Almirante: Limitation of writ of execution

Dominador A. Almirante

JERSON Servandil won a case for illegal dismissal he filed against A. De Vera Corp. The corporation was held liable to Servandil for backwages, separation pay and unpaid salary.

When the decision became final and executory, a writ of execution was issued against the movable and immovable properties of A. De Vera Corp. and of respondent Abraham De Vera. Consequently, a parcel of land registered in the name of respondent spouses Abraham and Remedios De Vera was levied upon and sold to petitioners Jaime Bilan Montealegre and Chamon’te Inc. at a public auction.

Subsequently, respondents filed an omnibus motion stating that the properties sold at auction does not belong to the judgment debtor, the corporation, but to them, who were not impleaded as party-respondents in the case for illegal dismissal.

The Court of Appeals (CA) reversed the resolutions of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) affirming the order of the Labor Arbiter (LA) denying the omnibus motion and instead directed the LA to implement the final and executory decision only against the assets of A. De Vera Corp.

Did the CA err?

Ruling: No.

We hold that the CA acted correctly.

As a general rule, a writ of execution must strictly conform to every particular of the judgment to be executed. It should not vary the terms of the judgment it seeks to enforce, nor may it go beyond the terms of the judgment sought to be executed, otherwise, if it is in excess of or beyond the original judgment or award, the execution is void. Furthermore, the power of the courts in executing judgments extends only to properties unquestionably belonging to the judgment debtor and liability may even be incurred by the sheriff for levying properties not belonging to the judgment debtor.

In Mandaue Dinghow Dimsum House Co. Inc. versus National Labor Relations Commission-fourth division, G.R. 161134, March 3, 2008, 547 SCRA 402, we ruled: The Order and the Alias Writ of Execution issued by the LA are null and void for lack of jurisdiction and for altering the tenor of the NLRC decision dated Oct. 24, 2000 which directed Mandaue Dinghow alone to pay the private respondents’ separation pay. The private respondents did not assail this ruling. Thus, the same became final and executory. Even granting that the NLRC committed a mistake in failing to indicate in the dispositive portion that Uytengsu was solidarily liable with Mandaue Dinghow, the correction—which is substantial—can no longer be allowed in this case because the judgment has already become final and executory.

Here, it is undisputed that the final and executory Nov. 27, 2003 LA Decision adjudged the corporation guilty of illegal dismissal and ordered it to pay Servandil separation pay and backwages. It did not mention respondents’ liability. Nevertheless, the Writ of Execution dated May 22, 2007 and the Alias Writ of Execution dated Feb. 11, 2008 were directed against the movable and immovable properties of both the corporation and respondent Abraham. Clearly, the writs of execution here exceeded the terms of the final and executory judgment of the LA.

Consequently, the CA correctly set aside the levy and sale of the subject property pursuant to said writs and the Aug. 25, 2011 order, which directed the issuance of a Final Deed of Sale in favor of petitioners, for being the offshoot of a void execution, as well as the NLRC resolutions dated March 29, 2012 and May 28, 2012, which affirmed the Aug. 25, 2011 order. (Jaime Bilan Montealegre and Chamon’te Inc. vs. Spouses Abraham and Remedios De Vera, G.R. 208920, July 10, 2019).