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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

72873 May 28, 1987 CARLOS ALONZO and CASIMIRA ALONZO, petitioners,  vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and TECLA PADUA, respondents. Perpetuo L.B. Alonzo for petitioners. Luis R. Reyes for private respondent.   CRUZ, J.: The question is sometimes asked, in serious inquiry or in curious conjecture, wh ether we are a court of law or a court of justice. Do we apply the law even if i t is unjust or do we administer justice even against the law? Thus queried, we d o not equivocate. The answer is that we do neither because we are a court both of la w and of justice. We apply the law with justice for that is our mission and purpose in the scheme of our Republic. This case is an illustration. Five brothers and sisters inherited in equal pro indiviso shares a parcel of land re gistered in 'the name of their deceased parents under OCT No. 10977 of the Regis try of Deeds of Tarlac. 1 On March 15, 1963, one of them, Celestino Padua, transferred his undivided share of the herein petitioners for the sum of P550.00 by way of absolute sale. 2 One yea r later, on April 22, 1964, Eustaquia Padua, his sister, sold her own share to t he same vendees, in an instrument denominated "Con Pacto de Retro Sale," for the sum of P 440.00. 3 By virtue of such agreements, the petitioners occupied, after the said sales, an area corresponding to two-fifths of the said lot, representing the portions sol d to them. The vendees subsequently enclosed the same with a fence. In 1975, wit h their consent, their son Eduardo Alonzo and his wife built a semi-concrete hou se on a part of the enclosed area. 4 On February 25, 1976, Mariano Padua, one of the five coheirs, sought to redeem t he area sold to the spouses Alonzo, but his complaint was dismissed when it appe ared that he was an American citizen . 5 On May 27, 1977, however, Tecla Padua, anot her co-heir, filed her own complaint invoking the same right of redemption claim ed by her brother. 6 The trial court * also dismiss this complaint, now on the ground that the right had lapsed, not having been exercised within thirty days from notice of the sales in 1963 and 1964. Although there was no written notice, it was held that actual knowle dge of the sales by the co-heirs satisfied the requirement of the law. 7 In truth, such actual notice as acquired by the co-heirs cannot be plausibly den ied. The other co-heirs, including Tecla Padua, lived on the same lot, which con sisted of only 604 square meters, including the portions sold to the petitioners . 8 Eustaquia herself, who had sold her portion, was staying in the same house with her sister Tecla, who later claimed redemption petition. 9 Moreover, the petitioner s and the private respondents were close friends and neighbors whose children we nt to school together. 10 It is highly improbable that the other co-heirs were unaware of the sales and th at they thought, as they alleged, that the area occupied by the petitioners had merely been mortgaged by Celestino and Eustaquia. In the circumstances just narr ated, it was impossible for Tecla not to know that the area occupied by the peti tioners had been purchased by them from the other. co-heirs. Especially signific ant was the erection thereon of the permanent semi-concrete structure by the pet itioners' son, which was done without objection on her part or of any of the oth er co-heirs. The only real question in this case, therefore, is the correct interpretation an d application of the pertinent law as invoked, interestingly enough, by both the petitioners and the private respondents. This is Article 1088 of the Civil Code , providing as follows: Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger befo

to wit. stressed the need for written notice although no part icular form was required. for we presume the good motives of the legislature. Strictly applied and interpreted. by Justice Holmes again. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be exercised e xcept within thirty days from the notice in writing by the prospective vendor. Reyes. according to Justice J. As judges. But as has also been aptly observed. emphasized that the written notice should be given by the vendor and not the vendees. It is a cardinal rule that. "where these word s import a policy that goes beyond them. as the case may be. 1623. in slavish obedience to their language. What we do instead is find a balance between the word and the will. we nevertheless have the right to read out of it the reason for its enactme nt. We do not and must not unfeelingly apply the l aw as it is worded. who was the ponente of the Court." he declared.e. conformably to a similar requirement under Article 1623. that justice may be done even as the law is obeyed. UY. is to render justice. the respondent court held that that decision. Law and justice are the partition. as t he latter (i.. The deed of sale shall not be recorded in the Registry of Property. much less expired in 1977. Article 1088 can lead to only one conclus ion. " In the earlier decision of Butte v." so we are warned. provided they do so within the period of one month from the time they were notified in writing of th e sale by the vendor. we test a law by its results.L. "Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to t he words of a law. unless accompanied by an affidavit of the vendor that he has given written notice thereof to all possible redemptioners. we are not automatons. any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale. we are not bound." 13 While we admittedly may not legislate. there are some laws that. To be sure. by its purposes.B. in fact. The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of the adjoining owners. In doing so. "the thirty days for redemption start running. and we must keep them so. the first concern of the judge should be to discover in its provisi ons the in tent of the lawmaker. while generally valid. we may add. While we may not read into the law a purpose that is no t there. Citing the same case of De Conejero v. Thus. the redemptioner) is informed in writing of the sale and the pa rticulars thereof. Thus. that in view of such deficiency. we nevertheless have the power to interpret the law in such a way as to reflect the will of the legislature. therefore. speaking through the same lear ned jurist. As "it is thus apparent that the Philippine legislature in Article 1623 delibera tely selected a particular method of giving notice. Unquestionably. Court of Appeals 11 applied b y the trial court. the law should never be interpr eted in such a way as to cause injustice as this is never within the legislative intent. furnishin g the co-heirs with a copy of the deed of sale of the property subject to redemp tion would satisfy the requirement for written notice. In such a situatio n. we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance with justice. interpreting a like rule in Article 1623. "So long. the 30 day period for redemption h ad not begun to run. readi ng as follows: Art. o r by the vendors. because only of our nature and functions. in seeking the meaning of the law. The petition before us appears to be an illustration of the Holmes dictum that " hard cases make bad laws" as the petitioners obviously cannot argue against the fact that there was really no written notice given by the vendors to their co-he irs. the respondent court ** declared that the notice requi red by the said article was writtennotice and that actual notice would not suffice as a substitute. may seem arbitrary when applie d in a particular case because of its peculiar circumstances." the Court held that notice given by the vendees and not the vendor would not toll the running of the 30-day period. yielding like robots to the literal command without regard t o its cause and consequence. and likewise. 12 " the Court. An indispensable part of that intent. we defer not to "the letter that killeth" but to "the spirit th . and that notice must be deem ed exclusive. In reversing the trial court. to apply them jus t the same.

For what is within the spirit is within the letter but although it is not within the letter thereo f. Stated differently. when the first complaint for redemption was filed. This definitely was not the act of a temporary possessor or a mere mortgagee. a thing which is within the intent of the lawmak er is as much within the statute as if within the letter. when did the 30-day period of redemption begin? While we do not here declare that this period started from the dates of such sal es in 1963 and 1964. Was there a valid notice? Granting that the law requires the notice to be writte n. Yet. to pinpoint the precise da te it is supposed to begin. should enclose a portion of the inherited lot and build thereon a house of strong materials. It took all of thirteen years before one of them chose to claim the right of redempt ion. Now. although n ot in writing. we are deviating from the s . we would be closing o ur eyes to the obvious truth in favor of their palpably false claim of ignorance . would there be any question that the 30-day pe riod for redemption had expired long before the complaint was filed in 1977? In the face of the established facts. hen ce. in other words. Considering the shortness of t he period. We realize that in arriving at our conclusion today. By 1977. when none of the co-heirs made a move to redeem the properties sold. as a general rule. who were not among them. thirteen years after the first sale and fourteen ye ars after the second sale. Article 1088 seeks to ensure that the redemptioner is properly notified of the sale and to indicate the date of such notice as the starting time of the 30-day period of redemption. assuming of course that there was a valid notice that tolled the running of the period of redemption. and that which is within the letter but not within the spirit is not within t he statute. The delay invoked by the petitioners extends to more than a decade. By requiring written proof of such notice. The spirit. would such notice be necessary in this case? Assuming there was a valid notic e although it was not in writing. to obviate any problem of alleged delays. This could have happened any time during the interval of thirt een years. but then it was already too late." to give effect to the law maker's will. 15 It was the perfectly natural thing for the co-heirs to wonder why the spouses Al onzo. to ascertain the facts. thus exalting the letter of the law over its purpose. we cannot accept the private respondents' pretense that they were unaware of the sales made by their brother and sister in 1963 and 1964. it is really necessary. he will be chargeable with lache s. the right of rede mption had already been extinguished because the period for its exercise had alr eady expired. The complaint was f iled by Tecla Padua in 1977. but the party neglects to make it. of the sales made in 1963 and 1964. and a thing which is w ithin the letter of the statute is not within the statute unless within the inte nt of the lawmakers. We are satisfied tha t in this case the other brothers and sisters were actually informed. none of the co-heirs saw fit to ob ject or at least inquire. The following doctrine is also worth noting: While the general rule is. 14 In requiring written notice. the other co-heirs were actually i nformed of the sale and that thereafter the 30-day period started running and ul timately expired. which were readily available. we do say that sometime between those years and 1976. given this unseemly situation. sometimes consisting of only a day or two. yet if the circumstances were such as should have i nduced inquiry. when Tecla Padua filed her complaint. the same as if he had known the facts. rather than the letter of a statute determines its vivifieth. The purpose is clear eno ugh: to make sure that the redemptioners are duly notified. The instant case presents no such problem because the right of redemption was in voked not days but years after the sales were made in 1963 and 1964. that to charge a party with laches in the assertion o f an alleged right it is essential that he should have knowledge of the facts up on which he bases his claim. and that such notice was suff icient. a statute must be read according to its spirit or intent. This certainly looked like an act of o wnership. and the means of ascertaining the truth were readily available u pon inquiry.

citing Manila Race Horse Trainers' Assn. The co-heirs in this case were undeniably informed of the sales although no noti ce in writing was given them. City of Iloilo. p. without any pronouncement as to costs. Lorenzo F. Thus when the facts warrants. 8 Id. 1986.S. 11 16 SCRA 775. 9 Id. 128. Ruben E. in view of the peculiar circumstances of this case. and this should be clearly stressed. p." 16 That wish continues to motivate this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in every case brought to it for dec ision. p. . 23 Phil. Purisima. 86 SCRA 542. 3 Id. Fernan and Feliciano. C. 277 U. Go Chi v. 14 Statutory Construction. 88 Phil. Caguioa. Miravite. Smith 245 111. pp. 12 4 SCRA 527. are on leave. 60. More than twenty centuries ago. 33 SCRA 105. pr. It is so ordered. Collector of Customs. Footnotes 1 Rollo. In fact. The said court acted properly as it had no compet ence to reverse the doctrines laid down by this Court in the above-cited cases. 7 Id. Yap. Padilla. ponente. which the respondent court understandably applied pursu ant to existing jurisprudence.. as cited in Handbook for Roman Law. . 26 SCRA 578: People v. Narvasa. Go Cho. US v . These are the justifications for this exception. 10 Id. U.S. 64. 13 Dissenting in Olmstead v. 26. 96 Phil. 2 Ibid. Hidalgo.trict letter of the law. Villanueva v. Paras. JJ. 1. Jr. Melencio-Herrera Gutierrez. 64. p. p. v. p. 5. De la Fuente.. 65. 14 Phil. 21 6 Id. Quetulio-Losa & Luciano. that the law be dis pensed with justice. 64-65. Gancayco. WHEREFORE.. 15 Ater v. 39. Go Chico. What we are doing simply is adopting an exce ption to the general rule.J. we interpret the law in a way that will render justice. Agpalo. 57. 5 Id. Justice is always an essential ingredient of its decisions. JJ. P. 1981.J. without the co-heirs exercising thei r right of redemption. So we have done in this case. p.. And there is no doubt either that the 30-day perio d began and ended during the 14 years between the sales in question and the fili ng of the complaint for redemption in 1977. concur.. Teehankee. Sarmiento and Cortes. p. the petition is granted. 315. presumi ng that it was the intention of the lawmaker. Roa v. Francisco. Hidalgo v. ** Gaviola. Justinian defined justice "as the constant and p erpetual wish to render every one his due. 5. p. JJ. to begin with. Cases 105.. p. 21. * Presided by Judge Cezar D. 16 Institutes 1. we ourselves are not abandoning th e De Conejero and Buttle doctrines. 438. 19 Am. Bidin. 6 22. Jr. 6.. The decision of the respondent court is REVE RSED and that of the trial court is reinstated.