G.R. No. 167140, 23 November 2011, 365 SCRA 1
This case involves five registered parcels of land located within the Antonio Subdivision, Pasig City – Lots 6, 7, 8, and 10 of Block 2 and Lot 8 of Block 8 (subject properties). These lots were originally owned by, and titled in the name of, Jose C. Zulueta , as evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 26105. TCT No. 26105 contains several lots, other than the subject properties, within the Antonio Subdivision. Later, the Zulueta spouses mortgaged several lots contained in TCT No. 26105 to the GSIS, which eventually foreclosed on the mortgaged properties, including the subject properties. Upon consolidation of GSIS’s ownership, TCT No. 26105 in Zulueta’s name was cancelled, and TCT No. 2355410 was issued in GSIS’s name.
Upon learning of the foreclosure, petitioners’ predecessor, Francisco Dela Merced (Dela Merced) filed a complaint praying for the nullity of the GSIS foreclosure on the subject properties (Lots 6, 7, 8, and 10 of Block 2 and Lot 8 of Block 8) on the ground that he, not the Zuluetas, was the owner of these lots at the time of the foreclosure. Dela Merced also impleaded Victor and Milagros Manlongat, who were claiming Lot 6, Block 2 by virtue of a sale executed by the GSIS in their daughter’s (Elizabeth Manlongat) favor. Dela Merced argued that, due to the nullity of GSIS’s foreclosure over the subject properties, it had no ownership right that could be transferred to Elizabeth Manlongat.
Dela Merced caused the annotation of lis pendens on GSIS’s TCT No. 23554 on September 21, 1984 in order to protect his interests in the subject properties. Dela Merced died in 1988 and was substituted by his heirs, the petitioners in the instant case. After a protracted litigation, the case reached this Court as G.R. No. 140398. On September 11, 2001, a Decision was rendered in petitioners’ favor. The Court nullified GSIS’s foreclosure of the subject properties because these lots were never part of its mortgage agreement with the Zulueta spouses. Judgment was entered on April 23, 2002. A writ of execution was issued on July 24, 2003 but held in abeyance due to some issues.
1. Can GSIS still raise the issue of exemption?
2. Whether a final and executory judgment against GSIS and Manlongat can be enforced against their successors-in-interest or holders of derivative titles.
3. Whether an order to cancel title to a particular property includes an order to provide technical descriptions and segregate it from its mother title
On the issue of GSIS’s exemption
The issue of GSIS’s alleged exemption under RA 8291 had been finally decided against GSIS in G.R. No. 173391, when this Court denied GSIS’s petition for review. The denial rendered the CA Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 87821 final and executory. GSIS’s attempt to resurrect the same issue by interjecting the same in this proceeding is barred by the principle of “law of the case,” which states that “determinations of questions of law will generally be held to govern a case throughout all its subsequent stages where such determination has already been made on a prior appeal to a court of last resort.” The Decision in G.R. No. 173391 allowing the execution of the judgment against GSIS is the “law of the case” and controls the proceedings below which are already in the execution stage.
Enforcement of judgment against transferees pendente lite
“A notice of lis pendens is an announcement to the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation, serving as a warning that one who acquires an interest over said property does so at his own risk, or that he gambles on the result of the litigation over the said property.”
The Court cannot accept GSIS’s theory that the dispositive portion of the Decision in G.R. No. 140398 is enforceable only against GSIS’s title because it does not contain the phrase “and all its derivative titles.” GSIS’s narrow interpretation would render nugatory the principle that a final judgment against a party is binding on his privies and successors-in-interest. We cannot sustain this interpretation. In Cabresos v. Judge Tiro, the Court upheld the respondent judge’s issuance of an alias writ of execution against the successors-in-interest of the losing litigant despite the fact that these successors-in-interest were not mentioned in the judgment and were never parties to the case. The Court explained that an action is binding on the privies of the litigants even if such privies are not literally parties to the action. Their inclusion in the writ of execution does not vary or exceed the terms of the judgment. In the same way, the inclusion of the “derivative titles” in the writ of execution will not alter the Decision in G.R. No. 140398 ordering the cancellation of GSIS’s title.
Cancellation of title
The order contained in the Decision in G.R. No. 140398 is for the RD to cancel GSIS’s titles over Lot 10, Block 2 and Lot 8, Block 8, inter alia. Whether these titles are individual or contained in a mother title is of no consequence. The RD has to cause their cancellation. If the cancellation can only be carried out by requiring GSIS or the Bureau of Lands to provide the necessary information, then they can be compelled to do so. Otherwise, the Court’s decision would be rendered inefficacious, and GSIS would retain ostensible ownership over the lots by the simple expedience that they are included in a mother title, instead of individual titles. That result is manifestly contrary to the Court’s ruling and would subvert the very purpose of bringing this case for a complete resolution.
When a judgment calls for the issuance of a new title in favor of the winning party (as in the instant case), it logically follows that the judgment also requires the losing party to surrender its title for cancellation. It is the only sensible way by which the decision may be enforced. To this end, petitioners can obtain a court order requiring the registered owner to surrender the same and directing the entry of a new certificate of title in petitioners’ favor. The trial court should have granted petitioners’ motion for supplemental writ of execution as it had authority to issue the necessary orders to aid the execution of the final judgment.
*Case digest by Paul C. Gandola, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020