Venzon v. Spa Santos : 128308 : April 24, 2004 : J. Tinga : Second
Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 128308 : April 14, 2004]
SPS. SANTOS and GLORIA JUAN, DEPUTY SHERIFF VINCENT F. SUGUI and the
REGISTER OF DEEDS OF VALENZUELA, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Before the sale of property on execution, the Rules of Court1 require notices to be sent to the judgment debtor and to be posted in public
places. In case of real property with an
assessed value exceeding
P50,000. 00, publication of the notice is also
compulsory. The sale of property on
execution that does not conform to the requirements of notice and publication
is void.2 cralawred
While the Court finds
that petitioner failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence her assertion
that said requirements were not complied with, respondents knowledge of
petitioners claim warrants the granting of the petition.
Petitioner Marcelina Venzon is the possessor of the Lot12, Block 3 of the Encarnacion Gonzales Subdivision, Barrio Canumay,
Valenzuela, Metro Manila, since 1961 by virtue of a contract to sell executed
between her and Encarnacion Gonzales.
On July 25, 1989,
in Civil Case No. C-9665, Branch 126 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of CaloocanCityrendered a money judgment in
favor of private respondent spouses Santosand Gloria Juan against spouses Benjamin and Encarnacion Gonzales. Subsequently, the court issued a writ of
execution directing the sheriff to satisfy the judgment.
On October 25, 1990,
respondent spouses caused a notice of attachment/levy to be annotated as Entry
No. 24967 at the back of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. (39674)
T-613344, covering said Lot12, Block 3. On March 30, 1992, the property was sold
at public auction with respondent spouses as the highest bidders. A certificate of sale was issued in their
favor on April 20, 1992.
On August 13, 1992,
petitioner filed an adverse claim, Entry No. 37879, over the same
property. On December 29, 1993,
petitioner instituted a Complaint for Annulment of the sheriff sale, as
well as the certificate of sale in favor of respondent spouses, with the RTC of
Caloocan City, which case was assigned to Branch 131 thereof. Named defendants in the Complaint were
the spouses Juan, Deputy Sheriff Vincent F. Sugui and the Register of Deeds of
Simultaneous with the complaint, petitioner filed an action for
specific performance and damages with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board
(HLURB) against spouses Benjamin and Encarnacion Gonzales to compel the latter
to execute a deed of conveyance over the property in petitioners name. Petitioner alleged that she and Gonzales
executed a contract to sell in 1961 but, despite petitioners willingness to
complete her last installment, the latter refused to accept payment.
On November 4, 1994,
the Caloocan RTC, Branch 131, rendered a Decisionin petitioners
favor. The trial court found meritorious
the allegation of petitioner that she had no knowledge of the auction
sale. It held that while petitioner was
not entitled to personal notice of the auction sale since she was not the
registered owner of the subject property, good faith demanded that respondent
spouses, who were allegedly aware of petitioners purported right to the
property, inform the latter of the impending auction sale. The trial court also faulted respondent
spouses for failing to present the sheriff as witness or any document to attest
to the compliance with the notices required for a valid auction sale.
Respondent spouses elevated the case to the Court of Appeals,
which, in its Decision dated February 14, 1997, set aside the Decisionof the RTC. The Court of Appeals held, inter
alia, that the Rules of Court require only notice of the auction sale to
the judgment debtor, Encarnacion Gonzales, not to Marcelina Venzon, a mere
possessor of the property. Petitioner also failed to overcome the presumption
of regularity of performance in favor of the sheriff.
The Court of Appeals also found petitioner guilty of laches,
having slept on her rights for more than three years. The notice of levy was annotated at the back
of the TCT No. (39674) T-61344 on October
25, 1990. Petitioner filed
the complaint for annulment of the sheriffs sale and certificate of sale on December 29, 1993.
Petitioner is now before this Court seeking the reversal of the
adverse Decision of the Court of
Appeals and the reinstatement of the Decision of the RTC.3 cralawred
Prior to the revision of the Rules of Civil Procedure in 1997,
Section 18, Rule 394 thereof read as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SEC. 18. Notice of sale of
property on execution. Before the sale of property on execution, notice
thereof must be given as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
(a) In case of perishable
property, by posting written notice of the time and place of the sale in three
public places in the municipality or city where the sale is to take place, for
such time as may be reasonable, considering the character and condition of the
(c) In case of real
property, by posting for twenty (20) days in three public places in themunicipality or city where the property is
situated, a similar notice particularly describing the property and stating
also where the property is to be sold, and, if the assessed value of the
propertyexceeds fifty thousand pesos (
bypublishing a copy of the notice once
a week for two consecutive weeks in somenewspaper published or having general circulation in the province, if
there be one. If there are newspapers
published in the province in English and/or Filipino, then the publication
shall be made in one such newspaper.
(d) In all cases, written
notice of the sale shall be given to the judgment debtor.
The purpose of the posting (and the publication) of the notice
under Section 18 (c) is to let the
public know of the sale to the end that the best price or a better bid may be
made possible to minimize prejudice to the judgment debtor.5 cralawred
As the plaintiff claiming lack of notice of the auction sale was
posted and published in accordance with Section 18 (c),
it behooved petitioner
to prove such allegation. Whoever
asserts a right dependent for its existence upon a negative, must establish the
truth of the negative by a preponderance of the evidence.6 This must be the rule, or it must follow that rights, of which a negative forms
an essential element, may be enforced without proof.7 Thus, whenever the petitioners right depends upon the truth of a negative,
upon him is cast the onus probandi,
except in cases where the matter is peculiarly within the knowledge of the
adverse party.8 cralawred
It was error, therefore, for the trial court to hold that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Defendants did not present evidence to rebut the no notice
allegation of the plaintiff. Although in
the defendant spouses pre-trial brief, there is that general allegation that
the auction sale was made in accordance with law, however, there is no showing
in the record that the requirements with respect to publication/posting of
notices were complied with by the defendants.
Deliberating on the absence of notice, the fact that the plaintiff
did not come to know that Lot12 was being subjected to
an auction sale proves two things: one, that no notice was posted in the place
where the property is located [and, two, that] there was no auction sale that
took place on March 30, 1992.
Further, the defendants, particularly defendant sheriff, who is the
most competent person to testify that a written notice of sale was made and
posted in accordance with law, was not presented to the witness stand. Neither was a document presented like
Sheriffs Certificate of Posting to attest to the fact that a written notice of
sale was posted before the property was allegedly sold at public auction. In fact, the record is silent as (to) where
the auction sale was conducted.9 cralawred
By ruling in the foregoing manner, the trial court incorrectly
shifted the plaintiffs burden of proof to the defendants. It is true that the
fact of posting and publication of the notices is a matter peculiarly within
the knowledge of the Deputy Sheriff. However, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over him, as he
was not served with summons. At the time
of the filing of the complaint, he was no longer connected with the Caloocan
RTC, Branch 126, which issued the writ of execution.10 Hence, he could not testify in his own behalf.
It cannot be said that the fact of posting and publication is
peculiarly within the knowledge of respondent spouses. The duty imposed by Section 18 (c) is reposed
upon the sheriff, who is charged with the enforcement of the writ.11 Respondent spouses had a right to presume that he had regularly performed his
duty.12 It was not incumbent upon them to present him as a witness for, in the absence
of the sheriff, the burden to prove lack of posting and publication remained
Petitioner utterly failed to meet her burden. Other than her bare testimony that she did
not have knowledge of the impending auction sale, petitioner did not present
any evidence that notices of the sale were not posted and published. Petitioner could have taken pains to find the
sheriff and present him as a hostile witness, but did not do so. In the absence
of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, that presumption prevails.
Petitioner is not entitled to notice of the sale under Section 18 (d), which plainly requires
notice only to the judgment debtor, who, by such notice, is given the
opportunity to prevent the sale by paying the judgment debt sought to be
enforced and the costs which may have been incurred pursuant to Section 20 of
Rule 39.13 As the Court of Appeals pointed out, the judgment debtor is notpetitioner, but Encarnacion Gonzales. Since petitioner had no right to said notice, no cause of action could
arise from the lack of service thereof to her.
The levy on execution by respondent spouses, the judgment
creditors in Civil Case No. C-9665, created a lien in their favor over the right,
title and interest of the judgment debtor, Encarnacion Gonzales, in said
property at the time of the levy subject, however, to liens or encumbrances
then existing.14 The purchaser at the execution sale acquires only such right or interest as the
judgment debtor had on the property at the execution sale.15 At the time of the levy on execution, there was yet no annotation of
petitioners adverse claim appearing at the back of TCT No. (39674) T-613344;
indeed, the adverse claim was filed only after the auction sale of the
The rule is that it is the act of registration that operates to
convey registered land or affect title thereto registration in a public
registry creates constructive notice to the whole world.16 In the absence of registration, third persons cannot be charged with constructivenotice of dealings involving registered land. Thus, a person dealing with registered land may safely rely on the
correctness of the certificate of title issued therefor and the law will in no
way oblige him to go behind the certificate to determine the condition of the
Nevertheless, it is also settled that a purchaser cannot close
his eyes to facts that should put a reasonable man on his guard, and then claim
that he acted in good faith under the belief that there was no defect in the
title of the vendor.18 cralawred
The Petition in this case alleges that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
6. The petitioner had been
in possession of the property since the time of the execution of the contract
to sell in 1961. She even constructed a
fence thereon with the help of her son, her daughter-in-law, and also of her
neighbors in the person of none other than the respondent-spouses JUAN.
7. The respondent-spouses
who were neighbors of the petitioner had actual knowledge of the interest of
the latter over the lot in question. As
a matter of fact, they even volunteered to oversee the same for her.19 cralawred
Respondent spouses denied these allegations in their unverified Commentbefore this Court, claiming that they met petitioner only after they acquired
the property at the auction sale and [after] they started cleaning the area.20 cralawred
Petitioner, however, adduced sufficient evidence to support her
claim that respondent spouses had actualknowledge, or at least facts
that should have put them on guard, that petitioner had a pre-existing claim to
the property. Petitioners brother,
Atty. Conrado Venzon, testified that respondent spouses knew very well that
[the subject] lot belongs to [his] sister and that is why [his] sister was very
angry about respondent spouses levying on the property.21 Atty. Venzon,
Petitioner, and even the latters caretaker also testified that
respondent spouses, and even their son,22 actually helped in constructing the fence around the property.23 The caretaker said that the construction of the fence took place sometime in
1967,24 or long before respondent spouses levy on execution in 1990. Petitioner even asked respondent spouses to
oversee the property.25 Respondent spouses did not refute these testimonies during the trial, having
waived their right to present testimonial evidence.26 cralawred
Respondent spouses actual knowledge of petitioners interest in
the property renders the lack of annotation of the adverse claim at the back of
the TCT irrelevant. From respondent
Petitioner, at the time of the levy, had a claim over the
subject lot although the same was actually in the name of the judgment debtor,
Encarnacion Gonzales. Their acquisition
of such property at the execution sale is, therefore, subject to the perfection
of petitioners claim to ownership.
The Court of Appeals found that laches had set in against
petitioner. The equitable doctrine of
laches is not available to shield wrongdoing on the part of whoever would
invoke it.27 As respondent spouses are guilty of bad faith in levying on the property
despite actual knowledge of petitioners pre-existing claim, the defense of
laches is not available to them.
Respondent spouses charge petitioner with violating the rule
against forum-shopping by the simultaneous institution by the latter of the
action before the HLURB with the action before the RTC.28 Forum-shopping is the institution of two or more actions or proceedings
grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court might
look with favor upon the party.29 cralawred
The HLURB Complaintis grounded upon the alleged refusal
of the therein respondent Encarnacion Gonzales to accept payment of the balance
of the purchase price in accordance with the contract to sell between her and
petitioner, causing damage to the latter.30 It prayed for, among other things, the conveyance of the subject property to, and an award of damages in favor of, petitioner.31 cralawred
On the other hand, the action before the RTC arose from the
purported failure of the defendant deputy sheriff, in connivance with
respondent spouses, to notify petitioner of the auction sale, for which
petitioner suffered damage.32 It asked for, among other things, the annulment of the certificate of said sale
as well as an adjudication of damages.33 cralawred
Plainly, the two actions spring from different causes arising
from different factual circumstances and seek different reliefs. The charge of forum-shopping is patently
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals is
SET ASIDE. Respondent Spouses Santos and
Gloria Juan are ordered to respect the rights of petitioner Marcelina Venzons
to the subject property as stated in the contract to sell executed between
petitioner and Encarnacion Gonzales.
Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, and Callejo, Sr.,
Rule 39, sec. 18 (now sec. 15, per the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure).
. Court of Appeals, 116 Phil. 839 (1962).
Petitioner subsequently informed this Court by way of Manifestation
that the HLURB rendered a Decision
, dated October 9, 1997, ordering:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
1. Respondents [Benjamin and
Encarnacion Gonzales] to execute the deed of conveyance for Lot 12, Block 3 of
the Encarnacion Gonzales Subdivision in favor of complainant [Marcelina Venzon]
immediately after receipt of the last and full payment of the purchase price;
and to cause the issuance of title therefor in favor of complainant;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
2. Respondents to pay
as moral damages and P5,000. 00 as exemplary damages;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
3. Respondents to pay
as and by way of attorneys fees;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
4. Respondents to pay cost of
suit. (Rollo, pp. 123-124.)
The HLURB decision allegedly became
final and executory on April 12, 2000.
Now Section 15 of the same Rule, providing:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SEC. 15. Notice of sale of property on execution. Before
the sale of property on execution, notice thereof must be given as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
(a) In case of perishable property, by posting written
notice of the time and place of the sale in three (3) public places, preferably
in conspicuous areas of the municipal or city hall, post office and public
market in the municipality or city where the sale is to take place, for such
time as may be reasonable, considering the character and condition of the
(b) In case of other personal property, by posting a similar
notice in the three (3) public places above-mentioned for not less than five
(c) In case of real property,by posting for twenty (20) days in the three
(3) public places above-mentioned a similar notice particularly describing the
property and stating where the property is to be sold, and if the assessed
value of the property exceeds fifty thousand (
P50,000. 00) pesos, by
publishing a copy of the notice once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in
one newspaper selected by raffle, whether in English, Filipino, or any major
regional language published, edited and circulated or, in the absence thereof,
having general circulation in the province or city;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(d) In all cases, written notice of the sale shall be given
to the judgment obligor, at least three (3) days before the sale, except as
provided in paragraph (a) hereof where notice shall be given at any time before
the sale, in the same manner as personal service of pleadings and other papers
as provided by section 6 of Rule 13.
The notice shall specify the place, date and exact time of
the sale which should not be earlier than nine
oclockin the morning and not later than two oclockin the afternoon. The place of the sale may be agreed upon by
the parties. In the absence of such
agreement, the sale of real property or personal property not capable of manual
delivery shall be held in the office of the clerk of the Regional Trial Court
or the Municipal Trial Court which issued the writ or which was designated by
the appellate court. In the case of
personal property capable of manual delivery, the sale shall be held in the
place where the property is located.
I Rice, F. S. The General Principles of
the Law of Evidence 437.
Rules of Court, rule 39, sec. 8.
rule 131, sec. 3
Torres v. Cabling, supra
5. Now Section 18, Rule 39, per
1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, which states:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SEC. 18. No sale if judgment and costs paid. At any
time before the sale of property on execution, the judgment obligor may prevent
the sale by paying the amount required by the execution and the costs that have
been incurred therein.
Rules of Court,rule 39, sec. 16 (now
sec. 12 of the 1997 Revised Rules on Civil Procedure).
China Banking Corporation, 364 SCRA 638; Potenciano v
. Dineros, G. R. No.
L-7614, May 31, 1955.
Spouses Uy v
. Court of Appeals, 411 Phil. 788 (2001).
TSN, August 11, 1994, p. 6
(Records, p. 106).
TSN, August 11, 1994, pp.
13-14 (Records, pp. 112-113).
TSN, August 9, 1994, p. 5
(Records, p. 77); TSN, August 11, 1994,
p. 9 (Records, p. 108).
TSN, August 11, 1994, p. 15
(Records, p. 114).
TSN, August 9, 1994, p. 7
(Records, p. 79).
TSN, September 2, 1994, p. 3
(Records, p. 231); Order dated September
2, 1994(Records, p. 227).
. Intermediate Appellate Court, G. R. No. 68747, July 13, 1990, 187 SCRA 397.
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