Heirs of Jesus M. Mascunana v. C.A. 461 SCRA 186, June 23, 2005

FACTS:

GertrudisWuthrich and her six other siblings were the co-owners of a parcel of land in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental Cadastre. Over time, Gertrudis and two other co-owners sold each of their one-seventh (1/7) shares, or a total area of 741 square meters, to Jesus Mascuñana. The latter then sold a portion of his 140-square-meter undivided share of the property to DiosdadoSumilhig. However, the parties agreed to revoke the said deed of sale and, in lieu thereof, executed a Deed of Absolute Sale on August 12, 1961. In the said deed, Mascuñana, as vendor, sold an undivided 469-square-meter portion of the property for ₱4,690.00, with ₱3,690.00 as down payment. Meanwhile, Mascuñana died intestate on April 20, 1965 and was survived by his heirs, Eva M. Ellisin, Renee Hewlett, CarmenVda. deOpeña, MarilouDy and Jose Ma. R. Mascuñana.

Consequently, on April 24, 1968, Sumilhig executed a Deed of Sale of Real Property on a portion of Lot No. 124-B with an area of 469 square meters and the improvements thereon, in favor of Corazon Layumas, the wife of Judge Rodolfo Layumas, for the price of ₱11,000.00. The spouses Layumas, moreover, took possession of the property and caused the cutting of tall grasses thereon.In January 1985, the spouses Layumas allowed AquilinoBarte to stay on a portion of the property to ward off squatters. On November 17, 1986, the heirs of Mascuñana filed a Complaint for recovery of possession of Lot No. 124-B and damages with a writ of preliminary injunction, alleging that they owned the subject lot by virtue of successional rights from their deceased father. They averred that Barte surreptitiously entered the premises, fenced the area and constructed a house thereon without their consent. In their answer, the spouses Layumas filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene, alleging therein that they had a legal interest in Lot No. 124-B-1 as its buyers from Sumilhig, who in turn purchased the same from Mascuñana.On May 5, 2003, the CA affirmed the decision of the trial court. It ruled that the contract between the petitioners’ father and Sumilhig was one of sale. Foremost, the CA explained, the contract was denominated as a “Deed of Absolute Sale.” The stipulations in the contract likewise revealed the clear intention on the part of the vendor (Mascuñana) to alienate the property in favor of the vendee (Sumilhig).

ISSUE:

Whether or not the contract of alienation of Lot No. 124- B in favor of DiosdadoSumilhig in 1961 was a contract of sale.

RULING:

YES. The petitioners reiterated their pose that the deed of absolute sale over the property executed by their father, Jesus Mascuñana, as vendor, and DiosdadoSumilhig as vendee, was a contract to sell and not a contract of sale. They assert that on its face, the contract appears to be a contract to sell, because the payment of the ₱1,000.00 balance of the purchase price was subject to a suspensive condition. The petitioners’ contention has no factual and legal bases.

A deed of sale is considered absolute in nature where there is neither a stipulation in the deed that title to the property sold is reserved in the seller until full payment of the price, nor one giving the vendor the right to unilaterally resolve the contract the moment the buyer fails to pay within a fixed period. Applying these principles in the instant case, it cannot be gainsaid that the contract of sale between the parties is absolute, not conditional. There is no reservation of ownership nor a stipulation providing for a unilateral rescission by either party. In fact, the sale was consummated upon the delivery of the lot to respondent. Thus, Art. 1477 of the New Civil Code provides that the ownership of the thing sold shall be transferred to the vendee upon the actual or constructive delivery thereof.

Digest Credit: Rhymee Lanuzo

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