December 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select December 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Damages; When Applicable. It is essential that for damages to be awarded, a claimant must satisfactorily prove during the trial that they have a factual basis, and that the defendant’s acts have a causal connection to them. Article 2229 of the Civil Code provides that exemplary damages may be imposed “by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.” They are, however, not recoverable as a matter of right. They are awarded only if the guilty party acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner. Albert M. Ching, et al. vs. Felix M. Bantolo, et al.; G.R. No. 177086. December 5, 2012

Sale of Real Property; Must be in a Public Document; requirement only for convenience. Article 1358 of the Civil Code provides that acts and contracts which have for their object the transmission of real rights over immovable property or the sale of real property must appear in a public document. If the law requires a document or other special form, the contracting parties may compel each other to observe that form, once the contract has been perfected. In Fule v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that Article 1358 of the Civil Code, which requires the embodiment of certain contracts in a public instrument, is only for convenience, and registration of the instrument only adversely affects third parties. Formal requirements are, therefore, for the benefit of third parties. Non-compliance therewith does not adversely affect the validity of the contract nor the contractual rights and obligations of the parties thereunder. Lagrimas de Jesus Zamora v. Spouses Beatriz Zamora et al., G.R. No. 162930. December 5, 2012.

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July 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected July 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Agency; doctrine of apparent authority. The doctrine of apparent authority in respect of government contracts, has been restated to mean that the government is NOT bound by unauthorized acts of its agents, even though within the apparent scope of their authority. Under the law on agency, however, “apparent authority” is defined as the power to affect the legal relations of another person by transactions with third persons arising from the other’s manifestations to such third person such that the liability of the principal for the acts and contracts of his agent extends to those which are within the apparent scope of the authority conferred on him, although no actual authority to do such acts or to make such contracts has been conferred.

Apparent authority, or what is sometimes referred to as the “holding out” theory, or doctrine of ostensible agency, imposes liability, not as the result of the reality of a contractual relationship, but rather because of the actions of a principal or an employer in somehow misleading the public into believing that the relationship or the authority exists. The existence of apparent authority may be ascertained through (1) the general manner in which the corporation holds out an officer or agent as having the power to act or, in other words, the apparent authority to act in general, with which it clothes him; or (2) the acquiescence in his acts of a particular nature, with actual or constructive knowledge thereof, whether within or beyond the scope of his ordinary powers. It requires presentation of evidence of similar act(s) executed either in its favor or in favor of other parties.

Easily discernible from the foregoing is that apparent authority is determined only by the acts of the principal and not by the acts of the agent. The principal is, therefore, not responsible where the agent’s own conduct and statements have created the apparent authority.

In this case, not a single act of respondent, acting through its Board of Directors, was cited as having clothed its general manager with apparent authority to execute the contract with it. Sargasso Construction & Development Corporation / Pick & Shovel, Inc./Atlantic Erectors, Inc./ Joint Venture vs. Philippine Ports Authority, G.R. No. 170530, July 5, 2010.

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July 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected July 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law:

Agrarian reform; coverage.  Lands that are not directly, actually and exclusively used for pasture nor devoted to commercial livestock raising are not excluded from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.  A.Z. Arnaiz Realty, Inc. vs. Office of the President. G.R. No. 170623, July 7, 2010.

Certificate of candidacy; residency requirement.  The Omnibus Election Code provides that a certificate of candidacy may be denied due course or cancelled if there is any false representation of a material fact.  The critical material facts are those that refer to a candidate’s qualifications for elective office, such as his or her citizenship and residence.  The false representation must be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. Given the purpose of the requirement, it must be made with the intention to deceive the electorate as to the would-be candidate’s qualifications for public office.  Thus, the misrepresentation cannot be the result of a mere innocuous mistake, and cannot exist in a situation where the intent to deceive is patently absent, or where no deception on the electorate results. The foregoing are the legal standards by which the COMELEC must act on a petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy.  Thus, in considering the residency of a candidate as stated in the certificate of candidacy, the COMELEC must determine whether or not the candidate deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform or hide a fact about his or her residency that would otherwise render him or her ineligible for the position sought.  The COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in this case when, in considering the residency issue, it based its decision solely on very personal and subjective assessment standards, such as the nature or design and furnishings of the dwelling place in relation to the stature of the candidate.  Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra vs. Commission on Elections, et al. G.R. No. 191938, July 2, 2010.

Citizenship; election and constructive registration. The statutory formalities of electing Philippine citizenship are the following: (1) a statement of election under oath; (2) an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and Government of the Philippines; and (3) registration of the statement of election and of the oath with the nearest civil registry.  Here, petitioners complied with the first and second requirements upon reaching the age of majority.  However, registration of the documents of election with the civil registry was done belatedly.  Under the facts peculiar to the petitioners, the right to elect Philippine citizenship has not been lost and they should be allowed to complete the statutory requirements for such election.  Their exercise of suffrage, being elected to public office, continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, and other similar acts showing exercise of Philippine citizenship do not on their own take the place of election of citizenship.  But where, as here, the election of citizenship has in fact been done and documented within the constitutional and statutory timeframe, registration of the documents of election beyond the timeframe should be allowed if in the meanwhile positive acts of citizenship have been done publicly, consistently and continuously.  These acts constitute constructive registration.  In other words, the actual exercise of Philippine citizenship for over half a century by the petitioners is actual notice to the Philippine public, which is equivalent to formal registration of the election of Philippine citizenship.  It is not the registration of the act of election, although a valid requirement under Commonwealth Act No. 625, that will confer Philippine citizenship on the petitioners.  It is only a means of confirming the fact that citizenship has been claimed.  Having a Filipino mother is permanent.  It is the basis of the right of the petitioners to elect Philippine citizenship.  Petitioners elected Philippine citizenship in form and substance.  The failure to register the election in the civil registry should not defeat that election and negate the permanent fact that petitioners have a Filipino mother.  The lacking requirements may still be complied with subject to the imposition of appropriate administrative penalties, if any.  The documents petitioners submitted supporting their allegations that they have registered with the civil registry, although belatedly, should be examined for validation purposes by the appropriate agency, in this case the Bureau of Immigration.  Other requirements embodied in the administrative orders and other issuances of the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Justice must be complied with within a reasonable time.  Balgamelo Cabiling Ma, et al. vs. Commissioner Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr., et al. G.R. No. 183133, July 26, 2010.

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April 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected April 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Agency; sale of land by an unauthorized agent. Respondent sold land owned by her daughter without any written authority. Article 1874 of the Civil Code explicitly requires a written authority before an agent can sell an immovable property. Based on a review of the records, there is absolutely no proof of respondent’s written authority to sell the lot to petitioners. In fact, during the pre-trial conference, petitioners admitted that at the time of the negotiation for the sale of the lot, petitioners were of the belief that respondent was the owner of lot. Consequently, the sale of the lot by respondent who did not have a written authority from the real owner is void. A void contract produces no effect either against or in favor of anyone and cannot be ratified.  Sps. Joselina Alcantara and Antonio Alcantara, et al. vs. Brigida L. Nido, as attorney-in-fact of Revelen Srivastava, G.R. No. 165133, April 19, 2010.

Contracts; breach of; rebus sic stantibus. See Daniel T. So vs. Food Fest Land, Inc./Food Fest Land, Inc. vs. Daniel T. SoG.R. Nos. 183628 & 183670, April 7, 2010, below.

Contracts; void and voidable; prescription. See Manuel O. Fuentes, et al. vs. Conrado G. Roca, et al., G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010, below.

Damages; actual damages; unrealized profits. Food Fest leased property from So. Food Fest sought to pre-terminate the lease. So sued Food Fest for ejection, payment of arrears and damages. On the matter of damages, So claims that Food Fest did not exercise care in removing the installations and fixtures, thereby causing destruction to the premises to thus entitle him to damages, as well as to damages corresponding to unrealized profits (lucrum cessans) to answer for the period during which the unit was not rented out.

Unrealized profits fall under the category of actual or compensatory damages. If there exists a basis for a reasonable expectation that profits would have continued to be generated had there been no breach of contract, indemnification for damages based on such expected profits is proper.  This is, however, subject to the rule that a party is entitled to an adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proved. Other than the photographs evincing damage to the premises, no evidence was proffered to show So’s entitlement to unrealized profits. That the leased unit was not subsequently leased is not solely attributable to Food Fest. As borne by the records, no renovation was undertaken by So for almost three years following Food Fest’s vacation of the premises in 2001. The quotations issued by construction companies for purposes of renovation were issued only in 2004. However, So may seek damages pursuant to the contract.

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April 2009 Decisions on Constitutional and Related Laws

Here are selected April 2009 decisions of the Supreme Court on constitutional and related laws:

Constitutional Law

Administrative regulation; void. Executive Order No. 566, which grants the CHED the power to regulate review center, is unconstitutional as it expands Republic Act No. 7722,. The CHED’s coverage under RA 7722 is limited to public and private institutions of higher education and degree-granting programs in all public and private post-secondary educational institutions.  EO 566 directed the CHED to formulate a framework for the regulation of review centers and similar entities.    A review center is not an institution of higher learning as contemplated by RA 7722.  It does not offer a degree-granting program that would put it under the jurisdiction of the CHED. Review Center Associations of the Philippines vs. Executive Secretatry Eduardo Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 180046,  April 2, 2009.

Agrarian reform; coverage. For the parcels of land subject of this petition to come within the coverage of P.D. No. 27, it is necessary to determine whether the land is agricultural. Here, the subject parcels of land cannot be considered as within the ambit of P.D. No. 27 considering that the subject lots were reclassified by the DAR Secretary as suited for residential, commercial, industrial or other urban purposes way before petitioner filed a petition for emancipation under P.D. No. 27.  Laureano V. Hermoso, et al. vs. Heirs of Antonio Francia and Petra Francia, G.R. No. 166748,  April 24, 2009.

Compensation. Officers who in good faith have discharged the duties pertaining to their office are legally entitled to the compensation attached to the office for the services they actually rendered. Although the present petition must inevitably be dismissed on a technicality that serves as penalty for the pernicious practice of forum shopping, the Court nevertheless cannot countenance the refund of the compensation differential corresponding to petitioner’s tenure as HEDF head with the upgraded rank of Director III, since she had actually rendered services in the office with the elevated grade for that period.  Alicia D. Tagaro vs. Ester A. Garcia, etc.,G.R. No. 173931, April 2, 2009.

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