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Due process the PH way

12:03 AM April 15, 2015

In her April 11 Inquirer column, Solita Monsod asked: “How can CA issue that writ of injunction?” given what Section 14 of Republic Act No. 6770 (“The Ombudsman Act of 1989”) clearly proscribes in no uncertain terms the issuance of a writ of injunction on the Office of the Ombudsman unless the subject matter of its investigation is outside of its jurisdiction? How could so plain a language be so misconstrued?

That article reminded me of my own frustrations in the practice of law (which is why I’m putting my medical license to more use these days). Pro bono, I took up the cudgels for a family who could not afford the services of a lawyer. We filed a complaint against a financing firm to annul a real estate mortgage (REM) on their home on the grounds that they never signed the same and their purported signatures thereon were sham.

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Unbeknownst to us, the firm commenced extrajudicial foreclosure and in due time had the title consolidated in its name. As that developed, the trial court rendered a judgment nullifying the REM and the extrajudicial foreclosure, and ordered the firm to return the property to my clients. The firm appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals.

Then out of the blue, a writ of possession was served on my clients commanding them to vacate their home. We opposed the same at the court which issued that process, arguing that since the writ drew its life from the REM and the extrajudicial foreclosure which had been judicially declared void, there was no more legal basis for its enforcement. However, finding that such judgment of nullity was still on appeal, the court saw no compelling reason to stay the writ.

We elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals, praying for a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction to stop a patent injustice. We argued that equity called for a temporary stay, given the prima facie finding of merit in our favor—or at least until the firm’s appeal was resolved with finality. But guess what? No TRO, no writ of injunction. Our petition having thus been denied, we went to the Supreme Court. Alas, nothing happened there, too. Our petition was likewise denied because the judgment of nullity was still on appeal and therefore not yet final. The writ prevailed.

All doors having been slammed in their faces in search of judicial relief, my clients were unceremoniously thrown out of their house! An elder member of the family suffered a heart attack and died. Eventually, the firm’s appeal was dismissed by another division of the Court of Appeals “for lack of merit.” Its petition to the Supreme Court was likewise dismissed by another division. So, justice was finally served? I don’t know about that, but to this day it baffles me why our justice system had gone so helter-skelter and taken more than 15 years to resolve a controversy that basically required only common sense!

Now, comparing the heart-rending experience my clients had to go through begging in vain for an injunctive relief to the ease with which the Binays secured such relief from the Court of Appeals, one can only wonder, indeed, what it is about “due process” in this country that works so efficiently for the rich and powerful but shows so little concern for the rest of us?

—GEORGE DEL MAR, [email protected]

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TAGS: Binays, Court of Appeals, ombudsman, real estate mortgage, Solita Monsod, suspension
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