WILLIAM UY and RODEL ROXAS, petitioners,
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ROBERT BALAO and NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, respondents.
G.R. No. 120465. September 9, 1999
William Uy and Rodel Roxas are agents authorized to sell 8 parcels of land by the owners thereof. By virtue of such authority, they offered to sell the lands, located in Benguet to National Housing Authority (NHA) to be utilized and developed as a housing project. On 14 February 1989, the NHA Board passed Resolution 1632 approving the acquisition of said lands, with an area of 31.8231 hectares, at the cost of P23.867 million, pursuant to which the parties executed a series of Deeds of Absolute Sale covering the subject lands. Of the 8 parcels of land, however, only 5 were paid for by the NHA because of the report it received from the Land Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that the remaining area is located at an active landslide area and therefore, not suitable for development into a housing project. On 22 November 1991, the NHA issued Resolution 2352 cancelling the sale over the 3 parcels of land. The NHA, through Resolution 2394, subsequently offered the amount of P1.225 million to the landowners as daños perjuicios.
On 9 March 1992, petitioners Uy and Roxas filed before the RTC Quezon City a Complaint for Damages against NHA and its General Manager Robert Balao. After trial, the RTC rendered a decision declaring the cancellation of the contract to be justified. The trial court nevertheless awarded damages to plaintiffs in the sum of P1.255 million, the same amount initially offered by NHA to petitioners as damages.
Upon appeal by petitioners, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court and entered a new one dismissing the complaint. It held that since there was “sufficient justifiable basis” in cancelling the sale, “it saw no reason” for the award of damages. The Court of Appeals also noted that petitioners were mere attorneys-in-fact and, therefore, not the real parties-in-interest in the action before the trial court. Their motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioners seek relief from the Supreme Court.
1. Whether or not there was legal basis for rescinding the sale.
2. Whether or not the respondent CA erred in dimissing the subject complaint, finding that the petitioners failed to join as indispensable party plaintiff the selling lot-owners.
1) Yes. The right of rescission or, more accurately, resolution, of a party to an obligation under Article 1191 is predicated on breach of faith by the other party that violates the reciprocity between them. The power to rescind, therefore, is given to the injured party. Article 1191 states that “the power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal ones, in case one of the obligors should not comply with what is incumbent upon him. The injured party may choose between the fulfillment and the rescission of the obligation, with the payment of damages in either case. He may also seek rescission, even after he has chosen fulfillment, if the latter should become impossible.” In the present case, the NHA did not rescind the contract. Indeed, it did not have the right to do so for the other parties to the contract, the vendors did not commit any breach, much less a substantial breach, of their obligation. Their obligation was merely to deliver the parcels of land to the NHA, an obligation that they fulfilled. The NHA did not suffer any injury by the performance thereof the cancellation was not a rescission under Article 1191. Rather, the cancellation was based on the negation of the cause arising from the realization that the lands, which were the object of the sale, were not suitable for housing.
Cause is the essential reason which moves the contracting parties to enter into it. In other words, the cause is the immediate, direct and proximate reason which justifies the creation of an obligation through the will of the contracting parties. Cause, which is the essential reason for the contract, should be distinguished from motive, which is the particular reason of a contracting party which does not affect the other party. Ordinarily, a party’s motives for entering into the contract donor affect the contract. However, when the motive predetermines the cause, the motive may be regarded as the cause.
In this case, it is clear, and petitioners do not dispute, that NHA would not have entered into the contract were the lands not suitable for housing. In other words, the quality of the land was an implied condition for the NHA to enter into the contract. On the part of the NHA, therefore, the motive was the cause for its being a party to the sale. SC held that the NHA was justified in canceling the contract. The realization of the mistake as regards the quality of the land resulted in the negation of the motive/cause thus rendering the contract inexistent. The Supreme Court denied the petition.
2) No. Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court requires that every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest. The real party-in-interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. “Interest,” within the meaning of the rule, means material interest, an interest in the issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. Cases construing the real party-in-interest provision can be more easily understood if it is borne in mind that the true meaning of real party-in-interest may be summarized as follows: An action shall be prosecuted in the name of the party who, by the substantive law, has the right sought to be enforced. Where the action is brought by an attorney-in-fact of a landowner in his name, (as in our present action) and not in the name of his principal, the action was properly dismissed because the rule is that every action must be prosecuted in the name of the real parties-in-interest (Section 2, Rule 3, Rules of Court).
Petitioners claim that they lodged the complaint not in behalf of their principals but in their own name as agents directly damaged by the termination of the contract. Petitioners in this case purportedly brought the action for damages in their own name and in their own behalf. An action shall be prosecuted in the name of the party who, by the substantive law, has the right sought to be enforced. Petitioners are not parties to the contract of sale between their principals and NHA. They are mere agents of the owners of the land subject of the sale. As agents, they only render some service or do something in representation or on behalf of their principals. The rendering of such service did not make them parties to the contracts of sale executed in behalf of the latter. Since a contract may be violated only by the parties thereto as against each other, the real parties-in-interest, either as plaintiff or defendant, in inaction upon that contract must, generally, either be parties to said contract. Petitioners have not shown that they are assignees of their principals to the subject contracts. While they alleged that they made advances and that they suffered loss of commissions, they have not established any agreement granting them “the right to receive payment and out of the proceeds to reimburse themselves for advances and commissions before turning the balance over to the principals.