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Dagooc vs. Erlina Case Digest


The law mandates that in the execution of a money judgment, the judgment debtor shall pay either in cash, certified bank check payable to the judgment obligee, or any other form of payment acceptable to the latter. Nowhere does the law mention promissory notes as a form of payment. The only exception is when such form of payment is acceptable to the judgment debtor. But it was obviously not acceptable to complainant, otherwise she would not have filed this case against respondent sheriff. In fact, she objected to it because the promissory notes of the defendants did not satisfy the money judgment in her favor.

If the judgment debtor cannot pay all or part of the obligation in cash, certified bank check or other mode of payment acceptable to the judgment obligee, the money judgment shall be satisfied by levying on the properties of the judgment debtor.

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Facts:

Dagooc filed a complaint for misconduct and ignorance of the law against deputy sheriff Erlina. She alleged that she was the plaintiff in a civil case. The court rendered judgment by compromise agreement which immediately became final and executory. She moved for the execution of the decision and a writ of execution was issued which was endorsed to deputy sheriff Erlina. The defendants, however, could not pay the money judgment. Instead of levying on the properties of the defendants to satisfy the judgment, however, sheriff Erlina asked them to execute promissory notes in favor of Dagooc which he asked the latter to collect from the defendants. Dagooc further alleged that sheriff Erlina indicated in his return of service that defendants were insolvent. But upon verification with the assessors office of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, she discovered that defendants owned real properties.


Issue:

Is sheriff Erlina guilty of misconduct and gross ignorance of the law?


Held:

Yes. The law mandates that in the execution of a money judgment, the judgment debtor shall pay either in cash, certified bank check payable to the judgment obligee, or any other form of payment acceptable to the latter. Nowhere does the law mention promissory notes as a form of payment. The only exception is when such form of payment is acceptable to the judgment debtor. But it was obviously not acceptable to complainant, otherwise she would not have filed this case against respondent sheriff. In fact, she objected to it because the promissory notes of the defendants did not satisfy the money judgment in her favor. [Sec. 9, Rule 39, Rules of Court]

If the judgment debtor cannot pay all or part of the obligation in cash, certified bank check or other mode of payment acceptable to the judgment obligee, the money judgment shall be satisfied by levying on the properties of the judgment debtor. [Sec. 9(b), Rule 39, Rules of Court]

Respondent sheriff not only failed to levy on the properties of the judgment debtor when they could not pay the money judgment in cash but also claimed the exemption for them. His conduct blatantly manifested his incompetence and ineptitude in discharging his functions. Moreover, respondent sheriff was seriously remiss in his duties when he stated in his return of service that the defendants were insolvent without first diligently verifying such fact. As it turned out, the defendants had real properties he could have levied on to satisfy the money judgment.

But even assuming that the defendants/judgment debtors were insolvent, respondent sheriff should have garnished their salaries (being paid employees) to enforce the judgment in the subject case as provided for in Section 9(c), Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court.

Either to desperately cover his tracks after it was pointed out to him that the defendants were not insolvent at all or out of sheer ignorance of the law, respondent sheriff advised complainant to file a motion for the issuance of an alias writ of execution allegedly so that he could levy on the properties of the defendants. But there was no need for an alias writ of execution for him to levy on the real properties of the defendants. The life of the writ was for five years and the judgment of the court had not yet been fully satisfied. Section 14, Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court states that:

Section 14. Return of writ of execution. The writ of execution shall be returnable to the court issuing it immediately after the judgment has been satisfied in part or in full. If the judgment cannot be satisfied in full within thirty (30) days after his receipt of the writ, the officer shall report to the court and state the reason therefor. Such writ shall continue in effect during the period within which the judgment may be enforced by motion. The officer shall make a report to the court every thirty (30) days on the proceedings taken thereon until the judgment is satisfied in full, or its effectivity expires. x x x (emphasis ours)

Sheriffs, as public officers, are repositories of public trust and are under obligation to perform the duties of their office honestly, faithfully and to the best of their ability. They are bound to use utmost skill and diligence in the performance of their official duties particularly where the rights of individuals may be jeopardized by their neglect. Here, we find respondent sheriff utterly wanting in zeal and dedication. He was highly incompetent, downright inefficient and grossly ignorant of the law when he did not faithfully execute the writ of execution to the prejudice of complainant. (Dagooc vs. Erlina, A.M. No. P-04-1857. March 16, 2005)

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