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Judgments For Support Are Immediately Final And Executory

Fearing that she will not be able to send her three-year old daughter Francheska to school, Bernadette wrote Augustus demanding support for their child. Replying, Augustus denied paternity of Franchesca, hence Bernadette filed an action fort support with prayer for support pendent lite before the RTC of Baguio City. Augusus moved to dismiss the action for lack of cause of action, since the birth certificate of Francheska stated her father as “UNKNOWN”. However, the trial court denied the motion. After Augustus failed to file his answer, Bernadette moved that he be declared in default. The court, noting that Augustus’s Motion to Admit Answer was filed more than 90 days after the expiration of the regalementry period, granted Bernadette’s motion and received her evidence ex parte. After hearing, the trial court found Bernadette sufficiently proved filiation and entitlement to support and ordered Augustus to recognise Franchesca and provide monthly support to him of P20,000.00, as well as arrears from the time she was born. Upon motion for issuance of writ of execution, the trial court issued the same, resulting in the levy of several vehicles from Augustus’s warehouse. He then filed an appeal on the RTC judgment to the Court of appeals. He also filed a petition for certiorari on the issuance of the motion for execution, citing that there was an absence of good reason for immediate enforcement. As the judgment sought to be executed had not yet attained finality, there must be exceptional reason to warrant its execution. He also assailed the manner of the issuance of the writ in a default declaration considering that he has a meritorious defense. He also attacked the manner of its issueance despite lack of notice to him. The Court of Appeals dismissed his petition, citing that under Sec. 4 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, judgments for support are immediately executory. It debunked his other assertions. He thus filed a petition for review on certiorari with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court:

“A careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case fails to persuade this Court to brand the issuance of the writ of execution by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals with the vice of grave abuse of discretion. There is no evidence indeed to justify the setting aside of the writ on the ground that it was issued beyond the legitimate bounds of judicial discretion.

Section 4, Rule 39, of the Rules of Court clearly states that, unless ordered by the trial court, judgments in actions for support are immediately executory and cannot be stayed by an appeal. This is an exception to the general rule which provides that the taking of an appeal stays the execution of the judgment and that advance executions will only be allowed if there are urgent reasons therefor. The aforesaid provision peremptorily calls for immediate execution of all judgments for support and makes no distinction between those which are the subject of an appeal and those which are not. To consider then petitioner’s argument that there should be good reasons for the advance execution of a judgment would violate the clear and explicit language of the rule mandating immediate execution.

Petitioner is reminded that to the plain words of a legal provision we should make no further explanation. Absoluta sententia expositore non indiget. Indeed, the interpretation which petitioner attempts to foist upon us would only lead to absurdity, its acceptance negating the plain meaning of the provision subject of the petition.

Petitioner would also have us annul the writ of execution on the ground that he was not notified of its issuance. We are unable to accept such a plea for enough has been done by petitioner to delay the execution of the writ. As the records show, in partial fulfillment of the writ of execution petitioner surrendered a sedan which apparently was not his as it was later ordered released to a third party who laid claim over the levied vehicle.[1] Also, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals a Motion for Leave to Deposit in Court Support Pendente Lite promising to deposit the amount due as support every 15th of the month, but to date has not deposited any amount in complete disavowal of his undertaking.[2] He was not even deterred from appealing before us and needlessly taking up our time and energy by posing legal questions that can be characterized, at best, as flimsy and trivial. We are thus not prepared to abrogate the writ of execution issued in favor of private respondent for substantial justice would be better served if petitioner be precluded from interposing another barrier to the immediate execution of the support judgment.

We are not intimating that in every case the right to notice of hearing can be disregarded. That is not so. It appears in this case that there has been too much temporizing in the execution of the writ which must not be allowed to thwart the constitutional mandate for speedy disposition of cases. As has been said, a technicality should be an aid to justice and not its great hindrance and chief enemy.[3] Truly, if the writ of execution would be voided on this ground alone, then procedural rules which were primarily drafted to protect parties in the realm of constitutional guarantees would acquire a new sanctity at the expense of equity and justice.

Lastly, we note that no useful purpose would be served if we dwell on petitioner’s arguments concerning the validity of the judgment by default and his insistence that he be subjected, together with private respondent Bernadette C. Pondevida to DNA testing to settle the issue of paternity. The futility of his arguments is very apparent. It is not for us at this instance to review or revise the Decision rendered by the trial court for to do so would pre-empt the decision which may be rendered by the Court of Appeals in the main case for support.

In all cases involving a child, his interest and welfare are always the paramount concerns. There may be instances where, in view of the poverty of the child, it would be a travesty of justice to refuse him support until the decision of the trial court attains finality while time continues to slip away. An excerpt from the early case of De Leon v. Soriano16[4] is relevant, thus:

The money and property adjudged for support and education should and must be given presently and without delay because if it had to wait the final judgment, the children may in the meantime have suffered because of lack of food or have missed and lost years in school because of lack of funds. One cannot delay the payment of such funds for support and education for the reason that if paid long afterwards, however much the accumulated amount, its payment cannot cure the evil and repair the damage caused. The children with such belated payment for support and education cannot act as gluttons and eat voraciously and unwisely, afterwards, to make up for the years of hunger and starvation. Neither may they enrol in several classes and schools and take up numerous subjects all at once to make up for the years they missed in school, due to non-payment of the funds when needed.”

SECOND DIVISION, G.R. No. 145527, May 28, 2002, AUGUSTUS CAEZAR R. GAN, petitioner, 
vs. HON. ANTONIO C. REYES, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of RTC-Br. 61, Baguio City, ALBERT G. TOLENTINO, in his capacity as RTC Sheriff of Baguio City, and FRANCHESKA JOY C. PONDEVIDA, assisted by BERNADETTE C. PONDEVIDA, respondents.

[1] Sheriff’s Report dated 31 October 2000 reveals that the levied property was released in favor of A & B Leasing and Finance Corp.; id., p. 201.
[2] d., pp. 182-189.
[3] Pallada v. RTC of Kalibo, Aklan, Br. 1, 364 Phil. 81 (1999).
[4] 5 Phil. 806 (1954).

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