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Serna v CA

Dionisio Fontanilla was the original owner and possessor of a parcel of land (though not registered under the
torrens system) having an area of 12,508sqm, located in Alaminos, Pangasinan.

In 1921, he declared the same in his name for taxation purposes. In the same year, Turner Land Surveying Company
surveyed the land for Fontanilla, with the agreement that the cost of survey wouldbe paid upon approval of the
plan of the Bureau of Lands. The Bureau approved the survey plan, but Fontanilla was not able to pay (Identity of
Land), Thus, in order to avoid foreclosure, he sold the land to his daughter, Rosa. She began paying real estate
property tax thereon in 1939.

In 1955, Rosa sold the land her nephew, Santiago, evidenced by a notarized deed of absolute sale, which was,
however, not registered. Also in the same year, they constructed a house of strong
materials, which was completed in 1957 (proof of possession). Rosas heirs executed another deed of
absolute sale in favor of Santiago in 1957.

In 1978, Santiago and his wife Rafaela went to the US to visit their daughter. They stayed there until 1981. However,
in 1978 after they left, his cousin (herein petitioners) Enriquito and Amparo Serna applied to the cadastral court for
the registration of the property in their name. In 1979, it was approved, and an OCT was issued in their favor and it
was duly registered in January 1980.

On May 27 1981 (more than 1 year had elapsed), upon discovery of the scheme of his cousins, Santiago filed an
action for Reconveyance with damages.

On trial, the Cernas claim that the land was actually foreclosed to Turner Land Surveying Company. And the one
who redeemed it was Alberto Rasca (Son in law of Dionisio, Father of Amparo Serna), evidenced by a deed of
absolute sale. However, she could not produce it in court.

The court ruled in favor of Santiago and Rafaela. Hence, this appeal.

Issues raised by petitioner:

1. WON the decision is supported by evidence;
2. WON the decision is in accordance with law.

Yes to both.


The first issue arose from the fact that the judge who wrote the decision (in the RTC) was not the one who presided
over the hearing. However, the court said that based on jurisprudence,
a judge who was no present during trial can rely on the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the trial as
basis for his decision. This does not violate substantive and procedural due process.
The court said that the evidence presented by the Cernas were insufficient. In fact, they were not able to present
in court the purported deed of sale executed by Turner and Alberto Rasca.

On the other hand, Santiago Fontanilla was able to prove that they were enjoying open, continuous and adverse
possession of the property for more than 60 years, taking the possession of their predecessors
Roque v. Aguado


On July 21, 1977, petitioners-spouses Roque and the original owners of the then unregistered Lot 18089
namely, Rivero, et al. executed the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale over a 1,231-sq. m. portion of Lot 18089 for a
consideration of P30,775.00. The parties agreed that Sps. Roque shall make an initial payment of P15,387.50 upon
signing, while the remaining balance of the purchase price shall be payable upon the registration of Lot 18089, as
well as the segregation and the concomitant issuance of a separate title over the subject portion in their names.
After the deeds execution, Sps. Roque took possession and introduced improvements on the subject portion which
they utilized as a balut factory.

Pertinent provision of the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale:




That for and in consideration of the sum of THIRTY THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE PESOS
(P30,775.00), Philippine Currency, payable in the manner hereinbelow specified, the VENDORS do hereby sell,
transfer and convey unto the VENDEE, or their heirs, executors, administrators, or assignors, that unsegregated
portion of the above lot, x x x.

That the aforesaid amount shall be paid in two installments, the first installment which is in the amount of
__________ (P15,387.50) and the balance in the amount of __________ (P15,387.50), shall be paid as soon as the
described portion of the property shall have been registered under the Land Registration Act and a Certificate of
Title issued accordingly;

That as soon as the total amount of the property has been paid and the Certificate of Title has been issued, an
absolute deed of sale shall be executed accordingly;


On August 12, 1991, Sabug, Jr, applied for a free patent over the entire Lot 18089 and was eventually
issued OCT No. M-59558 in his name on October 21, 1991. On June 24, 1993, Sabug, Jr. and Rivero, in her personal
capacity and in representation of Rivero, et al., executed the 1993 Joint Affidavit, acknowledging that the subject
portion belongs to Sps. Roque and expressed their willingness to segregate the same from the entire area of Lot

On December 8, 1999, however, Sabug, Jr., through the 1999 Deed of Absolute Sale, sold Lot 18089
to Aguado for P2,500,000.00, who, in turn, caused the cancellation of OCT No. M-5955 and the issuance of TCT No.
M-96692 dated December 17, 199911 in her name.

Thereafter, Aguado obtained an P8,000,000.00 loan from the Land Bank secured by a mortgage over Lot
18089. When she failed to pay her loan obligation, Land Bank commenced extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings
and eventually tendered the highest bid in the auction sale. Upon Aguados failure to redeem the subject property,
Land Bank consolidated its ownership, and TCT No. M-11589513 was issued in its name on July 21, 2003.
On June 16, 2003, Sps. Roque filed a complaint for reconveyance, annulment of sale, deed of real
estate mortgage, foreclosure, and certificate of sale, and damages before the RTC.


Whether or not the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale is a conditional contract of sale or a contract to sell.


It is a CONTRACT TO SELL. The Court held that where the seller promises to execute a deed of absolute
sale upon the completion by the buyer of the payment of the purchase price, the contract is only a contract to sell
even if their agreement is denominated as a Deed of Conditional Sale, as in this case. This treatment stems from
the legal characterization of a contract to sell, that is, a bilateral contract whereby the prospective seller, while
expressly reserving the ownership of the subject property despite delivery thereof to the prospective
buyer, binds himself to sell the subject property exclusively to the prospective buyer upon fulfillment of the
condition agreed upon, such as, the full payment of the purchase price. Elsewise stated, in a contract to sell,
ownership is retained by the vendor and is not to pass to the vendee until full payment of the purchase price.

In contracts to sell the obligation of the seller to sell becomes demandable only upon the happening of the
suspensive condition, that is, the full payment of the purchase price by the buyer. It is only upon the existence of
the contract of sale that the seller becomes obligated to transfer the ownership of the thing sold to the buyer. Prior
to the existence of the contract of sale, the seller is not obligated to transfer the ownership to the buyer, even if
there is a contract to sell between them.

Final installment not paid thus no perfected contract of sale

Here, it is undisputed that Sps. Roque have not paid the final installment of the purchase price. As such,
the condition which would have triggered the parties obligation to enter into and thereby perfect a contract of sale
in order to effectively transfer the ownership of the subject portion from the sellers (i.e., Rivero et al.) to the buyers
(Sps. Roque) cannot be deemed to have been fulfilled. Consequently, the latter cannot validly claim ownership over
the subject portion even if they had made an initial payment and even took possession of the same.

Conditional contract of sale and contract to sell in relation to double sale

It is essential to distinguish between a contract to sell and a conditional contract of sale specially in cases where the
subject property is sold by the owner not to the party the seller contracted with, but to a third person, as in the
case at bench.

In a contract to sell, there being no previous sale of the property, a third person buying such property
despite the fulfillment of the suspensive condition such as the full payment of the purchase price, for instance,
cannot be deemed a buyer in bad faith and the prospective buyer cannot seek the relief of reconveyance of the

There is no double sale in such case. Title to the property will transfer to the buyer after registration because there
is no defect in the owner-sellers title per se, but the latter, of course, may be sued for damages by the intending
Jessie Gasataya v. Editha Mabasa,

GR No. 148147 (Feb. 16, 2007)

Buenaventura Mabasa was granted a homestead patent which he mortgaged to DBP to secure a loan. However, he
failed to pay the indebtedness so the lot was foreclosed and sold in favor of DBP. When he died, her daughter,
Editha Mabasa repurchased the said lot through a deed of conditional sale for P25, 875. Subsequently, Editha
entered into an agreement with Sabas Gasataya to assume payment for her obligation with DBP wherein the latter
agreed to pay P10, 000 to Mabasa and P25,000 to DBP in her behalf. However, eight years after the said agreement,
Gasataya stopped paying DBP which resulted to the revocation of Mabasas right to repurchase the land. DBP
then held a public auction to sell the land and Gasataya got the land. Respondent then filed a complaint in the RTC
for reconveyance of titles of lands with damages against Gasataya. She claimed that the latter deliberately reneged
on his commitment to pay DBP to: (1) revoke her right to repurchase the lots under the deed of conditional sale
and (2) subject the properties to another public auction where petitioner could bid. The trial court ruled in favor of
Mabasa finding that the Gasatayas failed to controvert her claim that they defrauded her just so petitioner could
acquire the lots at public auction. Gasatayas appealed to the CA which affirmed the RTCs decision and dismissed
their appeal for lack of merit.


(1) Whether or not reconveyance is available to Mabasa.

(2) Whether or not Mabasa had no right to the disputed lots since the conditional sale agreement where such right
was based had long been cancelled by DBP. (3) Whether or not Gasatayas titles are unsullied on the mere fact
that he purchased the property at public auction.

(4) Whether or not Mabasa has a better right over the land because her father acquired the lots through
homestead grant.


(1) Reconveyance is still available to Mabasa. Reconveyance is available not only to the legal owner of a property
but also to the person with a better right than the person under whose name said property was erroneously
registered. While respondent is not the legal owner of the disputed lots, she has a better right than petitioner to
the contested lots on the following grounds: first, the deed of conditional sale executed by DBP vested on her the
right to repurchase the lots and second, her right to repurchase them would have subsisted had they (the
Gasatayas) not defrauded her.

(2) Gasatayas cannot discredit the deed of conditional sale just so he can to keep his titles to the lots. Petitioner
should be reminded that DBP revoked Mabasas right to repurchase the lots under said deed because of the
deceitful maneuverings that he and his father employed.

(3) The registration of the properties in Gasatayas name did not obliterate the fact that fraud preceded and
facilitated such registration. Actual or positive fraud proceeds from an intentional deception practiced by means of
misrepresentation of material facts,which in this case was the conscious representation by petitioners father (Sabas
Gasataya) that respondents obligation to DBP had already been settled. It is fraud to knowingly omit or conceal a
fact, upon which benefit is obtained, to the prejudice of another. Consequently, fraud is a ground for reconveyance.
Moreover, the law only protects an innocent purchaser for value and not one who has knowledge of and
participation in the employment of fraud. But Gasataya is not an innocent purchaser.
(4) Mabasa has the right to re-claim the land. Commonwealth Act 141 (Public Land Act) aims to confine and
preserve to the homesteader and his kin the homestead lots. We, therefore, agree with the CAs disquisition that
courts should lend a stout shoulder to help keep a homestead in the homesteaders family for the stern reality
cannot be belied that homesteaders and their families are generally in the lower stratum of life and most likely,
when they alienate the homestead, it is out of dire necessity. According to the CA, desperation does not allow
much of a choice, hence homesteaders and their kin should be given every opportunity to repurchase their

G.R. No. 175428 April 15, 2013

FACTS: At the root of the case is a parcel of land located at Maguyam, Silang, Cavite, originally owned and
registered in the name of Miguela Reyes. The petitioners filed a complaint to recover possession of the subject
property against the respondents, with a prayer to annul the sale of the subject property executed between the
respondents. In the complaint, the petitioners alleged that they are the successors-in-interest of Miguela over the
subject property, which Caparas held in trust for Miguela. The petitioners also averred that the subject property
was erroneously included in the sale of land between the respondents. The petitioners evidence showed that
the subject property was previously part of the tract of land owned by Miguela at Maguyam, Silang, Cavite.
Miguela sold to Caparas the eastern portion of the land. Miguela retained for herself the rest of the subject
property, located at the western portion of the original property. Further, the deed of conveyance executed
between Miguela and Caparas described the boundaries of the parcel of land purchased by Caparas as: "sa ibaba ay
Faustino Amparo, sa silangan ay Silang at Carmona boundary, sa ilaya ay Aquilino Ligaya, at sa kanluran ay ang
natitirang lupa ni Miguela Reyes." The petitioners asserted that more than fourteen years later, Caparas caused the
preparation of a consolidated survey plan (Caparas survey plan) under her name for several parcels of land
(consolidated parcels of land) located at Silang-Carmona, Cavite, with a total land area of 40,697 square meters.
Under the Caparas survey plan, the parcel of land supposedly retained by Miguela was erroneously transferred to
the eastern portion of the original land and now allegedly owned by Caparas. The petitioners also alleged that
Caparas sold to the spouses Perez the consolidated parcels of land in a deed. Considering the alleged error in the
Caparas survey plan, the petitioners demanded the reconveyance of the subject property from Caparas and the
spouses Perez, who refused to reconvey the subject property. After an ex parte hearing, the RTC ruled in the
petitioners favor.12 The RTC, however, refused to approve, for lack of authority, the new survey plan for the
subject property13 that the petitioners submitted. The spouses Perez averred that the parcel of land sold to the
petitioners was not the subject property whose title had been confirmed in their (spouses Perez s) names. In
the alternative, the spouses Perez claimed that they bought the subject property in good faith and for value and
had been in open, continuous, public and adverse possession of it since 1991.


1. Whether or not the parcel of land sold to the petitioners is the subject property included in the consolidated
parcels of land sold to the spouses Perez.


1. NO. The petitioners' action against Caparas and the spouses Perez for reconveyance, based on trust, must fail for
lack of basis. An action for reconveyance is a legal and equitable remedy that seeks to transfer or reconvey
property, wrongfully registered in another person's name, to its rightful owner. To warrant reconveyance of the
land, the plaintiff must allege and prove, among others, ownership of the land in dispute and the defendants
erroneous, fraudulent or wrongful registration of the property. In the present petition, the petitioners failed to
prove that the parcel of land they owned was the subject property. Logically, there is nothing to reconvey as what
the spouses Perez registered in their names did not include the parcel of land which the petitioners, by their
evidence, own. We also see no trust, express or implied, created between the petitioners and the spouses Perez
over the subject property. A trust by operation of law is the right to the beneficial enjoyment of a property whose
legal title is vested in another. A trust presumes the existence of a conflict involving one and the same property
between two parties, one having the rightful ownership and the other holding the legal title. There is no trust
created when the property owned by one party is separate and distinct from that which has been registered in
another's name. In this case, the Caparas survey plan and the deed of sale between the petitioners and Miguela
showed that the parcel of land sold to the petitioners is distinct from the consolidated parcels of land sold by
Caparas to the spouses Perez. Even granting that the Caparas survey plan did erroneously switch the positions of
the petitioners' and the spouses Perez's respective landholdings, we agree with the RTC that reconveyance was
still an inappropriate remedy. The petitioners' recourse should have been to file the proper action before the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Land Management Bureau for the cancellation of the Caparas
survey plan and for the approval of a new survey plan that correctly reflects the position of their respective
landholdings. For until the Caparas survey plan has been cancelled, the petitioners' claim of encroachment has no
basis. Another perspective, too, that must be considered is Miguela's act in selling to the petitioners Lot No. 3 using
the Caparas survey plan, which can be regarded as a ratification of any perceived error under the circumstances.