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Diaz, Lawrence S.

Double Sale
Art. 1544: If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the ownership
shall be transferred to the person who may have first taken possession thereof in good
faith, if it should be movable property.
Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person
acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property.
Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall pertain to the person, who in
good faith was first in the possession: and, in the abscene thereof, to the person
who presents the oldest title, provided thereof in good faith.
Rules On Double Sale Of Immovables
In double sale of an immovable, the rules of preference are as follows:
(a)

the first registrant in good faith;

(b)

should there be no entry, the first in possession in good faith; and

(c)

in the absence thereof, the buyer who presents the oldest title in good faith.

Article 1544 (2nd, and 3rd paragraphs) cover all kinds of immovable, including land, and
makes no distinction as to whether the immovable is registered or not. But insofar as
registered land is concerened, the rule shal be base on Sec.113 of P.D. 1529 Property
Registration Decree which provides that no deed, mortgage, lease or other voluntary
instrument except will, purpoting to convey or affect registerd land shall take effect as a
conveyance or bind the land until its registration.
But it has been held by the Supreme Court that Art. 1544 is inapplicable to execution
sales of unregistered land, since the purchaser merely steps into the shoes of the
debtor and acquires the latters interest as of the time the property is sold. (Carumba vs.
Court of Appeals, 31 SCRA 558; see also Fabian vs. Smith, Bell & Co., 8 Phil. 496),
(Remalante vs. Tibe, 158 SCRA 138; Sps. Noel & Julie Abrigo vs. De Vera, G. R. No.
154409, June 21, 2004).
As applied in the case of Abrigo vs De Vera (G.R. No. 154409,June 21, 2004) citing the
case of Carumba vs. Court of Appeals: It was held therein that Article 1544 of the Civil
Code has no application to land not registered under Act No. 496. Like in the case at
bar, Carumba dealt with a double sale of the same unregistered land. The first sale was
made by the original owners and was unrecorded while the second was an execution
sale that resulted from a complaint for a sum of money filed against the said original

owners. Applying [Section 33], Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court, 27 this Court held
that Article 1544 of the Civil Code cannot be invoked to benefit the purchaser at the
execution sale though the latter was a buyer in good faith and even if this second sale
was registered. It was explained that this is because the purchaser of unregistered land
at a sheriffs execution sale only steps into the shoes of the judgment debtor, and
merely acquires the latters interest in the property sold as of the time the property was
levied upon.
"Applying this principle, x x x the execution sale of unregistered land in favor of
petitioner is of no effect because the land no longer belonged to the judgment
debtor as of the time of the said execution sale." 28
The Petitioners in the case cannot validly argue that they were fraudulently misled into
believing that the property was unregistered. A Torrens title, once registered, serves as
a notice to the whole world.29 All persons must take notice, and no one can plead
ignorance of the registration.
Finaly in the case Sps. Sabitsana vs. Muertegui (G.R. No. 181359,August 5, 2013) it
also states that Double Sale is not applied to registerd land but it further explain what
can be the other recourse of the vendee, thus the following excerpt:
Article 1544 of the Civil Code does not apply to sales involving unregistered
land.
Both the trial court and the CA are, however, wrong in applying Article 1544 of the
Civil Code. Both courts seem to have forgotten that the provision does not apply
to sales involving unregistered land. Suffice it to state that the issue of the
buyers good or bad faith is relevant only where the subject of the sale is
registered land, and the purchaser is buying the same from the registered owner
whose title to the land is clean. In such case, the purchaser who relies on the
clean title of the registered owner is protected if he is a purchaser in good faith
for value.31
Act No. 3344 applies to sale of unregistered lands.
What applies in this case is Act No. 3344, 32 as amended, which provides for the
system of recording of transactions over unregistered real estate. Act No. 3344
expressly declares that any registration made shall be without prejudice to a third
party with a better right. The question to be resolved therefore is: who between
petitioners and respondent has a better right to the disputed lot?

Respondent has a better right to the lot.


The sale to respondent Juanito was executed on September 2, 1981 via an
unnotarized deed of sale, while the sale to petitioners was made via a notarized
document only on October 17, 1991, or ten years thereafter. Thus, Juanito who
was the first buyer has a better right to the lot, while the subsequent sale to
petitioners is null and void, because when it was made, the seller Garcia was no
longer the owner of the lot. Nemo dat quod non habet.
In general when the subject of the controversy is an unregistered land, Article 1544 of
the New Civil Code is inapplicable, what applies is Act. No. 3344 which provides for the
system of recording of transactions over unregistered real estate.