G.R. No. 152900 - IRENEO UY, Petitioner v. PHELA TRADING COMPANY, Respondent
Petitioner comes to us by way of Petition for Review on Certiorari
seeking the reversal of a decision1
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 56933.
On May 10, 1994, respondent Phela Trading Company (Phela) filed with the Regional Trial Court of General Santos City, Branch 35, against petitioner Uy a civil suit2
for a sum of money, damages (based on fraud) and attorney's fees,3
to collect the sum of P716,490 he owed for fertilizer bought on credit and paid for with checks that were dishonored due to the account being closed.4
In spite of several requests for extension, petitioner never submitted a responsive pleading.5
He did, however, execute a special power of attorney in favor of his son, Jonathan Uy, which empowered him to do the following:6
- To represent and appear for [him] and in behalf [sic] in Civil Case No. 5380 entitled: PHELA TRADING, CO., VS. IRENEO UY, at any and all stages of the proceedings including pre-trial conference, with specific authority to enter into any compromise agreement or amicable settlement;
- To sign papers or documents necessary for the above premises;
- To do such other acts and things as maybe necessary in the premises.
Subsequently, on June 14, 1994, the parties submitted a compromise agreement under which Jonathan Uy bound himself as a surety and solidary obligor for his father for the amount of P796,679.52, including interest. Jonathan put up as collateral security his own real property in Sultan Kudarat.7
On June 27, 1994, the court approved the compromise agreement and rendered judgment in accordance with its terms.8
Later, claiming breach by petitioner and his son of the compromise agreement, Phela filed, on August 29, 1994, a motion for issuance of a writ of execution which was granted by the trial court on September 2, 1994. Pursuant to this, a levy was entered on September 13, 1994 as Entry No. 101428 in TCT No. T-26274 issued to Jonathan Uy covering Lot 592-B-2-B. At the auction sale on January 27, 1995, respondent Phela was the only bidder for P972,281.06. It was consequently awarded the lot and issued a sheriff's certificate of sale dated May 18, 1995.9
On October 23, 1995, Phela filed its omnibus motion for consolidation, cancellation of the present title and writ of possession, alleging that no redemption had been seasonably exercised. Petitioner opposed it as did AAB Trading which alleged that it had purchased the lot in good faith on August 4, 1994, for which it was issued TCT No. 29447 on November 4, 1994. Petitioner averred that Jonathan Uy was not a party to the case and had exceeded the scope of his authority in entering into the compromise agreement, to which he had allegedly agreed only because of respondent's misrepresentations that he would merely serve as a guarantor for his father's obligation.10
On February 3, 1997, the court promulgated a resolution ordering the purchaser in bad faith, AAB Trading, to surrender the owner's copy of the title of the contested lot (now TCT No. 29447) to the Register of Deeds of Sultan Kudarat for cancellation in favor of then-plaintiff, the respondent, and also ordering AAB Trading to surrender possession of the said lot to respondent. The court also directed the Register of Deeds to cancel the said title in favor of respondent. The Court of Appeals affirmed the said resolution.11
Petitioner now claims that: (1) the compromise agreement was invalid, considering that it was entered into by Jonathan Uy merely as an agent of petitioner without his ratification; (2) the notice of levy of execution upon his son's property was improper; (3) that the trial court's resolution allowing respondent to consolidate its title over Jonathan Uy's lot was incorrect, and (4) the subject lot cannot be levied upon by respondent considering that Uy, a non-party to the case, had already sold the land to AAB Trading.
Upon receipt of the petition, the Second Division of this Court ordered respondent to comment, which it did through counsel on August 23, 2002. Later that year, on November 11, 2002, the case was transferred to the Third Division. We then required petitioner to reply to the comment. The reply was filed on March 17, 2003. Subsequently, AAB Trading (which was not a party to this case) submitted a comment to the petition, a memorandum, a reply and a comment to respondent's memorandum, all of which we merely noted, in light of AAB's dubious personality to claim relief.
We ordered the parties to submit their memoranda in a resolution dated April 4, 2004. While respondent submitted its memorandum as early as June 23, 2004, the petitioner, in the last nine months has submitted ten motions for extension of time to file memorandum, but has yet to actually file one. We received his 10th
motion for extension on January 11, 2005. In what we felt was the interest of justice, we have granted petitioner roughly 250 days of extensions within which to submit his memorandum. Petitioner has blatantly abused our leniency and deserves no further accommodation. We now proceed to rule on the petition, with or without petitioner's memorandum.
The principal issues are: (1) whether or not Jonathan Uy was authorized to enter into the compromise agreement with respondent and to bind himself solidarily with petitioner, and (2) whether or not Jonathan Uy's land which he sold to AAB Trading could be made to answer for petitioner's obligation, inasmuch as Jonathan was not a party to the case. Corollary to the first issue is petitioner's contention that, by entering into the compromise agreement, his son was in fact making a confession of judgment without assistance of counsel, and consequently his actions were null and void for being in violation of Article III of the Constitution.
The Court of Appeals disposed of both main contentions in its discussion:
It is notable that registered owner Jonathan Uy who voluntarily joined as party defendant and personally bound himself, did not oppose the said Omnibus Motion of Phela nor question its grant by the court a quo. It was Ireneo Uy who did, but failed to show that Jonathan Uy signed the instrument with vitiated consent and to overcome the presumptions that support the validity of his participation. On the other hand, the Waiver of Jonathan Uy and the Special Power of Attorney in his favor speaks clearly and eloquently of the unvitiated consent of Jonathan Uy and of his authority to act for his father Ireneo Uy. Bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to proof under our Rules. (Manzano vs. Perez, G.R. No. 112485, Aug. 9, 2001). It must be remembered that the general rule in civil cases is that the party having the burden of proof of an essential fact must produce a preponderance of evidence thereon. (United Airlines vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 124110, April 20, 2001). This Ireneo Uy failed to do.
We will not go as far as to characterize the sale to AAB Trading as part of a scheme to elide the effects of the auction sale. But it does stand out that Entry No. 101428 made on September 13, 1994 well precedes the registration on November 4, 1994 of the supposed Deed of Absolute Sale to it dated August 4, 1994. Perforce, AAB Trading is charged of the knowledge of the levy and must reap the consequences of buying a property with a recorded burden or lien.
As a matter of doctrine, we do not disturb the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals.12
There are exceptions to this rule but not one of them is present here. As the CA has aptly stated, the party making a material allegation bears the burden of proving it.13
While the record is replete with documents showing that Jonathan Uy willingly entered into the compromise agreement, it is altogether bereft of even a scintilla of evidence that fraud attended that transaction.
Nonetheless, and to show the petition's lack of merit, we will likewise discuss petitioner's claim that Jonathan Uy entered into the compromise agreement in violation of his right to counsel under Article III of the 1987 Constitution. A quotation from People v. Enrile14
upon which petitioner bases his theory should prove instructive:
Judge Willelmo C. Forton erred when he gave credence to the sworn statement of Abugatal, considering that it was made without compliance with the requisites of a custodial investigation, including the assistance of counsel. The confession was clearly inadmissible. (underscoring ours)
Likewise, an excerpt from the Constitution15
itself will also shed some light on petitioner's contention:
Section 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel. xxx (underscoring ours)
The compromise agreement which Jonathan Uy entered into with respondent was a purely private transaction which provided a resolution to a purely private controversy. In the light of the nature of the agreement and the case it settled, the constitutional right to counsel finds no application here. Section 12 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights, pertains to the rights of persons accused of committing a crime. In particular, the right to counsel is present when one is under custodial investigation for the commission of an offense.16 It does not apply to a person who is entering into a private or civil contract or agreement. The defense of "uncounselled confession" cannot be used to invalidate such an agreement, even by analogy. We cannot countenance such a skewed interpretation of the Bill of Rights.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. Likewise, petitioner's motions for extension of time to file memorandum dated November 8, November 23, and December 8, 2004, being the 8th, 9th and 10th such motions, respectively, are hereby DENIED.
Costs against petitioner.
PANGANIBAN, J., Chairman, SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, CORONA, CARPIO MORALES and GARCIA, JJ., concur.
1 Dated February 28, 2002. Penned by Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios and concurred in by Justices Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez (now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court) and Bienvenido L. Reyes.
2 Rollo, p.22.
3 Rollo, p. 20.
4 Rollo, pp. 22-23.
5 Rollo, p. 23.
6 Rollo, p. 9.
7 Rollo, pp. 23-24.
8 Rollo, pp. 28-29.
9 Rollo, p. 24.
10 Rollo, p. 25.
11 Rollo, pp. 20-27.
12Jose v. People, G.R. No. 148371, August 12, 2004; People v. Parreno, G.R. No. 144343, July 7, 2004.
13Laura and Eriberto Bautista v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 158015, August 11, 2004; MSU v. Roblett Industrial and Construction, G.R. No. 138700, June 9, 2004; Mayor et al. v. Lourdes Masangkay Belen et al., G.R. No. 151035, June 3, 2004; Alonzo v. Cebu Country Club, G.R. No. 130876, 5 December 2003, 417 SCRA 115.
14 G.R. No. 74189, 26 May 1993, 222 SCRA 586.
15 Section 12(1), Article III, 1987 Constitution of the Philippines
16People v. Ador, et al., G.R. No. 140538-39, June 14, 2004; People v. Tomaquin, G.R. No. 133188, July 23, 2004; People v. DueÃ±as, Jr., G.R. No. 151286, March 31, 2004; People v. Peralta et al., G.R. No. 145176, March 30, 2004; People v. Martinez, et al., G.R. No. 137519, March 16, 2004; People v. Hijada, G.R. No. 123696, March 11, 2004; People v. Mojello, G.R. No. 145566, March 9, 2004; People v. Besonia, G.R. No. 151284-85, February 5, 2004.