Petitioner Philippine Suburban Development Corporation, as owner and People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC), as authorized by the President of the Philippines, entered into a contract embodied in a public instrument entitled “Deed of Absolute Sale” whereby the former conveyed unto the latter the unoccupied portion of the Sapang Palay Estate. This was not registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds until March 14, 1961, due to the fact, petitioner claims, that the PHHC could not at once advance the money needed for registration expenses. On April 12, 1961, the Provincial Treasurer of Bulacan requested the PHHC to withhold the amount of P30,099.79 from the purchase price to be paid by it to the Philippine Suburban Development Corporation. Said amount represented the realty tax due on the property involved for the calendar year 1961. Petitioner, through the PHHC, paid under protest the abovementioned amount and thereafter, by letter, requested then Secretary of Finance Dominador Aytona to order a refund of the amount so paid. Upon recommendation of the Provincial Treasurer of Bulacan, said request was denied by the Secretary of Finance.
Whether or not there was already a valid transfer of ownership between the parties and thus petitioner is entitled for a refund.
YES. There was already a valid transfer of ownership. Under the civil law, delivery (tradition) as a mode of transmission of ownership maybe actual (real tradition) or constructive (constructive tradition). When the sale of real property is made in a public instrument, the execution thereof is equivalent to the delivery of the thing/object of the contract, if from the deed the contrary does not appear or cannot clearly be inferred. In other words, there is symbolic delivery of the property subject of the sale by the execution of the public instrument, unless from the express terms of the instrument, or by clear inference therefrom, this was not the intention of the parties made. In the case at bar, there is no question that the vendor had actually placed the vendee in possession and control over the thing sold, even before the date of the sale. The condition that petitioner should first register the deed of sale and secure a new title in the name of the vendee before the latter shall pay the balance of the purchase price, did not preclude the transmission of ownership. In the absence of an express stipulation to the contrary, the payment of the purchase price of the good is not a condition precedent to the transfer of title to the buyer, but title passes by the delivery of the goods. It goes without saying that the petitioner is entitled for a refund.
Digest Credit: Lowell Vinluan