Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 142950 - March 26, 2001
EQUITABLE PCI BANK, formerly EQUITABLE BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner, v. ROSITA KU, respondent.
Can a person be evicted by virtue of a decision rendered in an ejectment case where she was not joined as a party? This was the issue that confronted the Court of Appeals, which resolved the issue in the negative. To hold the contrary, it said, would violate due process. Given the circumstances of the present case, petitioner Equitable PCI Bank begs to differ. Hence, this petition.
On February 4, 1982, respondent Rosita Ku, as treasurer of Noddy Dairy Products, Inc., and Ku Giok Heng, as Vice-President/General Manager of the same corporation, mortgaged the subject property to the Equitable Banking Corporation, now known as Equitable PCI Bank to secure Noddy Inc.'s loan to Equitable. The property, a residential house and lot located in La Vista, Quezon City, was registered in respondent's name.
Noddy, Inc. subsequently failed to pay the loan secured by the mortgage, prompting petitioner to foreclose the property extrajudicially. As the winning bidder in the foreclosure sale, petitioner was issued a certificate of sale. Respondent failed to redeem the property. Thus, on December 10, 1984, the Register of Deeds canceled the Transfer Certificate of Title in the name of respondent and a new one was issued in petitioner's name.
On May 10, 1989, petitioner instituted an action for ejectment before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) against respondent's father Ku Giok Heng. Petitioner alleged that it allowed Ku Giok Heng to remain in the property on the condition that the latter pay rent. Ku Giok Heng's failure to pay rent prompted the MeTC to seek his ejectment. Ku Giok Heng denied that there was any lease agreement over the property.
On December 8, 1994, the MeTC rendered a decision in favor of petitioner and ordered Ku Giok Heng to, among other things, vacate the premises. It ruled:
Ku Giok Heng did not appeal the decision of the MeTC. Instead, he and his daughter, respondent Rosita Ku, filed on December 20, 1994, an action before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City to nullify the decision of the MeTC. Finding no merit in the complaint, the RTC on September 13, 1999 dismissed the same and ordered the execution of the MeTC decision.
Respondent filed in the Court of Appeals (CA) a special civil action for certiorari assailing the decision of the RTC. She contended that she was not made a party to the ejectment suit and was, therefore, deprived of due process. The CA agreed and, on March 31, 2000, rendered a decision enjoining the eviction of respondent from the premises.
On May 10, 2000, Equitable PCI Bank filed in this Court a motion for an extension of 30 days from May 10, 2000 or until June 9, 2000 to file its petition for review of the CA decision. The motion alleged that the Bank received the CA decision on April 25, 2000.2 The Court granted the motion for a 30-day extension "counted from the expiration of the reglementary period" and "conditioned upon the timeliness of the filing of [the] motion [for extension]."3
On June 13, 2000,4 Equitable Bank filed its petition, contending that there was no need to name respondent Rosita Ku as a party in the action for ejectment since she was not a resident of the premises nor was she in possession of the property.
The petition is meritorious.
Generally, no man shall be affected by any proceeding to which he is a stranger, and strangers to a case are not bound by judgment rendered by the court.5 Nevertheless, a judgment in an ejectment suit is binding not only upon the defendants in the suit but also against those not made parties thereto, if they are:
a) trespassers, squatters or agents of the defendant fraudulently occupying the property to frustrate the judgment;
b) guests or other occupants of the premises with the permission of the defendant;
c) transferees pendente lite;
e) co-lessees; or
f) members of the family, relatives and other privies of the defendant.6
Thus, even if respondent were a resident of the property, a point disputed by the parties, she is nevertheless bound by the judgment of the MeTC in the action for ejectment despite her being a non-party thereto. Respondent is the daughter of Ku Giok Heng, the defendant in the action for ejectment.
Respondent nevertheless claims that the petition is defective. The bank alleged in its petition that it received a copy of the CA decision on April 25, 2000. A Certification dated June 6, 2000 issued by the Manila Central Post Office reveals, however, that the copy "was duly delivered to and received by Joel Rosales (Authorized Representative) on April 24, 2000."7 Petitioner's motion for extension to file this petition was filed on May 10, 2000, sixteen (16) days from the petitioner's receipt of the CA decision (April 24, 2000) and one (1) day beyond the reglementary period for filing the petition for review (May 9, 2000).
Petitioner however maintains "its honest representation of having received [a copy of the decision] on April 25, 2000."8 Appended as Annex "A" to petitioner's Reply is an Affidavit9 dated October 27, 2000 and executed by Joel Rosales, who was mentioned in the Certification as having received the decision. The Affidavit states:
Petitioner argues that receipt on April 25, 2000 by Joel Rosales, who was not an agent of its counsel's law office, did not constitute notice to its counsel, as required by Sections 210 and 10,11 Rule 13 of the Rules of Court. To support this contention, petitioner cites Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. vs. NLRC.12 In said case, the bailiff served the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission at the ground floor of the building of the petitioner therein, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., rather than on the office of its counsel, whose address, as indicated in the notice of the decision, was on the ninth floor of the building. We held that:
Applying the foregoing provisions and jurisprudence, petitioner submits that actual receipt by its counsel was on April 27, 2000, not April 25, 2000. Following the argument to its logical conclusion, the motion for extension to file the petition for review was even filed two (2) days before the lapse of the 15-day reglementary period. That counsel treated April 25, 2000 and not April 27, 2000 as the date of receipt was purportedly intended to obviate respondent's possible argument that the 15-day period had to be counted from April 25, 2000.
The Court is not wholly convinced by petitioner's argument. The Affidavit of Joel Rosales states that he is "not the constituted agent of 'Curato Divina Mabilog Nedo Magturo Pagaduan Law Office.'" An agency may be express but it may also be implied from the acts of the principal, from his silence, or lack of action, or his failure to repudiate the agency, knowing that another person is acting on his behalf without authority.13 Likewise, acceptance by the agent may also be express, although it may also be implied from his acts which carry out the agency, or from his silence or inaction according to the circumstances.14 In this case, Joel Rosales averred that "[o]n occasions when I receive mail matters for said law office, it is only to help them receive their letters promptly," implying that counsel had allowed the practice of Rosales receiving mail in behalf of the former. There is no showing that counsel had objected to this practice or took steps to put a stop to it. The facts are, therefore, inadequate for the Court to make a ruling in petitioner's favor.
Assuming the motion for extension was indeed one day late, petitioner urges the Court, in any event, to suspend its rules and admit the petition in the interest of justice. Petitioner invokes Philippine National Bank vs. Court of Appeals,15 where the petition was filed three (3) days late. The Court held:
The Court proceeded to enumerate cases where the rules on reglementary periods were suspended. Republic vs. Court of Appeals16 involved a delay of six days; Siguenza vs. Court of Appeals,17 thirteen days; Pacific Asia Overseas Shipping Corporation vs. NLRC,18 one day; Cortes vs. Court of Appeals,19 seven days; Olacao vs. NLRC,20 two days; Legasto vs. Court of Appeals,21 two days; and City Fair Corporation vs. NLRC,22 which also concerned a tardy appeal.
The Court finds these arguments to be persuasive, especially in light of the merits of the petition.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GIVEN DUE COURSE and GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED.
Davide, Jr., C.J. Puno, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
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