SC orders Caltex to pay compensation, damages to gas dealer’s kids for ‘dishonest’ land-grab
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered Caltex Philippines, Inc., to pay P6 million in damages and a yet-undetermined amount of just compensation to three siblings, after the company “dishonestly” took their share of their father’s land to settle their mother’s debts.
In a recent 33-page notice of resolution, the SC 1st Division found Caltex liable to pay P1 million each in moral and exemplary damages to Jose Antonio Medina, Maria Luisa Medina and Milagros Medina. The damages would earn 6% interest per annum.
The SC also remanded the case to the Ilagan, Isabela, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16 for the computation of the just compensation that should be received by the Medina siblings, as well as Luisa’s husband Tarciso Calilung.
The case concerned the 228.9-hectare properties in Alibagu, Isabela, owned by Antonio Medina. The lands were passed on to his widow Antonia and their three children.
In June 1989, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) sold Antonia’s properties to Caltex because of her failure to pay for the deliveries of petroleum products she sold as a dealer.
Caltex took all of the land. The SC, however, said Antonia was entitled to only one-fourth of the land and the judgment in Caltex’s favor could only be enforced against the debtor and not her children.
The SC held Caltex to be in bad faith for intending to exercise ownership over the entire land, because it failed to inform the sheriff about the real ownership despite knowing about it.
Even worse, Caltex sold the properties to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) without clarifying that they covered the children’s shares.
“Caltex knew that it cannot acquire the entire subject properties. Thus, knowing that the sale of the entire subject properties to it. Caltex should have notified the sheriff of the error and sought for a correction of the certificate of final sale,” read the notice signed by Division Clerk of Court Librada Buena.
“Instead, it let the error stand and even acted as if it owned the entire subject properties
when it executed the letters-offer to the DAR.
Clearly, Caltex was dishonest with its dealings over the subject properties,” it added.
Since the certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) to the agrarian reform beneficiaries could no longer be canceled, the SC said Caltex should pay the Medina siblings the market value of the land, plus interest and damages.
It noted the Medinas’ contributory negligence in losing their land, because Caltex sent several letters seeking to settle the partition of the properties when the agrarian reform proceedings were underway.
Caltex had to compensate Calilung too, because he bought the property for P3.5 million in exchange for a quitclaim in favor of Luisa. Calilung only found out that Caltex had sold the land to DAR when he tried to register the deed in June 1995.
But, the SC rejected Calilung’s claim for P745.91 million in lucro cesante (unrealized profits). While he was entitled to just compensation, the SC did not find reason to award him damages too.
It said he “ought to have known the true nature and status of the subject properties” since he married into the Medina family, and he could also have easily checked public records.