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[ GR No. 39442, Nov 19, 1936 ]



63 Phil. 772

[ G. R. No. 39442, November 19, 1936 ]




This is an action to have the sale at public auction of two parcels of land situated in Sirawan,  Davao, Davao, known as  lots Nos. 107 and 700 of the cadastre of  said province, declared null and void, praying  for the transfer in favor of the plaintiffs of the title of ownership of the first lot which two of the  defendants  had succeeded in registering in their name.

The plaintiffs, all Bagobos,  brought an action in the Court  of First Instance of Davao to recover the hacienda Sirawan, composed of the two parcels of land in question, from Ciriaco Lizada.  They won the case in both instances but when they went to take possession of the hacienda, they found that their  attorneys Juan A. Sarenas and Domingo Braganza had preceded them and were  appropriating the  fruits  thereof.  They brought civil case No. 607 against said attorneys to recover said property from them. The defendants alleged that  they had really taken possession of the lands because  by virtue of a contract of  fees entered into between  them  and the Bagobos,  upon winning the recovery suit against Ciriaco Lizada  they would become the owners of two-thirds  of  the hacienda pro indiviso  with the plaintiffs.  This second  suit was compromised  by means of an amicable  settlement between the parties whereby judgment was rendered by the court on January 18, 1927, ordering the defendants to return said lots Nos. 107 and 700 to the plaintiffs and sentencing the plaintiffs, in turn,  to  pay to the defendants the  sum of P6,000 as fees in the aforesaid suit  for recovery of possession.  On April  27, 1927, the  plaintiffs paid the sum of P5,126.13 to their attorneys, on account of the P6,000 adjudicated to the latter, and the sum of P1,035.87 to the municipal treasurer of Davao as land tax on the  two  lots in question  for the year 1926, which the  defendants  had failed to pay  while  they were  in possession  as alleged owners thereof.  Both sums amounting to P6,126, include not only the amount of the judgment of P6,000 but also the interest thereon at 12 per cent per annum.  The defendants, thinking that they  were not obliged to pay for the land tax, protested against the payment thereof and succeeded in having the  clerk of court of Davao issue a writ  of execution for the sum  of P1,053.87 in  said civil case No. 607,  on  October 13, 1927.   Under said writ of execution,  lot  No. 107 was  attached and  sold  at public auction to the  defendant  Juan A. Sarenas for the sum of P600, the sheriff issuing  the  deed of absolute sale thereof on August 30,  1929.   For the balance of P553.87 to complete  the sum  of P1,053.87 which had been paid for land tax,  the defendants obtained an  alias writ of  execution dated March 19, 1930, whereby the other lot No. 700 was attached and sold at  public auction by the sheriff to said defendants Juan A. Sarenas  and Domingo  Braganza, for the sum of P877.25, the sheriff issuing the deed of absolute sale thereof on June 23, 1931.

Prior thereto, said attorneys had applied  for the registration  of  the  two lots in question in the  name of their then  clients, the plaintiffs, but after  they  had purchased the lots at public auction, they applied for the registration thereof in  their name in cadastral case No. 1 of Davao, without the plaintiffs' knowledge.  The registration of lot No. 107 in their  name was  decreed on  March  24,  1930, whereupon original certificate of title No. 725 was issued on December 10, 1930,  With respect to lot No. 700,  the application filed by the defendants sometime after June 23, 1931, the date of the deed of absolute sale issued by the sheriff,  was  denied, and  the registration  of said  lot in favor of the plaintiffs was  decreed,  the decision of  the court having been affirmed by this court on December 18, 1934  (G. R. No. 38581, 61 Phil., 70).  This court, without discussing the other questions raised by the parties, declared the sale at public auction  of said lot No. 700 null and void on the ground that the sum of P877.25, for which it was sold to the defendants, was an inadequate price, taking into consideration  the  fact that the assessed value thereof in 1927 was more than P60,000.   This court likewise declared that the amount of P1,053.87, paid  by the plaintiffs as land tax on said lots, for the year 1926, should have been credited to the amount of the  judgment obtained by the defendants in civil case No. 607, because said  tax and penalty became due while the  lands were in their possession as the alleged owners thereof.

After the issuance of the certificate of registration of lot  No.  107, and pending the  application for registration of lot No. 700, the appellants filed the complaint in this case for the purpose of obtaining the two pronouncements stated in the first paragraph of this decision.  After  the hearing, the case was decided by dismissing the complaint as to lot No. 107 and  declaring it unnecessary to make any 'pronouncement with respect to lot  No. 700, on the ground that the  registration  proceedings thereof were then pending  in this  court, upon appeal.  From the  decision,  the plaintiffs appealed to this court.

From the foregoing facts,  it appears that there is no longer any question to be decided with respect to the right of ownership of lot No. 700, because it has been irrevocably  adjudicated by this court  to the plaintiffs, in a final judgment.  With respect  to lot No. 107,  however, there arises the question whether  or not  the defendants may be ordered, as prayed for in the original complaint  in this case, to execute a deed of  transfer of said  lot in favor of the plaintiffs, in case  it has not been alienated to a third  person.   There  is no doubt that the defendants obtained  the decree of registration of the lot in question by fraud; which decree is null and void because the defendants  really had no legal  title to said  lot.  Leaving aside the other questions raised by  the appellants, whether or not the attachment and  sale at public auction of said lot had been made strictly in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 190, there is another reason for the nullity of the attachment and judicial sale thereof, and it is the absolute lack of a judgment to serve as the subject matter of the execution.  . It is  a proven fact that the plaintiffs-appellants  paid the  entire amount  of the  judgment  rendered in civil  case  No.  607, and the Supreme Court, in deciding the appeal  with respect to lot No. 700, expressly held  that  the  plaintiffs' payment  of the  land tax  was chargeable to the amount of the judgment  in question. Therefore, when the writs of execution  were issued and said lots Nos. 107 and 700 were attached, the defendants-appellees had absolutely no judgment to execute.  As all the proceedings had in  the  execution of an  already  executed judgment are, for these reasons, null and void, and as the alleged  deed  of sale of the defendants-appellees is null and void, the decree of registration and the certificate of title issued  in their favor likewise had  to be null and void.   Now,  inasmuch as the plaintiffs  had not  applied for the review  of the decree of registration, and inasmuch as the lot in question had not been sold to a third  person, it is  not  just  and  equitable that the defendants enrich themselves to the prejudice  of the plaintiffs  by keeping said land  which does not belong to them by any title. Therefore, this action for the annulment  of the  sale at public auction  of said lot No. 107 and to compel  the defendants to transfer it to the plaintiffs, cannot be more legal and it must be  sustained.  (Severino vs. Severino, 44 Phil., 343; Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, 49 Phil., 433; Clemente and Pichay vs. Lukban and Domingo, 53 Phil., 931.)   However, in the event which does not appear of record that said lot has been transferred  to a third person who acted in good faith, thus making  the  transfer  thereof to the plaintiffs impossible, the defendants  should be ordered to pay to the plaintiffs  the sum of P2,810 which is the value of said lot at the  time it  was  sold at public auction. (Manotoc vs. Choco, 30 Phil., 628; Roman Catholic Bishop of Nueva Caceres  vs.  Municipality of Tabaco, 46 Phil., 271; Government of the  Philippine Islands vs. Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, supra,)  In either case, the defendants  should be ordered to  pay for the fruits which the plaintiffs  have failed to receive  from  the time the former took possession of the  two lots, that is from the date said lots were sold at public auction until  the date on which they  have turned, over the  possession  thereof to the plaintiffs.   However,  inasmuch as  the date on which the defendants turned over to the plaintiffs the possession of lot No. 700 and the  fruits produced by said lot during the above-stated period, does  not appear of record, because the court did  not permit  the plaintiffs to prove such extremes, and inasmuch  as  the  evidence to determine the exact amount of the production of lot No. 107 during the time the defendants deprived the  plaintiffs of their possession, is not clear, the trial  should be reopened in order that all these  deficiencies may be corrected.

Wherefore, the appealed judgment is reversed, ordering the  defendants-appellees to execute  as promptly as possible a deed of transfer of  lot Nd.  107 in favor of the plaintiffs-appellants, or if this is  not  possible because said lot has been  alienated to a third person, to pay the sum of P2,810, the value thereof,  to  the plaintiffs-appellants; and directing  the court  a quo to reopen the present case in order to receive evidence  on the production of lots Nos. 107 and 700 during the time the defendants had them in their possession, sentencing them, upon  the evidence, to pay for the fruits of said lots,  with the costs of both instances to said defendants.  With respect to the defendant deputy sheriff  of Davao, the  complaint is dismissed without costs.  So  ordered.

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