Sunday, April 01, 2012

Maglente vs. Padilla (2007)

Facts: On January 15, 1985, Philippine Realty Corporation (PRC), owner of a 687.80-square meter parcel of land at 400 Solana St., Intramuros, Manila, entered into a contract of lease for three years with one of the petitioners, Ursula Maglente. 

The contract stated that, if PRC were to sell the leased property, Maglente would be given the first priority (right of first refusal) to buy it. Both parties likewise agreed that the lessee was prohibited from subleasing any portion of the property without the consent of the lessor. However, after the execution of the lease contract, petitioner Maglente subleased portions of the property to respondents 

On March 9, 1987, when the lease contract was about to expire, PRC sent a written offer to sell the leased property to Maglente. In response, the latter intimated that she would exercise her right of first refusal to purchase the property with co-petitioners as her co-buyers. In February 1989, PRC received a letter from respondents expressing their desire to purchase the same property. 

On February 23, 1989, PRC filed a complaint for interpleader in the RTC against both petitioners and respondents so they could litigate among themselves on who had the right to purchase the property. On March 11, 1991, the trial court ruled in favor of petitioners and declared them as the rightful parties to purchase PRC’s property. 

CA affirmed. SC also affirmed and ordered entry of judgment. 

On motion of petitioners, a writ of execution was later issued by the RTC directing PRC to execute the contract of sale/contract to sell in favor of petitioners. 

As ordered, PRC executed a “deed of sale” in favor of petitioners. The latter then filed a motion for the issuance of a writ of possession but respondents (who were occupying the property) objected on the ground that the trial court’s decision on the interpleader case merely resolved petitioners’ right to purchase the leased property but did not declare them as the owners entitled to possession. The trial court sustained respondents’ argument and denied petitioners’ motion. 

Hence, this petition for certiorari assailing the order denying the issuance of the writ of possession. 

Issue:  Whether or not petitioners are entitled to a writ of possession after being adjudged (in the interpleader case) as the proper parties to buy the subject property, considering that a “deed of sale” has already been executed in their favor. 

Held: NO 

1. Petitioners’ argument that the trial court’s writ of execution in the interpleader case carried with it the corollary right to a writ of possession is without merit. A writ of possession complements the writ of execution only when the right of possession or ownership has been validly determined in a case directly relating to either. The interpleader case obviously did not delve into that issue. 

2. The trial court’s decision in the interpleader case (affirmed by both the CA and the SC) merely resolved the question of who, between petitioners and respondents, had the right to purchase PRC’s property. The directive was only for PRC to execute the necessary contract in favor of petitioners as the winning parties, nothing else. At that point, petitioners were not yet the owners of the property. The execution of the “deed of sale” in their favor was only preliminary to their eventual acquisition of the property.

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