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CASE DIGEST - LAW on PROPERTY CASES

Cases on Co-Ownership: 1.
THE HEIRS OF SALUD DIZON SALAMAT, et al vs. NATIVIDAD DIZON TAMAYO, et al FACTS: Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the decision rendered by the Court of Appeals dated June 15, 1993. Agustin Dizon died intestate on May 15, 1942 leaving behind his five children Eduardo, Gaudencio, Salud, Valenta and Natividad as surviving heirs. Among the properties left by the decedent was a parcel of land in Barrio San Nicolas, Hagonoy, Bulacan, with an area of 2,188 square meters covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 10384. On January 8, 1944, Eduardo sold his hereditary rights in the sum of P3,000 to his sister Salud Dizon Salamat. The sale was evidenced by a private document bearing the signatures of his sisters Valenta and Natividad as witnesses. On June 2, 1949, Gaudencio likewise sold his hereditary rights for the sum of P4,000 to his sister Salud. The sale was evidenced by a notarized document which bore the signature of Eduardo Dizon and a certain Angela Ramos as witnesses. Gaudencio died on May 30, 1951 leaving his daughters Priscila D. Rivera and Maria D. Jocson as heirs. Sometime in 1987, petitioners instituted an action for compulsory judicial partition of real properties registered in the name of Agustin Dizon with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18 of Malolos, Bulacan. The action was prompted by the refusal of herein respondent Natividad Dizon Tamayo to agree to the formal distribution of the properties of deceased Agustin Dizon among his heirs. Respondent's refusal stemmed from her desire to keep for herself the parcel of land covered by OCT 10384 where she presently resides, claiming that her father donated it to her sometime in 1936 with the conformity of the other heirs. The subject property is also declared for taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No. 10376 in the name of respondent. The trial court noted that the alleged endowment which was made orally by the deceased Agustin Dizon to herein respondent partook of the nature of a donation which required the observance of certain formalities set by law. Petitioners contend that Lot 2557, described and covered by OCT 10384 in the name of the heirs of Agustin Dizon is part of the Dizon estate while respondent claims that her father donated it to her sometime in 1936 with the consent of her co-heirs. In support of her claim, respondent Natividad presented a private document of conformity which was allegedly signed and executed by her elder brother, Eduardo, in 1936. Petitioners, however, question the authenticity of the document inasmuch as it is marred by unexplained erasures and alterations. ISSUE: Whether or not Lot 2557 located in Barrio San Nicolas, Hagonoy, Bulacan, part of the Dizon estate. HELD/RULING: Art 749 of the Civil Code reads: In order that the donation of an immovable may be valid, it must be made in a public document, specifying therein the property donated and the value of the charges which the donee must satisfy. The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or in a separate public document, unless it is done during the lifetime of the donor. If the acceptance is made in a separate instrument, the donor shall be notified thereof in an authentic form and this step shall be noted in both instruments. It is clear from Article 749 that a transfer of real property from one person to another cannot take effect as a donation unless embodied in a public document. In any case, assuming that Agustin really made the donation to respondent, albeit orally, respondent cannot still claim ownership over the property. While it is true that a void donation may be the basis of ownership which may ripen into title by prescription, it is well settled that possession, to constitute the foundation of a prescriptive right, must be adverse and under a claim of title. Respondent was never in adverse and continuous possession of the property. It is undeniable that petitioners and respondent, being heirs of the deceased, are co-owners of the properties left by the latter. A co-ownership is a form of a trust, with each owner being a trustee for each other and possession of a co-owner shall not be regarded as adverse to other co-owner but in fact is beneficial to them. Mere actual possession by one will not give rise to the inference that the possession was adverse because a co-owner is, after all, entitled to possession of the property. The elements in order that a co-owner's possession may be deemed adverse to the cestui que trust or the co-owner are: (1) that he has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation amounting to ouster of the cestui que trust or other co-owners (2) that such positive acts or repudiation have been made known to the cestui que trust or other co-owners and (3) that the evidence thereon must be clear and convincing. Not one of the aforesaid requirements is present in the case at bar.

Finally, the fact that the subject property is declared for taxation purposes in the name of respondent who pays realty taxes thereon under Tax Declaration No. 14376 is of no moment. It is well settled that tax declarations or realty tax payments are not conclusive evidence of ownership. 15 As regards the improvements introduced by the respondent on the questioned lot, the parties should be guided by Article 500 of the Civil Code which states that: "Upon partition, there shall be a mutual accounting for benefits received and reimbursements for expenses made. . . ."

2.
JULITA GO ONG, FOR HERSELF AND AS JUDICIAL GUARDIAN OF STEVEN GO ONG, petitioners, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ALLIED BANKING CORPORATION and the CITY SHERIFF OF QUEZON CITY, respondents. FACTS: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the March 21, 1986 Decision * of the Court of Appeals in AC-G.R. CV No. 02635, "Julita Ong etc. vs. Allied Banking Corp. et al." affirming, with modification, the January 5, 1984 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q-35230. The uncontroverted facts of this case, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows: Two parcels of land in Quezon City identified as Lot No. 12, with an area of 1960.6 sq. m. and Lot No. 1, with an area of 3,660.8 sq. m. are covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 188705 in the name of "Alfredo Ong Bio Hong married to Julita Go Ong ". Alfredo Ong Bio Hong died on January 18, 1975 and Julita Go Ong was appointed administrator of her husband's estate in Civil Case No. 107089. The letters of administration was registered on TCT No. 188705 on October 23, 1979. Thereafter, Julita Go Ong sold Lot No. 12 to Lim Che Boon, and TCT No. 188705 was partially cancelled and TCT No. 262852 was issued in favor of Lim Che Boon covering Lot No. 12. On June 8, 1981 Julita Go Ong through her attorney-in-fact Jovita K. Yeo mortgaged Lot No. 1 to the Allied Banking Corporation to secure a loan of P900,000.00 obtained by JK Exports, Inc. The mortgage was registered on TCT No. 188705 on the same date with the following notation: "... mortgagee's consent necessary in case of subsequent alienation or encumbrance of the property". On the loan there was due the sum of P828,000.00 and Allied Banking Corporation tried to collect it from Julita Go Ong. Hence, the complaint alleging nullity of the contract for lack of judicial approval which the bank had allegedly promised to secure from the court. In response thereto, the bank averred that it was plaintiff Julita Go Ong who promised to secure the court's approval, adding that Julita Go Ong informed the defendant that she was processed the sum of P300,000.00 by the JK Exports, Inc. which will also take charge of the interest of the loan. ISSUE: Whether or not the mortgage constituted over the parcel of land under petitioner's administration is null and void for want of judicial approval. HELD/RULING: In brief, the lower court found: (1) that the property under the administration of petitioner the wife of the deceased, is a community property and not the separate property of the latter; (2) that the mortgage was constituted in the wife's personal capacity and not in her capacity as administrator; and (3) that the mortgage affects the wife's share in the community property and her inheritance in the estate of her husband. Thus, in confirming the findings of the lower court, as supported by law and the evidence, the Court of Appeals aptly ruled that Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not applicable, since the mortgage was constituted in her personal capacity and not in her capacity as administrator of the estate of her husband. Consequently, in the case at bar, the trial court and the Court of Appeals cannot be faulted in ruling that the questioned mortgage constituted on the property under administration, by authority of the petitioner, is valid, notwithstanding the lack of judicial approval, with respect to her conjugal share and to her hereditary rights. The fact that what had been mortgaged was in custodia legis is immaterial, insofar as her conjugal share and hereditary share in the property is concerned for after all, she was the ABSOLUTE OWNER thereof. This ownership by hers is not disputed, nor is there any claim that the rights of the government (with reference to taxes) nor the rights of any heir or anybody else have been prejudiced or impaired.

3.
FERNANDO MONTAO LOPEZ vs. PEDRO MARTINEZ ILUSTRE FACTS: On December 26, 1902, Francisco Martinez and the defendant, Pedro Martinez, his son, were the owners as tenants in common of two separate parcels of land in Calle Dulumbayan, in the city of Manila, each being the owner of an undivided one-half of each said tracts of land. Francisco Martinez conveyed to the plaintiff his undivided half interest in both said tracts of land. This deed contained a clause giving Martinez the right to repurchase within one year. He did not repurchase it, and on December 28, 1903, the plaintiff caused the proper marginal entry to be made upon the books in the registry of property, and afterwards brought this action in March, 1904, asking for a partition of the two lots of land, between him and the defendant, and ask for his share of the rents of the said properties from December 26, 1903. On June 15, 1903, Francisco Martinez and the defendant, his son, made a voluntary partition of the twenty-eight tracts of land, which partition was approved by the Court of First Instance of Manila. These twenty-eight tracts of land had been acquired by Francisco Martinez during his marriage with his wife, Doa Germana Ilustre. In this partition the two parcels of land in question in this case fell to the defendant, and his claim is that by this partition plaintiff lost all his interest in the property. Judgment was entered in the court below in favor of plaintiff as prayed for in his complaint, and the defendant has brought the case here by bill of exceptions. ISSUE:

Whether or not Fernando Montao Lopez is entitled to the share of Francisco Martinez in the two parcels of land conveyed to him. HELD/RULING: Article 399 of the Civil Code is as follows: Every co-owner shall have full ownership of his part and in the fruits and benefits derived therefrom, and he therefore may alienate, assign, or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, unless personal rights are in question. But the effect of the alienation or mortgage, with regard to the co-owners, shall be limited to the share which may be awarded him in the division on the dissolution of the community. This article gives the owner of an undivided interest in the property the right to freely sell and dispose of it that is, of his undivided interest. If he is the owner of an undivided half of a tract of land, he has a right to sell and convey an undivided half, but he has no right to divide the lot into two parts, and convey the whole of one part by metes and bounds. All that Francisco Martinez undertook to do in this case was to convey his undivided interest in these two properties. This he had a perfect right to do, in accordance with the terms of said article. That declares simply that when the property is divided the purchaser gets an interest only in that part which may be assigned to him. Each tract was separate and distinct from all the others. The parties had a right to deal with one lot without any reference to the other twenty-seven. The fact that the defendant acquired title to all of them by inheritance from his mother did not make them physically one tract of land, so that a conveyance by the son of his undivided half interest in one of these lots would amount to a conveyance of a divided part of a tract of land held by him in common with his father.