Gervasia de la Rosa, Vda. de Vera, was the lessee of a parcel of land in Manila and owner of the house of strong materials built thereon. She executed a document in the form of a chattel mortgage, purporting to convey to the petitioner by way of mortgage both the leasehold interest in said lot and the building which stands thereon.
After said document had been duly acknowledge and delivered, the petitioner caused the same to be presented to the respondent, Joaquin Jaramillo, as register of deeds of the City of Manila, for the purpose of having the same recorded in the book of record of chattel mortgages. Upon examination of the instrument, the respondent was of the opinion that it was not a chattel mortgage, for the reason that the interest therein mortgaged did not appear to be personal property, within the meaning of the Chattel Mortgage Law, and registration was refused on this ground only.
Whether it is proper to record the deed in the book of of chattel mortgages.
The position taken by the respondent register of deeds is untenable; and it is his duty to accept the proper fee and place the instrument on record. The duties of a register of deeds in respect to the registration of chattel mortgage are of a purely ministerial character; and no provision of law can be cited which confers upon him any judicial or quasi-judicial power to determine the nature of any document of which registration is sought as a chattel mortgage.
Articles 334 and 335 of the Civil Code supply no absolute criterion for discriminating between real property and personal property for purpose of the application of the Chattel Mortgage Law. Those articles state rules which, considered as a general doctrine, are law in this jurisdiction; but it must not be forgotten that under given conditions property may have character different from that imputed to it in said articles. It is undeniable that the parties to a contract may by agreement treat as personal property that which by nature would be real property; and it is a familiar phenomenon to see things classed as real property for purposes of taxation which on general principle might be considered personal property.