[G. R. No. 144810. June
Quoted hereunder, for
your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 9 2003.
G. R. No. 144810(Elmer F. Cervantes vs. Pilar Antonio.)
Being assailed in the present petition for review on certiorari
is the August 9, 2000 Decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing petitioner's
petition for certiorari, thus upholding the August 4, 1999 Resolutioncralaw
and March 17, 2000 Writ of Executioncralaw
issued by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 276.
Petitioner filed on December
6, 1995 a petition against his wife, herein respondent Pilar
Antonio, for annulment of marriage and custody of minor childrencralaw
before the RTC of Muntinlupa City which docketed it as Civil Case No. 95-194.
After receiving petitioner's evidence following respondent's
failure to file her answer despite receipt of summons, Br. 276 of the
Muntinlupa RTC (the trial court) rendered a Resolutioncralaw
of December 13, 1996 granting
the annulment of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity on the
part of respondent, and awarding custody of the spouses' minor children to
petitioner. The trial court also ordered that the conjugal properties should be
sold and disposed so that the same may be divided equally between petitioner
Upon motion of respondent,cralaw
the trial court, by Ordercralaw
of February 12, 1997,
withdrew its December 13, 1996
Resolution. By the same order, it granted visitation rights to respondent.
To the Order of February 12, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for
and Supplemental Motion for Reconsiderationcralaw
praying that (1) said Order be set aside, (2) the Resolution of December 13,
1996 be affirmed in its entirety, (3) respondent and her counsel be cited for
contempt for fraudulent representations and disregard of her visitation rights,
and (4) said visitation rights be modified or set aside.
By Order of October 10, 1997,cralaw
the trial court affirmed its Resolution
of December 13, 1996 granting the annulment of the marriage
of the parties on the ground of respondent's psychological incapacity and
giving custody of the minor children to petitioner, and directed the parties to
submit an inventory of their conjugal assets which should thereafter be divided
and partitioned equally between them.
Respondent submitted an inventory of conjugal assets which
included their Ayala Alabang
Village house and lot. Petitioner
took exception to the inclusion of this house and lot which he claimed should
go to him as all their minor children live with him, following Article 129 of
the Family Code.
of August 4, 1999,
the trial court held, inter alia,
as follows, quoted verbatim:
This Court is not prepared to deny to Respondent her one-half
their Ayala Alabang residence, for the singular reason that the
children are with their father Petitioner. The children have not made the
choice to be with their father but their being with him is purely for their
convenience as they go to school in an institution near this residence (art.
129, no. 6 Family Code). In fact, if granted their choice, the children would
have chosen to be with their mother. But Respondent mother has spared them the
pain of making a Solomonic choice with whom to live between their parents,
while Respondent has not insisted in taking custody of them. Therefore we
cannot grant the denial of respondent's share, on the opposition by Petitioner.cralaw
The trial court, by the same Resolution of August 4, 1999, thus
ordered that the conjugal properties which should be sold, the proceeds of
which would be divided equally between the parties, are (1) the house and lot
located at Ayala Alabang Village valued at not less than
the prevailing market value, (2) the Ayala Alabang Country Club Certificate of
Stock No. 2519 valued at P4,200,000.00, and (3) one motor vehicle.
On October 20, 1999,
respondent filed a Motion for Executioncralaw
of the August 4, 1999
Resolution of the trial court.
On November18, 1999, petitioner, who received
a copy of the August 4, 1999 Resolution on October
filed on November 18, 1999cralaw
a Motion for Reconsiderationcralaw
of said Resolution, which was in effect denied when the trial court
declared by Order of March 15, 2000cralaw
that said August 4, 1999 Resolution had become final. By the same Order, the
trial court granted the Motion for Execution.
A Writ of Execution was accordingly issued on March
17, 2000. Petitioner thereafter filed on March
23, 2000 a Motion to Quash the Writ of Executioncralaw
which was, by Ordercralaw
of March 24, 2000, denied.
Petitioner thus filed on April
a Petition for Certiorari before the
Court of Appeals, seeking the annulment of the August 4. 1999 Resolution and
the March 17, 2000 Writ of Execution for having been issued in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion, alleging that the said
.resolution directing the sale of the conjugal assets, including the conjugal
dwelling, and the division of the proceeds thereof equally between the parties
is contrary to Articles 147 and 129 of the Family Code which provide that the
conjugal abode must be awarded to the spouse who has custody of the common
children; that respondent, being the party in bad faith, should be deemed to
have already forfeited her share in the co-ownership; and that the August 4,
1999 Resolution was an interlocutory order not subject to appeal, thereby
entitling him to avail of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari.
By the assailed Decision of August 9, 2000, the Court of Appeals
dismissed petitioner's petition for certiorari, holding that the August 4, 1999
Resolution of the trial court had long become final and executory for failure
of petitioner to file a timely motion for reconsideration or appeal. The
appellate court explained that the August 4, 1999 Resolution of the trial
court, though not captioned as a decision, "was a disposition of the case on
the merits as it was in the nature of a judgment upon the issues invoked by
hence, it was not an interlocutory order, as petitioner claimed. Petitioner's
motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by the Court of Appeals by
Resolution of September 7, 2000.cralaw
Hence, the present petition which raises the following assignment
of errors, quoted verbatim:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS [ERROR] AND DEFIED LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE THEREON IN
FINDING THAT THE RESOLUTION OF THE TRIAL COURT DATED AUGUST
4, 1999, ANNEX C, WAS A DISPOSITION OF THE CASE ON THE MERITS WHEN
IN LAW IT WAS NOT.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR AND THEREBY DEFIED LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE ON THE
MATTER WHEN IT RULED THAT THE RESOLUTION OF THE TRIAL COURT DATED AUGUST 4,
1999, ANNEX C, AND THE WRIT OF EXECUTION DATED MARCH 17, 2000, ANNEX D, WERE
NOT ISSUED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
The petition fails.
Granted that the August 4, 1999 Resolution was assailable by
certiorari, the petition petitioner filed for the purpose before the Court of
Appeals on April 5, 2000 was filed beyond the 60-day reglementary
period, he having received a copy of the resolution on October 13, 1999.
Petitioner cannot reckon the 60-day period from March 29, 2000 when he received
a copy of the March 15, 2000 Order denying his Motion for
Reconsideration because such motion was belatedly
filed and, therefore, as the trial
court held, the August 4, 1999 Order had become final. It is in this light that
this Court affirms the dismissal by the Court of Appeals of petitioner's
petition for certiorari.
WHEREFORE, the present
petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.)JULIETA Y. CARREON
Clerk of Court