Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence

Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1907 > December 1907 Decisions > G.R. No. L-3738 December 3, 1907 - JOSE ACOSTA v. ANDRES DOMINGO

009 Phil 290:



[G.R. No. L-3738. December 3, 1907. ]

JOSE ACOSTA, ET AL., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. ANDRES DOMINGO, ET AL., Defendants-Appellees.

Irineo Javier, for Appellants.

Nemesio Bonoan, for Appellees.


1. WATER RIGHTS. — Where it is agreed that the right to take water for irrigation purposes is conditioned upon the sharing of the labor and expense of repairs by the users, a temporary breach of the condition will not be held to produce a perpetual forfeiture of the right, in the absence of conclusive proof that such was the intention of the parties to the agreement.



The plaintiffs brought this action in the Court of First Instance of the Province of Ilocos Norte, asking for a permanent injunction against the defendants, prohibiting them from cutting off water which irrigated the lands of the plaintiffs. Judgments was entered in the court below in favor of the defendants and the plaintiffs have appealed.

Litigation arose prior to 1874 between the grantors of the plaintiffs and the grantors of the defendants over the right to use the water here in question. A final judgment in one of those cases was entered on the 11th day of September, 1874. It was therein decided that the defendants in that case, who were the grantors of the plaintiffs in this case, had a right to irrigate their lands in Padong by means of the opening made, or which ought to be made, in the dam belonging to the then plaintiffs, who were the grantors of the present defendants, with the obligation on the part of the then defendants to assist in all the work which was necessary in order to confine the waters in the channel from the principal branch of the river to the dam in question. The appellees on page 33 of their brief, in speaking of this judgment, make the following

"It is true that according to the decision of September 11, 1874, Exhibit A of the defense, the appellants are entitled to water their land in Padong by means of an opening made in the ditch belonging to Bonoan and Valdes and their respective wives, toward the sitio of Rengat, such as they were doing in former years before their separation in 1902; but this right depends always upon a condition which consists in the plaintiff’s sharing in the work stated above, an obligation which the aforesaid judgment imposed on them. Therefore, it having been proven herein that since 1902 the plaintiffs and their tenants had voluntarily desisted and without any reason known to the defendants and their companions, had taken no part in the work of maintaining and conducting the water of the Rivers Burnay and Maliblibeg for the irrigation of the land in Padong, they have forthwith lost said right because they failed to comply with said condition or obligation."cralaw virtua1aw library

The plaintiffs allege, and as is seen the defendants admit, that this judgment determined the rights of the parties in respect to the use of the waters here in question. It gave the present plaintiffs the right to take the water, but imposed upon them the duty of assisting in the work necessary to bring the waters to the lands of both parties. It was said in the judgment of 1874 that the River Burnay had two branches, one which led to the lands of Agunit and the other to the lands in Padong, in which latter place are found the lands of both the plaintiffs and the defendants. The Rivers Burnay and Maliblibeg join at a place called Sinigpet, some 2,500 meters above the place where the plaintiffs took the water in Padong. After this union, the stream ran in places in two branches until it finally divided, as has been above stated, one branch leading toward Agunit and the other toward Padong. In order to prevent all of the water flowing toward Agunit it was necessary that the plaintiffs and defendants maintain dams and other defensive works upon that part of the river between Sinigpet and their property. The evidence in the case shows that these defensive works were swept away or damaged at every freshet or rise in the river, and that it was necessary to repair them many times during the year. One witness testified that an examination was made of the upper course of the river twice a week. This is the work which is referred to in the decision above quoted, and is the work in which the plaintiffs by that decision were compelled to take part. They did so until 1902.

It is clearly established by the evidence that in 1902 and 1903 the plaintiffs did nothing toward the maintenance of these works, but took the water which they used during those years from another place.

The claim of the defendants, and the holding of the court below, was to the effect that by failing to take part in the work for 1902 and 1903 the plaintiffs forfeited their right to enjoy the water in the future, even if they did participate, or offer to, in the repair work for subsequent years, and the only question in the case is, What effect upon the rights of the plaintiffs did their failure to take part in the work for the years 1902 and 1903 produce?

There is considerable evidence in the case relating to the custom of agreement among the parties as to the penalty imposed for a failure to be present when the work was done. Most of the witnesses testified that there was imposed upon the person who was absent a fine of 25 centimos for each day of his absence. One witness testified, and his evidence seems reasonable, that if one of the party of the defendants was absent, his companions of the same party imposed the fine upon him and so, if one of the party for the plaintiffs was absent, his companions among the plaintiffs imposed the fine upon him. If all of the party of the plaintiffs or all the defendants failed to be present, then the other party deprived them of the use of the water for the day of which they were absent. There is no evidence whatever in the case to indicate that a failure of one person to assist in the work for one day, or for any length of time, deprived him perpetually of the use of the water, nor is there any evidence to show that if all of the plaintiffs failed to assist at any particular time they thereby forfeited forever their aforesaid rights.

It is to be presumed that during the years 1902 and 1903, when the plaintiffs were absent, they were deprived of the water. That the plaintiffs in 1904 offered to assist in the repair work of that year, and asked to be allowed to take the water as before, and that the defendants refused to permit them the use of the water and constructed the dam mentioned in the complaint in such a way as to cut the water off from the plaintiffs, are facts established by the evidence.

In our opinion it can not be held that the failure of the plaintiffs in 1902 and 1903 to assist in the work of these years deprived them perpetually of the rights which they had enjoyed. When in 1904 they offered to take part in the necessary work of that year, it was the duty of the defendants to permit them to do so and to allow them the use of the water as they had used it since 1874.

It seems from the judgment of 1874 that the litigation in that case arose as it did in this, from the failure of one of the parties to take part in the necessary work of repair.

The plaintiffs made no allegation in the complaint as to the amount of damages which they have suffered by the acts of the defendants. At the trial, however, they introduced some evidence upon this point. That evidence is not sufficient to warrant any recovery in this respect.

The judgment of the court below is reversed, and judgment is entered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants, ordering that the defendants let the water flow, by removing the dam or such part thereof as obstructs the course of the same, with obligation of the part of the plaintiffs to assist in all the work which is necessary in order to confine the waters in the channel from the principal branch of the river to the dam in question, with the costs of the first instance. No costs will be allowed to either party in this court. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Carson, and Tracey, JJ., concur.

Back to Home | Back to Main

ChanRobles On-Line Bar Review

ChanRobles Internet Bar Review :

ChanRobles MCLE On-line

ChanRobles Lawnet Inc. - ChanRobles MCLE On-line :

December-1907 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. L-4338 December 2, 1907 - ALFRED B. JONES v. J. E. HARDING

    009 Phil 279

  • G.R. No. L-3738 December 3, 1907 - JOSE ACOSTA v. ANDRES DOMINGO

    009 Phil 290


    009 Phil 294

  • G.R. No. L-3935 December 4, 1907 - UY PIAOCO v. SERGIO OSMENA

    009 Phil 299

  • G.R. No. L-3378 December 5, 1907 - JOSE CASTAÑO v. CHARLES S. LOBINGIER

    009 Phil 310


    009 Phil 319

  • G.R. No. L-3826 December 7, 1907 - CARMEN AYALA DE ROXAS v. JUANA VALENCIA

    009 Phil 322

  • G.R. No. L-3847 December 7, 1907 - LEOPOLDO FERRER v. RAMON NERI ABEJUELA

    009 Phil 324

  • G.R. No. L-3704 December 12, 1907 - LA COMPAÑIA MARITIMA v. FRANCISCO MUÑOZ

    009 Phil 326

  • G.R. No. L-3895 December 14, 1907 - In the matter of A. K. JONES

    009 Phil 347

  • G.R. No. L-3899 December 16, 1907 - ALFREDO CHANCO v. ANACLETA MADRILEJOS

    009 Phil 356

  • G.R. No. L-3933 December 16, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. PAULINO SAN ANDRES

    009 Phil 362

  • G.R. No. L-3959 December 16, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. FLORENCIO PARAS

    009 Phil 367

  • G.R. No. L-3972 December 16, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. MATEO GUANZON

    009 Phil 371

  • G.R. No. L-3596 December 17, 1907 - LUCHSINGER & CO. v. CORNELIO MELLIZA

    009 Phil 376

  • G.R. No. L-3128 December 19, 1907 - UN PAK LEUNG v. JUAN NIGORRA

    009 Phil 381

  • G.R. No. L-3128 December 19, 1907 - UN PAK LEUNG v. JUAN NIGORRA

    009 Phil 381

  • G.R. No. L-3688 December 19, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. JOHN HAZLEY

    009 Phil 384

  • G.R. No. L-3891 December 19, 1907 - ELENA MORENTE v. GUMERSINDO DE LA SANTA

    009 Phil 387

  • G.R. No. L-3505 December 20, 1907 - ARCADIO MAXILOM v. GAUDENCIO TABOTABO

    009 Phil 390

  • G.R. No. L-3980 December 20, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. RUPERTO GOROSPE, ET AL.

    009 Phil 394

  • G.R. No. L-4061 December 20, 1907 - MANUEL TAGUINOT v. MUNICIPALITY OF TANAY

    009 Phil 396

  • G.R. No. L-3483 December 21, 1907 - BENITO MOJICA v. JUANA FERNANDEZ

    009 Phil 403

  • G.R. No. L-3788 December 21, 1907 - PEDRO P. ROXAS v. JULIA TUASON

    009 Phil 408

  • G.R. No. L-3936 December 21, 1907 - JOSE VILLEGAS v. NICOLAS CAPISTRANO

    009 Phil 416

  • G.R. No. L-3991 December 21, 1907 - SIMEON ROQUE v. RUFINO NAVARRO

    009 Phil 420

  • G.R. No. L-3992 December 21, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. MAGDALENO MENDEZ

    009 Phil 422

  • G.R. No. L-4086 December 21, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. MAXIMO BRELLO

    009 Phil 424

  • G.R. No. L-4201 December 21, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. ESPIRIDION ROTA

    009 Phil 426

  • G.R. No. L-3570 December 23, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. ELIGIO C. GARCIA

    009 Phil 434

  • G.R. No. L-3948 December 27, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. GABINO SORIANO

    009 Phil 441

  • G.R. No. L-3969 December 27, 1907 - UNITED STATES v. GABINO SORIANO SANTILLAN

    009 Phil 445


    009 Phil 450