CASE DIGEST: Calilap-Asmeron vs. DBP

G.R. No. 157330

LINA CALILAP-ASMERON, Petitioner, v. DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, PABLO CRUZ,* TRINIDAD CABANTOG,** ENI S.P. ATIENZA and EMERENCIANA CABANTOG, Respondents.

BERSAMIN, J.:


FACTS:

Petitioner and her brother constituted a real estate mortgage over two parcels of land (Lots A and B) to secure the performance of their loan obligation with respondent Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). With the principal obligation being ultimately unpaid, DBP foreclosed the mortgage. The mortgaged parcels of land were then sold to DBP as the highest bidder. The one-year redemption period expired on September 1, 1981.

Despite the lapse of the redemption period, the petitioner and DBP agreed that the latter would buy back both properties in an installment basis. The petitioners intention to do so was evidenced by a letter sent to DBP. The petitioner also sent a telegram where she similarly expressed to DBP her interest in reacquiring the properties. On November 16, 1981, DBP received another telegram from her, requesting DBP to put the bidding of the properties on hold. A year later, she sent a letter dated August 31, 1982 to reiterate her intention to repurchase the two properties and to offer to deposit P55,500.00 as initial payment.

The petitioner subsequently made the downpayment on September 10, 1992, and DBP formally accepted the offer through its letter dated September 14, 1982, stating therein the terms and conditions which included one which bound her to pay the first amortization of P7,304.15 three months from the execution of the deed, and the remaining amortizations to be due and payable every three months.

DBP presented the duplicate copies of the receipts indicating her timely payment for the first quarterly amortization; however, she incurred delays in her subsequent installments. She made her last payment amounting to P4,500.00 on March 12, 1985, leaving five quarterly amortizations unpaid.

On January 20, 1986, the petitioner sent a handwritten letter requesting DBP to put on hold any plans of selling the subject property.

DBP replied by its letter dated February 5, 1986, demanding payment of the petitioners remaining obligation of P121,013.75 in cash, otherwise, it would be constrained to sell the property. She responded via telegram, informing DBP that she would be arriving on March 4, 1986. The telegram was followed by a handwritten letter dated March 5, 1986 stating her willingness to pay 10% of her outstanding obligations.

On March 12, 1986, DBP demanded the immediate remittance of the promised amount via telegram. When she did not pay the six quarterly amortizations, DBP rescinded the deed of conditional sale and applied for a writ of possession in the RTC (Branch 17) in Malolos, Bulacan. Its application for the writ of possession was granted on November 18, 1986.

ISSUES:

I. Whether DBP could validly rescind the Deed of Conditional Sale

II. Whether Article 1332 of the Civil Code applies to the petitioner

HELD:

The petitioners submissions, that her testimonial evidence sufficiently established the facts behind the execution of the deed of conditional sale, and that she had not fully understood the terms contained in the deed of conditional sale, involved questions of fact, for the consideration and resolution of them would definitely require the appreciation of evidence. As such, her petition for review is dismissible for raising factual issues.

The petitioner would have us consider that she had not given her full consent to the deed of conditional sale on account of her lack of legal and technical knowledge. In effect, she pleads for the application of Article 1332 of the Civil Code which provides that when one of the parties is unable to read, or if the contract is in a language not understood by him, and mistake or fraud is alleged, the person enforcing the contract must show that the terms thereof have been fully explained to the former.

It is quite notable that the petitioner did not specify which of the stipulations of the deed of conditional sale she had difficulty or deficiency in understanding. Her generalized averment of having been misled should, therefore, be brushed aside as nothing but a last attempt to salvage a hopeless position. Our impression is that the stipulations of the deed of conditional sale were simply worded and plain enough for even one with a slight knowledge of English to easily understand. Moreover, the petitioner was not illiterate as she had appeared to the trial court to be educated and had personally composed her correspondence to DPB. Nor was the petitioners ignorance of the true nature of the deed of conditional sale probably true. By her own admission, she had asked the bank officer why she had been made to sign a deed of conditional sale instead of an absolute sale, which in itself reflected her full discernment of the matters subject of her dealings with DBP.

Finally, DBP validly exercised its right to rescind the deed of conditional sale upon the petitioners default. The Court, which is not a trier of facts, adopts the findings of the RTC and the CA, and sustains the exercise by DBP of its right to rescind following the petitioners failure to pay her six monthly amortizations, and after her being given due notice of the notarial rescission. As a consequence of the valid rescission, DBP had the legal right to thereafter sell the property to a person other than the petitioner, like Cruz. In turn, Cruz could validly sell the property to Cabantog and Trinidad, which he did.

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