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PROPERTY MIDTERMS

1. G.R. No. L-46345 January 30, 1990


RESTITUTO
CENIZA
and
JESUS
CENIZA, petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, MAGNO DABON, VICENTA DABON, TERESITA DABON, EUGENIA DABON,
and TOMAS DABON, respondents.
Vicente P. Valera and Pedro Rosito & Jesus F. Balicanta for petitioners.
Victorino U. Montecillo for respondents.
This is a petition for review of the order dated October 29, 1976, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 48546 entitled,
"Restituto Ceniza, et al. vs. Magno Dabon, et al.," dismissing the petitioners' complaint for reconveyance of their shares in coownership property and reversing the decision of the trial court in their favor.
On June 14, 1967, the petitioners filed against private respondents, an action in the Court of First Instance of Cebu for
recovery of their title to Lots Nos. 627-B and 627-C (being portions of Lot No. 627 with an area of approximately 5,306 square
meters) situated in Casuntingan, Mandaue, Cebu (now Mandaue City), which originally formed part of "Hacienda de
Mandaue" of the Seminario de San Carlos de Cebu. The Property is covered by reconstituted Original Certificate of Title No.
RO-10996 issued on February 8, 1939 (formerly Decree No. 694438 issued on February 27, 1934) in the name of "Vicente
Dabon married to Marcela [or Marcelina] Ceniza." (pp. 7 and 19, Record on Appeal).
Petitioners are the descendants of Manuel Ceniza while the private respondents are the descendants of his sister, Sofia
Ceniza. Sofia Ceniza was childless but she had an adopted daughter named Flaviana Ceniza, who begot a daughter named
Marced Ceniza and who in turn had a daughter named Marcelina (or Marcela) Ceniza who married Vicente Dabon. Private
respondents are the children of this marriage and they are the great-great-grandchildren of Sofia Ceniza.
On the other hand, Manuel Ceniza had an only son, Pablo, who had two sons, Santiago and Jose Ceniza. Petitioners
Restituto and Jesus Ceniza and a certain Nemesia Ceniza-Albina are their children and the great-grandchildren of Manuel
Ceniza.
The records disclose that when Hacienda de Mandaue was subdivided for resale to the occupants in 1929, Jose Ceniza
and Vicente Dabon, who were residing in the hacienda, jointly purchased Lot 627 on installment basis and they agreed, for
convenience, to have the land registered in the name of Dabon. Since then, Jose Ceniza, Vicente Dabon, and their heirs have
possessed their respective portions of the land, declared the same for taxation, paid real estate taxes on their respective shares,
and made their respective installment payments to the Seminario de San Carlos de Cebu.
After Dabon died in 1954, his seven (7) children, named Magno, Jacinta, Tomas, Flaviana, Soledad, Teresita and
Eugenia, succeeded to his possession of a portion of the land.
On November 4, 1961, a private land surveyor, Espiritu Bunagan, on the request of Jacinta Dabon and Restituto
Ceniza who jointly defrayed the cost, divided Lot 627 into three parts, namely:
(1) Lot No. 627-A with 3,538 square meters for Marcela Ceniza;
(2) Lot No. 627-B with 884 square meters for Restituto Ceniza; and
(3) Lot No. 627-C with 834 square meters for Nemesia Ceniza-Albina, who later bequeathed her share to her brother, Jesus
Ceniza. (p. 19, Record on Appeal).
The present controversy arose because the private respondents refused to convey Lots Nos. 627-B and 627-C to the
petitioners. They claimed that their predecessor-in-interest, Vicente Dabon, was the sole and exclusive owner of Lot 627, by
purchase from the Seminario de San Carlos de Cebu. In their answer to the petitioners' complaint for reconveyance in June
1967, they alleged that the petitioners' right of action had already prescribed.
Petitioners replied that Vicente Dabon held the land in trust for them, as co-owners, hence, their action for
reconveyance was imprescriptible.
On August 31, 1970, the trial court rendered judgment for the petitioners. Finding that there existed a co-ownership
among the parties, it ordered the private respondents to execute deeds of conveyance of Lots Nos. 627-B and 627-C in favor of
the plaintiffs, Restituto and Jesus Ceniza, respectively (p. 35, Record on Appeal).
On appeal by the defendants (now private respondents) the Court of Appeals on October 29, 1976, reversed that
decision of the trial court. It ruled that the petitioners' right of action had prescribed after the lapse of 20 years from the date of
registration of the land on February 8, 1939 in Vicente Dabon's name (p. 32, Rollo).
The petitioners have appealed to this Court by a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The legal issue presented by the petition is whether the registration of the title of the land in the name of one of the coowner, constituted a repudiation of the co-ownership for purposes of acquisitive prescription.
We find merit in the petition for review.
The trial court correctly ruled that since a trust relation and co-ownership were proven to exist between the
predecessors- in-interest of both petitioners and private respondents, prescription did not run in favor of Dabon's heirs except
from the time that they repudiated the co-ownership and made the repudiation known to the other co-owners, Restituto and
Jesus Ceniza (Cortes vs. Oliva, 33 Phil. 480).
Paragraph 5 of Article 494 of the Civil Code providesNo 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.

The registration of Lot No. 627 in the name of Vicente Dabon created a trust in favor of his co-owner Jose Ceniza, and
the latter's heirs. Article 1452 of the Civil Code states:
If two or more persons agree to purchase property and common consent the legal title is taken in the name of one of
them for the benefit of all, a trust is created by force of law in favor of the others in proportion to the interest of each.
This Court has ruled in numerous cases involving fiduciary relations that, as a general rule, the trustee's possession is
not adverse and therefore cannot ripen into a title by prescription. Adverse possession requires the concurrence of the following
circumstances:
a) that the trustee has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation amounting to the ouster of thecestui que trust;
b) that such positive acts of repudiation have been made known to the cestui que trust; and
c) that the evidence thereon should be clear and conclusive.
The above elements are not present here for the petitioners/ co-owners have not been ousted from the land. They
continue to possess their respective shares of Lot 627 and they have been paying the realty taxes thereon. Restituto's house
stands on his portion of the Land. Assuming that the private respondents' rejection of the subdivision plan for the partition of
the land was an act of repudiation of the co-ownership, prescription had not yet set in when the petitioners instituted the present
action for reconveyance. These circumstances were overlooked by the Court of Appeals.
In Custodio v. Casiano 9 SCRA 841, we ruled that:
Where title to land was issued in the name of a co-heir merely with the understanding that he would act as a trustee of
his sisters, and there is no evidence that this trust relation had ever been repudiated by said trustee, it is held that a reaction of
co-ownership existed between such trustee and his sisters and the right of the successors-in-interest of said sisters to bring the
present action for recovery of their shares therein against the successors-in-interest of said trustee cannot barred by
prescription, despite the, lapse of 25 years from the date of registration of the land in the trustee's name. (Emphasis supplied.)
In Escobar v. Locsin, 74 Phil. 86, we affirmed the duty of the courts to shield fiduciary relations "against every
manner of chicanery or detestable design cloaked by legal technicalities" and to guard against misuse of the Torrens system "to
foment betrayal in the performance of a trust."
In this case, since the statutory period of limitation within which to file an action for reconveyance, after the
defendants had repudiated the co-ownership in 1961, had not yet run its course when the petitioners filed said action in 1967,
the action was not barred by prescription.
2.

On cellphone case digest

3. Rustico Adille v CA, Emeteria/ Teodoro/ Domingo/ Josefa/ Santiago Asejo


GR No. L-44546 1/29/1988
Facts: of the case:
Feliza Alzul had an 11,325 sqm parcel of land. She had 2 valid marriages in her lifetime. The first marriage bore a
single child (petitioner) and the second marriage bore 5 (respondents).During the time Felisa was still alive, she sold the
property with a period of repurchase of 3years. After she died, petitioner repurchased the land in its entirety and he
subsequently claimed the land solely his. Upon discovery of this by his half-brothers/sisters, they filed a case for partition of
the repurchased land.
The issue raised in this case arose when the CA ruled in favor of the respondents, stating that the petitioner and
respondents are co-owners of the land in question. Furthermore, this case is traced further back to when
Issue:
Whether or not the act of repurchasing the land and paying its full amount entitles the petitioner to sole ownership of
the land?
Held: No.
The right of repurchase may be exercised by a co-owner with respect to his share alone. While the records show that
the petitioner redeemed the property in its entirety, shouldering the expenses therefore, 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 coowner, subject to his right to collect reimbursement from the remaining co-owners. 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 co-owners 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 co-ownership.
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.
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.
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.
The antecedent facts are quoted from the decision 2 appealed from:
... [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 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
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.
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 therefore, 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 coowners. 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 co-owners 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 co-ownership.
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 half-brothers 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 coheirs, 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 (co-owner) 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 co-ownership). 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.