission in his answer. The
petitioner filed an opposition to the motion wherein he manifested that he was not
going to appeal the decision of the trial court but that he would instead filed a
petition for certiorari and prohibition against the trial coourt.
Petitioner appealed the February 20, 1986 decision of respondent Judge Diaz to the Court of
Appeals on a petition for certiorari and prohibition. The assailed decision denied the above
petition.

Hence, this joint petition.


Petitioner's averments can be narrowed down to the following:
1. The order of May 3, 1984 of respondent Judge Ordonez-Benitez, prohibiting the Philippine
National Bank to release any amount of the retirement gratuity due the petitioner without the trial
court's approval is contrary to law, because retirement benefits are exempt from execution.
2. Since the trial court had refused to give the course to his appeal, he was justified in resorting
to the extra-ordinary legal remedies of certiorari and prohibition.
3. The default judgment dated February 20, 1986 of respondent Judge Diaz also ordering the
PNB to desist from releasing to petitioner any portion of his retirement benefits and to deliver
one-half thereof to herein private respondent is contrary to law.
From the foregoing, it can be gauged that what petitioner principally questions or protests
against is respondent appellate court's failure (actually refusal to resolve the issue on whether
or not the retirement benefits due the petitioner from the PNB are subject to attachment,
execution or other legal process).
Private respondent, however, claims that the issues raised by petitioner before respondent
Court of Appeals were issues relating to the merits of the cases then pending with respondents
Judge Ordonez-Benitez and Judge Diaz and hence the said issues were proper subject of an
appeal, which remedy was already availed of by petitioner in both cases. She likewise submits
that since no question of jurisdiciton or abuse of discretion had been raised and substantiated in
the petitions before the respondent Court of Appeals, said appellate court was legally justified in
dismissing the petition.
Just as We have dealt with the facts of these two cases, We now intend to resolve their issues
and questions also separately.
G.R. No. 75409
We do not find merit in petitioner's contention that simply because the trial court had refused to
give due course to his appeal, he was already justified in resorting to the extraordinary legal
remedies of certiorari and prohibition. What the respondent Court of Appeals found in this
regard need not be further elaborated upon.
Said appellate court ruled:
Under BP 129, sec. 39, no record on appeal is required to take an appeal. Nor is
an appeal bond required. (Interim Rules, sec. 18) A notice of appeal is sufficient.
Unlike before, where approval of the record on appeal and the appeal bond was
required before the appeal was perfected, under the present rule, the appeal is
perfected upon the expiration of the last day to appeal by a party by the mere
filing of a notitce of appeal (Interim Rules, sec. 23). The approval of the court is
not required. This means that within 30 days after the perfection of the appeal,

the original record should be transmitted to the Intermediate Appellate Court. If


the clerk neglects the performance of this duty, the appellant should ask the court
to order the clerk. It does not seem that the petitioner has done this, and it may
even be that he is liable for failure to prosecute his appeal. (Rule 46, sec. 3; Rule
50, sec. 1 [c].
On the allegation of petitioner that it is not the appellant but the appellee's duty to make the
clerk of court of the trial court transmit the record on appeal to the appellate court, respondent
Court of Appeals aptly points to the rullings under Rule 46, sec. 3 of the Revised Rules of Court.
It has been held that, while it is the duty of the clerk of the Court of First Instance
to immediately transmit to the clerk of the Supreme Court a certified copy of the
bill of exceptions, (now, record on appeal) it is also the duty of the appellant to
cause the same to be presented to the clerk of the Supreme Court within thirty
days after its approval. He cannot simply fold his arms and say that it is the duty
of the Clerk of Court First Instance under the provisions of section 11, Rule 41 of
the Rules of Court to transmit the record of appeal to the appellate court. It is
appellant's duty to make the clerk act and, if necessary, procure a court order to
compel him to act. He cannot idly sit by and wait till this is done. He cannot
afterwards wash his hands and say that delay in the transmittal of the record on
appeal was not his fault. For, indeed, this duty imposed upon him was precisely
to spur on the slothful. (2 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court 480 [1979])."
Evidently, petitioner had no valid excuse to resort to the extraordinary writ of certiorari and
prohibition when appeal had been available to him and which he, in fact, already initiated but did
not pursue.
Petitioner, in questioning the Order of May 3, 1984 of respondent Judge Ordoez-Benitez,
claims that such order contravenes the law exempting retirement gratuity from legal process
and liens. We find merit in petitioner's stand in the light of the explicit provisions of Sec. 26 of
CA 186, as amended, which read as follows:
Sec. 26. Exemption from legal process and liens. No policy of life insurance
issued under this Act, or the proceeds thereof, when paid to any member
thereunder, nor any other benefit granted under this Act, shall be liable to
attachment, garnishment, or other process, or to be seized, taken,
appropriated,or applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of law to
pay any debt or liability of such member, of his beneficiary, or any other person
who may have a right thereunder, either before or after payment; nor shall the
proceeds thereof; when not made payable to a named beneficiary, constitute a
part of the estate of the member for payment of his debt; Provided, however,
That this section shall not apply when obligation, associated or bank or other
financial instituted, which is hereby authorized.
The aforecited freeze order of respondent Judge Benitez (directing PNB not to release any
portion of the retirement benefits due the petitioner) falls squarely within the restrictive
provisions of the aforequoted section. Notably, said section speaks of "any other benefit granted

under this Act," or "other process" and "applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of
law." This assailed order clearly violates the aforestated provision and is, therefore, illegal and
improper.
G.R. No 75410
Re the petition for certiorari and prohibition, the appellate court in dismissing the same, said:
But in this case, the petitioner could have appealed from the decision of Judge
Diaz. Instead, he announced he was not going to appeal. He was going to file a
petition for certiorari and prohibition as he in fact did in this case. This certainly
cannot be done, even under the most liberal view of practice and procedure.
Especially can this not be done when the questions raised do not relate either to
errors of jurisdiction or to grave abuse of discretion but, if at all, to errors of
judgment.
The default judgment dated February 20, 1986 of respondent Judge Diaz which ordered then
defendant PNB to desist and refrain from releasing to petitioner all monetary benefits and
emoluments due him as retirement benefits and to deliver one-half thereof to private respondent
also comes within the prohibition imposed by Sec. 26, as amended, of the GSIS Charter. This,
in effect, is also a freeze order.
The directive to deliver one-half (1/2) of the retirement benefits to private respondent makes the
default judgment doubly illegal because retirement benefits have been adjudged as gratuities or
reward for lengthy and faithful service of the recipient and should be treated as separate
property of the retiree-spouse. Thus, if the monetary benefits are given gratis by the government
because of previous work (like the retirement pay of a provincial auditor in Mendoza vs. Dizon,
L-387, October 25, 1956) or that of a Justice of the Peace (Elcar vs. Eclar, CA-40 O.G. 12th
Supp. No. 18, p. 86), this is a gratuity and should be considered separate property (Art. 148,
Civil Code).
In view of the foregoing, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. Let the records be remanded to
the trial courts of origin for further proceedings.
Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa, Cruz, and Gancayco, JJ., concur