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G.R. No. 191555, January 20, 2014 - UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

G.R. No. 191555, January 20, 2014 - UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 191555, January 20, 2014

UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review on Certiorari1 are the Decision2 dated November 3, 2009 and Resolution3 dated February 26, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 93833 which affirmed the Orders4 dated November 9, 2005 and January 30, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 585 (RTC) in Civil Case No. 7648 denying the motion to affirm legal compensation6 filed by petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines (Union Bank) against respondent Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

The Facts

Foodmasters, Inc. (FI) had outstanding loan obligations to both Union Bank’s predecessor-in-interest, Bancom Development Corporation (Bancom), and to DBP.

On May 21, 1979, FI and DBP, among others, entered into a Deed of Cession of Property In Payment of Debt7 (dacion en pago) whereby the former ceded in favor of the latter certain properties (including a processing plant in Marilao, Bulacan [processing plant]) in consideration of the following: (a) the full and complete satisfaction of FI’s loan obligations to DBP; and (b) the direct assumption by DBP of FI’s obligations to Bancom in the amount of P17,000,000.00 (assumed obligations).8

On the same day, DBP, as the new owner of the processing plant, leased back9 for 20 years the said property to FI (Lease Agreement) which was, in turn, obliged to pay monthly rentals to be shared by DBP and Bancom.

DBP also entered into a separate agreement10 with Bancom (Assumption Agreement) whereby the former: (a) confirmed its assumption of FI’s obligations to Bancom; and (b) undertook to remit up to 30% of any and all rentals due from FI to Bancom (subject rentals) which would serve as payment of the assumed obligations, to be paid in monthly installments. The pertinent portions of the Assumption Agreement reads as follows:

WHEREAS, DBP has agreed and firmly committed in favor of Bancom that the above obligations to Bancom which DBP has assumed shall be settled, paid and/or liquidated by DBP out of a portion of the lease rentals or part of the proceeds of sale of those properties of the Assignors conveyed to DBP pursuant to the [Deed of Cession of Property in Payment of Debt dated May 21, 1979] and which are the subject of [the Lease Agreement] made and executed by and between DBP and [FI], the last hereafter referred to as the "Lessee" to be effective as of July 31, 1978.

x x x

4. DBP hereby covenants and undertakes that the amount up to 30% of any and all rentals due from the Lessee pursuant to the Lease Agreement shall be remitted by DBP to Bancom at the latter’s offices at Pasay Road, Makati, Metro Manila within five (5) days from due dates thereof, and applied in payment of the Assumed Obligations. Likewise, the amount up to 30% of the proceeds from any sale of the Leased Properties shall within the same period above, be remitted by DBP to Bancom and applied in payment or prepayment of the Assumed Obligations. x x x.

Any balance of the Assumed Obligations after application of the entire rentals and or the entire sales proceeds actually received by Bancom on the Leased Properties shall be paid by DBP to Bancom not later than December 29, 1998. (Emphases supplied)

Meanwhile, on May 23, 1979, FI assigned its leasehold rights under the Lease Agreement to Foodmasters Worldwide, Inc. (FW);11 while on May 9, 1984, Bancom conveyed all its receivables, including, among others, DBP’s assumed obligations, to Union Bank.12

Claiming that the subject rentals have not been duly remitted despite its repeated demands, Union Bank filed, on June 20, 1984, a collection case against DBP before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 7648.13 In opposition, DBP countered, among others, that the obligations it assumed were payable only out of the rental payments made by FI. Thus, since FI had yet to pay the same, DBP’s obligation to Union Bank had not arisen.14 In addition, DBP sought to implead FW as third party-defendant in its capacity as FI’s assignee and, thus, should be held liable to Union Bank.15

In the interim, or on May 6, 1988, DBP filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that it had ceased to be a real-party-in-interest due to the supervening transfer of its rights, title and interests over the subject matter to the Asset Privatization Trust (APT). Said motion was, however, denied by the RTC in an Order dated May 27, 1988.16

The RTC Ruling in Civil Case No. 7648

Finding the complaint to be meritorious, the RTC, in a Decision17 dated May 8, 1990, ordered: (a) DBP to pay Union Bank the sum of P4,019,033.59, representing the amount of the subject rentals (which, again, constitutes 30% of FI’s [now FW’s] total rental debt), including interest until fully paid; and (b) FW, as third-party defendant, to indemnify DBP, as third- party plaintiff, for its payments of the subject rentals to Union Bank. It ruled that there lies no evidence which would show that DBP’s receipt of the rental payments from FW is a condition precedent to the former’s obligation to remit the subject rentals under the Lease Agreement. Thus, when DBP failed to remit the subject rentals to Union Bank, it defaulted on its assumed obligations.18 DBP then elevated the case on appeal before the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 35866.

The CA Ruling in CA-G.R. CV No. 35866

In a Decision19 dated May 27, 1994 (May 27, 1994 Decision), the CA set aside the RTC’s ruling, and consequently ordered: (a) FW to pay DBP the amount of P32,441,401.85 representing the total rental debt incurred under the Lease Agreement, including P10,000.00 as attorney’s fees; and (b) DBP, after having been paid by FW its unpaid rentals, to remit 30% thereof (i.e., the subject rentals) to Union Bank.20

It rejected Union Bank’s claim that DBP has the direct obligation to remit the subject rentals not only from FW’s rental payments but also out of its own resources since said claim contravened the "plain meaning" of the Assumption Agreement which specifies that the payment of the assumed obligations shall be made "out of the portion of the lease rentals or part of the proceeds of the sale of those properties of [FI] conveyed to DBP."21 It also construed the phrase under the Assumption Agreement that DBP is obligated to "pay any balance of the Assumed Obligations after application of the entire rentals and/or the entire sales proceeds actually received by [Union Bank] on the Leased Properties . . . not later than December 29, 1998" to mean that the lease rentals must first be applied to the payment of the assumed obligations in the amount of P17,000,000.00, and that DBP would have to pay out of its own money only in case the lease rentals were insufficient, having only until December 29, 1998 to do so. Nevertheless, the monthly installments in satisfaction of the assumed obligations would still have to be first sourced from said lease rentals as stipulated in the assumption agreement.22 In view of the foregoing, the CA ruled that DBP did not default in its obligations to remit the subject rentals to Union Bank precisely because it had yet to receive the rental payments of FW.23

Separately, the CA upheld the RTC’s denial of DBP’s motion to dismiss for the reason that the transfer of its rights, title and interests over the subject matter to the APT occurred pendente lite, and, as such, the substitution of parties is largely discretionary on the part of the court.

At odds with the CA’s ruling, Union Bank and DBP filed separate petitions for review on certiorari before the Court, respectively docketed as G.R. Nos. 115963 and 119112, which were thereafter consolidated.

The Court’s Ruling in G.R. Nos. 115963 & 119112

The Court denied both petitions in a Resolution24 dated December 13, 1995. First, it upheld the CA’s finding that while DBP directly assumed FI’s obligations to Union Bank, DBP was only obliged to remit to the latter 30% of the lease rentals collected from FW, from which any deficiency was to be settled by DBP not later than December 29, 1998.25 Similarly, the Court agreed with the CA that the denial of DBP’s motion to dismiss was proper since substitution of parties, in case of transfers pendente lite, is merely discretionary on the part of the court, adding further that the proposed substitution of APT will amount to a novation of debtor which cannot be done without the consent of the creditor.26

On August 2, 2000, the Court’s resolution became final and executory.27

The RTC Execution Proceedings

On May 16, 2001, Union Bank filed a motion for execution28 before the RTC, praying that DBP be directed to pay the amount of P9,732,420.555 which represents the amount of the subject rentals (i.e., 30% of the FW’s total rental debt in the amount of P32,441,401.85). DBP opposed29 Union Bank’s motion, contending that it sought to effectively vary the dispositive portion of the CA’s May 27, 1994 Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 35866. Also, on September 12, 2001, DBP filed its own motion for execution against FW, citing the same CA decision as its basis.

In a Consolidated Order30 dated October 15, 2001 (Order of Execution), the RTC granted both motions for execution. Anent Union Bank’s motion, the RTC opined that the CA’s ruling that DBP’s payment to Union Bank shall be demandable only upon payment of FW must be viewed in light of the date when the same was rendered. It noted that the CA decision was promulgated only on May 27, 1994, which was before the December 29, 1998 due date within which DBP had to fully pay its obligation to Union Bank under the Assumption Agreement. Since the latter period had already lapsed, "[i]t would, thus, be too strained to argue that payment by DBP of its assumed obligation[s] shall be dependent on [FW’s] ability, if not availability, to pay."31 In similar regard, the RTC granted DBP’s motion for execution against FW since its liability to Union Bank and DBP remained undisputed.

As a result, a writ of execution32 dated October 15, 2001 (October 15, 2001 Writ of Execution) and, thereafter, a notice of garnishment33 against DBP were issued. Records, however, do not show that the same writ was implemented against FW.

DBP filed a motion for reconsideration34 from the Execution Order, averring that the latter issuance varied the import of the CA’s May 27, 1994 Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 35866 in that it prematurely ordered DBP to pay the assumed obligations to Union Bank before FW’s payment. The motion was, however, denied on December 5, 2001.35 Thus, DBP’s deposits were eventually garnished.36 Aggrieved, DBP filed a petition for certiorari37 before the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 68300.

The CA Ruling in CA-G.R. SP No. 68300

In a Decision38 dated July 26, 2002, the CA dismissed DBP’s petition, finding that the RTC did not abuse its discretion when it issued the October 15, 2001 Writ of Execution. It upheld the RTC’s observation that there was "nothing wrong in the manner how [said writ] was implemented," as well as "in the zealousness and promptitude exhibited by Union Bank" in moving for the same. DBP appealed the CA’s ruling before the Court, which was docketed as G.R. No. 155838.

The Court’s Ruling in G.R. No. 155838

In a Decision39 dated January 13, 2004 (January 13, 2004 Decision), the Court granted DBP’s appeal, and thereby reversed and set aside the CA’s ruling in CA-G.R. SP No. 68300. It found significant points of variance between the CA’s May 27, 1994 Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 35866, and the RTC’s Order of Execution/October 15, 2001 Writ of Execution. It ruled that both the body and the dispositive portion of the same decision acknowledged that DBP’s obligation to Union Bank for remittance of the lease payments is contingent on FW’s prior payment to DBP, and that any deficiency DBP had to pay by December 29, 1998 as per the Assumption Agreement cannot be determined until after the satisfaction of FW’s own rental obligations to DBP. Accordingly, the Court: (a) nullified the October 15, 2001 Writ of Execution and all related issuances thereto; and (b) ordered Union Bank to return to DBP the amounts it received pursuant to the said writ.40 Dissatisfied, Union Bank moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied by the Court in a Resolution dated March 24, 2004 with finality. Thus, the January 13, 2004 Decision attained finality on April 30, 2004.41 Thereafter, DBP moved for the execution of the said decision before the RTC. After numerous efforts on the part of Union Bank proved futile, the RTC issued a writ of execution (September 6, 2005 Writ of Execution), ordering Union Bank to return to DBP all funds it received pursuant to the October 15, 2001 Writ of Execution.42

Union Bank’s Motion to Affirm Legal Compensation

On September 13, 2005, Union Bank filed a Manifestation and Motion to Affirm Legal Compensation,43 praying that the RTC apply legal compensation between itself and DBP in order to offset the return of the funds it previously received from DBP. Union Bank anchored its motion on two grounds which were allegedly not in existence prior to or during trial, namely: (a) on December 29, 1998, DBP’s assumed obligations became due and demandable;44 and (b) considering that FWI became non-operational and non-existent, DBP became primarily liable to the balance of its assumed obligation, which as of Union Bank’s computation after its claimed set-off, amounted to P1,849,391.87.45

On November 9, 2005, the RTC issued an Order46 denying the above-mentioned motion for lack of merit, holding that Union Bank’s stated grounds were already addressed by the Court in the January 13, 2004 Decision in G.R. No. 155838. With Union Bank’s motion for reconsideration therefrom having been denied, it filed a petition for certiorari47 with the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 93833.

Pending resolution, Union Bank issued Manager’s Check48 No. 099-0003192363 dated April 21, 2006 amounting to P52,427,250.00 in favor of DBP, in satisfaction of the Writ of Execution dated September 6, 2005 Writ of Execution. DBP, however, averred that Union Bank still has a balance of P756,372.39 representing a portion of the garnished funds of DBP,49 which means that said obligation had not been completely extinguished.

The CA Ruling in CA-G.R. SP No. 93833

In a Decision50 dated November 3, 2009, the CA dismissed Union Bank’s petition, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the RTC’s part. It affirmed the denial of its motion to affirm legal compensation considering that: (a) the RTC only implemented the Court’s January 13, 2004 Decision in G.R. No. 155838 which by then had already attained finality; (b) DBP is not a debtor of Union Bank; and (c) there is neither a demandable nor liquidated debt from DBP to Union Bank.51

Undaunted, Union Bank moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied in a Resolution52 dated February 26, 2010; hence, the instant petition.

The Issue Before the Court

The sole issue for the Court’s resolution is whether or not the CA correctly upheld the denial of Union Bank’s motion to affirm legal compensation.

The Court’s Ruling

The petition is bereft of merit. Compensation is defined as a mode of extinguishing obligations whereby two persons in their capacity as principals are mutual debtors and creditors of each other with respect to equally liquidated and demandable obligations to which no retention or controversy has been timely commenced and communicated by third parties.53 The requisites therefor are provided under Article 1279 of the Civil Code which reads as follows:

Art. 1279. In order that compensation may be proper, it is necessary:

(1) That each one of the obligors be bound principally, and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other;

(2) That 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;

(3) That the two debts be due;

(4) That they be liquidated and demandable;

(5) That over neither of them there be any retention or controversy, commenced by third persons and communicated in due time to the debtor. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

The rule on legal54 compensation is stated in Article 1290 of the Civil Code which provides that "[w]hen all the requisites mentioned in Article 1279 are present, compensation takes effect by operation of law, and extinguishes both debts to the concurrent amount, even though the creditors and debtors are not aware of the compensation."

In this case, Union Bank filed a motion to seek affirmation that legal compensation had taken place in order to effectively offset (a) its own obligation to return the funds it previously received from DBP as directed under the September 6, 2005 Writ of Execution with (b) DBP’s assumed obligations under the Assumption Agreement. However, legal compensation could not have taken place between these debts for the apparent reason that requisites 3 and 4 under Article 1279 of the Civil Code are not present. Since DBP’s assumed obligations to Union Bank for remittance of the lease payments are–in the Court’s words in its Decision dated January 13, 2004 in G.R. No. 155838–" contingent on the prior payment thereof by [FW] to DBP," it cannot be said that both debts are due (requisite 3 of Article 1279 of the Civil Code). Also, in the same ruling, the Court observed that any deficiency that DBP had to make up (by December 29, 1998 as per the Assumption Agreement) for the full satisfaction of the assumed obligations " cannot be determined until after the satisfaction of Foodmasters’ obligation to DBP." In this regard, it cannot be concluded that the same debt had already been liquidated, and thereby became demandable (requisite 4 of Article 1279 of the Civil Code).

The aforementioned Court decision had already attained finality on April 30, 200455 and, hence, pursuant to the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment, the facts and issues actually and directly resolved therein may not be raised in any future case between the same parties, even if the latter suit may involve a different cause of action.56 Its pertinent portions are hereunder quoted for ready reference:57

Both the body and the dispositive portion of the [CA’s May 27, 1994 Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 35866] correctly construed the nature of DBP’s liability for the lease payments under the various contracts, to wit:

x x x Construing these three contracts, especially the "Agreement" x x x between DBP and Bancom as providing for the payment of DBP’s assumed obligation out of the rentals to be paid to it does not mean negating DBP’s assumption "for its own account" of the P17.0 million debt x x x. It only means that they provide a mechanism for discharging [DBP’s] liability. This liability subsists, since under the "Agreement" x x x, DBP is obligated to pay "any balance of the Assumed Obligations after application of the entire rentals and or the entire sales proceeds actually received by [Union Bank] on the Leased Properties–not later than December 29, 1998." x x x It only means that the lease rentals must first be applied to the payment of the P17 million debt and that [DBP] would have to pay out of its money only in case of insufficiency of the lease rentals having until December 29, 1998 to do so. In this sense, it is correct to say that the means of repayment of the assumed obligation is not limited to the lease rentals. The monthly installments, however, would still have to come from the lease rentals since this was stipulated in the "Agreement."

x x x

Since, as already stated, the monthly installments for the payment of the P17 million debt are to be funded from the lease rentals, it follows that if the lease rentals are not paid, there is nothing for DBP to remit to [Union Bank], and thus [DBP] should not be considered in default. It is noteworthy that, as stated in the appealed decision, "as regards plaintiff’s claim for damages against defendant for its alleged negligence in failing and refusing to enforce a lessor’s remedies against Foodmasters Worldwide, Inc., the Court finds no competent and reliable evidence of such claim."

x x x

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and another one is RENDERED,

(i) Ordering third-party defendant-appellee Foodmasters Worldwide, Inc. to pay defendant and third-party plaintiff-appellant Development Bank of the Philippines the sum of P32,441,401.85, representing the unpaid rentals from August 1981 to June 30, 1987, as well as P10,000.00 for attorney’s fees; and

(ii) Ordering defendant and third-party plaintiff-appellant Development Bank of the Philippines after having been paid by third-party defendant-appellee the sum of P32,441,401.85, to remit 30% thereof to plaintiff-appellee Union Bank of the Philippines.

SO ORDERED.

In other words, both the body and the dispositive portion of the aforequoted decision acknowledged that DBP’s obligation to Union Bank for remittance of the lease payments is contingent on the prior payment thereof by Foodmasters to DBP.

A careful reading of the decision shows that the Court of Appeals, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court, found that only the balance or the deficiency of the P17 million principal obligation, if any, would be due and demandable as of December 29, 1998. Naturally, this deficiency cannot be determined until after the satisfaction of Foodmasters obligation to DBP, for remittance to Union Bank in the proportion set out in the 1994 Decision. (Emphases and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)

x x x

In fine, since requisites 3 and 4 of Article 1279 of the Civil Code have not concurred in this case, no legal compensation could have taken place between the above-stated debts pursuant to Article 1290 of the Civil Code. Perforce, the petition must be denied, and the denial of Union Bank s motion to affirm legal compensation sustained.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated November 3, 2009 and Resolution dated February 26, 2010 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 93833 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice

A T T E S T A T I O N

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court s Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Chief Justice




Endnotes:


1 Rollo, pp. 32-50.

2 Id. at 8-20. Penned by Associate Justice Romeo F. Barza, with Associate Justices Portia Alifio-Hormachuelos and Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, concurring.

3 Id. at 30.

4 Id. at 278-279 and 323, respectively. Penned by Presiding Judge Eugene C. Paras.

5 Erroneously stated as Branch 148 in the Complaint (see id. at 60) and Amended Third-Party Complaint (see id. at 71).

6 Id. at 271-277.

7 Id. at 344-348.

8 Id. at 87.

9 Id. at 349-355.

10 Id. at 356-359.

11 Id. at 88.

12 Id.

13 Id. at 60-70.

14 Id. at 72.

15 Id. at 71-75.

16 Id. at 90-91.

17 Id. at 80-85.

18 Id. at 85.

19 Id. at 86-104.

20 Id. at 103-104.

21 Id. at 100.

22 Id. at 101.

23 Id. at 101-102.

24 Id. at 105-109.

25 Id. at 45.

26 Id. at 108.

27 Id. at 410.

28 Id. at 110-113.

29 Id. at 114-121.

30 Id. at 130-133. Penned by Judge Winlove M. Dumayas.

31 Id. at 411.

32 Id. at 134-136.

33 Id. at 137.

34 Id. at 138-151.

35 Id. at 153-155.

36 Id. at 251.

37 Id. at 174-204.

38 Id. at 248-256.

39 Id. at 257-268; DBP v. Union Bank, 464 Phil. 161 (2004).

40 Id. at 266-267.

41 See Entry of Judgment in G.R. No. 155838; Id. at 452.

42 Id. at 460-462.

43 Id. at 271-277.

44 See Agreement dated May 21, 1979; id. at 272 and 358.

45 Id. at 273.

46 Id. at 278-279.

47 Id. at 326-343.

48 Id. at 463.

49 See Comment of DBP; id. at 386. See also Reply of Union Bank which admitted to such fact; id. at 512.

50 Id. at 8-20.

51 Id. at 9.

52 Id. at 30.

53 See Mavest (U.S.A.), Inc. v. Sampaguita Garment Corporation, G.R. No. 127454, September 21, 2005, 470 SCRA 440, 449.

54 "Compensation may be legal or conventional. Legal compensation takes place ipso jure when all the requisites of law are present, as opposed to conventional or voluntary compensation which occurs when the parties agree to the mutual extinguishment of their credits or to compensate their mutual obligations even in the absence of some of the legal requisites." (Id. at 448-449; citations omitted)

55 See Entry of Judgment in G.R. No. 155838; rollo, p. 452.

56 Tan v. CA, 415 Phil. 675, 676 (2001).

57 Rollo, pp. 264-265; DBP v. Union Bank, supra note 49, at 170-172.


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