G.R. No. 136054, September 05, 2001
A parcel of land originally claimed by Severina San Miguel was divided into three (3) lots by Dominador without Severina’s knowledge. Dominador, et al. filed a petition with the Court of First Instance, Caviteto issue title over Lots 1 and 2 in their names and a decision directing the issuance of Original Certificate of Title in the names of Dominador, et al. Severina then filed with the Court of First Instance of Cavite a petition for review of the decision alleging that the land registration proceedings were fraudulently concealed by Dominador. The court resolved to set aside the decision of July 19, 1977, and declared the said Original Certificate of Title as null and void. The Register of Deeds of Cavite issued a Transfer Certificate of Title in the names of Severina and her heirs. The trial court issued an order in favor of Severinas heirs to let the writ of possession previously issued in favor of petitioner Severina San Miguel be implemented. However, the writ was returned unsatisfied.
On August 6, 1993, Severina’s heirs decided not to pursue the writs of possession and demolition and entered into a compromise with Dominador, et al. According to the compromise, Severina’s heirs were to sell the subject lots to Dominador, et al. with the delivery of Transfer Certificate of Title conditioned upon the purchase of another lot which was not yet titled.pursuant to the compromise, Severinas heirs and Dominador, et al. executed a deed of sale. Dominador, et al. filed a motion praying that Severinas heir’s deliver the owner’s copy of the certificate of title to them but Severinas heirs opposed the motion stressing that under the kasunduan, the certificate of title would only be surrendered upon Dominador, et al’s payment of the amount of three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) within two months from August 6, 1993, which was not complied with. Dominador, et al. admitted non-payment of three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) for the reason that Severinas heirs have not presented any proof of ownership over the untitled parcel of land. Dominador, et al. prayed that compliance with the kasunduan be deferred until such time that Severina’s heirs could produce proof of ownership over the parcel of land.
Dominador, et al. may be compelled to pay the three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) as agreed upon in the kasunduan (as a pre-requisite for the release of the certificate of title), despite Severinas heirs lack of evidence of ownership over the parcel of land.
The Court finds the petition no merit. Severina’s heirs are not in a position to transfer title. Without passing on the question of who actually owned the land covered by LRC Psu -1312, we note that there is no proof of ownership in favor of Severinas heirs. In fact, it is a certain Emiliano Eugenio, who holds a tax declaration over the said land in his name. Though tax declarations do not prove ownership of the property of the declarant, tax declarations and receipts can be strong evidence of ownership of land when accompanied by possession for a period sufficient for prescription. Severinas heirs have nothing to counter this document.
Therefore, to insist that Dominador, et al. pay the price under such circumstances would result in Severinas heir’s unjust enrichment. Basic is the principle in law, Niguno non deue enriquecerse tortizamente condano de otro. The essence of a sale is the transfer of title or an agreement to transfer it for a price actually paid or promised. In Nool v. Court of Appeals, we held that if the sellers cannot deliver the object of the sale to the buyers, such contract may be deemed to be inoperative. By analogy, such a contract may fall under Article 1405, No. 5 of the Civil Code, to wit:
Article 1405. The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning: xxx
(5) Those which contemplate an impossible service.
Severinas heirs insist that delivery of the certificate of title is predicated on a condition – payment of three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) to cover the sale of Lot 3 of. We find this argument not meritorious. The condition cannot be honored for reasons afore-discussed. Article 1183 of the Civil Code provides that “Impossible conditions, those contrary to good customs or public policy and those prohibited by law shall annul the obligation which depends upon them. If the obligation is divisible, that part thereof which is not affected by the impossible or unlawful condition shall be valid. Xxx” Hence, the non-payment of the three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) is not a valid justification for refusal to deliver the certificate of title. The certificate of title covers Lots 1 and 2 which were fully paid for by Dominador, et al. Therefore, Severinas heirs are bound to deliver the certificate of title covering the lots.
* Case digest by Paula Bianca Eguia, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018