G.R. No. 93010, 30 August 1990


On August 30, 1983, Nicencio Tan Quiombing and Dante Biscocho, as the First Party, jointly and severally bound themselves in a “Construction and Service Agreement” to construct a house for private respondents Francisco and Manuelita Saligo, as the Second Party, for the contract price of P137,940.00, which the latter agreed to pay. On October 10, 1984, Quiombing and Manuelita Saligo entered into a second written agreement under which the latter acknowledged the completion of the house and undertook to pay the balance of the contract price in the manner prescribed in the said second agreement. On November 19, 1984, Manuelita Saligo signed a promissory note for P125,363.50 representing the amount still due from her and her husband, payable on or before December 31, 1984, to Nicencio Tan Quiombing.

On October 9, 1986, Quiombing filed a complaint for recovery of the said amount, plus charges and interests, which the private respondents had acknowledged and promised to pay but had not, despite repeated demands. Instead of filing an answer, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on February 4, 1987, contending that Biscocho was an indispensable party and therefore should have been included as a co-plaintiff.

Whether or not Biscocho is an indispensable party in the case.

Article 1212 of the Civil Code provides:

Each one of the solidary creditors may do whatever may be useful to the others, but not anything which may be prejudice to the latter. Suing for the recovery of the contract price is certainly a useful act that Quiombing could do by himself alone.

A joint obligation is one in which each of the debtors is liable only for a proportionate part of the debt, and each creditor is entitled only to a proportionate part of the credit. A solidary obligation is one in which each debtor is liable for the entire obligation, and each creditor is entitled to demand the whole obligation. Hence, in the former, each creditor can recover only his share of the obligation, and each debtor can be made to pay only his part; whereas, in the latter, each creditor may enforce the entire obligation, and each debtor may be obliged to pay it in full.

The essence of active solidarity consists in the authority of each creditor to claim and enforce the rights of all, with the resulting obligation of paying every one what belongs to him; there is no merger, much less a renunciation of rights, but only mutual representation.

The question of who should sue the private respondents was a personal issue between Quiombing and Biscocho in which the spouses Saligo had no right to interfere. It did not matter who as between them filed the complaint because the private respondents were liable to either of the two as a solidary creditor for the full amount of the debt. Full satisfaction of a judgment obtained against them by Quiombing would discharge their obligation to Biscocho, and vice versa; hence, it was not necessary for both Quiombing and Biscocho to file the complaint. Inclusion of Biscocho as a co-plaintiff, when Quiombing was competent to sue by himself alone, would be a useless formality.

Parenthetically, it must be observed that the complaint having been filed by the petitioner, whatever amount is awarded against the debtor must be paid exclusively to him, pursuant to Article 1214. This provision states that “the debtor may pay any of the solidary creditors; but if any demand, judicial or extrajudicial, has been made by any one of them, payment should be made to him.

If Quiombing eventually collects the amount due from the solidary debtors, Biscocho may later claim his share thereof, but that decision is for him alone to make. It will affect only the petitioner as the other solidary creditor and not the private respondents, who have absolutely nothing to do with this matter. As far as they are concerned, payment of the judgment debt to the complainant will be considered payment to the other solidary creditor even if the latter was not a party to the suit.

Although he signed the original Construction and Service Agreement, Biscocho need not be included as a co-plaintiff in the complaint filed by the petitioner against the private respondents. Quiombing as solidary creditor can by himself alone enforce payment of the construction costs by the private respondents and as a solidary debtor may by himself alone be held liable for any possible breach of contract that may be proved by the private respondents. In either case, the participation of Biscocho is not at all necessary, much less indispensable.

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