SC affirms contempt ruling versus La Salle school’s trustees over unremitted funds
The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the contempt ruling against the trustees of a Cavite school formerly supervised by De La Salle Greenhills over a dispute in the custody of its funds.
In a recent 32-page decision, the SC 2nd Division denied the petition of St. Francis School of General Trias, Cavite, Inc., trustees Bro. Bernard Oca, Bro. Dennis Magbanua, Cirila Mojica, and Josefina Pascual.
The Dasmariñas Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 90 in a February 2008 decision imposed a P30,000 fine for indirect contempt after they failed to abide by the October 2002 order of the Imus RTC Branch 21 for them to turn over “all fees” to cashier Herminia Reynante pending an intra-corporate dispute.
The Imus RTC had clarified in a March 2003 order that the trustees should have also turned over P9.98 million in bank deposits, P92,970 in fees paid by the school canteen, and all fees collected from January to February that year.
But, the trustees claimed this was belatedly sought by the rival litigant, administrator Laurita Custodio, and argued that the RTC expanded the scope of the October 2002 order. As they challenged the March 2003 order through various pleadings, they had not turned over the money to the cashier’s custody.
The SC agreed this constituted contempt, saying the trustees should have complied because “all orders of the trial court are immediately executory” when it comes to intra-corporate controversies.
“Questioning the trial court orders does not stay its enforcement or implementation. There is no showing that the trial court orders were restrained by the appellate court,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
“Petitioners’ stubborn refusal cannot be excused just because they were convinced of its invalidity. Their resort to the processes of questioning the orders does not show that they are in good faith,” it added.