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[G.R. No. 4361. December 24, 1908. ]

PEDRO ENDEISA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JOSE M. TALEON, sheriff of Iloilo, ET AL., Defendants-Appellees.

Jose M. Arroyo, for Appellant.

Perfecto Salas Rodriguez, for appellee Jesusa Laureano.

No appearance for the other appellees.


1. SHIPS AND SHIPPING; OWNERSHIP; CODE OF COMMERCE. — While, under the provisions of paragraph 2 of article 573 of the Code of Commerce, the ownership of a vessel may be acquired by the continuous possession thereof for three years, such possession must be based upon good faith.



In his written complaint, the plaintiff alleged: (1) That he is the owner of a locha named Leal, the dimensions and capacity of which are described in the document; (2) that the defendant Jesusa Laureano, in a suit brought by her against Luis Rivera, secured the attachment of the lorcha as being the property of Luis Rivera, and had it sold at public auction; (3) that the defendant Jose M. Taleon, as deputy sheriff, levied upon the lorcha on the 27th of April, 1906, and sold it at public auction on June 25 following; (4) that on the 28th of May of the same year, before the lorcha was sold at public auction, the plaintiff legally notified the sheriff, Jose Maria Taleon, that the said lorcha did not belong to Rivera, but that it was the property of the plaintiff, he having purchased it from Francisca de Herrerias; (5) that notwithstanding this notification, the sheriff sold the lorcha at public auction, at which Juan de Leon was the highest bidder; (6) that by reason of the attachment and sale, the plaintiff was unlawfully deprived of the ownership and possession of the said lorcha, and he prayed: (1) That the attachment and sale of the said lorcha to the defendant Juan de Leon, be declared null and void; (2) that it be held that the plaintiff is the owner and that he is entitled to the possession of the aforesaid lorcha; (3) that the defendants be ordered to immediately deliver the lorcha to the plaintiff in the city of Iloilo where it was attached and sold, in the same condition as it was prior to said attachment and sale.

The defendant limited himself to denying the allegations contained in paragraph 1 of the complaint.

The Court of First Instance of Iloilo, before which the case was heard, made the following findings of fact: That Jesusa Barrioso, as the legal administratrix of the hereditary succession of her late husband, Francisco Elorriaga, had been authorized to sell at public auction the lorcha in question; that at said sale the lorcha was acquired by Luis Rivera, but, as he was a Spanish subject and could not register the vessel in his own name, it became the property of Rivera & Watkins, a company of which Rivera was a member; that upon the dissolution of the partnership in the year 1904, Rivera took the lorcha as part of his share of the capital of the concern and thus kept it until the time it was attached and sold. The said court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff for the recovery of costs.

The following facts have been fully proven:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. That the lorcha Leal formerly belonged to Francisco Elorriaga.

2. That after the death of Francisco Elorriaga, his widow, Jesusa Barrioso, solicited authority from the Court of First Instance of Iloilo to sell, either by private or public sale, all the personal property pertaining to the inheritance. Her request was granted on the 19th of January, 1903.

3. That among other property of Elorriaga, an inventory of which, dated December 19, 1902, appears in the record as Exhibit 3, and which was admitted without objection, the Panco Leal was found.

4. That under a notarial instrument executed by Jesusa Barrioso and Agustin Asensio on March 7, 1903, the former, as owner of one-half of the lorcha Leal and judicial administratrix of the remaining portion on behalf of the intestate estate of her deceased husband, Elorriaga, sold the said lorcha to Asensio for the sum of $1,800, Mexican currency.

This document, although at first rejected, was acknowledged at the trial by the purchaser, Asensio, who was asked the following question: "Is it not true that the lorcha was placed in your name for the reason that you are an American citizen, and that it was not placed in Rivera’s name because Rivera is not an American citizen?" He answered: "No, sir; it was placed in my name because I was the purchaser."cralaw virtua1aw library

5. That on May 17, 1905, Asensio sold the said lorcha to Francisca Zulueta Jose for P2,000 under an instrument executed before a notary public.

6. That on July 28 of the same year, Francisca Zulueta Jose sold it to Pedro Endeisa for P2,500 in the same manner.

These are the proven facts which fully support the petition of the plaintiff that his right of ownership to the lorcha in question be declared; and the finding contained in the judgment, to the effect that Luis Rivera was the purchaser of the lorcha at the public sale, is absolutely incompatible with them, inasmuch as Agustin Asensio was the purchaser. The evidence of the document that proves this sale has not been rebutted or impugned in any manner.

Admitting that Luis Rivera was in possession of the lorcha, as in reality he was when it was attached and sold, the record contains no proof as to when the said possession commenced and how it was acquired. And while, in accordance with paragraph 2 of article 573 of the Code of Commerce, the ownership of a vessel may be acquired by possession, such possession must be in good faith, continued for three years, and with a good title duly recorded. None of these requisites have been proven in favor of the possession of Luis Rivera.

Therefore, there are no grounds in law for sustaining the judgment appealed from, based as it was only on said possession as the principal foundation, and the first three remedies prayed for in the complaint should be granted.

We therefore decide that, reversing the judgment appealed from, we should and do hereby declare null and void the attachment and sale of the said lorcha in favor of the defendant Juan de Leon; that the plaintiff is the owner and is entitled to the possession of the same; and that the defendants shall immediately deliver to the plaintiff the said lorcha in the condition that it was prior to the attachment and sale, such delivery to be made in the city of Iloilo where it was attached and sold. No award of damages and costs is made, but each of the parties to the litigation shall bear his own in both instances. So ordered.

Torres, Mapa, Carson, Willard and Tracey, JJ., concur.

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