Remedial Law

Spouses Jose and Marta Avendaño vs Judge Federico Alikpala et al.

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G.R. No. L-21189 – 120 Phil. 1331 – Remedial Law – Civil Procedure – Execution of Judgment – Limitations on Garnishment

In 1962, Luzviminda San Pedro filed a case against Spouses Jose and Marta Avendaño for Collection of Sum of Money. The spouses Avendaño lost the said case. To execute the judgment, San Pedro moved for the garnishment of the goods and chattels of Marta. Judge Federico Alikpala granted the motion and so the Sheriff issued a writ of garnishment upon the salary of Marta with the Manila Railroad Company. Spouses Avendaño petitioned for the setting aside of the writ of garnishment on the grounds that:

(1) that the goods and chattels which the writ of execution directed to be seized are those of petitioner Marta Avendaño alone, whereas the salary being garnished was “conjugal property” and therefore not covered by the writ;

(2) that garnishment of salaries, is not sanctioned by law in fact, there is a prohibition to that effect on the ground of public policy; and

(3) that even if salary is subject to garnishment, it becomes effective only if it is in excess for the needs of petitioner and her family.

The lower court denied the petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the garnishment upon the salary of Marta is proper.

HELD: No. Salaries may be garnished but the rule has its limitations, to wit:

(1) If the salary is from public fund (government employees), then it must have been set aside or segregated from the mass of the public fund (Author’s note: Before, government employee’s received their salary through checks. So long as the checks were not yet encashed by the employee, the “salary” is still considered part of the public fund, hence cannot be garnished). In the instant case, Manila Railroad is being funded by public fund and until the salary is effectively under the disposition of Marta, her salary cannot be garnished;

(2) Salary which is not sufficient for an employee’s or his/her family’s expenses is exempt from execution (Author’s note: under the 1997 Rules of Court, the expenses contemplated is four months. At the time of this case, it was only for one month). In the instant case, Marta was able to prove that her salary (Php200.00/month) is not sufficient to cover her supposed contribution to the monthly family expenses of Php220.00.

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