Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1966 > January 1966 Decisions > G.R. No. L-19467 January 31, 1966 FAUSTINO SAN JUAN v. SPS JEAN SOCCHI, ET AL.:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-19467. January 31, 1966.]

FAUSTINO SAN JUAN, Petitioner, v. INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE SPOUSES JEAN SOCCHI and FRANCISCA PARELLADA, ETC., Respondents.

L. Sumulong and J.V. Balaoing for the petitioner.

J. Misa Silva for the respondents.


SYLLABUS


1. TAX DELINQUENCY; SALE AT PUBLIC AUCTION; REDEMPTION OF PROPERTY BY STRANGER. — Section 38 of Commonwealth Act No. 470 provides that "within the term of one year from the date of the sale, the delinquent taxpayer or any other person in his behalf shall have the right to repurchase the property sold . . ." It is clear, therefore, that redemption of property sold for tax delinquency may be effected either by the delinquent owner or by any other person in his behalf. It does not require that the person who redeems be either a party in interest or related to the delinquent taxpayer, the redemption being valid as long as the same is done in his behalf. The law does not even require that the money used in effecting the redemption be the money of the taxpayer. All what the law requires is that the redemption be made in his behalf.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; REDEMPTION BEFORE SALE AT PUBLIC AUCTION. — It is true that under Section 37 of Commonwealth Act No. 470, it should be the owner or his legal representative who alone may repurchase before the sale at public auction but after publication of the notice of delinquency. This is so because one year from the date of delinquency the right of the owner becomes vested in the provincial government, but after the sale at public auction the property sold may be redeemed either by the taxpayer or by any other person in his behalf.

3. ID.; ID.; RIGHT OF ALIEN OWNER TO REDEEM PROPERTY. — An alien who validly owns agricultural land in the Philippines, which land is sold at public auction for tax delinquency, may avail of the right to repurchase the same within one year pursuant to Section 38 of the Assessment Law. Such right is but an incident of the right of ownership and its exercise by the owner, who happens to be an alien, does not fall within the purview of the terms "shall be transferred or assigned" used in Section 5, Article XIII of the Constitution, or of the terms "encumbered, alienated or transferred" used in the implementing provision of Section 122, Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as Public Land Act. Moreover, the sale at public auction by reason of tax delinquency under the Assessment Law does not immediately divest the rights of the owner to the property sold. Indeed it is provided in Section 39 of said law that after the sale and before repurchase or before the expiration of the term of one year fixed for such repurchase, the real property shall remain in the possession of the delinquent taxpayer who shall have the right to the usufruct thereof. It is only after failure to redeem within that period and after the final bill of sale is issued to the purchaser by the Provincial Treasurer that the rights of the owner are definitely divested.


D E C I S I O N


BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:


This is a petition for review of a decision of the Court of Appeals which affirms that of the court a quo enjoining petitioner, his representatives and any other person claiming any right through him, from entering the land subject matter of the litigation and from committing any act which may disturb respondent’s possession or ownership thereof (Civil No. Case Q-2029, Quezon City).

The litigated property is a piece of agricultural land with an area of 16 hectares, 16 ares and 91 centares, situated in the Barrio of San Rafael, Municipality of Montalban, Province of Rizal, which became the subject of a homestead application by Gen. Licerio Geronimo. Since Gen. Geronimo died before his application could be finally processed, the homestead patent was issued in 1930 in the name of the heirs of the deceased general.

Sometime in 1940, petitioner and his wife Concepcion Geronimo, who is the daughter of Gen. Geronimo, purchased the rights and interests of Concepcion Geronimo’s co-heirs. As a result, the title issued in the name of the general’s heirs was cancelled and another one was issued in the name of petitioner and his wife.

On September 12, 1944, Petitioner, through an agent, sold to a certain Jean Socchi the land in question. There is no question that Jean Socchi, formerly a Swiss subject, was a naturalized Filipino citizen and that his wife Francisca Parellada was a Spanish subject. These spouses died in 1945 in the battle for liberation of the City of Manila. Their only child also perished with them. The spouses, however, left some heirs, among them Concepcion Parellada, sister of Francisca Parellada, who was then residing in Davao City, and certain brothers and sisters of Jean Socchi in Switzerland.

Because of the death of the spouses Socchi and the absence of their heirs, the land in question became delinquent in the payment of real estate taxes from the year 1945 through 1955. Consequently, the Provincial Treasurer of Rizal sold the land at public auction in order to satisfy the tax delinquency. Petitioner purchased the property in the said public auction. After the sale the provincial treasurer issued to petitioner the corresponding certificate of sale.

On March 13, 1956, Concepcion Parellada executed a special power of attorney, in favor of Mr. Frank P. Hill of Macleod & Company, Philippines, Port Area, Manila, authorizing Mr. Hill to redeem the land in question from the delinquency sale. On March 27, 1956, within the statutory one-year period for redemption allowed by Section 38 of Commonwealth Act No. 470, a certain Visitacion Chacon, ostensively on behalf of Mr. Hill, went to the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Rizal and paid the sum of P410.59 in cash for the repurchase of the land in question. Upon receipt of the repurchase price the provincial treasurer issued Official Receipts Nos. A-3812078 and C-9629484 to "F. P. Hill, for and on behalf of the heirs of Jean Socchi." The provincial treasurer then prepared a letter for Mr. Hill enclosing therein the aforesaid official receipts, "as acknowledgment receipt of the payment made personally by Miss Visitacion Chacon to this Office, for the repurchase of the property declared in the name of Jean Socchi under Tax Declaration No. 2202 located in Montalban, Rizal, which has been sold by this Office at public auction for tax delinquency on April 21, 1955." The original of this letter was not sent by mail but was instead taken and received by Visitacion N. Chacon on April 11, 1956. The provincial treasurer also issued the corresponding certificate of repurchase of real property which expressly provided that "this certificate is issued with the understanding that it does not acknowledge a better right to the property being redeemed by Mr. Frank P. Hill, for and in behalf of the heirs of Jean Socchi, than that had by its former owner, prior to the sale thereof."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the meantime, on March 22, 1956, Juliete Socchi, Erminia Perruchi-Socchi and her husband Louis Perruchi, Joseph Socchi, Jeanne Franchini-Socchi and her husband Jean-Baptiste Franchini, sister, brother and brother-in law of Jean Socchi, all of Switzerland, executed a power of attorney in favor of Frank P. Hill authorizing the latter "to do and perform all things that may be necessary in the matter of the landed estate acquired by their late brother and brother-in-law during the war at Montalban." On April 18, 1956, the same parties executed a power of attorney in favor of Mr. Fermin Lavin of Sasa, Davao City, husband of Concepcion Parellada, authorizing the latter, among other things, "to do and perform all things that may be necessary and to exercise general control and supervision over a parcel of land located in the Municipality of Montalban, Province of Rizal, Philippines, of which our (the said) deceased brother Jean Socchi was the owner at the time of his death on February 9, 1945 in the City of Manila, Philippines."cralaw virtua1aw library

On August 23, 1956, Concepcion Parellada de Lavin filed a petition in the Court of First Instance of Manila, Special Proceedings No. 30495, for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouses Jean Socchi and Francisca Parellada de Socchi. In the petition, which was filed by Atty. Vicente del Villar, it was prayed that the latter be appointed special administrator pending the appointment of a regular administrator. By order of August 24, 1956, the court set the petition for hearing on September 24, 1956. Copies of the order of August 24, 1956 intended for Atty. Del Villar and for all the heirs of the deceased spouses were received by the said Atty. Del Villar on September 4, 1956. Copy of the said order was also sent to the "VOZ DE MANILA" for publication. By the same order of August 24, 1956 Atty. Del Villar was appointed special administrator of the estate of the deceased spouses.

Immediately after his appointment as special administrator Atty. Del Villar deposited with the Provincial Treasurer of Rizal the sum of P450.00 "in payment of Deposit for Payment of taxes now due and may be due on the Real property Tax No. 2202 in the name of Jean Socchi, located in Montalban, Rizal."cralaw virtua1aw library

After hearing the petition the Court of First Instance of Manila on December 26, 1956, appointed Atty. Del Villar regular administrator of the estate of the deceased Socchi spouses. After Atty. Del Villar qualified as such regular administrator, letters of administration were issued to him on January 21, 1957.

In the meantime, the Provincial Treasurer of Rizal on March 27, 1956, notified petitioner that the property in question had been repurchased by Mr. Hill for and in behalf of the heirs of the deceased Jean Socchi. On April 24, 1956, petitioner protested against the repurchase. His protest having been overruled, Petitioner, on August 7, 1956, commenced in the Court of First Instance of Rizal Civil Case No. Q-2029 against Concepcion Parellada Lavin, Frank P. Hill and the Provincial Treasurer of Rizal praying for the cancellation of the repurchase effected by Mr. Hill for being null and void.

On August 25, 1956, Atty. Del Villar in turn, in his capacity as administrator of the deceased spouses Socchi and Parellada, filed a complaint, which initiated the present case, praying for an injunction to restrain petitioner from continuing in the possession of the land in question and from making any excavation or exploration therein (Civil Case No. 2029, Quezon City). On that same day, Atty. Del Villar was also able to secure ex parte an order for the issuance of preliminary injunction which continued in force until it was ordered lifted when petitioner filed a counterbond.

After issues were joined, trial was held after which the court a quo rendered judgment the dispositive part of which was already stated in the early part of this decision. Petitioner brought the case to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed in toto the decision of the court a quo. Hence petitioner interposed the present petition for review.

In this petition, petitioner raises two issues for our determination, to wit: (1) Whether Visitacion Chacon who has no interest in the property in question or no relation to the delinquent taxpayer may repurchase said land sold at a tax delinquency sale under the provision of Section 38 of Commonwealth Act 470, otherwise known as the Assessment Law, such that it would inure to the benefit of the heirs of the delinquent taxpayer; and (2) Assuming that such repurchase may be made under such provision of the law, it being admitted that the heirs of the delinquent taxpayer are aliens who already succeeded to the property in question upon the death of the taxpayer, whether said alien heirs who lost their rights thereto when they failed to pay the taxes thereon and allowed the same to be sold in a tax delinquency sale can acquire again the land by means of repurchase without violating Section 5, Article XIII, of the Constitution.

With regard to the first issue the following is the comment made by the Court of Appeals:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"It is unquestioned that on 27 March 1956 that is, within the one-year redemption period provided for by law, Frank P. Hill, as Attorney-in-fact of Concepcion Parellada, paid to the Provincial Treasurer of Rizal the amount necessary to redeem the property in question from the delinquency sale, and that the receipts for the amounts were issued to Mr. Hill for and in behalf of the heirs of Jean Socchi" (Exhibits C and D). However, Defendant-Appellant assails the validity of the repurchase made by Mr. Hill for and in behalf of the heirs of Jean Socchi on the ground that the redemption was not actually made by Mr. Hill but by a certain Visitacion Chacon, a stranger to the Socchis and the Parelladas and to the property in question, the said Visitacion Chacon having merely maneuvered the redemption of the property with Mr. Hill and Concepcion Parellada as her dummies with the ultimate purpose of looking for hidden treasures in the property in question in partnership with a certain American, once the redemption had been effected. In the light of the record, we believe that the court below was correct in holding that the redemption was in effect made by Mr. Hill, and in refusing to inquire into the authority or relationship of Mr. Hill or of his principal to Jean Socchi or his estate, for even a finding on this point favorable to defendant-appellant would not alter the result of the case."cralaw virtua1aw library

Petitioner now disputes the finding that the redemption made by a certain Visitacion Chacon for and in behalf of the heirs of Jean Socchi even if made in the name of Frank P. Hill was valid and effective on the ground that said redemption was not actually made by Mr. Hill, who was the one authorized by special power of attorney to act for and in behalf of said heirs, but by Visitacion Chacon who was a stranger to the Socchis and to the property in question, having merely maneuvered the redemption as their dummy with the ultimate purpose of locating the hidden treasure in said property in partnership with a certain American once the redemption had been effected. Petitioner predicates his contention on the fact that a stranger cannot effect a redemption in behalf of a delinquent taxpayer in the light of Section 38 of Commonwealth Act No. 470, known as the Assessment Law of the Philippines.

We do not find error in the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals for the same finds full support, contrary to petitioner’s claim, in Section 38 of Commonwealth Act No. 470, the pertinent part of which reads: "Within the term of one year from the date of the sale, the delinquent taxpayer or any other person in his behalf shall have the right to repurchase the property sold . . ." From this provision it is clear that redemption of property sold for tax delinquency may be effected either by a party in interest or related to the delinquent taxpayer, the redemption being valid as long as the same is done in his behalf. The law does not even require that the money used in effecting the redemption be the money of the taxpayer. All what the law requires is that the redemption be made in his behalf.

Nor can it be contended that the redemption made by Visitacion Chacon in the name of Mr. Hill is invalid for the reason that the latter was not authorized by the heirs of Jean Socchi to effect the redemption, for the record shows that the power of attorney executed by Concepcion Parellada in favor of Mr. Hill on March 13, 1956 is broad enough to cover such authority for the same mention certain heirs of Jean Socchi in Switzerland. It should be stated that Concepcion Parellada was also an heir of Francisca Parellada, wife of Jean Socchi, which in a way clothed her with authority to execute said power of attorney in behalf of her co-heirs. This authority is further bolstered up by the power of attorney executed by some heirs of Jean Socchi in favor of Fermin Lavin, husband of Concepcion Parellada, authorizing him to exercise general control and supervision over the land in question.

Petitioner likewise argues that it is not the intention of the legislature to allow strangers to exercise the right to repurchase in the light of Section 38 of Commonwealth Act 470 for the phrase "any other person in his behalf" used therein should be interpreted to mean a legal representative of the delinquent owner such as a person duly authorized by him, his heirs, the executor or administrator of his estate, or a person having interest in the property, and as a justification for this reasoning he makes a little digression on the construction of the previous statutes on the matter. Specifically, he makes mention of Act No. 3995, as amended by Acts Nos. 4061, 4222, and Sections 2393 to 2403 of the Administrative Code, which in turn was repealed by Commonwealth Act No. 470, which in his opinion gives an inkling that a stranger cannot redeem property from a delinquency sale. But, from an analysis of the pertinent provisions of Act No. 3995, we find that under said Act the real property sold for tax delinquency may be redeemed, after having been sold, either by the taxpayer or by any other person in his behalf, as prescribed in Section 38 of Commonwealth Act 470, although in Section 37 of the same Act it is provided that it should be the owner or his legal representative who alone may repurchase before the sale at public auction but after publication of the notice of delinquency. In other words, upon the declaration of delinquency by the provincial treasurer but before sale at public auction, only the owner or his legal representative may repurchase, because one year from the date of delinquency the right of the owner becomes vested in the provincial government whereas after the sale at public auction the property sold may be redeemed either by the taxpayer or by any other person in his behalf. As may be seen, this analysis belies the contention of petitioner.

With regard to the second issue, we fully subscribe to what the Court of Appeals said on this matter. We quote:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . The question, therefore, is whether or not an alien who validly owns agricultural land in the Philippines, which land is sold at public auction for tax delinquency, may avail of the right to repurchase the same within one year pursuant to Section 38 of the Assessment Law. Our answer to the question is in the affirmative, because such right is but an incident of the right of ownership and its exercise by the owner, who happens to be an alien, does not fall within the purview of the terms ‘shall be transferred or assigned’ used in Section 5, Article XIII of the Constitution, or of the terms ‘encumbered, alienated or transferred’ used in the implementing provision of Section 122, Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as Public Land Act.

"The sale at public auction by reason of tax delinquency under the Assessment Law does not immediately divest the rights of the owner to the property sold. Indeed it is provided in section 39 of said law that after the sale and before repurchase or before the expiration of the term of one year fixed for such repurchase the real property shall remain in the possession of the delinquent taxpayer who shall have the right to the usufruct thereof. It is only after failure to redeem within that period and after the final bill of the sale is issued to the purchaser by the Provincial Treasurer that the rights of the owner are definitely divested."cralaw virtua1aw library

Wherefore, petition is denied. No costs.

Bengzon, C.J., Concepcion, Reyes, J.BL., Dizon, Regala, Bengzon, J.P. and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.

Barrera, Makalintal and Sanchez, JJ., took no part.




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