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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 103577 October 7, 1996 ROMULO A.

CORONEL, ALARICO A. CORONEL, ANNETTE A. CORONEL, ANNABELLE C. GONZALES (for herself and on behalf of Florida C. Tupper, as attorney-in-fact), CIELITO A. CORONEL, FLORAIDA A. ALMONTE, and CATALINA BALAIS MABANAG, petitioners, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, CONCEPCION D. ALCARAZ, and RAMONA PATRICIA ALCARAZ, assisted by GLORIA F. NOEL as attorney-in-fact, respondents.

MELO, J.:p The petition before us has its roots in a complaint for specific performance to compel herein petitioners (except the last named, Catalina Balais Mabanag) to consummate the sale of a parcel of land with its improvements located along Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City entered into by the parties sometime in January 1985 for the price of P1,240,000.00. The undisputed facts of the case were summarized by respondent court in this wise: On January 19, 1985, defendants-appellants Romulo Coronel, et al. (hereinafter referred to as Coronels) executed a document entitled "Receipt of Down Payment" (Exh. "A") in favor of plaintiff Ramona Patricia Alcaraz (hereinafter referred to as Ramona) which is reproduced hereunder: RECEIPT OF DOWN PAYMENT P1,240,000.00 Total amount 50,000 Down payment P1,190,000.00 Balance

Received from Miss Ramona Patricia Alcaraz of 146 Timog, Quezon City, the sum of Fifty Thousand Pesos purchase price of our inherited house and lot, covered by TCT No. 119627 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City, in the total amount of P1,240,000.00. We bind ourselves to effect the transfer in our names from our deceased father, Constancio P. Coronel, the transfer certificate of title immediately upon receipt of the down payment above-stated. On our presentation of the TCT already in or name, We will immediately execute the deed of absolute sale of said property and Miss Ramona Patricia Alcaraz shall immediately pay the balance of the P1,190,000.00. Clearly, the conditions appurtenant to the sale are the following: 1. Ramona will make a down payment of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos upon execution of the document aforestated; 2. The Coronels will cause the transfer in their names of the title of the property registered in the name of their deceased father upon receipt of the Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos down payment; 3. Upon the transfer in their names of the subject property, the Coronels will execute the deed of absolute sale in favor of Ramona and the latter will pay the former the whole balance of One Million One Hundred Ninety Thousand (P1,190,000.00) Pesos. On the same date (January 15, 1985), plaintiff-appellee Concepcion D. Alcaraz (hereinafter referred to as Concepcion), mother of Ramona, paid the down payment of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos (Exh. "B", Exh. "2"). On February 6, 1985, the property originally registered in the name of the Coronels' father was transferred in their names under TCT No. 327043 (Exh. "D"; Exh. "4") On February 18, 1985, the Coronels sold the property covered by TCT No. 327043 to intervenor-appellant Catalina B. Mabanag (hereinafter referred to as Catalina) for One Million Five Hundred Eighty Thousand (P1,580,000.00) Pesos after the latter has paid

Three Hundred Thousand (P300,000.00) Pesos (Exhs. "F-3"; Exh. "6C") For this reason, Coronels canceled and rescinded the contract (Exh. "A") with Ramona by depositing the down payment paid by Concepcion in the bank in trust for Ramona Patricia Alcaraz. On February 22, 1985, Concepcion, et al., filed a complaint for specific performance against the Coronels and caused the annotation of a notice of lis pendens at the back of TCT No. 327403 (Exh. "E"; Exh. "5"). On April 2, 1985, Catalina caused the annotation of a notice of adverse claim covering the same property with the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City (Exh. "F"; Exh. "6"). On April 25, 1985, the Coronels executed a Deed of Absolute Sale over the subject property in favor of Catalina (Exh. "G"; Exh. "7"). On June 5, 1985, a new title over the subject property was issued in the name of Catalina under TCT No. 351582 (Exh. "H"; Exh. "8"). (Rollo, pp. 134-136) In the course of the proceedings before the trial court (Branch 83, RTC, Quezon City) the parties agreed to submit the case for decision solely on the basis of documentary exhibits. Thus, plaintiffs therein (now private respondents) proffered their documentary evidence accordingly marked as Exhibits "A" through "J", inclusive of their corresponding submarkings. Adopting these same exhibits as their own, then defendants (now petitioners) accordingly offered and marked them as Exhibits "1" through "10", likewise inclusive of their corresponding submarkings. Upon motion of the parties, the trial court gave them thirty (30) days within which to simultaneously submit their respective memoranda, and an additional 15 days within which to submit their corresponding comment or reply thereof, after which, the case would be deemed submitted for resolution. On April 14, 1988, the case was submitted for resolution before Judge Reynaldo Roura, who was then temporarily detailed to preside over Branch 82 of the RTC of Quezon City. On March 1, 1989,

judgment was handed down by Judge Roura from his regular bench at Macabebe, Pampanga for the Quezon City branch, disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, judgment for specific performance is hereby rendered ordering defendant to execute in favor of plaintiffs a deed of absolute sale covering that parcel of land embraced in and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 327403 (now TCT No. 331582) of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City, together with all the improvements existing thereon free from all liens and encumbrances, and once accomplished, to immediately deliver the said document of sale to plaintiffs and upon receipt thereof, the said document of sale to plaintiffs and upon receipt thereof, the plaintiffs are ordered to pay defendants the whole balance of the purchase price amounting to P1,190,000.00 in cash. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 331582 of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City in the name of intervenor is hereby canceled and declared to be without force and effect. Defendants and intervenor and all other persons claiming under them are hereby ordered to vacate the subject property and deliver possession thereof to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs' claim for damages and attorney's fees, as well as the counterclaims of defendants and intervenors are hereby dismissed. No pronouncement as to costs. So Ordered. Macabebe, Pampanga for Quezon City, March 1, 1989. (Rollo, p. 106) A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner before the new presiding judge of the Quezon City RTC but the same was denied by Judge Estrella T. Estrada, thusly: The prayer contained in the instant motion, i.e., to annul the decision and to render anew decision by the undersigned Presiding Judge should be denied for the following reasons: (1) The instant case became submitted for decision as of April 14, 1988 when the parties terminated the presentation of their respective documentary evidence and when the Presiding Judge at that time was Judge Reynaldo

Roura. The fact that they were allowed to file memoranda at some future date did not change the fact that the hearing of the case was terminated before Judge Roura and therefore the same should be submitted to him for decision; (2) When the defendants and intervenor did not object to the authority of Judge Reynaldo Roura to decide the case prior to the rendition of the decision, when they met for the first time before the undersigned Presiding Judge at the hearing of a pending incident in Civil Case No. Q-46145 on November 11, 1988, they were deemed to have acquiesced thereto and they are now estopped from questioning said authority of Judge Roura after they received the decision in question which happens to be adverse to them; (3) While it is true that Judge Reynaldo Roura was merely a Judge-on-detail at this Branch of the Court, he was in all respects the Presiding Judge with full authority to act on any pending incident submitted before this Court during his incumbency. When he returned to his Official Station at Macabebe, Pampanga, he did not lose his authority to decide or resolve such cases submitted to him for decision or resolution because he continued as Judge of the Regional Trial Court and is of co-equal rank with the undersigned Presiding Judge. The standing rule and supported by jurisprudence is that a Judge to whom a case is submitted for decision has the authority to decide the case notwithstanding his transfer to another branch or region of the same court (Sec. 9, Rule 135, Rule of Court). Coming now to the twin prayer for reconsideration of the Decision dated March 1, 1989 rendered in the instant case, resolution of which now pertains to the undersigned Presiding Judge, after a meticulous examination of the documentary evidence presented by the parties, she is convinced that the Decision of March 1, 1989 is supported by evidence and, therefore, should not be disturbed. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the "Motion for Reconsideration and/or to Annul Decision and Render Anew Decision by the Incumbent Presiding Judge" dated March 20, 1989 is hereby DENIED. SO ORDERED. Quezon City, Philippines, July 12, 1989.

(Rollo, pp. 108-109) Petitioners thereupon interposed an appeal, but on December 16, 1991, the Court of Appeals (Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Abad Santos (P), JJ.) rendered its decision fully agreeing with the trial court. Hence, the instant petition which was filed on March 5, 1992. The last pleading, private respondents' Reply Memorandum, was filed on September 15, 1993. The case was, however, re-raffled to undersigned ponente only on August 28, 1996, due to the voluntary inhibition of the Justice to whom the case was last assigned. While we deem it necessary to introduce certain refinements in the disquisition of respondent court in the affirmance of the trial court's decision, we definitely find the instant petition bereft of merit. The heart of the controversy which is the ultimate key in the resolution of the other issues in the case at bar is the precise determination of the legal significance of the document entitled "Receipt of Down Payment" which was offered in evidence by both parties. There is no dispute as to the fact that said document embodied the binding contract between Ramona Patricia Alcaraz on the one hand, and the heirs of Constancio P. Coronel on the other, pertaining to a particular house and lot covered by TCT No. 119627, as defined in Article 1305 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which reads as follows: Art. 1305. A contract is a meeting of minds between two persons whereby one binds himself, with respect to the other, to give something or to render some service. While, it is the position of private respondents that the "Receipt of Down Payment" embodied a perfected contract of sale, which perforce, they seek to enforce by means of an action for specific performance, petitioners on their part insist that what the document signified was a mere executory contract to sell, subject to certain suspensive conditions, and because of the absence of Ramona P. Alcaraz, who left for the United States of America, said contract could not possibly ripen into a contract absolute sale. Plainly, such variance in the contending parties' contentions is

brought about by the way each interprets the terms and/or conditions set forth in said private instrument. Withal, based on whatever relevant and admissible evidence may be available on record, this, Court, as were the courts below, is now called upon to adjudge what the real intent of the parties was at the time the said document was executed. The Civil Code defines a contract of sale, thus: Art. 1458. By the contract of sale one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer the ownership of and to deliver a determinate thing, and the other to pay therefor a price certain in money or its equivalent. Sale, by its very nature, is a consensual contract because it is perfected by mere consent. The essential elements of a contract of sale are the following: a) Consent or meeting of the minds, that is, consent to transfer ownership in exchange for the price; b) Determinate subject matter; and c) Price certain in money or its equivalent. Under this definition, a Contract to Sell may not be considered as a Contract of Sale because the first essential element is lacking. In a contract to sell, the prospective seller explicity reserves the transfer of title to the prospective buyer, meaning, the prospective seller does not as yet agree or consent to transfer ownership of the property subject of the contract to sell until the happening of an event, which for present purposes we shall take as the full payment of the purchase price. What the seller agrees or obliges himself to do is to fulfill is promise to sell the subject property when the entire amount of the purchase price is delivered to him. In other words the full payment of the purchase price partakes of a suspensive condition, the nonfulfillment of which prevents the obligation to sell from arising and thus, ownership is retained by the prospective seller without further remedies by the prospective buyer. In Roque vs. Lapuz (96 SCRA 741 [1980]), this Court had occasion to rule:

Hence, We hold that the contract between the petitioner and the respondent was a contract to sell where the ownership or title is retained by the seller and is not to pass until the full payment of the price, such payment being a positive suspensive condition and failure of which is not a breach, casual or serious, but simply an event that prevented the obligation of the vendor to convey title from acquiring binding force. Stated positively, upon the fulfillment of the suspensive condition which is the full payment of the purchase price, the prospective seller's obligation to sell the subject property by entering into a contract of sale with the prospective buyer becomes demandable as provided in Article 1479 of the Civil Code which states: Art. 1479. A promise to buy and sell a determinate thing for a price certain is reciprocally demandable. An accepted unilateral promise to buy or to sell a determinate thing for a price certain is binding upon the promissor if the promise is supported by a consideration distinct from the price. A contract to sell may thus be defined as a bilateral contract whereby the prospective seller, while expressly reserving the ownership of the subject property despite delivery thereof to the prospective buyer, binds himself to sell the said property exclusively to the prospective buyer upon fulfillment of the condition agreed upon, that is, full payment of the purchase price. A contract to sell as defined hereinabove, may not even be considered as a conditional contract of sale where the seller may likewise reserve title to the property subject of the sale until the fulfillment of a suspensive condition, because in a conditional contract of sale, the first element of consent is present, although it is conditioned upon the happening of a contingent event which may or may not occur. If the suspensive condition is not fulfilled, the perfection of the contract of sale is completely abated (cf. Homesite and housing Corp. vs. Court of Appeals, 133 SCRA 777 [1984]). However, if the suspensive condition is fulfilled, the contract of sale is thereby perfected, such that if there had already been previous delivery of the property subject of the sale to the buyer, ownership

thereto automatically transfers to the buyer by operation of law without any further act having to be performed by the seller. In a contract to sell, upon the fulfillment of the suspensive condition which is the full payment of the purchase price, ownership will not automatically transfer to the buyer although the property may have been previously delivered to him. The prospective seller still has to convey title to the prospective buyer by entering into a contract of absolute sale. It is essential to distinguish between a contract to sell and a conditional contract of sale specially in cases where the subject property is sold by the owner not to the party the seller contracted with, but to a third person, as in the case at bench. In a contract to sell, there being no previous sale of the property, a third person buying such property despite the fulfillment of the suspensive condition such as the full payment of the purchase price, for instance, cannot be deemed a buyer in bad faith and the prospective buyer cannot seek the relief of reconveyance of the property. There is no double sale in such case. Title to the property will transfer to the buyer after registration because there is no defect in the ownerseller's title per se, but the latter, of course, may be used for damages by the intending buyer. In a conditional contract of sale, however, upon the fulfillment of the suspensive condition, the sale becomes absolute and this will definitely affect the seller's title thereto. In fact, if there had been previous delivery of the subject property, the seller's ownership or title to the property is automatically transferred to the buyer such that, the seller will no longer have any title to transfer to any third person. Applying Article 1544 of the Civil Code, such second buyer of the property who may have had actual or constructive knowledge of such defect in the seller's title, or at least was charged with the obligation to discover such defect, cannot be a registrant in good faith. Such second buyer cannot defeat the first buyer's title. In case a title is issued to the second buyer, the first buyer may seek reconveyance of the property subject of the sale. With the above postulates as guidelines, we now proceed to the task of deciphering the real nature of the contract entered into by

petitioners and private respondents. It is a canon in the interpretation of contracts that the words used therein should be given their natural and ordinary meaning unless a technical meaning was intended (Tan vs. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 586 [1992]). Thus, when petitioners declared in the said "Receipt of Down Payment" that they Received from Miss Ramona Patricia Alcaraz of 146 Timog, Quezon City, the sum of Fifty Thousand Pesos purchase price of our inherited house and lot, covered by TCT No. 1199627 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City, in the total amount of P1,240,000.00. without any reservation of title until full payment of the entire purchase price, the natural and ordinary idea conveyed is that they sold their property. When the "Receipt of Down Payment" is considered in its entirety, it becomes more manifest that there was a clear intent on the part of petitioners to transfer title to the buyer, but since the transfer certificate of title was still in the name of petitioner's father, they could not fully effect such transfer although the buyer was then willing and able to immediately pay the purchase price. Therefore, petitionerssellers undertook upon receipt of the down payment from private respondent Ramona P. Alcaraz, to cause the issuance of a new certificate of title in their names from that of their father, after which, they promised to present said title, now in their names, to the latter and to execute the deed of absolute sale whereupon, the latter shall, in turn, pay the entire balance of the purchase price. The agreement could not have been a contract to sell because the sellers herein made no express reservation of ownership or title to the subject parcel of land. Furthermore, the circumstance which prevented the parties from entering into an absolute contract of sale pertained to the sellers themselves (the certificate of title was not in their names) and not the full payment of the purchase price. Under the established facts and circumstances of the case, the Court may safely presume that, had the certificate of title been in the names of petitioners-sellers at that time, there would have been no reason why an absolute contract of sale could not have been executed and

consummated right there and then. Moreover, unlike in a contract to sell, petitioners in the case at bar did not merely promise to sell the properly to private respondent upon the fulfillment of the suspensive condition. On the contrary, having already agreed to sell the subject property, they undertook to have the certificate of title changed to their names and immediately thereafter, to execute the written deed of absolute sale. Thus, the parties did not merely enter into a contract to sell where the sellers, after compliance by the buyer with certain terms and conditions, promised to sell the property to the latter. What may be perceived from the respective undertakings of the parties to the contract is that petitioners had already agreed to sell the house and lot they inherited from their father, completely willing to transfer full ownership of the subject house and lot to the buyer if the documents were then in order. It just happened, however, that the transfer certificate of title was then still in the name of their father. It was more expedient to first effect the change in the certificate of title so as to bear their names. That is why they undertook to cause the issuance of a new transfer of the certificate of title in their names upon receipt of the down payment in the amount of P50,000.00. As soon as the new certificate of title is issued in their names, petitioners were committed to immediately execute the deed of absolute sale. Only then will the obligation of the buyer to pay the remainder of the purchase price arise. There is no doubt that unlike in a contract to sell which is most commonly entered into so as to protect the seller against a buyer who intends to buy the property in installment by withholding ownership over the property until the buyer effects full payment therefor, in the contract entered into in the case at bar, the sellers were the one who were unable to enter into a contract of absolute sale by reason of the fact that the certificate of title to the property was still in the name of their father. It was the sellers in this case who, as it were, had the impediment which prevented, so to speak, the execution of an contract of absolute sale. What is clearly established by the plain language of the subject document is that when the said "Receipt of Down Payment" was

prepared and signed by petitioners Romeo A. Coronel, et al., the parties had agreed to a conditional contract of sale, consummation of which is subject only to the successful transfer of the certificate of title from the name of petitioners' father, Constancio P. Coronel, to their names. The Court significantly notes this suspensive condition was, in fact, fulfilled on February 6, 1985 (Exh. "D"; Exh. "4"). Thus, on said date, the conditional contract of sale between petitioners and private respondent Ramona P. Alcaraz became obligatory, the only act required for the consummation thereof being the delivery of the property by means of the execution of the deed of absolute sale in a public instrument, which petitioners unequivocally committed themselves to do as evidenced by the "Receipt of Down Payment." Article 1475, in correlation with Article 1181, both of the Civil Code, plainly applies to the case at bench. Thus, Art. 1475. The contract of sale is perfected at the moment there is a meeting of minds upon the thing which is the object of the contract and upon the price. From the moment, the parties may reciprocally demand performance, subject to the provisions of the law governing the form of contracts. Art. 1181. In conditional obligations, the acquisition of rights, as well as the extinguishment or loss of those already acquired, shall depend upon the happening of the event which constitutes the condition. Since the condition contemplated by the parties which is the issuance of a certificate of title in petitioners' names was fulfilled on February 6, 1985, the respective obligations of the parties under the contract of sale became mutually demandable, that is, petitioners, as sellers, were obliged to present the transfer certificate of title already in their names to private respondent Ramona P. Alcaraz, the buyer, and to immediately execute the deed of absolute sale, while the buyer on her part, was obliged to forthwith pay the balance of the purchase price amounting to P1,190,000.00. It is also significant to note that in the first paragraph in page 9 of their petition, petitioners conclusively admitted that:

3. The petitioners-sellers Coronel bound themselves "to effect the transfer in our names from our deceased father Constancio P. Coronel, the transfer certificate of title immediately upon receipt of the downpayment above-stated". The sale was still subject to this suspensive condition. (Emphasis supplied.) (Rollo, p. 16) Petitioners themselves recognized that they entered into a contract of sale subject to a suspensive condition. Only, they contend, continuing in the same paragraph, that: . . . Had petitioners-sellers not complied with this condition of first transferring the title to the property under their names, there could be no perfected contract of sale. (Emphasis supplied.) (Ibid.) not aware that they set their own trap for themselves, for Article 1186 of the Civil Code expressly provides that: Art. 1186. The condition shall be deemed fulfilled when the obligor voluntarily prevents its fulfillment. Besides, it should be stressed and emphasized that what is more controlling than these mere hypothetical arguments is the fact that the condition herein referred to was actually and indisputably fulfilled on February 6, 1985, when a new title was issued in the names of petitioners as evidenced by TCT No. 327403 (Exh. "D"; Exh. "4"). The inevitable conclusion is that on January 19, 1985, as evidenced by the document denominated as "Receipt of Down Payment" (Exh. "A"; Exh. "1"), the parties entered into a contract of sale subject only to the suspensive condition that the sellers shall effect the issuance of new certificate title from that of their father's name to their names and that, on February 6, 1985, this condition was fulfilled (Exh. "D"; Exh. "4"). We, therefore, hold that, in accordance with Article 1187 which pertinently provides

Art. 1187. The effects of conditional obligation to give, once the condition has been fulfilled, shall retroact to the day of the constitution of the obligation . . . In obligation to do or not to do, the courts shall determine, in each case, the retroactive effect of the condition that has been complied with. the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to the perfected contract of sale became mutually due and demandable as of the time of fulfillment or occurrence of the suspensive condition on February 6, 1985. As of that point in time, reciprocal obligations of both seller and buyer arose. Petitioners also argue there could been no perfected contract on January 19, 1985 because they were then not yet the absolute owners of the inherited property. We cannot sustain this argument. Article 774 of the Civil Code defines Succession as a mode of transferring ownership as follows: Art. 774. Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and obligations to be extent and value of the inheritance of a person are transmitted through his death to another or others by his will or by operation of law. Petitioners-sellers in the case at bar being the sons and daughters of the decedent Constancio P. Coronel are compulsory heirs who were called to succession by operation of law. Thus, at the point their father drew his last breath, petitioners stepped into his shoes insofar as the subject property is concerned, such that any rights or obligations pertaining thereto became binding and enforceable upon them. It is expressly provided that rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent (Article 777, Civil Code; Cuison vs. Villanueva, 90 Phil. 850 [1952]). Be it also noted that petitioners' claim that succession may not be declared unless the creditors have been paid is rendered moot by the fact that they were able to effect the transfer of the title to the property

from the decedent's name to their names on February 6, 1985. Aside from this, petitioners are precluded from raising their supposed lack of capacity to enter into an agreement at that time and they cannot be allowed to now take a posture contrary to that which they took when they entered into the agreement with private respondent Ramona P. Alcaraz. The Civil Code expressly states that: Art. 1431. Through estoppel an admission or representation is rendered conclusive upon the person making it, and cannot be denied or disproved as against the person relying thereon. Having represented themselves as the true owners of the subject property at the time of sale, petitioners cannot claim now that they were not yet the absolute owners thereof at that time. Petitioners also contend that although there was in fact a perfected contract of sale between them and Ramona P. Alcaraz, the latter breached her reciprocal obligation when she rendered impossible the consummation thereof by going to the United States of America, without leaving her address, telephone number, and Special Power of Attorney (Paragraphs 14 and 15, Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim to the Amended Complaint, p. 2; Rollo, p. 43), for which reason, so petitioners conclude, they were correct in unilaterally rescinding rescinding the contract of sale. We do not agree with petitioners that there was a valid rescission of the contract of sale in the instant case. We note that these supposed grounds for petitioners' rescission, are mere allegations found only in their responsive pleadings, which by express provision of the rules, are deemed controverted even if no reply is filed by the plaintiffs (Sec. 11, Rule 6, Revised Rules of Court). The records are absolutely bereft of any supporting evidence to substantiate petitioners' allegations. We have stressed time and again that allegations must be proven by sufficient evidence (Ng Cho Cio vs. Ng Diong, 110 Phil. 882 [1961]; Recaro vs. Embisan, 2 SCRA 598 [1961]. Mere allegation is not an evidence (Lagasca vs. De Vera, 79 Phil. 376 [1947]). Even assuming arguendo that Ramona P. Alcaraz was in the United States of America on February 6, 1985, we cannot justify petitionersellers' act of unilaterally and extradicially rescinding the contract of

sale, there being no express stipulation authorizing the sellers to extarjudicially rescind the contract of sale. (cf. Dignos vs. CA, 158 SCRA 375 [1988]; Taguba vs. Vda. de Leon, 132 SCRA 722 [1984]) Moreover, petitioners are estopped from raising the alleged absence of Ramona P. Alcaraz because although the evidence on record shows that the sale was in the name of Ramona P. Alcaraz as the buyer, the sellers had been dealing with Concepcion D. Alcaraz, Ramona's mother, who had acted for and in behalf of her daughter, if not also in her own behalf. Indeed, the down payment was made by Concepcion D. Alcaraz with her own personal check (Exh. "B"; Exh. "2") for and in behalf of Ramona P. Alcaraz. There is no evidence showing that petitioners ever questioned Concepcion's authority to represent Ramona P. Alcaraz when they accepted her personal check. Neither did they raise any objection as regards payment being effected by a third person. Accordingly, as far as petitioners are concerned, the physical absence of Ramona P. Alcaraz is not a ground to rescind the contract of sale. Corollarily, Ramona P. Alcaraz cannot even be deemed to be in default, insofar as her obligation to pay the full purchase price is concerned. Petitioners who are precluded from setting up the defense of the physical absence of Ramona P. Alcaraz as above-explained offered no proof whatsoever to show that they actually presented the new transfer certificate of title in their names and signified their willingness and readiness to execute the deed of absolute sale in accordance with their agreement. Ramona's corresponding obligation to pay the balance of the purchase price in the amount of P1,190,000.00 (as buyer) never became due and demandable and, therefore, she cannot be deemed to have been in default. Article 1169 of the Civil Code defines when a party in a contract involving reciprocal obligations may be considered in default, to wit: Art. 1169. Those obliged to deliver or to do something, incur in delay from the time the obligee judicially or extrajudicially demands from them the fulfillment of their obligation. xxx xxx xxx In reciprocal obligations, neither party incurs in delay if the other does

not comply or is not ready to comply in a proper manner with what is incumbent upon him. From the moment one of the parties fulfill his obligation, delay by the other begins. (Emphasis supplied.) There is thus neither factual nor legal basis to rescind the contract of sale between petitioners and respondents. With the foregoing conclusions, the sale to the other petitioner, Catalina B. Mabanag, gave rise to a case of double sale where Article 1544 of the Civil Code will apply, to wit: 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 if be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in 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 absence thereof to the person who presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith. The record of the case shows that the Deed of Absolute Sale dated April 25, 1985 as proof of the second contract of sale was registered with the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City giving rise to the issuance of a new certificate of title in the name of Catalina B. Mabanag on June 5, 1985. Thus, the second paragraph of Article 1544 shall apply. The above-cited provision on double sale presumes title or ownership to pass to the first buyer, the exceptions being: (a) when the second buyer, in good faith, registers the sale ahead of the first buyer, and (b) should there be no inscription by either of the two buyers, when the second buyer, in good faith, acquires possession of the property ahead of the first buyer. Unless, the second buyer satisfies these requirements, title or ownership will not transfer to him to the prejudice of the first buyer. In his commentaries on the Civil Code, an accepted authority on the

subject, now a distinguished member of the Court, Justice Jose C. Vitug, explains: The governing principle is prius tempore, potior jure (first in time, stronger in right). Knowledge by the first buyer of the second sale cannot defeat the first buyer's rights except when the second buyer first registers in good faith the second sale (Olivares vs. Gonzales, 159 SCRA 33). Conversely, knowledge gained by the second buyer of the first sale defeats his rights even if he is first to register, since knowledge taints his registration with bad faith (see also Astorga vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 58530, 26 December 1984). In Cruz vs. Cabana (G.R. No. 56232, 22 June 1984, 129 SCRA 656), it has held that it is essential, to merit the protection of Art. 1544, second paragraph, that the second realty buyer must act in good faith in registering his deed of sale (citing Carbonell vs. Court of Appeals, 69 SCRA 99, Crisostomo vs. CA, G.R. No. 95843, 02 September 1992). (J. Vitug Compendium of Civil Law and Jurisprudence, 1993 Edition, p. 604). Petitioner point out that the notice of lis pendens in the case at bar was annoted on the title of the subject property only on February 22, 1985, whereas, the second sale between petitioners Coronels and petitioner Mabanag was supposedly perfected prior thereto or on February 18, 1985. The idea conveyed is that at the time petitioner Mabanag, the second buyer, bought the property under a clean title, she was unaware of any adverse claim or previous sale, for which reason she is buyer in good faith. We are not persuaded by such argument. In a case of double sale, what finds relevance and materiality is not whether or not the second buyer was a buyer in good faith but whether or not said second buyer registers such second sale in good faith, that is, without knowledge of any defect in the title of the property sold. As clearly borne out by the evidence in this case, petitioner Mabanag could not have in good faith, registered the sale entered into on February 18, 1985 because as early as February 22, 1985, a notice of lis pendens had been annotated on the transfer certificate of title in

the names of petitioners, whereas petitioner Mabanag registered the said sale sometime in April, 1985. At the time of registration, therefore, petitioner Mabanag knew that the same property had already been previously sold to private respondents, or, at least, she was charged with knowledge that a previous buyer is claiming title to the same property. Petitioner Mabanag cannot close her eyes to the defect in petitioners' title to the property at the time of the registration of the property. This Court had occasions to rule that: If a vendee in a double sale registers that sale after he has acquired knowledge that there was a previous sale of the same property to a third party or that another person claims said property in a pervious sale, the registration will constitute a registration in bad faith and will not confer upon him any right. (Salvoro vs. Tanega, 87 SCRA 349 [1978]; citing Palarca vs. Director of Land, 43 Phil. 146; Cagaoan vs. Cagaoan, 43 Phil. 554; Fernandez vs. Mercader, 43 Phil. 581.) Thus, the sale of the subject parcel of land between petitioners and Ramona P. Alcaraz, perfected on February 6, 1985, prior to that between petitioners and Catalina B. Mabanag on February 18, 1985, was correctly upheld by both the courts below. Although there may be ample indications that there was in fact an agency between Ramona as principal and Concepcion, her mother, as agent insofar as the subject contract of sale is concerned, the issue of whether or not Concepcion was also acting in her own behalf as a co-buyer is not squarely raised in the instant petition, nor in such assumption disputed between mother and daughter. Thus, We will not touch this issue and no longer disturb the lower courts' ruling on this point. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED and the appealed judgment AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr. and Francisco, JJ., concur. Panganiban, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 107207 November 23, 1995 VIRGILIO R. ROMERO, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ENRIQUETA CHUA VDA. DE ONGSIONG, respondents.

VITUG, J.: The parties pose this question: May the vendor demand the rescission of a contract for the sale of a parcel of land for a cause traceable to his own failure to have the squatters on the subject property evicted within the contractually-stipulated period? Petitioner Virgilio R. Romero, a civil engineer, was engaged in the business of production, manufacture and exportation of perlite filter aids, permalite insulation and processed perlite ore. In 1988, petitioner and his foreign partners decided to put up a central warehouse in Metro Manila on a land area of approximately 2,000 square meters. The project was made known to several freelance real estate brokers. A day or so after the announcement, Alfonso Flores and his wife, accompanied by a broker, offered a parcel of land measuring 1,952 square meters. Located in Barangay San Dionisio, Paraaque, Metro Manila, the lot was covered by TCT No. 361402 in the name of private respondent Enriqueta Chua vda. de Ongsiong. Petitioner visited the property and, except for the presence of squatters in the area, he found the place suitable for a central warehouse. Later, the Flores spouses called on petitioner with a proposal that should he advance the amount of P50,000.00 which could be used in taking up an ejectment case against the squatters, private respondent would agree to sell the property for only P800.00 per square meter.

Petitioner expressed his concurrence. On 09 June 1988, a contract, denominated "Deed of Conditional Sale," was executed between petitioner and private respondent. The simply-drawn contract read: DEED OF CONDITIONAL SALE
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

This Contract, made and executed in the Municipality of Makati, Philippines this 9th day of June, 1988 by and between: ENRIQUETA CHUA VDA. DE ONGSIONG, of legal age, widow, Filipino and residing at 105 Simoun St., Quezon City, Metro Manila, hereinafter referred to as the VENDOR; -andVIRGILIO R. ROMERO, married to Severina L. Lat, of Legal age, Filipino, and residing at 110 San Miguel St., Plainview Subd., Mandaluyong Metro Manila, hereinafter referred to as the VENDEE: W I T N E S S E T H : That WHEREAS, the VENDOR is the owner of One (1) parcel of land with a total area of ONE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FIFTY TWO (1,952) SQUARE METERS, more or less, located in Barrio San Dionisio, Municipality of Paraaque, Province of Rizal, covered by TCT No. 361402 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Pasig and more particularly described as follows: xxx xxx xxx WHEREAS, the VENDEE, for (sic) has offered to buy a parcel of land and the VENDOR has accepted the offer, subject to the terms and conditions hereinafter stipulated: NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the sum of ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P1,561,600.00) ONLY, Philippine Currency, payable by VENDEE to in to (sic) manner set forth, the VENDOR agrees to sell to the VENDEE, their heirs, successors, administrators, executors,

assign, all her rights, titles and interest in and to the property mentioned in the FIRST WHEREAS CLAUSE, subject to the following terms and conditions: 1. That the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) ONLY Philippine Currency, is to be paid upon signing and execution of this instrument. 2. The balance of the purchase price in the amount of ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED ELEVEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P1,511,600.00) ONLY shall be paid 45 days after the removal of all squatters from the above described property. 3. Upon full payment of the overall purchase price as aforesaid, VENDOR without necessity of demand shall immediately sign, execute, acknowledged (sic) and deliver the corresponding deed of absolute sale in favor of the VENDEE free from all liens and encumbrances and all Real Estate taxes are all paid and updated. It is hereby agreed, covenanted and stipulated by and between the parties hereto that if after 60 days from the date of the signing of this contract the VENDOR shall not be able to remove the squatters from the property being purchased, the downpayment made by the buyer shall be returned/reimbursed by the VENDOR to the VENDEE. That in the event that the VENDEE shall not be able to pay the VENDOR the balance of the purchase price of ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED ELEVEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P1,511,600.00) ONLY after 45 days from written notification to the VENDEE of the removal of the squatters from the property being purchased, the FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) previously paid as downpayment shall be forfeited in favor of the VENDOR. Expenses for the registration such as registration fees, documentary stamp, transfer fee, assurances and such other fees and expenses as may be necessary to transfer the title to the name of the VENDEE shall be for the account of the VENDEE while capital gains tax shall be paid by the VENDOR. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereunto signed those (sic) presents in the City of Makati MM, Philippines on this 9th day of June,

1988. (Sgd.) (Sgd.) VIRGILIO R. ROMERO ENRIQUETA CHUA VDA. DE ONGSIONG Vendee Vendor SIGNED IN THE PRESENCE OF: (Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Rowena C. Ongsiong Jack M. Cruz
1

Alfonso Flores, in behalf of private respondent, forthwith received and acknowledged a check for P50,000.00 2 from petitioner. 3 Pursuant to the agreement, private respondent filed a complaint for ejectment (Civil Case No. 7579) against Melchor Musa and 29 other squatter families with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paraaque. A few months later, or on 21 February 1989, judgment was rendered ordering the defendants to vacate the premises. The decision was handed down beyond the 60-day period (expiring 09 August 1988) stipulated in the contract. The writ of execution of the judgment was issued, still later, on 30 March 1989. In a letter, dated 07 April 1989, private respondent sought to return the P50,000.00 she received from petitioner since, she said, she could not "get rid of the squatters" on the lot. Atty. Sergio A.F. Apostol, counsel for petitioner, in his reply of 17 April 1989, refused the tender and stated:.
Our client believes that with the exercise of reasonable diligence considering the favorable decision rendered by the Court and the writ of execution issued pursuant thereto, it is now possible to eject the squatters from the premises of the subject property, for which reason, he proposes that he shall take it upon himself to eject the squatters, provided, that expenses which 4 shall be incurred by reason thereof shall be chargeable to the purchase price of the land.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor ("PCUD"), through its Regional Director for Luzon, Farley O. Viloria, asked the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paraaque for a grace period of

45 days from 21 April 1989 within which to relocate and transfer the squatter families. Acting favorably on the request, the court suspended the enforcement of the writ of execution accordingly. On 08 June 1989, Atty. Apostol reminded private respondent on the expiry of the 45-day grace period and his client's willingness to "underwrite the expenses for the execution of the judgment and ejectment of the occupants." 5 In his letter of 19 June 1989, Atty. Joaquin Yuseco, Jr., counsel for private respondent, advised Atty. Apostol that the Deed of Conditional Sale had been rendered null and void by virtue of his client's failure to evict the squatters from the premises within the agreed 60-day period. He added that private respondent had "decided to retain the property." 6 On 23 June 1989, Atty. Apostol wrote back to explain: The contract of sale between the parties was perfected from the very moment that there was a meeting of the minds of the parties upon the subject lot and the price in the amount of P1,561,600.00. Moreover, the contract had already been partially fulfilled and executed upon receipt of the downpayment of your client. Ms. Ongsiong is precluded from rejecting its binding effects relying upon her inability to eject the squatters from the premises of subject property during the agreed period. Suffice it to state that, the provision of the Deed of Conditional Sale do not grant her the option or prerogative to rescind the contract and to retain the property should she fail to comply with the obligation she has assumed under the contract. In fact, a perusal of the terms and conditions of the contract clearly shows that the right to rescind the contract and to demand the return/reimbursement of the downpayment is granted to our client for his protection. Instead, however, of availing himself of the power to rescind the contract and demand the return, reimbursement of the downpayment, our client had opted to take it upon himself to eject the squatters from the premises. Precisely, we refer you to our letters addressed to your client dated April 17, 1989 and June 8, 1989. Moreover, it is basic under the law on contracts that the power to rescind is given to the injured party. Undoubtedly, under the

circumstances, our client is the injured party. Furthermore, your client has not complied with her obligation under their contract in good faith. It is undeniable that Ms. Ongsiong deliberately refused to exert efforts to eject the squatters from the premises of the subject property and her decision to retain the property was brought about by the sudden increase in the value of realties in the surrounding areas.
Please consider this letter as a tender of payment to your client and a demand to execute the 7 absolute Deed of Sale.

A few days later (or on 27 June 1989), private respondent, prompted by petitioner's continued refusal to accept the return of the P50,000.00 advance payment, filed with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 133, Civil Case No. 89-4394 for rescission of the deed of "conditional" sale, plus damages, and for the consignation of P50,000.00 cash. Meanwhile, on 25 August 1989, the Metropolitan Trial Court issued an alias writ of execution in Civil Case No. 7579 on motion of private respondent but the squatters apparently still stayed on. Back to Civil Case No. 89-4394, on 26 June 1990, the Regional Trial Court of Makati 8 rendered decision holding that private respondent had no right to rescind the contract since it was she who "violated her obligation to eject the squatters from the subject property" and that petitioner, being the injured party, was the party who could, under Article 1191 of the Civil Code, rescind the agreement. The court ruled that the provisions in the contract relating to (a) the return/reimbursement of the P50,000.00 if the vendor were to fail in her obligation to free the property from squatters within the stipulated period or (b), upon the other hand, the sum's forfeiture by the vendor if the vendee were to fail in paying the agreed purchase price, amounted to "penalty clauses". The court added:
This Court is not convinced of the ground relied upon by the plaintiff in seeking the rescission, namely: (1) he (sic) is afraid of the squatters; and (2) she has spent so much to eject them from the premises (p. 6, tsn, ses. Jan. 3, 1990). Militating against her profession of good faith is plaintiffs conduct which is not in accord with the rules of fair play and justice. Notably, she caused the issuance of an alias writ of execution on August 25, 1989 (Exh. 6) in the ejectment suit which was almost two months after she filed the complaint before this Court on June 27, 1989. If she were really afraid of the squatters, then she should not have pursued the issuance of an alias writ

of execution. Besides, she did not even report to the police the alleged phone threats from the 9 squatters. To the mind of the Court, the so-called squatter factor is simply factuitous (sic).

The lower court, accordingly, dismissed the complaint and ordered, instead, private respondent to eject or cause the ejectment of the squatters from the property and to execute the absolute deed of conveyance upon payment of the full purchase price by petitioner. Private respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. On 29 May 1992, the appellate court rendered its decision. 10 It opined that the contract entered into by the parties was subject to a resolutory condition, i.e., the ejectment of the squatters from the land, the nonoccurrence of which resulted in the failure of the object of the contract; that private respondent substantially complied with her obligation to evict the squatters; that it was petitioner who was not ready to pay the purchase price and fulfill his part of the contract, and that the provision requiring a mandatory return/reimbursement of the P50,000.00 in case private respondent would fail to eject the squatters within the 60-day period was not a penal clause. Thus, it concluded.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and a new one entered declaring the contract of conditional sale dated June 9, 1988 cancelled and ordering the defendant-appellee to accept the return of the downpayment in the amount of P50,000.00 which 11 was deposited in the court below. No pronouncement as to costs.

Failing to obtain a reconsideration, petitioner filed this petition for review on certiorari raising issues that, in fine, center on the nature of the contract adverted to and the P50,000.00 remittance made by petitioner. A perfected contract of sale may either be absolute or conditional 12 depending on whether the agreement is devoid of, or subject to, any condition imposed on the passing of title of the thing to be conveyed or on the obligation of a party thereto. When ownership is retained until the fulfillment of a positive condition the breach of the condition will simply prevent the duty to convey title from acquiring an obligatory force. If the condition is imposed on an obligation of a party which is not complied with, the other party may either refuse to proceed or waive said condition (Art. 1545, Civil Code). Where, of course, the condition is imposed upon the perfection of the contract itself, the failure of such condition would prevent the juridical relation

itself from coming into existence. 13 In determining the real character of the contract, the title given to it by the parties is not as much significant as its substance. For example, a deed of sale, although denominated as a deed of conditional sale, may be treated as absolute in nature, if title to the property sold is not reserved in the vendor or if the vendor is not granted the right to unilaterally rescind the contract predicated on the fulfillment or nonfulfillment, as the case may be, of the prescribed condition. 14 The term "condition" in the context of a perfected contract of sale pertains, in reality, to the compliance by one party of an undertaking the fulfillment of which would beckon, in turn, the demandability of the reciprocal prestation of the other party. The reciprocal obligations referred to would normally be, in the case of vendee, the payment of the agreed purchase price and, in the case of the vendor, the fulfillment of certain express warranties (which, in the case at bench is the timely eviction of the squatters on the property). It would be futile to challenge the agreement here in question as not being a duly perfected contract. A sale is at once perfected when a person (the seller) obligates himself, for a price certain, to deliver and to transfer ownership of a specified thing or right to another (the buyer) over which the latter agrees. 15 The object of the sale, in the case before us, was specifically identified to be a 1,952-square meter lot in San Dionisio, Paraaque, Rizal, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 361402 of the Registry of Deeds for Pasig and therein technically described. The purchase price was fixed at P1,561,600.00, of which P50,000.00 was to be paid upon the execution of the document of sale and the balance of P1,511,600.00 payable "45 days after the removal of all squatters from the above described property." From the moment the contract is perfected, the parties are bound not only to the fulfillment of what has been expressly stipulated but also to all the consequences which, according to their nature, may be in keeping with good faith, usage and law. Under the agreement, private respondent is obligated to evict the squatters on the property. The ejectment of the squatters is a condition the operative act of which

sets into motion the period of compliance by petitioner of his own obligation, i.e., to pay the balance of the purchase price. Private respondent's failure "to remove the squatters from the property" within the stipulated period gives petitioner the right to either refuse to proceed with the agreement or waive that condition in consonance with Article 1545 of the Civil Code. 16 This option clearly belongs to petitioner and not to private respondent. We share the opinion of the appellate court that the undertaking required of private respondent does not constitute a "potestative condition dependent solely on his will" that might, otherwise, be void in accordance with Article 1182 of the Civil Code 17 but a "mixed" condition "dependent not on the will of the vendor alone but also of third persons like the squatters and government agencies and personnel concerned." 18 We must hasten to add, however, that where the so-called "potestative condition" is imposed not on the birth of the obligation but on its fulfillment, only the obligation is avoided, leaving unaffected the obligation itself. 19 In contracts of sale particularly, Article 1545 of the Civil Code, aforementioned, allows the obligee to choose between proceeding with the agreement or waiving the performance of the condition. It is this provision which is the pertinent rule in the case at bench. Here, evidently, petitioner has waived the performance of the condition imposed on private respondent to free the property from squatters. 20 In any case, private respondent's action for rescission is not warranted. She is not the injured party. 21 The right of resolution of a party to an obligation under Article 1191 of the Civil Code is predicated on a breach of faith by the other party that violates the reciprocity between them. 22 It is private respondent who has failed in her obligation under the contract. Petitioner did not breach the agreement. He has agreed, in fact, to shoulder the expenses of the execution of the judgment in the ejectment case and to make arrangements with the sheriff to effect such execution. In his letter of 23 June 1989, counsel for petitioner has tendered payment and demanded forthwith the execution of the deed of absolute sale. Parenthetically, this offer to pay, having been made prior to the demand for rescission, assuming for the sake of argument that such a demand is proper under Article 1592 23 of the Civil Code, would

likewise suffice to defeat private respondent's prerogative to rescind thereunder. There is no need to still belabor the question of whether the P50,000.00 advance payment is reimbursable to petitioner or forfeitable by private respondent, since, on the basis of our foregoing conclusions, the matter has ceased to be an issue. Suffice it to say that petitioner having opted to proceed with the sale, neither may petitioner demand its reimbursement from private respondent nor may private respondent subject it to forfeiture. WHEREFORE, the questioned decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE, and another is entered ordering petitioner to pay private respondent the balance of the purchase price and the latter to execute the deed of absolute sale in favor of petitioner. No costs. SO ORDERED. Feliciano, Romero, Melo and Panganiban, JJ., concur. Footnotes 1 Records, pp. 60-61. 2 Exh. 9. 3 Exh. 2. 4 Records, p. 116. 5 Exh. 8-B. 6 Exh. D. 7 Records, pp. 74-75. 8 Presided by Judge Buenaventura J. Guerrero. 9 Records, p. 205. 10 Penned by Associate Justice Fermin A. Martin, Jr. and concurred

in by Associate Justices Emeterio C. Cui and Cezar D. Francisco. 11 Rollo, p. 46. 12 Art. 1458, second paragraph, Civil Code of the Philippines. 13 See Ang Yu Asuncion, et al., vs. Court of Appeals, 238 SCRA 602. 14 Ibid., Vol. V, p. 3 citing Dignos v. Court of Appeals, No. L-59266, February 29, 1988, 158 SCRA 375. 15 Art. 1475. The contract of sale is perfected at the moment there is a meeting of minds upon the thing which is the object of the contract and upon the price. From that moment, the parties may reciprocally demand performance, subject to the provisions of the law governing the form of contracts. 16 Art. 1545. Where the obligation of either party to a contract of sale is subject to any condition which is not performed, such party may refuse to proceed with the contract or he may waive performance of the condition. If the other party has promised that the condition should happen or be performed, such first mentioned party may also treat the nonperformance of the condition as a breach of warranty. Where the ownership in the thing has not passed, the buyer may treat the fulfillment by the seller of his obligation to deliver the same as described and as warranted expressly or by implication in the contract of sale as a condition of the obligation of the buyer to perform his promise to accept and pay for the thing. 17 Art. 1182. When the fulfillment of the condition depends upon the sole will of the debtor, the conditional obligation shall be void. If it depends upon chance or upon the will of a third person, the obligation shall take effect in conformity with the provisions of this Code. 18 Decision, p. 17. 19 See Osmea vs. Rama, 14 Phil. 99.

20 See: Intestate Estate of the Late Ricardo P. Presbitero, Sr. v. Court of Appeals, 217 SCRA 372. 21 In Boysaw v. Interphil. Promotions, Inc. (148 SCRA 635, 643), the Court has said: "The power to rescind is given to the injured party. 'Where the plaintiff is the party who did not perform the undertaking which he was bound by the terms of the agreement to perform, he is not entitled to insist upon the performance of the contract by the defendant, or recover damages by reason of his own breach.'" 22 Deiparine, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 221 SCRA 503, 513 citing Universal Food Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 33 SCRA 1. 23 See Ocampo v. Court of Appeals, supra. Art. 1592 states: "In the sale of immovable property, even though it may have been stipulated that upon failure to pay the price at the time agreed upon the rescission of the contract shall of right take place, the vendee may pay, even after the expiration of the period, as long as no demand for rescission of the contract has been made upon him either judicially or by a notarial act. After the demand, the court may not grant him a new term."

FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 97347. July 6, 1999]

JAIME G. ONG, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, SPOUSES MIGUEL K. ROBLES and ALEJANDRO M. ROBLES, respondents. DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari from the judgment rendered by the Court of Appeals which, except as to the award of exemplary damages, affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City, Branch 60, setting aside the Agreement of Purchase and Sale entered into by herein petitioner and private respondent spouses in Civil Case No. 85-85. On May 10, 1983, petitioner Jaime Ong, on the one hand, and respondent spouses Miguel K. Robles and Alejandra Robles, on the other hand, executed an Agreement of Purchase and Sale respecting two parcels of land situated at Barrio Puri, San Antonio, Quezon. The terms and conditions of the contract read:
1. That for and in consideration of the agreed purchase price of TWO MILLION PESOS (P2,000,000.00), Philippine currency, the mode and manner of payment is as follows: A. The initial payment of SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P600,000.00) as verbally agreed by the parties, shall be broken down as follows: 1. P103,499.91 shall be paid, and as already paid by the BUYER to the SELLERS on March 22, 1983, as stipulated under the Certification of undertaking dated March 22, 1983 and covered by a check voucher of even date. 2. That the sum of P496,500.09 shall be paid directly by the BUYER to the Bank of Philippine Islands to answer for the loan of the SELLERS which as of March 15, 1983 amounted to P537,310.10, and for the interest that may accrued (sic) from March 15, 1983, up to the time said obligation of the SELLERS with the said bank has been settled, provided however that the amount in excess of P496,500.09, shall be chargeable from the time deposit of the SELLERS with the aforesaid bank. B. That the balance of ONE MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND (P1,400,000.00) PESOS shall be paid by the BUYER to the SELLERS in four (4) equal quarterly installments of THREE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P350,000.00), the first to be due and payable on June 15, 1983, and every quarter thereafter, until the whole amount is fully paid, by these presents promise to sell to said BUYER the two (2) parcels of agricultural land including the rice mill and the piggery which are the most notable improvements thereon, situated at Barangay Puri, San Antonio Quezon, x x x. 2. That upon the payment of the total purchase price by the BUYER the SELLERS bind themselves to deliver to the former a good and sufficient deed of

sale and conveyance for the described two (2) parcels of land, free and clear from all liens and encumbrances. 3. That immediately upon the execution of this document, the SELLERS shall deliver, surrender and transfer possession of the said parcels of land including all the improvements that may be found thereon, to the BUYER, and the latter shall take over from the SELLER the possession, operation, control and management of the RICEMILL and PIGGERY found on the aforesaid parcels of land. 4. That all payments due and payable under this contract shall be effected in the residence of the SELLERS located at Barangay Puri, San Antonio, Quezon unless another place shall have been subsequently designated by both parties in writing.

xxx

xxx

x x x.[1]

On May 15, 1983, petitioner Ong took possession of the subject parcels of land together with the piggery, building, ricemill, residential house and other improvements thereon. Pursuant to the contract they executed, petitioner paid respondent spouses the sum of P103,499.91[2] by depositing it with the United Coconut Planters Bank. Subsequently, petitioner deposited sums of money with the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI),[3] in accordance with their stipulation that petitioner pay the loan of respondents with BPI. To answer for his balance of P1,400,000.00 petitioner issued four (4) post-dated Metro Bank checks payable to respondent spouses in the amount of P350,0000.00 each, namely: Check No. 157708 dated June 15, 1983,[4] Check No. 157709 dated September 15,1983,[5] Check No. 157710 dated December 15, 1983[6] and Check No. 157711 dated March 15, 1984.[7] When presented for payment, however, the checks were dishonored due to insufficient funds. Petitioner promised to replace the checks but failed to do so. To make matters worse, out of the P496,500.00 loan of respondent spouses with the Bank of the Philippine Islands, which petitioner, as per agreement, should have paid, petitioner only managed to dole out no more than P393,679.60. When the bank threatened to foreclose the respondent spouses mortgage,

they sold three transformers of the rice mill worth P51,411.00 to pay off their outstanding obligation with said bank, with the knowledge and conformity of petitioner.[8] Petitioner, in return, voluntarily gave the spouses authority to operate the rice mill. [9] He, however, continued to be in possession of the two parcels of land while private respondents were forced to use the rice mill for residential purposes. On August 2, 1985, respondent spouses, through counsel, sent petitioner a demand letter asking for the return of the properties. Their demand was left unheeded, so, on September 2, 1985, they filed with the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City, Branch 60, a complaint for rescission of contract and recovery of properties with damages. Later, while the case was still pending with the trial court, petitioner introduced major improvements on the subject properties by constructing a complete fence made of hollow blocks and expanding the piggery. These prompted the respondent spouses to ask for a writ of preliminary injunction.[10] The trial court granted the application and enjoined petitioner from introducing improvements on the properties except for repairs.[11] On June 1, 1989 the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered: a) Ordering that the contract entered into by plaintiff spouses Miguel K. Robles and Alejandra M. Robles and the defendant, Jaime Ong captioned Agreement of Purchase and Sale, marked as Exhibit A set aside; b) Ordering defendant, Jaime Ong to deliver the two (2) parcels of land which are the subject matter of Exhibit A together with the improvements thereon to the spouses Miguel K. Robles and Alejandro M. Robles; c) Ordering plaintiff spouses, Miguel Robles and Alejandra Robles to return to Jaime Ong the sum of P497,179.51; d) Ordering defendant Jaime Ong to pay the plaintiffs the sum of P100,000.00 as exemplary damages; and e) Ordering defendant Jaime Ong to pay the plaintiffs spouses Miguel K. Robles

and Alejandra Robles the sum of P20,000.00 as attorneys fees and litigation expenses. The motion of the plaintiff spouses Miguel K. Roles and Alejandra Robles for the appointment of receivership is rendered moot and academic. SO ORDERED.[12]

From this decision, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court but deleted the award of exemplary damages. In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals noted that the failure of petitioner to completely pay the purchase price is a substantial breach of his obligation which entitles the private respondents to rescind their contract under Article 1191 of the New Civil Code. Hence, the instant petition. At the outset, it must be stated that the issues raised by the petitioner are generally factual in nature and were already passed upon by the Court of Appeals and the trial court. Time and again, we have stated that it is not the function of the Supreme Court to assess and evaluate all over again the evidence, testimonial and documentary, adduced by the parties to an appeal, particularly where, such as in the case at bench, the findings of both the trial court and the appellate court on the matter coincide. There is no cogent reason shown that would justify the court to discard the factual findings of the two courts below and to superimpose its own.[13] The only pertinent legal issues raised which are worthy of discussion are: (1) whether the contract entered into by the parties may be validly rescinded under Article 1191 of the New Civil Code; and (2) whether the parties had novated their original contract as to the time and manner of payment. Petitioner contends that Article 1191 of the New Civil Code is not applicable since he has already paid respondent spouses a considerable sum and has therefore substantially complied with his

obligation. He cites Article 1383 instead, to the effect that where specific performance is available as a remedy, rescission may not be resorted to. A discussion of the aforesaid articles is in order. Rescission, as contemplated in Articles 1380, et seq., of the New Civil Code, is a remedy granted by law to the contracting parties and even to third persons, to secure the reparation of damages caused to them by a contract, even if this should be valid, by restoration of things to their condition at the moment prior to the celebration of the contract.[14] It implies a contract, which even if initially valid, produces a lesion or a pecuniary damage to someone.[15] On the other hand, Article 1191 of the New Civil Code refers to rescission applicable to reciprocal obligations. Reciprocal obligations are those which arise from the same cause, and in which each party is a debtor and a creditor of the other, such that the obligation of one is dependent upon the obligation of the other.[16] They are to be performed simultaneously such that the performance of one is conditioned upon the simultaneous fulfillment of the other. Rescission of reciprocal obligations under Article 1191 of the New Civil Code should be distinguished from rescission of contracts under Article 1383. Although both presuppose contracts validly entered into and subsisting and both require mutual restitution when proper, they are not entirely identical. While Article 1191 uses the term rescission, the original term which was used in the old Civil Code, from which the article was based, was resolution.[17] Resolution is a principal action which is based on breach of a party, while rescission under Article 1383 is a subsidiary action limited to cases of rescission for lesion under Article 1381 of the New Civil Code, which expressly enumerates the following rescissible contracts:

1. Those which are entered into by guardians whenever the wards whom they represent suffer lesion by more than one fourth of the value of the things which are the object thereof; 2. Those agreed upon in representation of absentees, if the latter suffer the lesion stated in the preceding number; 3. Those undertaken in fraud of creditors when the latter cannot in any manner collect the claims due them; 4. Those which refer to things under litigation if they have been entered into by the defendant without the knowledge and approval of the litigants or of competent judicial authority; 5. All other contracts specially declared by law to be subject to rescission.

Obviously, the contract entered into by the parties in the case at bar does not fall under any of those mentioned by Article 1381. Consequently, Article 1383 is inapplicable. May the contract entered into between the parties, however, be rescinded based on Article 1191? A careful reading of the parties Agreement of Purchase and Sale shows that it is in the nature of a contract to sell, as distinguished from a contract of sale. In a contract of sale, the title to the property passes to the vendee upon the delivery of the thing sold; while in a contract to sell, ownership is, by agreement, reserved in the vendor and is not to pass to the vendee until full payment of the purchase price.[18] In a contract to sell, the payment of the purchase price is a positive suspensive condition, the failure of which is not a breach, casual or serious, but a situation that prevents the obligation of the vendor to convey title from acquiring an obligatory force.[19] Respondents in the case at bar bound themselves to deliver a deed of absolute sale and clean title covering the two parcels of

land upon full payment by the buyer of the purchase price of P2,000,000.00. This promise to sell was subject to the fulfillment of the suspensive condition of full payment of the purchase price by the petitioner. Petitioner, however, failed to complete payment of the purchase price. The non-fulfillment of the condition of full payment rendered the contract to sell ineffective and without force and effect. It must be stressed that the breach contemplated in Article 1191 of the New Civil Code is the obligors failure to comply with an obligation already extant, not a failure of a condition to render binding that obligation.[20] Failure to pay, in this instance, is not even a breach but merely an event which prevents the vendors obligation to convey title from acquiring binding force.[21] Hence, the agreement of the parties in the case at bench may be set aside, but not because of a breach on the part of petitioner for failure to complete payment of the purchase price. Rather, his failure to do so brought about a situation which prevented the obligation of respondent spouses to convey title from acquiring an obligatory force. Petitioner insists, however, that the contract was novated as to the manner and time of payment. We are not persuaded. Article 1292 of the New Civil Code states that, In order that an obligation may be extinguished by another which substitutes the same, it is imperative that it be so declared in unequivocal terms, or that the old and the new obligations be on every point incompatible with each other. Novation is never presumed, it must be proven as a fact either by express stipulation of the parties or by implication derived from an irreconcilable incompatibility between the old and the new obligation.[22] Petitioner cites the following instances as proof that the contract was novated: the retrieval of the transformers from petitioners custody and their sale by the respondents to MERALCO on the condition that the proceeds thereof be accounted for by the respondents and deducted from the price of

the contract; the take-over by the respondents of the custody and operation of the rice mill; and the continuous and regular withdrawals by respondent Miguel Robles of installment sums per vouchers (Exhs. 8 to 47) on the condition that these installments be credited to petitioners account and deducted from the balance of the purchase price. Contrary to petitioners claim, records show that the parties never even intended to novate their previous agreement. It is true that petitioner paid respondents small sums of money amounting to P48,680.00, in contravention of the manner of payment stipulated in their contract. These installments were, however, objected to by respondent spouses, and petitioner replied that these represented the interest of the principal amount which he owed them.[23] Records further show that petitioner agreed to the sale of MERALCO transformers by private respondents to pay for the balance of their subsisting loan with the Bank of Philippine Islands. Petitioners letter of authorization reads:
x x x xxx xxx Under this authority, it is mutually understood that whatever payment received from MERALCO as payment to the transformers will be considered as partial payment of the undersigneds obligation to Mr. and Mrs. Miguel K. Robles. The same will be utilized as partial payment to existing loan with the Bank of Philippine Islands.

It is also mutually understood that this payment to the Bank of Philippine Islands will be reimbursed to Mr. and Mrs. Miguel K. Robles by the undersigned. [Underscoring supplied][24] It should be noted that while it was agreed that part of the purchase price in the sum of P496,500.00 would be directly deposited by petitioner to the Bank of Philippine Islands to answer for the loan of respondent spouses, petitioner only managed to deposit P393,679.60. When the bank threatened to foreclose the

properties, petitioner apparently could not even raise the sum needed to forestall any action on the part of the bank. Consequently, he authorized respondent spouses to sell the three (3) transformers. However, although the parties agreed to credit the proceeds from the sale of the transformers to petitioners obligation, he was supposed to reimburse the same later to respondent spouses. This can only mean that there was never an intention on the part of either of the parties to novate petitioners manner of payment. Petitioner contends that the parties verbally agreed to novate the manner of payment when respondent spouses proposed to operate the rice mill on the condition that they will account for its earnings. We find that this is unsubstantiated by the evidence on record. The tenor of his letter dated August 12, 1984 to respondent spouses, in fact, shows that petitioner had a little misunderstanding with respondent spouses whom he was evidently trying to appease by authorizing them to continue temporarily with the operation of the rice mill. Clearly, while petitioner might have wanted to novate the original agreement as to his manner of payment, the records are bereft of evidence that respondent spouses willingly agreed to modify their previous arrangement. In order for novation to take place, the concurrence of the following requisites is indispensable: (1) there must be a previous valid obligation; (2) there must be an agreement of the parties concerned to a new contract; (3) there must be the extinguishment of the old contract; and (4) there must be the validity of the new contract.[25] The aforesaid requisites are not found in the case at bench. The subsequent acts of the parties hardly demonstrate their intent to dissolve the old obligation as a consideration for the emergence of the new one. We repeat to the point of triteness, novation is never presumed, there must be an express intention to novate.

As regards the improvements introduced by petitioner to the premises and for which he claims reimbursement, we see no reason to depart from the ruling of the trial court and the appellate court that petitioner is a builder in bad faith. He introduced the improvements on the premises knowing fully well that he has not paid the consideration of the contract in full and over the vigorous objections of respondent spouses. Moreover, petitioner introduced major improvements on the premises even while the case against him was pending before the trial court. The award of exemplary damages was correctly deleted by the Court of Appeals inasmuch as no moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages in addition to exemplary damages were awarded. WHEREFORE, the decision rendered by the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that respondent spouses are ordered to return to petitioner the sum of P48,680.00 in addition to the amounts already awarded. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Melo, Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur.