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Darcen v Gonzales

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  FIRST DIVISION   [G.R. No. 199747, April 03, 2013]   TEODORO DARCEN, MAMERTO DARCEN, JR., NESTOR DARCEN, BENILDA DARCEN-SANTOS,   AND ELENITA DARCEN-VERGEL,   Petitioners , v.   V. R. GONZALES CREDIT ENTERPRISES, INC., REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, VERONICA L. GONZALES , Respondent.   D E C I S I O N   REYES,  J. :  Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari  1  under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure of the Decision 2  of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 114265 dated July 20, 2011, denying herein petitioners’   petition for certiorari   and prohibition which sought to annul and set aside the Orders dated March 16, 2010 3  and May 4, 2010 4  of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of the City of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 81, in P-826- 2009, entitled, “ In Re: Ex-Parte Petition for Issuance of a Writ of Possession, V.R. Gonzalez Credit Enterprises, Inc., as represented by its President Veronica Gonzalez, Petitioner, Teodoro Darcen, et al., Oppositors. ”    Antecedent Facts  The spouses Mamerto Darcen (Mamerto) and Flora De Guzman (Flora) were married on February 2, 1947, and they begot seven (7) children, namely: Teodoro, Mamerto, Jr., Nestor, Benilda, and Elenita (the petitioners), and their brothers Arturo and Manuel. Mamerto died on September 18, 1986, leaving behind an estate consisting of three titled parcels of land located in Baliuag, Bulacan and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT-19565 (T-41394), TCT No. RT-19566 (T-11678), and TCT No. RT-19564 (T- 193099), all under the name “Mamerto Darcen married to Flora de Guzman.”   According to the petitioners, sometime in 1990 their late brother Manuel borrowed money from Veronica Gonzales (Gonzales), president of V.R. Gonzales Credit Enterprises, Inc. (respondent company). Manuel sought their consent in constituting a mortgage over the above properties of their father, but the petitioners refused. Manuel then caused the execution of an Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate with Waiver   by forging the signatures of the petitioners and their mother Flora. In the said instrument, the petitioners and their siblings were said to have waived their shares in their father’s estate in favor of their mother, thus making Flora the sole owner of the three lots. 5  Meanwhile, fire had razed part of the Office of the Register of Deeds of Bulacan and destroyed the titles to the said parcels. After the reconstitution of the titles on April 7, 1992, 6  new titles were issued in the name of  “Flora de Guzman, F ilipino, of legal age, widow ,” to wit: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary  (1) TCT No. T-19267, which is a transfer from TCT No. RT-19565 (T-41394), containing an area of 512 square meters, located in Barangay   Sabang, Baliuag, Bulacan; cralawlibrary    (2) TCT No. T-19268, which is a transfer from TCT No. RT-19566 (T-116789), covering an area of 478.4 sq m, located at P. Angeles St., Baliuag, Bulacan; and (3) TCT No. T-19269, which is a transfer from TCT No. RT-19564 (T-193099), covering an area of 580 sq m, located in Baliuag, Bulacan. 7  Petitioners further claim that on the day that the above new titles were issued, they caused the annotation thereon of their hereditary claim in their father’s estate. 8  On December 4, 2000, Flora died. Sometime in January 2007, Gon zales appeared and, claiming that the petitioners’ late mother Flora had mortgaged the above properties to respondent company in 1995, demanded payment from the petitioners of several loans allegedly taken out by Flora, as follows: 9 cralawvllred   (i) P3,000,000.00, borrowed by Flora on January 30, 1995 secured by a mortgage contract over TCT No. T-19269; (ii) P3,500,000.00, taken out on July 12, 1995 by Flora upon a mortgage over TCT No. T-19267; (iii) P500,000.00, also borrowed on July 12, 1995 by Flora secured by a mortgage over TCT No. T-19268; On Februry 16, 2007, the petitioners were able to verify from the Register of Deeds of Bulacan that the above properties had indeed been mortgaged to respondent company in 1995, but they now say that they “immediately noted that the purported signatures of   their mother on the three (3) mortgage contracts were actually forgeries, and that the mortgage contracts did not state when the supposed loan obligations would become due and demandable .”  10  They maintain that their mother did not contract the loans, and they point to their brothers Manuel and Arturo, whose signatures appear as witnesses on the mortgage documents, as guilty of forging her signatures and of receiving the proceeds of the loans. The petitioners also disclaim any knowledge of the loans, or of their consent thereto, either before or after. The respondent company extrajudicially foreclosed on the mortgage over the aforesaid lots sometime in 2007, but meanwhile, on June 8, 2007, the petitioners filed Civil Case No. 333-M-2007 11  with the RTC-Branc h 78, for “  Annulment of Mortgage, Extra-Judicial Foreclosure, Auction Sale, Certificate of Sale, and Damages, ” seeking to void the real estate mortgages, the extrajudicial foreclosure and the auction sale of the lots. Named defendants were respondent company and their brothers Manuel and Arturo. After posting and publication of the notice of sheriff’s sale dated October 20, 2008, the three properties were sold at auction held on November 18, 2008 for a total price of P8,000,000, with the respondent company as the highest bidder. A certificate of sale was issued by Ex-Officio  Sheriff Emmanuel Ortega on November 20, 2008, duly annotated on the titles on November 28, 2008. 12 cralawvllred  The one-year period to redeem lapsed. Respondent company executed an affidavit of consolidation of  ownership. On December 8, 2009, it filed an ex parte  petition for issuance of a writ of possession in the RTC-Branch 81 docketed as P-826-2009. 13  In its Order 14  dated December 17, 2009, the court set the petition for hearing on February 26, 2010. Meanwhile, on February 25, 2010, the petitioners were able to file an Opposition 15  to the petition, praying for the outright denial thereof on the ground of forum shopping because the respondent company did not disclose the pendency of Civil Case No. 333-M-2007 in its certification against forum-shopping. On March 10, 2010, V.R. Gonzales filed a Comment to the Opposition, 16  to which the petitioners filed a Reply 17 on March 23, 2010. In its Order 18  dated March 16, 2010, the RTC-Branch 81 den ied the petitioners’ opposition and ruled that the respondent company was not guilty of forum shopping. Citing Sps. Ong v. CA , 19  it held that the issuance of the writ of possession was a mere ministerial function of the court, and was summary in nature. 20  Not being a judgment on the merits, litis pendentia or res judicata  would not set in to bar the filing of Civil Case No. 333-M-2007. Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was denied in the court’s Order 21  dated May 4, 2010. On June 2, 2010, the petitioners filed a petition for certiorari  22  in the CA docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 114265, whose decision therein, dated July 20, 2011, is now the subject of this Petition. Meanwhile, on February 28, 2011, the RTC-Branch 81 granted the writ of possession sought by the respondent company in P-826-2009. The notice to vacate was issued on April 26, 2011 against the petitioners. In a related development, on August 10, 2010, the RTC-Branch 78 dismissed the complaint in Civil Case No. 333-M-2007, holding that the mortgage contracts executed by Flora in favor of the respondent company over TCT Nos. T-19267, T-19268, and T-19269 are valid, and declaring valid the extrajudicial foreclosure and auction sale of the said properties. The decision is now pending appeal in   the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 96251. Petition for Certiorari   in the CA  In CA-G.R. SP No. 114265, 23  the petitioners reiterated their arguments: (1) that due to identity of parties and cause of action, the respondent company committed forum shopping for failing to disclose the pendency of Civil Case No. 333-M-2007; (2) that due to the pendency of Civil Case No. 333-M-2007, the RTC-Branch 81 has no jurisdiction over the ex parte  petition for writ of possession, since the question of possession was already laid before the RTC-Branch 78; and (3) that the issue of validity of the mortgage contracts executed by Flora and the foreclosure of the mortgages are material to the issue of possession. On April 25, 2011, the CA denied petitioners’ urgent motion for wri t of preliminary injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order. On July 20, 2011, the CA rendered its now assailed decision denying the petition in CA-G.R. SP No.  114265, ruling that respondent company was not guilty of forum shopping since the ex parte  petition for writ of possession it filed in P-826-2009 is not an initiatory pleading as to require that a certification of non-forum shopping be attached thereto; that the issuance of the writ of possession is merely a ministerial function of the court a quo , the possession being incidental to the transfer of title to the new owner; that the issuance of the writ is summary in nature and is not a judgment on the merits. The CA further explained that the ex parte  writ of possession is for the sole benefit of the new owner, without need of notice to or consent by any party who might be adversely affected. Thus, notwithstanding the pendency of a suit to annul the real estate mortgage and the extrajudicial foreclosure and auction sale, the purchaser is entitled to a writ of possession, without prejudice to the outcome in the annulment case, which can proceed without encroaching on the jurisdiction of the court resolving the ex parte  petition for writ of possession. Petition for Review in the Supreme Court   On December 12, 2011, the CA denied the petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration from its above decision. 24 Hence, this petition for review. The petitioners now contend that the CA erred in failing to take into account the fact that they, against whom the writ of possession issued by the RTC in P-826-2009 was directed, are adverse claimants who are third parties and strangers to the real estate mortgages executed by their mother. They cite Villanueva v. Cherdan Lending Investors Corporation , 25  where it was reiterated that the issuance of a writ of possession in favor of the purchaser in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale ceases to be ministerial where the property is in the possession of a third party who holds the property under a claim adverse to that of the debtor/mortgagor. 26 cralawvllred  The petitioners maintain that they knew nothing about the mortgage contracts, whose validity is now the subject of their appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 96251. They further claim that their signatures in the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Waiver  , which they supposedly executed in favor of their mother Flora, were forged. As co-heirs and co-owners with their mother of the subject lots, they have a claim directly adverse to hers, and therefore, also directly adverse to her successor-in-interest, the respondent company. Consequently, the duty of the RTC to issue the writ of possession to respondent company ceases to be ministerial. Our Ruling  We dismiss the petition. The long-settled rule in extrajudicial foreclosure of real estate mortgage is that after consolidation of ownership of the foreclosed property, it is the
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