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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. HON. HIDALGO, in his Capacity as RTC Br 37 Judge, et.

W/N it was correct to grant the reliefs prayed for by Mendoza

G.R. No. 161657, October 4, 2007 Held:
1. The judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion.
Petitioners: Republic of the Philippines a. First, the Order of Default and Judgment by Default was correctly
Respondents: HON. VICENTE A. HIDALGO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the issued. The petitioner may have been deprived of hearing, but this
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 37, CARMELO V. CACHERO, in his capacity as does not mean the right to due process was violated, as it was
Sheriff IV, Regional Trial Court of Manila, and TARCILA LAPERAL MENDOZA. deemed to have waived his right to be heard or to take part in the
Facts: b. Second, the notice of appeal was correctly denied as it was already
1. Tarcila Laperal Mendoza filed an action for the annulment or declaration of filed out of time. It received the Order denying the Motion for New
nullity of the title and deed of sale, reconveyance and/or recovery of Trial on October 9, 2003 so they only had 1 day to filed a Notice of
ownership and possession a property against the Republic of the Philippines Appeal. However, instead of filing an appeal, it filed a motion for
in the RTC of Manila. reconsideration on November 25 which was later found to be a pro-
2. Mendoza averred that since time immemorial, she and her predecessros-in- forma motion. Hence, the filing of their Notice of Appeal on
interest had been in peaceful and adverse possession of the property. Such Novermber 27 was already too late.
possession continued until the first week of July 1975 when a group of armed
men representing themselves to be members of the Presidential Security 2. The court was correct in granting the relief prayed for by Mendoza.
Group of Pres. Marcos forcibly entered her residence and ordered her to turn a. The evidence received supports this conclusion that the property in
over the TCT and for her and her family members to vacate the same. question was wrested from Mendoza’s possession without any legal
Mendoza complied out of fear of their lives. justification. Although such restoration of the property to Mendoza
3. Mendoza is now arguing that the deed of sale was fictitious as she never is not convenient as the Office of the President currently uses the
executed a deed of conveyance. She prayed for the Republic to pay her a property for residence and office purposes, it is still legally and
reasonable compensation for the use of the property, as well as other costs. physically feasible.
She valued the property at P2,388,990.00 and a reasonable compensation or b. The Court, however, cannot stop with just restoring Mendoza to her
rental use of P6 Million a year. possession and ownership of her property. The restoration ought to
4. After declaration of Republic in default, and her presentation of evidence ex- be complemented by some form of monetary compensation for
parte, the RTC rendered a judgment by default in favor of Mendoza, awarding having been unjustly deprived of the beneficial use thereof.
just compensation for the property amounting to P143,600,000.00, as well 3. The court, however, abused its discretion in awarding an amount higher than
as a reasonable rental of P 1.48 Billion, with the total amounting to almost 2 what was prayed for.
Billion pesos. a. The amounts and level should not be varying as fixed in the decision
5. Upon denial of Republic’s motion for new trial, this petition for certiorari was of the trial court and set to be executed by the equally assailed writ
filed by Republic. Republic was urging the Court to strike down the order of of execution. The monetary award set forth is erroneous. And the
default, and the judgment that followed. Republic argued that the error relates to basic fundamentals of law as to constitute grave
respondent judge was in grave abuse of discretion when he proceeded to abuse of discretion.
hear the case and eventually awarded such a staggering amount without b. Rule 9, Section 3(d) defines the extent of the relief that may be
giving the opportunity to Republic to present its defense. awarded in a judgment by default, i.e., only so much as has been
6. The Republic also impugned the denial of respondent Judge of its motion for alleged and proved. The court acts in excess of jurisdiction if it
new trial and notice of appeal, and the issuance of a writ of execution against awards an amount beyond the claim made in the complaint or
the Republic as grave abuse of discretion. beyond that proved by the evidence, which is what respondent
Judge in this case did by awarding an amount higher than what
Issue/s: was prayed for.
W/N the respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the subject c. Given these, an award of P20,000.00 a month for the use and
Orders occupancy of the Arlegui property, while perhaps a little bit
arbitrary, is reasonable and may be granted pro hac vice considering
the following: (1) the property is relatively small in terms of actual
area and had an assessed value of only P2,388,900.00; (2)The
Arlegui property had minimal rental value during the relatively long
martial law years, given the very restrictive entry and egress
conditions prevailing at the vicinity at that time and even after.
d. Also, the assailed trial courts issuance of the writ of execution
against government funds to satisfy its money judgment is also
nullified. It is basic that government funds and properties may not
be seized under writs of execution or garnishment to satisfy such
judgments. Republic v. Palacio teaches that a judgment against the
State generally operates merely to liquidate and establish the
plaintiffs claim in the absence of express provision; otherwise, they
can not be enforced by processes of law.

Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the RTC insofar as it nullified TCT No. 118911 of petitioner
Republic of the Philippines and ordered the Register of Deeds of Manila to reinstate
private respondent Tarcila L. Mendozas TCT No. 118527, or to issue her a new
certificate of title is AFFIRMED.

It is MODIFIED in the sense that for the use and occupancy of the Arlegui property,
petitioner Republic is ordered to pay private respondent the reasonable amount of
P20,000.00 a month beginning July 1975 until it vacates the same and the possession
thereof restored to the private respondent, plus an additional interest of 6% per
annum on the total amount due upon the finality of this Decision until the same is fully
paid. Petitioner is further ordered to pay private respondent attorney's fees equivalent
to 15% of the amount due her under the premises.

Accordingly, a writ of certiorari is hereby ISSUED in the sense that:

1. The decision of the RTC awarding just compensation of P1.48 Million is nullified. The
portion assessing the petitioner Republic for costs of suit is also declared null and void.

2. The Order of the RTC for the issuance of a writ of execution and the Writ of
Execution against government funds are hereby declared null and void.

However, consistent with the basic tenets of justice, fairness and equity, petitioner
Republic, thru the Office of the President, is hereby strongly enjoined to take the
necessary steps, and, with reasonable dispatch, make the appropriate budgetary
arrangements to pay private respondent Tarcila L. Mendoza or her assigns the amount
adjudged due her under this disposition.