The doctrine of finality of judgment is grounded on the fundamental principle of public policy and sound practice that, at the risk of occasional error, the judgment of courts and the award of quasi-judicial agencies must become final on some definite date fixed by law. The only exceptions to the general rule are the correction of clerical errors, the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, void judgments, and whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision which render its execution unjust and inequitable. Again, none of these exceptions is present in this case.
Notwithstanding these principles, however, the higher interests of justice and equity demand that we brush aside the procedural norms. After all, rules of procedure are intended to promote rather than defeat substantial justice, and should not be applied in a very rigid and technical sense. Rules of procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice; they are promulgated to aid the court in the effective dispensation of justice. The Court has the inherent power and discretion to amend, modify or reconsider a final judgment when it is necessary to accomplish the ends of justice.
If the rigid application of the Rules would frustrate rather than promote justice, it is always within the Court?s power to suspend the Rules or except a particular case from its operation. The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final.
The present case is peculiar in the sense that it involves three final and executory judgments. The first is this Court?s Decision in G.R. Nos. 92871 and 92860 which upheld the sale of the whole property by the Jomoc heirs, including the herein respondents, to petitioner Maura So. The second is the Court?s Resolution in G.R. No. 110661, which sustained the order of execution of the said decision against the herein respondents despite the fact that they were not party-defendants in the first case. And the third is the Court?s Minute Resolution in G.R. No. 118050 which denied Maura So?s petition for review of the RTC Decision granting respondents? right to redeem the property.
It is the third judgment that is apparently in conflict with the two previous judgments.
It rendered final and executory the April 27, 1994 Resolution of the RTC which recognized the right of respondents, as co-owners, to redeem the disputed land from Maura So. To recall, the RTC premised its decision on its finding that respondents did not actually sell their shares in the property to Maura So because they did not sign the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement with Absolute Sale of Registered Land in favor of So; hence, they remained co-owners. This ruling is patently erroneous because this Court had already pronounced in the first two final and executory judgments (in G.R. Nos. 92871 and 92860, and G.R. No. 110661) that the whole property had already been sold to Maura So. The RTC was barred from holding otherwise under the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment. ? Heirs of So vs. Obliosca, et al., G.R. No. 147082, January 28, 2008
(To be continued)