Civil Law

Quijada v. CA G.R. No. 126444. December 4, 1998 Sale

FACTS:

On April 5, 1956, Trinidad Quijada together with her sisters and brother, executed a conditional deed of donation of the two-hectare parcel of land subject of the case in favor of the Municipality of Talacogon, the condition being that the parcel of land shall be used solely and exclusively as part of the campus of the proposed provincial high school in Talacogon.

On July 29, 1962, Trinidad sold one (1) hectare of the subject parcel of land to Regalado Mondejar (respondent). Subsequently, Trinidad verbally sold the remaining one (1) hectare to  respondent without the benefit of a written deed of sale and evidenced solely by receipts of payment. After the death of Trinidad, her heirs filed a complaint for forcible entry against respondent, which complaint was, however, dismissed for failure to prosecute.

The proposed provincial high school having failed to materialize, the Sangguniang Bayan of the municipality of Talacogon enacted a resolution reverting the two (2) hectares of land donated back to the donors. In the meantime, respondent Regalado Mondejar sold portions of the land to  several persons.

Petitioners filed this action against respondents, alleging that their deceased mother never sold, conveyed, transferred or disposed of the property in question to any person or entity much less to Regalado Mondejar save the donation made to the Municipality of Talacogon in 1956; that at the time of the alleged sale to Regalado Mondejar by Trinidad Quijada, the land still belongs to the Municipality of Talacogon, hence, the supposed sale is null and void.

As affirmative and/or special defense, respondents alleged that plaintiffs’ action is barred by laches or has prescribed.

Judgment was rendered in favor of the petitioner.

On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the judgment, ruling that the sale made by Trinidad Quijada to respondent Mondejar was valid as the former retained an inchoate interest on the lots by virtue of the automatic reversion clause in the deed of donation.

 

ISSUE:

Whether the sale of the subject property made by Trinidad Quijada to respondent Mondejar is void, considering that at that time, ownership was already transferred to the Municipality of Talacogon.

 

RULING:

We affirm the decision of the respondent court.

Be that at it may, there is one thing which militates against the claim of petitioners. Sale, being a consensual contract, is perfected by mere consent, which is manifested the moment there is a meeting of the minds as to the offer and acceptance thereof on three (3) elements: subject matter, price and terms of payment of the price. ownership by the seller on the thing sold at the time of the perfection of the contract of sale is not an element for its perfection.

What the law requires is that the seller has the right to transfer ownership at the time the thing sold is delivered. Perfection per se does not transfer ownership which occurs upon the actual or constructive delivery of the thing sold. A perfected contract of sale cannot be challenged on the ground of non-ownership on the part of the seller at the time of its perfection; hence, the sale is still valid.

The consummation, however, of the perfected contract is another matter. It occurs upon the constructive or actual delivery of the subject matter to the buyer when the seller or her successors-in-interest subsequently acquires ownership thereof. Such circumstance happened in this case when petitioners — who are Trinidad Quijada’s heirs and successors-in-interest — became the owners of the subject property upon the reversion of the ownership of the land to them. Consequently, ownership is transferred to respondent Mondejar and those who claim their right from him. Article 1434 of the New Civil Code supports the ruling that the seller’s “title passes by operation of law to the buyer.” This rule applies not only when the subject matter of the contract of sale is goods, but also to other kinds of property, including real property.

There is also no merit in petitioners’ contention that since the lots were owned by the municipality at the time of the sale, they were outside the commerce of men under Article 1409 (4) of the NCC; thus, the contract involving the same is inexistent and void from the beginning. However, nowhere in Article 1409 (4) is it provided that the properties of a municipality, whether it be those for public use or its patrimonial property are outside the commerce of men.

Besides, the lots in this case were conditionally owned by the municipality. To rule that the donated properties are outside the commerce of men would render nugatory the unchallenged reasonableness and justness of the condition which the donor has the right to impose as owner thereof. Moreover, the objects referred to as outsides the commerce of man are those which cannot be appropriated, such as the open seas and the heavenly bodies.

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