Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 152343             January 18, 2008
MA. FE BACOS, petitioner,
DOMINGO ARCEGA, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
For our resolution is the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari1 seeking to reverse the Decision2 dated November 9, 2001 and Resolution dated February 19, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 64177.
The facts are:
On February 11, 1998, Domingo Arcega, respondent, filed with the Labor Arbiter in Banawe, Quezon City a complaint for illegal dismissal and
other monetary claims against Viabel International Garments, Inc. (Viabel) and/or Marlon Viado, docketed as NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-02-01455-98.
On February 25, 1999, Labor Arbiter Daisy G. Cauton-Barcelona rendered a Decision in favor of respondent, thus:
WHEREFORE, from all the foregoing considerations, We find complainantís dismissal illegal. The respondents are hereby ordered to pay complainant his backwages amounting to NINETY THOUSAND (P90, 000.00) Pesos; separation pay, in lieu of reinstatement, the amount of FORTY FIVE THOUSAND (P45, 000.00) Pesos; service incentive leave pay of FIVE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED NINETY TWO & 40/100 (P5, 192.40) Pesos; 13th month pay of TWENTY SEVEN THOUSAND & 48/100 (P27,000.48) Pesos; and attorneyís fees of SIXTEEN THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED NINETEEN & 28/100 (16, 719.28) Pesos.
Claims for moral and exemplary damages are DISMISSED for lack of merit.
On May 21, 1999, due to the failure of Viabel and/or Marlon Viado to appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), the Labor Arbiterís Decision became final and executory. Upon respondentís motion, a writ of execution was issued.
On June 8, 1999, the sheriff of the NLRC levied twenty-eight (28) sewing machines belonging to Viabel and/or Marlon Viado and scheduled their sale at public auction on June 17, 1999.
On the same date, June 17, 1999, Maria Fe Bacos, petitioner, filed with the NLRC a notice of third party claim, alleging that the levied machines were previously sold to her by Marlon Viado in the amount of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (
P150,000.00) as shown by the Deed of Absolute Sale notarized by Notary Public Mario Ramos on January 26, 1998.
On June 20, 1999, respondent filed an opposition to petitionerís third- party claim contending, among others, that it is "frivolous and spurious."
In an Order dated January 10, 2000, Labor Arbiter Barcelona dismissed the third-party claim on the ground that the Deed of Absolute Sale appears to be spurious.
On appeal by petitioner, docketed as NLRC CA No. 023229-2000, the NLRC, in its Resolution dated August 31, 2000, dismissed the same.
In another Resolution dated February 1, 2001, the NLRC denied petitionerís motion for reconsideration.
Petitioner then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 64177.
On November 9, 2001, the Court of Appeals (Tenth Division) rendered its Decision3 dismissing the petition, holding that:
The crux of the matter is whether herein petitioner had succeeded in substantiating her claim that the levied properties, comprising the 18 units of sewing machines of various types, were sold to her on January 26, 1998 by Marlon Viado, the respondent in NLRC NCR Case No. 00-02-01455-98, or prior to the levy of the same on June 8, 1999 by Percival P. Granado, the Deputy Sheriff of the NLRC NCR. We hold that petitioner failed in so doing. Aside from the "Deed of Absolute Sale" which the public respondent NLRC and the Labor Arbiter considered spurious, the petitioner did not adduce some other more convincing evidence, e.g., the testimony or affidavit of the notary public who allegedly notarized the contested document. In fact, petitionerís claim did not exactly have an auspicious start, for the reason that her notice of third-party claim did not specify the circumstances attending her alleged ownership of the subject properties, particularly as to the date she acquired the same, and from whom she acquired them. In addition, she failed to attach the deed of sale covering the alleged sale. If she indeed misplaced this important document that would prove her ownership of the subject properties, she only came up with the claim, which to us savors of a Johnny-come-lately, and presented the purported document only after the private respondent commented on her failure to prove her claim.
This is not to say, of course, that we are at all convinced of the genuineness or authenticity of the purported "Deed of Sale." We adopt the findings of the public respondent with regard to the non-inclusion of this piece of document by Atty. Mario G. Ramos in his notarial report. The fact alone that no copy of the "Deed of Sale" dated January 26, 1998 was on file with the Clerk of Court, is itself a "badge of fraud and simulation" that could "make any court suspicious and wary of imputing any legitimacy and validity" to the same, and actually militates against its use as basis for petitionerís claim. The Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court supervises a notary public by requiring submission to the Office of the Clerk of Court of his monthly notarial report, with copies of acknowledged documents thereto attached. Under this procedure and requirements of the Notarial Law, the failure to submit such notarial report and copies of acknowledged documents has dire consequences, which include the possible revocation of the notaryís notarial commission.
Forthwith, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the appellate court in its Resolution of February 19, 2002.
Hence, the present petition.
Petitioner contends inter alia that the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the petition, claiming that Section 16, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, merely requires the third-party claimant to submit an affidavit of his title to the property. The Rule does not require that her title of ownership be produced.
The petition lacks merit.
Section 16, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides:
SEC. 16. Proceedings where property claimed by third person. Ė If the property levied on is claimed by any person other than the judgment obligor or his agent, and such person makes an affidavit of his title thereto or right to the possession thereof, stating the grounds of such right or title, and serves the same upon the officer making the levy and a copy thereof upon the judgment obligee, the officer shall not be bound to keep the property, unless such judgment obligee, on demand of the officer, files a bond approved by the court to indemnify the third-party claimant in a sum not less than the value of the property levied on. In case of disagreement as to such value, the same shall be determined by the court issuing the writ of execution. No claim for damages for the taking or keeping of the property may be enforced against the bond unless the action therefor is filed within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the filing of the bond.
Corollarily, Sections 2 and 3, Rule VI of the NLRC Manual of Instructions for Sheriffs provide:
Section 2. Proceedings. If property levied upon be claimed by any person other than the losing party or his agent, such person shall make an affidavit of his title thereto or right to the possession thereof, stating the grounds of such right or title and shall file the same with the sheriff and copies thereof served upon the Labor Arbiter or proper officer issuing the writ and upon the prevailing party. Upon receipt of the third-party claim, all proceedings with respect to the execution of the property subject of the third-party claim shall automatically be suspended and the Labor Arbiter or proper officer issuing the writ shall conduct a hearing with due notice to all parties concerned and resolve the validity of the claim within ten (10) working days from receipt thereof and his decision is appealable to the Commission within ten (10) working days from notice, and the Commission shall likewise resolve the appeal within the same period.
Section 3. Resolution of the Third-Party Claim, Effect. Ė In the event the third party claim is declared to be valid, the sheriff shall immediately release the property to the third party claimant, his agent or representative and the levy on execution shall immediately be lifted or discharged. However, should the third party claim be found to be without factual or legal basis, the sheriff must proceed with the execution of the property levied upon as if no third party claim has been filed.
It is thus clear that a third-party claim must be supported by an affidavit stating the claimantís title to, or right to possession of the property, and the grounds therefor. In other words, a mere affidavit will not suffice. The circumstances supporting the third-party claimantís ownership or possession of the levied properties must be specified.
Here, both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC found that the Deed of Absolute Sale involving the sewing machines between petitioner and Marlon Viado is spurious. Likewise, the Court of Appeals found that no copy of the said document is on file with the Clerk of Court. The appellate court aptly held that the absence of such document is "itself a badge of fraud and simulation that could make any court suspicious and wary of imputing any legitimacy and validity to the same, and actually militates against its use as basis for petitionerís claim."
These factual findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are accorded high respect by this Court. It bears stressing that this Court is not a trier of facts. Hence, it need not pass upon and evaluate the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, unless they are not supported by evidence, which exception is not present here.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition and AFFIRM the challenged Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 64177. Costs against petitioner.
Puno, C.J., Chairperson, Corona, Azcuna, Leonardo-de Castro, JJ., concur.
1 Filed under Rule 45, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Renato C. Dacudao (retired) and concurred in by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes (now a member of this Court) and Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo.
3 Annex "A" of the petition, rollo, pp. 23-27.
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