Filinvest Credit Corporation v. Philippine Acetylene

G.R. No. L-50449, 10 January 1982

FACTS:

Philippine Acetylene Co., Inc. purchased from Alexander Lima motor vehicle described as Chevorlet 1969 model for P55,247.80 with a down payment of P20,000.00 and the balance of P35,247.80 payable, under the terms and conditions of the promissory note at a monthly installment of P1,036.70 for thirty-four (34) months, due and payable on the first day of each month starting December 1971 through and inclusive September 1, 1974. As security for the payment of the said promissory note, the appellant executed a chattel mortgage over the same motor vehicle in favor of said Alexander Lim. Subsequently, Alexander Lim assigned to the Filinvest Finance Corporation all his rights, title, and interests in the promissory note and chattel mortgage by virtue of a Deed of Assignment.

Appellant failed to comply with the terms and conditions set forth in the promissory note and chattel mortgage since it had defaulted in the payment of nine successive installments. Appellee then sent a demand letter whereby its counsel demanded that appellant remit the amount in full in addition to stipulated interest and charges or return the mortgaged property to his client’s office within five (5) days from the date of this letter during office hours. Appellant wrote back advising appellee of its decision to “return the mortgaged property and accordingly, the mortgaged vehicle was returned to the appellee together with the document “Voluntary Surrender with Special Power of Attorney To Sell”.

Appellee wrote a letter to appellant informing the latter that appellee cannot sell the motor vehicle as there were unpaid taxes on the said vehicle requested the appellant to update its account by paying the installments in arrears and accruing interest. Appellee offered to deliver back the motor vehicle to the appellant but the latter refused to accept it, so appellee instituted an action for collection of a sum of money with damages in the Court of First Instance of Manila.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the return of the mortgaged motor vehicle to the appellee by virtue of its voluntary surrender by the appellant totally extinguished and/or canceled its obligation to the appellee.

RULING:

Appellant’s contention devoid of persuasive force. The mere return of the mortgaged motor vehicle by the mortgagor, the herein appellant, to the mortgagee, the herein appellee, does not constitute dation in payment or dacion en pago in the absence, express or implied of the true intention of the parties.

Dacion en pago is the transmission of the ownership of a thing by the debtor to the creditor as an accepted equivalent of the performance of obligation. In dacion en pago, as a special mode of payment, the debtor offers another thing to the creditor who accepts it as equivalent of payment of an outstanding debt. The undertaking really partakes in one sense of the nature of sale, that is, the creditor is really buying the thing or property of the debtor, payment for which is to be charged against the debtor’s debt. As such, the essential elements of a contract of sale, namely, consent, object certain, and cause or consideration must be present. In its modern concept, what actually takes place in dacion en pago is an objective novation of the obligation where the thing offered as an accepted equivalent of the performance of an obligation is considered as the object of the contract of sale, while the debt is considered as the purchase price. In any case, common consent is an essential prerequisite, be it sale or innovation to have the effect of totally extinguishing the debt or obligation.

The evidence on the record fails to show that the mortgagee, the herein appellee, consented, or at least intended, that the mere delivery to, and acceptance by him, of the mortgaged motor vehicle be construed as actual payment, more specifically dation in payment or dacion en pago. The fact that the mortgaged motor vehicle was delivered to him does not necessarily mean that ownership thereof, as juridically contemplated by dacion en pago, was transferred from appellant to appellee. In the absence of clear consent of appellee to the proferred special mode of payment, there can be no transfer of ownership of the mortgaged motor vehicle from appellant to appellee. If at all, only transfer of possession of the mortgaged motor vehicle took place, for it is quite possible that appellee, as mortgagee, merely wanted to secure possession to forestall the loss, destruction, fraudulent transfer of the vehicle to third persons, or its being rendered valueless if left in the hands of the appellant.

A more solid basis of the true intention of the parties is furnished by the document executed by appellant captioned “Voluntary Surrender with Special Power of Attorney To Sell”. An examination of the language of the document reveals that the possession of the mortgaged motor vehicle was voluntarily surrendered by the appellant to the appellee authorizing the latter to look for a buyer and sell the vehicle in behalf of the appellant who retains ownership thereof, and to apply the proceeds of the sale to the mortgage indebtedness, with the undertaking of the appellant to pay the difference, if any, between the selling price and the mortgage obligation. With the stipulated conditions as stated, the appellee, in essence was constituted as a mere agent to sell the motor vehicle which was delivered to the appellee, not as its property, for if it were, he would have full power of disposition of the property, not only to sell it as is the limited authority given him in the special power of attorney. Had appellee intended to completely release appellant of its mortgage obligation, there would be no necessity of executing the document captioned “Voluntary Surrender with Special Power of Attorney To Sell.” Nowhere in the said document can. We find that the mere surrender of the mortgaged motor vehicle to the appellee extinguished appellant’s obligation for the unpaid price.

* Case digest by Paula Bianca B. Eguia, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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