Turqueza vs. Hernando

No. L-51626. April 30, 1980.

Main Topic – Rule 65.


Turqueza instituted an action for recovery of damages on the ground of injury sustained involving a Ford pick-up vehicle belonging to the CDCP Mining and a Willy’s passenger jeep owned and operated by M. Pacapac.  No one appeared during the pre-trial despite due notice to both the private respondent and its counsel. On motion of petitioners, respondent judge declared respondent in default and petitioners were allowed to submit their evidence. The trial court rendered Pacapac in default and ordered her to pay for moral and compensatory damages. No appeal was taken and the judgment became final and executory.

The present controversy arose from the lower court’s “special order” granting respondent’s belated “Motion to Reopen Case” which invoked respondent judge’s “magnanimity and benevolence” to set aside the final and executed judgment on the ground that the said judgment rendered by default was due to the fault or negligence of her lawyer.


Whether or not respondent judge’s act of ordering the reopening of the case which has long become final and which has in fact been executed is void.


Yes. It is settled that once a decision becomes final and executory, it is removed from the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered it to further alter or amend, much less revoke it. The motion to reopen the case in the lower court was in effect a second petition for relief from judgment and could no longer be entertained because, as pointed out by petitioners in their motion for reconsideration of the “special order”, the motion was filed out of time long after the lapse of the reglementary period therefor under Rule 38 (60 days from learning of the judgment and 6 months from entry of judgment) and respondent judge had therefore lost all authority and jurisdiction to act on the same.

The doctrine of finality of judgments is grounded on fundamental considerations of public policy and sound practice that at the risk of occasional error, the judgments of courts must become final at some definite date fixed by law. The law gives an exception or “last chance” of a timely petition for relief from judgment within the reglementary period under Rule 38, but such grace period must be taken as “absolutely fixed, inextendible, never interrupted and cannot be subjected to any condition or contingency.


A petition for relief from the order of default may be filed at any time after discovery of the default order and before judgment—not any time after discovery of the judgment by default under his grossly erroneous reading and perception of the Rule.