G.R. No. 203336, June 06, 2016
SPOUSES GERARDO AND CORAZON TRINIDAD, Petitioners, v. FAMA REALTY, INC. AND FELIX ASSAD, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
This case refers to a Petition for Contempt1 filed directly with this Court.
In 1991, petitioners Gerardo and Corazon Trinidad offered to buy from respondent Fama Realty, Inc. (FAMA) 14 lots of the latter's St. Charbel Executive Village located at Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora, Quezon City, at a total price of P17,620,800.00, or P5,000.00 to P5,100.00 per square meter. The parties, thus, executed Reservation Agreements2 (RAs), pursuant to which petitioners made partial payments.
HLURB CaseNos. REM-022194-5807andREM-A-950328-0039
Later on, a controversy arose regarding petitioners' payments, prompting them to file with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) an action for specific performance against FAMA and herein respondent Felix Assad, then FAMA President and General Manager, which was docketed as HLURB Case No. REM-022194-5807. On January 26, 1995, HLURB Arbiter Arturo M. Dublado rendered a Decision3 in said case, decreeing thus:
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby rendered directing respondent to execute the appropriate deed of sale over at least 3 lots from Lots 3 to 14, Block 1 or Lots 1 and 2, Block 12, Phase 2, with an area of at least 240 square meters each. The reservation application for the rest of the lots are hereby cancelled.
All other claims are hereby dismissed.
IT IS SO ORDERED4cralawred
WHEREFORE, THE FOREGOING PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision appealed from is hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:
- Directing respondents to execute the appropriate deed of absolute sale over at least three (3) lots from Lots 3 to 14, Block 1 or Lots 1 and 2, Block 12, Phase 2 with an area of at least 240 square meter[s] each. The reservation application[s] for the rest of the lots are hereby cancelled.
- Ordering the complainants to pay respondents the amount of:
- P500,000.00 as actual damages;
- P30,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
- P50,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision in x x x and the decision in REM-A-950328-0039 (Trinidad case) are hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:
- Declaring the rescission of the contracts as null and void;
- Ordering respondent FAMA to execute the pertinent contract to sell as follows:
- x x x x
- Lot 5-14, Block 1, Phase 2 to Sps. Trinidad.
- Ordering complainant Trinidad to update the remaining downpayments if any, and pay the amortization in accordance with the original terms of the contract x x x.
- Ordering respondent to accept the payments of complainants; in the event FAMA refuses to accept payments, then TRINIDAD x x x is directed to deposit the same to this Board.
- FAMA is hereby ordered to pay to this Board the amount of P20,000.00 as and by way of administrative fine.
Petitioners11 argue that their rescission and cancellation of the RAs are valid and legal as respondents12 failed to fully pay the 30% downpayment, despite the grace period of fifteen (15) months given them; that they did not waive their right to rescind the RAs when they granted a grace period to respondents and accepted their late payments; and that the Siska case is not applicable because respondents did not pay the 30% downpayment in full and they did not accept the manager's check for P1,446,240.00 as they had already rescinded the RAs and said amount was insufficient to cover respondents' arrearages which, as of July, 1992, amounted to P2,892,855.31, so that respondents are not entitled to the execution of the contract to sell.
The petition is without merit.
Petitioners claim that the downpayment made by respondents amounted only to P3,840,000.00, while the latter insist that they paid the amount of P5,286,240.00, which is the required 30% downpayment. It is interesting to note that the difference of P1,446,240.00 is covered by the Bank of Commerce manager's check dated October 9, 1992 which respondents tendered to petitioners' counsel, who acknowledged receipt thereof on October 22,1992. In a letter dated November 3, 1992, petitioners' counsel informed respondents that said check for P1,446,240.00 was not accepted by FAMA as their RAs were already cancelled and their payments were forfeited. On page 6 of respondents' motion for reconsideration of the Decision dated December 15, 1995 of the HLURB, they pointed out that the amount of P1,446,240.00 was not returned to them by petitioners, which the latter did not refute. It appears, therefore, that respondents had fully paid the required downpayment of P5,286,740.00 before the revocation or cancellation of their RAs.
The RAs granted FAMA the right to cancel the same and forfeit the payments made by respondents in the event of failure on the part of the latter to pay any installment in the downpayment as stipulated therein. As found by the HLURB and Office of the President, petitioners accepted the late payments made by respondents on the prescribed 30% downpayment. As held in Siska Development Corporation vs. Office of the President of the Philippines, when the seller accepted and received delayed payments beyond the grace period, it waived its right to rescind and is now estopped from exercising it. Said ruling was reiterated in Development Bank of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, which held that the seller's unqualified acceptance of late payments resulted in the loss of its right to rescind the sale on the basis of such delayed payments.
Neither did the Office of the President err in imposing an administrative fine on petitioners for unsound real estate practices for selling to Enrica Dizon some of the lots they had already sold to respondents.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for lack of merit and the Decision dated August 31,1998, Resolution dated March 12,2003 and Order dated August 21, 2003 of the Office of the President are AFFIRMED.
Dear Sps. Trinidad;
We write in behalf of our clients, FAMA Realty, Inc. and Felix Assad, in connection with the two (2) Reservation Agreements (R.A. 008 and R.A. 009) executed by you and approved by our clients in [sic] April 02,1991.
Under the said Reservation Agreements, you were supposed to pay the amount of P930,240,00 under R.A. 008, and P4,356,000.00 under R.A. 009, or a total of P5,286,240.00 for the two (2) agreements, which were all due on August 02, 1991. Said aggregate amount of P5,286,240.00 represents thirty percent (30%) down payment of the purchase price of the lots, subject of said Reservation Agreements, Under the said Agreements, it is only upon your foil payment of the 30% down payment that the contracts to sell for the subject lots may be executed by FAMA Realty, Inc.
In the consolidated Decision of the HLURB Board of Commissioners in the cases entitled Sps. Gerardo & Corazon Trinidad, x x x versus FAMA Realty, Inc. & Felix Assad, x x x (HL[U]RB Case No. REM-A-950328-0039) x x x, which was affirmed by the Office of the President, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, it was established that you have only paid the amount of P3,840,000.00, out of the amount of P5,286,240.00, representing the aggregate down payments under the two (2) Reservation Agreements, leaving an aggregate balance of P1,446,240.00, which remains unpaid of [sic] to this time.
Considering the foregoing and in connection with the execution proceedings now pending in the case between you and our client with the HLURB, DEMAND is hereby made upon you to pay the said amount of P1,446,240.00 to FAMA Realty, Inc. or through our law firm, within seven (7) days from receipt hereof, otherwise, much to our regret, we will be constrained to institute the proper action to protect the interest of our client, including the availment of remedies/reliefs/options provided our client under the Reservation Agreements and under existing laws.
We will appreciate your prompt and favorable action by communicating with us through our office address and telephone numbers.
Very truly yours,
JEFFREY JOHN L. ZARATE
For the Firm19
PURCHASE PRICE: 2,424 square meters (10 lots) X P5,000.00/sq.m. = P12,120,000.00 LESS PAYMENTS MADE TO FAMA AS FINALLY DECLARED BY CA: P 5,286,240.00 BALANCE: P6,833,760.00
It must be noted that the final and executory April 2, 1997 HLURB Decision directed that respondents need "to update the remaining down payments if any, and pay the amortization in accordance with the original terms of the contract." It is clear, therefore, that respondents need only to pay for the 10 lots awarded to them pursuant to the final and executory April 2, 1997 HLURB Decision under the original terms of the reservation applications, i.e., the agreed purchase price per square meter, for the total land area of the 10 lots.
But petitioners are apparently demanding the payment of Php 17,620,800 covering the 14 lots under the reservation applications less the total downpayment already paid by respondents. This is apparent from petitioners' letter dated May 11, 2010 and the draft Contract to Sell, in which petitioners were demanding for the Php 1,446,240 additional downpayment and the balance of Phpl2,334,560 or a total of Phpl 3,780,800.
Obviously it is inequitable if respondents are required to pay the full amount of the original reservation applications covering 14 lots but will be given only the 10 lots awarded to them, considering that the four (4) other lots covered by the reservation application have been awarded to Enrica Dizon. Thus, from the records, it is clear that respondents should only be required to pay for the total purchase price - under the terms as agreed upon in the two reservation agreements - for the ten (10) lots. There is no dispute that respondents already paid the total amount of Php3,840,000 as downpayment, not counting the Php 1,446,240 payment under the BanCom Manager's Check dated October 9, 1992 which was not encashed by petitioners.
In sum, respondents ought to pay the amount corresponding to the purchase of the 10 lots awarded to them under the terms of the reservation applications less the Php3,840,000 downpayment they have already paid petitioners, hi their February 11, 2011 Manifestation, respondents expressed willingness to pay the amount of Phpl,446,240 subject to the return by petitioners of the BanCom Manager's Check dated October 9, 1992, and the alleged balance of Php6,833,760 for the 10 lots, specifically Lots 5 to 14, Block 1, Phase 2 of St. Charbel Village.
The HLURB Arbiter should then compute the total amount respondents ought to pay for the 10 lots less the downpayment of Php3,840,000. Respondents, who have expressed desire to pay the total amount due, should pay, as computed by the HLURB Arbiter, the balance to petitioners.
WHEREFORE, the HLURB Arbiter is DIRECTED in HL[U]RB Case No. REM-022194-5807 to COMPUTE the total amount respondents are supposed to pay for the ten (10) lots (Lots 5 to 14, Block 1, Phase 2 of St. Charbel Village) awarded to them pursuant to the original terms under the Reservation Applications pertaining to the purchase price per square meter less the Php3,840,000 downpayment already paid by respondents. Respondents are DIRECTED to PAY petitioners the balance, as computed by the HLURB Arbiter, while petitioners are DIRECTED to EXECUTE a Deed of Absolute Sale for the said 10 lots, upon payment of the said balance.
The respondents' manifestation stating that they are ready and willing to pay the balance on the properties subject of this case (Lots 5 to 14) stating the amount and terms thereon is NOTED.
Total Amount Payable For 10 lots (5 lots commercial, 5 lots residential) --------------------- Php 84,840,000.00 Less: Downpayment --------------------- Php 3,840,000.00 Balance --------------------- Php 81,000,000.00 Add: Stale Check --------------------- Php 1,446,240.00 Total Principal amount payable --------------------- Php 82,446,240.00 Plus 3% interest Monthly from Sept. 1991 to Sept. 2012 = 20 yrs. --------------------- Php 11,191,874.40 Total amount due and demandable: principal and interest = Php 93,638,114.4027
Accordingly, per the Honorable Supreme Court's Resolution of 06 June 2011, complainants shall pay respondents the balance of the purchase price in the amount of EIGHT MILLION TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY THOUSAND (P8,280,000.00) PESOS at six percent (6%) interest per annum reckoned from 29 July 1992 and twelve percent (12%) interest per annum reckoned from 01 September 2008, the date of finality of judgment until fully paid, while respondents shall immediately execute the corresponding Deeds of Absolute Sale for the ten (10) lots subject of the case (Lots 5 to 14) upon full payment of the balance thereof.
Sec. 12. Contempt against quasi-judicial entities. - Unless otherwise provided by law, this Rule shall apply to contempt committed against persons, entities, bodies or agencies exercising quasi-judicial functions, or shall have suppletory effect to such rules as they may have adopted pursuant to authority granted to them by law to punish for contempt. The Regional Trial Court of the place wherein the contempt has been committed shall have jurisdiction over such charges as may be filed therefor.cralawred
On the first issue, we stress that under Article 218 of the Labor Code, the NLRC (and the labor arbiters) may hold any offending party in contempt, directly or indirectly, and impose appropriate penalties in accordance with law. The penalty for direct contempt consists of either imprisonment or fine, the degree or amount depends on whether the contempt is against the Commission or the labor arbiter. The Labor Code, however, requires the labor arbiter or the Commission to deal with indirect contempt in the manner prescribed under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.
Rule 71 of the Rules of Court does not require the labor arbiter or the NLRC to initiate indirect contempt proceedings before the trial court. This mode is to be observed only when there is no law granting them contempt powers. As is clear under Article 218(d) of the Labor Code, the labor arbiter or the Commission is empowered or has jurisdiction to hold the offending party or parties in direct or indirect contempt. The petitioners, therefore, have not improperly brought the indirect contempt charges against the respondents before the NLRC.42 (Emphasis supplied)
Section 81. Indirect Contempt. - Any person, enterprise, or entity who fails or refuses to comply with or obey without justifiable reason any lawful order, decision, writ, or process of the Board of Commissioners or its Arbiters or Mediators, or any of its authorized officials, said person, enterprise, or entity shall, upon motion, be declared in indirect contempt and may, in addition to the fine of P2.000.00, be imposed a fine of P500.00 for each day that the violation or failure or refusal to comply continues, and order the confinement of the offender until the order or decision shall have been complied with. In case the offender is a partnership, corporation, or association or enterprise, the above fine shall be imposed on the assets of such entity and the president, managing partner, or chief executive officer thereof shall be ordered confined.
*Per Special Order No. 2353 dated June 2, 2016.
1Rollo, pp. 3-27.
2 Id. at 29-30, 50-51, 65-66.
3 Id. at 29-51.
4 Id. at 50-51.
5 Id. at 53-62; signed by Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer.Ernesto C. Mendiola, Commissioners Luis T. Tungpalan and Teresita A. Desierto.
6 Id. at 61-62.
7 Id. at 99-107; signed by Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Romulo Q. Fabul, and Commissioners Teresita A. Desierto, Francisco L. Dagnalan, and Roque Arrieta Magno.
8 Id. at 106-107.
9 Id. at 71, 82.
10 Id. at 64-77; penned by Associate Justice Marina L. Buzon and concurred in by Associate Justices Edgardo F. Sundiam and Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa.
11 Herein respondents.
12 Herein petitioners.
13Rollo, pp. 74-77.
14 Id. at 6, 83.
15 Id. at 79.
16 Id. at 92.
17 Id. at 115-121.
18 Id. at 113-114.
20 Id. at 81-84.
21 Id. at 86.
22 Id. at 92-98.
23 Id. at 168-174.
24 Id. at 172-174.chanrobleslaw
25 Id. at 176-177.
26 Id. at 179-182.
27 Id. at 176-177. In respondents' Motion to Adopt Computation, however, the principal amount claimed is P84,720,000.00, as opposed to P84,840,000.00 claimed in their Compliance.
28 Id. at 179-180.
29 Id. at 188-192.
30 Id. at 194-198.
31 Id. at 197-198.
32 Id. at 200-212.
33 431 Phil. 753(2002).
34Rollo, pp. 214-219.
35 Id. at 221-232.
36 Section 63. Prohibited Pleadings in Execution Proceedings. - Pleadings or motions in the guise of an appeal on collateral issues or questions deemed already passed upon or considered in the resolution of the case or incident shall not be entertained in the resolution of the motion for execution.
37 Citing Section 47, Rule 13 of the 2011 HLURB Revised Rules of Procedure, which states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrarySection 47. Jurisdiction of the Board of Commissioners. - In the exercise of its adjudicator/ authority, the Board shall have jurisdiction over the following cases:38Rollo, pp. 240-253.
x x x x
(c) Appellate jurisdiction over the judgments of the Arbiters
x x x x
39 Id. at 259-269.
40 Id. at 271-290.
41 681 Phil. 446 (2012).
42 Id. at 454-455.
43 Section 5(q), on Powers and Duties of the Commission, Article IV, on Establishment, Constitution, Powers, Duties of the Human Settlements Regulatory Commission (now HLURB).