G. R. No. 154355 - May 20, 2004
Spouses REMPSON SAMSON and MILAGROS SAMSON; and REMPSON REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION petitioners, vs. Judge MAURICIO M. RIVERA, in His Capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 73; Atty. JOSELITA MALIBAGO-SANTOS, in Her Capacity as Ex Officio Sheriff, RTC of Antipolo City; and LENJUL REALTY CORPORATION, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
In denying the Petition, this Court applies the well-entrenched rule that the buyer in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale is entitled to possession of the purchased property. Any question regarding the regularity and validity of the mortgage and foreclosure sale may be determined only after the issuance of the writ of possession.
Before us is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside the March 7, 2002 Resolution2 and the July 18, 2002 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 69266. The March 7, 2002 Resolution disposed as follows:
The July 18, 2002 Resolution denied reconsideration.
The pertinent facts are undisputed. Petitioner Spouses Rempson and Milagros Samson incurred from Far East Bank and Trust Company (FEBTC) loan obligations, the principal of which amounted to fifty-five million pesos (
Petitioner spouses failed to settle their loan obligations. Thus, on May 16, 2000, FEBTC filed an Application for Extra-Judicial Foreclosure of Real Estate Mortgage7 before the Office of the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo City.8 In their application, FEBTC requested the said office to foreclose the two mortgages extrajudicially, in the manner and form prescribed by Act 3135, as amended, to satisfy the debt of
Acting on the application, the Office of the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff issued a Notice of Sheriff Sale dated May 19, 2000,10 setting the foreclosure sale on June 22, 2000.11 There was only one bidder during the foreclosure sale, so in accordance with AM 99-10-05-0,12 the sheriff postponed the auction to July 5, 2000.13
On July 5, 2000, the auction sale proceeded with two bidders participating -- FEBTC and Lenjul Realty and Development Corporation, with the latter declared as the highest bidder in the amount of eighty million pesos (
On April 3, 2001, Private Respondent Lenjul Realty filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Possession, which sought an ex parte issuance of a writ of possession over the foreclosed properties.18 The Petition was docketed as Land Registration Case No. 01-2698 and raffled to Branch 73 presided by Judge Mauricio M. Rivera.19 On June 11, 2001 and June 15, 2001, Spouses Samson and Rempson Corporation filed their respective Answer/Opposition.20
While the Petition was pending, Spouses Samson and Rempson Corporation filed with the Antipolo City RTC, an action for Annulment of Extra-Judicial Foreclosure and/or Nullification of Sale and the Certificates of Title, plus Reconveyance and Damages with Prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction. Petitioners filed it against Lenjul Realty Corporation, FEBTC, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Joselita Malibao-Santos in her capacity as the clerk of court and ex officio sheriff of the Antipolo City RTC, and the Register of Deeds of Antipolo City. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 01-6219 and raffled to Branch 71 presided by Judge Felix S. Caballes.21 On August 15, 2001, upon motion of Petitioner Rempson Realty and Development Corporation, Judge Caballes issued an Order directing the consolidation of the civil case with the land registration case.22
On September 18, 2001, Judge Rivera issued an order denying the consolidation of the Petition for Writ of Possession and the civil case for annulment of foreclosure.23 On October 22, 2001 and December 4, 2001, respectively, Rempson Corporation and Spouses Samson moved for a reconsideration of the September 18, 2001 Order denying consolidation.24
On November 5, 2001, Judge Rivera gave due course to the Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Possession and denied the Opposition of Spouses Samson and Rempson Corporation.25 Thus, they filed their respective Motions for Reconsideration on December 4, 2001 and December 7, 2001.26
On February 11, 2002, Judge Rivera denied reconsideration of the Order giving due course to the Petition for the Issuance of the Writ of Possession and directed the issuance of such writ of possession.27
On February 20, 2002, Judge Rivera issued an Order granting petitioners Motion for Reconsideration with regard to the September 18, 2001 Order denying the consolidation of cases.28
On February 26, 2002, a Writ of Possession29 was issued directing the sheriff of the Antipolo City RTC to place Lenjul Realty Corporation in physical possession of the foreclosed properties. On the same date, the sheriff issued a Notice to Vacate30 addressed to Rempson Corporation, ordering it to leave the properties on or before March 2, 2002.
On February 22, 2002, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals the aforesaid Special Civil Action for Certiorari with Prohibition/Mandamus under Rule 65 with an Application for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order to annul the November 5, 2001 and the February 11, 2002 Orders of Judge Rivera.31
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals ruled that certiorari was improper, because there was an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Citing Section 8 of Act No. 3135, it opined that petitioners remedy was to file a petition to set aside the foreclosure sale and to cancel the writ of possession in LR Case No. 01-2698. The CA further noted that certiorari was premature inasmuch as petitioners had failed to file a motion for reconsideration of the Order directing the issuance of the writ of possession.32
In denying the Motion for Reconsideration, the Court of Appeals held that the issuance of a writ of possession was a ministerial function that was done upon the filing of the proper motion and the approval of the corresponding bond.33 It further ruled that prohibition did not lie to enjoin the implementation of the writ.34
Hence this Petition.35
In their Memorandum, petitioners assign the following issues for our consideration:
The issues to be addressed in this case are as follows: (1) whether the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Possession; and (2) whether the filing of a Petition for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals was the proper remedy.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition has no merit.
The Court of Appeals correctly sustained the issuance of the Writ of Possession. The issuance of the Writ is explicitly authorized by Act 313537 (as amended by Act 4118), which regulates the methods of effecting an extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage.38 Section 7 thereof provides:
Entitlement to Writ of Possession
Under the provision cited above, the purchaser in a foreclosure sale may apply for a writ of possession during the redemption period by filing for that purpose an ex parte motion under oath, in the corresponding registration or cadastral proceeding in the case of a property with torrens title. Upon the filing of such motion and the approval of the corresponding bond, the court is expressly directed to issue the writ.39
This Court has consistently held that the duty of the trial court to grant a writ of possession is ministerial.40 Such writ issues as a matter of course upon the filing of the proper motion and the approval of the corresponding bond. No discretion is left to the trial court.41 Any question regarding the regularity and validity of the sale, as well as the consequent cancellation of the writ, is to be determined in a subsequent proceeding as outlined in Section 8 of Act 3135.42 Such question cannot be raised to oppose the issuance of the writ, since the proceeding is ex parte.43 The recourse is available even before the expiration of the redemption period provided by law and the Rules of Court.44
The purchaser, who has a right to possession that extends after the expiration of the redemption period,45 becomes the absolute owner of the property when no redemption is made. Hence, at any time following the consolidation of ownership and the issuance of a new transfer certificate of title in the name of the purchaser, he or she is even more entitled to possession of the property.46 In such a case, the bond required under Section 7 of Act 3135 is no longer necessary, since possession becomes an absolute right of the purchaser as the confirmed owner.47
The Petition for Writ of Possession Not Stayed by the Annulment Case
This Court has long settled that a pending action for annulment of mortgage or foreclosure does not stay the issuance of a writ of possession.48 Therefore, the contention of petitioners that the RTC should have consolidated Civil Case No. 01-6219 with LR Case No. 01-2698 and resolved the annulment case prior to the issuance of the Writ of Possession is unavailing.
Their reliance on Active Wood Products Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals49 is misplaced. In that case, the sole issue was the consolidation of a civil case regarding the validity of the mortgage and a land registration case for the issuance of a writ of possession. It did not declare that the writ of possession must be stayed until the questions on the mortgage or the foreclosure sale were resolved. Moreover, the issue of consolidation in the present case has become moot, considering that the trial court has already granted it.
The Court of Appeals correctly declared that petitioners pursued the wrong remedy. A special civil action for certiorari could be availed of only if the lower tribunal has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and if there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.50
No Grave Abuse of Discretion
There is grave abuse when the court -- in the exercise of its judgment -- acts in a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner equivalent to acting with lack of jurisdiction.51 Considering that the trial court issued the Writ of Possession in compliance with the express provisions of Act 3135, it cannot be charged with having acted in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.52
Since there was no grave abuse of discretion, petitioner should have filed an ordinary appeal instead of a petition for certiorari. In GSIS v. CA,53 this Court held that "the wisdom or soundness of the x x x order granting [the] writ of possession x x x is a matter of judgment [in] which the remedy is ordinary appeal."54 An error of judgment committed by a court in the exercise of its legitimate jurisdiction is not the same as "grave abuse of discretion."55 Errors of judgment are correctible by appeal, while those of jurisdiction are reviewable by certiorari.56
Section 8 of Act 3135 provides the plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in opposing the issuance of a writ of possession.57 The provision reads:
A party may petition for the setting aside of a foreclosure sale and for the cancellation of a writ of possession in the same proceedings where the writ of possession was requested. In petitioners case, the filing of the Petition is no longer necessary because the pendency of Civil Case No. 01-6219 (which was consolidated with the present case) already challenged the foreclosure sale.
Pending proceedings assailing the issuance of the writ, the purchaser in a foreclosure sale is entitled to possession of property. If the trial court later finds merit in a petition to set the writ aside, it shall dispose in favor of the mortgagor the bond furnished by the purchaser.58
It should also be noted that prior to the filing of a petition for certiorari, a motion for reconsideration is generally required.59 Petitioner may have filed a Motion for Reconsideration with regard to the trial courts Order giving due course to the Petition, but not with regard to the Order directing the issuance of a writ of possession.
Finally, petitioners allegation that the RTC issued the Writ of Possession despite failing to receive evidence is unsupported by the record. The documents submitted to this Court show sufficient basis for the trial court to rule accordingly. Despite the ex parte nature of the proceedings, and aside from the oral arguments, the RTC allowed petitioners to file pleadings to oppose the Petition for the issuance of the Writ of Possession.
The other issues raised by petitioners are factual matters which, subject to certain exceptions not applicable here,60 this Court does not review. Moreover, petitioners rely on factual matters on which the trial court has yet to make any finding. The tenability of their arguments should be ventilated in Civil Case No. 01-6219, an "Annulment of Extra-Judicial Foreclosure and/or Nullification of Sale and the Certificates of Title, plus Reconveyance and Damages." Those factual issues cannot be ruled upon in these proceedings.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED, and the assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
Davide, Jr.*, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
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