GR No. L-28394, November 26, 1970
FACTS: The records show that on July 31, 1967, Pedro Gayon filed said complaint against the spouses Silvestre Gayon and Genoveva de Gayon, alleging substantially that, on October 1, 1952, said spouses executed a deed — copy of which was attached to the complaint, as Annex “A” — whereby they sold to Pedro Gelera, for the sum of P500.00, a parcel of unregistered land therein described, and located in the barrio of Cabubugan, municipality of Guimbal, province of Iloilo, including the improvements thereon, subject to redemption within five (5) years or not later than October 1, 1957; that said right of redemption had not been exercised by Silvestre Gayon, Genoveva de Gayon, or any of their heirs or successors, despite the expiration of the period therefor; that said Pedro Gelera and his wife Estelita Damaso had, by virtue of a deed of sale — copy of which was attached to the complaint, as Annex “B” — dated March 21, 1961, sold the aforementioned land to plaintiff Pedro Gayon for the sum of P614.00; that plaintiff had, since 1961, introduced thereon improvements worth P1,000; that he had, moreover, fully paid the taxes on said property up to 1967; and that Articles 1606 and 1616 of our Civil Code require a judicial decree for the consolidation of the title in and to a land acquired through a conditional sale, and, accordingly, praying that an order be issued in plaintiff’s favor for the consolidation of ownership in and to the aforementioned property. In her answer to the complaint, Mrs. Gayon alleged that her husband, Silvestre Gayon, died on January 6, 1954, long before the institution of this case; that Annex “A” to the complaint is fictitious, for the signature thereon purporting to be her signature is not hers; that neither she nor her deceased husband had ever executed “any document of whatever nature in plaintiff’s favor”; that the complaint is malicious and had embarrassed her and her children; that the heirs of Silvestre Gayon had to “employ the services of counsel for a fee of P500.00 and incurred expenses of at least P200.00”; and that being a brother of the deceased Silvestre Gayon, plaintiff “did not exert efforts for the amicable settlement of the case” before filing his complaint. She prayed, therefore, that the same be dismissed and that plaintiff be sentenced to pay damages.
ISSUE : Whether or not the contention of the Mr.Gayon that an earnest effort toward a compromise before the filing of the suit is tenable.
As regards plaintiff’s failure to seek a compromise, as an alleged obstacle to the present case, Art. 222 of our Civil Code provides: No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the same family unless it should appear that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that the same have failed, subject to the limitations in article 2035. It is noteworthy that the impediment arising from this provision applies to suits “filed or maintained between members of the same family.” This phrase, “members of the same family,” should, however, be construed in the light of Art. 217 of the same Code, pursuant to which:
Family relations shall include those:
(1) Between husband and wife;
(2) Between parent and child;
(3) Among other ascendants and their descendants;
(4) Among brothers and sisters.
Mrs. Gayon is plaintiff’s sister-in-law, whereas her children are his nephews and/or nieces. Inasmuch as none of them is included in the enumeration contained in said Art. 217 — which should be construed strictly, it being an exception to the general rule — and Silvestre Gayon must necessarily be excluded as party in the case at bar, it follows that the same does not come within the purview of Art. 222, and plaintiff’s failure to seek a compromise before filing the complaint does not bar the same.
WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and the case remanded to the lower court for the inclusion, as defendant or defendants therein, of the administrator or executor of the estate of Silvestre Gayon, if any, in lieu of the decedent, or, in the absence of such administrator or executor, of the heirs of the deceased Silvestre Gayon, and for further proceedings, not inconsistent with this decision, with the costs of this instance against defendant-appellee, Genoveva de Gayon. It is so ordered.