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ALONZO vs.

INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT


GR No. L-72873 APRIL 12, 1982
CRUZ, J.
Intent or spirit of law

DOCTRINE:
The law must be read according to its spirit and intent.

CASE SUMMARY:
Five brothers and sisters inherited in equal pro indiviso shares a parcel of land registered in the name of their deceased parents.

FACTS:
Five brothers and sisters inherited in equal pro indiviso shares a parcel of land registered in 'the name of their deceased parents of the
Registry of Deeds of Tarlac.

On March 15, 1963, one of them, Celestino Padua, transferred his undivided share of the herein petitioners for the sum of P550.00 by
way of absolute sale. One year later, on April 22, 1964, Eustaquia Padua, his sister, sold her own share to the same vendees, in an
instrument denominated "Con Pacto de Retro Sale," for the sum of P 440.00.

By virtue of such agreements, the petitioners occupied, after the said sales, an area corresponding to two-fifths of the said lot,
representing the portions sold to them. The vendees subsequently enclosed the same with a fence. In 1975, with their consent, their
son Eduardo Alonzo and his wife built a semi-concrete house on a part of the enclosed area.

On February 25, 1976, Mariano Padua, one of the five coheirs, sought to redeem the area sold to the spouses Alonzo, but his complaint
was dismissed when it appeared that he was an American citizen. On May 27, 1977, however, Tecla Padua, another co-heir, filed her
own complaint invoking the same right of redemption claimed by her brother.

The trial court also dismissed this complaint, now on the ground that the right had lapsed, not having been exercised within thirty days
from notice of the sales in 1963 and 1964. Although there was no written notice, it was held that actual knowledge of the sales by the
co-heirs satisfied the requirement of the law.

In truth, such actual notice as acquired by the co-heirs cannot be plausibly denied. Eustaquia herself, who had sold her portion, was
staying in the same house with her sister Tecla, who later claimed redemption petition. Moreover, the petitioners and the private
respondents were close friends and neighbors whose children went to school together. The area also that was occupied by the
petitioners had merely been mortgaged by Celestino and Eustaquia. In the circumstances just narrated, it was impossible for Tecla not
to know that the area occupied by the petitioners had been purchased by them from the other co-heirs. Especially significant was the
erection thereon of the permanent semi-concrete structure by the petitioners' son, which was done without objection on her part or
of any of the other co-heirs.

ISSUE:
Whether actual knowledge satisfied the requirement of Article 1088 of the Civil Code

Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated
to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of one month from the
time they were notified in writing of the sale by the vendor.

HELD/ RATIO:

Yes.
While we admittedly may not legislate, we nevertheless have the power to interpret the law in such a way as to reflect the will of the
legislature. While we may not read into the law a purpose that is not there, we nevertheless have the right to read out of it the reason
for its enactment. In doing so, we defer not to "the letter that killeth" but to "the spirit that vivifieth," to give effect to the law maker's
will.
In the face of the established facts, we cannot accept the private respondents' pretense that they were unaware of the sales made by
their brother and sister in 1963 and 1964. By requiring written proof of such notice, we would be closing our eyes to the obvious truth
in favor of their palpably false claim of ignorance, thus exalting the letter of the law over its purpose. The purpose is clear enough: to
make sure that the redemptioners are duly notified. We are satisfied that in this case the other brothers and sisters were actually
informed, although not in writing, of the sales made in 1963 and 1964, and that such notice was sufficient. There is no doubt either that
the 30-day period began and ended during the 14 years between the sales in question and the filing of the complaint for redemption in
1977, without the co-heirs exercising their right of redemption. These are the justifications for this exception.

SC DECISION: WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision of the respondent court is REVERSED and that of the trial court is
reinstated, without any pronouncement as to costs.