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G.R. No. L-27702 September 9, 1977 contrary to law.

She assailed the trial court's rulings that she is

ANDREA BUDLONG, plaintiff-appellant, guilty of laches; that the one-year period provided in section 38
vs. of Act No. 496 applies to this case; that it has no jurisdiction to
JUAN PONDOC, FABIO PONDOC, APOLINARIA protect her right under the deed of donation, and that she could
PONDOC, BENEDICTA PONDOC, FELICIDAD PONDOC not demand partition because she was no longer a co-owner of
and FRANCISCO GARROTE defendants-appellees. the lot.
Eleuterio Ramo and Salvador Budlong for plaintiff-appellant. The trial court correctly held that the donation is valid.
Maximo C. Nuez for defendants-appellees. Defendants-appellees' belated contention on appeal that the
donation is mortis causa (they did not raise that issue in their
AQUINO, J.: answer or in the lower court) is wrong. There is not the slightest
This is an action for the partition of Lot No. 5447, with an area indication in the deed that the donation would take effect upon
of 12,524 square meters, situated at Barrio Ubujan Tagbilaran the donors' death. It is indisputably an inter vivos donation.
City, Bohol, at six hundred pesos in 1965. In the deed it is expressly stipulated that the ownership over the
On October 27, 1934 the sisters Isabela Pondoc and Crispina two-thirds proindiviso share of the donors in Lot No. 5447 was
Pondoc donated to Andrea Budlong in a notarial instrument their transferred to the donee. That notarial deed amounted to a
two-thirds share in the said lot in consideration of the donee's transfer of the ownership and ion of the lot because the
personal services to the donors. Andrea accepted the donation in execution of a public instrument of conveyance is one of the
the same instrument. It was noted in the deed that the Court of recognized ways by which delivery of lands may be made (Art.
First Instance of Bohol had rendered a decision dated November 1463, old Civil Code, now art. 1498; Ortiz vs. Court of Appeals,
28, 1933 regarding the said lot. 97 Phil. 46).
The deed contains the statement "that by virtue hereof, the said We rind the appeal to be meritorious. The trill court erred in
Andrea Budlong is hereby vested with full ownership and assuming that the donee ceased to be a co-owner bemuse her
property of the lot in question." It was acknowledged before mm does not appear in OCT No. 4718 which was issued two
Genaro Visarra the mayor of Tagbilaran, an ex oficio notary. years after the execution of the deed of donation.
Two years after the execution of the donation, or on October 27, Overlooked by the trial court is the provision of section 70 of
1936, Original Certificate of Title No. 4718 was issued for the Act No. 496 that registered land, and ownership therein, shall in
said lot. The title shows that the lot is owned by the following all respects be subject to the same burdens and incidents
co-owners: Crispina Pondoc 113; Isabela Pondoc 1/3; Francisco attached by law to unregistered land", and that nothing in Act
Garrote 1/6, and Isabela Garrote-Pondoc 1/6. No. 496 "shall in any way be construed "to change the laws of
Apparently, the donee, Andrea Budlong did not intervene in the descent, or the rights of partition between coparceners joint
cadastral proceeding. She was not substituted for the donors in tenants and other cotenants " "or to change or affect in any
that proceeding maybe because the hearing had already been other way any other rights or liabilities created by law and
terminated when the donation was made to her. However, the applicable to unregistered land, except as otherwise expressly
owner's duplicate of OCT No. 4718 was in the ion of Andrea. provided in this Act or in the amendments hereof". Section 70 is
Sometime in January, 1965, Juan Pondoc talked with Andrea quoted below:
about the sale of the lot. He got the said title from Andrea. When LEGAL INCIDENTS OF
the projected sale did not go through, Juan did not return the REGISTRATION LAND
title to her. SEC. 70. Registered land, and ownership
Isabela Pondoc and Crispina Pondoc died without any therein, shall in all respects be subject to the
descendants in 1935 and 1937, respectively (p. 14, Appellees same burdens and incidents attached by law to
Brie) Francisco Garrote an alleged brother of Isabela Pondoc unregistered land. Nothing contained in this
and Crispina Pondoc left Bohol thirty years before 1966 and had Act shall in any way be construed to relieve
never returned to that province. Isabel Garrote-Pondoc died and registered land or the owners thereof from and
was survived by her five children named Juan, Fabio, Apolinaria rights incident to the relation of husband and
Benedicta and Felicidad all surnamed Pondoc y Garrote wife, or from liability to attachment on mesne
Presumably, Andrea Budlong has been in possession of the lot. process or levy on execution, or from liability
She declared it for tax purposes in her name. She paid the realty to any lien of any description established by
taxes thereon from 1936 to 1966. She planted the lot to law on land and the buildings thereon, or the
coconuts, bamboos, bananas and a mango tree. interest of the owner in such land or buildings,
Early in 1965 Andrea wanted to register the deed of donation. or to change the laws of descent, or the rights
The register of deeds in a letter dated April 1, 1965 asked Juan of partition between coparcener joint tenants
Pondoc to surrender the owner's duplicate of OCT No. 4718. He and other cotenants or the right to take the
did not comply with that request. same by eminent domain, or to relieve such
On May 11, 1965 Andrea Budlong filed in the Court of First land from liability to be appropriated in any
instance of Bohol an action for the partition of the said lot. She lawful manner for the payment of debts, or to
was allowed to sue as a pauper She retarded the action against change or affect in any other way any other
Francisco Garrote and the five children of Isabel Garrote- rights or liabilities created by law and
Pondoc Francisco was summoned by publication. He was applicable to unregistered land, except as
declared in default. otherwise expressly provided in this Act or in
Juan, Fabio, Apolinaria Benedicta and Felicidad all surnamed the amendments hereof.
Pondoc alleged in their answer that the donation was For clarity the rules in section 70 may be restated as follows:
"fraudulently executed". They relied on OCT No. 4718. 1 Registered land is subject to the same legal burdens and
Visarra the notary, declared in his deposition that the deed of incidents as unregistered land and, therefore, fake unregistered
donation was voluntarily executed by the donors. land, it is subject to attachment and execution for the payment of
The trial court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that debts. The rights and liabilities which are created by law and are
Andrea Budlong was guilty of laches and that the registration of made applicable to unregistered land, are applicable to
the lot extinguished her rights under the deed of donation. It registered land, except as otherwise provided in Act No. 496.
opined that she could not ask for the partition of the lot because 2. The rights arising from the relation of husband and wife are
she does not appear as a co-owner in the title thereof. The court applicable to registered lands.
intimated that she could ask for an indemnity from the assurance 3. Registered land is subject (a) to any alien of any description
fund. established by law on land and the b thereon, or the interest of
From that adverse decision, Andrea appealed to this Court. She the owner in such land or buildings, (b) to the laws of descent,
stated in her notice of appeal that the lower court's decision is and (c) to the rights of partition between coparceners joint
tenants, will other cotenants except as otherwise expressly In conclusion, we hold that the 1934 donation should be given
provoked in Act No. 496. (As impossible between sections 39 effect. It was confirmed by plaintiff-appellant's ion of the
and 70 of Act No. 496, see De Jesus vs. City of Manila, 29 Phd. donated lot, her improvements thereon, her enjoyment of the
73). fruits thereof, and her payment of the realty taxes dues thereon
The situation of Andrea Budlong is analogous to that of a spouse for the years 1936 to 1966.
whose name was not included in the Torrens title when conjugal WHEREFORE, the trial court's decision is reversed and set
land was metered in the name of the other spouse. (The spouses aside. If the parties cannot agree on the partition of the disputed
are of the conjugal assets as provided in article 143 of the Civil lot, then the trill court should conduct proceedings for the
Code.) partition thereof in conformity with Rule 69 of the Rules of
Thus, by reason of section 70, it was held that a parcel of land, Court.
which was acquired during the marriage and which was Defendant Juan Pondoc is ordered to surrender the owner's
registered under the Torrens system in the name of one spouse, duplicate of OCT No. 4718 to the register of deeds of Tagbilaran
is presumed to be conjugal unless proven otherwise. The City within five days from his counsel's receipt of the notice
registration in the name of one spouse does not preclude the from the clerk of the lower court of the. remand of the records of
application of the rule that "all property the marriage is this case from this Court. The register of deeds is directed to
presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be register the deed of donation, to cancel OCT No. 4718, and to
proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife" issue a new transfer certificate of title showing the two-thirds
(Art. 160, Civil Code, formerly article 1407; Flores vs. Flores 48 interest of Andrea Budlong in Lot No. 5447. No costs.
Phil. 288; Romero de Pratts vs. Menzi & Co. and Sheriff of SO ORDERED.
Rizal, 53 Phil. 51; Paterno Vda. de Padilla vs. Bibby Vda. de
Padilla, 74 Phil. 377; Seva vs. Nolan, 64 Phil. 374).
Section 70 was also applied to a case where the deceased was G.R. No. L-46296 September 24, 1991
survived by her legitimate daughter and an acknowledged EPITACIO DELIMA, PACLANO DELIMA, FIDEL
natural son. Although the eight parcels of land left by the DELIMA, VIRGILIO DELIMA, GALILEO DELIMA, JR.,
deceased were registered in the same of her natural son, the BIBIANO BACUS, OLIMPIO BACUS and
daughter or her heirs could sue the natural son or his heirs for PURIFICACION BACUS, petitioners,
the reconveyance of two-thirds of the eight parcels, that being vs.
the daughter's share in her mother's estate as a legal heir under HON. COURT OF APPEALS, GALILEO DELIMA
the old Civil Code. The one-year period in 38 of Act No. 496 (deceased), substituted by his legal heirs, namely:
does not apply to that case. (Dayao vs. Robles, 74 Phil. 114). FLAVIANA VDA. DE DELIMA, LILY D. ARIAS, HELEN
In Sideco vs. Aznar, 92 Phil. 952, 961-2, it was held that, by NIADAS, ANTONIO DELIMA, DIONISIO DELIMA,
reason section 70, an application by the widower in a cadastral IRENEA DELIMA, ESTER DELIMA AND FELY
long after the title to a parcel of land was registered in his name DELIMA, respondents.
in an ordinary land registration proceeding, to have the names of Gabriel J. Canete for petitioners.
his children included in the title as co-owners, could be granted. Emilio Lumontad, Jr. for private respondents.
The registration did not affect the children's hereditary rights.
The children were not held guilty of laches for having failed to
secure the issuance of the title in their names jointly with their MEDIALDEA, J.:
father. (See Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phd. 479, 494; Robles and This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the
Martin vs. Lizarraga Hermanos 42 Phil. 584; Gonzalez vs. Court of Appeals reversing the trial court's judgment which
Banzon, 51 Phil. 15, 20) Article 403 of the old Civil Code, now declared as null and void the certificate of title in the name of
article 497, provides that the assignees of the co-owners may respondents' predecessor and which ordered the partition of the
take part in the partition of the n property. disputed lot among the parties as co-owners.
And article 400 of the old Code, now article 494, provides that The antecedent facts of the case as found both by the respondent
each co- owner may demand at any time the partition of the appellate court and by the trial court are as follows:
common property, a provision which implies that the action to During his lifetime, Lino Delima acquired Lot No. 7758 of the
demand partition is imprescriptible or cannot be barred by Talisay-Minglanilla Friar Lands Estate in Cebu by sale on
laches. @ art. 1965, old Civil Code). installments from the government. Lino Delima later died in
The deed of donation made Andrea Budlong a co-owner of Lot 1921 leaving as his only heirs three brothers and a sister namely:
No. 5447. She became the successor-in-interest of the donors, Eulalio Delima, Juanita Delima, Galileo Delima and Vicente
Isabela Pondoc and Crispina Pondoc The fact that in OCT No. Delima. After his death, TCT No. 2744 of the property in
4718, which was issued subsequent to the donation, the donors question was issued on August 3, 1953 in the name of the Legal
appear to be the co-owners and not Andrea Budlong did not Heirs of Lino Delima, deceased, represented by Galileo Delima.
extinguish at all the rights of Andrea as a co-owner. On September 22, 1953, Galileo Delima, now substituted by
Section 70 of Act No. 496 is crystal clear. It unmistakably respondents, executed an affidavit of "Extra-judicial Declaration
provides that the conversion of unregistered land into registered of Heirs." Based on this affidavit, TCT No. 2744 was cancelled
land does not affect the rights of the CO-owners nor the legal and TCT No. 3009 was issued on February 4,1954 in the name
rights and liabilities applicable to unregistered land. of Galileo Delima alone to the exclusion of the other heirs.
That the registration did not wipe out the rights of Andrea, as the Galileo Delima declared the lot in his name for taxation
successor- in-interest of the donors, is shown by the fact that she purposes and paid the taxes thereon from 1954 to 1965.
remained in ion of the donated lot and that the owner's duplicate On February 29, 1968, petitioners, who are the surviving heirs
of OCT No. 4718 was given to her and was in her custody from of Eulalio and Juanita Delima, filed with the Court of First
1936 to January, 1965, when she entrusted it to defendant Juan Instance of Cebu (now Regional Trial Court) an action for
Pondoc because of the plan to self the lot and dissolve the co- reconveyance and/or partition of property and for the annulment
ownership. of TCT No. 3009 with damages against their uncles Galileo
The trial court erred in applying to this case section 38 of Act Delima and Vicente Delima,. Vicente Delima was joined as
No. 496 regarding review of the decree of registration on the party defendant by the petitioners for his refusal to join the latter
ground of fraud. This is not a case of fraudulent registration. Nor in their action.
is this a case where the rule on laches is applicable Moreover, On January 16, 1970, the trial court rendered a decision in favor
the defendants waived that defense because they did not invoke of petitioners, the dispositive portion of which states:
it in their answer (Sec. 2, Rule 9, Rules of Court; 1 Moran's IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING
Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, p. 263 citing CONSIDERATIONS, the following are the declared
Bergeon vs. Mansour, 9 Fed. Rules Service, P. 61). owners of Lot No. 7758 of the Talisay-Minglanilla
Friar Lands Estate presently covered by transfer takes care of the rest thereof with the obligation of delivering it
Certificate of Title No. 3009, each sharing a pro- to his co-owners or co-heirs, is under the same situation as a
indiviso share of one-fourth; depository, a lessee or a trustee (Bargayo v. Camumot, 40 Phil,
1) Vicente Delima (one-fourth) 857; Segura v. Segura, No. L-29320, September 19, 1988, 165
2) Heirs of Juanita Delima, namely: Bibiano Bacus, SCRA 368). Thus, an action to compel partition may be filed at
Olimpio Bacus and Purificacion Bacus (on-fourth); any time by any of the co-owners against the actual possessor. In
3) Heirs of Eulalio Delima, namely Epitacio, Pagano, other words, no prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner
Fidel, Virgilio and Galileo Jr., all surnamed Delima against his co-owners or co-heirs so long as he expressly or
(one-fourth); and impliedly recognizes the co-ownership (Del Blanco v.
4) The Heirs of Galileo Delima, namely Flaviana Vda. Intermediate Appellate Court, No. 72694, December 1, 1987,
de Delima, Lily D. Arias, Helen Niadas and Dionisio, 156 SCRA 55).
Antonio, Eotu Irenea, and Fely, all surnamed Delima However, from the moment one of the co-owners claims that he
(one-fourth). is the absolute and exclusive owner of the properties and denies
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3009 is declared null the others any share therein, the question involved is no longer
and void and the Register of Deeds of Cebu is ordered one of partition but of ownership (De Castro v. Echarri, 20 Phil.
to cancel the same and issue in lieu thereof another title 23; Bargayo v. Camumot, supra; De los Santos v. Santa Teresa,
with the above heirs as pro-indiviso owners. 44 Phil. 811). In such case, the imprescriptibility of the action
After the payment of taxes paid by Galileo Delima for partition can no longer be invoked or applied when one of
since 1958, the heirs of Galileo Delima are ordered to the co-owners has adversely possessed the property as exclusive
turn a over to the other heirs their respective shares of owner for a period sufficient to vest ownership by prescription.
the fruits of the lot in question computed at P170.00 It is settled that possession by a co-owner or co-heir is that of a
per year up to the present time with legal (interest). trustee. In order that such possession is considered adverse to
Within sixty (60) days from receipt of this decision the the cestui que trust amounting to a repudiation of the co-
parties are ordered to petition the lot in question and ownership, the following elements must concur: 1) that the
the defendants are directed to immediately turn over trustee has performed unequivocal acts amounting to an ouster
possession of the shares here awarded to the respective of the cestui que trust; 2) that such positive acts of repudiation
heirs. had been made known to the cestui que trust; and 3) that the
Defendants are condemned to pay the costs of the suit. evidence thereon should be clear and conclusive (Valdez v.
The counterclaim is dismissed. Olorga, No. L-22571, May 25, 1973, 51 SCRA 71; Pangan v.
SO ORDERED. (pp. 54-55, Rollo) Court of Appeals, No. L-39299, October 18, 1988, 166 SCRA
Not satisfied with the decision, respondents appealed to the 375).
Court of Appeals. On May 19, 1977, respondent appellate court We have held that when a co-owner of the property in question
reversed the trial court's decision and upheld the claim of executed a deed of partition and on the strength thereof obtained
Galileo Delima that all the other brothers and sister of Lino the cancellation of the title in the name of their predecessor and
Delima, namely Eulalio, Juanita and Vicente, had already the issuance of a new one wherein he appears as the new owner
relinquished and waived their rights to the property in his favor, of the property, thereby in effect denying or repudiating the
considering that he (Galileo Delima) alone paid the remaining ownership of the other co-owners over their shares, the statute
balance of the purchase price of the lot and the realty taxes of limitations started to run for the purposes of the action
thereon (p. 26, Rollo). instituted by the latter seeking a declaration of the existence of
Hence, this petition was filed with the petitioners alleging that the co-ownership and of their rights thereunder (Castillo v.
the Court of Appeals erred: Court of Appeals, No. L-18046, March 31, 1964, 10 SCRA
1) In not holding that the right of a co-heir to demand 549). Since an action for reconveyance of land based on implied
partition of inheritance is imprescriptible. If it does, the or constructive trust prescribes after ten (10) years, it is from the
defenses of prescription and laches have already been date of the issuance of such title that the effective assertion of
waived. adverse title for purposes of the statute of limitations is counted
2) In disregarding the evidence of the petitioners. (Jaramil v. Court of Appeals, No. L-31858, August 31, 1977, 78
(p.13, Rollo) SCRA 420).
The issue to be resolved in the instant case is whether or not Evidence shows that TCT No. 2744 in the name of the legal
petitioners' action for partition is already barred by the statutory heirs of Lino Delima, represented by Galileo Delima, was
period provided by law which shall enable Galileo Delima to cancelled by virtue of an affidavit executed by Galileo Delima
perfect his claim of ownership by acquisitive prescription to the and that on February 4, 1954, Galileo Delima obtained the
exclusion of petitioners from their shares in the disputed issuance of a new title in Ms name numbered TCT No. 3009 to
property. Article 494 of the Civil Code expressly provides: the exclusion of his co-heirs. The issuance of this new title
Art. 494. No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the constituted an open and clear repudiation of the trust or co-
co-ownership. Each co-owner may demand at any time ownership, and the lapse of ten (10) years of adverse possession
the partition of the thing owned in common, insofar as by Galileo Delima from February 4, 1954 was sufficient to vest
his share is concerned. title in him by prescription. As the certificate of title was notice
Nevertheless, an agreement to keep the thing undivided to the whole world of his exclusive title to the land, such
for a certain period of time, not exceeding ten years, rejection was binding on the other heirs and started as against
shall be valid. This term may be extended by a new them the period of prescription. Hence, when petitioners filed
agreement. their action for reconveyance and/or to compel partition on
A donor or testator may prohibit partition for a period February 29, 1968, such action was already barred by
which shall not exceed twenty years. prescription. Whatever claims the other co-heirs could have
Neither shall there be any partition when it is validly asserted before can no longer be invoked by them at this
prohibited by law. time.
No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner or co- ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby DENIED and the
heir against his co-owners or co-heirs so long as he assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 19, 1977 is
expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership. AFFIRMED.
As a rule, possession by a co-owner will not be presumed to be SO ORDERED.
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 G.R. No. 124262 October 12, 1999
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to set aside the SAME PARTIES.
Decision of the Court Appeals dated August 14, 1995, in CA- THIRD GROUND
G.R. SP No. 36349, and its Resolution dated March 15, 1996, THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS
which denied petitioner's motion for GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION
reconsideration.1wphi1.nt AND AUTHORITY WHEN IT
On December 13, 1993, private respondents filed an action for CAPRICIOUSLY AND WHIMSICALLY
Partition before the Regional Trial Court of Morong, Rizal. They DISREGARDED THE EXISTENCE OF RES
alleged that their predecessor-in-interest, Juan De Castro, died JUDICATA IN THIS CASE.
intestate in 1993 and they are his only surviving and legitimate The pivotal issues to be resolved in this case are: whether or not
heirs. They also alleged that their father owned a parcel of land the Regional Trial Court and/or the Court of Appeals had
designated as Lot No. 3010 located at Barrio San Juan, Morong, jurisdiction over the case, and if so, whether or not the Court of
Rizal, with an area of two thousand two hundred sixty nine Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming the
(2,269) square meters more or less. They further claim that in decision of the Regional Trial Court.
1979, without their knowledge and consent, said lot was sold by In assailing the Orders of the appellate court, petitioner invokes
their brother Mariano to petitioner. The sale was made possible Rule 65 of the Rules of Court as its mode in obtaining a reversal
when Mariano represented himself as the sole heir to the of the assailed Decision and Resolution. Before we dwell on the
property. It is the contention of private respondents that the sale merits of this petition, it is worth noting, that for a petition
made by Mariano affected only his undivided share to the lot in for certiorari to be granted, it must be shown that the respondent
question but not the shares of the other co-owners equivalent to court committed grave abuse of discretion equivalent to lack or
four fifths (4/5) of the property. excess of jurisdiction and not mere errors of judgment,
Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss contending, as its special for certiorari is not a remedy for errors of judgment, which are
defense, lack of jurisdiction and prescription and/or laches. The correctible by appeal. 1 By grave abuse of discretion is meant
trial court, after hearing the motion, dismissed the complaint in such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is
an Order dated August 18, 1984. On motion for reconsideration, equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, and mere abuse of discretion is
the trial court, in an Order dated October 4, 1994, reconsidered not enough it must be grave. 2
the dismissal of the complaint and set aside its previous order. In the case at hand, there is no showing of grave abuse of
Petitioner filed its own motion for reconsideration but it was discretion committed by the public respondent. As correctly
denied in an Order dated January 5, 1995. pointed out by the trial court, when it took cognizance of the
Aggrieved, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a special action for partition filed by the private respondents, it acquired
civil action for certiorari anchored on the following grounds: a) jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case. 3 Jurisdiction
the RTC has no jurisdiction to try and take cognizance of the over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and is
case as the causes of actions have been decided with finality by determined by the allegations of the complaint irrespective of
the Supreme Court, and b) the RTC acted with grave abuse of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the claims
discretion and authority in taking cognizance of the case. asserted therein. 4 Acquiring jurisdiction over the subject matter
After the parties filed their respective pleadings, the Court of of a case does not necessarily mean that the lower court meant
Appeals, finding no grave abuse of discretion committed by the to reverse the decision of the Supreme Court in the land
lower court, dismissed the petition in a Decision dated August registration case mentioned by the petitioner.
14, 1995. Petitioner filed a timely motion for reconsideration but Moreover, settled is the rule that the jurisdiction of the court
it was denied in a Resolution dated March 15, 1996. Hence this over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of the
petition. complaint, hence the court's jurisdiction cannot be made to
Petitioner submits the following grounds to support the granting depend upon defenses set up in the answer or in a motion to
of the writ of certiorari in the present case: dismiss. 5 This has to be so, for were the principle otherwise, the
FIRST GROUND ends of justice would be frustrated by making the sufficiency of
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND this kind of action dependent upon the defendant in all cases.
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT (BR. 79) Worth stressing, as long as a court acts within its jurisdiction
HAD NO JURISDICTION TO TRY any alleged errors committed in the exercise thereof will amount
SUBJECT CASE (SP. PROC. NO. 118-M). to nothing more than errors of judgment which are revisable by
THE "CAUSES OF ACTION" HEREIN timely appeal and not by a special civil action
HAVE BEEN FINALLY DECIDED BY THE of certiorari. 6 Based on the foregoing, even assuming for the
HON. COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF sake of argument that the appellate court erred in affirming the
RIZAL (BR. 31) MAKATI, METRO decision of the trial court, which earlier denied petitioner's
MANILA, AND SUSTAINED IN A FINAL motion to dismiss, such actuation on the part of the appellate
DECISION BY THE HON. SUPREME court cannot be considered as grave abuse of discretion, hence
COURT. not correctible by certiorari, because certiorari is not available
SECOND GROUND to correct errors of procedure or mistakes in the judge's findings
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and conclusions.
GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION In addition, it is now too late for petitioner to question the
AND AUTHORITY WHEN IT SUSTAINED jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. It was petitioner who
THE ORDERS OF THE HON. REGIONAL elevated the instant controversy to the Court of Appeals via a
TRIAL COURT (BR. 79) DATED OCTOBER petition for certiorari. In effect, petitioner submitted itself to the
4, 1994, AND THE ORDER DATED jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals by seeking affirmative relief
JANUARY 5, 1995, WHEN SAID RTC (BR. therefrom. If a party invokes the jurisdiction of a court, he
79) INSISTED IN TRYING THIS CASE cannot thereafter challenge that court's jurisdiction in the same
AGAINST TCMC WHEN IT HAS RULED case. 7 To do otherwise would amount to speculating on the
ALREADY IN A FINAL ORDER THAT fortune of litigation, which is against the policy of the Court.
On the issue of prescription, we have ruled that even if a co- and for how much. This court therefore cannot
owner sells the whole property as his, the sale will affect only rule on that.
his own share but not those of the other co-owners who did not In its four-page Decision, Respondent Court reversed the trial
consent to the sale. 8 Under Article 493 of the Civil Code, the court on the ground that petitioner failed to adduce sufficient
sale or other disposition affects only the seller's share pro evidence to prove that his parents were legally married to each
indiviso, and the transferee gets only what corresponds to his other and that acquisitive prescription against him had set in.
grantor's share in the partition of the property owned in The assailed Decision disposed:9
common. Since a co-owner is entitled to sell his undivided WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES the
share, a sale of the entire property by one co-owner without the appealed decision.
consent of the other co-owners is not null and void. However, In lieu thereof, the Court hereby DISMISSES
only the rights of the co-owner/seller are transferred, thereby the [petitioner's] complaint and the
making the buyer a co-owner of the property. The proper action counterclaim thereto.
in a case like this, is not for the nullification of the sale, or for Without costs.
the recovery of possession of the property owned in common Respondent Court denied reconsideration in its impugned
from the third person, but for division or partition of the entire Resolution which reads: 10
property if it continued to remain in the possession of the co- The Court DENIES defendants-appellants'
owners who possessed and administered it. 9Such partition motion for reconsideration, dated December
should result in segregating the portion belonging to the seller 15, 1994, for lack of merit. There are no new
and its delivery to the buyer.1wphi1.nt or substantial matters raised in the motion that
In the light of the foregoing, petitioner's defense of prescription merit the modification of the decision.
against an action for partition is a vain proposition. Pursuant to Hence, this petition. 11
Article 494 of the Civil Code, "no co-owner shall be obliged to The Facts
remain in the co-ownership. Such co-owner may demand at The assailed Decision recites the factual background of this
anytime the partition of the thing owned in common, insofar as case, as follows: 12
his share is concerned." In Budlong vs. Bondoc, 10 this Court has On August 10, 1978, plaintiff [herein
interpreted said provision of law to mean that the action for petitioner] filed with the Court of First
partition is imprescriptible. It cannot be barred by prescription. Instance of Aklan, Kalibo, Aklan, an action for
For Article 494 of the Civil Code explicitly declares: "No partition of four (4) parcels of land, described
prescription shall lie in favor of a co-owner or co-heirs as long therein, claiming that he was the son of the
as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership." late Inocentes Trinidad, one of three (3)
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed children of Patricio Trinidad, who was the
decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs original owner of the parcels of land. Patricio
against petitioners. Trinidad died in 1940, leaving the four (4)
SO ORDERED. parcels of land to his three (3) children,
Inocentes, Lourdes and Felix. In 1970,
plaintiff demanded from the defendants to
partition the land into three (3) equal shares
and to give him the one-third (1/3) individual
G.R. No. 118904 April 20, 1998 share of his late father, but the defendants
ARTURIO TRINIDAD, petitioner, refused.
vs. In their answer, filed on September 07, 1978,
COURT OF APPEALS, FELIX TRINIDAD (deceased) and defendants denied that plaintiff was the son of
LOURDES TRINIDAD, respondents. the late Inocentes Trinidad. Defendants
contended that Inocentes was single when he
died in 1941 , before plaintiff's birth.
PANGANIBAN, J.: Defendants also denied that plaintiff had lived
In the absence of a marriage contract and a birth certificate, how with them, and claimed that the parcels of land
may marriage and filiation be proven? described in the complaint had been in their
The Case possession since the death of their father in
This is the main question raised in this petition for review 1940 and that they had not given plaintiff a
on certiorari challenging the Court of Appeals 1 Decision share in the produce of the land.
promulgated December 1, 19942 and Resolution promulgated on Patricio Trinidad and Anastacia Briones were
February 8, 19953 in CA-GR CV No. 23275, which reversed the the parents of three (3) children, namely,
decision of the trial court and dismissed petitioner's action for Inocentes, Lourdes and Felix. When Patricio
partition and damages. died in 1940, survived by the above named
On August 10, 1975, Petitioner Arturio Trinidad filed a children, he left four (4) parcels of land, all
complaint 4 for partition and damages against Private situated at Barrio Tigayon, Kalibo Aklan.
Respondents Felix and Lourdes, both surnamed Trinidad, before Arturio Trinidad, born on July 21, 1943,
the Court of First Instance of Aklan, Branch I. 5 On October 25, claimed to be the legitimate son of the late
1982, Felix died without issue, so he was not substituted as a Inocentes Trinidad.
party.6 Arturio got married in 1966 to Candelaria
On July 4, 1989, the trial court rendered a twenty-page Gaspar, at the age of twenty three (23).
decision 7 in favor of the petitioner, in which it ruled:8 Sometime after the marriage, Arturio
Considering therefore that this court is of the demanded from the defendants that the above-
opinion that plaintiff is the legitimate son of mentioned parcels of land be partitioned into
Inocentes Trinidad, plaintiff is entitled to three (3) equal shares and that he be given the
inherit the property left by his deceased father one-third (1/3) individual shares of his late
which is 1/3 of the 4 parcels of land subject father, but defendants refused.
matter of this case. Although the plaintiff had In order to appreciate more clearly the evidence adduced by
testified that he had been receiving [his] share both parties, this Court hereby reproduces pertinent portions of
from said land before and the same was the trial court's decision: 13
stopped, there was no evidence introduced as EVIDENCE FOR THE PLAINTIFF:
to what year he stopped receiving his share
Plaintiff presented as his first witness, Jovita Exhibit C-1 and the name of Inocentes
Gerardo, 77 years old, (at the time she Trinidad and Felicidad Molato as father and
testified in 1981) who is the barangay captain mother respectively, were marked as Exhibit
of barrio Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan, since 1972. C-2. The date of birth being July 21, 1943 was
She testified that before being elected as also marked. The signature of Monsignor
barrio captain she held the position of barrio Iturralde was also identified.
council-woman for 4 years. Also she was [a On cross-examination, witness testified that
member of the] board of director[s] of the she [knew] the land in question very well as
Parent-Teachers Association of Tigayon, she used to pass by it always. It was located
Kalibo, Aklan. That she knows the plaintiff just near her house but she cannot exactly tell
because they are neighbors and she knows him the area as she merely passes by it. When
from the time of his birth. She knows the asked if she [knew] the photographer who
father of the plaintiff as Inocentes Trinidad took the pictures presented as Exhibit A and B,
and his mother Felicidad Molato; both were witness answered she does not know as she
already dead, Inocentes having died in 1944 was not present during the picture taking.
and his wife died very much later. Witness However, she can identify everybody in the
recalls plaintiff was born in 1943 in Barrio picture as she knows all of them.
Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan, on July 21, 1943. At At this stage of the trial, Felix Trinidad [died]
the time of the birth of the plaintiff, the house without issue and he was survived by his only
of the witness was about 30 meters away from sister, Lourdes Trinidad, who is his co-
plaintiff's parents['] house and she used to go defendant in this case.
there 2 or 3 times a week. That she knows Next witness for the plaintiff was ISABEL
both the defendants as they are also neighbors. MEREN who was 72 years old and a widow.
That both Felix and Lourdes Trinidad are the She testified having known Inocentes Trinidad
uncle and aunt of Arturio because Inocentes as the father of Arturio Trinidad and that
Trinidad who is the father of the plaintiff is the Inocentes, Felix and Lourdes are brothers and
brother of the defendants, Felix and Lourdes sister and that their father was Patricio
Trinidad. She testified she also knows that the Trinidad who left them 4 parcels of land. That
father of Inocentes, Felix and Lourdes[,] all she knew Inocentes Trinidad and Felicidad
surnamed Trinidad[,] was Patricio Trinidad Molato who are the parents of Arturio, the
who is already dead but left several parcels of plaintiff, were married in New Washington,
land which are the 4 parcels subject of this Aklan, by a protestant pastor by the name of
litigation. That she knows all these [parcels Lauriano Lajaylajay. That she knows Felicidad
of] land because they are located in Barrio Molato and Lourdes Trinidad very well
Tigayon. because as a farmer she also owns a parcel of
When asked about the adjoining owners or land [and] she used to invite Felicidad and
boundaries of the 4 parcels of land, witness Lourdes to help her during planting and
answered and mentioned the respective harvesting season. That she knows that during
adjoining owners. That she knew these 4 the lifetime of Inocentes the three of them,
parcels belonged to Patricio Trinidad because Inocentes, Felix and Lourdes possessed and
said Patricio Trinidad was a native also of usufructed the 4 parcels they inherited from
Barrio Tigayon. Said Patricio died before the their father, Patricio. That upon the death of
[war] and after his death the land went to his 3 Inocentes, Lourdes Trinidad was in possession
children, namely: Inocentes, Felix and of the property without giving the widow of
Lourdes. Since then the land was never Inocentes any share of the produce. As
partitioned or divided among the 3 children of Lourdes outlived her two brothers, namely:
Patricio. Felix and Inocentes, she was the one
A picture, Exhibit A, was shown to the witness possessing and usufructing the 4 parcels of
for identification and she identified a woman land up to the present. The witness testified
in the picture as the defendant, Lourdes that upon the death of Inocentes, Lourdes took
Trinidad. A man with a hat holding a baby was Arturio and cared for him when he was still
identified by her as Felix Trinidad, the small, about 3 years old, until Arturio grew up
defendant. The other woman in the picture and got married. That while Arturio was
was pointed by the witness as the wife of the growing up, he had also enjoyed the produce
plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad. When asked if of the land while he was being taken care of
Arturio Trinidad and Lourdes Trinidad and by Lourdes Trinidad. That a misunderstanding
Felix Trinidad pointed to by her in the picture later on arose when Arturio Trinidad wanted to
are the same Arturio, Felix and Lourdes, who get his father's share but Lourdes Trinidad will
are the plaintiff and the defendants in this not give it to him.
case, witness answered yes. Plaintiff, ARTURIO TRINIDAD, himself, was
Another picture marked as Exhibit B was presented as witness. He testified that
presented to the witness for identification. She defendants, Lourdes and Felix Trinidad, are
testified the woman in this picture as Lourdes his aunt and uncle, they being the brother and
Trinidad. In said picture, Lourdes Trinidad sister of his father. That the parents of his
was holding a child which witness identified father and the defendants were Patricio
as the child Arturio Trinidad. When asked by Trinidad and Anastacia Briones. That both his
the court when . . . the picture [was] taken, father, Inocentes Trinidad, and mother,
counsel for the plaintiff answered, in 1966. Felicidad Molato, were already dead having
When asked if Arturio Trinidad was baptized, died in Tigayon, his father having died in 1944
witness answered yes, as she had gone to the and his mother about 25 years ago.
house of his parents. Witness then identified As proof that he is the son of Inocentes
the certificate of baptism marked as Exhibit C. Trinidad and Felicidad Molato, he showed a
The name Arturio Trinidad was marked as certificate of baptism which had been
previously marked as Exhibit C. That his birth Parcel 1 is covered by Tax Decl. No. 11609 in
certificate was burned during World War 2 hut the name of Patricio Trinidad while parcel 2 is
he has a certificate of loss issued by the Civil covered by Tax Decl. No. 10626 in the name
Registrar of Kalibo, Aklan. of Anastacia Briones and another Tax
When he was 14 years old, the defendants Declaration No. 11637 for Parcel 3 in the
invited him to live with them being their name of Ambrosio Trinidad while Parcel 4 is
nephew as his mother was already dead. covered by Tax Decl. No. 16378 in the name
Plaintiff's mother died when he was 13 years of Patricio Trinidad.
old. They treated him well and provided for all On cross-examination, plaintiff testified that
his needs. He lived with defendants for 5 during the lifetime of his mother they were
years. At the age of 19, he left the house of the getting the share in the produce of the land
defendants and lived on his own. He got like coconuts, palay and corn. Plaintiff further
married at 23 to Candelaria Gaspar and then testified that his father is Inocentes Trinidad
they were invited by the defendants to live and his mother was Felicidad Molato. They
with them. So he and his wife and children were married in New Washington, Aklan, by a
lived with the defendants. As proof that he and certain Atty. Lajaylajay. When asked if this
his family lived with the defendants when the Atty. Lajaylajay is a municipal judge of New
latter invited him to live with them, he Washington, Aklan, plaintiff answered he does
presented a picture previously marked as not know because he was not yet born at that
Exhibit B where there appears his aunt, time. That he does not have the death
Lourdes Trinidad, carrying plaintiff's daughter, certificate of his father who died in 1944
his uncle and his wife. In short, it is a family because it was wartime. That after the death of
picture according to him. Another family his father, he lived with his mother and when
picture previously marked Exhibit A shows his his mother died[,] he lived with his aunt and
uncle, defendant Felix Trinidad, carrying uncle, the defendants in this case. That during
plaintiff's son. According to him, these 2 the lifetime of his mother, it was his mother
pictures were taken when he and his wife and receiving the share of the produce of the land.
children were living with the defendants. That That both defendants, namely Lourdes and
a few years after having lived with them, the Felix Trinidad, are single and they have no
defendants made them vacate the house for he other nephews and nieces. That [petitioner's]
requested for partition of the land to get his highest educational attainment is Grade 3.
share. He moved out and looked for [a] lawyer EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENDANTS:
to handle his case. He testified there are 4 First witness for the defendants was PEDRO
parcels of land in controversy of which parcel BRIONES, 68 years old, unemployed and a
1 is an upland. resident of Nalook, Kalibo, Aklan. He testified
Parcel 1 is 1,000 square meters, [has] 10 having known the defendants, Felix and
coconut trees and fruit bearing. The harvest is Lourdes Trinidad. They being his first cousins
100 coconuts every 4 months and the cost of because the mother of Lourdes and Felix by
coconuts is P2.00 each. The boundaries are: the name of Anastacia Briones and his father
East-Federico Inocencio; West-Teodulo are sister and brother. That he also knew
Dionesio; North-Teodulo Dionesio; and Inocentes Trinidad being the brother of Felix
South-Bulalio Briones; located at Tigayon. and Lourdes and he is already dead.
Parcel 2 is an upland with an area of 500 According to the witness, Inocentes Trinidad
square meters; it has only 1 coconut tree and 1 [died] in 1940 and at the time of his death
bamboo groove; also located in Tigayon, Inocentes Trinidad was not married. That he
Kalibo, Aklan. Adjoining owners are: East- knew this fact because at the time of the death
Ambrosio Trinidad; North-Federico of Inocentes Trinidad he was then residing
Inocencio, West-Patricio Trinidad and South- with his aunt, "Nanay Taya", referring to
Gregorio Briones. Anastacia Briones who is mother of the
Parcel 3 is about 12,000 square meters and 1/4 defendants, Felix and Lourdes Trinidad, as
of that belongs to Patricio Trinidad, the well as Inocentes Trinidad. That at the time of
deceased father of the defendants and the death of Inocentes Trinidad, according to
Inocentes, the father of the plaintiff. this witness he stayed with his aunt, Anastacia
Parcel 4 is a riceland with an area of 5,000 Trinidad, and with his children before 1940
square meters. The harvest is 40 cavans two for only 3 months. When asked if he knew
times a years [sic]. Adjoining owners are: Inocentes Trinidad cohabited with anybody
East-Gregorio Briones; West-Bulalio Briones; before his death, he answered, "That I do not
South-Federico Inocencio and North-Digna know", neither does he kn[o]w a person by the
Carpio. name of Felicidad Molato. Furthermore, when
Parcel 1 is Lot No. 903. asked if he can recall if during the lifetime of
Parcel 2 is Lot No. 864 of the cadastral survey Inocentes Trinidad witness knew of anybody
of Kalibo and only Lot 864-A with an area of with whom said Inocentes Trinidad had lived
540 square meters is the subject of litigation. as husband and wife, witness, Pedro Briones,
Parcel 3 is Lot No. 979 of the cadastral survey answered that he could not recall because he
of Kalibo covered by Tax Decl. No. 703310 was then in Manila working. That after the
with reference to one of the owners of the war, he had gone back to the house of his aunt,
land, Patricio Trinidad married to Anastacia Anastacia, at Tigayon, Kalibo, as he always
Briones, one-half share. visit[s] her every Sunday, however, he does
Parcel 4 is covered by Original Certificate of not know the plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad. When
Title No. 22502 RO-174 covering Lot No. 863 asked if after the death of Inocentes Trinidad,
of the cadastral survey of Kalibo. The title is he knew anybody who has stayed with the
in the name of Patricio Trinidad married to defendants who claimed to be a son of
Anastacia Briones.
Inocentes Trinidad, witness, Pedro Briones, inasmuch as Felix and Inocentes are already
answered: "I do not know about that." dead, she is the only remaining daughter of the
On cross examination, witness testified that spouses Patricio Trinidad and Anastacia
although he was born in Tigayon, Kalibo, Briones. Defendant, Lourdes Trinidad,
Aklan, he stated to reside in Nalook, Kalibo, testified that her brother, Felix Trinidad, died
as the hereditary property of their father was without a wife and children, in the same
located there. When asked if he was aware of manner that her brother, Inocentes Trinidad,
the 4 parcels of land which is the subject died without a wife and children. She herself
matter of this case before the court, witness testified that she does not have any family of
answered that he does not know. What he her own for she has [no] husband or children.
knew is that among the 3 children of Patricio According to her[,] when Inocentes Trinidad
Trinidad, Inocentes is the eldest. And that at [died] in 1941, they buried him in their private
the time of the death of Inocentes in 1940, lot in Tigayon because nobody will carry his
according to the witness when cross coffin as it was wartime and the municipality
examined, Inocentes Trinidad was around 65 of Kalibo was occupied by the Japanese
years old. That according to him, his aunt, forces. When further cross-examined that I[t]
Anastacia Briones, was already dead before could not be true that Inocentes Trinidad died
the war. When asked on cross examination if in March 1941 because the war broke out in
he knew where Inocentes Trinidad was buried December 1941 and March 1941 was still
when he died in 1940, witness answered that peace time, the witness could not answer the
he was buried in their own land because the question. When she was presented with
Japanese forces were roaming around the Exhibit A which is the alleged family picture
place. When confronted with Exhibit A which wherein she was holding was [sic] the child of
is the alleged family picture of the plaintiff Arturio Trinidad, she answered; "Yes." and the
and the defendants, witness was able to child that she is holding is Clarita Trinidad,
identify the lady in the picture, which had child of Arturio Trinidad. According to her,
been marked as Exhibit A-1, as Lourdes she was only requested to hold this child to be
Trinidad, and the man wearing a hat on the brought to the church because she will be
said picture marked as Exhibit 2-A is Felix baptized and that the baptism took place in the
Trinidad. However, when asked if he knew the parish church of Kalibo. When asked if there
plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, he said he does not was a party, she answered; "Maybe there
know him. was." When confronted with Exhibit A-1
Next witness for the defendants was the which is herself in the picture carrying the
defendant herself, LOURDES TRINIDAD. child, witness identified herself and explained
She stated that she is 75 years old, single and that she was requested to bring the child to the
jobless. She testified that Inocentes Trinidad church and that the picture taken together with
was her brother and he is already dead and he her brother and Arturio Trinidad and the
died in 1941 in Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan. That latter's child was taken during the time when
before the death of her brother, Inocentes she and Arturio Trinidad did not have a case in
Trinidad, he had gone to Manila where he court yet. She likewise identified the man with
stayed for a long time and returned to Tigayon a hat holding a child marked as Exhibit A-2 as
in 1941. According to her, upon arrival from her brother, Felix. When asked if the child
Manila in 1941 his brother, Inocentes being carried by her brother, Felix Trinidad, is
Trinidad, lived only for 15 days before he another child of the plaintiff, witness
died. While his brother was in Manila, witness answered she does not know because her eyes
testified she was not aware that he had are already blurred. Furthermore, when asked
married anybody. Likewise, when he arrived to identify the woman in the picture who was
in Tigayon in 1941, he also did [not] get at the right of the child held by her brother,
married. When asked if she knew one by the Felix, and who was previously identified by
name of Felicidad Molato, witness answered plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, as his wife, witness
she knew her because Felicidad Molato was answered that she cannot identify because she
staying in Tigayon. However, according to had a poor eyesight neither can she identify
her[,] she does not kn[o]w if her brother, plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, holding another
Inocentes Trinidad, had lived with Felicidad child in the picture for the same reason. When
Molato as husband and wife. When asked if asked by counsel for the plaintiff if she knows
she knew the plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, she that the one who took this picture was the son
said, "Yes," but she denied that Arturio of Ambrosio Trinidad by the name of Julito
Trinidad had lived with them. According to Trinidad who was also their cousin, witness
the witness, Arturio Trinidad did not live with testified that she does not know.
the defendants but he stayed with his Third witness for the defendants was
grandmother by the name of Maria BEATRIZ TRINIDAD SAYON who testified
Concepcion, his mother, Felicidad Molato, that she knew Arturio Trinidad because he was
having died already. When asked by the court her neighbor in Tigayon. In the same manner
if there had been an instance when the that she also knew the defendants, Felix and
plaintiff had lived with her even for days, Lourdes, and Inocentes all surnamed Trinidad
witness answered, he did not. When further because they were her cousins. She testified
asked if Arturio Trinidad went to visit her in that a few months after the war broke out
her house, witness also said, "He did not." Inocentes Trinidad died in their lola's house
Upon cross examination by counsel for the whose names was Eugenia Rufo Trinidad. She
plaintiff, Lourdes Trinidad testified that her further testified that Inocentes Trinidad had
parents, Anastacia Briones and Patricio lived almost in his lifetime in Manila and he
Trinidad, had 3 children, namely: Inocentes went home only when his father fetched him
Trinidad, Felix Trinidad and herself. But in Manila because he was already sick. That
according to her, about 1 1/2 months after his final judgment, in a public document or a
arrival from Manila, Inocentes Trinidad died. private handwritten instrument, or that he was
She also testified that she knew Felicidad in continuous possession of the status of a
Molato and that Felicidad Molato had never legitimate child.
been married to Inocentes Trinidad. According Two witnesses, Pedro Briones and Beatriz
to her, it was in 1941 when Inocentes Trinidad Trinidad Sayon, testified for the defendants
died. According to her she was horn in 1928, that Inocentes Trinidad never married. He died
therefore, she was 13 or 14 years old when the single in 1941. One witness, Isabel Maren,
war broke out. When asked if she can testified in rebuttal for the plaintiff, that
remember that it was only in the early months Inocentes Trinidad married Felicidad Molato
of the year 1943 when the Japanese occupied in New Washington, Aklan, on May 5, 1942,
Kalibo, she said she [was] not sure. She solemnized by a pastor of the protestant
further testified that Inocentes Trinidad was church and that she attended the wedding
buried in their private lot because Kalibo was ceremony (t.s.n. Sept. 6, 1988, p. 4). Hence,
then occupied by the Japanese forces and there was no preponderant evidence of the
nobody would carry his body to be buried in marriage, nor of Inocentes' acknowledgment
the Poblacion. of plaintiff as his son, who was born on July
For rebuttal evidence, [petitioner] presented 21, 1943.
ISABEL MEREN, who was 76 years old and The right to demand partition does not
a resident of Tigayon. Rebuttal witness prescribe (de Castro vs. Echarri, 20 Phil. 23).
testified that . . . she knew both the [petitioner] Where one of the interested parties openly and
and the [private respondents] in this case very adversely occupies the property without
well as her house is only around 200 meters recognizing the co-ownership (Cordova vs.
from them. When asked if it is true that Cordova, L-9936, January 14, 1958)
according to Lourdes Trinidad, [Inocentes acquisitive prescription may set in (Florenz D.
Trinidad] arrived from Manila in 1941 and he Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Vol.
lived only for 15 days and died, witness I, Fifth Revised Edition, 1988, p. 497).
testified that he did not die in that year Admittedly, the defendants have been in
because he died in the year 1944, and that possession of the parcels of land involved in
Inocentes Trinidad lived with his sister, the concept of owners since their father died
Lourdes Trinidad, in a house which is only in 1940. Even if possession be counted from
across the street from her house. According to 1964, when plaintiff attained the age of
the said rebuttal witness, it is not true that majority, still, defendants possessed the land
Inocentes Trinidad died single because he had for more than ten (10) years, thus acquiring
a wife by the name of Felicidad Molato whom ownership of the same by acquisitive
he married on May 5, 1942 in New prescription (Article 1134, Civil Code of the
Washington, Aklan. That she knew this fact Philippines).
because she was personally present when The Issues
couple was married by Lauriano Lajaylajay, a Petitioner submits the following issues for resolution: 15
protestant pastor. 1. Whether or not petitioner (plaintiff-
On cross examination, rebuttal witness appellee) has proven by preponderant
testified that when Inocentes Trinidad arrived evidence the marriage of his parents.
from Manila he was in good physical 2. Whether or not petitioner (plaintiff-
condition. That she knew both Inocentes appellee) has adduced sufficient evidence to
Trinidad and Felicidad Molato to be Catholics prove that he is the son of the late Inocentes
but that according to her, their marriage was Trinidad, brother of private respondents
solemnized by a Protestant minister and she (defendants-appellants) Felix and Lourdes
was one of the sponsors. That during the Trinidad.
marriage of Inocentes Trinidad and Felicidad 3. Whether or not the Family Code is
Molato, Lourdes Trinidad and Felix Trinidad applicable to the case at bar[,] the decision of
were also present. the Regional Trial Court having been
When plaintiff, ARTURIO TRINIDAD, was promulgated on July 4, 1989, after the Family
presented as rebuttal witness, he was not able Code became effective on August 3, 1988.
to present a marriage contract of his parents 4. Whether or not petitioner's status as a
but instead a certification dated September 5, legitimate child can be attached collaterally by
1978 issued by one Remedios Eleserio of the the private respondents.
Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality of 5. Whether or not of private respondent
New Washington, Aklan, attesting to the fact (defendants-appellants) have acquired
that records of births, deaths, and marriages in ownership of the properties in question by
the municipality of New Washington were acquisitive prescription.
destroyed during the Japanese time. Simply stated, the main issues raised in this petition are:
Respondent Court's Ruling 1. Did petitioner present sufficient evidence of his parents'
In finding that petitioner was not a child, legitimate or marriage and of his filiation?
otherwise, of the late Inocentes Trinidad, Respondent Court 2. Was petitioner's status as a legitimate child subject to
ruled: 14 collateral attack in the action for partition?
We sustain the appeal on the ground that 3. Was his claim time-barred under the rules on acquisitive
plaintiff has not adduced sufficient evidence to prescription?
prove that he is the son of the late Inocentes The Court's Ruling
Trinidad. But the action to claim legitimacy The merits of this petition are patent. The partition of the late
has not prescribed. Patricio's real properties requires preponderant proof that
Plaintiff has not established that he was petitioner is a co-owner or co-heir of the decedent's estate. 16 His
recognized, as a legitimate son of the late right as a co-owner would, in turn, depend on whether he was
Inocentes Trinidad, in the record of birth or a born during the existence of a valid and subsisting marriage
between his mother (Felicidad) and his putative father The first family picture (Exhibit A) shows petitioner (Exhibit A-
(Inocentes). This Court holds that such burden was successfully 5) carrying his second daughter and his wife (Exhibit A-4)
discharged by petitioner and, thus, the reversal of the assailed together with the late Felix Trinidad (Exhibit A-2) carrying
Decision and Resolution is inevitable. petitioner's first daughter, and Lourdes Trinidad (Exhibit A-1).
First and Second Issues: Evidence of and Collateral Exhibit B is another picture showing Lourdes Trinidad (Exhibit
Attack on Filiation B-1) carrying petitioner's first child (Exhibit B-2). These
At the outset, we stress that an appellate court's assessment of pictures were taken before the case was instituted. Although
the evidence presented by the parties will not, as a rule, be they do not directly prove petitioner's filiation to Inocentes, they
disturbed because the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. But show that petitioner was accepted by the private respondents as
in the face of the contradictory conclusions of the appellate and Inocentes' legitimate son ante litem motam.
the trial courts, such rule does not apply here. So, we had to Lourdes' denials of these pictures are hollow and evasive. While
meticulously pore over the records and the evidence adduced in she admitted that Exhibit B shows her holding Clarita Trinidad,
this case. 17 the petitioner's daughter, she demurred that she did so only
Petitioner's first burden is to prove that Inocentes and his mother because she was requested to carry the child before she was
(Felicidad) were validly married, and that he was born during baptized. 29 When shown Exhibit A, she recognized her late
the subsistence of their marriage. This, according to Respondent brother but not petitioner, his wife and the couple's children
Court, he failed to accomplish. slyly explaining that she could not clearly see because of an
This Court disagrees. Pugeda vs. Trias 18 ruled that when the alleged eye defect. 30
question of whether a marriage has been contracted arises in Although a baptismal certificate is indeed not a conclusive proof
litigation, said marriage may be proven by relevant evidence. To of filiation, it is one of "the other means allowed under the Rules
prove the fact of marriage, the following would constitute of Court and special laws" to show pedigree, as this Court ruled
competent evidence: the testimony of a witness to the in Mendoza vs. Court of Appeals: 31
matrimony, the couple's public and open cohabitation as What both the trial court and the respondent
husband and wife after the alleged wedlock, the birth and the court did not take into account is that an
baptismal certificates of children born during such union, and illegitimate child is allowed to establish his
the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents. 19 claimed filiation by "any other means allowed
In the case at bar, petitioner secured a certification 20 from the by the Rules of Court and special laws,"
Office of the Civil Registrar of Aklan that all records of births, according to the Civil Code, or "by evidence
deaths and marriages were either lost, burned or destroyed of proof in his favor that the defendant is her
during the Japanese occupation of said municipality. This fact, father," according to the Family Code. Such
however, is not fatal to petitioner's case. Although the marriage evidence may consist of his baptismal
contract is considered the primary evidence of the marital union, certificate, a judicial admission, a family Bible
petitioner's failure to present it is not proof that no marriage took in which his name has been entered, common
place, as other forms of relevant evidence may take its place. 21 reputation respecting his pedigree, admission
In place of a marriage contract, two witnesses were presented by by silence, the testimony of witnesses, and
petitioner: Isabel Meren, who testified that she was present other kinds of proof admissible under Rule
during the nuptial of Felicidad and Inocentes on May 5, 1942 in 130 of the Rules of Court. [Justice Alicia
New Washington, Aklan; and Jovita Gerardo, who testified that Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code of
the couple deported themselves as husband and wife after the the Phil. 1988 ed., p. 246]
marriage. Gerardo, the 77-year old barangay captain of Tigayon Concededly, because Gerardo was not shown to be a member of
and former board member of the local parent-teachers' the Trinidad family by either consanguinity or affinity, 32 her
association, used to visit Inocentes and Felicidad's house twice testimony does not constitute family reputation regarding
or thrice a week, as she lived only thirty meters away. 22 On July pedigree. Hence, it cannot, by itself, be used to establish
21, 1943, Gerardo dropped by Inocentes' house when Felicidad petitioner's legitimacy.
gave birth to petitioner. She also attended petitioner's baptismal Be that as it may, the totality of petitioner's positive evidence
party held at the same house. 23 Her testimony constitutes clearly preponderates over private respondents' self-serving
evidence of common reputation respecting marriage. 24 It further negations. In sum, private respondents' thesis is that Inocentes
gives rise to the disputable presumption that a man and a woman died unwed and without issue in March 1941. Private
deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a respondents' witness, Pedro Briones, testified that Inocentes died
lawful contract of marriage. 25 Petitioner also presented his in 1940 and was buried in the estate of the Trinidads, because
baptismal certificate (Exhibit C) in which Inocentes and nobody was willing to carry the coffin to the cemetery in
Felicidad were named as the child's father and mother. 26 Kalibo, which was then occupied by the Japanese forces. His
On the other hand, filiation may be proven by the following: testimony, however, is far from credible because he stayed with
Art. 265. The filiation of legitimate children is the Trinidads for only three months, and his answers on direct
proved by the record of birth appearing in the examination were noncommittal and evasive: 33
Civil Register, or by an authentic document or Q: At the time of his death,
a final judgment. can you tell the Court if this
Art. 266. In the absence of the titles indicated Inocentes Trinidad was
in the preceding article, the filiation shall be married or not?
proved by the continuous possession of status A: Not married.
of a legitimate child. Q: In 1940 at the time of
Art. 267. In the absence of a record of birth, death of Inocentes Trinidad,
authentic document, final judgment or where were you residing?
possession of status, legitimate filiation may A: I was staying with them.
be proved by any other means allowed by the Q: When you said "them",
Rules of Court and special laws. 27 to whom are you referring to
Petitioner submitted in evidence a certification 28 that records [sic]?
relative to his birth were either destroyed during the last world A: My aunt Nanay Taya,
war or burned when the old town hall was razed to the ground Anastacia.
on June 17, 1956. To prove his filiation, he presented in xxx xxx xxx
evidence two family pictures, his baptismal certificate and Q: Will you please tell the
Gerardo's testimony. Court for how long did you
stay with your aunt
Anastacia Trinidad and his facts, the probability or improbability of their testimony, their
children before 1940? interest or want thereof, and their personal
A: For only three months. credibility. 40 Applying this rule, the trial court significantly and
Q: Now, you said at the time convincingly held that the weight of evidence was in petitioner's
of his death, Inocentes favor. It declared:
Trinidad was single. Do you . . . [O]ne thing sure is the fact that plaintiff
know if he had cohabited had lived with defendants enjoying the status
with anybody before his of being their nephew . . . before plaintiff
death? [had] gotten married and had a family of his
A: [T]hat I do not know. own where later on he started demanding for
Q: You know a person by the partition of the share of his father,
the name of Felicidad Inocentes. The fact that plaintiff had so lived
Molato? with the defendants . . . is shown by the
A: No, sir. alleged family pictures, Exhibits A & B. These
Q: Can you recall if during family pictures were taken at a time when
the lifetime of Inocentes plaintiff had not broached the idea of getting
Trinidad if you have known his father's share. . . . His demand for the
of anybody with whom he partition of the share of his father provoked
has lived as husband and the ire of the defendants, thus, they disowned
wife? him as their nephew. . . . In this case, the
A: I could not recall because plaintiff enjoyed the continuous possession of
I was then in Manila a status of the child of the alleged father by
working. the direct acts of the defendants themselves,
Q: After the war, do you which status was only broken when plaintiff
remember having gone back demanded for the partition . . . as he was
to the house of your aunt already having a family of his own. . . . .
Anastacia at Tigayon, However, the disowning by the defendant
Kalibo, Aklan? [private respondent herein], Lourdes Trinidad,
A: Yes, sir. of the plaintiff [petitioner herein] being her
Q: How often did you go to nephew is offset by the preponderance of
the house of your aunt? evidence, among them the testimony of
A: Every Sunday. witness, Jovita Gerardo, who is the barrio
xxx xxx xxx captain. This witness was already 77 years old
Q: You know the plaintiff at the time she testified. Said witness had no
Arturio Trinidad? reason to favor the plaintiff. She had been a
A: I do not know him. PTA officer and the court sized her up as a
Q: After the death of civic minded person. She has nothing to gain
Inocentes Trinidad, do you in this case as compared to the witness for the
know if there was anybody defendants who are either cousin or nephew of
who has stayed with the Lourdes Trinidad who stands to gain in the
defendants who claimed to case for defendant, Lourdes Trinidad, being
be a son of Inocentes already 75 years old, has no husband nor
Trinidad? children. 41
A: I do not know about that. Doctrinally, a collateral attack on filiation is not
Beatriz Sayon, the other witness of private respondent, testified, permitted. 42 Rather than rely on this axiom, petitioner chose to
that when the Japanese occupied Kalibo in 1941, her father present evidence of his filiation and of his parents' marriage.
brought Inocentes from Manila to Tigayon because he was sick. Hence, there is no more need to rule on the application of this
Inocentes stayed with their grandmother, Eugenia Roco doctrine to petitioner's cause.
Trinidad, and died single and without issue in March 1941, one Third Issue: No Acquisitive Prescription
and a half months after his return to Tigayon. She knew Respondent Court ruled that, because acquisitive prescription
Felicidad Molato, who was also a resident of Tigayon, but sets in when one of the interested parties openly and adversely
denied that Felicidad was ever married to Inocentes. 34 occupies the property without recognizing the co-ownership,
Taking judicial notice that World War II did not start until and because private respondents had been in possession in
December 7, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the concept of owners of the parcels of land in issue since
the trial court was not convinced that Inocentes dies in March Patricio died in 1940, they acquired ownership of these parcels.
1941. 35 The Japanese forces occupied Manila only on January The Court disagrees. Private respondents have not acquired
2, 1942; 36 thus, it stands to reason that Aklan was not occupied ownership of the property in question by acquisitive
until then. It was only then that local residents were unwilling to prescription. In a co-ownership, the act of one benefits all the
bury their dead in the cemetery In Kalibo, because of the other co-owners, unless the former repudiates the co-
Japanese soldiers who were roaming around the area. 37 ownership.43 Thus, no prescription runs in favor of a co-owner
Furthermore, petitioner consistently used Inocentes' surname or co-heir against his or her co-owners or co-heirs, so long as he
(Trinidad) without objection from private respondents a or she expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership.
presumptive proof of his status as Inocentes' legitimate child. 38 In this particular case, it is undisputed that, prior to the action
Preponderant evidence means that, as a whole, the evidence for partition, petitioner, in the concept of a co-owner, was
adduced by one side outweighs that of the adverse receiving from private respondents his share of the produce of
party. 39 Compared to the detailed (even if awkwardly written) the land in dispute. Until such time, recognition of the co-
ruling of the trial court, Respondent Court's holding that ownership by private respondents was beyond question. There is
petitioner failed to prove his legitimate filiation to Inocentes is no evidence, either, of their repudiation, if any, of the co-
unconvincing. In determining where the preponderance of ownership of petitioner's father Inocentes over the land. Further,
evidence lies, a trial court may consider all the facts and the titles of these pieces of land were still in their father's name.
circumstances of the case, including the witnesses' manner of Although private respondents had possessed these parcels
testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of openly since 1940 and had not shared with petitioner the
knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the produce of the land during the pendency of this case, still, they
manifested no repudiation of the co-ownership. In Mariategui the subject properties partitioned based on the percentage of
vs. Court of Appeals, the Court held: 44 each co-owners respective share.
. . . Corollarily, prescription does not run again A realtor was even engaged to prepare the schemes by which the
private respondents with respect to the filing subject properties could be physically partitioned among the co-
of the action for partition so long as the heirs owners. However, the defendant-appellant Austria refused to
for whose benefit prescription is invoked, accede to any of the schemes presented by the realtor for the
have not expressly or impliedly repudiated the physical apportionment of the subject properties between the co-
co-ownership. In the other words, prescription owners thereof.
of an action for partition does not lie except Because of the refusal of the defendant-appellant Austria to
when the co-ownership is properly repudiated partition the property, and the inability of the co-owners to
by the co-owner (Del Banco vs. Intermediate mutually agree on an arrangement acceptable to all of them, on
Appellate Court, 156 SCRA 55 July 1, 1997, the plaintiffs-appellees filed a complaint with the
[1987] citing Jardin vs. Hollasco, 117 SCRA Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 142, which was
532 [1982]). docketed as Civil Case No. 97-1485, against the defendant-
Otherwise stated, a co-owner cannot acquire appellant Austria and two other defendants namely Benedicto
by prescription the share of the other co- Quintos and Antonio Quintos (as unwilling co-plaintiffs) for
owners absent a clear repudiation of co- partition of the subject property.
ownership duly communicated to the other co- Within the period for filing an answer, the defendant-appellant
owners (Mariano vs. De Vega, 148 SCRA 342 Austria filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss.
[1987]). Furthermore, an action to demand In its order dated November 10, 1997, the lower court denied
partition is imprescriptible and cannot be the omnibus motion to dismiss of the defendant-appellant
barred by laches (Del Banco vs. IAC, 156 Austria, and directed the defendants to file their answer within
SCRA 55 (1987). On the other hand, an action the remaining period provided by the Rules.
for partition may be seen to be at once an Within the prescriptive period, the defendant-appellant Austria
action for declaration of co-ownership and for filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the November 10, 1997
segregation and conveyance of a determinate order, which the lower court denied in an order dated February
portion of the property involved (Rogue vs. 2, 1998.
IAC, 165 SCRA 118 [1988]). Not satisfied, the defendant-appellant Austria filed before the
Considering the foregoing, Respondent Court committed Court of Appeals a Petition for certiorari and prohibition under
reversible error in holding that petitioner's claim over the land in Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court which was docketed
dispute was time-barred. as CA-GR SP No. 46907, seeking to annul the orders of
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed November 10, 1997 and February 2, 1998.
Decision and Resolution are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The In a Resolution dated July 9, 1998, the Court of Appeals
trial court's decision dated July 4, 1989 is REINSTATED. No required the plaintiffs-appellees to comment, and temporarily
costs. restrained the respondent judge, his agents, representatives, and
SO ORDERED. other persons acting in his behalf from proceeding with Civil
Case No. 97-1485 in order that the petition may not become
moot and academic.
On November 9, 1998, the defendant-appellant Austria received
a copy of the Decision dated October 30, 1998 dismissing her
petition for certiorari and prohibition. The defendant-appellant
G.R. No. 170080 April 4, 2007 Austria moved for the reconsideration thereof.
CONSOLACION Q. AUSTRIA, Petitioner, Subsequently, on July 19, 2001, defendant-appellant Austria
vs. received a copy of the Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated
CONSTANCIA Q. LICHAUCO, CONSUELO Q. July 9, 2001, denying her motion for reconsideration of the
JALANDONI, JOSE ALBERTO L. QUINTOS, RICARDO decision denying her petition for certiorari and prohibition.
M. QUINTOS, JR., AILEEN M. QUINTOS and TYRONE Undaunted, the defendant-appellant Austria then filed a petition
M. QUINTOS, Respondents. for review under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court with the
DECISION Supreme Court.
TINGA, J.: In a resolution dated October 15, 2001, the Supreme Court
Petitioner Consolacion Q. Austria assails the Decision 1 of the denied the said petition for review for non-compliance with the
Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 68591 dated June 21, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to pay on time docket
2005 and its Resolution2 dated October 7, 2005, which and other fees and deposit costs in violation of Sec. 3, Rule 45
respectively affirmed the decision3 of the Regional Trial Court in relation to Sec. 5(c), Rule 56.
of Makati City, Branch 142, dated February 14, 2000 and its Still not satisfied, on November 9, 2001, the defendant-appellant
order4 dated August 7, 2000, and denied petitioners motion for Austria filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution dated
reconsideration. October 15, 2001 denying her petition for review.
The facts as narrated by the Court of Appeals are as follows: In its resolution dated January 24, 2002, the Supreme Court
Plaintiffs-appellees Constancia Lichauco, Consuelo Jalandoni, denied with finality the petitioners motion for reconsideration.
defendants Benedicto Quintos and Antonio Quintos, and During the pendency of the defendant-appellants petition for
defendant-appellant Consolacion Austria are siblings of full certiorari and prohibition before the Court, the plaintiffs-
blood. Jose Alberto, Ricardo, Jr., Aileen and Tyrone, all appellees filed with the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
surnamed Quintos, are the nephews and niece of the defendant- Branch 142 where the main case is pending, a motion dated
appellant. April 6, 1998 praying that a declaration of default be issued
The above-named persons are co-owners of two (2) parcels of against all defendants and for plaintiffs to be allowed to present
land with an aggregate area of six hundred sixty one (661) evidence ex-parte.
square meters located in Palanan, Makati City. The aforesaid In an order dated July 13, 1998, the Presiding Judge of the
parcels of land have permanent improvements thereon which Regional Trial Court of Makati City held in abeyance the
straddle both lots, namely, a residential bungalow and two (2) proceedings before it while awaiting the resolution of the
units, two-storey apartments, the titles of which are registered motion for reconsideration pending before the Court of Appeals.
jointly in the names of the parties as co-owners thereof. Notwithstanding the order holding in abeyance the proceedings
The plaintiffs-appellees allege that sometime in the early part of in the lower court, plaintiffs-appellees filed a Manifestation and
1996, they informed defendant-appellant of their desire to have Motion dated September 14, 1998 praying for the resolution of
their Motion dated April 6, 1998. In its order dated September correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, petitioner was declared
25, 1998, the lower court deemed the incident submitted for in default because of her adamant refusal to file an answer
resolution. despite being required to do so.
While the motion for reconsideration filed by the appellant is The factual circumstances in the cases of Heirs of Akut v. Court
still pending before the Court of Appeals, the lower court in its of Appeals9 and Ampeloquio v. Court of Appeals,10cited by
order dated July 6, 1999 declared the defendants in default, set petitioner in pleading liberality, are markedly different from this
the reception of ex-parte evidence, and commissioned the case. In Heirs of Akut, petitioners were not able to file an answer
Branch Clerk of Court to receive the ex-parte evidence and to within the reglementary period because they failed to obtain the
submit her corresponding report thereon as soon as the same is services of counsel on time and two of the petitioners were then
concluded. sick. In Ampeloquio, the trial courts order denying defendants
On On August 4, 1999, the defendant-appellant Austria filed motion to dismiss was mistakenly served upon one of its
a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated July 6, 1999 counsels on record and not upon the lawyer in charge of the
with an urgent prayer to cancel plaintiffs ex parte presentation case. Consequently, the answer was not filed on time. In both
of evidence on August 9, 1999, which was however denied by cases, there was no indication that the failure to answer was
the lower court, for lack of merit, in an order dated January 14, intended to delay the case.
2000. In contrast, the facts of this case suggest an intention on the part
The plaintiffs-appellees then presented their evidence ex- of petitioner to delay the proceedings. The complaint was first
parte on January 28, 2000. filed in 1997 but is only now being finally laid to rest because of
The assailed decision was subsequently rendered by the lower several procedural stumbling blocks, including the elevation of
court on February 14, 2000, finding in favor of the plaintiffs- the case to this Court on the issue of the propriety of the trial
appellees. courts denial of petitioners motion to dismiss, hurled by
A motion for new trial was thereafter filed by the defendant- petitioner one after the other.
appellant Austria, which was, in an order dated August 7, 2000, Parenthetically, the appellate court initially issued a temporary
denied for lack of merit.5 restraining order as an incident to the petition for certiorari filed
Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals which by petitioner questioning the trial courts order denying her
dismissed her petition and affirmed the trial courts decision but motion to dismiss but the restraining order was lifted after its
deleted the order that petitioner pay reasonable rental for her use 60-day validity.11 The expiration of the temporary restraining
of a portion of the disputed properties. The appellate court order resulted in the running of the prescribed period to file an
denied reconsideration. answer and the continuation of the proceedings before the trial
In assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals, petitioner court. Petitioners obstinate refusal to file an answer to the
avers that her motion for new trial and appeal of the judgment complaint despite these circumstances clearly justifies the
by default are valid remedies under the Rules of Court. She declaration of default by the trial court and its affirmation by the
insists that the appellate court erred in not reversing the Court of Appeals.
declaration of default despite the fact that she questioned the This case has crept, ever so slowly, up the ladder of judicial
default order in the petition for review which she seasonably process. While we are not dissuading parties from availing of
filed with the Court of Appeals. Petitioner also contends that it the judicial remedies outlined in the Rules of Court, they should
was error for the trial court to allow the sale of the entire be cautioned to be judicious in availing of these remedies. After
property in dispute. all, rules of procedure are intended to be, not tools of delay, but
Respondents filed a Comment6 dated March 30, 2006, arguing of prompt and just disposition of every partys cause. Having
that petitioner was correctly declared in default because of her fully availed of, even exploited, these remedies, petitioner
obstinate refusal to file an answer to the complaint despite being cannot feign denial of her day in court. She has been given
ordered to do so by the trial court. They also allege that they every opportunity to fully ventilate her side.
cannot be compelled to remain in co-ownership only because of Now, we turn to the second issue raised by petitioner, i.e., the
petitioners unjustified refusal to consent to a partition. validity of the trial courts decision alternatively directing the
A Reply to Comment7 dated July 25, 2006 was filed by partition of the subject properties or authorizing their sale to a
petitioner who insisted that she was denied the right to fully third party.
ventilate her case. There are two stages in every action for partition. The first phase
Only two issues are raised in this petition. The first issue is the determination of whether a co-ownership in fact exists and
pertains to petitioners insistence that the judgment by default a partition is proper, i.e., not otherwise legally proscribed, and
rendered by the trial court, which was subsequently affirmed by may be made by voluntary agreement of all the parties interested
the Court of Appeals, is a denial of her day in court. The second in the property. This phase may end either: (a) with a declaration
issue concerns the validity of the trial courts decision that plaintiff is not entitled to have a partition either because a
alternatively ordering the partition of the subject property or co-ownership does not exist, or partition is legally prohibited; or
authorizing its sale. (b) with a determination that a co-ownership does in truth exist,
A defendant declared in default has the following remedies: (a) a partition is proper in the premises, and an accounting of rents
motion to set aside the order of default under Sec. 3(b), Rule 9 and profits received by the defendant from the real estate in
of the Rules of Court; (b) a motion for new trial under Sec. 1(a), question is in order. In the latter case, the parties may, if they are
Rule 37 if the default was discovered after judgment but while able to agree, make partition among themselves by proper
appeal is still available; (c) a petition for relief under Rule 38 if instruments of conveyance, and the court shall confirm the
judgment has become final and executory; and (d) an appeal partition so agreed upon.12
from the judgment under Sec. 1, Rule 41 even if no petition to The second phase commences when it appears that the parties
set aside the order of default has been resorted to.8 are unable to agree upon the partition directed by the court. In
In this case, petitioner did not move to set aside the order of that event, partition shall be done for the parties by the court
default rendered by the trial court but filed a motion for new with the assistance of not more than three (3) commissioners.
trial after a decision had already been rendered in the case. The This second stage may well also deal with the rendition of the
motion for new trial, however, was denied by the trial court for accounting itself and its approval by the court after the parties
lack of merit. She then appealed to the Court of Appeals, have been accorded opportunity to be heard thereon, and an
assailing both the denial of her motion for new trial and the award for the recovery by the party or parties thereto entitled of
adverse decision of the trial court. their just share in the rents and profits of the real estate in
Evidently, petitioner utilized the appropriate remedies available question.13
to her. The fact, however, that she availed of the proper remedies The proceedings in this case have only reached the first phase. It
does not by itself result in a judgment in her favor or the must be mentioned as an aside that even if the order decreeing
reversal of the assailed order and decision of the trial court. As partition leaves something more to be done by the trial court for
the complete disposition of the case, i.e., the appointment of Henry Ysaac leased out portions of the property to several
commissioners, the proceedings for the determination of just lessees. Juan Cabrera, one of the lessees, leased a 95-square-
compensation by the appointed commissioners, the submission meter portion of the land beginning in 1986.5
of their reports and hearing thereon, and the approval of the On May 6, 1990, Henry Ysaac needed money and offered to sell
partition, it is considered a final order and may be appealed by the 95-square-meter piece of land to Juan Cabrera. 6 He told
the party aggrieved thereby.14 Henry Ysaac that the land was too small for his needs because
There is no question that a co-ownership exists between there was no parking space for his vehicle.7
petitioner and respondents. To this extent, the trial court was In order to address Juan Cabreras concerns, Henry Ysaac
correct in decreeing partition in line with the Civil Code expanded his offer to include the two adjoining lands that Henry
provision that no co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co- Ysaac was then leasing to the Borbe family and the Espiritu
ownership.15 family. Those three parcels of land have a combined area of
However, the trial court went astray when it also authorized the 439-square-meters. However, Henry Ysaac warned Juan Cabrera
sale of the subject properties to a third party and the division of that the sale for those two parcels could only proceed if the two
the proceeds thereof. What makes this portion of the decision all families agree to it.
the more objectionable is the fact that the trial court conditioned Juan Cabrera accepted the new offer. Henry Ysaac and Juan
the sale upon the price and terms acceptable to plaintiffs Cabrera settled on the price of 250.00 per square meter, but
(respondents herein) only, and adjudicated the proceeds of the Juan Cabrera stated that he could only pay in full after his
sale again only to plaintiffs. The pertinent portion of the trial retirement on June 15, 1992.8 Henry Ysaac agreed but demanded
courts disposition states: for an initial payment of 1,500.00, which Juan Cabrera paid.9
WHEREFORE, on the basis of the foregoing considerations, According to Juan Cabrera, Henry Ysaac informed him that the
judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff: Borbe family and the Espiritu family were no longer interested
1) Directing the partition (physical division) of the in purchasing the properties they were leasing. Since Mamerta
subject properties and all improvements thereon among Espiritu of the Espiritu family initially considered purchasing
the co-owners in accordance with their respective the property and had made an initial deposit for it, Juan Cabrera
shares; or agreed to reimbursethis earlier payment. On June 9, 1990, Juan
2) Authorizing the sale, conveyance or transfer of the Cabrera paid the amount of 6,100.00.10 Henry Ysaac issued a
above-described properties to a third-party at such receipt for this amount. 3,100.00 of the amount paid was
price and under such terms acceptable to plaintiffs reimbursed to Mamerta Espiritu and, in turn, she gaveJuan
and thereafter, dividing the proceeds of said sale Cabrera the receipts issued to her by Henry Ysaac.11
among them in accordance with their proportionate On June 15, 1992, Juan Cabrera tried to pay the balance of the
interests.16 [Emphasis supplied.] purchase price to Henry Ysaac. However,at that time, Henry
It is true that petitioner did not assign this error on appeal Ysaac was in the United States. The only person in Henry
resulting in the appellate courts failure to rule on the matter. Ysaacs residence was his wife. The wife refused to accept Juan
Nonetheless, we cannot simply brush this issue aside Cabreras payment.12
considering that its resolution is necessary in arriving at a just Sometime in September 1993, JuanCabrera alleged that Henry
disposition of the case.17 The rectification of the trial courts Ysaac approached him, requesting to reduce the area of the land
decision is accordingly in order. subject of their transaction. Part of the 439-square-meter land
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED IN PART. The was going to be made into a barangay walkway, and another part
Decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 21, 2005 is was being occupied by a family that was difficult to eject. 13 Juan
REVERSED in so far as it affirms the portion of the decision Cabrera agreed to the proposal. The land was surveyed again.
dated February 14, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati According to Juan Cabrera, Henry Ysaac agreed to shoulder the
City, Branch 142, which authorizes the sale, conveyance or costs of the resurvey, which Juan Cabrera advanced in the
transfer of the properties subject of this case and the division of amount of 3,000.00.
the proceeds of said sale to respondents herein. The Decision The resurvey shows that the area now covered by the transaction
dated June 21, 2005 and Resolution dated October 7, 2005 are was 321 square meters.14 Juan Cabrera intended to show the
AFFIRMED in all other respects. No pronouncement as to costs. sketch plan and pay the amount due for the payment of the lot.
SO ORDERED. However, on that day, Henry Ysaac was in Manila. Once more,
Henry Ysaacs wife refused to receive the payment because of
lack of authority from her husband.15
On September 21, 1994, Henry Ysaacs counsel, Atty. Luis
Ruben General, wrote a letter addressed to Atty. Leoncio
G.R. No. 166790 November 19, 2014 Clemente, Juan Cabreras counsel.16 Atty. General informed
JUAN P. CABRERA, Petitioner, Atty. Clemente that his client is formally rescinding the contract
vs. of sale because Juan Cabrera failed to pay the balance of the
HENRY YSAAC, Respondent. purchase price of the land between May 1990 and May 1992.
DECISION The letter also stated that Juan Cabreras initial payment of
LEONEN, J.: 1,500.00 and the subsequent payment of 6,100.00 were going
Unless all the co-owners have agreed to partition their property, to be applied as payment for overdue rent of the parcel of land
none of them may sell a definite portion of the land. The co- Juan Cabrera was leasing from Henry Ysaac.17 The letter also
owner may only sell his or her proportionate interest in the co- denied the allegation of Juan Cabrera that Henry Ysaac agreed
ownership. A contract of sale which purports to sell a specific or to shoulder the costs of the resurveying of the property. 18 Juan
definite portion of unpartitioned land is null and void ab initio. Cabrera, together with his uncle, Delfin Cabrera, went to Henry
In this petition for review on certiorari,1 Juan P. Cabrera assails Ysaacs house on September 16, 1995 to settle the
the Court of Appeals' decision dated June 19, 2003 2and matter.19 Henry Ysaac told Juan Cabrera that he could no longer
resolution dated January 3, 2005.3 These decisions ruled that a sell the property because the new administrator of the property
specific performance to execute a deed of sale over a parcel of was his brother, Franklin Ysaac.20
land is not available as a relief for Juan Cabrera. Due to Juan Cabreras inability to enforce the contract of sale
It appears that the heirs of Luis and Matilde Ysaac co-owned a between him and Henry Ysaac, he decided to file a civil case for
5,517-square-meter parcel of land located in Sabang, Naga City, specific performance on September 20, 1995.21 Juan Cabrera
covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 506. 4 One of prayed for the execution of a formal deed of sale and for the
the co-owners is respondent, Henry Ysaac. transfer of the title of the property in his name. 22 He tendered the
sum of 69,650.00 to the clerk of court as payment of the
remaining balance of the original sale price. 23 On September 22, in a public instrument, while the one with Juan Cabrera was
1995, a notice of lis pendenswas annotated on OCT No. 560.24 only made orally.43 The only recourse the Court of Appeals
In his answer with counterclaim, 25 Henry Ysaac prayed for the could do is to order Henry Ysaac to return the initial payment of
dismissal of Juan Cabreras complaint.26 He also prayed for the purchase price of 10,600.00 (1,500.00 and 6,100.00 as
compensation in the form of moral damages, attorneys fees, and evidenced by the receipts issued by Henry Ysaac to Juan
incidental litigation expenses.27 Cabrera, and 3,000.00 for the surveying expenses) as payment
Before the Regional Trial Court decided the case, the heirs of of actual damages. The Court of Appeals likewise awarded
Luis and Matilde Ysaac, under the administration of Franklin attorneys fees and litigation costs. To wit:
Ysaac, sold their property to the local government ofNaga City WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision of
on February 12, 1997.28 The property was turned into a the lower court is hereby SET ASIDE and a new one is entered
projectfor the urban poor of the city.29 During the trial, Corazon as follows:
Borbe Combe of the Borbe family testified that contrary to what 1. Declaring that there is no valid rescission of the
Juan Cabrera claimed, her family never agreed to sell the land contract of sale of the subject lot between plaintiff-
they were formerly leasing from Henry Ysaac in favor of Juan appellant [Juan P. Cabrera] and defendant-appellee
Cabrera.30 The Borbe family bought the property from [Henry Ysaac]; however, specific performance is not an
NagaCitys urban poor program after the salebetween the available relief to plaintiff because of the supervening
Ysaacs and the local government of Naga City.31 sale of the property to the City of Naga, an innocent
On September 22, 1999, the Regional Trial Court of Naga City purchaser and for value;
ruled that the contract of sale between Juan Cabrera and Henry 2. Ordering [Henry Ysaac] to pay [Juan P. Cabrera]
Ysaac was duly rescinded when the former failed to pay the actual damages in the amount of 10,600.00, with legal
balance of the purchase price in the period agreed upon. 32 The interest of 12% per annum from September 20, 1995
Regional Trial Court found that there was an agreement between until paid;
Juan Cabrera and Henry Ysaac as to the sale of land and the 3. Ordering [Henry Ysaac] to pay [Juan P. Cabrera], the
corresponding unit price.33 However, aside from the receipts amount of thirty thousand pesos (30,000.00) by way
turned over by Mamerta Espiritu of the Espiritu family to Juan of attorneys fees and litigation expenses.
Cabrera, there was no "evidence that the other adjoining lot Henry Ysaac filed his motion for reconsideration dated July 14,
occupants agreed to sell their respective landholdings" to Juan 2003 of the decision of the Court of Appeals.44 On the other
Cabrera.34 The Regional Trial Court also doubted that Juan hand, Juan Cabrera immediately filed a petition for reviewon
Cabrera was willing and able to pay Henry Ysaac on June 15, certiorari with this court.45 In the resolution dated October 15,
1992. According to the trial court: 2003, this court denied the petition "for being premature since
[A]fter the said refusal of Henry Ysaacs wife, plaintiff [Juan respondents motion for reconsideration of the questioned
Cabrera] did not bother to write tothe defendant [Henry Ysaac] decision of the Court of Appeals is still pending resolution."46
or to any of the co-owners his intention to pay for the land or he In the resolution dated January 3,2005, the Court of Appeals
could have consigned the amount in court at the same time denied Henry Ysaacs motion for reconsideration. On
notifying [Henry Ysaac] of the consignation in accordance with February24, 2005, Juan Cabrera filed another petition with this
Article 1256 of the Civil Code. Furthermore, in September, court, questioning the propriety of the Court of Appeals
1993 [Juan Cabrera] was able to meet [Henry Ysaac] whenthe decision and resolution.
latter allegedly talked to him about the reduction of the areahe This court initially noted that the petition was filed out of time.
was going to buy. There is no showing that [Juan Cabrera] again The stamp on the petition states that it was received by this court
tendered his payment to Henry Ysaac. Instead, he allegedly on March 24, 2005,47 while the reglementary period to file the
made his offer after he had the land resurveyed but defendant petition expired on February 28, 2005. Thus, the petition was
was then in Manila. There is no evidence as to what date this dismissed in this courts resolution dated April 27,
offer was made. . . . . . 2005.48 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. 49 However,
[T]he court does not see any serious demand made for the same was denied with finality in this courts resolution dated
performance of the contract on the part of [Juan Cabrera] in August 17, 2005.50
1992 when he allegedly promised to pay the balance of the In a letter addressed to the Chief Justice, petitioner argued that it
purchase price. Neither could he demand for the sale of the would be unfair to him if a clerical error would deprive his
adjoining lots because the occupants thereof did not manifest petition from being judged on the merits. Petitioner emphasized
their consent thereto. At the most, he could have demanded the that the registry receipts show that he filed the petition on
sale of the lot which he was occupying. If his payment was February 24, 2005, not March 24, 2005, as noted by this court in
refused in 1995, he cannot demand for damages because the his pleading.51 This court treated the letter as a second motion
rescission of the contract was relayed to him in writing in for reconsideration. In the resolution dated March 31, 2006, this
Exhibit "4".35 court found merit in petitioners letter.52 The petition was
The Regional Trial Court dismissed Juan Cabreras complaint reinstated, and respondent was ordered to file his
and Henry Ysaacs counterclaim.36 Juan Cabrera appealed the comment.53Respondent filed his comment on September 18,
Regional Trial Courts decision.37 2006.54 This court required petitioner to file a reply, 55 which
The Court of Appeals agreed with the Regional Trial Court that petitioner complied with on January 15, 2007.56
there was a perfected contract of sale between Juan Cabrera and The issues raised by petitioner and respondent are summarized
Henry Ysaac.38 According to the Court of Appeals, even if the as follows:
subject of the sale is part of Henry Ysaacs undivided property, a 1. Whether this court could take cognizance of issues
co-owner may sell a definite portion of the property.39 not raised by petitioner but by respondent in his
The Court of Appeals also ruled that the contract of sale comment to the petition for review;
between Juan Cabrera and Henry Ysaac was not validly 2. Whether there was a valid contractof sale between
rescinded.40 For the rescission to be valid under Article 1592 of petitioner and respondent;
the Civil Code, it should have been done through a judicial or 3. Whether the contract ofsale still subsisted;
notarial act and not merely through a letter.41 a. Whether the contract was terminated
However, due to the sale of the entire property of the Ysaac through rescission;
family in favor of the local government of Naga City, the Court b. Whether the contract was no longer
of Appeals ruled that the verbal contract between Juan Cabrera enforceable due to the supervening sale of the
and Henry Ysaac cannot be subject to the remedy of specific property to the local government of Naga
performance.42 The local government of Naga City was an City;
innocent purchaser for value, and following the rules on double 4. Whether petitioner is entitled to the execution of a
sales, it had a preferential right since the sale it entered into was deed of sale in his favor; and
5. Whether petitioner is entitled to actual damages, For the Court of Appeals, there was a valid contract of
attorneys fees, and costs of litigation. sale.72 The Court of Appeals ruling was based on the idea that a
The petition should be denied. co-owner could sell a definite portion of the land owned in
I common, and not because the suspensive conditions of the
This court can resolve issues raised by both parties contract were complied with. In ruling this way, the Court of
Petitioner stated that the errors inthis case are: (1) "the [Court of Appeals relied on Pamplona v. Morato,73 which stated that:
Appeals] erred in holding that the relief of specific performance . . . [A] "co-owner may validly sell his undivided share of the
is not available to [petitioner] supposedly because of the property owned in common. (If the part sold happens to be his
supervening sale of [the] property to the City Government of allotted share after partition, the transaction is entirely valid).
Naga";57 and (2) "consequently, the [Court of Appeals] erred in Now then if there has been no express partition as yet, but the
not ordering the execution of the necessary deed of sale in favor co-owner who sells points out to his buyers the boundaries of
of [petitioner]."58 Petitioner argues that this court should limit its the parthe was selling, and the other coowners make no
adjudication to these two errors.59 objection, there is in effect already a partial partition, and the
On the other hand, respondent raised issues on the validity of the sale of the definite portioncan no longer be assailed."74
contract of sale in favor of petitioner, and the propriety of the We find that there was no contract of sale. It was null ab initio.
award of actual damages with interest, attorneys fees, and As defined by the Civil Code, "[a] contract is a meeting of
litigation expenses.60 minds between two persons whereby one binds himself, with
For petitioner, if respondent wanted to raise issues regarding the respect to the other, to give something or to render some
Court of Appeals decision, respondent should have interposed a service."75 For there to be a valid contract, there must be consent
separate appeal.61 of the contracting parties, an object certain which is the subject
Petitioners position is erroneous. This court can resolve issues matter of the contract, and cause of the obligation which is
and assignments of error argued by petitioner and respondent. established.76 Sale is a special contract. The seller obligates
This court "is clothed with ample authority to review matters, himself to deliver a determinate thing and to transfer its
even if they are not assigned as errors in their appeal,if it finds ownership to the buyer. In turn, the buyer pays for a price
that their consideration is necessary to arriveat a just decision of certain in money or its equivalent.77 A "contract of sale is
the case."62 We can consider errors not raised by the perfected at the moment there is a meeting of minds upon the
parties,more so if these errors were raised by respondent. thing which is the object of the contract and upon the
Respondent raised different issues compared with those raised price."78 The seller and buyer must agree as to the certain thing
by petitioner. However, the assignment of error of respondent that will be subject of the sale as well as the price in which the
was still responsive to the main argument of petitioner. thing will be sold. The thing to be sold is the object of the
Petitioners argument works on the premise that there was a contract, while the price is the cause or consideration.
valid contract. By attacking the validity of the contract, The object of a valid sales contract must be owned by the seller.
respondent was merely responding to the premise of petitioners If the seller is not the owner, the seller must be authorized by the
main argument. The issue is relevant to the final disposition of owner to sell the object.79
this case; hence, it should be considered by this court in arriving Specific rules attach when the seller co-ownsthe object of the
at a decision. contract. Sale of a portion of the property is considered an
II alteration of the thing owned in common. Under the Civil Code,
There was no valid contract of sale between petitioner and such disposition requires the unanimous consent of the other co-
respondent owners.80 However, the rules also allow a co-owner to alienate
Petitioner agrees with the decision of the Court of Appeals that his or her part in the co-ownership.81
there was a perfected contract of sale between him and These two rules are reconciled through jurisprudence.
respondent.63 If the alienation precedes the partition, the co-owner cannot sell
Respondent, however, argues that there was no contract between a definite portion of the land without consent from his or her co-
him and petitioner because under Article 1475 of the Civil Code, owners. He or she could only sell the undivided interest of the
there has to be a meeting of the minds as to the price and the co-owned property.82 As summarized in Lopez v. Ilustre, 83 "[i]f
object of the contract.64 Respondent argues that there was no he is the owner of an undivided half of a tract of land, he has a
meeting of the minds as to the final price 65 and size66 of the right to sell and convey an undivided half, but he has no right to
property subject of the sale. divide the lot into two parts, and convey the whole of one part
In addition, while respondent admits that he was willing to sell by metes and bounds."84
the property being leased from him by the Borbe family and the The undivided interestof a co-owner is also referred to as the
Espiritu family, petitioner presented no evidence to show that "ideal or abstract quota" or "proportionate share." On the other
these families agreed to the sale in favor of petitioner. During hand, the definite portion of the land refers to specific metes and
trial, Corazon Borbe Combe of the Borbe family testified that bounds of a co-owned property.
her family never agreed to allow the sale of the property in favor To illustrate, if a ten-hectare property is owned equally by ten
of petitioner.67 Respondent likewise alleged that Mamerta coowners, the undivided interest of a co-owner is one hectare.
Espiritu of the Espiritu family eventually bought the property The definite portion of that interest is usually determined during
occupied by her family, which is contrary to the claim that judicial or extrajudicial partition. After partition, a definite
petitioner obtained the consent of Mamerta Espiritu to have the portion of the property held in common is allocated to a specific
land sold in his favor.68 Petitioner replied that respondent sold co-owner. The co-ownership is dissolved and, in effect, each of
113 square meters of the 321-square-meter property to the the former co-owners is free to exercise autonomously the rights
Espiritu family on January 17, 1996.69 Petitioner argued that attached to his or her ownership over the definite portion of the
Mamerta Espiritu was not a buyer in good faith because in 1990, land. It is crucial that the co-owners agree to which portion of
she voluntarily agreed to surrender the lot for sale in favor of the land goes to whom.
petitioner because she did not have the money to pay for the lot. Hence, prior to partition, a sale of a definite portion of common
Hence, the sale in favor of Mamerta Espiritu should not property requires the consent of all co-owners because it
supersede the sale in favor of petitioner.70 operates to partition the land with respect to the co-owner
The Regional Trial Court ruled that there was a valid contract of selling his or her share. The co-owner or seller is already
sale, although it found that there was no evidence to support marking which portion should redound to his or her autonomous
petitioners claim that he was able to secure the consent of the ownership upon future partition.
Espiritu family and the Borbe family to the sale of the The object of the sales contract between petitioner and
land.71 There was a valid contract of sale subject to a suspensive respondent was a definite portion of a co-owned parcel of land.
condition, but the suspensive condition was not complied with. At the time of the alleged sale between petitioner and
respondent, the entire property was still held in common. This is
evidenced by the original certificate of title, which was under the consent of the co-owners, no partial partition operated in
the names of Matilde Ysaac, Priscilla Ysaac, Walter Ysaac, favor of the sale to petitioner.
respondent Henry Ysaac, Elizabeth Ysaac, Norma Ysaac, Luis At best, the agreement between petitioner and respondent is a
Ysaac, Jr., George Ysaac, Franklin Ysaac, Marison Ysaac, Helen contract to sell, not a contract of sale. A contract to sell is a
Ysaac, Erlinda Ysaac, and Maridel Ysaac.85 promise to sell an object, subject to suspensive
The rules allow respondent to sell his undivided interestin the conditions.89 Without the fulfillment of these suspensive
coownership. However, this was not the object of the sale conditions, the sale does not operate to determine the obligation
between him and petitioner. The object of the sale was a definite of the seller to deliver the object.
portion. Even if it was respondent who was benefiting from the A co-owner could enter into a contract to sell a definite portion
fruits of the lease contract to petitioner, respondent has "no right of the property. However, such contract is still subject to the
to sell or alienate a concrete, specific or determinate part of the suspensive condition of the partition of the property, and that the
thing owned in common, because his right over the thing is other co-owners agree that the part subject of the contract to sell
represented by quota or ideal portion without any physical vests in favor of the co-owners buyer. Hence, the co-owners
adjudication."86 consent is an important factor for the sale to ripen.
There was no showing that respondent was authorized by his A non-existent contract cannot be a
coowners to sell the portion of land occupied by Juan Cabrera, source of obligations, and it cannot
the Espiritu family, or the Borbe family. Without the consent of be enforced by the courts
his co-owners, respondent could not sell a definite portion of the Since petitioner believes that there was a perfected contract of
co-owned property. sale between him and respondent, he argues that a deed of sale
Respondent had no right to define a 95-square-meter parcel of should be formally executed. Petitioner agrees with the Court of
land, a 439-square-meter parcel of land, or a 321-square-meter Appeals finding that there was no valid rescission of the
parcel of land for purposes of selling to petitioner. The contract in accordance with Article 1592 of the Civil
determination of those metes and bounds are not binding to the Code.90 However, petitioner disagrees with the Court of Appeals
co-ownership and, hence, cannot be subject to sale, unless when it ruled that the contract was no longer enforceable due to
consented to by all the co-owners. the supervening sale with the local government of Naga City.
In finding that there was a valid contract of sale between Petitioner argues that the sale in favor of the local government
petitioner and respondent, the Court of Appeals erred in the of Naga City was not made in good faith. Before the sale was
application of Pamplona v. Moreto. 87 The ruling in Pamplona finalized between the local government and the heirs of Luis and
should be read and applied only in situations similar to the Matilde Ysaac, petitioner had a notice of lis pendens annotated
context of that case. to OCT No. 506.91 It was presumed that the local government
Pamplona involved the Spouses Moreto who owned three (3) had due notice of petitioners adverse claim, thus, it cannot be
parcels of land with a total area of 2,346 square meters. The considered an innocent purchaser.
spouses had six (6) children. After the wife had died, the For respondent, due to the inexistence of a valid contract of sale,
husband sold one of the parcels to the Pamplona family, even if petitioner cannot demand specific performance from
the conjugal partnership had not yet been liquidated. The parcel respondent.92 Respondent disagrees with the Court of Appeals
sold measured 781 square meters, which was less than the ideal when it stated that Article 1592 of the rescission of contract of
share of the husband in the estate. This court allowed the sale to sale applies. There is no need to apply Article 1592 because
prosper because of the tolerance from the husbands co-heirs. there was no contract to begin with.93 The contract between
This court ruled: respondent and petitioner was terminated by virtue of the letter
The title may be pro-indiviso or inchoate but the moment the dated September 21, 1994.94
coowner as vendor pointed out its location and even indicated We rule in favor of respondent.
the boundaries over which the fences were to be erected without The absence of a contract of sale means that there is no source
objection, protest or complaint bythe other co-owners, on the of obligations for respondent, as seller, orpetitioner, as buyer.
contrary they acquiesced and tolerated such alienation, Rescission is impossible because there is no contract to rescind.
occupation and possession, We rule that a factual partition or The rule in Article 1592 that requires a judicial or notarial act to
termination of the co-ownership, although partial, was created, formalize rescission of a contract of sale of an immovable
and barred not only the vendor, Flaviano Moreto, butalso his property does not apply. This court does not need to rule
heirs, the private respondents herein from asserting as against whether a letter is a valid method of rescinding a sales contract
the vendees petitioners any right or title in derogation of the over an immovable property because the question is moot and
deed of sale executed by said vendor Flaviano academic.
Moreto.88 (Emphasis supplied) Even if we assume that respondent had full ownership of the
In Pamplona, the co-heirs of Flaviano Moreto only questioned property and that he agreed to sell a portion of the property to
the sale to the Pamplona family nine (9) years after the sale. By petitioner, the letter was enough to cancel the contract to sell.
then, the Pamplona family had exercised several acts of Generally, "[t]he power to rescind obligations is implied in
ownership over the land. That is why this court considered it reciprocal ones, in case one of the obligors should not comply
acquiescence or tolerance on the part of the co-heirs when they with what is incumbent on him."95
allowed the Pamplonas to take possession and build upon the For the sale of immovable property, the following provision
land sold, and only questioned these acts several years later. governs its rescission:
The ruling in Pamplonadoes not apply to petitioner. There was Article 1592. In the sale of immovable property, even though it
no evidence adduced during the trial that respondents co- may have been stipulated that upon failure to pay the price at the
owners acquiesced or tolerated the sale to petitioner. The co- time agreed upon the rescission of the contract shall of right take
owners tolerated petitioners possession of a portion of their place, the vendee may pay, even after the expiration of the
land because petitioner was a lessee over a 95-square-meter period, as long as no demand for rescissionof the contract has
portion of the property, not the buyer of the 321-squaremeter been made upon him either judicially or by notarial act. After
portion. the demand, the court may not grant him a new term.
There was also no evidence of consent to sell from the co- This provision contemplates (1) a contract of sale of an
owners. When petitioner approached respondent in 1995 to immovable property and (2) a stipulation in the contract that
enforce the contract of sale, respondent referred him to Franklin failure to pay the price at the time agreed upon will cause the
Ysaac, the administrator over the entire property. Respondents rescission of the contract. The vendee or the buyer can still pay
act suggests the absence of consent from the co-owners. even after the time agreed upon, if the agreement between the
Petitioner did not show that he sought Franklin Ysaacs consent parties has these requisites. This right of the vendee to pay
as administrator and the consent of the other co-owners. Without ceases when the vendor or the seller demands the rescission of
the contract judicially or extra judicially. In case of an extra We rule that petitioner is entitled to the return of the amount of
judicial demand to rescind the contract, it should be notarized. money because he paid it as consideration for ownership of the
Hence, this provision does not apply if it is not a contract of sale land. Since the ownership of the land could not be transferred to
of an immovable property and merely a contract to sellan him, the money he paid for that purpose must be returned to
immovable property. A contract to sell is "where the ownership him. Otherwise, respondent will be unjustly enriched.
or title is retained by the seller and is not to pass until the full Respondents claim for rent in arrears is a separate cause of
payment of the price, such payment being a positive suspensive action from this case.1wphi1 For petitioners earnestmoney
condition and failure of which is not a breach, casual or serious, payment to be considered payment for his rent liabilities, the
but simply an event that prevented the obligation of the vendor rules of compensation under Article 1279 of the Civil Code must
to convey title from acquiring binding force."96 be followed.106
In a similar case entitled Manuel v. Rodriguez,97 Eusebio It was not proven during trial if petitioner's rental liability to
Manuel offered to buy the land owned by Payatas Subdivision, respondent is due, or if it is already liquidated and demandable.
Inc. The Secretary Treasurer of Payatas Subdivision, Eulogio Hence, this court is limited to uphold the ruling of the Court of
Rodriguez, Sr., agreed to sell the land to Eusebio Manuel after Appeals, but such payment could be subject to the rule on
negotiations. Similar to this case, the agreement was only made compensation.
orally and not in writing. An initial payment was made, and a However, petitioner is not entitled to attorney's fees and the
final payment was to be madenine (9) to ten (10) months later. costs of litigation. The Court of Appeals awarded attorney's fees
Manuel never paid for the latter installment; hence, Eulogio to petitioner "just to protect his right [because petitioner]
Rodriguez cancelled their agreement and sold the land to reached this court to seek justice for himself."107
someone else. Contrary to the Court of Appeals' ruling, we find that petitioner
In Manuel, this court categorically stated that Article 1592 "does did not have a clear right over the property in question. The
not apply to a contract to sell or promise to sell, where title Court of Appeals awarded attorney's fees and litigation costs on
remains with the vendor until fulfillment to a positive the premise that the contract between petitioner and respondent
suspensive condition, such as full payment of the price." 98 This was perfected. Without a valid contract that stipulates his rights,
court upheld that the contract to sell was validly cancelled petitioner risked litigation in order to determine if he has rights,
through the non-payment of Eusebio Manuel. The same and not to protect rights that he currently has. Hence, the award
conclusion applies in this case. of attorney's fees and litigation costs was not properly justified.
The law does not prescribe a form to rescind a contract to sell WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals'
immovable property. In Manuel, the non-payment operated to decision dated June 19, 2003 in CA-G.R. CV No. 65869 is SET
cancel the contract. If mere non-payment is enough to cancel a ASIDE. The contract between petitioner and respondent is
contract to sell, the letter given to petitioners lawyer is also an DECLARED invalid and, therefore, cannot be subject to
acceptable form of rescinding the contract. The law does not specific performance. Respondent is ORDERED to return
require notarization for a letter to rescind a contract to sell 10,600.00 to petitioner, with legal interest of 12% per annum
immovable property. Notarization is only required if a contract from September 20, 1995 until June 30, 2013 and 6% per annum
of sale is being rescinded. from July 1, 2013 until fully paid. The award of attorney's fees
Petitioner argued that he was willing to comply with the and litigation expenses is DELETED.
suspensive condition on the contract to sell because he was SO ORDERED.
ready to pay the balance of the purchase price on June 15, G.R. No. 176858 September 15, 2010
1992.99 However, his argument is unmeritorious. As ruled by the HEIRS OF JUANITA PADILLA, represented by CLAUDIO
Regional Trial Court, petitioner should have resorted to the PADILLA, Petitioners,
various modes of consignment when respondents wife refused vs.
to accept the payment on respondents behalf.100 DOMINADOR MAGDUA, Respondent.
Therefore, even if we assumed that the contract between DECISION
petitioner and respondents were perfected, the strict requisites in CARPIO, J.:
Article 1592 did not apply because the only perfected contract The Case
was a contract to sell, not a contract of sale. The courts cannot Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari 1 assailing
enforce the right of petitioner to buy respondents property. We the Orders dated 8 September 20062 and 13 February 20073 of
cannot order the execution of a deed of sale between petitioner the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City, Branch 34, in
and respondent. Civil Case No. 2001-10-161.
The question of double sale also becomes moot and academic. The Facts
There was no valid sale between petitioner and respondent, Juanita Padilla (Juanita), the mother of petitioners, owned a
while there was a valid sale between the local government of piece of land located in San Roque, Tanauan, Leyte. After
Naga City and respondent and his coowners. Since there is only Juanitas death on 23 March 1989, petitioners, as legal heirs of
one valid sale, the ruleon double sales under Article 1544 of the Juanita, sought to have the land partitioned. Petitioners sent
Civil Code does not apply.101 word to their eldest brother Ricardo Bahia (Ricardo) regarding
Compensatory damages, attorneys their plans for the partition of the land. In a letter dated 5 June
fees, and costs of litigation 1998 written by Ricardo addressed to them, petitioners were
Respondent argued that petitioner is not entitled to the surprised to find out that Ricardo had declared the land for
compensatory damages that the Court of Appeals awarded. himself, prejudicing their rights as co-heirs. It was then
According to respondent, petitioner continues to occupy the 95- discovered that Juanita had allegedly executed a notarized
square-meter property that he has been leasing since 1986 Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property4 (Affidavit) in favor of
because the parcel was not included in the sale to the local Ricardo on 4 June 1966 making him the sole owner of the land.
government of Naga City.102 Since April 30, 1990, petitioner has The records do not show that the land was registered under the
not been paying rent to respondent despite his continued Torrens system.
occupation of the property. 103Therefore, there was no unjust On 26 October 2001, petitioners filed an action with the RTC of
enrichment on the part of respondent when he applied Tacloban City, Branch 34, for recovery of ownership,
petitioners initial payment over the sale of the property as possession, partition and damages. Petitioners sought to declare
payment for rent. void the sale of the land by Ricardos daughters, Josephine
Respondent argued further that the award of attorneys fees and Bahia and Virginia Bahia-Abas, to respondent Dominador
litigation expenses in favor of petitioner was also erroneous Magdua (Dominador). The sale was made during the lifetime of
because prior to this litigation, respondent already informed Ricardo.
petitioner that his claim has no basis in law and fact. 104 Yet, Petitioners alleged that Ricardo, through misrepresentation, had
petitioner persisted on filing this case.105 the land transferred in his name without the consent and
knowledge of his co-heirs. Petitioners also stated that prior to the land, which was open, absolute and in the concept of an
1966, Ricardo had a house constructed on the land. However, owner. Dominador contends that the alleged written instrument
when Ricardo and his wife Zosima separated, Ricardo left for dated 15 May 1978 executed by Juanita years before she died
Inasuyan, Kawayan, Biliran and the house was leased to third was only made known lately and conveys the possibility of
parties. being fabricated. Dominador adds that the alleged highly
Petitioners further alleged that the signature of Juanita in the questionable signature of Juanita on the Affidavit was only
Affidavit is highly questionable because on 15 May 1978 made an issue after 35 years from the date of the transfer in
Juanita executed a written instrument stating that she would be 1966 until the filing of the case in 2001. As a buyer in good
leaving behind to her children the land which she had inherited faith, Dominador invokes the defense of acquisitive prescription
from her parents. against petitioners.
Dominador filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of At the outset, only questions of law may be raised in a petition
jurisdiction since the assessed value of the land was within the for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The
jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court of Tanauan, Leyte. factual findings of the lower courts are final and conclusive and
In an Order dated 20 February 2006,5 the RTC dismissed the may not be reviewed on appeal except under any of the
case for lack of jurisdiction. The RTC explained that the following circumstances: (1) the conclusion is grounded on
assessed value of the land in the amount of 590.00 was less speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) the inference is
than the amount cognizable by the RTC to acquire jurisdiction manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) there is grave
over the case.6 abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on a
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. Petitioners argued misapprehension of facts; (5) the findings of fact are conflicting;
that the action was not merely for recovery of ownership and (6) there is no citation of specific evidence on which the factual
possession, partition and damages but also for annulment of findings are based; (7) the finding of absence of facts is
deed of sale. Since actions to annul contracts are actions beyond contradicted by the presence of evidence on record; (8) the
pecuniary estimation, the case was well within the jurisdiction findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial
of the RTC. court; (9) the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain
Dominador filed another motion to dismiss on the ground of relevant and undisputed facts that, if properly considered, would
prescription. justify a different conclusion; (10) the findings of the Court of
In an Order dated 8 September 2006, the RTC reconsidered its Appeals are beyond the issues of the case; and (11) such
previous stand and took cognizance of the case. Nonetheless, the findings are contrary to the admissions of both parties.8
RTC denied the motion for reconsideration and dismissed the We find that the conclusion of the RTC in dismissing the case on
case on the ground of prescription pursuant to Section 1, Rule 9 the ground of prescription based solely on the Affidavit executed
of the Rules of Court. The RTC ruled that the case was filed by Juanita in favor of Ricardo, the alleged seller of the property
only in 2001 or more than 30 years since the Affidavit was from whom Dominador asserts his ownership, is speculative.
executed in 1966. The RTC explained that while the right of an Thus, a review of the case is necessary.
heir to his inheritance is imprescriptible, yet when one of the co- Here, the RTC granted the motion to dismiss filed by
heirs appropriates the property as his own to the exclusion of all Dominador based on Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court
other heirs, then prescription can set in. The RTC added that which states:
since prescription had set in to question the transfer of the land Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and
under the Affidavit, it would seem logical that no action could objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the
also be taken against the deed of sale executed by Ricardos answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the
daughters in favor of Dominador. The dispositive portion of the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no
order states: jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of the Court is pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that
reconsidered in so far as the pronouncement of the Court that it the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of
has no jurisdiction over the nature of the action. The dismissal limitations, the court shall dismiss the case. (Emphasis
of the action, however, is maintained not by reason of lack of supplied)
jurisdiction but by reason of prescription. The RTC explained that prescription had already set in since the
SO ORDERED.7 Affidavit was executed on 31 May 1966 and petitioners filed the
Petitioners filed another motion for reconsideration which the present case only on 26 October 2001, a lapse of more than 30
RTC denied in an Order dated 13 February 2007 since years. No action could be taken against the deed of sale made in
petitioners raised no new issue. favor of Dominador without assailing the Affidavit, and the
Hence, this petition. action to question the Affidavit had already prescribed.
The Issue After a perusal of the records, we find that the RTC incorrectly
The main issue is whether the present action is already barred by relied on the Affidavit alone in order to dismiss the case without
prescription. considering petitioners evidence. The facts show that the land
The Courts Ruling was sold to Dominador by Ricardos daughters, namely
Petitioners submit that the RTC erred in dismissing the Josephine Bahia and Virginia Bahia-Abas, during the lifetime of
complaint on the ground of prescription. Petitioners insist that Ricardo. However, the alleged deed of sale was not presented as
the Affidavit executed in 1966 does not conform with the evidence and neither was it shown that Ricardos daughters had
requirement of sufficient repudiation of co-ownership by any authority from Ricardo to dispose of the land. No cogent
Ricardo against his co-heirs in accordance with Article 494 of evidence was ever presented that Ricardo gave his consent to,
the Civil Code. Petitioners assert that the Affidavit became part acquiesced in, or ratified the sale made by his daughters to
of public records only because it was kept by the Provincial Dominador. In its 8 September 2006 Order, the RTC hastily
Assessors office for real property tax declaration purposes. concluded that Ricardos daughters had legal personality to sell
However, such cannot be contemplated by law as a record or the property:
registration affecting real properties. Petitioners insist that the On the allegation of the plaintiffs (petitioners) that Josephine
Affidavit is not an act of appropriation sufficient to be deemed Bahia and Virginia Bahia-Abas had no legal personality or right
as constructive notice to an adverse claim of ownership absent a to [sell] the subject property is of no moment in this case. It
clear showing that petitioners, as co-heirs, were notified or had should be Ricardo Bahia who has a cause of action against [his]
knowledge of the Affidavit issued by their mother in Ricardos daughters and not the herein plaintiffs. After all, Ricardo Bahia
favor. might have already consented to or ratified the alleged deed of
Respondent Dominador, on the other hand, maintains that sale.9
Juanita, during her lifetime, never renounced her signature on Also, aside from the Affidavit, Dominador did not present any
the Affidavit or interposed objections to Ricardos possession of proof to show that Ricardos possession of the land had been
open, continuous and exclusive for more than 30 years in order With regard to the issue of the jurisdiction of the RTC, we hold
to establish extraordinary acquisitive prescription.10 Dominador that the RTC did not err in taking cognizance of the case.
merely assumed that Ricardo had been in possession of the land Under Section 1 of Republic Act No. 7691 (RA
for 30 years based on the Affidavit submitted to the RTC. The 7691),14 amending Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, the RTC shall
petitioners, on the other hand, in their pleading filed with the exercise exclusive jurisdiction on the following actions:
RTC for recovery of ownership, possession, partition and Section 1. Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise
damages, alleged that Ricardo left the land after he separated known as the "Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980", is hereby
from his wife sometime after 1966 and moved to another place. amended to read as follows:
The records do not mention, however, whether Ricardo had any "Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts
intention to go back to the land or whether Ricardos family ever shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction.
lived there. "(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is
Further, Dominador failed to show that Ricardo had the land incapable of pecuniary estimation;
declared in his name for taxation purposes from 1966 after the "(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession
Affidavit was executed until 2001 when the case was filed. of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed
Although a tax declaration does not prove ownership, it is value of the property involved exceeds Twenty Thousand Pesos
evidence of claim to possession of the land. (20,000.00) or, for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such
Moreover, Ricardo and petitioners are co-heirs or co-owners of value exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos (50,000.00) except actions
the land. Co-heirs or co-owners cannot acquire by acquisitive for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or
prescription the share of the other co-heirs or co-owners absent a buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the
clear repudiation of the co-ownership, as expressed in Article Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and
494 of the Civil Code which states: Municipal Circuit Trial Courts; x x x
Art. 494. x x x No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner On the other hand, Section 3 of RA 7691 expanded the
or co-heir against his co-owners or co-heirs as long as he jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership. Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts over all civil actions
Since possession of co-owners is like that of a trustee, in order which involve title to or possession of real property, or any
that a co-owners possession may be deemed adverse to interest, outside Metro Manila where the assessed value does not
the cestui que trust or other co-owners, the following requisites exceed Twenty thousand pesos (20,000.00). The provision
must concur: (1) that he has performed unequivocal acts of states:
repudiation amounting to an ouster of the cestui que trust or Section 3. Section 33 of the same law is hereby amended to read
other co-owners, (2) that such positive acts of repudiation have as follows:
been made known to the cestui que trust or other co-owners, and "Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal
(3) that the evidence thereon must be clear and convincing.11 Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Civil Cases. -
In the present case, all three requisites have been met. After Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and
Juanitas death in 1989, petitioners sought for the partition of Municipal Trial Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
their mothers land. The heirs, including Ricardo, were notified xxx
about the plan. Ricardo, through a letter dated 5 June 1998, "(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which
notified petitioners, as his co-heirs, that he adjudicated the land involve title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest
solely for himself. Accordingly, Ricardos interest in the land therein where the assessed value of the property or interest
had now become adverse to the claim of his co-heirs after therein does not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (20,000.00) or,
repudiating their claim of entitlement to the land. In Generosa v. in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does
Prangan-Valera,12 we held that in order that title may prescribe not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (50,000.00) exclusive of
in favor of one of the co-owners, it must be clearly shown that interest, damages of whatever kind, attorneys fees, litigation
he had repudiated the claims of the others, and that they were expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases of land not declared
apprised of his claim of adverse and exclusive ownership, before for taxation purposes, the value of such property shall be
the prescriptive period begins to run. determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots."
However, in the present case, the prescriptive period began to In the present case, the records show that the assessed value of
run only from 5 June 1998, the date petitioners received notice the land was 590.00 according to the Declaration of Property
of Ricardos repudiation of their claims to the land. Since as of 23 March 2000 filed with the RTC. Based on the value
petitioners filed an action for recovery of ownership and alone, being way below 20,000.00, the MTC has jurisdiction
possession, partition and damages with the RTC on 26 October over the case. However, petitioners argued that the action was
2001, only a mere three years had lapsed. This three-year period not merely for recovery of ownership and possession, partition
falls short of the 10-year or 30-year acquisitive prescription and damages but also for annulment of deed of sale. Since
period required by law in order to be entitled to claim legal annulment of contracts are actions incapable of pecuniary
ownership over the land. Thus, Dominador cannot invoke estimation, the RTC has jurisdiction over the case.151avvphi1
acquisitive prescription. Petitioners are correct. In Singson v. Isabela Sawmill, 16 we held
Further, Dominadors argument that prescription began to that:
commence in 1966, after the Affidavit was executed, is In determining whether an action is one the subject matter of
erroneous. Dominador merely relied on the Affidavit submitted which is not capable of pecuniary estimation this Court has
to the RTC that Ricardo had been in possession of the land for adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the
more than 30 years. Dominador did not submit any other principal action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for the
corroborative evidence to establish Ricardos alleged possession recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of
since 1966. In Heirs of Maningding v. Court of Appeals,13 we pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the
held that the evidence relative to the possession, as a fact, upon municipal courts or in the courts of first instance would depend
which the alleged prescription is based, must be clear, complete on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is
and conclusive in order to establish the prescription. Here, something other than the right to recover a sum of money, where
Dominador failed to present any other competent evidence to the money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the
prove the alleged extraordinary acquisitive prescription of principal relief sought, this Court has considered such actions as
Ricardo over the land. Since the property is an unregistered cases where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in
land, Dominador bought the land at his own risk, being aware as terms of money, and are cognizable by courts of first instance
buyer that no title had been issued over the land. As a (now Regional Trial Courts).
consequence, Dominador is not afforded protection unless he When petitioners filed the action with the RTC they sought to
can manifestly prove his legal entitlement to his claim. recover ownership and possession of the land by questioning (1)
the due execution and authenticity of the Affidavit executed by
Juanita in favor of Ricardo which caused Ricardo to be the sole third (1/3) to respondent. Petitioner also prayed for monthly
owner of the land to the exclusion of petitioners who also claim rentals for the use of the house by respondent after their father
to be legal heirs and entitled to the land, and (2) the validity of died.
the deed of sale executed between Ricardos daughters and In his answer with counterclaim, respondent alleged that he had
Dominador. Since the principal action sought here is something no objection to the sale as long as the best selling price could be
other than the recovery of a sum of money, the action is obtained; that if the sale would be effected, the proceeds thereof
incapable of pecuniary estimation and thus cognizable by the should be divided equally; and, that being a co-owner, he was
RTC. Well-entrenched is the rule that jurisdiction over the entitled to the use and enjoyment of the property.
subject matter of a case is conferred by law and is determined by Upon issues being joined, the case was set for pre-trial on 26
the allegations in the complaint and the character of the relief April 1979 with the lawyers of both parties notified of the pre-
sought, irrespective of whether the party is entitled to all or trial, and served with the pre-trial order, with private respondent
some of the claims asserted.17 executing a special power of attorney to his lawyer to appear at
In sum, we find that the Affidavit, as the principal evidence the pre-trial and enter into any amicable settlement in his
relied upon by the RTC to dismiss the case on the ground of behalf.1
prescription, insufficiently established Dominadors rightful On 20 April 1979, Atty. Manuel S. Tonogbanua, counsel for
claim of ownership to the land. Thus, we direct the RTC to try respondent, filed a motion to cancel pre-trial on the ground that
the case on the merits to determine who among the parties are he would be accompanying his wife to Dumaguete City where
legally entitled to the land. she would be a principal sponsor in a wedding.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We REVERSE On 23 April 1979, finding the reasons of counsel to be without
AND SET ASIDE the Orders dated 8 September 2006 and 13 merit, the trial court denied the motion and directed that the pre-
February 2007 of the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City, trial should continue as scheduled.
Branch 34 in Civil Case No. 2001-10-161. When the case was called for pre-trial as scheduled on 26 April
SO ORDERED. 1979, plaintiff and his counsel appeared. Defendant did not
appear; neither his counsel in whose favor he executed a special
power of attorney to represent him at the pre-trial.
Consequently, the trial court, on motion of plaintiff, declared
defendant as in default and ordered reception of plaintiff's
evidence ex parte.
On 7 May 1979, defendant through counsel filed an omnibus
G.R. No. 76351 October 29, 1993 motion to reconsider the order of default and to defer reception
VIRGILIO B. AGUILAR, petitioner, of evidence. The trial court denied the motion and plaintiff
vs. presented his evidence.
COURT OF APPEALS and SENEN B. On 26 July 1979, rendering judgment by default against
AGUILAR, respondents. defendant, the trial court found him and plaintiff to be co-
Jose F. Manacop for petitioner. owners of the house and lot, in equal shares on the basis of their
Siruello, Muyco & Associates Law Office for private written agreement. However, it ruled that plaintiff has been
respondent. deprived of his participation in the property by defendant's
continued enjoyment of the house and lot, free of rent, despite
BELLOSILLO, J.: demands for rentals and continued maneuvers of defendants, to
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and delay partition. The trial court also upheld the right of plaintiff
set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV as co-owner to demand partition. Since plaintiff could not agree
No. 03933 declaring null and void the orders of 23 and 26 April, to the amount offered by defendant for the former's share, the
1979, the judgment by default of 26 July 1979, and the order of trial court held that this property should be sold to a third person
22 October 1979 of the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, and the proceeds divided equally between the parties.
Pasay City, Branch 30, and directing the trial court to set the The trial court likewise ordered defendant to vacate the property
case for pre-trial conference. and pay plaintiff P1,200.00 as rentals2 from January 1975 up to
Petitioner Virgilio and respondent Senen are brothers; Virgilio is the date of decision plus interest from the time the action was
the youngest of seven (7) children of the late Maximiano filed.
Aguilar, while Senen is the fifth. On 28 October 1969, the two On 17 September 1979, defendant filed an omnibus motion for
brothers purchased a house and lot in Paraaque where their new trial but on 22 October 1979 the trial court denied the
father could spend and enjoy his remaining years in a peaceful motion.
neighborhood. Initially, the brothers agreed that Virgilio's share Defendant sought relief from the Court of Appeals praying that
in the co-ownership was two-thirds while that of Senen was one- the following orders and decision of the trial court be set aside:
third. By virtue of a written memorandum dated 23 February (a) the order of 23 April 1970 denying defendants motion for
1970, Virgilio and Senen agreed that henceforth their interests in postponement of the pre-trial set on 26 April 1979; (b) the order
the house and lot should be equal, with Senen assuming the of 26 April 1979 declaring him in default and authorizing
remaining mortgage obligation of the original owners with the plaintiff to present his evidence ex-parte; (e) the default
Social Security System (SSS) in exchange for his possession judgment of 26 July 1979; and, (d) the order dated 22 October
and enjoyment of the house together with their father. 1979 denying his omnibus motion for new trial.
Since Virgilio was then disqualified from obtaining a loan from On 16 October 1986, the Court of Appeals set aside the order of
SSS, the brothers agreed that the deed of sale would be executed the trial court of 26 April 1979 as well as the assailed judgment
and the title registered in the meantime in the name of Senen. It rendered by default., The appellate court found the explanation
was further agreed that Senen would take care of their father and of counsel for defendant in his motion to cancel pre-trial as
his needs since Virgilio and his family were staying in Cebu. satisfactory and devoid of a manifest intention to delay the
After Maximiano Aguilar died in 1974, petitioner demanded disposition of the case. It also ruled that the trial court should
from private respondent that the latter vacate the house and that have granted the motion for postponement filed by counsel for
the property be sold and proceeds thereof divided among them. defendant who should not have been declared as in default for
Because of the refusal of respondent to give in to petitioner's the absence of his counsel.
demands, the latter filed on 12 January 1979 an action to compel Petitioner now comes to us alleging that the Court of Appeals
the sale of the house and lot so that the they could divide the erred (1) in not holding that the motion of defendant through
proceeds between them. counsel to cancel the pre-trial was dilatory in character and (2)
In his complaint, petitioner prayed that the proceeds of the sale, in remanding the case to the trial court for pre-trial and trial.
be divided on the basis of two-thirds (2/3) in his favor and one-
The issues to be resolved are whether the trial court correctly common insofar as his share is concerned. Corollary to this rule,
declared respondent as in default for his failure to appear at the Art. 498 of the Code states that whenever the thing is
pre-trial and in allowing petitioner to present his evidence ex- essentially, indivisible and the co-owners cannot agree that it be,
parte, and whether the trial court correctly rendered the default allotted to one of them who shall indemnify the others, it shall
judgment against respondent. be sold and its proceeds accordingly distributed. This is resorted
We find merit in the petition. to (1) when the right to partition the property is invoked by any
As regards the first issue, the law is clear that the appearance of of the co-owners but because of the nature of the property it
parties at the pre-trial is mandatory. 3 A party who fails to appear cannot be subdivided or its subdivision would prejudice the
at a pre-trial conference may be non-suited or considered as in interests of the co-owners, and (b) the co-owners are not in
default.4 In the case at bar, where private respondent and counsel agreement as to who among them shall be allotted or assigned
failed to appear at the scheduled pre-trial, the trial, court has the entire property upon proper reimbursement of the co-
authority to declare respondent in default.5 owners. In one case,8 this Court upheld the order of the trial
Although respondent's counsel filed a motion to postpone pre- court directing the holding of a public sale of the properties
trial hearing, the grant or denial thereof is within the sound owned in common pursuant to Art. 498 of the Civil Code.
discretion of the trial court, which should take into account two However, being a co-owner respondent has the right to use the
factors in the grant or denial of motions for postponement, house and lot without paying any compensation to petitioner, as
namely: (a) the reason for the postponement and (b) the merits he may use the property owned in common long as it is in
of the case of movant.6 accordance with the purpose for which it is intended and in a
In the instant case, the trial court found the reason stated in the manner not injurious to the interest of the other co-
motion of counsel for respondent to cancel the pre-trial to be owners.9 Each co-owner of property held pro indiviso exercises
without merit. Counsel's explanation that he had to go to by boat his rights over the whole property and may use and enjoy the
as early as 25 March 1979 to fetch his wife and accompany her same with no other limitation than that he shall not injure the
to a wedding in Dumaguete City on 27 April 1979 where she interests of his co-owners, the reason being that until a division
was one of the principal sponsors, cannot be accepted. We find it is made, the respective share of each cannot be determined and
insufficient to justify postponement of the pre-trial, and the every co-owner exercises, together with his co-participants joint
Court of Appeals did not act wisely in overruling the denial. We ownership over the pro indiviso property, in addition to his use
sustain the trial court and rule that it did not abuse its discretion and enjoyment of the
in denying the postponement for lack of merit. Certainly, to same. 10
warrant a postponement of a mandatory process as pre-trial Since petitioner has decided to enforce his right in court to end
would require much more than mere attendance in a social the co-ownership of the house and lot and respondent has not
function. It is time indeed we emphasize that there should be refuted the allegation that he has been preventing the sale of the
much more than mere perfunctory treatment of the pre-trial property by his continued occupancy of the premises, justice and
procedure. Its observance must be taken seriously if it is to equity demand that respondent and his family vacate the
attain its objective, i.e., the speedy and inexpensive disposition property so that the sale can be effected immediately. In fairness
of cases. to petitioner, respondent should pay a rental of P1,200.00 per
Moreover, the trial court denied the motion for postponement month, with legal interest; from the time the trial court ordered
three (3) days before the scheduled pre-trial. If indeed, counsel him to vacate, for the use and enjoyment of the other half of the
for respondent could not attend the pre-trial on the scheduled property appertaining to petitioner.
date, respondent at least should have personally appeared in When petitioner filed an action to compel the sale of the
order not to be declared as in default. But, since nobody property and the trial court granted the petition and ordered the
appeared for him, the order of the trial court declaring him as in ejectment of respondent, the co-ownership was deemed
default and directing the presentation of petitioner's evidence ex terminated and the right to enjoy the possession jointly also
parte was proper.7 ceased. Thereafter, the continued stay of respondent and his
With regard to the merits of the judgment of the trial court by family in the house prejudiced the interest of petitioner as the
default, which respondent appellate court did not touch upon in property should have been sold and the proceeds divided equally
resolving the appeal, the Court holds that on the basis of the between them. To this extent and from then on, respondent
pleadings of the parties and the evidence presented ex parte, should be held liable for monthly rentals until he and his family
petitioner and respondents are co-owners of subject house and vacate.
lot in equal shares; either one of them may demand the sale of WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed
the house and lot at any time and the other cannot object to such Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 16 October 1986 is
demand; thereafter the proceeds of the sale shall be divided REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The decision of the trial court in
equally according to their respective interests. Civil Case No. 69.12-P dated 16 July 1979 is REINSTATED,
Private respondent and his family refuse to pay monthly rentals with the modification that respondent Senen B. Aguilar is
to petitioner from the time their father died in 1975 and to ordered to vacate the premises in question within ninety (90)
vacate the house so that it can be sold to third persons. Petitioner days from receipt of this and to pay petitioner Virgilio B.
alleges that respondent's continued stay in the property hinders Aguilar a monthly rental of P1,200.00 with interest at the legal
its disposal to the prejudice of petitioner. On the part of rate from the time he received the decision of the trial court
petitioner, he claims that he should be paid two-thirds (2/3) of a directing him to vacate until he effectively leaves the premises.
monthly rental of P2,400.00 or the sum of P1,600.00. The trial court is further directed to take immediate steps to
In resolving the dispute, the trial court ordered respondent to implement this decision conformably with Art. 498 of the Civil
vacate the property so that it could be sold to third persons and Code and the Rules of Court. This decision is final and
the proceeds divided between them equally, and for respondent executory.
to pay petitioner one-half (1/2) of P2,400.00 or the sum of SO ORDERED.
P1,200.00 as monthly rental, conformably with their stipulated
sharing reflected in their written agreement.
We uphold the trial court in ruling in favor of petitioner, except G.R. No. 171914 July 23, 2014
as to the effectivity of the payment of monthly rentals by SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner,
respondent as co-owner which we here declare to commence vs.
only after the trial court ordered respondent to vacate in HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by
accordance with its order of 26 July 1979. GREGORIO Z. LUNA and EUGENIA ZABALLERO-
Article 494 of the Civil Code provides that no co-owner shall be LUNA,Respondents.
obliged to remain in the co-ownership, and that each co-owner DECISION
may demand at any time partition of the thing owned in BERSAMIN, J.:
Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under the Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and the
nationality rule adopted by Philippine law. Hence, any condominium unit was partitioned by the partners but the same
settlement of property between the parties of the first marriage was still registered in common under CCT No. 21716. The
involving Filipinos submitted as an incident of a divorce parties stipulated that the interest of ATTY. LUNA over the
obtained in a foreign country lacks competent judicial approval, condominium unit would be 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA
and cannot be enforceable against the assets of the husband who thereafter established and headed another law firm with Atty.
contracts a subsequent marriage. Renato G. Dela Cruzand used a portion of the office
The Case condominium unit as their office. The said law firm lasted until
The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan Luces the death of ATTY. JUAN on July 12, 1997.
Luna, appeals the adverse decision promulgated on November After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the condominium
11, 2005,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with unit including the lawbooks, office furniture and equipment
modification the decision rendered on August 27, 2001 by the found therein were taken over by Gregorio Z. Luna, ATTY.
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 138, in Makati City. 2 The LUNAs son of the first marriage. Gregorio Z. Luna thenleased
CA thereby denied her right in the 25/100 pro indiviso share of out the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit belonging to his
the husband in a condominium unit, and in the law books of the father to Atty. Renato G. De la Cruz who established his own
husband acquired during the second marriage. law firm named Renato G. De la Cruz & Associates.
Antecedents The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the
The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA as follows: condominium unit as well as the law books, office furniture and
ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a name partner in equipment became the subject of the complaint filed by
the prestigious law firm Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo, SOLEDAD against the heirs of ATTY. JUAN with the RTC of
Hernandez & Feliciano Law Offices at that time when he was Makati City, Branch 138, on September 10, 1999, docketed as
living with his first wife, herein intervenor-appellant Eugenia Civil Case No. 99-1644. The complaint alleged that the subject
Zaballero-Luna (EUGENIA), whom he initially married ina properties were acquired during the existence of the marriage
civil ceremony conducted by the Justice of the Peace of between ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD through their joint
Paraaque, Rizal on September 10, 1947 and later solemnized in efforts that since they had no children, SOLEDAD became co-
a church ceremony at the Pro-Cathedral in San Miguel, Bulacan owner of the said properties upon the death of ATTY. LUNA to
on September 12, 1948. In ATTY. LUNAs marriage to the extent of pro-indiviso share consisting of her share in
EUGENIA, they begot seven (7) children, namely: Regina the said properties plus her share in the net estate of ATTY.
Maria L. Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli Victoria L. Arellano, LUNA which was bequeathed to her in the latters last will and
Ana Maria L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna, Carolina Linda testament; and thatthe heirs of ATTY. LUNA through Gregorio
L. Tapia, and Cesar Antonio Luna. After almost two (2) decades Z. Luna excluded SOLEDAD from her share in the subject
of marriage, ATTY. LUNA and EUGENIA eventually agreed to properties. The complaint prayed that SOLEDAD be declared
live apart from each other in February 1966 and agreed to the owner of the portion of the subject properties;that the
separation of property, to which end, they entered into a written same be partitioned; that an accounting of the rentals on the
agreement entitled "AGREEMENT FOR SEPARATION AND condominium unit pertaining to the share of SOLEDAD be
PROPERTY SETTLEMENT" dated November 12, 1975, conducted; that a receiver be appointed to preserve ad
whereby they agreed to live separately and to dissolve and administer the subject properties;and that the heirs of ATTY.
liquidate their conjugal partnership of property. LUNA be ordered to pay attorneys feesand costs of the suit to
On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce decree SOLEDAD.3
of his marriage with EUGENIA from the Civil and Commercial Ruling of the RTC
Chamber of the First Circumscription of the Court of First On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision after trial
Instance of Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic. Also in upon the aforementioned facts,4 disposing thusly:
Sto.Domingo, Dominican Republic, on the same date, ATTY. WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
LUNA contracted another marriage, this time with SOLEDAD. (a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium
Thereafter, ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD returned to the unit located at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW
Philippines and lived together as husband and wife until 1987. LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by
Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new law firm Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting
named: Luna, Puruganan, Sison and Ongkiko (LUPSICON) of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100)
where ATTY. LUNA was the managing partner. SQUARE METERS is adjudged to have been acquired
On February 14, 1978, LUPSICON through ATTY. LUNA by Juan Lucas Luna through his sole industry;
purchased from Tandang Sora Development Corporation the 6th (b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under any other
Floor of Kalaw-Ledesma Condominium Project(condominium concept over the condominium unit, hence the entry in
unit) at Gamboa St., Makati City, consisting of 517.52 square Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the
meters, for 1,449,056.00, to be paid on installment basis for Registry of Deeds of Makati with respect to the civil
36months starting on April 15, 1978. Said condominium unit status of Juan Luces Luna should be changed from
was to be usedas law office of LUPSICON. After full payment, "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to
the Deed of Absolute Sale over the condominium unit was "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero
executed on July 15, 1983, and CCT No. 4779 was issued on Luna";
August 10, 1983, which was registered bearing the following (c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the books
names: Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (46/100); Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports
MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko found in the condominium unit and defendants are
(25/100); GREGORIO R. PURUGANAN, married to Paz A. ordered to deliver them to the plaintiff as soon as
Puruganan (17/100); and TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to appropriate arrangements have been madefor transport
Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x" Subsequently, 8/100 share of and storage.
ATTY. LUNA and 17/100 share of Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan No pronouncement as to costs.
in the condominium unit was sold to Atty. Mario E. Ongkiko, SO ORDERED.5
for which a new CCT No. 21761 was issued on February 7, Decision of the CA
1992 in the following names: Both parties appealed to the CA.6
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (38/100); On her part, the petitioner assigned the following errors to the
MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko RTC, namely:
LUCES LUNA; Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting
MONEY FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia
CONDOMINIUM UNIT; Zaballero-Luna (first marriage), having been acquired
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING from the sole funds and sole industry of Juan Luces
CREDENCE TO PORTIONS OF THE TESTIMONY Luna while marriage of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia
OF GREGORIO LUNA, WHO HAS NO ACTUAL Zaballero-Luna (first marriage) was still subsisting and
UNIT, BUT IGNORED OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS (b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has no right as
TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO THE PLAINTIFF- owner or under any other concept over the
APPELLANT; condominium unit, hence the entry in Condominium
IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds
SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACT THAT THE ofMakati with respect to the civil status of Juan Luces
DISSOLVED AND LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE married to Eugenia Zaballero Luna";
UNION OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND LUNA; (c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna
V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna(first marriage) are hereby
UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE ABSENCE OF declared to be the owner of the books Corpus Juris,
THE DISPOSITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and
UNIT IN THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE Federal Supreme Court Reports found in the
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT; condominium unit.
VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING No pronouncement as to costs.
NAME OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT DID NOT On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioners motion for
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION OVER THE In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for review on
CONDOMINIUM UNIT; certiorarithat:
VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that
THAT NEITHER ARTICLE 148 OF THE the Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement
FAMILYCODE NOR ARTICLE 144 OF THE CIVIL executed by Luna and Respondent Eugenia was
CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES ARE APPLICABLE; unenforceable; hence, their conjugal partnership was
VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT not dissolved and liquidated;
RULING THAT THE CAUSE OF ACTION OF THE B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not
INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS BEEN BARRED recognizing the Dominican Republic courts approval
BY PESCRIPTION AND LACHES; and of the Agreement;
IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that
EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE INTERVENTION Petitioner failed to adduce sufficient proof of actual
FOR FAILURE OF INTERVENOR-APPELLANT TO contribution to the acquisition of purchase of the
PAY FILING FEE.7 subjectcondominium unit; and
In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following errors to the D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that
trial court, to wit: Petitioner was not entitled to the subject law books.14
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING The decisive question to be resolved is who among the
THAT CERTAIN FOREIGN LAW BOOKS IN THE contending parties should be entitled to the 25/100 pro
LAW OFFICE OF ATTY. LUNA WERE BOUGHT indivisoshare in the condominium unit; and to the law books
WITH THE USE OF PLAINTIFFS MONEY; (i.e., Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports).
THAT PLAINTIFF PROVED BY The resolution of the decisive question requires the Court to
PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE (HER CLAIM ascertain the law that should determine, firstly, whether the
OVER) THE SPECIFIED FOREIGN LAW BOOKS divorce between Atty. Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna
FOUND IN ATTY. LUNAS LAW OFFICE; and (Eugenia) had validly dissolved the first marriage; and,
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT secondly, whether the second marriage entered into by the late
HOLDING THAT, ASSUMING PLAINTIFF PAID Atty. Luna and the petitioner entitled the latter to any rights in
FOR THE SAID FOREIGN LAW BOOKS, THE property. Ruling of the Court
RIGHT TO RECOVER THEM HAD PRESCRIBED We affirm the modified decision of the CA.
AND BARRED BY LACHES AND ESTOPPEL.8 1. Atty. Lunas first marriage with Eugenia
On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed subsisted up to the time of his death
modified decision,9 holding and ruling: The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, both
EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of ATTY. Filipinos, was solemnized in the Philippines on September 10,
LUNA until the latters death on July 12, 1997. The absolute 1947. The law in force at the time of the solemnization was the
divorce decree obtained by ATTY. LUNA inthe Dominican Spanish Civil Code, which adopted the nationality rule. The
Republic did not terminate his prior marriage with EUGENIA Civil Codecontinued to follow the nationality rule, to the effect
because foreign divorce between Filipino citizens is not that Philippine laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the
recognized in our jurisdiction. x x x10 status, condition and legal capacity of persons were binding
xxxx upon citizens of the Philippines, although living
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed August 27, abroad.15 Pursuant to the nationality rule, Philippine laws
2001 Decision of the RTC of MakatiCity, Branch 138, is hereby governed thiscase by virtue of bothAtty. Luna and Eugenio
MODIFIEDas follows: having remained Filipinos until the death of Atty. Luna on July
(a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium 12, 1997 terminated their marriage.
unit at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA
From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage on The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna and
September 10, 1947 until the present, absolute divorce between Eugenia did not per sedissolve and liquidate their conjugal
Filipino spouses has not been recognized in the Philippines. The partnership of gains. The approval of the Agreement by a
non-recognition of absolute divorce between Filipinos has competent court was still required under Article 190 and Article
remained even under the Family Code,16 even if either or both of 191 of the Civil Code, as follows:
the spouses are residing abroad. 17 Indeed, the only two types of Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration in the
defective marital unions under our laws have beenthe void and marriage settlements, the separation of property between
the voidable marriages. As such, the remedies against such spouses during the marriage shall not take place save in virtue of
defective marriages have been limited to the declaration of a judicial order. (1432a)
nullity ofthe marriage and the annulment of the marriage. Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the separation
It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First Instance of property, and it shall be decreed when the spouse of the
(CFI) of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic issued the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it
Divorce Decree dissolving the first marriage of Atty. Luna and civil interdiction, or has been declared absent, or when legal
Eugenia.18 Conformably with the nationality rule, however, the separation has been granted.
divorce, even if voluntarily obtained abroad, did not dissolve the xxxx
marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, which subsisted up The husband and the wife may agree upon the dissolution of the
to the time of his death on July 12, 1997. This finding conforms conjugal partnership during the marriage, subject to judicial
to the Constitution, which characterizes marriage as an approval. All the creditors of the husband and of the wife, as
inviolable social institution,19 and regards it as a special contract well as of the conjugal partnership shall be notified of any
of permanent union between a man and a woman for the petition for judicialapproval or the voluntary dissolution of the
establishment of a conjugal and family life. 20 The non- conjugal partnership, so that any such creditors may appear atthe
recognition of absolute divorce in the Philippines is a hearing to safeguard his interests. Upon approval of the petition
manifestation of the respect for the sanctity of the marital union for dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the court shall take
especially among Filipino citizens. It affirms that the such measures as may protect the creditors and other third
extinguishment of a valid marriage must be grounded only upon persons.
the death of either spouse, or upon a ground expressly provided After dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the provisions of
bylaw. For as long as this public policy on marriage between articles 214 and 215 shall apply. The provisions of this Code
Filipinos exists, no divorce decree dissolving the marriage concerning the effect of partition stated in articles 498 to 501
between them can ever be given legal or judicial recognition and shall be applicable. (1433a)
enforcement in this jurisdiction. But was not the approval of the Agreement by the CFI of Sto.
2. The Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement Domingo in the Dominican Republic sufficient in dissolving and
was void for lack of court approval liquidating the conjugal partnership of gains between the late
The petitioner insists that the Agreement for Separation and Atty. Luna and Eugenia?
Property Settlement (Agreement) that the late Atty. Luna and The query is answered in the negative. There is no question that
Eugenia had entered into and executed in connection with the the approval took place only as an incident ofthe action for
divorce proceedings before the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the divorce instituted by Atty. Luna and Eugenia, for, indeed, the
Dominican Republic to dissolve and liquidate their conjugal justifications for their execution of the Agreement were identical
partnership was enforceable against Eugenia. Hence, the CA to the grounds raised in the action for divorce. 21 With the
committed reversible error in decreeing otherwise. divorce not being itself valid and enforceable under Philippine
The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted. law for being contrary to Philippine public policy and public
Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not entered into law, the approval of the Agreement was not also legally valid
any marriage settlement prior to their marriage on September and enforceable under Philippine law. Consequently, the
10, 1947, the system of relative community or conjugal conjugal partnership of gains of Atty. Luna and Eugenia
partnership of gains governed their property relations. This is subsisted in the lifetime of their marriage.
because the Spanish Civil Code, the law then in force at the time 3. Atty. Lunas marriage with Soledad, being bigamous,
of their marriage, did not specify the property regime of the was void; properties acquired during their marriage
spouses in the event that they had not entered into any marriage were governed by the rules on co-ownership
settlement before or at the time of the marriage. Article 119 of What law governed the property relations of the second
the Civil Codeclearly so provides, to wit: marriage between Atty. Luna and Soledad?
Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage settlements The CA expressly declared that Atty. Lunas subsequent
agree upon absolute or relative community of property, or upon marriage to Soledad on January 12, 1976 was void for being
complete separation of property, or upon any other regime. In bigamous,22 on the ground that the marriage between Atty. Luna
the absence of marriage settlements, or when the same are void, and Eugenia had not been dissolved by the Divorce Decree
the system of relative community or conjugal partnership of rendered by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican
gains as established in this Code, shall govern the property Republic but had subsisted until the death of Atty. Luna on July
relations between husband and wife. 12, 1997.
Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal partnership The Court concurs with the CA.
of gains thusly: In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous, polygamous, or
Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of gains the incestuous are void. Article 71 of the Civil Codeclearly states:
husband and wife place in a common fund the fruits of their Article 71. All marriages performed outside the Philippines in
separate property and the income from their work or industry, accordance with the laws in force in the country where they
and divide equally, upon the dissolution of the marriage or of the were performed, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in
partnership, the net gains or benefits obtained indiscriminately this country, except bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous
by either spouse during the marriage. marriages as determined by Philippine law.
The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until terminated for Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a
any of various causes of termination enumerated in Article 175 second or subsequent marriage before the first marriage has
of the Civil Code, viz: been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been
Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains terminates: declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered
(1) Upon the death of either spouse; in the proper proceedings.23 A bigamous marriage is considered
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation; void ab initio.24
(3) When the marriage is annulled; Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and the
(4) In case of judicial separation of property under petitioner being void ab initioby virtue of its being bigamous,
Article 191. the properties acquired during the bigamous marriage were
governed by the rules on co-ownership, conformably with this was not readily applicable to many situations and thus it
Article 144 of the Civil Code, viz: created a void at first because it applied only if the parties were
Article 144. When a man and a woman live together as husband not in any way incapacitated or were without impediment to
and wife, but they are not married, ortheir marriage is void from marry each other (for it would be absurd to create a co-
the beginning, the property acquired by eitheror both of them ownership where there still exists a prior conjugal partnership or
through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall absolute community between the man and his lawful wife). This
be governed by the rules on co-ownership.(n) void was filled upon adoption of the Family Code. Article 148
In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership carried the provided that: only the property acquired by both of the parties
burden of proof to confirm such fact.1wphi1 To establish co- through their actual joint contribution of money, property or
ownership, therefore, it became imperative for the petitioner to industry shall be owned in common and in proportion to their
offer proof of her actual contributions in the acquisition of respective contributions. Such contributions and corresponding
property. Her mere allegation of co-ownership, without shares were prima faciepresumed to be equal. However, for this
sufficient and competent evidence, would warrant no relief in presumption to arise, proof of actual contribution was required.
her favor. As the Court explained in Saguid v. Court of The same rule and presumption was to apply to joint deposits of
Appeals:25 money and evidence of credit. If one of the parties was validly
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership accrued
which involved the issue of co-ownership ofproperties acquired to the absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in
by the parties to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith was not
relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual validly married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in
contribution in the acquisition of the property is essential. The the manner provided in the last paragraph of the Article 147.
claim of co-ownership of the petitioners therein who were The rules on forfeiture applied even if both parties were in bad
parties to the bigamous and adulterousunion is without basis faith. Co-ownership was the exception while conjugal
because they failed to substantiate their allegation that they partnership of gains was the strict rule whereby marriage was an
contributed money in the purchase of the disputed properties. inviolable social institution and divorce decrees are not
Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals, we ruled that the fact that recognized in the Philippines, as was held by the Supreme Court
the controverted property was titled in the name of the parties to in the case of Tenchavez vs. Escao, G.R. No. L-19671,
an adulterous relationship is not sufficient proof of coownership November 29, 1965, 15 SCRA 355, thus:
absent evidence of actual contribution in the acquisition of the xxxx
property. As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in the
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party condominium unit, SOLEDAD failed to prove that she made an
who, as determined by the pleadings or the nature of the case, actual contribution to purchase the said property. She failed to
asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by establish that the four (4) checks that she presented were indeed
competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of used for the acquisition of the share of ATTY. LUNA in the
the partys own evidence and not upon the weakness of the condominium unit. This was aptly explained in the Decision of
opponents defense. This applies with more vigor where, as in the trial court, viz.:
the instant case, the plaintiff was allowed to present evidence ex "x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for 55,000.00 payable to
parte.1wphi1 The plaintiff is not automatically entitled to the Atty. Teresita Cruz Sison was issued on January 27, 1977, which
relief prayed for. The law gives the defendantsome measure of was thirteen (13) months before the Memorandum of
protection as the plaintiff must still prove the allegations in the Agreement, Exhibit "7" was signed. Another check issued on
complaint. Favorable relief can be granted only after the court April 29, 1978 in the amount of 97,588.89, Exhibit "P" was
isconvinced that the facts proven by the plaintiff warrant such payable to Banco Filipino. According to the plaintiff, thiswas in
relief. Indeed, the party alleging a fact has the burden of proving payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The third check which was
it and a mereallegation is not evidence.26 for 49,236.00 payable to PREMEX was dated May 19, 1979,
The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently proved her also for payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The fourth check,
actual contributions in the purchase of the condominium unit in Exhibit "M", for 4,072.00 was dated December 17, 1980. None
the aggregate amount of at least 306,572.00, consisting in of the foregoing prove that the amounts delivered by plaintiff to
direct contributions of 159,072.00, and in repaying the loans the payees were for the acquisition of the subject condominium
Atty. Luna had obtained from Premex Financing and Banco unit. The connection was simply not established. x x x"
Filipino totaling 146,825.30;27 and that such aggregate SOLEDADs claim that she made a cash contribution of
contributions of 306,572.00 corresponded to almost the entire 100,000.00 is unsubstantiated. Clearly, there is no basis for
share of Atty. Luna in the purchase of the condominium unit SOLEDADs claim of co-ownership over the 25/100 portion of
amounting to 362,264.00 of the units purchase price of the condominium unit and the trial court correctly found that the
1,449,056.00.28 The petitioner further asserts that the lawbooks same was acquired through the sole industry of ATTY. LUNA,
were paid for solely out of her personal funds, proof of which thus:
Atty. Luna had even sent her a "thank you" note;29 that she had "The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the
the financial capacity to make the contributions and purchases; condominium unit was in the name of Atty. Luna, together with
and that Atty. Luna could not acquire the properties on his own his partners in the law firm. The name of the plaintiff does not
due to the meagerness of the income derived from his law appear as vendee or as the spouse of Atty. Luna. The same was
practice. acquired for the use of the Law firm of Atty. Luna. The loans
Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on the co- from Allied Banking Corporation and Far East Bank and Trust
ownership? Company were loans of Atty. Luna and his partners and plaintiff
In resolving the question, the CA entirely debunked the does not have evidence to show that she paid for them fully or
petitioners assertions on her actual contributions through the partially. x x x"
following findings and conclusions, namely: The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT No. 21761
SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance of evidence were in the name of "JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad
that her own independent funds were used to buy the law office L. Luna" was no proof that SOLEDAD was a co-owner of the
condominium and the law books subject matter in contentionin condominium unit. Acquisition of title and registration thereof
this case proof that was required for Article 144 of the New are two different acts. It is well settled that registration does not
Civil Code and Article 148 of the Family Code to apply as to confer title but merely confirms one already existing. The phrase
cases where properties were acquired by a man and a woman "married to" preceding "Soledad L. Luna" is merely descriptive
living together as husband and wife but not married, or under a of the civil status of ATTY. LUNA.
marriage which was void ab initio. Under Article 144 of the SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer. So it is but
New Civil Code, the rules on co-ownership would govern. But logical that SOLEDAD had no participation in the law firm or in
the purchase of books for the law firm. SOLEDAD failed to However, the idyll lasted only until April 1991. By then,
prove that she had anything to contribute and that she actually respondent found a new boyfriend while Jambrich began to live
purchased or paid for the law office amortization and for the law with another woman in Danao City. Jambrich supported
books. It is more logical to presume that it was ATTY. LUNA respondents sons for only two months after the break up.
who bought the law office space and the law books from his Jambrich met petitioner Camilo F. Borromeo sometime in 1986.
earnings from his practice of law rather than embarrassingly beg Petitioner was engaged in the real estate business. He also built
or ask from SOLEDAD money for use of the law firm that he and repaired speedboats as a hobby. In 1989, Jambrich
headed.30 purchased an engine and some accessories for his boat from
The Court upholds the foregoing findings and conclusions by petitioner, for which he became indebted to the latter for about
the CA both because they were substantiated by the records and 150,000.00. To pay for his debt, he sold his rights and interests
because we have not been shown any reason to revisit and undo in the Agro-Macro properties to petitioner for 250,000, as
them. Indeed, the petitioner, as the party claiming the co- evidenced by a "Deed of Absolute Sale/Assignment." 6 On July
ownership, did not discharge her burden of proof. Her mere 26, 1991, when petitioner sought to register the deed of
allegations on her contributions, not being evidence, 31 did not assignment, he discovered that titles to the three lots have been
serve the purpose. In contrast, given the subsistence of the first transferred in the name of respondent, and that the subject
marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption that property has already been mortgaged.
Atty. Luna acquired the properties out of his own personal funds On August 2, 1991, petitioner filed a complaint against
and effort remained. It should then be justly concluded that the respondent for recovery of real property before the Regional
properties in litislegally pertained to their conjugal partnership Trial Court of Mandaue City. Petitioner alleged that the
of gains as of the time of his death. Consequently, the sole Contracts to Sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986
ownership of the 25/100 pro indivisoshare of Atty. Luna in the and the Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 16, 1987 over
condominium unit, and of the lawbooks pertained to the the properties which identified both Jambrich and respondent as
respondents as the lawful heirs of Atty. Luna. buyers do not reflect the true agreement of the parties since
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated respondent did not pay a single centavo of the purchase price
on November 11, 2005; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the and was not in fact a buyer; that it was Jambrich alone who paid
costs of suit. for the properties using his exclusive funds; that Jambrich was
SO ORDERED. the real and absolute owner of the properties; and, that petitioner
acquired absolute ownership by virtue of the Deed of Absolute
Sale/Assignment dated July 11, 1991 which Jambrich executed
in his favor.
G.R. No. 159310 February 24, 2009 In her Answer, respondent belied the allegation that she did not
CAMILO F. BORROMEO, Petitioner, pay a single centavo of the purchase price. On the contrary, she
vs. claimed that she "solely and exclusively used her own personal
ANTONIETTA O. DESCALLAR, Respondent. funds to defray and pay for the purchase price of the subject lots
DECISION in question," and that Jambrich, being an alien, was prohibited
PUNO, C.J.: to acquire or own real property in the Philippines.
What are the rights of an alien (and his successor-in-interest) At the trial, respondent presented evidence showing her alleged
who acquired real properties in the country as against his former financial capacity to buy the disputed property with money from
Filipina girlfriend in whose sole name the properties were a supposed copra business. Petitioner, in turn, presented
registered under the Torrens system? Jambrich as his witness and documentary evidence showing the
The facts are as follows: substantial salaries which Jambrich received while still
Wilhelm Jambrich, an Austrian, arrived in the Philippines in employed by the Austrian company, Simmering-Graz Panker
1983 after he was assigned by his employer, Simmering-Graz A.G.
Panker A.G., an Austrian company, to work at a project in In its decision, the court a quo found
Mindoro. In 1984, he transferred to Cebu and worked at the Evidence on hand clearly show that at the time of the purchase
Naga II Project of the National Power Corporation. There, he and acquisition of [the] properties under litigation that Wilhelm
met respondent Antonietta Opalla-Descallar, a separated mother Jambrich was still working and earning much. This fact of
of two boys who was working as a waitress at St. Moritz Hotel. Jambrich earning much is not only supported by documentary
Jambrich befriended respondent and asked her to tutor him in evidence but also by the admission made by the defendant
English. In dire need of additional income to support her Antoniet[t]a Opalla. So that, Jambrichs financial capacity to
children, respondent agreed. The tutorials were held in acquire and purchase the properties . . . is not disputed.7
Antoniettas residence at a squatters area in Gorordo Avenue. xxx
Jambrich and respondent fell in love and decided to live together On the other hand, evidence . . . clearly show that before
in a rented house in Hernan Cortes, Mandaue City. Later, they defendant met Jambrich sometime in the latter part of 1984, she
transferred to their own house and lots at Agro-Macro was only working as a waitress at the St. Moritz Hotel with an
Subdivision, Cabancalan, Mandaue City. In the Contracts to Sell income of 1,000.00 a month and was . . . renting and living
dated November 18, 19851 and March 10, 19862 covering the only in . . . [a] room at . . . [a] squatter area at Gorordo Ave.,
properties, Jambrich and respondent were referred to as the Cebu City; that Jambrich took pity of her and the situation of her
buyers. A Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 16, 19873 was children that he offered her a better life which she readily
likewise issued in their favor. However, when the Deed of accepted. In fact, this miserable financial situation of hers and
Absolute Sale was presented for registration before the Register her two children . . . are all stated and reflected in the Child
of Deeds, registration was refused on the ground that Jambrich Study Report dated April 20, 1983 (Exhs. "G" and "G-1") which
was an alien and could not acquire alienable lands of the public facts she supplied to the Social Worker who prepared the same
domain. Consequently, Jambrichs name was erased from the when she was personally interviewed by her in connection with
document. But it could be noted that his signature remained on the adoption of her two children by Wilhelm Jambrich. So that,
the left hand margin of page 1, beside respondents signature as if such facts were not true because these are now denied by her .
buyer on page 3, and at the bottom of page 4 which is the last . . and if it was also true that during this time she was already
page. Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 24790, 24791 and earning as much as 8,000.00 to 9,000.00 as profit per month
24792 over the properties were issued in respondents name from her copra business, it would be highly unbelievable and
alone. impossible for her to be living only in such a miserable
Jambrich also formally adopted respondents two sons in Sp. condition since it is the observation of this Court that she is not
Proc. No. 39-MAN,4 and per Decision of the Regional Trial only an extravagant but also an expensive person and not thrifty
Court of Mandaue City dated May 5, 1988.5 as she wanted to impress this Court in order to have a big saving
as clearly shown by her actuation when she was already Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied.
cohabiting and living with Jambrich that according to her . . . the Hence, this petition for review.
allowance given . . . by him in the amount of $500.00 a month is Petitioner assigns the following errors:
not enough to maintain the education and maintenance of her I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY
This being the case, it is highly improbable and impossible that ADMISSION AND OTHER OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE
she could acquire the properties under litigation or could ESTABLISHING JAMBRICHS PARTICIPATION, INTEREST
contribute any amount for their acquisition which according to AND OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION
her is worth more than 700,000.00 when while she was AS FOUND BY THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT.
working as [a] waitress at St. Moritz Hotel earning 1,000.00 a II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY
month as salary and tips of more or less 2,000.00 she could not ERRED IN HOLDING THAT JAMBRICH HAS NO TITLE
even provide [for] the daily needs of her family so much so that TO THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AND MAY NOT
it is safe to conclude that she was really in financial distress THEREFORE TRANSFER AND ASSIGN ANY RIGHTS AND
when she met and accepted the offer of Jambrich to come and INTERESTS IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER.
live with him because that was a big financial opportunity for III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY
her and her children who were already abandoned by her ERRED IN REVERSING THE WELL-REASONED
The only probable and possible reason why her name appeared PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE).14
and was included in [the contracts to sell dated November 18, First, who purchased the subject properties?
1985 and March 10, 1986 and finally, the deed of absolute sale The evidence clearly shows, as pointed out by the trial court,
dated November 16, 1987] as buyer is because as observed by who between respondent and Jambrich possesses the financial
the Court, she being a scheming and exploitive woman, she has capacity to acquire the properties in dispute. At the time of the
taken advantage of the goodness of Jambrich who at that time acquisition of the properties in 1985 to 1986, Jambrich was
was still bewitched by her beauty, sweetness, and good attitude gainfully employed at Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an
shown by her to him since he could still very well provide for Austrian company. He was earning an estimated monthly salary
everything she needs, he being earning (sic) much yet at that of 50,000.00. Then, Jambrich was assigned to Syria for almost
time. In fact, as observed by this Court, the acquisition of these one year where his monthly salary was approximately
properties under litigation was at the time when their 90,000.00.
relationship was still going smoothly and On the other hand, respondent was employed as a waitress from
harmoniously.10 [Emphasis supplied.] 1984 to 1985 with a monthly salary of not more than 1,000.00.
The dispositive portion of the Decision states: In 1986, when the parcels of land were acquired, she was
WHEREFORE, . . . Decision is hereby rendered in favor of the unemployed, as admitted by her during the pre-trial conference.
plaintiff and against the defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla by: Her allegations of income from a copra business were
1) Declaring plaintiff as the owner in fee simple over unsubstantiated. The supposed copra business was actually the
the residential house of strong materials and three business of her mother and their family, with ten siblings. She
parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and 5 which has no license to sell copra, and had not filed any income tax
are covered by TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 return. All the motorized bancas of her mother were lost to fire,
issued by the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City; and the last one left standing was already scrap. Further, the
2) Declaring as null and void TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 Child Study Report15 submitted by the Department of Social
and 24792 issued in the name of defendant Antoniet[t]a Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the adoption proceedings
Descallar by the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City; of respondents two sons by Jambrich disclosed that:
3) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to Antonietta tried all types of job to support the children until she
cancel TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 in the name was accepted as a waitress at St. Moritz Restaurant in 1984. At
of defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar and to issue new first she had no problem with money because most of the
ones in the name of plaintiff Camilo F. Borromeo; customers of St. Moritz are (sic) foreigners and they gave good
4) Declaring the contracts now marked as Exhibits "I," tips but towards the end of 1984 there were no more foreigners
"K" and "L" as avoided insofar as they appear to coming because of the situation in the Philippines at that time.
convey rights and interests over the properties in Her financial problem started then. She was even renting a small
question to the defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar; room in a squatters area in Gorordo Ave., Cebu City. It was
5) Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff attorneys during her time of great financial distress that she met Wilhelm
fees in the amount of 25,000.00 and litigation Jambrich who later offered her a decent place for herself and her
expenses in the amount of 10,000.00; and, children.16
6) To pay the costs.11 The DSWD Home Study Report17 further disclosed that:
Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a Decision [Jambrich] was then at the Restaurant of St. Moritz when he saw
dated April 10, 2002,12 the appellate court reversed the decision Antonietta Descallar, one of the waitresses of the said
of the trial court. In ruling for the respondent, the Court of Restaurants. He made friends with the girl and asked her to tutor
Appeals held: him in [the] English language. Antonietta accepted the offer
We disagree with the lower courts conclusion. The because she was in need of additional income to support [her] 2
circumstances involved in the case cited by the lower court and young children who were abandoned by their father. Their
similar cases decided on by the Supreme Court which upheld the session was agreed to be scheduled every afternoon at the
validity of the title of the subsequent Filipino purchasers are residence of Antonietta in the squatters area in Gorordo Avenue,
absent in the case at bar. It should be noted that in said cases, the Cebu City. The Austrian was observing the situation of the
title to the subject property has been issued in the name of the family particularly the children who were malnourished. After a
alien transferee (Godinez et al., vs. Fong Pak Luen et al., 120 few months sessions, Mr. Jambrich offered to transfer the family
SCRA 223 citing Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds of Manila, 79 into a decent place. He told Antonietta that the place is not good
Phils. 461; United Church Board for World Ministries vs. for the children. Antonietta who was miserable and financially
Sebastian, 159 SCRA 446, citing the case of Sarsosa Vda. De distressed at that time accepted the offer for the sake of the
Barsobia vs. Cuenco, 113 SCRA 547; Tejido vs. Zamacoma, 138 children.18
SCRA 78). In the case at bar, the title of the subject property is Further, the following additional pieces of evidence point to
not in the name of Jambrich but in the name of defendant- Jambrich as the source of fund used to purchase the three
appellant. Thus, Jambrich could not have transferred a property parcels of land, and to construct the house thereon:
he has no title thereto.13
(1) Respondent Descallar herself affirmed under oath, public domain." Only Filipino citizens or corporations at least
during her re-direct examination and during the 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos are qualified
proceedings for the adoption of her minor children, that to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. Thus, as the rule
Jambrich was the owner of the properties in question, now stands, the fundamental law explicitly prohibits non-
but that his name was deleted in the Deed of Absolute Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands, except
Sale because of legal constraints. Nonetheless, his only by way of legal succession or if the acquisition was made
signature remained in the deed of sale, where he signed by a former natural-born citizen.29
as buyer. Therefore, in the instant case, the transfer of land from Agro-
(2) The money used to pay the subject parcels of land Macro Development Corporation to Jambrich, who is an
in installments was in postdated checks issued by Austrian, would have been declared invalid if challenged, had
Jambrich. Respondent has never opened any account not Jambrich conveyed the properties to petitioner who is a
with any bank. Receipts of the installment payments Filipino citizen. In United Church Board for World Ministries v.
were also in the name of Jambrich and respondent. Sebastian,30 the Court reiterated the consistent ruling in a
(3) In 1986-1987, respondent lived in Syria with number of cases31 that if land is invalidly transferred to an alien
Jambrich and her two children for ten months, where who subsequently becomes a Filipino citizen or transfers it to a
she was completely under the support of Jambrich. Filipino, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured
(4) Jambrich executed a Last Will and Testament, and the title of the transferee is rendered valid. Applying United
where he, as owner, bequeathed the subject properties Church Board for World Ministries, the trial court ruled in favor
to respondent. of petitioner, viz.:
Thus, Jambrich has all authority to transfer all his rights, [W]hile the acquisition and the purchase of (sic) Wilhelm
interests and participation over the subject properties to Jambrich of the properties under litigation [were] void ab initio
petitioner by virtue of the Deed of Assignment he executed on since [they were] contrary to the Constitution of the Philippines,
July 11, 1991. he being a foreigner, yet, the acquisition of these properties by
Well-settled is the rule that this Court is not a trier of facts. The plaintiff who is a Filipino citizen from him, has cured the flaw in
findings of fact of the trial court are accorded great weight and the original transaction and the title of the transferee is valid.
respect, if not finality by this Court, subject to a number of The trial court upheld the sale by Jambrich in favor of petitioner
exceptions. In the instant case, we find no reason to disturb the and ordered the cancellation of the TCTs in the name of
factual findings of the trial court. Even the appellate court did respondent. It declared petitioner as owner in fee simple of the
not controvert the factual findings of the trial court. They residential house of strong materials and three parcels of land
differed only in their conclusions of law. designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and 5, and ordered the Register of
Further, the fact that the disputed properties were acquired Deeds of Mandaue City to issue new certificates of title in his
during the couples cohabitation also does not help respondent. name. The trial court likewise ordered respondent to pay
The rule that co-ownership applies to a man and a woman living petitioner 25,000 as attorneys fees and 10,000 as litigation
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the expenses, as well as the costs of suit.
benefit of marriage, but are otherwise capacitated to marry each We affirm the Regional Trial Court.
other, does not apply.19 In the instant case, respondent was still The rationale behind the Courts ruling in United Church Board
legally married to another when she and Jambrich lived together. for World Ministries, as reiterated in subsequent cases, 32 is this
In such an adulterous relationship, no co-ownership exists since the ban on aliens is intended to preserve the nations land
between the parties. It is necessary for each of the partners to for future generations of Filipinos, that aim is achieved by
prove his or her actual contribution to the acquisition of property making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who
in order to be able to lay claim to any portion of it. Presumptions became Filipino citizens by naturalization or those transfers
of co-ownership and equal contribution do not apply.20 made by aliens to Filipino citizens. As the property in dispute is
Second, we dispose of the issue of registration of the properties already in the hands of a qualified person, a Filipino citizen,
in the name of respondent alone. Having found that the true there would be no more public policy to be protected. The
buyer of the disputed house and lots was the Austrian Wilhelm objective of the constitutional provision to keep our lands in
Jambrich, what now is the effect of registration of the properties Filipino hands has been achieved.
in the name of respondent? IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision
It is settled that registration is not a mode of acquiring of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 42929 dated April
ownership.21 It is only a means of confirming the fact of its 10, 2002 and its Resolution dated July 8, 2003 are REVERSED
existence with notice to the world at large. 22 Certificates of title and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
are not a source of right. The mere possession of a title does not Mandaue City in Civil Case No. MAN-1148 is REINSTATED.
make one the true owner of the property. Thus, the mere fact SO ORDERED.
that respondent has the titles of the disputed properties in her
name does not necessarily, conclusively and absolutely make
her the owner. The rule on indefeasibility of title likewise does
not apply to respondent. A certificate of title implies that the title
is quiet,23 and that it is perfect, absolute and
indefeasible.24 However, there are well-defined exceptions to
this rule, as when the transferee is not a holder in good faith and
did not acquire the subject properties for a valuable
consideration.25 This is the situation in the instant case.
Respondent did not contribute a single centavo in the acquisition
of the properties. She had no income of her own at that time, nor
did she have any savings. She and her two sons were then fully
supported by Jambrich.
Respondent argued that aliens are prohibited from acquiring
private land. This is embodied in Section 7, Article XII of the
1987 Constitution,26 which is basically a reproduction of Section
5, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution,27 and Section 14, Article
XIV of the 1973 Constitution.28 The capacity to acquire private
land is dependent on the capacity "to acquire or hold lands of
the public domain." Private land may be transferred only to
individuals or entities "qualified to acquire or hold lands of the