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Rodriguez vs Rodriguez (Group 12)

G.R. No. L-23002


Doctrine: Property Relations/ Prohibition of Donation Between Husband and Wife
Facts: Concepcion Felix, widow of the late Don Felipe Calderon and with whom she had one
living child, Concepcion Calderon, contracted a second marriage on June 20, 1929, with Domingo
Rodriguez, widower with four children by a previous marriage, named Geronimo, Esmeragdo,
Jose and Mauricio, all surnamed Rodriguez.Prior to her marriage to Rodriguez, Concepcion Felix
was the registered owner of 2 fishponds located in the barrio of Babagad, Bulacan which she
consequently sold to her daughter Concepcion Calderon for P2,500. The properties were then
donated back to her and Rodriguez thus, having the properties registered under the names of the
spouses.
On March 6, 1953, Domingo Rodriguez died intestate, survived by the widow, Concepcion Felix,
his children Geronimo Esmeragdo and Mauricio and grandchildren Oscar, Juan and Ana,
surnamed Rodriguez, children of a son, Jose, who had predeceased him.The heirs of Domingo
entered into an extra-judicial settlement of his estate. Among the properties listed as conjugal
were the two parcels of land in Bulacan, which, together with another piece of property, were
divided as follows: to Concepcion Feix as her share to the conjugal property; of the
remaining to his children and of the remaining to his grandchildren. Corresponding new
TCTs were issued.
On March 23, 1953, in a power of attorney executed by the children and grandchildren of
Domingo Rodriguez, Concepcion Felix was named their attorney in-fact, authorized to manage
their shares in the fishponds. On October 12, 1954, the Rodriguez children executed another
document granting unto the widow lifetime usufruct over one-third of the fishpond which they
received as hereditary share in the estate of Domingo, which grant was accepted by Concepcion
Felix. Then, in a contract dated December 15, 1961, the widow appeared to have leased from the
Rodriguez children and grandchildren the fishpond for a period of 5 years commencing August
16, 1962, for an annual rental of P7,161.37. At this time, the relationship between Concepcion
Felix and her step children turned sour and the widow subsequently failed to deliver the balance
of the earnings of the fishpond. A demand letter was sent to her to claim such, but her answer
was the present case seeking the annulment of the transfer to the conjugal partnership of the
two fishponds on the ground that the conveyances in issue were obtained through duress, and
were inexistent, being simulated and without consideration.
Issue: WON the transfer of the two fishponds to the conjugal property were valid
Ruling: The charge of simulation is untenable, for the characteristic of simulation is the fact that
the apparent contract is not really desired or intended to produce legal effects or in way alter the
juridical situation of the parties. Thus, where a person, in order to place his property beyond the
reach of his creditors, simulates a transfer of it to another, he does not really intend to divest
himself of his title and control of the property; hence, the deed of transfer is but a sham. But
appellant contends that the sale by her to her daughter, and the subsequent sale by the latter to
appellant and her husband, the late Domingo Rodriguez, were done for the purpose of converting
the property from paraphernal to conjugal, thereby vesting a half interest in Rodriguez, and
evading the prohibition against donations from one spouse to another during coverture. If this is
true, then the appellant and her daughter must have intended the two conveyance to be real
and effective; for appellant could not intend to keep the ownership of the fishponds and at the
same time vest half of them in her husband. The two contracts of sale then could not have been
simulated, but were real and intended to be fully operative, being the means to achieve the
result desired. Nor does the intention of the parties to circumvent by these contracts the law
against donations between spouses make them simulated ones.

What would invalidate the conveyances now under scrutiny is the fact that they were resorted to
in order to circumvent the legal prohibition against donations between spouses. The illicit
purpose then becomes illegal causa within the terms of the old Civil Code. Unfortunately for
herein appellant, in contracts invalidated by illegal subject matter or illegal causa, apply
rigorously the rule in pari delicto non oritur action, denying all recovery to the guilty parties inter
se. And appellant is clearly as guilty as her husband in the attempt to evade the legal interdiction
of Article 1334. Wherefore, her present action to reivindicate the, conveyed properties was
correctly repulsed by the Court. In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is
affirmed. Costs against appellant Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez.
Notes:
Art. 87. Every donation or grant of gratuitous advantage, direct or indirect, between the spouses
during the marriage shall be void, except moderate gifts which the spouses may give each other
on the occasion of any family rejoicing. The prohibition shall also apply to persons living together
as husband and wife without a valid marriage.
Art. 1306. If the act which constitutes the illicit consideration is neither a crime nor a
misdemeanor, the following rules shall be observed:
1. When both parties are guilty, neither of them can recover what he may have given by virtue of
the contract, or enforce the performance of the undertaking of the other party; (not sure what
article is this in the NCC)