G.R. No. 165403 - INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE BANK v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.
[G.R. NO. 165403 : February 27, 2006]
INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE BANK, Petitioner, v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, THE HON. ANTONIO M. ESTEVES, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of RTC Branch V, Baguio City, and AYALA LAND INCORPORATED, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Before Us is a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Civil Procedure seeking to annul the Court of Appeals' Decision1 for having been issued in excess of its jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, which affirmed the assailed Orders2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, Branch V, dated 30 April 2003 and 18 June 2003, respectively, denying petitioner's Motion to Dismiss and granting private respondent Ayala Land Inc.'s application for Writ of Preliminary Injunction.
Ostensibly appearing from the records is a Deed of Absolute Sale executed on 15 June 2000 between Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) and Corporate Investment Philippines, Inc. (CIPI) involving two parcels of land located in Baguio City covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) No. T-63905 and No. T-63906 registered in the name of CIPI. However, said conveyance was not immediately registered with the Registry of Deeds of Baguio City.
On 21 July 2000, CIPI filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) a Petition for the Declaration of Suspension of Payments to recover its liquidity. However, upon the passage of Republic Act No. 8799 (Securities Regulation Code), CIPI's petition was effectively transferred to the Pasig RTC. CIPI's petition was ordered dismissed by the Pasig RTC on 16 April 2001. With the said dismissal, CIPI thereafter filed a Petition for Rehabilitation with the Pasig RTC, which was subsequently dismissed. Finally, on 26 February 2002, CIPI filed with the Pasig RTC a Petition for Voluntary Insolvency.
Meanwhile, sometime in March 2001, International Exchange Bank (iBank) filed before the RTC of Makati City, Branch 64, an action for sum of money against CIPI with an application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment. Upon hearing, the Makati RTC issued the Writ of Preliminary Attachment directing its Sheriff to levy on attachment properties registered in the name of CIPI. Since the TCTs of the two parcels of land supposedly bought by ALI from CIPI in June 2000 were still registered under the latter's name, the Sheriff of the Makati RTC levied the said property on 18 May 2001.
On 08 March 2002, CIPI was declared insolvent. Six months thereafter, on 06 September 2002, ALI registered the 15 June 2000 Deed of Absolute Sale with the Registry of Deeds of Baguio City which issued new TCTs in the name of ALI and cancelled TCTs No. T-63905 and No. T-63906. The new titles carried over the annotations of the levy on attachment contained in the cancelled titles. Thus, on 11 February 2003, ALI filed an action for Quieting of Title and/or Removal of Annotations with Prayer for the Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction against iBank, the Registry of Deeds of Baguio City, and the Sheriff of the Makati RTC who implemented the writ of attachment. On 12 February 2003, it appears that ALI caused the annotation of lis pendens over the disputed titles.
Herein petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss ALI's action as well as an opposition to the latter's application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. It is iBank's contention, among other things, that the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction is improper because the levy on attachment is superior to the deed of sale as said levy was registered ahead of ALI's deed of sale. Furthermore, iBank maintains that the annotation of lis pendens availed of by ALI is already adequate remedy to protect its interest over the disputed properties.
After both parties presented their respective evidence, the court a quo issued the Order dated 30 April 2003, pertinent portions of which reads:
The Court finds petitioner ALI's application for injunction to be primarily based on its apprehension that execution sale may proceed if not restrained as there might be potential buyers or third parties who may bid and purchase at the auction the subject properties. The Court is not oblivious of the fact that ALI itself caused the annotation of lis pendens. To the mind of the Court, lis pendens sufficiently protects petitioner's interests. With lis pendens, any potential buyer or third party is adequately informed that the disputed properties are subject of an on-going litigation. In other words, a third party who buys the properties can not invoke the right of a purchaser in good faith and he takes them at peril since whatever judgment will be rendered in this instant case will affect and bind the properties. Nevertheless, notice of lis pendens will not prevent a disposition of the properties to third persons who will now be free to develop and transform its present character and the use thereof which might be entirely different from what might be intended by ALI and which might give rise to other graver consequences, e.g. multiplicity of suits. Thusly, to prevent the occurrence of such other consequences, the parties are hereby enjoined to maintain the status quo over the subject properties until after the proper determination of the case in chief.
x x x x
As for the other grounds for the dismissal of this case, the Court deems it proper to deny the same as it raises material issues, both legal and factual, which is evidentiary in nature and to be presented during the hearing of the merits of the case itself. It would be prudent for the Court to accord more time and opportunity for both parties to litigate, or present further evidence in support of their respective positions. That way, the Court will be more apprised of the veracity and tenability of their respective claims.
WHEREFORE, the motion to dismiss is hereby DENIED; and the respondents are hereby directed to file their answer in the above-entitled case within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.
Further, the parties, their assigns, representatives, agents and successors-in-interests are hereby enjoined to maintain the status quo over the subject properties until after the determination of the merits of the petition.3
After receipt of the foregoing Order, iBank immediately filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was subsequently denied by the lower court in the Order dated 18 June 2003. According to the court a quo:
x x x However, the Court notes in Ayala's Opposition and Rejoinder, that aside from defending the status quo Order, it asks that the Court issue the writ of preliminary injunction it had originally sought. Pursuant to this Court's power to control and amend its processes so as to make them conformable to law and practice (Rule 135, Sec. 5 (g), it has decided to squarely rule on the application.
With respect to the plaintiff's application for a writ of preliminary injunction, the requisites are: 1) a right in esse (or the existence of a right to be protected); 2) the act against which the injunction is to be directed is violative of such right (Buayan Cattle Co. v. Quintillan, 128 SCRA 276; Sales v. SEC, G.R. No. 54330, 13 January 1989); and 3) irreparable damage. A trial is allowed to determine the foregoing from a "sampling" of the evidence (Olalia v. Hizon, 196 SCRA 665). This Court is convinced, from the evidence so far presented, of the prima facie presence of the requisites.4
x x x x
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Motion for Reconsideration of defendant International Exchange Bank is DENIED for lack of merit.
The petitioner's application for a writ of preliminary injunction is GRANTED. Upon posting by petitioner and approval by the Court of a bond in the amount of P2,000,000.00 in favor of International Exchange Bank, let a writ of preliminary injunction issue enjoining:
a) Private respondent International Exchange Bank and public respondent Sheriff of RTC-Makati, and all those acting on their behalf, or under their instructions, from doing any act committed or intended to be committed within the territorial jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, pursuant to, or which would otherwise implement the sale of the lands under Ayala's TCT Nos. T-78276 and T-78277, such as but not limited to i) annotating or causing the annotation of the judgment or the writ of execution in Civil Case No. 01-537 on said TCT Nos. T-78276 and T-78277; ii) posting of notices within Baguio City; iii) advertising the sale in a newspaper of general circulation; iv) issuing and presenting for registration, any certificate of sale or deed of sale intended to be registered before with the respondent Register of Deeds of Baguio City; andcralawlibrary
b) Public respondent Register of Deeds of Baguio City from registering any sale, conveyance or encumbrance based on the Notice of Levy on Attachment or any execution made by respondent Sheriff of Makati-RTC.5
Thus, on 20 August 2003, petitioner iBank filed a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus before the Court of Appeals seeking to set aside the 30 April 2003 and 18 June 2003 Orders of the RTC for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
On 26 May 2004, the appellate court dismissed the petition in this wise:
With regard to the issue raised by petitioner regarding the status quo order, we find no reason to discuss the same considering that it has become moot and academic with the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction. The court should refrain from expressing its opinion in a case in which no practical relief may be granted in view of a supervening event. x x x
x x x x
x x x In the instant case, we find nothing whimsical, arbitrary or capricious in the trial court's Order directing the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. The trial court found the requisites for the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction to be attendant after its evaluation of the evidence presented by both contending parties. The same has been sufficiently discussed in its Order granting the same and we find no reason to disturb such findings.
x x x x
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED.6
Petitioner iBank's Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing decision was consequently denied in a resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 13 August 2004.
Hence the instant petition for certiorari alleging that:
I. Public respondent judge and the Court of Appeals gravely abused their discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction for issuing and allowing the issuance, respectively, of the status quo order dated April 30, 2003, and for subsequently allowing the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction without basis and without Ayala Land moving for the reconsideration of the status quo order;
II. Public respondent judge and Court of Appeals gravely abused their discretion when they granted and/or allowed injunction to remain by ascribing bad faith to petitioner bank, where there is none, while exempting Ayala Land from its palpable bad faith and illegal act of transferring insolvent CIPI's properties against a court order prohibiting such transfer.7
The petition must fail.
Petitioner's Petition for Certiorari should be dismissed for adopting the wrong mode of appeal. Petitioner received the Court of Appeals' resolution denying its Motion for Reconsideration on 19 August 2004. Petitioner's remedy should have been to appeal before this Court from the resolution of the appellate court by filing a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure within 15 days from receipt of said resolution. Instead, on 13 October 2004, or 55 days after receipt of said resolution, petitioner filed before this Court its Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Certiorari praying that it be given an extension of 15 days within which to file its petition. Presumably, petitioner resorted to this special civil action because it had failed to take an appeal within the 15-day reglementary period which expired on 03 September 2004.
This Court has already elucidated in numerous cases that the special civil action for certiorari cannot be used as a substitute for an appeal which the petitioner already lost.8 We have time and again reminded members of the bench and bar that a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 lies only when "there is no appeal nor plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law."9 Certiorari cannot be allowed when a party to a case fails to appeal a judgment to the proper forum despite the availability of that remedy,10 certiorari not being a substitute for lost appeal.11
Furthermore, there is no reason why the question being raised by petitioner, i.e., whether the appellate court committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petition, could not have been raised on appeal.12 Mere errors of judgment cannot be the proper subject of a special civil action for certiorari .13 Where the issue or question involved affects the wisdom or legal soundness of the decision - not the jurisdiction of the court to render said decision - the same is beyond the province of a special civil action for certiorari .14 Erroneous findings and conclusions do not render the appellate court vulnerable to the corrective writ of certiorari, for where the court has jurisdiction over the case, even if its findings are not correct, they would, at the most, constitute errors of law and not abuse of discretion correctible by certiorari .15
Admittedly, this Court, in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court and in the interest of justice, has the discretion to treat a petition for certiorari as a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45, especially if filed within the reglementary period for filing a Petition for Review .16 However, the circumstances in the instant case do not justify the liberal application of the rules. Notably, the instant petition was filed beyond the 15-day reglementary period provided for under Rule 45 without any justifiable explanation being presented by petitioner. In fact, petitioner even prayed for an extension of time to file its petition after 55 days had already lapsed from its receipt of the appellate court's resolution denying its Motion for Reconsideration. Clearly, petitioner's resort to this special civil action as a substitute for its lost appeal cannot be countenanced.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED. With costs.
1 CA-G.R. SP No. 78691, dated 26 May 2004, penned by Associate Justice Eloy R. Bello, Jr. with Associate Justices Mario L. Guariña III and Santiago Javier Ranada, concurring.
2 Civil Case No. 5451-R, penned by Judge Antonio M. Esteves.
3 Rollo, pp. 88-89.
4 Id., p. 92.
5 Id., p. 98.
6 Id., pp. 82-84.
7 Rollo, p. 41.
8 The President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 151280, 10 June 2004, 431 SCRA 682, 688, citing Conejos v. Court of Appeals, 435 Phil. 849, 855 (2002); Land Bank of the Philippines v. Continental Watchman Agency Incorporated, G.R. 136114, 22 January 2004, 420 SCRA 624, 630, citing Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, 341 Phil. 413, 425 (1997); Republic v. Court of Appeals, 379 Phil. 92, 97 (2000).
9 Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, 341 Phil. 413, 425 (1997); Dela Paz v. Panis, 315 Phil. 238, 248 (1995).
10 Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, 341 Phil. 413, 425 (1997).
11 Republic v. Court of Appeals, 379 Phil. 92, 97 (2000); Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, 341 Phil. 413, 425 (1997); Felizardo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112050, 15 June 1994, 233 SCRA 220, 224.
12 The President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 151280, 10 June 2004, 431 SCRA 682, 688, citing Conejos v. Court of Appeals, 435 Phil. 849, 855 (2002); Land Bank of the Philippines v. Continental Watchman Agency Incorporated, G.R. 136114, 22 January 2004, 420 SCRA 624, 630, citing Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, 341 Phil. 413, 425 (1997); Republic v. Court of Appeals, 379 Phil. 92, 97 (2000).
13 Zapata v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 77827, 5 July 1989, 175 SCRA 56, 60.
14 New York Marine Managers, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 319 Phil. 538, 542-543 (1995).
15 New York Marine Managers, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 319 Phil. 538, 542-543 (1995), citing Planters Products, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 76591, 6 February 1991, 193 SCRA 563, 569.
16 Land Bank of the Philippines v. Continental Watchman Agency Incorporated, G.R. 136114, 22 January 2004, 431 SCRA 682, 688, citing Delsan Transport Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 1066, 1075 (1997); The President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 151280, 10 June 2004, 431 SCRA 682, 688, citing Republic v. Court of Appeals, 379 Phil. 92, 97 (2000).
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