Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1922 > September 1922 Decisions > G.R. No. 18341 September 18, 1922 - GENEROSA AVILES, ET AL. v. SEGUNDA ARCEGA, ET AL.

044 Phil 924:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 18341. September 18, 1922. ]

GENEROSA AVILES and her husband RUFINO VILLAFUERTE, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. SEGUNDA ARCEGA and FORTUNATO DE LEON, Defendants-Appellees.

The appellants in their own behalf.

The appellees in their own behalf.

SYLLABUS


1. SALE TO TWO PURCHASERS; SYMBOLIC DELIVERY; TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP. — Where an estate is sold to two different persons in public documents and none of the sales is recorded in the registry, the execution of the document does not have the effect of a symbolic delivery of the estate sold to the purchaser, if in the said document it is stipulated that the vendor was to continue in possession of the property during a specified period of time. In such a case, even after the lapse of the period stipulated, the purchaser whose document contains such stipulation does not acquire any title to the estate, unless he should have taken possession of the property after the lapse of said period. This being so, the second purchaser, to whom the same property was sold after said period and who also failed to register his document, acquires title to the thing sold, either by taking physical possession thereof, or by virtue of the symbolic delivery which ordinarily takes place upon the execution of the public document. (Art. 1473, Civil Code.)

2. PRAYER OF THE ANSWER; WHEN DEFECTS ARE CURED. — Although in the prayer of defendant’s answer it is not prayed that he declared owner of the property that the plaintiff seeks to recover, yet if both parties state in a stipulation of facts filed in court that they submit the case to that court in order that it determine who the owner is of the thing sold, then the defect of the answer stands cured and the court may render judgment declaring the defendant owner of in dispute.


D E C I S I O N


ROMUALDEZ, J. :


The plaintiffs bring this action to recover title to a house of mixed materials erected on a leasehold land of the Nagtahan estate, more particularly described in the complaint. While the plaintiffs claim the ownership of said house, the defendants assert title in themselves.

At the trial of the case, the parties entered into the following stipulation of facts:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. That the house in dispute in this case was on October 10, 1917, sold by the spouses Venancio Alcantara and Vicenta Capulong to the plaintiff Generosa Aviles, as evidenced by the document marked with a letter A, and acknowledge on the 8th of November of the same year, 1971, before the notary public Jose Galang Serano, for the sum of P497, it having been stipulated that during four months from the 10th of October, 1917, the vendors would continue in possession of the house the expenses for repair, land and other tax to be for their account, as well as the payment of the rent for the lot on which it is erected.

"2. That in a document dated March 13, 1918, and acknowledged on the following day before Ariston Rivera, notary public, the same property was sold by the same spouses Venancio Alcantara and Vicenta Capulong for P500 to the spouses Fortunato de Leon and Segunda Arcega, who took possession of the property, as stated in the thirds paragraph of the complaint, the plaintiff Generosa Aviles never having taken possession thereof.

"Under the foregoing facts the case is submitted to the consideration of the court for the determination of the question of law as to which of the two purchasers acquired title to the property."cralaw virtua1aw library

In view of these stipulated facts the trial court rendered judgment declaring the defendants to be the owners of the house and absolving them from the complaint with costs. From this judgment the plaintiffs appeal, alleging that the trial court erred (a) in not rendering judgment in their favor; (b) in not giving preference to the sale made to them of the house in question; (c) in not declaring them owners of said house; (d) in not sentencing the defendants to deliver the same to plaintiffs; (e) in not sentencing the defendants to pay damages; (f) in declaring the latter owner of the house when they did not make a prayer to the effect; (g) in drawing from the facts stipulated a conclusion inconsistent therewith; and (h) in not granting a new trial.

These assignments of error raise but two questions: First, in which of the two sales was the title to the house in dispute transferred? And second, whether or not it was an error to declare the defendants owners of said house, the latter not having expressly prayed in their answer for such declaration. The other errors assigned are but a consequence of these two points.

As to the first question we have, by virtue of the stipulation and the documents presented, the following facts, which must be considered proven:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The house in question belong originally to the spouses Vinancio Alcantara and Vicenta Capulong. On the 10th of October, 1917, these spouse sold this house in a public document to Generosa Aviles, the herein plaintiff, it having been stipulated, the document executed for the purpose, that "during four months from the 10th of October, 1917, the vendors would continue in possession of the house" (to use the language of the stipulation of facts). We italicize the words would continue, which show that the vendors were in possession of the house before, and at the time of its conveyance, and continued thereafter in said possession. It is further, to be noted that he plaintiff never had possession of the house, as stated at the end of the second paragraph of the stipulation of facts, which says "the plaintiff Generosa Aviles never having taken possession of the house either att he execution of the deed of sale, or at any other time. It thus being admitted by the appellants that the purchaser Generosa Aviles, one of the plaintiff, never had possession of this house, it cannot be presumed that she took possession thereof at the expiration of the four months following the sale, as stipulated by the parties. Such positive fact having been expressly admitted, there can be no presumption to the contrary.

On the 13th of March, 1918, the same spouses Venancio Alcantara and Vicenta Capulong (who are presumed to have been in possession of the house until then, inasmuch as it is positively known that they were uninterruptedly prior to the first sale, during the time the sale was in fore an until at least four months thereafter, and it is a fact that the purchaser Aviles never had possession of the house), in a public document sold the same house to the spouses Fortunato de Leon and Segunda Arcega, the herein defendants, who then and there took possession of said house.

None of two sales appears to have been registered; therefore the question at issue is, which of these purchaser was the first to take possession (art. 1473, Civil Code).

We have already seen that the first purchaser, the plaintiff, never took possession of the house, while the second purchasers, the defendant spouses, did. Under the Civil code, the conclusion is inevitable that eh title to the house was transmitted no to the plaintiff but to the defendants.

We are of the opinion that the plaintiff cannot invoke symbolic delivery by the execution of the public document of sale, inasmuch as there was not, nor could there have been, such delivery, the same being prevented by the express stipulation contained in the deed of sale, to the effect that he vendors did not part with the possession of the house but would continue therein for four months. Article 1462 of the Civil Code says:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"If the sale should be made by means of a public instrument, the execution thereof shall be equivalent to the delivery of the thing which is the subject-matter of the contrary unless the contrary appears or may by clearly inferred from such instrument."cralaw virtua1aw library

At the time, therefore, of the execution of the deed in the favor of the plaintiff, the first purchaser, there was no symbolic delivery because there was an express stipulation to the contrary. It cannot be said that after the lapse of the four months following, during which the vendors were to continue in possession of the house, according to the stipulation, any symbolic delivery subsisted. Nothing can subsist that did not exist before.

It cannot be said that symbolic delivery spontaneously took after the lapse of the four months stipulated, for there is no law providing that it should take place after the execution of the document where there is a stipulation to the contrary.

The law does not say that such a symbolic delivery is suspended when att he execution of the document a stipulation to the contrary is made. What the law simply says is that no such symbolic tradition can take place, — can exist — when there is a stipulation to the contrary.

As we understand the law, there is symbolic delivery when the sale is made in a public document, and nothing appears therein to the contrary either expressly or impliedly; and no such symbolic delivery can be held to take place when, as in the instant case, there is in the document a stipulation to the contrary.

"We do not hesitate to term symbolic delivery of the thing as is supposed to be made by the execution of the document as provided in the article 1462, although in that case it must be considered to take place partly by operation of law. This kind of tradition finds its precedent in law 8. title and Partida aforecited, which provided that ’when one grants another any property or thing, the latter acquires possession thereof, if the grantor delivers to him the letters whereby the same is made, or makes a new one and hands it to him, although he is not given physical possession of the thing.’

"It must be noted that this manner of delivering the thing through the execution of the public document is common to personal as well as real property, for the Code does not distinguish, and besides, taking this rule in connection with the following article, 1463, a conclusion to this effect seems to be clearly justifiable.

"This kind of tradition, however, is as to its efficaciousness, subject to the terms of the document, for if it appears therein, or can be inferred therefrom, that it was not the intention of the parties to make delivery, no tradition can be deemed to have taken place. Such would be the case, for instance, where a certain date is fixed when the purchaser should take possession of the thing, or where in the case of last installment is made, the title to the property should not be deemed to have been transmitted, or where the vendor reserves the right to use and enjoy the property until the gathering of the pending crops." (10 Manresa, Codigo Civil, p. 129)

The instant case is one of those above mentioned by the eminent commentator, Mr. Manresa. To use the phraseology of the above quoted passage, a certain date was fixed (namely, at the end of four months, because id certum est quod certum reddi potest), when the purchaser should take possession of the thing.

Neither can it be said that the house must be presumed to have been delivered to the first purchaser after the lapse of the four month aforesaid, for such a presumption is overthrown by the fact stipulated by the parties that this first purchaser never took possession of the house.

We entertain no doubt, either under the facts or under the law of the case, as to the right of the defendants to the house in question, with absolute exclusion of the plaintiffs.

Turning to the second point which is of a procedural nature, we hold that the trial court did not commit any error in declaring the defendants owners of the house in question. It is true that the answer does not expressly pray for such an affirmative relief. But both parties expressly and solemnly stipulated that they submitted the case to the trial court for the determination of the question as to which of the two purchasers acquired title to the house, when in the stipulation of facts, they said the following to the court:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Under the foregoing facts, the case is submitted to the consideration of the court for the determination of the question of law as to which of the two purchasers acquired title to the property."cralaw virtua1aw library

This statement made to the court below by both parties is tantamount to an amendment of the prayer of the answer, and to a waiver by the party plaintiff of the right to question such a defect, it is at all, of the prayer of the answer.

The question having thus been raised, and both parties having requested the lower court to determine which of the two litigating parties acquired the house in question, the lower court did but fulfill its duty in determining the question presented and declaring upon the facts and the law of the case, that the defendants, and not the plaintiffs, are the owners of the house in dispute,

As above stated, the other assignments of the error are but a corollary of the two points already decided.

The judgment appealed from is affirmed, with the costs against the appellants. So ordered.

Johnson, Street, Ostrand, and Johns, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions


ARAULLO, C.J., MALCOLM, AVANCENA, and VILLAMOR,JJ., dissenting:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Under the facts stated in the majority opinion, this case presents a double sale of a house of mixed materials. The first was made to the plaintiffs on October 10, 1917, with a stipulation that during the four months following said date the vendors should continue in possession of the house for the reasons therein stated. The second was made on March 13, 1918, to the defendants who took possession of the property, which is one month after the expiration of the term stipulated in the first one. Both sales appear in a public document. None of the documents was registry of property.

To which of the two purchasers was the title to the property in questions transferred to the person who may have first taken possession thereof in good faith, if it should be personal property.

"Should it be real property, it shall belong to the purchaser who first recorded it in the registry of deeds.

"Should it not be recorded, the property shall belong to the person who first possession of it in good faith, or, in default of possession, to the person who presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith."cralaw virtua1aw library

Applying this provision to the instant case, there is no doubt that the ownership was transferred to the purchaser who first to gain possession? The defendants, according to the opinion of the majority. But with all the respect due to the authoritative opinion of the majority, the undersigned think that it was the plaintiffs.

Article 1462 of the Civil Code provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The thing sold shall be deemed delivered when the vendee is placed in the control and possession thereof.

"If the sales should be made by means of the public instrument, the execution thereof shall be equivalent to the delivery of the thing which is the subject-matter of the contract unless the contrary appears or may be clearly inferred from such instruments."cralaw virtua1aw library

The majority opinion says: "At the time, therefore, of the execution of the deed in favor of the plaintiff the first purchaser, there was no symbolic delivery because there was an express stipulation to the contrary. It cannot be said that after the lapse of the four months following, during which the vendors were to continue in possession of the house, according to the stipulation, any symbolic delivery subsisted. Nothing can subsist that did not exist before."cralaw virtua1aw library

This reasoning , in our opinion, is applicable only where the stipulation inserted in the public documents involves a resolutory condition. But to our mind the stipulation under consideration constitutes a suspensive condition. The essential difference in law between these two kinds of condition is that fulfillment of the suspensive condition makes the obligation effective, whereas that of the resolutory resolves the obligation — makes it entirely ineffective.

The symbolic tradition, which is effected by the execution of the public document, was suspended for four months by virtue of the stipulation. It cannot be said that it did not exist because suspension presupposes the existence of that which is suspended. The four months elapsed, the condition was fulfilled. It seems clear to us that the symbolic tradition, which was temporarily suspended, recovered its efficaciousness, as a necessary consequence of the execution of the public document. To hold other wise is to give the stipulation a meaning contrary to the evident intention of the contracting parties.

The doctrine we maintain finds support in the very opinion of the authoritative commentator of the Civil Code, Mr. Manresa.

"This kind of tradition, however, is as to its efficaciousness, subject to the terms of the document, for if it appears therein or can be inferred therefrom that it was not the intention of the parties to make delivery, no tradition can be deemed to have take place. Such would be the case, for instance, where a certain date is fixed when the purchaser should take possession of the thing, or where in the case of sale by installments, it is made, the title to the property should not be deemed to have been transmitted, or where the vendor reserves the right to use and enjoy the property until the gathering of the pending crops." (10 Manresa, Codigo Civil, p. 129)

Manresa does not say that, at the expiration of the term fixed, or upon the payment of the last installment, in the examples given by him, the public document ceases to produce legal effect — the symbolic tradition. Neither can it be said in the case at bar that the lapse of the term stipulated renders the document ineffective in so far as the effecting of tradition by its execution is concerned, be cause this would amount to annulling an obligation by the fulfillment of a suspensive condition.

For the foregoing the undersigned dissent from the opinion of the majority.




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