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SUPERLINES TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, INC. v. PHILIPPINE 1.

Replevin is an action whereby the owner or person entitled


NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY AND PEDRO BALUBAL to repossession of goods or chattels may recover those goods or chattels
from one who has wrongfully distrained or taken, or who wrongfully detains
519 SCRA 432 (2007), SECOND DIVISION such goods or chattels. It is designed to permit one having right to
possession to recover property in specie from one who has wrongfully taken
Superlines Transportation Company, Inc. (Superlines) is engaged in the or detained the property.
business of providing public transportation. One of its buses, while traveling
north and approaching the Alabang northbound exit lane, crashed into the 2. The RTC rightfully assumed jurisdiction over the suit and acted well
radio room of respondent Philippine National Construction Company within its discretion in denying Astorga’s motion to dismiss.
(PNCC). PNCC‘s Sofronio Salvanera, and Pedro Balubal, then head of SMART’s demand for payment of the market value of the car or, in the
traffic control and security department of the South Luzon tollway, alternative, the surrender of the car, is not a labor, but a civil, dispute. It
investigated the incident. The bus was turned over to the Alabang Traffic involves the relationship of debtor and creditor rather than employee-
Bureau for its own investigation. Because of lack of adequate space, traffic employer relations. As such, the dispute falls within the jurisdiction of the
investigator Pat. Cesar Lopera requested that the bus be towed by the regular courts.
PNCC patrol to its compound. Superlines made several requests for the
release of the bus but Balubal refused. Instead, Balubal demanded the sum 3. The labor dispute involved is not intertwined with the issue in the
of P40,000.00 or a collateral with the same value for the reconstruction of Replevin Case. The respective issues raised in each forum can be resolved
the damaged radio room. independently on the other.

Superlines filed a replevin suit with damages against PNCC and Balubal
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC). The trial court dismissed the
complaint and ordered Superlines to pay PNCC an amount of P40, 320.00,
representing actual damages to the radio room. The Court of Appeals (CA)
affirmed the decision and concluded that the case should have been PCI LEASING & FINANCE, INC., v. SPOUSES GEORGE M. DAI
brought against the police authorities. and DIVINADAI

ISSUE: 539 SCRA 9 (2007), 2ND DIVISION

Whether or not a suit for replevin is proper - NO Facts: Spouses George and Divina Dai, (Spouses Dai) obtained a loan from
PCI Leasing and Finance, Inc., (PCI) for the sum of P3,352,892 payable in
HELD: monthly installments of P152,265 for the financing of a vessel-fishing boat.
To secure the payment of the loan, Spouses Dai executed
Contrary to PNCC‘s contention, the petition raises questions of law a chattel mortgage over the vessel in favor of PCI Leasing.
foremost of which is whether the owner of a personal property may initiate
an action for replevin against a depositary and recover damages for illegal Both the promissory note and the chattel mortgage provided that, in case of
distraint. In a complaint for replevin, the claimant must failure to pay the installments or interest due thereon, the entire amount
convincingly show that he is either the owner or clearly entitled to the remaining unpaid shall immediately become due and payable. Spouses Dai
possession of the object sought to be recovered, and that the defendant, failed to pay the second and third installments. This prompted PCI
who is in actual or legal possession thereof, wrongfully detains the same. a complaint of replevin before the Regional Trial Court (RTC). In their
Answer, Spouses Dai claimed that, the possession of the vessel including
In the case at bar, Superlines‘ ownership of the bus being admitted by its registration certificate had been surrendered to PCI before the filing of
PNCC, consideration of whether PNCC has been wrongfully detaining it is the complaint. Spouses Dai thus prayed for the award of damages and
in order. The bus was towed by the PNCC on the request of Lopera in attorney‘s fees by way of Counterclaim.
violation of constitutional right against unreasonable seizures. The seizure
and impounding of Superlines‘s bus, on Lopera‘s request, were The RTC of Cebu resolved both issues but did not award any damages for
unquestionably violative of “the right to be let alone” by the authorities as both parties. No appeal was filed by either parties making
guaranteed by the Constitution. the decision final and executory. After more than a year, PCI filed another
complaint for deficiency judgement and/or collection of sum of money
Furthermore, the Supreme Court (SC) finds that it cannot pass upon the before the Cebu RTC. In its complaint PCI alleged that there is still a
same without impleading Lopera and any other police officer responsible for deficiency of P961,000.00 as of January of 1995 and prayed for
ordering the seizure and distraint of the bus. The police authorities, through other damages.
Lopera, having turned over the bus to PNCC for safekeeping, a contract of
deposit was perfected between them and PNCC. Superlines or the trial Issue: Whether or not a judgment in a replevin case and/or delivery of
court motu proprio may implead as defendants the indispensable parties personal property would bar a subsequent action for deficiency judgment. -
Lopera and any other responsible police officers. YES

Ruling:

For res jusdicata to apply, four requisites must be met: (1) the former
judgment or order must be final; (2) it must be a judgment or an order on
Smart Communications v Astorga the merits; (3) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction
over the subject matter and the parties; and (4) there must be, between the
Facts: Petitioner was dismissed due to redundancy following a joint venture first and second actions, identity of parties, of subject matter and cause of
by SMART. Petitioner filed a complaint for illegaldismissal. The company action.
demanded that she either pay the market value of a car given to her as part
of her employment benefits or to return thesame. Because she refused to Petitioner ignores the fact that it prayed in the replevin case that in the
do either, SMART filed a suit for replevin to recover the vehicle from her. event manual delivery of the vessel could not be effected, the court "render
She filed a motion to dismiss thereplevin suit. The motion to dismiss the judgment in its favor by ordering [herein respondents] to pay . . . the sum of
replevin case was denied. Petitioner then elevated the issue to the CA via ₱3,502,095.00 plus interest and penalty thereon from October 12, 1994
certiorari. The CA dismissedthe replevin suit on the ground that because until fully paid as provided in the Promissory Note."26
the case is intertwined with Astorga’s complaint for illegal dismissal, it is the
labor tribunal that hasrightful jurisdiction over the complaint. Both petitioner Since petitioner had extrajudicially foreclosed the chattel mortgage over the
and respondent brought the issues to the SC. vessel even before the pre-trial of the case, it should have therein raised as
issue during the pre-trial the award of a deficiency judgment. After all, the
Issue: WoN the RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint for recovery of a basis of its above-stated alternative prayer was the same as that of its
car acquired as part of employment benefits. – YES prayer for replevin – the default of respondents in the payment of the
monthly installments of their loan.27 But it did not.1âwphi1
Ruling:
replevin is, as the above-cited BA Finance Corp. case holds, usually Service of the writ upon the adverse party is mandatory in line with the
described as a mixed action. constitutional guaranty on procedural due process and as safeguard against
unreasonable searches and seizures.
Replevin, broadly understood, is both a form of principal remedy and of a
provisional relief. It may refer either to the action itself, i.e., to regain the In the case at bar since the writ was invalidly served, petitioner is correct in
possession of personal chattels being wrongfully detained from the plaintiff contending that there is no reckoning point from which the mandatory five-
by another, or to the provisional remedy that would allow the plaintiff to day period shall commence to run.
retain the thing during the pendency of the action and hold it pendente lite.
The action is primarily possessory in nature and generally determines The writ must satisfy proper service in order to be valid and effective: i.e. it
nothing more than the right of possession. Replevin is so usually described should be directed to the officer who is authorized to serve it; and it should
as a mixed action, being partly in rem and partly in personam – in rem be served upon the person who not only has the possession or custody of
insofar as the recovery of specific property is concerned, and in personam the property involved but who is also a party or agent of a party to the
as regards to damages involved. As an "action in rem," the gist of the action. Consequently, a trial court is deemed to have acted without or in
replevin action is the right of the plaintiff to obtain possession of specific excess of its jurisdiction with respect to the ancillary action of replevin if it
personal property by reason of his being the owner or of his having a seizes and detains a personalty on the basis of a writ that was improperly
special interest therein. (Citations omitted, italics in the original, served, such as what happened in this case.
underscoring supplied)
Petitioner’s proper remedy should have been to file a motion to quash the
Petitioner’s complaint for replevin was doubtless a mixed action – in rem writ of replevin or a motion to vacate the order of seizure. Nevertheless,
with respect to its prayer for the recovery of the vessel, and in personam petitioner’s filing of an application for a redelivery bond, while not
with respect to its claim for damages. And it was, with respect to its necessary, did not thereby waive her right to question the improper service.
alternative prayer, clearly one in personam.
The trial for the main action shall continue. Respondent may, however, file a
Following paragraph (b) of Section 49, Rule 39 of the 1964 Rules of Court, new application for replevin should he choose to do so.
now 47 of Rule 39 of the present Rules, petitioner’s second complaint is
unquestionably barred by res judicata.

Section 1, Republic Act (RA) No. 8506, which took effect on February 22,
1998, provides that it shall be unlawful for any person to import, cause the
Rivera vs. Vargas, GR 165895, June 5, 2009
importation of, register, cause the registration of, use or operate any vehicle
(Procedural Remedies: Improper service of writ of replevin) with its steering wheel right hand side thereof in any highway, street or
road,whether private or public, or at the national or local x x x.
Facts: Petitioner avers that the writ of replevin was served upon and signed
by the security guard on duty where the rock-crushing plant to be seized Noel Tabuelog, Ernesto de Jesus, and other defendants are duly-licensed
was located contrary to the sheriff’s return stating that both the writ and the importers of vehicles. Sometime in April and May 1998, they imported 72
summons was served upon petitioner. Nine (9) days after the writ was secondhand right-hand drive buses from Japan. When the shipment arrived
served on the security guard, petitioner filed an answer to the complaint at the South Harbor, Port of Manila, the District Collector of Customs
accompanied by a prayer for the approval of her redelivery bond. The RTC, impounded the vehicles and ordered them stored at the warehouse of the
however, denied the redelivery bond for having been filed beyond the five- Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI), a customs-bonded warehouse under the
day mandatory period prescribed in Sections 5 and 6 of Rule 60. custody of the Aviation and Cargo Regional Division. Conformably with
Section 2607 of the Tariff and Customs Code, the District Collector of
Petitioner argues in the case at bar via the petition on Rule 45 that the RTC Customs issued Warrants of Distraint [3] against the shipment and set the
committed grave abuse of discretion in denying her counterbond on the sale at public auction.
ground that it was filed out of time. She contends that the mandatory five-
day period did not even begin to run in this case due to the improper service The defendant importers filed a complaint with the RTC of Paranaque City,
of the writ of replevin, contrary to Section 4 of Rule 60. against the Secretary of Finance, Customs Commissioner, and the Chief
Executive of the Societe Generale de Surillee, for replevin with prayer for
the issuance of a writ of preliminary and mandatory injunction and
damages.
Issue: WON the denial of counterbond filed beyond the 5 day mandatory
period is erroneous considering the writ was improperly served. They averred, inter alia, that in accordance with the opinion of the Assistant
Director of the Customs Legal Service and the Office of the Legal Affairs of
the Department of Finance, the importation of right-hand drive vehicles are
not prohibited under RA No. 8506 provided that conversion kits are included
Held: Yes. in the imported vehicles.
Before a final judgment, property cannot be seized unless by virtue of some The RTC granted the application for a writ of replevin on a bond
provision of law. The Rules of Court, under Rule 60, authorizes such of P12,000,000.00 in favor of defendants therein (Sec. of Finance, Customs
seizure in cases of replevin. However, a person seeking a remedy in an Commissioner and Chief Executive of Societe Generale de Surillee)
action for replevin must follow the course laid down in the statute, since the
remedy is penal in nature. When no attempt is made to comply with the The defendants, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed an
provisions of the law relating to seizure in this kind of action, the writ or Omnibus Motion [13] , seeking the reconsideration of the RTC Order
order allowing the seizure is erroneous and may be set aside on motion by granting plaintiffs plea for a writ of replevin. It likewise prayed that the writ of
the adverse party. replevin issued by the court be quashed on the ground that the RTC has no
jurisdiction over the vehicles subject of seizure and detention before the
The process regarding the execution of the writ of replevin in Section 4 of Bureau of Customs.
Rule 60 is unambiguous: the sheriff, upon receipt of the writ of replevin and
prior to the taking of the property, must serve a copy thereof to the adverse The OSG declared that the Bureau of Customs, which had custody of the
party (petitioner, in this case) together with the application, the affidavit of vehicles through ATI, had exclusive jurisdiction over said vehicles and on
merit, and the replevin bond. The reasons are simple, i.e., to provide proper the issues of the seizure and detention thereof. ATI filed a motion for the
notice to the adverse party that his property is being seized in accordance court to allow the vehicles to remain in its warehouse,
with the court’s order upon application by the other party, and ultimately to
allow the adverse party to take the proper remedy consequent thereto. Thereafter, ATI filed a Third-Party Claim [15] over the shipment, alleging
that it had a lien over the vehicles for accumulated and unpaid storage and
arrastre charges, and wharfage dues.
Before the court could resolve the motions, plaintiff importers filed a as the offender, without reference whatsoever to the character or conduct of
Motion/Notice to Dismiss/Withdraw Complaint [18] against the officials of the owner.
the Bureau of Customs and Department of Finance, on the ground that said
defendants had agreed to the implementation of the writ of replevin issued In fine, the initial orders of the RTC granting the issuance of the writ of
by the court on condition that plaintiffs pay the taxes, dues, and other replevin and its implementation are void. [37] While it is true that the District
charges on the importation amounting to P7,528,635.00 to the government Collector of Customs allowed the release of the vehicles and the transfer
and that plaintiffs had paid the said amount. thereof to the custody of the RTC upon the payment by the private
respondents of the required taxes, duties and charges, he did not thereby
ATI filed a Motion for Intervention and for Admission of its Complaint-in- lose jurisdiction over the vehicles; neither did it vest jurisdiction on the RTC
Intervention, alleging that it had a lien on the vehicles to the extent of to take cognizance of and assume jurisdiction over the petition for
P13,820,150.93, representing accumulated storage and arrastre charges replevin. As very well explained by the Office of the Solicitor General, the
and wharfage dues. District Collector of Customs agreed to transfer the vehicles to the custody
of the RTC since the latter had ordered the arrest of those who would
RTC issued its Order dismissing the Complaint-in-Intervention. obstruct the implementation of the writ. The District Collector of Customs
had yet to resolve whether to order the vehicles forfeited in favor of the
CA denied the Petition for Certiorari filed by ATI under Rule 65. government, in light of the opinion of the Secretary of Justice that, under RA
No. 8506, the importation was illegal.
ISSUE:
2. The RTC cannot be faulted for dismissing petitioners complaint-in-
1. WON the RTC has jurisdiction to try the case? No
intervention. Considering that it had no jurisdiction over respondents’ action
and over the shipment subject of the complaint, all proceedings before it
2. WON the RTC erred in dismissing the Complaint-in-Intervention? No
would be void. [38] The RTC had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the
RULING: complaint-in-intervention and act thereon except to dismiss the same.

1. Section 602 of the TCC provides that the Bureau of Customs shall
exercise exclusive jurisdiction over seized and forfeited cars. It is tasked to
enforce tariff, and supervise and control customs law and all other laws,
rules and regulations relating to the tariff and customs administration; and to
Servicewide Specialists v CA
supervise and control all import and export cargoes, loaded or stored in
piers, terminal facilities, including container yards and freight stations, for FACTS:
the protection of government revenues. Under Section 2301 of the TCC, the
Collector of Customs is empowered to make a seizure of cargoes and issue 1. Leticia Laus purchased on credit a Colt Galant xxx from Fortune Motors
a receipt for the detention thereof: (Phils.) Corporation and executed a promissory note for the amount
of P56,028.00, inclusive of 12% annual interest, payable within a period of
SEC. 2301. Warrant for Detention of Property-Cash Bond. Upon making 48 months. In case of default in the payment of any installment, the total
any seizure, the Collector shall issue a warrant for the detention of the principal sum, together with the interest, shall become immediately due and
property; and if the owner or importer desires to secure the release of the payable.
property for legitimate use, the Collector shall, with the approval of the
Commissioner of Customs, surrender it upon the filing of a cash bond, in an 2. As a security for the promissory note, a chattel mortgage was constituted
amount to be fixed by him x x x over the said motor vehicle, with a deed of assignment incorporated therein
such that the credit and mortgage rights were assigned by Fortune Motors
Section 2530 of the TCC enumerates the properties subject of seizure and Corp. in favor of Filinvest Credit Corporation with the consent of the
forfeiture: mortgagor-debtor Laus.
Section 2530. Property Subject of Forfeiture Under Tariff and Customs 3. Filinvest in turn assigned the credit in favor of Servicewide Specialists,
Laws. Any vehicle, vessel or aircraft, cargo, article and objects shall, under Inc.
the following conditions be subject to forfeiture:
4. Laus failed to pay the monthly installment for April 1977 and
xxxx the succeeding 17 months. Servicewide demanded payment of the entire
outstanding balance with interests but Laus failed to pay despite formal
(f) Any article the importation or exportation of which is effected or
demands.
attempted contrary to law, or any article of prohibited importation or
exportation, and all other articles which, in the opinion of the Collector, have 5. As a result of Laus’ failure to settle her obligation, or at least to surrender
been used, are or were entered to be used as instruments in the importation possession of the motor vehicle for foreclosure, Servicewide instituted a
or exportation of the former. complaint for replevin, impleading Hilda Tee and John Dee in whose
custody the vehicle was believed to be at the time of the filing of the
Moreover, as the Court ruled in Jao v. Court of Appeals, [34] Regional Trial
suit. Plaintiff alleged, among others, that it had superior lien over the
Courts are devoid of any competence to pass upon the validity or regularity
mortgaged vehicle. The court approved the replevin bond.
of seizure and forfeiture proceedings conducted by the Bureau of Customs
and to enjoin or otherwise interfere with these proceedings. It is the 6. Alberto Villafranca filed a third party claim contending that he is the
Collector of Customs, sitting in seizure and forfeiture proceedings, who absolute owner of the subject motor vehicle after purchasing it from a
has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all questions touching on certain Remedios Yang free from all lien and emcumbrances; and that on
the seizure and forfeiture of dutiable goods. July 1984, the said automobile was taken from his residence by Deputy
Sheriff Bernardo Bernabe pursuant to the seizure order issued by the court
Thus, the RTC had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition for
a quo.
replevin by respondents herein, issue the writ of replevin and order its
enforcement. The Collector of Customs had already seized the vehicles and 7. Upon motion of the plaintiff below, Villafranca was substituted as
set the sale thereof at public auction. The RTC should have dismissed the defendant and summons was served upon him. Villafranca moved for the
petition for replevin at the outset. By granting the plea of respondents dismissal of the complaint on the ground that there is another action
(plaintiffs below) for the seizure of the vehicles and the transfer of custody pending between the same parties before the Makati RTC. The court
to the court, the RTC acted without jurisdiction over the action and the granted the the motion but subsequently set aside the order of dismissal.
vehicles subject matter thereof. It bears stressing that the forfeiture of For failure to file his Answer as required by the court a quo, Villafranca was
seized goods in the Bureau of Customs is a proceeding against the goods declared in default and plaintiff’s evidence was received ex parte.
and not against the owner. It is in the nature of a proceeding in rem,
i.e., directed against the res or imported articles and entails a determination 8. The lower court later on dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of
of the legality of their importation. In this proceeding, it is, in legal evidence. Its motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner
contemplation, the property itself which commits the violation and is treated appealed to CA on the ground that a suit for replevin aimed at the
foreclosure of a chattel is an action quasi in rem, and does not require the In its Answer with counter-application for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction,
inclusion of the principal obligor in the Complaint. Rufina claimed that the marked bottles it used as containers for its products
were purchased from junk dealers; hence, it became the owner thereof.
9. CA affirmed the RTC decision. It also denied petitioner’s MR, hence, the
present petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. It is worth noting that Lorenzana Food Corporation which prevailed in the
case filed by Twin Ace against it is certainly not a small scale industry. Just
like Rufina, Lorenzana Food Corporation also manufactures and exports
processed foods and other related products, e.g., patis, toyo, bagoong,
ISSUE: vinegar and other food seasonings.
W/N a case for replevin may be pursued against the defendant, Alberto It is a basic rule in statutory construction that when the law is clear and free
Villafranca, without impleading the absconding debtor-mortgagor from any doubt or ambiguity, there is no room for construction or
interpretation. As has been our consistent ruling, where the law speaks in
clear and categorical language, there is no occasion for interpretation; there
is only room for application.
HELD:
Notably, attempts to amend the protection afforded by Section 6 of Republic
No. Rule 60 of the Revised Rules of Court requires that an applicant for
Act No. 623, by giving protection only to small scale manufacturers or those
replevin must show that he “is the owner of the property claimed,
with a capitalization of five hundred thousand pesos or less (P500,000.00),
particularly describing it, or is entitled to the possession thereof.” Where the
through then House Bill No. 20585, 18 and subsequently through House Bill
right of the plaintiff to the possession of the specified property is so
No. 30400, proved unsuccessful as the amendment proposed in both Bills
conceded or evident, the action need only be maintained against him who
was never passed.
so possesses the property. In rem action est per quam rem nostram quae
ab alio possidetur petimus, et semper adversus eum est qui rem possidet.
Section 6 of R. A 623, as amended by R.A 5700 does not prohibit use of
bottles as containers for sisi, bagoong, patis, and similar native products.

Issue: Whether or not Rufina is covered within the exemption provided by


However, in case the right of possession on the part of the plaintiff, or his
sectionof R.A 623, as amended by R.A 5700 being a large scale producer
authority to claim such possession or that of his principal, is put to great
doubt (a contending party may contest the legal bases for plaintiff’s cause
Ruling: YES
of action or an adverse and independent claim of ownership or right of
possession may be raised by that party), it could become essential to have In view of these considerations, we find and so hold that the exemption
other persons involved and impleaded for a complete determination and contained in Section 6 of Rep. Act No. 623 applies to all manufacturers of
resolution of the controversy. sisi, bagoong, patis and similar native products without distinction or
qualification as to whether they are small, medium or large scale.

In this case, Twin Ace has not shown that it is entitled to the possession of
In a suit for replevin, a clear right of possession must be established. The
the bottles in question and consequently there is thus no basis for the
conditions essential for foreclosure of chattel mortgage would be to show,
demand by it of due compensation.
firstly, the existence of the chattel mortgage and, secondly, the default of
the mortgagor. Since the mortgagee’s right of possession is conditioned Petitioner cannot seek refuge in Sec. 5 of RA No. 623 to support its claim of
upon the actual fact of default which itself may be controverted, the continuing ownership over the subject bottles. In United States v. Manuel [7
inclusion of other parties, like the debtor or the mortgagor himself, may be Phil. 221 (1906)] we held that since the purchaser at his discretion could
required in order to allow a full and conclusive determination of the either retain or return the bottles, the transaction must be regarded as a
case. Laus, being an indispensable party, should have been impleaded in sale of the bottles when the purchaser actually exercised that discretion and
the complaint for replevin and damages. An indispensable party is one decided not to return them to the vendor. We also take judicial notice of the
whose interest will be affected by the court’s action in the litigation, and standard practice today that the cost of the container is included in the
without whom no final determination of the case can be had. Petition selling price of the product such that the buyer of liquor or any such product
DENIED. from any store is not required to return the bottle nor is the liquor placed in a
plastic container that possession of the bottle is retained by the store.

Factoran v CA
TWIN ACE HOLDINGS CORPORATION VS. RUFINA AND COMPANY
FACTS:
G.R. NO. 160191

JUNE 08, 2006


On August 9, 1988 two police officers of Marikina Police Station, Sub-
Facts:
Station III, intercepted a six-wheeler truck carrying 4,000 board feet of narra
lumber as it was cruising along Marcos Highway. They apprehended the
On 3 December 1991, Twin Ace Holdings Corporation (Twin Ace) filed a
truck driver, private respondent Jesus Sy, and brought the truck and its
Complaint for recovery of possession of personal property, permanent
cargo to the Personnel Investigation Committee/Special Actions and
injunction and damages with prayer for the issuance of a writ of replevin,
Investigation Division (PIC/SAID) of DENR Office in Quezon City. There,
temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction against
petitioner Atty. Vicente Robles of the PIC/SAID investigated them, and
Rufina and Company (Rufina).
discovered the discrepancies in the documentation of the narra lumber.
As alleged in the complaint, Twin Ace is a private domestic corporation
engaged in the manufacture of rhum, wines and liquor under the name and
style “Tanduay Distillers”
What were declared in the documents were narra flitches, while the cargo of
the truck consisted of narra lumber. In the documents, the plate numbers of
On the other hand, Rufina is engaged in the production, extraction,
the truck supposed to carry the cargo bear the numbers BAX-404, PEC-492
fermentation and manufacture of patis and other food seasonings and is
or NSN-267, while the plate of the truck apprehended is NVT-881.
engaged in the buying and selling of all kinds of foods, merchandise and
Considering that the cargo is lumber, the transport should have been
products for domestic use or for export to other countries.
accompanied by a Certificate of Lumber Origin, scale sheet of said lumber
and not by a Certificate of Timber Origin. The Log Sale Purchase
Agreement presented is between DSM Golden Cup International as the was refused, petitioners' Manifestation having already been set for hearing
Seller and Bonamy Enterprises as the buyer/consignee and not with Lily on March 30, 1989.
Francisco Lumber Hardware.

On March 27, 1989, petitioners made another attempt to post a


These are in violation of Bureau of Forestry Development (BFD) Circular counterbond but was also denied for the same reason.
No. 10 which requires possession or transportation of lumber to be
supported by the following documents:

Certificate of Lumber Origin (CLO) which shall be issued only by the District On the same day, private respondents filed a motion to declare petitioners
Forester, or in his absence, the Assistant District Forester; in contempt for disobeying the writ of seizure. The trial court gave
petitioners 24 hours to answer the motion. Hearing was scheduled on
Sales Invoice; March 30, 1989.

Delivery Receipt; and

Tally Sheets. On March 29, 1989, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for
Certiorari, Prohibition and/or Mandamus to annul the orders of the trial court
dated March 20, 1989 and March 27, 1989.

Such omission is punishable under Sec. 68 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) On March 30, 1989, the Court of Appeals granted petitioners temporary
No. 705 otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code. Thus, petitioner relief in the form of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Atty. Robles issued a temporary seizure order and seizure receipt for the
narra lumber and the six-wheeler truck.

On September 11, 1989, the Court of Appeals converted the TRO into a writ
of preliminary injunction upon filing by petitioners of a bond in the amount of
On January 20, 1989, petitioner Fulgencio S. Factoran, then Secretary of P180,000.00.
Environment and Natural Resources issued an order for the confiscation of
the narra lumber and the six-wheeler truck

On March 30, 1990, the Court of Appeals lifted the writ of preliminary
injunction and dismissed the petition. It declared that the complaint for
Private respondents neither asked for reconsideration of nor appealed the replevin filed by the private respondents complied with the requirements of
said order to the Office of the President. Consequently, the narra lumber an affidavit and bond under Sec. 1 and 2 of Rule 60 of the Revised Rules of
and six-wheeler truck were forfeited in favor of the government and were Court, issuance of the writ of replevin was mandatory.
later on advertised to be sold at a public auction on March 20, 1989.

As for the contempt charges against the petitioners, the Court of Appeals
On March 17, 1989, private respondents filed a complaint with prayer for believed that the same were sufficiently based on a written charge by
the issuance of the writs of replevin and preliminary injunction and/or private respondents and the reports submitted by the Sheriff.
temporary restraining order for the recovery of the confiscated items, and to
enjoin the panned auction sale of the subject narra lumber, respectively.

On April 25, 1990, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the


foregoing decision but it was subsequently denied by the Court of Appeals
On the same day, the trial court issued an order directing the parties to in its Resolution dated May 18, 1990.
desist from proceeding with the planned auction sale and setting the
hearing for the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction on March 27,
1989.
Hence this petition.

On March 20, 1989, private respondents filed and Ex-Parte motion for
Release and Return of Goods and Documents (Replevin) supported by an ISSUE:
Affidavit for Issuance of Writ of Replevin and Preliminary Injunction and a
Replevin Bond in the amount of P180,000.00. The trial court granted the
writ of replevin on the same day and directed the petitioners "to deliver the
Whether or not the RTC was correct in the issuance of a writ of replevin and
xxx [n]arra lumber, original documents and truck with plate no. NJT 881 to
the Court of Appeals in dismissing the petition and lifting the preliminary
the custody of the plaintiffs and/or their representatives x x x".
injunction.

On March 22, 1989, the trial court issued a writ of seizure. However,
RULING:
petitioners refused to comply therewith. Sheriff David G. Brodett of Branch
80 of the RTC of Quezon City, reported that the petitioners prevented him
from removing the subject properties from the DENR compound and
transferring them to the Mobile Unit compound of the Quezon City Police Pursuant to Sec. 8 of P.D. No. 705, all actions and decision of the Director
Force. He then agreed to a constructive possession of the properties. On are subject to review, motu propio or upon appeal of any person aggrieved
that same day, petitioners filed a Manifestation stating their intention to file a thereby, by the Department Head whose decision shall be final and
counterbond under Rule 60 of the Rules of Court to stay the execution of executory after the lapse of 30 days from the receipt by the aggrieved party
the writ of seizure and to post a cash bond in the amount of P180,000.00. of said decision unless appealed to the President. The decision of the
The trial court did not oblige the petitioners for they failed to serve a copy of Department Head may not be reviewed by the courts except through a
the Manifestation on the private respondents. Petitioners then made special civil action for certiorari or prohibition.
immediately the required service and tendered the cash counterbond but it
It was observed by the Court that herein respondents never appealed the
confiscation order of the petitioner Secretary to the Office of the President.
Finally. The writ or seizure and the writ of replevin was issued by the trial
court in grave abuse of its discretion. Thus, disobedience thereto cannot
constitute indirect contempt of court which presupposes that the court order
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is basic. Courts, for thereby violated was valid and legal. Without a lawful order being issued, no
reasons of law, comity and convenience, should not entertain suits unless contempt of court could be committed.
the available administrative remedies have first been resorted to and proper
authorities have been given an appropriate opportunity to act and correct
their alleged errors, if any, committed in the administrative forum.
The instant petition is granted. The decision of the Court of Appeals dated
March 30, 1990 and its Resolution dated May 18, 1990 were set aside.
Respondent presiding judge of the RTC of Quezon City was permanently
It was pointed out by the Court in Paat vs. Court of Appeals that the enjoined from enforcing the Orders dated March 20, 1989 and March 22,
enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations and the protection, 1989, or if said orders had already been issued, said respondent judge was
development and management of forest land fall within the primary and directed to render judgement of forfeiture of replevin bond filed by private
special responsibilities of the DENR. It held that assumption of the trial court respondents. Finally, the said respondent judge is hereby permanently
of a replevin suit constitutes an encroachment into the domain of the enjoined from further acting on the Motion for Contempt filed by private
administrative agency's prerogative. The doctrine of preliminary jurisdiction respondents against petitioners.
does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a
controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an
administrative body of special competence.

Serg’s Products, Inc. vs. PCI Leasing G.R. No. 137705. August 22, 2000
However, herein petitioners did not a motion to dismiss on the ground of
non-exhaustion of administrative remedies. Thus, it is deemed waived. FACTS:

PCI Leasing and Finance filed a complaint for sum of money, with an
application for a writ of replevin.
Nonetheless, the Court finds the petition impressed with merit.
Judge issued a writ of replevin directing its sheriff to seize and deliver the
machineries and equipment to PCI Leasing after 5 days and upon the
payment of the necessary expenses.
First. A writ of replevin does not issue as a matter of course upon the
applicant's filing of a bond and affidavit, as the Court of Appeals has The sheriff proceeded to petitioner's factory, seized one machinery, with
wrongly put it. The mere filing of an affidavit, sans allegations therein that word that he would return for other machineries.
satisfy the requirements of Section 2 Rule 60 of the Revised Rules of Court,
cannot justify the issuance of a writ of replevin. Wrongful detention of the Petitioner (Serg’s Products) filed a motion for special protective order to
properties sought in an action for replevin must be satisfactory established. defer enforcement of the writ of replevin.
If only mechanistic averment thereof is offered, the writ should not be
issued. PCI Leasing opposed the motion on the ground that the properties were still
personal and therefore can still be subjected to seizure and writ of replevin.

Petitioner asserted that properties sought to be seized were immovable as


In the case at bar, the taking of the subject property was within the defined in Article 415 of the Civil Code.
administrative authority of the Secretary as provided by Section 68-A of
P.D. No. 705. Thus, it is not wrongful and does not warrant the issuance of Sheriff was still able to take possession of two more machineries
a writ of replevin prayed for by the private respondents.
In its decision on the original action for certiorari filed by the Petitioner, the
appellate court, Citing the Agreement of the parties, held that the subject
machines were personal property, and that they had only been leased, not
Second. By virtue of the confiscation order by petitioner Secretary, the owned, by petitioners; and ruled that the "words of the contract are clear
subject properties of private respondents were held in custodia legis and and leave no doubt upon the true intention of the contracting parties."
hence, beyond the reach of replevin. Property lawfully taken by virtue of
legal process is deemed to be in custodia legis. So basic is this doctrine
that it found inclusion in the 1997 amendments introduced to the Rules of
ISSUE: Whether or not the machineries became real property by virtue of
Civil Procedure.
immobilization.

Third. Petitioner Secretary's authority to confiscate forest products under


Ruling:
SEction 68-A of P.D. No. 705 is distinct and independent of the confiscation
of forest products in a criminal action provided for in Section 68 of P.D. No.
Petitioners contend that the subject machines used in their factory were not
705.
proper subjects of the Writ issued by the RTC, because they were in fact
real property.

Writ of Replevin: Rule 60 of the Rules of Court provides that writs of


Fourth. SEction 80 of P.D. No. 705 which requires the delivery of the seized
replevin are issued for the recovery of personal property only.
forest products within six (6) hours from the time of the seizure to the
appropriate official designated by law to conduct preliminary investigations
Article 415 (5) of the Civil Code provides that machinery, receptacles,
applies only to criminal prosecutions provided for in Section 68 and not to
instruments or implements intended by the owner of the tenement for an
administrative confiscation provided for in Section 68-A.
industry or works which may be carried on in a building or on a piece of
land, and which tend directly to meet the needs of the said industry or works

In the present case, the machines that were the subjects of the Writ of
Fifth. Nothing in the records supports private respondents' allegation that
Seizure were placed by petitioners in the factory built on their own
their right to due process was violated as no investigation was conducted
land.They were essential and principal elements of their chocolate-making
prior to confiscation of their properties.
industry.Hence, although each of them was movable or personal property
on its own, all of them have become “immobilized by destination because the resolution be furnished the Supreme Court thru the Court Administrator
they are essential and principal elements in the industry.” for administrative proceedings against herein respondent.

However, contracting parties may validly stipulate that a real property be On February 12, 1999, the Court Administrator required herein respondent
considered as personal. After agreeing to such stipulation, they are to comment on the affidavit-complaint and amended complaint.
consequently estopped from claiming otherwise.Under the principle of
estoppel, a party to a contract is ordinarily precluded from denying the truth In his comment, respondent claimed that he issued the "Sheriff's
of any material fact found therein. Deputization" in good faith although he admitted that his act was
unlawful. He contended that his only purpose for issuing the same was to
Section 12.1 of the Agreement between the parties provides “The seek the assistance of the Chief of Police of Nueva Ecija because he was
PROPERTY is, and shall at all times be and remain, personal property not familiar with the place and for said Chief of Police to seize the
notwithstanding that the PROPERTY or any part thereof may now be, or vehicle. Moreover, he opined that complainant was a very powerful and
hereafter become, in any manner affixed or attached to or embedded in, or influential person as shown by her ability to remove the vehicle from the
permanently resting upon, real property or any building thereon, or attached motorshop without seeking the permission of the court.
in any manner to what is permanent.”
On July 3, 2000, the Court issued a resolution directing the docketing of the
The machines are personal property and they are proper subjects of the case as a regular administrative proceeding and requiring the parties to
Writ of Replevin. manifest if they are willing to submit the case as the basis of the pleadings
already filed. Only respondent sheriff filed a manifestation. Complainant's
silence was considered as a conforme to the submission of the case for
resolution on the basis of the pleadings thus filed.

In his report, the Court Administrator found the complaint meritorious and
[A.M. No. P-00-1391. September 28, 2001] recommended that a fine of P5,000.00 be imposed upon the
respondent, viz:
LIBRADA D. TORRES, complainant, vs. NELSON C. CABESUELA, Sheriff
III, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 9, Manila, respondent. The act of respondent in issuing the Sheriffs Deputization is without legal
basis.
RESOLUTION
First, respondent should have known that under Administrative Circular No.
KAPUNAN, J.:
12 (5) it is provided that "No sheriff or deputy sheriff shall execute a court
writ outside his territorial jurisdiction without first notifying in writing and
On July 3, 1998, this Court received from the Deputy Ombudsman for the
seeking the assistance of, the sheriff of the place where the execution shall
Military the complete records of OMB-1-97-0659 entitled Librada D. Torres
take place".
versus Senior Inspector Elmer Beltejar, SPO1 Alfredo Caday, PO3
Armando Francisco, PO3 Randy Beltran, all members of the Philippine
Respondent's act of implementing the writ in Nueva Ecija when his territorial
National Police Station, San Antonio, Nueva Ecija and Sheriff Nelson C.
jurisdiction is confined only to Manila is a clear violation of the law. The
Cabesuela of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 9, Manila for
proper recourse would have been to seek the assistance of the sheriff of
violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019[1] (Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Nueva Ecija rather than deputizing the police officer of said place.
Practices Act) relative to Civil Case No. 151528-CV of the MeTC, Branch 9,
Manila docket. Furthermore, in Tordesillas vs. Basco (108 SCRA 551, 556) it was held that
under Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 60 of the Rules of Court, it is the personal
It appears from the records that complainant Torres executed an affidavit-
duty and responsibility of the sheriff to personallyimplement the writ and it
complaint dated December 20, 1996 alleging that she is one of the owners
constitutes serious misconduct and gross negligence for a sheriff to
of San Antonio High School in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija. Said school is the
delegate his primary role in implementing a writ of seizure. Respondent's
owner of a Mitsubishi Pajero mortgaged to Philam Savings Bank, Inc. The
absence during the seizure of the subject vehicle by the police officers falls
school failed to pay its obligation so the bank filed a complaint for replevin
squarely within this prohibition for which he should be held liable.
and damages. On September 6, 1996, Judge Amelia A. Fabros of MeTC,
Branch 9, Manila, granted the bank's prayer for a writ of We agree with the Court Administrator and hereby adopt his findings and
replevin. Consequently, a writ of replevin addressed to respondent sheriff recommendation.
was issued. On December 2, 1996, said vehicle was taken from
complainant's residence by the members of the PNP , San Antonio, Nueva Sheriffs are ministerial officers. Their office is to execute all writs returnable
Ecija, named herein. Later on, complainant filed a motion to amend the to the court, unless another is appointed, by special order of the court, for
complaint to include herein sheriff as respondent in the complaint since it the purpose.[2]
was by virtue of the "Sheriff's Deputization" issued by respondent that
respondent police officers were able to "implement" the writ. As a ministerial officer, respondent sheriff should have known that it was his
duty, in the absence of instructions, to faithfully perform what was
Respondent sheriff filed a motion to dismiss alleging that after Judge incumbent upon him to do. Administrative Circular No. 12 was promulgated
Fabros came out with the writ of seizure, he issued the "Sheriffs in order to streamline the service and execution of court writs and
Deputization" addressed to the Chief of Police of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija processes in the reorganized courts under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 and to
requesting for assistance in the implementation of said writ. According to better serve the public good and facilitate the administration of justice.
him, he "deputized" the police officers only after he attempted to implement Paragraph 5 of said Circular is clear and self-explanatory. "No sheriff or
the writ and found the vehicle at a local motorshop undergoing deputy sheriff shall execute a court writ outside his territorial jurisdiction
repairs. Because of this, he opted to "constructively seize" the vehicle by without first notifying in writing, and seeking the assistance of the sheriff of
serving copies of the complaint, summons and bond to complainant and a the place where the execution shall take place." Accordingly, as sheriff of
certain Ignacio Gonzales. the MeTC, Branch 9 of the City of Manila, respondent sheriff of San
Antonio, Nueva Ecija, to enforce the subject writ instead of unlawfully
Complainant filed her opposition and/or comment thereto contending that deputizing the Chief of Police of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija.
the act of the respondent in deputizing the police officers in implementing
the writ of seizure did not find support in law and in the Rules of Court. She Officers of the court and all court personnel are exhorted to be vigilant in the
stated that respondent usurped the powers of Judge Fabros. execution of the law. Sheriffs, as agents of the law, are therefore called
upon to discharge their duties with due care and utmost diligence. They
On September 26, 1997, the motion to dismiss was denied. cannot afford to err in serving court writs and processes and in
implementing court orders lest they undermine the integrity of their office
On November 20, 1997, the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military issued a
and the efficient administration of justice.[3]
resolution recommending the filing of an information for violation of Section
3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 against the police officers and herein respondent but WHEREFORE, respondent NELSON C. CABESUELA is hereby found
dismissing the case for violation of R.A. No.6713 and Article 177 of the GUILTY of abuse of authority and is ORDERED to pay a FINE in the
Revised Penal Code. The same resolution likewise directed that a copy of
amount of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) with a stern warning that submission of counter-bond. On 21 May 2004, complainants filed a
a repetition of similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. motion[7] to withdraw the urgent motion, attaching thereto an omnibus
motion[8] for entry of appearance, urgent setting of hearing, and redelivery
SO ORDERED. of the vehicle to them. Pursuant to Section 5 of Rule 60, complainants
required the return of the vehicle to them by filing a counter-bond and
serving Glor a copy of the counter-bond.[9]

Because the trial court failed to approve complainants counter-bond within


the five-day period provided in Section 6 of Rule 60, Glor, in a
Bautista v Sula
letter[10] dated 24 May 2004, asked respondent to deliver the vehicle to
her. In a letter[11] dated 26 May 2004, complainants asked respondent not
The Facts
to deliver the vehicle to Glor because (1) pursuant to Section 5, they had
required the return of the vehicle to them and filed the corresponding
counter-bond; (2) the vehicles delivery to Glor was not justified under
On 6 December 2003, Ruth B. Bautista (Ruth) borrowed P300,000 Section 6; and (3) there was no order from the trial court directing the
from Ceniza C. Glor (Glor). The loan, payable in three months, bore a delivery to Glor. In a letter[12] dated 26 May 2004, Glor reiterated her
monthly interest of five percent. The three-month period commenced on 6 demand on respondent to deliver the vehicle to her; otherwise, she would
December 2003 and expired on 6 March 2004. To secure the loan, Ruth be constrained to pursue legal actions against him.
executed a chattel mortgage over her Honda CRV in favor of Glor.[1]

On 26 May 2004, complainants alleged that respondent approached them


in the Quezon City Hall of Justice building asking them to wait for him by the
benches at the back of the second floor. There, respondent told them that
Upon maturity of the loan, Glor repeatedly demanded payment from he was willing to ignore Glors request in exchange for P20,000. With a little
Ruth. Despite the repeated demands, Ruth refused to pay her debt, or hesitation, they offered him P3,000 and promised to give the balance on the
surrender possession of the vehicle.[2]Thus, on 6 May 2004, Glor filed with following day. Respondent agreed and immediately received
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 98, Quezon City (trial court), a civil the P3,000. On the next day, however, complainants did not give the
case[3] for judicial foreclosure of chattel mortgage with prayer for the balance. They asked respondent if he could give them more time to raise
issuance of a writ of replevin. the money. Respondent was irked by this. Complainants alleged that:

Thereafter, the trial court issued a writ of replevin[4] dated 14 May At 4:50 P.M. he came to us at the designated place and while we were
2004 directing Ernesto L. Sula (respondent), Sheriff IV of the trial court, to reading his Sheriffs Manifestation, he said he had not eaten lunch yet
take possession of the vehicle and keep it in his custody: because in his
words dahil sa paggawa ko ngManifestation at sama ng loob dahil ako ang
naipit dito sa kaso nyo, si judge kasi ang bagal mag-
release ng order. Kakasuhan na ko sa Ombudsman ng plaintiff. Trying to
WHEREAS, plaintiff Ceniza C. Glor, in the above-entitled case, having filed clarify what he meant about this, we ask [sic] him what we on our part need
an application with this Court praying for the seizure and delivery [sic] to do so that the property will be ensured that its [sic] under the custody
to Ceniza C. Glor of the property, more particularly described hereafter, and of the court or custodia legis until such time that the Honorable Court could
having filed the affidavit required by the Rules of Court and executed to the resolve our motion. However we were totally surprised when he said
defendant a bond in the sum of EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS that Nasa sa inyo yan pero yun kasing kabila talagang desidido na makuha
ONLY (P800,000.00). ang property, kung makapagbigay kayo ng kahit Twenty (20)
Thousand sa akin magagawan natin yan ng paraan na di makuha ng plaintif
f, yun ay kung
gusto nyo lang, kasi pag napunta yan sa kanila baka di nyona makita yan.
You are hereby ordered to take immediate possession of the following
property which is now detained by the defendant, to wit:

[With] those words from Sheriff IV Ernesto L. Sula it became clear to us that
he was asking money to favor us in the disposition of the property, I replied
MAKE & TYPE : Honda CRV (Station Wagon)
that the only cash we have [sic] at the time was only Three (3) Thousand
MOTOR NO. : PEWD7P100308 Pesos and ask [sic] him if he could accept it for the meantime and that we
will come up with the balance on the following morning. He
CHASSIS NO. : PADRD1830WV000347 said Cge perosiguraduhin nyo lang maibigay nyo ang balanse bukas ng ma
aga kasi meron din akong bibigyan para safe din ako. Ganito kasi dito kaila
PLATE NO. : HRS-555 ngan may nakakaalam na mas mataas para may proteksiyon tayo. At this
point I asked my wife, Ruth B. Bautista what she thought about it and she
FILE NO. : 1320-00000161749 said its [sic] up to me and thereafter I gestured to give him the Three (3)
Thousand Pesos which he
said Isimple mo lang ang abot para walang makapansin and I simply
slipped the money in his hand and after he received the money put his hand
and to keep the said property in your possession for five (5) days. At the immediately in his pocket. x x x
expiration of the said period, you shall deliver, subject to the provisions of
Sections 5, 6 and 7 of Rule 60 of the Rules of Court, to the plaintiff the said
property, provided that your legal fees and all the necessary expenses are
fully paid. [O]n the following day 27th May 2004 at 8:10 A.M. We met him at the
benches at the back of the 3rd floor of the Justice Hall Bldg. We
immediately apologized and told him that we failed to borrow money for the
balance of our agreement and ask [sic] if he could wait until at [sic] Friday
29th May 2004 to come up with the balance of our agreement because it
might take some time before we can raise it. x x x He answered
Respondent enforced the writ on 17 May 2004.[5] On 20 May 2004,
that Medyo mahirap pala kayong kausap and left us.[13]
spouses Normandy R. Bautista and Ruth B. Bautista (complainants) filed
with the trial court an urgent motion[6] for the return of the vehicle and
4. Complainants had no evidence to support their accusation. If it were
true that he asked and received money from them, it would have been easy
On 27 May 2004, respondent filed a sheriffs manifestation asking the trial for them to entrap him, yet, they did not do so.
courts guidance on whether he should deliver the vehicle to Glor or keep it
in custodia legis:

5. He enjoyed the presumption of regularity in the performance of his


duties.
[T]his Manifestation is respectfully filed before the Honorable Court, in order
that he maybe [sic] guided on whether he should release the vehicle as
demanded by plaintiff or hold its release until such time that the Motions
and Counter[-]bond filed by defendants is [sic] resolved as requested by the In their comment[20] to respondents comment dated 4 August 2004,
defendant.[14] complainants prayed that respondent be preventively suspended pending
the investigation of the case. They alleged that they had a witness who was
willing to testify on the circumstances surrounding respondents demand and
receipt of the money from them. However, the witness did not want to testify
unless respondent was placed under preventive suspension because she
was afraid that her testimony would endanger her means of livelihood inside
the Hall of Justice building.
Without waiting for the trial courts instructions regarding the vehicle,
respondent filed his sheriffs return on 28 May 2004 stating that he had
already delivered the vehicle to Glor:

The Office of the Court Administrators

[O]n May 27, 2004, after the expiration of the five (5) days [sic] period and Report and Recommendations
in the absence of any Court Order/s, undersigned turned-over the
possession of the motor vehicle to the Plaintiff as per Court/Sheriffs Receipt
hereto attached.[15]

In its memorandum[21] dated 14 October 2004, the OCA found that


On 31 May 2004, complainants alleged that they went to the trial court to respondent erred when he released the vehicle to Glor without waiting for
check on the vehicle and to look for respondent. There, respondent the trial courts instructions on who had a better right over the vehicle. The
admitted to them that he had already delivered the vehicle to Glor he acted OCA recommended that the case be re-docketed as a regular
on his own discretion. Complainants asked respondent how much he administrative matter and that respondent be held liable for grave abuse of
received from Glor and why he did not give them a chance to fulfill their authority and fined P4,000. The OCA recommended that the charges for
agreement. He just said pasensiyahan na lang tayo.[16] violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, gross ignorance of the
law, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service be dismissed
for insufficiency of evidence.

On 2 and 7 June 2004, complainants filed with the Office of the


Ombudsman and the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), respectively,
a joint affidavit-complaint[17]against respondent. Since the acts complained In a Resolution[22] dated 8 December 2004, the Court ordered the re-
of were related to respondents functions as an officer of the court, the Office docketing of the case as a regular administrative matter and, in a
of the Ombudsman, in its 1st Indorsement[18] dated 20 July 2004, referred Resolution[23] dated 16 March 2005, the Court required the parties to
the matter to the OCA. manifest if they were willing to submit the case for decision based on the
pleadings already filed.

In his comment[19] dated 4 August 2004, respondent prayed that the


instant case be dismissed because: Complainants filed a motion[24] for further investigation and preventive
suspension of respondent pending the investigation of the case. They
prayed that the case be referred to the Executive Judge of the Regional
Trial Court, Quezon City, for investigation. They also prayed that
1. Complainants accusations against him were malicious and respondent be placed under preventive suspension to allow their witness to
unfounded. They filed the instant case against him because they amassed testify without fear of being harassed by respondent.
so much anxiety and wrath against respondent to the point of even telling
telltales. They felt aggrieved because of the vehicles delivery to Glor and its The Court noted complainants motion for further investigation and
subsequent foreclosure. preventive suspension and referred the case to the OCA for investigation,
report, and recommendation.[25] In an Order[26] dated 24 August 2005, the
OCA set the case for investigation on 15 and 16 September 2005. In the
investigation, only respondent appeared.[27] The complainants filed a
2. He was only guided by the orders of the court and, in their absence, by
manifestation and motion[28] dated 10 September 2005 stating that
the Rules of Court particularly Rule 60. Under Section 6 of the said Rule,
although they were willing to participate in the investigation, they could not
the vehicles delivery to Glor followed as a matter of course because she
convince their witness to testify unless respondent was preventively
posted a bond which was approved by the court. On the other hand, up to
suspended.
the time of the delivery, complainants counter-bond had not been approved
by the court.

In a letter[29] dated 20 September 2005, the OCA returned the rollo of the
case together with complainants manifestation and motion to the Court for
3. Complainants accusation that he asked for P20,000 was incredulous
further instructions. In a Resolution[30] dated 10 October 2005, the Court
and a total lie. He never dealt clandestinely with complainants, much less
noted the said letter and referred the same to the OCA for report and
demanded money from them. He did not personally know Glor, nor was he
recommendation. Accordingly, the OCA set the case for investigation on 23
acquainted with complainants.
and 24 August 2006.[31] Again, only respondent appeared in the
investigation. The complainants reiterated their claim that they could not
participate in the investigation unless respondent was preventively service. As the OCA correctly held, [t]he charges for Gross Ignorance of the
suspended.[32] Law and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service must
likewise fail, for insufficiency of evidence; if there was any fault by herein
respondent, it was his overzealousness to perform his duty.[37]

In its Report[33] dated 13 September 2006, the OCA recommended that (1)
the motion to preventively suspend respondent be denied; (2) the previous
recommendation imposing a fine of P4,000 on respondent for grave abuse On the Charge of Simple Misconduct
of authority be adopted; and (3) the charges for violation of the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act, gross ignorance of the law, and conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service be dismissed for insufficiency of
evidence. The Court, however, finds respondent liable for simple misconduct. Simple
misconduct has been defined as an unacceptable behavior that
transgresses the established rules of conduct for public officers.[38] It is an
unlawful behavior.[39] Misconduct in office is any unlawful behavior by a
The Courts Ruling public officer in relation to the duties of his office, willful in character. It
generally means wrongful, improper, unlawful conduct motivated by a
premeditated, obstinate, or intentional purpose although it may not
necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.[40]
The Court finds respondent liable for simple misconduct.
The OCA found that respondent erred when he delivered the vehicle
to Glor without waiting for the trial courts instructions on the matter:

On the Charge of Violation of the In this case, plaintiff/applicant had posted a replevin bond duly approved by
the court. Nevertheless, one of the elements upon which the property
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
subject of replevin may be delivered to the plaintiff/applicant is
lacking. There appears to be no court order issued yet for the release of the
Gross Ignorance of the Law, and
aforementioned property to the plaintiff/applicant. The order dated 12 May
Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service 2004 issued by the court only directed respondent to take into his custody
the subject motor vehicle. Further, respondent filed a manifestation seeking
guidance from the court on the disposal of the seized property. Hence,
respondents justification that the release of the seized property to the
plaintiff/applicant follows as a matter of course because the
applicant/plaintiff had already filed a replevin bond to answer for any
Complainants bear the burden of proving, by substantial evidence, the damage that may be suffered by complainants may not be given weight.
allegations in the complaint. Substantial evidence means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.[34]
It must be stressed that the prerogatives of Sheriffs do not give them any
discretion to determine who among the parties is entitled to possession of
the subject property. The appropriate course of action should have been for
In the instant case, complainants failed to substantiate the allegation that respondent to wait for the instructions of the court as to whom he will
respondent violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Aside from release the property since he had already asked for its guidance through his
their bare allegation that respondent demanded and received money from Manifestation which was submitted to the court virtually at the close of office
them, complainants did not present any substantial evidence to support the hours on 26 May 2004. Yet the following morning, he suddenly decided to
charge. The only pieces of evidence they offered were (1) respondents release the car to the plaintiff without waiting for any court order on the
admission in his reply that he approached complainants in the Hall of matter. Such apparent haste raised questions on his actions and leaves
Justice building and (2) a witness who could testify on respondents alleged doubts as to his intent or interest in the case.
acts of demanding and receiving money from the complainants:

Moreover, under the Revised Rules of Court, the property seized under a
From the very words of the respondent Sheriff himself (page 5 of his Reply), writ of replevin is not to be delivered immediately to the plaintiff. This is
he admitted to have [sic] APPROACHED US when he furnished us a copy because a possessor has every right to be respected in its possession and
of his Manifestation x x x. Why then did the respondent Sheriff approached may not be deprived of it without due process.
[sic] us when his Manifestation is addressed and concerns only the
Court? To put to rest that this is just a bare allegation, a third person is
willing to present herself to the investigation of this Honorable Office to
testify to the truth of the circumstances of the said incident which she The purpose of the five (5) day period in Section 6, Rule 60 is to give
personally witnessed but which [sic] we could not reveal her identity at the defendants in a replevin case a chance to require the return of the property
moment upon her own request because the said person makes her living in by filing a counter[-]bond. Considering that there was no court order to
the hallway of the Hall of Justice of Quezon City.[35] release the property to the applicant/plaintiff and the complainants were
able to require the return of the property and file their counter[-]bond within
Complainants, however, never appeared in any of the investigations, nor the five (5) day period required by the Rules, respondent should have been
presented their witness. The fact that respondent approached complainants more circumspect in releasing the property to the plaintiff/applicant. By
in the Hall of Justice building is not enough basis for this Court to conclude hastily deciding to release the seized property to the plaintiff/applicant
that respondent demanded and received money from them. On without waiting for the courts order, respondent patently abused his
complainants witness, the OCA found that [t]he alleged fear from authority. (Emphasis ours)
harassment of the complainants unnamed witness [precluding her] to testify
against the respondent unless the latter is suspended from office is purely
speculative.[36]Complainants failed to present the quantum of evidence
required to hold respondent liable.
Indeed, respondent went beyond the call of his duties when he delivered
the vehicle to Glor. The writ of replevin issued by the trial court specifically
There is also no sufficient evidence to prove that respondent is guilty of stated that the vehicle shall be delivered to Glor subject to the provisions of
gross ignorance of the law and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the
Sections 5 and 6 of Rule 60. Yet, respondent opted to ignore these 2. If within five days after the taking of the vehicle, complainants object to
provisions. the sufficiency of the bond and the trial court affirms its approval
of Glors bond or approves a new bond; or

Good faith on respondents part, or lack of it, would be of no moment for he


is chargeable with the knowledge that being an officer of the court, his duty 3. If within five days after the taking of the vehicle, complainants require
is to comply with the Rules.[41] Sections 5 and 6 of Rule 60 provide that: the return of the vehicle and their bond is objected to and found insufficient
and they do not forthwith file an approved bond.

SEC. 5. Return of property. If the adverse party objects to the sufficiency of


the applicants bond, or of the surety or sureties thereon, he cannot
immediately require the return of the property, but if he does not so
object, he may, at any time before the delivery of the property to the In the instant case, complainants duly complied with all of the requirements
applicant, require the return thereof, by filing with the court where the action under Sections 5 and 6 for the return of the vehicle. Respondent took
is pending a bond executed to the applicant, in double the value of the possession of the vehicle on 17 May 2004. On 20 May 2004, complainants
property as stated in the applicants affidavit for the delivery thereof to the filed their urgent motion for the return of the vehicle and submission of
applicant, if such delivery be adjudged, and for the payment of such sum to counter-bond and, on 21 May 2004, they filed a motion to withdraw the
him as may be recovered against the adverse party, and by serving a copy urgent motion and change the same with an omnibus motion. Both the
of such bond on the applicant. urgent motion and the omnibus motion were filed before the delivery of the
vehicle to Glorand before the expiration of the five-day period. Later, the
trial court approved complainants counter-bond. Thus, respondent
committed an irregularity when he hastily delivered the vehicle to Glor.
SEC. 6. Disposition of property by sheriff. If within five (5) days after the
taking of the property by the sheriff, the adverse party does not object to the Under the Rules of Court, the sheriff should not immediately deliver the
sufficiency of the bond, or of the surety or sureties thereon; or if the adverse property seized under a writ of replevin to the plaintiff. This is because
party so objects and the court affirms its approval of the applicants bond or defendants have every right to be respected in their possession and may
approves a new bond, or if the adverse party requires the return of the not be deprived of it without due process.[43] The purpose of the five-day
property but his bond is objected to and found insufficient and he does not period in Section 6 is to give defendants in a replevin case a chance to
forthwith file an approved bond, the property shall be delivered to the require the return of the property by filing a counter-bond. In Pardo v.
applicant. If for any reason the property is not delivered to the applicant, the Velasco,[44] this Court held that:
sheriff must return it to the adverse party. (Emphasis ours)

Respondent as an officer of the Court is charged with certain ministerial


duties which must be performed faithfully to the letter. Every provision in the
Revised Rules of Court has a specific reason or objective. In this case, the
purpose of the five (5) days is to give a chance to the defendant to object to
the sufficiency of the bond or the surety or sureties thereon or require the
Under Section 5, complainants may require the return of the vehicle by (1) return of the property by filing a counter[-]bond.
posting a counter-bond in double the value of the vehicle and (2)
serving Glor with a copy of the counter-bond. Both requirements must be
complied with before the vehicle is delivered to Glor. Put differently:
In Sebastian v. Valino,[45] this Court held that:

If a defendant in a replevin action wishes to have the property taken by the


sheriff restored to him, he should within five days from such taking, (1) post Under the Revised Rules of Court, the property seized under a writ
a counter-bond in double the value of said property, and (2) serve plaintiff of replevin is not to be delivered immediately to the plaintiff. The sheriff
with a copy thereof, both requirements as well as compliance therewith must retain it in his custody for five days and he shall return it to the
within the five-day period mentioned being mandatory. x x x defendant, if the latter, as in the instant case, requires its return and files a
counter[-]bond (Sec. 4, Rule 60, Revised Rules of Court). (Emphasis ours)

The prerogatives of sheriffs do not include the discretion to determine who


Conformably, a defendant in a replevin suit may demand the return of among the parties is entitled to the possession of the property. Even when
possession of the property replevined by filing a redelivery bond executed placed in a difficult situation, they are not called to exercise their own
to the plaintiff in double the value of the property as stated in the plaintiffs discretion. In Cruz v. Villar,[46] the Court agreed with
affidavit within the period specified in Sections 5 and 6.[42] the OCAs observations:

The nature of their functions is essentially ministerial. Their prerogatives do


not give them any discretion to determine who among the parties is entitled
Under Section 6, the vehicle shall be delivered to Glor only under the to possession of the subject properties.The appropriate course of action
following instances: should have been for respondents to inform their judge of the situation by
way of a partial Sheriffs Return and wait for instructions on the proper
procedure to be observed. These respondents failed to do.
1. If within five days after the taking of the vehicle, complainants do not
Similarly, in Mamanteo v. Magumun,[47] this Court held that:
object to the sufficiency of the bond or of the surety or sureties thereon;

[T]he novelty of his predicament did not call for him to use his discretion
x x x without waiting for instructions from his judge. A sheriffs prerogative
does not give him the liberty to determine who among the parties is entitled
to the possession of the attached property.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Ernesto L. Sula, Sheriff IV, Regional
Trial Court, Branch 98, Quezon City, GUILTY of SIMPLE
MISCONDUCT. Accordingly, weSUSPEND him for six months without pay
and STERNLY WARN him that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall
be dealt with more severely.
Respondents act of filing the manifestation seeking the trial courts guidance
virtually at the close of office hours on 26 May 2004 then delivering the
vehicle to Glor in the morning of 27 May 2004 is highly questionable. As the
OCA held: SO ORDERED.

[R]espondent filed a Manifestation seeking guidance from the court on the


disposal of the seized property. Hence, respondents justification that the
release of the seized property to plaintiff/applicant follows as a matter of
course because the applicant/plaintiff had already filed a replevin bond to
answer for any damage that may be suffered by complainants may not be THOMAS YANG vs. THE HONORABLE MARCELINO R. VALDEZG.R. No.
given weight. 73317 August 31, 1989

Facts: Respondent spouses Ricardo and Milagros Morante fled an action in


the RTC Branch 22 of General Santos City to recover possession of two (2)
The appropriate course of action should have been for respondent to wait Isuzu Cargo Trucks against petitioner Thomas Yang and Manuel
for the instructions of the court as to whom he will release the property Yaphuckon.
since he had already asked for its guidance through his Manifestation which
was submitted to the court virtually at the close of office hours on 26 May The trucks were however registered in the name of petitioner Thomas Yang
2004. Yet the following morning, he suddenly decided to release the car to and the same were in the possession of Manuel.
the plaintiff without waiting for any court order on the matter. Such apparent
On January 7, 1985, Judge Valdez issued an order of seizure directing the
haste raised questions on his action and leaves doubts as to his intent or
Provincial Sheriff of South Cotabato to take immediate possession and
interest in the case.
custody of the vehicles involved.

On Jan. 10, Yaphuckon filed a motion seeking repossession of the cargo


trucks and posted a replevin counterbond of P560, 0000 which was
disapproved on January 8 by the respondent judge.
Since respondent had filed a manifestation seeking the trial courts
guidance, the most appropriate course of action should have been for him The respondent spouses amended their complaint on January 13 by
to wait for the trial courts instructions on what he should do with the excluding Manuel as party defendant & the trial court ordered the release
vehicle. Assuming that the issue may have been too technical for and delivery of the cargo trucks to respondent spouses.
respondent to decide on the spot, it would have been prudent for him to let
Petitioner put up a counterbond in the amount of 560,000 which was
the trial court decide on the matter. However, he was overzealous and
rejected by the respondent judge for having fled out of time.
delivered the vehicle to Glor without even giving the trial court a chance to
act on his manifestation. His unusual zeal and precipitate decision to give
ISSUES:
possession of the vehicle to Glor effectively destroyed the presumption of
regularity in the performance of his duties.[48] While the expeditious and Whether respondent judge erred in issuing replevin though the trucks were
efficient execution of court orders and writs is commendable, it should not, registered in the name of petitioner
under any circumstances, be done by departing from the Rules governing
the same.[49] Whether petitioner’s counterbond filed out of time

Respondent should execute the directives of the trial court strictly in Ruling:
accordance with the letter thereof and without any
deviation therefrom.[50] As an officer of the court, he should follow the The provisional remedy of replevin is in the nature of possessory action and
provisions of the Rules to the letter especially when the law is clear. the applicant who seeks immediate possession of the property involved
need not be the holder of legal title to the property. It suffices, if at the time
he applies for a writ of replevin, he is, in the words of Section 2, Rule 60,
entitled to the possession thereof.
When, as in this case, the law is clear, respondent owes it to himself and to
the public he serves to adhere to its dictates. The failure to do so exposes After defendant had been duly represented by counsel even at the inception
the wrongdoer to administrative sanctions.When the inefficiency of an of the service of summons and a copy of the order of replevin on January 7,
officer of the court springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental defendant Thomas Yang had already been duly served, especially so, when
a rule, a law or a principle in the discharge of his duties, he is either too counsel manifested in the comment to the opposition filed by the plaintiffs
incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds or is too that Manuel Yaphuckon was duly authorized to represent Thomas Yang.
vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith or
with grave abuse of authority.[51] From then on defendant should have been on guard as to the provision of
Section 6. Rule 60, the five days period within which to file the counter-
replevin for the approval of the court, counted from the actual taking of the
property by the sheriff on Jan. 7.

Section 52(B)(2)[52] of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases


in the Civil Service[53] classifies simple misconduct as a less grave offense
punishable by suspension of one month and one day to six months for the
first offense. Having been in the service for more than 26 ADOMA V GATCHECO
years,[54] respondent cannot wrongly interpret basic rules without
appearing grossly incompetent or having acted in bad faith. A.M. No. P-05-1942. January 17, 2005

FACTS :
Complainant Adoma claimed that A Writ of Replevin for the recovery of an complainant. However, it took respondent sheriff 13 days before he
L-300 van which was issued in his favor. released the vehicle to complainant, a clear violation of Section 6, Rule 60
of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure which provides:
Respondent Sheriff Gatcheco implemented the writ. Gatcheco was
accompanied by respondent Eugenio Taguba, a process server of MTCC, SEC. 6. Disposition of property by sheriff. If within five (5) days after the
Santiagao City. After the two respondents seized the vehicle, they taking of the property by the sheriff, the adverse party does not object to the
demanded payment of P8,000.00, allegedly promised by complainant sufficiency of the bond, or of the surety or sureties thereon; or if the adverse
Adoma but the latter was able to give only P1,000.00 and another party so objects and the court affirms its approval of the applicant’s bond or
P1,000.00 the following day. approves a new bond, or if the adverse party requires the return of the
property but his bond is objected to and found insufficient and he does not
Writ of Replevin stated that the vehicle will be delivered to complainant after forthwith file an approved bond, the property shall be delivered to the
5 days from the implementation thereof. With the vehicle still undelivered on applicant. If for any reason the property is not delivered to the applicant, the
the 7th day, complainant Adoma threatened to file an administrative case sheriff must return it to the adverse party.
against respondent Sheriff Gatheco. FInally, respondent Gatcheco was
force to released the vehicle to complainant. Respondent continued to Procedure for execution of a final judgment is the same as that in carrying
demand P6,000.00. Hence this administrative case. out a writ of preliminary attachment, as set forth in Rule 141 of the Rules of
Court.
Court referred the instant administrative complaint to Judge Albano,
Executive Judge, Regional Trial Court, Isabela, for investigation, report and Respondent not only utterly failed to live up to the high ethical standards
recommendation. required of a sheriff, but also, he totally ignored Section 9, Rule 141 of the
Rules of Court. Respondent failed to demonstrate that he followed the
Judge Madrid found the testimony of complaint corroborated by two procedure laid down by Rule 141.
witnesses, to be more credible.
Section 52, Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the
However, she found that respondent sheriff did not actually demand money Civil Service (Resolution No. 991936, provides:
for the implementation of the writ because it was complainant who promised
to give money in exchange for the implementation of the writ of replevin. Section 52. Classification of Offenses. - Administrative offenses with
Judge Madrid concluded that respondent Sheriff is guilty of misconduct corresponding penalties are classified into grave, less grave or light,
considering that he accepted partial payment and insisted on its full depending on their gravity or depravity and effects on the government
payment. service.

As to respondent Taguba, Judge Madrid recommended that he be A. The following are grave offenses with their corresponding penalties:
reprimanded for trying to abet the misconduct of respondent sheriff. Court
referred the case to the OFfice of the Court Administrator (OCA) for 1. Dishonesty
evaluation, report and recommendation.
1st Offense Dismissal;
OCA affirmed investigating Judge Madrid’s report and recommended Sheriff
guilty for conduct of unbecoming a court employee and that respondent 3. Grave Misconduct
Taguba be reprimanded for trying to abet the misconduct of a fellow
1st Offense Dismissal;
employee of another court.
20. Conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service
ISSUE :
1st offense Suspension (6 mos. 1 day to 1 year)
Whether Respondent Gatcheco and Taguba is guilty of the administrative
complaint filed against them [and for violating Sec. 9, Rule 141 of ROC
2nd offense Dismissal
which states the procedure for the execution of writs and other processes]. -
YES With respect to respondent Taguba, we find the sanction of reprimand too
light a penalty for his transgression. Although it was not him who
deliberately delayed the delivery of the vehicle to force complainant to yield
to the Sheriff’s demand, and that complainant did not point to him as the
RULING :
one who received the amount of P2,000.00, respondent Taguba assisted
Section 9, Rule 141 of ROC, states the procedure for the execution of writs respondent sheriff in soliciting money from complainant. Note that
and other processes are: first, the sheriff must make an estimate of the respondent Taguba is a process server of another branch of the MTCC of
expenses to be incurred by him; second, he must obtain court approval for Santiago City but he volunteered to aid respondent sheriff in the
such estimated expenses; third, the approved estimated expenses shall be implementation of the writ.
deposited by the interested party with the Clerk of Court and ex-oficio
WHEREFORE, Romeo Gatheco, Sheriff III is found GUILTY of Grave
sheriff; fourth, the Clerk of Court shall disburse the amount to the executing
Misconduct, Dishonesty and Conduct and Respondent Eugenio Taguba,
sheriff; and fifth, the executing sheriff shall liquidate his expenses within the
Process Server, Municipal Trial Court is GUILTY of Conduct
same period for rendering a return on the writ. Any amount received by the
sheriff in excess of the lawful fees allowed by the

Rules of Court is an unlawful exaction which renders him liable for grave
misconduct and gross dishonesty.
Leonardo Paat
In the instant case, Respondent Sheriff totally disregarded the aforecited
procedure. He failed to make and submit estimate of the sheriffs expenses. vs
The amounts received and demanded by him are therefore unauthorized
fees. His acts of accepting and soliciting said monetary considerations Court of Appeals, et. Al.
make him liable not only for conduct unbecoming a court employee but also
for grave misconduct and dishonesty. GR No. 111107, 10 January 1997

Moreover, Respondent Sheriff deliberately failed to place complainant in 266 SCRA 167
possession of the vehicle after five days from the implementation of the writ
because the latter failed to give the whole amount he promised.

Since Petitioner did not object to the complainants bond nor posted a FACTS
redelivery bond to recover possession of the vehicle taken under the writ of
replevin, Respondent sheriff is under obligation to deliver the van to
The truck of private respondent Victoria de Guzman was seized by 3. However, for failure and refusal of the private respondent to pay the
the DENR personnel while on its way to Bulacan because the driver could monthly installments despite repeated demands, petitioner filed a verified
not produce the required documents for the forest product found concealed complaint against Anama in the Manila CFI for the collection of his unpaid
in the truck. Petitioner Jovito Layugan, CENRO ordered the confiscation of balance, for the delivery and possession of the chattels covered preparatory
the truck and required the owner to explain. Private respondents failed to to the foreclosure.
submit required explanation. The DENR Regional Executive Director
Rogelio Baggayan sustained Layugan’s action for confiscation and ordered 4. Anama submitted his Answer with Counterclaim, denying the material
the forfeiture of the truck. Private respondents brought the case to the averments of the complaint, and averring, inter alia that the remedy of
DENR Secretary. Pending appeal, private respondents filed a replevin case replevin was improper and the writ of seizure should be vacated.
before the RTC against petitioner Layugan and Baggayan. RTC granted the
same. Petitioners moved to dismiss the case contending, inter alia, that 5. The trial court, upon proof of default of the private respondent in the
private respondents had no cause of action for their failure to exhaust payment of the said loan, issued an Order of Replevin. Despite the
administrative remedies. The trial court denied their motion. Hence, this issuance of the said order however, actual delivery of possession did not
petition for review on certiorari. Petitioners aver that the trial court could not take place because of negotiations for an amicable settlement. A pre-trial
legally entertain the suit for replevin because the truck was under conference was held and the petitioner then took over private respondent’s
administrative seizure proceedings. business as receiver. But when settlement failed, the lower court tried the
case on the merits.

7. Petitioner presented a Motion for the Issuance of an Alias Writ of Seizure,


ISSUE ordering the sheriff to seize and dispose of the properties involved.

Whether or not the confiscation of the truck was valid - YES 8. Private respondent opposed the motion claiming, among others, (1) that
Citibank’s P400,000 replevin bond to answer for damages was grossly
inadequate; (2) that he was never in default to justify the seizure; xxx (4)
that his supposed obligations with Citibank were fully secured and his
HELD mortgaged properties are more than sufficient to secure payment thereof;
xxx

9. The trial court issued an Order granting the Motion for Alias Writ of
The Court ruled that private respondents miserably failed to prove the Seizure. Private respondent moved for reconsideration of the aforesaid
wrongful detention of the subject truck confiscated. It should be noted that order but the same was denied. As a consequence, the sheriff seized
the truck was seized by the petitioners because it was transporting forest subject properties, dismantled and removed them from the premises where
products without the required permit of the DENR in manifest contravention they were installed, delivered them to petitioner’s possession and
of Section 68 of P.D.705 as amended by E.O 277. Section 68-A of P.D. advertised them for sale at public auction.
705, as amended, unquestionably warrants the confiscation as well as the
disposition by the Secretary of DENR or his duly authorized representatives 10. Private respondent filed with the CA a Petition for Certiorari and
of the conveyances used in violating the provision of forestry laws. Prohibition with Injunction. Finding that the trial court acted with grave
Evidently, the continued possession or detention of the truck by the abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in issuing the
petitioners for administrative forfeiture proceeding is legally permissible, assailed resolutions, the CA granted the petition, holding that the provisions
hence, no wrongful detention exists in the case at bar. of the Rules of Court on Replevin and Receivership have not been complied
with, in that (1) there was no Affidavit of Merit accompanying the Complaint
for Replevin; (2) the bond posted by Citibank was insufficient; and (3) there
was non-compliance with the requirement of a receiver’s bond and oath of
The Court clarifies that with the introduction of Executive Order No. 277
office. Hence the present petition for certiorari with TRO by Citibank.
amending Section 68 of P.D. 705, the act of cutting, gathering, collecting,
removing, or possessing forest products without authority constitutes a
distinct offense independent now from the crime of theft under Articles 309
and 310 of the Revised Penal Code, but the penalty to be imposed is that ISSUE:
provided for under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code.
1. W/N CA erred in finding that the issuance of writ of replevin was improper

2. W/N CA erred in finding that the complaint did not comply with the
A suit for replevin cannot be sustained against the petitioners for the subject requirements of an affidavit of merit
truck taken and retained by them for administrative forfeiture proceedings in
pursuant to Sections 68-A of OD 705, as amended. Dismissal of the 3. W/N CA erred in finding that the bond posted by petitioner is insufficient
replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents’
failure to exhaust administrative remedies should have been the proper 4. W/N CA erred in finding that petitioner did not comply with Section 5,
course of action by the lower court instead of assuming jurisdiction over the Rule 59
case and consequently issuing the writ ordering the return of the truck.

HELD:

1. No. (See highlighted ruling.)


Citibank v CA
2. Qualified yes. While petitioner is correct insofar as it contends that
G.R. No. 61508 | March 17, 1999 | J. Purisima substantial compliance with the affidavit requirement may be permissible
pursuant to Section 2, Rule 60 of the ROC, petitioner’s complaint
does notallege all the facts that should be set forth in an affidavit of merit.

FACTS:

1. In consideration for a loan with Citibank, N.A. (formerly First National City The Court held that the absence of an affidavit of merit is not fatal where the
Bank), private respondent Douglas Anama executed a promissory note to petition itself, which is under oath, recites the following facts constitutive of
pay the plaintiff bank the sum of P418,000.00 in sixty (60) equal successive the grounds for the petition: (1) that plaintiff owns the property particularly
monthly installments. describing the same, or that he is entitled to its possession; (2) wrongful
detention by defendant of said property; (3) that the property is not taken by
2. To secure payment of the loan, Anama also constituted a Chattel virtue of a tax assessment or fine pursuant to law or seized under execution
Mortgage in favor of petitioner, on various machineries and equipment.
or attachment or, if it is so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure; and SPOUSES DEO AGNER and MARICON AGNER vs. BPI FAMILY
the (4) the actual value of the property. SAVINGSBANK, INC.G.R. No. 182963 June 3, 2013697 SCRA

Facts: On February 15, 2001, petitioners spouses Deo Agner and


Maricon Agner executed a Promissory Note with Chattel Mortgage in favor
Although the complaint alleges that petitioner is entitled to the possession of of Citimotors, Inc. The contract provides, among others, that: for
subject properties by virtue of the chattel mortgage executed by the private receiving the amount ofPhp834,768.00, petitioners shall pay
respondent, upon the latter’s default on its obligation, and the defendant’s Php17,391.00 every 15th day of each succeeding month until fully paid; the
alleged “wrongful detention” of the same, the said complaint does not state loan is secured by a 2001 Mitsubishi Adventure Super Sport. On the
that subject properties were not taken by virtue of a tax assessment or fine same day, Citimotors, Inc. assigned all its rights, title and
imposed pursuant to law or seized under execution or attachment or, if they interests in the Promissory Note with Chattel Mortgage to ABN
were so seized, that they are exempt from such seizure. Then too, AMRO Savings Bank, Inc. (ABN AMRO), which, on May 31, 2002, likewise
petitioner stated the value of subject properties at a “probable value assigned the same to respondent BPI Family Savings Bank, Inc.
of P200,000.00, more or less”.
For failure to pay four successive installments, respondent, through
counsel, sent to petitioners a demand letter dated August 29,
2002, declaring the entire obligation as due and demandable
Although respondent’s defense of lack of affidavit of merit is meritorious, and requiring to payPhp576, 664.04, or surrender the
procedurally, such a defense is unfortunately no longer available for failure mortgaged vehicle immediately upon receiving the letter. As the
to plead the same in the Answer as required by the omnibus motion rule. demand was left unheeded, respondent filed on October 4, 2002 an
action for Replevin and Damages before the Manila Regional Trial
Court (RTC).
3.Yes. ROC requires the plaintiff to “give a bond, executed to the defendant
A writ of replevin was issued. Despite this, the subject vehicle
in double the value of the property as stated in the affidavit x x x .” Since the
was not seized. The Manila RTC ruled for the respondent.
valuation made by the petitioner has been disputed by the respondent, the
Petitioners appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA), but the
lower court should have determined first the actual value of the properties. It
CA affirmed the lower court's decision and, subsequently, denied the
was thus an error for the said court to approve the bond, which was based
motion for reconsideration; hence, this petition.
merely on the probable value of the properties. A replevin bond is intended
to answer for damages and to indemnify the defendant against any loss that Issue: Whether demand is necessary prior to the filing of application for the
he may suffer by reason of its being compelled to surrender the possession writ of replevin.
of the disputed property pending trial of the action.
Whether respondent's remedy of resorting to both actions of
replevin and collection of sum of money is contrary to the provision of
Article 1484 of theCivil Code and the Elisco Tool Manufacturing Corporation
The remedies provided under Section 5, Rule 60, are alternative
v. Court of Appeals ruling.
remedies. Conformably, a defendant in a replevin suit may demand the
return of possession of the property replevined by filing a redelivery bond Doctrine: Records bear that both verbal and written demands were
executed to the plaintiff in double the value of the property as stated in the in fact made by respondent prior to the institution of the case
plaintiff’s affidavit within the period specified in Sections 5 and against petitioners. Even assuming, for argument's sake, that no
6. Alternatively, “the defendant may object to the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s demand letter was sent by respondent, there is really no need for it
bond, or of the surety or sureties thereon;” but if he does so, “he cannot because petitioners legally waived the necessity of notice or demand
require the return of the property” by posting a counter-bond pursuant to in the Promissory Note with Chattel Mortgage, which they
Sections 5 and 6. The private respondent did not opt to cause redelivery of voluntarily and knowingly signed in favor of respondent's
the properties to him by filing a counter-bond precisely because he objected predecessor-in-interest.
to the sufficiency of the bond posted by plaintiff. Therefore, he need not file
a counter-bond or redelivery bond. Further, the Court even ruled in Navarro v. Escobido that prior demand is
not a condition precedent to an action for a writ of replevin,
4. No. CA found that the requirements of Section 5, Rule 59 on receivership since there is nothing in Section 2, Rule 60 of the Rules of Court that
were not complied with by the petitioner, particularly the filing or posting of a requires the applicant to make a demand on the possessor of the property
bond and the taking of an oath. However, the old Rules of Court which was before an action for a writ of replevin could be filed.
in effect at the time this case was still at trial stage, a bond for the
appointment of a receiver was not generally required of the applicant, Also, there is no violation of Article 1484 of the Civil Code and the Court's
except when the application was made ex parte. CA was right in finding a decision in Elisco Tool Manufacturing Corporation v. Court of Appeals.
defect in such assumption of receivership in that the requirement of taking
an oath has not been complied with. The remedies provided for in Art. 1484 are alternative, not cumulative. The
exercise of one bars the exercise of the others. This limitation
– For erroneously issuing the alias writ of seizure without inquiring into the applies to contracts purporting to be leases of personal property with
sufficiency of the replevin bond and for allowing petitioner to assume option to buy by virtue of Art. 1485.
receivership without the requisite oath, the Court of Appeals aptly held that
the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion in dealing with the Compared with Elisco, the vehicle subject matter of this case
situation. Under the Revised Rules of Court, the property seized under a was never recovered and delivered to respondent despite the
writ of replevin is not to be delivered immediately to the plaintiff. This is issuance of a writ of replevin. As there was no seizure that
because a possessor has every right to be respected in its possession and transpired, it cannot be said that petitioners were deprived of the
may not be deprived of it without due process. Petition DISMISSED. use and enjoyment of the mortgaged vehicle or that respondent
pursued, commenced or concluded its actual foreclosure. The trial
court, therefore, rightfully granted the alternative prayer for sum of
money, which is equivalent to the remedy of "[e]xact[ing]fulfillment of the
NOTE: obligation." Certainly, there is no double recovery or unjust enrichment to
speak of.
– Actual value (or actual market value) means “the price which an article
would command in the ordinary course of business, that is to say, when
offered for sale by one willing to sell, but not under compulsion to sell, and
purchased by another who is willing to buy, but under no obligation to
purchase it”.
Hao v Andres

Before us is an administrative complaint for gross neglect of duty, grave


abuse of authority (oppression) and violation of Republic Act No.
3019[1] filed by complainant Kenneth Hao against respondent Abe C. speculations that he was involved in the disappearance of the seized motor
Andres, Sheriff IV of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao City, Branch vehicles as he claims to be the one who reported the incident to the court
16. and the police.

The antecedent facts are as follows: As to the allegation of undisclosed depository receipts, Andres maintained
that he never denied the existence of the depository receipts. He said the
Complainant Hao is one of the defendants in a civil case existence of the depository receipts was immediately made known on the
for replevin docketed as Civil Case No. 31, 127- same day that the subject motor vehicles were discovered missing. He even
2005[2] entitled Zenaida Silver, doing trade and business under the name used the same in the filing of the carnapping case against Silver and her co-
and style ZHS Commercial v. Loreto Hao, Atty. Amado Cantos, conspirators.
Kenneth Hao and John Does, pending before the RTC of Davao City,
Branch 16. Finally, Andres insisted that the guarding of properties
under custodia legis by policemen is not prohibited, but is even adopted by
On October 17, 2005, Judge Renato A. Fuentes[3] issued an Order of the court. Hence, he prays that he be held not liable for the loss of the
Seizure[4] against 22 motor vehicles allegedly owned by the vehicles and that he be relieved of his duty to return the vehicles.[15]
complainant. On the strength of the said order, Andres was able to seize
two of the subject motor vehicles on October 17, 2005; four on October 18, After the OCA recommended that the matter be investigated, we referred
2005, and another three on October 19, 2005, or a total of nine motor the case to Executive Judge Renato A. Fuentes for investigation, report and
vehicles.[5] recommendation.[16]

In his Affidavit-Complaint[6] against Andres before the Office of the Court In his Investigation Report[17] dated September 21, 2006, Judge Fuentes
Administrator (OCA), Hao alleged that Andres gave undue advantage found Andres guilty of serious negligence in the custody of the nine motor
to Zenaida Silver in the implementation of the order and that Andres seized vehicles. He recommended that Andres be suspended from office.
the nine motor vehicles in an oppressive manner. Hao also averred that
Andres was accompanied by unidentified armed personnel on board a Judge Fuentes found numerous irregularities in the implementation of the
military vehicle which was excessive since there were no resistance from writ of replevin/order of seizure, to wit: (1) at the time of the implementation
them. Hao also discovered that the compound where the seized motor of the writ, Andres knew that the vehicles to be seized were not in the
vehicles were placed is actually owned by Silver.[7] names of any of the parties to the case; (2) one vehicle was taken without
the knowledge of its owner, a certain Junard Escudero; (3) Andres allowed
On October 21, 2005, in view of the approval of the complainants counter- Atty. Macadangdang to get a keymaster to duplicate the vehicles keys in
replevin bond, Judge Emmanuel C. Carpio[8] ordered Andres to order to take one motor vehicle; and (4) Andres admitted that prior to the
immediately cease and desist from further implementing the order of implementation of the writ of seizure, he consulted Silver and
seizure, and to return the seized motor vehicles including its accessories to Atty. Macadangdang regarding the implementation of the writ and was
their lawful owners.[9] accompanied by the latter in the course of the implementation. Judge
Fuentes observed that the motor vehicles were speedily seized without
However, on October 24, 2005, eight of the nine seized motor vehicles were strictly observing fairness and regularity in its implementation.[18]
reported missing. In his report,[10] Andres stated that he was shocked to
find that the motor vehicles were already missing when he inspected it Anent the safekeeping of the seized motor vehicles, Judge Fuentes pointed
on October 22, 2005. He narrated that on October 21, 2005, PO3 out several instances where Andres lacked due diligence to wit: (1) the
Rodrigo Despe, one of the policemen guarding the subject motor vehicles, seized motor vehicles were placed in a compound surrounded by an
reported to him that a certain Nonoy entered the compound and caused the insufficiently locked see-through fence; (2) three motor vehicles were left
duplication of the vehicles keys.[11] But Andres claimed the motor vehicles outside the compound; (3) Andres turned over the key of the gate to the
were still intact when he inspected it on October 21, 2005. policemen guarding the motor vehicles; (4) Andres does not even know the
full name of the owner of the compound, who was merely known to him as
Subsequently, Hao reported that three of the carnapped vehicles were Gloria; (5) except for PO3 Despe and SPO4 Nelson Salcedo, the identities
recovered by the police.[12] He then accused Andres of conspiring and of the other policemen tapped to guard the compound were unknown to
conniving with Atty. OswaldoMacadangdang (Silvers counsel) and the Andres; (6) Andres also admitted that he only stayed at least one hour each
policemen in the carnapping of the motor vehicles. Hao also accused day from October 19-21, 2005 during his visits to the compound; and (7)
Andres of concealing the depository receipts from them and pointed out that even after it was reported to him that a certain Nonoy entered the
the depository receipts show that Silver and Atty. Macadangdang were the compound and duplicated the keys of the motor vehicles, he did not exert
ones who chose the policemen who will guard the motor vehicles. his best effort to look for that Nonoy and to confiscate the duplicated
keys.[19]
In his Comment[13] dated March 3, 2006, Andres vehemently denied
violating Rep. Act No. 3019 and committing gross neglect of duty. Judge Fuentes also observed that Andres appeared to be more or less
accommodating to Silver and her counsel but hostile and uncooperative to
Andres denied implementing the Order of Seizure in an oppressive the complainant. He pointed out that Andres depended solely on Silver in
manner. He said he took the vehicles because they were the specific the selection of the policemen who would guard the seized motor
vehicles ordered to be seized after checking their engine and chassis vehicles. He added that even the depository receipts were not turned over
numbers. Andres likewise denied that he was accompanied by military to the defendants/third-party claimants in the replevin case but were in fact
personnel in the implementation of the order. He claimed that he was concealed from them. Andres also gave inconsistent testimonies as to
merely escorted by policemen pursuant to the directive of Police Senior whether he has in his possession the depository receipts.[20]
Supt. Catalino S. Cuy, Chief of the Davao City Police Office. Andres also
maintained that no form of harassment or oppression was committed during The OCA disagreed with the observations of Judge Fuentes. It
the implementation of the order, claiming that the presence of the recommended that Andres be held liable only for simple neglect of duty and
policemen was only for the purpose of preserving peace and order, be suspended for one (1) month and one (1) day.[21]
considering there were 22 motor vehicles specified in the Order of
Seizure. Andres added that he exercised no discretion in the selection of We adopt the recommendation of the investigating judge.
the policemen who assisted in the implementation of the order, much less of
those who will guard the seized motor vehicles. Being an officer of the court, Andres must be aware that there are well-
defined steps provided in the Rules of Court regarding the proper
Andres disputed the allegation that he neglected his duty to safeguard the implementation of a writ of replevinand/or an order of seizure. The Rules,
seized vehicles by pointing out that he placed all the motor vehicles under likewise, is explicit on the duty of the sheriff in its implementation. To
police watch. He added that the policemen had control of the compound recapitulate what should be common knowledge to sheriffs, the pertinent
where the seized motor vehicles were kept. provisions of Rule 60, of the Rules of Court are quoted hereunder:

Andres likewise contended that after the unauthorized duplication of the SEC. 4. Duty of the sheriff.Upon receiving such order, the sheriff must serve
vehicles keys was reported to him, he immediately advised the policemen a copy thereof on the adverse party, together with a copy of the application,
on duty to watch the motor vehicles closely.[14] He negated the affidavit and bond, and must forthwith take the property, if it be in the
possession of the adverse party, or his agent, and retain it in his custody. If Third, we are appalled that even after PO3 Despe reported the
the property or any part thereof be concealed in a building or enclosure, the unauthorized duplication of the vehicles keys, Andres failed to take extra
sheriff must demand its delivery, and if it be not delivered, he must cause precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the vehicles. It is obvious
the building or enclosure to be broken open and take the property into his that the vehicles were put at risk by the unauthorized duplication of the keys
possession. After the sheriff has taken possession of the property as herein of the vehicles. Neither did he immediately report the incident to the police
provided, he must keep it in a secure place and shall be responsible for its or to the court. The loss of the motor vehicles could have been prevented if
delivery to the party entitled thereto upon receiving his fees and necessary Andres immediately asked the court for an order to transfer the vehicles to
expenses for taking and keeping the same. (Emphasis supplied.) another secured place as soon as he discovered the unauthorized
duplication. Under these circumstances, even an ordinary prudent man
SEC. 6. Disposition of property by sheriff.If within five (5) days after the would have exercised extra diligence. His warning to the policemen to
taking of the property by the sheriff, the adverse party does not object to the closely watch the vehicles was insufficient. Andres cannot toss back to
sufficiency of the bond, or of the surety or sureties thereon; or if the adverse Silver or to the policemen the responsibility for the loss of the motor
party so objects and the court affirms its approval of the applicants bond or vehicles since he remains chiefly responsible for their safekeeping as legal
approves a new bond, or if the adverse party requires the return of the custodian thereof. Indeed, Andres failure to take the necessary precaution
property but his bond is objected to and found insufficient and he does not and proper monitoring of the vehicles to ensure its safety constitutes plain
forthwith file an approved bond, the property shall be delivered to the negligence.
applicant. If for any reason the property is not delivered to the applicant, the
sheriff must return it to the adverse party. (Emphasis supplied.) Fourth, despite the cease and desist order, Andres failed to return the motor
vehicles to their lawful owners. Instead of returning the motor vehicles
First, the rules provide that property seized under a writ of replevin is not to immediately as directed, he opted to write Silver and demand that she put
be delivered immediately to the plaintiff.[22] In accordance with the said up an indemnity bond to secure the third-party claims. Consequently, due to
rules, Andres should have waited no less than five days in order to give the his delay, the eventual loss of the motor vehicles rendered the order to
complainant an opportunity to object to the sufficiency of the bond or of the return the seized vehicles ineffectual to the prejudice of the complaining
surety or sureties thereon, or require the return of the seized motor vehicles owners.
by filing a counter-bond. This, he failed to do.
It must be stressed that as court custodian, it was Andres responsibility to
Records show that Andres took possession of two of the subject motor ensure that the motor vehicles were safely kept and that the same were
vehicles on October 17, 2005, four on October 18, 2005, and another three readily available upon order of the court or demand of the parties
on October 19, 2005. Simultaneously, as evidenced by the depository concerned. Specifically, sheriffs, being ranking officers of the court and
receipts, on October 18, 2005, Silver received from Andres six of the seized agents of the law, must discharge their duties with great care and
motor vehicles, and three more motor vehicles on October 19, diligence. In serving and implementing court writs, as well as processes and
2005. Consequently, there is no question that Silver was already in orders of the court, they cannot afford to err without affecting adversely the
possession of the nine seized vehicles immediately after seizure, or no proper dispensation of justice. Sheriffs play an important role in the
more than three days after the taking of the vehicles. Thus, Andres administration of justice and as agents of the law, high standards of
committed a clear violation of Section 6, Rule 60 of the Rules of Court with performance are expected of them.[29] Hence, his failure to return the
regard to the proper disposal of the property. motor vehicles at the time when its return was still feasible constitutes
another instance of neglect of duty.
It matters not that Silver was in possession of the seized vehicles merely for
safekeeping as stated in the depository receipts. The rule is clear that the Fifth, as found by the OCA, we agree that Andres also disregarded the
property seized should not be immediately delivered to the plaintiff, and the provisions of Rule 141[30] of the Rules of Court with regard to payment of
sheriff must retain custody of the seized property for at least five expenses.
days.[23] Hence, the act of Andres in delivering the seized vehicles
immediately after seizure to Silver for whatever purpose, without observing Under Section 9,[31] Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, the procedure for the
the five-day requirement finds no legal justification. execution of writs and other processes are: First, the sheriff must make an
estimate of the expenses to be incurred by him; Second, he must obtain
In Pardo v. Velasco,[24] this Court held that court approval for such estimated expenses; Third, the approved estimated
expenses shall be deposited by the interested party with the Clerk of Court
Respondent as an officer of the Court is charged with certain ministerial and ex officio sheriff; Fourth, the Clerk of Court shall disburse the amount to
duties which must be performed faithfully to the letter. Every provision in the the executing sheriff; and Fifth, the executing sheriff shall liquidate his
Revised Rules of Court has a specific reason or objective. In this case, the expenses within the same period for rendering a return on the writ.
purpose of the five (5) days is to give a chance to the defendant to object to
the sufficiency of the bond or the surety or sureties thereon or require the In this case, no estimate of sheriffs expenses was submitted to the court by
return of the property by filing a counterbond.[25] (Emphasis supplied.) Andres. Without approval of the court, he also allowed Silver to pay directly
to the policemen the expenses for the safeguarding of the motor vehicles
In Sebastian v. Valino,[26] this Court reiterated that including their meals.[32] Obviously, this practice departed from the
accepted procedure provided in the Rules of Court.
Under the Revised Rules of Court, the property seized under a writ
of replevin is not to be delivered immediately to the plaintiff. The sheriff In view of the foregoing, there is no doubt that Andres failed to live up to the
must retain it in his custody for five days and he shall return it to the standards required of his position. The number of instances that Andres
defendant, if the latter, as in the instant case, requires its return and files strayed from the regular course observed in the proper implementation of
a counterbond.[27] (Emphasis supplied.) the orders of the court cannot be countenanced. Thus, taking into account
the numerous times he was found negligent and careless of his duties
Likewise, Andres claim that he had no knowledge that the compound is
coupled with his utter disregard of legal procedures, he cannot be
owned by Silver fails to convince us. Regardless of who actually owns the
considered guilty merely of simple negligence. His acts constitute gross
compound, the fact remains that Andres delivered the vehicles to Silver
negligence.
prematurely. It violates the rule requiring him to safekeep the vehicles in his
custody.[28] The alleged lack of facility to store the seized vehicles is As we have previously ruled:
unacceptable considering that he should have deposited the same in a
bonded warehouse. If this was not feasible, he should have sought prior Gross negligence refers to negligence characterized by the want of even
authorization from the court issuing the writ before delivering the vehicles to slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to
Silver. act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious
indifference to consequences in so far as other persons may be affected. It
Second, it must be stressed that from the moment an order of delivery is the omission of that care which even inattentive and thoughtless men
in replevin is executed by taking possession of the property specified never fail to take on their own property.[33] (Emphasis supplied.)
therein, such property is in custodia legis. As legal custodian, it is Andres
duty to safekeep the seized motor vehicles. Hence, when he passed his Gross neglect, on the other hand, is such neglect from the gravity of the
duty to safeguard the motor vehicles to Silver, he committed a clear neglect case, or the frequency of instances, becomes so serious in its character as
of duty. to endanger or threaten the public welfare. The term does not necessarily
include willful neglect or intentional official wrongdoing.[34] (Emphasis SO ORDERED.
supplied.)

Good faith on the part of Andres, or lack of it, in proceeding to properly


execute his mandate would be of no moment, for he is chargeable with the
knowledge that being an officer of the court tasked therefor, it behooves him
to make due compliance. He is expected to live up to the exacting
standards of his office and his conduct must at all times be characterized by
rectitude and forthrightness, and so above suspicion and mistrust as
well.[35] Thus, an act of gross neglect resulting in loss of properties
in custodia legisruins the confidence lodged by the parties to a suit or the
citizenry in our judicial process. Those responsible for such act or omission
cannot escape the disciplinary power of this Court.

Anent the allegation of grave abuse of authority (oppression), we likewise


agree with the observations of the investigating judge. Records show that
Andres started enforcing the writ of replevin/order of seizure on the same
day that the order of seizure was issued. He also admitted that he took the
vehicles of persons who are not parties to the replevin case.[36] He further
admitted that he took one vehicle belonging to a
certain Junard Escudero without the latters knowledge and even caused the
duplication of its keys in order that it may be taken by Andres.[37] Certainly,
these are indications that Andres enforced the order of seizure with undue
haste and without giving the complainant prior notice or reasonable time to
deliver the motor vehicles. Hence, Andres is guilty of grave abuse of
authority (oppression).

When a writ is placed in the hands of a sheriff, it is his duty, in the absence
of any instructions to the contrary, to proceed with reasonable celerity and
promptness to execute it according to its mandate. However, the prompt
implementation of an order of seizure is called for only in instances where
there is no question regarding the right of the plaintiff to the
property.[38] Where there is such a question, the prudent recourse for
Andres is to desist from executing the order and convey the information to
his judge and to the plaintiff.

True, sheriffs must comply with their mandated ministerial duty to


implement writs promptly and expeditiously, but equally true is the principle
that sheriffs by the nature of their functions must at all times conduct
themselves with propriety and decorum and act above suspicion. There
must be no room for anyone to conjecture that sheriffs and deputy sheriffs
as officers of the court have conspired with any of the parties to a case to
obtain a favorable judgment or immediate execution. The sheriff is at the
front line as representative of the judiciary and by his act he may build or
destroy the institution.[39]

However, as to the charge of graft and corruption, it must be stressed that


the same is criminal in nature, thus, the resolution thereof cannot be
threshed out in the instant administrative proceeding. We also take note
that there is a pending criminal case for carnapping against
Andres;[40] hence, with more reason that we cannot rule on the allegation
of graft and corruption as it may preempt the court in its resolution of the
said case.

We come to the matter of penalties. The imposable penalty for gross


neglect of duty is dismissal. While the penalty imposable for grave abuse of
authority (oppression) is suspension for six (6) months one (1) day to one
(1) year.[41] Section 55, Rule IV, of the Uniform Rules on Administrative
Cases in the Civil Service provides that if the respondent is found guilty of
two or more charges or counts, the penalty to be imposed should be that
corresponding to the most serious charge or count and the rest shall be
considered as aggravating circumstances.

In the instant case, the penalty for the more serious offense which is
dismissal should be imposed on Andres. However, following Sections
53[42] and 54,[43] Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in
the Civil Service, we have to consider that Andres is a first-time offender;
hence, a lighter penalty than dismissal from the service would suffice.
Consequently, instead of imposing the penalty of dismissal, the penalty of
suspension from office for one (1) year without pay is proper for gross
neglect of duty, and another six (6) months should be added for the
aggravating circumstance of grave abuse of authority (oppression).

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Abe C. Andres, Sheriff IV, RTC


of Davao City, Branch 16, GUILTY of gross neglect of duty and grave abuse
of authority (oppression) and is SUSPENDED for one (1) year and six (6)
months without pay. He is also hereby WARNED that a repetition of the
same or similar offenses in the future shall be dealt with more severely.