G.R. No. 175338 - G.R. No. 175338 - J. NACHURA - DISSENTING OPINION
[G.R. NO. 175338 : April 29, 2008]
AIR MATERIEL WING SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION, INC., COL. RICARDO L. NOLASCO, [JR.], PAF (Ret.); COL. THADDEUS P. ESTALILLA, PAF (Ret.); COL. ISMAEL A. ABAD; 2LT. MORADO O. MERCADO, PAF (Ret.); 2LT. CESAR S. TOLEDANES, PAF (Ret.); COL. DOMINGO E. DIMAPILIS JR., PAF; COL. ANTONIO S. GUMBA, PAF (Ret.); 2LT. RICARDO P. PERIDO; 2LT. CEDRIC V. REYES, PAF (Ret.); BGEN. RUBEN C. ESTEPA, PAF (Ret.); COL. ANGEL E. TAPAC, PAF (Ret.); and MAJ. ROLANDO S. CACABELOS, PAF (Ret.), Petitioner, v. COL. LUVIN S. MANAY, PNP (Ret.); COL. ANTONIO MANTUANO, PAF (Ret.); COL. ANSELMO R. GERONIMO, PAF (Ret.); MAJ. JOSE A. ELAURZA, PAF (Ret.); LT. JOHNSON NESTOR OCFEMIA, PAF (Ret.); and HON. JESUS B. MUPAS, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASAY CITY, BRANCH 117, Respondent.
The majority has voted to deny the respondents' Omnibus Motion purely on procedural grounds.
First, the correct remedy for the respondents to seek the annulment of the appellate court's Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is to file a motion for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals (CA), and upon its denial, to file a petition for certiorari and prohibition before this Court. Second, the Omnibus Motion was filed without the payment of docket fees which is an indispensable requirement before this Court can take cognizance of a case. Third, the motion is so wanting in form and substance. Lastly, respondents are guilty of forum shopping.
With all due respect, I must dissent.
The procedural infirmities enumerated in the ponencia are more apparent than real.
The special civil action for certiorari with the CA cannot be considered a new, separate and independent case. In that action, the very same petitioners (as in this case) sought the CA's intervention to annul and restrain implementation of the RTC's December 10, 2007 Order, and to which the CA obliged.
But the RTC's December 10, 2007 Order was issued merely to implement our October 9, 2007 decision. Note that the RTC's December 10 Order was issued in compliance with our October 9 ruling. Accordingly, when the CA issued the TRO against the December 10 RTC order, the CA effectively restrained the enforcement of our October 9 decision. Certainly, we should not countenance such an affront to our authority.
In the face of the TRO issued by the CA, it was a natural reaction for the respondents to come rushing back to us for relief, not through a new petition, but through a Motion filed in the same case. This notwithstanding the Comment they already filed before the CA. Contrary to the majority opinion that this is a clear case of forum shopping, I maintain that the instant motion is the correct and proper remedy of the respondents. After all, this was merely an incident flowing from the execution of our October 9, 2007 decision. To require the respondents to file a separate and independent action to challenge the CA order would lead to an absurd situation where we would be setting up procedural barriers to prevent the enforcement of our own decision.
I am also in favor of writing finis to this controversy, in order to restore the stability and integrity of AMWSLAI as an institution - but not at the expense of the circumvention, if not the outright disregard, of our October 9, 2007 decision. A brief reference to the key facts is necessary to illustrate how the petitioners repeatedly committed acts of defiance to the lawful orders of the court.
On October 9, 2007, the Court rendered a Decision1 affirming with modification the Court of Appeals' Decision dated August 15, 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No. 92372 and lifting the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it earlier issued. The Court ordered respondents, together with petitioners Nolasco, Jr., Estalilla and Mercado, to assume office and remain as trustees of AMWSLAI until the election and proclamation of winners in a valid, lawful and orderly election.
On October 15, 2007, respondents filed an Omnibus Motion2 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)3 seeking the implementation of the order of reinstatement which was earlier restrained by the Court. The RTC, however, deferred action on the motion on the ground that our October 9 Decision had yet to attain finality, a Motion for Reconsideration4 having been filed by petitioners. On December 3, 2007, the Court issued a Resolution5 denying with finality petitioners' motion for reconsideration. This notwithstanding, petitioners filed a Motion for Leave to Admit Attached Second Motion for Reconsideration.6 The Court denied the motion for leave considering that it is a prohibited pleading, and consequently, noted without action the attached second motion for reconsideration.
Meanwhile, in view of the denial of petitioners' motion for reconsideration, on December 10, 2007, the RTC issued an Order7 implementing the October 9 Decision. To implement said Order, Sheriff Virgilio F. Villar initially declared vacant the positions held by the incumbent members of the Board of Trustees. He then asked the three petitioners (who were ordered reinstated by the Court) to join respondents in the AMWSLAI board room in order to reinstate all of them and to seat them as Interim AMWSLAI Board of Trustees. Petitioners, however, refused to obey the court order. Though they were technically reinstated, respondents were allegedly prevented by petitioners ("incumbent" members) from discharging their lawful duties.
Petitioners then instituted a special civil action for certiorari with prayer for TRO before the Court of Appeals (CA), questioning the RTC's December 10 Order.8 The case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 101627. On December 20, 2007, the CA issued a TRO restraining the enforcement of the December 10 Order.9 Specifically, it enjoined the "reinstated" members from discharging their rights and duties.
Thereupon, the "incumbent members" of the Board adopted a Resolution on December 3, 2007 calling for a General Membership Meeting and Election of the members of the Board on January 18, 2008. The election was held as scheduled.10
Respondents now come before the Court in this Very Urgent Omnibus Motion: 1) to lift the TRO issued by the CA; 2) to annul the election conducted on January 18, 2008 and the results thereof; and 3) to declare in contempt of court individuals defying our October 9, 2007 Decision. Petitioners vehemently oppose said omnibus motion.
I vote to partly grant the omnibus motion.
Records show that notwithstanding the finality of this Court's October 9 Decision, petitioners continue to show acts of resistance and have resorted to every ploy to circumvent, if not actually frustrate, the enforcement of our decision.
In their motion for reconsideration which we denied with finality on December 3, 2007, petitioners raised a new issue to justify their acts of resistance: that subsequent events made it impossible to reinstate respondents to their respective positions. They claimed that there was an election of Board members held in December 2006, and so they argued that there was no more practical need to order the reinstatement of respondents for the simple reason that the positions they previously held had already been filled up through a valid and legal election.11 However, in petitioners' memorandum, which they filed on April 25, 2007, no allegation of such fact was made. Neither was it included as one of their arguments in support of their petition. Considering that the alleged event took place before the promulgation of our Decision and even before the filing of their memorandum, it cannot be considered a supervening event that may be raised for the first time in a motion for reconsideration. Thus, we denied their motion with finality.
Nonetheless, I would like to point out that when the election was conducted in December 2006, the CA already rendered a decision annulling the 2005 election. Petitioners, therefore, had full knowledge that they no longer had the authority to occupy the contested positions. Obviously, the election in December 2006 was conducted in haste, the board resolution calling for such was adopted in bad faith, and the same was resorted to for the purpose of defeating the appellate court's decision. I cannot condone such action. Thus, I refuse to impress that election with the stamp of validity.
This Court's October 9, 2007 Decision had attained finality. Its execution was simply a ministerial duty on the part of the RTC. As such, the RTC's December 10, 2007 Order suffered no infirmity; thus, it could not be the proper subject of a writ of certiorari or a TRO. Otherwise stated, the questioned RTC order only implements a lawful and final order of the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that the TRO issued by the CA dated December 20, 2007 rendered inutile the October 9 Decision of this Court. It created an absurd situation in which the CA enjoined the implementation of a final and executory decision of the Supreme Court. The TRO, likewise, paved the way for the "incumbent members" of the Board to exercise powers which they were no longer entitled to - - - calling for and conducting the general membership assembly meeting and election of board members.
Pursuant to the policy of judicial stability, the judgment or order of a court of competent jurisdiction may not be interfered with by any court of concurrent jurisdiction (more so by a court of lower jurisdiction) for the simple reason that the power to open, modify or validate a judgment or order is not only exercised by, but is restricted to, the court which rendered the judgment or order. A contrary rule would lead to confusion and seriously hamper the administration of justice.12 Thus, in the interest of justice and to give effect to our decision, I am for the lifting of the TRO issued by the CA on December 20, 2007.
Contrary to the petitioners' contention that the authority to lift the TRO is vested only in the CA which issued it, this Court is not powerless to order its lifting and consequent nullification. Settled is the rule that the tribunal which rendered the decision or award has a general supervision and control over the process of its execution, and this includes the power to determine every question of fact and law which may be involved in the execution.13
This Court's Decision was promulgated on October 9, 2007, and the subsequent resolution denying the motion for reconsideration was issued on December 3, 2007. This notwithstanding, the "incumbent members" of the Board called a general assembly and election of new members of the AMWSLAI Board of Trustees. Considering their knowledge of the aforesaid decision and resolution and despite the already existing order of implementation issued by the RTC, an election was again14 called and conducted with obvious haste, in a transparent attempt to circumvent the decision of this Court. Indeed, petitioners have acted in bad faith and defied, as they continue to defy, the lawful orders of the Court. This I cannot permit.
Pursuant to our October 9 Decision, I continue to recognize respondents and the three petitioners (namely, Nolasco, Jr., Estalilla and Mercado) as the rightful occupants of the positions of members of the Board until the election and proclamation of the winners in a valid, lawful and peaceful election. Consequently, they alone are empowered to call such election.
I believe that the most practical approach to settle the present controversy and to restore the orderly conduct of the business of the association is to direct the respondents and the petitioners (whose entitlement to sit as members of the Board of Trustees we upheld) to convene as an Interim Board of Trustees of AMWSLAI. Thereupon, they should, once and for all, call for the holding of the election of the association's board members and conduct the same at the soonest possible time.
The most important part of a litigation, whether civil or criminal, is the process of execution of decisions, in which supervening events may change the circumstance of the parties and compel courts to intervene and adjust the rights of the litigants to prevent unfairness. It is because of these unforeseen, supervening contingencies that the inherent and necessary power of control of court processes and orders have been conceded to the courts to make them conformable to law and justice.15
In view of the finality of this Court's October 9, 2007 Decision, undoubtedly, the RTC's December 10, 2007 Order is also valid. Considering the public interest involved, especially that of the members who have entrusted their hard-earned money to the association, I cannot allow the perpetration of any act that would delay and impede the implementation of this Court's decision. Thus, I find no reason for the special civil action for certiorari filed before the CA to continue. To allow it to proceed would open the doors to further delay in the resolution of the present issues, and worse, allow the CA to rule on matters already resolved with finality by this Court. Hence, the dismissal of CA-G.R. SP No. 101627 is in order, notwithstanding any procedural obstacle that the parties may hereafter invoke. After all, Section 6, Rule 135 of the Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 6. Means to carry jurisdiction into effect. - When by law jurisdiction is conferred on a court or judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such court or officer; and if the procedure to be followed in the exercise of such jurisdiction is not specifically pointed out by law or by these rules, any suitable process or mode of proceeding may be adopted which appears conformable to the spirit of said law or rules.
As to the motion for contempt of court, suffice it to state that the power to declare a person in contempt of court must be exercised on the preservative, not vindictive principle, and on the corrective and not retaliatory idea of punishment.16 At this point, I find it unnecessary to declare petitioners and their counsel in contempt of court.
I, therefore, respectfully submit that the most expedient and practical approach to end this controversy of which group should sit as members of the AMWSLAI Board is to lift the TRO issued by the CA and, consequently, to dismiss the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 101627 pending before it, to pave the way to the full implementation of our October 9, 2007 Decision. Thereafter, the election should be called and eventually held, thereby removing all doubts as to the authority of the parties to sit in the governing body of AMWSLAI. This way, AMWSLAI, as an institution, will truly regain the confidence of its members and of the general public.
1 Rollo, pp. 1304-1323.
2 Id. at 1442-1446.
3 RTC, Branch 117, Pasay City, in RTC SEC Case No. 05-001-CFM.
4 Rollo, pp. 1331-1363.
5 Id. at 1368-1369.
6 Id. at 407-1429.
7 Id. at 1447-1449
8 Id. at 1455-1480.
9 Id. at 1482-1484.
10 Id. at 1874-1876.
11 Id. at 1360.
12 Atty. Javier v. Court of Appeals, 467 Phil 404, 430 (2004).
13 Balais v. Hon. Velasco, 322 Phil 790, 806 (1996).
14 After the promulgation of the CA decision, petitioners called for the holding of the 2006 election.
15 Echegaray v. Secretary of Justice, 361 Phil 73, 84-85 (1999).
16 The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee v. Hon. Majaducon, 455 Phil 61, 75 (2003); Oclarit v. Paderanga, 403 Phil 146, 153 (2001).
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