You just won a small claims judgment. What’s next?

You just won a small claims judgment. What’s next?

NOTE: This is the third in my series of articles about my experience in winning a small claims case.

Back in December 2018 or over five years ago, I won a small claims case against a former fellow public school teacher I have been referring to as Josie. This is related to unpaid debts and a proposed business venture that did not materialize. I filed it before branch 43 of the Metropolitan Trial Court in Quezon City, under then-Presiding Judge Don Ace Mariano V. Alagar.

In an ideal world, Josie should have wholeheartedly paid back what she owed me following the court’s judgment. However, that’s not the case. She apparently had no plans to comply with the court’s order for her to pay back what she owed me plus interest. Hence, I reached out to the court about the next steps and I was advised to file a Motion for Execution of Judgment which the judge swiftly granted.

Soon, I approached the court’s sheriff to discuss the garnishment of Josie’s bank accounts. According to Rule 39, section 9.c of the Rules of Court, garnishment can be levied against the “bank deposits, financial interests, royalties, commissions and other personal property” of the judgment obligor. “The garnishment shall cover only such amount as will satisfy the judgment and all lawful fees,” the Rules of Court likewise reiterates.

All along, I thought that this was a speedy process, but I was wrong. Despite having a court-issued garnishment order to be imposed on Josie’s bank accounts, the response has been very slow throughout 2019. Is it a case of the banks ignoring garnishment orders, or is Josie not using her real name when opening bank accounts? Or maybe, she was paid in cash and not through direct bank deposit by her last employer?

I will probably never know the answer to these questions. For over four years, I heard nothing. And admittedly, I detached myself from the process out of disillusionment and because of other life priorities. Would I really want to continue revisiting the lowest point of my life while I was navigating with the COVID-19 pandemic?

But, as fate would have it, I would still be able to achieve a semblance of justice after five long years. The defendant reached out to the court this February 2024 to ask for the lifting of the garnishment order against her, saying that she cannot open a new account in Landbank which is required by her new employer. The Court, in turn, advised her to reach out to me as the plaintiff because the garnishment order against her bank accounts cannot be lifted without my knowledge consent.

Sensing that maybe, I can force Josie to finally negotiate a settlement, I sent her a letter detailing that she has to agree to pay a downpayment and a fixed monthly payment for the next four years or until she has fully paid the money that she owes me. I felt that she had no choice but to accept given her situation. And so after five years, the long road toward my quest for justice in this case is finally turning.

I hope that the Philippines’ small claims case system will provide better mechanisms to force hard-headed plaintiffs to pay their legal obligation. For aggrieved individuals like me, waiting for as long as five years for the defendant to make her first move toward settling her accountability is simply not acceptable. There should be other options, obviously.

About Author



Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here:

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