City of Caloocan vs. Allarde
CITY OF CALOOCAN and NORMA M. ABRACIA, petitioners,
HON. MAURO T. ALLARDE, Presiding Judge of Branch 123, RTC of Caloocan City, ALBERTO A. CASTILLO, Deputy Sheriff of Branch 123, RTC of Caloocan City, and DELFINA HERNANDEZ SANTIAGO and PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK (PNB), respondents.
G.R. No. 107271
September 10, 2003
In 1972, Mayor Marcial Samson of Caloocan abolished the position of Assistant City Administrator and 17 other positions via Ordinance No. 1749. The affected employees assailed the legality of the abolition.
The CFI in 1973 declared abolition illegal and ordered the reinstatement of all the dismissed employees and the payment of their back-wages and other emoluments. The City Government appealed the decision but such was dismissed.
In 1986 the City paid Santiago P75,083.37 as partial payment of her back-wages. The others were paid in full. In 1987 the City appropriated funds for her unpaid back salaries (supplemental budget #3) but the City refused to release the money to Santiago. The City of Caloocan argued that Santiago was not entitled to back wages. On July 27, 1992 Sheriff Castillo levied and sold at public auction one of the motor vehicles of the City Government for P100,000. The amount was given to Santiago. The City Government questioned the validity of the sale of motor vehicle; properties of the municipality were exempt from execution. Judge Allarde denied the motion and directed the sheriff to levy and schedule at public auction 3 more vehicles.
On October 5, 1993 the City Council of Caloocan passed Ordinance No. 0134 which included the amount of P439,377.14 claimed by Santiago as back-wages, plus interest. Judge Allarde issued an order to the City Treasurer to release the check but the City Treasurer can‘t do so because the Mayor refuses to sign the check. On May 7, 1993. Judge Allarde ordered the Sheriff to immediately garnish the funds of the City Government of Caloocan corresponding to the claim of Santiago. Notice of garnishment was forwarded to the PNB but the City Treasurer sent an advice letter to PNB that the garnishment was illegal and that it would hold PNB liable for any damages which may be caused by the withholding the funds of the city.
WON the funds of City of Caloocan, in PNB, may be garnished (i.e. exempt from execution), to satisfy Santiago‘s claim.
Garnishment is considered a specie of attachment by means of which the plaintiff seeks to subject to his claim property of the defendant in the hands of a third person, or money owed by such third person or garnishee to the defendant. The rule is and has always been that all government funds deposited in the PNB or any other official depositary of the Philippine Government by any of its agencies or instrumentalities, whether by general or special deposit, remain government funds and may not be subject to garnishment or levy, in the absence of a corresponding appropriation as required by law. Even though the rule as to immunity of a state from suit is relaxed, the power of the courts ends when the judgment is rendered. Although the liability of the state has been judicially ascertained, the state is at liberty to determine for itself whether to pay the judgment or not, and execution cannot issue on a judgment against the state. Such statutes do not authorize a seizure of state property to satisfy judgments recovered, and only convey an implication that the legislature will recognize such judgment as final and make provision for the satisfaction thereof. However, the rule is not absolute and admits of a well-defined exception, that is, when there is a corresponding appropriation as required by law.
In such a case, the monetary judgment may be legally enforced by judicial processes. Herein, the City Council of Caloocan already approved and passed Ordinance No. 0134, Series of 1992, allocating the amount of P439,377.14 for Santiago‘s back-wages plus interest. This case, thus, fell squarely within the exception. The judgment of the trial court could then be validly enforced against such funds.
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