Civil Law

Crisanta Galay vs Court of Appeals

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G.R. No. 120132 – 250 SCRA 629 (321 Phil. 224) – Civil Law – General Principles – Social Justice – Urban Development and Housing Act of 1991

Remedial Law – Civil Procedure – Special Civil Actions – Ejectment – Ejectment of Informal Settlers – Urban Development and Housing Act of 1991

Crisanta Galay et al. were informal settlers (squatters, according to the ponente) who lost in an ejectment suit filed against them by Virginia Wong. The decision became final and executory. Galay et al then filed a Petition for Temporary Restraining Order seeking the enforcement of the decision ousting them to be stayed. Galay argued that before they can be ejected, the People’s Bureau must first be notified and that they must first be relocated in accordance with the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1991 (URDHA, or RA 7279). The trial court denied their petition. They then filed a petition before the Court of Appeals arguing that the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion, among others.

The Court of Appeals gave due course to Galay’s petition. It granted the prayer for injunction and directed Wong to comply with the requirements of the URDHA. Wong then notified the People’s Bureau (Urban Poor Affair’s Office). After the lapse of the 45-day period under the URDHA, Wong sought for the lifting of the injunction. Galay opposed the motion claiming that they must first be relocated. The CA ruled that since Wong complied, Galay et al must vacate the premises on the deadline fixed by the Court of Appeals.

Galay et al., through a new counsel, now question the orders of the Court of Appeals as they argued, among others, that Wong must share the expenses in their relocation and that as underprivileged citizens, they must be accorded protection by the court – they must not be ejected without an adequate relocation.

ISSUE: Whether or not Wong should shoulder the expenses of Galay’s relocation from Wong’s lot.

HELD: No. The law explicitly states that it should be the local government and the National Housing Authority who should be handling the expenses. That if the relocatee was not relocated within the time given, the local government shall pay the relocatee the minimum wage for each day of delay.

On the contention that they must not be ejected without an adequate relocation, the problem with that contention is that, the decision in the original ejectment case where Galay et al lost was already final and executory. When they lost in that case, they made no further appeal. It is now binding upon them. It was only when Wong moved for execution that Galay et al filed in another court for a TRO seeking to enjoin a lawful order of another court. Their plea for a TRO was denied. They then petitioned before the CA invoking the URDHA. The CA granted their prayer for injunction pending Wong’s compliance with the URDHA. Wong complied with what was mandated of her by the URDHA. After that compliance, even if Galay et al have no adequate relocation yet, they must be ejected as there was already a lawful order from a court of law.

It has been held that “the policy of social justice is not intended to countenance wrongdoing simply because it is committed by the underprivileged. At best it may mitigate the penalty but it certainly will not condone the offense. Compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but only when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege.” Never is it justified to prefer the poor simply because they are poor, or to reject the rich simply because they are rich, for justice must always be served, for poor and rich alike, according to the mandate of the law.

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