G.R. No. 911. March 12, 1903 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
Cortes vs. Palanca: A Case of Acquired Easement of Light

### Facts:
The case revolves around a dispute concerning an easement of light involving two adjacent properties located at No. 65 and No. 63 Calle Rosario. Maximo Cortes, the plaintiff, whose wife owns property No. 65, initiated a court action to secure an injunction under sections 162 to 172 of the Code of Civil Procedure against Jose Palanca Yu-Tibo, the defendant and tenant of property No. 63. The injunction aimed to halt construction work conducted by Palanca, which involved raising the roof of house No. 63 in a manner that obstructed the light and air entering through windows of house No. 65. These windows, existing since 1843, had allowed light and air to enter unobstructed until the commencement of the defendant’s construction work. Cortes argued that a prescriptive easement of light had been established through the uninterrupted use of these windows for over 59 years, asserting it as a servitude upon house No. 63. The case escalated to the Supreme Court after the lower court dissolved the preliminary injunction it had earlier granted and dismissed Cortes’s petition, charging the costs against him.

### Issues:
1. Whether the easement of light claimed by Cortes is positive or negative.
2. If the easement can be acquired by prescription, and under what conditions.
3. Whether the actions taken by Palanca (raising the roof) unlawfully obstructed the easement of light for Cortes’s property.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court held that:
1. The easement of light, in this case, is considered negative, thus requiring formal opposition from the dominant estate to commence the prescriptive period.
2. As a negative easement, it cannot be acquired by prescription without a formal act of prohibition from the owner of the dominant estate to the owner of the servient estate against doing something lawful in the absence of the easement.
3. Cortes did not execute any formal act of opposition against the construction modifications by Palanca prior to filing the complaint. Therefore, Cortes had not acquired a prescriptive easement of light, irrespective of the duration since the windows were first opened.

### Doctrine:
This case establishes or reiterates the principle that the prescriptive acquisition of a negative easement, such as an easement of light when the windows are opened on one’s own wall, requires formal opposition from the dominant estate directed towards the servient estate. The commencement of the prescriptive period for acquiring such an easement begins not from when the windows are first opened or used but from when formal opposition is expressed.

### Class Notes:
1. **Easement of Light** – Classified under Philippine law as either positive (allowing the dominant owner to perform specific actions) or negative (restricting the servient owner’s actions). This case highlights that windows on one’s own property imply a negative easement that does not establish itself without formal opposition.

2. **Prescriptive Acquisition of Easements** – Requires uninterrupted use under the conditions prescribed by law; for negative easements, notably, a formal act of opposition is essential to start the prescriptive period.

3. **Legal Provisions Cited**:
– **Civil Code, Articles 530, 532, 533, 537, 538, 582, 585**: Define the classifications and requirements for establishing easements, including prescriptive periods and conditions for positive and negative easements.
– **Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 162 to 172**: Pertaining to the issuance of injunctions in legal disputes.

### Historical Background:
The Philippines, under its mixture of Spanish-influenced Civil Code and American-influenced procedural rules, demonstrates the complexity of property rights, particularly around easements. This case is a manifestation of the country’s legal system grappling with property doctrines influenced by centuries of colonial rule, illustrating how historical legal principles adapt to modern disputes.


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