Hanopol claims ownership of the land by virtue of a series of purchases effected in 1938 by means of private instruments, executed by the former owners Siapo. He also invokes in his favor a decision on a complaint he filed against the same vendors who, according to him, took possession of his property through fraud, threat and intimidation, pretending falsely to be the owners and ejecting the tenants of Hanopol, and since then, had continued to possess the land. A decision declaring him the exclusive owner of the land and ordering the defendants to deliver possession was rendered on September 21, 1958. On the other hand, Pilapil asserts title to the property on the strength of a duly notarized deed of sale executed in his favor by the same owners, which deed of sale was registered. The case was submitted for decision. As thus submitted, the trial court rendered the decision adverted to at the beginning of this opinion, mainly upon the authority of the second paragraph of the Article 1544 of the NECC, which is a reproduction of Article 1473 of the Old Civil Code, the law in force at the time of the transactions in this case took place. Hanopol appealed from the decision of the trial court. He presents two questions of law:
Whether or not the registration of the second deed of sale in favor of Pilapil affects Hanopol’s right as the first vendee.
The court ruled that the “Better right” referred to in Act No. 3344 is much more than mere prior deed of sale in favor of the first vendee. In the Lichauco case, it was the prescriptive right that had supervened. Or, as also suggested in that case, other facts and circumstances exist which, in addition to his deed of sale, the first vendee can be said to have better right than the second purchaser. In the case at bar, there appears to be no clear evidence of Hanopol’s possession of the land in controversy. In fact, in his complaint against the vendors, Hanopol alleged that the Siapos took possession of the same land under claim of ownership in 1945 and continued and were in such possession at the time of the filing of the complaint against them in 1948. Consequently, since the Siapos were in actual occupancy of the property under claim of ownership, when they sold the said land to Pilapil, such possession was transmitted to the latter, at least constructively, with the execution of the notarial deed of sale.
Digest Credit: Joseph Eric Pocholo Briones