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Jurisdiction over the issue

“Distinction between question of law and a question of fact”

Sps. Santos vs. Court of Appeals


337 SCRA 67, 74
Page 84

Facts:

Spouses Fortunato and Rosalinda Santos owned the house and lot consisting of 350 square
meters located at Better Living Subdivision, Parañaque, Metro Manila. The land together with the
house, was mortgaged with the Rural Bank of Salinas, Inc., to secure a loan of P150,000.00 maturing
on June 16, 1987.

Sometime in 1984, Rosalinda Santos met Carmen Caseda and they became good friends. They
even became kumadres when Carmen stood as wedding sponsor of Rosalinda’s nephew.

On June 16, 1984, the bank sent Rosalinda a letter demanding payment of unpaid interest and
other charges. Since the Santos couple had no funds, Rosalinda offered to sell the house and lot to
Carmen. After inspecting the real property, Carmen and her husband agreed. Included in the
agreement is for the Caseda spouses to pay the cash price, the balance of the mortgage with the rural
bank, estate taxes, and the water and electric bills. The Casedas gave an initial instalment and
immediately took possession of the property, which they then leased out. However, in 1987, the
Casedas suffered bankruptcy and failed to pay the remaining balance but paid the estate taxes for
1981-1984 under the name of Rosalinda.

In January 1989, seeing that the Casedas lacked the means to pay the remaining installments,
the Santoses repossessed the property.

In February 1989, Carmen Caseda sold her fishpond in Batangas. She then approached
petitioners and offered to pay the balance of the purchase price for the house and lot. The parties,
however, could not agree, and the deal could not push through because the Santoses wanted a higher
price.

On August 11, 1989, the Casedas filed Civil Case with the RTC of Makati, to have the Santoses
execute the final deed of conveyance over the property, or in default thereof, to reimburse the amount
they paid plus damages and cost of suit. The RTC decided in favor of the Santoses and declared the
agreement rescinded because the Casedas were short of the purchase price. Therefore, they cannot
demand specific performance.

On appeal, the CA reversed the decision because the rescission was not justified under the
circumstances and allowed the Caseda spouses a period of ninety days within which to pay the balance
of the agreed purchase price. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari contending that the CA has
no jurisdiction to hear and decide the appeal because it involves purely questions of law and run afoul
of Supreme Court Circular No. 290 (4) [c] which provides in part that, “If an appeal under Rule 41 is
taken from the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals and therein the appellant raises only
questions of law, the appeal shall be dismissed…”

Issue:

Whether or not the CA has jurisdiction to decide Casada’s appeal interposing purely questions
of law.

Ruling:

Yes, the CA has jurisdiction to decide the appeal as it did not involve purely questions of law.
In CIR vs. CA, 298 SCRA 83, 91 (1998), it was held that, “There is a question of law in a given
case when the doubt or difference arises as to how the law is on a certain set of facts, and there is a
question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of the alleged facts.”

In this case, the error submitted by respondents for consideration by the appellate court dealt
with the trial court's finding that herein petitioners got back the property in question because
respondents did not have the means to pay the installments and/or amortization of the loan. The
resolution of this question involved an evaluation of proof, and not only a consideration of the applicable
statutory and case laws. Clearly, the appeal did not involve pure questions of law, hence the Court of
Appeals had jurisdiction.