Friday, August 12, 2016

Execution of judgment; prescriptive periods.


“x x x.

“This case falls under Section 6, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which states:

SEC.6. Execution by motion or by independent action. – A final and executory judgment or order may be executed on motion within five (5) years from the date of its entry. After the lapse of such time, and before it is barred by the statute of limitations, a judgment may be enforced by action. The revived judgment may also be enforced by motion within five (5) years from the date of its entry and thereafter by action before it is barred by the statute of limitations.”

x x x

“Indeed, both the RTC-42 and the CA were acting in accordance with the rules and jurisprudence when they dismissed the action for revival of judgment. Section 6 is clear. Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party can have it executed as a matter of right by mere motion within five (5) years from the date of entry of judgment. If the prevailing party fails to have the decision enforced by a motion after the lapse of five (5) years, the said judgment is reduced to a right of action which must be enforced by the institution of a complaint in a regular court within ten (10) years from the time the judgment becomes final.

An action for revival of judgment is governed by Article 1144 (3), Article 1152 of the Civil Code and Section 6, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Thus,

Art. 1144. The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues:

x x x x

(3) Upon a judgment

Article 1152 of the Civil Code states:

Art. 1152. The period for prescription of actions to demand the fulfillment of obligations declared by a judgment commences from the time the judgment became final.

To allow a strict application of the rules, however, would result in an injustice to petitioners considering (1) that respondent decided not to contest the RTC-43 decision and withdrew her appeal and (2) that no fault could be attributed to petitioners.

Petitioners could not afford to engage the services of a private counsel and so were represented by the PAO. As has been repeatedly stated all over the records, PAO, SAC-PAO in particular, failed them. SAC-PAO never informed them of the abandonment by respondent of her appeal or of the entry of judgment. Under the circumstances, they could not be faulted for their subsequent actions. They went to PAO-Dumaguete and they were told that the case was still pending on appeal. Due to their penury and unfamiliarity or downright ignorance of the rules, they could not be expected to bypass PAO-Dumaguete and directly verify the status of the case with the SAC-PAO. They had to trust their lawyer and wait.

No prejudice is caused to respondent because she withdrew her appeal. Withdrawing her appeal means that she respected the RTC-43 Decision, which voided the “Declaration of Heirship and Sale,” dismissed respondent’s counterclaim, and ordered her to reconvey the entire subject property to petitioners and to pay moral and exemplary damages plus the cost of suit. Since the decision became final and executory, she has been in possession of the property which rightfully belongs to petitioners. She will continue to hold on to the property just because of a technicality.

Due to the peculiarities of this case, the Court, in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, relaxes the rules and decides to allow the action for the revival of judgment filed by petitioners. The Court believes that it is its bounden duty to exact justice in every way possible and exercise its soundest discretion to prevent a wrong. Although strict compliance with the rules of procedure is desired, liberal interpretation is warranted in cases where a strict enforcement of the rules will not serve the ends of justice; and that it is a better rule that courts, under the principle of equity, will not be guided or bound strictly by the statute of limitations or the doctrine of laches when to do so, manifest wrong or injustice would result. Thus:

“x x x procedural rules may, nonetheless, be relaxed for the most persuasive of reasons in order to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure prescribed. Corollarily, the rule, which states that the mistakes of counsel bind the client, may not be strictly followed where observance of it would result in the outright deprivation of the client’s liberty or property, or where the interest of justice so requires.”

X x x.”