More than a decade ago, I filed a case in court involving a lot that I inherited from my parents. In 2009, the court decided the case in my favor. Its decision became final as the other party did not appeal the decision. I, however, only learned that I won the case last year when I directly inquired from the court. I lost contact with my lawyer who handled the case as I went abroad. Recently, when I went to the location of the property, I found out that the other parties claiming ownership and possession over the same property were still occupying the lot. Can I still enforce my right?
You can still enforce your right by virtue of the decision rendered by the court in 2009. Under Section 6, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a final and executory judgment or order may be executed on motion within five (5) years from the date of its entry. After the lapse of such time, and before it is barred by the statute of limitations, a judgment may be enforced by action. The revived judgment may also be enforced by motion within five (5) years from the date of its entry and thereafter by action before it is barred by the statute of limitations.
The Supreme Court restated the enforcement of a final and executory judgment in their ruling in the case of Rufa A. Rubio et al. vs. Lourdes Alabata (G.R. No. 203947, February 26, 2014), penned by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, to wit:
“Xxx Once a judgment becomes final and executory, the prevailing party can have it executed as a matter of right by mere motion within five (5) years from the date of entry of judgment. If the prevailing party fails to have the decision enforced by a motion after the lapse of five (5) years, the said judgment is reduced to a right of action, which must be enforced by the institution of a complaint in a regular court within ten (10) years from the time the judgment becomes final.
An action for revival of judgment is governed by Article 1144 (3), Article 1152 of the Civil Code and Section 6, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Thus,
Art. 1144. The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues:
x x x x
(3) Upon a judgment
Article 1152 of the Civil Code states:
Art. 1152. The period for prescription of actions to demand the fulfillment of obligations declared by a judgment commences from the time the judgment became final. Xxx”
In your case, it has been about nine (9) years when the judgment awarding the property in your favor became final and executory. Consequently, since more than five (5) years had elapsed, you can no longer execute the judgment by mere filing of a motion, instead, you may file a complaint in a regular court to revive the judgment within ten (10) years from the time the judgment became final and executory.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. 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.
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