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G.R. No.

184109, Feb 1, 2012

CELERINO E. MERCADO, - versus - BELEN ESPINOCILLA AND FERDINAND ESPINOCILLA,

Facts:
Doroteo Espinocilla owned a parcel of land, Lot No. 552, (570 sq. m.) at Sorsogon. After he died, his five children, Salvacion, Aspren, Isabel, Macario, and Dionisia divided it equally among themselves. Later, Dionisia died (no descendants) and Macario took possession of Dionisias share. In an affidavit of transfer of real property dated November 1948, Macario claimed that Dionisia had donated her share to him in May 1945.
August 1977, Macario and his daughters Betty and Saida sold 225 sq. m. to his son Roger, husband of respondent Belen and father of respondent Ferdinand. March 1985, Roger Espinocilla sold 114 sq. m. to Caridad Atienza. (So in Lot No. 552: Belen Espinocilla= 109 sq. m., Caridad Atienza = 120 sq. m., Caroline Yu = 209 sq. m., and petitioner, Salvacions son = 132 sq. m). Petitioner sued the respondents to recover two portions: an area of 28.58 sq. m. which he bought from Aspren and another 28.5 sq. m. which allegedly belonged to him but was. He claims it must be returned to him. He avers that he is entitled to own and possess 171 sq. m. having inherited 142.5 sq. m. from his mother Salvacion (Doroteo= 114sq m + Dionisia 28.5 sq m) and bought 28.5 sq. m. from his aunt Aspren. He occupies only 132 sq. m., he claims that respondents encroach on his share by 39 sq. m.

Respondents claim that they rightfully possess the land they occupy by virtue of acquisitive prescription and that there is no basis for petitioners claim of encroachment.
RTC: 1. Petitioner entitled to 171 sq. m. The RTC computed that Salvacion, Aspren, Isabel and Macario each inherited 114 sq. m. from Doroteo and 28.5 sq. m. from Dionisia. 2. Macario was not entitled to 228 sq. m. Thus, respondents must return 39 sq. m. to petitioner who occupies only 132 sq. m.13 3. Macarios affidavit is void (no public document of donation) 4. Accordingly, Macario cannot acquire said shares by prescription. 5. Partially declared the nullity of the Deed of Absolute Sale by Macario, Betty and Saida to Roger as it affects the portion or the share belonging to Salvacion CA reversed the RTC decision and dismissed petitioners complaint on the ground that extraordinary acquisitive prescription has already set in in favor of respondents since petitioners complaint was filed only on July 13, 2000.

Issue: Whether or not the petitioners action to recover the subject portion is barred by prescription. Petitioner concludes that if a person obtains legal title to property by fraud or concealment, courts of equity will impress upon the title a so-called constructive trust in favor of the defrauded party.

Held:
We affirm the CA ruling dismissing petitioners complaint on the ground of prescription. Prescription, as a mode of acquiring ownership and other real rights over immovable property, is concerned with lapse of time in the manner and under conditions laid down by law, namely, that the possession should be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted, and adverse. Acquisitive prescription of real rights may be ordinary or extraordinary. In extraordinary prescription, ownership and other real rights over immovable property are acquired through uninterrupted adverse possession for 30 years without need of title or of good faith. Respondents uninterrupted adverse possession for 55 years of 109 sq. m. of Lot No. 552 was established. Macario occupied Dionisias share in 1945 although his claim that D ionisia donated it to him in 1945 was only made in a 1948 affidavit. We also agree with the CA that Macarios possession of Dionisias share was public and adverse since his other co-owners, his three other sisters, also occupied portions of Lot No. 552. Indeed, the 1977 sale made by Macario and his two daughters in favor of his son Roger confirms the adverse nature of Macarios possession because said sale of 225 sq. m. was an act of ownership. Roger also exercised an act of ownership when he sold 114 sq. m. to Caridad Atienza. It was only in the year 2000, upon receipt of the summons to answer petitioners complaint, that respondents peaceful possession of the remaining portion was interrupted. By then, however, extraordinary acquisitive prescription has already set in in favor of respondents. That the RTC found Macarios 1948 affidavit void is of no moment. Extraordinary prescription is unconcerned with Macarios title or good faith. Petitioner himself admits the adverse nature of respondents possession with his assertion that Macarios fraudulent acquisition of Dionisias share created a constructive trust. Prescription may supervene even if the trustee does not repudiate the relationship. Moreover, the CA correctly dismissed petitioners complaint as an action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust prescribes in 10 years from the time the right of action accrues( extinctive prescription), where rights and actions are lost by the lapse of time. Petitioners action for recovery of possession having been filed 55 years after Macario occupied

Dionisias share, it is also barred by extinctive prescription. The CA while condemning Macarios
fraudulent act of depriving his three sisters of their shares in Dionisias share, equally emphasized the fact that Macarios sisters wasted their opportunity to question his acts.