G.R. No. 1975. November 10, 1905

Please log in to request a case brief.

5 Phil. 234

[ G.R. No. 1975. November 10, 1905 ]




It was admitted during the trial of this case that the city of
Manila was, on and prior to the 6th day of July, 1887, the owner of the
land in the Plaza de Goiti, on which the building of defendant now

On the 1st day of July, 1887, the defendant presented a petition to
the city of Manila, in which it asked that the city give to the
defendant permission “edificar en su terreno bajo la condiciOn de
que si llega a abandonarse la edificacion o deja de estar destinada a
Monte de Piedad y Gaja de Ahorros, la propiedad del terreno revertira
al Municipio, condicion con la que cedio hace anos terreno de su
propiedad en el campo de Arroceros para la edificacion del Teatro del
Principe Alfonso

On the 6th day of July, 1887, the city of Manila adopted the following resolution :

“Information being received with reference to a
communication from the most reverend archbishop of Manila, president of
the administrative board of the ‘Monte de Piedad y Caja de Ahorros’ of
this city, dated 1st instant (July 1887), stating that the offices of
those charitable establishments are installed since the same were
opened, in the insalubrious and small place occupied by them on the
ground floor of the ‘Santa Isabel College,’ and the members of this
board having acknowledged by unanimous vote the necessity of situating
the above offices in a proper place of this city, by acquiring or
erecting a building which, on account of its conditions, may meet the
increasing requirements of the same, the above mentioned board has
decided to erect a building for its offices, with the independence and
security required, among other reasons, by the fact that property of
great-value was to be kept in it, and to this effect the said board
applies to the municipal corporation, whose feelings of rectitude and
Christian piety are well known, asking the above corporation to take an
active part in these noble purposes and to grant gratuitously for said
building the land occupied in the ‘Plaza de Goiti’ by the Paseo de
Santa Cruz,’ which is of no use to anybody, on condition that should
the building be abandoned or cease to be devoted to the purpose for
which it will be erected, the possession of the land will revert to the
municipal corporation in the same form as a land was granted in
Arroceros some years ago, in which the ‘Principe Alfonso’ theater was

“The corporation having been informed of the
contents of the above communication, and wishing to cooperate, within
the limit of its powers, with the charitable purpose intended by the
board of administration of the ‘Monte de Piedad,’ decided by general
consent to grant ‘the gratuitous use of the land’ asked for the
erection of the above-mentioned building and with the stated condition,
this resolution having to be submitted previously to the superior

This resolution was submitted to and approved by the
Governor-General of these Islands, the superior authority therein
mentioned. The defendant constructed its building upon the land in
question, where it has since remained. From its construction until the
present time the building has been and is now devoted to the purposes
mentioned in the petition and resolution.

On the 14th of May, 1901, the defendant presented to the Court of
First Instance of Manila, a petition asking that its possession as
owner of the land and building in question be inscribed in accordance
with the provisions of article 390 of the Mortgage Law. The proceedings
usual in such cases were taken, the prayer of the petition was granted
by the Court of First Instance, and on the 13th of June, 1901, the
inscription was made in the registry of property for the city of Manila.

On the 13th of October, 1903, the plaintiff brought this action
against the defendant, asking that the above-mentioned inscription be
canceled, and that judgment be entered in favor of the plaintiff for
the possession of the property and the sum of $14,000, money of the
United States, as damages. Judgment was entered in the court below in
favor of the plaintiff so far as to order that the inscription be so
modified as to show that the plaintiff was the owner of the land, and
that the defendant had a right to occupy it gratuitously, so long as it
devoted the land to the purposes above mentioned. The judgment denied
the plaintiff any other relief. Plaintiff has appealed from the
judgment, but the defendant has not.

The appeal is based upon two grounds:

The appellant claims that the grant to the defendant was made upon the same terms as those found in the grant to the Teatro del Principe Alfonso,
and that by the terms of the latter grant the grantee was bound to
vacate the premises whenever the grantor desired to use them. Evidence
was introduced by the plaintiff to sustain its claim as to the terms of
the grant to the theater. There is some doubt as to the exact
conditions upon which that grant was made, but we will assume, for the
purposes of this case, that they were as claimed by the appellant.

In the petition presented by the defendant, the conditions upon
which it desired to acquire the land are plainly and distinctly stated.
It desired to obtain the right to hold the land so long as it should be
devoted to the maintenance of the institution in question. The petition
there after stated that this was the same condition upon which land had
previously been granted to the theater. It is evident that the
petitioner then believed that the grant to the theater was made upon
the terms which had been before stated, and the evidence shows that the
city of Manila did make the grant to the theater upon those precise
terms, but that this action of the city was afterwards modified by the
Governor-General to the effect claimed by the appellant. We do not
think that this mistake made by the petitioner in regard to the terms
on which the grant was made to the theater, had the effect of modifying
or changing in any way the conditions stated by it as the ones upon
which it desired to acquire the use of the land.

The resolution of the city shows that it intended to grant the
prayer of the petition. It recites the condition in the same way as it
is stated in the petition. It adds also a statement in regard to the
grant to the theater, but we do not think that by this reference it
intended to cut down or limit the grant to the Monte de Piedad.
If the city had intended to do this it would have said simply that it
granted the land upon the same terms upon which it had previously
granted land to the theater. It did not do that. It distinctly said
that it granted the land upon the condition that if the building should
be abandoned, or should cease to be devoted to a Monte de Piedad
it should revert to the municipality. This distinct and positive
statement as to what the condition was must prevail, even if it should
be discovered that there was a difference between that condition and
the condition upon which the grant had been previously made to the

And we hold that the defendant has a right to occupy the land in
question so long as the building is not abandoned, and so long as it is
devoted to the purposes of a Monte de Piedad y Caja de Ahorros.

The appellant also bases its appeal upon the ground that the
defendant, by claiming,in the proceedings relating to the possessory
information to be the absolute owner of the land and building,
forfeited all the rights which it acquired by virtue of the cession of
1887; that by this claim it repudiated the relation which had
theretofore existed between it and the appellant, and virtually said
that it no longer occupied the land under the terms of the grant, but
was the absolute owner thereof. At the trial below evidence was
introduced by the defendant to show that this claim of ownership was
made by the officers then in charge of the defendant institution under
a mistake of fact; that the only documents which the then officers had
before them at the time the proceeding was commenced, indicated that
the city had conveyed in 1887 to the defendant an absolute title to the
land. The evidence tended to show that the then managers of the Monte de Piedad
were not informed of and did not see copies of the petition to which we
have referred, nor of the resolution of the city of Manila making the
cession, and the claim of the defendant is that there was no intention
on its part in presenting the petition for the inscription, to make any
claim which was not justified by the grant made to it by the city in
1887. We do not think it necessary to pass upon this question of good

Did the laws in force in these Islands, at the time this grant was
made in 1887, impose the penalty of forfeiture upon a person in the
condition of the defendant who asserted a claim to the ownership of the
land? The appellant has cited no law which so provides. It has limited
itself, so far as the laws in force in the Islands are concerned, to
the citation of various articles of the Civil Code. Even if the Civil
Code could be considered as governing the rights which the defendant
acquired in 1887, we do not think that any of the articles cited
support the claim of the appellant. Its claim is that the defendant is
to be considered as a usufructuary, and that by claiming to be the
owner of the property it surrendered its rights as such usufructuary.
The surrender mentioned in paragraph 4 of article 513 to our minds does
not include such an act as this. It refers to a voluntary surrender of
the very rights which the usufructuary has, made by him with the intent
to so surrender them. It does not relate to a forfeiture which may be
claimed to be the result of some act performed by the usufructuary
inconsistent with the relation which exists between him and the owner
of the property. The appellant, however, seems to rely chiefly upon the
law in force in the United States upon this point. That law has never
been extended to these Islands, is not in force here now, nor was it in

The judgment, however, should, we think, be modified in one respect.
The defendant had its possession registered on the ground that it was
the owner. It was not the owner, and the inscription should be canceled
in its entirety. The defendant has never asked to have its real
interest registered. If it desires to have this done it can present a
petition to that effect, and the question as to its right to such
registry can then be decided.

The judgment of the court below is modified so that the disposing part shall read as follows:

“It is therefore ordered that possessory
inscription, as above mentioned, be canceled in its entirety, and that
a copy of this decision be sent to the register of deeds of Manila for
its execution, and that the defendant institution pay the costs of this

In other respects the judgment of the court below is affirmed. No
costs will be allowed to either party in this court, and after the
expiration of twenty days judgment should be entered in accordance
herewith, and the case remanded to the court below for execution of
said judgment. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres and Mapa, JJ., concur.



We dissent from the conclusions of the majority opinion and hold
that the defendant should be dispossessed of the land in question for
the following reasons:

First. The defendant was granted the use of the land in question for
a particular purpose only, without any right or title in said land for
any other end or purpose than that indicated in its grant by the city
of Manila, dated the 6th of July, 1887.

Second. When the defendant on the 14th day of May, 1901, attempted to secure title
to said land, it thereby renounced its former relation with the
plaintiff and forfeited its right to continue in possession of said
land. The defendant, in its application to obtain a possessory title to
said land, alleged that it was the owner of said land and presented three witnesses to prove the fact. When it asserted that it was the owner
of the land and not merely the possessor, under a grant for a
particular purpose, it thereby renounced its relation with the city of
Manila, which relation was created by the concession of the 6th day of
July, 1887. The defendant only had the usufruct of said land
and not the title thereto, and whenever it attempted to exercise
ownership over said land, it thereby renounced its former relation with
the grantor, the plaintiff herein. The very moment that the defendant
exercised a control over the said land which was hostile or contrary to
the interests of the city, other than the usufruct indicated in the
said grant, it thereby forfeited its right to continue in possession of
the land. Whenever the defendant asserted a right over the
land or an interest therein antagonistic to the interests of the city
of Manila, it became an adverse holder thereof. (Doe vs. Wells, 10 Alderson and Ellis, 427; Sherman vs. Transportation Co., 31 Vt., 162; Wilson vs. Watkins, 28 U. S., 42.)

When the defendant asserted that it owned the fee in said land, its
possession became a tortious one and it thereby forfeited its right
under its original grant. (Peyton vs. Stith, 30 U. S., 483; Walden vs. Bodley, 39 IT. 8., 156; McGinnis vs. Porter, 20 Penn. State, 80; Civil Code, art. 513, par, 4.)

Whenever the defendant impugned the title of the city of Manila,
affirming by a matter of record or otherwise the fee to said land to be
in itself or another, or claimed a greater estate in said land than it
was entitled to, it thereby forfeited its right to continue in
possession of said land. (Fenn vs. Smart, 12 East, 444; Goodwright vs. Davides, Cowper, 803.)

The act of the defendant, by which it attempted to secure a
possessory title to the land in question, under the provisions of the
mortgage law in force in the Philippine Islands, alleging that it was
the owner of said land, had the effect of putting into operation the
statute of prescription, so that in due time it might transfer a good
title to third persons as against the city of Manila. This act was
certainly antagonistic to the interests of the city of Manila and
amounted to a renunciation of the relation existing between the
defendant and the plaintiff, thereby giving the plaintiff the right to
terminate the contract and bring an action to eject the defendant.

The prayer of the petition of the plaintiff should be granted and the defendant should be dispossessed of said land.

Date created: April 28, 2014


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Apply Filters