Delfin Cruz, president of Special Plans, Inc. testified that on January 7, 1993, plaintiff-corporation and herein defendants entered into a two-year Contract of Lease (Exhibit "A" inclusive, with sub-markings) starting January 16, 1993 until January 15, 1995, involving a portion of said plaintiff-corporation's office building which used to be the Bahay Namin Food and Drinks at 354 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. Defendants used the leased premises for their karaoke and restaurant business known as Saporro Restaurant. Upon [expiration of the lease], defendants, through defendant Lao requested in writing (Exhibit "B") for a renewal of the contract of lease, but plaintiff-corporation agreed only for an eight-month extension of [the] contract with all its terms and conditions on a month-to-month basis at a monthly rental of P23,000.00.
This witness further testified that while defendants paid the sum of P23,000.00 in August 1996 they nevertheless failed to pay the agreed rental since March 16, 1996, thus the accumulated unpaid rentals shot up to P118,000.00. Plaintiff-corporation demanded upon defendants payment therefor in a letter dated June 3, 1996 (Exhibit "D" inclusive with sub-markings).
On cross, Delfin Cruz admitted that plaintiff-corporation did not inform defendants that it was not the owner of the leased premises during the signing of the contract of lease and that said defendants did not inform him of the structural defects of the subject premises, including the repair works conducted thereon.
Antonio San Mateo, vice-president for legal affairs of plaintiff-corporation, averred that he made the demand to pay upon defendants for their failure to settle their agreed monthly rentals starting March 16, 1996 to August 15, 1996; and that for the period covering September 16, 1995 to October 15, 1995, defendants paid only P20,000.00, hence, the balance of P3,000.00 (Exhibit "E").6
Meanwhile, defendant Benjamin Jim testified that he was one of the signatories [to] the original contract of lease involving the subject premises whose facilities, including the roof, were already dilapidated: thus prompting the group to renovate the same. After a year of operation, Saporro lost so he decided to back out but defendant Lao convinced him to stay with the group for another x x x year. But the business lost even more so he finally called it quits with the consent of the group. He pulled out his audio-video equipment, refrigerator, and air-conditioning unit on January 2, 1995, thirteen (13) days before the expiration of the contract of lease. He further denied having signed the request for the extension of the contract.
On cross, he stated that he did not sign documents for and in behalf of Saporro; and, that he allowed defendant Lao and Victor San Luis to sign for the group.
Testifying for defendant Jim, Atty. Maria Rosario Carmela Nova declared that defendant Jim sought her services on August 30, 1996 for the recovery of his money invested at Mount Fuji and Saporro but Atty. Cesa, who acted as counsel for defendants Lao and Manansala, refused to return the same in a letter-reply dated September 23, 1996 (Exhibit "1-Jim" inclusive with sub-markings).
Defendant Selwyn Lao testified that the group was not able to inspect the leased premises since Delfin Cruz had no key thereon during the signing of the contract of lease on January 7, 1993. He stated that paragraph 6 of the said contract provides that the LESSEE shall maintain the leased premises, including the parking lot, in good, clean and sanitary condition and shall make all necessary repairs thereon at his own expense except repairs of structural defects which shall be the responsibility of the LESSOR (Exhibit "1-Lao and Manansala"). When the group took possession of the leased premises on January 16, 1993, the equipment and furniture, among others, were found to be not in good condition. The trusses, roof and ceiling of the premises were already dilapidated. Rain seeped through the floor. When the group talked with Delfin Cruz about the condition of the leased property, the latter would just tell the former not to worry about it.
The group conducted structural and necessary repairs thereon, thus incurring the sum of P545,000.00 (Exhibit "2-Lao and Manansala" inclusive, with sub-markings), P125,000.00 of which was spent on structural defects, as follows:
Roofing repair - /tr>P 45,000.00 (Exhibit "2-A") Ceiling repair - 50,000.00 (Exhibit "2-B") Flooring repair - 20,000.00 (Exhibit "2-C") Waterproofing - 10,000.00 (Exhibit "2-D")
Defendant Lao further testified that Delfin Cruz told him to proceed with the repair work without informing him (Lao) that plaintiff-corporation was not the owner of the leased premises. The witness added that the group paid the sum of P23,000.00 on July 21, 1996 for the period March 16, 1996 to April 15, 1996.
On cross, he averred that he sought the expertise of Gregorio Tamayo to repair the premises for P545,000.00; and that he had a verbal authority to sign for and in behalf of defendant Jim who took his audio-video equipment on January 2, 1996.
Presented at the witness stand to testify for defendant Lao and Manansala, Gregorio Tamayo admitted that defendant Lao sought his services to undertake both structural and finishing works on the subject property at a cost of P545,00.00.
On cross, he declared that he was the subcontractor of defendant Lao.7
Wherefore, in view of the foregoing considerations, let this case be, as it is, hereby ordered DISMISSED for lack of cause of action. No costs.
The counterclaim and cross-claim of the defendants are likewise DENIED for lack of merit.
FROM THE GOING MILLIEU, premises considered, the lower court's (Branch 38) decision dated December 15, 1999 is modified to the effect that Defendants Selwyn Lao and Edgar Manansala are ordered to pay to the plaintiff-corporation the amount of Ninety Five Thousand (P95,000.00) pesos for unpaid rentals. With respect to the other aspect of the decision, there being no cogent reason to disturb the lower court's ruling, the same stands.
- Each one of the obligors be bound principally and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other;
- Both debts consist in a sum of money, or if the things due are consumable, they be of the same kind, and also of the same quality if the latter has been stated;
- The two debts are due:
- The debts are liquidated and demandable;
- Over neither of them be any retention or controversy, commenced by third parties and communicated in due time to the debtor. 24
The lessee shall maintain the leased premises including the parking lot in good, clean and sanitary condition and shall make all the necessary repairs thereon at their own expense except repairs of the structural defects which shall be the responsibility of the lessor. x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Q: When you took possession of the premises on January 16, 1993, were you able to notice or discover anything about the structure of the premises, if any? A: Being an engineer, when I took possession of the premises I have noticed the structure of the premises specially the trusses and the roof and the ceiling were already dilapidated. Q: What else if any were you able to discover? A: We discovered that when it is raining, water [seeped] through the floor and it caused a lot of mess especially the carpet getting wet. Q: What did you do next after having discovered the defects in the premises? A: I tried to talk to Mr. Cruz regarding our position because based on our agreement the rental is high because according to him we can move in immediately without so much cost to our company that's why the 3 of us came up only with P120,000.00 for the immediate operation of the Karaoke but Mr. Cruz told us never mind, pag-usapan na natin sa ibang araw yan. Q: What happened next after you were [able] to talk to Mr. Cruz? A:
The group decided not to waste time because our rental expenses are already running so, we decided that I will [be] the one to shoulder first the construction and repair of the premises.
Q: How much did you spend and were you able to repair the defects? A: I was able to repair the defects but it caused me a lot of time and money because usually repairs cannot be controlled and my expenses reached more than P500,000.00. Q: I am showing to you a document can you please go over it and identify it if this is the document? A: This is the contract signed by me and the sub-contractor who was assigned to renovate and prepare the whole structure. Q: According to this document you submitted a quotation? A: Yes, sir. Q: And whose signature appears above the name Gregorio Tamayo? A: The signature of an engineer/contractor, sir. Q: Among the list of scope of work can you please specify the repairs done x x x. A: It was indicated here that the roofing repair works costs around P45,000.00; the ceiling repair works is P50,000.00; the floor repair works is P50,000.00; and the water proofing works is P10,000.00. Q: And what happened to the repairs? A: It was completed, sir. x x x x Q: All in all how much did it cost you in Exh. "2"? A: More than P500,00.00 sir.
x x x x
Q: With respect to the roofing repair works, the ceiling repair works, the flooring repair works and the water proofing works, all in all how much is total amount you incurred in these repairs? A: P 140,000.00 sir x x x x Q: And, what happened next after informing the lessor. A: He told me that I being an engineer/contractor, just proceed with the repair works and then he said, saka na lang pag-usapan yan maliit lang naman na bagay yan. Q: Were you able to talk to him some other day with respect to these repairs? A: Yes, sir. Q: What happened when you were able to talk to Mr. Cruz? A: He is shy on us sometime but don't talk to us, sir.
Petitioners did not present any convincing evidence of proof which could support their allegation on structural defects and the subsequent repairs made on the leased premises, i.e. documentary evidence (receipts of payments made to subcontractor Tamayo for the repairs made on the building) except for the self-serving testimony of petitioner Lao. They (petitioners) merely submitted an estimated statement of account which did not show that there were actual expenses made for the alleged structural defects. Neither were they able to submit proofs of actual expenses made on the alleged structural defects. Besides, it is contrary to human experience that a lessee would continually renew the lease contract if the subject property were not in good condition free from structural defects.
Further, the testimony of Tamayo, the alleged subcontractor who made the repairs on the leased premises did not convince Us that there were repairs made thereat since he failed to present any receipts of acknowledgments of payments which was allegedly made to him.30
Q: Insofar as you are concerned, what do you mean by structural? A: Because when I inspect the building...
Q: In this room, what is the structural defect? A: Rocks on the wall. Q: It has something to do with the foundation? A: Maybe, sir.31 (Emphasis supplied)
1 12 C.J. 224.
2 Rollo, pp. 547-552.
3 Id. at 553.
4 Id. at 70-73.
5 Id. at 74-95.
6 Id. at 96-97.
7 Id. at 97-99.
8 Id. at 96-101; penned by Presiding Judge Augustus C. Diaz, Pairing Judge for MeTC Branch 38.
9 Id. at 101.
10 CA rollo, p. 78-97.
11 Id. at 98-99.
12 Id. at 98.
13 Rollo, 314.
14 Id. at 560-562; penned by Judge Percival Mandap Lopez.
15 Id. at 562.
17 Id. at 2.
18 Id. at 108-116; penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes and concurred in by Associate Justices Salvador J. Valdez, Jr. and Danilo B. Pine.
19 Id. at 162-163.
20 CA rollo, p. 487.
21 Id. at 487-486.
22 Id. at 524.
23 CIVIL CODE, Art. 1278.
24 CIVIL CODE, Art. 1279.
25 Sentence Spanish Supr. Trib. March 21, 1898, 83 Jur. Civ. 679.
26 Ogden v. Cain, 5 La. Ann. 160; Reynaud v. His Creditors, 4 Rob. (La.) 514.
27 TOLENTINO, CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES VOL. IV (1973 edition), 354 citing Manresa 409-410.
28 208 Phil. 561, 565 (1983).
29 Rollo, p. 107-115.
30 Id. at 37.
31 Id. at 532-533.
32 Solidbank Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 456 Phil. 879, 887 (2003).
33 Quezon Development Bank v. Court of Appeals, 360 Phil. 392, 399 (1998).
34 Spouses Buot v. Court of Appeals, 410 Phil. 183, 200 (2001).
35 Spouses Custodio v. Court of Appeals, 323 Phil. 575, 584 (1996).
36 Rollo at 430-433.
37 Id. at 464.
38 Friend v. Union Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 165767, November 29, 2005, 476 SCRA 453, 549.