Final even if erroneous

Published by rudy Date posted on June 3, 2010

This is another case illustrating that a final decision can no longer be modified. This is the case of Lito who was hired as technical salesman by a company engaged in the distribution of various chemicals from foreign suppliers (MTI). After more than six years of employment, MTI terminated Lito’s services on July 15, 1997.

So Lito filed a case of illegal dismissal with the Labor Arbiter of the NLRC (LA) against MTI and its President and General Manager Vic. On May 31, 1999, the LA rendered a decision finding Lito’s dismissal illegal and ordering MTI and Vic to reinstate him to his former position or to other equivalent position and to pay his full back-wages and other benefits totaling P98,694.35. This decision was affirmed after it was elevated all the way up to the Supreme Court. It became final on August 13, 2001 and was remanded to the LA for execution.

On August 28, 2001 the LA issued a writ of execution commanding the NLRC Sheriff to collect the amount due to Lito already totaling P296,160.10. Regrettably, in a series of pleadings motions and appeals to the NLRC and the Court of Appeals (CA), MTI and Vic have delayed the execution of the LA’s final decision.

When the LA again issued an alias writ of execution on March 11, 2003 commanding the Sheriff to collect the recomputed amount of P251,927.12 due to Lito, the Sheriff garnished the account of MTI and Vic in a bank. Vic and MTI again filed a motion for reconsideration questioning this garnishment alleging that only MTI was the employer of Lito and Vic was only a nominal party. But the LA denied the motion for reconsideration on June 23, 2003 thereby triggering another series of appeal to the NLRC and the CA.

On July 14, 2005, the CA issued another decision denying MTI and Vic’s petition for certiorari and upholding the execution made by the Sherriff who levied the real property of Vic under TCT No. 59496. The CA subsequently affirmed this decision on November 16, 2005 by denying Vic’s and MTI’s motion for reconsideration.

Once more Vic and MTI elevated the case before the SC. Vic argued that his property cannot be made liable for the monetary award in favor of Lito because of a previous ruling of the SC that to hold president or director liable for debts of the corporation and thus pierce the veil of corporate fiction, the bad faith or wrongdoing of the president or director must be established clearly and convincingly. Was Vic and MTI correct?

No. Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge devised by the losing party. Final and executory judgments can neither be amended nor altered except for correction of clerical errors, even if the purpose is to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or of law.

Everything considered what must be enforced through a writ of execution is the dispositive portion of the LA decision dated May 31, 1999 as affirmed by the NLRC, the CA and the SC. Since the writ of execution issued by the LA does not vary but is in fact completely consistent with the final decision in this case, the order of execution issued by the LA is beyond challenge. It is no longer feasible to modify the final ruling in this case through the expediency of a petition questioning the writ of execution. This late in the day, Vic is barred by final judgment from advancing the argument that his real property cannot be made liable for the monetary award in favor of Lito. The final judgment in this case may no longer be reviewed, or in any way modified, directly or indirectly, by a higher court, not even by the Supreme Court (Marmosy Trading Inc. vs. Court of Appeals et. al. G.R. 170515, May 6, 2010). –Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

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