CASE DIGEST: Artates v. Urbi (G.R. No. L-29421, January 30, 1971)

FACTS: A homestead patent was issued to a married couple (Lino Artates and Manuela Pojas) Sept. 23, 1952. Because of a crime (physical injuries) Artates had committed and for which he was found guilty (Mar. 14, 1956), the homestead was SOLD at a public auction to satisfy Artates’ civil liability. Note that the sale was made less than four years after the acquisition by the couple of the land. Now then, under Sec. 118 of the Public Land Law (Com. Act 141), such homestead, generally cannot be sold, cannot be encumbered, and cannot be held liable for the satisfaction “of any debt CONTRACTED” prior to the expiration of the period of fi ve years from and after the date of the issuance of the patent or grant.

ISSUE: Is the sale valid?

HELD: No, the sale is NOT VALID, for the following reasons:

1. The provision applies both to voluntary sales and involuntary sales such as in this case, because the purpose of the law is to make the homesteader a property owner, a contented and useful member of society; and

2. The term “contracted” must be understood to have been used in the term INCURRED (see Webster’s Dictionary), thus, applicable to both contractual and extra contractual debts considering the protective policy of the law.