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G.R. No. 68053. May 7, 1990.

* patrimonial rights and duties that, as observed by Victorio Polacco, has characterized the history of these
LAURA ALVAREZ, FLORA ALVAREZ and RAYMUNDO ALVAREZ, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE institutions. From the Roman concept of a relation from person to person, the obligation has evolved into
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and JESUS YANES, ESTELITA YANES, ANTONIO YANES, a relation from patrimony to patrimony, with the persons occupying only a representative position,
ROSARIO YANES, and ILUMINADO YANES, respondents. barring those rare cases where the obligation is strictly personal, i.e., is contracted intuitu personae, in
consideration of its performance by a specific person and by no other. x x x”
Civil Procedure; Judgments; Decision in Civil Case No. 5022 having long become final and executory is
the law of the case between the parties thereto.—As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, it is FERNAN, C.J.:
powerless and for that matter so is the Supreme Court, to review the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of: (a) the decision of the Fourth Civil Cases
Division of the Intermediate Appellate Court dated August 31, 1983 in AC-G.R. CV No. 56626 entitled
ordering Alvarez to reconvey the lots in dispute to herein private respondents. Said decision had long
"Jesus Yanes et al. v. Dr. Rodolfo Siason et al." affirming the decision dated July 8, 1974 of the Court of
become final and executory and with the possible exception of Dr. Siason, who was not a party to said First Instance of Negros Occidental insofar as it ordered the petitioners to pay jointly and severally the
case, the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 is the law of the case between the parties thereto. It ended when private respondents the sum of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of
Alvarez or his heirs failed to appeal the decision against them. the cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental and reversing the subject decision insofar as it awarded
Same; Same; Same; It is axiomatic that when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a the sums of P2,000.00, P5,000.00 and P2,000.00 as actual damages, moral damages and attorney's fees,
court of competent jurisdiction, so long as it remains unreversed, it should be conclusive upon the parties respectively and (b) the resolution of said appellate court dated May 30, 1984, denying the motion for
and those in privity with them in law or estate.—Thus, it is axiomatic that when a right or fact has been reconsideration of its decision.
The real properties involved are two parcels of land identified as Lot 773-A and Lot 773-B which were
judicially tried and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, so long as it remains unreversed, it
originally known as Lot 773 of the cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental. Lot 773, with an area of
should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privity with them in law or estate. As consistently 156,549 square meters, was registered in the name of the heirs of Aniceto Yanes under Original
ruled by this Court, every litigation must come to an end. Access to the court is guaranteed. But there Certificate of Title No. RO-4858 (8804) issued on October 9, 1917 by the Register of Deeds of Occidental
must be a limit to it. Negros (Exh. A).
Same; Same; Reconveyance; The sole remedy of the landowner whose property has been wrongfully or Aniceto Yanes was survived by his children, Rufino, Felipe and Teodora. Herein private respondents,
erroneously registered in another’s name is to bring an ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice for Estelita, Iluminado and Jesus, are the children of Rufino who died in 1962 while the other private
reconveyance or if the property has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, for respondents, Antonio and Rosario Yanes, are children of Felipe. Teodora was survived by her child, Jovita
(Jovito) Alib. 1 It is not clear why the latter is not included as a party in this case.
damages.—As to the propriety of the present case, it has long been established that the sole remedy of
Aniceto left his children Lots 773 and 823. Teodora cultivated only three hectares of Lot 823 as she could
the landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another’s name is to not attend to the other portions of the two lots which had a total area of around twenty-four hectares.
bring an ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice for reconveyance or, if the property has passed The record does not show whether the children of Felipe also cultivated some portions of the lots but it is
into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, for damages. established that Rufino and his children left the province to settle in other places as a result of the
“It is one thing to protect an innocent third party; it is entirely a different matter and one devoid of outbreak of World War II. According to Estelita, from the "Japanese time up to peace time", they did not
justification if deceit would be rewarded by allowing the perpetrator to enjoy the fruits of his nefarious visit the parcels of land in question but "after liberation", when her brother went there to get their share
of the sugar produced therein, he was informed that Fortunato Santiago, Fuentebella (Puentevella) and
deed. As clearly revealed by the undeviating line of decisions coming from this Court, such an undesirable
Alvarez were in possession of Lot 773. 2
eventuality is precisely sought to be guarded against.” It is on record that on May 19, 1938, Fortunato D. Santiago was issued Transfer Certificate of Title No. RF
Civil Law; Succession; Contention that the liability arising from the sale of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B 2694 (29797) covering Lot 773-A with an area of 37,818 square meters. 3 TCT No. RF 2694 describes Lot
made by Rosendo Alvarez to Dr. Rodolfo Siason should be the sole liability of the late Rosendo Alvarez or 773-A as a portion of Lot 773 of the cadastral survey of Murcia and as originally registered under OCT No.
of his estate after his death is untenable.—Petitioners further contend that the liability arising from the 8804.
sale of said Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B made by Rosendo Alvarez to Dr. Rodolfo Siason should be the sole The bigger portion of Lot 773 with an area of 118,831 square meters was also registered in the name of
liability of the late Rosendo Alvarez or of his estate, after his death. Such contention is untenable for it Fortunato D. Santiago on September 6, 1938 Under TCT No. RT-2695 (28192 ). 4 Said transfer certificate
of title also contains a certification to the effect that Lot 773-B was originally registered under OCT No.
overlooks the doctrine obtaining in this jurisdiction on the general transmissibility of the rights and
8804.
obligations of the deceased to his legitimate children and heirs. On May 30, 1955, Santiago sold Lots 773-A and 773-B to Monico B. Fuentebella, Jr. in consideration of the
Same; Same; Same; The general rule is that a party’s contractual rights and obligations are transmissible sum of P7,000.00. 5 Consequently, on February 20, 1956, TCT Nos. T-19291 and T-19292 were issued in
to the successors.—“The binding effect of contracts upon the heirs of the deceased party is not altered by Fuentebella's name. 6
the provision of our Rules of Court that money debts of a deceased must be liquidated and paid from his After Fuentebella's death and during the settlement of his estate, the administratrix thereof (Arsenia R.
estate before the residue is distributed among said heirs (Rule 89). The reason is that whatever payment Vda. de Fuentebella, his wife) filed in Special Proceedings No. 4373 in the Court of First Instance of
is thus made from the state is ultimately a payment by the heirs or distributees, since the amount of the Negros Occidental, a motion requesting authority to sell Lots 773-A and 773-B. 7 By virtue of a court order
granting said motion, 8 on March 24, 1958, Arsenia Vda. de Fuentebella sold said lots for P6,000.00 to
paid claim in fact diminishes or reduces the shares that the heirs would have been entitled to receive.
Rosendo Alvarez. 9 Hence, on April 1, 1958 TCT Nos. T-23165 and T-23166 covering Lots 773-A and 773-B
Under our law, therefore, the general rule is that a party’s contractual rights and obligations are were respectively issued to Rosendo Alvarez. 10
transmissible to the successors. The rule is a consequence of the progressive ‘depersonalization’ of
Two years later or on May 26, 1960, Teodora Yanes and the children of her brother Rufino, namely, dated October 20, 1965;" Siason's delivery of possession of Lot 773 to the Yaneses; and if, delivery
Estelita, Iluminado and Jesus, filed in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental a complaint against thereof could not be effected, or, if the issuance of a new title could not be made, that the Alvarez and
Fortunato Santiago, Arsenia Vda. de Fuentebella, Alvarez and the Register of Deeds of Negros Siason jointly and severally pay the Yaneses the sum of P45,000.00. They also prayed that Siason render
Occidental for the "return" of the ownership and possession of Lots 773 and 823. They also prayed that an an accounting of the fruits of Lot 773 from November 13, 1961 until the filing of the complaint; and that
accounting of the produce of the land from 1944 up to the filing of the complaint be made by the the defendants jointly and severally pay the Yaneses moral damages of P20,000.00 and exemplary
defendants, that after court approval of said accounting, the share or money equivalent due the plaintiffs damages of P10,000.00 plus attorney's fees of P4, 000.00. 25
be delivered to them, and that defendants be ordered to pay plaintiffs P500.00 as damages in the form of In his answer to the complaint, Siason alleged that the validity of his titles to Lots 773-A and 773-B, having
attorney's fees. 11 been passed upon by the court in its order of September 4, 1965, had become res judicata and the
During the pendency in court of said case or on November 13, 1961, Alvarez sold Lots 773-A, 773-B and Yaneses were estopped from questioning said order. 26 On their part, the Alvarez stated in their answer
another lot for P25,000.00 to Dr. Rodolfo Siason. 12 Accordingly, TCT Nos. 30919 and 30920 were issued that the Yaneses' cause of action had been "barred by res judicata, statute of limitation and estoppel." 27
to Siason, 13 who thereafter, declared the two lots in his name for assessment purposes. 14 In its decision of July 8, 1974, the lower court found that Rodolfo Siason, who purchased the properties in
Meanwhile, on November 6, 1962, Jesus Yanes, in his own behalf and in behalf of the other plaintiffs, and question thru an agent as he was then in Mexico pursuing further medical studies, was a buyer in good
assisted by their counsel, filed a manifestation in Civil Case No. 5022 stating that the therein plaintiffs faith for a valuable consideration. Although the Yaneses were negligent in their failure to place a notice
"renounce, forfeit and quitclaims (sic) any claim, monetary or otherwise, against the defendant Arsenia of lis pendens "before the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental in order to protect their rights over the
Vda. de Fuentebella in connection with the above-entitled case." 15 property in question" in Civil Case No. 5022, equity demanded that they recover the actual value of the
On October 11, 1963, a decision was rendered by the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental in Civil land because the sale thereof executed between Alvarez and Siason was without court approval. 28 The
Case No. 5022, the dispositive portion of which reads: dispositive portion of the decision states:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered, ordering the defendant Rosendo Alvarez to IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATION, judgment is hereby rendered in
reconvey to the plaintiffs lots Nos. 773 and 823 of the Cadastral Survey of Murcia, the following manner:
Negros Occidental, now covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-23165 and A. The case against the defendant Dr. Rodolfo Siason and the Register of Deeds
T-23166 in the name of said defendant, and thereafter to deliver the possession of are (sic) hereby dismmissed,
said lots to the plaintiffs. No special pronouncement as to costs. B. The defendants, Laura, Flora and Raymundo, all surnamed Alvarez being the
SO ORDERED. 16 legitimate children of the deceased Rosendo Alvarez are hereby ordered to pay
It will be noted that the above-mentioned manifestation of Jesus Yanes was not mentioned in the jointly and severally the plaintiffs the sum of P20,000.00 representing the actual
aforesaid decision. value of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of Murcia Cadastre, Negros Occidental; the sum
However, execution of said decision proved unsuccessful with respect to Lot 773. In his return of service of P2,000.00 as actual damages suffered by the plaintiff; the sum of P5,000.00
dated October 20, 1965, the sheriff stated that he discovered that Lot 773 had been subdivided into Lots representing moral damages and the sum of P2.000 as attorney's fees, all with
773-A and 773-B; that they were "in the name" of Rodolfo Siason who had purchased them from Alvarez, legal rate of interest from date of the filing of this complaint up to final payment.
and that Lot 773 could not be delivered to the plaintiffs as Siason was "not a party per writ of C. The cross-claim filed by the defendant Dr. Rodolfo Siason against the
execution." 17 defendants, Laura, Flora and Raymundo, all surnamed Alvarez is hereby dismissed.
The execution of the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 having met a hindrance, herein private respondents D. Defendants, Laura, Flora and Raymundo, all surnamed Alvarez are hereby
(the Yaneses) filed on July 31, 1965, in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental a petition for the ordered to pay the costs of this suit.
issuance of a new certificate of title and for a declaration of nullity of TCT Nos. T-23165 and T-23166 SO ORDERED. 29
issued to Rosendo Alvarez. 18 Thereafter, the court required Rodolfo Siason to produce the certificates of The Alvarez appealed to the then Intermediate Appellate Court which in its decision of August 31,
title covering Lots 773 and 823. 1983 30 affirmed the lower court's decision "insofar as it ordered defendants-appellants to pay jointly and
Expectedly, Siason filed a manifestation stating that he purchased Lots 773-A, 773-B and 658, not Lots 773 severally the plaintiffs-appellees the sum of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of Lots Nos. 773-A
and 823, "in good faith and for a valuable consideration without any knowledge of any lien or and 773-B of the cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental, and is reversed insofar as it awarded the
encumbrances against said properties"; that the decision in the cadastral proceeding 19 could not be sums of P2,000.00, P5,000.00 and P2,000.00 as actual damages, moral damages and attorney's fees,
enforced against him as he was not a party thereto; and that the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 could respectively." 31 The dispositive portion of said decision reads:
neither be enforced against him not only because he was not a party-litigant therein but also because it WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed insofar as it ordered
had long become final and executory. 20 Finding said manifestation to be well-founded, the cadastral defendants-appellants to pay jointly and severally the plaintiffs- appellees the sum
court, in its order of September 4, 1965, nullified its previous order requiring Siason to surrender the of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of the
certificates of title mentioned therein. 21 cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental, and is reversed insofar as it awarded
In 1968, the Yaneses filed an ex-parte motion for the issuance of an alias writ of execution in Civil Case the sums of P2,000.00, P5,000.00 and P2,000.00 as actual damages, moral
No. 5022. Siason opposed it. 22 In its order of September 28, 1968 in Civil Case No. 5022, the lower court, damages and attorney's fees, respectively. No costs.
noting that the Yaneses had instituted another action for the recovery of the land in question, ruled that SO ORDERED. 32
at the judgment therein could not be enforced against Siason as he was not a party in the case. 23 Finding no cogent reason to grant appellants motion for reconsideration, said appellate court denied the
The action filed by the Yaneses on February 21, 1968 was for recovery of real property with same.
damages. 24 Named defendants therein were Dr. Rodolfo Siason, Laura Alvarez, Flora Alvarez, Hence, the instant petition. ln their memorandum petitioners raised the following issues:
Raymundo Alvarez and the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental. The Yaneses prayed for the 1. Whethere or not the defense of prescription and estoppel had been timely and
cancellation of TCT Nos. T-19291 and 19292 issued to Siason (sic) for being null and void; the issuance of properly invoked and raised by the petitioners in the lower court.
a new certificate of title in the name of the Yaneses "in accordance with the sheriffs return of service
2. Whether or not the cause and/or causes of action of the private respondents, if The issue on the right to the properties in litigation having been finally adjudicated in Civil Case No. 5022
ever there are any, as alleged in their complaint dated February 21, 1968 which has in favor of private respondents, it cannot now be reopened in the instant case on the pretext that the
been docketed in the trial court as Civil Case No. 8474 supra, are forever barred by defenses of prescription and estoppel have not been properly considered by the lower court. Petitioners
statute of limitation and/or prescription of action and estoppel. could have appealed in the former case but they did not. They have therefore foreclosed their rights, if
3. Whether or not the late Rosendo Alvarez, a defendant in Civil Case No. 5022, any, and they cannot now be heard to complain in another case in order to defeat the enforcement of a
supra and father of the petitioners become a privy and/or party to the waiver judgment which has longing become final and executory.
(Exhibit 4-defendant Siason) in Civil Case No. 8474, supra where the private Petitioners further contend that the liability arising from the sale of Lots No. 773-A and 773-B made by
respondents had unqualifiedly and absolutely waived, renounced and quitclaimed Rosendo Alvarez to Dr. Rodolfo Siason should be the sole liability of the late Rosendo Alvarez or of his
all their alleged rights and interests, if ever there is any, on Lots Nos. 773-A and 773- estate, after his death.
B of Murcia Cadastre as appearing in their written manifestation dated November Such contention is untenable for it overlooks the doctrine obtaining in this jurisdiction on the general
6, 1962 (Exhibits "4" Siason) which had not been controverted or even impliedly or transmissibility of the rights and obligations of the deceased to his legitimate children and heirs. Thus,
indirectly denied by them. the pertinent provisions of the Civil Code state:
4. Whether or not the liability or liabilities of Rosendo Alvarez arising from the sale Art. 774. Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights
of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of Murcia Cadastre to Dr. Rodolfo Siason, if ever there and obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance, of a person are
is any, could be legally passed or transmitted by operations (sic) of law to the transmitted through his death to another or others either by his will or by operation
petitioners without violation of law and due process . 33 of law.
The petition is devoid of merit. Art. 776. The inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a
As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, it is powerless and for that matter so is the Supreme Court, to person which are not extinguished by his death.
review the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 ordering Alvarez to reconvey the lots in dispute to herein Art. 1311. Contract stake effect only between the parties, their assigns and heirs
private respondents. Said decision had long become final and executory and with the possible exception except in case where the rights and obligations arising from the contract are not
of Dr. Siason, who was not a party to said case, the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 is the law of the case transmissible by their nature, or by stipulation or by provision of law. The heir is not
between the parties thereto. It ended when Alvarez or his heirs failed to appeal the decision against liable beyond the value of the property received from the decedent.
them. 34 As explained by this Court through Associate Justice J.B.L. Reyes in the case of Estate of Hemady vs.
Thus, it is axiomatic that when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of Luzon Surety Co., Inc. 41
competent jurisdiction, so long as it remains unreversed, it should be conclusive upon the parties and The binding effect of contracts upon the heirs of the deceased party is not altered
those in privity with them in law or estate. 35 As consistently ruled by this Court, every litigation must by the provision of our Rules of Court that money debts of a deceased must be
come to an end. Access to the court is guaranteed. But there must be a limit to it. Once a litigant's right liquidated and paid from his estate before the residue is distributed among said
has been adjudicated in a valid final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an heirs (Rule 89). The reason is that whatever payment is thus made from the state is
unbridled license to return for another try. The prevailing party should not be harassed by subsequent ultimately a payment by the heirs or distributees, since the amount of the paid
suits. For, if endless litigation were to be allowed, unscrupulous litigations will multiply in number to the claim in fact diminishes or reduces the shares that the heirs would have been
detriment of the administration of justice. 36 entitled to receive.
There is no dispute that the rights of the Yaneses to the properties in question have been finally Under our law, therefore. the general rule is that a party's contractual rights and
adjudicated in Civil Case No. 5022. As found by the lower court, from the uncontroverted evidence obligations are transmissible to the successors.
presented, the Yaneses have been illegally deprived of ownership and possession of the lots in The rule is a consequence of the progressive "depersonalization" of patrimonial
question. 37 In fact, Civil Case No. 8474 now under review, arose from the failure to execute Civil Case No. rights and duties that, as observed by Victorio Polacco has characterized the
5022, as subject lots can no longer be reconveyed to private respondents Yaneses, the same having been history of these institutions. From the Roman concept of a relation from person to
sold during the pendency of the case by the petitioners' father to Dr. Siason who did not know about the person, the obligation has evolved into a relation from patrimony to patrimony
controversy, there being no lis pendens annotated on the titles. Hence, it was also settled beyond with the persons occupying only a representative position, barring those rare cases
question that Dr. Siason is a purchaser in good faith. where the obligation is strictly personal, i.e., is contracted intuitu personae, in
Under the circumstances, the trial court did not annul the sale executed by Alvarez in favor of Dr. Siason consideration of its performance by a specific person and by no other.
on November 11, 1961 but in fact sustained it. The trial court ordered the heirs of Rosendo Alvarez who xxx xxx xxx
lost in Civil Case No. 5022 to pay the plaintiffs (private respondents herein) the amount of P20,000.00 Petitioners being the heirs of the late Rosendo Alvarez, they cannot escape the legal consequences of
representing the actual value of the subdivided lots in dispute. It did not order defendant Siason to pay their father's transaction, which gave rise to the present claim for damages. That petitioners did not
said amount. 38 inherit the property involved herein is of no moment because by legal fiction, the monetary equivalent
As to the propriety of the present case, it has long been established that the sole remedy of the thereof devolved into the mass of their father's hereditary estate, and we have ruled that the hereditary
landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another's name is to bring an assets are always liable in their totality for the payment of the debts of the estate. 42
ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice for reconveyance or, if the property has passed into the It must, however, be made clear that petitioners are liable only to the extent of the value of their
hands of an innocent purchaser for value, for damages. 39 "It is one thing to protect an innocent third inheritance. With this clarification and considering petitioners' admission that there are other properties
party; it is entirely a different matter and one devoid of justification if deceit would be rewarded by left by the deceased which are sufficient to cover the amount adjudged in favor of private respondents,
allowing the perpetrator to enjoy the fruits of his nefarious decided As clearly revealed by the we see no cogent reason to disturb the findings and conclusions of the Court of Appeals.
undeviating line of decisions coming from this Court, such an undesirable eventuality is precisely sought WHEREFORE, subject to the clarification herein above stated, the assailed decision of the Court of
to be guarded against." 40 Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED. of Ricardo, as inheritance from Teodorica, because the Deed did not recite that she was deceased at the
time it was executed (Rollo, pp. 67-68).
G.R. No. 77029. August 30, 1990.* Same; Same; Same; Same; Civil Law; Succession; No legal bar to a successor to dispose his hereditary
BIENVENIDO, ESTELITA, MACARIO, LUIS, ADELAIDE, ENRIQUITA and CLAUDIO, all surnamed, share after death of the decedent.—The hereditary share in a decedents’ estate is transmitted or vested
GEVERO, petitioners,vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and DEL MONTE DEVELOPMENT immediately from the moment of the death of the ‘causante’ or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the
CORPORATION, respondents. Philippines, Art. 777), and there is no legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity)
Attorneys; Notary Public; Presumption of regularity of a public document executed before a notary disposing of his hereditary share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such share is
public.—As to petitioners’ claim that the signature of Ricardo in the 1952 deed of sale in favor of Lancero not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate (De Borja v. Vda. de Borja, 46 SCRA 577
was forged without Ricardo’s knowledge of such fact (Rollo, p. 71) it will be observed that the deed of sale [1972]).
in question was executed with all the legal formalities of a public document. The 1952 deed was duly Same; Same; Same; Same; Land Registration; Purchaser in good faith of a registered land may rely on
acknowledged by both parties before the notary public, yet petitioners did not bother to rebut the legal the certificate of title.—Besides, the property sold is a registered land. It is the act of registration that
presumption of the regularity of the notarized document (Dy v. Sacay, 165 SCRA 473 [1988]); Nuguid v. transfers the ownership of the land sold. (GSIS v. C.A., G.R. No. 42278, January 20, 1989). If the property
C.A., G.R. No. 77423, March 13, 1989). In fact it has long been settled that a public document executed is a registered land, the purchaser in good faith has a right to rely on the certificate of title and is under no
and attested through the intervention of the notary public is evidence of the facts in clear, unequivocal duty to go behind it to look for flaws (Mallorca v. De Ocampo, No. L-26852, March 25, 1970; Unchuan v.
manner therein expressed. It has the presumption of regularity and to contradict all these, evidence must C.A., 161 SCRA 710 [1988]; Nuguid v. C.A., G.R. No. 77427, March 13, 1989).
be clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant (Rebuleda v. I.A.C., 155 SCRA 520-521 [1987]).
Forgery cannot be presumed, it must be proven (Siasat v. IAC, No. 67889, October 10, 1985). Likewise, PARAS, J.:
petitioners allegation of absence of consideration of the deed was not substantiated. Under Art. 1354 of This is a petition for review on certiorari of the March 20, 1988 decision 1 of the then Intermediate
the Civil Code, consideration is presumed unless the contrary is proven. Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) in AC-GR CV No. 69264, entitled Del Monte Development
Same; Evidence; Admission of the former owner of the property,to be binding upon the present owner, Corporation vs. Enrique Ababa, et al., etc. affirming the decision 2 of the then Court of First Instance (now
Regional Trial Court) of Misamis Oriental declaring the plaintiff corporation as the true and absolute
must be made while he was still the owner thereof.—As to petitioners’ contention that Lancero had
owner of that portion of Lot 476 of the Cagayan Cadastre, particularly Lot No. 2476-D of the subdivision
recognized the fatal defect of the 1952 deed when he signed the document in 1968 entitled “Settlement plan (LRC) Psd-80450, containing an area of Seven Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy Eight (7,878) square
to Avoid Litigation” (Rollo, p. 71), it is a basic rule of evidence that the right of a party cannot be meters more or less.
prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another (Sec. 28, Rule 130, Rules of Court). This As found by the Appellate Court, the facts are as follows:
particular rule is embodied in the maxim ‘res inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet.’ Under Section 31, The parcel of land under litigation is Lot No. 2476 of the Subdivision Plan Psd-37365
Rule 130, Rules of Court “where one derives title to property from another, the act, declaration, or containing an area of 20,119 square meters and situated at Gusa, Cagayan de Oro
omission of the latter, while holding the title, in relation to the property is evidence against the former.” City. Said lot was acquired by purchase from the late Luis Lancero on September
15, 1964 as per Deed of Absolute Sale executed in favor of plaintiff and by virtue of
It is however stressed that the admission of the former owner of a property must have been made while
which Transfer Certificate of Title No. 4320 was issued to plaintiff (DELCOR for
he was the owner thereof in order that such admission may be binding upon the present owner (City of brevity). Luis Lancero, in turn acquired the same parcel from Ricardo Gevero on
Manila v. del Rosario, 5 Phil. 227 [1905]; Medel v. Avecilla, 15 Phil. 465 [1910]). Hence, Lanceros’ February 5, 1952 per deed of sale executed by Ricardo Gevero which was duly
declaration or acts of executing the 1968 document have no binding effect on DELCOR, the ownership of annotated as entry No. 1128 at the back of Original Certificate of Title No. 7610
the land having passed to DELCOR in 1964. covering the mother lot identified as Lot No. 2476 in the names of Teodorica
Same; Same; Same; Jurisprudence that an issue, neither averred in the complaint nor raised during the Babangha — 1/2 share and her children: Maria; Restituto, Elena, Ricardo, Eustaquio
trial cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.—Suffice it to say that the other flaws claimed by the and Ursula, all surnamed surnamed Gevero, 1/2 undivided share of the whole area
containing 48,122 square meters.
petitioners which allegedly invalidated the 1952 deed of sale have not been raised before the trial court
Teodorica Babangha died long before World War II and was survived by her six
nor before the appellate court. It is settled jurisprudence that an issue which was neither averred in the children aforementioned. The heirs of Teodorica Babangha on October 17,1966
complaint nor raised during the trial in the court below cannot be raised for the first time on appeal as it executed an Extra-Judicial Settlement and Partition of the estate of Teodorica
would be offensive to the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process. (Matienzo v. Servidad, 107 Babangha, consisting of two lots, among them was lot 2476. By virtue of the extra-
SCRA 276 [1981]; Dela Santa v. C.A., 140 SCRA 44 [1985]; Dihiansan v. C.A., 157 SCRA 434 [1987]; judicial settlement and partition executed by the said heirs of Teodorica Babangha,
Anchuelo v. IAC, 147 SCRA 434 [1987]; Dulos Realty and Development Corporation v. C.A., 157 SCRA Lot 2476-A to Lot 2476-I, inclusive, under subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-80450 duly
approved by the Land Registration Commission, Lot 2476-D, among others, was
[1988]; Kamos v. IAC, G.R. No. 78282, July 5, 1989). Petitioners aver that the 1/2 share of interest of
adjudicated to Ricardo Gevero who was then alive at the time of extra-judicial
Teodorica (mother of Ricardo) in Lot 2476 under OCT No. 7610 was not included in the deed of sale as it settlement and partition in 1966. Plaintiff (private respondent herein) filed an
was intended to limit solely to Ricardos’ proportionate share out of the undivided 1/2 of the area action with the CFI (now RTC) of Misamis Oriental to quiet title and/or annul the
pertaining to the six (6) brothers and sisters listed in the Title and that the Deed did not include the share partition made by the heirs of Teodorica Babangha insofar as the same prejudices
the land which it acquired a portion of lot 2476.
Plaintiff now seeks to quiet title and/or annul the partition made by the heirs of segregation of the 20,119 square meters lot from the mother lot 2476 which brought about the issuance
Teodorica Babangha insofar as the same prejudices the land which it acquired, a of his title T-1183 and to DELCOR's title T4320, both of which were illegally issued; and 8) the area sold as
portion of Lot 2476. Plaintiff proved that before purchasing Lot 2476-A it first per document is 20,649 square meters whereas the segregated area covered by TCT No. T-1183 of
investigated and checked the title of Luis Lancero and found the same to be intact Lancero turned out to be 20,119 square meters (Petitioners Memorandum, pp. 62-78).
in the office of the Register of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City. The same with the As to petitioners' claim that the signature of Ricardo in the 1952 deed of sale in favor of Lancero was
subdivision plan (Exh. "B"), the corresponding technical description (Exh. "P") and forged without Ricardo's knowledge of such fact (Rollo, p. 71) it will be observed that the deed of sale in
the Deed of Sale executed by Ricardo Gevero — all of which were found to be question was executed with all the legal formalities of a public document. The 1952 deed was duly
unquestionable. By reason of all these, plaintiff claims to have bought the land in acknowledged by both parties before the notary public, yet petitioners did not bother to rebut the legal
good faith and for value, occupying the land since the sale and taking over from presumption of the regularity of the notarized document (Dy v. Sacay, 165 SCRA 473 [1988]); Nuguid v.
Lancero's possession until May 1969, when the defendants Abadas forcibly entered C.A., G.R. No. 77423, March 13, 1989). In fact it has long been settled that a public document executed
the property. (Rollo, p. 23) and attested through the intervention of the notary public is evidence of the facts in clear, unequivocal
After trial the court a quo on July 18, 1977 rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads as manner therein expressed. It has the presumption of regularity and to contradict all these, evidence must
follows: be clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant (Rebuleda v. I.A.C., 155 SCRA 520-521 [1987]).
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the Forgery cannot be presumed, it must be proven (Siasat v. IAC, No. 67889, October 10, 1985). Likewise,
plaintiff corporation as the true and absolute owner of that portion of Lot No. 2476 petitioners allegation of absence of consideration of the deed was not substantiated. Under Art. 1354 of
of the Cagayan Cadastre, particularly Lot No. 2476-D of the subdivision plan (LRC) the Civil Code, consideration is presumed unless the contrary is proven.
Psd-80450, containing an area of SEVEN THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED SEVENTY As to petitioners' contention that Lancero had recognized the fatal defect of the 1952 deed when he
EIGHT (7,878) square meters, more or less. The other portions of Lot No. 2476 are signed the document in 1968 entitled "Settlement to Avoid Litigation" (Rollo, p. 71), it is a basic rule of
hereby adjudicated as follows: evidence that the right of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another
Lot No. 2476 – B – to the heirs of Elena Gevero; (Sec. 28. Rule 130, Rules of Court). This particular rule is embodied in the maxim "res inter alios acta alteri
Lot No. 2476 – C – to the heirs of Restituto Gevero; nocere non debet." Under Section 31, Rule 130, Rules of Court "where one derives title to property from
Lot No. 2476 – E – to the defendant spouses Enrique C. Torres and Francisca another, the act, declaration, or omission of the latter, while holding the title, in relation to the property
Aquino; is evidence against the former." It is however stressed that the admission of the former owner of a
Lot No. 2476 – F – to the defendant spouses Eduard Rumohr and Emilia Merida property must have been made while he was the owner thereof in order that such admission may be
Rumohf ; binding upon the present owner (City of Manila v. del Rosario, 5 Phil. 227 [1905]; Medel v. Avecilla, 15
Lot Nos. 2476-H, 2476-I and 2476 — G — to defendant spouses Enrique Abada and Phil. 465 [1910]). Hence, Lanceros' declaration or acts of executing the 1968 document have no binding
Lilia Alvarez Abada. effect on DELCOR, the ownership of the land having passed to DELCOR in 1964.
No adjudication can be made with respect to Lot No. 2476-A considering that the Petitioners' claim that they remained in the property, notwithstanding the alleged sale by Ricardo to
said lot is the subject of a civil case between the Heirs of Maria Gevero on one hand Lancero (Rollo, p. 71) involves a question of fact already raised and passed upon by both the trial and
and the spouses Daniel Borkingkito and Ursula Gevero on the other hand, which appellate courts. Said the Court of Appeals:
case is now pending appeal before the Court of Appeals. No pronouncement as to Contrary to the allegations of the appellants, the trial court found that Luis Lancero
costs, had taken possession of the land upon proper investigation by plaintiff the latter
SO ORDERED. (Decision, Record on Appeal, p. 203; Rollo, pp. 21-22) learned that it was indeed Luis Lancero who was the owner and possessor of Lot
From said decision, defendant heirs of Ricardo Gevero (petitioners herein) appealed to the IAC (now 2476 D. . . . (Decision, C.A., p. 6).
Court of Appeals) which subsequently, on March 20, 1986, affirmed the decision appealed from. As a finding of fact, it is binding upon this Court (De Gola-Sison v. Manalo, 8 SCRA 595 [1963]; Gaduco vs.
Petitioners, on March 31, 1986, filed a motion for reconsideration (Rollo, p. 28) but was denied on April C.A., 14 SCRA 282 [1965]; Ramos v. Pepsi-Cola, 19 SCRA 289 [1967]; Tan v. C.A., 20 SCRA 54 [1967];
21, 1986. Ramirez Tel. Co. v. Bank of America, 33 SCRA 737 [1970]; Lucero v. Loot, 25 SCRA 687 [1968]; Guerrero v.
Hence, the present petition. C.A., 142 SCRA 130 [1986]).
This petition is devoid of merit. Suffice it to say that the other flaws claimed by the petitioners which allegedly invalidated the 1952 deed
Basically, the issues to be resolved in the instant case are: 1) whether or not the deed of sale of sale have not been raised before the trial court nor before the appellate court. It is settled
executed by Ricardo Gevero to Luis Lancero is valid; 2) in the affirmative, whether or not the jurisprudence that an issue which was neither averred in the complaint nor raised during the trial in the
1/2 share of interest of Teodorica Babangha in one of the litigated lots, lot no. 2476 under OCT court below cannot be raised for the first time on appeal as it would be offensive to the basic rules of fair
No. 7610 is included in the deed of sale; and 3) whether or not the private respondents' action play, justice and due process. (Matienzo v. Servidad, 107 SCRA 276 [1981]; Dela Santa v. C.A., 140 SCRA
is barred by laches. 44 [1985]; Dihiansan v. C.A., 157 SCRA 434 [1987]; Anchuelo v. IAC, 147 SCRA 434 [1987]; Dulos Realty
Petitioners maintain that the deed of sale is entirely invalid citing alleged flaws thereto, such as that: 1) and Development Corporation v. C.A., 157 SCRA [1988]; Kamos v. IAC, G.R. No. 78282, July 5, 1989).
the signature of Ricardo was forged without his knowledge of such fact; 2) Lancero had recognized the Petitioners aver that the 1/2 share of interest of Teodorica (mother of Ricardo) in Lot 2476 under OCT No.
fatal defect of the 1952 deed of sale when he signed the document in 1968 entitled "Settlement to Avoid 7610 was not included in the deed of sale as it was intended to limit solely to Ricardos' proportionate
the Litigation"; 3) Ricardo's children remained in the property notwithstanding the sale to Lancero; 4) the share out of the undivided 1/2 of the area pertaining to the six (6) brothers and sisters listed in the Title
designated Lot No. is 2470 instead of the correct number being Lot No. 2476; 5) the deed of sale included and that the Deed did not include the share of Ricardo, as inheritance from Teodorica, because the Deed
the share of Eustaquio Gevero without his authority; 6) T.C.T. No. 1183 of Lancero segregated the area of did not recite that she was deceased at the time it was executed (Rollo, pp. 67-68).
20,119 square meters from the bigger area (OCT No. 7616) without the consent of the other co-owners; The hereditary share in a decedents' estate is transmitted or vested immediately from the moment of the
7) Lancero caused the 1952 Subdivision survey without the consent of the Geveros' to bring about the death of the "causante" or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 777), and there is no
legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity) disposing of his hereditary share HEIRS OF JOSEFINA J. BORJA, HEIRS OF EDUARDO JAUCIAN and HEIRS OF VICENTE JAUCIAN,
immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such share is not determined until the respondents.
subsequent liquidation of the estate (De Borja v. Vda. de Borja, 46 SCRA 577 [1972]). Civil Law; Succession; The rights to a person’s succession are transmitted from the moment of his death
Teodorica Babangha died long before World War II, hence, the rights to the succession were transmitted
and do not vest in his heirs until such time.—The trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in declaring
from the moment of her death. It is therefore incorrect to state that it was only in 1966, the date of
extrajudicial partition, when Ricardo received his share in the lot as inheritance from his mother the private respondents, nephews and nieces of Doña Catalina J. Vda. de Locsin, entitled to inherit the
Teodorica. Thus, when Ricardo sold his share over lot 2476 that share which he inherited from Teodorica properties which she had already disposed of more than ten (10) years before her death. For those
was also included unless expressly excluded in the deed of sale. properties did not form part of her hereditary estate, i.e., “the property and transmissible rights and
Petitioners contend that Ricardo's share from Teodorica was excluded in the sale considering that a obligations existing at the time of (the decedent’s), death and those which have accrued thereto since
paragraph of the aforementioned deed refers merely to the shares of Ricardo and Eustaquio (Rollo, p. 67- the opening of the succession.” The rights to a person’s succession are transmitted from the moment of
68). his death, and do not vest in his heirs until such time. Property which Doña Catalina had transferred or
It is well settled that laws and contracts shall be so construed as to harmonize and give effect to the
conveyed to other persons during her lifetime no longer formed part of her estate at the time of her
different provisions thereof (Reparations Commission v. Northern Lines, Inc., 34 SCRA 203 [1970]), to
ascertain the meaning of the provisions of a contract, its entirety must be taken into account (Ruiz v. death to which her heirs may lay claim.
Sheriff of Manila, 34 SCRA 83 [1970]). The interpretation insisted upon by the petitioners, by citing only Same; Same; Prescription; Trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in not dismissing the action for
one paragraph of the deed of sale, would not only create contradictions but also, render meaningless and annulment and reconveyance on the ground of prescription.—Apart from the foregoing considerations,
set at naught the entire provisions thereof. the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in not dismissing this action for annulment and
Petitioners claim that DELCOR's action is barred by laches considering that the petitioners have reconveyance on the ground of prescription. Commenced decades after the transactions had been
remained in the actual, open, uninterrupted and adverse possession thereof until at present (Rollo, p. 17). consummated, and six (6) years after Doña Catalina’s death, it prescribed four (4) years after the subject
An instrument notarized by a notary public as in the case at bar is a public instrument (Eacnio v. Baens, 5
transactions were recorded in the Registry of Property, whether considered an action based on fraud, or
Phil. 742). The execution of a public instrument is equivalent to the delivery of the thing (Art. 1498, 1st
Par., Civil Code) and is deemed legal delivery. Hence, its execution was considered a sufficient delivery of one to redress an injury to the rights of the plaintiffs. The private respondents may not feign ignorance of
the property (Buencamino v. Viceo, 13 Phil. 97; [1906]; Puato v. Mendoza, 64 Phil. 457 [1937]; Vda. de said transactions because the registration of the deeds was constructive notice thereof to them and the
Sarmiento v. Lesaca, 108 Phil. 900 [1960]; Phil. Suburban Development Corp. v. Auditor Gen., 63 SCRA whole world.
397 (1975]).
Besides, the property sold is a registered land. It is the act of registration that transfers the ownership of NARVASA, C.J.:
the land sold. (GSIS v. C.A., G.R. No. 42278, January 20, 1989). If the property is a registered land, the Reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV-11186 — affirming with modification
purchaser in good, faith has a right to rely on the certificate of title and is under no duty to go behind it to the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Albay in favor of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 7152 entitled
look for flaws (Mallorca v. De Ocampo, No. L-26852, March 25, 1970; Unchuan v. C.A., 161 SCRA 710 "Jose Jaucian, et al. v. Mariano B. Locsin, et al.," an action for recovery of real property with damages — is
[1988]; Nuguid v. CA-G.R. No. 77427, March 13, 1989). sought. in these proceedings initiated by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of
Under the established principles of land registration law, the person dealing with registered land may the Rules of Court.
generally rely on the correctness of its certificate of title and the law will in no way oblige him to go The petition was initially denied due course and dismissed by this Court. It was however reinstated upon
behind the certificate to determine the condition of the property (Tiongco v. de la Merced, L-2446, July a second motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners, and the respondents were required to
25, 1974; Lopez vs. CA., G.R. No. 49739, January 20, 1989; Davao Grains Inc. vs. IAC, 171 SCRA 612 comment thereon. The petition was thereafter given due course and the parties were directed to submit
[1989]). This notwithstanding, DELCOR did more than that. It did not only rely on the certificate of title. their memorandums. These, together with the evidence, having been carefully considered, the Court
The Court of Appeals found that it had first investigated and checked the title (T.C.T. No. T-1183) in the now decides the case.
name of Luis Lancero. It likewise inquired into the Subdivision Plan, the corresponding technical First, the facts as the Court sees them in light of the evidence on record:
description and the deed of sale executed by Ricardo Gevero in favor of Luis Lancero and found The late Getulio Locsin had three children named Mariano, Julian and Magdalena, all surnamed Locsin.
everything in order. It even went to the premises and found Luis Lancero to be in possession of the land He owned extensive residential and agricultural properties in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon. After
to the exclusion of any other person. DELCOR had therefore acted in good faith in purchasing the land in his death, his estate was divided among his three (3) children as follows:
question. (a) the coconut lands of some 700 hectares in Bual, Pilar, Sorsogon, were adjudicated to his daughter,
Consequently, DELCOR's action is not barred by laches. Magdalena Locsin;
The main issues having been disposed of, discussion of the other issues appear unnecessary. (b) 106 hectares of coconut lands were given to Julian Locsin, father of the petitioners Julian, Mariano,
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Jose, Salvador, Matilde, and Aurea, all surnamed Locsin;
Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. (c) more than forty (40) hectares of coconut lands in Bogtong, eighteen (18) hectares of riceland in
SO ORDERED. Daraga, and the residential lots in Daraga, Albay and in Legazpi City went to his son Mariano, which
Mariano brought into his marriage to Catalina Jaucian in 1908. Catalina, for her part, brought into the
G.R. No. 89783. February 19, 1992.* marriage untitled properties which she had inherited from her parents, Balbino Jaucian and Simona
MARIANO B. LOCSIN, JULIAN J. LOCSIN, JOSE B. LOCSIN, AUREA B. LOCSIN, MATILDE L. Anson. These were augmented by other properties acquired by the spouses in the course of their
CORDERO, SALVADOR B. LOCSIN and MANUEL V. DEL ROSARIO, petitioners, vs. THE HON. union, 1 which however was not blessed with children.
COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE JAUCIAN, FLORENTINO JAUCIAN, MERCEDES JAUCIAN ARBOLEDA,
Eventually, the properties of Mariano and Catalina were brought under the Torrens System. Those that 6 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,237 P 5,720 - ditto -
Mariano inherited from his father, Getulio Locsin, were surveyed cadastrally and registered in the name favor of Aurea B. Locsin
of "Mariano Locsin, married to Catalina Jaucian.'' 2 7 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,404 P 4,050 - ditto -
Mariano Locsin executed a Last Will and Testament instituting his wife, Catalina, as the sole and favor of Aurea B. Locsin
universal heir of all his properties. 3 The will was drawn up by his wife's nephew and trusted legal adviser, 15 Nov. 26, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 261 P 4,930 - ditto -
Attorney Salvador Lorayes. Attorney Lorayes disclosed that the spouses being childless, they had agreed Aurea Locsin
that their properties, after both of them shall have died should revert to their respective sides of the 16 Oct. 17, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 533 P 2,000 Delfina Anson
family, i.e., Mariano's properties would go to his "Locsin relatives" (i.e., brothers and sisters or nephews Aurea Locsin M. Acabado
and nieces), and those of Catalina to her "Jaucian relatives." 4 17 Nov. 26, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 373 P 1,000 Leonor Satuito
Don Mariano Locsin died of cancer on September 14, 1948 after a lingering illness. In due time, his will Aurea Locsin Mariano B. Locsin
was probated in Special Proceedings No. 138, CFI of Albay without any opposition from both sides of the 19 Sept. 1, 1975 Conditional Donation in 1,130 P 3,000 - ditto -
family. As directed in his will, Doña Catalina was appointed executrix of his estate. Her lawyer in the favor of Mariano Locsin
probate proceeding was Attorney Lorayes. In the inventory of her husband's estate 5 which she 1-MVRJ Dec. 29, 1972 Deed of Reconveyance 1,5110.66 P 1,000 Delfina Anson
submitted to the probate court for approval, 6Catalina declared that "all items mentioned from Nos. 1 to in favor of Manuel V. del (Lot 2155) Antonio Illegible
33 are the private properties of the deceased and form part of his capital at the time of the marriage with Rosario whose maternal
the surviving spouse, while items Nos. 34 to 42 are conjugal." 7 grandfather was Getulio
Among her own and Don Mariano's relatives, Doña Catalina was closest to her nephew, Attorney Locsin
Salvador Lorayes, her nieces, Elena Jaucian, Maria Lorayes-Cornelio and Maria Olbes-Velasco, and the 2-MVRJ June 30, 1973 Deed of Reconveyance 319.34 P 500 Antonio Illegible
husbands of the last two: Hostilio Cornelio and Fernando Velasco. 8 Her trust in Hostilio Cornelio was in favor of Manuel V. del (Lot 2155) Salvador Nical
such that she made him custodian of all the titles of her properties; and before she disposed of any of Rosario but the rentals
them, she unfailingly consulted her lawyer-nephew, Attorney Salvador Lorayes. It was Atty. Lorayes who from bigger portion of
prepared the legal documents and, more often than not, the witnesses to the transactions were her niece Lot 2155 leased to Filoil
Elena Jaucian, Maria Lorayes-Cornelio, Maria Olbes-Velasco, or their husbands. Her niece, Elena Jaucian, Refinery were assigned to
was her life-long companion in her house. Maria Jaucian Lorayes
Don Mariano relied on Doña Catalina to carry out the terms of their compact, hence, nine (9) years after Cornelio
his death, as if in obedience to his voice from the grave, and fully cognizant that she was also advancing Of her own properties, Doña Catalina conveyed the following to her own nephews and nieces and others:
in years, Doña Catalina began transferring, by sale, donation or assignment, Don Mariano's as well as her EXHIBIT DATE PARTICULARS AREA/SQ.M. PRICE
own, properties to their respective nephews and nieces. She made the following sales and donation of 2-JJL July 16, 1964 Deed of Sale in favor 5,000 P 1,000
properties which she had received from her husband's estate, to his Locsin nephews and nieces: Vicente Jaucian (lot 2020)
EXHIBIT DATE PARTICULARS AREA/SQ.M. PRICE WITNESSES (6,825 sqm. when
23 Jan. 26, 1957 Deed of Absolute Sale in 962 P 481 resurveyed)
favor of Mariano Locsin 24 Feb. 12, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale 100 P 1,000
1-JRL Apr. 7, 1966 Deed of Sale in favor of 430,203 P 20,000 in favor of Francisco M.
Jose R. Locsin Maquiniana
1-JJL Mar. 22, 1967 Deed of Sale in favor of 5,000 P 1,000 Hostilio Cornello 26 July 15, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 130 P 1,300
Julian Locsin (Lot 2020) Helen M. Jaucian favor of Francisco
1 Nov. 29, 1974 Deed of Donation in 26,509 Maquiniana
favor Aurea Locsin, 27 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 100 P 1,000
Matilde L. Cordero favor of Ireneo Mamia
and Salvador Locsin 28 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 75 P 750
2 Feb. 4, 1975 Deed of Donation in 34,045 favor of Zenaida Buiza
favor Aurea Locsin, 29 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 150 P 1,500
Matilde L. Cordero favor of Felisa Morjella
and Salvador Locsin 30 Apr. 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 31 P 1,000
3 Sept. 9, 1975 Deed of Donation in (Lot 2059) favor of Inocentes Motocinos
favor Aurea Locsin, 31 Feb. 12, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 150 P 1,500
Matilde L. Cordero favor of Casimiro Mondevil
and Salvador Locsin 32 Mar. 1, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 112 P 1,200
4 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,424 Hostilio Cornelio favor of Juan Saballa
favor of Aurea B. Locsin Fernando Velasco 25 Dec. 28, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 250 P 2,500
5 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,456 P 5,750 Hostilio Cornelio of Rogelio Marticio
favor of Aurea B. Locsin Elena Jaucian Doña Catalina died on July 6, 1977.
Four years before her death, she had made a will on October 22, 1973 affirming and ratifying the transfers person's succession are transmitted from the moment of his death, and do not vest in his heirs until such
she had made during her lifetime in favor of her husband's, and her own, relatives. After the reading of time. 11 Property which Doña Catalina had transferred or conveyed to other persons during her lifetime
her will, all the relatives agreed that there was no need to submit it to the court for probate because the no longer formed part of her estate at the time of her death to which her heirs may lay claim. Had she
properties devised to them under the will had already been conveyed to them by the deceased when she died intestate, only the property that remained in her estate at the time of her death devolved to her
was still alive, except some legacies which the executor of her will or estate, Attorney Salvador Lorayes, legal heirs; and even if those transfers were, one and all, treated as donations, the right arising under
proceeded to distribute. certain circumstances to impugn and compel the reduction or revocation of a decedent's gifts inter
In 1989, or six (6) years after Doña Catalina's demise, some of her Jaucian nephews and nieces who had vivos does not inure to the respondents since neither they nor the donees are compulsory (or forced)
already received their legacies and hereditary shares from her estate, filed action in the Regional Trial heirs. 12
Court of Legaspi City (Branch VIII, Civil Case No. 7152) to recover the properties which she had conveyed There is thus no basis for assuming an intention on the part of Doña Catalina, in transferring the
to the Locsins during her lifetime, alleging that the conveyances were inofficious, without consideration, properties she had received from her late husband to his nephews and nieces, an intent to circumvent the
and intended solely to circumvent the laws on succession. Those who were closest to Doña Catalina did law in violation of the private respondents' rights to her succession. Said respondents are not her
not join the action. compulsory heirs, and it is not pretended that she had any such, hence there were no legitimes that could
After the trial, judgment was rendered on July 8, l985 in favor of the plaintiffs (Jaucian), and against the conceivably be impaired by any transfer of her property during her lifetime. All that the respondents had
Locsin defendants, the dispositive part of which reads: was an expectancy that in nowise restricted her freedom to dispose of even her entire estate subject only
WHEREFORE, this Court renders judgment for the plaintiffs and against the to the limitation set forth in Art. 750, Civil Code which, even if it were breached, the respondents may not
defendants: invoke:
(1) declaring the, plaintiffs, except the heirs of Josefina J. Borja and Eduardo Art. 750. The donation may comprehend all the present property of the donor or
Jaucian, who withdrew, the rightful heirs and entitled to the entire estate, in equal part thereof, provided he reserves, in full ownership or in usufruct, sufficient means
portions, of Catalina Jaucian Vda. de Locsin, being the nearest collateral heirs by for the support of himself, and of all relatives who, at the time of the acceptance of
right of representation of Juan and Gregorio, both surnamed Jaucian, and full- the donation, are by law entitled to be supported by the donor. Without such
blood brothers of Catalina; reservation, the donation shall be reduced on petition of any person affected.
(2) declaring the deeds of sale, donations, reconveyance and exchange and all (634a)
other instruments conveying any part of the estate of Catalina J. Vda. de Locsin The lower court capitalized on the fact that Doña Catalina was already 90 years old when she died on July
including, but not limited to those in the inventory of known properties (Annex B of 6, 1977. It insinuated that because of her advanced years she may have been imposed upon, or unduly
the complaint) as null and void ab-initio; influenced and morally pressured by her husband's nephews and nieces (the petitioners) to transfer to
(3) ordering the Register of Deeds of Albay and/or Legazpi City to cancel all them the properties which she had inherited from Don Mariano's estate. The records do not support that
certificates of title and other transfers of the real properties, subject of this case, in conjecture.
the name of defendants, and derivatives therefrom, and issue new ones to the For as early as 1957, or twenty-eight (28) years before her death, Doña Catalina had already begun
plaintiffs; transferring to her Locsin nephews and nieces the properties which she received from Don Mariano. She
(4) ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to reconvey ownership and sold a 962-sq.m. lot on January 26, 1957 to his nephew and namesake Mariano Locsin II. 13 On April 7,
possession of all such properties to the plaintiffs, together with all muniments of 1966, or 19 years before she passed away, she also sold a 43 hectare land to another Locsin nephew, Jose
title properly endorsed and delivered, and all the fruits and incomes received by the R. Locsin. 14 The next year, or on March 22, 1967, she sold a 5,000-sq.m. portion of Lot 2020 to Julian
defendants from the estate of Catalina, with legal interest from the filing of this Locsin. 15
action; and where reconveyance and delivery cannot be effected for reasons that On March 27, 1967, Lot 2020 16 was partitioned by and among Doña Catalina, Julian Locsin, Vicente
might have intervened and prevent the same, defendants shall pay for the value of Jaucian and Agapito Lorete. 17 At least Vicente Jaucian, among the other respondents in this case, is
such properties, fruits and incomes received by them, also with legal interest from estopped from assailing the genuineness and due execution of the sale of portions of Lot 2020 to himself,
the filing, of this case Julian Locsin, and Agapito Lorete, and the partition agreement that he (Vicente) concluded with the
(5) ordering each of the defendants to pay the plaintiffs the amount of P30,000.00 other co-owners of Lot 2020.
as exemplary damages; and the further sum of P20,000.00 each as moral damages; Among Doña, Catalina's last transactions before she died in 1977 were the sales of property which she
and made in favor of Aurea Locsin and Mariano Locsin in 1975. 18
(6) ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiffs attorney's fees and litigation There is not the slightest suggestion in the record that Doña Catalina was mentally incompetent when
expenses, in the amount of P30,000.00 without prejudice to any contract between she made those dispositions. Indeed, how can any such suggestion be made in light of the fact that even
plaintiffs and counsel. as she was transferring properties to the Locsins, she was also contemporaneously disposing of her other
Costs against the defendants. 9 properties in favor of the Jaucians? She sold to her nephew, Vicente Jaucian, on July 16, 1964 (21 years
The Locsins appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. CV-11186) which rendered its now appealed before her death) one-half (or 5,000 sq.m.) of Lot 2020. Three years later, or on March 22, 1967, she sold
judgment on March 14, 1989, affirming the trial court's decision. another 5000 sq.m. of the same lot to Julian Locsin. 19
The petition has merit and should be granted. From 1972 to 1973 she made several other transfers of her properties to her relatives and other persons,
The trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in declaring the private respondents, nephews and nieces namely: Francisco Maquiniana, Ireneo Mamia, Zenaida Buiza, Feliza Morjella, Inocentes Motocinos,
of Doña Catalina J. Vda. de Locsin, entitled to inherit the properties which she had already disposed of Casimiro Mondevil, Juan Saballa and Rogelio Marticio. 20 None of those transactions was impugned by
more than ten (10) years before her death. For those properties did not form part of her hereditary the private respondents.
estate, i.e., "the property and transmissible rights and obligations existing at the time of (the decedent's) In 1975, or two years before her death, Doña Catalina sold some lots not only to Don Mariano's niece,
death and those which have accrued thereto since the opening of the succession." 10 The rights to a Aurea Locsin, and his nephew, Mariano Locsin
II, 21 but also to her niece, Mercedes Jaucian Arboleda. 22 If she was competent to make that conveyance G.R. No. 125835. July 30, 1998.*
to Mercedes, how can there be any doubt that she was equally competent to transfer her other pieces of NATALIA CARPENA OPULENCIA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, ALADIN SIMUNDAC and
property to Aurea and Mariano II? MIGUEL OLIVAN, respondents.
The trial court's belief that Don Mariano Locsin bequeathed his entire estate to his wife, from a
Succession; Probate Proceedings; Sales; Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not applicable where
"consciousness of its real origin" which carries the implication that said estate consisted of properties
which his wife had inherited from her parents, flies in the teeth of Doña Catalina's admission in her a party enters into a Contract to Sell in his capacity as an heir, not as an executor or administrator of the
inventory of that estate, that "items 1 to 33 are the private properties of the deceased (Don Mariano) and estate.—As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not
forms (sic) part of his capital at the time of the marriage with the surviving spouse, while items 34 to 42 applicable, because petitioner entered into the Contract to Sell in her capacity as an heiress, not as an
are conjugal properties, acquired during the marriage." She would have known better than anyone else executrix or administratrix of the estate. In the contract, she represented herself as the “lawful owner”
whether the listing included any of her paraphernal property so it is safe to assume that none was in fact and seller of the subject parcel of land. She also explained the reason for the sale to be “difficulties in her
included. The inventory was signed by her under oath, and was approved by the probate court in Special living” conditions and consequent “need of cash.” These representations clearly evince that she was not
Proceeding No. 138 of the Court of First Instance of Albay. It was prepared with the assistance of her own
acting on behalf of the estate under probate when she entered into the Contract to Sell. Accordingly, the
nephew and counsel, Atty. Salvador Lorayes, who surely would not have prepared a false inventory that
would have been prejudicial to his aunt's interest and to his own, since he stood to inherit from her jurisprudence cited by petitioner has no application to the instant case.
eventually. Same; Same; Same; An heir becomes owner of his hereditary share the moment the decedent dies, thus,
This Court finds no reason to disbelieve Attorney Lorayes' testimony that before Don Mariano died, he the lack of judicial approval does not invalidate the Contract to Sell, because the heir has the substantive
and his wife (Doña Catalina), being childless, had agreed that their respective properties should right to sell the whole or a part of his share in the estate of the decedent.—We emphasize that hereditary
eventually revert to their respective lineal relatives. As the trusted legal adviser of the spouses and a full- rights are vested in the heir or heirs from the moment of the decedent’s death. Petitioner, therefore,
blood nephew of Doña Catalina, he would not have spun a tale out of thin air that would also prejudice became the owner of her hereditary share the moment her father died. Thus, the lack of judicial approval
his own interest.
does not invalidate the Contract to Sell, because the petitioner has the substantive right to sell the whole
Little significance, it seems, has been attached to the fact that among Doña Catalina's nephews and
nieces, those closest to her: (a) her lawyer-nephew Attorney Salvador Lorayes; (b) her niece and or a part of her share in the estate of her late father.
companion Elena Jaucian: (c) her nieces Maria Olbes-Velasco and Maria Lorayes-Cornelio and their Same; Same; Same; The sale made by an heir of his share in an inheritance, subject to the pending
respective husbands, Fernando Velasco and Hostilio Cornelio, did not join the suit to annul and undo the administration, in no wise stands in the way of such administration.—The Contract to Sell stipulates that
dispositions of property which she made in favor of the Locsins, although it would have been to their petitioner’s offer to sell is contingent on the “complete clearance of the court on the Last Will and
advantage to do so. Their desistance persuasively demonstrates that Doña Catalina acted as a Testament of her father.” Consequently, although the Contract to Sell was perfected between the
completely free agent when she made the conveyances in favor of the petitioners. In fact, considering
petitioner and private respondents during the pendency of the probate proceedings, the consummation
their closeness to Doña Catalina it would have been well-nigh impossible for the petitioners to employ
"fraud, undue pressure, and subtle manipulations" on her to make her sell or donate her properties to of the sale or the transfer of ownership over the parcel of land to the private respondents is subject to the
them. Doña Catalina's niece, Elena Jaucian, daughter of her brother, Eduardo Jaucian, lived with her in full payment of the purchase price and to the termination and outcome of the testate proceedings.
her house. Her nephew-in-law, Hostilio Cornelio, was the custodian of the titles of her properties. The Therefore, there is no basis for petitioner’s apprehension that the Contract to Sell may result in a
sales and donations which she signed in favor of the petitioners were prepared by her trusted legal premature partition and distribution of the properties of the estate. Indeed, it is settled that “the sale
adviser and nephew, Attorney Salvador Lorayes. The (1) deed of donation dated November 19, made by an heir of his share in an inheritance, subject to the pending administration, in no wise stands in
1974 23 in favor of Aurea Locsin, (2) another deed of donation dated February 4, 1975 24 in favor of Matilde the way of such administration.”
Cordero, and (3) still another deed dated September 9, 1975 25 in favor of Salvador Lorayes, were all
Estoppel; Jurisprudence teaches us that neither the law nor the courts will extricate a party from an
witnessed by Hostilio Cornelio (who is married to Doña Catalina's niece, Maria Lorayes) and Fernando
Velasco who is married to another niece, Maria Olbes. 26The sales which she made in favor of Aurea unwise or undesirable contract he or she entered into with all the required formalities and with full
Locsin on July 15, 1974 27 were witnessed by Hostilio Cornelio and Elena Jaucian. Given those awareness of its consequences.—Petitioner is estopped from backing out of her representations in her
circumstances, said transactions could not have been anything but free and voluntary acts on her part. valid Contract to Sell with private respondents, from whom she had already received P300,000 as initial
Apart from the foregoing considerations, the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in not dismissing payment of the purchase price. Petitioner may not renege on her own acts and representations, to the
this action for annulment and reconveyance on the ground of prescription. Commenced decades after prejudice of the private respondents who have relied on them. Jurisprudence teaches us that neither the
the transactions had been consummated, and six (6) years after Doña Catalina's death, it prescribed four law nor the courts will extricate a party from an unwise or undesirable contract he or she entered into
(4) years after the subject transactions were recorded in the Registry of Property, 28 whether considered
with all the required formalities and with full awareness of its consequences.
an action based on fraud, or one to redress an injury to the rights of the plaintiffs. The private
respondents may not feign ignorance of said transactions because the registration of the deeds was
constructive notice thereof to them and the whole world. 29 PANGANIBAN, J.:
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is granted. The decision dated March 14, 1989 of the Court of Is a contract to sell a real property involved in restate proceedings valid and binding without the approval
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 11186 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The private respondents' complaint for of the probate court?
annulment of contracts and reconveyance of properties in Civil Case No. 7152 of the Regional Trial Court, Statement of the Case
Branch VIII of Legazpi City, is DISMISSED, with costs against the private respondents, plaintiffs therein. This is the main question raised in this petition for review before us, assailing the Decision 1 of the Court
SO ORDERED. of Appeals 2in CA-GR CV No. 41994 promulgated on February 6, 1996 and its Resolution 3 dated July 19,
1996. The challenged Decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of the lower court dismissing the It appears that [petitioner], instead of submitting her evidence, filed a Demurrer to
complaint is SET ASIDE and judgment is hereby rendered declaring the Evidence. In essence, defendant maintained that the contract to sell was null and
CONTRACT TO SELL executed by appellee in favor of appellants as valid and void for want of approval by the probate court. She further argued that the
binding, subject to the result of the administration proceedings of the testate contract was subject to a suspensive condition, which was the probate of the will of
Estate of Demetrio Carpena. defendant's father Demetrio Carpena. An Opposition was filed by [private
SO ORDERED. 4 respondents]. It appears further that in an Order dated December 15, 1992 the
Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration was denied in the challenged Resolution. 5 court a quo granted the demurrer to evidence and dismissed the complaint. It
The Facts justified its action in dismissing the complaint in the following manner:
The antecedent facts, as succinctly narrated by Respondent Court of Appeals, are: It is noteworthy that when the contract to sell was consummated, no petition was
In a complaint for specific performance filed with the court a quo [herein private filed in the Court with notice to the heirs of the time and place of hearing, to show
respondents] Aladin Simundac and Miguel Oliven alleged that [herein petitioner] that the sale is necessary and beneficial. A sale of properties of an estate as
Natalia Carpena Opulencia executed in their favor a "CONTRACT TO SELL" Lot beneficial to the interested parties must comply with the requisites provided by
2125 of the Sta. Rosa Estate, consisting of 23,766 square meters located in Sta. law, (Sec. 7, Rule 89, Rules of Court) which are mandatory, and without them, the
Rosa, Laguna at P150.00 per square meter; that plaintiffs paid a downpayment of authority to sell, the sale itself, and the order approving it, would be null and
P300,000.00 but defendant, despite demands, failed to comply with her void ab initio. (Arcilla vs. David, 77 Phil. 718, Gabriel, et al., vs. Encarnacion, et al., L-
obligations under the contract. [Private respondents] therefore prayed that 6736, May 4, 1954; Bonaga vs. Soler, 2 Phil. 755) Besides, it is axiomatic that where
[petitioner] be ordered to perform her contractual obligations and to further pay the estate of a deceased person is already the subject of a testate or intestate
damages, attorney's fee and litigation expenses. proceeding, the administrator cannot enter into any transaction involving it
In her traverse, [petitioner] admitted the execution of the contract in favor of without prior approval of the probate Court. (Estate of Obave, vs. Reyes, 123 SCRA
plaintiffs and receipt of P300,000.00 as downpayment. However, she put forward 767).
the following affirmative defenses: that the property subject of the contract As held by the Supreme Court, a decedent's representative (administrator) is not
formed part of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena (petitioner's father), in respect of estopped from questioning the validity of his own void deed purporting to convey
which a petition for probate was filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 24, land. (Bona vs. Soler, 2 Phil, 755). In the case at bar, the [petitioner,] realizing the
Biñan, Laguna; that at the time the contract was executed, the parties were aware illegality of the transaction[,] has interposed the nullity of the contract as her
of the pendency of the probate proceeding; that the contract to sell was not defense, there being no approval from the probate Court, and, in good faith offers
approved by the probate court; that realizing the nullity of the contract [petitioner] to return the money she received from the [private respondents]. Certainly, the
had offered to return the downpayment received from [private respondents], but administratrix is not estop[ped] from doing so and the action to declare the
the latter refused to accept it; that [private respondents] further failed to provide inexistence of contracts do not prescribe. This is what precipitated the filing of
funds for the tenant who demanded P150,00.00 in payment of his tenancy rights [petitioner's] demurrer to evidence. 6
on the land; that [petitioner] had chosen to rescind the contract. The trial court's order of dismissal was elevated to the Court of Appeals by private respondents who
At the pre-trial conference the parties stipulated on [sic] the following facts: alleged:
1. That on February 3, 1989, [private respondents] and 1. The lower court erred in concluding that the contract to sell is null and void, there
[petitioner] entered into a contract to sell involving a parcel being no approval of the probate court.
of land situated in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, otherwise known as 2. The lower court erred in concluding that [petitioner] in good faith offers to return
Lot No. 2125 of the Sta. Rosa Estate. the money to [private respondents].
2. That the price or consideration of the said sell [sic] is 3. The lower court erred in concluding that [petitioner] is not under estoppel to
P150.00 per square meters; question the validity of the contract to sell.
3. That the amount of P300,000.00 had already been 4. The lower court erred in not ruling on the consideration of the contract to sell
received by [petitioner]; which is tantamount to plain unjust enrichment of [petitioner] at the expense of
4. That the parties have knowledge that the property subject [private respondents]. 7
of the contract to sell is subject of the probate proceedings; Public Respondent's Ruling
5. That [as] of this time, the probate Court has not yet issued Declaring the Contract to Sell valid, subject to the outcome of the testate proceedings on Demetrio
an order either approving or denying the said sale. (p. 3, Carpena's estate, the appellate court set aside the trial court's dismissal of the complaint and correctly
appealed Order of September 15, 1992, pp. 109-112, record). ruled as follows:
[Private respondents] submitted their evidence in support of the material It is apparent from the appealed order that the lower court treated the contract to
allegations of the complaint. In addition to testimonies of witnesses, [private sell executed by appellee as one made by the administratrix of the Estate of
respondents] presented the following documentary evidences: (1) Contract to Sell Demetrio Carpena for the benefit of the estate. Hence, its main reason for voiding
(Exh A); (2) machine copy of the last will and testament of Demetrio Carpena the contract in question was the absence of the probate court's approval.
(defendant's father) to show that the property sold by defendant was one of those Presumably, what the lower court had in mind was the sale of the estate or part
devised to her in said will (Exh B); (3) receipts signed by defendant for the thereof made by the administrator for the benefit of the estate, as authorized
downpayment in the total amount of P300,000.00 (Exhs C, D & E); and (4) demand under Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court, which requires the approval of the
letters sent to defendant (Exhs F & G).
probate court upon application therefor with notice to the heirs, devisees and should have done with the complaint was not to dismiss it but to simply put on hold
legatees. further proceedings until such time that the estate or its residue will be distributed
However, as adverted to by appellants in their brief, the contract to sell in question in accordance with the approved will.
is not covered by Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court since it was made by The rule is that when a demurrer to the evidence is granted by the trial court but
appellee in her capacity as an heir, of a property that was devised to her under the reversed on appeal, defendant loses the right to adduce his evidence. In such a
will sought to be probated. Thus, while the document inadvertently stated that case, the appellate court will decide the controversy on the basis of plaintiff's
appellee executed the contract in her capacity as "executrix and administratrix" of evidence. In the case at bench, while we find the contract to sell valid and binding
the estate, a cursory reading of the entire text of the contract would unerringly between the parties, we cannot as yet order appellee to perform her obligations
show that what she undertook to sell to appellants was one of the "other properties under the contract because the result of the administration proceedings of the
given to her by her late father," and more importantly, it was not made for the testate Estate of Demetrio Carpena has to be awaited. Hence, we shall confine our
benefit of the estate but for her own needs. To illustrate this point, it is apropos to adjudication to merely declaring the validity of the questioned Contract to Sell.
refer to the preambular or preliminary portion of the document, which reads: Hence, this appeal. 8
WHEREAS, the SELLER is the lawful owner of a certain parcel The Issue
of land, which is more particularly described as follows: Petitioner raises only one issue:
xxx xxx xxx Whether or not the Contract to Sell dated 03 February 1989 executed by the
xxx xxx xxx [p]etitioner and [p]rivate [r]espondent[s] without the requisite probate court
xxx xxx xxx approval is valid.
WHEREAS, the SELLER suffers difficulties in her living and The Court's Ruling
has forced to offer the sale of the above-described property, The petition has no merit.
"which property was only one among the other properties Contract to Sell Valid
given to her by her late father," to anyone who can wait for In a nutshell, petitioner contends that "where the estate of the deceased person is already the subject of
complete clearance of the court on the Last Will Testament a testate or intestate proceeding, the administrator cannot enter into any transaction involving it without
of her father. prior approval of the Probate Court." 9 She maintains that the Contract to Sell is void because it was not
WHEREAS, the SELLER in order to meet her need of cash, approved by the probate court, as required by Section 7, Rule 89 of the Rules of Court:
has offered for sale the said property at ONE HUNDRED Sec. 7. Regulations for granting authority to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber
FIFTY PESOS (150.00) Philippine Currency, per square meter estate. — The court having jurisdiction of the estate of the deceased may authorize
unto the BUYERS, and with this offer, the latter has accepted the executor or administrator to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber real estate,
to buy and/or purchase the same, less the area for the road in cases provided by these rules and when it appears necessary or beneficial, under
and other easements indicated at the back of Transfer the following regulations:
Certificate of Title No. 2125 duly confirmed after the survey xxx xxx xxx
to be conducted by the BUYER's Licensed Geodetic Insisting that the above rule should apply to this case, petitioner argues that the stipulations in the
Engineer, and whatever area [is] left. (Emphasis added). Contract to Sell require her to act in her capacity as an executrix or administratrix. She avers that her
To emphasize, it is evident from the foregoing clauses of the contract that appellee obligation to eject tenants pertains to the administratrix or executrix, the estate being the landlord of the
sold Lot 2125 not in her capacity as executrix of the will or administratrix of the said tenants. 10 Likewise demonstrating that she entered into the contract in her capacity as executor is
estate of her father, but as an heir and more importantly as owner of said lot which, the stipulation that she must effect the conversion of subject land from irrigated rice land to residential
along with other properties, was devised to her under the will sought to be land and secure the necessary clearances from government offices. Petitioner alleges that these
probated. That being so, the requisites stipulated in Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of obligations can be undertaken only by an executor or administrator of an estate, and not by an heir. 11
Court which refer to a sale made by the administrator for the benefit of the estate The Court is not persuaded. As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules
do not apply. of Court is not applicable, because petitioner entered into the Contract to Sell in her capacity as an
xxx xxx xxx heiress, not as an executrix or administratrix of the estate. In the contract, she represented herself as the
It is noteworthy that in a Manifestation filed with this court by appellants, which is "lawful owner" and seller of the subject parcel of land. 12 She also explained the reason for the sale to be
not controverted by appellee, it is mentioned that the last will and testament of "difficulties in her living" conditions and consequent "need of cash." 13 These representations clearly
Demetrio Carpena was approved in a final judgment rendered in Special evince that she was not acting on behalf of the estate under probate when she entered into the Contract
Proceeding No. B-979 by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 24 Biñan, Laguna. But of to Sell. Accordingly, the jurisprudence cited by petitioners has no application to the instant case.
course such approval does not terminate the proceeding[s] since the settlement of We emphasize that hereditary rights are vested in the heir or heirs from the moment of the decedent's
the estate will ensue. Such proceedings will consist, among others, in the issuance death. 14Petitioner, therefore, became the owner of her hereditary share the moment her father died.
by the court of a notice to creditors (Rule 86), hearing of money claims and Thus, the lack of judicial approval does not invalidate the Contract to Sell, because the petitioner has the
payment of taxes and estate debts (Rule 88) and distribution of the residue to the substantive right to sell the whole or a part of her share in the estate of her late father. 15 Thus,
heirs or persons entitled thereto (Rule 90). In effect, the final execution of the deed in Jakosalem vs. Rafols, 16 the Court resolved an identical issue under the old Civil Code and held:
of sale itself upon appellants' payment of the balance of the purchase price will Art. 440 of the Civil Code provides that "the possession of hereditary property is
have to wait for the settlement or termination of the administration proceedings of deemed to be transmitted to the heir without interruption from the instant of the
the Estate of Demetrio Carpena. Under the foregoing premises, what the trial court death of the decedent, in case the inheritance be accepted." And Manresa with
reason states that upon the death of a person, each of his heirs "becomes the subject assets or amount demanded is pecuniarily determinable. While it is true that the exact value of
undivided owner of the whole estate left with respect to the part or portion which the partnership’s total assets cannot be shown with certainty at the time of filing, respondents can and
might be adjudicated to him, a community of ownership being thus formed among must ascertain, through informed and practical estimation, the amount they expect to collect from the
the coowners of the estate while it remains undivided." . . . And according to article
partnership, particularly from petitioner, in order to determine the proper amount of docket and other
399 of the Civil Code, every part owner may assign or mortgage his part in the
common property, and the effect of such assignment or mortgage shall be limited fees. It is thus imperative for respondents to pay the corresponding docket fees in order that the trial
to the portion which may be allotted him in the partition upon the dissolution of court may acquire jurisdiction over the action.
the community. Hence, where some of the heirs, without the concurrence of the Same; Same; Pauper Litigants; A party cannot invoke the third paragraph of Section 16, Rule 141 of the
others, sold a property left by their deceased father, this Court, speaking thru its Rules of Court which allows that the legal fees shall be a lien on the monetary or property judgment that
then Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano, said that the sale was valid, but that the may be rendered in favor of such party if he is not a pauper-litigant.—Petitioner, however, argues that
effect thereof was limited to the share which may be allotted to the vendors upon the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in condoning the non-payment of the proper legal fees and
the partition of the estate.
in allowing the same to become a lien on the monetary or property judgment that may be rendered in
Administration of the Estate Not
Prejudiced by the Contract to Sell favor of respondents. There is merit in petitioner’s assertion. The third paragraph of Section 16, Rule 141
Petitioner further contends that "[t]o sanction the sale at this stage would bring about a partial of the Rules of Court states that: The legal fees shall be a lien on the monetary or property judgment in
distribution of the decedent's estate pending the final termination of the testate proceedings." 17 This favor of the pauper-litigant. Respondents cannot invoke the above provision in their favor because it
becomes all the more significant in the light of the trial court's finding, as stated in its Order dated specifically applies to pauper-litigants. Nowhere in the records does it appear that respondents are
August 20, 1997, that "the legitimate of one of the heirs has been impaired." 18 litigating as paupers, and as such are exempted from the payment of court fees.
Petitioner's contention is not convincing. The Contract to Sell stipulates that petitioner's offer to sell is Same; Same; The provision of the third paragraph of Section 5(a), Rule 141 of the Rules of Court clearly
contingent on the "complete clearance of the court on the Last Will Testament of her
contemplates an initial payment of the filing fees corresponding to the estimated amount of the claim
father." 19 Consequently, although the Contract to Sell was perfected between the petitioner and private
respondents during the pendency of the probate proceedings, the consummation of the sale or the subject to adjustment as to what later may be proved.—The rule applicable to the case at bar is Section
transfer of ownership over the parcel of land to the private respondents is subject to the full payment of 5(a) of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, which defines the two kinds of claims as: (1) those which are
the purchase price and to the termination and outcome of the testate proceedings. Therefore, there is no immediately ascertainable; and (2) those which cannot be immediately ascertained as to the exact
basis for petitioner's apprehension that the Contract to Sell may result in a premature partition and amount. This second class of claims, where the exact amount still has to be finally determined by the
distribution of the properties of the estate. Indeed, it is settled that "the sale made by an heir of his share courts based on evidence presented, falls squarely under the third paragraph of said Section 5(a), which
in an inheritance, subject to the pending administration, in no wise stands in the way of such
provides: In case the value of the property or estate or the sum claimed is less or more in accordance with
administration." 20
Estoppel the appraisal of the court, the difference of fee shall be refunded or paid as the case may be. (Italics ours)
Finally, petitioner is estopped from backing out of her representations in her valid Contract to Sell with In Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation v. Court of Appeals, this Court pronounced that the above-
private respondents, from whom she had already received P300,000 as initial payment of the purchase quoted provision “clearly contemplates an initial payment of the filing fees corresponding to the
price. Petitioner may not renege on her own acts and representations, to the prejudice of the private estimated amount of the claim subject to adjustment as to what later may be proved.” Moreover, we
respondents who have relied on them. 21 Jurisprudence teaches us that neither the law nor the courts will reiterated therein the principle that the payment of filing fees cannot be made contingent or dependent
extricate a party from an unwise or undesirable contract he or she entered into with all the required on the result of the case. Thus, an initial payment of the docket fees based on an estimated amount must
formalities and with full awareness of its consequences. 22
be paid simultaneous with the filing of the complaint. Otherwise, the court would stand to lose the filing
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. fees should the judgment later turn out to be adverse to any claim of the respondent heirs.
SO ORDERED. Same; Same; The matter of payment of docket fees is not a mere triviality—the payment of docket fees
cannot be made dependent on the outcome of the case, except when the claimant is a pauper-litigant.—
G.R. No. 126334. November 23, 2001.* The matter of payment of docket fees is not a mere triviality. These fees are necessary to defray court
EMILIO EMNACE, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, ESTATE OF VICENTE TABANAO, SHERWIN expenses in the handling of cases. Consequently, in order to avoid tremendous losses to the judiciary,
TABANAO, VICENTE WILLIAM TABANAO, JANETTE TABANAO DEPOSOY, VICENTA MAY and to the government as well, the payment of docket fees cannot be made dependent on the outcome
TABANAO VARELA, ROSELA TABANAO and VINCENT TABANAO, respondents. of the case, except when the claimant is a pauper-litigant.
Actions; Docket Fees; Even if the exact value of the partnership’s total assets cannot be shown with Same; Same; While the rule is that the payment of the docket fee in the proper amount should be
certainty at the time of filing, the plaintiffs can and must ascertain, through informed and practical adhered to, there are certain exceptions which must be strictly construed.—Based on the foregoing, the
estimation, the amount they expect to collect from the partnership, in order to determine the proper trial court erred in not dismissing the complaint outright despite their failure to pay the proper docket
amount of docket and other fees.—The trial court does not have to employ guesswork in ascertaining the fees. Nevertheless, as in other procedural rules, it may be liberally construed in certain cases if only to
estimated value of the partnership’s assets, for respondents themselves voluntarily pegged the worth secure a just and speedy disposition of an action. While the rule is that the payment of the docket fee in
thereof at Thirty Million Pesos (P30,000,000.00). Hence, this case is one which is really not beyond the proper amount should be adhered to, there are certain exceptions which must be strictly construed.
pecuniary estimation, but rather partakes of the nature of a simple collection case where the value of the In recent rulings, this Court has relaxed the strict adherence to the Manchester doctrine, allowing the
plaintiff to pay the proper docket fees within a reasonable time before the expiration of the applicable inheritance of a person are transmitted. Moreover, respondents became owners of their respective
prescriptive or reglementary period. hereditary shares from the moment Vicente Tabanao died.
Same; Venue; Partnerships; An action for accounting, payment of partnership shares, division of assets Same; Same; Same; The heirs, as successors who stepped into the shoes of their decedent upon his
and damages is a personal action which, under the Rules, may be commenced and tried where the death, can commence any action originally pertaining to the decedent.—A prior settlement of the estate,
defendant resides or may be found, or where the plaintiffs reside, at the election of the latter.—On the or even the appointment of Salvacion Tabanao as executrix or administratrix, is not necessary for any of
matter of improper venue, we find no error on the part of the trial court and the Court of Appeals in the heirs to acquire legal capacity to sue. As successors who stepped into the shoes of their decedent
holding that the case below is a personal action which, under the Rules, may be commenced and tried upon his death, they can commence any action originally pertaining to the decedent. From the moment
where the defendant resides or may be found, or where the plaintiffs reside, at the election of the latter. of his death, his rights as a partner and to demand fulfillment of petitioner’s obligations as outlined in
Same; Same; Same; If an action is against a partner, on the basis of his personal liability, it is an action in their dissolution agreement were transmitted to respondents. They, therefore, had the capacity to sue
personam, and the fact that two of the assets of the partnership are parcels of land does not materially and seek the court’s intervention to compel petitioner to fulfill his obligations.
change the nature of the action.—Petitioner, however, insists that venue was improperly laid since the Same; Partnerships; Accounting; Prescription; For as long as the partnership exists, any of the partners
action is a real action involving a parcel of land that is located outside the territorial jurisdiction of the may demand an accounting of the partnership’s business, and prescription of the said right starts to run
court a quo. This contention is not well-taken. The records indubitably show that respondents are asking only upon the dissolution of the partnership when the final accounting is done.—The three (3) final stages
that the assets of the partnership be accounted for, sold and distributed according to the agreement of of a partnership are: (1) dissolution; (2) winding-up; and (3) termination. The partnership, although
the partners. The fact that two of the assets of the partnership are parcels of land does not materially dissolved, continues to exist and its legal personality is retained, at which time it completes the winding
change the nature of the action. It is an action in personam because it is an action against a person, up of its affairs, including the partitioning and distribution of the net partnership assets to the partners.
namely, petitioner, on the basis of his personal liability. It is not an action in rem where the action is For as long as the partnership exists, any of the partners may demand an accounting of the partnership’s
against the thing itself instead of against the person.Furthermore, there is no showing that the parcels of business. Prescription of the said right starts to run only upon the dissolution of the partnership when the
land involved in this case are being disputed. In fact, it is only incidental that part of the assets of the final accounting is done. Contrary to petitioner’s protestations that respondents’ right to inquire into the
partnership under liquidation happen to be parcels of land. business affairs of the partnership accrued in 1986, prescribing four (4) years thereafter, prescription had
Same; Same; Same; A complaint seeking the liquidation and partition of the assets of the partnership not even begun to run in the absence of a final accounting.
with damages is a personal action which may be filed in the proper court where any of the parties
reside.—The action filed by respondents not only seeks redress against petitioner. It also seeks the YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
enforcement of, and petitioner’s compliance with, the contract that the partners executed to formalize Petitioner Emilio Emnace, Vicente Tabanao and Jacinto Divinagracia were partners in a business concern
known as Ma. Nelma Fishing Industry. Sometime in January of 1986, they decided to dissolve their
the partnership’s dissolution, as well as to implement the liquidation and partition of the partnership’s
partnership and executed an agreement of partition and distribution of the partnership properties among
assets. Clearly, it is a personal action that, in effect, claims a debt from petitioner and seeks the them, consequent to Jacinto Divinagracia's withdrawal from the partnership. 1 Among the assets to be
performance of a personal duty on his part. In fine, respondents’ complaint seeking the liquidation and distributed were five (5) fishing boats, six (6) vehicles, two (2) parcels of land located at Sto. Niño and
partition of the assets of the partnership with damages is a personal action which may be filed in the Talisay, Negros Occidental, and cash deposits in the local branches of the Bank of the Philippine Islands
proper court where any of the parties reside. Besides, venue has nothing to do with jurisdiction for venue and Prudential Bank.
touches more upon the substance or merits of the case. As it is, venue in this case was properly laid and Throughout the existence of the partnership, and even after Vicente Tabanao's untimely demise in 1994,
the trial court correctly ruled so. petitioner failed to submit to Tabanao's heirs any statement of assets and liabilities of the partnership,
and to render an accounting of the partnership's finances. Petitioner also reneged on his promise to turn
Same; Parties; Succession; The surviving spouse does not need to be appointed as executrix or
over to Tabanao's heirs the deceased's 1/3 share in the total assets of the partnership, amounting to
administratrix of the estate before she can file an action based on the rights of her deceased husband— P30,000,000.00, or the sum of P10,000,000.00, despite formal demand for payment thereof. 2
she and her children are complainants in their own right as successors, the deceased’s rights being Consequently, Tabanao' s heirs, respondents herein, filed against petitioner an action for accounting,
transmitted to his heirs from the moment of death.—On the third issue, petitioner asserts that the payment of shares, division of assets and damages.3 In their complaint, respondents prayed as follows:
surviving spouse of Vicente Tabanao has no legal capacity to sue since she was never appointed as 1. Defendant be ordered to render the proper accounting of all the assets and liabilities of the
administratrix or executrix of his estate. Petitioner’s objection in this regard is misplaced. The surviving partnership at bar; and
spouse does not need to be appointed as executrix or administratrix of the estate before she can file the 2. After due notice and hearing defendant be ordered to pay/remit/deliver/surrender/yield to
the plaintiffs the following:
action. She and her children are complainants in their own right as successors of Vicente Tabanao. From
A. No less than One Third (1/3) of the assets, properties, dividends, cash, land(s),
the very moment of Vicente Tabanao’s death, his rights insofar as the partnership was concerned were fishing vessels, trucks, motor vehicles, and other forms and substance of treasures
transmitted to his heirs, for rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of death of the which belong and/or should belong, had accrued and/or must accrue to the
decedent. Whatever claims and rights Vicente Tabanao had against the partnership and petitioner were partnership;
transmitted to respondents by operation of law, more particularly by succession, which is a mode of B. No less than Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00) as moral damages;
acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the C. Attorney's fees equivalent to Thirty Percent (30%) of the entire
share/amount/award which the Honorable Court may resolve the plaintiffs as
entitled to plus P1,000.00 for every appearance in court.4
Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of improper venue, lack of jurisdiction Consequently, they feel justified in not having paid the commensurate docket fee as required by the
over the nature of the action or suit, and lack of capacity of the estate of Tabanao to sue.5 On August 30, Rules of Court.1âwphi1.nêt
1994, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss. It held that venue was properly laid because, while We do not agree. The trial court does not have to employ guesswork in ascertaining the estimated value
realties were involved, the action was directed against a particular person on the basis of his personal of the partnership's assets, for respondents themselves voluntarily pegged the worth thereof at Thirty
liability; hence, the action is not only a personal action but also an action in personam. As regards Million Pesos (P30,000,000.00). Hence, this case is one which is really not beyond pecuniary estimation,
petitioner's argument of lack of jurisdiction over the action because the prescribed docket fee was not but rather partakes of the nature of a simple collection case where the value of the subject assets or
paid considering the huge amount involved in the claim, the trial court noted that a request for amount demanded is pecuniarily determinable.13 While it is true that the exact value of the partnership's
accounting was made in order that the exact value of the partnership may be ascertained and, thus, the total assets cannot be shown with certainty at the time of filing, respondents can and must ascertain,
correct docket fee may be paid. Finally, the trial court held that the heirs of Tabanao had aright to sue in through informed and practical estimation, the amount they expect to collect from the partnership,
their own names, in view of the provision of Article 777 of the Civil Code, which states that the rights to particularly from petitioner, in order to determine the proper amount of docket and other fees. 14 It is thus
the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent. 6 imperative for respondents to pay the corresponding docket fees in order that the trial court may acquire
The following day, respondents filed an amended complaint, 7 incorporating the additional prayer that jurisdiction over the action.15
petitioner be ordered to "sell all (the partnership's) assets and thereafter Nevertheless, unlike in the case of Manchester Development Corp. v. Court of Appeals,16 where there was
pay/remit/deliver/surrender/yield to the plaintiffs" their corresponding share in the proceeds thereof. In clearly an effort to defraud the government in avoiding to pay the correct docket fees, we see no attempt
due time, petitioner filed a manifestation and motion to dismiss,8arguing that the trial court did not to cheat the courts on the part of respondents. In fact, the lower courts have noted their expressed desire
acquire jurisdiction over the case due to the plaintiffs' failure to pay the proper docket fees. Further, in a to remit to the court "any payable balance or lien on whatever award which the Honorable Court may
supplement to his motion to dismiss,9 petitioner also raised prescription as an additional ground grant them in this case should there be any deficiency in the payment of the docket fees to be computed
warranting the outright dismissal of the complaint. by the Clerk of Court."17 There is evident willingness to pay, and the fact that the docket fee paid so far is
On June 15, 1995, the trial court issued an Order,10 denying the motion to dismiss inasmuch as the inadequate is not an indication that they are trying to avoid paying the required amount, but may simply
grounds raised therein were basically the same as the earlier motion to dismiss which has been denied. be due to an inability to pay at the time of filing. This consideration may have moved the trial court and
Anent the issue of prescription, the trial court ruled that prescription begins to run only upon the the Court of Appeals to declare that the unpaid docket fees shall be considered a lien on the judgment
dissolution of the partnership when the final accounting is done. Hence, prescription has not set in the award.
absence of a final accounting. Moreover, an action based on a written contract prescribes in ten years Petitioner, however, argues that the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in condoning the non-
from the time the right of action accrues. payment of the proper legal fees and in allowing the same to become a lien on the monetary or property
Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, 11 raising the following issues: judgment that may be rendered in favor of respondents. There is merit in petitioner's assertion. The third
I. Whether or not respondent Judge acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of paragraph of Section 16, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court states that:
discretion in taking cognizance of a case despite the failure to pay the required docket fee; The legal fees shall be a lien on the monetary or property judgment in favor of the pauper-
II. Whether or not respondent Judge acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of litigant.
discretion in insisting to try the case which involve (sic) a parcel of land situated outside of its Respondents cannot invoke the above provision in their favor because it specifically applies to pauper-
territorial jurisdiction; litigants. Nowhere in the records does it appear that respondents are litigating as paupers, and as such
III. Whether or not respondent Judge acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of are exempted from the payment of court fees.18
discretion in allowing the estate of the deceased to appear as party plaintiff, when there is no The rule applicable to the case at bar is Section 5(a) of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, which defines the
intestate case and filed by one who was never appointed by the court as administratrix of the two kinds of claims as: (1) those which are immediately ascertainable; and (2) those which cannot be
estates; and immediately ascertained as to the exact amount. This second class of claims, where the exact amount
IV. Whether or not respondent Judge acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of still has to be finally determined by the courts based on evidence presented, falls squarely under the third
discretion in not dismissing the case on the ground of prescription. paragraph of said Section 5(a), which provides:
On August 8, 1996, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision, 12 dismissing the petition for In case the value of the property or estate or the sum claimed is less or more in accordance
certiorari, upon a finding that no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction was with the appraisal of the court, the difference of fee shall be refunded or paid as the case may
committed by the trial court in issuing the questioned orders denying petitioner's motions to dismiss. be. (Underscoring ours)
Not satisfied, petitioner filed the instant petition for review, raising the same issues resolved by the Court In Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation v. Court of Appeals,19 this Court pronounced that the above-
of Appeals, namely: quoted provision "clearly contemplates an Initial payment of the filing fees corresponding to the
I. Failure to pay the proper docket fee; estimated amount of the claim subject to adjustment as to what later may be proved." 20 Moreover, we
II. Parcel of land subject of the case pending before the trial court is outside the said court's reiterated therein the principle that the payment of filing fees cannot be made contingent or dependent
territorial jurisdiction; on the result of the case. Thus, an initial payment of the docket fees based on an estimated amount must
III. Lack of capacity to sue on the part of plaintiff heirs of Vicente Tabanao; and be paid simultaneous with the filing of the complaint. Otherwise, the court would stand to lose the filing
IV. Prescription of the plaintiff heirs' cause of action. fees should the judgment later turn out to be adverse to any claim of the respondent heirs.
It can be readily seen that respondents' primary and ultimate objective in instituting the action below was The matter of payment of docket fees is not a mere triviality. These fees are necessary to defray court
to recover the decedent's 1/3 share in the partnership' s assets. While they ask for an accounting of the expenses in the handling of cases. Consequently, in order to avoid tremendous losses to the judiciary,
partnership' s assets and finances, what they are actually asking is for the trial court to compel petitioner and to the government as well, the payment of docket fees cannot be made dependent on the outcome
to pay and turn over their share, or the equivalent value thereof, from the proceeds of the sale of the of the case, except when the claimant is a pauper-litigant.
partnership assets. They also assert that until and unless a proper accounting is done, the exact value of Applied to the instant case, respondents have a specific claim - 1/3 of the value of all the partnership
the partnership' s assets, as well as their corresponding share therein, cannot be ascertained. assets - but they did not allege a specific amount. They did, however, estimate the partnership's total
assets to be worth Thirty Million Pesos (P30,000,000.00), in a letter 21 addressed to petitioner. the assets of the partnership are parcels of land does not materially change the nature of the action. It is
Respondents cannot now say that they are unable to make an estimate, for the said letter and the an action in personam because it is an action against a person, namely, petitioner, on the basis of his
admissions therein form part of the records of this case. They cannot avoid paying the initial docket fees personal liability. It is not an action in rem where the action is against the thing itself instead of against
by conveniently omitting the said amount in their amended complaint. This estimate can be made the the person.27 Furthermore, there is no showing that the parcels of land involved in this case are being
basis for the initial docket fees that respondents should pay. Even if it were later established that the disputed. In fact, it is only incidental that part of the assets of the partnership under liquidation happen to
amount proved was less or more than the amount alleged or estimated, Rule 141, Section 5(a) of the be parcels of land.
Rules of Court specifically provides that the court may refund the 'excess or exact additional fees should The time-tested case of Claridades v. Mercader, et al.,28 settled this issue thus:
the initial payment be insufficient. It is clear that it is only the difference between the amount finally The fact that plaintiff prays for the sale of the assets of the partnership, including the fishpond
awarded and the fees paid upon filing of this complaint that is subject to adjustment and which may be in question, did not change the nature or character of the action, such sale being merely a
subjected to alien. necessary incident of the liquidation of the partnership, which should precede and/or is part of
In the oft-quoted case of Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Hon. Maximiano Asuncion,22 this Court held that its process of dissolution.
when the specific claim "has been left for the determination by the court, the additional filing fee The action filed by respondents not only seeks redress against petitioner. It also seeks the enforcement
therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment and it shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or of, and petitioner's compliance with, the contract that the partners executed to formalize the
his duly authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee." Clearly, the partnership's dissolution, as well as to implement the liquidation and partition of the partnership's assets.
rules and jurisprudence contemplate the initial payment of filing and docket fees based on the estimated Clearly, it is a personal action that, in effect, claims a debt from petitioner and seeks the performance of a
claims of the plaintiff, and it is only when there is a deficiency that a lien may be constituted on the personal duty on his part.29 In fine, respondents' complaint seeking the liquidation and partition of the
judgment award until such additional fee is collected. assets of the partnership with damages is a personal action which may be filed in the proper court where
Based on the foregoing, the trial court erred in not dismissing the complaint outright despite their failure any of the parties reside.30 Besides, venue has nothing to do with jurisdiction for venue touches more
to pay the proper docket fees. Nevertheless, as in other procedural rules, it may be liberally construed in upon the substance or merits of the case.31 As it is, venue in this case was properly laid and the trial court
certain cases if only to secure a just and speedy disposition of an action. While the rule is that the correctly ruled so.
payment of the docket fee in the proper amount should be adhered to, there are certain exceptions On the third issue, petitioner asserts that the surviving spouse of Vicente Tabanao has no legal capacity
which must be strictly construed.23 to sue since she was never appointed as administratrix or executrix of his estate. Petitioner's objection in
In recent rulings, this Court has relaxed the strict adherence to the Manchester doctrine, allowing the this regard is misplaced. The surviving spouse does not need to be appointed as executrix or
plaintiff to pay the proper docket fees within a reasonable time before the expiration of the applicable administratrix of the estate before she can file the action. She and her children are complainants in their
prescriptive or reglementary period.24 own right as successors of Vicente Tabanao. From the very moment of Vicente Tabanao' s death, his
In the recent case of National Steel Corp. v. Court of Appeals,25 this Court held that: rights insofar as the partnership was concerned were transmitted to his heirs, for rights to the succession
The court acquires jurisdiction over the action if the filing of the initiatory pleading is are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent.32
accompanied by the payment of the requisite fees, or, if the fees are not paid at the time of Whatever claims and rights Vicente Tabanao had against the partnership and petitioner were
the filing of the pleading, as of the time of full payment of the fees within such reasonable transmitted to respondents by operation of law, more particularly by succession, which is a mode of
time as the court may grant, unless, of course, prescription has set in the meantime. acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the
It does not follow, however, that the trial court should have dismissed the complaint for failure inheritance of a person are transmitted.33Moreover, respondents became owners of their respective
of private respondent to pay the correct amount of docket fees. Although the payment of the hereditary shares from the moment Vicente Tabanao died.34
proper docket fees is a jurisdictional requirement, the trial court may allow the plaintiff in an A prior settlement of the estate, or even the appointment of Salvacion Tabanao as executrix or
action to pay the same within a reasonable time before the expiration of the applicable administratrix, is not necessary for any of the heirs to acquire legal capacity to sue. As successors who
prescriptive or reglementary period. If the plaintiff fails to comply within this requirement, the stepped into the shoes of their decedent upon his death, they can commence any action originally
defendant should timely raise the issue of jurisdiction or else he would be considered in pertaining to the decedent.35 From the moment of his death, his rights as a partner and to demand
estoppel. In the latter case, the balance between the appropriate docket fees and the amount fulfillment of petitioner's obligations as outlined in their dissolution agreement were transmitted to
actually paid by the plaintiff will be considered a lien or any award he may obtain in his favor. respondents. They, therefore, had the capacity to sue and seek the court's intervention to compel
(Underscoring ours) petitioner to fulfill his obligations.
Accordingly, the trial court in the case at bar should determine the proper docket fee based on the Finally, petitioner contends that the trial court should have dismissed the complaint on the ground of
estimated amount that respondents seek to collect from petitioner, and direct them to pay the same prescription, arguing that respondents' action prescribed four (4) years after it accrued in 1986. The trial
within a reasonable time, provided the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period has not yet court and the Court of Appeals gave scant consideration to petitioner's hollow arguments, and rightly so.
expired, Failure to comply therewith, and upon motion by petitioner, the immediate dismissal of the The three (3) final stages of a partnership are: (1) dissolution; (2) winding-up; and (3) termination.36 The
complaint shall issue on jurisdictional grounds. partnership, although dissolved, continues to exist and its legal personality is retained, at which time it
On the matter of improper venue, we find no error on the part of the trial court and the Court of Appeals completes the winding up of its affairs, including the partitioning and distribution of the net partnership
in holding that the case below is a personal action which, under the Rules, may be commenced and tried assets to the partners.37 For as long as the partnership exists, any of the partners may demand an
where the defendant resides or may be found, or where the plaintiffs reside, at the election of the accounting of the partnership's business. Prescription of the said right starts to run only upon the
latter.26 dissolution of the partnership when the final accounting is done. 38
Petitioner, however, insists that venue was improperly laid since the action is a real action involving a Contrary to petitioner's protestations that respondents' right to inquire into the business affairs of the
parcel of land that is located outside the territorial jurisdiction of the court a quo. This contention is not partnership accrued in 1986, prescribing four (4) years thereafter, prescription had not even begun to run
well-taken. The records indubitably show that respondents are asking that the assets of the partnership in the absence of a final accounting. Article 1842 of the Civil Code provides:
be accounted for, sold and distributed according to the agreement of the partners. The fact that two of
The right to an account of his interest shall accrue to any partner, or his legal representative as original heir should die before him/her, renounce the inheritance or be incapacitated to inherit, as in a
against the winding up partners or the surviving partners or the person or partnership simple substitution, or (2) leave his/her property to one person with the express charge that it be
continuing the business, at the date of dissolution, in the absence of any agreement to the transmitted subsequently to another or others, as in a fideicommissary substitution.
contrary.
Same; Same; Same; In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the inheritance in default of the first
Applied in relation to Articles 1807 and 1809, which also deal with the duty to account, the above-cited
provision states that the right to demand an accounting accrues at the date of dissolution in the absence heir by reason of incapacity, predecease or renunciation.—In simple substitutions, the second heir takes
of any agreement to the contrary. When a final accounting is made, it is only then that prescription the inheritance in default of the first heir by reason of incapacity, predecease or renunciation. In the case
begins to run. In the case at bar, no final accounting has been made, and that is precisely what under consideration, the provisions of subject Codicil do not provide that should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla
respondents are seeking in their action before the trial court, since petitioner has failed or refused to default due to predecease, incapacity or renunciation, the testatrix’s near descendants would substitute
render an accounting of the partnership's business and assets. Hence, the said action is not barred by him. What the Codicil provides is that, should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the conditions
prescription. imposed in the Codicil, the property referred to shall be seized and turned over to the testatrix’s near
In fine, the trial court neither erred nor abused its discretion when it denied petitioner's motions to
descendants.
dismiss. Likewise, the Court of Appeals did not commit reversible error in upholding the trial court's
orders. Precious time has been lost just to settle this preliminary issue, with petitioner resurrecting the Same; Same; Same; In a fideicommissary substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to preserve the
very same arguments from the trial court all the way up to the Supreme Court. The litigation of the property and to transmit the same later to the second heir; Without the obligation to preserve clearly
merits and substantial issues of this controversy is now long overdue and must proceed without further imposed by the testator in his will, there is no fideicommissary substitution.—In a fideicommissary
delay. substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to preserve the property and to transmit the same later to
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit, and the case the second heir. In the case under consideration, the instituted heir is in fact allowed under the Codicil to
is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Cadiz City, Branch 60, which is ORDERED to determine the alienate the property provided the negotiation is with the near descendants or the sister of the testatrix.
proper docket fee based on the estimated amount that plaintiffs therein seek to collect, and direct said
Thus, a very important element of a fideicommissary substitution is lacking; the obligation clearly
plaintiffs to pay the same within a reasonable time, provided the applicable prescriptive or reglementary
period has not yet expired. Thereafter, the trial court is ORDERED to conduct the appropriate imposing upon the first heir the preservation of the property and its transmission to the second heir.
proceedings in Civil Case No. 416-C. “Without this obligation to preserve clearly imposed by the testator in his will, there is no
Costs against petitioner.1âwphi1.nêt fideicommissary substitution.” Also, the near descendants’ right to inherit from the testatrix is not
SO ORDERED. definite. The property will only pass to them should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the
obligation to deliver part of the usufruct to private respondent.
G.R. No. 113725. June 29, 2000.* Same; Same; Same; A fideicommissary substitution is therefore, void if the first heir is not related by first
JOHNNY S. RABADILLA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND MARIA MARLENA 2 degree to the second heir.—Another important element of a fideicommissary substitution is also missing
COSCOLUELLA Y BELLEZA VILLACARLOS, respondents. here. Under Article 863, the second heir or the fideicommissary to whom the property is transmitted
Civil Law; Succession; Wills; Successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the must not be beyond one degree from the first heir or the fiduciary. A fideicommissary substitution is
decedent and compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law.—It is a general rule under the therefore, void if the first heir is not related by first degree to the second heir. In the case under scrutiny,
law on succession that successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent the near descendants are not at all related to the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla.
and compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law. The legitimate children and descendants, Same; Same; Same; Distinction between modal institution and conditional testamentary disposition.—
in relation to their legitimate parents, and the widow or widower, are compulsory heirs. Thus, the The institution of an heir in the manner prescribed in Article 882 is what is known in the law of succession
petitioner, his mother and sisters, as compulsory heirs of the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, as an institucion sub modo or a modal institution. In a modal institution, the testator states (1) the, object
succeeded the latter by operation of law, without need of further proceedings, and the successional of the institution, the purpose or application of the property left by the testator, or the charge imposed
rights were transmitted to them from the moment of death of the decedent, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. by the testator upon the heir. A “mode” imposes an obligation upon the heir or legatee but it does not
Same; Same; Same; Inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a person, not affect the efficacy of his rights to the succession. On the other hand, in a conditional testamentary
extinguished by his death.—Under Article 776 of the New Civil Code, inheritance includes all the property, disposition, the condition must happen or be fulfilled in order for the heir to be entitled to succeed the
rights and obligations of a person, not extinguished by his death. Conformably, whatever rights Dr. Jorge testator. The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the mode obligates but does not suspend.
Rabadilla had by virtue of subject Codicil were transmitted to his forced heirs, at the time of his death. To some extent, it is similar to a resolutory condition.
And since obligations not extinguished by death also form part of the estate of the decedent; corollarily, Same; Same; Same; In case of doubt, the institution should be considered as modal and not
the obligations imposed by the Codicil on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were likewise transmitted to conditional.—Then too, since testamentary dispositions are generally acts of liberality, an obligation
his compulsory heirs upon his death. imposed upon the heir should not be considered a condition unless it clearly appears from the Will itself
Same; Same; Same; Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or persons to take the that such was the intention of the testator. In case of doubt, the institution should be considered as
place of the heir or heirs first instituted.—Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or modal and not conditional.
persons to take the place of the heir or heirs first instituted. Under substitutions in general, the testator Same; Same; Same; In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises on the face of the Will, the
may either (1) provide for the designation of another heir to whom the property shall pass in case the testator’s intention is to be ascertained from the words of the Will, taking into consideration the
circumstances under which it was made.—In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises on (b) That should Jorge Rabadilla die ahead of me, the aforementioned property and the rights
the face of the Will, as to the application of any of its provisions, the testator’s intention is to be which I shall set forth hereinbelow, shall be inherited and acknowledged by the children and
ascertained from the words of the Will, taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was spouse of Jorge Rabadilla.
xxx
made. Such construction as will sustain and uphold the Will in all its parts must be adopted.
FOURTH
Same; Same; Same; A Will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a person disposes of his (a)....It is also my command, in this my addition (Codicil), that should I die and Jorge Rabadilla shall have
property, to take effect after his death.—Suffice it to state that a Will is a personal, solemn, revocable already received the ownership of the said Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer
and free act by which a person disposes of his property, to take effect after his death. Since the Will Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10942), and also at the time that the lease of Balbinito G. Guanzon of
expresses the manner in which a person intends how his properties be disposed, the wishes and desires the said lot shall expire, Jorge Rabadilla shall have the obligation until he dies, every year to give to Maria
of the testator must be strictly followed. Thus, a Will cannot be the subject of a compromise agreement Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, Seventy (75) (sic) piculs of Export sugar and Twenty Five (25) piculs of
which would thereby defeat the very purpose of making a Will. Domestic sugar, until the said Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza dies.
FIFTH
VITUG, J., Separate Opinion:
(a) Should Jorge Rabadilla die, his heir to whom he shall give Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre,
Civil Law; Succession; Wills; There is no simple substitution that takes place where the heir originally covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10492), shall have the obligation to still give yearly,
instituted is able to succeed.—Substitution is the appointment of another heir so that he may enter into the sugar as specified in the Fourth paragraph of his testament, to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza on
the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted. Substitution is simple when the testator the month of December of each year.
designates one or more persons to substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case the latter should die SIXTH
before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept the inheritance, and a substitution I command, in this my addition (Codicil) that the Lot No. 1392, in the event that the one to whom I have
without a statement of the cases to which it refers shall comprise all said three cases. There is no simple left and bequeathed, and his heir shall later sell, lease, mortgage this said Lot, the buyer, lessee,
mortgagee, shall have also the obligation to respect and deliver yearly ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of
substitution that takes place where the heir originally instituted is able to succeed. Fideicommissary
sugar to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, on each month of December, SEVENTY FIVE (75) piculs of
substitution, on the other hand, occurs when the fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted with the Export and TWENTY FIVE (25) piculs of Domestic, until Maria Marlina shall die, lastly should the buyer,
obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of the inheritance. Every lessee or the mortgagee of this lot, not have respected my command in this my addition (Codicil), Maria
fideicommissary substitution should be expressly made in order that it may be valid. The term Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, shall immediately seize this Lot No. 1392 from my heir and the latter's
“fideicommissary substitution” need not, however, be used in the will; it is enough that there is a clear heirs, and shall turn it over to my near desendants, (sic) and the latter shall then have the obligation to
and unequivocal statement that one shall enjoy usufructuary or other rights, short of naked ownership or give the ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar until Maria Marlina shall die. I further command in this my
addition (Codicil) that my heir and his heirs of this Lot No. 1392, that they will obey and follow that
title, over certain property of the testator with the obligation to preserve the property and to transmit it
should they decide to sell, lease, mortgage, they cannot negotiate with others than my near descendants
to a second heir. It is essential for the validity of a fideicommissary substitution that both heirs are living and my sister."4
and qualified to succeed at the time of death by the testator and that the substitute does not go beyond Pursuant to the same Codicil, Lot No. 1392 was transferred to the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and
one degree from the heir originally instituted. The term “one degree” has been the subject of varied Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44498 thereto issued in his name.
interpretation. Dr. Jorge Rabadilla died in 1983 and was survived by his wife Rufina and children Johnny (petitioner),
Aurora, Ofelia and Zenaida, all surnamed Rabadilla.
PURISIMA, J.: On August 21, 1989, Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza Villacarlos brought a complaint, docketed as
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, 3 dated December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. Civil Case No. 5588, before Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, against the above-
No. CV-35555, which set aside the decision of Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, and mentioned heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to enforce the provisions of subject Codicil. The Complaint
ordered the defendants-appellees (including herein petitioner), as heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey alleged that the defendant-heirs violated the conditions of the Codicil, in that:
title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza. 1. Lot No. 1392 was mortgaged to the Philippine National Bank and the Republic Planters
The antecedent facts are as follows: Bank in disregard of the testatrix's specific instruction to sell, lease, or mortgage only to the
In a Codicil appended to the Last Will and Testament of testatrix Aleja Belleza, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, near descendants and sister of the testatrix.
predecessor-in-interest of the herein petitioner, Johnny S. Rabadilla, was instituted as a devisee of 511, 2. Defendant-heirs failed to comply with their obligation to deliver one hundred (100) piculs of
855 square meters of that parcel of land surveyed as Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre. The said sugar (75 piculs export sugar and 25 piculs domestic sugar) to plaintiff Maria Marlena
Codicil, which was duly probated and admitted in Special Proceedings No. 4046 before the then Court of Coscolluela y Belleza from sugar crop years 1985 up to the filing of the complaint as mandated
First Instance of Negros Occidental, contained the following provisions: by the Codicil, despite repeated demands for compliance.
"FIRST 3. The banks failed to comply with the 6th paragraph of the Codicil which provided that in case
I give, leave and bequeath the following property owned by me to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla resident of 141 P. of the sale, lease, or mortgage of the property, the buyer, lessee, or mortgagee shall likewise
Villanueva, Pasay City: have the obligation to deliver 100 piculs of sugar per crop year to herein private respondent.
(a) Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 The plaintiff then prayed that judgment be rendered ordering defendant-heirs to reconvey/return-Lot
(10942), which is registered in my name according to the records of the Register of Deeds of No. 1392 to the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza, the cancellation of TCT No. 44498 in the name of
Negros Occidental. the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the names of the
surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza.
On February 26, 1990, the defendant-heirs were declared in default but on March 28, 1990 the Order of enforce her right, reserved to her by the codicil, to receive her legacy of 100 piculs of sugar per year out of
Default was lifted, with respect to defendant Johnny S. Rabadilla, who filed his Answer, accordingly. the produce of Lot No. 1392 until she dies.
During the pre-trial, the parties admitted that: Accordingly, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and another one entered ordering defendants-
On November 15, 1998, the plaintiff (private respondent) and a certain Alan Azurin, son-in-law of the appellees, as heirs of Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and
herein petitioner who was lessee of the property and acting as attorney-in-fact of defendant-heirs, interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza.
arrived at an amicable settlement and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement on the obligation to SO ORDERED."7
deliver one hundred piculs of sugar, to the following effect: Dissatisfied with the aforesaid disposition by the Court of Appeals, petitioner found his way to this
"That for crop year 1988-89, the annuity mentioned in Entry No. 49074 of TCT No. 44489 will be Court via the present petition, contending that the Court of Appeals erred in ordering the reversion of Lot
delivered not later than January of 1989, more specifically, to wit: 1392 to the estate of the testatrix Aleja Belleza on the basis of paragraph 6 of the Codicil, and in ruling
75 piculs of 'A' sugar, and 25 piculs of 'B' sugar, or then existing in any of our names, Mary Rose Rabadilla that the testamentary institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla is a modal institution within the purview of Article
y Azurin or Alan Azurin, during December of each sugar crop year, in Azucar Sugar Central; and, this is 882 of the New Civil Code.
considered compliance of the annuity as mentioned, and in the same manner will compliance of the The petition is not impressed with merit.
annuity be in the next succeeding crop years. Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in resolving the appeal in accordance with Article 882
That the annuity above stated for crop year 1985-86, 1986-87, and 1987-88, will be complied in cash of the New Civil Code on modal institutions and in deviating from the sole issue raised which is the
equivalent of the number of piculs as mentioned therein and which is as herein agreed upon, taking into absence or prematurity of the cause of action. Petitioner maintains that Article 882 does not find
consideration the composite price of sugar during each sugar crop year, which is in the total amount of application as there was no modal institution and the testatrix intended a mere simple substitution - i.e.
ONE HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P105,000.00). the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, was to be substituted by the testatrix's "near descendants" should
That the above-mentioned amount will be paid or delivered on a staggered cash installment, payable on the obligation to deliver the fruits to herein private respondent be not complied with. And since the
or before the end of December of every sugar crop year, to wit: testatrix died single and without issue, there can be no valid substitution and such testamentary
For 1985-86, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before provision cannot be given any effect.
December of crop year 1988-89; The petitioner theorizes further that there can be no valid substitution for the reason that the substituted
For 1986-87, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before heirs are not definite, as the substituted heirs are merely referred to as "near descendants" without a
December of crop year 1989-90; definite identity or reference as to who are the "near descendants" and therefore, under Articles 8438 and
For 1987-88, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before 8459 of the New Civil Code, the substitution should be deemed as not written.
December of crop year 1990-91; and The contentions of petitioner are untenable. Contrary to his supposition that the Court of Appeals
For 1988-89, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before deviated from the issue posed before it, which was the propriety of the dismissal of the complaint on the
December of crop year 1991-92."5 ground of prematurity of cause of action, there was no such deviation. The Court of Appeals found that
However, there was no compliance with the aforesaid Memorandum of Agreement except for a partial the private respondent had a cause of action against the petitioner. The disquisition made on modal
delivery of 50.80 piculs of sugar corresponding to sugar crop year 1988 -1989. institution was, precisely, to stress that the private respondent had a legally demandable right against
On July 22, 1991, the Regional Trial Court came out with a decision, dismissing the complaint and the petitioner pursuant to subject Codicil; on which issue the Court of Appeals ruled in accordance with
disposing as follows: law.
"WHEREFORE, in the light of the aforegoing findings, the Court finds that the action is prematurely filed It is a general rule under the law on succession that successional rights are transmitted from the moment
as no cause of action against the defendants has as yet arose in favor of plaintiff. While there maybe the of death of the decedent10 and compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law. The legitimate
non-performance of the command as mandated exaction from them simply because they are the children and descendants, in relation to their legitimate parents, and the widow or widower, are
children of Jorge Rabadilla, the title holder/owner of the lot in question, does not warrant the filing of the compulsory heirs.11 Thus, the petitioner, his mother and sisters, as compulsory heirs of the instituted heir,
present complaint. The remedy at bar must fall. Incidentally, being in the category as creditor of the left Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, succeeded the latter by operation of law, without need of further proceedings, and
estate, it is opined that plaintiff may initiate the intestate proceedings, if only to establish the heirs of the successional rights were transmitted to them from the moment of death of the decedent, Dr. Jorge
Jorge Rabadilla and in order to give full meaning and semblance to her claim under the Codicil. Rabadilla.
In the light of the aforegoing findings, the Complaint being prematurely filed is DISMISSED without Under Article 776 of the New Civil Code, inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a
prejudice. person, not extinguished by his death. Conformably, whatever rights Dr. Jorge Rabadilla had by virtue of
SO ORDERED."6 subject Codicil were transmitted to his forced heirs, at the time of his death. And since obligations not
On appeal by plaintiff, the First Division of the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court; extinguished by death also form part of the estate of the decedent; corollarily, the obligations imposed
ratiocinating and ordering thus: by the Codicil on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were likewise transmitted to his compulsory heirs
"Therefore, the evidence on record having established plaintiff-appellant's right to receive 100 piculs of upon his death.
sugar annually out of the produce of Lot No. 1392; defendants-appellee's obligation under Aleja Belleza's In the said Codicil, testatrix Aleja Belleza devised Lot No. 1392 to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, subject to the
codicil, as heirs of the modal heir, Jorge Rabadilla, to deliver such amount of sugar to plaintiff-appellant; condition that the usufruct thereof would be delivered to the herein private respondent every year. Upon
defendants-appellee's admitted non-compliance with said obligation since 1985; and, the punitive the death of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his compulsory heirs succeeded to his rights and title over the said
consequences enjoined by both the codicil and the Civil Code, of seizure of Lot No. 1392 and its reversion property, and they also assumed his (decedent's) obligation to deliver the fruits of the lot involved to
to the estate of Aleja Belleza in case of such non-compliance, this Court deems it proper to order the herein private respondent. Such obligation of the instituted heir reciprocally corresponds to the right of
reconveyance of title over Lot No. 1392 from the estates of Jorge Rabadilla to the estate of Aleja Belleza. private respondent over the usufruct, the fulfillment or performance of which is now being demanded by
However, plaintiff-appellant must institute separate proceedings to re-open Aleja Belleza's estate, secure the latter through the institution of the case at bar. Therefore, private respondent has a cause of action
the appointment of an administrator, and distribute Lot No. 1392 to Aleja Belleza's legal heirs in order to against petitioner and the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint below.
Petitioner also theorizes that Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal institutions is not applicable From the provisions of the Codicil litigated upon, it can be gleaned unerringly that the testatrix intended
because what the testatrix intended was a substitution - Dr. Jorge Rabadilla was to be substituted by the that subject property be inherited by Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. It is likewise clearly worded that the testatrix
testatrix's near descendants should there be noncompliance with the obligation to deliver the piculs of imposed an obligation on the said instituted heir and his successors-in-interest to deliver one hundred
sugar to private respondent. piculs of sugar to the herein private respondent, Marlena Coscolluela Belleza, during the lifetime of the
Again, the contention is without merit. latter. However, the testatrix did not make Dr. Jorge Rabadilla's inheritance and the effectivity of his
Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or persons to take the place of the heir or heirs institution as a devisee, dependent on the performance of the said obligation. It is clear, though, that
first instituted. Under substitutions in general, the testator may either (1) provide for the designation of should the obligation be not complied with, the property shall be turned over to the testatrix's near
another heir to whom the property shall pass in case the original heir should die before him/her, descendants. The manner of institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is evidently modal in
renounce the inheritance or be incapacitated to inherit, as in a simple substitution, 12 or (2) leave his/her nature because it imposes a charge upon the instituted heir without, however, affecting the efficacy of
property to one person with the express charge that it be transmitted subsequently to another or others, such institution.
as in a fideicommissary substitution.13 The Codicil sued upon contemplates neither of the two. Then too, since testamentary dispositions are generally acts of liberality, an obligation imposed upon the
In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the inheritance in default of the first heir by reason of heir should not be considered a condition unless it clearly appears from the Will itself that such was the
incapacity, predecease or renunciation.14 In the case under consideration, the provisions of subject intention of the testator. In case of doubt, the institution should be considered as modal and not
Codicil do not provide that should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla default due to predecease, incapacity or conditional.22
renunciation, the testatrix's near descendants would substitute him. What the Codicil provides is that, Neither is there tenability in the other contention of petitioner that the private respondent has only a
should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the conditions imposed in the Codicil, the property right of usufruct but not the right to seize the property itself from the instituted heir because the right to
referred to shall be seized and turned over to the testatrix's near descendants. seize was expressly limited to violations by the buyer, lessee or mortgagee.
Neither is there a fideicommissary substitution here and on this point, petitioner is correct. In a In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises on the face of the Will, as to the application of
fideicommissary substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to preserve the property and to any of its provisions, the testator's intention is to be ascertained from the words of the Will, taking into
transmit the same later to the second heir.15 In the case under consideration, the instituted heir is in fact consideration the circumstances under which it was made.23 Such construction as will sustain and uphold
allowed under the Codicil to alienate the property provided the negotiation is with the near descendants the Will in all its parts must be adopted.24
or the sister of the testatrix. Thus, a very important element of a fideicommissary substitution is lacking; Subject Codicil provides that the instituted heir is under obligation to deliver One Hundred (100) piculs of
the obligation clearly imposing upon the first heir the preservation of the property and its transmission to sugar yearly to Marlena Belleza Coscuella. Such obligation is imposed on the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge
the second heir. "Without this obligation to preserve clearly imposed by the testator in his will, there is no Rabadilla, his heirs, and their buyer, lessee, or mortgagee should they sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise
fideicommissary substitution."16 Also, the near descendants' right to inherit from the testatrix is not negotiate the property involved. The Codicil further provides that in the event that the obligation to
definite. The property will only pass to them should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the deliver the sugar is not respected, Marlena Belleza Coscuella shall seize the property and turn it over to
obligation to deliver part of the usufruct to private respondent. the testatrix's near descendants. The non-performance of the said obligation is thus with the sanction of
Another important element of a fideicommissary substitution is also missing here. Under Article 863, the seizure of the property and reversion thereof to the testatrix's near descendants. Since the said
second heir or the fideicommissary to whom the property is transmitted must not be beyond one degree obligation is clearly imposed by the testatrix, not only on the instituted heir but also on his successors-in-
from the first heir or the fiduciary. A fideicommissary substitution is therefore, void if the first heir is not interest, the sanction imposed by the testatrix in case of non-fulfillment of said obligation should equally
related by first degree to the second heir.17 In the case under scrutiny, the near descendants are not at all apply to the instituted heir and his successors-in-interest.
related to the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. Similarly unsustainable is petitioner's submission that by virtue of the amicable settlement, the said
The Court of Appeals erred not in ruling that the institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is obligation imposed by the Codicil has been assumed by the lessee, and whatever obligation petitioner
in the nature of a modal institution and therefore, Article 882 of the New Civil Code is the provision of law had become the obligation of the lessee; that petitioner is deemed to have made a substantial and
in point. Articles 882 and 883 of the New Civil Code provide: constructive compliance of his obligation through the consummated settlement between the lessee and
Art. 882. The statement of the object of the institution or the application of the property left by the the private respondent, and having consummated a settlement with the petitioner, the recourse of the
testator, or the charge imposed on him, shall not be considered as a condition unless it appears that such private respondent is the fulfillment of the obligation under the amicable settlement and not the seizure
was his intention. of subject property.
That which has been left in this manner may be claimed at once provided that the instituted heir or his Suffice it to state that a Will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a person disposes of
heirs give security for compliance with the wishes of the testator and for the return of anything he or they his property, to take effect after his death.25 Since the Will expresses the manner in which a person
may receive, together with its fruits and interests, if he or they should disregard this obligation. intends how his properties be disposed, the wishes and desires of the testator must be strictly followed.
Art. 883. When without the fault of the heir, an institution referred to in the preceding article cannot take Thus, a Will cannot be the subject of a compromise agreement which would thereby defeat the very
effect in the exact manner stated by the testator, it shall be complied with in a manner most analogous purpose of making a Will.
to and in conformity with his wishes. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated
The institution of an heir in the manner prescribed in Article 882 is what is known in the law of succession December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555 AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs
as an institucion sub modo or a modal institution. In a modal institution, the testator states (1) the object SO ORDERED.
of the institution, (2) the purpose or application of the property left by the testator, or (3) the charge
imposed by the testator upon the heir.18 A "mode" imposes an obligation upon the heir or legatee but it G.R. No. 104482. January 22, 1996.*
does not affect the efficacy of his rights to the succession.19 On the other hand, in a conditional BELINDA TAÑEDO, for herself and in representation of her brothers and sisters, and TEOFILA
testamentary disposition, the condition must happen or be fulfilled in order for the heir to be entitled to
CORPUZ TAÑEDO, representing her minor daughter VERNA TAÑEDO, petitioners, vs. THE COURT
succeed the testator. The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the mode obligates but does not
suspend.20 To some extent, it is similar to a resolutory condition.21 OF APPEALS, SPOUSES RICARDO M. TAÑEDO AND TERESITA BARERA TAÑEDO, respondents.
Appeals; Petition for Review on Certiorari; Supreme Court; The “errors” which are reviewable by the of judgment, and unless the lack of any basis for the conclusions made by the lower courts be amply
Supreme Court in a petition for review on certiorari from a decision of the Court of Appeals are only those demonstrated, the Supreme Court will not disturb their findings.
committed by said court, and not directly those of the trial court.—At the outset, let it be clear that the Same; Evidence; The mere fact that a party’s evidence was not believed by both the trial court and the
“errors” which are reviewable by this Court in this petition for review on certiorari are only those allegedly appellate courts, and that the said courts tended to give more credence to the evidence presented by the
committed by the respondent Court of Appeals and not directly those of the trial court, which is not a other party, is in itself not a reason for setting aside such courts’ findings.—At most, it appears that
party here. The “assignment of errors” in the petition quoted above are therefore totally misplaced, and petitioners have shown that their evidence was not believed by both the trial and the appellate courts,
for that reason, the petition should be dismissed. But in order to give the parties substantial justice we and that the said courts tended to give more credence to the evidence presented by private respondents.
have decided to delve into the issues as above re-stated. The errors attributed by petitioners to the latter But this in itself is not a reason for setting aside such findings. We are far from convinced that both courts
(trial) court will be discussed only insofar as they are relevant to the appellate court’s assailed Decision gravely abused their respective authorities and judicial prerogatives.
and Resolution.
Succession; Contracts; Sales; No contract may be entered into upon a future inheritance except in cases PANGANIBAN, J.:
expressly authorized by law—such a contract is not valid and cannot be the source of any right nor the Is a sale of future inheritance valid? In multiple sales of the same real property, who has preference in
creator of any obligation between the parties.—The sale made in 1962 involving future inheritance is not ownership? What is the probative value of the lower court's finding of good faith in registration of such
sales in the registry of property? These are the main questions raised in this Petition for review
really at issue here. In context, the assailed Decision conceded “it may be legally correct that a contract
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court to set aside and reverse the Decision 1 of the Court of
of sale of anticipated future inheritance is null and void.” But to remove all doubts, we hereby Appeals2 in CA-G.R. CV NO. 24987 promulgated on September 26, 1991 affirming the decision of the
categorically rule that, pursuant to Article 1347 of the Civil Code, “(n)o contract may be entered into upon Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Third Judicial Region, Tarlac, Tarlac in Civil Case No. 6328, and its
a future inheritance except in cases expressly authorized by law.” Consequently, said contract made in Resolution denying reconsideration thereof, promulgated on May 27, 1992.
1962 is not valid and cannot be the source of any right nor the creator of any obligation between the By the Court's Resolution on October 25, 1995, this case (along with several others) was transferred from
parties. the First to the Third Division and after due deliberation, the Court assigned it to the
Same; Same; Same; An “affidavit of conformity” seeking to validate or ratify a sale of future inheritance undersigned ponente for the writing of this Decision.
The Facts
is useless.—Hence, the “affidavit of conformity” dated February 28, 1980, insofar as it sought to validate
On October 20, 1962, Lazardo Tañedo executed a notarized deed of absolute sale in favor of his eldest
or ratify the 1962 sale, is also useless and, in the words of the respondent Court, “suffers from the same brother, Ricardo Tañedo, and the latter's wife, Teresita Barera, private respondents herein, whereby he
infirmity.” Even private respondents in their memorandum concede this. conveyed to the latter in consideration of P1,500.00, "one hectare of whatever share I shall have over Lot
Land Registration; Sales; Ownership; Ownership in an immovable shall belong to the buyer who in good No. 191 of the cadastral survey of Gerona, Province of Tarlac and covered by Title T-13829 of the Register
faith registers it first in the registry of property.—The property in question is land, an immovable, and of Deeds of Tarlac", the said property being his "future inheritance" from his parents (Exh. 1). Upon the
following the above-quoted law, ownership shall belong to the buyer who in good faith registers it first in death of his father Matias, Lazaro executed an "Affidavit of Conformity" dated February 28, 1980 (Exh. 3)
the registry of property. Thus, although the deed of sale in favor of private respondents was later than to "re-affirm, respect, acknowledge and validate the sale I made in 1962." On January 13, 1981, Lazaro
executed another notarized deed of sale in favor of private respondents covering his "undivided ONE
the one in favor of petitioners, ownership would vest in the former because of the undisputed fact of
TWELVE (1/12) of a parcel of land known as Lot 191 . . . " (Exh. 4). He acknowledged therein his receipt of
registration. On the other hand, petitioners have not registered the sale to them at all. P10,000.00 as consideration therefor. In February 1981, Ricardo learned that Lazaro sold the same
Same; Same; Same; Possession; As between two purchasers, the one who registered the sale in his favor property to his children, petitioners herein, through a deed of sale dated December 29, 1980 (Exh. E). On
has a preferred right over the other who has not registered his title, even if the latter is in actual June 7, 1982, private respondents recorded the Deed of Sale (Exh. 4) in their favor in the Registry of
possession of the immovable property.—Petitioners contend that they were in possession of the Deeds and the corresponding entry was made in Transfer Certificate of Title No. 166451 (Exh. 5).
property and that private respondents never took possession thereof. As between two purchasers, the Petitioners on July 16, 1982 filed a complaint for rescission (plus damages) of the deeds of sale executed
by Lazaro in favor of private respondents covering the property inherited by Lazaro from his father.
one who registered the sale in his favor has a preferred right over the other who has not registered his
Petitioners claimed that their father, Lazaro, executed an "Absolute Deed of Sale" dated December 29,
title, even if the latter is in actual possession of the immovable property. 1980 (Exit. E). Conveying to his ten children his allotted portion tinder the extrajudicial partition executed
Appeals; Petition for Review on Certiorari; In petitions for review under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of by the heirs of Matias, which deed included the land in litigation (Lot 191).
Court, only questions of law may be raised and passed upon, and absent any whimsical or capricious Petitioners also presented in evidence: (1) a private writing purportedly prepared and signed by Matias
exercise of judgment, and unless the lack of any basis for the conclusions made by the lower courts be dated December 28, 1978, stating that it was his desire that whatever inheritance Lazaro would receive
amply demonstrated, the Supreme Court will not disturb their findings.—To be sure, there are indeed from him should be given to his (Lazaro's) children (Exh. A); (2) a typewritten document dated March 10,
many conflicting documents and testimonies as well as arguments over their probative value and 1979 signed by Lazaro in the presence of two witnesses, wherein he confirmed that he would voluntarily
abide by the wishes of his father, Matias, to give to his (Lazaro's) children all the property he would
significance. Suffice it to say, however, that all the above contentions involve questions of fact,
inherit from the latter (Exh. B); and (3) a letter dated January 1, 1980 of Lazaro to his daughter, Carmela,
appreciation of evidence and credibility of witnesses, which are not proper in this review. It is well-settled stating that his share in the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of his father was intended for his
that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. In petitions for review under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of children, petitioners herein (Exh. C).
Court, only questions of law may be raised and passed upon. Absent any whimsical or capricious exercise
Private respondents, however presented in evidence a "Deed of Revocation of a Deed of Sale" dated Hence, the "affidavit of conformity" dated February 28, 1980, insofar as it sought to validate or ratify the
March 12, 1981 (Exh. 6), wherein Lazaro revoked the sale in favor of petitioners for the reason that it was 1962 sale, is also useless and, in the words of the respondent Court, "suffers from the same infirmity."
"simulated or fictitious without any consideration whatsoever". Even private respondents in their memorandum4 concede this.
Shortly after the case a quo was filed, Lazaro executed a sworn statement (Exh. G) which virtually However, the documents that are critical to the resolution of this case are: (a) the deed of sale of January
repudiated the contents of the Deed of Revocation of a Deed of Sale (Exh. 6) and the Deed of Sale (Exh. 13, 1981 in favor of private respondents covering Lazaro's undivided inheritance of one-twelfth (1/12)
4) in favor of private respondents. However, Lazaro testified that he sold the property to Ricardo, and share in Lot No. 191, which was subsequently registered on June 7, 1982; and (b) the deed of sale dated
that it was a lawyer who induced him to execute a deed of sale in favor of his children after giving him December 29, 1980 in favor of petitioners covering the same property. These two documents were
five pesos (P5.00) to buy a "drink" (TSN September 18, 1985, pp. 204-205). executed after the death of Matias (and his spouse) and after a deed of extra-judicial settlement of his
The trial court decided in favor of private respondents, holding that petitioners failed "to adduce a (Matias') estate was executed, thus vesting in Lazaro actual title over said property. In other words, these
proponderance of evidence to support (their) claim." On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dispositions, though conflicting, were no longer infected with the infirmities of the 1962 sale.
decision of the trial court, ruling that the Deed of Sale dated January 13, 1981 (Exh. 9) was valid and that Petitioners contend that what was sold on January 13, 1981 was only one-half hectare out of Lot No. 191,
its registration in good faith vested title in said respondents. citing as authority the trial court's decision. As earlier pointed out, what is on review in these proceedings
The Issues by this Court is the Court of Appeals' decision — which correctly identified the subject matter of the
Petitioners raised the following "errors" in the respondent Court, which they also now allege in the January 13, 1981 sale to be the entire undivided 1/12 share of Lazaro in Lot No. 191 and which is the same
instant Petition: property disposed of on December 29, 1980 in favor of petitioners.
I. The trial court erred in concluding that the Contract of Sale of October 20, 1962 (Exhibit 7, Critical in determining which of these two deeds should be given effect is the registration of the sale in
Answer) is merely voidable or annulable and not void ab initio pursuant to paragraph 2 of favor of private respondents with the register of deeds on June 7, 1982.
Article 1347 of the New Civil Code involving as it does a "future inheritance". Article 1544 of the Civil Code governs the preferential rights of vendees in cases of multiple sales, as
II. The trial court erred in holding that defendants-appellees acted in good faith in registering follows:
the deed of sale of January 13, 1981 (Exhibit 9) with the Register of Deeds of Tarlac and Art. 1544. If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the ownership shall be
therefore ownership of the land in question passed on to defendants-appellees. transferred to the person who may have first taken possession thereof in good faith, if it
III. The trial court erred in ignoring and failing to consider the testimonial and documentary should be movable property.
evidence of plaintiffs-appellants which clearly established by preponderance of evidence that Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person acquiring it who in
they are indeed the legitimate and lawful owners of the property in question. good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property.
IV. The decision is contrary to law and the facts of the case and the conclusions drawn from Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall pertain to the person who in good faith
the established facts are illogical and off-tangent. was first in the possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the person who presents the oldest
From the foregoing, the issues may be restated as follows: title, provided there is good faith.
1. Is the sale of a future inheritance valid? The property in question is land, an immovable, and following the above-quoted law, ownership shall
2. Was the subsequent execution on January 13, 1981 (and registration with the Registry of belong to the buyer who in good faith registers it first in the registry of property. Thus, although the deed
Property) of a deed of sale covering the same property to the same buyers valid? of sale in favor of private respondents was later than the one in favor of petitioners, ownership would
3. May this Court review the findings of the respondent Court (a) holding that the buyers acted vest in the former because of the undisputed fact of registration. On the other hand, petitioners have not
in good faith in registering the said subsequent deed of sale and (b) in "failing to consider registered the sale to them at all.
petitioners' evidence"? Are the conclusions of the respondent Court "illogical and off- Petitioners contend that they were in possession of the property and that private respondents never took
tangent"? possession thereof. As between two purchasers, the one who registered the sale in his favor has a
The Court's Ruling preferred right over the other who has not registered his title, even if the latter is in actual possession of
At the outset, let it be clear that the "errors" which are reviewable by this Court in this petition for review the immovable property.5
on certiorariare only those allegedly committed by the respondent Court of Appeals and not directly As to third issue, while petitioners conceded the fact of registration, they nevertheless contended that it
those of the trial court, which is not a party here. The "assignment of errors" in the petition quoted above was done in bad faith. On this issue, the respondent Court ruled;
are therefore totally misplaced, and for that reason, the petition should be dismissed. But in order to give Under the second assignment of error, plaintiffs-appellants contend that defendants-
the parties substantial justice we have decided to delve into the issues as above re-stated. The errors appellees acted in bad faith when they registered the Deed of Sale in their favor as appellee
attributed by petitioners to the latter (trial) court will be discussed only insofar as they are relevant to the Ricardo already knew of the execution of the deed of sale in favor of the plaintiffs; appellants
appellate court's assailed Decision and Resolution. cite the testimony of plaintiff Belinda Tañedo to the effect that defendant Ricardo Tañedo
The sale made in 1962 involving future inheritance is not really at issue here. In context, the assailed called her up on January 4 or 5, 1981 to tell her that he was already the owner of the land in
Decision conceded "it may be legally correct that a contract of sale of anticipated future inheritance is question "but the contract of sale between our father and us were (sic) already consumated"
null and void."3 (pp. 9-10, tsn, January 6, 1984). This testimony is obviously self-serving, and because it was a
But to remove all doubts, we hereby categorically rule that, pursuant to Article 1347 of the Civil Code, telephone conversation, the deed of sale dated December 29, 1980 was not shown; Belinda
"(n)o contract may be entered into upon a future inheritance except in cases expressly authorized by merely told her uncle that there was already a document showing that plaintiffs are the
law." owners (p. 80). Ricardo Tañedo controverted this and testified that he learned for the first
Consequently, said contract made in 1962 is not valid and cannot be the source of any right nor the time of the deed of sale executed by Lazaro in favor of his children "about a month or
creator of any obligation between the parties. sometime in February 1981" (p. 111, tsn, Nov. 28, 1984). . . .6
The respondent Court, reviewing the trial court's findings, refused to overturn the latter's assessment of
the testimonial evidence, as follows;
We are not prepared to set aside the finding of the lower court upholding Ricardo Tañedo's
testimony, as it involves a matter of credibility of witnesses which the trial judge, who G.R. No. 169129. March 28, 2007.*
presided at the hearing, was in a better position to resolve. (Court of Appeals' Decision, p. 6.) SPS. VIRGILIO F. SANTOS & ESPERANZA LATI SANTOS, SPS. VICTORINO F. SANTOS, &
In this connection, we note the tenacious allegations made by petitioners, both in their basic petition and
LAGRIMAS SANTOS, ERNESTO F. SANTOS, and TADEO F. SANTOS, petitioners, vs. SPS. JOSE
in their memorandum, as follows:
1. The respondent Court allegedly ignored the claimed fact that respondent Ricardo "by fraud LUMBAO and PROSERFINA LUMBAO, respondents.
and deceit and with foreknowledge" that the property in question had already been sold to Appeals; In the exercise of the Supreme Court’s power of review, the court is not a trier of facts and does
petitioners, made Lazaro execute the deed of January 13, 1981; not normally undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending parties during
2. There is allegedly adequate evidence to show that only 1/2 of the purchase price of the trial of the case considering that the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are conclusive and
P10,000.00 was paid at the time of the execution of the deed of sale, contrary to the written binding on the Court; Exceptions.—It is well-settled that in the exercise of the Supreme Court’s power of
acknowledgment, thus showing bad faith; review, the court is not a trier of facts and does not normally undertake the re-examination of the
3. There is allegedly sufficient evidence showing that the deed of revocation of the sale in
evidence presented by the contending parties during the trial of the case considering that the findings of
favor of petitioners "was tainted with fraud or deceit."
4. There is allegedly enough evidence to show that private respondents "took undue fact of the Court of Appeals are conclusive and binding on the Court. But, the rule is not without
advantage over the weakness and unschooled and pitiful situation of Lazaro Tañedo . . ." and exceptions. There are several recognized exceptions in which factual issues may be resolved by this
that respondent Ricardo Tañedo "exercised moral ascendancy over his younger brother he Court. One of these exceptions is when the findings of the appellate court are contrary to those of the
being the eldest brother and who reached fourth year college of law and at one time a former trial court. This exception is present in the case at bar.
Vice-Governor of Tarlac, while his younger brother only attained first year high school . . . ; Actions; Jurisdictions; Katarungang Pambarangay Law; Barangay Conciliation; While non-compliance
5. The respondent Court erred in not giving credence to petitioners' evidence, especially with the condition that there must first be proper recourse to barangay conciliation before filing of
Lazaro Tañedo's Sinumpaang Salaysay dated July 27, 1982 stating that Ricardo Tañedo
complaint in court or any government offices could affect the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s cause of action
deceived the former in executing the deed of sale in favor of private respondents.
To be sure, there are indeed many conflicting documents and testimonies as well as arguments over their and make his complaint vulnerable to dismissal on ground of lack of cause of action or prematurity, the
probative value and significance. Suffice it to say, however, that all the above contentions involve same would not prevent a court of competent jurisdiction from exercising its power of adjudication over
questions of fact, appreciation of evidence and credibility of witnesses, which are not proper in this the case before it, where the defendants failed to object to such exercise of jurisdiction.—Section 408 of
review. It is well-settled that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. In petitions for review under Rule the aforesaid law and Administrative Circular No. 14-93 provide that all disputes between parties actually
45 of the Revised Rules of Court, only questions of law may be raised and passed upon. Absent any residing in the same city or municipality are subject to barangay conciliation. A prior recourse thereto is a
whimsical or capricious exercise of judgment, and unless the lack of any basis for the conclusions made
pre-condition before filing a complaint in court or any government offices. Non-compliance with the said
by the lower courts be amply demonstrated, the Supreme Court will not disturb their findings. At most, it
appears that petitioners have shown that their evidence was not believed by both the trial and the condition precedent could affect the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s cause of action and make his complaint
appellate courts, and that the said courts tended to give more credence to the evidence presented by vulnerable to dismissal on ground of lack of cause of action or prematurity; but the same would not
private respondents. But this in itself is not a reason for setting aside such findings. We are far from prevent a court of competent jurisdiction from exercising its power of adjudication over the case before
convinced that both courts gravely abused their respective authorities and judicial prerogatives. it, where the defendants failed to object to such exercise of jurisdiction. While it is true that the present
As held in the recent case of Chua Tiong Tay vs. Court of Appeals and Goldrock Construction and case should first be referred to the Barangay Lupon for conciliation because the parties involved herein
Development Corp.7 actually reside in the same city (Pasig City) and the dispute between them involves a real property,
The Court has consistently held that the factual findings of the trial court, as well as the Court of Appeals,
hence, the said dispute should have been brought in the city in which the real property, subject matter of
are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal. Among the exceptional circumstances
where a reassessment of facts found by the lower courts is allowed are when the conclusion is a finding the controversy, is located, which happens to be the same city where the contending parties reside. In
grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; when the inference made is manifestly the event that respondents Spouses Lumbao failed to comply with the said condition precedent, their
absurd, mistaken or impossible; when there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts; when Complaint for Reconveyance with Damages can be dismissed. In this case, however, respondents
the judgment is premised on a misapprehension of facts; when the findings went beyond the issues of Spouses Lumbao’s non-compliance with the aforesaid condition precedent cannot be considered fatal.
the case and the same are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee. After a careful Although petitioners alleged in their answer that the Complaint for Reconveyance with Damages filed by
study of the case at bench, we find none of the above grounds present to justify the re-evaluation of the respondents spouses Lumbao should be dismissed for their failure to comply with the condition
findings of fact made by the courts below.
precedent, which in effect, made the complaint prematurely instituted and the trial court acquired no
In the same vein, the ruling in the recent case of South Sea Surety and Insurance Company,
Inc. vs. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al.8 is equally applicable to the present case: jurisdiction to hear the case, yet, they did not file a Motion to Dismiss the said complaint.
We see no valid reason to discard the factual conclusions of the appellate court. . . . (I)t is not Same; Same; Same; Non-referral of a case for barangay conciliation when so required under the law is
the function of this Court to assess and evaluate all over again the evidence, testimonial and not jurisdictional in nature and may therefore be deemed waived if not raised seasonably in a motion to
documentary, adduced by the parties, particularly where, such as here, the findings of both dismiss.—Emphasis must be given to the fact that the petitioners could have prevented the trial court
the trial court and the appellate court on the matter coincide. (emphasis supplied) from exercising jurisdiction over the case had they filed a Motion to Dismiss. However, instead of doing
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. No
so, they invoked the very same jurisdiction by filing an answer seeking an affirmative relief from it.
Costs.
SO ORDERED. Worse, petitioners actively participated in the trial of the case by presenting their own witness and by
cross-examining the witnesses presented by the respondents Spouses Lumbao. It is elementary that the time. Nevertheless, that does not make the contract of sale between Rita and respondents Spouses
active participation of a party in a case pending against him before a court is tantamount to recognition Lumbao invalid because both the law and jurisprudence have categorically held that even while an estate
of that court’s jurisdiction and a willingness to abide by the resolution of the case which will bar said party remains undivided, co-owners have each full ownership of their respective aliquots or undivided shares
from later on impugning the court’s jurisdiction. It is also well-settled that the non-referral of a case for and may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage them. The co-owner, however, has no right to sell or
barangay conciliation when so required under the law is not jurisdictional in nature and may therefore be alienate a specific or determinate part of the thing owned in common, because such right over the thing
deemed waived if not raised seasonably in a motion to dismiss. Hence, herein petitioners can no longer is represented by an aliquot or ideal portion without any physical division. In any case, the mere fact that
raise the defense of non-compliance with the barangay conciliation proceedings to seek the dismissal of the deed purports to transfer a concrete portion does not per se render the sale void. The sale is valid, but
the complaint filed by the respondents Spouses Lumbao, because they already waived the said defense only with respect to the aliquot share of the selling co-owner. Furthermore, the sale is subject to the
when they failed to file a Motion to Dismiss. results of the partition upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Same; Pleadings and Practice; An answer is a mere statement of fact which the party filing it expects to Same; Actions; Reconveyance; Prescription; Land Titles; When the plaintiff is in possession of the land to
prove, but it is not evidence; In spite of the presence of judicial admissions in a party’s pleading, the trial be reconveyed, prescription cannot set in.—The defense of prescription of action and laches is likewise
court is still given leeway to consider other evidence presented.—Facts alleged in a party’s pleading are unjustifiable. In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible.
deemed admissions of that party and are binding upon him, but this is not an absolute and inflexible rule. What is sought instead is the transfer of the property or its title which has been wrongfully or erroneously
An answer is a mere statement of fact which the party filing it expects to prove, but it is not evidence. registered in another person’s name to its rightful or legal owner, or to the one with a better right. It is,
And in spite of the presence of judicial admissions in a party’s pleading, the trial court is still given leeway indeed, true that the right to seek reconveyance of registered property is not absolute because it is
to consider other evidence presented. However, in the case at bar, as the Court of Appeals mentioned in subject to extinctive prescription. However, when the plaintiff is in possession of the land to be
its Decision, “[herein petitioners] had not adduced any other evidence to override the admission made in reconveyed, prescription cannot set in. Such an exception is based on the theory that registration
their [A]nswer that [petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo] actually signed the [Bilihan ng Lupa dated 17 August proceedings could not be used as a shield for fraud or for enriching a person at the expense of another.
1979] except that they were just misled as to the purpose of the document, x x x.” Virgilio’s answers were Same; Land Titles; Registration is not a requirement for validity of the contract as between the parties,
unsure and quibbled. Hence, the general rule that the admissions made by a party in a pleading are for the effect of registration serves chiefly to bind third persons.—This Court holds that the “Bilihan ng
binding and conclusive upon him applies in this case. Lupa” documents dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981 are valid and enforceable and can be made
Sales; Notarial Law; A document acknowledged before a notary public is a public document that enjoys the basis of the respondents Spouses Lumbao’s action for reconveyance. The failure of respondents
the presumption of regularity—it is a prima facie evidence of the truth of the facts stated therein and a Spouses Lumbao to have the said documents registered does not affect its validity and enforceability. It
conclusive presumption of its existence and due execution; One who denies the due execution of a deed must be remembered that registration is not a requirement for validity of the contract as between the
where one’s signature appears has the burden of proving that contrary to the recital in the jurat, one parties, for the effect of registration serves chiefly to bind third persons. The principal purpose of
never appeared before the notary public and acknowledged the deed to be a voluntary act.—Both registration is merely to notify other persons not parties to a contract that a transaction involving the
“Bilihan ng Lupa” documents dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981 were duly notarized before a property had been entered into. Where the party has knowledge of a prior existing interest which is
notary public. It is well-settled that a document acknowledged before a notary public is a public unregistered at the time he acquired a right to the same land, his knowledge of that prior unregistered
document that enjoys the presumption of regularity. It is a prima facie evidence of the truth of the facts interest has the effect of registration as to him. Hence, the “Bilihan ng Lupa” documents dated 17 August
stated therein and a conclusive presumption of its existence and due execution. To overcome this 1979 and 9 January 1981, being valid and enforceable, herein petitioners are bound to comply with their
presumption, there must be presented evidence that is clear and convincing. Absent such evidence, the provisions. In short, such documents are absolutely valid between and among the parties thereto.
presumption must be upheld. In addition, one who denies the due execution of a deed where one’s Succession; Heirs are bound by contracts entered into by their predecessors-in-interest—whatever rights
signature appears has the burden of proving that contrary to the recital in the jurat, one never appeared and obligations of the decedent have over a property are transmitted to the heirs by way of succession, a
before the notary public and acknowledged the deed to be a voluntary act. Nonetheless, in the present mode of acquiring the property, rights and obligations of the decedent to the extent of the value of the
case petitioners’ denials without clear and convincing evidence to support their claim of fraud and falsity inheritance of the heirs.—The general rule that heirs are bound by contracts entered into by their
were not sufficient to overthrow the above-mentioned presumption; hence, the authenticity, due predecessors-in-interest applies in the present case. Article 1311 of the NCC is the basis of this rule. It is
execution and the truth of the facts stated in the aforesaid “Bilihan ng Lupa” are upheld. clear from the said provision that whatever rights and obligations the decedent have over the property
Same; Co-Ownership; Even while an estate remains undivided, co-owners have each full ownership of were transmitted to the heirs by way of succession, a mode of acquiring the property, rights and
their respective aliquots or undivided shares and may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage them, and, obligations of the decedent to the extent of the value of the inheritance of the heirs. Thus, the heirs
in any case, the mere fact that the deed purports to transfer a concrete portion does not per se render cannot escape the legal consequence of a transaction entered into by their predecessor-in-interest
the sale void.—It is noteworthy that at the time of the execution of the documents denominated as because they have inherited the property subject to the liability affecting their common ancestor. Being
“Bilihan ng Lupa,” the entire property owned by Maria, the mother of Rita, was not yet divided among heirs, there is privity of interest between them and their deceased mother. They only succeed to what
her and her co-heirs and so the description of the entire estate is the only description that can be placed rights their mother had and what is valid and binding against her is also valid and binding as against
in the “Bilihan ng Lupa, dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981” because the exact metes and bounds them. The death of a party does not excuse nonperformance of a contract which involves a property right
of the subject property sold to respondents Spouses Lumbao could not be possibly determined at that and the rights and obligations thereunder pass to the personal representatives of the deceased. Similarly,
nonperformance is not excused by the death of the party when the other party has a property interest in otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, which repealed Presidential Decree No.
the subject matter of the contract. 150810 requiring first resort to barangay conciliation.
Respondents Spouses Lumbao, with leave of court, amended their Complaint because they discovered
that on 16 February 1990, without their knowledge, petitioners executed a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
in favor of Julieta S. Esplana for the sum of P30,000.00. The said Deed of Real Estate Mortgage was
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil
annotated at the back of TCT No. PT-81729 on 26 April 1991. Also, in answer to the allegation of the
Procedure seeking to annul and set aside the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
petitioners that they failed to comply with the mandate of the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law,
G.R. CV No. 60450 entitled, Spouses Jose Lumbao and Proserfina Lumbao v. Spouses Virgilio F. Santos
respondents Spouses Lumbao said that the Complaint was filed directly in court in order that prescription
and Esperanza Lati, Spouses Victorino F. Santos and Lagrimas F. Santos, Ernesto F. Santos and Tadeo F.
or the Statute of Limitations may not set in.
Santos, dated 8 June 2005 and 29 July 2005, respectively, which granted the appeal filed by herein
During the trial, respondents Spouses Lumbao presented Proserfina Lumbao and Carolina Morales as
respondents Spouses Jose Lumbao and Proserfina Lumbao (Spouses Lumbao) and ordered herein
their witnesses, while the petitioners presented only the testimony of petitioner Virgilio.
petitioners Spouses Virgilio F. Santos and Esperanza Lati, Spouses Victorino F. Santos and Lagrimas F.
The trial court rendered a Decision on 17 June 1998, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
Santos, Ernesto F. Santos and Tadeo F. Santos to reconvey to respondents Spouses Lumbao the subject
Premises considered, the instant complaint is hereby denied for lack of merit.
property and to pay the latter attorney’s fees and litigation expenses, thus, reversing the Decision 3 of the
Considering that [petitioners] have incurred expenses in order to protect their interest, [respondents
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City, dated 17 June 1998 which dismissed the Complaint for
spouses Lumbao] are hereby directed to pay [petitioners], to wit: 1) the amount of P30,000.00 as
Reconveyance with Damages filed by respondents Spouses Lumbao for lack of merit.
attorney’s fees and litigation expenses, and 2) costs of the suit.11
Herein petitioners Virgilio, Victorino, Ernesto and Tadeo, all surnamed Santos, are the legitimate and
Aggrieved, respondents Spouses Lumbao appealed to the Court of Appeals. On 8 June 2005, the
surviving heirs of the late Rita Catoc Santos (Rita), who died on 20 October 1985. The other petitioners
appellate court rendered a Decision, thus:
Esperanza Lati and Lagrimas Santos are the daughters-in-law of Rita.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present appeal is hereby GRANTED. The appealed Decision
Herein respondents Spouses Jose Lumbao and Proserfina Lumbao are the alleged owners of the 107-
dated June 17, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 69 in Civil Case No. 62175 is hereby
square meter lot (subject property), which they purportedly bought from Rita during her lifetime.
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new judgment is hereby entered ordering [petitioners] to reconvey 107
The facts of the present case are as follows:
square meters of the subject [property] covered by TCT No. PT-81729 of the Registry of Deeds of Pasig
On two separate occasions during her lifetime, Rita sold to respondents Spouses Lumbao the subject
City, Metro Manila, and to pay to [respondents spouses Lumbao] the sum of P30,000.00 for attorney’s
property which is a part of her share in the estate of her deceased mother, Maria Catoc (Maria), who died
fees and litigation expenses.
intestate on 19 September 1978. On the first occasion, Rita sold 100 square meters of her inchoate share
No pronouncement as to costs.12
in her mother’s estate through a document denominated as "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August
Dissatisfied, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Decision but it was denied in
1979.4 Respondents Spouses Lumbao claimed the execution of the aforesaid document was witnessed by
the Resolution of the appellate court dated 29 July 2005 for lack of merit.
petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo, as shown by their signatures affixed therein. On the second occasion, an
Hence, this Petition.
additional seven square meters was added to the land as evidenced by a document also denominated as
The grounds relied upon by the petitioners are the following:
"Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 9 January 1981.5
I. THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE
After acquiring the subject property, respondents Spouses Lumbao took actual possession thereof and
TRIAL COURT, THEREBY CREATING A VARIANCE ON THE FINDINGS OF FACTS OF TWO COURTS.
erected thereon a house which they have been occupying as exclusive owners up to the present. As the
II. THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN ORDERING THE PETITIONERS TO
exclusive owners of the subject property, respondents Spouses Lumbao made several verbal demands
RECONVEY THE SUBJECT [PROPERTY] TO THE RESPONDENTS [SPOUSES LUMBAO] AND IN NOT
upon Rita, during her lifetime, and thereafter upon herein petitioners, for them to execute the necessary
RULING THAT THEY ARE GUILTY OF LACHES, HENCE THEY CANNOT RECOVER THE LOT ALLEGEDLY
documents to effect the issuance of a separate title in favor of respondents Spouses Lumbao insofar as
SOLD TO THEM.
the subject property is concerned. Respondents Spouses Lumbao alleged that prior to her death, Rita
III. THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING HEREIN
informed respondent Proserfina Lumbao she could not deliver the title to the subject property because
PETITIONER[S] TO BE IN GOOD FAITH IN EXECUTING THE "DEED OF EXTRAJUDICIAL SETTLEMENT"
the entire property inherited by her and her co-heirs from Maria had not yet been partitioned.
DATED [2 MAY 1986].
On 2 May 1986, the Spouses Lumbao claimed that petitioners, acting fraudulently and in conspiracy with
IV. THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING THAT PETITIONERS
one another, executed a Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement,6 adjudicating and partitioning among
ARE NOT LEGALLY BOUND TO COMPLY WITH THE SUPPOSED BILIHAN NG LUPA DATED [17
themselves and the other heirs, the estate left by Maria, which included the subject property already sold
AUGUST 1979] AND [9 JANUARY 1981] THAT WERE SUPPOSEDLY EXECUTED BY THE LATE RITA
to respondents Spouses Lumbao and now covered by TCT No. 817297 of the Registry of Deeds of Pasig
CATOC.
City.
V. THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING THAT
On 15 June 1992, respondents Spouses Lumbao, through counsel, sent a formal demand letter8 to
RESPONDENTS [SPOUSES LUMBAO’S] ACTION FOR RECONVEYANCE WITH DAMAGES CANNOT BE
petitioners but despite receipt of such demand letter, petitioners still failed and refused to reconvey the
SUPPORTED WITH AN UNENFORCEABLE DOCUMENTS, SUCH AS THE BILIHAN NG LUPA DATED [17
subject property to the respondents Spouses Lumbao. Consequently, the latter filed a Complaint for
AUGUST 1979] AND [9 JANUARY 1981].
Reconveyance with Damages9 before the RTC of Pasig City.
VI. THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING THAT
Petitioners filed their Answer denying the allegations that the subject property had been sold to the
RESPONDENTS [SPOUSES LUMBAO’S] COMPLAINT FOR RECONVEYANCE IS DISMISSABLE (SIC) FOR
respondents Spouses Lumbao. They likewise denied that the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement had been
NON COMPLIANCE OF THE MANDATE OF [P.D. NO.] 1508, AS AMENDED BY Republic Act No. 7160.
fraudulently executed because the same was duly published as required by law. On the contrary, they
VII. THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING THAT
prayed for the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of cause of action because respondents Spouses
RESPONDENTS [SPOUSES LUMBAO] SHOULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR PETITIONERS’ CLAIM FOR
Lumbao failed to comply with the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law under Republic Act No. 7160,
DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY[‘]S FEES.
Petitioners ask this Court to scrutinize the evidence presented in this case, because they claim that the Section 408 of the aforesaid law and Administrative Circular No. 14-9315 provide that all disputes
factual findings of the trial court and the appellate court are conflicting. They allege that the findings of between parties actually residing in the same city or municipality are subject to barangay conciliation. A
fact by the trial court revealed that petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo did not witness the execution of the prior recourse thereto is a pre-condition before filing a complaint in court or any government offices.
documents known as "Bilihan ng Lupa"; hence, this finding runs counter to the conclusion made by the Non-compliance with the said condition precedent could affect the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s cause of
appellate court. And even assuming that they were witnesses to the aforesaid documents, still, action and make his complaint vulnerable to dismissal on ground of lack of cause of action or
respondents Spouses Lumbao were not entitled to the reconveyance of the subject property because prematurity; but the same would not prevent a court of competent jurisdiction from exercising its power
they were guilty of laches for their failure to assert their rights for an unreasonable length of time. Since of adjudication over the case before it, where the defendants failed to object to such exercise of
respondents Spouses Lumbao had slept on their rights for a period of more than 12 years reckoned from jurisdiction.16
the date of execution of the second "Bilihan ng Lupa," it would be unjust and unfair to the petitioners if While it is true that the present case should first be referred to the Barangay Lupon for conciliation
the respondents will be allowed to recover the subject property. because the parties involved herein actually reside in the same city (Pasig City) and the dispute between
Petitioners allege they are in good faith in executing the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement because even them involves a real property, hence, the said dispute should have been brought in the city in which the
respondents Spouses Lumbao’s witness, Carolina Morales, testified that neither petitioner Virgilio nor real property, subject matter of the controversy, is located, which happens to be the same city where the
petitioner Tadeo was present during the execution of the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August 1979 and 9 contending parties reside. In the event that respondents Spouses Lumbao failed to comply with the said
January 1981. Petitioners affirm that the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement was published in a newspaper condition precedent, their Complaint for Reconveyance with Damages can be dismissed. In this case,
of general circulation to give notice to all creditors of the estate subject of partition to contest the same however, respondents Spouses Lumbao’s non-compliance with the aforesaid condition precedent cannot
within the period prescribed by law. Since no claimant appeared to interpose a claim within the period be considered fatal. Although petitioners alleged in their answer that the Complaint for Reconveyance
allowed by law, a title to the subject property was then issued in favor of the petitioners; hence, they are with Damages filed by respondents spouses Lumbao should be dismissed for their failure to comply with
considered as holders in good faith and therefore cannot be barred from entering into any subsequent the condition precedent, which in effect, made the complaint prematurely instituted and the trial court
transactions involving the subject property. acquired no jurisdiction to hear the case, yet, they did not file a Motion to Dismiss the said complaint.
Petitioners also contend that they are not bound by the documents denominated as "Bilihan ng Lupa" Emphasis must be given to the fact that the petitioners could have prevented the trial court from
because the same were null and void for the following reasons: 1) for being falsified documents because exercising jurisdiction over the case had they filed a Motion to Dismiss. However, instead of doing so,
one of those documents made it appear that petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo were witnesses to its they invoked the very same jurisdiction by filing an answer seeking an affirmative relief from it. Worse,
execution and that they appeared personally before the notary public, when in truth and in fact they did petitioners actively participated in the trial of the case by presenting their own witness and by cross-
not; 2) the identities of the properties in the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981 examining the witnesses presented by the respondents Spouses Lumbao. It is elementary that the active
in relation to the subject property in litigation were not established by the evidence presented by the participation of a party in a case pending against him before a court is tantamount to recognition of that
respondents Spouses Lumbao; 3) the right of the respondents Spouses Lumbao to lay their claim over court’s jurisdiction and a willingness to abide by the resolution of the case which will bar said party from
the subject property had already been barred through estoppel by laches; and 4) the respondents later on impugning the court’s jurisdiction. 17 It is also well-settled that the non-referral of a case for
Spouses Lumbao’s claim over the subject property had already prescribed. barangay conciliation when so required under the law is not jurisdictional in nature and may therefore be
Finally, petitioners claim that the Complaint for Reconveyance with Damages filed by respondents deemed waived if not raised seasonably in a motion to dismiss.18 Hence, herein petitioners can no longer
Spouses Lumbao was dismissible because they failed to comply with the mandate of Presidential Decree raise the defense of non-compliance with the barangay conciliation proceedings to seek the dismissal of
No. 1508, as amended by Republic Act No. 7160, particularly Section 412 of Republic Act No. 7160. the complaint filed by the respondents Spouses Lumbao, because they already waived the said defense
Given the foregoing, the issues presented by the petitioners may be restated as follows: when they failed to file a Motion to Dismiss.
I. Whether or not the Complaint for Reconveyance with Damages filed by respondents As regards the second issue, petitioners maintain that the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August 1979 and 9
spouses Lumbao is dismissible for their failure to comply with the mandate of the Revised January 1981 are null and void for being falsified documents as it is made to appear that petitioners
Katarungang Pambarangay Law under R.A. No. 7160. Virgilio and Tadeo were present in the execution of the said documents and that the identities of the
II. Whether or not the documents known as "Bilihan ng Lupa" are valid and enforceable, thus, properties in those documents in relation to the subject property has not been established by the
they can be the bases of the respondents spouses Lumbao’s action for reconveyance with evidence of the respondents Spouses Lumbao. Petitioners also claim that the enforceability of those
damages. documents is barred by prescription of action and laches.
III. Whether or not herein petitioners are legally bound to comply with the "Bilihan ng Lupa" It is the petitioners’ incessant barking that the "Bilihan ng Lupa" documents dated 17 August 1979 and 9
dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981 and consequently, reconvey the subject property to January 1981 were falsified because it was made to appear that petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo were
herein respondents spouses Lumbao. present in the executions thereof, and their allegation that even respondents Spouses Lumbao’s witness
It is well-settled that in the exercise of the Supreme Court’s power of review, the court is not a trier of Carolina Morales proved that said petitioners were not present during the execution of the
facts and does not normally undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending aforementioned documents. This is specious.
parties during the trial of the case considering that the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are Upon examination of the aforesaid documents, this Court finds that in the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17
conclusive and binding on the Court.13 But, the rule is not without exceptions. There are several August 1979, the signatures of petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo appeared thereon. Moreover, in petitioners’
recognized exceptions14 in which factual issues may be resolved by this Court. One of these exceptions is Answer and Amended Answer to the Complaint for Reconveyance with Damages, both petitioners
when the findings of the appellate court are contrary to those of the trial court. This exception is present Virgilio and Tadeo made an admission that indeed they acted as witnesses in the execution of the
in the case at bar. "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August 1979.19 However, in order to avoid their obligations in the said "Bilihan
Going to the first issue presented in this case, it is the argument of the petitioners that the Complaint for ng Lupa," petitioner Virgilio, in his cross-examination, denied having knowledge of the sale transaction
Reconveyance with Damages filed by respondents Spouses Lumbao should be dismissed for failure to and claimed that he could not remember the same as well as his appearance before the notary public due
comply with the barangay conciliation proceedings as mandated by the Revised Katarungang to the length of time that had passed. Noticeably, petitioner Virgilio did not categorically deny having
Pambarangay Law under Republic Act No. 7160. This argument cannot be sustained.
signed the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August 1979 and in support thereof, his testimony in the cross- The defense of petitioners that the identities of the properties described in the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated
examination propounded by the counsel of the respondents Spouses Lumbao is quoted hereunder: 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981 in relation to the subject property were not established by
ATTY. CHIU: respondents Spouses Lumbao’s evidence is likewise not acceptable.
Q. Now, you said, Mr. Witness…Virgilio Santos, that you don’t know about this document which was It is noteworthy that at the time of the execution of the documents denominated as "Bilihan ng Lupa,"
marked as Exhibit "A" for the [respondents spouses Lumbao]? the entire property owned by Maria, the mother of Rita, was not yet divided among her and her co-heirs
ATTY. BUGARING: and so the description of the entire estate is the only description that can be placed in the "Bilihan ng
The question is misleading, your Honor. Counsel premised the question that he does not have any Lupa, dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981" because the exact metes and bounds of the subject
knowledge but not that he does not know. property sold to respondents Spouses Lumbao could not be possibly determined at that time.
ATTY. CHIU: Nevertheless, that does not make the contract of sale between Rita and respondents Spouses Lumbao
Q. Being… you are one of the witnesses of this document? [I]s it not? invalid because both the law and jurisprudence have categorically held that even while an estate remains
WITNESS: undivided, co-owners have each full ownership of their respective aliquots or undivided shares and may
A. No, sir. therefore alienate, assign or mortgage them.28 The co-owner, however, has no right to sell or alienate a
Q. I am showing to you this document, there is a signature at the left hand margin of this document specific or determinate part of the thing owned in common, because such right over the thing is
Virgilio Santos, will you please go over the same and tell the court whose signature is this? represented by an aliquot or ideal portion without any physical division. In any case, the mere fact that
A. I don’t remember, sir, because of the length of time that had passed. the deed purports to transfer a concrete portion does not per se render the sale void. The sale is valid, but
Q. But that is your signature? only with respect to the aliquot share of the selling co-owner. Furthermore, the sale is subject to the
A. I don’t have eyeglasses… My signature is different. results of the partition upon the termination of the co-ownership.29
Q. You never appeared before this notary public Apolinario Mangahas? In the case at bar, when the estate left by Maria had been partitioned on 2 May 1986 by virtue of a Deed
A. I don’t remember.20 of Extrajudicial Settlement, the 107- square meter lot sold by the mother of the petitioners to
As a general rule, facts alleged in a party’s pleading are deemed admissions of that party and are binding respondents Spouses Lumbao should be deducted from the total lot, inherited by them in representation
upon him, but this is not an absolute and inflexible rule. An answer is a mere statement of fact which the of their deceased mother, which in this case measures 467 square meters. The 107-square meter lot
party filing it expects to prove, but it is not evidence. 21 And in spite of the presence of judicial admissions already sold to respondents Spouses Lumbao can no longer be inherited by the petitioners because the
in a party’s pleading, the trial court is still given leeway to consider other evidence presented. 22 However, same was no longer part of their inheritance as it was already sold during the lifetime of their mother.
in the case at bar, as the Court of Appeals mentioned in its Decision, "[herein petitioners] had not Likewise, the fact that the property mentioned in the two "Bilihan ng Lupa" documents was described as
adduced any other evidence to override the admission made in their [A]nswer that [petitioners Virgilio "a portion of a parcel of land covered in Tax Declarations No. A-018-01674," while the subject matter of
and Tadeo] actually signed the [Bilihan ng Lupa dated 17 August 1979] except that they were just misled the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement was the property described in Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
as to the purpose of the document, x x x."23 Virgilio’s answers were unsure and quibbled. Hence, the 3216 of the Registry of Deeds of the Province of Rizal in the name of Maria is of no moment because in
general rule that the admissions made by a party in a pleading are binding and conclusive upon him the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981, it is clear that there was only one estate
applies in this case. left by Maria upon her death. And this fact was not refuted by the petitioners. Besides, the property
On the testimony of respondents Spouses Lumbao’s witness Carolina Morales, this Court adopts the described in Tax Declaration No. A-018-01674 and the property mentioned in TCT No. 3216 are both
findings made by the appellate court. Thus - located in Barrio Rosario, Municipality of Pasig, Province of Rizal, and almost have the same boundaries.
[T]he trial court gave singular focus on her reply to a question during cross-examination if the [petitioners It is, thus, safe to state that the property mentioned in Tax Declaration No. A-018-01674 and in TCT No.
Virgilio and Tadeo] were not with her and the vendor [Rita] during the transaction. It must be pointed out 3216 are one and the same.
that earlier in the direct examination of said witness, she confirmed that [respondents spouses Lumbao] The defense of prescription of action and laches is likewise unjustifiable. In an action for reconveyance,
actually bought the lot from [Rita] ("nagkabilihan"). Said witness positively identified and confirmed the the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible. What is sought instead is the transfer of the
two (2) documents evidencing the sale in favor of [respondents spouse Lumbao]. Thus, her subsequent property or its title which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another person’s name to its
statement that the [petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo] were not with them during the transaction does not rightful or legal owner, or to the one with a better right. It is, indeed, true that the right to seek
automatically imply that [petitioners Virgilio and Tadeo] did not at any time sign as witnesses as to the reconveyance of registered property is not absolute because it is subject to extinctive prescription.
deed of sale attesting to their mother’s voluntary act of selling a portion of her share in her deceased However, when the plaintiff is in possession of the land to be reconveyed, prescription cannot set in.
mother’s property. The rule is that testimony of a witness must be considered and calibrated in its Such an exception is based on the theory that registration proceedings could not be used as a shield for
entirety and not by truncated portions thereof or isolated passages therein. 24 fraud or for enriching a person at the expense of another.30
Furthermore, both "Bilihan ng Lupa" documents dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981 were duly In the case at bar, the right of the respondents Spouses Lumbao to seek reconveyance does not prescribe
notarized before a notary public. It is well-settled that a document acknowledged before a notary public because the latter have been and are still in actual possession and occupation as owners of the property
is a public document25that enjoys the presumption of regularity. It is a prima facie evidence of the truth of sought to be reconveyed, which fact has not been refuted nor denied by the petitioners. Furthermore,
the facts stated therein and a conclusive presumption of its existence and due execution. 26 To overcome respondents Spouses Lumbao cannot be held guilty of laches because from the very start that they
this presumption, there must be presented evidence that is clear and convincing. Absent such evidence, bought the 107-square meter lot from the mother of the petitioners, they have constantly asked for the
the presumption must be upheld.27 In addition, one who denies the due execution of a deed where one’s transfer of the certificate of title into their names but Rita, during her lifetime, and the petitioners, after
signature appears has the burden of proving that contrary to the recital in the jurat, one never appeared the death of Rita, failed to do so on the flimsy excuse that the lot had not been partitioned yet.
before the notary public and acknowledged the deed to be a voluntary act. Nonetheless, in the present Inexplicably, after the partition of the entire estate of Maria, petitioners still included the 107-square
case petitioners’ denials without clear and convincing evidence to support their claim of fraud and falsity meter lot in their inheritance which they divided among themselves despite their knowledge of the
were not sufficient to overthrow the above-mentioned presumption; hence, the authenticity, due contracts of sale between their mother and the respondents Spouses Lumbao.
execution and the truth of the facts stated in the aforesaid "Bilihan ng Lupa" are upheld.
Under the above premises, this Court holds that the "Bilihan ng Lupa" documents dated 17 August 1979 decide on the property and rights of the citizen is examinable by the Supreme Court, upon a writ of error
and 9 January 1981 are valid and enforceable and can be made the basis of the respondents Spouses or a certiorari, such final adjudication may be pleaded as res judicata.” To be sure, early jurisprudence
Lumbao’s action for reconveyance. The failure of respondents Spouses Lumbao to have the said were already mindful that the doctrine of res judicata cannot be said to apply exclusively to decisions
documents registered does not affect its validity and enforceability. It must be remembered that
rendered by what are usually understood as courts without unreasonably circumscribing the scope
registration is not a requirement for validity of the contract as between the parties, for the effect of
registration serves chiefly to bind third persons. The principal purpose of registration is merely to notify thereof and that the more equitable attitude is to allow extension of the defense to decisions of bodies
other persons not parties to a contract that a transaction involving the property had been entered into. upon whom judicial powers have been conferred.
Where the party has knowledge of a prior existing interest which is unregistered at the time he acquired a Same; Same; Quasi-Judicial Power; Words and Phrases; Quasi-judicial power is defined as that power of
right to the same land, his knowledge of that prior unregistered interest has the effect of registration as adjudication of an administrative agency for the “formulation of a final order”—this function applies to
to him.31 Hence, the "Bilihan ng Lupa" documents dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981, being valid the actions, discretion and similar acts of public administrative officers or bodies who are required to
and enforceable, herein petitioners are bound to comply with their provisions. In short, such documents investigate facts, or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a
are absolutely valid between and among the parties thereto.
basis for their official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature.—It should be remembered that
Finally, the general rule that heirs are bound by contracts entered into by their predecessors-in-interest
applies in the present case. Article 131132 of the NCC is the basis of this rule. It is clear from the said quasijudicial powers will always be subject to true judicial power—that which is held by the courts. Quasi-
provision that whatever rights and obligations the decedent have over the property were transmitted to judicial power is defined as that power of adjudication of an administrative agency for the “formulation of
the heirs by way of succession, a mode of acquiring the property, rights and obligations of the decedent a final order.” This function applies to the actions, discretion and similar acts of public administrative
to the extent of the value of the inheritance of the heirs. 33 Thus, the heirs cannot escape the legal officers or bodies who are required to investigate facts, or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings,
consequence of a transaction entered into by their predecessor-in-interest because they have inherited and draw conclusions from them, as a basis for their official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial
the property subject to the liability affecting their common ancestor. Being heirs, there is privity of nature. However, administrative agencies are not considered courts, in their strict sense. The doctrine of
interest between them and their deceased mother. They only succeed to what rights their mother had
separation of powers reposes the three great powers into its three (3) branches—the legislative, the
and what is valid and binding against her is also valid and binding as against them. The death of a party
does not excuse nonperformance of a contract which involves a property right and the rights and executive, and the judiciary. Each department is co-equal and coordinate, and supreme in its own sphere.
obligations thereunder pass to the personal representatives of the deceased. Similarly, nonperformance Accordingly, the executive department may not, by its own fiat, impose the judgment of one of its
is not excused by the death of the party when the other party has a property interest in the subject agencies, upon the judiciary. Indeed, under the expanded jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, it is
matter of the contract.34 empowered to “determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
In the end, despite the death of the petitioners’ mother, they are still bound to comply with the excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.” Courts have an
provisions of the "Bilihan ng Lupa," dated 17 August 1979 and 9 January 1981. Consequently, they must
expanded role under the 1987 Constitution in the resolution of societal conflicts under the grave abuse
reconvey to herein respondents Spouses Lumbao the 107-square meter lot which they bought from Rita,
petitioners’ mother. And as correctly ruled by the appellate court, petitioners must pay respondents clause of Article VIII which includes that duty to check whether the other branches of government
Spouses Lumbao attorney’s fees and litigation expenses for having been compelled to litigate and incur committed an act that falls under the category of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
expenses to protect their interest.35 On this matter, we do not find reasons to reverse the said findings. of jurisdiction.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision and Resolution Same; Same; The system of judicial review should not be misused and abused to evade the operation of a
of the Court of Appeals dated 8 June 2005 and 29 July 2005, respectively, are hereby AFFIRMED. Herein final and executory judgment.—Well-within its jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals, in its decision of August
petitioners are ordered to reconvey to respondents Spouses Lumbao the subject property and to pay the 28, 2003, already ruled that the issue of the trial court’s authority to hear and decide the instant case has
latter attorney’s fees and litigation expenses. Costs against petitioners.
already been settled in the decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 26, 1989 (which has become final
SO ORDERED.
and executory on August 20, 1989 as per entry of judgment dated October 10, 1989). We find no reason
G.R. No. 162784. June 22, 2007.* to disturb this ruling. Courts are duty-bound to put an end to controversies. The system of judicial review
NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, petitioner, vs. SEGUNDA ALMEIDA, COURT OF APPEALS, and should not be misused and abused to evade the operation of a final and executory judgment. The
RTC of SAN PEDRO, LAGUNA, BR. 31, respondents. appellate court’s decision becomes the law of the case which must be adhered to by the parties by reason
Administrative Law; Judgments; Administrative Res Judicata; Jurisprudence has recognized the rule of of policy.
administrative res judicata—the rule which forbids the reopening of a matter once judicially determined Same; Succession; The initial applicant’s death would transfer all her property, rights and obligations to
by competent authority applies as well to the judicial and quasi-judicial facts of public, executive or the estate including whatever interest she has or may have had over the disputed properties over which
administrative officers and boards acting within their jurisdiction as to the judgments of courts having she had been granted the right to buy—to the extent of the interest that the original owner had over the
general judicial powers.—Res judicata is a concept applied in review of lower court decisions in property, the same should go to her estate.—By considering the document, petitioner NHA should have
accordance with the hierarchy of courts. But jurisprudence has also recognized the rule of administrative noted that the original applicant has already passed away. Margarita Herrera passed away on October 27,
res judicata: “the rule which forbids the reopening of a matter once judicially determined by competent 1971. The NHA issued its resolution on February 5, 1986. The NHA gave due course to the application
authority applies as well to the judicial and quasi-judicial facts of public, executive or administrative made by Francisca Herrera without considering that the initial applicant’s death would transfer all her
officers and boards acting within their jurisdiction as to the judgments of courts having general judicial property, rights and obligations to the estate including whatever interest she has or may have had over
powers . . . It has been declared that whenever final adjudication of persons invested with power to the disputed properties. To the extent of the interest that the original owner had over the property, the
same should go to her estate. Margarita Herrera had an interest in the property and that interest should Akong si MARGARITA HERRERA, Filipina, may 83 taong gulang, balo, kasalukuyang
go to her estate upon her demise so as to be able to properly distribute them later to her heirs—in naninirahan at tumatanggap ng sulat sa Nayon ng San Vicente, San Pedro Laguna, sa ilalim ng
accordance with a will or by operation of law. The death of Margarita Herrera does not extinguish her panunumpa ay malaya at kusang loob kong isinasaysay at pinagtitibay itong mga sumusunod:
1. Na ako ay may tinatangkilik na isang lagay na lupang tirikan (SOLAR), tumatayo sa Nayon
interest over the property. Margarita Herrera had an existing Contract to Sell with NHA as the seller.
ng San Vicente, San Pedro, Laguna, mayroong PITONG DAAN AT PITUMPU'T ISANG (771)
Upon Margarita Herrera’s demise, this Contract to Sell was neither nullified nor revoked. This Contract to METRONG PARISUKAT ang laki, humigit kumulang, at makikilala sa tawag na Lote 17, Bloke
Sell was an obligation on both parties—Margarita Herrera and NHA. Obligations are transmissible. 55, at pag-aari ng Land Tenure Administration;
Margarita Herrera’s obligation to pay became transmissible at the time of her death either by will or by 2. Na ang nasabing lote ay aking binibile, sa pamamagitan ng paghuhulog sa Land Tenure
operation of law. Administration, at noong ika 30 ng Julio, 1959, ang Kasunduang sa Pagbibile (AGREEMENT
Same; Same; The National Housing Authority cannot make another contract to sell to other parties of a TO SELL No. 3787) ay ginawa at pinagtibay sa Lungsod ng Maynila, sa harap ng Notario
property already initially paid for by the decedent—such would be an act contrary to the law on Publico na si G. Jose C. Tolosa, at lumalabas sa kaniyang Libro Notarial bilang Documento No.
13, Pagina No. 4; Libro No. IV, Serie ng 1959;
succession and the law on sales and obligations; When the original buyer died, the National Housing
3. Na dahilan sa ako'y matanda na at walang ano mang hanap buhay, ako ay nakatira at
Authority (NHA) should have considered the estate as the next “person.”—If we sustain the position of pinagsisilbihan nang aking anak na si Francisca Herrera, at ang tinitirikan o solar na nasasabi
the NHA that this document is not a will, then the interests of the decedent should transfer by virtue of sa unahan ay binabayaran ng kaniyang sariling cuarta sa Land Tenure Administration;
an operation of law and not by virtue of a resolution by the NHA. For as it stands, NHA cannot make 4. Na alang-alang sa nasasaysay sa unahan nito, sakaling ako'y bawian na ng Dios ng aking
another contract to sell to other parties of a property already initially paid for by the decedent. Such buhay, ang lupang nasasabi sa unahan ay aking ipinagkakaloob sa nasabi kong anak na
would be an act contrary to the law on succession and the law on sales and obligations. When the original FRANCISCA HERRERA, Filipina, nasa katamtamang gulang, kasal kay Macario Berroya,
buyer died, the NHA should have considered the estate of the decedent as the next “person” likely to kasalukuyang naninirahan at tumatanggap ng sulat sa Nayong ng San Vicente, San Pedro
Laguna, o sa kaniyang mga tagapagmana at;
stand in to fulfill the obligation to pay the rest of the purchase price. The opposition of other heirs to the
5. Na HINIHILING KO sa sino man kinauukulan, na sakaling ako nga ay bawian na ng Dios ng
repurchase by Francisca Herrera should have put the NHA on guard as to the award of the lots. Further, aking buhay ay KILALANIN, IGALANG at PAGTIBAYIN ang nilalaman sa pangalan ng aking
the Decision in the said Civil Case No. B-1263 (questioning the Deed of SelfAdjudication) which rendered anak na si Francisca Herrera ang loteng nasasabi sa unahan.
the deed therein null and void should have alerted the NHA that there are other heirs to the interests and SA KATUNAYAN NG LAHAT, ako ay nag-didiit ng hinlalaki ng kanan kong kamay sa ibaba
properties of the decedent who may claim the property after a testate or intestate proceeding is nito at sa kaliwang gilid ng unang dahon, dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila, ngayong ika 7 ng
concluded. The NHA therefore acted arbitrarily in the award of the lots. Octubre, 1960.4
The said document was signed by two witnesses and notarized. The witnesses signed at the left-hand
Same; Same; Elements of Testamentary Succession.—We need not delve into the validity of the will. The
side of both pages of the document with the said document having 2 pages in total. Margarita Herrera
issue is for the probate court to determine. We affirm the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Court placed her thumbmark5above her name in the second page and at the left-hand margin of the first page
which noted that it has an element of testamentary disposition where (1) it devolved and transferred of the document.
property; (2) the effect of which shall transpire upon the death of the instrument maker. The surviving heirs of Beatriz Herrera-Mercado filed a case for annulment of the Deed of Self-
PUNO, C.J.: Adjudication before the then Court of First Instance of Laguna, Branch 1 in Binan, Laguna (now, Regional
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 filed by the National Housing Authority (NHA) Trial Court Branch 25). The case for annulment was docketed as Civil Case No. B-1263.6
against the Court of Appeals, the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro Laguna, Branch 31, and private On December 29, 1980, a Decision in Civil Case No. B-1263 (questioning the Deed of Self-Adjudication)
respondent Segunda Almeida. was rendered and the deed was declared null and void.7
On June 28, 1959, the Land Tenure Administration (LTA) awarded to Margarita Herrera several portions During trial on the merits of the case assailing the Deed of Self-Adjudication, Francisca Herrera filed an
of land which are part of the Tunasan Estate in San Pedro, Laguna. The award is evidenced by an application with the NHA to purchase the same lots submitting therewith a copy of the "Sinumpaang
Agreement to Sell No. 3787.1 By virtue of Republic Act No. 3488, the LTA was succeeded by the Salaysay" executed by her mother. Private respondent Almeida, as heir of Beatriz Herrera-Mercado,
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). On July 31, 1975, the DAR was succeeded by the NHA by virtue of protested the application.
Presidential Decree No. 757.2 NHA as the successor agency of LTA is the petitioner in this case. In a Resolution8 dated February 5, 1986, the NHA granted the application made by Francisca Herrera,
The records show that Margarita Herrera had two children: Beatriz Herrera-Mercado (the mother of holding that:
private respondent) and Francisca Herrera. Beatriz Herrera-Mercado predeceased her mother and left From the evidence of the parties and the records of the lots in question, we gathered the
heirs. following facts: the lots in question are portions of the lot awarded and sold to the late
Margarita Herrera passed away on October 27, 1971.3 Margarita Herrera on July 28, 1959 by the defunct Land Tenure Administration; protestant is
On August 22, 1974, Francisca Herrera, the remaining child of the late Margarita Herrera executed a the daughter of the late Beatriz Herrera Mercado who was the sister of the protestee;
Deed of Self-Adjudication claiming that she is the only remaining relative, being the sole surviving protestee and Beatriz are children of the late Margarita Herrera; Beatriz was the transferee
daughter of the deceased. She also claimed to be the exclusive legal heir of the late Margarita Herrera. from Margarita of Lot Nos. 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49, Block 50; one of the lots transferred to
The Deed of Self-Adjudication was based on a Sinumpaang Salaysay dated October 7, 1960, allegedly Beatriz, e.g. Lot 47, with an area of 148 square meters is in the name of the protestant;
executed by Margarita Herrera. The pertinent portions of which are as follows: protestant occupied the lots in question with the permission of the protestee; protestee is a
SINUMPAANG SALAYSAY resident of the Tunasan Homesite since birth; protestee was born on the lots in question;
SA SINO MAN KINAUUKULAN; protestee left the place only after marriage but resided in a lot situated in the same Tunasan
Homesite; her (protestee) son Roberto Herrera has been occupying the lots in question; he has
been there even before the death of the late Margarita Herrera; on October 7, 1960, intention of Margarita Herrera was to merely assign her right over the lots to her daughter
Margarita Herrera executed a "Sinumpaang Salaysay" whereby she waived or transferred Francisca Herrera, she should have given her "Sinumpaang Salaysay" to the defendant NHA or
all her rights and interest over the lots in question in favor of the protestee; and protestee to Francisca Herrera for submission to the defendant NHA after the full payment of the
had paid the lots in question in full on March 8, 1966 with the defunct Land Tenure purchase price of the lots or even prior thereto but she did not. Hence it is apparent that she
Administration. intended the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" to be her last will and not an assignment of rights as
This Office finds that protestee has a better preferential right to purchase the lots in question. 9 what the NHA in its resolution would want to make it appear. The intention of Margarita
Private respondent Almeida appealed to the Office of the President. 10 The NHA Resolution was affirmed Herrera was shared no less by Francisca Herrera who after the former's demise executed on
by the Office of the President in a Decision dated January 23, 1987.11 August 22, 1974 a Deed of Self-Adjudication claiming that she is her sole and legal heir. It was
On February 1, 1987, Francisca Herrera died. Her heirs executed an extrajudicial settlement of her estate only when said deed was questioned in court by the surviving heirs of Margarita Herrera's
which they submitted to the NHA. Said transfer of rights was approved by the NHA. 12 The NHA executed other daughter, Beatriz Mercado, that Francisca Herrera filed an application to purchase the
several deeds of sale in favor of the heirs of Francisca Herrera and titles were issued in their subject lots and presented the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" stating that it is a deed of assignment
favor.13 Thereafter, the heirs of Francisca Herrera directed Segunda Mercado-Almeida to leave the of rights.19
premises that she was occupying. The Court of Appeals ruled that the NHA acted arbitrarily in awarding the lots to the heirs of Francisca
Feeling aggrieved by the decision of the Office of the President and the resolution of the NHA, private Herrera. It upheld the trial court ruling that the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" was not an assignment of rights
respondent Segunda Mercado-Almeida sought the cancellation of the titles issued in favor of the heirs of but one that involved disposition of property which shall take effect upon death. The issue of whether it
Francisca. She filed a Complaint on February 8, 1988, for "Nullification of Government Lot's Award," was a valid will must first be determined by probate.
with the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna, Branch 31. Petitioner NHA elevated the case to this Court.
In her complaint, private respondent Almeida invoked her forty-year occupation of the disputed Petitioner NHA raised the following issues:
properties, and re-raised the fact that Francisca Herrera's declaration of self-adjudication has been A. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESOLUTION OF THE NHA AND THE DECISION OF THE OFFICE
adjudged as a nullity because the other heirs were disregarded. The defendant heirs of Francisca Herrera OF THE PRESIDENT HAVE ATTAINED FINALITY, AND IF SO, WHETHER OR NOT THE
alleged that the complaint was barred by laches and that the decision of the Office of the President was PRINCIPLE OF ADMINISTRATIVE RES JUDICATA BARS THE COURT FROM FURTHER
already final and executory.14 They also contended that the transfer of purchase of the subject lots is DETERMINING WHO BETWEEN THE PARTIES HAS PREFERENTIAL RIGHTS FOR AWARD
perfectly valid as the same was supported by a consideration and that Francisca Herrera paid for the OVER THE SUBJECT LOTS;
property with the use of her own money.15 Further, they argued that plaintiff's occupation of the property B. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT HAS JURISDICTION TO MAKE THE AWARD ON THE
was by mere tolerance and that they had been paying taxes thereon.16 SUBJECT LOTS; AND
The Regional Trial Court issued an Order dated June 14, 1988 dismissing the case for lack of C. WHETHER OR NOT THE AWARD OF THE SUBJECT LOTS BY THE NHA IS ARBITRARY.
jurisdiction.17 The Court of Appeals in a Decision dated June 26, 1989 reversed and held that the Regional We rule for the respondents.
Trial Court had jurisdiction to hear and decide the case involving "title and possession to real property Res judicata is a concept applied in review of lower court decisions in accordance with the hierarchy of
within its jurisdiction."18 The case was then remanded for further proceedings on the merits. courts. But jurisprudence has also recognized the rule of administrative res judicata: "the rule which
A pre-trial was set after which trial ensued. forbids the reopening of a matter once judicially determined by competent authority applies as well to
On March 9, 1998, the Regional Trial Court rendered a Decision setting aside the resolution of the NHA the judicial and quasi-judicial facts of public, executive or administrative officers and boards acting within
and the decision of the Office of the President awarding the subject lots in favor of Francisca Herrera. It their jurisdiction as to the judgments of courts having general judicial powers . . . It has been declared
declared the deeds of sale executed by NHA in favor of Herrera's heirs null and void. The Register of that whenever final adjudication of persons invested with power to decide on the property and rights of
Deeds of Laguna, Calamba Branch was ordered to cancel the Transfer Certificate of Title issued. the citizen is examinable by the Supreme Court, upon a writ of error or a certiorari, such final adjudication
Attorney's fees were also awarded to private respondent. may be pleaded as res judicata."20 To be sure, early jurisprudence were already mindful that the
The Regional Trial Court ruled that the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" was not an assignment of rights but a doctrine of res judicata cannot be said to apply exclusively to decisions rendered by what are usually
disposition of property which shall take effect upon death. It then held that the said document must first understood as courts without unreasonably circumscribing the scope thereof and that the more
be submitted to probate before it can transfer property. equitable attitude is to allow extension of the defense to decisions of bodies upon whom judicial powers
Both the NHA and the heirs of Francisca Herrera filed their respective motions for reconsideration which have been conferred.
were both denied on July 21, 1998 for lack of merit. They both appealed to the Court of Appeals. The In Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals,21 the Court held that the rule prescribing
brief for the heirs of Francisca Herrera was denied admission by the appellate court in a Resolution dated that "administrative orders cannot be enforced in the courts in the absence of an express statutory
June 14, 2002 for being a "carbon copy" of the brief submitted by the NHA and for being filed seventy- provision for that purpose" was relaxed in favor of quasi-judicial agencies.
nine (79) days late. In fine, it should be remembered that quasi-judicial powers will always be subject to true judicial power—
On August 28, 2003, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court, viz: that which is held by the courts. Quasi-judicial power is defined as that power of adjudication of an
There is no dispute that the right to repurchase the subject lots was awarded to Margarita administrative agency for the "formulation of a final order."22 This function applies to the actions,
Herrera in 1959. There is also no dispute that Margarita executed a "Sinumpaang Salaysay" on discretion and similar acts of public administrative officers or bodies who are required to investigate
October 7, 1960. Defendant NHA claims that the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" is, in effect, a waiver facts, or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a basis for
or transfer of rights and interest over the subject lots in favor of Francisca Herrera. This Court their official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature. 23 However, administrative agencies are
is disposed to believe otherwise. After a perusal of the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" of Margarita not considered courts, in their strict sense. The doctrine of separation of powers reposes the three great
Herrera, it can be ascertained from its wordings taken in their ordinary and grammatical sense powers into its three (3) branches—the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. Each department is
that the document is a simple disposition of her estate to take effect after her death. Clearly co-equal and coordinate, and supreme in its own sphere. Accordingly, the executive department may
the Court finds that the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" is a will of Margarita Herrera. Evidently, if the not, by its own fiat, impose the judgment of one of its agencies, upon the judiciary. Indeed, under the
expanded jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, it is empowered to "determine whether or not there has stands, NHA cannot make another contract to sell to other parties of a property already initially paid for
been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or by the decedent. Such would be an act contrary to the law on succession and the law on sales and
instrumentality of the Government."24 Courts have an expanded role under the 1987 Constitution in the obligations.38
resolution of societal conflicts under the grave abuse clause of Article VIII which includes that duty to When the original buyer died, the NHA should have considered the estate of the decedent as the next
check whether the other branches of government committed an act that falls under the category of "person"39likely to stand in to fulfill the obligation to pay the rest of the purchase price. The opposition of
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. 25 other heirs to the repurchase by Francisca Herrera should have put the NHA on guard as to the award of
Next, petitioner cites Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 or the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 26 where it is the lots. Further, the Decision in the said Civil Case No. B-1263 (questioning the Deed of Self-
therein provided that the Intermediate Appellate Court (now, Court of Appeals) shall exercise the Adjudication) which rendered the deed therein null and void40 should have alerted the NHA that there are
"exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments, decisions, resolutions, orders or awards, of the other heirs to the interests and properties of the decedent who may claim the property after a testate or
Regional Trial Courts and Quasi-Judicial agencies, instrumentalities, boards or commissions, except intestate proceeding is concluded. The NHA therefore acted arbitrarily in the award of the lots.
those falling within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Constitution…" 27 and We need not delve into the validity of the will. The issue is for the probate court to determine. We affirm
contends that the Regional Trial Court has no jurisdiction to rule over awards made by the NHA. the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Court which noted that it has an element of testamentary
Well-within its jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals, in its decision of August 28, 2003, already ruled that the disposition where (1) it devolved and transferred property; (2) the effect of which shall transpire upon the
issue of the trial court's authority to hear and decide the instant case has already been settled in the death of the instrument maker.41
decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 26, 1989 (which has become final and executory on August IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition of the National Housing Authority is DENIED. The decision of the Court
20, 1989 as per entry of judgment dated October 10, 1989). 28 We find no reason to disturb this ruling. of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 68370 dated August 28, 2003, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court
Courts are duty-bound to put an end to controversies. The system of judicial review should not be of San Pedro, Laguna in Civil Case No. B-2780 dated March 9, 1998, is hereby AFFIRMED.
misused and abused to evade the operation of a final and executory judgment. 29 The appellate court's No cost.
decision becomes the law of the case which must be adhered to by the parties by reason of policy. 30 SO ORDERED.
Next, petitioner NHA contends that its resolution was grounded on meritorious grounds when it
considered the application for the purchase of lots. Petitioner argues that it was the daughter Francisca
Herrera who filed her application on the subject lot; that it considered the respective application and
inquired whether she had all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications of a possible awardee. It
is the position of the petitioner that private respondent possessed all the qualifications and none of the
disqualifications for lot award and hence the award was not done arbitrarily. G.R. No. 84450. February 4, 1991.*
The petitioner further argues that assuming that the "Sinumpaang Salaysay" was a will, it could not bind PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. GLORIA UMALI y AMADO AND SUZETH
the NHA.31That, "insofar as [the] NHA is concerned, it is an evidence that the subject lots were indeed UMALI y AMADO, defendants-appellants.
transferred by Margarita Herrera, the original awardee, to Francisca Herrera was then applying to Criminal Law; Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972; Evidence; Credibility of witnesses; Trial judge’s assessment
purchase the same before it."32 of the credibility of the testimony of the witnesses are accorded with great respect on appeal.—Time and
We are not impressed. When the petitioner received the "Sinumpaang Salaysay," it should have noted again, it is stressed that this Court is enjoined from casually modifying or rejecting the trial court’s factual
that the effectivity of the said document commences at the time of death of the author of the
findings. Such factual findings, particularly the trial judge’s assessment of the credibility of the testimony
instrument; in her words "sakaling ako'y bawian na ng Dios ng aking buhay…" Hence, in such period, all
the interests of the person should cease to be hers and shall be in the possession of her estate until they of the witnesses are accorded with great respect on appeal for the trial judge enjoys the advantage of
are transferred to her heirs by virtue of Article 774 of the Civil Code which provides that: directly and at first hand observing and examining the testimonial and other proofs as they are presented
Art. 774. Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and at the trial and is therefore better situated to form accurate impressions and conclusions on the basis
obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance, of a person are transmitted thereof.
through his death to another or others either by his will or by operation of law.33 Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; In the absence of any showing that the trial court had over-looked
By considering the document, petitioner NHA should have noted that the original applicant has already certain substantial facts, said factual findings are entitled to great weight and indeed are binding even on
passed away. Margarita Herrera passed away on October 27, 1971.34 The NHA issued its resolution35 on
the Supreme Court.—The findings of the trial court are entitled to great weight, and should not be
February 5, 1986. The NHA gave due course to the application made by Francisca Herrera without
considering that the initial applicant's death would transfer all her property, rights and obligations to the disturbed on appeal unless it is shown that the trial court had overlooked certain facts of weight and
estate including whatever interest she has or may have had over the disputed properties. To the extent of importance, it being acknowledged that the court below, having seen and heard the witnesses during the
the interest that the original owner had over the property, the same should go to her estate. Margarita trial, is in a better position to evaluate their testimonies (People v. Alvarez y Soriano, G.R. No. 70831, 29
Herrera had an interest in the property and that interest should go to her estate upon her demise so as to July 1988, 163 SCRA 745, 249; People v. Dorado, G.R. No. L-23464, October 31, 1969; 30 SCRA 53; People
be able to properly distribute them later to her heirs—in accordance with a will or by operation of law. v. Espejo, G.R. No. L-27708, December 19, 1970, 36 SCRA 400). Hence, in the absence of any showing
The death of Margarita Herrera does not extinguish her interest over the property. Margarita Herrera had
that the trial court had overlooked certain substantial facts, said factual findings are entitled to great
an existing Contract to Sell36 with NHA as the seller. Upon Margarita Herrera's demise, this Contract to
Sell was neither nullified nor revoked. This Contract to Sell was an obligation on both parties—Margarita weight, and indeed are binding even on this Court.
Herrera and NHA. Obligations are transmissible.37 Margarita Herrera's obligation to pay became Same; Same; Same; Same; Persons convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony
transmissible at the time of her death either by will or by operation of law. are disqualified from being witnesses to a will.—The phrase “conviction of a crime unless otherwise
If we sustain the position of the NHA that this document is not a will, then the interests of the decedent provided by law” takes into account Article 821 of the Civil Code which states that persons “convicted of
should transfer by virtue of an operation of law and not by virtue of a resolution by the NHA. For as it falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony” are disqualified from being witnesses to a will.”
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Fact that the witness is facing several criminal charges when he
testified did not in any way disqualify him as a witness.—Since the witness Francisco Manalo is not MEDIALDEA, J.:
convicted of any of the above-mentioned crimes to disqualify him as a witness and this case does not In Criminal Case No. 85-473 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 53, Lucena City, Gloria Umali and Suzeth
involve the probate of a will, We rule that the fact that said witness is facing several criminal charges Umali were charged for violation of Section 4, Article 1 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 under an
information which reads:
when he testified did not in any way disqualify him as a witness.
That on or about the 22nd day of April, 1985, at Recto Street, Poblacion, Municipality of
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; In the absence of any evidence that witness Francisco Manalo Tiaong, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
was actuated by improper motive, his testimony must be accorded full credence.—The testimony of a the abovenamed accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping each
witness should be given full faith and credit, in the absence of evidence that he was actuated by improper other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver and give marijuana
motive (People v. Melgar, G.R. No. 75268, 29 January 1988, 157 SCRA 718). Hence, in the absence of any or Indian Hemp, a prohibited drug to one Francisco Manalo y Arellano, without authority of
evidence that witness Francisco Manalo was actuated by improper motive, his testimony must be law.
accorded full credence. Contrary to law. (Rollo, pp. 7-8)
Upon arraignment, Gloria Umali entered a plea of "not, guilty" as accused Suzeth Umali remained at
Same; Same; Same; Appellant’s contention that she was a victim of a “frame-up” is devoid of merit.—
large. After trial, the lower court rendered a decision on September 9, 1987, the dispositive portion
Appellant’s contention that she was a victim of a “frame-up” is devoid of merit. “Courts must be vigilant. thereof states:
A handy defense in such cases is that it is a frame-up and that the police attempted to extort from the WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds accused Gloria Umali guilty beyond
accused. Extreme caution must be exercised in appreciating such defense. It is just as easy to concoct as reasonable doubt of violating Sec. 4, Art. 1 (sic) of RA 6425 as amended, otherwise known as
a frame-up. At all times the police, the prosecution and the Courts must be always on guard against these the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
hazards in the administration of criminal justice. Perpetua. Accused being a detention prisoner is entitled to enjoy the privileges of her
Same; Same; Same; A conviction for a criminal offense must be based on clear and positive evidence and preventive imprisonment. The case against Suzeth Umali, her co-accused in this case is
hereby ordered ARCHIVED to be revived until the arrest of said accused is effected. The
not on mere presumptions.—Conviction cannot be predicated on a presumption or speculation. A
warrant of arrest issued against her is hereby ordered reiterated.
conviction for a criminal offense must be based on clear and positive evidence and not on mere SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 30)
presumptions (Gaerlan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 57876, 6 November 1989, 179 SCRA 20). The Hence, this appeal from the lower court's decision with the following assignment of errors:
prosecution’s evidence consisted of the testimony of witness Manalo and the law enforcers as well as the I
physical evidence consisting of the seized marked peso bills, the two (2) foils of marijuana purchased and THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE BIASED
the can containing sixteen (16) aluminum foils of dried marijuana. TESTIMONY OF FRANCISCO MANALO
II
Same; Same; Same; Law enforcers are presumed to have regularly performed their duty in the absence
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING THE PROSECUTION'S EVIDENCE
of proof to the contrary.—Credence is accorded to the prosecution’s evidence more so as it consisted WHICH WERE OBTAINED IN VIOLATION OF ACCUSED'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
mainly of testimonies of policemen. Law enforcers are presumed to have regularly performed their duty AGAINST ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE
in the absence of proof to the contrary (People v. Tejada, G.R. No. 81520, 21 February 1989, 170 SCRA III
497). Hence, in the absence of proof to the contrary, full credence should be accorded to the THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING THAT ACCUSED NEVER DISPUTED
prosecution’s evidence. THE CLAIM THAT SHE WAS THE SOURCE OF MARIJUANA LEAVES FOUND IN THE
Same; Same; Same; Penalties; PD No. 1675 raised the penalty for selling prohibited drugs from life POSSESSION OF FRANCISCO MANALO ON APRIL 5, 1985 AND THAT WHICH WAS USED BY
PIERRE PANGAN RESULTING TO THE LATTER'S DRUG DEPENDENCY
imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from twenty to thirty thousand pesos.—Pursuant to recent
IV
jurisprudence and law, the case is covered by Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425 as amended by THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED GLORIA 1, GUILTY OF
Presidential Decree No. 1675, effective February 17, 1980, which raised the penalty for selling prohibited VIOLATION OF DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 1972 ON THE BASIS OF MERE CONJECTURES
drugs from life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from twenty to thirty thousand pesos (People v. AND NOT ON FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES PROVEN
Adriano, G.R. No. 65349, October 31, 1984, 133 SCRA 132). Thus, the trial court correctly imposed the V
penalty of life imprisonment but failed to impose a fine. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED
Constitutional Law; Search Warrant; Since the search is predicated on a valid search warrant, absent any DID NOT PASS THE TEST OF MORAL CERTAINTY. (Rollo, p. 49)
The antecedent facts of this case as recounted by the trial court are as follows:
showing that such was procured maliciously the things seized are admissible in evidence.—The
On April 27, 1985 Pierre Pangan a minor was investigated by Pat. Felino Noguerra for drug dependency
appellant’s allegation that the search warrant is illegal cannot also be given any merit. “Where marked and for an alleged crime of robbery. In the course of the investigation, the policemen discovered that
peso bills were seized by the police as a result of the search made on the appellant, the admissibility of Pierre Pangan was capable of committing crime against property, only if under the influence of drug (sic).
these marked peso bills hinges on the legality of the arrest and search on the person of the appellant As Pierre Pangan is a minor, the police investigators sought the presence of his parents. Leopoldo
(People v. Paco, G.R. No. 76893, 27 February 1989, 170 SCRA 681). Since the search is predicated on a Pangan, father of the minor was invited to the police headquarters and was informed about the problem
valid search warrant, absent any showing that such was procured maliciously the things seized are of his son. Mr. Pangan asked the police investigators if something could be done to determine the source
of the marijuana which has not only socially affected his son, but other minors in the community.
admissible in evidence.
Previous to the case of Pierre Pangan was the case of Francisco Manalo, who was likewise investigated
by operatives of the Tiaong, Quezon Police Department and for which a case for violation of the In Criminal Case No. 85-516, Francisco Manalo was charged of having in his possession Indian
Dangerous Drug Act was filed against him, covered by Criminal Case No. 85-516 before Branch 60 of the Hemp on April 5, 1985, in violation of Section 8, Article 11 of Republic Act 6425 as amended,
Regional Trial Court of Lucena City. Aside from said case, accused Francisco Manalo was likewise facing otherwise as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. The Court in rendering against him disposed
other charges such as concealment of deadly weapon and other crimes against property. Pat. Felino the case as follows:
Noguerra went to the Tiaong Municipal Jail, and sought the help of Francisco Manalo and told him the In view of the foregoing, the Court hereby finds the accused Guilty beyond
social and pernicious effect of prohibited drugs like marijuana being peddled to minors of Tiaong, reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal possession of "Indian Hemp" penalized
Quezon. Manalo although a detention prisoner was touched by the appeal made to him by the policeman under Sec. 8 of Article 6425 (sic); as amended otherwise known as the Dangerous
and agreed to help in the identification of the source of the marijuana. In return he asked the policeman Drugs Act of 1972 and the Court hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment
to help him in some cases pending against him. He did not negotiate his case for violating the dangerous of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional to six (6) years and one
drug act, as he has entered a plea of guilty to the charged (sic) before the sala of Judge Eriberto Rosario. (1) day of Prision Mayor and to pay a fine of Six Thousand Pesos (P6,000.00). Let
With the consent of Francisco Manalo, Pfc. Sarmiento, Chief of the Investigation Division gave him four the period of detention of the accused be credited to his sentence.
(4) marked P5.00 bills to buy marijuana from sources known to him. The serial numbers of the money Accused never disputed the claim of Francisco Manalo that the marijuana found in his
was entered in the police blotter. The instruction was (sic) for Manalo to bring back the prohibited drug possession on April 5, 1985 in the municipality of Tiaong, Quezon was sold to him by the
purchased by him to the police headquarters. Few minutes there after (sic), Manalo returned with two (2) accused Gloria Umali. The defense also did not dispute the claim of the prosecution that in the
foils of dried marijuana which lie allegedly bought from the accused Gloria Umali. Thereafter, he was investigation of Pierre Pangan, the police investigator came to know that Gloria Umali was the
asked by the police investigators to give a statement on the manner and circumstances of how he was source of the marijuana leaves which he used and smoked resulting in his present drug
able to purchase two (2) marijuana foils from accused Gloria Umali. With the affidavit of Francisco dependency. (Rollo, pp. 22-27)
Manalo, supported by the two (2) foils of marijuana. the Chief of the Investigation Division petitioned the The appellant vehemently denied the findings of the lower court and insisted that said court committed
Court for the issuance of a search warrant as a justification for them to search the house of Gloria Umali reversible errors in convicting her. She alleged that witness Francisco Manalo is not reputed to be
located at Rector (sic) Street. Poblacion, Tiaong, Quezon. After securing the same, the police operatives, trustworthy and reliable and that his words should not be taken on its face value. Furthermore, he
went to the house of Gloria Umali and served the search warrant on her. Confiscated from the person of stressed that said witness has several charges in court and because of his desire to have some of his cases
Gloria Umali were the four P5.00 bills with serial numbers BA26943, DT388005, CC582000 and EW69873, dismissed, he was likely to tell falsehood.
respectively as reflected in the police blotter. Likewise, present in the four (4) P5.00 bills were the letters However, the plaintiff-appellee through the Solicitor General said that even if Francisco Manalo was then
T which were placed by the police investigators to further identify the marked four (4) P5.00 bills. The facing several criminal charges when he testified, such fact did not in any way disqualify him as a witness.
searched (sic) in the house was made in the presence of Brgy. Capt. Punzalan. The search resulted in the "His testimony is not only reasonable and probable but more so, it was also corroborated in its material
confiscation of a can of milo, containing sixteen (16) foils of dried marijuana leaves which were placed in a respect by the other prosecution witnesses, especially the police officers." (Rollo, pp. 83-84)
tupperware and kept in the kitchen where rice was being stored. The return of the search warrant reads The appellant also claimed that the marked money as well as the marijuana were confiscated for no other
as follows: purpose than using them as evidence against the accused in the proceeding for violation of Dangerous
DATE: 22 April 1985 Drugs Act and therefore the search warrant issued is illegal from the very beginning. She stressed that
WHAT: "RAID" there can be no other plausible explanation other than that she was a victim of a frame-up.
WHERE: Residence of Dr. Emiliano Umali In relation to this contention, the Solicitor General noted that it is not true that the evidences submitted
Poblacion, Tiaong, Quezon by the prosecution were obtained in violation of her constitutional right against illegal search and seizure.
WHO: MBRS. OF TIAONG INP Furthermore, the appellant contended that the essential elements of the crime of which she was charged
TIME STARTED/ARRIVED AT SAID PLACE: were never established by clear and convincing evidence to warrant the findings of the court a quo. She
221410H Apr '85 also stressed that the court's verdict of conviction is merely based on surmises and conjectures.
SERVED TO: MRS. GLORIA UMALI However, the Solicitor General noted that the positive and categorical testimonies of the prosecution
MR. EMILIANO UMALI witnesses who had personal knowledge of the happening together with the physical evidence submitted
PERSON APPREHENDED/PROPERTY SEIZED/RECOVERED clearly prove the guilt beyond reasonable doubt of accused-appellant for violation of the Dangerous
Mrs. Gloria Umali 16 Aluminum Foils of Drugs Act.
Mr. Emiliano Umali Suspected Marijuana leaves Time and again, it is stressed that this Court is enjoined from casually modifying or rejecting the trial
TIME/DATE LEFT SAID PLACE: 221450H Apr '85 court's factual findings. Such factual findings, particularly the trial judge's assessment of the credibility of
WITNESSES (sic) BY: the testimony of the witnesses are accorded with great respect on appeal for the trial judge enjoys the
1. (Sgd) Reynaldo S. Pasumbal advantage of directly and at first hand observing and examining the testimonial and other proofs as they
2. (Sgd) Luisabel P. Punzalan are presented at the trial and is therefore better situated to form accurate impressions and conclusions
3. (Sgd) Arnulfo C. Veneracion on the basis thereof (See People v. Bravo, G.R. No. 68422, 29 December, 1989,180 SCRA 694,699). The
4. (Sgd) Isidro C. Capino findings of the trial court are entitled to great weight, and should not be disturbed on appeal unless it is
Samples of the marijuana leaves confiscated were submitted to the PC Came Laboratory for shown that the trial court had overlooked certain facts of weight and importance, it being acknowledged
examination. Capt. Rosalinda Royales of the PC crime Laboratory took the witness stand, that the court below, having seen and heard the witnesses during the trial, is in a better position to
testified and identified the marijuana submitted to her and in a written report which was evaluate their testimonies (People v. Alverez y Soriano, G.R. No. 70831, 29 July 1988, 163 SCRA 745, 249;
marked as Exhibit "G" she gave the following findings: People v. Dorado, G.R. No. L-23464, October 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 53; People v. Espejo, G.R. No. L-27708,
Qualitative examination conducted on the specimen mentioned above gave December 19, 1970, 36 SCRA 400). Hence, in the absence of any showing that the trial court had
POSITIVE result to the tests fur marijuana.
overlooked certain substantial facts, said factual findings are entitled to great weight, and indeed are thousand pesos (People v. Adriano, G.R. No. 65349, October 31, 1984, 133 SCRA 132) Thus, the trial court
binding even on this Court. correctly imposed the penalty of life imprisonment but failed to impose a fine.
Rule 130, Section 20 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that: ACCORDINGLY, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED with the modification that a fine of twenty
Except as provided in the next succeeding section, all persons who can perceive, and thousand pesos (P20,000.00) be imposed, as it is hereby imposed, on the accused-appellant.
perceiving can make known their perception to others may be witnesses. SO ORDERED.
Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome of the case, or conviction of a crime unless
otherwise provided by law, shall not be a ground for disqualification.
The phrase "conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law" takes into account Article 821 of the
Civil Code which states that persons 91 convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false
testimony" are disqualified from being witnesses to a will." (Paras, RULES OF COURT ANNOTATED, Vol.
IV First Ed., p. 44)
Since the witness Francisco Manalo is not convicted of any of the above-mentioned crimes to disqualify
him as a witness and this case does not involve the probate of a will, We rule that the fact that said
witness is facing several criminal charges when he testified did not in any way disqualify him as a witness.
The testimony of a witness should be given full faith and credit, in the absence of evidence that he was
actuated by improper motive (People v. Melgar, G.R. No. 75268,29 January 1988, 157 SCRA 718). Hence,
in the absence of any evidence that witness Francisco Manalo was actuated by improper motive, his
testimony must be accorded full credence.
Appellant's contention that she was a victim of a "frame-up" is devoid of merit.1âwphi1 "Courts must be
vigilant. A handy defense in such cases is that it is a frame-up and that the police attempted to extort
from the accused. Extreme caution must be exercised in appreciating such defense. It is just as easy to
concoct as a frame-up. At all times the police, the prosecution and the Courts must be always on guard
against these hazards in the administration of criminal justice." (People v. Rojo, G.R. No. 82737, 5 July
1989, 175 SCRA 119)
The appellant's allegation that the search warrant is illegal cannot also be given any merit. "Where
marked peso bills were seized by the police as a result of the search made on the appellant, the
admissibility of these marked peso bills hinges on the legality of the arrest and search on the person of
the appellant" (People v. Paco, G.R. No. 76893, 27 February 1989, 170 SCRA 681). Since the search is
predicated on a valid search warrant, absent any showing that such was procured maliciously the things
seized are admissible in evidence.
Appellant argues that the lower court's verdict is based on surmises and conjectures, hence the essential
elements of the crime were never established by clear and convincing evidence.
Conviction cannot be predicated on a presumption or speculation. A conviction for a criminal offense
must be based on clear and positive evidence and not on mere presumptions (Gaerlan v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 57876, 6 November 1989, 179 SCRA 20). The prosecution's evidence consisted of the
testimony of witness Manalo and the law enforcers as well as the physical evidence consisting of the
seized marked peso bills, the two (2) foils of marijuana purchased and the can containing sixteen (16)
aluminum foils of dried marijuana.
Credence is accorded to the prosecution's evidence more so as it consisted mainly of testimonies of
policemen. Law enforcers are presumed to have regularly performed their duty in the absence of proof to
the contrary (People v. Tejada, G.R. No. 81520, 21 February 1989, 170 SCRA 497). Hence, in the absence
of proof to the contrary, full credence should be accorded to the prosecution's evidence. The evidence on
record sufficiently established that Umali gave two (2) foils of marijuana to witness Manalo for which she
was given and received four (4) marked five peso (P5.00) bills, and fully supports conviction for drug
pushing in violation of Section 4 Article II of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Thus, the Court has no option but to declare that the trial court did not err in finding, on the basis of the
evidence on record, that the accused-appellant Gloria Umali violated Section 4, Article II of the
Dangerous Drugs Act.
Pursuant to recent jurisprudence and law, the case is covered by Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425 as
amended by Presidential Decree No. 1675, effective February 17, 1980, which raised the penalty for
selling prohibited drugs from life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from twenty to thirty