Almirante: Modification of judgement

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Friday, June 13, 2014


Dominador Almirante
Labor case digest

ON May 7, 1997, the labor arbiter rendered a decision ordering Pro Agency Manila, Inc., and Abdul Rahman Al Mahwes jointly and severally to pay the money claims, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees to respondents Simeon Dejero and Teodoro R. Permejo.

On Oct. 30, 2002, while the case was in the execution stage, the respondents filed a Motion to Implead Pro Agency Manila, Inc.’s corporate officers and directors including petitioner Elizabeth M. Gagui as its vice-president, stockholder, and director. In an order, the motion was granted by the labor arbiter, which on appeal was affirmed by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and the Court of Appeals (CA).

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In her motions to quash the writ of execution, the petitioner alleged, among others, that impleading her for the purpose of execution was tantamount to modifying a decision that had long become final and executory. Does this contention find merit?

The Supreme Court (First Division) ruling: Yes.

Moreover, petitioner is correct in saying that impleading her for the purpose of execution is tantamount to modifying a decision that had long become final and executory. The fallo of the 1997 Decision by the NLRC only held “respondents Pro Agency Manila Inc., and Abdul Rahman Al Mahwes to jointly and severally pay complainants x x x.” By holding her liable despite not being ordained as such by the decision, both the CA and NLRC violated the doctrine on immutability of judgments.

In PH Credit Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 421 Phil. 821, 833 (2001), citing Magat v. Judge Pimentel Jr., 399 Phil. 728, 735 (2000); Olac v. CA, G.R. No. 84256, Sept. 2, 1992, 213 SCRA 321, the Court stressed that “respondent’s petitioner’s obligation is based on the judgment rendered by the trial court. The dispositive portion or the fallo is its decisive resolution and is thus the subject of execution. x x x. Hence the execution must conform with that which is ordained or decreed in the dispositive portion of the decision.”

In JNIMACO v. NLRC, 387 Phil. 659, 667 (2000), the Court also held thus: None of the parties in the case before the Labor Arbiter appealed the Decision dated March 10, 1987, hence the same became final and executory. It was, therefore, removed from the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter or the NLRC to further alter or amend it. Thus, the proceedings held for the purpose of amending or altering the dispositive portion of the said decision are null and void for lack of jurisdiction. Also, the Alias Writ of Execution is null and void because it varied the tenor of the judgment in that it sought to enforce the final judgment against ‘’Antonio Gonzales/Industrial Management Development Corp. (INIMACO) and/or Filipinas Carbon and Mining Corp. and Gerardo Sicat, which makes the liability solidary.

In other words, “once a decision or order becomes final and executory, it is removed from the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered it to further alter or amend it. It thereby becomes immutable and unalterable and any amendment or alteration which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that purpose. An order of execution which varies the tenor of the judgment or exceeds the terms thereof is a nullity.” (Elizabeth M. Gagui vs. Simeon Dejero and Teodoro R. Permejo, G.R. No. 196036, Oct. 23, 2013, quoting previous decisions).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 14, 2014.

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