G.R. No. 110701 - March 12, 2002
FORTUNE GUARANTEE AND INSURANCE CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HONORABLE JUDGE HENEDINO P. EDUARTE, RTC, BRANCH 20, CAUAYAN, ISABELA, EGDONA R. MADRIAGA, PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CAUAYAN, ISABELA OR ANY OF HIS DEPUTIES and ISABELA I ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC., Respondents.
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 651 of the Rules of Court which seeks to annul the twin Resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR SP No. 304302 dated April 19, 19933 and dated June 16, 1993,4 respectively, which ultimately dismissed the petition for certiorari of petitioner Fortune Guarantee and Insurance Corporation that assailed the Special Order dated February 12, 1993 of respondent Judge Henedino P. Eduarte of the Regional Trial Court of Cauayan, Isabela, granting execution pending appeal of his Decision in Civil Case No. Br. 20-436.
The facts are as follows:
On November 11, 1988, Isabela 1 Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ISELCO-I) secured Fire Insurance Policy No. 9216 from petitioner for Two Million (
During the subsistence of the insurance policy, the insured properties of ISELCO-I were destroyed by two (2) typhoons in 1989; first by typhoon "ELANG" on July 9 and second by typhoon "TACING" on October 19 of the same year. ISELCO-I filed successive claims with petitioner. Notwithstanding the several demands made by ISELCO-I, however, petitioner refused to pay the claims.
On March 19, 1990, ISELCO-I, through its representative, filed a complaint against petitioner for a sum of money in the amount of Two Million (
On June 17, 1992, after trial on the merits, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of ISELCO-I, the dispositive portion of which reads:
On June 22, 1992, ISELCO-I filed a Motion for Execution Pending Appeal8 alleging good reasons for its allowance.
On July 13, 1992, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration9 of the Decision of the trial court. On July 23, 1992, ISELCO-I filed its Opposition to the said Motion for Reconsideration;10 and on November 13, 1992, petitioner filed its Opposition11 to ISELCO-I's Motion for Execution Pending Appeal on the ground that ISELCO-I had no good reasons and no clear right to a writ of execution pending appeal as the subject amount is enormous.
On October 7, 1992, the trial court denied the said motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioner. Thereafter, on November 3, 1992, petitioner seasonably filed its Notice of Appeal with the trial court.
On February 12, 1993, the trial court resolved in a Special Order12 the Motion for Execution Pending Appeal in favor of ISELCO-I, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Aggrieved by such Special Order, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari, Preliminary Injunction with Temporary Restraining Order,14 with the Court of Appeals, alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Judge in issuing the Special Order granting execution pending appeal.
On April 19, 1993, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution15 dismissing the said petition. The motion for reconsideration of petitioner was likewise denied for lack of merit in a Resolution dated June 16, 1993.16
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner assigns the following as errors, to wit:
At the outset, it must be pointed out that petitioner adopted the wrong mode of appeal in bringing this case before us. The proper remedy of a party aggrieved by a decision of the Court of Appeals is a petition for review under Rule 45 which is not similar to a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.17 This was clearly addressed by this Court in Heirs of Marcelino Pagobo vs. CA18where we held that as provided in Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, decisions, final orders or resolutions of the Court of Appeals in any case, i.e., regardless of the nature of the action or proceedings involved, may be appealed to us by filing a petition for review, which would be but a continuation of the appellate process over the original case. On the other hand, a special civil action under Rule 65 is an independent action based on the specific grounds therein provided and, as a general rule, cannot be availed of as a substitute for the lost remedy of an ordinary appeal, including that under Rule 45.19
Accordingly, when a party adopts an improper remedy, as in this case, his petition may be dismissed outright. However, in the interest of substantial justice, the strict application of procedural technicalities should not hinder the speedy disposition of this case on the merits.20 Thus, while the instant petition is one for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the assigned errors are more properly addressed in a petition for review under Rule 45.
First of all, It is at once apparent that the first two (2) assignments of errors in this petition behoove this Court to review the finding made by the appellate court that the properties of ISELCO-I were not underinsured. This we cannot do for the simple reason that it would require us to go into the merits of the decision rendered by respondent Judge in Civil Case No. Br. 20-436, which decision in the main case is now subject of a separate appeal by petitioner to the Court of Appeals. Thus, despite the parties' insistent submission of the question of underinsurance for our resolution in this petition, we must reiterate the well-established rule that the merits of the case should not be determined at this stage of the proceedings, in advance of the main appeal taken by the aggrieved party from the judgment rendered by respondent court.21
It is unfortunate that the Court of Appeals, in resolving the petition for certiorari imputing grave abuse of discretion to respondent Judge in granting execution pending appeal per his said Special Order, dwelt on the merits of the principal action, and held in part that:
On the central issue of whether there was underinsurance, the respondent judge made the following findings which we sense to be persuasive:
The above-quoted obiter dictum of the Court of Appeals with respect to the issue of underinsurance must be disregarded as the ruling of the Court of Appeals cannot be duly extended to expand the main thrust of its subject Resolutions beyond their true import.23
It is imperative that we allow the main appeal to take its normal course. In the case before us, therefore, we shall purposely limit ourselves to resolving only the wisdom of the trial court's exercise of discretion in ordering the execution pending appeal.24
The assailed Special Order of respondent Judge granting execution pending appeal reads as follows:
Petitioner claims that the respondent Judge abused his discretion in issuing a writ of execution pending appeal despite the fact that its appeal is clearly not dilatory. It likewise argued that since the evidence shows that electricity was immediately restored in the affected localities, the reasons posited by ISELCO-I are not the good reasons contemplated by law for the extraordinary grant of execution pending appeal.
As a general rule, the execution of a judgment should not be had until and unless the judgment has become final and executory, i.e., the period of appeal has lapsed without an appeal having been taken, or appeal having been taken, the appeal has been resolved and the records of the case have been returned to the court of origin, in which event, execution "shall issue as a matter of right." Execution pending appeal in accordance with Section 2 of Rule 3926 of the Rules of Court is, therefore, the exception.27
The requisites for the grant of a motion for execution pending appeal are: (a) there must be a motion by the prevailing party with notice to the adverse party; (b) there must be a good reason for execution pending appeal; and (c) the good reason must be stated in a special order.28
Being an exception to the general rule, the requisites of execution pending appeal must, therefore, be strictly construed.29 Thus, anent the requisite that there must be good reason justifying the execution of the judgment pending appeal, we have consistently held that such good reason must constitute superior circumstances demanding urgency which will outweigh the injury or damage should the losing party secure a reversal of the judgment.30 Beyond the guideline set by jurisprudence, however, statute does not determine, enumerate, or give examples of what may be considered good reasons to justify execution pending appeal. What these good reasons are must, therefore, necessarily be addressed to the discretion of the court, and in the case of City of Manila vs. Court of Appeals31 we said that:
We find that there is neither grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Judge nor a change in circumstances so as to warrant a setting aside of the assailed Special Order granting execution pending appeal.
Respondent judge exercised sound discretion in granting execution pending appeal on the grounds that: (1) ISELCO-I is a cooperative of the people within the area of coverage that is engaged in the business of retailing electricity to its members - a commodity basic to their welfare and vital to the industries of the people; and (2) to deliver electricity to the people, its electric lines, posts, transmissions, transformers and other accessories must always be maintained in good order and condition.
To restore electricity in the areas affected, ISELCO-I had to borrow money from private persons and entities, which money, however, was insufficient to repair all the damage that had been caused to ISELCO-I's properties. Hence, while it is true that ISELCO-I was able to immediately repair its lines and restore electricity to the areas affected by the typhoons, the damage to its transmission lines and backbone lines was not repaired due to lack of funds. But it is not the fact of ISELCO-I's indebtedness that is propounded as the good reason for execution pending appeal but the fact that, as correctly pointed out by the trial court, to delay payment of the claims of ISELCO-I would cause irreparable injury to the consumers-members of the cooperative who expect the best service from ISELCO-I.
Finally, it must be stressed here that respondent Judge granted execution pending appeal based upon the evidence of those factual circumstances mentioned above. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals affirmed those factual findings and respondent Judge's conclusion that the same constitute good reasons contemplated by law for granting execution pending appeal.
It bears reiterating, therefore, that it is not the function of this Court to analyze and weigh evidence all over again unless there is a showing that the findings of the lower court are totally devoid of support or are glaringly erroneous as to constitute grave abuse of discretion. In the same vein, the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals supported by substantial evidence are conclusive and binding on the parties and are not reviewable by this Court, unless the case falls under any of the recognized exceptions to the rule, and this, petitioner has failed to prove.33
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit, and the assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals dated April 19, 1993 and June 16, 1993 are AFFIRMED without prejudice to the resolution of the appeal on merits now pending in the Court of Appeals; and for that purpose, let the record of this case be remanded to the Court of Appeals.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.
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