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[ GR No. 43504, Oct 22, 1936 ]



63 Phil. 594

[ G. R. No. 43504, October 22, 1936 ]




The defendant  in this case, against whom the  Court  of First Instance  of Batangas  rendered judgment  ordering him to pay to the plaintiff the sum of P100 plus  the legal interest thereon from November  2, 1933, until fully paid, with the  costs, appealed  to  this court asking  that  said judgment be set aside on the ground that said court erred (1)  in  sustaining the  plaintiffs  contention that  the  deed of sale, Exhibit A, executed by  both parties  is  not null and void,  notwithstanding the fact that the  transfer  of the truck referred to in said contract, from the plaintiff to him (defendant), was  not approved by the Public Service Commission;  (2)  in not  holding that the  action brought by the plaintiff  is premature; and (3)  in ordering him  to pay to  the plaintiff said  sum  of P100 with the interest thereon, and the costs.

No evidence was presented by  the interested parties  at the trial.   They confined  themselves to presenting  to the court for  decision the following agreed statement  of facts:
  1. That the  defendant, through his attorney,  has submitted to  the court for resolution a motion for the dismissal of the case, this 14th day  of September, 1934.
  2. That the  defendant, through his attorney, admits the  genuineness and due  execution  of the document Exhibit A for the plaintiff.
  3. That the defendant admits that he has not paid the installments corresponding to the months of September and October,  1933."
The English translation from the Tagalog of Exhibit A, referred  to by the parties in the foregoing agreement, is as follows:
"I,  Indalecio de Torres,  of legal age, widower, native and residing in the municipality of Lipa, Province of Batangas, party of the first part, and I, Vicente Ona, married to Simeona Pena, native and residing in the barrio of Pinagtungulan, San Jose, Batangas, by these presents both say:
"First.  That, I, Indalecio de Torres,  party of the first part,  is  the  owner of a  truck for loading  (de  carga), Chevrolet, with plate No. TH-1795,  Motor No. RT-944606, Factory  No. LLQ-20167,  according to the  certificate of registration issued to me by the Bureau of Public Works on the 18th day of March, 1930, when  I purchased the said truck from the P. C. C. for  the value  of P1,750.

"Second. That by virtue of our contract of the party of the second part, Vicente Ona, I hereby sell to him the above-mentioned truck for the value of Five Hundred and Fifty Pesos (P550)  and this price shall be paid  by him in the manner as follows: On the 15th day of the month  of September, 1933, he will give me Fifty Pesos (P50), on the 30th day of the same month of September, 1933, he will pay me again Fifty  Pesos  (P50)  and the balance of Four Hundred and Fifty Pesos  (P450) shall  be  paid to me by installment of Fifty Pesos every last day of the month for nine months beginning from the month of October, 1933, that is to say, 50 pesos on the last day of  October, 1933; 50 on the last day of November, 1933; 50 on the last day of December, 1933; 50 on the last day of January, 1934; 50  on the last day of February, 1934; 50 on the last day of March, 1934; 50 on the last day of April, 1934; 50 on the last day of May, 1934; and 50 also on the last day of June, 1934.

"Third. That, I, Vicente Ona, party of the second part, hereby agree to all of what is stated  above by the party of the first part and at the same time I make it clear that if the  last day of June,  1934, above-mentioned arrives and I have not paid the value of the truck to the said Indalecio de Torres, I hereby guarantee my house  including the  lot on which is built,  situated  in the barrio of Pinagtungulan, San Jose, Batangas, so that if he so desires he may take possession of the same in payment of the balance of the value of the truck above-mentioned.
"In witness whereof we signed  our name in Lipa,  Batangas, this 8th day of September, 1933."
Under  the  law, the Public Service  Commission has not only general  supervision and regulation of, but also  full jurisdiction and control over all public utilities including the  property, equipment and facilities used, and the property rights  and franchises enjoyed  by every individual  and company  engaged in the performance  of  a public service in the sense this phrase is used in the Public Service Act, or Act No. 3108 (sec. 13, Act No. 3108).   By virtue of the  provisions of said Act, motor vehicles used in the performance of  a service, as  the transportation of freight from one point to another, have  to  this  date  been considered and  they cannot but be so considered public service property; and, by  reason of its own nature, a TH truck, which  means that the operator thereof places it at the  disposal of anybody who is willing to pay a rental for its use, when he desires to transfer or carry his effects, merchandise or any other cargo from one place to another, is necessarily a public service property.

In order  that a vehicle of the kind above-stated, that is a  TH truck, may be sold,  alienated, mortgaged or otherwise encumbered, the  law requires that the necessary  approval  of the Public  Service Commission  must first  be obtained.   It is so stated clearly in section  16, paragraph (h), of said Act No. 3108.  The parts of said section pertinent to the case under consideration,  read:
"Sec.  16. No public utility as herein  defined shall:
"*       *    *   *       *      *       *       *"

"(h) Without the approval of the Public Utility Commission first had, sell, alienate, mortgage,  encumber,  or lease its property,  franchises, privileges or rights,  or any  part thereof; nor merge or consolidate its property, franchises, privileges or rights, or any part thereof, with that of any other public utility as herein defined:  *  *  *"
It is true that said section contains  a  proviso that the sale, alienation,  mortgage or encumbrance,  and  lease of the property  of public utilities which,  on account of the nature and conditions of their business, are, in the judgment of the  commission, of little importance to the public interest, shall be  exempt from the requisite of the approval of the commission; but it is also true that said section provides clearly and emphatically that it is the commission  itself, and no one else, which must determine the question whether a public service is of little importance or not.

Consequently, in order that the contract upon which the plaintiff  and appellee based his action against the defendant and appellant, for alleged violation of the terms thereof, may be  valid, it was necessary  for the  Public  Service Commission to authorize and approve it previously.   Not having done so, and as the approval thereof has not been sought either before or after the bringing of this action, the only conclusion arrived at is that the action brought by the plaintiff is premature; and that under the present circumstances, as the contract  in question  is  ineffectual, it cannot and it is without any force to bind the defendant. In other  words, the appealed judgment should be reversed. Having arrived at this  conclusion, it is unnecessary to discuss the other errors assigned by the  defendant  and appellant in his brief.

The  appealed judgment is reversed, with the costs to the plaintiff  and appellee.  So ordered.

Avanceña, C. J.,  Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Imperial, and Laurel, JJ., concur.