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G.R. No. 154415.

July 28, 2005


GASPAR CALACALA, BALTAZAR CALACALA, MELCHOR CALACALA,
SOLOMON
CALACALA,
FELICIDAD
CALACALA,
PETRONILA
CALACALA
and
SALOME
CALACALA, Petitioners,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Solicitor General,
and SHERIFF JUAN C. MARQUEZ,Respondents.
DECISION
GARCIA, J.:
In this appeal by way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of
the Rules of Court, petitioners urge us to annul and set aside the resolution
dated 31 October 2001 and the order dated 2 July 2002 of the Regional Trial
Court at Rosales, Pangasinan which respectively dismissed petitioners
complaint in Civil Case No. 1239-R and denied their motion for
reconsideration.
The material facts are not at all disputed:
The spouses Camilo Calacala and Conchita Calacala, predecessors-ininterest of the herein petitioners, are the registered owners of a parcel of land
situated at Barangay Balincanaway, Rosales, Pangasinan and covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-21204 of the Registry of Deeds of
Pangasinan.
To secure the provisional release of an accused in a criminal case then
pending before the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Pangasinan, the
spouses offered their aforementioned parcel of land as a property bond in
said case. For failure of the accused to appear at his scheduled arraignment
on 4 November 1981, the CFI ordered the bond forfeited in favor of the
government, and, following the bondmans failure to produce in court the
body of the accused, rendered judgment against the bond in the amount
of P3,500.00. Thereafter, the court issued a Writ of Execution 1 directing the
provincial sheriff to effect a levy on the subject parcel of land and to sell the
same at a public auction to satisfy the amount of the bond. In compliance
with the writ, the deputy provincial sheriff issued on 26 July 1982 a Notice of
Levy2 addressed to the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan who, on 19 August

1982, caused the annotation thereof on TCT No. T-21204 as Entry No.
83188.
Not long thereafter, a public auction of the subject parcel of land was held on
24 September 1982, at which respondent Republic submitted its bid
for P3,500, which is the amount of the judgment on the bond. Hence, on that
same day, a Sheriffs Certificate of Sale 3 was issued in favor of the Republic
as the winning bidder.
On 5 October 1982, the same Certificate of Sale was registered and
annotated on TCT No. T-21204 as Entry No. 83793, thereby giving the
spouses Calacala a period of one (1) year therefrom within which to redeem
their property. Unfortunately, they never did up to the time of their respective
deaths on 13 January 1988 and 8 January 1994.
Claiming ownership of the same land as legal heirs of the deceased
spouses, petitioners filed with the Regional Trial Court at Rosales,
Pangasinan a complaint4 for Quieting of Title and Cancellation of
Encumbrance on TCT No. T-21204 against respondents Republic and Sheriff
Juan C. Marquez. In their complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 1239-R and
raffled to Branch 53 of the court, petitioners prayed, inter alia, for the
cancellation of Entries No. 83188 and 83793 on TCT No. T-21204 or the
declaration of said entries as null and void.
To the complaint, respondent Republic interposed a Motion to
Dismiss5 grounded on the (1) complaints failure to state a cause of action
and (2) prescription of petitioners right to redeem.
In their Opposition,6 petitioners contend that when respondent Republic
moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action, it
thereby hypothetically admitted all the allegations therein, specifically the
averment that despite the lapse of nineteen (19) years, respondent did not
secure the necessary Certificate of Final Sale and Writ of Possession and
failed to execute an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership. Petitioners thus
submit that the Republics rights over the land in question had either
prescribed, been abandoned or waived. They add that by filing a motion to
dismiss, respondent Republic likewise admitted the allegation in the same
complaint that petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest have been in
continuous possession of the subject land and paying the realty taxes
thereon.

In the herein assailed resolution 7 dated 31 October 2001, the trial court
granted the Republics motion to dismiss and accordingly dismissed
petitioners complaint. Petitioners moved for a reconsideration but their
motion was denied by the same court in its equally challenged order 8 of 2
July 2002.

As we see it, the only question which commends itself for our resolution is
whether the trial courts dismissal of petitioners complaint for Quieting of
Title was proper. It thus behooves us to determine if, in the first place,
petitioners have a cause of action in their complaint.
We rule for respondent Republic.

Hence, petitioners present recourse, it being their contentions that I. THE INSTANT COMPLAINT FOR QUIETING OF TITLE AND
CANCELLATION OF ENCUMBRANCE ON TCT NO. T-21204, FILED
BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT, RGIONAL [sic] TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 53,
ROSALES, PANGASINAN WAS THE PROPER REMEDY.
II. THE COMPLAINT STATES SUFFICIENT CAUSE OF ACTION.
III. THE CASE FOR QUIETING OF TITLE HAS NOT PRESCRIBED.
IV. AND THE RESPONDENT REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES HAS NOT
PERFECTED ITS TITLE TO THE LAND IN QUESTION.
In the main, it is petitioners submission that their complaint a quo sufficiently
states a cause of action because they are still the owners of the subject
parcel of land despite their failure to redeem it within the 1-year redemption
period. They premise their argument on the Republics failure to secure the
Certificate of Final Sale, execute an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership
and obtain a writ of possession over the same property within ten (10) years
from the registration of the Certificate of Sale on 5 October 1982. Prescinding
therefrom, they thus argue that the Republics right over the property in
question has already prescribed or has been abandoned and waived, citing,
in support thereof, Article 1142 of the Civil Code. In short, it is petitioners
thesis that respondent Republic failed to perfect its title.
On the other hand, it is respondents posture that its rights and title as owner
of the same property are already perfected by the mere failure of petitioners
and/or their predecessors-in-interest to redeem the same within one (1) year
from the registration/annotation of the Sheriffs Certificate of Sale on TCT No.
T-21204, in accordance with Section 33, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure.

To begin with, it bears emphasis that an action for quieting of title is


essentially a common law remedy grounded on equity. As we held
in Baricuatro, Jr. vs. CA:9
Regarding the nature of the action filed before the trial court, quieting of title
is a common law remedy for the removal of any cloud upon or doubt or
uncertainty with respect to title to real property. Originating in equity
jurisprudence, its purpose is to secure x x x an adjudication that a claim of
title to or an interest in property, adverse to that of the complainant, is invalid,
so that the complainant and those claiming under him may be forever
afterward free from any danger of hostile claim. In an action for quieting of
title, the competent court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the
complainant and other claimants, x x x not only to place things in their
proper place, to make the one who has no rights to said immovable respect
and not disturb the other, but also for the benefit of both, so that he who has
the right would see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he
could afterwards without fear introduce the improvements he may desire, to
use, and even to abuse the property as he deems best xxx (Italics supplied).
Under Article 476 of the New Civil Code, the remedy may be availed of only
when, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or
proceeding, which appears valid but is, in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable or
unenforceable, a cloud is thereby casts on the complainants title to real
property or any interest therein. The codal provision reads:
Article 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest
therein, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or
proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but is in truth and in fact
invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said
title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title.
An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon title
to real property or any interest therein.

In turn, Article 477 of the same Code identifies the party who may bring an
action to quiet title, thus:
Article 477. The plaintiff must have legal or equitable title to, or interest in the
real property which is the subject-matter of the action. He need not be in
possession of said property.
It can thus be seen that for an action for quieting of title to prosper, the
plaintiff must first have a legal, or, at least, an equitable title on the real
property subject of the action and that the alleged cloud on his title must be
shown to be in fact invalid. So it is that in Robles, et al. vs. CA,10 we ruled:
It is essential for the plaintiff or complainant to have a legal title or an
equitable title to or interest in the real property which is the subject matter of
the action. Also, the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding that is being
alleged as a cloud on plaintiffs title must be shown to be in fact invalid or
inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.
Verily, for an action to quiet title to prosper, two (2) indispensable requisites
must concur, namely: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an
equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2)
the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on
his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima
facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.
Unfortunately, the foregoing requisites are wanting in this case.
To start with, petitioners base their claim of legal title not on the strength of
any independent writing in their favor but simply and solely on respondent
Republics failure to secure the Certificate of Final Sale, execute an Affidavit
of Consolidation of Ownership and obtain a writ of possession over the
property in dispute within ten (10) years from the registration of the
Certificate of Sale.
Petitioners reliance on the foregoing shortcomings or inactions of respondent
Republic cannot stand.
For one, it bears stressing that petitioners predecessors-in-interest lost
whatever right they had over land in question from the very moment they
failed to redeem it during the 1-year period of redemption. Certainly, the

Republics failure to execute the acts referred to by the petitioners within ten
(10) years from the registration of the Certificate of Sale cannot, in any way,
operate to restore whatever rights petitioners predecessors-in-interest had
over the same. For sure, petitioners have yet to cite any provision of law or
rule of jurisprudence, and we are not aware of any, to the effect that the
failure of a buyer in a foreclosure sale to secure a Certificate of Final Sale,
execute an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership and obtain a writ of
possession over the property thus acquired, within ten (10) years from the
registration of the Certificate of Sale will operate to bring ownership back to
him whose property has been previously foreclosed and sold. As correctly
observed by the trial court, the Republics failure to do anything within ten
(10) years or more following the registration of the Sheriffs Certificate of Sale
cannot give rise to a presumption that it has thereby waived or abandoned its
right of ownership or that it has prescribed, "for prescription does not lie
against the government", nor could it "be bound or estopped by the
negligence or mistakes of its officials and employees".
Quite the contrary, Section 33, 11 Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
explicitly provides that "[u]pon the expiration of the right of redemption, the
purchaser or redemptioner shall be substituted to and acquire all the rights,
title, interest and claim of the judgment obligor to the property as of the time
of the levy".
Concededly, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure was yet inexistent when the
facts of this case transpired. Even then, the application thereof to this case is
justified by our pronouncement in Lascano vs. Universal Steel Smelting Co.,
Inc., et al.,12 to wit:
Procedural laws are construed to be applicable to actions pending and
undetermined at the time of their passage, and are deemed retroactive in
that sense and to that extent. As a general rule, the retroactive application of
procedural laws cannot be considered violative of any personal rights
because no vested right may attach to nor arise therefrom.
Moreover, with the rule that the expiration of the 1-year redemption period
forecloses the obligors right to redeem and that the sale thereby becomes
absolute, the issuance thereafter of a final deed of sale is at best a mere
formality and mere confirmation of the title that is already vested in the
purchaser. As this Court has said inManuel vs. Philippine National Bank, et
al.:13

Note must be taken of the fact that under the Rules of Court the expiration of
that one-year period forecloses the owners right to redeem, thus making the
sheriffs sale absolute. The issuance thereafter of a final deed of sale
becomes a mere formality, an act merely confirmatory of the title that is
already in the purchaser and constituting official evidence of that fact.
(Emphasis supplied)
With the reality that petitioners are not holders of any legal title over the
property subject of this case and are bereft of any equitable claim thereon,
the very first requisite of an action to quiet title, i.e., that the plaintiff or
complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest in the real property
subject matter of the action, is miserably wanting in this case.
For another, and worse, petitioners never put in issue, as in fact they admit in
their pleadings, the validity of the Sheriffs Certificate of Sale duly registered
on 5 October 1982. On this score, the second requisite of an action to quiet
title, namely, that the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding alleged to
cast cloud on a plaintiff's title is in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima
facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy, is likewise absent herein.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed resolution
and order of the trial court AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 152766

June 20, 2003

LILIA SANCHEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. VICTORINO S. ALVARO as Presiding
Judge, RTC-Br. 120, Caloocan City, and VIRGINIA TERIA, Respondents.
DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J.:
This is a Special Civil Action for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court to annul and set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23
May 2001 as well as its Resolution dated 8 January 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No.
59182.
Lilia Sanchez, petitioner, constructed a house on a 76-square meter lot
owned by her parents-in-law. The lot was registered under TCT No. 263624
with the following co-owners: Eliseo Sanchez married to Celia Sanchez,
Marilyn Sanchez married to Nicanor Montalban, Lilian Sanchez, widow,
Nenita Sanchez, single, Susana Sanchez married to Fernando Ramos, and
Felipe Sanchez.1 On 20 February 1995, the lot was registered under TCT No.
289216 in the name of private respondent Virginia Teria by virtue of a Deed
of Absolute Sale supposed to have been executed on 23 June 1995 2 by all
six (6) co-owners in her favor.3 Petitioner claimed that she did not affix her
signature on the document and subsequently refused to vacate the lot, thus
prompting private respondent Virginia Teria to file an action for recovery of
possession of the aforesaid lot with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of
Caloocan City sometime in September 1995, subsequently raffled to Br. 49 of
that court.
On 12 February 1998, the MeTC-Br. 49 of Caloocan City ruled in favor of
private respondent declaring that the sale was valid only to the extent of 5/6
of the lot and the other 1/6 remaining as the property of petitioner, on account
of her signature in the Deed of Absolute Sale having been established as a
forgery.
Petitioner then elevated her appeal to the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan
City, subsequently assigned to Br. 120, which ordered the parties to file their
respective memoranda of appeal. Counsel for petitioner did not comply with

this order, nor even inform her of the developments in her case. Petitioner
not having filed any pleading with the RTC of Caloocan City, the trial court
affirmed the 27 July 1998 decision of the MeTC.
On 4 November 1998, the MeTC issued an order for the issuance of a writ of
execution in favor of private respondent Virginia Teria, buyer of the property.
On 4 November 1999 or a year later, a Notice to Vacate was served by the
sheriff upon petitioner who however refused to heed the Notice.
On 28 April 1999 private respondent started demolishing petitioners house
without any special permit of demolition from the court.
Due to the demolition of her house which continued until 24 May 1999
petitioner was forced to inhabit the portion of the premises that used to serve
as the houses toilet and laundry area.
On 29 October 1999 petitioner filed her Petition for Relief from Judgment with
the RTC on the ground that she was not bound by the inaction of her counsel
who failed to submit petitioners appeal memorandum. However the RTC
denied the Petition and the subsequent Motion for Reconsideration.
On 14 June 2000 petitioner filed her Petition for Certiorari with the Court of
Appeals alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the court a quo.
On 23 May 2001 the appellate court dismissed the petition for lack of
merit.1wphi1 On 18 June 2001 petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration
but the Court of Appeals denied the motion in its Resolution of 8 January
2002.
The only issue in this case is whether the Court of Appeals committed grave
abuse of discretion in dismissing the challenged case before it.
As a matter of policy, the original jurisdiction of this Court to issue the socalled extraordinary writs should generally be exercised relative to actions or
proceedings before the Court of Appeals or before constitutional or other
tribunals or agencies the acts of which for some reason or other are not
controllable by the Court of Appeals. Where the issuance of the extraordinary
writ is also within the competence of the Court of Appeals or the Regional
Trial Court, it is either of these courts that the specific action for the
procurement of the writ must be presented. However, this Court must be

convinced thoroughly that two (2) grounds exist before it gives due course to
a certiorari petition under Rule 65: (a) The tribunal, board or officer exercising
judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of its or his
jurisdiction; and (b) There is no appeal nor any plain, speedy and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law.
Despite the procedural lapses present in this case, we are giving due course
to this petition as there are matters that require immediate resolution on the
merits to effect substantial justice.
The Rules of Court should be liberally construed in order to promote their
object of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action
or proceeding.4
The rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to aid the
courts in the speedy, just and inexpensive determination of the cases before
them. Liberal construction of the rules and the pleadings is the controlling
principle to effect substantial justice. 5 Litigations should, as much as
possible, be decided on their merits and not on mere technicalities. 6
Verily, the negligence of petitioners counsel cannot be deemed as
negligence of petitioner herself in the case at bar. A notice to a lawyer who
appears to have been unconscionably irresponsible cannot be considered as
notice to his client.7 Under the peculiar circumstances of this case, it appears
from the records that counsel was negligent in not adequately protecting his
clients interest, which necessarily calls for a liberal construction of the Rules.
The rationale for this approach is explained in Ginete v. Court of Appeals - 8
This Court may suspend its own rules or exempt a particular case from its
operation where the appellate court failed to obtain jurisdiction over the case
owing to appellants failure to perfect an appeal. Hence, with more reason
would this Court suspend its own rules in cases where the appellate court
has already obtained jurisdiction over the appealed case. This prerogative to
relax procedural rules of the most mandatory character in terms of
compliance, such as the period to appeal has been invoked and granted in a
considerable number of cases x x x x
Let it be emphasized that the rules of procedure should be viewed as mere
tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid

application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather


than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. Even the Rules
of Court reflect this principle. The power to suspend or even disregard rules
can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court
itself has already declared to be final, as we are now constrained to do in the
instant case x x x x
The emerging trend in the rulings of this Court is to afford every party litigant
the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause,
free from the constraints of technicalities. Time and again, this Court has
consistently held that rules must not be applied rigidly so as not to override
substantial justice.
Aside from matters of life, liberty, honor or property which would warrant the
suspension of the Rules of the most mandatory character and an
examination and review by the appellate court of the lower courts findings of
fact, the other elements that should be considered are the following: (a) the
existence of special or compelling circumstances, (b) the merits of the case,
(c) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party
favored by the suspension of the rules, (d) a lack of any showing that the
review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (e) the other party will not
be unjustly prejudiced thereby.9
The suspension of the Rules is warranted in this case since the procedural
infirmity was not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of petitioner.
Besides, substantial justice requires that we go into the merits of the case to
resolve the present controversy that was brought about by the absence of
any partition agreement among the parties who were co-owners of the
subject lot in question. Hence, giving due course to the instant petition shall
put an end to the dispute on the property held in common.
In Peoples Homesite and Housing Corporation v. Tiongco 10 we held:
There should be no dispute regarding the doctrine that normally notice to
counsel is notice to parties, and that such doctrine has beneficent effects
upon the prompt dispensation of justice. Its application to a given case,
however, should be looked into and adopted, according to the surrounding
circumstances; otherwise, in the courts desire to make a short-cut of the
proceedings, it might foster, wittingly or unwittingly, dangerous collusions to
the detriment of justice. It would then be easy for one lawyer to sell ones

rights down the river, by just alleging that he just forgot every process of the
court affecting his clients, because he was so busy. Under this circumstance,
one should not insist that a notice to such irresponsible lawyer is also a
notice to his clients.

Before the partition of a land or thing held in common, no individual or coowner can claim title to any definite portion thereof. All that the co-owner has
is an ideal or abstract quota or proportionate share in the entire land or
thing.17

Thus, we now look into the merits of the petition.

Article 493 of the Civil Code gives the owner of an undivided interest in the
property the right to freely sell and dispose of it, i.e., his undivided interest.
He may validly lease his undivided interest to a third party independently of
the other co-owners.18 But he has no right to sell or alienate a concrete,
specific or determinate part of the thing owned in common because his right
over the thing is represented by a quota or ideal portion without any physical
adjudication.19

This case overlooks a basic yet significant principle of civil law: coownership. Throughout the proceedings from the MeTC to the Court of
Appeals, the notion of co-ownership11 was not sufficiently dealt with. We
attempt to address this controversy in the interest of substantial justice.
Certiorari should therefore be granted to cure this grave abuse of discretion.
Sanchez Roman defines co-ownership as "the right of common dominion
which two or more persons have in a spiritual part of a thing, not materially or
physically divided.12 Manresa defines it as the "manifestation of the private
right of ownership, which instead of being exercised by the owner in an
exclusive manner over the things subject to it, is exercised by two or more
owners and the undivided thing or right to which it refers is one and the
same."13
The characteristics of co-ownership are: (a) plurality of subjects, who are the
co-owners, (b) unity of or material indivision, which means that there is a
single object which is not materially divided, and which is the element which
binds the subjects, and, (c) the recognition of ideal shares, which determines
the rights and obligations of the co-owners.14
In co-ownership, the relationship of such co-owner to the other co-owners is
fiduciary in character and attribute. Whether established by law or by
agreement of the co-owners, the property or thing held pro-indiviso is
impressed with a fiducial nature so that each co-owner becomes a trustee for
the benefit of his co-owners and he may not do any act prejudicial to the
interest of his co-owners.15
Thus, the legal effect of an agreement to preserve the properties in coownership is to create an express trust among the heirs as co-owners of the
properties. Co-ownership is a form of trust and every co-owner is a trustee
for the others.16

Although assigned an aliquot but abstract part of the property, the metes and
bounds of petitioners lot has not been designated. As she was not a party to
the Deed of Absolute Sale voluntarily entered into by the other co-owners,
her right to 1/6 of the property must be respected. Partition needs to be
effected to protect her right to her definite share and determine the
boundaries of her property. Such partition must be done without prejudice to
the rights of private respondent Virginia Teria as buyer of the 5/6 portion of
the lot under dispute.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals dated 23 May 2001 as well as its Resolution dated 8 January 2002
in CA-G.R. SP No. 59182 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. A survey of the
questioned lot with TCT No. 289216 (formerly TCT No. 263624) by a duly
licensed geodetic engineer and the PARTITION of the aforesaid lot are
ORDERED.
Let the records of this case be REMANDED to MeTC-Br. 49, Caloocan City
to effect the aforementioned survey and partition, as well as segregate the
1/6 portion appertaining to petitioner Lilia Sanchez.
The Deed of Absolute Sale by the other co-owners to Virginia Teria shall be
RESPECTED insofar as the other undivided 5/6 portion of the property is
concerned.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 120864

October 8, 2003

MANUEL T. DE GUIA, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS (Former Sixth Division) and JOSE B. ABEJO,
represented by his Attorney-in-Fact, Hermenegilda AbejoRivera, respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
1

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the 22 August 1994


Decision2 as well as the 27 June 1995 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 39875. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision 3 of the
Regional Trial Court ("trial court") of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 16, in Civil
Case No. 8796-M. The trial courts Decision ordered petitioner Manuel T. De
Guia ("DE GUIA") to turn over to private respondent Jose B. Abejo ("ABEJO")
possession of the one half () undivided portion of a fishpond and to pay
actual damages and attorneys fees.
The Antecedents
On 12 May 1986, ABEJO4 instituted an action for recovery of possession with
damages against DE GUIA. In his complaint, ABEJO alleged that he is the
owner of the undivided portion of a property used as a fishpond
("FISHPOND") situated in Meycauayan, Bulacan and covered by TCT No. T6358 of the Bulacan Register of Deeds. He alleged ownership over
approximately 39,611 square meters out of the FISHPONDs total area of
79,220 square meters. ABEJO further averred that DE GUIA continues to
possess and use the FISHPOND without any contract and without paying
rent to ABEJOs damage and prejudice. ABEJO also complained that DE
GUIA refuses to surrender ownership and possession of the FISHPOND
despite repeated demands to do so after DE GUIAs sublease contract over
the FISHPOND had expired. ABEJO asked the trial court to order DE GUIA
to vacate an approximate area of 39,611 square meters as well as pay
damages.

DE GUIA, a lawyer by profession, appeared on his own behalf. He filed his


Answer on 12 January 1990 after the Court of Appeals resolved several
issues concerning the validity of the service of summons on him. In his
Answer, DE GUIA alleged that the complaint does not state a cause of action
and has prescribed. He claimed that the FISHPOND was originally owned by
Maxima Termulo who died intestate with Primitiva Lejano as her only heir.
According to him, ABEJO is not the owner of the entire FISHPOND but the
heirs of Primitiva Lejano who authorized him to possess the entire
FISHPOND. He assailed ABEJOs ownership of the undivided portion of
the FISHPOND as void and claimed ownership over an undivided half portion
of the FISHPOND for himself. DE GUIA sought payment of damages and
reimbursement for the improvements he introduced as a builder in good faith.
The trial court set the pre-trial and required the parties to file their pre-trial
briefs. ABEJO filed his pre-trial brief 5on 05 April 1990. DE GUIA filed his pretrial brief6 on 31 July 1990. DE GUIAs pre-trial brief raised as the only issue
in the case the amount of damages in the form of rent that DE GUIA should
pay ABEJO. DE GUIA also submitted an Offer to Compromise, 7 offering to
settle ABEJOs claim for P300,000 and to lease the entire FISHPOND to any
party of ABEJOs choice.
Hearing commenced on 30 July 1990. ABEJO rested his case on 4
December 1990. DE GUIAs last witness completed her testimony on 22
November 1991. The trial court summarized the evidence presented by
ABEJO and DE GUIA as follows:
Evidence adduced from plaintiff shows that there are two parcels of land
covering a fishpond with a total area of 79,220 sq. m. more or less, situated
at Ubihan, Meycauayan, Bulacan and covered by TCT No. 6358 equally
owned by Primitiva Lejano and Lorenza Araniego married to Juan Abejo
(Exh. A). The one half undivided portion owned by Lorenza Araniego
corresponding to 39,611 sq. m. was later purchased by plaintiff from his
father Teofilo Abejo (Exh. B), the only heir of the original owner on November
22, 1983. Prior to this sale on July 30, 1974 the whole fishpond (79,220) was
the subject of a "Salin ng Pamumusisyong ng Palaisdaan" executed by the
heirs of Primitiva Lejano with the knowledge and consent of Teofilo A. Abejo
in favor of one Aniano Victa and defendant. The contract provided that the
period of lease shall be until November 30, 1979. When the contract expired
and defendant failed to surrender the fishpond, written demands the last of
which was on November 27, 1983 were made for defendants to pay back

rental and to vacate the premises in question (Exh. D & E). Defendant
refused to deliver possession and also to pay the rentals due. In anticipation,
however, that defendant will vacate the fishpond, plaintiff, on December 21,
1983 entered into a two year "Kasunduan ng Buwisan ng Palaisdaan" with
Ruperto C. Villarico for a consideration of P50,000.00 (Exh. G). This contract,
despite its execution and even already notarized, had to be cancelled and
the amount of P50,000.00 returned by plaintiff to Villarico when the defendant
did not heed the demand to vacate the fishpond. For unpaid rental, actual as
well as moral and exemplary damages, plaintiff asks payment
of P450,000.00 and P20,000.00 attorneys fees.
On the other hand, defendants evidence tends to show that the entire
fishpond with an area of 79,200 sq. m. was leased to him by the heirs of
Primitiva Lejano. Subsequently, defendant became the absolute owner of
one half of the undivided area of the fishpond and he questioned plaintiffs
ownership of the other half as void and fraudulent. As to the area pertaining
to plaintiff, defendant claimed that he introduced improvements
worth P500,000 and being in good faith, he asked that he should be
reimbursed by plaintiff. In his pre-trial brief, however, defendant raised the
only issue which is the amount of damages plaintiff is entitled to in the form
of rental. Hence, the thrust of the testimonies of defendants witnesses
particularly Ben Ruben Camargo and Marta Fernando Pea was the amount
of rental of fishponds in the same locality as the fishpond in question at a
given time. However, the documentary evidence (Exhs. 1 and 2) in support of
their testimony were not offered as evidence.8
The trial court rendered its decision on 8 June 1992, disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor
of the plaintiff and against the defendant and hereby orders that:
1. Defendant shall turn over possession to plaintiff one half undivided
portion of the 79,200 sq. m. fishpond who shall enjoy the benefits
and fruits in equal share with the defendant effective immediately
until such time that partition of the property is effected;
2. Defendant shall pay to plaintiff the amount of P262,500.00 by way
of actual or compensatory damages;

3 Defendant shall pay plaintiff P20,000.00 as and for attorneys fees;


and
4. To pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.9
Aggrieved, DE GUIA went to the Court of Appeals insisting the trial court
erred in ordering him to vacate and surrender possession of the undivided
portion of the FISHPOND and to pay actual damages and attorneys fees.
The Court of Appeals found DE GUIAs appeal without merit and affirmed the
trial courts decision. Upon DE GUIAs motion for reconsideration, the
appellate court reduced the compensatory damages from P262,500
toP212,500.
Hence, the instant petition.
The undisputed facts as found by the trial court and adopted in toto by the
Court of Appeals are restated as follows:
1. The subject of the dispute are two undivided parcels of land used
as a fishpond situated in Barrio Ubihan, Meycauayan, Bulacan,
originally co-owned by Primitiva Lejano and Lorenza Araniego
married to Juan Abejo.
2. The FISHPOND is registered under the names of Primitiva Lejano
and Lorenza Araniego under TCT No. 6358 of the Bulacan Register
of Deeds as follows:
PRIMITIVA LEJANO, Filipina, of legal age, single - share; and
LORENZA ARANIEGO, Filipina, of legal age, married to Juan Abejo,
share, --3. The FISHPOND has a total land area of approximately 79,220
square meters. ABEJO is seeking to recover possession of the
undivided portion of the FISHPOND containing 39,611 square
meters.
4. DE GUIA (along with a certain Aniano Victa) acquired possession
of the entire FISHPOND by virtue of a document captioned Salin ng

Pamumusisyong ng Palaisdaan ("Lease Contract") executed


between him and the heirs of Primitiva Lejano. The Lease Contract
was effective from 30 July 1974 up to 30 November 1979 for a
consideration of P100,000.
5. The Lease Contract was executed with the knowledge and
consent of Teofilo Abejo, sole heir of Lorenza Araniego Abejo. Teofilo
Abejo acquired Lorenza Araniego Abejos undivided share in the
FISHPOND by intestate succession.
6. Teofilo Abejo (now deceased) sold his undivided share in the
FISHPOND to his son, ABEJO, on 22 November 1983.
7. DE GUIA continues to possess the entire FISHPOND and to
derive income from the property despite the expiration of the Lease
Contract and several demands to vacate made by Teofilo Abejo and
by his successor-in-interest, ABEJO. The last demand letter was
dated 27 November 1983.
8. ABEJO filed his complaint for recovery of possession with
damages against DE GUIA on 12 May 1986.
9. DE GUIAs claim of ownership over the other undivided portion
of the FISHPOND has not been finally adjudicated for or against him.
DE GUIA offers the verified Complaint for Annulment of Real Estate
Mortgage and Contract of Lease with Preliminary Injunction signed by the
heirs of Primitiva Lejano as proof of his ownership of the other undivided half
portion of the FISHPOND. Records show that DE GUIA filed the complaint
for himself and as attorney-in fact of the heirs of Primitiva Lejano ("Lejano
Heirs")10 against Spouses Teofilo Morte and Angelina Villarico, Spouses
Ruperto and Milagros Villarico, et al. ("Defendants"). The case was raffled to
Branch 12 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, and docketed as
Civil Case. No. 86-27-M. The complaint alleged that DE GUIA acquired his
undivided share in the FISHPOND from the Lejano Heirs in February 1986.
DE GUIA and the Lejano Heirs sought to annul the Kasulatan
ng Sanglaan and Kasulatan ng Pagbubuwis ng Palaisdaan, executed on 10
November 1979 by Primitiva Lejano in favor of the Defendants. DE GUIA and
the Lejano Heirs claimed that Primitiva Lejano signed these documents
under duress and without consideration.

The trial court rendered judgment 11 on 28 February 1992 against DE GUIA


and the Lejano Heirs as follows:
WHEREFORE, the evidence having shown the plaintiffs, particularly Manuel
De Guia, their successor-in-interest, not entitled upon the facts and the law to
the relief prayed for in the amended complaint, the same is hereby
DISMISSED with costs against said plaintiff. Instead, as prayed for by
defendants, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Declaring the "Kasulatan ng Sanglaan" (Exhs. "A" & "1") dated
November 10, 1979, and the "Kasulatan ng Pagbubuwis ng
Palaisdaan" (Exhs. "C" &"3") also dated November 10, 1979, as valid
for all legal intents and purposes;
2. Ordering the Ex-Officio Sheriff, RTC, Bulacan, to proceed with
the extrajudicial foreclosure of the subject real estate mortgage; and
3. Ordering plaintiffs to pay defendants attorneys fees in the
amount of P20,000.00.
SO ORDERED.12
The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in a Decision dated 30 August
2002 in CA-G.R. CV No. 38031. The Court of Appeals found the claim of
force and intimidation in the execution of the documents as highly improbable
since Primitiva Lejanos son, Renato Davis, witnessed the signing of the
documents and found nothing irregular at the time. The appellate court also
held that assuming Defendants threatened DE GUIA and the Lejano Heirs
with immediate foreclosure, Defendants were merely exercising their
legitimate right of foreclosing the mortgaged property for non-payment of the
loan. In addition, Primitiva Lejanos lawyer and notary public, Atty. Mamerto
Abao, testified that the parties appeared before him to affirm the contents of
the documents. He also stated that he was present when Defendants paid
Primitiva Lejano Davis and her son Renato. As of this writing, DE GUIA has a
pending motion for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals. In the event
the Court of Appeals Decision attains finality, DE GUIA may lose whatever
right he claims over the FISHPOND.
The Trial Courts Ruling

The trial court ruled that ABEJO has the right to demand that DE GUIA
vacate and surrender an area equivalent to ABEJOs undivided share in
the FISHPOND. The trial court explained that DE GUIAs sublease contract
expired in 1979 and ABEJO acquired his fathers share in 1983. However,
the trial court pointed out that ABEJO failed to present evidence of the
judicial or extra-judicial partition of the FISHPOND. The identification of the
specific area pertaining to ABEJO and his co-owner is vital in an action to
recover possession of real property. Nevertheless, the trial court declared
that pending partition, it is only just that DE GUIA pay ABEJO a reasonable
amount as rental for the use of ABEJOs share in the FISHPOND. DE GUIA
admitted this obligation when he raised as sole issue in his pre-trial brief how
much rent he should pay ABEJO. DE GUIA even proposed P300,000 as the
reasonable amount but under certain conditions which ABEJO found
unacceptable.
In determining the reasonable rent due to ABEJO, the trial court considered
the Lease Contract between ABEJO and a certain Ruperto C. Villarico which
provided for a yearly rent of P25,000 for undivided portion of the
FISHPOND. The trial court declared that the total amount of rent due
is P212,500, computed from November 1983 when ABEJO became a coowner of the FISHPOND up to 199113 or a period of eight and one half years.
The trial court further ordered DE GUIA to pay an additional P50,000 which
represents the amount ABEJO returned to Ruperto C. Villarico when they
cancelled the Lease Contract between them due to DE GUIAs refusal to
vacate the FISHPOND.
Lastly, the trial court ruled that pending partition, ABEJO as co-owner has the
right to possess the FISHPOND and to receive an equal share in the benefits
from the FISHPOND effective immediately. Until there is a partition, and while
there is no contract of lease, the Civil Code provisions on co-ownership shall
govern the rights of the parties.
The Court of Appeals Ruling
The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision. The Court of Appeals
debunked DE GUIAs claim that partition and not recovery of possession was
the proper remedy under the circumstances. The Court of Appeals pointed
out that DE GUIAs failure to respect ABEJOs right over his undivided
share in the FISHPOND justifies the action for recovery of possession. The
trial courts decision effectively enforces ABEJOs right over the property

which DE GUIA violated by possession and use without paying


compensation. According to the Court of Appeals, partition would constitute a
mechanical aspect of the decision just like accounting when necessary.
The Court of Appeals likewise rejected DE GUIAs claim that the award of
compensatory damages of P242,000, computed based on the rent stipulated
in the Lease Contract between ABEJO and Ruperto C. Villarico, is grossly
exorbitant. The Court of Appeals clarified that the amount the trial court
awarded was P262,500 and not P242,000 as erroneously alleged by DE
GUIA. The Court of Appeals pointed out that the notarized Lease Contract
between ABEJO and Ruperto C. Villarico carries more evidentiary weight
than the testimonies of DE GUIAs witnesses, Ben Ruben Camargo and
Marta Fernando Pea. The Court of Appeals also upheld the award of
attorneys fees since the parties could have avoided litigation had DE GUIA
heeded the justifiable demands of ABEJO.
On motion for reconsideration, the Court of Appeals reduced the
compensatory damages from P262,500 toP212,500. The Court of Appeals
explained that the trial court correctly computed the total amount of rent due
atP212,500. The trial court erred, however, in adding the sum of P50,000
representing the rent for 1983 and 1984 which ABEJO returned to Ruperto C.
Villarico. The appellate court clarified that the sum of P212,500 was arrived
at by multiplying the rent of P25,000 by 8 years. The 8 year period
already included the two months rent received from and then subsequently
reimbursed to Ruperto C. Villarico.
The Issues
DE GUIA raises the following issues in his Memorandum:
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURTS
DECISION DENYING PETITIONERS PLEA FOR DISMISSAL OF THE
COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CAUSE OF ACTION;
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURTS
ORDER DIRECTING PETITIONER TO TURN OVER THE ONE-HALF
UNDIVIDED PORTION OF THE FISHPOND WHICH IS STILL UNDER A
STATE OF CO-OWNERSHIP;

III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING, IN PART, THE


AWARD OF ACTUAL OR COMPENSATORY DAMAGES DESPITE LACK
OF CREDIBLE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE SAME;
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE AWARD OF
ATTORNEYS FEES IN PRIVATE RESPONDENTS FAVOR. 14
In essence, this Court is asked to resolve: (1) whether an action for recovery
of possession and turn-over of the undivided portion of a common property
is proper before partition; and (2) whether there is sufficient basis for the
award of compensatory damages and attorneys fees.
The Courts Ruling
The petition is partly meritorious.
First and Second Issues: Cause of Action and Turn-Over of Possession
DE GUIA contends that a co-owner cannot claim a definite portion from the
property owned in common until there is a partition. DE GUIA argues that
ABEJO should have filed an action for partition instead of recovery of
possession since the court cannot implement any decision in the latter case
without first a partition. DE GUIA contends that an action for recovery of
possession cannot prosper when the property subject of the action is part of
an undivided, co-owned property. The procedural mode adopted by ABEJO,
which is recovery of possession, makes enforcement difficult if not
impossible since there is still no partition of the subject property.
Under Article 484 of the Civil Code, "there is co-ownership whenever the
ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons." A coowner of an undivided parcel of land is an "owner of the whole, and over the
whole he exercises the right of dominion, but he is at the same time the
owner of a portion which is truly abstract." 15 On the other hand, there is no
co-ownership when the different portions owned by different people are
already concretely determined and separately identifiable, even if not yet
technically described.16
Article 487 of the Civil Code provides, "[a]ny one of the co-owners may bring
an action in ejectment." This article covers all kinds of actions for the
recovery of possession. Article 487 includes forcible entry and unlawful

detainer (accion interdictal), recovery of possession (accion publiciana), and


recovery of ownership (accion de reivindicacion). The summary actions of
forcible entry and unlawful detainer seek the recovery of physical possession
only. These actions are brought before municipal trial courts within one year
from dispossession. However, accion publiciana, which is a plenary action for
recovery of the right to possess, falls under the jurisdiction of the proper
regional trial court when the dispossession has lasted for more than one
year. Accion de reivindicacion, which seeks the recovery of ownership, also
falls under the jurisdiction of the proper regional trial court. 171awphi1.nt
Any co-owner may file an action under Article 487 not only against a
third person, but also against another co-owner who takes exclusive
possession and asserts exclusive ownership of the property.18 In the
latter case, however, the only purpose of the action is to obtain recognition of
the co-ownership. The plaintiff cannot seek exclusion of the defendant from
the property because as co-owner he has a right of possession. The plaintiff
cannot recover any material or determinate part of the property.19
In Hermogena G. Engreso with Spouse Jose Engreso v. Nestoria De La
Cruz and Herminio De La Cruz,20we reiterated the rule that a co-owner
cannot recover a material or determinate part of a common property prior to
partition as follows:
It is a basic principle in civil law that before a property owned in common is
actually partitioned, all that the co-owner has is an ideal or abstract quota or
proportionate share in the entire property. A co-owner has no right to demand
a concrete, specific or determinate part of the thing owned in common
because until division is effected his right over the thing is represented only
by an ideal portion.
As such, the only effect of an action brought by a co-owner against a coowner will be to obtain recognition of the co-ownership; the defendant cannot
be excluded from a specific portion of the property because as a co-owner he
has a right to possess and the plaintiff cannot recover any material or
determinate part of the property. Thus, the courts a quo erred when they
ordered the delivery of one-half () of the building in favor of private
respondent.
Indisputably, DE GUIA has been in exclusive possession of the entire
FISHPOND since July 1974. Initially, DE GUIA disputed ABEJOs claim of

ownership over the undivided portion of the FISHPOND. Subsequently, he


implicitly recognized ABEJOs undivided share by offering to settle the
case for P300,000 and to vacate the property. During the trial proper, neither
DE GUIA nor ABEJO asserted or manifested a claim of absolute and
exclusive ownership over the entire FISHPOND.1a\^/phi1.net Before this
Court, DE GUIA limits the issues to the propriety of bringing an action for
recovery of possession and the recovery of compensatory damages.
Following the inherent and peculiar features of co-ownership, while ABEJO
and DE GUIA have equal shares in the FISHPOND quantitatively speaking,
they have the same right in a qualitative sense as co-owners. Simply stated,
ABEJO and DE GUIA are owners of the whole and over the whole, they
exercise the right of dominion. However, they are at the same time individual
owners of a portion, which is truly abstract because until there is partition,
such portion remains indeterminate or unidentified. 21 As co-owners, ABEJO
and DE GUIA may jointly exercise the right of dominion over the entire
FISHPOND until they partition the FISHPOND by identifying or segregating
their respective portions.
Since a co-ownership subsists between ABEJO and DE GUIA, judicial or
extra-judicial partition is the proper recourse. An action to demand partition is
imprescriptible and not subject to laches. 22 Each co-owner may demand at
any time the partition of the common property unless a co-owner has
repudiated the co-ownership under certain conditions. 23 Neither ABEJO nor
DE GUIA has repudiated the co-ownership under the conditions set by law.
To recapitulate, we rule that a co-owner may file an action for recovery of
possession against a co-owner who takes exclusive possession of the entire
co-owned property. However, the only effect of such action is a recognition of
the co-ownership. The courts cannot proceed with the actual partitioning of
the co-owned property. Thus, judicial or extra-judicial partition is necessary to
effect physical division of the FISHPOND between ABEJO and DE GUIA. An
action for partition is also the proper forum for accounting the profits received
by DE GUIA from the FISHPOND. However, as a necessary consequence of
such recognition, ABEJO shall exercise an equal right to possess, use and
enjoy the entire FISHPOND.
DE GUIA further claims that the trial and appellate courts erred when they
ordered the recovery of rent when the exact identity of the portion in question

had not yet been clearly defined and delineated. According to DE GUIA, an
order to pay damages in the form of rent is premature before partition.
We disagree.
The right of enjoyment by each co-owner is limited by a similar right of the
other co-owners. A co-owner cannot devote common property to his
exclusive use to the prejudice of the co-ownership. 24 Hence, if the subject is
a residential house, all the co-owners may live there with their respective
families to the extent possible. However, if one co-owner alone occupies the
entire house without opposition from the other co-owners, and there is no
lease agreement, the other co-owners cannot demand the payment of
rent. Conversely, if there is an agreement to lease the house, the coowners can demand rent from the co-owner who dwells in the house.
The co-owners can either exercise an equal right to live in the house, or
agree to lease it. If they fail to exercise any of these options, they must bear
the consequences. It would be unjust to require the co-owner to pay rent
after the co-owners by their silence have allowed him to use the property.25
In case the co-owners agree to lease a building owned in common, a coowner cannot retain it for his use without paying the proper rent. 26 Moreover,
where part of the property is occupied exclusively by some co-owners for the
exploitation of an industry, the other co-owners become co-participants in the
accessions of the property and should share in its net profits. 27
The Lejano Heirs and Teofilo Abejo agreed to lease the entire FISHPOND to
DE GUIA. After DE GUIAs lease expired in 1979, he could no longer use the
entire FISHPOND without paying rent. To allow DE GUIA to continue using
the entire FISHPOND without paying rent would prejudice ABEJOs right to
receive rent, which would have accrued to his share in the FISHPOND had
it been leased to others.28 Since ABEJO acquired his undivided share in
the FISHPOND on 22 November 1983, DE GUIA should pay ABEJO
reasonable rent for his possession and use of ABEJOs portion beginning
from that date. The compensatory damages of P25,000 per year awarded to
ABEJO is the fair rental value or the reasonable compensation for the use
and occupation of the leased property,29 considering the circumstances at
that time. DE GUIA shall continue to pay ABEJO a yearly rent ofP25,000
corresponding to ABEJOs undivided share in the FISHPOND. However,
ABEJO has the option either to exercise an equal right to occupy the

FISHPOND, or to file a new petition before the trial court to fix a new rental
rate in view of changed circumstances in the last 20 years.1a\^/phi1.net
ABEJO made an extrajudicial demand on DE GUIA by sending the 27
November 1983 demand letter. Thus, the rent in arrears should earn interest
at 6% per annum from 27 November 1983 until finality of this decision
pursuant to Article 220930 of the Civil Code. Thereafter, the interest rate is
12% per annum from finality of this decision until full payment. 31
Third Issue: Lack of Credible Evidence to Support Award of Compensatory
Damages

FISHPOND. Indeed, being a question of fact, it is for the trial and appellate
courts to decide and this Court will not disturb their findings unless clearly
baseless or irrational. The exception does not obtain in this case.
Fourth Issue: Attorneys Fees
The trial court did not err in imposing attorneys fees of P20,000. Attorneys
fees can be awarded in the cases enumerated in Article 2208 of the Civil
Code specifically:
xxx

DE GUIA contends the P212,500 in rent awarded to ABEJO is exorbitant. He


assails as doubtful and self-serving evidence the Lease Contract between
ABEJO and Ruperto C. Villarico that served as basis for the yearly rent
ofP25,000 for ABEJOs share in the FISHPOND.

(2) Where the defendants act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to
litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest;

DE GUIA says the trial and appellate courts should have given credence to
the testimonies of his witnesses, Ben Ruben Camargo ("Camargo") and
Marta Fernando Pea ("Pea") that rentals of fishponds in the same vicinity
are for much lesser considerations.

DE GUIA is a lawyer and he should have known that a co-owner could not
take exclusive possession of a common property. Although DE GUIA offered
to settle the case out of court, such offer was made under conditions not
acceptable to ABEJO. Certainly, ABEJO was still put to unnecessary
expense and trouble to protect his interest under paragraph (2), Article 2208
of the Civil Code.

This issue involves calibration of the whole evidence considering mainly the
credibility of witnesses. As a rule, a party may raise only questions of law in
an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The Supreme
Court is not duty-bound to analyze and weigh again the evidence considered
in the proceedings below.32 More so in the instant case, where the Court of
Appeals affirmed the factual findings of the trial court. 33
It is not true that the trial court disregarded the testimonies of Camargo and
Pea because DE GUIA failed to present documentary evidence to support
their testimonies. Actually, the trial and appellate courts found the testimonies
of Camargo and Pea unconvincing. Judges cannot be expected to rely on
the testimonies of every witness. In ascertaining the facts, they determine
who are credible and who are not. In doing so, they consider all the evidence
before them.34
We find no cogent reason to overturn the trial and appellate courts
evaluation of the witnesses testimonies. We likewise find reasonable
the P25,000 yearly compensation for ABEJOs undivided share in the

xxx

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 22 August 1994 and Resolution dated 27


June 1995 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 39875 is AFFIRMED
with respect to that portion ordering Manuel T. De Guia to pay Jose B. Abejo
compensatory damages of P212,500 and attorneys fees of P20,000, and
MODIFIED as follows:
1. The co-ownership between Manuel T. De Guia and Jose B. Abejo
over the entire FISHPOND covered by TCT No. 6358 of the Bulacan
Register of Deeds is recognized without prejudice to the outcome of
CAG.R. CV No. 38031 pending before the Court of Appeals and
other cases involving the same property;
2. Manuel T. De Guia and Jose B. Abejo shall equally enjoy
possession and use of the entire FISHPOND prior to partition;

3. The compensatory damages of P25,000 per annum representing


rent from 27 November 1983 until May 1992 shall earn interest at 6%
per annum from 27 November 1983 until finality of this decision, and
thereafter at 12% per annum until full payment;
4. Manuel T. de Guia shall pay Jose B. Abejo a yearly rent
of P25,000 from June 1992 until finality of this decision, with interest
at 6% per annum during the same period, and thereafter at 12%
interest per annum until full payment;
5. After finality of this decision and for as long as Manuel T. de Guia
exclusively possesses the entire FISHPOND, he shall pay Jose B.
Abejo a yearly rental of P25,000 for the latters undivided share in
the FISHPOND, unless Jose B. Abejo secures from the proper court
an order fixing a different rental rate in view of possible changed
circumstances.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-49731 September 29, 1988


ALFREDO SERING, petitioner,
vs.
RESTITUTO PLAZO and GERTRUDES SUAN, respondents.
NARVASA, J.:
The application of settled principles is all that is needed to resolve the instant
appeal. Article 487 of the Civil Code provides that anyone of the co-owners of
an immovable may bring an action in ejectment. A co-owner may thus bring
an ejectment action without joining the other co-owners, the suit being
deemed instituted for the benefit of all. 1 And the term, "action in ejectment,"
includes a suit of forcible entry (detentacion) or unlawful detainer
(desahucio). 2
The proceeding at bar had its inception in a forcible entry suit filed by
petitioner Sering against respondent Spouses Restituto Plazo and Gertrudes
Suan with the then Municipal Court of del Carmen, Surigao del Norte. 3The
case resulted in a judgment against the Plazos who thereupon appealed to
the Court of First Instance of Surigao del Norte. In the latter court the Plazos
learned that the property subject of the suit was not owned solely by Sering
but was owned in common by him and others. This prompted the Plazos to
move for the impleading of the other co-owners as parties plaintiff, on the
theory that they were indispensable parties. 4 The Court agreed and ordered
Sering to amend his complaint so as to include his co-owners as co-plaintiffs.
Sering demurred claiming that under the law anyone of the co-owners could
bring suit for ejectment without joining the others. 5 The Plazos contended,
on the other hand, that the provision invoked by Sering had no application to
forcible entry actions, but only to suits of unlawful detainer. Because Sering
failed to comply with the Courts order for amendment of the complaint, the
Trial Court dismissed his complaint. 6 It also thereafter denied his motion for
reconsidereration 7 Sering has come to this Court praying for the nullification
and reversal of said order of dismissal and that denying his plea for
reconsideration.
The orders complained of are indeed tainted by serious error and should
therefore be reversed and set aside, upon the considerations set out in the
opening paragraph of this resolution. The same issues had been raised and
resolved as early as eight (8) years before promulgation of the contested

orders. In Vencilao v. Camarento,decided in 1969, 8 this Court pertinently


ruled as follows: 9
2. Anent the question of whether an action of forcible
entry and detainer should be brought in the name of all coowners, We hold that under Article 487 of the new Civil
Code, any of the co-owners may bring the action ... .
In forcible entry and detainer action(s) the matter to be
determined is simply the question of prior physical
possession. It having been alleged in the complaint that the
plaintiff was in actual possession of the properties, certainly
the plaintiff alone, who was in actual possession, could file
the complaint.
The Court has been cited to no reason of substance for modifying or
overruling this doctrine.
WHEREFORE, the challenged Orders dismissing the petitioner's complaint
for ejectment and denying reconsideration of the dismissal decree 10 are
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE, and the case is REMANDED to the Regional
Trial Court for resolution, with all deliberate dispatch, of the respondents'
appeal from the judgment of the inferior court. This Resolution is immediately
executory.

G.R. No. 122249

January 29, 2004

REYNALDO, TELESFORO, REMEDIOS, ALFREDO and BELEN, all


surnamed AGUIRRE, VICENTA, HORACIO and FLORENCIO, all
surnamed MAGTIBAY and LEONILA, CECILIA, ANTONIO, and
VENANCIO, all surnamed MEDRANO, and ZOSIMA
QUIAMBAO, Petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and ELIAS, JOSE, ARSENIA and ROGELIO, all
surnamed BALITAAN, and MARIA ROSALES, Respondents.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court seeking the reversal of the Decision 1 dated July 26, 1995 rendered by
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 42350 which set aside the
Decision2 dated April 28, 1992 of the Regional Trial Court of Batangas City
(Branch 2) in Civil Case No. 202, 3 and declared private respondents Heirs of
Tiburcio Balitaan, as owners of the parcel of unregistered land with an
approximate area of 1,695 square meters, located at Aplaya, Bauan,
Batangas.
The facts of the case are as follows:
In his lifetime, Leocadio Medrano was the owner and possessor of a parcel
of residential land, situated in Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas, containing an area
of 2,611 square meters.4 The parcel of land was conjugal property, having
been acquired by Leocadio during his first marriage with one Emiliana Narito.
Their union begot four children, namely: (a) Gertrudes Medrano, now
deceased, represented in this case by her children, herein petitioners
Telesforo, Reynaldo, Remedios, Alfredo, and Belen, all surnamed Aguirre; (b)
Isabel Medrano, likewise deceased, represented by her children, herein
petitioners Vicenta, Horacio, and Florencio, all surnamed Magtibay; (c)
Placido Medrano, also deceased, represented by his only child, herein
petitioner Zosima Quiambao; and (d) Sixto Medrano.

After the death of his first wife, Leocadio contracted a second marriage with
Miguela Cario. Their union bore four children, herein co-petitioners, namely:
Venancio, Leonila, Antonio and Cecilia, all surnamed Medrano.
Upon the death of Leocadio on March 19, 1945, the surviving heirs agreed
that Sixto should manage and administer the subject property.
Sixto died on May 17, 1974. It was only after his death that petitioners heard
rumors that Sixto had, in fact, sold significant portions of the estate of
Leocadio. It appears that on September 7, 1953, Sixto, without the
knowledge and consent of the petitioners, executed an Affidavit of Transfer of
Real Property stating therein that he was the only heir of Leocadio. 5 Sixto
declared that Leocadio died on September 16, 1949, instead of the actual
date of his death on March 19, 1945. With the use of said affidavit and a
survey plan,6 Tax Declaration No. 40105 in the name of Leocadio was
cancelled and Tax Declaration No. 44984 was issued in the name of
Sixto.7 On August 29, 1957, Sixto sold to Maria Bacong a 160- square meter
portion of the subject land.8 On September 28, 1959, Sixto sold to Tiburcio
Balitaan a 1,695 square meter portion of the same land. 9 Sometime in
November 1967, Maria Bacong sold her property to Rosendo Bacong. 10
Petitioners demanded the reconveyance of the portions sold by Sixto but
Tiburcio Balitaan, Maria Bacong and Rosendo Bacong refused to do so.
Hence, petitioners filed against them before the Regional Trial Court of
Batangas (Branch 2), a complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Documents,
Partition, Malicious Prosecution and Damages, docketed as Civil Case No.
202.11
In their Answer, Maria Bacong and Rosendo Bacong contend that petitioners
have no cause of action because they acquired their property thru a valid
deed of sale dated August 29, 1957, executed by Sixto and, alternatively,
petitioners' cause of action, if any, was barred by prescription and laches. 12
In his Answer, Tiburcio Balitaan contends that petitioners have no cause of
action since petitioners were well-aware of the sale of the property to him by
Sixto; and that he was an innocent purchaser for value, in possession and
enjoyment of the land in the concept of absolute owner, peacefully and
publicly. He further echoed the contention of Maria and Rosendo Bacong that
any cause of action petitioners may have was barred by prescription and
laches.13

Maria Bacong died during the pendency of the suit in the trial court and she
was substituted by her surviving heirs, namely, Lorenza, Elena, Felipa,
Manuel, Marilou, Ricardo, Medel, Monchito and Milag, all surnamed
Medrano.14 Tiburcio Balitaan also died and was substituted by his heirs,
herein private respondents, namely: his wife, Maria Rosales and their four
children: Elias, Jose, Arsenia and Rogelio, all surnamed Balitaan. 15

(2) Isabel Medrano, who is already dead, represented by the


plaintiffs, her children Vicenta, Horacio and Florencio, all surnamed
Magtibay - 399.42 square meters;

On July 28, 1989, petitioners and Rosendo Bacong, for himself and as
attorney-in-fact of the heirs of Maria Bacong, entered into a compromise
agreement to settle the case between them.16 The compromise agreement,
as approved by the trial court, provided that Rosendo Bacong and the heirs
of Maria Bacong agreed to payP30,000.00 to petitioners in recognition of
petitioners' ownership of a 269-square meter portion 17 and in consideration of
which, petitioners recognized the full ownership, rights, interest and
participation of the former over said land. 18 The area of the subject land is
thus reduced to 2,342 square meters (2,611 square meters minus 269
square meters).

(4) Sixto Medrano - 399.42 square meters only which he had the
right to dispose of in favor of Tiburcio Balitaan and Maria
Rosales.

After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered judgment dated April 28,
1992, ruling that private respondents did not dispute, by any evidence, the
falsity of the Affidavit of Transfer, as well as the fact that Sixto had co-owners
to the property. It found that private respondents' affirmative defense of
laches and/or prescription are unavailing against a property held in coownership as long as the state of co-ownership is recognized. Consequently,
the trial court upheld the sale made by Sixto in favor of private respondents
only to the extent that Sixto is entitled to by virtue of his being a co-owner.19
In determining the area that Sixto could have validly sold to private
respondents, the trial court, in its decision, provided for the manner of
partition among the parties, based on the memorandum submitted by
petitioners, thus:
For the four (4) children of the first marriage, namely:
(1) Gertrudes, who is already dead represented by her children
Tefesforo, Reynaldo, Remedios, Alfredo and Belen, all surnamed
Aguirre - 399.42 square meters;

(3) Placido Medrano (dead), represented by his only child Zosima


Medrano - 399.42 square meters; and

The above consist of undivided interest, shares and participations from the
inheritance or succession to the conjugal estate of Leocadio Medrano and
Emiliana Narito.
For the children of the second marriage their shares in the inheritance from
the property of Leocadio Medrano are as follows:
(1) To Venancio Medrano - 138.32 square meters
(2) To Leonila Medrano - 138.32 square meters
(3) To Antonio Medrano - 138.32 square meters
(4) To Cecilia Medrano - 138.32 square meters
with all the above consisting of undivided shares, interest and participation in
the estate.
For the defendants Maria Rosales, surviving spouse of the deceased
Tiburcio Balitaan and their Children, an area of 399.42 square meters, the
only area and extent which Sixto Medrano could have legally dispensed of in
their favor.20
Thus, the dispositive portion of the trial court's decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court renders judgment in favor
of the plaintiffs and against the defendants, to wit:

(a) Ordering the partition of the property in question among the


plaintiffs and the defendants; and
(b) Ordering the parties, plaintiffs and defendants, to make a partition
among themselves by proper instruments of conveyance and to
submit before this Court a project of partition should the parties be
able to agree for the confirmation of the Court within two (2) months
upon receipt of this decision, otherwise this Court will be constrained
to appoint commissioners to make the partition in accordance with
law.
All other claims not having been duly proved are ordered dismissed.
SO ORDERED.21
Aggrieved, private respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals. 22
On July 26, 1995, the appellate court rendered judgment recognizing the
validity of the sale only with respect to the undivided share of Sixto Medrano
as co-owner; but nonetheless, declaring respondents as absolute owners of
1,695 square meters of the subject property, reasoning that:
. . . Defendants-appellees have been in possession, in the concept of owner,
of the entire parcel of land sold to Tiburcio Balitaan by Sixto Medrano for
more than ten years, seventeen years to be exact (1958-1975). Relying on
the affidavit of transfer (Exhibit "B") the tax declaration (Exhibit "C") and the
survey plan (Exhibit "D") shown to him by Sixto Medrano which indicate the
latter as owner of the property in dispute, Tiburcio Balitaan believed transfer
to him was effected. (TSN, April 17, 1991, pp. 14-17) and thus, entered the
property as owner (Ibid. at p. 13) Tiburcio Balitaan, believing himself as the
lawful transferee, in addition, caused Tax Declaration No. 51038 to be issued
in his name (Exhibits "6", "6-A", "6-B", and "6-C"). Thus, although the sale of
the co-owned property is only valid as to the undivided share of Sixto
Medrano, defendants, by virtue of their open, adverse and uninterrupted
possession from 1958 (Exhibit "G") to 1975, obtained title to the entire
property and not just Sixto's undivided share. This is pursuant to Article 1134
(1957a) of the New Civil Code which provides that:
Ownership and other real rights over immovable property are acquired by
ordinary prescription through possession of ten years.

...
Plaintiffs did not at all inquire as to the status of their property all this time
and thus have been remiss of their duties as owners of the property. Plaintiffs
waited until Sixto's death to learn more about their property. Even though the
co-ownership is to be preserved in accordance with the wishes of the
deceased, the plaintiffs should have taken it upon themselves to look into the
status of the property once in a while, to assure themselves that it is
managed well and that they are receiving what is due them as co-owners of
the parcel of land or to at least manifest their continued interest in the
property as normal owners would do. But the plaintiffs did not show any
interest in the way Sixto Medrano was managing the property which in effect
gave the latter carte blanche powers over the same. Such passivity is
aggravated by the fact that one of the plaintiffs resides a mere 600 meters
away from the disputed property (TSN, April 17, 1991, p. 13). By not showing
any interest, the plaintiffs have, in fact, slept on their rights and thus, cannot
now exercise a stale right.23
Petitioners sought reconsideration24 but the appellate court denied it in a
Resolution dated October 5, 1995.25
In their present recourse, petitioners take exception from the appellate court's
findings that respondents have been in possession, in the concept of owner
of the entire parcel of land sold to Tiburcio Balitaan by Sixto Medrano for
seventeen years (1958-1975), relying on the Affidavit of Transfer and Tax
Declaration No. 51038 in the name of Sixto; and that Tiburcio acquired
ownership of the whole property from Sixto through ordinary prescription for
ten years.
Petitioners submit that Tiburcio Balitaan was not a purchaser in good faith
and for value since there are enough circumstances which should have put
him on guard and prompted him to be more circumspect and inquire further
about the true status of Sixto Medrano's ownership; that during his lifetime,
Tiburcio was a neighbor of petitioners and was well-aware that Sixto had
other siblings but Tiburcio chose to rely on the Affidavit of Transfer executed
by Sixto Medrano declaring that he was the only heir of Leocadio; that the
Court of Appeals should not have faulted them for failing to inquire about the
status of the disputed property until after the death of Sixto Medrano; that
they are not guilty of laches.

It is settled that in the exercise of the Supreme Court's power of review, the
findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are conclusive and binding on the
Supreme Court.26 The exceptions to this rule are: (1) when the findings are
grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the
inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there
is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a
misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6)
when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of
the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant
and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to the trial court; (8)
when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on
which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in
the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10)
when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence
and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the Court of
Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the
parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different
conclusion.27 Exceptions (4), (7), (10) and (11) are present in the instant
case.1wphi1

Article 1130 of the Civil Code states that the "title for prescription must be
true and valid." In Doliendo vs. Biarnesa,34 we elucidated on this provision,
thus:

We find the petition meritorious.28 We agree with the petitioners that the
Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in upholding the claim of
petitioners that they acquired ownership of the subject property through
prescription.

The requirements for ordinary acquisitive prescription as hereinabove


described have not been met in this case.

Acquisitive prescription of real rights may be ordinary or extraordinary.


Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession of things in good faith
and with just title for the time fixed by law; 29 without good faith and just title,
acquisitive prescription can only be extraordinary in character. Regarding real
or immovable property, ordinary acquisitive prescription requires a period of
possession of ten years,30 while extraordinary acquisitive prescription
requires an uninterrupted adverse possession of thirty years. 31
Ordinary acquisitive prescription demands that possession be "in good faith",
which consists in the reasonable belief that the person from whom the thing
is received has been the owner thereof and could thereby transmit that
ownership.32 There is "just title" when the adverse claimant comes into
possession of the property through any of the modes recognized by law for
the acquisition of ownership or other real rights, but that the grantor is neither
the owner nor in a position to transmit the right. 33

We think that this contention is based on a misconception of the scope and


effect of the provisions of this article of the Code in its application to "ordinary
prescription." It is evident that by a "titulo verdadero y valido" in this
connection we are not to understand a "titulo que por si solo tiene fuerza de
transferir el dominio sin necesidad de la prescricion" (a title which of itself is
sufficient to transfer the ownership without the necessity of the lapse of the
prescription period); and we accept the opinion of a learned Spanish law
writer who holds that the "titulo verdadero y valido" as used in this article of
the code prescribes a "titulo Colorado" and not merely "putativo;" a "titulo
Colorado" being one 'which a person has when he buys a thing, in good faith,
from one whom he believes to be the owner,' and a "titulo putativo" "being
one which is supposed to have preceded the acquisition of a thing, although
in fact it did not, as might happen when one is in possession of a thing in the
belief that it had been bequeathed to him." (Viso Derecho Civil, Parte
Segunda, p. 541)35

It must be remembered that the burden of proving the status of a purchaser


in good faith lies upon him who asserts that status. It is not sufficient to
invoke the ordinary presumption of good faith, that is, that everyone is
presumed to have acted in good faith, since the good faith that is here
essential is integral with the very status that must be established. 36
After a careful examination of the records, we find that private respondents
failed to discharge the burden of proof that Tiburcio Balitaan was a purchaser
in good faith. It is undisputed that Tiburcio practically lived his entire lifetime
in the area where the property in dispute is located and had been a neighbor
of petitioners. He knew that Sixto Medrano had other siblings because his
son, Dr. Elias Balitaan, is the godson by baptism of spouses Jose Aguirre
and Gertrudes Medrano, the latter being a deceased sister of Sixto. Thus,
Tiburcio was not a complete stranger to the Medrano clan. Yet, he
deliberately chose to close his eyes to said facts and despite his personal
knowledge to the contrary, he purchased the disputed property from Sixto on
the basis of the misrepresentation of the latter in his Affidavit of Transfer that

he is the sole surviving heir of Leocadio. A purchaser cannot close his eyes
to facts which should put a reasonable man upon his guard, and then claim
that he acted in good faith under the belief that there was no defect in the title
of the vendor.37
Since the disputed property is an unregistered land, Tiburcio as buyer thereof
did so at his peril. Private respondents' claim that Tiburcio bought the land in
good faith, that is, without notice that some other person has a right to or
interest in the property, would not protect them if it turns out, as it actually did
in this case, that the seller, Sixto Medrano, did not own the entire property at
the time of the sale, but only an undivided portion of the land as a co-owner.
Private respondents failed to show that the petitioners were notified of the
subject sale or that respondents gave their consent to the sale. Not being in
"good faith", the ten-year period required for ordinary acquisitive prescription
does not apply.
Even the thirty-year period under extraordinary acquisitive prescription has
not been met in this case. Private respondents claim to have been in
possession, in the concept of owner, of the entire parcel of land sold to
Tiburcio Balitaan by Sixto Medrano for only seventeen years (1958-1975).
In addition, as we have enunciated in Salvador vs. Court of Appeals,38 to wit:
This Court has held that the possession of a co-owner is like that of a trustee
and shall not be regarded as adverse to the other co-owners but in fact as
beneficial to all of them. Acts which may be considered adverse to
strangers may not be considered adverse insofar as co-owners are
concerned. A mere silent possession by a co-owner, his receipt of
rents, fruits or profits from the property, the erection of buildings and
fences and the planting of trees thereon, and the payment of land taxes,
cannot serve as proof of exclusive ownership, if it is not borne out by
clear and convincing evidence that he exercised acts of possession which
unequivocably constituted an ouster or deprivation of the rights of the other
co-owners.
Thus, in order that a co-owner's possession may be deemed adverse to
the cestui que trust or the other co-owners, the following elements must
concur: (1) that he has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation
amounting to an ouster of the cestui que trust or the other co-owners;
(2) that such positive acts of repudiation have been made known to

the cestui que trust or the other co-owners; and (3) that the evidence
thereon must be clear and convincing.39 (Emphasis supplied)
Tested against these guidelines, respondents failed to present competent
evidence that the acts of Sixto adversely and clearly repudiated the existing
co-ownership among the heirs of Leocadio Medrano.
Private respondents' reliance on the tax declaration in the name of Sixto
Medrano is unworthy of credit since we have held on several occasions that
tax declarations by themselves do not conclusively prove title to
land.40Further, private respondents failed to show that the Affidavit executed
by Sixto to the effect that he is the sole owner of the subject property was
known or made known to the other co-heirs of Leocadio Medrano.
Neither can we subscribe to the appellate court's view that petitioners are
guilty of laches. Laches is the negligence or omission to assert a right within
a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert
it has abandoned it or declined to assert it. 41 It does not involve mere lapse or
passage of time, but is principally an impediment to the assertion or
enforcement of a right, which has become under the circumstances
inequitable or unfair to permit.42 The rule that each co-owner may demand at
any time the partition of the common property implies that an action to
demand partition is imprescriptible or cannot be barred by laches. 43
We have consistently held that if a co-owner sells the whole property as his,
the sale will affect only his own share but not those of the other co-owners
who did not consent to the sale.44 Article 493 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and the
fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign
or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except
when personal rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the
mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which
may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the coownership.
It clearly provides that the sale or other disposition affects only the seller's
share pro indiviso, and the transferee gets only what corresponds to his
grantor's share in the partition of the property owned in common. Since a coowner is entitled to sell his undivided share, a sale of the entire property by

one co-owner without the consent of the other co-owners is not null and void;
only the rights of the co-owner/seller are transferred, thereby making the
buyer a co-owner of the property.45 Accordingly, we held in Bailon-Casilao vs.
Court of Appeals:
From the foregoing, it may be deduced that since a co-owner is entitled to
sell his undivided share, a sale of the entire property by one-co-owner
without the consent of the other co-owners is not null and void. However,
only the rights of the co-owner-seller are transferred, thereby making the
buyer a co-owner of the property.
The proper action in cases like this is not for the nullification of the sale or for
the recovery of possession of the thing owned in common from the third
person who substituted the co-owner or co-owners who alienated their
shares, but the DIVISION of the common property as if it continued to remain
in the possession of the co-owners who possessed and administered
it [Mainit v. Bandoy, supra].
Thus, it is now settled that the appropriate recourse of co-owners in cases
where their consent were not secured in a sale of the entire property as well
as in a sale merely of the undivided shares of some of the co-owners is an
action for PARTITION under Rule 69 of the Revised Rules of Court. Neither
recovery of possession nor restitution can be granted since the defendant
buyers are legitimate proprietors and possessors in joint ownership of the
common property claimed [Ramirez v. Bautista, supra].46
It is clear therefore that the deed of sale executed by Sixto Medrano in favor
of Tiburcio Balitaan is a valid conveyance only insofar as the share of Sixto
Medrano in the co-ownership is concerned. Thus, the respondent court erred
in declaring the ownership of the entire 1,695-square meter property sold by
Sixto, in favor of the private respondents.

It is not disputed that the 2,342-square meter property was a conjugal


property of Leocadio and Emiliana. Upon the death of Emiliana, which
occurred many years before the death of Leocadio in 1945, both deaths
occurring before the enactment of the New Civil Code in 1950, all the four
children of the first marriage and the four children of the second marriage
shall share equally. The subject property should have been divided into eight
equal parts, pursuant to Articles 921 and 931 of the old Civil Code, 47 or
292.75 square meters each. The respective heirs of the now deceased
children of Leocadio inherit by way of representation the respective shares of
their respective parents, pursuant to Articles 933 and 934 of the Old Civil
Code.48
At the time of death of Leocadio in 1945, Miguela was entitled only to the
usufruct of the land pursuant to Article 834 of the Old Civil Code, 49 which
provides that "[i]f only one legitimate child or descendant survives, the
widower or widow shall have the usufruct of the third available for betterment,
such child or descendant to have the naked ownership until, on the death of
the surviving spouse, the whole title is merged in him".
Thus, to recapitulate, each of the heirs of Leocadio should inherit 292.75
square meters, pro-indiviso (2,342 square meters 8 = 292.75 square
meters) after deducting from the original 2,611 square meters of the subject
property the 269 square meters ceded to the heirs of Maria Bacong in a
compromise agreement among the petitioners and the heirs of Maria
Bacong. The deceased children of Leocadio are represented by their
respective heirs by right of representation under Articles 933 and 934 of the
Old Civil Code.
Accordingly, the undivided shares of Leocadio's eight children or their heirs
by right of representation, upon the death of Leocadio in 1945 are as follows:
(1) Venancio Medrano - 292.75 square meters

The next question is what is the area of the pro indiviso share pertaining to
Sixto Medrano that was sold to private respondents? The trial court
endeavored to determine the same by ascertaining the inheritance of each of
the heirs of Leocadio. However, the manner of partition as set out by the trial
court in the text of its decision needs to be amended so as to conform to the
laws on intestate succession under the Old Civil Code absent any allegation
or showing that Leocadio left any last will and testament.

(2) Leonila Medrano - 292.75 square meters


(3) Antonio Medrano - 292.75 square meters
(4) Cecilia Medrano - 292.75 square meters

(5) Heirs of Gertrudes M. Aguirre, Telesforo, Reynaldo, Remedios,


Alfredo and Belen, all surnamed Aguirre- - 292.75 square meters

(6) Leonila Medrano - 227.04 square meters


(7) Antonio Medrano - 227.04 square meters

(6) Heirs of Isabel M. Magtibay, Vicenta, Horacio and Florencio, all


surnamed Magtibay - 292.75 square meters
(7) Heirs of Placido Medrano, plaintiff Zosima Medrano Quimbao 292.75 square meters

(8) Cecilia Medrano - 227.04 square meters


(9) Rosendo Bacong - 269 square meters
(10) Mateo Castillo - 460 square meters

(8) Sixto Medrano - 292.75 square meters


During the pendency of the case in the trial court but after the death of Sixto,
petitioners sold 460 square meters to one Mateo Castillo. Consequently, the
460 square meters should be charged against the shares of petitioners only
and should not affect the 292.75 square meters undivided share of Sixto
Medrano which he had sold in 1959. 50 Accordingly, 460 square meters
divided by 7 equals 65.71 square meters. Deducting said area from 292.75
square meters, the final undivided share of each of the seven heirs of
Leocadio should be 227.04 square meters (292.75 - 65.71 = 227.04) and that
pertaining to Sixto in 292.75 square meters.
Thus, the manner of partition set forth by the trial court in its decision should
be amended, as follows:
(1) Gertrudes M. Aguirre, deceased, represented by her children, herein
petitioners Telesforo, Reynaldo, Remedios, Alfredo and Belen, all
surnamed Aguirre - 227.04 square meters
(2) Isabel M. Magtibay, deceased, represented by her children, herein
petitioners Vicenta, Horacio and Florencio, all surnamed Magtibay 227.04 square meters
(3) Placido Medrano, deceased, represented by his only child, Placido
Medrano - 227.04 square meters
(4) Private respondents Maria Rosales and heirs of Tiburcio
Balitaan, namely: Elias, Jose, Arsenia and Rogelio all surnamed
Balitaan (in lieu of Sixto Medrano) - 292.75 square meters
(5) Venancio Medrano - 227.04 square meters

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The assailed decision of the Court of


Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 42350, dated July 26, 1995, is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The decision of the Regional Trial Court is REINSTATED with
the following MODIFICATIONS:
The sale in favor of private respondents is declared VALID but only insofar as
the 292.75 square meters undivided share of Sixto Medrano in the subject
property is concerned.
Let the parcel of land, located at Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas, consisting of
2,611 square meters, be partitioned and distributed as determined by the
Court in the text of herein decision. Accordingly, let the records of the case
be remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Batangas City (Branch 2) in Civil
Case No. 202 for further appropriate proceedings under Rule 69 of the Rules
of Court.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 61584

November 25, 1992

DONATO S. PAULMITAN, JULIANA P. FANESA and RODOLFO


FANESA, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, ALICIO PAULMITAN, ELENA PAULMITAN,
ABELINO PAULMITAN, ANITA PAULMITAN, BAKING PAULMITAN,
ADELINA PAULMITAN and ANITO PAULMITAN, respondents.
ROMERO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the
decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, dated July 14, 1982 in CA-G.R. No.
62255-R entitled "Alicio Paulmitan, et al. v. Donato Sagario Paulmitan, et al."
which affirmed the decision 2 of the then Court of First Instance (now RTC) of
Negros Occidental, 12th Judicial District, Branch IV, Bacolod City, in Civil
Case No. 11770.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Agatona Sagario Paulmitan, who died sometime in 1953, 3 left the two
following parcels of land located in the Province of Negros Occidental: (1) Lot
No. 757 with an area of 1,946 square meters covered by Original Certificate
of Title (OCT) No. RO-8376; and (2) Lot No. 1091 with an area of 69,080
square meters and covered by OCT No. RO-11653. From her marriage with
Ciriaco Paulmitan, who is also now deceased, Agatona begot two legitimate
children, namely: Pascual Paulmitan, who also died in 1953, 4 apparently
shortly after his mother passed away, and Donato Paulmitan, who is one of
the petitioners. Petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa is Donato's daughter while the
third petitioner, Rodolfo Fanes, is Juliana's husband. Pascual Paulmitan, the
other son of Agatona Sagario, is survived by the respondents, who are his
children, name: Alicio, Elena, Abelino, Adelina, Anita, Baking and Anito, all
surnamed Paulmitan.
Until 1963, the estate of Agatona Sagario Paulmitan remained unsettled and
the titles to the two lots mentioned above remained in the name of Agatona.
However, on August 11, 1963, petitioner Donato Paulmitan executed an
Affidavit of Declaration of Heirship, extrajudicially adjudicating unto himself
Lot No. 757 based on the claim that he is the only surviving heir of Agatona
Sagario. The affidavit was filed with the Register of Deeds of Negros

Occidental on August 20, 1963, cancelled OCT No. RO-8376 in the name of
Agatona Sagario and issued Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 35979 in
Donato's name.
As regards Lot No. 1091, Donato executed on May 28, 1974 a Deed of Sale
over the same in favor of petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa, his daughter. 5
In the meantime, sometime in 1952, for non-payment of taxes, Lot No. 1091
was forfeited and sold at a public auction, with the Provincial Government of
Negros Occidental being the buyer. A Certificate of Sale over the land was
executed by the Provincial Treasurer in favor of the Provincial Board of
Negros Occidental. 6
On May 29, 1974, Juliana P. Fanesa redeemed the property from the
Provincial Government of Negros Occidental for the amount of P2,959.09. 7
On learning of these transactions, respondents children of the late Pascual
Paulmitan filed on January 18, 1975 with the Court of First Instance of
Negros Occidental a Complaint against petitioners to partition the properties
plus damages.
Petitioners set up the defense of prescription with respect to Lot No. 757 as
an affirmative defense, contending that the Complaint was filed more than
eleven years after the issuance of a transfer certificate of title to Donato
Paulmitan over the land as consequence of the registration with the Register
of Deeds, of Donato's affidavit extrajudicially adjudicating unto himself Lot
No. 757. As regards Lot No. 1091, petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa claimed in her
Answer to the Complaint that she acquired exclusive ownership thereof not
only by means of a deed of sale executed in her favor by her father,
petitioner Donato Paulmitan, but also by way of redemption from the
Provincial Government of Negros Occidental.
Acting on the petitioners' affirmative defense of prescription with respect to
Lot No. 757, the trial court issued an order dated April 22, 1976 dismissing
the complaint as to the said property upon finding merit in petitioners'
affirmative defense. This order, which is not the object of the present petition,
has become final after respondents' failure to appeal therefrom.
Trial proceeded with respect to Lot No. 1091. In a decision dated May 20,
1977, the trial court decided in favor of respondents as to Lot No. 1091.

According to the trial court, the respondents, as descendants of Agatona


Sagario Paulmitan were entitled to one-half (1/2) of Lot No. 1091, pro
indiviso. The sale by petitioner Donato Paulmitan to his daughter, petitioner
Juliana P. Fanesa, did not prejudice their rights. And the repurchase by
Juliana P. Fanesa of the land from the Provincial Government of Negros
Occidental did not vest in Juliana exclusive ownership over the entire land
but only gave her the right to be reimbursed for the amount paid to redeem
the property. The trial court ordered the partition of the land and directed
petitioners Donato Paulmitan and Juliana P. Fanesa to pay private
respondents certain amounts representing the latter's share in the fruits of
the land. On the other hand, respondents were directed to pay P1,479.55 to
Juliana P. Fanesa as their share in the redemption price paid by Fanesa to
the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental. The dispositive portion of
the trial court's decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered on the second cause of
action pleaded in the complain as follows:
1. The deed of sale (Exh. "F") dated May 28, 1974 is valid insofar as
the one-half undivided portion of Lot 1091 is concerned as to vest
ownership over said half portion in favor of defendant Juliana Fanesa
and her husband Rodolfo Fanesa, while the remaining half shall
belong to plaintiffs, pro-indiviso;
2. Lot 1091, Cadastral Survey of Pontevedra, Province of Negros
Occidental, now covered by TCT No. RO-11653 (N.A.), is ordered
partitioned. The parties must proceed to an actual partition by
property instrument of partition, submitting the corresponding
subdivision within sixty (60) days from finality of this decision, and
should they fail to agree, commissioners of partition may be
appointed by the Court;
3. Pending the physical partition, the Register of Deeds of Negros
Occidental is ordered to cancel Original Certificate of Title No. RO11653 (N.A.) covering Lot 1091, Pontevedra Cadastre, and to issue
in lieu thereof a new certificate of title in the name of plaintiffs and
defendants, one-half portion each, pro-indiviso, as indicated in
paragraph 1 above;

4. Plaintiffs are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, defendant


Juliana Fanesa the amount of P1,479.55 with interest at the legal
rate from May 28, 1974 until paid;
5 Defendants Donato Sagario Paulmitan and Juliana Paulmitan
Fanesa are ordered to account to plaintiffs and to pay them, jointly
and severally, the value of the produce from Lot 1091 representing
plaintiffs' share in the amount of P5,000.00 per year from 1966 up to
the time of actual partition of the property, and to pay them the sum
of P2,000.00 as attorney's fees as well as the costs of the suit.
xxx xxx xxx
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. Hence this
petition.
To determine the rights and obligations of the parties to the land in question,
it is well to review, initially, the relatives who survived the decedent Agatona
Sagario Paulmitan. When Agatona died in 1953, she was survived by two (2)
sons, Donato and Pascual. A few months later in the same year, Pascual
died, leaving seven children, the private respondents. On the other had,
Donato's sole offspring was petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa.
At the time of the relevant transactions over the properties of decedent
Agatona Sagario Paulmitan, her son Pascual had died, survived by
respondents, his children. It is, thus, tempting to apply the principles
pertaining to the right of representation as regards respondents. It must,
however, be borne in mind that Pascual did no predecease his mother, 8 thus
precluding the operation of the provisions in the Civil Code on the right of
representation 9 with respect to his children, the respondents. When Agatona
Sagario Paulmitan died intestate in 1952, her two (2) sons Donato and
Pascual were still alive. Since it is well-settled by virtue of Article 777 of the
Civil Code that "[t]he rights to the succession are transmitted from the
moment of the death of the decedent," 10 the right of ownership, not only of
Donato but also of Pascual, over their respective shares in the inheritance
was automatically and by operation of law vested in them in 1953 when their
mother died intestate. At that stage, the children of Donato and Pascual did
not yet have any right over the inheritance since "[i]n every inheritance, the
relative
nearest
in
degree
excludes
the
more
distant

ones." 11 Donato and Pascual excluded their children as to the right to inherit
from Agatona Sagario Paulmitan, their mother.
From the time of the death of Agatona Sagario Paulmitan to the subsequent
passing away of her son Pascual in 1953, the estate remained unpartitioned.
Article 1078 of the Civil Code provides: "Where there are two or more heirs,
the whole estate of the decedent is, before its partition, owned in common by
such heirs, subject to the payment of debts of the deceased." 12 Donato and
Pascual Paulmitan were, therefore, co-owners of the estate left by their
mother as no partition was ever made.
When Pascual Paulmitan died intestate in 1953, his children, the
respondents, succeeded him in the co-ownership of the disputed property.
Pascual Paulmitan's right of ownership over an undivided portion of the
property passed on to his children, who, from the time of Pascual's death,
became co-owners with their uncle Donato over the disputed decedent
estate.
Petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa claims ownership over Lot No. 1091 by virtue of
two transactions, namely: (a) the sale made in her favor by her father Donato
Paulmitan; and (b) her redemption of the land from the Provincial of Negros
Occidental after it was forfeited for non-payment of taxes.
When Donato Paulmitan sold on May 28, 1974 Lot No. 1091 to his daughter
Juliana P. Fanesa, he was only a co-owner with respondents and as such, he
could only sell that portion which may be allotted to him upon termination of
the co-ownership. 13 The sale did not prejudice the rights of respondents to
one half (1/2) undivided share of the land which they inherited from their
father. It did not vest ownership in the entire land with the buyer but
transferred only the seller's pro-indiviso share in the property 14 and
consequently made the buyer a co-owner of the land until it is partitioned.
InBailon-Casilao v. Court of Appeals, 15 the Court, through Justice Irene R.
Cortes, outlined the effects of a sale by one co-owner without the consent of
all the co-owners, thus:
The rights of a co-owner of a certain property are clearly specified in
Article 493 of the Civil Code, Thus:
Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and
of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore

alienate, assign or mortgage it and even substitute another person


its enjoyment, except when personal rights are involved. But the
effect of the alienation or mortgage, with respect to the co-owners,
shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the
division upon the termination of the co-ownership. [Emphasis
supplied.]
As early as 1923, this Court has ruled that even if a co-owner sells
the whole property as his, the sale will affect only his own share but
not those of the other co-owners who did not consent to the sale
[Punsalan v. Boon Liat, 44 Phil. 320 (1923)]. This is because under
the aforementioned codal provision, the sale or other disposition
affects only his undivided share and the transferee gets only what
would correspond to his grantor in the partition of the thing owned in
common [Ramirez v. Bautista, 14 Phil. 528 (1909)]. Consequently, by
virtue of the sales made by Rosalia and Gaudencio Bailon which are
valid with respect to their proportionate shares, and the subsequent
transfers which culminated in the sale to private respondent
Celestino Afable, the said Afable thereby became a co-owner of the
disputed parcel of land as correctly held by the lower court since the
sales produced the effect of substituting the buyers in the enjoyment
thereof [Mainit v. Bandoy, 14 Phil. 730 (1910)].
From the foregoing, it may be deduced that since a co-owner is
entitled to sell his undivided share, a sale of the entire property by
one co-owner without the consent of the other co-owners is not null
and void. However, only the rights of the co-owner-seller are
transferred, thereby making the buyer a co-owner of the property.
Applying this principle to the case at bar, the sale by petitioner Donato
Paulmitan of the land to his daughter, petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa, did not
give to the latter ownership over the entire land but merely transferred to her
the one half (1/2) undivided share of her father, thus making her the coowner of the land in question with the respondents, her first cousins.
Petitioner Juliana P. Fanesa also claims ownership of the entire property by
virtue of the fact that when the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental
bought the land after it was forfeited for non-payment of taxes, she redeemed
it.

The contention is without merit.


The redemption of the land made by Fanesa did not terminate the coownership nor give her title to the entire land subject of the co-ownership.
Speaking on the same issue raised by petitioners, the Court, in Adille
v. Court of Appeals, 16 resolved the same with the following pronouncements:
The petition raises a purely legal issue: May a co-owner acquire
exclusive ownership over the property held in common?
Essentially, it is the petitioners' contention that the property subject of
dispute devolved upon him upon the failure of his co-heirs to join him
in its redemption within the period required by law. He relies on the
provisions of Article 1515 of the old Civil Code, Article 1613 of the
present Code, giving the vendee a retro the right to demand
redemption of the entire property.
There is no merit in this petition.
The right of repurchase may be exercised by co-owner with respect
to his share alone (CIVIL CODE, art. 1612, CIVIL CODE (1889), art.
(1514.). While the records show that petitioner redeemed the
property in its entirety, shouldering the expenses therefor, that did not
make him the owner of all of it. In other words, it did not put to end
the existing state of co-ownership (Supra, Art. 489). There is no
doubt that redemption of property entails a necessary expense.
Under the Civil Code:

does not vest in him ownership over it. Failure on the part of all the
co-owners to redeem it entitles the vendee a retro to retain the
property and consolidate title thereto in his name (Supra, art. 1607).
But the provision does not give to the redeeming co-owner the right
to the entire property. It does not provide for a mode of terminating a
co-ownership.
Although petitioner Fanesa did not acquire ownership over the entire lot by
virtue of the redemption she made, nevertheless, she did acquire the right to
reimbursed for half of the redemption price she paid to the Provincial
Government of Negros Occidental on behalf of her co-owners. Until
reimbursed, Fanesa hold a lien upon the subject property for the amount due
her. 17
Finally, petitioners dispute the order of the trial court, which the Court of
Appeals affirmed, for them to pay private respondents P5,000.00 per year
from 1966 until the partition of the estate which represents the share of
private respondents in the fruits of the land. According to petitioners, the land
is being leased for P2,000.00 per year only. This assigned error, however
raises a factual question. The settled rule is that only questions of law may
be raised in a petition for review. As a general rule, findings of fact made by
the trial court and the Court of Appeals are final and conclusive and cannot
be reviewed on appeal. 18
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision of the Court of
Appeals AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Art. 488. Each co-owner shall have a right to compel the other coowners to contribute to the expenses of preservation of the thing or
right owned in common and to the taxes. Any one of the latter may
exempt himself from this obligation by renouncing so much of his
undivided interest as may be equivalent to his share of the expenses
and taxes. No such waiver shall be made if it is prejudicial to the coownership.
The result is that the property remains to be in a condition of coownership. While a vendee a retro, under Article 1613 of the Code,
"may not be compelled to consent to a partial redemption," the
redemption by one co-heir or co-owner of the property in its totality

G.R. No. 108228

February 1, 2001

SPOUSES MANUEL and SALVACION DEL CAMPO, petitioners,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and HEIRS OF JOSE REGALADO,
SR., respondents.
QUISUMBING, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals
which affirmed the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City,
Branch 15 in Civil Case No. V-5369, ordering the dismissal of the action for
repartition, resurvey and reconveyance filed by petitioners.
Pure questions of law are raised in this appeal as the following factual
antecedents are undisputed:
Salome, Consorcia, Alfredo, Maria, Rosalia, Jose, Quirico and Julita, all
surnamed Bornales, were the original co-owners of Lot 162 of the Cadastral
Survey of Pontevedra, Capiz under Original Certificate of Title No. 18047. As
appearing therein, the lot, which consisted of a total area of 27,179 square
meters was divided in aliquot shares among the eight (8) co-owners as
follows:
Salome Bornales

4/16

Consorcia Bornales

4/16

Alfredo Bornales

2/16

Maria Bornales

2/16

Jose Bornales

1/16

Quirico Bornales

1/16

Rosalia Bornales

1/16

Julita Bornales

1/16

On July 14, 1940, Salome sold part of her 4/16 share in Lot 162 for P200.00
to Soledad Daynolo. In the Deed of Absolute Sale signed by Salome and two

other co-owners, Consorcia and Alfredo, the portion of Lot 162 sold to
Soledad was described as having more or less the following measurements:
63-1/2 meters from point "9" to "10", 35 meters from point "10" to
point "11", 30 meters from point "11" to a certain point parallel to a
line drawn from points "9" to "10"; and then from this "Certain Point"
to point "9" and as shown in the accompanying sketch, and made an
integral part of this deed, to SOLEDAD DAYNOLO, her heirs and
assigns.1
Thereafter, Soledad Daynolo immediately took possession of the land
described above and built a house thereon. A few years later, Soledad and
her husband, Simplicio Distajo, mortgaged the subject portion of Lot 162 as
security for a P400.00 debt to Jose Regalado, Sr. This transaction was
evidenced by a Deed of Mortgage 2 dated May 1, 1947.
On April 14, 1948, three of the eight co-owners of Lot 162, specifically,
Salome, Consorcia and Alfredo, sold 24,993 square meters of said lot to
Jose Regalado, Sr.
On May 4, 1951, Simplicio Distajo, heir of Soledad Daynolo who had since
died, paid the mortgage debt and redeemed the mortgaged portion of Lot
162 from Jose Regalado, Sr. The latter, in turn, executed a Deed of
Discharge of Mortgage3 in favor of Soledads heirs, namely: Simplicio Distajo,
Rafael Distajo and Teresita Distajo-Regalado. On same date, the said heirs
sold the redeemed portion of Lot 162 for P1,500.00 to herein petitioners, the
spouses Manuel Del Campo and Salvacion Quiachon.1wphi1.nt
Meanwhile, Jose Regalado, Sr. caused the reconstitution of Original
Certificate of Title No. 18047. The reconstituted OCT No. RO-4541 initially
reflected the shares of the original co-owners in Lot 162. However, title was
transferred later to Jose Regalado, Sr. who subdivided the entire property
into smaller lots, each covered by a respective title in his name. One of these
small lots is Lot No. 162-C-6 with an area of 11,732 square meters which
was registered on February 24, 1977 under TCT No. 14566.
In 1987, petitioners Manuel and Salvacion del Campo brought this complaint
for "repartition, resurvey and reconveyance" against the heirs of the now
deceased Jose Regalado, Sr. Petitioners claimed that they owned an area of
1,544 square meters located within Lot 162-C-6 which was erroneously
included in TCT No. 14566 in the name of Regalado. Petitioners alleged that
they occupied the disputed area as residential dwelling ever since they
purchased the property from the Distajos way back in 1951. They also
declared the land for taxation purposes and paid the corresponding taxes.

On April 1, 1987, summons were served on Regalados widow, Josefina


Buenvenida, and two of her children, Rosemarie and Antonio. Josefina and
Rosemarie were declared in default on May 10, 1989 because only Antonio
filed an answer to the complaint.
During trial, petitioners presented the Deed of Absolute Sale 4 executed
between Soledad Daynolo and Salome Bornales as well as the Deed of
Mortgage5 and Deed of Discharge6 signed by Jose Regalado, Sr. The Deed
of Absolute Sale7 showing the purchase by the Del Campos of the property
from the Distajos was likewise given in evidence.
Despite the filing of an answer, Antonio failed to present any evidence to
refute the claim of petitioners. Thus, after considering Antonio to have waived
his opportunity to present evidence, the trial court deemed the case
submitted for decision.
On November 20, 1990, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing the
complaint. It held that while Salome could alienate her pro-indiviso share in
Lot 162, she could not validly sell an undivided part thereof by meters and
bounds to Soledad, from whom petitioners derived their title. The trial court
also reasoned that petitioners could not have a better right to the property
even if they were in physical possession of the same and declared the
property for taxation purposes, because mere possession cannot defeat the
right of the Regalados who had aTorrens title over the land.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts judgment, with no
pronouncement as to costs.8
Petitioners now seek relief from this Court and maintain that:
I. THE FACT THAT THE SALE OF THE SUBJECT PORTION
CONSTITUTES A SALE OF A CONCRETE OR DEFINITE PORTION
OF LAND OWNED IN COMMON DOES NOT ABSOLUTELY
DEPRIVE HEREIN PETITIONERS OF ANY RIGHT OR TITLE
THERETO;
II. IN ANY EVENT, HEREIN PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ARE ALL
ESTOPPED FROM DENYING THE RIGHT AND TITLE OF HEREIN
PETITIONERS.9
In resolving petitioners appeal, we must answer the following questions:
Would the sale by a co-owner of a physical portion of an undivided property
held in common be valid? Is respondent estopped from denying petitioners
right and title over the disputed area? Under the facts and circumstances

duly established by the evidence, are petitioners entitled to repartition,


resurvey and reconveyance of the property in question?
On the first issue, it seems plain to us that the trial court concluded that
petitioners could not have acquired ownership of the subject land which
originally formed part of Lot 162, on the ground that their alleged right springs
from a void sale transaction between Salome and Soledad. The mere fact
that Salome purportedly transferred a definite portion of the co-owned lot by
metes and bounds to Soledad, however, does not per se render the sale a
nullity. This much is evident under Article 493 10 of the Civil Code and
pertinent jurisprudence on the matter. More particularly in Lopez vs. Vda. De
Cuaycong, et. al.11 which we find relevant, the Court, speaking through Mr.
Justice Bocobo, held that:
The fact that the agreement in question purported to sell
a concrete portion of the hacienda does not render the sale void, for
it is a well-established principle that the binding force of a contract
must be recognized as far as it is legally possible to do so. "Quando
res non valet ut ago, valeat quantum valere potest." (When a thing is
of no force as I do it, it shall have as much force as it can have.) 12
Applying this principle to the instant case, there can be no doubt that the
transaction entered into by Salome and Soledad could be legally recognized
in its entirety since the object of the sale did not even exceed the ideal
shares held by the former in the co-ownership. As a matter of fact, the deed
of sale executed between the parties expressly stipulated that the portion of
Lot 162 sold to Soledad would be taken from Salomes 4/16 undivided
interest in said lot, which the latter could validly transfer in whole or in part
even without the consent of the other co-owners. Salomes right to sell part of
her undivided interest in the co-owned property is absolute in accordance
with the well-settled doctrine that a co-owner has full ownership of his proindiviso share and has the right to alienate, assign or mortgage it, and
substitute another person in its enjoyment13 Since Salomes clear intention
was to sell merely part of her aliquot share in Lot 162, in our view no valid
objection can be made against it and the sale can be given effect to the full
extent.
We are not unaware of the principle that a co-owner cannot rightfully dispose
of a particular portion of a co-owned property prior to partition among all the
co-owners. However, this should not signify that the vendee does not acquire
anything at all in case a physically segregated area of the co-owned lot is in
fact sold to him. Since the co-owner/vendors undivided interest could
properly be the object of the contract of sale between the parties, what the
vendee obtains by virtue of such a sale are the same rights as the vendor
had as co-owner, in an ideal share equivalent to the consideration given
under their transaction. In other words, the vendee steps into the shoes of

the vendor as co-owner and acquires a proportionate abstract share in the


property held in common.
Resultantly, Soledad became a co-owner of Lot 162 as of the year 1940
when the sale was made in her favor. It follows that Salome, Consorcia and
Alfredo could not have sold the entire Lot 162 to Jose Regalado, Sr. on April
14, 1948 because at that time, the ideal shares held by the three coowners/vendors were equivalent to only 10/16 of the undivided property less
the aliquot share previously sold by Salome to Soledad. Based on the
principle that "no one can give what he does not have," 14 Salome, Consorcia
and Alfredo could not legally sell the shares pertaining to Soledad since a coowner cannot alienate more than his share in the co-ownership. We have
ruled many times that even if a co-owner sells the whole property as his, the
sale will affect only his own share but not those of the other co-owners who
did not consent to the sale. Since a co-owner is entitled to sell his undivided
share, a sale of the entire property by one co-owner will only transfer the
rights of said co-owner to the buyer, thereby making the buyer a co-owner of
the property.15
In this case, Regalado merely became a new co-owner of Lot 162 to the
extent of the shares which Salome, Consorcia and Alfredo could validly
convey. Soledad retained her rights as co-owner and could validly transfer
her share to petitioners in 1951. The logical effect on the second disposition
is to substitute petitioners in the rights of Soledad as co-owner of the land.
Needless to say, these rights are preserved notwithstanding the issuance of
TCT No. 14566 in Regalados name in 1977.
Be that as it may, we find that the area subject matter of this petition had
already been effectively segregated from the mother lot even before title
was issued in favor of Regalado. It must be noted that 26 years had lapsed
from the time petitioners bought and took possession of the property in 1951
until Regalado procured the issuance of TCT No. 14566. Additionally, the
intervening years between the date of petitioners purchase of the property
and 1987 when petitioners filed the instant complaint, comprise all of 36
years. However, at no instance during this time did respondents or Regalado,
for that matter, question petitioners right over the land in dispute. In the case
of Vda. De Cabrera vs. Court of Appeals,16 we had occasion to hold that
where the transferees of an undivided portion of the land allowed a co-owner
of the property to occupy a definite portion thereof and had not disturbed the
same for a period too long to be ignored, the possessor is in a better
condition or right than said transferees. (Potior est condition possidentis).
Such undisturbed possession had the effect of a partial partition of the coowner property which entitles the possessor to the definite portion which he
occupies. Conformably, petitioners are entitled to the disputed land, having
enjoyed uninterrupted possession thereof for a total of 49 years up to the
present.

The lower courts reliance on the doctrine that mere possession cannot
defeat the right of a holder of a registeredTorrens title over property is
misplaced, considering that petitioners were deprived of their dominical rights
over the said lot through fraud and with evident bad faith on the part of
Regalado. Failure and intentional omission to disclose the fact of actual
physical possession by another person during registration proceedings
constitutes actual fraud. Likewise, it is fraud to knowingly omit or conceal a
fact, upon which benefit is obtained to the prejudice of a third person. 17 In this
case, we are convinced that Regalado knew of the fact that he did not have a
title to the entire lot and could not, therefore, have validly registered the same
in his name alone because he was aware of petitioners possession of the
subject portion as well as the sale between Salome and Soledad.
That Regalado had notice of the fact that the disputed portion of Lot 162 was
under claim of ownership by petitioners and the latters predecessor is
beyond question. Records show that the particular area subject of this case
was mortgaged by Soledad and her husband to Jose Regalado, Sr. as early
as May 1, 1947 or one year prior to the alienation of the whole lot in favor of
the latter. Regalado never questioned the ownership of the lot given by
Soledad as security for the P400.00 debt and he must have at least known
that Soledad bought the subject portion from Salome since he could not have
reasonably accepted the lot as security for the mortgage debt if such were
not the case. By accepting the said portion of Lot 162 as security for the
mortgage obligation, Regalado had in fact recognized Soledads ownership
of this definite portion of Lot 162. Regalado could not have been ignorant of
the fact that the disputed portion is being claimed by Soledad and
subsequently, by petitioners, since Regalado even executed a Release of
Mortgage on May 4, 1951, three years after the entire property was
supposedly sold to him. It would certainly be illogical for any mortgagee to
accept property as security, purchase the mortgaged property and,
thereafter, claim the very same property as his own while the mortgage was
still subsisting.
Consequently, respondents are estopped from asserting that they own the
subject land in view of the Deed of Mortgage and Discharge of Mortgage
executed between Regalado and petitioners predecessor-in-interest. As
petitioners correctly contend, respondents are barred from making this
assertion under the equitable principle ofestoppel by deed, whereby a party
to a deed and his privies are precluded from asserting as against the other
and his privies any right or title in derogation of the deed, or from denying the
truth of any material fact asserted in it. 18 A perusal of the documents
evidencing the mortgage would readily reveal that Soledad, as mortgagor,
had declared herself absolute owner of the piece of land now being litigated.
This declaration of fact was accepted by Regalado as mortgagee and
accordingly, his heirs cannot now be permitted to deny it.

Although Regalados certificate of title became indefeasible after the lapse of


one year from the date of the decree of registration, the attendance of fraud
in its issuance created an implied trust in favor of petitioners and gave them
the right to seek reconveyance of the parcel wrongfully obtained by the
former. An action for reconveyance based on an implied trust ordinarily
prescribes in ten years. But when the right of the true and real owner is
recognized, expressly or implicitly such as when he remains undisturbed in
his possession, the said action is imprescriptible, it being in the nature of a
suit for quieting of title.19 Having established by clear and convincing
evidence that they are the legal owners of the litigated portion included in
TCT NO. 14566, it is only proper that reconveyance of the property be
ordered in favor of petitioners. The alleged incontrovertibility of Regalados
title cannot be successfully invoked by respondents because certificates of
title merely confirm or record title already existing and cannot be used to
protect a usurper from the true owner or be used as a shield for the
commission of fraud.20
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 30438 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
parties are directed to cause a SURVEY for exact determination of their
respective portions in Lot 162-C-6. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 14566 is
declared CANCELLED and the Register of Deeds of Capiz is ordered
to ISSUE a new title in accordance with said survey, upon finality of this
decision.
Costs against respondents.1wphi1.nt
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-33158 October 17, 1985


VALENTINA G. VILLANUEVA, assisted by her husband SEVERINO FERI,
ANTONIO G. VILLANUEVA, ANGEL G. VILLANUEVA and OLIMPIA G.
VILLANUEVA, assisted by her husband F. DAGUIMOL, petitioners,
vs.
HON. ALFREDO C. FLORENDO, Judge of the CFI of Cagayan, Second
Branch, ERLINDA V. VALLANGCA, CONCEPCION G. VILLANUEVA and
MACARIO K. VILLANUEVA, respondents.
CUEVAS, J.:
Petition for review on certiorari of the decision 1 dated July 14, 1970 of the
then Court of First Instance of Cagayan Branch II, in Civil Case No. 1486-A,
entitled "Valentina G. Villanueva, et al., plaintiffs, versus Erlinda V. Vallangca,
et al., defendants", the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby renders judgment
1. Ordering the reformation and amendment of Exhibit "3" by deleting
the phrase located at the western side of the lot which is five and one
half (5-) meters in width and fifteen (15) meters long';

Said spouses owned a small parcel of land with an area of 165 square
meters situated along Pres. Quezon St., in the Poblacion of Aparri, Cagayan.
Sometime in 1944, Basilia Garcia died intestate, leaving her husband,
Macario Villanueva and children (herein petitioners) as her sole and only
legitimate heirs.
On May 13, 1964, the surviving spouse, Macario, without the subject lot
having been partitioned, sold in favor of Erlinda Vallangca, the wife of
respondent Concepcion Villanueva, one-half or 82.5 square meters of the
aforementioned lot, particularly the western portion thereof, measuring 15-
meters by 15 meters, for P1,100.00, as evidenced by a Deed of Sale marked
as Exhibit "3". 2 Having been informed of the sale, petitioners signified their
intention to redeem the lot in question but respondent vendee refused to
allow such redemption contending that she is the wife of one of the legal
heirs and therefore redemption will not lie against her because she is not the
"third party" or "stranger" contemplated in the law.
Petitioners filed a complaint for rescission of sale and legal redemption of the
portion sold to Vallangca. The trial court, on July 14, 1970, rendered a
decision ordering among other things, the reformation of the Deed of Sale
and declaring the vendee the absolute owner of the subject lot.
Petitioners now submit 3 that the lower court erred

2. Declaring Erlinda Vallangca, married to Concepcion Villanueva


absolute owners of an Ideal and undivided share of one-half () of
the land described in paragraph 2 of the complaint, which was
conveyed to them by Exhibit;
3. Ordering the partition of the land described in paragraph 2 of the
complaint among the heirs of Basilia Garcia;
4. Ordering the dismissal of the defendants' counterclaim; and
5. Ordering the Clerk of Court to return to the plaintiffs the sum of
P1,000.00 deposited by them with costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioners and respondent Concepcion Villanueva are the children of
spouses Macario Villanueva (one of the respondents) and Basilia Garcia.

(1) in holding that the property sold to Erlinda Vallangca, married to


Concepcion Villanueva, is a conjugal partnership property of the spouses,
and therefore, the right of legal redemption will not lie against Erlinda
Vallangca and Concepcion Villanueva, instead of holding that Erlinda V.
Vallangca, being a "third person" or .stranger the right of legal redemption
contemplated under Art. 1620 and, or 1088 (NCC) can be exercised as
against the vendee in the sale;
(2) inordering for the formation and amendment Exh. 3 by deletion of the
phrase "located at the western side of the lot which is five and one-half
meters in width and 15 meters long" instead of annulling and rescinding the
sale as called for under the circumstances; and
(3) in ordering the partition of the property described in par. 2 of the
complaint among the heirs of Basilia Garcia, where partition is not warranted
considering that there is still pending before the same court a separate action

for partition of the same property filed by Concepcion Villanueva against


plaintiff-petitioners.
Art. 1620 of the New Civil Code provides:
A co-owner of a thing may exercise the right of redemption in case
the shares of all the other co-owners or of any of them, are sold to a
third person. If the price of the alienation is grossly excessive, the
redemptioner shall pay only a reasonable one.
Should two or more co-owners desire to exercise the right of
redemption, they may only do so in proportion to the share they may
respectively have in the thing owned in common.
It is not disputed that co-ownership exists but the lower court disallowed
redemption because it considered the vendee, Erlinda Vallangca, a co-heir,
being married to Concepcion Villanueva, and the conveyance was held valid
since it was in favor of the conjugal partnership of the spouses in the
absence of any statement that it is paraphernal in character. Within the
meaning of Art. 1620, the term "third person" or "stranger" refers to all
persons who are not heirs in succession, and by heirs are meant only those
who are called either by will or the law to succeed the deceased and who
actually succeeds. In short, a third person is any one who is not a coowner. 4 The vendee is related by affinity to the deceased by reason of her
marriage to one of the heirs and being married to Concepcion does not
entitle the vendee to inherit or succeed in her own right. She is not an heir of
Basilia Garcia nor included in the "family relations" of spouses Macario and
Basilia as envisioned in Art. 217 of the Civil Code.
Art. 217. 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.
The co-owners should therefore be allowed to exercise their right to redeem
the property sold to Erlinda Vallangca. To deny petitioners the right of
redemption recognized in Art. 1620 of the Civil Code is to defeat the purpose
of minimizing co-ownership and to contravene the public policy in this regard.

Moreover, it would result in disallowing the petitioners a way out of what, in


the words of Manresa, "might be a disagreeable or inconvenient association
into which they have been thrust." 5 Respondent seller Macario, as co-owner
and before partition, has the right to freely sell and dispose of his undivided
interest or his Ideal share but not a divided part and one with boundaries as
what was done in the case at bar. It is an inherent and peculiar feature of coownership that although the co-owners may have unequal shares in the
common property quantitatively speaking, each co-owner has the same right
in a qualitative sense as any one of the other co-owners. In other words,
every co-owner is the owner of the whole and over the whole, he exercises
the right of dominion, but he is at the same time the owner of a portion which
is truly abstract because until division is effected, such portion is not correctly
determined. 6
It appearing that a separate action for partition of the subject lot is still
pending before the CFI of Cagayan, the trial court's order of partition is,
therefore, uncalled for.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the decision dated July
14, 1970 of the then CFI of Cagayan, Br. II, is accordingly REVERSED.
Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 143868

November 14, 2002

OSCAR C. FERNANDEZ, GIL C. FERNANDEZ and ARMANDO C.


FERNANDEZ, petitioners,
vs.
Spouses CARLOS and NARCISA TARUN, respondents.

The antecedent facts of the case are narrated in the assailed CA Decision as
follows:
"An 8,209-square meter fishpond situated at Arellano-Bani, Dagupan City is
disputed by [Respondents] Carlos Tarun and Narcisa Zareno, and
[Petitioners] Corazon Cabal vda. de Fernandez and her children Oscar, Gil
and Armando, all surnamed Fernandez.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
The right of redemption may be exercised by a co-owner, only when part of
the community property is sold to a stranger. When the portion is sold to a
co-owner, the right does not arise because a new participant is not added to
the co-ownership.
The Case
The Petition for Review on Certiorari before us challenges the July 7, 2000
Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) 1in CA-GR CV No. 55264, which
reversed the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City (Branch 44) in Civil
Case No. D-3815.2 The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
"WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and a NEW ONE is
entered:
"1. Ordering the partition of Lot 2991 in the proportion stated in
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 24440, that is: Angel Fernandez,
married to Corazon Cabal 7,114.46 sqm; spouses Carlos Tarun
and Narcisa Zareno 1094.54 sqm.
"The costs of the subdivision shall be equitably shared by plaintiffsappellants and defendants-appellees.
"2. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Dagupan City to issue a
separate transfer certificate of title each to plaintiffs-appellants and
defendants-appellees corresponding to their respective shares upon
completion of the partition."3
The Facts

"The property is known as Lot No. 2991 of the Cadastral Survey of Dagupan.
It was originally covered by OCT No. 43099, subsequently cancelled by TCT
No. 24440. The brothers Antonio, Santiago, Demetria and Angel Fernandez,
together with their uncle Armando, co-owned this property to the extent of 1/6
thereof.4 It was subsequently increased to 1/5 on account of the 1/6 share of
Armando, who died single and without issue, which accrued in favor of the
five remaining co-owners.
"On June 4, 1967, Antonio Fernandez sold his share of about 547.27 square
meters to [the Spouses] Tarun (Exh. I).5 On June 18, 1967, Demetria
Fernandez, also sold her share on the same fishpond consisting of 547.27
square meters to [respondents].6 Thus, the total area sold to [respondents] is
1094.54 square meters, more or less. The two sales were registered and
annotated on OCT No. 43099.
"On November 14, 1969, the co-owners of the subject fishpond and another
fishpond covered by TCT No. 10944 executed a Deed of Extrajudicial
Partition of two parcels of registered land with exchange of shares. Among
the parties to the deed are Antonio, Santiago, Demetria and Angel, all
surnamed Fernandez.
"It was stipulated in the deed that the parties recognize and respect the sale
of a portion of Lot 2991 consisting of 1094.54 square meters previously sold
by Antonio and Demetria Fernandez in favor of [respondents]. This portion
was excluded in the partition.
"Likewise, by virtue of the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition, Angel B. Fernandez
exchanged his share on the other fishpond covered by TCT No. 10944 to the
shares of his co-owners on the remaining portion of [L]ot No. 2991 covered
by TCT No. 10945, making Angel B. Fernandez and [respondents] as coowners of Lot No. 2991.

"By virtue of the terms and conditions set forth in the Deed, TCT No. 24440
of the Registry of Deed[s] of Dagupan City, (Exh. A) was issued in favor of
Angel B. Fernandez and [respondents]. From the time the latter bought the
1094.54-square meter portion of the fishpond, they had been paying the
realty taxes thereon. However, it was Angel B. Fernandez and later on his
heirs, [petitioners], who remained in possession of the entire fishpond.
"When Angel B. Fernandez was still alive, [respondents] sought the partition
of the property and their share of its income. Angel Fernandez refused to
heed their demand. After the death of Angel Fernandez, [respondents] wrote
[petitioners] of their desire for partition but this was rejected by [petitioners].
Hence, this suit for partition and damages."7
Ruling of the RTC
On August 1, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment in favor of petitioners, ruling
that, under Articles 1620 and 1621 of the Civil Code, they were entitled to
redeem the property that they had sold to respondents. It further held that the
sale was highly iniquitous and void for respondents failure to comply with
Article 1623 of the same code.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Reversing the RTC, the CA held that petitioners were not entitled to redeem
the controversial property for several reasons. First, it was Angel Fernandez
who was its co-owner at the time of the sale; hence, he was the one entitled
to receive notice and to redeem the property, but he did not choose to
exercise that right. Second, the execution of the Deed of Extrajudicial
Partition was a substantial compliance with the notice requirement under that
law. Finally, it was too late in the day to declare the exchange highly
iniquitous, when Angel Fernandez had not complained about it. As his
successors-in-interest, petitioners were bound by the terms of the
agreement.
Hence, this Petition.8
Issues
In their Memorandum,9 petitioners raise the following issues:

"1. Whether or not petitioners are entitled to exercise their right of


legal redemption.
"2. Whether or not the transaction is one of equitable mortgage.
"3. Whether or not the deed of extra-judicial partition is void and
inefficacious.
"4. Whether or not petitioners are entitled to damages, attorneys
fees and costs.
"5. Whether or not the lower court committed grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it substituted it
surmises, conjectures and guesswork in place of the trial courts
findings of fact borne by the evidence on record." 10
This Courts Ruling
The Petition is not meritorious.
First Issue: Entitlement to Legal Redemption
Petitioners aver that the sale to respondents is void, because it did not
comply with the requirements of the Civil Code. According to them, they were
not notified of the sale, but learned about it only when they received the
summons for the partition case. They claim their right to redeem the property
under the following provisions of the Civil Code:
"Article 1620. A co-owner of a thing may exercise the right of redemption in
case the shares of all the other co-owners or of any of them, are sold to a
third person. If the price of the alienation is grossly excessive, the
redemptioner shall pay only a reasonable one.
"Should two or more co-owners desire to exercise the right of redemption,
they may only do so in proportion to the share they may respectively have in
the thing owned in common."
"Article 1621. The owners of adjoining lands shall also have the right of
redemption when a piece of rural land, the area of which does not exceed
one hectare, is alienated, unless the grantee does not own any rural land.

"The right is not applicable to adjacent lands which are separated by brooks,
drains, ravines, roads and other apparent servitudes for the benefit of other
estates.
"If two or more adjoining owners desire to exercise the right of redemption at
the same time, the owner of the adjoining land of smaller area shall be
preferred; and should both lands have the same area, the one who first
requested the redemption."
xxx

xxx

xxx

"Article 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be


exercised except within thirty days from the notice in writing by the
prospective vendor, or by the vendor, as the case may be. The deed of sale
shall not be recorded in the Registry of Property, unless accompanied by an
affidavit of the vendor that he has given written notice thereof to all possible
redemptioners.
"The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining owners."
We disagree with petitioners. True, the right to redeem is granted not only to
the original co-owners, but also to all those who subsequently acquire their
respective shares while the community subsists.11 However, it must be
stressed that this right of redemption is available only when part of the coowned property is sold to a third person. Otherwise put, the right to redeem
referred to in Article 1620 applies only when a portion is sold to a non-coowner.
In this case, it is quite clear that respondents are petitioners co-owners. The
sale of the contested property to Spouses Tarun had long been
consummated before petitioners succeeded their predecessor, Angel
Fernandez. By the time petitioners entered into the co-ownership,
respondents were no longer "third persons," but had already become coowners of the whole property. A third person, within the meaning of Article
1620, is anyone who is not a co-owner.12
In Basa v. Aguilar,13 this Court has unequivocally ruled that the right of
redemption may be availed of by a co-owner, only when the shares of the
other owners are sold to a third person. " Legal redemption is in the nature of
a privilege created by law partly for reasons of public policy and partly for the

benefit and convenience of the redemptioner, to afford him a way out of what
might be a disagreeable or [an] inconvenient association into which he has
been thrust. (10 Manresa, 4th. Ed., 317.) It is intended to minimize coownership. The law grants a co-owner the exercise of the said right of
redemption when the shares of the other owners are sold to a third
person."14 There is no legal redemption, either in case of a mere lease 15 and
if the purchaser is also a tenant.16
Equally unavailing is petitioners contention that the sale was void, because
the vendor had not sent any notice in writing to the other co-owners as
required under Article 1625 of the Code. Indeed, the Code merely provides
that a deed of sale shall not be recorded in the Registry of Property, unless
accompanied by an affidavit that a written notice has been given to all
possible redemptioners. However, it does not state that, by reason of such
lack of notice, the sale shall become void.
Jurisprudence affirms the need for notice, but its form has been the subject
of varying interpretations. Conejero v. Court of Appeals 17 held that a written
notice was still required, even if the redemptioner had actual prior knowledge
of the sale. However, in Distrito v. Court of Appeals, 18 the Court ruled that
written notice was not necessary, if the co-owner was actually aware of the
sale. While the law requires that the notice must be in writing, it does not
prescribe any particular form, so long as the reasons for a written notice are
satisfied otherwise.19 Thus, in a civil case for collection of a share in the
rentals by an alleged buyer of a co-owned property, the receipt of a
summons by a co-owner has been held to constitute actual knowledge of the
sale. On that basis, the co-owner may exercise the right of redemption within
30 days from the finality of the decision.20
Applying the presently prevailing principles discussed above, petitioners
predecessor -- Angel Fernandez -- is deemed to have been given notice of
the sale to respondents by the execution and signing of the Deed of
Extrajudicial Partition and Exchange of Shares. As correctly held by the CA,
the law does not require any specific form of written notice to the
redemptioner.21 From such time, he had 30 days within which to redeem the
property sold under Article 1623. The Deed was executed November 4,
1969; hence, the period to redeem expired on December 4, 1969.
Consequently, the right to redeem was deemed waived, and petitioners are
bound by such inaction of their predecessor. The former cannot now be
allowed to exercise the right and adopt a stance contrary to that taken by the

latter. Otherwise stated, the right to redeem had long expired during the
lifetime of the predecessor and may no longer be exercised by petitioners
who are his successors-in-interest.

Petitioners also assail the partition as lopsided and iniquitous. They argue
that their predecessor stood to lose 5,498.14 square meters under the
extrajudicial partition.

Second Issue: Sale or Equitable Mortgage?

We are not convinced. It is a long-established doctrine that the law will not
relieve parties from the effects of an unwise, foolish or disastrous agreement
they entered into with all the required formalities and with full awareness of
what they were doing. Courts have no power to relieve them from obligations
they voluntarily assumed, simply because their contracts turn out to be
disastrous deals or unwise investments. 27 Neither the law nor the courts will
extricate them from an unwise or undesirable contract which they entered
into with all the required formalities and with full knowledge of its
consequences.28 On the other hand, petitioners herein are bound by the
extrajudicial partition, because contracts not only take effect between the
parties, but also extend to their assigns and heirs. 29

Petitioners contend that the sale was only an equitable mortgage because
(1) the price was grossly inadequate, and (2) the vendors remained in
possession of the land and enjoyed its fruits. Since the property is situated
primely within the city proper, the price of P7,662 for 1,094.54 square meters
is supposedly unconscionable. Moreover, since June 4, 1967 up to the
present, the vendees (or herein respondents) have allegedly never been in
actual possession of the land.
The contention is untenable. On its face, a document is considered a
contract of equitable mortgage when the circumstances enumerated in Article
1602 of the Civil Code are manifest, as follows: (a) when the price of the sale
with the right to repurchase is unusually inadequate, 22 and (b) when the
vendor remains in possession as lessee or otherwise. 23Although it is
undisputed that Angel Fernandez was in actual possession of the property, it
is important to note that he did not sell it to respondents. The sellers were his
co-owners -- Antonio and Demetria Fernandez -- who, however, are not
claiming that the sale between them was an equitable mortgage. For the
presumption of an equitable mortgage to arise, one must first satisfy the
requirement that the parties entered into a contract denominated as a
contract of sale, and that their intention was to secure an existing debt by
way of mortgage.24
Furthermore, mere alleged inadequacy of the price does not necessarily void
a contract of sale, although the inadequacy may indicate that there was a
defect in the consent, or that the parties really intended a donation,
mortgage, or some other act or contract. 25 Finally, unless the price is grossly
inadequate or shocking to the conscience, 26 a sale is not set aside. In this
case, petitioners failed to establish the fair market value of the property when
it was sold in 1967. Hence, there is no basis to conclude that the price was
grossly inadequate or shocking to the conscience.
Third Issue: Validity of the Extrajudicial Partition

Moreover, if petitioners intended to annul the extrajudicial partition for being


"lopsided and iniquitous," then they should have argued this in a proper
action and forum. They should have filed an action to annul the extrajudicial
partition and claimed their rightful share in the estate, impleading therein the
other signatories to the Deed and not just herein respondents.
In any event, a perusal of the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition with Exchange of
Shares reveals that the partition of Lot nos. 2991 and 2924 was done equally
and fairly. Indeed, 1,641.80 square meters of Lot No. 2991 30 and 10,971.80
square meters of Lot No. 2924-B31 were originally given to all the co-owners
-- except Antonio, Demetria and Santiago Fernandez, who had already sold
parts of their share to third persons. However, Angel Fernandez agreed and
stipulated in the same Deed that he had traded his share in Lot No. 2924-B
for the entire Lot No. 2991, except the portion already sold to respondents. 32
Taking these stipulations into consideration, we are inclined to believe that
the swapping of shares by the heirs was more favorable to the late Angel
Fernandez, because his ownership became contiguous and compact in only
one fishpond, instead of being merely shared with the other co-heirs in two
different fishponds.33
Fourth Issue: Damages and Attorneys Fees

Petitioners claim that they are entitled to P50,000 as attorneys fees and
damages deserves scant consideration. It has been clearly established that
respondents are co-owners of the subject property. Under Article 494 of the
Civil Code, each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the thing
owned in common. Hence, respondents action for partition was not an
unfounded suit. Verily, it was founded on a right given by law.
Fifth Issue: Factual Findings of the CA
Petitioners insist that the CA made some factual findings that were neither in
conformity with those of the RTC nor borne by the evidence on record. They
assert that the appellate court erred in ruling that the extrajudicial partition
had been freely and willfully entered into when, in fact, Angel B. Fernandez
had been shortchanged by 5,498.14 square meters. They also contend that
the registration of the two Deeds of Sale in favor of respondents was not
valid, because it was not accompanied by an affidavit that written notice had
been served to all possible redemptioners.
We are not persuaded. We do not find any factual or legal basis to conclude
that the extrajudicial partition was iniquitous, and that the sale of Antonio and
Demetrias share in Lot no. 2991 is void. Factual findings of the CA
supported by substantial evidence are conclusive and binding, 34 unless they
fall under the exceptions in Fuentes v. Court of Appeals35 and similar cases.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 162421

August 31, 2007

NELSON CABALES and RITO CABALES, Petitioners,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, JESUS FELIANO and ANUNCIACION
FELIANO, Respondents.
DECISION
PUNO, C.J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the
decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated October 27, 2003, in CA-G.R. CV No.
68319 entitled "Nelson Cabales and Rito Cabales v. Jesus Feliano and
Anunciacion Feliano," which affirmed with modification the decision 2 of the
Regional Trial Court of Maasin, Southern Leyte, Branch 25, dated August 11,
2000, in Civil Case No. R-2878. The resolution of the Court of Appeals dated
February 23, 2004, which denied petitioners motion for reconsideration, is
likewise herein assailed.
The facts as found by the trial court and the appellate court are well
established.
Rufino Cabales died on July 4, 1966 and left a 5,714-square meter parcel of
land located in Brgy. Rizal, Sogod, Southern Leyte, covered by Tax
Declaration No. 17270 to his surviving wife Saturnina and children Bonifacio,
Albino, Francisco, Leonora, Alberto and petitioner Rito.
On July 26, 1971, brothers and co-owners Bonifacio, Albino and Alberto sold
the subject property to Dr. Cayetano Corrompido for P2,000.00, with right to
repurchase within eight (8) years. The three (3) siblings divided the proceeds
of the sale among themselves, each getting a share of P666.66.

Dr. Corrompido only released the document of sale with pacto de retro after
Saturnina paid for the share of her deceased son, Alberto, including his
"vale" of P300.00.
On even date, Saturnina and her four (4) children Bonifacio, Albino,
Francisco and Leonora sold the subject parcel of land to respondentsspouses Jesus and Anunciacion Feliano for P8,000.00. The Deed of Sale
provided in its last paragraph, thus:
It is hereby declared and understood that the amount of TWO THOUSAND
TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX PESOS (P2,286.00) corresponding and
belonging to the Heirs of Alberto Cabales and to Rito Cabales who are still
minors upon the execution of this instrument are held
in trust by the VENDEE and to be paid and delivered only to them upon
reaching the age of 21.
On December 17, 1985, the Register of Deeds of Southern Leyte issued
Original Certificate of Title No. 17035 over the purchased land in the names
of respondents-spouses.
On December 30, 1985, Saturnina and her four (4) children executed an
affidavit to the effect that petitioner Nelson would only receive the amount
of P176.34 from respondents-spouses when he reaches the age of 21
considering that Saturnina paid Dr. Corrompido P966.66 for the obligation of
petitioner Nelsons late father Alberto, i.e., P666.66 for his share in the
redemption of the sale with pacto de retro as well as his "vale" ofP300.00.
On July 24, 1986, 24-year old petitioner Rito Cabales acknowledged receipt
of the sum of P1,143.00 from respondent Jesus Feliano, representing the
formers share in the proceeds of the sale of subject property.

In 1972, Alberto died leaving his wife and son, petitioner Nelson.

In 1988, Saturnina died. Petitioner Nelson, then residing in Manila, went back
to his fathers hometown in Southern Leyte. That same year, he learned from
his uncle, petitioner Rito, of the sale of subject property. In 1993, he signified
his intention to redeem the subject land during a barangay conciliation
process that he initiated.

On December 18, 1975, within the eight-year redemption period, Bonifacio


and Albino tendered their payment ofP666.66 each to Dr. Corrompido. But

On January 12, 1995, contending that they could not have sold their
respective shares in subject property when they were minors, petitioners filed

The following month or on August 18, 1971, Alberto secured a note ("vale")
from Dr. Corrompido in the amount ofP300.00.

before the Regional Trial Court of Maasin, Southern Leyte, a complaint for
redemption of the subject land plus damages.

recognizing petitioner Rito Cabales as co-owner of subject land with similar


right of legal redemption.

In their answer, respondents-spouses maintained that petitioners were


estopped from claiming any right over subject property considering that (1)
petitioner Rito had already received the amount corresponding to his share of
the proceeds of the sale of subject property, and (2) that petitioner Nelson
failed to consign to the court the total amount of the redemption price
necessary for legal redemption. They prayed for the dismissal of the case on
the grounds of laches and prescription.

First, we shall delineate the rights of petitioners to subject land.

No amicable settlement was reached at pre-trial. Trial ensued and on August


11, 2000, the trial court ruled against petitioners. It held that (1) Alberto or, by
his death, any of his heirs including petitioner Nelson lost their right to subject
land when not one of them repurchased it from Dr. Corrompido; (2) Saturnina
was effectively subrogated to the rights and interests of Alberto when she
paid for Albertos share as well as his obligation to Dr. Corrompido; and (3)
petitioner Rito had no more right to redeem his share to subject property as
the sale by Saturnina, his legal guardian pursuant to Section 7, Rule 93 of
the Rules of Court, was perfectly valid; and it was shown that he received his
share of the proceeds of the sale on July 24, 1986, when he was 24 years
old.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the decision of the trial court. It
held that the sale by Saturnina of petitioner Ritos undivided share to the
property was unenforceable for lack of authority or legal representation but
that the contract was effectively ratified by petitioner Ritos receipt of the
proceeds on July 24, 1986. The appellate court also ruled that petitioner
Nelson is co-owner to the extent of one-seventh (1/7) of subject property as
Saturnina was not subrogated to Albertos rights when she repurchased his
share to the property. It further directed petitioner Nelson to pay the estate of
the late Saturnina Cabales the amount of P966.66, representing the amount
which the latter paid for the obligation of petitioner Nelsons late father
Alberto. Finally, however, it denied petitioner Nelsons claim for redemption
for his failure to tender or consign in court the redemption money within the
period prescribed by law.
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioners contend that the Court of
Appeals erred in (1) recognizing petitioner Nelson Cabales as co-owner of
subject land but denied him the right of legal redemption, and (2) not

When Rufino Cabales died intestate, his wife Saturnina and his six (6)
children, Bonifacio, Albino, Francisco, Leonora, Alberto and petitioner Rito,
survived and succeeded him. Article 996 of the New Civil Code provides that
"[i]f a widow or widower and legitimate children or descendants are left, the
surviving spouse has in the succession the same share as that of each of the
children." Verily, the seven (7) heirs inherited equally on subject property.
Petitioner Rito and Alberto, petitioner Nelsons father, inherited in their own
rights and with equal shares as the others.
But before partition of subject land was effected, Alberto died. By operation of
law, his rights and obligations to one-seventh of subject land were transferred
to his legal heirs his wife and his son petitioner Nelson.
We shall now discuss the effects of the two (2) sales of subject land to the
rights of the parties.
The first sale with pacto de retro to Dr. Corrompido by the brothers and coowners Bonifacio, Albino and Alberto was valid but only as to their proindiviso shares to the land. When Alberto died prior to repurchasing his
share, his rights and obligations were transferred to and assumed by his
heirs, namely his wife and his son, petitioner Nelson. But the records show
that it was Saturnina, Albertos mother, and not his heirs, who repurchased
for him. As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, Saturnina was not
subrogated to Albertos or his heirs rights to the property when she
repurchased the share.
In Paulmitan v. Court of Appeals, 3 we held that a co-owner who redeemed
the property in its entirety did not make her the owner of all of it. The property
remained in a condition of co-ownership as the redemption did not provide
for a mode of terminating a co-ownership. 4 But the one who redeemed had
the right to be reimbursed for the redemption price and until reimbursed,
holds a lien upon the subject property for the amount due. 5 Necessarily,
when Saturnina redeemed for Albertos heirs who had then acquired his proindiviso share in subject property, it did not vest in her ownership over the
pro-indiviso share she redeemed. But she had the right to be reimbursed for

the redemption price and held a lien upon the property for the amount due
until reimbursement. The result is that the heirs of Alberto, i.e., his wife and
his son petitioner Nelson, retained ownership over their pro-indiviso share.
Upon redemption from Dr. Corrompido, the subject property was resold to
respondents-spouses by the co-owners. Petitioners Rito and Nelson were
then minors and as indicated in the Deed of Sale, their shares in the
proceeds were held in trust by respondents-spouses to be paid and delivered
to them upon reaching the age of majority.
As to petitioner Rito, the contract of sale was unenforceable as correctly held
by the Court of Appeals. Articles 320 and 326 of the New Civil Code 6 state
that:
Art. 320. The father, or in his absence the mother, is the legal administrator of
the property pertaining to the child under parental authority. If the property is
worth more than two thousand pesos, the father or mother shall give a bond
subject to the approval of the Court of First Instance.
Art. 326. When the property of the child is worth more than two thousand
pesos, the father or mother shall be considered a guardian of the childs
property, subject to the duties and obligations of guardians under the Rules
of Court.
In other words, the father, or, in his absence, the mother, is considered legal
administrator of the property pertaining to the child under his or her parental
authority without need of giving a bond in case the amount of the property of
the child does not exceed two thousand pesos.7 Corollary to this, Rule 93,
Section 7 of the Revised Rules of Court of 1964, applicable to this case,
automatically designates the parent as legal guardian of the child without
need of any judicial appointment in case the latters property does not
exceed two thousand pesos,8 thus:
Sec. 7. Parents as guardians. When the property of the child under
parental authority is worth two thousand pesos or less, the father or the
mother, without the necessity of court appointment, shall be his legal
guardian x x x x9
Saturnina was clearly petitioner Ritos legal guardian without necessity of
court appointment considering that the amount of his property or one-seventh

of subject property was P1,143.00, which is less than two thousand pesos.
However, Rule 96, Sec. 110 provides that:
Section 1. To what guardianship shall extend. A guardian appointed shall
have the care and custody of the person of his ward, and the management of
his estate, or the management of the estate only, as the case may be. The
guardian of the estate of a nonresident shall have the management of all the
estate of the ward within the Philippines, and no court other than that in
which such guardian was appointed shall have jurisdiction over the
guardianship.
Indeed, the legal guardian only has the plenary power of administration of the
minors property. It does not include the power of alienation which needs
judicial authority.11 Thus, when Saturnina, as legal guardian of petitioner Rito,
sold the latters pro-indiviso share in subject land, she did not have the legal
authority to do so.
Article 1403 of the New Civil Code provides, thus:
Art. 1403. The following contracts are unenforceable, unless they are ratified:
(1) Those entered into in the name of another person by one who has been
given no authority or legal representation, or who has acted beyond his
powers;
xxxx
Accordingly, the contract of sale as to the pro-indiviso share of petitioner Rito
was unenforceable. However, when he acknowledged receipt of the
proceeds of the sale on July 24, 1986, petitioner Rito effectively ratified it.
This act of ratification rendered the sale valid and binding as to him.
With respect to petitioner Nelson, on the other hand, the contract of sale was
void. He was a minor at the time of the sale. Saturnina or any and all the
other co-owners were not his legal guardians with judicial authority to
alienate or encumber his property. It was his mother who was his legal
guardian and, if duly authorized by the courts, could validly sell his undivided
share to the property. She did not. Necessarily, when Saturnina and the
others sold the subject property in its entirety to respondents-spouses, they
only sold and transferred title to their pro-indiviso shares and not that part

which pertained to petitioner Nelson and his mother. Consequently, petitioner


Nelson and his mother retained ownership over their undivided share of
subject property.12
But may petitioners redeem the subject land from respondents-spouses?
Articles 1088 and 1623 of the New Civil Code are pertinent:
Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger
before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights
of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they
do so within the period of one month from the time they were notified in
writing of the sale by the vendor.
Art. 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be exercised
except within thirty days from the notice in writing by the prospective vendor,
or by the vendor, as the case may be. The deed of sale shall not be recorded
in the Registry of Property, unless accompanied by an affidavit of the vendor
that he has given written notice thereof to all possible redemptioners.

part of that intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives of the legislature,
is to render justice.
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance
with justice. Law and justice are inseparable, and we must keep them so. x x
xx
x x x x While we may not read into the law a purpose that is not there, we
nevertheless have the right to read out of it the reason for its enactment. In
doing so, we defer not to "the letter that killeth" but to "the spirit that vivifieth,"
to give effect to the lawmakers will.
In requiring written notice, Article 1088 (and Article 1623 for that
matter)14 seeks to ensure that the redemptioner is properly notified of the
sale and to indicate the date of such notice as the starting time of the 30-day
period of redemption. Considering the shortness of the period, it is really
necessary, as a general rule, to pinpoint the precise date it is supposed to
begin, to obviate the problem of alleged delays, sometimes consisting of only
a day or two.1awph!1

The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining owners.


Clearly, legal redemption may only be exercised by the co-owner or coowners who did not part with his or their pro-indiviso share in the property
held in common. As demonstrated, the sale as to the undivided share of
petitioner Rito became valid and binding upon his ratification on July 24,
1986. As a result, he lost his right to redeem subject property.
However, as likewise established, the sale as to the undivided share of
petitioner Nelson and his mother was not valid such that they were not
divested of their ownership thereto. Necessarily, they may redeem the
subject property from respondents-spouses. But they must do so within thirty
days from notice in writing of the sale by their co-owners vendors. In
reckoning this period, we held in Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate
Court,13 thus:
x x x we test a law by its results; and likewise, we may add, by its purposes.
It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the law, the first concern of
the judge should be to discover in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker.
Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted in such a way as to
cause injustice as this is never within the legislative intent. An indispensable

In the instant case, the right of redemption was invoked not days but years
after the sale was made in 1978. We are not unmindful of the fact that
petitioner Nelson was a minor when the sale was perfected. Nevertheless,
the records show that in 1988, petitioner Nelson, then of majority age, was
informed of the sale of subject property. Moreover, it was noted by the
appellate court that petitioner Nelson was likewise informed thereof in 1993
and he signified his intention to redeem subject property during a barangay
conciliation process. But he only filed the complaint for legal redemption and
damages on January 12, 1995, certainly more than thirty days from learning
about the sale.
In the face of the established facts, petitioner Nelson cannot feign ignorance
of the sale of subject property in 1978. To require strict proof of written notice
of the sale would be to countenance an obvious false claim of lack of
knowledge thereof, thus commending the letter of the law over its purpose,
i.e., the notification of redemptioners.
The Court is satisfied that there was sufficient notice of the sale to petitioner
Nelson. The thirty-day redemption period commenced in 1993, after
petitioner Nelson sought the barangay conciliation process to redeem his

property. By January 12, 1995, when petitioner Nelson filed a complaint for
legal redemption and damages, it is clear that the thirty-day period had
already expired.
As in Alonzo, the Court, after due consideration of the facts of the instant
case, hereby interprets the law in a way that will render justice. 15
Petitioner Nelson, as correctly held by the Court of Appeals, can no longer
redeem subject property. But he and his mother remain co-owners thereof
with respondents-spouses. Accordingly, title to subject property must include
them.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision and
resolution of the Court of Appeals of October 27, 2003 and February 23,
2004 are AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. The Register of Deeds of
Southern Leyte is ORDERED to cancel Original Certificate of Title No. 17035
and to issue in lieu thereof a new certificate of title in the name of
respondents-spouses Jesus and Anunciacion Feliano for the 6/7 portion, and
petitioner Nelson Cabales and his mother for the remaining 1/7 portion, pro
indiviso.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-44546

January 29, 1988

RUSTICO ADILLE, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, EMETERIA ASEJO,
TEODORICA ASEJO, DOMINGO ASEJO, JOSEFA ASEJO and
SANTIAGO ASEJO, respondents.
SARMIENTO, J.:
In issue herein are property and property rights, a familiar subject of
controversy and a wellspring of enormous conflict that has led not only to
protracted legal entanglements but to even more bitter consequences, like
strained relationships and even the forfeiture of lives. It is a question that
likewise reflects a tragic commentary on prevailing social and cultural values
and institutions, where, as one observer notes, wealth and its accumulation
are the basis of self-fulfillment and where property is held as sacred as life
itself. "It is in the defense of his property," says this modern thinker, that one
"will mobilize his deepest protective devices, and anybody that threatens his
possessions will arouse his most passionate enmity." 1
The task of this Court, however, is not to judge the wisdom of values; the
burden of reconstructing the social order is shouldered by the political
leadership-and the people themselves.

repurchase being 3 years, but she died in 1942 without being able to
redeem and after her death, but during the period of redemption,
herein defendant repurchased, by himself alone, and after that, he
executed a deed of extra-judicial partition representing himself to be
the only heir and child of his mother Felisa with the consequence
that he was able to secure title in his name alone also, so that OCT.
No. 21137 in the name of his mother was transferred to his name,
that was in 1955; that was why after some efforts of compromise had
failed, his half-brothers and sisters, herein plaintiffs, filed present
case for partition with accounting on the position that he was only a
trustee on an implied trust when he redeemed,-and this is the
evidence, but as it also turned out that one of plaintiffs, Emeteria
Asejo was occupying a portion, defendant counterclaimed for her to
vacate that,
Well then, after hearing the evidence, trial Judge sustained
defendant in his position that he was and became absolute owner,
he was not a trustee, and therefore, dismissed case and also
condemned plaintiff occupant, Emeteria to vacate; it is because of
this that plaintiffs have come here and contend that trial court erred
in:
I. ... declaring the defendant absolute owner of the property;
II. ... not ordering the partition of the property; and

The parties have come to this Court for relief and accordingly, our
responsibility is to give them that relief pursuant to the decree of law.

III. ... ordering one of the plaintiffs who is in possession of the portion
of the property to vacate the land, p. 1 Appellant's brief.

The antecedent facts are quoted from the decision 2 appealed from:
xxx xxx xxx
... [T]he land in question Lot 14694 of Cadastral Survey of Albay
located in Legaspi City with an area of some 11,325 sq. m. originally
belonged to one Felisa Alzul as her own private property; she
married twice in her lifetime; the first, with one Bernabe Adille, with
whom she had as an only child, herein defendant Rustico Adille; in
her second marriage with one Procopio Asejo, her children were
herein plaintiffs, now, sometime in 1939, said Felisa sold the
property in pacto de retro to certain 3rd persons, period of

which can be reduced to simple question of whether or not on the basis of


evidence and law, judgment appealed from should be maintained. 3
xxx xxx xxx
The respondent Court of appeals reversed the trial Court, 4 and ruled for the
plaintiffs-appellants, the private respondents herein. The petitioner now
appeals, by way of certiorari, from the Court's decision.
We required the private respondents to file a comment and thereafter, having
given due course to the petition, directed the parties to file their briefs. Only

the petitioner, however, filed a brief, and the private respondents having
failed to file one, we declared the case submitted for decision.
The petition raises a purely legal issue: May a co-owner acquire exclusive
ownership over the property held in common?
Essentially, it is the petitioner's contention that the property subject of dispute
devolved upon him upon the failure of his co-heirs to join him in its
redemption within the period required by law. He relies on the provisions of
Article 1515 of the old Civil Article 1613 of the present Code, giving the
vendee a retro the right to demand redemption of the entire property.
There is no merit in this petition.
The right of repurchase may be exercised by a co-owner with aspect to his
share alone. 5 While the records show that the petitioner redeemed the
property in its entirety, shouldering the expenses therefor, that did not make
him the owner of all of it. In other words, it did not put to end the existing
state of co-ownership.
Necessary expenses may be incurred by one co-owner, subject to his right to
collect reimbursement from the remaining co-owners. 6 There is no doubt that
redemption of property entails a necessary expense. Under the Civil Code:
ART. 488. Each co-owner shall have a right to compel the other coowners to contribute to the expenses of preservation of the thing or
right owned in common and to the taxes. Any one of the latter may
exempt himself from this obligation by renouncing so much of his
undivided interest as may be equivalent to his share of the expenses
and taxes. No such waiver shall be made if it is prejudicial to the coownership.
The result is that the property remains to be in a condition of co-ownership.
While a vendee a retro, under Article 1613 of the Code, "may not be
compelled to consent to a partial redemption," the redemption by one co-heir
or co-owner of the property in its totality does not vest in him ownership over
it. Failure on the part of all the co-owners to redeem it entitles the vendee a
retro to retain the property and consolidate title thereto in his name. 7But the
provision does not give to the redeeming co-owner the right to the entire
property. It does not provide for a mode of terminating a co-ownership.

Neither does the fact that the petitioner had succeeded in securing title over
the parcel in his name terminate the existing co-ownership. While his halfbrothers and sisters are, as we said, liable to him for reimbursement as and
for their shares in redemption expenses, he cannot claim exclusive right to
the property owned in common. Registration of property is not a means of
acquiring ownership. It operates as a mere notice of existing title, that is, if
there is one.
The petitioner must then be said to be a trustee of the property on behalf of
the private respondents. The Civil Code states:
ART. 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the
person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an
implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property
comes.
We agree with the respondent Court of Appeals that fraud attended the
registration of the property. The petitioner's pretension that he was the sole
heir to the land in the affidavit of extrajudicial settlement he executed
preliminary to the registration thereof betrays a clear effort on his part to
defraud his brothers and sisters and to exercise sole dominion over the
property. The aforequoted provision therefore applies.
It is the view of the respondent Court that the petitioner, in taking over the
property, did so either on behalf of his co-heirs, in which event, he had
constituted himself a negotiorum gestor under Article 2144 of the Civil Code,
or for his exclusive benefit, in which case, he is guilty of fraud, and must act
as trustee, the private respondents being the beneficiaries, under the Article
1456. The evidence, of course, points to the second alternative the petitioner
having asserted claims of exclusive ownership over the property and having
acted in fraud of his co-heirs. He cannot therefore be said to have assume
the mere management of the property abandoned by his co-heirs, the
situation Article 2144 of the Code contemplates. In any case, as the
respondent Court itself affirms, the result would be the same whether it is
one or the other. The petitioner would remain liable to the Private
respondents, his co-heirs.
This Court is not unaware of the well-established principle that prescription
bars any demand on property (owned in common) held by another (coowner) following the required number of years. In that event, the party in

possession acquires title to the property and the state of co-ownership is


ended . 8 In the case at bar, the property was registered in 1955 by the
petitioner, solely in his name, while the claim of the private respondents was
presented in 1974. Has prescription then, set in?
We hold in the negative. Prescription, as a mode of terminating a relation of
co-ownership, must have been preceded by repudiation (of the coownership). The act of repudiation, in turn is subject to certain conditions: (1)
a co-owner repudiates the co-ownership; (2) such an act of repudiation is
clearly made known to the other co-owners; (3) the evidence thereon is clear
and conclusive, and (4) he has been in possession through open,
continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of the property for the
period required by law. 9
The instant case shows that the petitioner had not complied with these
requisites. We are not convinced that he had repudiated the co-ownership;
on the contrary, he had deliberately kept the private respondents in the dark
by feigning sole heirship over the estate under dispute. He cannot therefore
be said to have "made known" his efforts to deny the co-ownership.
Moreover, one of the private respondents, Emeteria Asejo, is occupying a
portion of the land up to the present, yet, the petitioner has not taken pains to
eject her therefrom. As a matter of fact, he sought to recover possession of
that portion Emeteria is occupying only as a counterclaim, and only after the
private respondents had first sought judicial relief.
It is true that registration under the Torrens system is constructive notice of
title, 10 but it has likewise been our holding that the Torrens title does not
furnish a shield for fraud. 11 It is therefore no argument to say that the act of
registration is equivalent to notice of repudiation, assuming there was one,
notwithstanding the long-standing rule that registration operates as a
universal notice of title.
For the same reason, we cannot dismiss the private respondents' claims
commenced in 1974 over the estate registered in 1955. While actions to
enforce a constructive trust prescribes in ten years, 12 reckoned from the date
of the registration of the property, 13 we, as we said, are not prepared to count
the period from such a date in this case. We note the petitioner's sub
rosa efforts to get hold of the property exclusively for himself beginning with
his fraudulent misrepresentation in his unilateral affidavit of extrajudicial
settlement that he is "the only heir and child of his mother Feliza with the

consequence that he was able to secure title in his name


also." 14 Accordingly, we hold that the right of the private respondents
commenced from the time they actually discovered the petitioner's act of
defraudation. 15 According to the respondent Court of Appeals, they "came to
know [of it] apparently only during the progress of the litigation." 16 Hence,
prescription is not a bar.
Moreover, and as a rule, prescription is an affirmative defense that must be
pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer otherwise it is deemed
waived, 17 and here, the petitioner never raised that defense. 18 There are
recognized exceptions to this rule, but the petitioner has not shown why they
apply.
WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error committed by the respondent
Court of Appeals, the petition is DENIED. The Decision sought to be
reviewed is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-46296 September 24, 1991


EPITACIO DELIMA, PACLANO DELIMA, FIDEL DELIMA, VIRGILIO
DELIMA, GALILEO DELIMA, JR., BIBIANO BACUS, OLIMPIO BACUS
and PURIFICACION BACUS, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, GALILEO DELIMA (deceased), substituted
by his legal heirs, namely: FLAVIANA VDA. DE DELIMA, LILY D. ARIAS,
HELEN NIADAS, ANTONIO DELIMA, DIONISIO DELIMA, IRENEA
DELIMA, ESTER DELIMA AND FELY DELIMA, respondents.
MEDIALDEA, J.:

Trial Court) an action for reconveyance and/or partition of property and for
the annulment of TCT No. 3009 with damages against their uncles Galileo
Delima and Vicente Delima,. Vicente Delima was joined as party defendant
by the petitioners for his refusal to join the latter in their action.
On January 16, 1970, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of
petitioners, the dispositive portion of which states:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the following
are the declared owners of Lot No. 7758 of the Talisay-Minglanilla
Friar Lands Estate presently covered by transfer Certificate of Title
No. 3009, each sharing a pro-indiviso share of one-fourth;

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of


Appeals reversing the trial court's judgment which declared as null and void
the certificate of title in the name of respondents' predecessor and which
ordered the partition of the disputed lot among the parties as co-owners.

1) Vicente Delima (one-fourth)

The antecedent facts of the case as found both by the respondent appellate
court and by the trial court are as follows:

3) Heirs of Eulalio Delima, namely Epitacio, Pagano, Fidel, Virgilio


and Galileo Jr., all surnamed Delima (one-fourth); and

During his lifetime, Lino Delima acquired Lot No. 7758 of the TalisayMinglanilla Friar Lands Estate in Cebu by sale on installments from the
government. Lino Delima later died in 1921 leaving as his only heirs three
brothers and a sister namely: Eulalio Delima, Juanita Delima, Galileo Delima
and Vicente Delima. After his death, TCT No. 2744 of the property in
question was issued on August 3, 1953 in the name of the Legal Heirs of
Lino Delima, deceased, represented by Galileo Delima.

4) The Heirs of Galileo Delima, namely Flaviana Vda. de Delima, Lily


D. Arias, Helen Niadas and Dionisio, Antonio, Eotu Irenea, and Fely,
all surnamed Delima (one-fourth).

On September 22, 1953, Galileo Delima, now substituted by respondents,


executed an affidavit of "Extra-judicial Declaration of Heirs." Based on this
affidavit, TCT No. 2744 was cancelled and TCT No. 3009 was issued on
February 4,1954 in the name of Galileo Delima alone to the exclusion of the
other heirs.
Galileo Delima declared the lot in his name for taxation purposes and paid
the taxes thereon from 1954 to 1965.
On February 29, 1968, petitioners, who are the surviving heirs of Eulalio and
Juanita Delima, filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu (now Regional

2) Heirs of Juanita Delima, namely: Bibiano Bacus, Olimpio Bacus


and Purificacion Bacus (on-fourth);

Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3009 is declared null and void and
the Register of Deeds of Cebu is ordered to cancel the same and
issue in lieu thereof another title with the above heirs as pro-indiviso
owners.
After the payment of taxes paid by Galileo Delima since 1958, the
heirs of Galileo Delima are ordered to turn a over to the other heirs
their respective shares of the fruits of the lot in question computed at
P170.00 per year up to the present time with legal (interest).
Within sixty (60) days from receipt of this decision the parties are
ordered to petition the lot in question and the defendants are directed
to immediately turn over possession of the shares here awarded to
the respective heirs.

Defendants are condemned to pay the costs of the suit.

Neither shall there be any partition when it is prohibited by law.

The counterclaim is dismissed.

No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against his


co-owners or co-heirs so long as he expressly or impliedly
recognizes the co-ownership.

SO ORDERED. (pp. 54-55, Rollo)


Not satisfied with the decision, respondents appealed to the Court of
Appeals. On May 19, 1977, respondent appellate court reversed the trial
court's decision and upheld the claim of Galileo Delima that all the other
brothers and sister of Lino Delima, namely Eulalio, Juanita and Vicente, had
already relinquished and waived their rights to the property in his favor,
considering that he (Galileo Delima) alone paid the remaining balance of the
purchase price of the lot and the realty taxes thereon (p. 26, Rollo).
Hence, this petition was filed with the petitioners alleging that the Court of
Appeals erred:
1) In not holding that the right of a co-heir to demand partition of
inheritance is imprescriptible. If it does, the defenses of prescription
and laches have already been waived.
2) In disregarding the evidence of the petitioners.(p.13, Rollo)
The issue to be resolved in the instant case is whether or not petitioners'
action for partition is already barred by the statutory period provided by law
which shall enable Galileo Delima to perfect his claim of ownership by
acquisitive prescription to the exclusion of petitioners from their shares in the
disputed property. Article 494 of the Civil Code expressly provides:
Art. 494. No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the coownership. Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of
the thing owned in common, insofar as his share is concerned.
Nevertheless, an agreement to keep the thing undivided for a certain
period of time, not exceeding ten years, shall be valid. This term may
be extended by a new agreement.
A donor or testator may prohibit partition for a period which shall not
exceed twenty years.

As a rule, possession by a co-owner will not be presumed to be adverse to


the others, but will be held to benefit all. It is understood that the co-owner or
co-heir who is in possession of an inheritance pro-indiviso for himself and in
representation of his co-owners or co-heirs, if, as such owner, he administers
or takes care of the rest thereof with the obligation of delivering it to his coowners or co-heirs, is under the same situation as a depository, a lessee or a
trustee (Bargayo v. Camumot, 40 Phil, 857; Segura v. Segura, No. L-29320,
September 19, 1988, 165 SCRA 368). Thus, an action to compel partition
may be filed at any time by any of the co-owners against the actual
possessor. In other words, no prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner
against his co-owners or co-heirs so long as he expressly or impliedly
recognizes the co-ownership (Del Blanco v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
No. 72694, December 1, 1987, 156 SCRA 55).
However, from the moment one of the co-owners claims that he is the
absolute and exclusive owner of the properties and denies the others any
share therein, the question involved is no longer one of partition but of
ownership (De Castro v. Echarri, 20 Phil. 23; Bargayo v. Camumot, supra; De
los Santos v. Santa Teresa, 44 Phil. 811). In such case, the imprescriptibility
of the action for partition can no longer be invoked or applied when one of
the co-owners has adversely possessed the property as exclusive owner for
a period sufficient to vest ownership by prescription.
It is settled that possession by a co-owner or co-heir is that of a trustee. In
order that such possession is considered adverse to the cestui que
trust amounting to a repudiation of the co-ownership, the following elements
must concur: 1) that the trustee has performed unequivocal acts amounting
to an ouster of the cestui que trust; 2) that such positive acts of repudiation
had been made known to the cestui que trust; and 3) that the evidence
thereon should be clear and conclusive (Valdez v. Olorga, No. L-22571, May
25, 1973, 51 SCRA 71; Pangan v. Court of Appeals, No. L-39299, October
18, 1988, 166 SCRA 375).

We have held that when a co-owner of the property in question executed a


deed of partition and on the strength thereof obtained the cancellation of the
title in the name of their predecessor and the issuance of a new one wherein
he appears as the new owner of the property, thereby in effect denying or
repudiating the ownership of the other co-owners over their shares, the
statute of limitations started to run for the purposes of the action instituted by
the latter seeking a declaration of the existence of the co-ownership and of
their rights thereunder (Castillo v. Court of Appeals, No. L-18046, March 31,
1964, 10 SCRA 549). Since an action for reconveyance of land based on
implied or constructive trust prescribes after ten (10) years, it is from the date
of the issuance of such title that the effective assertion of adverse title for
purposes of the statute of limitations is counted (Jaramil v. Court of Appeals,
No. L-31858, August 31, 1977, 78 SCRA 420).
Evidence shows that TCT No. 2744 in the name of the legal heirs of Lino
Delima, represented by Galileo Delima, was cancelled by virtue of an
affidavit executed by Galileo Delima and that on February 4, 1954, Galileo
Delima obtained the issuance of a new title in Ms name numbered TCT No.
3009 to the exclusion of his co-heirs. The issuance of this new title
constituted an open and clear repudiation of the trust or co-ownership, and
the lapse of ten (10) years of adverse possession by Galileo Delima from
February 4, 1954 was sufficient to vest title in him by prescription. As the
certificate of title was notice to the whole world of his exclusive title to the
land, such rejection was binding on the other heirs and started as against
them the period of prescription. Hence, when petitioners filed their action for
reconveyance and/or to compel partition on February 29, 1968, such action
was already barred by prescription. Whatever claims the other co-heirs could
have validly asserted before can no longer be invoked by them at this time.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed decision of
the Court of Appeals dated May 19, 1977 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-57062 January 24, 1992


MARIA
DEL
ROSARIO
MARIATEGUI,
ET
AL., petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JACINTO MARIATEGUI, JULIAN
MARIATEGUI and PAULINA MARIATEGUI,respondents.
BIDIN, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision * of the Court of
Appeals dated December 24, 1980 in CA-G.R. No. 61841, entitled "Jacinto
Mariategui, et al. v. Maria del Rosario Mariategui, et al.," reversing the
judgment of the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch VIII ** at Pasig,
Metro Manila.
The undisputed facts are as follows:
Lupo Mariategui died without a will on June 26, 1953 (Brief for
respondents, Rollo, pp. 116; 8). During his lifetime, Lupo Mariategui
contracted three (3) marriages. With his first wife, Eusebia Montellano, who
died on November 8, 1904, he begot four (4) children, namely: Baldomera,
Maria del Rosario, Urbana and Ireneo. Baldomera died and was survived by
her children named Antero, Rufina, Catalino, Maria, Gerardo, Virginia and
Federico, all surnamed Espina. Ireneo also died and left a son named
Ruperto. With his second wife, Flaviana Montellano, he begot a daughter
named Cresenciana who was born on May 8, 1910 (Rollo, Annex "A", p. 36).
Lupo Mariategui and Felipa Velasco (Lupo's third wife) got married sometime
in 1930. They had three children, namely: Jacinto, born on July 3, 1929,
Julian, born on February 16, 1931 and Paulina, born on April 19, 1938. Felipa
Velasco Mariategui died in 1941 (Rollo, Ibid).
At the time of his death, Lupo Mariategui left certain properties which he
acquired when he was still unmarried (Brief for respondents, Rollo, pp. 116;
4). These properties are described in the complaint as Lots Nos. 163, 66,
1346 and 156 of the Muntinglupa Estate (Rollo, Annex "A", p. 39).
On December 2, 1967, Lupo's descendants by his first and second
marriages, namely, Maria del Rosario, Urbana, Ruperto, Cresencia, all
surnamed Mariategui and Antero, Rufina, Catalino, Maria, Gerardo, Virginia

and Federico, all surnamed Espina, executed a deed of extrajudicial partition


whereby they adjudicated unto themselves Lot No. 163 of the Muntinglupa
Estate. Thereafter, Lot No. 163 was the subject of a voluntary registration
proceedings filed by the adjudicatees under Act No. 496, and the land
registration court issued a decree ordering the registration of the lot. Thus, on
April 1, 1971, OCT No. 8828 was issued in the name of the above-mentioned
heirs. Subsequently, the registered owners caused the subdivision of the said
lot into Lots Nos. 163-A to 163-H, for which separate transfer certificates of
title were issued to the respective parties (Rollo, ibid).
On April 23, 1973, Lupo's children by his third marriage with Felipa Velasco
(Jacinto, Julian and Paulina) filed with the lower court an amended complaint
claiming that Lot No. 163 together with Lots Nos. 669, 1346 and 154 were
owned by their common father, Lupo Mariategui, and that, with the
adjudication of Lot No. 163 to their co-heirs, they (children of the third
marriage) were deprived of their respective shares in the lots. Plaintiffs pray
for partition of the estate of their deceased father and annulment of the deed
of extrajudicial partition dated December 2, 1967 (Petition, Rollo, p. 10).
Cresencia Mariategui Abas, Flaviana Mariategui Cabrera and Isabel Santos
were impleaded in the complaint as unwilling defendants as they would not
like to join the suit as plaintiffs although they acknowledged the status and
rights of the plaintiffs and agreed to the partition of the parcels of land as well
as the accounting of their fruits (Ibid., Rollo, p. 8; Record on Appeal, p. 4).
The defendants (now petitioners) filed an answer with counterclaim
(Amended Record on Appeal, p. 13). Thereafter, they filed a motion to
dismiss on the grounds of lack of cause of action and prescription. They
specifically contended that the complaint was one for recognition of natural
children. On August 14, 1974, the motion to dismiss was denied by the trial
court, in an order the dispositive portion of which reads:
It is therefore the opinion of the Court that Articles 278 and 285 of the
Civil Code cited by counsel for the defendants are of erroneous
application to this case. The motion to dismiss is therefore denied for
lack of merit.
SO ORDERED. (Ibid, p. 37).
However, on February 16, 1977, the complaint as well as petitioners'
counterclaim were dismissed by the trial court, in its decision stating thus:

The plaintiffs' right to inherit depends upon the acknowledgment or


recognition of their continuous enjoyment and possession of status
of children of their supposed father. The evidence fails to sustain
either premise, and it is clear that this action cannot be sustained.
(Ibid, Rollo, pp. 67-68)
The plaintiffs elevated the case to the Court of Appeals on the ground that
the trial court committed an error ". . . in not finding that the parents of the
appellants, Lupo Mariategui and Felipa Velasco (were) lawfully married, and
in holding (that) they (appellants) are not legitimate children of their said
parents, thereby divesting them of their inheritance . . . " (Rollo, pp. 14-15).
On December 24, 1980, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision declaring
all the children and descendants of Lupo Mariategui, including appellants
Jacinto, Julian and Paulina (children of the third marriage) as entitled to
equal shares in the estate of Lupo Mariategui; directing the adjudicatees in
the extrajudicial partition of real properties who eventually acquired transfer
certificates of title thereto, to execute deeds of reconveyance in favor, and for
the shares, of Jacinto, Julian and Paulina provided rights of innocent third
persons are not prejudiced otherwise the said adjudicatees shall reimburse
the said heirs the fair market value of their shares; and directing all the
parties to submit to the lower court a project of partition in the net estate of
Lupo Mariategui after payment of taxes, other government charges and
outstanding legal obligations.
The defendants-appellees filed a motion for reconsideration of said decision
but it was denied for lack of merit. Hence, this petition which was given due
course by the court on December 7, 1981.
The petitioners submit to the Court the following issues: (a) whether or not
prescription barred private respondents' right to demand the partition of the
estate of Lupo Mariategui, and (b) whether or not the private respondents,
who belatedly filed the action for recognition, were able to prove their
successional rights over said estate. The resolution of these issues hinges,
however, on the resolution of the preliminary matter, i.e., the nature of the
complaint filed by the private respondents.
The complaint alleged, among other things, that "plaintiffs are the children of
the deceased spouses Lupo Mariategui . . . and Felipa Velasco"; that "during
his lifetime, Lupo Mariategui had repeatedly acknowledged and confirmed

plaintiffs as his children and the latter, in turn, have continuously enjoyed
such status since their birth"; and "on the basis of their relationship to the
deceased Lupo Mariategui and in accordance with the law on intestate
succession, plaintiffs are entitled to inherit shares in the foregoing estate
(Record on Appeal, pp. 5 & 6). It prayed, among others, that plaintiffs be
declared as children and heirs of Lupo Mariategui and adjudication in favor of
plaintiffs their lawful shares in the estate of the decedent (Ibid, p. 10).
A perusal of the entire allegations of the complaint, however, shows that the
action is principally one of partition. The allegation with respect to the status
of the private respondents was raised only collaterally to assert their rights in
the estate of the deceased. Hence, the Court of Appeals correctly adopted
the settled rule that the nature of an action filed in court is determined by the
facts alleged in the complaint constituting the cause of action (Republic vs.
Estenzo, 158 SCRA 282 [1988]).
It has been held that, if the relief demanded is not the proper one which may
be granted under the law, it does not characterize or determine the nature of
plaintiffs' action, and the relief to which plaintiff is entitled based on the facts
alleged by him in his complaint, although it is not the relief demanded, is
what determines the nature of the action (1 Moran, p. 127, 1979 ed., citing
Baguioro vs. Barrios, et al., 77 Phil. 120).
With respect to the legal basis of private respondents' demand for partition of
the estate of Lupo Mariategui, the Court of Appeals aptly held that the private
respondents are legitimate children of the deceased.
Lupo Mariategui and Felipa Velasco were alleged to have been lawfully
married in or about 1930. This fact is based on the declaration
communicated by Lupo Mariategui to Jacinto who testified that "when (his)
father was still living, he was able to mention to (him) that he and (his)
mother were able to get married before a Justice of the Peace of Taguig,
Rizal." The spouses deported themselves as husband and wife, and were
known in the community to be such. Although no marriage certificate was
introduced to this effect, no evidence was likewise offered to controvert these
facts. Moreover, the mere fact that no record of the marriage exists does not
invalidate the marriage, provided all requisites for its validity are present
(People vs. Borromeo, 133 SCRA 106 [1984]).

Under these circumstances, a marriage may be presumed to have taken


place between Lupo and Felipa. The laws presume that a man and a woman,
deporting themselves as husband and wife, have entered into a lawful
contract of marriage; that a child born in lawful wedlock, there being no
divorce, absolute or from bed and board is legitimate; and that things have
happened according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits
of life (Section 5 (z), (bb), (cc), Rule 131, Rules of Court; Corpus v. Corpus,
85 SCRA 567 [1978]; Saurnaba v. Workmen's Compensation, 85 SCRA 502
[1978]; Alavado v. City Gov't. of Tacloban, 139 SCRA 230 [1985]; Reyes v.
Court of Appeals, 135 SCRA 439 [1985]).
Courts look upon the presumption of marriage with great favor as it is
founded on the following rationale:
The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of
marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it
is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the
public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the
law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in
apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any
counterpresumption or evidence special to that case, to be in fact
married. The reason is that such is the common order of society and
if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being,
they would be living in the constant violation of decency and of
law . . . (Adong vs. Cheong Seng Gee, 43 Phil. 43, 56 [1922] quoted
in Alavado vs. City Government of Tacloban, 139 SCRA 230 [1985]).
So much so that once a man and a woman have lived as husband and wife
and such relationship is not denied nor contradicted, the presumption of their
being married must be admitted as a fact (Alavado v. City Gov't. of
Tacloban, supra).

The Civil Code provides for the manner under which legitimate filiation may
be proven. However, considering the effectivity of the Family Code of the
Philippines, the case at bar must be decided under a new if not entirely
dissimilar set of rules because the parties have been overtaken by events, to
use the popular phrase (Uyguangco vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 76873,
October 26, 1989). Thus, under Title VI of the Family Code, there are only
two classes of children legitimate and illegitimate. The fine distinctions
among various types of illegitimate children have been eliminated (Castro vs.
Court of Appeals, 173 SCRA 656 [1989]).
Article 172 of the said Code provides that the filiation of legitimate children
may be established by the record of birth appearing in the civil register or a
final judgment or by the open and continuous possession of the status of a
legitimate child.
Evidence on record proves the legitimate filiation of the private respondents.
Jacinto's birth certificate is a record of birth referred to in the said article.
Again, no evidence which tends to disprove facts contained therein was
adduced before the lower court. In the case of the two other private
respondents, Julian and Paulina, they may not have presented in evidence
any of the documents required by Article 172 but they continuously enjoyed
the status of children of Lupo Mariategui in the same manner as their brother
Jacinto.
While the trial court found Jacinto's testimonies to be inconsequential and
lacking in substance as to certain dates and names of relatives with whom
their family resided, these are but minor details. The nagging fact is that for a
considerable length of time and despite the death of Felipa in 1941, the
private respondents and Lupo lived together until Lupo's death in 1953. It
should be noted that even the trial court mentioned in its decision the
admission made in the affidavit of Cresenciana Mariategui Abas, one of the
petitioners herein, that " . . . Jacinto, Julian and Paulina Mariategui ay
pawang mga kapatid ko sa ama . . ." (Exh. M, Record on Appeal, pp. 65-66).
In view of the foregoing, there can be no other conclusion than that private
respondents are legitimate children and heirs of Lupo Mariategui and
therefore, the time limitation prescribed in Article 285 for filing an action for
recognition is inapplicable to this case. Corollarily, prescription does not run
against private respondents with respect to the filing of the action for partition
so long as the heirs for whose benefit prescription is invoked, have not

expressly or impliedly repudiated the co-ownership. In other words,


prescription of an action for partition does not lie except when the coownership is properly repudiated by the co-owner (Del Banco vs.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 156 SCRA 55 [1987] citing Jardin vs. Hollasco,
117 SCRA 532 [1982]).
Otherwise stated, a co-owner cannot acquire by prescription the share of the
other co-owners absent a clear repudiation of co-ownership duly
communicated to the other co-owners (Mariano vs. De Vega, 148 SCRA 342
[1987]). Furthermore, an action to demand partition is imprescriptible and
cannot be barred by laches (Del Banco vs. IAC, 156 SCRA 55 [1987]). On
the other hand, an action for partition may be seen to be at once an action for
declaration of co-ownership and for segregation and conveyance of a
determinate portion of the property involved (Roque vs. IAC, 165 SCRA 118
[1988]).
Petitioners contend that they have repudiated the co-ownership when they
executed the extrajudicial partition excluding the private respondents and
registered the properties in their own names (Petition, p. 16; Rollo, p. 20).
However, no valid repudiation was made by petitioners to the prejudice of
private respondents. Assuming petitioners' registration of the subject lot in
1971 was an act of repudiation of the co-ownership, prescription had not yet
set in when private respondents filed in 1973 the present action for partition
(Ceniza vs. C.A., 181 SCRA 552 [1990]).
In their complaint, private respondents averred that in spite of their demands,
petitioners, except the unwilling defendants in the lower court, failed and
refused to acknowledge and convey their lawful shares in the estate of their
father (Record on Appeal, p. 6). This allegation, though denied by the
petitioners in their answer (Ibid, p. 14), was never successfully refuted by
them. Put differently, in spite of petitioners' undisputed knowledge of their
relationship to private respondents who are therefore their co-heirs,
petitioners fraudulently withheld private respondent's share in the estate of
Lupo Mariategui. According to respondent Jacinto, since 1962, he had been
inquiring from petitioner Maria del Rosario about their (respondents) share in
the property left by their deceased father and had been assured by the latter
(Maria del Rosario) not to worry because they will get some shares. As a
matter of fact, sometime in 1969, Jacinto constructed a house where he now
resides on Lot No. 163 without any complaint from petitioners.

Petitioners' registration of the properties in their names in 1971 did not


operate as a valid repudiation of the co-ownership. In Adille vs. Court of
Appeals (157 SCRA 455, 461-462 [1988]), the Court held:
Prescription, as a mode of terminating a relation of co-ownership,
must have been preceded by repudiation (of the co-ownership). The
act of repudiation, in turn, is subject to certain conditions: (1) a coowner repudiates the co-ownership; (2) such an act of repudiation is
clearly made known to the other co-owners; (3) the evidence thereon
is clear and conclusive; and (4) he has been in possession through
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of the
property for the period required by law.
xxx xxx xxx
It is true that registration under the Torrens system is constructive
notice of title, but it has likewise been our holding that the Torrens
title does not furnish shield for fraud. It is therefore no argument to
say that the act of registration is equivalent to notice of repudiation,
assuming there was one, notwithstanding the long-standing rule that
registration operates as a universal notice of title.
Inasmuch as petitioners registered the properties in their names in fraud of
their co-heirs prescription can only be deemed to have commenced from the
time private respondents discovered the petitioners' act of defraudation
(Adille vs. Court of Appeals, supra). Hence, prescription definitely may not be
invoked by petitioners because private respondents commenced the instant
action barely two months after learning that petitioners had registered in their
names the lots involved.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed decision of the Court
of Appeals dated December 24, 1980 is Affirmed.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 108547 February 3, 1997

(c) To pay the cost.

FELICIDAD VDA. DE CABRERA, MARYJANE CABRERA and FELICIDAD


TEOKEMIAN, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and VIRGILIA ORAIS DE FELICIO, represented by
her Attorney-in-Fact, ERNESTO M. ORAIS, respondents.

SO ORDERED.

TORRES, JR., J.:


Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Decision 1 of the
respondent Court of Appeals dated January 7, 1993 in CA-G.R. No. 22407CV, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court is hereby REVERSED
and judgment is hereby entered ordering defendants Felicidad Vda.
de Cabrera and Marykane Cabrera to vacate the portion of Lot 2238
occupied by them and surrender possession thereof to plaintiff.
SO ORDERED.
Reversed by the foregoing pronouncements was the decision 2 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Baganga, Davao Oriental in Civil Case No.
379, an action for "Quieting of Title to Real Property, Damages with
Preliminary Injunction." The trial court's disposition reads:
WHEREFORE, the plaintiff is hereby ordered:
(a) to execute a reconveyance within thirty (30) days after this
decision shall have become final and executory in favor of defendant
Felicidad Vda. De Cabrera corresponding only to that portion of Lot
No. 2239 actually and physically possessed and occupied by the
defendant as seen from the sketch plan of Engr. Enecio Magno (Exh.
"2") and pinpointed and identified during the ocular investigation as
to its extent and boundaries of the said portion bought by defendants
Felicidad Vda. De Cabrera from Felicidad Teokemian;
(b) To reimburse defendants for litigation expenses and attorney's
fees in the amount of P7,000.00; and

We are restating the facts as determined by the appellate court, viz:


On January 16, 1950, a Deed of Sale (Exh. B) was executed by
Daniel Teokemian and Albertana Teokemian in favor of Andres Orais
over a parcel of unregistered land situated at Abejod, Cateel, Davao
Oriental with an area described as 7.3720 hectares. The property
was owned in common by Daniel and Albertana and their sister
Felicidad Teokemian, having inherited the same from their late father,
Domingo Teokemian. However, the Deed of Sale was not signed by
Felicidad, although her name was printed therein as one of the
vendors. On January 26, 1950, the parcel of land was surveyed in
the name of Virgilia Orais, daughter of the vendee Andres Orais, and
denominated as Lot No. 2239, PLS-287, Cateel Cadastre. As
surveyed, the property had an area of 11.1000 hectares.
On June 24, 1957, Virgilia Orais was issued Free Patent No. V79089. Original Certificate of Title No. P-10908 was issued in her
name (Exh. A).
On July 27, 1972, Alberto (sic Albertana) Teokemian executed a
Deed of Absolute Sale conveying to Elano Cabrera, husband of
Felicidad Cabrera, "ONE HALF PORTION OF LOT NO. 2239. Cad287, eastern portion, containing an area of FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND
FIVE HUNDRED TEN (55,510) SQUARE METERS, more or less"
(Exh. 3), which portion supposedly corresponded to the one-third
share in Lot 2239 of Felicidad Teokemian who was not a party to the
Deed of Sale earlier executed by her brother and sister in favor of
Andres Orais, Virgilia Orais' predecessor-in-interest. It was explained
by Felicidad Cabrera that the Deed of Sale was signed by Albertana
Teokemian, not by Felicidad Teokemian, because the whole of Lot
2239 was adjudicated to Albertana in a decision of a cadastral court
dated June 8, 1965 as evidenced by a Certification of an officer-incharge of the Office of the Clerk of Court, RTC, Br. 7, Baganga,
Davao Oriental (Exh. 4). Felicidad Cabrera and her husband
immediately took possession of the western portion of Lot 2239.

In 1974 and 1978, Virgilia Orais' brothers, Rodolfo and Jimmy Orais
went to Cateel, Davao Oriental and confronted the Cabreras of the
latter's alleged encroachment and illegal occupation of their sister's
land, but no concrete action on the matter was pursued by Virgilia
Orais until February 11, 1988 when she filed Civil Case No. 379
against Felicidad Cabrera, now a widow, and her daughter Marykane
Cabrera for "Quieting of Title to Real Property, Damages with
Preliminary Mandatory Injunction."

c) The Defendants be ordered to pay the plaintiff the amount


of Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) Pesos and Ten Thousand
(P10,000.00) Pesos as litigation expenses;

The complaint, which was amended on June 22, 1988 by including


Felicidad Teokemian as party defendant (pp. 42-47, Records),
alleged that sometime in 1972 and 1973 the late Elano Cabrera and
defendant Felicidad Cabrera, knowing that Lot 2239 was already
registered in the name of the plaintiff, prepared a document of sale
and had Felicidad Teokemian sign it conveying a portion of said lot to
them as described in the Sketch Map (Annex D of the Complaint),
after which they entered and possessed said portion and enjoyed the
fruits thereon. Plaintiff further averred that by reason of the document
of sale and the declaration of the property involved in the name of
defendant Felicidad Vda. De Cabrera, there created a cloud of doubt
on the former's title on said property.

e) The document of sale executed by Felicidad Teokemian


and the Tax Declarations issued to the late Elano Cabrera
and Felicidad Vda. De Cabrera and the subsequent Tax
Declaration creating a cloud of doubt on the title,
possession, rights and interest be declared null and void for
being fraudulent and without any legal basis and inexistent;
and

Plaintiff prayed as follows:


WHEREFORE premises considered, plaintiff through the
undersigned counsel respectfully prays this Honorable Court
that:
a) After due notice and hearing, a Writ of Preliminary
Mandatory Injunction be issued restraining the defendants
from further dispossessing the plaintiff of the land in
question;
b) Ordering the defendants to pay jointly the plaintiff the
amount of not less than Sixteen Thousand Two Hundred
(P16,200) as total value of the rice produced from the
riceland in question, and the amount of Twenty One
Thousand Six Hundred (P21,600.00) Pesos as the total
proceeds of the nuts of the coconut land in question;

d) The defendants be ordered to pay Six Thousand


(P6,000.00) Pesos for attorney's fees; Four Hundred
(P400.00) Pesos as expenses for every appearance in
Court;

f) Such other reliefs and remedies which this Honorable


Court may deem just, proper, and equitable in the premises.'
In their answer with counterclaim (pp. 10-18, Records),
defendants alleged that they acquired a portion of Lot 2239
in good faith and for value; that said portion was owned by
Felicidad Teokemian who was not a party to the Deed of
Sale executed by Daniel and Albertana Teokemian on
January 16, 1950 in favor of Andres Orais over Lot 2239;
that not having signed the Deed of Sale, Felicidad
Teokemian's one-third share in Lot 2239 could not have
been legally conveyed to Andres Orais; that Virgilia Orais
(successor-in-interest of Andres Orais) committed fraud in
including the portion owned by Felicidad Teokemian in her
applying for free patent over Lot 2239 is concerned pursuant
to Art. 1456 of the Civil Code; and that plaintiff is guilty of
laches for not initiating an action against defendants to
recover the western portion of Lot 2239 despite plaintiff's
knowledge of defendant's acquisition thereof in 1972, as in
fact it was only in 1988 when the complaint for quieting of
title was filed in court.
Defendants prayed, thus:

"WHEREFORE, this Honorable Court, after due notice and


hearing on the merits of this case; to issue order or orders;

and to grant the defendants such other reliefs and remedies


proper and equitable in the premises. 3

1. Finding the defendants as the rightful, lawful, and legal


owner of that portion which was sold to them by Felicidad
Teokemian and which was included in the title of plaintiff;

On April 27, 1989, the lower court rendered judgment in favor of defendants
and against the plaintiff, ruling that the latter can no longer recover the
western portion of Lot 2239 conveyed in 1972 by Felicidad Teokemian in
favor of the late Elano Cabrera and Felicidad Cabrera due to laches. In
support of its findings, the trial court referred to the Court's pronouncements
in Lola vs. Court of Appeals 4, where it was held that although the defense of
prescription is unavailing to the petitioners, because, admittedly, the title to
the subject lot was still registered in the name of the respondent, still the
petitioners have acquired title to it by virtue of the equitable principle of
laches due to the respondent's failure to assert her claim and ownership for
thirty-two years; and in Republic vs. Court of Appeals 5 that, while it is true
that by themselves tax receipts and declaration of ownership for taxation
purposes are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership, they become strong
evidence of ownership acquired by prescription when accompanied by proof
of actual possession of the property; and in Miguel vs. Catalino, 6 that even
granting appellant's proposition that no prescription lies against their fathers'
recorded title, their passivity and inaction for more than thirty four years
justifies the defendant appellee in setting up the equitable defense of laches
in his own behalf.

2. To find that the plaintiff did not own the said portion and
that they have personal knowledge of the same when the
plaintiff filed and secured the title under the Administrative
Proceeding;
3. Finding that the plaintiff is only holding the title to that
portion only in an implied trust in favor of the real owner;
4. Finding the plaintiff legally obligated to cause the
segregation of the portion at their expense and deliver
formally the said portion to the real owners, the defendants.
5. To order the plaintiff to execute, prepare and or make any
instrument or document to finally vest in the Defendants
absolute, clear and flawless title or ownership over the
portion which the plaintiff holds title in trust in defendant's
favor.
6. To Order the Plaintiff to pay actual damages in the sum of
P2,000.00 as litigation expense and Attorney's fees in the
sum of P5,000.00 in favor of defendants;
7. To direct the plaintiff to account for the share of the real
owner of the portion of land illegally cultivated and planted
by plaintiff to rice in favor of FELICIDAD TEOKEMIAN to be
paid thru the Defendants who are the owners, which
consisted in ONE THIRD OF THE RICE HARVEST every
year since the year 1950 to 1972 when the portion was sold
and cultivated by defendant based on the computation of
income by the plaintiff in Paragraph 16, a paragraph in the
Second Cause of Action of the complaint;

The respondent Court of Appeals reversed such findings upon appeal.


Even as the appellate court observed that the registration made by the
plaintiff was fraudulent insofar as it involved the one-third interest of Felicidad
Teokemian, which was not included in the sale executed by Albertana and
Daniel Teokemian, it nevertheless upheld its effects, on the justification that
the defendants' action for reconveyance based on an implied trust had
already been barred by prescription. Furthermore, the action of the plaintiff is
not barred by laches as was held by the lower court.
Said the appellate court:
We disagree with the lower court's ruling that plaintiff is barred from
bringing an action for recovery of ownership. Parenthetically, while
the complaint filed by plaintiff is designated as one for quieting of
title, the allegations therein show that it is actually for recovery of
ownership/possession.

First. The Deed of Absolute Sale dated May 27, 1972 (Exh. 3)
executed by Albertana Teokemian in favor of Elcano Cabrera over
the portion of 55,510 square meters of Lot 2238 which allegedly
pertained to the one-third interest of Felicidad Teokemian did not
convey any title to Elcano Cabrera, assuming that Felicidad
Teokemian still owned a one-third portion of Lot 2238 which was
already registered in plaintiffs name, considering that Albertana did
not have any authority from Felicidad Teokemian to effect such
conveyance. Consequently, defendants Felicidad vda. De Cabrera
and Marykane Cabrera had acquired no title upon which to anchor
their claim of ownership over the one-third portion. Such being the
case, plaintiffs cannot be barred by laches from instituting the action
to quiet title against defendants
xxx xxx xxx
Second. There was no allegation, much less proof, that Lot 2239 had
been partitioned among the co-owners Daniel, Albertana, and
Felicidad, all surnamed Teokemian, before the land was sold to
Andres Orais in 1950 when the same was still unregistered. This
being the case, and assuming that Felicidad Teokemian had retained
ownership over an undivided one-third portion of Lot 2239 despite its
being titled in plaintiffs name in 1958, Felicidad Teokemian could only
dispose her undivided interest, not a definite portion described in the
Deed of Sale executed on July 27, 1972 (Exh. 3) as "eastern part".
Worse, the supposed vendee, Elcano Cabrera, and her successorsin-interest, defendants Felicidad vda. de Cabrera and Marykane
Cabrera, occupied the western portion of Lot 2239, not the eastern
portion which was the subject of the sale. Their occupation of a
definite portion of an undivided property, without any color of title,
could not have ripened into ownership on the principle of laches.
Third. As testified to by Jimmy Orais, plaintiff's brother, it was only in
1974 when plaintiff came to know that her property was occupied by
Elcano Cabrera. According to Jimmy, he and his elder brother Dr.
Rodolfo Orais went to the house of Elcano Cabrera three times in
1974 and in 1979 complaining of the latter's occupancy of their
sister's property. Jimmy further declared that after Elcano Cabrera
was shown plaintiffs title to the property, Elcano Cabrera proposed a
relocation survey of the area to determine whether the premises

occupied by him were included in the plaintiff's title (T.S.N. pp. 39-44,
January 3, 1989). It appears, however, that nothing came out of the
proposal to conduct a relocation survey. From the time plaintiff
became aware of Cabrera's possession of the western portion of Lot
2239, which was in 1974, up to the time she instituted the action for
quieting of title in 1988, only fourteen (14) years had elapsed. This
case, therefore, has no congruency with those cases where the
Supreme Court ruled that the registered owner is barred by laches
from recovering his property. Thus, in Lola vs. Court of Appeals (145
SCRA 439), the petitioners acquired title to the land owned by
respondent by virtue of the equitable principles of laches due,
according to the Supreme Court, to respondent's failure to assert her
claims and ownership for thirty-two (32) years.' In Miguel
vs. Catalino (26 SCRA 234), the Supreme Court said that appellants
'passivity and inaction for more than 34 years (1928-1962) justifies
the defendant-appellee in setting up the equitable defense of laches
in his behalf.' In Mejia vs. Gampomana (100 Phil 277), it was held
that "the original owner's right to recover back the possession of the
property and title thereto from the defendant has by the long period
of 37 years and by the patentee's inaction and neglect been
converted into a stale demand."
Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable
and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by the exercise of
due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is
negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time,
warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it (Tijam vs.
Sibonghanoy, 32 SCRA 29). Since imprescriptibility is one of the
basic features of a Torrens title, it is not an ordinary delay in
asserting one's right that will give rise to the application of the
principle of laches, otherwise, registered title can easily be defeated
by prescription. This is precisely the reason why, in the cases cited,
the delay or inaction by the registered owners in asserting their rights
was considered unreasonable and unexplained because it took them
from 32 to 37 years to do so. In contrast, the delay in the case at bar
was only fourteen years.
While possession of defendants Felicidad vda. De Cabrera and
Marykane Cabrera could not have ripened into ownership as already
discussed, they are possessors in good faith of the portion occupied

by them and, therefore, entitled to the benefits accorded by the Civil


Code as such. 7
Sisters Felicidad Vda. de Cabrera and Marykane Cabrera, together with
Felicidad Teokemian are now before the Court as Petitioners in this Petition
for Review on Certiorari, seeking relief from the respondent court's decision,
assigning as errors the following:

B. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDlNG THAT


LACHES DOES NOT APPLY BECAUSE WHAT WAS SOLD TO THE
CABRERAS WAS A DEFINITE PORTION OF THE COMMUNITY
PROPERTY BEFORE PARTITION, HENCE, VOID AND THAT ALBERTANA
TEOKEMIAN WHO SIGNED THE DOCUMENT OF SALE IN FAVOR OF
THE CABRERAS HAD NO AUTHORITY FROM HER SISTER-CO-OWNER
FELICIDAD TEOKEMIAN TO EXECUTE THE DEED OF CONVEYANCE. 8

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT


PRIVATE RESPONDENT'S COMPLAINT FILED IN 1988 FOR
QUIETING OF TITLE WHICH ACTUALLY IS ONE FOR RECOVERY
OF OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION AS FOUND BY
RESPONDENT COURT IS NOT BARRED BY LACHES BECAUSE:

The bone of the petitioners' contention rests on the alleged waiver of the
plaintiff to recover any interest she had in the one-third portion of the property
inherited by Daniel, Albertana and Felicidad Teokemian from their late father,
Domingo, due to the long period of time which lapsed from the time the
plaintiff's title was registered until the action for quieting of title was instituted.

1. A PERIOD OF 30 YEARS HAD ELAPSED FROM 1958


WHEN TORRENS TITLE WAS ISSUED TO PRIVATE
RESPONDENT TO 1988 WHEN HER COMPLAINT BELOW
WAS FILED DURING WHICH PERIOD OF TIME THE
PROPERTY HAS BEEN IN OPEN, CONTINUOUS AND
ADVERSE POSSESSION OF THE ORIGINAL OWNER,
FELICIDAD TEOKEMIAN, FROM 1958, OR EVEN EARLIER
IN 1941 WHEN SHE INHERITED THE PROPERTY, TO
1972 WHEN SHE SOLD IT TO THE CABRERAS WHO
CONTINUED THE PRIOR POSSESSION UNTIL 1988
WHEN PRIVATE RESPONDENT'S COMPLAINT WAS
FILED.
2. ASSUMING ARGUENDO RESPONDENT COURT'S
HOLDING THAT ONLY 14 YEARS HAD ELAPSED
COUNTED FROM 1974 WHEN CABRERAS' POSSESSION
WAS QUESTIONED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT'S
BROTHERS, STILL THAT PERIOD CONSTITUTES
LACHES.

We find merit in the petition.


At the outset, it must be observed that the Certificate of Title of the plaintiff,
which was derived from Free Patent No. V-79089, issued in the name of
Virgilia Orais, leaves much to be desired in propriety, considering that the
Deed of Sale executed by Daniel and Albertana Teokemian, on one hand and
Andres Orais on the other, did not bear the signature of Felicidad Teokemian
and therefore did not cover the latter's share.
It was the respondent appellate court which observed that "the registration of
the plaintiff's title over the subject property was fraudulent insofar as it
involved the one-third interest of Felicidad Teokemian who did not sign the
Deed of Sale in favor of plaintiff's predecessor-in-interest and, therefore, the
latter held that portion as a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of
Felicidad, pursuant to Art. 1456 of the Civil Code." 9 Needless to state, these
conclusions, being matters of fact, are entitled to our full affirmation, since
they are congruent with the findings of trial court, thus:
It would seem from the facts of the case that the basis of the right of
plaintiff over the land in litigation specifically Lot No. 2239 now titled
in the name of the plaintiff, located at Buayahon, Abejod, Cateel,
Davao Oriental, proceeded from the Deed of Sale executed by
Daniel Teokemian and Albertana Teokemian on January 16, 1950
acknowledged before Judge Proserador Danao as Notary Ex Oficio.
Taking a hard look over the aforesaid deed of sale (Exh. "B") the said
document apparently included the third heir of Domingo Teokemian

Felicidad Teokemian because her name was typewritten together


with her sister Albertana and brother Daniel all surnamed Teokemian
in the said document. Again this fact will come to mind that the
vendee Andres Orais was anticipating at the time Felicidad
Teokemian will also sell her share in this portion of land (Lot No.
2239) which at the time of the sale it was still unregistered land. The
non-signing of Felicidad Teokemian over her typewritten name in this
deed of sale (Exh. "B") will attest to the fact that she did not sell her
share in the lot in question. Alter this sale the vendee Andres Orais
through his encargado Melecio Capilitan and later Servillano Abarca
immediately took possession of the two third portion of said parcel of
land respecting the third portion owned by Felicidad Teokemian." 10
However, the appellate court stated further that nonetheless, the plaintiff's
attempt to recover the property is justified because defendant Felicidad
Teokemian's own action for reconveyance has already been barred by
prescription, 11 which is the same as stating that the very tardiness of the
plaintiff in pursuing the present action for reconveyance of the subject
property has rendered the defendants' defense nugatory, and has made the
fortress of the plaintiff's case impregnable.
This conclusion is incorrect. As can be discerned from the established facts,
the Certificates of Title of the vendees Orais are, to say the least, irregular,
and were issued in a calculated move to deprive Felicidad Teokemian of her
dominical rights over the property reserved to her by descent. Plaintiff could
not have registered the part reserved to Felicidad Teokemian, as this was not
among those ceded in the Deed of Sale between Daniel/Albertana
Teokemian and Andres Orais. It must be remembered that registration does
not vest title, it is merely evidence of such title over a particular property.
(Embrado vs. Court of Appeals) 12
The defense of indefeasibility of the Torrens Title does not extend to a
transferee who takes the certificate of title with notice of a flaw in his title.
(Anonuevo vs. Court of Appeals) 13 The principle of indefeasibility of
title is unavailing where there was fraud that attended the issuance
of the free patents and titles.(Meneses vs. Court of Appeals) 14
Be that as it may, that the right of the defendants for reconveyance of the
subject property arising from an implied trust under Article 1456 of the Civil

Code is material to the instant case, such remedy has not yet lapsed, as
erroneously submitted by the plaintiff, and, is thus, a bar to the plaintiff's
action. In the case of Heirs of Jose Olviga vs. Court of Appeals, 15 we
observed that an action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on
implied or constructive trust prescribes in ten years, the point of reference
being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the issuance of the
certificate of title over the property, but this rule applies only when the plaintiff
or the person enforcing the trust is not in possession of the property, since if
a person claiming to be the owner thereof is in actual possession of the
property, as the defendants are in the instant case, the right to seek
reconveyance, which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property, does not
prescribe. The reason for this is that one who is in actual possession of a
piece of land claiming to be the owner thereof may wait until his possession
is disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right,
the reason for the rule being, that his undisturbed possession gives him a
continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and determine
the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his own title,
which right can be claimed only by one who is in possession.
As it is, before the period of prescription may start, it must be shown that (a)
the trustee has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation amounting to an
ouster of the cestui que trust, (b) such positive acts of repudiation have been
made known to the cestui que trust, and, (c) the evidence thereon is clear
and positive. 16
In the case at bar, the defendant Felicidad Teokemian, and thereafter, the
Cabreras, were in actual possession of the property since it was left to
Felicidad Teokemian by her father in 1941, which possession had not been
interrupted, despite the sale of the two-third portion thereof to the plaintiff in
1950, and the latter's procurement of a Certificate of Title over the subject
property in 1957. Until the institution of the present action in 1988, plaintiff,
likewise, had not displayed any unequivocal act of repudiation, which could
be considered as an assertion of adverse interest from the defendants, which
satisfies the above-quoted requisites. Thus, it cannot be argued that the right
of reconveyance on the part of the defendants, and its use as defense in the
present suit, has been lost by prescription.
On the other hand, the action for reconveyance (quieting of title) of the
plaintiff was instituted only in 1988, that is, thirty years from the time the
plaintiff's husband was able to acquire Certificate of Title covering the

properties inherited by the Teokemians, and apparently including that portion


belonging to Felicidad Teokemian. In the meantime, defendant Felicidad vda.
De Cabrera and her late husband have been actively in possession of the
same, tilling it, and constructing an irrigation system thereon. This must
surely constitute such tardiness on the part of the plaintiff constituting the
basis for laches.
Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and
unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due diligence could
or should have been done earlier, it is negligence or omission to assert a
right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party
entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. 17 The
defense of laches is an equitable one and does not concern itself with the
character of the defendants title, but only with whether or not by reason of
plaintiffs long inaction or inexcusable neglect, he should be barred from
asserting his claim at all, because to allow him to do so would be inequitable
and unjust to defendant. Laches is not concerned merely with lapse of time,
unlike prescription. While the latter deals with the fact of delay, laches deals
with the effect of unreasonable delay. 18
This Court emphasized in Mejia de Lucas vs. Gampona, 19 the reason upon
which the rule is based is not alone the lapse of time during which the
neglect to enforce the right has existed, but the changes of condition which
may have arisen during the period in which there has been neglect. In other
words, where a court finds that the position of the parties has to change, that
equitable relief cannot be afforded without doing injustice, or that the
intervening rights of third persons may be destroyed or seriously impaired, it
will not exert its equitable powers in order to save one from the
consequences of his own neglect.

In our jurisdiction, it is an enshrined rule that even a registered owner of


property may be barred from recovering possession of property by virtue of
laches. Under the Land Registration Act (now the Property Registration
Decree), no title to registered land in derogation to that of the registered
owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession. The same is
not true with regard to Laches. 20 As we have stated earlier in Mejia de Lucas
vs. Gamponia, while the defendant may not be considered as having
acquired title by virtue of his and his predecessor's long continued
possession (37 years) the original owner's right to recover back the
possession of the property and the title thereto from the defendant has, by
the latter's long period of possession and by patentee's inaction and neglect,
been converted into a stale demand.
The argument that laches does not apply because what was sold to the
Cabreras was a definite portion of the community property, and, therefore,
void, is likewise untenable.
Under Article 493 of the Civil Code:
Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the
fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and even he may therefore
alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person
in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are involved. But the
effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the coowners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in
the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
In Go Ong vs. Court of Appeals, 21 this Court ruled that the heirs, as coowners, shall each have the full ownership of his part and the fruits and
benefits pertaining to it. An heir may, therefore, alienate, assign or mortgage
it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when the
personal rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or mortgage, with
respect to the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted
to him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Undisputed is the fact that since the sale of the two-third portion of the
subject property to the plaintiff, the latter had allowed Felicidad Teokemian to
occupy that one-third portion allotted to her. There has, therefore, been a
partial partition, where the transferees of an undivided portion of the land
allowed a co-owner of the property to occupy a definite portion thereof and

has not disturbed the same, for a period too long to be ignored--the
possessor is in a better condition or right (Potior est conditio possidentis).
Clearly, the plaintiff in this instance is barred from asserting her alleged right
over the portion subject matter in the instant case on the ground that their
right has been lost by laches. In Bailon-Casilao vs. Court of Appeals, we
ruled that:
As early as 1923, this Court has ruled that even if a co-owner sells
the whole property as his, the sale will affect only his own share but
not those of the other co-owners who did not consent to the sale
(Punzalan vs. Boon Liat, 44 Phil 320 [1923]). This is because under
the aforementioned codal provision, the sale or other disposition
affects only his undivided share and the transferee gets only what
would correspond to his grantor in the partition of the things owned in
common (Ramirez vs. Bautista, 14 Phil 528 [1909]). . . . For Article
494 of the Civil Code explicitly declares: "No prescription shall lie in
favor of a co-owner or co-heir so long as he expressly or impliedly
recognizes the co-ownership. 22
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the
Court of Appeals dated January 7, 1993 is hereby SET ASIDE. The decision
of the trial court dated April 27, 1989 is hereby REINSTATED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 134329

January 19, 2000

VERONA PADA-KILARIO and RICARDO KILARIO, petitioners,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SILVERIO PADA, respondents.
DE LEON, JR., J.:
The victory1 of petitioner spouses Ricardo and Verona Kilario in the Municipal
Circuit Trial Court2 in an ejectment suit3 filed against them by private
respondent Silverio Pada, was foiled by its reversal 4 by the Regional Trial
Court5 on appeal. They elevated their cause 6 to respondent Court of
Appeals7 which, however, promulgated a Decision 8 on May 20, 1998,
affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court.
The following facts are undisputed:
One Jacinto Pada had six (6) children, namely, Marciano, Ananias, Amador,
Higino, Valentina and Ruperta. He died intestate. His estate included a parcel
of land of residential and coconut land located at Poblacion, Matalom, Leyte,
denominated as Cadastral Lot No. 5581 with an area of 1,301.92 square
meters. It is the northern portion of Cadastral Lot No. 5581 which is the
subject of the instant controversy.
During the lifetime of Jacinto Pada, his half-brother, Feliciano Pada, obtained
permission from him to build a house on the northern portion of Cadastral Lot
No. 5581. When Feliciano died, his son, Pastor, continued living in the house
together with his eight children. Petitioner Verona Pada-Kilario, one of
Pastor's children, has been living in that house since 1960.
Sometime in May, 1951, the heirs of Jacinto Pada entered into an extrajudicial partition of his estate. For this purpose, they executed a private
document which they, however, never registered in the Office of the Registrar
of Deeds of Leyte.
At the execution of the extra-judicial partition, Ananias was himself present
while his other brothers were represented by their children. Their sisters,
Valentina and Ruperta, both died without any issue. Marciano was
represented by his daughter, Maria; Amador was represented by his
daughter, Concordia; and Higina was represented by his son, Silverio who is

the private respondent in this case. It was to both Ananias and Marciano,
represented by his daughter, Maria, that Cadastral Lot No. 5581 was
allocated during the said partition. When Ananias died, his daughter, Juanita,
succeeded to his right as co-owner of said property.
On June 14, 1978, Juanita Pada sold to Engr. Ernesto Paderes, the right of
his father, Ananias, as co-owner of Cadastral Lot No. 5881.
On November 17, 1993, it was the turn of Maria Pada to sell the coownership right of his father, Marciano. Private respondent, who is the first
cousin of Maria, was the buyer.
Thereafter, private respondent demanded that petitioner spouses vacate the
northern portion of Cadastral Lot No. 5581 so his family can utilize the said
area. They went through a series of meetings with the barangay officials
concerned for the purpose of amicable settlement, but all earnest efforts
toward that end, failed.
On June 26, 1995, private respondent filed in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court
of Matalom, Leyte, a complaint for ejectment with prayer for damages against
petitioner spouses.
On July 24, 1995, the heirs of Amador Pada, namely, Esperanza Pada-Pavo,
Concordia Pada-Bartolome, and Angelito Pada, executed a Deed of
Donation9 transferring to petitioner Verona Pada-Kilario, their respective
shares as co-owners of Cadastral Lot No. 5581.
On February 12, 1996, petitioner spouses filed their Answer averring that the
northern portion of Cadastral Lot No. 5581 had already been donated to
them by the heirs of Amador Pada. They contended that the extra-judicial
partition of the estate of Jacinto Pada executed in 1951 was invalid and
ineffectual since no special power of attorney was executed by either
Marciano, Amador or Higino in favor of their respective children who
represented them in the extra-judicial partition. Moreover, it was effectuated
only through a private document that was never registered in the office of the
Registrar of Deeds of Leyte.
The Municipal Circuit Trial Court rendered judgment in favor of petitioner
spouses. It made the following findings:

After a careful study of the evidence submitted by both parties, the


court finds that the evidence adduced by plaintiff failed to establish
his ownership over . . . Cadastral Lot No. 5581 . . . while defendants
has [sic] successfully proved by preponderance of evidence that said
property is still under a community of ownership among the heirs of
the late Jacinto Pada who died intestate. If there was some truth that
Marciano Pada and Ananias Pada has [sic] been adjudicated jointly
of [sic] the above-described residential property . . . as their share of
the inheritance on the basis of the alleged extra judicial settlement,
how come that since 1951, the date of partition, the share of the late
Marciano Pada was not transferred in the name of his heirs, one of
them Maria Pada-Pavo and still remain [sic] in the name of Jacinto
Pada up to the present while the part pertaining to the share of
Ananias Pada was easily transferred in the name of his heirs . . ..
The alleged extra judicial settlement was made in private writing and
the genuineness and due execution of said document was assailed
as doubtful and it appears that most of the heirs were not
participants and signatories of said settlement, and there was lack of
special power of attorney to [sic] those who claimed to have
represented their co-heirs in the participation [sic] and signing of the
said extra judicial statement.
Defendants were already occupying the northern portion of the
above-described property long before the sale of said property on
November 17, 1993 was executed between Maria Pada-Pavo, as
vendor and the plaintiff, as vendee. They are in possession of said
portion of the above-described property since the year 1960 with the
consent of some of the heirs of Jacinto Pada and up to the [sic]
present some of the heirs of Jacinto Pada has [sic] donated . . . their
share of [sic] the above-described property to them, virtually
converting defendants' standing as co-owners of the land under
controversy. Thus, defendants as co-owners became the undivided
owners of the whole estate . . . . As co-owners of . . . Cadastral Lot
No. 5581 . . . their possession in the northern portion is being [sic]
lawful.10
From the foregoing decision, private respondent appealed to the Regional
Trial Court. On November 6, 1997, it rendered a judgment of reversal. It held:

. . . [T]he said conveyances executed by Juanita Pada and Maria


Pada Pavo were never questioned or assailed by their co-heirs for
more than 40 years, thereby lending credence on [sic] the fact that
the two vendors were indeed legal and lawful owners of properties
ceded or sold. . . . At any rate, granting that the co-heirs of Juanita
Pada and Maria Pada Pavo have some interests on the very lot
assigned to Marciano and Ananias, nevertheless, said interests had
long been sadly lost by prescription, if not laches or estoppel.
It is true that an action for partition does not prescribe, as a general
rule, but this doctrine of imprescriptibility cannot be invoked when
one of the heirs possessed the property as an owner and for a period
sufficient to acquire it by prescription because from the moment one
of the co-heirs claim [sic] that he is the absolute owner and denies
the rest their share of the community property, the question then
involved is no longer one for partition but of ownership. . . . Since
[sic] 1951 up to 1993 covers a period of 42 long years. Clearly,
whatever right some of the co-heirs may have, was long
extinguished by laches, estoppel or prescription.
xxx

xxx

xxx

. . . [T]he deed of donation executed by the Heirs of Amador Pada, a


brother of Marciano Pada, took place only during the inception of the
case or after the lapse of more than 40 years reckoned from the time
the extrajudicial partition was made in 1951. Therefore, said donation
is illegal and invalid [sic] the donors, among others, were absolutely
bereft of any right in donating the very property in question. 11
The dispositive portion of the decision of the Regional Trial Court reads as
follows:
WHEREFORE, a judgment is hereby rendered, reversing the
judgment earlier promulgated by the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of
Matalom, Leyte, [sic] consequently, defendants-appellees are hereby
ordered:
1. To vacate the premises in issue and return peaceful possession to
the appellant, being the lawful possessor in concept of owner;

2. To remove their house at their expense unless appellant exercises


the option of acquiring the same, in which case the pertinent
provisions of the New Civil Code has to be applied;
3. Ordering the defendants-appellees to pay monthly rental for their
occupancy and use of the portion of the land in question in the sum
of P100.00 commencing on June 26, 1995 when the case was filed
and until the termination of the present case;
4. Ordering the defendants to pay to the appellant the sum of
P5,000.00 as moral damages and the further sum of P5,000.00 as
attorney's fees;
5. Taxing defendants to pay the costs of suit.12
Petitioners filed in the Court of Appeals a petition for review of the foregoing
decision of the Regional Trial Court.
On May 20, 1998, respondent Court of Appeals rendered judgment
dismissing said petition. It explained:
Well-settled is the rule that in an ejectment suit, the only issue is
possession de facto or physical or material possession and not de
jure. Hence, even if the question of ownership is raised in the
pleadings, the court may pass upon such issue but only to determine
the question of possession, specially if the former is inseparably
linked with the latter. It cannot dispose with finality the issue of
ownership, such issue being inutile in an ejectment suit except to
throw light on the question of possession . . . .
Private respondent Silverio Pada anchors his claim to the portion of
the land possessed by petitioners on the Deed of Sale executed in
his favor by vendor Maria Pada-Pavo, a daughter of Marciano, son of
Jacinto Pada who was the registered owner of the subject lot. The
right of vendee Maria Pada to sell the property was derived from the
extra-judicial partition executed in May 1951 among the heirs of
Jacinto Pada, which was written in a Bisayan dialect signed by the
heirs, wherein the subject land was adjudicated to Marciano, Maria
Pavo's father, and Ananias Pada. Although the authenticity and
genuineness of the extra-judicial partition is now being questioned by

the heirs of Amador Pada, no action was ever previously filed in


court to question the validity of such partition.1wphi1.nt
Notably, petitioners in their petition admitted among the antecedent
facts that Maria Pavo is one of the co-owners of the property
originally owned by Jacinto Pada . . . and that the disputed lot was
adjudicated to Marciano (father of Maria Pavo) and Ananias, and
upon the death of Marciano and Ananias, their heirs took possession
of said lot, i.e. Maria Pavo the vendor for Marciano's share and
Juanita for Ananias' share . . . . Moreover, petitioners do not dispute
the findings of the respondent court that during the cadastral survey
of Matalom, Leyte, the share of Maria Pada Pavo was denominated
as Lot No. 5581, while the share of Juanita Pada was denominated
as Lot No. 6047, and that both Maria Pada Pavo and Juanita were in
possession of their respective hereditary shares. Further, petitioners
in their Answer admitted that they have been occupying a portion of
Lot No. 5581, now in dispute without paying any rental owing to the
liberality of the plaintiff . . . . Petitioners cannot now impugn the
aforestated extrajudicial partition executed by the heirs in 1951. As
owner and possessor of the disputed property, Maria Pada, and her
vendee, private respondent, is entitled to possession. A voluntary
division of the estate of the deceased by the heirs among
themselves is conclusive and confers upon said heirs exclusive
ownership of the respective portions assigned to them . . ..
The equally belated donation of a portion of the property in dispute
made by the heirs of Amador Pada, namely, Concordia, Esperanza
and Angelito, in favor of petitioner Verona Pada is a futile attempt to
confer upon the latter the status of co-owner, since the donors had
no interest nor right to transfer. . . . This gesture appears to be a
mere afterthought to help petitioners to prolong their stay in the
premises. Furthermore, the respondent court correctly pointed out
that the equitable principle of laches and estoppel come into play
due to the donors' failure to assert their claims and alleged
ownership for more than forty (40) years . . . . Accordingly, private
respondent was subrogated to the rights of the vendor over Lot No.
5581 which include [sic] the portion occupied by petitioners.13
Petitioner spouses filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing
decision.

On June 16, 1998, respondent Court of Appeals issued a Resolution denying


said motion.
Hence this petition raising the following issues:
I. WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING
THAT PETITIONERS, AS CO-OWNERS, CANNOT BE EJECTED
FROM THE PREMISES CONSIDERING THAT THE HEIRS OF
JACINTO PADA DONATED TO THEM THEIR UNDIVIDED
INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY IN DISPUTE.
II. WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING
THAT WHAT MARIA PADA SOLD WAS HER UNDIVIDED SHARE IN
THE PROPERTY IN DISPUTE.
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS ARE BUILDERS IN
GOOD FAITH.14
There is no merit to the instant petition.
First. We hold that the extrajudicial partition of the estate of Jacinto Pada
among his heirs made in 1951 is valid, albeit executed in an unregistered
private document. No law requires partition among heirs to be in writing and
be registered in order to be valid. 15 The requirement in Sec. 1, Rule 74 of the
Revised Rules of Court that a partition be put in a public document and
registered, has for its purpose the protection of creditors and the heirs
themselves against tardy claims.16 The object of registration is to serve as
constructive notice to others. It follows then that the intrinsic validity of
partition not executed with the prescribed formalities is not undermined when
no creditors are involved.17 Without creditors to take into consideration, it is
competent for the heirs of an estate to enter into an agreement for
distribution thereof in a manner and upon a plan different from those
provided by the rules from which, in the first place, nothing can be inferred
that a writing or other formality is essential for the partition to be valid. 18 The
partition of inherited property need not be embodied in a public document so
as to be effective as regards the heirs that participated therein. 19 The
requirement of Article 1358 of the Civil Code that acts which have for their
object the creation, transmission, modification or extinguishment of real rights
over immovable property, must appear in a public instrument, is only for
convenience, non-compliance with which does not affect the validity or

enforceability of the acts of the parties as among themselves. 20 And neither


does the Statute of Frauds under Article 1403 of the New Civil Code apply
because partition among heirs is not legally deemed a conveyance of real
property, considering that it involves not a transfer of property from one to the
other but rather, a confirmation or ratification of title or right of property that
an heir is renouncing in favor of another heir who accepts and receives the
inheritance.21 The 1951 extrajudicial partition of Jacinto Pada's estate being
legal and effective as among his heirs, Juanita and Maria Pada validly
transferred their ownership rights over Cadastral Lot No. 5581 to Engr.
Paderes and private respondent, respectively.22
Second. The extrajudicial partition which the heirs of Jacinto Pada executed
voluntarily and spontaneously in 1951 has produced a legal status. 23 When
they discussed and agreed on the division of the estate Jacinto Pada, it is
presumed that they did so in furtherance of their mutual interests. As such,
their division is conclusive, unless and until it is shown that there were debts
existing against the estate which had not been paid. 24 No showing, however,
has been made of any unpaid charges against the estate of Jacinto Pada.
Thus, there is no reason why the heirs should not be bound by their voluntary
acts.
The belated act of Concordia, Esperanza and Angelito, who are the heirs of
Amador Pada, of donating the subject property to petitioners after forty four
(44) years of never having disputed the validity of the 1951 extrajudicial
partition that allocated the subject property to Marciano and Ananias,
produced no legal effect. In the said partition, what was allocated to Amador
Pada was not the subject property which was a parcel of residential land in
Sto. Nino, Matalom, Leyte, but rather, one-half of a parcel of coconut land in
the interior of Sto. Nino St., Sabang, Matalom, Leyte and one-half of a parcel
of rice land in Itum, Sta. Fe, Matalom, Leyte. The donation made by his heirs
to petitioners of the subject property, thus, is void for they were not the
owners thereof. At any rate it is too late in the day for the heirs of Amador
Pada to repudiate the legal effects of the 1951 extrajudicial partition as
prescription and laches have equally set in.
Third. Petitioners are estopped from impugning the extrajudicial partition
executed by the heirs of Jacinto Pada after explicitly admitting in their Answer
that they had been occupying the subject property since 1960 without ever
paying any rental as they only relied on the liberality and tolerance of the
Pada family.25 Their admissions are evidence of a high order and bind them

insofar as the character of their possession of the subject property is


concerned.
Considering that petitioners were in possession of the subject property by
sheer tolerance of its owners, they knew that their occupation of the
premises may be terminated any time. Persons who occupy the land of
another at the latter's tolerance or permission, without any contract between
them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that they will vacate the
same upon demand, failing in which a summary action for ejectment is the
proper remedy against them.26 Thus, they cannot be considered possessors
nor builders in good faith. It is well-settled that both Article 448 27 and Article
54628 of the New Civil Code which allow full reimbursement of useful
improvements and retention of the premises until reimbursement is made,
apply only to a possessor in good faith,i.e., one who builds on land with the
belief that he is the owner thereof. 29 Verily, persons whose occupation of a
realty is by sheer tolerance of its owners are not possessors in good faith.
Neither did the promise of Concordia, Esperanza and Angelito Pada that they
were going to donate the premises to petitioners convert them into builders in
good faith for at the time the improvements were built on the premises, such
promise was not yet fulfilled, i.e., it was a mere expectancy of ownership that
may or may not be realized. 30 More importantly, even as that promise was
fulfilled, the donation is void for Concordia, Esperanza and Angelito Pada
were not the owners of Cadastral Lot No. 5581. As such, petitioners cannot
be said to be entitled to the value of the improvements that they built on the
said lot.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is HEREBY DENIED.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 133345

March 9, 2000

JOSEFA CH. MAESTRADO, as substituted by her daughter LOURDES


MAESTRADO-LAVIA and CARMEN CH. ABAYA, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, Ninth Division and JESUS C.
ROA, JR., RAMON P. CHAVES and NATIVIDAD S. SANTOS, respondents.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 133324

To settle the estate of the said deceased spouses, Angel Chaves initiated
intestate proceedings 3 in the Court of First Instance of Manila and was
appointed administrator of said estates in the process. An inventory of the
estates was made and thereafter, the heirs agreed on a project of partition.
Thus, they filed an action for partition 4 before the Court of First Instance of
Misamis Oriental. The court appointed Hernando Roa, husband of Amparo
Chaves-Roa, as receiver. On June 6, 1956, the court rendered a decision
approving the project of partition. However, the records of said case are
missing and although respondents claimed otherwise, they failed to present a
copy of said decision.

March 9, 2000

JOSEFA CHAVES MAESTRADO and CARMEN CHAVES


ABAYA, petitioners,
vs.
JESUS C. ROA, JR., RAMON P. CHAVES and NATIVIDAD S.
SANTOS, respondents.
DE LEON, JR. J.:
Before us are two (2) consolidated petitions for review on certiorari of the
Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals 2dated November 28, 1997 declaring Lot
No. 5872, located in Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City, as common property
of the heirs of the deceased spouses, Ramon and Rosario Chaves, and
ordering its equal division among all the co-owners. The Court of Appeals
affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23 of Cagayan de
Oro City, which dismissed petitioners' action against the private respondents
for Quieting of Title over the said lot.
The pertinent facts are the following:
These consolidated cases involve the status of Lot No. 5872 and the rights of
the contending parties thereto. The said lot which has an area of 57.601
square meters, however, is still registered in the name of the deceased
spouses Ramon and Rosario Chaves. The spouses Ramon and Rosario died
intestate in 1943 and 1944, respectively. They were survived by the following
heirs, namely: Carmen Chaves-Abaya, Josefa Chaves-Maestrado, Angel
Chaves, Amparo Chaves-Roa, Concepcion Chaves-Sanvictores and
Salvador Chaves.

This notwithstanding, the estate was actually divided in this wise: (1) Lot No.
3046 situated in Bulalong, Cagayan de Oro City, consisting of 44 hectares of
coconut land was distributed equally among four (4) heirs, namely: (a)
Concepcion Chaves-Sanvictores; (b) Angel Chaves; (c) Amparo ChavesRoa; and (d) Ramon Chaves, while (2) Lot Nos. 5925, 5934, 1327 and 5872,
all located in Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City and consisting of an
aggregate area of 14 hectares was distributed equally between petitioners
(a) Josefa Chaves-Maestrado; and (b) Carmen Chaves-Abaya.
At the time of the actual partition, Salvador Chaves had already died. His
share was given to his only son, Ramon, who is the namesake of Salvador's
father. In 1956, the year the partition case was decided and effected, receiver
Hernando Roa delivered the respective shares of said heirs in accordance
with the above scheme. Subsequently, Concepcion sold her share to Angel,
while Ramon sold his share to Amparo. Hence, one-half (1/2) of Lot No. 3046
went to Angel and the other half to Amparo.1wphi1.nt
Significantly, Lot No. 5872 was not included in any of the following
documents: (1) the inventory of properties of the estate submitted to the court
in the proceedings for the settlement of said estate; (2) the project of partition
submitted to the court for approval; (3) the properties receiver Hernando Roa
had taken possession of, which he listed in the "Constancia" submitted to the
court; and (4) the court order approving the partition. Decedent Ramon
Chaves acquired Lot No. 5872 from Felomino Bautista, Sr. but he
subsequently delivered it to the spouses Hernando Roa and Amparo
Chaves-Roa. 5 It was thereafter delivered to petitioners during the actual
partition in 1956, and petitioners have been in possession of the same since
then.

As to the omission of Lot No. 5872 in the inventory and project of partition,
the parties offer different explanations. Respondents claim that due to the
series of involving the said lot, the heirs were unsure if it belonged to the
decedents' estate at all. As a result they deferred its inclusion in the inventory
of the properties of the estate as well as its distribution pending the
investigation of its status. In fact, administrator Angel Chaves filed a motion
in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate to include the said lot in
the inventory but the court did not act on it. Petitioners, on the other hand,
insist that the omission was inadvertent and the inaction of the court on the
motion was due to the compromise agreement entered into by the heirs. 6
Petitioners' thesis consists of the existence of an oral partition agreement
entered into by all heirs soon after the death of their parents. The proposed
project of partition was allegedly based on it but the court's order of partition
failed to embody such oral agreement due to the omission of Lot No. 5872.
For some reason, however, the actual partition of the estate conformed to the
alleged oral agreement.
Petitioners claim that they failed to notice the non-inclusion of Lot No. 5872 in
the court's order. They only realized such fact after the death in 1976 of
Silvino Maestrado, the husband of petitioner Josefa. They discovered among
Silvino's belongings, the partition order and found out that Lot No 5872 was
not included therein. 7
In an effort to set things right, petitioners prepared a quitclaim to confirm the
alleged or a agreement. On August 16, 1977, Angel, Concepcion and Ramon
signed a notarized quitclaim in favor of petitioners. Amparo was unable to
sign because she had an accident and had passed away on the following
day. It was her heirs who signed a similarly worded and notarized quitclaim
on September 8, 1977. 8
Respondents dispute the voluntariness of their consent or the consent of
their predecessors-in-interest to the quitclaims. Ramon claims to have been
betrayed by his lawyer, Francisco Velez, who is the son-in-law of petitioner
Josefa Maestrado. He allegedly signed the quitclaim without reading it
because his lawyer had already read it. He believed that since his lawyer
was protecting his interest, it was all right to sign it after hearing no
objections from said lawyer. On the other hand, Angel signed the quitclaim
"out of respect" for petitioners. On the other hand, Concepcion signed
because she was misled by alleged misrepresentations in the "Whereas

Clauses" of the quitclaim to the effect that the lot was inadvertently omitted
and not deliberately omitted due to doubts on its status. 9
Six (6) years after the execution of the quitclaims, respondents discovered
that Lot No. 5872 is still in the name of the deceased spouses Ramon and
Rosario Chaves. Thus, on October 14, 1983, respondent Ramon Chaves,
sole heir of Salvador Chaves, and respondent Jesus Roa, son of Amparo
Chaves-Roa, wrote a letter to their uncle Angel Chaves to inform him of that
said property which they claim to belong to the estate of their deceased
grandparents, has not yet been distributed to the concerned heirs. Hence,
they requested Angel Chaves to distribute and deliver it to the heirs. 10 On
October 24, 1983, respondent Natividad Santos, daughter and attorney-infact of Concepcion Chaves-Sanvictores, also wrote a similar letter to Angel
Chaves. On December 1, 1983, Angel Chaves transmitted the said letters to
petitioner Carmen Abaya and requested her to respond.
In response, petitioners filed, on December 22, 1983, an action for Quieting
of Title 11 against respondents in the Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro.
On April 10, 1995, the trial court rendered its Decision in favor of
respondents, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
In view of these facts, the court therefore considers the property, Lot
5872 still common property. Consequently, the property must be
divided in six (6) parts, there being six heirs. But since the group of
Jesus Roa already quitclaimed in favor of plaintiffs and the same is
true with Angel Chaves, the defendants Natividad Santos and
Ramon Chaves shall receive one-sixth (1/6) each out of Lot 5872
and the balance will be divided equally by the plaintiffs JosefaChaves-Maestrado represented by her daughters and the other half
to Carmen Chaves-Abaya.
With no other pronouncements.
SO ORDERED.
The petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals which in a Decision,
promulgated on November 28, 1997, sustained the said Decision of the trial
court, in this wise:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the Decision dated


April 10, 1995 subject of the appeal, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
Costs against the plaintiffs-appellants.

IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL


COURT'S CONCLUSION THAT PETITIONERS HAVE NO
CAPACITY TO SUE FOR QUIETING OF TITLE OR REMOVAL OF
CLOUD THEREON ON THE BASIS ALONE THAT PETITIONERS
ARE NOT THE REGISTERED OWNERS OF LOT 5872;

SO ORDERED.
On May 29, 1998, petitioner Lourdes Maestrado-Lavina, in substitution of her
deceased mother Josefa Chaves-Maestrado, fled a petition for review
on certiorari with this Court. 12 Petitioner Carmen Chaves-abaya also filed her
own petition for review on certiorari on June 1, 1998. 13 Since the two
petitions involve the same facts and issues, we decided in a Resolution 14 to
consolidate the said cases.
Petitioner Maestrado-Lavina assigns the following errors:
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL
COURT'S DECISION DECLARING LOT 5872 AS STILL COMMON
PROPERTY, THEREBY EFFECTIVELY NULLIFYING THE VERBAL
PARTITION AGREEMENT REACHED AND IMPLEMENTED BY
THE CHILDREN/HEIRS OF DECEDENTS RAMON AND ROSARIO
CHAVES WAY BACK IN 1956;
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL
COURT'S DECISION DECLARING LOT 5872 AS STILL COMMON
PROPERTY UPON ITS CONCLUSION THAT THE SIGNATURES
OF RESPONDENTS ON THE DULY NOTARIZED QUITCLAIMS
WERE OBTAINED THROUGH FRAUD;
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ITS LEGAL
CONCLUSION THAT, ON THE BASIS ALONE OF THE CLAIMS
THAT (A) RAMON CHAVES SIGNED THE QUITCLAIM WITHOUT
READING IT; AND THAT (B) ANGEL CHAVES SIGNED THE
QUITCLAIM OUT OF RESPECT, THERE WAS FRAUD AS WOULD
VITIATE RESPONDENTS CONSENT TO THE QUITCLAIMS;

V. IT BEING UNDISPUTED THAT THE FACTS GIVING RISE TO


CLOUD ON JOSEFA'S AND CARMEN'S OWNERSHIP OVER LOT
5872 SURFACED ONLY IN 1983 AND PETITIONERS FILED THE
CORRESPONDING ACTION TO QUIET TITLE OR REMOVE
CLOUD THEREON ALSO IN 1983, THE COURT OF APPEALS
ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURT'S CONCLUSION THAT
PETITIONERS ARE GUILTY OF LACHES. 15
Petitioner Carmen Chaves-Abaya, on the other hand, assigns the following
errors:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A CLEAR
ERROR IN THE INTERPRETATION OF LAW IN HOLDING THAT
THERE WAS FRAUD IN OBTAINING THE CONSENT OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENT RAMON P. CHAVES AND CONCEPCION CHAVES
SANVICTORES, THE MOTHER OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT
NATIVIDAD SANTOS, TO THE DEEDS OF QUITCLAIM;
II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING
THAT THE ACTION FOR QUIETING OF TITLE WAS NOT
BROUGHT BY THE PERSON IN WHOSE NAME THE TITLE IS
ISSUED;
III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING
THAT PETITIONERS WERE GUILTY OF LACHES FOR HAVING
SLEPT ON THEIR RIGHTS FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS. 16
We grant the consolidated petitions, the same being impressed with merit.
First. Petitioners are proper parties to bring an action for quieting of title.
Persons having legal as well as equitable title to or interest in a real property
may bring such action and "title" here does not necessarily denote a
certificate of title issued in favor of the person filing the suit. 17 Moreover, if
the plaintiff in an action for quieting of title is in possession of the property

being litigated, such action is imprescriptible. 18 One who is in actual


possession of a land, claiming to be the owner thereof may wait until his
possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate
his right because his undisturbed possession gives him a continuing right to
seek the aid of the courts to ascertain the nature of the adverse claim and its
effects on his title. 19
Although prescription and laches are distinct concepts, we have held,
nonetheless, that in some instances, the doctrine of laches is inapplicable
where the action was filed within the prescriptive period provided by
law. 20Thus, laches does not apply in this case because petitioners'
possession of the subject lot has rendered their right to bring an action for
quieting of title imprescriptible and, hence, not barred by laches. Moreover,
since laches is a creation of equity, acts or conduct alleged to constitute the
same must be intentional and unequivocal so as to avoid injustice. 21 Laches
operates not really to penalize neglect or sleeping on one's rights, but rather
to avoid recognizing a right when to do so would result in a clearly
inequitable situation. 22
In the case at bench, the cloud on petitioners' title to the subject property
came about only on December 1, 1983 when Angel Chaves transmitted
respondents' letters to petitioners, while petitioners' action was filed on
December 22, 1983. Clearly, no laches could set in under the circumstances
since petitioners were prompt and vigilant in protecting their rights.
Second. Lot No. 5872 is no longer common property of the heirs of the
deceased spouses Ramon and Rosario Chaves. Petitioners' ownership over
said lot was acquired by reason of the oral partition agreed upon by the
deceased spouses' heirs sometime before 1956. That oral agreement was
confirmed by the notarized quitclaims executed by the said heirs on August
16, 1977 and September 8, 1977, supra.
It appeared that the decision in Civil Case No. 867, which ordered the
partition of the decedents' estate, was not presented by either party thereto.
The existence of the oral partition together with the said quitclaims is the
bone of contention in this case. It appeared, however, that the actual partition
of the estate conformed to the alleged oral partition despite a contrary court
order. Despite claims of private respondents that Lot No. 5872 was
mistakenly delivered to the petitioners, nothing was done to rectify it for a
period of twenty-seven (27) years from 1983.

We are convinced, however, that there was indeed an oral agreement of


partition entered into by the heirs/parties. This is the only way we can make
sense out of the actual partition of the properties of the estate despite claims
that a court order provided otherwise. Prior to the actual partition, petitioners
were not in possession of Lot. No. 5872 but for some reason or another, it
was delivered to them. From 1956, the year of the actual partition of the
estate of the deceased Chaves spouses, until 1983, no one among the heirs
questioned petitioners' possession of or ownership over said Lot No. 5872.
Hence, we are convinced that there was indeed an oral agreement of
partition among the said heirs and the distribution of the properties was
consistent with such oral agreement. In any event, the parties had plenty of
time to rectify the situation but no such move was done until 1983.
A possessor or real estate property is presumed to have title thereto unless
the adverse claimant establishes a better right. 23 In the instant case it is the
petitioners, being the possessors of Lot No. 5872, who have established a
superior right thereto by virtue of the oral partition which was also confirmed
by the notarized quitclaims of the heirs.
Partition is the separation, division and assignment of a thing held in
common among those to whom it may belong. 24 If may be effected extrajudicially by the heirs themselves through a public instrument filed before the
register of deeds. 25
However, as between the parties, a public instrument is neither constitutive
nor an inherent element of a contract of partition. 26 Since registration serves
as constructive notice to third persons, an oral partition by the heirs is valid if
no creditors are affected. 27 Moreover, even the requirement of a written
memorandum under the statute of frauds does not apply to partitions effected
by the heirs where no creditors are involved considering that such
transaction is not a conveyance of property resulting in change of ownership
but merely a designation and segregation of that part which belongs to each
heir. 28
Nevertheless, respondent court was convinced that Lot No. 5872 is still
common property of the heirs of the deceased spouses Ramon and Rosario
Chaves because the TCT covering the said property is still registered in the
name of the said deceased spouses. unfortunately, respondent court was
oblivious to the doctrine that the act of registration of a voluntary instrument
is the operative act which conveys or affects registered land insofar as third

persons are concerned. Hence, even without registration, the contract is still
valid as between the parties. 29In fact, it has been recently held and reiterated
by this Court that neither a Transfer Certificate of Title nor a subdivision plan
is essential to the validity of an oral partition. 30
In sum, the most persuasive circumstance pointing to the existence of the
oral partition is the fact that the terms of the actual partition and distribution of
the estate are identical to the sharing scheme in the oral partition.. No one
among the heirs disturbed this status quo for a period of twenty-seven (27)
years.
Final. The said notarized quitclaims signed by the heirs in favor of petitioners
are not vitiated by fraud.1wphi1 Hence, they are valid.
Since the oral partition has been duly established, the notarized quitclaims
confirmed such prior oral agreement as well as the petitioners' title of
ownership over the subject Lot No. 5872. More importantly, independent of
such oral partition, the quitclaims in the instant case are valid contracts of
waiver of property rights.
The freedom to enter into contracts, such as the quitclaims in the instant
case, is protected by law 31 and the courts are not quick to interfere with such
freedom unless the contract is contrary to law, morals, good customs, public
policy or public order. 32 Quitclaims, being contracts of waiver, involve the
relinquishment of rights, with knowledge of their existence and intent to
relinquish them. 33 The intent to waive rights must be clearly and convincingly
shown. Moreover, when the only proof of intent is the act of a party, such act
should be manifestly consistent and indicative of an intent to voluntarily
relinquish a particular right such that no other reasonable explanation of his
conduct is possible. 34

In the instant case, the terms of the subject quitclaims dated August 16, 1977
and September 8, 1977 are clear; and the heirs signatures thereon have no
other significance but their conformity thereto resulting in a valid waiver of
property rights. 35 Herein respondents quite belatedly and vainly attempted to
invoke alleged fraud in the execution of the said quitclaims but we are not
convinced. In other words, the said quitclaims being duly notarized and
acknowledged before a notary public, deserve full credence and are valid
and enforceable in the absence of overwhelming evidence to the
contrary. 36 In the case at bench, it is our view and we hold that the execution
of the said quitclaims was not fraudulent.
Fraud refers to all kinds of deception, whether through insidious machination,
manipulation, concealment or misrepresentation to lead another party into
error. 37 The deceit employed must be serious. It must be sufficient to impress
or lead an ordinarily prudent person into error, taking into account the
circumstances of each case. 38Silence or concealment, by itself, does not
constitute fraud, unless there is a special duty to disclose certain
facts.39 Moreover, the bare existence of confidential relation between the
parties, standing alone, does not raise the presumption of fraud. 40
Dolo causante or fraud which attends the execution of a contract is an
essential cause that vitiates consent and hence, it is a ground for the
annulment of a contract. 41 Fraud is never presumed, otherwise, courts would
be indulging in speculations and surmises. 42 It must be established by clear
and convincing evidence but it was not so in the case at bench. A mere
preponderance of evidence is not even adequate to prove fraud. 43
The instances of fraud allegedly committed in the case at bench are not the
kind of fraud contemplated by law. On the contrary, they constitute mere
carelessness in the conduct of the affairs of the heirs concerned. We have
consistently denied relief to a party who seeks to avoid the performance of
an obligation voluntarily assumed because they turned out to be disastrous
or unwise contracts, even if there was a mistake of law or fact. 44Moreover,
we do not set aside contracts merely because solicitation, importunity,
argument, persuasion or appeal to affection were used to obtain the consent
of the other party. 45
In a nutshell, the quitclaims dated August 16, 1977 and September 8, 1977 in
the case at bench are valid, duly confirmed and undeniably established the
title of ownership of the petitioners over the subject Lot No. 5872.

WHEREFORE, the instant consolidated petitions are GRANTED. The


Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated November 28, 1997, is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petitioners' action praying for the quieting
of their title of ownership over Lot No. 5872, located in Kauswagan, Cagayan
de Oro, is granted. Costs against respondents.1wphi1.nt
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 122047

October 12, 2000

SPOUSES SERAFIN SI AND ANITA BONODE SI, petitioners,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, SPOUSES JOSE ARMADA and REMEDIOS
ALMANZOR (deceased, and substituted by heirs: Cynthia Armada,
Danilo Armada and Vicente Armada) respondents.

5) The defendants-appellees are jointly and severally ordered to pay


the plaintiffs-appellants the sum of P10,000.00 as moral damages.
6) The defendants-appellees are jointly and severally ordered to pay
the plaintiff-appellants the sum of P10,000.00 as attorney's fees and
litigation expenses and costs of suit.
SO ORDERED."3

DECISION
The factual background of the case is as follows:
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for certiorari under Rule 45 assails the Decision1 dated March
25, 1994, of the Court of Appeals and its Resolutions 2 dated March 24, 1995
and September 6, 1995 in CA-G.R. CV No. 30727. The Court of Appeals
reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 113,
and nullified the sale of the subject lot by the spouses Crisostomo and
Cresenciana Armada to spouses Serafin and Anita Si. The dispositive portion
of the respondent court's decision reads:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is
hereby REVERSED, and a new one is rendered:
1) Annulling and declaring as invalid the registration of the Deed of
Absolute Sale dated March 27, 1979 executed by Cresenciana V.
Alejo in favor of Anita Bonode Si.
2) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pasay City to annul and cancel
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 24751, issued in the name of Anita
Bonode Si, married to Serafin D. Si., Jose R. Armada, married to
Remedios Almanzor and Dr. Severo R. Armada Jr., single.
3) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pasay City to reconstitute and
revive Transfer Certificate of Title No. 16007 in the names of Jose,
Crisostomo and Severo, Jr.
4) That plaintiffs be allowed to repurchase or redeem the share
corresponding to the share of Crisostomo Armada within thirty (30)
days from notice in writing by Crisostomo Armada.

The 340 square meters of land, situated in San Jose District, Pasay City, the
property in dispute, originally belonged to Escolastica, wife of Severo
Armada, Sr. This was covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
(17345) 2460. During the lifetime of the spouses, the property was
transferred to their children and the Registry of Deeds, Pasay City, issued
TCT No. 16007 in the names of the three sons, as follows : "DR.
CRISOSTOMO R. ARMADA, married to Cresenciana V. Alejo, 113.34 Square
Meters; JOSE R. ARMADA, married to Remedios Almanzor, 113.33 Square
Meters; and DR. SEVERO R. ARMADA, Jr., single, all of legal age,
Filipinos."4Annotated also in the title is the total cancellation of said title "... by
virtue of the Deed of Sale, (P.E. 77952/T-24751), dated March 28, 1979,
executed by CRESENCIANA V. ALEJO, as attorney-in-fact of CRISOSTOMO
R. ARMADA, conveying 113.34 square meters of the property herein, in favor
of ANITA BONODE SI, married to Serafin D. Si, for the sum of P75,000.00,
issuing in lieu thereof Transfer Certificate of Title No. 24751, Reg. Book T102. (Doc. No. 17, Page No. 5, Book No. 253 of Notary Public of Pasay City,
Manila, Julian Florentino)."5
On April 15, 1980, herein spouses Jose Armada and Remedios Almanzor,
filed a complaint for Annulment of Deed of Sale and Reconveyance of Title
with Damages, against herein petitioners Anita and Serafin Si and Conrado
Isada, brother-in-law of Cresenciana. Isada brokered the sale.
The complaint alleged that Conrado Isada sold Crisostomo's share by
making it appear that Cresenciana, the attorney-in-fact of her husband, is a
Filipino citizen, residing with Isada at No. 13-4th Camarilla Street, Murphy,
Cubao, Quezon City. By this time, Crisostomo and Cresenciana had
migrated and were already citizens of the United States of America. It also
stated that when petitioners registered the deed of absolute sale they

inserted the phrase "... and that the co-owners are not interested in buying
the same in spite of notice to them.", and that petitioners knew of the
misrepresentations of Conrado. Further, the complaint alleged that the other
owners, Jose and Severo, Jr., had no written notice of the sale; and that all
upon learning of the sale to the spouses Si, private respondents filed a
complaint for annulment of sale and reconveyance of title with damages,
claiming they had a right of redemption.

Furthermore, the evidence on record shows that the Deed of Absolute Sale
(Exh. 'B'), executed by Cresencia Armada in favor of defendants Si, stated
that the portion sold was the 'undivided one hundred thirteen & 34/100
(113.34) square meters' of the parcel of land covered by TCT NO. 16007 of
the Registry of Deeds for Pasay City, which means that what was sold to
defendants are still undetermined and unidentifiable, as the area sold
remains a portion of the whole.

Petitioners, on the other hand, alleged that on October 2, 1954, Escolastica,


with the consent of her husband executed three separate deeds of sale
(Exhibits 1, 2, and 3)6 conveying 113.34 square meters of the property to
Severo, and 113.33 square meters each to Crisostomo and Jose. The three
deeds of sale particularly described the portion conveyed to each son in
metes and bounds. Petitioners contend that since the property was already
three distinct parcels of land, there was no longer co-ownership among the
brothers. Hence, Jose and Severo, Jr. had no right of redemption when
Crisostomo sold his share to the spouses Si. Petitioners point out that it was
only because the Armada brothers failed to submit the necessary subdivision
plan to the Office of the Register of Deeds in Pasay City that separate titles
were not issued and TCT No. 16007 was issued and registered in the names
of Jose, Crisostomo, and Severo, Jr.

Moreover, plaintiff Remedi[o]s Armada testified that on March 27, 1979,


Crisostomo Armada, thru his attorney-in-fact and co-defendant, Cresenciana
Alejo, sold his undivided 113.34 share to defendants, Sps. Si as evidenced
by a Deed of Absolute Sale (Exh. 'B'), and presented for registration with the
Register of Deeds (Exh. 'B-1') without notifying plaintiffs of the sale (TSN, pp.
6-8, December 20, 1988). Instead, it appears that the phrase 'and that the
co-owners are not interested in buying the same inspite of notice to them',
was inserted in the Deed of Sale (Exh. 'B').

After trial on the merits, the court ruled for petitioners:


"IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the complaint is hereby DISMISSED.
With costs against the plaintiffs."7
Private respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals. On March 25, 1994,
the appellate court issued the decision now assailed by petitioners. In
reversing the decision of the trial court and ruling for private respondents, the
Court of Appeals found that:
"A careful examination of TCT No. 16007 (Exh. 'A') shows that the portion
sold by virtue of the Deeds of Sale (Exh. 1, 2, & 3) to the Armada brothers do
not appear in the said title, neither does it indicate the particular area sold.
Moreover, no evidence was presented to show that the Register of Deeds
issued TCT No. 16007 (Exh. 'A') on the basis of the said deeds of Sale. In
fact, TCT No. 16007 (Exh. 'A') shows that the lot is co-owned by Jose,
Crisostomo and Severo, Jr. in the proportion of 113.33, 113.34 and 113.33
sq. m. respectively.

xxx
Otherwise stated, the sale by a (sic) co-owner of his share in the undivided
property is not invalid, but shall not be recorded in the Registry Property,
unless accompanied by an affidavit of the Vendor that he has given written
notice thereof to all possible redemptioners."8
On August 29, 1994, petitioners' counsel on record, Atty. Roberto B. Yam
received a copy of the CA decision. On October 14, 1994, he filed a motion
for reconsideration, but it was denied by the Court of Appeals on November
21, 1994, for being filed out of time.
On December 5, 1994, petitioners filed their motion for new trial under
Section 1, Rule 53 of the Revised Rules of Court. 9 Petitioners presented new
evidence, TCT No. (17345) 2460, registered in the name of Escolastica de la
Rosa, married to Severo Armada, Sr., with annotation at the back stating that
the cancellation was by virtue of three deeds of sale in favor of Escolastica's
sons. On March 24, 1995, respondent court denied the motion, reasoning
that when the motion was filed, the reglementary period had lapsed and the
decision had become final and executory. Petitioners' motion for
reconsideration of said resolution was denied.
Hence, the present petition, alleging that:

"1. Respondent Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in


ruling that a co-ownership still existed.
"2. Respondent Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in
denying the Motion for Reconsideration of its Decision of 25 March
1994 on purely technical grounds.
"3. Respondent Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in
denying the Motion for New Trial.
"4. Respondent Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in
ordering petitioners to pay moral damages, attorney's fees, litigation
expenses and the costs of the suit."10
In essence, this Court is asked to resolve: (1) whether respondent court
erred in denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration and/or the Motion for
New Trial; (2) whether private respondents are co-owners who are legally
entitled to redeem the lot under Article 1623 of the Civil Code; 11 and (3)
whether the award of moral damages, attorney's fees and costs of suit is
correct.
The pivotal issue is whether private respondents may claim the right of
redemption under Art. 1623 of the Civil Code. The trial court found that the
disputed land was not part of an undivided estate. It held that the three
deedsof absolute sale12 technically described the portion sold to each son.
The portions belonging to the three sons were separately declared for
taxation purposes with the Assessor's Office of Pasay City on September 21,
1970.13 Jose's testimony that the land was undivided was contradicted by his
wife when she said they had been receiving rent from the property
specifically allotted to Jose.14 More significantly, on January 9, 1995, the
Registry of Deeds of Pasay City cancelled TCT 24751 and issued three new
titles as follows: (1) TCT 134594 15 in favor of Severo Armada, Jr.; (2) TCT
13459516 under the name of Anita Bonode Si, married to Serafin Si; and (3)
TCT 13459617 owned by Jose Armada, married to Remedios Almanzor. All
these are on record.
However, the Court of Appeals' decision contradicted the trial court's
findings.18

In instances when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are at variance
with those of the trial court, or when the inference drawn by the Court of
Appeals from the facts is manifestly mistaken, this Court will not hesitate to
review the evidence in order to arrive at the correct factual conclusion. 19 This
we have done in this case. It is our considered view now, that the trial court is
correct when it found that:
"Rightfully, as early as October 2, 1954, the lot in question had already been
partitioned when their parents executed three (3) deed of sales (sic) in favor
of Jose, Crisostomo and Severo, all surnamed Armada (Exh. 1, 2, & 3),
which documents purports to have been registered with the Register of
Deeds of Pasay City, on September 18, 1970, and as a consequence TCT
No. 16007 (Exh. A) was issued. Notably, every portion conveyed and
transferred to the three sons was definitely described and segregated and
with the corresponding technical description (sic). In short, this is what we
call extrajudicial partition. Moreover, every portion belonging to the three
sons has been declared for taxation purposes with the Assessor's Office of
Pasay City on September 21, 1970. These are the unblinkable facts that the
portion sold to defendant spouses Si by defendants Crisostomo Armada and
Cresenciana Armada was concretely determined and identifiable. The fact
that the three portions are embraced in one certificate of title does not make
said portions less determinable or identifiable or distinguishable, one from
the other, nor that dominion over each portion less exclusive, in their
respective owners. Hence, no right of redemption among co-owners
exists."20 (citation omitted)
". . . [T]he herein plaintiffs cannot deny the fact that they did not have
knowledge about the impending sale of this portion. The truth of the matter is
that they were properly notified. Reacting to such knowledge and notification
they wrote defendant Dr. Crisostomo Armada on February 22, 1979, a
portion of said letter is revealing: 'Well you are the king of yourselves, and
you can sell your share of Levereza."21 (emphasis omitted)
After the physical division of the lot among the brothers, the community
ownership terminated, and the right of preemption or redemption for each
brother was no longer available.22
Under Art. 484 of the Civil Code,23 there is co-ownership whenever the
ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons. There is
no co-ownership when the different portions owned by different people are

already concretely determined and separately identifiable, even if not yet


technically described.24 This situation makes inapplicable the provision on the
right of redemption of a co-owner in the Civil Code, as follows:

ASIDE. Civil Case No. 8023-P is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 113, promulgated on August
29, 1989, is REINSTATED.

"Art. 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be


exercised except within thirty days from the notice in writing by the
prospective vendor, or by the vendor, as the case may be. The deed of sale
shall not be recorded in the Registry of Property, unless accompanied by an
affidavit of the vendor that he has given written notice thereof to all possible
redemptioners.

SO ORDERED.

The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining owners."


Moreover, we note that private respondent Jose Armada was well informed of
the impending sale of Crisostomo's share in the land. In a letter dated
February 22, 1979, Jose told his brother Crisostomo: "Well you are the king
of yourselves, and you can sell your share of Leveriza." 25 Co-owners with
actual notice of the sale are not entitled to written notice. A written notice is a
formal requisite to make certain that the co-owners have actual notice of the
sale to enable them to exercise their right of redemption within the limited
period of thirty days. But where the co-owners had actual notice of the sale at
the time thereof and/or afterwards, a written notice of a fact already known to
them, would be superfluous. The statute does not demand what is
unnecessary.26
Considering that respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that herein
private respondent could redeem the lot bought by petitioners, the issue of
whether the appellate court erred in denying petitioners' motions for
reconsideration and new trial need not be delved into.1wphi1 The same is
true with respect to the questioned award of damages and attorney's fees.
Petitioners filed their complaint in good faith and as repeatedly held, we
cannot put a premium on the right to litigate.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, the Decision of the Court of
Appeals dated March 25, 1994 and its Resolutions dated March 24, 1995
and September 6, 1995 in CA-G.R. CV No. 30727 are ANNULLED and SET