GONZALES-ASDALA, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH
A.M. No. RTJ-11-2272
(Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2559-RTJ)
February 16, 2011
D E C I S I O N
The present administrative matter is based on the following facts:
Civil Case No. 32771, entitled Emelita L. Mariano represented by Marciano Alcaraz, plaintiff, v. Alfredo M. Dualan, defendant, is an ejectment case originally filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 35 of Quezon City.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant ordering the latter and all persons claiming rights under him to vacate the premises located at 340 Roosevelt Ave., Quezon City and to peacefully turn-over possession thereof to the plaintiff.
Defendant is likewise ordered to pay the following to the plaintiff, to wit:
1. the amount of Seventy Six Thousand (Php 76,000.00) Pesos per month, reckoned from September 2000 until defendant and all persons claiming rights under him shall finally vacate the premises representing compensation for the reasonable use and occupation thereof;
2. the amount of Eight Thousand (Php 8,000.00) Pesos as and by way of attorneys fee; and
3. cost of suit.
In an Order dated
In the meantime or on
x x x [t]aking into
consideration the explanation put forth by defendant and with the manifestation
of plaintiffs counsel that they are withdrawing their motion for execution and
that they have no objection to the approval of the supersedeas bond, in the
interest of substantial justice, the Motion for Partial Consideration is hereby
GRANTED. Defendants Notice of Appeal
having been granted by this Court in the Order dated
Consistent with the manifestation of plaintiffs counsel, the motion for execution dated 28 October 2004 is hereby considered withdrawn and the writ of execution dated 17 February 2005 issued by this court is hereby set aside. (Emphasis supplied)
In the Sala of the Respondent Judge
About three months after, complainant Marciano Alcarazas representative of Emelita in the pending caseinquired with the RTC about the status of the motion for execution pending appeal. There, the complainant was informed that the appeal was already deemed submitted for decision but the respondent had not taken any action, much less issued any order or resolution, regarding the motion for execution pending appeal.
about the respondents apparent inaction, Emelita filed with the RTC an Urgent Motion to Order Defendant-Appellant
to Deposit the Amount of Rent Due to Plaintiff-Appellee Under the Contract, and
to Resolve Plaintiffs November 12, 2005 Motion for Execution Pending Appeal (Urgent Motion) on 8 February
2006. Unlike the previous motion,
Emelitas Urgent Motion was actually scheduled for hearing on
During the day the Urgent Motion was set for hearing, however, Alfredo failed to appear. The respondent, thus, issued an order of even date requiring Alfredo to file his Comment on the Urgent Motion within ten (10) days from its receipt. But still, no Comment was filed.
The Charge and the Recommendation
receiving the respondents comment to the complaint-affidavit and
evaluating the established facts, the OCA submitted its Report to this Court on
We disagree with the finding and recommendation of the OCA.
At first glance, it would seem that the respondent was guilty of undue delay, if not, absolute neglect in resolving Emelitas motion for execution pending appeal. The respondent had not taken any action on the said motion and, in fact, came to consider Emelitas plea for an execution pending appeal only after the latter had filed an Urgent Motion. From the filing of the motion for execution pending appeal, a period of more than five (5) months had to pass before the respondent finally directed a writ of execution to be issued. Under these circumstances, it was understandable why the complainant cried out against the inaction.
A deeper look at the records of the case, however, reveals that no administrative fault may be attributed on the part of the respondent.
An inspection of Emelitas motion for execution pending appeal discloses a defective notice of hearing. Thus:
NOTICE OF HEARING
The BRANCH CLERK OF COURT
RTC QUEZON CITY
Kindly submit the foregoing MOTION for the consideration and approval of the Honorable Court immediately upon receipt hereof, or at any time convenient to the Honorable Court.
Atty. Nelson B. Bayot (Sgd.)
The Rules of Court require every written motion, except those that the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of an adverse party, to be set for hearing by its proponent. When a motion ought to be heard, the same rules prescribe that it must be served to the adverse party with a notice of hearing.
The substance of a notice of hearing is, in turn, laid out in Section 5 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. The provision states:
Section 5. Notice of hearing. The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all the parties concerned, and shall specify the time and date of the hearing which must not be later than ten (10) days after the filing of the motion. (Emphasis supplied)
In the case at bench, it is clear that the notice of hearing in Emelitas motion for execution pending appeal did not comply with the foregoing standards.
First. Rather than being addressed to the adverse party, the notice of hearing in Emelitas motion was directed to the Branch Clerk of Court. Such gaffe actually contradicts a basic purpose of the notice requirementi.e., to inform an adverse party of the date and time of the proposed hearing.
Second. The notice of hearing did not specify a date and time of hearing. In fact, there was nothing in the notice that even suggests that the proponent intended to set a hearing with the trial court in the first place. As may be observed, the notice is merely an instruction for the clerk of court to submit the motion for the consideration and approval of the trial court immediately upon receipt or at any time convenient with the said court. The notice of hearing in Emelitas motion does not, in reality, give any kind of notice.
Jurisprudence had been categorical in treating a litigious motion without a valid notice of hearing as a mere scrap of paper. In the classic formulation of Manakil v. Revilla, such a motion was condemned as:
x x x [n]othing but a piece of paper filed with the court. It presented no question which the court could decide. The court had no right to consider it, nor had the clerk any right to receive it without a compliance with Rule 10 [now Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15]. It was not, in fact, a motion. It did not comply with the rules of the court. It did not become a motion until x x x the petitioners herein fixed a time for hearing of said alleged motion. (Emphasis supplied).
An important aspect of the above judicial pronouncement is the absence of any duty on the part of the court to take action on a motion wanting a valid notice of hearing. After all, the Rules of Court places upon the movant, and not with the court, the obligations both to secure a particular date and time for the hearing of his motion and to give a proper notice thereof on the other party. It is precisely the failure of the movant to comply with these obligations, which reduces an otherwise actionable motion to a mere scrap of paper not deserving of any judicial acknowledgment.
Accordingly, a judge may not be held administratively accountable for not acting upon a mere scrap of paper. To impose upon judges a positive duty to recognize and resolve motions with defective notices of hearing would encourage litigants to an unbridled disregard of a simple but necessary rule of a fair judicial proceeding. In Hon. Cledera v. Hon. Sarmiento, this Court aptly observed:
rules commanding the movant to serve of the adverse party a written notice of
the motion (Section 2, Rule 37) and that the notice of hearing "shall be
directed to the parties concerned, and shall state the time and place for the
hearing of the motion" (Section 5, Rule 15), do not provide for any
qualifications, much less exceptions. To
deviate from the peremptory principle x x x would be one step in the
emasculation of the revised rules and would be subversive of the stability of
the rules and jurisprudence thereon all to the consternation of the Bench and
Bar and other interested persons as well as the general public who would
thereby be subjected to such an irritating uncertainty as to when to render
obedience to the rules and when their requirements may be ignored. We had to draw a line somewhere and WE did
when we promulgated on
Verily, We find the respondent free from any administrative liability in not taking action on Emelitas motion for execution pending appeal. The motion itself is not entitled to judicial cognizancethe reason for which is imputable to the fault of the movant herself and not to an apparent breach of the respondent of her duties as a member of the bench. Notably, the respondent did act on the matter of the execution of the MeTC judgment pending appeal when the issue was properly scheduled for hearing in the 8 February 2006 Urgent Motion.
RENATO C. CORONA
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice Associate Justice
 Rollo, p. 7.
 Id at 7-8.
 In Edao v. Gonzales-Asdala (A.M. No.
 Rollo, pp. 38-40.
 413 Phil. 717 (2001).
 Rollo, pp. 7-11.
 Section 4, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court.
 Section 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court.
 Sebastian v. Cabal, 143 Phil. 364, 366 (1970);
 42 Phil. 81, 82 (1921).
 Section 4 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court.
 148-A Phil. 468 (1971).