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Angelica P.

Bautista

Fil-estate vs Fil- Ronquillo

Facts: Petitioner Fil-estate, owner and developer of the Centr4al Park Place Tower,
while co-petitioner Fil-estate Network, Inc. is its authorized marketing agent.
Repondents Spouses Conrado and Maria Vicotria Ronquillo purchased from
petitioners an 82-square meter condominium unit at the Central Park Place Tower in
Mandaluyong City for a pre-selling contract price of five million one hundred
seventy-four thousand pesos only (P5,174,000.00). On August 29, 1997,
respondents entered into a reservation agreement wherein they deposited P200,
000.00 as reservation fee. Respondents paid the full downpayment of
P1,552,200.00 and had been paying the P63,363.33 monthly amortizations until
September 1998.
Respondents also stopped paying their monthly amortization when they learned
that construction works stopped. Claiming to have paid a total of P2,198,949.96 to
petitioners, respondents demanded a full refund of their payment with interest.
When their demands went unheeded, respondents were constrained to file a
Complaint for Refund and Damages before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
Board (HLURB). Respondents prayed for refund of P2,198,949.96 representing the
total amortization payments, P200,000.00 as and by way of moral damages,
attorneys fees and other litigation expenses.
The HLURB issued an Order of Default against petitioners for failing to file their
answer within the reglementary period despite service of summons.
Petitioners filed a motion to lift order of default and attached their position paper
attributing the delay in construction to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Petitioners
denied committing fraud or misrepresentation which could entitle respondents to an
award of moral damages.
The HLURB rendered judgment ordering petitioners to jointly and severally pay
respondents the amount of Two million one hundred ninety-eight thousand nine
hundred forty nine pesos & 96/100 (P2,198,949.96), as well as the attorneys fees,
costs of suit and administrative fine.
The Arbiter considered petitioners failure to develop the condominium project as a
substantial breach of their obligation which entitles respondents to seek for
rescission with payment of damages. He also stated that mere economic hardship is
not an excuse for contractual and legal delay.

The HLURB reiterated that the depreciation of the peso as a result of the Asian
financial crisis is not a fortuitous event which will exempt petitioners from the
performance of their contractual obligation.
After the exhaustion of the remedies available, petitioners sought relief from the
Court of Appeals through a petition for review under Rule 43 containing the same
arguments they raised before the HLURB and the Office of the President but was
denied for lack of merit.
The appellate court agreed to the HLURB Arbiters ruling. The appellate court
supported the HLURB Arbiters conclusion, which was affirmed by the HLURB and
the Office of the President, that petitioners failure to develop the condominium
project is tantamount to a substantial breach which warrants a refund of the total
amount paid, including interest. The appellate court pointed out that petitioners
failed to prove that the Asian financial crisis constitutes a fortuitous event which
could excuse them from the performance of their contractual and statutory
obligations.
Petitioners sought reconsideration but it was denied by the Court of Appeals.
Aggrieved, petitioners filed the instant petition advancing substantially the same
grounds for review.
ISSUE: Whether or not the Asian financial crisis constitute a fortuitous event which
would justify delay by petitioners in the performance of their contractual obligation.
Ruling: It is apparent that these issues were repeatedly raised by petitioners in all
the legal fora. The rulings were consistent that first, the Asian financial crisis is not a
fortuitous event that would excuse petitioners from performing their contractual
obligation; second, as a result of the breach committed by petitioners, respondents
are entitled to rescind the contract and to be refunded the amount of amortizations
paid including interest and damages and third petitioners are likewise obligated to
pay attorneys fees and the administrative fine.
This petition did not present any justification for us to deviate from the rulings of the
HLURB, the Office of the President and the Court of appeals.
Indeed, the non-performance of petitioners obligation entitles respondents to
rescission under Article 1191 of the New Civil Code which states: Article 1191. The
power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal ones, in case one of the obligors
should not comply with what is incumbent upon him. The injured party may choose
between the fulfillment and the rescission of the obligation, with payment of
damages in either case. He may also seek rescission, even after he has chosen
fulfillment, I the latter should become impossible.

Conformably with these provisions of law, respondents are entitled to rescind the
contract and demand reimbursement for the payments they had made to
petitioners.