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On October 27, 1987, respondent filed a petition for probate of

PAZ SAMANIEGO-CELADA, petitioner, vs. LUCIA the will of Margarita before the RTC of Makati. The case was docketed
D. ABENA, respondent. as SP Proc. No. M-1607 and consolidated with SP Proc. No. M-1531.
On March 2, 1993, the RTC rendered a decision declaring the
last will and testament of Margarita probated and respondent as the
QUISUMBING, J : p
executor of the will. The dispositive portion of the decision states:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of In view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby
rendered:
Civil Procedure seeking to reverse the Decision 1 dated October 13, 2000
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 41756, which affirmed the 1) declaring the will as probated;
Decision 2 dated March 2, 1993 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
2) declaring Lucia Abena as the executor of the will
Branch 66, Makati City. The RTC had declared the last will and who will serve as such without a bond as
testament of Margarita S. Mayores probated and designated respondent stated in paragraph VI of the probated will;
Lucia D. Abena as the executor of her will. It also ordered the issuance
of letters testamentary in favor of respondent. 3) ordering the issuance of letters testamentary in favor
of Lucia Abena. IAETSC

The facts are as follows:


So ordered. 4
Petitioner Paz Samaniego-Celada was the first cousin of
decedent Margarita S. Mayores (Margarita) while respondent was the Petitioner appealed the RTC decision to the Court of Appeals.
decedent's lifelong companion since 1929. CTAIDE
But the Court of Appeals, in a decision dated October 13, 2000,
affirmed in toto the RTC ruling. The dispositive portion of the Court of
On April 27, 1987, Margarita died single and without any Appeals' decision states:
ascending nor descending heirs as her parents, grandparents and siblings
predeceased her. She was survived by her first cousins WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the
appeal having no merit in fact and in law, is
Catalina Samaniego-Bombay, Manuelita Samaniego Sajonia,
hereby ORDERED DISMISSED and the appealed Decision
Feliza Samaniego, and petitioner. of the trial court AFFIRMED IN TOTO, with cost to
Before her death, Margarita executed a Last Will and oppositors-appellants.
Testament 3 on February 2, 1987 where she bequeathed one-half of her SO ORDERED. 5
undivided share of a real property located at Singalong Manila,
consisting of 209.8 square meters, and covered by Transfer Certificate of Hence, the instant petition citing the following issues:
Title (TCT) No. 1343 to respondent, Norma A. Pahingalo, and Florentino I.
M. Abena in equal shares or one-third portion each. She likewise
bequeathed one-half of her undivided share of a real property located at WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS
COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT
San Antonio Village, Makati, consisting of 225 square meters, and
INVALIDATING THE WILL SINCE IT DID NOT
covered by TCT No. 68920 to respondent, Isabelo M. Abena, and CONFORM TO THE FORMALITIES REQUIRED BY
Amanda M. Abena in equal shares or one-third portion each. Margarita LAW;
also left all her personal properties to respondent whom she likewise
designated as sole executor of her will.
HacADE
II.

On August 11, 1987, petitioner filed a petition for letters of WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS
administration of the estate of Margarita before the RTC of Makati. The COMMITTED ERROR IN NOT INVALIDATING THE
WILL BECAUSE IT WAS PROCURED THROUGH
case was docketed as SP Proc. No. M-1531. UNDUE INFLUENCE AND PRESSURE[;] AND HSaIDc
III. After careful consideration of the parties' contentions, we rule in
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS
favor of respondent.
GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT DECLARING PETITIONER, We find that the issues raised by petitioner concern pure
HER SIBLINGS AND COUSIN AS THE LEGAL HEIRS OF questions of fact, which may not be the subject of a petition for review
MARGARITA S. MAYORES AND IN NOT ISSUING on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION TO HER. 6
The issues that petitioner is raising now i.e., whether or not the
Briefly stated, the issues are (1) whether the Court of Appeals will was signed by the testator in the presence of the witnesses and of
erred in not declaring the will invalid for failure to comply with the one another, whether or not the signatures of the witnesses on the pages
formalities required by law, (2) whether said court erred in not declaring of the will were signed on the same day, and whether or not undue
the will invalid because it was procured through undue influence and influence was exerted upon the testator which compelled her to sign the
pressure, and (3) whether it erred in not declaring petitioner and her will, are all questions of fact.
siblings as the legal heirs of Margarita, and in not issuing letters of
administration to petitioner.
cCaSHA
This Court does not resolve questions of fact in a petition for
review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Section
Petitioner, in her Memorandum, 7 argues that Margarita's will 1 12 of Rule 45 limits this Court's review to questions of law only. THaDEA

failed to comply with the formalities required under Article 805 8 of the
Civil Code because the will was not signed by the testator in the presence Well-settled is the rule that the Supreme Court is not a trier of
of the instrumental witnesses and in the presence of one another. She facts. When supported by substantial evidence, the findings of fact of the
also argues that the signatures of the testator on pages A, B, and C of the Court of Appeals are conclusive and binding on the parties and are not
will are not the same or similar, indicating that they were not signed on reviewable by this Court, unless the case falls under any of the following
the same day. She further argues that the will was procured through recognized exceptions:
undue influence and pressure because at the time of execution of the will, (1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on
Margarita was weak, sickly, jobless and entirely dependent upon speculation, surmises and conjectures;
respondent and her nephews for support, and these alleged handicaps
allegedly affected her freedom and willpower to decide on her own. (2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or
Petitioner thus concludes that Margarita's total dependence on respondent impossible;
and her nephews compelled her to sign the will. Petitioner likewise (3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;
argues that the Court of Appeals should have declared her and her
siblings as the legal heirs of Margarita since they are her only living (4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;
collateral relatives in accordance with Articles 1009 9 and 1010 10 of the (5) When the findings of fact are conflicting;
Civil Code. HaTAEc

(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went


Respondent, for her part, argues in her Memorandum 11 that the beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary
petition for review raises questions of fact, not of law and as a rule, to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; CcTHaD

findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are final and conclusive and
(7) When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court;
cannot be reviewed on appeal to the Supreme Court. She also points out
that although the Court of Appeals at the outset opined there was no (8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of
compelling reason to review the petition, the Court of Appeals proceeded specific evidence on which they are based;
to tackle the assigned errors and rule that the will was validly executed, (9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the
sustaining the findings of the trial court that the formalities required by petitioners' main and reply briefs are not disputed by
law were duly complied with. The Court of Appeals also concurred with the respondents; and
the findings of the trial court that the testator, Margarita, was of sound
mind when she executed the will.
(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are interpretation" enunciated in Article 809 of the Civil Code
premised on the supposed absence of evidence and which reads:
contradicted by the evidence on record. 13 STcHEI

"In the absence of bad faith, forgery or


We find that this case does not involve any of the fraud, or undue [and] improper pressure and
abovementioned exceptions. influence, defects and imperfections in the form of
attestation or in the language used therein shall not
Nonetheless, a review of the findings of the RTC as upheld by render the will invalid if it is proved that the will
the Court of Appeals, reveal that petitioner's arguments lack basis. The was in fact executed and attested in substantial
RTC correctly held: compliance with all the requirements of Article
805."
With [regard] to the contention of the oppositors
[Paz Samaniego-Celada, et al.] that the testator [Margarita The court also rejects the contention of the oppositors
Mayores] was not mentally capable of making a will at the that the signatures of the testator were affixed on different
time of the execution thereof, the same is without merit. The occasions based on their observation that the signature on the
oppositors failed to establish, by preponderance of evidence, first page is allegedly different in size, texture and appearance
said allegation and contradict the presumption that the testator as compared with the signatures in the succeeding pages. After
was of sound mind (See Article 800 of the Civil Code). In examination of the signatures, the court does not share the
fact, witness for the oppositors, Dr. Ramon Lamberte, who, in same observation as the oppositors. The picture (Exhibit "H-
some occasions, attended to the testator months before her 3") shows that the testator was affixing her signature in the
death, testified that Margarita Mayores could engage in a presence of the instrumental witnesses and the notary. There is
normal conversation and he even stated that the illness of the no evidence to show that the first signature was procured
testator does not warrant hospitalization. . . . Not one of the earlier than February 2, 1987. cTEICD

oppositor's witnesses has mentioned any instance that they Finally, the court finds that no pressure nor undue
observed act/s of the testator during her lifetime that could be influence was exerted on the testator to execute the subject
construed as a manifestation of mental incapacity. The testator will. In fact, the picture reveals that the testator was in a good
may be admitted to be physically weak but it does not mood and smiling with the other witnesses while executing the
necessarily follow that she was not of sound mind. [The] subject will (See Exhibit "H").
testimonies of contestant witnesses are pure aforethought. aHECST

In fine, the court finds that the testator was mentally


Anent the contestants' submission that the will is capable of making the will at the time of its execution, that the
fatally defective for the reason that its attestation clause states notarial will presented to the court is the same notarial will
that the will is composed of three (3) pages while in truth and that was executed and that all the formal requirements (See
in fact, the will consists of two (2) pages only because the Article 805 of the Civil Code) in the execution of a will have
attestation is not a part of the notarial will, the same is not been substantially complied with in the subject notarial
accurate. While it is true that the attestation clause is not a part
will. 14 (Emphasis supplied). IcDCaT

of the will, the court, after examining the totality of the will, is
of the considered opinion that error in the number of pages of Thus, we find no reason to disturb the abovementioned findings
the will as stated in the attestation clause is not material to of the RTC. Since, petitioner and her siblings are not compulsory heirs of
invalidate the subject will. It must be noted that the subject the decedent under Article 887 15 of the Civil Code and as the decedent
instrument is consecutively lettered with pages A, B, and C validly disposed of her properties in a will duly executed and probated,
which is a sufficient safeguard from the possibility of an
petitioner has no legal right to claim any part of the decedent's estate.
omission of some of the pages. The error must have been
brought about by the honest belief that the will is the whole WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision
instrument consisting of three (3) pages inclusive of the dated October 13, 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
attestation clause and the acknowledgement. The position of 41756 is AFFIRMED. HASDcC

the court is in consonance with the "doctrine of liberal


Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED. fails to state a cause of action; and (c) the case is not prosecuted by the real
parties-in-interest, as there is no showing that the petitioners have been
(Samaniego-Celada v. Abena, G.R. No. 145545, [June 30, 2008], 579 PHIL
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judicially declared as Magdaleno's lawful heirs. 10


60-69)
The RTC Ruling
HEIRS OF MAGDALENO YPON, namely, On July 27, 2011, the RTC issued the assailed July 27, 2011
ALVARO YPON, ERUDITA Y. BARON, Order, 11 finding that the subject complaint failed to state a cause of action
CICERO YPON, WILSON YPON, VICTOR YPON, against Gaudioso. It observed that while the plaintiffs therein had established
AND HINIDINO Y. PEÑALOSA, petitioners, vs. their relationship with Magdaleno in a previous special proceeding for the
GAUDIOSO PONTERAS RICAFORTE a.k.a. issuance of letters of administration, 12 this did not mean that they could
"GAUDIOSO E. YPON," and THE REGISTER OF already be considered as the decedent's compulsory heirs. Quite the contrary,
DEEDS of TOLEDO CITY,respondents. Gaudioso satisfactorily established the fact that he is Magdaleno's son — and
hence, his compulsory heir — through the documentary evidence he
submitted which consisted of: (a) a marriage contract
PERLAS-BERNABE, J : p between Magdaleno and Epegenia Evangelista; (b) a Certificate of Live
Birth; (c) a Letter dated February 19, 1960; and (d) a passport. 13
This is a direct recourse to the Court from the Regional Trial Court
of Toledo City, Branch 59 (RTC), through a petition for review The plaintiffs therein filed a motion for reconsideration which was,
on certiorari 1 under Rule 45 of theRules of Court, raising a pure question of however, denied on August 31, 2011 due to the counsel's failure to state the
law. In particular, petitioners assail the July 27, 2011 2 and August 31, date on which his Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Certificate of
2011 3 Orders of the RTC, dismissing Civil Case No. T-2246 for lack of Compliance was issued. 14
cause of action. Aggrieved, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs in Civil Case
The Facts No. T-2246, 15 sought direct recourse to the Court through the instant
petition.
On July 29, 2010, petitioners, together with some of their
cousins, 4 filed a complaint for Cancellation of Title and Reconveyance with The Issue Before the Court
Damages (subject complaint) against respondent Gaudioso Ponteras The core of the present controversy revolves around the issue of
Ricaforte a.k.a. "Gaudioso E. Ypon" (Gaudioso), docketed as Civil Case No. whether or not the RTC's dismissal of the case on the ground that the subject
T-2246. 5 In their complaint, they alleged thatMagdaleno Ypon (Magdaleno) complaint failed to state a cause of action was proper. HEcTAI

died intestate and childless on June 28, 1968, leaving behind Lot Nos. 2-AA,
2-C, 2-F, and 2-J which were then covered by Transfer Certificates of Title The Court's Ruling
(TCT) Nos. T-44 and T-77-A. 6 Claiming to be the sole heir of Magdaleno, The petition has no merit.
Gaudioso executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and caused the
cancellation of the aforementioned certificates of title, leading to their Cause of action is defined as the act or omission by which a party
subsequent transfer in his name under TCT Nos. T-2637 and T-2638, 7 to the violates a right of another. 16 It is well-settled that the existence of a cause of
prejudice of petitioners who are Magdaleno's collateral relatives and action is determined by the allegations in the complaint. 17 In this relation, a
successors-in-interest. 8
STaIHc
complaint is said to assert a sufficient cause of action if, admitting what
appears solely on its face to be correct, the plaintiff would be entitled to the
In his Answer, Gaudioso alleged that he is the lawful son relief prayed for. 18 Accordingly, if the allegations furnish sufficient basis by
of Magdaleno as evidenced by: (a) his certificate of Live Birth; (b) two (2) which the complaint can be maintained, the same should not be dismissed,
letters from Polytechnic School; and (c) a certified true copy of his regardless of the defenses that may be averred by the defendants. 19
passport. 9 Further, by way of affirmative defense, he claimed
that: (a) petitioners have no cause of action against him; (b) the complaint
As stated in the subject complaint, petitioners, who were among the adjudicated in an ordinary civil action which, as in this case, was
plaintiffs therein, alleged that they are the lawful heirs of Magdaleno and for the recovery of property. 22 (Emphasis and underscoring
based on the same, prayed that the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication executed supplied; citations omitted)
by Gaudioso be declared null and void and that the transfer certificates of
By way of exception, the need to institute a separate special
title issued in the latter's favor be cancelled. While the foregoing allegations,
proceeding for the determination of heirship may be dispensed with for the
if admitted to be true, would consequently warrant the reliefs sought for in
sake of practicality, as when the parties in the civil case had voluntarily
the said complaint, the rule that the determination of a decedent's lawful heirs
submitted the issue to the trial court and already presented their evidence
should be made in the corresponding special proceeding 20 precludes the
regarding the issue of heirship, and the RTC had consequently rendered
RTC, in an ordinary action for cancellation of title and reconveyance, from
judgment thereon, 23 or when a special proceeding had been instituted but
granting the same. In the case of Heirs of Teofilo Gabatan v. CA, 21 the
had been finally closed and terminated, and hence, cannot be re-opened. 24 ITDSAE

Court, citing several other precedents, held that the determination of who are
the decedent's lawful heirs must be made in the proper special proceeding for In this case, none of the foregoing exceptions, or those of similar
such purpose, and not in an ordinary suit for recovery of ownership and/or nature, appear to exist. Hence, there lies the need to institute the proper
possession, as in this case: DaTEIc
special proceeding in order to determine the heirship of the parties involved,
ultimately resulting to the dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246.
Jurisprudence dictates that the determination of
who are the legal heirs of the deceased must be made in the Verily, while a court usually focuses on the complaint in determining
proper special proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary whether the same fails to state a cause of action, a court cannot disregard
suit for recovery of ownership and possession of property.
decisions material to the proper appreciation of the questions before
This must take precedence over the action for recovery of
possession and ownership. The Court has consistently ruled that it. 25 Thus, concordant with applicable jurisprudence, since a determination
the trial court cannot make a declaration of heirship in the civil of heirship cannot be made in an ordinary action for recovery of ownership
action for the reason that such a declaration can only be made and/or possession, the dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246 was altogether
in a special proceeding. Under Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 proper. In this light, it must be pointed out that the RTC erred in ruling on
Revised Rules of Court, a civil action is defined as one by which Gaudioso's heirship which should, as herein discussed, be threshed out and
a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, determined in the proper special proceeding. As such, the foregoing
or the prevention or redress of a wrong while a special pronouncement should therefore be devoid of any legal effect.
proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a
status, a right, or a particular fact. It is then decisively clear that WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The dismissal of Civil
the declaration of heirship can be made only in a special Case No. T-2246 is hereby AFFIRMED, without prejudice to any
proceeding inasmuch as the petitioners here are seeking the subsequent proceeding to determine the lawful heirs of the
establishment of a status or right. late Magdaleno Ypon and the rights concomitant therewith.
In the early case of Litam, et al. v. Rivera, this Court SO ORDERED.
ruled that the declaration of heirship must be made in a special
proceeding, and not in an independent civil action. This doctrine (Heirs of Ypon v. Ricaforte, G.R. No. 198680 (Resolution), [July 8, 2013],
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was reiterated in Solivio v. Court of Appeals . . .: 713 PHIL 570-578)


In the more recent case of Milagros Joaquino v.
Lourdes Reyes, the Court reiterated its ruling that matters
relating to the rights of filiation and heirship must be
ventilated in the proper probate court in a special
proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of
determining such rights. Citing the case of Agapay v. Palang,
this Court held that the status of an illegitimate child who
claimed to be an heir to a decedent's estate could not be
AVELINA realized that what she signed was an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and a
ABARIENTOS REBUSQUILLO [substituted by her Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of respondents.
heirs, except Emelinda R. Gualvez] and SALVADOR As respondents purportedly ignored her when she tried to talk to
A. OROSCO, petitioners, vs. SPS. DOMINGO and them, Avelina sought the intervention of the RTC to declare null and
EMELINDA REBUSQUILLO GUALVEZ and the void the two (2) documents in order to reinstate TD 0141 and so correct
CITY ASSESSOR OF LEGAZPI CITY, respondents. the injustice done to the other heirs of Eulalio.
In their answer, respondents admitted that the execution of the
VELASCO, JR., J : p Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and the Deed of Sale was intended to
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 facilitate the titling of the subject property. Paragraph 9 of their Answer
assailing the Decision 1 and Resolution 2 dated March 30, 2012 and reads:
September 25, 2012, respectively, of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- Sometime in the year 2001, [petitioner] Avelina
G.R. CV No. 93035, which reversed and set aside the Decision dated together with the other heirs of Eulalio Abarientos brought out
January 20, 2009 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 4 in the idea to [respondent] Emelinda Rebusquillo-Gualvez to
Legazpi City, in Civil Case No. 10407. have the property described in paragraph 8 of the complaint
registered under the Torrens System of Registration. To
The antecedent facts may be summarized as follows: facilitate the titling of the property, so that the same could
be attractive to prospective buyers, it was agreed that the
On October 26, 2004, petitioners Avelina
property's tax declaration could be transferred to
Abarientos Rebusquillo (Avelina) and Salvador Orosco (Salvador) filed a [respondents] Spouses [Emelinda] R. Gualvez and
Complaint for annulment and revocation of an Affidavit of Self- Domingo Gualvez who will spend all the cost of titling
Adjudication dated December 4, 2001 and a Deed of Absolute Sale dated subject to reimbursement by all other heirs in case the
February 6, 2002 before the court a quo. In it, petitioners alleged that property is sold; That it was agreed that all the heirs will be
Avelina was one of the children of Eulalio Abarientos (Eulalio) and given their corresponding shares on the property; That
Victoria Villareal (Victoria). Eulalio died intestate on July 3, 1964, pursuant to said purpose Avelina Abarientos-Rebusquillo with
survived by his wife Victoria, six legitimate children, and one the knowledge and consent of the other heirs signed and
illegitimate child, namely: (1) Avelina Abarientos-Rebusquillo, executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and a Deed of
petitioner in this case; (2) Fortunata Abarientos-Orosco, the mother of Absolute Sale in favor of [respondents] Gualvez. In fact,
[petitioner] Avelina Rebusquillo was given an advance sum of
petitioner Salvador; (3) Rosalino Abarientos; (4) Juan Abarientos; (5)
FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) by [respondent]
Feliciano Abarientos; (6) Abraham Abarientos; and (7) Carlos spouses and all the delinquent taxes paid by
Abarientos. His wife Victoria eventually died intestate on June 30, [respondents]. 3HDCAaS

1983. TCAHES

After trial, the RTC rendered its Decision dated January 20, 2009
On his death, Eulalio left behind an untitled parcel of land in annulling the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and the Deed of Absolute
Legazpi City consisting of two thousand eight hundred sixty-nine (2,869) Sale executed by Avelina on the grounds that (1) with regard to the
square meters, more or less, which was covered by Tax Declaration ARP Affidavit of Self-Adjudication, she was not the sole heir of her parents
No. (TD) 0141. and was not therefore solely entitled to their estate; and (2) in the case of
In 2001, Avelina was supposedly made to sign two (2) the Deed of Absolute Sale, Avelina did not really intend to sell her share
documents by her daughter Emelinda Rebusquillo-Gualvez (Emelinda) in the property as it was only executed to facilitate the titling of such
and her son-in-law Domingo Gualvez (Domingo), respondents in this property. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads:
case, on the pretext that the documents were needed to facilitate the WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is
titling of the lot. It was only in 2003, so petitioners claim, that Avelina hereby rendered, as follows:
1. The subject Affidavit of Self-Adjudication of the presumption of regularity and is entitled to full faith and credit upon its
Estate of the Deceased Spouses Eulalio face.
Abarientos and Victoria Villareal, dated
December 4, 2001 as well as the subject Deed Aggrieved by the CA's Decision, petitioner Avelina, as
of Absolute Sale, notarized on February 6, substituted by her heirs except respondent Emelinda, and petitioner
2002, covering the property described in par. 8 Salvador are now before this Court ascribing reversible error on the part
of the Amended Complaint are hereby ordered of the appellate court.
ANNULLED;
We find merit in the instant petition.
2. That defendant City Assessor's Officer of Legazpi
It has indeed been ruled that the declaration of heirship must be
City is hereby ordered to CANCEL the Tax
Declaration in the name of private
made in a special proceeding, not in an independent civil action.
[respondents] spouses Gualvez under ARP No. However, this Court had likewise held that recourse to administration
4143 and to REINSTATE the Tax Declaration proceedings to determine who heirs are is sanctioned only if there is a
under ARP No. 0141 in the name of Eulalio good and compelling reason for such recourse. 6Hence, the Court had
Abarientos; allowed exceptions to the rule requiring administration proceedings as
when the parties in the civil case already presented their evidence
3. By way of restitution, [petitioner] Avelina
regarding the issue of heirship, and the RTC had consequently rendered
Abarientos Rebusquillo is hereby ordered to
return or refund to [respondents] spouses judgment upon the issues it defined during the pre-trial. 7 In Portugal v.
Domingo Gualvez and Emelinda Gualvez, the Portugal-Beltran, 8this Court held: CSDTac

PhP50,000.00 given by the latter spouses to In the case at bar, respondent, believing rightly or
the former. 4TIDaCE wrongly that she was the sole heir to Portugal's estate,
executed on February 15, 1988 the questioned Affidavit of
Assailing the trial court's decision, respondents interposed an Adjudication under the second sentence of Rule 74, Section 1
appeal with the CA arguing that the Deed of Sale cannot be annulled of the Revised Rules of Court. Said rule is an exception to the
being a public document that has for its object the creation and general rule that when a person dies leaving a property, it
transmission of real rights over the immovable subject property. The fact should be judicially administered and the competent court
that Avelina's testimony was not offered in evidence, so respondents should appoint a qualified administrator, in the order
argued, the signature on the adverted deed remains as concrete proof of established in Sec. 6, Rule 78 in case the deceased left no will,
her agreement to its terms. Lastly, respondents contended that the or in case he did, he failed to name an executor therein.
Complaint filed by petitioners Avelina and Salvador before the RTC is Petitioners claim, however, to be the exclusive heirs
not the proper remedy provided by law for those compulsory heirs of Portugal A probate or intestate court, no doubt, has
unlawfully deprived of their inheritance. jurisdiction to declare who are the heirs of a deceased.
Pending the resolution of respondents' appeal, Avelina died It appearing, however, that in the present case the
intestate on September 1, 2009 leaving behind several living only property of the intestate estate of Portugal is the
heirs 5 including respondent Emelinda. Caloocan parcel of land to still subject it, under the
circumstances of the case, to a special proceeding which
In its Decision dated March 30, 2012, the appellate court granted could be long, hence, not expeditious, just to establish the
the appeal and reversed and set aside the Decision of the RTC. The CA status of petitioners as heirs is not only impractical; it is
held that the RTC erred in annulling the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication burdensome to the estate with the costs and expenses of an
simply on petitioners' allegation of the existence of the heirs of Eulalio, administration proceeding. And it is superfluous in light of
considering that issues on heirship must be made in administration or the fact that the parties to the civil case — subject of the
intestate proceedings, not in an ordinary civil action. Further, the present case, could and had already in fact presented
evidence before the trial court which assumed jurisdiction
appellate court observed that the Deed of Absolute Sale cannot be
over the case upon the issues it defined during pre-trial.
nullified as it is a notarized document that has in its favor the
In fine, under the circumstances of the present case, 7. [Petitioner] Avelina Rebusquillo was born on Nov.
there being no compelling reason to still subject Portugal's 10, 1923;
estate to administration proceedings since a determination of
petitioners' status as heirs could be achieved in the civil case 8. The existence of Affidavit of Self-Adjudication of
filed by petitioners, the trial court should proceed to evaluate Estate of the Deceased and Deed of Absolute
the evidence presented by the parties during the trial and Sale executed by [petitioner] Avelina
render a decision thereon upon the issues it defined during A. Rebusquillo on the subject
pre-trial . . . . (emphasis supplied) property. 9 (emphasis supplied) SaITHC

Similar to Portugal, in the present case, there appears to be only In light of the admission of respondents spouses Gualvez, it is
one parcel of land being claimed by the contending parties as the with more reason that a resort to special proceeding will be but an
inheritance from Eulalio. It would be more practical, as Portugal teaches, unnecessary superfluity. Accordingly, the court a quo had properly
to dispense with a separate special proceeding for the determination of rendered judgment on the validity of the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication
the status of petitioner Avelina as sole heir of Eulalio, especially in light executed by Avelina. As pointed out by the trial court,an Affidavit of
of the fact that respondents spouses Gualvez admitted in court that Self-Adjudication is only proper when the affiant is the sole heir of
they knew for a fact that petitioner Avelina was not the sole heir of the decedent. The second sentence of Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of
Eulalio and that petitioner Salvador was one of the other living heirs Court is patently clear that self-adjudication is only warranted when there
with rights over the subject land. As confirmed by the RTC in its is only one heir:
Decision, respondents have stipulated and have thereby admitted the Section 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement
veracity of the following facts during the pre-trial: ScAaHE between heirs. — . . . If there is only one heir, he may
IV — UNCONTROVERTED FACTS: (Based on the adjudicate to himself the entire estate by means of an affidavit
stipulation of facts in the Pre-Trial Order) filed in the office of the register of deeds. . . . (emphasis
supplied)
A. . . .
As admitted by respondents, Avelina was not the sole heir of
B. [Petitioners] and private [respondents] spouses Gualvez Eulalio. In fact, as admitted by respondents, petitioner Salvador is one of
admitted the following facts: the co-heirs by right of representation of his mother. Without a doubt,
1. Identity of the parties; Avelina had perjured herself when she declared in the affidavit that she is
"the only daughter and sole heir of spouses EULALIO ABARIENTOS
2. Capacity of the [petitioners] and private AND VICTORIA VILLAREAL." 10 The falsity of this claim renders her
[respondents] to sue and be sued; act of adjudicating to herself the inheritance left by her father invalid.
3. [Petitioner] Avelina Abarientos-Rebusquilllo is The RTC did not, therefore, err in granting Avelina's prayer to declare
not the only surviving heir of deceased the affidavit null and void and so correct the wrong she has committed.
spouses Eulalio and Victoria Abarientos;
In like manner, the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Avelina
4. Petitioner Salvador Orosco is a co- in favor of respondents was correctly nullified and voided by the RTC.
owner/possessor of a portion of the subject Avelina was not in the right position to sell and transfer the absolute
property; ownership of the subject property to respondents. As she was not the sole
5. Fortunata Abarientos-Orosco is the sister of heir of Eulalio and her Affidavit of Self-Adjudication is void, the subject
Avelina Abarientos; property is still subject to partition. Avelina, in fine, did not have the
absolute ownership of the subject property but only an aliquot portion.
6. [Respondent] Emelinda Rebusquillo-Gualves is a What she could have transferred to respondents was only the ownership
daughter of [petitioner] Avelina of such aliquot portion. It is apparent from the admissions of respondents
A. Rebusquillo; and the records of this case that Avelina had no intention to transfer the
ownership, of whatever extent, over the property to respondents. Hence, Contrary to the appellate court's opinion, the fact that the
the Deed of Absolute Sale is nothing more than a simulated contract. questioned Deed of Absolute Sale was reduced to writing and notarized
The Civil Code provides: aDcTHE
does not accord it the quality of incontrovertibility otherwise provided by
the parole evidence rule. The form of a contract does not make an
Art. 1345. Simulation of a contract may be absolute otherwise simulated and invalid act valid. The rule on parole evidence is
or relative. — The former takes place when the parties do not, as it were, ironclad. Sec. 9, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court provides
not intend to be bound at all; the latter, when the parties
the exceptions: DEcTCa
conceal their true agreement. (emphasis supplied)
Section 9. Evidence of written agreements. — . . .
Art. 1346. An absolutely simulated or fictitious
contract is void. — A relative simulation, when it does not However, a party may present evidence to modify,
prejudice a third person and is not intended for any purpose explain or add to the terms of written agreement if he puts in
contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public issue in his pleading:
policy binds the parties to their real agreement. (a) An intrinsic ambiguity, mistake or imperfection in
In Heirs of Policronio Ureta Sr. v. Heirs of Liberato the written agreement;
Ureta, 11 this Court explained the concept of the simulation of contracts: (b) The failure of the written agreement to express
In absolute simulation, there is a colorable contract the true intent and agreement of the parties thereto;
but it has no substance as the parties have no intention to be (c) The validity of the written agreement; or
bound by it. The main characteristic of an absolute
simulation is that the apparent contract is not really (d) The existence of other terms agreed to by the
desired or intended to produce legal effect or in any way parties or their successors in interest after the execution of the
alter the juridical situation of the parties. As a result, an written agreement.
absolutely simulated or fictitious contract is void, and the The term "agreement" includes wills. (emphasis
parties may recover from each other what they may have supplied)
given under the contract. However, if the parties state a false
cause in the contract to conceal their real agreement, the The failure of the Deed of Absolute Sale to express the true
contract is relatively simulated and the parties are still bound intent and agreement of the contracting parties was clearly put in issue in
by their real agreement. Hence, where the essential requisites the present case. Again, respondents themselves admit in their Answer
of a contract are present and the simulation refers only to the that the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and the Deed of Absolute Sale
content or terms of the contract, the agreement is absolutely were only executed to facilitate the titling of the property. The RTC is,
binding and enforceable between the parties and their therefore, justified to apply the exceptions provided in the second
successors in interest. (emphasis supplied)acHTIC
paragraph of Sec. 9, Rule 130 to ascertain the true intent of the parties,
In the present case, the true intention of the parties in the which shall prevail over the letter of the document. That said,
execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale is immediately apparent from considering that the Deed of Absolute Sale has been shown to be void for
respondents' very own Answer to petitioners' Complaint. As respondents being absolutely simulated, petitioners are not precluded from presenting
themselves acknowledge, the purpose of the Deed of Absolute Sale was evidence to modify, explain or add to the terms of the written
simply to "facilitate the titling of the [subject] property," not to transfer agreement. 13
the ownership of the lot to them. Furthermore, respondents concede that WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The
petitioner Salvador remains in possession of the property and that there is Decision dated March 30, 2012 and the Resolution dated September 25,
no indication that respondents ever took possession of the subject 2012 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 93035 are
property after its supposed purchase. Such failure to take exclusive hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated January 20,
possession of the subject property or, in the alternative, to collect rentals 2009 in Civil Case No. 10407 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
from its possessor, is contrary to the principle of ownership and is a clear 4 in Legazpi City is REINSTATED.
badge of simulation that renders the whole transaction void. 12
SO ORDERED. CSDTac
(Rebusquillo v. Spouses Gualvez, G.R. No. 204029, [June 4, 2014], 735
||| Countering petitioners' allegations, Crispiniano and Ricardo denied
PHIL 434-447) petitioners' ownership over Lot No. 39 and contended that upon Severo's
death, he was survived by two heirs, Valentin (grandfather of petitioners) and
Nicolas Basbas (Nicolas) (paternal grandfather of Crispiniano and Ricardo)
HEIRS OF VALENTIN BASBAS, vs. who evenly divided Severo's estate, comprising of two lots, herein subject
RICARDO BASBAS as represented by property, Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate, and Lot No. 40,
EUGENIOBASBAS, respondents. adjacent thereto, among them. Lot No. 40 was inherited by Valentin, while
Lot No. 39 went to Nicolas.
PEREZ, J : p The pertinent documents presented in evidence by both parties
include:
A claim of status as heir of a decedent must always be substantially
supported by evidence as required under our law. The resolution of a case, in (1) Certificate of Title No. RT-1684 (N.A.) in the name of
this instance, an action for annulment of title and reconveyance of real Severo;
property, cannot be further stalled and waylaid by a mere assertion of a party (2) Order of the Land Registration Court, Regional Trial
of an ostensible conflicting claims of heirship of the common decedent. Not Court, Biñan, Laguna dated 1 June 1989, granting
all rights to property and incidents thereof, such as titling, ought to be the Petition for Reconstitution of Title covering
preceded by a declaration of heirship, albeit supposedly traced to a single Lot No. 39 filed by Crispiniano and Ricardo;
decedent and original titleholder.
(3) TCT No. T-294295 covering Lot No. 39 issued in the
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of names of Crispiniano and Ricardo; and
the Rules of Court assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 99853 1 which reversed and set aside the rulings, after trial and then (4) Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate of decedent Severo.
on appeal, of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) and Regional Trial Court
The undisputed facts uniformly found by all three lower courts, at
(RTC), Sta. Rosa, Laguna in Civil Case No. 1913 2 and Civil Case No. B-
the first instance, the MTC, the RTC, Branch 24, Biñan, Laguna, in the
6334, 3 respectively. The trial courts annulled TCT No. 294295 issued in the
exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, and the Court of Appeals are: cEISAD

name of Crispiniano Talampas Basbas (Crispiniano) and herein respondent


Ricardo Talampas Basbas (Ricardo), covering Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa . . . Severo Basbas was married to Ana Rivera. Severo .
Detached Estate, the subject property, and originally titled to the decedent, . . died on July 14, 1911. They had a child
SeveroBasbas (Severo) under Certificate of Title No. RT-1684 (N.A.). named Valentin (Basbas). During Severo's lifetime, he acquired
Crispiniano and Ricardo and all their successors-in-interest were ordered to a parcel of land in Santa Rosa, Laguna otherwise known as Lot
reconvey the subject property to petitioners. No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate. Lot No. 39 is adjacent
to Lot No. 40 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate which lot was
Both parties, petitioners, Heirs of Valentin Basbas (Valentin), and acquired, by purchase, by Valentin Basbas. Sometime in 1995,
respondent Ricardo trace their claim of ownership over herein subject [herein petitioners Heirs of Valentin Basbas] discovered that
property to Severo. [respondents] Crispiniano and Ricardo Basbas were able to
secure for themselves Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-294295
Petitioners filed an Action for Annulment of Title, Reconveyance over Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate. Sometime in
with Damages against Crispiniano and respondent Ricardo seeking to: (1) 1987, [respondents], through Crispiniano Basbas, filed a Petition
annul Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-294295 issued in the names of for Reconstitution of Title before the Regional Trial Court,
Crispiniano and Ricardo covering the contested lot, and (2) recover Biñan, Laguna, docketed as LRC Case No. B-758, covering Lot
No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate. Subsequently
possession of the subject property before the Municipal Trial Court, Santa
thereafter, or on June 1, 1989, an Order was issued by the RTC
Rosa, Laguna, docketed as Civil Case No. 1913. granting the aforesaid petition. On the basis of said Order, the
title covering Lot No. 39 was ordered reconstituted in the name
of the heirs of Severo Basbas and Transfer Certificate of Title 4) ordering the defendants [including herein respondent Ricardo]
No. RT-1684 (N.A.) was issued. On November 13, 1993, and their successors-in-interest to pay [petitioners] the
[therein] defendants Crispiniano Basbas y Talampas and sum of Php50,000.00 as and for attorney's fees. 6
[respondent] Ricardo Basbas y Talampas executed an Extra-
Judicial Settlement of Estate of deceased Severo Basbas . . . On appeal to the RTC by Crispiniano and Ricardo docketed as Civil
stating among others that the only heirs of Severo Basbas are Case No. B-6334, judgment of the MTC was affirmed in toto.
Felomino Basbas and Melencio Casubha. On the basis of said
Extra-Judicial Settlement . . ., the Registry of Deeds of Calamba, Insistent on their stance, Crispiniano and Ricardo appealed to the
Laguna cancelled Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-1684 and Court of Appeals.
in lieu thereof Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-294295 was
In a subsequent turn of events, the appellate court reversed, applying
issued in the names of [therein] defendants
Crispiniano Basbas and [respondent] Ricardo Basbas . . . .
our ruling in Heirs of Yaptinchay v. Hon. del Rosario, 7 and set aside the
[Petitioners] then brought the matter to the Barangay but no uniform rulings of the trial courts:
settlement was reached. Hence, this instant action. 4 The court a quo erred in affirming the decision of the
Significantly, the Pre-Trial Order of the MTC, dated 2 September MTC, as the MTC had ruled on filiation and heirship, matters
which fall within the jurisdiction of a probate court, which the
1998, contained the following Stipulation of Facts:
MTC or RTC of Sta. Rosa, Laguna were not designated to be. It
STIPULATION OF FACTS is also proper that these particular matters be threshed out in a
special proceeding.
1. [Severo] Basbas is married to Ana Rivera.
In Heirs of Guido and Isabel Yaptinchay v. Del
2. Both Crispiniano Basbas and Ricardo Basbas bear the middle Rosario, it was ruled that it is decisively clear that the
name Talampas. declaration of heirship can be made only in a special proceeding
inasmuch as it involves the establishment of a status or right.
3. [Petitioners] are direct descendants of Valentin Basbas, who is
a son of [Severo] Basbas. The case at bar is an action for annulment of title,
reconveyance with damages, a civil action, whereas matters
4. The property at dispute was originally registered in [Severo's]
which involve the settlement and distribution of the estate of a
name. 5
deceased person as well as filiation and heirship partake of the
After trial, where both parties presented evidence, the MTC ruled, nature of a special proceeding, which requires the application of
thus: specific rules as provided for in the Rules of Court. With both
parties claiming to be the heirs of Severo Basbas, it is but proper
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of to thresh out this issue in a special proceeding, since
[petitioners] and against defendants [including herein respondent [Crispiniano and respondent Ricardo] seeks to establish his
Ricardo] as follows: status as one of the heirs entitled to the property in dispute.
Before the action for annulment of title, reconveyance with
1) declaring TCT No. T-294295 in the name of the defendants damages can be resolved, this Court opines that the matter of
[including herein respondent Ricardo] as NULL and heirship should be adjudicated upon first. The trial court cannot
VOID; make a declaration of heirship in the civil action for the reason
2) ordering the defendants [including herein respondent Ricardo] that such a declaration can only be made in a special proceeding.
to reconvey to [petitioners] Lot No. 39 of the Santa xxx xxx xxx
Rosa Detached Estate, and to surrender possession
thereon in favor of the [petitioners]; The MTC and the RTC, both acting in their general
jurisdiction, are devoid of authority to render an adjudication
3) ordering the Register of Deeds of Calamba, Laguna to issue a and resolve the issue of annulment of title and reconveyance of
new certificate of title covering said Lot No. 39 in favor the real property in favor of the respondents. We reiterate that
of the heirs of Severo Basbas; and the question of who are the heirs of Severo Basbas should be
adjudged first in a probate court prior to the resolution of the [Petitioners] have fully established their true filiation
action for annulment of title and reconveyance.ScHAIT with the late Severo Basbas from whom the subject property
came from. Through their own evidence, testimonial and
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, documentary, it was established that Severo Basbas was married
the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET to Ana Rivera. They had one (1) child named Valentin Basbas . .
ASIDE. 8 . . Valentin Basbas had no other brother nor sister. He (Valentin)
Hence, this appeal by certiorari of petitioners — Heirs of Valentin, was married to Irene Beato. Valentin bore four (4) children,
namely: (1) Pedro Basbas; (2) Lucas Basbas; (3) Feliz Basbas,
raising the following issues:
Sr.; and (4) Remigia Basbas. . . . .
I
xxx xxx xxx
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS
As shown, [petitioners] are now the great grandchildren
SERIOUSLY ERRED IN REVERSING AND SETTING
of the late Severo Basbas who died in Santa Rosa, Laguna on
ASIDE THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
July 5, 1911.
BRANCH 24 OF BIÑAN, LAGUNA AFFIRMING THAT OF
THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT OF SANTA ROSA, The defendants [including herein respondent Ricardo]
LAGUNA'S DECISION FINDING FOR THE PETITIONERS: on the other hand claim that they are also the legal heirs of the
late Severo Basbas. Such a claim, however, was not supported
II
by any document. . . . .
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS
xxx xxx xxx
SERIOUSLY ERRED IN APPLYING THE RULING IN
HEIRS OF GUIDO AND ISABEL YAPTINCHAY VERSUS As correctly pointed out by [petitioners] that assuming,
HON. ROY S. DEL ROSARIO, THAT PRIOR TO THE for the sake of argument, that Nicolas Basbas, predecessor of
RESOLUTION OF THE ACTION FOR ANNULMENT OF these defendants [including herein respondent Ricardo], was the
TITLE AND RECONVEYANCE, THE DETERMINATION son of Severo Basbas, then Nicolas Basbas must have been an
OF WHO THE HEIRS ARE SHOULD FIRST BE ADJUDGED illegitimate child of Severo Basbas, in which case his filiation
IN A PROBATE COURT. should be first established before he can claim to be an heir. But
this cannot be done anymore, simply because an action for
III
recognition should have been made or brought during the
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS lifetime of the presumed parents . . . . It could not even be
SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FAILING TO RENDER JUDGMENT applied under the exception of said law . . ., as no evidence was
BASED ON THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED RELATIVE TO ever adduced to that effect. The only conclusion, therefore, is
THE ISSUES RAISED AND RULED UPON BY THE that Nicolas Basbas was neither a legitimate nor an illegitimate
MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT OF SANTA ROSA, LAGUNA son of Severo Basbas, so that defendants [including herein
AND THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF BIÑAN, respondent Ricardo] are not the legal heirs of the late
LAGUNA. 9 Severo Basbas.

In ruling in favor of petitioners, Heirs of Valentin, the trial courts . . . [T]he defendants [including herein respondent
found that petitioners fully established their filiation with the decedent Ricardo] are not the legal heirs of the late Severo Basbas. They
(defendants) [including herein respondent Ricardo] claimed that
Severo, the original titleholder of Lot No. 39 and from whom all parties trace
they derived their title and ownership over Lot No. 39 in
their claim of ownership over the subject property. Oppositely, the trial representation of Felomino Basbas, an alleged son of the late
courts found wanting, lacking documentary evidence, the different claims of Severo Basbas; that SeveroBasbas gave Lot No. 39 to
heirship of Crispiniano and herein respondent Ricardo, through Severo's Nicolas Basbas; and that Lot No. 40 was also given by
purported other son or nephew, Nicolas. The MTC, affirmed in toto by the Severo Basbas to Valentin Basbas. Such a claim has no basis at
RTC, declared, thus: all. The [petitioners] evidence, specifically the Friar Lands
Certificate . . . and the Certification from the DENR . . . show
that Valentin Basbas acquired Lot No. 40 of the Santa Rosa On the other hand, Crispiniano and respondent Ricardo miserably
Detached Estate by purchase from the government way back on fail to establish the status of their ascendant and purported predecessor-in-
April 1, 1913, contrary to the allegations of the defendants interest, Nicolas. In fact, the testimony of respondent Ricardo tells about the
[including herein respondent Ricardo] that the same was given status of Valentin, not about Nicolas' status, as a compulsory heir of Severo:
by Severo Basbas to Valentin Basbas as the latter's share in the
inheritance. 10 Q Now, do you know also [petitioners] in this case the heirs
of Valentin Basbas, Mr. Witness?
In marked contrast, the Court of Appeals zeroed in on the claim of
Crispiniano and Ricardo that they are descendants, likewise great A Yes, sir.
grandchildren, of Severo and inherited Lot No. 39 from their father Q Why do you know them Mr. Witness?
Felomino Basbas, Severo's grandson from the latter's son, Nicolas, who
received the subject property as his share in Severo's estate. On the whole, A They are my relatives, sir.
the appellate court ruled that the MTC and the RTC, acting in their general Q Will you tell us specifically what is your relationship with
jurisdiction, did not have authority to rule on issues of filiation and heirship [petitioners] in this case, Mr. Witness?
of the parties to the decedent Severo, such matters to be sorted and
established in a special proceeding and falling within the jurisdiction of a A They are my cousins, I used to call them "Kuya."
probate court.CDAHaE
Q How come you became the relatives of [petitioners,] (sic) Mr.
The pivotal issue in this case turns on the applicability of our ruling Witness?
in Heirs of Yaptinchay v. Hon. del Rosario. A My father and the father of [petitioners] are relatives.
We cannot subscribe to the appellate court's ruling unqualifiedly Q Specifically, what is the name of the father of [petitioners],
applying Heirs of Yaptinchay. Mistakenly, the Court of Appeals glosses over Mr. Witness?
facts, not controverted by Crispiniano and respondent Ricardo:
A Valentin Basbas.
(1) Valentin was a legitimate child of Severo and Ana Q What is the name of your father?
Rivera; and
A Felomino Basbas.
(2) Petitioners are themselves legitimate descendants
of Valentin. Q How is Felomino and Valentin related?

Not only is the petitioners' heirship to Severo uncontroverted. The A They are cousins.
status of Valentin as a compulsory heir of Severo and of petitioners' statuses Court
as heirs ofValentin and Severo are stipulated facts agreed to by Crispiniano
and respondent Ricardo: How come they became [your] cousins?

1. [Severo] Basbas is married to Ana Rivera. A Their family names are both Basbas.

2. Both Crispiniano Basbas and Ricardo Basbas bear the middle Q And that is your only basis in saying that they are relatives?
name Talampas. A No.
3. [Petitioners] are direct descendants of Valentin Basbas, who is Q So, what other basis?
a son of [Severo] Basbas.
A Severo Basbas is the eldest and he bore a child name[d]
4. The property at dispute was originally registered in [Severo's] Nicolas Basbas and Nicolas Basbas bore a child
name. 11 name[d] Felomino Basbas who [had] two sons named
Crispiniano and Ricardo Basbas.
xxx xxx xxx Court
Q Who was the father of Valentin Basbas then? xxx xxx xxx
A Severo Basbas. What is the middlename (sic) of Severo Basbas?
Q You said a while ago that Nicolas Basbas is the son of A I don't know.
Severo Basbas and now you are saying
that Valentin Basbas is the son of Severo Basbas, you Court
mean to say that Valentin Basbas and Who is the son of Severo Basbas?
Nicolas Basbas are brothers?
A Nicolas Basbas.
A Yes, Nicolas is the eldest [older] th[a]n Valentin Basbas.
Q What is the maiden name (sic) of Nicolas Basbas?
Q So, it is clear now that Nicolas and Valentin Basbas are
brothers? A I don't know. 13
A That is what I know. That is what my brother told me. 12 In all, Valentin's long-possessed status as a legitimate child and thus,
heir of Severo, need no longer be the subject of a special proceeding for
Mauro Basbas (Mauro), one of the defendants before the trial court,
declaration of heirship as envisioned by the Court of Appeals. There is no
while testifying, also failed to shed light on the status of Nicolas as an heir of
need to re-declare his status as an heir of Severo.
Severo, insisting only that Nicolas is Severo's son as told to him by his
grandfather, Felomino Basbas. Mauro even categorically answered that the And, contraposed to the fact that Valentin's status as a legitimate
wife of Severo is Ana Rivera, further establishing the legitimacy child of Severo is already established, Nicolas' status as a purported heir of
of Valentin as the son of Severo and Ana Rivera: Severo can no longer be established, Nicolas' right thereto expiring upon his
death.
Q Who is the father of Felomino Basbas?
A Nicolas Basbas. Glaringly, there is no pretension from respondent's end that Nicolas
was born of a valid marriage, only that he is Severo's son. Nonetheless, even
Q You mean to tell us that Nicolas is the son of Severo Basbas? if respondents were minded to establish the status of Nicolas, whether he is a
A Yes. CEaDAc
legitimate or an illegitimate child of Severo, such can no longer be done.

Q Do you happen to know the mother of Felomino Basbas? Article 165, in relation to Articles 173 and 175, of the Family
Code and Article 285 of the Civil Code state:
A Yes.
Art. 165. Children conceived and born outside a valid
Q Would you tell us? marriage are illegitimate, unless otherwise provided in this
Code.
A Catalina Mane.
Chapter 3. Illegitimate Children
Q Since you seem to be so well informed about the family of
Severo Basbas, can you tell us who was the wife of Art. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be
Severo Basbas? brought by the child during his or her lifetime and shall be
transmitted to the heirs should the child die during minority or in
A Ana Rivera.
a state of insanity. In these cases, the heirs shall have a period of
Q How can you say now unless you are implying that five years within which to institute the action.
Severo Basbas had an illegitimate son, how can you
Art. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their
explain now why the surname. . . the middle name of
illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same evidence
your grandfather is [not] Rivera?
as legitimate children. The action must be brought within the
same period specified in Article 173, except when the action is portion which belongs to [herein respondents] and to annul the
based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the sale with regard to said portion." There is clearly no intimation
action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent. in our decision for the RTC to have to determine an already
settled issue i.e., herein respondents' status as heirs of Marcelo
CHAPTER 4 Sr.
ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN Moreover, petitioner Valente cannot assail, directly or
SECTION 1. — Recognition of Natural Children indirectly, the status of herein respondents as legitimate children
of Marcelo Sr. and Teofista, and likewise demand that herein
Art. 285. The action for the recognition of natural respondents first prove their libation to Marcelo Sr. The
children may be brought only during the lifetime of the following records bear out Marcelo, Sr.'s and Teofista's paternity
presumed parents, except in the following cases: of herein respondents, and the latter's status as legitimate
children:
(1) If the father or mother died during the minority of
the child, in which case the latter may file the action before the 1. The CA decision in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 10646 to
expiration of four years from the attainment of his majority; 10649 where Teofista, along with herein respondents, questioned
the RTC, Branch 151's Orders dated October 10, 1984 and
(2) If after the death of the father or of the mother a October 14, 1986. Although the CA ruled against Teofista and
document should appear of which nothing had been heard and in herein respondents, it explicitly recognized the latter's status as
which either or both parents recognize the child. legitimate children of Teofista and Marcelo Sr.; and
In this case, the action must be commenced within four 2. The CA decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 20320 which
years from the finding of the document. incorrectly ruled that herein respondents were, as children of
Our ruling in Raymundo v. Vda. de Suarez 14 is instructive: Teofista, merely successors-in-interest of the latter to the
property and by virtue thereof, bound by the judgment in Civil
Petitioner Valente insists that, following our ruling Case Nos. 21376 to 21379 consistent with the doctrine of res
in Heirs of Yaptinchay v. Del Rosario, herein respondents must judicata. We subsequently reversed this ruling on the wrong
first be declared heirs of Marcelo Sr. before they can file an application of res judicata in the conclusive case of Suarez. We
action to annul the judicial sale of what is, undisputedly, retained and affirmed, however, the CA's factual finding of
conjugal property of Teofista and Marcelo Sr. herein respondents' status as heirs of Marcelo Sr. We
categorically held therein that "the proprietary interest of [herein
We disagree. Our ruling in Heirs of Yaptinchay is not respondents] in the levied and auctioned [properties] is different
applicable. from and adverse to that of [Teofista]. [Herein respondents]
Herein respondents' status as legitimate children of became co-owners of the property not because of [Teofista] but
Marcelo Sr. and Teofista — and thus, Marcelo Sr.'s heirs — has through their own right as children of their deceased father [,
been firmly established, and confirmed by this Court in Suarez v. Marcelo Sr.]." Clearly, herein respondents' long possessed status
Court of Appeals. True, this Court is not a trier of facts, but as of legitimate children of Marcelo Sr. and Teofista cannot be
the final arbiter of disputes, we found and so ruled that herein indirectly or directly attacked by petitioner Valente in an action
respondents are children, and heirs of their deceased father, to annul a judicial sale.
Marcelo Sr. This having been settled, it should no longer have Articles 262, 263, 265 and 266 of the Civil Code, the
been a litigated issue when we ordered a remand to the lower applicable law at the time of Marcelo's death, support the
court. In short, petitioner Valente's, Violeta's, Virginia's, and foregoing conclusion, to wit:
Maria Concepcion's representation in the RTC that our ruling
in Suarez required herein respondents to present evidence of Art. 262. The heirs of the husband may
their affiliation with the deceased, Marcelo Sr., is wrong.
AEIDTc impugn the legitimacy of the child only in the following
cases:
As was set forth in the dispositive portion of Suarez,
"Civil Case No. 51203 is reinstated only to determine that
(1) If the husband should die before the 1. Order of the RTC, Branch 25, Biñan, Laguna in LRC B-758, a
expiration of the period fixed for bringing his action; Petition for Reconstitution of Title filed by Crispiniano and respondent
(2) If the husband should die after the filing of the Ricardo:
complaint, without having desisted from the same; Petitioner alleges that a certain parcel of residential
(3) If the child was born after the death of the husband. land, situated in the Municipality of Santa Rosa, Province of
Laguna is registered in the name of the legal heirs of
Art. 263. The action to impugn the legitimacy of the Severo Basbas as evidenced by a Transfer Certificate of Title
child shall be brought within one year from the recording of No. (N.A.) of the Register of Deeds of Laguna (Exhibit "E");
birth in the Civil Register, if the husband should be in the same that the aforementioned duplicate copy of Transfer Certificate of
place, or in a proper case, any of his heirs. Title No. (N.A.) was lost during the latter part of the Japanese
Occupation when the petitioner and his family evacuated from
If he or his heirs are absent, the period shall be eighteen their residence to evade the atrocities being committed by the
months if they should reside in the Philippines; and two years if Japanese soldiers; that after peace and order was restored,
abroad. If the birth of the child has been concealed, the term diligent efforts were exerted in trying to find the said certificate
shall be counted from the discovery of the fraud. of title, but the same proved futile; and that pursuant to the
Art. 265. The filiation of legitimate children is proved provisions of R.A. No. 26, petitioner desires that the original
by the record of birth appearing in the Civil Register, or by an copy of said title be reconstituted and thereafter have the full
authentic document or a final judgment. technical description of Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached
Estate be inscribed therein.CDHcaS

Art. 266. In the absence of the titles indicated in the


preceding article, the filiation shall be proved by the continuous Pursuant to Section 12 of Republic Act No. 26 copies
possession of status of a legitimate child. of the petition, notice of hearing, plan and technical description
of Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate were forwarded
In Heirs of Yaptinchay, the complaint for annulment to the Office of the Land Registration Commission for
and/or declaration of nullity of certain TCT's was dismissed for appropriate action. On January 18, 1989, this Court received the
failure of the petitioners to demonstrate "any proof or even a Report (Exhibit "C") of the Acting Administrator of the Land
semblance of it" that they had been declared the legal heirs of Registration Commission (now NLTDRA).
the deceased couple, the spouses Yaptinchay. In stark contrast,
the records of this case reveal a document, an Extrajudicial xxx xxx xxx
Settlement of Marcelo Sr.'s estate, which explicitly recognizes At the hearing, no one appeared to oppose the petition.
herein respondent as Marcelo Sr.'s legitimate children and heirs.
The same document settles and partitions the estate of Marcelo During the hearing of the petition, Atty. Agapito G.
Sr. specifying Teofista's paraphernal properties, and separates Carait, counsel for the petitioner, presented Crispiniano Basbas.
the properties she owns in common with her children, herein Together with his testimony, the following documentary
respondents. Plainly, there is no need to re-declare herein evidence were presented, to wit:
respondents as heirs of Marcelo Sr., and prolong this case
interminably. 15 Exhibits "A" - the publication in the Official
Gazette;
Thus, we find no need for a separate proceeding for a declaration of
"B" - Certificate of Posting;
the heirs of Severo in order to resolve petitioners' Action for Annulment of
Title and Reconveyance of the subject property. "C" - Report;
Prescinding from the foregoing, a closer scrutiny of the documents "D" - Certification form from the Register
presented in evidence by Crispiniano and Ricardo before the trial court, of Deeds; and
betray the fraudulence of their claim. "E" - Friar Lands Sale Certificate.
CRISPINIANO BASBAS, 70 years old, widower and a to such encumbrances as may be subsisting, and
resident of Santa Rosa, Laguna, stated that he is the petitioner in provided, further that no certificate of title covering the
this case; that the parcel of land involved in this case is situated same parcel of land exists in the Office of the Register
at Aplaya, Santa Rosa, Laguna and is identified as Lot No. 39 of of Deeds concerned.
the Santa Rosa Detached Estate with an area of 330 sq. m.; that
he was born in that property; that this parcel of land was covered xxx xxx xxx
by a title in the name of the heirs of Severo Basbas; that the title WHEREFORE, finding the petition to be in order and
was lost during the Japanese Occupation when his father meritorious and there being no objection on the part of the Land
Felomino Basbas who was then in possession of the duplicate Registration Commission (now NLTDRA) as to the technical
title, evacuated to the Province of Rizal particularly in Tanay; description of Lot No. 39, the same is hereby GRANTED. The
that later on his father moved to Sta. Maria, Laguna; that he was Court hereby orders the Register of Deeds of Laguna, Calamba
with his father when they evacuated to a place called Laranga; Branch to reconstitute the original copy of TCT No. (N.A.) in
that while there, he saw the title in the possession of his father in the name of the heirs of Severo Basbas who appear in the
the "maleta" where he kept it; that when they returned to Santa aforesaid Transfer Certificate of Title at the time the original
Rosa, Laguna, he asked his father regarding the Transfer was lost and/or destroyed as the registered owners, using as basis
Certificate of Title and his father told him that the title was lost the technical description of Lot 39, certified by the Bureau of
in the mountains of Rizal; the petitioner verified from the Office Lands, and thereafter to annotate on the corresponding title the
of the Register of Deeds if said title is still intact with their full technical description of Lot No. 39 of the Sta. Rosa
office; that the Register of Deeds issued a certification (Exhibit Detached Estate.
"D") to the effect that Lot 39 of Santa Rosa Detached Estate has
no record on file with the office; that petitioner went to the For this purpose, the Clerk of Court is directed to
Bureau of Lands to verify the title and found out that the said forward to the Registry of Deeds of Laguna, Calamba Branch, a
patent was issued in the name of the legal heirs of certified copy of the Report of the Acting Administrator, Land
Severo Basbas (Exhibit "E"); that the children of the petitioner Registration Authority dated January 18, 1989, the copy of the
are now in possession of Lot 39; that the petitioner's father had technical description, which documents shall be used by the
paid the realty taxes and after his death, he (petitioner) continued Register of Deeds as bases for reconstitution and inscription. 16
paying the taxes; that his father exerted all efforts to recover or
find the said title but the same proved futile; and that to his own 2. Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate of Severo executed by
knowledge, Transfer Certificate of Title No. (N.A.) covering Lot Crispiniano and respondent Ricardo:
No. 39 has never been encumbered, sold or given as security for
EXTRA-JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF ESTATE OF
the performance of any obligation.
DECEASED SEVERO BASBAS
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
Thus, the Administrator of the Land Registration That FELOMINO BASBAS is our father and likewise
Authority, in his REPORT dated January 18, 1989 recommends: died intestate last October 30, 1976 leaving no will or debts and
WHEREFORE, the foregoing information the share of MELENCIO CASUBHA was sold and bought by us
relative to Lot No. 39, Santa Rosa Detached Estate, is last 5 December 1977, xerox copy of such Deed is hereto
respectfully submitted for consideration in the attached as Annex "A" and made an integral part of this Extra-
resolution of the instant petition, and if the Honorable Judicial Settlement of Estate of Deceased
Court, after notice and hearing, finds justification SEVERO BASBAS; HTaSEA

pursuant to Section 15 Republic Act No. 26 to grant the That there is no pending testate or intestate proceedings
same, the owner's duplicate of Transfer Certificate of against said estate;
Title No. (N.A.) may be used as a source of the desired
reconstitution pursuant to Section 3 (a) of Republic Act That in view thereof the aforenamed CRISPINIANO
No. 26, Provided, however, that in case the petition is and RICARDO both surnamed BASBAS do hereby adjudicate
granted, the reconstituted title should be made subject
unto themselves the aforedescribed parcel of land subject to the Based on the evidence on hand, defendants [including
provisions of Sec. 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court as follows: herein respondent Ricardo] acquired the property in question
through fraud and, therefore, an implied trust was created in
CRISPINIANO BASBAS — undivided share and favor of [petitioners] under Article 1456 of the New Civil Code,
RICARDO BASBAS — undivided share; 17 which provides, thus:
Ultimately, we agree with the disquisition of the trial courts in If property is acquired through mistake or
annulling TCT No. 294295 and ordering the reconveyance of Lot No. 39 to fraud, the person obtaining it is, by force of law,
petitioners: considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit
of the person from whom the property comes.
. . . [We proceed to] the next issue as to "whether or not
the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate of Deceased What right or rights, therefore, do they have, under
Severo Basbas executed by Crispiniano and RicardoBasbas is these circumstances? Since a constructive trust was created,
valid." The Court believes otherwise. Simply because the [petitioners] have the right to recover the property subject of this
defendants [including herein respondent Ricardo] are not the action. The fact that the decision of the RTC, Biñan, Laguna
legal heirs of the late Severo Basbas. They (defendants) approving/granting the petition for the reconstitution of the title
[including herein respondent Ricardo] claimed that they derived covering Lot No. 39 and said decision has obtained its finality, is
their title and ownership over Lot No. 39 in representation of of no moment. It has been held: "the rule that registration of real
Felomino Basbas, an alleged [grand] son of the late property under the Torrens System has the effect of constructive
Severo Basbas; that Severo Basbas gave Lot No. 39 to notice to the whole world cannot be availed of when the purpose
Nicolas Basbas; and that Lot No. 40 was also given by of the action is to compel a trustee to convey the property
Severo Basbas to ValentinBasbas. Such a claim has no basis at registered in his name for the benefit of the cestui que trust. In
all. The [petitioners'] evidence, specifically the Friar Lands other words, the defense of prescription cannot be set up in an
Certificate . . . and the Certification from the DENR . . . show action to enforce a trust . . . .
that ValentinBasbas acquired Lot No. 40 of the Santa Rosa
Detached Estate by purchase from the government way back on The fact that the subject lot was already registered in
April 1, 1913, contrary to the allegations of the defendants the defendants' [including herein respondent Ricardo] name and
[including herein respondent Ricardo] that the same was given indeed a Tax Declaration was issued in their favor for taxation
by Severo Basbas to Valentin Basbas as the latter's share in the purposes, and they have paid the taxes due thereon, are not
inheritance. conclusive evidence of ownership. Hence, it has been held:

Claiming to be the only heirs of Felomino Basbas (their When a person obtains a certificate of title to a
father), and that Felomino Basbas and Melencio Casubha are the land belonging to another and he has full knowledge of
only heirs of the late Severo Basbas, Crispiniano Basbas and the rights of a true owner, he is considered guilty of
Ricardo Basbas executed an Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate fraud, and he may be compelled to transfer the land to
of Deceased Severo Basbas on November 12, 1993, whereby the defrauded owner so long as the property has not
they adjudicated to themselves Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa passed to the hands of an innocent purchaser for value .
Detached Estate . . . . On the basis of the said Extra-Judicial . . . Also it has been held "that an original owner of
Settlement, Crispiniano Basbas filed a Petition For The registered land may seek annulment of the transfer
Reconstitution of Title No. (N.A.) covering Lot No. 39 of the thereof on the ground of fraud and the proper remedy is
Santa Rosa Detached Estate . . . before the Regional Trial Court reconveyance . . . . 18
of Biñan, Laguna, and after hearing, an Order was issued
We add that Valentin's rights to the succession vested from the
granting the aforesaid petition. Subsequently thereafter, TCT
No. RT-1684 (N.A.) in the names of the Heirs of
moment of death of the decedent Severo. 19 In turn, petitioners', as Heirs
Severo Basbas was cancelled and a new title (TCT No. 294295) of Valentin, who is an uncontested heir of decedent Severo, rights to the
was issued in the names of Crispiniano Basbas and succession vested from the moment of Valentin's death. As such, they own
Ricardo Basbas, defendants [therein.] Lot No. 39, undisputedly titled in Severo's name and forming part of Severo's
estate, and are entitled to the titling thereof in their names.
In this regard, we note that the Court of Appeals did not reverse the
trials courts' factual finding on Cripiniano's and Ricardo's fraudulent titling of
Lot No. 39 in their names. The evidence presented by Crispiniano and
Ricardo highlight the fraudulence of their claim:
1. Title to Lot No. 39 is not in their names, neither is it titled in the
name of their predecessors-in-interest, Nicolas and Felomino Basbas;
2. Crispiniano and Ricardo are not the only heirs of Severo, if they
are even heirs to begin with. ScEaAD

One final note. Severo, as well as Valentin, have been long dead. It is
well-nigh that title to the subject property, Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa
Detached Estate, appear in the names of the petitioners, Heirs of Valentin,
herein declared heirs of Severo, or their successors-in-interest, to finally
settle title thereto and prevent occurrences of fraudulent titling thereof.
Hence, petitioners, Heirs of Valentin and their successors-in-interest, are
directed to take the appropriate action for titling of the subject property.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 99853 is REVERSED. The Decision
of the Regional Trial Court and the Municipal Trial Court are AFFIRMED.
Petitioners, Heirs of Valentin Basbas and their successors-in-interest, are
likewise DIRECTED to take the appropriate action for titling of Lot No. 39
of Santa Rosa Detached Estate with dispatch, and NOTIFY this Court within
ten (10) days of such action.
SO ORDERED.
(Heirs of Basbas v. Basbas, G.R. No. 188773, [September 10, 2014], 742
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PHIL 658-680)