Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence

Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1917 > December 1917 Decisions > G.R. No. 11176 December 21, 1917 - MARCIANO RIVERA v. ONG CHE

037 Phil 355:



[G.R. No. 11176. December 21, 1917. ]

MARCIANO RIVERA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ONG CHE, Defendant-Appellee.

Ramon Salinas for Appellant.

J.C. Hixson for Appellee.


1. SALE; ACQUISITION OF TITLE BY SECOND PURCHASER. — the owner of certain mill machinery exposed it for sale upon the premises of L, with authority in the latter to sell it. While the property remained at this place the owner, acting through another agent, C, sold the property to the plaintiff R. Before it was removed by the latter, L, by mistake, sold part of the same machinery to the defendant O, who purchased in good faith and took possession. Held: In an action brought by the plaintiff to recover the disputed property, that the defendant had acquired the title under article 1473 of the Civil Code.

2. PROCEDURE; CONTINUANCE. — An application for a continuance on the ground of the absence of material witnesses is addressed to the discretion of the trial court, and its ruling thereon will not be disturbed unless it clearly appears that such discretion was abused and that by the refusal of the continuance a party has without his fault been deprived of an opportunity of presenting his case of defense.



For some time prior the events which gave origin to this lawsuit, the house of Lichauco, or Lichauco Brother had offered for sale a certain old machinery and boilers which were deposited and exposed for sale in a yard at Tanduay, in the city of Manila. The plaintiff, Marciano Rivera, alleges that upon January 8, 1912, he purchased some of this old material for the price of P5.500, and received a receipt from Cresanto Lichauco showing that he had become such purchaser. These things consisted, according to said receipt, of two complete steam-boilers, with chimneys; one steam motor (15 by 30 inches) complete; one pair of twin rice hullers complete, and a feeding pump (donkey) for boilers.

The plaintiff, however, did not take possession of the property, which remained in the same place. It further appears that upon February 9, 1912, the defendants, Ong Che, bought from Lichauco Brothers a lot of old iron, machinery, and junk for the sum of P1,100. This purchaser took immediate possession of the materials purchased by him. Later, when Marciano Rivera appeared to take possession of the things of which he supposed himself to the purchaser, under the receipt given by Crisanto Lichauco, he found that many of the accessory and auxiliary parts of the boilers, motor, and rice mill were wanting; and upon investigation it developed that these articles were held by the defendant, Ong Che, and were claimed by him as owner by virtue of the purchase effected by him upon February 9, as stated above. The plaintiff thereupon instituted the present action to recover the articles in question alleging that he was the true owner thereof. At the hearing in the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila judgment was given in favor of the defendant and the plaintiff has appealed.

We concur in the conclusion reached by the judge of the Court of First Instance that the defendant, Ong Che, was a purchaser of these articles in good faith. It is furthermore uncontroverted that he acquired possession by virtue of his purchase. He, therefore, undoubtedly has, under article 1473 of the Civil Code, a better title than the first purchaser, who has never had possession at all. The only doubt as to the application of that article to the present case arises from the fact that there is some conflict in the testimony upon the question as to who was the original owner. It is to be inferred from the testimony that the house of Lichauco consists of Faustino Lichauco and Galo Lichauco, and it would seem that Crisanto Lichauco, who effected the sale of Rivera, is not a member of that establishment. Crisanto testified that the property sold by him to the plaintiff Rivera, including the articles which are now in dispute, was the property of Galo Lichauco. There is grave doubt as to correctness of this statement, however, as the same witness admits that the machinery sold by him to Rivera had been taken out of an old mill owned by Lichauco Brothers in Dagupan; and it is not made clear that Galo Lichauco had ever become its exclusive owner. Furthermore, the evidence submitted by the defendant tends to show that the things acquitted by him, including the articles in dispute, were bought from Faustino Lichauco as property of the house. At any rate we find that, under the circumstances disclosed in this case, and even conceding that property belong to Galo Lichauco, the house of Lichauco had authority to sell it. In this view the case presented is that where two different agents of the same owner successively negotiated sales to two different purchasers, and it is obvious that, under the article of the Civil Code cited above, the second purchaser having acquired possession first must be declared the true owner. In our view of the facts it was merely a case where a mistake was made by the house of Lichauco in selling something that had already been sold.

Other aspects of the case are equally fatal to the contention of the plaintiff. It was incumbent upon the plaintiff to prove title in himself, as against the defendant, by a preponderance of the evidence; and he could not recover merely upon the weakness of the defendant’s title. (Belen v. Belen, 13 Phil. Rep., 202.) The court below held that the plaintiff had failed to prove title in himself and we see the no reason for disturbing the judgment on this point. The defendant had, in his favor, the fact that he was purchaser in good faith and had acquired lawful possession. There is a presumption arising from such possession that he was the owner (sec. 334 [10], Code of Civel Procedure); and the mere fact, if such it be, that the property originally belonged to Galo Lichauco was not sufficient, without more, to defeat a title acquired by the defendant through the house of Lichauco.

It should be stated that at the hearing the plaintiff himself did not appear as a witness. Furthermore, no steps were taken, prior to the trial to secure the attendance of either Galo Lichauco or Faustino Lichauco, both of whom would have been most material witnesses for the plaintiff if his contention is correct.

At the close of the trial in the court below, plaintiff’s counsel asked for a continuance in order to call these witnesses. The court refused to grant a continuance for such purpose. In this we think the court did not abuse its discretion, and its action in this respect does not constitute reversible error. The plaintiff was appraised from the nature of the issue raised that the question to be tried was that of ownership and he should have been ready with the witnesses to prove it. He was not entitled to a continuance on the ground of the absence of those important witnesses unless he showed that he had used reasonable diligence to secure their attendance. An application for a continuance of cause is addressed to the sound legal discretion of the trial court, and its ruling thereon will not be disturbed, unless it clearly appears that such discretion has been abused, and that by the refusal of the continuance a party has been without his fault deprived of an opportunity of making his case or defense.

It results that the judgment of the lower court should be affirmed, with costs of this instance against the appellant. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Johnson, Carson, Araullo, Malcolm, and Avanceña, JJ., concur.

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