Melliza v. City of Iloilo

23 SCRA 477

FACTS:

Juliana Melliza owned 3 parcels of residential land in Iloilo City (OCT 3462). Said parcels of land were known as Lots Nos. 2, 5 and 1214. The total area of Lot 1214 was 29,073 sq. m. She donated to the then Municipality of Iloilo to serve as site for the municipal hall. The donation was revoked by the parties for the reason that the area donated was not enough to development plan of the municipality, the so- called “Arellano Plan.”

Certeza Surveying Co., Inc. divided subsequently Lot 1214 into four parts named; Lot 1214A, Lot 1214B, Lot 1214C, and Lot1214D. Juliana Melliza executed an instrument without any caption providing for the absolute sale of all of lot 5, in favor of the Municipal Government of Iloilo for the sum of P6,422Melliza later sold her remaining interest in Lot 1214 to Remedios Sian Villanueva which later transferred to Pio Sian Melliza. Annotated at the back of Pio Sian Melliza’s title certificate was the following ‘that a portion of 10,788 sq. m. of Lot 1214 now designated as Lots 1412-B-2 and 1214-B-3 of the subdivision plan belongs to the Municipality of Iloilo as per instrument dated November 15 1932’, On 24 August 1949 the City of Iloilo, which succeeded to the Arellano Plan, donated the city hall site together with the building thereon, to the University of the Philippines (Iloilo branch).

In 1952, the University of the Philippines enclosed the site donated with a wire fence. Pio Sian Melliza thereupon made representations, through his lawyer, with the city authorities for payment of the value of the lot (Lot 1214-B). No recovery was obtained, because the City allegedly did not have funds. The University of the Philippines, meanwhile, obtained Transfer Certificate of Title No. 7152 covering the three lots, Nos. 1214-B, 1214-C and 1214-D.

Pio Sian Melizza filed an action in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo against Iloilo City and the University of the Philippines for recovery of Lot 1214-B or of its value. After stipulation of facts and trial, the Court of First Instance decided on dismissing the complaint. Court ruled that the title certificate Juliana Melliza presented was in favor to the respondent, included in the conveyance Lot 1214-B, for that Iloilo City had the right to donate Lot 1214-B to UP. Pio Sian Melliza appealed to the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the interpretation of the Court of First Instance that the portion of Lot 1214 sold by Juliana Melliza was not limited to the 10,788 square meters specifically mentioned but included whatever was needed for the construction of avenues, parks and the city hall site. Nonetheless, it ordered the remand of the case for reception of evidence to determine the area actually taken by Iloilo City for the construction of avenues, parks and for city hall site.

The Court affirmed the decision appealed from insofar as it affirms that of the Court of First Instance, and dismissed the complaint.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the conveyance by Juliana Melliza to Iloilo municipality included that portion of Lot 1214 known as Lot 1214-B.

RULING:

First of all, there is no question that the paramount intention of the parties was to provide Iloilo municipality with lots sufficient or adequate in area for the construction of the Iloilo City hall site, with its avenues and parks.

Secondly, reading the public instrument in toto, with special reference to the paragraphs describing the lots included in the sale, shows that said instrument describes four parcels of land by their lot numbers and area; and then it goes on to further describe, not only those lots already mentioned, but the lots object of the sale, by stating that said lots are the ones needed for the construction of the city hall site, avenues and parks according to the Arellano plan. If the parties intended merely to cover the specified lots — Lots 2, 5, 1214-C and 1214-D, there would scarcely have been any need for the next paragraph, since these lots are already plainly and very clearly described by their respective lot number and area. Said next paragraph does not really add to the clear description that was already given to them in the previous one.

The requirement of the law that a sale must have for its object a determinate thing, is fulfilled as long as, at the time the contract is entered into, the object of the sale is capable of being made determinate without the necessity of a new or further agreement between the parties. The specific mention of some of the lots plus the statement that the lots object of the sale are the ones needed for city hall site, avenues and parks, according to the Arellano plan, sufficiently provides a basis, as of the time of the execution of the contract, for rendering determinate said lots without the need of a new and further agreement of the parties.

Appellant however fails to consider that the area needed under that plan for city hall site was then already known; that the specific mention of some of the lots covered by the sale in effect fixed the corresponding location of the city hall site under the plan; that, therefore, considering the said lots specifically mentioned in the public instrument Exhibit “D”, and the projected city hall site, with its area, as then shown in the Arellano plan (Exhibit 2), it could be determined which, and how much of the portions of land contiguous to those specifically named, were needed for the construction of the city hall site.

And, moreover, there is no question either that Lot 1214-B is contiguous to Lots 1214-C and 1214-D, admittedly covered by the public instrument. It is stipulated that, after execution of the contract , the Municipality of Iloilo possessed it together with the other lots sold. It sits practically in the heart of the city hall site.

Furthermore, Pio Sian Melliza, from the stipulation of facts, was the notary public of the public instrument. Said instrument was also registered with the Register of Deeds and such registration was annotated at the back of the corresponding title certificate of Juliana Melliza. From these stipulated facts, it can be inferred that Pio Sian Melliza knew of the aforesaid terms of the instrument or is chargeable with knowledge of them; that knowing so, he should have examined the Arellano plan in relation to the public instrument Exhibit “D”; that, furthermore, he should have taken notice of the possession first by the Municipality of Iloilo, then by the City of Iloilo and later by the University of the Philippines of Lot 1214-B as part of the city hall site conveyed under that public instrument, and raised proper objections thereto if it was his position that the same was not included in the same. The fact remains that, instead, for twenty long years, Pio Sian Melliza and his predecessors-in-interest, did not object to said possession, nor exercise any act of possession over Lot 1214-B. Applying, therefore, principles of civil law, as well as laches, estoppel, and equity, said lot must necessarily be deemed included in the conveyance in favor of Iloilo municipality, now Iloilo City.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed insofar as it affirms that of the Court of First Instance, and the complaint in this case is dismissed.

*Case Digest by Radolfzell Adasa, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020

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