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C3c- 7 Death Insanity (Dead Man’s Statute)

Bordalba v. CA
GR No. 112443
Jan 25, 2002

Ynares-Santiago, J.:

In 1980, herein petitioner, Teresita Bordalba (Bordalba) was granted a Free Patent and was
issued an Original Certificate of Title over the herein subject lot located in Mandaue City. She caused
the subdivision and titling of the said lot into 6 parcels, as well as the conveyance of the two parcels
thereof. Private respondents, however, claimed ownership over the same lot by virtue of an
extrajudicial partition made as early as 1947, contending that the land was given to them by their
parents, Sps. Carmeno Jayme and margarita Espina de Jayme (Sps. Jayme). Hence, they filed a
complaint to declare void the Free Patent as well as the cancellation of the titles issued.

Bordalba averred that a portion of the lot was in possession of the lot in the concept of an
owner since 1947 and that Nicanor Jayme merely occupied same lot through the tolerance of her
mother. During the cross-examination, Bordalba admitted that the properties of the Sps. Jayme
were partitioned by their children, however she was not aware the existence of said Deed of Extra-
judicial Parition. She, however, identified one of the signaturs of the deed to be her mothers.

The trial court, finding that fraud was employed by petitioner in obtaining the Free Patent,
declared said free patent and title void and ordered its cancellation. However, the purchaser and
mortgagee of the two parcels conveyed were declared in good faith, hence, upheld their rights over
the property. Both petitioner and private respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals, which
affirmed with modification the decision of the trial court. It ruled that private respondents are
entitled only to 1/3 portion of the lot and petitioner should be ordered to reconvey only 1/3 of the
lot to the private respondents.

Petitioner contends that the testimonies given by the witnesses for private respondents
which touched on matters occurring prior to the death of her mother should not have been
admitted by the trial court, as the same violated the dead man's statute. Likewise, petitioner
questions the right of private respondents to inherit from the late Nicanor Jayme and Asuncion
Jayme-Baclay, as well as the identity between the disputed lot and the parcel of land adjudicated in
the Deed of Extra-judicial Partition.

Whether or not there is a violation of dead man’s statute?

No. The dead man's statute does not operate to close the mouth of a witness as to any
matter of fact coming to his knowledge in any other way than through personal dealings with the
deceased person, or communication made by the deceased to the witness.
Since the claim of private respondents and the testimony of their witnesses in the present
case is based, inter alia, on the 1947 Deed of Extra-judicial Partition and other documents, and not
on dealings and communications with the deceased, the questioned testimonies were properly
admitted by the trial court.

Likewise untenable is the claim of petitioner that private respondents are not legal heirs of
Nicanor Jayme and Asuncion Jayme-Baclay. Other than their bare allegations to dispute their
heirship, no hard evidence was presented by them to substantiate their allegations. Besides, in order
that an heir may assert his right to the property of a deceased, no previous judicial declaration of
heirship is necessary.