I lost in a case way back in 1990 and my property in the province was levied to satisfy the judgment of the court. The levy was annotated on my title. For unknown reasons, however, my property was not auctioned off or sold. Last month, I received a letter from the person who won the case demanding me to pay my outstanding obligation or he will proceed with auctioning off my property. May I ask if he can still enforce the levy? What can I do in this situation?
A court judgment may only be executed within the period provided by the law and rules. After the lapse of such time, the decision can no longer be executed.
According to the rules, a party who obtained a favorable decision has the right to have the decision executed by filing a motion with the court that rendered the same within five (5) years from the time the decision became final and executory. After such time, the concerned party must first file an action to revive judgment before he can have the same executed (Section 6, Rule 39, Rules of Court). This action must be filed within ten (10) years from the time the decision was rendered in consonance with the provision of the law stating that an action predicated or based on a judgment must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues (Article 1144, Civil Code).
This ten-year prescriptive period also applies to levy of property. As mentioned by the Supreme Court in the case of Jalandoni vs. PNB, a valid execution issued and levy made within the five-year period after entry of the judgment may be enforced by sale of the property levied upon thereafter, provided the sale is made within ten years after the entry of the judgment (108 SCRA 102). Thus, the party who obtained a favorable decision must proceed with the auction and sale of the levied property within the period provided to execute the decision. Otherwise, he or she loses her right to do so.
Moreover, the court declared in the same case that an expired levy that was annotated on the title becomes a cloud on the title. As a cloud, the owner of the property, or his or her heirs is entitled to have the same removed. As provided by law, whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to the said title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title (Art. 476, Civil Code). The action to remove the cloud may be filed by any person who has an interest in the property before the appropriate Regional Trial Court in accordance with Rule 63 of the Rules of Court.
Applied in your case, considering that more than twenty (20) years has lapsed since your property was levied, it can be safely assumed that the same has expired and is no longer enforceable. It has become a cloud on your title. As the owner of the levied property, you may file a petition in court to remove the annotation of the levy on your title.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com