Sulo ng Bayan v. Araneta

Share this post!

SULO NG BAYAN INC., plaintiff-appellant,

G.R. No. L-31061
17 August 1976


On 26 April 1966, Sulo ng Bayan, Inc. filed an accion de revindicacion with the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Fifth Judicial District, Valenzuela, Bulacan, against Gregorio Araneta Inc. (GAI), Paradise Farms Inc., National Waterworks & Sewerage Authority (NAWASA), Hacienda Caretas Inc., and the Register of Deeds of Bulacan to recover the ownership and possession of a large tract of land in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, containing an area of 27,982,250 sq. ms., more or less, registered under the Torrens System in the name of GAI, et. al.’s predecessors-in-interest (who are members of the corporation). On 2 September 1966, GAI filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on the grounds that (1) the complaint states no cause of action; and (2) the cause of action, if any, is barred by prescription and laches. Paradise Farms, Inc. and Hacienda Caretas, Inc. filed motions to dismiss based on the same grounds. NAWASA did not file any motion to dismiss. However, it pleaded in its answer as special and affirmative defenses lack of cause of action by Sulo ng Bayan Inc. and the barring of such action by prescription and laches. On 24 January 1967, the trial court issued an Order dismissing the (amended) complaint. On 14 February 1967, Sulo ng Bayan filed a motion to reconsider the Order of dismissal, arguing among others that the complaint states a sufficient cause of action because the subject matter of the controversy in one of common interest to the members of the corporation who are so numerous that the present complaint should be treated as a class suit. The motion was denied by the trial court in its Order dated 22 February 1967. Sulo ng Bayan appealed to the Court of Appeals. On 3 September 1969, the Court of Appeals, upon finding that no question of fact was involved in the appeal but only questions of law and jurisdiction, certified the case to the Supreme Court for resolution of the legal issues involved in the controversy.  


[1] Whether the corporation (non-stock) may institute an action in behalf of its individual members for the recovery of certain parcels of land allegedly owned by said members, among others.  

[2] Whether the complaint filed by the corporation in behalf of its members may be treated as a class suit.


[1] No. It is a doctrine well-established and obtains both at law and in equity that a corporation is a distinct legal entity to be considered as separate and apart from the individual stockholders or members who compose it, and is not affected by the personal rights, obligations and transactions of its stockholders or members. The property of the corporation is its property and not that of the stockholders, as owners, although they have equities in it. Properties registered in the name of the corporation are owned by it as an entity separate and distinct from its members. Conversely, a corporation ordinarily has no interest in the individual property of its stockholders unless transferred to the corporation, “even in the case of a one-man corporation.” The mere fact that one is president of a corporation does not render the property which he owns or possesses the property of the corporation, since the president, as individual, and the corporation are separate similarities. Similarly, stockholders in a corporation engaged in buying and dealing in real estate whose certificates of stock entitled the holder thereof to an allotment in the distribution of the land of the corporation upon surrender of their stock certificates were considered not to have such legal or equitable title or interest in the land, as would support a suit for title, especially against parties other than the corporation. It must be noted, however, that the juridical personality of the corporation, as separate and distinct from the persons composing it, is but a legal fiction introduced for the purpose of convenience and to subserve the ends of justice. This separate personality of the corporation may be disregarded, or the veil of corporate fiction pierced, in cases where it is used as a cloak or cover for fraud or illegality, or to work -an injustice, or where necessary to achieve equity. It has not been claimed that the members have assigned or transferred whatever rights they may have on the land in question to the corporation. Absent any showing of interest, therefore, a corporation, has no personality to bring an action for and in behalf of its stockholders or members for the purpose of recovering property which belongs to said stockholders or members in their personal capacities.  

[2] No. In order that a class suit may prosper, the following requisites must be present: (1) that the subject matter of the controversy is one of common or general interest to many persons; and (2) that the parties are so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the court. Here, there is only one party plaintiff, and the corporation does not even have an interest in the subject matter of the controversy, and cannot, therefore, represent its members or stockholders who claim to own in their individual capacities ownership of the said property. Moreover, a class suit does not lie in actions for the recovery of property where several persons claim partnership of their respective portions of the property, as each one could alleged and prove his respective right in a different way for each portion of the land, so that they cannot all be held to have identical title through acquisition/prescription.  

You can help law students and barristas by contributing to our collection. Please upload your case digests, reviewers or other relevant materials HERE.

For attribution or removal, contact us.

What's on your mind? Type it 👇😃