Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari
under Rule 45, assailing the decision of the Sixteenth Division of the respondent Court of Appeals promulgated on 21 December 1994 1 , which affirmed in toto the decision handed down by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City. 2chanrob1es virtual law library
The case arose when on 11 August 1981, private respondent Aurora Queaño (Queaño) filed a complaint before the Pasay City RTC for cancellation of a Real Estate Mortgage she had entered into with petitioner Celestina Naguiat (Naguiat). The RTC rendered a decision, declaring the questioned Real Estate Mortgage void, which Naguiat appealed to the Court of Appeals. After the Court of Appeals upheld the RTC decision, Naguiat instituted the present petition.
The operative facts follow:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Queaño applied with Naguiat for a loan in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00), which Naguiat granted. On 11 August 1980, Naguiat indorsed to Queaño Associated Bank Check No. 090990 (dated 11 August 1980) for the amount of Ninety Five Thousand Pesos (P95,000.00), which was earlier issued to Naguiat by the Corporate Resource Financing Corporation. She also issued her own Filmanbank Check No. 065314, to the order of Queaño, also dated 11 August 1980 and for the amount of Ninety Five Thousand Pesos (P95,000.00). The proceeds of these checks were to constitute the loan granted by Naguiat to Queaño. 3
To secure the loan, Queaño executed a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage dated 11 August 1980 in favor of Naguiat, and surrendered to the latter the owner’s duplicates of the titles covering the mortgaged properties. 4 On the same day, the mortgage deed was notarized, and Queaño issued to Naguiat a promissory note for the amount of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00), with interest at 12% per annum, payable on 11 September 1980. 5 Queaño also issued a Security Bank and Trust Company check, postdated 11 September 1980, for the amount of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00) and payable to the order of Naguiat.
Upon presentment on its maturity date, the Security Bank check was dishonored for insufficiency of funds. On the following day, 12 September 1980, Queaño requested Security Bank to stop payment of her postdated check, but the bank rejected the request pursuant to its policy not to honor such requests if the check is drawn against insufficient funds. 6
On 16 October 1980, Queaño received a letter from Naguiat’s lawyer, demanding settlement of the loan. Shortly thereafter, Queaño and one Ruby Ruebenfeldt (Ruebenfeldt) met with Naguiat. At the meeting, Queaño told Naguiat that she did not receive the proceeds of the loan, adding that the checks were retained by Ruebenfeldt, who purportedly was Naguiat’s agent. 7
Naguiat applied for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgage with the Sheriff of Rizal Province, who then scheduled the foreclosure sale on 14 August 1981. Three days before the scheduled sale, Queaño filed the case before the Pasay City RTC, 8 seeking the annulment of the mortgage deed. The trial court eventually stopped the auction sale. 9
On 8 March 1991, the RTC rendered judgment, declaring the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage null and void, and ordering Naguiat to return to Queaño the owner’s duplicates of her titles to the mortgaged lots. 10 Naguiat appealed the decision before the Court of Appeals, making no less than eleven assignments of error. The Court of Appeals promulgated the decision now assailed before us that affirmed in toto the RTC decision. Hence, the present petition.
Naguiat questions the findings of facts made by the Court of Appeals, especially on the issue of whether Queaño had actually received the loan proceeds which were supposed to be covered by the two checks Naguiat had issued or indorsed. Naguiat claims that being a notarial instrument or public document, the mortgage deed enjoys the presumption that the recitals therein are true. Naguiat also questions the admissibility of various representations and pronouncements of Ruebenfeldt, invoking the rule on the non-binding effect of the admissions of third persons. 11chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The resolution of the issues presented before this Court by Naguiat involves the determination of facts, a function which this Court does not exercise in an appeal by certiorari
. Under Rule 45 which governs appeal by certiorari
, only questions of law may be raised 12 as the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. 13 The resolution of factual issues is the function of lower courts, whose findings on these matters are received with respect and are in fact generally binding on the Supreme Court. 14 A question of law which the Court may pass upon must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants. 15 There is a question of law in a given case when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain state of facts; there is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or the falsehood of alleged facts. 16
Surely, there are established exceptions to the rule on the conclusiveness of the findings of facts of the lower courts. 17 But Naguiat’s case doe not fall under any of the exceptions. In any event, both the decisions of the appellate and trial courts are supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws.
Against the common finding of the courts below, Naguiat vigorously insists that Queaño received the loan proceeds. Capitalizing on the status of the mortgage deed as a public document, she cites the rule that a public document enjoys the presumption of validity and truthfulness of its contents. The Court of Appeals, however, is correct in ruling that the presumption of truthfulness of the recitals in a public document was defeated by the clear and convincing evidence in this case that pointed to the absence of consideration. 18 This Court has held that the presumption of truthfulness engendered by notarized documents is rebuttable, yielding as it does to clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, as in this case. 19
On the other hand, absolutely no evidence was submitted by Naguiat that the checks she issued or endorsed were actually encashed or deposited. The mere issuance of the checks did not result in the perfection of the contract of loan. For the Civil Code provides that the delivery of bills of exchange and mercantile documents such as checks shall produce the effect of payment only when they have been cashed. 20 It is only after the checks have produced the effect of payment that the contract of loan may be deemed perfected. Art. 1934 of the Civil Code provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"An accepted promise to deliver something by way of commodatum or simple loan is binding upon the parties, but the commodatum or simple loan itself shall not be perfected until the delivery of the object of the contract."cralaw virtua1aw library
A loan contract is a real contract, not consensual, and, as such, is perfected only upon the delivery of the object of the contract. 21 In this case, the objects of the contract are the loan proceeds which Queaño would enjoy only upon the encashment of the checks signed or indorsed by Naguiat. If indeed the checks were encashed or deposited, Naguiat would have certainly presented the corresponding documentary evidence, such as the returned checks and the pertinent bank records. Since Naguiat presented no such proof, it follows that the checks were not encashed or credited to Queaño’s account.
Naguiat questions the admissibility of the various written representations made by Ruebenfeldt on the ground that they could not bind her following the res inter alia acta alteri nocere non debet rule. The Court of Appeals rejected the argument, holding that since Ruebenfeldt was an authorized representative or agent of Naguiat the situation falls under a recognized exception to the rule. 22 Still, Naguiat insists that Ruebenfeldt was not her agent.
Suffice to say, however, the existence of an agency relationship between Naguiat and Ruebenfeldt is supported by ample evidence. As correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, Ruebenfeldt was not a stranger or an unauthorized person. Naguiat instructed Ruebenfeldt to withhold from Queaño the checks she issued or indorsed to Queaño, pending delivery by the latter of additional collateral. Ruebenfeldt served as agent of Naguiat on the loan application of Queaño’s friend, Marilou Farralese, and it was in connection with that transaction that Queaño came to know Naguiat. 23 It was also Ruebenfeldt who accompanied Queaño in her meeting with Naguiat and on that occasion, on her own and without Queaño asking for it, Ruebenfeldt actually drew a check for the sum of P220,000.00 payable to Naguiat, to cover for Queaño’s alleged liability to Naguiat under the loan agreement. 24chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The Court of Appeals recognized the existence of an "agency by estoppel 25 citing Article 1873 of the Civil Code. 26 Apparently, it considered that at the very least, as a consequence of the interaction between Naguiat and Ruebenfeldt, Queaño got the impression that Ruebenfeldt was the agent of Naguiat, but Naguiat did nothing to correct Queaño’s impression. In that situation, the rule is clear. One who clothes another with apparent authority as his agent, and holds him out to the public as such, cannot be permitted to deny the authority of such person to act as his agent, to the prejudice of innocent third parties dealing with such person in good faith, and in the honest belief that he is what he appears to be. 27 The Court of Appeals is correct in invoking the said rule on agency by estoppel.
More fundamentally, whatever was the true relationship between Naguiat and Ruebenfeldt is irrelevant in the face of the fact that the checks issued or indorsed to Queaño were never encashed or deposited to her account of Naguiat.
All told, we find no compelling reason to disturb the finding of the courts a quo that the lender did not remit and the borrower did not receive the proceeds of the loan. That being the case, it follows that the mortgage which is supposed to secure the loan is null and void. The consideration of the mortgage contract is the same as that of the principal contract from which it receives life, and without which it cannot exist as an independent contract. 28 A mortgage contract being a mere accessory contract, its validity would depend on the validity of the loan secured by it. 29
WHEREFORE, the petition is denied and the assailed decision is affirmed. Costs against petitioner.
Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez and Callejo, Sr., JJ.
1. Justice Corona Ibay-Somera wrote the ponencia, with Justices Asaali S. Isnani and Celia Lipana-Reyes, concurring.
2. Promulgated on 8 March 1991 by Judge Manuel P. Dumatol.
3. According to Naguiat, she further delivered to Queaño the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00), thus rounding off the amount she allegedly gave to Queaño to Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (See Petition for Certiorari, p. 3). Queaño, however, claims that the amount of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) was deducted as the stipulated 5% interest. Records, p. 342.
4. Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 28631 and 28632, issued by the Register of Deeds for District IV (Pasay City) of Metro Manila, with a total area of Six Hundred Thirty One (631) Square Meters. Rollo, p. 97.
5. Rollo, p. 98. According to Queaño, the true agreement between the parties was an interest rate of 5% per month.
6. Id., p. 99. Queaño alleged that she made the "stop payment" request because she was withdrawing her loan application as she failed to receive the loan proceeds which were supposed to be covered by Naguiat’s checks that were turned not to her but to Ruby Ruebenfeldt, who purportedly was an agent of Naguiat. Queaño claimed further that Naguiat demanded additional collaterals and instructed Ruebenfeldt to surrender the checks to Queaño only upon receipt of the additional security.
7. Id., p. 99. Queaño claimed further that Naguiat demanded additional collaterals and instructed Ruebenfeldt to surrender the checks to Queaño only upon receipt of the additional security.
8. Docketed as Civil Case No. 9330-P.
9. Rollo, p. 5.
10. Id., p. 37.
11. Sec. 28, Rule 130. See Rule 130, Sec. 28. "Section 28. Admission by third party. — The rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another, except as hereinafter provided."cralaw virtua1aw library
12. Sec. 1, Rule 45 states: "A party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other courts whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth." See also Metro Transit Organization Inc. v. CA, G.R. No. 142133, 19 November 2002.
13. W-Red Construction v. CA, G.R. No. 122648, 17 August 2000.
14. Engreso v. De La Cruz, G.R. No. 148727, 9 April 2003.
15. Western Shipyard Services, Inc. v. CA, G.R. No. 110340, 28 May 2001.
16. Bagunu v. Piedad, G.R. No. 140975, 8 December 2000.
17. Exceptional circumstances that would compel the Supreme Court to review the findings of fact of the lower courts are: (1) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly absurd, mistaken or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts; (4) when the judgment is premised on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when the Court of Appeals in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (7) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion; and (8) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court, or are mere conclusions without citation of specific evidence, or where the facts set forth by the petitioner are not disputed by the respondent, or where the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on absence of evidence but are contradicted by the evidence of record. See Sacay v. Sandiganbayan, 226 Phil. 496, 510 (1986).
18. Rollo, p. 43.
19. See Gerales v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 85909, 218 SCRA 638, 648, 9 February 1993, and Agdeppa v. Ibe, G.R. No. 96770, 220 SCRA 584, 594, 30 March 1993.
20. Art. 1249, New Civil Code.." . . The delivery of promissory notes payable to order, or bills of exchange or other mercantile documents shall produce the effect of payment only when they have been cashed, or when through the fault of the creditor they have been impaired."cralaw virtua1aw library
21. BPI Investment Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 133632, 377 SCRA 117, 124, 15 February 2002. The Court therein clarified the previous ruling in Bonnevie v. Court of Appeals, 210 Phil. 104, 108 (1983) which apparently suggested that a contract of loan was a consensual contract, by noting that the contract in Bonnevie fell under the first clause of Art. 1934 of the Civil Code, it being an accepted promise to deliver something by way of simple loan.
22. See Sec. 29, Rule 130. "Section 29. Admission by co-partner or agent. — The act or declaration of a partner or agent of the party within the scope of his authority and during the existence of the partnership or agency, may be given in evidence against such party after the partnership or agency is shown by evidence other than such act or declaration. The same rule applies to the act or declaration of a joint owner, joint debtor or other person jointly interested with the party."cralaw virtua1aw library
23. Rollo, p. 49.
24. Security Bank & Trust Company Check No. 017399, drawn by Ruebenfeldt payable to Naguiat, and postdated to November 15, 1980. Naguiat accepted the check, allegedly because she wanted to be assured of repayment. However, when Naguiat deposited this new check on 15 November 1980, the same was dishonored for being drawn against a closed account. On account of the dishonor of Ruebenfeldt’s check, Naguiat filed a criminal complaint for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 with the City Prosecutor’s Office of Caloocan. However, the City Prosecutor dismissed the said action on the ground that Ruebenfeldt’s liability was civil and not criminal. See Rollo, p. 5 to 6.
25. Rollo, p. 50.
26. Art. 1873. "If a person specifically informs another or states by public advertisement that he has given a power of attorney to a third person, the latter thereby becomes a duly authorized agent, in the former case with respect to the person who received the special information, and in the latter case with regard to any person."cralaw virtua1aw library
27. Cuison v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 88531, 26 October 1993.
28. China Banking Corporation v. Lichauco, 46 Phil. 460 (1926).
29. Filipinas Marble Corp. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 226 Phil. 109, 119 (1986).