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403 Phil. 340


[ G.R. No. 120528, January 29, 2001 ]




Before us is the petition for review on certiorari by petitioner Dionisio Calibo, Jr., assailing the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 39705, which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 11, declaring private respondent as the lawful possessor of a tractor subject of a replevin suit and ordering petitioner to pay private respondent actual damages and attorney's fees.

The facts of the case, as summarized by respondent court, are undisputed.
"...on January 25, 1979, plaintiff-appellee [herein petitioner] Pablo U. Abella purchased an MF 210 agricultural tractor with Serial No. 00105 and Engine No. P126M00199 (Exhibit A; Record, p.5) which he used in his farm in Dagohoy, Bohol.

Sometime in October or November 1985, Pablo Abella's son, Mike Abella rented for residential purposes the house of defendant-appellant Dionisio R. Calibo, Jr., in Tagbilaran City.

In October 1986, Pablo Abella pulled out his aforementioned tractor from his farm in Dagohoy, Bohol, and left it in the safekeeping of his son, Mike Abella, in Tagbilaran City. Mike kept the tractor in the garage of the house he was leasing from Calibo.

Since he started renting Calibo's house, Mike had been religiously paying the monthly rentals therefor, but beginning November of 1986, he stopped doing so. The following month, Calibo learned that Mike had never paid the charges for electric and water consumption in the leased premises which the latter was duty-bound to shoulder. Thus, Calibo confronted Mike about his rental arrears and the unpaid electric and water bills. During this confrontation, Mike informed Calibo that he (Mike) would be staying in the leased property only until the end of December 1986. Mike also assured Calibo that he would be settling his account with the latter, offering the tractor as security. Mike even asked Calibo to help him find a buyer for the tractor so he could sooner pay his outstanding obligation.

In January 1987 when a new tenant moved into the house formerly leased to Mike, Calibo had the tractor moved to the garage of his father's house, also in Tagbilaran City.

Apprehensive over Mike's unsettled account, Calibo visited him in his Cebu City address in January, February and March, 1987 and tried to collect payment. On all three occasions, Calibo was unable to talk to Mike as the latter was reportedly out of town. On his third trip to Cebu City, Calibo left word with the occupants of the Abella residence thereat that there was a prospective buyer for the tractor. The following week, Mike saw Calibo in Tagbilaran City to inquire about the possible tractor buyer. The sale, however, did not push through as the buyer did not come back anymore. When again confronted with his outstanding obligation, Mike reassured Calibo that the tractor would stand as a guarantee for its payment. That was the last time Calibo saw or heard from Mike.

After a long while, or on November 22, 1988, Mike's father, Pablo Abella, came to Tagbilaran City to claim and take possession of the tractor. Calibo, however, informed Pablo that Mike left the tractor with him as security for the payment of Mike's obligation to him. Pablo offered to write Mike a check for P2,000.00 in payment of Mike's unpaid lease rentals, in addition to issuing postdated checks to cover the unpaid electric and water bills the correctness of which Pablo said he still had to verify with Mike. Calibo told Pablo that he would accept the P2,000.00-check only if the latter would execute a promissory note in his favor to cover the amount of the unpaid electric and water bills. Pablo was not amenable to this proposal. The two of them having failed to come to an agreement, Pablo left and went back to Cebu City, unsuccessful in his attempt to take possession of the tractor."[1]
On November 25, 1988, private respondent instituted an action for replevin, claiming ownership of the tractor and seeking to recover possession thereof from petitioner. As adverted to above, the trial court ruled in favor of private respondent; so did the Court of Appeals when petitioner appealed.

The Court of Appeals sustained the ruling of the trial court that Mike Abella could not have validly pledged the subject tractor to petitioner since he was not the owner thereof, nor was he authorized by its owner to pledge the tractor. Respondent court also rejected petitioner's contention that, if not a pledge, then a deposit was created. The Court of Appeals said that under the Civil Code, the primary purpose of a deposit is only safekeeping and not, as in this case, securing payment of a debt.

The Court of Appeals reduced the amount of actual damages payable to private respondent, deducting therefrom the cost of transporting the tractor from Tagbilaran, Bohol, to Cebu City.

Hence, this petition.

Essentially, petitioner claims that the tractor in question was validly pledged to him by private respondent's son Mike Abella to answer for the latter's monetary obligations to petitioner. In the alternative, petitioner asserts that the tractor was left with him, in the concept of an innkeeper, on deposit and that he may validly hold on thereto until Mike Abella pays his obligations.

Petitioner maintains that even if Mike Abella were not the owner of the tractor, a principal-agent relationship may be implied between Mike Abella and private respondent. He contends that the latter failed to repudiate the alleged agency, knowing that his son is acting on his behalf without authority when he pledged the tractor to petitioner. Petitioner argues that, under Article 1911 of the Civil Code, private respondent is bound by the pledge, even if it were beyond the authority of his son to pledge the tractor, since he allowed his son to act as though he had full powers.

On the other hand, private respondent asserts that respondent court had correctly ruled on the matter.

In a contract of pledge, the creditor is given the right to retain his debtor's movable property in his possession, or in that of a third person to whom it has been delivered, until the debt is paid. For the contract to be valid, it is necessary that: (1) the pledge is constituted to secure the fulfillment of a principal obligation; (2) the pledgor be the absolute owner of the thing pledged; and (3) the person constituting the pledge has the free disposal of his property, and in the absence thereof, that he be legally authorized for the purpose.[2]

As found by the trial court and affirmed by respondent court, the pledgor in this case, Mike Abella, was not the absolute owner of the tractor that was allegedly pledged to petitioner. The tractor was owned by his father, private respondent, who left the equipment with him for safekeeping. Clearly, the second requisite for a valid pledge, that the pledgor be the absolute owner of the property, is absent in this case. Hence, there is no valid pledge.
"He who is not the owner or proprietor of the property pledged or mortgaged to guarantee the fulfillment of a principal obligation, cannot legally constitute such a guaranty as may validly bind the property in favor of his creditor, and the pledgee or mortgagee in such a case acquires no right whatsoever in the property pledged or mortgaged."[3]
There also does not appear to be any agency in this case. We agree with the Court of Appeals that:
"As indicated in Article 1869, for an agency relationship to be deemed as implied, the principal must know that another person is acting on his behalf without authority. Here, appellee categorically stated that the only purpose for his leaving the subject tractor in the care and custody of Mike Abella was for safekeeping, and definitely not for him to pledge or alienate the same. If it were true that Mike pledged appellee's tractor to appellant, then Mike was acting not only without appellee's authority but without the latter's knowledge as well.

Article 1911, on the other hand, mandates that the principal is solidarily liable with the agent if the former allowed the latter to act as though he had full powers. Again, in view of appellee's lack of knowledge of Mike's pledging the tractor without any authority from him, it stands to reason that the former could not have allowed the latter to pledge the tractor as if he had full powers to do so."[4]
There is likewise no valid deposit in this case. In a contract of deposit, a person receives an object belonging to another with the obligation of safely keeping it and of returning the same.[5] Petitioner himself states that he received the tractor not to safely keep it but as a form of security for the payment of Mike Abella's obligations. There is no deposit where the principal purpose for receiving the object is not safekeeping.[6]

Consequently, petitioner had no right to refuse delivery of the tractor to its lawful owner. On the other hand, private respondent, as owner, had every right to seek to repossess the tractor, including the institution of the instant action for replevin.

We do not here pass upon the other assignment of errors made by petitioner concerning alleged irregularities in the raffle and disposition of the case at the trial court. A petition for review on certiorari is not the proper vehicle for such allegations.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit, and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 39705 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.


Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

[1] Rollo, pp. 33-35.

[2] CIVIL CODE, Article 2085.


[4] Rollo, pp. 41-42.

[5] CIVIL CODE, Article 1962.

[6] Ibid.

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