SPOUSES MARQUEZ, vs. SPOUSES ALINDOG, G.R. No. 184045, January 22, 2014

Petitioner Anita J. Marquez (Anita) extended a loan to a certain Benjamin Gutierrez (Gutierrez). As security therefor, Gutierrez executed a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage over a parcel of land registered under the name of Benjamin A. Gutierrez, married to Liwanag Camerin (Sps. Gutiererez). The mortgage was duly annotated on the dorsal portion of TCT which Sps. Marquez had verified as clean prior to the mortgage.

Since Gutierrez defaulted in the payment of his loan obligation, Anita sought the extra-judicial foreclosure of the subject property. At the public auction sale which Anita emerged as the highest bidder. Upon Gutierrez’s failure to redeem the same property within the prescribed period therefor, title was consolidated in the name of Anita J. Marquez, married to Nicasio C. Marquez) which, however, bore an annotation of adverse claim in the names of respondents-spouses Alindog. Said annotation was copied from an earlier annotation made only after the subject property’s mortgage to Sps. Marquez.

Subsequently, Sps. Alindog filed a civil case for annulment of real estate mortgage and certificate of sale with prayer for damages against Sps. Marquez and a certain Agripina Gonzales (Gonzales) before the RTC.

Meanwhile, Anita filed an ex-parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession before the RTC, claiming that the same is ministerial on the court’s part following the consolidation of her and her husband’s title over the subject property. Impleaded in said petition are Sps. Gutierrez, including all persons claiming rights under them.

The RTC granted Anita’s ex-parte petition and thereby directed the issuance of a writ of possession in her favor. Claiming that they would suffer irreparable injury if the implementation of the writ of possession in favor of Sps. Marquez would be left unrestrained, Sps. Alindog sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction with prayer for damages, in a separate case which was raffled to the same court. The RTC, issued a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining Sps. Marquez from taking possession of the subject property until after the controversy has been fully resolved on the merits.

Aggrieved, Sps. Marquez moved for reconsideration, the RTC denied the motion of Sps. Marquez. Unperturbed, Sps. Marquez elevated the case to the CA on certiorari.

The CA denied Sps. Marquez’s petition as it found no grave abuse of discretion on the RTC’s part when it issued the injunctive writ that enjoined Sps. Marquez from taking possession of the subject property. It observed that Sps. Alindog had indeed “adduced prima facie proof of their right to possess the subject property” while the annulment case was pending, adding that the latter’s “right to remain in possession” proceeds from the fact of the subject property’s earlier sale to them. Thus, while Sps. Marquez concededly had a right to possess the subject property on account of the consolidation of the title in their names, the CA nonetheless found no fault on the part of the RTC for “proceeding with caution” in weighing the conflicting claims of the parties and subsequently issuing the writ of preliminary injunction in Sps. Alindog’s favor.

Dissatisfied, Sps. Marquez moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied in a Resolution hence, this petition.

Whether the CA erred in finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC when it issued the injunctive writ which enjoined Sps. Marquez from taking possession of the subject property.

Yes, It is an established rule that the purchaser in an extra-judicial foreclosure sale is entitled to the possession of the property and can demand that he be placed in possession of the same either during (with bond) or after the expiration (without bond) of the redemption period therefor.

The procedure for extrajudicial foreclosure of real estate mortgage is governed by Act No. 3135, as amended. The purchaser at the public auction sale of an extrajudicially foreclosed real property may seek possession thereof in accordance with Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended.

The issuance of a writ of possession to a purchaser in a public auction is a ministerial act. After the consolidation of title in the buyer’s name for failure of the mortgagor to redeem the property, the writ of possession becomes a matter of right. Its issuance to a purchaser in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale is merely a ministerial function. The trial court has no discretion on this matter. Hence, any talk of discretion in connection with such issuance is misplaced.

The distinction between a ministerial and discretionary act is well delineated. A purely ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires neither the exercise of official discretion or judgment.


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