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[ GR No. 7729, Sep 14, 1912 ]



23 Phil. 178

[ G. R. No. 7729, September 14, 1912 ]




This case has been appealed by counsel  for the plaintiff, from a judgment of acquittal rendered by the Honorable Dionisio Chanco, Judge.

On  July 1, 1911, Remigio  Nicolas filed a  written complaint  in the Court of First Instance of  Ilocos Norte alleging that he has been the owner and proprietor since 1909 of two irrigated rural estates situated in the  places named San Lorenzo and  San Magno de Ragas,  in Dingras, Ilocos Norte, whose area  and boundaries were  set forth in the complaint, and that since  the  said  date,  1909, he had been holding and enjoying the same quietly and peaceably without  any interruption; that in the  month of June, 1911, the  defendant, Gregorio Guerrero, appropriated the said estates, with no right therein whatever, and  was cultivating them and had sown them to rice, thereby causing grave prejudice to the plaintiff's unquestionable rights; and that, by the institution of  this case, he had suffered damages  to the extent of P200.  The complaint concluded with the petition that the defendant:  (1)  be ordered immediately to deliver the estates in question to the plaintiff; (2)  be restrained  from again at  any  future  time appropriating them to himself or interrupting plaintiff's possession thereof; and  (3)  be compelled  to pay P200 on account of the institution  of this suit, as well as  the costs.

Counsel for the defendant in  his answer made a general and specific denial of all the principal allegations on which the complaint was based, and alleged as a special defense that the lands claimed by the plaintiff belonged exclusively to the defendant because  the latter had  purchased them from Joaquin Castro, a resident of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, and, further, that he had suffered damages to the extent of P500 through this suit; therefore he prayed that in the judgment to be rendered the  defendant be absolved from the  complaint and the plaintiff sentenced to pay P500 and the costs. He also asked that, for the purposes  of  the warranty of title, the vendor, Joaquin  de Castro, be notified and  summoned to appear within the term prescribed by law to answer the said complaint.

Joaquin de Castro appeared and by a writing of July 31, 1911, set forth, in answer to the complaint: that he denied generally  and specifically  all  the fundamental  grounds thereof; that, on April 26, 1911,  he sold to the defendant, Guerrero, the lands in question, of  which he had been the possessor and  proprietor prior to such sale; and  that, on account of his being obliged to defend his title to said lands, the plaintiff had  caused  him  damages  to the extent of P100; therefore, he asked that he, as well  as the defendant, be absolved  from the complaint and that the plaintiff, for malicious  prosecution,  be sentenced to pay hini  P100 as damages and the costs of the suit.

After the trial and  the presentation  of  evidence, both oral and documentary,  by the parties, the exhibits  being made a part of the record, the court, on September 29,1911, rendered judgment absolving the defendant, Gregorio Guerrero, from the complaint, with the costs against the plaintiff, Remigio Nicolas.   The latter, by  a written motion of  October 9, 1911, took exception to, and  asked for the annulment of, the judgment and moved for a new trial. This motion was overruled by an order  of the 16th of the same month and year, exception thereto was taken by the plaintiff, the proper bill of  exceptions was  presented and approved,  certified and  transmitted to  the clerk of this court,  together with the trial record.

A question of fact is  involved in this litigation, that is, as to who is the real owner of the two parcels of land which the plaintiff claims from  the defendant.  The former claims that although he acquired them from the  latter by purchase, the vendor took possession of the same to the prejudice of the vendee's interests.

By Exhibits A, B, and C, pages 1, 2, and 3 of the record, the  plaintiff, Remigio  Nicolas,  endeavored  to prove  his ownership of the two parcels of land averred to have been sold to him by their previous owner, the defendant Gregorio Guerrero.  He alleged that  the purchase of those estates was effected  on May 15, 1909; that the transfer of ownership was recorded in an  instrument drawn up in his house on the same date in the presence of Pantaleon Nicolas, that it was written by Mariano Matias on top of a trunk in the house,  and that at the very time the contract was made the vendor received the  price of the sale.  Pantaleon Nicolas corroborated these statements of  the plaintiff, yet stated that he was present when a receipt was made out by Mariano Matias, relative to the sale made by his uncle, the plaintiff, of some  lands  which were sold to the latter on that occasion by  Gregorio Guerrero, the defendant.   Mariano Matias did not testify, as he has since died.

With regard to the document proving the  sale of the said parcels of land, the plaintiff stated in an affidavit that he could not exhibit it, as it had been lost with his pocketbook which had been carried away by the current of the river north of Dingras on an occasion when, in  crossing it, he was unexpectedly overtaken by  a  violent flood,  and that he then went to the place where the said lands are situated, as he  had been advised by Pantaleon Baoit that the same had been usurped  by the defendant, Guerrero. The witness  Pantaleon  Baoit corroborated  the plaintiff's statements, but  related details whereby he contradicted and belied the averments of  the plaintiff.

From what has been  alleged  and proved in this case, it appears that  the original owner of the two parcels of land in  question was Joaquin de Castro, who pledged them  as security for a certain sum of money which he had received from the defendant, Gregorio Guerrero, wherefore the latter took  charge of the lands as creditor-pledgee, in 1900, and so held them until  the end of 1908 when they were redeemed by their owner, Joaquin de Castro, who stated to the defendant, so the latter testified, that he would transfer the pledge to Remigio Nicolas, but he did not know whether Nicolas came to possess  the lands or not; but on April 26, 1911, Joaquin de Castro sold  absolutely to Gregorio Guerrero the aforementioned two parcels of land, together with another  one,  for  the  sum of ?=800 Philippine currency, according to a document written in the  dialect of the province, Exhibit A, page 5 of the record, executed on the same date and translated on page 7 of the file of exhibits. This instrument bears  the signatures of the vendor, his two children  Esperanza and  Juan Castro,  his son-in-law Damaso Rubio,  and of  two witnesses who  were  present at its execution.  After that date Guerrero again occupied and held the said lands,  as owner thereof, and denied  that he had sold  them to the plaintiff, Nicolas, on May 15, 1909, for then he was not yet the owner of the property.  The defendant testified that he signed the document presented by  the plaintiff  as Exhibit A, in the belief that it  was an application  to be relieved from  the land tax,  and added that while he held the land under the incumbrance before mentioned,  he had paid the  land tax thereon, but  had ceased to do so after the property had been redeemed, and that the plaintiff then told him that he had bought the two parcels, wherefore witness  signed the document,  Exhibit A, presented by  the  plaintiff,  wherein he requested that  he be no longer charged with  the land tax  assessed against the property.

The  record  likewise shows that  in no  wise could the defendant, Guerrero, have executed the alleged deed of sale, nor authorized any  document whatever in the plaintiff's house in Laoag on the  15th of May,  1909,  because on that date  he was in the subprovince of Abra, in company with others, for the purpose of buying horses  and  cows, having left his residence on the 4th of May and not returning until the 27th of the same month,  in proof whereof the exhibited certificates of animals acquired by the defendant Guerrero in Abra during the said month of May, 1909.

So that, not  only does the defendant, Guerrero, deny the alleged contract contained in the said document as well as the execution of the same on the 15th of May, 1909, attesting to the  sale of the lands in question, but also the record shows no proof that such document was executed, nor that the deed of  sale was made, as alleged hy the plaintiff, in order to  establish his  claim of being the owner  of the said  lands.  Furthermore,  the pocketbook  containing the said  document cpuld not have  been  lost, as the plaintiff alleged, by being washed away by the current while he was crossing the Dingras River, because  there  was no freshet at  the  time and, according to  information furnished by the official weather observer stationed at Laoag, it did not rain in Ilocos Norte  on the 20th and 24th of June, 1911, but on  the contrary, there was a  clear sky, and  only on the night of the  last date, at a little after  nine o'clock, it rained a trifle, the rain-gauge registering a small  amount of  water.  As  against  the  testimony of the plaintiff that he  crossed the said  river at night,  there  is that  of  his witness, Pantaleon Baoit,  to the effect that Nicolas arrived at the place where the land is situated, at about  two o'clock in the afternoon, and that when he appeared there he had his s$id pocketbook with him,  which  was perfectly dry, and said nothing about any mishap in  the river.  Moreover, as  against tfce  plaintiff's  statement  that he started for Laoag about the 22d of June, 1911, his said witness testified that he sent notice to the  plaintiff of the usurpation about the 5th of the following: month oi July.  By all,the foregoing details  it has been evidently demonstrated that the alleged sale through the execution of the said document of May 15,  1909,  was not made.

The evidence adduced in this case by the defendant fully and conclusively proves that he is the legitimate owner of the  lands in question and  that the plaintiff had  not  the slightest right to claim the  same,  with all the more reason since the original and  real owner of the said lands was Joaquin  de  Castro, and in  1909 the defendant,  Guerrero, could not have conveyed his ownership to the plaintiff,  for he was not then the owner  of those parcels of land, which he acquired in April, 1911,  and  although he occupied them as creditor pledgee from  1900 to  1908, he had no right in such capacity to dispose  of them, and  much less in 1909, when the lands had already been redeemed and returned to their owner, Joaquin de Castro.

Proof  of the facts averred in a complaint devolves upon the plaintiff, since each party must prove his  own affirmative allegations.   (Art  1214,  Civil Code, and sec. 297, Code of Civil Procedure.)

The plaintiff has not substantiated the grounds on which he bases his complaint, while the  defendant has furnished complete and satisfactory proof of his exceptions.

It was plainly a reckless action on the part of the plaintiff to have presumed to prosecute this suit on the pretense of proving his alleged right by means  of  a document which, according to the evidence adduced at the trial, never existed and was  never executed.

For the foregoing reasons the judgment appealed from should be, as it is hereby, affirmed,  with the costs of this instance  against the appellant.   So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Johnson, Carson, and Trent, JJ., concur.