Siguan vs. Lim

G.R. No. 134686, 19 November 1999

FACTS:

On 25 and 26 August 1990, respondent issued two Metrobank checks to petitioner. However, the checks were dishonored for the reason account closed. After demands to make good the checks proved futile, a criminal case for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was filed by the petitioner with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City. The lower court convicted the respondent. On 31 July 1990 respondent was also charged with estafa by a certain Victoria Suarez. Respondent was acquitted but held civilly liable.

On 2 July 1991, a Deed of Donation conveying the parcels of land and purportedly executed by respondent on 10 August 1989 in favor of her children was registered. On 23 June 1993, petitioner filed an accion pauliana against respondent and her children to rescind the questioned Deed of Donation. She alleges that respondent and her children conspired to fraudulently transfer all her real property to her children in bad faith and in fraud of creditors, including her.

The trial court ordered the rescission of the deed of donation. But upon appeal, the CA reversed the decision contending that two of the requisites for filing an accion pauliana were absent, namely, (1) there must be a credit existing prior to the celebration of the contract; and (2) there must be a fraud, or at least the intent to commit fraud, to the prejudice of the creditor seeking the rescission. The CA argues the deed of donation appears to have been executed in 1989 prior to any credit.

ISSUES:

Whether or not the Deed of Donation executed by respondent Rosa Lim in favor of her children be rescinded for being in fraud of her alleged creditor, petitioner Maria Antonia Siguan.

RULING:

No. The alleged debt of respondent in favor of petitioner was incurred in August 1990, while the deed of donation was purportedly executed on 10 August 1989. Article 1381 of the Civil Code enumerates the contracts which are rescissible, and among them are those contracts undertaken in fraud of creditors when the latter cannot in any other manner collect the claims due them. The action to rescind contracts in fraud of creditors is known as accion pauliana. For this action to prosper, the following requisites must be present: (1) the plaintiff asking for rescission has a credit prior to the alienation, although demandable later; (2) the debtor has made a subsequent contract conveying a patrimonial benefit to a third person; (3) the creditor has no other legal remedy to satisfy his claim; (4) the act being impugned is fraudulent; (5) the third person who received the property conveyed, if it is by onerous title, has been an accomplice in the fraud.
The fourth requisite for an accion pauliana to prosper is not present either.

Article 1387, first paragraph, of the Civil Code provides: All contracts by virtue of which the debtor alienates property by gratuitous title are presumed to have been entered into in fraud of creditors when the donor did not reserve sufficient property to pay all debts contracted before the donation. Likewise, Article 759 of the same Code, second paragraph, states that the donation is always presumed to be in fraud of creditors when at the time thereof the donor did not reserve sufficient property to pay his debts prior to the donation.

For this presumption of fraud to apply, it must be established that the donor did not leave adequate properties which creditors might have recourse for the collection of their credits existing before the execution of the donation. As earlier discussed, petitioners alleged credit existed only a year after the deed of donation was executed. She cannot, therefore, be said to have been prejudiced or defrauded by such alienation. Evidence also disclose that respondent still had other properties when the deed of donation was executed.

 * Case digest by Suzeyne Garcia, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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