[G.R. No. L-3557. August 22, 1907. ]
VICTORIANO GARCIA, ET AL., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. REMIGIO DIAMSON, Defendant-Appellee.
C.H. Gest, for Appellants.
Monico R. Mercado, for Appellee.
CONTRACT; SALE WITH RIGHT OF REPURCHASE; STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. — A contract of sale provided that the vendors should have the right to repurchase the property, but did not fix the ultimate period within which the repurchase might be made: Held, That the contract having been entered into prior to the time when the Civil Code went into effect in the Philippine Islands, the period within which an action could have been commenced for the exercise of the right of repurchase is governed by articles 1939 and 1508 of the said code, the latter being in the nature of a statute of limitations, and that the full period allowed by said code having already elapsed since it went into effect, an action to enforce the right of repurchase can not be maintained.
D E C I S I O N
The principal question in this case turns upon the proper construction of a contract made on the 24th day of May, 1879, between the grantors of the appellants ands the grantor of the appellee. The court below held that this document constituted a contract of sale with the right to repurchase; that no attempt to repurchase was made until 1905, and that at that time this right had expired.
The contract, after stating that the grantors sold and conveyed the property described therein to the grantees, provided as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"So that, beginning with the present day, when this document has been executed, all the rights, possession, and dominion in and to said land, together with the enjoyment of the fruits thereof, the right to sell, bequeath, and to give, are hereby transferred to these purchasers, since they have purchased it with their money, through a proper contract of purchase and sale. Both of the parties herein have also unanimously agreed that for a term of four years we renounce our right to the purchase of the same, but we shall, however, be entitled to ask for an increase of the piece at which it was by them purchased, in the event of our being in need of money; but at the expiration of said term, if we have the means, and are willing to take the land back, we shall be entitled to purchase it; no interest is to be charged on the money or the proceeds of the land, for the reason that our contract of purchase and sale is not a mortgage or any other kind of contract for the loan of money at interest. As is usually done, the purchase shall be made in the month of May."cralaw virtua1aw library
A mere reading of this paragraph of the contract is sufficient to show that this decision of the court below was clearly right. By the terms of the contract, the vendors had no right to repurchase the property until the 25th of May, 1883. Within what time they might thereafter exercise this right is nowhere stated in the contract. There was therefore no express agreement upon this subject. The contract having been executed prior to the time when the Civil Code went into effect in these Islands, the time within which an action could be commenced for the exercise of that right is governed by article 1939 of that code. That article is as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Prescription, which began to run before the publication of this code, shall be governed by the prior laws; but if, after this code became operative, all the time required in the same for prescription has alleged, it shall be effectual, even if according to said prior laws a longer period of time may be required."cralaw virtua1aw library
It is not necessary to inquire what the period of limitations was under former law, for the Civil Code itself contains provisions relating to that subject. Article 1508 is as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"The right referred to in the proceeding article, in the absence of an express agreement, shall last four years counted from the date of the contract.
"Should there be an agreement, the periods shall not exceeds ten years."cralaw virtua1aw library
By the terms if that article, in a case like the present where there was no express agreement with reference to the time within which the right to repurchase might be exercised, an action to enforce that right must be brought within four years. The last part of article 1939 is therefore applicable.
The Civil Code went into force in the Philippine Islands on the 8th day of December, 1889. Since that time the full period given by article 1508 has elapsed. The right to commence an action for the repurchase of this land, therefore, expired on the 8th day of December, 1893.
The period fixed in article 1508 is a statute of limitations. (Manresa’s Commentaries on the Civil Code, vol. 10, pp. 278-279.)
Two cases were pending in the Court of Land Registration relating to the same land. They were removed to this court by one bill of exceptions. The judgment of that court in case numbered 2028 therein, and the judgment of that court in case numbered 1645 therein, are both affirmed, with the costs of this instance against the appellants. So ordered.
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, and Tracey, JJ., concur.