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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. L-1614. March 30, 1949. ]

TEODORA DE LA CRUZ, assisted by her husband, DEMETRIO LUCAS ET AL., Petitioners, v. "ASOCIACION ZANJERA CASILIAN" ET AL., Respondents.

[G.R. No. L-1619. March 30, 1949]

"ASOCIACION ZANJERA CASILIAN" ET AL., Petitioners, v. TEODORA DE LA CRUZ, assisted by her husband, DEMETRIO LUCAS ET AL., Respondents.

Paredes, Diaz & Poblador and Emiliano R. Navarro for petitioners in L-1614 and respondents in L-1619.

Felix R. Domingo for respondents in L-1614 and petitioners in L- 1619.

SYLLABUS


1. LANDLORD AND TENANT; CONTRACTUAL RIGHTS CONFIRMED BY COURT WHICH WERE BASED ON WAIVER; EFFECT ON SUBSEQUENT CASE. — Contractual rights in tenancy contract of plaintiffs which were based on the waiver of the defendants and confirmed by the court by a decision promulgated nearly seven years ago, which is now final and it is incontestable and indefeasible, in favor of the plaintiffs over their dominical rights of some portions of the land, thereby obtained vested rights on the same, no amount of discussion can alter or disturb the existence and nature of such acquired rights which created a real encumbrance and charged on the property itself, nor efface the entecedent finding that the irrigation system in question was constructed way back in 1908 by the plaintiffs and their privies.

2. ID.; EVIDENCE; TESTIMONY UNCONTRADICTED. — Testimony which stands uncontradicted is deemed conclusive.

3. ID.; ASSOCIATION ZANJERA CASILIAN, JURIDICAL PERSONALITY OF. — For the avowed and undeniable purpose of conferring a juridicial personality to the Association Zanjera Casilian, it was incorporated in 1934, with a membership of seventy-five zanjeros or ditch-diggers; the rights and obligations of the tenants were subsequently assigned to this corporation, the "Association Zanjera Casilian (de Bacarra, Ilocos Norte), Inc.," (Exhibit C) plaintiff at bar, a "use plaintiff" to be more correct.

4. ID.; TENANCY CONTRACT; CESSION OF TENANTS’ RIGHTS TO THE ASSOCIATION WITHOUT LANDOWNERS" CONSENT. — But, it is then contended that this cession of rights to be corporation constituted a violation of the tenancy contracts, wherein the change of personnel by their leaders or bosses, without the consent of the landowners, was banned. Such violation, if any, was provoked and caused by the defendants themselves because at the time the relationship between the parties was not only under strain but actually severed, through the dismissal of the plaintiffs of the flimsy excuse that they had opposed the registration of the property under the exclusive names of the defendants.

5. ID.; ID.; DISMISSAL OF TENANTS AS BREACH OF CONTRACT. — This dismissal of the plaintiffs, unjustified and unlawful, constitutes the first breach of contract that aggravated the explosive situation produced by the defendants’ application for registration, to the exclusion, to of the plaintiffs, who had renounced not along ago to their proprietary, interest in the land, in exchange for certain contractual rights they considered advantageous, and provoked all the violent disputes among the parties.

6. ID.; ID.; TENANTS’ ABANDONMENT OF WORK AND WAIVER OF RIGHTS, UNJUSTIFIED INFERENCE. — We agree with the trial court that there can be no justification to believe that the plaintiffs voluntarily abandoned their work, because it would be against the normal course of business for them to have given up their advantage and waive their rights, after so much labor and energy and so much time spent in the property.

7. ID.; ID.; DAMAGES CAUSED BY FRAUD. — These yearly damages must be paid up to the time the plaintiffs are reinstated in the land, as the court has no discretion in changing the amount once it has been determined, the damages having been caused by fraud (dolo) and not through negligence of the defendants.

8. ID.; ID.; LIABILITY AS UNAVOIDABLE CONSEQUENCE. — The plaintiffs stopped working in 1934 due to the fraudulent and violent acts of the defendants, who succeeded in preventing the plaintiffs from working as tenants despite their willingness and eagerness to work. The liability of the defendants for the damages suffered by the plaintiffs is an unavoidable consequence.

9. ID.; ID.; DEFENDANTS’ LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES DUE TO FRAUD AND NOT OF NEGLIGENCE. — There is no question that the liability for damages arising out of dolo is different from the responsibility arising out of negligence. The defendants are responsible for fraudulent acts and not for mere negligence.

10. PLEADING AND PRACTICE; FAILURE TO ALLEGE DAMAGES IN COUNTERCLAIM ON FIRST OPPORTUNITY. — If the damages were caused in the seasons 1933-1934 and 1934-1935, no plausible reason has been advanced to explain the failure of the defendants to file the corresponding action for damages as soon as the same were suffered, knowing particularly that at the time they were represented by Judge V. Ll., who was then a practising attorney; (2) if these damages real, this court cannot understand why such counterclaim was alleged only in the amended answer of 14 March 1941, filed after the plaintiffs had closed their evidence (R. A. ., pp. 27, 36) and not in the original answer of 30 January 1940.

11. ID.; TENANCY CONTRACT; PROTECTION OF RIGHTS WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF LEGAL PROCEDURE SHOULD NOT BE A CAUSE FOR DISCHARGE. — An employee o laborer who resorts to the processes established by law to defend and protect his legal rights against his employer, as long as he keeps himself within the bounds of propriety and legal procedure, can not be discharged from the service. In a true democracy, the defense of a right is sacred and inalienable to all persons, rich or poor, landlord or peasant, and can never be construed as a disrespect to any individual in this era of enlightenment, in which servilism, despotism, slavery and caciquism are anachronistic anathemas.

12. ID.; TENANTS’ PERSISTENCE TO COMPLY WITH CONTRACT AS JUSTIFICATION FOR DAMAGES. — The insistent attempts of the tenants to continue in the collection of the crop that they have prepared and planted and their persistence in returning to work are indicative signs of their desire to comply with their side of the agreement with the landlords. It was the essential foundation for their subsequent actions for damages on a breach of contract.

13. ID.; EVIDENCE; SEASON FOR PLANTING OF RICE AS WITHIN JUDICIAL NOTICE. — This court takes judicial cognizance of the well-established fact, of common and general knowledge that the work of a rice-land farmer is not continuous during the whole calendar year. Anyway, there is always a hiatus, caused by the cycle of our dry and rainy seasons and the growing characteristics of the palay plants, that allows rice farmer ample time to attend to many other activities aside from tending his farm. The plaintiffs were not only farmers but zanjeros or ditch-diggers as well, as part of their livelihood. This was not unknown at all to the defendants.

14. ID.; TENANCY CONTRACT; DEMAND OF IMPOSSIBLE CONDITION IMPROPER. — There is no evidence that the plaintiffs and their privies were at fault in not making productive the whole area. We have not lost tract of the undenied fact that this land was originally stony and partly forested. The demand of an impossible condition is not countenanced in law. A farmer is but human and he cannot defeat the laws of nature.

15. ID.; ID.; TENANCY LAW, ACT NO. 4054; CONDITION REQUIRED OF ITS APPLICATION TO ANY REGION IN THE COUNTRY. — The defend ants finally contend that the plaintiffs are guilty of grave bad conduct, deliberate disobedience, negligence, non-performance of their obligations and abuse of confidence. They desire to apply the standard of conduct regulated in Act No. 4054, without any showing that said law was made extensive to Ilocos Norte, which is a condition required in said law before it could be made applicable to any province or region in the country.

16. ID.; ID.; PRICES OF COMMODITIES; PRE-WAR; LACK OF CONCRETE OR DEFINITE BASES FOR DETERMINATION. — The plaintiffs argue that it is not right nor just to allow the defendants-appellants to reap all the benefits represented by the difference between the pre-war prices set in the judgment appealed from and the prices they actually received for these agricultural products. This court, however, has no concrete nor definite bases for a just and proper determination of prices, because the prevailing prices of the locality are not known. Furthermore, the plaintiffs have failed to consider that the increase in prices have also augmented the cost of production.

17. ID.; ID.; DENIAL OF DEFENDANTS’ TITLE OVER THE LAND IN QUESTION IS NOT REPUDIATION OF TENANCY AGREEMENT. — Defendants T. de la C., Et Al., contend that, because plaintiffs have denied defendants’ title over the land in controversy and, by such denial, they repudiated the tenancy agreements involved, plaintiffs have no right to enforce the same and claimed damages thereon. This claim has no merit at all because, as averred by defendants themselves, the Court of Appeals, in its decision of October 21, 1938, held said tenancy contracts or agreements valid and it is only reasonable that plaintiffs should seek their full enforcement.


D E C I S I O N


PERFECTO, J.:


The petitions in these two cases seek, on different grounds the reversal of a decision rendered by the Court of Appeals. The facts and the legal issues between the parties cannot better be stated as in the decision which we, therefore, reproduce in toto as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"LIM, J.:


"Plaintiffs and defendants appealed against a decision of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte, in which the defendants were sentenced to pay the plaintiffs, with the exception of Alejo Guzman, Juan Santiago, Francisco Santiago, Felipe de la Cruz, Francisco Ignacio, and Elpidio Domingo, the sum of P4,116.80, for damages suffered by the former during the agricultural year 1933-1934, as well as the sum of P1,372.26, for every agricultural year thereafter, and until the defendants allow the group of persons headed by Jacobo Capalungan, and mentioned in the contracts known in the records as O, P, and Q (Exhibits 2, 3, and 4, here), to work in the land of the defendants, under the terms and conditions stipulated in said contract, plus legal interests from the filing of the complaint, and costs.

"The defendants were the owners of a parcel of land containing an area of a little more than 90 hectares, located in barrio de Casilian, in between the towns of Laoag and Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. As this property was barren, the plaintiffs and their predecessors-in-interest laid the foundations and constructed in the year 1908 an irrigation system, fed by the Bacarra River, to make this land productive and fertile. The plaintiffs opened irrigation canals inside the property of the defendants and their predecessors-in-interest, and in compensation for their labor and agreement that they would maintain said irrigation system in running condition, the defendants and their predecessors-in-interest, following the customary practice of the locality, ceded 2/3 of their property to the plaintiffs, retaining 1/3 thereof for themselves.

"On 18 May 1926, a new agreement was signed by the parties, which changed the former conditions. Under this new contract, the plaintiffs and their predecessors-in-interest returned to the defendants the land that they had previously received, subject to the condition that thereafter they would receive 5/6 of the palay harvested and 2/3 of any other crop, the laborers to pay 2/3 of the land taxes. Any violation of its terms would be penalized by a fine of P10 the first time, to be doubled on the second infraction and so on for subsequent infringements (Exhibits 2 and 2-a).

"On 18 March 1930, another tenancy agreement was signed between the defendants herein and some of the plaintiffs herein, as tenants, the latter binding themselves to take care and fence the property of the defendants, and try to cultivate the uncultivated portions, subjecting the culprits and recalcitrants to punishment by ’our association.’ Aside from retaining the former clause that 2/3 of the land taxes shall be defrayed by the tenants, it was also agreed that the crop harvested shall be divided in the following manner:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"(a) On portions already cultivated, 4/5 of the palay to the tenants to be shared among themselves, and 1/5 to the landowners;

"(b) On portions newly cultivated, 5/6 of the palay to the tenants and 1/6 to the landowners;

"(c) On riceland requiring no irrigation, 1/2 of the palay for the tenants and 1/2 for the landowners;

"(d) On all other crops, either on cover crops or on lands unirrigated, 2/3 for the tenants and 1/3 for the landowners (Exhibits 4 and 4-a).

"On 31 October 1932, the defendants herein filed an application for the registration in their name of the property involved in the litigation (Special Proceedings No. 241, Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte).

"On 6 March 1933, Andres Aceret, Jacobo Capalungan and Nicasio Macadangdang filed before the Bureau of Public Works an application for water rights to irrigate the lands of Bonifacio Barut, Andres Lazo, Norberta Albano, Norberta Lagasca Albano, and Domingo Albano, all of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, covering an area of 30.2042 hectares, approximately (Exhibit 16).

"On 22 April 1933, another tenancy agreement, superseding that of 18 March 1930, was signed by 47 tenants, including some of the plaintiffs herein. This was a reproduction of that of 18 March 1930, with some modifications, including the following in connection with the division of the crop:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"On palay from newly opened portions, 5/6 would be retained by the tenants and 1/6 delivered to the landowners, during the first year, and 4/5 to the tenants and 1/5 to the landowners, thereafter;

"The tenants also bound themselves to work free for two days every year in the reparation of the house and fences of the landowners (Exhibits 3 and 3-a).

"On 19 December 1933, the plaintiffs, their predecessors-in- interest and co-owners filed an opposition against the registration of land applied for on behalf of the defendants herein (R. on A., p. 64).

"On 22 August 1934, the Association Zanjera de Casilian was incorporated and it became known thereafter as the ’Asociacion Zanjera Casilian de Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Inc.’ The object of this corporation was to maintain, improve, manage and extend, if necessary, the irrigation system in Casilian site, barrio 37. Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, fed by the Bacarra River, which system had been in existence since 1908 (Exhibit A).

"On 1 November 1934, a general meeting of the members of this corporation approved a resolution whereby said members transferred, conveyed and ceded to the corporation above named all the rights, privileges and obligations that they had in this irrigation system, in such a manner that thereafter the corporation shall represent them in all matters pertaining thereto (Exhibits C and C-1).

"On 8 November 1934, Atty. Vicente Llanes, as lawyer for Teodora de la Cruz and the other defendants, addressed a letter to the District Engineer of Ilocos Norte, asking that an action be taken against Andres Aceret, Jacobo Capalungan and others, of Bacarra, for closing and destroying for the ninth time the irrigation ditches of the property of his clients, and causing the destruction of their rice plantation (Exhibit 5).

"On 29 December 1934, the defendants herein filed a complaint against the plaintiffs herein, asking for an injunction against the latter (plaintiffs herein), who were about to enter by force into the land in question and to collect the crop that was then ready for harvesting from 40 hectares of riceland, approximately (Exhibits L, Teodora de la Cruz, Et Al., v. Andres Aceret (sic) Et. Al., civil case No. 3807, Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte). This petition for an injunction was supported and strengthened by an affidavit of Casiano de la Cruz, one of the defendants herein and one of the plaintiffs in that case, in which he alleged that the palay involved amounted to 400 ’uyones’ (Exhibit M, dated 2 January 1935).

"Some time during the months of January and February, 1935, Domingo de la Cruz, another defendant, had an incident around his property during which he shot Andres Aceret with a shotgun, resulting in a criminal charge for frustrated homicide against said Domingo de la Cruz, known as criminal case No. 6355 of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte.

"On 21 October 1938, this Court of Appeals, in G. R. No. 44597, in deciding an appeal from the oppositors thereto (plaintiffs herein) against the aforesaid application for registration of the defendants herein on the property indicated, promulgated a decision in which the following was held, in part:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Pasemos ahora a considerar las pruebas de los opositores y las cuestiones’ por ellos planteadas. Comenzaremos por las oposiciones de los llamados zanjeros o encargados de la construccion y mantenimiento del sistema de riegos en los terrenos en litigio. Es indudable que estos poseian en concepto de dueños, varias porciones de los terrenos cuestionados, pues se les llaman colindantes al Norte de la tercera parcela comprada por Bernardino de la Cruz de Eduardo Bagcal 2.
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