Petitioner contends inter alia that the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the petition, claiming that Section 16, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, merely requires the third-party claimant to submit an affidavit of his title to the property. The Rule does not require that her title of ownership be produced.
The petition lacks merit.
Section 16, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides: SEC. 16. Proceedings where property claimed by third person. ? If the property levied on is claimed by any person other than the judgment obligor or his agent, and such person makes an affidavit of his title thereto or right to the possession thereof, stating the grounds of such right or title, and serves the same upon the officer making the levy and a copy thereof upon the judgment obligee, the officer shall not be bound to keep the property, unless such judgment obligee, on demand of the officer, files a bond approved by the court to indemnify the third-party claimant in a sum not less than the value of the property levied on. In case of disagreement as to such value, the same shall be determined by the court issuing the writ of execution. No claim for damages for the taking or keeping of the property may be enforced against the bond unless the action therefor is filed within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the filing of the bond.
Corollarily, Sections 2 and 3, Rule VI of the NLRC Manual of Instructions for Sheriffs provide:
Section 2. Proceedings. If property levied upon be claimed by any person other than the losing party or his agent, such person shall make an affidavit of his title thereto or right to the possession thereof, stating the grounds of such right or title and shall file the same with the sheriff and copies thereof served upon the Labor Arbiter or proper officer issuing the writ and upon the prevailing party.
Upon receipt of the third-party claim, all proceedings with respect to the execution of the property subject of the third-party claim shall automatically be suspended and the Labor Arbiter or proper officer issuing the writ shall conduct a hearing with due notice to all parties concerned and resolve the validity of the claim within ten (10) working days from receipt thereof and his decision is appealable to the Commission within ten (10) working days from notice, and the Commission shall likewise resolve the appeal within the same period.
Section 3. Resolution of the Third-Party Claim, Effect. ? In the event the third party claim is declared to be valid, the sheriff shall immediately release the property to the third party claimant, his agent or representative and the levy on execution shall immediately be lifted or discharged. However, should the third-party claim be found to be without factual or legal basis, the sheriff must proceed with the execution of the property levied upon as if no third-party claim has been filed.
It is thus clear that a third-party claim must be supported by an affidavit stating the claimant?s title to, or right to possession of the property, and the grounds therefor. In other words, a mere affidavit will not suffice. The circumstances supporting the third-party claimant?s ownership or possession of the levied properties must be specified.
Here, both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC found that the Deed of Absolute Sale involving the sewing machines between petitioner and Marlon Viado is spurious. Likewise, the Court of Appeals found that no copy of the said document is on file with the Clerk of Court. The appellate court aptly held that the absence of such document is ?itself a badge of fraud and simulation that could make any court suspicious and wary of imputing any legitimacy and validity to the same, and actually militates against its use as basis for petitioner?s claim.?
These factual findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are accorded high respect by this Court. It bears stressing that this Court is not a trier of facts. Hence, it need not pass upon and evaluate the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, unless they are not supported by evidence, which exception is not present here. ? Bacos vs. Arcega, G.R. No. 152343, Jan. 18, 2008