LA VISTA vs. CA et al
G.R. No. 95252
September 5, 1997
FACTS: MANGYAN ROAD is a 15-meter wide thoroughfare in QC abutting Katipunan Ave. on the west, traversing the edges of La Vista Subdivision on the north and of the Ateneo de Manila University and Maryknoll (now Miriam) College on the south; Mangyan Road serves as the boundary between LA VISTA on one side and ATENEO and MARYKNOLL on the other. It bends towards the east and ends at the gate of Loyola Grand Villas Subdivision. The area comprising the 15-meter wide roadway was originally part of a vast tract of land owned by the Tuasons.
The Tuasons sold to Philippine Building Corporation (PBC) a portion of their landholdings by virtue of a Deed of Sale with Mortgage. Paragraph three (3) of the deed provides that:
“. . . the boundary line between the property herein sold and the adjoining property of the VENDORS shall be a road fifteen (15) meters wide, one-half of which shall be taken from the property herein sold to the VENDEE and the other half from the portion adjoining belonging to the VENDORS.”
In 1951 PBC, which was then acting for and in behalf of Ateneo de Manila University (ATENEO) in buying the properties from the Tuasons, sold, assigned and formally transferred in a Deed of Assignment with Assumption of Mortgage, with the consent of the Tuasons, the subject parcel of land to ATENEO which assumed the mortgage. The deed of assignment states —
The ASSIGNEE hereby agrees and assumes to pay the mortgage obligation on the above-described land in favor of the MORTGAGOR and to perform any and all terms and conditions as set forth in the Deed of Sale … which said document is incorporated herein and made an integral part of this contract by reference . . . .
On their part, the Tuasons developed a part of the estate adjoining the portion sold to PBC into a residential village known as La Vista Subdivision. Thus the boundary between LA VISTA and the portion sold to PBC was the 15-meter wide roadway known as the Mangyan Road.
Later, the Tuasons developed its 7.5-meter share of the 15-meter wide boundary. ATENEO deferred improvement on its share and erected instead an adobe wall on the entire length of the boundary of its property parallel to the 15-meter wide roadway.
ATENEO informed LA VISTA of the former’s intention to develop some 16 hectares of its property along Mangyan Road into a subdivision. In response, the LA VISTA President clarified certain aspects with regard to the use of Mangyan Road. Thus —
. . . The Mangyan Road is a road 15 meters wide, one-half of which is taken from your property and the other half from the La Vista Subdivision. So that the easement of a right-of-way on your 71/2 m. portion was created in our favor and likewise an easement of right-of-way was created on our 7 1/2 portion of the road in your favor (paragraph 3 of the Deed of Sale between the Tuasons and the PBC and Ateneo de Manila dated 1 July 1949 . . . .
LA VISTA President then, in a letter to the ATENEO President offered to buy under specified conditions the property ATENEO was intending to develop. The offer of LA VISTA to buy was not accepted by ATENEO. Instead, ATENEO offered to sell the property to the public subject to the condition that the right to use the 15-meter roadway will be transferred to the vendee who will negotiate with the legally involved parties regarding the use of such right as well as the development costs for improving the access road.
LA VISTA became one of the bidders. However it lost to Solid Homes, Inc., in the bidding. Thus ATENEO executed a Deed of Sale in favor of Solid Homes, Inc., over parcels of land subject, among others, to the condition that —
7. The VENDOR hereby passes unto the VENDEE, its assigns and successors-in-interest the privileges of such right of way which the VENDOR acquired, and still has, by virtue of the Deeds mentioned in the immediately preceeding paragraph hereof; provided, that the VENDOR shall nonetheless continue to enjoy said right of way privileges with the VENDEE, which right of way in favor of the VENDOR shall be annotated on the pertinent road lot titles…
Subsequently, Solid Homes, Inc., developed a subdivision now known as Loyola Grand Villas and together they now claim to have an easement of right-of-way along Mangyan Road through which they could have access to Katipunan Avenue.
The LA VISTA President however informed Solid Homes, Inc., that LA VISTA could not recognize the right-of-way over Mangyan Road because, first, PBC and its assignee ATENEO never complied with their obligation of providing the Tuasons with a right-of-way on their 7.5-meter portion of the road and, second, since the property was purchased for commercial purposes, Solid Homes, Inc., was no longer entitled to the right-of-way as Mangyan Road was established exclusively for ATENEO in whose favor the right-of-way was originally constituted. LA VISTA, after instructing its security guards to prohibit agents and assignees of Solid Homes, Inc., from traversing Mangyan Road, then constructed one-meter high cylindrical concrete posts chained together at the middle of and along the entire length of Mangyan Road thus preventing the residents of LOYOLA from passing through.
Solid Homes, Inc., complained to LA VISTA but the concrete posts were not removed.. LA VISTA then stationed security guards in the area to prevent entry to LOYOLA through Mangyan Road. To avert violence, Solid Homes, Inc., instituted the instituted the instant case, Civil Case No. Q-22450 before the then CFI of Rizal and prayed that LA VISTA been joined from preventing and obstructing the use and passage of LOYOLA residents through Mangyan Road.
LA VISTA in turn filed a third-party complaint against ATENEO. The trial court issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Solid Homes, Inc. (affirming an earlier order), directing LA VISTA to desist from blocking and preventing the use of Mangyan Road.
The injunction order was however nullified and set aside by the then IAC. Thus in a petition for review on certiorari, Solid Homes, Inc., assailed the nullification and setting aside of the preliminary injunction issued by the trial court.
Meanwhile, on 20 November 1987 the RTC of QC rendered a decision on the merits in affirming and recognizing the easement of right-of-way along Mangyan Road in favor of Solid Homes, Inc., and ordering LA VISTA to pay damages. LA VISTA appealed to the CA.
On 22 May 1990 the Second Division of the CA affirmed in toto the Decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-22450.
On 6 September 1990 the MRs and/or re-raffle and to set the case for oral argument were denied.
Consequently we are left with the instant case where petitioner LA VISTA assails the Decision of respondent CA affirming in toto the Decision of the trial court which rendered a judgment on the merits and recognized an easement of right-of-way along Mangyan Road, permanently enjoining LA VISTA from closing to Solid Homes, Inc., and its successors-in-interest the ingress and egress on Mangyan Road.
ISSUE: Is there an easement of right-of-way over Mangyan Road?
HELD: WHEREFORE, the Decision of respondent CA dated 22 May 1990 and its Resolution dated 6 September 1990, which affirmed the Decision of the RTC, dated 20 November 1987, are AFFIRMED.
Petitioner LA VISTA in its lengthy Memorandum also quotes our ruling in Ramos, Sr., v. Gatchalian Realty, Inc.:
To allow the petitioner access to Sucat Road through Gatchalian Avenue inspite of a road right-of-way provided by the petitioner’s subdivision for its buyers simply because Gatchalian Avenue allows petitioner a much greater ease in going to and coming from the main thoroughfare is to completely ignore what jurisprudence has consistently maintained through the years regarding an easement of a right-of-way, that “mere convenience for the dominant estate is not enough to serve as its basis. To justify the imposition of this servitude, there must be a real, not a fictitious or artificial, necessity for it.’
This is misplaced. Ramos, Sr., v. Gatchalian Realty, Inc., concerns a legal or compulsory easement of right-of-way —
Since there is no agreement between the contending parties in this case granting a right-of-way by one in favor of the other, the establishment of a voluntary easement between the petitioner and the respondent company and/or the other private respondents is ruled out. What is left to examine is whether or not petitioner is entitled to a legal or compulsory easement of a right-of-way —
which should be distinguished from a voluntary easement. A legal or compulsory easement is that which is constituted by law for public use or for private interest. By express provisions of Arts. 649 and 650 of the New Civil Code, the owner of an estate may claim a legal or compulsory right-of-way only after he has established the existence of four (4) requisites, namely:
(a) the estate is surrounded by other immovables and is without adequate outlet to a public highway;
(b) after payment of the proper indemnity;
(c) the isolation was not due to the proprietor’s own acts; and,
(d) the right-of-way claimed is at a point least prejudicial to the servient estate, and insofar as consistent with this rule, where the distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest.
A voluntary easement on the other hand is constituted simply by will or agreement of the parties.
From the facts of the instant case it is very apparent that the parties and their respective predecessors-in-interest intended to establish an easement of right-of-way over Mangyan Road for their mutual benefit, both as dominant and servient estates. One’s attention should rather be focused on the contractual stipulations in the deed of sale between the Tuason Family and the PBC (paragraph 3, thereof) which were incorporated in the deed of assignment with assumption of mortgage by the PBC in favor of Ateneo (first paragraph, page 4 of the deed) as well as in the deed of sale dated October 24, 1976 when the property was ultimately transferred by Ateneo to plaintiff-appellee. Like any other contractual stipulation, the same cannot be extinguished except by voluntary rescission of the contract establishing the servitude or renunciation by the owner of the dominant lots.
The free ingress and egress along Mangyan Road created by the voluntary agreement between Ateneo and Solid Homes, Inc., is thus legally demandable (Articles 619 and 625, New Civil Code) with the corresponding duty on the servient estate not to obstruct the same so much so that —
When the owner of the servient tenement performs acts or constructs works impairing the use of the servitude, the owner of the dominant tenement may ask for the destruction of such works and the restoration of the things to their condition before the impairment was committed, with indemnity for damages suffered. An injunction may also be obtained in order to restrain the owner of the servient tenement from obstructing or impairing in any manner the lawful use of the servitude.
The argument of petitioner LA VISTA that there are other routes to LOYOLA from Mangyan Road is likewise meritless, to say the least. The opening of an adequate outlet to a highway can extinguish only legal or compulsory easements, not voluntary easements like in the case at bar. The fact that an easement by grant may have also qualified as an easement of necessity does not detract from its permanency as a property right, which survives the termination of the necessity
That there is no contract between LA VISTA and Solid Homes, Inc., and thus the court could not have declared the existence of an easement created by the manifest will of the parties, is devoid of merit. The predecessors-in-interest of both LA VISTA and Solid Homes, Inc., i.e., the Tuasons and the PBC spectively, clearly established a contractual easement of right-of-way over Mangyan Road. When the PBC transferred its rights and obligations to ATENEO the Tuasons expressly consented and agreed thereto. Meanwhile, the Tuasons themselves developed their property into what is now known as LA VISTA. On the other hand, ATENEO sold the hillside portions of its property to Solid Homes, Inc., including the right over the easement of right-of-way. In sum, when the easement in this case was established by contract, the parties unequivocally made provisions for its observance by all who in the future might succeed them in dominion.
1. Resultantly, when the court says that an easement exists, it is not creating one. For, even an injunction cannot be used to create one as there is no such thing as a judicial easement. As in the instant case, the court merely declares the existence of an easement created by the parties.
2. The contractual easement of right-of-way having been confirmed, we find no reason to delve on the issue concerning P.D. No. 957 which supposedly grants free access to any subdivision street to government or public offices within the subdivision. In the instant case, the rights under the law have already been superseded by the voluntary easement of right-of-way.
3. in their first assigned error, petitioner LA VISTA argues that respondent appellate court erred in disregarding the decisions in (a) La Vista Association, Inc., v. Hon. Ortizand other cases, and in holding that an easement of right-of-way over Mangyan Road exists.
We do not agree with petitioner. The reliance of petitioner on the cited cases is out of place as they involve the issuance of a preliminary injunction pending resolution of a case on the merits. In the instant case, however, the subject of inquiry is not merely the issuance of a preliminary injunction but the final injunctive writ which was issued after trial on the merits. A writ of preliminary injunction is generally based solely on initial and incomplete evidence. The opinion and findings of fact of a court when issuing a writ of preliminary injunction are interlocutory in nature and made even before the trial on the merits is terminated. Consequently there may be vital facts subsequently presented during the trial which were not obtaining when the writ of preliminary injunction was issued. Hence, to equate the basis for the issuance of a preliminary injunction with that for the issuance of a final injunctive writ is erroneous. And it does not necessarily mean that when a writ of preliminary injunction issues a final injunction follows.
We are unswayed by appellant’s theory that the cases cited by them in their Brief and in their motion for early resolution to buttress the first assigned error, are final judgments on the merits of, and therefore res judicata to the instant query.. Generally, it is axiomatic that res judicata will attach in favor of La Vista if and when the case under review was disposed of on the merits and with Finality. Appellants suffer from the mistaken notion that the “merits” of the certiorari petitions impugning the preliminary injunction in the cases cited by it are tantamount to the merits of the main case, subject of the instant appeal. Quite the contrary, the so-called “final judgments” adverted to dealt only with the propriety of the issuance or non-issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction, unlike the present recourse which is directed against a final injunctive writ under Section 10, Rule 58. Thus the invocation of the disputed matter herein is misplaced.
We thus repeat what we said in Solid Homes, Inc., v. La Vista 15 which respondent Court of Appeals quoted in its assailed Decision 16 —
Being an ancillary remedy, the proceedings for preliminary injunction cannot stand separately or proceed independently of the decision rendered on the merits of the main case for injunction. The merits of the main case having been already determined in favor of the applicant, the preliminary determination of its non-existence ceases to have any force and effect.
4. Finally, petitioner questions the intervention of some LOYOLA residents at a time when the case was already on appeal, and submits that intervention is no longer permissible after trial has been concluded. But Rule 12 of the Rules of Court, like all other Rules therein promulgated, is simply a rule of procedure, the whole purpose and object of which is to make the powers of the Court fully and completely available for justice. The purpose of procedure is not to thwart justice. Its proper aim is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. It was created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. It does not constitute the thing itself which courts are always striving to secure to litigants. It is designed as the means best adopted to obtain that thing. In other words, it is a means to an end.
After all, the intervention does not appear to have been filed to delay the proceedings. On the contrary, it seems to have expedited the resolution of the case as the incidents brought forth by the intervention, which could have been raised in another case, were resolved together with the issues herein resulting in a more thorough disposal of this case.