This is an action to recover the possession of a piece of real property (land and warehouses) situated in Pandacan Manila, and the rentals for its occupation and use. The land belongs to the plaintiff, Sagrada Orden, in whose name the title was registered before the war. During the Japanese military occupation, the land was acquired by a Japanese corporation, Taiwan Tekkosho
After the liberation, the Alien Property Custodian of the United States took possession, control, and custody of the real property.
During the year 1946, the property was occupied by the Copra Export Management Company under the custodianship agreement with United States Alien Property Custodian, and when it vacated, the property was occupied by defendant National Coconut Corporation.
Sagrada Orden made claim to the property before the Alien Property Custodian of the United States but was denied.
Hence, plaintiff brought an action in court to annul the sale of property of Taiwan Tekkosho, and recover its possession.
The present action is to recover the reasonable rentals from August, 1946, the date when the defendant began to occupy the premises, to the date it vacated it. The defendant does not contest its liability for the rentals at the rate of P3,000 per month from February 28, 1949 (the date specified in the judgment in said civil case), but resists the claim therefor prior to this date. It interposes the defense that it occupied the property in good faith, under no obligation whatsoever to pay rentals for the use and occupation of the warehouse.
Can the defendant company be held liable to pay rentals from August 1946 to the date it vacated?
No. If defendant-appellant is liable at all, its obligations, must arise from any of the four sources of obligations, namely, law, contract or quasi-contract, crime, or negligence. Defendant-appellant is not guilty of any offense at all, because it entered the premises and occupied it with the permission of the entity which had the legal control and administration thereof, the Alien Property Administration. Neither was there any negligence on its part.
There was also no privity between the Alien Property Custodian and the Taiwan Tekkosho, which had secured the possession of the property from the plaintiff-appellee by the use of duress, such that the Alien Property Custodian or its permittee (defendant-appellant) may be held responsible for the supposed illegality of the occupation of the property by the said Taiwan Tekkosho.
The Alien Property Administration had the control and administration of the property not as successor to the interests of the enemy holder of the title, the Taiwan Tekkosho. Neither is it a trustee of the former owner, the plaintiff-appellee herein, but a trustee of then Government of the United States, in its own right, to the exclusion of, and against the claim or title of, the enemy owner. From August, 1946, when defendant-appellant took possession, to the late of judgment on February 28, 1949, Alien Property Administration had the absolute control of the property as trustee of the Government of the United States, with power to dispose of it by sale or otherwise, as though it were the absolute owner. Therefore, even if defendant appellant were liable to the Alien Property Administration for rentals, these would not accrue to the benefit of the plaintiff-appellee, the owner, but to the United States Government.