Nemo dat non quod habet; lis pendens

As the Supreme Court has said, Nordelak did not acquire ownership or title over the four properties subject of this case because the contract of sale between Mapalad and Nordelak was not only voidable but also void ab inito. Not having any title to the property, Nordelak had nothing to transfer to petitioner Sanchez.

Nemo dat non quod habet. Hindi maibibigay ng isang tao ang hindi kanya. No one can give what he does not have.

Petitioner acquired the property subject of litigation during the pendency of the case in the trial court. It is undisputed that notices of lis pendens were annotated on the TCTs in Nordelaks name covering the subject properties as Entry No. 93-91718. In Lim v. Vera Cruz, the Supreme Court explained: Lis pendens is a Latin term which literally means a pending suit. Notice of lis pendens is filed for the purpose of warning all persons that the title to certain property is in litigation and that if they purchase the same, they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment. The notice is, therefore, intended to be a warning to the whole world that one who buys the property does so at his own risk. This is necessary in order to save innocent third persons from any involvement in any future litigation concerning the property.

By virtue of the notice of lis pendens annotated on the four TCTs in this case, petitioner had notice that the property he was intending to buy is under litigation. He is, therefore, a transferee pendente lite who, as held by the Supreme Court in Voluntad v. Dizon, stands exactly in the shoes of the transferor and is bound by any judgment or decree which may be rendered for or against the transferor.

Under the circumstances petitioner cannot acquire any better right than his predecessor, Nordelak. No river or stream can rise higher than its source. Walang ilog o batis na ang taas ay higit sa kanyang pinagmulan. There is thus no question that a judgment of reconveyance can be legally enforced by Mapalad against petitioner as transferee pendente lite of Nordelak.

The four parcels of land surrendered by former Marcos associate Jose Y. Campos and sequestered by the PCGG must eventually be returned to their rightful owners. If forfeiture proceedings in the Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases prosper, and these properties are finally shown to form part of such ill-gotten wealth, these properties should go to the Filipino people. If they are not ill-gotten, they should be turned over to the Marcoses. But definitely, these properties cannot be transferred to Nordelak nor to petitioner Manuel Luis Sanchez. (G.R. No. 148516; December 27, 2007)