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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass.

EN BANC that that sum be divided equally among the plaintiffs and defendant along with the
other property of deceased.
G.R. No. L-9374 February 16, 1915
The defendant denies the material allegations of the complaint and sets up as
FRANCISCO DEL VAL, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, special defense and counterclaim that the redemption of the real estate sold by his
vs. father was made in the name of the plaintiffs and himself instead of in his name
ANDRES DEL VAL, defendant-appellee. alone without his knowledge or consent; and that it was not his intention to use the
proceeds of the insurance policy for the benefit of any person but himself, he
Ledesma, Lim and Irureta Goyena for appellants. alleging that he was and is the sole owner thereof and that it is his individual
O'Brien and DeWitt for appellee. property. He, therefore, asks that he be declared the owner of the real estate
redeemed by the payment of the P18,365.20, the owner of the remaining
P21,634.80, the balance of the insurance policy, and that the plaintiff's account for
the use and occupation of the premises so redeemed since the date of the
This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila
dismissing the complaint with costs.
The learned trial court refused to give relief to either party and dismissed the action.
The pleadings set forth that the plaintiffs and defendant are brother and sisters;
It says in its opinion: "This purports to be an action for partition, brought against an
that they are the only heirs at law and next of kin of Gregorio Nacianceno del Val,
heir by his coheirs. The complaint, however, fails to comply with Code Civ., Pro. sec.
who died in Manila on August 4, 1910, intestate; that an administrator was
183, in that it does not 'contain an adequate description of the real property of
appointed for the estate of the deceased, and, after a partial administration, it was
which partition is demanded.' Because of this defect (which has not been called to
closed and the administrator discharged by order of the Court of First Instance
our attention and was discovered only after the cause was submitted) it is more
dated December 9, 1911; that during the lifetime of the deceased he took out
than doubtful whether any relief can be awarded under the complaint, except by
insurance on his life for the sum of P40,000 and made it payable to the defendant
agreement of all the parties."
as sole beneficiary; that after his death the defendant collected the face of the
policy; that of said policy he paid the sum of P18,365.20 to redeem certain real
estate which the decedent had sold to third persons with a right to repurchase; that This alleged defect of the complaint was made one of the two bases for the
the redemption of said premises was made by the attorney of the defendant in the dismissal of the action.
name of the plaintiff and the defendant as heirs of the deceased vendor; that the
redemption of said premises they have had the use and benefit thereof; that during We do not regard this as sufficient reason for dismissing the action. It is the doctrine
that time the plaintiffs paid no taxes and made no repairs. of this court, set down in several decisions, Lizarraga Hermanos vs. Yap Tico, 24 Phil.
Rep., 504, that, even though the complaint is defective to the extent of failing in
It further appears from the pleadings that the defendant, on the death of the allegations necessary to constitute a cause of action, if, on the trial of the cause,
deceased, took possession of most of his personal property, which he still has in his evidence is offered which establishes the cause of action which the complaint
possession, and that he has also the balance on said insurance policy amounting to intended to allege, and such evidence is received without objection, the defect is
P21,634.80. thereby cured and cannot be made the ground of a subsequent objection. If,
therefore, evidence was introduced on the trial in this case definitely and clearly
describing the real estate sought to be partitioned, the defect in the complaint was
Plaintiffs contend that the amount of the insurance policy belonged to the estate
cured in that regard and should not have been used to dismiss the action. We do
of the deceased and not to the defendant personally; that, therefore, they are
not stop to inquire whether such evidence was or was not introduced on the trial,
entitled to a partition not only of the real and personal property, but also of the
inasmuch as this case must be turned for a new trial with opportunity to both
P40,000 life insurance. The complaint prays a partition of all the property, both real
parties to present such evidence as is necessary to establish their respective claims.
and personal, left by the deceased; that the defendant account for P21,634.80, and

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

The court in its decision further says: "It will be noticed that the provision above The order finally closing the administration and discharging the administrator,
quoted refers exclusively to real estate. . . . It is, in other words, an exclusive real referred to in the opinion of the trial court, has nothing to do with the division of
property action, and the institution thereof gives the court no jurisdiction over either the real or the personal property. The heirs have the right to ask the probate
chattels. . . . But no relief could possibly be granted in this action as to any property court to turn over to them both the real and personal property without division;
except the last (real estate), for the law contemplated that all the personal property and where that request is unanimous it is the duty of the court to comply with it,
of an estate be distributed before the administration is closed. Indeed, it is only in and there is nothing in section 753 of the Code of Civil Procedure which prohibits
exceptional cases that the partition of the real estate is provided for, and this too is it. In such case an order finally settling the estate and discharging the administrator
evidently intended to be effected as a part of the administration, but here the would not bar a subsequent action to require a division of either the real or personal
complaint alleges that the estate was finally closed on December 9, 1911, and we property. If, on the other hand, an order had been made in the administration
find upon referring to the record in that case that subsequent motion to reopen the proceedings dividing the personal or the real property, or both, among the heirs,
same were denied; so that the matter of the personal property at least must be then it is quite possible that, to a subsequent action brought by one of the heirs for
considered res judicata (for the final judgment in the administration proceedings a partition of the real or personal property, or both, there could have been
must be treated as concluding not merely what was adjudicated, but what might interposed a plea of res judicata based on such order. As the matter now stands,
have been). So far, therefore, as the personal property at least is concerned, however, there is no ground on which to base such a plea. Moreover, no such plea
plaintiffs' only remedy was an appeal from said order." has been made and no evidence offered to support it.

We do not believe that the law is correctly laid down in this quotation. The courts With the finding of the trial court that the proceeds of the life-insurance policy
of the Islands have jurisdiction to divide personal property between the common belong exclusively to the defendant as his individual and separate property, we
owners thereof and that power is as full and complete as is the power to partition agree. That the proceeds of an insurance policy belong exclusively to the beneficiary
real property. If an actual partition of personal property cannot be made it will be and not to the estate of the person whose life was insured, and that such proceeds
sold under the direction of the court and the proceeds divided among the owners are the separate and individual property of the beneficiary, and not of the heirs of
after the necessary expenses have been deducted. the person whose life was insured, is the doctrine in America. We believe that the
same doctrine obtains in these Islands by virtue of section 428 of the Code of
The administration of the estate of the decedent consisted simply, so far as the Commerce, which reads:
record shows, in the payment of the debts. No division of the property, either real
or personal, seems to have been made. On the contrary, the property appears, from The amount which the underwriter must deliver to the person insured, in
the record, to have been turned over to the heirs in bulk. The failure to partition fulfillment of the contract, shall be the property of the latter, even against
the real property may have been due either to the lack of request to the court by the claims of the legitimate heirs or creditors of any kind whatsoever of
one or more of the heirs to do so, as the court has no authority to make a partition the person who effected the insurance in favor of the former.
of the real estate without such request; or it may have been due to the fact that all
the real property of decedent had been sold under pacto de retro and that, It is claimed by the attorney for the plaintiffs that the section just quoted is
therefore, he was not the owner of any real estate at the time of his death. As to subordinate to the provisions of the Civil Code as found in article 1035. This article
the personal property, it does not appear that it was disposed of in the manner reads:
provided by law. (Sec. 753, Code of Civil Procedure.) So far as this action is
concerned, however, it is sufficient for us to know that none of the property was An heir by force of law surviving with others of the same character to a
actually divided among the heirs in the administration proceeding and that they succession must bring into the hereditary estate the property or securities
remain coowners and tenants-in- common thereof at the present time. To maintain he may have received from the deceased during the life of the same, by
an action to partition real or personal property it is necessary to show only that it is way of dowry, gift, or for any good consideration, in order to compute it in
owned in common. fixing the legal portions and in the account of the division.

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

Counsel also claim that the proceeds of the insurance policy were a donation or gift taken thereunder the court will decide the questions involved according to the
made by the father during his lifetime to the defendant and that, as such, its evidence, subordinating his conclusions of law to the rules laid down in this opinion.
ultimate destination is determined by those provisions of the Civil Code which
relate to donations, especially article 819. This article provides that "gifts made to We do not wish to be understood as having decided in this opinion any question of
children which are not betterments shall be considered as part of their legal fact which will arise on the trial and be there in controversy. The trial court is left
portion." free to find the facts as the evidence requires. To the facts as so found he will apply
the law as herein laid down.
We cannot agree with these contentions. The contract of life insurance is a special
contract and the destination of the proceeds thereof is determined by special laws The judgment appealed from is set aside and the cause returned to the Court of
which deal exclusively with that subject. The Civil Code has no provisions which First Instance whence it came for the purpose hereinabove stated. So ordered.
relate directly and specifically to life- insurance contracts or to the destination of
life insurance proceeds. That subject is regulated exclusively by the Code of Arellano, C.J., and Carson, J., concur.
Commerce which provides for the terms of the contract, the relations of the parties Torres, J., concurs in the result.
and the destination of the proceeds of the policy.

The proceeds of the life-insurance policy being the exclusive property of the
defendant and he having used a portion thereof in the repurchase of the real estate
sold by the decedent prior to his death with right to repurchase, and such
repurchase having been made and the conveyance taken in the names of all of the
heirs instead of the defendant alone, plaintiffs claim that the property belongs to
the heirs in common and not to the defendant alone.

We are not inclined to agree with this contention unless the fact appear or be
shown that the defendant acted as he did with the intention that the other heirs
should enjoy with him the ownership of the estate — in other words, that he
proposed, in effect, to make a gift of the real estate to the other heirs. If it is
established by the evidence that that was his intention and that the real estate was
delivered to the plaintiffs with that understanding, then it is probable that their
contention is correct and that they are entitled to share equally with the defendant
therein. If, however, it appears from the evidence in the case that the conveyances
were taken in the name of the plaintiffs without his knowledge or consent, or that
it was not his intention to make a gift to them of the real estate, then it belongs to
him. If that facts are as stated, he has two remedies. The one is to compel the
plaintiffs to reconvey to him and the other is to let the title stand with them and to
recover from them the sum he paid on their behalf.

For the complete and proper determination of the questions at issue in this case,
we are of the opinion that the cause should be returned to the trial court with
instructions to permit the parties to frame such issues as will permit the settlement
of all the questions involved and to introduce such evidence as may be necessary
for the full determination of the issues framed. Upon such issues and evidence

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

EN BANC On March 6, 1953, Domingo Rodriguez died intestate, survived by the widow,
Concepcion Felix, his children Geronimo Esmeragdo and Mauricio and
G.R. No. L-23002 July 31, 1967 grandchildren Oscar, Juan and Ana, surnamed Rodriguez, children of a son, Jose,
who had predeceased him.
vs. On March 16, 1953, the above-named widow, children and grandchildren of the
GERONIMO RODRIGUEZ., ET AL., defendants-appellees. deceased entered into an extra-judicial settlement of his (Domingo's) estate,
consisting of one-half of the properties allegedly belonging to the conjugal
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for plaintiff-appellant. partnership. Among the properties listed as conjugal were the two parcels of land
Sycip, Salazar, Luna and Associates and Carolina C. Griño-Aquino for defendants- in Bulacan, Bulacan, which, together with another piece of property, were divided
appellees. among the heirs in this manner:

REYES, J.B.L., J.: WHEREAS, the parties have furthermore agreed that the fishpond covered
by TCT Nos. 13815, 13816 and 24109 of the Office of the Register of Deeds
of Bulacan, containing an area of 557,971 sq. m., which is likewise the
This is an appeal by Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez from the decision of the
conjugal property of the deceased and his surviving spouse; 1/2 of the
Court of First Instance of Bulacan in Civil Case No. 2565, which she commenced on
same or 278,985.5 sq. m. belongs to said Concepcion Felix Vda. de
May 28, 1962, to secure declaration, of nullity of two contracts executed on January
Rodriguez, as her share in the conjugal property; and 3/4 of the remaining
24, 1934 and for recovery of certain properties.
half or 209,239.125 sq. m. are transferred in full ownership to Geronimo
Rodriguez, Esmeragdo Rodriguez and Mauricio Rodriguez, share and share
The facts of this case may be briefly stated as follows:
alike, while the other 1/4 or 69,746.375 sq. m. of the said remaining half
goes in equal shares to Oscar Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez and Ana
Concepcion Felix, widow of the late Don Felipe Calderon and with whom she had Rodriguez.
one living child, Concepcion Calderon, contracted a second marriage on June 20,
1929, with Domingo Rodriguez, widower with four children by a previous marriage,
As a result of this partition, TCT Nos. 13815 and 13816 were cancelled and TCT Nos.
named Geronimo, Esmeragdo, Jose and Mauricio, all surnamed Rodriguez. There
T-11431 and T-14432 were issued in the names of the said heirs of the deceased.
was no issue in this second marriage.
On March 23, 1953, in a power of attorney executed by the children and
Prior to her marriage to Rodriguez, Concepcion Felix was the registered owner of 2
grandchildren of Domingo Rodriguez, Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez was
fishponds located in the barrio of Babañgad, municipality of Bulacan, Bulacan
named their attorney in-fact, authorized to manage their shares in the fishponds
province. with a total area of 557,711 square meters covered by OCT Nos. 605 and
(Exh. 4).
807. Under date of January 24, 1934, Concepcion Felix appeared to have executed
a deed of sale conveying ownership of the aforesaid properties to her daughter,
On July 2, 1954, the heirs ended their co-ownership by executing a deed of
Concepcion Calderon, for the sum of P2,500.00, which the latter in turn appeared
partition, dividing and segregating their respective shares in the properties,
to have transferred to her mother and stepfather by means of a document dated
pursuant to a consolidation and subdivision plan (PCS-3702), in accordance with
January 27, 1934. Both deeds, notarized by Notary Public Jose D. Mendoza, were
which, Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez obtained TCT No. T-12910, for the
registered in the office of the Register of Deeds of Bulacan on January 29, 1934, as
portion pertaining to her (Exh. L), while TCT No. T-12911 was issued to the other
a consequence of which, the original titles were cancelled and TCT Nos. 13815 and
heirs, for their shares. This latter title was subsequently replaced by TCT No. 16660
13816 were issued in the names of the spouses Domingo Rodriguez and Concepcion
(Exh. M).

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

On October 12, 1954, the Rodriguez children executed another document granting the filing of the complaint, and for appropriate relief in connection with her
unto the widow lifetime usufruct over one-third of the fishpond which they alternative cause of action.
received as hereditary share in the estate of Domingo Rodriguez, which grant was
accepted by Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez. In their separate answers, defendants not only denied the material allegations of
the complaint, but also set up as affirmative defenses lack of cause of action,
Then, in a contract dated December 15, 1961, the widow appeared to have leased prescription, estoppel and laches. As counterclaim, they asked for payment by the
from the Rodriguez children and grandchildren the fishpond (covered by TCT No. plaintiff of the unpaid balance of the earnings of the land up to August 15, 1962 in
16660) for a period of 5 years commencing August 16, 1962, for an annual rental of the sum of P3,000.00, for attorney's fees and expenses of litigation.
P7,161.37 (Exh. 5).1äwphï1.ñët
On October 5, 1963, judgment was rendered for the defendants. In upholding the
At about this time, it seemed that the relationship between the widow and her validity of the contracts, the court found that although the two documents, Exhibits
stepchildren had turned for the worse. Thus, when she failed to deliver to them the A and B, were executed for the purpose of converting plaintiff's separate properties
balance of the earnings of the fishponds, in the amount of P3,000.00, her into conjugal assets of the marriage with Domingo Rodriguez, the consent of the
stepchildren endorsed the matter to their lawyer who, on May 16, 1962, sent a parties thereto was voluntary, contrary to the allegations of plaintiff and her
letter of demand to the widow for payment thereof. On, May 28, 1962, Concepcion witness. The court also ruled that having taken part in the questioned transactions,
Felix Vda. de Rodriguez filed the present action in the Court of First Instance of plaintiff was not the proper party to plead lack of consideration to avoid the
Manila naming as defendants, Geronimo Rodriguez, Esmeragdo Rodriguez, Oscar transfers; that contracts without consideration are not inexistent, but are only
Rodriguez, Concepcion Bautista Vda. de Rodriguez, as guardian of the minors Juan voidable, following the ruling in the case of Concepcion vs. Sta. Ana (87 Phil. 787);
and Ana Rodriguez, and Antonio Diaz de Rivera and Renato Diaz de Rivera, as that there was ratification or confirmation by the plaintiff of the transfer of her
guardians of the minors Maria Ana, Mercedes, Margarita, Mauricio, Jr. and property, by her execution (with the other heirs) of the extrajudicial settlement of
Domingo (Children of Mauricio Rodriguez who had also died). estate; that being a voluntary party to the contracts, Exhibits A and B, plaintiff
cannot recover the properties she gave thereunder. Plaintiff's alternative cause of
The action to declare null and void the deeds of transfer of plaintiff's properties to action was also rejected on the ground that action for rescission of the deed of
the conjugal partnership was based on the alleged employment or exercise by extrajudicial settlement should have been filed within 4 years from its execution
plaintiff's deceased husband of force and pressure on her; that the conveyances of (on March 16, 1953).
the properties — from plaintiff to her daughter and then to the conjugal partnership
of plaintiff and her husband — are both without consideration; that plaintiff From the decision of the Court of First Instance, plaintiff duly appealed to this Court,
participated in the extrajudicial settlement of estate (of the deceased Domingo insisting that the conveyances in issue were obtained through duress, and were
Rodriguez) and in other subsequent deeds or instruments involving the properties inexistent, being simulated and without consideration.
in dispute, on the false assumption that the said properties had become conjugal
by reason of the execution of the deeds of transfer in 1934; that laboring under the We agree with the trial Court that the evidence is not convincing that the contracts
same false assumption, plaintiff delivered to defendants, as income of the of transfer from Concepcion Felix to her daughter, and from the latter to her mother
properties from 1956 to 1961, the total amount of P56,976.58. As alternative cause and stepfather were executed through violence or intimidation. The charge is
of action, she contended that she would claim for her share, as surviving widow, of predicated solely upon the improbable and biased testimony of appellant's
1/5 of the properties in controversy, should such properties be adjudged as daughter, Concepcion C. Martelino, whom the trial court, refused to believe,
belonging to the conjugal partnership. Thus, plaintiff prayed that the deeds of considering that her version of violence and harassment was contradicted by
transfer mentioned in the complaint be declared fictitious and simulated; that the Bartolome Gualberto who had lived with the Rodriguez spouses from 1917 to 1953,
"Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate" be also declared null and void; that TCT No. and by the improbability of Rodriguez threatening his stepdaughter in front of the
16660 of the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan be cancelled and another one be issued Notary Public who ratified her signature. Furthermore, as pointed out by the
in the name of plaintiff, Concepcion Felix Vda. de Felix; that defendants be ordered appealed decision, the charge of duress should be treated with caution considering
to pay plaintiff the sum of P56,976.58, with legal interest thereon from the date of that Rodriguez had already died when the suit was brought, for duress, like fraud,

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

is not to be lightly paid at the door of men already dead. (Cf. Prevost vs. Gratz, 6 apegada tenazmente a antiguos errores. Se debe a Bahr el haber
Wheat. [U.S.] 481, 498; Sinco vs. Longa, 51 Phil. 507). defendido con vigor la antitesis teorica que existe entre negocio fingido y
negocio fraudulento y haber atacado la doctrina comun que hacia una
What is more decisive is that duress being merely a vice or defect of consent, an mescolanza con los dos conceptos.
action based upon it must be brought within four years after it has ceased;1 and the
present action was instituted only in 1962, twenty eight (28) years after the Se confunde — dice (2) —, el negocio in fraudem legis con el negocio
intimidation is claimed to have occurred, and no less than nine (9) years after the simulado; aunque la naturaleza de ambos sea totalmente diversa. El
supposed culprit died (1953). On top of it, appellant entered into a series of negocio fraudulento no es, en absolute, un negocio aparente. Es
subsequent transactions with appellees that confirmed the contracts that she now perfectamente serio: se quiere realmente. Es mas, se quiere tal como se
tries to set aside. Therefore, this cause of action is clearly barred. ha realizado, con todas las consecuencias que correspondent a la forma
juridica elegida. Muchas veces, estas consecuencias con incomodas para
Appellant's main stand in attacking the conveyances in question is that they are una u otra de las partes, aunque serian mucho mas incomodas las
simulated or fictitious, and inexistent for lack of consideration. We shall examine consecuencias que lievaria consigo el acto prohibido.
each purported defect separately.
xxx xxx xxx
The charge of simulation is untenable, for the characteristic of simulation is the fact
that the apparent contract is not really desired or intended to produce legal effects El resultado de las precedentes investigaciones es el siguiente el negocio
or in way alter the juridical situation of the parties. Thus, where a person, in order simulado quiere producir una apariencia; el negocio fraudulente, una
to place his property beyond the reach of his creditors, simulates a transfer of it to realidad; los negocios simulados son ficticios, no queridos; los negocios in
another, he does not really intend to divest himself of his title and control of the fraudem son serios, reales, y realizados en tal forma por las partes para
property; hence, the deed of transfer is but a sham. But appellant contends that the consequir un resultado prohibido: la simulacion nunca es un medio para
sale by her to her daughter, and the subsequent sale by the latter to appellant and eludir la ley sino para ocultar su violation. La transgresion del contenido
her husband, the late Domingo Rodriguez, were done for the purpose of converting verbal e inmediato de la norma se encubre bajo el manto de un negocio
the property from paraphernal to conjugal, thereby vesting a half interest in licito, lo cual no altera el caracter del contra legem agere. Tan verdad es,
Rodriguez, and evading the prohibition against donations from one spouse to que si se ha redactado una contra-escritura que documentary y declara la
another during coverture (Civil Code of 1889, Art. 1334). If this is true, then the verdadera naturaleza del negocio realizado, no queda mas que aplicar pura
appellant and her daughter must have intended the two conveyance to be real and y simplementela prohibicion.
effective; for appellant could not intend to keep the ownership of the fishponds and
at the same time vest half of them in her husband. The two contracts of sale then Tambien el fraude quiere perjudicar la ley, pero emplea para ello medios
could not have been simulated, but were real and intended to be fully operative, diversos y sigue distintos caminus. No oculta el acto exterior, sino que lo
being the means to achieve the result desired. deja claro y visible, tratando de huir sesgadamente de la aplicacion de la
ley merced a una artistica y sabia combinacion de varios medios juridicos
Nor does the intention of the parties to circumvent by these contracts the law no reprobados.
against donations between spouses make them simulated ones.
Appellant invokes our decision in Vasquez vs. Porta, 98 Phil. 490, but to no purpose.
Ferrara, in his classic book, "La Simulacion de los Negocios Juridicos" (Sp. trans, The mortgage and foreclosure sale involved in that case were typical simulations
1926), pp. 95, 105, clearly explains the difference between simulated transactions merely apparent but not really intended to produce legal effects, as approved by
and transactions in fraudem legis: the Court's finding that the alleged creditor and buyer at the foreclosure sale "Porta
himself ostensibly acknowledged by his inertia in allowing the doctor (alleged
Otra figura que debe distinguirse de la simulacion es el fraus legis. Tambien mortgagor debtor) to exercise dominical power thereon without any protest on his
aqui se da una gran confusion que persiste aun en la jurisprudencia, part." (cas. cit., p. 495). Not only this, but the mortgagor's wife, when her husband

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

died, "found among his papers Porta's cancellation of the mortgage in his favor and a ruling reiterated in the decision of 2 April 1941 when the Court ruled:
the draft of the complaint for foreclosure." Plainly, the precedent cited is here
inapplicable. El concepto de la causa ilicita, tal como la desenvuelve y aplica con gran
amplitud y flexibilidad la doctrina moderna, permite cobijar, no solo las
Were the two conveyances from appellant to her daughter and from the latter to convenciones ilicitas por razon de su objeto o de su motivo ... sino tambien
the spouses Rodriguez void ab initio or inexistent for lack of consideration? We do multiples convenciones que no encerrando en si ningun elemento de
not find them to be so. In the first transaction, the price of P2,500.00 is recited in directa antijuricidad son ilicitas por el matiz immoral que reviste la
the deed itself (Exh. A); in the second (Exh. B), the consideration set forth is operation en su conjunto x x x .
P3,000.00. Now, Article 1274 of the Civil Code of 1889 (in force when the deeds
were executed) provided that — Unfortunately for herein appellant, in contracts invalidated by illegal subject matter
or illegal causa, Articles 1305 and 1306 of the Civil Code then in force apply
In onerous contracts the cause is understood to be, for each contracting rigorously the rule in pari delicto non oritur action, denying all recovery to the guilty
party, the prestation or promise of a thing or service by the other. parties inter se. And appellant is clearly as guilty as her husband in the attempt to
(emphasis supplied.) evade the legal interdiction of Article 1334 of the Code, already cited. Wherefore,
her present action to reivindicate the, conveyed properties was correctly repulsed
Since in each conveyance the buyer became obligated to pay a definite price in by the Court below.
money, such undertaking constituted in themselves actual causa or consideration
for the conveyance of the fishponds. That the prices were not paid (assuming ad Art. 1306. If the act which constitutes the illicit consideration is neither a
arguendo that Concepcion Martelino's testimony, to this effect is true) does not crime nor a misdemeanor, the following rules shall be observed:
make the sales inexistent for want of causa. As ruled in Enriquez de la Cavada vs.
Diaz, 37 Phil. 982, "the consideration (causa) need not pass from one (party) to the 1. When both parties are guilty, neither of them can recover what he may
other at the time the contract is entered into x x x . The consideration need not be have given by virtue of the contract, or enforce the performance of the
paid at the time of the promise. The one promise is a consideration for the other." undertaking of the other party;

What would invalidate the conveyances now under scrutiny is the fact that they xxx xxx xxx
were resorted to in order to circumvent the legal prohibition against donations
between spouses contained in Article 1334, paragraph 1, of the Civil Code of 1889, That Article 1306 applies to cases where the nullity arises from the illegality of the
then prevailing. That illegal purpose tainted the contracts, for as held by the Spanish consideration or the purpose of the contract was expressly recognized by this
Tribunal Supreme in its decision of 2 April 1941. Supreme Court in Gustilo vs. Maravilla, 48 Phil. 449-450.2

ha de ser reputado ineficaz, por exigencias includibles del caracter social y Finally, it cannot be denied that plaintiff-appellant had knowledge of the nullity of
moral del Derecho, todo contrato que persiga un fin ilicito o immoral, sea the contract for the transfer of her properties in 1934, because she was even a party
cualquiera el medio empleado por los contratantes para lograr esa thereto. And yet, her present action was filed only on May 28, 1962 and after the
finalidad, no justificada por un interes digno de ser socialmente protegido. breaking up of friendly relations between her and defendants-appellees.
Appellant's inaction to enforce her right, for 28 years, cannot be justified by the
The illicit purpose then becomes illegal causa within the terms of the old Civil Code, lame excuse that she assumed that the transfer was valid. Knowledge of the effect
for as declared by the same Spanish Court in its decision of 14 December 1940 — of that transaction would have been obtained by the exercise of diligence.
Ignorance which is the effect of inexcusable negligence, it has been said, is no
toda vez que lo que caracteriza fundamentalmente la ilicitud de la causa excuse for laches. (Go Chi Gun, etc., et al. vs. Co Cho, et al., G.R. No. L-5208, Feb.
es la lesion de un interos general juridica 6 moral. 28, 1955). Even assuming for the sake of argument that appellant held her peace,
during the lifetime of her husband, out of legitimate fear for her life, there is no

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

justification for her future to bring the proper action after his death in 1953.
Instead, she entered into a series of agreements with herein appellees, the children
of her husband by a prior marriage, of partition, usufruct and lease of their share in
the fishponds, transactions that necessarily assumed that Rodriguez had acquired
one-half of the litigated fishponds. In the circumstances, appellant's cause has
become a stale demand and her conduct placed her in estoppel to question the
Validity of the transfer of her properties. (Manila, et al. vs. Galvan, et al., G.R. No.
L-23507, May 24, 1967; Perez vs. Herranz, 7 Phil. 695-696).

In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is affirmed. Costs against
appellant Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez. So ordered.

Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro, Angeles and Fernando, JJ.,
Concepcion, C.J. and Dizon, J., are on leave.

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

SECOND DIVISION After trial, the court rendered judgment ordering PBM and respondent-
husband Alfredo Ching to jointly and severally pay AIDC the principal amount
of P50,300,000.00 with interests.

[G.R. No. 118305. February 12, 1998] Pending appeal of the judgment in Civil Case No. 42228, upon motion of AIDC,
the lower court issued a writ of execution pending appeal. Upon AIDCs putting up
AYALA INVESTMENT & DEVELOPMENT CORP. and ABELARDO of an P8,000,000.00 bond, a writ of execution dated May 12, 1982 was
MAGSAJO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and SPOUSES ALFREDO & issued. Thereafter, petitioner Abelardo Magsajo, Sr., Deputy Sheriff of Rizal and
ENCARNACION CHING, respondents. appointed sheriff in Civil Case No. 42228, caused the issuance and service upon
respondents-spouses of a notice of sheriff sale dated May 20, 1982 on three (3) of
DECISION their conjugal properties. Petitioner Magsajo then scheduled the auction sale of the
properties levied.
On June 9, 1982, private respondents filed a case of injunction against
Under Article 161 of the Civil Code, what debts and obligations contracted by petitioners with the then Court of First Instance of Rizal (Pasig), Branch XIII, to
the husband alone are considered for the benefit of the conjugal partnership which enjoin the auction sale alleging that petitioners cannot enforce the judgment
are chargeable against the conjugal partnership? Is a surety agreement or an against the conjugal partnership levied on the ground that, among others, the
accommodation contract entered into by the husband in favor of his employer subject loan did not redound to the benefit of the said conjugal partnership.[2] Upon
within the contemplation of the said provision? application of private respondents, the lower court issued a temporary restraining
These are the issues which we will resolve in this petition for review. order to prevent petitioner Magsajo from proceeding with the enforcement of the
writ of execution and with the sale of the said properties at public auction.
The petitioner assails the decision dated April 14, 1994 of the respondent
Court of Appeals in Spouses Alfredo and Encarnacion Ching vs. Ayala Investment AIDC filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals,[3] questioning
and Development Corporation, et. al., docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. the order of the lower court enjoining the sale. Respondent Court of Appeals issued
29632,[1] upholding the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 168, a Temporary Restraining Order on June 25, 1982, enjoining the lower court [4] from
which ruled that the conjugal partnership of gains of respondents-spouses Alfredo enforcing its Order of June 14, 1982, thus paving the way for the scheduled auction
and Encarnacion Ching is not liable for the payment of the debts secured by sale of respondents-spouses conjugal properties.
respondent-husband Alfredo Ching. On June 25, 1982, the auction sale took place. AIDC being the only bidder, was
A chronology of the essential antecedent facts is necessary for a clear issued a Certificate of Sale by petitioner Magsajo, which was registered on July 2,
understanding of the case at bar. 1982. Upon expiration of the redemption period, petitioner sheriff issued the final
deed of sale on August 4, 1982 which was registered on August 9, 1983.
Philippine Blooming Mills (hereinafter referred to as PBM) obtained
a P50,300,000.00 loan from petitioner Ayala Investment and Development In the meantime, the respondent court, on August 4, 1982, decided CA-G.R.
Corporation (hereinafter referred to as AIDC). As added security for the credit line SP No. 14404, in this manner:
extended to PBM, respondent Alfredo Ching, Executive Vice President of PBM, WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari in this case is granted and the
executed security agreements on December 10, 1980 and on March 20, 1981 challenged order of the respondent Judge dated June 14, 1982 in Civil
making himself jointly and severally answerable with PBMs indebtedness to AIDC. Case No. 46309 is hereby set aside and nullified. The same petition
PBM failed to pay the loan. Thus, on July 30, 1981, AIDC filed a case for sum of insofar as it seeks to enjoin the respondent Judge from proceeding
money against PBM and respondent-husband Alfredo Ching with the then Court of with Civil Case No. 46309 is, however, denied.No pronouncement is
First Instance of Rizal (Pasig), Branch VIII, entitled Ayala Investment and here made as to costs. x x x x.[5]
Development Corporation vs. Philippine Blooming Mills and Alfredo Ching, On September 3, 1983, AIDC filed a motion to dismiss the petition for
docketed as Civil Case No. 42228. injunction filed before Branch XIII of the CFI of Rizal (Pasig) on the ground that the

Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

same had become moot and academic with the consummation of the Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was denied by the
sale. Respondents filed their opposition to the motion arguing, among others, that respondent court in a Resolution dated November 28, 1994. [7]
where a third party who claims ownership of the property attached or levied upon,
Hence, this petition for review. Petitioner contends that the respondent court
a different legal situation is presented; and that in this case, two (2) of the real
properties are actually in the name of Encarnacion Ching, a non-party to Civil Case erred in ruling that the conjugal partnership of private respondents is not liable for
the obligation by the respondent-husband.
No. 42228.
Specifically, the errors allegedly committed by the respondent court are as
The lower court denied the motion to dismiss. Hence, trial on the merits
proceeded. Private respondents presented several witnesses. On the other hand,
petitioners did not present any evidence. I. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE OBLIGATION
On September 18, 1991, the trial court promulgated its decision declaring the
sale on execution null and void. Petitioners appealed to the respondent court,
which was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 29632.
On April 14, 1994, the respondent court promulgated the assailed decision, II RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE ACT OF
affirming the decision of the regional trial court. It held that:
The loan procured from respondent-appellant AIDC was for the SUPPORTS HIS FAMILY.
advancement and benefit of Philippine Blooming Mills and not for the
Petitioners in their appeal point out that there is no need to prove that actual
benefit of the conjugal partnership of petitioners-appellees.
benefit redounded to the benefit of the partnership; all that is necessary, they say,
xxxxxxxxx is that the transaction was entered into for the benefit of the conjugal
partnership. Thus, petitioners aver that:
As to the applicable law, whether it is Article 161 of the New Civil Code
or Article 1211 of the Family Code-suffice it to say that the two The wordings of Article 161 of the Civil Code is very clear: for the
provisions are substantially the same. Nevertheless, We agree with the partnership to be held liable, the husband must have contracted the
trial court that the Family Code is the applicable law on the matter x x debt for the benefit of the partnership, thus:
x x x x.
Art. 161. The conjugal partnership shall be liable for:
Article 121 of the Family Code provides that The conjugal partnership
shall be liable for: x x x (2) All debts and obligations contracted during 1) all debts and obligations contracted by the
the marriage by the designated Administrator-Spouse for the benefit husband for the benefit of the conjugal
of the conjugal partnership of gains x x x. The burden of proof that the partnership x x x.
debt was contracted for the benefit of the conjugal partnership of
gains, lies with the creditor-party litigant claiming as such. In the case There is a difference between the phrases: redounded to the benefit
at bar, respondent-appellant AIDC failed to prove that the debt was of or benefited from (on the one hand) and for the benefit of (on the
contracted by appellee-husband, for the benefit of the conjugal other). The former require that actual benefit must have been
partnership of gains. realized; the latter requires only that the transaction should be one
which normally would produce benefit to the partnership, regardless
The dispositive portion of the decision reads: of whether or not actual benefit accrued.[8]
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered We do not agree with petitioners that there is a difference between the terms
DISMISSING the appeal. The decision of the Regional Trial Court is redounded to the benefit of or benefited from on the one hand; and for the benefit
AFFIRMED in toto.[6] of on the other. They mean one and the same thing. Article 161 (1) of the Civil Code

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

and Article 121 (2) of the Family Code are similarly worded, i.e., both use the term However, in the cases of Ansaldo vs. Sheriff of Manila, Fidelity Insurance &
for the benefit of.On the other hand, Article 122 of the Family Code provides that Luzon Insurance Co.,[14] Liberty Insurance Corporation vs. Banuelos,[15] and Luzon
The payment of personal debts by the husband or the wife before or during the Surety Inc. vs. De Garcia,[16] cited by the respondents, we ruled that:
marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership except insofar as they
redounded to the benefit of the family. As can be seen, the terms are used The fruits of the paraphernal property which form part of the assets of
the conjugal partnership, are subject to the payment of the debts and
expenses of the spouses, but not to the payment of the personal
Petitioners further contend that the ruling of the respondent court runs obligations (guaranty agreements) of the husband, unless it be proved
counter to the pronouncement of this Court in the case of Cobb-Perez vs. that such obligations were productive of some benefit to the family.
Lantin,[9] that the husband as head of the family and as administrator of the (Ansaldo; parenthetical phrase ours.)
conjugal partnership is presumed to have contracted obligations for the benefit of
When there is no showing that the execution of an indemnity
the family or the conjugal partnership.
agreement by the husband redounded to the benefit of his family, the
Contrary to the contention of the petitioners, the case of Cobb-Perez is not undertaking is not a conjugal debt but an obligation personal to him.
applicable in the case at bar. This Court has, on several instances, interpreted the (Liberty Insurance)
term for the benefit of the conjugal partnership.
In the most categorical language, a conjugal partnership under Article
In the cases of Javier vs. Osmea,[10] Abella de Diaz vs. Erlanger & Galinger, 161 of the new Civil Code is liable only for such debts and obligations
Inc., Cobb-Perez vs. Lantin[12] and G-Tractors, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,[13] cited
contracted by the husband for the benefit of the conjugal
by the petitioners, we held that: partnership. There must be the requisite showing then of some
advantage which clearly accrued to the welfare of the
The debts contracted by the husband during the marriage relation, for
spouses.Certainly, to make a conjugal partnership respond for a
and in the exercise of the industry or profession by which he liability that should appertain to the husband alone is to defeat and
contributes toward the support of his family, are not his personal and
frustrate the avowed objective of the new Civil Code to show the
private debts, and the products or income from the wifes own
utmost concern for the solidarity and well-being of the family as a
property, which, like those of her husbands, are liable for the payment
unit. The husband, therefore, is denied the power to assume
of the marriage expenses, cannot be excepted from the payment of unnecessary and unwarranted risks to the financial stability of the
such debts. (Javier)
conjugal partnership. (Luzon Surety, Inc.)
The husband, as the manager of the partnership (Article 1412, Civil
From the foregoing jurisprudential rulings of this Court, we can derive the
Code), has a right to embark the partnership in an ordinary commercial following conclusions:
enterprise for gain, and the fact that the wife may not approve of a
venture does not make it a private and personal one of the husband.
(A) If the husband himself is the principal obligor in the contract, i.e., he directly
(Abella de Diaz)
received the money and services to be used in or for his own business or his own
Debts contracted by the husband for and in the exercise of the industry profession, that contract falls within the term x x x x obligations for the benefit of
or profession by which he contributes to the support of the family, the conjugal partnership. Here, no actual benefit may be proved. It is enough that
cannot be deemed to be his exclusive and private debts. (Cobb-Perez) the benefit to the family is apparent at the time of the signing of the contract. From
the very nature of the contract of loan or services, the family stands to benefit from
x x x if he incurs an indebtedness in the legitimate pursuit of his career the loan facility or services to be rendered to the business or profession of the
or profession or suffers losses in a legitimate business, the conjugal husband. It is immaterial, if in the end, his business or profession fails or does not
partnership must equally bear the indebtedness and the losses, unless succeed. Simply stated, where the husband contracts obligations on behalf of the
he deliberately acted to the prejudice of his family. (G-Tractors) family business, the law presumes, and rightly so, that such obligation will redound
to the benefit of the conjugal partnership.

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

(B) On the other hand, if the money or services are given to another person or Petitioners contend that no actual benefit need accrue to the conjugal
entity, and the husband acted only as a surety or guarantor, that contract cannot, partnership. To support this contention, they cite Justice J.B.L. Reyes authoritative
by itself, alone be categorized as falling within the context of obligations for the opinion in the Luzon Surety Company case:
benefit of the conjugal partnership. The contract of loan or services is clearly for the
benefit of the principal debtor and not for the surety or his family. No presumption I concur in the result, but would like to make of record that, in my
opinion, the words all debts and obligations contracted by the husband
can be inferred that, when a husband enters into a contract of surety or
for the benefit of the conjugal partnership used in Article 161 of the
accommodation agreement, it is for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Proof
Civil Code of the Philippines in describing the charges and obligations
must be presented to establish benefit redounding to the conjugal partnership.
for which the conjugal partnership is liable do not require that actual
Thus, the distinction between the Cobb-Perez case, and we add, that of the profit or benefit must accrue to the conjugal partnership from the
three other companion cases, on the one hand, and that of Ansaldo, Liberty husbands transaction; but it suffices that the transaction should be one
Insurance and Luzon Surety, is that in the former, the husband contracted the that normally would produce such benefit for the partnership. This is
obligation for his own business; while in the latter, the husband merely acted as a the ratio behind our ruling in Javier vs. Osmea, 34 Phil. 336, that
surety for the loan contracted by another for the latters business. obligations incurred by the husband in the practice of his profession
are collectible from the conjugal partnership.
The evidence of petitioner indubitably show that co-respondent Alfredo Ching
signed as surety for the P50M loan contracted on behalf of PBM. Petitioner should The aforequoted concurring opinion agreed with the majority decision that
have adduced evidence to prove that Alfredo Chings acting as surety redounded to the conjugal partnership should not be made liable for the surety agreement which
the benefit of the conjugal partnership. The reason for this is as lucidly explained was clearly for the benefit of a third party. Such opinion merely registered an
by the respondent court: exception to what may be construed as a sweeping statement that in all cases actual
profit or benefit must accrue to the conjugal partnership. The opinion merely made
The loan procured from respondent-appellant AIDC was for the it clear that no actual benefits to the family need be proved in some cases such as
advancement and benefit of Philippine Blooming Mills and not for the
in the Javier case. There, the husband was the principal obligor himself. Thus, said
benefit of the conjugal partnership of petitioners-
transaction was found to be one that would normally produce x x x benefit for the
appellees. Philippine Blooming Mills has a personality distinct and
partnership. In the later case of G-Tractors, Inc., the husband was also the principal
separate from the family of petitioners-appellees - this despite the obligor - not merely the surety. This latter case, therefore, did not create any
fact that the members of the said family happened to be stockholders
precedent. It did not also supersede the Luzon Surety Company case, nor any of the
of said corporate entity.
previous accommodation contract cases, where this Court ruled that they were for
xxxxxxxxx the benefit of third parties.

x x x. The burden of proof that the debt was contracted for the benefit But it could be argued, as the petitioner suggests, that even in such kind of
of the conjugal partnership of gains, lies with the creditor-party litigant contract of accommodation, a benefit for the family may also result, when the
claiming as such. In the case at bar, respondent-appellant AIDC failed guarantee is in favor of the husbands employer.
to prove that the debt was contracted by appellee-husband, for the In the case at bar, petitioner claims that the benefits the respondent family
benefit of the conjugal partnership of gains. What is apparent from the
would reasonably anticipate were the following:
facts of the case is that the judgment debt was contracted by or in the
name of the Corporation Philippine Blooming Mills and appellee- (a) The employment of co-respondent Alfredo Ching would be
husband only signed as surety thereof. The debt is clearly a corporate prolonged and he would be entitled to his monthly salary
debt and respondent-appellants right of recourse against appellee- of P20,000.00 for an extended length of time because of the loan he
husband as surety is only to the extent of his corporate guaranteed;
stockholdings. It does not extend to the conjugal partnership of gains
of the family of petitioners-appellees. x x x x x x. [17] (b) The shares of stock of the members of his family would appreciate
if the PBM could be rehabilitated through the loan obtained;

12 | P a g e
Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

(c) His prestige in the corporation would be enhanced and his career x x x appellee-husband derives salaries, dividends benefits from
would be boosted should PBM survive because of the loan. Philippine Blooming Mills (the debtor corporation), only because said
husband is an employee of said PBM. These salaries and benefits, are
However, these are not the benefits contemplated by Article 161 of the Civil
not the benefits contemplated by Articles 121 and 122 of the Family
Code. The benefits must be one directly resulting from the loan. It cannot merely Code. The benefits contemplated by the exception in Article 122
be a by-product or a spin-off of the loan itself.
(Family Code) is that benefit derived directly from the use of the
In all our decisions involving accommodation contracts of the husband, [18] we loan. In the case at bar, the loan is a corporate loan extended to PBM
underscored the requirement that: there must be the requisite showing x x x of and used by PBM itself, not by petitioner-appellee-husband or his
some advantage which clearly accrued to the welfare of the spouses or benefits to family. The alleged benefit, if any, continuously harped by
his family or that such obligations are productive of some benefit to the respondents-appellants, are not only incidental but also
family. Unfortunately, the petition did not present any proof to show: (a) Whether speculative.[19]
or not the corporate existence of PBM was prolonged and for how many months or
We agree with the respondent court. Indeed, considering the odds involved in
years; and/or (b) Whether or not the PBM was saved by the loan and its shares of guaranteeing a large amount (P50,000,000.00) of loan, the probable prolongation
stock appreciated, if so, how much and how substantial was the holdings of the
of employment in PBM and increase in value of its stocks, would be too small to
Ching family.
qualify the transaction as one for the benefit of the suretys family. Verily, no one
Such benefits (prospects of longer employment and probable increase in the could say, with a degree of certainty, that the said contract is even productive of
value of stocks) might have been already apparent or could be anticipated at the some benefits to the conjugal partnership.
time the accommodation agreement was entered into. But would those benefits
We likewise agree with the respondent court (and this view is not contested
qualify the transaction as one of the obligations x x x for the benefit of the conjugal
by the petitioners) that the provisions of the Family Code is applicable in this case.
partnership? Are indirect and remote probable benefits, the ones referred to in These provisions highlight the underlying concern of the law for the conservation
Article 161 of the Civil Code? The Court of Appeals in denying the motion for
of the conjugal partnership; for the husbands duty to protect and safeguard, if not
reconsideration, disposed of these questions in the following manner:
augment, not to dissipate it.
No matter how one looks at it, the debt/credit extended by
This is the underlying reason why the Family Code clarifies that the obligations
respondents-appellants is purely a corporate debt granted to PBM, entered into by one of the spouses must be those that redounded to the benefit of
with petitioner-appellee-husband merely signing as surety. While such
the family and that the measure of the partnerships liability is to the extent that the
petitioner-appellee-husband, as such surety, is solidarily liable with the
family is benefited.[20]
principal debtor AIDC, such liability under the Civil Code provisions is
specifically restricted by Article 122 (par. 1) of the Family Code, so that These are all in keeping with the spirit and intent of the other provisions of
debts for which the husband is liable may not be charged against the Civil Code which prohibits any of the spouses to donate or convey gratuitously
conjugal partnership properties. Article 122 of the Family Code is any part of the conjugal property.[21] Thus, when co-respondent Alfredo Ching
explicit The payment of personal debts contracted by the husband or entered into a surety agreement he, from then on, definitely put in peril the
the wife before or during the marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal property (in this case, including the family home) and placed it in danger
conjugal partnership except insofar as they redounded to the benefit of being taken gratuitously as in cases of donation.
of the family.
In the second assignment of error, the petitioner advances the view that
Respondents-appellants insist that the corporate debt in question falls acting as surety is part of the business or profession of the respondent-husband.
under the exception laid down in said Article 122 (par. one). We do not
This theory is new as it is novel.
agree. The loan procured from respondent-appellant AIDC was for the
sole advancement and benefit of Philippine Blooming Mills and not for The respondent court correctly observed that:
the benefit of the conjugal partnership of petitioners-appellees.

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

Signing as a surety is certainly not an exercise of an industry or

profession, hence the cited cases of Cobb-Perez vs. Lantin; Abella de
Diaz vs. Erlanger & Galinger; G-Tractors, Inc. vs. CA do not apply in the
instant case. Signing as a surety is not embarking in a business.[22]
We are likewise of the view that no matter how often an executive acted or was
persuaded to act, as a surety for his own employer, this should not be taken to
mean that he had thereby embarked in the business of suretyship or guaranty.
This is not to say, however, that we are unaware that executives are often
asked to stand as surety for their companys loan obligations. This is especially true
if the corporate officials have sufficient property of their own; otherwise, their
spouses signatures are required in order to bind the conjugal partnerships.
The fact that on several occasions the lending institutions did not require the
signature of the wife and the husband signed alone does not mean that being a
surety became part of his profession. Neither could he be presumed to have acted
for the conjugal partnership.
Article 121, paragraph 3, of the Family Code is emphatic that the payment of
personal debts contracted by the husband or the wife before or during the marriage
shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership except to the extent that they
redounded to the benefit of the family.
Here, the property in dispute also involves the family home. The loan is a
corporate loan not a personal one. Signing as a surety is certainly not an exercise of
an industry or profession nor an act of administration for the benefit of the family.
On the basis of the facts, the rules, the law and equity, the assailed decision
should be upheld as we now uphold it. This is, of course, without prejudice to
petitioners right to enforce the obligation in its favor against the PBM receiver in
accordance with the rehabilitation program and payment schedule approved or to
be approved by the Securities & Exchange Commission.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review should be, as it is hereby, DENIED for lack
of merit.
Regalado, (Chairman), Melo, Puno, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

FIRST DIVISION children.[13] Subsequently, in its Order dated October 14, 1983, the court authorized
Vicente to sell the estate of Ignacia.[14]
On August 9, 1984, Ignacia, through her counsel, sent a letter to respondent
[G.R. No. 143826. August 28, 2003] spouses demanding the return of her share in the lot. Failing to settle the matter
amicably, Ignacia filed on June 4, 1996 a complaint[15] for annulment of sale against
HEIRS OF IGNACIA AGUILAR-REYES, petitioners, vs. SPOUSES CIPRIANO MIJARES respondent spouses. The complaint was thereafter amended to include Vicente
AND FLORENTINA MIJARES, respondents. Reyes as one of the defendants.[16]
In their answer, respondent spouses claimed that they are purchasers in good
faith and that the sale was valid because it was duly approved by the
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: court.[17] Vicente Reyes, on the other hand, contended that what he sold to the
spouses was only his share in Lot No. 4349-B-2, excluding the share of his wife, and
Under the regime of the Civil Code, the alienation or encumbrance of a that he never represented that the latter was already dead.[18] He likewise testified
conjugal real property requires the consent of the wife. The absence of such that respondent spouses, through the counsel they provided him, took advantage
consent renders the entire transaction[1] merely voidable and not void.[2] The wife of his illiteracy by filing a petition for the issuance of letters of administration and
may, during the marriage and within ten years from the transaction questioned, appointment of guardian without his knowledge.[19]
bring an action for the annulment of the contract entered into by her husband
without her consent.[3] On February 15, 1990, the court a quo rendered a decision declaring the sale
of Lot No. 4349-B-2 void with respect to the share of Ignacia. It held that the
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the January 26, 2000 purchase price of the lot was P110,000.00 and ordered Vicente to return thereof or
Decision[4] and June 19, 2000, Resolution[5] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. P55,000.00 to respondent spouses. The dispositive portion of the said decision,
28464 which declared respondents as purchasers in good faith and set aside the reads-
May 31, 1990 and June 29, 1990 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 101, in Civil Case No. Q-48018.
WHEREFORE, premises above considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring
The controversy stemmed from a dispute over Lot No. 4349-B- the subject Deed of Absolute Sale, dated March [1,] 1983 signed by and between
2,[6] approximately 396 square meters, previously covered by Transfer Certificate of defendants Vicente Reyes and defendant Cipriano Mijares NULL AND VOID WITH
Title (TCT) No. 205445, located in Balintawak, Quezon City and registered in the RESPECT TO ONE-HALF (1/2) OF THE SAID PROPERTY;
name of Spouses Vicente Reyes and Ignacia Aguilar-Reyes.[7] Said lot and the
apartments built thereon were part of the spouses conjugal properties having been The Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby ordered to cancel TCT No. 306083
purchased using conjugal funds from their garments business.[8] (sic) in the names of defendant spouses Cipriano Mijares and Florentina Mijares and
to issue a new TCT in the name of the plaintiff Ignacia Aguilar-Reyes as owner in fee
Vicente and Ignacia were married in 1960, but had been separated de simple of one-half (1/2) of said property and the other half in the names of
facto since 1974.[9] Sometime in 1984, Ignacia learned that on March 1, 1983, defendant spouses Cipriano Mijares and Florentin[a] Mijares, upon payment of the
Vicente sold Lot No. 4349-B-2 to respondent spouses Cipriano and Florentina required fees therefore;
Mijares for P40,000.00.[10] As a consequence thereof, TCT No. 205445 was cancelled
and TCT No. 306087 was issued on April 19, 1983 in the name of respondent
Said defendant spouses Mijares are also ordered to allow plaintiff the use and
spouses.[11] She likewise found out that Vicente filed a petition for administration
exercise of rights, as well as obligations, pertinent to her one-half (1/2) ownership
and appointment of guardian with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City,
of the subject property;
Branch XXI. Vicente misrepresented therein that his wife, Ignacia, died on March
22, 1982, and that he and their 5 minor children were her only heirs. [12] On
September 29, 1983, the court appointed Vicente as the guardian of their minor Defendant Vicente Reyes is hereby ordered to reimburse P55,000.00 with legal rate
of interest from the execution of the subject Deed of Absolute Sale on March 1,

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

1983, to the defendantspouses Cipriano Mijares and Florentina Mijares which Register of Deeds of Quezon City to issue a new title in the name of Ignacia Aguilar-
corresponds to the one-half (1/2) of the actual purchase price by the said Mijares Reyes and Vicente Reyes. The Order likewise specified that Vicente Reyes should
but is annulled in this decision (sic); pay Ignacia Aguilar-Reyes the amount of P50,000.00 as moral and exemplary
Defendant Vicente Reyes is hereby further ordered to pay plaintiff the amount of
Both Ignacia Aguilar-Reyes and respondent spouses appealed the decision to
P50,000.00 by way of moral and exemplary damages, plus costs of this suit.
the Court of Appeals.[24] Pending the appeal, Ignacia died and she was substituted
by her compulsory heirs.[25]
Petitioners contended that they are entitled to reimbursement of the rentals
Ignacia filed a motion for modification of the decision praying that the sale be collected on the apartment built on Lot No. 4349-B-2, while respondent spouses
declared void in its entirety and that the respondents be ordered to reimburse to claimed that they are buyers in good faith. On January 26, 2000, the Court of
her the rentals they collected on the apartments built on Lot No. 4349-B-2 Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court. It ruled that
computed from March 1, 1983. notwithstanding the absence of Ignacias consent to the sale, the same must be held
On May 31, 1990, the trial court modified its decision by declaring the sale valid in favor of respondents because they were innocent purchasers for
void in its entirety and ordering Vicente Reyes to reimburse respondent spouses value.[26] The decretal potion of the appellate courts decision states
the purchase price of P110,000, thus
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision appealed from and the Orders
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the dated May 31, 1990 and June 29, 1990, are SET ASIDE and in lieu thereof a new one
subject Deed of Absolute Sale, dated March 1, 1983 signed by and between is rendered
defendants Vicente Reyes and defendant Cipriano Mijares as null and void ab initio,
in view of the absence of the wifes conformity to said transaction. 1. Declaring the Deed of Absolute Sale dated March 1, 1983 executed by Vicente
Reyes in favor of spouses Cipriano and [Florentina] Mijares valid and lawful;
Consequent thereto, the Register of Deeds for Quezon City is hereby ordered to
cancel TCT No. 306083 (sic) in the name of Cipriano Mijares and Florentin[a] Mijares 2. Ordering Vicente Reyes to pay spouses Mijares the amount of P30,000.00 as
and issue a new TCT in the name of the plaintiff and defendant Ignacia Aguilar- attorneys fees and legal expenses; and
Reyes and Vicente Reyes as owners in fee simple, upon payment of required fees
therefore. 3. Ordering Vicente Reyes to pay spouses Mijares P50,000.00 as moral damages.

Defendant Vicente Reyes is hereby ordered to pay the amount of one hundred ten No pronouncement as to costs.
thousand pesos (P110,000.00) with legal rate of interest at 12% per annum from
the execution of the subject Deed of Absolute Sale on March 1, 1983. SO ORDERED.[27]
Undaunted by the denial of their motion for reconsideration, [28] petitioners
Further, defendant Vicente Reyes is ordered to pay the amount of P50,000.00 by
way of moral and exemplary damages, plus costs of this suit. filed the instant petition contending that the assailed sale of Lot No. 4392-B-2
should be annulled because respondent spouses were not purchasers in good faith.
SO ORDERED.[21] The issues for resolution are as follows: (1) What is the status of the sale of Lot
No. 4349-B-2 to respondent spouses? (2) Assuming that the sale is annullable,
On motion[22] of Ignacia, the court issued an Order dated June 29, 1990
should it be annulled in its entirety or only with respect to the share of Ignacia? (3)
amending the dispositive portion of the May 31, 1990 decision by correcting the
Are respondent spouses purchasers in good faith?
Transfer Certificate of Title of Lot No. 4349-B-2, in the name of Cipriano Mijares and
Florentina Mijares, from TCT No. 306083 to TCT No. 306087; and directing the

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Articles 166 and 173 of the Civil Code,[29] the governing laws at the time the Under Article 166 of the Civil Code, the husband cannot generally alienate or
assailed sale was contracted, provide: encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without the wifes
consent. The alienation or encumbrance if so made however is not null and void. It
Art.166. Unless the wife has been declared a non compos mentis or a spendthrift, is merely voidable. The offended wife may bring an action to annul the said
or is under civil interdiction or is confined in a leprosarium, the husband cannot alienation or encumbrance. Thus, the provision of Article 173 of the Civil Code of
alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without the the Philippines, to wit:
wifes consent. If she refuses unreasonably to give her consent, the court may
compel her to grant the same Art. 173. The wife may, during the marriage and within ten years from the
transaction questioned, ask the courts for the annulment of any contract of the
Art. 173. The wife may, during the marriage and within ten years from the husband entered into without her consent, when such consent is required, or any
transaction questioned, ask the courts for the annulment of any contract of the act or contract of the husband which tends to defraud her or impair her interest in
husband entered into without her consent, when such consent is required, or any the conjugal partnership property. Should the wife fail to exercise this right, she or
act or contract of the husband which tends to defraud her or impair her interest in her heirs after the dissolution of the marriage, may demand the value of property
the conjugal partnership property. Should the wife fail to exercise this right, she or fraudulently alienated by the husband.
her heirs after the dissolution of the marriage, may demand the value of property
fraudulently alienated by the husband. This particular provision giving the wife ten (10) years x x x during [the] marriage to
annul the alienation or encumbrance was not carried over to the Family Code. It is
Pursuant to the foregoing provisions, the husband could not alienate or
thus clear that any alienation or encumbrance made after August 3, 1988 when the
encumber any conjugal real property without the consent, express or implied, of
Family Code took effect by the husband of the conjugal partnership property
the wife otherwise, the contract is voidable. Indeed, in several cases[30] the Court without the consent of the wife is null and void
had ruled that such alienation or encumbrance by the husband is void. The better
view, however, is to consider the transaction as merely voidable and not In the case at bar, there is no dispute that Lot No. 4349-B-2, is a conjugal
void.[31] This is consistent with Article 173 of the Civil Code pursuant to which the property having been purchased using the conjugal funds of the spouses during the
wife could, during the marriage and within 10 years from the questioned subsistence of their marriage. It is beyond cavil therefore that the sale of said lot to
transaction, seek its annulment.[32] respondent spouses without the knowledge and consent of Ignacia is voidable. Her
action to annul the March 1, 1983 sale which was filed on June 4, 1986, before her
In the case of Heirs of Christina Ayuste v. Court of Appeals,[33] it was
demise is perfectly within the 10 year prescriptive period under Article 173 of the
categorically held that Civil Code. Even if we reckon the period from November 25, 1978 which was the
date when Vicente and the respondent spouses entered into a contract concerning
There is no ambiguity in the wording of the law. A sale of real property of the Lot No. 4349-B-2, Ignacias action would still be within the prescribed period.
conjugal partnership made by the husband without the consent of his wife is
voidable. The action for annulment must be brought during the marriage and within Anent the second issue, the trial court correctly annulled the voidable sale of
ten years from the questioned transaction by the wife. Where the law speaks in Lot No. 4349-B-2 in its entirety. In Bucoy v. Paulino,[36] a case involving the
clear and categorical language, there is no room for interpretation there is room annulment of sale with assumption of mortgages executed by the husband without
only for application.[34] the consent of the wife, it was held that the alienation or encumbrance must be
annulled in its entirety and not only insofar as the share of the wife in the conjugal
Likewise, in Spouses Guiang v. Court of Appeals,[35] the Court quoted with property is concerned. Although the transaction in the said case was declared void
approval the ruling of the trial court that under the Civil Code, the encumbrance or and not merely voidable, the rationale for the annulment of the whole transaction
alienation of a conjugal real property by the husband absent the wifes consent, is is the same thus
voidable and not void. Thus
The plain meaning attached to the plain language of the law is that the contract, in
its entirety, executed by the husband without the wife's consent, may be annulled

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

by the wife. Had Congress intended to limit such annulment in so far as the contract admitted on cross examination that she asked for the death certificate of Ignacia
shall prejudice the wife, such limitation should have been spelled out in the statute. because she was suspicious that Ignacia was still alive.[40] Moreover, respondent
It is not the legitimate concern of this Court to recast the law. As Mr. Justice Jose B. spouses had all the opportunity to verify the claim of Vicente that he is a widower
L. Reyes of this Court and Judge Ricardo C. Puno of the Court of First Instance because it was their lawyer, Atty. Rodriguito S. Saet, who represented Vicente in
correctly stated, [t]he rule (in the first sentence of Article 173) revokes Baello vs. the special proceedings before the Metropolitan Trial Court.
Villanueva, 54 Phil. 213 and Coque vs. Navas Sioca, 45 Phil. 430, in which cases
Neither can respondent spouses rely on the alleged court approval of the
annulment was held to refer only to the extent of the one-half interest of the wife
sale. Note that the Order issued by the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch XXXI, appointing Vicente as guardian of his 5 minor children, as well as the
The necessity to strike down the contract of July 5, 1963 as a whole, not merely as
Order authorizing him to sell the estate of Ignacia were issued only on September
to the share of the wife, is not without its basis in the common-sense rule. To be
29, 1983 and October 14, 1983, respectively. On the other hand, the sale of the
underscored here is that upon the provisions of Articles 161, 162 and 163 of the
entire Lot No. 4349-B-2 to respondent spouses appears to have been made not on
Civil Code, the conjugal partnership is liable for many obligations while the conjugal
March 1, 1983, but even as early as November 25, 1978. In the Agreement dated
partnership exists. Not only that. The conjugal property is even subject to the
November 25, 1978, Vicente in consideration of the amount of P110,000.00, sold
payment of debts contracted by either spouse before the marriage, as those for the
to Cipriano Mijares Lot No. 4349-B-2 on installment basis, with the first installment
payment of fines and indemnities imposed upon them after the responsibilities in
due on or before July 31, 1979.[41] This was followed by a Memorandum of
Article 161 have been covered (Article 163, par. 3), if it turns out that the spouse
Understanding executed on July 30, 1979, by Vicente and Cipriano (1)
who is bound thereby, should have no exclusive property or if it should be
acknowledging Ciprianos receipt of Vicentes down payment in the amount of
insufficient. These are considerations that go beyond the mere equitable share of
P50,000.00; and (2) authorizing Florentina Mijares to collect rentals.[42] On July 14,
the wife in the property. These are reasons enough for the husband to be stopped
1981, Vicente and Cipriano executed another Memorandum of Agreement, stating,
from disposing of the conjugal property without the consent of the wife. Even more
among other, that out of the purchase price of P110,000.00 Vicente had remaining
fundamental is the fact that the nullity is decreed by the Code not on the basis of
balance of P19,000.00.[43] Clearly therefore, the special proceedings before the
prejudice but lack of consent of an indispensable party to the contract under Article
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch XXXI, could not have been the basis
of respondent spouses claim of good faith because the sale of Lot No. 4349-B-2
With respect to the third issue, the Court finds that respondent spouses are occurred prior thereto.
not purchasers in good faith. A purchaser in good faith is one who buys property of
Respondent spouses cannot deny knowledge that at the time of the sale in
another, without notice that some other person has a right to, or interest in, such
1978, Vicente was married to Ignacia and that the latter did not give her conformity
property and pays full and fair price for the same, at the time of such purchase, or
to the sale.This is so because the 1978 Agreement described Vicente as married but
before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other persons in the
the conformity of his wife to the sale did not appear in the deed. Obviously, the
property. He buys the property with the belief that the person from whom he
execution of another deed of sale in 1983 over the same Lot No. 4349-B-2, after the
receives the thing was the owner and could convey title to the property. A
alleged death of Ignacia on March 22, 1982, as well as the institution of the special
purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable man on his
proceedings were, intended to correct the absence of Ignacias consent to the
guard and still claim he acted in good faith.[38]
sale. Even assuming that respondent spouses believed in good faith that Ignacia
In the instant case, there existed circumstances that should have placed really died on March 22, 1982, after they purchased the lot, the fact remains that
respondent spouses on guard. The death certificate of Ignacia, shows that she died the sale of Lot No. 4349-B-2 prior to Ignacias alleged demise was without her
on March 22, 1982. The same death certificate, however, reveals that (1) it was consent and therefore subject to annulment. The October 14, 1983 order
issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Lubao Pampanga on March 10, 1982; authorizing the sale of the estate of Ignacia, could not have validated the sale of Lot
(2) the alleged death of Ignacia was reported to the Office of the Civil Registrar No. 4349-B-2 because said order was issued on the assumption that Ignacia was
on March 4, 1982; and (3) her burial or cremation would be on March 8, already dead and that the sale dated March 1, 1983 was never categorically
1982.[39] These obvious flaws in the death certificate should have prompted approved in the said order.
respondents to investigate further, especially so that respondent Florentina Mijares

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

The fact that the 5 minor children[44] of Vicente represented by the latter, thereafter, the interest rate shall be twelve percent (12%) per annum computed
signed the March 1, 1983 deed of sale of Lot No. 4349-B-2 will not estop them from from the time the judgment becomes final and executory until it is fully satisfied.
assailing the validity thereof. Not only were they too young at that time to
Petitioners prayer for payment of rentals should be denied. Other than the
understand the repercussions of the sale, they likewise had no right to sell the
property of their mother who, when they signed the deed, was very much alive. allegation of Ignacia in her Sinumpaang Salaysay that the apartments could be
rented at P1,000.00 a month, no other evidence was presented to substantiate her
If a voidable contract is annulled, the restoration of what has been given is claim. In awarding rentals which are in the nature of actual damages, the Court
proper. The relationship between parties in any contract even if subsequently cannot rely on mere assertions, speculations, conjectures or guesswork but must
annulled must always be characterized and punctuated by good faith and fair depend on competent proof and on the best evidence obtainable regarding the
dealing. Hence, for the sake of justice and equity, and in consonance with the actual amount of loss.[50] None, having been presented in the case at bar,
salutary principle of non-enrichment at anothers expense, the Court sustains the petitioners claim for rentals must be denied.
trial courts order directing Vicente to refund to respondent spouses the amount
While as a general rule, a party who has not appealed is not entitled to
of P110,000.00 which they have paid as purchase price of Lot No. 4349-B-2.[45] The
court a quo correctly found that the subject of the sale was the entire Lot No. 4349- affirmative relief other than the ones granted in the decision of the court below,
law and jurisprudence authorize a tribunal to consider errors, although unassigned,
B-2 and that the consideration thereof is not P40,000.00 as stated in the March 1,
if they involve (1) errors affecting the lower courts jurisdiction over the subject
1983 deed of sale, but P110,000.00 as evidenced by the (1) Agreement dated
November 25, 1978 as well as the July 30, 1979 Memorandum of Understanding matter, (2) plain errors not specified, and (3) clerical errors. [51] In this case, though
defendant Vicente Reyes did not appeal, the plain error committed by the court a
and the July 14, 1981 Memorandum of Agreement which served as receipts of the
quo as to the award of moral and exemplary damages must be corrected. These
installment payments made by respondent Cipriano Mijares; and (2) the receipt
awards cannot be lumped together as was done by the trial court. [52] Moral and
duly signed by Vicente Reyes acknowledging receipt of the amount of P110,000.00
from respondent spouses as payment of the sale of the controverted lot. [46] exemplary damages are different in nature, and require separate
determination. Moral damages are awarded where the claimant experienced
The trial court, however, erred in imposing 12% interest per annum on the physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation,
amount due the respondents. In Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury as a result of
Appeals,[47] it was held that interest on obligations not constituting a loan or the act complained of.[53] The award of exemplary damages, on the other hand, is
forbearance of money is six percent (6%) annually. If the purchase price could be warranted when moral, temperate, liquidated, or compensatory damages were
established with certainty at the time of the filing of the complaint, the six percent likewise awarded by the court.[54]
(6%) interest should be computed from the date the complaint was filed until
finality of the decision. In Lui v. Loy,[48] involving a suit for reconveyance and Hence, the trial courts award of P50,000.00 by way of moral and exemplary
damages should be modified. Vicente Reyes should be ordered to pay the amounts
annulment of title filed by the first buyer against the seller and the second buyer,
of P25,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. Since
the Court, ruling in favor of the first buyer and annulling the second sale, ordered
Vicente Reyes was among the heirs substituted to the late Ignacia Aguilar-Reyes,
the seller to refund to the second buyer (who was not a purchaser in good faith)
the purchase price of the lots. It was held therein that the 6% interest should be payment of moral and exemplary damages must be made by Vicente to his children,
petitioners in this case.
computed from the date of the filing of the complaint by the first buyer. After the
judgment becomes final and executory until the obligation is satisfied, the amount WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is PARTIALLY
due shall earn interest at 12% per year, the interim period being deemed equivalent GRANTED. The January 26, 2000 Decision and June 19, 2002, Resolution of the
to a forbearance of credit.[49] Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 28464 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The May 31,
1990 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 101, in Civil Case No.
Accordingly, the amount of P110,000.00 due the respondent spouses which
Q-48018, which annulled the March 1, 1983 Deed of Absolute Sale over Lot No.
could be determined with certainty at the time of the filing of the complaint shall
earn 6% interest per annum from June 4, 1986 until the finality of this decision. If 4349-B-2, and ordered the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel TCT No.
306087 in the name of respondent spouses Cipriano Mijares and Florentina Mijares
the adjudged principal and the interest (or any part thereof) remain unpaid
covering the same property; as well as the June 29, 1990 Order correcting the

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

typographical errors in the order dated March 1, 1983, are REINSTATED, with the
(1) The Register of Deeds of Quezon City is ordered to issue a new certificate
of title over Lot No. 4349-B-2, in the name of petitioners as co-owners thereof;
(2) Vicente Reyes is ordered to reimburse the respondent spouses the amount
of P110,000.00 as purchase price of Lot No. 4349-B-2, with interest at 6% per
annum from June 4, 1986, until finality of this decision. After this decision becomes
final, interest at the rate of 12% per annum on the principal and interest (or any
part thereof) shall be imposed until full payment.
(3) Defendant Vicente Reyes is ordered to pay the heirs of the late Ignacia
Aguilar-Reyes, the amounts of P25,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as
exemplary damages.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

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SECOND DIVISION On November 16, 1989, respondent sent a letter to Arturo and Esther
informing them of his readiness and willingness to pay the full amount of the
purchase price. The letter contained a demand upon the spouses to comply with
their obligation to turn over possession of the property to him. On the same date,
[G.R. No. 155043. September 30, 2004] Esther, through her attorney-in-fact, executed in favor of respondent, a Contract to
Sell the property to the extent of her conjugal interest therein for the sum of six
hundred fifty thousand pesos (P650,000.00) less the sum already received by her
JR., respondent.
and Arturo. Esther agreed to surrender possession of the property to respondent
within twenty (20) days from November 16, 1989, while the latter promised to pay
DECISION the balance of the purchase price in the amount of one million two hundred ninety
TINGA, J.: thousand pesos (P1,290,000.00) after being placed in possession of the
property. Esther also obligated herself to execute and deliver to respondent a deed
The instant petition seeks a reversal of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in of absolute sale upon full payment.
CA-G.R. CV No. 48355 entitled Dr. Galicano S. Macatangay, Jr. v. Arturo R. Abalos
and Esther Palisoc-Abalos, promulgated on March 14, 2002. The appellate court In a letter dated December 7, 1989, respondent informed the spouses that he
reversed the trial courts decision which dismissed the action for specific had set aside the amount of One Million Two Hundred Ninety Thousand Pesos
performance filed by respondent, and ordered petitioner and his wife to execute in (P1,290,000.00) as evidenced by Citibank Check No. 278107 as full payment of the
favor of herein respondent a deed of sale over the subject property. purchase price. He reiterated his demand upon them to comply with their
obligation to turn over possession of the property. Arturo and Esther failed to
Spouses Arturo and Esther Abalos are the registered owners of a parcel of land deliver the property which prompted respondent to cause the annotation of
with improvements located at Azucena St., Makati City consisting of about three another adverse claim on TCT No. 145316. On January 12, 1990, respondent filed a
hundred twenty-seven (327) square meters, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title complaint for specific performance with damages against petitioners. Arturo filed
(TCT) No. 145316 of the Registry of Deeds of Makati. his answer to the complaint while his wife was declared in default.
Armed with a Special Power of Attorney dated June 2, 1988, purportedly The Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed the complaint for specific
issued by his wife, Arturo executed a Receipt and Memorandum of performance. It ruled that the Special Power of Attorney (SPA) ostensibly issued by
Agreement (RMOA) dated October 17, 1989, in favor of respondent, Esther in favor of Arturo was void as it was falsified. Hence, the court concluded
binding himself to sell to respondent the subject property and not to offer the same that the SPA could not have authorized Arturo to sell the property to
to any other party within thirty (30) days from date.Arturo acknowledged receipt respondent. The trial court also noted that the check issued by respondent to cover
of a check from respondent in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), the earnest money was dishonored due to insufficiency of funds and while it was
representing earnest money for the subject property, the amount of which would replaced with another check by respondent, there is no showing that the second
be deducted from the purchase price of One Million Three Hundred Three Hundred check was issued as payment for the earnest money on the property.
Thousand Pesos (P1,300,000.00). Further, the RMOA stated that full payment
would be effected as soon as possession of the property shall have been turned On appeal taken by respondent, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of
over to respondent. the trial court. It ruled that the SPA in favor of Arturo, assuming that it was void,
cannot affect the transaction between Esther and respondent. The appellate court
Subsequently, Arturos wife, Esther, executed a Special Power of Attorney ratiocinated that it was by virtue of the SPA executed by Esther, in favor of her
dated October 25, 1989, appointing her sister, Bernadette Ramos, to act for and in sister, that the sale of the property to respondent was effected. On the other hand,
her behalf relative to the transfer of the property to respondent. Ostensibly, a the appellate court considered the RMOA executed by Arturo in favor of
marital squabble was brewing between Arturo and Esther at the time and to protect respondent valid to effect the sale of Arturos conjugal share in the property.
his interest, respondent caused the annotation of his adverse claim on the title of
the spouses to the property on November 14, 1989. Dissatisfied with the appellate courts disposition of the case, petitioner seeks
a reversal of its decision alleging that:

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

I. issued by respondent was intended to replace the first check representing payment
of earnest money.
The Court of Appeals committed serious and manifest error when it decided on the
Respondent admits that the subject property is co-owned by petitioner and
appeal without affording petitioner his right to due process.
his wife, but he objects to the allegations in the petition bearing a relation to the
II. supposed date of the marriage of the vendors. He contends that the alleged date
of marriage between petitioner and his wife is a new factual issue which was not
The Court of Appeals committed serious and manifest error in reversing and setting raised nor established in the court a quo. Respondent claims that there is no basis
aside the findings of fact by the trial court. to annul the sale freely and voluntarily entered into by the husband and the wife.

III. The focal issue in the instant petition is whether petitioner may be compelled
to convey the property to respondent under the terms of the RMOA and the
Contract to Sell. At bottom, the resolution of the issue entails the ascertainment of
The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that a contract to sell is a contract of sale, and
the contractual nature of the two documents and the status of the contracts
in ordering petitioner to execute a registrable form of deed of sale over the
contained therein.
property in favor of respondent.[1]
Contracts, in general, require the presence of three essential elements: (1)
Petitioner contends that he was not personally served with copies of
consent of the contracting parties; (2) object certain which is the subject matter of
summons, pleadings, and processes in the appeal proceedings nor was he given an
the contract; and (3) cause of the obligation which is established.[3]
opportunity to submit an appellees brief. He alleges that his counsel was in
the United States from 1994 to June 2000, and he never received any news or Until the contract is perfected, it cannot, as an independent source of
communication from him after the proceedings in the trial court were obligation, serve as a binding juridical relation.[4] In a contract of sale, the seller
terminated. Petitioner submits that he was denied due process because he was not must consent to transfer ownership in exchange for the price, the subject matter
informed of the appeal proceedings, nor given the chance to have legal must be determinate, and the price must be certain in money or its
representation before the appellate court. equivalent.[5] Being essentially consensual, a contract of sale is perfected at the
moment there is a meeting of the minds upon the thing which is the object of the
We are not convinced. The essence of due process is an opportunity to be
contract and upon the price.[6] However, ownership of the thing sold shall not be
heard. Petitioners failure to participate in the appeal proceedings is not due to a
transferred to the vendee until actual or constructive delivery of the property.[7]
cause imputable to the appellate court but because of petitioners own neglect in
ascertaining the status of his case. Petitioners counsel is equally negligent in failing On the other hand, an accepted unilateral promise which specifies the thing
to inform his client about the recent developments in the appeal to be sold and the price to be paid, when coupled with a valuable consideration
proceedings. Settled is the rule that a party is bound by the conduct, negligence and distinct andseparate from the price, is what may properly be termed a perfected
mistakes of his counsel.[2] Thus, petitioners plea of denial of due process is contract of option.[8] An option merely grants a privilege to buy or sell within an
downright baseless. agreed time and at a determined price. It is separate and distinct from that which
the parties may enter into upon the consummation of the option. [9] A perfected
Petitioner also blames the appellate court for setting aside the factual findings
contract of option does not result in the perfection or consummation of the sale;
of the trial court and argues that factual findings of the trial court are given much
only when the option is exercised may a sale be perfected. [10] The option must,
weight and respect when supported by substantial evidence. He asserts that the
however, be supported by a consideration distinct from the price. [11]
sale between him and respondent is void for lack of consent because the SPA
purportedly executed by his wife Esther is a forgery and therefore, he could not Perusing the RMOA, it signifies a unilateral offer of Arturo to sell the property
have validly sold the subject property to respondent. to respondent for a price certain within a period of thirty days. The RMOA does not
impose upon respondent an obligation to buy petitioners property, as in fact it does
Next, petitioner theorizes that the RMOA he executed in favor of respondent
not even bear his signature thereon. It is quite clear that after the lapse of the
was not perfected because the check representing the earnest money was
thirty-day period, without respondent having exercised his option, Arturo is free to
dishonored. He adds that there is no evidence on record that the second check

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

sell the property to another. This shows that the intent of Arturo is merely to grant proves that she did not give her consent to the transaction initiated by Arturo. The
respondent the privilege to buy the property within the period therein husband cannot alienate any real property of the conjugal partnership without the
stated. There is nothing in the RMOA which indicates that Arturo agreed therein to wifes consent.[17]
transfer ownership of the land which is an essential element in a contract of
sale. Unfortunately, the option is not binding upon the promissory since it is not However, it was the Contract to Sell executed by Esther through her attorney-
in-fact which the Court of Appeals made full use of. Holding that the contract is
supported by a consideration distinct from the price.[12]
valid, the appellate court explained that while Esther did not authorize Arturo to
As a rule, the holder of the option, after accepting the promise and before he sell the property, her execution of the SPA authorizing her sister to sell the land to
exercises his option, is not bound to buy. He is free either to buy or not to buy respondent clearly shows her intention to convey her interest in favor of
later. In Sanchez v. Rigos[13] we ruled that in an accepted unilateral promise to sell, respondent. In effect, the court declared that the lack of Esthers consent to the sale
the promissor is not bound by his promise and may, accordingly, withdraw it, since made by Arturo was cured by her subsequent conveyance of her interest in the
there may be no valid contract without a cause or consideration. Pending notice of property through her attorney-in-fact.
its withdrawal, his accepted promise partakes of the nature of an offer to sell which, We do not share the ruling.
if acceded or consented to, results in a perfected contract of sale.
The nullity of the RMOA as a contract of sale emanates not only from lack of
Even conceding for the nonce that respondent had accepted the offer within Esthers consent thereto but also from want of consideration and absence of
the period stated and, as a consequence, a bilateral contract of purchase and sale respondents signature thereon. Such nullity cannot be obliterated by Esthers
was perfected, the outcome would be the same. To benefit from such situation, subsequent confirmation of the putative transaction as expressed in the Contract
respondent would have to pay or at least make a valid tender of payment of the to Sell. Under the law, a void contract cannot be ratified [18] and the action or
price for only then could he exact compliance with the undertaking of the other defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe.[19] A
party.[14] This respondent failed to do. By his own admission, he merely informed void contract produces no effect either against or in favor of anyoneit cannot
respondent spouses of his readiness and willingness to pay. The fact that he had set create, modify or extinguish the juridical relation to which it refers.[20]
aside a check in the amount of One Million Two Hundred Ninety Thousand Pesos
True, in the Contract to Sell, Esther made reference to the earlier RMOA
(P1,290,000.00) representing the balance of the purchase price could not help his
executed by Arturo in favor of respondent. However, the RMOA which Arturo
cause. Settled is the rule that tender of payment must be made in legal tender. A
check is not legal tender, and therefore cannot constitute a valid tender of signed is different from the deed which Esther executed through her attorney-in-
fact. For one, the first is sought to be enforced as a contract of sale while the second
payment.[15] Not having made a valid tender of payment, respondents action for
is purportedly a contract to sell only. For another, the terms and conditions as to
specific performance must fail.
the issuance of title and delivery of possession are divergent.
With regard to the payment of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), the Court is
The congruence of the wills of the spouses is essential for the valid disposition
of the view that the amount is not earnest money as the term is understood in
of conjugal property. Where the conveyance is contained in the same document
Article 1482 which signifies proof of the perfection of the contract of sale, but
which bears the conformity of both husband and wife, there could be no question
merely a guarantee that respondent is really interested to buy the property. It is
not the giving of earnest money, but the proof of the concurrence of all the essential on the validity of the transaction. But when there are two documents on which the
signatures of the spouses separately appear, textual concordance of the documents
elements of the contract of sale which establishes the existence of a perfected
is indispensable. Hence, in this case where the wifes putative consent to the sale of
sale.[16] No reservation of ownership on the part of Arturo is necessary since, as
conjugal property appears in a separate document which does not, however,
previously stated, he has never agreed to transfer ownership of the property to
respondent. contain the same terms and conditions as in the first document signed by the
husband, a valid transaction could not have arisen.
Granting for the sake of argument that the RMOA is a contract of sale, the
Quite a bit of elucidation on the conjugal partnership of gains is in order.
same would still be void not only for want of consideration and absence of
respondents signature thereon, but also for lack of Esthers conformity Arturo and Esther appear to have been married before the effectivity of the
thereto. Quite glaring is the absence of the signature of Esther in the RMOA, which Family Code. There being no indication that they have adopted a different property

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Persons and Fam. Relations Ass. 8

regime, their property relations would automatically be governed by the regime of marriage had been judicially decreed, upon their petition for any of the causes
conjugal partnership of gains.[21] specified in Article 191[32] of the Civil Code in relation to Article 214[33] thereof.
The subject land which had been admittedly acquired during the marriage of As an exception, the husband may dispose of conjugal property without the
the spouses forms part of their conjugal partnership.[22] wifes consent if such sale is necessary to answer for conjugal liabilities mentioned
in Articles 161 and 162 of the Civil Code.[34] In Tinitigan v. Tinitigan, Sr.,[35] the Court
Under the Civil Code, the husband is the administrator of the conjugal
ruled that the husband may sell property belonging to the conjugal partnership
partnership. This right is clearly granted to him by law.[23] More, the husband is the
even without the consent of the wife if the sale is necessary to answer for a big
sole administrator.The wife is not entitled as of right to joint administration. [24]
conjugal liability which might endanger the familys economic standing. This is one
The husband, even if he is statutorily designated as administrator of the instance where the wifes consent is not required and, impliedly, no judicial
conjugal partnership, cannot validly alienate or encumber any real property of the intervention is necessary.
conjugal partnership without the wifes consent.[25] Similarly, the wife cannot
Significantly, the Family Code has introduced some changes particularly on the
dispose of any property belonging to the conjugal partnership without the
aspect of the administration of the conjugal partnership. The new law provides that
conformity of the husband. The law is explicit that the wife cannot bind the conjugal the administration of the conjugal partnership is now a joint undertaking of the
partnership without the husbands consent, except in cases provided by law. [26]
husband and the wife. In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise
More significantly, it has been held that prior to the liquidation of the conjugal unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal partnership, the other
partnership, the interest of each spouse in the conjugal assets is inchoate, a mere spouse may assume sole powers of administration. However, the power of
expectancy, which constitutes neither a legal nor an equitable estate, and does not administration does not include the power to dispose or encumber property
ripen into title until it appears that there are assets in the community as a result of belonging to the conjugal partnership.[36] In all instances, the present law
the liquidation and settlement. The interest of each spouse is limited to the net specifically requires the written consent of the other spouse, or authority of the
remainder or remanente liquido (haber ganancial) resulting from the liquidation of court for the disposition or encumbrance of conjugal partnership property without
the affairs of the partnership after its dissolution.[27] Thus, the right of the husband which, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void.[37]
or wife to one-half of the conjugal assets does not vest until the dissolution and
Inescapably, herein petitioners action for specific performance must fail. Even
liquidation of the conjugal partnership, or after dissolution of the marriage, when
on the supposition that the parties only disposed of their respective shares in the
it is finally determined that, after settlement of conjugal obligations, there are net property, the sale, assuming that it exists, is still void for as previously stated, the
assets left which can be divided between the spouses or their respective heirs. [28]
right of the husband or the wife to one-half of the conjugal assets does not vest
In not a few cases, we ruled that the sale by the husband of property belonging until the liquidation of the conjugal partnership. Nemo dat qui non habet. No one
to the conjugal partnership without the consent of the wife when there is no can give what he has not.
showing that the latter is incapacitated is void ab initio because it is in
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
contravention of the mandatory requirements of Article 166 of the Civil
complaint in Civil Case No. 90-106 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati is ordered
Code.[29] Since Article 166 of the Civil Code requires the consent of the wife before
DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.
the husband may alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal
partnership, it follows that acts or transactions executed against this mandatory SO ORDERED.
provision are void except when the law itself authorizes their validity. [30] Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.
Chico-Nazario, J., on leave.
Quite recently, in San Juan Structural and Steel Fabricators, Inc. v. Court of
Appeals,[31] we ruled that neither spouse could alienate in favor of another, his or
her interest in the partnership or in any property belonging to it, or ask for partition
of the properties before the partnership itself had been legally
dissolved. Nonetheless, alienation of the share of each spouse in the conjugal
partnership could be had after separation of property of the spouses during the

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