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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 42605. October 11, 1935. ]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JINTARO UEHARA, Defendant-Appellant.

Palma & Guevera for Appellant.

Solicitor-General Hilado for Appellee.

SYLLABUS


1. CRIMINAL LAW; "ESTAFA" ; SALE OF LAND ALREADY SOLD. — The appellant did not violate section 119, Act No. 496. Primarily this section makes a crime the defrauding of an innocent purchaser by the use of a duplicate certificate of title which does not agree with the original certificate on file in the registry office. At the time of the second sale there was no variance between the original and the owner’s certificate of title, nor was there an undischarged attachment or any other incumbrance as recognized by the Land Registration Act.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ARTICLE 316, REVISED PENAL CODE, APPLICABLE TO THE CASE. — It is contended that article 316 as construed by the Drilon case (36 Phil., 834) is not applicable where the land has been bought within the provisions of the Land Registration Act. It cannot be denied that the statute was enacted to prevent and punish swindles. It is immaterial under the wording of the statute whether under the Spanish system of transfer of property the second purchaser is swindled out of the purchase price of the land that he thought he was buying or whether under the Land Registration Act, the first purchaser loses his rights which he bought and paid for. The moral delinquency is of the same degree and within the authority of the Legislature to punish as a criminal act. Nor does the changed condition of the law relating to the transfer of real property change the crime denounced by this section. The Land Registration Act might make it more difficult to consummate the crime, but it does not change the nature of the act.


D E C I S I O N


HULL, J.:


Appellant was convicted in the Court of First Instance of Davao for estafa. The complain alleges that on the 18th of February, 1932, the accused committed estafa by selling a piece of real estate standing in his name, although on the 5th of August, 1930, he had sold the same piece of property to Antonio Pichon, and by virtue of the second sale he cheated and defrauded said Antonio Pichon out of the value of the property.

The land in question was known as lot No. 210 of the cadastral survey of Davao. The land in the cadastral proceedings was adjudicated to the defendant-appellant, and the order of the court to that effect was dated the 11th of June, 1930. On the 5th of August, 1930, appellant sold by a pacto de retro for the sum of P2,000 the same land, and this contract of sale was registered in the registry of deeds of Davao. The original certificate of title and duplicate thereof were issued in Manila on the 15th day of October, 1931, and were entered in the registration book in the Province of Davao on the 11th of November, 1931.

When the first pacto de retro fell due on the 4th of December, 1930, appellant went to the attorney of Pichon and asked that Pichon would accept a sum of money for an extension of the period of redemption, but these negotiations were not consummated.

Immediately thereafter, defendant brought suit in the Court of First Instance of Davao claiming that the pacto de retro given in August, 1930, was a false and fictitious document, not reciting the true intent of the parties, but was in effect a mortgage with usurious interest. That case was heard by the Court of First Instance on the 21st of December, 1931, and after proof by both parties was taken, the case was submitted for decision. While the case was so pending, on the 18th of February, 1932, defendant sold the same property by another pacto de retro to Bernarda Gatica for the sum of P2,000. On the 31st of March, 1932, the Court of First Instance decided against the contentions of defendant and held that the contract of the 5th of August, 1930, was a pacto de retro and not a loan. From that decision defendant appealed to this court.

While that appeal was pending, the period of redemption under the second pacto de retro expired, and redemption not having been made, title was consolidated in Bernarda Gatica, and a certificate of title was issued by the registry of deeds of Davao under the Land Registration Act.

On July 20, 1933, in G. .R No. 37486, this court promulgated its decision in the civil case of Jintaro Uehara versus Antonio Pichon, and affirmed the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Davao that the contract of the 5th of August, 1930, was a valid sale. 1.

The Solicitor-General contends that the accused is guilty of a violation of section 119 of the Land Registration Act (Act No. 496), which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SEC. 119. Whoever, with intent to defraud, sells and conveys registered land, knowing that an undischarged attachment or any other incumbrance exists thereon which is not noted by memorandum on the duplicate certificate of the title, without informing the grantee of such attachment or other incumbrance before the consideration is paid, shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding three years or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by both, in the discretion of the court."cralaw virtua1aw library

A careful reading of this section however, shows that the appellant did not violate this section. Primarily this section makes a crime the defrauding of an innocent purchaser by the use of a duplicate certificate of title which does not agree with the original certificate on file in the registry office. At the time of the second sale there was no variance between the original and the owner’s certificate of title, nor was there an undischarged attachment or any other incumbrance as recognized by the Land Registration Act.

Article 316 and paragraph 1 thereof of the Revised Penal Code reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ART. 316. Other forms of swindling. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, and a fine of not less than the value of the damage caused and not more than three times such value, shall be imposed upon:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. Any person who, pretending to be the owner of any real property, shall convey, sell, encumber or mortgage the same."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the case of United States v. Drilon (36 Phil., 834), a second sale of the same property was held to constitute estafa under this same article of the Penal Code then in force, which decision was based on similar decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain, based on identical language in the Spanish Penal Code.

It is contended that article 316 as construed by the Drilon case is not applicable where the land has been bought within the provisions of the Land Registration Act. At first blush such a contention seemed to the writer to have merit, but it cannot be denied that the statute was enacted to prevent and punish swindles. It is immaterial under the wording of the statute whether under the Spanish system of transfer of property the second purchaser is swindled out of the purchase price of the land that he thought he was buying or whether under the Land Registration Act, the first purchaser loses his rights which he bought and paid for. It seems to us that the moral delinquency is of the same degree and within the authority of the Legislature to punish as a criminal act. Nor does the changed condition of the law relating to the transfer of real property change the crime denounced by this section. The Land Registration Act might make it more difficult to consummate the crime, but it does not change the nature of the act.

The sentence awarded by the trial court is authorized by law. The judgment appealed from is therefore affirmed. Costs against appellant. So ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Malcolm, Villa-Real, Vickers, Goddard, Diaz, and Recto, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions


ABAD SANTOS, J., dissenting:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

With all due respect I must dissent from the opinion of the court in this case, convinced as I am that, upon the facts disclosed by the record and the law applicable thereto, the appellant is entitled to a judgment of acquittal.

The majority of the court finds the appellant guilty under article 316, paragraph 1, of the Revised Penal Code, which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods and a fine of not less than the value of the damage caused and not more than three times such value, shall be imposed upon:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. Any person who, pretending to be the owner of any real property, shall convey, sell, encumber or mortgage the same."cralaw virtua1aw library

Commenting on the corresponding article of the Spanish Penal Code of 1870, Groizard says:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Por lo demas, los factores del delito descrito en el parrafo primero de este articulo son faciles de apreciar. 1.
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