THIS CASE IS ABOUT A BASIC DOCTRINE IN CIVIL LAW: THAT A PURE OBLIGATION IS DEMANDABLE AT ONCE.

 

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION IN jabbulao.com under the category RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.

 

HONGKONG AND SHANGHAI BANKING CORP., LTD. STAFF RETIREMENT PLAN VS. SPOUSES BEINVENIDO AND EDITHA BROQUEZA (G.R. NO. 178610, 17 NOVEMBER 2010).

 

DOCTRINE:  PURE OBLIGATION IS IMMEDIATELY DEMANDABLE.

 

DIGEST:

 

FACTS:

 

XYZ WAS AN EMPLOYEE OF ABC INC. XYZ OBTAINED CAR LOAN. LATER, XYZ WAS TERMINATED BY ABC INC. ABC INC DEMANDED PAYMENT OF THE BALANCE OF THE CAR LOAN. XYZ SAID THE LOAN IS NOT YET MATURE BECAUSE IT IS TO BE PAID BY INSTALLMENT. ABC INC. FILED COLLECTION CASE AT MTC. MTC RULED  XYZ MUST PAY IMMEDIATELY THE BALANCE BECAUSE SHE CAN NO LONGER AVAIL OF THE INSTALLMENT-PAYMENT BENEFIT FOR EMPLOYEES OF ABC INC. ON APPEAL RTC AFFIRMED MTC DECISION. HOWEVER, C.A.  REVERSED RTC DECISION ON THE GROUND THAT THE LOANS HAVE NOT YET MATURED AND THUS ABC INC HAS NO CAUSE OF ACTION.

 

ISSUE:     

 

WHETHER THE BALANCE OF THE LOAN IS IMMEDIATELY DEMANDABLE.

 

RULING:

 

THE OBLIGATION TO PAY THE CAR LOAN IS A PURE OBLIGATION BECAUSE THE PROMISSORY NOTE DOES NOT SPECIFY A PERIOD. WHEN XYZ  CEASED BEING AN EMPLOYEE OF ABC INC, SHE CAN NO LONGER AVAIL OF THE   BENEFIT OF PAYMENT BY INSTALLMENT. THEREFORE, ABC INC CAN DEMAND IMMEDIATE PMENT.

 

The full ruling of the Supreme Court reads:

 

 

 

The Court’s Ruling 

                The petition is meritorious.  We agree with the rulings of the MeTC and the RTC. 

               

                The Promissory Notes uniformly provide:

PROMISSORY NOTE

P_____                                                                             Makati, M.M. ____ 19__

                FOR VALUE RECEIVED, I/WE _____ jointly and severally promise to pay to THE HSBC RETIREMENT PLAN (hereinafter called the “PLAN”) at its office in the Municipality of Makati, Metro Manila, on or before until fully paid the sum of PESOS ___ (P___) Philippine Currency without discount, with interest from date hereof at the rate of Six per cent (6%) per annum, payable monthly.

                I/WE agree that the PLAN may, upon written notice, increase the interest rate stipulated in this note at any time depending on prevailing conditions.

                I/WE hereby expressly consent to any extensions or renewals hereof for a portion or whole of the principal without notice to the other(s), and in such a case our liability shall remain joint and several.

                In case collection is made by or through an attorney, I/WE jointly and severally agree to pay ten percent (10%) of the amount due on this note (but in no case less than P200.00) as and for attorney’s fees in addition to expenses and costs of suit.

                In case of judicial execution, I/WE hereby jointly and severally waive our rights under the provisions of Rule 39, Section 12 of the Rules of Court.[1][15]

               

                In ruling for HSBCL-SRP, we apply the first paragraph of Article 1179 of the Civil Code:

                Art. 1179.  Every obligation whose performance does not depend upon a future or uncertain event, or upon a past event unknown to the parties, is demandable at once

                x x x. (Emphasis supplied.)

                We affirm the findings of the MeTC and the RTC that there is no date of payment indicated in the Promissory Notes.  The RTC is correct in ruling that since the Promissory Notes do not contain a period, HSBCL-SRP has the right to demand immediate payment.  Article 1179 of the Civil Code applies.  The spouses Broqueza’s obligation to pay HSBCL-SRP is a pure obligation.  The fact that HSBCL-SRP was content with the prior monthly check-off from Editha Broqueza’s salary is of no moment.  Once Editha Broqueza defaulted in her monthly payment, HSBCL-SRP made a demand to enforce a pure obligation.

                In their Answer, the spouses Broqueza admitted that prior to Editha Broqueza’s dismissal from HSBC in December 1993, she “religiously paid the loan amortizations, which HSBC collected through payroll check-off.”[2][16]  A definite amount is paid to HSBCL-SRP on a specific date. Editha Broqueza authorized HSBCL-SRP to make deductions from her payroll until her loans are fully paid.  Editha Broqueza, however, defaulted in her monthly loan payment due to her dismissal.  Despite the spouses Broqueza’s protestations, the payroll deduction is merely a convenient mode of payment and not the sole source of payment for the loans.  HSBCL-SRP never agreed that the loans will be paid only through salary deductions.  Neither did HSBCL-SRP agree that if Editha Broqueza ceases to be an employee of HSBC, her obligation to pay the loans will be suspended.  HSBCL-SRP can immediately demand payment of the loans at anytime because the obligation to pay has no period.  Moreover, the spouses Broqueza have already incurred in default in paying the monthly installments.

                Finally, the enforcement of a loan agreement involves “debtor-creditor relations founded on contract and does not in any way concern employee relations.  As such it should be enforced  through a separate civil action in the regular courts and not before the Labor Arbiter.”[3][17]

                WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition.  The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 62685 promulgated on 30 March 2006 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.  The decision of Branch 139 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City in Civil Case No. 00-787, as well as the decision of Branch 61 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City in Civil Case No. 52400 against the spouses Bienvenido and Editha Broqueza, are AFFIRMEDCosts against respondents.

          SO ORDERED.

                                      ANTONIO T. CARPIO

                                            Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

                           ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA            

          Associate Justice

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA                           ROBERTO A. ABAD             

         Associate Justice                                        Associate Justice            

 

 

 

 

         

                                           JOSE C. MENDOZA      

                                                Associate Justice                                                             

ATTESTATION

          I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

                                                     ANTONIO T. CARPIO

                                                                    Associate Justice

                              Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division  Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

                                                                   RENATO C. CORONA

                                                                          Chief Justice

                 


 


[1][15]          CA rollo, p. 59.

[2][16]          CA rollo, p. 50.

[3][17]          NDC Guthrie Plantations, Inc. v. NLRC, 414 Phil. 714, 726-727 (2001).  See also Nestlé        Philippines, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 85197, 18 March 1991, 195 SCRA 340.