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Otani Hotel in Manila.

The said meeting was for the purpose of brokering the sale
OESMER vs PARAISO of petitioners properties to respondent corporation.

February 5, 2007 Pursuant to the said meeting, a Contract to Sell[5] was drafted by the Executive
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x Assistant of Sotero Lee, Inocencia Almo. On 1 April 1989, petitioners Ernesto and
DECISION Enriqueta signed the aforesaid Contract to Sell. A check in the amount of
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: P100,000.00, payable to Ernesto, was given as option money. Sometime thereafter,
Rizalino, Leonora, Bibiano, Jr., and Librado also signed the said Contract to Sell.
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 However, two of the brothers, Adolfo and Jesus, did not sign the document.
Revised Rules of Civil Procedure seeking to reverse and set aside the Court of
Appeals Decision[1] dated 26 April 2002 in CA-G.R. CV No. 53130 entitled, On 5 April 1989, a duplicate copy of the instrument was returned to respondent
Rizalino, Ernesto, Leonora, Bibiano, Jr., Librado, Enriqueta, Adolfo, and Jesus, all corporation. On 21 April 1989, respondent brought the same to a notary public for
surnamed Oesmer vs. Paraiso Development Corporation, as modified by its notarization.
Resolution[2] dated 4 March 2003, declaring the Contract to Sell valid and binding
with respect to the undivided proportionate shares of the six signatories of the said In a letter[6] dated 1 November 1989, addressed to respondent corporation,
document, herein petitioners, namely: Ernesto, Enriqueta, Librado, Rizalino, petitioners informed the former of their intention to rescind the Contract to Sell
Bibiano, Jr., and Leonora (all surnamed Oesmer); and ordering them to execute and to return the amount of P100,000.00 given by respondent as option money.
the Deed of Absolute Sale concerning their 6/8 share over the subject parcels of
land in favor of herein respondent Paraiso Development Corporation, and to pay Respondent did not respond to the aforesaid letter. On 30 May 1991, herein
the latter the attorneys fees plus costs of the suit. The assailed Decision, as petitioners, together with Adolfo and Jesus, filed a Complaint[7] for Declaration of
modified, likewise ordered the respondent to tender payment to the petitioners in Nullity or for Annulment of Option Agreement or Contract to Sell with Damages
the amount of P3,216,560.00 representing the balance of the purchase price of the before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacoor, Cavite. The said case was docketed
subject parcels of land. as Civil Case No. BCV-91-49.
The facts of the case are as follows:
During trial, petitioner Rizalino died. Upon motion of petitioners, the trial court
Petitioners Rizalino, Ernesto, Leonora, Bibiano, Jr., Librado, and Enriqueta, all issued an Order,[8] dated 16 September 1992, to the effect that the deceased
surnamed Oesmer, together with Adolfo Oesmer (Adolfo) and Jesus Oesmer petitioner be substituted by his surviving spouse, Josefina O. Oesmer, and his
(Jesus), are brothers and sisters, and the co-owners of undivided shares of two children, Rolando O. Oesmer and Fernando O. Oesmer. However, the name of
parcels of agricultural and tenanted land situated in Barangay Ulong Tubig, Rizalino was retained in the title of the case both in the RTC and the Court of
Carmona, Cavite, identified as Lot 720 with an area of 40,507 square meters (sq. Appeals.
m.) and Lot 834 containing an area of 14,769 sq. m., or a total land area of 55,276
sq. m. Both lots are unregistered and originally owned by their parents, Bibiano After trial on the merits, the lower court rendered a Decision[9] dated 27 March
Oesmer and Encarnacion Durumpili, who declared the lots for taxation purposes 1996 in favor of the respondent, the dispositive portion of which reads:
under Tax Declaration No. 3438[3] (cancelled by I.D. No. 6064-A) for Lot 720 and
Tax Declaration No. 3437[4] (cancelled by I.D. No. 5629) for Lot 834. When the WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of herein
spouses Oesmer died, petitioners, together with Adolfo and Jesus, acquired the [respondent] Paraiso Development Corporation. The assailed Contract to Sell is
lots as heirs of the former by right of succession. valid and binding only to the undivided proportionate share of the signatory of this
document and recipient of the check, [herein petitioner] co-owner Ernesto
Respondent Paraiso Development Corporation is known to be engaged in the real Durumpili Oesmer. The latter is hereby ordered to execute the Contract of Absolute
estate business. Sale concerning his 1/8 share over the subject two parcels of land in favor of herein
[respondent] corporation, and to pay the latter the attorneys fees in the sum of Ten
Sometime in March 1989, Rogelio Paular, a resident and former Municipal Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos plus costs of suit.
Secretary of Carmona, Cavite, brought along petitioner Ernesto to meet with a
certain Sotero Lee, President of respondent Paraiso Development Corporation, at The counterclaim of [respondent] corporation is hereby Dismissed for lack of
merit.[10]
Petitioners come before this Court arguing that the Court of Appeals erred:
Unsatisfied, respondent appealed the said Decision before the Court of Appeals.
On 26 April 2002, the appellate court rendered a Decision modifying the Decision I. On a question of law in not holding that, the supposed
of the court a quo by declaring that the Contract to Sell is valid and binding with Contract to Sell (Exhibit D) is not binding upon petitioner Ernesto Oesmers co-
respect to the undivided proportionate shares of the six signatories of the said owners (herein petitioners Enriqueta, Librado, Rizalino, Bibiano, Jr., and Leonora).
document, herein petitioners, namely: Ernesto, Enriqueta, Librado, Rizalino,
Bibiano, Jr., and Leonora (all surnamed Oesmer). The decretal portion of the said II. On a question of law in not holding that, the supposed
Decision states that: Contract to Sell (Exhibit D) is void altogether considering that respondent itself did
not sign it as to indicate its consent to be bound by its terms. Moreover, Exhibit D
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the court a quo is hereby is really a unilateral promise to sell without consideration distinct from the price,
MODIFIED. Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of herein [respondent] Paraiso and hence, void.
Development Corporation. The assailed Contract to Sell is valid and binding with
respect to the undivided proportionate share of the six (6) signatories of this
document, [herein petitioners], namely, Ernesto, Enriqueta, Librado, Rizalino, Petitioners assert that the signatures of five of them namely: Enriqueta, Librado,
Bibiano, Jr., and Leonora (all surnamed Oesmer). The said [petitioners] are hereby Rizalino, Bibiano, Jr., and Leonora, on the margins of the supposed Contract to
ordered to execute the Deed of Absolute Sale concerning their 6/8 share over the Sell did not confer authority on petitioner Ernesto as agent to sell their respective
subject two parcels of land and in favor of herein [respondent] corporation, and to shares in the questioned properties, and hence, for lack of written authority from
pay the latter the attorneys fees in the sum of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) the above-named petitioners to sell their respective shares in the subject parcels
plus costs of suit.[11] of land, the supposed Contract to Sell is void as to them. Neither do their
signatures signify their consent to directly sell their shares in the questioned
properties. Assuming that the signatures indicate consent, such consent was
Aggrieved by the above-mentioned Decision, petitioners filed a Motion for merely conditional. The effectivity of the alleged Contract to Sell was subject to a
Reconsideration of the same on 2 July 2002. Acting on petitioners Motion for suspensive condition, which is the approval of the sale by all the co-owners.
Reconsideration, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution dated 4 March 2003,
maintaining its Decision dated 26 April 2002, with the modification that Petitioners also assert that the supposed Contract to Sell (Exhibit D), contrary to
respondent tender payment to petitioners in the amount of P3,216,560.00, the findings of the Court of Appeals, is not couched in simple language.
representing the balance of the purchase price of the subject parcels of land. The
dispositive portion of the said Resolution reads: They further claim that the supposed Contract to Sell does not bind the respondent
because the latter did not sign the said contract as to indicate its consent to be
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision is hereby modified. bound by its terms. Furthermore, they maintain that the supposed Contract to Sell
Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of herein [respondent] Paraiso Development is really a unilateral promise to sell and the option money does not bind petitioners
Corporation. The assailed Contract to Sell is valid and binding with respect to the for lack of cause or consideration distinct from the purchase price.
undivided proportionate shares of the six (6) signatories of this document, [herein
petitioners], namely, Ernesto, Enriqueta, Librado, Rizalino, Bibiano, Jr., and The Petition is bereft of merit.
Leonora (all surnamed Oesmer). The said [petitioners] are hereby ordered to
execute the Deed of Absolute Sale concerning their 6/8 share over the subject two It is true that the signatures of the five petitioners, namely: Enriqueta, Librado,
parcels of land in favor of herein [respondent] corporation, and to pay the latter Rizalino, Bibiano, Jr., and Leonora, on the Contract to Sell did not confer authority
attorneys fees in the sum of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) plus costs of suit. on petitioner Ernesto as agent authorized to sell their respective shares in the
Respondent is likewise ordered to tender payment to the above-named [petitioners] questioned properties because of Article 1874 of the Civil Code, which expressly
in the amount of Three Million Two Hundred Sixteen Thousand Five Hundred Sixty provides that:
Pesos (P3,216,560.00) representing the balance of the purchase price of the subject
two parcels of land. [12] Art. 1874. When a sale of a piece of land or any interest therein is through an
agent, the authority of the latter shall be in writing; otherwise, the sale shall be
Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari. void.
In the case at bar, the Contract to Sell was perfected when the petitioners
The law itself explicitly requires a written authority before an agent can sell an consented to the sale to the respondent of their shares in the subject parcels of
immovable. The conferment of such an authority should be in writing, in as clear land by affixing their signatures on the said contract. Such signatures show their
and precise terms as possible. It is worth noting that petitioners signatures are acceptance of what has been stipulated in the Contract to Sell and such acceptance
found in the Contract to Sell. The Contract is absolutely silent on the was made known to respondent corporation when the duplicate copy of the
establishment of any principal-agent relationship between the five petitioners and Contract to Sell was returned to the latter bearing petitioners signatures.
their brother and co-petitioner Ernesto as to the sale of the subject parcels of land.
Thus, the Contract to Sell, although signed on the margin by the five petitioners, As to petitioner Enriquetas claim that she merely signed as a witness to the said
is not sufficient to confer authority on petitioner Ernesto to act as their agent in contract, the contract itself does not say so. There was no single indication in the
selling their shares in the properties in question. said contract that she signed the same merely as a witness. The fact that her
signature appears on the right-hand margin of the Contract to Sell is insignificant.
However, despite petitioner Ernestos lack of written authority from the five The contract indisputably referred to the Heirs of Bibiano and Encarnacion
petitioners to sell their shares in the subject parcels of land, the supposed Contract Oesmer, and since there is no showing that Enriqueta signed the document in
to Sell remains valid and binding upon the latter. some other capacity, it can be safely assumed that she did so as one of the parties
to the sale.
As can be clearly gleaned from the contract itself, it is not only petitioner Ernesto
who signed the said Contract to Sell; the other five petitioners also personally Emphasis should also be given to the fact that petitioners Ernesto and Enriqueta
affixed their signatures thereon. Therefore, a written authority is no longer concurrently signed the Contract to Sell. As the Court of Appeals mentioned in its
necessary in order to sell their shares in the subject parcels of land because, by Decision,[14] the records of the case speak of the fact that petitioner Ernesto,
affixing their signatures on the Contract to Sell, they were not selling their shares together with petitioner Enriqueta, met with the representatives of the respondent
through an agent but, rather, they were selling the same directly and in their own in order to finalize the terms and conditions of the Contract to Sell. Enriqueta
right. affixed her signature on the said contract when the same was drafted. She even
admitted that she understood the undertaking that she and petitioner Ernesto
The Court also finds untenable the following arguments raised by petitioners to made in connection with the contract. She likewise disclosed that pursuant to the
the effect that the Contract to Sell is not binding upon them, except to Ernesto, terms embodied in the Contract to Sell, she updated the payment of the real
because: (1) the signatures of five of the petitioners do not signify their consent to property taxes and transferred the Tax Declarations of the questioned properties
sell their shares in the questioned properties since petitioner Enriqueta merely in her name.[15] Hence, it cannot be gainsaid that she merely signed the Contract
signed as a witness to the said Contract to Sell, and that the other petitioners, to Sell as a witness because she did not only actively participate in the negotiation
namely: Librado, Rizalino, Leonora, and Bibiano, Jr., did not understand the and execution of the same, but her subsequent actions also reveal an attempt to
importance and consequences of their action because of their low degree of comply with the conditions in the said contract.
education and the contents of the aforesaid contract were not read nor explained
to them; and (2) assuming that the signatures indicate consent, such consent was With respect to the other petitioners assertion that they did not understand the
merely conditional, thus, the effectivity of the alleged Contract to Sell was subject importance and consequences of their action because of their low degree of
to a suspensive condition, which is the approval by all the co-owners of the sale. education and because the contents of the aforesaid contract were not read nor
explained to them, the same cannot be sustained.
It is well-settled that contracts are perfected by mere consent, upon the acceptance
by the offeree of the offer made by the offeror. From that moment, the parties are We only have to quote the pertinent portions of the Court of Appeals Decision, clear
bound not only to the fulfillment of what has been expressly stipulated but also to and concise, to dispose of this issue. Thus,
all the consequences which, according to their nature, may be in keeping with good
faith, usage and law. To produce a contract, the acceptance must not qualify the First, the Contract to Sell is couched in such a simple language which is
terms of the offer. However, the acceptance may be express or implied. For a undoubtedly easy to read and understand. The terms of the Contract, specifically
contract to arise, the acceptance must be made known to the offeror. Accordingly, the amount of P100,000.00 representing the option money paid by [respondent]
the acceptance can be withdrawn or revoked before it is made known to the corporation, the purchase price of P60.00 per square meter or the total amount of
offeror.[13] P3,316,560.00 and a brief description of the subject properties are well-indicated
thereon that any prudent and mature man would have known the nature and The Supreme Court in the case of Cecilia Mata v. Court of Appeals (207 SCRA 753
extent of the transaction encapsulated in the document that he was signing. [1992]), citing the case of Tan Sua Sia v. Yu Baio Sontua (56 Phil. 711),
instructively ruled as follows:
Second, the following circumstances, as testified by the witnesses and as can be
gleaned from the records of the case clearly indicate the [petitioners] intention to The Court does not accept the petitioners claim that she did not understand the
be bound by the stipulations chronicled in the said Contract to Sell. terms and conditions of the transactions because she only reached Grade Three
and was already 63 years of age when she signed the documents. She was literate,
As to [petitioner] Ernesto, there is no dispute as to his intention to effect the to begin with, and her age did not make her senile or incompetent. x x x.
alienation of the subject property as he in fact was the one who initiated the
negotiation process and culminated the same by affixing his signature on the At any rate, Metrobank had no obligation to explain the documents to the
Contract to Sell and by taking receipt of the amount of P100,000.00 which formed petitioner as nowhere has it been proven that she is unable to read or that the
part of the purchase price. contracts were written in a language not known to her. It was her responsibility to
inform herself of the meaning and consequence of the contracts she was signing
xxxx and, if she found them difficult to comprehend, to consult other persons, preferably
lawyers, to explain them to her. After all, the transactions involved not only a few
As to [petitioner] Librado, the [appellate court] finds it preposterous that he hundred or thousand pesos but, indeed, hundreds of thousands of pesos.
willingly affixed his signature on a document written in a language (English) that
he purportedly does not understand. He testified that the document was just As the Court has held:
brought to him by an 18 year old niece named Baby and he was told that the
document was for a check to be paid to him. He readily signed the Contract to Sell x x x The rule that one who signs a contract is presumed to know its contents has
without consulting his other siblings. Thereafter, he exerted no effort in been applied even to contracts of illiterate persons on the ground that if such
communicating with his brothers and sisters regarding the document which he persons are unable to read, they are negligent if they fail to have the contract read
had signed, did not inquire what the check was for and did not thereafter ask for to them. If a person cannot read the instrument, it is as much his duty to procure
the check which is purportedly due to him as a result of his signing the said some reliable persons to read and explain it to him, before he signs it, as it would
Contract to Sell. (TSN, 28 September 1993, pp. 22-23) be to read it before he signed it if he were able to do and his failure to obtain a
reading and explanation of it is such gross negligence as will estop from avoiding
The [appellate court] notes that Librado is a 43 year old family man (TSN, 28 it on the ground that he was ignorant of its contents.[16]
September 1993, p. 19). As such, he is expected to act with that ordinary degree
of care and prudence expected of a good father of a family. His unwitting testimony That the petitioners really had the intention to dispose of their shares in the subject
is just divinely disbelieving. parcels of land, irrespective of whether or not all of the heirs consented to the said
Contract to Sell, was unveiled by Adolfos testimony as follows:
The other [petitioners] (Rizalino, Leonora and Bibiano Jr.) are likewise bound by
the said Contract to Sell. The theory adopted by the [petitioners] that because of ATTY. GAMO: This alleged agreement between you and your other brothers and
their low degree of education, they did not understand the contents of the said sisters that unless everybody will agree, the properties would not be sold, was that
Contract to Sell is devoid of merit. The [appellate court] also notes that Adolfo (one agreement in writing?
of the co-heirs who did not sign) also possess the same degree of education as that
of the signing co-heirs (TSN, 15 October 1991, p. 19). He, however, is employed at WITNESS: No sir.
the Provincial Treasury Office at Trece Martirez, Cavite and has even accompanied ATTY. GAMO: What you are saying is that when your brothers and sisters except
Rogelio Paular to the Assessors Office to locate certain missing documents which Jesus and you did not sign that agreement which had been marked as [Exhibit] D,
were needed to transfer the titles of the subject properties. (TSN, 28 January 1994, your brothers and sisters were grossly violating your agreement.
pp. 26 & 35) Similarly, the other co-heirs [petitioners], like Adolfo, are far from
ignorant, more so, illiterate that they can be extricated from their obligations under WITNESS: Yes, sir, they violated what we have agreed upon.[17]
the Contract to Sell which they voluntarily and knowingly entered into with the
[respondent] corporation. We also cannot sustain the allegation of the petitioners that assuming the
signatures indicate consent, such consent was merely conditional, and that, the
effectivity of the alleged Contract to Sell was subject to the suspensive condition in the Contract to Sell, the former cannot evade its obligation to pay the balance
that the sale be approved by all the co-owners. The Contract to Sell is clear enough. of the purchase price.
It is a cardinal rule in the interpretation of contracts that if the terms of a contract
are clear and leave no doubt upon the intention of the contracting parties, the As a final point, the Contract to Sell entered into by the parties is not a unilateral
literal meaning of its stipulation shall control.[18] The terms of the Contract to Sell promise to sell merely because it used the word option money when it referred to
made no mention of the condition that before it can become valid and binding, a the amount of P100,000.00, which also form part of the purchase price.
unanimous consent of all the heirs is necessary. Thus, when the language of the
contract is explicit, as in the present case, leaving no doubt as to the intention of Settled is the rule that in the interpretation of contracts, the ascertainment of the
the parties thereto, the literal meaning of its stipulation is controlling. intention of the contracting parties is to be discharged by looking to the words they
used to project that intention in their contract, all the words, not just a particular
In addition, the petitioners, being owners of their respective undivided shares in word or two, and words in context, not words standing alone.[19]
the subject properties, can dispose of their shares even without the consent of all
the co-heirs. Article 493 of the Civil Code expressly provides: In the instant case, the consideration of P100,000.00 paid by respondent to
petitioners was referred to as option money. However, a careful examination of the
Article 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the words used in the contract indicates that the money is not option money but
fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or earnest money. Earnest money and option money are not the same but
mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when distinguished thus: (a) earnest money is part of the purchase price, while option
personal rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with money is the money given as a distinct consideration for an option contract; (b)
respect to the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to earnest money is given only where there is already a sale, while option money
him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership. [Emphases applies to a sale not yet perfected; and, (c) when earnest money is given, the buyer
supplied.] is bound to pay the balance, while when the would-be buyer gives option money,
he is not required to buy, but may even forfeit it depending on the terms of the
option.[20]
Consequently, even without the consent of the two co-heirs, Adolfo and Jesus, the
Contract to Sell is still valid and binding with respect to the 6/8 proportionate The sum of P100,000.00 was part of the purchase price. Although the same was
shares of the petitioners, as properly held by the appellate court. denominated as option money, it is actually in the nature of earnest money or
down payment when considered with the other terms of the contract. Doubtless,
Therefore, this Court finds no error in the findings of the Court of Appeals that all the agreement is not a mere unilateral promise to sell, but, indeed, it is a Contract
the petitioners who were signatories in the Contract to Sell are bound thereby. to Sell as both the trial court and the appellate court declared in their Decisions.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is DENIED, and the Decision and
The final arguments of petitioners state that the Contract to Sell is void altogether Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 26 April 2002 and 4 March 2003,
considering that respondent itself did not sign it as to indicate its consent to be respectively, are AFFIRMED, thus, (a) the Contract to Sell is DECLARED valid and
bound by its terms; and moreover, the Contract to Sell is really a unilateral promise binding with respect to the undivided proportionate shares in the subject parcels
to sell without consideration distinct from the price, and hence, again, void. Said of land of the six signatories of the said document, herein petitioners Ernesto,
arguments must necessarily fail. Enriqueta, Librado, Rizalino, Bibiano, Jr., and Leonora (all surnamed Oesmer); (b)
respondent is ORDERED to tender payment to petitioners in the amount of
The Contract to Sell is not void merely because it does not bear the signature of P3,216,560.00 representing the balance of the purchase price for the latters shares
the respondent corporation. Respondent corporations consent to be bound by the in the subject parcels of land; and (c) petitioners are further ORDERED to execute
terms of the contract is shown in the uncontroverted facts which established that in favor of respondent the Deed of Absolute Sale covering their shares in the
there was partial performance by respondent of its obligation in the said Contract subject parcels of land after receipt of the balance of the purchase price, and to
to Sell when it tendered the amount of P100,000.00 to form part of the purchase pay respondent attorneys fees plus costs of the suit. Costs against petitioners.
price, which was accepted and acknowledged expressly by petitioners. Therefore,
by force of law, respondent is required to complete the payment to enforce the SO ORDERED.
terms of the contract. Accordingly, despite the absence of respondents signature
AGUILAR vs. AGUILAR
On appeal, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 03933, the Court of Appeals reversed the
Promulgated: December 16, 2005 trial courts Decision.

x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x Virgilio then filed with this Court a petition for review on certiorari, docketed as
G.R. No. 76351.
DECISION
On October 29, 1993, this Court rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Decision[1] and which reads:
Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals, dated June 11, 1999 and January 11, 2000,
respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No. 55750. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of
Appeals dated 16 October 1986 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The decision of the
The parties in this case are brothers, except Alejandro Sangalang, herein trial court in Civil Case No. 6912-P dated 26 July 1971 is REINSTATED, with the
intervenor-respondent. As will be subsequently discussed, this is the second time modification that respondent Senen B. Aguilar is ordered to vacate the premises
that the brothers Aguilar seek the intervention of this Court regarding the same in question within ninety (90) days from receipt of this decision, and to pay
facts and the same subject matter. The first was in Aguilar v. Court of Appeals, petitioner Virgilio B. Aguilar, a monthly rental of P1,200.00 with interest at the
G.R. No. 76351 decided on October 29, 1993 against Senen B. Aguilar.[3] It is time legal rate from the time he received the decision of the trial court directing him to
to writ finis to this family wrangling. vacate until he effectively leaves the premises.
The trial court is further directed to take immediate steps to implement this
On October 28, 1993, Senen and Virgilio purchased a house and lot located in decision, conformably with Art. 498 of the Civil Code and the Rules of Court. This
Paraaque City, Metro Manila for the benefit of their father, Maximiano Aguilar (now decision is final and executory.
deceased). The brothers wanted their father to enjoy his retirement in a quiet SO ORDERED.
neighborhood. On February 23, 1970, they executed a written agreement
stipulating that their shares in the house and lot would be equal; and that Senen On March 27, 1995, Senen filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 260,
would live with their father on condition that he would pay the Social Security Paraaque City, an action for legal redemption against Virgilio and another brother,
System (SSS) the remaining loan obligation of the former owners. Angel, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-039. In his complaint, Senen alleged that
while he knows that Virgilio sold his share of the property to Angel in January
In 1974, their father died. Virgilio then demanded that Senen vacate the house 1989, however, he (Senen) was not furnished any written notice of the sale.
and that the property be sold, the proceeds to be divided between them. Senen Consequently, as a co-owner, he has the right to redeem the property.
refused to comply with Virgilios demand.
Meanwhile, on November 27, 1995, pursuant to this Courts Decision in G.R. No.
On January 12, 1979, Virgilio filed a complaint with the Court of First Instance 76351, the property was sold at public auction to Alejandro C. Sangalang,
(now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal at Pasay City for specific performance. Virgilio intervenor-respondent herein. Virgilio then received his share of the proceeds as
prayed that Senen be compelled to sell the property so that the proceeds could be well as the rental payments due from Senen.
divided between them.
By then, Virgilio had moved to California, USA. It was only on January 25, 1997
However, during the pre-trial, neither Senen nor his counsel appeared. Thus, that he was served, through the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, a copy of
Senen was declared as in default by the trial court and Virgilio was allowed to Senens complaint in Civil Case No. 95-039.
present his evidence ex-parte.
On February 24, 1997, Virgilio filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of
On July 26, 1979, the trial court rendered its Decision, declaring the brothers co- cause of action and forum shopping.
owners of the house and lot and are entitled to equal shares; and ordering that the
property be sold, the proceeds to be divided equally between them. The trial court In an Order dated June 27, 1997, the trial court dismissed Civil Case No. 05-039
also ordered Senen to vacate the property and to pay Virgilio rentals with interests on the ground of laches, holding that Senen incurred a delay of seven (7) years
corresponding to the period from January 1975 until he leaves the premises. before asserting his right to redeem the property in question.
In this case, the sale took place in January 1989. Petitioner admits that he has
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the assailed Order of the trial court. actual knowledge of the sale. However, he only asserted his right to redeem the
property in March 1995 by filing the instant complaint. Both the trial court and
Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari. the Appellate Court ruled that this was seven (7) years late.

The sole issue for our resolution is whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding Petitioner, however, now contends that there being no written notice to him of the
that Senens complaint for legal redemption in Civil Case No. 05-039 is barred by sale by the vendee or vendor, the thirty-day redemption period has not prescribed.
laches.
Petitioners contention lacks merit. The old rule is that a written notice of the sale
Legal redemption (retracto legal de comuneros) is a privilege created by law, partly by the vendor to his co-owners is indispensable for the latter to exercise their
by reason of public policy and partly for the benefit of the redemptioner to afford retracto legal de comuneros.[6] More recently, however, we have relaxed the written
him a way out of a disagreeable or inconvenient association into which he has been notice requirement. Thus, in Si v. Court of Appeals,[7] we ruled that a co-owner
thrust.[4] with actual notice of the sale is not entitled to a written notice for such would be
superfluous. The law does not demand what is unnecessary.
With respect to redemption by co-owners, in case the share of a co-owner is sold
to a third person, the governing law is Article 1620 of the Civil Code which provides: Laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of
time, to do that which could or should have been done earlier through the exercise
ART. 1620. A co-owner of a thing may exercise the right of redemption in case the of due diligence.[8] Otherwise stated, laches is the negligence or omission to assert
shares of all the other co-owners or of any of them are sold to a third person. If the a right within a reasonable time warranting a presumption that the party entitled
price of the alienation is grossly excessive, the redemptioner shall pay only a to assert it has either abandoned or declined to assert it.[9] Its elements are: (1)
reasonable rate. conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise
Should two or more co-owners desire to exercise the right of redemption, they may to the situation for which the complaint seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the
only do so in proportion to the share they may respectively have in the thing owned complainants rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice of the
in common. defendants conduct as having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3)
lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant
The purpose behind Article 1620 is to provide a method for terminating the co- would assert the right in which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the
ownership and consolidating the dominion in one sole owner.[5] defendant in the event, relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not held
barred.[10]
Article 1623 of the same Code also provides:
Petitioner has actual knowledge of the sale of Virgilios share to Angel in 1989. As
ART. 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be exercised provided by Article 1623, he has thirty days from such actual knowledge within
except within thirty days from the notice in writing by the prospective vendee, or which to exercise his right to redeem the property. Inexplicably, petitioner did not
by the vendor, as the case may be. The deed of sale shall not be recorded in the take any action. He waited for seven (7) years before filing his complaint. Definitely,
Registry of Property, unless accompanied by an affidavit of the vendee that he has such an unexplained delay is tantamount to laches. To be sure, to uphold his right
given written notice thereof to all possible redemptioners. would unduly cause injury to respondent-intervenor, a purchaser in good faith and
The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining owners. for value.

From the above provisions, the following are the requisites for the exercise of legal Moreover, by the time Senen filed Civil Case No. 95-039 for legal redemption, his
redemption: (1) There must be a co-ownership; (2) one of the co-owners sold his right was no longer available to him. We have held that after a property has been
right to a stranger; (3) the sale was made before the partition of the co-owned subdivided and distributed among the co-owners, the community has terminated
property; (4) the right of redemption must be exercised by one or more co-owners and there is no reason to sustain any right of pre-emption or redemption.[11]
within a period of thirty days to be counted from the time that he or they were
notified in writing by the vendee or by the co-owner vendor; and (5) the vendee WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court
must be reimbursed for the price of the sale. of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 55750 are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SECOND DIVISION
Respondent, on the other hand, contended that petitioner knew about the sale as
[G.R. No. 137677. May 31, 2000] early as May 30, 1992, because, on that date, she wrote petitioner a letter[2]
informing the latter about the sale, with a demand that the rentals corresponding
ADALIA B. FRANCISCO, petitioner, vs. ZENAIDA F. BOISER, respondent. to her 1/5 share of the subject property be remitted to her. Said letter was sent
with a copy of the Deed of Sale[3] between respondent and Adela Blas. On the same
DECISION date, letters[4] were likewise sent by respondent to the tenants of the building,
namely, Seiko Service Center and Glitters Corporation, informing them of the sale
MENDOZA, J.: and requesting that, thenceforth, they pay 1/5 of the monthly rentals to
respondent. That petitioner received these letters is proved by the fact that on June
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV 8, 1992, she wrote[5] the buildings tenants advising them to disregard respondents
No. 55518 which affirmed in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch request and continue paying full rentals directly to her. Ncm
122, Caloocan City, dismissing petitioners complaint for redemption of property
against respondent. Sdaad On August 19, 1996, the trial court dismissed petitioners complaint for legal
redemption. It ruled that Art. 1623 does not prescribe any particular form of
The facts are as follows: notifying co-owners about a sale of property owned in common to enable them to
exercise their right of legal redemption.[6] While no written notice was given by the
Petitioner Adalia B. Francisco and three of her sisters, Ester, Elizabeth and vendor, Adela Blas, to petitioner or the other owners, petitioner herself admitted
Adeluisa, were co-owners of four parcels of registered lands[1] on which stands the that she had received respondents letter of May 30, 1992 and was in fact furnished
Ten Commandments Building at 689 Rizal Avenue Extension, Caloocan City. On a copy of the deed evidencing such sale.[7] The trial court considered the letter
August 6, 1979, they sold 1/5 of their undivided share in the subject parcels of sent by respondent to petitioner with a copy of the deed of sale as substantial
land to their mother, Adela Blas, for P10,000.00, thus making the latter a co-owner compliance with the required written notice under Art. 1623 of the New Civil
of said real property to the extent of the share sold. Sdaamiso Code.[8] Consequently, the 30-day period of redemption should be counted not
from August 5, 1992, when petitioner received summons in Civil Case No. 15510,
On August 8, 1986, without the knowledge of the other co-owners, Adela Blas sold but at the latest, from June 8, 1992, the date petitioner wrote the tenants of the
her 1/5 share for P10,000.00 to respondent Zenaida Boiser who is another sister building advising them to continue paying rentals in full to her. Petitioner failed to
of petitioner. redeem the property within that period.

On August 5, 1992, petitioner received summons, with a copy of the complaint in Petitioner brought the matter to the Court of Appeals, which, on October 26, 1998,
Civil Case No. 15510, filed by respondent demanding her share in the rentals being affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court. She moved for reconsideration,
collected by petitioner from the tenants of the building. Petitioner then informed but her motion was denied by the appellate court on February 16, 1999. Hence,
respondent that she was exercising her right of redemption as a co-owner of the this petition.
subject property. On August 12, 1992, she deposited the amount of P10,000.00 as
redemption price with the Clerk of Court. This move to redeem the property was The sole issue presented in this appeal is whether the letter of May 30, 1992 sent
interposed as a permissive counterclaim in Civil Case No. 15510. However, said by respondent to petitioner notifying her of the sale on August 8, 1986 of Adela
case was dismissed after respondent was declared non-suited with the result that Blas 1/5 share of the property to respondent, containing a copy of the deed
petitioners counterclaim was likewise dismissed. Scncm evidencing such sale, can be considered sufficient as compliance with the notice
requirement of Art. 1623 for the purpose of legal redemption. The trial court and
On September 14, 1995, petitioner instituted Civil Case No. C-17055 before the the Court of Appeals relied on the ruling in Distrito v. Court of Appeals[9] that Art.
Regional Trial Court in Caloocan City. She alleged that the 30-day period for 1623 does not prescribe any particular form of written notice, nor any distinctive
redemption under Art. 1623 of the Civil Code had not begun to run against her method for notifying the redemptioner. They also invoked the rulings in De
since the vendor, Adela Blas, never informed her and the other owners about the Conejero v. Court of Appeals[10] and Badillo v. Ferrer[11] that furnishing the
sale to respondent. She learned about the sale only on August 5, 1992, after she redemptioner with a copy of the deed of sale is equivalent to giving him the written
received the summons in Civil Case No. 15510, together with the complaint. notice required by law. Oldmiso
Ncmmis
On the other hand, petitioner points out that the cited cases are not relevant cause to complain," so it was held. The contrary doctrine of Butte v. Manuel Uy
because the present case does not concern the particular form in which notice and Sons, Inc.[15] was thus overruled sub silencio.
must be given. Rather, the issue here is whether a notice sent by the vendee may
be given in lieu of that required to be given by the vendor or prospective vendor.[12] However, in the later case of Salatandol v. Retes,[16] decided a year after the
Etcuban case, the Court expressly affirmed the ruling in Butte that the notice
Art. 1623 of the Civil Code provides: required by Art. 1623 must be given by the vendor. In Salatandol, the notice given
to the redemptioner by the Register of Deeds of the province where the subject land
The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be exercised except within was situated was held to be insuffucient. Resolving the issue of whether such
thirty days from the notice in writing by the prospective vendor, or by the vendor, notice was equivalent to the notice from the vendor required under Art. 1623, this
as the case maybe. The deed of sale shall not be recorded in the Registry of Court stated:
Property, unless accompanied by an affidavit of the vendor that he has given
written notice thereof to all possible redemptioners. The appeal is impressed with merit. In Butte vs. Manuel Uy and Sons, Inc., the
Court ruled that Art. 1623 of the Civil Code clearly and expressly prescribes that
The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining owners. the thirty (30) days for making the pre-emption or redemption are to be counted
from notice in writing by the vendor. The Court said:
In ruling that the notice given by the vendee was sufficient, the appellate court
cited the case of Etcuban v. Court of Appeals[13] in which it was held: " x x x The test of Article 1623 clearly and expressly prescribes that the thirty days
for making the redemption are to be counted from notice in writing by the vendor.
Petitioner contends that vendors (his co-heirs) should be the ones to give him Under the old law (Civil Code of 1889, Art. 1524), it was immaterial who gave the
written notice and not the vendees (defendants or private respondent herein) citing notice; so long as the redeeming co-owner learned of the alienation in favor of the
the case of Butte vs. Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc., 4 SCRA 526. Such contention is of stranger, the redemption period began to run. It is thus apparent that the
no moment. While it is true that written notice is required by the law (Art. 1623), Philippine legislature in Article 1623 deliberately selected a particular method of
it is equally true that the same "Art. 1623 does not prescribe any particular form giving notice, and that method must be deemed exclusive (39 Am. Jur., 237; Payne
of notice, nor any distinctive method for notifying the redemptioner." So long, vs. State, 12 S.W. (2d) (528). As ruled in Wampher vs. Lecompte, 150 Atl. 458 (affd.
therefore, as the latter is informed in writing of the sale and the particulars thereof, in 75 Law Ed. [U.S.] 275)
the 30 days for redemption start running, and the redemptioner has no real cause
to complain. (De Conejero et al v. Court of Appeals, et al., 16 SCRA 775). In the Why these provisions were inserted in the statute we are not informed, but we may
Conejero case, we ruled that the furnishing of a copy of the disputed deed of sale assume until the contrary is shown, that a state of facts in respect thereto existed,
to the redemptioner was equivalent to the giving of written notice required by law which warranted the legislature in so legislating.
in "a more authentic manner than any other writing could have done," and that
We cannot adopt a stand of having to sacrifice substance to technicality. More so "The reasons for requiring that the notice should be given by the seller, and not by
in the case at bar, where the vendors or co-owners of petitioner stated under oath the buyer, are easily divined. The seller of an undivided interest is in the best
in the deeds of sale that notice of sale had been given to prospective redemptioners position to know who are his co-owners that under the law must be notified of the
in accordance with Art. 1623 of the Civil Code. "A sworn statement or clause in a sale. Also, the notice by the seller removes all doubts as to fact of the sale, its
deed of sale to the effect that a written notice of sale was given to possible perfection, and its validity, the notice being a reaffirmation thereof; so that that
redemptioners or co-owners might be used to determine whether an offer to redeem party notified need not entertain doubt that the seller may still contest the
was made on or out of time, or whether there was substantial compliance with the alienation. This assurance would not exist if the notice should be given by the
requirement of said Art. 1623."[14] buyer."

In Etcuban, notice to the co-owners of the sale of the share of one of them was In the case at bar, the plaintiffs have not been furnished any written notice of sale
given by the vendees through their counterclaim in the action for legal redemption. or a copy thereof by Eufemia Omole, the vendor. Said plaintiffs right to exercise
Despite the apparent meaning of Art. 1623, it was held in that case that it was "of the legal right of preemption or redemption, given to a co-owner when any one of
no moment" that the notice of sale was given not by the vendor but by the vendees. the other co-owners sells his share in the thing owned in common to a third person,
"So long as the [co-owner] is informed in writing of the sale and the particulars as provided for in Article 1623 of the Civil Code, has not yet accrued.
thereof, the 30 days for redemption start running, and the redemptioner has no
There was thus a return to the doctrine laid down in Butte. That ruling is sound. In the present case, as previously discussed, receipt by petitioner of summons in
In the first place, reversion to the ruling in Butte is proper. Art. 1623 of the Civil Civil Case No. 15510 on August 5, 1992 amounted to actual knowledge of the sale
Code is clear in requiring that the written notification should come from the vendor from which the 30-day period of redemption commenced to run. Petitioner had
or prospective vendor, not from any other person. There is, therefore, no room for until September 4, 1992 within which to exercise her right of legal redemption, but
construction. Indeed, the principal difference between Art. 1524 of the former Civil on August 12, 1992 she deposited the P10,000.00 redemption price. As petitioners
Code and Art. 1623 of the present one is that the former did not specify who must exercise of said right was timely, the same should be given effect. Miso
give the notice, whereas the present one expressly says the notice must be given
by the vendor. Effect must be given to this change in statutory language. Manikan WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is GRANTED and the decision
of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and the Regional Trial Court, Branch 122,
In the second place, it makes sense to require that the notice required in Art. 1623 Caloocan City is ordered to effect petitioners exercise of her right of legal
be given by the vendor and by nobody else. As explained by this Court through redemption in Civil Case No. C-17055. Sppedjo
Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Butte, the vendor of an undivided interest is in the best
position to know who are his co-owners who under the law must be notified of the SO ORDERED.
sale. It is likewise the notification from the seller, not from anyone else, which can
remove all doubts as to the fact of the sale, its perfection, and its validity, for in a
contract of sale, the seller is in the best position to confirm whether consent to the
essential obligation of selling the property and transferring ownership thereof to
the vendee has been given. Maniks

Now, it is clear that by not immediately notifying the co-owner, a vendor can delay
or even effectively prevent the meaningful exercise of the right of redemption. In
the present case, for instance, the sale took place in 1986, but it was kept secret
until 1992 when vendee (herein respondent) needed to notify petitioner about the
sale to demand 1/5 rentals from the property sold. Compared to serious prejudice
to petitioners right of legal redemption, the only adverse effect to vendor Adela Blas
and respondent-vendee is that the sale could not be registered. It is non-binding,
only insofar as third persons are concerned.[17] It is, therefore, unjust when the
subject sale has already been established before both lower courts and now, before
this Court, to further delay petitioners exercise of her right of legal redemption by
requiring that notice be given by the vendor before petitioner can exercise her right.
For this reason, we rule that the receipt by petitioner of summons in Civil Case No.
15510 on August 5, 1992 constitutes actual knowledge on the basis of which
petitioner may now exercise her right of redemption within 30 days from finality of
this decision. Manikx

Our ruling is not without precedent. In Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[18]


we dispensed with the need for written notification considering that the
redemptioners lived on the same lot on which the purchaser lived and were thus
deemed to have actual knowledge of the sales. We stated that the 30-day period of
redemption started, not from the date of the sales in 1963 and 1964, but sometime
between those years and 1976, when the first complaint for redemption was
actually filed. For 13 years, however, none of the co-heirs moved to redeem the
property. We thus ruled that the right of redemption had already been extinguished
because the period for its exercise had already expired. Nexold
HIRD DIVISION Q: It appears, Mr. Acabal, that you have signed a document of sale with the
[G.R. No. 148376. March 31, 2005] defendant Leonardo Acabal on April 19, 1990, please tell the court whether you
have really agreed to sell this property to the defendant on or before April 19, 1990?
LEONARDO ACABAL and RAMON NICOLAS, petitioners, vs. VILLANER
ACABAL, EDUARDO ACABAL, SOLOMON ACABAL, GRACE ACABAL, MELBA A: We had some agreement but not about the selling of this property.
ACABAL, EVELYN ACABAL, ARMIN ACABAL, RAMIL ACABAL, and BYRON
ACABAL, respondents. Q: What was your agreement with the defendant Leonardo Acabal?
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.: A: Our agreement [was] that he will just rent.[14]

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the February 15, 2001 xxx
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals reversing that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Dumaguete City, Branch 35.[2] Q: Now, please tell the court how were you able to sign this document on April 19,
1990?
In dispute is the exact nature of the document[3] which respondent Villaner Acabal
(Villaner) executed in favor of his godson-nephew-petitioner Leonardo Acabal A: I do not know why I signed that, that is why I am puzzled.
(Leonardo) on April 19, 1990.
Q: Why, did you not read the contents of this document?
Villaners parents, Alejandro Acabal and Felicidad Balasabas, owned a parcel of
land situated in Barrio Tanglad, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, containing an area of A: I have not read that. I only happened to read the title of the Lease Contract.
18.15 hectares more or less, described in Tax Declaration No. 15856.[4] By a Deed
of Absolute Sale dated July 6, 1971,[5] his parents transferred for P2,000.00 Q: And do you recall who were the witnesses of the document which you signed in
ownership of the said land to him, who was then married to Justiniana Lipajan.[6] favor of Leonardo Acabal?

Sometime after the foregoing transfer, it appears that Villaner became a widower. A: Employees of Judge Villegas of Bais City.

Subsequently, he executed on April 19, 1990 a deed[7] conveying the same Q: Did you see them sign that document?
property[8] in favor of Leonardo.
A: Yes, sir.
Villaner was later to claim that while the April 19, 1990 document he executed
now appears to be a Deed of Absolute Sale purportedly witnessed by a Bais City Q: These signatures appearing in this document marked as Exhibit C for the
trial court clerk Carmelo Cadalin and his wife Lacorte, what he signed was a plaintiff and Exhibit 1 for the defendant, please examine over (sic) these signatures
document captioned Lease Contract[9] (modeled after a July 1976 lease if these were the signatures of these witnesses who signed this document?
agreement[10] he had previously executed with previous lessee, Maria Luisa
Montenegro[11]) wherein he leased for 3 years the property to Leonardo at A: These are not the signatures of the two women.
P1,000.00 per hectare[12] and which was witnessed by two women employees of
one Judge Villegas of Bais City. Q: And after signing this document on April 19, 1990, did you appear before a
notary public to have this notarized?
Villaner thus filed on October 11, 1993 a complaint[13] before the Dumaguete RTC
against Leonardo and Ramon Nicolas to whom Leonardo in turn conveyed the A: No, I went home to San Carlos.[15]
property, for annulment of the deeds of sale.
xxx
At the witness stand, Villaner declared:
Q: According to this document, you sell (sic) this property at P10,000.00, did you
sell this property to Leonardo Acabal?
A: No, sir. A: What really (sic) I have signed was the document of lease contract.

Q: How about after April 19, 1990, did you receive this amount from Leonardo Q: Now, can you explain to the Honorable Court why it so happened that on April
Acabal? 19, you were able to sign a deed of sale?

A: No, sir.[16] A: What I can see now is that perhaps those copies of the deed of sale were placed
by Mr. Cadalin under the documents which I signed the lease contract. But why is
xxx it that it has already a deed of sale when what I have signed was only the lease of
contract or the contract of lease.
Q: Now you said that on May 25, 1990, Leonardo Acabal did not pay the amount
that he promised to you, what did you do of (sic) his refusal to pay that amount? Q: Now, Mr. Cadalin also stated before this court that he handed over to you this
Deed of Sale marked as Exhibit C and according to him you read this document,
A: I went to Mr. [Carmelo] Mellie Cadalin because he was the one who prepared what can you say to this statement?
the papers and to ask Leonardo Acabal why he will not comply with our agreement.
A: Yes, there was a document that he gave me to read it (sic)but it was a contract
Q: By the way, who is this Mellie Cadalin? of lease.

A: Mellie Cadalin is also working in the sala of Judge Villegas. Q: How sure are you that what you signed on April 19, 1990 was really a contract
of lease and not a contract of sale?
Q: Who requested Mellie Cadalin to prepare this document?
A: Because when I signed the contract of lease the witnesses that witnessed my
A: Maybe it was Leonardo Acabal. signing the document were the employees of Judge Villegas and then I am now
surprised why in the deed of sale which I purportedly signed are witnessed by
Q: By the way, when for the first time did you talk to Leonardo Acabal regarding Carmelo Cadalin and his wife Lacorte.[18] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
your agreement to lease this property to him?
On the other hand, Leonardo asserts that what Villaner executed was a Deed of
A: March 14, 1990, in San Carlos. Absolute Sale for a consideration of P10,000.00 which he had already paid,[19]
and as he had become the absolute owner of the property, he validly transferred it
Q: And what document did you give to him in order that that document will be to Ramon Nicolas on May 19, 1990.[20]
prepared?
Carmelo Cadalin who admittedly prepared the deed of absolute sale and who
A: I have given (sic) some papers and contract of lease that I have signed to (sic) appears as a witness, along with his wife, to the execution of the document
Mrs. Montenegro.[17] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) corroborated Leonardos claim:

xxx Q: Mr. Cadalin, do you know the plaintiff Villaner Acabal?

Q: Now, Carmelo Cadalin [Mellie] also testified before this court that in fact he A: Yes, I know.[21]
identified the document marked as Exhibit C for the plaintiff that what you
executed on April 19, 1990 was a deed of sale and not a contract of lease, what xxx
can you say to that statement?
Q: And I would like to ask you Mr. witness why do you know Villaner Acabal?
A: That is a lie.
A: At the time that he went to our house together with Leonardo Acabal he
Q: And whats the truth then? requested me to prepare a deed of sale as regards to a sale of the property.[22]
xxx Q: After Villaner Acabal signed the document, what did Villaner Acabal do?

Q: And after they requested you to prepare a document of sale, what did you do? A: He was given the payment by Leonardo Acabal.[25]

A: At first I refused to [do] it because I have so many works to do, but then they xxx
insisted so I prepared the deed.
Q: Aside from the document, deed of absolute sale, that you mentioned earlier that
Q: After you prepared the document, what did you do? you prepared for Villaner Acabal and Leonardo Acabal, what other documents, if
any, did you prepare for them?
A: After I prepared it I gave it to him so that he could read the same.
A: Affidavit of non-tenancy and aggregate area.[26] (Emphasis and underscoring
Q: When you say him, whom do you refer to? supplied)

A: Villaner Acabal. The complaint was later amended[27] to implead Villaners eight children as party
plaintiffs, they being heirs of his deceased wife.
Q: And did Villaner Acabal read the document you prepared?
By Decision of August 8, 1996, the trial court found for the therein defendants-
A: Yes, he read it. herein petitioners Leonardo and Ramon Nicolas and accordingly dismissed the
complaint.
Q: And after reading it what did Villaner Acabal do?
Villaner et al. thereupon brought the case on appeal to the Court of Appeals which
A: He signed the document. reversed the trial court, it holding that the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by
Villaner in favor of Leonardo was simulated and fictitious.[28]
Q: Showing to you a document which is marked Exhibit C for the plaintiff and
Exhibit 1 for the defendants, please tell the Honorable Court what relation this Hence, Leonardo and Ramon Nicolas present petition for review on certiorari,[29]
document has to the document which you described earlier? anchored on the following assignments of error:

COURT INTERPRETER: I.

Witness is confronted with the said document earlier marked as Exhibit C for the THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED
prosecution and Exhibit 1 for the defense. THAT RESPONDENT VILLANER ACABAL WAS DECEIVED INTO SIGNING THE
DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE WHEN THE LATTER KNOWINGLY, FREELY AND
A: Yes, this is the one.[23] VOLUNTARILY EXECUTED THE SAME IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER LEONARDO
ACABAL.
xxx
II.
Q: Also stated in the document is the phrase Signed in the presence of and there
is a number and then two signatures, could you please examine the document and THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE CONSIDERATION
say whether these signatures are familiar to you? OF THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE IN THE AMOUNT OF TEN THOUSAND PESOS
(P10,0000.00) WAS UNUSUALLY LOW AND INADEQUATE, ESPECIALLY TAKING
A: Yes, number one is my signature and number 2 is the signature of my wife as INTO ACCOUNT THE LOCATION OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY.
witness.[24]
III.
xxx
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO CONSIDER WHY On the merits, this Court rules in petitioners favor.
RESPONDENT VILLANER ACABAL ONLY QUESTIONED THE POSSESSION AND
OWNERSHIP OF PETITIONER RAMON NICOLAS IN COURT AFTER THE LATTER It is a basic rule in evidence that the burden of proof lies on the party who makes
WAS IN OPEN, CONTINUOUS AND PEACEFUL POSSESSION OF THE SUBJECT the allegations[32] ei incumbit probatio, qui dicit, non qui negat; cum per rerum
PROPERTY FOR ALMOST THREE (3) YEARS. naturam factum negantis probatio nulla sit.[33] If he claims a right granted by law,
he must prove it by competent evidence, relying on the strength of his own evidence
IV. and not upon the weakness of that of his opponent.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN LAW WHEN IT More specifically, allegations of a defect in or lack of valid consent to a contract by
FAILED TO DECLARE PETITIONER RAMON NICOLAS AS A BUYER IN GOOD reason of fraud or undue influence are never presumed but must be established
FAITH AS THE LATTER TOOK THE NECESSARY STEPS AN ORDINARY AND not by mere preponderance of evidence but by clear and convincing evidence.[34]
PRUDENT MAN WOULD HAVE TAKEN BEFORE BUYING THE QUESTIONED For the circumstances evidencing fraud and misrepresentation are as varied as the
PROPERTY. people who perpetrate it in each case, assuming different shapes and forms and
may be committed in as many different ways.[35]
V.
In the case at bar, it was incumbent on the plaintiff-herein respondent Villaner to
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENT prove that he was deceived into executing the Deed of Absolute Sale. Except for his
VILLANER ACABAL WHEN THE LATTER DID NOT PRESENT A SINGLE WITNESS bare allegation that the transaction was one of lease, he failed to adduce evidence
TO TESTIFY ON THE ALLEGED CONTRACT OF LEASE WHICH HE ALLEGEDLY in support thereof. His conjecture that perhaps those copies of the deed of sale
SIGNED AND WITNESSED BY THE EMPLOYEES OF JUDGE VILLEGAS. were placed by Mr. Cadalin under the documents which I signed the contract of
lease,[36] must fail, for facts not conjectures decide cases.
VI.
Attempting to seek corroboration of his account, Villaner presented Atty. Vicente
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN LAW WHEN IT Real who notarized the document. While on direct examination, Atty. Real virtually
RULED THAT RULE 8, SECTION 8 OF THE 1987 (sic) RULE (sic) OF CIVIL corroborated Villaners claim that he did not bring the document to him for
PROCEDURE IS NOT APPLICABLE IN THE CASE AT BAR, CONTRARY TO THE notarization,[37] on cross-examination, Atty. Real conceded that it was impossible
RULING OF THE LOWER COURT. to remember every person who would ask him to notarize documents:

VII. Q: And in the course of your notarization, can you remember each and every face
that come (sic) to you for notarization?
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT ORDERED PETITIONERS TO PAY
RESPONDENTS JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY BY WAY OF RENTAL THE SUM OF A: No, it is impossible.
P10,000.00 PER YEAR FROM 1990 UP TO THE TIME THEY VACATE THE
PREMISES.[30] Q: In the case of Villaner Acabal which you have his document notarized (sic) in
1990, can you remember his face when he came to you?
Procedurally, petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred when it failed to
apply Section 8, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court, respondent Villaner having failed to A: No.
deny under oath the genuineness and due execution of the April 19, 1990 Deed of
Absolute Sale. Q: And can you also say, if a person who came to you having a document to be
notarized and if he will appear again after a month, can you remember whether he
Petitioners contention does not persuade. The failure to deny the genuineness and was the one who came to you?
due execution of an actionable document does not preclude a party from arguing
against it by evidence of fraud, mistake, compromise, payment, statute of A: Not so much because everyday there are many people who appear with
limitations, estoppel, and want of consideration.[31] documents to be notarized,
Q: So, it is safe to say that if Villaner Acabal came to you on April 25 or rather
April 16, 1990 andhave (sic) his document notarized if he comes back in, say May d) no part of the land in question is plain or flat, contrary to claim of the plaintiff
25, can you still remember if he was the one who came to you? that almost 10 hectares of the land in question is plain or flat;

A: I cannot be sure but at least, there are times I can remember persons because e) some areas, eastward of and adjacent of the land in question (mistakenly to be
he seems to be close to me already. owned by the defendant Nicolas) were planted to sugar cane by the owners
Kadusales;
Q: Is this Villaner close to you?
f) the road going to the land in question (as claimed to be the road) is no longer
A: Because he has been frequenting the house/asking for a copy of the document. passable because it has been abandoned and not maintained by anyone, thus it
makes everything impossible for anybody to get and haul the sugar cane from the
Q: So, he became close to you after you notarized the document? area;

A: Yes.[38] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) g) the Commissioner has discovered some stockpiles of abandoned harvested sugar
canes left to rot, along the side of the road, undelivered to the milling site because
On Villaners claim that two women employees of Judge Villegas signed as of the difficulty in bringing up trucks to the scene of the harvest;
witnesses to the deed[39] but that the signatures appearing thereon are not those
of said witnesses,[40] the same must be discredited in light of his unexplained h) the sugarcanes presently planted on the land in question at the time of the
failure to present such alleged women employee-witnesses. ocular inspection were three (3) feet in height and their structural built was thin
or lean;
In another vein, Villaner zeroes in on the purchase price of the property P10,000.00
which to him was unusually low if the transaction were one of sale. To substantiate i) Most of the part of the 18 hectares is not planted or cultivated because the same
his claim, Villaner presented Tax Declarations covering the property for the years is too rocky and not suitable for planting to sugarcane.[53]
1971,[41] 1974,[42] 1977,[43] 1980,[44] 1983,[45] 1985,[46] as well as a
Declaration of Real Property executed in 1994.[47] Additionally, Ragay reported that one Anatolio Cabusog recently purchased a 6-
hectare property adjoining that of the subject property for only P1,600.00[54] or
It bears noting, however, that Villaner failed to present evidence on the fair market P266.67 per hectare. Given that, had the 18-hectare subject property been sold at
value of the property as of April 19, 1990, the date of execution of the disputed about the same time, it would have fetched the amount of P4,800.00,[55] hence,
deed. Absent any evidence of the fair market value of a land as of the time of its the P10,000.00 purchase price appearing in the questioned April 19, 1990
sale, it cannot be concluded that the price at which it was sold was inadequate.[48] document is more than reasonable.
Inadequacy of price must be proven because mere speculation or conjecture has
no place in our judicial system.[49] Even, however, on the assumption that the price of P10,000.00 was below the fair
market value of the property in 1990, mere inadequacy of the price per se will not
Victor Ragay, who was appointed by the trial court to conduct an ocular rule out the transaction as one of sale. For the price must be grossly inadequate
inspection[50] of the property and to investigate matters relative to the case,[51] or shocking to the conscience such that the mind revolts at it and such that a
gave an instructive report dated December 3, 1994,[52] the pertinent portions of reasonable man would neither directly nor indirectly be likely to consent to it.[56]
which are hereby reproduced verbatim:
Still in another vein, Villaner submits that Leonardos transfer of the property to
a) Only three (3) to four (4) hectares of the eighteen (18) were planted to sugar cane, Nicolas in a span of one month for a profit of P30,000.00 conclusively reflects
the rest was never cultivated; Leonardos fraudulent intent. This submission is a non sequitur.

b) the soil is reddish and somewhat sandy in composition; As for Villaners argument that the sale of the property to Leonardo and the
subsequent sale thereof to Nicolas are void for being violative of the retention limits
c) the soil contains so much limestones (rocks consisting mainly of calcium imposed by Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive
carbonate); Agrarian Reform Law, the same fails. The pertinent provisions of said law read:
As the above-quoted provisions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law show,
SECTION 6. Retention Limits. Except as otherwise provided in this Act, no person only those private lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture are covered by it.[58]
may retain, directly or indirectly, any public or agricultural land, the size of which As priorly related, Victor Ragay, who was appointed by the trial court to conduct
may vary according to factors governing a viable family-sized farm, such as an ocular inspection of the property, observed in his report that only three (3) to
commodity produced, terrain, infrastructure, and soil fertility as determined by the four (4) hectares were planted with sugarcane while the rest of the property was
Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) created hereunder, but in no case not suitable for planting as the soil was full of limestone.[59] He also remarked
shall retention by the landowner exceed five (5) hectares. Three (3) hectares may that the sugarcanes were only 3 feet in height and very lean,[60] whereas
be awarded to each child of the landowner, subject to the following qualifications: sugarcanes usually grow to a height of 3 to 6 meters (about 8 to 20 feet) and have
(1) that he is at least fifteen (15) years of age; and (2) that he is tilling the land or stems 2 to 5 centimeters (1-2 inches) thick.[61]
directly managing the farm: Provided, That landowners whose lands have been
covered by Presidential Decree No. 27 shall be allowed to keep the areas originally It is thus gathered that the property was not suitable for agricultural purposes. In
retained by them thereunder:[57] Provided further, That original homestead any event, since the area devoted to the planting of sugarcane, hence, suitable for
grantees or direct compulsory heirs who still own the original homestead at the agricultural purposes, comprises only 4 hectares at the most, it is less than the
time of the approval of this Act shall retain the same areas as long as they continue maximum retention limit prescribed by law. There was then no violation of the
to cultivate said homestead. Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

xxx Even assuming that the disposition of the property by Villaner was contrary to law,
he would still have no remedy under the law as he and Leonardo were in pari
Upon the effectivity of this Act, any sale, disposition, lease, management, contract delicto, hence, he is not entitled to afirmative relief one who seeks equity and
or transfer of possession of private lands executed by the original landowner in justice must come to court with clean hands. In pari delicto potior est conditio
violation of this Act shall be null and void: Provided, however, that those executed defendentis.[62]
prior to this Act shall be valid only when registered with the Register of Deeds
within a period of three (3) months after the effectivity of this Act. Thereafter, all The proposition is universal that no action arises, in equity or at law, from an
Registers of Deeds shall inform the DAR within thirty (30) days of any transaction illegal contract; no suit can be maintained for its specific performance, or to recover
involving agricultural lands in excess of five (5) hectares. the property agreed to be sold or delivered, or the money agreed to be paid, or
damages for its violation. The rule has sometimes been laid down as though it were
xxx equally universal, that where the parties are in pari delicto, no affirmative relief of
any kind will be given to one against the other.[63] (Emphasis and underscoring
SECTION 70. Disposition of Private Agricultural Lands. The sale or disposition of supplied)
agricultural lands retained by a land owner as a consequence of Section 6 hereof
shall be valid as long as the total landholdings that shall be owned by the The principle of pari delicto is grounded on two premises: first, that courts should
transferee thereof inclusive of the land to be acquired shall not exceed the not lend their good offices to mediating disputes among wrongdoers;[64] and
landholding ceilings provided for in this Act. second, that denying judicial relief to an admitted wrongdoer is an effective means
of deterring illegality.[65] This doctrine of ancient vintage is not a principle of
Any sale or disposition of agricultural lands after the effectivity of this Act found justice but one of policy as articulated in 1775 by Lord Mansfield in Holman v.
to be contrary to the provisions hereof shall be null and void. Johnson:[66]

Transferees of agricultural lands shall furnish the appropriate Register of Deeds The objection, that a contract is immoral or illegal as between the plaintiff and
and the BARC an affidavit attesting that his total landholdings as a result of the defendant, sounds at all times very ill in the mouth of the defendant. It is not for
said acquisition do not exceed the landholding ceiling. The Register of Deeds shall his sake, however, that the objection is ever allowed; but it is founded in general
not register the transfer of any agricultural land without the submission of his principles of policy, which the defendant has the advantage of, contrary to the real
sworn statement together with proof of service of a copy thereof to the BARC. justice, as between him and the plaintiff, by accident, if I may so say. The principle
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) of public policy is this; ex dolo malo non oritur actio.[67] No court will lend its aid
to a man who founds his cause of action upon an immoral or an illegal act. If, from
the plaintiffs own stating or otherwise, the cause of action appears to arise ex turpi
causa,[68] or the transgression of a positive law of this country, there the court In the case at bar, the property was acquired on July 6, 1971 during Villaners
says he has no right to be assisted. It is upon that ground the court goes; not for marriage with Justiniana Lipajan. It cannot be seriously contended that simply
the sake of the defendant, but because they will not lend their aid to such a because the tax declarations covering the property was solely in the name of
plaintiff. So if the plaintiff and the defendant were to change sides, and the Villaner it is his personal and exclusive property.
defendant was to bring his action against the plaintiff, the latter would then have
the advantage of it; for where both are equally in fault potior est conditio In Bucoy v. Paulino[76] and Mendoza v. Reyes[77] which both apply by analogy,
defendentis.[69] this Court held that registration alone of the properties in the name of the husband
does not destroy the conjugal nature of the properties.[78] What is material is the
Thus, to serve as both a sanction and as a deterrent, the law will not aid either time when the land was acquired by Villaner, and that was during the lawful
party to an illegal agreement and will leave them where it finds them. existence of his marriage to Justiniana.

The principle of pari delicto, however, is not absolute, admitting an exception Since the property was acquired during the existence of the marriage of Villaner
under Article 1416 of the Civil Code. and Justiniana, the presumption under Article 160 of the Civil Code is that it is
the couples conjugal property. The burden is on petitioners then to prove that it is
ART. 1416. When the agreement is not illegal per se but is merely prohibited, and not. This they failed to do.
the prohibition by the law is designed for the protection of the plaintiff, he may, if
public policy is thereby enhanced, recover what he has paid or delivered. The property being conjugal, upon the death of Justiniana Lipajan, the conjugal
partnership was terminated.[79] With the dissolution of the conjugal partnership,
Under this article, recovery for what has been paid or delivered pursuant to an Villaners interest in the conjugal partnership became actual and vested with
inexistent contract is allowed only when the following requisites are met: (1) the respect to an undivided one-half portion.[80] Justiniana's rights to the other half,
contract is not illegal per se but merely prohibited; (2) the prohibition is for the in turn, vested upon her death to her heirs[81] including Villaner who is entitled
protection of the plaintiffs; and (3) if public policy is enhanced thereby.[70] The to the same share as that of each of their eight legitimate children.[82] As a result
exception is unavailing in the instant case, however, since the prohibition is clearly then of the death of Justiniana, a regime of co-ownership arose between Villaner
not for the protection of the plaintiff-landowner but for the beneficiary farmers.[71] and his co-heirs in relation to the property.[83]

In fine, Villaner is estopped from assailing and annulling his own deliberate With respect to Justinianas one-half share in the conjugal partnership which her
acts.[72] heirs inherited, applying the provisions on the law of succession, her eight children
and Villaner each receives one-ninth (1/9) thereof. Having inherited one-ninth
More. Villaner cannot feign ignorance of the law, nor claim that he acted in good (1/9) of his wifes share in the conjugal partnership or one eighteenth (1/18)[84] of
faith, let alone assert that he is less guilty than Leonardo. Under Article 3 of the the entire conjugal partnership and is himself already the owner of one half (1/2)
Civil Code, ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. or nine-eighteenths (9/18), Villaners total interest amounts to ten-eighteenths
(10/18) or five-ninths (5/9).
And now, Villaners co-heirs claim that as co-owners of the property, the Deed of
Absolute Sale executed by Villaner in favor of Leonardo does not bind them as they While Villaner owns five-ninths (5/9) of the disputed property, he could not claim
did not consent to such an undertaking. There is no question that the property is title to any definite portion of the community property until its actual partition by
conjugal. Article 160 of the Civil Code[73] provides: agreement or judicial decree. Prior to partition, all that he has is an ideal or
abstract quota or proportionate share in the property.[85] Villaner, however, as a
ART. 160. All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal co-owner of the property has the right to sell his undivided share thereof. The Civil
partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to Code provides so:
the wife.[74]
ART. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits
The presumption, this Court has held, applies to all properties acquired during and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage
marriage. For the presumption to be invoked, therefore, the property must be it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal
shown to have been acquired during the marriage.[75] rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to
the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the and possessors in joint ownership of the common property claimed.[90] (Italics in
division upon the termination of the co-ownership. the original; citations omitted; underscoring supplied)

Thus, every co-owner has absolute ownership of his undivided interest in the co- This Court is not unmindful of its ruling in Cruz v. Leis[91] where it held:
owned property and is free to alienate, assign or mortgage his interest except as to
purely personal rights. While a co-owner has the right to freely sell and dispose of It is conceded that, as a rule, a co-owner such as Gertrudes could only dispose of
his undivided interest, nevertheless, as a co-owner, he cannot alienate the shares her share in the property owned in common. Article 493 of the Civil Code provides:
of his other co-owners nemo dat qui non habet.[86]
xxx
Villaner, however, sold the entire property without obtaining the consent of the
other co-owners. Following the well-established principle that the binding force of Unfortunately for private respondents, however, the property was registered in TCT
a contract must be recognized as far as it is legally possible to do so quando res No. 43100 solely in the name of Gertrudes Isidro, widow. Where a parcel of land,
non valet ut ago, valeat quantum valere potest[87] the disposition affects only forming part of the undistributed properties of the dissolved conjugal partnership
Villaners share pro indiviso, and the transferee gets only what corresponds to his of gains, is sold by a widow to a purchaser who merely relied on the face of the
grantors share in the partition of the property owned in common.[88] certificate of title thereto, issued solely in the name of the widow, the purchaser
acquires a valid title to the land even as against the heirs of the deceased spouse.
As early as 1923, this Court has ruled that even if a co-owner sells the whole The rationale for this rule is that a person dealing with registered land is not
property as his, the sale will affect only his own share but not those of the other required to go behind the register to determine the condition of the property. He is
co-owners who did not consent to the sale. This is because under the only charged with notice of the burdens on the property which are noted on the
aforementioned codal provision, the sale or other disposition affects only his face of the register or the certificate of title. To require him to do more is to defeat
undivided share and the transferee gets only what would correspond to this one of the primary objects of the Torrens system.[92] (Citation omitted)
grantor in the partition of the thing owned in common. Consequently, by virtue of
the sales made by Rosalia and Gaudencio Bailon which are valid with respect to Cruz, however, is not applicable for the simple reason that in the case at bar the
their proportionate shares, and the subsequent transfers which culminated in the property in dispute is unregistered. The issue of good faith or bad faith of a buyer
sale to private respondent Celestino Afable, the said Afable thereby became a co- is relevant only where the subject of the sale is a registered land but not where the
owner of the disputed parcel of land as correctly held by the lower court since the property is an unregistered land.[93] One who purchases an unregistered land
sales produced the effect of substituting the buyers in the enjoyment thereof. does so at his peril.[94] Nicolas claim of having bought the land in good faith is
thus irrelevant.[95]
From the foregoing, it may be deduced that since a co-owner is entitled to sell his
undivided share, a sale of the entire property by one co-owner without the consent WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals February 15, 2001
of the other co-owners is not null and void. However, only the rights of the co- Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 56148 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and another is
owner-seller are transferred., thereby making the buyer a co-owner of the property. rendered declaring the sale in favor of petitioner Leonardo Acabal and the
subsequent sale in favor of petitioner Ramon Nicolas valid but only insofar as five-
The proper action in cases like this is not for the nullification of the sale or the ninths (5/9) of the subject property is concerned.
recovery of possession of the thing owned in common from the third person who
substituted the co-owner or co-owners who alienated their shares, but the No pronouncement as to costs.
DIVISION of the common property as if it continued to remain in the possession of
the co-owners who possessed and administered it.[89] SO ORDERED.

Thus, it is now settled that the appropriate recourse of co-owners in cases where
their consent were not secured in a sale of the entire property as well as in a sale
merely of the undivided shares of some of the co-owners is an action for PARTITION
under Rule 69 of the Revised Rules of Court. Neither recovery of possession nor
restitution can be granted since the defendant buyers are legitimate proprietors
sale executed by Jesus in favor of Lapinid. It was pointed out by petitioner that as
Republic of the Philippines a consequence of what they discovered, a forcible entry case was filed against
SUPREME COURT Lapinid.
Manila
The petitioners prayed that the deed of sale be declared null and void arguing that
FIRST DIVISION the sale of a definite portion of a co-owned property without notice to the other co-
owners is without force and effect. Further, the complainants prayed for payment
G.R. No. 187987 November 26, 2014 of rental fees amounting to ₱1,000.00 per month from January 2004 or from the
time of deprivation of property in addition to attorney’s fees and litigation expenses.
VICENTE TORRES, JR., CARLOS VELEZ, AND THE HEIRS OF MARIANO
VELEZ, NAMELY: ANITA CHIONG VELEZ, ROBERT OSCAR CHIONG VELEZ, Answering the allegations, Jesus admitted that there was a partition case between
SARAH JEAN CHIONG VELEZ AND TED CHIONG VELEZ, Petitioners, him and the petitioners filed in 1993 involvingseveral parcels of land including the
vs. contested Lot No. 4389. However, he insisted that as early as 6 November 1997, a
LORENZO LAPINID AND JESUS VELEZ, Respondents. motion 8 was signed by the co-owners (including the petitioners) wherein Lot No.
4389 was agreed to be adjudicated to the co-owners belonging to the group of
DECISION Jesus and the other lots be divided to the other co-owners belonging to the group
of Torres. Jesus further alleged that even prior to the partition and motion, several
PEREZ, J.: coowners in his group had already sold their shares to him in various dates of
1985, 1990 and 2004.9 Thus, when the motion was filed and signed by the parties
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on 6 November 1997, his rights asa majority co-owner (73%) of Lot No. 4389
filed by the petitioners assailing the 30 January 2009 Decision2 and 14 May 2009 became consolidated. Jesus averred that it was unnecessary to give notice of the
Resolution3 of the Twentieth Division of the Corni of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. sale as the lot was already adjudicated in his favor. He clarified that he only agreed
02390, affirming the 15 October 2007 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court of with the 2001 Compromise Agreement believing that it only pertained to the
Cebu City (RTC Cebu City) which dismissed the complaint for the declaration of remaining parcels of land excluding Lot No. 4389.10
nullity of deed of sale against respondent Lorenzo Lapinid (Lapinid).
On his part, Lapinid admitted that a deed of sale was entered into between him
The facts as reviewed are the following: and Jesus pertaining to a parcel of land with an area of 3000 square meters.
However, he insistedon the validity of sale since Jesus showed him several deeds
On 4 February 2006, Vicente V. Torres, Jr. (Vicente), Mariano Velez (Mariano)5 of sale making him a majority owner of Lot No. 4389. He further denied that he
and Carlos Velez (petitioners) filed a Complaint6 before RTC Cebu City praying for acquired a specific and definite portion of the questioned property, citing as
the nullification of the sale of real property by respondent Jesus Velez (Jesus) in evidence the deed of sale which does not mention any boundaries or specific
favor of Lapinid; the recovery of possession and ownership of the property; and the portion. He explained that Jesus permitted him to occupy a portion notexceeding
payment of damages. 3000 square meters conditioned on the result of the partition of the co-owners.11

Petitioners alleged in their complaint that they, including Jesus, are co-owners of Regarding the forcible entry case, Jesus and Lapinid admitted that such case was
several parcels of land including the disputed Lot. No. 43897 located at Cogon, filed but the same was already dismissed by the Municipal Trial Court of Carcar,
Carcar, Cebu. Sometime in 1993, Jesus filed an action for partition of the parcels Cebu. In that decision, it was ruled that the buyers, including Lapinid, were buyers
of land against the petitioners and other co-owners before Branch 21 of RTC Cebu in good faith since a proof of ownership was shown to them by Jesus before buying
City. On 13 August 2001, a judgment was rendered based on a compromise the property.12
agreement signed by the parties wherein they agreed that Jesus, Mariano and
Vicente were jointly authorized to sell the said properties and receive the proceeds On 15 October 2007, the trial court dismissed the complaint of petitioners in this
thereof and distribute them to all the co-owners. However, the agreement was later wise: Therefore, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint. At the same time, the Court
amended to exclude Jesus as an authorized seller. Pursuant totheir mandate, the NULLIFIES the site assignment made by Jesus Velez in the Deed of Sale, dated
petitioners inspected the property and discovered that Lapinid was occupying a November 9, 1997, of Lorenzo Lapinid’s portion, the exact location of which still
specific portion of the 3000 square meters of Lot No. 4389 by virtue of a deed of
has to be determined either by agreement of the co-owners or by the Court in
proper proceedings.13 In this case, Jesus can validly alienate his co-owned property in favor of Lapinid,
free from any opposition from the co-owners. Lapinid, as a transferee, validly
Aggrieved, petitioners filed their partial motion for reconsideration which was obtained the same rights of Jesus from the date of the execution of a valid sale.
denied through a 26 November 2007 Order of the court.14 Thereafter, they filed a Absent any proof that the sale was not perfected, the validity of sale subsists. In
notice of appeal on 10 December 2007.15 essence, Lapinid steps into the shoes of Jesus as co-owner of an ideal and
proportionate share in the property held in common.20 Thus, from the perfection
On 30 January 2009, the Court of Appeals affirmed16 the decision of the trial of contract on 9 November 1997, Lapinid eventually became a co-owner of the
court. It validated the sale and ruled that the compromise agreement did not affect property.
the validity of the sale previously executed by Jesus and Lapinid. It likewise
dismissed the claim for rental payments, attorney’s fees and litigation expenses of Even assuming that the petitioners are correct in their allegation that the
the petitioners. disposition in favor of Lapinid before partition was a concrete or definite portion,
the validity of sale still prevails.
Upon appeal before this Court, the petitioners echo the same arguments posited
before the lower courts. They argue that Lapinid, as the successor-in-interest of In a catena of decisions,21 the Supreme Court had repeatedly held that no
Jesus, is also bound by the 2001 judgment based on compromise stating that the individual can claim title to a definite or concrete portion before partition of co-
parcels of land must be sold jointly by Jesus, Mariano and Vicente and the owned property. Each co-owner only possesses a right to sell or alienate his ideal
proceeds of the sale be divided among the coowners. To further strengthen their share after partition. However, in case he disposes his share before partition, such
contention, they advance the argument that since the portion sold was a definite disposition does not make the sale or alienation null and void. What will be affected
and specific portion of a co-owned property, the entire deed of sale must be on the sale is only his proportionate share, subject to the results of the partition.
declared null and void. The co-owners who did not give their consent to the sale stand to be unaffected by
the alienation.22
We deny the petition.
As explained in Spouses Del Campo v. Court of Appeals:23
Admittedly, Jesus sold an area ofland to Lapinid on 9 November 1997. To simplify,
the question now iswhether Jesus, as a co-owner, can validly sell a portion of the We are not unaware of the principle that a co-owner cannot rightfully dispose of a
property heco-owns in favor of another person. We answer in the affirmative. particular portion of a co-owned property prior to partition among all the co-
owners. However, this should not signify that the vendee does not acquire anything
A co-owner has an absolute ownership of his undivided and proindiviso share in atall in case a physically segregated area of the co-owned lot is in fact sold to him.
the co-owned property.17 He has the right to alienate, assign and mortgage it, even Since the coowner/vendor’s undivided interest could properly be the object of the
to the extent of substituting a third person in its enjoyment provided that no contract of sale between the parties, what the vendee obtains by virtue of such a
personal rightswill be affected. This is evident from the provision of the Civil Code: sale are the same rights as the vendor had asco-owner, in an ideal share equivalent
to the consideration given under their transaction. In other words, the vendee steps
Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits into the shoes of the vendor as co-owner and acquires a proportionate abstract
and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage share in the property held in common.24
it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal
rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to Also worth noting is the pronouncement in Lopez v. Vda. De Cuaycong:25
the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the
division upon the termination of the co-ownership. x x x The fact that the agreement in question purported to sell a concrete portionof
the hacienda does not render the sale void, for it is a wellestablished principle that
A co-owner is an owner of the whole and over the whole he exercises the right of the binding force of a contract must be recognized as far as it is legally possible to
dominion, but he is at the same time the owner of a portion which is truly do so. "Quando res non valet ut ago, valeat quantumvalere potest." (When a thing
abstract.18 Hence, his co-owners have no right to enjoin a coowner who intends is of no force as I do it, it shall have as much force as it can have).26 (Italics theirs).
to alienate or substitute his abstract portion or substitute a third person in its
enjoyment.19
Consequently, whether the disposition involves an abstract or concrete portion of Art. 486. Each co-owner may use the thing owned in common, provided he does
the co-owned property, the sale remains validly executed. so in accordance with the purpose for which it is intended and in such a way as
not to injure the interest of the co-ownership or prevent the other co-owners from
The validity of sale being settled,it follows that the subsequent compromise using it according to their rights. The purpose of the co-ownership may be changed
agreement between the other co-owners did not affect the rights of Lapinid as a co- by agreement, express or implied.
owner.
Art. 493. Each co-owner shall havethe full ownership of his part and of the fruits
Records show that on 13 August 2001, a judgment based on compromise and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage
agreement was rendered with regard to the previous partition case involving the it and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal
same parties pertaining to several parcels of land, including the disputed lot. The rightsare involved. But the effect of the alienation or mortgage, with respect to the
words of the compromise state that: COME NOW[,] the parties and to this co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the
Honorable Court, most respectfully state that instead of partitioning the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
properties, subject matter of litigation, that they will just sell the properties covered
by TCT Nos. 25796, 25797 and 25798 of the Register of Deeds of the Province of Affirming these rights, the Court held in Aguilar v. Court of Appeals that:30
Cebu and divide the proceeds among themselves.
x x x Each co-owner of property heldpro indivisoexercises his rights over the whole
That Jesus Velez, Mariano Velez and Vicente Torres, Jr. are currently authorized property and may use and enjoy the same with no other limitation than that he
to sell said properties, receive the proceeds thereof and distribute them to the shall not injure the interests of his co-owners, the reason being that until a division
parties.27 is made, the respective share of each cannot be determined and every co-
ownerexercises, together with his coparticipants joint ownership over the pro
Be that as it may, the compromise agreement failed to defeat the already accrued indiviso property, in addition to his use and enjoyment of the same.31 From the
right of ownership of Lapinid over the share sold by Jesus. As early as 9 November foregoing, it is absurd to rule that Lapinid, who is already a co-owner, be ordered
1997, Lapinid already became a co-owner of the property and thus, vested with all to pay rental payments to his other co-owners. Lapinid’s right of enjoyment over
the rights enjoyed by the other co-owners. The judgment based on the compromise the property owned in common must be respected despite opposition and may
agreement, which is to have the covered properties sold, is valid and effectual notbe limited as long he uses the property to the purpose for which it isintended
provided as it does not affect the proportionate share of the non-consenting party. and he does not injure the interest of the co-ownership.
Accordingly, when the compromise agreement was executed without Lapinid’s
consent, said agreement could not have affected his ideal and undivided share. Finally, we find no error on denial of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses.
Petitioners cannot sell Lapinid’s share absent his consent. Nemo dat quod non
habet – "no one can give what he does not have."28 Pursuant to Article 2208 of the New Civil Code, attorney’s fees and expenses of
litigation, in the absence of stipulation, are awarded only in the following
This Court has ruled in many cases that even if a co-owner sells the whole property instances:
as his, the sale will affect only his own share but not those of the other co-owners
who did not consent tothe sale. This is because the sale or other disposition of a xxxx
co-owner affects only his undivided share and the transferee gets only what would
correspond to his grantor in the partition of the thing owned in common.29 1. When exemplary damages are awarded;

We find unacceptable the argument that Lapinid must pay rental payments to the 2. When the defendant’s act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with
other co-owners.1âwphi1 third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interests;

As previously discussed, Lapinid,from the execution of sale, became a co-owner 3. In criminal cases of malicious prosecution against the plaintiff;
vested with rights to enjoy the property held in common.
4. In case of a clearly unfounded civil action or proceeding against the plaintiff;
Clearly specified in the Civil Code are the following rights:
5. Where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy
the plaintiff’s plainly valid and demandable claim;

6. In actions for legal support;

7. In actions for the recovery of wages of household helpers, laborers and skilled
workers;

8. In actions for indemnity under workmen's compensation and employer's liability


laws;

9. In a separate civil action to recover civil liability arising from a cnme;

10. When at least double judicial costs arc awarded;

11. In any other case where the court deems it just and equitable that attorney's
fees and expenses oflitigation should be recovered.

In all cases, the attorney's fees and expenses of litigation must be reasonable.

Petitioners cite Jesus' act of selling a definite portion to Lapinid as the reason
which forced them to litigate and file their complaint. However, though the Court
may not fault the complainants when they filed a complaint based on their
perceived cause of action, they should have also considered thoroughly that it is
well within the rights of a co-owner to validly sell his ideal share pursuant to law
and jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the Decision and Resolution


of the Court of Appeals dated 30 January 2009 and 14 May 2009 are hereby
AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION entitled to one-half share in the proceeds of the sale of subdivision lots in the said
[G.R. No. 102037. July 17, 1996] lots.

MELANIO IMPERIAL, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and On May 4, 1985, defendant Melanio sold lot No. 1052 covered by OCT No. 27941
GUILLERMO SOLLEZA, ET AL., respondents. in favor of spouses Efren Rosas and Leticia Cabisuelas (Exh. B-1 and H) for the
DECISION sum of P20,000.00. The sale was discovered by plaintiff Rosa Solleza, when she
PANGANIBAN, J.: paid the realty taxes for the two parcels of land at the Lucban Treasure's Office.
Rosa Solleza wanted to confront defendant Melanio Imperial relative to the sale but
Where an heir who owns one-half undivided share of the area of two lots sells one could not find the latter. Attempts were made to amicably settle the problem
of the lots without giving to his co-heir the latter's share of the proceeds, may the between uncle and nephews and nieces, but to no avail. Thus, plaintiffs filled this
latter lay exclusive claim to the remaining lot as his own? case, wherein they prayed that inasmuch as lot No. 1052 had been sold by
defendant Melanio without giving any share of the proceeds, to Adela Imperial, lot
This Court answers the question in resolving the instant petition, which seeks to No. 1091 should be reconveyed or returned to Adela and/or the estate of Adela
set aside the Decision[1] in CA-G.R. CV No. 22557 promulgated September 13, Imperial."
1990 by the respondent Court,[2] reversing/modifying the judgment of the trial
court. After trial on the merits, the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City, Branch 60[3],
rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
The Antecedent Facts
"IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered:
The facts as found by the respondent Court are as follows:
(a) Ordering Melanio Imperial to pay the plaintiffs the sum of P10,000.00 plus 16%
"x x x Lot No. 1052, with an area of 4,630 square meters; and Lot No. 1091, with interest thereon commencing on May 4, 1985 until fully paid;
an area of 4,633 square meters both situated in Barangay Culapi, Lucban, Quezon,
were originally owned by Maria Cuvinar Imperial who died on June 12, 1979. Maria (b) Ordering Melanio Imperial to pay the plaintiffs the sum of P7,500.00 attorney's
Cuvinar Imperial was survived by her two children: Adela and defendant, Melanio. fee and litigation expenses;
Adela died on May 4, 1986 and is survived by plaintiffs Guillermo Solleza, the
husband, and Children Ernesto, Rosa (,) Victoria, Virgilio and Guillermo, Jr., all (c) Ordering Melanio Imperial to pay the plaintiff(s) the sum of P5,000.00 as
surnamed Solleza. exemplary damages; and

On May 1, 1979, Adela and defendant Melanio agreed to register lots No. 1091 and (d) Declaring Melanio Imperial as the true and rightful owner of Lot No. 1091."
1052 in the name of Melanio in order to expedite the titling of the said parcels of (Original Records, pp. 131-132)
land. For this purpose, Adela executed a document captioned 'Kasulatan Ng
Pagtalikod Sa Karapatan' dated May 1, 1979. (Exh. B) whereby she waived her Plaintiffs (private respondents) and defendant (petitioner herein) interposed
rights over lots No. 1091 and 1052. On the same date, defendant Melanio, in turn, separate appeals with the respondent Court, which upheld herein private
executed a document entitled 'Pagwawalang Bisa Sa Pagtalikod Sa Karapatan' respondents and affirmed the finding of the trial court that "the document (Exh.
(Exh. C) declaring that the (earlier) document executed by Adela was a simulated B) executed by Adela Imperial, (was) simulated." Respondent Court quoted the trial
one in order to expedite the registration of the lots in his name. court thus:

By virtue of the document of waiver (Exh. B), defendant Melanio was able to obtain "Defendant Melanio argues that he is the owner of Lot No. 1052 by way of a waiver
OCT No. P-27941 for lot No. 1052; and OCT No. P-26596 for lot No. 1091, in his of the right executed by Adela in a document captioned as 'Pagtalikod sa
name. Karapatan' (Exh. B). Examination of the evidence, however, shows that said
document (Exh. B) was a simulated contract as may be seen in another document
Aside from Exhibit C, defendant Melanio executed another document entitled 'Sa also executed by Adela and Melanio entitled 'Pagwawalang Bisa sa Pagtalikod sa
Sino Mang Dapat Makatalastas Nito' (Exh. E) wherein he acknowledged the one- Karapatan' (see Exhibit C)."
half share of his sister Adela in Lot Nos. 1091 and 1052 and that Adela is also
The appellate Court noted that the purpose of the simulated document was to to give one-half of the proceeds of Adela Imperial or her heirs, the private
facilitate the registration of the two lots in the name of herein petitioner Melanio, respondents in this appeal. Petitioner, on the strength of the reversed findings of
who however breached the trust reposed upon him by his sister Adela. The the trial court, claims that he had already paid Adela Imperial the amounts of
respondent Court agreed that "(b)eyond doubt, therefore, lot Nos. 1052 and 1091 "P4,575.00 on June 16, 1979; P200.00 on November 8, 1979 and another P200.00
were owned in common by defendant-appellee Melanio and Adela Imperial, mother on May 7, 1980 as shown in Exhibits '4', '4-A' and '4-B'". He further alleges that
of plaintiffs-appellants." The respondent Court also ruled that, contrary to the the sum of these amounts represent one-half (1/2) of the price of Lot No. 1091
claim of herein petitioner and contrary to the finding of the trial court Adela during the time the sale was transacted. And if Lot 1091 would be solely owned by
Imperial never sold her 1/2 share of lot 1091 to herein petitioner. Thus, when the private respondents to the exclusion of himself, he would be deprived of his
herein petitioner Melanio appropriated for himself the entire proceeds from the sale share of the inheritance which would be unjust and contrary to law.[4]
of lot 1052, he was "deemed to have waived his share in lot 1091 in favor of Adela
Imperial and/or her heirs x x x Lot No. 1091 should now be solely owned by (the The Court's Ruling
herein private respondents)," otherwise "Melanio would be enriching himself at the
expense of his sister, Adela" and/or her heirs. Thus, the respondent Court ruled: Petitioner would like this Court to re-appreciate and re-evaluate the evidence all
over again and make findings contrary to those of the respondent Court. Generally
"WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and speaking, factual findings of the Court of Appeals are final and conclusive on the
judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs: Supreme Court.[5] In this particular case, we see no cogent or sufficient reason to
depart from the above rule absent any clear showing that the findings complained
1. Declaring lot No. 1091, covered by Original Certificate of Title No. P-26596, is of are totally devoid of support in the record, or that they are so glaringly erroneous
owned by plaintiffs as heirs of Adela Imperial; as to constitute serious abuse of discretion. Such findings must stand, for this
Court is not expected or required to examine or contrast the oral and documentary
2. Ordering the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. P-26596 in the name evidence submitted by the parties.[6]
of defendant Melanio Imperial and in lieu thereof, another title be issued in the
name of plaintiffs as the heirs of Adela Imperial; The disputed portion of the Decision reads thus:

3. Ordering Melanio Imperial to pay plaintiffs the sum of P10,000.00 as moral "However, the trial court said that Adela Imperial 'sold her share to Melanio on lot
damages and the sum of P5,000.00 as exemplary damages; No. 1091.' This conclusion was based on three receipts (Exhs. 4, 4-A and 4-B)
which show that on June 16, 1979, November 8, 1979, and May 7, 1980,
4. Ordering Melanio Imperial to pay plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 as litigation defendant-appellee Melanio Imperial paid to Adela Imperial the amounts of
expenses and attorney's fees." P4,575.00, P200.00 and P200.00, respectively. The court a quo erred. The last
receipt is dated May 7, 1980 (Exh. 4-B). Adela Imperial died on May 4, 1986, six
The Issues years thereafter. No deed of sale was executed by Adela Imperial in favor of
defendant-appellee Melanio Imperial ceding lot 1091. Furthermore, the receipts do
On appeal, petitioner alleged the following generalities: not show it is in payment of Adela Imperial's one-half share of the lot. If this was
the intention of the parties, then the purchase price and the balance after each
"1. The respondent Court of Appeals abused its discretion in deciding this case not payment should have been reflected in the receipts. The only logical conclusion is
in accordance with the evidence on record, amounting to excess of jurisdiction, that the amounts remitted by defendant-appellee Melanio were the shares of Adela
thereby departing from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings. Imperial for the sale of subdivision lots in lot No. 1091. This is so since the
document executed by defendant-appellee Melanio Imperial entitled 'Sa Sino Mang
2. The respondent Court of Appeals decided questions of substance in a way not Dapat Makatalastas Nito' (Exh. E) states in part:
in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of the Supreme Court and the
petitioner have (sic) no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of 'x x x aking pinatutunay na bukod sa ang aking kapatid na si Adela Imperial ay
law." may 1/2 bahagi sa naulit na mga lupain na nababanggit sa naulit na documento,
ay 1/2 rin siya sa lahat na maaring mapagbilhan ng mga lote ng naulit na
Simply put, petitioner challenges the findings of fact of the respondent Court that pangagari matapos na ito ay mapalagyan ng subdivision.'
he appropriated for himself the entire proceeds from the sale of Lot 1052 and failed
which in English means: 'I hereby attest that aside from the 1/2 share of my sister It is clear to this Court that the amounts covered by the receipts, considered in
Adela Imperial in the lots mentioned in the aforementioned documents, she will relation to the agreement between petitioner and Adela Imperial Solleza entitled
also receive 1/2 share in the proceeds of the sale in the said lots, after they are "Sa Sino Mang Dapat Makatalastas Nito", constituted the latter's share in the
subdivided.' proceeds of the sales of subdivision lots which were part of Lot No. 1091.[7] For if
the sale of Lot 1091 to the petitioner was what was indeed intended by the parties,
Therefore, Adela Imperial never sold her 1/2 share of lot 1091 to defendant Melanio then it is most unusual and surprising as the Court of Appeals correctly observed
Imperial, contrary to the finding of the court a quo." that the petitioner did not ask for the execution of a Deed of Sale ceding to him the
share of Adela in Lot No. 1091 within the period of six (6) years from the date of
Still, in order to satisfy ourselves, we examined the three receipts aforesaid, which the last receipt, considering that Adela died on May 4, 1986. Only when he was
are critical to petitioner's contention, and we agree with respondent Court that the sued for annulment of OCT No. 26596 covering Lot No. 1091 did he raise as a
amounts mentioned therein as having been paid by herein petitioner to Adela defense the allegation that he had already acquired the share of his sister in said
Imperial were not intended to be part of the purchase price of Lot 1091. The three lot.
receipts bear the following contents:
Inasmuch as the terms of the agreement between Adela and Melanio provide for
1. Receipt dated June 16, 1979: one-half undivided share for petitioner over Lots 1091 and 1052, and the petitioner
in effect waived his rights over one-half of the remaining Lot 1091 when he sold
"Tinanggap ko sa aking kapatid na si Melanio Imperial ang halagang Four and appropriated solely as his own the entire proceeds from the sale of Lot 1052,
thousand five hundred seventy five (P4,575.00) bilang kabahagi sa lote no. 1091 law[8] and equity dictate that Lot 1091[9] should now belong to the estate of the
sa Lucban, Quezon. late Adela Imperial Solleza, represented by her heirs, private respondents in this
case.[10]
Received by
On the other hand, the award of moral and exemplary damages is appropriate in
(sgd.) this case, for the petitioner acted in bad faith[11] and breached the trust reposed
in him by virtue of his contract with his late sister. This was clearly manifested
Adela Imperial" when he sold Lot 1052 without informing Adela or her heirs and giving a share of
the sales proceeds to them. Additionally, he even avoided talking to private
2. Receipt dated November 8, 1979: respondent Rosa Solleza (now Arquiza) when she tried to ask why he sold Lot 1052
in spite of the co-ownership existing with between her mother and the petitioner
"(sgd.) Adela Imperial over said lot[12] Additionally, attorney's fees are also recoverable when exemplary
damages are awarded.[13]
Received from Brother Melanio Imperial the sum of Two hundred P200.00 as
partial for lot 1091." WHEREFORE, premises considered, the herein petition is hereby DENIED for lack
of merit, no reversible error having been committed by respondent Court. The
3. Receipt dated May 7, 1980: assailed Decision is AFFIRMED in toto. No costs.

"Tinanggap ko kay Melanio Imperial ang halagang dalawang daang (P200.00) SO ORDERED.
bilang kabahagi sa lote 1091.

Received by

(sgd.)

Adela I. Solleza"
Republic of the Philippines For failure to file an answer, Partenio was declared in default, and respondent
SUPREME COURT presented her evidence ex parte.
Manila
On December 26, 1993, the trial court promulgated its Decision,5 the dispositive
THIRD DIVISION portion of which reads as follows:

G.R. No. 149313 January 22, 2008 WHEREFORE, viewed from all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered as
follows:
JULITA ROMBAUA PANGANIBAN, PAQUITO ROMBAUA, RUPERTO
ROMBAUA, TERESITA ROMBAUA TELAJE and LEONOR ROMBAUA OPIANA, (1) The defendant is hereby ordered to execute a deed of absolute sale over the ½
petitioners, portion (front) of the realty subject matter of this case in favor of the plaintiff and
vs. to surrender the possession thereof to the plaintiff. Failure of the defendant to do
JULITA S. OAMIL, respondent. so, then the City Assessor of Olongapo is hereby directed to effect the transfer of
all rights/interest on the one-half (1/2) front portion of the said realty in the name
DECISION of the plaintiff, upon the finality of this decision;

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: (2) Plaintiff, however, is ordered to pay the amount of EIGHT THOUSAND PESOS
(P8,000.00) representing the balance of the interests due on the amount of
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Decision1 of the Court of P200,000.00, delinquent for one (1) year computed at 12% per annum;
Appeals dated March 2, 2001 in CA-G.R. CV No. 57557, which affirmed in toto the
Order dated October 23, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City, Branch (3) Defendant is, likewise, hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff attorney’s fees in the
73, and the Resolution2 dated July 10, 2001 denying the motion for amount of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00).
reconsideration.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the City Assessor of Olongapo City.
The facts as culled from the records are as follows:
SO ORDERED.6
On April 26, 1993 Julita Oamil, herein respondent, filed a complaint for specific
performance with damages3 with the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City, Note that the trial court did not specify which portion of the property – the 21st St.
praying that Partenio Rombaua (Partenio) be ordered to execute a final deed of sale portion or the Canda St. portion – should be deeded to respondent as buyer of
over the parcel of land which was the subject of a prior "Agreement to Sell" executed Partenio’s conjugal share.
by and between them on May 17, 1990. The property which is alleged to be covered
by the said "Agreement to Sell" consists of 204.5 square meters of land located at Partenio failed to appeal, and the decision became final and executory on February
#11 21st St., East Bajac-Bajac, Olongapo City, and is claimed by respondent Oamil 4, 1994. Entry of judgment was made on February 8, 1994, and a writ of execution
to be Partenio’s conjugal share in a parcel of commercial land (the subject property) was issued on February 15, 1994 and served upon Partenio on February 21, 1994.
with an aggregate area of 409 square meters acquired by Partenio and his deceased The writ was served as well upon the City Assessor of Olongapo City, who caused
first wife Juliana4 during their marriage. the transfer of the Tax Declaration covering the 21st St. portion in respondent’s
name.
There are two portions of the subject property in contention: one consisting of
204.5 square meters facing 21st Street (the 21st St. portion), and another In June 1994, petitioners filed a verified petition for relief from the decision of the
consisting of 204.5 square meters facing Canda Street (the Canda St. portion). trial court, grounded on the following: 1) that Partenio’s conjugal share in the
Petitioners and their father Partenio are acknowledged co-owners of the subject property, and that of petitioners as well, are being litigated in a judicial partition
property to the following extent: one-half to Partenio as his conjugal share, and proceeding7 (the partition case) which is pending with the Court of Appeals, hence
one-sixth each of the remaining half to petitioners and Partenio as the surviving the trial court may not yet render a decision disposing of a definite area of the
heirs of Juliana. subject property in respondent’s favor; and, (2) that petitioners were unjustly
deprived of the opportunity to protect and defend their interest in court because, which was opposed by respondent, citing, among others, an Order dated April 18,
notwithstanding that they are indispensable parties to the case (being co-owners 1994 issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO
of the subject property), they were not impleaded in Civil Case No. 140-0-93. of Olongapo) which includes a finding that Gan had transferred his rights and
interest in the subject property to one Chua Young Bing.
In lieu of a hearing, the parties were directed to submit their respective position
papers. Respondent, meanwhile, moved to dismiss the petition, claiming that the In another Order dated October 23, 1997,9 the trial court denied Gan’s motion for
stated grounds for relief are not included in the enumeration under Section 2, Rule reconsideration, as well as the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration of the
38 of the Rules of Court. Petitioners opposed the motion. January 13, 1995 order denying the petition for relief. In said order, the court
made reference to the decision in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86, which by then
In an Order dated January 13, 1995, the trial court denied the petition for relief had become final and executory.10 The trial court likewise substantially modified
because the decision in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 had become final and executory. its Decision dated December 26, 1993, by awarding specifically the 21st St. portion
It held that only indispensable parties to the case may participate in the of the property to Partenio as his conjugal share, despite the pronouncement in
proceedings thereof, and since petitioners may not be considered as indispensable Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 which awards the Canda St. portion to him.
parties because the subject matter of the proceedings involves Partenio’s conjugal
share in the property, they are precluded from filing a petition for relief from the From the foregoing October 23, 1997 order, the petitioners and Gan interposed
court’s judgment. their separate appeals to the Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, respondent filed a
motion for execution pending appeal, which was denied on the ground that there
Petitioners moved for reconsideration insisting that they are indispensable parties exist no special or compelling reasons to allow it.
in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 because as co-owners of the subject property by virtue
of succession to the rights of their deceased mother, they possess an interest that On March 2, 2001, the appellate court rendered the herein assailed Decision,
must be protected. Instead of resolving the motion, the trial court, with the which affirmed in toto the appealed October 23, 1997 Order of the trial court.
concurrence of the petitioners and the respondent, deferred the proceedings, to
await the result of a pending appeal with the Court of Appeals of the decision in The appellate court sustained the trial court’s ruling that Partenio’s conjugal share
Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86,8 the partition case, where the trial court, in its in the subject property consists of the 21st St. portion, thereby disregarding the
decision, awarded specifically the Canda St. portion to Partenio as his conjugal prior final and executory decision in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 which
share. declares that Partenio is entitled to the Canda St. portion. The appellate court
based the award of the 21st St. portion to respondent on the ground that
In the meantime, or sometime in 1995, a Motion for leave of court to file a petitioners have always acknowledged their father Partenio’s "acts of ownership"
Complaint in Intervention was filed by Sotero Gan (Gan), who claims to be the over the 21st St. portion, thus signifying their consent and thereby barring them
actual and rightful owner of Partenio’s conjugal share. Gan claims to have from questioning the award.
purchased Partenio’s conjugal share in the property, and in return, the latter on
November 29, 1990 executed a deed of waiver and quitclaim of his possessory Respondents moved for reconsideration but it was denied.
rights. Gan likewise claims that the tax declaration covering the portion of the
property had been transferred in his name. He thus seeks the dismissal of Civil Petitioners are now before us via the present petition, raising the sole issue of
Case No. 140-0-93 and the reinstatement of his name on the tax declaration which whether petitioners can intervene in the proceedings in Civil Case
by then had been placed in respondent’s name.
No. 140-0-93 in order to protect their rights as co-owners of the subject property.
The parties submitted their respective oppositions to Gan’s motion, the core of
their argument being that with the finality of the decision in the case, intervention We resolve to GRANT the petition.
was no longer proper, and that Gan’s cause of action, if any, should be litigated in
a separate proceeding. Under a co-ownership, the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to
different persons. During the existence of the co-ownership, no individual can
The trial court, in an Order dated January 22, 1996, denied Gan’s motion for claim title to any definite portion of the community property until the partition
intervention for being filed out of time, considering that the decision of the court thereof; and prior to the partition, all that the co-owner has is an ideal or abstract
had become final and executory in February 1994. Gan moved for reconsideration quota or proportionate share in the entire land or thing.11 Before partition in a co-
ownership, every co-owner has the absolute ownership of his undivided interest in 0-86, which became final and executory, should put an end to the co-ownership
the common property. The co-owner is free to alienate, assign or mortgage this between Partenio and the respondents, and the award made to each co-owner of
undivided interest, except as to purely personal rights. The effect of any such specific portions of the property as their share in the co-ownership should be
transfer is limited to the portion which may be awarded to him upon the partition respected.
of the property.12
Since the issue of each of the co-owners’ specific portion in the aggregate property
Under Article 497 of the Civil Code, in the event of a division or partition of property has been laid to rest in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86, the final and executory
owned in common, assignees of one or more of the co-owners may take part in the decision in said proceeding should be conclusive on the issue of which specific
division of the thing owned in common and object to its being effected without their portion of the property became the subject matter of the sale between Partenio and
concurrence. But they cannot impugn any partition already executed, unless there the respondent; that is, that Partenio, as declared owner of the Canda St. portion,
has been fraud, or in case it was made notwithstanding a formal opposition could have transferred to respondent only that part of the property and not the
presented to prevent it, without prejudice to the right of the debtor or assignor to 21st St. portion. Although Partenio was free to sell or transfer his undivided
maintain its validity. interest to the respondent, the effect of such transfer is limited to the portion which
may be awarded to him upon the partition of the property.
The decision in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86, which is an action for judicial
partition of the subject property, determines what Partenio, and ultimately, It was likewise error for the appellate court to have considered the alleged acts of
respondent, as his successor-in-interest, is entitled to in Civil Case No. 140-0-93. ownership exercised upon the 21st St. portion by Partenio as weighing heavily
As Partenio’s successor-in-interest to the property, respondent could not acquire against the decreed partition in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86. The
any superior right in the property than what Partenio is entitled to or could transfer determination of this issue is beyond the ambit of the trial court in Civil Case No.
or alienate after partition. In a contract of sale of co-owned property, what the 140-0-93. As far as it was concerned, it could only award to the respondent, if
vendee obtains by virtue of such a sale are the same rights as the vendor had as proper, whatever specific portion Partenio is found to be entitled to in the event of
co-owner, and the vendee merely steps into the shoes of the vendor as co-owner.13 a partition, in accordance with Article 493 of the Civil Code and the procedure
outlined in the Rules of Court. It could not, in an ordinary proceeding for specific
As early as May 17, 1990, when respondent and Partenio executed the "Agreement performance with damages, subject the property to a partial division or partition
to Sell", the former knew that the property she was purchasing was conjugal without the knowledge and participation of the other co-owners, and while a
property owned in common by Partenio and the heirs of his deceased wife.14 And special civil action for partition was simultaneously pending in another court.
while Civil Case No. 140-0-93 (the specific performance case) was pending,
respondent was apprised of the pendency of Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 (the The court in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 is not a partition court but one litigating an
partition case). Yet, respondent did not intervene, nor did she take part, nor enter ordinary civil case, and all evidence of alleged acts of ownership by one co-owner
any formal opposition – as assignee of Partenio’s conjugal share in the property – should have been presented in the partition case, there to be threshed out in order
in said partition proceedings. She did not exercise the rights granted her under that the partition court may arrive at a just division of the property owned in
Article 497 of the Civil Code. Instead, when the court in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 common; it is not for the trial court in the specific performance case to properly
decided to suspend the proceedings and hold the same in abeyance while the appreciate. Being a court trying an ordinary civil suit, the court in Civil Case No.
appeal in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 remained unresolved, the respondent 140-0-93 had no jurisdiction to act as a partition court. Trial courts trying an
unconditionally agreed to its temporary abatement. In other words, she chose to ordinary action cannot resolve to perform acts pertaining to a special proceeding
sit back and await the resolution thereof. because it is subject to specific prescribed rules.15

Consequently, when the decision in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 became final That the trial court suspended the proceedings in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 to make
and executory without the respondent having questioned the same in any manner way for the resolution of Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 was an indication that
whatsoever, by appeal or otherwise, the division of property decreed therein may it intended to abide by whatever would be decreed in the latter case. For,
no longer be impugned by her. understandably, the resolution of Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 will settle the
issue in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 with respect to which specific portion of the
Thus said, the trial court in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 could not award the 21st St. property constitutes the subject matter of the specific performance suit and which
portion to Partenio, since the court in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 specifically would, in any case, be adjudicated to either of the two – the defendant co-owner
awarded the Canda St. portion to him. The decision in Special Civil Action No. 340- and seller Partenio or the plaintiff buyer Oamil, the herein respondent. Yet in the
end, the trial court ultimately disregarded what had been finally adjudicated and 340-0-86 and its original decision, which does not award a definite portion of the
settled in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86, and instead it took a position that was disputed property to Partenio, precisely because, as a court litigating an ordinary
entirely diametrically opposed to it. civil suit, it is not authorized to partition the subject property but only to determine
the rights and obligations of the parties in respect to Partenio’s undivided share in
It was likewise irregular for the respondent to have obtained a certificate of title the commonly owned property. As a result of this mistake, the petitioners are
over specific property which has not been partitioned, especially where she entitled to relief.
concedes awareness of the existing co-ownership which has not been terminated,
and recognizes her status as mere successor-in-interest to Partenio. The spring Finally, with respect to Gan’s intervention, we affirm the appellate court’s finding
may not rise higher than its source. that the same is no longer proper considering that the decision in Civil Case No.
140-0-93 had become final and executory. Gan moved to intervene only in 1995,
In sum, the trial court and the Court of Appeals, by disregarding the final and when the decision became final and executory in February 1994. Certainly,
executory judgment in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86, certainly ignored the intervention, being merely collateral or ancillary to the principal action, may no
principle of conclusiveness of judgments, which states that – longer be allowed in a case already terminated by final judgment.17 Moreover,
since Gan did not appeal the herein assailed decision of the appellate court, then
[A] fact or question which was in issue in a former suit and was there judicially the same, as against him, has become final and executory.
passed upon and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, is conclusively
settled by the judgment therein as far as the parties to that action and persons in WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
privity with them are concerned and cannot be again litigated in any future action dated March 2, 2001 in CA-G.R. CV No. 57557 and the Resolution dated July 10,
between such parties or their privies, in the same court or any other court of 2001 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, with the exception that the denial of the
concurrent jurisdiction on either the same or different cause of action, while the intervenor Sotero Gan’s motion for intervention is AFFIRMED.
judgment remains unreversed by proper authority. It has been held that in order
that a judgment in one action can be conclusive as to a particular matter in The Order dated October 23, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City in
another action between the same parties or their privies, it is essential that the Civil Case No. 140-0-93 is hereby DECLARED of no effect. In all other respects,
issue be identical. If a particular point or question is in issue in the second action, the Decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 dated December 26, 1993
and the judgment will depend on the determination of that particular point or is AFFIRMED. The said court is moreover ORDERED to abide by the
question, a former judgment between the same parties or their privies will be final pronouncement in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 with respect to Partenio
and conclusive in the second if that same point or question was in issue and Rombaua’s conjugal share in the disputed property.
adjudicated in the first suit (Nabus vs. Court of Appeals, 193 SCRA 732 [1991]).
Identity of cause of action is not required but merely identity of issues.16 SO ORDERED.

The ruling in Special Civil Action No. 340-0-86 – that the Canda St. portion shall
go to Partenio – became the law of the case and continues to be binding between
the parties as well as their successors-in-interest, the decision in said case having
become final and executory. Hence, the binding effect and enforceability of that
dictum can no longer be relitigated anew in Civil Case No. 140-0-93 since said
issue had been resolved and finally laid to rest in the partition case, by
conclusiveness of judgment, if not by the principle of res judicata. It may not be
reversed, modified or altered in any manner by any court.

As a result of the trial court’s refusal to abide by the decision in Special Civil Action
No. 340-0-86, the rights of the petitioners have been unnecessarily transgressed,
thereby giving them the right to seek relief in court in order to annul the October
23, 1997 Order of the trial court which substantially and wrongly modified its
original decision in Civil Case No. 140-0-93. It was clear mistake for the trial court
to have gone against the final and executory decision in Special Civil Action No.