Ophelia Tuatis v.

Spouses Eliseo and Visminda Escol; Court of Appeals, RTC Branch 11, Sindangan, Zamboanga Del Norte and its Sheriff Facts: • Tuatis filed a Complaint for Specific Performance against respondent Visminda alleging that sometime in November 1989, Visminda as seller and Tuatis as buyer entered into a Deed of Sale of a Part of a Registered Land by Installment upon a piece of real property located at Poblacion, Sindangan, Zamboanga Del Norte, with an area of 300 square meters more or less, for and in consideration of P10,000. • The said of Deed of Sale stated the schedule of payments to be made by Tuatis in the following wise: P3000 as downpayment, P4000 on/before 31 December 1989 and P3000 on/before 31 January 1990. In No. 4 of the stipulations in the Deed of Sale, it was stated that should Tuatis fail to pay the remaining balance within the period of three months from the period stipulated in the contract, she shall return the land to Visminda who, in turn, shall return all the amounts paid thus far. • Tuatis claimed that she has paid P3000 as downpayment, another P3000 on 19 December 1989, P1000 on 27 February 1990 and the remaining P3000 in the presence of Eric Selda, a clerk in the law office of one Atty. Selda evidenced by a certification executed by Eric on 26 May 1996. In the meantime, Tuatis already took possession of the subject property and constructed a residential building thereon. • In 1996, Tuatis requested Visminda to sign a prepared absolute deed of sale but the latter refused contending that the purchase price had not yet been fully paid. Tuatis contended that Visminda failed and refused to sign the absolute deed of sale without any valid reason. Visminda countered that except for the downpayment and the P1000 installment paid to her, Tuatis made no other payments despite repeated verbal demands upon the latter.

• The RTC rendered a decision in Visminda’s favor stating that No. 4 of the stipulations applies in this case because the evidence shows that the price had not been fully paid. The RTC further stated that Tuatis constructed the building in bad faith because she knew that Visminda was still the absolute owner of the land. On the other hand, Visminda was also in bad faith because she allowed Tuatis to construct the said building and occupy it without any opposition on her part; hence, the rights of the parties are governed by Art. 4481 of the Civil Code. The RTC decreed the dismissal of Tuatis’ Complaint for lack of merit, the return by Tuatis of physical possession of the subject property to Visminda, and the return by Visminda of the P4,000.00 she received from Tuatis. • Tuatis raised the case on appeal to the CA. However, the CA dismissed the appeal for failure of Tuatis to serve and file her appellant’s brief within the period allowed. The RTC decision became final and executory. Visminda then filed a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution before the RTC which was granted. • Tuatis thereafter filed before the RTC a Motion to Exercise Right under Article 448 of the Civil Code praying that the RTC issue an order allowing her to buy the subject property from Visminda opining that while she indeed have the obligation to pay the price of the property, such should not be imposed if the value of the property was considerably more than the value of the building constructed thereon. She alleged that her building was valued at P502,073 while the entire 4.0144 hectare land of which the subject 300 square meter property was a part was only about P27,000. Tuatis maintained that she then had the right to choose between being indemnified for the value of her residential building or buying the parcel of land. • The Writ of Execution earlier granted was enforced prompting Tuatis to file with the CA a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus seeking the annulment of the order granting the Writ of Execution. The CA dismissed outright Tuatis’ petition for failure to completely pay the required docket fees, to attach a certified true or authenticated copy of the assailed RTC Order and to indicate the place of issue of her counsel’s IBP and PTR Official Receipts. Tuatis’ Motion for Reconsideration and Motion for Leave to File a Second Motion for Recon1 Art 448: “The owner of the land on which anything has been built, sown or planted in good faith, shall have the right to appropriate as his own the works, sowing or planting, after payment of the indemnity provided for in articles 546 and 548, or to oblige the one who built or planted to pay the price of the land, and the one who sowed, the proper rent. However, the builder or planter cannot be obliged to buy the land if its value is considerably more than that of the building or trees. In such case, he shall pay reasonable rent, if the owner of the land does not choose to appropriate the building or trees after proper indemnity. The parties shall agree upon the terms of the lease and in case of disagreement, the court shall fix the terms thereof. (361a)

It is a far better and more prudent course of action for the court to excuse a technical lapse and afford the parties a review of the case on appeal to attain the ends of justice rather than dispose of the case on technicality and cause a grave injustice to the parties. as provided in Article 546 of the Civil Code. that it is simply clarifying the obviously deficient decretal portion of the decision. Tuatis’ procedural/technical lapses must be excused • It is true that Tuatis committed several procedural mistakes violative of Sec. However. rather than frustrate the ends of justice. The P10. RTC is directed to conduct further proceedings to determine the proper application of Art. instead. The court stressed that is is not changing or reversing any findings of fact and law of the RTC decision. Visminda may appropriate for herself the building on the subject property after indemnifying Tuatis for the necessary and useful expenses the latter incurred for said building. Until Visminda appropriately indemnifies Tuatis for the building constructed by the latter. of the procedural defects of Tuatis’ Petition Article 448 must be applied • The court noted that while the RTC stated that the rights of the parties in this case are governed by Art. Tuatis may retain possession of the building and the subject property. oblige Tuatis to pay the present or current fair value of the land. • Rules of procedure are intended to promote. Rule 46 of the Rules of Court that would have. • Despite the fact that the aforementioned decision had already become final and executory. the court stated that where there is an ambiguity caused by an omission or a mistake in the dispositive portion of the decision. • In this case. 448. 448 upon Visminda Escol’s choice of option under the same provision. CA. the Court said that it doesn’t mean that dismissal is automatic in each instance of non-compliance. 448 be applied in the instant case? (Yes) Ruling and Reasoning: Petition granted. 448 must be applied in this case. even after the RTC Decision dated 29 April 1999 had already become final and executory. Hence. warranted the dismissal of her Petition before the CA.sideration were likewise denied by the CA. this Court cannot be precluded from making the necessary amendment thereof. Therefore. the Court finds that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in focusing on the procedural deficiencies of Tuatis’ Petition and completely turning a blind eye to the merits of the same. likewise. the instant petition principally arguing that Art. • Taking into consideration the provisions of the Deed of Sale by Installment and Article 448 of the Civil Code. ordinarily. 4 of the stipulations in the Deed of Sale by ordering Tuatis to return physical possession of the land and Visminda to return the P4000 she received as payment. Visminda has the following options: • Under the first option. pro hac vice. 546 should be the current market value of the improvement in order to prevent unjust enrichment. . The decretal part of the judgment was limited to implementing No. the Court pronounced that the amount to be refunded to the builder under Art. while the last paragraph of the said Section states that non-compliance with any of the requirements set forth therein shall constitute sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition. her subsequent motions for reconsideration/motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration? (Yes) Principal Issue: Should Art. RTC Resolution granting the Writ of Execution. • Under the second option. The peculiar circumstances of the present case and the interest of substantial justice justify the setting aside. Preliminary Procedural Issue: Did the CA act with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing outright her petition and.000. In Pecson v. the Writ itself and the actions undertaken by the respondent Sheriff to enforce the Writ are annulled and set aside. Visminda may choose not to appropriate the building and. the Court may clarify such an ambiguity by an amendment even after the judgment has become final. so that the fallo will conform to the body of the said decision. 3.00 price of the subject property. the dispositive of its decision failed to make an adjudication on their rights under the said provision.

The landowner cannot refuse to exercise either option and compel instead the owner of the building to remove it from the land. is preclusive. Even as the option lies with the landowner. The court highlighted that the options under Art. or (b) under the second option. since Visminda will be obliging Tuatis to pay for the price of the land in the exercise of Visminda’s rights under Article 448 of the Civil Code. the RTC should determine which of the aforementioned options Visminda will choose.. • There is no basis for Tuatis’ demand that. or the reasonable rent for. Initially. the price of. the value of the subject property vis-à-vis that of the building. otherwise. Subsequently.073. and not under the said Deed.00. the subject property herein. that the accessory follows the principal and not the other way around. • Still under the second option. the RTC should conduct additional proceedings. the grant to him. 448 belongs to the owner of the land is in accord with the principle of accession. if the present or current value of the land. Visminda and Tuatis must agree on the terms of the lease. and depending thereon. Tuatis cannot be obliged to pay for the subject property. the subject property. but she must pay Visminda reasonable rent for the same. which Tuatis must pay Visminda. 448 are available to Visminda as the owner of the property. turns out to be considerably more than that of the building built thereon. i. the RTC should ascertain: (a) under the first option. the court will fix the terms. . she may choose between buying the subject property from Visminda and selling the building to Visminda for P502. the amount of indemnification Visminda must pay Tuatis.as stated in the Deed of Sale on Installment executed in November 1989.e. • The rule that the choice under Art. nevertheless. since the value of the building she constructed is considerably higher than the subject property. shall no longer apply. • Necessarily.

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