REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. JOSE V. BAGTAS, G.R. No. L-17474, October 25, 1962

Facts:
Jose V. Bagtas borrowed from the Republic of the Philippines through the Bureau of Animal Industry three bulls for a period of one year subject to a government charge of breeding fee of 10% of the book value of the bulls. Upon the expiration on 7 May 1949 of the contract, the borrower asked for a renewal for another period of one year. However, was approved a renewal thereof of only one bull for another year from 8 May 1949 to 7 May 1950 and requested the return of the other two. Jose V. Bagtas failed to pay the book value of the three bulls or to return them. In the Court of First Instance of Manila the Republic of the Philippines commenced an action against him praying that he be ordered to return the three bulls loaned to him or to pay their book value in the total sum of P3,241.45 and the unpaid breeding fee in the sum of P199.62, both with interests, and costs; and that other just and equitable relief be granted.

Felicidad M. Bagtas, the surviving spouse of the defendant Jose Bagtas who died on 23 October 1951 and as administratrix of his estate, was notified. On 7 January 1959 she file a motion alleging that on 26 June 1952 the two bull Sindhi and Bhagnari were returned to the Bureau Animal of Industry and that sometime in November 1958 the third bull, the Sahiniwal, died from gunshot wound inflicted during a Huk raid on Hacienda Felicidad Intal, and praying that the writ of execution be quashed and that a writ of preliminary injunction be issued. On 31 January 1959 the plaintiff objected to her motion. On 6 February 1959 she filed a reply thereto. On the same day, 6 February, the Court denied her motion. Hence, this appeal certified by the Court of Appeals to this Court as stated at the beginning of this opinion.

The appellant contends that the Sahiniwal bull was accidentally killed during a raid by the Huk in November 1953 upon the surrounding barrios of Hacienda Felicidad Intal, Baggao, Cagayan, where the animal was kept, and that as such death was due to force majeure she is relieved from the duty of returning the bull or paying its value to the appellee. The contention is without merit. The loan by the appellee to the late defendant Jose V. Bagtas of the three bulls for breeding purposes for a period of one year from 8 May 1948 to 7 May 1949, later on renewed for another year as regards one bull, was subject to the payment by the borrower of breeding fee of 10% of the book value of the bulls. The appellant contends that the contract was commodatum and that, for that reason, as the appellee retained ownership or title to the bull it should suffer its loss due to force majeure.

Issue:
Whether the borrowing of the Bull from the appellee is a commodatum contract and that, for that reason, as the appellee retained ownership or title to the bull it should suffer its loss due to force majeure.?

Held:
No, A contract of commodatum is essentially gratuitous. If the breeding fee be considered a compensation, then the contract would be a lease of the bull. Under article 1671 of the Civil Code the lessee would be subject to the responsibilities of a possessor in bad faith, because she had continued possession of the bull after the expiry of the contract. And even if the contract be commodatum, still the appellant is liable, because article 1942 of the Civil Code provides that a bailee in a contract of commodatum is liable for loss of the things, even if it should be through a fortuitous event:

(2) If he keeps it longer than the period stipulated.

(3) If the thing loaned has been delivered with appraisal of its value, unless there is a stipulation exempting the bailee from responsibility in case of a fortuitous event;

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