Northern Luzon Island Co. vs. Garcia, G.R. No. 203240, March 18, 2015

On September 23, 2005, petitioner Northern Islands Co., Inc. (petitioner) filed a Complaint with application for a writ of preliminary attachment, before the RTC against respondents. In connection with the application for a writ of preliminary attachment, petitioner posted a bond, through Visayan Surety and Insurance Corporation, in the amount of P8,040,825. The RTC issued the writ sought for. Instead of filing an answer, respondents filed an Urgent Motion for Extension of Time to File Proper Pleading and Motion for Discovery (Production and Inspection) asking the RTC to allow them to photocopy and personally examine the original invoices, delivery cargo receipts, and bills of lading attached to the Amended Complaint, claiming that they could not “come up with an intelligent answer” without being presented with the originals of such documents.

Thereafter, respondents filed a Motion to Discharge Excess Attachment, alleging that the attachment previously ordered by the RTC exceeded by P9,232,564.56 given that the estimated value of the attached properties, including the garnished bank accounts, as assessed by their appraiser, Gaudioso W. Lapaz (Lapaz), amounted to P 7,273,409.73, while the attachment bond is only in the amount of P8,040,825.17.16

In an Order dated February 28, 2006, the RTC denied the Motion, and, instead, directed respondents to file their answer, which the latter complied with through the filing of their Answer Ad Cautelam Ex Abudante with Compulsory Counterclaim. Despite this, respondents again filed a Motion for Leave of Court to File Motion for Discovery (Production and Inspection) (Motion for Discovery).

The RTC denied the Motion to Discharge Excess Attachment on the other hand, the RTC granted the Motion for Discovery in accordance with Rule 27 of the Rules of Court, despite petitioner’s claim that it did not have the originals of the documents being sought.

Respondents filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration specifically assailing the denial of their Motion to Discharge Excess Attachment. In this relation, they prayed that the RTC refer to a commissioner, pursuant to Rule 32 of the Rules of Court, the factual determination of the total aggregate amount of respondents’ attached properties so as to ascertain if the attachment was excessive. Also, they prayed that the order for production and inspection be modified and that petitioner be ordered to produce the original documents anew for their inspection and copying.

The foregoing motion was, however, denied by the RTC for lack of merit. Thus, respondents elevated the matter to the CA via petition for certiorari and mandamus. In the interim, the RTC rendered a Decision in the Main Case. Essentially, it dismissed petitioner’s Complaint due to the absence of any evidence to prove that respondents had agreed to the pricing of the subject goods. The RTC’s Decision was later appealed by petitioner before the CA. Finding that the Notice of Appeal was seasonably filed, with the payment of the appropriate docket fees, the RTC, ordered the elevation of the entire records of the Main Case to the CA. The appeal was then raffled to the CA’s Eighth Division. On the other hand, records do not show that respondents filed any appeal. The CA partly granted the certiorari petition of respondents, ordering the RTC to appoint a commissioner as provided under Rule 32 of the Rules of Court as well as the subsequent discharge of any excess attachment if so found therein, and, on the other hand, denying respondents’ Motion for Discovery.

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration but was denied, hence, the present petition.

Whether the RTC had lost jurisdiction over the matter of the preliminary attachment after petitioner appealed the decision in the Main Case, and thereafter ordered the transmittal of the records to the CA;

Yes, Section 9, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides that in appeals by notice of appeal, the court loses jurisdiction over the case upon the perfection of the appeals filed in due time and the expiration of the time to appeal of the other parties.

Attachment is defined as a provisional remedy by which the property of an adverse party is taken into legal custody, either at the commencement of an action or at any time thereafter, as a security for the satisfaction of any judgment that may be recovered by the plaintiff or any proper party.

It is an auxiliary remedy and cannot have an independent existence apart from the main suit or claim instituted by the plaintiff against the defendant. Being merely ancillary to a principal proceeding, the attachment must fail if the suit itself cannot be maintained as the purpose of the writ can no longer be justified.

The consequence is that where the main action is appealed, the attachment which may have been issued as an incident of that action, is also considered appealed and so also removed from the jurisdiction of the court a quo. The attachment itself cannot be the subject of a separate action independent of the principal action because the attachment was only an incident of such action.


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