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Heirs of Clemena v. Heirs of Bien
September 11, 2006 Corona, J. Rañeses, Roberto Miguel O.

support its stand, may relieve consequences of his admission.





SUMMARY: Irene Bien (predecessor of the Heirs of Bien) filed a case for recovery of possession and ownership of several parcels of land, one being the land covered by Tax Dec. 5299, against Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano. One of Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano’s statements in his answer said that the land was in his exclusive possession. While the case was pending resolution, the parties were substituted by their respective heirs. The RTC ruled in favor of the Heirs of Clemeña, but subsequently reconsidered its findings, stating that none of the parties proved their ownership of the subject land. The CA affirmed the RTC, but reversed the RTC’s findings with regard to the land covered by Tax Dec. 5299. It awarded damages to the Heirs of Bien, as well as stating that it was the Heirs of Bien who had ownership over the land. When the case reached the SC, the Heirs of Clemeña claimed that they should not be liable for damages because, for one, they never took possession of the SC. The SC dismissed such claim, stating that they were bound by the statement of Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano, which amounted to a judicial admission. DOCTRINE: An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made. (Sec. 4, Rule 129, RoC) A judicial admission conclusively binds the party making it. He cannot thereafter contradict it. The exception is found only in those rare instances when the trial court, in the exercise of its discretion and because of strong reasons to

FACTS: The subject land in this case, covered with Tax Dec. No. 5299, with a surface area of more or less 20,644 sq. m., was one of three lots involved in two consolidated cases for recovery of possession and ownership filed by Irene Bien (predecessor of the respondents) against Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano (predecessor of the petitioner). Bien’s averments as found in the complaint: 1. She acquired the land by purchase from Victoriano Napa in a deed of sale. 2. Napa acquired the same lot by purchase from Francisco Barrameda who bought the land from the administrator of the estate of Pedro Clemeña y Conde. 3. Ever since Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano was removed as administrator of the said estate in 1939 deliberately continued to occupy and usurp the possession and use of the subject land. 4. The defendant has also refused to relinquish the possession of the same to the lawful owner, considering he has no right or any color of title. 5. The plaintiff (Bien) will suffer damages and in fact has suffered damages beginning Oct. 1943 at the rate of 25 cavans of palay per harvest of 50 cavans yearly. Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano’s answer: 1. The land was his and was in his exclusive possession. 2. Claim of ownership based on a sale by the estate of the late Pedro Clemeña y Conde to his predecessorin-interest. Neither of the parties lived to see the end of the trial, being succeeded by their heirs. Case was then re-raffled to the RTC of Legaspi City in Nov. 1994. Ruling of the RTC:

• Awarded the Heirs of Bien P118. Therefore. 5685] was included in the sale executed by Special Administrator Zubeldia to Jesus Salazar. the Heirs of Clemeña are declared the owners thereof. . ISSUES: WON the Heirs of Clemeña should be liable for damages awarded by the CA to the Heirs of Bien. in the exercise of discretion. b. the latter have been declared as owners thereof.00) multiplied by 27 years (1943 to 1970) and P2. known as Tax No. RULING: Yes. • Based the finding of ownership in favor of the Heirs of Bien on some documents of sale. as there was no proof that the Heirs of Clemeña entered and occupied a portion of the abovementioned property. d. a. what kind of land is this? A: Riceland. No. 1 “Q: This second parcel of land described in the SECOND cause of action which is Tax No. Q: How about from 1960 to 1970? A: At present.000 computed in the following manner: P1.00 (50 cavans multiplied by two [the number of harvests in a year] multiplied by P25. in their MR. that the [respondents] are entitled to an award of damages in the amount of P118.00) Pesos a sack. Therefore. and the deed of sale is earlier than the sale executed in favor of Barameda. 5299 was not included in the lands sold by the estate of Pedro Clemeña y Conde to Francisco Barrameda (predecessor of Irene Bien). they should be liable for damages. Ruling of the CA: Affirmed the ruling of the RTC regarding the other two parcels of land.700. no longer disputes the ownership of the Heirs of Bien as regards another parcel of land [Tax Dec. xxx xxx xxx Q: From the time you filed this case in the year 1943. 5299. 5299 (subject land in this case).” He likewise testified on the changes in the price of a cavan of palay over the years. Another parcel of land [Tax Dec.” We believe. Subsequently reconsidered its findings and ruled that both parties failed to prove their respective claims. two (2) hectares. who had been receiving the owner’s share from this property. it is Twenty Five (P25.00) multiplied by 31 years (1971-2001). The motion for reconsideration of the Heirs of Clemeña was denied. No. 5299? A: The late Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano when he was still alive and then his children after his death. • Based the amount of damages on the testimony of George Clemeña1. Q: What is the average owner’s share of the harvest? A: About fifty cavans of palay. the land belonged to the original owner. e. c.00 (50 cavans multiplied by two [the number of harvests in a year] multiplied by P15. Q: How about after 1950 to 1960? A: The same. The land covered by Tax Dec. thus: “Q: What was the current average price of palay after liberation. starting from the year 1945 up to 1950? A: About Fifteen (P15. No. declaring them as the absolute owners of the subject land.EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS 1. Ruled in favor of the Heirs of Clemeña.500. No damages are due the Heirs of Bien. The Heirs of Clemeña. 2. Q: How big is this parcel of land? A: More or less. Neither was it included in the sale executed by Special Administrator Salustiano Zubeldia in favor of Jesus Salazar (predecessor-ininterest of the Heirs of Clemeña). but reversed the ruling on the ownership of the land covered by Tax Dec.000 in damages as compensation for their having been deprived of possession and the owner’s share in the harvest.00) Pesos per cavan. 5681] involved in another case.

may relieve a party from the consequences of his admission. b. 4. Questions of this nature cannot be raised in a petition for review on certiorari as the remedy is confined to pure questions of law. in the exercise of its discretion and because of strong reasons to support its stand. i. ii. A judicial admission conclusively binds the party making it. 1. whether objection is interposed by the opposite party or not 3. Supreme Court: 1. but its contents had been supplied by much older case law. 5299 was in his exclusive possession. Orientalist Co. The Heirs of Clemeña’s contention that the land was never in their possession must be dismissed. i. Furthermore. The exception is found only in those rare instances when the trial court. 2. They never took possession of the subject lot.EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS RATIO: Arguments of the Heirs of Clemeña: They no longer dispute the ownership the subject parcel of land. 2. Pitargue: acts or facts admitted do not require proof and cannot be contradicted unless it can be shown that the admission was made through palpable mistake. However. This statement took on the character of a judicial admission as stated in Sec. i. c. they claim that they should not be liable for damages because: 1. was self-serving and therefore could not have been a proper basis for such an award. Such statement cannot be contradicted without any showing of palpable mistake. as it was based on the testimony of one of the plaintiffs. Irlanda v. namely: (1) the factual findings of the trial court . Rule 129 of the RoC. Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano’s alleged in his answer that the land with Tax Dec. Cunanan v. The evidence the CA rlied on to determine the amount of damages. They are bound by the admission of Pedro Clemeña y Zurbano. 1. the Heirs of Clemeña can no longer say that were never in possession of the land. Amparo: the allegations.: An admission made in a pleading can not be controverted by the party making such admission. He cannot thereafter contradict it. A party cannot subsequently take a position contrary to. The rule on judicial admissions found its way into black-letter law only in 1964. and all proof submitted by him contrary thereto or inconsistent therewith should simply be ignored by the court. Ramirez v. ii. statements. The Heirs of Clemeña invoke the exceptions to the doctrine. Given the above pronouncements. the issue of possession is a question of fact. or inconsistent with. a. his pleadings. or admissions contained in a pleading are conclusive as against the pleader.

. and therefore. not susceptible to an objection on the ground that it is selfserving. i. it seems. the petition is hereby DENIED. and (4) the CA failed to notice relevant facts and evidence which if properly considered would justify a different conclusion. it is true that a party’s interest may to some extent affect his credibility as a witness To insist otherwise would be the height of naiveté. is the sense in which petitioners are using it now. DISPOSITIVE: WHEREFORE. b. and it does not include testimony that he gives as a witness in court. 50912 are AFFIRMED. “Self-serving evidence. The term is employed as a weapon to devalue and discredit a party’s testimony favorable to his cause. f. CV No. The April 4. much less tried to show. Evidence of this sort is excluded on the same ground as any hearsay evidence. ii.R. that a party’s testimony favorable to himself must be disregarded on account solely of his interest in the case. i. if used with any legal sense. That. 2002 decision and October 1. This is a grave error. is a concept much misunderstood. (3) there was grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts. Now. (2) the decision sought to be reviewed is against the law and in complete disregard of the rules on evidence. the SC cannot subscribe to the view.” perhaps owing to its descriptive formulation. d. In contrast. lack of opportunity for cross-examination by the adverse party and on the consideration that its admission would open the door to fraud and fabrication. The term. 2. As already observed. As for the testimony of Gregorio Clemeña. The Heirs of Clemeña never once alleged. refers only to acts or declarations made by a party in his own interest at some place and time out of court. that his testimony was inaccurate or untrue. implicit in petitioners’ argument. being a plaintiff. Nonetheless. c. e. a party’s testimony in court is sworn and subject to cross- examination by the other party. petitioners’ objection is founded solely on the mere fact that he. the Heirs of Clemeña claim that it is self-serving and therefore an improper basis for the damages awarded to the Heirs of Bien. that is. “Self-serving evidence” is not to be taken literally to mean any evidence that serves its proponent’s interest. was a witness interested in the outcome of the case. the same must be dismissed. a.EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS and the CA are contradictory. The case does not fall within any of the above. 2002 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.