Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-64693 April 27, 1984


Manuel A. Concordia for petitioner.

Nicasio Ocampo for himself and on behalf of his correspondents.


ESCOLIN, J.:+.wph!1

"Ex pacto illicito non oritur actio" [No action arises out of an illicit bargain] is the tune-honored maxim that must be applied to the parties in the case at bar. Having entered into an illegal contract, neither can seek relief from the courts, and each must bear the consequences of his acts.

The factual background of this case is undisputed.

Sometime in 1966, the spouses Nicasio M. Ocampo and Francisca Garcia, herein private respondents, purchased in installment from the Delta Motor Sales Corporation five (5) Toyota Corona Standard cars to be used as taxicabs. Since they had no franchise to operate taxicabs, they contracted with petitioner Lita Enterprises, Inc., through its representative, Manuel Concordia, for the use of the latter's certificate of public convenience in consideration of an initial payment of P1,000.00 and a monthly rental of P200.00 per taxicab unit. To effectuate Id agreement, the aforesaid cars were registered in the name of petitioner Lita Enterprises, Inc, Possession, however, remained with tile spouses Ocampo who operated and maintained the same under the name Acme Taxi, petitioner's trade name.

About a year later, on March 18, 1967, one of said taxicabs driven by their employee, Emeterio Martin, collided with a motorcycle whose driver, one Florante Galvez, died from the head injuries sustained therefrom. A criminal case was eventually filed against the driver Emeterio Martin, while a civil case for damages was instituted by Rosita Sebastian Vda. de Galvez, heir of the victim, against Lita Enterprises, Inc., as registered owner of the taxicab in the latter case, Civil Case No. 72067 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, petitioner Lita Enterprises, Inc. was adjudged liable for damages in the amount of P25,000.00 and P7,000.00 for attorney's fees.

This decision having become final, a writ of execution was issued. One of the vehicles of respondent spouses with Engine No. 2R-914472 was levied upon and sold at public auction for 12,150.00 to one Sonnie Cortez, the highest bidder. Another car with Engine No. 2R-915036 was likewise levied upon and sold at public auction for P8,000.00 to a certain Mr. Lopez.

Thereafter, in March 1973, respondent Nicasio Ocampo decided to register his taxicabs in his name. He requested the manager of petitioner Lita Enterprises, Inc. to turn over the registration papers to him, but the latter allegedly refused. Hence, he and his wife filed a complaint against Lita Enterprises, Inc., Rosita Sebastian Vda. de Galvez, Visayan Surety & Insurance Co. and the Sheriff of Manila for reconveyance of motor vehicles with damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 90988 of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Trial on the merits ensued and on July 22, 1975, the said court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: t.hqw

WHEREFORE, the complaint is hereby dismissed as far as defendants Rosita Sebastian Vda. de Galvez, Visayan Surety & Insurance Company and the Sheriff of Manila are concerned.

Defendant Lita Enterprises, Inc., is ordered to transfer the registration certificate of the three Toyota cars not levied upon with Engine Nos. 2R-230026, 2R-688740 and 2R-585884 [Exhs. A, B, C and D] by executing a deed of conveyance in favor of the plaintiff.

Plaintiff is, however, ordered to pay Lita Enterprises, Inc., the rentals in arrears for the certificate of convenience from March 1973 up to May 1973 at the rate of P200 a month per unit for the three cars. (Annex A, Record on Appeal, p. 102-103, Rollo)

Petitioner Lita Enterprises, Inc. moved for reconsideration of the decision, but the same was denied by the court a quo on October 27, 1975. (p. 121, Ibid.)

On appeal by petitioner, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 59157-R, the Intermediate Appellate Court modified the decision by including as part of its dispositive portion another paragraph, to wit: t.hqw

In the event the condition of the three Toyota rears will no longer serve the purpose of the deed of conveyance because of their deterioration, or because they are no longer serviceable, or because they are no longer available, then Lita Enterprises, Inc. is ordered to pay the plaintiffs their fair market value as of July 22, 1975. (Annex "D", p. 167, Rollo.)

Its first and second motions for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner came to Us, praying that: t.hqw

1. ...

2. ... after legal proceedings, decision be rendered or resolution be issued, reversing, annulling or amending the decision of public respondent so that:

(a) the additional paragraph added by the public respondent to the DECISION of the lower court (CFI) be deleted;

(b) that private respondents be declared liable to petitioner for whatever amount the latter has paid or was declared liable (in Civil Case No. 72067) of the Court of First Instance of Manila to Rosita Sebastian Vda. de Galvez, as heir of the victim Florante Galvez, who died as a result ot the gross negligence of private respondents' driver while driving one private respondents' taxicabs. (p. 39, Rollo.)

Unquestionably, the parties herein operated under an arrangement, comonly known as the "kabit system", whereby a person who has been granted a certificate of convenience allows another person who owns motors vehicles to operate under such franchise for a fee. A certificate of public convenience is a special privilege conferred by the government . Abuse of this privilege by the grantees thereof cannot be countenanced. The "kabit system" has been Identified as one of the root causes of the prevalence of graft and corruption in the government transportation offices. In the words of Chief Justice Makalintal, 1 "this is a pernicious system that cannot be too severely condemned. It constitutes an imposition upon the goo faith of the government.

Although not outrightly penalized as a criminal offense, the "kabit system" is invariably recognized as being contrary to public policy and, therefore, void and inexistent under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, It is a fundamental principle that the court will not aid either party to enforce an illegal contract, but will leave them both where it finds them. Upon this premise, it was flagrant error on the part of both the trial and appellate courts to have accorded the parties relief from their predicament. Article 1412 of the Civil Code denies them such aid. It provides:t.hqw

ART. 1412. if the act in which the unlawful or forbidden cause consists does not constitute a criminal offense, the following rules shall be observed;

(1) when the fault, is on the part of both contracting parties, neither may recover what he has given by virtue of the contract, or demand the performance of the other's undertaking.

The defect of inexistence of a contract is permanent and incurable, and cannot be cured by ratification or by prescription. As this Court said in Eugenio v. Perdido, 2 "the mere lapse of time cannot give efficacy to contracts that are null void."

The principle of in pari delicto is well known not only in this jurisdiction but also in the United States where common law prevails. Under American jurisdiction, the doctrine is stated thus: "The proposition is universal that no action arises, in equity or at law, from an illegal contract; no suit can be maintained for its specific performance, or to recover the property agreed to be sold or delivered, or damages for its property agreed to be sold or delivered, or damages for its violation. The rule has sometimes been laid down as though it was equally universal, that where the parties are in pari delicto, no affirmative relief of any kind will be given to one against the other." 3 Although certain exceptions to the rule are provided by law, We see no cogent reason why the full force of the rule should not be applied in the instant case.

WHEREFORE, all proceedings had in Civil Case No. 90988 entitled "Nicasio Ocampo and Francisca P. Garcia, Plaintiffs, versus Lita Enterprises, Inc., et al., Defendants" of the Court of First Instance of Manila and CA-G.R. No. 59157-R entitled "Nicasio Ocampo and Francisca P. Garica, Plaintiffs-Appellees, versus Lita Enterprises, Inc., Defendant-Appellant," of the Intermediate Appellate Court, as well as the decisions rendered therein are hereby annuleled and set aside. No costs.

SO ORDERED.1wph1.t

Feranando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr. and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.

Aquino, J., took no part.



1 Dizon v. Octavio, 51 O.G. 4059.

2 97 Phil. 41.

3 Pomeroy's Equity Jurisprudence, Vol. 3, 5th ed., p. 728.

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