Friday, February 03, 2012

Duenas vs. Santos Subdivision Homeowners Association, G. R. No. 149417, June 4, 2004

Facts: Petitioner Dueñas is the daughter of the late Cecilio Santos who, during his lifetime, owned a parcel of land with a total area of 2.2 hectares located at General T. De Leon, Valenzuela City , Metro Manila. In 1966, Cecilio had the realty subdivided into smaller lots, the whole forming the Cecilio J. Santos Subdivision. The Land Registration Commission approved the project and the National Housing Authority issued the required Certificate of Registration and License to Sell. At the time of Cecilio’s death in 1988, there were already several residents and homeowners in Santos Subdivision. Sometime in 1997, the members of the SSHA submitted to the petitioner a resolution asking her to provide within the subdivision an open space for recreational and other community activities, in accordance with the provisions of P.D. No. 957, as amended by P.D. No. 1216. Petitioner, however, rejected the request, thus, prompting the members of SSHA to seek redress from the NHA. The Regional Director HLURB opined that the open space requirement of P.D. No. 957 was not applicable to Santos Subdivision. SSHA filed a motion for reconsideration, which averred among others that: P.D. No. 957 should apply retroactively to Santos Subdivision. HLURB-NCR dismissed the complaint. It ruled that while SSHA failed to present evidence showing that it is an association duly organized under Philippine law with capacity to sue. SSHA then appealed to the HLURB Board of Commissioners. The latter body, however, affirmed the action taken by the HLURB-NCR office. Respondent sought relief from the Court of Appeals which granted the petition and accordingly ordered the case to be remanded to the HLURB. Petitioner moved for reconsideration which the Court of Appeals denied.

Issue : Whether or not PD No. 957 should be retroactively applies in this case

Held: The petitioner assails the appellate court’s finding based on the Supreme Court’s previous ruling in Eugenio v. Exec. Sec. Drilon which allowed P.D. No. 957, as amended, to apply retroactively.

The Supreme Court ruled that Eugenio v. Exec. Sec. Drilon is inapplicable in this case. The issue in Eugenio was the applicability of P.D. No. 957 to purchase agreements on lots entered into prior to its enactment where there was non-payment of amortizations, and failure to develop the subdivision. It held therein that although P.D. No. 957 does not provide for any retroactive application, nonetheless, the intent of the law of protecting the helpless citizens from the manipulations and machinations of unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers justify its retroactive application to contracts entered into prior to its enactment. Hence, the SC ruled that the non-payment of amortizations was justified under Section 23 of the said decree in view of the failure of the subdivision owner to develop the subdivision project.

Unlike Eugenio, non-development of the subdivision is not present in this case, nor any allegation of non-payment of amortizations. Further, it has held in a subsequent case that P.D. No. 957, as amended, cannot be applied retroactively in view of the absence of any express provision on its retroactive application. Thus:

…Article 4 of the Civil Code provides that laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided. Thus, it is necessary that an express provision for its retroactive application must be made in the law. There being no such provision in both P.D. Nos. 957 and 1344, these decrees cannot be applied to a situation that occurred years before their promulgation….

The SC has examined the text of P.D. No. 1216 and has not found any clause or provision expressly providing for its retroactive application. Basic is the rule that no statute, decree, ordinance, rule or regulation shall be given retrospective effect unless explicitly stated. Hence, there is no legal basis to hold that P.D. No. 1216 should apply retroactively.

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